Stealing Your Self Worth, The Psychology Of Obedience

So this morning I was talking to my wife about religious beliefs, the conversation started because I asked her if she felt persecuted because I make fun of religion and religious beliefs and even though she realized the Mormon church couldn’t possibly be the only true one, she still believes in God. And when it comes to a divine plan I do tend to make light of it. In case you hadn’t noticed this whole blog is kinda devoted to mocking the idea of a supreme leader.

You see I was debating the existence of God with a family member on FB and she asked me if I similarly mocked my wife’s beliefs in God. The fact is I often point out the illogical baloney that makes belief in an all powerful all loving deity so easy to make fun of.1  I do this in front of my wife, just as much as anyone. Actually I am more restrained with my family that still believes in the LDS faith than I am with her when I think about it. We never discuss the problems with the church in person. With my wife we discuss all this stuff, and much more.

So this morning I asked my wife how she felt when I would make fun of stuff like a father in heaven that prioritizes prayers to find lost keys over the desperate pleadings of starving kids in Africa. She said she really isn’t offended by what anyone else says at all, she realized everyone believes different things. I mentioned that the whole idea that you need to respect beliefs (which was the thrust of the comments my sis was making that instigated this conversation) just because people believe them seems ridiculous to me.

This is when my wife as she so often does, said something cogent and enlightening. She said, “She’s just super defensive. How can she not be. It’s one of the reasons she feels value.”  My wife’s statement was so true I realized, the social order of the LDS religion demands perfection, “be ye therefor perfect” is the end goal. Sure it pretends to cut you some slack with all the forgiveness talk, but in reality it hangs all your personal value on doing exactly what the religion says too.

In short, it steals your self confidence and ransoms it back to you for your obedience. Your worth to God depends primarily on how good you obey the leaders here and now. 2

No wonder people take so much offense when you view their beliefs as silly, especially when you layout the examples of how crazy it all sounds. “Stop saying that!” Is the cry, “you are being mean to me! I get to believe what I want and you shouldn’t ever make it look bad or silly or wrong if you are a nice person.” This leaves me personally flabbergasted because I swear these people don’t even read their own scriptures.

“…the Personage [God the father] who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” JSH 1:19

“Are you telling me that the guy you worship is not a nice person?” I have to ask myself. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. Not logically that is. Emotionally however it is another matter to the person that really believes it. You see a true believer is deeply invested. Just for a moment think about the investment a person that has been LDS for 40 years has made. We are talking about 6 figures in tithing or more. 2000+ days of church attendance, thousands of hours of home teaching, doing callings and all sorts of stuff. This is not a small effort on their part, not in the least. No wonder they want respect, they have put a lot into it. Doesn’t actually matter at all if it is true or not when it comes to this emotional connection.

They were obedient, they did everything they were told to do! They deserve to be happy now and if you point out the bamboozle you are raining on that parade.

 

 

 

The psychology at work here is known as the sunk cost fallacy. It basically states the more you put into something the harder it is to abandon it. Basically the same reason it is hard to stop playing clash of clans.

 

So next time you feel like a believer treated you like this:


Realize that they are not at all thinking logically or rationally. It is emotion that is driving them. And one thing the Fridge teaches us all is that emotion often overpowers reason. In this case the emotion is fear, the believer is afraid of losing that which they have worked so hard for. That doesn’t make emotion in and of itself bad though. Fear is a life saving mechanism that has done a good job of keeping us around for quite a while. Fear is only a problem when it keeps you from engaging in reason. But you can’t appeal to reason when it comes to such a deep emotion. You can however appeal to another emotion that believers are also familiar with. Make sure they know you honestly have their best interests in mind. Offer faith, ask them to have a little faith in you as a friend or a loved one.

You might just help another person open the door and see the light of the Fridge.

