Feeling the Spirit

For the first time since I moved into my new home in Florida, Mormon missionaries stopped by. Now, as I have officially resigned, and because I asked the Elders, I’m sure they didn’t swing by my house because I’m still on the rolls. I watched them contact several houses on my street before they stopped by my house. Anyway, their visit was relatively short – maybe 10 minutes. As soon as they walked up to our house I started pestering them with questions: “Where are you from, Elders?” “How long have you been out?” “How many Elders are there in the mission?” “Have you baptized anyone recently?” Etc. It took them a couple minutes to catch on that I wasn’t your standard “random contact.” They eventually asked how I knew so much about Mormon missionaries and I told them that I was one, a loooong time ago! Since they hadn’t seen me in church, they quickly put 2 and 2 together and realized I was either completely inactive or a former Mormon, though, interestingly, they didn’t actually ask me that.

Eventually they did ask me if they could come by another time to share a lesson with me. I told them they were always welcome as I know how hard it is to be a missionary. But it was also at this point that I told them it was unlikely they would have anything to teach me about Mormonism. “Why?” they asked. I told them that I’m a college professor and that one of my research interests is Mormonism. I know a fair bit about the religion and, in all likelihood, any meeting we had would boil down to either me correcting what they were trying to teach me or them trying to convince me that I should have faith and me informing them that I think faith is highly over-rated. Once my occupation came up, they pretty quickly decided it was time to move on and headed down the street to annoy my neighbors on a nice Florida Saturday night.

Now to the juicy part of the story. I posted a short comment about this as Facebook status update:

Mormon missionaries tracted our house tonight. Why do they always run away once they find out what I do for a living?

There were a lot of comments, mostly from my Mormon relatives. But one really stuck with me:

[ProfXM], do you think they just leave when the[y] feel the spirit leave? πŸ˜‰

The more I thought about this comment, the more it pissed me off. Just for clarification in case a reader doesn’t know, what this person is referring to is the Holy Ghost. While the Holy Ghost is an actual entity in Mormon theology, the Holy Ghost is intentionally disembodiedso he can dwell within humans. But, of course, the key point here is that, because the Holy Ghost is disembodied, he can dwell in all humans, simultaneously. Of course, Mormons also believe that the Holy Ghost only visits unconfirmed Mormons, he doesn’t actually stay with them. Ritual confirmation post baptism creates some supernatural bond that makes the Holy Ghost a permanent indweller in Mormons, assuming they are worthy. The assumption, then, is that Mormons carry with them in some supernatural way “the spirit.”

Now enter the problems…

According to this comment, good worthy Mormons are so in tune with this “spirit” that they can detect when this “spirit” leaves. But what can make the Holy Ghost leave a worthy Mormon? If I’m not mistaken, the only thing that can make it leave is if the worthy Mormon becomes unworthy. Right? (Do correct me if I’m wrong.) There are lots of things a worthy Mormon could do to become unworthy, but simply coming into contact with a non-Mormon shouldn’t be one of them, right? If that’s not the case, then most Mormons are constantly having the spirit leave them because they are regularly in contact with non-Mormons. So, that doesn’t seem logical (not that Mormon thought has to be logical, but I’m trying here).

What if a worthy Mormon comes into contact with a particularly “evil” person, like, say, me? I mean, I am a returned missionary, temple endowed, married in the temple former apologist and TBM who resigned his membership, giving up all of his priesthood and ordinances in the process, and have now become an atheist and critic of the LDS Church. Yes, I’m generally a moral person: I pay my taxes, vote, am faithful to my wife, spend a lot of time with my son, do service, give to charities, and genuinely care about other people. But, well, I was a Mormon insider and now I’m a Mormon outsider using my insider knowledge to criticize the religion. So, I am “evil.” Would coming into contact with me drive the spirit away from a worthy Mormon? Again, this seems illogical. The worthy Mormon didn’t do something unworthy simply by coming into contact with me. At least, I don’t think the missionaries did. The missionaries were, in fact, being worthy by contacting late into the evening on a Saturday night. And, in fact, doesn’t it seem like they would need the spirit more than ever to discern just how “evil” I am and that they should leave?

Another possibility is that my raising the fact that I’m somewhat knowledgeable about Mormonism and even briefly talking about religion was “offensive” to the spirit, forcing it to leave. Since all we discussed was religion, specifically Mormonism, this seems odd. How could discussing religion, specifically Mormonism, make Mormon missionaries unworthy, thereby forcing the spirit to leave? That, too, seems illogical.

For the life of me I can’t figure out why the spirit would “leave” these worthy young men when they did nothing to make themselves unworthy. So, let’s pretend that the spirit did not, in fact, leave these worthy young men when they contacted me, since reason and logic suggest that it would not.

