THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 20
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| This is my story of my journey into and out of Mormonism. I feel a need to speak publicly about my experiences, both to show my support for this website, and for the benefit of those who may be researching and considering joining Mormonism, as well as to give myself the voice that was very firmly denied me while a member of the Mormon church. I also feel a need to write this story in the hope of giving myself some sort of closure.
I did not grow up in a religious environment. My parents never presented my sister or I with a particular religious or philosophic belief. We were encouraged to study hard, be sociable and pursue interests, and to think about a future career.
Around the age of 16 I became interested in exploring religion. Maybe I felt some of the pressures of school, getting into college and then work. Maybe it was all a bit daunting, I don't know. Some of the things about the world, like rising crime rates, caused me some anxiety. I realize now my concerns were normal and very common amongst teenagers. But at the time I guess I wanted some reassurance that there was more to this world - that if things went badly here, there would be something better to look forward to.
Anyway, I bought a book on different world religions, and began talking to school friends about their religious beliefs. One day in the tenth grade a Mormon girl moved to my high school. We were getting to know each other and, as per my mind set at that time, I eventually asked her what her religious beliefs, if any, were. Being Mormon (which I really didn't know much about other than that they knocked on the doors of peoples homes dressed like salesmen), she was more than happy to open up.
They play a good game, giving you faith-promoting tidbits of information to draw you in. I had one or two discussions with missionaries, and was seriously considering baptism. Around this time my parents found out what was happening and put a firm stop to any more missionary discussions, telling me Mormons could have more than one wife, and that they were trying to brainwash me into joining their cult. We're not even from Utah, but they said Mormons have a big database and once your name, address, phone number and date of birth is on it they never take it off.
At the time, I thought their reaction was completely and utterly ridiculous. I thought their comments about this supposed database were paranoid. Now that I have left Mormonism, I see that they knew exactly what they were talking about and that I should have taken their advice (an easier thing to admit in your 30's than when you in you're 16). Anyway, they absolutely forbade me to have anything to do with the Mormon Church. Home was not a happy environment at this time because of my interest in Mormonism, such that I decided not to join the cult at this time.
Time passed. I finished high school, went to college and then three years of graduate school. I was looking forward to finally finishing full time study and going out into the world, getting career-related jobs, traveling, maybe living overseas for awhile.
One day I was home studying for my final exams when two Mormon missionaries knocked on the door. Over the years I hadn't completely forgotten my earlier Mormon investigations, and thought that maybe one day, if the time was right, I might join. For about my last year of graduate school, I'd been thinking about it more and more. So, when the missionaries knocked on the door, I was ready for more discussions. I carefully considered the doctrines presented to me by the missionaries, and about 11 months later was baptized (it was October 2000 and I was 25).
I want to say quite clearly that I only considered the information put in front of me by the missionaries. For some reason, I did not go to the many sources of information out there, and certainly knew nothing about Mormonism's true history. I never at any time even considered reading ex-Mormon literature, or even books or other material on Mormonism written by impartial third parties. If I had, I obviously might never have joined. But either way at least I would have been better informed.
In the 7.5 years since baptism, I have often wondered WHY I didn’t do my homework properly. Why I was willing to get baptized, and to give that church my time and money without thoroughly researching its background from all available sources. I think I simply wanted to join a church, and at the time, due to my lack of proper research, this one seemed like the best of a bad bunch. The Mormons I met around the time of my baptism seemed to think I was special, having grown up in the “world” but still able to recognize spiritual “truth” when I saw it. Such a notion is silly. I now know full well that I simply wanted to subscribe to a religious or philosophical viewpoint. I didn’t research Mormonism fully, because when its glossy, palatable, edited version was presented to me by its well-trained salespeople, I decided I liked what I saw on the surface and didn’t really want to research it, or any other religions or philosophies, more fully. It was about convenience. It wasn’t about feeling the “Spirit”. I can honestly say I’ve never felt the “Spirit” within the confines of Mormonism. I simply wanted to believe that the glossy version of Mormonism put to me was true it’s as simple as that.
Anyway, within a few weeks of my baptism (i.e. about 3), the glossy veneer of Mormonism started to wear off for me. When people stopped being quite so nice to the “new convert”, and were busy trying to be nice to the next new convert (I could be wrong but there seemed to be more convert baptisms when I joined in October 2000 than there is now; by the time I left in mid-2007, it seemed to me that pretty much the only new converts were lonely foreign students and migrants who didn’t know many people in their new country), I was able to take a step back and look at the world I had recently entered in a more impartial way. I had no idea when I committed to baptism that, in reality, my so-call new “religion” wouldn’t even be about God or Christ. In reality, it was about being utterly consumed physically and mentally by Mormon culture. That regardless of any official statements made by the highest echelons of the Mormon leadership, I would feel extreme peer pressure to really only socialize with other Mormonsthrough making only new Mormon friends and really only attending church-related social activities, and that I would feel extreme pressure to only date and marry a Mormon man. Nothing was specifically said, but it really seemed to me during my 7.5 years of membership, that many Mormon men really do think they are superior to women (or course, a lot of non-Mormon men have that same attitude problem). The attitude seems to be that you’re just sitting around waiting to find a husband. As a woman in the Mormon Church, you’re social status increases a little if you’re married with kids but at the end of the day the men are always eager to remind you that they have all the control and make all the decisions. Even some of the women look down on women who aren’t married with kids.
I have never bragged about my academic or professional achievements. But if any of those supposed “priesthood holders” found out about them, such as a home teacher, the honest truth is I often detected hostility in their attitude towards me, being a woman, pursuing such things.
In general, in the Mormon Church, the attitude towards a woman having a lot of education or a professional job is that you’re just killing time until you get married and have kids, or you’re one of the “sweet spirits” who may not find a husband at all and needs to fill in her time and support herself. I’ve never considered myself either. I’ve always thought of myself as just someone trying to do her best in this life.
In the Mormon Church, if you’re a single woman, it is truly implied by the culture of the church that you have nothing to offer the world or the church except to get married and have lots of kids. What you want to achieve as an individual is considered irrelevant. This attitude is utter nonsense. There are all kinds of people in this world young, old, male, and female, black, white everyone is equally important and valuable and has a responsibility to make a contribution. It is appalling that in the Mormon Church a 12 year old male deacon has more social status than a single 40 year old woman (or even a single 40 year old man single men over a certain age are looked down on too in That So-Called Church).
I was never able to feel happy in the Mormon culture, and therefore church, since the Mormon Church is nothing more than that a social construct; a large group of people living within the confines of a set of strict social rules. The religious aspect that was marketed to me at the outset turned out to be mere puffery.
The Mormon Church is not about drawing closer to God or Christ, no matter how much “they” say it is. It is about control being dominated by an oppressive culture.
As a woman, especially single and a convert, it was clear to me I was never going to be truly accepted by my Mormon peers. And, likewise, I could never accept or fully approve of the cultural and social practices of the Mormon Church.
In various wards I repeatedly asked for a calling. I was rarely extended one. And it wasn’t about worthiness issues. I consistently held a temple recommend and also made a point of introducing myself to new bishops). When I asked why I hadn’t been offered a calling, the leader would pause before the stock standard response was nothing more than they hadn’t been inspired to extend one to me. I know this is just crap an excuse. It was obvious from the looks on their faces and their demeanor that I had taken them by surprise and that they hadn’t considered me for anything because I wasn’t high on their list of priorities. Again, it comes down to being a woman, single and a convert, and not part of any church clique. (Indeed, in 7.5 years, I was never even asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting, even though a couple of bishops at least know my work occasionally involves a bit of public speaking).
I did try YSA wards for awhile, but I thought they were even more hypocritical than family wards. I can assure you that for the most part in YSA wards , the emphasis is not on religion, it’s on the guys and girls checking each other out. Everyone is as horny as anything, and some women literally spend hours getting ready for church hoping to look their best to impress some returned missionary they’ve been lusting after.
I never looked hard for a boyfriend in the Mormon Church. I was never able to connect with them. Other than the general weirdness of most Mormons, the guys seemed inexperienced in a lot of ways (and I don’t mean sexually the notion that all unmarried Mormon men and women have never been sexually active is crap). They just didn’t seem to be engaged with the rest of the world. They seemed to only be capable of talking about Mormonism. By they same token though, I was dismayed at the changes in my personality when around Mormons. I would become very quiet and seemingly submissive, afraid to voice an opinion on anything.
However, now that I am no longer Mormon, I can honestly say I am so glad I did not marry one or marry in the temple. What a dreadful experience it would have been. My parents wouldn’t have been allowed in, and they would have been devastated over that, and I know I would have felt a lot of guilt about it. Wearing those ugly robes, cranky volunteers checking you’re dress to see if its “modest”, telling you to hurry up, a sealer you don’t even know. I’ve read about temple weddings on this site and in general they sound like horrible experiences. A wedding day should be a beautiful, intimate day, where the bride and groom are free to invite the people they really want to be there (or even a good time for two in Las Vegas if that’s what suits you). Yet the Mormon Church uses intense emotional manipulation and mind control to get its members to marry in the temple, rather than a civil ceremony, or to not even have a proper civil ceremony following the temple, using a policy which deliberately excludes supposedly“unworthy” relatives. It’s just disgusting.
This brings me to my own temple experience the Endowment. What a terrible experience. I was literally traumatized afterwards by the weirdness of it all - the robes and especially the garments. The garments are so unattractive, and obviously not designed by women for women. For two days afterwards, I would literally be on the verge of tears getting dressed and undressed when I glimpsed myself in the mirror wearing the garments it was all too weird. The whole temple experience put me in mind of a strange secret sect. TBMs tend not to talk about the temple in much detail, but if this site is anything to go by, most Mormons, TBM or not, find the temple deeply disturbing the first time through.
