They Deserved It

Do you hear the whispers in the church hallways?

Those sinners got what was coming to them. Sooner or later the price of sin must be paid. You are free to choose, but not to choose the consequences of that choice.

In any discussion I have had where I have pinned down the believer and forced them to look squarely at the core morality they hold the comeback is always the same.

You’ll get yours, God’s gonna damn you for such insubordinate behavior!!! 

That is when the fear shines through. When you realize in a single swoop the real reason they worship a being that tells Abraham to kill his kid. The reason they revere a supreme being that they believe that is willing to kill millions of children by drowning them because they didn’t worship him enough. A reason that is fundamental, that is basic, that is emotional. The reason is fear. 

It’s that same fear that drives these whispers when people whose lifestyle offends their God are a massacred in a gay bar in Orlando.

They had it coming to them…

Really? I mean really? Did the kids in Sandy Hook Elementary have it coming to them when they were killed? How about the babies drowned in Noah’s flood? Did they have it coming to them? I’m beginning to think you believe those kids deserved it. Why? Because when you are forced to look directly at the morals of the being you worship, you don’t say this is wrong. Instead you tell me I’m gonna get what I deserve. For what? For pointing out the atrocious morality of the being you worship?

Maybe it’s time to try and not be afraid, maybe its time to shelve the fear and instead of seeing ‘other’ or ‘different’ or ‘sinner’ you can simply see another human seeking the same happiness and fulfillment that you are.


Can you find the courage to face your own God’s condemnation of these ‘others’ and step up to the plate and declare this thing as morally wrong as you would if it were your own kid killed in that way?

Can you just for a moment put yourself in their shoes and give them the same benefit of the doubt you’d want if the tables were turned?

If it happened to you, you’d like a little sympathy right?

Don’t you think they deserve it too?

Oh My God, I’m So Offended!

One of the fundamental flaws of religion is it replaces a persons innate sense of morality with a list of rules. In doing so, it makes obedience more important than personal responsibly. How often have you seen the religious go off on someone that offended them by doing something that is forbidden by their particular list of rules? For me this happened recently, I saw a person take offense at the use of the word ‘God’ in a Disney movie, particularly the phrase ‘oh my God!’

Funny thing is they never stop to think about where their list of rules came from nor how they already pick and choose their rules. For example, the ten commandments in the bible are often touted as necessary to follow in Christianity and its various sects, but why? Why those 10 and not the other 76 from the same part of the book? When you ask a believer why they wear clothes with mixed fabrics defying their God you get a couple different reactions. Most often they have no clue what you are talking about. If they do know they will tell you that Jesus came and fulfilled the law of Moses so that doesn’t stuff doesn’t matter anymore.

But wait, aren’t the 10 commandments part of the law of Moses? It was Moses that brought them down off the mountain right? Moses that said God told him, “Thou shalt not kill!” Right before he ordered the deaths of thousands partying around a golden calf… yeah that guy.


I mean Jesus came along and when he was asked what commandments were most important he could only come up with two of them. Both positive and all about love. So why are we even considering that something like saying ‘oh my God’ is offensive? Which of the two rules of Jesus is it really breaking? The love god one or the love your neighbor one? If you insist that the original 10 that were replaced by Jesus still apply as part of the ‘love god’ stuff, then what does it mean to ‘take the lords name in vain’? Sure church leaders teach that is all about swearing. But is that really what it means? After all these guys have been wrong before. I decided to look up the word vain:

So lets try out this statement with these two definitions.

Thou shalt not take the lords God’s name in having a value of ones appearance. Hmmm seems nonsensical. It could mean you shouldn’t think you are better than anyone else when taking on God’s name. I could get behind that. But how that means you can’t ‘say oh my God’? I’m not seeing it. Let’s try the next one.

Thou shalt not take the lords God’s name producing no result. This is more interesting. You shouldn’t use the name of God without producing a result? I could see saying, ‘oh my God’ being kind of a prayer for help in a scary situation. And if God didn’t show up to help you out the prayer would certainly be ‘in vain’. But don’t a lot of payers meet that criteria? Have you ever prayed and felt it was in vain and received no help?I supposed it could also mean if you doubt God is gonna help you at all you shouldn’t be praying. Gah, it just doesn’t make sense. Maybe Jesus was right and all that law of Moses stuff was a bunch of bullshit.

