THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 25
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| It's very personal. It's internal and external It has a lot of components: emotional, intellectual, physical. It usually takes a lot of time.
It's what I often refer to as a: Do It Yourself Project - with no manual! It's what I define as: Leaving Your Generational, Cultural, Traditional, Religious Tribe. In my case, as a convert: My Adopted Tribe.
Part of my personal process: getting myself "Un-Mormonized" -- deleting and rewriting the automatic thinking scripts imprinted from decades of living Mormonism. It took awhile!
What we understood at the time as the teachings/doctrine as related to us is very different. No place is this more evident as when attending the temple. The lack of current official teaching is vague at most,As a consequence, what one considers symbolic, figurative, literal varies widely.
My first trip to the temple, as a new convert of just over a year,( to be married to my RM fiance), was so strange (another story for another day), I refused to go back for over a year. But, I was well ensconced in Mormon Culture living in BYU Wymount Married Student Housing in the early 60's and was given lots of encouragement to go back. Or "when in Rome" ...as they say.
I eventually acquiesced and went back, again and again and again for several decades, as it was part of my beliefs in the religion I had joined. I found no reason to think any of it was anything but figurative and symbolic. Nothing in my life up to that point had any kind of reference to indicate that symbols were literal. I didn't even remember my "new name" as I thought it was only to be used at a certain place an time, then I promptly forgot it! (How I got it back, is another story for another time.)
I did not know at the time (and for years later) that other people understood it all so differently. I realized, by a few faux pas comments early on, that no part of the temple was to be discussed outside the temple. Ever. It was a closed subject. So, I didn't broach the subject again. Much later, I did explain how to wear and use the temple clothing to a new convert (as she was borrowing mine), going to the temple for the first time. Interestingly, she returned them, and never cam back to church. Now I think I know why! :-)
The fact that our little family joined so easily was partly because of our belief in Spiritualism in addition to our belief in Christianity which was lived in the home for generations. After I left the LDS Church, I happened to read B H Roberts and learned that Joseph Smith Jr was considered a "psychic" ! I was correct all along. What a surprise that was!
What I later recognized as Red Flags, (something didn't add up, didn't make sense) I just "shelved" as told, but when I realized the extent of the metaphysical claims of Joseph Smith I knew I was correct all along and could trust myself. (This is my From Fog to Enlightenment Post I have shared before.)
Then I found the book" Early Mormonism and the Magic World View" - and got more insight into how I was on target all along. The same reasons that contributed to how easily I joined with our little family, contributed to how easy I stopped believed in the claims.
I finally got used to the temple - accepted it, at the time as symbolic, figurative, and sacred. It was rather easy to become an Olympian Athletic in Mental Gymnastics and Compartmentalization! Mormonism was wrapped up in a tight compartmentalized box and hermetically sealed shut! I was surrounded by believers, and for a long time, went right along with it as was expected.
Eventually, a bunch of "somethings" (dozens of Red Flags) grew and grew until they all fell off the shelf and the code to the emotional attachment/bond was broken and I was able to accept new and more accurate information about the LDS Church and it's claims, teachings.
Then the bridge was broken. It all came falling down in a heap. Interestingly, my innate personality and ability to see humor (in most things), was my first reaction. OH MY GOSH. Joseph Smith Jr told a WHOPPER and that ain't no hamburger! It struck me as a very clever, funny ploy that had millions of believers still clinging to the new and improved -- sanitized faith promoting history of what I like to refer to as an American God Myth - or Joseph's Myth --don't know who coined that, but it fits! There wasn't an ounce of truth to any of the claims of angels and translations, and visitations, etc. What a fantastic clever story!
I had no clue, no idea how other people had internalized Mormonism. It was not discussed except on superficial levels in the LDS Church. It was typical religious support: believe, and testify. Not until I got on line, read and posted to different boards, chat rooms, etc, did I find out how Mormonism was very different to different people. Much of it was not any where close to how I lived and believed it as a young adult convert.That is why I often say: there are as many different kinds of Mormonism as there are Mormons. I didn't know how true that was until I compared living in Oregon, Utah, and California and actively involved in the LDS Church. And was I active! Wow.
When we stop believing in the claims and leave the LDS Church , there are a lot of changes that take place. Many times, many of the reasons for not believing are laced with angst, anger, bitterness, resentment, etc., for some ,more so than others. Some do not get out very easily. Some never totally leave the LDS Church even thought they don't believe it's claims.
When the house of cards comes tumbling down, there is a great need to talk to someone. To know we are not alone. To know that we are OK an were OK all along. We didn't need to be fixed by Mormonism. To know there is more to life. To know it's OK to leave the LDS Church and be happy, and at peace ...in, fact, in my experience, it's a much more expanded happiness!
There is a need to vent, to talk about our experiences, to share, and to know it's OK to think about....everything. No longer is there a taboo on discussing.....anything and everything. And what a great relief that is!!
Someone will understand. Someone will listen.
That's part of the value of this board and others.
Some have families that leave with them, some not. There is a new phenomenon in the LDS Church - a new definition of the Part Member family: part believers and part not! I never imagined that would happen, but here it is!
I am one of those part member families.
Because of our individual personalities, family dynamics, circumstances, we all leave the LDS Church and build a New World View ...just ...a little differently. It think that's great. It's a big world of ideas out there!
I have never been more at peace than I am now with my New and Improved World View,....giving myself permission to allow it to evolve and change.
So, we keep on keeping on, putting one foot in front of the other, learning new things, finding new insights that resonate with us.
The freedom after leaving the confines of the LDS Church and it's teachings is indescribable. There are no words for it! But I know it when I see it! :-)
Ahh...life is wonderful! ..... Most of the time! It's what I often say is: the good, the bad the ugly!
Questioning Mormonism? Go right ahead. It's fine. Want support? It's here!
| Recovery, is defined for my own situation as The Exit Process from Mormonism.
It's a Do It Yourself Project with no manual and no rules.
We all make our own decisions about how to do it. We each post about how we do it.
This is how I do it. It works for me, but may not work for others.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with the process. It's not black and white.What is right for one won't work for another person as their situations are often quite different. Our backgrounds are very different also: BIC and convert most often, in my observation, will naturally approach the Exit Process differently. When members leave the LDS Church, (as in stop believing) it varies from a very young age to a much older age, sometimes in our senior years, like I did.
Part of that process is a variety of stages. We all go through stages that are a direct result of changing our mind about our religious, cultural belief system. Those stages may be similar to others or very different.
A few things helped me immensely.
First of all, it was important to understand that we are human beings; we put our pants on one leg at a time, we experience the same emotions that all humans experience. We are more alike than different. Religion is only one defining part of our human experience. For some, it's more globally encompassing than others. Mormonism tends to be more globally encompassing because of it's strong generational traditions and rituals.
It's comforting to know we are not alone. When we leave our "tribe" and become an outsider, it's a very similar process no matter what group or religion is involved. Some can leave very easily. For others, it's extremely difficult and has far reaching dynamic results. Sometimes loosing almost everything.
The animal kingdom, in general, doesn't look kindly on those that leave their "tribe." Often they are left to fend for themselves, which can be disastrous.
Along the way I have concluded there are a few basics: we all get the same thing: we live, we die, we do stuff in between. There are no wouldas, shouldas, couldas, or what if's. What is -- is. We play the cards we are dealt. We make the best decisions we know how with the information we have at the time. It's OK to change our mind when we find/receive new, better information. Don't let the past mess up my present.
There are no fantasy parents, fantasy siblings, fantasy marriages, etc.
My mind tends to see the Big Picture. After reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell (a textbook for a local college religion course), it became easy to see Mormonism in the Big Picture as one of many God Myths through out the history of humanity that humans naturally gravitate to through their generational, familial, cultural, societal background. The geography of our birth plays a large role in our beliefs. Where we are born in the world very often determines our religious traditions and rituals for our entire life.
I found that it takes a long time to give ourselves permission to create a personalized, evolving new World View and be confident about it. It's natural, to have doubts and concerns along the way.
I realized I needed to take my power back and own it, early on. I needed to be in the drivers seat and trust myself!
Everyone is different: for some anger, resentment, distaste, disgust, etc. can last for years. For others, those kinds of emotions are quickly replaced by others that lead to making peace with all of it. Humor is very healing! I fall in the latter group.
The end result of this very personalized, Do It Yourself, Exit Process from Mormonism based on the dynamics of our individual lives and families is that former members will very often develop very different World Views and different opinions.
It's natural for human beings to see the world only through their eyes. Changing from a concrete World View with little to no deviation, to one that is open and evolving can be jarring and upsetting when confronted with different opinions. Learning the skills of a skeptic, using logic and reason in a new way can be difficult. It can all: feel wrong at first. Eventually, we each find our niche, usually through experimentation. We find what works for us as a former Mormon.
It's an exhilarating experience! Scary at times! Taking off the Mormon filter from our eyes and ears takes some getting used to. We often completely change our hair styles, and our wardrobe, discarding the regulation garments. The world looks much different. There are new ways of looking at everything. All of our thoughts and actions take on a new perspective.
For me, it was necessary to use humor (daily), write satire and parody, write about the process regularly, and not take it all too seriously. It was also necessary for my sense of well being to know I was OK, to keep my self confidence, self respect, self esteem cooking on high! I was going to change my mind and do it my way! And I could do that. I didn't need to be fixed by anyone or anything. I was not defective. I'd figure it out. I could do that. I also needed to learn how to set boundaries and how to protect myself. That is on-going.
This is my list of how I know I'm out -- or recovered as some say, or the Exit Process is about as done as it's going to get. Like many, I live with and love Mormons and always will. They are some of my relatives and dear friends.
It's important, for me, in my situation to maintain as many positive relationships as possible. (Not always possible, however.)
This is my check list. I read it from time to time to see how I'm doing.
You know you're really out when........ You're made peace with it.
The emotional attachment has been replaced with love of all of life.
The following is how I made peace with it. The short version.
You know you are really out when.....
there are no more resentments, anger, regrets, or self recrimination, explosive responses, name calling, etc.
You know you are really out when....
you can live with and love Mormons and accept them like anyone else.
You know you are really out when.....
you are kind to the missionaries and other members, and maintain a rational relationship and friendship like everyone else.
You know you are really out when...
you understand that Mormonism is a religion like thousands of others and it's OK to change your mind, leave it, and know you are OK and were OK all along.
You know you are really out when .....
you respect all people's rights to choose their own religion (or none) as a valid choice and honor that right.
You know you are really out when....
you love your friends and family regardless of their religious choices.
You know you are really out when...
you own your own power, set healthy boundaries when necessary, and take charge of your own life, living it today, not for some reward after death.
You know you are really out when...
you choose your friends regardless of their religious choices.
You know you are really out when....
you can go to a church building, read their scriptures, articles, etc, attend functions associate with Mormons and remain respectful.
I didn't start out with those goals, but they evolved naturally during my process.
I will always live with and love Mormons. Every person teaches me something, and most often, enriches my life.
What does Recovery mean to you?
| This follows my "Fog to Enlightenment" stages from my personal story on the BIO board (under SusieQ#1) which covers some of the specifics in my personal experience as a convert in Mormonism as my adopted "tribe."
Former/post Mormons typically, experience Mormonism differently and naturally have different opinions, and perspectives. This is mine.
MAKING PEACE WITH IT part one of four
It occurred to me, hearing the comment on a TV show: "make peace with it," that I have been slowly but surely making peace with Mormonism. It was one of those ah-ha moments. Ya. I think I'm doing that!
Time. It takes time to "make peace with it." And work. Hard work.
I have not attended the Mormon Church since the Spring of 1999., The last time I went to the temple was the early part of 1995, at which point, (I don't even remember why now, which made me realize I was making peace with it), I took the regulation skivvies off for good and never put them on again.
As time has passed, relatives and friends have begun to accept that I changed my mind and left the Mormon Church. I have not been challenged, threatened or criticized for a long time.
Consequently, I have been letting go, (little by little) of the frustration, angst, annoyance, and all the rest of it.
Purposely taking a step back, detaching from the emotional attachment/bond, looking in from the outside has been the most positive, beneficial part of my process. It was an act of self preservation.
