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Spiritual Rape's LiveJournal:
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|Tuesday, November 1st, 2011|
|Sparkling Fake Fruit
Not long after I got old enough to be part of the LDS church’s Young Women’s program, I remember a surreal experience that happened. They brought us all to one of the YW leader’s homes for a very special activity. When we entered, the house was dark. Smoke machines were running, all adding to the eerie experience as we walked along. I recall we were all told to hold onto a string as we made our way though the darkness and we followed with our hands loosely grasped on the string. We saw some scenes illuminated that told us the story we all knew well already of Lehi’s "tree of life" vision from the Book of Mormon.
We girls made our way along the path, holding to the string, going through the mist and darkness. We passed a representation of the "great and spacious building" full of prideful people of the world. We continued on until we came to a depiction of the "tree of life" at the end of our string path. We were invited to each take a piece of fruit from this tree and we each did. The fruit was a precious prize to me. It was fake, a plastic pear-shaped piece of fruit smothered in glitter. I remember loving the way it smelled. It made my mouth water, even though it didn’t smell like fruit but like glitter or tinsel. I still had a strange, pleasant reaction when I smell that weird tinsel smell that seems most prevalent around Christmas. It is a strange feeling and my mouth still waters a little bit when I smell it. I still have that piece of fruit somewhere in a box of keepsakes.
It was a symbol, then and now. Back then, it symbolized the goal we LDS young women were all supposed to be striving for. The journey to walk that straight and narrow path of trial and tribulation, holding fast to the "iron rod," the gospel, and coming at last to our celestial reward. It was beautiful and sparkling and we wanted it. But in reality, that piece of fruit was a vague symbol. In my young mind it was whatever I wanted most. It was this vague happiness. The fake sparkling fruit was displayed on my dresser for a long time as I was growing up. It was my vague, beautiful, goal of celestial glory and happiness.
But the symbol of it now is a different one. Beneath the glitter, the smell, the symbol, there is still a fake plastic piece of fruit. While a real pear would nourish a hungry stomach this fake fruit gives no real nourishment. It looks pretty and it sparkles. But like the fakeness of the fruit, the promise of the symbol was ultimately fake as well. The goal, however pleasant to think of, isn’t any more real than that that plastic pear. It sparkles but it does not truly nourish.
|Monday, April 12th, 2010|
|The Hostage Situation
Someone you love has gone missing. Perhaps a child, sibling, parent, spouse, or friend. You are desperate to be reunited with them but it seems hopeless. Suddenly, a stranger contacts you with what sounds like good news. They know where your loved one is and can reunite you with that person! The thing is, they want something in return.
They can't prove they have access to the person. No evidence can be given. You can't speak to them on the phone or see a photo of them holding today's newspaper. All you have is this stranger's word. And, in your desperation, you ask what it will take to get your loved one back. What does this stranger want from you?
First, they want money. But not all of it up front. You will have to continuously make payments. 10% of everything you earn for the rest of your life. In addition to this, they also have a list of rules they want you to obey. Some of these rules are sensible but others are ridiculous. There are certain rituals you must preform and a great deal of time you will need to invest. They will be checking up on you and making sure that you are following the rules and making your payments. They say if you do these things you will get your loved one back. But not until after you are dead.
This will also act as an insurance policy for the future loss of loved ones but there are complications. Not only do you have to follow the rules and pay but so do your other family members and friends. If they don't start paying the ransom as well you might all end up separated from each other forever.
Some nicely dressed young men might show up to your door to happily tell you all about the ransom you need to pay for you dead loved ones and the important insurance policy that you and all of your friends must invest in to make sure you can see each other again in the next life. There is no solid proof they can give but, they say, that doesn't matter. The important thing is that you feel that they might be telling you the truth. As long as you feel some hopeful feeling about it, it must be true. Don't you want to see your loved ones again?
And however manipulative it is, however little proof you really have, maybe in your desperation, missing someone you love and wanting more than anything to see them again, you begin paying a ransom that will never end. You will pass it on to your children and as many others as you can convince to pay and hope that it will somehow be enough to insure you get to be with your loved ones again.
When someone you care about dies it is a devastating thing. The LDS church teaches that you can be with your family again in the next life but only if you live a faithful mormon life which includes a 10% tithe, participating in various rituals, and following a list of other demands. Families can be together forever ...if they all pay the ransom. What kind of church or god would place a ransom on the ones you love?
|Saturday, March 1st, 2008|
|Hymns and Friends
So it has been a long time! I guess I haven't felt the need to write for a while.
I was thinking about hymns and primary songs and how they still pop into my head so often. The brilliant little chants that have been scratched deeply into my brain. I haven't been to church for years now but they still come floating in so easily and reminding me to follow the prophet or hope they call me on a mission or so many other hypnotic little phrases. What an excellent tool they are to implant ideas in heads in a catchy and unforgettable way.
But the real reason I wanted to write was some very good news. Some people very close to me recently revealed to me that they no longer believe the church is true. I was surprised and happy to hear about their journey out and I am proud of them. They have a lot of hard times ahead but I know they will make it though. They have decided to keep the news secret from a lot of people at this point because it would cause so many problems for them. Indeed, they are in a really tough spot with that. I wish they could be themselves and have their families be proud of them but in this case they have to keep up appearances and lie to keep the peace.
I think about how lucky I am that I was able to pretty much rust rip the bandaid off with my family. It wasn't fun or easy and it still hurts. My family is very devout but my parents are more open minded than some, even though I have encountered nightmares with them and I know they are upset and they still are hanging on to the hope that I will come back to the fold. but I haven't been disowned. I haven't been though a lot of the hellish things that many exmormons have had to face. They do still love me. My husband was a convert so when we left his family didn't have any problem with it. it hardly mattered to them at all that we were turning away from mormonism. I know it was hard for them having their son convert but they have never seemed to let it change things. Even when they couldn't go to our wedding. They had to sit outside and wait as their son went though the secret temple ceremonies. They had to feel rejected and alone as they were surrounded by strange people who seemed to speak another language. They were amazing in how well they handled it all.
