Archive for the ‘Exmormonism’ Category

When Critical Thought is Applied to Fanatical Belief

December 16, 2013

A friend asked about Lynn K. Wilder’s Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church. This was my reply:

Mormons seem a bit unique, at least to me, in how many there are of those who leave the church that leave faith altogether. One convincing explanation I’ve heard is that the LDS church “spiritually burns people out.” Yes, Mormons rank high in surveys of devotion, but if the shelf ever breaks, the critical thought applied to the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon slide over very easily to the Bible, its stories, miracles, and historical compilation.

The LDS church plays a very dangerous game: Heavily indoctrinate people into “every member a missionary” zeal, bind them emotionally through their “forever families” and “celestial marriages,” tie them culturally and hierarchically into an invasive interview, confessional, home visiting culture, a “ward family” culture and even a social network, employment culture, and then through fear keep them in line, believing and wanting to believe so much that the most active members can be said to be “church broke,” willing to “sacrifice all” that they possess, even their “lives if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God.”

I mean, once a person is into something that deep, especially without full agency–i.e., you were essentially stepped or phased into it, groomed–then, you know, you are kind of fucked spiritually in terms of ever being able to know your own true light. And if you ever release the bonds, your trust in anyone selling spiritual goods will likely not be very easy to gain.

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Do LDS church callings make members feel important and worthwhile?

August 30, 2013

Initially, the different callings did make me feel important, like I was doing something worthwhile, and also working with good, sometimes quite talented, men.

Of course, after a while, the shiny wears off. You start to wonder about the entire Sundays that are devoted to doing church things. Activities night; service projects on Saturdays; projects for revamping this or that in the ward organization or directory or records or home-teaching. Then there is your own family: Family home evening, daily devotionals, worrying about your own edification, learning all the church talks and scriptures that you can…. It just got to be a chore, and I realized the dangling of “important” positions and stature as a way to keep people engaged who otherwise would get bored. I really did get sick of it and I worked through the sick and the burn-out and had to leave. No amount of presumed prestige or leadership roles was enough to rope me in anymore. On some level I recognized that it wasn’t real, that it was all essentially a social club based on made-up silliness, not worth my time.

“Are your Mormon families all just waiting for your lives to fall apart since you left the LDS church? “

July 30, 2013

What’s really maddening is the whole double-bind embedded in most attempts to leave the LDS church: Mormons are so tied into their wards and church socially, psychologically, religiously, sometimes financially, that if one of them actually has the chutzpah to call shenanigans on the whole business and leave, there is tremendous social and psychological pressure often brought to bear on that individual. (This isn’t news to any exmo.) Guess what happens when people lose their social networks and most or all of their family ties? They get stressed out and depressed. Guess what happens when people get stressed out and depressed? They can make some bad calls in their personal lives. And what does the LDS church do? It tries to turn people who leave it into object lessons about what happens if someone leaves the church! The LDS church and 99% of its members won’t give you any exit counseling or support, at all, and so the usual advice for recent exmos is to take it easy, don’t go crazy with normal human enjoyments that the LDS church has controlled and denied in your life, give yourself time, breath, see a non-LDS therapist, and wait at least a year or two to get your own moral compass set-up. I was an adult convert and it took a huge act of will to drop it all, and it took two to three years to be in a position where I could talk to a Mo at the door without getting very angry. I can’t imagine the situation for BICs or for people in heavily Mormon enclaves, e.g., Utah. “Social suicide” isn’t just an empty phrase, especially in Mormondom.

Happiness and Freedom Despite the LDS Church’s Uses of Fear and Social Pressure

July 9, 2013

The first time I stayed home, telling the bishop I was sick (I was the Exec. Sec.), I just had this big grin on my face that wouldn’t go away. I was experiencing sweet freedom. I was so happy to be away from that burdensome church and those generally sweet but tedious people. I had my whole Sunday morning and afternoon to myself! I look back now and think of how the LDS church kept me in this subservient, servile, fearful, anxious, dreadfully pathetic state. You can’t be yourself. You can’t explore and find your own voice, your own interests. You barely know how to. Your individuality is suffocated; every thought has to be church approved or you feel terrible and guilty.

Being in the LDS church is a nightmare of being controlled. You don’t know who your real friends are until you get out of the church, because a lot of your LDS friends will be uncomfortable around you if and when you dare to not follow the script. They’ll begin to quietly avoid you, i.e., shun you.

Of course LDS friends and family think that when you become disaffected with the One True Church you are in “a dark place.” They are fearful, because the LDS church falsely teaches them that anyone who dares to leave the LDS church will suffer and bring only shame and terrible things upon him or herself and family.

My god, what a farce, what a sick, sad, terrible thing the LDS church and its culture of shame, intolerance, and fearfulness are, especially when you consider how the “darkness” they fear is partly their own creation: 1) an exiting person’s LDS social circle starts to variously pressure, shame, and abandon them, so no wonder some people go a little crazy, 2) their family will often be freaking out and even the person’s marriage can be destroyed, 3) they’ve been on a church created hamster wheel of obligation pressure and moral and sensual repression for so long that when they do actually first experience being free of it they might well use poor judgment in trying out new things–like socially awkward teens–and 4) the church makes its people so dependent and afraid of thinking and evaluating for themselves, that when the spark of real freedom, liberty, and agency does arise in them, they will often first try to gropingly get away from the church–hanging out in the bathroom, skipping third hour to go get coffee or a donut, making excuses–in ways that, looking back, seem awfully timid but that may just confuse the people around them who care at all.

