There is Serzone in My Soul Today

I really should start this off by making it very clear that depression is serious business.  Depression should not be ignored nor should the one that suffers from it have to do so alone.  There is a clear divide between the treatments for physiological depression and the depression that is influenced by social/belief factors in the mormon church.  What I want to address here are the ways that cultural factors (which are fostered by some of its doctrine) nurture depression in large pockets of the church.

I was reading this article and several others that support and refute possible rationale for the extremely high antidepressant use in Utah, the mormon capital.  As I’ve read, I find it interesting when you see the varying stances that a person takes will have a strong alignment with their original bias.  I only find it frustrating when an apologist masquerading as a professional or scientist tries to lend weight to their subjective opinions by presenting them as a legitimate interpretation to the data of a study.

The study referenced in the article produced data that showed that anti-depressant use was much higher in Utah than in other states.  The data was then subjected to interpretation by Daniel K. Judd, a purported, reliable authority with a PhD in psych and a professor of ancient scripture at BYU.

“With few exceptions, Latter-day Saints who live their lives consistent with the teachings of the (church) experience greater well-being, increased marital and family stability, less delinquency, less depression, less anxiety, less suicide and less substance abuse than those who do not”

…”Perhaps one of the reasons the residents of Utah lead the nation in the use of antidepressants is that since they are generally more educated and aware of the symptoms and treatments of depression, they are more likely than the residents of other states to seek medical treatment.”

None of these have any basis in the data of the study.  They are the interpretation through the lens of bias in an attempt to obviously defend the Mormon = happiness myths.

“With few exceptions…”   What data produced that interpretation?

“Latter-day Saints who live their lives consistent with the teachings of the (church)…” means absolutely nothing since once a person is sad, depressed, struggling, or feeling like an outsider to church culture, they are immediately seen as one suffering from the consequences of sin, laziness, lack of valiance, etc. because, in the church vernacular, happiness equals living by the teachings of the cult church and vise versa.

I don’t need a biased interpreter.  The best information I have to go on is my own experience… as admittedly biased as you may assume it to be.   The survey/study and its interpretation are influenced heavily by vectors in mormon culture.  In my experience, mormon culture can be expressed through three classes or groups of people that make up 99% (slight exaggeration) of every ward or stake of the church:

