Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This dog is blessed, what else can a Christian say?
I got my financial aid and looked around my room deciding what to buy. I don't really need new jeans, or extra paper or pens, or winter clothes. I bought a couple new atheist shirts, from Cafepress, and I couldn't think of any movies to buy, I haven't been watching many lately anyways. I thought, "well maybe I'll get some new books." Ended up I splurged and this is what I bought:
Parenti's God and His Demons
Dawknis' The God Delusion
Dennet's Breaking the Spell
Loftus' Why I Became an Atheist
Shermer's Why Darwin Matters
Sagan's The Demon Haunted World
Blackmore's A Brief Insight to Consciousness
Thank you BYU for adding to my atheist-related shelf in my library. I've been getting into books more lately, so maybe I will make a long post related to the books I've read, in hopes of helping my readers to find one they will like. Plus, I like talking about my books, lol.
So I had more classes today. I work, so most of my classes are evening classes. Today's evening class was fine, and nothing to churchy, except I wore an atheist shirt and had to introduce myself to the class for quite a long time and was anticipating someone saying, "what does your shirt mean?" However, my other class was very religious, though I love the professor, he's great.
But he had the room split into 'yes' 'no' 'neutral' grounds and then asked questions where we had to pick our 'grounds' to stand on. One question was "women's place is in the home." Yup, he asked that, some of the questions were 'taboo' so to say. Needless to say I was only one of 3 who went to the 'no' side. We were all guys too. And then there was only a handful in the neutral grounds. Most, and I think all the girls, went to the 'yes' side. It was a very Mormony moment. He even asked us why we said 'no' but didn't get to me. Oh well.
Then at another point a girl was asked about success in a career being weighed by income. She wasn't sure how to answer. See, she was a freshmen and obviously indoctrinated. When asked about income she actually started by saying, "Well, it would depend on what my husband feels." Upon questioning, she meant this by saying that she expected to get married before graduating, dropping out, and raising the kids while the husband worked. Everyone was fine with this, and I was sickened. Literally. I am disgusted with myself so supporting such sexist views most of my life. And when around these people I am now all too aware of the level of conditioning in the church. Brain-washing if you will. Line by line, precept by precept, members are slowly brought into believing horrible things and think that they are the most wonderful and beautiful things imaginable. Men are less than women but are the leaders, have the priesthood, are the prophets and stewards, the bread-winners, and women are baby makers, spitting out a baker's dozen. The man is a bread-winner.
Moving on, I stole a ward message from a dorm. After giving the info on the boundaries of the ward, etc ... it gave a calendar.
Church from 1030 - 130 on Sundays
Meetings with bishop afterwords till 530
Meeting for women at 730 on Tuesday
Ward 'wrap-up' at 9 every Sunday evening
FHE at 7 every Monday.
Then activities interspersed throughout the week and month.
I shuddered when I saw it and thought about how much time the church requires. I was again sickened by the thought, and so grateful I am out of it. I mean, postmos say they have 3 more hours now every week. No! You have like 6 hours. And that's not including time freed by not praying, ever, or reading scriptures or Ensign materials, etc.... Gods, I am so happy now to be so free. So little constraint, so much more time, less anxiety guilt and shame, and now that the bishop knows about me I don't have people coming by to get me out to church or activities anymore. Lol. Way to give up on me guys, but really, thank you, I mean it.
That's it for my post I guess. Maybe I'll make another one, or two tomorrow. I want to write some book reviews, plus no real homework due yet, obviously with evening classes. Bye peeps.
Ok, so classes have started and I already have some things to say.
First off, every once in a while I wear one of my atheist shirts around on campus, but so far no one seems to recognize what they mean. I got on Cafepress and bought some more, they have like 10k+ atheist related items or something on there. Honestly, Cafepress is amazing, expensive, but wonderful. I've gotten a couple shirts from there and I just ordered a couple more. One says 'Skeptic' and I think I will wear it around campus. So, for all you lurkers, if you see me come up and say hi! And for the BYU Secret Police, I bought dozens of shirts for friends so there is no way you will ever know who I am, hahaha.
Seriously though, if you are a skeptic, a free-thinker (being Mormon and a free-thinker is not possible), atheist, humanist, agnostic, or simply non-religious, go to Cafepress and buy a fuc**** shirt. Be out spoken and vocal. Be the loud minority!
With a couple new shirts in the mail I also debated on buying this bumper sticker:
But I decided on this one:
Yup, I am putting this on my car. Go me.
So I went to a SHIFT meeting on Sunday. Secular Humanist something freethought I believe. It was a meeting about Dawkins book, The Greatest Show on Earth. I plan on making several posts about atheist books I've read at some point, over a dozen this year so far, so I won't explain it now, but the meeting was fun. Really fun actually, I enjoyed the atmosphere, and free pizza. Obviously the group isn't strictly atheist either, and there were 'believers' there, gasp, but I really enjoyed it.
I also used the restroom while there, TMI, and was amazed at their 'sinks.' They were basically a hole in the wall where you stick your hands in, soap squirts out, then water, then dryers turn on. It was amazing! The whole hand washing experience done while just standing there in one place. Not too amazing, mind you, but when I was having this exquisite experience I thought, "Ha, BYU, where's your God now?"
Now, I have to apologize. As much as I harp on BYU and Mormons, I still love'em. Much like how you love a runt puppy, or an old dog that is half blind, or a 2 year old kid. I bring this up cause I went to my Biology class and guess what was the first subject we went into? Evolution. Yup, the prof went right into it, and did a good job! I have never heard about evolution in any sophisticated way at BYU, in all of my classes, I'm over 70 credits mind you, till this last Monday.
The prof focused on how mutations can be beneficial and natural selection will weed out the unbeneficial ones or older versions of the species in favor of the new and improved ones. Thus leading to evolution over time. He did a good job, and since I've studied this on my own a lot, I got to answer some of the questions he posed whereas no one else in the room had the faintest idea what he was looking for. I felt pretty good about myself. And I noticed he watched me a lot after that while he continued through the class. Props to him. He's a creationist, old earth, and accepts evolutionary theory. Course the LDS church declared that man did not evolve, so they have some explaining to do about human evolution, but mainly they just shot themselves in the foot.
Lastly, I am happy to hear from random people, and some people have managed to find out who I am. Props to you for being such amazing stalkers. Honestly though, it makes me feel like I should try to organize a group or something. I am in some atheist groups, go on FB and find them, plus I'm in the underground group down here. But I think there should be a larger group down here. One of my friends is thinking of maybe starting a humanist type club at UVU, which them could be advertised to BYU students. Having a 'generalized' group down here to gather secularists and non-religious people, or even doubters, I think would be a great thing. I am all for community, and I think a lot of Mormons are, especially those who are becoming agnostic or doubting. You need to get out, the church will make you miserable.
And also, the Church is false. I happen to go further, and have good reason to, and declare that the bulk of the gods in our history are equally as false, but when pertaining to Mormonism all I say is look up anti. Actually do it. Some is skewed and out of context, some is outright lies, I know, I've read dozens of LDS books and studied extensively, and some anti is completely false. But some of it is good and true. I no longer understand how I supported the Church on blacks and women. I no longer understand how I got past some of the inconsistencies in the BoM, and I can no longer look at the Book of Abraham and the facsimiles in the same way ever again. Joseph Smith and all his women, Brigham Young just being himself, the church reeks of cover-ups, white lies, half truths, and a vigorous effort to skew things in its history to not sounding so bad. The PR of the church is quite amazing, but after really getting into the stuff, I cannot deny that the church purposely tries to rewrite history and hide things from its members.
