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TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 3
Tal Bachman is an internationally recognized singer-songwriter from Vancouver, Canada. Raised strictly in the Mormon church, Tal spent two years in South America performing missionary work and learning Spanish. Later, Tal resigned his membership in the LDS Corporation.
| Imagine we were all born as crack babies, and we were continually given crack, unbeknownst to us, as we grew to maturity. In time, we started taking the crack ourselves (say in pill form), because all those we trusted most in the world told us those pills were in fact "super vitamins" that would enable us to become far better, and favoured, people, than others who didn't take them.
Because those pills were first given to us from those we loved and trusted most in the world, we never doubted the whole story behind them. But alas, those very pills affected our own judgment, precluding even the possibility of doubt in many cases, just as it did those who in turn had given them to us, and in turn, those who gave it to them, and on back, until we get to the original drug dealer who, of course, at some level consciously misrepresented those pills. But that didn't matter to him - after all, he had long since cared about fealty to the truth. Why, fealty to the truth would have endangered his, and his family's, survival. And what's a lie or two compared to going to bed hungry?
The drug supply company is ruled by a CEO and board of directors, who employ a team of salaried drug defenders. The drug they push has been exposed innumerable times by innumerable sources in innumerable settings, but that doesn't matter to the defenders, nor to most addicts under the drug's influence (who largely remain unaware of the exposures anyway). Defenders' "research" is generated from within their ranks and would not only never pass "peer review", but LITERALLY would not even pass review from an 8th grade chemistry student. But the drug defenders don't care - after all, they've got a job to do, and in fact, they and their wives and kids are as high on the stuff as we are. It is often unclear to what extent they are conscious that the pill isn't a vitamin at all. Maybe they know, maybe they don't - but most likely, since the drug has such pleasing effects, they just don't care.
And then one day, we discover to our shock that the vitamin isn't a vitamin at all, but a drug which has debilitated us at the same time we thought it was making us and our children strong and healthy, and in some ways, happy. Maybe it even did make us happy in some ways - but the cost of that "happines" (which as it turns out would have been available to us anyway) was to close off to us possibilities for even greater happiness than we ever could have imagined, just like any other addictive drug.
So, a bunch of us begin the often painful process of weaning ourselves from the fraud that was the "super vitamin", and adjusting ourselves to dealing with average human beings and life situations without that mind-altering crutch (just like those who've been addicted to heroin or alchohol from a young age). Recovery entails everything from serious, soul-searching discussions about the most personal of problems, to lightly shooting the breeze or even making fun of all the silly things we used to tell ourselves while addicted.
But drug defenders see nothing funny in anyone recovering from this drug addiction. No - anyone who publicly acknowledges that the "super vitamin" is a fraud from an original drug pusher poses a threat to the pleasing fictions the drug facilitates. And this makes the defenders angry, just as much as a cop stopping a local street addict from getting a fix makes them angry. And so they will say and do the most ludicrous, embarrassing things to those who happen to think drug addiction isn't all that great a thing (just as we used to) in order to maintain their own ego-flattering, drugged out lives. They must must make war against any source who threatens the believability of the fiction that the drug is a super vitamin, and that the first drug pusher did not deliberately misrepresent his magic pills.
But in the end, nothing that any of the drug pushers say can make their drug anything other than - a drug. It is a drug, not a super vitamin pill. It is a fraud. No amount of rancour or frothy indignation or trespassing or psychotic behaviour can change that, because there is such a thing as physical reality, and the "super vitamin" exists within its parameters, and the fact is - the super vitamin is not what its inventor claimed it to be, rather like the Book of Abraham isn't what its inventor claimed it to be, and the Book of Mormon isn't, and the First Vision isn't, and Section 132 isn't, and Zelph isn't. They are just...not. So it is with the pill.
So, if we were recovering from a terrible addiction to an actual drug, and so left all our drug buddies behind, all the drug dealers we knew (though they still may have no idea the pill is a drug) - why the hell would we care one whit about what criticisms those still drugged-out drug defenders offered about the effort to construct and live a life WITHOUT DRUGS?
A million articles and essays about how the drug isn't what it claims wouldn't be enough for me; but one response to how dumb or "evil" our old drug buddies think drug recovery efforts like the RFM board are, is too much. I don't see why we should care at all. Life can be beautiful and wonderful and inspiring and soul-enriching - and DRUGS SUCK, because in the name of ENHANCING all those properties of life, they DIMINISH THEM.
Just say no to drugs - and for God's sake, let's ignore our old drug dealers when they get angry that they can't keep us addicted anymore.
We are free.
Just a thought.
| It all began when I remembered what I did when I decided I wanted to learn how to write songs. I'd grown up listening to tons of stuff from my dad's humongous record collection, but now it was time to focus. I went out and bought the entire Beatles catalog on CD, got a stopwatch, a notebook, my guitar, and began deconstructing every song. I'd time how long the intros were, how long till they got to the chorus or payoff, map out the bars, write out the lyrics to see how they developed themes and storylines, orchestration and production techniques, etc. And then, I sat down and wrote my very first complete pop song ("Angeline"). It wasn't great, but it was something. I continued doing this, even buying orchestral scores and following along with classical pieces, until I felt like I could write consistently good things without much effort.
So, I was already familiar with Joseph Smith's "catalog"; so in an effort to really prepare myself adequately for founding my own religion and religious doctrine, I read through the Hymns of the Rig-Veda, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita, the Life of the Buddha, the Dhammapada, Jaina Sutras, the Analects of Confucius, Mencius, Chuang-Tze, the Zendavesta, the Bible, the Talmud, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Spinoza, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, the Koran, Bahai stuff, Seventh-day Adventist stuff, the Catholic apocryphal stuff, papal encyclicals, and dozens of other pieces. Then, I climbed up to the top of Mount Tuam, on Salt Spring Island, BC, with my notepad and pen, crossed my legs, closed my eyes, and waited for the magic to hit me.
Then I heard a voice say, "Pick up your pen and write, Talmage". For a moment I thought it was the voice of God, until I realized I was actually talking to myself.
Anyway, the good news is, by the time I was done (where the voice came from "isn't essential to our salvation"), I had a brand new religion all sketched out. So here, breaking the news on RFM like Schwarzenegger announcing his gubernatorial run on Jay Leno, I present a brand new religion...
The great thing about Ignorantism is that one can learn all about it in under three seconds: there's nothing to learn because I, its founder, don't know anything of cosmic importance, the end.
There are no "scriptures", because I could find no grounds on which to regard my own writings, or anyone else's writings, as somehow superior or "more sacred" than, say, a Charles Schulz comic strip or a guest op-ed piece by a concerned citizen. So, long story short, in Ignorantism we don't have "scripture memorization" or anything like that - because we don't even have scriptures, because we don't know what they are or what they should be. "Scripture" then just kind of means, whatever material that means the most to any individual person, from wherever it comes. It could be a Danielle Steele novel, the Vince Lombardi bio, Matthew 5, whatever.
There are also no worship services, mainly because it has been totally impossible for me to find any grounds for thinking that one day of the week might be intrinsically more holy than another. Every day can be as holy or profane as we make it - whatever "holy" or "profane" are supposed to mean, which I guess would be up to every individual. For the record, repeated attempts at imploring the creator of the universe to announce his favourite day yielded nothing but disheartening silence.
And speaking of the creator, another reason there are no worship services is because I was unable to get any farther than child-like wonder about whether there was a God or not. I think there is, but I don't know. "Ignorants" therefore have no idea whether there is or isn't, how many gods, what sex, nothing. This means we don't even have any idea whether we should worship anything, especially anything personally invisible; therefore, there are no worship services. Obviously, then, there aren't any formal prayers either, except for whatever prayer anyone wants to make to anything, including trees, stars, Zeus, Jehovah, or themselves. No one knows whether those are bad or good or neither, so really, it's whatever you want.
Another result of all this is that there are no commandments. Sure, I could issue my own - but then, I was also unable to find any reason to believe that my own commands had any greater intrinsic validity than the desire of someone else to not obey them. So, other than your basic "don't hurt people, try to make the world a better place", etc., something you might find on any Hallmark card and which everyone already claims to believe in already, there's nothing in Ignorantism.
In fact, I'm not even sure if the Hallmark card cliches stem from anything other than the necessities of survival - that puts even the cliches in jeopardy. See, in Ignorantism, we have absolutely no idea about this kind of thing; there is only the vague feeling that if there were a creator, and he or it or they or she was really all that concerned about tea or blacks or gays or wine or anything else, there'd be at least as much announcement as a local change in by-law gets in the newspaper.
As it is, there's nothing except three thousand year old claims from guys who took sexual slaves and killed infants, that they talked with the creator and "this is what he said". Gee - that's not suspicious. Problem - If you'd take a sexual slave and kill innocent infants - you're exactly the kind of guy who would exaggerate or invent a story about hanging around with GOD on top of a mountain. But if that weren't bad enough, we don't even know who the chronicler of these stories is, or how much he invented, etc. So, as Ignorantists, we remain as though those supposedly sacred accounts had never been written, because we can't find any reason to credit them, and overwhelming reason to disbelieve them.
We have no idea how we got here, what we're doing on planet earth, what happens after death, nothing.
In short, in Ignorantism, there is no doctrine, no deity, no worship services or formalized ritual, no scriptures, no "leader", no nothing, because any reliable understanding of a realm beyond the physical appears to be impossible to gain. And perhaps the strongest proof of that is that every religion which has claimed to have gained it, including Joseph's religion, has also CHANGED and REVISED OUT OF EXISTENCE and "drastically augmented" over the years its purported "understanding", thereby forever and inevitably torpedoing any reason they might ever have had to be credited. And no amount of "continuing revelation" can spin away that fact.
So, for all those interested, our first worship service will be...never; and no, we definitely do not have any pamphlets to send out.
Ignorantly yours (what else?),
| Is there anything sillier than the thought-terminating cliche offered up whenever we detect an irresolvable contradiction in Mormon theology: "that's not essential to our salvation"? What kind of defense is that? And where is the "inessentialist" impulse really taking the thing?
How long until the question of whether the Book of Mormon is "a revelation given to Joseph by God" or a literal translation of an already written account, becomes "not essential to our salvation"?
Large segments of the story of the fall have already become "non-essential to our salvation", despite them being in the LDS standard works (implying that they are essential), simply I think now because of their unbelievability (age of the earth, time of the fall, Adam as "primal parent of the human race", etc.).
And I guess the temple penalties, after 160 years, turned out not to be "essential to our salvation", either, after being essential before (no problem there). And I guess whether the Book of Abraham is an actual "translation", as Joseph said it was, has now also been deemed "not essential to our salvation". I guess also that the doctrine of the Godhead found in the Lectures on Faith, which was canonized until 1921 or whatever, was also "not essential to our salvation". And this being the case, I guess it only makes sense to regard the CURRENT doctrine on God as easily revocable, and therefore "not necessarily essential to our salvation", either.
I guess it's also "not essential to our salvation" to know whether God was once a man, even though this concept can't be extricated from the whole fabric of Mormon theology, including the atonement of Jesus, without destroying it all.
Will there be plural marriage in heaven, as per the declarations of numerous prophets? "Not essential to our salvation". "Why did God punish Adam and Eve for doing something which He forced them to do?" - "Not essential to our salvation", etc.
I'm wondering if there are any other "essential" religions out there so eagerly declaring gigantic, canonized sections of itself "not essential to salvation" as the church we once all belonged to...
How long until Joseph's religion in effect declares itself in toto, if it hasn't already, "not essential for salvation", in order to keep from collapsing under the weight of its own internal contradictions and falsified claims?
I think I know the answer: it's not essential to our salvation to know when...:P
| Sure, the three hour block was too long...
Sure, the high councilman talks were boring...
Sure, some of us found ourselves feeling hollow or confused or unable to meet expectations...
But cults have their attractions. Speaking for myself, I felt belonging; I felt I had access to answers to life's profoundest questions; I had status within the church, though I wasn't conscious of that being an attraction at the time.
My kids had friends. The picnics were fun, the work activities, the ball games. Even now I would say that teaching Gospel Doctrine for two years was one of the great experiences of my life, as was running a growing branch as a (hyperactive) member of the branch presidency. I saw my ideas implemented, and what joy when they worked!The Christmas party we threw for the community (on Salt Spring Island, BC), Christmas of 2002, was completely LEGENDARY.
I slaughtered one of my sheep, as did another branch member, and we roasted them over a spit...We'd rented this hall which we totally made into an ancient Palestinian village (my sister was the activities chair). We had booths inside for all the kids and adults to go to, each one doing some activity common to Jewish life 2000 years ago. This is no lie - my sister and I did most of the planning for this thing, and we made sure that all the food was totally authentic for the time of Jesus. We had the unleavened breads and the olives and dates and goat cheeses, almonds, all the spices, etc. We had real papyrus flown in from Egypt (I know that's probably hard to believe, but most of my stories are - still they're true...), and all the kids could get a sheet of papyrus with their names written on them using Aramaic letters. We had incense and candle lights all over, people dressed in period costume, and we had a stereo playing a CD of slow, traditional Jewish folk songs. I could go on but it was a complete full-tilt extravaganza which I think was an amazing success, and the whole island was invited. THAT was fun.
As a member, I often thought that people who left were either ignorant or wished to commit sin - they just didn't like church or whatever. The truth is that being a member of the church was the defining feature of my entire life and consciousness, and I never even contemplated the possibility of living one second of my life as a non-Mormon until those last moments when it all clicked, after two torturous years of finding problems I'd never really considered carefully or thought through. And literally, those first moments of realization were the worst of my life.