I left July 2007, after nearly seven years of official membership. I haven’t officially resigned yet, but in my mind I am no longer a Mormon. I just lost heart. I’d never felt that elusive “spirit” Mormons brag about. I’m convinced most of them haven’t either. One day, I simply decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I had been on a fool’s errand since before baptism. The Mormon Church brought me no closer to knowledge of God. If anything, it has certainly tainted my view of organized religion.
I’m just going about my business now, my life. Life is never ever going to be perfect. But it’s so great to no longer be a part of a culture that is constantly trying to tear you down, telling you you’ll never be good enough because you’re a sinner, or a woman, or didn’t marry in the temple, or whatever the list is endless in Mormondom.
I do not believe nonsense such as whether you have an alcoholic drink on a Friday night after work, what underwear you wear, whether you enjoy tea or a coffee for breakfast, whether you always attend all church meetings every Sunday, is in any way a measure of a person’s worth.
I can honestly say I was happier before I joined the Mormon Church, and am certainly much happier now I have left it. Indeed, it was only after I felt I had nothing more to give to the Mormon Church and could no longer tolerate its attempts to crush my self-esteem that I actively went looking for sites such as this. In so many ways, it was a relief to learn more about the true history and nature of Mormonism, including the similarities between the Mormon temple ceremony and the Masonic one, Joseph Smith becoming a Mason a few months before setting out the Mormon temple ceremony, the Book of Abraham papyrus, the true history of polygamy and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s teenaged wives, and more. Discovering all this was in so many ways a relief it confirmed the deep-seated conviction I had held deep inside for seven years and only finally accepted just before I found this site that Mormonism isn’t true.
As a woman in the Mormon Church you feel gagged. There is absolutely no spiritual or intellectual development for women in Mormonism.
As the weeks and months have passed, I know leaving was the right decision. For the first time since baptism, I felt like myself again - probably because I felt free again to forge my own identity. No more Morg implying I’m “just” a woman. For the first time in seven and a half years, I could breathe a sigh of relief. I truly felt a bit of a weight lifted from my shoulders; my zest for life has improved.
As far as religion goes, I’m not about to join any other church or religious group. I don’t know if I ever will. I’m not denying the possible existence of God or Christ or some other deity; I just don’t think true knowledge of such a deity is to be found within the Mormon Church.
Life’s an interesting journey; definitely more interesting without the shackles of Mormonism.
| I thought my family was pretty normal. Then I started really experiencing life outside of the "family", and realized that my normal, and my husband's normal were similar but far different (his family didn't see all the physical abuse I had, but the verbal and mental went WAY DEEP). While reading Carolyn Jessop's book, listening to the escapees, I realize that the reason I thought "we" were normal, is because it WAS normal within our social group!
Things that remind me of how "weird" or abused I was that I hear from the (f)LDS:
Baby breaking - teaching you NOT to cry. (Ours was different, but crying was still NOT ALLOWED, and thought to be sinful, and showed we weren't perfect)
As children, we were a reflection on how well my parents (especially my mother) parented. If we were "good" she had done a beautiful job. If we didn't toe the line, she must've done something wrong. Yet it was all OUR fault for being so rebellious.
Can't talk about what goes on behind the closed doors of our home. (Might accidentally spill the beans about our misbehavior... or mom's abuse!)
Severe spankings (beatings) because of misbehavior. Then have to hug mom because she loves us so and really doesn't want to give us those spankings.
Throwing kids across the room... I can't tell you how many times I saw that happen. But at least we were only thrown ONTO the bed. But as an adult... I have nightmares about it still.
Can't wear certain clothes because they aren't modest enough. Yet, I was appalled when it was my ultra conservative mother who bought and insisted I wear a French cut swimming suit!
Can't share with others some of our beliefs because they wouldn't understand them and would mock them (polygamy, wearing of garments, receiving visions and promptings - even among the "saints" you couldn't share those, because we "weren't allowed" to have those promptings).
Can't wear make up before a certain age (in the FLDS, they weren't supposed to be wearing any at all...). Don't get the proper training on how to apply it either.
Can't get a ride any where with the opposite gender....
No "fun" on Sunday. (I remember someone saying it was SUNday, there was no "F" in Sunday. So instead of having fun, we were to worship the SON)
Not allowed to socialize with those outside of our religion because they would serve drinks and drugs at their parties, or would have sex...or (what ever was against our religious teachings). No one out of our religion really loved us or cared about us. People who were outside of our religion were being controlled by the Devil and it was our job to teach them the truth so that they could repent and be saved...
Blindly accepting what the "Prophet" or the apostles have said. And you must follow ALL their teachings...even when they contradicted themselves. (When you point out a contradiction, you were told that you are just misinterpreting, or were misunderstanding what was being said, or better yet, just, "FOLLOW THE PROPHET".)
Oh yeah, and the saying, "If you leave, you will be condemned to HELL!"
A phrase that I've heard and read really struck home too. Carolyn said it in her book, and Mary Mackert said in her interview. They both said they felt like they would rather be in hell than be in heaven with the life they had. Isn't that the way we all pretty much were as we discovered the truth about our religion?
If that last statement doesn't PROVE there's brainwashing, manipulation, and abuse, I just don't know that anything ever will. In the throws of the abuse, you don't even know you ARE IN HELL! You have been taught that you are practicing for heaven!
| I am thinking about all the ridiculous things I believed as a mormon.
First it was simple ignorance. I was BIC, raised in the church, went to BYU. I was taught from a young age that god wanted me to be a mormon, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam (WTF does that mean anyway? If I'm good enough, Jesus will turn me into a ray of light? Creepy). I grew up in Utah. Everyone was a mormon.
When I got to college, it was more like "faith." I didn't really believe, but if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, and exercise it (how the hell do you exercise faith? Or a mustard seed?), then god will reveal all things to you. I didn't believe, but I wanted to. There were family expectations, everyone was doing it.
When I went to grad school, it was more like fear tho. I told myself that it was nice to go to institute and have absolute truths instead of the relative "truths" I was learning in critical theory. I told myself that it was nice to not have to analyze everything in church, to take a break. To just believe.
But it wasn't. I felt like an idiot. I felt like I was justifying my beliefs to others. And I knew that they were neither justifiable nor properly beliefs (does belief once removed count?). I DID NOT want to know.
Cognitive dissonance hit me hard at this point. I felt like I was coming apart. I actually wrote a poem that sounds like schizophrenia. And I still thought that is what god wanted. I was disturbed by what I was learning and discovering about the church. I was disturbed by my self-honesty in how the church made me feel. I was disturbed by my self.
I hate the word faith. What is that song: "Faith is knowing the sun will rise"? That is NOT faith. That is logic based on experience and knowledge of how our universe works. Or the bible dictionary definition: Faith is belief in things which are not seen, which are true. Problem is only the first part of that definition is verifiable. K, so faith is belief in shit you can't see. How do you know if it's true? People have faith in UFOs, in Buddha, in cheating spouses, in wicca.
I learned that faith is the opposite of fear. But it isn't: fear is a component of faith. You wouldn't have faith if you weren't motivated by fear: fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of divine retribution. Fear of family rejecting you. Fear of truth, of knowledge, of falling away, of letting satan deceive you.
Imagination and whimsy are endearing. As a child. I had imaginary friends; I'm sure many children do. But you get to an age where you become mentally imbalanced if you still believe in imaginary friends. It's called delusions, and it can get you locked up.
I have Christian friends who, as they rejoice in my escape, but still encourage me to come to Jesus, to have faith, that god will help me through this trying time. They remind me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and reject all Christianity. But there is no baby; only dirty bathwater, and I feel completely justified in rinsing it down the drain.
| One remaining "chink in my armor" is my vulnerability to seductive people and their abilities to manufacture needs in me that I didn't even know I had. My friends so clearly see right through them... and then compassionately wait to see if I'm able to figure things out. It's been embarrassing that I'm still so easily led, but realizing it's not my fault and releasing that false sense of guilt has been a huge step forward for me.
I grew up being lied to, which is par for the course in so many families... but worse, I grew up being lied to in a place that claimed to be a safe and caring "hospital for sinners," a place where I was told that I could safely let down all my defenses because "God would never allow a profit to stand" if Mormonism was fake. [Just don't point out that the Mormon God let JS be killed as a Mormon witness to what a lying, horndog con artist he was, ok?] Like everyone else, I wasn't converted to Mormonism as I grew up, but instead, I was seduced into the false sense of eternal security that Mormonism so cunningly and craftily sells.
Mormonism seduced me by manufacturing a need, an insatiable hunger for the alleged ability to control my eternal future, and then promising to fill that hunger with their (stolen from the Masons) temple rituals that "only" cost a "paltry" 10++% of all my +gross+ income. Mormonism convinced me that I had powers beyond *all* the nonmember mortals and immortals... I had powers rivaling those of God himself! I could control my post-mortal progression and thus I could control how God treated me!
But, wait... let's just stop and think this through for a minute. Why would I or anyone need those alleged powers? Couldn't I trust the Mormon God to do like his son said and "Love me as [Jesus] had loved everyone" since God and Jesus were allegedly "one" in thought, word and deed? But, if I couldn't trust God or Jesus, someone was lying... was it God? Was it Jesus? Or was it, God forbid, the Mormons themselves who were lying about God and Jesus and everything else?!
Mormons of course never come right out and and openly discuss the full depth of what they are selling because, one, everyone would then clearly see that Mormonism is based on the god of this world's vanity and egoic tendencies, and two, Mormons are too busy making every other Mormon feel so insecure that the only way any Mormon can feel the least bit of safety is to continually strive to control God.
I don't know about you, but I never wanted those powers, especially not the ability to control God, and I don't know anyone who really does. I have a hard enough time trying to decide what to wear to work every morning let alone trying to decide how can I control God today!
When we get right down to it, isn't everything about Mormonism all about vying with God for control of our souls? If I were doing everything the Mormons told me to do, wasn't I promised that I could be a Queen in the eternities, outranking even Jesus himself as he is just a "Prince" of Peace?
