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!

Stealing Christmas

Christmas is a great holiday. It’s a time when much of the western world gets uptight about the latest Starbucks cup. It’s a time when you get judged by the number of lights on your house. The time of year when snow flies and baby it’s cold outside.

I love Christmas time. In fact it’s one of the reasons I came up with this blog. From a secular perspective I see this holiday as a religion that has been defanged by crowds that love the idea of Santa and spreading genuine care to others.

It’s probably the most powerful example of a myth’s power (treated as a myth outright) to effect change in our behavior.

We look for that perfect gift for someone we love. We think more than normal about the poor and needy among us. Charity is rampant and generosity is common. Stories of Santa Clause fill the airwaves as everyone indulges in a little make believe.

Religions do the same thing. They engage in make believe. But it comes with a price, dogma. Antiquated ideas, like the cursing of black people or the sin of being homosexual live a life far longer that they should as human morality matures beyond stoning people for working on a Sunday.

Dogma even causes people to get wound up about loosing the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas. They actually get annoyed at those who are buying gifts for others and not being Jesus-y enough about it. Think about that. Here are people being generous and thoughtful without their particular faith involved in the process and somehow that makes it a bad thing.

Why you ask? Because you can’t steal all those good things from Christmas!!! Hell, those heathens even use the letter X in place of Christ in the name! (Please ignore the fact that the letter X represents the cross so you can be properly pissed off!)

But here’s the thing. Just a little research and you find out that Jesus had already stolen Christmas from the pagans before them. The celebration of winter solstice and the dawning of a new year when things would get warm again was a pretty big deal for humans surviving the last ice age!

Like Windows interface was stolen from Apple… who stole the idea from Xerox, good ideas survive because great artists steal the best ideas to work from.

Christmas is a stolen idea of new beginnings with a sprinkle of sacrifice added to the mix. Gift giving symbolizes that process and reminds us to be more generous to our fellow beings on the planet.

I think that same transition is happening now as Christmas is celebrated by millions that have no belief in deity at all. They are discovering that you can still be generous and kind, that you can have a community without shared dogma. A place that is truly inclusive because there is no doctrinal tribal exclusion.

Yes Christmas is being stolen again.  All that’s left is to do is what the last guys that stole it did.

Rebrand it.

Merry Fridgemas everybody!!

May your holidays be cool and bright!

Tribal Loyalty 

So today I had an epiphany. Well actually it was a few days ago, today I figured out how to write it down.

Our human default wiring is set to “tribal loyalty.”

That means we tend to cherish those of our own tribe more and those that aren’t part of it not so much.

I have even noted that those that break ranks with the tribe are often most vilified because of this natural default setting.

This came to me after a discussion with a friend. He was very upset by poor Chinese people willing to work for less money just to put rice on the table and thus steal the job from a poor American with a Fridge and a cell phone. Clearly America is in his tribe.

I personally only see poor people in these two groups now, some clearly worse off than others. It dawned on me I have been going to China a LOT lately for work. I realized by getting to know them and their families and their lives that my ‘tribe’ was now bigger than it used to be.

So moral of the story?

-> Try to expand your tribe <-

Get to know someone you wouldn’t normally know. It leads to great epiphanies and just might change that natural default setting a notch or two!

Looking for Clarity in Mixed Messages

Competing communications

Mixed messages occur when we communicate two competing ideas. This results in miscommunication and logical conundrums. It is part of life and can often be attributed to our perception of words and actions.

For example a female often sees sexual advance of a male as a guy just ‘being nice’ while the male experiences a woman who is just being nice as a ‘sexual advance.’ Clearly this leads to confusion between both parties.

There are other cases of mixed messages though, such as where an abuser sends signals of love and hate towards the victim. Keeping them wondering exactly what is needed for love from the person in control. The narcissist creates a double bind in the relationship that is difficult for the victim to recognize and often keeps the victim in the situation far longer than expected. It also happens to the dismay of this on the outside that can readily see the abuse while the victim remains essentially blind to it.

In one case the mixed message is a misunderstanding due to personal bias, while the other is a situation where a level of thought control is exerted by one party over another emotionally attached person. There is another category of mixed message in my opinion. The religious one. I think we find components of both concepts in religious mixed messaging.

