Wednesday, April 21, 2010

His face in a hat? Good? Bad? or just ugly?

I recently had the privelage of talking with a former general authority. He was a seventy and has been released but since has joined with FAIR and the Neal A Maxwell Institute in fighting the good fight (allbeit off the record) and helping those who have strayed by confounding them. We had a great chat at his home and he was very non-contentious. We discussed many things from the first vision to American politics. One thing he brought up that was not actually one of my questions was the issue some people have about Joseph Smith translating the book with his face stuck in a hat. This thing was new to me until recently and I never really thought about it. It seemed kind of odd and it really makes the founding prophet look like more of a goofball than a respected translator, but until the apologist brought it up, it had not occured to me that it was anything but an oddity.

"Sure he translated that way! Sure he did! That is the only way he could see the stones properly. Why do people have such a problem with this. It should be common knowledge but there are people who have left the church over this."

He tried to pass it off as just part of the process, insignificant really. What matters is the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ brought forth in the latter day by a prophet of God called and chosen.

Is it significant?

Number one, it is significant enough that it is left out of the history. It is not taught by missionaries. It is not taught in Sunday school, yet it is the manner in which the most correct book on Earth was brought forth. To what significance do we hold the actual manners in which holy writ is brought to us? The fact that this part of the process of translation has been omitted from our history is compelling enough for me to ask more questions.

What use are the plates?

If he had to keep his face buried in the hat to shut out the light so he could read the interpreters, then what use were the gold plates? I have read that for most of the time the plates were not present and when they were they were not visible. If the characters on the plates were never looked at and translated by Joseph, then why did he even need them? Nobody saw them. The witnesses only saw with spiritual eyes and we don't even have their witnesses but a draft Smith wrote and had them sign.

So here we sit with the conclusion that the face in the hat thing is true. He did that. How did most of us learn that though? An episode of South Park. Yup. Of course it was probably dismissed as bunk because it was on South Park, but those guys aint dumb. They did not misrepresent what was going on as far as the hat went.

Does it matter?

Does the way in which the true gospel was restored in this dispensation matter? Does stuff like this being kept from us matter?

When I talked to the former GA I got the sense that he was trying to make it seem like I should have known this thing about the hat already. Crafty. " What? Oh you didn't know about the hat? Oh funny, we thought you knew about that. Common knowledge. Shouldn't raise concern. We are all cool with it so why can't you be."

For me it is just one of those things that is water off a duck's back. There are so many other things that raise more alarm that I could care less about piddling my britches over Joseph mumbling to Martin with his face in a tophat, but to pass it off as insignificant is just a device to deal with the issue without facing the problems that it creates.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book of Mormon Geography? Controversy?

Infighting! There is an argument in the church among "scholars" about the book of Mormon taking place in the United States

I love this! Those of us who have reasonably concluded that Joseph Smith did not provide for this issue when he embellished on a borrowed idea can sit back and giggle at the true believers trying to work out this conondrum. How does a guy quiet the cognitive dissonance when on the outside there is competetive dissonance from within the church? It is this sort of infighting that we need to encourage by asking questions like that.

Who should answer the question?

Ask yourself who is answering the question currently and if they should be, then ask yourself who should be answering the question and isn't. Then quiet the dissonance that arises with your method of choice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Noah's Arc, Water to Wine, and . . . . . how much is it going to take.

There are many instances in the Bible that give us pause, especially those of us who are true believing Mormons. Some have been cleared up for us and others remain obscured. I am curious how our church treats the Bible and the stories in it. Literal or figurative, inspired or uninspired, the way the church has treated difficult stories of the bible is really telling to their claims of legitimacy.

Noah's ark.

We Mormons believe this. We believe that despite the surface area of the earth, Noah somehow composed a team capable of speedily trapsing the globe, finding every animal (excluding fish and birds) and then taking care of the only two of every animal without losing a one of them. We believe this!

