Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Worst Two Years

The following is what Adam wrote in response to a question on an AMA (ask me anything): Former Mormon feature I did elsewhere on the web. He apologizes for rambling.

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Why was my mission the worst two years of my life? Well, the answer is going to be really big, really personal, and really hard to explain because I'm going to have to give background info at every step. I honestly don't know if this even scratches the surface. Looking back at everything I've written I'm realizing it would take an entire book to get the full message across.
 I'm also going to be talking a lot about masturbation, so you can go ahead and skip the whole post if that makes you uncomfortable.
First of all, you need to understand the social expectation of every "worthy" young man of 19 years to serve a mission. Young women are taught their whole lives to stay pure so they can meet that special RM (Returned Missionary) and get married in the temple. In a lot of ways, your mission is your breeding license, indicating to all the ladies that you're good enough material in God's eyes to be the father of their children. After that it's just a matter of them picking which one they like the best. I guess girls are naturally pure and lovely, and don't need to do anything to prove their worth. A mission becomes your plumage for attracting a mate. Without it you're kind of hooped.
So what does being "worthy" to serve a mission mean? Well, you need to be keeping the commandments, especially the Law of Chastity. There are conflicting reports, but I've heard of guys who had sex in high school, repented, and were not allowed to serve because of their prior transgressions. In mormon theology, breaking the Law of Chastity is second in severity only to murder: God decides who comes and goes, and those who take those powers into their own hands are in big trouble.
Now imagine you're a fourteen year old boy. Everybody knows what fourteen year old boys do. Now imagine you're in your sunday school lesson and your teacher points out that the law of chastity can be broken BY YOURSELF. Just stop and think about the terror and internal turmoil of a fourteen year old who realizes that what they've been doing in private is the second worst thing they could possibly do in God's eyes. Thus begins the shame spiral.
Now I don't know about everybody else, but I don't see how people (especially teenage boys) can just turn off the desire to masturbate unless they've got some sort of asexual medical condition. Each time you "relapse," you feel disgusting, unworthy, and hopeless. Each time, you promise that it will NEVER happen again. After going through this process for weeks, months, and years on end, a person's self worth becomes permanently damaged. They cannot help but view themselves as broken somehow. Imagine raising someone to think that food is sinful, and they must never partake. It's like Alcoholics Anonymous, but for breathing. It's just not healthy.
Every week in sacrament meeting the young men prepare and bless the sacrament. Each week you are acutely aware of your unworthiness and inadequacy.
Then suddenly you're 18 1/2. There is a rather explicit expectation for every worth young man to serve a mission when he's 19. It's time to get ready for a mission. You know that they have "raised the bar" on the worthiness standards. They expect you to be abstinent of all sexuality. People as when you're putting your papers in. What do you tell them? Do you delay? Do you decline? Every ward (congregation) has "that person" who didn't serve a mission. They're the weird 35 year old with no family, no prospects. Sometimes they go inactive (stop coming to church). The time came and they didn't step up to the plate.
So you tell yourself that you've got it all under control, that despite your shortcomings you are worthy enough to serve. I never even had the opportunity to stop and decide if this was something I wanted to do: it was expected of me, and nobody says no to the Lord.

*sigh*
This topic is so big, and I've just scratched the surface, yet I don't even know if I'm getting the idea across.