It was only after this experience that I realized how blind I'd really been about those who had left. I also knew that those I loved, who were still in, or others, would never believe me, that they would think all the same silly things I used to think about me, and nothing I said would ever matter. And in fact, that is just the case, I think - it doesn't matter what I or anyone says to people out in cyberspace or in person who have not yet come face to face with the questions: "if the church were a fraud, would I really want to know? And how WOULD I know?". Nothing seems to matter - no facts, no logic, no story, nothing. If "X" damages faith, and you say "X", they literally hear "Y", even though you didn't say it. But X just...it just can't be heard. It's too much. So they hear Y instead, and never even notice, and then don't believe you when you say, "but that isn't even what I'm talking about".
Immunizing ourselves against pain is one of the great tasks of our conscious and unconscious minds - no wonder some part of our psyches can so effectively blind us to that which will hurt us. I guess I can't really blame anyone. The truth is, finding out you've been wrong about everything that was most important to you in life really, really hurts. It hurts even now. Even after two years, I still feel often like I'm seeing stars, though of course I have also encountered more and more joys outside church life.
I guess all I meant to say on this post was that churches/cults do have their attractions; and the stories they tell can move us so powerfully, take such hold of our psyches, that they can become synonymous with reality itself, and in some cases, impossible to give up even when we know they don't actually add up. Many of those stories made me feel important. In them I found identity and purpose and meaning - and I was so convinced they were all true, that I would have gladly given my life for the church which told them.
But fortunately, the good things I knew in church exist outside of it, including wonderful, life-enriching stories, which have the added advantage of being factual; and while it may take awhile to track them all the good things down, I have no doubt they are out there. And as it happens, all of us have had many moving experiences since walking away from the only church we'd ever known, and a church we'd actually loved though it misrepresented itself.
It is hard not to be wistful sometimes for the flattering feelings we once felt as members of "God's covenant people", with "the true gospel" and all that. But life is, or can be, about so much more than a flattering myth, that in the end there doesn't really seem to be that much to be wistful about. The truth really is good enough.
| I don't know if it's just my faulty computer skills or what, but today I zipped over to www.lds.org to find Pres. Benson's talk, "To the Mothers in Zion", which if I remember right, he delivered not so long after "To the Fathers in Israel" (which is still there in the archives).
But no matter how I searched, I couldn't find "To the Mothers in Zion". My recollection is that this conference talk was pretty direct about the responsibility of mothers to not work outside the home. Where is it?
Normally I wouldn't think much about this, except that a while ago an RFM poster went looking for a General Conference Boyd K. Packer talk (I think it was "To the One"), but which does not appear in the conference record for that session on lds.org. He emailed the church and asked them where it went, and as I recall, the church employee said it "wasn't available anymore online" or something (though you can still get it as a pamphlet).
Is is just my computer illiteracy, or is it possible that Pres. Benson's talk "To the Mothers in Zion" has disappeared, too?
Excerpts from the removed talk:
"Fathers are to preside"
"Mothers are to conceive"
"responsibility of wives is to ‘multiply and replenish the earth,"
"special blessings of a large and happy family"
"have your children and have them early"
"do not curtail the number of your children"
"what is our duty? To prepare tabernacles for them."
"It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can"
"Some women are not able to bear children. God has promised they will be blessed with children in the eternities."
"Through faith, prayers, fasting and special priesthood blessings, many of these sisters have been blessed with children."
"A mother's calling is in the home, not the marketplace."
"The woman is to be an assistant to the husband, but not to earn a living"
"It was never intended by the Lord that married women should compete with men in employment"
"Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment"
"Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the café"
| I'm in LA on a trip, and last night I drove past the temple on Santa Monica Boulevard...then I thought...
Of all the surreal things, it is now the case that if we were to invite Mormon missonaries into our houses and say, "When I went through the temple, the endowment ritual included a penalty which had us enact our own ritual suicides by pretending to slash out our guts, and slashing open our own throats", that they would say, "Those are anti-Mormon lies. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that isn't true". And they would leave, absolutely certain, via the Holy Ghost which had told them so, that no such macabre thing had ever transpired in the temple. (After all, how could it, when the ordinances in the temple are expressions of eternal ritual law?) And what's the MP going to tell the missionary from Guatemala who's only been a member a year and a half if he asks? That yes, we used to recite oaths in pure Adamic and then disembowel ourselves? He'll probably say, "Elder, don't listen to the critics of the church. All they want to do is trip you up".
| In addition to inquiries about the stake president thing since the conference, I've been getting lots of inquiries about my family and the church, and in particular my mom and dad, so I thought maybe I could post something on here about it (if it's too much just delete it). This is a rundown for those curious about what effect the church thing has had on my siblings, parents, and my own family, and where they are with the church and me leaving.
I am the oldest of six. My four sisters are all active, but I think two of them have a hunch that the church isn't quite what we all thought. But whether they ever decide to follow that up or not, I don't know. They don't want to talk with me about the church, so I've just let it go.
My little brother Brigham hasn't gone since he moved out of the house when he was fifteen. That was fifteen years ago. He was kind of the black sheep of the family, whereas I was kind of the "white and delightsome" sheep - RM, married-in-the-temple, a child a year, etc. I always thought he was kind of lost. Turns out he understood a lot more than I did.
In one funny little exchange, we were chatting about how my mother shows no worry about his inactivity because once, my uncle (a Stake President) gave her a blessing in which he promised her that "one day, Brigham would come back to church". So I said kind of playfully, "Do you think you'd ever go back?". And he said, "BRUDDER - WHAT are you TALKING a-bote?! Are you NUTS? We're talking MK ULTRA, brudder, Manchurian candidate, Mormonian candidate. We're talking SHAPE SHIFTING REPTILIANS from outer space brudder! Are you kidding? The thing's a total cult! They're de-looj-a-null. Gonzo, brudder!"
So I said, "Are you going to tell Mom that?". And he said, "What for, brudder? Why not let her just think I will? Who cares? We're talking abote Kolobian LOONS, brudder. She probably wouldn't believe me anyway since Uncle Bob said it in a blessing. Anyway brudder, chock this ote (check this out) - this new watch I gots has a rad little alarm thing...BEEP BEEP BEEP...See?...RIGHT ON!...Brudder, let's go to DQ, brudder. I need the samwich NOW, and there's this cute little filly that works there with red hair...".
Anyway, it's like we're total buddies again.
I have a step-brother, too, who never joined the church. He's a year younger than I am. We got together last time I was in LA to hang, and we really connected for the first time since we were teenagers. He said, "it was always kind of sad when I would visit, because you guys seemed...gone, like there was a wall there or something, like there was nothing there in a way. And now it's like I have my brother back". I wonder sometimes what we were really like.
I have a half-sister, too, who never joined either.
My mother, who works for CES, told me directly to my face earlier this year that even if Joseph Smith had never actually had any golden plates, had never actually been ordained by Peter, James, and John, and did not actually see God and Jesus Christ, that "the church would still be true". And she said it with a strange, and kind of unnerving, frozen smile on her face; and I thought at the time, "There's something weird going on here, I feel like I've seen that strange smile before". And I remembered in that moment I was thinking of the smile on Marshall Applewhite's face, on that video of him they play on Heaven's Gate documentaries. And witnessing that strange smile and the nonsense she uttered in that measured voice, I thought, "What in the hell is this really? What is this? There is no bar here to Jonestown, none."
When I first talked to her months prior to that conversation about the church, I said, "If it wasn't true, would you want to know?" and she said, "I don't know". I asked her later if she still wouldn't want to know if the cost of not knowing was that one of her grandkids came home dead from his mission. I'm still waiting for an answer to that one.
I feel grateful that my mother was concerned enough about my welfare that, soon after I told her what was up, she sent me two books to read to bolster my faith: Dean Jessee's Papers of Joseph Smith, and Bushman's original bio of Joseph Smith. But I'd already read both of them, so I called her on the phone to thank her but to tell her also that I'd read them, and then said though that I would love to discuss them with her, so she could help answer questions I had.
Upon hearing that, she seemed reluctant, and in that moment, I realized something - I blurted out, "Wait a second, Mom - you've never read either of these books, have you?". And do you know that no, she hadn't? And not only that, but once I said that there were things in them that to me raised serious questions about the credibility of Joseph Smith, she then said she WOULDN'T READ THEM. That's right - in that very conversation, she told me she wouldn't read the very books she'd sent for me to read.
So I said, "I have to ask you a serious question, Mom. What am I really supposed to think of the fact that you are sending me books which you claim are faith-promoting, which you've never even read yourself, and then when I ask you to read THOSE VERY BOOKS WITH ME so we can discuss them and you can help me clear up my questions so my faith can be bolstered, you won't because you're scared to? Is THAT supposed to reassure me that this isn't more about our own psyches than it is about communications from the creator of the universe? If these books aren't faith-promoting, why did you send them to me? And if they are faith-promoting, why won't you read them with me?". No answer.
I admit it for all the world to hear - I have a problem. I felt when the church thing all happened, that I really understood my mom for the first time: why it made sense to her to divorce my dad (she came to feel he was a "spiritual danger" to the kids), a move which inflicted so much heartache on all six kids in our family. And that allowed me for the first time to really feel an empathy for her, even an admiration for doing something hard which she thought was right, even though it wasn't.
But over the past year, the Applewhite smiles, the crazy talk about the church still being true even if JS had invented everything, the unwillingness to want to know if it's a fraud even if that means the death of her own grandchild, has really made it difficult to feel any closeness to her at all. That sucks, because we've never really been close. She kicked me out of the house when I was eleven, after the divorce, for reasons she never did explain to me or anyone else (my guess is because I'd asked to be able to spend time with dad, which she had forbid for months [this was prior to the custody trial which, very unusually, she lost in spectacular fashion to my dad]). (For better or for worse, the kicking out episode is described in more detail in the biography of my dad by John Einarson).
So frankly, I grew up (except for a period before and during my mission) not thinking very highly of her. Because of the things she'd done, she represented to me utterly charming, winning manipulation, caprice, limitless self-justification, and obliteration of you to keep her own beliefs going. We could chat and have a few laughs, even connect every once in awhile, but in the end, one had to be on guard.
I suppose the sting of what seemed like an arbitrary, incomprehensible decision to get rid of me as a kid never quite faded (it was probably another one of her revelations which prompted it); and the steeliness I often saw in her afterward, though I grew up at my dad's, and her unwillingness to ever talk about any of those painful things, but rather to just laugh off my attempts to do so dismissively, and the truly abusive things she did, in the name of her and my grandmother's divine revelations, to my little sister (which I have yet to recount in public for my sister's sake, and the memory of which still makes me tear up), and a dozen other things, all left me very leery.
The thought then, two years ago, that perhaps all that could be put away was attractive to me, but now I find myself void of all hope whatsoever. Fortunately for her, she is attractive, charming, clever, and talented, and so has many friends and CES colleagues who no doubt would find any stories of serious abuse, no matter how true, totally unbelievable. In fact, if I was one of them, I would disbelieve them myself. She could sell sand to a desert nomad, and after the deal was done and the guy began to wonder what he'd just done, she could chat him up and the guy would probably happily buy more the next day.
My step-mother got baptized not long after she married my dad, I think in 1982. In 1989, I received a letter from Dad while on my mission in Argentina that she was leaving the church. I got the impression it was because "the church was too patriarchal" or something. I thought this was a ridiculous reason to leave the church; "too patriarchal" was a perjorative, but how could anything be "bad" when it was ordained by God himself? It was pride, I "knew"; she was "kicking against the pricks".
And do you know that I got off my mission, she had resigned from the church, and I never once asked her personally why she had left? Why ask, when I already "knew" that whatever her reason was, was stupid? Why ask, when I already "knew" that "deep down, she knew it was true, but was willfully rejecting the Holy Spirit"? What point was there? I didn't need to ask. I already knew. Pride, a desire for the easy life, a (willful?) misunderstanding of church doctrine, etc. What was the point? She'd already defected to the evil side, so there was no point in saying anything.
And certainly, there was nothing I would ever learn about the church from her darkening mind. And her return to semi-radical environmental issues and stuff was only further evidence that the quickening influence of the spirit was long gone. She was being "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine". She was lost. Why talk to someone who knowingly turns their back on the truth, who is knowingly lost?
So, about four years ago, my dad and my stepmom had a kind of marriage crisis. My dad wanted them both to visit with our SP (the guy who related the GBH story), which they did, right before I started teaching Gospel Doctrine. Part of the agreement they came up with was that Denise, my stepmother, would attend church with my dad, since of course he still believed. It had always been an issue with him that she didn't go. He feared the eternal ramifications of her disobedience, and often when they would squabble, he could hold over her the fact that she didn't attend, that she had actually resigned.
So, in this really weird turn of events, they wound up coming to church every Sunday together, including my Gospel Doctrine class; and what is REALLY weird is that my stepmother, who had resigned from the church years earlier, was literally one of the two best students in the class, always coming up with something really insightful to say, always catching every nuance of meaning. Not bad for someone who supposedly had entirely lost the gift of the Holy Ghost. More on her below.
As I've mentioned in a number of posts, my dad asked me to come over and talk to him after he knew something was up with me and the church. I was his Gospel Doctrine teacher in the branch we attended at the time, so maybe this made him especially interested in what was going up.
I declined to talk to him about anything at first, mostly because I felt totally, utterly sick, and in a way, I thought that maybe life outside the church was miserable, even though it wasn't true. But finally, he prevailed on me, so I went over, talked to him for a while, left some stuff for him to read through and think over, and he called me back a couple of weeks later I think it was, and said, "I guess we've been had".