If that is the case, why did my relative say what he did? In thinking this through, I think what he was suggesting is probably that the missionaries were told by “the spirit” that I was a lost cause. Thus, “the spirit” didn’t actually leave, it just told them to leave. Why, if this is really what my relative meant, didn’t he say, “The spirit told them to leave when it became apparent that you are an “evil” apostate.”?

Of course, regardless of how it is said, the statement is still phrased in a way that says that I am evil or that I say evil things. But, insult aside, why say it this way?

It’s possible I’m reading too much into this and it really is just a reflection of the doctrinal ignorance of some Mormons. Or maybe this is just Mormon shorthand and I’ve been out too long to understand it. What do you think he was trying to say by saying what he did?

Published by

profxm

I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

49 thoughts on “Feeling the Spirit

  1. Don’t worry about it, ProfXM. Your relative just felt pushed into a corner and needed to do something to break out.

    That move is part of the standard repertoire when we Mormons feel inadequate. Joseph Smith himself probably used it.

  2. This is all to similar to how I’ve felt.

    Facebook (as wonderful as a tool it is) has lead to a lot of discussions with my friends and many people have banned me, defriended me, etc., because I didn’t have the spirit or I was leading them to hell, etc.

    I feel for you ProfXM.

    Good luck.

  3. This is one of those points where it’s glaringly obvious that the CoJCoL-dS doesn’t have a fixed theology.

    Some Mormons would say that feeling “the spirit” means having the “Holy Ghost” in you (or communicating with you). Some would probably agree with the article (linked @3) that “the spirit” (feeling) isn’t specifically the “Holy Ghost”, but rather it’s a manifestation of the power of Heavenly Father. Some would probably say that “feeling the spirit” is the “Holy Ghost” acting on a person to manifest of the power of Heavenly Father. Some would probably say “it doesn’t matter.”

    It’s true, though, that many Mormons believe that any kind of contact with anything “impure” makes “the spirit go away.” It seems a little odd since — as you say — it seems like those are the times you’d need the spirit most. It gives an interesting new twist on that “Footprints in the Sand” poem…

  4. This just in from the front lines:

    This weeks lesson was on Gods greatest gift mankind, the Gift of the Holy Ghost …

    … Lets step through this:

    1. If I am not Mormon and not doing good, I will not be able to feel the HG

    2. If I am not Mormon and doing good, I will be able to feel the HG

    3. If I am Mormon and not doing good, I will not be able to feel the HG

    4. If I am Mormon and doing good, I will be able to feel the HG

    This raises the question, what good is it to be Mormon and have the gift of the HG, because all that it takes for me to feel the influence of the HG is to be doing good things.

    Is the Mormon God more Scrooge than Santa Claus? Or a bit of both when it comes to the Holy Ghost?

  5. Chino, I was taught consistently that there are two separate phenomena: the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ.

    From LDS.org: “The Light of Christ is the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things. The Light of Christ influences people for good and prepares them to receive the Holy Ghost. One manifestation of the Light of Christ is what we call a conscience.”

    The Holy Ghost, however, is a member of the godhead. Members who have been confirmed by the laying on of hands are supposed to have a right to divine guidance as long as they live worthily.

  6. I think the concepts considered separately make sense in their way, but in practice when LDS speak of “the Holy Ghost,” “Heavenly Father’s spirit,” “the Spirit,” “the Light of Christ,” etc., they tend to conflate all of them, resulting in a lot of incoherence.

  7. obviously no one on this website truely understands mormonism. profXM, im only 17 and i feel that even though you have studied this subject OH SO MUCH you clearly have no grasp of the concept of what the gospel is. you just seem to study the negatives of every point of the church. have you actually read the book of mormon and prayed about it recently or are you just trying to make every one seem so blind and not see the truthfulness of it all.

    overall: read the book of mormon, pray about it, go to church, take some missionary lessons. if you dont get an answer, oh well. move on with life instead of just trying to downgrade the whole church.

    and i know that there are mormons out there that arent the best. but does that mean every muslim follows and do everything they believe in? does that mean all jews are rich and save every penny? get your facts straight and then we’ll talk

  8. Hey Clarke,

    What if: I read. I prayed. And god said it’s a 19th Century work of fiction. Now what do I do?

    Oh, let me guess: I did it wrong. There’s only one possible answer, right? Seems like the methodology you’re recommending is flawed if there can only be one correct answer.

