Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Joseph Smith Jr vs Charles Darwin

I’ve been reading a book on the life of Charles Darwin, a contemporary of Joseph Smith. I can’t help but see many of the same thought processes, cognitive dissonance and ah hah moments in Darwin’s life that I have experienced in my life. It is interesting to see Darwin’s thought process “evolve” as he is presented with more and more information that conflicts with what he had been taught throughout his life. Somehow I relate.

Darwin was brought up in a somewhat freethinking family. His father wanted him to study medicine and be a doctor. He didn’t enjoy medicine so after a few years of medical study altered his focus to become a clergyman ... of all things.

At the time of Darwin, society believed that God created all life. Each living creature was His perfect creation. God being perfect , created each living thing to be exactly as it was, there was no variation...each was Gods creation by design.

But as Darwin was soon to discover during his voyage on the Beagle... reality did not support this long held religious explanation for the existance of life on the earth. Facts don’t lie. And as Darwin soon discovered, there was variation within the same species living on different islands. But how could this be? Did God Create different versions of the same animals and place them on different islands? Did Noah place these animals throughout the earth? And how did an original population of finches from the mainland migrate to the Galapagos and then change into several species? Yet there was no denying reality... Darwin could tell which island a particular bird or turtle or lizard lived on based simply on the variations each of these animals held from their cousin species living on different islands.

The light didn’t go on immediately for Darwin. It took months of study before he privately concluded that animal life evolved from one generation to the next through mutation and adaptation, “Natural Selection” and many more years before he took his evolution theory public.
Darwin’s theory of Evolution was heretical. It forever changed how we view the world. TRUTH and ANSWERS to DIFFICULT QUESTIONS drove Darwin irrespective of where they may take him. Society, religion, culture, reputation be damned.

As a former believer in Mormonism, my world was turned upside down as well. When I finally decided to examine the beliefs of my youth and subject them to the buffetings of reality. I placed the foundational claims of Joseph Smith on the “Scales of Truth” and found them out of balance.

Just like Darwin ... each of us has had or is seeking our ah hah moment ... our own epiphany of clarity, when the puzzle pieces of cognitive dissonance finally fall into place and the fog of confusion is lifted.

For those of you still in pursuit of this clarity ... stay focused on your desire for truth; know that there are answers to difficult questions. For those of you have had those puzzle pieces fall into place, well done, you have chosen correctly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fighting Through the Darkness

Yesterday I posted on opportunities I passed on that could have led me out of the church at a much younger age. I detailed some of the difficult feelings I had when I first confronted evidence that conflicted with official foundational stories I had been taught at church. I now know that these feelings were nothing more than my brain reacting, trying to accommodate incompatible information that was at variance with other seemingly true church claims. Black can not be both black and white at the same exact time. The earth can not be both 6 billion years old and 6,000 years old at the same time...sorry folks but I’m just not smart enough to accept this. There can’t both be "no death" prior to Adam and "death" prior to Adam it has to be one or the other. I can't see where the Mormon God, being all-perfect, would use a tool of fraud to translate his so-called sacred scripture and then hide this fact from the general church membership. Yet these are examples of exactly what we were supposed to believe. It was obvious that these claims can not both be true at the same time. Just as two objects can not occupy the same space at the same time...two opposing truth claims can not both be true at the same time. Either one is true or the other is false. or both are false...but both can not both be true. Our minds are incapable of holding two conflicting notions as being true at the same time...we either embrace one or reject the other or merely ignore the reality of the conflicting claim. There is no middle ground.

As TBM’s most of us gave the church the benefit of doubt, at least at first. For me it was just unfathomable that this so-called organization that claimed to be the vessel of all moral, ethical and religious authority in the Universe could be anything other than what it claimed. Yet here I was as a young missionary being exposed to information that was 180 degrees opposite from what I had been taught...and to make matters worse the information seemed so could this be? Thus the cognitive dissonance and the swing into darkness.

In my own experience, it took years for me to accumulate enough inconsistent information for the scales to finally tip against the church. I fought hard for this not to happen. I compartmentalized, ignored, rationalized and excused everything that conflicted with the official church claim. And even then, I didn’t want to believe that the organization I had given my life to was based on a fraud.

I fought hard NOT to accept the truth. I’ve risked practically everything I value in this life...but in the end the accumulation of knowledge was so overwhelming that I had to finally accept it.

Those who have gone through a near death drowning experience say that once they accepted the reality of death, they found an unbelievable peace. In that place just between consciousness and darkness they find peace. Acceptance of their reality that life was over is part of finding this peace. They fight like hell NOT to die...yet in the end they find peace through acceptance. This is were I am with my loss of belief in Mormonism. I have fought like hell to maintain a belief in unbelievable things... I gave Mormonism over 40 years of my life... I NEVER wanted the church NOT to be everything that it claims to be, yet to my utter surprise it was only after I accepted my reality that I was able to find the light at the end of the tunnel and find peace with my life.

To all of you still fighting to maintain belief...take your time...fight like hell if you must ...but you will only find peace with acceptance of reality.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Missed Opportunities"

As I reflect back on my life, I’m reminded of several opportunities I had to see the church for what it is. I now view these moments as opportunities lost...opportunities I let pass...because I was afraid of what the results of a critical examination might bring.

The first missed circumstance occurred while I was serving my mission. An investigator family decided not to take my companions and my word on the historical claims of the church and did some additional research at the local library. The result of this research was the total rejection of the church by this family. Needless to say my comp and I were devastated. We had labored hard to teach this golden family only to have them discover lies about the church. When I pressed this family on their so-called research, they challenged me to read what they had discovered. I agreed to do so. I had a perfect knowledge that the church was all it claimed to be...nothing could dissway me of its truth...or so I naively thought. They presented me with a copy of the Tanner book “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality”.

