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144 Maturing in the "faith"
Healing calls for discontinuing that which is unhealthy without creating a vacuum. Growth is replacing, not purging. This article expands upon previously identified religious issues and prepares for positive replacements to be presented in the following article.
Dump the bad
Fortunately, my increased energy, better sleep, and dramatically improved blood pressure bear witness to significant healing. Rather than regretting a life of debilitating depression, I choose to rejoice in my emerging health, freedom, and personhood. Clarity allows some entries below to be more acerbic than their presentations in article 140.
Omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence do not exist. Prayer is nonverbal communication with absolute being.
My parents felt obligated to make me an exact copy of them. Of course, that contributed to the depressing cognitive dissonance. Through 80 years of observation, I am slowly emerging from Plato's cave. Human perspective is always developing, and further growth is still to be expected.
Ernstraud Philosophy rejects concepts of sin and guilt that underlie the Bible's depreciation / denigration of the human condition. Humans are not fallen creatures. We are sentient intelligences growing from here up. In contrast, organized religion uses the lamentable marketing model described in article 140. John Dehlin summarizes (5 minutes) this beautifully: "The Mormon Church needs you to need them."
The Church actively promotes the idea that God knows you better than you know yourself. It applies everything in its power to destroy your confidence in yourself. Imposter syndrome dominated most of my life. Because the prophet speaks to and for God, we must all obey the prophet in all things. As we do so, we will never be at fault even if the prophet gets something wrong (4 minutes). Reference to sources outside the church is highly discouraged, brooking no alternative perspectives on reality. (The narrowness does not provoke me to the anger demonstrated by some people; it no longer threatens my identity.) This aspect of church practice is pure cult behavior.
A major dissonance is church adherence to the false gender binary as discussed in article 140 and article 143. The church insists that its policies support family, but the same-sex couple exclusion denies such families even where they do exist successfully. In fact, the reversal of the November 2015 (5 minutes) policy excluding children of same-sex couples from baptism was a case where "revelation" flip-flopping was a necessary relief moving toward a positive direction. The church remains an injurious, toxic environment for nonbinary people.
A lesser but similar illustration regards using the name of the church. Wendy Nelson happily described her husband's ability as prophet to implement ideas he could not introduce earlier as an apostle. He had been unhappy with former prophets' (McKay, Hinkley) encouraging and approving the use of the word "Mormon" to describe the Church. His reversing pronouncements (2 minutes) show that revelation is colored by the receiver, and we need to examine each revelation on its merits, not blind faith.
Masturbation is a healthy, beneficial characteristic of human biology (more than 5 minutes--this is important). This should be a minor incidental fact; sadly, labeling masturbation bad is the ubiquitous tool of choice for gaining mind control (71 minutes of essential discussion) over victims susceptible to the BIG LIE of human depravity or "fallen man" theory. Telling people that they must not masturbate is unrealistic, and asking whether they masturbate is inappropriate, demeaning invasion of privacy.
Full church participation requires sustaining the top 15 leaders as "prophets, seers, and revelators." That authorizes them to act in unity to govern the affairs of the church as they see fit. It does not acknowledge them as sources of truth or make them gatekeepers of my reality.
I personally have observed much harmful treatment of suffering members who need mental health counseling instead of punishment.
It was painful to be exposed to the former teachings, now abandoned, against evolution and contraception.
I have been exposed to enough church dealings to perceive the church as not transparent and forthcoming in business or science. Subconsciously I suffered under the pervasive brainwashing but was not able to articulate the outright lies.
Of course, unofficial right-wing political pressures from many church leaders and members tortured me.
I remember an informal church fireside that featured a recording of Douglas Stringfellow, who was running for political office. His war stories were similar to those of Paul H. Dunn, and likewise untrue. Informal promotions by the church must be distinguished from its teachings.
Many church members ignore the vegetarianism taught by the Word of Wisdom. I adhere to it because I am exposed neither to winter nor to famine, the conditions justifying eating meat. In my exercise routine, verse 20 is "you had better run, and don't you dare be weary."