But these people who are close to me have time bombs on both sides. Both from such devout families. The kind of attitude that they would rather die than see their children leave the one true church. That manipulative attitude has left them in fear or revealing themselves to the people who should love them most unconditionally. The church is more important than anything and leaving it is pretty much unforgivable. In this way I have seen how the church strains relationships and, the church that so strongly preaches family, breaks them apart.
So the exmormons have their dilemma. Should I be "out and proud" at the risk of hurting those I love or should I spare their feelings but compromise myself? I think that often there is a bit of a middle ground where things end up but it is hard to know how to balance things best. I find that even though I have told my family about my disbelief I am still "in the closet" to so many people in my life. Fear keeps me there, wondering how my relationship with others would change if they knew. I try to be honest. If someone asks me "are you mormon?" (and I live in UT and people do ask this) I will be honest and say I am not. But I find that even more often people just assume I am and I let them assume. I wonder sometimes if that is dishonest but at the same time it would seem stupid and unnecessary to make a huge deal about it to everyone just to stop them from assuming things about me. People make assumptions all the time about all sorts of things and I can't really stop that but I don't want to be dishonest. It is a strange dilemma I suppose. I feel there are a few people who I should perhaps tell but I do fear losing their friendships. I have already lost friends because of my decision to leave. But what kind of a friend are they really if they would let this destroy our friendship?
Anyway, back to the people who recently "outed" themselves to me. I wish the best for them and I love them and I will be there for them always. I am happy for them because I know that even though they have started on an excruciatingly difficult path, the rewards of truth and freedom and growth will be great ones. Current Mood: pensive
|Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007|
It's been a while, but just something of note:
On monday and tuesday PBS aired a special about mormons. It is 4 hours long and can be viewed online at this site.
I am still finishing up the last few parts of it myself but I am prepared to say that it seems to be a good look at mormonism. I would call it pretty non-biased and it is informative for people who have very little experience with mormonism or a lot. I got some interesting things out of it even though I spent most of my life in the church and have studied it extensively. It is interesting and worth a watch if mormonism interests you.
The web site also has a wealth of information about mormonism and full interviews of people talked to in the program. Interesting stuff. Or maybe boring. whichever. =) Current Mood: chipper
|Tuesday, August 15th, 2006|
|If you don't believe in it you can't quote it?
It has been a while. It isn't that I don't have things to post but I've been busy and less interested in the church than I was. I think that is a good sign of recovery.
I wanted to post some things from a conversation I am having with a mormon. He is very unusual because though he claims to be LDS he seems to believe that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were fallen prophets.
The best part, though, is probably trying to explain to him that I can quote someone and not believe what they say to be true. He seems to have trouble grasping this. It's the argument of "you are an ex-mormon so you cannot quote mormon leaders because you don't believe in the church!" Excerpts of the conversation follow.( conversation with a strange mormonCollapse ) Current Mood: amused
|Friday, May 5th, 2006|
|Isn't it about...the church?
A few things to post. It has been a while. Actually, I have a lot of stuff to post but I haven't organized it or anything so it is a slow process to get it ready to post here. What is the Most Important thing in the Mormon church?
You've seen the ads, "Family, isn't it about... time?"
Is family the most important thing in the LDS church? the answer is kinda yes but mostly no.
When it boils down to it the most important thing in the church is this: The Church.
I was raised by righteous mormon parents who fulfilled their callings. My mom even got the honor of being relief society president. It was upsetting the way she was taken advantage of to do "the lord's work". She was constantly running around having to put every lady in the ward before herself or her family. She did it all and gave everything. Every needy troubled lady was suddenly her responsibility. My mom gives like crazy. she does her best to serve everyone and make everyone happy and this was the perfect thing to keep her horribly busy. As a good mormon woman her needs come last. Mormon women are taught to be these martyrs bleeding themselves dry for everyone but themselves. It isn't surprising how bad the depression is among them.
When you can't think of yourself or make yourself happy, when you are not good enough and will never be good enough, when you are forever living to be the "perfect" wife, mother, mormon, I can't blame these poor ladies for finding a little happiness from a bottle of Prozac. how else can they live?
Meanwhile, the man is the provider, the head of the home. If his wife or children are failing spiritually he is to blame. But he is kept busy with his callings. He often spends Saturdays helping people move. He is called up by the bishop to help with whatever needs doing. He works hard to support the children that he and his wife probably started having immediately after getting married, being the righteous mormons they are.
Visiting teaching and home teaching each month. Callings that keep you busy throughout the week. Just being a good mormon is tough and the most important thing is raising your children to be good mormons too. How do you show them how to be obedient mormons? You put the church first. You obey the church. You accept the callings. You bring the casseroles. you force them to go to seminary and EFY and youth activities. The little family time you have is centered around the church. Read the scriptures. family prayer. FHE lessons. Spending a Saturday cleaning the church. Going to Young Women achievement nights. Mormon life is all about the church. The most "family oriented" thing about the church is doing all you can to raise up the next generation of righteous tithe payers prepared to give their all to the church. And if you raised them right they will raise up another righteous generation of mormons prepared to give the church everything. The church owns their time, their money, their lives. Yeah. It's all about family... Current Mood: hungry
|Sunday, March 26th, 2006|
|burning in the bosom
Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
This is called "Moroni's Promise" and is a scripture mormons memorize and repeat often to non-mormons when telling them about the gospel and giving them a copy of the Book of Mormon. The testimony, the faith, the knowledge that mormons have that their church is the one true church upon the face of the earth is based in this scripture. It works like this:
1. read the book of mormon
2. pray about it
3. the holy ghost gives you a happy feeling mormons call a "burning in the bosom" and you know the church is true and get baptized!
For people who are born mormon it tends to be more of growing up assuming it is true because you've just been told that since you were a little child over and over and your parents know it is true and they wouldn't lie to you! hopefully eventually you stop weaning from your parent's testimonies and use Moroni's Promise for yourself and of course the result will be that you will have a happy feeling and know that it is true and be a good righteous mormon.
If you do not receive a burning in your bosom mormons will say
-"you need to wait for god's answer. he answers in his own time."