Nothing in my years of seminary, institute and other church education had prepared me for what I found contained within the pages of this book. To be honest with you, its contents sent unbelievable chills of fear and pain up and down my spine. Every page I read presented me with information that caused my mind to react in a manner I had never experienced in my life. I felt my world literally collapsing in upon itself, literally imploding. Like a car quickly entering a dark black tunnel...yet there was no light at its exit, the foundational basis of my life had disappeared in a flash. I remember the room I was in literally spinning out of control around me. I closed my eyes to gain my balance; my world had turned to blackness in an instant. Looking back now I know that what I was experiencing was a major case of cognitive dissonance.

My young Uber TBM mind could not even fathom the alternative truths contained in that book.Within a split second my life had forever innocence was gone...despite my denials I knew in my heart that there was something very very ugly and very very secret at the core of Mormonism.

I was an extremely focused, Uber missionary at the top of my game. I was the senior zone leader and I had loved every moment of my mission up to this point. But dear God was it all a lie? How could this be? I turned to God for an answer. I fell to my knees and prayed with ever fiber of my being, demanding that God send me a sign that what I had discovered was not real...I demanded that God put my reality and life back together. At the very moment I was ready to accept the truth, pack my bags, return home and confront the people in SLC who had lied to me, my years of programming kicked into action. And God answered my demand for a sign. I told God that He must move the Tanner Book across the room from where I had placed it prior to my entering my prayer. Upon completion of my prayer...God had in fact answered my prayer...when I entered my bedroom the book was in fact across the room (in the hands of my companion) But holy shit God does work through natural means doesn’t He?

That experience didn’t answer any of the problems I discovered in the Tanner book, but it was enough for me to discard everything I had discovered. I dismissed all of it as anti-Mormon lies. It was my first missed opportunity to discover the truth behind Mormonism. But a seed had been planted.

The second missed opportunity came a few years later during the Mark Hoffman fiasco. Following my mission I had successfully placed all of the difficult discoveries in an airtight compartment in the back of my mind. I had effectively sealed it up with no intention of ever having to repeat that awful experience I had survived as a young missionary. But little did I know that there were microscopic fissures in my testimony and reality was about to make another major frontal attack on those weak spots.

I was serving as a fanatical Elders Quorum President when Mark Hoffman's story erupted or should I say exploded into my life. But this time I was somewhat prepared for the assault to my faith. Those who remember these short but difficult months will remember that we as members of the church had to redefine just about everything we had believed about the foundational claims of the church.

Thanks to Mark Hoffman, church members now had to adjust our understanding of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It was my first exposure to the folklore, back woods occult and magical worldview of the Joseph Smith Sr family. As members we had to somehow find a way to assimilate and accommodate a new worldview, the “White Salamander” changing into the Angel Moroni. All of the “Cog Dis” I thought I had safely placed in the far distant back recesses of my mind were starting to bubble and ooze forth and rumble in the pit of my stomach like a bad Mexican dinner with each new Hoffman discovery. I decided then and there that I had to know the truth, church be damned.

I started on a new mission to discover and examine the foundational claims of the church. I bought and started to read Michael Quinn’s “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” and I booked tickets to Nauvoo so that I could explore and see first hand what the historical claims of the church were.

My wife and I arrived in Nauvoo on a beautiful October afternoon. The fall colors were at their peak and as fate would have it...the local newspapers were awash with a major breaking news story. Mark Hoffman had just blown himself up in Salt Lake City. Police where pointing their finger at him as the perpetrator of other bombings that had plagued Salt Lake City throughout the preceding months. With this revelation his whole fraud/forgery scheme was testimony dodged another bullet and lived to testify another day. The seed, unbeknownst to me, had spouted roots, but would take another 18 years to bare fruit.

I often wonder what might have been had I focused then on church claims and started my discovery of truth. Maybe I could have had a greater influence on people I love...maybe I could have lived a more fuller life...but there is no way I can ever know what might have been.

I now live my life as true as I can... with the heartfelt desire to face reality, enjoy this earth and humanity, be sensitive to others in need and show true compassion and understanding to those who are seeking the truth about Mormonism.The transition out of Mormonism has not been with out its trials...but by “standing for something” (as Gordon B. Hinckley has stated) I hope to set an example for generations to come...that sometimes being “true” is more important then caving into social and cultural norms.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Visit with Brigham Young

Recently I took an out of town TBM friend of mine to Brigham Young’s Beehive House in down town SLC for the tour offered by the Morg. I’ve been on this tour several times as a TBM myself and remember it as being a very interesting historical informative tour of his home. This was my first experience going through his home since I left the church.

To be fair with the church, maybe I’ve just become very cynical. I know that I no longer share the same worldview as the church...but BOY has this tour changed.

We were greeted by two typical looking sister missionaries (why do they always seem to pair the fat one with the extreemly skinny one) ...and boy were they in their best Stepford Wife form. They had on these forced plastic smiles and seemed somewhat uncomfortable...until they went into their memorized speech.

I told them that both my companion and I were members (just didn’t want the shit) and would appreciate just the historical tour, but they only offered one type of tour.... The missionary so called spiritual tour. Since as one of the sisters explained, we all need to feel the spirit don’t we...I just gave a struggled grimace.

As the tour seemed that absolutely every detail shared on the tour had a modern application that could be applied to our lives today. A historical fact (used loosely) would be given then the modern day application expressed.

Here are some examples of how the tour went:

Brigham Young built this home in 1857: Imagine that BY actually talked with God in this very home and because of this you too can know that you can receive revelation for your family as well.

This was BY’s office: Every night he would gather his family here in this room for family prayer, family prayer can strengthen you and your family as well by gathering your family together nightly and praying to God.

