Talking To My Zelph

My quest for freedom from the LDS religion.

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Location: OA, Offworld

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Missionaries on Krypton!

I'm in the middle of reading The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson, and on page 206 I found what I consider to be a good description of LDS missionaries. Of course, this novel has nothing to do with Mormonism, and the paragraph I'm refering to is of "Krypton's ambitious younger nobles" whom Commissioner Zod seeks to exploit in his bid for world power.

He writes:

"Many of them were barely out of their teens, with fire in their blood. What they lacked in experience and reasonable caution they made up for with radical enthusiasm. They were young enough to be naive, convinced of their own righteousness, never imagining that their closely held beliefs might be wrong. They were perfect for what Zod had in mind."

Now I'll grant you, I never served an LDS mission, although I was a TBM at the age of 19 and I had a similar mindset to those young men who did. I was SURE that I had the truth, and I pitied anyone who didn't have "the gospel".

It took many years, some intense research and plenty of soul searching to realize that yes, I was wrong.

It's not an easy thing - admitting that you're wrong.

But that's the first real step to recovery, isn't it?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Silly Things Mormons Say #2

For the record, I had intended these "silly things" to be an extensive series, but it fizzled out rather quickly. I think I had actually started a #2 months ago, but never got around to finishing it. At any rate, here's something silly that I heard recently that I thought would be suitable for this kind of post.

I share an office with two other fellows - one is a lapsed mormon, such as myself, and the other is still immersed eyebrow-deep in the "church".

Shortly after payday one day, my uber-mormon office mate gets up from his desk and announces to us that he's going to go out to lunch. He walks out only to return a moment later and he sits back down.

We asked him if he was still going out for something to eat and he replies that no, he realized he can't really afford to go out to eat because his paycheck is what pays the house payment (they just bought a new one not too long ago) and his last paycheck wasn't enough to cover the payment.

(Now, I know for a fact that he's a full and honest tithe payer because I overhear him discussing finances with his wife over the phone constantly.)

I was SO tempted to say "you know, you can give yourself a ten percent raise right now by not paying your tithing anymore", but I held my tongue. I'm sure that in his mind, such an idea would be nigh unthinkable. He's gotta pay his way into heaven!

It just boggles my mind that people can be convinced of such absurdities. Hey, I once fell for it too, but at least I had a good excuse - I was raised in TSCC and didn't know any better. This guy actually CONVERTED to the mindlessness!

I feel sorry for him and those like him. I really do.

If I can step onto my soapbox for just a brief moment here:

They don't need your money. Jesus doesn't need your money. If you really want to donate it to a good cause, there are plenty of other reputable organizations out there. Hell, give some money to the Red Cross - I have! LDS Inc, will never see another dime from me for as long as I draw breath. And don't be afraid to toss a couple of dollars to a panhandler. (I know the church discourages such donations to people hanging out around Temple Square - "Don't give to panhandlers! Give us your money and let us distribute it any way we see fit!")

What a con. IT'S ALL A CON!

Jesus (if he was even real) would never in a million years fault someone for choosing to feed and/or clothe their kids (or pay a house payment!!!!) instead of paying tithing. He, of all people, would encourage taking care of each other - NOT A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION.

If I was still a praying man, I would pray for people who are caught up in all these despicable lies and deceptions.

Take some baby-steps toward your own freedom, be it religious, financial, or both. At the very least, stop paying your tithing - especially if you can't afford it. Don't allow anyone to dupe you into thinking you have to pay your way to the celestial kingdom. If it's real and you're a good person, you'll probably end up there anyway.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

(Oh wait, that's another speech entirely.)

Baby steps my steps. I promise it isn't too bad on this side of the fence. :)

Wow, It's Been Awhile!

Wow, I can't believe it's almost been 7 months since my last post!

Not that I haven't had anything to say - I guess I've just been busy with this, that and the other. That, and I think I'm finally evolving beyond the need to obsess over all things, I mean, I mean religious. The river or life has flowed ever onward and I have allowed myself to be carried downstream amidst all its frothy goodness.

I can say that when I was a TBM, I thought I was happy - because I thought I was actually part of something unique and special and that I had some kind of special "knowledge" that those poor saps outside of TSCC didn't have, but now that I'm free of the bondage that was LDS membership, my life has improved a hundred fold (if not more so!) Life is a joy to live, because I have learned to savor and appreciate each and every little moment. No longer is this mortal realm just a "way-station" to that fabled eternal glory. It has become everything, because for all I know (or anyone knows, for that matter), this is it. This is all we will ever have, all we will ever be. This life is a one-time deal. No do-overs. No second chances. No resurrection and afterlife.