Live this One Life to the Full

July 7, 2013

Live this One Life to the Full..

Online exchange showing evasiveness of TBM mentality

September 3, 2012
So I re-tweet (RT or quote) this guy’s post where he is GRIPING about being called up in the EARLY MORNING by someone from CHURCH, telling him to teach the next day.

Here’s the exchange on Twitter:

RT @Stan_Way: When your #Mormon priesthood leader calls early Saturday AM it can only mean 1 thing: You’re teaching tomorrow #sucker #pwnage

@blakesgarden Well I’ve never looked at it that way, but I suppose everyone is allowed to their own opinions. Just an opportunity to serve.

@Stan_Way Dude, to be told to serve is what? Coercion of service isn’t voluntary service. It’s volnteering to be told what to do by someone

@blakesgarden I don’t think you have a firm grasp of how things work in my church. There is no coercion. I could have easily said no.

@Stan_Way What happens if you always say no? You know, you don’t do what you’re told but, let’s say, you just serve as you see fit?

@blakesgarden If I say no it’s no big deal. I do serve as I see fit & have a great time. Helping a friend by teaching tomorrow is a bonus.

——–
So he’s helping an LDS church “friend.”  We know how deep that friendship likely must be, and he says he serves as he sees fit, but he really didn’t answer my question: What if he said no all the time and just did what he wanted? Seriously, that would not fly too long: He’d get grief from his priesthood “friends,” probably get pressure from his wife, and eventually be asked to talk with the Bishop and likely lose his Temple Recommend if he persisted in not being good and “church broke.”  He’d be castigated as “selfish.” Am I wrong?  Anyone else a bit astonished at the blinders he’s got on (though I’m sure most postmos have witnessed their like before)?

Cultish characteristics of the LDS church

January 26, 2011

Here’s something I posted at a Top Ten Cults list comment thread.  I like the way the post tries to speak to a general audience.  I wish I had said more in the conclusion about the need to do two years as a missionary and achieve other markers of future ability to move up the Mormon hierarchy.  –MD (aka Phyllis Stean, and Phyllis Stein, and derrida at RFM)

(Originally posted at http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-cults.php.)

Phyllis Stean mantisdolphin.wordpress.com says:
July 11, 2009 at 11:28 am

As a converted Mormon (plus eight years now), my opinion is that “the Church”–such is how it is called by its “members,” itself another common appelation among the LDS to refer to those on the rolls of the Church–is cultish at the least.

Note: Jan Shipps, one of the foremost non-LDS historians of the LDS Church, also refers to it in its origins as a “cult” (Shipps, Mormonism, pp. 47-51). Unfortunately, Shipps’ definition of “cult” is entirely academic, sociological, and external: She sees successful cults as those that develop and become dominant or mainstream traditions, a fate she sees as shared by the LDS Church. Thus she refuses to judge her subject and proceeds with her narrative with archival pleasure and ambition.

However, living the faith is another matter: The prospect of living in a “part-member” family really brings the cultish character of the faith into relief. If children are involved, then one parent not being “active,” i.e., going to church regularly, can easily end a marriage and divide a family. (This seems more destructive to me than what one finds in mainstream religions.) The whole emphasis on being “sealed for all time and eternity” to one’s spouse and children, and the heavy indoctrination of youth through all manner of expected activities outside of the three regular Sunday church hours, lends great force to the bind that the Church keeps “weak” members (those in need of “strengthening”) in: to split from the Church creates a serious threat to one’s family and great pain and confusion to one’s children for not having a parent of “integrity” (I’m quoting all the buzz words here.)

Add to this the expected annual “tithing settlement” with the Bishop (he–always he–is like the head preacher of a given “ward” or church community–usually numbering from 300-400 people). One must go with one’s family to answer the Bishop’s question, “Do you pay a full tithe?” As invasive as this may sound to mainstream protestants, this “interview” setting is quite common in the Church, extending to regular “worthiness” or “Temple” interviews with youth and adults. Waywardness is watched for vigilantly, and to me this seems cultish. In fact, now the Church puts barcodes on “Temple recommends” and the Bishop of each ward gets a weekly report of who in the ward has been faithful in going to the Temple (another expected outside-regular-Sunday-Church-meeting activity of “faithful,” “valiant,” “worthy,” “active members”).

Connected to “Temple worthiness” (imagine being a member of a church where you are formally considered a less worthy member than someone else), there also are levels of acceptance and prestige in the Church as well: If one has a genealogy that goes back to the original members of the Church (1830s), that is quite special. If one has ancestors who were part of the 19th century “Pioneers” who traveled across the US to Utah, then one is certainly pedigreed. Being a relative of one of the Church leaders in Salt Lake is certainly a way into the Church aristocracy, and there are various other ways to ascend in this informal Church hierarchy, including perhaps most importantly the attending of BYU or one of its satellite campuses in Idaho or Hawaii.

I don’t have time presently to talk about the importance of “sacrifice” and “service” in the Church. Suffice to say that the emphasis on these can be quite overwhelming in terms of (voluntary) time commitments from the faithful.

 


The Hyperarchival Parallax

by Bradley J. Fest

Doubting Mark

An atheist's adventures in a land of faith

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