Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Victim of Gaslighting

Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.

As a young 10 year old Mormon boy, I always looked forward to going to our weekly Primary Meeting, a special program designed for 8 to 12 year old youth in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Back in those days, Primary was held mid-week, usually on a Tuesday or a Wednesday depending on which LDS Ward you attended.  It was during these religious based meetings we would gather with friends and be taught by our teachers many of the fundamental teachings of the LDS Church.  It was also here we would gather to sing such children classics as “Give Said the Little Stream”, “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam” or one of my favorites “Book of Mormon stories that my teacher tells to me”.

As a youth I loved hearing the stories of Lehi and his family, of their fleeing Jerusalem, building a ship and coming to The Promised Land, America, which had been preserved and set aside for them as a reward for serving God and keeping his commandments. We were taught that God only aloud very special groups come to the Americas, those that kept His commandments.
Ether 2:7

7And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.

I imagined America as a vast empty land devoid of humanity following Noah’s flood, that the Lord had “Preserved” or set aside America for Lehi and his family and those whom the Lord had deemed worthy of being bought here.

I loved reading the stories in the Book of Mormon and cherished the fact that I was among a few people on earth who knew the true identity of the Native Americans…that they were the descendants of Lehi, members of the House of Israel.

During my teen years, President Spencer W. Kimball, president of the LDS church gave an address in which he gave further confirmation to the stories I had been taught in my youth when he declared that:

“…Lehi and his family became the ancestors of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea”
Kimball went on to add that Lehi’s decentants, often referred to as the Lamanites: “…are in all of the states of America from Tierra del Fuego all the way up to Point Barrows, and they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand.”

I felt firm from the instruction of my youth that I knew who the forefathers of the Indigenous peoples of the America were.

It was during my mission that I first encountered information that conflicted with what I had been taught from youth to my adult hood. An investigator asked me why Mormon’s believed that Native Americans were from Jerusalem instead from Asia.  “Asia?, I scoffingly said, “Why would anyone believe Native Americans were from Asia”.  “Well” said he “that’s where the scientific evidence suggests they came from.” 

I brushed his scientific evidence comment off as just the speculations of man.  I had access to something far greater and reliable than his science…the pronouncements of God’s Prophets on earth.

It was also during a street meeting while on my mission that I met Ian.  Ian was an evangelical who just happened to walk past while my mission companion and I were contacting a street meeting…the process of stopping people walking down a sidewalk and introducing them to Mormonism.  While in the process of introducing Ian to the Book of Mormon he made a comment that I found particularly bizarre.  “Oh” he said “I’ve heard about that book, isn’t it the one that was written using a rock in a hat?”  “What?” I laughed “A what in a what…that’s the most bizarre anti-Mormon lie I have ever heard in my life…where did you hear that?“  I exclaimed.  I then proceeded to testify to Ian that the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God using the Urim and Thummin, an ancient device used by prophets of old to translate languages.

Time pasted, I returned honorably from my mission having helped convert many people to the Church of Jesus Christ and eventually met the girl of my dreams, married and raised a family.
 At the same time I grew in my devotion to Mormonism, holding new callings of greater responsibility such as Elders Quorum President, Bishopric and member of the Stake High Council…but those issues I passed off as bizarre and crazy…had left their mark…they lay dormant in my mind.

Then in 2003, while searching for information on Native Americans and their relationship with the LDS church I can across an article written by Dr. Thomas D. Murphy, professor of Anthropology at Edmunds Community College in Washington State that rocked my world. 

The article was about DNA and how there was no evidence to support the claims made in the Book of Mormon.  All my life I had been taught that Native Americans were descended from Lehi and knew that prophets had reinforced this teaching.  I was familiar with the word DNA, it was used to get prisoners falsely imprisoned released…but now it was being used to show that Prophets were wrong when they had declared that Native Americans were descended from a  middle eastern population?  And then shortly after the LDS Church quietly changed a few words to the Book of Mormon.

In the introduction on a line that had read:

"...all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are
the principal ancestors of the American Indians"

The church quietly changed it to read:

"...all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians."

Nothing was ever said over the pulpit at church, no official statements were made in General Conference…it was just quietly changed.

With the change of a few simple words…Lamaites had gone from representing every single native American living, as President Kimball had once declared…in all of the states of America from Tierra del Fuego all the way up to Point Barrows, and they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand….to merely living among these native populations.
As my doubts mounted, one piece after another of the complicated puzzle that made up my belief in Mormonism fell apart until there was nothing left.

It was during this time of rising doubts, investigation and re-examination in my Mormon faith that I discovered a parallel universe of activity taking place at the very same time I was losing my faith. A mounting apologetics which was pointing the finger back at me for being so ignorant and trusting in the words of the leadership of the Mormon church.  It wasn’t them, that were at fault, they said, it was me and my failure to read the right articles and books or study Mormonism hard enough.  These same apologist for the church were telling me that those notions I had learned in my youth were never the prevalent official teachings of the church, just one of several plausible theories. That the church had always taught that the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon, were just a small group set among other people when they arrived in the Americas, that one shouldn’t expect to find DNA evidence of any non-Asian descended population like the Book of Mormon suggests because the Lehites were such a small group arriving in a promised land that had already been populated with millions of Native Americans who were already here when Lehi and company arrived.

Then in 2015 I felt the earth shake under my feet once again when the church released a new article admitting to that story Ian had told me so many years ago while on my mission.  That Joseph Smith had used a rock, he had found while digging a well to help him translate the Book of Mormon.  I was crushed.

And once again the barrage of apologetics hit the fan, claiming that there was nothing new here, that this was all common knowledge and had been written about in church publications for years. That the fault was with the members of the church if they didn’t know these things.

 During each of these disclosures, I felt I was losing my mind,  going crazy or in a state of complete shock and disbelief. I had been a devoted member of the church, held positions of responsibility in the church, been married in the temple, raised an active believing family and sent my sons on missions…how could I not have known these things?

I’ve only recently come to understand that I’ve been a victim of Gaslighting.  The LDS church took difficult information which painted them in a bad light and instead of just coming clean, asking for forgiveness and admitting it they instead spun the information so that it would make their truth claims remain believable but doing it by throwing those members who were aware of their action under the proverbial bus by recasting recent history, blaming members for not doing their homework, for taking the words of so called prophet literally or without the needed nuance.

The 1st stage of gaslight is disbelief.  Which was my immediate reaction when confronted with the information that did not comport with what I had been taught. I didn’t believe it., even after learning the validity of the information I didn’t believe that the church would hide the imformation.
Next is defense.  I defended what I thought I knew to be true against what was actually true.

Then come depression or cognitive dissonance due to the conflicting nature of the gas lighting process…I literally think I was losing my mind and at times I wanted to just die rather than face my new reality that the church may not be what it claimed to be.

The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel…and it starts by identifying the Gaslight Effect. Remember that knowledge is power and once you recognize the effect you can do something about it by getting out of the unhealthy environment of church apologetic gas lighting.

