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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 4
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| I see a lot of discussion here about what we should or shouldn't tell our children about our own discoveries and conclusions about Mormonism. I wouldn't presume to judge individual situations. Each of us must navigate the recovery process according to our own realities. With that qualifier out of the way, however, I would assert that our "apostasy" is not something we should hide from our children for very long. |
It was just over two years ago that I realized that I was on the other side of the belief line. I shared that realization with my wife almost immediately. She advocated a go-slow approach because she wanted us both to be sure I was finished, and because she knew that it would cause some turmoil in my extended family. At the time, she seemed determined to stay Mormon and she asked me to postpone talking to our children. For all of 2004, I attended church with my family. We would sit together in sacrament meeting, following which my children would go to their primary classes. I would disappear for the next ninety minutes and then pick up my children from their classes, just like all the other parents. I wasn't making much of an effort to keep up appearances for the adults in the ward, but nothing had really changed from my children's perspective.
At the beginning of 2005, I started a new job in another area, and was only with the family one or two weekends a month while we were looking for a new home. I attended church when I was with them, but I was getting a lot more casual about it. I stopped wearing ties, I stopped participating in the rubber-stamp sustaining votes, and I stopped taking the sacrament. The only reason I had done these things for the previous year was because of my children, but I started to feel like I needed to stop doing them for the same reason.
One Sunday in March, my daughter was handing the sacrament tray to me at the end of the row on the side of the chapel. I was trying to subtly shake my head and let her know that I wasn't partaking. It took her a few seconds to accept this, and she prodded my abdomen once or twice with the tray.
After church, we decided to go out for lunch (since my wife was starting to get a lot more relaxed too). My daughter, who was nine at the time, was riding in my car with me. I brought up the sacrament incident from church. She confirmed that she had really noticed. I asked her if she would like to talk about that, and she said, "YES." So, I proceeded to tell her that I loved her and that I would always support her in doing what she thought was the right thing. I said that if "the church" was what she believed was right, then I would always support her participation in it.
I then explained that for me personally, I had been doing a lot of thinking and studying, and that I realized that I don't believe everything that they believe at church.
She was sitting in the back seat, so I was looking at her in the rear-view mirror. She nodded her head with a look that showed complete understanding. I asked her, "Do you understand what I mean?"
She said, "Oh yeah."
I said, "Does that make sense to you?"
"Sure, because I feel the same way a lot of the time."
"Well, like how does anyone know for sure about God?"
We then had a really nice conversation about morality (not the Mormon, three-letter definition of morality) and how important it is to try to be good, moral people regardless of whether God exists. It was one of the best times I had ever shared with my beautiful daughter, and we've had a lot of great times together. I told my wife about it later, and she was fine with it all. She even said that it was probably about time that I should do that.
We have had similar discussions since. Just the other day, I took my daughter over to my boss's home so that she could feed his cat while he was out of town. While we were there, she initiated another conversation with me about how she "just doesn't get" the whole idea of God, but that she likes attending the Unitarian Universalist Church where she doesn't feel any pressure to hold any particular belief.
In Mormonism, I used to hear a lot about "the simple, beautiful testimonies of the children." Although my daughter wasn't one to go up to the podium in testimony meeting and recite things she didn't even understand, she did look the part of a sweet, believing child. She could give all the right answers in her classes, she could recite her part in the annual presentation in sacrament meeting, and she passed her baptismal interview with flying colors. Children are smart and they know how to please. Underneath all that, however, my daughter remained a thinker, and she had come up with some deep, important and profound thoughts that she hadn't felt comfortable sharing with anyone until I shared some of my own.
The Mormon social structure does an amazing job of making people feel like they are the only ones with doubts, the only ones with misgivings, the only ones who can't see the Emperor's new clothes or the dragon in the garage. The internet allows grownups to find each other in places like this. Our children at least need to be able to find us.
| As a True Believing Mormon, I was always feeling guilty about something...
I think my personality type was particularly sensitive to the tools used to promote guilt in the Mormon culture. I was the perfect lab rat responding to every manipulative mind numbing, brain washing instrument in the Mormon tool bag. For example, since my first bishops interview as a young man of 12, I felt guilty regarding all things sexual...despite being morally clean. The little stage in my mind was always fighting those images that wanted to force their way onto the stage in my mind... and even though I was successful in keeping them off that stage for the most part...hey I was a normal American boy... I felt guilty for it.
Because the Mormon guilt machine isn’t limited to sexual matters... my guilt wasn’t limited to sexual matters either. As the Elder’s Quorum President... I felt guilty if we didn’t have 100% home teaching... so powerful was the control the Mormon church over me that I would personally go out the last week of the month and do the home teaching that hadn’t been completed. As the Young Men’s President, I planned and held weekly activities even if none of the boys would came... then I’d go to each of the boys homes and pick them up. To hell with free agency...
I was taught to follow Satan’s plan by my priesthood leaders when it came to carrying out my church callings. I was going to make sure that everyone under my responsibility made it to the Celestial Kingdom by God! You think you have free agency...not on my fucking watch you don’t!
In my many leadership positions I too became a master of the Mormon guilt techniques. I learned well. I would guilt ward members to whom I had responsibility over to volunteer for Temple assignments, welfare farm assignments, missionary splits etc. In PPI’s I quilted those under my charge to lengthen their stride and give their fucking best...after all this was God’s fucking church, God Damn it!
What a Fucking Prick I was!
Despite always trying to be the most dedicated hard working member, never turning down an assignment or calling, despite spending hours upon hours of time away from my family in senseless boring leadership meetings, despite being a total straight arrow crossing every “t”, dotting every “i” during my Mormon experience... I NEVER quite felt worthy enough or good enough and I most definitely NEVER thought personally that I’d qualify for the highest part of the make believe Mormon Celestial Kingdom.
Many here have discussed the freedom one fills once the Mormon blinders come off... but for me... one of the greatest benefits of discovering that the church is NOT what it claims to be... is the total disappearance of those feelings of Mormon induced GUILT.
| It seems more and more that TBMs have given up on the law of free agency. |
One example is the ultra-Mormon city of Cedar Hills that tried last year to force the closure of all stores on Sunday.
Another example is TBM Larry H. Miller pulling the movie "Brokeback Mountain" from his theater, in an attempt to "protect young people" from seeing it. I suspect if Mormons had their way in Utah, the movie would be banned completely from the state.
The real issue isn't whether the movie is worth seeing or not. The deep issue here is free-agency.
Should adults in a Mormon society be allowed the choice of whether or not to see a movie, or should the choice not even be permited?
Back in the 60s and 70s when there were porn theaters in downtown Salt Lake City, church leaders pointed to them as examples of the principle of free agency and "oposition in all things." Back then, church leaders taught:
"Concerning the principle of free agency, President David O. McKay has written, “Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man. Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give. It is inherent in the spirit of man. It is a divine gift to every normal being. Everyone has this most precious of all life’s endowments – the gift of free agency – man’s inherited and inalienable right.” (Improvement Era, Feb. 1962, p. 86.)"
"[Satan destroys] our freedom of choice, and he does this by enticing us to give up our right of free agency to other persons or to other institutions and allow them to make our choices for us, resulting in the evil that presidents of the Church have repeatedly warned against in communism and socialism and other orders of this type."
"Thus in one way or another Satan tries to entice us to become like him and to become subject to the misery and unhappiness that he now experiences. To achieve his devilish aims, Lucifer can and does work through many means: business combines, governments on all levels, military forces, educational institutions, secret combinations of all kinds, and even families, teachers, and churches. Wherever and whenever you find a person or an institution that seeks to destroy the free agency of man, there you will find the influence of Lucifer."
"President Henry D. Moyle talked on this subject in these words: “All we have to do is … examine any movement that may be brought into our midst … and if it … attempts to deprive us in the slightest respect of our free agency, we should avoid it as we would avoid immorality or anything else that is vicious. … Free agency is as necessary for our eternal salvation as is our virtue. And … as we guard our virtue with our lives, so should we guard our free agency.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1947, p. 46.)
“This truth has been challenged again and again, and will yet be challenged again and again. It was challenged in the heavens before time began, by the brilliant but rebellious Lucifer. There was war in heaven–for freedom. And anyone who seeks to enslave men in any sense, in mind, in spirit, in thought–anyone who seeks to enslave the minds, the hearts, the spirits of men is essentially in league with Satan himself–for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” [2 Cor. 3:17].
“Thank God for the right of choice, for the right to become whatever we can become in a free and provident land that, despite its imperfections, has proved to be more efficient for progress and human happiness than any society founded on the false philosophies that would seek to enslave the minds and souls of men."
“God grant that we may repent wherever we have departed from the principles of freedom–that we may preserve the right to fail and the incentive to succeed, and live, as did the Founding Fathers, knowing that there are no acceptable substitutes for freedom.” (From the Crossroads, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1955, p. 45.)"
- Elder Daniel H. Ludlow, “Moral Free Agency,” New Era, Nov. 1976, page 44
Contrast that message with the one being taught today by the church:
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. That path leads to glorious joy and happiness.”
- Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 33; or Ensign, May 1996, 25
“We are free to obey or to ignore the spirit and the letter of the law. But the agency granted to man is a moral agency. "- Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 108; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 84
Today's Mormons - especially some in positions of power - appear to reject the principle of free agency. They want people's choices taken away, in order to "protect" them from sin.
Wasn't that Satan's plan?
| Who remembers this quote?
"...the submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. ... " (Ensign, Nov. 1995, at page 22)
One of my former stake presidency liked to quote Maxwell. That presidency emphasized that Saints should attend every meeting and never turn down a calling. Obedience was the overarching principle above all else. I disagree because the leadership does not know everything about the members' lives and I firmly believe that individual members are the best judges of what they can and should do with regard to church work.
Once in PEC, a former bishop asked why people turn down callings. I said in part, "it has to do with differences in personality." Not everyone is cut out to run a nursery, teach a lesson, lead a choir, or preside over a quorum. In my opinion, Mormon leaders often fill positions out of desperation and call it inspiration as a way to leverage acceptance of a calling.
Another way the church presses obedience is through peer pressure. How many times do they pass around a list in RS or priesthood meeting asking for volunteers from giving blood to working at the bishop's storehouse? If volunteers are lacking, the leader informs the group that phone calls will be made during the week.
I have to admit it - I hated seeing certain names pop up on caller ID. In the worst case scenario, I did my share of outbound calling. Along the way, if some quorum, group, or ward contributed less to stake assignments, the bishop and so on down the line was sure to get their butts chewed by the stake presidency.
What a way to run a church!
| I'm not sure why this hit me today, but I thought I'd get it out and be done with it.
My mother's apostasy hit some time before mine. She tried and tried to get us (me and my dh) to listen to her reasonings. She tried to relay very much the type of stuff we read here...remember this is all many years prior to the emergence of the internet...her info came from the Tanners books (I wonder how they found them all the way in Australia?).
We had just recently relocated back to my home town and we were living with my parents while finding jobs and homes etc. Stubbornly, every time she would bring up the issue of mormonism, we puffed up in self righteousness, haughtily got up and would walk out of the room. Like arrogant piss-ants, we would get ready and go to church every Sunday, making sure they saw how wonderful and obedient we were. *puke*
My mother was never one to keep her findings to herself. Her outspokenness regarding church history, got some old biddy's panties in an uncomfortable wad, and the biddy ran to the bishop. He ran to the Stake President who assigned the 2nd Counselor to call me and my dh in for an interview...For the purposes of ensuring our salvation *rolleyes*.
During the interview, the 2nd counselor told us that our eternal future depended on us severing all relationships with my family especially since they were going to ex my mom and several other family members. I don't remember being shocked at the ex'ing part. I think my mom was hoping this would happen sooner than later to save her the effort of name removal...which is a longer more cumbersome process given this was Australia over 20 years ago, and there was not the knowledge on how to proceed anyway. I was more shocked that they dare try to dictate that I should move out of the house and sever my family ties with my loving and obviously very generous mother!!!
That moment, the wheels of cog diss started spinning wildly. I did not know how to respond. I must have been visibly flushed because the 2nd Counselor told us that maybe we should take some time to absorb the ramifications and come back and talk with him again in an hour or so. I was shaking, I was numb, I was confused...I was so angry!!!
During that hour, during priesthood meeting and RS meeting an announcement was made that certain members of my family were ex'd. Furthermore, the members were being asked to avoid contact with the apostates for the safety of their eternal salvation.
I don't know all that went on in the priesthood meeting (my dh was also shocked and angry that this was announced in such a manner, and wouldn't talk too much about it). They opened up the RS meeting for questions and clarifications. One woman wanted pictures of the entire family so she knew who to avoid and with which kids her kids should not be associating.
I remember starting to cry. I remember women putting their arms around my shoulders misunderstanding my emotions. I wasn't crying about the ex'ing. I wasn't crying because of my moms eternal future being in any sort of jeopardy. I was crying tears of frustration, tears of anger. They were being so petty, so small, so fearful of other sweet young children!!!!
OMG...it all hit like a ton of bricks...the lies, the manipulation. My humiliation stemmed from the fact that I had, just and that very moment, "woken up" and didn't have the courage to speak out. I let them think I was broken and sad for doctrinal reasons. I should have been screaming out the indignations of their corrupt process of misinformation hiding doctrines and corrupt church history from the members. I should have let them know.....instead, I just never went back.
| Did Joseph Smith Really Think This Through; How Ridiculous The Doctrine Of "Temple Work For The Dead" Really Is |
Monday, Jan 9, 2006, at 08:19 AM
Original Author(s): Just Give Me The Truth
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 4 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| According to Mormon doctrine, in order to become exalted in God’s celestial kingdom, each person who lives past the age of accountability (8 years old) must have done certain ordinances and ceremonies.
These include, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, washing and anointing in the temple, temple marriage sealing, and the temple endowment ceremony including the “new name” and all the signs and tokens etc. God, in his great wisdom, according to Mormon doctrine, requires that all of these ordinances and ceremonies be performed here upon the mortal earth.
Now the question comes up, what about those billions of people who have lived here upon the earth and never had an opportunity to receive the true gospel and have all these ordinances and ceremonies completed in the flesh while they lived on earth before they died. That is where the doctrine of “temple work for the dead” comes into play in the Mormon religion.
In a nutshell this is what that doctrine means: All we have to do is come up with all the names of every person who has ever lived to the age of accountability on this earth and not have had a chance for having these ordinances done while they lived upon the earth, and then simply have one of the good and faithful temple worthy members of the Mormon church who are living in the flesh upon the earth just do these ordinances and ceremonies in proxy for and behalf of each of the named persons who are now dead. (That is a mouthful) Then, should this dead person decide to accept the gospel in the “spirit world” he can then accept each of these ordinances or ceremonies and be as if he had done them himself while living upon the earth. Thus, he too, could then have opportunity to make it to exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
Simple enough plan, right? Not so fast. Let us really think this through and see what it really entails. The population of the earth today is about 6 billion people. The number of Mormons is, by the church’s account, about 12 million, which is the highest it has ever been. Of those 12 million only about a third, or 4 million are active. Of that active 4 million, let us say only a third have temple recommends and of that group only half at most really go to the temple very often. We are now down to about 650,000 active temple worthy Mormons who go to the temple let us say twice a month or so. Therefore, right now, the ratio of active temple going Mormons to the rest of the world population that is not Mormon is 1 active temple goer for every 9230 other people in the world. Also, think about the fact that this is the highest that ratio has ever been as the Church membership is at its height right now.
For the Mormon church to achieve its goal of having “temple work for the dead” completed for every person who has ever lived or will live to the age of accountability upon the face of the earth this means then some active temple attending Mormon, that has ever lived or will live, must complete these temple ordinances or endowment ceremonies in the temple in proxy for each of these dead. Let us assume that each active temple attending member of the Mormon church, who ever lived or ever will live, will be responsible for 10,000 dead. (If you would estimate actual numbers, this number would in actuality be very much higher) So each of these members would have to perform 10,000 baptisms, 10,000 confirmations, 10,000 washing and anointings, 10,000 temple endowment ceremonies, and many thousand marriage sealings.
So let’s think about this. Say our average active temple going Mormon was able to attend the temple twice monthly for 55 years of their adult life. On each episode of temple attendance, they were able to get in 1 endowment session and a few of the other four ordinances that the dead need done for them. Then, by the end of there life, they would have done 1320 endowment ceremonies and a few thousand at the very most of each of the other four ordinances for the dead. Therefore, they would be say 80% to 90% short of their responsible number and now these would have to be added to the list for others to do later. (during the Millennium I suppose).
By the time the Millennium comes, the number of people who have died and needing their temple work done, will thus be in the billions and billions. So all the faithful members of the Church who have been saved to live in the Millennium will now be responsible for a mind numbing amount of truly boring work to be accomplished in the temple for the thousand years.
It is all possible? I guess that it could be argued that it might be. But is it a truly rational thing to have to do and accomplish. Keep in mind that from teachings given to us by the Church, only a small percentage of all those dead having all this work done for them will, in the end, even accept the gospel and having this work done for them while they are in the Mormon spirit world. What a massive waste of time and energy! Would in not be much more logical for God to simply allow all those who accept the gospel in the “spirit world” to just do these ordinances and ceremonies there, in the spirit world, and have that count for them. I ,personally, can not believe in a God with such a ridiculous plan for accomplishing ordinance work that he decided needed to be done by each person he would grant entrance back into his kingdom. Does this plan even make sense?
| First there was polygamy. Prophets and Apostles stood up and invoked the name of God that this was a "Law of God" that could not be done away with. It was preached as being inherently superior to the "corrupt system" of monogamy. Plural marriage (or "Celestial marriage" or "Patriarchal marriage" as they called it) was a commandment of God and was here to stay.