My dad doesn't talk much about this now, but I think it was really a sobering realization for him. He has told me that he feels that being a member of the church was good for him in a way during the seventies, since he was never tempted to touch any booze or drugs or girls or anything, when of course so many others did and really messed up their lives as a result. Of course, I don't think it was very "useful" to him to lose his marriage because my mom, fueled by untrue religious beliefs, detonated our family. But maybe that beats dying from a drug overdose. Or maybe he never would have touched drugs anyway, I don't know.
So, my dad doesn't attend anymore, and never will, I don't think, again; and a huge wedge between my stepmom and him has apparently vanished.
My wife is out; after years of the most creative and strict conditioning regimen I could put them through, not a one of my children has ever so much as hinted that they would like to go back to church. And to be honest, they seem to have a surprisingly mature understanding of the mental tricks and fallacies and delusions which enabled our belief for so long. Sometimes my boys even joke around about it. Once, right before we moved, I was riding around on my horse, when he got spooked and took off at a gallop down a steep hill; it happened so quickly that the reins slipped out of my hands. I don't know if anyone on here's every tried to ride a galloping horse down a steep hill without any control over direction or stopping and not being able to get back into the right saddle position, but it's pretty hard, and I fell off. When I told my son Jed I'd fallen off, he looked at me and said, "See? That proves the church is true".
A number of my close (formerly devout) friends now have also left the church, and I continue to hear stories from them about other devout friends and relatives of theirs who are leaving. It makes me really wonder about attrition rates. I don't know if what I hear isn't truly representative of larger trends, or if there really is something of a snowball effect. Whatever is the case, it is amazing to me just how quickly lifetime, thoroughly immersed members, who have never previously contemplated the church might be a fraud, can "come to". Literally within a few hours, all the thought control and indoctrination can be overcome, the huge structure and superstructure of ignorance and self-deception can implode, just by exposure to a few key facts and asking a few key questions. That really says something about the miraculous human mind.
But having friends who have left has made transition a lot easier and I feel really grateful I have buddies to talk to about what has been a pretty traumatic realization.
Anyway, that's the story of my family.
| Is there a Mormon conscience, and if so, what is it like?
Everytime I wonder about this, I begin to feel that dark, sick feeling in my stomach...All kinds of thoughts flash through my mind, thoughts I don't want to think of anymore, and I feel a ferocious hurt...
I see bright, shiny faces, kisses and embraces, kids singing, standing in white in front of the mirror peering into eternity surrounded by loved ones, not even a question that we followed God's one true way...
And I see the joy of submission, the ultimate escape from personal responsibility it affords...(we follow the prophet, and if he makes a mistake, then he will be held accountable, not us)...the pleasure of being praised by the one you obeyed...there was worth there, standing, identity...one found purpose, strength, in obedience...and it felt good at the time...
And then I see thousands of those human beings, having surrendered their own consciences to “authorities” who, in reality, have no authority whatsoever other than what we all granted them out of our own ignorance and/or self-interest. We, or at least I, gave it to them...I looked to them for direction, instruction, commands, because in the end, I think, it was in my own selfish interests to do so. I acquiesced; I always told myself that those who left only wanted the easy way, but the truth is that it was I who wanted the easy way. It was much easier to simply obey and not worry about my own responsibility, than to do the hard thinking about my true place within the human family, and my true responsibilities to others and myself. You'd better believe I was thankful for the prophet; because of him, the only decision I really needed to make was to obey him. It made things easy and tidy.
So on my mission, I was informed when I should rise, when I should go to sleep, what I could read and not read, what I could listen to and not listen to, what I could write and not write, what I could say and not say, what I could think and not think, and when I could write, when I could read, when I could listen, who I could talk to and not talk to (my own flesh and blood were forbidden), what I could purchase, how much I had to live on, where I could travel, when I could travel, where I could live, how I could groom myself, how I could travel, when I could have recreation time, what I could do during that recreation time, what shirts I could wear, what pants I could wear, what ties I could wear, how many doors I had to knock on, how many discussions I had to give each month, how many people I had to give Books of Mormon to, ad infinitum...and I lapped it all up like a hungry puppy. I had eagerly sacrificed every last bit of decision-making power I naturally posessed to an external party. If my own dad had flown all the way to Argentina to visit me, and was staying at a hotel a block from me, I literally would have asked my mission president permission, and if he'd said no, I would have declined to see him.
After all, I was “on the Lord's errand”, and to disobey the man the Lord had asked to preside over the mission would be to deprive myself of the spirit. And, in the spirit was protection and safety. I needed that, because the forces of the adversary were everywhere, surrounding us, waiting for any opportunity to ensnare us. And that was why...I was never to be alone. Better put, that was why I didn't want ever to be alone. I must always stay with my companion. I cannot be alone. And I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that, unlike others, I had access to all that light and truth. I wanted that. What does that really mean about me?
...I swear a death oath of loyalty to the church in the temple, enacting my own ritual slaughter if I ever divulge the secrets. I commit to give my life for it. I commit to never speak ill of the Lord's anointed. I commit to consecrate all to the church, a “church” which in the end is run by only one man who “holds the keys”, the president of it. And for all the talk about the scriptures as the Law of the Lord, the truth is that the real law is whatever the prophet, at any given moment, says it is. It is, in effect, the “unwritten” law Pres. Packer mentions.
And I will know the prophet is speaking as a prophet by the fact that he did not mention while speaking that he wasn't. So of course he was and I obey. And later, after he is dead, his successor will tell me that other prophet wasn't speaking as a prophet at all; and when I wonder how then I am to know that the current prophet is now speaking as a prophet, he will answer, “because I am telling you that I am”. And I will believe him. And then once he dies, and HIS successor also tells me that his predecessor was merely speaking as a man, I will also then instantly believe him. For there is no past for me, there is no “eternal”, there is no memory, there is no law but my master's will, whoever the master is at the moment, and whatever his will is at the moment; and in the instant he expresses it, it will be, and have been, eternal law; and in the instant he or his successor changes it, that too will be, and have been eternal law and there will be no contradiction there, “because the gospel is eternal” and “the Lord won't let the prophet lead us astray”. And I will be content.
The truth is, I have no conscience of my own in that state. Anything the prophet asks of me, I do; it is no use to imagine that I might get a “no” from the Lord when I pray to him about whether to obey, for I have already pre-committed myself to the proposition that the prophet cannot lead me astray. What that means is, to ever presume that the Lord exempts me from obeying the prophet is tantamount to rejecting the only true and living gospel on earth in toto. And that is unthinkable. There is no out. There is no “righteous disobedience”. There is no “loyal dissent”. There is no allowance for independent conscience. It does not exist. There is no out. I shall submit. In submission only is there purpose and righteousness.
Gordon Hinckley has made it clear; Dallin Oaks has made it clear; they've all made it clear. There is no law but the master's will, the prophet's will that is; and we will know his will is righteous, because we already know it cannot be otherwise. By definition, his will is all-righteousness. In Joseph Smith's words, he (the prophet) has no law. His will itself is the only law. It is a declaration of war against all nomos, at the same it masquerades as its ultimate expression.
Some people spend time wondering whether Mormonism qualifies as a cult. Why? Because the church has nice commercials? Because the APA doesn't want to be accused of religious bigotry? Authors Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad suggest a definition of a cult, and it fits Mormonism to a T, for whatever it's worth. They write that cults are “groups with an authoritarian structure where the leader's power is not constrained by scriptures, tradition, or any higher 'authority'...In a cult, absolute authority lies in a leader who has few if any external constraints”.
Member lurkers might object that “the prophet” is constrained by both the will of God and the quorum of the twelve. First question: How do we know what the will of God is as it pertains to the church? As members, we only know via what the prophet himself says about “God's will”; which is to say, we by definition as Mormons have no way of knowing how divergent the two might be. If we were ever to presume they did differ, we would by that fact alone know we were wrong. No - they are inextricably linked. And how we know they are is - because the prophet himself told us they were. The fact is that no member can argue that God's will is a constraint on the prophet's, because no member has the ability to even fathom "in righteousness" a divine will distinct from what the prophet declares it to be, let alone ever know it to diverge. It's impossible within that world. The prophet's will is God's law is the only law. That is the way of Mormonism, and always has been.
And about the quorum - because the president of the church is the only man sustained as having the keys of receiving revelation for the whole church, there are NO grounds for ever imagining that a believing quorum of the twelve would ever dare to contradict what the prophet says is the will of God. None. They are as wound-up in the thing as we were, I presume, as unable as we were to make sense of the cyclical maze we all inhabited psychologically. There is no out, not for us, not for them, not for anyone. We must all obey the master, and the master is...a man, at the top of the pyramid. Of course it's a cult. It's the very definition of it.
Pres. Packer threatens CES employees with job loss not for lying, but for telling the truth. He literally compares full disclosure about facts relevant to ascertaining whether the church is a fraud or not, with gratuitously insulting overweight secretaries. That any human being could draw moral equivalence between these two things, when many hundreds of people have DIED for this church, and thousands more now are willing to die for it still, is unconscionable. And that the man who could say such a thing could regard himself as a holy man is nearly unfathomable.
Elder Oaks a few times has compared the church and its “adversaries” to warring litigants in a courtroom, in which neither side has a moral obligation to “tell the whole truth”. He declares that it doesn't matter whether something is true; only that which promotes faith in the authority of the church should be spoken. And these people recoil when they are presumed to be indifferent to the truth! Presuming them indifferent is actually unwarrantedly charitable; if we take them at their word, we ought to presume them positively antagonistic to it. He tells the authors of “Mormon Enigma” that it doesn't matter whether what they report is true; he must preserve the reputation of the prophet.
Pres. Hinckley announces that it doesn't matter whether prophets are right or wrong they must be obeyed regardless. It doesn't even matter if the prophet's error would facilitate the continued erosion of American democracy at all levels by national crime syndicates, that is, “secret combinations”, who are bribing, extorting, and murdering just “follow the prophet”.
Joseph Smith orders the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, not because Wm. Law lied, but because he told the truth. He declares truthtellers “perjurers” in his famous 1844 sermon, and in so doing, bears public false witness against his neighbours, slandering and defaming them.
We swear a death oath of loyalty in the temple, vowing to consecrate all we are, all we have, even sacrificing our lives, for the thing.
Joseph F. Smith lies under oath in front of Congress about polygamy. The other apostles all lie about polygamy. Leonard Arrington's autobiography, while claiming that it's possible to write accurate but faithful history, also reports that apostles secretly asked two of his assistants to spy on him (which they did), and that his work, and that of others, was often subject to approval by the very men whose authority might be most jeopardized by certain facts.
Even now, certain historical material, owned by the church, is totally off-limits.
LDS General Authorities draw salaries while impoverished people in Third World countries put in hours of work doing church callings, instead of earning more money to feed their starving families, and scrimp to pay tithes and offerings. The church demands that wards from now on take care of their own maintenance in the interests of cost saving, and then buys a 1.5 billion dollar shopping mall. Its manuals obscure facts about core church doctrines; so does its prophet, Gordon Hinckley, in public interviews. How does misrepresenting Mormon doctrine qualify as being honest with your fellow man?
Mormon elders, following their temple oaths, kill members of the Fancher party. It doesn't matter whether Brigham Young ordered it or not; they thought he had, and the actions taken on that belief tell us once again that within the closed psychological world of Mormonism, there is no out.
I hate thinking about this stuff because it reminds me that there is nothing I would not have done if the prophet asked me. I was, I guess, as conscienceless as anyone. Or at least, my own conscience had been as entirely surrendered by me as had anyone else's. And all the indignant blowing and sucking that church defenders engage in now whenever someone wonders whether they are really being forthright and honest is just the same stupid ego-protection schtick I used to do myself. “How dare you say such a thing?! How dare you impute unto me disingenuity?!”. And at the same time, I was protecting the thing too, really only protecting my own vanity, my own self from pain.
Yet somehow, in my uber-Mormon state, I imagined myself to be a man of great integrity, of principle. I imagined that I would have stood up during the Stanley Milgram experiments and said, “No, I won't administer the shock”. I imagined I would rather have been shot than go along with Nazi extermination efforts. I imagined all kinds of things, all of which, suspiciously, were exactly what I wanted to believe most about myself. But they weren't true. And I feel this terrible hurt, this sick feeling, in the knowledge that I would have done all the horrible things I never imagined I would do. I can put myself just in those places and see myself, know that I would have been no different than men whose actions I must condemn now, and I feel a kind of vicarious guilt over it all, and I don't think I will ever live that down in my own mind.
I wasn't the kind of man I thought I was; I guess to put it more accurately, I am not the kind of man I wish I was. And if I had been doing, as a member, research in the archives and drawn up a draft essay, and my supervisor had laid a hand on my shoulder and said, “I don't think the brethren will appreciate you mentioning this episode”, I would have excised it, too. After all, “the church is true, so why cloud the issue?”. I even remember saying to my friend Doug over a decade ago, talking about Mormon historiograpy, “Why does everyone need to know everything? Why cloud the issue? We already know it's true. What does this other stuff matter?”. Of course I would have excised whatever I felt would embarrass the church, or was asked to. No “real” Mormon would do anything else. We follow the brethren. We follow the prophet - he knows the way.
There is a Mormon conscience. It is one which has lost any conception of good and evil outside of what a mortal man, who we imagine to be a prophet, seer, and revelator who could not lead us astray, tells us is good and evil at any particular moment. It is one which regards as “good” that which “builds up the church”, and evil that which inhibits it. And the truth well, as Pilate said (we might say as members) “what is truth?”. “What's true is the church. And that's why anything we say, however misleading or incomplete, qualifies as 'true' as long as it builds up the church!”. And whatever we do, at the behest of the prophet, must also be by definition, good.
