THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 10
The "Opinion" topic was created to separate out recovery from opinions on posts made in Ex-Mormonism. A large selection of posts made by Ex-Mormons that do not fit in "Recovery". These are more considered "Soap Box" posts. While they may be opinions, they are still very important in the steps to recovering from Mormonism.
| The mormon RM who assaulted me and raped me didn't even get punished. He is a close relative of a well-known Apostle. He is still a "member in good standing," even though he has assaulted others and has spent time in jail.
It is a good ol' boys club, all right.
Fathers don't get ex-communicated for beatng their children, either.
We have a known child molester teaching children in my old ward Primary. I got photocopies of the records and newspaper article, and the bishop released him. Every time we got a new bishop, the pedophile was back in the Primary again. I left the cult almost 3 years ago, and he has been teaching again. He spanks children in his class, and physically forces a misbehaing child to sit on his lap during class, as punishment by humiliation. I feel sick, but women and children are under the thumb of the priesthood.
I suppose my children and I had an extremely bad time all those years we were in the mormon cult--without the protection of a priesthood-holding father.
Someone should get the names of every person in that court room who stood by the defendant, and put them through a court of love--or worse. The perp ADMITTED he did it, and his ward still sympathized with him.
There have been a lot of posts on this board about victims not being protected by the mormon church. I have always said that, especially in my own experiences, the mormon cult philosophy, the sexist teachings, and even the doctinal lies, enable, excuse, and even support abuse.
The bully priesthood leaders who barged into our house and dragged my boys out of their beds, the father who beat his son in front of the whole quorum, the creepy bishop's son who tried to molest my daughter in her sleep--they all got promoted! They are now a Stake President, a Mission President, and a RM who is Elder's Quorum President. Abuse is actually rewarded!
That poor, misunderstood bishop/rapist will emerge as a folk-hero, and an example of someone who will be "saved" through repentance, and through the love of his family and ward, bla-bla. The parents of those teen-agers will see his smug, sanctimonious face at the pulpit, telling his sad story to various Sacrament meetings. The victims--the victims will be blamed for wearing short skirts and having piercings.
I hate the cult.
How can they take up so much TV time talking about nothing?
- Not one of them has a degree in Theology.
- Not one of them has studied other religions.
- Not one has graduated from a real Seminary or Minister School.
- Not one has been educated in philosophy,
- Nor psychology,
- Nor history,
- Nor cultural anthropology,
- Nor the Bible.
- Not even a BS in Family Relations,
- Or child development,
- Or social work,
- Or counseling.
- None are English majors,
- Writers, or Communications graduates.
Why the Hell should I let them tell me what to do?
Why are we surprised that they are uninteresting?
Someone said this morning that these men have trained their whole lives to become great Mormon leaders. So,
What qualifies them to be Mormon General Authorities?
I can't believe I once listened to those unqualified buffoons, and paid attention to the lies they quoted, and heeded their bad advice. What a fool I was.
- Business expertise
- Reading the BOM, DandC, PoGP 20 times.
- Reading nothing else except Mormon writing.
- Repeating the same, repetitive, brainwashing drivel over and over.
- Learning to be a confident (not good) public speaker.
- Learning the Mospeak and the condescending tone.
- Praying, paying, obeying.
- Not being too outstanding or scholarly in the field of religion. Too much information is dangerous.
| Membership in their church (corporation)is very expensive.
The LDS Church is a huge corporation with a prophet (president=CEO) a PR dept and billions of dollars in other businesses for profit. It operates under the guise of the only true authority of Jesus Christ.
Membership in this church (business/corporation) has huge fees and requirements.
To be in good standing and not loose membership the member must:
Give total loyalty to the church (corporation) and it's management.
Pay 10%, at a minimum, of their income for life.
Participate in a monthly Fast ( no food and drink) for 24 hours once a month and donate the money to the church (corporation).
Wear the emblems of the company on their underwear day and night.
Attend all meetings.
This includes going to their temples and participating in oaths and covenants to pledge all of their time and everything they have to the corporation.
Participate in subsequent temple ordinances as proxy for the deceased in their program of postmortem conversions.
It also includes being married in the "New and Everlasting Covenant) which is plurality of wives. See Doctrine and Covenants 132.
Accept all requests for volunteer service. They are not to be turned down. They cannot be rescinded except with management approval.
Follow all of the rules and policies, which includes refraining from wearing attire that is not approved, refrain from eating and drinking foods and drink, drugs, etc. that are not allowed, going to movies or reading books that are not approved, pray in the accepted manner, etc.
Submit to invasive interviews about matters of belief and devotion/loyalty to the church (corporation) and being questioned on matters of a personal sexual nature, at a minimum. This includes interviewing children (male and female) from the age of 12 about beliefs and loyalty, including personal matters of a sexual matter. These interviews are conducted in a closed room with a male bishop with no parent present.
Should any crime of a sexual nature be committed, the victim is to see their local bishop. They are required to forgive the abuser.
Speaking out or against or disagreeing with any policy, or rule is grounds for loss of membership.
(edit-added) Women serve under the male priesthood authority. They have no redress.
Resignation does not remove one's name from the church (corporation) records, only on a local level.
Regardless of the beliefs of the LDS Church, the management of the corporation is sufficient reason for not participating and leaving the corporation/organization.
To do so, however, is extremely difficult. Most who choose to leave the church (corporation) have extreme difficulties as it is a long standing generational society that is the basis for the family and it's entire culture.
Managing damage control, maintaining any kind of positive familial relationships are often either not possible, or are difficult at best.
Many former members of the church (corporation) find themselves estranged from family, ostracized, lose careers, discredited, etc.
Fortunately, there is support for those wishing to leave the LDS Church (corporation). This board has been a continuous support for thousands of Mormons trying to leave.
I, for one, am very grateful for those that have gone before me; those that post on this site and others who are willing to donate their time, and volunteer to share their knowledge and experiences and expertise, and run this web site, to "pay it forward" (give back), helping those who come behind -- with no other reward than to be of service to their fellow human beings!
Can't beat that! :-)
| The LDS Church in Salt Lake City has been the most successful branch of Mormonism because it continued to evolve enough to stay out of trouble with the government and be politically correct enough to avoid long-term, high publicity protest.
The LDS Church fazed out polygamy a century ago and has successfully convinced the mainstream press they are not associated with the polygamous Mormon kooks. The Church in the late 1970's made church leadership available to all races of men. This got the civil rights groups off their case. The church has toned down it's message to women to forgo college. The new prophet Thomas S. Monson even said in a press conference that education was vastly important for men and women.
The problem with the church is it's now ran like a big corporation where Salt Lake makes all the decisions on everything. The local meeting house no longer is part of the local community. It's The Corporation's meetinghouse and not the ward meetinghouse. Bishops have been reduced to low end managers with no authority over the building or ward. Everything is run out of the handbook.
Ward funds are turned back to Salt Lake every December and ward fundraising it out. Long gone is the ward pulling together to problem solve or raise money. Members just pay to The Corporation with no thank you coming back.
I remember sitting on the edge of the fountain with my aging father. He was an old man with a cane. The big shot church security came out and told us to move on. My father made the point he had given the church over a million dollars over the years and the least it could do was let him rest on it's fountain. Move on was the answer.
The church has become impersonal. Long gone is the warm ward feeling. Add in a mobil society with unstable jobs and the system doesn't work. All the while the church has to continue to distance itself from Joseph Smith.
Changes have been made to the temple cerimony and the Book of Mormon but where the church is missing the boat is they need to get rid of the wards. They need to build mega church's that provide some services. Maybe a private grade school. Maybe a day care center. Lot's of fun activities and opportunities to do some real charity work.
The most successful group in organized religion in the US are the new mega church's. Both mom and dad work. They want a organization that helps them raise their kids well without interfering in their private lives. That's what people really want. The LDS church is missing this and the longer they do, the more members they will lose.
Come Back! Come back to what? More Prozac?
| The Texas fiasco has made me stop to think of all the areas where the Mormon shoe pinches. It is supposed to fit everyone, with no concern for size, style, or comfort. But it does not fit at all.
I always have to start with the temple as the first place Mormonism rubbed me the wrong way. I went in with great expectations. I did not think I would see Jesus, or some such thing, but I was pretty darned sure I was about to encounter some very enlightening stuff. What I found was that the temple is a tractor beam-- like the ones you see in science fiction movies. You are lured into the range of the beam, and it pulls you in, with no chance of escape.
You expect enlightenment, and what you get is gum on the bottom of your shoe promises---in a weird ceremony. You find you have promised all you own to the church. Your time has been promised. No-one gave you any warning. You just went along, blissfully thinking a true church would not operate a tractor beam. What you expected was hardly what you got. I never recovered from the shock.
Temple marriage is another shock. You hear about it all your life, and when you actually participate, you feel cheated----terribly cheated. This is not a wedding, its a cult ceremony. A bride should look lovely, and a groom should look like the little guy on the top of the wedding cake (you see him in real weddings). Not only do you look weird, the ceremony is short, ugly, and depressing. You don't even feel married. You are supposed to marvel at the symbolism of the wedding ring, and faint with ecstasy over the mirrors. Please. I was not even sure I could touch my wife when it ended. I did not feel married.
Since all people are wicked sinners, why does the Mormon church control the act of seeking forgiveness? The church places itself between you and God. You want to be forgiven, and you pray to God for a sense that your sins will be expunged. But the church is having none of it. You are supposed to confess to the Bishop. Why? Is it really any of his business? The object, of course, is to turn you into an example. For some sins, you are to be excommunicated and humiliated in front of the ward. Is this for you, or is it for control over the members? I suspect its the latter. The church has bullied you, and forced itself between you and God, or what you think God might be like. A kind, and loving God is not allowed. Mormonism replaced him. The Mormon God came from "The Miracle of Forgiveness," and it will, indeed, take a miracle to ever be forgiven.
Another thing that bothered me is the concept of God as a silent note taker.
From what I learned, you are constantly being watched, monitored, and followed. Every little act goes in "The Book of Life," which will be opened on the day of judgement.
Of course, we all store our pains and feelings and failings in our brain. Its all there, and you can't really forget it. Why do we need the "notetaker God" to make it worse? Hell, you know exactly what you have done wrong. If, in fact, there is a "day of judgement," you will do it to yourself. No-one forgets a dumb mistake.
The mission experience pinched me painfully too. I could not believe what I had done to myself.
