Mormon (LDS) Apologists, Numbers and The Logic of Correlated Mormonism

This is the fourth post in my series: Understanding John Dehlin’s Uncorrelated Mormon Movement. This post is not endorsed by John Dehlin and is my own opinion.

Uncorrelated Mormons often have the following view:

Correlated Mormonism has its own system of logic and reason. While the three great myths and the belief that men can be God are at its core (even though this isn’t talked about anymore), there is far more to it than that.  If one adheres to its beliefs and follows its ordinances and principles, one can “prove” or “disprove” anything within the system.

Correlated Mormonism attempts to describe our universe and our lives in a way that “makes sense”.  It aims at understanding and explaining the worlds within and around us.

Correlated Mormonism orients much of its research and development effort toward a goal of control. It has embraced white-washing history, taking all your time (no time to question), utopian goals, demand for purity (shame cycle), required confession, unquestioning obedience (you can pray about it, but you better get the right answer or you are wrong), negative judgement (especially for family members or friends who question), groupthink (doctrine more important than reason, or individual experience), and apologetics that distort logic and reason.

In its secular form, logic and reason encourage open-mindedness. It allows a person the freedom to explore anything and gives her or him a process to use when doing so. Since its adoption by correlated Mormonism, however, logic and reason has undergone a significant change. It is now seen as the basis for supporting and proving the myths of correlated Mormonism. It is no longer a tool of learning and exploration.

Many uncorrelated Mormons distrust the “findings” of the correlated Mormon apologists, scholars or gospel-doctrine teachers, and for a good cause. Often, these “findings” have little relation to fact. They are simply data which have been interpreted to suit the bias of correlated Mormon truth claims.  They are then used to reinforce correlated Mormon myths. Part of the misuse of logic and reason involves unquestioning faith.

Numbers are also key  to the logic and reason used by correlated Mormons. Many more missionary work hours are focused on numbers rather than relationships with people.

If a Mormon missionary tells his mission president how pleased he is with the relationships he has have formed, with the good he has done, the mission president might nod and then launch into a discussion of how few people there are in attendance at the local ward or branch or how more baptisms are needed by a certain date.

Correlated Mormonism belives in numbers. It has to in order to support its own mythology (as being the one and only true church on the face of the earth). Numbers are  used to measure, predict and control (even if they have to skew them).

Let me reiterate that uncorrelated Mormons do not consider correlated Mormonism as all bad and do not think that uncorrelated Mormonism is perfect. The important thing to realize is that neither is the way the world is. There are a wide range of choices of belief systems in the world. They are simply different ways to view our world. Power and wisdom are contained in the knowledge that one is free to choose.

References will be given at the end of this series.

Posted in LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True, Mormonism Good and Bad, Uncorrelated Mormonism, Uncorrelated Mormons, Why LDS Members Leave The Church | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Does Mormonism Rise Or Fall On Joseph Smith’s Character?

I am going to take a break from my series and discuss “Does Mormonism Rise Or Fall On Joseph Smith’s Character?”

The reason that I am bringing up this issue today is because I just watched the live stream of the UVU conference: Mormonism and the Internet and yesterday Patrick Mason said that Mormonism does not rise or fall on the character of Joseph Smith.

My first response was – yes it does. I mean if Joseph’s character is in question, that puts in question whether or not he told the truth about the angels and the gold plates, etc. Right? And if those are lies than Mormonism is a total waste of time.

Well maybe yes and maybe no.  This is why I am thinking about this.

Let’s read a little bit about the notorious John Friend as an example.

First read here about the scandal.

Reminds us of Joseph Smith, eh?

Now read his bio.

Similar personality of  Joseph Smith, right?

So we can come to the conclusion that both men have character issues and in Joseph’s case that probably means Joseph is not to be trusted when he talks about finding and translating gold plates and being visited by angels.

But does it mean that neither of them brought anything that was worthwhile into the world? I would say maybe they both did.  I must note here that Joseph Smith also helped to bring bad things into the world of Mormon communities (i.e. polygamy, racism, homophobia, persecution, unnecessary suffering) but you must also place blame for these things on other people as well (i.e. the Bible).

I saw a quote on the Mormon Stories community facebook page today that said:

“Religion is never Science (understanding reality or truth through objective means) but Religion IS an Art (seeking provocation of emotion and reflection through subjective means). So the problems occur when people try to make religion a science or when people dismiss religion as the amazing Art it can be.”

