shelf

As a Reddit user by the name of YoungModern explained, “The earliest recorded use of the shelf analogy in a Mormon context . . . is by Sister Camilla Kimball, the wife of the LDS church President Spencer W. Kimball… She [probably was not] the origin of the expression, [nor did it likely to have] originated within Mormon culture, but it appears to have been in currency for some time. It’s only since the Internet era that it’s secondary connotation as a a gradual… or sudden epiphany of the church’s implausibility has overtaken its original faith-promoting forbearance. (Think of the straw that breaks the camel’s back)”

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The autumn of 2014 was one of the worst times of my life. My two oldest children, born during my first marriage, were conceived via artificial insemination by donor. You can read more on that story here. I had been groomed, seduced, entrapped and cornered by my first husband, a man 29 years my senior who had been the counselor in the bishopric of my college family ward. I had never wanted to marry him; I even went to the Church for help and it all blew up in my face. You can read more on that story here and here and, frankly, in bits and pieces throughout this entire blog. This is the core issue of why I have kept writing, trying to find an answer to the cognitive dissonance behind why my Church is so full of darkness and evil when it’s “true”.

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I went through the wedding day inwardly screaming. Screaming, screaming, screaming. But I knew how to play-act, how to feign total compliance; I knew how to please an abuser with far more power than I had, in a system where I was trapped, in order to survive. It had been the bread and butter of the first 18 years of my life growing up in an abusive Midwestern LDS home. So I fell back into it, this pattern of pandering to and appeasing an abuser.

Perhaps this is why, ever since I can remember,  I have instantly and deeply identified with the oppressed protagonists in film and literature. I couldn’t have told you that, then. There was no name for it. I didn’t know what domestic violence was, let alone that there were different types of abuse. Or that I had been experiencing a disjointed cacophony just about every single one of them, without interruption, for most of my life. I had no idea there was such a thing as the Cycle of Abuse. Yet, in these characters and their stories, there was always something about them that was just like me. I dared not express that feeling openly, and I felt disobedient when I thought it to myself.

Our big rebellious thing, as sisters, was waiting until our parents were not around then ranting cathartic-ly about how horrible everything actually was in our Mormon home; doing things like singing Tears for Fears’ Shout at the top of our lungs. I tried to be an obedient Fifth Commandment keeper; tried to squash these feelings of identification with other unhappy children whenever I thought them. After all, I had always been taught and raised to believe that as a child Born in the Covenant, on the American continent, into the pinnacle family bloodline of Ephraim, I had been born into one of the most privileged situations any person could have in mortality. But I could never answer the question about why it felt so bad; why did I feel so unhappy to be blessed so much.

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One of my first memories of empathizing with a protagonist is of the absolute horror, the sheer terror, that Disney’s Snow White experienced, half of the time without her full knowledge of the danger and dire circumstances of her situation. No, she didn’t know, but we, the viewing audience did. The pale-skinned dark-eyed heroine held this nightmarish secret: her Mommy, the beautiful, smart, proud, elegant, icy Queen of Everything that everyone on the outside, in the Kingdom, admired, feared or hated but universally respected to her face, was actually an evil witch. A witch witchwho hated her own child’s guts so very much that she wanted her dead, even if she had to do the deed herself.

For years, as a little girl, I could not go to sleep easily because every time I closed my eyes, the dark mirror from Snow White was waiting for me. What would always appear in the dark glass next, always, alwayswould be the old hag from Snow White: staring at me murderously with one eyebrow raised. Sometimes the whole transformation sequence would play out in my mind, too. Sometimes I’d see her at the window, offering me the poisoned apple. Sometimes I would even hear her terrifying low-toned growl of a cackle. I could not explain to anybody why these images came, and why they so upset and panicked me. I could not even explain to myself why, at the time, nor could I explain it to my frustrated parents. They quickly tired of my waking terror-stricken “antics”, which would occur shortly after I had fallen asleep, night after night. I learned to hide my nightmares from them, to stifle my cries and suppress any request of them. To even express any desire for comfort and help had to be carefully weighed with the potential negative consequences of my foolishly asking at the wrong time, when they were in the wrong mood.

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“If you don’t accept a child’s dandelions, you will never receive his roses.” – my Grandma, and something I remember her telling me in regard to raising this little guy

It was only as an adult that I have come to understand the deeper reasons why the Disney witch transformation scene so deeply disturbed me. I always knew that the Queen reminded me of my mother, but I now believe that my subconscious kept the rest of the meaning from me, to protect me. For you see, the hag was actually a horrible replacement of my maternal grandmother, who had been my full-time, Monday-thru-Friday caretaker until I was around 18 months old.  I believe I fully bonded to my Grandma, and emotionally identified her as my mother; something which would have been a cardinal sin to my jealousy-prone mother. Though Disney’s hag kind of looked like my Grandma, in the nose, the shape of the face, and sometimes in the hair color, she wasn’t Grandma at all. She was a horrible, mocking, hateful substitution for her – a parody, an exact opposite, who rejoiced in having taken my loving, nurturing, protecting, kindly Grandma’s place. In real life, the hag wasn’t Grandma or even the transformed stepmother queen sorceress from Snow White at all. She was my own mother. That was the root horror of it. She was my own mother and I could never, ever, ever hope to get away from her. To even think of it, as a Mormon child; to long for it, to escape from the forever family God had put me in, was the gravest of thought crimes and a wicked, ungrateful sin.

matchlessmatchNext came the Hans Christian Anderson story of The Little Match Girl which my Dad read to us every Christmas, only one of two times during the entire year when I knew I would be able to spend time with my grandparents. After a lifetime of suffering, the neglected little girl finally gets to permanently be with the woman whom she always knew loved her best, her Grandma.

Then, there was a repeat of Snow White‘s mother-to-witch transformation imagery in the hourglass scene of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, along with the oblique affirmation, not lost on me, that others also felt that longing to go to the far away place, far away from harm, where there wasn’t any trouble.

The fractured mother-daughter imagery found in Snow White also repeated itself again in Disney’s Cinderella and in the story of Aurora and Maleficent as portrayed in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

After that came orphans Penny in Disney’s The Rescuers and Oliver in the 1968 film of the same name, which, in combination with the story my Dad told me of the neglected, unloved babies in the state homes who turned their faces to the wall and died, began decades of my own suicidal ideation. I was only 4 or 5 years old when it started. I was hiding from my mother’s wrath inside of a built-in wooden chest which was located beneath a built-in bookcase at the far end of a barely-used formal living room when the thought first came to wish myself dead.  It was all done in the hope of somehow willing myself back to my perfect first Parents in Heaven, to escape forever, and to be safe and loved.

This sentiment of feeling orphaned from my true parents and terrorized in a harsh world was confirmed again when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. I became obsessed with the film starring Aileen Quinn as Annie. My favorite song wasn’t “Tomorrow”, it was “Maybe“. Yet there was more to come. I loved Disney’s Pollyanna, and only wish that I had actually read Eleanor Porter’s books too. For me, the best and brightest of the orphans will always be L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley, from her Anne of Green Gables series.

