Hi, I'm Shawn Matheson
48-years "fully invested" and now liberated into the yogas of knowledge and meditative practice - -and I'm a big CoC fan! I welcome conversation! (find me on FB and Messenger me, I will listen with empathy and respect). Life is too short to be weighed down!
* Provo-OG (80s) -- world was our campus approach! (we have radio, TV, satellites so God can spread his word from SLC!)
* Kicked off my mission for investing in the Polish stock market! (actually I continued to serve in Chicago Polish-speaking, but I was home for 30-days inbetween, serving in my home town of Provo --- that was a trip!)
* Married my beautiful wife in AF temple
* Many callings (fav was nursery) (worst was YM, I snorkeled at Bear Lake to find the body of a boy who drowned in the scuba course)
* Found the CoC and I really respect their history and evolution
* I've been expanding spiritually with meditation, tai chi, and loving amazing books and content: Tao, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Sufi, Rumi, and contemporaries like Eckhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks (nutty but so amazingly helpful), Allen Watts, Terence Mckenna, etc. Knowledge and Practice (meditation) have changed my worldview/life experience, I can release things easier now and I just have fun with my past, like it was a lesson module for this lifetime!
* I'm a note taker and I have a TON of stuff by topic, I'm happy to share, just Messenger me
* I welcome collaborative conversation!
1. Historical: yeh no, stuff is kind of funny and crazy
2. Theological " " "
3. Social " " "
4. Realized my membership was a personal statement of what I morally support and I resigned in Nov of 2021
ps a quick and entertaining shortcut/hack to Mormon deconstruction is missedinsunday.com/
I've been expanding spiritually (meditation, etc.) since, which has helped me release the past -- and focus on the present, breathing stuff out when it arises, and intentionalizing what I wish to manifest
Questions I've answered
Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life? More was mormon answers about 'Have you had any profound spiritual moments in your life?'
Yes, before and after Mormonism. my friends of all faiths have had spiritual experiences in their walks. God loves us all equally, we call God by different names and have different traditions.
By releasing my views that spiritual experiences are only "still and small" and by expanding my spiritual practices (meditation), I've appreciated how diverse spiritual experiences can be!
What do you believe is the origin of the Book of Mormon? More was mormon answers about 'What do you believe is the origin of the Book of Mormon?'
1) metal (coins, swords, armor) do not disappear. There are multiple museums and storage rooms full of contemporarily-same Persian, Asian, European, African metal artifacts from the same period. Metallurgy simply changes societies, and no pre-Columbian metal artifacts of antiquity are found in the Americas
2) Meso-American (Aztec, Olmec) cultures were not Judaic or Christian. North American cultures (Hopewell, etc.) the same. Look at the surviving architecture. No non-LDS archeologist supports the idea of a Judeo-Christian Olmec, Aztec, Hopewell, or Incan culture anywhere in the Americas, and similarly the Smithsonian, our nations leading scientific (oops, 4-letter word :) institution, has made written statements as to this. The church has smartly backed away from BOM archeological claims in its Gospel Topics Essay. In Nov, 2021 Pres Nelson rightly said, "The BOM should not be read as a historical document, but as a spiritual document." So, time to hang up on the historicity claims (that's good).
3) there are no mega structures cities and surviving stone walls in North America, and major walls and cities across an entire area don't just disappear (Pompay was under volcanic ash and has been excavated, old Alexandria slipped into the sea and one can scuba dive and see those walls, Hadrian's Wall in contemporary England and many Roman walls still exist, the Wall of China still exists, etc.). Stone and cement walls do not disappear.
4) elephants, pre-Columbian horses, oxen: bones do not just disappear (we still have dinosaur bones, despite the catastrophic event that took them out)
5) DNA evidence does not support (DNA tests clearly show Native American people of Asiatic, not Middle Eastern, origin). The church modified the BOM title page from American Indians being "direct descendants of Lamanites" to "among the descendants" (as DNA testing shows Asiatic origin, not middle eastern or near eastern), and the church published a Gospel Topics Essay on this in the early 10's, and now they simply say the origins may never be known.
6) Linguistic authorship does not support:
a) many analyses now show similarities to contemporary books and newspapers of the time
b) entire verses (not to mention Isaiah) are replicas of KJV, both OT and NT
c) Apologists make the BOM out to be more than it is linguistically and literarily (e.g. the poem Hickory Dickory Dock is a poetic chiasmus)
d) if an 1829 book used Hebraic words (names, cities), it doesn't make it of Reformed Egyptian origin. We can use Hebraic words now in current text. because Joseph Smith used Hebrew words in the BOM, does it make the book of ancient origin?
e) and lastly to consider, many of the names and cities in the BOM have strong resemblance to other cities, areas, countries that were known to Joseph's time (Cumoras Islands, Lehigh Valley in PA, Moroni, etc.).
7) anachronism: when the KJV scholars did their translation in 1620 they added italics for added or non-matching words. The BOM manuscript (and current editions still) have those exact italics (JS or OC copied the 1620 KJV exactly). Did ancient Jewish authors/rabbis write Isaiah on the Plates of Brass thousands of years ago with the italics that the King's scholars added in 1620, or did Joseph copy the 1620s KJV of Isaiah word for word, including the italicized words those scholars had added?
8) many sources of contemporary books and newspapers were available to JS, and many similarities exist:
a) View of Hebrews, Spaulding Manuscript (the original, not the revised), the KJV Bible (replicated stories and verses, Isaiah was copied directly from 1620s KJV, italics as all), Emanuel Swedenborg's "Heaven and Hell," Thomas Dick's "Future State," The Healing of Nations, The First Book of Napolean, The Chronicles of Eri, the Book of Nullification, The Late Great War, etc.) Joseph was literate (taught by Alvin, who attended Dartmouth) and he was a genius.
b) a good amount of LDS doctrine is already found in these contemporary 1700s/early 1800s books (pre-existence, Native Americans as House of Israel, a former white race killed off by the Native Americans, three degrees of glory, etc.). These were topics being commonly speculated upon and were written about even by the Governor of NY and various newspapers of Joseph's time.
c) similarly, a lot of LDS doctrine is not novel. Recall that SR was a professional minister in Cleveland of the American Restoration Movement, aka Stone-Campbell movement (present day Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ. You can see Stone-Campbell doctrines (restored priesthood, etc.) in LDS doctrine. It was JS and OC in BOM 1829 publishing time (Oliver was from the same town as View of Hebrews author and attended his congregation), but by 1835 JS was well established in Kirtland with really advanced theologians such as Sydney Rigdon, and that's when the first bulk of "modern" doctrine came about (second period being Nauvoo, which is where Joseph started preaching privately about Theocratic Kingdom of God on Earth, polygamy, becoming a God, etc.). Joseph's stretching stuff was in the Nauvoo period. The Kirtland period was a beautiful amalgamation of collected and composed material. I do believe Joseph heavily borrowed from ideas and content of the time, but I also believe he was inspired. Sadly, he got derailed though morally.
9) gold plates: very apologetic and interesting claim to say God took them off the earth to increase our faith (Occam's Razor is a better place to start!)
10) speaking of plates, research Kinderhook plates, a hoax set for JS by local farmers which he fell for (they created plates and gave them to him to translate, he attributed them to be of Jaredite timeframe and a T and S article was published showing a drawing of them and saying that Joseph would have them translated and available for sale by Spring). The LDS church has those Kinderhook plates in their possession; they had them on display until the early 1980s (I saw them in the museum west of the tabernacle), and they stopped displaying them when scientific analysis showed them to be (as the farmer's who created and laid them claimed) of 1800s origin. That same museum used to display Indian relics as well, suggesting that all American Indians and Aztec/Olmecs and Polynesians were of "Lamanite" origin. The Church has a good Gospel Topics Essay on Race, and they now no longer make that claim. I respect the church for their essays -- and they don't promote them in Sunday reading, so the myths live on and people can be defensive, until they hear or read what the church says -- and then turn on a dime from that external direction.
11) the witnesses were unreliable:
a) the witnesses were either Smiths (dad, brothers), Whitmers (or relatives of like Oliver Cowdery, who married in), or Martin Harris. Relationship of the witness to the person is key to credibility in any investigation or proceeding and is a sound measure of evidence.
b) many were unreliable characters, e.g. read what BY and JS aid about Martin Harris. Harris joined five churches before Mormonism, his wife said he was trying to profit from it, he said he saw God as a deer in the forest, he said he had a Godly creature on his chest whom only he could see, and like most of the other witnesses he later witnessed to the ancient authenticity of the Voree plates of James Strang, who led a group of disaffected Mormons to MI, after the schism in Nauvoo 1844.
c) many of the BOM plates witnesses went on to be signed witnesses for plates "found" (created) by James Strang, which he called the "Voree" plates. Strang was a man who claimed he had a letter from JS to make him the successor (he, Sydney and Brigham were the men there on 8/8/1844 vying to be the successor). Many people followed him to MI (an island in Lake MI), and many of the same BOM witnesses signed the same-type of worded witness statement of the Voree plates, that they appeared to be of ancient origin with ancient characters, etc. Those plates survive and are scientifically shown to be of 19th century origin. Credibility of witnesses is key in establishing truth.
d) all witnesses later indicated they "saw and felt" the plates with their "spiritual eyes" (in a vision), and Matin Harris gave a very specific account that he was having difficulty picturing them and so Joseph had to take him outside, into the woods away, and help him to pray so he could see with his spiritual eyes. the "hefting" were metallic plates under a towel, and once in a wooden box. The "feeling of the plates" (Emma, while the plates were on the kitchen table) was under a towel. It's very likely that Joseph had plates (metallic plates would be easy to create).