So if you look at Mormonism this way – if you see it as provocation of emotion and reflection through subjective means and reject it as truth and objectivity then perhaps you have something to hold on to no matter the character of the founder – no matter if the Book of Mormon is not historical.  What matters is: Can attending the Mormon church make you feel emotion and reflect on your life? Can it make you a better person? Do you feel moved? Do you feel community connection?

I can say that sometimes Mormon church services are very moving (sometimes not) and I think that inspiration comes when people do not try to make it true and objective, but instead insightful into the human condition.  It is only then that it becomes Art and not just nonsense.

Throughout history there have been many people with bad character that have brought some worthwhile and good things into the world (musicians, leaders, artists, politicians, authors). I think it is a great idea to find the good in things and do your best to reject the rest.

John Dehlin’s uncorrelated Mormon movement is trying to get Mormonism to open up so it doesn’t need to rise and fall on the character of Joseph Smith or the historicity of the Book of Mormon because if it holds too tightly to this false notion, then it will eventually fall.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True, Mormonism Good and Bad, Polygamy, Questioning Mormons, The Book of Mormon, Uncorrelated Mormonism, Uncorrelated Mormons, Why LDS Members Leave The Church | 3 Comments

The Three Great Myths of Correlated Mormonism

This is the third post in my series: Understanding John Dehlin’s Uncorrelated Mormon Movement. This post is not endorsed by John Dehlin and is my own opinion.

Correlated or orthodox Mormonism has three myths that feed and sustain it.

The first myth is that correlated Mormonism is the only truth that exists. Because of this, the beliefs and perceptions of alternate views – perhaps especially uncorrelated Mormonism– are seen as wrong (bad, misguided, dangerous, etc.)

This myth is damaging in two ways. It limits Mormons who want to explore their own perceptions and it limits others who want to learn from them.

Many uncorrelated Mormons may have heard these words: “You don’t understand what is true, you can’t change the truth,” implying that the correlated Mormon view of the world is all knowledgeable about truth and always “right”.  Uncorrelated Mormons might be told that they are not doing it “right” (the church lesson, the blog post, the talk, parenting, etc).

Correlated Mormonism is not reality. It is a reality, but it is not the reality, and uncorrelated Mormons have a reality of their own that is just as legitimate. Neither is necessarily the reality. When one version of reality is set up as being the only true reality, however, and the other is dismissed as bad, misguided or wrong, then no one is free to explore the possibilities inherent in other realities.

The uncorrelated Mormon world view is not all good nor all bad nor the same for everyone.  There are also many other belief systems/world views that have some good and some bad. It is good to know about as many as you can to get a better concept of choice.  The more systems of belief  you understand the more choices you have. Over time, perhaps, more new-and better-systems of belief, models, and alternatives will emerge.

There may be one true reality somewhere, but it has not yet been demonstrated that correlated Mormonism can claim it. If we were all given the opportunity to seek out and study other realities, we might come closer to understanding one another. The myth which states that there is one and only one reality limits our search for others.

Since correlated Mormonism is so thoroughly convinced that it is the only thing that exists in the world, or in other words, once someone is sure that the way in which he (or she) sees the world is the way things are, then he (or she) perceives any difference of opinion as threatening. This results in a closed system and a rigid approach to life in which all differences must be discounted, disparaged, or destroyed. No one is allowed to explore them or use them as opportunities for new growth because their very existence jeopardizes the most basic myth of the correlated or orthodox Mormon system – that it is the right and only way of life without which there would be nothing.

The second myth is that the correlated Mormon view is innately superior. At some level, correlated Mormonism has recognized in spite of itself that other realities exist. It has gone on to define itself as superior while simultaneously believing that it is the only true reality. Anyone who does not belong to this system is by definition innately inferior. Many correlated Mormons would deny the existence of this belief. Yet to challenge or doubt it is akin to heresy: it is a sacred given.

The third myth in correlated Mormonism is that correlated Mormons have the true answers for the rest of the world. Inside the correlated Mormon system is also a belief that priesthood appointed men have the answers for women, or in other words men must counsel women and never the other way around. This is why correlated Mormon women look to priesthood males for advice and direction (home teachers, bishop, stake president) and men never get personal counsel from Mormon women leaders. Both sexes genuinely believe that correlated Mormon men should and do have the answers for the world and for the women inside the church system.  The latter is directly related to sex-role stereotyping. A stereotype is no more than a definition of one group of persons by another who wishes to control it. Stereotypes support correlated Mormonism.  On the other hand, uncorrelated Mormonism supports equality.

