Subject:

E-mail exchange with a CES Director...(names changed & long)...Pt 1

Date:

Jun 27 17:15 2005

Author:

Fubeca


If anyone cares, here's an e-mail exchange with a CES Director who had written a brief rebuttal on the DNA issue. I got a hold of it and wrote this reply. I'll post all of our letters so that others can see the futility of it.

If you'll remember, a week or so ago I was paranoid that he had turned these letters over to my bishop. He hasn't. But I feel justified in posting them with IRL info taken out so that others can learn from them.

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Dear CES Guy,

I received a printout of an e-mail you wrote regarding the recent DNA and the Book of Mormon controversy in the church. It was passed on to me by my wife but you indicate that the purpose of your writing it was for others to share so I assume its OK that she received it from a friend and then passed it on to me. I hope you recall writing it.

We don't know each other, but I thought you may be willing to respond to comments on the issues you discussed. I find myself in a unique position that there is no one I can talk to without being questioned as to my worthiness or sincerity and being served platitudes or half truths. To be honest about the position I'm coming from, I am a lifelong member of the church. I served a faithful mission, married in the temple and have given of my time and talents to a great extent ever since. I am still a member in good standing, although I honestly don't believe any more that the church is what it claims to be. In this position it's much like what I imagine living in a former Eastern Bloc country must have been like. I am railed for thinking too much, criticized for listening to those outside the party and my family is held as blackmail to make me tow the party line. Anyway, in response to your analysis of the DNA & Book of Mormon issue, I've written the following:

Firstly, the facts regarding the origin of Native Americans do NOT come from critics of the LDS church. They come from scientists who don’t care if the church is true or not. For all I know they don’t even know about the Book of Mormon. Geneticists as well as other scientists worldwide agree that the evidence available points convincingly to an Asiatic population of the Americas. They also point out that the migration(s) into this continent happened thousands of years ago (outside the timeframe suggested in the Book of Mormon). This data supports other linguistic, biological, anthropological and other evidence that is abundant in America.

The “critics of the church” argument that you use is an assumption that is false and irresponsible. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the facts available in the world and relate them to what you’ve been taught your whole life. Just because I believe the evidence of a spherical earth does that make me an “Anti-flat-earthists?” Or because I choose to believe in science and modern medicine am I “Anti-holistic?”

There’s no need to go to any Anti-Mormon on this issue. The thought that the following authors are “Anti-Mormons” or misled by Satan is absurd. They are honest scientists following the physical clues God himself left behind with the knowledge He gave them!

· Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
· A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
· The Origins of Native Americans : Evidence from Anthropological Genetics, Michael H. Crawford
· The Great Human Diasporas, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
· Mapping Human History : Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins, Steve Olson
· Genes, Peoples, and Languages, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza
· America Past, America Present: Genes and Languages, Colin Renfrew
· The Journey of Man : A Genetic Odyssey, SPENCER WELLS
· Method and Theory for Investigating the Peopling of the Americas, Robson Bonnichsen
· DNA and Tradition: The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews, Yaakov Kleiman, Devora
· The Human Inheritance: Genes, Language, and Evolution, Bryan Sykes
· The History and Geography of Human Genes, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

One can see in these books the prevailing understanding in the world outside the church. These books compile the scientific knowledge as it now stands on human migrations. There is nothing mentioned about Mormons. Scientists outside the church are not trying to prove or disprove the church. They are merely searching for the truth. Even a casual observer can conclude that scientists know a great deal about Native American origins and none of it even hints at Israelite origins.

Scientist don’t speak in absolutes so the claim that “a credible scientist will not ever say there is no Israelite blood in Native American…people” is true. They will say it hasn’t been found and that it’s highly unlikely that it exists. Could an LDS scientist produce a non-biased colleague to say that there’s a significant possibility that any Native Americans descended from Israelites? I don’t think so.

You said:

“Critics are never interested in discovering truth-they are only driven by a passion to discredit or disprove the church. No scientists have made claims concerning DNA and the Book of Mormon.”

The world does not exist in a vacuum where there are only Mormons and Anti-Mormons. The truth is, no scientist I know of thinks about the Book of Mormon when studying Native Americans, Israelites and world migration patterns because there is no reason to. That’s why they make no claims regarding it. It is irrelevant to them. They dismiss it as I would dismiss a claim that there’s a space ship following the Hale Bop comet prepared to whisk me away. No scientific evidence exists to give it any credence.

Who’s really biased? The LDS scientists who are “driven by a passion” and witnesses of the spirit to bring credit to the church or the scientists gathering the data who couldn’t care less if Native Americans are Asians or Israelites but only want to understand their world better? Are the LDS scientists interested in discovering truth or only in fortifying their own beliefs? THAT is neither science nor an honest search for truth.

In reality, the incentive for scientists to be pro-Mormon and to discover credible evidence for an Israelite population in America is actually pretty great. If there were evidence, they’d be climbing all over each other to be the first to publish their findings. Science is driven by the search for truth, and truth is arrived at by dismissing false theories when the abundance of evidence points in that direction. Scientists that can debunk a former theory become famous. Well-known scientists got that way because they established a theory that dismissed or replaced our former understanding of the world. The first scientist to discover convincing evidence of pre-Columbian horses, steel, iron, brass, wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, goats, elephants or camels, traces of Hebrew or Egyptian languages or Israelite DNA and therefore establish proof of an Israelite presence in America is going to be famous in his field. There is no incentive to be Anti-Mormon. There are huge personal incentives, however, for LDS scientists and CES personnel to defend the Book of Mormon. Who is biased?

The only people I know of who have written on the topic as it relates to the church and who could be considered “critics” include Simon Southerton and Thomas Murphy. They did not do any of the data-gathering research themselves but have examined it and, as Mormons themselves, interpreted it according to their knowledge of the church. Southerton was an LDS bishop and a geneticist at the time he examined the evidence. He knew the nature of DNA and fully expected to find traces of Israelites in America among the data because he believed in the Book of Mormon at the time. Murphy has fought to maintain his LDS membership in spite of accusations of apostasy. They could hardly be accused of being raging Anti-Mormons. Still, without them the evidence would still exist and the rest of the world would go on believing that Native Americans migrated from Asia 13,000+ years ago. Mormon claims to the contrary would continue to be ignored and thought of as quaint, unsupported religious ideas.

Secondly, you CAN use DNA to trace ancestry and migration patterns across the world. It has been done. The claim that you need a reference point is untrue and reflects a misunderstanding of genetics. Your claim that we don’t have Lehi’s DNA therefore we can’t refer to it in studies is misleading and shows you don’t understand the issue. Lehi’s DNA is irrelevant because it’s the female line that has the markers. You should have said, “We don’t have Sarah’s or the other wives’ DNA.”

Still more importantly, we know a great deal about the DNA lineages of living Israelites and living Israelites are descended from dead Israelites who lived 2,600 years ago. All the Book of Mormon characters from Jared to Moroni are claimed to have been Israelites. The Israelites of course mixed, as mentioned, but the Bible and ancient history tells us quite clearly with whom they mixed and we know about those peoples’ DNA.

The 1% of non-Asiatic DNA in Native Americans has been shown to have qualities that disqualify them from being considered Lamanites. There is a smattering (<0.4%) of European lineages in American Indian populations but scientists justifiably assume they arrived after Columbus. They are most common in tribes that had greater impact with Europeans (North American); they are not common in Mesoamerica, the only “plausible” site for the Book of Mormon; and the lineages found so far are most common in Western European populations such as Spain.

American Indian X lineages are descended from common ancestors who lived over 20,000 years ago in Asia. American Indian X lineages are even more distantly related to Israelite or European X lineages. In fact, most Israelite X lineages are now grouped in a different family, the N family, because they are so different to Asian and American X lineages. The X lineage has been found in ancient remains that pre-date the Book of Mormon period.

Tracing a people’s ancestry in this way occurred with the Lemba tribe in Africa. They had an oral history that they were descended from Israelites. No one believed it, of course, but when DNA tests were performed, it was found to be true. Some of their ancestors HAD migrated from Israel to Africa and mixed with the people there. Scientists were able to determine the approximate time frame and it matched nicely with the oral history of these people. They did not have their first ancestor’s DNA. It wasn’t necessary because we know what Israelite DNA looks like. It’s one of the most studied DNA in the world. As another example, if I doubt my child’s paternity, you don’t even need my DNA. If my child’s DNA matches that of the mailman, why do you need my DNA to reasonably say, “he’s the mailman’s son?”

The Book of Mormon claims over and over again that they are descended from the Jews. Since Jewish ancestry is traditionally a matrilineal line, one can only assume that their MOTHERS were Jews and therefore one could reasonably expect the mitochondrial DNA of Native Americans to show some traces of that. It doesn’t. The amount of DNA variation found in all 5 American Indian female DNA lineage families is sufficient to indicate that they have been present in the Americas for at least 13,000 years, possibly longer. This predates the existence of Israel by many thousands of years.

Thirdly, without knowing where these Jewish/American Lamanites now live, a major purpose of the Book of Mormon remains unfulfilled. For, as described in the scriptures, it was meant to bring these people back to Christ (D&C 3:20). So without knowing where they are, the Book of Mormon is unable to live up to its mission. The LDS church therefore should be the MOST interested in studies that try to find traces of Israelite DNA in Native Americans if they felt it was their mission to fulfill the book's own promises. As a young man, I remember the bold claims of church leaders that science would eventually vindicate all LDS claims especially those in the Book of Mormon. It's interesting to see the change in the church's confidence and attitude coming AFTER scientific findings that clearly contradict LDS beliefs. Suddenly, proof means nothing and suddenly "search, ponder and pray" means JUST pray.
Fourthly, the Book of Mormon also makes population claims that stretch into the tens of thousands. The people the book describes is far from a tiny population of people who’s genetic markers would be lost among a more dominant population that LDS scientists are now postulating that existed here. That also fails to explain descriptions of migrations out of the Book of Mormon lands by Nephites.
And why would the scriptures question if it were possible that other nations should come to America if there were already a different people among them with whom they were intermixing and mingling DNA (D&C 10:48-49)?
Lastly, you claim that there’s no church doctrine that ALL Native Americans are Lamanites. Having grown up in the church, I have a hard time not laughing painfully when I read that. The problem is, of course, that church doctrine is whatever you want it to be at the time. Still, it’s another incident where you have to disbelieve a portion of the church in order to maintain a belief in the whole. Somehow I'm supposed to believe that the prophets didn't know what they were talking about even though they spoke authoritatively and with confidence. Yet I'm supposed to believe other things they have revealed when they clearly couldn't tell the difference between a revelation and an opinion. The obvious question then is...so why believe ANYTHING?
Prophets from Joseph Smith on have made very definitive statements regarding who the Lamanites are. If we are to believe Benson’s 14 Fundamentals in Following a Prophet, then a prophet’s words are more vital than scripture and he can speak on any subject at any time. So, what have they said on the Lamanites?
Beginning with the D&C, the understanding is quite clear: D&C 19:27; D&C 28:8-9,14; D&C 30:6; D&C 32:2; D&C 49:24; D&C 54:8; D&C 57:4(See also the heading info); D&C 101:70-71; D&C 109:65-66.
"The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians... By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt…". From a letter written by JS to Rochester, New York, newspaper editor N. C. Saxton, January 4, 1833. You can read this letter in a book published by Deseret Book. (Page 297, "Personal Writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", edited by Dean Jessee).
In an official church publication, The Times and Seasons, Joseph Smith described the Book of Mormon as "the history of ancient America . . . from ITS FIRST SETTLEMENT by a colony that came from the tower of Babel [the Jaredites]" - Times and Seasons, (March 1, 1842) III:707. Why shouldn’t he, when that’s what the BOM says?
"...For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth...there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the REMNANT OF OUR SEED.

"And then shall THE REMNANT OF OUR SEED know concerning us, how that we CAME OUT OF JERUSALEM, AND THAT THEY ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF THE JEWS". (II Nephi 29: 3-4).
You might declare war on the word “remnant”, used in the Book of Mormon. So here is Joseph Smith himself on the word “remnant”, and what that BOM scripture was referring to:

“The REMNANT of Book of Mormon peoples are the INDIANS that NOW INHABIT THIS COUNTRY” (Encyclopedia of JS’s Teachings, Deseret Book, p. 336).
Prophet-to-be Joseph Fielding Smith, while an Apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve (and official church historian), published: "Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico; the Isthmus of Tehuantepec probably being the "narrow neck" of land spoken of in the Book of Mormon rather than the Isthmus of Panama...This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years... In the light of revelation it is absurd for anyone to maintain that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess this northern land... ('The Deseret News', Church Section, Feb. 27, 1954, pp. 2-3).

