Friday, June 27, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth...

When I hear that phrase I can only think of one place on  earth.  Disneyland, the sacred cow to Mormons. Excluding anything in the church, Disneyland is the Shangri-La of Mormonism, especially to Utah Mormons.  The genius behind Old Walt's amusement park is the marketing.  Growing up, I can remember hearing or seeing the phrase, "The Happiest Place on Earth" with every thing Disney.

My last visit to Disneyland, I saw a mother and her preteen daughter.  They were standing by a churro kiosk in California Adventure.  The girl had an emotional melt down because she wanted a churro.  Her mother wasn't interested in buying one. The exchange happened for a couple of minutes, finally the mother said, "This is suppose to be the happiest place on earth, so be happy!".

As a nonbeliever, I have had many discussions with TBMs.  When the discussion begins to challenge their testimony they will always say, "well it makes me happy, and is a good way to live".   Checkmate, the discussion is over.  They don't have to think critically about the church anymore.  Their reasoning skills are turned off.  It is very effective because nothing I say will alter their perspective.  But are they truly happy?

The indoctrination begins early.  As early as 18 months.  Songs about following the prophet, God, Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, etc., are taught to children until memorized.  The programming  teaches that happiness can only be found inside the church.  That only truth comes from the leaders, sin never was happiness, you are a special person, etc.   The members are taught, that compared to the rest of the world, only they are truly happy.  Everyone else may act happy, but they are actually miserable.  Only members of the Mormon church are happy. 

The Mormon church is the Disneyland of religion.  They teach the members that only they have all truth and that by strictly following their teachings the members can finally be happy.   They seem happy on the surface, but it is a shallow happiness.  One can never  truly be happy as a member because one is never  good enough.  The members are taught basically that the Mormon church is the "happiest place on earth".  That is why when confronted with conflicting information or facts they fall back on, "it makes me happy".   The church has even changed the name of the "Plan of Salvation" to the "Plan of Happiness".  I guess the church isn't interested in salvation anymore only in peddling out "happiness".  So all you Mormons, be happy because we told you so....


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tithing....the blessings are subtle yet significant.

I'm  what you would call "limbo".  I would like to state that I don't believe in the Mormon church.  It is false.  It can be dismantled rather quickly once one questions the validity of its claims.  Stone in a hat, come on.  But I bear my witness that Mormonism is all I know.

 I'm a BIC, RM, BYU grad., temple marriage, served as an EQP,  EQ counselor, YM counselor twice, Exec. sec, primary and Sunday school teacher, taught at the MTC in Prove for 2 years, and the standard HT.  That's a mouth full.  I state this not to brag. I have no aspirations to move up in the upper echelon of the church.  I'm not part of the Utah royal bloodlines. I share this  to give some background.  I'm in limbo, meaning that I still go to church to keep the wife happy.  She does know where I am in my beliefs, however.  So far, we have been able to dance around the elephant in the room.

Because I "choose" to go to church, it has become kind of like watching a train wreck. I just can't look away.  Before I would get upset at the things taught (sometimes I still do).  My reactions changed and  I started feeling sorry for the members.  Week after week the same drivel. Now, I find many of these things just funny.  Occasionally, I find myself perusing  through the Ensign.  Recently I found this little gem in the June 2014 edition.  It is titled, Tithes and Offerings. It was  a piece summarized from the New Era magazine.

The part that really caught my attention was the heading, Suggestions for Teaching Children.  It gives a demonstration of how to teach children the concept of tithing.  Basically, place 10 dimes on a table and tell the child that you will give them all 10 if  he/she gives you 1 back.  Who wouldn't agree to that?  The child is then told that God gives us everything in our lives and all He asks back is 10%.  Cute story, isn't it?  But last time I checked, everything I have earned I worked for it.  I haven't had Moroni come and slap down 10 gold bars on the table.  I know, I know,  God has created everything in this world, then he must have created money. But I still don't have Him doing direct deposit in my bank account, I have to work to get it from my employer.

If God truly wants money, why wouldn't he just magically print it.  He can create worlds, make brass compasses, light up flashlight rocks with the touch of His finger.  But His wallet is still a little light?  If He needs some extra cash,  He can come and pick it up Himself.  All He has to do is ask. That is after He gives me some first.  The Mormon concept of tithing is like working for an employer that pays you and then demands 10% back because after all he is giving you the opportunity to work.  Oh wait, that does happen in downtown Salt Lake.

Why money, I thought it was basically the root of all evil.  I know you can "buy anything in this world with money".   What about time?  If we are worshiping Him, I would think He would want our time.  We are one big eternal family, and "family isn't it about time"

. I was always taught, "time is money".  That should be calculated in the whole tithing concept.  Members who are paying 10% and also doing 2 callings are paying way too much.  I think God is running up His credit card.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I have the Power of God...