That same “conscience” leads us to derive pleasure from the sadness of others who leave the church. It leads us to demonize them, to cast aspersions on their sincerity, on their motives. It leads us to reject “moral relativism” at the exact same time we must relativize all conception of morality so as to accommodate the necessary actions for building up the church. So, lying is bad when it hurts the church; lying is not necessarily bad when it serves the church's ends. (We can easily convince ourselves that like Jesus, we have no obligation to cast pearls before swine.) And with this shifting attitude toward the virtues, it's no wonder Oaks keeps comparing the church to a corporation, like Enron, being defended in a court. Talk about a telling analogy.
Our Mormon conscience leads us to take the initiative in calling others to repentance, in judging others who “we know” are not obeying the prophet as we are, in some cases in humiliating them. In can lead us to sacrifice our children for the church; lead us to die for the church; in some cases, it has led some to kill for it. It seems to know no morality outside of the church's survival and growth needs and whatever version of morality the church is preaching at the moment. In the end, our Mormon conscience is a totally co-opted conscience, unworthy even of its own name, for in the end, it is no conscience at all.
| Should it be a surprise that 48 year old FARMS writers spend all day on bulletin boards debating fifteen year old skeptics about what Joseph REALLY might have meant by the word "translation"?
What's the difference between their online postings, and the pieces they publish in church-funded organs like "The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies"? Neither one would pass review, literally, by a bright ninth grader, let alone the editor of, say, the Journal of Near Eastern Studies. (And speaking of the J of NES, what was that DCP Ph.D. in again? Oh yeah - Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Huh.... Funny how...nevermind).
Pro-church bulletin boards, The Ensign, the Journal of BOM Studies, what's the difference?
And by the way, BYU junior prof lurkers - don't bother ever trying to get anything published in an actual academic journal. When you come up for tenure, just explain that academic journals are just an expression of "paradigmatic hegemony", and that the fact you've spent twelve hours a day posting on your cousin's apologetic site instead of publishing shouldn't be held against you. And when he asks, "Are you nuts?", just look at him and say:
Good luck with the tenure review board!
| AP Provo - The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, a research institute affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today announced the adoption of a new slogan.
"Now that the curse against the negroes has been lifted, allowing us to believe that in fact they never were cursed in the first place notwithstanding that we did believe just that, we have decided to show our racial egalitarian bona fides and borrow a little something from the United Negro College Fund", said Garloy Pratt Hendricks, (fictional) director of the institute, in an interview conducted Tuesday.
"The wonderful negroes who run that organization are fond of saying, 'A mind is a terrible thing to waste'. As Latter-day Saints, we also value things like facts and reasoning and such things, as long as they are kept in their proper sphere - and that place is subservient to what our feelings tell us, because we know the Holy Ghost tells us what's true through those feelings".
Hendricks went on to explain that what our minds tell us is often wrong. "People didn't used to believe in germs and things like that, but now we know there are germs. That tells you right there something's wrong. That's why we trust feelings." As a result, FARMS has adopted the slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to use", and will henceforth include the motto on its letterhead.
"We are all really excited about the change", commented Hendricks. "It kind of wraps up everything we're about".
| Silent Seraph
I appreciate your comments. I think you bring up a good point.
It is true that the church proclaims that what it's all about is "coming unto Christ".
To use just one grotesquely extreme example to raise a counterpoint, the Ku Klux Klan currently says it is not about preaching racial hatred at all, but simply focuses on caucasian pride. And no doubt, there are sincere Klan members who would say without any guile that that is just what their organization is about.
Would you accept that characterization of the Klan? Or do you think it is possible that there is some other dynamic there?
Let me ask you this, Silent Seraph. If a man appeared on CNN tomorrow claiming to be Jesus Christ, but Gordon B. Hinckley claimed that he wasn't - who would you believe?
The truth is that as a Mormon, you have absolutely NO way of knowing anything about Christ save for what the president of the church tells you to believe. Think about what that really means for a second...Think about this: If the church prez told you the man was Jesus, he would be Jesus. If he told you he wasn't, he wouldn't be - at least, for you. And how would you know whether the church prez was wrong?
You answer, because I already know the prophet can't lead me astray.
I ask, how do you know that?
You answer, because the prophets have said so.
(Do you see a problem here already?).
I ask, and how do you know the prophets were telling you the truth?
I answer, Because I have a testimony of the church and I know they're true prophets.
I ask, How did you get a testimony?
You answer, I read the BOM and prayed about it, and felt the Holy Ghost.
I ask, How did you come to believe that those feelings you felt came from the Holy Ghost, and that they absolutely meant that the BOM was historical fact and that Joseph's church was Jesus of Nazareth's only true church?
Think about this, Silent Seraph. How did you ever come to think that?
It is because - you were told by others that that was the case. And you believed them. You took someone's word for it, that your feelings were God's Holy Spirit declaring to you that everything you'd just read was absolutely FACTUAL. Just like I did, just like we all did. We all took someone's word for it, and the truth is, that every human being on this planet practically has felt those same feelings, people in all different religious traditions, in all different situations. Those feelings are nothing unique. They in fact are so strong, that people in other religions are blowing themselves up for their faith, and swearing vows of celibacy. Those feelings are real - they are strong - and also, there is NO reason to believe that feeling them means, "We - we alone - have God's only truth".
The truth is, we made a mistake, and with the best of intentions we have been involved with a church which we found quite congenial in many respects, but which we had as much reason to believe was the one, true way, as any other believer in any other church had to believe that s/he was in the one, true way:
And what's worse is - it is not what we thought it was. It is not what it claims. And it is not about truly "coming unto Christ" at all.
Maybe that's hard to believe. Think about this for a second.
If the prophet tells you Jesus doesn't want you to have two earrings in an ear, then, in your mind, you know that Jesus really doesn't want you to have two earrings. Don't you? And tomorrow, if GBH or his successor tells you that Jesus doesn't want you to wear ANY earrings anymore, then you know Jesus doesn't want that anymore, either.
And if the next day, the prophet tells you that now, Jesus wants you to wear five earrings in each year, you now "know" that Jesus wants you to wear five earrings in an ear.
The truth is, that "Christ" for you is, and only can be...whatever the president of the church says he is, whatever he says he isn't, whatever the prophet says he says, whatever the prophet says he doesn't say. You can reach him, "know him", ONLY in the way the prophet says you can - that is, all you REALLY know is...what the prophet says. For example, you cannot communicate with Jesus directly, can you? After all, the prophet has decreed that "we pray to the Father", not to Jesus.
It doesn't matter that people prayed to Jesus in III Nephi, and Jesus accepted that, does it?
It doesn't matter that even Joseph Smith in section 109 prayed to Jesus ("Jehovah"), does it?
It doesn't matter, because now the prophet says you shouldn't. And tomorrow, when he says you should, then you should.
The truth is that no Mormon has any Jesus at all, except the Jesus that the prophet, at any given moment, says you should have. And when the prophets change their teachings about the "eternal" laws governing your relationship with Jesus, as they most certainly have throughout Mormon history, then your religious duty is to not notice; just keep believing that you are really "coming unto Christ", even though the truth is that every time you might try, you will never - and I mean, never - get closer to him. In reality, you will only be "getting close" to..."the prophet", "the church", "the church commandments", anything and everything but a Christ who is YOURS, a Christ you embrace directly.
There is a grand secret at the top of Mormonism, and Gordon B. Hinckley knows it. That secret, for the Mormon prophet and his counselors, is: "WE are the gods". (And if you don't believe me, just as a starter go read the bios of Heber Kimball and Brigham Young, where they refer to the prophet as their "GOD". That's the word they use - "god".)
If you want to "come unto Christ", you ought to come unto Christ, and stop wasting your life in a church which, however much we may enjoy, in the end, is literally indistinguishable from any common cult-like religious organization who uses the image of Jesus as an attractive deception so that we don't notice that all we're really coming unto is "the church", and the man at the top of it.
Best of luck,
| Once you realize a lot of what you believed in just wasn't true, a lot of things change. One of them was Santa, who I first created for my children, and later killed ("Santacide").
When my son Jed was a toddler, I came across a Santa outfit in a store once, and bought it. After that, every Christmas I would arrange fairly elaborate deceptions for my children. I would "remember" that I'd forgotten to buy milk, go to the store, and while I was gone, late Christmas Eve night, Santa would come.
I'd put on this crazy down coat my dad had given me, shove a pillow inside, and then put on the red coat. The outfit had a white wig and beard, the hat, the pants, everything. I would have already put presents in a giant sack, so once dressed I'd grab the sack, and then begin lightly jingling the bells, and throw a handful of rocks on to the roof (reindeer landing). (One Christmas Eve, when it was really dark out, I got out a small flashlight, put red cellophane over the front, and flashed out in the front yard. From where the kids were they of course thought it was Rudolph.)
After I'd "gone to the store", Tracy would lead the children in the dark, into the kitchen, under the table, from where they could see the tree in the living room. And huddled there in the dark, wild with excitement, awe, and fear, they would watch the "real" Santa come into the house and leave their presents under the tree. I had a particular slow, raspy, "old man" Santa voice I would do which didn't sound like me at all, and they fell for it year after year.
That is, until one year, over in White Rock where we then lived, Ashton said a few days before, "Why is it that Santa only comes whenever Dad's gone?". That was it - they were *thinking*. Mayday. Can't have that. (Somehow I never put this together with the church at the time...). I was all over that one like Hinckley jumping over the DNA results back from BYU.
So that year I convinced my stepfather-in-law to play Santa while I hid under the table with the kids. What is kind of sad is that after that, they seemed to have no doubts again, and told people very confidently throughout the year that they had all seen the real Santa ("we have seen and hefted the plates"...).
We first kind of put the whole church thing together around November of 2003, and my wife immediately began saying, "What about Santa?". Shyeah. Exactly. That church thing really stung; and once you realize you've been conditioning your children to believe things which are just as fake as the Santa story itself, you just can't keep the other stuff going. You have to tell them. You don't want another terrible sting, no matter how pleasant the illusion was. And the thought of perpetrating a fraud just because you've decided that others are "better off with it" (thanks T.S. Ferguson, Gordon Hinckley, Paul H. Dunn, Richard Bushman, etc.), just doesn't wash anymore. You can't stomach it.
At my wife's request (she likes to go slowly with things) we didn't say anything about Santa that Christmas, didn't do the act and just kind of didn't bring it up; but as we approached last Christmas, Matthias started talking about Santa again and it was clear it would have to be confronted directly. So, because I was the one who'd had "the talk" with the kids about the church, my wife wanted to have "the Santa talk" with the younger kids (the older two had already figured it out by then). Poor Matthias, ten at the time, was genuinely shocked to find out he wasn't real.
I thought about all this again a couple of days ago, when Matthias said to me, "Why'd you tell us all those fake Santa stories?". For a moment I wanted to say, "Because I'm an idiot", but then I said, "Because I thought it would make Christmas fun for you guys, and I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. But once we realized we'd all been wrong about the church, Mummy and I decided we should stop saying such things, and try to have Christmas fun in other ways. I think I made a mistake - sorry".
Perhaps out of a lingering sense of foolishness over my Santa escapades, we have tried extra hard to capture the same Christmas magic we had with the fake stories (actually elaborate deceptions), without them. We've gone for horse carriage rides, outdoor Christmas celebrations, "sailpasts" (where all the local boats decked out with lights sail past the pier), have lots of story nights in front of the fire at home, make treats and sing, etc., and especially, talk about all the virtues Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate at Christmas time. Hopefully Christmases are just as fun as they ever were for the kids, and even more so.
Has anyone else killed off Santa for your kids, and if so, what have you done instead?
| As some know, the church has decided to stop paying people to take care of local meetinghouses, and is now insisting that members take turns doing so on a "volunteer basis".
How many meetinghouse toilet bowls do you think Thomas Monson's scrubbed lately?
Now quick - *don't* think of King Benjamin "laboring with his own hands"...
"The prophets and apostles should be given a pass because of their advanced age", you say?
Why then is such a pass not given to local members with arthritis, with big families they are busy taking care of, without access to easy transporation to and from the buildings, with advanced age, etc.? I know someone personally who, despite being physically unable to clean without suffering because of a hernia, is still being hounded to go push brooms and scrub toilets. While she has expressed her sorry physical state to her ward leaders several times, they keep asking; she thus has felt guilty about "not being able to do her part". She can't physically do the work; she keeps saying this; but they won't stop asking her anyway, leaving her feeling embarrassed and guilty.
How much were locals being paid to serve as church janitors? Not a lot, surely a pittance compared to the average monthly ward tithing donations.
How much did the Crossroads Mall cost? $1.5 BILLION.
And once again, how many toilets do you think Monson's scrubbed lately?
One crazy idea: If the church has enough money to blow millions on a Gentile-owned Public Relations firm; enough money to blow millions on a brand new conference center and often-vacant temples; enough money to keep the embarrasing, counterproductive FARMS going; enough money to blow ONE AND A HALF BILLION on malls; enough money to blow millions every year on cattle ranches, radio stations, satellites, insurance companies, and international tours for apostles and their wives; and enough money to pay people to scrub His Royal Highness Thomas Monson's toilets at headquarters; how is it that there isn't enough with which to compensate a local janitor? Why are arthritic 65 year olds, already devoting hours and hours a week to the church and donating money, being expected to do what no General Authority ever does?
And the final kick in the teeth is that despite members donating their time and money to the church, that church in return has such contempt for them that it refuses to disclose how much (non-toilet-cleaning) General Authorities are being paid each year; how much the church makes each year; or anything at all about how "sacred" church monies are spent.
Until they do, and until H.R.H. Monson does what he tells everyone else to, I don't see why any member should.
Kind of a little thing, but just another thing which seems to betray a kind of contemptuous obliviousness.
Just my two cents,
| Is this George Lincoln Rockwell, once head of the American Nazi Party, or an apostle, future president-of-the-church, and official LDS church historian, Joseph Fielding Smith, whose remarks here were NEVER repudiated by the First Presidency after they were published?
