Friday, November 28, 2014

I am Thankful For...

This is my first Thanksgiving since I left the Church and there are many things I’m thankful for:

1- I am thankful that I no longer have to take grooming advice from high councilmen with bad combovers.

2- I am thankful I no longer have to listen to High Priests expound on the locations of ancient Nephite airfields, or describe how dinosaurs are a liberal plot hatched up by atheists and scientists to destroy people’s faith.

3-I am thankful that I no longer have to attend weekly unofficial Republican Party meetings. 

4- I am thankful that I no longer have to wear a baker’s cap for non-baking purposes.

5- I’m thankful that I can ask any questions I want, whenever I want, and I don’t have to worry about how I ask.

6- I am thankful that I no longer have to choose between watching the BYU game or going to stake conference.  Seriously, if you’re so inspired, why are you scheduling stake conference for the same time as the big game?  It’s like you wanted me to lose my testimony.

7- I am thankful that I no longer spend 3 whole hours (feels like an eternity) every Sunday at Church.  Even North Korea’s weekly indoctrination and propaganda meetings are only two hours long.

8- I am thankful that my wife no longer belongs to the Relief Society, the oldest and largest women’s group in the world.  I’m not really sure why it’s called a women’s group.  Men appoint all Relief Society leaders.  Men allocate budgets to the Relief Society.  Men write Relief Society teaching manuals.  Men give assignments to the Relief Society.  It’s a women’s group in the same sense the Playboy Bunnies are a women’s group, only with less lap dancing.    

9- I am thankful for normal underwear, particularly, sexy women’s underwear.  My wife went from a 8 to a 10 just by putting on some “fruit of the loom” stuff from Kmart.  Victoria’s Secret zoomed her up to 12½ and it was no secret that, yes, I was happy to see her.  No wonder many return missionaries are postponing marriage in large numbers.  They know what garments look like.  Put a pair of garments on Kate Upton and she’ll look like an Amish grandmother.

Kate Upton Wearing Garments

10- I am thankful that I no longer have to fight with my kids to go to Church every week.  I don’t understand why they’re not excited to:
  • Go to bed early on Saturday night;
  • Wake up early Sunday morning; 
  •  Dress in uncomfortable clothes; 
  • Go to church (on an empty stomach once a month);
  • Get lectured on the evils of gay marriage; 
  •  Get told stories about God killing nearly everybody (even the children) in a big flood; 
  • Get questioned in depth by middle-aged men about their masturbation habits;
  • Get forced to sit quietly and reverently during an incredibly long Sacrament meeting that usually isn’t oriented towards kids in the slightest, and
  • Come home and spend the rest of the day reading scriptures or writing in their journals. 

11- I’m thankful that when I go to sleep at night, I lay my head on the pillow with a clear conscience.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Church Essay on Polygamy and Weasel Words

I absolutely love the new essay from the Church, Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, which provides more information about Joseph Smith's polygamy.  I am so smitten with it, that I laminated it, folded it, and now keep a copy of it in my wallet at all times so I can refer to it whenever I get into trouble and need to use some of what I call "weasel words" to explain myself. I suggest that everybody reading this do the same. You can access the new essay at.

Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo

I don't know if the phrase "weasel words" is a real term, but I use it to describe the lame explanations that people who have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar use to try to weasel themselves out of the mess they find themselves in. An example is former President Clinton who tried to explain that he didn't lie under oath when he denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky, because oral sex isn't real sex.

Well…I screwed up (a little bit), and I got busted. Technically, it wasn't really a "screw up" as much as it was "a series of unfortunate circumstances". But it's not my fault, and it's not like I did anything that Joseph Smith didn't do two or three (or forty) times.   

Unfortunately, I don't have a loving and tolerant wife like Emma was. My wife is more like a really pissed off Sandra Tanner when it comes to matters such as these, so much so, that she filed for divorce. The judge ordered a reconciliation meeting to see if there was any way to save the marriage.  Since I don't have any clue who will fix me breakfast and take care of me when I'm sick if she leaves, I decided to fight for my marriage.

I had just read the essay (you know, the one I keep in my wallet) and it gave me some ideas. I hired the best PR guy in the State of Utah (Arthur Dewey from the firm of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe) to attend the reconciliation meeting with me and see if he could get my wife to be reasonable about things. Prior to the meeting, I met with Mr. Dewey to plan an effective strategy based on using the  weasel words found in Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo.

Here is the transcript from that meeting:

Wife: Who’s this guy?

Me: This is my advisor, Arthur Dewey.

Wife: Why do you need an adviser?

Me: The judge didn’t say I couldn’t have an adviser. I’ll have one if I want to.

Wife: Ok…whatever.

Mr. Dewey: Mrs. Burns, your husband loves you very much. He wants nothing more than a return to the loving relationship you previously enjoyed.

Wife: My husband stumbled home drunk and there were lipstick stains on his shirt.