Does this manufactured need and resultant hunger to wrest control of our souls from the vicious Mormon God set all Mormons on a path of being gods unto themselves instead of being able to trust the God they worship... or trust anyone, really, especially and including themselves?
What is your take on this?
| I left the LDS way of life eight years ago. It took me about two years to get the whole thing out of my system, though it only took a couple of weeks to go from, "Why don't I like going to church?" to "Wait a minute ... this is totally false! Oh thank god!"
I remember one moment when I was standing on the stairs, halfway between one level and the next. I looked out the window that ran along the stairway, at the beautiful green trees glistening with dew, and I realized I was finally free to love the universe. I felt joy.
Another profound moment came to me when I was watching a brilliant documentary about the universe and the commentator said that someday (billions of years from now), the universe as we know it would no longer exist. Our world, our memories, everything we'd done or felt or were would be gone forever. Some people would find this terrifying; I thought it was deeply profound. I realized that I live for now, for the people in my life now, for the world I influence now. I didn't have to waste now struggling to make an eternal later, one that would drag on forever. There is only today. I love today. I can give love today. What a fabulous realization.
I am now free to love unconditionally such a diverse group of people as non-religious friends, Catholic co-workers, romance writers, gay relatives, eccentric artists, and a "Non-Mormon!" spouse. I don't judge them as imperfect or waste time trying to make them as bland as everyone else. I get to spend all my time enjoying their existence!
Mormonism only factors into my life when still-in relatives mention it, or when curious friends ask me about it. It makes amazing dinner conversation, as even the simplest and most ordinary-seeming beliefs leave their jaws hanging open. (Yes, magic underwear. Yes, hot drinks are mostly evil. Yes, they *assign* you talks. Yes, God always chooses an old white guy living in Utah to tell everyone on the planet what to do.)
The memories are fading now. I couldn't sneak into a church and fit seamlessly in anymore. I'd forget the "right" words. I'd get mad when someone was treated rudely based on their clothing or their language. I'd probably wear something that couldn't fit bra straps under it, much less underwear with sleeves. I'd fall asleep during a testimony. (Okay, so I'd still fit in a little bit.)
I no longer spend hours each day trying to figure out if my every move is right or wrong, if God disapproves of yet another thought that's crossed my mind unbidden, if even my dreams are a sin.
I don't spend hours judging who is righteous enough for me to associate with, or who is unrighteous enough that I should bring casserole to their house and invite them to church.
I don't give tithing money to a Bishop who has a very large house and too many cars for his salary range, just to watch him turn down aid to a family barely holding on to their humble home.
But mostly, I don't feel like a hypocrite.
An ugly, lying, hidden hypocrite who constantly bends over backwards in my own brain to make sense of the stuff I know doesn't make sense, the stuff I know doesn't fit the real world I see around me. A sinful shame breathing filth every moment of the day, terrified to touch anyone for fear of dirtying my hands further. Someone who sees the shadows of hell in every corner, and the lust of evil behind every outsider's eye.
I can still remember those feelings. But they're distant, fading. Part of a mythology long since dead in my world. I live in another world now, one where I can look up at the stars and see a billion mysterious points of light. I know nothing about them or myself -- and I have only a brief, beautiful life to study them.
How utterly magnificent.
| I recall looking back, with some wonder, at those who were, or are, certain the Mormon church was true.
And I saw some, and knew some, who simply had moved (in their own minds) beyond mere faith. They had "knowledge." They were as certain the church is true as I am certain the sun will rise tomorrow.
There were a couple of General Authorities who had or have, this absolute certainty.
Bruce McConkie, never doubted. I honestly think he was convinced that the Mormon church is true. He never wavered. He was dogmatic, unbending, and totally sure.
McConkie thought nothing of smashing doubters-- or backsliders-- like a bug. Ask George Pace-- and he wasn't even a backslider.
McConkie would blow into a meeting, and attack the doubter the heretic, and the weak member. He was like John Brown of old, the fierce old warrior, who never gave an inch.
Boyd Packer is the same. He entertains no doubts, and does not hesitate to smash anyone who doubts his certainty. He is dogmatic, arrogant, unbending, and unfeeling. He views himself as the purveyor of the word, and all had best listen---at their own peril.
He does not care how unattractive his attitude is. He does not care who fears him, or dislikes him. He is certain.
I had a seminary teacher who was much the same. The man was very well-read in Mormonism. He had studied and absorbed the "Journal of Discourses." He had no doubts about any of it. He knew about everything most Mormons don't really know----animal sacrifice, blood atonement, the necessity of polygamy. He never taught it, but I could tell he believed the "Adam /God theory."
I had a missionary companion who was sure . He truly knew the church is true. It was total acceptance, and total submission. I know he never changed. He could be utterly ruthless with others, and reported a leader at the LTM in Hawaii to his father---who took the complaint to Bruce R. This kid was plugged in, and totally committed. He was humorless, arrogant, and self-serving. He was impossible to like, or even be around for long. He drove three companions in a row to fury and anger. And he could not understand why. What was wrong with them?
How do people reach this level of devotion? I honestly never could understand. I always had doubts. The more I learned, the more I doubted.
How does one go about overcoming reality, and the friction that comes from
thinking? Is it genetic? How do people do it? I never knew.
I used to envy, in a certain way, some who had that certainty. It must be splendid to know, for sure, that Mormonism is true. Or so I thought.
Now, I wish someone had told them, in Cromwell's words, " I beseech you, in the bowls, of Christ, think it possible you might be mistaken."
| 30 years ago today I attended a “live session” at the Idaho Falls Temple for the first time in my life. I had been 19 years old for all of one month.
My mom had flown out from New York to be with me for my wedding, scheduled for the next morning. Of course, she wouldn’t be allowed to actually attend the wedding, but she was determined to be in the general vicinity as I made a commitment to spend eternity with a man I had just met that January and had dated since March.
A woman who had been my heritage halls residence advisor had committed to come be my temple escort. But her baby was sick at the last minute and she couldn’t make it. Drdad’s mom would not be joining us until the next day for the wedding as she had to work and could not make it all the way to Idaho Falls in time for the “endowment.”
So Drdad’s aunt stood in the roll of escort. She and I barely knew one another.
I didn’t want to wear my wedding dress until the next day so Drdad’s mom had sent along her regular temple dress for me to wear. It was not a pretty dress in the first place and it hung large on me. I was taken to the bride’s room to be dressed and the temple ladies made a fuss over what a beautiful bride I was. Fortunately the aunt had the wisdom NOT to join them as this was just one of the many lies of Mormonism. I looked RIDICULOUS. Aunt knew I had a pretty dress for the next day.
Prior to dressing of course, I received my washing and anointing and had been dressed in my (one piece, this was 1978) garments. I actually found that part empowering, especially because it was a woman performing the ordinance.
I was escorted to the chapel to wait for the session to start. I watched as prior participants exited the celestial room in their robes. With every once it could muster my soul screamed to my reason RUN AWAY, THIS IS WRONG. The green aprons, the hats, the veils. My innate self hollered its resistance, but I stuffed it down.
It was perhaps easier to go along with the “allegory” idea as actors played the rolls that tell the pointless temple story. They wore only their white robes and they were old, that made it easier to take.
The ceremony begins by inviting anyone who is not willing to enter into the process, and accept all its demands to leave. I was sort of proud to stay, but even then I wondered, “how am I supposed to know if I will do this when you haven’t yet told me what ‘this’ is.”
The rooms were pretty. This was in the days of the death threats wow was I surprised to see us all stand slitting our throats, chests, and bellies in pantomime demonstrating that we would rather be killed than reveal the secret handshakes and special words we were learning.
In addition to the basic white dress, one places special white robes, and a green apron, over the dress they DEFINELY improved its appearance! So that was a plus.
It ended. Drdad called me through the veil by my newly assigned secret name, Julia, that only he and I knew. Of course I wouldn’t learn HIS name, that was for god alone I guess. There were hugs all around and I went back to the locker room. Horrified as I was, I couldn’t let anyone know. Not the kind aunt who was with me. Not my mom, it would make the church “look bad.” So I pretended I had experienced something important.
The next morning I entered the celestial room with my pretty dress all covered in robes and green apron. There was no one present who I had known longer that a few weeks except drdad, who I had known since January. The guy running the session had everyone make introductions. One at a time each answered giving their name and saying “I came to see drdad get married.” Clearly NO ONE was there to see me get married.
Seven years and three children later, we were having serious doubts about our church. By our tenth anniversary we had attended our last lds meeting in December of this year we will celebrate 20 years without the active influence of the cult of mormonism in our lives. The passive influence never leaves, kind of like a scar you just get used to.
| I won't say at this point what prompted this post however it got me thinking again about the motivation sometimes attributed to "apostates" for their actions.
Growing up I was indoctrinated not only with Mormonism but also with the notion that doctors belong to some secret alliance who's sole aim is to suppress natural remedies in order to promote their own money spinning cures. For all the medical professions shortcomings, I doubt one of them is the systematic suppression of alternative medicines. We probably spend a truck load more on alternative medicines that have no more than a placebo effect than we do on medicines that don't work. It would be easier to attribute personal greed as a motive to natural medicine practitioners than it would be to individual GP's (though I am not suggesting that is their motive :-)).
In my last Sunday in church nearly 4 years ago we had a lesson on what was happening in Kirtland and the apostasy of many of the members of the 12. As a TBM I would not have even noticed the passing comment about Oliver Cowdery's apostasy or the reasons for his excommunication. It was simply stated that he was excommunicated by Smith for apostasy. Having just read Brodie's book at the time (which I had in my scripture covers), I knew the reasons for the unrest in Kirtland, something that had never been explained to me my entire life as a member.
It has occurred to me since that as TBM's we never questioned motives for opposition to the church. It's as if apostasy is a motive in itself and that it somehow imbued a person with baseless evil desires to oppose the church.
