The Context of Doubt

I just got done reading the latest effort by the LDS faith to get people to doubt their doubts. It’s titled Overcoming the Danger of Doubt and comes from Elder Hugo Montoya. I don’t know if it was the Fridge inspiring me, but I kept hearing this line from Princess Bride as I read it.

Doubt is certainly the thing religions fear most. In fact you pretty much have to doubt you are in the right religion to convert to another one. I know as a missionary for the church I saw more than 100 people doubt their previous faith enough to be baptized into the Mormon one. I only realize that in hindsight now though. At the time I was 100% sure I had the truth that I was offering to them. Never once did I think that doubt was something to be feared. After all truth doesn’t fear doubt right?

In this article I noticed that as usual there are personal stories that illustrate the principle. In this case how you ‘shouldn’t doubt.’ But aren’t those kind of stories in all religions? If a scientologist gets help from sea org, does that really mean you should not doubt the commitment you made to scientology?

Doubt is a wonderful thing, it’s not dangerous at all. But it is scary. Truth doesn’t fear doubt, but humans do. I was afraid to doubt my faith because of the ramifications if those doubts were realized. To me it meant a loss of hope, a loss of community and potentially the loss of family. But I found new ways to hope and new communities to belong to. My family didn’t survive the faith crisis without scars though. It could have been better but it also could have been much worse. I count myself lucky for the most part.

So yeah, to be totally honest, doubts can cause some pain if realized. But they also serve a useful purpose. If you are investing with Bernie Madolf and you hear a story about him that causes you to doubt. Clealry in that case checking out that doubt is a good thing and it could prevent you from further losses. But do you think that you might feel some pain discovering you were bamboozled? I think so. That isn’t the fault of the doubter though right?

I think it’s having your doubts confirmed that hurt the most. How much, depends on how deeply you held the belief that crumbled under the spotlight of doubt. Especially when the community you doubt is legit helped you in a time of need like Elder Montoya. But I don’t think that means he should call anyone or anything that causes doubt ‘dangerous.’ It’s too easy to get the impression that the natural fear that comes with doubt is a sign. It’s too easy to blame the doubter for simply questioning. And far, far too often it drives a wedge between families that believe and those that don’t, just because they doubt. This whole Ensign article1 is filled with manipulation based on fear. I’d sum it up like this.

Hello, my name is Hugo Montoya, you doubted my religion… prepare to die.

 

 

  1. Warning! easter egg, not intended to be read as part of this post 🙂

    Ok so I wanted to talk more about context since one of the claims in the article was about how important context is. But the ending just flowed and I really liked it. So if you are still reading, enjoy this easter egg.

    Context IS important, I’d like to see church apologetics use legit context! But typically what you get is careful wording. Like when they say a girl was ‘almost 15’ to make the context of a 14 year old marrying a 37 year old under threat of eternal damnation more palatable.

    My suggestion? If you want to know the context. Don’t count on anyone else to give it to you. Go find the history and read it yourself. The essay admitting the polygamy of Joe Smith endeavors to say the 14 year old marriages were legal. Um well sorta, it was legal to marry a 14 year old, but it wasn’t legal to marry two of them, which he in fact did… to put in context.

    Context does matter, but don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself.

If Polygamy Was Normal, Why Lie About It?

One apologetic response you are guaranteed to get if you bring up Joseph Smith’s polygamy and the 14 year old girls1 he wed is this idea that getting married at that age was normal for the time. I get that this is very commonly taught in the hallways of church as a way to help members shelve their doubts and just keep on believing. But was it really normal?

This justification even made it into the hard to find LDS essay on the topic that seemed to be very carefully worded in an effort to keep people in the boat after finding all this stuff out. After all it did mention that getting married at ‘almost 15’ years old wasn’t illegal at the time. But that really isn’t the whole story is it? Helen Mar honestly wasn’t keen at all on the idea of marring a 37 year old guy as his 20th plus bride. But that alone doesn’t make it abnormal nor illegal. I mean sure a girl could legally get married at age 14, but it it turns out it was in fact completely illegal to do it as a polygamous bride. 2

Which is probably why Joe the prophet lied about it to over 300 recent converts that had just showed up in town and heard the rumors of polygamy that would soon make the first and only printing of the Nauvoo Expositor’s paper. Only printing because surprise, surprise the press would soon be ordered destroyed as a public nuisance by the Mayor of Nauvoo, also known as Joseph Smith, self proclaimed prophet of God.

Don’t believe me? Go read about it for yourself in the LDS history books here.3 The prophet clearly indicated he had only one wife to this group of saints and carefully worded it might be it, was as least as deceitful as Bill Clinton’s claim he didn’t have sexual intercourse with Monica.