The story of Job.
God makes a bet with the Devil over the soul of Job.

Here is one that has been trumped as figurative. It is a parable. The brethren have determined this. God can not make a bet with the Devil. That is gambling and God can not gamble. We are told not to take this one literally. . . . . . ??????????

Sodom and Gomorrah

We believe that Lot was a holy prophet. We believe in all the experiences of those sinful cities, but we have trouble with his wife actually turning to salt. It was actually a metaphor for his wife returning to the city to become as salt trodden under the feet of man. We are cool with Jesus turning the water into wine--er--new wine . . . . . ummmm grapejuice for those of you naive enough to believe that the Son of God would actually drink an alcoholic beverage, but we doubt the Lord actually turned Lot's wife Rhonda into salt. . . . . but the Noah thing is real.

So Lot and his family take off running for the hills, right? They hunker down in the warmth of a friendly cave and are feeling snuggy and cozed to the max, then Lot gets into the wine and gets totally hammered. (Holy man. He is a prophet of the old testament and a very sacred figure) Did he not know that the wine had turned from new to old wine? Thoroughly sloshed Lot the holy prophet, vessel of the Lord, passes out and his two daughters get to thinking. Aint nobody to carry on Dad's legacy. What do we do? . . . . . Hey I know! Lets have sex with Daddy! So they took turns getting ensemenated by good old drunken prophet/father! You think Heavenly Father would have nudged him a favor and told him about that integral law of health. Maybe then he wouldn't have boinked his little princesses while intoxicated.

The earth is only seven thousand years old.

Yup. We are with the Christians on that one. There were no humanoids before Adam and Eve. They are the first people ever. No question. You science types can babble on and on about your big dumb Neandrethals, and your "evidence of civilizations older that what we say the earth is." We don't care! We know Adam was the first man and he was also a prophet!

Moses parted the red sea.

It could happen.

The series 24 is based on true events.

Sandra Bullock is attractive.

Cain is still alive, and so is John the revelator.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Proofing proper. Experimenting the words.

I am ever grateful for the principles of the gospel, the first being faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then repentance. I believe in the power of the sacrifice of our Lord. I believe that if I sin grievously that through his sacrifice I can be made clean. I believe that I have figured out another way to see if something is true.

Left handed tantrics are those who practice yoga in a special way. They believe that they can get closer to God by breaking the rules. I have dubbed myself the left handed mormon out of the same spirit. We can test the Lord's words. We are told by the brethren that we can test the commandments of God. In Malichi in particular reference to the scripture used to support the tithe we read a bold statement. Malichi 3:10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven , and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to recieve it." The Lord is daring us to follow the commandment. Bold words and beautiful doctrine. I have it from the Lord that I can test him to see if he will not bless me.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 130: 20-21

20 "There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated -

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."

We have the promise. We can see the blessings of health by following the law of health, financial blessings? Law of tithing.

If this is the case it must needs follow that when we follow not what the Lord hath commanded we have no promise, correct?

What if we were to put the laws of God to the test in a new way to prove him now herewith? We can repent every time can we not? Then why not test the value of the commandments by breaking them?

Let us take tithing as an example. How many of us have been paying it on our gross faithfully? I imgine lots of us. Well then it should follow that if the principle is true then the Lord is bound and we all will see the advent of copious amounts of blessings in our homes. We will recieve so much that we will not know what to do with it all. . . . . . hmmmmm . . . . . . Well I done been payin judge! I been happily payin and honestly, financially speakin this hyar fella could use a bit of a gimme if ya know what I means.

I questioned this one day after a particularly harrowing meeting at my bank. I went in to the bishops office and asked where the blessings were. Treaures in heaven. But the Lord said my house . . . . . well you have the blessing but you just don't see them . . . . . . . What about the temple? You get to go. Aint that a blessing? You have the security of the bishop's storehouse.

