Friday, October 30, 2009


I’m really proud of the costume I made for my daughter. So please go check it out and feed my ego by telling me how purely awesome I am. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Around The Web

This article about the church’s history of racism in relation to the recent statements from Oaks is an interesting read.

So is this article about the National Organization for Marriage, money, and Maine. In a nutshell the NOM doesn’t want to reveal who their donors are because complying with the law requiring they do so is “oppressive” and will threaten free speech. Ha-ha. I think what they mean is it will force people to own up to their speech. Seems their donors don’t want to come out of the closet and admit their bias against LGBTQ persons. Maybe they’re ashamed of their bigotry? Or maybe they’re just loser-chickens who want to be able to talk with their money in a way that hurts others but that won’t hurt them by causing them to actually face the consequences of people knowing they're asshats. In my opinion Maine voters have a right to know who’s trying to influence their laws. I don’t like these secret combinations if you know what I mean.

I just have to throw in this quote before I close:

"Fred Karger's claims are just - in a word - silly," says Brian Brown, Executive Director for the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage. "We've not received any contributions from the Mormon Church, and even if we had, every religious group has the right to donate to NOM just as they have the right to donate to other groups that stand up for issues that they believe in."

Really, not any contributions at all? Hmmmm…I find that hard to believe. But I guess we’ll find out for sure once the NOM starts obeying the law. When they do I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say. In the meantime read the articles for yourself. They’re not too long and they’re pretty interesting!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Temples and Taxes

I read this interesting article about Temples in England and how they are not tax exempt. It’s a short read, but presents an interesting perspective on LDS Temples. The article claims that only 30% of church membership pays a full tithe (a requisite to enter the temple). I have no idea if that statistic is right, but I can tell you this, if it is I never had a clue. As a believer I would have been shocked if you told me that…in fact, I would have been shocked if the numbers were reversed and 30% didn’t pay a full tithe. I was operating under the assumption that almost all my fellow members were paying full tithes. I certainly was. To not pay a full tithe was to “rob God” while paying a full tithe insured protection, temple “worthiness” and financial stability. Yes, that’s right. I was taught that no matter how little money I was trying to get by on (and as a college student, it wasn’t much) if I paid my tithing everything would magically work out. And by “magically work out” I guess they meant “not work out without taking upon me tens of thousands of dollars of student debt.” Whatever, close enough. {insert big eye roll here}

Anyway, it’s an interesting article. Go read it. Or, ya know, don’t. Use your “free agency” and decide for yourself. ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guest Post

Today (and tomorrow) I’m a guest blogger on Godless Blogger. Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Apologies

Look at me, all “I’m gonna post more!” and then I leave you hanging. Sorry. See, I’ve got this miniature person in my house. She’s adorable as all get out, but not entirely supportive of my writing hobby-but-god-I-wish-it-was-a-paid-career. It’s probably because she can’t read. That and she can’t wipe her own bum and dirty diapers definitely come before blog posts.

Also, a lot of people have beaten me to the punch on writing about Holland’s general conference talk and now I’m not as interested in tackling it. I did watch it. I have thoughts about it. But they’ve been said. In a nutshell? It was an emotional, thought-stopping mess riding the line between uninformed and downright dishonest. But the membership loved it. Apparently all it takes to do a good talk is use a prop (which, interestingly, the members are discouraged from doing in their own talks – nothing like leading by example) and get emotional. Sometimes I think public speaking should be a required class in high school…

Anyway, I’ve got to write two guest posts today. So I’ll just leave you with this trailer for a documentary I’m very interested in seeing. Also, I’m working on a glossary for this blog. So if you have questions about words, ideas, or whatever that you’d like some clarification on just leave a comment.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Persecution Complex

You know, LDS Church leaders are giving me more material than I can keep up with. I still have two more General Conference talks I want to address but the stupid just keeps coming and now I also have a recent talk Dallin H. Oaks gave at BYU-I to discuss (plus the proxy baptism and marriage of a Catholic Saint and more journal posts to do}. I really don’t think I can address all this in a timely manner but I just have to say something about this ridiculousness from Oaks who said:

It is important to note that while this aggressive intimidation in connection with the Proposition 8 election was primarily directed at religious persons and symbols, it was not anti-religious as such. These incidents were expressions of outrage against those who disagreed with the gay-rights position and had prevailed in a public contest. As such, these incidents of “violence and intimidation” are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic. In their effect they are like the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation.