This was BY Bedroom: When I asked about him having a separate bedroom from his wife... I joked he must have had about 56 bedrooms spread around SLC ... the sister quickly responded...oh no BY only had 19 wives (this is not true, according to church records he had 56 wives) then she turned my statement into a testimony building experience... Polygamy was an practice received through JS by revelation, it was practiced through 1890 (I didn’t beat this young lady over this misstatement of fact it continued on for 2 more decades ...what was the point) when the Lord again revealed to President Wilford Woodruff that the time for this commandment had been fulfilled, from this we can take comfort in knowing that the Lord is at the head of this church. That he continues to speak to a modern day prophet even Gordon B. Hinckley

This is BY's drawing room: BY would gather his family to be taught and have refreshments: Family Home Evening is provided to us today so that we too can be like BY and teach our families the gospel of JC.

This is the actual wedding dress of BY’s daughter: She knew that by being married in the temple she would be sealed with her family for eternity You too can be married in the temple and have your family trough out eternity and yes families can be together forever only through the temple.

This is BY’s bookcases: Do you what BY’s favorite book was? The book of Mormon, another witness for JC, we too can have this book in our lives as we study it pages and ask God for a witness to know that it is His word.

As the tour progressed I kept pointing our historical facts regarding the home that I had remembered from earlier tours (which they no longer share with the public) such as:

Painting the pinewood to look like oak

The section of wall that has been exposed to show that the home was built of adobe

Painting other areas to look like marble walls

That BY had 20 servants (when I pointed this out the sister said Oh No, BY Never had servants... he didn’t like that word ... he referred to them as helpers) Give me a break!

The beehive carving on the stairs: Which the sister quickly pointed out represented industry and working together and we can use this example in our lives today to be like bees and work hard in our respective vocations.

I kid you not.... Absolutely every fucking thing in that fucking house had a modern lesson application for our lives today...

By the time the tour was over I wanted to go out onto South Temple and throw up in the gutter!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Parody Eclisped by Reality

I about gagged with laughter recently when I attended F & T meeting with my wife. Some COB employee was baring his testimony when he kind of slipped and announced that the church is thinking of building a temple on a cruise ship. (I think its jsut one of those rumers that gets started and then gets legs) The purpose is to take the temple to the people of the pacific islands.

It was all I could do to keep from busting a gut...Imagine Capt Stubing AKA Temple Captain... all ready dressed in his white uniform and white captains hat putting on his green apron to officiate an endowment ceremony while Yeoman Gopher goes around and give everyone their signs and tokens. The Black Bartender, Isaac (He can go on board now you know)...could hand out tropical drinks with little “Angle Moroni’s” stuck on the top of tiny umbrellas to remind the mind of the Provo the patrons enter the Celestial “Cabin”. Cruse Director Julie McCoy...could direct the geriatric throngs in shuffleboard and scripture chases as they wait to enter the endowment “cabins“....

All the while in the back ground could be heard playing on the ship organ ... the tune....

Love, exciting and new,Come aboard.
We're endowing you.
Love, no more touching aloud.
Bow your head, as your instructed to.

The Love Boat ... Endowments for everyone.
The Love Boat ... Pay, Lay Ale-ings have just begun.

Set a course for Indenture,Your mind on Obedience.
Love .. Once endowed you’re ours till the end...
Fake a Smile .. Anti-Depressants Depend.

It's Looooove!Welcome aboard - It's Looooove!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Watching the Joseph Smith Movie

For months I’ve wanted to go view the multi million dollar Joseph Smith movie produced for the Legacy Theater in the JS Memorial Building. . An enlightened friend who is also a member of my wife’s ward accompanied me. We met for lunch at a local watering hole, knowing that neither of us could view the movie without a toast to Old Joe... so after receiving some appropriate lubrication (I went for the 6 brew sampler); we drove over to the famed theater for our afternoon entertainment.

Upon arrival we went to secure tickets but were told that the entire theater had been booked way in advance and that we would need to get reservations in order to see the movie. Knowing that the movie was full of lies I decided that I would also tell alittle lie of my own... I veined disappointment and told the old missionary lady that the concierge at the Hotel had told us that we wouldn’t have any problem getting tickets.... upon hearing this the old lady perked up and asked... Oh are you from out of town? Why Yes we are, I said (we are, just not out of state and we weren’t staying at a hotel either) Well thats different she said, we reserve a few special tickets for out of state guests.

When the 1:30 show began I fully expected the theater to be bursting at the seams... needless to say... it was barley a third of the way full... what was all the fuss about telling us it was a sold out showing in the first place I wondered? As we entered the theater we were offered a kleenex...I wondered if this was to wipe my ass with?I had been warned in advance that the movie was a propaganda marvel...but I don’t think I was prepared by the amount of literal whitewashing (yeah there's even a metaphorical whitewashing scene in the movie) and depth of emotional manipulations the church would employ to create their fictional embellishment of Joseph’s amazing life. If I didn’t know his history, I would have been overwhelmed... but by the end of the movie I just needed a bag to throw up in.

Through out the movie the church used manipulative emotional triggers in the hope of felicitating some sensation... and in this they were successful... the movie put a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach...but the main thing it did, through out the movie, was cause me to ask the question WHY?? Why was Joseph in Harmony PA? (treasure seeking) Why did his father in law hate him so? (Cuz he didn’t stop glass looking as promised and he eloped with his daughter) Why was Joseph tarred and feathered? (hitting on the Johnson girl) Why did Joseph leave Kirkland? (running from law due to bank fiasco) Why did the Missourians hate the Mormon's so? (complicated but both parties share some blame...Mormon’s weren’t innocently persecuted due to their religion as portrayed in the movie) Why the problems of choosing a successor after Joseph’s death if BY WAS set apart as such as portrayed in the movie? (he wasn’t) Why no gun in Joseph’s hand in Carthage Jail? (whitewash) Why did Joseph go to Carthage? (absolutely no mention that he was being charged with issues related to his polygamy activity).

