Monday, April 27, 2009

Persecution may rage

You seldom hear about anti-Baptists or anti-Lutherans, so why are Mormons always going on about "anti-Mormons"? —Lamplighter
So then, why does Anti-Mormonism exist to the extent that some here say it does?
Great question, and one that Mormons themselves point to at times to show that there must be something special about their faith. First, I think it's important to point out that in the Mormon church's history, anti-Mormons were very real. Of course when you hear about these anti-Mormons in the church's version of its history, they're always menacing and violent for no apparent reason. The unstated assumption is that these people are fighting against Mormonism because it's True™ and Satan has stirred them up to stop it. I think one of the most mind-broadening things a lifelong Mormon can do is to find out more about those people who persecuted the early Saints. I'm not saying you'll come to agree with them, but you'll at least have a more nuanced view of what it was that angered them, and what it was that they feared.

Fast forward to today. To hear some people talk, anti-Mormons are as rampant today as ever. I don't entirely disagree, but what needs to be pointed out is that the usage of the word has changed, dramatically in fact. See, in its infancy Mormonism was not just an ideology. It was an organization, a town, a city. It was a political force, and even a military presence. All of that gradually changed when the "gathering" phase ended and Mormons became a part of mainstream culture.

Most people today do not hate, or fear, their Mormon neighbors. They're not anti-Mormons in the historical sense. They may, however, think that Mormon doctrine is nuts, and they may even say so openly. I'm one of those, and I'm sure many people on this forum consider me an anti-Mormon because of it. I think today the label is mostly useful for giving Mormons a reason to ignore people who say things contradictory to their faith. But it's not a very accurate representation of me or any of the hundreds of ex-Mormons I know, frankly. I don't hate Mormons, I just think they're wrong about Mormonism.

It remains to be seen whether we'll come full circle on this "anti-Mormon" thing. The church does seem to be making its political presence and organization felt lately with the same-sex marriage issue. I think the more the LDS church is seen as a political force, the more resurgence we'll see of real anti-Mormons whose distaste for Mormons goes beyond simple disagreements about how people are saved.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A man sees what he wants to see

How is anybody mormon nowadays, despite all the archealogical evidence disproving it? —Captain Haddock

Some things take time. It's hard to believe that fifteen years ago I'd never heard of the World Wide Web. I didn't have email. There was no It may be an Information Age, but we're still the same Homo sapiens species that hunted mammoths. We weren't built for the world we find ourselves in.

We're hard wired to think and behave in certain ways, particularly when it comes to social groups. For most of human history, being cast out of the group you belonged to would have been disastrous. We talk easily today about following your own heart and not listening to the crowd, but that's not in our nature. All I'm saying is before people will be willing to leave their Mormon faith, or any group for that matter, they have to really believe that they'll be safe without it.

And by the way, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt as to the "archealogical evidence disproving" Mormonism. Personally I would not phrase it quite that way, unless you know something I don't. How about an "utter lack of evidence supporting" Mormonism?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

That all may be profited

Do mormon priests or any leader of the church of the latter day saints get paid in any way shape or form? —

This includes finnacial support or and type of payment whether cash or not.
Yes. But most positions in the LDS church are unpaid "callings" that members take on in addition to their regular vocation. Even bishops of wards and "stake presidents" (a stake covers several wards) are entirely unpaid. All of this unpaid service is what allows the LDS church to get by while only asking members to donate 10% of all their income and to give a generous "fast offering" each month if they want the church to help their fellow man.

cadisneygirl wrote: "The highest leadership gets a small amount and living expenses, but most of them are retired from their secular jobs and have their own money."

With all due respect, cadisneygirl, neither you nor I have any idea what the "small amount" is that is given as a stipend to general authorities or mission presidents or whoever. What makes you think it's small?

mormon_4_jesus wrote: "Since about 99% of the men in our church hold the priesthood in one form or another, it would be hard to pay them all."

That's right, m4j. Apparently there was a big debate in the preexistence as to which way the money should flow in the church. Do we pay people to be members, or do we ask them to give money instead? It was widely acknowledged that God was capable of doing his own work and didn't need a dime of the Saints' money, but the prevailing opinion was still that blessings from church attendance should be indirect and nebulous. That way the less faithful could still attribute their financial blessings to other things, like say their jobs.

And in hindsight you can see the wisdom in doing it this way. Otherwise you'd have people lining up to be in church, all collecting financial rewards and worse yet expecting their own little piece of heaven later. Which could never work because, where is the faith?!! Shouldn't we have faith, the way God does? Or did, when he was like us?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Profit, seerstone, and rack of lamb

Will somebody explain the mormon religion to me? —Ada
I just dont quite understand it.
So there's this kid in upstate New York. Farming country, 1820s. Only he doesn't so much like farm work. He and his brothers and father develop this sort of income-producing pastime of searching for buried treasure. Mind you, the income isn't in the treasure found but in being paid to search, both in cash and apparently in sheep needed for the occasional ritual sacrifice. Lambchops, anyone? They never actually find any gold, but the kid thinks on his feet and always has an answer for why it slipped away.

He gets religion. I guess he always had it really, but his father's leaning toward unitarianism and his mother's evangelical protestantism and Bible reading leave him conflicted. Not to mention he's a middle child and struggling to find his place. Somehow this all comes together into a story of an angelic visitation, a divine purpose for young Joseph, and the burial spot of ancient golden plates in a nearby hillside.