Oh. my. god. Google.

This is *not* a joke. He actually had the audacity to compare Prop8 backlash (boycotts, protests, and some vandalism*) to the intimidation blacks and white allies faced during the civil rights movement. Hah! Coming from a church with a questionable history regarding persons of color I’m surprised he’s comparing themselves to the *victims* of the civil rights movement, and not the oppressors. But you know, I could spend all day going back on forth on whether the church was really racist or not {hint: as an institution, yes}. But what I really want to talk about is this:

You won {for now}. Your billions of dollars and your preaching and your volunteers and all your efforts to pass Prop 8 succeeded. You stripped the civil right to civil marriage from gays in California. So stop acting so damn persecuted because those of us who don’t feel threatened by our neighbor's love lives aren’t pleased about it.

You can’t make us agree with you.

People can boycott, and badmouth all they want because, thus far, you haven’t stripped that right from them. YOU decided it’d be a good idea to send a letter out to your membership mandating they give their support to the Prop 8 cause. They obeyed. Now own your actions, consequences and all. You sound, at best, absolutely silly whining about how persecuted Mormons are because people are pissed off at them, because people tried to deter the passing of Prop 8. You want to know what persecution looks like?

How about getting the shit pounded out of you for being gay?

As a friend of mine on Facebook pointed out, Mormons have their religious rights protected. It’s built right into the constitution. And despite Oak’s fear-mongering that isn’t about to change. But guess what guys, you don’t have the right to be above criticism, boycotts, or similar actions. Believe whatever the hell you want. But just because your opinions and worldviews are based on faith and scriptures they are no more immune to attack than opinions based on political ideologies, scientific theories, or bedtime stories. YOU may say God agrees with you. YOU may think we should all agree too. But WE think you’re delusional/homophobic/etc. But by all means…whine about how unfair it is for us to say so.

Complain about how it’s so unfair for people to boycott Prop 8 supporters (but it’s totally cool to fund Prop 8). Complain about how unfair it is for people to say you’re bigots (but it’s totally cool to preach that gays are sinners). Complain about how you’re the poor, pathetic victims of the big, bad, bully minorities (LGBT).

You do that.

I’ll be over here at my computer…laughing my ass off…

…Or crying. Whichever.

*Vandalism ain’t cool guys. Find another way to protest. Just sayin’.


Former LDS President Ezra Taft Benson was known in the 1950s and '60s for referring to the "so-called civil-rights movement" as a communist plot, said American history scholar D. Michael Quinn, a gay former Mormon. {via The Salt Lake Tribune}


Just a reminder...Oaks is the same guy who suggest parents refuse to let their gay children bring their partners home for the holidays or introduce them to their friends. I've mentioned that before.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day and I’m “coming out” as a straight ally. I live in Canada now {and I love it}. But I haven’t forgotten that my GLBT friends in my home country {the United States} are still not equal in the eyes of the law. Civil marriage should be a civil right throughout the United States. GLBT persons should be able to serve openly in the military. GLBT persons should not have to hide who they are. They should not have to fear for their jobs, or their safety. They should not have to be defined by their sexuality anymore than a straight person is defined by hers. They are not stereotypes. They are people, real people, people you know, people you work with, people you love…people who should not be treated differently because of who they love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Arm Yourself

This was written by Adam and posted elsewhere {the context isn’t all that important}. I thought it was really great and wanted to share it here.