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Speaking of school, I encountered my dark commonality – the unnamed thing of domestic abuse – again in the curriculum. I saw myself in the boy in The Red Balloon; in the baby monkeys documented in Harry Harlow’s experiment films; in the children that I secretly envied in The Electric Grandmother movie and in Margot, the protagonist of Ray Bradbury’s short story All Summer in a Day.  I believe I read that story and watched the film in first grade. Everything about it horrified me. From the vicious cruelty and injustice toward innocent sincerity to the outright rejection of truth testimony, the message of hatred conveyed by this work, shocked my idealistic soul. Such things just could not be so, not in the real world!  Otherwise I did not want to be here. So here I was, the bullied little girl treated so much the same way as Margot was by my own peers every day at school, but I still rejected this story as garbage. It had to be garbage. Yet I never forgot it, all the same. Besides a film that my music teacher played every Halloween, which frightened me, and a memory of the confusing name on the cover of one of my textbooks Happy and Gay, the Ray Bradbury story is the only thing I remember about first grade. But all was not lost, for it was also at school that I first learned about two of my lifetime personal heroines, Harriet Tubman and  Joan of Arc.

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In my home of origin, one of the only safe things I could do, was allowed and encouraged to do, was to read. I shudder to think of what would have happened to me if this one means of escape had not been countenanced. For this is where I found friends, companions and blessed escape into worlds, reaches and experiences beyond where my mother and father could come. It was blessed separation. It was autonomy. It was a place that was mine where they could not come; or, frankly, never would come because they simply had no interest in going there. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my safe place where the personal boundaries violated everywhere else were respected. Respected because they were unknown. It was my little secret, and I managed to keep it.

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What can I say about the places I went, the people I met and the lives with whose heroines I walked? There was Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, the first nineteen books of the Boxcar Children Series, and a book which I listed as my favorite for years, Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. There was also Mary Lennox in Frances Hodgsen Burnett’s The Secret Garden book and 1993 film. As an infant, I  had once had a robin friend, like Mary.  In high school, I was assigned to write my autobiography. It was only then that learned for the first time from my mother, how this bird came to the window of my nutty-pine-lined bedroom every morning. The robin would sing to me, and I would gurgle back. She said, with a tone of blame, that I had noticed the loss of that bird when we moved and gone into a sort of baby depression (like this was a bad thing. Like I was just mourning the bird and not the separation from my grandparents.) But that bird, too was taken away when the witch came home to the tower. (Yes, that was an allusion to Rapunzel, and yes, I identified with her, too.) Finally, let’s not forget Matilda in Roland Dahl’s book of the same name, which for me was very personally ironic. I identified with almost every single thing about her except her name, which is actually my mother’s name. Like the character Matilda, throughout my school years I felt like certain female school teachers loved me, and loved me far more than my mother did. Perhaps I even idolized some of them. My mother was quite openly jealous of the ones she knew of … but it always puzzled me why she was never jealous enough to ever change the way she treated me.

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Harriet The Spy: How To Be A Nerd That Writes 101

There were also the heros of fauna, who to me seemed thrillingly independent, beautifully simple and living nature-connected lives of full liberty. Foremost among them mysidewas Sam, the protagonist of the book, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. There was also the 1974 film Where The Lilies Bloom whose heroine, Mary Call, mesmerized me. You could even say that in the beginning, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family lived this sort of free and simple life. When I saw the movie Nell as an adult, and the documentary about Juliette de Bairacli-Levy, both somehow reminded me very much of these two works. My brain also files the artwork of Tasha Tudor and Rien Poortvliet into this category. I credit my continuing interest in herbal medicine and idealization of the self-sufficient agrarian lifestyle to my “Foxfire and bluegrass” paternal grandfather and these early folk life influences.  I did not learn until 2012 that this was also the realm of my maternal great-grandmother and great-grandmother. At this point, I am not sure if they were Kahuna pale keiki (Midwife),  Kahuna ho ‘ohanao (Childbirth Specialist) or La’au Lapa ‘au (herbalist) because Mom didn’t elaborate. I will always be amazed by those times when my heart has told, shown me or led me to what my mind knew absolutely nothing about.

Another echo of the Snow White story was my attraction in later childhood to the stories of completely innocent yet relentlessly oppressed and pursued children.  There were Tony and Tia, in Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain. Next came Inez in Disney’s Child of Glass, with it’s disturbing the imagery of this girl and her doll endlessly spiraling down a well, childglassfalling to her death by the hand of a treacherous close male relative. I can’t explain why, but this falling down the well imagery eventually replaced the Snow White hag scenes that had rolled in my mind every bedtime.  Sometime after seeing Anna to the Infinite Power, and Disney’s Night Crossing,  I began reading accounts about the experiences of young children during the Holocaust. Friedrich by Hans Peter Richter and The Diary of Anne Frank were among the first accounts I read.

In high school there came more: my disturbing, keen identification with Hester Prynne of Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Sally Field’s Sybil. 

So, you see, it was always the same theme of the motherless girl.  A girl could still be motherless if she was hated by her mother. She could be parentless if not protected from her mother by her father. She could be motherless if her mother was not her dearest friend and deepest confidant; parentless if her father served that role but then betrayed her confidence by disclosing all to her mother. It was always the same theme about a child who didn’t fit in anywhere and wasn’t significant or special to anyone, but who nevertheless still believed in and longed for a mother who would love and cherish her like she longed to be. A girl who wandered in the cold, forever on the outside looking in. It was a feeling I sometimes tried hard to kill within myself but could not completely shut off.

After I met the abuser who became my first husband, the nightmare credits that used to roll on the screen of my mind ended. I think it was because my reality became a nightmare, making my dreams and the oblivion of sleep the only place left where I could go. The only place, that is, until I had my daughter. That moment of grace is when I began to wake up.

The women of the scriptures became my heros. The first was Hannah of the Old Testament: I loved her for her faith in God and her dedication of the gifts of her children back to God. During the divorce she became even more important to me, standing for herself and for her children like a rock of faith IN GOD; and she did this despite false and wicked high priest Eli’s misjudgement of her, poor example to and stewardship over her precious child, and his complete lack of character. I have clung to this woman’s example for over 23 years now.  There was also Eve, whom I think Mormon theology correctly honors as the noble and courageous mother of all living, and whose post-Eden example of loyalty to God and constant, open, outright enmity towards evil men and devils I took to heart. There was also the secretly defiant ark-building Jochebed, and Judith, the sword-wielding manslayer of Holofernes. There was Leah, whose devotion to God, forbearance of offenses (watching her own sons lose the birthright and having to raise Rachel’s children) and constant love toward her husband ultimately won over her husband’s heart in the end: for he specifically asked to be buried alongside her. There was Nephi’s wife, whose defiance of her murderous brother-in-laws and defense of her defense-worthy husband comforted me; gave me hope that I might be married to a man I could truly honor one day. There was Ruth, who, after the greatest of personal tragedies, began her life all over again. It was from her romance story with Boaz that I learned the beautiful principle of go’el, which is Christlike, ransoming, redeeming love. There was Rebekah, who stood up to her husband and claimed what was hers. I learned of my value to God when I studied the story of Abraham, but it wasn’t until I discovered for myself that he honored Sarah equally that I really began to understand and believe my intrinsic value to him as a woman.