For more information on gaslight refer to an article by Robin Stern PHD from whom I barrowed information for this post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mormonism: The Ability to Hold 2 Conflicting Ideas in Your Head Simultaneously...Well Almost

I once knew with every fiber of my being that Mormonism was true. I believed it wholeheartedly. The thought that the church could be anything but what it claimed never crossed my mind. Yet I also held beliefs that I also knew to be true that I just couldn’t reconcile with my Mormon beliefs. They weren’t huge conflicts like evolution vs the Adam and Eve fable or America being populated by an Asian immigration vs being populated by Lehi and his fictional descendants…those would come much later…no my initial conflicting ideas were my firm knowledge that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago vs the churches claim that 6,000 years had passed since the time of Adam and Eve when death was first introduced into the world…thus making the existence of dinosaurs impossible. So being unable to reconcile these seemingly unreconcilable beliefs, I simply found a way to build various compartments within my brain where I could place each of these seemingly unfalsifiable truths…apart from each other.

Despite knowing that this conflict existed, I also knew that if I were to take the time to scrutinize and examine this conflict that one of my firmly held beliefs would not come out unscathed. The rational part of my mind feared that this could be the church…so I built a particularly strong wall between my natural desire to resolve this conflict and my belief in the church. Upon reflection, I can now see that my mind had been trained to build these various compartments within my mind in which to place these truths that conflicted with my Mormon beliefs.

I had been taught that the truth claims of the church trumped all other truth claims, Mormon truth was truth with a capital T. Scientific truth on the other hand was unreliable and subject to change as new information was discovered. I was taught that eventually, scientific discoveries would come around to support LDS truth claims.

Therefore, despite knowing that the church was true and that dinosaurs existed…I blamed this seemingly unreconcilable conflict on the unreliability of science. It also caused me to buy into ridiculous LDS apologetics to explain away the dilemma… the false apologetic idea that dinosaur bones had been parts of other worlds…gathered together during the earths creation. This is why they existed…they never actually had lived on our earth…but had lived on an alien planet who’s part had been used by God to form our own earth. As bizarre as it seems now…I was taught this in Seminary and Sunday School and sadly I believed it…why? Because the church was true god damit.

Any religion that requires its members to hold beliefs that conflict with scientific reality is a religion that is built on a false foundation. By this standard Mormonism is a false religion.

I am so grateful that I was eventually able to find the courage to face reality and confront the various mental conflicts that Mormonism requires in order to maintain belief. I am so happy to be able to have a mind free of the burden of mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance. The truth really does set you free…

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Church Seeks Right to Discriminate Legally

I’m a history buff, I love reading and studying history. And through my study I’ve seen several recurring themes repeating themselves over and over again thoughout history…In war, some generals realize the war is lost long before the rest of the general staff come to this ultimate realization. It appear that some of the LDS Generals have come to this same conclusion with respect to marriage equality.

During World War 1, the German’s planned a massive sweep through Belgium, a neutral country, with the intent to trap the French Army in a military procedure that almost proved successful for Hannibal against the Romans nearly 2,000 years earlier. Attempt to out flank the French, cut them off from their supply lines and attack them from both their front and their rear…then demand peace terms beneficial to the Germans. They planned for the war to be over within 3-4 months and planned accordingly, having only enough ammunition to last 6 months. But despite years of preparation and planning…success hinged on two very important unknowns to happen…01. That Belgium would remain neutral and allowed Germany to just waltz through their country unobstructed and 02. That England would not come to the aid of France. Neither of these conditions happened.

Despite early victories, when Germany’s battle plans failed to play out as intended, several German Generals approached Kaiser Wilhelm II suggesting that Germany sue for peace. He demurred, and WW 1 slipped into a war of attrition…each side wearing the other down in stale mate trench warfare until one economy could no longer support the war effort. That turned out to be Germany.
A similar scenario played out during WW 2, with the inevitability of defeat apparent to all but Hitler, several generals, including some of Hitler’s closest supporters, suggested that Germany seek a peaceful end to the war one that would allow for terms that benifited Germany. But the Allies already sensed victory and knew that it was only a matter of time before Germany would be forced into unconditional surrender.

I see a similar scenario playing out with the LDS church. Their massive effort to defeat marriage equality on several fronts, in California, Arizona and Hawaii, initially brought them short term victories on the battle field of societal change. But these early victories were short lived as the tide of these efforts to deny the Gay community equality eventually created a shift in societal attitudes. Soon the church was seeing defeat after defeat in their attempt to deny equal rights as federal court after federal court struck down LDS backed laws that discriminated against the LGBT Community.
Now with the Supreme Court having decided to weigh in on this issue and settle once and for all the question of whether the Constitution guarantees marriage equality, the LDS church sees that they have lost the war, the marriage equality forces are approaching on all sides and victory for equality is all but guaranteed. So realizing their inevitable defeat what does the church decide to do? Sue for peace terms beneficial to themselves by carving out a means by which they can continue to legally discriminate.

Well I say…NO…we have them completely surrounded and we should not accept anything but their complete and unconditional surrender. There is no reason to fall for the LDS Churches last gasp attempt they have already lost the war, victory is all but assured, they baked their cake and now they should get to eat it. And I might add...they should be required to bake one for the Gay weddings as well...…/on-discrimination-th…/
Church leaders said they support some anti-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians. But they also want to protect “religious freedom.”|By Andrew Rosenthal

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Industries needed for Nephi to make a Transoceanic Ship

In a recent Mormon Expression podcast, John Larsen and his guests dive into the question of Nephi’s ship and the industries Nephi would have needed to either initiate or invent to build a ship capable of transoceanic travel

Smelting Ovens /Blast Furnaces

01. Charcoal Ovens to make charcoal for fire to make blast Furnace since there was no coal for making coke.
02. Acres of forests to get the wood needed to make the charcoal for blast furnace
03. Thousands of Nails, metal strapping, hand tools i.e. hammers, all’s, saws, sheep sheers etc.
Question: Where did he get tools to access Iron Ore in the first place?

Dry Dock

01. Excavation of earth below water line
02. Gates that hold water back
03. Pumps to keep water out

This alone would take months if not years to complete.


01. Skins needed for bellows
Make a Keel Capable of surviving an Oceanic voyage
01. Forest with trees suitable for making a keel
02. Steam to bend the Keel


01. To make the ship water tight
02. How long would it take and how many trees would one require to collect enough sap to boil down into resin to water proof Nephi's ship?

Rope Production

01. Hemp
02. Flax
03. Animal skin or
04. Wool
05. And all the specialized tools to make rope

Where did any of these materials come from? Did they grow the hemp or flax? This would require seeds and time to grow

Sheep Farming

01. Transoceanic Viking ships had a 100 square meter sail. For every square meter of sail it required 2 sheep fleeces per meter of sail clothe. So a 100 square meter of sail would require a herd of at least 200 sheep. This excludes thread. Note that sheep can only be sheered once per year. So assuming Nephi had reserve sails in case of rough weather, he had to have multiple sails in storage which double or triples the number of sheep needed or extends the time necessary to manufacture multiple sails. If Nephi’s sail was larger…then it would add to these numbers accordingly.
02. Land available for sheep grazing

Did they heard this herd of 200 + sheep from Jerusalem for 8 years through the desert just so they could make sails? If not where did these sheep come from?


