Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HEAVEN... or HELL???

This is an interesting sign.

HEAVEN up - and HELL down.

Contemplating this picture, I have to say that if given the choice between these two "final destinations," I would have to pick HELL... particularly if Heaven is the Mormon version...

Mormon heaven = Celestial Kingdom.

As Billy Joel said in his song, "Only the Good Die Young"...

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait,
Some say it's better but I say it ain't,
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints,
The sinners are much more fun...

I totally agree.  Heaven (or the Celestial Kingdom as coined by Joseph Smith) sounds extremely boring with a bunch of Mormons sitting around, reading scriptures.

And the procreating that would be going on.

All that polygamy and no birth control.

Way too many kids, and no Ritalin to be found.  Seriously.


Naturally, we all have preconceived notions about what Heaven is like as opposed to Hell.

HEAVEN is usually depicted as being in the clouds, serene and peaceful.  Everyone dressed in white with angels flying around. 

HELL, on the other hand, is normally pictured as a burning fire of brimstone where everyone will suffer endless torture - the Devil ever present with his pitchfork to help keep control of the masses.

It's interesting to consider different images of HELL and the way it is depicted in various forms.  One of the funniest images of HELL is from Far Side cartoons.  Here's just a few...


Some people can be happy anywhere.  This guy is apparently completely oblivious to the fact that he is in HELL.  The eternal optimist, making the best of a bad situation.  Missing the point entirely.

And the one below has always made me laugh.  Of course, part of the humor for me comes from feeling this way too many times in my life - particularly in one very long-term job I had in Los Angeles working for an abusive boss... and in one of my marriages.  Enough said. 


Of course, no one living knows what HEAVEN and HELL are really like.  One day, we will all find out if either one really exists or if they are both a figment of someone's imagination (into which a lot of people have bought).  I mean, really... when you look at life from a non-religious point of view, things really start to appear differently in many respects, and especially in regard to the purpose of life and the nature of death.  Things don't seem so ominous to me now.  And everything doesn't seem quite so serious as I was lead to believe when I was an active Mormon.

Since leaving Mormonism and organized religion behind, I now consider myself to be Agnostic and really don't know what to believe anymore.  Part of me wants to believe in God and Heaven (just not the Mormon version), and another part of me thinks that perhaps after this life is over, we all cease to exist.  Interestingly, that thought doesn't scare me at all.  For some reason, I was much more frightened and tenuous about afterlife types of questions when I was Mormon.  Probably because I always dreaded the Mormon version of Heaven - the Celestial Kingdom (one of Joseph Smith's inventions).


Here's another very funny Far side cartoon.  Gary Larsen has such an interesting view on things, doesn't he?  I've always loved his cartoons and was very disappointed when he retired in 1995.  But during his career, he produced some very funny cartoons (albeit off-beat), which were also very thought-provoking.  Depicting harps as the musical instrument of choice in Heaven, and accordions as the assigned instrument in Hell.  Very funny. 

But regardless of what our opinions are about life and death, in the end, we will all "shuffle off this mortal coil."  Of course, that term is from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which contains the "To be or not to be" soliloquy.

William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be (from Hamlet)

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?  To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

Shakespeare offers interesting thoughts on life and the nature of death.  The last part of that soliloquy is especially thought-provoking:  "...the dread of something after death, the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?"  Similar to tolerating the devil we know as opposed to the devil we don't know. 

And what more can be said after Shakespeare has weighed in?
With a few Far Side cartoons thrown in for good measure...

Monday, March 21, 2011

TERRIFYING IMAGES


This picture creates a truly frightening image.  To think that there is someone driving around Utah in this car is a very scary thought.  And to think that this person is apparently also a parent is very scary as well.  Truly, some people should not be parents (a definite case in point of the saying "Just because a person can reproduce doesn't mean they should").  At first, I was caught by the full picture of this car and the terrifying overall image that it creates.  But then I started to look at each individual bumper sticker... and I became even more terrified...

There’s a few I can’t make out completely – like the one that says, “I’d rather be __________” (but I can’t make out the ending).  Another one says “Don’t forget to have Jobs (or have kids?).”  And there’s two or three that I can’t make out at all.  But based on the nature of the rest of these bumper stickers, I’m sure those are just as outlandish and controversial as the others. Truly, I feel very sorry for this person’s children.

Utah license plate with BYU logo and RULDS2
OK, I get it.  You're Mormon.  But you're not only Mormon, you're extreme right-wing Mormon verging on total fanaticism.

Keep Utah Peculiar
Oh, I don't think there's much likelihood of Utah not remaining peculiar, especially with people like this around, driving cars "decorated" like this one.

Beehive State
Utah, the Beehive State, as named by Brigham Young.  A bunch of busy little bees.  Oh yes, this is the place - for a lot of lunatics.

LDS – fish and bumper sticker
Yes, like I said, I get it -- you're LDS...  Mormon... and you like to announce that fact boldly to the world.

Families are Forever
A threat, apparently.  Thankfully, I'm not part of this family.

This Family is Kolob Bound
Ah yes, Kolob... a completely unique Mormon concept.  According to the Book of Abraham which Joseph Smith "translated" from Egyptian papyri, Kolob is the heavenly body nearest to the throne or residence of God.  Of course, Joseph Smith's "translation" is not supported by modern Egytologists.  Thank you, Joseph Smith, for making up this imaginary place - and for giving inspiration to W. W. Phelps who wrote the hymn, "If You Could Hie to Kolob."  One of my favorites.  NOT.

YBU
I guess this means BYU - Brigham Young University - although I'm not sure why the letters are jumbled.  There must be some hidden meaning of which I'm not aware.

Home School – leaving values to the family
Truly, I can't imagine being this person's child let alone being home schooled by him/her. 

WWJD – What would Joseph Do?
Good question.  What would Joseph (Smith) do?  Well, I know what he did.  He made up a religion to gain money and power, and to have his way with all kinds of women (33 in total), including 11 teenaged-girls and 10 women who were already married to living husbands (called polyandry).  He also "translated" gold plates to create the Book of Mormon - and he translated Egyptian papyri to create the Book of Abraham (from which we get the gem of Kolob and other "important doctrine").  He also supposedly had numerous revelations which he compiled into the Doctrine & Covenants - and in that compilation, he included "revelation" about polygamy.  He did forget, however, to include the whole polyandry thing in there - but then he was a Prophet of God so he could do whatever he wanted to do.  And even though he was the Prophet of the Restoration, he was also a "Rough Stone Rolling" as explained by Richard Bushman, so he was still human and made mistakes.  Talk about rationalization.

