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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 04:00PM

My sister invited me to attend an interfaith gathering being held at a Mormon chapel in her neighbourhood last Sunday. It’s one of the various community groups she’s active with, although she’s not overtly religious. They try to work together on community projects, as women of different backgrounds and faiths with a common purpose. The co-leader of the interfaith group is a Mormon woman who often invites the ladies to hold their meetings and give their presentations in Mormon Land. My sister had been asked to give the opening prayer and she called to get my help editing it ahead of time, lol, and invited me to go to the meeting. I said I’d go, only to support her.

When she later gave me the address I realized it’s the very place the bishop sent me to see the church psychologist, his prescription for my unhappiness as a recent Mormon joiner. I had questions, you see, and that is apparently a bad sign, like you’re not faithful enough to magically receive inspiration from above but instead have to keep asking these pesky questions which to Mormon bishops are apparently “doubts” and doubts are not good. They reflect a darkness of your soul, or something. And having doubts apparently signifies sin.

I surprised myself in that even picturing the chapel in my head and its large front expanse of lawn evoked negative memories and feelings of that most unhelpful Mormon psychologist, an abrupt cold kind of guy who sat at his desk eating a meal while I was across from him and a little behind so could only see the side of his face. Somehow, without even much discussion and certainly no rapport, he concluded that I was a lost cause. Mercifully, I can’t recall the exact conversation now except that therapeutic it wasn’t. He seemed angry from the start for reasons I couldn’t fathom and it was very off-putting.

I’ve written here before how I left his office, went outside and without regard for rules or courtesy walked across their big lawn all the way out of Mormonism into a freer, fuller, more fun-filled and useful life.

I ended up telling my sister last week that I didn’t want to go to the interfaith meeting after all. However, to my surprise, that small dark cloud of my Mormon interlude hovered for a while just at the thought of being in that chapel again and its image kept flashing through my mind, one of a few dark memories of my ill-fated foray into Mormonism, my uninformed and stupid choice to join and the negative experiences there that at the time made me feel bad about myself.

I couldn’t write about it last Sunday because unexpectedly it was a downer for me, bringing back some of the negative memories of that time.

One of the biggest strains for me was having “made promises” from which I backtracked. I had the same issue with leaving the JWs – promises made but not kept. I was stuck for a while just on that part (the imperative to keep promises and especially oaths).

I had invested much more in the JWs (commitments, friendships, sacrifices, time) than with the Mormons. I always felt confused in Mormonism as none of the promised answers materialized, even in the temple, as advertised. When I think about it, that ancient song “What’s it all about, Alfie” pops into my head because that was my biggest question with Mormonism – what??? When they said all would be revealed in the temple and it wasn’t (because who answers questions in the temple) that was the beginning of the end for me with them.


Here’s that Alfie song, just for fun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCZNzydsLzU


My biggest problem was thinking you cannot go back on sacred promises, as with the JWs. Certainly once you’ve made promises and sacrifices it can be difficult to backtrack.

It makes me think of another old song: ‘Dance with the one that brought you’

I kind of had that mindset when joining both groups – that I’ve made an unbreakable commitment – so going back on it was difficult to come to terms with, both times (but it was easier with Mormonism in which I was much less invested than with the JWs in my teen years when things are so intense anyway).

However, the next line in the dance song is ‘… stay with the one that wants you’

Neither group wanted *me* I came to see – but the number’s the thing with them. Forever counting numbers and undervaluing people.


Here’s a cute video of that song too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcBplbfXgSY


Fortunately, I can’t now recall the exact conversation with the Mormon psychologist. The negative feelings still hover though when the memories return, as they did with the prompt from my sister’s invite.


So the Mormons can relax. Their grass is safe from me. I won’t be crossing it again.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2023 04:02PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: RPackham ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 05:16PM

Nightingale wrote:
>My biggest problem was thinking you cannot go back on sacred promises,...

A covenant is a contract, based on mutual promises and on the existence of certain facts understood and accepted by both parties. I promise to do this if you promise to do that. Both legally and morally, if one party doesn't keep his part of the bargain, or if it should turn out that the basic facts are not as both parties assumed, the other party is not required to perform. To claim otherwise would be absurd.

The covenants made in the Mormon temple are similar. The Mormon covenants to do certain things (obey, sacrifice, be chaste, give everything to the church if asked, etc.) and to refrain from doing certain things (revealing the secret handshakes, names, and other details of the ritual). The Mormon makes these covenants after having been told that the underlying facts are:

the "other party" to the covenants is God;
God wants the Mormon to make these covenants;
God will bless the Mormon in many wonderful ways if the Mormon makes the covenants and keeps his part of the bargain;
there is no other way to obtain those blessings from God, other than making those covenants.

