Beyond Belief

I think I need to figure out how to move on. I got to admit it is hard to do.

Maybe it’s because I hang out in forums with people that have felt the same spiritual deception from a church we once trusted. Maybe it’s because there is always this unspoken elephant in the room whenever I am with family that still believe. It seems really hard to avoid the things happening in the church I once loved. They are all around me, even when I don’t want them to be. Case in point; this new release from the church about the Book of Abraham. It gets posted on Deseret news, it gets blogged about, it gets talked about by members and ex-members alike. For me personally this is a significant topic, it was a major factor in my loss of belief and trust in the religion of my birth. Amongst some of the social media I frequent this topic will get dissected and analyzed bit by bit. This particular essay of all the difficult topics that have been released by the church has got to be the longest one yet. It hits all of the apologetic approaches that are discussed about the translation of the documents that were in the possession of one Joseph smith Jr. It runs around in so many circles of justification that it sets of the BS-ometer of any reasonable human being that has every tried to buy a used car from a guy with a name like Fast Eddie.

It pretty much says they got nothing on the reason why documents such as the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar aren’t even close to a legit translation and seems to hang most of the doubt your doubts on some missing long scrolls that for some reason are now conveniently gone for any kind of comparison. Brushing away things like the fact that the pictures in the book are right smack dab in the middle of stuff that they admit have nothing to do with a correct translation, all the while taking care to not mention the fact that the pictures themselves are not translated in anyway at all that is accurate.

In fact if you would rather watch a video of the approach the church has taken in explaining the book, Brother Jake released one a while back that pretty much nails it.

If you bother to check out the references for the long scroll theory you will soon find that it is Hugh Nibley (born in 1910) said he heard the story from his father, Alexander Nibley (born 1878), who heard it from 68 year old Joseph F Smith in 1906. Nibley telling a story he heard from his dad who heard it from JFS who was remembering an experience when he was 5 years old some 60 years after the fact.1  It is literally hearsay of hearsay of hearsay of 60 year old childhood memories. Something the FAIR apologetic group is sure to tell you can’t be trusted as shown here. Oh wait, looks like FAIR only counts that type of hearsay unreliable if it counters their point. If it is supportive such as is the case with the long scroll theory, well then it’s all good.

But dissecting this latest church release isn’t what my post is all about. This one is about me personally, I need to figure out a way to move beyond this belief system that keeps dragging me back in and riling me up with these intentionally deceptive explanations that take 5 pages to basically say we don’t know why it doesn’t make any sense but hey the writing is pretty, so trust us. Or seer means translate without really translating anything. Or stuff is missing that would explain it all. Or, or, or, or till you find some reason to still believe. Please don’t take your tithing money away, we will miss you!

All this marketing puffery to keep you from drawing the conclusion that it makes obviously simple sense if you consider just for a moment that it was made up philosophies of men mingled with scripture. All this repeated effort at a sham job, it bugs me and keeps me from moving on. And the fact is I want to move on.

I want to work on a mythology that doesn’t entrench itself in unchangeable doctrine and a need to lie and obfuscate to remain relevant. I want to move beyond the belief that was so entrenched in my psyche that things like this cause my ire to rise. I know some people seem to need the belief system, I realize that no matter what I say there will be millions that will go on happily willing to be bamboozled in exchange for a promise that can’t be tested till you die. When you have given decades to something you loved and were ultimately fooled by, it is hard to leave alone. When you started a blog about your stream of consciousness and how religion affected your life, it is hard to leave alone. When you watch time after time a trusted organization carefully deceives its very own members, well that is beyond belief.

Maybe it is a sign of the Fridge, a signal from the light within, when the religion you trusted does things that are beyond belief it is time for you to move beyond that belief.

I think I am going to go YAGE a couple of exmo groups and join some humanist ones, get a little more focused on making the world a better place and less so on trying to save the ones that just aren’t that interested. Time to focus more on the turtle lovers club than the negatives of turtle hating. What do you say?

Are you with me?

letting go

  1. Thank you to curious_mormon on reddit for the correction!

13 Comments

  1. I’m with you! I once said about the Mormon Church, “I feel like I’m stalking and old girlfriend that I dumped when I found out she was cheating on me.” It’s hard, but there comes a time when you just have to move on.

  2. You know there are a couple of PostMo groups that are more about making friends and planning activities so that the loss of a social group isn’t quite so oppressive. If you live in Salt Lake City or Orem they have weekly meet-ups. I’m not saying we don’t still get sucked into the news of the day, but mostly it gets handled with less anger and more humor. If you’re interested let me know.

