THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 17
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.
| You know I had never really thought about this one, until I got onto my mission, and it was discussed by US companions.
As I understand it, being born under the covenant, to parents who are sealed in the temple, is a blessing earned in the 'spirit world' for righteousness.
I just could never get my head around that one...ever..
Joseph Smith was NOT born under the covenant, neither were most of the early apostles.
Yet suddenly it is a status symbol for those growing up in the church to feel good about themselves. We must have been righteous, we earned that blessing, and if you have parents who are bishops, stake presidents, or GA's then that really puts you on top in the status stakes.
I know it doesn't make the church true or false. But it has the potential to give many a superiority complex on the basis of nothing more than their circumstance of birth.
Surely we are judged on who we are, not the circumstances of our birth.
Of course, I could be wrong, but I just never thought that God worked that way. It never ever sat right with me, yet gave me a good cultural reason to feel inferior to born and bred members.
Have y'all seen this? (I'm sure you have!) In my researching for my papers I stumbled across the Member Missionary Handbook, and it made me gag on oh so many levels.
I was trying to pick which section would be best to copy and paste, but couldn't pick one, so I'm just gonna leave a little list of my favorite suggestions:
Man, the list is so manipulative. It's all about asking leading questions (ask about their weekend so they'll ask about your and you can talk about church) or purposefully leaving out the BoM or reading it where you can be seen, or whatever- all to manipulate people. There was even one that said, "Ask a “will you” question to invite one of your friends to participate in the church." That's a sales tactic- wording questions in a way that make it harder to turn down and more likely to agree to.
- Sing a hymn for a nonmember.
- Give applicable Book of Mormon names to pets and animals
- Use religious words (i.e. “church”, “missionary”, “Bible”, “Book of Mormon”, etc.).
- Put your picture and your testimony in a Book of Mormon and give it to a friend.
- Give a friend a picture of your family, a temple, and a Proclamation of the Family.
- Give someone a tie and invite them to church.
- Share a scripture you read in the morning like you would a movie line (just relate it to something that happened)
- Make a snow sculpture of the temple in your front yard.
- Take a friend on a trip to the temple. (What? So they can sit in the waiting room and be told they aren't worthy? Yeah, sounds like a plan.)
I laugh at all of it (especially the "give a friend a tie and invite him to church" one) but really- it's quite sad. I get that they think they are saving souls, but they have absolutely no sense of boundaries, do they?
| Would that mean that these mormons would be deprived of the truth?
Would it mean that they would lose respect for exmos?
Would it teach them a lesson?
I think it doesn't help exmos recover if they accept and attend appointments with bishops in their ward offices.
Why? Because the job of bishops is to use guilt, fear, and word games to entice exmos back to church. When this doesn't work, they want to send exmos away feeling deflated or shamed. Sometimes it works. Other times the exmo might leave feeling vindicated or thinking they've planted seeds of doubt.
I have no need to seek vindication and no need to plant seeds.
Is that *our* job? To accept the role of possibly planting seeds if it means going hat in hand into a place where we no longer belong?
That might help some exmos recover for some reason. If it does, they should go for it. In my opinion, what they shouldn't do, is to be pressured or shamed into attending meetings they don't care about. Nor do they need to prove they're not afraid of a bishop.
For those who DO want to have it out with a bishop, I suggest these exmos set the terms. They can choose the time and place for the meeting. They can take an advocate with them. They can insist on meeting outside of the wardhouse at a neutal place if not in their own living room. They can stand up and leave or tell the bishop to go away if he turns combative or whiney.
I know that mormon bishops are sexist, so I would never meet with one on *their* terms. I don't feel I owe them seeds of truth. If I could see the truth as a teenager before the internet era, they are perfectly capable of seeking out their own truth if that's what they want.
To me, being an exmo means recovering from a cult and finding *my* truth, not arguing with TBM prieshood guys who are in the job of keeping people paying, praying and obeying.
Would I go to a polital party headquarters to get donations for the opposing party? No.
Would I go to a homeless shelter to seek contributions for the opera? No.
Would I go to a hot dog stand to convince the vendor to sell me French loup de mer en croute? Not likely.
Nor would I go to a mormon bishop's office and expect to receive respect and validation for my decision to leave and recover from his cult. Nope.
| In the early decades of the church, the prophets and apostles would often boast that all truth belonged to the church and that the more a person studied anything and all things, the more they would realize that the church and all of its claims were true. In short, because the church is on the right side of truth, nobody needs to fear what they will find if they really dig in and study the church from all angles and rigorously test and analyze every claim made by the church, without limitation as to what sources or materials one decides to study.
My guess is that the leaders didn't really want the good sheep of the church to actually do what the leaders preached and systematically question, analyze and study the claims made by church leaders. But they had to put on a show of great confidence. It was always and still is a confidence game, after all.
Then along came Brigham H. Roberts, a General Authority who apparently was a true believer in the beginning and he literally did what the early church leaders had taught should be done. He questioned, analyzed, studied, pondered and all the rest, and, well, the results of B.H. Roberts' studies were considerably less than satisfactory in terms of strengthening testimonies.
In fact, the result was that B.H. Roberts found no evidence that divine power of any kind was needed to explain the existence and content of the Book of Mormon.
The "Brethren" probably realized that they would have to do significant damage control everytime a respected member of the church actually sought to "prove" the truthfulness of the church's claims by rigorously studying all available evidence.
Accordingly, the Brethren have over the years dropped some of the boastfulness and have warned members away from studying books and publications of any kind that are not officially approved or recommended by the church or that are not instantly recognizable as being "in harmony" with church teachings.
This emphasis on limiting one's studies to only Mormonally correct information has grown stronger in the last several decades.
Most TBMs nowadays accept that it's better to just study church publications and church-approved literature. Lesson manuals and guides issued by the church even go so far as to discourage people from studying past church publications. It truly is becoming Orwellian, as the church tries to quietly rewrite history, while simultaneously trying to frighten members of the flock from accessing any outside information or even contradictory historical information that was produced in the past by the church itself.
The more blinkered Mormons have become, the more likely they are to view ex-Mormons who have "studied their way
out of the church" as having started their studying with the express intention of finding excuses to leave the church--for the standard superficial reasons that TBMs claim can be the only motivation for leaving the church, i.e., a desire to sin or feeling offended by someone in the church.
From what I've seen, however, it's not usually the case that an erstwhile faithful Mormon who can no longer believe started out with the goal of "studying his/her way out of the church." They simply start out with the goal of studying the church's history and doctrines and then END UP studying their way out of the church as a natural consequence of honest inquiry.
In fact, in a lot of instances, the person starts out with the goal of studying more so that they can debunk what they assume to be "anti-Mormon lies" and disprove "anti-Mormon" arguments. If they have any intellectual integrity, they soon find that the evidence, as opposed to emotional testimony bearing, is overwhelmingly not faith-promoting and inexorably leads them to the conclusion that the core claims of Mormonism are bogus.
A good analogy might be a case where someone (a faithful, honest TBM) hears a rumor that her husband (the Church) has been cheating on her at the Bunch O' Luv Motel. Certain that the rumor is false, she calls her husband's office to confirm that he has indeed been working late every night, just as he has repeatedly claimed. Sadly, she find out that he has actually been leaving the office early everyday. She then goes to the Bunch O' Luv Motel and finds her husband's car parked in front of Room 69 and -- Voila! -- you have a case of a person studying their way out of their marriage (i.e., studying her way out of the church).
| Gordon B. Hinckley presented us with a false dichotomy when he said,: “Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” (Gordon B. Hinckley. "Loyalty," April Conference, 2003.)
This either/or, black and white thinking is a fallacious form that is common in simplistic, often deception ridden arguments. Classic Greek skepticism points to the idea that nothing can be known with certainty, yet this false dichotomy type of argument portrays a binary mode of truth or falsity. GBH claims the church is either all true or it is all a fraud. This is a fallacious argument aimed at those people who are members of the church who perceive some goodness or truth in the church. Their minds take the short cut that if they perceive some good in the church, then it must all be good and true. This is arrived at using GBH’s authoritative (in their minds), yet fallacious argument.