Well okay then. I already have the blessings. There is one way to find out if that is true. There is a law irrevocably decreed and so I stopped paying and started saving the ten percent in a separate account. I sense no loss financially. The room in my house is actually less now that I stopped paying tithing cuz I bought new furniture. If anything I have more financial blessings in my life from not paying tithing. (to be fair I did not so much prove God wrong as maybe prove the LDS church wrong as to their claim that when you pay tithes to them it goes to God)

There is no person around that is honestly going to say that if you take up smoking and drinking that your health is going to improve, but according to the church, if you break it, you will not have blessings of health. Well don't go becoming an addict to test this one. Coffee is addictive as are the other no-no substances, but moderation and self control will help you test to see if indeed you will start fainting while walking. Look at your life while clean and sober, then start having a drink on Friday night, a cup of coffee twice a week, some tea with the ladies. Measure the difference in your physical performance. I bet if you can keep things moderate then you will see little to no change in the blessing category. If you see a huge difference in your life then fine, go and repent, utilize the sacrament that next Sunday to renew your baptismal covenant. After that, pure and clean again.

The Mormons aren't the first foamers to use scriptures to frighten their followers into contrition. The puritans are one example of the power of the idea. It is an American Christian tradition! These are antiquated control devices that are being used here. We are being controlled in almost every facet of our lives. The church even wields control over whether we touch ourselves or not! Sit down and look at it. Count your many restrictions. If we are faithful to the degree we are told we should be then we hardly have time to think. That is no accident. So lets take the Lord up on his promise and test all of the commandments of the Mormon church to see if the threats are solid. When we are sure that following the charge aint going to make a lick of difference then we can toss it out. One by one they will be guttered, you will see. And again if this method of proof shows you that the negation of the principle equally verifies it then whoopee, all that pain gave you some valuable gain! After you repent you can go back to all being well in Zion.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Called to serve.

We all know that preaching to the choir happens on both sides of the fence. I would like to think that it is worse on the apologist side of things, but I guess fair is fair right? We need to look at our selves as dissenters and be honest. We have figured out it is all a bunch of poopy doopy, and now when we read their stuff we are not objective. We read it with a slant. We are just like them. But we do not have to play fair do we? We can stick our tongues out, break the unwritten rules, mock their discourse etcetera. Really, being childish is as effective as talking sense.

We must be dissenting. We must cause trouble. The problem with doing this is that if we sound too loudly we will be found and removed. It has happened so many times as we can see all over the earth. We must stay in the church. Remain members in good standing. If you have to break the rules, then go ahead and break them, but the cleaner you are as far as worthiness goes, the more validity some of these experiments will hold.

There are a ton of unwritten rules in the church. We have the no caffeine rule, take the sacrament with your right hand, some wards differ from others but we all know the great extent the members have gone to to interpret certain rules. I encourage anyone reading this to contribute and send me an email with suggestions. I will start with a few ideas I have had of rules we can break to cause a stir in our wards.

1. Pull up to church whenever possible with raucous music blaring. I like Mozart's Requiem. Orff's Carmina Burana, or Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, but by all means play Lynnard Skynnard if you want, just make sure that people hear it from your vehicle then appear as though you are embarrassed and turn it off. Apologize, and then do the same thing the next week.

2. Wear funny T-shirts to church, then if anyone ever asks, just act naive and do it again the next week.

3. Flip-flops, messy hair, sunglasses, anything that will stand out.

4. Bring a can of 7-up and open it during sacramental prayer.

5. If you have kids give them popcorn, corn-nuts, or any other loud snack in sacrament. If anyone says anything to your kids then you get to be righteously indignant, and we all love to have an excuse to call someone to repentance.

6. Bear your testimony about doctrinal things but be just a little off about the details like, "I know the church is true. I know that Jimmy Smith was a true prophet of the restoration. I know that he restored the priesthood throughout the help of angel Nephi" (though if you read the real history of things you would know that it originally was the angel Nephi and was posthumously changed by church leaders to fit better), and so on.