The world backed by the U.S. Government had different ideas.
Graudally the Church came around to the world's way of thinking. By the 1940s and 1950s the LDS church was actively turning over information on polygamists to law enforcement authorities.
Then there was the idea of "legal marriage" It was the policy if not "doctrine" of the church that couples who lived together without benefit of a legal marriage (as defined in their country) were living in sin. This, however, caused a problem in some catholic countries where divorce wasn't legal. A man and woman would get married and the marriage would break up. However since divorce was not allowed they were still legally married for the rest of their lives. The man or woman would go on with their lives moving in with a new partner but not able to marry them--they would just cohabit.
The Church, with then-Apostle Spencer W. Kimball's urging, changed the rules to allow those who were legally adulterers to be baptized into the church without having to discontinue their adultry.
Then the whole problem of homosexuality appeared suddenly in the last part of the 1900s. Just about the worst insult you could call a guy was "Queer". Being gay automatically got you drummed out of the army with a dishonorable discharge and no protests from anyone. The church hardly acknowledged that homosexuality even existed.
The gay rights movement, however, made the issue visible. The Church's solution was to encourage a gay member to quickly get married to a memeber of the opposite sex (interestingly the bishop who usually counselled a young man to do this never suggested his own daughter as a possible mate). This, of course, led to many disastrous results. The world was saying that Gays can't really be changed. The church, as you have quoted, told the world that it was wrong.
Now the church is beginning to accept the idea that Gays are gay for life. They no longer encourage Gay men to marry women to "fix" the problem. There is even no more rhetoric about how it can't possibly be genetically influenced.
Now they say "we have the same rules for everyone, gays and straights: no sex outside of marriage." This almost sounds egalitarian--same exact rules for both.
Of course they then spend millions of dollars and many, many man hours trying to defeat bills to legalize gay marriages wherever they are introduced so their talk of "same rules" is rather disengenuous.
But at least now they are warming to the idea (presented by "the world") that there is a biological/genetic component to sexuality. Oaks a few years back even publically considered the idea as acceptable.
In the sexually repressed 1940s and 1950s (when many of the current church leaders went through their formative years) the idea of oral sex was taboo. Many states had laws against consenting adults engaging in it. It was called a "crime against nature" and often referred to as something "too horrible to mention" (indicentally people were convicted and sentenced to jail in trials which did not allow their actual "crime" to be mentioned since it was "too horrible to mention"--in one state a man who raped his wife was convicted only of engaging in oral sex upon her because at the time oral sex was illegal while spousal rape was legal!).
Well then came the 60's and the sexual revolution. Mainstream movies ("Coming Home" and "Bonnie and Clyde") contained strong references to oral sex. The book "The Joy of Sex" describing "proper" oral sex techniques became a best seller. In 1982 the First Presidency sent a letter to bishops and stake presidents stating that "The First Presidency has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure, or unholy practice."
Well this caused a bit of a consternation. Some people felt that the First Presidency was out of place telling married, consenting adults what they could or could not do in their own homes. Anyway there was a bit of a backlash when word got out as to what the "old men" had actually written. A follow up letter was sent out saying, in effect, for pete's sake don't actually bring up any details of a married couple's sex life in a recomend interview.
The Church backed off and the matter was given benign neglect. The Supreme court ruled that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is nobody's business. Now some TBMs even pooh-pooh the claim that such a letter was ever written and call it anti-Mormon lies. No Mormons complained because the Clinton-Lewinsky affair involved oral sex, but only that it involved infidelity.
So when it comes to morality, sexual or otherwise (racial for example) the world leads and the Church follows.
| Yesterday I attended the baptism of my eight year-old niece. She is the daughter of my ultra-TBM brother. She was the only one baptized.
What struck me the most about her baptism, was the repeated references to her having to be baptized to wash away her sins.
When I was growing up in the church, when you turned eight years-old, you didn't have any sins yet. Children under the age of eight got baptized to become members of the church and to get the "gift of the holy ghost."
But for my niece, the message was more about having to clean herself. In addition to the talks that said this, we also sang a children's primary song on baptism, which reflects this same idea. The lyrics read:
"I know when I am baptized, my sins are washed away, and I can be forgiven and improve myself each day."
Listen to the song here:
"I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain."
How long has the church been teaching seven year-old children that they are dirty with sins that have to be washed away by baptism at age eight? Do you think the church changed this so more kids would be guilt-induced into baptism?
My nine year-old doesn't buy into the whole dirty/clean guilt trip induced by Mormonism. After the baptism she told me she felt sorry for her cousin.
| Shortly before it all fell apart church-wise for me a lesson was given in PH meeting regarding "finding those who are susceptible to the spirit".
The teacher gathered missionary tactics from those that served and found one common element. Preying upon the weak. He was absolutely delighted with this since the material he was reading from listed the downtrodden, depressed, and hard up as being more susceptible to "the spirit".
We were encouraged to seek these people out. The more miserable the better.
This stuck in my craw and was actually the first thing that [B]really[/B] got me thinking about the church (the second was the startling realization that the temple ceremony was a bastardized Masonic initiation my first time through the temple).
I got up and went for a walk. I felt like I had been had since a few years earlier I was one of those golden contacts the teacher told everyone to seek out. Someone in a funk. I was depressed. Extremely depressed. The missionaries and church-going friends fed me the typical lines and of course it was too good to be true.
Looking back I realize I wasn't looking for the spirit. I was looking for friendly faces and a leg up.
What predatory tactics can you recall being encouraged to use in the name of conversion?
| I sing in an LDS group, none of whom know that I am an unbeliever. Yesterday I listened to a very interesting conversion after our rehearsal was over. The director's daughter has been dating a young man. They love each other, they want to be together, and they want to get married. However, the young man received a personal revelation while he was in the temple that it is not right. They are still together and the young man is hoping that the answer may change. Both families think that they would be very good for each other and are disturbed by this development. The mother talked to her bishop. He told her to have the young man call him. He wants to talk some sense into this young man. He says that if this particular young woman wants to marry you, you do not need to pray about it. You just do it. I understand his sentiments as she is quite an exceptional young woman.
I found this very interesting. None of the adults involved really have any faith in personal revelation, especially when it is someone else's. Do Mormon's really believe in personal revelation? Some people might believe in their own, but do they really trust the principle enough to acknowledge the personal revelation of someone else? Mormon's are taught to seek for it, but do they trust the results? Perhaps people who are too fanatical about it end up getting burned sooner or later and discover that relying on their own judgement is much safer.
My DW has been on the other end of this situation. She felt very strongly that she had received a revelation telling her why she needed to go on a mission. When she was called, the stake president asked her why she wanted to go. She shared the reason that she was given by revelation. He told her that it was not a good reason. This was very upsetting to her, and she felt that he was not inspired in that instance. He did not acknowledge her revelation, and she did not acknowlege the inspiration he is entitled to receive on her behalf as her priesthood leader.
When I was a believer, I genuinely believed that I received personal revelation. However, when I got married, my personal revelation often contradicted DW's. Furthermore, she sometimes demanded that I pray for an answer to something. After I felt I had received an answer, I would share it with her. However, subsequent events proved that it was not the right answer. DW did not loose faith the principle, but she began to believe that I was not inspired. I began to believe that it was impossible to tell whether an impression was actually a revelation until it was verified by some other experience. I gradually realized that this makes the principle worthless, even if it does exist. I tend to believe that most TBM's with sufficient life experience do not really believe it, if they are honest with themselves. However, there is tremendous social pressure to appear to be righteous, and receiving revelation is seen as evidence of that.
What did you believe about personal revelation when you were a believer? What do your TBM family members believe? What do you believe now?
| That is what my dear husband said to me this morning. For those of you who are lurking on this board, take what you read as being very serious. I can tell you that since my husband and I have practiced Mormonism our lives have been like hell in a handbasket!
I was born into the church and when I met my future husband to be, I INSISTED that he take the lessons. Long story short, he got the weakened down version of the discussions, accepted after much persistence from the mishies and joined. Since, I was raised ourside of Utah, we were taught the milk before the meat for ALL the time I lived in the East. Not until I moved to Utah did I hear of second annointings, blood atonement, the Adam-God theory, mysteries of Kolob, God and Mary sex act, polygamy in heaven, Joseph Smith's harem of wives, etc. I could go on and on. We didn't have Seminary back in those days, either. We were too far away , I guess.
After having held several callings and beginning to understand and actually study the LDS scriptures, our eyes were opened. Sore trials came upon us. Was it a coincidence or just life? Several immediate family members fell to serious illnesses, some died. We were devastated. Financial disaster came upon us- Not once, but twice. It seemed like every time we rose up in the church, we were squashed. Being a martyr came naturally, as friends in the church told us that we were being put through the refiner's fire- because we were such good people. I often wondered, was God trying to tell me something?
When my son decided to not serve a mission, things changed.
