The First First Vision Mashup

I don’t know if my readers can tell or not, I don’t write all that much specifically on Mormonism these days. I think that is normal. This blog being initially cathartic during my transition away from the LDS faith has become more of a social commentary for me personally. It also seems to be a half hearted attempt at shining a new perspective on keeping the positive aspects of faith in a world that is becoming increasingly secular.1 But today is an exception. Today I watched the new First Vision video that was recently released by the LDS Church.

This video is admittedly a mashup of 9 different accounts of the first vision. It is complete with modern sound effects and plenty of emotional theatrics. The reason this video bothered me enough to return to a post that is specifically Mormon related?

Simple, the stuff they left out. You see my own journey out of the faith involved a lot of study on the first vision. I spent weeks reading each account and creating a timeline of events to help me personally understand what happened and when it happened. In fact a large chunk of my work ended up here on a website created by a friend that had a similar interest at the time. http://firstvisiontimeline.com.

Now there are plenty of step by step comparisons of these different accounts on the internet. Here and here are a couple of good ones for further study. Even if I were willing to go into painstaking detail on this post, I have learned that people who don’t want to question don’t care about the details.  People that are willing to be wrong will look them up on their own. So consider those links to be some teasers if you really want to better understand this ‘historic’ event. I’m sure a little googling and you will find a plethora of detail on your own.

I’d suggest this first mashup of the first vision, is really important as far as the LDS church is concerned. You see up till now the primary narrative has been to repeat the canonized version that is the churches scriptures. That narrative doesn’t hold anymore as Richard Bushman, LDS historian and believer points out.

It’s part of the effort of modern leaders (that I personally think have been as surprised by the actual history as I was) to come clean and retell this stuff in light of availability of information on the web. Information that in the past was dismissed as anti-mormon rhetoric, not to be believed. That doesn’t work anymore since anyone with a little curiosity can quickly find most of this ‘anti’ stuff is by and large legit historical fact.

That means this new video is part of the effort to inoculate members against the complications of discovering the history of the church wasn’t all that much like you were taught it was.

Let me put it in Elder Snow’s words:

“…And now curriculum and seminaries and institute can safely weave these essays into a future curriculum to in a sense “inoculate” is a word I use quite a bit for the rising generation.”

Now I totally balk at the idea that truth must be a disease  requiring the seeker to be protected against it. Maybe that is why this video release struck a nerve bringing me to a keyboard today. Because when this apologetic tripe goes down, I see subtle deception at play. It’s done by half truths. For example:

In this video the opening text identifies when these accounts were written.

That part is true, but right off the bat I think some important information is left out. The fact this took place in 1820… 12 years before the first account, and 18 years after the official account isn’t mentioned.

Why is that relevant? Because we don’t naturally expect a world shaking vision to remain unwritten for over a decade, let alone 5 years after we have accounts of Moroni and the plates and 2 years after the church this vision was presumably all about was founded. Maybe they left that part out even though it’s clearly stated in LDS cannon because these other accounts don’t much agree on when it actually happened, one says he was age 14, some 15, others 16, 17 even 18 years old.

For me personally half truths are the worst kind of lie, the ones that the used car salesman uses to gain your trust while selling you a lemon. Unfortunately this video is loaded with them. Please don’t take my word for it, go find all the original accounts and read them for yourself as you watch it.

When I did my own research, the timeline presented a far different narrative as to what went down and when. One detail left out from all the apologetics is the fact no one really talked about the first vision till the late 1850’s. Another are the common themes found in the 1838 canonized version shared with the obituary of a 14 year old boy who saw God and Jesus and just happened to be printed in paper that Joseph Smith was the editor of a few months prior… 2

Could it be that JS was just retelling the angel Moroni story and it took on a life of its own? That would explain how up till nearly 1860 all the leaders of the church talked about was the story of the angel that visited Joseph, completely omitting the idea that God himself came down to get this ball rolling. Could each retelling be a fabrication rather than a recitation of events that happened? Maybe a one-up on other visions being talked about in the community so that Joseph was always the most prophetic?

That’s something you will have to decide for yourself. Maybe it really occurred and this messy history is the best God can do for his one true church. After all that’s what the apologists would have you believe.