01. Needed to create the clothe necessary for make a sale.
The invention of a Rudder with all of its intricacies (something that wasn’t invented 200 years after Lehi)
01. Pullies
02. Ropes
03. Gears

Food Preservation Techniques

01. Pickling
02. Food drying etc.

Water Storage

01. 02. Assuming a total of 30 people in Lehi’s party 15 men and 15 woman this would equal
02. On average a human male or female requires a minimum of 4 liters of water per day. Assuming a group of only 30 people this would require at least 120 liters of water storage per day. If I reduce this to an average need of 100 liters per day for a 200 day journey this would require 20,000 liters of water stored on the boat. There is 1,000 liters of water per square meter. 20,000 meters would barely fit in a 32’ x 64’ area. In a 30 meter ship that would take up 2/3’s of the boats holding area. This assumes they use none of it for washing, bathing or cooking. So more than likely were this boat real, it would have to be larger than 30 meters in length. This reality would increase the size of the boat to allow for more storage capacity and increases all other factors and assumptions needed to make this claimed oceanic voyage possible such as increased sail size, increased number of sheep needed, more time to manufacture ship etc.

If a 30 meter long Viking ship required over 40,000 man work hours to build and this assumes that all of the needed building materials are on site, how long would have taken Nephi?

The FAIR Wiki claims that the boat was built in 1-2 years. Really?

Raw materials needed to build a boat:

01. A forest of trees…but not just any trees tree’s capable of turning into charcoal, trees large enough for both a keep and masts (Nephi was tied to a mast)
02. Iron Ore
03. Animal skins
04. A heard of at least 200-400 sheep
05. Access to hemp or flax
06. Pasture land for grassing
07. Fresh water
08. A heard of goats for their leather needs
09. Land for farming their seeds

One panelist makes an interesting observation…if today you had to go out and make a hammer…a single hammer … on your own…from raw materials…think of all that you would have to do to support the creation of that single hammer. Now turn that thought experiment to the building of an entire transoceanic ship. Yet we are to believe that Nephi and company was able to do build this ship and make the transoceanic voyage within a few short years + maintain food gathering needs and the other random necessities of maintaining life? Ummmm…OK

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

F.A.I.R. to release **NEW THEORY** for Book of Mormon Setting

With the disappointment of the Hemispheric model ,the Limited Geography theory and the Heartland theories to produce any supporting evidence for the setting of the Book of Mormon… apologists at F.A.I.R. ,who know the conclusions before the questions are even asked, have scrambled to come up with some theory to explain where exactly Book of Mormon people actually existed. After going back to the drawing board they have come up with a brilliant new geographical theory to settle once and for all where the Book of Mormon actually took place.

The new theory, which has already produce evidentiary results, is called the “Head of Pin” theory or HOP theory for short. Knowing how difficult it is to find a pin or needles in a haystack, church apologists predict that it will take generations of searching haystacks throughout both North and South America before any pins will be found that could potentially disqualify the HOP as a viable theory for the setting of Book of Mormon people. This, they predict, will serve a dual purpose 01.) It will give the church enough time to indoctrinate multiple generations of Mormon’s with this new theory….thus giving the church continued and sustained growth for the foreseeable future and 02.) It will give the church ammunition against its critics…LDS apologists will now be able to ask…”Yes but have you searched all of the hay stacks in the Americas? And ”just because you can’t find those pins in those haystacks is not evidence that they did not exist or didn’t exist in another haystack.”

Initial results with the new theory have already shown promise… for the first time in recorded history actual evidence has been found that supports Book of Mormon claims. In what has been up to this time an embarrassing anachronism in the Book of Mormon actual evidence of Book of Mormon elephants has been found. “Evidently, …we just weren't asking the right questions, but elephants have been on the heads of pins all along…we were looking in the wrong hay stacks all this time” said FAIR spokesperson Heber C. Scoldfield, “they have been living on the heads of pins just as the Book of Mormon claims". With this new evidence Apologist now have confirmation to support the Book of Mormon claim that Elephants did in fact exist during the Book of Mormon time line. This new evidence supports Book of Mormon claims and gives reason to expect that support will be found to dismiss other Book of Mormon anachronisms in the near future with the search of enough hay stacks. “I have no doubt now that Horses also lived on pin heads in ancient Book of Mormon times.” said Scoldfield.


Excitement in the Latter-day Saint community is reaching a fever pitch with this new announcement. Already tour groups are being formed that will allow Mormon’s to actually go on hay stack pin searches throughout North and South America. Even Rodney Meldrum is rethinking his Heartland Theory saying…” Why didn’t I think of this first?…Searching for pins in hay stacks is so much more profitable then my heartland expedition tours.”

**BREAKING NEWS** New evidence found in a South American Haystack confirms that the Book of Mormon took place inside the eye of a needle

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Planting Seeds of Doubt

I love walking through the gardens at Temple Square during the spring season particularly when the daffodils and tulips are at their prime. The volunteers that plant and maintain these gardens do a masterful job in creating a beautiful patchwork of color with their placement of different varieties of flower combinations throughout the flower beds around the church office building compound and Temple Square.

Yesterday as I was walking through the gardens enjoying the volunteers work I was approached by two sister missionaries, one from France and the other from Mexico. Not wanting to get into a religious conversation, I greeted them with a smile, said hello then began to walk away when the French Sister started to engage me in a conversation. I explained that I was merely here to enjoy the flowers when she asked me if I were a member of the church.

I took a deep breath and said “no I am not”. She then asked if I was familiar with the LDS Church. I gave a slight smile again and said, “OH yes, I am quite familiar with the teachings of LDS church” She then asked if I had ever read the Book of Mormon and been able to put Moroni’s promise to the test. I replied that not only had I read the Book of Mormon many times and had put Moroni’s promise of asking God if it was not true to the test, I used to be a member of the church.

This revelation seemed to confuse her and she asked “You used to be a member of the church and left? Why would you do that?”

I took another deep breath and simple said “…well because the church is not what it claims to be…you see…the church presents itself as the one true church on the earth, holding all the authority to offer eternal life to its adherents…but that is simply a claim that is not based in reality. The church teaches fiction as reality…but its truth claims don’t sync with reality. She said what do you mean? I then said, “You’re from France, a beautiful country, France is the sight of multiple pre-historic caves containing drawings made by pre historic humans dating back 40,000 years yet the church teaches that human existence began a mere 6,000 years ago with Adam and Eve. So here we have a hard evidence example where your religions truth claims clearly conflict with reality. The church is passing off fiction as if it were the truth…which it is not.

I then turned to the Mexican sister and said “You come from a great and noble people, the Mayan civilization. The church would have you believe that you descended from a people that immigrated to the Americas from Jerusalem in 600 BC, but we know through, archeology, genetics and anthropology that your ancestors arrived in the America’s at least 14,000 years ago if not earlier via a land bridge that linked the Americas with Asia. So again church truth claims conflict with reality”

By this time the sisters seems to be somewhat flustered so I decided to double down. The church teaches that there was no death in the world prior to Adam is this correct? To which they agreed, so I pointed out all of the hard evidence proving this claim to be blatantly false. I told them that the seeds of my doubts were planted on my mission when people just like me asked hard questions that the church could not answer satisfactorily, I told them that I was once a bishopric member, had been on the high council, married in the temple and that yes even I had once born testimony that I knew with every fiber in my being that the church was true…but when I had said those words I knew in my heart that I was lying to myself, trying to make its truth fit with the reality I also knew existed…it was only when I finally put my doubts aside and made the decision to test the truth claims of the church against the empirical evidence that I came to the conclusion that despite having some good in the church its claims just did not stand up to scrutiny.

The Mexican sister then said…”wow you’re a very logical person”. I smiled and said “yes”. If the truth claims don’t sync with reality…then I reject those claims as being false truth claims.”

