The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Posts Tagged ‘Mormons

DILLIGAF

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To the Christians who think that I deserve to suffer an eternal weight of excruciating pain because I can’t bring myself to believe in the idea of a loving deity who condones immorality…

To the Catholics who say birth control is wrong in the face of over population and preventable diseases like AIDS…

To the Kabbalah members who advise that I should buy their blessed water at nearly £4 a bottle to be healed…

To the Westboro Baptist Church members who say that I’m evil for being in favour of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals having equal rights…

To the Mormons who tell me that I should repent – never mind not having anything to repent of! – and return to the fold or lose my eternal reward…

To the Muslims who say that I can’t call my teddy bear Muhammed…

To the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come knocking on my door in an effort to save themselves and try to foist a Watchtower magazine on me…

To the Scientologists who call me an SP because I criticise and make fun of their wacky beliefs…

I say, DILLIGAF!

If you don’t comprehend what it is that I’m talking about, then let Kevin Bloody Wilson explain (strong language):

And DILLIGAF to anyone I’ve neglected to mention who rightly should have been included in the above list.

Curmudgeonly

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Written by Curmudgeonly

March 30, 2008 at 1:53 pm

The Raven Lunatics

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By Nick Gisburne

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 22, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Resisting the Mormon melting pot

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cookie-cutter.jpgWhereas IslaSkye had spent much of her church life thoughtlessly acquiescing to the opinions of religious leaders who she believed knew better than her by virtue of their position within the Mormon church, I struggled a lot with the process of “melting” into Latter-day Saint society.

I’ve always been stubbornly independent, so I found the very concept of becoming one with the Saints utterly oppressive. Nevertheless, occasionally, I would make a concerted effort to homogenise into Mormon culture, believing that it was for the greater good – towards building a Zion society – but as soon as I felt my individuality slipping and literally being lost in religion, I would retreat and resist the attraction that the idea of utopia held. It was truly a battle.

I completely believed the claim that the LDS Church was the only church on the face of the earth with which the Lord was “well pleased”, so you’d think that that would be enough of a reason to relinquish the mental hold that I had on myself and fully give in to the truths of Mormonism, sacrificing all and anything that held me back, but no. I truly didn’t want to become another cookie-cutter Mormon, as I thought that I would be, individually, much the poorer for it, notwithstanding that I felt that I was going against an important tenet of the Church – becoming one with the Saints. Often I would tell myself that I could get by with a semblance of balance with other members of the Church, but I couldn’t. Without the real thing I would forever be conflicted within and faced with choices that I didn’t want to make. When I think back on my church life, it’s easy for me to see that it consisted of much going backwards and forwards between blind faith and reason.

It was never easy for me to submit to the so-called “inspiration” received by church leaders because my mind would automatically act as a sort of filter by weighing it up to determine the usefulness or importance of said communication from on high. I’ve never been comfortable with just plunging blindly into somebody else’s conceptualisation of how an individual should regulate his life and thereby gain an unimaginable reward in heaven, and it makes not an iota of difference whether the person claims to be God’s mouthpiece on earth or not, so it was actually a foregone conclusion that my becoming one with the Saints would never materialise – something that I wish I realised at the time, as I wouldn’t have suffered so much heartache when I lost my faith.

Nevertheless, against my better judgement, I did my damnedest to conform to religious instruction as much as possible, mainly because I thought that that would one day constitute my ticket into the highest echelon of Mormon heaven in the hereafter. Obedience to leaders is a big deal in the Church, so much so that you’re reminded of it over and over again from the pulpit – think Chinese water torture and you can well imagine the amount of stimulation such indoctrination held where I was concerned. A church member’s exaltation hangs on how well they’ve heeded the words of their prophets, or holy geriatrics in suits who live in Salt Lake City.

Anyway, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t put behind me the stumbling block that required me to become indistinguishable from the crowd. And as I thought more about the doctrine of having all things in common with the Saints, the more acute my feelings of opposition became.

Eventually, I caught onto the thought that the very thing that I had grown to hate would be fully realised in heaven and so I became unhappy with the idea of heaven – where everybody would be a perfect clone of everybody else. Perfection in heaven seemed to me to be nothing more than the discontinuation of challenges, learning, individuality, progress, fun, wonder and amazement, discovery, excitement, among many, many other things. Or, in short, being perfect would bring to an end everything that makes me feel truly alive. It’s ironic, really, that heaven itself appears to be a kind of permanent death.

Curmudgeonly Yours

Written by Curmudgeonly

October 29, 2007 at 7:12 pm

Religion hurts

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After nearly 30 years of embracing a particular set of beliefs, I found it very difficult to let go. And yet I knew I had to let go, if I was to move forward with my life. I’ve heard it said that leaving your religion is like experiencing a bereavement and that’s certainly how it felt to me.