-"you aren't listening for it enough/you have to try harder to hear the answer."
-"you aren't righteous enough/you need to be a better mormon before god will tell you that it is true!"
Sometimes if you fail to have the "burning in the bosom" you will be asked something like "well, did you have a bad feeling? If you didn't have a bad feeling the absence of a feeling means it is true. you didn't have a bad feeling so that was god's way of telling you it's true!"
If you prayed and had a bad feeling or a feeling that it wasn't true or just any feeling contrary to the answer that the church is true, well, that's just not possible! if you tell a mormon they will probably say something like this:
-"it was a feeling from Satan that you thought was a feeling from the holy ghost/god!" (wow, how can you tell who your feelings are from then? maybe Satan told you it was true and god gave me the real answer and said it was false.)
-"you wanted it to not be true so you already had your mind made up and it didn't matter what the answer really was." (I could say the same for having your mind made up already that it is true. I think the way mormons take on Moroni's Promise pretty much shows that they already have their mind made up and are just looking for a happy feeling to confirm what they already believe.)
Why isn't it possible to have a testimony that the church isn't true? a burning in the bosom that gives you an answer other than the "It's true!" answer? Well, since mormons know that it is, without a doubt, the one and only true church on the face of the earth, it just isn't possible that the answer could be anything contrary to that. If you try to ask a mormon something along the lines of "what if the church wasn't true?" most often you will get and answer like "It is true and I won't even think 'what if' because it's true and that's that." There really can't be a possibility in their mind that it could be untrue.
Anyway, my leaving the church came after years of serious "search, ponder, and pray." I felt uncomfortable and unhappy and scared to death in the church. I figured this must come from my doubt and me not being good enough or smart enough. It was a process of praying and begging god to give me the burning in my bosom that the church was true. Listening for that feeling and finding only emptiness. But I didn't give up and I couldn't just take nothing as being a confirmation of truth. I knew god would tell me and give me that testimony that I needed, the one Moroni had promised. I went on gaining knowledge that would help me to strengthen my testimony only to uncover more and more challenges. But however much troubling information that only made my testimony more challenged and however much researching to prove the claims false and finding them true, I still hung on waiting for an answer from god. I still believed. I couldn't even fathom not believing.
And one day the burning in my bosom came at last! but it was not what I expected. It was a feeling that the church wasn't true. A feeling of acceptance. A beautiful feeling of peace. A beautiful feeling of finally knowing. An amazing epiphany like nothing I have had before or since. The church was not true. And even though my entire world was crumbing in my hands with that realization...I felt so much peace and happiness. All of the fear I felt melted away! Because I finally knew. I guess you could say god did answer my prayers at last after so much pain and heartache and tears and pleading to him. It felt just like the feeling I was always taught would come. But it was the opposite answer. It was the most amazing epiphany ever.
Honestly, I don't really interpret it as god giving me an answer. I did not hear the voice of god or anything specifically "god-like" but the feeling was identical to what mormons describe about their bosom burnings. I think I can only really say that it was an epiphany. I guess you could interpret it as god guiding me but I think it was more like acceptance of what I already knew. I finally accepted the truth about things even though it was so hard to do. even though my "testimony" had been falling apart in the face of honest study of the church I still had not, until that point, accepted the answers in front of my face. So many times mormons say "I don't know what I would do without the church in my life! Without it I would be miserable and empty and have no reason to live. I feel sorry for people who do not have the gospel and I can see the empty and sad lives they lead because they do not have the truth in their lives!" I was scared. leaving the church was supposed to meean leaving everything behind and every possibility of true happiness. but I was already unhappy in the church.
As I grew up there were a lot of things I had trouble with about the church while I was still a good mormon but I tried to not let my personal feelings manipulate me...wait a minute! manipulate? feelings? what? If it's about having feelings that are from god why aren't my feelings meaningful when they are against the church too? Only the good feelings are talking about the church? That seems silly. In the end I think in matters of "truth" you can't really trust your feelings. What do you feel? what is making you feel that way? what does the feeling mean? you can try to interpret it yourself but with the LDS church they label those feelings for you. they tell you what you are feeling and what it means. they tell you the answer and you make your feelings conform to it. This certainly isn't how a person would successfully go about obtain knowledge of anything. Just having a feeling isn't enough to hold up to most scrutiny. in a courtroom you can tell the judge your client is innocent but if your only defense is "I just feel he is. I prayed about it and had a good feeling" that won't hold up. you will lose your case. The same can be said in almost any situation. Not that I believe there is no place for feelings or faith but if those are the things you a basing your decision on, especially important and life altering decision, it won't stand up. basically, feelings cannot be held as truth. you can feel a certain way about something and it could be true or false but your feeling isn't always going to match up. it's a feeling. Current Mood: pleased
|Saturday, February 18th, 2006|
|DNA and Mormonism article in the LA Times
I wanted to post some links, mostly just to have them here. some of you probably have already seen the article posted in the LA Times:Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted
if you haven't read it I encourage you to take a look. It's a good article.
Some further information:At Religious Tolerance siteSimon Southerton's "Why I Left" story at exmormon.org
I'd also like to say that I have read Simon Southerton's book, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church
and I highly recommend it. It's a really interesting book and goes into detail about things but isn't difficult to understand.
I'm happy to see this article in the LA Times and see this issue getting attention. People don't know about it, especially good faithful mormons. I hope it's a wake up call to at least a few people. I know for the most part it will be rejected by mormons and they will refuse to think about it or they will just make excuses to make their faith fit. I am already seeing that reaction. things about how satan changed DNA or hid evidence to trick us or that god did it to test us. things about how scientists are out to get the church. it's stupid.
When you set your mind to something like that, no matter how foolish, no one will change your mind. no fact, no evidence, nothing. It's up to you to be willing to be open to the fact that your faith might not be the "one true" one. that your faith is just faith and not fact. Especially when the facts don't fit.