I ♥ Joseph Smith
Yeah, 33 women ♥'d Joseph Smith and married him - and a bunch more were "sealed" to him as his polygamous wives in the eternities.  Personally, I don't think there's much to ♥ Joseph Smith about.

I’m in Joseph Smith’s Devil Disciples – 1 - 800 - LDS-SCAM
What?  Seriously?  This person is obviously deranged. 

10 Cow Wife
Yeah, sure you are.  Whatever you want to believe, honey.

Jesus Saves
This is followed by some wording that I can't make out.  I just hope Jesus didn't save at the Kirtland Bank.

Sign with red slash mark across the images of two gay men
Of course, it's only appropriate for this person to bring homophobia into this mind-boggling array of bumper stickers.  Maybe this car belongs to the wife or daughter of Boyd K. Packer.

Something or other about the Sanctity of Marriage
(with another red slash across the images of two gay men)
OK, more of the same.  Truly, I don't understand how two people of the same sex getting married is going to destroy the "sacred institution of marriage."  But this person was told to believe that so they do.

Amway
It is only appropriate that an organization like Amway is included in this mish-mash.

Shaklee
Ditto.  Same as above.

Yellow ribbon – Support our Troops
This is probably the only sane sticker on this car.

W ‘04
Of course, looking at all the rest of the stickers on this car, it follows that this person is a Republican.  But not only a Republican - a Republican ala Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of the right-wing crazies.

Anybody but Hillary
And yes, it follows that this person would be anti-Hillary Clinton.  But what does this really say?  Anybody but Hillary.  Really?  Anybody?

Cheney / Voldemort ‘08
Oh, good idea.  Dick Cheney as President with his Vice Presidential running mate as Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes' character in Harry Potter).  If there was any doubt whatsoever that this person is delusional, this bumper sticker settles the question once and for all.

Of course, fanaticism in any area is harmful.  As the old saying goes, moderation in all things is best.  And driving a car around with all these bumper stickers on it definitely portrays fanatical points of view, at least in my opinion.  I'm just glad this car doesn't belong to any acquaintance of mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"BORN AND RAISED MORMON"

I used to very proudly say that I was "Born and Raised Mormon."  But now, that fact seems very detrimental to me.  Perhaps when a person is born and raised in any religion, they tend to just go along from an early age, accepting everything at face value.  Never digging deeper to find out what's really behind the curtain.  Never really thinking about it all or asking any in-depth questions.  Of course, that scenario may not be true for some "Born and Raised Mormons" or some people in other religions, but unfortunately, it was very true for me - and that is something of which I am not proud at all.  There's simply no excuse for ignorance.

Of course, there is the aspect of brainwashing involved.  Being programmed from a very early age.  Being told that something is true from the time of your earliest memories tends to distort reality and make what you are told seem absolutely real and genuine.  And since in the Mormon Church, people are told to only read and study materials that are "authorized," the extent of materials to which most Mormons are exposed is very limited.

Naturally, the term "propaganda" comes to mind.  Although the Mormon Church looks at anything written contrary to what the Mormon Church teaches to be "anti-Mormon propaganda" when much of it is simply highlighting the truth as it really is, pointing out the lies, deception and contradictions that are blatant within Mormon doctrine and history. 


But in reality, the Mormon Church is steeped in the "propaganda" realm.  The church dishes out "propaganda" on a regular basis to its members until their minds are so cluttered with it all that it is difficult to sort out what is true from what is not.  Fast and Testimony Meeting is a prime example of "propaganda" and "brainwashing."  Seeing all those people stand up in church on the first Sunday of every month and say the same rote phrases (like "I know the truth is true beyond a shadow of a doubt" and "I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God") is a very calculated way of indoctrinating the masses and creating "sheeple," something Mormonism seems to have down to a science.

When I read the following quote, it really hit me:
"The oblique paradox of propaganda is that the lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart."  ~John Grierson
Of course, this is what the Mormon Church is counting on.  Repeating deceitful church doctrines and teachings, over and over again.  And through this process, these fallacies seep into the core of all of its members.  If you tell a person something often enough and long enough, it becomes their reality - and to them, it is true.


It wasn't until 2001, a couple of months prior to going on a Mormon Church History tour, that I began to research the truth behind Mormonism.  At first, I simply wanted to know more about church history prior to going on the trip so I would be more "well-versed" when I visited the key places.  But once I began discovering the truth behind the facade, and I began to look at materials which shed new light on much of what I had believed since childhood, that I began to realize that what I had been told was simply not true. 

One by one, I began to discover the truth about polygamy, polyandry, the differing versions of the First Vision (totaling at least nine), the truth behind why Joseph Smith was arrested and incarcerated in Carthage Jail as well as his supposed "martyrdom," the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, Blacks and the Priesthood, and on and on - and as I did, I began to realize how blind I had been over the years.  At that point, the following quote began to take on new meaning - "There are none so blind as those who will not see." (Attributed to Thomas Chalkley, circa 1713, but most likely based on the Biblical verse in Jeremiah 5:21, "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.")


In everyone's lifetime, people occasionally come upon pivotal moments or crossroads.  As Robert Frost said in his poem "The Road Not Taken": 
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

Very poignant poem that makes a very profound point.  It reminds me of a few experiences in my life, but most vividly brings to mind my journey away from Mormonism. 

So from 2001 to 2004, I found myself at a very pivotal point in my life - a definite crossroads - as I struggled with what I had been taught and had believed my entire life.  At first, I was very confused as fear and doubt took over my psyche.  After all, I was ripping up and examining the very foundation of my life since Mormonism had always been practically my identity.  But at times, I would feel hope and wonderment, and that's what kept me going on the path toward final acceptance of the fact that I had been living a lie.  When I found the graphic rendering posted here, it really hit home since these are the emotions I dealt with during this time frame.

In the end, though, as I sorted through all of the information I had uncovered along with all of these emotions, I began to realize that I couldn't reverse the process through which I had gone.  I couldn't go back in time to return to the state of blissful ignorance I had dwelled in for so long.  Of course, when I was still Mormon, I had some questions and issues (such as the role of women in the church and what I perceived as a double standard), but I had successfully put those things on my "shelf" up until that point.  But as I came to terms with this newly-discovered information, I was unable to put anything more on my "shelf," and it all came tumbling down.