7. Bear testimony so long that you have to be asked to sit down.

8. Play a game in Sunday school where you cough really loudly every time the teacher says the word priesthood.

9.Bring a gay friend to church and hold hands with him or her during the meeting or in the hall. If you are corrected or chastised, then ask why holding hands is wrong, that you are good friends and it means nothing.

10. Go goth one week, clown the next. If you are a dude wear lipstick or eyeshadow, but play dumb about even having it on. Pretend to be embarrassed and go wash it off but do a poor job then return to priesthood.

11. Piercing, tattoos. You get the drift.

12. Go into the wrong meeting (Priesthood if you are a woman) and refuse to leave until it is explained then appear as though you misunderstood and politely take your place on the couch.

13. Bring licorice and get up in the meeting and pass it around to people.

14. Post crap on the cork boards. Do not get caught. And if you do get caught play dumb. "Oh this isn't for anybody? Damn! I am so bloody sorry."

15. Learn to swear in a foreign language and use it profusely in the church. If anyone happens to know enough to correct you then play dumb but also make it clear you are disgusted that they even know what it means.

16. Confess to uncomfortable sins. "oh man I hear you Brother Johnson. When I was fifteen I used to masturbate to pornography like crazy, and I aint talking soft core. I loved that double penetration stuff."

17. If you are single and have the nerve bring a date and do a little PDA. If your spouse is in for it, the both of you could get a little frisky, but not too crazy. Remember that we only want to ruffle some feathers.

18. Scream amen at the end of the prayer.

19. If you know enough or have the resource, bring a volume of significance of the Journal of Discourses to church and quote from it when appropriate. If you are challenged simply ask if the words of the prophet are false or true. Official scripture? Ummm words of the prophets losers. If that aint official then I do not know what is.

20.(you may be only able to do this once) Sign out as much stuff from the library as you can, and I mean as much stuff as is possible, then hide it and draw a cryptic treasure map to its location.

21. Use expletives close to blasphemy as much as possible. Jeebus! Dad blame it! Cheese and Rice! . . . .

22. Urinate on the bathroom floor. Take a dump on the baby changing table.

23. When you go to shake hands get your hand as close to the receiver's crotch as possible.

24. Coffee flavored candy? Where do you draw the line when offering sweets to children? And yes, play dumb!

25. Bring a pet.

26. Go to another ward far away and pretend to be an investigator.

27. Any time you can cry, DO IT, but really sob uncontrollably and don't let up till near the end then just say, I just know this is so true! Really, look at me! Do I look like I am fibbing here? My nose is running! That's sincerity! Then go back to sobbing.

28. If you can do voices then say everything trying to sound like Monson or Packer and keep going till people pick up on it.

29. Accidentally say, "In the name of Joseph Smith . . . . . Amen!

30. Applause.

31. Talk about temple stuff like you don't know it is wrong to do so.

32. Shorts!

33. Bring a black investigator and arm him or her with all of the quotes from the history of the church concerning blacks not receiving the priesthood.

34. Put headphones on and air guitar. (If you are considered youth then you may get your stuff taken so be careful. Adults? The sky is the limit. How much nerve do you have?)

35. Ask questions (careful here) that will make people wonder. "Hey Brother Smoot, if the church is so honest with how they use our money then how come the finances of the church aren't transparent like other churches? Honestly, I love Joseph Smith as much as the next Mormon but that kinda bothers me."

36. Printer antics. Pick an uncomfortable quote from the past like the one where the Prophet calls the black people 'darkies' and while in Sunday school when you get one of those little slips of paper with a scripture or quote on it, read yours instead.

37. More printer antics. print out a whole bunch of pieces of paper that say, "Got doubts? MORMONTHINK.COM has answers." Slip them into hymnbooks, library suplemental material. Pin it on corkboards, under pews, taped to the backs of folding chairs. You could print anything you want and do this. Little facts mormons don't like. The Blacks did not have the priesthood for more than 150 years. The Church refuses to apologise. Whatever point you think could influence somebody. REMEMBER Plant the seed and it will grow.