But as my life as an active Mormon receded further and further into the distance I was able to see that the faith which I thought filled my life with happiness and meaning, had actually been positively harming me. Six years on, I find little pleasure or interest in talking or thinking about the church and its teachings. This saddens me because, at one time, it was my whole life and, I thought, would be my eternal future as well. But I cannot forget how my religion and its leaders duped me on a grand scale. Nor can I forget the pain its teachings and actions caused to me and to others that I know.

I don’t want to claim that Mormonism, or any other religion for that matter, does not have any positive effects on a person’s life. However, as a former believer, I can now see that it can certainly be harmful and I think this needs to be acknowledged and understood.

Below are a few personal examples of what I mean.

The Mormon church will tell you that it is a family-oriented organisation. That sounds very laudable but, in fact, the emphasis on the LDS version of happy families pays little thought to the needs or feelings of individuals. If you are not part of a standard family unit you are made to feel “different” and being different in a church that lives and breathes conformity is a very uncomfortable place to be.

Both men and women are encouraged to marry by their early to mid-20s. Any single person older than that is patronised into feeling that they are something of a failure, and that they should rectify the situation as soon as possible. This imperative to marry can cause some unsuitable marriages born out of the desperation to be part of that holy grail – the perfect family. Until I eventually married in my 30s, I felt the subtle force of marginalisation that many single church members experience. Add to that the stress of avoiding sexual encounters with the opposite sex, or even developing a romantic relationship with a non-member of the church (particularly difficult in areas where the church has only a small congregation) and already the detrimental effects of Mormon culture become apparent.

Once married, the expectation is that a couple will start a family. Although in later years the use of contraception has not been frowned upon as much as it once was, there is barely-disguised surprise if a couple fail to produce an offspring within the first two years of marriage. Women, in particular, are told that the production and raising of children is their supreme purpose in life. I remember very clearly hearing a talk by one of the church’s Twelve Apostles, which explicitly declared that bearing children was the most important thing any woman would ever do. For someone, such as myself, who discovers that they are unable to conceive, this is a devastating and demoralising doctrine. I spent many hours pleading with God to explain to me why I was denied this incomparable blessing, when children were being born every day to feckless and even violent parents who would never give them the committed and loving upbringing that my husband and I could offer. I received no consolation, either from God, or from uncomprehending church leaders. Thankfully, the anguish that I felt in this situation was immediately eased when I finally rejected the church and its teachings, negating power that it once had over me.

One other example of the damage religious dogma can cause occurred in the life of a young woman who was part of our church congregation. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I am now convinced that the church’s stance on the perfectly normal issue of masturbation directly caused, or at the very least contributed to, this young woman’s ongoing struggle with mental illness. The terrible guilt engendered in her by the church’s disgust of her habit and the effort of abstention, has made her life a misery for many years. Success in avoiding the activity brings great “highs”, but lapses cause terrible “lows” that have blighted any hope of a normal, productive life or enduring romantic relationship.

Mormons are taught to decry those who are thought to have allowed themselves to become “offended” by the actions of the church or one of its members. Being “offended” is regarded as a weakness, even a sin, on the part of the one who is on the receiving end of the offence. No credit is given for the possibility that they may be justly indignant or hurt. Anger is also condemned as a sin which must never be indulged. These attitudes, I feel, are unhealthy and unfair. I will admit that I was angry when I discovered that the church had doctored its own history to eradicate the unsightly blemishes that it really contained. I was hurt by the church’s intimation that I was somehow lacking because I was unmarried and then, later, unable to bear children. I am furious when I think about the stigma that the church placed upon a young woman who felt obliged to confess her private intimate activities to her male leaders in an attitude of shame and guilt, leading to a skewed idea of her value as a person and as a Latter-day Saint.

It’s perhaps this attack upon a person’s self-worth that is the key to the damage religions can wreak in an individual’s life, because our feelings about ourselves are determined by our perceived success in adhering to a set of improbable rules, many of which run counter to our inherent nature as human beings. In the LDS church, we were encouraged to “put off the natural man”, in other words to set aside perfectly natural human behaviour in the quest to become “spiritual beings”. It is this burden, I’m sure, which leads to so much guilt, frustration and unhappiness in the lives of the faithful as they find themselves constantly trying and failing to stifle their instincts. The stress of attempting to live a “higher law” turns life into a series of barriers to overcome, rather than experiences to learn from and enjoy. Accepting myself for who I am, rather than trying to be something different (and, by Mormon definition, better), is one of the happiest results of my deconversion.

There are many other incidents I witnessed as a Mormon which indicate to me that obedience to a set of rules laid down by a different culture in a different era can cause untold damage to the psyche and well-being of believers today. And I’m sure that they occur in all religions, not just in the LDS church. Looking back on these experiences has allowed me to finally rid myself of the fallacy that religion is an unremittingly good thing, that it is the cure for all the ills of the world and that those who extricate themselves from the cloying embrace of religious belief are rejecting something innately valuable. On the contrary, I have found greater peace of mind and appreciation of myself and others since stepping away from religious influence. Losing my religion has allowed me to gain so much more of what I think is really important.

IslaSkye

Written by islaskye

October 28, 2007 at 8:46 pm