  9. im not saying he’s not saying that he wouldnt say that. its very unlikely but not impossible. but if he did say that then how did he say it? did he come down and visit you and tell you in person? did he give you a record to translate? did the holy ghost tell you?

    and what proof do you have that its all just a fake. that god and his son didnt really come down and visit a simple farm boy that would had and poor education? are you saying he made up that entire book and then created this false organization in which he was totured and killed for making? idk about you but if this church wasnt true i definatly would have confessed it was all fake if i was getting tared and feathered. if people everywhere started hating me. why continue to keep doing it? are you saying joseph smith was a fraud?

    and then what about all the blessing people have had from the church? are they just coincidences? are you saying that when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and that had a 3% survival rate and that the doctors said he even less then that, that after receiving a blessing from a preisthood blessing and was cured miraculously,are you saying that is just a coincidence?

    and lets say that it is all just fake, that there is no god and that this church is a lie, does it make you feel better sharing it the world? do you feel good about yourself when you share these things to the world? if you feel good about telling people that what they believe in is just a lie then maybe you should rethink what you do as a hobby cause sounds like something only someone from hell would do.

    what if i started making a blog saying the your whole life is a lie and got others to start hating you and stop talking to you. wouldnt you think i was jerk? that maybe i wasnt really telling the truth about some of the things about you? just start thinking from someone else’s shoes and think of what you want people to think of you, cause honestly i just see you as a bully. someone who thinks hes better then everyone else and can say whatever he wants.

  10. You’re still talking so I guess that means you think we’ve got our facts straight now. Cool.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally, I derive joy from knowing that my efforts here will one day help my family members keep thousands of dollars for themselves that they otherwise would give away to the LDS corporation.

    Also, speaking of bullies, the reason I got started blogging about Mormonism (other than the fact that I grew up Mormon, served a mission, and still find it interesting) is because the Mormons decided to take the lead in making California laws that apply to everybody (not just Mormons). If you try to turn my country into a theocracy, I’ll spend my spare time working to stop you.

  11. Hey Clarke.
    I’m 18 and from New Zealand. Preparing to serve a mission.
    I go to Institute, I graduated Seminary and am currently starting the B.O.M for a fourth time :)

    I just wanted to say, I really did honestly feel the spirit reading what you wrote.
    We are taught that anybody(member or not) can feel the spirit, but only people that are baptized and recieve the laying on of hands can recieve the ‘Gift of the Holy Ghost’ which is the constant guidance of the spirit so long as we remain worthy.

    Now.. My issue with the person that began this discussion is similar to yours Clarke; mainly focusing on the negative. Profxm – I believe that you focus too much on your logic, and your methodology. Like Clarke asked, did you read the B.O.M? Did you meditate both in your heart and in your mind? Did you ask for confirmation on questions that you have pertaining to the gospel?

    I say ‘questions’ because you don’t know everything to know about the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, okay? You don’t. I definately don’t. Based on a historic level you probably know more than me about the gospel. But that does NOT make you an authority figure on ‘mormonism’. It simply means that you know but a fraction of the accurate truth.

    I mean look, a 17 year old basically just schooled you?! I seriously LOL’D when I saw what Clarke had to say to your comments πŸ˜›
    Seriously, I love you just as much as I love our father in heaven. The same amount as I love some of the most hated people in this world, in history… But, I think you focus too much, WAY TOO MUCH! on what you think you know.

    Do you wanna know WHY those Elders left your house? How can you possibly try to teach somebody what they already THINK they know?!
    They left because the spirit up and walked right outta your house, why? because of the way YOU behaved. In no way are you evil? .. But… They felt like there was nothing they could teach you. The least they could do is leave an impression of the spirit in your home by bearing their testimony. But apparently they didn’t, which is understandable. Compare their age and knowledge base to yours. Of course they may have been intimidated of you?!

    They still have soo much to learn, as do we all. But whatever controversial topics, or events you’ve researched about.. doesn’t change the fact that the church ITSELF is TRUE

    The church is pure, and the same wherever you go. Despite some of the people in it that may be completely screwed up.

    That rests on their own heads. Not Heavenly Fathers, and sure as hell not the LDS church.

    I testify of this, in the name of Jesus Christ
    Amen

  12. kuri – do you think that just because im young ill do/believe anything my parents or church leaders tell me? as a teacher my parents told me that i could stop going to church if i wanted and start investigating into other churches. but then i really started reading the book of mormon for real and started having my own testimony. and when i prayed i really did receive an answer that there is no doubt the church is true. and if you guys were really members of this church at one point you should know what im talking about. my answer wasnt god visiting me. he didnt send lightning bolts or earthquakes. he was a simple feeling he gave me. that the answer was yes. and i cant even begin to describe the feeling. one of pure love. like he was sitting next to me, hugging me. so are you telling me that this feeling i had was just a coincidence also? that it never happened? that it was a lie? how can you explain that?

  13. chino – there are other ways of telling your family you want to save your money. also the mormons arent trying to force any laws. just because they support proposition 8 doesnt mean that they arent making people not be homosexual. we believe that they can have whatever beliefs they want. we supported prop 8 because it wanted to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. is it bad to support that? are we now evil? honestly if any gay guys or lesbian women want to be together then they can because thats what they want to do. just dont define that as marriage, which is a sacred covenant.