As I look back, it started early in the 1990's long before I even considered leaving the Mormon Church. And, I don't recall why either! I think that's a "good thing."!
I kept a lot of my posts and comments that I wrote in the early stages . I dig them out now and then to recall my own process. Sometimes I re-post them. It is no longer fresh or raw. It's in the past. If I didn't review my process now and then, I forget a lot of it. Another "good thing"!
I eventually wrote my resignation letter, rewrote it several times and let it sit in a file in my computer for over a year until I was ready to take that step in 2002..
Getting that confirmation letter was a land-mark day! It marked the end of four decades of my life as an adult Mormon convert and opened the door to the rest of my life with me in the drivers seat. It was now my life--totally and completely .It was my own. Ownership was new, but it grew on me very fast. That was a pivotal point in personal empowerment taking my power back.
Living with and loving Mormons and (for the most part these days) just leaving it alone, has helped me find peace with it also.
The initial (short lived) driving need to keep fighting a battle, or trying to get others to come to the same conclusion as I have has been replaced with letting it be. Changing other people is not within my power. They have to do it on their own.
This process has been the hardest work I have done in my life -- learning to take responsibility for my own thinking, my own actions, rewriting automatic thinking scripts, attitudes,internalizing the concept that I was OK all along and didn't need to be fixed by Mormonism or anything else.
Learning to take my power back, making peace with it has resulted in a renewed understand of what happened and why, finding gratitude, appreciation , sprinkled with lots of humor and laughter, with no need for regrets, self sabotage, self incrimination.
The view on the outside is the reward - it is the authentic joy, peace, gratitude, freedom, liberation. I had no idea where it would take me or what awaited me! But I wouldn't trade it for anything!
It has become very apparent, in my experience and observation, that Mormonism, in the big picture, (and in the whole world), really is quite insignificant except to the believers. It is an "in house" religion and culture. Other people know little about it and care even less. For those who have to deal with Mormonism on a daily basis, it can be frustrating as an outsider.
Understanding the power of cognitive dissonance, the mental gymnastics to make the world fit in that little box of Mormonism can be exhausting and extremely frustrating.
In the spirit of bearing a testimony: it is possible to leave/resign from the Mormon Church and find peace with it.
MAKING PEACE WITH IT Part two of four
Taking my power back--depression breakers
These are some of my steps in my personalized, Do It Yourself Project: Exit Process from Mormonism
1. Getting informed - knowledge is power. Know Your Religion 101 from the original documented sources.
2. Adopting an attitude of gratitude - Thanksgiving opens the windows of opportunity for ideas to flow you way." -- Jim Rohn
Learn to be grateful for all of it: the good, the bad the ugly. It has all, eventually, been very useful and added to what I understand about my world before and during and after Mormonism.
3. Use the power of laughter - to keep my healthy. Laughter is the best medicine. This is a step that I cannot leave out. Loosing my sense of humor has disastrous results! Not pretty!
4. Find Depression Breakers. In addition to the three above, In my Exit Process from Mormonism I found myself using several of these -- almost automatically. http://www.beliefnet.com/gallery/depr...
#1 Find more buddies...
I started a Red Hat Society in our area with some other women I didn't know, and kept it running for 2.5 years. I met almost all of the 225 women on our roster! Some are now some of my best friends!
One that I have also found very helpful is :
#4 "Predict Your Weak Spots"
I wanted to replace the "Mormonism Habit! And was that FUN!
I took up knitting - #7 Start a Project! Now I have enough yarn to make items to donate. Winter is coming, it's a great time to start that project. I also began a sewing project making over 200 Fabric Bags to replace plastic shopping bags.
And, on RFM, and elsewhere: I used #8 - Keep a record - posting to this board, keeping some of my posts, has been integral to my process - and that leads to #9 Be the Expert - becoming informed =my new passion: Full Disclosure for Informed Consent and Choice! Entitlement to information. All of it!
I skipped some of this list, or replaced them with my own titles!
Instead of "Get on your knees" I replaced that with finding ways to get rid of problems on my own! I was doing the thinking. I was driving this truck! There was no one else in there with me! That is so self affirming, I wondered how I missed it before! Changing my thinking was invigorating! How empowering - I can change my mind!
#12: Do Nothing
This is a hard one. To me, it means to learn to know when to keep my mouth shut. Anyone who knows me, knows that "sit down and shut up" is not an even remotely natural state to me! But it works--when I use it! It is a way to take your power back - do not engage. It renders the Mormons, in this case, impotent! Rather funny,actually! I had to find that out by trial and more trial! Finally, I think I am "getting it."
What are your "depression breakers" in your exit process of dealing with Mormonism?
MAKING PEACE WITH IT. Part three of four
Mormonism in the Big Picture.
More of my process:
My personalized-- Do It Yourself Project --Exit Process from Mormonism over the last several years, (and all that entails), has led me on a search to understand more about how human beings, as pack animals with an alpha leader, (generally a male), create, and organize their belief systems, how they function in their environment, culture, groups, how they evolve and are sustained, and how they work within the individual human nature and the group .
In that process, I observed that the same general patterns and principles of human behavior appeared everywhere throughout human recorded history.
Human beings organize themselves in families and groups. They organize their world by using several methods; esoteric knowledge being the goal of most. It is almost always metaphysical/supernatural at it's core and is intricately tied to a particular culture, race, environment, geographic location. At least, initially.
Some belief systems easily transfer from one culture to another, some do not. 21's century Mormonism (the only American God Myth) is one that does not transfer that well to many different cultures or races. Catholicism, for instance is one that transfers well to many cultures, races, etc.
Humans in all of recorded history have a desire to understand their world/universe. Religion (usually a deity or many deities and a savior) is up there on the top of the list of how to do that, with the required esoteric knowledge that gives a personal sense of being special in the vast universe.
Some cultures prefer large exclusive organized religion -- some prefer smaller ones, some prefer religions with rules/commandments/requirements for every thought. Some are more laid back, more liberal in their thinking. Some require a savior belief, some do not.
They are based (but not always) on a leader (usually charismatic-dynamic- alpha male) who speaks for their deity with special designations-titles: shamans, ministers, pastors, reverend, apostles, prophets, priests, popes, and on and on. They can also be psychic readers: tarot, rune, astrological signs, Spiritualism and on and on. All of them are based on the same general principles of human survival techniques for a group.
Each deity, especially when organized by an alpha leader is exclusive, territorial, and has some similar organizational polices, except, in the case of pantheons of gods. Almost always, the female is marginalized,( to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group). Typically, males and females have defined roles-some more restrictive than others, and specifically, in many cases, controls her sexuality which controls generations of believers. It is all tightly woven into the culture including their dress, music, traditions, rituals, art, food, etc.
Sometimes different belief systems are combined and accepted by each other. Most often, they are not as deities are generally very territorial. They all claim to be true, and often take the position of the only true deity.
Deities are also generally geographical and environmental. They are created in the imagination/mind of the believers and resemble the image of the believers. Jesus, for instance, in a Creche looks like the race/culture of the believers.
In each case, the believer accepts the belief system, usually from birth as the parameters for their beliefs about almost everything. It is tied up in a package of culture, environment, geography.
They align their thinking to accept or reject notions/ideas/theories/etc based on the dogma/doctrine/teachings of their particular choice. In each case the important stages of their lives are ritualized and given validity and acceptance based on these organized systems: births, coming of age, marriages, deaths, etc.
The 21st century has hit a new peak in our ability to communicate, plus advances in transportation has increased people's ability to intermingle races and cultures. The individual's choices in belief systems has been greatly expanded and in many cases, accepted. Acceptance of individual change, although difficult in many cases is becoming more acceptable also.
Power in religious belief systems, for instance, is generally geographical. The more believers of one system in an area, the greater their ability to govern education, politics, and the society as a whole. etc. The belief in the religion, for instance, gains most of it's power through financial support. In fact, it almost always determines the level of power the religious belief system has in any specific area.
Gaining some understanding of how belief systems, religion in general, and Mormonism in particular, work in the world throughout human history has helped to me to take my power back from any and all claimed ecclesiastical authority.
First and foremost, religious belief systems are our human right. All belief systems of worship are a cult in the general definition. Some are more controlling than others. Anyone can choose any of them at any time. And they can change their mind at any time. Some are easier to get out of than others, our personal experience shows that Mormonism is often very difficult as it is one that is tied to the family unit, it's culture, genealogy, history, society,etc.
Those religious groups such as Mormonism are more accurately categorized as a tribe. They are predominately a generational, cultural, societal, familial, traditional, governmental (in many cases) religious tribe.
This understanding is the basis of how I deal with Mormonism, how it fits in the world, and how it has been a part of in my past and how it fits in my present life. I have released it's hold on my thinking, keeping the basic human beliefs of love and decency, etc, and created a new world view for the rest of my life which is still evolving.
That is part of my process of
"making peace with it."
MAKING PEACE WITH IT Part four
Mormonism and the power of myth, fable legend.
These are the some of the standard definitions of myth, legend, fable that apply to my analysis.
1 a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon b : PARABLE , ALLEGORY
2 a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone ; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society b : an unfounded or false notion
3 : a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence
4 : the whole body of myths
1 a : a story coming down from the past ; especially : one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable b : a body of such stories c : a popular myth of recent origin d : a person or thing that inspires legends e : the subject of a legend
a fictitious narrative or statement: as a : a legendary story of supernatural happenings b : a narration intended to enforce a useful truth ; especially : one in which animals speak and act like human beings c : FALSEHOOD , LIE
Most of us grew up believing (and most still do) the legend that George Washington, as a small child could not tell a lie when asked if he chopped down a cherry tree by his father.
The story goes like this: (see link)
George Washington's Story about the Cherry Tree- Presidents' Day Legends for kids http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holi...
The facts are:
Washington's biographer, Mason Weems, wrote a book called "The Life of Washington" http://americanhistory.about.com/gi/d... shortly after his death where he created this myth as a way to show Washington's honesty.
I used this example to show how Mormonism has evolved. The accepted version, taught as history and doctrine by the Mormons of Joseph Smith Jr and the Nephite Record, the translation, the Book of Mormon, and all the rest of it has become mostly legend, fables, and myth, the only American God Myth.
This accounts, at least in part, for why believers are so adamant about their beliefs.
Who is going to counter the George Washington cherry tree story and say it is false? Even if it is shown to be false, the illustration by allegory of honesty is the point of the story.
It is a principle, a religious faith , how a deity works within mankind, that is the point of the stories/history told in Mormonism. That is where the notion of "faith promoting' comes from. It is not the factual evidence of the details that are important, it is the moral of the story, so to speak.
Mormonism affirms generally held concepts through their beliefs (created by myth and legend) that God speaks, predominately to specially chosen men .
One of the more prominent legends/myths held by Mormons is the story of the crickets and the seagulls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_...
Mormonism like most of religious myth/legend is believed because of an emotional attachment to the story line, the moral of the story, so to speak. It resonates with the people through their experiences, (often environmental and generational) their general notions of how God works, and the need for a savior, currently a common Christian notion - although it is not new - see Mithraism, for instance http://www.near-death.com/experiences/origen048.html
The details or accuracy of the claim/story is, for the most part, not important. They can differ greatly, be fictional, false, not verifiable,and still maintain the lesson to be learned, or the belief in the supernatural, or the moral of the story, etc.
The power of the supernatural to reinforce a human truth works is a constant in human history. It could be any literature held as sacred by the believers: the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, etc.
These are fundamental concepts of how religion and belief systems in general work within the human mind. Their power is not in the factual evidence, but in the traditional myths and legends.
Is Mormonism true? Sure it is. It's true myth and legend, predominately.
Do the facts matter? No. Those are secondary to the power of faith that sustains the myth and legends.
These fundamental concepts have helped me greatly to understand how we humans generally think, believe, behave.
The power of myth, legend, fable, allegory, etc. cannot be discounted or underestimated. The literature of humanity is replete with it. Children's stories, in particular are excellent examples. These fundamental elements will continue to provide the foundation for human interaction, behavior, beliefs, faith, societies, politics, and on and on.
Understanding how myth and legend work throughout humanity as opened my mind, again to the Big Picture and how my personal experiences with religions have fit in it.
