Multi Level Mormon (MLM)


I have begun to think of Mr. Trimble as a bit of a nemesis today. Let me tell you why. It is because of my niece, I have written about her here before. She is on a mission right now for the Mormon church, she is a loving, kind, albeit somewhat gullible person. I hate it when people take advantage of her trusting loving way. So why does this guy bug me? Because he is the epitome of of this type of advantage-taking person. He reminds me of the guy selling Amway, Nuskin, Essential oils, Nutraceuticals, Monavie, Meleluka, Pampered chef, Avon, Cutco, Scentzy, Herbal life, Nature’s sunshine and about a dozen other MLMs that I have been approached about over the years. They are your best friend and have sooooo much in common with you and your beliefs so you are sure to trust them. They only want to help you build your downline. They want you to know they care about you. In short, they want you to buy in to their pyramid scheme.

Pyramid schemes are a family affair, not unlike the church. 1 You see you are taught that once you have the truth that you should be desirous to share it. That teaching runs so deep that when you discover the fraud the church has gotten away with that all us apostates want to share it. Big mistake, you quickly find out though, as the quickest way to alienate friends and family is to point out the faults of the thing they deeply believe in. (See number 1 from last weeks post.) People in the church have been taught to look at all counter evidence with a persecution complex, if you critique them then it is proof they are on the right track. This is possibly the biggest reason that those outside the church see it as cultish. It is a positive form of the double bind in psychology terms. What that means is you are trapped by the logic. If you are a believer consider this example, it might help you see my point. A Muslim declares to you that Allah is the one true god and that Mormonism is based on a false prophet. You point out that Allah commanded Muhammad to marry young girls and create a society that thinks it is ok to fly planes into buildings killing people to prove a point. The Muslim says your negativity and lack of praying hard enough only proves to him that Allah is the one.

house
Can you see there is no way to counter his reasoning? It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Either way by his logic he wins. The problem isn’t one of proof one way or the other, it is a problem of faulty logic. Since there is no way to negate the outcome, you can use that type of logic to prove anything. This happens all the time when a person is indoctrinated into a cult. Ironically many of the same methods are used to sell you really expensive fire alarms or time shares2 as well as getting you to buy into an MLM. A missionary learns these skills first hand. It could honestly be one reason there are so many successful entrepreneurs to come out of the mormon culture. You have to be able to sell your product after all. When it comes to selling a religion, the only product is a dream, a great afterlife. Not at all unlike the promise of wealth once you build your downline is it?

So why do these MLM types bug me? Because I see a person selling someone something they don’t really need. All in an effort to build their own business, caring about the actual person is not the primary reason for their efforts. So when my niece sends me a link from one of these super popular mormon blogger’s articles that are literally filled with falsehoods regurgitated as truth, it bugs me. When this much BS is sold as valid information, either A) this guy hasn’t a clue about what he is pontificating on or B) he is outright lying. And who is he taking advantage of with either his incompetence or fraud? Someone I care about and don’t like to see mislead. How far did he go? Well lets take a look. He gives us 11 reasons to believe him. Before he does so he sets an emotional stake in the ground with this statement.

One cannot deny the existence of that book. It is there for all to read and it survives any and every attack.”

First the book exists is a proof? If that is the case then the Fridge really is God, because… well look in your kitchen, it clearly exists. Same for the fact you can read it, but here comes the clincher, ‘it survives every attack.’ How so? By what measure does it survive anything? Does a false book immediately evaporate? Does fiction just disappear into nothingness? What is the Quran doing still hanging around with a couple billion followers if that idiotic statement is true? This is one of the biggest falsehoods I realized only after I looked past my own personal bias on the topic (yes, I was an idiot too:)). The real truth is, it doesn’t meet any critical examination but his last one. We will get to that in a minute, first lets look at the 10 things it ‘survives.’

1. An uneducated boy wrote it.
This is simply untrue. He wasn’t a boy when he published the Book of Mormon, he was 24. It was written over a two year time span before that. Check the dates, he was 14 in 1820 when he claimed the first vision happened, the book published in 1830. Maybe you thought he stayed 14 for a decade… Also the uneducated bit is misleading as well. Formal schooling not so much, but his father was a school teacher. They made sure that Joseph could read as is evident by his own testimony. His own mother bragged about how good he was at telling stories. Is it really that unlikely a book like that could have been made up? after all Christopher Paolini wrote the book Eragon when he was 15 .

2. But, but Chiasmus and stuff!!
Turns out there is a book called the late war with all that stuff that was used to teach school kids back then. In case you aren’t following links Joe did go to high school at age 20 with the Stowell kids, very reasonable chance this book was studied. Read The Late War side by side with your BoM, it is eye opening.