Often people on the DAMU, particularly those early in Fowler’s Stage 4, who are deep in anger, use this same fallacious argument. The church is all a fraud! It is all a pile of dung! There is nothing good in the church! Everyone would be happier if the church just disappeared! These are all overly simplistic, fallacious statements. These are not facts. These are emotion-based, simplistic statements that ignore the complexities of reality, social structure, individual personal needs, etc. These statements project individual personal experiences onto ALL people, presuming that one’s experiences directly relate to the experiences of others and can be generalized on the entire LDS, if not the entire human population. One can understand that when in the midst of anger, the rationality of any individual is not at its highest level, so some leeway can and should be expected when observing this apparent irrationality.
From Wikipedia, we can read the following regarding false dilemmas or false dichotomies:
“The logical fallacy of false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy) involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are other options. Closely related are failing to consider a range of options and the tendency to think in extremes, called black-and-white thinking. Strictly speaking, the prefix "di" in "dilemma" means "two". When a list of more than two choices is offered, but there are other choices not mentioned, then the fallacy is called the fallacy of false choice, or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses.
False dilemma can arise intentionally, when fallacy is used in an attempt to force a choice ("If you are not with us, you are against us.") But the fallacy can arise simply by accidental omission–possibly through a form of wishful thinking or ignorance–rather than by deliberate deception ("I thought we were friends, but all my friends were at my apartment last night and you weren't there.")
When two alternatives are presented, they are often, though not always, two extreme points on some spectrum of possibilities. This can lend credence to the larger argument by giving the impression that the options are mutually exclusive, even though they need not be. Furthermore, the options are typically presented as being collectively exhaustive, in which case the fallacy can be overcome, or at least weakened, by considering other possibilities, or perhaps by considering a whole spectrum of possibilities, as in fuzzy logic.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma)
Is it helpful to use the same fallacious arguments of church leaders when stating our own positions? Shouldn’t we try to rise above that and use more thought and integrity? Is it helpful to use the shameful techniques of apologists, using ad hominem attacks against those with whom we do not completely agree? I was appalled yesterday when I witnessed the thoughtless, irrational, fallacious attacks against “NOM counselor.” Is it possible that we can rise above the communication and rhetorical techniques used by the church? Or are we just shifting camps to the other side of the river, using the same self-serving techniques, lobbed in the other direction?
| You Want a Piece of Me! - My Fight Against Censorship and So-Called ProFamily Efforts!
I can’t even remember when the black covers over some of the fashion and exercise magazines at the grocery checkout counters first appeared. I also don’t remember when I decided to attempt to thwart these efforts. At first I would remove the black covers, gathering all I could reach as I waited to go through the check-out and stacking them on top of the racks. One day I was surprised when I tried to gather the covers to find that they were wired to the racks. I was not deterred. I simply put the offending magazines in front of the covers while I waited. And then another step was taken to counter my efforts. When I tried to put a magazine in front of the cover, it was now wired so I couldn’t. I was involved in some weird move, countermove game and I had no idea what was going on.
Where before I had almost been amused, now I was irritated and angry. I enjoyed looking at the magazines while I waited for my turn at the check out stand. I found nothing offensive about the magazines that were covered (mostly pictures of big haired, over-dressed women with cleavage showing or someone in great shape wearing a bikini) and wondered about the store’s policy, so I asked the check out attendant. He stammered, seeming to be uncomfortable, he was unaware of why the store covered up some of the magazines. I asked to see a manager, who informed me that it was corporate policy and there was nothing he could do about it. He encouraged me to call the corporate office and I did.
I talked to a nice woman who informed me that the policy was to cover magazines that might offend children. It was a “family friendly” policy that was designed to create a safe environment for kids, she stated. I asked her who determined which magazines were to be covered. She said that some magazines were always to be covered like Cosmopolitan and others were left to the discretion of the store manager.
She concluded with, “What’s the harm? If a mother does not want her child to see something she finds offensive, then so what.” I thanked her and sat there holding my phone, feeling assaulted by some unknown perpetrator that was censoring what I could and could not see. The unknown perpetrated was about to be revealed.
Coincidentally, my sister from California visited me a few weeks later. She told me about JoAnn Hamilton, a speaker she had heard at a woman’s conference sponsored by the LDS Church. My sister who is Mormon is also conservative and trusting.
Hamilton had informed the audience that magazines like Cosmopolitan are salacious and the cover photos, soft porn. According to Hamilton, these dangerous photos on these dangerous magazines were maliciously and deliberately placed at a child’s eye level.
These photos were causing boys to slip into pornography addiction and it was starting at ages as young as nine. Just one glance, one time and a young boy could be caught in the snare of sexual addiction for life. She encouraged the women to contact their grocery stores and have inappropriate magazines covered. She told them what to write or say so that the stores would understand how important this mission to cover magazines was.
My sister was visibly upset and I was stunned. I have learned that a large guffaw and a “Where on earth did she get that crazy information?” does not endear me to my church-going family, so I sat there quietly with my brain sizzling and wondering if there was any smoke coming out of my head.
When I got home I went on line to see if I could find out more about Hamilton and her sources. I could. There on the internet is her website strengthenthefamily.net and displayed proudly on the home page is a link to the 2006 BYU Women’s Conference address which sounded just like the talk my sister had endured.
Like a greedy child at Christmas I opened the article and read it relishing the stupidity and being equally appalled at the lack of scholarship, professional training, and study that had gone into what amounted to blatant hate messages and scare tactics designed to take advantage of the natural need of any mother to protect her children.
Here are just a few things I learned from the speech “Letting Your Voice Be Heard” by JoAnn Hamilton. (http://www.strengthenthefamily.net/Le...):
· That according to Dr. Judith Reisman, one of Hamilton’s key sources of information and a self-styled morality watchdog, in just 3/10 of a second a child, looking at the careful placed magazine cover of the big haired, over-dressed woman with cleavage showing has imprinted for life this “soft porn” picture. And somehow this picture causes untold and irreversible damage in this victimized child’s life probably resulting in an addiction to pornography.
· That the American Library Association actually holds meetings with the expressed agenda to “get more pornography” into your children’s hands.
· That the publishers of magazines are purposely trying to get your children to look at their covers by placing them at the child’s eye level so that children will be the helpless sex addicts later in life that these cruel, uncaring merchants can then exploit.
· That letting children watch any television at all is setting them up for sexual addiction, as determined by another key source of information for Hamilton, Mark Kastleman, a self-proclaimed recovering sexual addict.
Hamilton's talk had an ominous feel to up and I wanted to learn more about Hamilton’s sources so I goggled Judith Reisman and up popped 54,000 hits. Judith Reisman, has a PhD in communications, is a vocal advocate for abstinence only programs, a strong believer that there is a pornography and homosexual conspiracy that is being aggressively thrust on us, that Kinsey (the sex researcher) is at the heart of every bad thing including the killings at Virginia Tech, and she has the ear of the Christian Right. She accuses Kinsey of being a pedophile who died from brutal, repetitive self abuse. (Why Know? Daniel Radosh, 2004, The New Yorker). She has no evidence for her conclusions, but who needs evidence when you are obliterating the reputation of someone you disagree with or a life style you abhor. Take homosexuality. According to Dr. Reisman, homosexuals recruit as intensely as the Marine Corp. (Why Know? Daniel Radosh, 2004, The New Yorker) and are in fact at the heart of the rise of Nazism in German. (The PinkSwastika as Holocaust Revisionist History, Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D., The Institute for Media Education, http://www.drjudithreisman.com/archiv... )
After checking out some her publications I noticed that though I had not felt offended at the supermarket or overcome with the filth of the lewd pictures on magazine covers, I did feel offended by Reisman’s logic and had an overwhelming need to bathe after reading some of her diatribes.