This is starting on page 101 of "The Way to Perfection", published by Deseret News Press, which I just found unpacking:
"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an INFERIOR RACE. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world CURSED WITH A BLACK SKIN and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel. THESE ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF CAIN. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the res of mankind from the beginning.
Now in fairness, I should note that Apostle Smith DOES concede that blacks are actually human beings, even going so far as to admit that blacks and whites are "brethren"; unfortunately he can't do so without a parting kick to the groin.
"Enoch saw the people of Canaan, descendants of Cain, and he says, 'and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Cainan..."
"But what a contrast! The sons of Seth, Enoch and Noah honored by the blessings and rights of the Priesthood! The sons of Abraham made rightful heirs to all the blessings of the fathers!" (exclamation marks in the original) "And the sons of Cain, denied the priesthood..."
"In the spirit of sympathy, mercy and faith, we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our Negro brethren - children of God - notwithstanding THEIR BLACK COVERING EMBLEMATICAL OF ETERNAL DARKNESS".
Gladys Knight, hello?! Are you there, Sister Knight? This is just "one man's opinion", you say? If it was, why wasn't it immediately denied by then president of the church David O. McKay? Why wasn't Apostle Smith disciplined for this stuff? What does it mean that no one said a word - and that this kind of stuff was in the manuals and church mags and everthing else?
By the way, if the church thinks this stuff is so bad, why hasn't Hinckley actually repudiated it or apologized for it, rather than just glibly trotting out another thought-terminating cliche from Mormonism's endless cache of them? ("That's all behind us"). I guess that's all David Duke would need to say and we could all feel great about voting for him for president, couldn't we? Unreal.
It is fortunate for those uninspired by Ku Klux Klan pamphlets that Gordon B. Hinckley feels totally detached from every last Mormon doctrine - for him, everything is sacrificable - and so doesn't keep spouting this nonsense. But unfortunately, because no Mormon prophet has every acknowledged the Mormon history of nutcase racist mythology and apologized for it, this stuff is still kind of part of the church, still on the radar screen. Why don't they flush it? Ah well...to apologize would undermine present authority claims, wouldn't it? So who cares what the right thing to do is, when it threatens one's interests?
By the way, this book is chock full of gonzo inbred religious retard lunacy. It would actually be hilarious - if your High Priest Group Leader didn't still believe it all.
| In the spirit of Christmas giving, I hereby waive all rights to the following, which I feel I received by revelation from the ghost of Hugh Nibley.
Problem: NY Hill Cumorah has no skeletons, swords, wheels, nothing. One solution: Invent a "two Cumorah" solution, where the other Cumorah is somewhere in Mexico.
Since for some strange reason, FARMS has not yet picked up my "Three Cumorahs Solution", I offer a new proposal, a reprise of the classic "new research forces word redefinition (forces declaration of war on reality)" fake out.
So, my FARMS friends, feel free to use what follows next time you spend all day arguing with fifteen year olds on the FAIR board.
Ahem. (Affect Utahn voice tinged with resignation and all-knowingness).
"...and what the anti-Mormons are NOT telling you is that research has now established that the ancient word 'cumorah' was not only a proper noun, but was a common noun which simply meant 'place', rather like the word 'city'. For example, in the case of Atlantic City, 'city' refers to a particular location, but 'city' also refers to any city anywhere. Thus, no one should be surprised that no artifacts have been recovered from either the NY or Mexico locations; these are only two 'cumorahs' out of literally millions of 'cumorahs', or 'places', around the world.
"In short, once we understand that 'Hill Cumorah' also simply means 'hill place', and can thus refer to any hill anywhere on earth, the supposed 'problem' of there not being any physical evidence in the New York 'hill place', nor as of yet in Mexico, vanishes.
(Inject a victorious tone into voice during this part)
"What is a far more interesting question is, if Joseph was a fraud, how could he have known about the dual meanings of the word 'cumorah'? We submit he could not have. We await (in vain, we suspect) for the anti-Mormon answer to this question".
| I am always happy to acknowledge that Joseph Smith was a talented man, who on occasion predicted the future accurately.
Take for example this millenial prediction, from II Nephi 30:
"...The things of all nations shall be made known; yea, all things shall be made known unto the children of men.
17 "There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed."
Another one, from DandC 1:
"And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed."
When Joseph Smith rose on April 7, 1844 and declared that "no man knew (his) history", of course he was perfectly correct. Neither Hyrum, nor his mother, nor his father, nor Brigham or Heber or Parley, not even his own wife Emma, knew that "history", for it included all kinds of deceptions, lies, and dissemblings of which each could have but fairly little, if any, knowledge.
But while no mortal will ever attain a God's eye view of the past, all would also admit that in 2005 we know more about Joseph's history than any of his individual contemporaries did. And with the advent of satellite dishes and wireless internet communications, it could almost be said that literally, that history the history of his achievements as well as his “iniquities” - ARE "spoken upon the housetops". Like those of so many others now, Joseph's "secret acts" very much have been “revealed”.
Not that this unique to Joseph, of course. The truth is that there has never been a time in the history of the world when it has been so difficult to keep a secret. No sooner is a secret revealed to anyone, than it may become accessible with the click of a button to anyone in the world. It just has particular relevance for Joseph, because of course there were so many secrets to begin with.
And that reminds me of another Josephine prophecy, from DandC 130:
"This earth...will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it..."
Sure he's talking about earth in its "sanctified" state and he gets the inferior kingdom thing wrong, but, you know, not bad.
Anyway, the earth seems rather to have become a Urim and Thummim, albeit in a manner quite unlike that imagined by Joseph. Whereas forty years ago people might have asked questions of a ouija board at parties, now we type questions into a Google search box, and in sooner than a second, our Urim and Thummim gives back answers.
And what are those answers? They are answers that I am sure none of Joseph's successors - who for decades spoke of modern technology as the gift of God for spreading the gospel - imagined. They are answers which, in many cases, rest on supporting facts and evidences from across a wide range of research disciplines, answers fundamentally no longer even denied by those still clinging to belief in Joseph's claims, though without exception they cast the greatest doubt imaginable on those claims.
They are answers which reveal human life on earth to be far older than six millenia; they are answers which explode Joseph's claims that native Americans were Israelites; they are answers which show the Book of Abraham to not be what Joseph claimed it was, namely, a "translation"; they are answers which show that Joseph was also incorrect in his statements about the fraudulent plates found at Kinderhook, Illinois; and they are answers which demonstrate that much of the sometimes charming Joseph's behaviour, far from being anything one might expect from a holy man of God, is more in line with what one might expect from someone with genuine antagonism toward both convention and commandment. And some answers include quotes from Joseph which make him sound very much as though he felt just that antagonism.
Some answers align various story versions told by Joseph of his supernatural experiences, so that the whole world may see the ways in which those stories conflict with each other in irreconcilable ways. That is, the whole world may now see instantly that Joseph is an unreliable source of information about himself. Other answers show ritual suicides being enacted in Mormon temples, or tell heartbreaking stories of innocent women denied love and companionship for their entire lives merely because Joseph or Brigham wanted them. Others reveal disturbing obfuscation from the church's current president; others reveal a kind of insanity and blindness on the part of some members many of us have not seen elsewhere.
In short, almost in line with Joseph's smoky, apocalyptic warnings in DandC 1, the Mormon ship seems to be listing because of a strange confluence of phenomena:
1.) The existence of the internet as a means of communication, conversation and inquiry, and a means of information distribution. (Because of it, for example, your local ditch digger will be able in an hour or two to recognize there is something awry in a biography of Joseph Smith which doesn't deal forthrightly with the pedophilia questions. Local primary teachers now have more access to LDS history than did apostles a mere forty years ago).
2.) The tenure of Gordon B. Hinckley, whose refusal to be "honest with his fellow man" about LDS history and doctrine, and his obsessive lust for form, hollow ritual and pageantry, and capricious power trips over silly affectations (earrings);
3.)The spectacular LDS apologetic crack-up, made all the more spectacular by the fact that - unlike increasing thousands of inquiring members - neither LDS leaders nor the apologists themselves seem yet to have any idea they're even having.
These three things, I think far more than the influence of Elder Packer's gays, feminists, and intellectuals, have combined to really strike a blow against Joseph's church. (Sure, the DNA evidence might have been there without the internet - but the ease of accessing it now is what really seems to have changed things). Even the most devout members who notice the last two points are able to be shaken enough to wonder, often for the first time in their lives, if something is wrong. And the first point enables them to try to answer that question.
Now if Joseph had actually told the truth, I doubt there would be much problem at all. The evidences of his truthtelling I am sure would be abundant; there would be general uniformity between Joseph's various versions of his experiences; his predictions would all have come true, rather than just a few like any other man's; the spirit would testify to Joseph's stories in much more powerful ways than it does other things; and the world would have increasingly yielded forth corroboration for Joseph's claims about time, Egyptian hieratic, native Americans, astronomy, geography, etc.
But like every other person on this planet, Joseph Smith did not always tell the truth. And as the world becomes increasingly a vast Urim and Thummim through which “secret acts” will be revealed, that Joseph's untruths just can't help but be more and more known. Because of this, I think conversion and retention rates must continue to fall. There may be some better years here and there, maybe even the odd trend upward. But the world seems to be rapidly advancing in understanding; Africans who fifteen years ago were staving off famine now own laptops and cellphones. Latin Americans who fifty years ago would have traveled by burro now zoom round in cars with GPS systems. People seem more and more to be progressing in their abilities to understand the physical world.
So, every day the percentage of people who would ever study with LDS missionaries without running a serious Google search is decreasing. Also decreasing are the members without access to facts. That is good news for those of us who think there is real value in finding out that fraudulent stories are fraudulent, no matter how pleasing they might be - good news for those who don't think it's such a bad thing that "secret acts" should be revealed, and lies exposed as such.
And I guess that means - it's really bad news for the church.
| Simon Southerton posted a link and response to the latest sad offering from the church's best and brightest over at FARMS the other day (it was a review of his book). So here are a few more quotes for FARMS contributor Dr. Ryan Parr to pretend don't exist. These were taken from that evil anti-Mormon book, "The Encyclopedia of Mormonism", compiled and published under the direction of vicious anti-Mormon apostles of the church.
Sitting LDS Church President Heber J. Grant, Dedication of Hawaiian temple Nov. 27, 1919:
“We thank thee that the plates containing the Book of Mormon were preserved so that they could be translated, and that the words to the prophet Joseph Smith might be fulfilled, namely, that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers....
"We thank thee that THOUSAND AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF THE DESCENDANTS OF THE DESCENDANTS OF LEHI, IN THIS FAVORED LAND, have come to a knowledge of the gospel".
New Zealand temple dedication April 20 1958 by sitting LDS Church President David O. McKay:
"We express gratitude that to these fertile islands thou didst guide DESCENDANTS OF FATHER LEHI and hast enabled them to prosper".
Mexico city temple dedication, First Presidency counselor Gordon Hinckley, Dec. 2 1983:
"Bless thy saints in this great land and those from other lands who will use this temple. Most have in their veins the BLOOD of Father Lehi. Thou hast kept thine ancient promise."
Is there any other church in the world that tolerates such chaos, such divergence between what its defenders claim and what the leaders of the church claim is THE TRUTH about "the keystone of the religion"? It is total madness, totally embarrassing. And to think we're supposed to believe that the Creator of the entire universe took the time to tell Gordon B. Hinckley to warn all the women of the world about the dangers of wearing two earrings in one ear - but then can't be bothered to clarify WHO THE BOOK OF MORMON IS ABOUT, or where they are!
If the prophet can't lead us astray, why is he allowing FARMS, forever contradicting sitting church presidents, to operate under the auspices of the Lord's university and post their apostate articles on the church's official website? And if FARMS isn't leading people astray, why then were earlier prophets allowed by God to lead the people astray?
No one should need any DNA tests to figure this out. All one needs is the church itself, for incoherence between parts proves falsity absolutely, and there is no way around that.
| Let's face it - notwithstanding four years of seminary, three hour blocks each week, institute classes, youth conferences, General Conferences, Ensign reading, all that, online trolls and amateur church defenders often seem stunningly unaware of the history and doctrines of the very religion they wish to defend. This has to stop. It's high time that the church "raise the bar" for these online missionaries - but since that's not happening, perhaps we can help push the bar up a bit ourselves. What follows is my open letter to all those who believe Mormonism is in fact the world's only true religion, and who wish to defend it effectively against those who don't believe it is.)
Dear Would-Be Church-Defender Friends,
It will probably be impossible for you to believe that I know very much what it is like to feel passionate about defending the church. As it happens, while I was still under the impression that Mormonism was the world's only true religion, I defended it - I'm talking garments, polygamy, everything - in media all around the world.
Anyway, what follows has been written in the earnest desire to raise the level of discussion between those who believe that Joseph Smith told the truth about his many extraordinary experiences, and those who don't. It may even be the case that those members who follow my advice will be permitted some room to raise questions on this very board, though that of course will be at the discretion of those responsible for maintaining this board as a place for recovery.
But down to business.
To better defend the church, here is what I recommend.
1.) Blow a couple hundred bucks on church history books at your local Deseret Books, and READ THEM. I cannot believe how unaware most online amateur church defenders are of facts long since conceded even by their professional counterparts.
Don't be scared - read them. You believe you have the Holy Ghost, right? And it can tell you fact from fiction, right? And most of these church history books were written by LDS historians working out of the LDS archives, in which they quote LDS founding members, weren't they? And they are on sale at the OFFICIAL CHURCH BOOKSTORE, aren't they? And you are dedicating your life to this religion, which you think is the world's only true religion, aren't you? Then for heaven's sake, learn about it, its founding, its scriptures, its charter members, what they thought, what they felt, why they believed. Learn about it not just so you can better defend it, but so you can better live it if it IS true. What is so controversial about this?
