Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Being Alone

I was reading this book, by Austin Dacey today and I was inspired by this section:

"The belief in a personal deity - a being with whom the believer can have a personal relationship - is a denial of the private self.  If there is such a being, then it knows us better than we know ourselves, and we are not alone (even when we might prefer to be.)"

So, are we then free to decide what is best for us or obligated to defer to the will of the deity? Are our thoughts our own or are they controlled? A deity inclined to be always with us - always monitoring our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, couldn't possibly be above controlling those thoughts and emotions, could it?

I had a mini panic attack when I read the words "we are not alone." As an introvert, the thought of having insufficient time and privacy to sit with my thoughts and think about what I think literally makes my palms sweat. When I was a member, the concept that my every behavior, thought and feeling was observed, recorded, and judged (see Book of Life) offended me - not because I had a guilty conscience - but because it made me feel violated.  Apparently the thought still makes me feel violated. But, immediately after I had an indignant rant to myself about the "right" I believe I have to observe and interact with nature and the universe as I please and privately (thank-you-very-much), I thought, "I shouldn't want to be alone.  Being alone is the great human fear.  I should want to take peace in the thought that there may be a loving deity ALWAYS with me." Fortunately, I was able to quickly talk myself out of this reasoning because I really believe that it should be up to me to decide when I want to be alone with my thoughts and emotions and when and with whom to share them.  If there were a deity, I'd prefer one who waited to be invited into my head.  Why should it be black-and-white - all alone in this scary, bleak world or constantly watched and critiqued? (The obvious answer, we all know too well, is that teaching someone that God is watching them is a great way to control people right down to causing them to CENSOR THEIR OWN THOUGHTS and doubts.)

It annoys me that thoughts like the one in blue above even pop into my head to begin with.  I hate that I still, after 10 years away from the Church, censor or confront myself in this way - that I replace my own thoughts with fallacies, learned too well in my youth, meant to keep me in the Church and believing that it is what I want or what I need to feel peace and joy.  What a waste of time and mental energy to have to think/talk myself back out of those fallacies!  What better use might I find for those precious wasted moments?  What reflections do I miss out on when my normal stream of consciousness is so abruptly and rudely interrupted by these programmed thoughts I've been taught?  It just makes me so darn mad (fucking bat-shit angry!).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Positive Psychology

I just got out of group therapy.  Today's topic was Positive Psychology.  "Think yourself happy" and all that.  A few weeks ago, I would have told you that optimists are just delusional and that happiness is an illusion.  I was in a bad place.  But now, I want to bear my testimony of Positive Psychology.  I know that it is true.  I know that you can find temporary happiness (or at least a lightening of depression) just by thinking about the shit* that makes you happy or HAS made you happy in the past and the small positive things that happen during your day. (Today I was running late for an appointment but I was spared a scolding because the other person was just a hair later. Rock on!!!)

So....I was thinking that in this spirit, maybe we could all think of some positive consequences of time we spent in the Church and/or from the struggle getting out.  I'll start:

  1. If I hadn't been raised in and then pushed back against the Church, I don't think I would know myself nearly as well as I do.
  2. Being raised in the Church made me the feminist I am today.
  3. I recognize fake and forced happiness and how this is different from the real happiness that comes with being authentic to oneself and others. 
  4. I have had the opportunity to see that my mother and other members of my extended family aren't fixated on my religious/non-religious status and love me despite my angry atheistic leanings.  I am extremely grateful for this.  I know that many of you (including my own husband) haven't had the same luck. 
  5. It kept me out of trouble? Maybe.  I was a pretty good kid anyway and I don't remember being overly obsessed with the rules.
  6. I recognize the difference between being good for goodness sake and following my own innate humanistic conscience and not because I've been burdened with guilt or striving toward some eternal reward.
So, what do you say?  Can you help me see more positive consequences of having been a member?  Also, feel free to chime in if you were a member of other faiths/traditions.

*Sorry. I say "shit" when I mean "stuff" because I have 20 years clean of not swearing that I mean to get back by swearing A LOT until I am 40.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The (Imaginary/Fucking) War on Christmas...or why I am sick of the whiny Christian majority playing the martyr. Poor Babies.