The bottom line is that I just don't think that Religion and Reality coincide. How many times have you thought to yourself, "Gee, I really wish God hadn't set things up so that they look like a hoax." I would read the Book of Mormon and say "I wish God hadn't included so many references to things we can't find any archaeological evidence of." "I wish God hadn't changed the Lamanites’ DNA so it looks like they migrated from Asia ten thousand years ago."

Eventually, those things add up. You keep coming across pieces of information that don't fit, and you say "I don't know what to do with this, but I know that what I have is true, so I won't worry about this new information." It's like doing a crossword puzzle. If you get a word wrong near the start, you start having to think harder and harder to force other words to fit in. Eventually, you get to a word that you know the answer to, but it doesn't fit with what you've got. In Mormonism, the approach is to discard the word, assuming that there is some synonym that you don't know. "We'll find more archaeological evidence later that shows that there really WAS ____(Horses, Barley, Steel, Armies of millions dying in one place)."

But at some point, the cognitive dissonance adds up. You have to re-evaluate your initial assumptions. You have to say "what if that first word I put in was incorrect?" I've had a few members tell me that they ask this question constantly, and keep finding the same answer. I would have said I did that too. I was wrong. I had questioned my faith, but I had never really ASKED and looked for all possible answers. So I went back to my crossword puzzle, and I said "What if that first word was really *this synonym* instead?" And you know what? Now all the words start fitting.

The reason archaeological evidence directly contradicts the Book of Mormon account? I used to say God is testing our faith, and the evidence that will support the Book of Mormon has yet to emerge. Now I say the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction. It fits better.

The reason BILLIONS of people worldwide have spiritual experiences that lead them in directions other than towards the church? I used to say they were being led towards small nuggets of truth that exist in other religions, or that they were being caught up in emotional fervor, and mistaking it for the spirit. Now I say that the same is true for members of the church. A Pentecostal feels the rapture coming and is CERTAIN that Christ will take her. A Terrorist straps a bomb to himself and is CERTAIN that Allah will accept him. A Mormon reads the Book of Mormon and is CERTAIN God is telling him it's true. Is there really a difference? Can you compare your experience to that of someone else and say that yours is stronger? That yours is truer? That they are being emotionally misled, but you are immune to that? The simpler explanation is that this is a common human trait. When we hear a story about unfairness, we feel angry. When we hear a romantic story we feel romantic. When we hear a spiritual story we feel spiritual. Paul H Dunn has shown us by example that the story need not be True to make people feel "the spirit" and be convinced.
After I decided that there were too many coincidences to ignore, too many stretched explanations to replace one beautifully simple one, many things started to click into place.

"Aha!" I said. "THAT's why the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew doesn't match the 3rd Nephi versions of the same sermon! Either Jesus gave the JST version in Jerusalem, then it got mistranslated to EXACTLY MATCH the DIFFERENT version he gave to the Nephites, (in which case, if it was good enough for the Nephites, why did it need to be fixed in the Bible?), or Jesus gave the Jerusalem version in both places (in which case the JST is incorrect), or Jesus gave the Nephite version in both places (in which case the BoM is incorrect). The simpler explanation? Joseph Smith didn't think of the JST until after he had written the BoM, and forgot to make them match.
And why do Egyptologists unanimously disagree with the Egyptian translations Joseph gave of the Papyri? Mysteries of the Kingdom? No. Joseph didn't speak Egyptian.

And there are dozens more: The Hoffman documents, The Kinderhook Plates, the sexual scandals (I was never taught about Joseph's other wives: he had 27, several of which were already married at the time. And yes, he consummated). There is just a TON of stuff that doesn't fit into "The Church is True" conclusion, so the church tells you to avoid it. “Don't read anti-Mormon propaganda, it is lies crafted to deceive you.”

“If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.” —Journal of Discourses, George A. Smith

"Convince us of our errors of Doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God and we will ever be grateful for the information and you will ever have the pleasing reflections that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings."
- Orson Pratt, The Seer, pp 15-16, (1853).