3) all the witnesses either left the church or were excommunicated. David Whitmer in 1838, like Oliver Cowdery, had stated concerns about Joseph's morality (alleged affair with Fanny Alger, which the LDS church now claims was his first wife). Whitmer was also stated concerns about Joseph's late introduction of the first vision story, of its changing nature, and of changing doctrine. I think many people in Kirtland were disillusioned by what they likely perceived as Joseph's greed with the banking scandal. Whitmer was excommunicated for failure to observe the word of wisdom (laughable for its time, JS had a bar in his Nauvoo Mansion home), and for speaking ill of the Lord's anointed (for stating concern about Joseph's affair with Fanny).
4) Joseph tried to profit from the BOM, D and C records how he sent men (three) to Toronto to sell the copyright of the book (all printing rights would be given up). When the Nauvoo House cornerstone was laid Joseph placed the original manuscript (!) into the cornerstone as a time capsule (sadly, poorly sealed and badly water damaged when later recovered). Joseph was asked why and he is recorded as saying "That book has caused me enough trouble."
5) if is the most perfect book ever made, if it can get a person closer to God than any other book, why the issues, and why the changes: granted, mostly grammatical, but there have been significant content changes such as "white and delightsome" changed to "fair and delightsome," etc.
6) Moroni 10 gives a nice pattern and challenge to read the book, ponder and pray about it.
a) reading and pondering is what investigators and members are asked to do, but once you're a member you are only supposed to read from church-approved materials. is that a good method?
b) having a feeling about a book is something that can be good, but you can't pin your entire testimony of the church on it. The LDS pattern is kind of carte blanche, that you get a warm feeling and then you know it is all true. People and histories are nuanced, anything touched by man is not all true. Joseph made claims of the BOM's historicity (and the BoA), it's clearly shown to not be a historical document (as President Nelson said last Nov) -- so by the church's own measure it Is or Is Not, and therefore Joseph Smith Was or Was Not. It's that kind of absolutist approach that gets the church in trouble with itself.
7) further on evidence, the BOM talks about final battles (Jaredite) with millions of people at the Hill Cumorah. Such a battle would have been bigger than any recorded in Asian, African, or European history. And no artifacts. The surrounding areas of the hill have had ground penetrating radar, metal detection -- and it's declared "a clean and unremarkable site archeologically." Millions of bones, swords, armor would be there. And similarly, no such finds anywhere in the Americas (b/c there was no metallurgy here, dang striaght you'd have artifacts if there were, metal changes societies). Joseph's math and story of huge battles wasn't just grandiose in contrast say to Greek, Roman or Persian numbers and conquests, but it makes archeology that much more findable at that large scale. The lack of bones and metal, show that those claims of large battles in the BOM are not factual. Again, RMN declared it a "spiritual document' (not a "historical document" last year -- b/c he had to! It's time to give up the sacred story tied to history. Things can be non-historical and simply a valuable story to learn from. But let's not fool ourselves by promoting non-true statements of our myths and sacred stories as historical facts.
The LDS Church Gospel Topic Essay on BOM acknowledges a lot of these issues; I highly recommend all LDS members read those essays (they're hard to find on the church website, yo have to use the search tool). They're where I started. What you'll find in those church essays is that many things that are considered anti-Mormon, things which authors had been excommunicated for, are acknowledged by the church.
Mark Twain said he wouldn't be convinced of gold plates if the whole rest of the Whitmer family had seen them! And he criticized the literary construction and prose (the over-use of "And it came to pass and the use of 1620s, non-colloquial even for its time, wording -- so it would sound more scriptural). The BOM reads like a modern document, b/c it is. There's a reason OT reads so foreign to us and God can seem like an angry desert God (b/c that was their justice God of the time).
Lucy Mack Smith noted in her auto-biography (early 1850s) that Joseph was a highly imaginative boy and as a youth (before the plates), that he'd tell fantastical stories of the Indians, how they lived, what their modes of transportation were and what food they ate (BTW the BOM does not mention corn but does mention wheat -- corn would have been a staple of Meso-American and North American diet, while wheat was introduced to this continent by the Spaniards and Portuguese).
Scripture is limited by the world views of the author (e.g. Paul said women should stay silent in church), and OT customs 4-5k years ago were vastly different (Leviticus says someone who works on Sunday should be killed, that a man who rapes a woman should pay her father, etc.). The OT was so long ago that it seems like an angry desert God of justice, as those were the times and ways.
The BOM reads more modernly, as it was written in 1829 (although the prose of 1620s KJV was used to enhance is scripture sheek!), b/c that was the author's (JS) timeframe.
In the end, what is scripture? Does it have to be historical to be true, or should we simply gain the good from the meaning we discern from the story? Yes BOM is problematic for the above reasons, and for the fact that JS claimed it was ancient and from gold plates now in heaven - but the book is an incredible work and it does testify of Christ and speaks to social issues of Joseph's time, e.g.
a) answering for his view, the question about the American Indians
b) cautioning on the danger of secret societies (which ironically JS later joined and promoted)
c) setting a utopian society for hundreds of years when there were no matter of 'ites
In the end, scripture does not have to be be historical, so regardless of BOM's ancient historicity or not, if the book helps you be a better person and it's good for you, then it's good for you! I appreciate the BOM for that and it guided me well for many years
Has your struggle improved since you left? More was mormon answers about 'Has your struggle improved since you left?'
Practicing meditation has been my opening key:
a) times of stress: breathe it in, name it (fear, doubt, etc.), sit with it and not judge it and remember how it made me feel, then breathe it out and put it in a bubble, tell it politely that I no longer need it, and breathe it out.
b) every morning: I have a guided (and sometimes non) meditation that works well for me, about 10-min, it includes visualizing and feeling (as if it's already happened) what I want for the day. Our thoughts are energy, and our intentions manifest over time.
Are you still christian? More was mormon answers about 'Are you still christian?'
Yes, it is my faith tradition - -and I learn expansively, ecumenically, and beautifully from all good sources
Does the church encourage leader worship? More was mormon answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
Why do pictures of the FP hang on the bishop's wall or church hallways next to Jesus'? why are testimonies most often w/gratitude for a living prophet and inspired local leaders? why do we sing on ode to a living man in his presence "We thank thee.." Why is it forbidden to "speak ill of the Lord's anointed?" Why did President Oaks say it is never good to criticize a church leader, even if they are wrong? Why do we call apostles or even stake leaders, "Brethren"? Why do we use middle initials for church leaders? Why do we repeat the epitaphic statement of John Taylor that "No man has done more for the salvation of man, save Jesus Christ only, but Joseph Smith? Should any man be compared to Jesus or put in the same sentence of salvation?
Jesus is my home boy, I like his approach -- he was very humble, and he got under the skin of the leaders of the church of his time!
Are you happy? More was mormon answers about 'Are you happy?'
More than ever, as I see myself as divine, I see that my heavenly parent loves me regardless (I'm not an enemy!), and I am whole and loved just as I am (just as we think of our children).
I love now for love's sakes (not for transactional hope of reward, or fear of a God that shakes his finger at me and says, "Do it or I'll spank you").
My self-identify is no longer enmeshed in a church, which I once looked to in co-dependence for my emotional/spiritual needs. It's hard to be our best selves when we're operating from a sense of fear (the false noting of fearing our heavenly parent).
I now have a better sense of self-authority, I have a healthier concept of God and self. I now realize the universe is inwards and I am connected to everyone and everything.
What advice would you give folks who are transitioning? More was mormon answers about 'What advice would you give folks who are transitioning?'
1) don't try and explain yourself -- it will only cause those you love harm. Our first job is to do no harm to our relationships. If your loved ones are interested, they will ask -- and you can start then from a place of empathy and love
2) take it easy -- there is not "test," there is just you and God and that's All Good!
3) we only suffer when we carry with us past harms -- breathe it out, release it. we create our own paper tigers: fear, doubt, anger, etc. and on the good side, our thoughts create our own manifestations.
Does the church encourage leader worship? More was mormon answers about 'Does the church encourage leader worship?'
Yes. John Taylor's epitaphic words to me are inappropriate and often repeated still today in Mormon Sunday School lessons, that "No man has done more for the salvation of men, excepting only Jesus Christ, than Joseph Smith. ""
(Creepy crawly skin) Q: should any person be compared to Christ for the salvation of men?.
On a similar note, it's also common for Mormons to say that they are "Saviors on Mount Zion" in relation to the proxy temple work they are doing for the dad. Q: " " " ? How pious is it to call ourselves a Savior.
On a similar note, bishops in Mormon culture are referred to as "Judges in Israel?" should any man be the judge of anyone's "worthiness?" Is such a title maybe, over the top?
The over-piety of LDS culture is plain to see when you back up and observe it.
How did being Mormon affect your daily life? More was mormon answers about 'How did being Mormon affect your daily life?'
I'm much more present in the moment now (less worried about what I'm not), and I have a better self-perspective
How long was your struggle? More was mormon answers about 'How long was your struggle?'
A struggle is a challenge that we retain within, replaying and revisiting. My struggle with leaving Mormonism has lasted acutely for about 18-months.
Releasing/detaching has been happening for me via meditation.
Positive intentionalizing, seeing things as if they've already happened, having confidence in God and me, and law of attraction has been happening for me.
Was Joseph Smith involved in treasure digging? More was mormon answers about 'Was Joseph Smith involved in treasure digging?'