  1.  Group 1 (or Team Leadership)  – The relatively small group that moves largely in and about itself.  They hold most of the influential positions in a ward/stake and spend most of their lives hopping around the same types of positions.  They are usually under the impression that they shoulder the lion’s share of the work and feel like they are the best qualified to make decisions because the mask they wear is one of success in the home, in their profession, and public speaking (articulating).  They have memorized the temple endowment ceremony and feel really good about themselves for that and the handful of other things in the key-chain of pet topics they can expound on.  They are generally adored by the one or two popular cliques that sit on the top layer of group 2.  If you were conducting a survey of church membership on “how happy are you?”, these would be the only respondents and would respond precisely how the church leadership would expect them to.  This group is completely blind to the existence of these socio-groups.  They rarely, if ever, have shed a tear publicly.  They are never late because nothing was happening before they got there.  They love mormon culture because their personalities respond well to checking off tasks on a list.
  2. Group 2.  If you gave them that name, they would be unable to come up with a new one because coasting is the name of the game.  This is the group that does just enough to get by. They crave leadership positions, but are largely inert unless they have a couple Group 1 people in supporting roles and a good circle of their usual friends.  They have read the first few verses of several chapters of scripture.  They crack a lesson manual, church magazine, book, etc. only when tasked suddenly with teaching a class or speaking in a meeting.  Since the advent of the internet, their expository consists largely of plagiarizing stories, anecdotes, and lesson plans posted by other members online.  Facebook and Twitter is a haven for them as it provides a venue for trying to appear like Group 1 when they tweet and post about how amazing and uplifting General Conference talks were that day.  They avoid being depressed (about how inadequate they feel in comparison to Group 1) by dressing themselves in the appearance of  such while avoiding as much effort as possible.  These are perfectly willing to visit the home of their other friends in Group 2, but generally avoid visiting their one Group 3 person on their assigned list.  This group is heavily invested in appearing to be happy because they fully subscribe to the myth that sadness and depression are an outward sign of sin and doubt.  When filling out the survey, this group is the most likely to lie, for appearances sake only, without a moment of regret.  When bearing testimony, these are the ones who unconsciously shed tears because it is an important component of adding emphasis and gravitas to the words.  In classrooms or small meetings, these people love the sound of their own voice – especially if it has nothing to do with the topic at hand or is a completely unsubstantiated, but spiritual, anecdote.  If running late, they will spend the majority of the travel time coming up with a really good excuse.
  3. Group 3 is totally unaware they are in a group.  They only know that they are not in “the group” because they perceive that Groups 1 and 2 are one and the same.  They study doctrine possibly even more than either of the other groups as they believe, un-hypocritically enough, that if they just mastered the scriptures, prayed daily, and served others that God would make up the difference and they would achieve the perfection they think everyone else is so close to through the amazing atonement.  They are never without a keen awareness of their complete unworthiness before Jesus and God and they see their cycle of minor (and, for some, major) sins and transgressions as the result of the failing of their own faith.  These usually avoid bearing testimony mainly from a fear of public speaking and because their tears are a sincere exposure of the grief of inadequacy.  They rarely “visit or home teach” other members – not because they don’t want to, but rather they lack the courage to call other members who wouldn’t give them the time of day otherwise.  Their inability to train their children to sound and behave like “everyone else’s” children and their frequent tardiness to meetings is a source of deep embarrassment.  Group 1 is occasionally frustrated at the downward force that these exert on the ‘success potential’ of the ward or stake.  Group 2 tends to spend little time acknowledging them because their friends in their own group are much more interesting (and they click “like” on their posts).  This is the group most prone to depression – a state fostered by both nature and nurture.  If presented with a “happiness” survey, they will answer in line with Group 1, but will spend the next several months aching for the hypocrisy of the lie.

There is a small pocket of the left over 1% that doesn’t fit into any one stereotypical group.  They are anomalous to mormon “culture” probably because they tend to be insulated from group-think.  They are generally not stressed about anything having to do with church and get by well enough with letting the ebb and flow of the 3 groups move around them.

I have possibly spent time in all of these groups at one time or another.  I have witnessed the church raise the hopes of the masses only to burden those most susceptible with guilt, loneliness, and a yoke of tasks that go so far beyond the necessary mandate of a benevolent doctrine.  I have served in enough callings myself to have a wide variety of perspectives.

I ache for those to whom I have been personal witness to their slog in a task-oriented religion that drove them to lose faith in themselves and spiral down into depression.  I’ve seen many hopeful converts lose their fire as they struggle to mesh adequately into the culture.  I’ve seen several try medication and I’ve seen how those in Group 1 and 2, lacking any training or semblance of piety, look down their noses at the meandering, spiritual squaller of Group 3.  I lost a dear friend several years ago to depression who tried for as long as possible to put on the appearances as best as possible – til hope gave out.  I am so sorry to anyone that I would have been able to help or point in the right direction had I but known and understood as I do now, but to whom I was little help.

So, I, the expert only on what I know for myself, believe there is a very good reason why Utah leads the nation in anti-depressants.  However, I’m just another biased opinion in the mix and what I say doesn’t ratify or destroy the veracity of any religion.  What a religion does itself all on its own – now that does have the power to destroy.


I wrote what I am about to copy here not to make fun of the situation.  Rather, I wanted to tell the truth in turning a mormon hymn on its ear to expose this issue for what it is.