I say we stick to his 2 commandments. Love the Fridge and love your neighbor. (ignore that part where Jesus says to hate your family though that’s no bueno.) Why change Fridge for God? Well, the Fridge teaches that God is really just you helping you, and we can’t have you loving who you are can we? Ok, ok if you insist, you can change it to love yourself. Loving who you are is not a bad thing, just don’t love yourself too often, you might go blind. 🙂

The moral of this rant where I’m offended at others being offended? I’m going with this:

If you are gonna ask yourself for help. Don’t do it in vain. Help yourself, love who you are. Then after you have figured that out. Help the person next door.  – Thus saith the Fridge.

The Legacy of Laban

Thank you, Miryam. This looks delicious, but I cannot eat. My heart is broken for uncle Laban.

Remember last month, when old Lehi dreamed Jerusalem would be destroyed for the people’s wickedness … and then disappeared with his whole family. One day business as usual, and the next day, gone.

Lehi dreams of leaving Jerusalem
Lehi dreams of leaving Jerusalem

We feared the worst. Why would Lehi disappear without settling his affairs? He had to know what this would do to Laban. They weren’t just friends … Lehi was in charge of our Phoenician account and if we lose them, we lose everything. And now we find out he borrowed an enormous sum of shekels from the West Bank to pay for the frankincense shipment, right before he vanished.

So no one has seen Lehi for weeks. But a few days ago his son, Laman, walks in like he owns the place and says his father wants the brass plates … you know, the ones engraved with the Torah, that Laban commissioned for the Temple of Solomon.

The holy Torah on the brass plates of Laban
The holy Torah on the brass plates of Laban

Laban was stunned. Are you mad? he says. Your family leaves me high and dry, on the verge of bankruptcy, with the Phoenicians and West Bankers breathing down my neck … and now you want the brass plates, the only book of its kind, my gift to the Temple? What’s going on? Where’s Lehi?

Laman demands the brass plates
Laman demands the brass plates

Laman refused to answer so Laban showed him the door. But the next day … and you may find this hard to believe … Laman returned with his brothers and a cartload of ‘treasures’ to trade for the brass plates.

It was embarrassing. They thought a load of furniture, a few old lamps and some dusty goods from the back of the warehouse would buy a priceless Torah. Laban threw them out. And he put all their goods in the storeroom until we can find Lehi and tell him what his sons are up to.

Laban ejects Laman and his brothers from his home
Laban ejects Laman and his brothers from his home

But that isn’t the worst of it. Last night, after we left Laban and Rachel’s anniversary party, an assassin sneaked past the guards and jumped the wall to find Laban passed out in the courtyard. Taking Laban’s own sword, he cut off Laban’s head and stripped him naked.

The assassin murders Laban in the courtyard
The assassin murders Laban in the courtyard

Then, wearing Laban’s bloody clothes, the assassin bluffed his way into the treasury, stole the plates of brass and kidnapped Laban’s most trusted servant. And thus was our house brought down into the dust.

Wearing Laban's clothes, the assassin steals the brass plates
Wearing Laban’s clothes, the assassin steals the brass plates

Laban was like a father to me. He raised our family from poverty and named me his scribe. And now he is dead, his legacy in ruins, his beloved Rachel in mourning. Everything he built, destroyed by assassins with no regard for God, temple or the holy scriptures they stole.

Into the desert
Into the desert

So, tear your robe and sing the Kaddish, my lovely. I leave at once to join the search party and bring Laman and his brothers to justice. God help them if they’ve done anything to Lehi and Sariah.

Zeal Isn’t Always Bad

Muslim Zealot

– Straps on bomb, blows self up to kill others 

Christian Zealot

– Takes gun, shoots up planned parenthood clinic

Anti-religious zealot

– Swears on FB, makes people look silly, twists words

Zeal isn’t the issue. It’s what you believe that is.

When the foundation of your morality is whatever God wants = good. The end of that zealot path justifies any evil you can think of. Personal judgment is set aside. People aren’t allowed to think for themselves. They simply have to follow orders and not think because they assume they don’t know what God knows. 

This mode of thinking you are too stupid to understand and just need to blindly follow comes from the theodicy, also known as the problem of evil.  

Basically it is this, if God is always good and created all this then why is there evil in the world? This is a quandary that has been debated for millennia because there is obviously evil in the world. 

