Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Intellectuals are a danger to the church

Well, the move is two days a way and while I didn't have time to do what I wanted to do which was research some of the whackier untruths about Mormonism and post some of the whacky truths, I may be able to scrape together a short piece for this weeks Carnival of the Veil.

I'm not even going to take the easy way out and talk about Jeffrey Nielsen's firing from BYU for speaking out on gay marriage. It's an issue I don't oppose, but don't campaign for, either. Besides, I'm sure everything will work out all right for Professor Nielsen since the story attracted national attention.

No, instead I think I'll wonder why intellectuals would be a danger to the church. Of course, this comes from the stupid quotes of Boyd K. Packer file, and perhaps I should let it go since it's years since he said "Feminists, homosexuals, and so-called intellectuals are a danger to the church."

It would be one thing if this was just said and let go, but the church has a habit of discommunicating people who write truthfully about it. In recent years they tried to excommunicate someone for claiming that Native Americans had no Semitic DNA (and why is this a surprise to anyone?) and they disfellowshipped Grant Palmer for writing An Insider's View of Mormon Origins.

Unlike feminists and homosexuals, who as far as I can tell represent no real danger to the church even from his confused viewpoint, I think intellectuals who write and research honestly about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They've unfortunately backed themselves into a corner by demanding black and white thinking of the members and if they dared let the truth go out instead of what they feed the faithful, there'd be many questions.

Strangely, what I don't see is any sort of preparation for the eventual release of the information. It wouldn't be a surprise to anyone that an organization has a less than stellar history and that not every member was a Saint (in the Catholic sense, not the Mormon sense.) No, instead they still attack the messengers.

There are those out there who might have stayed in the church if it were honest about its history. The church might lose a few members if it suddenly came out and revealed that not all the details of the Joseph Smith story were entirely accurate, but I think the vast majority would continue to stay either for cultural or social reasons. As it is, they only anger those who find out about the real history doing simple web searches (well, I don't know how simple they are, a lot of information about Mormonism is misleading and you have to sort out the crap on both sides.)

Now, can someone tell me why feminists or homosexuals are a danger to this organization? He's lost me on that one.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Less than a week to go

I've not left you hanging too much I hope. The move looms over me like Godzilla over Tokyo and it's not helping my anxiety problems in particular. Not to mention the huge inspection coming up at work which has made me spend more time there than I want to. On the bright side, I have the money for the first months rent.

I won't bore you too long today. It seems the counter stats I use went down due to someone hacking it so I won't be able make posts to respond to people searching here for odd things. I don't know when it'll be back up.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Leaving the church when you're born into it

I suppose this is my first post for the Carnival of the Veil. I'd like to thank Gunner for inviting me to participate and if you're new to my blog to take a look around and see what I write about.

I've mentioned several times that I was a BIC Mormon. You'll also get the general idea just from reading the header that I have other issues. But for the moment, I'd like to compare the difference between a BIC Mormon leaving and someone who is a convert.

I think in many ways it is harder for the BIC to leave the church since his or her identity will be firmly wrapped in Mormonism by the time he or she is old enough to make the decision. It will also be a harder break. You have to remember they were trained to trust the leadership of this church without question. (How well that indoctrination takes is another matter entirely.) They probably also value at least some of their experiences. A convert will know there are other things out there and in some cases will realize that he or she had valid spiritual experiences elsewhere.

When the BIC realize that he or she's been lied to for a long time and more importantly lying done with the official sanction of the church, there will come anger and confusion and depending on how deeply they're indoctrinated a concern that they may be being tempted by Satan.

Well, you get the idea. My first break with the church came in a moment of insomnia, I realized I didn't believe in the afterlife scheme and thought it was highly unlikely that I'd ever be the god in charge of my own world. Now if you don't believe that, there isn't really any point in being a Mormon is there?

But it was reading the actual history of the church that really got to me. A deliberate cover-up was going on to keep the members in the dark. I was angry that the church expected honesty from me but was under no obligation to return it.

At the time I wanted not to be a part of any such organization and sent my resignation letter in. As anyone familiar with the practices of the Mormon church will tell you they make sending a resignation letter in an exercise in frustration, do not respect your wishes not to be contacted, and send you a nice little letter with the smiling heads of the church inviting you to return. Eventually you get confirmation from Salt Lake that you're no longer a member. And then futility sets in because you realize no matter what you do they'll just baptize you posthumously again in one of their temples.

Then there are always those times of self-doubt and second guessing you go through. In my case they happen because I realized that at times the historical accuracy of the religion doesn't matter, of course, if this is the case, I should join the Community of Christ instead which acknowledges there is likely almost nothing that is historically accurate in the Book of Mormon. (Well, while that may be an option moving to an area where there actually is a CoC building is not.)

