Saturday, November 14, 2015

This Never Happens

Mormons (TBM, NOM, Post and Ex) should be really proud of themselves today!  Not everyone in these groups should be proud, but those who spoke up against the Church's new policy on Gays that was leaked last week, should be proud.  See here   These combined voices, which is unusual for True Believing Mormons and Exmormons to have a combined voice, but this last week they did and they apparently "yelled" loud enough that the Church took notice and changed their new policy.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS!  Let me repeat that for those who may be missing my point, THIS NEVER HAPPENS!  A small group of members and a larger group of disaffiliated members caused the Church to change their doctrine/policy.  Of course they claim it's a "clarification"  but what else can they do?  They cannot apologize or change their doctrine, so it had to come out as a clarification.  That's okay, they can call it what they want, those in and out of the Church can bicker over the points of it. I think, besides the good that will come from the actual hurtful policy being changed, the bigger story is that those who spoke up, forced their hand!  This is an institution that is not used to having their hand forced, especially from within their own membership.  The members are an obedient group that values not questioning their leaders as among their highest moral behavior.  It's a sign of their faith and devotion to God, not to question His earthly spokesmen.  Questioning the leaders is akin to questioning God, which is sac religious at best. 

So what really happened here this last week or so?  The Church exposed its true stance on Gays. Basically it looks as though the Church, while indicating it's welcoming to those who might attend, they really don't want anyone living in a Gay family relationship part of the Church, even if you are a child.  And they made it clear that if you are living in a Gay relationship, even if it is a legal marriage, especially if it is a legal marriage, there is no place for you among the Latter Day Saints.  Jesus wants it that way, according to them.  So fine that's their doctrine, its been written in stone, or at least in the Handbook.  They will have to live with that, and the consequences of that stand. 

The other thing that happened this week...the Church experienced an earthquake!  The people rose up and change was enacted.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS!  This was Mormon's Rosa Parks moment. They refused to give up their seat, they refused to throw the children under the bus.  The Church felt an earthquake and it caused some cracks in the foundation.  Only time will tell how bad those cracks are.  The people with the actual power, the members, are very blind, subdued, and brainwashed, they don't realize they have this power, but it was demonstrated this last week and it worked.  Those most inside the bubble won't see it that way.  They still believe the walk and talk of their leaders, but it happened just the same.  The followers are mostly good people, sheep of the Lamb of God, and happily so, as they go safely back to their green meadows.  But the leaders saw the upraising and reacted with lighting speed for a lethargic bureaucracy that is used to calling the shots.  For them to react so quickly there must be much more attrition going on inside this church then those closely guarded, never to be released actual membership numbers indicate. 



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ben Carson

My brother emailed me a video the other day of Ben Carson speaking on evolution at the Seventh Day Adventist General Conference in 2012.  My brother commented that "he made some good points."  I don't know much about Ben Carson, I did watch the movie about him called, Gifted Hands.  He's an impressive doctor, and his personal story is inspiring.  I was surprised to learn he belonged to the SDA church.  Very surprised!

I had never given the SDA church a second thought until two years ago.  I was at a dinner party and sat next to a lady who, as I learned through our conversation, happened to be SDA.  She was a lovely lady and easy to talk to, so I asked her questions about her church.  She told me of Ellen White, the prophet who helped found the church.  Ellen was among the Millerites who expected Christ to return October 22, 1844.  This event became known as the Great Disappointment.  Many of these believers (Adventists, they were also called) were taunted for this failed prediction. In the aftermath of the nonevent, many Adventist's joined with the Shakers, some went back to their prior denominations, but Ellen White fell in with a small minority who claimed that something had happened on that day, but it had been misinterpreted.  Ellen went on to have visions and eventually founded the SDA church, becoming one of the country's most prolific female writers. 

Wow, I had never heard any of that before.  This same dinner companion told me about a Bible study group that they held once a week, and that I should come to a function at her church that weekend.  I kindly told her I would check my schedule and see if I was available.  My husband was out of town, and I do like to go to different churches, he doesn't, so I thought I might possibly go just to be friendly.  So here's the interesting part...when I got home that night and was laying in bed, I thought, oh, I should google the SDA church and learn more about it.  Up comes all these "anti-SDA" websites, I know from my own experience that these are not really anti, they are just people who belonged to this church who have seen through the false prophecies etc.  As I began to read I thought to myself, I wouldn't touch this church with a 10 ft. pole!  That's when I realized what's happening to the LDS church.  Someone meets a member, or a missionary and they go home and google Mormon church and they begin to read people's exit stories and all the many historical problems, truth claims, etc., and they think to themselves, I'm not touching that with a 10 ft. pole.  Literally, I'm not going there, end of story, close the door.  I had to experience this looking at the SDA church to realize what is happening to the Mormon church.  Of course the corporate church knows that, and that's why Mormon ads are first on all the webpages, which they pay dearly for with your tithing dollars.

So here's the thing...I think I understand why people wouldn't vote for Romney because he was Mormon.  I kind of feel the same way about Ben Carson because he's SDA.  That may be wrong to think like that, it probably is, but that was my knee jerk reaction when I learned that he is SDA. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

No Ordinary Moments

I mentioned in my last post a quote from Dan Millman's  movie, Peaceful Warrior:  "There are no ordinary moments."  A few years ago, I did a presentation called, Happiness Tools.  In my little presentation I discussed Dan's quote, it went something like this:

In the movie, Dan is a UC Berkley gymnast who has everything going for him.  He's good looking, has plenty of money, talented, makes good grades, and best of all the girls flock to him.  He even has a chance at the Olympic qualifiers in men's gymnastics, but he's hung up on doing the triple on the rings.  He thinks he won't qualify without it and it keeps him up at night with nightmares.  One night at 3 a.m. Dan has one of those nightmares; so he decides to go for a run.  While running through the foggy dark night, Dan ends up at a well-lit Texaco service station.  Dan strikes up a conversation with the old man, behind the counter there.  Through a series of circumstances, Dan becomes a "student" of this old man, whom he calls Socrates. 

One of the things that "Socrates" teaches Dan is, there are no ordinary moments.  But in the movie there's no explanation for this statement.  One day as I sat working at my computer, contemplating this quote, I'm thinking to myself, what's he talking about?  My life is made up of nothing but ordinary moments!  How can he say... "there's no ordinary moments."  That doesn't make any sense to me.  Just as I'm thinking this, my husband comes into the room, brushes my hair to the side, kisses me on the neck and says good-bye, he's leaving for a meeting.  Ordinary moment, right?  It happens all the time, but wait... what if my husband didn't come home?  What if he were killed in a car accident?  Then would that kiss on my neck have been an ordinary moment?  Or would it have been an extraordinary moment?  Would it be one of my most cherished memories, how he always kissed me good bye? 

The light behind this quote began to turn on for me.  All these things that make up our life, that we see as ordinary, are in fact magical.  We live enchanted lives that are filled with family, friends, community, opportunities, adventure, love, hope, service, compassion, forgiveness, mistakes, growing, learning, repetition, and suffering!  And each of these moments are fleeting!  When I was a young mother, sometimes the drudgery of having to get dinner on the table and get the kids off to their baths and bed, seemed so mundane to me.  What would I give now, to go back for just one evening and see my adorable little children's faces sitting around the dinner table again?  To experience that "ordinary moment"!  The trick is in realizing that these moments are fleeting and when they are gone, they will no longer be viewed as ordinary. 

"No ordinary moments,"  realizing this will change your life!  And even if you are struggling right now with a faith crisis, or someone you know is, it's probably not an ordinary moment for you, but it too is fleeting, and magical.  Allow the freedom to think and grow to be magical in your life, and if you are concerned about someone, let them grow and think.  Your gift of acceptance and freedom to them will be immeasurable and will work in your behalf as well as theirs. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Finding Truth and Happiness Through our own Experiences, Not Religion

Does  religion have value?  I believe so, but it's hard to find truth, happiness, or God through religion.  That's a bold statement, I know. What's easy to find in a religion... is that religion's definition of who God is, its definition of happiness and its definition of truth.  It's hard to learn these things for yourself as long as you are listening to that religion's definitions, and not learning, questioning, and listening to your own discoveries.  The things that I have learned in my life, things that matter to my happiness, are things that I learned on my own.  Truths that I have learned, and things that bring me happiness, I learned through trial and error, and questioning.  We all do. 