It's quite an interesting story, and Joseph and his eventual followers ended up shaping a large part of the history of the American West. Today the main branch of Mormonism still believes in the mission of Joseph Smith, and believes his divinely given authority carries on with a modern-day prophet. Currently that position is held by Thomas S. Monson in Salt Lake City, Utah. They build temples, read The Book of Mormon along with their Bibles, and mostly look and act like everybody else. You probably work with a Mormon or two.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Undeniable thought killers

Refuting Spritual Confirmations —renegade

We have all heard a tbm claim that they have received an undeniable, personal witness of christ or joseph smith. They claim that it was far too powerful to have been generated internally, that it must have been transmitted externally, and that it even spoke truth to their mind. I have actually had such experiences in relation to the church, but I know now that our mind is perfectly capable of eliciting such a powerful sensation.

I am interested in any scientific studies that show how the mind accomplishes such powerful "spiritual" experiences. But I am even more interested in examples where individuals claimed a powerful spiritual attestation, which was later proven certifiably false or misleading, especially within the church.

One example in my family. A few years ago, several family members claimed to receive strong revelation that a certain family member not marry a certain person. They claimed that their personal revelation (for him) was undeniable, and that it would end badly. Even as a believer at the time, I questioned them as to how it was that they could receive inspiration on behalf of a brother/BIL, since they did not have dominion over him. They explained that if they prayed/fasted enough, with the right intention, that God would unveil the truth to them as well (and that he indeed had). He married her anyway, and so far, the marriage is just fine. All those who had this manifestation seem to have forgotten all about it, and frequently express how she is such a great addition to the family.

Do any of you have similar accounts?
When a Mormon says, "I can't deny the experiences I've had," what they mean is, "You're hurting my head with what you're saying and I don't want to think about it anymore."

I don't think it's an assertion you need to deal with head-on, because that would be fruitless anyway. I always just respond with, "No one's asking you to deny anything." If and when that person is in an emotional and psychological state where they're ready to deal with the possibility of the church not being true, they'll find it easy enough to reevaluate and reinterpret those experiences. No sense pushing them before that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Facebook, rated E for everyone

Facebook help . . . obviously I have offended with my views and how do I handle it? —stubborndane

Okay, I need some help here. Last night, I was on facebook with my sister and she thanked me for helping her out with opening her store. She ended the post with "knock three times" and I responded "What is wanted?" I have already received emails asking why I mock the church publically and that I have already made my opinions on the church well known---On my religion views, I stated "not sure, organized religion blows." I feel like the people who have responded with nasty grams (people from high school )who have judged me without knowing any of my history or what has happened to me since moving to So. Cal. 24 years ago. I feel judged. But I certainly don't want to offend others . . . but come on!


Thanks to all of you for your wonderful reply's. I thought I would share my response to facebook friend. I still have a lot of work to do to retrain my brain . . . I go into mo mode and want desperately to please others instead of putting myself first. Someday I'll be a big girl . . .

Here it is:
---really . . . this has you upset? LOL, did someone spit in your oatmeal this morning? Offensive quote deleted. Honestly, I was a bit shocked that you would turn something so small into something you felt you had to be confrontational about. You have always had a great sense of humor---where did it go? I want you to know how judgmental you came across in your post to me. You know very little about me so I am pretty sure I have not made it "clear" about my feelings and beliefs. You are welcome to your feelings and opinions and I am more than respectful of you saying what you need to---even if I don't agree. However, that same courtesy must be reciprocated. I wasn't trying to offend you or your beliefs (it was a simple comment between my sister and I) and if you only desire friends who walk and talk and act like you do, well I don't think I am that person. I need people in my life who are supportive, happy, and interested in me as a person. I don't need the judgement __________ and I am hopeful that was not your intention either.
I think we're all still working out societal norms for Facebook. It's probably a bit disengenuous to say this was just a comment between you and your sister, stubborndane. You posted it on Facebook. That's a little more like saying it to your sister on stage in front of all your earthly acquaintances. Granted it's a madhouse with conversations everywhere, but you can't blame someone for seeing and reacting to it.

That's not to say I have the answer. I've now been unfriended by at least 7 Mormons on Facebook, most of them relatives even. I'll admit that hurts. Tomorrow morning I have the pleasure of attending an Easter party at the home of one! But I at least try to be cognizant of all the potential readers of things I post on Facebook. Are you really surprised that someone was uncomfortable with you quoting the temple ceremony?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yet another testament

Could people write another Book of Mormon? —newagekook2000

I mean Joseph did it why Cant I?
Lots of people write books. They're called authors.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Longing for the dark ages

Do you ever look at how crazy the world is today and think that Jesus Christ might return in your lifetime? —Carolyn1345

Why, because Obama is president? I think a little perspective could help here. How crazy is it that women can vote? That black people can own property? That your life expectancy is over 80 years? That we no longer stone adulterers and burn witches? How crazy is it that you and I are free to publish nonsense on the internet without fear of retribution?

Look, there's only one necessary ingredient to get us to Armageddon: a critical mass of militant believers. If every person on earth today, leader and layperson alike, spontaneously decided to drop their religion, whether Christian or Muslim or Mormon, all of our best reasons for killing each other would disappear. Religious beliefs are divisive and dangerous in a way that no other beliefs about the world are.

My biggest fear for our future is that end-of-times prophecies will become self-fulfilling. You're probably more worried that your kid will turn out to be gay. If history is a guide, the only hope for freedom and world peace is the spread of information and the downfall of dogma. Praying for Jesus to come only makes you a part of the problem.

Freedom wrote:
"if every person on earth were to drop their religion we would fight over different things.its our nature.also,we still have money,control,relationships,road rage,hurtful behaviour based on physical appearance.the list goes on my friend.lets try to think about what we say."
@Freedom, I didn't say people would stop killing each other. Should I have added a disclaimer that road rage would go on unabated without religion?