In looking back at my life, I do have some regrets.  One of my regrets is that I didn't become more intellectually curious at an earlier time in my life.  Perhaps if I had researched the doctrines, teachings and history of the Mormon Church in more detail and on an independent basis, not relying solely on what I was told or read from "authorized" sources, I would have discovered the truth much earlier.  Unfortunately, I spent 52 years as a Mormon simply because I paid too much attention to what they told me to believe.  One of my other regrets is that I did not tell my father that I had disassociated myself from the Mormon Church before he passed away.  He died in May 2006, and although I left the church in 2004, I never told him that I had left the church - and why.  Of course, since he was 90 years old in 2004, I knew that if I told him, that it would very possibly drive a wedge between us since he was very pious and dogmatic about Mormonism.  So that was my rationale.  And since he lived in Utah and I lived in California, it was rather easy to live that charade.

But still, although I regret not telling my father about my apostasy and why I left the church, I am grateful that I am now living a completely authentic life.  And of course, getting caught up in the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" mindset only succeeds in putting negative vibes in a person's life, so I have shed all of that and am moving forward with a positive attitude.  Finally being true to who I really am - and not living a lie.  And that's enough for me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"APOSTATES" and "ANTI-MORMON PROPAGANDA"

The term "apostate" is a label with very negative connotations, like the term "anti" (as in "anti-Mormon propaganda").  In my opinion, using that label is one of the ways that the higher-ups try to control the masses.  Terming something "anti" makes all Mormons cringe, and they usually immediately condemn the person "spouting the anti-Mormon propaganda" as they begin to defend their religion.  Defending one's beliefs is fine as long as those beliefs are defendable, but in the case of most Mormons, they simply repeat what they are told to believe, not beliefs that they have formed through any independent study.

Since it is independent study from "unauthorized sources" that eventually led me away from Mormonism, I question even more than I would have previously as to why those sources are termed "unauthorized" when they do not tell lies, but rather the truth.  But then, since the Mormon Church tends to play very fast and loose with the truth, relying on its version of things is not wise.  Looking at that "directive" not to do "research from unauthorized sources" also brings up the very strong possibility that the Mormon Church is actually a cult since that is one of the characteristics of cultism.  If an organization is above board in their doctrines and teachings then research from "unauthorized sources" shouldn't make any difference.  But if that organization directs its members to only research and study from materials they authorize, red flags should go up immediately.

So many Mormons truly believe that looking at "unauthorized" information leads to APOSTASY, and since they are told that apostasy is the most abhorrent sin, they steer clear of any materials considered to be "anti," including information that would shed light on the reality behind it all.  But if indeed "the Glory of God is intelligence," then true believing Mormons are also denying the validity of that statement.


Sadly, most Mormons will never be able to look beyond the "anti" label to get to the core of the lies perpetuated by the LDS Church.  The internet contains links to a plethora of information that shows without any doubt that the Mormon Church is not true, but most Mormons will never even read or consider this information because of the "anti" label given to it.  Truth is but a click away -- and to paraphrase a popular Mormon scripture, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of Google."

But while Mormonism is obviously built on an elaborate web of lies, so many people continue to go along with it, defending its deceptions and contradictions, claiming to believe in it all "by faith."  I simply don't understand their logic, because when the facts contradict what a person is told to believe by faith, it is not faith anymore, but rather denial.

I am so glad that I finally saw the light and realized that the Mormon Church is not only untrue, but that its teachings and doctrines are detrimental to my mental health and well-being.  Blindly following things that you are told to believe is not healthy.  Doing your own research and deciding on your own is the best course of action for any person.  Rationalizing out the lies, deceptions, cover-ups and contradictions only leads to accepting things that eat away at your ability to think for yourself and formulate your own opinions. 


Making a 180 and turning away from Mormonism was the best thing I ever did.  I do not regret for one second being an "apostate" despite its negative connotations in religious circles.  I only wish I had apostatized much earlier in my life.  Hanging on to thoughts and ideas simply because I was told to do so was killing me inside.  That type of conformity creates a mind-numbing existence that is very difficult to reverse. 

Being born and raised Mormon, I was programmed from a very early age to not question, to have faith, to just believe.  Once I reached my teenage years, though, I began to question not only the doctrine but also the way in which women are treated as second-class citizens.  But being the good little Mormon clone that I was back then, I shelved all those thoughts and tried to continue to go along with the program for many more years.



So when you get right down to it, I guess I was a "future apostate" for many years before becoming one in reality.  And as shown in this picture, it isn't very hard to spot the "future apostate" since they are the ones who tend to look in the other direction from the masses, looking for answers to complex questions, instead of just going along (like the "sheeple" tend to do).  But although I probably was a "future apostate" for many years, I wish that I had begun to question more deeply earlier in my life.  Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda, I suppose...

But even so, I'm just glad I finally recognized the truth when I did instead of simply going along with all the lies all my entire life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MORMON BRAINWASHING AT ITS BEST


Oh yes, the brainwashing within Mormonism is endless... and it starts at a very early age. People sit in Fast & Testimony meeting (first Sunday of every month), and when little children such as this little girl get up, they think "Oh, how cute."  And yes, it is cute... just adorable.  But it is also very disturbing because the children are simply parroting what they are told at home and in church.  These thoughts, of course, settle in their brains - and all of that, along with the programming they get at home and in Primary (the children's organization in the Mormon Church) with lessons and "singing time," the brainwashing starts to take full effect, as it becomes embedded in their brains.  Between being taught Primary songs like "Search, Ponder and Pray," "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," "The Golden Plates," and "Book of Mormon Stories," and the constant lessons about various religious themes, most very Mormon in nature, the programming takes root.  And before long -- voilà, they are brainwashed.  The next generation of Morgbots.


Looking back, I don't know what is more upsetting to me... the fact that I was brainwashed as a child, or the fact that I essentially participated in the brainwashing of my daughter.  Naturally, since I was “born under the covenant” (a Mormon term for anyone who is born to parents who have been sealed in the Mormon temple) and married in the temple to her father, my daughter was also “born under the covenant.”  And yes, she used to get up in Fast & Testimony meeting and bear her testimony (just like I did when I was a child and as an adult).  That image is burned into my brain, and it really bothers me.

The thing that bothers me the most, though, is that if I had followed my instincts, I would have stopped being Mormon before my daughter was even baptized – and that would have been over 20 years ago.  At that point in my life, I had already begun to realize many of the negative influences of Mormonism in my life, including the fact that the Mormon Church is a male-oriented, male-dominated, double-standard religious institution that brainwashes its members and uses guilt to try to control them.  I had also begun to question whether I wanted my daughter to be brought up any further in the Mormon Church, and I had begun to think about not having her baptized when she turned 8 years old.  It was with those thoughts in mind that I stopped going to church when my daughter was 7 years old around the time that I married my second, non-Mormon husband, and I didn't go or take my daughter to church for over 6 months.  But unfortunately, the guilt began seeping in and I began to realize that if I didn't have her baptized, I would be making a public pronouncement of having left Mormonism – and because my father was very pious and dogmatic about Mormonism, and I was afraid to tell him (even though he lived in Utah and I lived in California), I began taking my daughter to church again and had her baptized when she turned 8.  For that, I could kick myself to this day.