Little girls are raped and killed here but God lets that go unchecked. (even though sometimes he answers other prayers)   

The believer must assume that God, in his infinite wisdom, had some legitimate reason for letting that girl get killed. It’s the only way he can square his inner morality with his belief in God being a good person. (This is known as reducing cognitive dissonance)

The essence of this is the believer doesn’t know why it happened but he has faith God’s decision was good. This is very much a blind faith. Because the believer has ‘no clue’ at all why little girls are raped in this glorious and wonderful universe that God made. 

Once you have that kind of blind obedience it is just a small step to be willing to kill when God wants someone dead. And here is the rub. All religions have scriptural records where God did tell followers to kill for him. From that point, a voice in their head, or a charismatic leader they think speaks for God is all it takes and we have another mass shooting in the news. 

 
All because the believer thought he was ‘too dumb’ to understand why God would allow evil things to happen in the world. 

If I had one wish for the light of the Fridge to bring into people’s lives it’s this:

You are NOT too dumb to figure this stuff out. You can understand it!! All you need is one thing. A willingness to seek truth at the expense of your beliefs. For when truth matters more than the comfortable blanket of conformity when reason and logic outweigh emotion and fear, that is when the light turns on and you discover you have far more power to change the world than you ever realized.

The Fridge needs you to realize this because as deities go it’s a God good for finding lost car keys, giving great sunsets and the occasional cold beverage. But not much else. 

The Fridge needs us, to realize it’s on us, to make the world a better place. How? Share what you know and have learned. Share the way you had to break down your own precious beliefs and take an honest look at them. Share how it felt then and how it is worth it now. 

So my fellow followers of all that is chill. Grab a couple cold ones out of your God, sit down with a friend and share the light of the Fridge. Be a little zealous of how cool it is! You will be glad you did. 

  

Confidence Man

Just a bit ago, I had someone tell me that people just didn’t con the people back in the 1800s, that is why I shouldn’t be skeptical of Joe Smith when he started a fraudulent bank or charged people for scrying buried treasure that he never found. He certainly wasn’t in it for the money! That got me to thinking…

As is common to many of us now days when we wonder about a bit of history or how things work, I turned to the google machine. This popped up on NPRs website.

How Scams Worked In The 1800s

The article said:

…Arguably, the 1800s were the Golden Age of schemes. The term “confidence man” or “con man” was probably coined midcentury and, according to the New York Times, the Brooklyn Bridge was sold more than once to unsuspecting folks in the 1880s and 1890s… 

“Modes of communication were not so swift,” she says, “so it was easier for itinerant swindlers to move from town to town, practicing the same small cons within a given region without getting caught.”

Reading this sent my post-mormon confirmation bias ringing off the charts! If you have studied even a small amount of Mormon history you know that this group of people moved a lot. Especially when Joe was running the show.

I immediately thought of one often taught situation where Joe, upon arriving in Kirkland walks up to general store owner, Newel K. Whitney, and said:

 “I am Joseph, the Prophet. You’ve prayed me here; now what do you want of me?”

Talk about brash confidence! This story is a faith promoting one of how Joe miraculously knew the name of a store owner and ends up with them giving him and his family a place to stay for the night.

To me first time through this seemed amazing, partly I am sure because of the way it was presented. But if you stop to think about it. Is it really that hard to find out the name of a store owner in a new town? Especially of the only general store in town? Probably not. Most people prayed for help and stuff those days too, not too much a stretch to guess that part either. But such is the way of magic tricks and conmen. They make it seem amazing when the trick is so simple that if you discover it you are ashamed you were so easily fooled.

I was a mormon very much like the dad in the south park episode relating the story of his religion. Blissfully proud of that miraculous way Joe made up for the pages that went missing!!

These days I’m much more the dumbfounded Stan wondering how in the world people believe this stuff!

But isn’t that the way it goes when you are bamboozled? The mark is always happy to be taken. It is the sign of a good con.

For a bit I did my best to counter my own bias as I googled around the church history I was learning. My old beliefs definitely popped up to defend themselves by pointing out that Joseph had started a religion before the fraudulent bank1 while he ran from town to town. I mean were there really that many religions started in the 1800s?

Turns out there were, it was called The Second Great Awakening because there were so many of them:

“The Second Great Awakening stimulated the establishment of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

Mormonism wasn’t particularly unique in its goals for the time nor even the most successful one. Prophetess Ellen White and the Seventh Day Adventists claim some 18 million followers and started about the same time. So much for that stone cut without hands eh?