"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground."

- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1, Page 188-189
If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."

- J. Reuben Clark, D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24.
"Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing."

- Gordon B. Hinckley. "Loyalty," April Conference, 2003.

Have you taken Hinckley up on his challenge? I did. It's true: there is no middle ground. I don't hold a grudge against those who investigate and still believe - that is your prerogative, but I think that it is intellectually dishonest. I do however prompt people to do the investigating. You don't even have to look at anti-Mormon materials, just go to Wikipedia. All sources are cited, and almost all of the sources are from within the church. Check, look at Joseph's marriages. Look up some of Joseph's prophecies. Read about Brigham Young.

If knowledge is power, you need to arm yourself.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We Know Because We Know

As promised, here are more of my thoughts on the talk Elder Hales gave in General Conference.

After spouting off as fact what he thinks of atheists/atheism* Hales goes on to discuss knowledge, sort of. Let’s begin with a quote:

We know He {Jesus} lives because we believe the testimony of His ancient and living prophets, we have felt God’s spirit confirm that the testimonies of these prophets are true. {emphasis mine}

So…in other words he knows because he believes because he has a feeling?

Maybe I’m being nitpicky here, but to me that seems an abuse of the word “know.” I know my name is Holly because it says so on my birth certificate. I know I like pumpkin pie because I’ve tasted it myself. I know a lot of things based on personal experience and evidence, not feelings. Here’s a man telling millions of people he knows when what he really means is he believes, he feels, he trusts the scriptures and other church leaders. Of course, there are plenty of his followers who honestly believe he’s seen the resurrected Christ with his own eyes and really does KNOW. Of course that would be too sacred an event for him to disclose to anybody {how convenient} despite the fact that biblical prophets and apostles were always going about telling people God/Jesus had appeared to them. In fact, so did Joseph Smith…

Hales then talks a little bit about Joseph Smith who he says was called to prepare the way for Jesus' second coming. He doesn’t point out that Joseph Smith said he expected that second coming to happen within 56 years but hey, even prophets make mistakes.* Then he shares the church’s favorite version of the first vision story. And goes on to say, again, that you can know the church is true because…wait for it…

We told you so.

Yup, God is real and the church is true because prophets say so in General Conference. But then, the crazy guy on the street corner with the cardboard sign says the same thing so who’s to be believed?

Hales says you can trust the Holy Ghost. In other words, if you ever get warm fuzzies or strong feelings that’s the Holy Ghost telling you what the Church teaches is true. And that’s how you know. And oh boy, do we run into problems with this principle. In fact, this is probably the principle that most contributed to our exit from Mormonism.

Aside from the fact that it’s kind of manipulative to interpret people’s feelings for them {e.g. “those warm fuzzies you’re feeling are God telling you we’re telling the truth!”} it’s also irresponsible and downright silly to tell people because they feel something it is in fact true. As Adam often puts it:

A Pentecostal feels the rapture coming and is CERTAIN that Christ will take her. A Terrorist straps a bomb to himself and is CERTAIN that Allah will accept him. A Mormon reads the Book of Mormon and is CERTAIN God is telling him it's true. Is there really a difference?

Once Adam and I were willing to honestly ask ourselves that last question “is there really a difference,” once we were able to bring ourselves to wonder “could these feelings be, well, just feelings?” that is when everything came apart.

Hales then goes on to say that the Holy Ghost won’t testify to you if you’re skeptical. Yup, that’s right. God hates critical thinking. So you’d better suspend it. Don’t use your brain. Just wait for the warm fuzzies and we’ll tell you what they mean.

I don’t know if Hales realizes how dishonest his talk was. He may very well believe every word he said. But I find the talk not only offensive but illogical and deceitful as well {whether intended or not}. He’s a man in a position of power telling those beneath him that they shouldn’t think, they should feel and that those feelings can be trusted as being from God. He’s telling millions that they should believe because Joseph Smith said so, or because Thomas S. Monson said so. He paints critical thinking as something dirty and then frightens these people into line by telling them if they think too much then God won’t talk to them anymore {very loving fellow, this God} and that without God they’ll live meaningless, purposeless, and altogether crappy lives.