I was so full of idealism, the "best two years of my life" were ahead of me. I would walk with the angels, and have my burdens lightened. I would obtain "the gift of tongues," and I would save so many souls.
What I got was a cheap, two-bit paramilitary outfit, which took away my dignity. They did not give a damn about me, or anyone else. It was a huge, self-serving machine, which ground people up, and used them to round up a few poor and pathetic new recruits for the Mormon mill.
I was not allowed to be sick, to think, to speak, to rest. It was a sad and abusive use of people who signed on as volunteers, and ended up being pawns. Any beauty and joy had to be found outside of the system. The system was ugly. I did not realize the "only true church," could have such little regard for its members. Man, these guys did not care about anyone. They followed some fanatical guidelines in the endless search to find more members. And the members never remained in the cult. All that trouble, all that pain, and the members slipped away like trout in a stream.
There was always much emphasis placed on revelation, and the fact that God speaks directly to his church. He does it, we are told, through a prophet. But later, we learn that there are several prophets, and when they speak as prophets, we are to listen. But no-one can tell you when they are speaking as prophets, and when they are speaking as men. If the church does not like what they say, they were speaking as men. If the church likes what they say, and it puts you on the spot, they were speaking as prophets. What good is a prophet if you can't figure out which mask he is wearing? And what good is a prophet if everything he says has to be backed by scripture? Go figure.
And, of course, the one that really hurts is the realization that no matter what you do, no matter what you suffer, no matter what you give---- is not enough. It is never enough. You must always feel terrible, because you have not done more. You must do much more. You do not really have a chance of getting to the "Celestial Kingdom." It is held out there like a cup of water in front of a man dying of thirst. But the man never gets it. The cup always gets moved back. But you keep trying and trying. And you get no encouragement at all. But its so very beautiful. No other church gives you such thirst.
| I’ve often said that the church has a twofold mission: growth and income. It’s really a big corporation disguised as a religion, and the disguise is so good that it has become a rather oppressive and reactionary religion. But I digress.
One of the most common responses I get from believers is, “If it’s big business, who’s getting rich from the church? Certainly not our leaders, who live off modest stipends. And it’s not the members at large (obviously).”
But I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. The church, as a corporation, is essentially a large wad of cash and assets controlled by a small and tightly interconnected oligarchy of friends and relatives. The church functions by spreading wealth and power among this small group and its allies.
Think, for example, of congressman and senators and how they operate. Very few of them are brazen enough to openly profit from their term in government (Lyndon Johnson being an obvious exception), but they spread the wealth around through “earmarks” for special projects, “favors” for friends and supporters, and other wealth-spreading maneuvers.
In the church, billions of dollars a year are spent on maintaining buildings, paying salaries, publishing materials, and massive construction projects (can you say “mall”?).
Let’s look, for example, at the underused yet enormous Conference Center. The reason it was constructed was simple: the old Tabernacle was too small to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend general conference. But was this really an issue? Broadcast capabilities had long ago made it easy for church members around the world to view conference live, thus making it unnecessary to have a meetinghouse at all for conference (notice that the new stake conference broadcasts originate in a small room, not a large chapel).
So, what was the purpose of the Conference Center? I’ve heard some cynics say it was a monument to Gordon Hinckley’s ego, but I don’t think so. The church spent $240 million on this project, and local firms Jacobsen, Layton, and Okland jointly bid on the project. Looking at the completed projects for Jacobsen and Okland, we see 39 temples, 7 Temple Square/COB projects, 7 BYU projects, and 4 BYU-Idaho projects. And of course, Okland (with Big-D Construction) got the $1.6 billion bid for the church’s City Creek Center project.
The church has connected firms, such as the legal firm of Kirton McConkie (yes, that McConkie), which handles its legal affairs. It uses local suppliers for all the materials it uses, from lightbulbs on Temple Square to the uniforms for the staff at the Lion House.
Now, I’m not suggesting that there is any overt corruption going on here (although David Knowlton has an article in Dialogue about endemic corruption in the church in Latin America). Bribery isn’t necessary; connection is. Otherwise, it makes no sense that a Utah construction firm would be chosen to do work in far-flung places like Tuxtla-Gutierrez, Mexico, and Washington, DC. Does anyone think that there are no local firms in either place that could have underbid Okland and still have done the job?
I’ve said before that the church consists of two kinds of people: the users and the used. Most members are the used. They believe in the church and its mission and give their all in money and time and labor to build the kingdom of God on the earth. The users, whether they believe or not, are the recipients of that dedication. And frankly, it’s the users who motivate the growth of the church.
The Hinckley-era construction explosion shows graphically that the church does not build based on members’ needs; otherwise, these temples dotting the land would actually be used by excited members. These temples were built to meet the needs of the connected.
And that’s how it works.
| This strange critter known as the “New Order Mormon” flat-out baffles me. Honestly, folks, my little pea-brain simply can’t do the math, especially when it tries to wrap itself around something like this:
“What is a New Order Mormon?
I’ll be the first to admit that something “does not have to be perfect in order to remain useful.” but shouldn’t that “something” be at least somewhere near the ball park?
New Order Mormons are those who no longer believe some (or much) of the dogma or doctrines of the LDS Church, but who want to maintain membership for cultural, social, or even spiritual reasons. New Order Mormons recognize both good and bad in the Church, and have determined that the Church does not have to be perfect in order to remain useful. New Order Mormons seek the middle way to be Mormon.”
It has been noted many times on this board that what little “good” tscc may offer is not solely indigenous to tscc and can easily be extracted from any number of more legitimate sources. Still, there are some semi-exmos who contend that tscc provides a safe and sound environment for raising kids, so let’s take a look at the outstanding benefits children derive from the wonderful teachings of and examples set by this religious cult.
Now, if you haven’t started tripping-out your kids already, don’t be alarmed. When a New Order Mormon’s child reaches the ripe old age of eight, just like the kids of regular Mormons, that child becomes totally responsible for his or her every action before God, thus perpetuating or, at the very least, initiating a useless and unnecessary “guilt complex” that will probably haunt the child for the rest of his or her natural life. And if that isn’t enough good news, you’ll also be pleased to know that your child will be constantly reminded by “spiritual authority” of the disastrous and everlasting consequences that will result from him or her making even the slightest mistake!
Hot-damn, its a thing of beauty and it just gets better and better!
When your man-child reaches the age of twelve, for example, he’ll receive a powerless “power” called “The Priesthood” which will enable him to
. well, to not do much of anything except maybe feel a false sense of superiority when he’s around non-mormons that won’t last very long. Such acquired social skills will no-doubt prove useful as your man-child struggles toward perfection throughout his adolescence while fighting the urge to masturbate or commit other such grievous sins on his way to serve a mission for the lord that will bring outsiders into “The Fold” which you know is based on a pack of lies.
Is this starting to get exciting or what?
Meanwhile, your woman-child will be constantly reminded by “spiritual authority” that she’s a no-count piece of s**t who serves no other purposes than to “please” her powerless priesthood holding Man/God and to feed and clothe the resultant aftermath of each such session. She, too, will struggle toward perfection throughout adolescence while fighting the urge to masturbate or commit other such grievous sins on her way to getting “sealed” to the first RM who says “Yes!” so she can begin cranking out babies that don’t actually “glorify” her powerless priesthood holding Man/God hubby, but do place an added strain on an already over-populated planet. Of course, you, the NOM parent, already know this, but won’t bother saying anything cause the bishop or some other TBM might get upset!
Man, can you feel the love?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, kids! ... Now lets take a look at the “good” or “useful” aspects of tscc.
. Well, the WoW is pretty much a joke except for that tobacco thing, but I can find the same warning on any pack of cigarettes so that ain’t nothing to be gloating over. Hell, anyone who has ever smoked will tell you its bad for you!
That’s all I can think of!
Oh, and just so you know, those “strong work ethic” and “clean living” things are just as mythical as Joseph’s story and his book. Mormonism doesn’t own exclusive rights to any of that stuff. As a matter of fact, I’d say cleaning toilets for free and what-not promotes mediocrity at best.
Anyway, outside of guessing some folks aren’t being completely honest with themselves, I don’t get it. Polygamy aside, the LDS and FLDS are pretty much the same in that both organizations induce fear to get folks to fork over hard earned cash, yet the NOM paints the FLDS as dangerous renegades while viewing the LDS as not exactly “perfect” but still “useful.”
Its interesting to note that the FLDS was built upon the lies and deception originally conceived and promoted by the LDS. When push came to shove, however, the LDS ran like a dog with its tail tucked, then changed or covered-up the foul stench of what it left behind while the FLDS stayed true to the teachings of Joe and Briggy who your kids will undoubtedly come to love and adore as much as any regular Mormon!
I don’t know, call me old school, but I can’t remember a time when folks thought it perfectly natural to raise their kids in a cult.
| This is the strange part: if they dont't know something right out of their own documented history, they claim it's a lie instigated by Satan! They don't even bother to look it up.
Some things I have noticed that most Mormons don't know. I didn't know all of this either as a member. I know more about Mormonism now as a former member, than I did as a member! I learn something new everyday.
Most Mormons don't know that Joseph Smith Jr. had many wives, or that these were not just "spiritual" arrangements. They never heard of: "In Sacred Loneliness the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith" by Todd Compton, a member in good standign.
They don't know that the words: "plurality of wives" is in the DandC or which number (132).
They don't know that there are many versions of the "first version" that were taught and published many years after the church was organized.
They don't know that the BOM was not taught by Joseph Smith Jr in the beginning.
They don't know that the temple sealing covenant is found in DandC 132, "The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage" which is plurality of wives.
They don't know what is actually in the Word of Wisdom (DandC 87).
They don't know the origin of the temple garment or why it was used initially - for polygamy -- plurality of wives.
They don't know the temple rituals/ordinances have changed many times.
They don't know what happened to the "golden plates" .
What else don't most Mormons know about their own religion and it's history?
| The late LDS historian Davis Bitton has always been a bit of an enigma to me. Obviously intelligent and knowledgeable, he sometimes came up with really bizarre stuff that had me scratching my head. My friend Mina pointed out a particularly strange piece in Meridian Magazine (where of course it would be right at home): Welcome to Church, Brother Niccolo.
In this article, Bitton attempts to show that, despite Machiavelli's reputation as a living "symbol of cruelty and cynicism," he shared some common beliefs and values with the LDS church. I know what you're thinking: This ought to be good.