In the book Gospel Principles -- the Church's own official handbook of basic doctrine: "The Lamanites Will Become a Great People - The Lord said that when his coming was near, the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people. He said, 'Before the great day of the Lord shall come, . . . the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose' (D&C 49:24). Great numbers of Lamanites in North and South America and the South Pacific are now receiving the blessings of the gospel."

In General Conference, Spencer W. Kimball said: "I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today.... The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl--sixteen--sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents--on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather.... These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness."

Here's a short listing of some articles published in the Ensign -- many of which were written by General Authorities; all of which were approved by Apostles and Prophets -- that clearly refer to modern Indians of various specific tribes of North / Central / South America, as being LAMANITES. We are taught in church to consider the Ensign as if it were scripture:

Spencer W. Kimball, 'Of Royal Blood', Ensign, July 1971, 7
M. Dallas Burnett, 'Lamanites and the Church', Ensign, July 1971,
'L Is for Indian - And Other Family Projects', Ensign, Aug. 1973, 63
'A Conversation with Dallin H. Oaks, President of Brigham Young University', Ensign, Oct. 1975, 17
Spencer W. Kimball, 'Our Paths Have Met Again', Ensign, Dec. 1975, 2
Dean L. Larsen, 'Mingled Destinies: The Lamanites and the Latter-day Saints', Ensign, Dec. 1975, 8
President Spencer W. Kimball, 'A Report and a Challenge', Ensign, Nov. 1976, 4
President Spencer W. Kimball, 'The Uttermost Parts of the Earth', Ensign, July 1979, 2
Victor L. Brown, 'Blessing the One', Ensign, Nov. 1979, 88 Presiding Bishop
Gene R. Cook, 'Miracles among the Lamanites', Ensign, Nov. 1980, 67
Marvin K. Gardner, 'Taking the Church Anywhere', Ensign, June 1981, 38
Neal A. Maxwell, 'In Memoriam - Spencer, the Beloved: Leader-Servant', Ensign, Dec. 1985, 8
Dallin H. Oaks, 'Priesthood Blessings' Ensign, May 1987, 36

And don't forget BYU's long-running 'LAMANITE GENERATION' Program who mysteriously had their name changed in the late 80’s.

Walk down the halls at any LDS chapel on Sunday and ask the members who they’ve been taught to regard as Lamanites.

BYU continues to offer Book of Mormon travel trips to Central America where they collect members’ money in return for an entirely spurious trip to supposed Lamanite sites. It’s dishonest of them to continue doing this when there is a climate in the church where many LDS leaders and scholars are claiming not to know anymore where the Lamanites lived.

Referring back to Benson’s 14 Fundamentals in Following a Prophet, a living prophet’s proclamations take precedence over a dead one’s but our current prophet has said nothing on the issue so we can only assume that the former prophets’ words still stand.

I'm being told now that I'm betraying my wife because when we married I believed in the gospel wholesale. Yet, I also feel betrayed. When I married, I had deep convictions regarding truth, honesty, morality. At the time I believed those values and the church were one in the same. When I now see that not only does the church disregard the truth, but it also promotes dishonesty about its past and sacred scriptures and turns a blind eye to the immorality of its leaders such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, I am the one who feels betrayed. I think it’s ironic that I have to lower my standards when it comes to those values in order believe or follow even the smallest element of the gospel. As a man I can't look at myself in the mirror and do that. How can you?

I hope you don't feel as if I was writing to argue or debate. I think it was more of a primal scream out of frustration that no one in the church will answer or even address my very serious concerns. I feel trapped in a life that is being imposed upon me by my heritage and upbringing. The booming voices in the church leadership telling me to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain do nothing to help.


Dear Fubeca:

I would love a new friend. Please don't take offense where none is intended, but may I give some pointed observations since you initiated this correspondence in kind.

First, my email was a direct response to someone who asked me specific questions about specific individuals critically using DNA studies to attack the church on specific points. Your email was a general statement taken out of context and applied. The non-critical scientific information you referenced was not intended to be used for your own application as it applies to the Book of Mormon--be careful about how you use and apply information without investigating first its intended application.

Secondly, your intellectual attempt with references is not impressive to me--there was no room for the Lord's process of spirituality or the exercise of faith. President Hinckley observed:

"To me is a significant and marvelous thing that in establishing and opening this dispensation our Father did so with a revelation of himself and of his Son Jesus Christ, as if to say to all the world that he was weary of the attempts of men, earnest though these attempts might have been, to define and describe him...The experience of Joseph Smith in a few moments in the grove on a spring day in 1820, brought more light and knowledge and understanding of the personality and reality and substance of God and his Beloved Son than men had arrived at during centuries of speculation"
--Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 236.

My friend--even brilliant minded men do not know everything, and you might want to be sure you are in the Lord's process of investigation rather than following everything that men have to say about the DNA issue. Much of what you quoted is only a partial beginning to the science of DNA and its specific application to the bloodlines of Israel. All science and theory of men change with time, experience, and knowledge--do not make assumptions that in the future there will never be information and findings that refine and undoubtedly will prove many bright minds to be wrong as history has proven over and over again.

Thirdly, I find contradictions in your own words. "I am still a member in good standing, although I honestly don't believe any more that the church is
what it claims to be". A member in good standing does not search for exception and preference--they study for application using the Lord's prescribed process. The Lord himself said to study from the best books (D&C 88:118), however, He also said it must contain truth, be useful and uplifting. Science without faith and truth to fill in gaps is not useful or uplifting--it is not honest searching. Be very careful about coming across as someone who is trying to justify himself because he really doesn't know what to believe, and it appears is not using the correct process of learning. Read for application with faith and prayer, not simply collecting information for preference or exception.

Finally, if you want a new friend and dialogue--sound and act like an ally and not an enemy. Your email was hollow of questions and almost all statements with a contentious tone. It almost seemed to be an effort to justify and establish your already preconceived stand, while being critical of others who do not accept you, your ideas, or your methods--that is not an honest hearted approach to learning. People in that instance absolutely have the right to question your motives and your spirituality--you brought it on yourself. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"Increasingly the Latter-day Saints must choose between the reasoning of men and the revelations of God" (Conf. Rpt, Oct. 1967, 34).

The scripture in 2 Nephi 9:28 verifies this. I am not interested at this point whether or not you believe this book to be an inspired record because of your DNA conflict. By experience, I could safely assume that you have probably done extensive studies on other subjects, and in all instances have studied with the preference to find issue with the Church. I personally do know the Church, and the Book of Mormon are true and intellectual responses, as I mentioned in my email, die quietly and insignificantly at the door of inspired minds.

Therefore, If you want a friendly sharing together you must accept the fact that I will come from a frame of reference that faces the Lord's prescribed manner of searching and learning "line upon line" with the exercise of faith, until He reveals all things. May I suggest you try again with a different approach? My mother once told me I was like sandpaper--rough but useful. I have tried to become a finer grain of paper. You and I sound like we have some things in common.

When you do respond differently, I would be very interested in your response to the following statement and question:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not built upon the Bible or the Book of Mormon. It is built upon what the Bible and Book of Mormon are built upon--revelation from God to Apostles and Prophets.
How then, does this affect the process of learning, and what evidence is there in your current pursuit that is in harmony with this process?

I look forward to hearing from you as a friend.

Respectfully,
CES Guy

 

Subject:

E-mail exchange with a CES Director...(names changed & long)...Pt 2

Date:

Jun 27 17:19

Author:

Fubeca


Dear CES Guy,

Wow, I can't believe you responded. Thank you.

I apologize if I sounded abrasive. That wasn't my intention. I fully expected no response and I honestly don't talk about it with anyone and so it may have appeared like I was spewing a few years worth of frustrations. I've talked to two separate bishops (because of boundary readjustments) and the only reaction so far has been avoidance. I'm fairly certain that in talking with them all I did was give them an assessment of my belief. I did not discuss specifics. My intention isn't, nor has it ever been to attack or cause someone else to lose faith. In one case, I was being called as a ward missionary and I thought it was necessary to explain why I couldn't accept. He was extremely surprised, yet grateful for my honesty. It was never brought up again. That reaction feels odd to me given my knowledge of the gospel. As a full believing member, I think I would have tried to fellowship a fellow brother that brought that concern to me.

When I said I was a member in good standing, I meant that I've not had any sort of church action taken against me and I've been honest about my feelings. Can't any member who's worthy to take the sacrament call themselves "in good standing?" I would think my bishop would make it clear otherwise but he hasn't.

Even President Hinckley has said the following:

"As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint." (Ensign, Sept. 1985, p.5.)

There's more I'd like to say, but I'm getting ready to travel out of town for a week and I just don't have the time right now.

You mentioned that my questions weren't really questions so can I just ask a couple?

If by some far chance of the imagination the church wasn't true, how would you or me (or how could anyone) know it? Or phrased another way, how should all those other people in other religions realize that their churches aren't true and go searching for another? It has to be more than "the spirit" because they report feeling the same things we feel and it motivates many of them to extraordinary acts of faith - or do I have to believe that they don't really feel what they say they feel or that it's not as strong as what we feel?

Should the church be held up to the same standard that we hold other churches up to when we say they have part of the truth but not all of it, or that they are "apostate"? Changing doctrine, changing ordinances, loss of priesthood authority, etc...

Does the church being true matter or can it stand on its own goodness?

I'll answer your question when I get more than 10 minutes to shoot an e-mail out. I'm going to a conference and won't be back at my computer for a week.

Thanks,

Fubeca

Fubeca:

Thanks for coming back after I pointedly challenged you. I wanted to see your real side--I appreciate having a new friend and feel that your questions are honest and good ones. I look forward to exploring them with you. While you are gone it will give me a chance to ponder them and honestly answer them. You should know I am an institute director for the Church Education System at ****** and sit on the area council. I am pretty well grounded in what I know to be true, but I do absolutely understand where you are coming from now--I appreciate you trusting me with this information. I look forward to a new friendship and promise to be honest and yet respect your point of view as it stands at this point in time.

Be safe, and I look forward to talking with you soon.

Your Friend,

CES Guy


Dear CES Guy,

OK I'm back and I'll hopefully have some answers to your questions

I suspected you were a CES employee and I appreciate your honesty. In good faith, I'll also tell you more about me so that you can know where I'm coming from. While our discussion began with the DNA issue it really isn't THE concern I have with the church.

It's hard to imagine from your point of view I'm sure, but I have really been what is jokingly referred to in the church as "Peter Priesthood" my entire life. I never doubted, really never rebelled much as a teenager and believed the gospel wholeheartedly. I served a mission, taught in the MTC and served as a Branch Counselor there. I've always been an active member and have served consistently and willingly in various callings including Ward Executive Secretary, EQ President & Counselor, Early AM Seminary Teacher and various callings with the youth. I don't say any of that to claim any light or knowledge but only so you can know I've always been trusted and considered worthy for these callings and that I've haven't ever been on the fringe or out of touch with the church (until recently).

I also need to clarify that I did not go searching in an attempt to find fault. I believed there was a logical answer for everything and that in the context of the truth being on the Lord's side, there was nothing to be afraid of. The following quotes pretty much explain how I felt:

"The gospel of Jesus Christ clearly says to us as far as the world of truth and fact is concerned, there's nothing out there to be afraid of. The Latter- day Saint leans into learning with a gusto, or should."
-Elder Neal A. Maxwell (copied off of the Meridian web site)

"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.

If faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.
-George A. Smith, 1871, Journal of Discourses, Vol 14, pg 216

I think full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret, not underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation.
-Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol 20, pg 264

"This book [the Book of Mormon] is entitled to the most thorough and impartial examination. Not only does the Book of Mormon merit such consideration, its claims, even demand the same."
-Apostle James E. Talmage in 'Articles of Faith', page 273

"As a means of coming to truth, people in the Church are encouraged by their leaders to think and find out for themselves. They are encouraged to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to such knowledge of the truth as their own consciences, assisted by the Spirit of God, lead them to discover. Many years of experience in courtrooms have taught me that truth, in the sense of obtaining justice, is arrived at only by questioning in a searching way. Members of the Church are encouraged to seek learning from all good books and from any helpful source..."
-James E. Faust, September 1998 Ensign

"The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding. And it has been wisely said that the man who knows only half of any question is worse off than the man who knows nothing of it. He is not only one-sided but his partisanship soon turns him into an intolerant and a fanatic. In general it is true that nothing which cannot stand up under discussion or criticism is worth defending"
- James E. Talmage, Improvement Era, January, 1920, p 204.

I was always pretty knowledgeable about the church and took pride in the fact that the gospel was true. I never criticized or doubted the Lord's anointed but followed a path of obedience to church leaders. I made spiritual and temporal decisions in my life based on the fact that I believed the church to be true. Early on, any question or doubt was easily dismissed because I was told the gospel was true and I deeply believed those who told me so. They were people I loved and respected. Later, I had experiences which gave me the burning in the bosom and warm feelings about the gospel. I was told and believed that this meant it was true. I had my own testimony.