Luckily, though, my daughter realized that Mormonism is a pile of garbage on her own, when she was a teenager (although she continued to go not only to church but also to 4 years of early-morning Seminary) – and she finally stopped going to church when she was 21.  As it turned out, she and I had parallel, but separate, journeys away from Mormonism – hers while she was living on her own, going to school in Salt Lake City, Utah (in an apartment that is only 5 blocks from Temple Square), and mine at home in California.  When she came back from Utah, I decided to tell her that I had abandoned Mormonism because I didn't want to pretend that I was still going to church – and when I told her, I could see the relief on her face before she told me the same thing.  When I began telling her my reasons, including the fact that I had discovered so many lies and contradictions, she literally finished my sentences for me, showing that she had discovered a lot of the same things as I had.   It was very much a bonding moment, and I will never forget it. 

One of the funniest parts of my daughter opening up to me about her long-term doubts about Mormonism was her description of me as "Mormon Mommy."  When I told her that I had disassociated myself from the LDS Church, she told me that she was very happy that “Mormon Mommy” had gone away.  Apparently, she always dreaded it when I would become "adamant" about various aspects of Mormonism (calling that aspect of my personality “Mormon Mommy”), and liked me much better during the times when I relaxed and was less concerned about it all.  It really made me laugh – but it also made me examine myself and the way it which I had appeared, not only to her but to others.  That revelation really made a deep impact on me, and has been invaluable to me over the years.


Naturally, active Mormons deny that brainwashing or programming takes place within the Mormon Church just as they deny that Mormonism is actually a cult.  But it becomes very apparent when reading about the characteristics of cults, and its definition, that Mormonism is the epitome of cultism.  Denying the obvious is useless.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

CIRCULAR REASONING


I've been doing some research about this topic lately, and I find it to be a very interesting subject.  Of course, since beginning my journey away from Mormonism, the process of reasoning, thinking, analyzing, evaluating and arriving at my own conclusion has become much more vivid in my mind.  For so many years, I just went along - and I was sadly caught in the never-ending cycle of Circular Reasoning.  Breaking away from that vicious cycle was difficult, as was leaving the Mormon mindset behind, but the benefits have been numerous.  Knowing that I am thinking for myself now, and that I am living an authentic life, is a huge reward.

When looking at the FAIR and FARMS websites, I can now see just how deeply Mormon apologists are caught in a cycle of Circular Reasoning.  Since their initial premise which underlies everything they say or think is that "the Mormon Church is the only true church on the face of the earth," they bend each fact to that end.  And when they seem caught, they simply bear their testimony.  Now that solves everything, doesn't it?

Independent, unbiased deliberation requires abandoning all preconceived notions, but since they do not leave anything on the table before beginning their studies, it is not possible for them to reach an unbiased opinion.  They close their minds before even beginning the process of "studying" the question - and they have arrived at their conclusion before beginning the "analysis" as well. 

A classic example of Circular Reasoning was apparent to me when I told my very TBM brother that I was no longer going to church.  Of course, his first response was that "it's never too late" to return to the fold.  When I told him that I didn't want to "return," he said, "Well, it all boils down to whether or not you believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.  If you believe he was a Prophet of God, then the church is true.  But if you believe that he wasn't a Prophet of God, then the church is not true.  That being said, I believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and therefore the Church is true."  Circular Reasoning in a capsule.

On the Logical Fallacies website, the following is said about Circular Reasoning:
Begging the Question / Circular Reasoning
Explanation

An argument is circular if its conclusion is among its premises, if it assumes (either explicitly or not) what it is trying to prove. Such arguments are said to beg the question. A circular argument fails as a proof because it will only be judged to be sound by those who already accept its conclusion.

Anyone who rejects the argument’s conclusion should also reject at least one of its premises (the one that is the same as its conclusion), and so should reject the argument as a whole. Anyone who accepts all of the argument’s premises already accepts the argument’s conclusion, so can’t be said to have been persuaded by the argument. In neither case, then, will the argument be successful.

Example:
(1) The Bible affirms that it is inerrant.
(2) Whatever the Bible says is true.
Therefore:
(3) The Bible is inerrant.

This argument is circular because its conclusion—The Bible is inerrant—is the same as its second premise—Whatever the Bible says is true. Anyone who would reject the argument’s conclusion should also reject its second premise, and, along with it, the argument as a whole.

Real-World Examples
The above argument is a straightforward, real-world example of a circular argument. Other examples can be a little more subtle.

Typical examples of circular arguments include rights-claims: e.g., “I have a right to say what I want, therefore you shouldn’t try to silence me”; “Women have a right to choose whether to have an abortion or not, therefore abortion should be allowed”; “The unborn has a right to life, therefore abortion is immoral.”

Having a right to X is the same as other people having an obligation to allow you to have X, so each of these arguments begs the question, assuming exactly what it is trying to prove.
Of course, religion is an area in which Circular Reasoning is used to try to explain much of its rhetoric.  The statement that the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible tells us so, and since the Bible is infallible it is obviously the Word of God is a great example of Circular Reasoning. 

Naturally, though, when caught in the web of Circular Reasoning, particularly in a religious discussion, it is very difficult to make the other person see the errors in his/her line of thinking.  Knowing that the Bible is the Word of God simply because the Bible tells us so, and since the Bible is infalliable, it is therefore true is a mind-boggling statement.  Of course, many Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is true because they have been told it is true by their leaders, and since they believe their leaders are lead by God, they assume that nothing those leaders say or do could possibly be wrong.  Getting in these types of discussions can be very frustrating for a thinking human being.

On Yahoo Answers, the following question was asked:  "Is it circular reasoning to quote the Bible as proof of God?"

Here was the answer:  "If they could quote a verse of the Bible that describes an occurrence or a phenomena (that mere mortals could not have known) that was only later confirmed by an extra-biblical source, then the Bible may serve as evidence. But to date, I've only heard outrageous interpretations ("See this verse that says rivers don't fill up, that's clearly a reference to the complicated water cycle we only now understand") or blatant ignorance ("See this verse written a few years after this war, it predicted that war")."