That was a tangent. I will someday begin writing against the church on some points, but not right now. Right now, if you are following my blog, then become a follower! And make comments. I look forward to comments, but I rarely get them. And they don't all have to be in agreement with me, I like hearing opposing views. Though, often I just make funny posts with little to argue about. Lastly, get other people to read this! Tell friends who you know have doubts, or are more secular. Talk about it, that's the big thing. Not my blog, but your doubts or concerns. I didn't really step out of the church till I felt like I had some support. I wish I would've had more friends, back then, who were atheists or non-religious.
So, find your inner strength to stand up for your unbelief. Be open to criticism, against yourself, and to criticize others, including the Church and God. One sign of a cult is when they do not allow you to criticize their leadership. Enough said.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Do I need to say more to make that an interesting title for a post? .... I didn't think so.
First let me make it clear that I like the idea of food storage. It's pretty reasonable and smart. Say a massive blizzard comes through Utah, shuts everything down, the state calls in the National Guard to dig us out, blablabla. Well, I can say that Wal-Mart wouldn't be getting its shipments of food and if I hadn't stocked up and the roads didn't really open up for a week or so, then I'd have to go bother my Mormon neighbors who had a years supply.
But that's where it ends - a years supply? Seriously? That is SOOO much food! I like the 90 day supplies, those are nice, BUT A YEAR IS FREAKIN CRAZY TALK! What a weird 'practice' in the church. The whole Armageddon obsession in the church is really too much. I Googled 'food storage' and nearly all the sites were Mormon related, I switched to 'images' and nearly all of them looked like the picture above. You flip through a Deseret Magazine and there's food storage ads.
As I said, it's reasonable to-a-point. I remember being a teen in a 3rd hour combined meeting at church and it was about food storage and personal preparedness. People were going off on having food, climbing gear if earthquakes made new mountains, radios, EMP-proof electronics (?), and college textbooks to give our children an education after the end of the world. Seriously?
But it gets better. Then we were talking about where to go. They prepared 'meeting' houses for the elderly or single people to gather, such as the home of someone with one of those years supply food storages. Or how most people could gather to the church. It was a sturdy building, could easily support a lot of the members. Then some talked about bringing guns to defend the building against marauders and bandits who would know that they'd have those legendary years supply food storages. Course this is where the bishop interjected, thankfully, to say that he would let anyone and everyone inside, he wouldn't turn anyone away.
My issue is the mindset. Mormons building literal fortresses up in Park City to survive the end of the world, massive food storage depots in basements, and preparing to live like vagabonds out of Mad Max or The Road. Yup, the end of the world comes and your still in California ... how about that Park City castle now? Living in Utah and the earthquake hits, the mountain falls on your freakin house ... how about that food storage in the basement now? I wonder how many people have wasted half their incomes on bomb shelters and Park City fortresses in the church. Or all the 5-gallon buckets of wheat people have in dank corners of their basements. Mine do!
Stock up reasonably, it doesn't hurt to have food storage, to ensure the integrity of the structure of your home, but for gods sakes Mormons, stop wasting all that money on 'peculiar' things like the "Super-Duper Mormony Booper 1-Full-Year Food Storage Shelving Spectacular" shown here by Mrs. Allred-Tanner-Nielson.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
(This post is my number one hit, probably from Google, I always recommend catching up with my current views and statements, so please go to my newer posts. If you were looking for me then you found me!)
As a member of the LDS church I was full of one of my favorite terms: cognitive dissonance. The more I research cognitive dissonance and the more I talk to fellow non-religious people, the more I feel that cognitive dissonance is one of the major ways a person leaves a faith.
Cognitive dissonance is the tension one feels when they follow or hold contradictory beliefs or attitudes and arises from that inconsistency with themselves. Obviously a lot of things cause this, and people can try to go further into religion to get rid of this feeling/experience, but I find this to be a crucial point for postmos and non-religious people. I often hear something like this: "When I heard such-n-such, I was like 'huh, that doesn't seem right.'" Or, "I just didn't feel right when I was thinking this way but acting in another way that the church told me to do."
This may be one of the reasons why I cannot be an agnostic. The wishy-washy-ness of agnosticism does not sit well with me. However, agnosticism is purely reasonable and logical to me, but does not appeal emotionally. I do NOT know for sure whether there is no God, or gods. I don't think anyone knows. But I can tell you that all of the self-confessed atheists I've talked to face to face have admitted a level of agnosticism to their atheism. But I hear all the time from theists that they KNOW their particular god exists. And also that their god will be sending me to hell.
When I was an agnostic, floating, I was definitely not very happy. I was torn over my faith issues, wasn't sure if there was god that was not impressed by my lack of faith, or whether there was no god and I had been duped for most of life and had wasted two years on a mission (which most of it was a waste, but I still hold my mission to some worth and am grateful for the experience). Truly, my agnosticism has always been with me, and sometimes I even had a good level of atheism in my life. But the second half of my mission was what really set me down the path to atheism. But that is a tale for another time.
Being miserable in agnosticism also only seems to strengthen the case for god, you start thinking, huh maybe it is true cause I feel horrible. I was like this for over a year, going back and forth. Then I decided that I would 'test' atheism, prove it in my mind if it's true or not. I researched it, I read books, I began contemplating my morals without a dictatorial god over me. Less then a year ago I woke up one day and truly felt I had taken the step over, I was an atheist. There were no gods, the Church was false, miracles were lies or figments, prayer was nearly pointless, people the world over were caught in a phenomenon that has no rational basis.
And suddenly I was free.
The cognitive dissonance went away, I no longer mentally punched myself for lacking faith, I had a clear standing that I could define myself with (not too clear though, lol). In a matter of days I went from being nearly clinical depression to being the happiest I've been in years. And I still am. Sure, I feel lonely sometimes, I like having girlfriends, but my happiness is not dependent on that. Also, I was surprised by how free I felt. I was 'surprised by joy' you could say.
The LDS church teaches to learn things for yourself and has the mask of seeming open-minded. But they always have answers for everything, and a narrow view of the world and how to act and even think. I guess that is one of the things that makes a cult. I had never realized how tightly compacted my mind was. Even with doubts I still was stuck in the paradigm of Mormonism. But when I broke free, suddenly the world had mystery, suddenly the expanse of the horizon went ten-fold, suddenly I could think for myself, reason for myself, and enjoy the process.
I may write about these things in more detail later, but I wish to exonerate myself from any possible misunderstanding:
After leaving the church (at least in mind and practice) I am happier than I have ever been, and I feel so much more freedom then I thought possible. The grass can be, and is greener on the other side. For anyone who reads this that may struggle with some of the same things I did, realize that leaving religion or god does not equal being miserable. The process may be hard, and should considering what it means, but the 'result' is great. It's a large door, with many unique paths leading to it, with many people arriving by these different paths, and the room beyond is goes endlessly into the horizon.
And the horizon does not have a sunrise, but a galaxy rise, 400 billion suns. (to quote A Glorious Dawn)
And that (or those) is another reason of why I am an atheist.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
[This picture is from Urban Koda, check out his blog. I thought it was appropriate to use for this post as I talk about BYU, as a whole, for a little bit.]
BYU is fuc*** weird.
The statement just given is true.
It is true because of Mormonism.
Classes start soon and so there is an influx of Mormons to campus, and a lot of them are fresh new ... freshmen. Having been on and around campus a few times in the last couple days, and having visited a couple men's dorms, I noticed something interesting.
But let me interject, I do not profess to be a genius, or to be smarter than the average religious person. I am into psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and other things, I even like photography. Because of this I sometimes will notice something, and then get caught up on it, watching for it or thinking about it rather intently for an extended amount of time.