So anyway, you end up on your mission. Everyone tries their best to project the outward model of what you are supposed to be, and you feel like you are the only on who is struggling on the inside to even WANT to be that. But you don't stop trying. It's like the woman in an abusive relationship who takes her beating and then frets over what she must have done to deserve it. The mission is two years completely dedicated to the Lord's work: anyone who doesn't love selflessly giving themselves to their Heavenly Father must not be living the Gospel right. For two years you lose your first name. You are given a new identity: "Elder/Sister So-and-so." You are supposed to lose yourself in the work, and really you do. You start to lose all sense of who you are as a person, you see yourself only as a missionary, as a tool in God's hands. Except that only makes it worse, doesn't it? Because people aren't meant to be perfect. People are meant to have flaws. But a flawed tool in God's hands? You're shortchanging God. After all He's given you, he just asks for two years and you can't even do that properly.
And the work itself is grueling, vapid, and depressing. Each day you wake up at 6:00. You have one hour for personal preparation (breakfast, exercise, shower, dressing), and then it's study time. For three hours every morning you study the scriptures, the lesson manuals, various teaching aids. You are expected to be a scriptorian. And Mormons have a lot more scriptures! On top of the Old and New Testament, there is the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
At 10:00, you hit the streets. Door-to door tracting, street contacting, anyone, anywhere. Nobody wants to listen to you. You spend from 10am to 8pm being rejected by every person you see. The only people who ever let us in to talk to them were those with obvious social or mental problems, who we referred to as "less accountable." We preyed on the weak, the lonely, the ignorant, while being constantly foiled and frustrated by the intelligent and well informed. Although in hindsight I can see why nobody wanted to listen to the batshit crazy nonsense we were spouting, at the time we knew that the message was perfect: the fault must therefore lie in the messenger.
Each evening we would return to our apartments and call in our numbers to our supervisor: how many hours we had spent doing what. How many people had actually let us speak to them. How many return visits we had scheduled. Our teaching sessions were called "discussions" rather than "lessons," but they really weren't anything of the sort. We were explicitly instructed to tell them our message, but that we were not supposed to hear their contradicting view in return.
The people I had to put up with made me want to kill myself. Those who achieved leadership roles in the mission organization tended to be horrendously arrogant and self-righteous. Authority in a theocracy comes down from God, through other people above you, so you can't really complain against them without complaining against God. Each person for each position is chosen by revelation, and they are entitled to receive revelation to guide those under their stewardship. That means that if you have an asshole for a Zone Leader who says everyone who doesn't baptize someone this month isn't dedicated enough to the Lord's work, that is the divinely revealed truth. Then when you work your ass off all month and nobody gets baptized, it lands on your shoulders. When they accuse you of things you didn't do, it turns out you're wrong. When they're assholes and steal your personal belongings that they don't think are in line with being a missionary, you can't complain.
For two years the mission decided what music I was allowed to listen to (only things with the church's logo, or classical music pre-1900's), when I was allowed to call home (on Christmas and Mother's Day, 30 minutes each), and who I could write emails to (only family members). They decided how many hours I had per week to buy groceries and do my laundry. I had no recreation to speak of (I started gluing popsicle sticks together out of boredom). Missionaries are paired with a "companion" who lives, eats, studies, and works with you. Literally the only time that they are not at arm's length is when you are in the bathroom. These are assigned as well.
I don't really know how to get this across. It was two years of the most mentally and emotionally damaging abuse I've experienced in my life. I vividly recall one morning, sometime early in my second year, when I realized how much longer I had left to go. I was standing in the kitchen, holding the largest knife I could find. I was trying to figure out how exactly to drop it on my foot to injure me enough to be sent home honorably without making me permanently disabled for life. I was literally weighing which appendages I could stand to lose to get out. If none of the particulars of what it was like get the message across, maybe that will at least let you know how it impacted me. I came very very close to dropping the knife.

So I spent two years being a horrible person, dedicating my soul to being better at it, and feeling like a failure for not loving it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Buzz Lightyear, Ex-Mormon

Hey, don't get too excited. I'm not planning to revive this blog. But I thought those of you still subscribed would be happy to see I wrote something on this topic:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SBhi36x_sHMi1L0lGF6VW8jObfTav4wsFpWurTDySUQ/edit

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watch This

An online acquaintance made an excellent series of videos in response to last year's General Conference talk by Holland that many Mormons are still rabidly promoting on the internet. It's an illogical, emotional, manipulative, arrogant and dishonest example of public speaking. But I'll let FlackerMan tell you all about it:









Friday, April 30, 2010

The 2010 MS Walk

It’s almost time.

I try to participate in the MS Walk every year, in honor of my mother. It’s a cause that matters greatly to me. And I would love your help.

This year I’m hoping to raise at least $1,000. If all 328 of my Blogger followers gave just $4 that would be more than enough. See? Even small donations can make a big difference! So, if you’re able, please consider sponsoring me. Not able to donate? That’s OK. You can still help me out by blogging, tweeting, and sharing on Facebook. Any help at all will mean a lot to me, and to the MS Society.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me about the MS Walk a few more times between now and the date of my local walk. Consider this a “kick-off” post.

And, just FYI, I will make a blog signature for anyone who donates $10 dollars or more and provides a valid e-mail address in their online donation form. You’ll have to select the “name and amount” option to receive your free signature. Or, if you donate $15 dollars or more you can choose between a free signature or one month of advertising space on Domestic Dork {provide an e-mail address and select “name and amount”}. And everyone who donates {again, you’ll need to provide an e-mail address in the form”} has the option of being added to an “Honor Blog Roll.” The blog roll will be left in my sidebar on Domestic Dork for 3 months and then left indefinitely on the blog page {see the “blogs” button in my menu on the left side of my Domestic Dork blog}.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks in advance and from the bottom of my heart for any donations and/or help spreading the word.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Love You Guys

CaraDee left a link to the video below on my last post. I'm a fan of Non-Stamp Collector but I hadn't seen this particular video of his. Creationists, WATCH THIS. Thanks CaraDee!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

THIS IS FOR WHAT I HAVE NO PATIENCE!