Slightly silly, unconvincing original **here**.

~~~~~ #227 – There is Sunshine in My Soul Today ~~~~~

There is sunshine in my soul today
And Prozac and Pristiq.
They help me cope with all my guilt
And the ways that I’m “unique”.
So my Paxil and my blessed Zoloft
Send depression running out the door.
Til my Docs find out I’m stringing them along
There’ll be Serzone in my soul!

We are always running late to church
And my kids act out in class.
I am awkward and I have fake friends
I never Visit-Teach!
But some Wellbutrin and some Zyprexa
With Symbalta and Abilify
Help to keep me on that cheerful path
And help us believe the lies.

I would love to be so perfect too
Like my leaders wish I’d try.
I’m the one they vent about at home
Feeding gossip for their wives!
And so, Oleptro mixed with some Effexor
Keep us all from cracking under stress
Of these complicated works that earn our way
To eternal happiness.

Thank you for stopping by.  Remember, kindness is a virtue only when you are actually being kind.

Joseph, Lover of My Wife

Polygamy is a touchy issue – both for still-active members of the mormon church as well as those who have long departed.  Mormon women have to dissemble the issue in order to stay sane and active… like it’s something that only happened a long time ago, under the most benevolent of circumstances according to church leaders, and to someone else… so that’s totally ok.  Ask any of them to say how they would respond if the prophet decided tomorrow that polygamy was back on the table since marriage has a much broader definition now.  See, it’s ok only if it happened to other people.

Since I don’t go to much (never), I was pointed to this article from John Dehlin’s page about a girl who has reconciled the polygamy issue to herself and we should all do that too.  Sadly, what she doesn’t realize yet is that she is demonstrating the precise level of ignorance that it takes to whitewash the past.  Now, I’m not saying that somehow, under some circumstance, someone, somewhere has managed to have multiple wives in a benevolent way.  I’m saying that once you finally know that that is not how it played out in mormon history, the realization is crushing and putting out propaganda news pieces spits in the faces of those who were subjected to it.

Some of the saddest things I read about in said history were the stories of faithful men sent off on missions for years at a time who later realize that Joseph Smith (and later Brigham Young) had married their wives in their absence.  Polyandry really did happen and has finally, very quietly, been admitted by apologetics.

don't worry brother_n

My purpose in writing here is not to list a bunch of facts and say, “Look how big my list is.  You should completely believe me.”  I write to put down for others what’s going through my head as I try to piece reality back together after running down the road of research; hopefully writing something down that’s a respite in the desert of how-the-hell-did-I-ever-believe-that.

Not long ago, I was thinking about what that would have been like to be out on a mission away from wife and family only to have everything that I loved in the world torn away to serve the needs of a selfish self-proclaimed prophet.  I wrote this down:

~~~ Hymn #102~~~   Joseph, Lover of My Wife              (original here)

Joseph, lover of my wife,
Take good care of her for me
While I’m called abroad in God’s service
On the mission that you sent me.
Though pains me you’ll lie with her
And it breaks my heart in two,
I’ll be faithful, ever faithful,
Brother Joseph, unto you.

When I come home, I’ll be lonely,
But I’ll take some comfort still
In the solace that she’s with you
In fulfillment of God’s will.
Oh what agony besets me!
Oh what sacrifice is this?
Will you take my daughters also
To your bed – that dark abyss?

If you ever have to ignore the past just to be able to continue to feel good about it, Red Flag!

Missionary Marching Orders – Called to Serve?

Every time I hear that a child of some friend or relative is marching off to the Missionary Training Center, the memories come flooding back.


As a child growing up in the church, it sits out there like a distant landmark – almost unreachable.  Nineteen.  You’re taught from the moment you can speak or sing the words to “I hope they call me on a mission…” that the day is coming when you will go out into the world and share the “gospel”.  To me, it was always a mix of nervous excitement and the vacuous unknown.  I had thought that the mission would be a time of sharing Jesus Christ’s message… how wrong I was.  I had spent all those years trying to gain a testimony of Jesus only to actually go on a mission and discover how little that plays into what a missionary was actually supposed to do.

The MTC was a mix of hurried schedules and a mad dash through cycles of memorize, regurgitate, role-play, rinse, repeat.  Speakers and hymns all designed to whip us up into a frenzy of ‘how cool is it that we are missionaries’.  Memorize the first vision story so that you can repeat it from memory…. with feeling.  Memorizing D&C section 4 in the language of your destination country so that you can recite it at every mission conference.  Watch videos of yourself practicing door-approaches so that you can get better at breaking the ice.  And surprisingly, and unfortunately, dealing with all the other missionaries that didn’t want to be there (for whatever their reason, but somehow managed to be obligated) and who spent most of the time trying to tear out any scrap of sincerity anyone was managing to muster out of their exhausted selves.