During the captivity of that first marriage I eventually found the courage to begin to keep a secret journal. As I had done before, in the abusive setting of my home of origin, I wrote down my truths because I could not speak them. They were true, they were important, and they needed a place to be freely expressed. I also began to find myself again in the world of what Glenn Beck has sarcastically called “bonnet movies”. How thankful I am for the early feminist writers of England! God helped me find new meaning for myself in the stories of my youth: the integrity of Jane Eyre due much in part to the influence of the two true followers of Christ that she met in the hell of Lowood. Going back to The Secret Garden, I learned anew from the vulnerability, hope and courage of Mary Lennox. Among the new heroines and friends I found myself again: who I was and who I should have been more like; but who still could become more like from now on. I was Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Fanny Price in Manchester Park, Helen Huntington in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall . . .

Ultimately, it was being irresistibly drawn to another movie that changed my life.  The glass wall of objectivity between myself and this lifelong encounter with victims of domestic violence broke when I could not deny that she was me and I was her. It was in viewing the story of  a fictitious character, Percy Talbott, who comes as a stranger to a new town, still reeling from the shellshock, shame and self-blaming of a lifetime of domestic abuse.  She came looking for a healing but was met instead with suspicion, blind judgement and condemnation.  The story broke my heart. When I saw myself in Percy, I began to wake up to the tiniest of whispers that it hadn’t really been all my fault. That I had tried, really tried, always tried, to be a good person. The film started a search within me to find the Balm of Gilead, and I did. I am so thankful for Percy Talbott, and for the film where I found her, The Spitfire Grill.

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Reading is what also got me through the hell of my divorce. A lot of that memory is a blur to me now, but what still stands out for me are what I learned from my personal scriptures studies and from the Lord of the Ring series by J.R.R. Tolkein. I found myself in Eowyn: I had been trapped by a Grima Wormtongue as well, but I could defeat him and Witch-kings, too. I found the source of my courage in Revelations 12:11, Ezekiel 13:22, Daniel 10:12, Psalm 55:6, Isaiah 58:6-12, D&C 50:7 and all of Ezekiel 34.


[Video: Eowyn Movie Clips put to the music of Fighter by Christina Aguilera]

 

As an adult, and in recovery from my first marriage, I identified with Celie in The Color Purple; Lewellen in Hounddog; Lily Owens in The Secret Life of Bees, Eponine and Valjean in the Les Miserables musical. There was also the child bride Violet Baudelaire, in A Series of Unfortunate Events, forced into marriage with the person who pursued and offended her most. I also saw myself in Hermione, Harry and Lily when I read  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, especially in their interactions with Delores Umbridge.  I identified with the deceived and heart-broken princess, Padmé Amidala in Star Wars. I knew exactly how Prince Rilian felt, seemingly forever trapped in that The Silver Chair in the dark underworld of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I was taught of the truth, the reality of the abuse in my home of origin by my LDS counselor’s use of the story of Terah in the book of Abraham. I was a hard sell. It took me over 18 months of kicking and screaming grief to accept that. In that grief, I was comforted again by Joseph’s fabricated Pearl of Great price in the story of Enoch, and his Father-God who could weep.   In George Elliot’s trappedMiddlemarch, I saw my dumb self married to my even dumber abuser in the character of Dorothea Brooke. More fictitional orphans came to comfort and teach me, as I found them in the writings of Kate Douglas Wiggin, George Macdonald and my grandma’s beloved Gene Stratton Porter.  The actress Holly Hunter has served as a strange sort of muse for me, portraying both the sexual abuse victim of many men that I have been and might have wished to have been, had my circumstances been different. More recently, I have seen myself in the work of Witi Ihimaera: as young Paikea in The Whale Rider and as both Paraiti and Rebecca and in the film White Lies .

What does any of this have to do with the autumn of 2014?

Everything.

That summer, my oldest daughter had refused to go away for the month-long court-ordered visitation. Because of his age, her younger 14-year-old brother did not have the option to refuse, but bravely insisted that he could handle visitation on his own. We immediately knew something was very wrong when he came home, and our lives descended into a nightmare. How could God have let the abuser whom I had escaped continue to live and even prosper? How could God now allow that old serpent to seduce away the heart and mind of my child, just as that liar had done to me? We suspected that my ex-husband had broken the order contained in Judgement of Divorce which prohibited contact outside of written letter or telephone. My son, now an adult, confirms that he and that 69-year-old shit played their own little thrillingly sneaky game of cloak and dagger. Just as he had with me, my abuser taught my son how to love and make a lie. Furthermore, he filled him with lies and taught him how to betray so deeply that youlaughingskull didn’t just stab your enemy, you took keen pleasure and self-justification in twisting the knife too.

I thought it would never happen, but on Halloween Day 2014, my ex-husband pulled into our driveway and my little boy happily loaded up what little he wanted to take with him and willingly left us to go live with my abuser and his fifth wife.

My life went into an emotional tailspin, the pain of which I could not contain or control. I remember that during this time I was in attendance at a Sunday School lesson about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. I went crazy. I sat in the back of the room of our little northwest Montana LDS branch bawling audibly, uncontrollably, while everyone acted like they could neither hear me or see me. I felt like the sacrifice asked of me was greater than that required of Abraham. He hadn’t been asked to sacrifice his child to the Devil. He had not had to watch it actually happen, with no rescuing angel. As a mother, I had tried more than anything else, not to be like my own parents. Why then had my firstborn son not only rejected me, but openly abandoned me, yes, betrayed me?

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I had worked that entire year to get accepted into the Midwives College of Utah. Just a month before my son left, I had begun my pursuit of an online Associate in Midwifery degree. I made it through the Fall 2014 semester, achieving a 4.00, but then I left the program.

During that time, and afterward, insult was added to injury by individuals from whom I least expected it. It had always been there before, but now it was safe for the judgey people to come out of the woodwork and bravely condemn us behind our backs.  Some even dumpster dived for materials my oldest daughter had thrown away during class, in search of further evidence of what bad parents they’d already determined we were. Others, especially a trio of old bitties who reigned from their Muppet balcony in the Relief Society, helped that effort by spreading every bit of twisted gossip they could find, while still acting like my friend. I knew what they were. They smiled with their teeth but never with their eyes, just like my mother did. On top of the responsibility of being their teacher in Relief Society, I also had to endure the excruciating pain of going into these women’s homes and trying to love them, trying to find some kind of common ground of with them.