Relationships matter, good message

There is definitely a relationship at stake. You are supposed to ‘personally’ know Jesus right? In my discussion with people of differing levels of faith it becomes very clear that how a particular scripture or statement by a trusted leader depends greatly on a person’s point of view.

 

obi wan

 

But there is also messaging via the party in control that is worth consideration in my humble opinion. This sermon on the Fridge was inspired by such a message I recently read by a leader of faithful Mormons. There were some ideas in his talk that I really, really liked. Here are some examples:

 

“This is an important reminder to modern Israel that we should treat one another with respect and kindness and especially those living among us who are not members, because we were once strangers too.”

“If a neighbor, work colleague, or schoolmate is not interested in investigating the gospel, we must always continue to extend the hand of friendship”

“I invite every parent listening today to talk with your children about how they should treat others not of our faith on the school playground and in our neighborhoods. Our children learn best by the example of parents and leaders. Let us be careful regarding what we say about others and how we treat our fellowmen.”

“If we are His disciples, we must practice Christian civility and kindness to all we meet, including those who have chosen to disassociate themselves from the Church.”

 

Personally I found these to be great sentiments and appreciated hearing them taught from the pulpit. They addressed concerns I have as I watched my family ostracized from the community due to no longer believing the the prevailing faith. If I had one regret for following truth that lead to the collapse of my shelf it is the effect it eventually had on my children’s friendships when they came to similar conclusions as I did. It’s hard to see your own child treated differently due to not being of the same faith. So that last quote was very meaningful to me personally.

What is the whole message?

If only I could end it there though. The problem is this isn’t the only part of the message. Here are some other quotes from the same talk:

 

“I raise my warning voice, as Paul did, that there are those “that trouble you”—people that “pervert the gospel of Christ.” I would be shirking my duty if I did not raise my voice to warn you of the challenges we face today.”

“We are saddened when we witness some of the “very elect” deceived as Jesus warned.”

“To me this is a perfect analogy of what happens when stalwart Church members, the “very elect,” those who for all appearances seem to stand tall and erect in the faith, die spiritually.”

“Viewing podcasts and Internet sites that raise questions and doubt without being intellectually honest and that do not adequately and honestly present the Lord’s perspective”

 

To me this is a very mixed message. Love the heathen, be kind and nice and civil, but don’t let them contaminate you with their thinking or doubt. The unbeliever apperently needs to be both respected and pitied as a great tree that lost its roots and died? Taking it a step further old stereo types are reinforced with messages like this:

 

“When someone stops doing these simple but essential things,1 they cut themselves from the well of living water and allow Satan to muddle their thinking. Sin and guilt cloud the mind—leading them to deny past inspiration and revelation and causing a “de-conversion” from the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Non-believers are sinful, bad message

The person that leaves must be sinful to doubt the faith is core to this message. I still have no idea what ‘sin’ I was committing when I realized what I considered spiritual proofs of my own faith were no different than the things Muslims or the FLDS felt or any other religion. Looking at this with brutal honestly I had to consider the reliability of these feelings if they could also cause a teen girl to think it was necessary for her to become polygamous bride to a cult leader like Warren Jeffs.

 

 

Reading this talk, the mixed messaging of love your neighbor as your equal, but remember how lucky you are to be one of the chosen few was glaringly obvious to me. I think this is  because once I stepped out of the grasp religion had on my thoughts I noticed this conflicting communication is rampant in all faiths.

Bible says don’t kill, then Nephi is told to kill a drunk guy. Thou shalt not lie, but then Joseph Smith lies about his polygamy and orders a printing press destroyed for exposing it. You don’t even have to leave the bible to find mixed messages.  In one verse Jesus says love one another. Then in another he says you need to hate your family to be his disciple. 2 Entire maps of scripture have been put together highlighting the conflicting ideas.

I have determined mixed messages come part and parcel with religious faith. But I doubt most believers consciously realize the mixed messages that are being sent because they have been used to it for years.By now it just seems normal to hear such conflicting concepts reinforced. It’s simply the way religion works if you will. In fact I tend more to that explanation than an overt effort to control the thinking of members. Some find it abusive and cult like. I think it is more mild and unintentional myself.

Seeking clarification

Maybe part of the mixed messaging goes the other way, and like the relationship were one person can’t see things the same way the other can is a failing of not listening… That conclusion I reach because of this last quote that stood out to me.