As I matured, however, I realized that not everyone felt as positive towards the gospel as I did. They were anti-Mormons and in the context of a Sunday School class or Seminary, I would hear some of their arguments refuted as lies and triviality. I never searched them out for myself as I was warned against reading anti-Mormon literature. Nevertheless their points of contention seemed trivial as they were presented to me and I agreed with the more logical LDS explanations.

One major thing I learned growing up in the church was to love the truth. I loved the church because it was true, not just because there was a lot of good in it. The truth was something I felt I possessed and truthfulness carried a lot of weight in my intellectual and spiritual belief in the church. On my mission to the Catholic country of Brazil, there was a rumor among the missionaries that the Pope in Rome had historical evidence in a Vatican vault that the LDS church was true. I remember being skeptical of the rumor at the time, but I also felt indignant over how evil it would be for a religious leader to hide such facts or to hide any truth from the world. I was sure that my prophet, my faith, my leaders lived by a higher law. I certainly believed I lived by a higher law while I taught the LDS gospel. In other words, I believed in the truth as the highest of all values taught in the church. I thought the church and the truth were one in the same until the following experience.

Once, while teaching seminary I was shown a video of a talk by Boyd K. Packer instructing CES teachers. Here's a bit of that talk that bothered me at the time:

"I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting it destroys. . . . Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting". -Boyd K. Packer (Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, page 103)

This went against everything that I believed all my life. According to Elder Packer, there was some truth to be afraid of. It just didn't sit right with me. I had been taught otherwise my whole life. The scriptures I read still point to the truth as being on God's side, not against Him.

Exodus 20:16 - Thou shalt not bear false witness...

Isn't part of bearing false witness telling only ˝ of the story?

2 Nephi 28:28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

So is the church on sandy foundation or built on a rock? If it's on a rock, then there's nothing to be afraid of. If it has a sandy foundation, I can see why the GA's might harbor ill feelings towards the truth.

If "truth" needs to be protected to the point of lying to cover it up, it cannot be truth. If a doctrine cannot be mentioned because it will look bad, there is something wrong with it. If it is cast in a bad light because it is being taken out of context and/or is misunderstood, you don't recommend covering it up. You correct the context and explain it. Far better for "enemies" to misrepresent the truth and its defenders uphold it in the light of day than for so-called defenders to bury it and lie.

Let's not forget D&C 93:24 stating that truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were. Not just things as we wish they were, as they are faith promoting, as approved by the First Presidency, or as it supports our version of things.

In conflicting doctrinal and historical situations, we are taught in the church that we should just revert back to our testimonies and put things on a shelf to be answered sometime in the afterlife. Sometimes we're encouraged to find out for ourselves although that advice is heavily coated with the warning not to search out information contrary to what the church teaches. The stress is definitely loyalty above inquiry.

For example:

"The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein. The book of Revelation declares: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).
They who are not for me are against me (2 Nephi 10:16). 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.
- President Gordon B. Hinckley. "Loyalty," April Conference, 2003.

In other words, "search, ponder and pray but the answer you're going to get is what we tell you it is so why bother. Just pray about it, get a good feeling and don't worry about the rest."

You have to make up your mind before you are able to investigate because investigating would put you on that "middle ground."

I did just that and went along for several years continuing my service and belief in the church with gusto. My primary reason of doing so was love for my family and fear for my family. My family and the church are so integrated that anything that affects my feelings for one is bound to have ramifications with the other. The church teaches us that they are so intertwined that love for one cannot truly exist without a love of the other. I'm told that if I love my family, I'll be active in the church. If I love the church, I'll have more love for my family. I definitely love my family - my wife and kids are my main reason for existing and so I reasoned that my love for the church had to be as strong.

I can't really pinpoint why, but I know a few other events and thoughts may have led me to wonder about what I had always been taught in the church. Elder Packer's idea that the truth isn't uplifting certainly played a part. I thought I knew just every dirty little secret that anti-Mormons tried to throw at the church. I thought I knew all the responses as well. I couldn't imagine what Elder Packer was so fearful of because I certainly didn't know anything too harmful to the church. My problem was, however, that I was only hearing those issues through the filter of the church.

Sometime after my Mom died some of the things I had been putting up on that "testimony shelf " began to fall down and cause me to question the church's truthfulness. Perhaps part of my testimony was strengthened by the expectations and love my Mom always had for me and without her I felt free to explore the gospel more deeply. If so, it was an unconscious connection.

Speaking of love for my family, I know I loved my Mom and upon her death I thought (as I was always told) I would find comfort in the fact that we'd been sealed as a family in the temple, but I didn't. Instead, I wondered about the other good people I knew who would lose their loved ones. Would THEY not have their loved ones with them again in the after life if they disbelieved the gospel? I'm talking about GOOD people who just don't believe in Mormonism even after being given the chance. Would God really make them suffer (or make me think they would suffer) based on a simple ceremony? Their familial love didn't include the element of the church. Was their love any less?

The stories of non-members who have gone through near death experiences relate that they too get to bask in the love of their family members. What if love were the only requirement? Isn't that a more comforting thought than "I get to see my loved ones and you don't?" The weight of proof whether it be spiritual or temporal would have to be extremely great and clear for God to make such a grand judgment, I think. I also think it would have to be extremely great to put up with some of the other things that were falling off of that shelf of mine.

I wanted to confirm for myself that the evidence was as great as I had always believed it was. So, I began reading.

I have wanted to be a Dad ever since I was a teenager and place a high value on my family. So, a few years ago I spent considerable time studying the biographies of several latter-day prophets such as Gordon B. Hinckley, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Spencer W. Kimball, etc. to see how to be a better father. I wanted to find out more about these men and what made them tick. Hopefully, so I could become a better man of God, more like them. What I found, however, was very little of what I wanted to emulate. Here were men I am supposed to admire but who spent very little time with their families. Most of them fully admit, almost in a bragging way, that their wives single-handedly raised their children as they were constantly away on church assignments. Basically I was shocked that I was letting men who were lousy parents counsel me on good parenting practices. They offer excellent lip service to families in talks and meetings but in actual practice they don't measure up in my opinion.

In the August 2001 Ensign, Russell M. Nelson proudly echoed this sentiment that in the church fathers are dispensable:

"I remember when I was a resident in a large hospital in Boston. I was off duty every other night and every other weekend. On nights off, I arrived home to my wife and our four children after the babies' bedtime. I departed in the morning before they were all awake. In order for me to attend sacrament meeting, I had to trade hours of duty with some of my Jewish or Seventh-day Adventist colleagues. They were willing to cover for me temporarily on my Sabbath as I covered for them on theirs. Incidentally, I enjoyed some of my very most successful home teaching experiences on those highly prized nights off."

"I pay tribute to Sister Nelson, this magnificent wife and mother who has always been supportive. When people have asked her how she managed with 10 children with so little time available from her husband, she has responded with a twinkle in her eye, saying, "When I married him, I didn't expect much, so I was never disappointed."
You young women can learn much from Sister Nelson's example. Sustain your husbands in their important work, and don't be selfish in your expectations." (Russell M. Nelson, "Identity, Priority, and Blessings," Ensign, Aug. 2001, 6)

Frankly I don't see his familial neglect as anything admirable. And why wasn't he with his wife on his "highly prized nights off" rather than off home teaching? It is true that in the church wives shouldn't expect much from their husbands but is it really "selfish" for the wives to want it? As I look around at local leaders I see the same practices. Time spent in church service is time away from their families and I don't think it is a stretch of the imagination to see that their families suffer. They would consider their family blessed, I know, but the horror for me was that I could see the writing on the wall. I was headed in that direction and I didn't want to go there. I love my family too much.

When I say I could see the writing on the wall, I mean I was already spending a couple of nights away from home or on the phone for my church calling. As a Seminary Teacher I spent every night preparing a lesson. Later as an Executive Secretary to the bishop I was spending about two nights a week and all day Sunday on the calling. One of my patriarchal blessings (yeah, I've had two, but that's another story) promises I'll have even more leadership callings. This is all time that I would rather be spending with my family. I find it interesting that the church criticizes mothers who work outside the home, but praises and requires fathers and mothers to work outside the home on church callings to such a great extent and claims it actually blesses their families when they do. At one time my wife was Relief Society President while I was Executive Secretary. We were rarely at home with our kids at the same time. Yet in the church, positions like these are badges of honor, callings from God and we're counseled heavily not to refuse them. I didn't like my callings and I didn't like the time they took away from my family.

The irony is that I know many other people also secretly resent the huge time demands church callings place on their families. They plain and simple don't like their callings. They know they're supposed to be grateful for them but the time burden is taxing. Back when I was teaching Seminary, I was too afraid to stop teaching for fear of what calling I'd get next. I know others have expressed the same feelings. I shelved those thoughts but I remained determined that the church would not swallow up my family away from me as I have seen happen.

I shelved all those thoughts even though I longed to spend more time with my wife and kids. I longed to spend time in creating memorable times together as a family. It's just not possible when your entire weekend and weeknights are consumed by church callings. Saturdays become a time to get things done rather than a time for family recreation. Sunday is out of the question for that sort of thing. I think when you compare loving non-LDS families to loving LDS families, it's no question that the non-LDS spend more quality time with their kids both in recreation and working together. I long to have that level of activity with my wife and kids.

I would never have admitted it at the time but I think I was getting to the point where I no longer enjoyed church. Looking around, I can see a lot of people in the same boat although they would never admit it. Many people joke about not liking their callings. Many people long for fewer or shorter meetings. Many people even make life decisions like moving to escape a calling.

If I was happy, why didn't I, or most of my fellow members have the slightest desire to do missionary work? We know we're supposed to want to but we really don't. Most members don't convert a single soul. Aside from my mission, I've never shared the gospel with anyone. If it really was something that gave us the joy the church says it gives us, why don't more members share it passionately? They don't. It wouldn't have to be harped on every other month in Sacrament Meeting and in ward council meeting. Yet, in all honesty, most of us are embarrassed to bring friends to church. I put those thoughts on the shelf.

Likewise, why do so many of us outside of Utah dislike living in areas that are "too Mormon?" Why don't the fruits of the church create a people that are enjoyable to live around? Instead, Mormons tend to be gullible, depressing, and difficult to spend too much time with. The extremely high bankruptcy, fraud and anti-depressant usage rates in Utah support those assumptions. It is much more fulfilling to interact in a community with non-Mormons. I put those thoughts on the shelf.

It seems that I was only putting up with the church because of the rewards in the afterlife. This eternal perspective really wasn't making me happy but only making me endure endless meetings, talks and testimonies unquestioningly and away from my family.

I shelved those thoughts because if you are unhappy it must be your fault. We're never allowed to discuss how the church fails us occasionally but we're only permitted to see the times that prayers, priesthood blessings and prophecies are in our favor or the few times that a talk or meeting is uplifting instead of an evaluation of our duties and our failure to live up to them.

Additionally, I've had struggles in my life for which I've failed to find any comfort let alone answers within the gospel. If God runs the church, am I so worthless that he can't reveal simple answers about life and human behavior that would help me?

Why was I being told what color of shirt to wear, what I could and couldn't drink, how many earrings my wife could wear, what movies to watch, and who I needed to visit, become friends with and when, but I was left out in the cold when it came to substantial things that would help me in my spiritual life? It seemed that the church is "straining at gnats." I shelved those thoughts.

I've also had the chance to travel in my life and actually live abroad both on my mission and later. I often felt like the gospel was an odd fit and not really easily compatible with the cultures I encountered. In essence, it was a great find for some people but it just didn't mesh culturally, spiritually or logically with the vast majority of people. In other words, it wasn't universal.

Many of the instructions and guidelines in the Church Handbook of Instructions are rules that serve the institution of the church rather than the individual and are clearly created by aged, white North American men. For example, is it really true that the piano, organ and occasionally the violin and flute are the only instruments in the world capable of conveying God's spirit? Yet, those are the only instruments allowed in any LDS sacrament meeting in any part of the world. Additionally, the North American white man's suit, white shirt and tie are the expectation and sometimes the requirement whether you're in Brazil, Japan or Nigeria. It isn't appropriate everywhere. Is the God of the Chinese, the Russians and Peruvians an old man with North American tastes and preferences?

Even in the U.S., the church's standardized use of the Scouting program as the vehicle with which to teach young boys character and prepare them for manhood is rigid and inflexible. It's much easier to create a standardized program and require compliance than it is to mold programs to meet individual needs. Molding, however, isn't allowed in the church. If a young boy's interests lie elsewhere or the scouting program isn't serving his needs, he and his parents are guilt-tripped into compliance both socially and institutionally. It's part of the "follow the prophet" mantra. The prophet said this is the "inspired" program for young boys and so it is, regardless of that one boy's needs. The implication is that something must be wrong with the boy if he has no desire or inclination towards scouting. Clearly, scouting isn't the only way available to teach values. The fact that there's an institutionalized program isn't even the problem. The problem is that individual adaptation is not allowed.