This is a big step, for me, personally, in "making peace with it."
| It was the first week in January 2009. It was cold and it was dark and gray, and there was ice over the water. I had come to my favorite place to think and to ponder my life. I walked down the hill and was stood by the edge. It was terrifying and it was exhiliarating as I stood there, and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to walk into the water and drown- I knew the ice would fold and break around me and I would lose my strength and it would be the end. Witnesses would probably later say that the man had been standing there and just walked out onto the thin ice and disappeared without a struggle...
What brought me to this terrible point? It was a letter from my Bishop. Leading up to that letter was May or June of 2007 when I watched the tape of PBS' The Mormons that my wife had taped while I was at work. I did not know who the Islamic Studies Professor was on the show, but he was telling the old antimormon lie about Joseph Smith using a seerstone to translate the Golden Plates. I saw the whole show over the next few nights and saw the antimormon lies, But wait! they were being admitted by church people- Mountain Meadows, Temple Blood Oaths, Polygamy...After a few days I saw the Islamic Professor was actually a head spokesman for FAIRLDS, a proLDS explanation (apologetics) organization. So I watched that tape again-stone in a hat again and again Multiple vision stories- stone in a hat. So when nobody was home one morning I googled 'seerstones' and the floodgates of information burst open. The first thing I rermember was coming across the evidence of the Book of Abraham. It was undeniable that the papyrusand the facsimiles had absolutely nothing to do with LDS theology. Everything in that book was a complete and total fabrication. Before noon I had discovered also the truth about Post-Manifesto Polygamy, Zina Huntingtons tragic story and seerstones. I vomited over and over again.
Several months of obsessive study and long sleepless nights would follow. My house of cards had fallen flat and I was frantically trying to put it back together again.
The fear and confusion were terrible. Bitter pain and fear of damnation were in my every waking moment. I desperately wanted the church to be true, but every true documented account pointed away from the church. It would be nine months of solitary despair before telling my wife and four more of attending different churches while attending to my calling at church. I did it out of duty. My Bishop and I went the rounds many times. At first he was understanding and very supportive. As my faith dwindled and my assertiveness in standing by the truth grew, our relationship deteriorated until he was yelling at me, and at my wife. Finally, I and my wife resigned our callings and stopped going for good. The shunning began, former friends would avoid me on the street, and my wifes friends would belittle her in the store.
Now, in the last week of December the Bishopric Christmas card arrived in the mailbox. It contained a letter- a form letter obviously ordered from a company in Philadelphia. It called on us to hear the words of the living prophet Thomas Monson to come back (actually he used Pres.Hunters talk) . The letter invited me to cast aside whatever sin or offense afflicted me, and come to the Bishop who would make for my easy transition into full fellowship with the saints. I was heartbroken. My Bishop, who was also a personal friend had slapped me in the face with this letter, which intimated that I left due to laziness, fear, sin, and indifference. None of these were true, and he knew it. I left the church because of the things the prophets wrote and did.
So here I was, standing at the edge of freezing water with no reason to live. My only regret was that I should have brought the card and letter in a ziplok baggie taped to my chest. The news and police would be all over the church and I would be vindicated. It was so inevitable, I even began to run my toe over the exposed water. It was ice cold. Suddenly I snapped out of it and walked very rapidly up the hill to the car. I was shaking, and I was terrified- what had happened? Should I go to the hospital? I could barely drive.
That night I told my dear wife what had happened. She was furious. She cursed the church with a vehemence that frankly scared me. But she was right- the church had driven me, a faithful saint to the edge of suicide, and there could be no further allowance for its influence in our lives.
It has been a full year now since that day, and a year and a half since I last set foot in a Mormon building, and in that time I have discovered that despite all my fears, all that I was taught from childhood, and have proclaimed to others, and despite that I would never give another blessing, or teach from the pulpit, or be sustained by my peers, that truly the pathway to happiness lies in the opposite direction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
| Why I Left, and Why I Didn't
Recently, I have been asked by family members why I even bother to keep tabs on what the Mormon church is doing even though I’m not involved with it anymore. “If it’s such a thorn in your side,” they say, “then why do you even talk about it anymore?” Here’s the thing…something that was a huge part of your life for 25 years, even something that determined how you lived your life during that time, is not so easy to put in the past. Not only that, but once I found out that it was all a bunch of lies, I became very concerned about the effects it was having on the rest of my family. My biggest questions were about the why. Why are they hiding all these things? Why are they currently lying about things that happened in the past? Why does my family immediately consider me an ignorant person when I stop agreeing with them? Why doesn’t anyone make honest inquiries into the deeper parts of the religion?
The Book of Mormon is not a historically accurate book. It was clearly written in 19th century language. It steals stories from other books and attempts to pass them off as original. Joseph Smith was a philanderer who got greedy and developed a bit of an ego trip once he realized that people were actually listening to his gibberish. I believe the only reason that Mormonism has survived this long is because they retreated to a part of the country which was, at that point, fairly unpopulated, where they were able to grow their numbers without interference from anyone else…unfortunately. They practiced polygamy in secret, lied about it, and even continued to practice it after it was outlawed. In fact, they still believe in polygamy of a sort. It is the new and everlasting covenant after all. If they are faithful and become as gods, they can all (ok well, the men can) inherit their own little planet and have multiple wives and continue procreating to their heart’s content.
They make robots out of their members. Everyone must act the same, dress the same, talk the same, eat the same, participate in the same activities, pay the same percentage of their income, go on missions and attend the temple at specified times, give talks and prayers on demand, and do everything in their power to protect the image of the church. Intellectualism is discouraged. Individuality is discouraged. Questioning anything about the church, even the leaders, is expressly discouraged. Knowing a lot of ex-Mormons, as I do, I can only say that anyone who succeeds, or even attempts, to leave such a stifling institution has a profound sense of bravery. We have stepped outside and felt loss, and even defeat in some cases, but we have been true to ourselves.
“Britta has joined the popular crowd.” That is yet another flimsy excuse for my disaffection with LDS, Inc. that my family has come out with. To that I should say, why don’t you leave the church for a few weeks and see how “popular” it makes you? Let’s do a little experiment. Tell your friends and family that you no longer subscribe to the doctrine and see how many “friends” you have left. See how excruciatingly popular you become with your family members. It really is, aaaah…excruciating. See how you feel when people call you names and take down your pictures because they are a “painful reminder.” I did not leave and join a very popular crowd, by any means.
For the record, I also did not leave because it was easy, to be rebellious, or because I had a tiff with someone. I left because the religion is false, built on lies and deceit, and I wanted to take control of my own life. I could no longer pretend that I believed it was true, that it was making me happy, or that it made me feel any better about my mortality. In fact, I did everything right, and I was far from happy. I went on all the youth temple trips, I graduated from seminary and young women’s, I stayed chaste until I was married (which I can’t say for a lot of the girls I was in YW with), I married in the temple, went to Institute classes, I paid my tithing, and so on. I studied my way out. I knew the scriptures. Come to find out, I didn’t really know the religion, but when I finally figured it out, it proved itself false. As I’ve said before, anyone with any intellectual integrity should attempt to examine the ins and outs of something that they are basing their whole life on.
So go ahead and say that I’ve veered off the path. Or that I didn’t exercise my faith enough. Say that I am lost…make your assumptions about how unhappy I must be without the Mormon church in my life. Point out my flaws and past mistakes. Tell yourself whatever convenient lies that you have to, to keep yourself isolated in that little bubble, and to keep yourself from exploring deeper on your own. Don’t ask me to be silent. I rant because I care. I pay attention because I feel that it matters. My anger fuels my hopes of fostering change for the good of all. I will not pray for that change; I will take action.
| My wife had just given birth to our first child and didn't want to go back on the pill while she was nursing. We also wanted to try for another child in a year or so and the whole pill experience for her prior to our first child being born was not a pleasant experience. So we decided to go the condom route.
At first it was a little embarassing to go to the pharmacy and buy them. I imagine it was from my upbringing when I was told over and over in Priesthood, FHE, and worthiness interviews that sex was bad and that birth control methods weren't 100% safe and how embarassed I'd be if one day I was buying them and my parents, or even worse my girlfriend's parents, walked in and saw me buying them. So I'd always had a problem even being on the same aisle as the birth control aids.
One day my wife was shopping and she had decided to pick up a box of condoms as we were running low. She was in the check-out line and behind her was our Bishop's wife. She was a kind and unassuming lady who I'm sure took her daily dose of Prozac to help her cope with 7 kids and a husband who was gone all the time. She and my wife talked for a few seconds while the cashier bagged the groceries and then my wife paid and left the store.
The following Sunday during PEC the Bishop asked me if he could see me for a few minutes afterward. When the door had closed and everyone had left his office he asked me to sit down as he had something he needed to tell me. Of course a thousand scenarios ran through my mind from my parents died in a car accident that morning to I was getting released. In apprehension I awaited the news as he took his place behind his desk.
He said, "Brother TheDrive, I have reason to believe that your wife if having an affair behind your back. Now I can handle this two ways. I can call her in and she can confess to you and I, or I can visit with her privately and keep those conversations private. I'm comfortable with either choice but wanted to give you the decision as to how I need to proceed." I felt the blood rushing to my head and my vision began to go gray as I saw my marriage crumbling before my eyes. My wife, who had waited for me while I was on my mission, who had given birth to our first child 6 months earlier ("was the child even mine?" I wondered), who I loved more than anything was cheating on me?
I told the Bishop that I'd like to confront her by myself first to see what she said before I did anything else. He said that he was there for me and would do whatever I needed him to do. We shook hands and I left his office. I walked into the chapel and sat on one of the benches and wondered what I had done to make my wife want to cheat on me. We had a great sex life, we ate dinner together, went on dates, traveled, and did everything that happily married couples are supposed to do. Yet somehow it wasn't enough. She had gone somewhere else for sexual pleasure which meant that I wasn't as good as I thought. I was hurt and angry but secided to put on a happy face while I was at church.
A little while later my wife walked in with our baby. She came and sat down next to me as we listened to the prelude music. I had leaned forward with my head in my hands and she placed her hand on my back and started rubbing my nexk and shoulders like she always did. I wondered why she would continue to play the lovey-feely game and how she was so good at faking her love for me. I pushed her hand away and sat up. I didn't speak with her throughout the entire Sacrament meeting. After Sacrament she left for her class and I went for a drive as I tried to get my thoughts together. I came back for Priesthood and conducted the meeting as soon as we had the closing prayer I left. I drove myself home and waited for her to walk in.
I counted the minutes. "What was taking so long? Is she at his house for quickie? She should be here by now." Thoughts ran through my head. Eventually I heard the garage door and knew that I needed to confront her or I'd go crazy.
She walked in and dropped her purse on the counter. She took the baby to his room and laid him down in his crib. She went back to our room and went into the bathroom. I knew she was in there cleaning up after her quickie on the way home. I walked back to the bedroom and waited for her to come out of the bathroom. As soon as she walked out I said, "I heard about your affair. So who is it?" She said, "What are you talking about? I don't know who you've been talking to or what crazy idea someone has but that is the funniest thing I've heard in a long time." And she turned her back to me and started to take off her church clothes and hang them in the closet. I said that the Bishop called me in and told me that he had reason to believe she was having an affair with someone. She started laughing and said, "He told you that? The Bishop said that? Now I've seen it all. His stupid wife was behind me in line at the store the other night and must have seen the stupid rubbers in my basket. She probably told him and theythink that I'm having an affair because no woman ever buys rubbers unless she is cheating right? Give me a freaking break! Do you want to call him or should I, because I'll tell him exactly what happened and he can tell his wife to mind her own freaking business!"
I told her that I'd deal with it but just to be sure, she has never, ever, ever cheated on me. She said that she swore on her life that she has never cheated on me and never would because, "The aftermath would be too expensive. I couldn't afford to live on my own after you kicked me out. I refuse to live with my parents and the humiliation wouldn't be worth it. I guess you're stuck with me forever."
So here we are years later and still married. But for a few hours on a Sunday morning I thought my marriage was over. All due to a box of condoms and a nosy Bishop's wife.