I then looked up Mark Kastleman. If Reisman is Hamilton’s prophet; Kastleman is her proof. There are scores of his frightening articles warning parents about the dangers of porn and sexual addiction on the web with nary a scientific study referenced.
Kastleman is attributed, in a 2005 Forbes article titled Sex, Lies, and Statistics, by Seth Lubove, as the source of a statistic that is widely quoted, but unproven, that the average age of pornography exposure is 11 years old.
In an article: The Secret Life of Boys (Boston Globe, 2005) the statistic is attributed to Family Safe Media in Provo, Utah owned by Jared Martin who claims he got it from Internet Filter Review, a Web site run by Jerry Ropelato of Huntsville, Utah, who claims he got it from The Drug of the New Millennium, Mark Kastleman’s book on the dangers of pornography, who can’t recall where he got it. It is a dizzying look at the use and abuse of statistics. The fact that both Jared Martin and Jerry Ropelato sell software to parents to protect against pornography was not lost on me.
What had started out as an annoyance at the check-out counter had exposed me to a crazy neurotic culture attempting to control anything deemed pornographic, for my own good, of course. Hamilton’s definition of pornography is so broad that almost nothing would be chaste enough to escape censorship. It is, and I quote: “Anything that causes a person, a youth or child to have inappropriate feelings.” This is logical fallacies and circular reasoning at its best. Tell someone that they should consider a picture of a woman in a dress that shows cleavage as inappropriate, then when that person feels guilt (an inappropriate feeling) for looking at and noticing the cleavage, then use that to prove the picture is inappropriate.
The extreme rhetoric of hate and fear that these authors and speakers used to perpetuate their views was disturbing and unexpected. Why did they feel so threatened by the human body and sexuality that they saw monsters on every corner, villains in every picture, and evil lurking in even the children’s books in the local library?
What war were they trying to win and when they do, what will be the cost and what will be the victory. Cho, the killer of the Virginia Tech massacre had allegedly hired a private dancer the month before the killings. According to Reisman, this proved that he was a sexual addict. As far as I could tell, any sexual activity or feeling that was not sexual intercourse in a traditional marriage is sexual addiction to Reisman. I looked up sexual addiction and discovered that there is much debate whether there is even such a thing.
Behavioral scientists are still studying what constitutes healthy sexual behavior, what is deviant and what would be considered obsessive compulsive (most sex therapist put sexual disorders here).
Reisman excels at connecting any bad outcome to her favorite self-described vices, particularly sexual addiction. But Cho also ate during that last month, probably owned a telephone, and was registered in college. All of those could be also pointed out as contributing factors by someone who had a point to make.
Perhaps he had a food allergy that drove him crazy, or had been frustrated when his local phone company had over charged him, or had read some poetry in a class that celebrated death. Who knows? I certainly don’t and I don’t think Reisman built a case that she does, but she certainly is scaring the bejibbers out of a lot of people with her unfounded accusations.
One of those is JoAnn Hamilton who in turn has scared my sister who in turn is now teaching her own son to be terrified of his sexuality. Facts and figures are not allowed to obscure fear and fanaticism.
The combining of an atrocity with a favorite cause to produce strong emotions even though there is no proven connection is a favorite spin technique used by politicians and extremists. I certainly don’t want my children shot and killed while they attend to their higher education. If a Cosmo cover can lead to a Cho, then who wouldn’t cover up the magazine. It is a two step that one can easily dance. First, sexual addiction as defined by Hamilton or Reisman is the cause, second their declarations should then be the basis for action. She holds Cho and my children together over my head. It is very effective.
If sexual addiction is this insidious and unmanageable what are we do to? If it is manifest in someone hiring a dancer for an hour, a glance at the cleavage on an attractive woman on the cover of a magazine, or curiosity about sex, then our own biology becomes the enemy and we must fear ourselves and others. If this unwanted but uncontrollable sexual addiction is the entrance into a world of murder and mayhem then our humanity betrays us. No one is safe and covering magazines is a small price to pay to avoid the inevitable destruction of our souls by our bodies.
But if there is a wide range of normal sexual behavior as indicate by Dr. Eli Coleman, Ph.D. researcher in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota then just because behavior does not fit the values of a Judith Reisman or Joann Hamilton does not make the behavior deviant or dangerous.
Just because they determine a picture is obscene or that the violent crime committed by a crazed young man has its genesis in sexual addiction does not make it so.
Hamilton’s message of hate seeps out like slime from her professed pro-family agenda. Her moral standard is a morass of deception and detestation. Hamilton and Reisman claim a moral high ground that is really a cliff from which they push off anyone whom they oppose.
They are shouting, “Fire, fire.” And though there is no fire or smoke anywhere in sight too many people are running around hysterically, fearful that their child is next to be victimized.
Maybe it is time to stop listening to these voices of doom, gloom, fear and fanaticism.
P.S. My next trip to the supermarket, I took all the magazines that were covered and exchanged them with those that were not covered. Due to my efforts Cosmo was openly displayed and Better Homes and Gardens, covered. I hate cooking and felt this was right. I don’t like to be made to feel guilty that I don’t care about my home or garden. I know this is not the answer but it did make me feel better. The next week everything was back and I have given up on my efforts to thwart the magazine covering craze.
| The LDS and Christian Right have ingrained their political ideology and theology together; it seems that you can no longer be a Democrat and a Christian, as the two have become dichotomies. Liberalism has become tanamount to full-out war on God, and Democrats are the cradle to Hell. Ever since Benson gave his talk about socialism, right-winger within the Church have taken it to mean that they can preach ideology along with Doctrine to the point that the two are same. And the impact on the theology is clear -- preaching that hard work nessesitates no health care, or welfare (even when people, not by thier choice, become unemployed) is acceptable, while one who preaches the uncomfortable, scriptural doctrines of welfare are treated as parhiahs and malcontents.
The Church, however, has not picked up on the fact that fall of the Republicans and the Church are related. In aligning itself, or allowing the doctrine and local leadership to swing to the right, the Church has outsourced its future to that of a politicial party. When, and if, the Republicans figure out how to not look like complete wack jobs, the Church will baptise.
But, then agian, as people realize that neo-conservatism (not conservatism) and Mormonism are bankrupt ideologies, people will leave both the Church and the Republican parties unless the two groups figure it out and change their "products".
| Everywhere I have been in the Church, Ive seen the same pattern.
Your GA's EQ Pres, Bishopric, Stake Presidency, Stake High Council are made up of the same type of guy.
Upperclass Lawyer, Doctor, maybe an Engineer, Business Executive, Banking Executive.
Your Relief Society and Primary Presidencies are more often then note, wives, or friends of the above who fall in the same socio-economic status.
The people who are trying to fast track their way to leadership and are trying to get noticed by their bishops and stake presidents, are usually college age members who are in school studying to be doctors or lawyers.
These are the types like strut like Peacocks, and try to make the desirable single women, swoon with their rehearsed testimonies.
Either that, or they are young professionals.
Young married couples between the ages of 25-35, who are always trying to project the image of outward success, upward mobility, and piety.
The husband always has his suit perfectly pressed. His wife and kids usually are walking a foot or 2 behind them, and look like they are ready to have their portrait done, at a moments notice.
Having been someone who has been behind the scenes of local leadership, I can promise you, that these types are almost always the most dysfunctional families and people, that you will ever see.
Bless your poor, naive heart if you are either just a regular, run of the mill member, trying to make sense of it all, and believe; or if you are someone who is not pretentious, not looking for accolades, and simply want to worship in peace and be left alone.
You will be the type of person who will constantly be looked over, dumped with meaningless "assignments", talked at instead of talked to, and treated as if you are expendable.
These types of people know deep down, that there is nothing inspired in what they are seeing out of leadership, but too few cannot pull the trigger and work out their feelings to their logical conclusion. They end up staying, and seeing the same cycle repeat itself and wondering why the cannot "feel the spirit of the lord" as strongly as these fine, affluent, righteous people.
| From Robert Kirby:
Last week, the phone rang at 4 a.m. A close friend was calling to tell me that his wife of 25 years had just left him because -- get this -- he no longer attends church.