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One man in particular, named Randy Reasch, was very kind to our faces, but behind our backs was a horrible enemy for years. A year prior, in October 2013, he had been instrumental in getting me summarily released as Primary President. I had studied out the roots and full history of the holiday of Halloween. Other Christian congregations in our community were rejecting its observance altogether. I’d heard from members and non-members in town about a weird hayride that had happened, where Mormons were said to have gone around singing songs on Halloween, “as if they were out caroling for Satan.” I knew that Trunk or Treat was a longstanding tradition in the branch, but felt impressed, after study and prayer, by virtue of the priesthood authority vested in my office as Primary President, to discontinue the activity.

reaschAbout a week before Halloween, Brother Reasch , who was in the branch presidency, sent me a text message. He ordered me, in the name of the branch president, to organize and carry out a Trunk or Treat activity. I refused. Rather than “counseling with your councils”, or doing anything else to learn what was in my heart and mind, I was treated like I’d committed some kind of heinous disorderly conduct. I suspect that Reasch played up the encounter to the bishop, since quite soon thereafter an enraged branch president – barely in control of his own emotions – came over to my house, ordered my husband and children to leave because he wanted to speak with me alone, and with great rudeness and disrespect, summarily released me from office.

Apparently Randy Reasch continued to badmouth our family to anyone new who moved into our branch, essentially isolating us further and ensuring that we would remain nearly friendless. I name him because of the #OutThem effort. I name him because he should be named.

It was only in 2017 that we learned the truth about what he had been doing. We learned it from one family, who became our friends against all odds. It happened because the husband, serving as the Gospel Doctrine teacher, realized my blackened reputation did not match the woman he had gotten to know for himself during class discussions.

So there I was, in the middle of this horrible anguish, when God decided to add more. No, having my son seduced away by my own abuser in combination with being everything but accepted, supported, comforted and sustained by our church family wasn’t enough. The added trial of being strangers, rejected in a strange land while struggling with income and employment issues wasn’t enough. No, I had to run into online information about Joseph Smith that shook my testimony to it’s core.

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The first was a YouTube video, which I can’t find now, was about how during the Nauvoo era, women were given the priesthood by Joseph Smith and actively exercised it in blessing and administering to others. I had never heard such a thing, never read such quotes in all my years as a member. The second piece of information was the website, The Wives of Joseph SmithI learned for the first time that Joseph Smith had been married to more women than Emma Smith and Eliza Snow. My world was rocked to find evidence of behaviors that looked like pedophilia in some instances and like pure adultery in others. Now, imagine how you would feel as a woman who had escaped from an abusive relationship whose true nature – she’d only learned after the fact, through years of counseling – was something very much resembling predatory pedophilia. What LDS Church officers had labeled and condemned as adultery had been grooming and entrapment. How do you think she would feel to very clearly see a resemblance between Joseph Smith, Warren Jeffs and her very own abuser, Howard Wesley Goodwin Jr? (#OutThem)

josephdesiresBut no, these things could not be. They just could not be. Joseph Smith could not be like them. He couldn’t be. He just couldn’t be. I had been taught and believed that only Jesus Christ was greater than he was. I had cried many times when I first watched the PBS broadcast of An American Prophet: Joseph Smith. I had been there, to those Church history sites! I wept for him outside of the Nauvoo House and wept for him again and again at Carthage Jail. With my own Snow White personal history (somehow surviving despite constant abuse), it was Joseph’s goodness and innocence amid condemnation and murderous hate that made me love him and identify with him most. With a pure heart like Joseph’s, had I not also desired a return to God’s presence and craved His love? Didn’t I also seek a kind and compassionate husband like Joseph had been to Emma during a brief interlude of peace on one of the very worst nights of his life?  How could a man who loved his wife and family like that cheat on his beloved and break the tender hearts of his children by being such a poor example of manhood as committing scores of unauthorized, unrestrained, unapologetic serial sexual deceits and dalliances? Didn’t I also admire this man, and any man such as him, who could stand in the power of truth and righteousness, his priesthood fully charged up and authorized due to  his own virtuous living within the laws and covenants of God, and therefore justly, nobly, condemn fiends and devils in human form?

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It was during my first marriage that I encountered the painting by Liz Lemon Swindle entitled, “While Emma Sleeps”.  It made me weep because it was everything that I wanted in a husband but did not have. I bought a framed copy of the work, and no matter how many times I have moved, this painting has always had a prominent place in my home. It has usually hung somewhere near or in my bedroom.  During the divorce, it gave me hope that perhaps there was still a man like Joseph out there for me. When I remarried and began what has now been nearly 15 years of happily married life, the painting has served as a comfort and confirmation to me. Yes, it is true: I am blessed. I have a husband like Joseph now. A husband who helped his wife. A husband who did not overburden her or take her for granted. A husband with the loving perception to see his wife’s needs without her having to say a word. A husband who did not forsake his child to a frustrated or exhausted wife. A husband who truly treasured; dearly loved his home and family and was only torn from them by necessity or cruel outward circumstances. A husband who did not cheat or abuse. A husband who was not a perverted lying cheating fucker.

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I FOUGHT LIKE HELL TO PRESERVE MY TESTIMONY. Every day, every day, every day, I wept and prayed… wept and poured over the scriptures, keeping notebook after notebook, copying down what lessons I’d learned and taken screenshots of with my iPad. Every day I wept in my wilderness, strict in my self-restricted wanderings. I only allowed myself to search trustworthy materials, such as those that can be searched at scriptures.byu.edu . It was because these actions that I came to eventually find the explanations given by the early polygamists. It was my eventual conclusion that while I did not understand how God could ask these things to be, the testimony of all the prophets – and I had been taught and believed that they were true prophets – was that polygamy was of God. Relieved and grateful, I would openly tell anyone ever after that, whenever these topics came up, that Brigham Young had saved my testimony.

ENFJ anger

Having been reinstated in 1997 after three years of excommunication, and endured the disapproval of my Church leaders when I took the leap to divorce my abuser against their wishes in 2001, I felt that had sacrificed too much, suffered too long and fought too damn hard to get back into full fellowship with the Church just to lose it now to doubts, “just” doubts, even such doubts as these. Joseph could not be an evil man. He could not! He was a good man! A prophet of God!  The alternative was too great of a horror to contemplate.

For if Joseph was some kind of sexual pervert, lying charletan, then the Book of Mormon could be a lie!!! I’d been taught all my life and believed that if you pull out “the keystone of our religion”, the Book of Mormon, it was curtains for everything else. Even though Joseph Smith is quoted to have taught that that Jesus Christ is the core of our belief, and everything else is an appendage to it, we would not be so different all other self-identifying Christians if it were as simple as that.

I now think that the core of our theology is really the Book of Mormon, not Jesus Christ. You can’t have The Book of Mormon as a holy book without examining the man who is said to have produced it as a prophet called personally to that work by God himself.  I have always been taught that this special prophet, Joseph Smith, stands second only to Jesus Christ. I was taught that he did everything under the direct guidance of God. But like pulling out that final game-winning block in a game of Jenga,  it is clear to me now that everything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as I know it today would just come crashing down if either Joseph or the Book of Mormon were pulled out from it. I would not allow my Mormon world to come crashing down again. No, not again. Even though the Church seems to be playing Jenga itself, all on it’s own – using the wild card of continuing revelation from one’s president’s administration to the next – I could not let the blaming finger of fault for the failure be pointed at me again.