If you're broke, your local institute library will have some of the following titles; your local public library will also be pleased to order them for you.
Here is a starter library:
1.) "Story of the Latter-day Saints" by Allen and Leonard. This is a very easy-to-read, very faith-promoting church history commissioned by the church, written by two church-employed historians working out of the official church historian's office. This book isn't exactly a classic work of research, but at least it's more accurate than Joseph Fielding Smith's "Essentials of Church History". At least reading it would be a start.
2.) "Brigham Young: American Moses" by Arrington. Also originally commissioned by the church, and written by the church's official church historian. While Arrington offers up the odd mild criticism, the tone is overwhelmingly laudatory. Do not fear.
3.) "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith" by Newell and Avery. This book is on sale at Deseret Books; it won the Book of the Year Award from the Mormon History Association, an organization started by official church historian Leonard Arrington and largely comprised of Mormon historians; and it is recommended by Leonard Arrington himself on the flyleaf. These are his words: "One of the great biographies in Mormon and nineteenth century American literature. A model of honesty, clarity, and fairness". For heaven's sake, read this; there is no reason not to.
4.) "Mormon Polygamy: A History" by Richard S. Van Wagoner. This is also available at Deseret Books.
I could add a lot more, but this would at least be a start. You just cannot defend the church effectively when you don't really know it's history.
2.) When you defend the church, pretend just for the sake of discussion that Moroni never said essentially that the only reason anyone could believe the Book of Mormon to not be historical was being insincere and having an unclean heart (see Moroni 10:3-5). Just file that for the sake of discussion, and just try to imagine somehow that it is possible that someone could find what they thought were very convincing reasons to believe that the Book of Mormon was not written 2000 years ago, and does not actually describe real multi-million member civilizations in the New World.
This will have the salutary effect of inhibiting our natural tendency as members, in defense conversations, to seek for "the real reason" (i.e., the secret evil motivation) for those who no longer believe what they used to. After all, you're trying to defend the church, right? So why abandon that task in order to begin speculating on motives, in effect character assassinate through insinuation, etc.?
See, most people who think the Book of Mormon is fictional don't believe they had any particular desire to believe this so they could go do a bunch of sicko, twisted, evil things. They simply think it is fictional for the same reasons they came to think some Old Testament stories are fictional, some Koran stories are fictional, some Native American myths are fictional, some Hindu sacred stories are fictional, etc.
So my advice is, forget about "secret motivations" and all that stuff, and just focuse on WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. Most people, never Mormon or former Mormon, will be straightforward if you ask them questions, so LISTEN TO THEM. That way, when you think you see a flaw in their reasoning, you can point it out to them, instead of insulting them by asking which sin they wanted to commit; and THAT approach may actually yield some fruit. After all, if Mormonism really is the world's only true religion, you'd want them to know about it, right? And they're not going to be able to know about it if you don't listen to them, and then respond to THEIR CONCERNS, are they? People who feel they are completely sincere in their beliefs, who were formerly very devout members, and who have given up the admiration of their friends and family in order to live their lives according to what they now see as the truth, aren't exactly going to change their minds after being bombarded with sophomoric, Midgley-style insinuations, are they? NO ONE WOULD. No one. Not you, not anyone. So don't do it.
3.) I alluded to this in #2, but here it is again: Listen closely to what those you are conversing with are saying. The reason why you should is that cult fanatics don't. They talk; they say what they want to say; they interrupt; they change the subject; they don't ever allow themselves to grasp what others are trying to get across to them. So if you don't listen, you'll look just like a cult fanatic, plus you never will be able to resolve concerns.
Here's a quick example. The other day I noted on here that due to temple death oaths of allegiance to the church, there would lamentably be a cloud of suspicion over anything exculpatory that BYU scientist Scott Woodward said about Hinckley's possible role in suppressing DNA research at BYU, just as there is over any member's exculpatory testimony vis-a-vis the church for that same reason. DingDong C. Dimbleberry then came on and essentially claimed I'd said that no Mormon could or should be trusted in a court of law about anything, and then went on to further make himself look insane by saying that my perfectly accurate description of those temple oaths, and the inevitable cloud of suspicion which must then attend all exculpatory testimony about any church issue by members (since we've just sworn a DEATH OATH to protect the thing), constituted a "theory" which predicted that Scott Woodward would definitely lie! This is an example of a man who would like to defend the church making himself and it look pathetic, because in that role he is unable to understand even the simplest words of his native tongue. So, listen before you respond so this doesn't happen to you.
4.) This will be a hard one to believe I know, but here it is. When you bear your testimony in the middle of a discussion with people who have serious questions about specific church claims due to what they see as overwhelming evidence against them, it makes it sound like all you have, in the end, is a mind-numbing, belief-insulating mantra. Skeptics, far from "feeling the spirit", will rather instantly conclude they are talking to people just like the Hare Krishnas banging tambourines in front of the mall downtown, people who are completely detached from reality, people who seem like they...might be in a cult. I am totally serious. If you said to a Branch Davidian, "How can you believe that David Koresh is still alive, when he's actually dead?", and they responded by saying, "I just want you to know that I know that David Koresh is still alive", you'd think they were nuts. Do you know what I'm saying? Maybe David Koresh really COULD be still alive - but that answer would STILL make you think they were nuts,wouldn't it? Yes. So save the testimonies for later, after you hear out and resolve their concerns and they're sitting in a church meeting with you or something.
5.) When you are asked a question about Mormon truth claims you don't have the answer to, DO NOT immediately shift to a utilitarian argument (i.e., like saying that the church teaches "a great way to live" and "is the best thing out there" and "can you give me something better than Mormonism?" or telling your story about how your life was bleak until you joined the church). Doing this once again makes you look incredibly weak, as though all the truth claims were just hollow bravado, like you were The Lion on the Wizard of Oz talking tough at first to the Tin Man and the Straw Man, but then falling to pieces as soon as Dorothy slaps you on the nose.
When you are trying to defend Mormon truth claims, and you get caught not knowing what to say, just say, "You know what, that's a really good question, and I'm going to think about that. Can I get back to you on that one?". If you switch to the utility argument, you sound just like the Jehovah's Witnesses who always change the subject when they're stumped. Shifting from truth claims to utility claims IS "changing the subject" in a way that makes you and the church look ridiculous, so don't do it.
6.) DO NOT QUIBBLE OVER WORD DEFINITIONS. This will make you look like a pharasaical, boorish idiot incapable of understanding relevant concepts and issues - and this will once again make the church you're trying to represent and defend look bad. Once you understand what your conversation participant means, just respond to that despite the imprecision in his language, or re-phrase what you think they mean to give them a chance to confirm you've understood correctly.
Hijacking a conversation over definitions, when done by anyone, is seen by most people as a distraction tactic, a way to stop real inquiry from occurring under the false pretence of trying to facilitate it. Doing so also makes you seem as though you're trying to show off, or bully people.
7.) When you send me an email and I ask you, "If the church weren't what it claimed, would you want to know about it?", immediately say, "Yes, I would, because what this is all about for me is the truth." If you ignore the question or say no, it makes YOU sound like the insincere, unclean of heart person mentioned in Moroni 10, you know? That in turn makes the church look very bad.
See, most humans on the planet would presume false the claim that the seemingly inviolable laws of physics were regularly violated (which is what Joseph's claims require us to believe). So, if you don't answer, or say you wouldn't want to know if it was a fraud, you're indicating that at least for you, this isn't about the truth AT ALL; and you only help confirm the suspicion that Mormonism is an attractive religion to some which nevertheless was probably started by someone similarly indifferent to the truth.
To effectively defend the church as true, you MUST be willing to find out that it isn't, IF it isn't, and get that across. And you have to REALLY mean this. You can't be guarded on this issue, playing cat and mouse word definition games and garbage like that. You have to throw yourself out there, really and truly, bet it all, and show that this is NOT just about ego protection for you, not about delusion, not about indifference, but about a profound, passionate devotion to all that is true in the universe. This is probably the first and most important thing. Before entering the lists, so to speak, you must ask yourself:
If the church were a fraud, would I really want to know, knowing as I do how upsetting that would be? (If you can't answer yes, do NOT defend ever it again).
If the church were a fraud, how would I know? To show your faith isn't ignorant delusion, you must be able to think of some hypothetical way of knowing it was false, if it was false. It is easy to do this for everythine else we know. For example,
If the world were not round, how would you know? That's an easy one, right?
If Catholicism, with its doctrines of transubstantiation and the like, were not true, how would you know? Also pretty easy.
So if Mormonism were not true, how would you know? You MUST show that faith in Mormonism does not depend on delusion by thinking of some good answers to this question; and if you cannot even think of hypothetical ways of knowing if it were false, then you have not yet shown this.
That's enough for Lesson One.
Gordon Bitner Hinckley presides over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At his command, the historical archives could be opened up fully, so as to facilitate the fullest investigation possible into the question of whether Mormonism really is the world's only true religion, and therefore worth dying for.
But he does not do this. The archives are still closed. Why, when people are being shot because they believe Joseph always told the truth? Doesn't Hinckley care?
The dishonesty with which he conducts nearly every interview is more than enough to answer that question. No, he doesn't care enough even to tell the truth, and there is no way around this. And to think he could call himself a "man of God". It must profane the very name and idea of God to say such a thing.
Any man in posession of possibly incriminating information about an organization, but who hides it for whatever reason, which if it were known would have caused others to decline to risk their lives for that organization and therefore NOT GET SHOT for it, in my mind is an accomplice to murder when there is one - and it doesn't matter that his name is Gordon Hinckley, and that's a Mormon. If the Twelve were any better they'd hold a court and remove him, and then do the right thing. The one, true church could NEVER hold any secrets. Never. It would trust that the Holy Ghost was all the church said it was ("the most potent testator of truth in the universe"). It would cherish truth no matter what it was or where it came from. And it would never endorse lying through omission or commission to innocent people who think they are doing God's will. Gordon must have the 12 whipped - or else they're just as amoral in the end as he is.
Ah, but thinking back...murders for his obfuscations is old hat for Gordon Hinckley. Elders Ball and Wilson got shot in the eighties in Bolivia while Hinckley was hiding incriminating documents in the locked-up vaults. After all, all those people need lies, don't they, Gordon? Why, you're a regular Platonic philodosopher king, aren't you, doing the world a favour misleading them, letting them believe what they want to believe, right? We don't want them suffering from existential angst now, do we? So what's a few murders for a few lies which so many other people need, right? And besides, "how much does anyone really know about God anyway", right? So when we say in the temple recommend intereview that we are "honest with our fellow man", we really do have to put quotation marks around "honest", don't we? We can't be TOO "honest" when most people are so dumb that they require being fed BS in order to be happy, right? Of course not.
The legacy of Gordon B. Hinckley, in the minds of informed observers, won't be his expensive, often vacant buildings and his idiotic, almost prurient inclination to affectation control. It will be the shameless dissembling and lying he did for the organization he presided over, lies that in the end - there is no other way to say it - facilitated innocent people getting MURDERED on a number of ocassions. I mean, literally, there is hardly an interview Hinckley's ever done as president which doesn't have some dishonest and misleading statement in it, and doubt that even the Hosea Stout-like psychos at FARMS would deny that.
Remember when Oaks told Newell and Avery that it didn't matter what the truth was, that his responsiblity was to protect the "reputation of the prophet" and the church built on it? That whole way of thinking has just helped KILL another person. Not bad for the "one, true church", right? Nice. Maybe to top off the whole thing, the family could get the former Utah Supreme Court Justice Oaks himself to deliver the speech at the boy's funeral. That way he can explain to the boy's parents why lying about the church is more important to him than their flesh and blood getting shot, instead of growing to manhood, marrying, having children, and blessing the lives of others through his unique talents. (I'm sure Oaks' bodyguard will be happy to help further explain this cult-conscience-induced line of reasoning to the bereaved parents).
Really sad, really unnecessary, and really truly damning to all those self-styled "men of God" (if this what "men of God" do, how would "men of Satan" act any different?). They're no better than the criminals running the Roman "whore of all the earth". They might as well merge. They all have innocent blood on their hands.
| || Feature Article "King Kong Racist Packer" By New Lds Shadow President, The Black Lesbian Marxist Sis. Nyamba T. Shelburn |
Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006, at 07:43 AM
Original Author(s): Tal Bachman
Topic: TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 3 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From "The New Ensign" |
Shadow Home Teaching Message, January 2006:
“King Kong Racist Packer”, by Shadow Church President Nyamba Theodicy Shelburn of the Shadow Church of the Ungendered Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The recent release of a Hollywood moving picture by the title of “King Kong” has once again raised the luridical specter of corporate globalism infused with transmuted Mormo-mainstream assumptions and their below-lying underspringlings of ethno-gendral oppression and the accompanying viper of victimization. Satiating public hunger for yet another minstrel show gallows lynching, for which I hold Boyd Ku Klux Klan Packer personally responsible for reasons I may or may not further moreover additionally nurture to fruit-ation below, “King Kong” confronts all those concerned with “the equality of justice” with a grave concern to be concerned by.
The character of King Kong is very obviously a thinly veiled and demonizing caricature of the black man as Mandingo-style sexual animal. Unfortunately, the minds of all Mormons were prepared to applaudingly view exactly these dehumanizing portrayals by the tilling and irrigating effects of Brigham Young's virulent racism via seminary-teacher-sponsored picnics and their corresponding counterpartmentalization within CES and the unaffiliated Society of Jesus, which is why there has been absolutely no protest from within the Mormon community about Jewish Hollywood's latest portrayal of lusty black animalia homicidally-seeking blonde caucasian princesses. Through the epistemological strictures of post-modernism and the relatedly wish-subserved visibilifying lens of Nibleyan methodology, the pervasive parallels between Kong and O.J. Simpson betray themselves in all their manifestitudinal aspects to all discerning discerners. Yet where is the outcry from the “Lord's covenant people” and their Dixiecratified leaders?