  1. Is this why God insists he must not be mocked? Because it is so easy to do?
  2. Don’t believe me? Go look at how many hits you get searching for it here. Obedience is even more important than truth. And they have a rule that is so important that you swear it as an oath in the temple. Never think your leaders are wrong, ok you can think they are wrong but never ever ever talk about it. To be totally open though you also promise to not laugh out loud so maybe that whole not speaking bad about the leaders should not be taken so seriously…

Remember To Have Tolerance And Love For Our Mormon Neighbors

I just read this announcement from the LDS church in regards to the gay marriage stuff. I’d been thinking about an appropriate response when I stumbled onto this nearly perfectly made point on social media.1 The Fridge works in mysterious ways and we are often inspired unexpectedly so enjoy the light of the open door and feast on the sustenance therein:2

I just need to clear something up. I don’t hate Mormons nor am I bigoted. I love all living creatures and believe that Mormons should be treated with kindness and compassion. I do not support violence against Mormons or discrimination of any kind. However, I also believe in science and as such I cannot support Mormons’ “rights” to marry and raise children. Science has shown us that this is detrimental to both the children involved and society at large and I cannot pick and choose which scientific evidence to believe.

Science has shown us that Mormon children are much more likely than average to be depressed in their lifetime. Utah boasts the highest suicide rate in the nation among 18-24 year old men and has one of the highest rates of overall depression. LGBT youth raised in Mormon homes tend to fare especially poorly and often bear lifelong psychological scars. Also, girls raised in Mormon homes are far less likely to complete college or achieve financial independence than their non-Mormon counterparts.

Conversely, there is empirical evidence that other demographic groups tend to raise children who fare better than average- same sex couples, secularists, Asians, etc. Because I support science, I believe that such groups are the only people who should be permitted to parent in America.

Plus there’s the fact that the Mormon temple ceremony is degrading to women and that the sealing was created with the specific purpose of propagating polygamy, polyandry, and even child marriage for Mormon church leaders. Pioneer journals show us that these marriages were often coerced and that the girls and women who entered them suffered horribly. While Mormons are not currently advocating for the reinstatement of these practices, by allowing Mormon marriages, we are embarking on a slippery slope that opens the door to this possibility. How can we in good conscience allow this?

Again, I have absolutely nothing against Mormons and am not judging them for their lifestyle. I understand that many of them were born into their faith and did not totally choose it. And I am very accepting of Mormons provided they commit to lifelong celibacy as that is the only way to guarantee they will not reproduce. There’s nothing hateful or bigoted about supporting what science has declared is best for society.

SmithNauvoo marriage

  1. Sarcasmness is next to godliness, thus saith the Fridge
  2. Shared with permission and desired anonymity. I added the links and did a little formatting is all.

What Jesus Said

If you follow my blog, you know that I often am inspired by a certain Mr. Trimble to respond to the stuff he posts. “Why?” You ask. Because I know for a fact my parents and many members of my previous faith1 hang on every word he types. They love him. He is a decent writer and he writes a very pro Mormon, pro religion blog. I dare bet that my own mother once thought, even hoped, I’d gone the same route with my writing. Alas, I did not and here’s why. I am addicted to truth. Honesty, truth, no matter how painful, is a thing to strive for. Truth even if, especially if, it is not what you want to hear is exactly what you need to hear.

Here is the thing I have found about writing what I do: Telling people what they don’t want to hear is not very popular. Often times this blog touches on truths about the Mormon religion that most Mormons do not want to hear. That means it doesn’t get a lot of believer traffic. And as in any society, those who initially buck the status quo are far less popular than those who accept it. At least until the first followers show up and a movement is born.

It is a repeated pattern in human history that a few speak out, stand up and say, “What we have now is not good enough.” All while the masses point and laugh and say they are silly until others see what they are doing and join in. Eventually leaving the few sitting on the grass too afraid to dance, complaining how terrible it all is and how wonderful the good old days were.