GreatAndSpaciousJenga

Great and Spacious Game of Jenga

I knew I was in pain over the loss of my son, which was actually another reason I did not trust myself. For hadn’t it been while I was in pain over the realization of my parents’ abuse that my ecclesiastical abuser, a counselor in the Bishopric, had stepped in to fill the void and drag me and my entire future away? My son did not even speak to me for a good year after he left, and even when the initial, stilted text messages or phone calls began to come, he would never say he loved me.

In 2016 and more increasingly throughout 2017, when my son began telling me about his questions and doubts about the Church, including those raised by the CES Letter, I began to investigate. I was sure that he was being deceived by some crafty spin from an evil apostate person. I was sure that I would be able to not only recognize the holes in the argument, but also unravel the whole thing as well. After all, the Church was true. There was no way these people or their arguments could have anything of any true substance or weight.

I tried the best that I could to hide this inward agony about my son and my concern for his spiritual safety, as difficult as that is for an ENFJ to do. Every so often it would seep into a blog post, or burst out from nowhere in a conversation. Many of my blog posts since 2014 have, in fact, been written as a result of trying to keep my heart from exploding. I have been trying express all that I have learned in my desperate effort to hold on to the soul of my firstborn son while not losing my own.

singleLIE

It is now April 30, 2019, the last day of the fourth month of the year. Tomorrow my oldest daughter will come home from having honorably completed a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so glad she’s getting the hell out of there. When she left us in late November 2017, I was a true believing member of the Church. Today I am a member in name only.

On the Facebook page for my daughter’s mission, new pictures were just posted today of all the newly arrived missionaries. I commented, “Can’t tell you how happy I am to see ‘the replacement troops’ as my daughter and 5 other sisters return home with honor.” The mission president’s wife responded to me privately with this message: “Your daughter is lovely! Full of faith and testimony! How we have loved having her serve with us. Thank you for sharing her. May the Lord bless you and your family”. That woman – Sister Michele “Crocodile Tears” Welch –  with whom I have only had negative dealings during my daughter’s time under her stewardship, had absolutely no idea what I really meant by that carefully written comment.

So here’s a big hint: It was intended as a slap in the face, Michele.

pissonitMy daughter has made it out alive from you and your husband’s spiritual Vietnam. You two can use and manipulate somebody else’s daughter as fodder to fight your Church’s war now. As their agent, you did not succeed in breaking her bond to her family and replacing it with the Church. In an interview, you mistreated my daughter’s companion, let’s call her by the pseudonym of Sister Ophelia. You punished Ophelia, for her emotional honesty with you, including the fact that she’d had the courage to express some personal doubts.  In an over-reactionary panic, you pumped Ophelia for information; demanding of her an acceptable explanation which she herself probably did not have. Fools, this is likely the very reason Ophelia came to you for help and council! Like me, she was trained to do that. Like me, Ophelia learned, once again, that her faith had been misplaced; that castigation was the only salve offered. (I say this because I have stood in that sister’s shoes in many a bishop and stake president’s office.)

Then, when you were done ravaging Ophelia, you went after my precious daughter.

This is what Anna was told by Sister Welch: When pressed by Sister Welch, Ophelia finally disclosed that my blog was the root cause of new doubts. Our daughter insists that Ophelia must have lied; that Ophelia must somehow have said this in desperation, and drawn my blog out of thin air.  Anna is adamant that she never shared any my blog posts with any of her companions. My opinion is that Ophelia may not have actually said anything at all;  that Michele Welch might actually have been interrogating Anna about her mother on behalf of some authority higher up, perhaps in the Strengthening Church Members Committee. When Drill Sergeant CrocTear’s hostile interview didn’t bear the fruit she wanted from my daughter, she amped up the pressure. Sister Welch then chose to isolate Anna in a room at the mission home and force her to watch the entire Renlund devotional all alone. Was this supposed to be some sort of punishment – with extra shaming priesthood power added – to exorcise me, her mother? (The devotional deeply angered Anna, by the way, just as it had infuriated me.) After the devotional, Sister Welch then proceeded to grill her even further, in a manipulative attempt, I believe, to psychologically break her. Hello, B.I.T.E Model much?! But it didn’t go as all as you planned, did it Michele? You were not expecting that she would completely confound you into total silence with her testimony of Jesus Christ. (Look it up, honey, that word confound and a reaction in the wicked just like yours is all over the Book of Mormon in places like Jacob 2:8 and Mosiah 12:19.)

Your mistreatment of Anna has only served to strengthen her commitment to Jesus Christ. If anything, what you did to her has damaged her thoughts feelings toward the Church: creating cracks of confusion in an unblemished Mormon faith where there were none before. That matters not. What matters to me, her mother, is that you have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to Anna’s testimony of the Savior.

hannahannaThat’s in whom our ultimate devotion has always lain. Love of God is what I taught her since she was born. I have faithfully kept the Hannah promise I made when I conceived her and again when I named her and Anna has righteously, freely chosen to complete that promise. Her testimony of Jesus has nothing to do with either of you, and was already abiding with her when she left our home and entered the mission field.  Anna did not have to be converted to Christ while in the mission field. Her love for God was why she entered the mission field. Her desire to bring others hope was why she gave up a year and a half of her life. It was because her heart for God and her love for others was 100% sincere. It always has been. That’s my Anna. Her father and I know that we had little to do with it, but you and the Church and the mission had absolutely nothing to do with it.

goldenhannah
Had I lived any closer to Ohio, and had my daughter not forbidden it, I would have come and personally given you the full fury of Mother Bear Hell for your immoral act of shaming, blaming, guilting and attempted brainwashing, for that is exactly what it was.

I know Anna was afraid to write to us about what happened on the Church’s server, knowing that it could be intercepted and read by anybody in “Club LDS”. Even though Anna denied it, I know she was somehow trained by your mindless MTC minions that it was somehow verboten for her as a missionary to be completely emotionally honest to her family back home. (There’s no such thing as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, since the Church demands the hedge clips for anything but the false positive spin of half-truth that makes the corporation and the brand look good.) I transcribed Anna’s letter back into electronic form and mailed it all over the place, to the most powerful LDS men that I knew, hoping that one of them would, in turn, forward my daughter’s witness on to contacts having even more clout in Salt Lake. I think this action was effective. A short time after I did my “Importuning Widow” impersonation, Anna was suddenly given permission to call us any time she wanted, for as long as she wanted, night or day, for the rest of her mission. (This occurred a week or two before the new policy of allowing a weekly missionary telephone call was announced and immediately carried out in the U.S.)