Let me start off by saying I’ve already gotten some nice comments on my last post about “atheists having faith.” Chanson linked to a post of hers on the issue. And Andrew S. left a really insightful comment:
E.g., if you notice the guy's comment...he always pins atheists as being people who believe there is no god. So he isn't framing this in terms of belief vs. nonbelief, or do believe vs. do not believe.  
Instead, he is framing it in terms of believe there is vs. believe there is not. He consistently address those who "believe there is no god," who have faith "there is no god" etc.,  
Well, phew! All I can do is give a sigh of relief. His stinging indictment doesn't even apply to me. I am an atheist because I do not believe in gods and I do not believe there are gods, not because I believe there are no gods. And most atheists (I think, I have never conducted a formal poll) would agree. It seems to me that most people concede -- even if only grudgingly -- that belief either way requires "faith" (I agree with chanson that this also says more about the person's opinion of faith than anything)...and many people will concede that "nonbelief" is "reasonable."  
What they fail to realize is that atheism includes that nonbelief.
And then there was this “gem.” {Rant to follow.}
Well said, let first examine who is God. God is the source of everything and the creator of every creature. Answer this Questions: Do you know that there are manufacturers for every car and a potter for every pot? Have you ever seen a beuatiful garden that just happened without a meticulous gardener? If your answer is yes, why do you think the earth and man just happened; when no car or house just happened. Here is the bottom line; to deny God is to deny that there is no manufacturer of cars or no potter for pot. And that is either you are a hypocrite or you are a fool.
For more on this read my blog, Achievement The Way I See It 2 http://josephabioye.blogspot.com
When I provide links READ THEM before you run your mouth or you just end up looking like a douche and pissing me off. Seriously. This makes me angry. I provided a LIST of things to read re: evolution. It just so happens that those links {and books} address the designer/”just happens” fallacy.
ATHEISTS/EVOLUTIONISTS DO NOT BELIEVE THINGS “JUST HAPPENED.” But then, if you had READ the information I provided you’d know that. But no, you’d rather leave trite little analogies that DO NOT APPLY.
Here’s that reading list for you again. Do not bother me with your cliché arguments again until you’ve read them.
And I highly recommend buying or borrowing: The God Delusion and The Greatest Show On Earth. We own and love both.
If the Christians who make these idiotic analogies and arguments actually spent time listening to what the other side has to say they’d know those arguments have already been addressed and answered. But it seems they’d rather sit around repeating their crap to each other and congratulating each other on how smart they are, and what great zingers they’ve come up with to show how foolish the non-theists are. No, “heaven forbid” they actually learn what the hell they’re talking about. It’s far better to spew fallacies about watches and watchmakers and how evolution is “just a theory” {yes, in the same sense of the word as the THEORY OF GRAVITY}. THIS is exactly the kind of bullshit I have little patience for.
That said, I’m done. I’m not wasting my time providing the same resources over and over and over again. I have better things to do with my time, like having breakfast with my family, which is exactly what I’m going to do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

“Atheists Have Faith”