When it turns out that those facts are not really true, the parties are no longer bound

Promises are also made during a marriage ceremony. If the couple later divorces, would you feel that the wife was still morally bound to love, honor and obey, especially if it was acts of the husband that caused the divorce?

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 05:45PM

There's also the issue of "competency"...

Not you, Night-in-gale; ghawd.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 05:52PM

RPackham Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When it turns out that those facts are not
> really true, the parties are no longer bound

> Promises are also made during a marriage
> ceremony. If the couple later divorces, would you
> feel that the wife was still morally bound to
> love, honor and obey, especially if it was acts of
> the husband that caused the divorce?

Thanks, Richard. I haven't thought of it that way, as in both parties have their part to play.

Worrying about retracting "sacred" vows was something I struggled with back in the day but no longer. I did realize at a certain point that I wasn't bound but couldn't put it into words really. It was much easier for me with Mormonism because missionaries and members had solemnly promised that all would be revealed in the temple and after my first time through (for which I travelled from B.C. to SLC - you know, the extra special place), when I was even more confused about doctrine and beliefs and practices and commitments and expectations, things were even more muddy and never cleared up.

With the JWs it's different because they do give prospective converts all the info and expectations up front and don't rush people into baptism (at least, not at the time I was dunked) because to them, far more important than the individual is the reputation of their organization and they don't want to gather in a big bunch of folks that are going to get them a bad name through being less than sterling examples of the wonderful world of Jehovah. That's partly why they're quick to disfellowship people, to protect the organization at all costs, even if it means throwing members overboard.

So that was hard for me to walk away from. Mormonism was easy as I wasn't nearly so invested in it and hadn't sacrificed much or stayed in very long, unlike with the JWs where I cancelled my pursuit of an RN degree and moved across the country to be a missionary for them. Too, they preached about leaving one's non-JW family if they weren't interested in "The Truth". That I could not do, at least in the end, when it mattered the most. Thankfully.

As for the marriage vows, good example. There's no rule of the universe that a vow must be honoured forever no matter what occurs in the future. If you mean it at the time but in the light of further knowledge and experience you reconsider that's reasonable.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2023 05:54PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: March 20, 2023 12:57PM

The connection between religious covenants and legal contracts only goes so far, and only by loose analogy.

First, the very existence of "God" --as a viable party to the contract--is questionable. Contracts require competent agents who make real promises that bind them to each other. The harder it is to identify such an agent, the less viable that 'person' is as a potential party to a contract. Second, there is the matter of *consideration* which essentially means what each party gives up and receives something of true value as per the contract. Third, there is the question of enforceability.

Religions like to frame commitments and promises legalistically in order to psychologically snare believers into thinking that their transitory, context-dependent, promises and commitments, are in fact 'eternal,' in some sense enforceable, covenants that will result in dire consequences in the event of the believer's breach. Notice, however, that such consequences only occur if the believer breaches. There is no accountability whatsoever if God breaches. In fact, as a matter of principle--if not definition--we are told that God cannot breach the covenant. The believer is not even allowed to consider such a thing as part of the *contractual* equation implied by the covenant.

In addition, God's promises and covenants always remain entirely vague, loose, and non-formalistic: First, unlike a genuine contract, there is no corresponding "formal" commitment by God to the individual. Believers get baptized, go to temples, take sacraments, etc., all symbolically acknowledging their "promises" to God. So, what "formalities" are there on God's side of the covenant? Nothing but a few general and entirely rhetorical pronouncements. Moreover, unlike with real contracts, there is nothing substantive to "cash-in" to enforce the agreement if God fails to meet His obligations. For with God there is no 'evidence' that counts against God's keeping *His* promise: There are no facts, experiences, circumstances etc., where a believer is allowed to say, "That's it, God broke His promise." Thus, whatever happens to the believer, the believer is assured that God's promise remains entirely viable, and in full force and effect. This means that the continued viability of the *covenant* rests solely on the performance of one party, the believer.

Logically, the above factors entirely destroy the analogy that a religious "covenant" is like a legal contract. Such covenants are not contracts after all: First, the entire elusiveness of identifying one of the parties; Second, the 'lack of consideration' to support the existence of a contract even assuming that God indeed exists as an agent capable of entering into such contracts; and third, the lack of enforceability in the event of God's breach. I can, of course, walk away from the "contract" if I perceive that God has breached, but unlike a real contract, I cannot enforce God's part of the bargain; I cannot secure a legal determination of such a breach, or hold God accountable for such breach, much less recover specific performance or monetary damages. (Think about the *covenant* of tithing!)