I never spoke with the Bishop about it again. He never brought it up either. Being the TBM Morgbot that I was, and an EQP who was bucking for Bishop's Counselor, I didn't want to make waves. I was called as his Exec Secretary a few months later.
My wife chalked it up to the standard gossip that happens in the church. She is more grounded than I and I suspect that this experience was one which sat on her shelf until the shelf collapsed with the weight all of the other issues.
On a side-note the Bishop's wife and another lady had a bet on how long our marriage would last. We found out about the bet a few years after we had been married. They made the bet in the Celestial Room in the Portland Temple the day we were married.
The Bishop was released a few years later after not accomplishing much. I saw him as the ward babysitter. Not much growth or retention. He was a good guy who was serving his time until the next guy came in.
We moved a couple years later and have lost track of him and his family although one of his sons is a FB friend of mine.
| A previous post got me thinking about how I went from TBM to atheist. The poster of that thread asked if anyone lost their belief in God first, rather than the usual process of losing their belief in the church first, then reaching the conclusion of atheism. I responded in the affirmative, that belief in an all powerful sky daddy evaporated first before I came to terms with the sham that is the Morg.
That period of my life is relatively very recent. I had many doubts and questions, starting very young in life, but I was always able to shelve the questions or make a self-convincing apology. I remember reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn. The premise of the book is that human knowledge is always contingent, never complete or perfect.
Instead, human knowledge, and particularly scientific theory, must proceed from a standpoint of an attempt to account for all the available data. A hypothesis is proposed to explain the available data, and it either will explain the data better and more consistently than prior theories, or it won't. If it doesn't, the hypothesis is discarded. If it explains the available data, and can withstand the emergence of new data from, say, experimentation and new observation, then the hypothesis takes on the respect of theory. A new generation of scientists, devoted to the theory, devise experiment after experiment to prove the theory, and wave after wave of new data emerge. Over time, these experiments and observations inevitably lead to the discovery of anomolies, or data that aren't immediately and elegantly explainable by the basic terms of the theory. Scientists will attempt to explain the anomolies in terms of the theory, or modify the basic theory in order to account for the new data in such a way that the theory can still account for the entire corpus of knowledge.
Eventually, however, the emergent anomolies become so numerous, and modifications to the theory become so cumbersome and inelegant, that a new hypothesis will emerge to replace the old theory. To gain acceptance as a theory, the new hypothesis must seamlessly and elegantly account for all the known data at least as well as the old theory. In other words, the new hypothesis cum theory must not suffer from anomolitis. None of the known data should be anomolous to it. If the new hypothesis can accomplish this, then it becomes a theory that replaces the old theory.
The replacement of an old, worn out theory with the emergence of a new one is often referred to as a "gestalt shift." Gestalt is a term borrowed from psychology. It refers to those drawings that, depending on how your psyche interprets the image, can appear to be an old hag or a beautiful lady. You view the picture, and your psyche filters the data to make it appear one way or the other. If you see only the old hag, and someone says "Look again. There's a beautiful girl there," you may experience a moment of disorientation, and then a major "aha!" moment where the new explanation accounts for much in the image you at first didn't grasp.
The emergence of a new scientific theory causes the scientific community to experience a theoretic gestalt shift, and once the newer, better theory gains general acceptance, a new cycle of experimentation and verification begins. The new round of experimentation, of course, produces its own anomolies, and perfect knowledge remains ever elusive. This is the process by which Ptolomeic (Earth-centric) cosmography was replaced by a Copernican Sun-centric one, which was eventually replaced when astronomers discovered that the sun is actually in the suburbs of the Milky Way Galaxy. It's the process by which Newtonian mechanics were replaced by Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics.
This book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, had a profound effect on me, because it forced me to examine my own theory of the universe, specifically the God hypothesis. I realized consciously, for the first time, what I had been doing by shelving my religious doubts and making weak apologies. I had been accumulating anomolies, and I discovered almost in a flash that those anomolies vastly outweighed the evidences for the God hypothesis.
Some of those anomolies included the following: unanswered prayers; lack of any overwhelming conviction by the Spirit; prophesies and blessings made by priesthood leaders in my life that did not come true; others testifying they felt the Spirit when I spoke, when I did not feel it myself; knowing consciously that I was lying when I testified that I knew something; bigoted ideas and statements from "the Lord's annointed"; an awareness that my financial circumstances were not improved by my tithes; the death of my wife after a mere year of marriage, even though the Spirit told me that she was my eternal companion; others testifying they saw her or felt her presence at my later remarriage, even though I myself (the one most entitled) could not see or sense her; the strong awareness that the Church and sincere service in the Church gave me only fatigue, doubt, stress and guilt, when leaders told me it should lead to happiness; and on and on and on.
It very quickly dawned on me that all of these facts (and many more) had to be explained away by the God and Mormon hypothesis, and that I was tired of explaining and apologizing. So I tried a mental exercise. I thought to myself "Does the universe and my life make more or less sense if there is no God?" Everything, EVERYTHING, made eminently more sense, and immediately so. A secular universe accounted for every anomoly in my physical and mental life, without losing any explanatory power anywhere else.
For about two weeks, I feared the conclusion that there is no God. From a "Pascal's wager" sensibility, I attempted not to become atheist. I thought I don't want to lose my soul if I'm wrong. But I knew, deep down, that atheism is the only possible conclusion that I could hold with any amount of integrity. I accepted a secular universe, and then I embraced it.
The moment that God dissolved in my psyche, it was as if light burst forth in my soul. I had never, even as a small child, felt as healthy as I now did. I had gone from seeing life as a haggard witch one day, to seeing life as a beautiful lady the next. It was a grand gestalt shift that has improved the quality of my inner life in innumerable ways. I have never, not for a moment, regretted my discovery that there is no God and that all religion (including the Morg) is nothing but the cheapest charlatanry.
My only regret is that I didn't discover it sooner. I have always considered myself not entirely unintelligent, and I have always had a philosophical bent. I'm still discovering the mechanisms by which the Morg and society in general kept me shackled to the God lie, in hopes that it will heal me of all the harm I know I suffered.
I know this has been a long post, but it's been the journey of my soul. Thanks for reading.
| I am often asked about how I do it.
This is an overview and a little background from some prior posts.
Everyone's situation is different. It requires compromise, something that is not always easy to do.
I finally recognized that I needed to accept that we both have rights.
There is a right that we often forget. :-)
The right to believe in Mormonism.
That comes into play when one partner changes their mind about their beliefs in the LDS Church's claims.
I was a Mormon for over three decades--certainly, if anyone understood that I would! As a young adult convert, it was my "adopted tribe." I adjusted to the culture shock. It wasn't easy, but I made it work. Besides, I am a bulldog - I have a tenacious personality, I will do the work to find a way for the best outcome!
I could no longer accept or belief the claims, (another story for another time), so ... how do we handle that in our marriage? I was done. Through. Not going to be a Mormon anymore. I needed to tell my husband, and interestingly, he accepted it and asked what I needed from him. I told him I needed him to live the 11th Article of Faith and he said he would, and he has.
(11th Article of Faith: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. )
Also, it seemed reasonable to "take turns" about a few things. We had done it his way for over 30 years, now he could do it my way, about a few things. And we have! :-)
I completely stopped attending the LDS Church in my late 50's in 1998 after some traumatic events. The last one was The Man in the Restroom story. That was the impetus for figuring out "what is wrong with this picture" and lead to months of research and study, much on line and from books and from a family member doing the same thing. A few years later, my husband retired. I had all ready retired from my last business that I owned. Later, I resigned my membership in 2002.
One Big Lesson I needed to learn,(after making a big mess):
just because I changed my mind, that is no guarantee my spouse will,or anyone else for that matter.
And why would he? Initially, I had the expectation that if I changed my mind, everyone else would. Ahh...not so fast, it does not work that way.
I am 100% certain that there is no way my believing husband of over seven decades will change his mind about his beliefs in Mormonism. I used to think it was just a matter of some information, or hey, look what I found, did you know this, but I did not take into consideration the immense power of the spiritual witness and the power of the belief by faith. That was a wall I could not surmount. And, believe me, I tried.
What I initially failed to take into account, was the power of that belief by faith that others have, that is paramount in Christianity in general, as I well know, coming from a long line of Christian ministers. Nothing new there. They didn't change their faith, or change their mind either.
Well. ....What to do?
Hmmm..... I needed to set some priorities and make a decision that would have the best possible outcome and pay attention to some basic facts of life: nobody can change anybody else. I had to sit with that for a long time to finally "get it." I had to do the work to let go of the emotional attachment to the expectation (a little Buddhism helped me with this), and that I did not have the power to change another person. That was a biggie!
Then I needed to ask myself:
Can I make peace with that?
Can I let it go?
Can I leave it alone and not make it an issue? (This was very hard!)
Then I learned something that took me a lot of years to finally "get" -- it's only an issue if I make it one! Ahh... I had options -- and lots of them. I didn't have to make my decision into more than it was -- or don't make a mountain out of a mole hill.
Maybe, sometimes, people just give in. They can't out-talk or out-fight their partner, they are worn down, so they acquiesce and go along to get along! But did I want that? Clearly -- no.
Maybe, just maybe, the marriage and that investment of love, time, family, financial, emotional issues, etc. is much, much, much more important that a difference of opinion about some beliefs ! Could I make peace with that? You bet I could! Probably helped that I was a convert and had a couple of decades of life prior to Mormonism that was part of who I was also.
I realized early on that I needed to give myself permission to do the work to find my own path to inner happiness and peace. And, that is what happened, little by little. Making Peace with it all was not a conscious goal, it was the result of the process of rewriting thinking scripts left over from Mormonism, seeing The Big Picture and creating my new World View, all the while protecting my self respect, self confidence, etc. I was OK all along. Making peace with my life, all of it was the natural result.
That meant I was learning to process the past, let it go and focus on living in the Now. It's not easy, my mind likes to back and rework things, repeat the past in my head. But did I need that? NOPE! Sure didn't. That included making peace with my life as a Mormon and making peace with my life as a former Mormon. There were no: wouldas, shouldas, couldas, what if's.
It required that I do the work. I was the one to change my attitude and change my focus. Just thinking about it was overwhelming. So, I had to practice some skills. They were new ones. I did some study, research, read a bunch of books, took classes and found out what I needed to do. I needed to learn the skills of focusing on today, having an attitude of gratitude. I needed to learn to be more skeptical, use critical thinking skills, less gullible; think about what I wanted to accept and believe from any source. No more: go along to get along just because someone else is doing it, or believes it, or suggested I do it.
Some things are just not worth fighting or arguing about for or against.
We can't all be the same.
We can't all believe the same things.
We can't be everything to anyone all the time.
What did I want for myself and my family: I wanted everything that was within my power.
Next I had to figure out what was within my power and what was not.
I decided: I am not going to give up anything; not one iota of my investment in my family, home, marriage because I changed my mind about my beliefs in Mormonism. We are people first. Beliefs second. Once I set that priority and kept it firmly planted in my mind, life started to flow peacefully. It was like opening up a damn that I had constructed within myself. When I let go, things began to flow much more smoothly.
The result: we have a peaceful life for the most part; he is a believer and I am not. He has his beliefs, and I have mine. Do they agree all the time. Absolutely not. Why would we? Is it OK to argue, and make a fuss? Sure it is. We can do that. We can be passionate about our differences. We have agreed to disagree. And, why not? It's OK. We can do that, no matter what the issue is.
I hope to get to 50 plus years of marriage and not let something as insignificant as a difference of opinion about religiously based claims and belief by faith divide us or our family! Do we have to work on it? Of course we do!
So.... life goes on and on and on.
We make the best with what we have.
The older we get, the more changes and health issues we face. Some very scary ones! It's a struggle, but it's always worth it.
We play the cards we are dealt. Not everyone gets the same cards!
I chose well. My spouse is a good man. And, I am told, those are hard to find! :-)
I have a "fix it" personality which I have learned is not always needed! ;-)
It is not always easy, or smooth sailing, but with a little effort and a positive attitude it is so much easier! Resentments and anger melt away in the face of a positive attitude and laughter. Wow. How did I miss that?