    Kiriwera – you rock. your testimony really inspired me. thank you.

  14. what if i started making a blog saying the your whole life is a lie and got others to start hating you and stop talking to you. wouldnt you think i was jerk? that maybe i wasnt really telling the truth about some of the things about you?

    OK, back up. The first point you need to understand is that if other people have experiences that are different than yours (and even write about them), it is not a personal attack on you. If we’re discussing (and even criticising) the CoJCoL-dS, it is not about hating you or saying bad things about you; indeed it’s not about you.

  15. chanson – i know what you are saying and what you mean but really it is. i am a member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. when you say mean things about mormons you say mean things about me. i am a mormon. you may not try to make it personal but to me it is. my friend that showed me this site after reading things from this site thought those things about me. that i hated gays, that i was a liar. and that was just from a a simple view. all in all, this website says my life is a lie. and as much as you would like to think that it doesnt thats its not personally toward me, it is. what you have just told me is that my life is a lie. what gives you the right to tell me that?

  16. Hey, by the way, I just watched Get the Fire on DVD during my lunch break. I’m giving it two thumbs up. The (non-Mormon) director did a fantastic job getting inside the MTC, the mission home (Germany Munich), zone conference, the whole nine yards (the film starts with three elders opening their mission call letters at home and then all the way through to their return two years later). For anyone who’s interested, the DVD can be ordered from the director:

    Nancy du Plessis nancyduplessis at attglobal.net

    Nancy du Plessis Films
    Ohlauer Strae 8
    10999 Berlin, Germany

    She’s apparently got hours of interview footage that she’s never used and apparently it’s mostly of disaffected RMs talking about their disaffection. At some point, it’d be interesting to think about how that footage might be put to good use. Maybe there’ll be a chance to host some exclusive video here at MSP, who knows?

  17. my friend that showed me this site after reading things from this site thought those things about me. that i hated gays, that i was a liar.

    Not so. You’re free to join the discussion and demonstrate that you can be Mormon and not hate gay people. You’re not the only one, BTW.

    what you have just told me is that my life is a lie. what gives you the right to tell me that?

    We have not told you that your life is a lie. Sure, we disagree on whether the CoJCoL-dS is true, but, y’know, there are billions of people on this planet who don’t think the CoJCoL-dS is true. There’s a difference between disagreement and personal attack.

  18. what gives you the right to tell me that?

    The same right Kiriwera has to go on a mission in order to tell people that their beliefs are wrong. Ain’t freedom grand?

  19. Hey Chino

    I love how you assume that the only logical inference is that I’m going to tell people that their beliefs are, ‘wrong’.
    I’m going to do no such thing. I’m simply going to intriduce myself, the church I represent, and ask if people want to hear my message about the plan of salvation, and our church beliefs.. inviting them to come to church on Sunday, IF they’d LIKE TO!

    I understand that people have different beliefs and go to different churches. All I’m saying is that I believe what I do, and I believe that our church has the fullness of the gospel, and if they’d like to hear more, I’d be glad to share with them. If not, I will gladly leave :)

    I respect everybodies decision. So shut the hell up
    :) x

  20. Clarke,

    I apologize for my patronizing comment. I’ll answer your questions seriously.

    There’s no proof it’s all a fake. OTOH, there’s no proof it isn’t. But most of the evidence is against it. There is almost no evidence for the American events or peoples in the Book of Mormon and it’s full of anachronisms. Joseph Smith was accused many times and convicted once of being a con man before he ever started a church.

    Yes, most of us think Joseph Smith was a fraud. Joseph never admitted it because he had dedicated his whole life to his grift. It was how he made a living. It was how he, once a humble day laborer, got friends, got followers, got prestige, got respect, got women (around 30 wives, including teenage girls and other men’s wives), got power, and got money. Who would give up all that just over a little imprisonment or tarring and feathering? And maybe he actually believed in himself. Who knows?

    “are you saying that when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and that had a 3% survival rate and that the doctors said he even less then that, that after receiving a blessing from a preisthood blessing and was cured miraculously,are you saying that is just a coincidence?”

    Glad your father’s better. But yes, of course it could be a coincidence. Three percent get better even without priesthood blessings. Why is it that God never seems to heal people who have a 0 percent chance of getting better?

    “and lets say that it is all just fake, that there is no god and that this church is a lie, does it make you feel better sharing it the world? do you feel good about yourself when you share these things to the world? if you feel good about telling people that what they believe in is just a lie then maybe you should rethink what you do as a hobby cause sounds like something only someone from hell would do.”

    Would you rather believe an easy lie or a hard truth? Jesus said the truth shall make you free. Don’t you believe that? I do, even though I don’t believe that Jesus was a god.

    “what if i started making a blog saying the your whole life is a lie…”

    No one has ever been forced to read a blog. No one has to read this if they don’t want to. It’s not like we go around knocking on people’s doors trying to get them to listen to us.