Living according to these myths of correlated Mormonism can mean living in ignorance. For example, the only way to maintain the myth of knowing and understanding everything is to ignore a whole universe of other information. When one clings to the myth of innate superiority, one must constantly overlook the virtues and wisdom of others.

Nevertheless, the mere thought that these myths might not be truisms terrifies correlated Mormons. Many correlated Mormons have an overwhelming need to hold on to this sense of superiority and the conviction that they know and understand the way things should be.  Second, is the fear that if this turned out not to be true, the only alternative is  meaninglessness (to be like everyone else!). This reveals the dualistic thinking inherent in correlated Mormonism. Things have to be either this way or that. What a horrible option! How limiting and exhausting. It is an assumption that it is the only way the world can be- the way correlated Mormons see it. If it suddenly became different then chaos would reign. It is easy to see why correlated Mormons would be frightened by this.  To avoid this dreadful possibility, correlated Mormonism must defend itself at all costs and can not risk exploring other alternatives.

It is important for Mormons and others to understand how deeply the belief system of correlated Mormonism is and how frightening it is to have it challenged.

The myth is that correlated Mormons know more, but the truth is that uncorrelated Mormons do. Uncorrelated Mormons have knowledge on their side.  This is because ucorrelated Mormons have learned all about correlated Mormonism, either because they used to be correlated or because they have had to learn it in order to get along in their Mormon culture or family.  Uncorrelated Mormons are also usually uncorrelated for intellectual reasons. It is a place that they have arrived at after intense study of Mormonism. Most correlated Mormons know nothing about uncorrelated MormonismThey often limit their study to “approved” resources which does not give a clear view of the whole picture.

It would be great if correlated Mormons would seek to learn from uncorrelated Mormons, but it has not generally happened, nor is it likely to happen.  Correlated Mormons are not required to learn about uncorrelated Mormonism in order to survive in the Mormon culture, so there is little motivation.

Teaching a correlated Mormon about any belief system different than his own can be extraordinarily difficult. Even if this Mormon is open to learning about other realities, he or she must constantly do battle with her own feelings of superiority and the confidence of already knowing and understanding everything already. These myths go deep into the core of most Mormons and are not easily overcome. It requires superhuman effort and enormous commitment on both sides.

References will be given at the end of the series.

Posted in LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True, Post-Mormon Road Map, Questioning Mormons, Uncorrelated Mormonism, Uncorrelated Mormons, Why LDS Members Leave The Church | 3 Comments

Why Mormons Can Feel So Overwhelmed and Stressed-Out

This is the second post in my series: “Understanding John Dehlin’s Uncorrelated Mormon Movement” Again, this is not in any way endorsed by John Dehlin and is my own opinion.

*There is a relationship between accepting and incorporating the correlated Mormon system and personal stress. The stress of having to be innately superior (and humble) at all times is difficult. Those persons who buy into the system the most and work the hardest to become shining examples of what it means tend to become stressed out, overwhelmed and feel that their efforts are never good enough.  This can lead to illness, depression and other health problems. This seems to be true for men and women.

This does not need to be so, however. One big problem with the correlated Mormon system is that stress is assumed to be an integral  part of the system. If one tries to live up to the myths of the system, then one naturally undergoes a great amount of strain.

One can choose not to live up to these myths. One can choose to remove the causes of stress rather than merely learning to cope with them (pray harder!). The only really effective way to go about doing this is to challenge the myths of the correlated Mormon system and eventually change the system itself.  It can be done; in some cases, it is already being done.

By stepping back from the status quo, or the correlated Mormon system we can say, “The correlated Mormon system is only a system. It is not reality. It is not the way the world is.” Unnecessary suffering and a super busy, overwhelming schedule of “requirements”  is not necessarily needed.

Uncorrelated Mormons have a new system to communicate. One in which all are free to choose their own service and activity according to their own conscience and without guilt or condemnation and do not require (the overwhelming “to do” list) laid upon correlated Mormons. However, it is difficult to teach a new concept to someone who already “knows it all” (one of the myths of correlated Mormonism).

Some closeted uncorrelated Mormons have not bothered trying to tell others about themselves or their ideas/beliefs. They have just focused on incorporating themselves into the correlated Mormon system because they know they must in order to be accepted and to be acceptable.