For me being able to admit the church wasn't true and leave it had two parts, and one had to come first. firstly I found the information. I had the information but I would not accept it. It couldn't be true. I couldn't move on until the second part finally came...the willingness to admit that maybe the church wasn't true. Being open to the possibility that it wasn't. And once I got over my stubbornness and my fear I could take all that information and finally apply it. use it. build with it new knowledge. You can't build anything until you have a spot to build on. I think that is the hardest but most important part: acceptance. and once you can accept and be open-minded you can begin to learn new things, even if they conflict with old beliefs. Current Mood: impressed
|Saturday, February 4th, 2006|
|Thursday, January 26th, 2006|
|OCD and "the spirit"
I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
. I don't have it all that severely but it does cause some problems.
For a little while now I have been thinking about OCD and my experience with the LDS church. Since leaving the church I have slowly managed to lower my dosage of Zoloft (which I have taken for a long time mostly to help with the OCD) and I seem to be doing quite a bit better. I don't necessarily expect that I will ever be cured of my OCD but leaving the church has actually helped it. The mormon church was exploiting my OCD. Both OCD and the LDS church are enveloped in unhealthy "superstitions" that controlled my life.
LDS believe in what they call "promptings," that is, the holy ghost speaks to them. Like if an LDS person is driving and suddenly they feel like they should slow down and then they see a policeman...the story could be like "I was prompted by the spirit to slow down and I avoided a speeding ticket because I listened to the spirit!" or even "I got a speeding ticket today because I didn't listen when the spirit prompted me to slow down." Sometime the things are really trivial and sometimes they are bigger or more important. Basically any feeling about something, rational or irrational, could potentially be a prompting from the holy ghost. LDS feel it is important to listen to the promptings of the spirit. If the spirit prompted me to check if my door was locked and I obeyed that prompting I might never know what could have happened if I had not obeyed but I must obey the spirit to avoid something terrible from potentially happening.
When I, a sufferer of OCD, felt the need to check the lock on the door over and over to make sure it was locked, I often wasn't sure if this was my OCD or a prompting of the spirit. to me it felt the same. My strange little rituals took on another level. the feeling of needing to check a lock or do something a certain way might be the spirit. I had to listen to it. Many destructive OCD behaviors could be even more crucial to me because the spirit might be speaking to me. I might be actually being prompted by the holy ghost. In this way my OCD was exploited and worsened. I can't and don't blame the church for my OCD but I think it made it worse and reinforced my behavior.
It is amazing now how I do feel more power over my OCD with the LDS church and it's "promptings" out of the way. If I feel I need to check that the door is locked, even though I know it is, I can think to myself "It's only the OCD. I don't have to listen to it." instead of thinking "maybe this is a prompting from the holy ghost and if I don't do it something terrible could happen!" I have more control and I feel better. I still have some feelings that eat at me, telling me to do things, but it isn't as hard to reject them as before. The "spirit" is no longer involved. I can look at it more realistically instead of having to worry that some magical messenger from god is trying to tell me something. Current Mood: thankful
|Friday, December 16th, 2005|
|Thursday, December 15th, 2005|
|Infallibility of the Prophet
What does it mean to be a "prophet, seer, and revelator?"
That is the title given to the current prophet of the mormon church, Gordon B. Hinckley, as well as the other prophets before and after him. Prophet, seer, and revelator.
Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
the title of prophet, seer, and revelator holds quite a power, supposedly.
Mosiah 8:16 "And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God."
Here we learn that basically the prophet has the greatest gift upon the earth, second only to god! that sounds like more than just a normal man. And that also comes with more trust and less fallibility than any normal guy. a man so close with the lord could not lead his people astray. in fact we have been given this guarantee:"The Lord will never permit me nor any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty."
(Wilford Woodruff, Oct 6, 1890 Conference)
Further assurance can be found from other quotes of past mormons prophets like this one from the second prophet, Brigham Young:"The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth."
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 9, p. 289, 1862.)
The prophets have explained to us that they cannot lead us astray. if they did god would destroy them! that is a huge guarantee that you can't go wrong if you are following what the prophet says. Obedience to your leaders is a big deal all though the mormon food chain. Your father, your bishop, your apostles, your prophet, and everyone in between. But at the very top there is god's right hand man, the prophet. god's mouthpiece and guide to us simple mortals on earth.
This talk should remove any doubt about how mormons view, and are supposed to view, their prophets. (I will add some emphasis on some of the most interesting parts)( Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the ProphetCollapse ) Current Mood: calm
|Thursday, October 27th, 2005|
|It's been a while...
It's been a while since I last wrote, but I can't say that's a bad thing. I slowly feel more free from mormonism and it's control over me to the point where I don't obsesses over research as much. I think it is both good and bad. It feels good to work this out but maybe not writing so often means I am making progress. It comes and goes. At any rate, I wrote a little something so I figured I'd post it. I actually have a backlog of posts I wanted to make but didn't feel up to it. someday I will.
The interaction of mormons and exmormons or "anti-mormons" is fascinating. Mormons are still trapped at one side of things, but exmormons have been mormons too. they can understand and look back and think "I remember...that was me once." (not that exmormons always act in a mature or understanding way but they can sympathize and know that this mormon was them at one point)Why can't mormons understand how former mormons feel? Well, I think mormons do understand pretty well, but they have to allow themselves to put themselves where the exmormons are. and that is very hard for a mormon to do because it's like they are denying the "one true church" to even think of it being wrong.
Understanding the predicament of exmormons really shouldn't be all that difficult for Mormons. A good faithful mormon loves the church and it is the focus of his or her life. They often think "what would I do without this light in my life?" or "how can other people be happy or even live without the one true church?" It might be hard to accept but exmormons like me used to feel a similar way about the church.
It is difficult for mormons to allow the thought but please think: what if the mormon church is not true? what if it is not god's one true church upon the face of the earth? what if you have been deceived or "brainwashed" a little bit? what if things aren't what you thought? what if Joseph Smith was not a good man or a prophet of god? what if President Hinckley does not receive revelation from god? to have such doubts is scary and a mormon knows these thoughts must be quickly put aside. But I still ask: what if?