3. Middle east geography
This is saying that NHM=Nahom, I guess that might be the case if back then acronyms were all the rage like they are today! None the less even a slightly remotely critical assessment makes this an obvious grasping at straws.

4. Making up names
Well first see number 1 up above, look at all the names the author of Eragon made up. Second, just because you can’t make up names doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Also look at the maps here, there is some very obvious inspiration for names on old maps of the place he grew up. Also for the record, this map-name deal was the thing that finally collapsed my shelf after years of setting it all aside and endeavoring to have faith.

 5. If Joe didn’t do it it must be satan? 
Dude that was on saturday night live! Try to be a little more original! Besides Joe being totally capable of such a work there were others that could have contributed as well. Oliver Cowdrey among them. This type of argument is a fallacy known as a false dichotomy.

6. Other sheep
This is a good way to trigger a true believers reflex action, because this idea is drilled into you as proof of the BoM from day one. But think about it, if you believe the bible, why do the American indians have to be the other sheep? They could have been people in Africa or even Egypt, and remember the world was a much smaller place back then. This is yet another feel good argument that creates the idea of support, but is actually meaningless. Oh and if the book was made up in 1828, Isn’t is obvious it could be made up to fit the idea of other sheep.

7. Legends of the white God. 
Why pick and choose your evidence? The author referenced by the link says that this guy came over via boat…. not the supernatural description in the BoM. So you trust the author for only part of what she says, but she got the rest wrong? This effect is known as confirmation bias, and has been discussed here before. Just as there are reams of authors talking about this legend, there are reams of authors explaining it without the BoM. Including the example used.

8. Joe Smith got the stick of Judah right.
Ok I almost laughed out loud at this ‘proof’. Come on…. think! If he was making up a story in 1828 he could have easily worked in a prophecy after the fact. The only way this can seem miraculous at all is to first assume the text is not a 19th century work of fiction. Otherwise it is patently obvious how easy it would be to read the bible and then write a book that fulfills biblical prophecy. Besides, the whole lost tribe thing wasn’t a new idea in the early 1800s as you can see by these quotes.

9. All those witnesses. How could it be a hoax?!
I used to put a lot of faith in this as well, after all they are right there in the cover letter on the first page. But then I found out the 8 witnesses didn’t even sign their own name. Oliver Cowdrey did it for them, here take a look at it yourself on the JSP website. The three witnesses when you search the accounts yourself only saw the plates in vision, with their spiritual eyes. Kind of like a daydream if you will. As for the hoax not being exposed part, all you have to do is actually read the (aghast) anti mormon material from that time frame, where there are dozens of people exposing it. It only doesn’t seem that way because you are taught from day one that anything critical is a lie. Plus Joe called anyone that took him to task a liar and cheat, often lying himself as he did so. Just look at page 408 to 412 here in the History of the church volume 6. The self proclaimed prophet denies the polygamy that William Law is declaring he is doing and calls William all the scandalous names in the book for exposing him. Later Holy Joe orders William’s printing press destroyed for printing the facts about JS polyandrous liaisons. The truth of the matter, when all this went down JS was married to 20+ women.  You have to ask who was exposing who and who was doing the lying?

10. No contradictions
Again a flat out lie. There are a slew of contradictions in the BoM, some between the original 1830 printing and a later version, I am not just talking about grammar changes here, this is about things like the nature of the Godhead. The book is also full of anachronistic contradictions, things that hadn’t been invented yet or have been proven to not exist in the time and place setting of the book. There are impossible growth rates of populations and 2 million missing swords. The list of problems with the book goes on and on. All you have to do is actually read the book looking for these issues and they stand out like a sore thumb.

Finally, The spirit tells me it is true. Trust your feelings.
This is the only thing you can use to prove the book true, and it goes contrary to all the evidence to the otherwise. It is what is called a testimony. It is based entirely on feelings. I want to make a point here. Even after all 10 of the above issues totally collapsed for me and I was honest with myself that all those reasons were outright wrong in most cases and tenuous in the best possible light. I still clung to my testimony. I was sure I had felt something, sure I had had a witness. Just like he explained it happens. All the rest of the reasons collapse under honest examination and only this remains. My nemesis tells you to trust your feelings. I trusted mine. I also trusted them when my best missionary friend set up a time to hang out and it turned out he was selling Amway. Paul H Dunn sold me a different kind of lie. Turn’s out your heart can sell you things that your brain knows are a con job (HeartSell™). It’s how conmen make a living because they know this one thing…

BS till you sell
There will always be people selling you something by making you feel good. The question is, are you buying it?