There is another myth in correlated Mormonism. It is almost always unspoken  but nevertheless present and real. This is that it is possible for one to become “God-like”. If the correlated Mormon system is the only true system, if correlated Mormons (especially males) are innately superior, if they know and understand everything (within the system),  and if they can be totally logical, rational and objective, then they can be God – at least, the way the correlated Mormon system defines God. Being a deity is not easy though. In fact, it can be difficult for superior-feeling correlated Mormons to deny their own humanity and fallibility. The desire to control others (even if out of “love”) and to be perfect yourself (overworked) can cause stress and strain. Correlated Mormons who finally achieve such high stature in their own minds can suffer from health issues. In the end, “godhood” can cause unnecessary suffering.

References will be given at the end of the series.

Posted in LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True, Mormonism Good and Bad, Post-Mormon Road Map, Questioning Mormons, Uncorrelated Mormonism, Uncorrelated Mormons, Why LDS Members Leave The Church, Women's Status in LDS Church | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Understanding John Dehlin’s Uncorrelated Mormon Movement

I am going to start a series of posts dedicated to understanding the “Uncorrelated Mormon Movement” – these posts are not endorsed by John Dehlin, but are my own interpretation.

It will help to give readers an understanding of how the uncorrelated or questioning Mormon feels while living in a family or culture of correlated Mormons.

*Uncorrelated Mormons don’t actually like being labeled as “different” by the status quo, but they do frequently find themselves behaving or believing differently from what an “authority” tells them is the “right” way.

In the uncorrelated Mormon view, it is possible to be different and still be all right. There can be two-or more answers to the same question, and all can be right. None has to be wrong.

Correlated Mormons may have some difficulty understanding this and future blog posts on this subject. If you are a correlated Mormon and have a hard time understanding, discuss it with at least five uncorrelated or questioning Mormons, three of whom are feminists. If after that you still cannot understand or accept these ideas, then you may have a great deal of work to do.

Two uncorrelated or questioning Mormon experiences will be presented in future posts. The first is a reactive experience. It is not an experience that uncorrelated or questioning Mormons would choose, but is a way of coping with the labels assigned to them by the correlated Mormons.

The other uncorrelated or questioning Mormon experience is one that emerges when they “get clear” and feel free to express their values and perceptions.

Correlated Mormonism is the culture and/or family in which many of us live, and in it, the power and influence are predominantly held by correlated, mostly white males. We live in this system, but it is not reality. It is not the way the world is. Unfortunately, some of us do not recognize that it is a system and think it is reality or the way the world is.

The correlated Mormon world view controls almost every aspect of our Mormon culture. It decides what is useful knowledge and how it is to be taught. Like any other belief system, it has both positive  and negative qualities.  But because it is only a system, it can be clarified, examined, and changed, both from within and without.

Some of you correlated Mormons may be convinced that you are not judgemental towards uncorrelated or questioning Mormons, or that you don’t want to be, or would rather not admit that you are – this is not the same as doing something about your prejudice.  Correlated Mormons may want to hear that they are not like everyone else, that they are not judgemental. Once they hear that, they can avoid having to deal with their prejudice towards uncorrelated Mormons, which is real no matter how hard they try to ignore it or cover it up. The issue is not whether correlated Mormons are judgemental, but of how judgemental they are.  As soon as they are able to accept and acknowledge this –  then and only then can they begin to work on their judgemental attitude and behavior towards uncorrelated Mormons (perhaps even their own kids?).

To uncorrelated Mormons, correlated Mormonism can be analogous to pollution. This is what I mean by that… When you are in the middle of pollution, you are usually unaware of it (unless it is especially bad). You eat in it, sleep in it, work in it, and sooner or later start believing that, that is just the way the air is. You are unaware of the fact that pollution is not natural until you remove yourself from it and experience non-pollution.

Very few groups have stepped away from the status quo of correlated Mormonism, reflected on it, and declared their own alternatives.  It is very difficult to stand back from correlated Mormonism because it is everywhere in the Mormon culture. You can not easily get away from correlated Mormonism. It is our Mormon culture. Mormons live in it. We have been educationally, politically, economically, philosophically, and theologically trained in it, and our emotional, psychological, and spiritual survival has depended on our knowing and supporting this belief system.