I then apologized for being so forthright stating that I had merely come to temple square to enjoy the flowers and not to engage in a religious conversation, but the French sister said no I asked you so it is ok. I wished them all the best on their missions but closed by saying…despite your knowing that the church is true, I believe that you also know that there is something that just doesn’t add up…Don’t be afraid to ask your religion the hard questions. Your faith must be built on a firm foundation of reality not fiction. I’ve meet with bishops, stake presidents and yes even with General Authorities …and none of them have satisfactory answers to these questions. Their only solution is to have you ignore reality…which can only cause metal conflict.

I wished them the best…and walked off. While I don’t know if what I said made any difference…perhaps, just maybe I planted that same seed that was planted in me by some forgotten person I too had met on my own mission so many years ago.

Friday, April 04, 2014

My Thoughts on John Dehlin Leaving the Church

Throughout history there have been cultural agitators who have dared to speak "truth to power", who stand unafraid, without the filter of anonymity before that power and expose the raw truth to the world. Luther, Gandhi, King and Chaves come to mind. While the Mormon world is much smaller and the hoped change of little importance in the grand scale of human history it is important to those who are affected inside this culture.

John’s agitation of Mormon hierarchy, his exposure of institutional historical whitewashing and its lack of accountability and transparency, his fearless open questioning of authority completely blindsided Mormonism’s so called prophets, seers and revelators. He caught them completely unprepared in a new internet world where some random guy from Logan could start a podcast that had the audacity to actually ask questions and expect an answer.

John became the voice for those within Mormonism’s spire who had no voice; the disaffected, the LDS- LGBQT’s, its feminists and those struggling within mix religion marriages. Not only was he their voice, he became their therapist someone who actually “got it”, who understood the struggle within the culture. He was the voice that made us feel that we weren’t crazy after all for questioning the church.

Did he do it perfectly? No. Has he accomplished every change he’s hoped? Of course not…but he has made a difference…how many of us or those who are so quick to criticize him can say that we’ve made a difference on so great a scale within the small closed world of Mormon society. John has been that voice prodding the corporate church to carve out a small place within their tent for allow for cultural Mormonism to exist side by side with faithful believing Mormons as one grand culture of Mormon's both believers and non-believers, both orthodox and unorthodox, gay and together in peace with each other.

I for one will be forever thankful that I found Mormon Stories and John Dehlin that one day some 12 years ago when I was struggling to make sense of the fractured world of Mormonism. John was real, he was unafraid to challenge, to ask the difficult questions and demand truth from power.

Does anyone really think that if not for people like John the church would be making the subtle changes that it is making today? Would woman really be offering prayers in General Conference? Would the church have shifted its stance of homosexuality acknowledging nature over nurture? Would GA’s really be out conducting recue meeting in far flung corners of Mormonism if not for people like John?

John has been that annoying mosquito pestering church authorities, demanding accountability from an institution that demands unquestioning devotion and obedience of it's male hierarchy. He was the right man at the right time.

Thank you John…for all you have done for our community I personally wish you peace where ever your life path take you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Mormon Church in a Social-Media World

For over 170 years the Mormon Church controlled its own story. It had a public relations department that could monitor, screen and manage the message that the rest of the world would receive and thus control how the public would see the organization. Its correlation department could pick and choose what foundational stories to emphasize and even which parts within these stories would be taught. More specifically the correlation department could even turn raw organic history into faith promoting stories with the power to emit faith confirming feelings by leaving out pertinent material within these stories that if left in would not achieve the same effect.

But the world changed…and God’s prophets, Seers and Revelators were caught off guard and ill prepared for the new world they were forced to operate within…the world of Social Media, internet, Facebook and Twitter . In other words, they lost control of their own message. The war they had prepared to fight…was not the war their armies found once they were deployed on the battleground. They had prepared for conventional warfare but were thrust into an insurgency war that included raid and covert operations. The new world of social media has exposed the church for the one thing that it desperately does not want to be seen as...a manmade institution functioning like all other man made institutions… subject to the same societal pressures as other manmade institutions with no evident access to any advanced inspirational insight.

Despite this shift in the churches battleground it has been slow to adapt and change. In many ways the church is still using a rulebook for a world that no longer exists. Yet it is interesting to note that this new world that the church is being forced to operate in is having an impact on the church.

• The church has had to accommodate a woman’s movement that began as a social-media campaign that demanded that the church allow woman to pray in General Conference.
• It has altered its scripture headings to accommodate the reality of its altered history being spread throughout the blogernacle regarding blacks in the priesthood, non-existence of Lehite DNA among so called Lamanites populations and the lack of support for the traditional translation story for the Book of Abraham
• It has softened its strict stance regarding the Gay community due to the overwhelming backlash from Proposition 8…it is now ok to be gay…just not actively gay.
• With the ever growing reality that the official foundational stories have been altered for faith promoting purposes…the church has rewritten lesson manuals to inoculate church members to some of these difficult issues but spun them in such a manner as to maintained belief…in effect create safe harbors where belief can be maintained.

The church has lost it the ability to control its own story…for in this new world…there is always going to be an alternative opinion to the official church narrative and both members, doubters and former members will have a voice to share their thoughts through the internet and all of its social-media outlets. The question for the church is whether or not they will adapt to this new world or continue to ignore reality and continue to fight their battles with their old playbook.

Has the church has been forced to adapt or face the inevitability of becoming irrelevant.

But the emergence of Social Media has cost the church control of its own message. It is no longer the captain of its own ship. As demonstrated by the examples given, Social media has forced the church to do things that it otherwise would not have done. It can adapt to pressures of social media and survive or it can ignore it and be religated to irrelivance.

Can we really believe that if not for social media the church would have had a woman pray in general conference? If not for the power of social media would the unvarnished foundational claims of the church become so widespread? The church is being molded not by inspiration from god but by fingers tapping out The church has become reactive rather than proactive. But then the church has always been reactive rather than proactive…pretty much what one would expect from a man made church.

I should also point out that social media also gave mass to opposing viewpoints. Before social media, the church could deal with the lone those wolves can find each other and form wolfpacks. Before social media, dissidents, doubters and skeptics sat alone in church, now they can find each other, form groups of the likeminded and reach critical mass…with the emphasis on “critical”...this mass is now demanding change with a stregth the church has never before had to face or deal with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Book that Changed the Trajectory of Human History

And NO I'm not referring to the Book of Mormon...

In 1417, a former secretary to Pope John XXIII, the pope most associated with the selling of indulgences, was on a quest to discover, or perhaps I should say, rediscover long forgotten texts from ancient Rome. His journey took him to far flung libraries in distant monasteries throughout Europe. During one such quest this secretary named Poggio Bracciolini came across the greatest discovery of his lifetime, a long forgotten scroll written by a Roman poet-philosopher, Lucretius. Christianity had been so successful in stamping out all thought that did not confirm or support its dogma that the words of Lucretius had not been read in over 1,000 years. At the time of his discovery Bracciolini could not have known, but time has shown that his discovery of this single long lost text literally change the trajectory of the world and helped nudge it out of the dark ages.

So what was it about the writings of Lucretius that had the power to reshape the path of human history? In simple terms it was the long lost, straightforward philosophy that the world we live in is random, full of chaos and undetermined. In other words it was in stark contrast to the governed, organized, predestined world of dark ages Christianity.

The philosophy of Lucretius, with its denial of Christian asceticism, enabled people to turn away from a preoccupation with angels and demons and to focus instead on things in this world: to conduct experiments without worrying about infringing on God’s jealously guarded secrets, to question authorities and challenge received doctrines, to contemplate without terror the death of the soul.