  1. If you have been paying close attention you will notice that the MLM Natures sunshine indicted in the link above is on the list of MLMs that saturate UT
  2. My brother recently got a free stay in vegas to hear a time share spiel, the guy doing the selling talked about being Mormon outright, but seemed dejected when he found out my bro wasn’t your average mormon being married 6 years without kids, guess he wasn’t as easy of a mark as he was used to. They didn’t buy the share. Yay for a little skepticism! 🙂

Jesus Was a Rebel

The bible is an interesting document. It is full of contradictions, nearly 500 of them. In church you never talk about them all that much except for the once in a while when a teacher goes off the bland correlated path and enters interesting territory that isn’t the basic you are evil and need to repent stuff. Maybe this is why people laugh at the dumbest jokes in church. It does get pretty boring hearing over and over how evil you are and how you’re in dire need of repentance. A little humor or some lesser known historical facts go a long way in spicing up the incessant repetition that is part of the religion I was born into. I think that is one reason I was loved as a sunday school teacher. Being willing to dig a little deeper to encourage personal thought and investment of your own intelligence rather than doing things just because you were told to was a common theme of my lessons. People that knew me then probably shake their head now and say it was only a matter of time…It makes sense to them that I would rebel and leave. You know, because I thought too much. Funny because years ago I got no end of praise as to how interesting, thoughtful and inspiring my lessons were at the time. Ah those were the days, but back to the topic.

The Bible, it is loaded with contradictions. From my current apostate perspective I think this might be key to its appeal to so many people. Think about it, if there is a pet doctrine that you want to justify, search out the bible you will find it in there. Need a reason to hate mom and dad? Yep that is in the bible. Need a reason to be kind to others, got you covered. need a reason to justify murder, you can find it in right there in black and white.  This is not only the case with the Bible, it is such with the Quran and the Book of Mormon too. In fact all the greatest religious books are somewhat bi-polar when it comes to right and wrong.

This is really super useful for the religious. It makes it so they can always find a passage to support their position, and since being religious requires the ability to block out any bit of information that runs counter to your personal bias it seems like the passage is just what you needed. Case in point:

As the world of Mormonism was recently rocked this last couple of weeks by some pending excommunications from the club. Pro Mormon bloggers took up the torch in support of booting them out.

One is this guy. He states in his opening line that:

Too many people are neglecting what is in the scriptures and trying to“customize Christ”. You can’t do that…seriously.”

And then he goes on to customize Christ to his own Mormon brand of Christianity. Seriously? Doesn’t he realize there are hundreds of churches that read the same bible he does and they walk away with entirely different takes, even on the very same passages he quotes in support of his position?

I read this blog where they author says “Kate was not in a position to receive revelation for the whole church” as one of the reasons the excommunication was justified. Well duh! She can never be in that position as a woman! Kind of the point isn’t it? Come on ladies think about it when you justify the patriarchy ruling over you!

Who rules over you
Over and over again I read blogs from believers saying that people must submit to the men that are called of God and just trust their version of what God says to do. This is no big surprise because that is what they are taught to do 1 by the religion. The same guys they tell us are human and make mistakes. Because you know they were wrong about that whole black priesthood thing.

These guys are fallible seems to be the message, but not right now. Not on this thing. 2 How in the world do you know they are right now when they were so very wrong back then? Are you so sure that you think booting out a person for only asking them to think about it is the right thing to do?

Then I saw this commentary that used Jesus to declare that intolerance was a really good thing. After comparing the son of god to a purple dinosaur he said something about Jesus that I totally agree with.

He condemned. He denounced. He caused trouble. He disrupted the established order.”

You see you can use the bible to preach love, but you can also use it to condemn. Ironically you can pick and choose from the verses in such a way you can customize the scriptures into your own personal doctrine. I don’t think this would be possible without all the convoluted contradictions in there. Is it likely that the reason scriptures make an emotional impact on the reader is because they are so convoluted that you can match them up to just about any personal doctrine you fancy? I think so. In that vein let me customize christ to make a point.

Jesus was a rebel, he spoke out against the status quo, he disrupted the established order. He even made a woman an apostle. Jesus rebel At the time he lived very few people followed him. The established order went so far as to kill him for his rebelliousness. But a few people listened, and in time the world changed.

When I see Kate Kelly condemned for her actions by the established order, when I see a small but dedicated group support her in her efforts, I see history repeating itself. We love rebels that stand up to the rulers that tell us how to think and boldly declare they are mistaken. But usually not in mass, at least not until after the revolution happens. This is why rebels often become martyrs to their cause.3

The masses of the established order ALWAYS vilify the rebel at the beginning. This is why my FB feed is over run with comments of believers pointing out all the reasons that Kate deserves what she gets. Think about it. Would Jesus have been up on that cross unless the masses of jews though he deserved what he got? Now maybe Kate won’t make quite the impact Jesus did some 2000 years later, but we can only know for sure if we wait 2000 years.