So con man or prophet? I guess that is the question every LDS person faces sooner or later about Joseph Smith.2 One thing is for sure, there is a lot more to the story than is taught in Sunday School. If you don’t believe me, try putting together some timelines of the events on your own. It is very enlightening. But am I gonna convince you you might have been fooled? Not likely, especially if you adamantly don’t want to know. But I do feel it is my duty to at least voice a warning.

One last note from wikipedia:

Confidence tricks exploit typical human characteristics such as greeddishonestyvanityopportunismlustcompassioncredulityirresponsibilitydesperation, and naïvety. As such, there is no consistent profile of a confidence trick victim; the common factor is simply that the victim relies on the good faith of the con artist. Victims of investment scams tend to show an incautious level of greed and gullibility, and many con artists target the elderly, but even alert and educated people may be taken in by other forms of a confidence trick.

A confidence man gains your confidence, a confidence man projects his confidence in the same investment he is asking you to commit to. It leverages social connections, it leverages your fears and your greed.

Are you afraid of dying? Would you want to have the power of a God? If the answer is yes to both these questions. Please ask yourself once more…

Are you still confident that Mormonism is a religion not a con? Are you smart smart smart smart smart, or dum dum dum dum dum? 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Google Kirkland Safety Society to do some of your own learning’, you will be glad you did, um well, or maybe not.
  2. For the record I think Joe started believing his own con. People that learn the tricks of psychics and cold reading often report how easy it is to get trapped in the idea they have those powers. If thousands of people start calling you a prophet, do you think it might go to your head a bit? Even if it had just started as a way to make a living?

Mourning with France and 100 Other Nations

While I mourn with France today, I have been reminded that I selectively express my mourning for grievous events in Western civilization. I tend to be more emotionally affected by tragedies in Western cultures.

This does nothing to lessen the tragedy of Paris. However, it does help me put into perspective the magnitude. 122 people is a lot of people. But it is small compared to tragedies we see unfold before us in so many non-Western countries. In the last week, how many thousands have been slaughtered by those devoted to religious or other ideologies? In the last week, how many millions (billions?) of women and children have endured a living hell of suppression created by devotion to religious and other ideologies?

My wife and I watched the movie Timbuktu two nights ago. It tells the story of Timbuktu and the surrounding area under the power of religious extremists. That film and my wife’s statement to me last night are powerful reminders to me that while I need to continue to fight oppression and bigotry at home, I need to listen more closely to the stories that come from far away, both geographically and culturally.

The prematurely ended lives, stunted lives, and damaged souls as a result of ideological devotion are everywhere.

I have been thinking locally (speaking culturally) and acting locally. I need to remember to think globally and act globally where I can while I continue to act locally.

I know both major and minor holocausts of ideology are currently occurring in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, North Korea, Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and I’m sure a few countries whose mention in the news have not perked my ears. And how much of that has ideologically-driven U.S. foreign policy contributed to?

I also know that people are living their own “personal holocausts” of ideology all across the globe, including the U.S. because people are so devoted to ideology.

In the U.S., the continued effects of racism are so much more apparent now that so many have given themselves permission to eschew compassion in the name of ideology. Pay gaps are large, opportunity is clearly unequal, illegal immigrants are being demonized, voting rights are being restricted, and racist statements are being made by serious candidates for President, for crying out loud.

In the U.S., oppression of women appears to be getting worse. The gender pay gap is horrendous, access to reproductive healthcare is being restricted, and representation in leadership positions is atrocious. And that same permission to to eschew kindness in the name of ideology has both a good portion of the populace and serious presidential candidates making sexist statements and getting away with it.

In the U.S., oppression of LGBTQ people is considered OK by so many people on ideological grounds. The permission people have given themselves to be brutal in this arena is just astounding.

And though it makes none of the U.S. problems any less damaging, it is so much worse elsewhere in the world. Can we evolve as a species to accept that oppression and violence in the name of ideology is wrong? Maybe it will take rejection of ideology altogether.

I’m trying to do my part. I reject ideology. I don’t care how much my personal positions agree with a religion, political platform, personal following, or group, I refuse to label myself as a member. I am a non-member of any ideological group. I reserve the right to judge whether my positions need adjustment with new information without regard to what any group says I should believe. I claim and I own that responsibility.

Will you join me?