Early on, while out on my mission, one of my seeds of doubt was given to me courtesy of a member of the quorum of the seventy, bless his aging heart, who arrived to speak to us and uttered the following:  “Elders, most of the people here already know who Jesus Christ is.  You are not called to preach Jesus.  You were called here to preach that the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that only through baptism by the authority of the restored priesthood will they be able to come back into the presence of God.”  The ripple of baptize, baptize, baptize that resounded through the other missionaries was almost a euphoric frenzy.  (more on that in some later post)

It made me feel a little sick.  I loved the idea of Jesus Christ and I had thought that if you taught someone about Jesus that they would want to be baptized… and if they didn’t, that should be OK too.   The story of the restoration is incidental to the actual Jesus Christ …right?  I received so much flack for that opinion that one would think I was espousing lies and apostasy.  I learned how to survive by shutting up and going along and it has taken me a long time to forgive myself for giving up.  The good that came out of this is that when someone says, “it’s not about the numbers of baptisms on your mission,” it shows me what their face looks like when they are lying.

Have a read-through this real-life scenario that played out in Japan courtesy of Ballard.

Also, having worked for a while at the MTC, I got to see the same drumbeat played out during the many training sessions that mission presidents and their wives go through.  Clearly equating ones baptism numbers with the level of faith one apparently has.

Well, many years later and much further down the road of discovery, I find myself wanting to send a letter back in time to that altruistic and idealistic nineteen-year-old to tell him not to worry and someday he’ll realize it’s because, at its core, it’s not really a religion, it’s a business.  It just dresses up like a religion so that it can stay functional and so that there will be a lapel for the platitude-laced boutonniere.

At the end of the letter, I would include this:  (non satire original ***here***)

~~~~~~ Called to Serve – Hymn #249 ~~~~~~

Called to serve and help proclaim the story
– Christian churches all have gone astray.
Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet!
We’ve been told just what to say!
Play up all the good things!
We love Jesus just like you!
We have Holy Bibles
And corrections for them too!
You must not be happy
If you haven’t joined the throng…
Just ignore the fits
Of history that show where we’ve gone wrong.

Called to bring your money to our coffers
-Tithing brings in billions for our cause.
We pretend the money feeds the needy
And pretend it goes to God!
Play up all the good things!
We preach hope and charity.
Don’t look at the fraction
That really goes to those in need.
Loopholes in the tax codes
Help to keep our solvency.
Profits won from your
Donations have become our industry!

May a sure knowledge of what truth you know and and an acceptance of what you do not yet know grant you a peaceful day.


Mormon in Remission sing-a-long

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Life happens.

Happily, I’ve completed another hymn from the children’s songbook.  The original is a beautiful example of how to commit young children to serve missions for the church via sing-songy mind training before they even realize what just happened.  I suppose it’s only right I turn it back on itself.

The original, or a reasonable facsimile, can be found here or by searching Google for “lds children’s song I hope they call me on a mission”.

Hope you like it.

~~~ Children’s Hymn #169~~~   I Am a Mormon in Remission

I am a mormon in remission,
I finally found out the whole truth
And all the things they never taught me.
I’m just glad I found out while I am in my youth.

All kinds of things the church has hidden
And things past prophets lied about…
Like, Joseph couldn’t read Egyptian
And teenage wives that call his character in doubt.

From Kinderhook to plural marriage
And teaching God was Adam too;
The blacks that couldn’t hold the priesthood
Because it just turns out that God is racist too.

Some things, I looked up using Google
And books produced by mormon dudes;
So, if you like Masonic handshakes,
Then I think it’s the right religion for you.

So, now, I’m preaching to the choir.
The truth is now so clear to me.
I’ll try to shine a light in darkness
On inconvenient truths for those who still believe.