You might see a heretic, I see a Martin Luther. You see an apostate, I see a rebel. Who is right? Well the full story hasn’t played out yet so we don’t know. My money is on history repeating itself. Jesus was a rebel. So is Kate. This means the status quo they upset by being heretics will eventually change.

Just you wait and see.

  1. In this talk this submission of your will to a higher power uses the example of the BoM that you should even be willing to kill if God said so, of course only the leaders can tell you that. This is so obviously wrong in hindsight that looking back I am still amazed that I could make the same exact justification and think it completely logical without for a minute realizing in inconsistency of it all. Such is the power of zeal
  2. Can anyone show me a way to tell if the current leader is really inspired this time vs just telling us his opinion before 50 years have passed and we can look at it historically?
  3. Kate Kelly is a martyr if you think about it from the churches perspective. By revoking her temple blessings she suffers spiritual death in the life to come. She believes the church is true and according to the doctrine of the church she just spiritually died for her cause. Greater love hath no man… or woman…

Loyalty and Revolution, This is Gospel

We are born to be loyal. It is in our DNA, its even in the DNA of our closest primate relatives. It is why you can always find a Ford lover to argue with a Chevy advocate. There will be an Apple fan ready to take on all those PC users. Marriage is fundamentally a declaration and promise of loyalty to another human being. Likewise joining a religion often comes with an entrance ceremony that at a minimum implies loyalty if not outright covenanting it.

Also in our DNA is a natural hatred to those that are disloyal. We don’t just feel a little anger toward the flip flopper, often we literally hate them. When a person that for a long time agreed with you suddenly seems to take a different approach that you don’t think is right. It makes you feel anger. It is an interesting question, why would we feel anger toward a person that just simply changed their mind, especially when we are also at the same time declaring every person has a right to freely think what they will?

Well I think it comes back to loyalty. Loyalty is something that helped our own tribe survive the invasion of other tribes. In days long past you outright declared an oath of fealty to your kinsman. Why would this be a good thing? Because of reciprocity. It makes you sleep better at night when you trust your kinsman on watch has your back. Loyalty is tied in deeply with trust. Trust is one of those things that makes us moral beings. It is part of what bonds us socially. Along with a sense of fairness and altruism, trust and loyalty are key to keeping a group together. Ironically or not, these are also not human only traits, here is a Ted talk on it if you like to study that type of thing. Dogs are some of most loyal species on the planet. They are bred for it. Likewise these morals of loyalty and trust are part of our DNA, we are born with a moral center.

Personally I was born and raised a Chevy guy. That was the truck to have. I owned several over my lifetime. Then one day I test drove a big white Ford. Here some 10 years later I’m still driving that truck. Having a good experience with it had affected my loyalty to the brand I was raised with. Why is that? Is it because it was that much better of a product? Probably not, the differences aren’t all that big. More likely my loyalty ties to the fact I invested in it. It was the most expensive truck I had ever bought. You see loyalty goes hand in hand with investment. This is why all those frequent flyer programs and credit card points systems work. Think about it, if a credit company in the long run didn’t make more money with all their cash back incentives, would they keep doing it? There is a psychology of loyalty and investment at work. You keep doing what you have invested in. Why? Because you are vested in it. Kind of circular isn’t it.1 Because loyalty goes with investment, we can become loyal to any cause we sacrifice for.

Our loyalty bonds us to a group or brand. It helps us overlook little deficiencies, like the door locks not working on my truck anymore. I see those as not such a big deal, but the Chevy loyalist would readily point it out as a flaw typical of all Fords. Our loyalty to our own group makes us advocates of that society. Is it good to be loyal? Is there ever a time when you should be disloyal? I think the answer to both is yes. It is loyalty that binds us together, when we bond as a group and are loyal to that group’s ideology we effect change in the world. Because significant change doesn’t happen until a single voice becomes many and that takes loyalty.

On the other hand there are times we should upset the status quo. We wouldn’t advocate a wife being loyal to a husband that is abusing her would we? What if she was sure he had good intentions and felt like was a good provider other than the bruises n’ all. She might even feel like she should remain loyal to him and be angry at you for telling her not to. When we have misplaced our loyalty, it is ok to change. When the whole system is corrupt being disloyal is the only way to fix it. Do you think Jesus was being loyal to his jewish roots when he challenged the religious powers of his time? He was a rebel, a traitor to the religious leaders, called them hypocrites and tried to point out a better more moral way. What happened to him for his rebellious actions? They kicked him out of the group. In fact kicked him clean out of humanity by killing him. Why? Because he was disloyal to his tribe.