1) court documents in NY show that he stood trial for being a "disorderly person" for treasure digging
2) Isaac Hale (Emma's father) (IH) recorded about JS treasure digging and it's in Joseph's own biography, that he came to live with the Hales while employed in the area in a treasure seeking adventure. That is how Joseph met Emma in 1827, and Isaac did not want his daughter marrying a man with that unreputable trade. Aside for IH's account you can read it in Joseph's own account, and in that of neighbor Willard Chase. The local congregation that Joseph and Emma attended (yet he was told to join no church :), the First Vision story changed over time in the 1830s) had members who protested his attendance, as his profession was that of a treasure digger. IH offered JS a piece of his land and the house for Emma and Joseph to live in (where JS completed the "translation" w/OC") if he would give up his treasure digging and become a respectable farmer -- but religion became Joseph's mode of pay (vs the menciant lifestyle that Jesus asked of his apostles when he sent them forth)
3) affidavits of Palmyra citizens note that JS Sr.'s profession was "treasure digger" and "farmer"
4) D and C section about Joseph receiving a revelation to go to Salem, MA and look for treasure
Understanding that the Smiths were treasure diggers and believers in folk magic, fits the BOM story well (gold plates, a cadence to follow before getting the plates, a seer stone, an angel protecting the treasure, coming back each year), etc. Also, understanding that 1820s were a time of mysticism and folk magic in general (Sleepy Hollow was written in this time, etc.). We look down upon "treasure digging now," and it wasn't a respected profession then -- but it wasn't as big of a deal then. I'm not excusing it, I'm just saying that to understand the time, context, place -- helps to understand the story of the Smiths
Are you lazy? Is that why you left? More was mormon answers about 'Are you lazy? Is that why you left?'
President Nelson's GC comment a few years ago about ExMos being "lazy learners," yeh, funny. It's easier in fact not to dig into research, to not question, to only read the provided Sunday school church manuals -- that is more aptly fitting than to call genuine seekers and investigators of truth claims, "lazy learners." I have thousands of hours of research of LDS history and present social issues (not exactly lazy).
Blind obedience does not serve our progress. There is a cringe statement in the LDS church that you'll never be held accountable for following the brethren, if they were wrong about something. Um yes, as humans we are endowed with a conscious, reasoning brain (not the fight/flight one of of animals), where we have the differentiating frontal lobe. Yes, we are absolutely responsible for blind following, for not using our guts and reasoning-minds. Blind followers create dangerous situations.
We owe it to ourselves to know if we should be supporting an institution with our time and money. I look back with satisfaction that I was acting with good intentions at the time, and I'm so glad that God has touched my heart and eyes to see. We are here to progress in knowledge, and blindly following is not progress (it's blind obedience) -- and yes we are culpable for our actions and inactions. Shaking off dogma and fear (social fear, self-doubt, fear I'd be making a salvation mistake if I started to investigate, fear I'd never be happy or blessed again -- all the stuff I was taught), was like removing my blinders -- so incredibly liberating to now see things and practice my spirituality differently.
The interesting thing about church history is it is now so available, really since the 2010s with the Joseph Smith Papers came out (funded by Larry H. Miller), when the Council of 50 minutes came out (late 10s), and more records were digitized (Times & Seasons, etc.). You now go to the church's own records. In fact, the LDS Gospel Topics Essay (you can find in search bar on the church's website, or Messanger me and I'll email them to you), acknowledge many of the problems, which used to be treated as "anti-Mormon" and fiction. \\
When you see 100 percent of historians, and even LDS Gospel Topics essays, agree on certain matters -- it's time when our research and openness to the truth has to catch up with the times.
I've read original documents of Times and Seasons articles, Joseph's journal, Council of 50 minutes, court documents (most were from the Kirtland bank era), original minutes of Sidney Rigdon's Salt Sermon, etc.
Records from reliable sources from actual historians with no interest other than accuracy, are so readily available now. The church's sorted treatment of its history, and its current social issues (LGBTQ non-affirming, heavy focus on authority, etc..), are why you see many people like me resigning membership -- we don't want to morally identify with that.
It's tough to realize things, but it's liberating. In the end, just letting go of whatever isn't working anymore is just in the mind. I'm a lot less tense about things now (I've accepted) than I was even a few months ago.
It's easier not to think and to just follow. It's harder and more rewarding to do your research and mostly --follow your gut!
Check out letterformywife.com/… and cesletter.org/ both are very well cited and go-to for summary research *mind blow* Mormon Stories also has an Essays section on various topics, those are really well cited as well. The research has been done for you -- so much so that FairMormon (church-funded) does rebuttals of CES Letter and they're constantly updating their apologetic statements.
In the end, do you need 15 men or local leaders between you and God? a church is good for community, to share life's experiences and to have the comfort of structure -- but men have their own ideas and egos, churches are self-interested in you building them up and being dependent on them, and living outside of a structure can be freeing when you are ready to move out! In the end, what does your gut tell you? In the end, are you more worried about social shame, or standing out for what you feel is right?
That said, I know everyone's situation is unique. I have a friend who knows there are significant issues with the LDS church past and present, but his wife would divorce him if he resigned -- and his relationship with his wife is the most important thing to him, so he stays in.
I was lucky that I have a supportive wife, who herself recognizes issues and sees, a church is just a church (there is no magic sauce like the LDS folks, and all, claim). God does not have a church, he has a people (humanity). God does not favor one church, more. All good things are inspired -- and we, ourselves find truth (not thru a church).
A church is a just a manmade structure that can point us to God, but it's like pointing your finger at the starry sky and thinking that's the iron rod and one way -- when there is a universe of truth out there.
What are Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women? More was mormon answers about 'What are Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women?'
On Joseph's teachings on temples:
Is it a coincidence that three weeks after becoming a Mason JS founded the LDS temple ceremony and it was a 90% Masonic temple ceremony replica (washing & anointing, handshakes, clothing, signs and; tokens, covenants)?
The church claims that the Masonic temple ceremonies were carried down from Solomon's temple (from the masons who worked on that temple), and therefore the similarities (sadly this catch phrase is what I used as a missionary).
Um, well, the temples of old (Moses' tabernacle, Solomon's, Herod's), only talk about animal sacrifice (there were no personal endowments or baptisms for the dead).
The temple ceremony was perfect for Joseph, as a way to have secrecy around plural marriages, which he and the Qof12 and some of the Council of 50 were involved in (just the elites). A person in the ceremony is sworn to secrecy, under penalty of death (that Death Oath was only removed by the LDS church in 1990). Polygamy is taught plainly in D and C 132, still in the modern D and C. Now, we just call it temple marriage, or celestial marriage, and it's a main mantra of missionary work and testimonies of members, that it is the only way to be together forever, and all other marriages by any other minister or method are just for this life, they won't be valid in the eternities. Wow, it's hard to now even write this, as that is how I once believed.
When WW had the First Manifesto in 1890, polygamy dropped (not exactly, but here for brevity yes), and "forever families" became the mantra, and that's when genealogy for distant generations began. At that time the last person a family could find (the last generation) was sealed to Joseph Smith. Up until the 1890s temple sealings would take place for families to be sealed to the Princely Kingdom of Joseph Smith, or BY, or HCK, etc. That practice of "dyanstic sealings" ended in 1894, and now we're just sealed to each other (not to JS).
We are not together forever b/c of a temple literalistic, physical ceremony -- we are together forever b/c of God. Religions create rites and rituals -- it's what they do.
Sacraments are symbolic (not literal, e.g. there is no transubstantiation of the bread into a body or the water into blood -- and the same with baptism).
A secret temple ceremony was exactly what Joseph needed to conceal polygamy. ps, Emma was about his 13th wife sealed to him (b/c he was marrying other women w/out her knowledge). I try and look at polygamy from Emma's eyes, and all polygamy from the victims (women's) eyes.
On Joseph's teaching about priesthood:
a) there is only one scripture in the NT that talks about Melichizidek, and it was Paul saying there was an ancient King by that name who paid tithes to the temple. Okay, there was a king 3k years prior by that name.
b) If there was a higher Melchizidek priesthood of OT times, this would have been passed down in self-interest by the temple priests and the Pharisees of NT times would have used it to their advantage.
c) Circumstance: Joseph was in a tough time in Kirtland where people were starting to question his authority, so he kept expanding priesthood offices and giving himself and people close to him, higher offices. It was a remarkably changing and complex governance structure for such a small church, but it fit Joseph's needs to keeping giving more positions and elevating people, as Joseph's integrity and authority was being questioned by many
d) Changing Nature in modern times, e.g. originally a High Priest was Aaronic, but became Melchizidek. Even BY changed the priesthood offices, e.g. in JS's times tje High Council was charged with governance for where Zion was located at the time (Kirtland, Far West, Nauvoo), and the Qof12 were the travelling missionaries (which is why so many converts followed their missionaries/apostles west). Brigham though needed the Qof12 to be the governing council of SLC (not the HC), so he made the HC part of stakes (where it was more ubiquitous in nature, vs being responsible for governing the church as it had been). Also e.g., in JS' times a Bishop had responsibility to govern the finances of the church, but b/c BY wanted that control he switched that to the Qof12, and he was the President of the Qof12 (President of the church). This inured to his/Qof12's favor, you can see a fascinating financial ledger of the church, as the Qof12 in SLC would have financial interests in businesses co-owned by the church.