Here's a few very good examples of Circular Reasoning, which I found on a discussion board on http://www.camaroz28.com/forums:
We're doing 10 minute presentations in English and I'm doing mine on fallacy number 21: Circular Reasoning.  For those who don't know what circular reasoning means, here's an example:
And one of the responses:
Is there a God?  Yes.
How do you know?  Because the Bible says so.
How do you know the Bible is correct?  Because it was inspired by God.

In other words - God is because God is.
And here's one of the responses:
Why don't atheists believe in God?
Because they have no faith.

Why do they have no faith?
Because they don't believe in God.

Hence, atheists don't believe in God because they have no faith, or they don't have faith because they have no belief.

Okay, here's another less inflammatory example.

I am rude and discourteous to women.
Why?  Because women are evil.

Why are women evil?
Because men are rude and discourteous to women.

Or how about this?

Did your significant other cheat on you?  When you ask them if they cheated, they said they didn't.  But you knew they were lying because all cheaters lie.

Basically assumption or conjecture is the mother of circular logic.
Interesting statement.  "Basically assumption or conjecture is the mother of circular logic."  Without any type of "proof," some religious people try to argue that God exists through circular logic.  It's one thing to say that they believe in God because they have faith in his existence, but it is another thing entirely to try to "prove" his existence through use of the Bible or other religious-based "evidence."  But Mormon apologists go several steps further in trying to "prove" that Mormonism is true.

While I overlooked the circular arguments for a very long time, and bought into Mormonism lock, stock and barrel, eventually I realized that the whole thing makes no sense.  And after doing extensive research, I finally realized that everything I had been taught since childhood was filled with lies and deception, as well as contradictions and cover-ups.  At that point, it felt as though my head was going to explode.  Since I had never really thought about it all before, I came to realize that those feelings were simply mind opening up to real thinking, examination, evaluation, interpretation and analysis.  Deciding for myself - not relying on what others had told me to believe.  At this point, I consider myself to be an Agnostic because I do not know one way or the other whether God exists, and I don't feel comfortable taking the leap to atheism because it may very well be that God does exist.  But whether he exists or not, I know for certain that the Mormon Church is NOT his "only true church on the face of the earth."

While I was doing research on Circular Reasoning, I came across some interesting information on http://www.urbandictionary.com/, which gives examples of Circular Reasoning as:
"I'm right because I'm right."

"There isn't a problem with the rule, because if everyone obeyed it there wouldn't be a problem."

"Piracy is wrong because it's against the law, and it's against the law because it's wrong."

"X is stupid because he's an idiot."
The Urban Dictionary website also gives a definition for "Circular Logic," reiterating the religious argument of:
Atheist: How do you know God exists?Believer: The Bible says so. Atheist: How do you know the Bible is the absolute truth?Believer: Because it came from God.Atheist: How do you know God exists?
and so on...

Some closing thoughts:  

It may have been better to say, "Circular reasoning"; circular logic strikes me as oxymoronic.
 
I don't use circular reasoning in my arguments. I know this because my arguments are never circular.

(Both of the above quotes were by "Wandering Soul," posted on http://www.religiousforums.com/, 1-23-2011, 2:30 pm).

A
nd just remember:

Circular reasoning is not logically valid because it isn't.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

THE BOOK OF MORMON MUSICAL ON BROADWAY


Leave it to the creators of South Park to bring The Book of Mormon to Broadway!!  Of course, this production is obviously causing all kinds of consternation amongst the "Big 15" in SLC - and I'm sure there are a lot of Mormons who are appropriately shocked.  But at this point in my "apostate" life, what the suits in SLC or Mormons in general think is the last thing on my mind.  Actually, I find the whole thing extremely amusing.  Having watched some clips from the BoM musical, as well as reading a number of articles, it is clear that this musical lives up to the hype of being not only controversial, but also irreverent and blasphemous.  Vogue Magazine called the show "the filthiest, most offensive, and - surprise - sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway this year, and quite possibly the funniest musical ever."

If anybody had told me when I was growing up that one day there would be a musical on Broadway about the Book of Mormon, I would have told them they were NUTS!!  But here it is in 2011... and isn't it GREAT!!!

HERE'S WORDING FROM THE SHOW'S WEBSITE:
From Trey Parker and Matt Stone, four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of South Park comes this hilarious Broadway musical about a pair of mismatched Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that’s about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get. The Book of Mormon is written in collaboration with Robert Lopez, the Tony Award-winning writer of Avenue Q, and co-directed by Mr. Parker and three-time Tony nominee Casey Nicholaw (Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone). Previews begin at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on February 24, 2011.

Contains explicit language.
http://www.bookofmormonbroadway.com/the-show   

HERE'S A COUPLE GREAT PROMOS FOR THE SHOW:






AND HERE'S AN INTERVIEW WITH THE CREATORS,
TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE
:




Of course, a lot of controversy about the Book of Mormon precedes this musical.  Back in the 1800's, when Mormonism made its debut in upstate New York, and then made its trek from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and then to Utah, Mark Twain (1835-1910) made some very interesting comments about Mormonism. 

The following is an excerpt from "Roughing It - A Personal Narrative," written by Mark Twain after a two-day stopover in Salt Lake City on his way to silver mines in Nevada.
All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few, except the elect have seen it or at least taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me. It is such a pretentious affair and yet so slow, so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print.
If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle. Keeping awake while he did it, was at any rate. If he, according to tradtion, merely translated it from certain ancient and myteriously engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone, in an out of the way locality, the work of translating it was equally a miracle for the same reason.
I love the "chloroform in print" comment.  Classic.



In another part of that article, Mark Twain went on to say:
Some people have to have a world of evidence before they can come anywhere in the neighborhood of believing anything, but for me when a man tells me that he has seen the engravings which are upon the plates and not only that, but an angel was there at the time and saw them see him and probably took his receipt for it, I am very far on the road to conviction no matter whether I have ever heard of that man before or not, and even if I do not know the name of the angel or his nationality either.
One of Mark Twain's final comments from the end of this section is as follows:
The Mormon Bible is rather stupid and tiresome to read. But there is nothing vicious in its teachings. Its code of morals is unobjectionable. It's smooched from the New Testament and no credit given.
 
Reading all his thoughts on Mormonism and the Book of Mormon (or the "Mormon Bible" as he calls it) makes me wonder what Mark Twain would think about this musical.  I would love to hear his comments today.  I'm sure what he would have to say would be CLASSIC!!