Consider the people who killed Smith. I had always just accepted that they were an angry mob bent on killing Smith and that their opposition was motivated entirely by Satan. Never once did I consider that these could be rational men with a valid set of reasons for their anger. Smith ordered his army to burn down the printing press in an attempt to silence his critics and hide his polygamy! You can hardly do anything worse in America! I don't condone his murder however it is clearly based on more than just baseless opposition.
Nowadays we have those who make the effort to stand up to the church and point out their flaws. How are they characterised by the church? As evilly inspired vassals of Satan who have no other reason to actively oppose the church than to quell some innate desire to justify their sins. Is it possible that they make that largely thankless effort for more valid and reasonable motives? Surely they do but the church continues to trivialise them and their efforts by broad brushing them as irrational, possessed apostates.
I don't mind that people continue to believe in Mormonism however I do take exception to the personalising of critisism of those who have valid concerns about the church and its teachings. I hope that over time people will see this lazy character assasinatin for what it is.
| I still remember the feeling that came over me as I looked at the list of Joseph Smith's wives for the first time. As a 6th generation TBM who's grandmother and great grandmother were both born in the Mormon colonies in Chihuahua, Mexico, you would think that this would not be new information. It seems that at some point while teaching Seminary for 4 years, serving in the Bishopric, or in my 5 years on the Stake High Council, this would have been discussed. But I did not know.
I did not know about the polyandry, or the 14 year old wives. It was shocking to read Martha Brotherton's account of her encounter with BY and JS. Even more shocking was their reaction to this 18 year old's rebuff of the lude proposal made by these so-called men of God. In what became a pattern still practiced by the church today, Brigham and Joseph tried their best to slander Martha for telling the truth about their attempt to seduce her.
Once the crack begins to develop in the armor, it is not long before the Emperor (Prophet, Lt. General, Mayor, President, King of all Israel upon the Earth) has no clothes. It quickly became clear that "plural marriage" was simply an excuse for womanizing, and that "revelation" was a tool used to control others.
My appetite for knowledge concerning LDS history could not be satisfied. I read 30 books, and continue to this day to read and learn information that was unknown to me as a TBM. I have come to trust Thomas Ferguson, not Monson, Brigham Roberts, not Young. There is a pattern of deception from the founding of LDS, Inc. that becomes clear with a little study.
Two little told stories of Joseph tell much about the kind of person he was. One is the story of Martin Harris dropping a hat pin he had been picking his teeth with into the hay below a fence he was sitting on. He, Joseph, and another individual searched for it for quite a while, when Joseph took his "peep stone" and placed it in his hat. He put the hat up to his face and without looking, found the hat pin in the hay!! You know that he found the pin while looking for it and faked his miraculous peep stone in the hat trick: but Martin was duly impressed.
In another istance, Joseph told Josiah Stowel that there was a treasure buried next to a certain tree, and that a feather was located in the ground near the treasure. Well, as usual there was no treasure, but unbelievably Joseph was right!! There was a feather found after quite a bit of digging had been done. Now, how could something as hard to conceal as a feather be found right where Joseph said it would be? A regular magician, that Joseph.
Joe Smith was a story teller, and a liar. He was also charismatic and cunning. When he traded the peep stone for revelation from God, he was on his way. He taught that the native Americans were Israelites. Wrong. That Missouri was Zion. Wrong. That Missouri was the garden of Eden. Wrong. That a papyrus contained the writings of Father Abraham. Wrong. That it also contained the writings of Joseph, son of Israel. Wrong. That the Kinderhook plates contained the history of a great warrior who descended from Pharoah. Wrong. That 'Mormon' was a composite of Egyptian word 'mon' which means good, so Mormon means MORE GOOD. Wrong. Zions Camp would march to Missouri and liberate Zion. Wrong. Bones found along the way belonged to 'Zelph' a white Lamanite warrior. Wrong.
There was no Moroni. There were no Gold Plates. There was never a Nephite or Lamanite in North or South America. Thousands of warriors did not die (twice) near the hill Comorah in New York State. An angel with a sword never told Joseph he had to have sex with other men's wives and little girls. The Masons, not the Mormons, originated the temple ceremony, circa 1600, not from Solomon's day.
Joseph left a book filled with anachronisms that supposedly was written by Israelites living the Law of Moses, who began to call themselves Christians about 600 years before Christ was supposedly born, and never mention or practice a single Jewish custom.
Now you have a multi billion dollar corporation masquerading as a church, that has to push this crap via the poor, unsuspecting, 19 year old missionaries who, like me, know nothing about the history of LDS, Inc. They spread the lies that are taught to them out of correlation committee approved lesson manuals, which paint a comic book, untrue, faith promoting version of the way the GA's wish the history of the church would have happened.
No matter how you spin it, LDS, Inc. is a lie. I know it. The Apostles know it. And, through the graces of the Internet, everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear will know it.
Let it be sung from the roof tops. Mormonism is a lie. I bear you my witness that I know this is true!
I am so grateful that my children were offended by the poor, stupid Bishop and low quality youth they associated with during their time at church. The fact that none of them want anything to do with LDS, Inc. is truly a blessing to me and my wife.
| I would like to talk about recovery, and I'd like to challenge an interpretation of the phrase "there's no timeline for recovery."
First, let me say that everyone who experiences the emotional trauma of being in and then leaving the Mormon church will do so in their own way. It won't take the same amount of time for everyone. Some people will be able to seemingly shrug it off naturally, while others will seem to struggle and put forth a lot of effort toward recovery. In that respect, there is no set timeline for recovery.
However, that doesn't mean that we're all on autopilot. We are always in control of our own decisions, and we can decide to do things that aid in and expedite our recovery, and we can also decide to do things that hinder our recovery. I think it's helpful to know that we can make decisions that affect our ability to get back on track, spending less time with the hurt, anger, fear, insecurity, and frustration, and MORE time ushering in the happiness, security, confidence, and peace of mind. I think it's helpful to know that a large portion of recovery is in our hands. Part of that understanding is knowing what helps your own personal recovery, and what doesn't.
Here is a list of things that you can do that might help you move forward faster in your recovery process, and move toward your own personal peace. Feel free to add others -- together we can come up with a great brainstorm list of ways to move us toward a place of healing.
* Forgive yourself. You may have done something in your TBM days that you would never do now. Maybe you feel some guilt or regret over it. Keep in mind that you were in a completely different paradigm back then, with different motivations. You were doing the best you could in the state you were surrounded with at the time. Tell yourself that while you might make different decisions NOW, that you forgive yourself, and that you deserve to move forward with the knowledge from that learning experience and release yourself of the guilt.
* Acknowledge that you will make mistakes along the way. You're human. Cut yourself some slack. Cut yourself the slack the Morg never allowed you. There are actually 3 certainties in life: death, taxes, and the fact that you WILL make mistakes. Don't berate yourself for them; instead, own up to them immediately, and ask yourself, what can I learn from this experience?
* Invest in yourself. Set aside a little bit of time, each day if you can, for yourself. Do something you love that makes you happy -- preferably something that does not remind you of the Morg or your hurt. Read a favorite book, visit a favorite place, get some exercise, or call a loved one. The time is yours to invest in your own personal truth.
* Build your confidence. Remind yourself of your great qualities and unique talents. Rely on them and build on them, and know that you can celebrate them in your new ex-Mormon life where conformity is not a requirement.
* Take care of yourself physically. Emotional trauma takes a physical toll. It can be like being in fight-or-flight mode for an extended period of time. You need your physical health and your body's resources to help keep you mentally strong. Eat well, and drink and exercise in moderation.
| Inspired by the thread on Chapter 27 of the JS manual.
LDS Customer Dissatisfaction 'Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy'
It may surprise Mormons to know that ex-Mormons enjoyed happiness in the LDS church. What will shock Mormons to know, is that happiness also followed us out of the LDS church. And we're still good people.
A great lesson that I've learned from Corporate America, is that you can tell a lot about a company by the way it treats its customers. Especially the customers who are dissatisfied with the company.
Can you imagine a company advertising to its current customers that they should never shop anywhere else, because if they do, they will end up being bad people, and that they won't be happy?
Further, try to imagine that same company making claims that its former customers will only go on to persecute the current customers. That they lose their brand loyalty and will ultimately become dishonest people because they broke their promise to do business with only that company.
The rules of business apply just about everywhere. Imagine being a customer that's dissatisfied with a company. The company has a big advertisement in their store that says; 'Don't complain about our product, our manager, regional managers, or executives. This could lead to you shopping somewhere else. Shop with us where it's safe. Our company won't lead you astray. But if you become a former customer, you'll end up being a bad person.'
You will discover many revealing character traits of an organization based on how it treats the people that have left it. Its attitude towards the folks who no longer want to participate will tell you how healthy, or not healthy, it would be to become a member or customer of that organization.
Which is what we'll explore with the LDS church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues its tradition of offering a white-washed version of the teachings of its prophets. Over the past decade many LDS Mormon prophets have been spotlighted in lesson manuals that are part of a series called 'Teachings of Presidents of the Church.'
In 2008, the LDS Mormon founder Joseph Smith is in the spotlight.
Chapter 27 of the 'Joseph Smith' manual has recently caught the attention of the nice folks who are no longer members of the LDS faith.
What's in a Title? It tells us everything.
Its title: Beware the Bitter Fruits of Apostasy
The title itself is an indoctrination technique designed to instill fear into the believing member of the organization. Essentially, it's saying 'Don't even think of leaving or turning away from this organization. It's dangerous. It's not safe out there. Outside of Mormonism. Don't go there. We can't protect you there. Whatever you do outside of Mormonism, it won't be good. Your actions won't be good. They'll be bitter. You'll be bitter. Nothing good comes from leaving Mormonism. You'll end up being a bad person. Bitter fruits, that's all you'll know.'
Now, take a moment to absorb all of that. From that single title of the chapter, we know that anything taught in that particular lesson will reinforce those ideas that we've just extracted from the title. It's indoctrination at its finest.
Members of the LDS faith are indoctrinated to think negatively of those who leave their church. This is yet another example of how the LDS faith uses its doctrine of 'we're the only true church' to divide families and friends, and place a wedge of negativity between people who might otherwise get along swimmingly.