I read a post the other day on reddit by an exChristian called, Quitting the church and Bible reading made me more loving. This person explained that the reason he began to analysis his religion was... "too many Christians I knew and ESPECIALLY those in ministry were impatient, sarcastic and very closed minded...Then I got to thinking why I was different from them.  I  mean, I believed in the same God and followed the same religion but the nicer and more loving I got, the angrier and more intolerant they got.  I then figured out two major differences between me and the Christians I knew.  1) I had stopped going to church.  2) I had stopped reading the Bible...It was amazing that simply stopping doing those two things created a wide chasm between me and the church going Bible readers.  They seemed to get more negative, more filled with pessimism and being judgmental and self righteous while I was being filled with a sense of wonder and longing to explore life."

So what did this person learn from his religion?  I don't know he didn't say, I'm sure he learned some good things, but the main things that he found to be true or that brought him joy, he discovered himself.  He gained a sense of wonder and a longing to explore life, and as he moved away from the confines and dictates of his religious dogma it allowed himself to see life as a place of exploration; he became less judgmental, nicer, and more loving.  Of course, this is only anecdotal, but it's a very common theme among people who leave their religion. 

This is not a push for people to leave their religion.  It's an acknowledgment of my belief that it's hard to learn for yourself through a manmade religion.  And trust me, anyone that's in a religion and thinks they have the truth, I have been there!  I know how strong those convictions are, and if it's serving you well, then stay there.  But if it is taking you away from any kind of relationship with family or friends, if it is separating you from others, making you believe that you have a better knowledge, understanding, or the truth regarding our existence here, it's probably not serving you well. If you are not discovering your own path, and truths, and are relying on your religion's definitions, it's probably not serving you well.

My nephew is a doctor.  He's an intelligent, kind, upstanding individual.  He was valedictorian of his high school, served a mission in Italy, attended BYU, and got married in the temple.  His life was on track for a complete Mormon success story.  Then something happened, he and his wife divorced before he got out of medical school.  Then after a year or so, he stopped attending church.  My sister-in-law was so distraught over this.  I thought, what a shame that because of our religion we worry about our children because they aren't going to church, or stopped believing the faith they were taught. Anyone on the outside of our religion, would look at this young doctor and say, wow, what a great person, that's all they would see.

These are biases that religion causes, and they can separate families.   I have two favorite books/movies that I have gained much insight from.  One is: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and the other is, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman.  Both of these authors have learned from their experiences in meaningful ways, and have shared that wisdom with us.  In other words, they have learned truth.  They have learned things through their experiences that lead them to joy and happiness.  Here's a few of my favorite quotes from Dan Millman:

..."everyone tells you what's good for you, they don't want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs."

"Everything you'll ever need to know is within you..."

"The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination."

"Life has three rules:  Paradox, Humor, and Change.
-Paradox: Life is a mystery; don't waste your time trying to figure it out.
-Humor: Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself.  It is a strength beyond all measure.
-Change: Know that nothing stays the same."

"Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization.  And when you wake up, everything changes..."

"A fool is 'happy' when his cravings are satisfied.  A warrior is happy without reason.  That's what makes happiness the ultimate discipline."

..."focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new."

"Never struggle with anyone or anything.  When you're pushed, pull; when you're pulled push."

And my favorite one of all:

"There are no Ordinary Moments"



Friday, July 31, 2015

A Smarter Cult?

In a 2012 BBC interview between John Sweeney and Elder Holland, there was a reference to the Church and the Church of Scientology. It went like this:

Sweeney:  What they said to me (the 30 people he had interviewed who had left the church) is that they believe the Mormon Church is a cult.  They believe it's like the Church of Scientology but actually it's smarter and more powerful.

I knew nothing about the Church of Scientology, and I highly doubted that it was anything like the Mormon Church.  Are these former members of the Church claims true?  Is the Church a cult like Scientology but smarter and more powerful?  I decided to take a closer look at Scientology, check out what people who had left that Church say about it and its practices.  Would I find any similarities? 

Let me begin by saying, the ideology behind the two churches is very different, could not be more different!  BUT, having said that... I did find some similarities in the way they do things that surprised me.  Let me also state upfront, that the Church of Scientology is MUCH harsher in their tactics, then the modern Mormon Church, their tactics border if not cross human right violations.  And anyone involved in that Church, excluding their celebrities, is at risk of mental and physical abuse.  But I said compared to the modern day Mormon Church, if you compared it to the early Mormon Church, especially during the Reformation in the 1850's, you could definitely find as harsh of treatment, especially when it came to things as outlandish as blood atonement.

So bucket up, let's go on a little exploration together:  (I learned about Scientology from places like This, content from that website is paraphrased or quoted from below)

The first thing I noticed is that they both claim to be the "one true church." They both claim to be expanding, and the "fasting growing" church.  Somehow that makes them "true" if they are the fastest growing.  It reinforces to the members that they are in the right place at the right time, and everyone is awakening to the truth and joining it. Members spend their life promoting the church, Mormons love to promote their church, apparently Scientologist's love to too.  Most Scientologist are caring, idealistic people, willing to dedicate their life to that effort, Mormons are too.

For Scientology, "The ultimate sin is dissent.  If you leave, you are a suppressive person (SP is a person who has harmful, evil intentions and acts on them)."  If you leave the Mormon Church, you are an apostate.  Mormons will usually try to help you see the mistake you have made and want you to come back, but you are a dangerous person, who could have a bad influence on other members.  Your opinions, especially about the Church are null and void, they carry no weight what so ever.  Everything you say or do is analyzed.  Anything bad that happens to you is a direct result of your leaving the Church.  You most likely left because you could not hack it, you were too weak and perhaps sinning, or wanting to sin.  You are definitely wrong, you have lost the Spirit.  And your association with your former friends, if you retain one, is more of a project relationship, trying to get you back into the fold. 


Scientologist's "expected to have a great expansion, long promised.  It isn't happening, but the Church management reports the contrary."  Mormon's too expect a great expansion, they think the Gospel will spread to every country and fill the earth.  They think there will come a day when the temples dot the earth and will be so busy that they will be open 24 hours a day.  They think their numbers are always increasing, but even the great increase of missionaries they received due to lowering the age requirement, the reality is that the conversion rate is only up 4%, if that amount is even correct.  Many people are leaving the Church, but the Church controls the information on membership, so the official number remains at 15 million, there are many people who question that number.

Neither church approves of their members looking at material contrary to the church.  Mormons are cautioned not to read antimormon literature, anything that isn't from the Church would be considered antimormon.  Both churches are being adversely effected by the internet.  If you post concerns about the church on the internet, and you gain a large enough following, both churches will try to stop you.  If you are a Mormon, you run the risk of excommunication. If you are a Scientologist, the Church becomes very upset and tries to find out who you are if you are posting anonymously, "any threat to it must be stopped at any cost."  What's at stake for both Churches?  "If Church members in mass start to question it, then it will come apart.  It depends on fear of eternal damnation to keep members under control."

"Every Scientologist is taught, and it is drilled into him, that to be critical of L. Ron Hubbard, and/or the Church is to be guilty of hidden crimes."  Elder Oaks in a 2007 PBS interview said, "It's wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true."  President Hinckley said, "The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein." 

When talking with a Scientologist, "they think they know all the answers, thus they really can't communicate with you.  A Scientologist thinks L Ron Hubbard knew it all and thus Scientology has all the answers.  He is computing in his mind constantly and can never agree with you over anything, which is critical of LRH or Scientology."  Mormons love to say,  "the Church is perfect, it's members are not."   The Church is perfect because it's from God.  How could it be anything but perfect?  So if you say anything critical about the Mormon Church to a Mormon, they are not going to listen to you.  They will not even consider what you're saying.  They believe everything about the Church is true and unchanging. That's what Mormon's are taught, that their doctrine is true and it never changes, so if you happen to mention a change that they have made to a Mormon, you get a blank stare from them, it doesn't compute, because it cannot be possible, God's doctrine doesn't change and neither does his Church.

To a Scientologist the success of the Church surpasses everything.  To a Mormon the success of the Church surpasses everything.  Converting people to the Church, missionary work, spreading the gospel, it's all the same thing and it surpasses everything.  Here's a heartbreaking example, but I would say it's fairly typical of a Mormon's way of thinking.