Mr. Dewey: There are several possible explanations for this…

Wife: The lipstick wasn’t my shade of lipstick…and I found condoms in his wallet. We don’t use condoms!

Mr. Dewey: Were the condoms unopened?

Wife: What?

Mr. Dewey: Did you find empty condom wrappers or did you find unopened condom packages?

Wife: They were unopened.

Mr. Dewey: The nature of the unopened condom packets suggests that the relationship between your husband and the condoms did not involve sexual relations.

Wife: I found panties under his car seat.

Mr. Dewey: Little is known about those panties…

Wife: They’re not my panties! But it’s irrelevant because he confessed that he had been unfaithful to me.

Mr. Dewey: Later reminiscences are not always reliable.

Wife: I looked up our credit card records. I found that he withdrew three-hundred dollars and paid for a hotel room last Wednesday, when he told me he had to work late.

Mr. Dewey: Few records of the time provide details. Many details about why he was at that hotel room are unknown.

Wife: I called that hotel and spoke to the desk clerk on duty that night. He told me my husband checked in with a woman that is a known prostitute.

Mr. Dewey: He pledged to keep your husband's involvement with those women confidential, nevertheless, rumors spread.

Wife: Women? You mean there was more than one prostitute? The clerk only mentioned one.

Mr. Dewey: The exact number of women is unknown because the evidence is fragmentary; furthermore, you don’t know that these women were prostitutes.

Wife: I do know. The desk clerk gave me the name of the prostitute he saw. I looked up her arrest record and she has several convictions for prostitution. I'm so devastated that he cheated on me.

Mr. Dewey: Hold on, Mrs. Burns, you can't assume that your husband had sexual relationships with those women just because he lied to you, withdrew a large sum of cash, and checked into a hotel room with prostitutes.  If you're going to make a claim like that, I really think the burden of proof falls upon you to produce evidence that your husband had sexual relationships with those prostitutes. 

Wife: I know he was screwing those hookers!

Mr. Dewey: Neither these women nor your husband explained much about these relationships. The precise nature of these relationships is not known.

Wife: I know he slept with them.

Mr. Dewey: There might have been the possibility of sexual relations.

Wife: It's not just the prostitutes. He forgot to log out of his email and I searched it. He had two messages from his secretary. The first message said that she was worried that he knocked her up. The second message was her expressing relief that it was a false alarm.

Mr. Dewey: Information about any affair your husband may have had with his secretary are virtually absent from the documentary record. Many aspects of their story remain known only to the two of them.

Wife: What about all those other women?

Mr. Dewey: Other women left no records, making it unknown what their relationships were.

Wife: This is BS. Complete nonsense. I don’t care what you say. It’s just wrong and inappropriate.

Mr. Dewey: Inappropriate by today’s standards, but legal.

Wife: Uh, it's not legal.

Mr. Dewey: It's legal to have sex with a woman.

Wife: Yes, but it's not legal to pay for it, but I don't care if it's legal or not. I don’t think we have anything left to discuss.

Me: But, honey, I love you. I didn’t want to do it…

Wife: Get out.

Me: But listen, there was this angel and…

Wife: Get out now.

Me: He had a really big sword. It was on fire…

Wife: I'm not kidding, you really need to leave.

Me: You know, you really need to learn how to doubt your doubts.  I'm finding your lack of faith very troubling.

Wife: GET OUT!!!

(Feel free to share your thoughts on the latest essay)

You Can Leave the Church, but the Church Can't Leave You Alone

Sometimes I feel like the kid who saw dead people in the movie The Sixth Sense, but what I see is much more horrifying than ghosts.  What I see is terrifying and dangerous, and, worst of all, what I see is real, not a figment of some writer’s imagination.  The thing I see can cause deep and lasting damage to the people we say we love.

To give you an idea about what I’m talking about, let’s flash back to my last therapy session:

Oscar Franklin: I see double standards.

Psychiatrist: In your dreams?

[Oscar Franklin shakes his head no]

Psychiatrist: While you’re awake?

[Oscar Franklin nods]

Psychiatrist: Double standards like ...people with double standards?

Oscar Franklin: Good people. Decent people. They don’t see me. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they have double standards.

Psychiatrist: How often do you see them?

Oscar Franklin: All the time. They’re everywhere.

I'm sure you've all heard the saying, "You can leave the Church, but you can't leave it alone."  Without exaggerating, I’ve heard this hundreds of times in my life and not only is it rude and hurtful, it’s completely inaccurate.  It’s time to drive a stake through the heart of this phrase, sprinkle it with tap water, and throw it in the garbage where it belongs.

Let’s take a closer look at who can’t leave whom alone.  There's a huge double standard, as evidenced by the following:

1- Post-Mormons don’t go knocking on their neighbor's doors to tell them about Agnosticism.

2- Post-Mormons don't text friends saying, "I noticed you went to Church today. I sure missed you at not-Church. Hope to see you soon."

3- Post-Mormons don't bribe their neighbor’s kids with treats to stay home from Church.