(yes, he was worthy) We were treated poorly for his decision. I was treated poorly because I did not force him to go. After all, does he not have free agency? I sat back and listened to the insults and insinuations. We had been studying the scriptures in preparation for this event and suddenly things weren't adding up. Our little family decided that maybe we should take a break from church and see how our life goes and how we feel about everything.
Months passed and there was a peace came into my life. I was rested, refreshed and overall ALL of our lives were improving. We now had great business success, health and a desire to move on with our lives- without the church.
The next problem is one that many on this board have: How to get out of the grips of this SICK culture and afford to start over when you have devoted most of your adult life to something that you once thought was most precious and dear to you. When you think of the years of brainwashing -It is VERY scary. It could effect your emotional, financial, spiritual and mental well being. Please be careful as this religion has ALL the characteristics of a cult. I never thought I would be in one.
| From the sacrament-talk-dictionary-opener school of thought:
"Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?" asks the interviewer.
Affiliate: To attach (to) or unite (with); to receive into a society as a member, and initiate into its mysteries, plans, etc.; -- followed by to or with. [1913 Webster]
Sympathize: To agree; to be in accord; to harmonize. --Dryden. [1913 Webster]
Precept: Any commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; esp., a command respecting moral conduct; an injunction; a rule. [1913 Webster]
An anonymous T(B÷2)M, like myself, who posts here with the word "unregistered" next to their moniker is certainly not affiliated with RfM. The word was probably chosen because it sounds like "associate" and therefore encourage all members to completely avoid longterm contact with those with contrary points of view.
Sympathize is a tough one. Is that sympathize in a movement sense, like "are you or have you ever been a communist sympathizer?" I suppose it must be, or the phrase "lean" or "tend toward" would have been chosen. But, the question hinges on what exactly the precepts of RfM are.
The only precept like statement I could find with some ease is on the main page of the site where it says:
"Recovery from Mormonism-A site for those who are questioning their faith in the Mormon Church and for those who need support as they transition their lives to a normal life. We are not affiliated with any religion and we do not advocate any religion."
Is it a teaching of the church to not question the faith? It is not in any Article of Faith or Proclaimation. What about transitioning to a normal life? I suppose there is no teaching against it. It is always good to help in a good thing. No truly kind person would want anyone to be a former Mormon whose life is in shambles.
So, I should be able to answer "yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes" in clear conscience right?
| I don't make that statement egotistically. You see, I was a TBM deluxe. When I was a boy, I would have chosen being the president of the Church over being the president of the United States. I loved the church. I loved going to Primary. I loved being baptized. I loved it when my family was finally sealed in the temple. I couldn't wait to go on a mission (but did have a couple of doubts just before). I absolutely loved the MTC and loved being a missionary. I loved being an Aaronic Priesthood holder. I loved getting my patriarchal blessing. I loved getting the Melchizedek priesthood. I was asked to speak in Stake Conference just before my mission. I was excited about going to Argentina and converting the beautiful people there to the Gospel. I loved thinking about the beauty of the Plan of Salvation (Happiness). I loved teaching people about the Gospel. I loved the thought of one day marrying a wife for eternity. I loved it when my wife and I went to the temple and were married there. I cried at the altar as Irealized that the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were for me, too. I loved blessing my children. I loved working full-time, going to school for time, serving as an EQ president having a family. I loved callings and meeting people,. I loved interacting with my friends at church. I loved modeling the church. I loved finding ways to mention the church in discussions. I loved pondering about the scriptures. I loved speaking in sacrament meeting. I loved it when a temple was announced next to my ward building. I loved being on the Temple Open House Committee and working with the press. I loved being an ordinance worker. I loved the church.
I then I became worn out. The things I loved made me feel dead. I realized that my relationship with my wife was a facade. We were both married to the church. I took a good hard look and researched. And I found out about things again that I had shelfed. I puked, cried, prayed it wasn't so. I tried to brainwash myself back into belief. I talked to friends and family about my then doubts. I cried so more, and then I became very angry about the deception I had encountered and the way the church/cult was pulling my family and friends away from me.
This is coming from a 39 year old man who was raised in the Church, whose family life was completely centered around the church, who went to early morning seminary for 4 years, was active as Deacon, Teacher, Priest, spoke in Stake conference, went to the temple then to the MTC, served a faithful mission (not that it matters, but was an AP). This is from a man who returned and was married in the temple, went to BYU, had children, worked, served in the church; who went to law school, had more babies, was an EQ President, YM President, Ward Mission Leader, HP Group Assistant, Bishopric counselor, HP Group leader, bishopric counselor again (and would be the next bishop, but for).
I was at first a reluctant convert to this truth that has changed our lives. The fact that I am here, tells me that the flood waters are rising.
| Story #4 - Moving Mountains Or Mountains Moving & A Bonus Lie From The Church For Your Reading Pleasure |
Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006, at 08:31 AM
Original Author(s): Former Church Insider
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 4 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| It seems that there was a little problem at the Granite Mountain Vault a few years back. The Lard and Mother Nature were obviously in a major feud. The work of the Lard was to go on uninterrupted, but Mother Nature had her way….
Above the vault parking lot in Little Cottonwood Canyon is a craggily mountain face littered with small, medium and large stones and boulders the size of houses… This area happens to be a favorite climbing ground in the canyon for a lot of brave rock climbers who showed no fear of the dangers of the unstable area, but are obviously scared to death of the church signs that say “stay out”….
Over time, the freeze/thaw cycles of the big mama made the mountain move in small but inconvenient ways. Rocks were always tumbling down the mountain side and smashing the windows, hoods and fenders of the underpaid employees’ and missionary vehicles parked below. This went on for a long time….Their cries for help to brethren and others who talked to the Lard went unanswered. Even all their faith couldn’t stop that mountain from moving….. All it took to finally get some attention was for a rock to hit some important person’s car one day…..and heads in the COB began to roll…..something had to be done about those rocks….
Several ideas were presented but no one could figure out a way to fix the problem. Some brilliant COB engineer was looking at the rocks one day and saw those pesky rock climbers and had an idea…. how about using those rock climbers to clear the mountain of rocks….and if we lose a few (climbers) in the process, all the better – this being said because the church refused the request of the contracted climbers to provide them insurance or any financial assistance if they came tumbling down with the rocks…..
A group of climbers out of Utah County (one of whom was about to scale Mt. Everest) took on the challenge….and thought it would be fun to be on that mountain in a legal way for once. The plan was put into place for the climbers to knock down the loose rocks and try and stabilize the larger boulders….. As fate would have it, the climbers did as they were requested and actually did a superb job for their meager wages and a lot of rocks came tumbling down, some large, and some even larger, and they just seemed to keep coming…..it was as if those rocks were going to never stop coming….
In the process of rocks coming down, three of the four entrance portals to the vault were severely damaged….one in a very major way. The parking lot looked kind of like a bunch of craters on the moon and low and behold, some of those rocks ended up on the main road below…..you know the one that leads to Snowbird and Alta ski resorts…..in fact the road to the resorts kind of resembled craters on the moon….. and unfortunately, many church and family picnics in the canyon had to be cancelled for the next few days to repair the damage to the road…..It still makes me sad to this day that some of those darling kids were deprived of this family quality time and church time….but alas as all of you know….S..T…happens!…(that’s Sacred Trials for the uneducated).
In the beginning, the church thought this would be a great human interest story…..you know, how the church was to help the poor rock climbers earn money for their trip to Mt. Everest and all…. Unfortunately, the Church News reporter assigned to the project didn’t get the word that he was only to report the “human interest” side of the story, because he mentioned something about “loose rocks” and almost got fired over it….oh well, he did learn his lesson and told his boss he would never report such faith demoting story again……
I know because I was there….but I’m sure a few of you naysayers will say I’m making this up again…..either way it’s still a fun story to tell…. The truth can be stranger than fiction….
………Now for the church Lie of the day……. Below there is a link from the LDS Church itself describing the famous vault…. If you’ll notice, there is the following copyrighted quote:
…..Vault manager Wayne Crosby says few visitors are allowed inside, but NOT BECAUSE OF ANY SECRECY SURROUNDING THE STRUCTURE. “The reason is to ensure that we maintain the environment of the vault," Metcalfe explains. "This collection represents a lot of money, time and effort. We want to ensure its long-term preservation."
OK… I have a question, Why is it that the vault has several armed security guards on duty at the same time, a zillion cameras, remote controlled gates – for both vehicles and people, 3-4 day background checks and security clearances, etc. for anyone who ever enters the vault….etc., and the largest stainless steel reinforced blast door on the face of the earth….
If you guessed that it is because BKP and GBH are interested in climate control and conserving energy… Bingo! You win the CTR answer prize for the day!
| I have always understood anger to be a secondary emotion. It follows something else like: disappointment, confusion, shock, hurt, pain, betrayal, etc.
Also, processing years of outrageous, outlandish, ridiculous, ludicrous, unrealistic, unreasonable (and many more adjectives) behavior and teachings from the Mormon Church will leave a person shaking their head trying to make sense of it all.
And that takes time. Lots of it.
Thinking it through, talking and writing about it helps to process the experiences, and it can take a long time.