I give the Morg credit... Their effort would make even Lenin proud... Propaganda is alive and well in America Today... But I was surprised that they left out the scene where Joseph walks on water...

The movie presupposes that Mormon history or more specifically the history of Joseph Smith took place in a vacuum. The movie shows various scenes from the life of JS based on the very scrubbed up version of events generally taught in Mormon Sunday School and Seminary classes etc.

But these things, did no take place in a vacuum... events don’t just take place all by themselves.... they are generally a reaction based on some other event. Much like a queue ball hitting a grouping of pool balls.... human events are generally a reaction to other events....This in my humble opinion is one of the major flaws of this movie.... it is a white washed, scrubbed, distortion of events...and it fails to tell the whole story...the story behind the story... and left me asking.... yeah BUT WHAT caused that to happen...But what can you expect from an organization led by men that publicly dismiss the value of truth in its own history...

Now where is that Bag!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Has Science EVER YEILDED to Mormonism???

It seems to me that Mormonism is on the run... like the bank of a large river during spring run off... Mormonism’s claims are eroding faster than they can shore up their doctrine. Of course they will never admit this... but have they even gotten one thing right? Anything?Let’s just look at a few examples:

Mormon Claim: Native American’s are descended from an Israelite linage

Science: DNA conclusively proves that Native American’s can trace their ancestry back across the Barring Straight to middle Mongolia.

Mormon Claim: Their was no death on this earth prior to 6,000 years ago, prior to “The Fall of Adam “our first father.

Science: There has been both life and death on the earth for millions of years. Man in his current state has existed for over 80,000 years.

Mormon Claim: The first man and woman (Adam and Eve) lived in what is currently the State of Missouri, USA in the Garden of Eden.

Science: Mankind evolved out of Africa... Through our own DNA, every member of mankind can trace his or her linage back to our common beginnings in southeastern Africa.

Mormon Claim: Polynesians emigrated westward from the American continent to the Islands of the Pacific. They too are descendants of Father Lehi.

Science: Polynesians emigrated eastward from micro-Asia, Linguistic, DNA, plant DNA migration, archeological evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.(except to Mormon faithful)

Mormon Claim: The Sun borrows its light from some mystery planet called Kolob.

Science: This is so ridiculous, it hardly needs comment...however let me just state that the Sun does not borrow any of its power from any other planet or source...and is self powered.

Mormon Claim: Our solar system revolves around the this central planet, Kolob

Science: Our universe is expanding but it does not revolve around any central planet.

Mormon Claim: Noah collected two of every species onto an Ark prior to a universal flood, which was also the baptism of the earth.

Science: There is no observable evidence supporting the concept of a universal flood, no evidence supporting the concept of a so-called human bottle neck created with the death of the entire human population 4,000 years ago, no evidence that all earthly animal life migrated from some central final landing area following a flood. And "NO" evidence that Noah strategically placed each species throughout the earth so that their uniqueness would confirm Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Mormon Claim: Dinosaurs are not native to this earth, but were merely used parts from some other world used by God in the creation of this earth.

Science: Again a ridiculous Mormon claim, the Scientific evidence is overwhelming that dinosaurs are not only native to this planet, but an essential element in the evolutionally chain that reaches back millions of years.

Mormon Claim: Horses were first introduced to the American continant in 2200 BC with the arrival of the Jaredites.

Science: An early ancestor of horses in the Americas were killed off my humans in about 12,000 BC. Horses were not again introduced into the Americas until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s AD.(The same could be said about all other Book of Mormon claims regarding sheep, pigs, elephants, barley grapes, figs etc etc)

Mormon Claim: All living things exist in the same form in which they were created by God.All plant, animal and human life is unique unto itself and does not change. Man procreates man. Dogs procreate dogs; corn seeds grow corn etc.

Science: All life is subject to the same forces of natural selection, mutation, genetic drift. Life is always in a constant state of evolution and change. This process has been going on for billions of years.

Mormon Claim: The earth is 6,000 years old.

Science: The earth is billions and billions of years old. This is a confirmed fact.

Science is observable, testable and always subject to question. Mormonism is fixed, absolute and is not subject to any subjective test, skepticism or questioning.

So again I ask the question... Has Science EVER had to YIELD to Mormon Doctrine? Has the Steam Roller of Science ever had to Yeild to the Ant of Mormonism crossing the street and say oops we were wrong... and admit that you Mormon's... you got that right???

Is That All There Is?

Is that all there is? Have I now been exposed to all of Mormonism's problems? Are there no more secrets?

When I first dared to question my faith and venture down this path of critical examination... I was constantly being confronted with revelation after shocking revelation of the cover-up, lies and whitewashing the Mormon Church had perpetrated on its own membership.I remember the disgusting disbelief I experienced as I first discovered the bizarre stories of Joseph‘s glass looking and his head in a hat translation process. I am amazed that through 4 years of seminary and three years of Institute I was never exposed to “Kinderhook” and “Zelph“.

I remember how sick I felt upon learning that there were “other” accounts of the first vision. That there was an island Comoros whose capital was Moroni, that Joseph Sr. had had Lehi’s same dream prior to the writing of the Book of Mormon, That Joseph had married other men’s wife's, missions to the men in the moon, Joseph’s alcohol consumption etc etc etc. I still shake my head in amazement that I had never been exposed to these things or that I had faithfully refrained from an exploration of these difficult matters.