And I feel that that is reprehensible.

*Of course, the apologists would say he was just "speaking as a man” not as a prophet, which is the same thing they’ll say in response to any of the crazy shit Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Darkness of Secularism

I don’t watch General Conference anymore {obviously}. But I hear things, both from fellow ex-Mormons who attend due to family pressure and from believers attending in faith. So when I caught wind of Elder Hale’s talk discussing atheism I was not exactly a happy camper. I may or may not have called him names on Facebook. I knew I wanted to write more thoughtfully about the whole thing {without the impulsive name calling} so I went ahead and watched the talk myself. It isn’t fair to criticize that which I haven’t given due diligence researching. You can be bored by be angered by watch it yourself here {it was in the Saturday PM session}.

Right out of the gate Hales is off and running with an attack on atheism. He uses loaded language like "the darkness of secularism.” There is nothing dark about secularism. The most basic meaning of the word refers to anything not being directly related to religion, so driving your car, doing your laundry, or playing ski-ball all qualify. What Hales may have been getting at was “the darkness” of secular humanism, which “is a humanist philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as the basis of moral reflection and decision-making. Like other types of humanism, secular humanism is a life stance that focuses on the way human beings can lead good, happy and functional lives.” Yup, gotta watch out for reason, ethics and justice…they’re bad ya’all.

Hales then says

Without God life would end at the grave. And our mortal experiences would have no purpose. Growth and progress would be temporary; accomplishments without value, challenges without meaning. There would be no ultimate right or wrong, no moral responsibility to care for one another as fellow children of God. Indeed, without God no immortality or eternal life.

Holy Secular $#*^! Where do I begin? Let’s start with the {unoriginal} criticisms myths of non-belief.

Myth: Life is meaningless without God.

Unless you’ve lived a life without belief I really don’t think you’re qualified to tell me it’s meaningless, especially because, guess what, it’s not. Just because I don’t have a supernatural parent assigning meaning to my life doesn’t mean I’m incapable of finding or forging my own. Same goes for having purpose. I’m very happy determining my purpose in life {raising my daughter to be happy and good, loving and supporting my life-partner, fighting to make the world better and more beautiful, etc.}. And I don’t need geriatrics to assign a one size fits all purpose for me thankyouverymuch.

Myth: Without God people have no morals.

Please. That line may work on people who don’t have any atheist friends but it won’t work {I hope} on anyone who actually knows an atheist. I certainly hope my friends know I’m not running around eating babies, stealing cars, or cheating on my husband {my life isn’t that exciting, guys}. I still give to charity, strive for honesty {unless you ask me if that dress makes you look fat}, and try to do what is right and good. And I do it because it’s right, not because God told me to, not because God told me if I really loved him I would {manipulative parenting much?}, not because I’m afraid I’ll go to hell if I don’t. However, if by morality you mean not drinking coffee, not watching R rated movies, and not speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed then, OK, you’ve got me. I’m a sinner first class.

Let’s move on. Hales talks about how there is no ultimate wrong or right without God. What he fails to mention is that there isn’t an ultimate right or wrong with God either. Mormonism {any religion really} is full of contradictions in morality that make that perfectly clear. It’s wrong to murder…unless it’s a drunk guy that’s passed out in the street and he has something you really, really want and God tells you to do it. It’s wrong to have more than one wife…unless God tells you to do it. And so on. And frankly, I admit it…I don’t believe in ultimate wrong or right. I believe in shades of grey. I believe it’s wrong to lie, but if I had to lie to save my daughter’s life I’d sure as hell do it.