One of my major concerns with the Mormon church is the use of a lay clergy.  These are non paid local members that are "called of God" by the higher ups in the organization.  This creates some interesting dynamics in locals congregations.  I must be honest, I think  most local leaders, such as bishops and stake presidents, are really good people doing their best.  They are dedicated and will sacrifice anything for God.  Now I must be clear, in the Mormon church, God=church.  One cannot have a relationship with God without a relationship with the church and it's leaders.  So when a bishop is spending up to 20 hours a week doing church duties away from his family, occupation, hobbies, etc.., he really believes he is directly serving God.   This is done at the expense of family members and personal interests.   I remember David McKay's quote about, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home".  I wonder if he was including the Mormon church in that thought? I personally know  men who have served as bishop for 5 years, then got called into a stake presidency for 10 years followed by a calling of stake president for another 10.  That is 25 years of service for the Mormon church.

Let's do the math.  Now to be fair, I will lean more to the conservative side of 10 hours/week for church callings.  25 years =1304 weeks.  1304 weeks at 10 hours a week =13,044 hours.   13,044 hours/24 =543 days.  543days/365=1.49 years of that mans life is spent building a business.  This business is a corporation, The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This is slave labor for the company.  The church not only expects this, but makes a member feel guilty when they don't "tow the line".  I thought it was a volunteer organization?

In this example of my friend,  I'm not including any personal study time, family home evenings, family scripture study, ward social functions, driving time, home teaching etc...Almost 1.5 years away from a family.  Not to mention, that same leader wouldn't be attending church services with his family, so his wife would be a single parent getting their children ready for church.

The only return this individual may get is the respect and adoration  he receives from local members and family.  We have all been in awe of our stake president or bishop. They are the best and most worthy, we are told. They have proven themselves and God personally has chosen them to serve Him, in that capacity.  These "humble" men have direct communication with God, we are taught. Sadly, some wives feel their self worth is tied to their husband's callings in the church.  So if their husband never gets the nod, they wonder what is wrong with them.

For certain burdens or sins we must go through their authority to receive forgiveness from God. These are men who may be a plumber, a financial planner, a dentist, etc.  They have no clinical counseling training, yet they are giving out advice and counsel to members, major life altering decisions.  Let's be honest, probably the two major concerns members deal with are sexual and financial issues, and these leaders are giving this advice to adults down to children.  In what universe is it okay for a stranger (with no formal training) to sit in a closed door room and ask very personal and invasive questions to a teenager, child or even adult?  Am I the only one who sees a problem with this scenario?  And all this at the expense of their personal development and relationships.

"Family isn't it about time..."


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I stand with the Kate....

The trial is over and the decision has been made, by "local authorities", that  Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly is excommunicated from the (trade marked), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This decision has come under criticism of all reasonable people. Articles have been printed in the UK, the New York Times, Tribune, the AP has ran a piece on the disciplinary council. 

Just a little observation.....

The  Mormon church has always been about 15-20 years behind any major civil rights movement in the United States.  An example of this was the 1978 "revelation" allowing men of African American descent all the rights of the the church.  This occurred  about 15 years after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by Lydon B. Johnson.  A man who was very controversial in his own right.  That core church doctrine (ban of African American men),  has recently been disavowed  by the church and placed solely on Brigham Young. However, the 9 other prophets following Brigham continued to teach and  believe it.  The 1978 proclamation still claims the "curse" was lifted by God in 1978.  So it was started by Brigham and was a mistake but continued for 100+ years until God lifted "His ban" in 1978.  What????

But the Mormon church claims to have God's spokesperson for the whole earth.  Only he holds all the keys to God's kingdom on the earth but  God seems to be too busy to see what is happening in the world.  Gay marriage, women and the priesthood, and intellectuals undermining church leaders seem to be on "God's mind".  While middle east conflicts, the financial crisis, tensions in Ukraine, African famines, US immigration. etc, the list is endless and yet God is silent on these issues.

 But the church doesn't get involved in political issues is the standard Mormon response, but what about Prop 8, prohibition, polygamy and ERA issues.  These were highly charged political issues at the time. The church has been involved political issues since the time of Brother Joseph running for the President of the United States.

I have finally realized that  God is really into land speculation, mall building, and finding car keys.  He is so busy directing the business fronts of His church that he put most of our important concerns of our day on the shelf for now.  Putting things on the shelf.....that sounds familiar.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Let the games begin....

The New York Times ran a piece yesterday about members of the Mormon church getting called to the carpet for supporting groups or efforts that are in conflict with the current leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  One individual, named Dana, stated she was cyber stalked and turned into her local leaders for her support of the Ordain Women movement and same sex marriage.  She was posting anonymously on a post Mormon board.  The stalkers are out and searching for all of us dissidents. Each of us trying to push for change by blogging and posting in cyber land need to be attentive to the reaction by our families and friends sitting on the other side of the aisle.

To quote the Hunger Games, "And may the odds ever be in your favor..."


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Complete and utter fail by the Mormon Church on Radio West...