Moreover, the culturo-religio-affinity attested to by Mormons between themselves and Jews establishes a more or less definite collusion between the two power groups. Jews in making this movie very clearly planted the seeds of its conceptualization in the fertile loam of D.W. Griffiths-style racism as reformulated by past Mormon gerontocrats like J. “Jim Crow” Reuben Clark, Mark E. “Evil” Petersen, and Ezra Taft “BobWelch” Benson, and have allowed that in turn to inform their weltenschaunng worldview paradigm according to wholly Zarathustran dictates. Through this multichronous prism, “King Kong” clearly appears as just the latest slavemaster's blow against persons of color struck wholly to perpetuate the reigning hegemonic power structure for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many at the cost of infinity in the mire of anthro-iniquitarianism.
Most egregiously, this depictive depiction preys upon gender stereotypes and justifies male rape fantasies in depictimizing Ann Darrow as inevitably falling in love with her captor, Stockholm-syndrome style. This pornographic celluloid violent victimization of females everywhere through the, as I said, depictimization of the infatuable feeble personness of Darrow cannot help but to further stigmatize all those who refuse to buy into a phallocentric human ideal stained with the semen of sexual imperialism. As Foucalt said, “I love FARMS. They prove that we can make anything into anything, and believe in it just as though we hadn't”. It is now clear that many more males, after seeing this depictivization, now assent to kidnapping as a viable strategy for realizing inchoate domination-instincts through the sexual act, which due to patriarchalized institutional structures cannot help but be forced in even the most putatively consensual cases.
In conclusion, I conclude that the continuing attitudinization-toward-alterity of male-female relationships in black-white relationships as asymptotes per Packerian sermonizing has done much to unjustifiably exculpate White House neo-conservatives and their puppets in Salt Lake City from crimes of domination.
Sister President Nyamba Theodicy Shelburn
Church of the Ungendered Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Cross-reference: Fruit-ation, anthro-iniquitarianism, Mandingo, domination.
| Are we liars?
Yes, according to many hundreds of church members who have posted on apologetic bulletin boards, sent letters to Eric, posted as trolls, or who just try to keep the faith teaching classes in their local wards. One teenager last year posted on the board, saying that when he mentioned me to his YM advisor, the man immediately said, "he's a liar. Don't believe him".
Yet, what lies have we told about the church? I find there to be very little damning information which is not either explicitly or tacitly conceded to exist by most informed LDS historians and apologists. They may still retain belief that Joseph was a "prophet"; yet they concede that he fundamentally changed his stories, that the text of Hor's funeral scrolls have nothing to do with Joseph's "translation" of them, that Joseph lied about his sexual liasons, that he had himself anointed king, that he had sex with a frightened, 14 year old Helen Kimball, that Joseph knew his foray into the world of banking was illegal, that it resembled more a counterfeiting operation or harebrained Utah-style get-rich-quick attempt than anything respectable, that Joseph's behaviour was sufficiently shown to constitute criminal misconduct and thus warrant a formal trial in 1826 for "disorderly conduct" as a confidence man, that he did convince farmers to pay him money to find them treasure in his magic peep stone though he neverfound any, that his emendations to the KJV text bear no relationship whatsoever to the oldest manuscript texts available, that the witnesses included genuine religious flakes, men prone to hallucinations, Joseph's relatives, men who in some cases later denied they had seen any plates with their "physical eyes", etc.
In many cases, the only difference between us, and the dudes still drawing church salaries (who our accusers seemingly sometimes revere as demi-gods), is we filled in the blank after the "equals" sign: "Everything I Just Mentioned =.....Joseph didn't tell the truth about his sacred experiences". Some people, it seems, feel that as long as they don't fill that blank in, that "the answer is inherently unknowable", or that Mormonism may still be - or actually will remain - the world's only true religion. (And yet, what, other than an unwarranted belief that our feelings meant God told us Joseph never lied, could ever stop us from acknowledging that answer? Our informed friends must have all thought we were insane...)
If Mormonism really is all it claims, then the truth is, we must loathe forever as hellish deceptions the principles of inference, induction, deduction, elementary logic, prediction, observation, hypothesis testing, mutual criticism, evidence, probabilities of human behaviour, and catalogued physical laws which disallow things like regeneration, de-materialization, and spontaneous language decoding. We must also regard as hellish deceptions the methodologies of astronomy, zoology, metallurgy, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, botany, biology, geology, etc., since they all too lead to a conclusion that Joseph didn't tell the truth.
In short, if Mormonism is the truth, then everything else in the entire world is a lie. No wonder we've been lumped in then, in the Mormon mind, despite not having told any that we know of.
What can make the immediate accusations of lying sometimes hard to take is that the accusers, so often, have not even read their own church's literature. If they did, they wouldn't label it as a "lie" when it is simply read back to them. When Joe Fairboard reads the EQ manual at church, it's "true"; but somehow when I quote it to him, "I'm lying". How can that be? How can quoting Brigham Young constitute me "lying"?
Answer: It cannot - and yet, at the same time, anything can become anything when we are in such a psychological state, that the prospect of finding out we have been wrong about all that was most important to us seems is so unthinkable, so nightmarish and exruciating. So, in a flash, to protect us, our minds can transform horses into tapirs, reason-spawned-doubt into "the temptations of Satan", previously clear "translations" into "unclear processes which we should stop focusing on", ex cathedra pronouncements into "personal opinions", fundamntal changes in doctrine into undisturbing new "insights", BOM chiasmus into evidence of Hebrew origins but not chiasmus in a Danielle Steel novel...and truths into lies.
So of course, truthtellers can instantly become liars for someone in that state. Black can become white, square can become round. O'Brien says it best to Winston in Orwell's "1984", when he says that Winston's mistake is that he thinks reality is something external, when in fact it can become infinitely malleable to serve the ideology, and one's subscription to it. DonLoy Q. Gormless over at FARMS couldn't have said it better.
Heck, I once existed in that state myself. I didn't need reason or facts to form conclusions. Anything could become anything. For example, I "knew" the Tanners were liars, notwithstanding I had never before in my life read one single word they had ever printed. Why did I need to, when I already "knew" they were liars? Right? It's just like Joe Fairboard with Grant Palmer's book. He doesn't need to read it because he already knows Grant Palmer's a "liar", and besides, the FARMS "reviews" said about the same thing. So, no problem. It's all "lies", so why waste the time?
This all leads to a few discernible ends. One is the embarrassing (and very obviously counterproductive) habit of Mormon defenders, including Richard Bushman, to utilize approaches to defending Mormon "truth" borrowed from (oddly, often atheist- and Marxist-inclined) philosophers who attack Truth as a component of a metaphysical reality and deride it as nothing more than a fiction qua instrument in a global, animal-like struggle for power. (It's no wonder defenses of Mormon historiography so frequently refer to utility...).
But, as Einstein once said of idealism, does the sun cease to shine when we stop looking at it? Either "the sun exists" is a true statement, or it is not. And either "Mormonism is all it claims" is a true statement, or it is not.
I submit that it is not a true statement. One reason to conclude that Mormonism does not qualify as "true" is that its truth claims do not accord with reality as we can discern it through the most tested, reliable means we have of doing so. Its physical claims embedded in canonized scripture, such as that our sun produces light not from internal nuclear processes but from borrowing light from an as-yet-undiscovered star called Kolob, or that the entire human race was wiped out a mere 4500 years ago, are now so obviously false that even devout members have had to render them "not essential to our salvation" and then pretend they're not in the scriptures anymore. Not even FARMS will touch those. They too, of necessity, must make them "not matter" anymore. That alone says a lot.
Not even Mormonism's claims for testimony withstand scrutiny in light of Mormon history itself; they are exploded by incidents like the Paul Dunn episode, the church's 150 year championing of the Kinderhook Plates as authentic, and GBH's judgment that the Salamander Letter - putative "scripture" - was genuine.
Maybe most devastatingly (dangling modifier), Mormonism does not qualify as true because it carries within it mutually exclusive truth claims; that is, its truth claims do not cohere with each other, and internal incoherence alone proves falsity absolutely. "A" and "not A" cannot both be true (a piece could be written just about how Mormonism fails by this criterion).
The sight now of so many sincere members, many of whom have no idea those they trust most in the world - church leaders - are authorizing the misrepresentation of a history those members *deserve* to know, must cause pain to all who long for every last shackle upon human enlightenment to fall away. And that those sincere members immediately shout "liar!" at any who try to show the misrepresentation for what it is, only makes the feeling worse. I really await the day when I never again have to see another institutionalized superstition so seize upon, and inhibit, human imagination and potential.
That the religion I devoted my whole life to isn't what it claims was a conclusion born of many hundreds of hours of study and prayer and anguished contemplation, and the most sincere consideration of apologetic rebuttal attempts. I believe my conclusion is true, though it broke my heart to admit it; and I often think how great it would be to meet God (supposing he exists) and talk with him all about my experience. It's hard to describe, but I feel a peaceful but sure confidence, that if I ever do meet him, he won't describe himself as a member of the Mormon church.
That is the truth as best as I can see it.
| I hate the term "anti-Mormon". And I hate it for a few reasons.
1.) The term has been rendered meaningless by the church's funding and promoting of "pro-Mormon" apologists who ask us to disbelieve Joseph Smith, about as much as do other supposed "anti-Mormons" (see also point four below);
2.) The term is sometimes used by Mormons to describe those who merely value fact over non-fact, like, say, those who don't believe our sun is drawing its light from Kolob, but who have no particular animosity to Mormons, or their choice to believe things, nor any particular desire to disabuse them of their ideas.
3.) It betrays the cult fantasy of being the chosen few besieged by deliberately mendacious, wicked, omnipresent "enemies". One example of this was Dallin Oaks' insinuation that the entire news media was deliberately conspiring to withhold the "crucial" information that "the image of the salamander was often used to refer to fire", etc., during the Hoffmann affair.
4.) The term "anti-Mormon" is sometimes applied by members to quotes from church sources themselves. Obviously, when a paragraph from a sitting church president can be considered both "pro-Mormon" and "anti-Mormon" by members, the term has ceased to have any meaning.
5.) It implies that those who have concluded that Joseph was lying when he, say, began telling girls he needed to marry and have sex with them lest a homicidal angel kill him, feel personal animosity toward those who believe those stories, when in fact many of us feel great affection for many members of the church.
6.) What I most dislike about this term is that it casts as specific religious bigotry what is in fact a simple dislike of fraud and a corresponding wish to expose it. That is, to characterize arguments against Mormon fraud as "anti-Mormon", rather than "anti-fraud", bespeaks conceit and a very narrow understanding of the world. I dislike Mormon fraud as much as I do conservative or liberal fraud, or Moonie or Scientologist fraud. And it is nothing unusual for someone who's life has been touched specifically by one type of fraud, to focus on it more than on others. We know more about it, those we love are still affected by it, etc. I see no difference between those who wish to expose pyramid-scheme fraud, Scientologist fraud, government fraud, or Enron-style fraud, and those who wish to expose Mormon fraud; and I think that someone who dislikes one particular type of fraud, will dislike them all. That includes me.
Members who throw around the term "anti-Mormon" at anyone who discusses fraud within Mormonism, make themselves sound as foolish as Enron employees calling fraud investigators "anti-Enronists". They've missed the point. They're not anti-"Enron" - they're anti-fraud, and it isn't the investigators fault that Enron has become so fraudulent that the two, for the time being, might be indistinguishable. It's the fault of those who made it so.
If I were a true "anti-Mormon", I would criticize Mormonism even were it to cease to be fraudulent. But I wouldn't - I would praise it, join it, if it ceased to be fraudulent. But while it is fraudulent, I don't know why I shouldn't be as willing to discuss openly the nature of that fraud, as I am the nature of any other type of fraud (like political fraud) which in fact I do sometimes in other situations.
Anyway, I don't know about anyone else, but I think "anti-Mormon" is a stupid term which amounts to not much more than a kind of cult-belief-reinforcing de facto obscenity used by members against anyone who dares speak of fact in the presence of fantasy - or as it happens, fraud.
Not "anti-Mormon", only anti-fraud,
| Is the Recovery from Mormonism board a "hate" site?
Rather than spend eight paragraphs defining "hate", with any definition sure to be controversial anyway, I'll start with this. What is the purpose of the Recovery from Mormonism board? My suggestion: For people from all walks of life, who for various reasons have come to believe that they were wrong about everything that was most important to them in life, to be able to make sense of how they could have been so wrong, learn how to replace anguish with peace, and to create a new life of meaning, joy, and purpose.
Sometimes in the course of that process, harsh words are expressed toward men who refer to themselves as the only authorized apostles of the creator of the world, yet who have such contempt for members that they consent to the grossest misrepresentations about the very religion they are claiming is "true". How foolish, how hurt, how resentful, must any human feel, when he finds out those he trusted most in the world abused their position by deceiving him? This hurt reaction has nothing to do with Mormon General Authorities per se. It is the normal human reaction whenever anyone realizes they have been, in effect, played to keep something going, whether they were played by a used car dealer, a spouse, a business scam operator, a politician, or the leaders of some other religion. Is that "hate"? Personally, I think it's probably more "hurt" than "hate".
It may be difficult for those occupying high stations within Mormonism to understand, but here it is: most humans on the planet don't like being lied to (whether the lies are of omission or commission). And hearing that "we needed the simple version for our own good" doesn't make it feel any more pleasant.