This financial mess of Qof12/church co-ownership (control inuring to the benefit of the leaders) got cleaned up in 1890 when the church was under threat from the federal government (Wilford talks about it in D and C) and assets were threatened to be seized b/c of polygamy (Edmunds-Tucker Act made that possible for the federal government). The church got a San Francisco law firm, which formed the Corporation of the CoJCoLDS, which is the entity that still exists today (that is how the church is still officially registered with the federal government). The changing nature of offices was a tool to grant others offices, control and self-benefit.
f) 1 Peter 2:9-10 calls the people of the church a royal priesthood. Hebrews 7: 26-28 makes clear that Jesus is the one High Priest.
Priesthood poorly applied is about control, and it's always been a tool of patriarchy. I respect churches that now allow women to have priesthood. Joseph Smith abused his authority (his priesthood in Mormon terms), by his abuse of women. When you read the accounts of some of the women (a few did write) about how they were approached, you see very clearly Joseph's grooming behavior of often young women, often his friends' wives (10-12 of his plural wives were already married), and of other women. Some did stand up to him, remarkable for the time, and said, No. Joseph's pattern on anyone who crossed him was to publicly shame theme (excommunications in IL, MO, OH) (e.g. he blamed all of polygamy, as did the RS in a written, signed statement of many women on John C Benett). Nancy Rigdon was one of a handful of women who had the courage to stand up to Joseph and to write about it. Joseph then called her a harlot, etc. We see priesthood abuses in modern times, across multiple churches. Authority and humans, usually don't mesh well.
The truth is priesthood is a type of is religious practice, but it's disguised in religions. Priesthood at its good core is service and intention, faith and visualization and law of attraction. It's that simple. We all have that God-endowed power, male and female -- the power to transcend, to heal, to do what is good -- is within each of us. You can experience the beauty of transcendent actualization by connecting directly to the Divine and the Universe. The blessings of the "priesthood" are real, I've experienced them -- but it's not b/c of a literal event (versions of which JS and OC changed and always differed on). Beauty is b/c of God, and your relationship and one'ness. Refinement is to see you as your higher self, you as endless energy, and we are all in this together.
Religions are a kind of insurance policy to the mind, and those that use priesthood as "the way" are using that as a means of control and dependence. You have control of you; You have the Power in you.
God does not authorize certain people to speak for Him. Yes there are writings of apostles and prophets, and they were inspired at their time. We can individually be inspired by God. We can listen to people whom we feel are inspired and we can discern to know if that's a belief or spiritual practice that will help us. We can't give our authority away to someone else. Prophets and teachers are simply guides to help us inwardly connect. The inward journey is the space of sacredness (not the churches and temples, the symbolic ceremonies, the literalistic teachings, the testimonies of others, etc.)
Yes I've seen good things happen with priesthood, and I've heard non-Mormon friends similarly talk about their good things that have come from prayer. It is intention and faith that fuels good things. If the Mormon priesthood had magic to it, there would be thousands of faith-healing stories (cancer healings, etc.) -- as there are thousands of daily blessings given.
The literalistic view of God giving 12 men his authority -- is not what Jesus said. Jesus simply asked those who followed him to go forth and teach. How many times did Paul talk about priesthood? How many times do you see the word priesthood appear in Christ's beatitudes? Jesus did not teach church, he taught a way of life. Paul taught and brought about a church in Corinth, in Galitia, in Rome, etc. Paul was right and wrong about some things (including the idea of centralized power). the Church of Jerusalem (Jesus' two brothers and one other apostle) likely had some things right and wrong as well.
Some "priesthood leaders" (Christian leaders of old or new) used words to state their understanding of Jesus. In the case of the disciples who walked with Jesus, only one NT author, perhaps Mark, can be attributed for original writing -- the rest (it shocked me to learn) is all writing of Paul (who never met Jesus), and of mostly Paul's followers -- decades later (up to 110 AD, but most writing of the NT done in 50-60 AD. What people wrote (their understanding) became "canonized" scripture, i.e. the Jesus Movement became Christology, which became churches, which eventually sync'd into one holy Roman church.
It's not about about priesthood or what guys 2-5k years wrote, or even 200 years ago (BOM, BoA, BoM, D&C), nor is it even about what good men say now from a pulpit in SLC or elsewhere (and some things they sat are still tragically caught in a past time). GOD is Source, and we can connect directly. If a church gives us structure that's great, but we can't let comfort (surrounding ourselves with people who worship the same we do, who bear testimonies like platitudes like we do), take away our inner authority and power. Does a child need church to live a life of good choices -- or can those teachings come from the parent, to guide the child's nature from within? Does an adult need to be told what to do, or can we seek the Lord's guidance from inner connection? (is that not moments of spirituality, of connection to the Divine?)
If we lend our inner authority to outside "authority," (churches and men are glad to play this role for you, and they require your money and time and emotional investment), then we are bound to repeat these hard lessons in a next-existence.
Joseph Smith was FASCINATED, as many religious contemporaries of his time were, with restoring the NT church. Joseph wanted to go deeper though into OT times, so he read the one scripture in NT and OT that talks about a King named Melchiziked, and he created a priesthood from that (which not even the Jews or the NT disciples wrote about). Joseph was fascinated with rites and rituals and ancient things. Recall that the Smiths were known treasure seekers, that the magic worldview was common for the early 1800s, and that treasure seeking by nature is a set of incantations, recitations, rituals, etc. so the treasure can be found (so the guardian of the treasure won't cause it to be slippery). Having a higher order of knowledge and rites gave Joseph what he wanted, the mystique, the ability to give offices to those loyal to him, etc. Mormonism stands alone among religions in its temple rites (especially for dead people), and its view of priesthood (other than Catholics).
Joseph changed his version of May 1829 priesthood restoration three times, and he never spoke of it until 1832, two years after the church was formed. Oliver Cowdery's version always said there was an "angel" (singular). Sydney Rigdon was a trained theologian and his Stone-Campbell tradition there as speculation about an ancient, other/higher priesthood .
Yes there was a Levitical Priesthood in OT and NT times to administer the rites (animal sacrifice) of the temple. Christ is the High Priest. It was the Catholic church that continued the idea of priesthood, and it's been churches throughout protestant time that have used that for authoritative advantage.
The LDS church had 1830s/40s success in England for example, as any rank and file man could be made a priest and have the same sacramental authority of the stuffy Anglican priests -- it was empowering and ubiquitious.
Priesthood is simply service, those who serve others (not a literal hand-down of OT authority or something renewed in 1829). It is service to others, and I admire the churches that have priesthood as part of their doctrinal observance, to have women as priests (In LDS temple women are only endowed to become priestesses in the next life).
We are together forever not because of a litaralistic event in May 1829 at the banks of the Sasquehanna river, but because of GOD. The idea that eternal togetherness only happens if you have a sealing in Mormon temple, takes away from the all-powerfullness of God (and creates the idea that God needs humans to save humans and to keep them together for eternity).
On Joseph's teachings of women:
Joseph always publicly preached against polygamy (he did teach it privately in Council of 50 though). Public statements against polygamy include his Times and Seasons articles, statements he made to the Relief Society (when 4-5 of the women in the audience were already his plural wives), the former D and C 101:4 revelation which defined marriage between one man and one woman, etc.) (Brigham later had it removed in SLC and replaced with D&C 132).
It was a giant contradiction that Joseph publicly preached against polygamy, yet he and key leaders privately practiced it and he privately taught it. I believe polygamy was secretive in Nauvoo b/c it would have been a death nail for Joseph. These were Victorian times and religious polygamy was considered obscene. The first time the church made polygamy official publicly was in the safe confines of SLC in 1852, by BY. After that, missionary work in England and elsewhere decline -- people not wanting to join a polygamous church.
Church members should be concerned for the victims of polygamy (not trying to defend past leaders). Religious polygamy was patriarchal abuse of women. There's a reason it was only practiced by about 5% of the male population of the church (b/c they were the leaders and in a 50/50 birth rate situation, you have to have numbers).
Religious polygamy was male elitism, it was perniciously wrong, and its legacy is still around today:
1) FLDS and other fundamentalist groups. LDS folks like to disassociate themselves from FLDS folks, but polygamy was practiced by the same, first prophets that both groups claim: JS, BY, JT, WW
2) LDS Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints still believes in polygamy in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (no longer taught in the watered down manuals), and still practices spiritual wifery (a man can be sealed to more than one woman still today, e.g. a widow, or a divorcee (in some cases).
In summary, Joseph was inspired in many ways, but priesthood became misuse of authority (authority always does in men's hands -- which was polygamy). LDS priesthood is still misused (patriarchy, piousness, etc.) LDS temple rites are unnecessary and a means Joseph used to advance the secrecy he needed for polygamy, and to create the exclusivity claims he desired. We don't need underwear with Masonic marks (compass, square) in them for our protection or spiritual reminding. LDS temple rites take away from the power of God (God Almighty doesn't need humans to save humans -- it's good, don't worry about it like Joseph worried about Alvin and then took one NT scripture and made it a new religious practice). And, women are not just equal, in most ways they are superior. It's about damn time that women have their place in society as leaders, I love seeing nations like New Zealand (former Mormon), Denmark and Finland led by women. We'd be much better off if women led the world, I guarantee it. Mormons would be much better off the same (90% of GC talks are still male, and there are 0% GAs and 0% women in priesthood); patriarchy is a dangerous social relic (and that's what male-only priesthood is).
What do you feel or know about Brigham Young's Polygamy? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about Brigham Young's Polygamy?'
BY was on FIRE w/polygamy!