At times I think I've lost something by leaving Mormonism, but as I try to entangle the harmful aspects of Mormonism from my psyche from those that are beneficial I find there are other areas where my anger at the church is renewed. I want to be able to leave the church behind me, but it invaded into so many areas of my life and unfortunately will always be a part of me whether I want it to be or not. How can I leave the church alone when even though I'm no longer a member it's still affecting me? Not to mention it's fascinatingly bizarre history and theology.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

General Ramblings

I must admit right now I'm feeling a little anxiety over the upcoming move. It's less than 15 days away now and while it's what I want, a part of me wonders if I'm ready for it. Such is life and unfortunately there are no guarantees. I knew money was going to be tight for this reason, but at least if it works out I'll recover from most of what happened last October.

I don't want or need to go into the details of that right now. A little introspection may have put me in a sad mood if you've read some of my recent posts, but a few discussions and a look at the Recovery from Mormonism board (I check this one to keep up on Mormon news events), has given me the idea that the church has screwed a lot of people up in this area, although some are not quite as hostile to it as I am.

On the other hand, I also think humor could be a great healing tool here, but my sense of humor is on the dry, sarcastic side and may not be of much help after all. Even so, I may make the effort simply because one of the more ridiculous Mormon scriptures is “to avoid excessive laughter and light mindedness.” I am quite frankly convinced that this remained in the D&C after Joseph's death because a lot of Brigham Young's “prophecies” are laughable. I am also convinced that Brigham Young said a lot of things just because he knew his followers would believe anything he said.

Yet as any BIC Mormon can tell you, you'll probably never get over the mindset completely. It was forced upon you during your early formative years when you are likely to believe almost anything an adult tells you. Just when I think that I am over it, my mind will stumble on yet another area that the church interfered in. I'm sure my parents were well meaning when they made us go to church each Sunday against our will, but they can't imagine the harm done.

As a final note, I've been invited to participate in the “Carnival of the Veil” a series of posts collected on someone else's blog (usually one of the participants) about various people's experiences with leaving Mormonism and their journeys afterwards.
I see no harm in this as my blog does not deal in Ex-Mormon issues exclusively, I do on the other hand write a lot about it and have no problem sharing my stories.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Apparently I'm Engaged in a Futile Struggle for Identity

I actually managed to find some statements of the Mormon church on transgenderism today. I don't know whether I should be bitter or simply laugh in the face of such statements but the odd thing is a statement of Boyd K. Packer's actually does describe how I've felt.

I must admit the position is no different than what I expected, transgendered folk like gays and lesbians are not expected to act on their impulses. Apparently, according to one former Mormon prophet, "We'll surely regret it if we attempt to change our gender." I think I've screwed up the quote, but it's Spencer W. Kimball.

But I'll leave the dead alone, it's a still living Mormon general authority I wish to write about today. Boyd K. Packer has said that transsexuals are engaged in a futile struggle for their identity.

I've long ago stopped worrying about speaking ill of the Lord's annointed and to put it simply, Boyd K. Packer is an idiot who thinks that because he's speaking for God he knows more than all the scientists doing current research into things like sexuality and gender orientation. If you have not read anything by Packer, I strongly recommend you find "To the One." (lds-mormon.com carries it. Yes, I know I said I would link to no Mormon related sites, but I am thinking about changing that policy and linking to pro and anti sites just so people can get a clue what I'm talking about. I wan you though that lds-mormon.com is not a Mormon site. It is an honest critique about the good and bad points of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, its behaviors, and its doctrines.)

The statement wants me to make some nifty little Battlestar Gactica style monologue that goes something like this "Going through a Hellacious Life, the transexual Melanie leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet towards a Futile struggle for her own identity." I can't think of anything good to replace rag-tag fugitive fleet with, so if you can let me know.

I must admit I have felt my struggle was futile, but that's because an early lifetime spent in Mormonism made me guilty about feeling the way I do. It's not because I've sinned, but because God chose to give me that struggle to deal with. It's nice that people like Packer can make pronouncements on it, but it's time the Church adopted a position of infallibility on matters of theology only and stopped having its general authorities speak on topics they clearly know nothing about. (Oh yeah, Packer is is also well-known for his 'little factory' speech, which sadly I don't have a link to...)

Packer, do us all a favor and shut up. I don't think I'm the only ex-Mormon who thinks you'll lead their relatives on a pointless trip to Missouri when you gain power because of your mental instability. I just hope God prevents you from obtaining the prime position of power within the church.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A realization

(My apologies for this. I feel the quality of writing is roughly similar to my "Suicide is Painless" post.)

Well, the move approaches and it looks unsurprisingly like money will be a little tight. I will not have Internet access right away, but the town's library is two doors down so I will still be able to post on a daily basis if I so choose.

I've been thinking some more on the role religion has played in my life and how it has affected me. On the whole I want to believe it's a positive thing, but doing so negates one area that Mormonism did royally screw up. I think how I feel about sex and sexuality in general is somewhat unhealthy.

It's easy to point out that as someone who is BIC (which means Born in covenant, not born in the church -- basically my parents married in the temple), would have been indoctrinated from a young age to feel that way. In fact, I have no interest in sex whatsoever. Now it may be tempting to say there are psychological issues here and there may well be, but it was the Church itself that made me hostile and fearful of it. Teaching monogamy is fine, but instilling problems that may cause problems in marriages and other intimate relationships is not.