Further, people's reactions after finding out they've been misled isn't evidence that they are now possessed by Satan (if anyone is, it would be the very men who exempt themselves from the most basic standards of respect for humankind). I submit it is only evidence that they are human.
I might add here that some RFM posters have been sexually, verbally, or physically abused by LDS priesthood holders. And some of them, when they went to the men who they thought would help them out, saw those men brush off their concerns, and then proceed to PROTECT THE INSTITUTION (remember the death oath?) rather than the victim. In short, they covered for the abuser, and left the vulnerable out to dry.
Some of those victims think now that was very wrong, and that an organization which has a history of considering its own institutional needs over the needs of its hurting members, is an organization worthy of serious reformation or even moral condemnation. I think they would especially feel this way once they realize its founder invented his stories.
And for those members who now believe that "that's all behind us", perhaps I should also here mention a case with which I am personally familiar, in which a stake presidency is fully aware that a male member of the stake (the son of a SP counselor) sexually molested a nine year old boy, but which has not contacted the authorities, seeking instead to "resolve it from within". To make readers gag even further, the mother of the sexually molested boy ALSO does not want the authorities contacted, because as a devout Mormon, she too wants to spare the church embarrassing publicity. She just moved out of the stake. Meanwhile, the molester is still at large, attending church meetings, where he is still frequently in contact with young boys. And that's happening right now.
When the victims, and victims' parents, of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests react with outrage and disgust and lawsuits, it is not quite accurate to say that the victims are now "hatemongers". It is that they are human, and wish to see reformed any system which so DESTROYS the happiness of human beings. Why is that so hard to understand? Likewise, I don't see anyone on the Recovery from Mormonism board calling for the abolition of road shows, ward softball tournaments, July 4th picnics, craft nights, church charity initiatives, talent shows, Christmas dinners, or many dozens of other things which are, or have been, part of Mormon church life. Rather, out of concern for the welfare of the human family, people wish it to cease all those practices which they feel contribute to the destruction of human happiness. Those things include lying about its history when people are making the most important decisions of their lives based on their (erroneous) understanding of that history, protecting ecclesiastical abuse, demonizing anyone or anything who might seek to apprise members of facts about the church, paying well-educated sophists to keep on trying to obscure what isn't obscure in the slightest, etc.
In short, former Mormons dislike the EXACT SAME PRACTICES that most Mormons themselves dislike, when they observe them in OTHER organizations. That means, I think, that if most former Mormons are "hatemongers" because they criticize the Mormon church, then so are most Mormons when they criticize other organizations, like political parties, churches, businesses, etc.; and conversely, if most Mormons aren't "hatemongers" for doing so, then most former Mormons aren't, either.
What I'm trying to say here is that criticism of the Mormon church on this board has the same motives as does criticism launched by Mormons themselves of other organizations which also misrepresent their history while making large demands on their sincerely believing members, which also protect institutional interests at the expense of innocent individuals, and which utilize however subtly fear, conditioning techniques, and guilt to control the thoughts, hopes, emotions, goals, allegiances, and lives of its members.
For some perspective, perhaps Mormons reading this should ask themselves how they feel in general about Islamic fundamentalism, Enron, or the Catholic church. We can probably think of good things about each, and yet at the same time, we can't help but think of the tendency to violence, the terrible theft, and all the sexual abuse and cover-up...And how would you feel, then, listening to someone who has come to see that, for whatever else those organizations might be, they are NOT what they claim to be? You would listen to an ex-Islamic fundamentalist and take her very seriously, and probably agree with her criticisms of Islamic culture and religion. Same with Enron whistleblowers or ex-Catholics. But then to hear a former Mormon speak of finding out about Joseph's lies, or abuses facilitated by the church's authoritarian nature and rejection of any critique no matter how valid, would suddenly seem "Satanic". Why? Because "all the others are wrong, and WE'RE right"? And...what if, by some unfathomable chance,you're not? Then what? Are critics of Mormonism still Satanic, while critics of Moonie-ism aren't?
It may seem shocking to members to hear that the criticism of the church by former Mormons might be motivated not by Satanic possession, but by a passionate attachment to ideals like human progress, dignity, and happiness, or ever might raise concerns about other organizations on that basis. Just a few quick examples from my own life: here in Canada I got to comment on the recent election on a nationally televised panel, and let the cannons explode on the former prime minister (head of a corrupt party); I spent an hour live on Toronto radio last year describing why I thought "Islamofascism" was a threat to Canada and all democratic nations (and got numerous on-air calls from fanatical Muslims calling me a "Jew", etc.); had a scathing letter published in the BC capital's paper criticizing the BC government for reneging on a referendum promise, etc. I'm sure many former Mormons could cite numerous examples of their activity in other spheres, all motivated by a desire to improve the quality of human life. Criticism of Mormonism - essentially by its own definition, an authoritarian loyalty cult antagonistic to any ideal (including honesty) which doesn't serve its own institutional needs - is spawned by the same motives. Again, what's so hard to understand about that? If you read a speech by the CEO of Enron demanding that employees NOT PUBLISH any information, no matter how true, which might make investors lose enthusiasm for the company, wouldn't you object? Then why not object when Boyd Packer does the same thing in his "Mantle" talk? Even if the church were actually the world's only true religion, I daresay we ought still to reject that demand. It's not fair, is it?
And by the way...IS Mormonism the world's only true religion? The truth is that Joseph's church has as much reason to be thought the product of human ingenuity and creativity, as any other religion on earth. It has neither more saints, nor more inspiring writings, nor more accurate prophecies, nor more healings, nor more satisfied members, nor more spiritual experience, nor more converts, than any other. And to speak frankly, it has much more reason to be counted a fraud as most other religions.
After all, not even a man as broken as Bushman can deny any longer that >Joseph's lies fill pages<. They fill pages even in his church's own official history. You can actually read in the OHC Joseph's lies about Nauvoo real estate, his lies about sex, his lies about his wife, his lies about his ability to translate, and they can be seen for the lies they are through reference to the OHC itself, or other church publications. How many lies does it take to be liar? One? Two? Ten? It is impossible to imagine any religious innovator ever being caught in more lies than Joseph Smith. How many lies would the owner of the house you're considering buying have to tell you, before you regard him as an unreliable source of information about the house? I bet it would take one, maybe two at most. And yet, we can catch Joseph in many more lies, many pronounced by him "in the name of the Lord"...how many does it take to finally accept the inevitable? (Of course, I've left aside Mormonism's many internal inconsistencies, whichI think establish falsity absolutely, and all the other physical evidence exploding literally every single one of its testable claims).
Bushman and the boys can have all their conferences... they can all chuckle at the roguish charm of that rough stone rolling, but in the end, there is nothing really funny about girls being raped by mobs, or women living in such loneliness and sorrow as plural wives, or men firing bullets into the brains of nursing babies under flag of truce at Mountain Meadows, or parents letting children go to bed hungry in order to pay more fast offerings and tithes, or terrified fourteen year old girl being deflowered by a control freak, or throat-slashing death oaths, or boys getting shot on their missions...
No...there is nothing funny about it. There is also nothing funny about the fact that everyone reading this vicariously CONSENTED to these things by virtue of their allegiance to Joseph's church. And the salaried church sophists, as seemingly unconcerned about the truth, or the morality of what they are really doing, as any Johnnie Cochrane or Geragos out there, ought to be grateful they can feel the respite of being lampooned occasionally on here, rather than have to endure the constant censure their embarrassing, amoral nonsense really warrants.
There are plenty of wonderful Mormons, good people doing the best they can. Most of them I am certain have NO clue that anything could be awry with Joseph's stories. Yet, there is, and we found out, and here we are. How are we not supposed to talk about it?
So is all this really "hatred"? I don't think so, but then, I don't really know, and the truth is, I don't really care. Are there certain members of the church who I would rather not inform about the church's fraudulent nature? Actually, yeah, there are. Maybe that means I have a problem...but some of these guys, I just don't have the heart to do it. They are old, they have worn their lives out in its service...and I just, in a way, can't do it. And yet...more broadly, how do you not talk about it? The church just is what it is - a fraud, and I know of no reason not to expose it as the fraud it is (from a general perspective), anymore than I know of a reason to keep my mouth shut about corrupt politicians in Canada, suicidal loons in the Middle East, corporate cheats, or pedophile Catholic priests...And I also know of no reason not to praise individuals and organizations which do seem to be effectively alleviating human suffering, resolving conflicts, etc.
| Where is Heavenly Mother?
Do she exist? What does she look like? And isn't the singular term "Heavenly Mother", in the mouth of a Mormon, rather silly given Heavenly Father's status as a polygamist?
If HM exists, is she not by definition divine? If she is divine, on what grounds should she not be adored? If she is not divine, how did she get into the celestial kingdom, or wherever she and her sister wives and her husband live?
Come to think of it, what credible evidence is there that any Mormon General Authority, ever, has had even the slightest clue as to who or what is running the universe, if anything, any more than any other man or woman on this planet? And if there is none, on what grounds should anyone defer to them when they insist it's a violation of cosmic moral law to worship some divine feminine presence? (I'm voting for Salma Hayek). Mormon leaders - literally - can't even decide on who the BOOK OF MORMON is about (the "keystone of their religion"). They're promoting two contradictory claims. When they are so incapable of understanding things which happen on our own planet Earth, how can anyone seriously believe they know the slightest thing about goings on near Kolob? How nuts.
Isn't the Mormon claim that HM remains hidden since she is so sacred that the risk of her being profaned can't be taken, identical to the Muslim argument for bhurkas and restricting female presence? That is, hasn't Mormon theology done about the same thing to HM as has the Afghan version of Muslim theology done to the Afghan woman - acknowledging her existence, while making her, for all intents and purposes, non-existent? Where does chivalry really end, and misogyny really begin?
By the way - is it REALLY essential to our salvation to know that HM should never be adored? Not sure I'm getting this: Joseph Smith moves from trinitarianism to bitheism to tritheism, actually prayed to Jesus (Jehovah) in Section 109, canonized the Lectures on Faith which have a different doctrine than does the church now on the identity of God, Brigham Young got mixed up about the identity of Adam and Elohim and (if I remember right) once said Adam had sired Jesus, the LDS First Presidency can't even agree on a formal doctrine of the Godhead until the tenure of Joseph F. Smith - even though the contradictory L on F are still in the scriptures when they finish inventing it - Gordon B. Hinckley tells a New Yorker reporter he has no idea what BY meant when he said that if we could see God, we would just see Adam and Eve, Bruce McConkie rails against too much intimacy with Jesus and SWK never corrects him, then Hinckley says "Jesus is my friend", and even goes so far as to say that he "worships" Jesus...
When you really look at it, Mormon leaders have made about as much of a mess trying to figure out the nature of who or what they worship as did the proto-Catholics they've made so much fun of -
But despite all that confusion, the only thing they're all crystal clear on is that no one should ever address a Heavenly Mother in prayer? So, I'm supposed to believe that God doesn't take ten seconds over the course of 175 years to reveal exactly what is going on with Himself and his son and Adam and how they'd all like to be addressed or regarded, permitting all kinds of embarrassing confusions and digressions and canonization and then DE-canonization, etc. with Brigham Young even preaching his weird Adam stuff in the Lecture at the Veil, AND THEN ALSO, at the same time, take seriously the Mormon prophet's claim that God HAS revealed to him WITH PERFECT CLARITY (despite all the other outstanding confusions) that under no circumstances should any human ever worship the divine feminine? (and also, not wear two earrings in the same ear?).
Is it just me - or does that sound rather suspicious?
I don't know who's running this joint. I did go out to the forest with my kids to watch the salmon spawn in October and that was kind of an incredible spiritual experience. I talked to the naturalist about how they navigate their way back, and honestly, it did sound just like a miracle of purposeful design. Yet, I don't know. And the point here is - Mormon leaders very clearly don't know either, yet still feel qualified to denounce women thinking on, or worshipping, an idealized female presence. What do they care? These guys are putting up Joseph Smith Nativity Scenes and singing "Praise to the Man", and then excommunicate women for praying to HM. What a bunch of loons!
| Once, I thought my immortality was a given. I would die, hang around in the spirit world preaching the gospel to those still incarcerated in the spirit prison (heavenly Alcatraz), and then be resurrected. I would then be assigned, on judgment day, to a kingdom, and live forever.
Since finding out there was no more reason to believe this story, than to believe Zeus and Hera (or Sasquatch and Elvis Presley) were running the universe, I've wondered if anything I could ever do might be immortal...or anything I could ever become.
If I could invent something - like say, the equivalent of a light bulb - in a way I could live forever. If I wrote a great symphony or novel, same thing. But I don't know that I could do any of those things.
I think the best shot I might have at "my name being immortal" is that I think I've invented a valuable slang term for boobs. (I spent hundreds of hours in my study working on this...).
I don't know...it was like...magic or something. It just came to me finally, after all those calculations and everything. So, I now reveal to the world, in an RFM exclusive, my new (immortality-conferring) slang term for women's breasts:
Named after Miss Anderson's outrageous accoutrements, of course.
I am asking (nay, begging) all RFM posters to please help me achieve immortality, by using henceforth "pamelas" whenever referring to mammary glands (also, I hope no one minds mentioning my name whenever they do so. Example:
"Wow Jim...get a load of the pamelas on her. BY THE WAY, MY FRIEND TAL BACHMAN INVENTED THIS TERM. PLEASE PASS IT ON".
"Honey, how do my pamelas look in this dress? BY THE WAY...(etc.)".
Please post your own ideas for achieving immortality, no matter how sad, below, and I'll try to help you out in return.
Many sincere thanks in advance to all those helping make this dream come true,
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