You love this thing with all of your heart. you have made this your life. you look to this shining beacon for direction. If you found out that the church was not true how would you react? If it means anything to you, you would be shocked, angry, upset, mournful...think of how it would feel for you! Why aren't exmormons allowed to feel that way? Why does it seem so difficult to understand?
If you fell in love with a person and they said they loved you but abused you emotionally and took advantage of you, took your money and controlled your life, would you think it right to end that relationship? and would you think it right to warn others about this abusive person as well? If I met a woman getting into a relationship with a man like that who had hurt me it would be kind of me to express to her my concerns and explain to her how he had treated me.
To put it another way, mormons believe in missionary work. Mormons are judged by others and have lots of silly rumors about them and they want to correct the errors. mormons speak up because they want to put aside the misunderstandings people have. they want to tell their side of the story. they want to stand as a representative or their belief. exmormons and "anti-mormons" speak up for the same reasons. we want to share our side of the story too.
It may hurt to find out that the person you love is not who you thought they were and it might make you angry at the person who is telling you. you might not want to believe them. You might decide the other person is just a crazy spiteful person and the things they tell you are just resentful lies about the person you care about. But it wouldn’t hurt to make sure, would it? You might prevent the continuation of a relationship that will lead to misery. You might look at yourself and realize that some of the things said about this person are true. You are feeling controlled and abused and it's getting worse. You have been blinded by the love and devotion you feel, the good feelings of love. The person giving you a warning might save you a lot of pain and sadness if you listen to them. At the very least it shouldn't hurt to have another opinion. You might not like it but it might be worth more than you want to think. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Monday, August 29th, 2005|
|The LDS Church and Homosexuality
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Sometimes you hear that the church isn't actually anti-homosexuality, they are just against sex outside of marriage and because gays cannot get married they are committing a sin of premarital sex. The LDS church has fought against gay marriage and given funding and support to passing strong laws against it. In October 2005, as Utahns were preparing to vote on an amendment that would make tougher laws against gay partnerships, the LDS church issued this statement
:We of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reach out with understanding and respect for individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord.
As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.
This isn't the first time the church has tried to influence it's members to vote against gay marriage. An article in a Las Vegas paper
that appeared on May 08, 2000 about the LDS church's influence on gay marriage laws there. Similar things have been done in California and other places.
It is scary to hear about some of the treatment that has been done on gay mormons to try and "cure" them. This is from an article by Dean Huffaker about Homosexuality at BYU
:In the early 1970's students who confessed homosexual tendencies were referred to the BYU Counseling Center. Steve, then a BYU professor, went through this counseling program and received what he called "the shock treatment," similar to the therapy sometimes used by psychologists to help patients stop smoking.
Jon, a former BYU student who is gay, described this treatment as experiencing an electrical shock while viewing a pornographic picture of a male. The patient would then be shown a pornographic picture of a female without an electric shock.
When asked about this treatment, a former BYU counselor said that "aversive therapy--not shock treatment"--had been used in the past. Mild electric stimulus was used in conjunction with slides of males and females in various stages of dress.A few other accounts of treatment.
Apparently these come from a documentary....I was 15! I was only 15 years old. I mean I'd seen like a Playboy before, but I'd never seen sex before at all. They were going to show me this gay pornography and using the I.V. they would inject a drug into me during the gay pornography to make me start vomiting. Then they would switch the pornography over to heterosexual sex and inject a euphoric drug into me to get me to associate euphoria with heterosexuality. I look back on that and think that I would have taken the electric-shock therapy had I known about it since I'm extremely phobic around vomiting.
I was supposed to come back the next day for treatment, but I just didn't show up. I called in sick and put them off. They finally said that I had to come down and tell them what was going on. I told them I couldn't do it, and they gave me a "shame" letter which I had to hand carry back and give to my stake president telling him that I had refused to go through with the Lord's program for my cure.
another person's story from the documentary:I first went through about a year and a half of seeing a counselor. This wasn't aversion therapy. It seemed pointless to me because we just sat there and talked and there was nothing happening. I said that I heard that there were other kinds of therapy like shock or aversion therapy. He referred me to another doctor who was also LDS that was doing something on the order of what they were doing at BYU although what they were doing at BYU seemed alot scarier. This Dr. Card was calling it bio-feedback which involved shocking, but the patient held the button themselves so they shocked themselves. The electricity had a level on it so you could set it yourself. He didn't really interfere with the level so I always kept the level pretty low or moderately low. He indicated that if you really wanted to change, you'd set the level higher.
another said, on the existence of shock-treatment use:He was the one that told me about the shock-treatment therapy and how he and BYU were exposed by some Australian documentary. He told me he wasn't doing it anymore. I asked him if it was a successful treatment, and he said that he thought that it worked in some cases. I don't know of anyone that has ever said that they have turned around after being shocked.
And one more person's story:Anyway, they would come in usually three times a week. I would be behind a glass one-way mirror, and they would be on the other side of it. They had their choice to look at pornographic magazines or watch porno videos. We would tape electrodes to their groin, thigh, chest and armpits. We had another machine that would monitor their breathing and heart rate. If there was a difference in their heart rate when looking at homosexual pornography, we would turn a dial which would send a current to shock them. If they were a new patient, we would use a very low current. From the reaction that I saw there were muscle spasms which looked very painful.Another article, Don Harryman's story.Article from the Las Vegas Bugle
also found here.
Some useful links:Anti-Gay Actions Carried Out by the LDS Church
Pretty much the whole affirmation website
is full of interesting and useful info.Mormon / LDS Chronology Of Involvement In Same-Sex Marriage Politics
Ok. I'm kind of lost about what I was really doing but I mostly wanted to get some information about this out here because it's interesting and scary. I want to learn more about it. Current Mood: sympathetic
|Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005|
I have not listened to all of these yet but some of them are just HILARIOUS! http://spaff.com/
Very very funny! Go listen and have a good laugh! Current Mood: amused
|I KNOW the church is true?
Mormons get up at Fast and Testimony meeting and say "I KNOW the church is true."