Several years ago, our neighbors, who are members of the Church, their little 3 year old daughter was run over, and killed.  The mother was out of town, the father who is in construction, had taken the little girl with him to a job site and one of the subs didn't see her and hit her with his truck.  It was awful, everyone was devastated by the accident.  I was talking with the mother, not long after it happened.  She told me that the man driving the truck was an inactive member, and maybe this tragedy would bring him back to church.  I remember being dumbfounded by this remark.  How could anyone think like that?  Only a Mormon.  It was such a bizarre thing to hear from her, that I remember thinking to myself, no wonder people think Mormon's are weird, because they are, so weird.  To think that someone converting to the church or becoming active again, might be a valid reason for your daughter's death, or at least a consolation prize.  The Church dominates everything, even the mourning of your child, to the point that you can't even think like a normal person, or mourn like one.  The church always has to be the central focus of everything, even death, especially death.  By the way, that driver didn't become active again.  But Mormon's never notice things like that. 

In Scientology, the small local churches are called Missions; "Hubbard had set the Missions up to be somewhat autonomous.  They were flourishing and expanding.  They were less set in ridged adherence, they also had more money."  David Miscaviage, Hubbard's predecessor, and "his finance police wiped out the Mission network in the early 1980's.  He striped them of their assets and much of their power."  A similar change also took place within the Mormon Church.  Wards, used to be more autonomous, they had their own building funds, and fundraisers.  We used to cut and dry apricots when I was a youth, and we had Spanish dinners once a month to raise money for our ward.  I have lots of fun memories of those fundraisers.  The ward kept their money, and the ward was able to make a lot more decisions on their own, without so much oversight from the top.  But a thing called Correlation was created, and now everything is controlled centrally by the leaders in SLC.  They collect the tithing and fast offering money and then portion it back to the ward on conditions of attendance and tithing payers, etc.  In other wards they are like the government, they collect your money and then give a portion back to you because they know best how to use the money, and they don't tell you where the money is going or how much they have. 

I'm no expert on Scientology, in fact I know very little about it, but if I understand correctly, the Missions are run by Orgs, which is short for church organizations, which are run by non-Sea Org members.  The Sea Org is over the Orgs, they are those who have signed a billion year contract (I kid you not) and they are management.  "The Orgs get detailed management programs from the Sea Org.  The amount of control exerted by Senior Sea Org Management over the Orgs is overwhelming, statistics are kept of production levels."  The Mormon Church has its lay clergy.  Everything is voluntary.  The Bishop is head of the ward (congregations).  The Stake President is over a group of wards, usually 6 to 12 wards.  Then there are several stakes that make up an Area, and there is an Area leader called a Seventy.  He is a General Authority, they are called to their position by the Apostles.  When they come to visit a stake, usually at Stake Conference, they bring all the latest rules for procedure from SLC, and what they say is strictly adhered to.  No questions asked, it's the "law".  Everything is said and done in a nice way, unlike Scientology, but it is strictly adhered to.  And they too are very interested in statistics, especially tithing and membership statistics.  They want to make sure those dollars are coming in and people are being baptized.

In Scientology, "the indoctrination of your mind is subtle, it doesn't happen overnight.  The early courses are pleasant, cheap, and the staff is easy on you.  You feel that you have found real friends.  Slowly you are being fed Scientology.  It is the sad truth that the church must hide its real self until a person gets hooked."  Mormonism is also presented in doses. Most members are either born into the church or are converted by the missionaries. If you are born into the church, everything seems normal, you have been raised in it.  I was, and nothing seemed more normal to me than the church.  But converts are only told the wonderful things at first, Christ's church has been restored and there is a prophet of God on the earth receiving revelation from God. Your family can be together forever.  What two things could be more appealing to someone. You are now with God's very own church and your family is going to be together in Heaven.  These are the two things that keep people in the church, more than anything else, and what you are taught about by the missionaries.  They want you to gain a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. 

Mormons tell a lovely story of a farm boy who wanted to join a church, but didn't know which one to join.  He read James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."  Joseph thought to himself, if anyone needs wisdom it is me.  This scripture was the catalyst that lead to his praying in the Sacred Grove and seeing the First Vision of God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, in which he was told to join none of the churches.  Of course what most Mormons don't realize is that the First Vision account that they all love so dearly is not the first version of the First Vision.  They don't know that Joseph Smith didn't tell it this way in the beginning.  He actually didn't tell it at all in the beginning!  It was first written 12 years after it occurred, and shockingly that account only tells of one heavenly being visiting him.  For details about this click here .  This wonderful picture of a humble prophet of God, restoring Christ's Church in the latter days, is such a beautiful story! Unfortunately, the prophet that is painted by the church, simply doesn't exist.  The man existed, but the image that is portrayed by the church, that man did not exist.  But if he had, and it were all true that would be awesome! 


Sunday, July 26, 2015

What does God think about religion?

I have a fairly benign view of religion.  Don't get me wrong, religion is huge, it impacts every aspect of people's lives.  It has been the cause of many wars, or at least the justification given for them.  It's the foundation that many countries are built on. So maybe I should say... I have a neutral view of religion.  I think it is helpful, for the most part, for people, and I think a lot of harm has and does come from religion.  I think it's here to stay, and I have no argument with that.  I believe if you took all religion away, before you knew it, people would congregate and create new religions.  People need and want a community, they want life's questions answered for them.  It is... what it is, but my question is what does God think about it?  I can't really ask a religion that question, because I will only get a biased answer.  I can't really ask myself, because I don't know.  So I thought to myself, who would have some insight into this question?  Once again, I turned to the NDE people, they say they have talked to God, they come from varying beliefs and backgrounds, and for the most part, (I hope anyway) they don't have a specific agenda.  So...having said that, I simply googled:  NDE what God thinks about religion.  Brilliant, right?  Thanks I thought so ;)

I found some very interesting stories and quotes on this website .  I'll share some of my favorites:

This quote is by Kevin Williams, the creator of the near-death.com website.  To learn more about Kevin go to, spinninglobe.net>1kevinde .  From studying many NDE he concludes that:

"Heaven is not about religious beliefs, but about spiritual actions.  It is not true, as some people believe, that we get to heaven by giving verbal assent to belief in God.  It is love, not religious doctrines, that creates spiritual growth...although religion, in itself, is not important to God, all religions are necessary because there are people who need what they teach.  For this reason all religions are precious in the sight of God.  All religions refer to the same God.  All religions are different ways of trying to describe the same God.  After death, if you insist upon searching for an old man on a throne as God, you will do this for awhile until you get the idea that you are following an illusion."          

The following quotes are from the same website that is linked above:

Topic, Religion is not as Important as Many People Believe

"Doctrine and creed and race mean nothing.  No matter what we believe we were all children joined under one God.  The only rule is God's true law:  Do unto others as you would have them do into you." (May Eulitt)

"God does not care which religion is best.  God does not care what religion people practice.  They are all a blooming facet of the whole.   All religions refer to the same God."  (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

"Religious beliefs have little to do with what we experience in the transition from one realm to another, except that we are allowed to see briefly the teacher or guru that we followed.  Regardless of cultural or religious beliefs, we have the same basic experience at death."  (Betty Bethards)

Topic, Love is the True "Religion"

"I asked the light, which I call Christ, how people from other religions get to heaven.  I was shown that the group, or organization, we profess alliance to is inconsequential.  What is important is how we show our love for God by the way we treat each other.  This is because when we pass to the spiritual realm we will all be met by him, which substantiates the passage, 'No one comes to the Father, but by me.'  The light showed me that what is important is that we love God and each other, and that it isn't what a person says, but the love in their being that is examined in the afterlife." (Sandra Rogers)

"How are we saved, by unselfish love.  When we love unselfishly, our vibrations are so high that the only place we'll fit into is heaven..." (Arthur Yensen)

"People who truly practice the religion of love will find themselves in a universal sphere where everyone understands that true religion is to love others as ourselves." (Nora Spurgin) 

"There are only two true religions - the religion of love and the religion of fear." (Sandra Rogers)

Topic, Religions have an Important Purpose

"I wanted to know where there were so many churches in the world.  Why didn't God give us only one church, one pure religion?  The answer came to me with the purest of understanding.  Each of us, I was told, is therefore prepared for a different level of spiritual knowledge.  Each church fulfills spiritual needs that perhaps others cannot fill.  No one church can fulfill everybody's needs at every level. (Betty Eadie)

"God created differences in religion because of the different lessons we all need to learn."  (Sandra Rogers)

"Religions have a place and any one person in that religion is on the path of learning what is important for that soul." (Darlene Holman)

