Monday, December 8, 2008

New layout

Thankfully, Mormonism continues to fade from my life. Therefore, I've decided to list only those posts that relate to my journey into and out of the Mormon Church.

It was 27 years ago this month that I joined the Mormon Church. I believe it was a mistake to do so, but I did get my wife, kids and a very good friend out of the deal so it was not all bad.

I hope this blog will explain how and why I joined and how and why I left Mormonism.

All the best to the reader!

"Will B. Dunn" aka Bryan O'Neil

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A question with a simple answer

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Rebecca Walsh has an interesting article that asks the question why do Mormons voted Republican:

Walsh: GOP is the LDS addiction
By Rebecca Walsh

Harry Reid is realizing what Utah Democrats have known for a generation: The party of Roosevelt and Kennedy and Obama has a problem in the land of Brigham Young.

"It's hard for me to understand why [Utah is] such a Republican state," Reid said at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week. "Utah should be a state that believes in what we stand for."

It should.

I'll just say what the Senate majority leader and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn't: Why do most Utah Mormons vote Republican?

Democrats have been scratching their heads for years, trying to make sense of the paradox that has Reid so flummoxed: It seems counterintuitive that a state largely populated by compassionate, peaceful, faithful people who are admonished by their religious leaders to volunteer, give to the poor and live modestly and within their means should hang on the coattails of a political party that does not.

The disconnect is not just intellectual. This year, decades of Mormon Republican loyalty have been brushed aside. Evangelical voters in Iowa torpedoed Mitt Romney's campaign in January and hobbled the best chance for a white horse. Months after Mormon Republicans had worked through that disappointment, presidential nominee John McCain raised their hopes again when he tapped his former opponent to trundle across the country as his proxy, happily swiping at the Democrats. For the record, Romney has four houses - one less than John Kerry.

Utah Democratic Party leaders breathed a collective sigh of relief when McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But there's a gray cloud hanging over the Republican two-thirds of the state. The blogosphere is angry. Sarah who?

McCain has chewed on Reid's conundrum and figured it out. He doesn't need to massage Romney voters. Miffed as they are, Mormon Republicans still will flock to the Grand Old Party come November. A Dan Jones/KSL-TV poll late last week found that 53 percent of Utahns polled believe Romney would have been a better choice for vice president. But 58 percent still planned to vote for McCain.

Kirk Jowers, a Romney supporter, says Utahns will come around to the strategy behind McCain's pick. "I wouldn't think that this pick would cause Mormon Republicans to vote for Obama if they were otherwise inclined to vote for McCain," says Jowers, director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. If not, there's abortion, gay rights and affirmative action to fall back on as an excuse.

As they do every year, Utah Democrats are trying to chip away at the foregone conclusion.

"I'm a Democrat who is pro-life. I'm a Democrat who believes marriage is between a man and a woman. I'm a Democrat who believes you can keep your gun. And I'm a Democrat who believes that health care is a right," says Bennion Spencer, a candidate in Utah's 3rd Congressional District, painting the gaps between himself and Republican Jason Chaffetz.

It never seems to work.

Two years ago, Democratic congressional candidate Steve Olsen wrote a 15-page treatise on the topic: Why Most Utahns Are Democrats But Just Don't Know It Yet. It was a futile effort; the Mormon bishop still lost to Republican incumbent Rob Bishop.

This year, Spencer has tried a similar tack. He's written a book about how Jesus might vote, tracing political thought back to the Beatitudes. Rather than release the book before the election as Olsen did, Spencer will wait. He tries to explain his philosophy using secular words. "Our issues and our policies have to transcend partisanship," says the former TV reporter and international-relations teacher. "If we can get our message to people, they'll listen and they'll start processing. It becomes logical."

Well, I'll answer that question. It's simple. Jesus Christ is a Republican! A big business, war profiteer, conservative, eco-unfriendly Republican.

There....that's settled.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Just because it's made up doesn't mean it isn't true

That's the doublethink required to believe in the Book of Mormon. A horse is a deer, Nephi and his family took over a major civilization without any struggle from the Mayans Aztecs or Incas and the gold plates were not made of gold but a similar metal.

The Hill Cumorah isn't the Hill Cumorah, Nephi cut off a guys head, put on his cloths and no one noticed all the blood; God ordered people to build a bunch of cigar shaped submarines to cross the ocean (wonder where all the animal manure went?).

How do logical people believe such things? Because they prayed about it and got a very strong feeling that it was true and that it really happened. Fiction becomes true history. Mormons begin to see things the rest of us don't but since they are generally nice people, no one really needs to bother them about it.

The problem comes when they try and convince others that their magical delusion is real. That Nephites and Lamanites were real people despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Believe as you like. If you wish to believe Middle Earth is a real place and that the Sith are dangerous go ahead. But don't get offended when those of us who live in reality dismiss your fantasy as nonsense.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Interesting letter to the editor

This from a reader of a Idaho newspaper:

Learn all you can about LDS before conversion

I have followed the editorials and letters regarding the dedication of the LDS temple and other church members who passed out leaflets. Some of those critical of the other church members may be missing a major point. I have great admiration for my Latter-day Saint friends. It is not that their beliefs differ from traditional Christianity that bothers me; we all have differences. But it is the way that they present - or fail to present - those beliefs that is troubling.