There was no room for negative self talk, or negative energy either. I knew I was OK. I knew I could do anything I set my mind to. I have to slap myself around some times and knock some sense into my head...again, and again....and admit my errors, take responsibility, make amends, and start over, dozens of times, but the more I stay on course, stay focused on what I really wanted for myself and my family, the easier it becomes.
Appreciation is an amazing power supply. It's like magic. Practically nobody can resist it! :-) It's surprising how far a simple compliment will go! A -- thank you!
Just walk down the street or drive your car with a smile on your face !
Say something to get a laugh from someone. They won't forget you. It will break down barriers and open doors.
I have learned that life is best lived with a sense of humor. A lot of laughter every day. I'm so convinced of the health benefits of laughter (well documented) it ought to be prescribed by doctors! :-)
With what years I have left, I have given myself permission to get to the laughter, find the fun and enjoy it. A smile and laughter is contagious! Practically nobody can resist that either!
Difference of opinions, in the long run of a very long life with good people are really not that important! ahh... What a relief to know it's OK to let go, let it be, don't let the past mess up my present....... and just ....enjoy today!
[These are my observations and conclusions. They are subject to change as I receive "further light and knowledge"!-]
| The poster Fetal Deity asks if there was an incident that seemed like a Mormon leader or prophet had received divine inspiration would that make you think twice about having left the Mormon Church; iow, would seeming inspiration or miracle cause you to view that church (or any church?) as being one you should join.
My answer is No. Even if a bona fide miracle occurred (!) I ask what is the message, if any, supposed to be. Is there one true group to which all humans must belong (as I thought in my youthful searching days)? Or do miracles, if they occur at all, happen all over in different areas and groups, to diverse people, with no particular message attached, not meant to apply to all people for all time?
I am not one to jump on the miracle train as I am down-to-earth in that regard, believing in fact, proof and science first, far before accepting "miracle" as the explanation for an event. Even with the Chilean miner rescue, which was hailed as a miracle, I say that in a general sense it seems "miraculous" that there was a happy ending to what at first seemed like a tragedy, but in reality and being objective (my default position in most things) the "miracle" of the happy ending came about through engineering know-how, fierce determination, hard work, and the actions and grit of the miners themselves. I don't take away from the people involved their deep faith that sustained them, miner and family member and rescuer alike, but I don't think "God" decided these miners should live while others in similar circumstances should die. If nobody had done anything above or below the surface except sit around and wait for God to perform a rescue I am certain the outcome would have been different. It took people power toeffect the "miracle". And if the miners did survive and did get out of their gigantic hole without all the people power, then you may be talking miracle. But that isn't the way it went down.
I think that in large part our conclusions arise from the perspective we bring to a situation. If you want to give God the credit you will see things through that filter. If you are more down-to-earth and analytical you will see the various human elements that played a major role in the outcome.
Too, the meaning we attach to an occurrence affects our beliefs and actions. If I see certain events as "miraculous" I may make different choices than I would otherwise. I felt that I had some "spiritual" experiences that led me to join the Mormon Church. If I had seen a bigger picture, perhaps I would have had a different perspective that could have reduced the "spiritual" element down to a more "human" happening that would, indeed, affect my conclusions and choices.
And then there are always my bottom line questions: Even IF a "miracle" occurred, or at least something that was deeply significant to me, how do I interpret the "message", if any? Can I be the recipient of a so-called miracle without it meaning I should join a specific group? Now I think so. Previously I attached meaning to events that I see now likely was not there. It's all in how you look at things.
Re the volcano thing with McKay, even IF it was inspiration or revelation or a miracle, so what. Would that have any special significance for all people everywhere? (As in Join Mormonism!) Would one so-called inspired thought or action mean that the Mormon Church is the only true place for everybody to be, even if it was a bad fit for 98% of the world's population? I know people who greatly dislike associating with the Mormon Church but due to one fleeting unproven "divine" incident they interpret that to mean the church is true and I have to stick it out even if it kills me.
Fortunately for me, I just did not believe that God intended for me to be intensely miserable 24/7, so I was able to go with my gut feeling to get out. In the end, I could reconcile that even IF miracles occurred, the message was not necessarily that the Mormon Church was the answer for every human, living or dead. I certainly wouldn't equate one moment of apparent revelation with being the truth of the universe.
That's why I say so what to McKay's volcano antics. It's weak, very weak, to regard that experience (if it even happened) as being a moment of meaningful inspiration/revelation/miracle. Like most similar incidences, it is too obscure, too limited, too subjective, too open for interpretation, too lacking in proof and too miniscule to be a message for the masses. I certainly would not endlessly endure a life inside Mormonism based on McKay's Mormon Moment. There's just not enough substance and it's too stupid. Any normal person with an ounce of common sense would be "inspired" to extract themselves from an environment of molten lava asap. In fact, most of us wouldn't climb down into an active volcano in the first place and then no "miracle" would be needed to save us. It's a moment of basic common sense (even if a little late) on McKay's part, certainly not an inspiration sufficient for people to flock to "the true church" over it. You'd think. And to state the obvious, even if McKay was inspired to get out ofthe fiery pit (duh) does that make the Mormon Church "true"? Uh, no. People do (illogically) ascribe meaning in that way though. Fortunately for me, I'm not one of them. At least wrt Mormonism.
At this point, if God wants me to be Mormon I'm gonna need a mighty big shove and irrefutable miracle moment to get me there. Even then I'd be saying are you kiddin' me. The pitiful callings, the boring meetings, the signs, the tokens, the crazy handshakes, passing through the veil courtesy of an aged male, the judgements, the criticisms, the absence of spirituality, the constant misery. I can't go through all that again.
| Both of my parents converted to Mormonism in the 1960s. My mother was Catholic and my father Protestant. Both came from large families that my sisters and I have never met. They weren’t disowned; they chose TSCC over their own families and never looked back. My father has a daughter from a previous LDS marriage. I met her only twice as a child and the last time I saw her was in the mid 1980s. He somehow got the permission from TSCC to divorce his first wife because my parents were wed in the Salt Lake City Temple in 1974. My sister Heather is their honeymoon baby. Holly came a year later, I a year after that, and Carrie 2-years after me.
My father was in the Air Force (now retired) and we were raised in military wards. I knew as a young child that there was something different about us. Most of my friends knew their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We didn’t. I remember being taught about Forever Families and hoping that someday I would meet mine. My parents are fanatical and hardly ever mentioned their relatives to us. When they did come up it was how they didn’t have the True and Everlasting Gospel and were sinners.
My little sister and I were abused physically and emotionally by both of our parents. I left home at 17, finished high school while working full time at a fast food restaurant. I have have had little communication with my parents since. Carrie ran off a year later and became a transient in San Francisco. I followed in my father’s footsteps and enlisted in the Air Force after graduating. Carrie got pregnant by a man in his 50s when she was 17. She called home and asked to see if she could come and stay with my parents. They declined to take her back. I called them to see if I could help persuade them to change their minds. My father told me I was to blame because I led her from the church due to my bad example. She had her baby at 18 and was homeless and hooked on drugs. I was stationed in Hawaii when I next heard from Carrie. She told me that my niece had died from SIDS. Instead of having compassion for her loss my parents acted as if nothing happened. They didn’t even attempt to find Carrie to help her or offer condolences. I took Emergency Leave and flew to San Francisco to find Carrie. While attempting to make funeral arrangements for her daughter she disappeared. I didn’t hear from her for over 8-years.
While stationed in the Azores (Portuguese Islands) I heard from a childhood friend that Carrie was incarcerated in Chowchilla, California at the Women’s Prison. I reached out to her. She replied and told me that she was in contact with our parents and that they didn’t understand why I wouldn’t contact them. I told her that my hatred for them extends beyond the years of abuse we endured. I blame them for what happened to her. She told me that she was scheduled to be released from prison the following year. I desperately wanted to see her since she was the only member of my family I had made contact with since leaving home. I was married with a daughter of my own when I found Carrie. We wrote each other about our lives and planned on reuniting upon her release. I put in for orders to California, and surprisingly I received them. Carrie was released from prison a few weeks before our scheduled reunion.
On April 21, 2008 I was notified by the American Red Cross Liaison that my sister was involved in a serious vehicle crash. I called my mother and told her that I was taking Emergency Leave and heading up to San Francisco. That was the first and only words we’ve had in over 12-years. When I arrived at the hospital I was told that my sister had a Global Brain Injury and was on life support. She had a 0% chance of survival. I held her hand, told her I loved her, and within a few hours she died. My parents didn’t bother showing until after she passed. I drove more than 6 hours to be with her (100+ mph). They were only a few hours away. I left the hospital after she passed and out of respect for her I didn’t engage my parents. I’m an Atheist now, but if there is a God, I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity than be linked to those two monsters. The idea of the Mormon “Forever Families” is sickening. Mormons will forsake their own children in order to present a false image of wholesomeness. I have had my name removedfrom TSCC. I distrust Mormons and I never again will have anything to do with my parents or their cult!
| I became an atheist less then 6 months ago and it's been a long journey.
I was born and raised mormon. My family moved from Indiana to Nevada and back to Indiana while I was growing up. I went through a typical rebellious phase as a teenager and was inactive for a time, but it was what I knew and believed in. I would defend it at every turn and was utterly confused that others did not understand and/or accept what I had been taught.
I also had massive guilt trips and depression for not living up to "mormon standard" of perfection that no one can meet. I would constantly beat myself up and feel like shit for acting on the raging emotions and hormones of growing up.
I was planning on going through ROTC at Purdue and go into the military when I graduated (was a childhood dream of mine), but at the last minute I was disqualified for medical reasons because of my hypoglycemia.
I lost my motivation for going to college and crashed and burned my second semester playing video games all night. I took a break and then went back to fix my grades. Before my first week of exams my car broke down, I became sick, and missed my exams. I withdrew after that.
I moved to Nashville, TN to live with some friends and get a fresh start. I fell in love for the first time, but the relationship fell apart because of our religious differences (southern baptist and mormonism do not mix).
A year later I was still having a hard drive moving past my ex. I had an aunt and uncle in Austin, TX who offered to have me live with them for a time, provided I went to church again to set an example for my cousins. I'd never been to Texas before and I needed to get away form everything reminding me of my ex so I went for it.
After going back to church in Austin I realized how much I believed in mormonism and decided to rededicate myself to it. I was going to go on a 2 year mission like all mormon males do. I decided to prepare for my mission that I would study out church history and what people were saying against the church so I would be prepared for the hard questions on my missions. I was like Alice jumping down the rabbits hole.
I spent the next month, on average 2-3 hours a day (I had just quit my job and had no idea what I was going to do to support myself) studying out church history. Ironically I did most of my research in the two weeks I was in Utah attending my two brothers' weddings. I was surrounded by my extended family who were all devout mormons.
The more I searched the more troubled I became. There were different accounts of the first vision? What? Joseph Smith had 30+ wives? What? The archeological history of the Americas contradicts the story in the Book of Mormon? No archeological evidence for the Book of Mormons? What? Joseph Smith's translation of the Egyptian papyrus that led to the Book of Abraham, which contains a lot of the unique doctrine of mormonism, completely wrong? What?
The oh shit and what the shit (Mass Effect 2 anyone?) moments kept coming and coming. Eventually, with all of the evidence in front of me, I had no choice but to come to the realization that mormonism was false. I couldn't lie to myself. So i resigned from the mormon church (a process that took 4 months I might add).
Believing in mormonism for almost 22 years, needless to say I was both devastated and liberated at the same time. When I resigned it felt like a wait had been lifted off my shoulders. At the same time it was incredibly hard as I had to exam everything I believed in and based my life on. I had "died" and needed to reinvent myself.
At first I turned to Christianity, but within months I applied the same reasoning to Christianity that I used to leave mormonism and I realized that it was false as well. So I became agnostic.
I examined many religions over the next 2 years, and while many had good merits there was nothing that did not contradict history and facts. I know faith is believing in something that cannot be proven, but faith should NEVER contradict fact.
About 6 months ago I was talking with my girlfriend about religion and I realized that I did not believe in a deity or supreme being. There just wasn't the evidence to support one. While I am willing to examine the idea of a supreme being if there is evidence supporting one, but I find no evidence that supports that claim.