This "one size fits all" mentality permeates the church and it has always bothered me. Women often feel guilty, depressed or just unworthy when they don't fit the mold of LDS womanhood. Perhaps she doesn't like cooking or sewing. Perhaps she can't sing or play the piano. Perhaps she can't have children or is only able to have one or two. God forbid she should only want one or two! I've been in several bishopric meetings in different wards where a woman in the ward was ridiculed behind her back for daring to express an opinion. The church certainly talks the talk when it comes to women but in my opinion, it fails to walk the walk. I shelved those thoughts.

Teaching Seminary was probably what made me put more things up on that "testimony shelf" than any other. I taught the Old Testament one year and Church History (D&C) the next. I read those scriptures daily to prepare for lessons. Often the lessons in the manual required mental gymnastics to convey the message the church wanted rather than the one actually in the book of scripture.

The Old Testament is full of examples of prophets who lie, cheat, fornicate and yet still maintain God's approval. God orders the killing of (or actually kills them himself) hundreds of thousands of people, which is hard to rationalize under any scenario but especially in light of 9/11. The 9/11 terrorists were religious men who mistakenly thought they were doing God's will. How is that any different than Deuteronomy13: 6-10 where God commands the killing of someone who chooses a different religion? If God is the same yesterday and today, how could these biblical characters maintain the spirit of God with them and do these horrible things in the name of God? (See also Exodus 22:20, Exodus 32:27-28, Numbers 31:14-18, Leviticus 27:28-29, 2 Kings: 2:23-24, 2 Samuel 6: 6-7, Deuteronomy 3:3-6, Deuteronomy 22:20-21). How could I be unworthy for temple attendance by drinking a cup of tea, when the men who received the Old Testament and modern temple ordinances from God did all these atrocious things in the name of God?

In similar fashion, I found that the Church uses scriptures and science only when it benefits the organization's claims. As an illustration, word-print studies that show several authors contributed to the Book of Mormon are held up as evidence to the LDS faithful, while similar studies that attribute Genesis and other Old Testament books to multiple authors are ignored (LDS believe it was Moses only). Science is applauded when it seems to coincide with an LDS claim and ignored when it doesn't. I shelved those thoughts.

Just like the study of the Old Testament, the study of the Doctrine and Covenants raised a lot of questions. For example, the D&C relates instances where the Lord says he'll destroy someone if they don't obey the advice relayed through Joseph Smith. In the Old Testament, "destroy" meant destroy - death and destruction. But Emma Smith, for example is warned in D&C 132 that she'll be destroyed if she doesn't accept plural marriage. She clearly never fully accepted it, but she wasn't "destroyed." She lived decades longer than her husband.

The LDS interpretation gets messy especially when inspired books of scripture contradict each other as they do in the case of Polygamy. The Book of Mormon clearly preaches against polygamy and describes David's wives (of the Old Testament) an "abomination" (Jacob 2:24-27). Compare that with D&C 132:39 and the Lord is suddenly praising David's practice of polygamy and saying He gave David his extra wives. So which is it?

Likewise, the Word of Wisdom isn't taken literally. If it were, LDS wouldn't be eating very much meat at July 24th picnics and hot chocolate would be forbidden while iced coffee would be OK. The Word of Wisdom speaks against "hot drinks," so why are iced tea and iced coffee not OK? They're not hot but they contain caffeine. Hot chocolate contains caffeine. Why is that OK? Recent medical studies touting the benefits of tea, wine and coffee in moderation are ignored, of course. I have always found it odd that someone who drinks tea is excluded from temple attendance while an obese, food addicted bishop is likely doing the excluding based on "the Lord's law of health." The whole thing is nonsensical if you actually read it.

While scriptures such as these aren't taken literally when it's inconvenient to do so, much more significant biblical teachings are interpreted literally hard-line when a metaphorical interpretation would make more sense. The story of the flood, the tower of Babel, not to mention other fantastic Biblical and Book of Mormon stories that contradict solid scientific information and common sense are accepted at face value. I put those thoughts on a shelf and trusted in LDS leaders.

For the trump card is always "follow the prophet." I can have issues with these things but it's always safer to "follow the prophet." If that's true, however, it also merits investigation. Every prophet from Joseph Smith on and even back to ancient prophets should pass the test of leadership. Would it have been better to follow them or dissent? Do their teachings and doctrine pass the test of time?

I remembered back on the Packer talk and wondered what he was afraid of. While I was never really overly concerned about it, I always believed that the evidence in favor the church was strong and that more was being discovered by LDS scientists to support LDS claims. For there are several claims the church makes that are provable or disprovable given enough evidence - whether or not Native Americans emigrated from Jerusalem, or whether or not a prophesy is fulfilled, for example. The church has been bold enough in its past to make claims that can be measured and studied.

While a belief in God will always remain an subjective, faith based conviction, a belief in the LDS church can be measured further based on historical assertions, truth of its unique doctrines or prophesies, and the reliability of its leaders especially when those things clash with reality.

I don't think it's unreasonable to clarify if the evidence is as strong as I always believed it was. If so, I was more than willing to tolerate everything I've mentioned and store them up on my testimony shelf. I still know of the importance of having faith. Faith was always taught as "the belief in things not seen, which are true." That qualifier "which are true" indicates that there is some smattering of supporting evidence on which to base faith or at least there needs to be a lack of disqualifying evidence. It's one thing to believe in the improvable and another thing entirely to continue to believe in things that can be proven false. That's called delusion rather than faith.

I thought after serving a mission that I knew every argument there was to make against the church so I really anticipated finding nothing new or very substantial. I just wanted to know the secrets I shouldn't be teaching to gospel students. I couldn't imagine there really being anything substantial. I had complete confidence that putting all these thoughts on a shelf to be answered later was the wise choice and that it was supported by the overwhelming weight of truth. Was I ever surprised!

I think any time someone tries to tell you not to get both sides of the story, that person has something to hide. From what I've learned in the last couple of years, things are no different in spiritual matters. I remember when I was young I invited a Catholic friend of mine to church. She was truly frightened to come because she had been taught about the dangerous lure of other churches having been told they're of the devil. I recall discussing with my sister how odd this was, this fear of perhaps finding out something is actually different than we'd been taught. I can see now how my own church has performed the same fear-induced instruction with its members making them fearful of "anti-Mormon" literature.

In trying to explain that logic, some in the church would say that if you want to buy a Ford you wouldn't go to a Chevy dealer. I'd respond that no I wouldn't go to a Chevy dealer, but I would go to Consumer Reports before believing everything the Ford dealer told me. The Ford dealer won't tell the full story and neither apparently does the church. If there are lies out there, it seems that the mountain of evidence would speak against it and the goodness of the church would be more attractive. On the other hand, if it's true, the church, not the individual has good reason to be fearful.

One brief comment about "anti-Mormon" literature - while I did see some things in my study that could be classified as such, I don't think the sweeping generalization that I grew up with is accurate: namely, that anything that questions or criticizes the church is anti-Mormon. What is "anti-Mormon? As a former missionary in Brazil, I could question and critique the doctrine and history of the Catholic Church with a certain degree of conviction. Does that mean I'm "anti-Catholic"? I don't think so. I think it takes a certain disregard for truth and penchant for destruction at any cost, with whatever means to be classified as "anti-Mormon." The claim that Mormons have sex on the altars of the temple is one example.

But is a disregard for the truth in favor of Mormonism any better?

Those facts that can be independently verified and that move readers towards a greater understanding of the truth do not qualify as anti-Mormon in my opinion. The scriptures themselves are full of people who felt a calling from God outside the hierarchy of the church organization to clarify and point out the errors of the leaders. We all need a certain access to truth in order to properly utilize our free-agency. Still, most of what I've found is from church published sources or can be verified independently of any anti-Mormon source.

I had no clue about these things - yet I think they are substantial facts, which anyone should be told before and during church membership. The discussion of these topics on church web sites and in LDS scholarly circles makes it clear that the church leadership knows about them and has for a long time. I believe their suppression of these issues for "faith promoting" purposes is a violation and disrespect of my free-agency no different than the oft repeated ploy Satan tried to promote in the war in heaven according to LDS teachings. His end (salvation of mankind) justified his means (not providing any other option). He was wrong and so is the church that their ends (salvation of mankind) justify their means (not providing the whole story).

I feel that by not knowing several facts, my free agency was limited in being able to search, ponder, pray and decide for myself what is true. The church itself has made it clear that if we are to "choose the right," we need to have the opportunity to make a choice. Limiting information and warning members not to look elsewhere to understand the big picture is an affront to that agency. A testimony based on false or misleading information is a false testimony.

You said,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not built upon the Bible or the Book of Mormon. It is built upon what the Bible and Book of Mormon are built upon--revelation from God to Apostles and Prophets."

But how does that measure with the following quote from Elder Holland?

"Let me quote a very powerful comment from President Ezra Taft Benson, who said, "The Book of Mormon is the keystone of [our] testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon...everything in the Church - everything - rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon...

"Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, who, [1] after seeing the Father and the Son, [2] later beheld the angel Moroni, [3] repeatedly heard counsel from his lips, eventually [4] receiving at his hands a set of ancient gold plates which [5] he then translated according to the gift and power of God-or else he did not. And if he did not, in the spirit of President Benson's comment, he is not entitled to retain even the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, and he is not entitled to be considered a great teacher or a quintessential American prophet or the creator of great wisdom literature. If he lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he is certainly none of those." Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, "True or False," New Era, June 1995, Page 64

I mention that mainly because even considering "revelation from God to Apostles and Prophets" there are a host of contradictions that one runs into when sincerely deciding upon what to base a testimony. To believe as you say that it's "revelation from God to Apostles and Prophets" requires circular logic. How do I know I should base my belief on revelation to prophets? The prophets tell us. And how do I know they're true prophets? The witness of the spirit. Well, how do I know that that's really an indicator of truth? Because it's been revealed to prophets that it is. And round it goes.

It also leads to the obvious question...why should I believe the prophets when it's pretty clear that they don't believe the truth is in my best interest? When I hear Elder Packer say the truth is destructive - and he's specifically talking about church history and doctrine - why shouldn't I then question everything he and his colleagues have ever told me?

I've given just a little background so you know how I even arrived at the point of questioning. What I found then was not just the DNA issue but a myriad of issues in the church that are both historical and current that lead me to believe that the church isn't what it claims to be, Joseph Smith wasn't what he claimed to be, the Book of Mormon isn't what he claimed it was and President Hinckley isn't what others claim he is. I haven't discussed all those issues here but they're not insignificant and telling me to just "not worry" about them is patronizing and insincere (I'm not saying you've done that but that's the common response in the church)

If I now follow your advice of seeking faith in revelation to the prophets, I feel it's about as unreliable as the advice given to followers of any sect or religion. "You just gotta have faith that they're truly God's representatives" leads Catholics to remain Catholics, Protestants to remain Protestants, followers of Jim Jones to drink the Kool-Aid and of David Koresh to die in the fire. Using "revelation from God to Apostles and Prophets" as the core of one's belief leaves you susceptible to whatever belief system got you first. That's why I asked you least week how followers of these religions are supposed to be able to know they're in a religion that isn't all it claims to be. Their leaders encourage followers to just have faith in their revelations and teachings, their followers then feel the spirit and the only difference is that some are more destructive than others. Still, I can't think of anything in LDS teachings that would prevent us all from drinking the Kool-Aid. In fact, I know quite a few brothers and sisters that I'm fairly confident would drink the Kool-Aid with testimony smiles on their faces if our church weren't led by men who for the most part believe it themselves and are sincere in trying. I think that we're fortunate along with Catholics and others that we're led by men who want to do good. Others haven't always been so lucky. So, faith has to be based on truth otherwise we're just like everyone else.

In considering the apostate nature of other churches, it's the facts that always matter. The facts and evidence lead you to believe that it's spiritually lacking. But I'm supposed to ignore facts and only rely on the spirit with my religion? And isn't a witness of the spirit still evidence anyway?

If it's not true, I don't want to have faith in it.

Hopefully, I eliminated the abrasiveness and sarcasm without diluting my honest assessment things. I feel my questions are sincere and real questions - not just critical outbursts.

Thanks again for listening.

Fubeca

 

Subject:

E-mail exchange with a CES Director...(names changed & long)...Pt 3

Date:

Jun 27 17:36

Author:

Fubeca


Fubeca:

I have thought about your questions and feel I need to answer them honestly from my point of view so you understand where I am coming. I very much appreciate you trusting me with your personal and real point of view. I think you are closer to the truth than you may think.

I'll address each as they appeared on your emails.