1) 50+ wives, 50+ children
2) BY taught "Adam-God Doctrine," that Adam was God the Father and Eve was one of his plural wives. He taught that for every plural wife a man has, she will be the literal Eve of that earth and the man the literal Adam. The church dropped his teaching after his death and they removed the hymn he had commissioned about the doctrine. There's a quote by Spencer W. Kimball in the 1970s asking members to stop teaching that Adam-God (BY) doctrine.
3) BY taught that the only way to the 3rd degree of the celestial kingdom was for polygamists -- where eternal creation happens.
4) BY made statements that polygamy would never be taken from the earth, etc.
check out missedinsunday.com/category/memes/polygamy/ for some sad/funny church leader quotes (some not so long ago)
What do you feel or know about peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints?'
So little is taught by the church about its own hand in violence.
1) Ohio: JS wasn't just tarred and feathered b/c of religious reasons. There are reports that the mob called for the physician to castrate him, and that he'd been fooling around with the 16-year old girl of the home, who 10-years later became one of his plural wives.
2) Missouri: JS raised an army and marched it from OH to MO on the Zion's Camp March. This was seen as a threat to the Missourians.
3) Missouri: The Danite Malitia was 85 Mormon men who signed the pledge (more joined later) in MO -- it was the precursor to the Nauvoo Legion. There was disaffection among former Mormons, as there was a purging of excommunications in 1838 (when there was both Kirtland and Far West) of key people including BOM witnesses and church leaders (Oliver Cowdery, many of the Whitmers, etc.) (they spoke against Joseph's affair with Fanny Alger in Kirtland, etc.).
Many of these former Mormons people owned lands in northwest MO and the local Mormons there did not take well to them. Sydney Rigdon gave a July 4, 1838 speech known as the "Salt Sermon," in which he threatened the ExMos with violence (Sydney used the word "exterminate) saying they were as the salt of the earth and had lost their favor.
The Danite Malita posted notices on ExMormons' homes threatening them with violence if they would not leave, and homes, barns and shops were burned by the Mormon Danite Malitia (near Millport, Gallitan, Grindstone Forks) and there were reports of cattle that were rustled. The Danite Malitia even burned the county seat building in Gallitan county, where many ExMormons had settled, and where there were the most agitators against the LDS church. This was known as the Missouri-Mormon War. This was the defense of property and liberty that Gov Boggs was responding to, and why JS, SR, LW were put in Liberty Jail. The Danite Malitia attacked the MO State Malitia at Crooked Creek. The one-sided history I was taught of LDS being victims, is not a proper account of history.
Sadly, months later Gov Boggs replicated Sydney's "extermination" word that Sydney Rigdon had used
4) Nauvoo: Joseph came out of Liberty Jail, I believe with a resolve to not be abused again, or so he felt (when in fact it was a two-sided issue in violence). So, under the generous Nauvoo City Charter from Springfield, the Mormons were allowed to build a legion -- which Joseph did and it became the second largest standing army outside of the US army. Certainly, neighboring towns of Warsaw, Quincey, Carthage -- were concerned. Joseph paraded the legion, they drilled, he had gold epilets on his uniform, etc. As a child I was taught the Nauvoo Legion was a thing of dignity and self-preservation. I now see that Joseph did not turn the other cheek.
In summary on IL violence, I think had the Mormons not raised an army, had they not gotten involved with secretive polygamy, and had Joseph not been preaching secretly in the Council of 50 (word got out) about setting up a theocratic kingdom of God on earth to subdue all other governments -- they would not have had the issues in IL they did. Neighboring cities weren't as concerned about a new religion (those were actually pretty common for the time), but certainly a standing army of that size, reports of secretive polygamy, and reports that Joseph had been appointed King of the Earth and Heaven (Council of 50), were of concern and you can read those in the Warsaw Signal, etc. No doubt Joseph made enemies too by lifting the Masonic Temple Rite ceremony.
Joseph felt the abrasion and the very nature of the Council of 50 was to find land outside of the US where they could practice their religion (polygamy, Joseph as King). The Council of 50 sent representatives to the newly independent Republic of Texas, where they negotiated unsuccessfully with Sam Houston et al., and the Council of 50 was scouting lands in the west in Mexican and US Oregon country.
4) Utah violence: I grew up in Provo and as a cub scout visited local pioneer museum (Veteran's Park), etc. Timpanogas were the first nations people of Utah Valley and there were was an ambush in AF canyon, and a horrible battle at Fort Utah (replica forth there now, Geneva Road just north of Center Street) where the warrior's were decaptitated and their heads put on stakes. The Chief's wife flung herself from a cliff in Rock Canyon, which became Squaw Peak. Some Indians were made slaves (research what BY said about slavery).
Research the ambush at Bear Creek in Logan. Research the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Paiutes being blamed by BY. I now have a reverence for the First Nations people of where I grew up (Provo) and near where Angie grew up (Preston).
Brigham made bowie knife threats at the pulpit against ExMormons. A stake president in Manti had a YM castrated and there's a letter from BY to not speak of it anymore. Wild Bill Hicock claimed to have killed a dozen men for BY. A federal SLC judge was murdered, and a few weeks prior BY at the pulpit said somebody should do something about that man. When Pres Buchanan had Johnston's Army enter SLC in 1857 it was to replace BY as Territorial Gov. BY was surely concerned he would be charged for accessory in relation to the recent federal judge's death, or charged on bigamy (yes, federal anti-bigamy laws existed as early as the 1830s). BY was concerned by what might happen to him and the saints at the approaching army, so he ordered marshal law and had the temple foundation covered and most saints evacuated. By gave up his territorial governship in-part on the basis of guarantee of pardon for him and church leaders to not be charged with any crimes (bigamy, death of the federal judge, etc.).
It was during this perfectly awful 1857 time that the Fancher wagon party from NW AR entered the valley, and just six months before that (Feb, '57) Parley Pratt was murdered in the same area by an estranged husband of a married woman whom Parley married (bigamy). There were rumors that among the Fancher party were Carthage Greys and MO Wildcats, and the very pistol that killed Joseph (as if any of that would be justification for killing 120 men, women and children on their trek father down into Southern Utah in an ambush and subsequent false treaty/white flag).
Utah was entered as a Slave Territory, and you can read BY's original words that "Slavery is from God." That's the thing when people blindly follow a prophet. Yes indeed, prophets can and do lead entire groups of people (a church) astray, and that's what polygamy and racism (slavery in Utah, racial prohibition from church priesthood and temples until 1978), were.
1850s Utah was not an "all is well in Zion place." it was a time of suspicion (the second awakening/refining from church officials purging naysayers), and a time of xenaphobia and the US government replacing the mixing of theocratic/autocratic BY leadership w/territorial leadership. The worst massacre of white lives, the massacres at Bear Creek, Pleasant Grove, Ft Provo, etc. The Nauvoo Legion was still active (and activated by BY when Johnston's Army was approaching).
The legacy of victim mindset, of avenging our wrongs -- is powerful energy that lived on into the 20th century by original Mormons and their kids. We see alt-right, armed groups very active in Utah, with a belief in apocalypticism and extremism. What is that source? It's not just from the 1800s history, it's from current comments (e.g. Ezra Taft Benson was a member of the famous Burch Society, he was the one who made comments like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the work of communists to undermine America). missedinsunday.com/memes/race/so-called-civil-rights/
In summary on violence in Mormon history and its legacy effects, history is written by the victors, but the memories of First Nations people, of Fancher Party, etc. is in my heart with great respect. I also mourn the loss of Mormon lives at Huan's Mill (the worst loss of life, 18 souls). There is a reason you haven't heard about this two-sided history -- if you've only been listening to the church.
When you learn the history of polygamy (fathers/brothers who would have wanted Joseph tarred and feathered or killed for messing around with their wives/daughters/sisters), of Zion's Camp, of The Danite Mormon Militia and their burning of neighboring county seat and property and displacement of ExMos, of the Danite Malitia's attack on the Missouri State Malitia at Crooked Creek, and of Sydney's Salt Sermon (he first threatened Missourians with "extermination"); when you hear of Joseph going to Liberty jail on charges of treason, of Joseph going to jail in Carthage on charges of destruction of a press and treason (setting up a theocratic kingdom --that was the charge that had no bail); and when you see the minutes of Joseph's Council of 50 and setting himself up as King of the Earth for a theocratic Kingdom of God; and when you see the Mormons having a MO ("Danite") malitia, then the largest army (Nauvoo Legion) outside of the US Army; and when you see thugs like Porter Rockwell celebrated (he stood trial for killing Gov Boggs, and yet there's a statue of him in Lehi City Hall --- When you see all of this -- you see a two-sided story in violence and legacy-present.
Mormons now celebrate the Nauvoo Legion a type of self-defense and strength, and they celebrate murderous characters like Porter Rockwell. The feelings of one-sided victim'ness are a dangerous thing to teach, as are the narratives that "We're the one true church, Satan's hand was set against us to stir the hearts of evil men." History. Isn't. That Way. There are always two-sides, and the truth is somewhere usually in-between the versions.
It's incredibly liberating to learn the truth of history, so we can really see the truth and learn. I now see compassionately for the women victims of polygamy (whereas I used to defend the men). I now see compassionately for the First Nations victims of white, European expansion (vs believing Mormons had some of the best Indian relations in the West). Knowledge gives us a proper view, where our hearts can then align in compassion for the victims and the two-sided nature of things (vs self-victimization and self-justification). The LDS church needs to acknowledge its history and stop preaching one-sided victim'ness.