[Update as of July 2019 I’ve also heard that the Welch’s have been released. GOOD. And here I stomp the dust of my shoes on them. Whether my act did anything to encourage the shortening of their tenure, who’s to say. I’m just glad Michele’s got mitts put back on her claws. Go wreck somebody else’s life; Not the lives of the cream-of-the-crop guppies slogging it out on world’s spiritual battlefield in behalf of maintaining LD$ Corp’s annual tithing revenues.]


exceptforbears

What is it that has caused so great a change while my daughter was out there, full time, in the proverbial highways and hedges? What finally broke my shelf? It was the same horrible information that first threatened to break it nearly 5 years ago, near the end of October and beginning of November 1994: the character of Joseph Smith, Jr. The only reason the truth has taken this long to cut it’s way through is because I myself invested so much time in fighting it off.  

For a time, I thought I had found the answers to my questions about Joseph Smith in the writings of Richard and Pamela Price, much of which can be read online.  I didn’t trust this resource at first, but when I ran into it’s mention in an essay by Rock Waterman, I decided to investigate. They assert that Joseph Smith actually fought polygamy. He and Hyrum – the entire Smith family, in fact – were victims of conspiracy and revisionism. The head of the conspiracy was Brigham Young. He, with other polygamist conspirators, wrested the Church away from the Smith family. After the Martyrdom, they made sure to poison the heir-apparent, Joseph’s brother, Samuel Smith. Almost immediately after the Martyrdom, all the Church records and Church history began to be revised. In keeping with the Price’s premise, there is a theory based on the ballistics at the scene, that John Taylor and Brigham’s cousin, Willard Richards actually murdered the Smith brothers in Carthage themselves. The same assertion of Joseph’s innocence is made by attorney and author Ronald Karron, in his lengthy book, The Exoneration of Emma, Joseph and Hyrum, Part I.  I thought I had finally found my peace. I had finally found the answers I needed to put my doubts about the character of Joseph Smith to rest.

But then I ran across the original copy of a letter written in the handwriting of Joseph Smith himself.  The crack that had formed in 2014… the crack that had presumably been cleaned, anointed, bound and begun to heal a little… it burst back open and split apart even worse than before. The letter can be found online in the Joseph Smith Papers collection, though many complain that any html link to it seems to be deliberately and frequently changed. As of today, it is known as the Letter to Newel K, Elizabeth Ann, and Sarah Ann Whitney, 18 August 1842 and I found it here. While it is possible that this document could be a forgery, (do you see how I’m still acting like an abuser’s enabler here?) the Church doesn’t seem to think so. Neither do any of it’s apologist historians. What strikes me first is the writing style. The letter reads like the incoherent ramblings of an uneducated bumpkin who wouldn’t write except for the fact that him so horny. No wonder Joseph Smith preferred (or better said, actually desperately needed) to dictate aloud to scribes. He couldn’t write worth a damn, but he had a silver tongue. What strikes me most is the stark reality of the sneaky, slimy, reproachful character of a man who could write a letter such as this. All of these factors remind me very much of the abusive false priest who I was coerced, abandoned and shamed into receiving as my first husband.

Nauvoo August 18th 1842

Dear, and Beloved, Brother and Sister, Whitney, and &c.—

I take this oppertunity to communi[c]ate, some of my feelings, privetely at this time, which I want you three Eternaly to keep in your own bosams; for my feelings are so strong for you since what has pased lately between us, that the time of my abscence from you seems so long, and dreary, that it seems, as if I could not live long in this way: and <if you> three would come and see me in this my lonely retreat, it would afford me great relief, of mind, if those with whom I am alied, do love me; now is the time to afford me succour, in the days of exile, for you know I foretold you of these things. I am now at Carlos Graingers, Just back of Brother Hyrams farm, it is only one mile from town, the nights are very pleasant indeed, all three of you come <can> come and See me in the fore part of the night, let Brother Whitney come a little a head, and nock at the south East corner of the house at <the> window; it is next to the cornfield, I have a room inti=rely by myself, the whole matter can be attended to with most perfect safty, I <know> it is the will of God that you should comfort <me> now in this time of affliction, or not at[ta]l now is the time or never, but I hav[e] no kneed of saying any such thing, to you, for I know the goodness of your hearts, and that you will do the will of the Lord, when it is made known to you; the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty: only be careful to escape observation, as much as possible, I know it is a heroick undertakeing; but so much the greater frendship, and the more Joy, when I see you I <will> tell you all my plans, I cannot write them on paper, burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts, my life depends upon it. one thing I want to see you for is <to> git the fulness of my blessings sealed upon our heads, &c. you wi will pardon me for my earnest=ness on <this subject> when you consider how lonesome I must be, your good feelings know how to <make> every allowance for me, I close my letter, I think Emma wont come tonight if she dont dont fail to come to night. I subscribe myself your most obedient, <and> affectionate, companion, and friend.

Joseph Smith

 

Now add to this letter the little-known text of an unpublished revelation that Joseph Smith is said to have received for Marinda four months before:

 

Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have called upon me to know my will concerning my handmaid Nancy Marinda Hyde—behold it is my will that she should have a better place prepared for her, than that in which she now lives, in order that her life may be spared unto her; therefore go and say unto my servant, Ebenezer Robinson, and to my handmaid his wife—Let them open their doors and take her and her children into their house and take care of them faithfully and kindly unto my servant Orson Hyde returns from his mission, or until some other provision can be made for her welfare and safety. Let them to these things and spare not, and I the Lord will bless them and heal them if they do it not grudgingly, saith the Lord God; and she shall be a blessing unto them; and let my handmaid Nancy Marinda Hyde hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph in all things whatsoever he shall teach unto her, and it shall be a blessing upon her and upon her children after her, unto her justification, saith the Lord

 

If that isn’t Warren Jeffs much, I don’t know what is. It’s as easy as pie. Just get a new revelation and you, too, can change the flavor of your fuck*.

*Don’t worry! It’s authorized by God’s “Go-Ahead You Get Out of Jail Free To Copulate” Card!

shhh


It bothered me even as a child that Joseph had eloped with Emma because such dishonorable behavior from the Prophet of the Restoration didn’t make any sense.
 How could a man placed next in eminence to Christ himself act in such a manner around an issue as crucial, as important, as the covenant of marriage? I had been taught that the act of eloping was bad because it was tinged with overtones of promiscuity.  So why didn’t my parents or any of my Church leaders ever make any negative commentary about that. Why would this young, sincere, uncorrupted and true prophet of God, disrespect the wishes of his wife’s father? Wasn’t strict obedience to every covenant so important that it was a primary reason that Jesus gave for his own baptism? If he had married, I just can’t see Jesus choosing an elopement as the way to obey that covenant. Therefore, why would Christ ever have approved of Joseph doing such a thing? Why, would God have continued to work with Joseph afterward without first requiring a reconciliation of Joseph, as Church History claims the Lord demanded in other, lesser incidences. We read nothing in Church History of the Lord requiring Smith to completely confess, forswear and make full restitution for what he had done against his father-in-law and his wife. If Joseph really loved Emma, then why would he have asked Emma to potentially forever alienate herself and any of their future children from her father and her family? Why would he not have cared about the serious damage eloping would have done in those days to Emma’s own reputation, causing all others acquainted with the circumstances to constantly have a question in their minds his wife’s chastity and virtue ? Why would Joseph have been happy to have separated Emma from everyone and everything she knew unless he was acting as a narcissist?