    “do you think that just because im young ill do/believe anything my parents or church leaders tell me? as a teacher my parents told me that i could stop going to church if i wanted and start investigating into other churches.”

    I think you’re a Mormon because your parents are, yes. If your parents were something else, there’s a pretty good chance you’d be that too. That’s just how people are.

    “i cant even begin to describe the feeling. one of pure love. like he was sitting next to me, hugging me. so are you telling me that this feeling i had was just a coincidence also? that it never happened? that it was a lie? how can you explain that?”

    I guess you’ve never heard of the “God helmet“?

  21. Im simply going to intriduce myself, the church I represent, and ask if people want to hear my message about the plan of salvation, and our church beliefs.. inviting them to come to church on Sunday, IF theyd LIKE TO!

    Cool. I hope you noticed that nobody forced you to read this website, either…

    So shut the hell up

    Um, ‘scuse me, this is our blog. You’re not doing church PR a favor by coming here and being rude to us.

  22. Lol, you made a valid point though mate.. Freedom IS grand :)
    Freedom to come on this site on my own free will and comment on whatever I want πŸ˜›

    Two sentances? Is that all you’ve got to say?
    Mate, I’m no perfectionist, but I am a realist, so if you want to be disrespectful towards me, and behave like a child.. you shall be treated like so.

    mmkay pumpkin?

  23. “Im going to do no such thing. Im simply going to intriduce myself, the church I represent, and ask if people want to hear my message about the plan of salvation, and our church beliefs.. inviting them to come to church on Sunday, IF theyd LIKE TO!”

    Unlike this blog, which reaches out through teh interwebs and forces Mormons to read it!

    “I understand that people have different beliefs and go to different churches. All Im saying is that I believe what I do, and I believe that our church has the fullness of the gospel, and if theyd like to hear more, Id be glad to share with them. If not, I will gladly leave :)”

    Unlike this blog, which refuses to get off people’s computers even after they go to some other website or close their browsers!

    “I respect everybodies decision. So shut the hell up
    :) x”

    Unlike this blog, which randomly goes into the computers of Mormons and tells them to shut up if they disagree with us!

  24. chanson – i know im not the only mormon but being one, everyone thinks that i am these things. for example when that lady beat the snot out of her kid everyone thought that i believe its okay to abuse kids. honestly i think its messed up but it has nothing to do with me. just like when people think that all jews are rich. and that all asians can’t drive. its just a stereotype. and i know you dont personally try to attack me but in a way you are when things like that is said. i dont mind a discussion/disagreement but when some people like the way chino puts thing it seem more like accusations and attacks.

    chino – okay chino then i have the right to say that your whole life is a lie. that you have no life. that even though you think your superior you really are just a coward that hides behind his keyboard. that you couldnt get a date in your entire life. no honestly i dont know if thats true or was even thinking that. but the average stereotype of bloggers is a computer nerd with no life and never date. now, i know thats not true but thats the average stereotype. but still does having me say that about you make you feel any better?

    i guess what i was trying to say is really no one has any right to downgrade anyone else because your not perfect yourself. “who am i to judge another when i walk imperfectly?”

  25. Mate, Im no perfectionist, but I am a realist, so if you want to be disrespectful towards me, and behave like a child.. you shall be treated like so.

    Rather than working to keep this conversation childish, you’d make your position seem more reasonable by being reasonable. Please review our commenting policy. (And please not another fight over who started it — I’ll remind everyone again that the entire conversation has been logged.)

    Clark — I’m glad if you want to dispel stereotypes about Mormons. I have to warn you, though, that taking all criticism of the CoJCoL-dS as a personal attack is a huge stereotype about Mormons, and you’re doing nothing but feeding that one. I would love it if you could show the world that Mormons don’t immediately jump to judgemental conclusions as soon as they encounter former-Mormons and other non-believers.

  26. I understand that people have different beliefs and go to different churches.

    Kiriwera: And very often, people with different beliefs go to the same church. Ask ten Mormons to describe Mormon doctrine, and you’re liable to get ten different answers.

    But hey, I like your answer about missionary work: “I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying that we’re right.” Because there’s such a huge difference between the two, right? lol

    Clarke: You can say my whole life is a lie, but unless you provide some explanation, it’s just a pointless assertion. On the other hand, you coming around here acting the punk and thinking that you’re scoring points for your church indicates to me that you’re not a particularly serious adherent. Anyway, I disagree with your statement that no one has any right to downgrade anyone else. You and me wouldn’t be here if we all didn’t want to seriously downgrade that Mormon mom in the video clip.