Of course, the Mormon Church released a statement about the Book of Mormon musical saying, "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."  Interesting.  Of course, since I believe that the Book of Mormon is not scripture, and is in fact plagiarized from other writings of the time (like View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith and manucripts written by Solomon Spalding), and that Joseph Smith wrote (not translated) the Book of Mormon with the help of Sydney Rigdon, the likelihood of it changing people's lives by bringing them closer to Christ is a fraudulent statement.  The Book of Mormon, after all, is a complete farce, as is the rest of Mormonism.

But at least Joseph Smith has provided us with the basis for some great entertainment.  And we can thank him for that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

WOMAN... BY 15 MORMON MEN???

This book cover has appeared in several places over the past couple of weeks, posted by various people on Facebook and some blogs (mostly ExMormons).   Of course, the fact that it was written by the 15 men listed (all Mormon leadership types) on the subject of WOMAN has garnered much ridicule (and rightfully so).  I mean really, this book cracks me up big time since these Mormon men attempt to explain the "role of woman"... according to Mormonism, of course.

Since this book was published in 1979, when I was only 28, it propels me back to the unrealistic expectations I felt so burdened by back then.  When I was growing up, I had a very conflicted view of what a woman's role should be in the world.  First, I had the Mormon Church telling me that a woman's place is in the home, that women should be "helpmeets" to their husbands, that they should bare as many children as the Lord gives them, that the woman sets the tone in the home, and so on.  Marriage is considered to be the ultimate goal of a woman -- and without her husband, she cannot be saved in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom (which is where all good Mormons strive to go after this life).  But on the other hand, I had my mother's example, which was in direct conflict with what the church said.  I'm not saying that she wasn't a good member of the church because she was - she served as Relief Society President when I was a teenager, and she held many other callings including Ward Choir Director, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and Stake Librarian (which was her calling at the time of her death).  My mother did everything "according to the book" except that she worked outside the home.  She was also a very strong, competent woman, and appeared to "wear the pants in our family."  By saying that, I'm not intimating that my father was a wimp or anything, or that he kowtowed to my mother, but it was apparent to me from an early age that my mother was much "stronger" than my father in many ways.  My mother was a career woman who also took care of our home, and while she cooked and cleaned and all that, so did my father.  On the surface, it appeared to be a "partnership" in which they shared the duties equally, but under that facade, I surmized that my mother was actually in charge.

When I got engaged to my first husband, I remember my mother telling me that if I married him, I would have to be the strong one.  That puzzled me at the time because I didn't understand what she was saying.  But looking back now, I see that she was right and knew what she was talking about, not only because she was a very good judge of character and saw that my first husband was not very strong in many ways, but also because she had been there.  She had to be the strong one in her marriage, and although I know she loved my father and that he loved her, there were many instances where her being the "strong one" became very apparent.

So in many ways, it's probably not all that surprising that I have become an "apostate."  My eventual apostasy from the church had to do with historical and doctrinal issues -- but I suppose when my life is examined, it is clear that I was never really "in the mold" of a typical Mormon woman.  Having my mother as my role model created that conflict to a certain degree, and I opted for the career woman path from an early age.  And while I got married at 22, I did not fulfill that "Mormon mandate" of motherhood until I was 30 when I had my one and only daughter.  My waiting to have children had to due with my first husband's lack of maturity and "fasincation" with pornography to the point where I didn't feel comfortable bringing children into our home.  And then, when I was about to turn 30, my biological clock went off and I decided that once we had a child, he would become more responsible, including curbing his fascination with pornography.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen and due to his irresponsible handling of the pornography, my daughter got exposed to pornography at a very early age.  So yes, my mother was right -- I did have to be the strong one in my first marriage in many ways.

While I have not read the subject book ("Woman") per se, I can imagine what it contains, mainly because there are many quotes on Womanhood out there by various Mormon leaders (who are men, of course).

Here are but a few
I sat this morning with some of my brethren who are among our most prominent leaders. One of the brethren said he had recently had requests from two sisters, at different times, asking if he would give them a special blessing so that they could have children. On inquiry he found that in their earlier married life they had refused to have children, and now, when they desire children, for some reason they can’t have them.
Another one of my brethren spoke up and said, “That reminds me of our own experience. We married quite young and we had our children, five of them, before my wife was 28. Then something happened and we were not able to have any more children.” He continued: “If we had delayed having our family until after I had my education, which would have been about that time, we probably would have had no children of our own.”

When I consider those who enter into holy wedlock in the Lord’s own way and receive the divine commandments to multiply and replenish the earth, then through their own designs fail to observe the commandment, I wonder if, later on when they are ready to have the children, the Lord might not think: “Maybe this is the time for you to do a little soul-searching in order for you to come back to the realities for which you have been placed upon the earth.”
Harold B. Lee, "Maintain Your Place As a Woman," Ensign, Feb. 1972, 48
In reading this quote, I can't help but think for the umpteenth time that the Mormon Church wants all women to be cookie-cutter versions of each other.  No allowance for individuality or personal preference.  For a religion that professes to believe in Free Agency, there is no leeway offered for individual circumstances.  And the guilt that is placed on those members who do not follow the prescribed path is enormous.

Another quote:
I would like to express the hope we all have for you, which is so real, that you will be exalted in the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom and that you will enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.  Dear sisters, never lose sight of this sacred goal. Prayerfully prepare for it and live for it. Be married the Lord’s way. Temple marriage is a gospel ordinance of exaltation. Our Father in Heaven wants each of His daughters to have this eternal blessing.
Therefore, don’t trifle away your happiness by involvement with someone who cannot take you worthily to the temple. Make a decision now that this is the place where you will marry. To leave that decision until a romantic involvement develops is to take a risk the importance of which you cannot now fully calculate.
And remember, you are not required to lower your standards in order to get a mate. Keep yourselves attractive, maintain high standards, maintain your self-respect. Do not engage in intimacies that bring heartache and sorrow. Place yourselves in a position to meet worthy men and be engaged in constructive activities.
But also, do not expect perfection in your choice of a mate. Do not be so concerned about his physical appearance and his bank account that you overlook his more important qualities. Of course, he should be attractive to you, and he should be able to financially provide for you. But, does he have a strong testimony? Does he live the principles of the gospel and magnify his priesthood? Is he active in his ward and stake? Does he love home and family, and will he be a faithful husband and a good father? These are qualities that really matter.
And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own. Some of our sisters indicate that they do not want to consider marriage until after they have completed their degrees or pursued a career. This is not right. Certainly we want our single sisters to maximize their individual potential, to be well educated, and to do well at their present employment. You have much to contribute to society, to your community, and to your neighborhood. But we earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple to a worthy man and rear a righteous family, even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers. Our priorities are right when we realize there is no higher calling than to be an honorable wife and mother.
Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 96
Clearly indoctrination.  Trying to make women believe that they only have one path to follow is a constant goal of the Mormon Church.  Individuality in thought, perception, personality and character are not encouraged in the slightest.  Of course, this makes a lot of women feel inadequate, like they don't measure up to the proper standard.  Seeking to be identical to every other woman in Mormonism is asking all women to live in a cookie-cutter world.  In reading this, I can't help but also think how condescending and patronizing his whole ramble is.