So we might as well enjoy it!

What are still reading this dumb blog for? Go out and LIVE!!!

Oh, and don't forget to live long and prosper (I saw Star Trek today - thought I'd try to fit it into this post somehow!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Silly Things Mormons Say #1 (Just The First Of Many, I Assure You)

Earlier this summer, I went to a barbecue at a cousin's house. That side of my family is as TBM as it gets (almost to the point of being ridiculous), but they're good people and they mean well.

As an exmo, I am now more "in-tune" so to speak of the silly comments that TBM's make without even really thinking about what they're saying or how it might affect those around them - especially those of us who have radically different religious views. Of course, since most of my extended family aren't even aware of my apostasy from THE church, I'm privvy to some of the more asinine comments because they assume I'm still in the same sinking boat that they are.

Anyway, at the barbecue, I overheard some woman that I don't know (probably one of their friends and/or neighbors) make a comment about anti-mormons. At the time, the whole Mormons-getting-blasted-by-the-Jews-for-baptizing-them-posthumously was prominent in the news media. This older woman at the barbecue was talking about "nothing can stop this work" and that she either knew or heard of a man (I can't remember now which was the case) who was very vocal against the church and was apparently some kind of speed bump on the road to the church's plans of world-domination.

She said that this man was trying to stop "the lard's" work and since the mormon god is some sort of cosmic, unstoppable juggernaut who can't stand any form of competition, he "removed" the man by giving him a heart attack and killing him.....six months later.

I couldn't help but shake my head in disgust after hearing the statement. This woman just didn't realize how stupid she sounded. So this supposed omnipotent, omnipresent, all-loving-yet-stragely-vengeful god, couldn't find any other way to remove the obstacle who was this unnamed man and saw fit to just kill him, but for some reason, had to wait 6 months to do it.

C'mon, lady. Let's pull your head and think through this. Could their POSSIBLY be another explanation, such as the guy just had a lousy ticker or unhealthy eating habits and just didn't exercise enough, thus causing his heart attack? It just simply HAD to be the lard who took him out of the equation?

Silly...just silly.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My 2 Cents on Prop. 8

It seems to me that the LDS "church" is once again sticking it's nose where it doesn't belong with regards to California's Proposition 8.

First of all, what exactly IS Prop. 8? According to the entry on Wikipedia:

"Proposition 8 is an initiative measure on the 2008 California General Election ballot titled Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. If passed, the proposition would change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. A new section would be added stating "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The "church" wants everyone in California, nay, THE ENTIRE WORLD, to believe and act and think just like they do. They want to prohibit otherwise law-abiding citizens (you know, those *gasp!* GAY people) from marrying each other and having the same rights and recognition that all us fantastic straight people have. (Please note my sarcasm here!)

The "church" has admonished their flocks in California to donate their time and resources in support of this ridiculous amendment that basically encourages close-mindedness, hatred and discrimination. (see the Salt Lake Tribune article "Young Mormons urged to join fight against gay marriage in California" by Peggy Fletcher Stack: ).

As I see it, the "church" is welcome to enforce their own little rules and regulations upon their own members, but they have no right to push their religious agenda and ideals on anyone else. Are the gays knocking on the temple door demanding to be married within it's so-called "holy" walls? Not that I've seen. What does it really hurt to allow two men or two women, who love and care for each other to have the same rights and privelages as a heterosexual couple?

The answer, quite simply, is nothing. It doesn't hurt anyone or anything (although it might offend some people who are too stubborn - or stupid - to just let go of their bigotry and arrogance and just let other people live their own lives.)

For the record, when I was an active TBM, I allowed those blowhards in religious authority to convince me that a gay lifestyle was sinful, wicked and an abomination in the eyes of god.

Let me just say that I'm glad I'm not that guy anymore!

I've worked with and gotten to know some gay men at a previous job and I came to understand them and respect them - much more so than the holier-than-thou "brothers and sisters" of my faith. I came to realize that gay people are among the least judgmental and/or arrogant in the community, whereas most of the mormons I knew were quick to judge and condemn those with opposing views and lifestyles.

We should celebrate love in all its forms - be it straight or gay. It's a precious thing and should be encouraged and supported, not feared, hated, or limited in any way.

What's my bottom line? I am whole-heartedly AGAINST Prop. 8.

Say NO to bigotry and discrimination. Vote NO on Proposition 8.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The True Power of Priesthood Blessings

A woman I knew recently passed away. She wasn't that old and she didn't have any serious health problems to speak of, so her death was a complete surprise.