The Sacrament: Elder Oaks taught that the word willing in the sacramental prayer denotes something has to happen in the future. We really take upon ourselves the Lord's name and His authority in the truest sense of the word in the temple ordinances. He also said for mature members of the Church the covenants of salvation (baptism) are important, but that we should be focused on our covenants of exaltation (temple) if we have been, or covenanting to prepare ourselves to go. He also taught that as we partake of the emblems it is as if we were raising our hands and volunteering to be exalted--telling the Lord we desire it. A member in good standing must have these things in mind and heart and be willing, even though imperfect, to strive for the highest manifestation of our love for God and His requirements for exaltation and eternal lives.

Hinckley Quote: Good quote--in the context of his quote he is talking about the importance of seeking for truth but using the spirit to help us. Key words that stand out to me are:
· "gospel scholarship" implying that the search is within the gospel the Lord has taught.
· "search to understand all truth" again knowing all truth is and can be found within the Lord's doctrine. All the mysteries of Godliness are found within the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel. Doctrines are statements of truth independent of what man thinks of them. Principles are truths packaged for practical application. We are to be looking for the doctrines that tell us of the nature and character of Godliness and then identify the principles to practice that give life to the doctrine and draw us closer to that ideal.
· "constructive discussion" is that kind of expression that is uplifting and edifying to the understanding and spirit of individuals striving for salvation. It is intended to expand an individual not cause confusion, contention or distress. What we study and how is the real issue.
I think you have asked the wrong question concerning the truthfulness of the Church. It should be "how can we know the Church is true"? Since faith has been expressed in analogies of agriculture let me use it here. A farmer does not plant without faith, hope, and belief that his crop will flourish. If a farmer approached the sowing process with the idea it may not appear then it will influence the way he nourishes and watches. And, when a crop doesn't appear there are two possible reasons--either he didn't nourish it properly or the seed was bad. The farmer then replants and goes through prescribed process with the positive end in mind and never from a potential false premise. You, me, and every other individual must use the same prescribed process. Understanding how the spirit works and what is required may be the real question you have.

Concerning other people seeking truth and feeling the spirit. Everyone has the light of Christ which is used by the Holy Ghost to influence people and lead them to truth. If truth is taught the spirit will confirm that. However, much of what other faiths experience is emotion. That is why churches today have become a production of music and some entertaining in nature. Joseph taught one of the greatest challenges to members of the church will be learning to distinguish between emotion and the spirit. Alma 29:8 is very enlightening concerning the gospel and the world. The truth is, everyone has a portion of the truth--that portion the Lord sees fit to give them. If they live up to that standard they are fine until the Lord teaches them the fullness. Most people will not hear the truth until they get to the other side. the Lord does not expect them to go searching. The spirit will work with an individual when they are ready, and then he will lead them to the Church, or have his missionary program reach out to them. Until then, the Lord takes care of those people--they feel the spirit and do good things. President Hinckley said all churches teach good things and we simply invite them to bring what they have and see if we can add to it. It is really not that complicated--we just have more and the Lord allows people to decide when they will be open to it. Find another church on earth that has "more" of the gospel the Lord himself taught in the New Testament and I will join it.

By the way, when we say the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel, that only means Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon can save, but it cannot exalt. There are no temple ordinances in the Book of Mormon. The fullness of the priesthood is found in the Doctrine and Covenants (124:28) through exalting temple ordinances. We must be careful about just focusing on the fullness, and the Book of Mormon alone--the Book of Mormon is not even complete as 2/3 remain untranslated.

I like your question about the church standing on its own merits. But, because we know the Church is a good organization the question is really moot. Even if we get to the other side and the Lord said it didn't matter what church you belonged to then we are just fine where we are--again, unless you can possibly find another organization so well organized, well run, that does so much goodness for its members and the world. There is no risk in staying where we are. I do believe it does matter to say and know the Church is true, because the Lord said it does. One Lord, one faith, one baptism is clear--one does exist. We better be careful then to find it and defend it. The Church is only true when the ordinances and doctrine are true. It is a vehicle to help individuals, families, and priesthood leaders. The people are the problem not the organization. The Church does not need to be compared to anyone or held to any standard other than the one the Lord has defined. Its people are the ones to be held to a standard and just because some of them are boneheads doesn't diminish the truthfulness of the Gospel or the Church. Even the Lord in His Church during His ministry had problems--but isn't that the point, shouldn't our chapels be filled with people with problems. That is the purpose of the Gospel and the Church, to take bad men and make them good, and take good men and make them better! Blow off people who don't listen or respond to you the way you want. There will always be someone who will--I'm one.

I started reading your most recent response and stopped right at the Boyd K. Packer quote. I will read the rest but need to respond to your thought immediately. This is the quote:

"I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting it destroys. . . . Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting". -Boyd K. Packer (Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, page 103)

I find nothing controversial. The quote must be read and understood in the context of its delivery. President Packer was talking to CES teachers. The subject is teaching correct doctrine--following the curriculum. He is clearly talking about the need to teach approved material and nothing else. We are teaching youth--not adults. He is not referring to other forums where history can be taught, even dark periods in the history of the Church where imperfect men and women struggled. I have been in those forums, and they must be selective as to who it is shared with. You should try to attend a Sperry Symposium sometime. President Packer is talking about teaching young people who are tender and often simple in testimony--if they even have one.

His quote carefully structured refers to history. The truth he refers to is historical in nature that is clearly not uplifting or edifying. Although history can be factual, not all history is good, doctrinally true, or remotely uplifting. To teach everything that is factually true--just because it happened--is a dangerous way to teach. As CES teachers, we commit to teach approved curriculum. This in no way implies the Church hides the truth, or that it is selectively hiding something controversial.

Many historians today teach information on people with the justification that it is history, it is factual, and so it needs to be taught. Not in our classrooms it doesn't! The Lord has been very clear that what is taught must be uplifting and edifying in nature--that which brings a person closer to the nature and character of Godliness, not things that cause conflict in the minds of individuals unduly. D&C 89:3 is clear--all things are done for the weak or simple minded among us. The Lord provides sufficient opportunities for those beyond simplicity to exercise their minds--you are doing it now. However, I think you have miss applied the meaning of his words--sorry, but as a friend I will tell you so.

President Packer's statement that historians should tell only that part of the truth that is uplifting is a brilliant statement and not to be taken out of context to apply generally about teaching truth as if to say we are hiding something. I do appreciate your honesty, and do not mean to diminish your heartfelt questions. However, If I am honest I must defend the truth when it misunderstood, misapplied, or skewed.


After we do some Q&A I want to move on to teaching one another doctrines and principles--sharing ideas and discussing potential applications. Therein lie the answers to all our questions. Then, and only then are we doing what you quoted President Hinckley teaching about study, inquiry, and questioning.

CES Guy


Dear CES Guy,

Here are some replies to what you wrote:

"I think you have asked the wrong question concerning the truthfulness of the Church. It should be "how can we know the Church is true"?

I disagree on the very point that if I asked that question about every religion out there, it would take an entire lifetime. I don't see the church as deserving any more consideration than any other religion. I'm confident that if I applied the teachings of the church to just about any religion, I would end up with the same result. In other words, if I really wanted to know if Catholicism were true and read their scriptures exclusively, obeyed the Pope and God's commandments and prayed sincerely while making sure I didn't expose myself to anything speaking against Catholicism or the Pope, I would get a testimony of the Spirit telling me that it's true. In fact, I've read material telling of such experiences in several religions. So you can convince yourself of anything if you want to badly enough. As an interesting coincidence (and don't laugh), I saw Tom Cruise last night on TV. His testimony of Scientology and how it's improved his life was at least equal to that of any LDS missionary I've ever heard. I certainly don't plan on trying to figure out if it's true, but if I did and followed the LDS method with only the "positive end in mind and never from a false premise" and wanted it badly enough I'd probably end up agreeing with him and with a burning testimony.

"Everyone has the light of Christ which is used by the Holy Ghost to influence people and lead them to truth. If truth is taught the spirit will confirm that. However, much of what other faiths experience is emotion... Joseph taught one of the greatest challenges to members of the church will be learning to distinguish between emotion and the spirit...It is really not that complicated--we just have more."

You've been frank and honest with me and so can I do the same? I think this a shallow answer to my question. It’s the standard Sunday School answer and takes no consideration for what other children of God on this earth REALLY feel. From the time I was 8 I could have recited this answer and frequently did on my mission. It's given from a point of view that others don't really feel what they say they feel or that it's not as powerful. One of the most shocking things to me was to read of the spiritual experiences and testimonies of non-Mormons and even non-Christian and realize there was absolutely no difference. None. You're incorrect in generalizing that they're all "emotional" in nature. They run the spectrum of powerful spirituality that LDS experiences do. While the church wants me to believe mine are bigger and better, I think it's arrogant to say so. Of course, it's just one person's word against another. Everyone believes theirs are the real thing.

"I like your question about the church standing on its own merits. But, because we know the Church is a good organization the question is really moot. Even if we get to the other side and the Lord said it didn't matter what church you belonged to then we are just fine where we are--again, unless you can possibly find another organization so well organized, well run, that does so much goodness for its members and the world. There is no risk in staying where we are."

Surely you've heard of Pacale's Wager. It's a logical fallacy that you just described...Actually there is a risk with what's called "opportunity cost." It's the measure of what you could have done with your time and means if you hadn't been LDS. For being LDS over the past 40 years, it has cost me 10% of my income that could have been dedicated to my family, enormous amount of time on callings, in meetings and at the temple that would have left me at home with my children, a hefty amount of emotional energy worrying about gnats such as white shirts, ties, earrings, thees and thous when I could have been worrying about something more significant and impactful to myself and the community. Of course, if it's true then it's all worth it. If not, then it's been an incredible waste of my time and resources. I'm currently taking part in a cycling team to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma - I feel like I'm finally doing something that truly has an impact on my fellow man. I never would have had the time if I had a calling, and frankly I was like most members who just sat back and felt good that I paid a generous fast offering but who really did nothing outside of church. I'm finally giving my time and money to organizations that are also honest enough to disclose what they're doing with my money. There is a great cost of remaining Mormon. In fact, the majority of Mormons vote with their feet and obviously feel that they're better off not remaining active in the church. I think if you look at how it "does so much goodness " for its members and the world you have to look at EVERYTHING it does. The people who choose to leave it or just not attend are automatically dismissed by you. They don't count. Even if some of them might testify that they've been damaged or harmed by it. The church would just say that it's their fault. Yes, the church does good, but it also does some harm. And if you look at what it does for the world, its contributions outside the LDS faith are a comparable tiny part of its overall intake...there are far many organizations that do more. Even on a spiritual level, there are many religions doing much more than the LDS church (by growing and outreach) and reaching far more people than the church does.

"The people are the problem not the organization."

I also disagree here. I think the people are good, sincere, honest but that the organization is flawed.

"The Church does not need to be compared to anyone or held to any standard other than the one the Lord has defined."

Of course any organization can create its own standards and then proclaim that they meet those standards better than anyone else. When I read Christ's words in the New Testament I often have a hard time reconciling them with many current practices in the church. But then, the current leaders can just modify things and say "this is what Christ REALLY wants." So, in essence they can just do what they want.

"I find nothing controversial. The quote must be read and understood in the context of its delivery. President Packer was talking to CES teachers."

I heard the entire talk and I think I understood the context. Unfortunately the ugly part of the history isn't only kept away from the youth. It's hidden altogether. I also don't think the problems with church history have anything to do with imperfect men and women. Take the Bible for example, the prophets are presented as imperfect. Their faults are exposed and clear. Hiding them in the current leaders only goes to prove that they have something to hide. You may consider it a brilliant concept but it's a path that many religions follow...Thousands of years ago, Plato described "Philosopher Kings" who control their followers by encouraging blind faith. They are the wise few who tell the people only what they think will do them some good. Isn't that exactly what Boyd K. Packer articulated in his speech? Nietzsche later likewise described the "pious lie" as the foundation of all priesthoods. The "pious lie" is told when people lie for what they think is the good of the masses. Joseph Smith also articulated the "pious lie" in the Plan of Salvation that Satan tried to persuade God to choose him as mankind's savior and he would run the earth as a "Philosopher King." The end justifies the means. No matter how you look at it, it's dishonest. Honest would be to say, "this isn't everything, but we're just telling you what we think you can understand right now."

 

Subject:

E-mail exchange with a CES Director...(names changed & long)...Pt 4

Date:

Jun 27 17:46

Author:

Fubeca


Fubeca:

I have finished reading your thoughts. I appreciate you sharing them with me. I have to share some real honest thoughts with you--I find it all to be very confusing for several reasons.

You seem to have some deep seeded feelings that go beyond questioning. I hear you one moment quoting the prophets and apostles to support your thinking and then the next I hear you say you don't believe they are who they claim to be, and at times you would have to admit you are very critical of them and their sacrifice in service to the Lord.