I understand my friend's situation well enough to know that little else has changed. He's still an easy-going and hardworking guy who loves his wife and kids. He doesn't drink, philander, or gamble away their savings. He just isn't into church anymore.
"She says if I don't get my temple recommend back, we're through for good," he said.
That's pretty amazing, actually. I mean it takes real effort to believe in a gospel of love and forgiveness, while simultaneously finding a way to not practice it on the one person in your life who deserves it the most.
| From the Pamphlet, "To the Mothers in Zion"
"Young mothers and fathers, with all my heart I counsel you not to postpone having your children, being co-creators with our Father in heaven.
Do not use the reasoning of the world, such as, "We'll wait until we can better afford having children, until we are more secure, until John has completed his education, until he has a better paying job, until we have a larger home, until we've obtained a few of the material conveniences," and on and on.
This is the reasoning of the world and is not pleasing in the sight of God. Mothers who enjoy good health, have your children and have them early. And, husbands, always be considerate of your wives in the bearing children.
Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels."
"I have told tens of thousands of young folks that when they marry they should not wait for children until they have finished their schooling and financial desires .... They should live together normally and let the children come ....
I know of no scriptures where an authorization is given to young wives to withhold their families and to go to work to put their husbands through school. There are thousands of husbands who have worked their own way through school and have reared families at the same time" ("Marriage Is Honorable," in Speeches of the Year, 1973 [Provo: Brigham Young University, 1974], p. 263). Spencer W. Kimball
"when a husband encourages or insists that his wife work out of the home for their convenience, “not only will the family suffer in such instances, … but [his] own spiritual growth and progression will be hampered” (Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 49)." - President Howard W. Hunter
I remember this advice well from my teenage and young adult days in TSCC. It was drilled into us by our local ward and stake leaders also. This ill begotten advice has caused and continues to cause more damage than the Mormon leadership would like to admit.
Although many people rush to TSCC's defense and say that this is no longer taught the sad fact is that many leaders within Mormonism still believe this tripe wholeheartedly. Many of these pamphlets are still floating around and there are more than enough self-proclaimed leaders in the Mormon church that are all too willing to manipulate and pressure others.
| With the holidays, Supreme Court nomination, war talk, etc., my mind is transported back to July 4, 1964 when President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. I remember those times. The BCP (Birth control pill) was relatively new. There was a war that had been popular, but was becoming unpopular. And Black Americans were finally making progress in their pursuit of civil rights.
Thinking about the clashing and crashing of all these events made me realize that the mormon church was wrong about everything. I associate with people now who were protestors and/or leaders of movements at that time, but I missed out on all that kind of thinking where I lived in Salt Lake City in those days.
There, the thinking was---“The pill is an evil invention. It’s an artificial means of stopping what God wants to happen.” The church handbook decried the use of the pill. The church did everything in its power to suppress the women’s rights movement.
The church supported the war in Vietnam. In speeches, in publications (I still have some of those clippings), in fervor. Protestors were scorned or ridiculed by good upstanding mormons. War protesters were lumped in the same basket as the free love hippies in San Francisco and other “questionable” cities. People cheered when they’d see news clips of police beating back the protest crowds. I’ve been in groups where I saw this cheering as they watched the television reports. The church supported the war in Vietnam in every way except sending its kids over there. Active mormons could usually get out of service by going on missions. That was the preferable way.
Then, there was the idea of rights for the “Negro.” The church said that the “Negro” had more blessings by joining the true church than it would get in any other church. They could be baptized after all. It was just that they couldn’t hold any leadership positions, go to the temple, etc. But church leaders did not support equal rights. Church members were still arguing whether blacks were fence sitters in the pre-existence or whether there was another reason they were still unfit to be treated equally. Members of the church were not sympathetic with Martin Luther King. I remember on one occasion a church leader saying, “Martin Luther King is responsible for more deaths than Ho Chi Minh.” Again, I heard cheers for the police when they’d disperse those marching for their rights.
There has been a LOT of revisionist history in the intervening years. You’ll never hear someone say, “I supported the war in Viet Nam.” But, believe me, most active mormons were big supporters. It was the fight against Communism, after all. You’ll never hear someone say, “We knocked on the door, and if they were Negro, we’d just hand them a pamphlet and leave quickly.” Now we hide the fact that the church didn’t allow Blacks to go to the temple, and people can be baptized without ever knowing that fact. You’ll never hear someone say, “Don’t use any artificial means of birth control. It’s against God’s plan.” Now probably 80% (just guessing) of the married women at BYU are “on the pill.”
So, looking back over the span of 45+ years, it’s very easy to see how the mormon church has been on the wrong side of many issues. And, even more troubling in a way, they have slowly accepted, even embraced the very things they spoke out so fervently against---i.e./ missions in Africa, etc. (After all, doesn’t this show that the unchanging “truths” are changing all the time in the mormon church?)
And, looking at the controversies of the time–the new war (at one time very popular with mormons, but now becoming less so), the question of rights for homosexuals, --how can anyone trust anything “the church” comes up with when it has been so wrong on so many fronts in the past?
| Most of us have seen movies about the Amish and their required shunning. But mormons have their own rules of shunning. They just don't use that word and so they think their church doesn't require it. Not true.
The word worthy as used in mormonism is a shunning tool. If some members are worthy, then what about other members and non-members? They are by default put in the unworthy category. Unworthy fellow churchmembers and neighbors. What a nasty concept.
Excommunication and disfellshipment are official acts of shunning.
Forcing family to sit outside for temple weddings is shunning them.
Disallowing priesthood to all females also smacks of shunning.
Levels of heaven for mormons, nonmos, and unworthies? That's shunning.
Then there are the many informal acts of ostracism. Mormons are encouraged to give a cold shoulder to those who don't comply with expectations. The hope is that they'll try harder to earn back the love. Mormons often alternate shunning and lovebombing in an attempt to lure and punish unworthies into submission.
My mother's greatest fear as a mormon was that the family might be ostracised or lose their church standing. Does this happen in other organizations? Yes, but that doesn't make it any easier for those who suffer mormon shunning.
Of course some of us long to be shunned permanently if we've suffered longterm fake fellowshipping. I'd much rather be left alone to live my life than to be harassed.
| Thank you, Steve Benson, SL Cabbie, Buddhist punk, and others who gave me one of the best birthday presents, (11 JULY) I've gotten, which is an intelligent discussion on historical truth regarding US History.
One way to correct a wrong is to expose it for what it is, which is why so many of us US History Teachers/Students (for we are always learning) cover the bigger picture than what is given in history textbooks.
What's this got to do with this board? We're all at various stages of questioning the validity of the Morg which played a major part in our lives, even to the point of determining our life's course and that of our posterity. On this board, we pummel and pound out the truth about a system which, in many cases, controlled our lives right down to our underwear!
When the light bulb of truth goes on in our heads about the Morg, our feelings range from rapture to total depression. Many of us grieve that our TBM relatives and friends are unwilling to even question the obvious inconsistencies of Morg doctrine which is based on the whims on men, not divine revelation. Why can't they see the truth as we have?
The history and doctrine of the Morg, just as with US History, has been so skewed by those who have an agenda to continue to control the minds and lifestyles of others, it requires that we on this board continue to dig for and expose the truth. IMHO, our search for truth has made us all better people.
I've read the heart-breaking histories of so many on this board whose lives and those of their children were controlled or altered by "those in authority" in the Morg who have spent their lives sanitizing history, doctrines, and practices. Sometimes, I sit in front of this screen reading, slowly shaking my head in amazement at those of you who have survived decades of abuse at the hands of "The Brethren" and their minions. And, yes, your survival reminds me of my matriarchal ancestors who survived the Seminole Wars, those who survived the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow Laws, segregation, and so many others. Survival is often the last act of defiance. You strive and succeed at living well in spite of all the doom and gloom "prophecies" thrown at you by TBMs and Morg hierarchy because you dare to question their validity. Living well is your best revenge against a system hell-bent on destroying your souls, spirits, essence, whatever you want to call it.