  27. By the way, speaking of rude Mormons, check out three messages from Mormons that landed in my Facebook inbox completely out of the blue (there was no prior discussion with any of these people, they just up and decided to shoot a message my way):

    Rude Message 1

    Rude Message 2

    Rude Message 3

    The first one is a Mormon mom I grew up with in our ward. The second is a Mormon kid I grew up with who I refuse to friend on Facebook. The third is a kid from Provo High who I’m guessing ran across something I wrote somewhere. Every member a missionary. Awesome!

  28. OK, so now that we’ve established that coming here to tell us we’re mean doesn’t make the church look good (and, indeed, doesn’t really benefit anyone), why not take a crack at ProfXM’s original question:

    Does talking about Mormonism with former members make “the spirit” leave? If so, why?

  29. Oh, I don’t know, Kuri. When I posted these over at my Facebook page, some of my dearest friends were telling me that the second guy made some great points πŸ˜‰

    Am I in trouble for threadjacking? Sorry. I’m gonna pipe down now.

    Regarding the question, I’ve decided I think “the spirit” means different things in different contexts. In the context of having a discussion with former members, I think the feeling of “the spirit” departing is really just the feeling of disappointment and fear that comes over members when they realize they’re talking to someone with insider knowledge who made the decision to walk away. That’s sad and scary for most Mormons, isn’t it?

  30. Regarding the original post: I think your first thoughts make sense, and the comment in question doesn’t. The spirit leaves when the person is unworthy. So if that person was at a party and a stripper showed up, the person could leave and keep the spirit, or the spirit would leave that person. But in your situation those missionaries didn’t do anything wrong, and the spirit didn’t leave. They simply didn’t want to spend more time with you when they could tell it wouldn’t go anywhere.

    Not everything that mormons say is doctrine. A lot of members don’t know much about mormon doctrine at all. They just give a “primary answer” and no one tells them they’re wrong, so they keep giving primary answers. Come on, profxm, you were a missionary and you still give full credence to just anything a random member says? And throw a diatribe of it on an anti-mormon website? There are plenty of good rebuttals to mormonism, but this post is not one.

  31. MattW — Very good answer!

    Except that end bit about “a diatribe of it on an anti-mormon website”. Folks, I’m sorry to be the broken record, but this is not an “anti-Mormon” website. We want to have a reasonable discussion, and the us-vs-them meta-discussion is a step in the wrong direction. You can hardly complain about the level of discussion here unless you’re helping to make it constructive.

  32. Here’s a question for you, Matt:

    Not everything that mormons say is doctrine. A lot of members dont know much about mormon doctrine at all. They just give a primary answer and no one tells them theyre wrong, so they keep giving primary answers.

    What do you think causes this? Do you think it’s a problem?

  33. MattW @ 39:

    The spirit leaves when the person is unworthy. So if that person was at a party and a stripper showed up, the person could leave and keep the spirit, or the spirit would leave that person.

    But what if they’re conducting sex work research?

    Don’t ask me how I know this (I have contacts), but President Kimball viewed homosexual pornography collected from “broken” Mormon gays to try to get a sense of how to “fix” them. It makes sense, because back in the day when the Church was first trying to get a handle on homosexuality, they didn’t know what they were dealing with. It makes you wonder, though, why only the leaders get to do the “bad” stuff, lol.

    chanson @ 41:

    What do you think causes this? Do you think its a problem?

    I know you aren’t asking me, but mind if I throw out a theory? My sense is that a lot of it is caused by historical paradoxes that can’t be resolved without undermining the church’s leadership — and so the membership fills in the gaps. For example, the 1978 policy change concerning black men is described as a “revelation” without any explanation other than “it will now be this way.” Thus, Mormons fill in the gap of why black men were excluded with pre-1978 folklore: the curse of Ham and so on. The leadership can say, “There is no curse of Ham!” and members will go on saying it, because they aren’t given any other explanation.

    Clarke @ 19:

    what you have just told me is that my life is a lie. what gives you the right to tell me that?

    When you’re a missionary you’ll learn to better take in others’ worldviews, because you’ll be inundated by them daily. In your 20s, you might even have your own trials of faith concerning church history and ontology. These trials are good for Mormons, because they are how the culture grows and maintains itself amongst other cultures and ideas. The only way to overcome these trials is through education and learning to be comfortable with paradoxes. I assume you were born in 1993, which happens to be the year a bunch of Mormon scholars were publicly excommunicated for basically trying to resolve church paradoxes (and, well, speaking ill of the leadership after being censored). You might read about them to get a better sense of how your culture works concerning the flow of ideas.

  34. Does talking about Mormonism with former members make the spirit leave? If so, why?

    If by “spirit” you mean “a warm, fuzzy sense that the conversation is going your way and you’ll get what you want out of it,” then yeah, quite possibly, that could send “the spirit” away, because you suddenly realize your self-created emotional state is incompatible with reality, and that’s a total buzz-kill.

