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.