Hymns Without Hypocrisy


Being born and raised in the church, some things stay in the brain a lot longer than one may realize.  Once in a while, without even thinking about it, I would find myself humming some of the melodies from hymns I’ve sung over and over the past decades.  I miss them sometimes.  Even though some are ponderous and heavy, some of my good memories in the church are of singing harmonies in counterpart to the more beautiful ones.

It’s the words that always catch me like a sudden jolt of reality hitting me when the lyrics run through my head… “Wait, that’s not true at all…. This hymn is just a propaganda piece…”

I set down one day to see if I could put more truthful lyrics down to keep those beautiful tunes from offending sensibility and the results have been a most interesting therapy.  Some may find the parody offensive…which is just fine.  Mormons are supposed to be insulated from being offended so I will allow them the opportunity to get over it themselves.  I have enjoyed writing them and I hope you do too.

I’ll post them occasionally to lighten up the heavier course of some of my posts.  One has to keep a sense of humor…

If your not familiar with this hymn, the original can be found here.
Some context and background can be researched here.

Or you can Google, “Fanny Alger” and ride the rabbit hole down.


~~~ Hymn #026~~~   Joseph Smith’s First Wife

Oh how lovely was her bosom –
Fairer far than his first wife.
Joseph’s winsome teenage housemaid
Caught his eye and Emma’s strife.
And confirming her suspicions,
Emma spied them in the barn.
In the guilty light of his betrayal,
Joseph had to spin a clever yarn.

“Emma, this is my beloved.
This commandment comes from God.”
Yet her anger still was kindled
For she saw through his facade.
“Emma, this is plural marriage.
God will surely be annoyed.
If you don’t receive her gladly,
You will have to be destroyed.”

Emma saw he would not waver
And she only could comply.
She let Joseph win that battle,
But he wasn’t satisfied.
For he sought out many women –
Even siblings and their moms –
Even wives of men out on their missions.
All were patsies in his latest con.

Some he pressured into ‘marriage’
Claiming angel’s threats and swords;
That their own entire family’s
Exaltation was in store.
Oh, how can a God of peace and love
To his daughters be so cruel
As to turn them into slaves and objects
For the whims of such a selfish fool.

Happy humming!

Key Lie Pie

Not to beat a dead horse, but I think I’ll be stuck with writer’s block until I get clear of the main point in my last post: —–Can a prophet lie?—–

I think the leaders of the mormon church have laid the cornerstone of their own graves by defining it for themselves:

  • Many will teach false doctrine, saying: lie a little and there is no harm in it  2 Ne. 28:8–9; (D&C 10:25; )
  • “Elder Gordon B. Hinckley preached against the widespread and fashionable dishonesty that threatens governments, institutions, and our personal dignity. His talk was titled “An Honest Man— God’s Noblest Work” (see Ensign, May 1976, p. 60). Satan is the great deceiver and the father of lies, but he will also tell the truth when it suits his purposes. Satan’s most effective lies are half-truths or lies accompanied by truth. A lie is most effective when it can travel incognito in good company or when it can be so intermarried with the truth that we cannot determine its lineage.”  Dallin Oaks : 9/12/1993
  • “Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation…People use many excuses for being dishonest. People lie to protect themselves and to have others think well of them.    Gospel Principles ch 31
  • “Let every man’s life be so that his character will bear the closest inspection, and that it may be seen as an open book, so that he will have nothing to shrink from or be ashamed of” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 252)
  • “We can also be guilty of bearing false witness and lying if we say nothing, particularly if we allow another to reach a wrong conclusion while we hold back information that would have led to a more accurate perception.”   Ensign 10/1994

Something that seems to be disappearing from the vernacular of the church has been the concept of ‘lies of omission’ and similar phrases that imply that the withholding of salient truth is, in fact, a lie.  This is odd since, during my upbringing in the church, I heard that expression in talks, priesthood lessons and interviews, and classes.  However, if you go to and search for anything about lies of omission, you only seem to get results for sins of omission.

As I’m finding, the leaders of the church have been lying by omission AND by commission.  Each new generation of self-titled apostles and prophets have the interesting job or re-vamping and covering the past.  Unfortunately, the age of data is upon us and the lies are being exposed from the rooftops.