What did and do you feel about the Mormon Temple Ceremony? More was mormon answers about 'What did and do you feel about the Mormon Temple Ceremony?'
1) Mormon temple rites are not necessary. Our lives are our covenants with God (not our words, accompanied by a Masonic handshake). Does God only honor our lives of virtue if we made a promise in an LDS temple, or if we are dead and someone living by proxy did so in our name? God is omnipotent and provides for our salvation and for our connections in the next life. God doesn't need humans doing the work of salvation for other humans.
2) the temple ceremony has changed over time:
a) "Oath of Vengeance" (to avenge the blood of JS) -- removed in early 1900s
b) "Blood Oath" (to cut your own throat, sign made of thumb across neck) if you reveal the temple ceremony -- removed in 1990 (sign, but language remained)
c) Women covenanting directly with God (used to covenant w/their husbands, who covenanted w/God) -- changed in 2019. By nature before, a woman was incomplete w/out the man
d) there used to be a "Protestant Choir" (temple patrons as live actors) singing protestant songs led by a protestant preacher (a temple patron actor) as part of the endowment ceremony. It was a jab at protestants and the idea of "we're the right way."
The bottom line is God is omnipotent; God doesn't need living humans to baptize for dead humans. There is only one mention in the Bible about baptisms for the dead and it was Paul talking about resurrection, saying "look at those people that do baptisms for the dead, even they believe in resurrection." Paul wasn't advocating for it, he was referencing a group of early Christians practicing it, saying even they believe in resurrection. If Paul thought baptisms for the dead were necessary, you can bet he would have preached for the practice.
Joseph was likely speculating about that one scripture in the entire Bible that mentions baptisms for the dead (mentions it, doesn't preach for it), and Joseph prefaces in D and C that he was pondering about his brother Alvin, who did not receive baptism (the protestant and Catholic view of the time is you'd go to hell w/out it) -- and that's what he came up with.
4) the church is building smaller temples to promote what it wants: "worthy," temple-recommend holding members (tithe payers, active in church, keeping the rules). temples also require a lot of volunteers. A religion needs an icon and place of spiritual significance. the church will promote temples more and more, as the necessary ordinances to get to heaven and the only way to be together forever (what is stronger psychological sauce than your family?) Temples are extremely beautiful, like the conference center or tabernacle, like cathedrals, they naturally imbue awe and wonder -- man's noble monuments as an ode to God. But does God want a $50m building with "Holiness To The Lord" enscribed on it? What did Jesus do at the expensive Herodian temple? What did Jesus teach us to the answer to the question, "wherein have we served you Lord," and he answered, "when you've served the least of mankind" (the marginalized). Our lives in serving the poor, in being devoted to the marginalized - are the key. there is no litearlism, no absolutism (handshakes and secret rites) -- there is a Lived Walk With God.
Discernment questions to ask yourself: What is the relationship between Masonic temple ceremony and LDS temple ceremony? Is there correlation to a secret temple ceremony where the entrant covenants to cut his/her own throat if they divulge the secret, and Joseph and the leaders secretly practicing polygamy? Does God need humans to save humans? Is God not omnipotent? Is baptism symbolic or literal? Can we only make promises to God in an LDS temple? are our lives themselves our covenant with God? why is there only one mention (not preaching for) of baptisms for the dead in the Bible? Do we need underwear with Masonic symbols sewn into them to remind us to live with virtue? Is there a literal protection in that underwear? What interest does the church have in building smaller temples in more areas?
Were you asked inappropriate questions in "worthiness" interviews by your Mormon Bishop? More was mormon answers about 'Were you asked inappropriate questions in "worthiness" interviews by your Mormon Bishop?'
Confession is a misconception, and it's dangerous. We don't need a human to pronounce us "worthy." It's control. Untrained men asking inappropriate questions, what could go wrong? :) All should be welcomed in Christ's sacrament. Confession is putting a man between a person and God.
What do you feel or know about the church's history/beliefs with race and the Priesthood? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about the church's history/beliefs with race and the Priesthood?'
Other churches had issues w/racism as well, but the LDS church still has not apologized. I'm impressed though that the Gospel Topics Essay does say (pulls up shy of apologizing) that the beliefs once taught (curse of Cain, curse of Ham, less worth pre-existence) are no longer doctrine or taught (they were taught by BY and other prophets and apostles -- those where the contemporary worldviews of the time).
I respect the Community of Christ, a restoration branch (Emma and many stayed behind in Nauvoo, mainly over the issue of polygamy), which gave blacks the right to have the priesthood in 1865, and gave women the right to have the priesthood in 1984, and all members (regardless of sexual orientation) the right in 2003.
In 1978 the LDS church was being threatened by the IRS, under authority of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with their tax-exemption status. missedinsunday.com/category/memes/race/
Did God change his mind? Some church leaders (up thru the 1960s said the racial ban would never go away and was God's will). Or were there legal, financial, and social (BYU sports were getting boycotted) pressures to change?
What do you feel or know about mormon polyandry practices? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about mormon polyandry practices?'
Most LDS members (including me until1.5 years ago), don't know that Joseph was married to between 10-12 women who were already married to other men (polyandry).
The church in its Gospel Topics Essay (early 2010s) acknowledges this, but they say it was likely just "spiritual wifery: (no sex). Are we to believe that 25-33% of Joseph's wives were just spiritual sealings (no sex)?
The LDS women who gave affidavits in the 1870s and 1880s for the Temple Lot case (when polygamy was okay in the church), testified though of full marital relations. Further, sex was the practice of polygamous marriages of Joseph's contemporaries, e.g. HS, BY, HCK, JT, etc.
I know people in the Denver Snuffer restoration movement, and some older-oriented folks in th RLDS tradition, who claim that polygamy, nor polyandry, was practiced by Joseph Smith and they cite as evidence that there are no known offspring.
My thoughts on denying Joseph's offspring are:
1) if women were married to other men while in sexual relations with Joseph (the LDS church in its essay acknowledges 10-12 women were polyandrous relationships), do you think those women, especially at that time, would have admitted to the baby being any other than their husband's? Recall that polygamy was secretive until 1852 in Utah, and many of these women were sworn to secrecy in the temple endowment ceremony (existed until 1990).
2) there was one account of a dying woman telling her daughter (in Utah) that her father was Joseph Smith
3) paternity tests for that many generations removed, are not reliable in the way familial tests are (tests for generations back more show the area of origin)
4) abortions were possible. Sarah Pratt claimed that John C. Bennett was performing abortions. Pratt described the instrument Bennett may have used: “a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end.” Bennett was a trained obstetrician and presumably would have had the knowledge of how to abort a pregnancy. Hyrum Smith testified in 1842 that Bennett assuaged the fears of the women he seduced by promising: “He would give them medicine to produce abortions, providing they should become pregnant.
Polygamy did not just end in 1890 with WW's Manifesto.
a) there were two more manifestos, into the late 1910s
b) polygamous marriages and families still continued (there was no dissolution of families)
c) President JFS had 12 children by polygamous wives after 1890, and while President of the church. JFS was charged with Unlawful Cohabitation and he paid a fine (no jail time), while he was President of the church.
d) Fundamentalist groups continue until today, and if you believe that John Taylor (third president) was a prophet, you'll want to see the document in his own hand (an LDS Church Historian office verified it), ordaining three men (in an all-day meeting at a Centerville home) to continue the practice. Taylor had said publicly that the practice should never end (in his tenure men were going to federal jail.
Did God change His mind, or was the church under legal and financial pressure?
a) this is what WW spoke of in his 1890 Manifesto to end the practice
b) men were being imprisoned for bigamy, evading suspicion by having multiple homes and back entrances and cloaking their identities. My mom has a wood doll in her collection, carved by a polygamist in jail in the 1880s (that diddy will be the estate sale --for sure!)
c) there were three anti-bigamy acts from the 1850s to 1880s, the last of which being the Edmunds-Tucker Act, where Congress empowered the judicial and administrative branches to seize assets of the Mormon church if it did not discontinue the practice
d) the church hired a law firm in San Francisco, which drafted the Manifesto and placed church assets into the protection of The Corporation of the CoJCoLDS (the same, official church registered today)
e) Wilford Woodruff was right, and it was a type of plea he was making with men of the time, as it had become so doctrinally and culturally engrained into Mormon society (what can be more sacred than your family, and the heavy-drum beating (it was the main doctrine of its day) of BY and JT. BY taught you can't get to highest heaven w/out it, that it was eternal, that you are an Adam of an earth with it and each wife becomes the Eve of that earth. heavy, crazy stuff.
If we believe in being subject to laws, why was polygamy practiced at all?
a) anti-bigamy laws were on the books in most states as early as 1830s, and in Canada and Mexico in the 1850s and 60s (when Mormon Deseret Colonies were started).
a) there also were statutory rape laws (girls under 18) on the books in many states. Joseph had a number of younger wives, two were 14 -- and yes it would have been considered highly uncouth for a 37 year old man to marry a 14-year old girl.
b) Reed Smoot was a Utah Senator and he had to go under congressional trial, and WW the same, to declare that the practice had ended (but it didn't really until the 1910s, there were two apostles still doing marriages in Canada and Mexico, and some reports in the US).
c) the church (JFS) issued a Second, and then Third Manifesto (we only have the First, WW's in 1890) in the 1900s and 1910s. Where WW's manifesto is more of a plea not a commandment (he's reasoning with the men of what will happen if the practice continues), JFS' were more by way of commandment and penalties of excommunication. Two LDS apostles were excommunicated in the 1910s for polygamy.
d) the practice continues today in FLDS, although state and county AG offices have never really enforced anti-bigamy. The biggest action came in 2010s when Utah AG rightly disbanded an FLDS trust (law of consecration), where members were required to put their homes into the trust (a way Warren could control people).