I wouldn't say testimonies are about what you KNOW. they are about what you BELIEVE. Saying "I KNOW the church is true" while it sounds nice is, I feel, incorrect. You don't KNOW and that is why you need faith. Religion isn't about knowing but about faith and believing. How can you really say that you KNOW the church is true? You believe it, sure. You feel happy about it or whatever but "know?" I don't think so. This brings to mind that good old Alma scripture. Let's see...Alma 32:
21 And now as I said concerning faith--faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
26 Now, as I said concerning fait--that it was not a perfect knowledge--even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
Alma 32 talks about experimenting upon the word and testing to know if the seed is "good." Have you tested your seed? 32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
Alma 32 suggests that you plant the seed and nourish it. if it is "good" it will grow. 33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
The experiment seems to be planting the seed, believing already that the seed is true. but until the seed grows you can't know. you can wait your entire life for that seed to sprout. If it never does then why? did you not have enough faith in it? was it a bad seed? Has your seed sprouted or are you still waiting for it to grow?
My seed didn't grow. I waited and looked and thought sometimes I might have seen something there but found they were only weeds pretending to be a testimony. When I truly "tested" the seed I found it to be a bad seed. You can't just wait for it to grow forever and ever. you have to find out. study the seed. If you cut open the seed and look inside you will see what it is really made of. Unfortunately, once the seed is cut open you risk finding your answer inside and you can't plant that seed again. it's open with all of it's doubt and dirt exposed. you may find it is a fruit you wouldn't want to have growing in your yard, even if it were to grow. For me that's what I found. I got sick of waiting and growing only weeds and I opened my seed and found I didn't want that "fruit." In fact, there was nothing there that would grow anything more than ignorance for me. Current Mood: pensive
|Tuesday, August 16th, 2005|
|Brigham Young and racist remarks
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty." --Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, p.109)
Wonderful. I also love how he says beforehand that this is the law of god. it's kind of hard for TBMs to excuse him as only "speaking as a man." Is god a racist bastard or was brigham a false prophet? why wasn't he removed from the earth as god promised would happen to prophets who led the church astray? huh. so many great quotes from old briggy. perhaps I will post some more later. Current Mood: lazy
|Saturday, July 23rd, 2005|
|A message for investigators of the LDS church...
Are you looking to join the LDS church? This is my message to you (and anyone else who wants to hear it =)Should you call the missionaries?
Absolutely not. They will pressure you and manipulate you. I would not call the missionaries unless you are sure you are ready to commence your faith-promoting, car-salesman, high-pressure jingle. They will have you read a book of mormon and coax you about the good and special feelings you have. They will tell you about how Joseph Smith restored the gospel and how you can be with your family forever. they will tell you the basic faith promoting things and pressure you until you commit to a baptism date. That's the best way to objectively get into the LDS church? No. You won't know what you are getting into and once you are in--and even before you have committed to join--you will be discouraged from looking at any so-called anti-mormon material. they will require long hours of your time and 10% of your money. If you like the high-pressure approach or being shielded from the "flecks of history" and such that don't make the church look so wonderful, by all means, call the damn missionaries.
That said, do your own research
. There are many resources available to help you! A list to start you off:Pro-Mormon:Mormon.org
are the LDS church's official websites. Pretty squeaky clean but you have a place to start. The basic beliefs can be found and you have access to the scriptures and ensign talks and articles which are useful resources. you can also contact missionaries through the sites if you wish to do so.Fair
is an LDS apologetics site. Mormon apologists try to deal with some difficult doctrinal issues and make them make sense.Jeff Lindsay
is a Mormon apologist and has some FAQ and junk on his site.All About Mormons
is a pretty good site."Anti"-Mormon:Exmormon.org
has information and stories form Ex-Mormons about why they left the LDS church.The wives of Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith had over 30 wives. at least 11 of them were already married to other men when he took them as wives. this site briefly tells their stories.Joseph Lied.
This site is pretty simple and effective. Richard Packham's site
especially might be helpful in your investigation.
I might add more to this list later. it is in no way complete but I want to keep it fairly simple.Where to start?
First read some of the pro-mormon materials. read the official LDS sites and see what they have to say. Get an idea of the "official" face the church puts on but don't stop there. Look into the other side of th story too. check out Exmormon.org and read some of the stories of those who have left the church. look at the other exmormon sites and compare with Fair some of the arguments and see what excuses/explanations the apologists have. after you have read the arguments on both sides, if you still really want to join the church, use the LDS official website or ask a mormon to get you in touch with the missionaries. There are many people out there who are happy to answer your questions. I will be happy to help answer them to the best of my ability. of course, I am an exmormon so I am not going to have only good things to say about the LDS church. If you want to join, that's fine for you! Go for it! but make sure you know what you are getting into! Think for yourself and study both sides as much as you can. I don't think any mormon even would tell you that joining the mormon church is not a big commitment of your time energy and money.
You should absolutely look into the pro-mormon materials first. But these things are slanted in the most squeaky-clean and desirable way possible. The church looks like a delicious chocolate cake but if you actually break past the surface there is dog crap inside. The outside is delicious but when you break though the faith-promoting layer you find something you don't want to eat. Some mormons manage to break that layer but convince themselves with all their might that they are still eating creamy chocolate cake. the mind is a powerful thing. eventually many mormons are eating crap and going "mmm" all the way. It tastes bad but the cake still looks so good on the outside--who cares about the surprise filling?
Look at the outside of the cake. check out the LDS official sites and look into the church but I suggest you break into the middle of the cake before you have committed to eat it.
As pro-mormon material can be slanted horribly, so can anti-mormon material. I am not denying for a second that there are untruths presented to make the church look bad. But you don't even need to waste your time on those. The church's own "approved" but avoided material is quite sufficient for putting a bad taste in your mouth. There are numerous anti-mormon research websites that use even exclusively pro-mormon sources. I would challenge an investigator to look at the sources used. You can corroborate them with the official mormon materials. Sometimes it's hard to find or even has been changed in more recent versions of church publications but if you can get a hold of the source and read it you will find that most of the time it's taken right from the horses' mouth.
This is the part where many mormon apologists would accuse the info of being taken out of context. I say read what's before and after. most of the time the context is not being abused.Can you trust the testimonies of Exmoromons?
