Top 5 Things I Hate About Nephi

So every once in a while someone suggests I ought to try reading the Book of Mormon, “just once more.”  Most of these suggestions come from people I really love and so I am occasionally inclined to humor them.  I pick up the book and start reading . . . “I Nephi . . . blah, blah, blah . . .” I never get far before I give up, but every read increases my dislike, my utter loathing . . . not of the book itself, but of that one character — Nephi.

Can I just say how very much I loath Nephi?!  Have for ages.  Actually (and this really happened), I once shocked a Sunday School teacher and class when I made the suggestion that, if I had been Nephi’s sister, I’d probably have wanted to kill him too.  Who wouldn’t?  The man is pompous, self-absorbed and not at all hesitant to share his deep self-love with anyone who will listen.  If the Book of Mormon were true and Nephi were a real man and a prophet, and if you had the misfortune to actually know the guy . . More

The Natural

There are a few things in my fairly recent apostasy that I still find a little uncomfortable.  Drinking.  Shopping on “the Sabbath”. Swearing.  After 37 years as a Mormon, who could blame me for having to push through a little internal resistance against being “bad”?  After all, being an apostate isn’t my natural state.

Except —

There is one thing I do not have a difficult time doing at all: I simply Do Not Believe.

Sometimes I just stop and marvel at how incredibly easy it is to not believe.  I don’t have to work at it at all.  I don’t spend nights worrying about how to believe less.  I don’t pray desperate prayers begging some unseen force to make me believe less.  I don’t hope that things aren’t true.  They just aren’t. More

Hi, I’m Zelph and I’m a Modernist

Hi, I’m Zelph and I’m a Modernist

Introduction
With the “I’m A Mormon” ad campaign recently hitting the shores of Australia, frequent Mormon Expression board commenter Martin Jacobs was prompted to consider it’s message in light of trends he sees emerging in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I found his analysis intriguing enough to merit stepping aside and letting him mount my soap box as a guest blogger.  I hope that you find his insights as  fresh, challenging, and thought provoking as I did when I heard them for the first time.

Hi, I’m Zelph and I’m a Modernist
by Martin Jacobs
The tag line “I’m [insert name here], and I’m a Mormon” superbly clinches the current advertising campaign by the Mormons. However, I suggest that the message that it projects is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, it’s not even the gospel of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith; it’s modernism. More

Say a Little Prayer for You

As I mentioned before, I recently got some wonderful news. Without Facebook accounts (gasp!), my wife and I don’t have the convenience of info-bombing all of our friends and relatives at once, so we’re sharing the news the old fashioned way: calling people up, meeting people in grocery aisles, work cubicles, walking down the street, etc.  (It’s actually kind of fun to retell the tale for the umpteenth time, but perhaps this means we’re vain, attention-hogs, you know?) Last week, during the upteenth-and-one rehashing, an acquaintance interrupted, smiling, and said, “You know, we’ve been keeping you in our prayers this whole year, just hoping things would work out for you.” More

A House Divided by Two

The first cracks began in a discussion about tithing.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I always think of “his” paycheck as “ours” and so I asked if maybe we could divide the tithing money,  let me choose what we do with a portion of it (specifically, I wanted to use the money to give offerings at the church I was attending or donate it to some charity or another).  But it quickly became apparent that it is too important to him to pay a full (on his gross) tithe for him to make any adjustment.  He’s a good man (as a peace offering, he offered to give me (give up) his monthly “mad money” for use as my “tithes” instead) and I think I understand why he feels the way he does about the tithing, so I let the idea drop.  The issue ‘died’ after that one discussion, and we went back to our normal, peaceful, happy relationship . . . More

Coworker Q&A

It’s rare when I actually tell someone I don’t believe in god, but such a thing occurred just two days ago. You see, life has been a little more busy than usual the last 6 weeks, and my wife and I found ourselves on business trips, visiting friends, and having family visit us. I also accepted a new job; we’re moving to our dream location very, very soon. My wife and I are thrilled!

So, going back to my opening sentence, it was my first time back in the office for a full week in a while. One particular coworker happens to be a member of the church and at lunch he and I frequently engage in discussions concerning religion, politics, and all the other topics you’re not supposed to engage in at work. He’s a good guy, and I really enjoy the time we take to discuss these matters – but last week was the first time we really got into an in-depth discussion about my apostasy. We had the normal back and forth and somewhere along the line our conversation went something like this: More

Demanding

Our good friend Mike has been troubling the waters over on Facebook this week.  I was offended by many things he said, but one of his responses to his critics got me thinking.  He said:

What good is a God that demands nothing of you? Chastity and Virtue should be equally as important as Tolerance and Forgiveness. All of them combined are intended to teach us a culture. If there is a Son of God there is a Mother who dwells alongside a Father. I think that teaches us something about the society we should be striving for here in preparation for there.