Topic, Some Religious Beliefs can be Harmful, Strict Fundamentalism

"Deeply held religious beliefs come into visible expression in the spirit realms, just as they do in the physical realm.  We create our own experience.  Eventually, restrictive minds slowly open and expand allowing them to accept greater understanding.  Then they are ready to move from their limited concept of life to the eternal adventure, for there is evermore to know, to do, to be." (Jan Price)

"The most difficult thing for a person who has been deeply steeped in a particular religious tradition is to realize that the form alone is not what elevates a person; it is the heart." (Nora Spurgin)

"Some Christians enter the spirit world and are led into thoughts they had during their physical life about the soul's state after death, heaven, and hell, until they come to resent their former utter ignorance of things like this, and resent the Church's ignorance of such matters." (Emanuel Swedenborg)

"Those religions which claim some singular relationship with God, claim superiority over others, or exclude people for various reasons, go against God's law that we love one another as we love ourselves."  (Sandra Rogers)

"God is not a member of any church or religion.  It is the churches and the religions that are members within the vastness and the glory that is God.  There is no one religion just as there is no chosen people or person, nor any single way of regarding what cannot be fully comprehended."  (P.M.H. Atwater)

Topic, Extremely Faulty Religious Doctrines

"Some Christians expect heaven to be a place where people stand in front of the throne worshipping forever.  Such a view of heaven is boring and childlike.  There are so many heavenly realms... "(Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

"We do not sit at the feet of a man with a long white beard called God.  God is within, whether you are in or out of the body."  (Betty Bethards)

"When we enter the spirit realm, we are given glimpses of things we expected to see in order to bring comfort.  We may briefly see a teacher we worshipped in our lifetime: Jesus, Buddha, or any other guru, according to your expectations.  But gently we are brought out of many of our illusions and are shown that we have not landed in an ultimate paradise with gold paved streets."  (Betty Bethards)

I found these quotes full of wisdom and very much in line with the way I view life.  (That maybe why I found them full of wisdom) lol.  But they are presented here for you to ponder and judge for yourself. Good luck in your journey and I hope you never stop searching, questioning, and growing; and I hope that all your efforts, doubts, and seeking will lead you to find joy in this life and bring joy to others.  I don't think any of us can ask for more than that. 


Friday, July 17, 2015

Going Through Notes

I was cleaning through my office yesterday, and was about to throw away a notebook.  I'm forever writing down thoughts that I have, or notes to an interesting book or interview, whatever, then I get these notes spread all over my house.  Anyway, I was just about to toss this notebook when I decided to glance through it, needless to say it never hit the garbage can, because I saw the following story in it.

The story is about a NDE, that I think was supposed to have really happened, but I could be wrong about that.   Let me just say...I'm not sure about NDE's, I find some of them interesting, but I have no idea if they are real or not.  This one seems to be tainted with Mormon ideology, so... you can take it as seriously as you want, but I think there is wisdom in it.  From what I remember, this person, Allen R. Barlow, was a member of the church, who had become aware of it's false claims and left the church.  He had a NDE, in which he sees his deceased grandmother, who was a Mormon.  He asks her some pretty tough questions. In my notes I have written the words, "Main Points," so I guess these are the main points, as I saw them.

I'm just going to write them as they are in my notebook, sorry for not referencing this, or adding a link, I'm not sure where this came from, but a simple google search would probably provide more information. With that introduction, here we go, I believe it starts with a question from his grandmother:
  
"Why have you come before you are whole?"

(This is his response to his grandmother, Allen's words will be in blue, his grandmother's in red)

"Freedom is a miserable thing don't you think?  So painful."

"Painful to be sure.   To those who really know it, it gives moments more painful than death or birth.  But don't say miserable, say breathtaking or better yet, exhilarating.  There is no growth without it, and growth is life."

           Freedom = Growth = Life

"But did it have to be so confusing?  All I wanted was just to be shown a clear path. I could have managed the rest just fine."

"The rest is virtually nothing, making the path is mortality...hacking your way through the brush of temptation and persecution, stumbling up the hills of uncertainty and scaling the cliffs of ignorance, quenching your thirst at the springs of love.  These are the very things that bring you The Goal."

"It's so easy isn't it?  Make a path, and where should it go?  Hey, no problem we'll send down a hundred prophets (all with suspect credentials) to clearly explain it to you.  And they will point a hundred different directions and then you can take your pick.  What? not enough help --tough break that's all there is, no maps on this trip.  No compass either." 

"I expected more of you, life's goal is plainly to draw near to God and become like him.  That cannot be a novel concept to you.  You must have heard it your whole life...which of the prophets didn't teach it to you?  And how shall you accomplish it without learning and loving?  No compass?  Who can doubt the validity of His path when he feels that inner peace that can come in no other way?  The goal and its direction have always been quite clear."

"Come on, people need a detailed plan. If they would have just made the steps plain and the leaders authority unquestionable, we good ones would have followed unfailingly."

"So there's the root of it...you think the answer is more valuable than the ability to work the problem.  It's not true.  Simple obedience is a necessary element in life, but its no virtue in and of itself.  Only as a forerunner to understanding can it aid the purpose of life. Then God asks obedience of His children, its for their own protection as they begin to explore new and unfamiliar realms.  But we must grow beyond it...

"Grandmother does God really answer the prayers of mortals?"

"Be grateful that God doesn't base His interactions with us on our often confused perception of our needs.  He loves us too much for that and gives greater gifts.  To those who truly seek Him.  He grants not what we ask, but what we need.  In your case, I don't know, let me speculate, He may have felt it time to dispel your confusion about the things in life that matter most.  Let us suppose he had answered your questions in just the way you wanted. Would it have made you love your fellow man more?  Increased your integrity?  Enlarged your creativity? Improving your ability to discern truth? Or would you have become ever less empathic toward your fellow man's struggles with life perplexities?  Small wonder then, that He seems to favor comforting, strengthening, and inspiring over clarifying factual curiosities."

Go and be whole    

   

  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Asking Better Questions

We watched Thor (again) the other night.  There's a scene where Erik Selvig is talking to Thor in a bar, he says, "It's not a bad thing finding out that you don't have all the answers.  You start asking the right questions."  To allow yourself to start asking the right questions is such an enlightening opportunity, but one that few people take advantage of.  I'm so happy that I did!  The reason that line resonated with me is, it's similar to a sentence that I wrote to my brother in an email a few months ago, that resulted in a nice little conversation.  My second to oldest brother had sent out a group email with a link to the John Batchelor Show in which he interviews Amir Aczel, a scientist/author who wrote a book called, Why Science Does Not Disprove God.  In the podcast Amir Aczel says ..."we just don't know very much at all and there is joy in not knowing."  I really liked that quote and decided to respond to the email.  (My brothers are devout Mormon and they don't know about my disaffection from the church).  I haven't told them because it's easier...and I'm a coward.  Some what of a coward anyway, also, if they think you are believing, you can get away with saying more then you can otherwise. So here's my email that I sent back in response to the interview:

Very interesting.  I agree that we just don't know very much at all and there is joy in not knowing.  I've learned to ask better questions. And that a good answer may not be as important as a good question.  I have learned to question literalist claims.  Especially in light of the church's essays, many things that I was taught as literally true in seminary, in Sunday school, and even by our church leaders, have now been shown to not be true, through the church's essays.  Such as the reasons for the priesthood ban on the blacks, the translation of the book of Abraham, the way the Book of Mormon was translated, and many other issues including polygamy. I believe in a loving God, and that learning to love is at the essence of all our experiences. I have believed for a long time that God is going to save all of his children, I came to that conclusion through the scriptures.  I have learned that as we open our mind to possibilities and new ways of thinking, that God fills our mind with greater insights.  And if we stay thinking and believing as we always have, that's okay too, God allows us to grow and learn at our own pace, it's our journey.  It's all very fascinating this wonderful world that we live in, so many people with experiences and things to teach us and share with us.  So much to learn and grasp from one another. Here's an interesting thing, I don't know if God cares if someone is an atheist. I was listening to this gal's NDE, she was an atheist, and died.  She saw her grandmother, who had passed away, she said I knew I had to be dead, because I'm talking with my grandmother who was dead. Then she saw Christ, she said to him,  "I don't even believe in you, I'm an atheist," he said, "that's okay, that was just a belief, this is real." 
 