  35. Chanson, Perhaps I did come to the anti-mormon conclusion prematurely. After perusing this site a bit more the story seems to be, “I used to be mormon, now I’m not. Here’s why…” which may not be anti-mormon, but it certainly would be perceived as such by members of the church.

    I don’t know how to do quotes, but you asked, “What do you think causes this? Do you think its a problem?”
    A mild problem, sure. To me it seems pretty common though. Cause? I think it’s partly that most people are very non-confrontational (me included) so when someone gives an answer in church we sluff it off saying, “Okay, not quite the answer I was thinking, does anyone else have any ideas?” And partly the emotional nature of religious belief which leads believers to seek that good feeling instead of sound doctrine. To me mormons are less prone to the second cause than other religions, encouraging scripture study pretty strongly, but not immune.

    Alan (#42), I think if you want to justify it you can. I’m sure there are card-carrying mormon doctors who see men and women naked. Are they unworthy? If it’s done in a clinical, detached way it seems like the bishop would be ok with it. In a lot of cases the activity is less important than what’s going on in your head.

  36. After perusing this site a bit more the story seems to be, I used to be mormon, now Im not. Heres why which may not be anti-mormon, but it certainly would be perceived as such by members of the church.

    So somebody disagrees with you about religion and you or the members of your church think that this person is anti-you?

    Don’t you think that’s paranoid? Why would you feel that way?

    I never got that from my Catholic friends when I disagreed with the Pope or a line in the catechism. Mormonism, on the other hand, carefully cultivates that feeling of persecution and that everybody who disagrees with them is their enemy.

    It’s normal that people will disagree with you about religion, especially, when you say that your religion is the only true church. Mormons dish it out pretty well to other religions but we can’t deal with criticism at all.

    To me, that’s not the hallmark of a nice person. That’s the hallmark of a bully.

  37. I don’t actually follow this blog, so please excuse me if my comments have already been addressed in other posts.

    First off, the thing about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that yes, it’s full of imperfect people, as are a lot of other religions. Many times members know a part of the teachings, but don’t quite grasp the rest of it. ProfXM, you mention that the Spirit leaves when someone is unworthy. While this is true, it does not account for every time the Spirit leaves. Absence of the Spirit can be caused by several things, not only unworthiness of its presence. If the Spirit left during the missionaries’ visit with you, it was not because being with you made them unworthy of the Spirit. In that instance, the Spirit did not leave them, but the situation. Of course, I wasn’t there, so I can’t determine whether the Spirit left or not. I can’t even tell you if it was there in the first place.

    As for you being “evil”, I want to make it clear that being an ex-Mormon does not automatically label you as “evil.” My aunt was excommunicated and my cousin left on her own, but just because they’re no longer members doesn’t mean they’re evil. Nor are Mormons supposed to assume ex-members are evil. Sadly, you will find Mormons who will automatically judge you as such, but please don’t think that every Mormon will do this. We’re taught not to judge others.

    As for the “don’t take this as a personal attack” comment… It’s hard not to, no matter who you are. When someone accuses a group (in which you’re included) of doing something bad, your first reaction is to say, “Wait a minute, that’s wrong. I didn’t do that, and neither did these people. Sure, some people did that, and sure they’re in this group, but it’s not like that’s what this group is all about.” It happens with every type of group, whether it be a race, a religion, a nation, a company, etc.

    A comment to Kiriwera: While I appreciate your efforts to stand up for my brother and the Church, I’d ask that you do it calmly and without misused words. I am grateful that you are preparing for a mission, but be aware that it is not our job to convince people of the truth or that they’re wrong, but to convert them, and that’s only possible through the guidance of the Spirit, and the Spirit does not rest heated arguments and unkind words. So when you do go out into the mission field, please make sure that you continually keep the Spirit with you and avoid situations that can lead to nasty and/or useless debates about our doctrine. It’s hard to bring people unto Christ when you’re telling them to shut up.

    And on a last note, I don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with people who don’t agree with the Mormon religion. However, I can’t condone Bible-bashing or Mormon-bashing or any type of bashing. Yes, I understand that those who do so are using their freedom of speech, but it is also discriminating, and many times very false. I ask that you not discriminate and spread rumors or lies about the Church – or any organization, for that matter. Instead, as Clarke suggested, try to understand their point of view. You don’t have to become Mormon, but just try to understand why we do the things we do. It might just be the most educated and sophisticated thing you could do.

  38. After perusing this site a bit more the story seems to be, I used to be mormon, now Im not. Heres why which may not be anti-mormon, but it certainly would be perceived as such by members of the church.

    True, many members would perceive it as “anti-Mormon” or as a personal attack, and they would be wrong. Thus, we’re providing a useful service. Thing is, most members have at least some friends or family who have left the church. In the interest of family harmony, it’s better for members to learn this lesson here (among folks they don’t know), rather than show up at a family reunion and (wrongly) assume that a brother or sister’s non-belief is somehow a personal attack on the believers, causing an unnecessary rift.