Here and now though we can look closely at what we are being told by this new video. It’s obviously leaving out some pretty big details that I think would matter to anyone investing 10% of their income in buying the reality of this story.

One of the biggest IMO? They totally gloss over the part where God calls all other churches an abomination. Probably because these days God is more worried about offending people of other religions than he was back in 1838.


Is the first vision an important event that it warrants a lot of investigation on the part of those who would believe? I think so, after all these are things of eternal importance. So important that you should wait 12 – 20 years to write them down and nearly 40 years before you talk about it. Am I right?!!

I doubt this is the first historical mashup we will see as apologists take over the official narrative of church history. Gone are the days of clear obvious church statements. We are now in the world of mushy careful wording to support shelves heavily weighted with readily available facts. Obfuscating mashups are the new normal. Or to put it in terms of a Jedi to the weak minded… these are not the droids you are looking for… *waves hand*

 

 

  1.  Sometimes all you can afford to put into it is half a heart when it’s not your day job! 🙂
  2. Personally I think it’s very enlightening to read and compare the original first vision story written by Joseph himself to this obituary and to the official account in the Pearl of Great Price. Noting that it came out just months before the official account was dictated.

Loving a Beast is Normal 

Beauty and the Beast won’t get my money!! Disney, how could you ruin such a great story of implied beastiality with a sideline gay character!!!

Or at least that’s how the uproar over this latest appearance of homosexuality in a major production appears to me.

I mean sure the beast magically becomes human after the girl sees he’s really a good person on the inside, but doesn’t that same metaphor apply to seeing a gay person for who they are on the inside too?

The irony of this great example of cognitive dissonance in religion vs reality is about as high as I’ve ever seen it.

Next time someone goes off on Beauty and the Beast over the implications that being gay is ok, point out the homosexuality is implied no more than the beastiality was long before it made it to the big screen… Girls don’t fall in love with animals (beasts) every day you know!

Maybe the real point of this timeless tale is we should stop judging people by how they look… or the bodies they have! Seems like a good idea don’t you think ?

 

Putting God in a Box

The more time I spent discussing religion with the faithful, the more I see the box they put their particular God in.

I blame it on our human decency for the most part, with a dash of reason tossed into the mix. Let me explain.

Some people look at evolution and say, yep that happened. But still somewhere along the way God tweaked things just so and we’d all turn out like we did. You know, in his image and all.

Still others declare no! Evolution is bunk! The earth is 6000 years old and all that evolution science is baloney! Often times these two types of people even go to the same church.

But if you keep exploring enough you will find the edges of the box each person has put their God in. Somewhere you will find that the miraculous answer ‘God did it’ just isn’t the case. They will tell you without reservation what God really meant by very specific words in ancient texts rather than explain it in a miraculous way.

Because you see, the miracle would offend either that believers sense of decency, or their sense of reason and logic. So they box God in. They limit his power over their morality and reason.

It’s a good think too, because when you look around, the people that let their God run amuck with very few limits are the ones we call extremists. They start wars and kill doctors in the name of their God. Rather that impose personal morality on scripture by declaring that passage should not be taken literally… they take it literally.

I think we Fridgidarian’s should promote boxing God in with sound moral judgment and reason. So next time you hear your friend substitute their own moral values in place of scripture or prophetic decree. I say give them a high five for at least in this one instance, of thinking for themselves.


P.S. Do you think it is just coincidence that your Fridge comes in a box? Well now you know! 🙂

 

Angry Mormon Atheists Must Hate God

So recently I have been debating more than a few theists, Why? Because duh… I must be angry!1

I mean this Mormon religion must have not only pissed me off at the LDS church, clearly it caused me to hate God now as well. Why am I told I hate God? Because I just don’t believe in him. (Apparently the Fridge doesn’t count)

So I did a little research, and it seemed to me articles on this topic are far more common among the religious bloggers. They feel a need to explain why so few Mormons land in a different religion and simply embrace non-belief as the correct title for their religious views.

Given that lack of information available to others for my point of view. I figured I’d pen some of the reasons that led me to consider a Fridge God every bit as valid as say Jehovah, Zeus or Allah.

fool

1. Critical thinking is hard to turn off.
If you were a devout LDS person, like most post mormon atheists I know, you had to figure out how you were fooled into believing you knew it was ‘The-one-true-church-on-the-face-of-the-earth-in-the-name-of-jesus-christ-amen.’ This required critical thinking, it also required understanding of the cognitive failings us humans have and exactly how you could be caught in such an illusion. Ask any post mormon, and 90% plus can tell you what confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance are and how they affected their beliefs.