Bitton tells us that Machiavelli's ideas dovetail with the church in the following areas:
Let's take a look at these in order. As any good Mormon knows, the Catholic church has always been corrupt to one degree or another. Machiavelli denounced the corruption he saw in the dominant religion: "What he saw in practice, exemplified especially by Pope Julius II, was the supposed head of Christendom corrupted by wealth, heavily involved in Italy’s power politics, and willing to use force, even to lead troops in the field. If this was Christianity, Machiavelli was not impressed." One wonders if Bitton has read any LDS history at all: what else is Mormonism than a religion "corrupted by wealth, heavily involved in [Utah's] power politics, and willing to use force" (hello? The Battle of Crooked River? Zion's Camp?)? This next sentence is particularly ironic: "Power and gain and priestcraft – those marks of a fatally flawed religion, denounced by the prophets – were dominant in the church." Does Bitton really think that Machiavelli would have found the modern Mormon church any different?
- His disdain for the corrupt church of his day
- His understanding of the depravity of "the natural man"
- His view on the importance of "agency"
Next, we learn that Machiavelli had a rather dim view of human nature. Machiavelli said that humans by nature were "bad" and so a realist would recognize that "his actions should be governed by the realities of the situation – moral or immoral, as the case required." Once again Bitton seems to have forgotten about Joseph Smith's idea that there is nothing that is absolutely immoral: "Whatever God commands is right, whatever it is." Thus Joseph Smith could lie to his followers and to his wife about his sexual activities, church leaders could publicly renounce polygamy but secretly continue the practice for at least another 14 years, and church leaders could lie to the police during the Hofmann affair; they acted immorally "as the case required." At least Machiavelli recognizes that morality exists; Mormonism teaches that the only morality is in obedience.
Finally, Bitton finds latent Mormonism in Machiavelli's view of agency. "Machiavelli did not see life as totally determined, mechanistically predictable." Of course, not all that many people in history have seen life as predetermined; but, like Machiavelli, most people recognize the importance of sheer luck, or "fortune," as Machiavelli puts it. Some things are beyond our control, but "You do what you can. You try to protect yourself. Then you deal with circumstances as they come. Brigham Young said about the same thing." Yes, he did, along with thousands of other people. But if you think about it, Mormonism is in a way rather deterministic. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things" (59:21). Thus, when something good happens, it was God's blessing; if something bad happens, God must be trying to teach us something.
Bitton then goes off on a tangent about political checks and balances, which is again ironic since there are no such checks or balances in Mormonism.
He signs off with this paragraph:
"But let’s face it, some of his views do not comport readily with gospel understandings. I can’t really think it quite right for a ruler to pretend to be religious. The important thing, said our Florentine, is that he seems to be virtuous and seems to be religious. Although we can well believe that some political consultants think along these same lines, Latter-day Saints cannot subscribe to such manipulation and deception."
Let's see: a leader who pretends to be religious, but who in fact is manipulative and deceptive. I can't think of anyone in Mormonism like that, can you?
| Instead of making a "factual" case against the BOM with DNA, archaeology, etc., how about a moral case?
Begin by assuming the veracity of the BOM for the sake of argument. Here's why I use this approach: Factual arguments introduce evidence into the conversation that is not "accepted" by Mormons. Facts that do not carry the LDS-inspected Seal of Approval are instantly judged as suspicious by any Mormon.
What many ExMos do not realize is that a devastating case against Mormonism can be built using only the "Standard Works" of the church.
My "favorite" is the divine violence in 3 Nephi 9, 1-13. God destroys 16 entire cities before Christ's alleged visit in N. America. This is a too-often-ignored starting point for talking about the true nature of Mormonism's God. These verses, among others, raise some extremely uncomfortable questions for Mormons, most of whom want to be seen as loving, kind, and mainstream. Opening a conversation about these verses is like opening a dark closet that Mormons prefer to keep shut.
When the topic comes up, here are some examples of questions I ask, listed here in no particular order:
Why do you choose to worship such a terrifying, violent God? This is a being who slaughters his own sons and daughters. I find it a little alarming that this violence does not bother you. Although the Book of Mormon dismisses the victims of God's violence as "wicked", they still are, in fact, his children. Whatever "divine worth" they may be alleged to possess seems very minimal indeed given passages like this. All of which begs the question: You can worship what you want, but why would you want me to worship a being who kills his own offspring by the thousands when he gets angry?
Should you one day become a God - as your religion teaches you may, will you then kill your children in anger too? Is this your idea of "perfection" and godly wisdom?
Is it better for God to kill his children using earthquakes and floods, or to strangle his children with his bare hands? If the thought of God killing his children individually with his bare hands makes you flinch, why does the story of him using earthquakes and floods seem OK? What, please tell, is the difference? Are earthquakes and floods just "more efficient"? What does this kind of cold efficiency say about the probability of any kind of "personal relationship" with this god?
If "Charity Never Faileth", then why does your god resort to violence over and over again? Seems to me that with your god, charity - or pure love, fails in spades. If charity truly never failed, we would never see violence coming from the heavens. Truth seems to be that, when charity fails for Mormonism's god, violence usually works.
Since God destroyed whole cities, certainly small children were killed too. This means that God shed "innocent blood" through his own violence. The shedding of innocent blood is a sin described as "unpardonable" in Mormon doctrine. If God has sinned against the Holy Ghost, then he has ceased to be God, and can no longer exist as God. Since God has "offended these little ones" by drowning, crushing, burning and burying them alive, as described in these verses, would it be better for your god if a millstone were placed around his neck, then tossed in the sea, as Jesus counseled?
If Mormons say that the "wicked" destroyed by God in 3 Nephi 9 brought their own deaths upon themselves, how does this square with Christ's pleadings on behalf of his own executioners in Jerusalem: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."? Why were Christ's executioners granted such mercy, and the small children - not to mention the adults - in the 16 cities in the BOM slaughtered en masse?
What does God blaming his children for his own violence say about God setting an example for being accountable for one's own actions? It is Mormonism's God who chose to kill probably tens of thousands of people, and yet, he blames those he killed for his actions. Is this the model for personal responsibility to which you would have me subscribe?
Has God ever repented for these killings? Does Christ's atonement cover God's murders of his children? Can God atone for the suffering he himself inflicted on his children?
If this is the kind of being you worship, then certainly you want to follow his example and model your own life after his. Under what circumstances would you kill your own children? Would you feel the spirit while you did it?
When it boils right down to it, the best reason to repent and follow the Mormon god is that if you don't, he will kill you. Mormonism, in the big picture, is an institutionalizd threat against individual security, offering "protection" against the threat in exchange for obedience: "Repent and follow me, or be destroyed."
Unbelievably enough, Mormons call this "free agency".
| I'm sure this has been covered before, but I was reminded of it today and thought that newbies here would benefit by reading these things.
Our temple recommend interviews include the question "are you honest in all of your dealings?" It seems that honesty doesn't count in some cases, and that sweeping truth under a rug, even if "for a season", is the new defintion of honesty for not only church members but church leaders.
Let's reflect upon just a few of the words of the leaders [all emphasis is mine]:
"My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. EVERYTHING may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the REPUTATION of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors."
- Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction p. xliii
What Dallin is saying here is that even if we find historical facts directly in the church's own history that make the brethren or their testimonies look bad, or cast a bad light on Joseph Smith [even if it’s all true!], then we have to try to limit its influence. Another “gross error”, in my opinion.
And here's one of the most popular quotes amongst those who have discovered that mormonism is a lie:
This is Boyd K. Packer when he talks about sharing “all” of the truth:
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of CHURCH HISTORY to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. SOME THNGS THAT ARE TRUE ARE NOT VERY USEFUL. That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith – particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith – places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. ... Do not spread disease germs!" - Boyd K. Packer, "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect", 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271
I would ask, how is telling TRUTH “spreading disease germs” or “not very useful”? Why would one want to repent for telling the truth [and worse yet, be told by a 'prophet, seer and revelator' to keep our mouths shut about truth if it doesn't support the way the church is run right now]? Does not the temple recommend interview specifically ask us if we "are honest in all our dealings”? It seems to me that these statements also strongly contradict the admonishings of prophets [past and present] which clearly state that the church bears careful investigation and so does its leaders.
Russell M. Nelson said, "To anyone who, because of TRUTH [?], may be tempted to become a dissenter against the Lord and his anointed, weigh carefully your action in light of this sacred scripture: (he then quotes Alma 47:36). [see - Russell M. Nelson, “Truth–and More,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, page 69 for the full talk].
I submit that if the church, which claims its foundation is based on truth, SHOULD have its members become concerned and speak out if they find falsehoods in the very religion that claims it is the “one and only true church”; that we are to be “honest in all our dealings”; that “the Lord’s anointed will NEVER fail or lead us astray”; and that we are to investigate our religion thoroughly. Elder Nelson’s comments are contradictory, dishonest, and shameful.
Here’s another from Dallin: He published an article for the February 1987 Ensign Magazine. Again, Dallin declared that there is no place in the church for public criticism of church leaders, even if the criticism is true. He also said:
"Truth surely exists as an absolute, but our USE of truth should be disciplined by other values. ... When truth is constrained by other virtues, the outcome is not falsehood but silence for a season. As the scriptures say, there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
-Dallin H. Oaks, "Reading Church History," CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25. also see Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Decries Criticism of LDS Leaders," quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B
This is what is more correctly termed “Lying by omission, or more strongly called “lying for the Lord”. It could also be regarded as lying to save face, and telling the truth later when it’s more convenient. The scripture he quoted does not say “There is a time to tell the truth and a time to lie [by omission, or for the Lord...ha]”.
I submit that truth is NEVER constrained by other virtues. Otherwise, members shouldn’t be constantly saying, “I know this church is true, I know the prophet is true, I know the scriptures are true, etc.”
| Occasionally people make the suggestion that even if we don’t believe the church is “true”, we should still be able to stay in the church for the good parts, and ignore the bad that despite its problems, the church “works” for some people. I think that is worth examining.
The mormon church does offer a social network, and teaches basic common sense things like honesty, hard work, etc. I honestly can't think of anything good about the mormon church that can't be found elsewhere, at less of a cost, but for the sake of argument let’s agree that there is good in the mormon church.
The question becomes, what do we have to ignore in order to receive the “benefits”?