When you read the journal entries and accounts of the women, when you try and put yourself in the victims' shoes -- you stop justifying a wrong practice. You see patterns of grooming (Joseph deeding plots of land next to his mansion before he'd approach the woman in marriage). Joseph saying things like, "What's wrong in one circumstance can be made right in another, but secrecy is needed."
Polygamy was a custom of the oldest times of the OT, it wasn't commanded and it wasn't a practice by NT times. Yes kings (David, Solomon) and sultans have had harems -- does that make it from God? If polygamy was a religious practice in Jesus' time, the temple pharisees and sadducees would have been all about that! In fact, anti-polygamy credos were adopted in early Christianity at the Council of Trent (it's not a religious Judeo-Christian practice!) Dang straight a patriarchal world of history would have used religious polygamy for its benefit (only kings and sultans had that haram-hankering authority!)
JS taught against it publicly: T and S articles, and most remarkably for me you can read the former D and C (1835 ed) 101:4 (removed by BY), which said "marriage should be between one man and one woman."
Joseph though privately practiced polygamy (along with his brother and other church leaders), and he privately preached it (Council of 50 minutes).
It is wholly incongruous with a rightful man of upstanding character to publicly preach against something so vile as polygamy, yet privately practice and preach for it. Was this b/c an angel of God threatened Joseph with a sword? Was he a reluctant participant? Why would Joseph go to the grave for things he publicly preached, but not stand up for something so significant? Was there a reason Joseph had the Council of 50 sent men to negotiate with Sam Houston and the new independent Republic of Texas, and why they were looking for land in the Oregon and Mesican (Great Basin) territories? (they wanted to live outside of the restrictive laws of the US - that's the other side of the story, it wasn't just religious persecution, and would polygamy not be something to be persecuted for?)
Rebuttals to apologist (excuse) Claims made by the church (prior), or in our folklore of soothing myth:
a) "Polygamy was needed b/c there were so many widows." You can look at census and church record data, and documentation of massacres, and see there were equal men and women. Birth rates were not different then, nor were death rates. The largest # of Mormon lives lost was Haun's Mill, where 8 souls lost their lives (12 were men and boys). Even if it were true that there were many female widowers, widows can be cared for w/out polygamy.
b) "Polygamy was needed to get the church procreation up, we wouldn't have survived with numbers without it!" Fact: the gestational period for a human child was and is 40-weeks. women don't procreate faster if they have a polygamous husband.
c) "Less than 5 percent of church members practiced polygamy." Facts: yes, and who were those male church members practicing polygamy? (A: they were male leaders). What does that say about the practice? And, it was likely by the end much higher than that. There is a sad/funny quote by HCK talking about the disdain for stake presidents choosing the prettiest of girls, and how the apostles need to have a "fair shake."
These are apologetic soothing stories we tell ourselves. It's uncomfortable for a reason.
The legacy of polygamy includes:
a) FLDS: Warren Jeffs, SoUT, prarie dresses
b) UAB: including Cody Brown's family from the TLC tv series "Sister Wives" mainstream, modern dress
c) other fundamentalist groups that broke apart, a lot of schismatic stuff and murders (Singer-Swap) in the 80s, and more breakoffs of families now from FLDS now that Warren Jeffs is in jail until chance of parole in his 90s for ritualistic rape, including consummating a marriage on a temple alter with his apostles and other wives as sacred witnesses (absolutely sickening)
d) murders of Brenda Lafferty and her daughter in 1984 by her brothers-in-law, who were inspired by fundamentalist teachings and original church Blood Oath doctrines (that LDS temple oath was discontinued in the early 1900s).
LDS folks like to carte blanche disclaim FLDS folks, but it is the same root and legacy of polygamy, it is the same practice, and you can read comments by Warren Jeffs w/out attribution and think you're reading something from BY. If you believe John Taylor was a prophet or correct in his views on polygamy, the fundamentalists have a great document to stand on (validated by late 20th century LDS History Office historian). Polygamy is sadly OUR legacy --and religious polygamy is absolutely, without question, a male abuse of women.
I'm fine with polygamous relationships if that's a person's relational choice -- but I am not okay w/religious polygamy, it's abuse of women.
Did God change his mind on polygamy and race-based priesthood and temple bans -- or was it manmade error?
a) the latter type of things tend to implode over time.
b) polygamy is the low-point example, the stain, of the LDS history.
c) it is uncomfortable for a reason, and it can't be explained away when you learn the facts, and try and see things from the victim's view.
The church can't gaslight and hide the topic forever, or people who value common consent and transparency such as me, will leave the church.
The LDS church still practices spiritual polygamy:
a) the doctrine is still held that the highest degree of the celestial kingdom is where eternal procreation takes place and where spiritual polygamy exists
b) a man can still be sealed in the temple to more than one woman, 1) in cases of being a widow,
c) in (some) cases of temple divorce.
Many people would have wanted Joseph dead, including Masons (for lifting their temple rites, they had a Blood Oath consequence), and husbands, fathers, brothers of the 30-40 women with whom Joseph was married (yet publicly preached against and denied). 24 of Joseph's wives came in the last 24 months of his life. Nauvoo wasn't the zionic experience portrayed in LDS history, it was a time of polygamy, Masonry, it's when an army was built, a time when the mayor (JCB) was ousted for polygamy, a time when the RS sisters signed a statement blaming polygamy on JCB and claiming JS's innocence in the matter, a time when JS became the sole trustee of the church and he resold plots and lands, and deeded plots near his mansion to his wives, etc. Polygamy had run its course in Nauvoo, it was a small town and neighboring towns (Warsaw, Quincey, Carthage) heard of it.
It wasn't all righteous-religion that caused JS' death as we were taught -- it was neighbors (and those internally in the church, as manifested by those who stayed behind and didn't go west) fearful of polygamy. Would neighboring towns be concerned by polygamy among LDS church leaders? would Masons be ticked at Joseph's replication of their temple rite (with its Death Oath if one were to speak of the secret rites outside of the Masonic temple)? Would neighboring towns be concerned that the leader of that religion had a Council of 50 whose stated purpose was to set up a theocratic government on earth, to supplant all other governments? (treason). Would neighboring towns be concerned that the new religion had formed a Nauvoo Legion, which was second in size to the US Army?
Issues are multiple and nuanced (vs the reductionist version I was taught that we are the "one true church and Satan's hand was stirring everyone up against us").
Apologetics (soothing things we were taught, as if if justifying of what happened) ... are by
nature overly-simplified and one-sided.
The truth is usually in the space in-between, where there is multiple factors of culpability. Evidence is evidence -- and it can't be apologized or ignored away, or felt away. History is messy stuff. Our heroes often have cardinal flaws. Our sacred stories are often nuanced.
I absolutely see polygamy as male abuse of women. I think Joseph was on a tear, 24 wives in 24 of his last months. I think Joseph abused his power (read the women's accounts and affidavits while in the protection of later-Utah, they're still revealing). I think Joseph used "revelation" to cover his tracks (Emma later reported that she first "caught him in the act" in Kirtland with Fanny Alger, which the LDS church justifies by recording her as Joseph's first polygamous wife). I think in the end Joseph knew he'd opened an awful pandora's box (a friend recorded something he said as to such). In the end, it was Joseph's greatest problem, and the church's biggest black eye.
It wouldn't be as long-lasting if the church would just acknowledge the practice as problematic, but the LDS church likes to keep the myth around the men, the myth, the legends (pay no attention to history, original documents or anything but your Sunday manual). And, the LDS church, as President Oaks said, "Is not in the business of apologizing." Lastly problematic for the church, it still holds the doctrine up (it hasn't denounced polygamy in the celestial kingdom), and it still practices spiritual polygamy (men can be sealed to more than one woman). So yeh, abuse of women, abuse of power, both then and now.
What is the Word of Wisdom? More was mormon answers about 'What is the Word of Wisdom?'
Pamphlets from the Cleveland Temperance Society were in the Kirtland area and you can see almost exact replica wording (Joseph's pattern to borrow from publications of the time) to the WoW "revelation."
You can read "Means of Preserving Health, And Preventing Disease" from 1806 and see where it says, "Avoid the excessive use of hot drinks such as coffee, chocolate and tea, particularly the last."
While the men socialized they often did so with whiskey and tobacco, and the women with coffee and tea. It's clear from Whitney's statement that Emma complained to Joseph about the nasty spittle on the floors, and it's clear that BY made a comment much later in the 1850s that, "If men are to give up their whiskeys and tobacco, women are to give up their coffees and teas."
BY owned the whiskey distillery in SLC and it was recorded by travelers to be a strong whisky, called "Valley Tan." The church owned the vineyard and press (the building is still there) in Laverkin, and the bottles were called "Dixie Wine." A bottle was placed by BY and Erastus Snow in a box encased in the SE corner of the stonework with coins, records, newspapers, a sliver plate, and a bottle of Dixie Wine!
The LDS church regulates every aspect of your life, including the temperature of your caffeine and you underwear! It really could attract more members if it eased up on hot caffeine! Tea is good, mild barley drinks (beer) are fine and the WoW actually says that, and alcohol by itself is not harmful, it's like anything -- moderation is the key. I will say spot-on, good on ya on tobacco for the WoW forbidding that, that is no bueno, and good in moderation (I get meat sweats if I eat too much)!
