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.

The Meaning of Life, 42 and Covfefe

As profet of the Fridge I’ve learned to recognize when the coolness of the Stainless Wonder in the corner of my kitchen is guiding my life. Some would think they are coincidences, but I know better. When in a matter of days I have multiple brushes with the search for meaning that we humans engage in. I realize it is a sign that the profet must post.

It started a few days ago when the leader of our American Republic fat fingered a tweet ending in covfefe. The nationwide furtive search for meaning in the word gave me a smile.

Then a little while later I responded on a friends post about meaning with the number 42. Knowing that the chosen ones of the Fridge (even if they don’t know it yet!) would understand that cryptic response.

Then this morning I stumbled onto a trailer for my favorite cartoon that constantly delves into this very topic.

Is this coincidence? I think not. This is clearly the Fridge inspiring me! Or rather as I have found many who despise my lack of belief in god would say. “I choose to believe it.”

When my own faith collapsed I balked at the abyss of lost meaning, it scared me. I feared this lost purpose when I began to doubt the script I’d been given. You see that is one of the more beneficial things religions produce. A sense of meaning, and to bolster it you also get a sense of belonging when you join in ceremonies with others that share the same sense of meaning.

I’m convinced there is some good in providing a sense of meaning in a universe so vast and unfeeling that looking up at the night sky can make you feel smaller than the ant you recently crushed because it bit your ankle.1 The belonging part helps with that too.

But is it possibly a notch better to come up with your own meaning? After all, if you get right down to the brass tacks maybe the real meaning of life is found in laughing at the butter robot. Or giggling at the reason for earth was because no one could figure out what the Fridge ’42’ was all about. Because on the other side of that abyss of lost meaning is a discovery.

The tiny moments do matter. They matter to me and to you and to those around you. Even more so because they happen in a vast universe that will toodle along just fine even when I’m gone. What meaning we assign to that is really up to each of us. Maybe the real purpose of life the Fridge is trying to tell us is that it’s all up to us. Sure it might help us find lost keys once in a while, but being part of the human dance called life is about what we are gonna do with it.

What will we choose to do with it? Will we take on that challenge to go off script and create? Or will we just mark our time in the paradigm we’ve been given by others? I suppose that is up to you. Right after you pass the butter.

 

 

  1. True story, happened yesterday, the signs of the Fridge never cease! If you are but willing to look for them.

If Mormons are Christian…

If Mormons are Christian, then FLDS polygamists are Mormon.

That’s really all the longer this article needs to be. But I’m pretty sure it’s guaranteed to cause the typical LDS member stress and elicit denials. How do I know this? Because I have made such a statement many times after hearing a member of the largest branch of believers in Joseph and his book insist that they are Christian.

Why do such denials occur? I think its because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would rather distance themselves from the likes of Warren Jeff’s. The typical LDS believer will declare their belief is most definitely not at all like the FLDS polygamist variant and they are prepared to detail all the reasons that off shoot doesn’t represent real Mormonism.

But ask what it is that makes them Christian. The answer? Because the church is focused on Jesus Christ, heck its even in the name right? Kind of like how it’s in the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints?

You see it’s all in definition. Much like Christianity can represent a bunch of people that generally accept most or some of the Bible and the divinity of Jesus. It’s pretty easy to see that Mormonism can equally represent a group of people that believe in the divine mission of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon he produced.

If you are not gonna allow the Christian to say you aren’t really Christian because of differences in doctrinal assertions and beliefs other than those two basic reasons. Then if you are playing fair, rejecting Warren Jeff’s Mormonism on the same premise, well… isn’t fair.

So to you all the mainstream LDS believers out there that don’t like to be associated with other branches of the religion that Joseph Smith started. Maybe next time you hear an Evangelical  Christian say you aren’t Christian like them…

Maybe you should think for a minute about just how Mormon Warren Jeff’s is before you reply.

 

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.

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! 🙂

 

The Decency of Humanity

Today’s sermon on the door of the Fridge is about decency. More specifically do people need religion to be decent? Then the follow up question: Is it possible that religion actually suppresses the natural decency and morality that we humans seem to portray in every culture and medium we have created? 

Personally I think most people can be moral and decent all on their own. Sure there are some that need threats of hell to be nice to others, but honestly I don’t think that is typical the case. 


Along the same vein, it doesn’t take much research to discover that the ‘divinely appointed sources’ didn’t get it any better than people who relied on their own judgment. 

Even worse, in some cases dogma takes on a life of its own. Keeping things like racism embedded in a culture way past the time the rest of society realized keeping slaves is NOT a nice thing to do.
Case in point. The bible bans shellfish…. but on slavery, that’s all good. God made sure we knew shrimp was bad to eat, and that we should kill homosexuals ‘n all. But on slavery? The nicest thing we get out of the bible about that is:

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Thus is the value of divinely appointed sources that we are supposed to put our faith in and act on. Slaves are supposed to obey, and you are supposed to kill gay people.

The ‘truth’ of these sources is so bad that most of humanity already ignores it. Just read the part of the Old Testament where God kills a guy for spilling his seed on the ground instead of getting his brothers wife pregnant to any Christian you know. I’ll bet most won’t know it’s in there, then a few will say that part of the Bible doesn’t count anymore. (except the 10 commandments, for some reason those are still ok.) 

That’s why I have a lot more faith in humanity than the dude that is presumably filling all these books up with stuff we should apparently be paying more attention to. 

Because most of humanity already ignores all the bad stuff, even as they claim to believe in their books or leaders as giving us the inerrant word of God.

In the long run I believe humanity is winning this battle. While over and over again churches are losing due to their own greed, lies, illogic and awful dogma. Which thanks to modern information technology is exposed at the touch of a screen.  

It’s almost like the vision of the Fridge is true no matter what my voice has to do with it! 

Humanity is domesticating religion all on it’s own. Humanity is making these myths bow to their own sense of morality. Even disavowing their own scriptures and dogma. 

And that brings me hope!