Does it have to be this way? So Happy Together
Many great people are alive today who are not Mormon. They probably won't ever be Mormon. There are also a countless number of great people who used to be Mormon. They're no longer Mormon. Great people. Healthy people. They open their arms and hearts to help make the world a better place.
They're looking for more truth. They're looking for more honesty. They're looking to embrace ideas that bring people together instead of separating them with rubbish doctrine and secret ceremonies.
Most folks who leave the Mormon fold really don't have anything against the people in Mormonism. A great majority of ex-Mormons report that the people in their ward are great people. That their Bishop is a great guy. No problem with the people or their leaders.
They just disagree with the organization.
With good reason. The LDS organization has a long and detailed tradition of covering up certain parts of its history. Of intentionally lying about certain aspects of its past. It embraces ideas and doctrines that require folks to judge other people and separate themselves from those who don't believe the same way that they do. Mormonism requires EVERYONE to be a Mormon in order to be happy. All or nothing. And it's a devastatingly unhealthy and dangerous way to live.
Happiness Is For Everyone - Mormons Don't Own The Copyright
Within Mormonism you'll find strange and fascinatingly peculiar doctrines. I think the most dangerous doctrine that they embrace is that of happiness. Mormons believe that they're happier than anyone else on earth. They're indoctrinated to know that true joy and everlasting happiness can only be found within the tiny gates of Mormonism.
Mormons love to categorize things. They'll categorize people. Heaven. And even happiness. They break it down into 'pleasure' and 'joy'.
They believe that people who are not Mormons or who leave Mormonism, are only able to experience the 'pleasure' of the world, but that they'll never know true 'joy' or happiness outside the realm of Mormonism. It's true. And it's unhealthy. I encourage Mormons and investigators to explore what the LDS leaders have said about happiness over the span of the history of the LDS church.
Early in Mormonism the LDS church quickly claimed that they owned truth and happiness.
But they own neither. Because they don't embrace all truth and all happiness. They ignore truth to a great degree as it pertains to their belief system. They ignore happiness to a great degree as it pertains to the people outside of their belief system.
Happiness is for everyone. I honestly believe that. Every person living deserves to know that happiness belongs to them if they want it. While organized religion can often provide a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, happiness can be found independent of any organization.
It's said that happiness is what happens when we're at harmony with our lives. That so long as we have good health and a bad memory, we'll stay happy. That the grand essentials of happiness are; something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
I honestly believe that happiness isn't something to be found or chased. It follows us. Sure, there are times we might get ahead of ourselves and happiness needs to catch up. But so long as we don't hide from it, happiness will find us and embrace us. As we follow our hearts in the direction of our own 'true' north, we'll only attract more happiness.
Is it so hard to believe? Be Mormon. Be ex-Mormon. Be you. Be Happy.
Mormons find happiness in the highest Mormon heaven. Living with their God.
I also expect happiness to follow me on my path. But I expect it and experience it in a very different way than Mormons do. I'm being chased by happiness even now. I make the choices that attract it. It follows me. It follows my family. We make the choice to embrace each other and to embrace beliefs that bring us closer together, with less opportunity to be torn apart by silly doctrine and beliefs. We're following our 'true' north. And we're happy for it.
I want Mormons to be happy. I want their church to stop telling lies about ex-Mormons. We're happy, too. Surprisingly enough, many of us were happy as Mormons. What might surprise the Mormons is that when we left the LDS church, happiness followed us out.
| I was sitting in a hangar at Norton Air Force Base in California, getting ready to send my (now-ex)hubby to Okinawa. I was going to follow in a few months because he was on an unaccompanied tour and had to get some things arranged before I could come.
I had gone to a corner to nurse my 3-month-old baby (back when you had to reach under your shirt to unzip the one-piecers in order to nurse) Ugh! So while hiding out and not really paying attention to the radio overhead, all of the sudden I heard the words "Spencer W. Kimball" on the news report. I tried to hear the rest but couldn't make it out. I assumed the prophet must have died for it to be on the news in California. I went and found hubby and told him. It was another reason to be bummed that day.
So I put hubby on the plane and drove home (to my parents house where I was staying in the interim) crying about both situations. When I drove in, my mother came running out, "Did you hear the news???" I said, "Well, I assume the prophet died." She said, "What? No! The blacks received the priesthood!"
I was frozen and sick and was shaking. Our Institute teacher had always said the blacks would receive the priesthood immediately prior to the coming of the Lord. I had just put my hubby on a plane overseas and would never see him again because the millenium would come before I could get there. I went to my bedroom and just sobbed and shook.
The next day the church was abuzz with the news. We couldn't even have real services. I heard some pretty kooky things. My former FIL, who was the world's biggest bigot was getting laughs by telling everyone "Yeah, I'll baptize them all. I'll just forget to bring them up!" Other people were talking about how weird it would be to see a black in the temple or see them blessing the sacrament. Several were sure we needed to make sure we had our food supply and start repenting...fast!
Well, 30 years later--I'm still here. No second coming. I now know about the changes in the law that would have stripped the so-called church of its tax-exempt status if they continued to discriminate. Hubby is long gone and it's a pleasure being in life without him.
But I'll never forget that day nor the fear of it. Oh well, chalk it up to the list of things I lived in fear of for 45 years and celebrate that I no longer have to live scared.
| Whenever we try to explain mormonism's problems to a mormon, they always have lots of outs:
"Spiritual evidence trumps secular evidence"
"You just need to have faith"
"God can do anything"
"I have a testimony that..."
"Prophets have instructed us to..."
And on and on. We've all seen it a million times. The problem is that each side is working from an entirely different and incompatible sense of what's important.
The mormon values their testimony, and their unwavering conviction that it is truth, above all else. It is the truth against which all other "evidence" must be interpreted. "Evidence" which conflicts with the testimony can be dismissed as flawed because it conflicts with an already-established truth. Without realizing it, they idolize and worship their testimony.
The exmormon, at least as it pertains to mormonism, has shifted to base the value of the testimony on its truthfulness -- on how real and accurate it is in the physical world.
It has been my experience that mormons *think* they value their testimony by the same value system that the exmormon does. In fact, they take a great deal of pride in it.
I think I have come up with a way to establish a common basis for discussing all things mormon, eliminating their ability to withdraw from reality and use those excuses. So here it is:
"Nothing enriches mankind more than the earnest desire to understand and believe that which happens to be right and true. Even when it means setting aside long-held beliefs and changing the way we live our lives.
Nothing deprives mankind more than when beliefs are so idolized that the truth may not enter when it is not in harmony with those beliefs."
Followed by a question that commits them:
"Can we agree on this?"
Or even stronger:
"Can we agree that God would not want you to set aside the truth to protect a flawed belief?"
Most mormons should readily agree that the truth must never be set aside to protect a flawed belief. After all, that is exactly the principle they apply when trying to woo new converts.
If they object to this principle, is there really anything to discuss? What hope is there of a productive conversation if the person will hold that their beliefs are more important than whether those beliefs happen to be true?
Once this common ground is established, it should be easy to stop them from their anti-reality retreat. You can remind them, gently or not, that you've already agreed that no belief is so important that it should be protected from truth. That isn't to say that we have the truth, but it does require honest and sincere consideration of other possibilities. Put them in the position of dealing honestly with the topic, or admitting that they hold faith to be more important than truth.
When they call on their "spritual witness" to trump reality, you can point out that as mortals our beliefs and perceptions cannot be without flaw. To not give full and honest consideration merely on the basis that it challenges your beliefs is idolatry, prohibited by the first and second commandments. And those commandments make no exception for idolizing a flawed belief that is the result of a spiritual witness. They don't even make an exception for idolizing a belief that is without flaw! (Notice that to avoid reality, they have to argue that the truth doesn't matter or that the commandment shouldn't apply.)
Hope this helps!
| Part of why the Morg is so successful at driving us crazy with their continual barrage of contact is because it trains its members to either not be able to recognize their own personal boundaries, or not be assertive enough to enforce them. All cults do this, as well as abusive spouses/partners, as well as manipulative and abusive parents. It's one way they maintain control over our thoughts, time, and lives.
That's why it's important for each of us to, as ex-Mormon adults, establish our own boundaries, and then enforce them consistently. The truth is, we teach people how to treat us. Every time a VT knocks at the door, and we submissively, reluctantly answer -- even if we only say a couple of words and not let them in -- we are teaching the Morg that if they knock, we'll appear. It encourages them to try again (and again, and again) later.
No one owns your front door but you. No one owns your phone but you. No one is responsible for your boundaries but you. And no one else is responsible for respecting your boundaries if you don't respect them first.
I wrote in a post in Cheryl's thread that unwanted phone calls are like email spam. And what's the first rule of email spam? DO NOT REPLY TO IT. It only makes things worse! EVEN IF you click on the "unsubscribe" or "do not contact me" links. Delete it, and get a good spam filter.
Here are some good spam filters for real life:
1 -- Get caller ID. Don't answer numbers you don't recognize. If it's important, the caller will leave a message, and you can call them right back. If it turns out to be someone you want to talk to, write their number down so you'll recognize it next time. If you have friends or contacts whose number comes up "private," ask them to call from listed number if they wish to avoid getting your VM first. Or, if you have a cell phone, ask them for their number so you can program it into your display.
2 -- Turn the ringer off your phone during times you don't want to be disturbed. Dinner, quiet time alone, quality time with family. Don't give someone else the opportunity to interrupt you.
3 -- Keep your porch light off in the evenings. A lit porch light is the universal signal that you are expecting or welcoming visitors. If you're not, turn it off.
4 -- If someone calls you or knocks on your door, always remember that you are in no way obligated to answer. Your door isn't public. Neither is your phone. And YOU are the one in charge of them.
5 -- If resigning helps, resign. I've never resigned, but I adhere strictly to rules 1-4, so I do not receive harassing, disturbing, interrupting calls or visits, from the Morg or from anyone.