Racism. There is no denying that the mormon church has been a racist organization throughout most of its history, and arguably still is.
When I was a young aaronic priesthood holder, there was a young man from Brazil living with a family in our ward. He had been raised in the church and attended priesthood meeting, but he never had a turn in the presidency. He would sit on the front row with the rest of us during sacrament meeting, but would be left to sit awkwardly alone while the rest of us passed the sacrament. He even went on temple trips with the rest of us, sitting outside with one of the adults while the rest of us did baptisms.
I can’t imagine how he must have felt.
Until relatively recently the church considered millions of people, including diligent, faithful members, unworthy to hold its priesthood, which it routinely gave to 12 year old white boys, simply because of their race. I cannot ignore that.
Yes, the policy has changed, but I don’t believe a single leader has ever said the policy was a mistake, or apologized to the millions of people, including my friend from Brazil, who it slapped in the face all those years. GBH could have boldly stated on national TV, “We were wrong. It was a terrible mistake. We apologize unequivocally.” Instead he dismissed it as an insignificant “fleck of history.” I cannot ignore that.
Sexism. Even now women and girls are not allowed to hold the mormon priesthood, or serve in positions of leadership other than in auxiliary organizations under male supervision. Mormon males are taught that they are the leaders, and that females should follow them. I cannot ignore that.
Look at a group picture of the church leadership. Do they represent all of the inhabitants of the Earth? I cannot ignore that.
I cannot ignore that in the mormon church untrained men are encouraged to interrogate young children about their sexuality. I cannot ignore that many young peoples’ lives have been destroyed because of the church’s teachings about homosexuality. I cannot ignore that church leaders travel in first class luxury while bragging that members are donating the gold fillings from their teeth to the church, because that is all they have left to give.
I cannot understand how people are able to “just ignore” the racist, sexist, destructive aspects of the mormon church.
There are many wonderful sources of good in the world. You shouldn’t have to hold your nose.
| Today was a regretful day in my life; I went to church to see my parents speak today for Mother's Day. Attending church wasn't the regret though. The regret is that I had to give up NBA playoff tickets to...err....go to church. Giving up the tickets is a long story that isn't too important to go into. All I ask is that you accept that that's just the way it was.
Anyway, since I wasn't going to the game, I thought I'd just have to quit fuming and accept that I'm at where I'm at and just make the best of it.
To deal with my current situation, I began to observe the actions, behaviors, and mannerisms of the people in Sacrament meeting. I have a slight fascination of observing people's behavior and actions in various places and church is one of my favorite places to observe people, so this was the best I could come up with.
I couldn't help but notice that a good number of the attendees in Sacrament meeting looked, how you say, somewhat depressed. It was this solemnity look on their faces that made me wonder "Why do people willingly come to church?" I'm sure it varies person to person, but whatever the reason, is your reason to attend church more important than your enjoyment? I for one happen to be one who likes to maximize their enjoyment as much as possible. I don't know if I'm the oddity or if that's normal.
As I sat there listening to the various prayers, the talks finally came. Oh good!! I can't wait to hear the "golden" bits of wisdom the Mormon members have. The talks were on...you'll never guess....MOTHERS!! It seemed like all the talks placed mothers/women on this predetermined path (i.e. have kids and raise them). Saying that motherhood is the highest calling a woman can engage in. Ehh?
While being a parent can be rewarding, so I hear, to say that Big Sky Daddy views motherhood as the "noblest" calling, is absurd, in my opinion. I don't like the idea that this type of choice is chosen above all choices a woman can make. It seems like it puts women in a rock and a hard place by emphasizing that the most important being (God) prefers women to be a certain way. And what gets me on that, is that members of the Church are taught to make choices that please God. So what's a faithful Mormon to do?
As much as I wanted to take something from this meeting that had some value from what a speaker said, I couldn't. One, it was real hard to focus when I couldn't stop thinking about those golden tickets (these tickets were way better than the golden ticket from Willy Wonka). And two, every time I heard something that was meant to be uplifting, I couldn't help but go right back to my crossword puzzle. Wow, the crossword puzzle was more enjoyable by comparison. How sad is that?
I realized I dislike the way the Mormon church dictates choices (the limited amount that they approve of) to the women in the church. It seems like it creates stagnant thinking on the women's part by way of dictating what only choices are acceptable to God (whenever a Mormon says "god", you can replace that with "the Mormon church" and it means the exact same thing).
In Mormondom you're given choice A and anything other than choice A is an abomination in God's sight. How can you expand your horizons when your choices are so limited? Thinking anything other than what Sky Daddy wants is treacherous territory. Seems hard to further your thoughts if the Mormon way is the way.
Maybe I'm too much of heathen to get anything out of church anymore. Besides, I must be past all feeling (they must mean 'feeling stupid') for me to not realize that Sacrament meeting is filled with the Spirit. And if the Spirit is everywhere in the building, then the Mormon church must be legit. How could I have been so blind?
On a side note: A friend and I were discussing the humor in someone going down to the Gateway mall in SLC and dress in what is perceived to be old-school prophet attire and preach that people don't have to accept the Gateway mall as their mall. But there is a better and bigger mall. And begin to tell of the "sinful" ways of the Gateway and how the new Downtown mall is the answer.
If someone does this, please let me know. I don't have it in me to keep a straight face while preaching. So, if someone can pull it off and wants to, I'd love to see this.
| NPR's Talk of the Nation a recently had an interesting interview with Wendy Berry Mendes, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard(go here to listen: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...). She and her colleagues just published their research (in the journal "Emotion") about self-serving exaggeration. They claim that the physiological response of exaggeration (in certain cases, like giving your GPA a dishonest boost in an interview) is very different than the physiological response of outright lying. In fact, exaggerating can sometimes be self-serving in that you are forced to live up to what you have said (Mendes compared it to goal-setting).
NY Times also did a piece on this study:
They call these little exaggerations, "future-truths."
As I was listening, I recalled BKP's infamous, "A testimony is found in the bearing of it" ("The Candle of the Lord," Ensign, Jan 1983; or http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgn...) and couldn't help but make a connection.
So basically, the Mormons figured out this self-brainwash technique decades ago. You see, it's not an outright lie, so you don't have to feel guilty for saying it. Yet, since you said it, you're obligated to FORCE it to come true or look like a liar.
It's scary that you can tell a lie and convince yourself it's not a lie. Consider this from the NY Times article: "The researchers videotaped the interviews, and independent observers rated how students looked and behaved. 'The ones who exaggerated the most appeared the most calm and confident' on the ratings, Dr. Mendes said."
I'm picturing Oaks' creepy smirk as he calmly states, "it’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true" (see his rationalization here: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v..., where he also states, "not everything that’s true is useful.")
If you ever wondered how the GA's can stand at every conference and be so convincing (to members) about their status as "Special Witnesses," consider this (again from NY Times):
"...fibs can reflect something close to the opposite of the frustration, insecurity and secretiveness that often fuel big lies. That may be why they can come so easily, add up so fast and for some people – especially around closing time – become indistinguishable from the truth."
| But, it's not your problem, really.
Joseph Smith's lies regarding the practice of polygamy? They were justified or they can be otherwise rationalized away.
Book of Abraham? Missing scroll.
Indians as the progenitors of Amerindians? LGT: we never expect to find conclusive DNA evidence of them; they only occupied a very small region and soon interbred into the equivalent of genetic extinction. Lamanites are among the ancestors.
JS's belief in HGT? Evidence that he was only a translator.
Polygamy? An angel commanded it, or else.
Marrying other men's wives? Dynastic.
Kirtland Bank? Someone embezzled money and ruined the "bank."
Zelph? No proof JS ever actually believed this.
Kinderhook plates? JS never really attempted a translation.
Joseph Smith Translation? We don't use it.
Brigham Young and the Danites? Just talk.
Masonry in the Temple ceremony? Restoration.
BoM copyright to be sold in Canada? Some revelations are from the Devil.
Multiple First Vision accounts? They can be harmonized.
Wheeled vehicles? Toys.
North-south? Skew it.
No, I don't want to hear encouraging lectures from ex-Mo atheists about how I should abandon my Christian faith and join the "real" world.
But, as an outsider to Mormonism who has observed the LDS penchant for rationalizing away inconvenient facts in order to retain a testimony of Mormonism's truthfulness, I've got to say that Mormonism--insofar as it is believed by its well-intentioned adherents--is detrimental to belief in the supernatural.
If Mormons can be so manifestly, yet sincerely, wrong (IMO), what hope do other believers in the supernatural have?
And, no, this really isn't intended as a salvo against my (relative few) LDS friends--here, there, and elsewhere.
It's just an issue I'm attempting to deal with as it relates to my own faith tradition.
| One of the most distinguished neuroscientists of the 20th Century was the Canadian Wilder Penfield (1891-1976). Among other things, Penfield is credited for establishing the first neural map of the sensory and motor cortices of the human brain, identifying parts of the brain that are associated with certain mental and motor events. While performing multiple brain surgeries using local anesthesia, Penfield stimulated specific brain regions with an electrode while asking his patients what they felt and observing their behavior. Using this information, he then created a map of the brain indicating in general what parts of the brain controlled what parts of the body. In 1951 he and his colleague, Herbert Jasper, published a landmark work in neuroscience, called Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain. Penfield’s map is still used and discussed by neuroscientists today. During his lifetime, according to Wikipedia.org, Penfield was called “the greatest living Canadian.” You literally cannot pick up abook on neuroscience without finding his name mentioned with great esteem.
Throughout his life, and studies as a neuroscientist, Penfield was preoccupied with the question of whether there was a scientific basis for the existence of the soul. In 1975, just a year before his death, Penfield published his book, The Mystery of the Mind. Here Penfield discusses his view of the so-called mind-body problem, and particularly his dualistic view of the mind. (Basically the idea that the mind is in some sense independent of the body) His view is interesting and important–especially for those who are inclined to summarily dismiss dualism or the idea of the soul simply because such beliefs are contrary to the now popular intellectual culture that often finds such views preposterous–often for anti-religion reasons, rather than well thought out argument. So what did Penfield have to say about dualism and the idea of the soul? And is it relevant today? After acknowledging the obvious correlates between brain and mind, Penfield states:
“Inasmuch as the brain is a place for newly acquired automatic mechanisms, it is a computer. To be useful, any computer must be programmed and operated by an external agent. Suppose an individual decides to turn his attention to a certain matter. This decision, I suppose, is an act on the part of the mind.”