One paragraph in particular really annoys me, and that is "And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own."  This statement is obviously aimed at making women feel as though they aren't complete without a man in their life, without a husband.  There are a lot of single women in the Mormon Church who are made to feel that they don't fit in, that they are outcasts, that they aren't good enough because they are single.  And telling those single women "not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn't worth it and you can do just as well on your own" is attempting to diminish their self-worth.

One more quote:
"As fathers we should have love unbounded for the mothers of our children. We should accord to them the gratitude, respect, and praise that they deserve. Husbands, to keep alive the spirit of romance in your marriage, be considerate and kind in the tender intimacies of your married life. Let your thoughts and actions inspire confidence and trust. Let your words be wholesome and your time together be uplifting. Let nothing in life take priority over your wife--neither work, recreation, nor hobby."
Russell M. Nelson, "Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women," Ensign, May 1999, 39
I think this quote is especially interesting because it contradicts completely the mandate for every member to become immersed in the church to the point where they hold callings that take them away from the home constantly.  This is particularly true for men who become Bishops, Stake Presidents, Stake Missionaries, and other very time-consuming callings.  Even callings like Ward Clerk can involve dedication of great chunks of time. So for Russell M. Nelson to say, "Let nothing in life take priority over your wife--neither work, recreation, nor hobby" is very contradictory.  But then, he didn't say religion, did he?

Strong women fascinate me, and I applaud them.  Being able to transcend the boundaries that men attempt to place on women, particularly in religious settings, is admirable beyond words, particularly while they maintain their individuality, personality, femininity, and ambition.

There are women who are perfectly content and completely fulfilled by staying home and raising children - that can be a wonderful role for many women.  But to tell a women who does not find that fulfilling and needs a life outside of her home that she is somehow defective or misguided is simply wrong.  No person should feel that they must be practically an identical clone of another person, no matter whether that person is male or female.  To me, people are people and should be treated as such.

Of course, Feminism is very much frowned on in the Mormon world.  Obviously, the terms Feminism and Mormonism do not go together -- they are mutually exclusive terms.  I realized this early on, and although I had the conflicting examples and messages of my mother and the Mormon Church, I felt internal strife over what my role in the world should be.

But despite the mixed messages I received, I found myself leaning more toward feminist views as I became older.  Several women have struck me over the years as pioneering women in the feminist movement.  In looking at their contributions to the Feminist movement, I find it interesting to examine that against what the Mormon Church forcefully propounds.

Sonia Johnson.  Very famously, Sonia Johnson was a Mormon woman who was also a feminist activist and writer.  Because of her support of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1977, and her speaking out publicly in very critical terms against the Mormon Church's stance on it, she was excommunicated from the Mormon Church.  She went on to publish several feminist books and became a popular feminist speaker. 

Of course, there were many women who had paved the way previous to that time.  Some of them are mentioned below.

Simone de Beauvoir.  Lately, I've been reading some writings of Simone de Beauvoir and her book, The Second Sex, which was written in 1949 and published in 1953.  Interesting time frame, especially since I was born in 1951.  She was definitely a pioneer in the Feminist arena, being one of the first women to speak out.  Although her ideas were very controversial and revolutionary at the time, they have come to be very accepted today - everywhere except within male-oriented, male-dominated religions like Mormonism.  In fact, some might actually say that the Mormon Church is somewhat misogynistic.

From Wikipedia


In the chapter "Woman: Myth and Reality" of The Second Sex, Beauvoir argued that men had made women the "Other" in society by putting a false aura of "mystery" around them.  She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy.  She wrote that this also happened on the basis of other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion.  But she said that it was nowhere more true than with sex in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy...
Beauvoir argued that women have historically been considered deviant, abnormal.  She said that even Mary Wollstonecraft considered men to be the ideal toward which women should aspire. Beauvoir said that this attitude limited women's success by maintaining the perception that they were a deviation from the normal, and were always outsiders attempting to emulate "normality."  She believed that for feminism to move forward, this assumption must be set aside.

Beauvoir asserted that women are as capable of choice as men, and thus can choose to elevate themselves, moving beyond the 'immanence' to which they were previously resigned and reaching 'transcendence', a position in which one takes responsibility for oneself and the world, where one chooses one's freedom.
Here are some interesting quotes by Simone de Beauvoir:


The most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women.

This has always been a man's world, and none of the reasons that have been offered in explanation have seemed adequate.

Man is defined as human being and a woman as a female -- whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.  
Betty Friedan.  Another noteworthy feminist of the same basic era was Betty Friedan, who was the author of the book "Feminine Mystique," which was published in 1963 and is said to have sparked "second wave feminism" in the United States.  This book dealt with the increasing dissatisfaction of many women in the 1950's and early 1960's, many of whom were unhappy with their lives as suburban housewives, a role which had been assigned to them by men and society.  Even though many of these women were living in material comfort, and were "happily married" with children, they were basically unhappy. 

In Chapter 1 of the Feminine Mystique, Friedan points out that during the 1950's, the average age of marriage was dropping and the birthrate was increasing for women, yet the widespread unhappiness of women persisted, although American culture insisted that fulfillment for women could be found in marriage and housewifery.  At the end of this chapter, she said, "We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: 'I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.' "

So this was the backdrop against which I grew up.  A mother who was very career-oriented but who tried to juggle it all within the confines of Mormonism.  A father who was very pious and dogmatic about Mormonism, which also created its own degree of conflict for me since what I heard and what I saw were two different things.  And while I felt drawn toward being a career woman, I also "wanted it all," and tried to accomplish that goal in three marriages, all of which ended in divorce for various reasons.


Obviously, having feminist views as a woman in the Mormon Church is like performing a tightrope act.  One misstep and the feminist woman goes plunging into oblivion with no safety net to catch her.  Sonia Johnson is one Mormon woman I admire because she stood up for what she believed and didn't kowtow to what the Mormon Church told her she must do.  And there are many other Mormon woman (both current and former) that I admire for that quality as well.