So I became an atheist, and had to reexamine everything all over again. I am an atheist who is dating someone that believes in god, which is...well its cause me to doubt and second guess which sucks...especially now that I feel like I've awaken to a new world, and I'm missing my chance to explore that world and get to know myself and what I stand for.. so yeah, i'm having problems reconciling being with someone who believes in god when I do not and wanting to explore new things and ideas when i feel like i have to hold back..idk..shes an amazing girl. yay for confusion lol.
But anyways, this has been my journey, and while it has been a very long and hard one, it has been so worth it. I felt like sharing because I need to share and reach out to others who understand.
| Attempts by Mormon freinds to "love me" back into the church are just pathetic. A few examples:
An old freind, who I have served in PTA and at church with, is now ward relief society president. After my being inactive for about 3 or 4 years now, she called me up to ask me out to dinner with her first counselor, another old freind. They wanted to see how I was doing. When I was active in the church,we only saw each other at church and PTA. I said that was very sweet, but no thank. I declined any further explanation.
Another old freind in my ward, we used to PTA, playdates for our kids, etc. I dropped by her house for something a year ago. "We need to get together and do something," she says. Now in the 15 years I've known her we NEVER did anything socially outside of kids' activities, church, or PTA. She racked her brains for an opening in her schedule--church, school volunteer work, more church stuff she does-- We dropped the idea.
A couple in our ward invited us and some other couples over for games. (No, they aren't swingers--LOL!) I declined politely. "Do you even like this sort of activity? Would you even come if you were invited again?" the husband rudely asked. Yeah, love thy neighbor when commanded too--geez.
A freind and his wife--neighbors--asked by email if they could stay in touch and see how I was. I said, sure, why would I not want you too?!?!?
life in the heart of Zion . ..Dear Mormon neighbors--I enjoy your freindship whether you go to church or not. Shouldn't you do the same?
| The best gift Ive ever given myself and my family is permission to leave Mormonism. A year ago on Thanksgiving I was in the hospital with my daughter who was molested by my father in law. He did this in 5 minutes while 30 people were in a house for THANKSGIVING.... in the nightmare days that followed we found out that he had victimized at least 5 other children over a 9 year period. He had confessed to at least one bishop that thought that the answer was a weekly phone call to counsel him about his "progress". No warning to protect any other child, no help for this predator.... In the meantime he was called to serve in the NURSERY with his wife to watch him...
He is now spending the rest of his natural life in Prison. In his address to the judge he said that he was sorry for what he did to his natural grandchild.. not one mention of what he did and confessed to doing to my child. The difference? In his sick twisted mind.. my child was less than... She had the "curse of cain".
When I was abused as a child by a stepfather, I was called to repentance by a bishop who accused me of being seductive and flirtatious... thats why I slept with a can of hairspray and a wooden clog to hit and spray him when he tried to climb into my bed... I was just being "flirty"... NOT.
I truly believe that the Mormon church is not a safe place. It has been my experience that the victim is blamed- the predators are protected and the good old boys circle the wagons and hide behind "what is true is not always useful".
As for our so-called loving families.. not one member of either one of our Temple Recommend holding TBM families even called us on Thanksgiving.. forget inviting us to dinner! We had a great time with just our little family.. but although our families are "understanding" and "so very sad" about us leaving the church---- they dont want us around. I think they worry that apostasy might be contagious!
In the meantime... we are trying to decide what to write in the resignation letter and how to send it. Who even knows where are records are? The ward we live in ..for the past 10 years sent them to the church office building marked address unknown a couple of years ago! Thats a whole nother' story!
Last year I bought a cross and started wearing it. I find that it makes great "mormon repellant" and it reflects my more authentic self. Sorry this is rambling- but Thanks for being here this past year. I have read daily and it has helped more than anything else.
| Leaving Mormonism is like watching It's a Wonderful Life where at the end all your friends come together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Love, charity, forgiveness and good will toward men. We forgive and love each other and you realize that no man is a failure who has friends.
Wait no it's not. These are Mormon friends. It's more like learning that your buddy Joe has always secretly despised you for years. And now armed with his iron-clad argument of "Satan has you in his grasp" he's launching a full-scale assault on your character for that time you may or may not have been a communist conspirator; and there are rumors of child molestation (the ward gasps). Thanks Joe. Glad you didn't lose your house last year when I bailed you out...twice.
It's like discovering that the entire town all loved you, but only because they had to. You were popular, but only because you were high-ranking on the hierarchy of self-righteous ignorant zeal. Now they have a socially-endorsed morally-justified carte blanche (carte blanche doesn't have a hyphen, promise) reason to become who they all were in the first place. Assholes. Concerned, loving caring, vindictive assholes. Who want to love you back into their...eh...church. Yes get you into their church.
It would be like if George Bailey at the end of the film discovers that the town that he had supported for years, built up against all odds, and sacrificed his own money to support, had several people who had actually been boning his wife the whole time while embezzling a mere 10% of his earnings. Also Clarance the angel wasn't earning his wings, he was using the bells to attract prostitutes (prostitute angels are summoned by bells). He does this every year.
OK, your REAL friends still like you for your talent, hard work, obvious loyalty to them, and they will support you through thick or... wait. These are Mormons. Not one of them was a ever actually a friend. Not one of them ever really liked you at all. It was merely the socially correct thing to do. As the scripture says, "Love your neighbor, as I have loved you, as long as he's Mormon. It totally says that look it up!
Anyway, if the movie were called It's a Wonderful Mormon Life the ending would be about how George never would have gone through this "trial" in the first place if he had just had more faith. And friends are the best thing that you can have. So don't do anything that we disprove of, or your "friends" will reveal their true colors and call you a rapist, or a devil-worshiper or whatever horrible thing they can think of.
That's what good friends do after all; love you into submission.
And at some point you realize that you don't actually have any friends. Because a real friend would't hang you up to dry for not agreeing with him. A real friend would try to understand you. A real friend wound't try to destroy your reputation for having a difference of opinion on extremely important issues like drinking green tea (which can totally kill you, look it up! You must be a child molester!).
This is when you realize that you never actually had any friends.
And you are sad, because you always thought that you were popular and liked. But you're not. You were merely intimidating to someone who is easily intimidated.
Lastly, you post on RFM because you have no one else to talk to. You hope that they will be kind in their replies because you're already down. You'd like to hear a reply that says that real friends don't treat you like a pedophile for liking coffee.
You'd like to hear that you are a good man because you spend your whole life trying to be a good man. You'd like to hear that someone else gets it.
I hope you get it and Merry Christmas.
| In 2008, I attended the ex-Mormon conference. It felt alien. Apart from a brief "conversion" at the age of 22, which got me through a rough time but never amounted to any real involvement with the Church, I only knew about the Church from what I had studied, which fascinated me.
But never mind that.
At one point, I met a very smart fellow, the son of a medical doctor, who was gay. Not only was he brilliant and a very gifted writer, but extremely angry. Again, I felt like an alien, looking in. Ostensibly, I was "gay" (whatever that meant), but completely different from this fellow--I'll call him Jeff. Jeff was unabashed, in-your-face, liberal, an atheist, someone who liked to enjoy himself, and professorial. Imagine a very young, gay Christopher Hitchens, and you'll get a sense for what his personality. I was conservative, admired Mormon culture (not that I dared make that widely known there), and didn't fit into the gay scene.
I remember the formal dinner. Jeff sat to my left, and an older gay man to my right. I always try to be polite--to a fault--and so people would never imagine the real thoughts that I think and the feelings that I feel--unless and until they read my writing. And for the first time in these past two years, I'm going to write (just a little) about what I thought and felt that day.
Earlier in the day, there was a talk about being gay compared to being left-handed. At the end of that talk, Jeff had gotten into a conversation with a middle-aged straight fellow and father. Normally, I would have quietly sneaked out, but I overheard Jeff mention something that happened to interest me. I think that he was trying to explain that the modern family truly is a modern concept, and that it was nothing like what we know it to be today back, say, in the Middle Ages.
I had been reading parts of a book about just that, _Medieval Households_, by David Herlihy, and against my better judgment, I gently inserted myself into the conversation as an active listener. The father tried to explain his bafflement at how someone could be gay--i.e. a male desiring another male. There was Jeff, three feet away from me, and there was the father, three feet away. I could tell that the father wasn't trying to be judgmental, only trying to understand, and I felt myself overcome with both compassion and sorrow--compassion for the suffering, the discomfort, that someone in the majority must have felt when confronted by minorities and ways of living that were utterly foreign to anything he'd ever experienced or thought could possibly exist, and sorrow that he, or anyone else, should have to suffer. I immediately recognized that homophobia harms not only gay people, but straight people. It separates *people*. And we could learn a lot from each other.
I would never be a father. That much, I knew. But I had some idea of what it might be like to be a father; I could imagine both the responsibility and the difficulty of it. And for a Mormon father to show up at an ex-Mormon conference to explore and learn new ideas was, in my book, a very courageous act.
Jeff said a few things to the father, and I found myself serving as a mediator and translator. Jeff was gay. The father was straight, and courageously trying to truly *understand* the concept of being gay. I knew that Jeff was too intense for the father, but that if his rhetoric could be buffered, a valuable bridge might be established. At one point, I looked up at the father, and said, "I know how mind-bending this is." I didn't intentionally try to serve as a bridge between cultures, but for a brief while, I became one, using my imperfect understanding of both, and my far greater comfort in the heterosexist culture, to facilitate meaningful and even insightful communication and learning. I genuinely wished that neither Jeff nor I needed to try to explain that there was nothing wrong with gay marriage, an idea that this man opposed, but nevertheless was open-minded about. He kept saying that he was just trying to understand, and I'm certain that he was sincere.
I knew that had I been the father, I would never have allowed myself to get caught up in a conversation about gay marriage. I could deeply empathize with where this man was coming from, given the culture and historical era that he'd been raised in. Usually, we "gay" people want straights to feel sorry for us--or at least, I think that many of us do. It doesn't often happen the other way around, and yet I felt myself really admiring this man who was fighting his natural instincts to even talk to us, not to mention to attend the ex-Mormon conference. It amazed me, and I felt a moral obligation to help him understand anything that he wanted to know about, to the best of my ability to explain it, given my own limited knowledge and many other constraints.
I explained what little I'd learned about what families in former times used to be like, which got Jeff's intellectual nature excited, and we had a good, if brief, conversation among the three of us. It wasn't that my hope was to change the father's mind about gay marriage. Really, I didn't have any goal at all, other than to make him feel less uncomfortable. I wonder if that man still remembers the conversation, and if it made any kind of a difference. It's not the conversation that mattered, but I hope that in some small way, I was able to make him feel--to make him know--that we weren't a threat to straights and straight marriage.
As I thought about Jeff--and by then, I'd learned quite a bit about his background and plight--I knew that if I was "gay," I wasn't "gay" in the same way that he was. The label felt uncomfortable. I nearly had a panic attack when a woman at the conference asked me which username I used on RfM, and I actually told her, "GayPhilosopher." "I had an uncle who was gay," she said, nonjudgmentally. I just stood there, staring at my feet, not knowing what to say.
I'm all too well aware that other gay males would consider me a traitor. A gay Mormon former friend who went on to become a neurosurgeon even accused me of being a "traitor," and a liar (about being gay). But I know what it's like never to be able to fit into straight society through the channels of marriage and children.
And then there was the older gay fellow who sat to my right at dinner. In a private conversation outside of the hotel the next day, he told me that he had been in a relationship with a fellow he loved, but that that fellow had never been able to control his passions, and had eventually contracted AIDS, and after a prolonged and horrific battle, died. My interlocutor told me at one point that he said to his former lover, "I don't have the capability to cope with this..." (your dying from AIDS). He tried to take care of his former lover, but it was extremely hard on him, and at some point, he had to step away from it to avoid harming himself. I got the impression that this was a very sensitive and kind fellow, but he talked about being gay, and about AIDS, in a straightforward and open manner that frankly made me feel uncomfortable. If there were any thought running through my mind at the time, it would have been, "I don't belong here. Not among gays. Not among ex-Mormons. Not in Utah. Why am I here!?"