So far, the above comments are quite intuitive. The fact that the mind can initiate brain activity to determine what enters into the stream of consciousness seems obvious, and is denied by only the most desperate of materialists. It is simply a fact that I can choose to look to my right or left, quite randomly, and affect thereby my stream of consciousness, i.e. my phenomenal experience. Now, here is the rub. Penfield then states:
“If decisions as to the target of conscious attention are made by the mind, then the mind it is that directs the programming of all the mechanisms within the brain. A man’s mind, one might say, is the person. He walks about the world, depending always upon his private computer, which he programs continuously to suit his ever-changing purposes and interest.”
Now we should state that Penfield clearly overstates his point when he claims that the mind “directs the programming of all the mechanisms within the brain.” As I’m sure Penfield was well aware, most of the mechanisms in the brain are performed quite unconsciously, without the need of the conscious mind. But the point is not lost. If the mind controls and directs any brain activities, the mind is in some sense independent of the brain. This is the basis for Penfield’s dualism. When challenged, Penfield clarified his position as follows:
“As a matter of fact all through my experimental and exploratory career, I adopted the assumption that you [directed to a colleague, Sir Charles Symonds] accept: ‘that activities of the highest centers [in the brain] and of mental states are one and the same thing.’ That is the correct scientific approach for a neurophysiologist: to try to prove that the brain explains the mind and that mind is no more than a function of the brain. But during this time of analysis, I found no suggestion of action by a brain-mechanism that accounts for mind-action. That is in spite of the fact that there is a highest brain-mechanism and that is seems to awaken the mind, as though it gave it energy, and seems itself to be used in turn by the mind as ‘messenger.’ Since I cannot explain the mind on the basis of your ‘assumption,’ I conclude that one must consider a second hypothesis” that man’s being is to be explained by two fundamental elements.” [i.e. matter and mind]
Now, lets take an even closer look at what Penfield is saying. First he does what nearly all neuroscientists do, compare the brain to a computer. The standard explanation it that the brain computes information received from the senses, which results in conscious experience [somehow] and appropriate [or inappropriate] behavior, with a lot of processing going on in the middle, all explainable, at least in principle, by the operation of neurons, circuits, and systems in the brain. These micro and macro aspects of brain processing are shaped by both genetic factors and the environment. Consciousness, and mentality itself are merely “properties” of the brain that emerged [somehow] through ordinary, evolutionary processes, presumably involving natural selection. This is the standard line, with some variation as to the details.
What Penfield reminded us of is that the brain is nothing more than hardware. This means there is no “representation” in the brain absent an interpreter, i.e. mind. The brain does not “see,” smell, or “hear” anything. Language has no meaning to the brain. Moreover, nothing in the brain “represents” the world. It is only a “computer” with causes and effects. To make a computer meaningful, there must be a programmer who controls the input, and an interpreter, who assesses and provides meaning to the output. Without these participants, the computer is completely meaningless and non-functional. The same is exactly true of the brain. Without the mind to interpret, the brain is simply a hunk of gray matter, interacting with other body parts and the evironment only by cause and effect.
Now here is the hard part. Materialist neuroscientists and neuro-philosophers know all of the above. They realize that they not only must tie the brain to mind through correlations, they must insist that the brain magically “creates” the mind, including the individual self. It is as if you could take a computer, and add a high degree of complexity, and presto a conscious mind would emerge. (It is amusing to say the least that such people often accuse dualists of “magical thinking.”) Note, however, that no one has the slightest clue either how this happened, or how it is even possible. Neuroscientists and others have no idea what the mind is or how it emerges. They can only produce unfounded speculations, affirming that it must have happened in some natural way, without satisfactorily addressing the profound philosophical difficulties entailed by taking mind seriously.
It is exactly the above puzzle that led the astute philosopher Daniel Dennett, and others, to simply deny that the mental exists. The problem is that there is no coherent account of the mind, one that takes the mind seriously, that does not entail some form of dualism. Since, according to Dennett dualism is obviously false, we therefore must think of mind in a different way–i.e. that it is an illusion. Many philosophers have chided Dennett for such a ludicrous proposition, but they have not been able to appreciate that this conclusion was inevitable if one insisted upon a rejection of dualism.
In any event, Penfield’s acknowledgement of dualism, at a time when it was already very much intellectually out of favor, was quite brave. And it should be remembered that his dualism was based upon years of experience as a neuroscientist. He simply could not find a brain mechanism that accounted for the obvious fact that the mind often controls the brain, rather than the brain always controlling the mind.
Of course, dualism, and taking the mind seriously, does not necessarily imply the existence of the soul, but it does lay the groundwork for such belief. Moreover, it suggests that phenomena like near death experiences and past life reports perhaps ought to be taken seriously. Certainly, when someone suggests on neurological grounds that dualism and related mental phenomena are intellectual fantasies, akin to “young earth” science, it should be questioned whether they have done their homework, or if they are just echoing the rhetoric of misinformed intellectual friends with fancy resumes.
| I'd include a shameless link to this article on my site, but the admins have strictly forbidden it. And they won't add my site as a link or to their blog list. ::sigh::
Good thing I don't write these for the admins. But I love them anyway.
Why Can't LDS Mormon Missionaries Swim?
Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not A Drop
...to swim in. For LDS Mormon Missionaries, anyway. It's true - the rule for LDS Mormon missionaries is that they should not swim. Those who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with those who don't know much about their own LDS Mormon beliefs, often raise this question. Why can't the LDS Mormon missionaries swim during their missions?
It's a peculiar mandate that these young missionaries must follow. Let's explore for a moment an odd but interesting belief that LDS Mormons have concerning water.
Satan Controls The Waters
But Does He Like To Wakeboard?
How else can we explain that the devil 'ride[s] upon the face of the waters' according to Mormonism?
Believe it or not, Mormons have embraced a peculiar belief that Satan himself, the devilish little fellow that he is, happens to control the waters of the Earth. And this because someone claims to have seen him riding 'upon the face of the waters' almost 180 years ago.
It's logical to ask the question; 'How is it, that God Himself, allows Satan to control the waters?'
Well, it isn't that the Mormon God 'lets' Satan control the waters. He (Mormon God) actually 'wants' him to. Yup, according to the Mormon God, it's time in these 'latter' days that Satan controls the waters for a bit.
Why? Well, the Mormon God is always angry about something. He sent Joseph Smith a revelation about Satan controlling water. This time he was so angry he 'decreed' many destructions upon the waters - especially the Missouri river. Seems he's just too angry not to do it.
Yup, Mormon God recognized that he had blessed the waters in the beginning, but that because of a 'curse' that John supposedly put on the waters in Revelations (dust off the ol' bible and turn to Rev. 8:10), it was time to give them a good cursing.
So, Mormon God cursed them good. No 'flesh' will be safe on the water, according to Mormon God's plans. In fact, folks won't be able to travel to 'Zion' via water unless they're good faithful Mormons. Except, Mormon God had everyone abandon that specific version of Zion, so why would anyone want to travel there now? Oh, maybe they abandoned Zion on purpose so that folks wouldn't get killed traveling by water?
But then the whole revelation wouldn't make any sense now would it?
Yeah, so Mormon God goes on to declare that EVERYONE should be aware that the Missouri river is definitely not good for travel. Especially if they don't believe in Mormonism. Could mean bad news on the river.
Then Mormon God decrees that Satan rides the waters - perhaps wakeboarding, waverunning, or surfing - we're not completely sure, as the revelation doesn't make it clear how this is accomplished, we just know that Mormon God said so. Satan rides the waters. Well, he says 'the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof'. That's about as clear as it gets. I'm voting for the wakeboarding route.
Here it is, spelled out in the Mormon's special scriptures - the Doctrine and Covenants section 61:
4 ...there are many dangers upon the waters, and more especially hereafter;
5 For I, the Lord, have decreed in mine anger many destructions upon the waters; yea, and especially upon these waters.
6 Nevertheless, all flesh is in mine hand, and he that is faithful among you shall not perish by the waters.
In these few little scriptures, we learn that not only is the Mormon God still in need of some well-deserved anger management, but his anger has gotten the best of him. He's so angry that he has decided to 'decree' many destructions upon the waters, especially 'these waters' (which specifically refer to the Missouri river, but we'll get to that in a bit). Let's chew on these next few verses.
14 Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters. [Remember, Revelations 8:10]
15 Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters. [Hasn't happened yet, though]
16 And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart. [Zion's not there any more, so
no worries. And to my knowledge it hasn't 'shall be said' yet.]
17 And, as I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my saints, that they may partake the fatness thereof.
18 And now I give unto you a commandment that what I say unto one I say unto all, that you shall forewarn your brethren concerning these waters, that they come not in journeying upon them, lest their faith fail and they are caught in snares;
19 I, the Lord, have decreed, and the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof, and I revoke not the decree.
20 I, the Lord, was angry with you yesterday, but today mine anger is turned away. [Serious anger issues here]
Lots of anger issues for Mormon God, but that's for a different article. What's important is that we've just read the principle reason that LDS Mormons embrace the belief that Satan controls the waters.
So, Missionaries Don't Swim Because...
Well, Let's Explore Some LDS History
Joseph Smith received this 'revelation' after some interesting things had transpired. Joe writes in his diary, August 11, 1831:
'On the 9th, in company with ten Elders, I left Independence landing for Kirtland. We started down the river in canoes, and went the first day as far as Fort Osage, where we had an excellent wild turkey for supper. Nothing very important occurred till the third day, when many of the dangers so common upon the western waters, manifested themselves; and after we had encamped upon the bank of the river, at McIlwaine’s Bend, Brother Phelps, in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision.'
'The next morning after prayer, I received the following: [DandC 61].' (History of the Church, 1:2023.)
So, Satan was 'riding' (wakeboarding?) the waters, and while not everyone saw him doing it, others heard the 'noise' (or Satan's ski boat chuggin'?) on the river. The phrase 'most horrible power' must mean some pretty cool wakeboarding moves, because if we're to believe that the most horrible thing Satan can do is ride on the water, we're probably reading it out of context. Hurricanes, Tornadoes, heck - even a good Monsoon seem more terrible than some little devilish guy sportin' a few moves on the water. This is just my opinion. I'll let you pray about it for more concrete answers.