Truth in history is often ugly, but that attribute can cause us to shrink back in horror and prompt us to change for the better what should have been obvious had we not have been caught up in the web of historical deceit.
Decades ago, many people knew in their hearts that segregation and racial prejudice were wrong. However, it wasn't until people saw that ugliness for what it really was when Emmett Till's mother had an opened-casket funeral for her teenaged son who was beaten, shot dead, tied to a cotton gin fan, and dumped in a river. That's the ugliness of history in America. Church history is equally ugly to read about or see in September Dawn the killing of the innocents and the deliberate process to "sanitize" it and hide its truth by hiding the few survivors among the very people who tried to annihilate them, all in the name of their god. It's better to expose the Morg and history for what it really was and is, lest it be our testicles nailed to the ward rafters for ignoring truth.
| I have contemplated long and hard about why people believe different things given the same information. I have also spoken to a few counselors and psychologists to gain some insight. This is the best as I can put everything together...
Why do I see through the deceit and control of the church, and my wife uses that same info as a faith builder? If I had the answer, maybe I could change minds...Maybe I could communicate better? Maybe things would be different. Well, I think I have it….you won’t like it…I don’t at least.
The simple truth is people will believe what they want to believe. Some people need the fuzzy protection of the church to satisfy something in their life. Others just don't want to abide by the rules of the church and find any way out. I however believe I have found the truth and am as close to a middle man as they get…I wanted the truth. I believe that the church covers up and hides information from its investigators and that in its self would be enough proof that it is not true (no way Christ would do that, right?). Then add the rest of the evidence that debunks the church and we have ourselves an answer that is BEYOND doubt. But for a true believer, that is not enough.
So, how can I reach a TBM (True Blue Mormon) if no matter what I say, they will never listen to a word of it? Simple answer is you can't, at least not until a drastic change occurs... one in which the church protects against.
First what is this change and how does the church protect against it? You may have heard while in the church to read your scriptures and pray always, or to go to the temple as often as possible to help "build your testimony" or seek answers. I got this same answer when I first started to question. “Oh, you don’t believe? Then read, act, and pray until you believe!”. This submerges people in an environment that makes it harder for people to see the truth, conviences them of the “truth”, or makes it harder to "fall away". It's a basic control technique used for thousands of years. After all, when something becomes a part of your culture or when you are exposed to it on a daily basis you are less likely to deny it. The change is that they need to see outside of the church in order to see the true picture, and the bear trap of the church has the TBM locked in.
So how do you help those around you caught in the trap? There is no simple solution, but here are a few ways.
1. Turn the church against itself.
If you point out all the issues from church based websites (the only thing they will look at) in a tactful manner, you may be able to show them some light.
2. Take the person out of the churches control.
This does not help initially as they will probably see you as the advisory, but in the long run if you can show them small things like coffee for instance are not bad, you might be able to reach them and share information.
3. Spark curiosity
The idle mind is the devils playground. (To a TBM this is going to be a literal statement!) Ask the, questions about things that they cannot answer on the spot. Most Mormons don’t know about where the temple ceremony came from, or the MMM for instance. Couple this with the church’s silent stance (FAIR doesn’t count since if they are wrong the defense will be “it didn’t come from the prophet!”) and conflicting statements through-out the years and you will hopefully cause them to want to find the truth.
So far I have been unsuccessful with all 3 (even though a lot of bee successful) and that is because for some individuals, you are not battling against the church. You are battling against social peer pressure (the main reason people don’t bolt out of the temple at the first sign of trouble), cultural backgrounds (it’s all they know!), and family members who will step in and cause problem with their exit. This is a fear tactic that causes a lot of people to block out everything and controls their actions before you have even spoke. Christ like? Yeah, right.
Sadly, I have come to realize I have lost the battle. I will never win in my situation. My wife does not have the strength to even listen to the truth because it would cause her to change and to face the hundreds of trials to come thanks to our neighbors, friends, and family.
Therefore she will stick her fingers in her ear, and block everything out. Some of us here on this forum are the same way…Living the lie for a simpler life.
Just a small insight of what I have learned in a few of the hardest weeks of my life. Again, thanks for being here and listening.
| In my study and research, I determined that it is imperative that I remember that religions are predominately, God Myths.
They are based on faith in supernatural, metaphysical claims and a lot of superstitions, visions and magical thinking.
That is how religion works. They are not based on facts. It is pointless to require ...... faith in ...facts! Only faith is needed.
That's the beauty of religions. Most of them have survived by word of mouth, histories written down many years after the claims, or strictly a verbal retelling of the claims, legends, miracles, etc. There are thousands of religions that follow this pattern.
If they didn't follow the pattern, they would most likely, fade away. They keep their traditions alive with their music, literature, history, costuming, art, etc. It's handed down from generation to generation, sometimes dozens of them.
Is it really a deception to claim a vision, or a "supernatural eye" experience? To "SEE" something spiritually? No, of course not! That is how faith based beliefs are sustained. Human beings have believed in some kind of higher power,deity, creator, savior, for eons. It's probably hard-wired into us. We believe those we trust. It's human nature.
My position in regards to religion in general and Mormonism specifically is that I have no need to base my World View and belief system on these faith based claims. None of them are important to me anymore.
There are many ideas/notions/teachings that promote human decency. I subscribe to those.
That is clearly not true for a good portion of humanity however. The belief in angels, and a deity is not dead. And, it won't die. The concept of a deity-God won't die in the minds of human beings.
I don't believe in the claims of the LDS Church because they do not meet my criteria for standing up to scrutiny. At a minimum, I would like some still standing places, or some human beings from the Book of Mormon, for instance, that have practiced the teachings and have handed them down. I'm stuck with mostly imaginary people, places and things. Interesting legends and stories --mostly borrowed and plagiarized.
The beauty of Mormonism is that it is a typical God Myth: beliefs from many sources are borrowed and plagiarized and interwoven to create a unique American God Myth that because of the power of the belief by faith through generations of believers is alive today.
I find no fault with the notion of beliefs as a God Myth. That is what God Myths are about. I found no fault with belief in them as a member for several decades.
I did what parents do, they teach their children their chosen belief system, generally that's a strong belief in a deity of some sort, along with the rituals that mark important stages in their lives: birth, coming of age, marriage, death, etc.
Mormonism does a nice job of marking these stages with their own specific rituals. They were important to me and our family at the time. (Most of us do not participate in them anymore, but some have chosen other types of religious rituals that they prefer.)
I am certainly not angry with myself for believing in a God Myth -- my upbringing in Christianity, Spiritualism and Mormonism are rich in experiences and faith based notions. They played heavily into how I became the person I am today.
Instead of lies, fraud, hoax, I prefer to categorize the LDS Church as a generational, cultural religion with it's own traditions like most others: a God Myth created by a charismatic leader claiming metaphysical, supernatural, mystical, visions believed by faith.
I formed these conclusions after reading:
I recommend reading: "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell. It opened my eyes to how humanity has been creating God Myths that are typically generational, cultural, societal, familial, based in each specific tribe (or group of humans.)
- The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
- Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
- Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Campbell is an interesting name - it has a correlation to Sidney Rigdon and the early Mormons and their connection to Cambellites. A little reading of his background shows that they bounced from religious group to group as a matter of course. The same thing happened at the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. The members found ways to break off and adapt the beliefs in different ways. Some are alive today.)
The more I become informed, and understand the hundreds of religious belief systems in the world, (some still being practiced) the better I understand the nature of our humanness and our need to find a way to explain our lives and find comfort within our specific human tribe.
And, that's all just fine with me.
| Tuesday’s “Talk of the Nation” program on PBS discusses the phenonemon of “backfire” in people’s response to facts that contradict their strongly held beliefs.