You can't expect other people, especially manipulative cults, to respect your boundaries simply because you want them to. These are not respectful people, they're greasy snake oil salesmen. And all salesmen know that if they can get someone talking, they've got their foot in the door. Don't talk to them. Don't give them the opportunity to make a sale. Don't make yourself feel violated.
| I missed two weeks of my first year at South High, but my education continued at home. Every day after my Dad had gone to work and my Mom went off to perform her duties in the RS presidency, I stayed home and read every word in the Salt Lake Tribune about the unfolding crisis in Arkansas. (Conference was cancelled that year, but I didn’t know that until later.)
On September 4, 1957, nine black students attempted to enroll in Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, only to be turned away by the National Guard, which Governor Orval Faubus had ordered on duty because “outside extremists” were arriving in the city in caravans intending to disrupt the peace and cause violence. Legal wrangling continued until September 23rd, when the students were taken into the school and registered for classes. The crowd of over a thousand were milling outside the school threatened to riot when the news leaked out. The next day, September 24th, in response to a telegram from the Mayor of Little Rock, President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and announced that he was sending 1,000 members of the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock. The following day, on the 25th, Army troops escorted the nine students into the high school.
The “Negro Question” was often discussed in Sunday School classes and the standard excuse for segregation and for the Mormon practice of denying the priesthood to black males was that they were “less valiant” in the pre-existence. There were fewer than a dozen black students attending my own high school and there were none in my classes that year.
A few weeks later, October 4, 1957, came another turning point in US history. The USSR successfully launched Sputnik I. “The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.” http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/index...
The USA discovered it had fallen behind in the space race. Within a short time high school teachers and administrators began searching for the best and brightest students. It almost became “in” to be smart. At least the brainy students started getting a little respect–even females.
That year in Mutual I had an amazing Junior Gleaner teacher–a talented, charismatic former Days of ’47 Queen who had no qualms in going to see Pres. David O. McKay and demanding to know why women couldn’t have the priesthood and why she couldn’t go on a mission because she was ready, she had the money, and she was two years older than the boys that were being called. She was also the first woman–or anyone--I ever heard utter the word “orgasm” out loud. She encouraged us to get a college degree before thinking about marriage.
My Junior year at South I had an amazing Exmormon American History teacher. He taught us about the Kirtland Safety Society. We had a special unit on the Holocaust, saw the movies the Allies had taken when they entered the concentration camps, and studied Israel. He played tapes he had made of the Army-McCarthy hearings. “Have you no sense of decency, Sir?” Sadly, both he and the ’47 Queen had less than five years to live.
If you had asked me in 1957 if I thought that the priesthood would be extended to black males, I would probably have said “not in my lifetime.” If I had been asked if I thought a woman could be a serious candidate for US president, I would have said “I hope so,” but I'm not sure I thought it could ever happen.
I admit I was naοve–I didn’t know a good Mormon couldn’t be a Democrat, or that President Eisenhower was a pinko, and I’m not sure I knew exactly what the big deal was about wearing green and yellow on Thursday. (It meant you were a fairy, whatever that was.)
November 5 is my birthday. I’ve been through good times and bad times and right now my feet hurt. This night I will drink a toast to Mr. Remington, who strove to teach his students that the sun didn’t rise and set in Salt Lake City, and to Catherine Grant, who taught her class that women are intelligent, competent, sexual beings, and by the way, don’t get married until you are at least 25.
And that I am proud to say I still have some of that silly idealism and I am proud to be alive in America tonight.
| Every once in a while, I feel that special lightness of being, that ecstasy of the soul, that comes with being free of Mormonism. I understand that it works for some people, and I am happy to enough share the planet with these souls, but I doubt very many will miss my friendship. Maybe one or two do.
Have I been angry? Yes. I may even feel so again, but I feel really happy about it right now. On the whole, my feelings about it tend very much in the direction of peace and joy without a particular angst. I feel like rambling on a bit about why.
Why am I happy? Because I don't have to endure or take any measure of responsibility for the LDS Church's support of Prop 8. I am no longer subject to the mindset and mythology that somehow lead to the fear of gay marriage making cosmic sense, when it is truly blatant nonsense. I also no longer struggle with why blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood, or why the LDS Church used the fear of unisex bathrooms to drive its members to fight ERA.
I no longer have to sit through drab, lifeless meetings in which Republican ideology is spouted as though it were the very gospel of Christ. I no longer feel bound to obey a gaggle of elderly men as though I were a small child who could not make my own judgments. I no longer feel any obligation to read the LDS scriptures as though they necessarily had any great contribution to make to humanity.
I no longer sit in suspense over when the sealed portion of the plates will be translated and added to the canon. I no longer wonder what ever happened to the Book of Joseph. After all, I have discovered that all of them were. I will never again wonder whether I will live the Principle in the next life, whether the Holy Ghost is a savior in training, whether I will ever be worthy enough for the second anointing, whether Adam God was truly revealed of God, and what difference it makes that the Church has departed from its past teachings and practices. I never have to concern myself with the return of Jesus again. Whew!
I will never again be subjected to PPIs or temple recommend interviews. I will never again have to endure a pep talk on raising ward statistics for hometeaching. I will never again have to endure the travesties of historical error of fact and distortion that pass as God's truth and reality in the chapels of Mormondom. I never again have to struggle to imagine how hours of soporific mumblings of nonagenarians are truly spiritually inspiring. I will never again agonize over the millions of tiny and not so tiny ways I fall short of the glory of God.
Being free of it all is sweet. It really is. I hope the Church is as happy with me gone as I am to be away. I doubt they really notice, but it is nice to think that I will be one less person for them to worry about, one less assignment for hometeaching, one less grumpy guy in the pews. Don't get me wrong, the Mormons are not bad people, but when all is said and done, they are also not really my people. I may have issued forth a black sheep from the loins of faithful pioneers, but I was never really content to live among the saints. I always liked nonmembers and fellow black sheep better. There is something wonderfully human about people who aren't trying to be God's special pet.
| Once more, I decided to attend the local Ward yesterday. I went to the same Ward a few months ago and came away unimpressed but decided to give it a whirl yesterday. Although I dispise the church I went to hear the Christmas music that I thought would be performed during the services. Boy was I wrong.
Opening song: "Praise to the Man". After all, it is Joseph Smith's birthday on Tuesday.
Announcements: (1) The final Ward temple trip is scheduled for Wednesday, Christmas Eve, at 4:00 PM. The Bishopric would like every temple worthy adult to attend as it is the final trip scheduled for this year. Oh, the next temple trip will be on January 2 and we need to get off to a good start so we need everyone to plan on going. (2) There will be a Stake Fireside tonight. Please ask your friends and neighbors to attend. It will have dual topics- Joseph Smith and Christmas. Everyone who attends is asked to bring a plate of goodies. (3) Please make sure to clean up the area where you sit today. With the difficult economic conditions the church has "trimmed down" the maintenance budgets and is asking the Wards to take on a more active role on the cleaning and maintenance of the buildings.
Callings: The usual take up time to serve the church crap. There was one interesting calling however- Ward Internet Specialist. What the hell is that?
Sacrament was as usual. I didn't partake but got a raised eyebrow from the old guy next to me as I passed the tray down the row. I wonder what he was thinking.
Program: The Bishop got up and said that the meeting would be different than a traditional Christmas program. We would start off with a song and then open the microphone to the congregation for their testimonies of Christ. He wanted to make sure the "little ones" had a chance to come up first so if you have children please let them bear their testimonies before the adults do. He sat down and we sang "I believe in Christ".
The first person to come up was a lady in her 40's who said that she felt inspired to get up first and bear her testimony of Joseph Smith since it was his birthday this week. She blubbered on for 5 minutes about his wonderful life and his murderous death. No man has done more except Jesus to save man on the earth. While she was speaking a line of little kids formed to her left while waiting to take their places at the microphone.
Child 1 - Child 9: I wuv my mom and dad, my brudders and sisters, I know the church is true. In the name...Amen
Child 10: She is happy for Jesus because now we have Christmas and get presents.
Child 11 - Child 15: Same as children 1-9.
Finally an adult stands up and gives a decent testimony of Jesus and his life. How he was an example of how we should live. He loved everyone, did not have debt, did not have a job, and did his best to make the world in which he lived a better place.
Bishop: I feel that we have been lifted and inspired by these testimonies today. In closing I'd like to ask the Choir to come up and sing our closing song- "Because I Have Been Given Much".
About 9 people came up and the director made the announcement to the congregation that they haven't practiced this song for a very long time but would do their best. They sang the song and then we had the benediction.
I was dumbfounded. No Christmas music, no Christmas talks, no Christmas spirit. Nothing.
I stood up to leave and was immediately pounced upon by the missionaries. They wanted my name, address, phone number, and my previous Ward if I was a member. I told them that I had no interest in providing them with any information since I was only here for the Christmas program but must have missed it because this was not what I was expecting. They said that this wasn't a normal service and that I should come back next week to see what a real service was like. I told them I would be out of town next week but perhaps I should come the first Sunday in January. They looked at each other and said that that service isn't a normal service and that maybe I would like to come on January 11 as that one would be a regular one. I said no thanks and walked past them and into the foyer. Some goofy High Priest type guy tried to stop me and shake my hand but I walked around him and walked out the door.
Holy Christ people!! What has the Morg transformed itself into these days? It's gotten worse over time.
| My wife and kids and I are spending the holidays with my family in their hometown. We traveled over a thousand miles to see them and so our kids could hang out with their cousins and grandparents for a week. Up until today it was bearable and pleasant, with the unspoken tension that usually accompanies our visits mostly gone. The tension caused by our loss of faith and sadness that we won't be with them in the hereafter.
Last night was the traditional obligatory pot luck where everyone was to bring a dish and meet at my sister's home. With so many people stuffed into her home we ate where we could find an open seat in the dining room area. There were 6 sets of spouses in attendance as well as my mother and everyone's kids. About 30 in all. I tried to listen to the conversations where I could but avoided participation as I like to listen and observe.