I have found that for myself, obsessing and staying in a state of anger does not benefit me so I try to recognize it quickly and move directly to the humor!
Because, in reality, Mormonism is very funny stuff.
Also, most of the Mormon/Christians, I know do not recognize any emotions except: angry or happy.
It is amazing to listen to someone respond to information that is clear and precise (and often documented) and then accuse me of being angry!
Initially, that surprised me and I thought I must be doing something to give them that impression.
I knew I was not angry, and their comments got a snicker from me. Then it dawned on me. I am not doing anything.
They are so well programmed that they actually think and believe that anything that does not fit their view of their OK Mormon world is anger!
Also, I have noticed that Mormons are trained-programmed to think if they say something it is true.
They can repeat anything and it is true.
A falsehood, repeated makes it true!
Odd behavior, but that is how they tend to think.
So, anger, probably resulting from being hurt and treated unfairly, and not listened to or accepted, is a good thing.
It is probably the best motivation to get someone to figure out what is wrong with the Mormon picture and do so searching for some answers.
I suppose you could say that because Mormonism is based on a lie from the get-go from Joseph Smith, Jr., (and human beings instinctively know a lie from the truth) that making that lie a matter of faith by believing it as factual, and a testimony, it creates some kind of twisted mental process that finds it's way into other areas of their lives.
I am fortunate, that I was not one to defer to the male leadership, especially, when their behavior and actions were completely unreasonable.
I have a mind that hears and recognized inconsistencies in information and it never did set well with me to hear the leaders make subtle demands from the women and put them in a secondary position (or third behind the Aaronic Priesthood) while saying they were equal.
The inconsistencies in the Mormon teachings just never stop!
Once I realized that the core was rotten, that Joseph Smith, Jr.never had any golden plates from any angel, I got to the laugher in a couple of seconds!
What the epiphany came, in that small moment of a few seconds,reading on line on Dr. Shades web site, and I realized that I was OK all along, it is the Mormon Church that is a hoax, lie and complete fraud, immediately after I punched the air with YES YES YES, I started to snicker, then laughed and laughed.
How funny!Amazing that people are still believing his silly tales and lies and fabrications.
Smart people too. Well, so much for being smart! That makes sense as emotional attachments do now have an IQ!
The members for generations have been hornswaggled out of 10% of their income, for life for a lie! That is a crack up!
And, on top of it, they are wearing goofy, matching, regulation skivvies while doing it, and wondering if there is any revelation about taking them off for sex! :-) The absurdities that I tried to adopt finally made sense - they do not make sense!
When I want a good laugh, I just visualize all the Mormons at the temple in the THE GREEN APRON ONLY!!
Now that is my idea of a real ritual!! I usually visualize a moonlit fire also! :-)
I find the power of the mind to laugh at the absurd, and put it in perspective in our lives, even though we participated in it is extremely healing. Being able to look back and laugh at ourselves and the silliness, goofiness, ridiculous get-ups in the temple, and those crazy Masonic death oaths and hand shakes, refusing to take that nonsense seriously, is a great way to get through the Exit Process from Mormonism's imprinting.
It is only when I loose my sense of humor (even temporarily) and I feel sorry for myself, and invite people to my "pity party" that I get upset and angry and go through angst all over again. Geez, I hate it when that happens!
So, I have a New Year's Resolution: And I am quoting a Mormon leader who, many years ago gave me excellent advice! He told me not to take myself so seriously! Isn't that ironic?
OK, stake president, right back at ya!!
| At the age of 12, Mormon youth begin a lifetime journey of questioning, prying, snooping and interference into their life and personal affairs. Once the process of bishop interviews has begun, nothing in the life of a Mormon is held sacred, private or personal... every undisclosed indiscretion must be revealed to the priesthood authority in order to maintain acceptance in the Mormon Church.
Church Youth are taught through this process that they have no personal boundaries. They learn early in life that any Mormon in authority over them is not only entitled to their most personal secrets but that failure to disclose personal matters is a sin. No question is deemed too private; everything is ON the table.
As young Mormon men and women prepare to enter the temple they again renew a lifetime of Mormon violation of their personal private boundaries. Every two years they can plan with anticipation for Mormon authorities to quiz them on such issues as what they eat, what they wear, their sexual practices, and the level of their commitment and devotion to Mormonism. And because Temple marriage has become a required cultural report card... many young Mormon people are forced to compromise their integrity in order to meet the Mormon cultural standards by lying.
This brings on the other Mormon control tool... Guilt.
Guilt inside Mormonism is used to manipulate the membership into compliance. Threats of disfellowshipment and excommunication are the ultimate price used toward any member who might dare to rebel. Decent is NOT allowed.
Adult Mormons can look forward to a lifetime of personal boundary violation... and manipulation. The only time adult TBM Mormon’s can truly be free is upon death. Sadly most of them don’t even recognize the years of exploitation and the breach of their personal boundaries.
| I'm no expert, but I wanted to throw my thinking out to the group and see what people think, and use your input to further form my thoughts, and possibly help me find a way to deal with what appears to be a very common problem. A special thanks to Bob McCue and his great essays for helping me better understand some of these issues.
I am trying to write this without considering whether the church is true; I’m just trying to isolate how and why the TBM/ex-mormon marriage is so troublesome.
Where do our beliefs come from?
It is inappropriate for either spouse to insist that the other change their beliefs. Our religious (and otherwise) beliefs are reflective of our personal agency, and for the most part we do not choose our beliefs – other than when our view of the evidence doesn't make a clear choice for us.
What choices do we make? It seems that the only conscious choices we make are whether to avoid information that contradicts our beliefs, and whether to seek out (or give inappropriate attention to) information/explanations that support our preferred belief. When cog-dis kicks in this process is automatic. But it seems to me that this is really the only control we have over our own beliefs.
Here is an example to illustrate this point: I could not “choose” to believe homeopathy works. I could, however, choose to avoid all skeptical material regarding homeopathy, and research homeopathic “success” anecdotes, and find or create explanations that counter the critics’ arguments. If my goal is to believe in homeopathy, I can also choose to focus on aspects of homeopathy that are not testable by science, which would be “safer” from skeptical arguments. If I am disciplined, and I want to believe in homeopathy, chances are that I can eventually create that belief. If I have never internalized the skeptical arguments against homeopathy, I could easily create in myself a rock-solid “testimony”.
Differing Beliefs in Marriage.
Understanding that our spouse who holds different beliefs does not choose those beliefs gives a different perspective, and probably more respect. I know that in my situation, my wife and I can disagree about a political item, whether a movie was good or not, what to have for dinner, or how to discipline our children, and none of these disagreements (usually) will have much of a lasting impact, even if they are heated and emotional disagreements.
But when one spouse believes in the truthfulness of the church and the other does not, it is toxic to the marriage (and by extension the family). Why? I think it is primarily due to these factors:
The institution of the church, and by extension the leaders in positions of authority in the church, become a third party to the marriage. See Bob McCue’s thoughts on the subject at http://www.mccue.cc/bob/documents/rs.... . As a faithful believer strives to live up to the teachings of the church, this often means a greater acceptance of and obedience to the instruction given by this third party. The result is that well-intentioned church leaders have usurped a critical aspect of the marriage relationship. When one spouse strives to be obedient to the counsel of trusted religious authority, and that counsel frequently extends to the marriage relationship, the intimacy of the marriage relationship is disrupted and the non-believing spouse feels alienated.
- Those who believe in Mormonism tend to believe in all of it – it’s a blanket acceptance.
- Believers also accept the institution of the church as vessel for the previously accepted belief in the Mormonism.
- The institution of Mormonism is authoritarian in nature, strongly emphasizing obedience and discouraging dissent.
- Belief in Mormonism generally constitutes an acceptance of the authority of the institution of the church and its leaders.
- The instructions of Mormon leaders are not limited to religious philosophy. They frequently give instruction that extends to all areas of personal life, including the marriage relationship.
I think that it is the granting of authority over the marriage to an outside party that causes the stress on the marriage. It doesn’t matter that it is the church – it could be parent(s) who can’t seem to let go of control over a child (and the child allows the control to continue into the marriage), a meddling friend, Laura Schlesinger or Oprah Winfrey or Cosmopolitan, an over-bearing employer, etc. The list goes on, and I think that in all of these cases, the marriage is compromised to the extent that one or both of the spouses have granted authority to the outsider. Note that all of these could be positive influences on the marriage, if the authority is kept between husband and wife.
Some of the ways in which the authority affects the marriage are positive (for example: be faithful to your spouse, make time for your family, be sympathetic to those in need) others are harmful (for example: the believer may feel religious pressure to have more children than would be healthy for the marriage, or causing guilt where there should be none). It really doesn’t matter that some of the counsel might constitute good advice. The problem lies in the fact that the decision process, and the growth and teamwork that should come from making those decisions, is taken away from the marriage. A potentially important marriage decision has already been made before it reaches the other spouse.