Hales also says that without God life would end at the grave, there would be no eternal life. Of course, he says that under the assumption that there IS a god and there will be eternal life. I believe there is no god and no life after death. If I’m right then believing otherwise won’t make it so. I’d also like to point out that believing this is all there is has actually added meaning to my life. I strive to extract every last ounce of joy and purpose from my time on earth because I know it’s limited rather than wasting my days looking forward to a celestial future that won’t come.

I have more to say about this talk. And there’s another talk by someone else that I think I’ll need to address. But this post is long enough. So, for now, that’s all. I’m going to go have a baby sandwich. ;)

A Fearless Champion of Truth!

The following was written by my fellow ExMo and friend, Devin Z.

Have I ever told you about my experience with Telus (a Canadian phone company)? A couple of years ago we lived in Grande Prairie. We thought we were going to live there forever – most definitely a long time. So we went ahead and signed a long term contract for our Internet use, and in exchange we would receive a free computer. Telus had a deal with Dell, and we went through the motions to get our computer. However, after a month of waiting our computer never arrived. There was some error in the order. So again, we went through the motions to get a computer – another wait, and another failure. Three times is the charm? Not it case. We never received a computer.
It didn’t take us too long to realize Grande Prairie was a mistake for our family, and we started our preparations to move. I called Telus several times in this moving process and confirmed that we wouldn’t have to pay to get out of our contract because we were moving to an area without high speed Internet, and we had never received a computer. However, when the time came to move we were told that it was our fault for never getting the computer; Dell had charged Telus for the computer, and they were going to recover that charge through us.
I was pissed!
Try as I might, complain as I did, there was no way for us to avoid the charge, and I wasn’t about to have creditors chasing us down. It was money that we didn’t have. We were in the right unquestionably. If Telus didn’t have a virtual monopoly in rural Alberta, I wouldn’t drop a cent in their general direction. They have lost a customer forever.
It still makes me angry even though it has been a couple of years. It was only a few hundred dollars.
Now, imagine if you will that instead of being a few hundred dollars it was tens of thousands of dollars. And, instead of being just a business contract, it involved countless hours of all your time, talents, and energy. And then imagine how you must feel when you discover that that organization that you have freely given yourself to has lied, distorted the truth, manipulated you to believe in ideas that are provable falsehoods, and asked you to stake your personal integrity to witness for these “truths?”
My brother asks me: “Why is it that ex-Mormons seem to congregate to pull down their previous faith? I feel like you are included, but I thought you were above that?”
Here is the bind created by Mormon dogma: If I stay quiet, people will continue to fall prey to logical fallacies, emotional manipulation, and pseudoscience; if I take the time to speak the truth, Mormons believe that this is evidence that their church is true because “the wicked take the truth to be hard” or that obviously I have fallen prey to Satan’s influence.
Mormonism demands that its adherents are honest but then they are offended when we speak the truth. Mormonism stresses personal integrity but labels integrity a sin when a person leaves an organization that fraudulently misrepresented itself. Mormonism tells its followers to get an education but then silences those that learn something.
My own personal integrity says that I must speak out and warn those around me and maybe correct a problem that I contributed in perpetuating. It has nothing to do with spite or anger. And, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I would speak the truth. I was raised with the injunction to speak the truth and be honest in my dealings with my fellowman. My actions today stem from my unabashed pronouncement of belief despite my parents’ embarrassment in inappropriate situations or yelling out the windows to warn passersby’s of the evils of smoking. I am exactly what I was supposed to be – a fearless champion of truth!

So much of this could have been written by me, Adam, or a thousand other ex-Mormons. A big thank you to Devin for writing it so clearly and letting me share it here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I’m Supposed to Come Up With A Title

So, would it be weird if I wrote about stuff that has little to nothing to do with Mormonism?

Because I think I’d like a place where I feel like I can get into some really deep/thought provoking/etc. issues. And those kinds of things don’t always seem to fit on my other blog.

I’m not going to write anything like that tonight, because I’m tired and my brain feels broken. Just sayin’ I probably will in the future.