SIL mentioned that she is so glad that their Ward gets to meet at 11am rather than the 9am time they attend now. It means that her husband, my brother, can help with the kids in the morning before he has to rush off to Bishopric meetings. They have 4 kids under the age of 8 and she is really having a difficult time managing the house on Sundays with him gone all the time. I noticed that after dinner that she fell asleep at the kitchen table while my brother watched the kids play.
Sister mentioned that her FIL has had two interviews with President Monson and Elder Packer in the past month. FIL is in the 1Qot70 and they are speculating that he may be called as the new Apostle next conference. When she asked him about it he said that his discussions are too sacred to talk about and that he prefers for her not to ask. She is sure he will be called and that means that they will get better seats at General Conference and should get her husband into the Bishopric in their Ward.
Sister also mentioned that the youth progran in their Ward sucks. All of the young women have to meet together as there is no leadership in Young Womens and that is awkward to have 20 girls in various stages of maturity, ages 12-18, all having the same lesson at the same time. She wishes something would change.
Brother in the Bishopric mentioned that their request to travel 300 miles to a large temple for a youth temple trip has been denied. Apparently that would take away opportunities for youth who are in that temple district and prevent them from doing work in the temple. Instead they will continue to attend the temple that is on the grounds of their Stake Center.
Other brother lamented that leadership-type people are not doing as much as they had before. Individuals who used to jump right in and offer their talents or skills in the Ward are doing so with less frequency. Also, there is no money anymore for activites like Cub Scout day camp, youth rafting trips, Ward activities, or Elders Quorum socials. His Stake has a policy that any activity for any group, outside of normal scheduled meetings such as scouts or YM night, must be approved by the Ward's High Counselor as well as be preceded by some type of service project. For instance, if they want to have a young womens activity such as go-kart racing or riding horses at a member's farm, they must first perform some sort of service project at the church or on the temple grounds before they can have the activity. Even for the adults. They had an adult white water raft trip planned and they had to first spend three hours at the local church welfare farm picking up discarded trash and clippings before they were allowed to have fun. Only 8 people showed up at the farm but over 20 arrived at the river that afternoon. I guess people, "had to work, or had other priorities," before going rafting.
Mother lamented that there were only 7 people who sang in the choir for their Christmas program. Their Bishop has set choir practice for Wednesday evenings at 8:30pm which may explain the lack of participants. She is secretly hoping that their Ward and my brother's Ward are combined so there are more people to share in the burden. She has been the Ward organist or pianist going on 20 years now and would like a break. It's not that she minds playing every week in Primary and SM but she would like to sit in Relief Society and listen to the adult lessons once in a while. The only way she knows what is going on in the Ward is when the Bishop's wife visit teaches her and brings her up to date on all the gossip.
Other musings and observations from everyone:
There is not enough money to properly run a Ward. But they are forbidden to have fund raisers or auctions to offset their deficits. What usually happens is that some rich family in the Ward will underwrite the entire activity on their own dime.
The youth aren't the same as we were when we were growing up. They have issues with youth using slang terms in their normal speech, sneaking out on weeknight activities, not coming to Seminary, text messaging inappropriate jokes or pictures in Sacrament Meeting, and generally not giving a rats behind about their eternal obligations. One Ward hasn't sent a missionary out in almost two years. They used to send out 3-4 a year.
All of the good, strong leadership under the age of 40 has been pulled up to the Stake level. People with young families are on High Counsels or have other Stake callings. That leaves the Wards with limited and older leadership who can't relate to the youth and younger families. One Ward has had the same rotation of two ladies as Primary President and YM President for the past 5 years. One will serve at the PP and the other as YMP. About every year or so they get released and switch places. They are both getting close to burn out but there is nobody to replace them because all the good people are away on Stake callings.
They are hoping that more young professional families move into their Wards. It will give everyone a break they deserve. Mentioned as qualified candidates include dentists, attorneys, or school teachers. The Wards are hurting for fresh blood.
In the middle of dinner the missionaries stopped by. The conversation quickly turned to how the work is going and how we can help them find potential converts. Apparently they have a couple who have had all of the discussions but won't commit to baptism. They wanted to know if one of us knew the family and if we did if we could talk to them and see if we can move the process along. The couple have recently had a death in the family and are searching for answers right now. The missionaries know the window of opportunity is slowly closing as the couple recovers from their grief.
I sat for over an hour and listened to them talk. At no time did I hear something positive about their callings, activities, or leadership. They are getting pulled in too many directions with no relief in sight. Money is being pulled back and the leadership is taking the funness out of everything. They youth are struggling more than ever before. Callings aren't enjoyable. It sucks having to get young children ready for church by yourself in the morning because your husband is at leadership meetings. They are tired of paying for everything because there is no money.
But in the end it is all worth it because of the blessings they are receiving. And we are in the last days and the Lord expects more from us than ever before as he prepares to usher in the second coming.
| “Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!”
(Gen. 28: 11-12)
Jacob dreamed of a ladder from heaven to earth. He saw a means of leaving his earthly problems and existence and a method of climbing to heaven to be with god and angels.
Jacob’s ladder demonstrates man’s aspiration of ascending to a better realm of existence. To me when I was a Mormon, Jacob’s ladder taught that there was a way to heaven climbing rung by rung until I reached god’s holy abode.
My paradigm fitted perfectly with my Mormon concept of man’s search for meaning and the Plan of Salvation. Each ladder rung represented a principle of the gospel nearing me to possible exaltation and life with god.
The rungs of the ladder were easily identified: faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation and the gift of the holy ghost, priesthood ordination to the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, elder and high priest; service of a two year church mission, temple marriage, temple attendance, home teaching, and diligent performance of church callings.
Over time I began to recognize that my LDS ladder lacked rungs for kindness, gentleness, toleration, service to non-LDS people, decency, being non-judgmental, humility, understanding, acceptance, growth, peace, joy, discovery, self-worth, love of neighbor, and many other non-quantifiable behaviors.
Looking backwards at my life in the church and at the lives of most Mormons I know, I now see the trap of Jacob’s ladder.
Mormons aspire of reaching the celestial kingdom (heaven to Mormons) by climbing the ladder of obedience to get there obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel.
Climbing the Mormon ladder to heaven requires only actions but not worthwhile change. There are rungs for not smoking cigarettes, not drinking coffee or alcohol, monthly home teaching, the payment of a full tithing, acceptance and fulfillment of church callings and assignments, temple marriage, temple attendance, serving church missions. Latter in life, new rungs appear: baptism of children and grandchildren, having children and grandchildren serve missions and having temple marriages, continued temple attendance, and serving a mission as a married couple.
This approach to perfection enables Mormons to check each box of obedience as a rung of compliance is stepped upon and conquered. But what do these rungs do to improve a person? How does checking a box make one a better human being?
LDS people I know, including relatives, believe that my life and those of my wife and children are off course and destructive. But by what means do they measure our lives? By critiquing that we no longer climb Jacob’s ladder to heaven. The only standard of comparison they know is the check boxes the Mormon church has provided them. For me and my family we no longer attend the temple, aspire to temple marriage or church attendance, missions, etc. Therefore, we are no longer good and decent people as our Mormon boxes go unchecked.
Does it matter that we are honest? Does it matter we are kind and sharing? Does it matter we love and sustain one another? Does it matter that we cry with those who mourn and bear one another’s burdens? Does it matter that we do not steal? Does it matter that we encourage thoughtfulness and objectivity? Does it matter that we serve in our communities? Does it matter that we privately acknowledge our deficiencies and try each day to be a better person? Does anything matter outside of Mormonism?
If there is a heaven, what do Mormons expect to find there, once the last rung of compliance has been stepped on? How does checking boxes and judging others prepare for life as an exalted being? How does going to the temple and exchanging tokens prepare one for godhood?
I prefer my life. The gauges of my existence are my conscience - not church commanded checkmarks of conformity.
I judge my worth against the reflection in the mirror. I view my children’s progress in life in how they treat each other and their friends and not by being baptized at an arbitrary age. I view my successes privately and personally and not at a pulpit with an outstretched arm to the square or by a man’s signature on a slip of paper as my authorization to enter a building called heaven on earth.
I may not be a prince, or king or even aspire to kingdoms and principalities. My strength and blessings are not found in power in the priesthood upon me and all generations of time. My peace is found where no checkmark is made and where no recommend is required.
Too bad my Mormon friends and relatives are forced to see life so artificially and callously.
| One of the hardest life lessons I learned was the fact that image and symbolism prevail most of the time. The sweet talking self-promoter nearly always finds his way to the top, and often at the expense of those who were more sincere and qualified.
I saw this in the Mormon church constantly. After a while, it makes you laugh.
If you are not very good at self-promotion, or image creation, you just don't move ahead very well. But then if you think about it, you realize that Joseph Smith was the ultimate self-promoter. He passed himself off as someone who was second only to Christ in his goodness and contributions. In fact, he took credit for holding his church together better than Jesus did his.
I recall the self-promoters very well. I did not really see them emerge until I was a missionary, and my entire life was involved with Mormonism for two years. When Mormonism was the pond, the fish began to fight over who was the best Mormon fish.
I remember one testimony meeting in particular. The Mission President had said he wanted "more emotion" in our testimonies. When the actual ordeal by testimony started, the new Assistant to the President got up, and put on a show that would rival the efforts of Elmer Gantry. He poured sweat, sobbed, and walked back and forth, bellowing his emotion into the microphone. It was one of the worst performances I have ever seen. I recall hearing a missionary say "What a phony bastard," as the show went on.
When the kid finally sat down, the Mission President patted his back, and said
"That was beautiful." No, it was not. It was nauseating----nothing more than a favor currying sideshow. The kid had no shame---just a desire to climb.