And as I was on campus I noticed something interesting about the literal fresh-men. Over 90%, literally, of the young guys arriving to BYU came with their mothers. Now, maybe this is normal with society, mothers are usually clingy to their children, sometimes creepily so (from my point of view). But it's really strange to walk into a lobby and see a dozen teenage boys, a dozen moms, and maybe only one dad who came along with his son and wife. I actually stopped for a moment to look at the crowd, and then kept a mental toll of the other people I would see, and sure enough, more teenage boys with their moms.
Is this normal? For moms to go to college with their boys, to travel across country for some of them, or to travel 50 miles from Ogden? Do moms do this in all other cultures and religions? Cause when I say over 90% I'm not just pulling a statistic out of my ass, I saw this! I counted!
Anyways. I'm not saying it's doctrine or anything, just a cultural aspect that I never noticed (my mom didn't come to college with me when I first came out here).
So, I got my transcript sent out to a rival college. I'm hoping I will make it in. See, I didn't do too great in a couple semesters from my first 2 years, and I still need/want to retake a couple classes to boost my GPA. But my first semester, and 2 other semesters average about 3.35, while these other two are a little, or a lot, lower. But the college says I should make it in if my GPA is over 2.6, which it is, but not by too much, I'd feel safer if it was at a 3.0 or better. The other thing is I have like 75 credits or something, so I'm worried if they won't like me for having so many. However, I hear religious class credits don't usually carry over to anything for other colleges, so I'll lose 14 credits most likely, which drops my overall credits down. Of course, that's the equivalent of 4 months and $2500 wasted in the sense of my college career. Maybe I can apply for a Mormonism Minor?
But I had a sickening epiphany as I was on campus. Not that I hadn't thought about the impact of the Church not being true, or there being no gods, and what that means for society and the human race, but I had an 'impactual' moment.
I read The Heart of Darkness in high school for fun. I also read Lolita, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and other books that normal high schoolers don't read for fun. In HofD the character, Marlow I believe, goes deep into the jungle to find Kurtz, a relatively evil man. The adventure isn't about 'the adventure' so much about the mind of man, as in human kind. There are interesting but disturbing things that happen along the way, such as the ship coming across another ship full of dying seamen, sick to the brain, who are firing cannons into the jungle, all day, for no reason. I believe Marlow and the crew leave them to suffer their feverish deaths, and later find Kurtz and his tyranny. But this is getting long so let me skip a lot here (plus I don't want to look up things to make sure I have it all right). So Kurtz is found, but he is old and dying, and on his deathbed he says the infamous words "The horror! The horror!" I believe Marlow is confused as to why Kurtz says that, but gives his different thoughts on what Kurtz may have meant. One of the reasons it is a famous line from literature, I'm guessing.
So I stepped outside onto central campus and stopped to look at the buildings, the atrium at the library, the trees and flowers, and the hundreds of people walking around, and then it hit me - it was all a lie! The millions spent on the buildings, the view of the campus being blessed, those hundreds of people wasting large portions of their lives away following an evil religion, it was a lie. All that money, all that time, wasted! And I thought about Kurtz, right at that moment, the horror of BYU, the horror of the lives wasted, the horror of the tyranny the church has over its followers.
I also thought that this would be my post for my blog for the day. Lol.
I will only scrap a little off the topic, I plan on writing about it someday, but I am not afraid to state that I think the church is evil. Not entirely evil, but a good portion. Its intolerance of opposing views, the sexist and homophobic agendas, and the doctrinal racism are just a part of that. But mainly the amount of money and, most importantly, the time that members put into the church. I am an atheist, and this time is all we have. The LDS church wastes so much of its members time doing things they do not need to do to be happy people. Rather, it has them miserable and guilt-ridden in a lot of ways (hometeaching and temple attendance). And the more I learn about the 'public relations' of the church, their cover-ups, etc ... the more I think that the higher ups may know that something isn't right. I daresay that some apostles or prophets in the past may have thought that the church wasn't true but had to keep it going or else the people would run amok.
Knowing that Boyd K. Packer never asks his fellow brethren if they have seen Christ, which entails that they do NOT see Christ regularly, tells me that the brethren haven't received any special revelations and possibly wonder why they haven't if the Church is true.
But that is for another time. Wish me luck on my transfer. Unfortunately, if I transfer, then this blog may be short-lived, or maybe I'll try to find a reasonable way to keep it going. Bye.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Another short entry, I hope [edit: nope]. This is one of the ways I lost faith, the 'problem' with miracles. In Mormonism miracles occur all the time, now, in the past, and into eternity. The miracles in the Bible and BoM are just that, actual miracles. Noah really had a big boat that held all the animals, there was a flood, Jesus did heal people, Alma and Amulek got out of the prison when God knocked the walls down (course the ceiling didn't collapse on them somehow, but that's just part of the miracle).
So I ask: where are the miracles today?
And I get several answers. First is that there are miracles all the time. I remember one of the 'brethren' stating that Hawaii needed rain or something so the church was praying and it started raining on the church. Or I've also heard people tell me about how they had an impression to go help someone and sure enough they needed help. Or how some missionaries blessed someone with cancer and they were cured. These must be miracles, right?
Well, if the church had been praying for rain to end a drought was there ever a possibility that it was never going to rain again? I mean, seriously, did they think the drought would last till the end of the earth? Eventually it was going to rain! Impression miracles are a little tricky, but I've had people call me up, saying they felt they should, and there was no reason. Also, usually people are generally aware that the person they visited were having difficulties or issues in the first place. You don't need an 'impression' to go, just a conscience that wants to help that person out. And then curing cancer? Well, on my mission I truly believed in the faith and blessed plenty of people too and they were never cured. Actually most missionaries do quite regularly. Then one of those dozens or hundreds of people actually is cured and it's a miracle? One out of a hundred? This is looking at the hits and ignoring the misses. 99 blessings with no effect, 1 given where the person got better.
Which leads to the negative side, what if no miracle happens? Well, then religions have that covered too = God wanted it to happen that way. Smart move guys. If you bless someone to get better, and they don't but get worse and die, then God just wants them on the other side. It's all spiritual and wonderful, win-win. You will hear these two statements from any congregation - "I believe in God because he cured my wife's cancer and she has been cancer free for five years now," and "I believe in God because even though my wife died of cancer he loves me, and she is with him now and I just know it in my heart." It is all rationalization and trying to deal with the hard truths of life by blinding themselves.
Lastly, in Mormonism miracles don't lead to faith. I don't fully understand why not, but okay. They claim that miracles follow the righteous and true church, that you can judge them by their fruits. Also, that miracles are reserved for the faithful. Okay, again I disagree, but let's take them in order.
If I met the prophet on the street and he put his hand on my forehead and then I saw a vision of the history of the earth, and he transformed my body into being 100% healthy with a 6-pack and all, then introduced me to a literal God, I think I would believe. But in Mormonism I wouldn't necessarily believe and feeling a burning sensation from the Holy Ghost is worth so much more than that. Makes perfect sense.
The church likes to say it has miracles surrounding it, that it's special. Well, maybe, but so does nearly everyone else. Islam has miracles, Hinduism has miracles, tons of Christian faiths have miracles all the time. And all these miracles are similar in what happens and the outrageous-ness of it all. I don't believe you have to disprove miracles, it would require lifetimes of work, but just comparing them to each other shows a general pattern that ALL religions share. I think that alone says something about miracles.
Lastly, what is the purpose of miracles in this view? I'm not sure. But I have my own reasoning when I look at stories. Joseph Smith healed random people and they would join the church, brethren would be possessed by evil spirits and throw themselves around and require exorcisms, Elijah had the duel with the prophets of Baal in front of hundreds of unbelievers, Paul met God while going across country, and the list goes on - these people did NOT have faith, or they didn't believe, not all of them. These miracles WERE to convince the unbelievers, and especially in the Bible most of them occurred in front of unbelievers (Plagues in Egypt for example). Why is it different now? And not just since Bible times, cause early church history is full of miracle accounts, so where did they all go? Why don't we see modern miracles like the ones recorded in 'wholely' texts from Adam to Joseph Smith?