Joseph and the gang were pretty cranky with each other during that trip. My favorite alcoholic General Authority and Mormon Historian, B.H. Roberts, gives us a little taste of what was going on:
'During the three days upon the river some disagreements and ill feeling had developed among the brethren and explanations and reconciliations had become necessary; it had also been discovered that progress on their journey by the river in canoes was slow, and hence it became necessary for those who had been appointed to purchase the printing press, Sidney Gilbert and William W. Phelps; and the Prophet, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery, who had been commanded to hasten their return to Kirtland, found it imperative to find a more expeditious means of travel than by the canoes. The greater part of the night at McIlwaine’s Bend was devoted to these matters. The brethren became reconciled to each other, and those whose affairs more especially cried haste started overland the next morning for St. Louis, and the rest of the company continued the journey via the river.' (Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:26263.)
So, as fantastical as it is that someone claimed to see Satan - the DEVIL himself - riding the waters of the Missouri river, I'm more inclined to think that the crankiness of the trip became fantastically elaborated in the form of an 'open vision' of Lucifer ridin' the waves down the river.
Great, So Satan Controls Water
But What About Missionaries Not Swimming?
Yes. So, LDS Mormons took off with the concept of Satan controlling the waters and many fantastical stories have been passing around the folklore hallways of Mormonism ever since.
These stories are only perpetuated in the LDS mission field and among well-meaning but sincerely uneducated members of the LDS Mormon faith. The William A. Wilson Folklore Archives at Brigham Young University has scores of these stories, including several collected in the 2001 student project, "All Hell Let Loose: Missionary Devil Stories in LDS Culture."
However you come across these stories, they never fail to impress. Stories specifically geared to both warn and instill fear are the first to get spread quickly. Of how a missionary was gobbled up by the ocean by merely walking on the beach. A disobedient missionary taking a harmless swim drowns in only three feet of water. Sight-seeing missionaries are forced to leave the shore after a near-death experience when the ocean suddenly becomes violent and they narrowly escape. How missionaries are more susceptible to water drownings because they're living so valiantly and spiritually that Satan can't stand it, so Satan wakeboards in to spoil the fun.
Another popular rumor within Mormonism is that missionaries shouldn't travel by water, except if it's public transportation, or some other nonsensical explanation for safe-water travel.
Die hard believers point out that it's only the 'natural' waterways that should be avoided, and that artificial waterways are okay.
Smith and Sjodahl in the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary P.366 write:
'There were several canals. Some took the travelers around the rapids in the large rivers; others connected navigable rivers. The instruction not to journey on the river did not include such artificial waterways.'
Doctrine and Covenants 61:23 supports this by admonishing travel 'upon the canal'.
Last I checked, however, the drowning properties of water in an artificial waterway are exactly the same as those in a natural waterway. Though it may be more difficult for Satan to bring out the waverunners on a smaller artificial waterway.
When real-life stories of missionaries drowning transpire, they only add to the fuel of these faith-promoting(?) stories. Missionaries like Elder Michael Joshua Bent who drowned in 2003 during a flood in Samoa. And Elder Prymak Joshua Matthew serving in the Canary Islands and drowning in 1999. Undoubtedly these stories of Mormon missionaries drowning are tragic and devastating for their families.
And LDS Mormons often blame it on Satan. He controls the waters. After all, why else would an LDS Mormon missionary die in the water?
So these few but true stories help support all the rumors.
Satan must also control trains, automobiles, and bicycles, because statistically, more LDS Mormon missionaries die from being hit by trains or being in automobile accidents or hit by a car while riding their bike than they do by drowning. That's just my stab at deducting what other 'areas' Satan has control over in this context.
Exceptions to the 'no water' rule abound. Missionaries in the Iquitos, Peru mission, for example, often find themselves traveling alone in boats, tracting the floating homes along the river. In springtime, the rains cause the river to rise and homes are designed to 'float' upon it. Alumni from the Iquitos, Peru mission even claim that they've seen other LDS Mormon missionaries jump into the river and swim without incident (except for the trouble they got into when the Mission President found out).
Other ridiculous and fantastical claims are made - that baptisms in the ocean are fine so long as they're in public next to the shore. Or in the river for the same reason.
While I can't think of any missionaries who have ever drowned while performing a baptism, there have been folks (members and converts) who have drowned DURING their baptism. Clarissa Merrifield, for example, was inadvertently drowned in September of 1843 while being rebaptized for health (learn more about rebaptism by visiting my site). And then there was the 1844 acquittal of two missionaries who accidentally drowned their convert in England. They were arrested and spent six weeks in prison. One of the missionaries was actually the husband of the woman who drowned. Tragic and ironic.
My Missionary Swimming Tale
Yet I Wasn't Drowned or Swallowed Up
It's true. And I'm sure there are probably thousands of stories like mine.
I swam on my mission. Baptizing in a river, in fact. There was an unexpected drop off right next to the shore. I quickly swam back to shallow waters. Luckily, I didn't encounter any wakeboarding devils. And then there was an incredible flood in another area. My companion and I opted to help folks get to higher ground, so we swam a bit. Again, no sightings of a devil wakeboarding. Just good ol' fashioned 'lending a hand' the best way we knew how.
On another occasion, my companion and I were disobedient and actually 'went' swimming. Times were stressful, and a nice cool swim in crystal clear waters was just the ticket. I baptized eight people that week. The Mission President didn't didn't seem to care when I 'confessed' it to him. I was called as an AP the following month. It was still 'against the rules' as it were, but we felt a peace and relaxation from that swim that overpowered any prayer that we could've offered from our knees, pleading for a reprieve from the stresses of missionary life.
Had the devil been wakeboarding there, I might've actually driven the boat. It was a fantastic day - one I'll never forget. We swam the better part of the afternoon next to waterfalls and beautiful cliffs.
And a contradiction of sorts, wouldn't you say? My companion and I didn't drown, had eight baptisms that week, and felt closer to 'God' for it. Go figure.
Why LDS Mormon Missionaries Can't Swim
The Real Reason Behind The Rule
Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with the folklore or the faith-promoting(?) rumors or fantastical visions of the devil riding the waters.
It's actually a very practical reason. The LDS church simply doesn't want to increase the risk or opportunity for problems. Asking that all of their young missionaries not swim during their missions is simply a safety issue that isn't associated with the 'Satan-Water' issue.
Apostle Neal A. Maxwell responded to this inquiry at a missionary zone conference saying that 'it has nothing to do with Satan having power over the waters, and everything to do with some [LDS Mormon Missionaries] not knowing how to swim. It is just safer to cut out all water activities than to have [LDS Mormon missionaries] horsing around in water and perhaps having a missionary who was not a good swimmer get into trouble.'
This statement is supported by Scott Trotter, an LDS Church Spokesman. He says; 'The church takes any necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its missionaries from natural disaster, public health threats or other potentially harmful situations. As a precaution, missionaries are advised not to swim during their missions.'
Can Mormons Swim, Though?
Or Are They Subject to the Same Rule...
Sure, LDS Mormons can swim. This doesn't always translate into a rational and logical view of water, however. Many LDS Mormons still have a built-in taboo belief about Satan controlling the waters. Some go so far as to believe that they're only safe in water so long as they're worthy and obedient to the Mormon God's commandments. Some go so far as to say 'If you are in the act of rebellion while in the water, you are more susceptible to Satan's power.' This hasn't been my experience, however. As with all things 'Mormon', I'll encourage you to pray about it.
There's also bad joo joo over swimming on Sundays. Some of my favorite (and completely ridiculous) reasons I've heard, is that Satan is especially controlling of the waters on Sundays. LDS Mormons are also encouraged NOT to swim on Sundays as it is considered one way of breaking the sabbath. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie says 'Sunday being the Lord's Day, it is a day on which men should do the Lord's work, and do it exclusively. There should be no unnecessary work of a temporal nature, no recreation, no unnecessary travel, no joy riding, and the like. The Sabbath is a day for affirmative spiritual worship, aside from which 'though shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart.' (DandC 59:13)'
I had a wise LDS mentor as a teen. He reasoned that if a father, who worked all week and was otherwise engaged in his temporal work 6 days of the week, wanted to swim with his family on Sunday, why wouldn't he be blessed for wanting to spend some family time doing something that brought the family together?
I've concluded that recreational activity with your family on Sunday isn't just a good thing, it's a FANTASTIC thing. How better to show respect to your 'creator' than to strengthen and build the love within your family by engaging in fun and enjoyable activities that create lasting memories and impressions on your children and spouse. In my mind, there truly is a spiritual connection between family members when they're engaged in activities that instill a genuine bond, mutual respect, and unconditional love for one another - EVEN ON A SUNDAY!
Who knows, you might even share the water with a fun-lovin' wakeboardin' devil. Though he might manifest himself as your teenager having a great time behind the family boat.
And now you know.
| I can never return to the halcyon existence that was so warm and fuzzy. Ignorance was bliss. Only a person who knows very little about Joseph Smith can stand and say "I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God."
Only a person who relies completely upon 'feelings' can ignore the 'facts.' "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
When I read a correlation committee approved lesson manual account of church history with my new understanding, I could clearly see how the church uses words and phrases deceptively. Look at the way LDS, Inc. lies about the past to members in the following excerpts from a Primary lesson manual describing events during the Nauvoo period.
I have taken this lesson and inserted my new understanding of church history in parentheses in the text of the original lesson.
By 1844 the Saints (polygamous cult) had built Nauvoo into a large and prosperous city in Illinois, and more members of the Church (duped converts) were moving to Nauvoo each day. Many non-Latter-day Saints (normal Americans) in Illinois were afraid of the potential economic and political power of so many members of the Church (a law-breaking polygamous cult). They began to persecute (enforce the laws of the State of Illinois with respect to) the Saints.
Some enemies of the Church (clear thinking citizens of Illinois) believed that if they got rid of (exposed the truth about the polyandrous philandering and seduction of 14 year old girls by) Joseph Smith, the Church would fall apart (members of the cult would come to their senses). These men started a newspaper (the Nauvoo Expositor) in which they told many vicious lies about Joseph Smith (things that Joseph Smith had done with other men's wives and daughters). The members of the Church were (Joseph Smith was) angry about these lies (the truth appearing in print). Joseph Smith, who was mayor of Nauvoo (and king of all Israel upon the Earth) at the time, called a meeting of the city council, which was composed of both Church (cult) members and nonmembers (normal people). (Based upon Joseph's lying and distortion of the truth) The city council declared the newspaper a "public nuisance" and ordered the town marshal (militia, headed by Lt. General Joseph Smith) to destroy the printing press (violate the first ammendment rights of the citizens of the State of Illinois by) used to print the newspaper (Nauvoo Expositor).