I remember flying to the Language Training Mission. It was in Hawaii in those days. The stewardesses offered us" tropical drinks." They had endured lots of missionaries, so the drinks were alcohol free. I took one, and was rebuked by the missionary next to me. He said "Someone might think you are drinking alcohol. " What nonsense.
I also recall a radio talk show, where the host was talking about Mormons. He said "I saw some Mormon missionaries in the airport last week. They were hungry, but the only place in the airport where they could get something to eat sold beer. They debated among themselves, and decided they could not go into a a place that sold beer. It would hurt their image." The host then said "I could not be in a religion that makes people that afraid of their image. "
Anyone who ever went to BYU learned the obsession with image and symbols.
From the "Dress Code," to the "Honor Code," image is everything. Kids dare not dress the way they want, or speak the way they want. It might put them at odds with the image makers. Over time, the image obsession wears you down. It leaves one feeling drained and exhausted. I wonder how many dump the LDS church as soon as they leave BYU? More than a few. It drains away your ability to continue as a Mormon, because you have come to realize its all just a performance based on smoke and mirrors.
The image obsession never dies. The Word of Wisdom is based on image.
Mormons feel that if they do not smoke, or drink alcohol, tea, or coffee, they are generating the right image, and are, therefore, righteous. If you add family home evening and regular church attendance, your image becomes more and more complete. Say the right things to the right people at the right time, and you might must move up.
What is inside you, deep inside you, does not count. Only the external matters, which is why large conference centers and huge building projects matter. They, too, project image.
| Today, my divorce is final from my TBM ex. This has caused a lot of contemplation today over the past four years of our marriage, and the 3.5 years of my life in mormonism.
I grew up in a fundy baptist cult. I left as an older teenager. I ended up marrying a Mormon. Within 6 months of our marriage, I converted, because it was so close to the mind-f*ck that I grew up with, that it was easy to slide into. Everyone was so sweet and caring, and I thought how wonderful it would be to raise my children in a church that cared about the family so much.
Skip forward a year and a half. My husband returned from overseas deployment. He was a totally different person. He became emotionally abusive, started gambling, drinking to excess, illicit drug use/addiction to prescription pain killers, the whole nine yards. I vowed to stay with him, because I viewed all of his behaviours the same as if he had been physically injured in Iraq. This was a "mental" injury. The emotional abuse increased. Never physical. I went to the bishop about it, and his father (whom I trusted and loved dearly). Both of them suggested that the problem lay within our choosing to hold off on having children. They felt that us having a child would force my ex to grow up and face life responsibly. Even as a semi-TBM at this point, I knew this didn't feel right. But, being brainwashed, went along with it. We conceived a child a few months later. Everything was going good, until I lost the baby at 16 weeks.
All hell broke loose. The abuse escalated to physical at this point, until one night, he held me at gunpoint with my gun for 3 hours (he was drunk), yelling at me about how it was my fault I lost the baby, and what a horrible wife I was.
I knew this was way out of hand, so again, I went to the bishop. He basically said he agreed with my husband. That he felt that god took the child, because I was not worthy to be a mother due to some "sin" in my life. He did mention that my husband shouldn't have done what he did. But, that I should just forgive him and focus on fixing my "transgressions". I beleived him.
I spent the next year trying to be prepared to get sealed in the temple with my ex. I became emotionally withdrawn, and socially separated from all that I knew. I started having memory problems, and depression and anxiety. For the first time in my life, I contemplated suicide. I have NEVER even considered this up until this point. In fact, had always thought those that did, were weak. (I now have a higher degree of empathy).
Fast forward six more months. My marriage was in ruins. The more I tried to "fix" myself into what I was "supposed" to be, the more abusive my husband became. I saw myself slipping away slowly.
About this time, I accidentaly discovered that my spouse was cheating. I found several thousand text messages to other women (mutal friends wifes, etc). Again, I stupidly went to the bishop over this. I was told the same types of things. That my husband was not satisfied with me, and if I strove to be a better wife and bore him children, then he wouldn't have to look for "love" elsewhere. So, I quit my master's program and quit working. Work was a major contention for my husband, because I work on an ambulance and work strange hours. He didn't like that I was gone so much. He, however, had NO qualms about spending my paychecks.
Three months ago, I finally realized that the person I had become was a shallow shell of my former self. I didn't even recognize me. I went from an outgoing, carefree, career/education minded independent person, to this sad compartmentalized person in the background. I had allowed him and the church to take my personality away. The harder
I tried to be what he/they wanted, the worse my life became. I, with the help of family and a few friends, walked away from it all. I filed for divorce and started working and found a place on my own.
I won't say that I am by any means all better, but I can finally see the light at the end of my tunnel. How sick, that a "church" would encourage this type of behavior. This is what untrained clergy gets you.
My anwer? The definition of insanity, is asking the same question over and over, and expecting a different answer. I found a new question to ask.
| My daughter was divorced a couple of years ago, and she remarried yesterday.
I have recently had major surgery, and it was very hard to go, but I am so glad I did. Weddings----this one at least----made me cry.
It was held in a small chapel, and was, largely, non-denominational. The marriage was performed by a minister. I did not ask his religion, and I did not really care. He did not care either. He just wanted to perform a nice wedding service.
My daughter looked radiant and happy in her wedding dress. We wore tuxedos.
My sons walked my daughter down the aisle. My daughter stood on rose petals my wife had placed by the altar.
My crutches did not prevent me from saying "Her mother and I " when the minister asked who was giving the daughter away. Amazing. The mother was actually included in the decision making.
My eyes filled with tears, because it was a real wedding. No-one was barred from coming. In fact, lots of Mormons came. They might not have liked it, but they were not told they had to stay away.
A wedding can be a lovely thing. Yesterday's wedding was.
My son drove me home after the service, due to the weakness I still feel from the surgery. I thanked him, and he said "I love you father."
A nice way to end a happy day.
| I've been thinking about this since the other day when a couple Christians posted about being SO SAD for the athiests and agnostics on the board. Their implication was that our emotional mormon experiences had shattered our chances for true Christian happiness.
I have no problem with my Christian friends or posters. I'd only wish they wouldn't preach at me or lavish me with unearned pity for being "damaged goods." I can't control their sadness and they needn't assume they can mindread some inner emotional turmoil which is not there.
I have the same problem with mormons who say they pity all exmormons. Morgbots assume they see or feel inner emotional pain and damage in us that I certainly don't harbor. I realize that many exmos have emotional baggage from the trauma of being in a cult. But I object to blanket assumptions that exmos are always angry, bitter, and untrustworthy in their asessments of the organization they know so well.
This same attitude bothers me when posters assume I know nothing about polygamy simply because I grew up in a mormon polygamy compound. Good heck, I must have noticed a few things in the hundreds of hours I spent in differnt groups listening to prophets and observing the lifestyle!
Anyone can assume polygamy is a healthy choice if that's what they want. However, they needn't say I don't have a valid opinions on the subject just because I experienced it more intimately than others.
My point is this: We might be damaged, but we're survivors who still have our wits about us. Most of us on this board had to overcome great challenges to be here. Overall, we have courage, fortitude, good sense, and our own brands of wisdom. We're normal logical and usually well rounded and rational members of society. We dress normally, live good lives and are kind and helpful to our friends, families, and causes.
No one needs to agree with any of us. But it's unfair of them to discount our right to our hard-earned opinions of the cults we're recovering from.
| Rastacat said something interesting in another thread about "firmly discovering who you are -- the true you, not the brainwashed imaginary new name the cult gave you -- does wonders for the self esteem, and you regain control of your life doing things YOU were meant to do."
My mother once said to me that when I joined the Mormon Church my life started going downhill. I didn't think that, at the time I joined the Morg, because the Morg tells you that you are among the elect, headed to the Celestial kingdom, bla, bla, bla and you are in the midst of all the love-bombing.
I've been out of the Morg for about eight years now (officially resigned a couple of years ago), starting to do the things that I was meant to do: I have a career versus being a stay at home mom; I have my own home versus being in poverty depending on my lazy TBM (-ex) husband; I have a pension and some RRSPs versus giving money away to the "Church" so they can build shopping malls; I am respected in the workplace for the job that I do and am seen to be contributing to the community.
I am coming to understand that most people in society (the sane, rational ones) respect "authentic achievement". And that takes hard work and it takes a caring attitude towards your community (e.g., coaching hockey, helping the homeless and disadvantaged, doing fund-raising for hospital equipment, etc.).
I found that life in the Morg kind of disconnected me from the larger society and took away my time and resources that I could have contributed to my fellow community members. The Morg encourages its members to live in a make-believe, fantasy world -- that's very disconnected to reality. I think that's one of the reasons that Mormons fail to earn the respect of the larger community.
My mother feels that if I hadn't married my (-ex) TBM husband that I would have gone on to get a PhD. That could be true. I was invited to return to do further studies after passing my thesis defense for my Master's degree. Instead, now I have three children to take care of, as a single mother -- along with trying to deal with the fall-out that my -ex's TBM behavior is having on the kids. My plate is pretty full.
I found that the Morg encouraged me to turn off my brain, focus on making my TBM husband look good, pump out the children (I rebelled after three), and spend all my time and money building up the Morg. It just struck me that all those things are what they try to get women to commit to in the temple ceremony.
I call the Morg "the religious Amway corporation" and you get caught up in their recruitment efforts to keep the pyramid-style business going. They always need new members to fleece and buy their "products" -- although, in comparison, at least Amway products are by and large practical (cleaning supplies, etc.)
It's just sad how the Morg uses peoples' legitimate needs (for friendship, sense of community, desire for spiritual growth) to trap them into a certain world and to trap them into behaving in a certain way that works for the Morg but doesn't really benefit the individual (especially a woman).
I miss the social events and the strong sense of community that exist in the Morg. But, as a friend said to me yesterday: "Freedom is the opposite of security." And to me, it is more important to be free -- to make decisions that are best for me and to be able to think for myself and do critical thinking. As more time goes on, I realize the enormous personal price that an individual pays to get the (so-called) benefits of Morg membership.
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