I guess the answer is "Oh God is testing us different now, when compared to EVERYONE else in the history of the earth." I like to take a simpler route - miracles don't happen.
That's it, they don't. We are still exploring the world and ourselves, and many things are still mysteries, and some things seem random and supernatural, but they are not miracles guided by some invisible being. I do not accept 'miracle theory' as a viable answer to what people say happened to them, and maybe a small select crowd, that can't be repeated, that can't be tested, and where there has never been a test proving that miracles actually happen.
And that is one reason why I am an atheist.
Monday, August 23, 2010
I've been meaning to write a blog entry on some of the podcasts I listen to for some time. This is as much for you guys as it is for me. ... and gals too, thanks to Dawkins and his whole awareness speech I cannot say 'guys' without feeling sexist anymore. Thank you Dawkins for the cognitive dissonance.
Everyone has time to be educated. You can't tell me you don't have time to, even once a week, watch a podcast that enlightens you in some way. If you're new to the podcast realm, like me, or you haven't tapped into the atheistic ones just yet, then this list will be helpful.
Anyways, I'll go through the one's that I have listened to or watched the most, and therefor obviously enjoy in some way.
TED talks are great, amazing, inspirational, and intelligent. You feel like you're being a part of some massive world change order, that you are a part of the crowd of people who have the power to make the world a better place. The videos run anywhere from 10-30 minutes, averaging high teens, and therefor are good to watch while you eat, or have a moment between chores, school or work. I really like TED talks. The people that speak on it range from all over the world, all different cultures, and from the social and monetary elite to even people of lowly income or history but who have amazing stories to tell from their lives. I recommend TED talks to everyone and anyone, you will enjoy these.
The only people I know who don't care about TED talks are usually religious people who don't think they need to know much about the world, just the Bible. I think that says enough about the mindset religion gives people.
I like fora, though I mainly watch their short Daily videos, usually less than 5 minutes long and usually excerpts from their longer 1 hour videos. Fora also has university videos and audios, but I have not watched many since some can be nearly 2 hours. Fora, to my understanding, collects different intellectual videos from all over the world, and makes them available to people like me who didn't make this certain round table discussion in Canada, or this presentation in Australia.
Fora is only good for people who really like to learn as the videos run long. If you ever dreamed of being paid to be a full-time student so you could take classes forever, then these videos are right up your alley.
For Good Reason/Point of Inquiry
I combine these two because they are so similar and I love them. DJ Groethe is interesting to listen to on these audio podcasts. I know of some people who don't like him, but I like the questions he asks to his guests. The podcasts generally run about half an hour and the guests are usually secular/skeptic people who have written a book, and are interviewed on the topics of those books. So far this year I've read a dozen 'atheist' books and some of them I 'found' due to these podcasts.
If you like to read, or enjoy quick topic discussions then this is one of the best podcasts you can find. The guests who come on rank from obscure skeptics and atheists, to all four of the horsemen. I usually listen to about five of these a week. Though I'll run out by the end of the year at this rate.
A friendly roundtable discussion between atheists and theists ... or so they say. No, the discussions are topic orientated and make you think. However, it is run mainly from an atheist perspective, and honestly, generally the atheists make far better cases than the theists, but I am partial to that side to begin with. I don't plan on listening to every single podcast, but I have found some real gems of discussions and ideas in this podcast. They go through topics such as Stem Cell Research, Baha'i faith, Problems with Atheism, and plenty of others.
Runs about an hour, some are exactly an hour, and it is a discussion so plenty of fluff. However, for people who like to talk about issues and ideas this makes a great tool to find flaws or ideas for your arguments, and to see multiple sides of the issue.
One of my more recent podcasts I've started, and wasn't sure I liked it at first, but now it's honestly becoming my favorite. Based out of Grand Rapids Michigan (they always say something funny related to their area at the beginning) it is 3 guys who mainly talk about things between themselves. At first I got the impression they thought they were smarter than they really were, but as I've listened they all play off each other very well, and usually at least 1 of them will know a lot on a topic, plus they generally prepare well for the podcast episodes.
One of them, Professor Doctor Luke 'Gallin' [sic] is into psychology and has some interesting insights, which I enjoy as neuroscience is quickly becoming a bane to religion. Topics include the relation of Darwin to Hitler's eugenics, a discussion on unintelligible gods, creationism versus psychology, and then Doc. Luke giving a presentation on 2 studies into the profiles of the godless.
Anyone interested in atheism or skepticism should check this one out. Unlike Apologia where they try to get both sides, and unlike Point of Inquiry where they interview authors, this podcast tackles ideas and issues from an atheistic point of view, usually with good research, funny sayings, and good food for thought. I listen to a few of these a week.
That's the main podcasts I have that have atheist undertones, or skeptic ideas. TED and FORA are not atheistic, per se, but a lot of these 'smart' people are not believers, or accept the evolutionary theory in the least. I hope you guys and gals who read this find a new podcast to listen to and enjoy it ... thanks to me. Happy hunting!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Utah is great. I was at a reception with some fellow postmos and I started saying 'i'm an atheist' out loud. Then, 'oooo, i'm an infidel', to the point that some people in the group tried to get away from me cause there were people all around us, including missionary couples. Honestly it was fun, and the reception was cute, adorable.
Before I head to bed I wanted to post a thought. Especially at BYU there are a lot of people, and a wide range of characters. This means that the literal high school groupings becomes apparent. There are jocks, preps, 'scanks,' druggies (though deeply hidden), religious fanatics (though far more now than in high school) and the slew of other people. So, for the area, there are 'kewl' kids ... or so Mormons like to think.
See, some of these supposed 'kewl ppl' are really not cool at all, especially in the real world. But first let me explain that I am not necessarily 'cool.' In fact, I am pretty fu***** weird and dorky sometimes, but at least I know a cool person when I meet one. And here's the truth, there's a lot of Mormons who think they are cool, but aren't.
Example - sitting, talking with a friend, and a car goes by. Guys and girls in the car, full, girl runs out, and they have some old 80s pop song on with a female vocalist, and the guy driving is singing at the top of his lungs, and isn't bad sounding. As they drive by to park on the side of the road to wait for the girl, the driver is hanging out the window, singing at my parked car with this over-expressed look on his face, and drives by. They continue the same music and singing for several minutes till the girl comes back, then he burns rubber leaving the road.
Now, I can see myself doing that, with the right group of friends and under the right circumstances, maybe after a couple drinks I could do it anytime, but normally I wouldn't make such an @$$ of myself. Also, obviously they were having fun, and that's not the point. The point is this: here, in Provo, people think that's cool. They do! Girls and guys are like, ''boy, i wish i could have fun like that.''
I'm like, "making an ass out of yourself? acting like a fu***** retard?" (sorry for my political incorrectness, but i am quoting myself). It bothers me that girls here love the guy who can 'sorta' sing to 80s pop, reads his scriptures everyday, and can give sermons on why R-rated movies corrupt todays youth. It bothers me that the guy can be driving his car, singing to some shitty music with only a so-so voice, and think he's being just as cool, or cooler, than any other guy at any other college. By the way, one of the girls he hometeaches was sick last week ... and he gave her a blessing too. Total stud, right!?!?!
I'm not saying they don't have good qualities, or that they can't be fun people to hang out with, but to say they are 'cool' and for Mormon culture to keep this idolization going, thinking it IS cool to act this way, it's just sick.
And don't even get me started on the bulk of the girls here at BYU.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Disclaimer - this is a random post about sex. I don't know how to classify it beyond that, I go from talking about asking a girl if you can cum on her to telling my bishop I've entered through the backdoor. Have fun.)