Each day brought a new shocking discovery greater than the day before, the accumulation of which ultimately led to the complete collapse of my faith in Mormonism and the resulting conclusion that the church was not what it claimed to be. That time of discovery, as painful as it was, was also very exhilarating. I felt like a man who finally awakes from a life long coma and experiences reality for the very first time in his life. Each new discovery slowly and sometimes painfully dispelling the darkness... Through this process I lost the faith of my youth. I stepped through a threshold, into a new understanding of life and reality; old understandings were discarded as I underwent this cataclysmic paradigm shift in my life.

So is there no more discovery to be made? Have I reached the bottom of the rotten barrel of Mormonism? Is there nothing more that can shock me?I want to be surprised... but the innocence is gone... and my discoveries now lay in other areas and realms...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Meeting with a Mormon "General Authority"

Driving east on North Temple, I knew I was going to expose myself to a surreal experience unlike anything I had ever been subjected to. In advance of my arrival, my name had been given to church security, so that as I arrived at the VIP underground parking lot under the controversial main street plaza, I was greeted by a white gloved (yeah that's right, they actually wear white cotton gloves) white shirt, suit and tie garage attendant. He checked my name on a computer against a list of approved guests and directed us to the VIP (red reserved) parking area. There is a basement access to the Administration Building...with more security men there. We reported in and were asked to wait in a richly appointed walnut paneled waiting room. While waiting Elder Faust drove by in a golf cart (see I told you this was going to be surreal) on his way to his car...which I assumed was chauffeur driven. He gave a cute wave to my wife as he passed. He looked particularly old.

We were then directed to the office of my former mission president and current GA, one of the top 22 GA's in the church. While passing time in his waiting area we looked out his north-facing window onto the church office plaza. His office has a commanding view of the best flowerbeds in the COB complex...they were just finishing the fall planting of bulbs and pansies.

Pres. "X" came out and greeted my wife and I with a warm hug and a smile; he was genuine and loving. It was great to be able to have this personal time with him.

After some small talk and family catch-up, Pres "X" asked how he could help us...I reminded him that he had asked for the meeting. I again referred to my earlier letter and again described my situation. For some reason he misunderstood and thought that I was in my current situation because I had been offended...but I assured him that I was where I am currently because of historical facts and not how I have been treated. He seemed to miss this again and felt that how I was treated was the motivation for my loss of belief. He got my letter out and reread a portion of it so as to convince me. I told him that I felt they were not related again.

At this point he asked my wife and me to follow him into a special room down the hall from his office. The large windowless room was much like a conference room except there was no conference table in it. Instead, sitting in the center of the darkened room was a ornately carved mahogany oval table, perhaps 5 feet in diameter. Through the darkness I could see that this room was also richly appointed in fine hard woods and moldings As we entered the room Pres “X” turned the light switch on... a single spot light positioned directly over this table shown a pillar of exacting light down on what can only be described as the most amazing thing I have ever seen with my own two eyes. Lying on a red velvet gold-fringed cloth.... was a single solid “White and Delightsome” Brick.

Turning to me Pres “X” directed me to pound this brick several times into my head...assuring me that once I had done so enough testimony would return. As I sat there in utter shock...he pressed a button on the wall behind us, causing one of the wood paneled walls to slide away, exposing a solid wall made of these same white and delightsome bricks. He told me that if I preferred...instead of hitting my head repeatedly with the single brick, I could instead run headfirst into the brick wall over and over and over again until my testimony returned. He said that the church had had much success with both methods in the past.

Since leaving the church...I have been asked to repeatidly bang my head against that same brick wall... over and over and over again... in the hope that I can somehow believe in the Mormon claims again... My head is so F***ing sore from trying to force belief in things that to me are so unbelievable.

Several times through my interview with this GA, I had to literally grit my teeth. Its time to move on...

PS: I gracefully declined his generous offer for a priesthood blessing...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Looking Over My Shoulder

I caved into pressure...

Ok here’s the deal... I’ve been out of the church for over 3 years now... but few of my TBM neighbors even know about it. I have no agenda and view my loss of belief as a private matter.
This morning I stopped at a local convenience store to buy a cup of coffee. Just as I was about to walk in, my neighbor and a former bishop’s councilor of my former ward drove up (he is unaware of my apostasy; as he was released before I left the church). For some reason I caved into the pressure and instead of buying that cup 'O Joe I went and bought a cold caffeine beverage. And now I’m pissed at my self. I gave so much power to the Mormon Church to mess with my life for so many years...and I’m still doing it by caving in to pressure...acting as if I was doing something wrong.

I hereby swear that I will live my life honestly, without consideration to what others may think of me. I am giving myself permission to make decisions regarding my life, irrespective of others perceptions. I promise NOT to look over my shoulder when doing something that the Mormon culture frowns on...that is unless I run into someone else from my former ward.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

One Size Does NOT Fit All

This past weekend my TBM college age daughter went to Las Vegas with her friends. While there the inevitable happened. She Gambled. At the urging of her other TBM friends she placed a $5.00 bet on a 21 Table and let it ride... and ride it did... with in three hours that one $5.00 bet had increased to a total of $250.00. With in an additional hour that amount had taken the proverbial Vegas ride and reduced down to $150.00 at which point my daughter smartly decided to cash in her winnings.

In a moment of unthinking excitement, my daughter called my Uber-Mormon- wife to share her enthusiasm. Upon hearing the news my wife immediately chastised my daughter for not following the council given by Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Mormon Church, “The Prophet”.

Having experienced Mormon enduced guilt trips my entire life...I immediately jumped into the fray... I expressed my view that the Mormon Church‘s, one size fits all, view of gambling is wrong. By placing guilt on adult members of the LDS church who choose to gamble (think Wendover and Mesquite) is just plain misguided. I then went on to express my belief that gambling in and of itself is "NOT" wicked is the uncontrolled or addictive gambling that is immoral. Those who gamble away funds necessary for food, housing and survival are the ones in need of helpful council...not the recreational gambler who might make the occasional weekend trip to one of the afore mentioned cities and blow a few hundred dollars. After all Wendover and Mesquite weren't built from gentile monsy, they were built from funds that were already tithed.