In several ways you clearly diminish their roles as husbands and fathers to poor examples in your mind. I'm sure when the brethren refer to their wives and families, they didn't intend their words to be used to make them look like domineering husbands holding down their spouses and diminishing their wonderful roles as wives and mothers. I also know many of the brethren personally, I know better than you that they do not joy in their time away from family. The way you speak of the brethren in my mind is dangerously close to speaking evil of the Lord's anointed.

Next, you quote scriptures to support your position and then discount scripture that tells you how to find out the truth. You are very philosophical which makes it most challenging for you to ever come to a knowledge of the truth because you can always start to go in circles with your thinking--you even admitted it in your writing. You talk about negative aspects of the Church and its people, then you ask how one can come to know the truth. I'm really not even sure what it is you are looking for. Do you really want to know if the Church is true, if the Prophets are called of God, that Joseph is a Prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is true? Or, what is it you are trying to accomplish? You even criticized the Old Testament prophets and The Lord. It almost sounded like you were using that example to blame the Church today. It doesn't make much sense to me quite honestly. If you do not believe the Church to be true and all that goes with it--why don't you leave? That is an honest question.

No individual can find truth or answers to honest questions until they admit something. They must either admit there is a way to know the truth, and there is a specific process, or that there is no way to find truth and/or no real truth exists. If a person admits there is a way then they must be working on the process. therefore, if a person wants to use scripture, and words of the prophets, then they must be used to identify and access the process, not to selectively support uncertainty. The process is not just asking questions, or making assumption. Fubeca, if the spirit is the way, you cannot discount the process. If you do not believe in the spirit as the process then you have a real challenge--there is no way the thinking of man, and his philosophies are, or ever will be sufficient. I noticed, you even admitted having felt the burnings of the spirit in the past--what happened? How have you come to discount those experiences now? You must either admit they occurred, or that you were deceived, or mistaken. Sounds like Heb. 10:32, 35-36 has occurred.

When quoting scripture and the prophets, be fair, and don't discount the greater volume of things said and taught that support the truthfulness of the Church and its leaders. I can take every one of your scriptures and quotes and find clear application to the truth. Be careful about being selective. Be careful about disregarding the process. Either use it or follow your current thought process and feelings. This is not just a matter of faith or putting things on the shelf. Be who you are, or find a better way--you do not sound happy or fulfilled in any way. I think you deserve better, but honestly, I can't tell really where you are coming from or where you want to go.

Stop waxing philisophical, stop quoting both ways. and tell me straight. You must understand, if this gospel and church are true then you have been critical of the Lord in every instance. You have diminished His character, nature, wisdom, knowledge, reasoning, process, church, and people--including yourself. I don't believe you have done so purposefully, but you need to know that is how you appear.

I honestly would love to experience discovery of truth with you. I say none of this in anger or belittlement--you just don't make sense to me. Explain to me how I am missing your meaning.

CES Guy


Dear Fubeca

My last email was a statement--this is a gospel question. Picture me asking in soft tones. Tell me how you read Alma chapters 32-33?
· What does the seed represent?
· When does faith enter the process?
· How is faith to be applied here?
· What is the "word" that is to be planted in the heart?

This is a one of the most simple and basic teachings of the Book of Mormon, and largely misunderstood. It has real relevance to our discussions.

CES Guy


Dear CES Guy,


What does the seed represent?
Our desire to believe
When does faith enter the process?
When we plant the seed in our hearts and let it work by nourishing it - praying, reading scriptures, keeping commandments, etc
How is faith to be applied here?
By doing the things I mentioned above...in other words, behaving as if one believed.
What is the "word" that is to be planted in the heart?
The words of the prophets in the scriptures and as they counsel us today? I'm also thinking the the "word" could refer to Christ and planting Him in our hearts through faith in Him, repentance, Baptism, Gift of HG, etc...

Dear Fubeca,

The seed is "the word" (Alma 32:28) generally. In the gospel there is "The" new and everlasting covenant which is all the covenants of the gospel. The gospel is not just teachings, it is covenants. Within the new and everlasting covenant are many "A" new and everlasting covenants like baptism, marriage etc. By entering into covenants and living them you can tell whether or not the seed ("The General Word") is good. Faith is used to nourish the seed by doing the things we are asked to do whether or not we completely understand. Faith increases as evidence of the seed's goodness appears, which in turn increases our faith. Faith is a gift, and it is only bestowed in increments by obedience to covenants. A desire to believe is different--it is what accesses everything else that must be earned. The word that we are to plant and nourish by our obedience and faith and desire is one word--the most important word. Alma 33:22 talks about the infinite atonement of Christ, and then in 33:23 we are asked to plant "this" word in our hearts. The antecedent of "this word" is the Atonement.

My friend, you are focusing your energy and time on the wrong things and missing the most important thing that will bring what you say you desire. You talked a lot about the brethren and how they seemed to glory or boast in their time away from home--you have missed the point of "The New and Everlasting Covenant". You and I do not volunteer in the Church. We did that one time at baptism. As we entered into "A" new and everlasting covenant of baptism, we covenanted to volunteer by assignment throughout the remainder of our lives. In the temple we enter into a covenant of consecration. In that covenant there is no word "willing" like unto the sacramental prayer that reminds us of our covenant of salvation. In the temple, within our covenants of exaltation, it states we will consecrate all we have and all we will have. This means--and most members still do not understand this--that when we receive callings or assignments, we do not fit the calling into our scheduled lives. It means we are to restructure our lives around the calling--that is what consecration means, and why sacrifice is coupled with consecration. That is why the Lord calls certain individuals who understand the covenant, and as a result they truly magnify their callings while many of the rest of us complain about meetings and time away from our families. Until we understand that the Father, and His Son, sacrificed everything in our behalf, and that if we are going to have the opportunity to receive the fullness (godhood) then the effort has to be commensurate to the promised blessing, we will never get it. We must sacrifice, not serve in convenience. Your characterization of the brethren is way off and not appropriate.

Further, for someone to try and justify an unwillingness to serve by using a position that they aren't sure the Church is true does not develop Godly trust nor instill confidence or pride in those we love. Being the foreordained priesthood holder that our wives and children need us to be is the real measure of character and integrity--and that often requires the hardest sacrifice of all in time away. The Lord did no less, and he expected no less from His disciples--why would He ask differently of us today? I personally think you use your family as an excuse to justify personal feeling you have that you cannot reconcile. I also believe you cannot reconcile those feelings because you have not planted the real seed, and are not nourishing it as the Lord expects. Dear brother, if you think the Lord sits with you--and membership in the Church is irrelevant here--when you feel and express yourself about the Church, the brethren, and the Lord's work the way you do, then you are mistaken. Our past service and faith means nothing for the future if we do not continue. The Lord is clear that He has blessed us up front with life, and that we are blessed immediately for our efforts now. As a result, we continue to be in His debt forever requiring us to be faithful daily.

Talking about what colored shirts we have to wear, and the kind of music we have in sacrament meeting and many other points are hollow and meaningless, not to mention petty compared to the Lord's sacrifice, love, and trust. You have been foreordained whether or not you believe it any longer, or even recognize it--your wife and children deserve a priesthood holder who can exercise that priesthood to bless their lives--not bring confusion. Pretending for their sakes is the weak response of love. Just because you and I hold it does not access the power--only upon strict obedience, faith, and sacrifice.

Before we explore any further, I tell you as a true friend, I won't waste my time with circular logic, and selective applications that miss the real point of life. There are not as many people as you would like to think that feel the way you do. There are people, however, that do not understand everything and have questions, but, most continue to live by faith and obedience until hope (which is actually a spiritual witness) comes increasing our faith, and in some instances bring a perfect knowledge. There are many people who have a perfect knowledge about what happens on the other side--you tried to use near death experiences as an example. I tell you as one who did not have a near death experience, but a live experience, of the work that goes on there. I have a perfect knowledge of this one thing--that it is the Lord's work and Church. When I feel I can trust you, and the spirit prompts, I may share what I experienced and how I know with you. Be careful about trying to support a position that you do not know with those who do.

There is much for you and me to learn--this is a school and not a race. Searching, analyzing, and questioning are wonderful. But, I think you have been spending time on the wrong things and missing the better part which actually brings the sure knowledge you desire. Understanding Alma's discourse is only the beginning. You might want to ask the Lord what He thinks.

Your Friend,
CES Guy

 

Subject:

IOW...

Date:

Jun 27 17:50

Author:

Preston Bissell


"Fast, pray, and follow the Brethren, and you'll know that I am right."
It appears like an exercise in futility to me.

 

Subject:

Reading the CES Director's responses is like witnessing the torture and crucifixion of...

Date:

Jun 28 03:22

Author:

Timmy Teaboy


truth, reason, logic, common sense and the English language--all at the same time. It's more painful to watch than the brutal violence of the Passion of the Christ or Kill Bill (take yer pick).

The non-sequiturs, circular arguments and fabrication of facts out of thin air are just mind boggling. He loves telling you that the "Lord" says this and commands that and expects such and such, without one iota of evidence that the "Lord" has ever said or done any such thing.

I like his fondness of arguments based on the two tracks of the gospel, namely, the stripped-down "Salvation" package for losers, which is the cosmological equivalent of riding in cramped economy-class seating for all of eternity, and the deluxe "Exaltation" package, which is the cosmological equivalent of first-class airline and hotel accommodations.

How any sane person with a reasonable grasp of proportionality and concepts of justice can think that something as significant as exaltation and godhood can be made conditional upon learning some bastardized Masonic handshakes and wearing a ridiculous 19th century Masonic costume, is beyond me. But, hey, who knows? Maybe god is a lunatic and the joke's on us.

I also like how the "spirit" that all those people in benighted religious faiths feel is really just "emotion", but the tender emotions that Mormons are urged and urged to feel toward their faith is really the "spirit". Uh-huh, uh-huh...Go on Mr. CES Director. And, you know when it's the spirit because the spirit makes you feel good about what you want to believe and you know that other people are just feeling meaningless emotions because the spirit would not give them feelings of conviction about anything that contradicts your beliefs. Okay...

The only reason that the CES Director did not end up drinking poison Kool-Aid in some nut job cult, or marrying 5 of his first cousins in an FLDS compound somewhere is that he was raised in the LDS cult instead of being born into a family that joined one of those other cults. The depth of his thinking is such that you can go wading in it and not get your socks wet. But he does sound like a nice-enough guy. At one point, as an immature TBM missionary, I probably would have tried using the same arguments he is using and maybe even have congratulated myself on my cleverness.

It's all kind of sad in a way--except for the hilarity of it all.

 

Subject:

Re: E-mail exchange with a CES Director...(names changed & long)...Pt 5

Date:

Jun 27 18:05

Author:

Fubeca


Dear CES Guy,

I just returned this past weekend from my charity ride that I mentioned to you. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life. Riding a 100 miles and sitting in airports also gave me a lot of time to think.

Do you get the feeling that what you're writing to me hits a brick wall and just doesn't sink in? I certainly do. I feel like you're reading the words I write but missing the meaning entirely and giving me answers that are the pat answers anyone indoctrinated in the church long enough would give me - which I certainly have thought through and considered having had all those pat answers ready to use on myself.

After thinking about it, I realized you must be feeling the same way with me. We're talking past each other.

A while ago you expressed that you were baffled by my use of scripture that I appeared not to believe in. What I was merely doing was showing that the opinion I was expressing was supported by the scripture that YOU believe in. It's the same thing I did as a missionary when I tailored the message to the audience I was speaking to. So, I can read the Book of Mormon and say that it repudiates David's polygamy while the D&C praises it and point out that there's a contradiction there without believing either book.

I'm not justifying anything I think by scripture, but I still think it's useful to show that scripture and prophetic quotes don't exactly justify your opinion either.

No matter how you rationalize it in your heart and mind, the way the church teaches it's history and doctrine is deceptive and dishonest. I feel deceived and lied to and no amount of "it doesn't matter" and "don't worry about that" will change that. Only honesty will.

There is NO WAY, as a 19 year old student at New York University, that I would have sacrificed a scholarship and two years of my life to proselyte in South America had I known that the church had omitted to tell me that Joseph Smith in his 30's had married 14-year olds behind his wife's back, that he had married other men's wives, that the Book of Mormon fails to describe any pre-Columbian civilization, that the Book of Abraham and Kinderhook plates provide strong evidence for Joseph's preference for pretended translations, that there are several conflicting versions of significant events such as the First Vision, priesthood authority, and the "translation" of the Book of Mormon!

In your original e-mail on DNA that I responded to, for example, you suggested that there is no church doctrine that Native Americans are Lamanites. Well, if that's not doctrine as you say, then nothing really is. For if we're supposed to ignore scripture, 150 years of prophetic utterances and church lesson manuals, what is there that IS doctrine? I find it almost comical that I'm supposed to set aside all that and yet still put my trust in scriptures, the prophets and church lesson manuals today. It's a dishonest answer to a complicated question.