So when I hear something like her NDE, it allows me to think in different ways.  It helps me to be less judgmental and literal in my viewpoints.  These are just my observations, like I said I don't think we know very much, and I certainly don't, but there is joy in not knowing!

(Like I said, this response was to a group email, consisting of my 3 brothers and their wives, who all are devout Mormon's, so I had to choose my wording carefully.  Especially about atheists, whom I completely respect.)   

So in my email I'm laying out quite a bit of stuff. And in typical Mormon fashion (or any strongly held belief, where you are exposing some difficulties with their doctrine) I was ignored.  No response from my middle brother who originated the email, or my youngest brother, nothing from my sisters-in -law, only a response from my courageous oldest brother.  Here's his reply:

Deb, nice comment...I'm not sure what you mean by save all his children, do you mean like Celestial Kingdom type of save?  And all his children...meaning Satan and his followers as well or just all the children born into physical bodies?  What about those considered to be son's of perdition?

This is an opened minded query from my brother.  I was on vacation at the time, so I sent him a short email:

Those are good questions that you have, when I get home I'll try to answer them for you :) this is off the subject of what you asked, but I thought I should explain my agreeing with him that there is joy in not knowing. That's kind of contradictory to the way we normally think.  But I have found there is joy in not thinking you have the correct answer to something.  It allows for understanding of others, it allows you to be less judgmental, and it allows you to learn and grow as God enlightens your mind.  Thus finding joy! When I began to think of God in terms of love.  Plain and simple, God is love.  I began to see my relationship to him in a new way, not so much about laws and judgment or condemnation, or confessing Christ, or salvation for that matter, but just a relationship of love, and learning to love.

When I got home I went on to have a very long email exchange with my brother.  We discussed many things.  It was nice.  He listened to me and I listened to him.  There is so much we can learn from others. 

I live in a small gold rush town in Northern California.  I have a small internet business, and I get to walk through this darling town almost every day to the post office.  I was walking there the other day with a handful of packages, when I passed a man on the sidewalk.  "Beautiful day at the office," he said.  "You're not in the office" I teasingly said in response.  "I know, that's why it's a beautiful day and also I choose to look at things that way" he said.  "I'm actually in the office--see I'm on my way to the post office."  "I see that" he said, "you know I have traveled all around this world and I get the most joy from visiting post offices and churches."  I laughed at his comment, "why post offices?" I asked.  "I see them as a country's way of trying to help others and do it with the most proficiency that they know how... they are not all perfect, but mostly they are trying," he explained to me.  "Oh, that's an interesting way to look at it...what about the churches...what do you see in them?"  I asked.  "Well mostly I see beauty and peace.  I have felt many things in those churches... have had some very significant feelings of peace, even though at the time I wasn't a believer," he said.  "Are you a believer now?" I asked.  "Yes"  he responded.  "What do you believe?" I asked. "In doing good." And then he vanished around the corner, as I stood starring at where he had been.  Sometimes someone will pop into your life with a golden nugget, just like this man did in mine, and if we ask a few questions they will give us a gift of wisdom.  It's not that "doing good" is a new concept for me, its just the way he told it to me.  And the simpleness of it, do good, that's enough.  Why wouldn't it be enough?  This chance encounter was impactful enough to me, that when I got home, I grabbed a paper and wrote down our conversation while I could still remember it.   





 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why Salvation Falls Apart

Salvation just has a lot of problems, for one, no one seems to be able to agree on who's saved, or how you're saved, or why you have to be saved.  If salvation was necessary, and it effects you throughout eternity, wouldn't a loving God be very clear on the rules?  Wouldn't God make sure that everyone knew the rules, understood them, and had every chance to access that salvation?  Otherwise, it seems a bit arbitrary, and maybe the deck is stacked, especially for a God that is "no respecter of persons." 

Here's an example of how no one can agree on who's saved:  Yesterday I watched Angelina Long on Ex-Mormon Files.  She converted to Mormonism shortly after high school, and was a Mormon for three years.   She was a very active member, and loved the church, she said it was her first "church family".  One day at the temple, as she walked up a stairway, she felt completely disconnected from her experience there.  She felt like a spectator walking through a beautiful building, she didn't feel at peace, but felt anxious.  As she and her friend returned to the dressing rooms, a lady came in with a stack of family names with the last name of Long, just like her.  As she listened to the conversation this lady is having with a temple worker, the lady mentions that she has all this ordinance work to do for her family members.  Angelina said, God touched her heart and what went through her mind was:  is this what it's going to be like for me for the rest of my life, taking hundreds of family names to the temple to assist in their salvation? Next a series of events happened... a week later teaching in Relief Society, a lesson called, Be spiritually prepared for anything that comes your way, she bore her testimony and said "I know that families can be together forever, through this church."  As soon as she said that, she felt a pit in her stomach.  Shortly after that she had two loved ones pass away.  She began to have thoughts of confusion and anxiety, and she could not bear the thought that the only way that her family would be together for ever was through temple work.  It didn't make sense to her.  She drove around one night trying to clear her head, and began to weep saying to God, "God this doesn't make sense, if you are the same God, yesterday, today and forever, and you love all of your children the same.  If Joseph Smith restored your church 200 years ago, why would you deny so many of your children, millions upon millions of souls, the blessings of being together forever with their family in heaven?  And why would I be granted a better level of heaven simply because of the church that I belong to, I'm no better then anyone else." Then she heard God speak to her just as clear as day, saying, "the temple ceremonies came by revelation, which means they came from Joseph Smith, which means they came from men, and men can make mistakes, the only perfect man is Jesus Christ and he is the only way."  Then she felt this overwhelming peace, this tingling through her entire body, something she had never felt before.  She felt the Holy Spirit come and comfort her by wrapping his arms around her.  At which time she said, "Thank you Jesus, I know you, I know you now, and its just you."  She thought that makes sense, but why does my religion believe in a completely different form of salvation?  She began to look into the LDS doctrine of eternal families and came across polygamy, which she began to study, and came across other distributing things such as polyandry.  She began to attend other churches and learned that it is by Grace and Grace alone that she was saved.

This is a very touching story and frankly I believe her completely when she says that she had this experience.  It's not easy to walk away from the Mormon faith, especially when you are a convert and have had praises heaped upon you and she was in a prominent  calling, not easy at all!  She had converted her friend who is now married to a Mormon, and she has to walk away from all of that.  She has my full respect. 

The same day that I watched Angelina's interview, I received a "Friend" request on Facebook, from Jean, a member of our current ward, where we stopped attending last year.  I don't know Jean well, but I really like her.  She's a great teacher, studies the scriptures a lot, loves God, and has a great testimony of Jesus Christ as her Savior.  She loves Jesus, every bit as much as Angelina does.  Jean sent a message to me along with the Friend request, in which she says, "I wish I had the words to help you understand that as wacky as some things are in the Church, because of human fallibility, it is the right vehicle to obtain the correct ordinances and the companionship of the Holy Ghost."

I found this striking, because they are both referring to the temple ordinances.  One claiming that they are necessary, the other claiming that it is these exact ordinances that led her out of the Mormon Church, and into the arms of Jesus.  Both of these ladies, love Jesus, believe that they know him, and both believe that they are saved, and that their way to salvation is the only way!  They can't both be right, but they can both be wrong.  I'm not saying they are, I'm just saying that this is the problem with salvation.  There is no correct definition of it.  The only "correct" definition you get is by someone who believes they are saved, but their story of salvation will not jive with someone of another faith. 

Why the need for salvation, where do we get this notion, and what do different religions claim about it?   This is obviously a huge subject, so I will keep it brief.  Most Christians believe in the doctrine of, Original Sin.  Mormons don't, or I should say they have a nuanced view of the Fall of Adam and Eve.  They believe that man is in a fallen state, but they don't ascribe to the Original Sin doctrine of Christianity, which is HUGE.  The way Adam and Eve are viewed by Mormons and Christians and their view of God, why we are here, and how we get back to God again, is so different.  No matter how hard people try to reconcile these two religions, its just not possible (I don't know that anyone is trying that hard to reconcile them, probably only the Mormon PR machine tries to do this at times).  The doctrine of Original Sin is based on some New Testament scriptures, but it certainly didn't come from Christ, and it wasn't formulated until the 2nd century, a time period which in Mormon theology Christ's church was already in a state of apostasy.  Let's look at a couple non-Christian religions, and see how salvation works with them.