In the fireside talk by Oaks (linked above), he creates an odd scarecrow argument when he contorts himself through the gyrations of explaining away the “lying for the Lord” issue by making it sound like the issue only really revolved around the polygamy issue and that of course a person would be stuck in a moral dilemma of betraying a friend or helping to condemn a husband to jail.  The real issues are:

  1. Did the authorities of the early church (and Joseph Smith in particular) lie about polygamy in order to manipulate public opinion, hide it from prospective members, and/or to avoid legal issues?  Note: polygamy was never legal in any state it was practiced in even from its inception.
  2. Did Joseph Smith lie about polygamy as a law of God in order to cover up the stain of his affair with his teenage housemaid, Fanny Alger?
  3. Did Joseph Smith attempt to cover the lies by ordering the destruction of a printing press office that was about to publish the first-hand accounts of how prevalent polygamy was in the church and, specifically, that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?

Some lies are debatable, but some are so glaring.  Following here are a summary of the Key Lies that opened my eyes to how bad the issue is even today.  For more examples, just examine some of the ways mormons try to explain around the issues in the comments sections of the videos linked below.

<<<<<<<<<VIDEO TIME>>>>>>>>>>

FlackerMan produced a video here that is the best examination I’ve found yet on how lying in the church continues to this day.

Officials of the church dissembling about Joseph Smith having teenage wives by claiming that it was a societal norm at that time.  Actual census data shows otherwise clearly showing that most of what you hear is current leadership making this up as they go along.

Hinkley lying and dancing around the issue of blacks and the priesthood.

A fantastic multi-part presentation regarding first-hand experience with “Lying for the Lord” can be found here.

Also, please take a few minutes with Analyzing a Mormon Apologist.

What a tangled web they have woven.  Say what you will to explain the past.  Ignore the present if you need to.  Anyone who stays in the church will have to do so eventually against their better judgement or by willful ignorance that the leaders of the church have always and continue to lie, dissemble, prevaricate, tell half-truths, double-down, and misdirect all while expecting obedience and faith in their every word.

I wonder what the future leaders will be tasked with re-writing?

Edit (2015-10-21):  Hi! Had to add this great (and short) post at ExploringMormonism re the ever growing list of the lies. Big thank you to all those out there keeping the conversation alive.         Mmmm.  Key Lie Pie.

Were we lied to by church leaders?

A Small Catalyst

Too long ago, I sat in the back of a 7th grade science classroom while my teacher droned on through the hot September air something like, “blah blah something and oxygen and the blah this and that catalyst into the solution blah blah reducing the something something something reaction….etc.”  I was barely paying attention and was wishing I were somewhere cooler and more interesting and then suddenly realizing, “Should I be taking notes?”  So I wrote, “Catalysts” at the top of my notebook page and continued staring in the direction of the front of the room in a state of complete non-attention.

Suddenly, he moved to another part of the desk where a large flask sat on a tray and he’s pouring something into the liquid that’s already inside and, with a frothing-whooshing sound, foam erupted from the top and nearly hit the ceiling.  The spectacular jet that settled into a massive pile of foam around the formerly visible flask had the desired effect on the classroom.  In one instant, the classroom was no longer a hot, muggy prison of boredom.  It was a room full of locked eyes that were all just inches in front of a mass of 13 year old brains that are silently screaming, “What the hell just happened!?”

His recap, very likely,  consists of the same thing he was lecturing about before.  Except now, we were an audience wrapped up in his every word.  Stuff like, ‘the solution in the flask had a lot of oxygen and it gives the oxygen molecules off slowly, but with the catalyst that was poured in, the solution gives off all its oxygen at once…captured in bubbles of dish soap’….  Whether my teacher had realized it or not, he had just produced a catalyzing event via a catalyzing event.

I was open to learn the concepts in spite of my discomfort and boredom.  I learned, and have always remembered, that a catalyst lowers the energy required for a reaction to take place and therefore speeds them up.  And that’s a really good thing as it turns out.  Almost every action in every system in our body depends on catalysts and enzymes to keep things working right.  No reactions happening in our body is death.

Now, forty-something, I experience a catalyzing event that brings everything I’ve ever read in mormon literature (the good along with the bizarre and contradictory) frothing and surging to my cortex in a sudden instant with the question, “Can a prophet lie?”