2. Revaluation of all your presumptions is normal.
When you realized that you were mistaken about something you were so sure about you naturally question the foundation of all things you take for granted. Fact is, culturally in the US where most of these post Mormons come from there is a major presumption that God is real. Particular the Christian version of God. When you hold up the same lens of critical evaluation to these presumptions they just don’t hold up.

3. If you were a devout Mormon you already believed in the apostasy of other religions.
You could see how other people could be tricked by their desires to believe. You just hadn’t ever applied it to yourself.

4. As an LDS faithful you were encouraged to seek learning.
Knowledge is essential to progression in the LDS faith. This leads to taking all scientific things off the shelf that your religion caused you to place there to keep believing. Many of these elements were biblically orient, creation, flood, evolution, age of the earth and so on. They directly conflicted with scientific knowledge as a faithful LDS. But you set them aside as ‘some day we will understand it all and how it all makes sense...’ Being untethered from a faith it allows you to examine others and see them full of all the same faults.

And apparently to the faithful (especially the non-LDS Christian ones) all this adds up to ‘hating god‘. But that makes so little sense. Did God fool me into believing in Mormonism? Thus making me ‘hate him’? Clearly not if you believe God only tells you the truth at all times.

I think the reason the term ‘hate’ is used is really simple. God is us. The voice of god you hear is you, and it always has been. Deep down subconsciously we all know this. Even as we profess otherwise. Think about it for a minute. If you dismiss the idea of God and saw you don’t believe he’s real. It’s like you are telling the believer you don’t think they are real. That would feel pretty hateful to them. Now take it a step further. If you were fooled by your own feelings into thinking a particular religion was true only to later find out it was false. You might be mad at yourself. And to the believer yourself is subconsciously ‘God’. If they put themselves in your shoes they would hate themselves for being fooled. Which when it hits their conscious awareness becomes ‘hating God’.

I personally would like to settle this for once and all. LDS people gone atheist don’t hate God. They don’t hate the easter bunny either. For a while we might be a tad upset with ourselves for being bamboozled, but it passes.  Once you realize how you were fooled, the way each of us psychologically creates our own personal deity becomes crystal clear.

If you lost your religion the way I did. By realizing they are all man made and figuring out how you fell for it. This is what leads to atheism. It’s not hate, but knowledge that does it. A better understanding of humanity, history and psychology leads to a coherent picture of religion and its effects on the world and people around you.

From that vantage point, it all looks made up. None of the typical Gods described by the vast majority of religions make any sort of sense, not even remotely when you analyze it. Then after some more study of the words agnostic and atheism you finally realize exactly what describes you best now that you aren’t constantly redefining words to make your ideology make sense.

 

Fridgism = Atheism, just with more jokes and a less cynical outlook on the value of faith and belief and how the mythologies of the world at large. At least thats how my personal truth fits it all together! 🙂

 

  1. This is sarcasm for those of you that are deficient in that blessing of the Fridge 😉

Where We Went

Where will you go? The question posed to LDS faithful this last general conference that has caught fire as a meme among the not so faithful. Last time I saw this type of response in the post Mormon world was the doubt your doubts quip that put this obscure blog on the map which I’m sure played no small part in it getting a Brodie Award.

A couple of years ago I would have listened to conference with bated breath and pounded out a response the next day to such blatant misinformation in the particular talk that spouted this idea.

But that’s just not the case anymore, and I think that’s relevant. Because I did go away. I left the faith. Sure it was hard not to look back for a long time. But it is getting easier and easier every day. 1


Turns out that a life without even a belief in God suits me. I feel free to use my own mind. I don’t need to check my conclusions against ‘revealed truth’ to make sure it fits because there is no such thing. All there is are human’s proposing human concepts, some of them right and some wrong.

These days I don’t even listen to conference, I blog less on the things wrong with the faith and more on how we can become better people. I still keep touch with my fellow Post-Mormon peeps though. You can’t just hang up a 5th generation Mormon hat, especially when you are the only heathen in your family not wearing it.