"We’d like to believe that most of what we know is accurate and that if presented with facts to prove we’re wrong, we would sheepishly accept the truth and change our views accordingly.
"A new body of research out of the University of Michigan suggests that’s not what happens, that we base our opinions on beliefs and when presented with contradictory facts, we adhere to our original belief even more strongly."
The discussion centered on political beliefs, but I think it holds for other strongly held beliefs, such as religious beliefs. The original paper is at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bnyhan/nyhan-reifler.pdf, and the abstract explains:
"We conducted four experiments in which subjects read mock news articles that included either a misleading claim from a politician, or a misleading claim and a correction. Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a “backfire effect” in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question."
The authors note:
"Recent work has shown that most citizens appear to lack factual knowledge about political matters (see, e.g., Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996) and that this deficit affects the issue opinions that they express (Althaus 1998, Kuklinski et al. 2000, Gilens 2001). Some scholars respond that citizens can successfully use heuristics, or information shortcuts, as a substitute for detailed factual information in some circumstances (Popkin 1991; Sniderman, Brody and Tetlock 1991, Lupia 1994; Lupia and McCubbins 1998)."
In other words, when we lack factual knowledge, we fill in the blanks with shortcuts that adhere to our political beliefs. I’m reminded of the woman who said that she opposed the healthcare bill because it took away American’s rights. When asked specifically which parts of the bill did that, she couldn’t answer. This of course happens on both sides of the political spectrum, as the authors note.
During the program, I was thinking about how we do this with our religious beliefs, too. Think of average LDS church members who aren’t well versed in church history and apologetics. When confronted with problematic information they are unfamiliar with, many will fill in the blanks according to a “faithful” approach. I think we doubters or exmos are all familiar with the responses we have gotten to the issues that bother us: it’s an “anti-Mormon” lie, we don’t know the real story, there’s nothing to be troubled about, etc.
One problem is that facts are not shared in a vacuum but rather are thrown into a highly contested environment.
"People typically receive corrective information within “objective” news reports pitting two sides of an argument against each other, which is significantly more ambiguous than receiving a correct answer from an omniscient source. In such cases, citizens are likely to resist or reject arguments and evidence contradicting their opinions – a view that is consistent with a wide array of research (e.g. Lord, Ross, and Lepper 1979; Edwards and Smith 1996; Redlawsk 2002; Taber and Lodge 2006)."
In the same way, people get information about problematic church issues that is argued over, defended, and spun by both sides. Forced to choose a side, most will side with their previously held beliefs (in this sense Scott Lloyd is right that it’s a choice to believe). It’s not surprising that very few people exposed to criticism of the LDS church “switch sides.”
They also note something I’ve known for many years: “The least informed people expressed the highest confidence in their answers; … providing the relevant facts to respondents had no effect on their issue opinions.”
In the end, it was the person’s ideology, not the truth of the information presented, that determined the person’s understanding of “facts”:
"Political beliefs about controversial factual questions in politics are often closely linked with one’s ideological preferences or partisan beliefs. As such, we expect that the reactions we observe to corrective information will be influenced by those preferences. In particular, we draw on an extensive literature in psychology that shows humans are goaldirected information processors who tend to evaluate information with a directional bias toward reinforcing their pre-existing views (for reviews, see Kunda 1990 and Molden and Higgins 2005)."
So far, they’re just talking about confirmation bias, which we see daily on the message boards. But the authors show that, in some cases, facts that contradict one’s beliefs might actually strengthen those beliefs:
"Individuals who receive unwelcome information may not simply resist challenges to their views. Instead, they may come to support their original opinion even more strongly – what we call a “backfire effect."”
They suggest that the effort that people expend to argue against those facts reinforces the belief:
"We follow Lodge and Taber (2000) and Redlawsk (2002) in interpreting backfire effects as a possible result of the process by which people counterargue preference-incongruent information and bolster their preexisting views. If people counterargue unwelcome information vigorously enough, they may end up with “more attitudinally congruent information in mind than before the debate” (Lodge and Taber 2000: 209), which in turn leads them to report opinions that are more extreme than they otherwise would have had."
I think we’ve all seen this in some of our interaction on the Internet. I sometimes think that I participated on apologetic boards as a believer as a way to bolster my faith, believing that if I could find reasonable responses to criticism, I could still believe. I particularly liked this quote from the NPR program from Nyhan:
"And what’s interesting is in some of these cases, it’s the people who are most sophisticated who are best able to defend their beliefs and keep coming up with more elaborate reasons why 9/11 was really a conspiracy or how the weapons of mass destruction were actually smuggled to Syria or whatever the case may be.
"So this isn’t a question of education, necessarily, or sophistication. It’s really about, it’s really about preserving that belief that we initially held."
All of this means that it’s extremely difficult to reconsider one’s cherished beliefs, even in the face of contradictory facts. I’m of the opinion that a shift in paradigm–to borrow from Thomas Kuhn–only comes when the facts overwhelm one’s beliefs.
Some apologists sneer at ex-Mormons for believing that the evidence against the truth-claims of Mormonism is overwhelming, but I would imagine that for most of us, the information is overwhelming; otherwise we never would have changed our belief systems.
| We talk a lot about the Mormon obsession with seeming happy, which they rarely are. Apparently you're not allowed to even joke about the word "happy" now, if I'm correctly interpreting some of my TBM family.
My seven year old was in a grumpy mood a few weeks ago, so I was being annoyingly cheerful around him to give him a hard time. After awhile of this, he snapped at me. "Who do you think I am? Mr... Happy Guy??" It was so funny I burst out laughing, and so did he. Since then, I've been calling him Mr. Happy Guy from time to time when I want a laugh out of him.
So, I told this story to some TBM family members, thinking it would be a lighthearted story, and they went ballistic. They tried to guilt me about my son being a "child of divorce" and how he must struggle to be happy. I said that's just ignorant. It's like you're always walking on eggshells with these people, not knowing what you're going to say that will set them off.
I think it was the word "happy." They try so hard to be happy using methods that they know aren't going to work, but they think they need to do anyway as a matter of faith. Then it doesn't work, and they feel betrayed but unable to place the blame where it belongs. So, they blame themselves which just continues the downward spiral. Happiness is something they pursue so hard and yet it's always out of reach. Mormon leaders are constantly talking about it. "Happy" has become a trigger word that you can't even joke about.
That's how it seems to me anyway.
| On the heels of a recent post about the Aba, Nigeria, temple closing and a missionary couple in Guatemala being afraid to leave their compound, I watched Anthony Bourdain in Liberia last night. The country is slowly emerging from a long civil war. The infrastructure is in shambles, the economy is awful, but people are doing what they can to cope and get back to something resembling normalcy. This is a too-common story in Africa. And it's a situation the LDS church is totally unprepared and philosophically unwilling to help.
The show told of a turning point moment in the Liberian civil war. Fighting in the capital made its way to the central market. The markets are run completely by women. Powerful women. Tired of running away, the women took a stand against militiamen, unarmed. They shouted them down and, to shame the men, stripped off their clothes and stood naked before them. Can you imagine the brethren trying to wrap their heads around that? Oh, and the president of Liberia is now a woman.
An important hub of male life are small clubs where they play Scrabble, drink strong tea, read the papers and discuss important topics like politics and the economy. Imagine trying to convince a Liberian that he's wasting time and breaking the WOW in his club and what he really needs to do is put on a tie and sit in priesthood meeting so he can listen a canned lesson (no debating, please).
The show also talked about Liberia is profoundly Christian and how the churches -- most of them small nondenominational evangelical groups -- are critical to the mental well being of the believers. They talked to a minister whose church is in what was once the worst neighborhood in the capital. He talked about God's forgiveness and how it heals people who suffer. He's down there in the literal and metaphorical dirt with people, giving comfort and support, not grilling them about their worthiness. And, of course, their worship service was full of energetic singing and dancing. Imagine potential converts going from that to the dreary snoozefest of the proper LDS meeting.