Such is the case with the gay marriage movement. A couple of decades ago the rainbow flag was just a silly meaningless voice among millions. Today a majority of Americans realize the issue is no different than that of interracial marriage a few decades ago and deserves the same acceptance for the same reasons. If my Facebook feed is any indication, that rainbow has gone from a symbol of a few to the sign of support by many. And that leads me to Mr. Trimble. You see, I saw a post of his pop up in a feed and I had to read it. Here is the link:

http://www.gregtrimble.com/quit-acting-like-christ-was-accepting-of-everyone-and-everything/

It caught my eye because of the title. It is actually a point I agree with. We don’t agree very often as you can see here, here and here. I even just realized that I have talked about the opening line in this specific article once before. So I got sucked in by the title again and reread it. (I really hope my title is just as catchy!)

The main premise is that you don’t get to pick and choose from what is in the bible. Like Greg says:

“Too often we read a few scriptures that make us feel good and then omit everything else that we know about Jesus that might make us feel bad.”

He quotes Isaiah 30:10, “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things,” as a sign that people don’t want to hear the hard truths. He’s right about that. I agree with him. My question for Greg, though, is this: “Why did you stop there?” You complain that people pick and choose what they want from the bible and other scriptures only taking note of the ones they like and tossing aside the rest. And then you proceed to do the same thing! There are dozens, if not hundreds, of scriptures that you completely ignore every day of your life.  I haven’t met a single religious person who doesn’t do the same. Not one.

Let’s just cite a few of these scriptures for the record:

Matt. 12:32, 
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

No forgiveness ever? Because you didn’t trust your feelings?

Luke 14:26, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

You must hate your family to follow him? Seriously? Why ignore that teaching? Why take that ‘metaphorically’ and then try to say the few things written about gays should be taken literally. Think about that! One other point that I would like to make (since Trimble and I come from the same religious backdrop) is that Mormons believe Jesus is the same person as Jehovah. Yep, the Old Testament God. So it is only right that we should include some of those things Greg says we ‘omit’ because they make us feel bad.

Jeremiah 11:22-23: Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine and there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.

Jesus kills people when he doesn’t like them.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

If you put your money where your mouth is Greg you should be out killing gay people to follow your Lord, not just whining about it on a blog post.

Exodus 21:15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

If you take a swing at your dad? Yep, Jesus wants you dead.

The list of crazy commandments in the bible goes on and on. In fact, you find these despicable commands in all scriptures of all faiths. Every single decent believer I know ignores the crappy stuff in the Bible. They wouldn’t strap their kid on an alter to kill him because they thought God told them to. They would doubt and question that voice in their head.

So to get on a high horse and point out that Jesus wasn’t always a nice guy and we should do everything he said is, in short, very hypocritical of any Bible-believing person. The Bible is chock full of commands that you already ignore. So when you lecture for 20 minutes on why slavery was just a sociopolitical economic situation of the culture and times as a reason the Bible condoned it, but then 10 seconds later use that Leviticus bullshit on killing gay people as something that should be taken literally as a denouncement of homosexuals… I hope you will excuse me for getting the impression you have an issue with critical thinking.

The last thing I’d like to point out is in the end of this article Trimble is speaking very ‘smooth things’ to the average Mormon. They have been raised with a persecution complex about how the whole world is against them and only they will stand for goodness. It is pandering of the highest order.2 The reality is most of the world finds Mormons a silly bunch because they believe in a guy who said he found some plates, translated them and then ‘God took them back so they couldn’t be checked.’ The way the world sees Mormons is pretty close to South Park’s take on it.