The following comment was left anonymously on Adam’s post:
As far as I can tell you use faith as much as your parents do.  With exactly the same type of evidence.  You see everything as evidence that there is no God, but as far as I can tell you haven't proved it.  You can't, anymore then someone can prove there IS a God.  You can't know for sure that there isn't, anymore then I can no for sure that there is.  You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen, but you can't prove there is no divine being influencing things, anymore then I could prove to you that there is.  And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed. Because everyone believes they are correct.  You have faith my man.  Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses. [sic]
I have a few things to say to that…but first, a comic:
logic{taken from The Godless Paladin} 
By this reasoning it would be just as valid to believe there is an invisible pink unicorn watching over us all from a rainbow castle in the sky as it would be to not believe in such a being. By this reasons it would be just as valid to believe there in Thor, or Vishnu, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster as it is to not believe in such gods.
Calling atheism, or NON-belief, “faith” is like calling NOT collecting stamps a hobby.
And it’s ridiculous.
It does not take faith to not believe in something for which there is no evidence. Would you say it takes faith to not believe in the boogey-man? Does it take faith to not believe in fairies? Does it take faith to not believe in Russell’s teapot? What’s that? I’ll let Russell explain:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. {via Wikipedia}
You’re arguing that since you cannot prove nor disprove the existence of a supreme being then it must be equally reasonable to believe in such as it is to not believe and that both views require faith {nevermind the fact that specific religions and their claims can be shown to be untrue – we’ll focus merely on the abstract concept of a supernatural being called “God”}.
Richard Dawkins argued that “if agnosticism demands giving equal respect to the belief and disbelief in a supreme being, then it must also give equal respect to belief in an orbiting teapot, since the existence of an orbiting teapot is just as plausible scientifically as the existence of a supreme being.” And Peter Atkins “said that the core point of Russell's teapot is that a scientist cannot prove a negative, and therefore Occam's razor demands that the more simple theory (in which there is no supreme being) should trump the more complex theory (with a supreme being).”
But now I’d like to take a moment to address specific parts of your asinine and cliché comment. Let’s start with:
“You see everything as evidence that there is no God”
No, we see the fact that there IS NO evidence for God as a pretty damn big sign that there probably is not one. We’re 6’s leaning 7 on the spectrum of theistic probability. When we say “there is no evidence for God’s existence” it is not the same as saying “we have evidence for God’s non-existence” {again, you can’t prove a negative}. Your reasoning in twisting our statements on the matter is fallacious.
“You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen…”
I’ve already explained the error of the “atheists have faith too” argument. What I want to address here is the second half of this statement. If you are referring to evolution when you say “things just happen” please READ A DAMN BOOK on evolution. I don’t have the time nor the patience to lay out for you the science. I don’t particularly feel like banging my head against a wall trying to explain the ridiculousness of the “just happens” argument against evolution when other, much better writers, have already done so {see also The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion}. Or at least start by reading the following:
“And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed.”
Again, non-belief is not the same as belief. I don’t think I need to spell that out a million times but who knows? Maybe I do. But ignoring that issue for a moment…you say I have little patience with people that do not think the way I do. I’m sorry? Do we know you? I didn’t realize you were an authority on how we feel about other people. I can't speak for Adam. But here’s what I don’t have patience for:
  • I don’t have patience for nonsense. I don’t have patience for illogical arguments. I don’t have patience for poorly thought-out comments and assertions that have no evidence. And, on occasion, I lack patience with the people who espouse them as truth, or as world-views on equal footing with those that are based on evidence.
  • I don’t have patience for faiths that require 10% of their adherents income, no matter how poor they may be all while wasting BILLIONS of dollars buying land, building malls, and remodeling perfectly good buildings for their Masonic rip-off rituals. I don’t have patience for faiths that treat women and gays like lesser persons than men but say it’s OK because really, it’s God that is the sexist/hetero-sexist. I don’t have patience for faiths that lie about their history. Would you like me to keep going?
But despite those strong feelings I manage to maintain relationships with people who believe in God. You don’t know me. You don’t know how much patience it takes to keep my mouth shut when my friends say things that make me want to scream. You don’t know how much patience it takes to watch my family and friends sacrifice so much for faiths that abuse their faithfulness and yet be quiet because it’s what they want from me.
You have no idea just how much patience it takes to be a secularist in a religious world without going completely postal. Aside from dealing with trite, apologetic comments like yours, I live in a world where people fight to teach children fairy tales instead of science in our public schools. 48% of Americans openly admit they they would not vote for an atheist. People legislate their bible-based morality instead of making laws that are equitable for all based on evidence and principles of acceptance and fairness. People throw hissy-fits about using the phrase “Happy Holidays” to refer to a season which, in fact, includes several different holidays {including Christmas which was appropriated from a Pagan celebration}. I live in a world in which people expect me to “respect” their beliefs because they are religious in nature, not on their merits. Adults all over the world insist on believing in fairy tales, including the Christian fairytale whose God is a sadistic bastard {read the Bible and tell me a deity who commands genocide and carries out the murder of innocent children isn’t reprehensible}. And on top of all that these same people turn around and say there’s something wrong with US for not believing in their delusion. So don’t presume to tell me about patience. This blog is the one place I don’t have to be patient.
And finally, in regards to your closing statement:
“Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses.” [sic]
I think I have shown that, when it comes to your logic, that is clearly not that case.
Note: Anonymous comments get treated a certain way ‘round here. If you don’t respect your opinion enough to put your name on it, then why should I respect your opinion? I point this out because I want my readers to know that should they want to leave comments I’ll try to play nicely, assuming they’re brave enough to own their words. I say that as a person who, when I was still a believer, DID put my name on my comments when I (and I’m not proud of this) defended Prop H8. I did it, but it terrified me. So I understand why you might not be willing to do the same. I would just like to say that if you’re not willing to link your name with your beliefs on the matter then please ask yourself why that is.