Jews don't believe in Original Sin, Judaism does not require personal salvation thru deity as Christianity does.  They basically believe in the Golden Rule.  God, the creator of the world provides salvation to those who honor his precepts.  There is no vicarious salvation, your redemption depends on you and your behavior. "In Judaism, salvation is open to all people and not limited to those of the Jewish faith; the only important consideration being that the people must observe and practice the ethical pattern of behavior as summarized in the Ten Commandments." (Malekar, Ezekiel Isaac.  "The Speaking  Tree: Concept of Salvation I Judaism)

Islam's salvation is entrance into heaven.  If you die disbelieving in God you will not be saved. If you are non-Muslim and you believe in God, it is God's will concerning you.  If you are Muslim and believe in the One God and in the Islam message, you are saved into heaven.

What do Mormon's require for salvation?  I'll go to their website (Mormon.org) and get it straight from the horse's mouth.  "By humbling ourselves, repenting, and striving to keep His commandments, we can receive the blessings of the Savior's atoning sacrifice."  Is that all?  No, "He administered saving temporal ordinances, such as baptism, which He Himself submitted to though He had never sinned; the Savior did this because he asked us to follow Him in all things."  Is that all?  No, "to apply  the saving grace of Jesus Christ"... requires, faith, repentance, baptism by immersion (by one having authority), and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Is that all?  No, "The fundamental gospel elements are these: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and enduring to the end."  Is that all? No,  "In 1830 Jesus Christ restored His gospel through a prophet names Joseph Smith...The Savior also restored the keys of the priesthood and the saving ordinances at are required for His Church to accomplish His work again on earth." Is that all?  No, apparently not, since they also say, "From each of them (referring to the latter day prophets) we learn what is required of us to become more like God and to prepare to live with Him again."  Is that all? No, not really, not if you want to be saved in the Celestial Kingdom (super VIP heaven according to Brother Jake see here very humorous)!  To be saved in the Celestial Kingdom, the only one that allows for your family to be together forever as a family and for you to become exalted or have eternal life, that requires temple ordinances.  You will recall that above they said that Christ "administered saving temporal ordinances,  plural, but then only gave one example, "such as baptism"  well, some of these additional ordinances are temple ordinances, and if you want your family to be together forever, Mormonism's big trump card,  you have to receive these temple ordinances.  To be worthy to do that, you have to pay a full tithing, keep the word of wisdom, go to your meetings (yes that's right plural) on Sunday, sustain the prophet, wear temple garments, and a host of other smaller and bigger things.  Wow, that's a lot, I got tired just typing that all out, image how tiring it is to live. 

What do most Protestant Christians (not necessarily liberal Protestant Christians) believe is required for salvation?   Well that's a big group with somewhat varying views, but I think I'm safe in saying that Jesus Christ is the only way.  He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and rose from the grave.  One must have a faith and trust in Christ, admit you are a sinner and need forgiveness, and through prayer confess that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and commit to live for Him.  Some groups would say that baptism is necessary, but confessing Christ, and for some being born again is the main requirements.  Then of course after you have dedicated your life to Jesus, you will naturally try to live like him.  (Wow, that's a lot easier than the Mormon plan, no wonder there are so many more Protestants then Mormon's!)

That is a brief summary of a very complex subject, but I think you get the idea.  Nothing coordinates, each group thinks they have the truth, they own salvation, and they are saved.  Salvation groups us into communities which is good and bad.  It causes us to have peace and dread all at the same time.  It can make a person prideful and judgmental, and it also has good effects.  Basically it is what it is, and people get very emotional over their salvation, families are brought together by it and destroyed by it.  And none of these salvations stand up under scrutiny, only to the true believers, who will not look at hard evidence to the contrary.   Anyone trying to make an argument against anyone's salvation is usually seen as evil, and should be avoided or at least disregarded.

But here's some good news! A Pew survey shows that we are becoming more open minded in our salvation quest.  In asking "Who can go to Heaven?"  When asking White mainstream Protestants if Catholicism can lead to eternal life 77% said yes, and 83% of Catholics returned the favor to Protestants.  What about Judaism, can Jews find their way to Heaven in the eyes of others?  Catholics said yes 77%, White mainstream Protestants said yes, 73%, Evangelicals were a little less gracious at 64%.  But hey, that's pretty good for a stubborn group of people, lol, I mean a strongly convinced group of people.  What about those evil atheists, how's their chance in the after life?  Not bad!  Looks like only half of us are sending them to Hell, 50% think they will too reach heaven.  They should all rest better tonight knowing that.  :)



          

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Salvation versus Happiness


As Mormon's, and most any religion I assume, your goal in life is salvation.  I'm not sure you really think about it that way, all the time anyway, but that is the goal.  Your religion, whichever it is, owns your salvation, and they make sure you feel the need to adhere to its beliefs, so that your salvation is secure.  The teachings are easy to believe, no matter how ridiculous they are, because there's little incentive to examine them, since you're saved.

As I've learned that the church that I was born and raised in, is not what it claims to be, and no other religion seems to pass a thorough examination either, I have begun to question salvation in general. I believe in God, I just don't believe we need to be saved in this life, I think this life has another purpose.  Religion teaches you that you need salvation, and the institution that tells you that, also happens to hold the keys to that salvation.  I think this is a false notion, that gives religion a hold on your thinking, time, family, and money.  It takes a very courageous person to examine their religion, it's easy to see the falsehoods in other religions, but very challenging to see them in your own.  Why is it so challenging?  Because you are taught that anything or anyone that is suggesting to you to look at your religion is dangerous and your salvation may be at stake if you take a look, and it is foolish to listen to anyone who is obviously wrong, or evil, or trying to dupe you.  It's much safer to only look at things that are approved by the church... says the church.  After all, your church is only concerned about you and your salvation!  Or, you might just tell yourself, I don't have to look I know I have the truth.  And how do you know that?  You have been told that by all those around you.  You associate with people that believe the same as you, and everything you do and feel, reinforces that truth to you. 

So if this life is not about salvation, what is God up to?  I'll tell you what I think God is all about, and this really isn't new thinking for me, the "no need for salvation" is new to me, but the rest isn't.  I've said before, I believe that God is love.  I think God wants us to learn to be happy.  I really think this life is about happiness, and learning how to be happy, and making others happy.  Love is the main ingredient in finding that happiness.  Love is the basis of it all, and if I have this wrong, I choose to live my life this way anyway.  And any God that proclaims to be a God of love, could not possibly be unhappy with a person who sees life this way and chooses to live life this way.  What would be the point in condemning or damming a person who chose to see life as a learning ground for attaining happiness, and trying to make others happy through love and compassion.    This may seem like a very simplified answer to life, but just try it!  Have the courage to let go of your beliefs, just long enough to see the simplicity of love, happiness, joy, peace, and acceptance.  You may like it so much, that you never go back to a prior way of thinking again.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Coming Around



When I discovered that the Mormon Church was not what it said it was (thanks to Elder Holland and his comments in a PBS interview in which he answers questions about Blacks and the Priesthood ban, that were shocking to my true believing ears) it broke my heart to discover the hidden history of the Church, the remaking of events and the plain cover up, and elimination of much of the real history. But what really broke my heart was to discover that it isn't Christ's restored church on this earth, at least not in the sense that it claims to be.  Meaning, I doubt seriously if God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove and told him the things that the Church claims they did.  The evidence just doesn't support that story, I should say that version of the story, since there are three or four versions of the vision, and the Church only teaches the last one, which by that time included two Gods and a completely different vision then Joseph Smith originally claimed.  And you can listen to apologist's try to spin a good reason for the different versions, but I'm not into spinning things.  If I was, I would have listened to the apologist's spin on the Blacks and the Priesthood, or almost every other topic and problem the Church has with its history, there is plenty of apologist spin out there, enough to make your head dizzy. 

It did break my heart, because I believed it so deeply, my entire life structure was built upon it.  It's not easy to have your entire foundation ripped out from underneath you, lets just say, it's not for the faint of heart.  But I have never been faint of heart, I was taught to "put your shoulder to the wheel, and push along", I was taught to "lengthen your stride", I was taught "even the intent to deceive was a lie", and I was taught to "do what is right, let the consequence follow".  I guess in reality my church taught  me the skills, the integrity, the courage, and the ability to walk away, when I discovered it wasn't what it said it was.  So in that regard, I'm very grateful.  I'm glad that I learned those lessons so well, so when the time came that I needed to not be, faint of heart, I wasn't!