This week some news broke in the tribe I was once loyal too. Some of the activists have just been told they have to tow the party line or leave, voluntarily or forcibly so. Their sin? Trying to make the group more accepting of people that think differently than the guys in charge. Not believing the guys at the top speak for God on these subjects was what they did wrong. The irony is the same organization that gave the them the boot declares its leaders are human and make mistakes. A reasonable person has to ask. Couldn’t the stance on Gays and Women be just as mistaken as the whole blacks denied priesthood and all that polygamy stuff? It’s not the same you say? Then why was this guy kicked out for not towing the line with blacks and the priesthood ban?

The June three’s reason for getting the boot is simple, they were disloyal to the tribe. In a comment thread I was reading earlier today, several people mentioned that they had pretty much gotten over their own emotions that followed their discovery of deception and subsequent loss of faith, but then this story broke and it caused them anger toward the religion that they hadn’t felt in a long time. This has to do with loyalty as well. Even after you leave a group you don’t ever expunge its effects entirely, your roots are there, they are your kin. Even though you don’t believe anymore, deep down you hope the religion you once were part of will shed the negative aspects that it has enshrined into orthodoxy. You want the best for for your kin that you left behind, because you still feel loyal to them. Think about that, you are no longer loyal to the organization, but you are loyal to the people in the organization. This kind of loyalty fosters revolution.

Rebel

Getting kicked out of the group hurts and it makes you feel bad, no longer being part of the tribe is heartbreaking as Miss Chill so beautifully pointed out. But it isn’t quite as bad if there are others that see things the way you do, it helps you get over the loss when you find a different group to be loyal to. When the church booted the September six for not towing the party line it made a few ripples amongst the average believers, but it was 1993, social media didn’t exist. This time it is different, this time you can find a new tribe quickly, you can reach across the planet and find a soul in Sweden that feels the same way you do about being lied to.

One thing that I suspect is still not quite getting through at the highest levels the church is the time for hiding the past is past. Being exclusive is not going to help the cause of bringing people to the gospel because ultimately the gospel is inside each one of us. Ultimately we have to square what we feel is fair and right inside with the declarations of the leaders of the group we belong to. By telling people like this to fall in line or else, you are forcing the choice. There are many that were remaining loyal, seeing the good things in the religion and still looking past the the ‘broken door’ locks of the brand they love. This action makes it a requirement to look at what they believe they have to decide if the religion they hold dear is inline with their own gospel of fairness, their own opinion of equity and right and wrong. This action says, it isn’t ok for you to be different, just like the guy that was cast out for thinking black people should have the priesthood you must do as we say to be part of the club. It says you must think like the leaders tell you to. Even if the leaders might be wrong. If you don’t, your only choice is to rebel.

A religion that excises the people that try to change it for the better shoots itself in the foot. By making examples of people they show that dissidence is not allowed, they create martyrs to the cause of justice and fairness that is innate in our humanity. Expulsion from society is one of that greatest punishments we enact on any human being. It is a significant threat. Here is the rub though, the threat of expulsion only works if you have no where to turn to. This act will hurt the church membership more than any other excommunication they have done till now for one simple reason. The people that don’t like it don’t have to fear being alone. Thanks to the hyper-social world we live in today there is a place to go, there is a gospel for the fallen ones.

“This Is Gospel”

This is gospel for the fallen ones
Locked away in permanent slumber
Assembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heart
The gnashing teeth and criminal tongues conspire against the odds
But they haven’t seen the best of us yet, If you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives and often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apart Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heart
This is gospel for the vagabonds,
Ne’er-do-wells and insufferable bastards
Confessing their apostasies
Led away by imperfect impostors Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heartDon’t try to sleep through the end of the world
And bury me alive
‘Cause I won’t give up without a fightIf you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives and often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apartOh, the fear of falling apart
Oh, the fear, the fear of falling apart(Oh, this is my beating heart, this is my beating heart)
The fear of falling apart2
  1. It seems to me that the very nature of our thinking is circular, consider how recursive and circular this sentence is. ‘I think about thinking about thinking about……’ and yet we can grasp this. Because our brains are wired in loops. maybe even our consciousness depends on this loopy wiring! Is it really any wonder that we can get so easily trapped in circular reasoning?
  2. Brendon Urie understands what it means to be branded an apostate, he was once Mormon as well, maybe that is why this song speaks to deeply to me.