Erosion of Love and Respect
Much of what the church teaches involves painting a picture of a faithful and obedient family, and promises grand rewards to those families for their obedience. When one spouse is a non-believer, the believing spouse is excluded from many of those rewards. To the degree that the believing spouse perceives that they are unfairly denied these promised blessings because of the non-believing spouse, feelings of contempt and resentment are fostered.
Still other teachings, designed to discourage faithfulness and build loyalty to the institution of the church, often paint non-believers as under the influence of evil, outsiders, non-enlightened, unfavored by God, and in a number of other similarly negative ways. If the Mormon spouse accepts these teachings and considers the non-believing spouse to be part of the group being disparaged, the marriage relationship is damaged. To be fair, the same applies when the non-mormon spouse reads/views material that villifies mormons.
If the believing spouse feels that the closeness or love in the marriage is lacking, the church provides an ideal replacement. The spouse might use God as a sort of “surrogate” for the emotional relationship – depriving the real marriage of the attention and effort it needs. God makes a perfect replacement because he is… well, perfect! I think this probably happens more with a TBM wife.
What to do?
I wish I knew. Maybe there is a healthy midpoint where each spouse can have greatly different religious views, but the authority of the religious views is demoted to “advice”. Maybe there is a way that the believing spouse can make the manifestation of their religious views subordinate to the marriage, instead of the other way around. It seems that a true-believing spouse should be able to do this without changing any of their religious beliefs – just how they are applied.
There will probably always be some areas of the marriage where the marriage and the religious beliefs are directly at odds, and I suppose in those cases one or the other will lose. A couple of examples of this might be wearing garments (to a non-mormon, symbolic of the marriage being subordinate to the institution of the church, and a barrier to physical intimacy), what the children are taught regarding religion, or the TBM spouse’s payment of tithing. Also, the TBM spouse who feels that they are deprived of blessings because of their non-believing spouse will probably always feel that way as long as they hold those beliefs.
As I mentioned before, it would be wrong for either spouse to demand (or even ask) the other to change their religious views. However, if one spouse’s religious beliefs cause a third party to become part of the marriage relationship, and the marriage will be subjected to the authority of that third party, I think that spouse has a responsibility to honestly evaluate the authority, and to what extent holding those religious beliefs really requires introducing that external authority into the marriage. It is probably fair to ask (even demand?) that the TBM spouse NOT “engineer” their beliefs in a way that is opposed to the health of the marriage.
I would even take it a step further and say that in the areas where spouses hold differing religious beliefs (and the difference has a negative impact on the marriage), both spouses have an obligation to endeavor to bridge that gap, and avoid engineering their beliefs. That is to say that neither spouse should be controlling, seeking, or avoiding information in such a way as to artificially create or strengthen beliefs that are opposed to the spouse’s beliefs. Both spouses should be working together with the goal (even if unattainable) of having the same beliefs, ignoring as much as possible the built-in desire one has to maintain their current belief system.
| So, now BB, you want me to discuss my dichotomy. The classical model I have used in the past is the split in the Western view of Aphrodite and Demeter, daughter and lover, respectively, of your nemesis (another Greek gift to us -- you should look it up), though there is another telling in which Aphrodite came into being when your Cronus castrated his father, Uranus, and threw his severed genitals into the ocean, from which she arose -- pinkly dry and alluring on a seashell if we are to believe Botticelli. Even to the ancients the myths were plastic, which can be your response in the future to those who dispute your manipulation of the gods to suit yourself. It is Homer that has her being conceived more conventionally through the union of Zeus and Dione.
The split was described by a scholar, French as I recall, whose name I don't have in front of me, though I'm sure I gave him credit in the paper written over thirty years ago in which I rather without originality borrowed his idea that Western culture has split its image of women between these two Greek foremothers. The dichotomy is between the sexual allure of Aphrodite, the temptress who enfolds men into her arms and perhaps ensnares them such, and Demeter, the provider of Earth's bounty, the nurturer, Mother enshrined. I used these those archetypes to discuss the women depicted in the paintings of the nineteenth century English painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who had two preferred women models, Elizabeth and Jane. I don't know if my analysis would still hold, but that's what I thought at the time. (I question this because what my memory tells me of Elizabeth is too pale, too blonde, too weak to sustain life as Demeter, who surely has more stamina than the sickly Elizabeth.)
Later I used the same dichotomy to examine and explain the very strange construction of Faulkner's Wild Palms, a novel that is two separate and completely unrelated -- unless one can find a thematic link -- stories, one about the Mississippi at flood and the other about a doomed love affair begun in the steamy shadows of New Orleans. I won't go into my argument here except to suggest that though the river is called Old Man -- indeed that is the title that one of the stories is published under when it is extracted from the whole -- that in its life-sustaining and life-destroying power it is similar to the twinned archetypes of Demeter and Aphrodite. The paper is probably only memorable for its title, "Aphrodite on the Lam," an irreverence for which I was chided by the professor and admired by Et in Utah Ego.
I now wonder if we may see -- and note how I save this post by making it ON TOPIC -- the mormon view of women through the same lens.
Mormon women are urged to consider their highest calling to be that of Wife and Mother. They are linked, always, Wife and Mother. Her sexuality is to be channeled only into Motherhood. Her creativity is to be channeled first and last into Motherhood and Homemaking. This is Demeter, nurturer, sustainer of life.
Yet she is always, if not Wife and Mother, the temptress, Eve, whose sexuality must be masked and guarded against. I grasped how firm had been my intuition that BYU was not the place for me when I visited a friend there during term and learned in Sacrament Meeting that women who wore their skirts above the knees -- and this was in the miniskirt era -- were culpable for the fall from grace of men who would lust in their hearts on seeing those two or three or four inches of nylon-cased flesh. In fact, these women were partners in sin with the young men. For how much greater was the woman's sin, how much weight she must bear, because so many of the men who would be drawn to their destruction at BYU had been missionaries and so had taken Sacred Covenants in the Temple? When they lusted after these exposed fleshy thighs they were putting at risk more than the younger women who had not taken on the responsibility of these Sacred Covenants. So these thoughtless, unchaste and immoral women were putting at risk an Entire Generation of the Lord's Anointed, simply by wearing short skirts.
I kid you not. Ask anyone who has been to BYU at the time. (My visit was in February or March of 1970.)
It is a dichotomy that Mormon men perpetuate through the warping of their sexual nature, the denial of the normality of their desire. So sexuality is pushed underground where it arises dark, forbidden, distorted. And the fear of its power is must be contained by condemning she who arouses it, Whore Woman, she who must be contained and controlled by the Power of the Priesthood. And she can be contained and controlled by turning all her energies to the role assigned to her by God, that of Wife and Mother. Aphrodite is tamed by Demeter.
That is the dichotomy of self fed to me by my upbringing. In the thirty years since I turned my back on Righteousness, I have perhaps disentangled it mostly from my soul. Perhaps I am simply now too old to feel its weight. But I wonder how distorted by it were the women of my generation? My friend from high school, the still-TBM daughter of an emeritus Seventy, sent a Christmas card this year that featured only a picture of her and her husband with their five grandchildren. It was printed -- not signed -- only with their names and the pet names they are called by the grandchildren, as if their only identities were that as grandparents. I don't dismiss the joy of grandchildren or the importance of grandparents in the children's lives, but surely there must be more to one's identity than being called "Noni"? Even at our decrepit stage of life, her need for creativity must extend beyond scrapbooking, which was her passion when last I spoke with her. She put her degree from Stanford to work raising the children and keeping an immaculate house and being Relief Society president. Surely the intelligence that earned that degree could have been channeled into something more.
It is not for me to say, nor do I diminish the value of raising children full time. What I question is the diminishment of woman's aspirations by casting her only as a Whore or a Spotless Wife and Mother. Mormons didn't invent this, nor are they the only ones perpetuating it, certainly. But it was Mormonism that implanted it in my soul and the soul of my friend.
As for my own, current dichotomy, the split between of Working Wife and Writer, between mundane Suburban Housewife and someone hidden tapping away at these keys in the dark, that will have to wait because the light has risen outside, the houses across the street have been washed in faint pink light and now brighten visibly, and I must go make my husband's coffee and, like a good daughter of Demeter, pour for him his cereal.
Aphrodite link: http://www.pantheon.org/areas/mytholo...
| Given the nature of this Board, it is not surprising that there is much discussion here that is rightfully critical of Mormon apologetics. As an extension of this criticism, much of the writing on the Board either challenges or endorses other writings that advocate various alternative views about religion, faith, science, and any number of other issues related to Mormonism or religion generally. Often such posts are well reasoned, articulate, and informative. However, in my judgment, it is sometimes difficult for all of us to separate facts, logic and reason, from the emotional responses we have to Mormonism generally. Notwithstanding, it seems important for both our own personal growth, as well as the influence this Board may have on others, that our arguments remain cogent and logical; and that our assessment of the writings on Mormonism and related issues remain as objective as possible.