I would love to hear if anything like this is being done. Any other ideas or comments just email me at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fair's fair? Occam's Razor and the Mormon Apologist.

There are many many many reasons not to believe in the Mormon church. I had trouble from the getgo, but so many people told me I was going to have challenges and run into things that would shake my testimony that I went along with it and exercised my faith. With time I began to wonder why every time I ran into a need to defend the faith did I find myself spouting the same pluralisms that I heard from others. It became easy to wax duplicitous, to double-talk and try and reason around the challenging things that were being said to me.

After a while I stood back and looked at almost every question I had about the church and realized that the explanation for each of them violated a simple but very truthful rule. The principle is called Occam's Razor and it can be a useful tool when considering the difficult questions around the history of the Mormon church. Most of the time the simplest answer is the correct one.

Let us be as simple as we can be. The church apologist is someone who fancies himself a scholar, and believes he can explain the anomalies of Mormon history. His problem is that being a believer it is almost impossible to speak objectively and come up with answers that are not incredibly complicated.

Let us go over a few examples, shall we?

The First vision. There are nine versions of it. Why?

The Apologist: Well Joseph needed to be political in what he said to whom, so he told the story in different ways to different people.

Occam's Razor: He made it up.

Now there is little to support the theory that he was being guarded with who he told, but there is a great deal of support for the OR answer. Visit for the details.


The Apologist: There were more women than men, and they needed husbands. The Lord commanded . . . . In the past the prophets practiced . . . .

Occam's Razor: Smith was horny.

Polyandry. Why did Smith (and others) marry women who were already married?

The Apologist: They were not actually his worldly wives. He did not have sex with them. It was a spiritual thing that the Lord commanded to teach a lesson to those of that time about faith. Trials for specific people.

Occam's Razor: Smith was really horny.

The Greek Psalter Incident

The Apologist: Here is where we run into a rare example of Smith the man versus Smith the Prophet. The man obviously believed he was receiving inspiration but was not speaking as a prophet. A person can not speak with the spirit all the time!

Occam's Razor: Smith was duped.

The Pearl of Great Price

The Apologist: Well the Smithsonian only has some of the papyri, and obviously not the stuff that Joseph translated, of course accept for the facsimile. There was much more material that what remains at the museum, oh and it is common for Egyptians to add any sort of scripture they have around to their funerary texts, so the facsimile of Abraham still holds firm. They just added it to their book of breathings to . . . .

Occam's Razor: ummmm yeah, he made it up.

The Kinderhook Plates

The Apologist: (Up until the eighties) Totally legit! Hah! Choke on that haters! We have plates! Pretty solid evidence eh? We don't really need it because we have faith, but we got it! Nyah nyah nyah! Hey look at me I hate Mormons because they are right! I am a big poopoo dumb-dumb head!

The Apologist: (In the eighties after the plates were proven to be a hoax) Uhhhhh, well here we have a rare example of Joseph Smith the man and not Joseph Smith the prophet, and every subsequent vessel of the Lord thereafter.

Occam's Razor: Smith and every prophet and general authority after him were DUPED!

The List goes on people. Now anybody looking in to anything for its validity can let a little bit of this slide. Not everything can be explained without moving into the world of the plural, but Occam's Razor only states that most of the time that is the case. When you stand back and look at all of the defenses made by the people from FAIR, other apologists, and generally every true believer of the church who has felt need to defend the faith, you can see clearly there is little chance that this can be true. If it were true then the answers we expect would match the ones we have at least some of the time. We wouldn't have the feeling, intuition, inspiration that these guys were weaseling out of accepting the truth. And that leads us into the most important and beautiful truth (in my opinion) about Apologists.

The question is, "How come if it is false do all of these people when faced with evidence so damning still go on believing it?"

The answer most simply is that they want to believe it!