To understand that hard truth even more. The founder of Mormonism not only claimed to translate disappearing gold plates by looking at a stone in a hat, he also claimed to translate Egyptian papyri. Like the gold plates, the papyri also disappeared, but unfortunately for Mormonism’s claims, it later turned up and can now be checked against Joseph Smith’s “translation.” Which turned out to be complete bunk! That’s right, we have clear proof that the man who claimed he could translate ancient records was making shit up. That is the hard truth. No matter how smoothly you coat it with ideas that the word “translate” doesn’t mean translate. If you check the facts, it is overwhelmingly a bullshit story. Don’t take my word for it. Do your own investigation. Put on the same skeptical hat you would about Muhammed or the claims of Warren Jeff’s and see if you buy the idea that God gave a guy a book made of gold, which he never actually looked at to translate (looked in a hat instead) then took the book away so his skills could never be tested. He started a fraudulent bank that milked his investors out of life savings. He started preaching a ‘celestial’ marriage that forced other men to give him their wives and daughters as his own wives who “afforded him much pleasure.” He put the church he started into huge debt for his own benefit, and then translated some old common funeral papyri into the Book of Abraham leaving us proof that he was good at making shit up. That is the hard truth that Greg’s audience doesn’t want to hear. It is the same truth that makes my blog so unpopular among LDS people that cling more to the way they want things to be than searching for the way things really are.

So I agree with Greg, a person who picks and chooses his ‘truth’ is not a person in search of truth. It is a person who just wants her bias confirmed. If you want real truth, painful, honest, veracity, the first thing you need to do is look at what you are biased to believe and make the effort to overcome that bias. Then evaluate the facts with the same skepticism you reserve for any other bullshit story you come across. Or, as Jesus said:

“You wouldn’t buy the same bullshit story if it were sold to you from a different religion, so why do you buy it when you are selling it to yourself?”

honest man

 

 

  1. These days I trust the Fridge, it never lets me down! 🙂
  2. don’t forget I was one of these Mormons being pandered to like this once; I do have a clue as to how smooth these words sound to a true believer.

Dear Believer, Please Fight the Urge to Shun and Manipulate Your Loved Ones!

An icicle of the Fridge recently posted the following in a private group:

Woke up this morning, just after 9am. 
Noticed the door was closed. It’s never closed. 

Get up and start to walk down stairs, it’s super quiet. Surely the kids have planned something for me for Father’s Day. 

Get down stairs and no one. Look throughout the house, no one. No breakfasts, no cards, no notes, no kids.

They’re at church. Happy Father’s Day.
I’m not sure I should be hurt, but I am.
Church has taken my kids away from me over Father’s Day.

I am sharing this experince anonymously with permission because there is a huge misunderstanding amongst believers about the best way to deal with a situation where one parent doesn’t believe and one does. He followed up with this:

Apparently my parents went to church with [wife] too.

I sent [wife] a text and my dad replied with this: 


“You going to come to sacrament meeting after the sacrament
1 to hear your kids sing to you?  
We are in primary with [your son] right now and they are practicing their song to their dads.  
The song leader just asked if they were excited to sing to their dads and [your son] excitedly raised his arm. 
If you don’t come I’m sure that’s fine. Just thought you should know.”

Having been in leadership positions and having gone to ward councils I have participated in those meetings where you are really concerned about the spiritual well-being of an inactive or apostate. One who, from your perspective, has lost the light of the gospel. That is how I completely understand that this type of behavior has good intentions. You don’t mean it to be as hurtful as it is.

shun meme
You are repeatedly taught that if you do what the church says first and foremost all the rest of your family will be fine and things will fall into place. You should know that this scenario has played out in more than one place and in more than one religion where one spouse has experienced a change in what they believe about their past faith. My particular experience was with the Mormon faith and I know exactly how the above situation makes a freshly-minted apostate feel. It makes you feel terrible. It drives a wedge into your family relationship that can take a long, long time to overcome. I’d like you, dear believing spouse, to try and put yourself in our shoes for a moment. Imagine if you, on Mothers Day, had been ignored because you were Mormon and the rest of the family decided to go to a different church, or to a matinee and then sent you texts about how much they wished you were there with them while you sat alone in sacrament meeting…

Would you feel manipulated? Would you feel shunned? Or would you feel inspired to leave the church and go be with your family? Think about that. Please really think about that, because I believe you can have a little empathy in this situation and realize it will not inspire this person to come to church to feel the spirit and come back any more than it would inspire you to convert to Islam.