Exmormons come in all different shapes and sizes. Some mormons leave because they are disenchanted with the church's teachings as they know them. some have bad experiences that lead them to investigate further into the religion. I'm sure some leave for stupid reasons but almost all the post-mormons I have come across have been smart and able people who began to question and searched for truth, some more deeply than others. They find their very different paths out of the church.
Mormons often protest that these people did not have strong testimonies and were shaken because they were not strong. As for having your testimony shaken...If something is true it needs to stand up to criticism. That is the mark of truth. Things must be tested again and again and if they can survive the honest questioning and searching of a person who wants truth, they hold that much more credibility when they search is finished. In the end, people come to different conclusions. But as much as mormons might want to think that ex-mormons are the ones who were weak and did not have the strength to keep their testimony, I tell you ex-mormons are more often than not the ones who had the strength to challenge their testimony. The ones who had the strength to question and the learn and ultimately accept that the chocolate cake might not be so delicious. Current Mood: productive
|Sunday, July 10th, 2005|
|Joseph F. Smith - Gospel Doctrine quotes: Knowledge and Science / Secret Organizations
Just some quotes from Gospel Doctrine: the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith (Sixteenth Printing, Deseret Book company 1969). Nothing all that exciting today. =)The Gospel Is Simple.
(pg. 8-9)Some subjects are in themselves, perhaps, perfectly harmless, and any amount of discussion over them would not be injurious to the faith of our young people. We are told, for example, that the theory of gravitation is at best a hypothesis, and that such is the atomic theory. These theories help to explain certain things about nature. Whether they are ultimately true can not make much difference to the religious convictions of our young people. On the other hand there are speculations which touch the origin of life and the relationship of God to his children. In a very limited degree that relationship has been defined by revelation and until we receive more light upon the subject we deem it best to refrain from the discussion of certain philosophical theories which rather destroy than build up the faith of our young people. One thing about this so-called philosophy of religion that is very undesirable lies in the fact that as soon as we convert our religion into a system of philosophy, none but philosophers can understand, appreciate, or enjoy it. God, in his revelation to man, has made his word so simple that the humblest of men, without special training, may enjoy great faith, comprehend the teachings of the gospel, and enjoy undisturbed their religious convictions. For that reason we are averse to the discussion of certain philosophical theories in our religious instructions.
(Joseph F. Smith – Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 46, pp. 208, 209, April, 1911)Our Knowledge is Limited.
(pg. 9)Our methods in speculation and reasoning about the things of God may often be harmless; but if we depart from the simplicity of God’s word into a spirit of rationalism, we become the victims of vanity, which endangers the true spirit of worship in the human heart. It is not easy for men to give up their vanities, to overcome their preconceived notions, and surrender themselves heart and soul to the will of God which is always higher than their own. The dangers of religious speculations are as great today as they were in the days of Christ, and if we would avoid these dangers we must adhere to the simplicity of our religious beliefs and practices. When men and women realize they are getting into deep water where their footing is insecure, they should retreat, for they may be sure that the course they have been taking will lead them more and more away from their bearings which are not always easy to regain. The religion of the heart, the unaffected and simple communion which we should hold with God, is the highest safeguard of the Latter-day Saints. It is no discredit to our intelligence or to our integrity to say frankly in the face of a hundred speculative questions, "I do not know."
One thing is certain, and that is, God has revealed enough to our understanding for our exaltation and for our happiness. Let the Saints, then, utilize what they already have; be simple and unaffected in their religion, both in thought and word, and they will not easily lose their bearings and be subjected to the vain philosophies of man.
(Joseph F. Smith – Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 46, p. 269, May, 1911)Theory and Divine Revelation.
(pg. 38-39)Our young people are diligent students. They reach out after truth and knowledge with commendable zeal, and in so doing they must necessarily adopt for temporary use, many theories of men. As long, however, as they recognize them as scaffolding useful for research purposes, there can be no special harm in them. It is when these theories are steeled upon as basic truth that trouble appears, and the searcher then stands in grave danger of being led hopelessly from the right way.
* * *The Church holds to the definite authority of divine revelation which must be the standard; and that, so-called "Science" has changed form age to age in its deductions, and as divine revelation is truth, and must abide forever, views as to the lesser should conform to the positive statements of the greater, and, further, that in institutions funded by the Church for the teaching of theology, as well as other branches of education, its instructors must be in harmony in their teachings with its principles and doctrines.
* * * There are so many demonstrated, practical, material truths, so many spiritual certainties, with which the youth of Zion should become familiar, that it appears a wasted of time and means, and detrimental to faith and religion to enter too extensively into the undemonstrated theories of men on philosophies relating to the origin of life, or the methods adopted by an Allwise Creator in peopling the earth with the bodies of men, birds and beasts. Let us rather turn our abilities to the practical analysis of the soil, the study of the elements, the productions of the earth, the invention of useful machinery, the social welfare of the race, and its material amelioration; and for the rest cultivate and abiding faith in the revealed word of God and the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which give joy in this world and in the world to come eternal life and salvation.
Philosophic theories of life have their place and use, not it is not in the classes of the Church schools, and particularly are they out of place here or anywhere else, when they seek to supplant the revelations of God. The ordinary student cannot delve into these subjects deep enough to make them of any practical use to him, and a smattering of knowledge in this line only tends to upset his simple faith in the gospel, which is of more value to him in life than all the learning of the world without it.
The religion of the Latter-day Saints is not hostile to any truth, nor to scientific search for truth. "That which is demonstrated, we accept with joy," said the First Presidency in their Christmas greeting to the Saints, "but vain philosophy, human theory and mere speculations of men we do not accept, nor do we adopt anything contrary to divine revelations or to good common sense, but everything that tends to right conduct, that harmonizes with sound morality and increases faith in Deity, finds favor with us, no matter where it may be found."