4- When PBS has a show on about Richard Dawkins, Post-Mormons don't make fancy invitations and invite all their Mormon friends over to watch it.

5- When their Mormon neighbors move, Post-Mormons don't track them down and invite them to leave the Church in their new area.

6- Post-Mormons don't fly across the country to Philadelphia at their own expense and then spend two years trying to get Philadelphia Mormons to leave the Church.

7- Post-Mormons occasionally quote Carl Sagan and Neil de Grasse Tyson, but they don’t inundate Facebook with such quotes the week before and after the Nobel Prize for Science is presented.

8- Post-Mormons don't put on huge anti-Mormon pageants every year at multiple locations and invite all of their Mormon friends to attend.

9- Post-Mormons don't secretly interrogate their neighbor’s children to find out why their parents are staying in Church.

10- Post-Mormons don't drive down to the Church on the night they're having youth activities and say, "Hey kids, we're on our way to the arcade.  Do you want a ride?"

11- Post-Mormons never chastise Mormon family members for posting something on Facebook that was too mormony.

12- When a Mormon neighbor makes the decision to stay in the Church, Post-Mormons don't write them a letter explaining the eternal consequences of their decision and telling them that before they make such an important decision they must sit down with them to discuss it.

13- Post Mormons don’t give their Mormon friends books by Jerald & Sandra Tanner for Christmas and Birthday presents.

14- Post-Mormons don’t send their teenage sons to their Mormon neighbors to collect donations for Post-Mormons that have fallen on hard times.

15- Post-Mormons don’t email Brother Jake videos to their Mormon friends.

16- Post-Mormons never look at a Mormon and try to figure out what type of underwear they're wearing (unless the Mormon is very sexy).

17- Post-Mormons never use funerals as an opportunity to teach the plan of natural selection to grieving Mormons.

18- Post-Mormons never write their testimony inside a copy of No Man Knows My History and give it to a colleague while explaining what the book has meant to them and how it has changed their life.

19- Post-Mormons don’t turn on a John Dehlin Mormon Stories podcast to listen to when they’re giving their Mormon friend a ride home because their car broke down.

20- Post-Mormons don’t purchase a gift subscription to a Secular Humanist magazine for their neighbors.

21- Post-Mormons don’t end all messages, texts and emails to their Mormon family and friends by stating, “The Gospel is not true!”

22- Post-Mormons usually don’t have the audacity to tell a Mormon how they should vote.

23- Post-Mormons don’t offer to give their sick or injured Mormon friends a Scientific Proclamation that will cancel the negative effects of any superstitious thinking that may impede their treatment or recovery (Example: Fred, I urge you to go to the hospital immediately and seek appropriate medical care…).

24- Schools located in areas dominated by Post-Mormons never send kids home from school for being dressed too mormony.

25- Post-Mormons do not send Birthday cards to their Mormon neighbor's children with a note that says, "Darwin loves you and so do I. We sure miss you when you go to Church."

26- Post-Mormons don’t tell their Mormon friends that they're going to hell because they don't believe in the Big Bang.

27- Post-Mormons don’t invite their Mormon friends to dinner and surprise them by having also invited two young evolutionary biologists who would like to share a message with them.

28- Post-Mormons don’t assume that their Mormon friends are just going through a temporary Mormon phase because they were offended by a Post-Mormon, were accidentally exposed to some pro-Mormon literature, or had the desire to feel excessive guilt for their sins.

29- When they notice a family in their neighborhood has attended Church for several weeks in a row, Post-Mormons don't leave delicious chocolate cupcakes on their doorstep with a note that says they wish you would stop attending Church so often.

30- Post-Mormons don't call a meeting with other Post-Mormons and say, "Hey, lets make a list of all the Mormons in the ward boundaries, and let's think about it and pray about it, and we'll narrow that list down to 5 names, and we'll focus all of our energy and attention on these five people or families, and we'll try to get them to leave the Church.

31- Post-Mormons don’t deny Mormon friends and family the opportunity to attend weddings.

32- Post-Mormons don’t hold posthumous Church resignation ceremonies for their Mormon loved ones who have passed away.

33- Post-Mormons don't disown their children if they decide to be Mormon.

 34- Post-Mormons don't counsel anyone to divorce their spouse because they've decided that Atheism isn't true and that Mormonism makes more sense.

35- Mormons usually don't become depressed or physically sick because their Post-Mormon friends and family abandoned them because they were being deceived by God.

36- Nobody has ever begun using drugs or alcohol to mask the pain caused by their Post-Mormon friends who couldn’t accept their belief in the Book of Mormon.

37- Nobody has ever committed suicide because their Post-Mormon friends, family and community rejected them because they wanted to marry another Post-Mormon.

So after noticing this very obvious pattern of behavior, let me ask any Mormon who reads this post, “Who's not leaving whom alone?”

Notes:  Let me know if you can think of anything to add to this list.  Thanks to some anonymous friends for contributing to Nos. 23, 27, 28 & 32.