Lucretius believed that religion sucked the pleasure of living out of life by burdening the believer with guilt, dogma and superstition that prevents adherents from living an authentic, pleasurable life in reality.  It is amazing to me that this philosophy of “Secular Humanism”, so toxic to religion in general and Christianity specifically, was able to survive at all.  It also amazes me to know that secular humanism was once so prevalent in ancient Rome…was virtually stamped out by the Christian religion and literally stalled the world of human advancement and enlightenment for over 1,000 years.

You can read more about this fascinating bit of history in Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Swerve, How the World became Modern” I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Walking Through a Mormon Mine Field

Can you imagine the reaction a non-believer might receive were they to tell an ardent believer…”I would hope that by the time your son reaches the age of 12 that you too will be able to sit quietly on the sidelines with me and respectfully maintain your composure as all the other men in the room place their hands on your son’s head and act as if they are really conferring some super human magical power on your son”

Yet something similar to this recently happened to me as my grandson was ordained a deacon in the Mormon Aaronic Priesthood.

Being a non-believer in Utah and trying to navigate an authentic life among zealous adherents of Mormonism has its challenges…one of which is having to perform our high wire act and navigate the mine field that is require if we wish to maintain mutual respect with these Uber- TBM’s.  

Yet it seems that these rules of mutual respect are actually a one way street where  firm believers  feel they can ignore boundaries because they perceive that they have a God given right to disrespect us whenever they get a tingly feeling in their bosom.

Some back ground:  I’ve been out of the church for over 10 years.  After years of hard work my wife and I have reached a place where we mutually respect each other…despite the fact that we fervently disagree with the other’s beliefs.  We’ve agreed to disagree and still love each other for who we are.  We find the good in each other.  And I consider myself fortunate to have found this balance in my marriage.

Despite my personal feeling towards the church…part of being mutually respectful to my family means that I attend church functions of this type in a supportive role despite my personal feeling on the subject.  It’s part of being respectful of their beliefs.

During the ordination I sat with the women as the other men in the room collectively ordained my grandson to the office of a deacon.  As soon as the prayer had concluded…my grandson’s “other grandfather”, a good, well meaning, former Stake President approached me, put his arm around my shoulder and said. “Cr@ig, I would hope that by the time our grandson becomes an Elder in 4 years, I will be able to place my hand on your shoulder in the circle as we both confer upon him the Melchizedek Priesthood”.

As if sitting quietly with the woman as a non-participant while my grandson is sucked further into Mormonism’s lies isn’t enough…now I have to be completely disrespected and bite my tongue to avoid publically embarrassing my wife  as this well-meaning yet delusional man offends me by completely disregarding my non-belief.

I smiled and thanked him for his thoughtfulness…and said “that’s not going to happen” and turned and walked away.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oh the Evil Designs of Science....

A group of scientists have recently released a new study that claims to have found Indian (India) DNA markers in the native populations of Aboriginal Australia.  This would suggest that an Indian (India) immigration had taken place to Australia some 4,300 years ago….leaving behind their DNA in the population and other proofs of the immigration through non-native animals being introduced into the eco system and new tool technologies appearing in the same timeline that the DNA first appeared.  You can read the article here…

 While I appreciate the effort of these so called scientists in  thiking that they have discovered one of the founding population origins of the native population of this aboriginal population… after reading this article I have to say…sorry nice try… but “BULL SHIT” on this so–called scientific DNA study and here’s why…

These scientists are suggesting that a small group of non-native immigrants arrived in Australia by boat, bringing non-native animals and new tool technology with them AND actually LEFT Behind evidence of doing so????? Bull Shit...this sort of thing does not happen in real life.

We KNOW that small immigrations made by boat to distant lands preserved and set aside like Australia and the Americas do not leave behind any DNA evidence of their interbreeding with the native populations nor any evidence of any non-native plant life they might bring with them nor do they ever allow evidence of the non-native animal population they may introduce into these new eco systems. And we also know that any new superior tool technology they may introduced into these new populations is quickly forgotten by the generations that follow who prefer to hold on to their inferior traditions rather then have improvments in their lifestyles and have them past down from one generation to another....I don't know where these scientists come up with this they think I'm stupid enough to believe in their fiction.

IF this so-called scientific study had any credibility it would have confirmed what we already know to be true….that anytime a  small group of immigrants make a boat journey across the ocean…to formerly unknown continants they can only be credible if they leave NO evidence of doing so…this is where these scientists Fucked up. They supposed that ancient immigrations would actually leave behind signs of their migrations. Big Mistake...we know from the example of the Nephites, Lamanites and Jaredites, found in the Book of Mormon, that real migrations don't leave behind evidence of their jounrneys to new worlds...these sorts of things  just don't happen in The REAL WORLD.
It was just bad science for this team of scientists to assume that ancient immigrations would actually leave behind proof of their existence...If only these so called scientists had read God's words in the Book of Mormon...they would have known that ancient colonizations don't leave behind DNA  evidence in the native populations they mate with nor introduce new animal species that actually leave proof of their existence. Real civilizations don't do this sort of thing.

Take the Nephites as an example....they introduced horses into the Americans in 600 BCE...but they never allowed these horses to leave behind evidence. How stupid do these scientists think we are?
But there is hope…As always the great minds at BYU are ready to step in and save the day by helping these less educated scientists correct the errors in their study’s premise … they have  several great theories that have been proven to be both faith promoting and true by the Book of Mormon called the bottle effect or if that doesn't work try the founders effect or even genetic drift.

It's going to be fun to watch all of the fall out these silly scientists are going to take as their study to smashed apart by the real scientists at BYU... They'll never know what hit em...

One final warning to those ill-informed, un-Book of Mormon trained scientists who conducted this study...I direct you to the important ingredient that you failed to include in your study of ancient Australian DNA. If only you had done a Google search prior to embarrassing yourself in the world scientific community and read this article....found in the Lord's Newspaper ... tml?pg=all would have been taught bottle neck, genetic drift and founder effect...

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is the Book of Mormon Modern or Ancient?

Is the Book of Mormon Modern or Ancient?

If the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be…a translation of ancient golden plates holding the religious history of the forefathers of the American Indians… then it’s version of Christ’s sermons, found in 3 Nephi , should be the most pure, direct version of Christ’s sermons in existence. For it would not have to gone through all the alterations and human errors that were inherent in the reproduction process that produced our current Bible. In other words the Book of Mormon was not exposed to the errors of men and had the added advantage of coming to man directly through the gift and power of God Himself.

Because of the pure process that gave us the Book of Mormon, one would not expect to find any of the mistakes found in our current Bible’s rendering of Christ’s sermon….because the Book of Mormon was not dependant on the same process that gave us the Bible …right?

Prior to the printing of the Book of Mormon, mankind relied on ancient Greek manuscripts from the second century, translated, transcribed, added to, deleted from through 1000’s of human hands and 1000’s of years to give us the words of Christ. A comparison of the earliest copies of these Greek manuscripts to later copies has shown that there were hundreds of changes, errors and additions from those early manuscripts. Because each of these changes occurred after the original documents were written in the first century AD and after the events supposedly took place in America…one would NOT expect to find the same mistakes, changes and additions that are found in the King James Bible to be found in the Book of Mormon’s versions of christ’s sermon on the mount.