Okay, so everyone is writing about past loves, and sex, and cumming, and sex, and I feel obligated to make a post around the same topic as well.
And boy am I excited.
(let me ramble along here, this will be a long one ... that's what she said) I love sex. Not specifically intercourse, but 'sex' in general. I've always been interested in it, I've always been fascinated by the female body, and unlike a lot of things you look forward to in life, having a girl make me cum lived up to the expectations.
On that, making a girl cum is just about as good, at least to me. I can still remember the first time I did it to a girl, the look on her face; that cute, almost painful, deep-pleasure smirk of a look. Satisfying to no end.
Which, relating to God, and religion, and Mormonism, I reached a major crossroads in my life. If there is any part of me that wishes to justify sin then it would probably be sex. The first time I made a girl cum I was beyond excited, I was ecstatic! Elated! Cloud nine. I got into my truck and drove home, my fingers still tingling. Course my Mormon upbringing, as many of you know, said that I was close to a murderer but surprisingly that never weighed on me too much. It did weigh on me though, but I was just too excited by the whole thing. It felt so 'right' so 'good.' By the time me and my most serious gf were around the legendary bases of the baseball field and started getting into all kinds of kinky sh** - that's when I started to 'feel bad.'
See, I like the experience. I do things just to do them ... sometimes. If the girl doesn't mind using alternative entry points then I'm all for it. Toys? I have real handcuffs! And I love the sex dice you can buy, where ones is locations around the house, or outside, and the other one is where to stick it or what to do. Locations to, in a vehicle, in the woods, in a tent, in bed, on a couch, people home, in a restaurant. Some girls are cock-teases, I guess I'm a ... what, a vagina-clitoris tease? I enjoy having a girl soaking wet by the end of a long date. Fair warning to any prospects, bring an extra pair of panties, or thong!
Back on topic though, kind of, getting out on the mission I truly believed for the first year and during that time I told my mission president about my sex life. Trying to repent or whatever, from something I massively enjoyed. I told him everything. Which was funny cause at one point he thought I was done. "So you did-" "Well, we also did such n such, and also we tried this twice." " ..... you what?"
Like the Whore of All the Earth Mormonism really f***** up my sex life in High School, and for half my college career. Getting back from my mission and going a year being wishy-washy agnostic I often told myself not to commit sexual sin. I would say, 'at least try to find a girl you can marry, a nice Mormon girl. doesn't even have to be a virgin.' Problem is Mormon girls are horrid. Genitalia are weird, not too pretty, but I find so many Mormon girls that think penises are gross, disgusting! I would not enjoy having a sex life with a wife like that.
Thing is I was doing it all completely wrong. I grew up out in the 'mission field' where I was the only Mormon in high school, so I dated non-Mormons, and let me tell you, most of them are far more loose than Mormon girls. Course I went for religious girls, all the same, and so after doing 69 or something we would get on our knees and say our little Mormon and Catholic prayers of forgiveness. So much unnecessary guilt and shame. So fuc*** up to.
Regret is separate from guilt and shame. That's why we have such a vast vocabulary, to try to get across the vast realm of emotions we feel. Since leaving the church I have no guilt over my past sexual experiences, little to no shame, but I do have some regret. Regret for kissing this girl, or for not kissing another one.
Nearing the end, this page http://www.totryanewsword.com/2010/07/kiss-kiss-nipple-nipple-kiss-kiss-boff.html was a fun one to read. Obviously there can be disagreement, but I was glad to find that I already think a lot of the way he puts things across here. But I do disagree on one point:
I have good stamina. So a sloppy inexperienced handjob won't do the trick. Having Mormon dry sex may put good pressure on the clitoris but really it usually just chaffs my dick. Girls, if you like to give handjobs, do it right. The guy is ALWAYS going to be better at it, so you need to learn to do it right, which may take practice. In the end, you only need to be so-so, cause just the fact that you're doing it, with your small and tender hand (or hands, at least for someone like me), adds the little extra necessary. (actually always use to hands, even if he isn't that long, you'll find things to do with the other). winkwink
Second, ladies, some guys like blowjobs, and I certainly do. If you haven't given yet, then try it. But if you don't care for it, then put that across. However, if any girl likes having a guy go down on her she is obligated to return the favor, at least partially in my mind. I'm all for equality and in the sexual realm I don't allow ambivalent sexism.
Guys, do slow down. Nothing wrong ravishing quickly, but if you're gonna do that, then don't cum together, get her first, or twice, then go at it. Draw out the experience. Quickies are fine if that's what you both are looking for. I do agree though, majorly, on one point. As I said, I like to make girls cum, it's like a power rush and it seems like such a nice thing to do for the lady. But I've seen this in past relationships and I need to say it - girls, I know guys can be messy, but don't send us home with blue balls. Take a moment out of your ecstasy and make the guy cum. Especially if you're tired and want to go to bed, faster you get him off the faster he falls asleep. I don't want to get into the chemistry, but guys' brains are wired so that they get a surge of neurotransmitters that make'em tired after orgasm. Very convenient in some cases.
And what is a better time to fall asleep than right then, right?
One little note to put across cause I want to put cumshots on my labels - guys, don't expect to just do it. Lot's of girls do NOT want your jizz on them. Even if they're titty-f******* you. Make clear your intentions before you spray your load or else you may have one very upset girl on your hands, or under you. This is from experience, BUT I asked beforehand so it went well. Follow my lead on this one. I'm obviously not the most experienced person (i mean, i grew up Mormon), but I do know some things.
Guys, be classy, girls, stay sexy. And don't let Mormonism or religion mutilate your sex life as it does kids genitals.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Being away from all my things I will probably only make a couple more posts this week, but I want to add another thought to today's post.
I've already done my little dissertation on how Mormon's view atheists in the BoM, but I want to take it into a more present realm of the church. See, it's all fine and dandy to point out that the BoM has no atheists in it, and that Mormons probably derive understanding of atheists from the BoM, but I want to go back and state my view in a more concrete way.
Mormons have three views of atheists:
They are trying to justify sin
They are depressed and think there is no God but this is because they are sad
They are angry at God for some reason
Any honest member will know that some people don't believe in gods, but I find most literally think in one of these three ways.
First: Justifying sin
Mr. Sitggley, at one point in the last class, was talking about apostates and how a general authority asked a group of them what commandment they didn't want to live. This was as if they left the church so they could trick themselves into thinking they could live without one of the commandments of the LDS church. Mr. Stiggley continued, saying that most apostates and atheists have alterior motives for leaving.
This is the same for a lot of people. A non-member friend of mine brought up some teasing that was aimed at stereotypes of atheists, such as if I had any morals anymore, or that I just wanted to party. All in good fun, but Christians in particular have a notion that atheists just don't even exist.
Second: Atheists are usually depressed
Completely untrue for one, I will soon put up a post on my podcasts and videos I regularly watch, about half of which are atheistic in nature. In one of these I will give a reference to a good podcast that profiles the whole non-religious group on an international scale. In this it points out, statistically speaking, that church goers are not any happier than atheists, though both are happier than self-proclaimed agnostics.
There can be many reasons for this. People who believe but are losing faith may call themselves agnostic, but are really theistic. They feel bad for lacking faith, and wonder if they are 'good people.' I think anyone in this position would be mildly distraught in the least. And often this is what Mormons see.
Last year, when I was wishy-washy floaty agnostic I was back and forth and got depressed a couple times. I talked with a person about this and she mentioned her brother was clinically depressed and thought there might not be a god. In her words, he was an atheist sometimes. The conclusion? She thought, and many Mormons do, that Satan makes people depressed and then helps them to lose faith and belief in God. Depression and atheism are intertwined. Unfortunately, a couple weeks later I did get depressed, over something else entirely, but it probably didn't help her worldview.