Another of those brave (former) Mormon women I admire is Maxine Hanks.  She was born in 1955, and is a feminist theologian who compiled and edited the book Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (1992).  She served an LDS Mission, taught at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, and worked for BYU in the 1980s.  She had been writing or researching on Mormon topics since 1975, including LDS history, theology, and women's issues.  She has continued her work on women’s studies relating to Mormonism and religion in general, having studied at the Harvard Divinity School and then pursing Gnosticism, in which she became clergy in 1999, and she is very active in interfaith work. 

Interestingly, Maxine Hanks was one of the September Six who were excommunicated from the Mormon Church in September 1993.  The other members of the September Six were Lynne Kanavel Whitesides (disfellowshipped, a feminist noted for speaking about Mother in Heaven); Avraham Gileadi (excommunicated, Hebrew scholar and literary analyst); Paul Toscano (excommunicated, a Salt Lake City attorney who co-authored with his wife a controversial book, Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology (1990), and, in 1992, co-founded The Mormon Alliance); Lavina Fielding Anderson (excommunicated, feminist writer who was a former editor of the Ensign Magazine); D. Michael Quinn (excommunicated, Mormon historian, author, and contributor to Maxine Hanks’ book mentioned above).

It is interesting to note that Margaret Merrill Toscano (wife of Paul Toscano, with whom he co-authored the above-mentioned book) was excommunicated on November 30, 2000.  Of these individuals, only Avraham Gileadi has been re-baptized, and Lynne Kanavel Whitesides is still disfellowshipped.

This drive toward censorship was blatant and unmitigated.  If you would like to read more about the September Six, I discuss them in more detail in my book, "Finding My Own Voice: A Former Mormon Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery" in Chapter 10 which is entitled, "Research from Unauthorized Sources."

Here is an article by Maxine Hanks entitled "Perspective on Mormon Women."  While this article is somewhat off topic from the above, it provides an interesting "perspective" on the subject of Mormon women, and some insight into her views.
__________________________________________ 

PERSPECTIVE ON MORMON WOMEN
A Struggle to Reclaim Authority
The priesthood they exercised in the early church
has been lost, but the voice of feminism will not be silenced.


By MAXINE HANKS

Maxine Hanks is the editor of
Women and Authority:
Re-emerging Mormon Feminism
She lives and writes in Salt Lake City.

Los Angeles Times
Sunday July 10, 1994
Home Edition
Opinion, Page 7

 
When Howard W. Hunter became president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last month, his first public act was a plea for alienated Mormons to "come back," or return to fellowship.  Yet more than half of the 9 million church members can never participate fully because they are women.  To find reconcilliation, Mormon women must look to the past.

The historical relationship of men and women in the Mormon church is a conflicted one. In 1992, I published a book that explores long-ignored aspects of that history and attempts to retrieve the soul of Mormon women's spiritual life. For that, I was accused of apostasy.
 
Mormon women obtained authority early in the history of the church and then fought a losing battle to keep it. Their concerns were not taken seriously, so men's authority prevailed. Feminism emerged in the struggle, in the energy of women's rhetoric and work and in their resistance to male agendas.
 
Mormon women exercised considerable religious authority in the LDS Church for 100 years and maintained some autonomy for 140 years. During the first 20 years of Mormonism, from 1830 to 1850, women received authority for blessings, healing and prophecy; priesthood keys, powers and rituals; and missionary calls. Women clashed with male leadership and lost authority at the turn of the century and again in the 1970s. Since 1991, Mormon feminists have encountered a backlash against their attempts to reclaim women's authority. Today's church holds that women cannot exercise priesthood, therefore women are not "ordained" but only "set-apart" to church positions. As a full-time LDS missionary, I sensed I had priesthood, but spent 19 months being denied the right to use it.
 
Although women's authority is plainly evident in Mormon history, today's male church leaders won't acknowledge it, for that would mean having to take responsibility for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers who revoked that authority. Instead, they blame Christ. Over and over again, male leaders assert that female priesthood is "contrary to the Lord's plan" and that today's church "follows the pattern the Lord has set."
 
The extreme gender imbalance in Mormonism re-emerges in Utah's masculinist culture, where government, education and business are run by Mormon men in the shadow of Salt Lake's tallest building, the LDS church offices. In Utah, women as well as men repress the feminine, starve it and then overcompensate: We crave sweet and fatty foods for comfort; we gain weight to feel loved; men act effeminate and women self-destruct with prescription drugs, obesity, depression and too many kids. Hostility to women manifests in subtle and shocking ways. Apostle Boyd Packer said, "I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them."
 
Male-dominant culture offers women a choice between female powerlessness or male-identification. A respected local therapist told me that she sees many Mormon women who "actually believe they are men." My book was an attempt to heal, by moving beyond male-defined identity to a place of female identification, definition and power, and by removing obstructions to women's relationship with God.
 
My feminist views were never welcome in church, so I turned to the public marketplace of ideas. Yet for two years, church leaders threatened me not to speak publicly about Mormon feminist issues. Excommunication was a small price to pay for my voice. It didn't take away my theology or my spirituality, which the church does not control. God's spirit cannot be homogenized, mass-produced and marketed by blue-suited septuagenarians from a high-rise in downtown Salt Lake City.
 
I was told that my feminist ideas were "contrary to the laws and order of the church." I agree. My excommunication was justifiable. Still, these are men's laws and men's orders, not women's. In 1884, Eliza R. Snow, "prophetess" and president over all women and girls in the church, made it clear that the women's Relief Society, which she headed, was "designed to be a self-governing organization. "If difficulties arise," she wrote, ". . . the matter should be referred to (the) president and her counselors." Later, when men assumed governance over women, they usurped women's authority. I cited Snow to the 15 high priests set to judge me, but it had no impact on them. It did, however, liberate me from participating in their illusion. They excommunicated me to silence feminists and send a message of fear to Mormon women, but their action had the opposite effect: Visibility and discussion soared, and my book is in its second printing.
 
So, where does this leave Mormon women? They have a strong feminist tradition. Whether today's women can reclaim their authority and priesthood in the church and fully participate remains a question; first, they must find authority within themselves. But I will not "come back" to a church that crushes female authority and individual conscience.

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Interesting last line to that article -- I will not "come back" to a church that crushes female authority and individual conscience.  And I wholeheartedly agree.  However, unlike what I perceive from this statement, regardless of what women were allowed to do or be in the beginnings of the Mormon Church, and regardless of whether the church "crushes female authority and individual conscience," I could never return to being a Mormon because of all the evident lies, deception, cover-ups and contradictions laced through its history, teachings and doctrine.  I have felt so much happier, and so much less burdened, since disassociating myself from the Mormon Church that it's really a no-brainer for me.

Mormon no more... and finally happy!!