“What good is a God that demands nothing of you?” More

I finally got my MRS

my father and I on my wedding day

My first BYU ward met in the law school, just down the hill from the Deseret Towers ‘T-hall’ where I lived.  I don ‘t remember the name of our bishop or any family home evening or other activities.  I hardly remember church at all.  But there was this one Sunday, this one moment of one Sunday that has lingered in my mind long beyond its expiration date.  It must have been a ward conference or some other special day because our Relief Society class was taught, not by the students who usually filled that role, but by an outsider, an adult, perhaps a stake Relief Society president or the wife of our bishop.  I don’t really remember who she was, but what she said — more accurately — ONE sentence of what she said:  “Girls, statistically speaking ten percent of the women in this room will never get married . . .” More

What’s Wrong With The Mormon Church?

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Introduction:
Today is October 31st, “Reformation Day”.  It was on this day 494 years ago that Martin Luther nailed “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (commonly known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) unto the door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. “The Ninety-Five Theses” is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

And while readily acknowledging that I’m no Martin Luther, it is with a hopeful spirit for reformation in our lifetime that I offer these Ninety-Five Theses to a modern church that, in my opinion (as well as in the opinion of many others) is badly in need of it. More

The Great Beyond

My father’s mother passed away last night.  A week ago some switch turned off in her.  She quit responding.  She quit eating and drinking.  And so, over the course of a slow, painful week, she died.  It was her 87th birthday.

I’ve been watching the responses to facebook posts about her death.  Friends of my aunts give the expected Mormon comfort — “this isn’t all sad”, “she’s working now on the other side”, “aren’t we grateful that we know about ‘the plan'”.  My younger cousins, who didn’t know her well or knew her best in the conflict that seemed to hover just over her head, seem to not know what to feel.  Do they miss her?  Do they not?

Death is that one great barrier that supposedly drives us all to God in the end.  The ultimate unanswerable question.  But does it really make it better if we believe that there is a ‘great beyond’? More

Can A Mind Control Cult Reform Itself?

Q: Can a Mind Control Cult reform itself?
It seems that just below the surface of every discussion of Mind Control Cults this question burns, simmers, and smokes like the proverbial ember seeking to spark into flame.

But can they?
Will they?

Thankfully, the answer (at least occasionally) is yes. Here are two case studies for your consideration.

THE SHEPHERDING MOVEMENT
The Shepherding Movement (the mind control cult that I was in) is one such group. Ron Enroth described how this happened in his classic book, “Churches that Abuse”:

"Churches That Abuse" by Ronald M. Enroth

"Churches That Abuse" by Ronald M. Enroth

“It is possible for authoritarian churches to change direction? There several fairly recent examples of leaders who have announced changes and confessed to error. One of the leaders of the discipleship/shepherding movement officially known as Christian Growth Ministries, Bob Mumford, made a dramatic about-face after issuing a public statement of repentance in November of 1989. Mumford, one of the “Ft. Lauderdale Five” (so named because of the five founders of Christian Growth Ministries of Ft. Lauderdale Don Basham, Ern Baxter, Bob Mumford, and Charles Simpson), acknowledged abuses that had occurred because of his teaching on submission. This emphasis resulted in ‘perverse and unbiblical odedience’ to leaders. He publicly repented with ‘with sorrow’ and asked for forgiveness. He also admitted that families had been severely disrupted and lives turned upside down. More

Elder Callister’s Book of Mormon Bomb

Leave it to me to tear apart the easiest talk from last General Conference (GC) to be torn to shreds.  If you haven’t heard/read it, you probably shouldn’t.  Before I start picking Brother Tad apart, let me just say that I listened to a good part of GC, as I have twice a year for so many years.  I used to listen repeatedly to the talks on tape, and then on CD.  I could cite quotes from any talk.  I could tell you the order of seniority of the apostles.  I have still not forgotten many of the wonderful talks by President Hinckley.  I loved GC.

Unfortunately, I have hit a rough patch, very well characterized in the previous blog posts by Eric and Tierza.  Most of the time I feel like I have lost my confidence in the General Authorities.  They seem to be just men with more experience than I, who say cute things to make Mormons feel good about themselves (except for when they are trying to make you feel bad about yourself, to convince you to repent and use the atonement in your life). More