The enemies of the Church (citizens of Illinois who were upset at the violation of the Constitutional right to a free press) used this event to justify even more persecution (suspicion) of the Saints (polygamous cult) and the (self declared) Prophet (law breaking poygamist and child molester). The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, urged Joseph Smith and the other members of the city council to come to Carthage, Illinois, to stand trial for the destruction of the press. The governor promised that the men would be safe.
Joseph and Hyrum went to Carthage, and on 25 June 1844 they were falsely (rightly and justly) accused of rioting and treason. (Luckily, no one mentioned his 38 wives) They and several of their friends were put in the Carthage Jail, where mobs threatened and cursed them. In jail the brethren prayed and read the Book of Mormon (drank wine and told each other lies). The (self declared) Prophet bore his testimony of the truth of the gospel to (said they could #%$* themselves because the Nauvoo Legion was coming) the men guarding him.
Around five o'clock in the evening a mob of about one hundred men attacked the jail. The brethren (finished their wine and) tried to bar the door shut and use their few weapons to drive off the mob. Joseph Smith fired a pistol (which was not very cecoming of a martyr, killing two men) and John Taylor used his heavy cane to try to knock down the guns of the mob as they were pushed into the room through the door.
Hyrup Smith was shot in the face by a bullet fired through the door. He fell to the floor, crying out, "I am a dead man!" (This made Hyrum the only Smith brother to actally utter a prophetic sentence that foretold the outcome of a real event which occurred as predicted)
Joseph cried out "Oh dear, brother Hyrum" ("Is there no help for the widow's son?", a Masonic call for help, as he frantically tried to save himself).
Now you know the (rest of the) story.
Notice that anyone not a "member of the Church" is automatically branded an enemy or someone to be suspicious of in this lesson manual. Look at the way the information is spun.
I have a copy of the Expositor. There were no lies in it. William Law, a GA at the time, was to have a church court on the Friday before these events occurred and had 50 witnesses who were going to spill the beans about polygamy. Joseph would have none of this truth coming out and excommunicated William Law the day before his scheduled church court.
Joseph would do anything to keep the truth from being exposed. The current leadership have learned their lessons well from this charismatic leader they now worship and emulate.
Truth is the enemy of LDS, Inc. and will prove to be its undoing. I am no Prophet, but I have common sense and eyes that have been opened.
And yet I'm confused by an inconsistent god who changes today, yesterday and probably will tomorrow. This problem is compounded when one puts an historical perspective on the church's doctrinal changes of convenience:
- The Mormon Church begins with the truth assertion that God is not a god of confusion, but is consistent -- the same today, yesterday and forever.
- The 'prophets' in the Polygamy era (1831 thru 1905) claimed to speak for God and would never lead us astray.
- The 'prophets' in the post-polygamy era (1905 - present) claim to speak for God and will never lead us astray.
- The association with God and the Mormon heirarchy then is that listening to our leaders is the same as listening to God. When Monson speaks rest assured GOD HIMSELF sanctions his words.
Cognitive dissonance increasing...
- Banning polygamy because the LDS Church desperately needed to get back its $3 million USD of lost assets(though only $381,812 in assets were really seized by the territorial government). Pragmatically-speaking it was also the only way Utah would ever become a State (no matter how much the mormon propaganda machine insists one has nothing to do with the other).
- Allowing black Africans the "priesthood" in the post Civil Rights Amendment world to avoid losing its tax-exempt status. (Though I've been confused for awhile because of the Elijah Abel + priesthood problem...)
- The canonized DandC Section 89, a.k.a. "Word of Wisdom", begins by informing us it is "...NOT BY COMMANDMENT...", but then is used by the Church leadership as well as the practitioners to severely bludgeon the membership and 'gentiles' either into submission or omission (meaning, to omit non WOW practitioners from our lives).
- The condemnation in the Book of Mormon, most correct book in the cosmos, of paying the clergy, and yet do pay the leaders. The Mormon vernacular for paying the leadership is by couching it under the term "stipend" or "living allowance". This choice of words conjures up in our minds your Aunt Mabel, sitting in her tiny little kitchen alone wondering how to pay the mortgage and still eat on $254/month -- I'd wager the living allowance for the Mormon Star Chamber is just a tad above that. Brother-Brigham himself dipped into the coffers of the Church to the tune of $1 million dollars without interest as if it were his own convenient personal revolving credit line.
- The Book of Mormon condemnation of secret societies, and yet the Mormon Church has at its core its own secret society, the outer parts of the inner-core primarily made up of temple-going TBMs, then concentrates further inward to people like Bednar and Packer -- somewhat analogous to the 'Party' of Oceania in 1984, with the shell of Party Workers that Winston occupies at the outside of the core and the shell which the Party leaders occupy in the center.
- The Bible (+plagiarized Bible in BOM): Thou shalt not commit adultery, and yet Joe Smith married and had sex with other men's wives...
TBM Solution -- Law of Obedience:
The only way to MAKE this little problem right in my TBM mind, where no two contradictory concepts can be true at the same time, is to couch any and all teachings of the Mormon Church under the umbrella of "obedience". Making "obedience" the crux of the argument and not the substance is a bit of a red-herring, but will at least throw my suspicious mind off the trail long enough for me to grow weary of trying to understand it and return to some of our favorite clichιs --
"God works in mysterious ways.
The human mind will never understand the mind of God.
Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
God's just giving me a trial --> which *proves* the *Church* is *true*."
____(I love to mock my slippery-slope-mind)____
But OBEDIENCE, ah-ha! If it all begins and ends with obedience then nothing then could prove the church is wrong, and therefore it must be right!!!
I suppose one could draw a parallel between the changing church and a walk/don't walk sign -- we don't blame the sign for changing between the two and we're grateful we're not run down by a produce truck when we abide it's directions. Too bad it's a false parallel, but most Mormons wouldn't know how to spot one. How else do you think Hugh Nibley got around so many obstacles and still maintained credibility in the Mormon mind? Ignorance is bliss.
True solution -- Law of Parsimony:
Common sense tells us that an organization which has varying and contradictory teachings, in which commandment X is true one day and false the next is not the same yesterday, today or tomorrow. It reminds us, however, that MAN, or rather MEN are perfectly capable of interjecting their own mind into the machine. Recognizing the mind of MEN and not GOD makes the whole dissonance vanish. This does have that nasty side effect of having to deal with a church that lies to you and tells you it's for your own good, but no pain no gain. Too bad I didn't spot it sooner.
Winston's diary --
There is truth and there is untruth. Freedom is the freedom to say "2 + 2 = 4". If that is grounded all else follows.
| Mormonism is a culture. Some individuals fit well within a particular culture. Others do not.
This particular culture has associated with it three features which make it unique (or at least that substantially differentiate it from other cultures):
1. It includes a set of powerful metaphysical beliefs, namely that we're immortal beings being tried in mortal human lives in order to prove our worthiness, and that we can progress eternally;
2. It is structured and works like an extraordinarily well managed corporation;
3. It is incredibly socially cohesive. A large part of this is achieved from its insularity and sense of specialness. Its history of persecution from outsiders has made it powerfully cohesive.
We all know that the Church takes a lot from its members--particularly an enormous quantity of money, not to mention free labor. However, I contend that we can, are entitled to, and should take our share back, and that that share could be quite substantially, such that the net gain is greater than the investment.
I think part of the reason that people have such a profoundly different view about Mormonism than I do is that others point to how reifying the Church's metaphysical beliefs and social practices have caused horrific harm to befall them, whereas I see the Mormon "system" as a game. Some play it well. Others play it badly. The "unwashed masses" treat it as if it were literally true. No myth is literally true, but that doesn't meant hat we can't derive value from this game that Joseph Smith established and further leaders have refined. As long as we treat it like a game, I think that we can prosper under it in many cases: socially, culturally, financially, and psychologically.
I daresay that my views approximate John Dehlin's. He knows that there are problems with the Church, but he doesn't view them as show stoppers. Neither do I, and remember, I'm gay. The Church would like nothing better than to exterminate me. Blood atonement is virtually reserved for people like me.
I approve of the conservative lifestyle and fit right in, except that (even if it were possible), I have no desire to reproduce. I find the concept of a nuclear family interesting, but increasingly less relevant in our modern era. I worry about children from broken homes and I wonder where societal institutions will go in the future. However, straight marriage is denied me, and even were I straight, I could never marry someone whom I didn't love, someone whom I wasn't intellectually, personally, and spiritually compatible with. Even if I found such a person, feelings change over time. Is the old model of one man and one woman in an eternal marriage really possible, or desirable? I'm a traditionalist and have strong feelings about this, but I recognize that marriage amounts (like everything else) to the movement of muscles as various behaviors are enacted to form a cohesive story over time that encompasses two primary actors within the wider context of a culture that sanctions the story (marriage).
In any case, let me return to my point. I approve of the Mormon myth. I think that it contains many beautiful ideas and can be very loving and uplifting. There is a tendency here to emphasize the bad over the good, but I believe that we must also make note of the good. There are a lot of happy Mormons. Anger at the Church, as well as blame leveled against it, doesn't change that fact.
What can we take from the Mormon system? Promising individuals can leverage the enormous power of the Mormon corporation to achieve positions of prominence. There is a vast network of high-powered individuals spread across industry and academia to write letters of recommendation to our best schools to help Mormons get into them, or to business enterprises. The implicit bargain with the Church is this: If you'll be good to us, we'll be good to you. Very good.
Steve Covey did it, establishing a business dynasty. Mitt Romney is a brilliant example. There are many others. As ironic as it seems, I've always considered the Church as virtually obsessed with academic knowledge--indeed, with knowledge in general. Not everyone is an academic, but I believe that the Church encourages academics, which is near and dear to my heart.
In conclusion, there are good things to be found in the Church. I say this in no way to minimize the damage done by the Church's policies and teachings to real people living difficult lives, trying to be good Mormons at tremendous personal expense. Mormonism is a culture that is not for everyone, but for those for whom it works, there are many treasures to reap.
| The five controls of Mormonism is something I thought of to try and explain the psychological stranglehold TSCC puts on its members. I tried to think of the ways in which TSCC exerts control over one's life. Here are a few.