Mormons believe that they get their identity externally from the correlated Mormon system and that this belief system is necessary to validate that identity.  Therefore, challenging the system becomes almost impossible.

There is a direct correlation between buying into the correlated Mormon system and surviving in our Mormon culture.  Sometimes what happens to those who try to escape or ignore the correlated Mormon system is that they are either excluded outright or have to fight every step of the way. Economic and emotional survival have been directly related to accepting and incorporating the correlated Mormon system.

(To be continued…references will be on last post in series)

Posted in LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True, Post-Mormon Road Map, Questioning Mormons, Uncorrelated Mormonism, Uncorrelated Mormons, Why LDS Members Leave The Church | Leave a comment

Why Should I Have Faith In Joseph Smith?

I’m confused.

Why are LDS members so willing to accept Joseph Smith as the chosen, most important and amazing, honorable prophet of the entire last dispensation of time (out of all of the people on earth who could have been chosen) despite well-known facts; such as

1.  Purposefully deceiving his (39 yr. old) wife and the church members about “marrying” several women, including young girls, teenagers and previously married women. I use the word “marrying” loosely because the marriages were not legally recognized by anyone and he might not have had sex with all of them (but he is forgiven even if he did) and he didn’t support them financially or live with them. He was also publicly accused of sexual harassment on more than one occasion.

2. That he was known as a con- man and taken to trial as such on numerous occasions. That he used the same ordinary stone that he found outside in the dirt to “translate” the Book of Mormon also as a pretend tool to con people to pay him to find buried treasure and of course never finding the treasure.  He also prophesied that the Kirtland bank would never fail and then it did, bankrupting thousands of members. On January 12, 1838, he faced a warrant for his arrest on a charge of illegal banking.

3. That he wrote so many errors in the Book of Mormon such as: KJV errors, anachronisms, Lamanites (who are American Indians) are from Israel, dark-skinned people are dark because of a curse and they turn white when they are more righteous, etc

4. That most of his prophecies were never fulfilled.

5. That he translated parts of the forged Kinderhook plates and said they were real.

You can Google any of these things to read more about them.

If I bring any of these up to LDS members they say things like:

“God works with imperfect people”

“I’ve decided that prophets can be fallible”

“FAIR: Joseph Smith didn’t act in prophet’s role during translation of Kinderhook plates”

Yet – if a person lived today with this same track record we wouldn’t give that person the time of day- let alone dedicate our lives to whatever that person decided to preach to us. We also would not believe him if he said he talked with angels and God. We would not trust him with anything of importance to us. So why are so many people willing to today?

Posted in Joseph Smith, LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True, The Book of Mormon, Why LDS Members Leave The Church | 7 Comments

Sarah’s Key and Mormonism – Discovering The Truth

If you have read my other posts you know that I like to draw parallells between Mormonism and other things (such as the book 1984 or the situation in North Korea) and I found a small one in the movie Sarah’s Key which I recently watched on DVD.

In the show there was a family secret that was finally exposed, but pay attention to how closely these quotes resemble finding out the truth about Mormon church history.

“Now you have stirred it all up, the whole family!”

“Don’t worry. Your  honor is still intact. Your family is blameless…You can do what you want (i.e. stay in the church with this new knowledge and information), but count me out!”

“Rest assured, we want none of it now!”

“I only wanted to know the truth.”

“The truth?”

“So where does it get us now, the bright shiny truth?”

“Truth has a price whether you like it or not.”  (This is true)

————————————————–

(Later another family member discovers the truth)

“Why didn’t you tell me, Dad? My whole life is a lie! My whole life!”

(He gives his son some journals that contain the full truth that was kept hidden from him his whole life for his “protection”)

“Son, we are all a product of our history… for you in those pages… (you will finally fully understand)… Go on son, don’t be afraid.”

(And he opens the journal)

The truth can at times be disturbing and upsetting. Some people fear learning about the truth because they don’t want their world view shattered, but sometimes breaking out of the Matrix or punching a hole in the sky like in The Truman show is necessary for growth.

When we understand that our lives are all simply stories that we tell ourselves we can finally lose our prejudices and see the world with fresh natural eyes. We can see and learn that love of all mankind equally is what we all truly need and we can let go of the walls that seperate us. I like to think of some of the words in the song Imagine by John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one I hope some day you’ll join us And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one I hope some day you’ll join us And the world will live as one

Posted in LDS Members Don't Want To Know If Its Not True | 1 Comment