Maybe part of it involved curiosity; I'm sure that it did. Maybe part of it involved trying to understand the environment that my deeply missed friend Doug Stewart was shaped by, to somehow be able to better cope with his suicide two years earlier. To this day, I don't know.
I do know this, though. At one point, several of us--including Jeff--got in a car, drove to a Unitarian Universalist church where Richard Packham was speaking, with Lyndon Lamborn and others in attendance, and--at least speaking for myself--had a relaxed and fun time. For a while, gay, straight, Mormon, ex-Mormon, God, atheism...all of these became just words, words that over the course of dinner, a little later, dropped off as defenses went down and fun and compelling human personalities came through.
As I continue to study Mormonism, gay men (a changing concept as homosexuality becomes more openly discussed, leading to inevitable social, institutional, and individual attitudinal change), and struggle to reconcile what it means for *me* to be gay in a very non-gay way (i.e. straight-sympathetic, conservative, and shocked by outrageous displays), I wonder what our society will look like in 20 years. The challenge is that we have to live in it today, and create what it will be like two decades hence, with all of the suffering that that entails. And my answer thus far is to cultivate kindness. Words and straw men divide us. If we can just control our emotions and respect everyone, no matter how different others are from us, we could travel light years instead of picometers, to create a better future.
I think about Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf, a lone wolf who seemed to live inside that gap between the passing of one age and the dawn of another. Many of us exist in that gap, waiting and hoping--all the while keenly aware that we're "losing" time--that the future will be better. In the aftermath of death and destruction is birth, and life. In the long term, I'm optimistic, but it's so very difficult to not get caught up in the pain and countless insults and disappointments of everyday life to hold on to the hope, and take the actions needed, to not only imagine, but *create*, a better world for us all.
For anyone interested, have a look at http://www.youtube.com/user/MorMenLik...
Watch the other men's stories, too. There is no archetype of heterosexuality or homosexuality, or even humanity. Instead, there are a lot of individuals that find themselves part of groups and not teams, living in buildings and not homes, walking and working among strangers rather than friends, belonging to a species rather than a community.
How can we connect, or even if not everyone can connect, at least, how can we come to a place where we can honestly wish everyone peace of mind, shelter, health, love, and happiness?
If we could do that, it would utterly transform our world.
| I was having a discussion with my wife tonight about temple worthiness. A year or so ago, I chose not to attend the temple any more because I wasn't getting anything out of it spiritually. I consider it to be a bizarre and very strange experience that makes my mind scream what the fnck?? over and over again.
Since this awakening, I have had my eyes open to the controlling nature of the whole temple product. It is specifically designed to bind people to the church through obedience to the prescribed rules. It is the grand prize of all grand prizes. If you are considered temple worthy by your mormon family and mormon peers, you have arrived at the peak of mormonism. You are on the path to eternal immortality.
I had a second awakening tonight.
I'm a second class mormon citizen in the eyes of my family and specifically my wife all because I don't wear the regulation underwear. The past 14 years of my marriage are considered disposable to my wife because I don't carry the card that allows me past the old men wearing white suits who guard the entrance to the house of the lord. I am a second class citizen, a name on the list of endowed members without temple recommends. I am the broken link of the eternal chain, the empty chair in the celestial room.
I am the unworthy one.
All of the personal success in every other aspect of my life is over shadowed by one simple piece of paper I no longer desire to have possession of. One little card called the temple recommend.
I am unworthy.
Yet I am free. Free to think, free to choose, free to live.
I am free from the bonds of unbridled pressure aimed at getting my ass in one of those chairs, dressed in white, apron on the left shoulder, then on the right shoulder. I am free, no longer dressed in the garments and robes of the holy priesthood, waiting my turn to go up to the veil to answer the proverbial question... what is wanted?
I am free to see beauty in my surroundings without judging others. The blinders that once caused me to feel elite and special are no longer on my eyes. I can see that this human experience called life has more to offer than stale white bread, casseroles, and Monday night treats. I can see that this human experience called life has numerous new emotions and experiences to offer me if I so desire to search them out.
I can see, I am free, and yet I am considered unworthy.
| It has been a little difficult the past several years after losing my faith. I don't really miss being a Mormon though. The other night I went to a 50 year wedding anniversary of some old LDS friends who are pretty cool people and not "uppity" about their faith (actually, really nice people). However, I got to see a lot of members from my old ward and (had to) rub shoulders with them. Actually, nothing has changed much and I don't miss it. One member from the Bishopric told me, "come back." Not a chance in hell!
What I do miss and seem to constantly search for is meaning in my life after gawd and religion have been stripped away. After all my reading and studying these past several years I've come to certain conclusions for me. Here is where I'm at (so far):
1. I don't believe in an anthropomorphic-type god (human-like with 10 fingers and toes like Elohiem).
2. I still feel I'm spiritual but can't tell you why except that I feel connected to others. For example, the latest AZ shootings, their tragedies and heroism, move me and cause me to empathize and feel compassion. Another example, being in nature makes me feel alive and grounded somehow but I can't explain why.
3. I love studying philosophy. The existentialism of Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Victor Frankl, most closely - but not completely - define my world-view (which is still positive).
4. I like much of eastern philosophy too such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen.
5. I think George Carlin is more brilliant now than I ever thought before. He has a way of saying what I wish I could say. :)
6. I have no idea what happens after we die and am not overly concerned about it.
7. An orgy sounds fun, or at least having sex with 3 girls at once (a guy can still dream - LOL). Thank Zeus for dreams!!
The problem is even with all this, I still have a hard time with having meaning in my life. Nietsche said that we are all searching for meaning and not so much for happiness. I find that to be the case with me. He also said that a man that has a why can survive any how. I believe that we bring meaning to our lives, as absurd as life is most of the time. But I find it so difficult.
I am wondering how you - my brothers and sisters who have lost your faith - bring meaning to your lives. What say ye???
| Following in the great cultic traditions, I was taught as a mormon to seek truth through feelings; there was really no other way to know. Feelings were borne of the spirit; the spirit emanated from God, the source of all truth.
That belief had an impact on my relationships with women…and not in a good way. A comment or an act by my then wife, and then by subsequent girlfriends triggered feelings inside me, strong feelings that I considered to be an accurate representation of reality, the truth. Rather than talk as an adult about how the comment or act made me feel, ask about her intentions, or understand her perspective, I assumed I knew because I felt so strongly that my perspective was right. I had been given the gift of discernment; it said so in my patriarchal blessing. You can imagine how that worked out for me.
The church’s teachings do not foster mature relationships; love is conditional. I feel fortunate to have found out the truth about Mormonism, not from any burning in the bosom, but from real work and study. Once the blinders fell, I could see that beyond my limited view lies a world full of divergent opinions, sources of knowledge, and a variety of people. I recognize now those times when I assume that what I feel is the way things are, and so I have to consciously step back. I still have work to do on this. I talk to my girlfriend, really talk (I appreciate her patience with me). Many times my feelings about what is going on between us are wrong. I don’t know what will happen between us, but we are happy. We talk and our relationship strengthens, and my appreciation grows for her as a human being with her own needs, desires, and fears. I am so glad I am out of Mormonism. So very glad.
| When your religion is your identity ----
This is because, as I often say, the best way to understand
Mormonism is as a patriarchal, generational, familial, social, traditional, cultural, ritual, religious tribe complete with it's own music, language, (Mormonese!), unwritten rules, policies,special teachings,with emphasis on obedience.
It includes: individual dress, what they eat and drink, how they spend their time and money--every facet of their life-- from what they think to what they feel to what they believe, what they read, and even what movies they watch. It is a 24/7 religion complete with regulation underwear for those "worthy" to attend the temple.
They have specific rituals/ordinances for birth, coming of age, marriage and death. It all follows a similar pattern in most religions of the world. The rituals and teachings are different, but the pattern or components are the same or similar.
It started out as a small tribe in New York, then moved to other states, and eventually, cemented as a tribe in isolation in Utah by Brigham Young. They even use that term from time to time.As a convert, I was told it was my adopted tribe.
Leaving it is,in essence, leaving your tribe.
You become the outsider. Your support system is gone. Family, business, career, etc. may be gone also.
That, in my experience and observation, accounts for how difficult it is to leave it completely.
Not accepting the claims/beliefs (or any other facet), is not all there is to it. It is only the first step.
It requires learning to identify the authentic: you, and creating a whole new World View from scratch.
It includes rewriting every single automatic thinking script from childhood if BIC, or as a convert, from years of subtle teachings. It means finding a new normal, a different language, changing a wardrobe, being willing to step out in a whole new world, experiment with many notions/ideas, music, movies, literature, much of it not acceptable in Mormonism.
Leaving Mormonism requires courage, tenacity, perseverance, steadfastness and a willingness to give ourselves permission to take our power back, which is new to many. It includes: ditching guilt and shame, and fear. It includes making all decisions and choices in your life on your own.And learning to be OK with that.
For me, that includes learning some new skills, one of which is learning to be a skeptic, a good researcher (ignoring tone and bias) and getting to the factual evidence and information, learning to set new clear boundaries, etc.
That is why I call it an Exit Process from Mormonism. It's a process, that for some, takes a short time, but for others can take years.
In my experience, that process includes learning to live in the now, today, letting go of the past, rather than living for some reward in an after life.
Yes. As a member of the LDS Church, the members whole identity is wrapped up in the cloak of the tribe.
That is why I often use this quote:
"The individual has always had to struggle to resist the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
This is how I work my process.Each of us finds our own path in our exit process from Mormonism. There is no manual. We figure it out by trial and error. We each have a different set of dynamics and personalities and situations to work through. No two, are exactly the same. I am convinced that we are all well equipped to figure it out ourselves - with a little help from our friends, as they say! And so it goes.....
| As a convert, I wasn’t raised Mormon and was unaware of the prohibition and inhibitions of Mormon sex. (Not that it would have helped much had I been raised Mormon, as there seems to be very little frank talk about sex in Mormonism, anyway.) Naturally, I was excited about sex with my wife. I hadn’t had sex before becoming a Mormon. I admit this was due to my being quite shy and anxious rather than my great moral rectitude; in fact, I felt relieved Mormonism provided me with a comforting rationale for my fear of sex. Still, I was looking forward to trying some things out and one of those things was oral sex.
It was after this experimentation the condemning letter from Salt Lake City was issued. My wife and I, duly embarrassed and ashamed, made an appointment with our bishop and confessed our sinfulness. The bishop, an elderly and kind man, to his credit seemed as uncomfortable and embarrassed to have to deal with this issue as we were. Rather than lecture or condemn us, he gave us a light penance and told us to try not to do it again. In spite of the bishop’s kindness, the effect of the experience on me was to curtail my joy of sex, raise my anxiety, and to create a wedge between my wife and me on the issue of whether or not anything I wanted to do beyond missionary-vanilla was “church approved.” For several years after leaving the church I still had a recurring nightmare of being watched by church leaders while I had sex and being chided for it. The Mormon marital bed gets crowded when you start including God, his prophets, and the bishop.
Eventually I started to become relaxed about sex and started to figure out what I like and don’t. My sexual ethics these days are straightforward and not overly-complicated (although I think some people would characterize my standards as “low”): Sex is consensual and none of the activities result in medical or psychiatric intervention.
Mormonism can hang some heavy baggage on you if you let it.
| Act I
Once upon a time I was Mormon.
I was BIC, married to a BYU grad, and had several children.
Even did the leadership treadmill, topping out as Bishop.
Then one day, my lovely wife and I, after an extremely difficult pregnancy, gave birth to a DS child with several birth defects.
And the cold from the Lord’s chosen descended upon us and her.
Our world came crashing down.
She did not ask for this. She was an innocent - as was our family.
Wicked we were as parents we were told. Denied temple recommends.
We were told that we needed to repent of our sins as her birth and deformities were demonstrative proof of our wickedness.
No more callings. All church friends deserted us. Horribly shunned we were.
We were not even allowed to bless our child on Fast Sunday, but instead on a Saturday to a nearly empty room. She was now 6 months old you see...and an embarassment.
We did not understand. We were reeling, trying to hang on to our faith. Why was this happening?