Needless to say... I am now in the dog house for sharing my evil wicked counter Mormon views of gambling...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Literal Belief

Once a former believer breaks through their Mormon bubble and gets a dose of reality... Life will never be the same again. Once a former believer asks the question "What if the church is not what it claims to be?" they have opened a door that leads from a dark closet out into the bright sunshine of reality. But for those that make this journey without their believing families... This journey is not without its trials

A few days ago my wife and I were once again discussing my apostasy from Mormonism. She wanted to know why I couldn't just compromise and believe something, anything regarding the church. As I contemplated her question I asked her how I could get all the tooth paste back into the tube once its all been squeezed out? The point being, I do not know how to reinvent my former religion to accommodate all the false claims that it has made. I do not know how to again believe in a church that has covered-up or changed important historical evidence that I felt was essential to an honest assessment of its truth claims.

Mormonism is a literal religion. It teaches and believes in a literal universal flood, a literal tower of Babel, a literal 6,000 year earth age, that dinosaurs literally are not of THIS earth but lived on another earth like planet and that their bones were transplanted here during the creation of this earth, that there was no death prior to Adam and Eve some 4,000 years ago, that the Garden of Eden was in the State ofMissouri, that Noah literally carried 2 of ever species on his Ark and then somehow placed them through out the earth so that they reinforced not Noah's story but Darwin's theory of evolution and on and on and on... These are things I can not put back into the tooth paste tube of Mormon faith...To me they are beyond question... And "literally" unbelievable...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hook, Line and Sinker

As a ”Truly Believing Member” of the Mormon Church, I admit that I took every thing that the leaders of the church spewed out literally. They had already done the I didn’t need to... right? I literally believed everything without ever thinking the claims of the church out in my mine. I believe part of my loss of belief came about because I started to recognize blatant conflicts with the claims of the church and reality... here are a few examples of things that started to really bother me and eventually led to my leaving Mormonism. It is also why Thinking in Mormonism is part of the “Double Bind“.
  • The Mormon belief that the earth is 6,000 years old (see D&C sec 77)
  • The whole story of Adam and Eve being our first parents
  • The story of the Universal Flood (Mormon’s believe that this was a baptism of the earth).
  • The belief that Dinosaurs came from a different planet
  • The Garden of Eden being in the State of Missouri
  • The belief that there was no death before Adam and Eve (fossil remains have proven this to be a false doctrine)
  • The City of Enoch being a real city that was literally lifted into heaven from its sight where the Gulf of Mexico is currently situated.
  • That our Sun derives its energy from a planet called Kolob
  • That the pre-Columbus inhabitants of the America’s and Pacific Islands were descendants of Hebrew bloodlines.
  • That all languages somehow were changed from a pure Adamic language 4,000 years ago at the “Tower of Babel” to confuse and confound humanity. "Pay Lay Ale" in pure Adamic means "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth" ... Yeah right!
  • That God somehow showed Noah where to “drop off” the various animals species through out the world, after the flood so that they would conform perfectly with Darwin’s theory of Evolution i.e.: Kangaroos in Australia, Lion’s and Elephants in Africa, Horses and Cows in Mesopotamia etc.
Now that I am free to think and evaluate so many conflicting beliefs found in Mormonism...I am amazed that I ever believed so many silly and stupid doctrines. The only way that Mormonism makes any sense in reality... is to “Leave It”.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Close Encounters of The 5th Kind

Utah is a unique microcosm. Different from almost any other place in the world because of the overwhelming influence of the Mormon church in personal and public settings. Those who do move into Utah from elsewhere are often overwhelmed by the initial experience of encountering their new Mormon neighbors. While those of us who have left Mormonism continue to be bombarded by the long tentacles of Mormonism at every turn. As an aid to those of us living in Utah...I wanted to give guidance on how to handle these close encounters.

Close Encounters Of A 1st Kind: This is the most common category of close encounter. It involves sensing something from a Mormon while in a public place. It could be a quick turn of a head from someone who saw you drinking an adult beverage in a public restaurant. The avoidance of eye contact from someone you know who sees you drinking out of a Styrofoam cup. That subtle judgmental expression you may receive as you mow your lawn on a Sunday morning as your neighbors drive off to church. Encounters of this type are very slight but evident...more a feeling or a perception - anything like that fits into this section. If you experience this kind of is best to raise your adult beverage in the direction of the Mormon and give them a wink of your eye or a flip of your middle finger.

Close Encounters Of A 2nd Kind: A bit deeper than the 1st kind, to have a 2nd class encounter you must have experienced a personal invasion of your private space by a Mormon. You see Mormons are raised to believe that there is no such thing as personal boundaries. Their personal boundaries are violated so often by their own ecclesiastical leaders through invasive interviews through out their own lives that they see nothing wrong with invading others rights to enjoyment of public spaces. You have experienced a close encounter of the 2nd kind if you have been asked to alter your activity or behavior while in a public setting. This close encounter would come in a direct communication to you such as “Could you please refrain from using that kind of language in front of me” or “I saw you jogging without your garments on, What were you thinking?” This kind of encounter is generally best handled by telling the Mormon who wants to alter your behavior to “Fuck Off”.

Close Encounters Of A 3rd Kind: Violation of your most personal private space is involved in this class of encounter. You’ll know that you have had a close encounter of the third kind if you’ve been sitting in the privacy of your own home enjoying a quiet moment reading Carl Sagan’s book “ A Demon Haunted World” or watching an HBO “R” rated movie while enjoying a cold beer, when the door bell rings. This unannounced invasion of your personal space by members of the local bishopric or home teachers is the most common encounter of the third kind. If you do encounter this kind of is best dealt with by merely shutting your door in the faces of these unannounced intruders and kindly telling them to stay the Fuck out of your life.