To this end, this post provides suggestions on how to read critically. I do not claim to have all of the answers in this regard, but I offer these suggestions after fairly extensive academic training and experience in reading difficult, technical writing. Much of what follows I learned from other people along the way. I hope it will be helpful to some.
1. RECOGNIZING ARGUMENTS. Every book that argues for a particular point of view is made up of a complex web of logical arguments, involving statements that serve as premises and conclusions. Statements are offered to support conclusions, and conclusions sometimes function as premises to further conclusions. Sometimes these are presented in a straightforward way making the argument easy to follow. However other times you may be left with the difficult task of sorting through a hodgepodge of statements to try to figure the argument out. In any event, you have to read every book or article of this kind constantly looking for logical structure. This is largely a reading mindset, and it takes practice. After awhile it becomes second nature. If you do not have experience reading in this way, start by reading more slowly, and after each sentence or paragraph asking, "What is the author's point, and what is his or her purpose of making this point at this time." In other words, "How does this statement function in theauthor's argument?" After awhile you will notice that much of what you read in a critical essay or book is not strictly relevant to the argument, and is merely offered rhetorically, or as an interesting aside.
2. BEWARE OF DEFINITIONS: Critical writing is invariably tied to the definitions of key words contained in the argument. When you see such a word ask yourself, "What does the author mean by this term?" "Is the author clear and consistent in using the word?" "Is the definition controversial?" "Does the author's definition seem intuitively accurate?" The logical success of an argument depends upon the proper and well-defined use of critical terminology. To the extent such terms are ambiguous or controversial, there is a corresponding reduction in the force of the argument–sometimes fatally.
3. READING TO UNDERSTAND. When reading a critical book it is very common to get to a point and realize that you did not understand what was just read. This could be attributed to a number of factors: It could be you were just too sleepy and inattentive. In that case you can just read the material again, perhaps after a break. It could also very well be that the passage itself was incoherent, i.e. it doesn't make sense. Finally, it could be that the material was over your head. In any event, after reading a passage twice, and still failing to understand it, I try to determine what is going on, and how important it is. I usually know immediately if material is over my head. If so, I will consider whether to keep reading, or to set the book aside until I can do some preliminary study.
4. ASSESSING FACTS. Critical books are always laced with a plethora of alleged facts that are offered to support the author's arguments. Some such facts will seem obvious and given, and will not be a concern. Moreover, some facts are peripheral to the argument and not that important. However, it is very common for authors to throw out facts, statistics, probabilities, and studies, that are important, but that are not adequately supported. In such cases, sometimes all you can do is take them for what they are worth. But if you sense a pattern of inadequately supported facts, this should be a red flag. Note also that many "scientific" studies and resultant "probabilities" are questionable. For example, there is a very wide range of testing competence and quality within the social sciences and psychology (especially parapsychology), much of which is controversial even within these academic disciplines.
5. HASTY GENERALIZATIONS: "Hasty generalization" is an informal logical fallacy. It is when an author correctly identifies certain facts, and then improperly generalizes to an overly broad conclusion. This problem is extremely common. Part of the problem is that we cannot assess all facts, so we always have to draw conclusions based upon limited information. Probability theory is a legitimate example of making statistical generalizations from limited source data. However, sometimes an author will use the buzzwords of probability theory while making a sweeping generalization that is not supported by otherwise genuine and objective studies. In short, read carefully and critically any conclusion that seems to generalize to "all" or "most" state of affairs or circumstances.
6. INCOHERENT ARGUMENTS: Remember that it is the writer's responsibility to present his or her arguments in a coherent, understandable manner. In many, many, cases, incoherent writing is simply a sign of the author's own confusion about the issues being presented. Beware of intellectual sophistry that does not seem to make sense. Although, as indicted above, it could well be that the material is simply over your head, it is common for an author to mask his or her limited knowledge, or confusion about an issue, by using intellectual buzzwords and "terms of art," that sound impressive, but in context do not make much sense or are inaccurate.
7. FOOTNOTES: A footnote should provide references in support of controversial facts that have been presented. Don't be fooled into assuming that because the author footnoted a factual claim that the claim is therefore legitimate. Often the cited authority for the claim is weak or non-existent. Rarely is the footnote helpful in bolstering the argument itself. If it were, the author would put the material in the body of the text. Footnotes are also sometimes useful in directing the reader to other material worth reading on the subject at hand. Note also that many critical books contain bibliographies that are extremely helpful for this purpose.
8. AUTHORITY: Be careful about appeals to authority. Such an appeal of itself does not add any logical support to an argument. Moreover, the cited material is usually taken out of its full context, and sometimes offered by an expert who is speaking out of his area of expertise. An authority offers no more to support an argument than the independent validity of what he or she says. Well known academics, including scientists, often say things outside of their area of expertise, often off the cuff, that are not well thought out, and sometimes flat out wrong. A quote is useful and helpful to give credit for an argument or point, but not as authority for the argument's validity. Moreover, in academic fields there is usually credible authority on all sides of a controversial argument so you cannot assume that just because so-and-so said it, it must be true. Along this line, claims in an argument that appeal to the "majority" view also do not add any logical force to the argument.
9. READ OPPOSING POINTS OF VIEW: It is important to read books and articles that are contrary to your current point of view. If you only read books that are supportive of your pre-established views, two things will happen: First, you will come away with an increasingly distorted view of the strength of your position; and second, you will be depriving yourself of the opportunity to solidify, refine, or even change your view. Read everything with an open mind, without a preconceived motivation to dismiss the argument whether it is correct or not. I have personally reassessed and sometimes altered my own views after reading and considering opposing views (including comments from people on this Board). The confirmation bias we all have is real and active. Fight it.
10. ASSESSING NEGATIVE TONE: Occasionally the author of a book or article will allow his or her emotions to enter into an argument. This is very difficult not to do, and I have to constantly fight it in my own writing. But the fact remains that emotion, bitterness, sarcasm, and/or cynicism have no legitimate place in the context of a critical argument. It makes no difference how strongly the writer feels about his own position, or how weak and stupid he or she thinks the opposing position is. At least for me such language is a huge turn-off and automatically makes me question the credibility of the author.
As a matter of personal practice, I have found the following helpful:
INITIAL PRE-READ. Before I read any critical book cover to cover, I go through a pre-reading process. I read the introductory chapter, then the last chapter, and then the first paragraph or two of each chapter. The purpose of this pre-read is, (1) to find out what the point of the book is; (2) to find out in a general way how the author is approaching the subject; (3) to determine if the book has a sense of intellectual integrity; and (4) to determine in general whether for me the book is worth reading. I conduct this pre-read in bookstores, libraries, and sometimes after purchase. The pre-read usually takes between a half hour to an hour. If the book passes the pre-read test, I place the book in my "to read" stack where it sometimes sits for several months until I finally get to it. I go through this "to read" stack periodically to remind myself of the book, and to adjust my order of reading.
HIGHLIGHTING. When I am ready to read a book cover to cover, I will usually pre-read it again to refresh my memory as to the author's intent. I read all of my books with a yellow marker in hand, highlighting freely. My attitude is that a book is valuable only to the extent I can absorb its content. I do not care how it looks on the shelf after I have read it. As a personal matter, I usually highlight (1) statements that appear to be central to the argument; (2) points that I think are particularly well stated; (3) points that I think are fallacious; and (4) points that I just find interesting and would like to remember. I also have a red pen, and will occasionally underline a subset of the highlighted passages. Such highlighting serves a couple of purposes. First, it helps keep me attentive and focused. It also helps in finding passages later for reference.
READ SEVERAL BOOKS AT A TIME: It is perhaps natural to read one book at a time. This works well for fiction, but not for critical reading. I read 4 to 5 books at a time, all on different subjects. One of these is always light–for example, history–so that I have something to read when I am tired and just don't have the energy to concentrate with full intensity. By doing this I can adjust my reading to moods, the interests at the moment, and attention span. If I don't do this, it is easy to get bored, and reading becomes a burden rather than a pleasure. A further benefit is it gives you more time to think and reflect on what you read before coming back to further reading. I rarely read the same book for more than an hour at a time, although I will often sit for 3 or more hours reading at a time. Of course, if you wait too long to get back to a book you will loose continuity and will have to go back and review.
Well, that's about it. As I said, I do not claim to have all of the answers on this subject. I would welcome any thoughts or ideas that anyone else might have to share.
| They've been using this "special witness" gimmick for as long as I can remember...
They won't give details because they don't have any that will stand up to scrutiny. The effect they desire is exactly as you have described it. They DO WANT ordinary people to walk away with the idea firmly planted in their heads that maybe the Prophette and Apostles actually have met with the "Savior" face to face--even though the apostle hasn't really said that exactly, but only hinted that something special happened. So special!
At best, all they are really talking about is probably a special ordinance and/or an impression or feeling that they have had--about the same thing as an ordinary TBM testimony, but with the propaganda upgraded to be commensurate with their superior ecclessiastical standing.