I know the bloggersphere has been lit up by the recent Doug Fabrizio interview with John Dehlin and Kate Kelly.   For those not aware, John is the creator of Mormon Stories Podcast.  It is a great website discussing issues with the Mormon church and helping those who are disaffected, struggling with faith come to an understanding of their situation and provide answers to difficult questions.   I think it is a great website and really helps members deal with their "crisis of faith".

Kate is the founder of Ordain Women.  A movement to create an awareness of the inequality of men and women in the church (separate but equal).  The main push of Ordain Women is to pressure the general leadership (prophets) of the church to go to the Lord and ask if women can hold the priesthood. Although I'm a nonbeliever, I feel this is a step in the right direction.  I feel women do get put in second place inside the church.  Just listen to the talks given by women during general conference, generally it consists of 3 topics.  1. Motherhood, 2. Divine role of women. 3. Service.  Pick any talk by a general auxiliary leader (woman) and you find those 3 topics laced  throughout their talk.  Hell, just the term Auxiliary Organization means nonessential (separate but equal). 

These two individuals have been issued their summons to a church court, aka "court of love".  They are being accused of apostasy in the Mormon Church.  On Radio West yesterday Doug Fabrizio interviewed the PR representative about the recent summons of John and Kate and why it was instigated. 

First off, the program is almost an hour long and alot of ground was covered. It was painful to listen to the answers the LDS representative gave  Doug.  I felt like I was in a fast and testimony meeting. Every answer was like from Hallmark card.   I was left speechless at the half truths, the dodging of questions and the "Heartsell"  answers this former government PR representative was giving.  I could tell that Doug Fabrizio was getting frustrated by her and the church's answers.    This is frustrating to a nonbeliever who has similar questions, one that has to go to church to keep a marriage together. They have no answers except to throw sand in everyone's eyes.   Because the only answer is that the whole thing is a complete fraud. Distraction is the best answer to the leaders of the church. 

The other bothersome aspect of the interview was that the church sent a PR specialist to answer the questions.  Where are the prophets?  You know the ones we all sustain every general conference.  Why aren't they out answering these difficult questions.  I know we are told it is a local matter, but you can be damn sure that the boys in Salt Lake are the ones orchestrating this maneuver because of the high profile nature of these two individuals.  Prophets my ass, but Profits has a nice ring to it.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014 causes a disease then serves up the cure.

I have to put a shout out to John Larsen and Lindsey at Mormon Expression podcast. They do a wonderful job at discussing issues with Mormonism.  It really helps those of us who are struggling with Mormonism.  I'm borrowing from a discussion John had on his podcast.  They discussed Bonneville Communication's holding company Heart Sell.  For those that may not know, Bonneville Communication is a "for profit" holding company that the Mormon church owns.  They own KSL, Deseret News, FM100, FM103.5 among other entities.

Heart Sell is a trademarked technique that Bonneville Communication sells to companies for marketing purposes. They claim that they can "touch the hearts and minds of our audiences, evoking first feeling, then thought and finally, action".  They call this form of advertising Heart Sell or "strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response".   I used this technique on my LDS mission.  We called it "The Commitment Pattern".

Basically,  it was a sales technique that all missionaries were taught to use.  It started with building rapport or "BRT"aka,  Building relationships of trust.   We were taught to find common beliefs, ideas or backgrounds.  This caused the investigator to trust us.  After that, it was easier to teach the formal discussions with less resistence.  This is a blatant sales trick.  If you are trusted as a salesperson, then the "mark" is more likely to buy what is being sold. 

This podcast reminded me of when I went through the Mormon temple for the first time.  I went through prior to 1990, before all of the Masonic rituals were taken out.  Sitting around loved ones,  I mimed slitting my own throat and disemboweling myself if I ever shared their secret handshakes and phrases.  I remember not understanding what the hell was going on, but I looked at my parents in their crazy temple clothes and figured they wouldn't allow me to do something wrong.  I trusted them and in so doing, I bought into the Temple and church hook line and sinker.

The church uses sales tactics and creates a linking of  any positive emotions a person has to God.  But according to the Church, a person can't have a true relationship with God, without the Mormon Church.  This is in essence, "the spirit", positive emotions or feelings that we get as humans.  Having a positive emotion in a Mormon church building, a family gathering or talking about God, is "the spirit". But the same emotion while watching a rated R movie is just an emotional experience.  Members say it's different, but is it only different in what the emotion is being ascribed to. 

We generally all have good memories of Christmas morning opening presents and the excitement it brings.  The church tweaks those positive feelings and places it on God, aka the church.  Any negative feeling or contentious feeling get passed off to Satan, the father of lies.  Any  challenge or debate gets assigned to the influence of Satan, this allows for the "black and white"or "us vs. them" mindset of the members.  This is another technique the church ingrains in the minds of members to never question.  That is why so few people in a "cult" group or religion never take the red pill.