 

So even if you ignore census evidence that shows this age of marriage wasn’t at all normal. The most obvious and least asked question in this profet’s opinion is simply this:

If it was normal for the time and place for a 37 year old man to wed a 14 year old girl…. Then why did Joseph lie about it?

  1. Yes there was more than one! Google it if you need to find out more!
  2. Sneaky how they used the word illegal to imply it was normal for the time wasn’t it?
  3. For more on the destroying the press you can start here and then do some googling on your own. See if you can discover how that act led directly to his arrest and incarceration before he was killed.

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.

Abraham Was A Coward

The worlds two biggest religions celebrate the faith of the same man. A guy named Abraham. 

Abraham was so faithful that he took his own son strapped him to an altar and plunged a knife toward his chest.  

Now the believers will tell you no harm was done because an angel stopped Abraham before it was too late. 

  
I kind of doubt this is true because I can’t imagine that the kid didn’t feel traumatized after such an event, but even then. So what? 

So what if God stopped him before it was too late? How does that make what Abraham did ok?

Let’s put this story in another context to see what I mean. Suppose a powerful leader demands a person kill his kid as a sign of faith in thier leadership. Go ahead, pick one. Hitler? Obama? Al Capone? Is a faithful submission to such a demand ok in that case?

The God of Abraham is presumably a really powerful person and can kill others pretty easily.  So why does he need someone else to do it for him? And why celebrate that act as something only the most faithful person would do? Why make that a model to strive for? 

I think religion f%#ks up a person’s sense of morality and the story of Abraham is a prime example. In any other setting Abraham would be considered a coward. A man too chicken to do what is right. To concerned with saving his own eternal skin to consider the morality of tying his own son to a rock and attempting to kill him. 

This is a guy trying to ‘win favor’ with the mob boss by any means necessary. But religions call it ‘faith’ and celebrate it. The more I contemplate this the more I think deep down the religious are cowards. They seek out the biggest wolf in the pack and fight others in his name and for his protection.  

We see this all the time in the animal kingdom. I have a couple of pet dogs that are more than willing to take on others for the protection and home I give them. Given mammals share a lot of DNA I can understand the genetics that reinforce this behavior in humanity.  

But isn’t being human about going beyond our animal instincts? Shouldn’t we celebrate standing up to oppression rather that accepting it? 

I think it’s high time we celebrated people like Jack Harper more than cowards like Abraham. 

In short, we should do what is right and let the consequence follow. Even if you fear the consequence is eternal damnation. True courage is doing what is right even when you have everything to lose. 

  

The Shame of Being Good Looking

Elder Bendar of my old faith recently helped me realize why I have struggled so much with the LDS faith. He pointed out the difficulties of homosexual members that don’t actually exist in the church and compared them to something I immediately connected with. The difficulties of being ridiculously good looking! In case you missed it. This is what he said:

“Would it be a challenge to be very beautiful or very handsome, and in the world in which we live, never develop deep character because we are able to open doors and have success just because of our physical appearance? And we become shallow and superficial in many aspects of our lives.”

Knowing that my good looks have made it hard for me to look myself in the mirror every morning has really helped me a lot. I can get up now and feel completely accepted by those lucky plain people by knowing just like those with same sex attraction that I too have a place in the church!

Today I realized that just like people with different color skin, that my beautiful face doesn’t define me. In the way LDS black people of old weren’t really born that way but given a trial to overcome as they endevored to make their skins white. I only need to make continuous effort each day to overcome my tendancy to be so good looking.  

I now know if I simply endure this inborn attractiveness to the end and strive to be plain and unbecoming that I too can be worthy of all God has to offer! 

This is such a comforting thought. It reminds me of when I was young and jealous of the burden my Lamanite brethren had to bear and how prophets promised them they would be blessed for their trials:

“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised (2 Ne. 30:6). In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.”

The prophet Kimball was so right! There were no ‘black’ people in the church! Only various shades of God’s children striving to be white!!

The truth that those that are gay will one day be made straight as modern day prophets like Bednar have so recently promised gives me hope that this difficult curse of handsomeness I have been blessed to bear in this life will be eventually removed as I find my place amongst God’s homely chosen ones. 

Thank Fridge.

  

The God in You

When your faith fails in light of evidence or lack thereof. You might wonder how all those years you believed, God seemed to be there for you.  He always knew your fears, he always shared your innermost thoughts and feelings.  You might even have secretly believed God was a she because she knew you so well.

The best explanation for it when you conclude there is zero evidence for God is this. God was in your head all along. You made him up to help you and like a childhood imaginary friend it worked. You searched and cried and pleaded and ultimately you answered your own prayers.

The most liberating realization post belief is this: The divine you needed was in you all along. You have the ability to save you! Knowing that also means you know it’s up to us to make the world a better place cause God sure ain’t gonna do it. – Thus saith the Fridge


“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” ~ Douglas Adams