While at her viewing (held, strangely enough, in the Relief Society room of a local LDS ward), I overheard an older gentlemen telling about how he was one of the last people to see her alive.

He told of how just the night before her death, he had gone to visit her and she had complained about not feeling very well - a headache or something - and that he had given her a priesthood blessing to help her feel better.

I was appalled at how this guy didn't seem to realize the utter irony of the situation. I'm sure that he completely believes that he has some kind of magic healing ability bestowed upon him as an extension of "the lord's" holy priesthood and that he fully expected her to be A-Okay after his little laying-on-of-hands fiasco. Sadly, it was not to be.

From listening to his story, it didn't appear that he even considered the possibility that his magnificent "priesthood authority" wasn't any more real than a Disney fairytale.

I feel sorry for him and people like him.

I can relate, of course, having been raised in that school of thought myself. I remember being taught that if I had but the faith comparable to the size of a mere mustard seed that I could move mountains (Matthew 17:19-20). As a child, I took such a lesson to heart and I tested the promise many times. I mean, how awesome would that have been? I pictured myself as Luke Skywalker in the swamps of Dagobah, levitating stones with my mind.

Nothing ever happened.

Couldn't move even a rock without having to step forward and kick it.

So I convinced myself that the problem then was with me. I simply didn't have enough faith. So I would try harder to do everything I was told I needed to do to please this invisible "god" that never really seemed to much of anything at all.

It's a pity that these kinds of foolish lies and fantasies are perpetuated from one generation to the next. I mean, seriously, how f@cked up is it to instill a belief system in a child that creates feelings of self-doubt, self-pity, and sometimes even self-hatred? To coerce an otherwise healthy individual into thinking that there's something wrong with them?

When I was a True Believing Mormon, I was NEVER comfortable with who I was, because I never felt like I was good enough or that I deserved any "blessings" from Mr. Elohim or his sidekick Jehovah. It messed with my head something fierce.

Thankfully, all that has changed. I'm still trying to de-program my thought processes from all those years of youthful indoctrination, but I think I'm making some serious progress.

To any and all of you who might be taking a similar journey, I wish you well.

Just don't expect me to lay my hands upon your head in a futile attempt to tap into some spiritual powers - I doubt it would do much good.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Current Religious Status

Once I left Mormonism, I briefly considered looking into a more mainstream branch of Christianity - something non-denominational, but my personal studies had extended from Mormonism to Christian and then Religion in general. The only logical (for me) conclusion I could come to was that I didn't know, so I adopted the label of being an agnostic.

I didn't really think that anyone else in the world had an absolute knowledge of religious truth, either, so my mantra became "I don't know, and neither do you." I later learned that this attitude is called Militant Agnosticism. I don't really care much for the term though - it has an air of "I'm going to force you to believe as I do". That's not my intention at all. I'm willing to allow people to believe in whatever the hell they want. What I will argue with, however, are statements like "I KNOW this, that, or the other." That's such a foolish mindset. Nobody KNOWS anything about god, one way or the other.

So having said all that, I suppose I'm still a Militant Agnostic, but I'm bordering ever so precariously on the edge of full fledged atheism.

I agree with much of what Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, says on the matter. One great quote of his is (and I'm paraphrasing here): "we're all atheists when it comes to the gods of ancient religions. We just go one god further."

I'm still reluctant to come right out and deny the possible existence of some omnipotent creator, but until presented with absolute proof, I must seriously doubt that such a being is real.

I'm still trying to sift through my thoughts and feelings and overall beliefs with regards to god and religion, and for the sake of my own sanity, I need to find a way to boil it all down to the simplest terms possible.

Bear with me here.

Either god exists or he doesn't. I've seen virtually NO evidence to properly validate the existence of god. God then, most likely does not exist.

If there is a god, which god is it? Whose god? Just one or many? This idea opens up a can of worms and raises exponentially more questions than answers.

As a follow-up, if god exists, which church is His church? Again, there are no real answers, only subjective opinions.

Just on this reasoning alone, the likelihood that the mormon church is "the only true church on the face of the earth" is pretty low.

(I'd like to close with a disclaimer here - this blog is intended to assist me in my transition out of mormonism. I'm not trying to start any fights with TBMs of any faith. As I've said, you're free to believe whatever you want. If anyone even reads this blog and disagrees with me, that's your right and you're entitled to it. Any comments attempting to "set me straight" will most likely be ignored or deleted. I don't have the time or energy to fight with anyone.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Terrible Truth About Tithing

I used to work at a pretty cool laboratory.