Had I known the "deeper" teachings of Mormonism, about how God became a god and how other men may become gods, I likely would not have converted. Had I fully understood their unique view of the origin of Jesus and his role today, I likely would not have joined. If I had understood the ritual that takes place inside the temple (some of which have been removed since I was LDS), I may not have joined. I would not have devoted eight years of my life to the church, including two years overseas on a mission. And I would have not had to experience the emotional trauma of an excommunication and the pain of disappointing Mormon friends I loved.

True, it was partly my responsibility to learn more about LDS theology, but the missionaries and even church members are reluctant to discuss these sensitive but important distinctions. As an LDS missionary, I was instructed not to delve into these teachings with prospective converts. Perhaps those distributing literature were trying to make others aware of the key differences between the LDS faith and other faiths so that when people do decide to become LDS, they do so having a complete understanding of all the church holds sacred. It's good to hear all sides before making a life-changing decision.


Amen, Gene...Amen!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Lord needs some more cash....or anything else you might have.

The Lord needs your money! He'll take 10, 20, 50 or 100%. Just take a look here.

I found some interesting things on the FAQ:

If I don't have much cash, can I still participate?
Yes. Many people in your circumstances make significant gifts with assets such as real estate, stocks, and bonds. You might consider some of these commonly used methods:
Outright Gifts of Securities and Real Estate. You might incur large tax liabilities by selling appreciated securities and real estate. However, you can reduce your tax liability and build the kingdom at the same time by giving the securities and real estate directly to a Church-sponsored institution or program.
Bargain Sale. A Church-sponsored institution will purchase the asset at a bargain price. The gift you give is the difference between the sale price and the fair market value of the property.
Remainder Interest Deed. This deed allows you to retain the use of your personal residence during your lifetime. At your death, the property is passed to the program you specify. This type of gift would provide you with an immediate income tax deduction.
What if I still need income to take care of my physical needs?
Your situation is more common than you might suppose. There are many types of plans you can set up to meet your needs and still make contributions to Church-sponsored entities. A Charitable Gift Annuity allows you to transfer assets to the program or institution of your choice in exchange for a lifetime annuity. Annuity payments can begin now or in the future, at your request. A Pooled Income Fund allows several people of modest means to participate in a trust agreement by pooling their gifts. In this type of fund, each participant receives an income for his or her lifetime. When a contributor dies, his or her portion of the fund principal goes to a program specified by that individual. A Charitable Life Income Trust enables you to place an asset in trust, directing the income to yourself or a beneficiary for a specified term or for life. At the end of the trust term, any remaining assets and income go to the Church-sponsored program or institution of your choice.

I also noticed that they don't have any charts or graphs that point out where the money goes. Maybe to help people or maybe to help build their new billion dollar shopping mall. I don't know and neither does anyone else. Yet if you are going to hand over everything you have earned, shouldn't they tell you exactly where you money is going.

I've found this is a very touchy subject for Mormons because they can't even conceive that their leaders would not be totally honest with them about financial matters. What they don't understand (or want to understand)is that without a system of oversight humans will do naughty things with other people's money and it doesn't matter if they claim to piety and righteousness as their sole guide.

Every time I see stuff like this I'm reminded of the words of the late George Carlin:

Religion convinced the world that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there's 10 things he doesn't want you to do or else you'll be sent to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! ...And he needs money! He's all powerful, but he can't handle money!

Kolob mining stock anyone?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mormonism claims another victim

This time it's the sister of Richard Packham. Unable to deal with the stress and demands of Mormon "perfection" she took her own life. Richard has helped so many people get out of Mormonism and find happy lives. It's a terrible shame that he could not pry his own sister from the grasp of the Beast.

My sincere condolences go out to him.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Following the Prophet: How it works

We've discussed Spencer Kimball and his infamous advice on having children: Don't worry if you are in college, don't worry if you are not prepared...just live together as husband and wife and let the children come.

So this is how following the prophet works- if you do this and everything turns out okay, then it just proves that following the prophet brings blessings. But what if it does not work out. I found this post by a young woman who followed Kimball's advice:

I'm 23 years old, pregnant with our second. I married my husband at the age of 18, jumping into a relationship with him after a horribly abusive relationship with a different young man, one I stayed with because when I asked my BYU single's ward bishop for help, he said I "wasn't sorry enough yet" and needed to repent. With that response, I was sure no one would help me.

My husband is a very nice man, but we're just starting to get on our feet financially, after following the advice given to BYU students by a member of the twelve while we were there, and not waiting to start a family. We soon found, though, that it's easier said then done, especially if both your families can't afford to help you, you have massive health problems while pregnant, and your Wymount ward looks the other way, unless they're upset at you for missing church.

Interesting, too, that while the church is telling college kids to get married and have kids, Utah law meant that as full-time students, we were unable to get any real help from the government, something we tried as a last resort. In the end, we left with my husband barely graduating, us in debt, and me being forced to drop out of school, while sick and pregnant, and then go waitress at Dennys so we could survive.

Looks like old Kimball's "prophetic advice" was a bust here...right? WRONG!

In Mormonism, it's not the leaders who fail... you fail.

You did something wrong, you were not righteous enough, you didn't go to the temple enough, you were not humble, you failed to have Family Home Evening or didn't pay tithing or do your visiting teaching or you didn't ________ enough.

At any rate...if you follow the prophet and it does not work out for you just's your fault!