Then Bourdain went way "off the map" to a typical village where they live pretty much the same way they have for centuries, except with T-shirts and plastic dishes. Here their Christianity takes a back seat to animism and a belief that devils control their world -- in good ways and well as bad. It's a complex, deeply rooted belief system that one can't just toss aside to become a proper Mormon.
Africa was supposed to be the bold new frontier once the brethren decided blacks are no longer cursed. They had a little flush of success (zero to ANYTHING would be a success). The brethren probably imagined all they had to do was show up with The One True Gospel®, white shirts and ties, tell a nice story, dunk some people and, presto! The LDS church doesn't really know how to minister to people. It's not what they do. They command an organization, direct the troops, extract conformity. You serve the church, the church doesn't serve you. Help people deal with hard-core tragedy? Create a safe harbor in a world or chaos? Interact on a deeply personal level with people, putting them first before some rigid institution? Getting their suits dirty? Yeah, right.
| I envision the LDS corporation as a two-part entity that presents the best possible facade with a hidden interior reality. Any metaphor will do: Jekyll and Hyde, the wolf in sheep's clothing, shell game--anything that premutates into "heads I win, tails you lose." Anything that takes the elements of worldly reality (money, real estate) and promises a postponed "next-world" reward system but gives nothing in kind for the exchange of cash. The institution is in trouble when the structures of both the facade and the core reality are simultaneously failing.
Let's look first at the inner core. The LDS corporation has been about bean counting since it monetized itself a century ago, and the failure of the Kirtland bank (ponzi scheme) gave an early paradigm. Its leadership has been gradually replaced with money people (TSM the MBA). I bet their bean counters begin financial analyses every Monday morning and the numbers reach the highest floor of the COB by the mid-afternoon Coke break. I am sure the trends are down, especially since the financial collapse of 2008.
And now for the outer core. In the long term, organized religions are losing participating members. The churches in Europe emptied out in the post-WWII years, and for about 20 years the "golden converts" in Europe have been culled from migrant populations. The corporation has harvested the "ripest" fields; the third world is the final frontier of the Judeo-Christian churches, and the LDS church is not the only Anglo-European church to realize that the tithes of third-world members don't give the corporation a lot of bang for its buck.
The corporation has been speculating on people's gullibility since its inception. We know from objective media that the church took a bath because of its ties with Lehman Brothers.
How can the institution shore itself up *as a business* in such volatile markets? The LDS corporation cannot offshore its manufacturing base, as so many corporations have done in the last decade. How to shore up the cash and assets? Real estate and more business will create a steady stream of revenue regardless of what the membership brings in. The trade-off is that the strategy is slightly visible than layers of businesses and investments with the huge banks and derivatives. The Salt Lake papers have been documenting the Church's real estate purchases and the much-discussed megamall is as hard to hide as the Old Testament's golden calf.
If the corporation has enough revenue bases, the survival of the inner core is assured--and that is what the overt moves in the last couple of years suggests. In these narratives, a tipping point emerges, and the dual identity of the split personae is revealed (why, Grandmother, you have such big ears!) and the core is exposed. As the monetary element becomes more observable, the facade gradually slips off, revealing the very transparency--the bald-faced audacity--of their financial undertaking, exposing both their hubris and their desperation.
Whether by circumstance (global economy) or design, or both, the corporation's actual focus on generating revenue has become increasingly obvious.
| Mormons and those in other belief systems, both religious and political, often fall into the trap created by pluralistic ignorance.
Pluralistic ignorance occurs where the majority of individuals in a group assume that most of their others are different in some way, whilst the truth is that they are more similar than they realize. They thus will conform with supposed norms. When most people do this, the supposed norm becomes the norm.
These situations typically occur when the norms are older than all members of the group or when one member or a small group is dominant and can force their attitudes on the rest of the group.
Before finding online forums filled with thousands of others who questioned the history and tenets of Mormonism, I assumed I was alone. The accounts of numerous others on these forums indicate that this is a very widespread phenomenon in Mormonism and other religions. In Mormonism I believe there is a large element of design and engineered obfuscation. In other belief systems it seems to be more of an artifact of social interactions and human propensities.
Mormonism through the repeated warnings to avoid apostates and "anti-Mormon" materials further propogates pluralistic ignorance. This effectively creates a situation where they control the majority of communication channels, and thus they can affect behavior with misrepresentations, even ones that are in opposition with the target audience’s best interest.
It is much like Buffalo jumping over a cliff. The principle of social proof acts like an automatic pilot in a plane and is usually quite useful for helping us navigate social interactions: we look around to see what others like us are doing, and we behave accordingly. We believe so we can belong. However, sometimes the data input into the automatic pilot is incorrect: sometimes the data has been purposely falsified, like canned laughter today or the use of claqueurs in the Paris opera of the early 19th century. To defend ourselves from the pressures of social proof, as soon as we find evidence of a false response, we are advised to take control away from the automatic pilot. The other common situation when social proof leads us astray is pluralistic ignorance, when a small error in judgment is magnified into something more profound, like a traffic accident that occurs because we are blindly following the actions of others. For Cialdini, the image of the buffalo jump serves as a fitting analogyto conclude the chapter on the powers of social proof as a weapon of influence.
Mormonism is by no means the only organization to exploit this phenomenon. However, in my walk through life I learned much of what I know about social influence through observing Mormonism at work in my own life and the lives of those around me. Since becoming aware of these methods it has become much easier to notice these same types of machinations in advertising, political campaigns, and other such efforts.
| As long as that family member wants to be part of God's "chosen people" (read: Mormon)
See the following article about Tuesday's weekly BYU devotional:
"David Paxman gave an address titled “Zoram and I: Getting Our Stories Straight.” He discussed Zoram’s situation and the various ways he could have reacted, comparing it to the way we respond to different circumstances in our own lives."
The "extraordinary opportunity" to leave his family, life, and everything he knew behind and follow some crazy cult out into the middle of the desert. Do you like how the Mormons spin this story to make them look better?
"Zoram could have seen Nephi as a manhandling, kidnapping liar who caught him in a trap and hijacked his life, forcing him to swear under oath against his will in unfair circumstances to join their group, Paxman said. He would never be able to see his family again or know what could have been."
"Instead, he took courage and became “the beneficiary of an extraordinary opportunity,” Paxman said."
"He had the opportunity to marry a daughter of Ishmael, travel with a prophet’s family and inherit the Promised Land on equal terms with them, though his status in Jerusalem would probably never have afforded him the opportunity, Paxman said. He was able to understand God’s teachings as never before and witness miracles."
I wonder what Zoram's wife and childrend back in Jerusalem might have thought of this fabulous "opportunity" for their husband and father to abandon them?
“What I could have seen as a problem was actually a circumstance the Lord used to bless me and my posterity,” Paxman said, describing how Zoram could have described this event. “Zoram’s story is like all of ours.”
(Of course it is. You can either choose to follow the cult blindly and abandon your non-Mormon family, or you can be cursed by God forever, and have Nephi kill you. Either way this is a lose-lose situation for poor Zoram.)
This kind of cult-think makes me absolutely sick. Do these people not see the damage their words cause others?
And the church says they are all about families together forever. Sure they are all about families, so long as every individual family member buys into the cult 100%. Just tell your Mormon family you disagree with something the church says, or that you are a practicing homosexual, and then watch how much the church is all about bringing a family together.
| I find the following quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson to be interesting and applicable to the way Mormons view Mormonism: “It is with religion as with marriage. A youth marries in haste; afterwards, when his mind is opened to the reason of the conduct of life, he is asked what he thinks of the institution of marriage… ‘I should have much to say,’ he might reply, ‘if the question were open, but I have a wife and children, and all question is closed for me.’