I know that you have been taught otherwise. I know that because as an Elders quorum president I believed all that a lost soul needed was to ‘feel the spirit’ just one good time and they would come back. Having been on the other side of that fence now, such an outcome is not often the case. To put it bluntly, being treated like this will actually cause us “poor lost souls” to see the religion as something you love more than us. From your perspective you will think our hearts are even more hardened because to us this feels like manipulation. And no one likes to be manipulated. Would you like it? Would it make you angry and hard-hearted towards the institution you felt was causing the manipulation?

Please, please remember what your leaders have said about shunning:

Don’t do it. Don’t shun us and try to get us to some other place to feel your love by denying it where it should still exist, right in our own homes.

Please apply the golden rule and treat us as you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. If you truly put yourself in our shoes by imagining yourself alone in the same situation, I really think you will begin to understand how this makes a person feel. This is a situation that can be difficult or it can bring us together. I firmly believe a little empathy can go a long way to it bringing us together instead of pushing us apart as we deal with our differences.

  1. I just noticed the invite clearly made sure this horrible apostate didn’t come to partake of the ritual of sacrament, got to keep the unworthy away from the good stuff I suppose… :/ I have felt the sting of being specifically uninvited and it hurts, it hurts bad. I hope in all that is chill you can just for a moment realize how much.

Winning The War Against Unreason

house

 

An unbelievably common refrain that I run into debating religious people that are otherwise reasonable, well read and well spoken individuals is the idea they are somehow too dumb to understand God’s reasoning.

I have debated Mormon friends1 on the topic of polyandry and underage marriage. An issue that was recently admitted to by the LDS church itself in an effort to own up to its history. 2 This makes it impossible for the believer to dismiss the topic as ‘anti-mormon’ lies like was done in the past. Most feel their stomach churn at the thought of these issues, much the same way the escapades of Warren Jeffs disgust them. But they deeply believe that old Joe was called of God to do what he did so they have to justify it somehow. That’s when you hear the phrases, ‘I just have faith’ and ‘who am I to question God?’ or the one that inspired this article. ‘God must have a reason that I am not mentally equipped to understand.’

Religious dogma repeatedly teaches the believer this idea they are too stupid to understand the ways of deity. The very act of faith so celebrated in all belief systems requires a suspension of critical thinking. Reason is mocked when it questions the tenets of faith. You are taught to cling to your spiritual evidences no matter what. That is where this I’m too stupid idea comes from. It is an outward expression of the cognitive dissonance that the believer is feeling.

The rational truth seeker will get really frustrated pushing for understanding past this point. That’s because the believer has outwardly renounced reason to keep the faith. This is where you need to remember one simple premise. You can’t reason a person out of an emotional conviction…without using emotion.

Ever try to convince a Chevy advocate that Ford is better? Or an Apple fanboy that a PC is the better deal? It’s pretty hard to do. Because they are emotionally attached to their brand favorite. Often times it is hard for us who have trained ourselves to recognize and ignore the effects of emotional bias to deal with it in others. An example of our own bias about biases :).

So how do you win the war against unreason? Emotion. The secret is to evoke emotion. Only by flooding those cognitive connections in a soup of hormones, do you open up the opportunity for them to change. Use all the emotions at your disposal, humor, love, sincerity, and even anger. You should willingly express these emotions yourself and give your friends mirror neurons a chance to fire and feel the way you feel. If this sounds kind of like a religious meeting where people testify of their faith and others feel spiritually connectedness, it should. That is exactly what you should be going for! Finding common ground, connecting with that other human being emotionally is key before moving on to giving them the alternate more rational explanation you are endeavoring them to learn.

Religions have all stumbled onto this formula of emotional conviction to a cause. They are so good at it that they can convince people they are idiots when compared to the dogma they are preaching. What if we could harness that same sense of conviction to help people realize they are not the idiots their religion would have them be, but instead that they are brilliant and capable free thinkers that can reason and develop moral convictions even to the point they can challenge the scary God of their youth. Most people I know would balk at the despicable acts of deity documented in every tome of scripture dogma from every type of faith. Most people are inherently more MORAL3 beings than the very God they worship. If only they could realize this!