But does this claim stand up to scrutiny? Is the Book of Mormon an actual translation of the abridged written words of an ancient American prophet named Mormon or the product of a talented but flawed mind? Did Mormon abridge plates that he had inherited giving a purer version of Jesus Christ’s sermon or did Joseph Smith merely plagiarize and then change a few words around to produce his version of Christ’s sermon?

A close examination of the various versions of the Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6 shows some surprising revelations.

We are all familiar with the widely used King James Version of the Lord’s Prayer and the one found in the Book of Mormon.

King James Matthew 6:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

And 3 Nephi 13:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

It’s interesting to note that these two versions differ in several key areas. The Book of Mormon failed to include 2 sentences found in the common KJV of the Lord’s Prayer.

01. Thy kingdom come.
02. Give us this day our daily bread.

So are we to conclude that Christ did not say these words to the Nephites…or had men merely added these words in the many years since Christ had supposedly uttered these words to the masses in Galilee and the Book of Mormon represents a purer form of Christ’s sermon?

But wait…there is more…our current Lord’s Prayer found in today’s King James version…is NOT the same as the original 1611 A.D. first edition copy of the KJV.

The Lord’s Prayer as it was originally printed in the 1611 A.D. KJV

“Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Amen. “

Note that in the original KJV Both of the sentences left out of the Book of Mormon version were included in the BoM…but the last sentence …” For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” is NOT found in the original first edition 1611 A.D. KJV nor in ANY earlier version of the Lord’s Prayer.

It doesn’t take a Biblical scholar to see that this last line was added…in fact it started to show up in the versions of the KJV of the Bible in 1700 and it is NOT present in any prior version nor in ANY of the original Greek manuscripts.

A simple comparison of the 1611 AD KJV Bible and latter versions show that this line was added by “man” to the JKV of the Lord’s Prayer in the early 1700’s. so it begs the question...why would it be in the Book of Mormon?

But wait these is still more…

An exact translation of the Lord’s Prayer from our earliest Original Greek Manuscripts into English… reads…

"This, then, is how you should pray:

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one'

Note how both sentences removed from the Book of Mormon ARE found in translations from our earliest Greek Manuscripts…yet do NOT include the last sentence found in the Book of Mormon’s version which had been added by man in the 1700’s

So is the Book of Mormon what it claims to be?

If it IS a translation of ancient scripture…why does it include man-made additions from the 1700’s?

If it is a more pure rendering of Christ’s sermon, why doesn’t it include the same words given in our earliest Greek formats?

If during the translation process, Joseph took a short cut when he saw Christ familiar sermon being given again to the Nephites, why did he remove those 2 sentences if he was trying to give a more pure form of Christ’s sermon and still leave in the man-made parts?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Same Process-Different Outcome

Why some people leave Mormonism and others choose to remain when faced with rational challenges to their faith”

Several years ago I had an exchange with several posters on the F.A.I.R. blog. I have gone back recently and re-read my contribution. I believe that those interested my find interest with this exchange.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An Interesting Encounter

Earlier today a young man entered my office seeking my advice…This is not unusual for someone in my line of business. But it is a rare day when someone comes to me, in my capacity as an apostate, seeking advice regarding of all subjects…religion…particularly the Mormon religion. But it happened today.

A bit of background:

Several years ago, during the same period of time that I was going through my enlightenment/apostasy, my daughter happened to be dating this same young man. To ease the pain of her father’s loss of belief in the one true church, my daughter poured her TBM heart out to this young man. Needless to say, he remembered that he had once dated the daughter of an apostate and came to me for some apostate advice. You see…he is now, a non believer too.

Flash forward to today, turns out this young Mormon man has fallen head over heels in love with a TBM girl. But as I said, he is anything but TBM. He was baptized …has struggled with wrapping his brain around the Mormon paradigm despite many attempts to do so, as a result did not go on the required mission. (How he dated my daughter I’ll never know) None of this however mattered until he started to date and fall in love with the TBM.

As he entered my office and even before he introduced himself he asked “Do you go to church?” with a smile on my face, I replied “Nope”. He then said, “Good I’m in the right place”.

Over the course of the next hour he poured out his heart about his relationship with this girl, explaining their love for each other and his unsuccessful attempt, at her insistence, to find a way to “believe”. She will not be married in any place other than a Temple built to the Mormon god.

He was aware from his discussions with my daughter, that I have been able to live a happy life with my very TBM wife and wanted to know HOW this was possible. He also wanted to know if faking belief for her sake would work. I shared the following advice with him.

01. I told him that faking belief was a recipe for disaster and would result in the ultimate destruction of his future marriage. That any marriage worth participation in must be built on a foundation of mutual respect for who each partner in the marriage really “IS” rather than on whom one partner wishes their spouse to be.

02. That he was fighting an uphill battle…that the Mormon Church would use all of its cultural influence to destroy his relationship and do everything it can to dissuade his girlfriend from engaging in a relationship with a non-believer. He confirmed that the” Mormon Machine “was already trying to undermine his relationship.

03. That for his relationship to work, his girlfriend must love him more than she loves the church…something that TBM’s are programmed from an early age not to do.

04. That if he can’t get his girlfriend to respect his right to his current worldview as much as she wants her own worldview to be respected…that the relationship is doomed.

05. I also confided in him, that I live everyday knowing that despite the love my wife and I share for each other…we both know that if my wife knew then what she knows now…she would have never agreed to marry me.

We also discussed the many reasons that Mormonism is not what it claims to be…and that a frontal attack on his girlfriends beliefs is futile. For there to be any hope for his relationship to work…both must compromise, respectful of each other’s beliefs (or lack thereof) and abandon all hope of ever dissuading the other.

Following our conversation, this young man…with a somewhat more sober understanding of his situation…thanked me for my candor. I offered to meet with both he and his girlfriend any time should he feel it beneficial. I wished him luck but added that he needs to be prepared for the worst. Thus is a the path of TBM/non-believer relationships…they rarely work out because of the inflexibility of TBM’s...I count my blessing everyday that so far I am an exception…

Friday, December 04, 2009

Dear Abby...Ah I Mean Cr@ig

Ok I know I said I was done blogging….BUT, I received what I consider a sincere plea for advice from a wife of someone who has discovered that the church is not what it claims to be. Her plea touched my heart; it could have been my own wife for all I know…since it sounds so much like what she and I have talked about so many times before as we have struggled to survive my apostasy.

So I’ve decided to share my advice in a full blown blog post (Maggie I hope that that is ok with you.)

What do you do upon learning that your spouse has lost belief in Mormonism?


I have enjoyed your blog. I think you are a great person and I am so sorry for what you have had to go through. I want your advice. I still love the church. I know that everything that is taught is not true but it is such a part of me. It has helped me become the person I am today. I love attending church, singing hymns, listening to the prayers, and enjoy many of the wonderful lessons and talks. It makes me want to be a better person. So I guess you could say it works for me. My problem is that my spouse no longer believes in anything and doesn't want to have anything to do with it anymore. My spouse is so bitter about it all. I am fine with my spouse being a nonbeliever. But it is so difficult living with someone who is so negative about it. I just wished my spouse could say I don't buy it but if it is a good thing for you then that is great. It is so, so, so, so, hard when something that is meaningful to you is hated by your spouse. It is just damned hard. Any advice to someone who is hurting and frustrated?