Whispers haunted us in the hallways and anterooms of the local ward meeting house.
Prayers made no difference. Tithing made no difference. Fasting made no difference.
It was a dark time. Yet there was light.
We bonded as a family.
My daughter opened our eyes and made us question: Is this how Jesus would behave if he were here?
We chose to leave the church a decade ago as an entire family.
Lost we were as to who our identity was. Where to go, what to believe? Promises of doom and gloom ringed in our ears.
Our extended family shunned us. We were a disgrace. Horrible phone calls and letters recieved. We were all alone-our small family.
So much for the Mormon concept of the forever family- only for the perfect and non-ignorant it seems.
Calls to repentance, pleas to desert or institutionalize our daughter-these all fell on our deaf ears. Ignore them, we did.
You see there was one truth: She was our daughter and we loved her as she was. She was family.
It was a difficult time. We investigated and discovered the lies, the frauds, the half-truths.
Mormonism was not true. Yet, we had faith in ourselves and in our family.
We would survive. We would get stronger. We would enjoy each other’s company. We learned to laugh and play. We had lots of time now to heal.
We no longer had to work for the mormon church-we worked for each other.
We learned that there was a community outside the mormon church.
Good excellent people who really were there for you in times of need.
People who did not judge and did not condemn, but instead simply accepted us for who we were. We could just be who we were. No worrying about what others thought.
We asked ourselves: Would God condemn these good people or us because we are not mormons?
No. He would not. What you do and what you stand for is what matters. Our convenants are with god and man can't take them away.
We started giving back and a truth was realized: Blessings come from helping others because you care, not because it is a calling.
We did not need the mormon church.
I sat today watching my beautiful daughter standing on a school stage receiving an award.
Tears are rolling down my face.
She is 12 now and made her first honor roll.
She is healthy and perfect.
So much for the prediction that she would never read or write.
So much for the mormons who cast her and our family out because she and we weren’t perfect.
Years of therapy, love and perseverance have yielded a body you would never know struggled so mightily to exist and thrive.
Intolerance is a horrible thing.
My daughter can speak and laugh and is the light of our lives.
And there was justice today.
Because the person giving her the award was the same person who told us we were wicked because she was born to us the way she was and denied us temple recommends 11 years ago.
And so our family was both very proud and at peace.
Radiant smiles and warm hugs.
We do not need the mormon church.
We are finally free.
(And I am no longer Lost, but Found.)
| I sit in a bedroom that is not my own. The linens, pillows, dresser, lamp and alarm clock are not mine. The things in the bedroom that are mine consist of enough clothes for two weeks and a few possessions that are kept in two plastic rollaway containers under the bed. A bathroom is down the hall that has been set aside by the owner of the house for my use. The TV and internet is shared as is the washer and dryer. I park on the street. I have a vehicle. All other possessions I did have are no longer mine, a house and whatnot.
Yet I am more than grateful for what I have now. A kind, generous and wise man not of my previous faith somehow foresaw the coming storm and the following devastation and offered his home to “crash” in anytime I needed. I obviously had to make that call.
Thirty one years ago I married a beautiful young mormon girl that I had dated for over three years. A long courtship by mormon standards. I was a young man in the Air Force and had come back to propose to my girl between Tech School and my first assignment. She said yes. I was willing to go till the end with her. Her smile is something to behold even to this day, but these days the smiles are not for me.
I would be lying if I did not say that I had made a couple of mistakes along the way in our marriage. It’s a learning process and is really just a part of life. One was really stupid but I came clean and repented. I understood the mistake and saw it for what it was and put it behind me completely uninterested in making that mistake again. That was twenty two years ago.
I excelled at my job in the AF and would have re-enlisted but we had twin girls and I thought my money making opportunities in the commercial world would be better for the family. I was right but the money wasn’t good at first, however my work ethic learned on the farm paid off and advancements and pay went up fast. In twenty six years at a High Tech company I have outpaced my peers in performance reviews and though I’d like to think so it wasn’t because of my good looks.
Through the years at church I attended, taught, substitute taught, did scouting, made six pinewood derby cars with my sons and paid tithing. I was the Audio Visual guy for six years till my disaffection. I was the first guy in the door and the last guy out at all broadcasts and most any other function I attended.
I am a bit of a handyman minus the carpentry skills. To save money I repaired cars, painted inside and out, and dug my own garden minus the rented tiller. Vacuuming, dishes, sweeping and moping I could do in my sleep. I was the man who cared about his wife’s sexual pleasure and therefore bought books and educated myself on the subject.
I asked very little of my beautiful spouse. I only wanted a little attention once in a while. I would gladly move the house across the street and back again if it didn’t look right for some attention but I would not ask for it. She was busy to the point of being tired all the time. Raising five children alone could make anyone tired but she was not alone. You see this husband always came home after work and helped. Work, home, church, work home church that was the schedule. Add church functions of every kind from RS to wedding receptions, baby showers (if they lived in our stake, she went), temple attendance, homemaking meetings, visiting teaching and on and on. No time or energy left for “us”.
“Look I got a promotion!” “Look I got big raise!” “Can’t you do something to get more?” I stopped mentioning my annual reviews no matter how glowing or what the financial increase was. I wish I was embellishing this due to self pity but that is not the case.
Then that fateful day came when the Masons were on public TV and I began to question and then research and then disbelieve. I would learn what my true station was in thirty years of marriage as the reactions to my disbelief came roaring out of the woodwork.
The final demands? “Leave your marriage if you leave the church. Toe the Line or I’ll divorce you! Stop telling the kids they can decide for themselves your ruining their lives. Keep your “crap” to yourself or I'll divorce”
“But I only found the lie,,,,,,,I did not create it!” “I haven’t done anything wrong! I only found the lie!”
Intimacy died a horrible death. Now touching my lover at night was like the grim reaper dragging dead fingernails across her skin or so she made it seem. All previous feelings, attraction and intimacy atrophied. I was not celestial material.
Like trying to save a sick or injured horse they came to do what they could. There was some investment here that might be salvaged. The Priesthood men determined I could not be helped and that I was best left alone to die and quickly but quietly they quarantined me.
And so I sit here in quarantine. The depth of this man’s loneliness runs deep. Men cry when confronted with the almost unbelievable reasons that causes this kind of loneliness. A song on the car radio, a reflective conversation in a TV show, I have to protect myself from these things as they trigger emotions that can’t be stopped. There are few options here, it’s cry and accept what happened or go crazy or go angry crazy. Especially on a night like this as I reflect on how quiet my world has become. No longer are the sounds of kids, teenagers going and coming, the garage door, the air compressor, the gas fireplace fan, the sliding glass door opening and closing while BBQing anything more than lost echoes of a past life. While using the vehicle there is loneliness that echoes inside when the door closes when I get in, and it echoes up and down the street when it closes as I get out.
The only value left is he is still the breadwinner. Still doing his duty, going to work everyday. A quarantined breadwinner. The epitome of his mormon career? Stripped of everything but still paying everyone else’s bills.
This little bedroom echoes loneliness. A discarded man sits on someone else’s bed in someone else's room in someone else's house, and cries trying to determine if he made the right decision as he hopes beyond hope that some of what was lost might be gained back somehow. What value does he have now, being divorced after 30 years of successful marriage, a marriage that was apparently less important than the LDS church? Who would ever understand the destruction of his self worth? Why would a woman ever choose him again? Rational or not these are the demons that plague the places of loneliness.
Truth is self evident. I cannot go back. There are no excuses for the lies I found.
Did he make the right decisions when finding the lie?
Yes. And he would rather die than change that decision. The demons of loneliness can go straight to hell!
| This is part of what I define for myself as The Exit Process from Mormonism - from a true, immersed, dedicated believer for over three decades as a convert, to a non-believer.
It required creating a new World View that evolved, little by little as I gave myself permission to freely explore many ideas, notions, beliefs, etc.
One of the most important core elements of my New World View, is learning to live, think, believe, act, experience, etc. in the NOW.
It's probably the most freeing thing I have ever done. It's almost weightless.
With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
No longer am I concerned about what will happen if I don't live by some set of dogma, rules, or controls from some outside source, or deity, God Myth, or some reward or punishment in some after life.
It's a process--one that takes a certain kind of mind set and direction.
Coming from an authoritative, controlling, obedience driven religion with strong emphasis on earning a particular kind of an after life, it takes time to delete and add new thinking scripts.
Why I like living in the NOW.
1. It's short! I don't clutter my mind with "what if' and other non productive notions.
The living moment is everything. ~D.H. Lawrence
2. I can have peace of mind. I am not my thoughts.
No matter what happens, I can let it all -- just be.
Waste not fresh tears over old griefs. ~Euripides, Alexander
3. There is no: woulda, shoulda, coulda .
Don't let the past mess up my present.
4.The past is over, done. I can learn from it and let it go.
Nothing is worth more than this day. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
6. It's OK to just: sit there. Be mindful of the moment. Be aware of being alive. Breathe in the beauty of life.
It's the old adage: take time to smell the roses.
This is part of my process. If I could bottle it and sell it I would! But it cannot be bought or sold. It must be acquired by paying attention to NOW.
| That is all we are , stardust. I learned that yesterday watching 3 hours of fascinating stuff about how the universe was created. The fact that we are made of the stuff of exploding stars is not a theory, it is indeed a fact. I also finished reading "Letter to a Christian Nation," by Sam Harris, one of the most enlightening books I have ever read.
So now I have come to the end of my journey. I studied out of Mo'ism, then out of Christianity and now out of God. This past week 2 people, to whom I have confessed I no longer believe in the Mo church said the funniest thing to me, " Well , that's okay, you still believe you have a Heavenly Father don't you?"
Why are others, esp. those that hardly even know me so concerned with what I believe or do not believe? I tend to think if one is not religious ,they then are thought of as nearly unAmerican, and for some reason they then become someone to be feared.
The fact is the only father in heaven I know I have was once my earthly father, now a part of the dust of some star. So in that respect, yes I have a father in heaven. Of course that is not what they meant.
I would recommend this book, Letter to a Christian Nation to ANYONE who has a far greater interest in searching for truth than remaining in their comfort zone. IMO , all of religion is manmade and without evidence, and is the cause of much misery and suffering in the world.
Just a couple of sentences from Harris' book I'd like to share:
"Religion is the one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies." pg 65
"It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail." page 67
And so, at the end of my journey I find I am an athiest. I am not saying that I KNOW there is no higher power, just that I see no evidence of it, and a whole lot of evidence that it is very unlikely that there is.
Give me the evidence and I will believe. But give me evidence based on facts and not feelings. Show me a God that cares about us, or even one that set evolution in motion billions of years ago ( where , then, did he come from?, and on and on- the never ending question).
NO, I am no longer, for the first time in my life, a believer in higher powers or magical things, be they mormon or of any other religious nature. I have to admit, I have no idea why we are here, but, though the ride has often been difficult, I would not have missed it for anything. We all won the lottery, getting this amazing chance to experience life on earth, even if this is the only life we have, which is what I now truly believe, just my opinion.
| I am evil.
I drink coffee.
I have an IUD.
My boys don't know how to pray.
I voted No on prop. 8
I prefer lace thongs.
Vodka whispers sweet nothings now and then.
I think Glen Beck is a dangerous nut case.
I have sex for pleasure.
I cook with wine, and drink it while I cook.
I say "fuck" under my breath when the mood strikes.
I read Brody's "No Man Knows My History."
I don't care if my husband enjoys some porn.
I have shared my secret name.
I eat breakfast at Denica's with the fam on Sundays.
I have an assortment of bikinis.
I watched Rodriquez's "Machete" last night with my husband.
Thinking about the endowment makes me anxious.
I own a vibrator.
Garments made my skin crawl.
My son didn't get baptized.
I own books about most religions.
I own books about atheism.
I own a lot of books that have cuss words and refer to pre-marital sex.
I have fantasies about laughing in David Bednar's face.
I celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Jesus isn't invited.
I'd give my money to Brittney Spears before I paid tithing.
I spend time on exmormon.com.
I read "The Hobbit" instead of scripture to my boys at night.
I wear tanks and strapless dresses.
I am happy.
I am content.
I do not fear death.
I am evil.
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