Close Encounters Of A 4th Kind: The rarest of Close Encounters, a class 4 encounter relates to an experience involving personal contact or communication with a Mormon priesthood leader or apologist. These Clashe of the Titan moments are rare because the only thing those who have left Mormonism want is to be left alone. However, members of the Mormon Church can not get this reality through their thick white and delightsome heads. So after having experienced close encounters of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd kind repeatedly, the non-believer generally seeks out an encounter of the 4th kind. These types of encounters are usually an errand in futility... but damn they sure make you feel great after finally being able to kick some major Mormon ass. Just being able to articulate all the reasons to a Mormon of authority as to why Mormonism is NOT what it claims to be can be exhilarating.

Close Encounters Of A 5th Kind: This class of encounter is sometimes used to define Abduction cases involving Mormons. This is perhaps the most insidious encounter. You will know that you have experienced an encounter of the 5th kind if the minds and souls of your family no longer respond to logic, facts and reality when Mormonism is being discussed. In these sad situations your family has been abducted by Mormonism.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ummmmm... Smell That Aroma...

Ok time for true confessions... I’ve been addicted to Coffee for as long as I can remember. Now I never actually consumed any until about 2 years ago, AFTER I left the church. But as a pre teen my never mo grand pa (he may have been necro dunked by now, but I’m sure he’s still resisting) used to give me that yummy coffee candy. It was the perfect mix of a cup o coffee with cream and sugar...yummy. If my TBM mom caught me eating one, she would make me spit it out. Oh that evil vile candy. On the same level as candy cigarettes...

As a teen, I’d linger alittle too long in the grocery store coffee isle as well...especially if someone was grinding some freshly roasted coffee beans. (Yeah they use to sell that at the store even in Utah). I loved the smell of freshly ground coffee, still do. It smelled so good to me...yet I KNEW it was one of the most evil substances on earth. One of the BIG three...after tabacco and alcohol.

Then something happened when I went into my chosen career... I had a weak moment one day and I consumed a caffeinated beverage... not a hard core cola drink mind you...but a carbonated "entry level" caffeinated root beer. The kind of drink those evil manufactures of caffeinated beverages make to hook the weak and unsuspecting. Well that did it... I was on the quick road to hell after that... I soon migrated to stronger caffeine drinks such as Shasta Cola, Mr. Pib and finally the mother of all caffeine drinks.... OH God help me, I consumed a Coca-Cola. Well that eventually led me to much stronger caffeinated drinks such as Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew and my ultimate drug of choice, Diet-Pepsi. I was consuming more and more caffeine drinks...I even did it in public settings...selecting the caffeine brand even when the caffeine free variety was available.

I had a problem... I knew I had a problem... I was a consumer of COLD caffeine. Not to be confused with that evil damned generation who drank their caffeine HOT. Thank God, there was nothing wrong with cold caffeine consumption. I could still get a temple recommend. I could still practice my religion with a clear conscience knowing I was one of God's chosen few because I drank my caffeine COLD. I could still pat myself on my back KNOWING that I was a worthy Mormon...since I had NEVER consumed HOT caffeine. I could keep that chip securly on my shoulder KOWING that I was better than my fellow man because I only consumed my caffeine COLD, never HOT. In fact it quickly became clear to me that THE TEMPERATURE OF THE CAFFEINE CONSUMED COULD DETECT PURE UNADULTERATED EVIL. People who drank HOT caffeine...were clearly the spawn of Satan.

Then something happened... a Never Mo cousin of mine asked me to explain why I could drink cold caffeinated beverages as a Mormon...but would not join him for a cup of hot tea or hot coffee. God Damn him.... How dare he use logic and reason against my God given Mormon rationalizations. I wanted to yell at him and tell him that Hot Caffeine was against the word of wisdom... but as a Never Mo, child of Satan, he would never understand the intricacies of God's plan. Clearly, God made a distinction between being good and being evil based on the temperature of ones caffeine consumption... but how was I going to help him understand God’s convoluted, nonsensical law’s of Love.

I filed this conflict in the back of my mind as a good Mormon always does with all the other stupid conflicting nonsense Mormonism had conflicted me with over the years.

Jump ahead a few years... I now just shake my head and laugh at how totally absurd this Mormon measuring stick for goodness really is. And to think it took my Never-Mo Cousin to point it out to me. Yeah, I was that brainwashed.

So this morning, as I was driving to work with a hot cup ‘o coffee, enjoying the delicious aroma of that HOT caffeine drink... I had a moment of pure joy come across my face as I reflected back on my Mormon upbringing and the absolutely absurd teachings that the worth of an individual can be detected through the temperature of the caffeine in their drink...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Miracles DO Happen

Since leaving the church, Sundays have been the worst day of the week. I stay at home, relax, and watch TV, read the Sunday paper while my family goes off to do their duty by attending faithfully all 3 hours of their Sunday meetings. Then, they all return with a chip on their shoulder because their apostate husband/father didn’t attend church. The #$%& always seemed to hit the to speak. Sundays were just plain awful.

Well I’m here to testify that there are still miracles, that there is such a thing as Recovery from Mormonism, that a TBM and an apostate CAN remain married and get along through compromise.

I can’t honestly tell you what it was that created this thawing of feelings and emotions...(but stopping posting on RFM helped) but Sundays have become more relaxed and the #$%& hasn’t hit the fan in three weeks. My wife returns from church happy and somewhat comfortable with my non-attendance. She's Found a Happy Place. We’re actually becoming a normal family again... and rediscovering that we do in fact love each other. Oh there are still some peculiarities... but dogs and cats can get along, the lion and the lamb can lay down with each other...and a TBM and an Apostate can love each other and respect each others perspective. Life is Good.