Part of the insidiousness of Mormonism is due to the clannish culture of every ward. Every one is privy to every one else's business. If a member has some transgression he or she is trying to "repent" of, most members will find out through ward gossip or simply notice the offending member is not "partaking of the sacrament."
All this serves to promote a climate of fear of humiliation. People are afraid of what other ward members would think of them. This serves to keep all the TBMs in line. The brethren definitely condone this behavior.
TSCC controls time by keeping the membership busy at all times. Indeed, time is the enemy. Most TBMs are extremely busy with their callings, home teaching, church meetings, ward activities, and the spare time they are able to spend with their families.
This busyness serves to prevent the membership from too much thinking. Members are too busy to question or research the claims of Mormonism. Even if they have a few doubts, they are much too busy to entertain those doubts.
Also, everything is an emergency in Mormonism. Commitments must be made NOW. Don't stew on things for too long or Satan might get a hold of you. Don't procrastinate the day of your repentance... You must do it NOW!
TSCC also exerts emotional control through manipulation. Create a climate of fear and guilt.
We can all remember the great guilt heaped upon us by "The Miracle of Forgiveness." This book has done much psychological harm. This is part of what is taught repetitiously to all the membership. OBEDIENCE is the #1 rule of it all.
Every GC, every member will be reminded of how they aren't good enough. Their not doing enough missionary work, their not home teaching, their not reading the scriptures enough, they are not doing well in their callings. This all creates a general level of anxiety... Elohim is never pleased...Remember, the saints were driven from Missouri because they weren't good enough.
Tithing is expounded on in many meetings. The intangible blessings of heaven are promised through paying your 10%. Blessings are the Carrot.The Temple Recommend is the stick. Imagine the pain one will go through not being able to see their child's temple wedding because they didn't pay their 10%. Another way of using the climate of fear to manipulate the membership.
The strive to be an "eternal family" is constantly reinforced to the members. If you aren't worthy, you won't be with your family forever.
Even after the sealing, members are constantly in fear that they might not be good enough to keep their eternal family together.
TSCC becomes the middle man in family relationships. This is the insidious nature of TSCC.
These are a few of the controls that TSCC utilizes to its full advantage. These controls contribute to much psychological harm. It can be extremely difficult to make the exit out. The only way to break these controls is to distance yourself as far away from it as possible.
| It has been widely quoted that George Bush said, “God wants me to be President,”. That conceited mind-set led him from one disaster to another. Almost everything he did was driven by his Magical Thinking. As a result the two words that are being used repeatedly to describe the past administration are: Arrogance and Incompetence.
When you “know” that God is directing you, the natural conclusion is that everything you do must be correct: “ If God made me President, God won’t let me fail.” the reasoning goes. Therefore, all fundamental thinking is naturally directed downward; You don’t listen to the mere human beings below you even the wise ones even the so-called experts the job of these subordinates is to listen to your extra-human “promptings” and for that staff to apply their great skills accordingly. As President, the only listening you do is to find agreement in your staff environment and to absorb their reinforcement. As the Chosen One, you can’t question yourself for the same reason that you don’t question God. “God wants me to be President,” that’s all you really need to know.
Natural selection constantly sifts through your staff; you continually keep the reinforcers, and reject the “willful and obstinate”. Over time this process distills a body of advisors who are already in agreement with your foregone conclusions. Crafty people with all kinds of private agendas soon learn how to use your conceits to their advantage. They subtly get their way in one arena by telling you what you want to hear in another. Your conceit becomes their power...and the power below them...and the power below them...eventually the entire pyramid reflects the arrogance of person at the top. Power is the prime motivation throughout, keeping power at the top, also keeps power below.
In the last eight years Magical Thinking has been evident everywhere.
Before an assembly of religious supporters George W. Bush opened the room to questions. One very bright question was why the President didn’t listen to the advice from his own father’s book about the Gulf War. George W. Bush asked for someone to hand him a Bible which he then raised triumphantly over his head, “This is the only book I listen to.” he replied simplistically. Everyone applauded! On another occasion when a reporter asked (once again) why he didn’t listen to his father’s advice. Bush 43 said, in a similar tone, “I only listen to One Father.”
Prayer can sometimes be a delusional way of talking to yourself. And it can be very convincing. Magical Thinking.
Pat Robertson reported having a meeting with President Bush on the eve of the Iraq War. Robertson reportedly gave Bush an excellent piece of advice for any Commander before a battle. “You need to prepare the country for casualties.” he basically said. According to Robertson President Bush then showed extraordinary spiritual confidence and replied, “There won’t be any casualties.”
What! This was the same Bush who said the troops might face Weapons of Mass Destruction! Carl Rove claims that he was in the room and that the President never said those words. So then, did Robertson make up the story? Perhaps, but at great risk of ruining his relationship with the White House. If Bush really did say those five words “There won’t be any casualties.” then the country was at the peril of unimaginable Magical Thinking!
Men who are totally convinced that God is responsible for their conclusions and their actions are men who do not listen to any other advice, they are men who don’t sufficiently question themselves, and they are men who don’t learn well from their mistakes. Because God is perfect, any problems that arise must be due to the unworthiness of those below.
Ironically, the world saw a similar thing in the atheist Soviet Union. Communism was perfect (i.e. Godlike). That “fact” went without question. Edicts came down from above and often failed. There had to be explanations for these failures (the factory quotas and crops that didn’t materialize etc.). Everyone in every level of the communist bureaucracy blamed those below the counter revolutionaries the criminals. This guilt sifted downward and downward to those who couldn’t pass it on any further. These final victims of communism were the weakest people in the system common people, like the poor Russian peasants.
Assumed God-like perfection at the top is eventually paid for by those at the bottom.
Guilt, depression, suicides, drugs, financial failures, ruined relationships this are often the prices that are paid by the people at the bottom in order to maintain the conceits of those at the top and what does all this say about Mormonism?
| There's a concept I find handy from time to time, and a recent thread by Cooper reminded me of it again. Because I'm not trained in Philosophy, I suppose there might be a well-established name for this effect, but for lack of a better term, I call it "The Concentration Effect."
Here's how it works.
Every Ward has roughly 450 members. Each fast and testimony meeting, roughly 10 people get up and bear their testimony. Of those, half are children whose mommy was whispering in her ear, and one was a mandatory testimony by a member of the Bishopric. That leaves 4 or 5 actual testimonies being born, which typically include some kind of prayer answered or other faith promoting tale or two. Of those 4 or 5, 2 of them are regulars, who bear their testimony every couple of months no matter what.
It FEELS like the meeting was filled with examples of cancers that were cured by priesthood blessings, hearts that were healed by a reminder they found in the scriptures, and pork chops found in the back of the freezer just when it seemed like there wouldn't be dinner because they paid their tithing first. EVERY meeting feels that way. From the standpoint of emotional impact, it leaves you with the impression that the vast majority of church members are having a miraculous, divinely inspired, celestial experience!
But break it down differently. Assuming my numbers above are reasonable, and that roughly 5 people bear an actual, spiritual testimony each month, and that 30% of those are repeat offenders, that means we hear on the order of 42 heartfelt testimonies in FandT meeting a year, from fewer than 10% of the Ward. (Remember, these are numbers I pulled out of my ear...they are illustrative only!) What FELT like a very spiritual Ward literally gushing with spiritual experiences is really about 90% just like you and me, where nothing that great happened, and frankly, we were sitting there WISHING we could feel like we had a prayer answered so we would have something to say.
See, we don't HEAR from everyone who DIDN'T have a prayer answered. We only hear from the ones who DID. There's a natural sorting effect that takes place. Think of the people sitting in the chapel, and imagine that everyone who had a burning testimony-promoting story to tell is glowing orange, and everyone else is just a humble brown. When you look at the audience, you see a smattering of orange in a sea of brown. But watch now when you invite people up to bear their testimony. Everyone on the stand is orange!
That's the concentration effect. Churches all take advantage of this psychological effect among human beings, and no less so the Mormons. It's part of what convinces us that we are having a powerful spiritual experience in the temple, when in fact it is at best boring, and at worst bizarre. The people who think the temple is the greatest thing in the world are the only ones talking about it. Everyone else is embarassed to say what they are thinking. It's part of what convinces us that the Prophets are these charismatic, loving, beautiful men, when in fact we find that they are simply men with a job, and some of them are, frankly, butt-heads. The only people who stand and tell of their experience with the prophet of God are the one or two schizophrenics who thought they heard angels singing when they shook his hand. The guy who heard a 92 year old prophet fart on an elevator is not telling that story in Sacrament meeting.
It's also part of what makes it so hard to leave. Your friends and family who are faithful believers don't see the Concentration Effect. It's their normal, just like it was your normal. They can't understand why you are going against the grain, why you can't see what EVERYONE else is seeing. When you first start to doubt, you really DO feel like you're going crazy, because the Concentration Effect has you absolutely convinced that everyone you know, respect and love sees clearly that the church is true, and it leaves you wondering what is wrong with YOU. That's why our slogan, "You are not alone" is such a compelling announcement to the world.
You are NOT alone--you live in a sea of people who believe as you do--but you are only seeing the people who glow orange get up and bear their testimony...
| Frankly, I can't see it.
Non-members celebrating milestone secret rituals within cults that marginalize all outsiders?
The mormon church discriminates against racial minoriities, females, and gays. Additionally, the cult undermines personal emotional growth and development. I'm not supportive of any of that.
An endowment is not a wedding. When couples marry, they change the dynamics of the family and society. Starting a new life as a new established family seems like a reason to attend a reception for them.
Priesthood oridinations, endowments, being baptized for the dead, achieving the status of EQP or RSP, or passing a TR interview don't seem like appropriate reasons for expecting non-beievers to give special honor and recognition at dinners or parties. Good heck, if endowments are SO special, why don't the participants feel joy in the spiritual event without needing a party to celebrate? Do they require public recognition for wearing new magical underwear?
Temple rituals are secret and sacred events to mormons. They are not so special to non-participating outsiders.
I could go along with a family member supporting someone by attending a church event to see them sing or play an organ recital. But celebrating with them for undergoing endowent rituals? Come on!
It seems disingenuous to go to a party to celebrate the religious rituals of a cult which openly preaches that we and most others on earth are unworthy.
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