“It is hard for me to understand why anyone turns to other voices on the Internet without first turning to voices of the scriptures or the voices of the living prophets and apostles.”

Let me see if I can clarify for Elder Ballard that which seems to be so hard for him to understand.

I did turn to the scriptures, and the voices of living prophets. But I kept hearing these mixed messages that frankly put never really get answered in way a that builds faith.

The answers in the new essays, especially if you do your own research following the footnotes, don’t honestly paint a compelling picture. They come off as weak justifications for some pretty awful things. Or they cause massive contradictions about how things that were doctrinal all of a sudden now aren’t. Like how the living prophets of yesterday like Brigham Young where just a product of their racist generation when they prevented Black people from getting the priesthood? Really? If that leader was off his rocker in his time and place why should I believe the current divisive LGBT rhetoric from leaders today?

I did turn to the faithful for answers to my questions. They didn’t have answers. In fact all they had was what you said. Blame to give me for not studying hard enough.

This is NOT a failure of trying

I want you to know I was reading the Book of Mormon daily the night my shelf collapsed, prayerfully looking for these answers that every leader says are there. I have yet to find clear and succinct answers. Only contradictory apologetics that put more spin on the facts than a used car salesman. I did everything asked and more before considering the possibility I was wrong and had put my faith in the wrong place. What have you done? Have you read the CES letter? How is it a director of church education can’t answer anything on the list of those items? How is it so much of what is in there is known to so few members of the faith? Why is the answer always my fault for not trying hard enough no matter how hard I try? Can’t you see how self serving such an answer is? You can use that kind of answer to prove you shouldn’t leave any religion. It’s illogical thinking and rests on circular reasoning that in any situation other than testing your own faith is obviously false.

 

 

Maybe the reason these podcasts and websites you vilify get more attention than the leaders of the church from those that questions is simple. Maybe it’s because these voices that are both somehow evil and to be avoided and yet made by non believers that shouldn’t be avoided but befriended….

Maybe they aren’t sending the mixed messages you have been.

 

 

“I just like to shoot straight, I’m a man of science, “

 

  1. Constant repetition is a well known way to control a persons perception. Is it really any wonder that ceasing to constantly repeat something might change a persons perspective?
  2. Luke 14:26

Leveling Up, The Power of Hope

First A Little Reminiscing

I looked back today to the beginning of COTF today. It surprised me. It’s been visited nearly 400,000 times, There are new likes on the FB page every day. I see it dropped in conversations all the time from people I don’t even know. Hell, there are even people wanting to vote for the Fridge as president!!

Ok, the Fridge for president idea honestly wasn’t mine, but it is a sign that the time of chill is nigh! The Fridge is coming into it’s own. My best friend keeps telling me I need to monetize this venture. “Especially now that you’ve lost your moral center!” he jokes. I can’t say I haven’t thought of it. It would be nice to not have it be a drain on my own time and resources. But part of me likes it being pure, no ads, no cash flow. Just a place for people to share truth as they see it. I even created Fridge magnets thinking about it but so far all I have done is give them away not even trying to recoup the cost to make them.

Someday, But Today Is Not That Day

If COTF ever gets crazy popular I realize that me funding it all isn’t a workable solution in the long term, especially if it has a chance of living on past my own mortality. But I figure we can jump off that bridge when we get to it. So if you really want a Fridge magnet, send me a message on the COTF FB page or comment on this post, I’ll hook you up till I run out. It’s on me. I value the fact that you think this whole stream of consciousness I write is even worth reading. Call it my thanks to you and an outward effort by me to keep this a donation free, ad free, product free zone as long as I can keep it up. It might the one bit of goodness I leave to the world as my legacy. At least that is my hope.

 

Time To Get To The Point Already

So what is faith good for? What can it give us other things can’t? Relevant to that question I have been pondering the value of religion recently. Religions, pretty much all of them, have something in common with video games. They have a process in which you ‘level up’. A person moves on to great and greater achievements celebrated by the religious community.

Mormonism as one example is loaded with them. Boy’s move up through priesthood levels to greater and greater responsibilities. Granted, girls don’t get quite as much attention but their organization has steps of achievement as well. Ultimately a goal celebrated by all is a temple marriage and the endowment given to all that measure up to the tenets of the faith.1 Other religions have analogues, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, baptisms and so on. Scientology has tiers of awareness and the poor guys that rode that comet were just getting to the ‘next level’.