I really don't think God cares about our drinks -- do you really think God has an opinion on coffee and tea? but I do think God cares about our living responsibly and in moderation. Soda/cookie shops are the mainline RAGE in Utah! My daughter worked at Fizz here in St George, I joked w/her that she was working at the Mormon Coffee Shop!
The LDS church tries to regulate everything in your life, from the temperature of your caffeine to your underwear! :)
The temperance movement was alive and well in 1830s US, and as we've learned from 1920s prohibition and from religious experience, when you make something illegal or verbotten, it just leads to over-interest and over-use of it (kids often go nuts in college). Yin and yang, don't push too much on one side or an equal force will attract -- walk the middle path. I've told my daughters, drink for social occasions and to have fun (to celebrate) (not the opposite), but drink in moderation (no reason to ever lose control in excess), and be responsible in all that you do. Make good choices.
Coffee, tea, bear -- these have become faith-tests and worthiness-signals in the LDS church and culture. You can be judged quicker for ordering coffee than for other "sins." Coffee a sin, really? it's a very external-type of religion socially, as Mormons have a ward congregation (in Utah that can be 4-5 blocks wide and long), and it's a very socially-active faith (youth groups, adult parties, Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, etc.). There's kind of a hierarchy of sins in Mormon culture, where alcohol and tobacco are right out, pornography is worse than alcohol, etc.
The WoW has inconsistencies in what it says vs how its now observed, e.g. hot drinks (can drink hot chocolate but can't drink tea, even if cold, or coffee), e.g. mild barley drinks (WoW says they're okay, but in modern culture Mormons can't drink beer), e.g. only eat fruit in the season thereof (well it's okay now to eat whatever fruit in whatever season). e.g. somehow caffeine when I was growing up was deeply frowned upon (could get you judged by the neighbors!), but about mid to late 00s it informally became okay b/c BYU vending machines started selling regular Coke.
WoW was loosely followed until 1920s, e.g. BY had a whisky distillery, there was a church-owned winery in Laverkin and a bottle of Dixie Wine was placed in the time capsule of the cornerstone of the St George temple, JS had a bar in his Nauvoo mansion, he wrote in his journal about going to get a beer one night, etc. The WoW was 1830s frontier folk thinking and borrowed from the temperance pamphlet. (it's not an eternal, cosmic, absolutist thing!)
It's human nature to want to fit in and to be at the top of the caste -- and sadly that's what judging people by their drinks, does. (I literally used to look down on people that smoke or drink alcohol). I've heard people close to me derogatorily say, "They are beer drinkers." When my wife moved to Springville, UT in the 80s she wasn't initially allowed to play with a girl in the neighborhood, as her dad drank beer. It's really sad how people use their beliefs and make them into projections used for judging.
Moderation is a universal principle for healthy living.
What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre?'
I live in Southern Utah and it pains me to feel the emotion of that area. I've spent time there to absorb. I've studied. The worst murder of white emigrants across the US, 120 men, women and children, were murdered by Mormons.
Apologetic claims on this are astounding and don't excuse MURDER. the (unarmed) men and boys were separated one mile from the women. On command the leader (President Haight) ordered "Fire" and the people dropped at point blank. there was coverup, excuses, the Paiutes were blamed by BY -- and ultimately only President Haight was hung by the US Marshalls, about 20-years later.
Haight was excommunicated at the time (this happened on 9/11/1857), but he had his temple work done in the 1960s and was reinstated by the church to full membership (excommunication rescinded).
People don't talk about it here. I got my hair cut the other day from a nice woman from Enterprise, she said she doesn't know much about it and nobody talks about it.
The LDS church built a monument in about 2007, and did not issue an apology, just said "deep regret." when President Oaks was asked why no apology he said, "The church is not in the business of issuing apologies, we just look forward." (that's not what primary kids are taught).
So, so sad. I feel the reverence when I'm there, and I've apologized in prayer there for the wrongs of my people (I have no relatives that I know of that were involved, but Mormons are my people, even if I've separated membership -- I have to own my truths).
What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham? More was mormon answers about 'What do you feel or know about the translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham?'
1) Diagrams 1 and 2 are found commonly in the Book of Breathings, which were papyri common to 2nd and 3rd century BCE (not Abraham's time of 4-5k BCE).
2) It's a 300-200 BCE papyri, we now that not just by the diagrams exactly matching others now commonly had in museums, but by the papyri itself. Fragments of the "Joseph Papyri" (as they were catalogued in Chicago, Emma having sold them to those curators) survived the Chicago Fire and were given to the St Louis Museum, which gave them to the Smithsonian, which gave them (1960s) to the LDS church. The Church History office was so convinced (as believing Mormons are and I used to be) that they were of ancient origin, and seeing this as a "proving" moment, that they had them examined. The results were as mentioned, circa 300-200 BCE and common diagrams found in other "Book of Breathings" (mummies were buried w/the papyri as a guide and instructions for the after life).
3) JS' translation of Diagrams 1 and 2 do not match modern Egyptologist's translations/consensus. Egyptologists today can walk into a tomb and read the hieroglyphs. The Rosetta Stone was the beginning of modern interpretation, as it had ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek and Demotic on it announcing the same thing. And more than 150 years of research later, modern Egyptologists know the ancient language. Are we to believe thousands of scholars around the world and living proof (the Rosetta Stone, etc.), or Joseph Smith, regarding the Diagrams?
At least with the BOM Joseph could claim the golden plates full of characters from a reformed language, were taken by an angel back to heaven -- so there's no way to prove or disprove such not-so-distant (400 AD) language. Although, Joseph did write a "Caractors" document, which was taken by Martin Harris to an Egyptologist of the time, Professor Anton, who declared them inauthentic. Mormons have perpetuated a myth that he tore up his certificate of authenticity when he found out they were from gold plates given to Joseph from an angel, but in fact Professor Anton is on record after that event, writing that such an assertion was false, that he had in fact said those characters were not ancient. Nonetheless, there is a contemporary replica of the "Caractors" document owned by the Community of Christ, who until 1980 wanted to prove the BOM was true; they gave copies (you can find it in a quick google search) to the LDS church and others -- and all Egyptologists agree, they are non-sensical, non-Egyptian-based caractors. researchgate.net/figure/…
The LDS church acknowledges the three items above in its Gospel Topics Essay, and offers the apologist view that Joseph used the papyri (which he'd obtained with the mummies) to channel a more ancient time and what Abraham would have wrote. Okay, that's interesting and I'm better with that version (but it's not openly taught, and they had to change the story to "he channeled Abraham, as the Diagrams and surviving Joseph Scrolls are disproven as ancient).
For reference, the oldest Torah scrolls only date to the First Temple period, 1.5-2k years later -- so Joseph's claim that the papyri were Abraham's writing -- would be absolutely incredible and wanted by Jews, Christians and Muslims -- who all claim Abraham.
4) JS also produced the GAEL alphabet, a means to translate ancient Egyptian to modern English. It is completely off to what modern Egyptologists know.
5) JS studied ancient Hebrew while in middle and late Kirtland years -- and while I'm sure JS was an intellectual giant, he made claims of ancient origin that weren't true, and his Hebrew wasn't the best (credit the man, he only learned for a couple years -- yet he was a seer?) eg The Hebrew word for "dog" is "כלב", which is pronounced "Keleb".Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is officially known as "Alpha Canis Majoris," and informally known as "The Dog Star". i.e. "Kolob" was a bastardized word for "dog", and Kolob is Sirius.
Again w/scripture, BoA is like the BOM - not of ancient origin -- but what is scripture? does it have to be historical? Is what it teaches negated by a false, modern claim of ancient authenticity? I think the value of scripture is simply in the meaning of the stories.
What did the Mormon religion bring to your life? More was mormon answers about 'What did the Mormon religion bring to your life?'
Mormonism was good for me for the first portion of my life, it was a comfortable structure that taught me many good things. I came to a point where I realized that what the LDS church had taught me about church history, was an exercise in apologetics, that the truths of things were more nuanced.
I see Mormonism now with gratitude for what I learned, including that organized churches can really mess with a person's head and can hinder people's growth.
I view organized religion as a lesson module I had for this lifetime. It's like having a past job where you learned a lot and dang it was hard, but you're grateful you had that learning. It was good, and it was bad -- and I'm grateful for the lessons I learned.
Religions are products of men's writing and speaking (good things get tinged), of myths that become sacred stories, of rites and rituals.
God is Pure and Simple and we can commune Directly (no church required :).
I enjoy Community of Christ for the honesty they've had with restoration history, for their evolution and who they are -- and the community of people I interact with, and differing ideas are welcomed. I see church simply as a means to help us in this life. Not everyone needs a church, particularly as we grow spiritually.
It doesn't matter which church or tradition we are born into, God has many names, we are individuals with respective personalities, and God guides us in. An iron rod is your path, and the building of people scorning can include the religiously dogmatic and narrow people.
My life, brain and stress in my body -- are so much better off now. It takes time to process, but the key is not the mind -- it's the releasing of energy. we're here to learn and experience, and contrast is what gives us appreciation. Yes it's releasing -- but it's really focusing positively on what we want. our positive thoughts/intentions become our manifestations (when we aren't cross-talking ourselves with what was or what isn't). It's sitting with something without judging it, but thanking it for what it taught us -- and focusing on what we do want. We become what we want.
God is the Infinite Teacher and Giver. We can learn from the sources we ask to learn from (religions, spiritual practices). God gives liberally to those who ask.