Dear Maggie,

Much of what you’ve said could have been said by my own wife many times over. Once I came to the conclusion that the church was not what it claimed to be…I too became very bitter and angry and wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with it. But with time…my bitterness has dissipated. I’ll even be attending the First Presidency’s Christmas Fireside this Sunday evening at the conference center with my wife. I do this because I love my wife.

So here is my advice based on having lived on both sides of the fence:

01. If you love your husband and he loves you AND you want your marriage to survive….then love each other for WHOM each of you are … not for whom you want each other to be.

02. Give him the time and space to sort out his pain of discovering that the church isn’t exactly what he had always thought it was…trust me when I say…for those of us who have come to this conclusion…that discovery is very painful.

03. Let your husband know that both of you need to put each other first rather than your respective belief systems. Although as LDS members we’re taught that God and Church come before family…I personally believe that this is backasswards. Put your marriage/family first…before your church.

04. Garner mutual respect…each of you needs to respect that you both have needs. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Let him know that he is always welcome to accompany you to church if and whenever he may desire to do so in the future. But also let him know that you accept that he may never want to do so and that that is ok with you too. Basically mutual respect means that both of you are willing to be less dogmatic and more pragmatic…in other words more willing to make compromise to accommodate each other’s needs (this does not mean that he “must” attend church with you)

05. Don’t use the church as a wedge to divide…rather respect that your husband has legitimate reasons to no longer believe…but at the same time he needs to respect that you too have your reasons to want to continue to associate with the church.

06. Show your husband this post…get his input…be willing to talk about this…kill the 500lbs gorilla in the room.

07. Somehow get to the place where the difference in your beliefs is no bigger of a deal then you choosing to shop at Macy’s while he prefers shopping at Nordstrom’s…both stores have their pluses and minuses…but in the grand scheme of things…who cares which store you shop at, if it makes each of you happy to shop at different stores…it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

08. AND again, he needs to respect your desire to remain an active member of the LDS Church and do all he can to support you by not making it difficult for you to attend and participate. But at the same time don’t stand in his way should he chose to go golfing Sunday morning while you attend church. See we’re supporting each other’s respective beliefs…not placing conditions on each other…we love each other in spite of those differences…because we are loving who they are and not what we want them to be.

I might add…that I find it sad when a believing LDS spouse places a religion above a marriage and chooses to end a marriage because of the apostasy of one spouse. I cannot see how someone who is taught that the family is the most important unit of the church…can chose to divide a family because one family member loses belief in said church. (The same can be said of the apostate spouse who chooses to end a marriage over a spouse who wants to remain actively involved in Mormonism…ending a marriage over religion…is just plain stupid)

I hope this helps...


Thursday, November 12, 2009

I‘ve Just Lost Interest in Mormonism

I’m going to take a hiatus from actively posting on my blog. As the title suggests I’ve just lost interest in discussing Mormonism. As I mark nearly 7 years since exiting the church…It has become an ever decreasing part of my life. To put it frankly, I just don’t give a shit about it anymore. As far as I’m concerned it can wither and die or it can flourish and fill the whole earth…I could absolutely care less…as long as it leaves me alone.

Mormonism is in my rear view mirror.

When I began this blog, I was devastated upon learning that the church I had loved, lived and believed with all my heart was nothing more than a fictional reality… It was nothing more than yet another man made religion created by man to suit the whims and desires of a man. My hero Joseph, turned out to be the ultimate flim flam man…a fraud.

A good friend of mine once said…”Mormonism might just be the greatest church ever invented…but if it was invented, I want nothing to do with it.”
Best wishes to all who have or will venture here…

I wish you nothing but the best in life,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spiritual Experiences Can Be Used to Manipulate Us

I freely admit that the primary basis for my loss of believe in Mormonism is that I took it so literally and blindly. I accepted every pronouncement from church authorities spoken at conference, written in the Ensign, or published in their many books…Hook, Line and Sinker....and as the word of God

When the church and church scriptures taught that Adam left the garden 6,000 ago I literally believed it. When I was taught by the general authorities that there was no death on earth prior to Adams exit from Eden, I accepted it as an essential doctrine for the justification of and evidence for the need of an atonement.

When Spencer Kimble, declared in conference that every native American from Alaska to the tip of South America and the Islands of the Pacific were descendants of Father Lehi…I never questioned. The Prophet had spoken; the thinking had already been done.

When the Book of Mormon established Noah’s universal flood and the Tower of Babel as real historical events I accepted this whole cloth. I now find each of these claims unbelievable and unsubstantiatable.

While serving my mission, I had many so called spiritual experiences. One that stands out in my mind involved a book that shook me to the core. An investigator had given me a copy of Gerald and Sandra Tanners ”Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?” This was considered Hard Core anti Mormon stuff at the time and probably still is. Of course having a firm testimony of the gospel and knowing that real truth can stand up to any scrutiny, I accepted the challenge to read the book and get back with these people. Unfortunately, the book had the opposite effect than I had hoped on me; it exposed the ugly underbelly of Mormonism in a manner of which I had never been informed. The book showed photo copies of all the changes in the D&C, additions inserted in God’s so called revelations made to enhance Joseph Smiths claim to authority, eye witness accounts of Joseph’s drinking and tobacco use after the Word of Wisdom had been revealed. You see I was of that generation when Joseph had been made into a man-god (seemingly without fault) something I now know to not be true…he was very much a man with all the complicated personality traits and flaws all humans have. There were all the prophecies made by Joseph that NEVER came true, even one involving his prophecy regarding church members teaching the inhabitants of the Moon (yeah I know its bizarre, but he actually did prophecy such things) he even went on to describe their dress (like Quakers) so typical of Joseph now when I look back. All the information was documented from church records and accounts…and it blew me out of the water.

In a matter of minutes, I was rocked to the core of my being. I literally crumbled to the floor in a fetal position and shivered…during that HOT summer day.
I KNEW the church was true…I had felt the spirit so many times in my life…but these revelations were so detrimental to the truth claims of the church that if found true drew only one logical conclusion…the church could not be what it claims to be and these things also be true… at the same time.

I retreated to another room…and fell to my knee’s… Dear God, my Father I pleaded…if ever there was a need for You in my life it is now. I have lovingly served you tirelessly and I have asked for nothing in return…but dear Father…I need you now. These things cannot be true AND the church be what it claims to be. So I am telling you what I need from you. If this book is true…you need do nothing…leave it where I let it fall. BUT if it is NOT true…then I plead dear Father, knowing that You have all power to do all things…I ask You to Move that book off my bed and place it across the room to the opposite side of my room and place it on my companions bed. I know it is a sin to ask for a sign…but I NEED this…

I then concluded the most earnest prayer of my life and returned to my room. (I might add that my comp had been in another room studying during this entire incident he was oblivious to what I had been going through). I fully expected to return to my room and find the book laying exactly where I had left it (my faith had been so devastated…where upon I would have packed my suitcase and gone home from my mission a broken man) But as I walked into the room…the book was NOT where I had left it… God in His wisdom had performed my own personal miracle. As I entered the room…the book was on the other side of the room sitting on my companion’s bed. (I know gives you goose bumps doesn’t it) I again fell to my knees thanking God for answering my most fervent prayer…all doubts left…I was filled with the most wonderful spirit I had ever experienced in my life…I knelt there in my room crying, thanking God for His love and knew that the contents of that book was filled with NOTHING but lies and distortions. I went on to serve a wonderful mission serving as District leader, Zone Leader and as Assistant to the President. I returned from my mission with honor.