It was a fairly small company that did extremely well in it's market and was a serious competitor to other, larger companies. One such competitor eventually bought out the small lab and welcomed [most of] us, the employees, into their corporate family and we retained our jobs. Not too long after that, an even larger competitor bought out the second company and decided it had too many laboratories in operation around the country and needed to shut some down.

My branch was one that was closed, thus leaving me and about 100 other people suddenly unemployed.

As referenced in my previous post: shit happens, eh?

Getting laid off is pretty big news and family members are undoubtedly going to catch wind of it. When I broke the news to my TBM father, one of the very first questions he asked me was "are you paying your tithing?"

At the time, I don't think I'd paid said tithing for several months. I'd already begun having doubts about the church and had just started my research. For me, one of the first stepping stones on the road to apostacy was to stop paying tithing. Things had always been tight anyway, and it didn't make sense to me that a loving god would demand my 10% when I really needed it to help provide necessities for my family.

I don't remember now if I gave my father a straight answer or not. I probably did my best to dodge the question. I wasn't ready then to come out of the doubter's closet and face the judgements of my TBM family members.

Looking back now though, I have to wonder what the hell is the actual point of tithing anyway? Mormons are promised (PROMISED!) by their leaders that if they are faithful in obeying the LAW of tithing, then "the windows of heaven will pour out blessings upon them".

Had I been forthcoming with dear old dad and admitted to ignoring the church-mandated "law", it would have been so easy for him to think that perhaps I was responsible for my own unemployment.

Nevermind the fact that a large number of employees affected by the lay off were temple-recommend holding, garment wearing, tithing paying LDS folks. They were doing everything they thought they needed to do to earn god's great and wonderful blessings, so why were they being punished in the same fashion as I?

I'm only speculating here, of course. I don't know for certain that my father would think such a thing, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility.

Now, fast forward a year and a half or so. I'm back to work for a new company (I was only unemployed for two weeks). My father tells me that the company he drives truck for is being forced to cut on of his runs. This directly affects his monthy income, cutting it almost in half.

As far as I know, my dad is still Mr. Gung-Ho Mormon Man. He's always talking about his trips to the temple, so I can only assume he's been a faithful tithe payer in order to qualify for the highly prestigous Temple recommend.

So where are his blessings? Where's his financial security? It should be very well safeguarded by the Lord who has promised to provide both spiritual and temporal blessings to those who abide by the law of tithing.

Let's cut through the many (oh, so many) layers of bullshit heaped upon us by the "inspired" LDS leadership and come to a much more likely conclusion: paying tithing to the Corporation of the President of TCOJCOLDS does absolutely nothing to ensure any kind of financial security or guarantee any kind of "blessings". Of course, some will argue that point, saying that something good happened because they paid tithing. There's simply no way to prove that such is the case.

If bad things can happen for no quantifiable reason, than so can good things.

"There But For The Grace Of God..."

I used to like the phrase "there but for the grace of God go you or I."

I don't know where it's originally from, but I always thought it had kind of a poetic quality to it and back when I had the mindset of an arrogant True Believing Mormon, I foolishly assumed that the phrase had a practical application in my life. If not for the "one true gospel" of the LDS church, after all, I could be just like that homeless guy in Pioneer Park, or I could be a drug addict or a criminal, or worse.

"There but for the grace of god..."

It served as some sort of validation for me that I was doing everything God wanted me to do. I was a member of His church, holding His priesthood authority (although it never seemed to have any actual power to do anything) and for awhile there, I was a card-carrying member with access to the International House of Handshakes (aka, the temple). Obviously, I was one of those valiant spirits in the pre-existence who had accepted Jesus' plan of salvation and was born into and raised as a member of the only church with the true and restored gospel.

"There but for the grace of god..."

I'm not sure when, but it was probably during my year of church history research, analytical process and personal reflection that I realized the true implication of the poetic phrase.

If "there but for the grace of god..." was true, then that meant that God plays favorites.

It suddenly didn't seem very fair that some people would be given preferential treatment over others. How arrogant it was for me to assume that god liked me better than some poor kid in Africa somewhere who lives in a mud hut and goes to bed hungry every night.

I don't like that god. He apparantly holds grudges and doesn't follow his own rules of kindness, compassion and forgiveness. More than likely, such a being that hands out blessings and cursing willy-nilly doesn't even exist.

The simpler - and more logical - explanation is that shit happens.

Bad things happen to good and bad people.

Good things happen to those exact same people.

And pure chance is the cause of it all...not the grace - or lack thereof - of some higher power.

Maybe I'll change the phrase to "there but for pure-dumb luck go your or I."