For if the scriptures and prophets can't tell the difference between the ideas of man and holy inspiration (as they obviously couldn't in this case...and there are many others) why should I listen to anything that they say? Doing so is just putting your trust in the arm of flesh. And since you mentioned covenants and how it will bless my family, remember a covenant is between 2 parties. When I studied, I was living in accordance with all my covenants and my concern has always been for my family. It became quite clear that the other party - God (as represented by the church) failed to live up to the standard He set. By that I mean honesty, truth and giving me the free-agency to decide what information is pertinent to my testimony and what I'd like to discard in favor of faith rather than having that decision made for me by His self-proclaimed servants. The LDS church doesn't have any credibility when it comes to speaking for what an unchangeable God commands of us.

So, all the council and recitation you mention below and in other e-mails presupposes that the LDS scriptures and leaders are Godly and all I need to do is fall in line with it. That argument falls flat when I've spent my whole life doing that only to find out I was misled. I can't think of any reason to trust their teachings - all of them. And you haven't been able to provide one either. The arguments you use have been used by every charismatic religion on the face of the earth since the beginning of time to keep adherents in line. Since arguments like this appear to be of man, my concern for my family leads me to believe that they're better off without it. The hurt and betrayal that I felt is not something I want my kids to go through.

Early on in my heritage, individuals left their religions for what they believed was true. The truth was paramount, not the teachings they grew up with or their family's opinions. People like this are used as object lessons in the church. I feel like I'm in a twilight zone, however, when you and others want me to disregard truth as irrelevant and stick with what I've been given. Loyalty for loyalty's sake isn't an admirable trait. Neither is obedience, and sacrifice if the objects of those virtues aren't worthy of them. There are plenty of people loyal and obedient to dishonorable causes. Sacrificing for a fantasy isn't godly.

As someone once said, "a cult is someone else's religion." I don't see how self-examination on the part of any religion is a bad thing - trying to see how others see us and maybe learning something in the process. You are right that I may miscalculate the number of people who feel like I do. I think that's a common human error - one that the church makes as well and uses to its advantage. As a former missionary to Brazil, I was curious as to the strength of the church down there. The church reports almost a million members in that country. Crosschecking the Brazilian census figures, only about 1/4 of that number report themselves as being LDS. In other words, 3/4 of the people on the church's rolls don't even consider themselves LDS. When you take a generous activity rate maybe half of those who identify as LDS are active at all, the church presence down there is probably in the 100,000 range. Will you ever see something like that reported in the Church News? Thinking that a lot more people are like us is a human trait, not an apostate one.

I guess what it comes down to is that I'm unwilling to shut off my brain the minute I step into the foyer of the church as the church wants me to. Past leaders have emphasized that that is an unwarranted expectation. Current leaders demand it. As you said, all the talk about shirt colors and earrings is meaningless, but that's mostly what we get on Sundays and elsewhere. It's just like the Pharisees of old and you're right, it is not in line with Christ's teachings. I'm not the one who emphasizes it. The Church is preoccupied with exteriorities. It prizes righteousness over holiness and image over inspiration.

I also don't believe the leaders necessarily gloat in time away from family, but they still take it and they expect others to as well. In the end, it's still time away from their families and they ARE choosing it. They choose it because they believe God expects it of them. I believe God would prefer them to be at home fathers. I suppose if you believe the story of the Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, then it all makes sense and is a better tradeoff. Leaving them alone is better than killing them. From that world view it makes perfect sense...be willing to sacrifice your family for God.

But when I read some FARMS arguments, a point that they'll make is that arguments made against the Book of Mormon can also be made against the Bible to prove it wrong. They're right, of course. But it only succeeded in convincing me to study the origin of the Bible as well. There's as much killing, fornication, and historical inaccuracies in the Bible as there are in the Book of Mormon.

I've found that the "good stuff" of the church is just as available and abundant other places without the arrogance of being the only ones who are right. I don't have to believe in "follow the prophet" to be a good father and husband. I don't have to participate in temple ceremonies to be a good neighbor and love my fellow man. I don't have to be assigned to people in order to serve others.

Further thought, prayer and study leads me to believe that the creator of the universe is bigger and better than the LDS church ever led me to believe. So while an LDS Apostle might not be a prophet, they can still say some good things. The following quote is a wise one by Russell M. Nelson. I wish he would teach the church this principle.

"Each religion should be free to propagate itself among present and future generations, so long as it does not use coercive or fraudulent means. Its practices should not interfere with the peace of society. Each religion has a right to present its message in an orderly way to all who are interested. How can we have freedom of religion if we are not free to compare honestly, to choose wisely, and to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience? While searching for the truth, we must be free to change our mind-even to change our religion-in response to new information and inspiration. Freedom to change one's religion has been emphasized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. One's religion is not imposed by others. It is not predetermined. It is a very personal and sacred choice, nestled at the very core of human dignity." (Freedom to Do and to Be, Russell M. Nelson, International Scientific and Practical Conference "Religious Freedom: Transition and Globalization", Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 27 May 2004) http://www.lds.org/newsroom/voice/display/0,18255,5004-1-121,00.html
I realize he was speaking to a group of global religious leaders and that he was speaking about religions such as Islam that forbid out-switching but leaders and members of the LDS church should not be excluded from this declaration. You shouldn't be telling me that I should stick with it because I was "foreordained" or because of my family. I believe that I should stick with newfound truth based on "new information and inspiration." My human dignity demands as much.

So, why don't I just leave as you said....

It's not so easy. I've sacrificed, served and spent my entire lifetime in it. All my family members are in it. Even if I did leave, it would remain a part of me no matter how hard I tried to leave it behind. You can't just dump something that was so fully a part of you for so long. I guess I've been hoping that all that wasn't in vain and there truly was a good reason to stick with it. I guess I hoped you'd provide a reason that I hadn't thought of already. Perhaps someone knows something that I've been missing...but I haven't seen it. I've prayed. I've pondered. I've studied. I've left it alone on a shelf. I've gone back and tried again but it's a dry well and you will be incapable of believing this but now... I'm happier. The world makes more sense than it ever did before and I'm more in awe and wonder than I ever thought possible.

Thanks for your willingness to discuss stuff and do it honestly and frankly.

Take care,

Fubeca


Fubeca:

I don't believe you do pray. And, it is obvious to me you do not understand in the very least what a real relationship with deity is.

President Harold B. Lee said that we get answers from those sources we tend to obey. That could be God, the adversary, or even men. He shared a story about when he was the stake president they excommunicated a man. The man's brother came up to him afterwards and said that President Lee was wrong that his brother was not guilty of the things presented. President Lee asked him how he knew his brother was innocent. The man told him he knew because he prayed about it and received an answer that his brother was innocent.

President Lee invited the man into his office and proceeded to ask him questions. Was he active, did he pray, read his scriptures, keep the word of wisdom, wear his garments, pay his tithing? To each one of these questions he said no. Then President Lee asked him why he thought the Lord would reveal anything important regarding His work to a man who is not worthy of the Spirit. The man could not respond.

A person does not need to commit serious sin to become disqualified from the Spirit--simply not doing the things that bring the Spirit separates an individual from the gift. And, if a person is not doing the things that the Lord has taught will bring the Spirit, then that person is not entitled to it, regardless of what they think their standing is before the Lord. A person will indeed receive answers to their questions from the sources they tend to obey.

I say this carefully, it appears from your writing that you do not pray, and from your list, you probably do many of the things you criticize the church for setting standards against. Further, in referring to Percale’s Wager, you probably do not pay your tithing. Usually someone who espouses these kinds of attacks are individuals who are not living specific laws and often use that kind of logic to justify themselves. All of the other things are the least of your problems if you are not paying your tithing, not wearing garments, attending the temple and thus not keeping your most sacred covenants--but that doesn't matter to someone who eases their conscience by discounting the truth of something so they don't feel guilty. Not to mention your continual biting comments of good people who serve the Lord. Also, most individuals who are critical of the brethren and talk about how much time the Church takes away from the family are usually individuals who have other interests in mind, and spend the same amount of time if not more away from home doing other things. Finding fault is a way to justify ones own personal interests. If this is true, then you are no different from the man President Lee spoke about, and as a result, you are not entitled to the correct source of truth even though you consider yourself a member in good standing--I do not. Everything you write about and espouse to at this point seems to reveal your spiritual standing and possible reasons why. The Lord knows your heart and your level of obedience.

I think your challenge is that you are an intellectual man. If not carefully balanced, it can lead to a need for recognition and give birth to a puffy self-esteem--I sense that very clearly in your writing. If you are seeking from a natural man's perspective, you will receive man's answers. No amount of justification or reasoning will change that fact. I do not think you are a sincere seeker of truth in any way. I do think you have some serious hidden problems that you and the Lord know about, and that you try to hide under a false premise that you are seeking answers and want innocent dialogue. I feel sorry for you because in every instance you are missing the better part of life with poor scholarship and reasoning.

CES Guy

 

Subject:

Pt 6...last one...He never wrote back

Date:

Jun 27 18:07

Author:

Fubeca


Dear CES Guy,

Ouch!

Actually, I understand completely where you're coming from and I think you are extremely sincere and honest. Thank you.

I know that the best way to deal with issues like this is to always blame the individual. Since the church is perfect, then it HAS to be the individual’s fault. The problem is that you're looking at it backwards as it pertains to my life. I was paying tithing, attending the temple, reading my scriptures, praying, keeping the word of wisdom, wearing my garments, and serving in a calling when I realized that it isn't what it claims to be. In fact, I continued to do so for years in the very hope that I was wrong and that as the church promised that would make it all better. There was no attempt at justification. I'm sure you think that my heart still wasn't in the right place or I couldn't have come to the conclusion that I've come to, but like you said, God knows my heart and the order that things happened. I know from personal experience that you're wrong.

In fact, early on in this process I heard my bishop declare from the pulpit that he's never known anyone who doubted their testimony that was keeping the commandments. Right then I knew he was wrong because I was keeping the commandments and I doubted my testimony. I also knew I couldn't go talk to him. The more I think about it, the less I am able to differentiate that line of thinking from what cults do to program their members not to leave.

That, I think, was even more powerful evidence than anything I read or discovered. I realized that that whole process and reasoning you just described is wrong. For I ended up happier, closer to the Almighty (granted, He's not the same God you think I should be close to because yours isn't real) and more at peace than I should have, given the philosophy you outlined. It was interesting how church members and relatives noted it without knowing what was going on and commented how my "countenance shone with the spirit." I'm sure you'd disagree with them since you have actually taken the time to talk and listen, but that only proves how much information molds our opinions and impressions.

Rather than become a dark and depraved individual that most LDS believe apostates to be, I found incredible joy in learning the truth and in being free to question everything. There is incomprehensible pleasure in learning, challenging and being challenged - something that I never explored in the church. After all, who needs to learn when you already have all the answers?
Still, much more of the world has made sense to me than ever before. As I mentioned earlier, anything in the world that conflicts with LDS beliefs is taught to be shelved or submitted to the more powerful knowledge of a testimony to be answered sometime in the afterlife. If a prophet didn't say it, you don't need to worry about it. In a sense it was binding. Without this testimony, I could actually consider concepts and see things that either I was told were false or I was told don't matter. I can't accurately describe the feeling of freedom that it produced. It's like a clamp was removed from my brain. There's no longer a narrow range of options for considering truth and I don't have to know all the answers! Not knowing actually feels better!
I know you think I've done something wrong that caused me to "fall." Quite the contrary, though, I felt cleaner and more alive than I ever have! I feel like I've risen rather than fallen. It didn't change my innate character or make me feel like I had lost something. According to church doctrine, I should have felt a loss of the spirit but I felt no such thing. I felt an increase in love for the members of my family and for mankind. I felt and continue to feel a greater awe for nature, the universe, mankind, human thought, and the human condition than I ever have before.

You're right, I don't pray as a Mormon anymore, but I do pray.

I believe the same thing about you that you believe about me. That is that your heart really isn't interested in the truth because it is so focused on obedience and the rest of the fog that the church blows our way that you wouldn't be able to see it if knocked you on the head. You have a great need to justify your own life choices just as you say I do. Forty plus years of dedication to a cause doesn't exactly lend itself to objective thinking - especially if it pays the mortgage and you have no other marketable skills. The incentives for you to justify the church even if it were less than true are much greater than any incentive I have to justify my supposed "sins."

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back. So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new ones arise. (Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World, page 240)

Men like yourself usually deal with your cognitive dissonance such as this by justifying unjustifiable behavior (such as the church's lying) and when painted into a corner will claim special experiences that you can't talk about for doing so would reveal that there's nothing there.