I suppose my former self and a few apologetics would still try to dance around the head of that pin.  Well, the prophet isn’t perfect; no one is.  Every human makes mistakes.  Only God is perfect.  That’s why we have modern-day prophets…they can fix human error, but the doctrine is perfect.

Yet, there is that doctrine that “the prophet will never lead the church astray”, right?

I think somehow, mormons think that there should be some allowance for error when it comes to the leaders of the church.  However, there is a crystal-clear divide between a prophet stating either of the two following statements:

“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.”  (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 10, p. 110)


“No officer, I had no idea how fast I was going”  (no known reference)

One is clearly a mandating of the ‘perfect’ will of God and the other is a mark of human error.  For now, I’ll let the reader sort out which is which.

So the question isn’t really whether Brigham was speaking as a man or as a prophet about the “African race” – and by the way, there’s a whole lot more where that quote came from.  The question is whether Brigham was leading the church astray when he said it or whether the current leadership is leading the church astray when they attempt to negate or cover it with words like “theories of the past” or explain it away as a product of the time in which he lived.

So can a prophet lie?  NO.  He can make a mistake, but if he preaches that mistake to the church, he is intentionally propagating a crap-shoot opinion to the millions that may blindly follow while knowing full well that God didn’t say it.  By definition, he would no longer be a prophet any more than some random racist is a prophet.  To spout off lies and opinions like this would be to negate the entire foundation of the church….that ‘God is real and that he speaks his will to the living prophet and the living prophet communicates that to the church.’

God, in his infinite wisdom, would not put that trust in one so prone to error.  The moment such an utterance spewed out to the congregation, God would have put in motion the gears of change that would put a less volatile and more compliant prophet in place.  How good would a “restoration of the truth” be if it was riddled with false opinions preached as God’s word?

In my late teens, I read many books to prepare to go on a mission.  My dad’s bookshelf had an impressive looking series called Journal of Discourses.  I read them all and found them to be an interesting mix of dynamic preaching, dry filler, and what-the-heck.  I remember jumping over the filler and ignoring the WTH and focusing on doctrinal snippets like I was studying for a future verbal test in which I had to know the answer to every question I might be asked.  Later in life, I would discover throughout my teaching of hundreds of priesthood and sunday school lessons that most mormons have never actually read much of what has been written beyond the Book of Mormon itself – and even then barely.  For the leadership of the church, perhaps that’s a good thing and perhaps there’s a good reason why they don’t want the general membership reading the discourses of Brigham Young.  It would lead to conflicts between the membership like the one illustrated in the reviews on the Deseret Book website: of Discourses snip from Deseret Book page reviews

No cherry-picking required.  You could make an entire book summarizing the non-faith-promoting doctrine contained within just these several volumes.

In case you don’t have $450 to buy it, you can find it here for free.

So, having read it for myself, I have to ask myself that if that doctrine were preached over the pulpit today, would I “follow the prophet”?  Conversely, I also have to ask if I were a member of the church when Brigham was a “living prophet”, if I would be justified following him then.

I am the fortune of my past, but, as yet, a mere farthing of my future.  The catalyst can be something as simple as asking the right question.

The First Sound I Ever Made

I have wondered sometimes about what we could find out about ourselves if we could remember our lives from the very beginning.  Not just as an infant, but the very, very beginning… Cramped and swimming in nothing but our prenatal ignorance.

Pop!  Our eyes open and we realize with our sudden and jolting birth that the world we knew was darkness and everything new comes in with blinding light and cradling hands and voices, once muffled and distant, now sharp and deafeningly clear.  Our cry is the panic of sudden change and the disappearance of the swaddling embrace of our previous definition of the universe.  The cry of our first pang of hunger as our life blood is quickly and efficiently separated from everything we thought we were.  The cry of surprise as the rug is pulled out from under us.