I saw this on a Mormon Mommy Bore Blog and now I am pissed. Basically, it says,  "Oh hey, wouldn't it be great to behave like very un-Christian little assholes and gum up the works of the ACLU by sending them a shit-load of Christmas spam mail?  You know, to punish them for stealing our "right" to force our irrational beliefs and holiday celebrations on the sum total of society and representing 'the atheists' in the legal War on ChristmasTM?"

I don't believe that there IS a War on Christmas.  (I would love to know what you all think about it.) What I think IS happening is that non-believers and/or members of non-Christian faiths are sick of seeing our government and government-funded agencies/organizations/schools submit to the will of the Christian majority who think they are special and deserve special treatment.  They already have voting power. AND they are already placated/wooed with Christmas songs playing in every goddamn store in the country from November 1st until January 1st. When was the last time you heard I Have a Little Dreidel playing in the mall?  Do they really NEED nativity scenes on government property my tax dollars build and maintain? Are nativity scenes in their own yards and on church property not enough?  Do they really NEED their children to celebrate a religious holiday at school?  Do they really NEED conifers strung with lights and cheesy decorations to be called "Christmas" trees? Is "Holiday" tree, which could be pretty all-inclusive for the faithful and the non-faithful alike, really a huge concession or sacrifice? It's not like Christians invented the whole lights-on-trees idea so why do they think they have a "right" to lay claim on it now?  Martyrs, martyrs, martyrs.  Poor, poor babies.

I think it would be "clever" (by clever, I mean childish but fun) if we flooded this blog post with comments explaining why religious traditions don't need to be flaunted all over the public sphere and why it isn't a "right" to have a nativity in front of capital buildings and courthouses. Remember, "Just don't be rude or crude."  This woman and her readers need an education. 

I'm (kind of) sorry to be scattered and ranty.  I think I'm back!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Because we said so, that's why.

From this New Era article:

Why do we call ourselves the only true church?

The Lord has declared that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30). This restored Church is true because it is the Savior’s Church; He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And it is a living church because of the workings and gifts of the Holy Ghost. How blessed we are to live at a time when the priesthood is upon the earth and we can receive the Holy Ghost. -Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

***So, we call ourselves the only true church because we've declared ourselves the only true church in this scripture specific to our (only true) church and we can know that this scripture is true because it is given specifically to the only true church? 

Do they think teenagers are stupid?  Are LDS teenagers incapable of recognizing circular reasoning? Or, just too distracted by and enamored with their self-declared leaders to listen to/read carefully the answers to simple, reasonable, and worthwhile questions? 
From the same article:

Why don’t I get answers to my prayers?
With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow. - Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

***Does it though?  Really? In at least one case I know of, God's silence caused faith to diminish and nagging doubts of Gods existence to grow. In addition, it resulted in the defiant and willful use of critical thinking skills against the warnings of my (self-declared) (only true) church leaders.  I have to wonder, if God knows that this will be the consequence of God ignoring prayers (because he knows us all quite intimately) why would he withhold communication? Is it part of his plan that some of us will lose faith and leave the (only true) church? Does he set some of us up to fail? That would be a really dick move, would it not? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I've been missing around here for almost a month.  I've been missing from the comments sections of other blogs as well.  There have been some things and stuff going on and the long-story-made-short is that those things and that stuff were of higher priority than ranting blogging about my former religion.  At first, I really tried to find the time to at least keep up on new posts from all of the great ex-Mormon blogs.  But, at some point I was too busy and too emotionally and physically exhausted to even do that.  I've really missed reading your blogs and I hope to get caught up on your posts quickly.

Despite my absence, my average daily traffic hasn't really decreased that much.  I appreciate everyone who still clicked over to see if I had posted.  I'm sorry that I hadn't.

That said, I am slowly finding my legs again and I intend to get back to my bitter, former-Mormon, ranting-and-raving self soon (but also gradually).  I will start by reading and commenting on other blogs. Then, I'll get inspired and start writing here again.  

I have missed this blogging community! For reals. Amen.