Wednesday, February 23, 2011
"SOME THINGS THAT ARE TRUE ARE NOT USEFUL"
This picture really says a lot to me. On the left, of course, is a man who has uncovered the truth... but on the right is another man (presumably a "leadership" type ala Mormonism) quickly trying to shovel dirt back over the truth, saying "Some things that are true are not useful." From what I have been able to find, this is a quote by Boyd K. Packer from a talk entitled "Do Not Spread Disease Germs!" (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1981). In this talk, Boyd K. Packer went on to say, "I have come to believe that it is the tendency for many members of the Church who spend a great deal of time in academic research to begin to judge the Church, its doctrine, organization, and leadership, present and past, by the principles of their own profession.... In my mind it ought to be the other way around...." Also, in that talk, he continued by saying, "Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now....there is no such thing as an accurate or objective history of the Church which ignores the Spirit.... Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer..."
To me, these statements from BKP's talk speak volumes about Mormon Church history. For him to admit that studying Mormon Church history "may be a faith destroyer" is very telling. Of course, he prefaces that statement by saying that if the history is "not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer," but of course the use of the word "properly" is subjective. The standards by which he is defining the study of history are Mormon in nature. Of course, human nature is to question things, to be curious, but Mormonism attempts to stifle those innate tendencies completely - and is very successful in doing so as far as many, many people are concerned.
On a blog entitled Not Very Useful Truth, I found the following statement: "That I am totally enamored with the church now that my perspective has changed feels to many as if I am simply raging, but the reality is that the church is far more fascinating now that the sanitized and dogmatic presentation is transparent and the ugly warts are exposed. The history is absorbing and feels so alive - there is so much more appeal in the complicated mess as opposed to the faith promoting spin the church sells. It boggles my mind when I am told to put aside my interest in the real history and focus only on the positive when the "positive" is so often distilled to remove the impurities. As I have said before, the real history is not a secret and becoming ever harder to hide for the curious and thoughtful member, but that history will feel like a slap in the face when stumbled upon in Google after being told something entirely different for years and years."
This statement brings up so much of what I have felt over the years since discovering the real history of the Mormon Church. Finding out that I had been fed a white-washed and sanitized version of its history over the years definitely felt like a slap in the face. My journey away from Mormonism began in 2001, and even though I was able to find certain things, I was still reticent to explore too far on the internet because of the programming and brainwashing imposed on me since childhood. Was I looking at anti-Mormon propaganda? Was I falling into a trap? Was I believing information that wasn't true? Was I looking at it all from the wrong perspective? All of those questions, as well as many others, riddled my mind for a very long time. That is why it took me over 3 years to finally disassociate myself from the Mormon Church completely. I kept thinking that I must be misunderstanding it all - that I must be wrong because no one would lie like that. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I came to the conclusion that what I was discovering was indeed the truth, and what I had believed since childhood was just a web of lies.
In fact, after being away from the church for over 3 years, I suddenly discovered Polyandry. I had researched a lot about the truth behind Polygamy and was very distressed by its realities. The fact that Joseph Smith had 33 wives (when I didn't even realize that he had been involved in Polygamy, instead believing what I had been told about Brigham Young starting polygamy to help widows and orphans on the Trek West). Fanny Alger, who was Joseph Smith's second wife and first polygamous wife (and the fact that Oliver Cowdery called Joseph Smith's liaison with her not Polygamy but a "dirty, filty, nasty affair"). Teenage brides (10 of them), including Helen Mar Kimball (14 years old) who was obviously coerced into marrying Joseph Smith by him telling her that if she married him, she would assure the eternal salvation of herself and her entire family (and was given 24 hours to give him her answer). The stories of the Partridge sisters and the Lawrence sisters. And on and on and on, ad nauseum.
So when I discovered the very disturbing fact that Joseph Smith had married 11 women who were already married to living husbands, I was dumbfounded. It still upsets me that I spent 52 years in the Mormon Church and had never heard about polyandry. But there was the evidence - right on the Mormon Church's own genealogy website, http://www.familysearch.org/. Names like Lucinda Morgan Harris, Zina Huntington Jacobs, Prescendia Huntington Buell, Sylvia Sessions Lyon, Mary Rollins Lightner and others jumped out at me, and when I looked at their pedigree charts, I was blown away to discover that they had married Joseph Smith even though they were already married to other men - men who were living, who they had neither buried nor divorced. How was this acceptable? This was adultery, plain and simple. Religiously condoned adultery. Of course, it went against D&C 132 in its entirety, but it is obvious that Joseph Smith became so egotistical and comfortable in his position as a "Prophet of God," that he felt he could get away with anything. And this practice of Polyandry is a prime example.
Of course, there were people who tried to go against Joseph Smith about Polygamy and Polyandry - including Oliver Cowdery and William Law, but they were promptly excommunicated for going against Joseph Smith as a "Prophet of God." In fact, Joseph Smith's death was undeniably linked to Polygamy and Polyandry since it was after William Law had published the Nauvoo Expositor, exposing Joseph Smith's practice of Polygamy and Polyandry, and Joseph Smith ordering the destruction of the printing press and the burning of the building in which it was housed, that he was arrested and placed in Carthage Jail. So although I had grown up and spent my entire life believing what I had been told about Joseph Smith being a religious martyr, the truth is that he was simply a criminal - and that is why he was in Carthage Jail when the mob stormed the jail and killed both Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. Interestingly, I recently discovered that Joseph Smith actually had a gun during that shoot-out (that gun having been smuggled into the jail by Cyrus H. Wheelock who handed it to Joseph). In all my years in the church, I had never heard that story. But then, so much of what is told about the early days of the Mormon Church is mythical - just the "going like a lamb to the slaughter" line that is attributed to Joseph Smith as he was being taken to Carthage Jail, which is obviously completely untrue.
These are the types of things that the Mormon Church apparently sees as being "not useful truths." They expect their members to simply accept their version of things and not question anything. And if they do question, when they are given "the answer," they are supposed to accept it and not question anymore. While I in essence did exactly that for a very long time, I finally got the point where I could no longer simply accept what I was being told. I wish I had reached that point earlier in my life, but I'm very glad I finally reached it at all. Sadly, there are many people in the Mormon Church who will never reach that point, who will blindly go along their entire lives, accepting everything they are told. And that is very sad, indeed.