narcissist

I have since learned that after Joseph’s initial request to marry Emma was very firmly and clearly rejected by her father Isaac, Joseph continued to persist, proposing a few other times.  (If I can not have it, then I want it) At one of these proposals, he attempted to showboat the situation by pulling up in a sharp new horsedrawn sleigh, dandied up in a fancy new suit of clothes that he’d bought with borrowed money off his friend Joseph Knight. (Borrowing and spending other people’s money without repaying it was another lifelong habit of Joseph Smith. Plus, Joseph used this dramatic sweeping-up-in-a-sleigh Santa Claus act with Newell K Whitney when the couple first arrived in Kirtland).  Regardless of Joseph’s antics, Isaac answered to Joseph’s proposals was always NO. Joseph’s act of defiance, in persuading Emma away anyway, was therefore a supreme display of disrespect toward his father-in-law.  (And you expect me to believe that God continued to work with such a man?) I also learned from Mormon Enigma: Emma Smith, jerichoroadthat Emma hadn’t even planned to marry on the morning of January 18, 1827. How does that even make any sense? You’d think that two lovers would have cooked this up for weeks. To me, it sounds like the individuals who cooked up the scheme were Joseph Smith and his buddy Josiah Stowell.  I’m not sure whether they helped her to decide, or simply strong-armed her through some means of blackmail or entrapment. The book also quotes Stowell as saying that Joseph got a revelation through his seerstone that Emma was to to be the one he’d marry.  Therefore, one would think that having desired her so strongly to have done all these socially taboo things, why would Joseph pursue any other woman ever, after that, for as long as Emma remained alive?

All of the above factors raise alarm bells for me, because they echo the sort of coercion I experienced as a very young adult woman. What if Emma had lost her virtue to Joseph and was threatened that it would be disclosed unless she married him? What if her own pride played a part in all this. I find her early statements about her reasons for marrying him rather odd in that they seem so unattached for a person who sacrificed everything by eloping in a fit of romantic passion. What if part of the reason Emma married him was actually protect her own reputation? Thereby she unwittingly began what must have been a very grievous lifelong pattern of covering for Joseph, since shielding his honor was the only way to shield herself, and the honor of her children? If Emma was such a catch, such a treasure, such a coveted-love-now-gained for Joseph, then why would he turn around in 1835 and seduce another woman? Less than eight wifeyyears after obtaining the coveted prize of Emma, he determined he had to have his housemaid, the very young teenager Fanny Alger.  (And she wasn’t the only young domestic that he eventually adulterously bedded via the ruse of plural marriage. How is Joseph Smith’s behavior any different than that of Potiphar’s wife?). How could he have thrown Emma away so soon and cheated on her so many times? Again, this pattern of committing adultery early in the marriage and more than once during the marriage matches the behavior of my first husband. What else can I conclude but that Joseph Smith really was not only a sexual predator but also a serial adulterer?

The second thing that shattered my image of Joseph Smith forever is the provenance, history and fate of the seer stone.  This one stone, which we are expected to believe Joseph used to deceive via treasure hunting and money-digging (a prosecutable offense known in those days as “disorderly conduct”); this same stone which provided Joseph with the manipulative authority, under the guise of a revelation, to declare that Emma should marry him; yes this same exact stone, THIS stone, was used to translate the very Book of Mormon. Are you seriously kidding me?! You expect me to believe that this tool of deceit suddenly became a tool of divine revelation when placed at the bottom of a white top hat with the face of a liar blocking the opening?!

beepboop

And it wasn’t even HIS stone! Would the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Lord of all things that in them are, seriously operate through a stolen stone? Would God seriously open up a so-called Dispensation of the Gospel through an unusual rock that was haphazardly unearthed by a laborer while he was digging a well?! Were people in that day and in those parts of New England actually so credulous that the equation swami = crystal ball ball really register to them as so believable and true that it came as no challenge to their brains to also accept that seer = stone?  For hell’s sake, I grew up being taught that crystal balls were Satan’s counterfeits of the Urim and Thummim. How hysterical is that?

In his dealings around the stone, Joseph Smith exhibited almost the same pattern as he did with Emma. He initially found the stone on the property of his neighbor, Willard Chase, whose sister was well-known as a glass-looker. The stone was apparently so unusual that it caused quite a sensation among the superstitious folk there in Upstate New York. Initially, Chase did not want to part with it, but Joseph begged, pleaded, persisted and pestered until he was finally granted permission to borrow it. (If I can not jerichoroadhave it, then I want it.) Joseph borrowed it for two years. Then, shortly after Chase finally got it back, he borrowed it again. He is quoted as saying that he couldn’t do the work without it.

Joseph made a special leather pouch for it and kept it on his person at all times, indicating by his behavior that it was a treasured possession which he considered to be his own property.  That stone became a central focus of his life, a near-obsession, something by which he was even identified.  So it comes as a shock, again, to learn the rest of the story.  Somehow the stone became his and not Willard Chase’s at last. Unbelievably, it sounds like he eventually had his fill of the object. For apparently, once the stone had fulfilled it’s usefulness to him, he just dumped it and walked away. This was what he did to people to; people like Martin Harris who mortgaged his farm and lost his marriage to finance the publishing of the Book of Mormon.

 

“After the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, early in the spring of 1830, before April 6th, Joseph gave the stone to Oliver Cowdery and told me as well as the rest that he was through with it, and he did not use the stone anymore.”

– David Whitmer

 

These two factors, in combination with my lifelong history of abuse issues has completely finished me off.

 

ENFJ

 

According to Elder Dallin H Oaks and other leaders who have similarly complained or parroted his message in their lectures to us, a proper testimony for a Latter-day Saints consists of this and only this. Members are to get up once a month and attempt the following: repeat back these five elements in their own words, do it as briefly as possible, sit down, shut up, and listen to everyone else do exactly the same thing until the meeting closes. A perfect Mormon Fast and Testimony meeting would also never have long lines of people waiting to speak, nor have long periods of silence in which nobody is speaking. So… let me see if I get this right.

1. Joseph Smith was a true prophet [therefore]
2. The Book of Mormon is true [therefore]
3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true [therefore]
4. The current President of the Church is a true prophet.
[Oh, yeah, I forgot] 5. Jesus is the Christ.

Let me illustrate what has happened to my testimony:

1. Historical evidence points to the conclusion that seer-stone peeping Joseph Smith was smooth-talking, charismatic con-man; skilled at deception and seeped in dishonesty.  Neither he nor his family were simple honest farming country folk living lives as pure as the driven snow. Horror of horrors, Joseph Smith was a false prophet. Therefore,
2. The Book of Mormon is false. Multiple evidences grow and continue to point to all the ways that this counterfeit Bible was fabricated.  Therefore,
3. If Joseph Smith was a false prophet, and he, along with a league of friends and family built up this Golden Bible scam, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that they founded is false. Therefore,
4. The current President of the Church is a false prophet. It doesn’t matter which Church… if it came from Mormonism, it is false.
5. NEVERTHELESS, JESUS IS STILL THE CHRIST!!!