One problem the Church has are the literalists claims it makes, i.e. this literally is Christ's restored church, Christ is literally running it through revelation to the prophet, our leaders are literally Apostles and Prophets of Jesus Christ, the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith by Peter, James, and John, and on and on and on...the literal claims are so numerous!  And that's why the Church is now being picked apart by some of its own members and others using historical records, primary sources, historical research, journal entries, scientific evidence, and words of their own leaders, just to name a few. The historical evidence doesn't match up with the Church's literal claims, plain and simple, and the Church is losing members because of it. 

Interestingly, the Mormon Church is not alone.  There are literalists of a different stripe, and they too are suffering from their literal claims.  Religion in general is suffering, but specifically Christianity, especially the evangelical, fundamentalist stripe.  Not every Christian believes that Noah was a real person, who built an ark and put two of every creature into that ark, and the earth was flooded. Not every Christian believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, without error or fault in all its teaching.  Not every Christian takes literally the virgin birth of Jesus, the resurrection of Christ, or the Second Coming.  But there are those who do and they would find good company with the Mormon's, because Mormons believe all of those things too, literally.  I say they would find good company with the Mormons, if the fundamentalists would stop sending Mormons to Hell, that is!  These fundamentalist's are holding on literally to all of these beliefs, even though there is no proof of any of it,  all of their literalist claims, fall apart, just like the Mormon's do.  But they are hanging on for dear life, turning a blind eye and deaf ear to all that is going on around them, and at the same time, proclaiming that only they know the real Jesus, and you have the wrong one, if you don't believe as they do, and they know who is saved and who's going to Hell. 

I don't begrudge literalist in any religion, I used to be one.  I know how strong those beliefs are.  There are two things in this life, I have learned, that are so strong... stronger than logic, stronger than facts, and stronger than family ties sometimes; those two things are beliefs and fears.  People will do some of the most amazing things because of belief and because of fear, both negative and positive. You could say that its these two things that makes the world go round.  And I'm fairly convinced that God gave us these strong senses as a survival mechanism, even though these two senses also cause so much destruction and havoc in the world.  Everything has its opposite and the goal is learning to choose love over other emotions, which is difficult to do, especially in light of our fears and beliefs.  Love is often the last thing we turn to, but I have hope in a patient God, allowing us to learn and grow at our own pace as our desires turn toward love and away from fear, which just happens to be the opposite of love.

Am I condemning literalist for their beliefs?  No, I love them, they are good people who do many good things, and some bad things.  All of us do.  They have a very strong world view and think that it's the only way, the correct way, and the goal for them and God also, is for you to think that way too.  But the literalists claims ruin things, because they're not really true, even though believers don't know that.  They don't see the harm that some of their beliefs bring to themselves and others, because they believe things so strongly they can't image that their "truth" could bring harm.  In a real sense literalist beliefs keep them hemmed into a tight knit world, usually surrounded by like minded people. Just as Alexander Leek says in the movie Mothman Prophecies:  If there was a car crash ten blocks away, that window washer up there could probably see it.  Now, that doesn't mean he's God, or even smarter than you are.  But from where he's sitting, he can see a little further down the road.  So in other words, those down below (those in their tight little world) may not be able to see out as far as someone who is not hemmed in by those literal beliefs, just like the window washer.       

The reason I say these literal beliefs ruin everything, be their religious or sectarian, is because the believer gets so caught up in the belief that they cannot see things clearly, or another's perspective.  In other words, they own the truth and cannot consider another's point of view.  The belief trumps everything, thinking stops, pride sets in, and adherence to the belief becomes the paramount virtue over love and acceptance of others, over consideration of another's position, or circumstance.

Okay, so it broke my heart to discover that my literal beliefs were not true.  There is value to literal beliefs, but there are drawbacks too.  Being able to open your eyes to all of that is very empowering, and yet unsettling.  You no longer have answers to life's important questions, be the answers true or false, there is a secure feeling in having them.   That's fine, but now it's grow up time.  Time to move on.  You are leaving a false belief behind where you found safety.  That's okay, its called growing.  I think its a false believe to think that the most important thing that God wants from us is to have faith, endure to the end, don't get out of the boat, just stay the course.  I think what God really wants is for us to think, think, think, learn truths through our own experiences, have experiences that will teach us love and compassion for others.  Why would a God want anything other than that?

I watched a movie the other day, at the end, a woman said:  You have to be willing to loose everything, for God to shape you into what he has planned.  Before I would have heard that and thought, you have to be willing to sacrifice all that you have, be willing to go through trials, have your faith tested, etc.  BUT, now I hear that and think, you have to be willing to loose everything, meaning your belief system, that's when you really loose everything, and allow God to shape you into what he has planned.  That's quite a different thing! Much more meaningful to God and to you. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

They all have problems

All religions fall apart under examination, but they can and do have value for the believers.  BUT, no faith is perfect, even for the true believer.  All faiths have drawbacks that can cause harm to others, often those we love the most.  The trick is to have the courage to examine your religion, because it will fall apart under scrutiny... doctrinally, scientifically, and its historicity.  NO EXCEPTIONS!    Mark Twain once said:  The ease with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also

The value of a faith then lies in taking the good from it... stay if you want, but with eyes wide open.  With open eyes you can minimize the damage that comes from believing wrong things.  You can love freely, you can rid yourself of judgments that inherently come from a faith, and you can embrace other's beliefs.  What a beautiful gift to give yourself, your family, and your friends.  And you will know truths.  The truths that really matter, not the "truths" about or that come from knowing your faith is true, and right.  Real truths that you learn for yourself throughout your life. Truths like, when I'm patient and loving, I'm happier.  These real truths that all of us learn through our experiences are the most important truths, because they effect our happiness, the happiness of those around us, and the way we live our life. 

It's really that simple.  I don't think this life is about salvation.  I don't think God necessarily cares what we believe, even if we believe in God or not.  I think our experience in this life has value because of what we learn and what we do with the things we learn.  You will discover the things in life that are most important, as soon as you stop listening to a faith telling you what is most important and begin listening to yourself tell you what is most important.  Learning to think for yourself and freeing yourself from the bondage of having to think a certain way a faith wants you to think, is the single most important gift you can give to yourself. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Making of a Cult?

When I first researched the Church's history, I began as most, a devout Mormon who is clueless about it's history.  It didn't take too long into my research before I ran across Denver Snuffer, and many more like him, in the Bloggernacle (the  Mormon blogosphere).  So who is Denver Snuffer and those "many more" that are like him?  They are true believers in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are basically the new fundamentalist Mormon's that are breaking off of the main Salt Lake City based church.  The reason I'm explaining this is... because there are many groups that trace their beginnings back to Joseph Smith and the restoration.  The polygamists are fundamentalists, but Denver Snuffer and these groups are not part of them.  They were Mormon's, they believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, they believe that the Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates, they believe in the First Vision, and that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove.  So what's their problem?  Don't Mormon's believe all those things too?  Why am I calling them the new fundamentalists?

They think the Church has veered from its roots and it all started with Brigham Young, and basically the Church has been off track ever since, and it's veering ever more off  all the time.  They doubt the leadership is getting revelation from Christ, and that basically the Church is in an apostasy. This new group is growing everyday.  A lot of the outspoken ones have been excommunicated from the Mormon Church, like Denver Snuffer, others are just up and leaving the Church.  They are being rebaptized and joining into small groups, very interesting, to say the least!

So, when I first started reading about these people, and reading their blogs, etc., I was somewhat intrigued.  I tried to have an open mind about them, and I followed them and their activities all last year.  I was interested in just watching what they were doing and saying, trying to give them the benefit of the doubt about their beliefs and activities.  But here's the problem with these guys, they are very much able to see all the wrongs that Brigham Young did and the leaders up to the present day, but they turn a blind eye to Joseph Smith.  Rock Waterman, who is among this group, who seems like a very nice person, really he does, and I think his intentions are good, and he has a lot of followers on his blog, A LOT.   It's from Rock's blog that I first learned about so many of the Church's problems, but Rock thinks that Joseph Smith was not a polygamist.  That's right you heard me correctly, even though the Church says he was, and all the evidence says he was.  Rock believes a book called, Joseph Smith Fought Polygmany, I'll leave that one for you to decide, but for me, I'm just not buying it.