There was no camera recording my fall into the world.  Much of it, I’m sure, was like the many others that happen every day.  However, mine was the kind that every parent dreads.  Silent.  Nothingness.  Only the rush of hands and voices of the doctors and nurses and the cries of my mother filled that room.  Sounds that raised to panic as the frantic hands surrounded me to help me the rest of the way onto a new and frightening stage.

I was blue.  Bluish purple like death – my clenched eyes and shaking fists the only sign of life – my blood and brain and lungs screaming for air.  I somehow had not needed it before, but now, in this new place, air equaled life.  I had none.

So I’m rushed off and, airway cleared, the well-trained and equipped staff (at that time in history anyway) give me stored air from a mask and machine which, fortunately for me, has been prepared long before I was born for just such an occasion… Lucky me.  Slowly, I’m not blue anymore.  Little by little, I get my breath and, for the smallest fraction of a second, I find peace.  That moment when I finally have a pause between breaths that isn’t filled with a desperation for the next one.  A moment of infantile clarity.

And as soon as it was there, it was gone.  My brain, finally out of its previous distraction moved on to its next desperate need.  I was starving.

I cried.  My lungs echoed through those great greenish tiled halls of the hospital.  Perhaps I felt that since those around me had solved my previous problem, they could get moving on my current demand.  I was returned to my mother.  Problem solved.  But, it would not be the last time I would cry.

I cried when I fell off the fence and gashed open the back of my head.  I wheezed for breath looking at the sky through tears when I fell out of a tree flat onto my back.  I cried the morning after a childhood friend moved out of state.  I cried in terror every time my brothers rigged some new idea for terrifying me.  I have cried the hiccupping sobs of a child being beaten with a dowel. Tears have followed breakups, sad movies (Where the Red Fern Grows, I’m looking at you…), leaving home, betrayal, divorce, and the deaths of loved ones.  I never knew it at the time, but my tears, and perhaps all of ours, are the outpouring of, “I’ve been moved from the status quo to a state of extreme and horrible discomfort.  Please help me.”

I cried silently one night at the close of a day filled with realization and epiphany as forty years of mormonism fell like a dark, blinding shroud from around me to the floor.  I had no sound I could make to give expression to the complexity of my grief.  No air for the vacuum welling in my soul and I felt as though I were falling out of myself onto the floor.  It was as though I had never made a sound in this world and had no idea how to make one.  There were no hospital staff with anxious hands to assist me.  There were no machines prepared in advance for just such a contingency.  No language to describe this new thing that pierced me.  I had been breathing lies… and when the truth came, my lungs failed me.  In my arrogance, I had refused to breathe.

Slowly, I am finding my voice.  I finally found and rejoiced in that pause between breaths that requires no desperation.  I have found reflection and insight.  I realized just how long the contradictions had been piling up in the neglected recesses of my mind until that moment finally arrived that I refused to ignore and apologize for it anymore.  I shoved it out of me in a chaotic heap and I left it for the liars and the apologetics to dance on.

The recovery from this has been a few years in the making.  I am forever thankful to my loving wife and a very dear friend who have helped me along the way to recovery.  They each have had their own path through this.  The common thread is just knowing that a commitment to the truth means refusing to stand for something that is false.  Building on a lie creates more lies and covering those lies creates even more.  The mormon church has an interesting challenge ahead of it and its not the one that they thought it would be.  They didn’t realize their biggest opponent was going to be the truth.

My mind is starving.  I owe a debt to those who for years now have been posting and publishing the facts in online forums where I could find them and slowly begin to piece together the bizarre tapestry of doctrines I had read in Journal of Discourses, Mormon Doctrine, Lectures on Faith, and others.  From them, I have discovered that I am not alone nor am I in the company of evil-doers and apostates.  The blogs, videos, and websites that I have found are full of sincere former mormons all trying to find their voice.  What I thought before were angry apostates, I’ve realized are really just like the person that runs up to you to knock the cup out of your hand because they saw someone put poison in it.  Rude of them, right?

I speak now to silence.  For now, this is to bring clarity to me and that, on its own, feels complete somehow.  Seeing the words come out of me feels like I am finally breathing.  I hope it is helpful.  Truth sometimes is painful before it is helpful.

This is my first sound.