Latter-day Saints of all flavors – mainstream, reorganized, fundamentalist and strange little one-horse schisms – are not willing to admit that everything about Mormonism is centered in a faith in Joseph Smith.  It is centered in a faith that he was what he said he was, experienced what he said he experienced, when he experienced them, and exactly how he experienced them – no omissions, additions, revisions, whitewashing or post-facto spin-doctoring necessary.  This is why it all comes crashing down when true-believing, truth believing, properly educated and carefully thinking members run into that pesky little thing called the Truth. When they discover that though it is a beautiful lie, it has all still been a lie. Ouch. That hurts. But wait, it gets worse.

I learned from various uberconservative sources last year that apparently, since his murder in Carthage, Joseph Smith has continued to attain to even greater heights of spiritual supremacy. I thought they were being overzealous. I thought they were going a bit overboard.  But now I think I thought wrong. These people are deadly serious.

You know those niches at the Salt Lake Temple where happy newlyweds like to blush and pose? These are where the statues of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith used to stand. As we learn from Moroni10.com “The niches are located right next to the east and west doors of the Salt Lake Temple. Their symbolism has reference to the temples of Israel. In the Old Testament, it reads that there would be door keepers at the temple standing watch and guarding the entrance. The niches on the Salt Lake Temple commemorate this guard post. These niches are also symbolic posts for angels that keep watch over the temple. When the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated, statues of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith stood in the niches by the East doors. The statues stood as sentinels keeping their watch. The statues were later removed and placed on the temple grounds. The temple niches have become a popular photograph spot for newlyweds, tourists and families visiting the temple.”

 
Are you seriously kidding me?!  Do you know how hearing that very phrase, so heavy with meaning to endowed LDS members, just makes my stomach roll?! Brigham Young said,“Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.” (Journal of Discourses 2:31) Please tell me how in the world it is at all possible that the imagery above has anything to do with, corresponds with or in any way matches the imagery below:

 

 

“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

Exodus 20: 2-4

 

church
I am coming to realize that despite their protestations to the contrary, the faith of the  Mormons really is in Joseph Smith and his family. This blows my mind.

But some, like me, are fortunate to have established a separate relationship, of their very own, on their own, and apart from the Mormon Church, with that One Whom the Mormons insist that they worship and Whose name they claim.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. This is why the fifth element is of my officially approved LDS testimony is the only one of the four still left standing. This is why it stands “boldly, nobly and independent, penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country and sounding in every ear” testifying that JESUS is the CHRIST, despite all else.

Joan048

As I survey the cracked halves of my broken shelf, I realize that I have been protecting and enabling my abuser all my life. I have been denying the root source of all the harm that has ever happened to me. All because I sincerely believed and really thought that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. All this because I believed that a poor, occult New Englander family’s homemade Bible counterfeit and the ecclesiastical home business they began, which was hijacked by Brigham Young and his buddies and which has now morphed into corporate institution that constantly whitewashes and revises it’s own history and policies, past and present… was true. Specifically,  that this organization was true to me and to all of it’s other members, especially the poor among them. This can not be so when that institution continues to spend billions of dollars protecting and defending past, present and future sexual predators instead of defending the poor in spirit at all costs.


[Video: “The Day the Stars Came Down” by Cherie Call]

Has anybody else besides me noticed in my Topics page that almost all the same blog posts which appear under Unrighteous Dominion also appear under Latter-day Saint?! Is anybody else besides me ready to admit that there is a definite connection? Does anybody else besides me wonder what their lives and the lives of their families might have been like, had the shadow of Joseph Smith’s deceptions never darkened it?

assailant

Does anybody else wonder why they fought so hard to deny what other people have been telling them for years? I fought classmates, debated teachers, angered professors, alienated suitors, fired therapists, turned down opportunities and denied myself countless times upon countless times: all in defense of Joseph and the phony church, gods, doctrines and religion which he and his confederates “fashioned out of whole cloth.” Yes, Jeffrey Holland, you heard me right.

Does anybody else besides me wonder what happiness and peace and love and joy they’ve missed out on while suffering through decades of abuse, alienation, abandonment, anger, auto-immune disease, attack on maternal rights, awkwardness, being ignored, betrayal, blame, castigation, complete social rejection, condemnation, criticism, crying, defenselessness, despair, depression, deep jerichoroaddiscouragement, disappointment, discounted, disillusionment, divorce, embarrassment, emotional numbness, gossip, grief, grooming, guilt, gut problems, heartbreak, heath problems, horror, humiliation, hyper-vigilance, loneliness, loss, identity loss, injustice, marital rape, medical sexual assualt, neediness, nightmares, pain, pariah-ism, poor self-esteem, racism, rage, rejection, rebellion against priestcraft and unrighteous dominion (along with the harsh punishment that comes with it), rampant but denied misogyny, ridicule, sadness, self-hatred, self-isolation, self-punishment, sexism, silence, shame, shunning, suicidal ideation, terror, weeping, victimized, vilification, unrighteous judgement and complete personal ruin?

 

What if the primary reason for all of this happening in my life actually is this parasitic witch of a phoney bride of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself?!

 

wherewillyougo

Ballard’s assertion is a perversion of John 6:66-70, placing the Church as the usurping “glass darkly”, standing as a self-proclaimed, unauthorized, unnecessary intermediary between members and Christ, thereby obscuring and obstructing their view of Him. Is that really what charity looks like?



I never thought I would be in such a situation. So, here I am, having gone through another disillusionment, another round of the five stages and looking toward another divorce: this time from my religion.  I’m 45 years old and the mask that was welded to my face from birth has finally been torn off. I find that my paternal grandfather was correct after all, in his abiding distrust and avoidance of all organized religion. I find that the songs I sang as a teenager, rebelling against the abuse of my parents and their religion-soaked justifications of their behavior, apply just as much now as they did back then. Only this time, I’m not ashamed of myself at all.

This time, I am not alone; having come to find Jesus Christ for myself in the ensuing 30 years, thanks much in part by how I have been so woefully mistreated by most of my  priesthood leaders within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Seer? Stone? I need no usurper, no poser. Delegated authority? Bippity bappity bullshit.


[Video: “Losing My Religion” by Lauren Daigle]

The Rock has not abdicated his throne. He rules and reigns. Jesus Christ is my whole foundation. He is not just the chief cornerstone shoved off to the side by this circus of so-called apostles and prophets who do everything they do in his name and therefore take it in vain. If I was thrown down into a pit by my brothers in the House of God, and sold into bondage, as Joseph of Egypt was, then it was the same God that I found at the bottom of it – faithful and ever true –  just as the son of Jacob discovered when he was abandoned by all men. An Holy One will surely come… and He does. Because Love never fails.

whycallestthoumegood

The Man With Many Names https://youtu.be/SWLXep0IVqM

 


[Video: Hymn “The Solid Rock” as sung by the Peasall Sisters.]

 

 

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