  3. The LDS church sure puts themselves in a bind with this latest essay. If the BOA is untrustworthy as scripture then the BOM is certainly untrustworthy and the whole thing falls apart, so they have to stand by the BOA through thick and thin, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly against it.

    Perhaps the bigger question than the historicity of the LDS scriptures is why some stay, even when presented with a mountain of facts that disprove the foundations of their religious beliefs.

    We’ve moved beyond the point where anything from Mormonism is credible any more and now I think it’s time to focus on the psychological and mind altering aspects of groupthink, of manipulation, coercion, fear tactics, and just plain stubborn denial.

    These are big questions and the answers may help those of us who have escaped to understand our loved ones who have not. In the end we may have to concede that religious devotion is akin to mental illness and symptoms and outbursts may be treated but maybe not cured.

    I do feel your frustration though. I too struggle to move on. Almost everyone I love in my own family, my neighbors, my friends are still LDS and so I am continually compelled to meet them in their world because they will not even recognize that there are worlds outside that small place that are far more interesting, engaging, and enlightening. So I pull up my big girl panties and cross over, sequester my words and even thoughts to fit in their limited perspectives, carefully give my responses, edit my art, my writing, my laughter, everything to comply with what they need in a nearly infantile view of “appropriate”. And it’s exhausting.

    Just know that in time you begin to surround yourself with other kinds of people. Other kinds of intellectual information, entertainment, etc.. Eventually your home is purged of the LDS art, books, food, and decor and you find better things to surround yourself with. You will make new friends, some of which will become as dear and close as any family. And you will find yourself willing to drive great distances or sacrifice much to just get to know more of these interesting and diverse people.

    Your Mormon family will still be important, but eventually you will be able to let their tiny world be an odd anomaly in your peripheral vision. The world is a big place and there is so much to try and taste and hear and read that is far more worthwhile than the limits of Mormonism.

    I haven’t added to my blogs in a couple of years. It’s ok to fade to black. What you’ve processed is clear, dear, and intelligent. It’s ok to let it go. Please don’t delete a word or thought. Leave it here and once in a while dip into this well for a reminder of what you spent a great deal of time and energy processing. You have created yet another great blog for those who will come out after we’ve moved on. The path is getting wider, smoother, and far less harrowing for those who finally dare escape. You have removed some of the rocks, filled in the ruts, and paved over the sandpits. Thanks.

  4. in the end, we are all brothers and sisters – period! Let the dogmas come and go as they will, explore and expand or contract at the dictates of your conscious. If we have truly been given free will, then there can be no final judgements – the only judgement I will submit to is, “What have I learned?”

    Good luck to all; I’ve personally hated this struggle with the church I believed in with all my heart. Yet, I have found my truth, and it is making me free.

  5. Yeah, I totally resonate with this. I was basically feeling like I had already “moved on”, and was mostly at peace with myself and others believing however they saw fit. But when out of nowhere, Kate Kelly, John Dehlin, and the Book of Abraham issues his the media, I got sucked in again…

    I hadn’t posted about Mormon stuff on Facebook for quite a while, but here I was posting updates and opinions almost every day, and enjoying the drama of the discussions in a vain hope that maybe someone might choose to soften their heart, to look a little more gently upon those who leave the faith, or to choose to leave this or that dogmatic doctrine for a more liberal interpretation of it, thereby reducing judgement and negative feelings.

    And maybe it’s done some good. I’ve had a couple TBM’s comment in a way that gives me hope that compassion and reason do exist there. And I’ve had other comments that leave me shaking my head in disbelief. It’s possible I’ve been blocked or unfollowed by others, and am trusted even less now in some circles. So be it.

    Overall, as much as I want to be a “hero” and help make the world a better place, I have forgotten how acting with the motive of changing others may not be the most effective approach, and may not even be helpful at all. I’m so much more at peace when I can accept the world and those in it exactly as they are without trying to change them in any way. And at the same time, I want to continue doing those things in my life that bring me joy, and that I think WILL make the world a better place. But I need to respect that not everyone’s vision will match up with mine, and that’s okay. I can still connect with those who have similar life values and goals, and find enjoyment there. Peace and love to you always, Profet!