So why hasn’t this most powerful of spiritual experiences sustained me? Because in the end the claims made by the Tanners had in fact been based in some truth…but what about that book…didn’t it move across the room? Well yes it did. It turns out that while I had been praying my companion had come into our room , picked up the book, looked at it, then sat it back where he had been sitting…on his own bed. Yeah the argument could be made that GOD prompted my companion to do that…at least that’s what I believed at the time…but IF the Tanner material IS factual (and it is) can the church be true and the Tanners be telling the truth as well? Personally, it would be equivalent to having the Sun rise both in the East and the West at the same time.

So, based on my personal experience I’ve concluded that human emotions are a bad device to base truth claim on…Why? Because human emotions can be manipulated, we can deceive ourselves when using the so called prompting of the spirit…it just is not a valid standard upon which to measure truth claims on.

Bottom Line truth and faith must be based (at least on some level) on facts and reality...not fiction...Mormonism is based on the latter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Apologizing for Mormon Apologists

This past week, the apologetic arm of the Mormon Church, (FAIR) Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, met at its annual conference to present its latest apologetic arguments to defend the Mormon Church. The highlights, (I use that term lightly), of the conference were published by Deseret News in the most recent “Church News”.

I feel bad for FAIR, having to defend an institution that hobbles its defenders with one uncompromisable premise. That no matter what the facts, no matter what the reality, no matter what the circumstances…there can be only one answer to all difficult questions…the Mormon Church is true.

In other words, Mormon apologists must start with the answer fixed and immovable and work backwards from that premise BEFORE the question is even asked. They cannot use standard methods usually utilized in truth discovery, such as rigorous examination, questioning, testing and scrutiny to come to a conclusion. No, they must begin all arguments with their conclusion first (that the church, no matter the argument, no matter how absurd the logic used, no matter how painful the mental gymnastics applied ... IS TRUE). The Church requires one uncompromisable rule, start with the desired conclusion (the church is true) and work backwards.

The problem with starting any search for truth using the straight jacket approach employed by Mormon apologists is that it requires them to come up with all kinds of bizarre, unbelievable explanations to defend beliefs that if subjected to any other standard method of examination would simply come to the conclusion that the belief is false…or simply put, Mormonism is not what it claims to be.

Take for example the apologetic augments John Gee used at the recent FAIR conference to apologize for the Book of Abraham.

“While critics of the Church often challenge the authenticity of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, they attach more importance to it than Church members do themselves” – John Gee, 2009 FAIR Conference

REALLY???? Critics attach more importance to it then Church members?????? WTF???

Sorry John, you’re selling, but I’m not buying. The bogus Book of Abraham is one of four “canonized” books of Mormon scripture. Last time I checked…it wasn’t the critic’s that canonized the Book of Abraham…it was the members of the Mormon Church. The mere fact that the church has made the decision to distant itself from the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the Book of Abraham, by attaching less importance to it…IS the direct cause of Mormon critic’s who have shined the bright light of truth on the bogus Book of Abraham…and it is that truth that has caused the Mormon Church to diminish the importance of the Book of Abraham out of necessity in the hope that by doing so the fraud will not be discovered by the general church membership.

But hey John….knowing that you are bailing water from a ship that is taking on water faster than you can bail…you then turn to your standard uncompromisable premise.

"The book of Abraham is true," said Brother Gee, author of A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri, at the end of his presentation. "I think it can be defended. I think it should be defended. But it's not the be-all-and-end-all of either apologetics or research or the scriptures."

There it is…you didn’t disappoint us…the Book of Abraham is true…a total dismissal of reality and its true despite not being what it claims to be….a translation of the writings of Abraham, by his own hand. BUT WAIT do I detect a sign of doubt???
You "THINK" it can be defended? Are you not sure it can be defended…are you growing tired of the fight in defending the undefendable?

But knowing that the Book of Abraham is beyond salvaging…and knowing that the Book of Abraham IS one of the many pieces of the Jig Saw that confirms that Joseph Smith was a complete fraud and charlatan…you then pivot your augment.

You say, "We cannot afford to lose sight of the big picture,"

And what, do tell is that Big Picture? Oh yeah…the answer to the question that was given before the question was even asked…that the church is true no matter what.

So are we done yet? Oh no…we’re only beginning…

Never one to fail…you then offer this gem.

"Now where is the Book of Abraham in this?" he asked. "It isn't. The Book of Abraham is not central to the restored gospel of Christ."

REALLY??? Can the Book of Abraham be a complete and utter fraud and Mormonism still be all it claims to be??? I DON’T THINK SO…

But rather than explore this gapping question you simply choose to continue:

"First, the arguments about the Book of Abraham have become so complex that even the best and brightest of critics end up arguing unwittingly in favor of the LDS position.”The Document of Breathings made by Isis is not the Book of Abraham, and most Latter-day Saints have never claimed it was," he said. "Can we agree on that issue and move on?"

I understand why Mormon apologists want to move on from this embarrassingly impossible to win argument…and of course latter day saints haven’t claimed that the Breathings of Isis were the source of the Book of Abraham for to do so would be to admit defeat…so can we agree on THAT issue and move on? Yeah sure, just as soon as Mormon apologetics admit that the Book of Abraham is a fraud…your getting close to doing so…but come on just come clean and admit it.

"Second, the critics do not deal with the issues arising from the Book of Abraham that Latter-day Saints care about. In that sense, their approach is legerdemain and bait-and-switch".

Are you suggesting that the Mormon faithful don’t really care if the Book of Abraham is what it claims to be? Umm I rather doubt that…

"Third, how the Book of Abraham was translated is unimportant. The Church does not stand or fall on the Book of Abraham".

Of Course, YOU would say that Joseph’s translation process is unimportant…lol…because the real translation confirms that Joseph’s version was completely bogus. This is why Mormon apologist have had to come up with the bizarre notion that Joseph merely used the papyri to “channel” God’s revelation…because the Book of Abraham is nowhere close to a translation of the Egyptian characters found on the papyri. But clearly the record shows that Joseph wanted his associated to think he could translate…(to perpetrate his fraud) why else would he go to such lengths to write long verses from single Egyptian characters that we now know were not even close to what Joseph said they were.

"And fourth, regardless of how the Book of Abraham was translated, it is a remarkable document that tells us more about Abraham's day than Joseph Smith could have known."

There you go again dismissing the translation process…lol…But I do agree with you that it is a remarkable document that makes some of the most bizarre claims in all of Mormondom. i.e., Kolob, loaning its light to our own sun which is just…totally false and just plain bizarre. Or the claim that one day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh….LOL it’s just plain silly gibberish Joseph made up because he thought others would think this was Egyptian talk. So YES it is a remarkable document…ah if one is truly interested in seeking truth rather than defending a fraud.

In defense of John Gee and FAIR, I have sympathy for them; they are bailing water from a ship that is taking on water faster than they can remove it. They have allowed their collective brains to be bent in so many loops and knots that they can no longer think critically. And with the availability of the internet…information is now accessible that had long been held from church membership.

FAIR is at a great disadvantage because it is literally crippled by the agenda restrains placed on it by the Mormon church…and if one of the members of FAIR were to dare come to a conclusion contrary to the “authorized pre-conceived answer”…they would quickly be excommunicated, cast off and dismissed (like we are) as wicked, pathetic, misguided tools of the mythical Satan.