I haven’t been to a church meeting in four weeks and I have no cause to attend in the future...

Oh Yeah I believe in Miracles!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I've Cancelled my Mormon Prescription

A few year ago I discovered during a routine medical check up that I had elevated cholesterol. The doctor prescribed one 10 mg of Lipitor on a daily basis along with diet and exercise to bring my reading back within an acceptable level. With the medication, proper diet and daily exercise, my cholesterol quickly dropped to a reading of about 130. Anything under 190 is considered good.

Since I take a pill each morning, I need a steady supply, so I buy my prescription in 3 months refills. 2 weeks ago I sent in my refill request as I was getting low on pills. This morning as part of my daily routine, I brushed my teeth, shaved, then reached over to get my pill. Sitting next to my bottle of pills was another similar looking pill bottle. Not having put my glasses on, I just assumed that my refill had arrived and that my wife had placed it alongside my other pill bottle. I didn’t even give it a second thought as I took a pill from the new bottle and swallowed.

I didn’t need to read the new pill bottle, I KNEW that it was my refill. There was neither doubt nor reason to question my assumption. Only after I had showered, dressed and put on my eyeglasses did I notice a slight difference in the shape of the two bottles. An alarm went off in my head. Upon further examination I discovered to my horror that I had ingested one of my wife’s medications, which she assured me should have no effect on a guy. Whew!

Through out my life I was so sure that Mormonism was all that it claimed to be. I was so sure, that I refrained from even subjecting the faith of my birth to a critical examination. Then I started to pick up on some anomalies. First, during my mission then later through out my life, I’d hear of some bizarre historical events that didn’t seem to fit into my picture of the church that I had been raised in. Things just didn’t add up. Alarms started to go off. Cognitive Dissonance set in. I knew that I needed to subject my faith to an examination. I started using critical eyes and began scrutinizing Mormonisms claims. To my horror, I discovered that the church of my birth had failed to disclose all of the important pertinent information necessary to make an informed honest decision. I had been lied to, misinformed and given false information. But unlike my wife’s pills... this lack of disclosure was not had serious side effects. As a result I've cancelled my Mormon prescription.

Lamanites and Scrapbooking

My mom, bless her heart, was raised in a time when Mormonism was easy to believe in. Oh sure it still had its detractors, but by god, at least intelligent minds could still point to all those ancient civilizations in Central America and at least debate the question. Facts still mattered. The Mormon Church was so sure of this reality, that it spent millions of dollars on archeological digs and studies to find evidence to support the claims of the Book of Mormon as an ancient historical document. They never doubted for an instant that their investment would not return spectacular evidence to support their claims.

My mom never even had to doubt, with all that proof supporting the claims of the Book of Mormon, who in their right mind would doubt. Mormonism was a fact, a reality, it was testable and supportable...hallelujah the church is true!

Yesterday I visited my parents. In retirement my mom has occupied her time with what she calls doing genealogy. In reality she isn’t searching for family lines to extend our family tree, what in fact she is doing is compiling bits and bobs of pictures and cards, a trip down memory lane, and putting them in a scrapbook...but we all refer to her activity, in her words, as her genealogy.

So yesterday as I made a visit, my mom pulls out her latest compilation of memories (genealogy) and places it front of me. It was a large thick book consisting of about 50 thickly filled pages of family recollections.

As I leafed through the pictures and post cards I came to one page in particular. Mom had cut out a few pictures of American Indians dress in full-feathered headdresses and war regalia and pasted them on a page. I turned to my mother and asked... Ah what are these pictures in here for? “Oh those“, said mom, “those are to remind me of our Jewish ancestry? Your great great great grand mother was Jewish.” “But mom these are American Indians...not Jews.” Her reply was one for the Mormon Hall of Fame. “But Craig, Your great great great grand mother was Lamanite and Lamanites are Jewish.

Yeah got to love that hemispheric Book of Mormon setting taught for over 175 years... Oh how I long for the good old days...

And So It Begins...

Last Month I had my balls spiritually removed by my Beautiful-Uber-Mormo-Nazi-TBM wife (whom I love with every fiber of my being). She had discovered that I had been posting my thoughts on a sight infamously known to all TBM’s as the spawn of Satan, the evil anti-Mormon sight better known to all free thinkers as “Recovery From Mormonism or RFM for short, In my desire to find common ground I agreed to stop posting my thoughts on RFM. But walking around with a tinfoil hat duct taped over my mind is not very comfortable.

So knowing that I am far from being recovered of my Mormon experience I have decided to establish this blog aptly named “Cr@ig In The Middle” as a safe place where I can come to vent and download my random thoughts from time to time.

My “Cr@ig In The Middle” blog will be about anything my mind congers up, but I suspect that it will dwell mostly on my continued experience of living with my feet planted in two opposing worldviews. One foot is begrudgingly planted in the magic worldview of Mormonism where anything is possible. Up is down, black is white, 2+2 = 5, where reality is suspended to accommodate mind bending belief, where answers to questions are known before questions are asked. This is the world my wife and family still reside within. My other foot is securely planted in the real world. The skeptics world where facts and reality matter. Where truth claims can be questioned and tested and discarded if found lacking or embraced based on testable supporting evidence. It is the world were faith is still valued but is built on a foundation of reality. In this world, to make that leap of faith, one is not required to disregard the laws of nature or the laws of the universe in order to accommodate it. An exercise in Faith is rewarded in additional truth...not the absolute unmoveable, untestable truth of Mormonism, but the honest, real kind of truth that is literally built line upon line, precept upon precept and based in authenticity. That welcomes critical examination and is not afraid of the skeptical mind.

My life in the “Middle” of these two contrasting, conflicting worldviews is a delicate balancing act that I am glad to endure for the sake of my family, whom I continue to love.