I know you believe that "Our leaders are human beings with weaknesses like everyone else and they make mistakes too." OK, then if they're human, why don't they behave like humans are expected to and humbly admit mistakes, repair damage and behave in an open, adult and non-manipulative way? If repentance is one of the basic principles of the gospel, why are there no examples of our leaders repenting for their behavior as leaders? Isn't leading by example the most powerful way to teach? Wouldn't that tend to draw others to Christ more powerfully than the "all our decisions are inspired" image they staunchly uphold?

They can't stand up in General Conference and claim special links to divinity by saying, "Follow the brethren. They'll never lead you astray." "When the prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done" "Whether it be by my own voice or the voice of my servants it is the same." These are not the statements of men asking to be accepted as ordinary humans. It is hypocritical of them to make these statements and claims then turn around and wonder why they're not given the benefit of the doubt. Their own statements require a higher standard, I believe. "Where much is given, much is required." Carl Sagan said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Unfortunately the evidence doesn't corroborate their stories.

I have some level of sympathy for you and these modern leaders. They've attained a position that they've always revered and upon arriving they must be suffering incredible cognitive dissonance. The fear they (and you) must experience if they ever allow themselves to humbly admit that the emperor has no clothes is surely much more intense than mine. No, they most likely formulate a rationale in their mind to support their claims to higher contact.

Instead of the extraordinary claims common in the early days of the church, for example, modern General Authorities hedge their bets by claiming that they've had experiences that they can't talk about because they're "too sacred." I've had special experiences that I could easily label as "too sacred to talk about" if I wanted to and thus self-justify my high calling and position. It would be a good tool! It's interesting that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and all the ancient prophets always spoke freely of their sacred experiences. In fact, their calling was to witness of these occurrences. Temple ceremonies are explained in detail in the Old Testament and Joseph Smith never failed to produce details of spiritual experiences with God and angels. Jesus says that everything he has ever spoken has been in public, never in secret.

Actually SACRED and SECRET were not synonyms as used now in the church. Secrecy is repudiated in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Why then this sudden secrecy with today's modern "special witnesses?" Aren't they refusing to do what they've been called to do; that is, witness regarding something special that they've experienced? I have yet to hear something truly special from a modern church authority that can't be heard every fast Sunday in my own ward.

I once heard an anecdote about Elder Vaughn Featherstone (I don't know if it's true or not) being asked if Christ were to come and tell him the church isn't true what would he do. His reply was that he'd still believe. I find that incredible but in keeping with how I would have felt as a faithful LDS. Yet, isn't that what Joseph Smith was describing when he talked about the unpardonable sin.
"What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin?.... He has got to say the sun doesn't shine while he sees it;...." (Hist of the Ch 6:314)
I recognize that there are many things we humans do not know, but I would rather be with those who admit that they don't know and are searching than with those who proclaim falsely that they do know and therefore don't care about the rest.

As Galileo said: "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

If my great crime is thinking too much, I'm willing to suffer for it. For I believe it is you who is missing the better part of life. Not thinking only produces men like those who followed the man below...

"What luck for leaders that men do not think." - Adolph Hitler

It probably won't happen, but one day it might dawn on you. You might be sitting in the temple and realize they again changed or removed something you previously believed to be essential; You might be struggling to find fulfillment in a calling you know was a calling of desperation rather than inspiration; You might be looking around at your fellow sister Saints and wonder why so many of them are depressed and on medication; You might have a close friend or loved one who happens to be gay and who struggles to find themselves in the midst of a religion that abhors them; You might tire of continually eliminating doctrine as soon as evidence surfaces to prove it wrong; You might hear the prophet hem and haw on national television and realize he doesn't even believe it - or doesn't have the courage to hold it up to the light of day; You might find the very reasoning in your cherished scriptures that terrorists use to kill your countrymen; You might one day be asked to drink the Kool-Aid; You might one day value truth over happiness.

In the meantime, we'll have to both agree to disagree and let truth and time tell the story. I sincerely wish only the best for you and others in my family and ward who believe and "know" as you do. I still say a testimony based on false information is a false testimony and you're as susceptible to self delusion as you believe the rest of the human race is in their beliefs.

Fubeca

 

Subject:

Question for you Fubeca...

Date:

Jun 27 19:01

Author:

Questioner


The CES guy wrote, "I do think you have some serious hidden problems that you and the Lord know about"

Is he referring to masturbation? I figure since 99% of all men do, then this must be what he was talking about!

 

Subject:

No clue but

Date:

Jun 27 19:24

Author:

Fubeca


It’s a pretty typical response by people in the church and in just about any cult. If you disagree or are apostate, it's because of some deep hidden sin rather than a weakness in the doctrine or belief.

I have no idea if he was trying to target masturbation as some hidden sin of mine. Since even LDS believe that no one is perfect and sins to some extent, it's an easy claim. If everyone is sinning to some degree, the weak minded will think "Oh no, he knows something. I must repent!" And those like me who refuse to be so manipulated are just hard-hearted and rebellious.

The truth is you can't honestly question anything in their minds. It just isn't allowed. I broke that rule so I'm bad.

 

Subject:

His response was typical of a TBM

Date:

Jun 27 19:40

Author:

Preston Bissell


"Since you don't agree with me, there must be something wrong with you." It's very typical TBM thinking. If he can marginalize you, by identifying you as a "sinner", then anything you say may be discounted.
It seems to me, in reading your exchanges with CES Guy, that he never actually responded to a single point you raised. His whole belief system seems to be based on "feelings", and anything of the intellect is to be discounted.

 

 

Subject:

Very interesting

Date:

Jun 27 19:15

Author:

questioner


I am so glad that you posted that entire exchange. I actually feel sorry for the CES guy. I used to have so much anger at people like that, and at the church organization, and the general authorities, but now I pity those members. He can't really help himself because his whole worldview is founded on indoctrination based on falsehoods. He truly can't understand you.

 

Subject:

HOLY CANOLIE... Fubeca!, that has got to be one of my favorite email exchanges of all time....

Date:

Jun 27 19:37

Author:

Craig Paxton


that was absolutely brilliant.

I think you lost him at "Hello" as he had drunken the Cool Aid long ago....

I have saved this whole exchange to my special
**FUBECA FILE**

Thanks for sharing this with all of us ...

 

 

Subject:

Totally predictable responses from CES guy; if you are not on the same page with me, there is

Date:

Jun 27 20:04

Author:

SusieQ#1


something wrong with you.

CES guy takes the position that it is only impossible for someone not to come to the same faith based conclusion as I do unless they are sinning - in particular, in denial of some grievous sin.

If you do not say things the way I want to hear them, I won't talk to you.

If you don't get the same answer that I do, I don't believe you are praying.

CES guy is in the right -- always. Everyone else who does not agree with him is wrong, sinning, etc.

CES guy is in his little Mormon Box with his Mormon Blinders on and cannot be objective as his thinking is twisted into that Mormon pretzel. He might as well be in a straight jacket.

This is a great example of the power of magical thinking and how it over rides, even shuts down completely, any objective thinking, critical thinking skills, logic and reason, and just plain old common sense.

His arrogance is so deafening I can't hear what he says!!

He ignored much of what you said, he side stepped some of it, seemed to purposely find some way to excuse your thinking because of how you said it, why you said it, and if all else failed, refused to believe you! He wiggled around insinuating you needed to feel guilt, and shame and fear.

I applaud your efforts to keep going and keep him on task, however, through no fault of your own, he was unable to track with you, and stay on target.

CES guy shows he is a sad, pitiful, pathetic human being. So much for Mormonism! What a total shame!

Always, always there is something evil, sinful, wrong, not worthy with those who leave Mormonism.

 

 

Subject:

He reminds me a little of Tom Cruise to Matt Lauer

Date:

Jun 27 20:52

Author:

Makurosu


"You haven't studied the history of psychiatry. I have."

"There will always be cynics."

Same deal. Groups like Scientology and Mormonism work on their junk science until it's difficult to refute unless you are an expert on the subject. I've tried to argue with the Evergreen folks for years, and it's just pointless. They are well coached in their debate tactics, and you can't win. And that's all they want. They don't want to be right. They just want to win arguments.

That being said, he seems like a nice guy. I was kind of sucked into wanting to be his friend reading that.

 

 

Subject:

I really, really, really, really hope this gets archive in the short topics!

Date:

Jun 27 23:21

Author:

Alee


Thank you for posting all of this.

I read it completely and thoroughly. All of your concerns are/were my concerns. All of your findings are my findings. I also feel more free and happy with newfound respect for life, the Creator and mankind.

If he ever does reply, I want to see it. I have a feeling that was his last and final judgment upon you, but who knows? He might use some more righteous indignation on you!

 

Subject:

Why you should never argue with a TBM...

Date:

Jun 28 00:05

Author:

pkdfan2


"intellectual responses ... die quietly and insignificantly at the door of inspired minds. CES guy

That pretty much sums it up!

 

Subject:

How I handle these types

Date:

Jun 28 01:01

Author:

Bob


This guy wasn't a FARMS guy. He was a spiritualist. To him I would say, "I tried Moroni's promise, and it didn't work."

He would say, "You did it wrong."

We would have a brief discussion and go our separate ways. Eventually he may see that the promise doesn't always work for everyone, but probably not.

Thanks,
Bob

 

Subject:

If you read his last response, basically he said ...

Date:

Jun 28 04:28

Author:

Timmy Teaboy


Because you don't believe, I can tell that you aren't worthy of the spirit and must be doing something that makes you unworthy of the spirit and I know this because if you were living worthily, the spirit would tell you that the church is true.

With people like this, there is only one possible answer and if everything you experience and observe tells you that their ONE TRUE ANSWER is actually false, it's because you aren't worthy of their ONE TRUE ANSWER. People who are worthy of their ONE TRUE ANSWER, do not even have to think about things such as logic, evidence, reliability, facts and history because the ONE TRUE ANSWER trumps everything else and they "know" that the ONE TRUE ANSWER is the only correct answer because the ONE TRUE ANSWER says that it is, and if you don't believe that, just consult the ONE TRUE ANSWER, which plainly states that it is the ONE TRUE ANSWER. If you still doubt after that or experience negative feelings, they come from the evil anti-ONE TRUE ANSWER, yeah, verily, even the ADVERSARY of the ONE TRUE ANSWER. You have to keep working on yourself and keep working on yourself and keep working on yourself until you can feel good emotions (aka the "Spirit") telling you that the ONE TRUE ANSWER is good.

And if that gives you a headache, it's only because you don't have the spirit--the spirit of imbecilic idiocy that guarantees that the CES Director will remain a clueless fool for all or substantially all of what remains of his narrow, boxed, sealed and taped-up little life in the Mormon cult--a cult that thrives in direct proportion to the ignorance of its members about its own history and past teachings.

 

Subject:

Wow, this is incredible!

Date:

Jun 28 01:43

Author:

Jael


Thanks for posting it. That CES guy was seriously driving me nuts with his overweening, condescending attitude.

I'm also saving this thread. I enjoyed the entire thing. I particularly loved the part that you mentioned that you felt your "free agency" had been violated by withholding information, and thereby withholding legitimate choice. When I was discovering all this as a TBM, I felt exactly that way, but I've never heard anyone else phrase it like that. It's always nice to know I'm not alone in my feelings and perceptions.

If he does respond, please post it!

My only advice would be that now that you've given the church one last chance, stop grasping for straws and let it go. There's nothing any TBM can or will ever say to make the church be true. It simply is not, and there's nothing they can do. So, stop beating your head against a brick wall. On the other hand, if you enjoy these kind of exchanges with TBMs (which just frustrate me), by all means, go ahead!

 

Subject:

Have we been talking to the same TBM?

Date:

Jun 28 04:32

Author:

missinglink


No, I'm sure we haven't - but all these closed-minded mopologists are basically the same from a rhetorical standpoint. I had one send me pictures he'd drawn showing how I'd lost my connection to the HG and thus my connection to the source of all truth. Riiiggghhhttt!

Thanks for sharing. I could relate to your situation fairly well since I'm in my 40s and was serving as a councilor in the bishopric at the time I was blind-sided by the "rest of the story" the Morg desperately doesn't want anyone to know. Your exchange reminded me quite a bit of my own debates with various TBMs over the past two+ years.

 

Subject:

Reading the responses of the CES Director made me think of John and Mary.

Date:

Jun 28 05:00

Author:

Timmy Teaboy


In fact, it was like a deja vu all over again. I swear that John and Mary and the CES Director share the same soul.

I'm of course talking about the John and Mary of "Kissing Hank's A**" fame.

For those who haven't read it, please do. For those who have read it before, read it again and see whether the "spirit" tells you that the CES Director is a close relative of John and Mary. ;0)

http://www.jhuger.com/kisshank.php

 

Subject:

Absolutely Incredible

Date:

Jun 28 06:32

Author:

Silent One


Thank-you so much for sharing those long and fascinating email exchanges. I understood everything you said and wrote about..

 

 

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