In short, you cannot have a contract where regardless of what happens in the future one "party" is always in the 'right,' and the other party is always in the 'wrong.' That is just another form of religious indoctrination.

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Posted by: catnip ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 05:28AM

A big shout-out to Richard, who nailed the issue as always.

And Nighty, your genuine, from-the-heart sharing always catches my attention.

Thank you both.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 02:11PM

I agree, catnip.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 06:20PM

Nightingale, you made promises based on false information.

You have always seemed to me to be a very sincere individual, as am I. And I think it comes as a shock to realize at some point that many people do not have that level of sincerity or good will. Joseph Smith did not have that, and Brigham Young did not have that. Not even close. The church never deserved your sincerity.

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Posted by: Kentish ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 07:27PM

At the risk of changing the subject, can Mormons involved in interfaith groups really work with non Mormons for a "common purpose"? The cynic in me is not convinced that the common purpose can be dealt with seriously by Mormons whose prime directive is to convert to The church. Can they participate in such groups without self-serving motives.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 08:10PM

I share your doubt that Mormons can do that with sincerity, but I suspect that to one degree or another the hypocrisy is shared by those who likewise feel a "prime directive" to convert others.

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Posted by: Kentish ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 03:29PM

Lot's Wife Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I share your doubt that Mormons can do that with
> sincerity, but I suspect that to one degree or
> another the hypocrisy is shared by those who
> likewise feel a "prime directive" to convert
> others.


My experience is that when groups of believers from various versions of the same join together they are not generally about conversion of another to their particular version. My own experience is that they recognize each other as fitting under the same umbrella.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 04:18PM

Understood. But Mormons don't sincerely believe Christians are right and most Christians don't believe Mormons are right.

There is hypocrisy on both sides.

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Posted by: kentish ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 04:52PM

Trivial point but was it deliberate or accidental that you left the word sincerely out when talking of "most Christians"?

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 05:35PM

Unintentional. But I'm not sure the omission matters much.

To put the point more clearly, most committed Mormons believe Christians will be damned unless they embrace Mormonism and most committed Christians believe Mormons will be damned if they don't accept Christianity.

Neither side believes the other belongs under the same umbrella.

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Posted by: nli ( )
Date: March 22, 2023 02:26PM

Lot's Wife Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> To put the point more clearly, most committed
> Mormons believe Christians will be damned unless
> they embrace Mormonism ...

Not quite: Mormon doctrine says that non-Mormons will be in a lower kingdom of heaven, which is not the same as "hell" (with eternal fire and torment).

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: March 24, 2023 03:55AM

Yes, but there are multiple definitions of the word "damn," and one of those is to condemn a person to an undesirable fate, which is exactly what anything below the top level of the celestial kingdom is.

From the perspective of the Christian who is viewed in such terms, being offered a consolation prize in the Terrestrial or Telestial Kingdom isn't satisfactory.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: March 21, 2023 05:11PM

Lot's Wife Wrote:
-----------------------------------
>
> There is hypocrisy on both sides.
>


Yay!  Business as usual!!

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 08:37PM

I get your point, kentish.

I should have emphasized more strongly that the primary objective, as far as I understand so far, is for women from various racial, social and national origins to get together to address social issues rather than working in isolation from one another. I think they hope that with more people banding together and working in partnership they can accomplish more in the community regarding issues such as homelessness, hunger and other associated basic and urgent human needs.

They have a loose bond in that they are "women of faith" but from all different backgrounds and faith beliefs. That's in particular why sis wanted to run the prayer by me (it was a long one for one thing!) to ensure it was sensitive to the various aspects of the group and its purpose.

I put a word in for single folks as we often get left out (the prayer mentioned women and their families). I don't know if sis changed the wording but oh well, I can take it on the chin. I'm not sensitive about it, other than wanting to ensure that her words were as inclusive as possible, if she agreed.

I did want to hear it, and be there for her as she doesn't often ask me, but in the end I just couldn't make myself go back to That Place. If it had been a different chapel I might have managed it.

I don't want there to be a space I need to avoid in my city but, that particular weekend anyway, there was. Who knows how, or when, these things are going to hit you.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2023 08:37PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: March 19, 2023 10:33PM

My video opinion of Mormonism is less musical, but no less valid IMHO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0 (30 seconds)

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