I think I've come to realize that the church had no right to do this to me, nor should I let it hold power over me any longer. I've mentioned before that it kept me hoping that someday things would change and I'd be "fixed" (which perhaps is an unfortunate metaphor), but it also helped keep me from developing relationships with others, by exacerbating an already existing psychological condition. The fears it instilled kept me from expressing in anyway how I personally felt.

I just wish my parents had selected a less intrusive religion to convert to before I was born. Sure, I may not have turned out to be a drug addict, a filanderer, a criminal or many other things, but it has caused me to miss out on some important areas of life. If I decide to experience them may I remember what the Greeks said and do it in moderation.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Do Souls Have a Gender?

I recently participated in a conversation that started out with a question about when a preop MtF should change the formula for a Jewish prayer. Since my background is Mormon I really couldn't answer that question although someone who is Jewish came up with an answer that made a great deal of sense.

I don't really want to go into the nature of that part of the discussion. That is not important for what I intend to discuss here. But as the thread progressed, the question came up as to whether or not souls have gender. (And soul here is interchangeable with spirit). To be perfectly honest, I really don't know although it does fit with my ideas on the matter of why people have problems with gender identity in the first place.

Although when science disagrees with me, I strongly suspect science is usually right, I don't think there's any conflict here. The physical causes of transgenderism are fairly well understood, but what if there is a spiritual connection?

What if somehow our spirits got put into the wrong bodies? If such is the case, it also begs the question, why? Assuming there is an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect God it was not a mistake. We can all hope he has some purpose for doing so and it is not just a joke being played on all of us. At times I want to believe the former, but I honestly do believe the challenges given to us in our lives are there to help us improve. I can only hope that the sort of fighting I've done with myself over it for the longest time will lead to something positive, rather than the usual fear and anxiety I face over it. As it seems to be a confusing part of this journey through my life, I do not yet know where it will lead. I can't even be sure if it's worth it, or if it's not just one of those internal Hells people are so skilled at creating for themselves.

I'm afraid I can't end this quite as neatly as I'd like to today. I'd love to be able to write some confident sounding paragraph at the end of this blog entry and be done with it, but I suspect whatever readers I have will have their own answers. I welcome your comments.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

For those who come here searching for the 5 types of Mormon

The title of this post links to a copy of it. I will not post it here because the copyright is in fact owned by Robert Kirby, although I feel it's perfectly acceptable to link to someone else who has already violated copyright law. (I don't know if the Tribune has this column of his archived, although it was not written for their newspaper.)

I do not approve of someone violating Mr. Kirby's copyright in this fashion, but I imagine this particular peace has been circulated so many times by now that he can't stop. I do know if it had been done with something I wrote though, I'd be less than pleased.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Coming Out

It seems I'm ready to come back to this blog for a little bit. I wonder if I'll ever come fully out of the closet myself. In my case, I admit that it's because I'm a coward.

Then again admitting to any sort of unacceptable proclivity in a small town is not exactly the way to maintain a social circle. Even my gaming friends don't know how I feel and I have not told them, nor do I have any desire to. In fact only one person who knows me knows and the fact that they do is an accident. (Although anyone who knows I'm The Sinister Porpoise could do a simple Google search and find out.)

This is because I think they would not understand. Although my gaming circle does include at least one gay member (and I did not believe he was gay until he told me despite that fact that he's flaming. Chalk that up to the social obliviousness of this particular porpoise.)

I realize eventually I'm going to have to let it out to my therapist if no one else. In fact I did, but that therapist got promoted and now I'm adapting to a new one. But even if I'm a coward, it may not be a fully wise idea to for other people to be fully out. I know some people will encourage this, but they have different situations.

While some people may not feel it is fully honest to live a lie, at times it is a matter of keeping your livelihood or I imagine in some cases your life. It's one thing to fight a battle for acceptance, it's quite another to be stupid doing so. Don't get me wrong, I admire the courage of those who fight for such things, but you have to pick your battles. You can't win them all.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Support your local ska band

Sorry about the lack of updates lately. It's not that I've not wanted to write here or even been too busy. It's not even that I had nothing to write about. It's just that I had nothing to write about that'd fit here. Maintaining several blogs on a variety of topics is becoming interesting, but I think it may become overwhelming someday. On the other hand, making money for an activity I enjoy is certainly rewarding.

Anyway, I hope this sort of strange mental block goes away soon. It's not even related to the move that's coming up on the first of July. True, I'll be busy preparing for it. I even have a recliner and microwave for the new apartment. I don't know if I'll keep you updated on this or not, I'm sure most people don't care.

I've also noticed this blog has been added to the DMOZ open directory project and apparently I'm now on Yahoo's search engine. (Google searches do not surprise me as Blogger is owned by Google.) So, somehow the word is getting out there, although it's not like I've done anything to promote the site in a long time.

Now, to the person who posted the comment the other day on a page in the archives. I let it be but it is my personal policy to delete links to any pornographic sites and delete comments from bot spammers who come through excessively. If I see it again, I will remove it.

I'll get back to more substantive posts eventually. Just bare with me as I go through a process that likely will spark a variety of mixed emotions.