Denver Snuffer wrote some books, one in particular, Passing the Heavenly Gift,  and he has a blog, and these two things basically got him exed from the Church.  He held a series of free lectures that started in late 2013 and ran through 2014, mostly throughout Utah.  I believe the first was in Boise, and the final was in Las Vegas.  His lectures from these meetings are available on his blog, if you want to read them. As a consequence of all of this, among other things, people are leaving the Church and getting rebaptized, into what I don't know; Denver said he isn't starting a new Church.  So when you do something as drastic as leave your church and get rebaptized, you need something else for these people to do, so they have set up these loose (without a lot of rules or structure) groups.  From what I understand, they collect tithing and then distribute it to those in need. 

As good intentioned as this is, is this not just fraught with problems?  I hope not, I sincerely hope for the best for these people, but aren't you naturally going to have someone, rise up as the leader?  Isn't there always one person in the group with better leadership skills or more charismatic?   Won't that person become the leader?  And what about the money?  It just looks like trouble to me.  I think it will start out benign enough, but there can't help be problems when you are putting your money in a little box and then handing it out to others, or deciding as a group who gets the money.  I just don't see that working very well.  When you are giving your hard earned dollars to the Church, and they are telling you that it is God's scared money and they would never waste it, and that God requires that of you, that is one thing, hey, God blessed me with this money and if he wants 10 percent back, to be used to help others, and the Church would never waste my scared funds, I can buy into that. I did buy into that, for 56 years!  It never bothered me to give my money to God, Never.  The fact that the Church is not transparent about those sacred funds and the way they are spent... well that's another post.  But putting your money in a box and then watching it go out, and then watching how the receiver's spend it, that could cause problems down the line, just sayin'. 

So why did I title this post, The Making of a Cult?  Well, here it is... there's another group, I think it's another group anyway, how many of these groups there are I don't know, and if they are working together or separate, I don't know that either.  All I know is, that there are a lot of people who think the Church is in a state of apostasy, and they believe in the literal restoration of Christ's Church through Joseph Smith. They are leaving the Church and being rebaptized.  I received an invitation the above mentioned group's first gathering.  It takes place in May, in Colorado.  I don't want to say too much about this gathering, because I know that these people are sincere and well intended, but I can't help thinking that this is exactly how cults begin. Maybe everyone in a cult is a victim, even the leaders.  I don't know. 

This group's expressed goal is to:  teach the doctrines of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, as provided through Joseph Smith and in scripture, to warn others of the impending calamites, and prepare for Zion.  They say in no uncertain terms that the purpose of this gathering is NOT to start another church, they are just gathering as an informal community.  Blah, blah, blah, isn't that how they all start?  Even Shawn McCraney (Born Again Mormon) said in the beginning that he wasn't wanting to form a church, but he did.   He may have a great church for all I know, he seems like a good person, its just that you can't believe the initial claims; they have to go somewhere and do something with all their talk.  Even Shawn couldn't just criticize the LDS Church forever, things change and grow, and go in new directions.  So these communities will either have to grow, or they will wither away.  And that's the tricky part, how they grow, and who becomes in charge.  They could easily turn into  cults and take on a life of their own, a destructive life of their own.  

Now I have a better understanding of how cults begin, I never understood them before, but I think I have a bird's eye view on the possible making of a few, very interesting, to say the least!

 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Staying is easy!

Coming to the realization that the Church isn't what it claims to be, is a difficult and painful process for most people.  Almost inevitably you are surrounded by family and friends who are active members, and STAYING is the easy option.  Please know, wherever you are in this process or whichever "side" you are on, believing or non-believing, please know that STAYING is the easier option, initially anyway.   Not necessarily the right option, but the easier one.  So if you are having difficulty leaving, or someone you love is leaving the Church, please at least give them or yourself the respect that they deserve in knowing that they are choosing the harder option, Not the easy way out. 

When I first discovered things about the Church, that led to my leaving, I remember I would read so many alarming things about the history of the Church, or quotes from leaders, from well documented primary sources, not anti-Mormon literature, that left me feeling distant from it and its teachings.  Then I would go to Church on Sunday, see my friends, do my calling, I was the Young Women's leader at the time, and I would get so caught up in the familiarity of it all, the comfortableness of it all, that I would forget for the moment the lies and deception.  I liked my world, it was easy to walk in those shoes, it was easy to talk the talk and walk the walk.  EASY!!

Staying would have been the easier choice.  Just brush aside the truth and remain in the illusion.  Let the illusion fill my world, suppress the things I learned back into some dark closet in my mind, never to be opened again.  I could pat myself on the back for being triumphant to this "trial of my faith" and go on with my life, just the way it was. No Big Deal.

But here's the catch, integrity would not allow that. When I could plainly see the lies, how could I push it all aside just to make my life easy?  Knowing that staying is perpetuating the lies,  we (my husband and I) could not stay.  We could not in good conscience be used by the Church to promote their illusion of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  That's how we began to view it.  Staying is saying we believe it and it is true, and we could no longer say that.  So we had to go, as difficult and unsettling as that is. 

And there was another reason we had to go. We have a thirteen year old daughter, we could not continue to teach her that this Church is Christ's restored gospel, with a prophet that leads by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.  How could we teach that to her, to have her discover someday that it is not true and then she has to have her world fall apart too.  No, we love her too much to do that.  So for her and for integrity's sake we walked away, when staying would have been easier.  Much easier!

But here's the beauty of it all, it is worth it!  Being free to think on your own, not tied down by religion.  Free to make your choices, see the world through new eyes.  EVERYONE should try that once in their life, let go of the things you have believed your entire life, if just for a minute to see what may be out there that you have never seen before.  It will change you forever, for the better.  Even if you go back to your beliefs, at least you got to see the world from a different view.  How refreshing, how invigorating, how freeing.  Now I let God lead me, I ask God to reveal himself to me on his terms, not mine, and not through some manmade religion, which they all are in my opinion.  Oh, and Sunday what a beautiful day it has become, truly a day of rest, pleasure, relaxation, discovery, nature, food, family, peace, no restrictions, no meetings, no things that I have to do, no lessons to teach, just a day of absolute joy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Into the Mind of a Mormon

I would say that there are two great pillars of the Mormon faith:  Truth and God. 

We are taught that we have the truth because we are the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have a living prophet that receives direct revelation (truth) from God. Because we are the restored Church of Christ, we have God.  The Church and God are the same in essence, and God and the truth are the same, so these two great pillars Truth and God, not only do we own them, they are basically one in the same. 

As a Mormon you value the truth, and always want to be faithful to the truth.  As a Mormon you value the Church, and always want to be faithful to the Church.  Since they are one in the same, being faithful to both is easy and not in conflict with each other, and because they are one in the same you don't have to value one over the other... they are equal and the same.  Christ is the author of truth, this is his Church, they are tied together, you cannot separate them.   

This concept of the truth and the Church being one is reinforced by everything in your life.  As a Mormon you may have many spiritual experiences, these reinforce for you the truthfulness of Christ's Church, that you are in the true Church and you have the truth.  All of the Church's teachings reinforce this.  Most Mormons have many Mormon friends and family members, who all reinforce this to each other.  They all believe it and it's their walk and their talk. It has been reinforced by your family, friends, and the Church how important it is to be faithful to Christ, (which is his church) and to the truth (which is his church). 

So... when you stumble upon something or learn something about the Church, that exposes it to be false, I believe in a brief millisecond you have to choose between these two great pillars, the truth and God (the church). I believe it happens so quickly that you are not even aware of the choice that you are making, or that you are even making a choice.  I believe in our subconscious one of these is more weightier to us than the other.  And whichever the one is, determines your path. 

For me it was the truth. The truth raised up, and I saw it more clearly, and the truth set me free.  And for others, being faithful to Christ, (which in their eyes is the church) is most important.  And anything that says the Church isn't true, or threatens the Church will be cast away immediately and quickly forgotten, while the joy of staying faithful to Christ is reinforced by everyone you associate with, and in everything you do.  For the truth to dominate, you have to want to know the truth more then you want the Church to be true.  It's that simple and it's that complex. 

So two people, one that held to the truth and the other that held to the Church, who once held these two beliefs so strongly in common will become separated.  Each one believing they are holding to the most important thing. 

This is where Mormon Faith Crisis Help comes in. Until you are in this situation, you don't know that this world view you hold can be separated. And you might find yourself at odds with your spouse or family member.  If you can see that the person is holding to the one that they have placed more value in, it is easier to understand where they are coming from, and to be less judgmental.