My conclusion? I haven't spoken of my atheism, or why I am an (agnostic) atheist but when I finally took the 'big step' over about 6 months ago I felt such a release and a flood of new things to enjoy. These last 6 months have seriously been some of the happiest months of my life. Not that I didn't have low points as I lost my faith, but the other side IS greener.
Third: Atheists really just hate God
Ridiculous notion as it's a paradox for one, but this is another one of those 'no real atheists' statements, and Mormonism loves it. This goes all the way back to Cain who knows there's a God but hates him and works for the devil, pretending to be sasquatch or Big Foot up in the Rocky Mountains. Okay, this is Mormon folklore, but I've met people who believe the apostle who said Big Foot is Cain. Course, my retort was to ask how Cain survived the flood, but that's assuming ANY of the story is true and thus defeats itself.
I have not yet had anyone confront me on this, I certainly have reasons to be angry with God if he was real, and sometimes, if frustrated with life, I wish he was so I could call him a f***** prick, but so far I have never submitted myself to momentary belief in a non-existent being just to feel like I'm yelling at someone.
With this off my chest I am ready for bed. I hope fellow postmos and even members who stumble on this notice what I'm talking about. The Mormon view on atheism is childish and ignorant. It's a lie that leaders in the church keep pushing. Sometimes they will allow for a fourth category - atheists are Satanists - but I think that's just because they realize that some of the atheists are being sincere but just can't believe they can be good people at the same time.
Some people really do NOT believe in gods. Actually most don't, but some people just go one more god further than the rest.
This post might be a smorgasbord of random things, but maybe that's okay.
First let me mention that I had a couple drinks. Hopefully I don't get expelled over this, but a Tequila Sunrise is pretty damn good and I am happy I tried it. Looking back I think I was mainly just tired and should drink when I have more than 4 hours of sleep next time. For now though I think I'll try to be as good as possible so I don't get expelled and can last till Winter semester when I hope I can transfer to the UofU. Prayers and best wishes everyone!
So I went to church today. I don't think I've brought it up here but my parents do not know of my 'situation.' Nor do I plan on telling them any time soon, though I wish they knew. See, there is plenty of family drama centered around age-related things with them and I don't think it would be considerate to them to add the weight of my lack of faith. Who knew a lack of something could weigh so much on a person's mind?
I feel a desire to tell them, to have it in the open, but I know it would break their hearts. So with everything else going on in their lives, I will wait, and may wait indefinitely. Course, if I get married sometime in the next 5 years it won't be to a Mormon girl, and therefore not in the temple, so they will probably find out sooner or later.
That all being said, I went to church with them this morning ... and it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. Besides being woken up hours before I normally rise the first part wasn't bad. Getting to the little building I was promptly asked to say the closing prayer, which instantly put me on the spot, but more on that later. First I need to talk about the youth speaker.
Nice little girl gets up and begins reading a talk that she obviously prepared mainly on her own, and good for her. The church definitely helps its members to get into public speaking and giving shy introverted people upset stomachs every Sunday around the world. Anyways, this girl gets up and starts talking about Samson from the Old Testament:
Paraphrasing: "Samson had long hair and killed a lion with his bare hands as a boy! He then married a Palestinian woman and told her a riddle. But Samson was really strong and killed people. Once he killed a bunch of guys, and then another time he killed 30 guys with a jawbone of a male donkey (i enjoyed the lack of use of 'ass' here). He collapsed whole buildings and killed himself and thousands of other people (i think 3000). Samson was very strong and cool. How can we be more like him?"
I was smiling broadly at this point at the shear ridiculousness of it all. Not only the story, but that this little girl probably had a Biblical crush on a mass murderer and womanizer and had just asked us how we could all be more like him. I wondered, at that moment, if anyone else felt the level of discomfort and humor I felt at that point. Surely someone in the room was thinking "somehow this seems wrong, and it's only compounded by the fact that it's a little girl saying this."
Eventually she closed talking about how it was all about faith. Then some guy in the area presidency gave a repeating and circular talk on the Atonement and how important it is. Later there was a lesson from Proverbs.
The lesson started off with what wisdom was, and let me tell you it is not going out and asking the learned to teach you things, or to consult science books on the workings of the universe, but it is praying to God and following the scriptures. From there we went to pride and how the wise of the world are prideful, then we went on to how we teach our children. The answer? Very simple - teach them the gospel.
Well, being smart is bad, worldly people are prideful and evil, and only teach your children from the scriptures. If that isn't a cultish, brainwashing, ignorant, and close-minded pattern of thinking then I must not know anything at all! What an amazing formula those Sunday school lesson writers got for that lesson. I can't believe more people don't notice the level of horrid thought suppression that is going on here.
However, before this, I had to pray. Walking up, only half dressed for church(i hoped a lack of proper dress would have gotten me out of these things, such as blessing the sacrament, and maybe it did, but not for prayer, i guess just about anyone can pray), i got to the podium [sic] and took a deep breath. I had thought about what to say and I decided to give a small lecture in my prayer. I thanked God for a wonderful day, like usual (i wished to blend in remember), and for the talks given. Then I asked that we all would be reminded of what's important in life: how we treat each other, the lessons of morals and ethics, our families and social experiences. That we would all find strength in ourselves to do the right things, to not abuse those around us. And then I literally forgot how to close for a moment, pausing to remember people probably thought I was receiving revelation. Then I remembered to close in the name of Jebus.
All jokes aside I meant for it to be a good prayer, mainly to prove to myself a little more that there is no spirit guiding you on what to say. Afterwords several people thanked me on such a beautiful prayer - I must give props to my wonderful books written by atheists on ethics for inspiring me to say what I said.
Lastly, later in the afternoon I took a nap and had a bizarre dream. In the dream I was driving with a group of people I didn't know, but who were all friends of a couple friends I knew from last year at BYU. They were not in the dream, but I was under the impression I would see them there. Upon arrival we went inside and sat down in a circle of chairs. Then the truth came out! They all knew I was an atheist and were having an intervention. Cornered in my dream world I quickly explained I would not change, took the defensive, stood up, and began by asking them about the Blacks and the Priesthood. Most of them just looked around and smiled at my question. Some began giving answers on how it didn't matter. Some began attacking my character, ad homien or whatever. I think I was grinding my teeth cause in the dream my jaw kept shaking in anger, only shaking sideways, left to right.
Eventually most of them left, realizing they wouldn't change my mind. But four stayed, and one actually seemed concerned with some of the things I had been bringing up. They were only guys by this point, and one was getting angry with me and was still arguing adamantly. I soon woke up, but the dream was very strange.
That's my escapades so far. I am enjoying getting to know so many people with some of my same beliefs, or unbeliefs, in the groups I'm meeting out in Utah. Even some girls that I'm getting to know. Maybe my awesome personality and amazing looks will mesmerize one of them into taking a chance on me. Who knows, maybe it's already happening.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
If anyone gets the reference in the title I will kiss you!
So I am busy and on vacation, but I had a Tequila Sunrise last night and that was pretty damn good. I will be able to make a post in the next couple days, but like last week, next week I will be hiatus most of the time. Take care people, and if anyone from BYU is reading this, make a comment and tell me ya luv me!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
So I haven't posted in a couple days, and I'll probably not have much time to post during the next week or so either. Finals are upon me.
I have lot's of ideas for posts, but right now I'm too tired and want to do a short funny one.
The banana is an atheists' nightmare! So says creationist people anyway. I read this in a book months back, but a recent video I saw brought it back to memory. See the banana is designed for human beings. It has three ridges on one side, and two on the other, just how our fingers and thumb look when we grip the banana.