    I think its partly that most people are very non-confrontational (me included) so when someone gives an answer in church we sluff it off saying, Okay, not quite the answer I was thinking, does anyone else have any ideas?

    I agree part of it is the desire just to be nice, and to keep things running smoothly. But I think that another big part of the problem is the correlated manuals that keep the discussion at primary-level, even for lifelong adult members. It prevents people from discussing the theology and doctrine, and consequently you get a situation where even the adults don’t know what Mormons believe and/or they all believe different things and don’t realize it. Sure, religion is emotional, but plenty of other churches succeed in agreeing on what they believe about the nature of God(s), the afterlife, etc.

    For me, I don’t think it’s a huge problem except that it creates problems like you see on this thread. One person claims Mormons believe one thing, someone has a question or criticism about it, and then another Mormon comes along and says “No, Mormons don’t believe that.” It doesn’t matter what it is — any doctrine is up for grabs in this way. Then passing Mormons wrongly assume that any requests for clarification are some sort of personal attack. If you don’t see that as a problem, then maybe it’s not.

    As for the dont take this as a personal attack comment Its hard not to, no matter who you are. When someone accuses a group (in which youre included) of doing something bad, your first reaction is to say, Wait a minute, thats wrong. I didnt do that, and neither did these people. Sure, some people did that, and sure theyre in this group, but its not like thats what this group is all about. It happens with every type of group, whether it be a race, a religion, a nation, a company, etc.

    Not so. If we say “Boyd K. Packer’s remark X was hurtful” or “The CoJCoL-dS spent X dollars [whatever the figure is] to pass Proposition 8,” that is not a question of stereotyping the average Mormon. If the average Mormon is not capable of grasping the difference between the two, that’s a bad sign, but I wouldn’t make such a generalization about all Mormons. I’ve seen plenty of Mormons here and on the Bloggernacle who are capable of grasping the difference between a specific criticism of a specific action vs. some sort of stereotype or slur. Indeed, many of the critiques we’ve posted here are the same as critiques that faithful Mormons themselves have made. And, hey, we also say nice things about our Mormon friends and family here as well.

    Conflating a company with a race with a nation is also a huge fallacy! A company and a race have practically nothing in common besides the fact that they’re both groupings of people. If it turned out that I was working for a company that had massive corruption at the highest levels, and was perhaps doing some damage, I sure as hell wouldn’t take it personally if some whistle-blowers pointed it out; I’d thank them. If you imagine that’s somehow the same as saying “Jews are all greedy” (to use an earlier commenter’s example), then you have a lot to learn about racism.

    Similarly, if I say “It is wrong for the government of Iran to stone people,” that is not some sort of personal attack on the people of Iran. Quite the opposite. I know people from Iran, and they would take it as an insult to suggest they should take criticism of their leaders personally.

  39. chanson: I would not consider the examples you give as stereotyping Mormons or personally attacking them. My comment was in regards to actual accusations such as “Mormons hate gays” or the like. Again, I’m fine with people not agreeing with, as mentioned, “Boyd K. Packer’s remarks,” but when it goes beyond this and turns into an insult or a false accusation, that is when things are taken personally, because those kinds of comments effect how the people we interact with daily view us. I did not mean to imply that I thought this blog attacks Mormons. I’m sorry if it came off that way.

    Also, the only connection I was trying to make between companies, races, and nations was that they are, as you say, “groupings of people.” I understand that outside of this, there are many differences between them. I was only meaning to make the point that no matter what kind of grouping of people you were in, if someone were to say something false about that group, you would most likely try to defend or correct that false information. I understand where you’re coming from with example of a corrupt company, and thus I should clarify that I had the intention of meaning relatively good groups of people that have experienced bad situations, bad members, and/or bad leaders.

    For instance, Germany. Yes, at one point a very evil man ruled over part of Germany, and under his leadership, many Jews were murdered. However, when someone says as a result of this that “Germans are Nazis,” you can imagine that someone, if not many people, would object to this. Yes, this is an extreme, but so is “Mormons hate gays,” especially when we are encouraged to love all people, not matter what their sexual preference; especially when there are a number of members who have these tendencies themselves; especially when they are sometimes not only friends, but family members.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to accuse anyone here of saying or doing such things. I am only trying to make a point of what I have seen happen multiple times to many people in several different places. I only am trying to perhaps explain a perspective. If I say anything wrong, please do tell me so I can either take it back, rephrase it, or explain it better.

  40. Elani — If people have been posting here generalizations like “Mormons hate gays” — and they didn’t get any moderator remarks — then it’s an oversight. Note, also, that we’re happy to highlight stories of faithful Mormons who stand up for gay people. See here, for example.

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