So perusing a few reddit posts in that effort led to this thought from the Fridge. I think Elder Ballard is asking the wrong question to the wrong people. I honestly think his reasons for leaving the church are all he understands. Let me explain.

We know for a fact that these men live in an isolated mecca far from the average person. They are briefed on what is happening in the world by self proclaimed ‘yes men.’ Guys who call themselves ‘church broke’ 2 due to their subservient nature.

Ponderizing this while reading TBM FB comments about the Zelph on the Shelf post I had an epiphany. These leaders don’t talk to apostates that have never returned to the fold!

I think they have only heard from people that left and returned, which is a very small subset of those that leave. Bear with me on this. Because I have also known people that quit attending church and then returned. And guess what….

Those guys do leave for the reasons stated by church leaders!

  • They feel offended by someone, run away, resolve it and come back.
  • They sin and feel guilty about it for years, not worthy of being in church. But one day they make a choice to return to welcoming, open arms.
  • They just aren’t good with the high levels of commitment the church requires and slack away at it until one day they stop being inactive and go back to the fold.
  • The never really understood the faith nor gained a testimony to begin with, but now they have one and returned.
  • They think they were deceived by lies but now feel they know the truth and have returned.

The common element? The people in these five categories all came back. If the only people you ever talk to about their experience in the church are people that go to church. You are missing out on a huge group of people that have left.  (well over two-thirds of convert baptisms!)

If your filter to the what is happening to the religion you guide is coming only from church-broke-yes-men and repentant faithful you will miss a huge part of the story. If you want to know what is happening and why tithing income and attendance numbers are falling across the board you are asking the wrong people ‘where will you go?’

You should be asking people that haven’t returned ‘where they went?’ Because they have gone lots and lots of places, some to nature, some to peaceful Sundays at home. Some went to coffee shops and some to other less judgmental faiths. Even a few went to their Fridge, opened the door and saw the light.

And the light said. “What do all these people have in common that have NOT returned to the fold?” They didn’t leave for any of the reasons above. They dug deep into the origins and realized this simple fact. The church isn’t true. They don’t believe it because of the overwhelming evidence that says its not anymore likely to be the one and only truth than every other faith Mormons themselves say only got it part right.

That’s why it’s a losing battle for the LDS faith in the long run. Like Zeus of a few thousand years ago. Elohim is doomed to be a quirky alien myth cooked up by an 18th century conman to sell a book. Not tomorrow or likely even centuries from now though, more like Millenia. 3 Religions have inertia and are gonna be around plenty long since our human appetite for emotional and spiritual experience isn’t dissipating anytime soon.

But if you really want to know what’s bleeding the church right now, don’t ask the faithful followers ‘where will you go?’ Ask the 34,0004 subscribers to exmormon reddit ‘where they went?’

 

 

  1. Of course the believer will tell you it’s my dulling spiritual senses that lead me to not care anymore. Funny how no matter what I do it proves them right isn’t it? If you can’t leave it alone, they are right because the prophets said so.  If you don’t care a whit about it. They are right because prophets said you are ‘past feeling’. Religion NEVER allows a test that could prove it wrong.  I think there might be a lesson in there somewhere:)
  2. Broke has the same meaning as when a horse is broken to be docile, ridden and guided by its master.
  3. See Jesus myth for comparison
  4. Seriously every time I look this number ticks up. Less than a month ago it was under 30k, if this were a religion it would be kicking ass in growth numbers right now! It reminds me of this clip.

We All Bleed The Same, Love vs Hate

Acceptance strikes a cord

Last night I had a chance to hear this song in person:

Acceptance… The message struck me at my core. It is exactly what I feel deep inside. It connects with me. I felt lucky to be there and experience it live. I also suffered many levels of irony which is how the Fridge touches me and inspires these posts. 😉

Levels of irony

The first level was the fact I wasn’t quite in my own skin at this event. I couldn’t be entirely myself, I couldn’t openly declare my lack of faith. Fear of the results of doing so kept me from taking that leap. I was me… just not entirely me if that makes any sense. Living in the Morridor of Utah, you take notice how people that aren’t of the main religion are treated. You see what opportunities are lost to those that would openly counter the faith’s views.