I think the last statement, that “all question is closed for me,” is the epitome of the way in which members of the Mormon Church approach their religion. That mindset is the reason that it is almost impossible to have an intelligent discussion with most Mormons about contradictions within the doctrine, sticky issues, and the questions that inevitably arise due to human thought. The fact that the Mormon Church wants their members to abandon all independent thought and simply succumb to whatever is told them by the Prophet or other church leaders is very disturbing to me. But I have to admit that it took me many, many years to finally get to the point where I could vocalize my issues about the Mormon Church and its doctrines – and so I can understand completely where Mormons are coming from. In most cases, a person cannot be brainwashed incessantly for most of their life without it taking hold, making it very hard for them to vocalize or act on their concerns.
| You pretty much can tell what's important in an organization by what the leaders constantly focus on. In the LDS church it's money. A general conference does not go by without the tithing talk. Also, much effort is dedicated during the busy Christmas season to have tithing settlements. To attend relatives temple weddings you must pay the church. In fact, I can not think of another organized religion that uses weddings to extort money and loyalty out of the relatives. It's pretty sick when you think about it.
Another focus of the church is showing how wealthy they are. No wonder church members are so materialistic buying bigger homes than they really need and adorning them with all sorts of things like harps, grand pianos, church art and such. They are creating a mini version of the church at home and if you have a Steinway instead of a Yamaha piano, you are more blessed because you can afford one.
The church does the same but with huge expensive conference centers with custom built organs and temples all lit up at night. They love to brag about the Austrian chandaliers they all have.
Sure there is talk about Jesus, Heavenly Father, following the commandments, charity ect... but look at what is consistant. It's paying the church money and what that money buys to show off to convince people, the organization is in tune with God because it can put a temple in some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
| So I have been doing some reading lately and I wanted to share some thoughts.
I have read a book called “A Gift From The Stars” written by a man who has some very interesting thoughts on where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going. I particularly liked his insights on why we are here and where we are going and who god is. In his book he references many other books that he has read and accepted at least part of the philosophies of. The other book that I want to talk about is the “Celestine Prophecy”.
A couple of weeks ago I posted my thoughts on organized religion and the violence perpetrated by members of or by the religions themselves. Since I was kind of in that mindset, when I read the first book and read this person’s description of god it rang true for me, at least some of it. I have to admit that even though I do not believe in any organized religion, I still believe in following my heart and feelings in some matters. I recently discovered that I am an empath, which explains many of my life experiences. In an attempt to learn to deal with and use what I consider my gift of empathy, I am learning to understand my “feelings” better.
For a long time after I left the morg, and religion in general, I did not know if I was an Atheist or if I simply did not wish to participate in any of the organized religions in our society today. I could not bring myself to dismiss completely the possibility of a god. Not because I “needed” a higher power to believe in to live my life, simply because I was attempting to decide for myself the questions of where did I come from, why am I here, and where will I go or what will happen to me when I die.
I still do not have a clear picture of the answers to these questions in my mind, but I am beginning to see that certain ideas sound intriguing and I find myself beginning to accept certain philosophies regarding these questions and theories about life. The description given in the first book about the character of god is one that I have held in my mind since before I left the morg. It describes god as a being of complete love, of absolute acceptance, and as a being who does not judge one for their actions because all actions are not classed as good or evil, simply as actions of a higher spiritual vibration or a lower one and that the law of karma is a universal law that will either reward or require payment for those actions. If one chooses to act at a lower spiritual vibration and does something that will require payment to satisfy the law of karma, once that payment is satisfied, the slate is wiped clean and that person can move on towards their ultimate quest, whatever that quest may be. It also speaks ofreincarnation and addresses the purpose for and manner in which reincarnation is governed.
In the second book there is much talk about religion simply because many of the key characters in the book happen to be Catholic priests. However if you read it with an open mind, you can either accept or dismiss the references to religion and it still has a lot of ideas that will make you stop and think. Many of the philosophies presented in the book tie in with many of the same ideas of the first book so for me it was intriguing to read them in sequence to be able to compare those ideas.
My reason for bringing all this up is to reference something I said in my post about organized religion and violence regarding how to break down those religions. In my previous post I made a rather blanket statement saying that organized religion should be done away with that received some disparaging comments from some of you about eliminating organized religion. Those of you who interpreted my statement as saying that organized religion should be abolished by force misunderstood me. To do that would be senseless because it would do nothing more than create martyrs of those religions and give them more power. My thought at that time, and the point I want to make here is this. As people become more enlightened and see the teachings of their religion as being obsolete they will begin to look for answers. As the dictates of the leaders to believe principles simply because the leaders tell them to believe, even though those principles contradict common sense or create hostility or are proven incorrect by scientific fact, the people will begin to gravitate away from those religions searching for answers and eventually leave them altogether. As more and more people leave their chosen religions because of this and fewer join the same religions for the same reasons, the religions will shrink. I think this is happening right now throughout the world. Those of us here are perfect examples of this happening in the morg. I believe that all of the organized religions in existence today will reach a point of critical mass where there are not enough members left to wield control over, where their power and influence are diminished, where they will simply have to admit that they have lost the battle, and they will close their doors and move in a different direction. Granted this will not happen today or tomorrow, but I think that it will happen.
The idea I am referring to mentioned in both of the books is that more and more people today are “seeing the light” so to speak and they are searching for answers to their life questions outside of their belief systems in areas that before now were considered off limits or mystical or occultist. Even the area of quantum theory is opening roads into areas of thought that in the past were considered in these same realms.
My feelings are that many of the answers we are searching for can be found in these areas and that we will find that they are not mystical or occultist but that they are more real and factual than anything we have before now considered. In other words, the idea that thought can produce a physical outcome may soon be discovered to be a quantum physical law that once understood will produce amazing results in the lives of all human beings. It has already been proven that when broken down to the smallest form of an electron, matter does not behave according to the laws of physics currently accepted in the scientific field today. It has been proven that the simple act of observing an electron can change its behavior. So as our minds are expanded and enlightened to new discoveries and new insights, who can say what will happen to religion in the not too distant future?
The one thing I know is that my take on this “new age” of thinking are consideration for others, love, harmony, and saving the Earth are the primary goals and desires being fostered and promoted. This is in direct opposition to those religious zealots who say that abandoning their religions will cause the world to deteriorate into chaos and violence and mayhem. Just the opposite is occurring because those following the path of the “new age” of thought and belief are genuinely fostering the ideals those religions tout on the surface but completely ignore on the back side as they promote hostility for all not belonging to their particular sect or who do not share their way of thinking. It is my hope that all people of the world continue to question their antiquated belief systems and in their search for truth find what I see as the answers to our worlds problems in the values and beliefs now being discussed in the numerous books such as the two I have mentioned here, and the information becoming available almost daily that adds to these values and beliefs.
| Growing up in the church over the years I was often surprised at the in-congruency of the overall project of mormonism (perfect everyone, convert everyone... blah blah blah) - and the solutions offered to actually do those things. Now that I'm no longer a believer I can't help but make fun of it. So if you think of the church in terms of a cult-like organization with wannabe supernatural powers, maybe the instruction manual would look something like this:
Does anything come to mind from the peanut gallery?
- Write your testimony in a paper back book of mormon and give it away. Never underestimate the magical power of a paperback book of mormon with your testimony in it. Give it to your neighbors and they'll magically convert. Give it to strangers and like a seed, the book of mormon will grow into a conversion.
- Testify - Its magical. No matter what somebody asks about you can always respond with your testimony.
- Answer the question they should have asked. Example - Did Joseph Smith marry young girls and women who were married to other dudes? (Remember you've got to answer the question they should have asked, so think of a question they should have asked like, 'Will this person join the church if he knows JS was a serial philanderer?') Answer: No. (See how easy that is!) (Isn't it marvelous?)
- Plate of cookies. Nothing is quite so powerful to nudge someone toward conversion, tell them you care, return a borrowed dish, or reactivate the apostate as a plate of cookies. Don't underestimate the spiritual power embedded in chocolate chips, or sugar sprinkles. Don't make the mistake of thinking that there are reasonable substitutes. If you take a plate of oreos as a time saver that just won't do.
- Little baggies of cheerios - nothing hushes up a fidgety kid quite like em.
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