A good motto for young people to adopt, who are determined to delve into philosophic theories, is to search all things, but be careful to hold on only to that which is true. The truth persists, but the theories of philosophers change and are overthrown. What men use today as a scaffolding for scientific purposes from which to reach out into the unknown for truth maybe be torn down tomorrow, having served its purpose; but faith is an eternal principle through which the humble believer may secure everlasting solace. It is the only way to find God.
(Joseph F. Smith – Improvement Era, Vol. 14, p. 548)Secret Societies.
(pg. 110-111)It is a well known truth that the counsel of the First Presidency of the Church, in all cases, has been and is against our brethren joining secret organizations for any purpose whatsoever, and that wherever any of them have already joined, they have been and are counseled to withdraw themselves from such organizations, as soon as circumstances permit and wisdom dictates. In taking this position, there has not been, neither is it intended that there shall be, any controversy with the societies, and with their aims and objects. The merits of the various orders are not considered at all; their aims may be ever so worthy and their objects ever so commendable. that matter does not enter into the discussion, so far as a member of our Church is concerned.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and is a power unto salvation, temporal and spiritual. A man who complies in ever respect therewith has everything that any society can offer, with countless truths and consolations added: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." The Church is divinely organized, and in that organization there is provision for the development and practice of every virtue known, ever charity revealed. For this reason and for its promise of eternal life and glory, the gospel, and the Church divinely established for its promulgation, should be nearer and dearer to a follower of Christ than all other things. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye can not serve God and Mammon."
The members of our church who have faith to heed the advice of the authorities thereof, will not ally themselves, under any pretense with any organization not instituted by the Lord for the building up of Zion. Neither will they, for any consideration, allow themselves to imbibe the spirit of the world, or be tempted to lose their faith, which will be the result with those who divide their interests, devoting some to other organizations. This is the testimony of those who have joined and who have later withdrawn. Nothing can be permitted in the members that is calculated to bring division and weakness to the Church, yet those who have been led to join other institutions should not dealt with harshly, but should be made to understand the position of the Church, and where it is so understood, they should shape their affairs for withdrawal, in humility and repentance, from that which threatens their standing.
(Joseph F. Smith - Improvement Era, Vol. 6, p. 305, February, 1903) Current Mood: okay
|Sunday, July 3rd, 2005|
|How could an uneducated farm boy write the Book of Mormon?
Is it possible for an uneducated farm boy like joseph smith to have written the book of mormon? It seems like such a compelling thought. How could he have written the amazing book with so little knowledge? This certainly must show that it was an act of god and joseph truly is a prophet of god. Or maybe not. Let's examine a few things a bit closer.
First, the ideas in the book of mormon aren't this radical and original thing. Before and around Jospeh's time there were ideas about the Native Americans and stories going around about the early americas. I don't doubt these held some inspiration for the "prophet" Joseph's work.
Some evidence of these ideas can be seen in many places. The idea of linking the native american people to the tribes of Israel wasn't one that originated with Joseph. There were many books written about the ancient americans. For instance a book called View of the Hebrews:
"The probability then is this; that the ten tribes arriving in this continent with some knowledge of the arts of civilized life, finding themselves in the vast wilderness filled with the best of game inviting them to the chase, most of them fell into a wandering idle hunting life. Different clans parted from each other, lost each other, and formed the separate tribes. Most of them formed a habit of this idle form of living and were pleased with it.
More sensible parts of this people associated together to improve their knowledge of the arts and probably continued thus for ages. From these the noted relics of civilization discovered in the west and south were furnished. But the savage tribes prevailed; and in process of time their savage jealousies and rage annihilated their more civilized brethren. And thus as a wholly vindictive providence would have it, and according to ancient denunciations all were left in an 'outcast' state. This accounts for their loss of their knowledge of letters, of the art of navigation and of the use of iron, and such a loss can no more operate against their being the ten tribes, then against their being of any other origin.
It is highly probable that the more civilized part of the tribes of Israel after they settled in America became wholly separated from the hunting and savage tribes of their brethren; that the latter lost the knowledge of their having descended from the same family with themselves; that the more civilized part continued for many centuries, that tremendous wars were frequent between them and their savage brethren until the former became extinct." (Ethan Smith - View of the Hebrews - 1825(second edition), 172-73) (The book was first published in 1823)
The resemblance to the Book of Mormon story is rather uncanny! Many similarities can be found between both books.
But this wasn't the only book expressing the relation of the tribes of Israel to the native Americans. More examples:
Elias Boudinot's book A Star in the West; or a humble attempt to discover the long lost Ten Tribes of Israel, preparatory to their return to their beloved city, Jerusalem (1816)
James Adair's book The History of the American Indians (1775)
Charles Crawford's book An Essay upon the Propagation of the Gospel, in which there are facts to prove that many of the Indians in America are descended from the Ten Tribes (1799)
Josiah Priest's book The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed (1825)
Because of the excitement over the Native American's origins and connections to the ten tribes it isn't too hard to see where Joseph got some ideas from.
Is it possible that Joseph was exposed to some of these books? B.H. Roberts thought that that it was very likely that Joseph had access to View Of the Hebrews:
"...did Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or a half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith's story of the Book of Mormon's origin ...
The material in Ethan Smith's book is of a character and quantity to make a ground plan for the Book of Mormon ...
Can such numerous and startling points of resemblance and suggestive contact be merely coincidence?"
(B.H. Roberts - Studies of the Book of Mormon - pages 240, 242)
At the very least it is absolutely clear that the ideas of the book of mormon came from other places. The popular myths going around in Joseph's time show that Joseph certainly had inspiration for the Book of Mormon from the ideas around him.
There is also the extremely interesting Spalding Manuscript theories. I might write something on that later.
I don't completely subscribe to any theory as of yet. I do know that there is a lot of evidence that Joseph wasn't just an uneducated farm boy without the means or motive to create the book of mormon. I am doubtful that he made up the book on his own, but I don't think it was given to him by god or an angel. I believe he took the ideas from the mythology around him and he and his friends likely worked together on creating the book.
Besides that there are many examples of simple or uneducated people doing rather marvelous things. Even writing books. For instance, we have the uneducated and illiterate prophet Mohammed who wrote the Quran/Koran. Current Mood: sore