Irony hit me again as I did a little research on Alex Boye and found out like me he also has a Mormon background. Yeah I know you are wondering what rock I have been living under the last decade right? I’m sure I’d heard this, but not having him on my playlist till now I wasn’t sure if he was a member or not.

Love each other, stop the hate

I felt the next level of irony when I watched the video above the next morning. In it there are some really awesome concepts, loving not hating, and a clear message that he includes the LGBT community in that concept. It kind of made me wonder just how much of the LDS history and the current stance of the church he is aware of. A little more research turned up this video where Alex describes why he believes in the Mormon faith. The following bit of his talk stood out to me:

“being a member for me started out … a lot less about the facts, a lot less about what was in the scriptures, a lot less about what certain things meant, and certain books and the content. It was about the fact there were principles in it that could…keep my family name above board so to speak”

Cherry picking is ok

I have found I get along best with the faithful that don’t take every scripture to heart, that only care about the good stuff in the holy book. Good people have always cherry picked the best parts of the religion as a point of focus in my opinion. Often I discover that they don’t ever dig really deep in the history or the ‘facts’ as Alex puts it. I get that and have no issue with it. From the believing perspective they have a tool to improve their lives. From my point of view I see a person that would be good, kind and just even without a religion to follow. To me their faith is like dumbo’s feather, a talisman of zero actual merit and yet somehow containing the power to focus works, beliefs and efforts on good things.

This concept has often been a topic of Fridgy goodness and is close to my heart. I think that’s why his song resonated deeply with me. In the past I would have called it a spiritual witness as I sat there pondering why I feared being openly apostate amongst my fellow men. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel accepted when scriptures decry the non-believer as the anti-christ. Like in the case of Korihor worthy of imprisonment without cause eventually leading to his death by trampling of those that pity him.

The final irony

Alex’s video implies the importance of accepting gay people that in my believing days I thought were damaging families with their desire to marry the one that they loved. Something that today I see as their right to be protected. I simply can’t imagine a loving father who would deny them that right in this life or the next.  I just don’t believe a decent God would inspire policies excluding LGBT people. Not when he is the one making them that way!

For me the final irony struck as I pontificated on this post. It’s how this very religion that is loved so dearly by such a prominent member not that long ago would have denied him and his wife the right to an eternal life. Why? Well for the same reason that they deny those who are LGBT the same right today. Because God said so:

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” -Brigham Young

 
I hope that one day I will have more courage to be myself, especially my apostate self amongst family, coworkers and friends. We need people like Alex to inspire us to accept each other. People like Jane Manning who buck the status quo, and instead pressing forward, leading against divisive dogma that seems to insidiously insert itself into our politics and faith at every turn.

Calling attention to something wrong isn’t hate

I truly believe in love not hate. I feel lots of love towards Mormons, they are still my people even though I no longer believe. It is part of my history that becoming LDS meant following a different path than all the rest. If only I could help those that feel like I’m hating on the church as I leave it realize isn’t the case at all. To me, I am loving the underdog that is getting the short end of the stick. Kind of like how past LDS people like Dr Lowery Nelson were speaking up and saying this is wrong. We are better than this. 

Love wins

Just look at it this way. If being black and preventing your marriage to a white person so many years ago was just a prophetic screw up. Isn’t is possible that here and now the same mistake is going on right before our eyes? Could not questioning these revelations now rather than decades later prevent some of these LGBT teen suicides? This is a faith that dictates a persons worth. I think is it reasonable to doubt if that faith leads to death. Please accept that. I honestly don’t mind if you know the facts and still believe. I really don’t, it is fine by me. My only desire in exposing them is to give everyone the opportunity to know and chose with full disclosure.

Because, well because I never got that chance and somewhere out there someone is hurting, believing they aren’t good enough for the celestial kingdom and considering drastic measures. I think they have the right to consider all the facts before believing in a father in heaven that would make them Gay and then deny them being with the person they love.

I desire you know one thing though. Believer or not gay or straight, we shall sup together and care for one another. I believe that truth needs no religion to make it worth doing. Or the words that pricked my heart last night:

 

I’m so glad that we are different

Nobody can be like you

To thy own self be true

Just be yourself

Don’t be afraid

Just come as you are

love each other, stop the hate