Designed to be gripped by us!
It also has color identification - green is too ripe, black is too cold, and yellow is juuuust right. Wait, black means rotting and bad ... unless you want to make banana bread.
It isn't slippery, which is good, I hate how all the other fruits in the world are so slippery. It also opens conveniently from the stem, but monkeys do it better from the other end.
Most amazing of all is that the wrapper is bio-degradable! Isn't that amazing! I hate how you have to throw out the plastic skin off apples before eating them, causes so much pollution! But to top this off is that the banana is CURVED TOWARDS OUR FACES!!!! OMG! An intelligent god must have made bananas for us humans, the world is less than 10 thousand years old, I am going to hell.
Okay, this whole thing is ridiculous, most Christians find it silly, but come on, this is great stuff.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Continuing my approach:
Example #2 - Nehor - In the beginning of Alma we meet Nehor who is a douche, and an anti-Christ, but an atheist? I don't want to spend much time on Nehor, he kills Gideon, one of the heroes from Mosiah. I mean, total douche.
So Nehor 'preached the word of God' in his own views, and started priest-crafts, which basically is Mormon for 'evangelist.' Taught that the people's sins would be removed, everyone would be saved, liked popularity, must I continue? An anti-Christ, kind of, but definitely not an atheist. What a douche though.
Example #3 - Zeezrom - who has a cool name. Alma and Amulek are preaching to the apostate but very believing Zoramites. Alma contends with him and makes him a believer, through reasonable means, and Zeezrom tries to help his friends but is thrown out of the city. Then all the converted people, men, women, and children, are burned alive, yay! This and that douche Nehor killing Gideon are my least favorite stories, er, parts of the BoM.
But I digress. Zeezrom always believed in a god. Pure and simple. All done.
Example #4 - Korihor - the only true atheist? Perhaps, cause his message is not an 'apostate' version of the gospel, or that there is no Christ, but he says that there is no Christ, no Atonement, and not even a god! Wow, an atheist! But wait ....
Korihor is brought before Alma, much like Sherem before Jacob, and they talk. However, before this he talked in front of some priests. And I will quote him:
"Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words. Ye say that this people is a free people, behold, I say they are in bondage."
Wow, sounded so evil back in the day, but now it actually sounds good, like it's Christopher Hitchens in a past life. So Korihor says this and what do the priests do? They don't know what to say, so they bind him up and throw him in prison. So much for due process and people's rights.
Eventually, he is brought before Alma, and Alma asks him to show evidence that there is no god, and rightly so Korihor can't, but I think we have some proofs today. Like Sherem Korihor then asks for a sign, and is struck dumb. Lol, very original. Right before this he had said he doesn't deny the existence of god but doesn't believe there is a god ... hmm. And then right after being struck dumb, Korihor writes this:
"I cannot speak, ...[must be the] power of God ..." and then "I always knew that there was a God."
He what? He always knew? So what was he doing denying God? I'll let you guess, but here's what he says:
"Behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel." Then the devil proceeded to tell him what to say to bring people back to the 'true' god by saying there is no god. Makes sense, right?
So poor Korihor was tricked by Satan himself. Did he receive mercy? Nope, he got stampeded and stepped on by a bunch of peasants.
Conclusion - With this small study I find no atheists. Even at destruction the Nephites still believed, they just hated god. Some anti-Christs were working right with the devil, others were trying to justify sin.
Does this seem to make sense of how Mormons look at atheists as sinful, god-hating, Satanic people? I think so. I forget if I was going to add more to this, but I think I have done my part.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Well, the first impression of the double date is that it went great! Course time will tell. Again I felt like a missionary ... for atheism!!! My friend, St. Pickle and I both like to discuss atheism and Mormonism a lot, still, and I probably will for the rest of my life. But it was really fun talking through, and explaining all the ideas and beliefs we have, and all the facts that support them. It was fun to openly discuss how we lost our faith not only in the LDS faith but also in the idea of gods in general.
We ended up talking with the two girls for 5 hours.
In fact we started at 7, and talked till 10 without even noticing we were all so involved. The Starbucks people were cleaning and sweeping and St. Pickle was like "hey, are you guys closing?" and the chick is like "yeah, at 10 in five minutes." And we're all like "WHAT? its 10?" I think that is the sign of an amazing conversation.
And it was. The two girls were very open and did have a lot of doubts. It was fun talking about our views and finding that all four of us agreed that one particular thing or another just did not sit right with us in the church.
One of my personal accomplishments was to argue, from my view, of how you say a god does not exist if that god makes specific claims about itself and then other facts, or science, prove it false. One girl is very deistic and agnostic and instantly was against my statement. Not that I 'converted' her to my idea, but when I went through the Mormon god and how it is false and how the religion has some fundamental inconsistencies I was glad that the table had a general 'agreeance' with me. I like the idea of tearing down gods.
(note: if i receive requests and eventually feel like it, i may post my personal opinionated reasons for believing that Mormonism makes enough claims about who and what god is and does and that enough of these have been proven false or inconsistent that i can say with a very much more atheistic than agnostic notion that this god does NOT exist.)
I'm hoping that we all meet up again, it ended sounding that way. I feel that I have made two more friends. But, as with the mission, you sometimes leave these people and the next day they tell you they don't want to talk to you again. I would be surprised, given how much fun I perceived us to be having, if this happened though. It was very nice to have the 5 hour conversation, listening to other opinions, being forced to clarify mine, and for having a table of people who were open to talk about these things.
I also had a dirty monkey, and I'm still not sure I like coffee.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I've decided to address the Mormon idea that atheists are not really atheists. When I told my bishop last year, a different one than now, that I was becoming an atheist he was nice and concerned and interested in meeting with me bi-weekly. Told me to come out to church, that doubt isn't uncommon (a good sign in my mind), and that it could take me a little while but I'd come back. I was truly open to having my faith renewed, and twice over the next year I sometimes felt like there could be a god afterall.
At one of those times, in the fall of 09, I told my bishop that I wanted a calling and that I felt more positive about God's existence. His remark was to give me whatever calling I wanted and he was happy I was coming back. But then, at the end of the meeting as I was leaving, he told me to come back soon. He mentioned, on the side, that people often leave the church for sinful reasons and need to repent, and if I needed to talk to him he would welcome it.
I think this is what probably started me back off the path. See, last year I had doubts but I also was still indoctrinated and didn't wish to become an 'Alma the younger' and fall away and then later feel bad and go to hell for three days. So I stayed pretty upright. I also hadn't left for any sinful reasons. For the bishop, who's an awesome guy but really fell into the normal Mormon way of dealing with atheists, to say that to me just offset me enough to begin to notice how the church views atheists in general. Much like how my current bishop, after asking about my unbelief, his second question was on my worthiness (though in relation to my ecc. endorsement).
I will approach this in a mock-scientific way, a hypothesis, if you will. I'm betting that I can go through the BoM with all the anti-Christ, and atheist characters, and that I will find not a single one truly denied god's existence. Each one will probably have done what they did because they wanted to be sinful, lied about Christ, and later admitted to believing in god. I may be wrong, I'm saying this off the top of my head. I don't think Nehor ever 'repented' but I think he believed in a god, just one that allowed sin. We shall soon see though.
I think there are 3 or 4 figures in the BoM that are anti-Christs. And I think the church takes its view of atheists from these. I will start with one example now and resume later.
Example Number 1 - Sherem, in Jacob 7. An anti-Christ (he denied the coming Christ) he was supposedly very good with words and flattery. In fact, he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people, so I guess he knew every word and all the meanings to those words? He was also very 'learned' which is a bad thing in the LDS church.