  6. I felt much the same this last week after hearing so many faithful members talking about how this essay on the BoA has strengthened their testimonies. Whaaaat?!? To me it was obvious the “throw all apologetics on the wall and see what sticks” approach they were using. Many statements in there are in opposition to JS himself and/or the words in the BoA. It boggled my mind that they thought that this essay strengthened the book. I think I realized that you cannot help those who don’t want help. People have said it, but I was convinced I could help them see the light. They don’t want to see. The recent wave of excoms, the essays, Trimble, and other current mormon events are polarizing the membership. Some are leaving, using reason and logic to pull the curtain back, but many are clinging tighter to their faith. I have a feeling that the membership loss will slow and stabilize. Don’t get me wrong, the church will die by slow attrition, but the remaining zealots will be impossible to reason with. I watch as my family members have based irreversible life altering decisions on the church and it’s policies. They have suffered becaused of a faulty belief system, and this has produced an iron girded confirmation bias. I have to back off a little from the groups as well. I don’t want to live in anger. I suppose I really am working through the stages of grief.

  7. I completely understand where you’re coming from and I’ve been thinking the same things for a while now. I stopped going to a local freethinker discussion group because all they could talk about was Mormon church stuff, particularly OW, and I’m just so tired of constantly re-hashing everything Mormon. I’m convinced the religion is bogus, my spouse and kids aren’t LDS, so I don’t feel like I need to keep re-hashing it when I socialize with people.

    It’s really hard here in Utah where we are just constantly barraged with the church on the TV news, newspapers, radio, local politics, the public schools. It’s always there in some respect. I’ve noticed a lot of local discussion groups that are supposedly designed to help people transition away from Mormonism tend to keep people involved in the religion – just now they’re the angry dissidents instead of the devout members.

    Everyone goes through the angry phrase where they need to talk about lots of things in detail. It’s part of the grieving and healing process. But it does seem too easy to get stuck in that phase, especially when you live here in Utah because it’s just so much harder to put the church completely behind you and move on.

    When you have neighbors who either ignore your family like you’re invisible and forbid your kids from playing in the neighborhood play groups or blame your family for anything untoward that might happen in the neighborhood just because you’re not part of the ward, it’s really hard to successfully put the church behind you. It’s also hard if all your co-workers are devout LDS and treat the workplace like an extension of their church.

    So yeah, how do you successfully move beyond belief when you’re stuck in Utah and still have kids at home? I think it would be way easier for me if all my kids were grown up and moved out. Having kids still at home who have to learn how to tactfully navigate prejudice and missionary efforts makes it harder to completely leave it all behind.

    1. I hope you can become unstuck here! For years, (and any number of reasons beyond just not wanting to live in SLCLDSHQ) I’ve wanted to live in Portland. Finally, my circumstance is allowing me to make this change, and I am happy and relieved there’s now light at the end of this tunnel. I’m approaching my mid-fifties and I feel like this last quarter of my life holds the most promise – and I intend to succeed beyond my wildest expectations. Good luck – and remember: you’re never stuck forever.

  8. I’m glad I found your blog. I feel the same way the LDS church releases a new explanation that perpetuates the fraud that the church is. It’s as if they know it’s a fraud and yet even the must absurd explanation is accepted by most of the members. Keep up the good work.

  9. A reader on Reddit pointed out I was mixing Nibley’s, he was right the actual account is a whole ‘nother level removed, for your and my edification.

    I like this post, a lot, but I’d like to point out that you’re mixing Nibleys.
    Nibley telling a story he heard from JFS
    Hugh Nibley (born in 1910) said he heard the story from his father, Alexander Nibley (born 1878), who heard it from 68 year old Joseph F Smith in 1906.

    http://www.donotlink.com/framed?57488

  10. Your blog is great and incitefull as always.It is hard to let go of something that has dominated your life for so long and then find out it was all just a lie.People will believe what they want all evidence to the contrary.However you have to do what will help you the most after all hugging a cactus all the time hurts and doesn’t allow you to move on

  11. Agreed. It can be exhausting to keep up with all the controversial stuff and try to comment on all the ridiculous posts on FB and elsewhere. I too am starting to feel I need to move on and focus on making a positive difference somewhere else, wherever that may be… But I still hope you blog here for a bit longer ;-).

    1. I sure hope the blog doesn’t go anywhere. Once I let go of the self judgment that religion seemed to inflict on my every action I have found inspiration for my writing and a veritable fountain of ideas to write on. It’s time for this ‘church’ to move beyond its origins and reach for a wider audience than just % of a % of the world.

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