Don't you think it odd that people who have had this so-called "special witness" have taken oaths not to talk about any details of it? What kind of witness is that? Did Paul take an oath not to talk about his special meeting on the road to Damascus? Isn't bearing witness the whole purpose of being a "witness"? And by that I don't mean going around saying "I witnessed something really special, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it with you." Much of the post-resurrection accounts in the New Testament (whether you believe in the book or not) is based on the Apostolic witnesses describing in detail their special "meeting" with the resurrected Jesus. They didn't write, "Well, after Jesus died, we had a special meeting and we are special witnesses, but we took oaths not to say anything about it."
Ridiculous. Con-artists. Charlatans.
| I remember when the morg changed introduced the "consolidated block." My parents were at Ft. Lewis when the morg tried a new experiment - our ward was the first to try it. The reasoning behind the "block" program was so that there would be more FAMILY TIME.
Ok, so gradually the auxillary programs started to bring back the mid-week activities, saying that you needed to fill your spiritual cups during the week to last the week.
There was a thread that said the the bishops were to spend more than 40 hours on "Church" related activities, so we all know that the Bishop's family is torn apart... but what about the rest of the sheeple?
For our family, the typical morg week:
Sunday 3 hours - block meeting. + 1 hour choir, + 1 hour presidency meetings, + 1 hour misc. other church meetings (this could be more if there were a special fireside) Not to mention the time it takes to dress a family, then redress the little kiddos, 'cuz they went to play in the mud on the way out to the car..., or preparing the sunday meal (my family says THANK YOU, no more roasts! LOL) So, there's at least 7 hours for Sunday.
Monday - Friday 6am - 7am, Seminary (5 hours + travel time),
Tuesday: Cub Scouts. 2 hours,
Wednesday: YMYW 7pm - 9pm = 2 hours
Thursday: Achievement Girls = 2 hours, Institute run = 2+ hours depending upon activities for the YA who didn't drive, RS mid-week activity = 2 hours, total for Thursday 6+ hours
Fridays: Youth planning committe: 2 hours
Saturday: 7+ hours of service to members of the ward.
Not counting driving all over kingdom come, I was typically gone from home 31+ hours on Church related business. There were times it was more, like when I did visiting teaching, especially as a VTS, or planning the blood drives, or attending adult only "Ward" parties.
Gosh, no wonder I felt like I was being pulled AWAY from my family, not nurturing it.
| No doubt about it, the church hates so-called "Liberal Mormons" |
"There are those in the Church who speak of themselves as liberals who, as one of our former presidents has said, “read by the lamp of their own conceit.” One time I asked one of our Church educational leaders how he would define a liberal in the Church. He answered in one sentence: “A liberal in the Church is merely one who does not have a testimony.”
"Dr. John A. Widtsoe, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve and an eminent educator, made a statement relative to this word liberal as it applied to those in the Church. This is what he said: 'The self-called liberal in the Church is usually one who has broken with the fundamental principles or guiding philosophy of the group to which he belongs. … He claims membership in an organization but does not believe in its basic concepts; and sets out to reform it by changing its foundations.'"
“It is folly to speak of a liberal religion, if that religion claims that it rests upon unchanging truth.”
"And then Dr. Widtsoe concludes his statement with this: “It is well to beware of people who go about proclaiming that they are or their churches are liberal. The probabilities are that the structure of their faith is built on sand and will not withstand the storms of truth.” (“Evidences and Reconciliations,” Improvement Era, vol. 44 , p. 609.)"
- President Harold B. Lee, General Conference Address “The Iron Rod,” Ensign, June 1971, page 5
"“And the most diabolical deceit of this infamy is that it denies evil to be an absolute. Our religion is one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy of the ‘liberal Mormons.’ We cannot safely rationalize away righteousness."
- Apostle Ezra Taft Benson quoting Elder Richard Nibley, “Satan’s Thrust–Youth,” Ensign, Dec. 1971, page 53
"We can have a certain testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and Redeemer of mankind, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet commissioned to restore the Church in our day and time without having a complete understanding of all gospel principles. But when you pick up a stick you pick up both ends. And so it is with the gospel. As members of the Church we need to accept all of it."
- Elder James E. Faust, October General Conference 2003, Saturday Morning Session
"There are the so-called learned people who have let their intellect undermine their spiritual moorings and who would also attempt to lead the faithful away from those who are appointed by the Lord to lead. There are those who feel that our leaders are out of touch with the realities of the day. They would attempt to lead members by substituting their own knowledge for the revelations from God to His prophets. And unfortunately there are those who would so follow. Christ warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15.)"
- Elder Richard C. Edgley, “Keep the Faith,” Ensign, May 1993, page 11, also LDS Church News, February 10, 1996
"The humanists who criticize us, the so-called intellectuals who demean us, speak only from ignorance of this manifestation. '...They have not heard it because they have not sought after it and prepared themselves to be worthy of it...' Do not be trapped by the sophistry of the world which for the most part is negative and which seldom, if ever, bears good fruit. Rather, “look to God and live.” (Alma 37:47.) Brethren, the Church is true. Those who lead it have only one desire, and that is to do the will of the Lord. They seek his direction in all things. There is not a decision of significance affecting the Church and its people that is made without prayerful consideration, going to the fount of all wisdom for direction. Follow the leadership of the Church. God will not let his work be led astray. Brethren, if we live worthy of his inspiration, there will never be doubt in our minds concerning the truth of this work and the great mission of this kingdom."
- President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Be Not Deceived,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, page 44
"Each of us has to face the matter–either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.
- President Gordon B. Hinckley. "Loyalty," April Conference, 2003.
"For us, to 'believe all things' means to believe the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as well as the words of the Latterday prophets. It means to successfully erase our doubts and reservations. It means that in making spiritual commitments, we are prepared to hold nothing back. It means we are ready to consecrate our lives to the work of the kingdom."
"The more we believe, the easier faith-based obedience becomes. Hence the value of 'believing all things.'"
"We are instructed to be like children, who are willing to be taught and then to act without first demanding full knowledge."
"Some members are constantly evaluating the gospel by the standards of the world. They may think, 'That is not how I think the Lord would want it done,' or, 'Based on my understanding of the scriptures, the Church position should have been . . .'”
"Some Church members may have reservations because of a physical appetite they are not quite willing to surrender."
"Other common reservations are flagged by words such as 'yes, but . . .' when scriptures or prophets are quoted. Or we may hear, 'I am not going to let the Church make my decisions for me...'”
"Obedience is a fundamental law of the gospel. It is not only the demonstration of our faith but also the foundation of our faith. But the philosophical standard of the world holds that unquestioning obedience equals blind obedience, and blind obedience is mindless obedience. This is simply not true. Unquestioning obedience to the Lord indicates that a person has developed faith and trust in Him to the point where he or she considers all inspired instruction – whether it be recorded scripture or the words of modern prophets – to be worthy of obedience."
"One day there will be answers to all our questions, and they will be based on divine fairness and love. The Lord will not hold people accountable for factors over which they have no control."
"Let us believe all things. Let us have unquestioning faith in all of the doctrines and truths of the restored gospel."
"Helps for Family Home Evening: 1. Blindfold one family member. Have a parent guide him or her through a set of obstacles. Compare this activity to the doctrines presented in this article."
- Elder Robert Oaks, Believe All Things," July 05 Ensign, page 30, http://lds.org/churchmagazines/7-2005-Ensign/Jul2005Ensign.pdf
"But no child in this Church should be left with uncertainty about his or her parents’ devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Restoration of His Church, and the reality of living prophets and apostles who, now as in earlier days, lead that Church according to “the will of the Lord, . . . the mind of the Lord, . . . the word of the Lord, . . . and the power of God unto salvation.” In such basic matters of faith, prophets do not apologize for requesting unity, indeed conformity, in the eloquent sense that the Prophet Joseph Smith used that latter word. In any case, as Elder Neal Maxwell once said to me in a hallway conversation, “There didn’t seem to be any problem with conformity the day the Red Sea opened.”
"What a classic example of the warning Elder Richard L. Evans once gave. Said he: “Sometimes some parents mistakenly feel that they can relax a little as to conduct and conformity or take perhaps a so called liberal view of basic and fundamental things–thinking that a little laxness or indulgence won’t matter–or they may fail to teach or to attend Church, or may voice critical views. Some parents . . . seem to feel that they can ease up a little on the fundamentals without affecting their family or their family’s future. But,” he observed, “if a parent goes a little off course, the children are likely to exceed the parent’s example.”
"To lead a child - or anyone else - even inadvertently, away from faithfulness, away from loyalty and bedrock belief simply because we want to be clever or independent is license no parent nor any other person has ever been given. In matters of religion a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart, and analytical deconstruction in the field of, say, literary fiction can be just plain old-fashioned destruction when transferred to families yearning for faith at home. And such a deviation from the true course can be deceptively slow and subtle in its impact. As one observer said, “[If you raise the temperature of my] bath water . . . only 1 degree every 10 minutes, how [will I] know when to scream?”
- Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, General Conference, Sunday April 6th 2003
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