Joseph Smith was a charlatan, sexual predator (4 minutes, also here) and trafficker, making totally outrageous promises and threats (1 minute) to vulnerable followers. (For example, nobody's exaltation can be guaranteed by his daughter's sexual surrender to a prophet.) He practiced and denied polygamy, and his plural marriages, including polyandry, repeatedly violated the rules presumably revealed to him. Nature produces offspring well balanced between the sexes, and polygamy, even in the Bible, fails to be rationally supported.
I was taught that Joseph Smith was constantly running away from religious persecution, not from arrests for illicit treasure digging.
Joseph Smith was not able to translate anything. The gold plates never existed. Their purported content is better presented as direct revelation without accompanying stage props (1 minute) such as questionable or missing artifacts, concocted supernatural encounters, and gullible witnesses. He would have been far more convincing claiming that he was inspired to discern truth and draw important conclusions. That is how Book of Abraham and Book of Moses were introduced to me. As with the Bible, there would be arguments for and against authenticity. Ultimately, value lies in the content, not the dressing.
I was taught that the seer stone had been lost. The church now displays it.
As autocratic head of church, militia, and civil government, Joseph Smith seriously violated the First Amendment by destroying the Nauvoo Expositor. His lynching shortly thereafter appears to be a crude example of citizen action supposedly protected by the Second Amendment. I was not originally taught that Joseph Smith fired a gun during his final confrontation. I was aware of his reputation for escaping.
Book of Mormon
Martin Harris is credited with never denying his testimony of the Book of Mormon. However, there is more (another testimony) to the story: "All living witnesses to the Book of Mormon (except possibly Cowdery)-three of the Whitmers, Martin Harris, and Hiram Page-accepted at least briefly Strang's 'leadership, angelic call, metal plates, and his translation of these plates as authentic.' " -Wikipedia quoting Grant Palmer. Because witnesses are insufficient, personal study and reason are necessary to evaluating content.
I evaluate The Book of Mormon as a historical novel dealing with issues of nineteenth century New England, having some story similarities (page 5) to another book of its time. It is considered anachronistic, being neither history nor cultural thinking of ancient times and people. Its flawed, unexamined message is racist, exceptionalist, and judgmental. The thinking throughout is categorical, not nuanced. Nevertheless, much of its content, like the Bible, can be used as instructive mythology.
I do not want to sit through another seminary graduation praising Captain Moroni, a prime example of immature, intolerant, inflammatory incitement to violent aggression. He approached foreign and domestic differences with hostile confrontation and brute force instead of the empathy needed for reconciliation and healing.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehis are not optimal role models although they are publicly praised for exemplary nonresistance to being slaughtered for their beliefs. Modern standards of pacifism require taking constructive peacebuilding action to bridge differences.
Laman and Lemuel are presented in the Book of Mormon as one-dimensional embodiments of evil. There is no attention given to understanding their perspective or behavior. This dogmatic dismissal culminates in simplistic white against black racism. People and events are not evaluated; they are presented as monochromatic instances of good or evil.
The Book of Mormon harmfully perpetuates the Fallen Man theory, proclaiming the "natural man" an enemy to God. It stimulates severe self-depreciation.
Forward to the good
Scientists, particularly physicists, have a major advantage in being familiar with wave-particle duality. That teaching enables me to appreciate simultaneously true contradictory statements. Therefore, it is no threat to me that someone else believes the Book of Mormon to be the true word of God. That person grows better with, I grow better without. We remain friends; our world is at peace.
The food orders I help deliver to members in need of assistance are fresher than I can buy in a store. Members practice admirable dedication to each other, freely giving unselfish service that elevates lives-not only in material equality, but also in educational opportunity. Members trust each other to be bonded in honesty and generosity. The community cares for its members.
Fidelity means being true to my family, which is characterized by loyalty and coherence in multifaceted diversity. At church, I experience intense joy sharing the elevated emotional state (2 minutes) that members claim as the powerful witness of the holy Ghost. We experience connectedness, even if not grounded in common objective beliefs. Article 142 recounts my personal faith healing which need not be supernatural to illustrate the nest warmth in this religious community. The following article 145 summarizes, with references, my expectation of eternal progression based on continuing sentience.
I am expected to function in a country that possesses nuclear weapons and in a church that promotes discordant attempts at mind control.
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