So Jacob meets with Sherem, I'm guessing it wasn't too difficult cause even after 60 years about 20-40 people wouldn't have been grown that much. So Jacob tells him he is leading people away, and that Sherem speaks blasphemy, and this confounds Sherem, for whatever reason since I'm sure other people would have said similar things to him before.
But the point is reached here: Jacob asks if he believe in the scriptures and Sherem says he does. So he believes in scriptures? Then Sherem is like, 'show me a sign' and Jacob says 'okay', and Sherem collapses right there and then calls the people to his bedside later. He tells them he was deceived by the devil and that he always believed in the coming Jesus. So, an almost atheist who did bad things cause he wanted to or was tricked by Satan, but certainly not an atheist.
Also, the answer to this problem is surprisingly simple. For the people who had followed Sherem, much like a cult I'm sure, they felt bad but searched the scriptures and got better. So reading the scriptures is the answer. Actually, fasting, praying, and reading the scriptures always seem to be the answer for everything in the LDS church. How do you become godlike? Do these 3 things. How do you gain more talents? Well, use them, but also do these 3 things. How do we get blessings? Do these three things. Over and over. Read a book that you are told is true, pray as if you're talking to someone (would prayer be as easy if your eyes were open and you saw that the room was empty?), and stop eating for a while and ask for something from god for your suffering (which is a psychological effect of 'if I made myself go through with this it MUST mean something).
Times up for now, let's see how the double-date goes.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
This Jesus is dope!
Music is great, I love music. I've played piano, like many Mormons, for many years and took years of lessons (unlike many Mormons who start but stop). In fact, this is one thing that I owe to the church on some level. What inspired me to ask to learn piano was a missionary playing a solo at church, for a baptism I think, and it was amazing and I told my parents I wanted to learn.
So I learned piano, among other things, but I didn't get into collecting music till junior high, I think a lot of people are like this though. Since then I've spent a fair amount of money on music. Sheet music, soundtracks, cds, itunes, ipods, etc.... Music is great.
And I still find religious music to be inviting. Hallelujah, by Jeff Buckley (out of many versions) is a great rendition. Has some religious overtones but I love the minor chord progression. I actually got the piano music for it and have embellished my own version. Done this with hymns too. I've been told I can put across emotion real well. To make my personal version of the hymns more bitter-sweet and heart wrenching I just think about all the people who have wasted their lives away in religion and its lies.
I don't know what made me want to talk about music. On itunes i have weeks worth of music, and I basically have it running non-stop. I may need a new stereo system. One of the speakers in my car has the bass blown out so it 'buzzes', annoying the hell out of me. Music is an integral part of my life. And with Christopher Hitchens, surprisingly, I believe religion has given us at least one good thing (as in some of the amazing religious tunes and ideas in music).
On the other hand though, and for this blog I arrive at my coda, religion has also brought us some of the most horrible pieces of musical work ever. Some hymns are the sh**iest things I have ever seen (since I've almost always played hymns I don't relate well to singing hymns). Being at Lutheran and Catholic worship with their little 10-second hymn diddies seem strange. Listening to priest, listening to priest, oop, sing a line, organ blasts for 5 seconds, back to listening to priest. Me = what the hell just happened? how did everyone know what to say? am i still wearing my clothes?
Some Mormon hymns should never have been written. And I mean words for some, music for others. I'm sure when the church was putting together hymnbooks and revamping them later, that people were like, ''hey, we need more hymns," and someone was like "oh hey, let me just write one up right now." Sure would explain things.
Though some hymns are good, Be Still My Soul is a nice piece of work, Praise to the Man is upbeat, and I still really enjoy The Spirit of God as long as the fricken piano player plays it fast. Which, since I haven't gone to church in months I don't see how this matters much anymore. Some have interesting words, like Hie to Kolob, for obvious reasons. Or Eliza Roxy Snows hymns. I think I still have a crush on her historical figure.
But hymns like 'God Moves in Mysterious Ways?" I mean, it just sounds like it's gonna suck.
"My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require." - Edward Elgar
Got to my Doctrine and Covenants class today, which was all fun and dandy. Had a quiz, 5 questions, didn't know the answer to one question and I got a third of the points wrong ... in the words of one enjoyably creepy and philosophical bounty hunter, "Does that seem fair to you?"
My teacher in that class, Mr. Chingchang we'll call him, is a sweet guy. He's completely indoctrinated in the church, talks about food storage, and goes off on tangents about all the amazingly ridiculous things that will happen at the second coming, but I love the guy, he's great. For one, he tells us every single question that will be on his exams. He also tries to polite to people of other faiths. Though, like Mr. Stiggley, he is not very accepting of non-believers and atheists and has commented on our evil nature. I think the universal perceptive Mormons have for atheists speaks of the dogmatism within the church.
So my classes have tons of exams and I still have one more to do before finals. I decided to leave his class half an hour early to get out of there, and to study some extra for the exams I have. But then right at the moment I was about to leave he started going on about a Brigham Young quote, always enjoyable. It was about not agreeing with something. Brigham Young, when faced with DC 76 that talks about the three degrees of glory and how hell is not a permanent place (aka, Plan of Salvation) didn't accept it right away, and wrote his feelings down. But the message was this:
'When faced with something new, don't reject it even if you don't understand it or agree with it. Think and pray and wait until you get the correct answer.' This reminded me of a talk I had with some elders in my ward. They asked me to read my scriptures and pray and wait till I got my answer, even if it took a month. Then I told them that the whole notion is silly. How am I suppose to get any answer EXCEPT a positive answer? The whole process only leads to getting a 'yes this is true' answer, through feeling good at the right time. I watch a funny movie, read my scriptures, still high on endorphins, I pray and feel good. Must be true! In this way there is no room for a negative answer, God won't say "I do not exist." And no answer just means you need to keep going. It feeds off itself.
But, back to class, what really kept me was right after this Mr. Chingchang asked, "what are some issues in the church that people do not always agree with?"
OOOOOO, exciting. Students start shouting out 'blacks and the priesthood, prop 8, gays (most don't even know what LGBT stands for), women and the priesthood, women giving blessings in church history, feminism (which is always said tongue-in-cheek as if feminism is so ridiculous Mormons wonder why it even exists), rated AARRRR movies, food storage, patriarchal society, and finally plural marriage. Sadly we didn't really talk about these, we just brought them up, but I listed them and wrote my thoughts next to them, and the girl next to tensed up when I caught her reading them.
Which brings me to another things Mormons do with church history. Plural marriage, polygamy, and it wasn't just multiple wives, some women got married to more than one man, but I only know of Joseph Smith doing this. But whenever the topic is brought up with Brigham Young the professor or some random guy, never a girl, brings up how Brigham Young didn't like polygamy. This was brought up after we read his comments on dc 76, how B.Y. didn't want to be polygamous. He didn't like the idea, I think he said he would rather die.
Okay, Brigham Young said he would rather die? So when having more than one wive he was like, ''nnoooooo, kill me!" but after having 20 wives he was like, "oh, i want 20 more!" Sure, it is possible, but seriously, we're supposed to be like, 'oh poor B.Y.' when he was first asked? I say, "oh, poor B.Y." when he had over 40 wives, cause I know that all the women were not happy.
And then second, what are we supposed to gain from them saying this? Oh, B.Y. didn't really want to, he was the type of guy that didn't want several sleeping buddies, he was a decent guy that thought one wife was good. Or, are we supposed to say B.Y. doubted God and the prophet and that was a good thing? That he thought polygamy was crazy and didn't want to be a part of it, but eventually did and got even more wives than his old buddy Joseph Smith? Maybe this one, "Brigham was a good guy cause when he first heard this he said no." Maybe that's what we are supposed to take from this.
PHEW, that's it for now. Whenever I start posting lots of ideas come to mind and once I get going I forget half of what I was going to say.