If only the religiously devote could redirect that devotion to the here and now rather than the untestable eternities offered up in exchange for a few $$ and a dream of hope after you die. Imagine for a moment a world where that devotion is directed wholeheartedly to solving the problems of today rather than proving their faith is the right one that every other person should follow.

I think it can be done. I hope it can happen. And I’m pretty sure it will take a little more than just a reasonable argument to make it reality. So next time you are doing your damnedest to extol the virtues of a rational approach in your worldview, make sure you dwell on the positives of it! Take the effort to emotionally convert her to your perspective. You will have much greater success in my opinion. But who knows, I just may be too stupid to understand the ways of the Fridge.

 

 

 

  1. admittedly I debate them more than any other being a former Mormon myself
  2. Thanks to the internet bringing historical information right to your fingertips and pretty much pressing the issue.
  3. How many believers do you know that if they were God would ever ask a father to kill his son as a sign of loyalty? Yet both Muslim and Christian religions believe father Abraham was required to do exactly that! The God of Abraham is a mob boss, not a nice guy!

Farewell to a Once Grateful Nation

In the spring of 2014 as I slept, the light of the noonday sun filled my room and I awoke to the shining face of Ángel Coronai gesturing through the window.

Following him to the backyard, I was led between the trees where he was laying new cable, and he revealed to me a stone box in the ground. Inside were many strange objects including a book of ancient workmanship.

BOB_Golden_Plates_in_stone_box_2

Breaking the seal revealed a set of golden plates engraved with squiggly characters, which I believe are a kind of Reformed Gypsum. And as I pondered these things, my Corona passed over the characters, and they miraculously resolved into words.

I quickly drank another and taped the bottles together. And by means of these goggles, the following story was revealed … the final chapter in the history of an ancient civilization.

_______________________________

And it came to pass that I, Boloni, High Priest of the Neophites, was greatly aggrieved. For of the many plates of gold which my brother, the General Moron, gave to me as a record of my people, few now remain.

For being desirous of adornment, the princess Leahona took of the plates of gold and fashioned a plain and precious necklace, and also a tiara, and matching bracelets and earrings, and a belly chain, and many other delightsome and ingenious ornaments that are beautiful to behold.

And though I am sorely desirous of her beauty in her many adornments, and wish greatly to provide her with more, I have sent her into hiding with General Moron, and I must needs lay my stylus down and flee also for my life.

For behold, the Neophites, my once grateful people, have brought war and rebellion to the palace gates. And they are wroth with me, for I have taken the tithes and offerings required for temple worship, and brought merchants to the creek and visitors to the square. And all this I have done to increase the strength of the church and my store of precious things.

And the people say I have strayed from holy matters, and demand an accounting of the tithes I have collected, and the return of their gold and their bili-bíribongs and kilikili-kilí-kis and other precious things, and wages for their unpaid service, and restitution for their sufferings.

And their anger has soured them as the Lemonites of old, and therefore I rename my people Lemonites. And though the true Lemonites of my generation are sweet and peaceful, yet they have refused me sanctuary. And therefore, I curse them all together with ignominy.

BoloniBidsFarewell_2a

And not one senine shall my people receive to reward their selfishness and pride, after such great gifts as I have already given them; to wit, the sweat of their brow and relief from the temptations of the fruits of their labor.

And thus, war lies now heavy upon the land, and the city burns. And even mine own armies do rebel against me, excepting only the Sons of Shelaman, who remain at my side.

And behold, the palace door is broken, and I lay my stylus down and depart to preserve my life and secure my treasures in the earth, even the remaining leaves of gold and the princess’s shapely breastplate and her jeweled eyepiece.

And there they shall remain, until this war is done, and I return to my sweet princess Leahona, and lay these lovely adornments upon her. And I earnestly pray that this may soon come to pass.

And thus I, Boloni, seal this record as a testimony against my lost and fallen people, there to remain until I return, or a peepstone discover it, or the world end. Amen.