To Level Is Human

This is a lot like Pokemon go, not to mention every other video game I have played. Do what you need to and you level up. This idea of progression must feel good to us. It must satisfy some internal need. After all video games can be as addicting as porn or ice cream. The reason things are addicting is because they trigger deep emotional responses in us, overloading them even. To progress and level up feels good. It doesn’t need to be ‘real’ it just needs to impress your peers. I think this idea goes hand in with hope. By leveling up we make progress to what we hope for, what we want to achieve. So religions, even fake ones2 need a leveling system and something to hope for. I’d love your suggestions on how to level up in the COTF. They can be serious, sarcastic, funny or whatever all are welcome.

Hell, I will even give away free Fridge magnets3 (shipping included in the free part :)) for every idea! Tell us what you hope for, what you want to achieve and the steps you would like to celebrate while getting there. How are you gonna Level Up?

 

  1. There is even a more secret second anointing or endowment for the super duper faithful. Google that and Tom Phillips for some interesting reading
  2. Technically they are all fake, just some are willing to admit it!
  3. Did I mention these magnets double as bottle openers? Ironically awesome right?

Fabricating War, a Mormon Conspiracy Theory 

War makes money

War profiteering has an old history, it goes way back, so far back that I think you’d struggle to find the first war profiteer. In fact I would dare bet that war profiteering and religion were pretty much invented at the same time. In my own life time I have witnessed two great wars touted all over the media. The war on drugs and the war on terror. Both wars that have lasted indefinitely and pretty much not accomplished anything.

Well that’s not entirely true, the war on drugs seems to have created massive criminal syndicates in Mexico and other countries that ship banned drugs to the black markets of America. Pretty much the same way the war on alcohol did in the days of prohibition. But ‘winning‘ this war? Eh, not so much. People still use drugs.

The war on drugs was the first war I learned of as a youth. But then came the war on terror. Launched after people doing what their god told them to took down a couple of office buildings full of people like you and me. Is the war on terror really a war that can be won? Or will we poor endless money into chasing shadows? You can even find conspiracy theories that the entire 9-11 incident was fabricated just to keep the populace looking at that enemy out there while the rich and powerful adjust society to their liking right here at home. War makes money, a lot of it. That can’t be argued. Did anyone invest in Halliburton before Sept 2001?

War is a distraction

Which leads me to a more recent war that has been declared in my home state. The war on porn. All over the state places have been popping up to combat this ‘new drug’ to treat people for an affliction that must be the leading cause of losing their faith and families. Save your family now! Only 12,000$ for our proven porn detox method!

Here in Utah the war on porn is in full swing. But the conspiracy theorist in me wonders why? Could this war be getting pumped for reasons only being talked about in back rooms?

Maybe there are people starting up these treatment centers and cashing in… Or maybe, just maybe this is a good distraction from what all the apostates are saying are the real reasons they are leaving the faith.

Reasons like finding out that the founding prophet is a convicted fraud that pretended to find treasure for money by looking at magic rocks in a hat. That the same guy told 14 year old girls if they didn’t marry him it would be their fault the angel God sent with the sword was gonna take the prophet from the earth. Oh and yeah that same magic rock? He used it to produce the Book of Mormon. No that couldn’t possibly be why all these men, women and families are leaving the church. It couldn’t possibly be the new information available on the internet exposing facts about the origins of the faith that had been carefully white washed until now. No, it must be the porn, we need to declare war on it!

War gets attention

Is this war on porn a conspiracy by the church to distract from the real problem that is causing the biggest apostasy the faith has experienced since the collapse of a bank with a 3 dollar bill that Joseph prophesied would make them all wealthy if they invested? (yes this really happened).

Who knows? But I do know this. If you want to focus attention on something. Declare war on it. Hmmm that might explain the war on christmas… Maybe the Fridge should declare war on the Flying Spaghetti Monster since that fake religion is clearly in a-pasta-cy. A war on pasta! Isn’t that basically a war on carbs? Given my diet centered news feed that appears to already be well underway. It never fails that I discover the signs of the Fridge are everywhere if you only have the faith to look.

May you all chill in the blessings of the Fridge, Cheese and Ice, Amen.