Clearly, he’s a smooth criminal.
Edit 2: Okay, I think what I’ll do is have a separate personal blog, and then make announcements here, or just provide a sidebar or something when I make posts. That way I feel like I’m incorperating all of my life into a giant whole being, but not feel like I’m shoving it in your faces.
Edit: This is an experiment for my thoughts. I feel bad, because this isn’t professional to do, but I’m curious if it helps me or lets others into my mind. I don’t know if I should be doing these sorts of blog posts, but I’m just going to throw it out there, see what happens. Maybe I’ll do more, maybe stop it altogether. I dunno, your thoughts on that?
I feel bad, I never put anything positive on my blog. I should get into practice of doing that…
You’d think that with a Master of Engineering (Mechanical) from an Ivy League school, I wouldn’t have any trouble getting a job.
That’s what I thought, but here I am, over a year graduated and still looking for a job. It’s a bit discouraging.
If anyone knows someone who needs a Mechanical Engineer….
I love games, and recently I’ve been playing a fair bit of board game types.
I really like Dominion and Settlers of Catan, and have both complete sets.
Quick update: Today’s comic will be a couple days late. I had trouble with the storyboard and sent it to the artist late. My fault, not his. Trying to get ahead so that doesn’t happen.
I like using this space as my blog posting. This has nothing to do with the comics, so don’t read if you don’t want to.
I read on Cracked about somebody’s experiences with Scientology, and it got me thinking about my own experiences with Mormonism. It definitely wasn’t as bad as this guy’s experience, but there was still some screwy things that happened.
The Church was in every aspect of your life
So, I grew up in Utah County, Utah State. First of all, yes, that’s a place. Second of all, that’s pretty much the central nerve hive of Mormonism, or as it’s formally known, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” (You can guess why people call it Mormonism.) This is the place where the public schools are about 80% Mormon, minimum, and I grew up in a neighborhood with an even higher concentration. I think before I left for college I knew exactly three people who were non-mormon. One of them was an exchange student.
That meant there was no escape from the church, no true respite. First off were the official meetings. Every Sunday from my birth I would spend three hours at church, listening to boring people talk about about the same thing over and over again. But this was only the official thing, the mandatory meeting. There were a ton more “optional” church things you were supposed to be part of. This included:
Monday nights: Family Home Evening. You’re supposed to have a Sunday School lesson taught by your parents every Monday as a family unit. That’s another hour of church.
Wednesday nights: Youth activities, every Wednesday. This was the least “churchy” of the meetings, as it was Boy Scouts for me. But still, there was a lot of “wholesome” activities that often had prayer and community-driven events. i.e. religious.
Home Teachers/Visiting Teachers: Every month, the men would go out as Home Teachers to another family and have a personalized church meeting with them, and the women would go out as Visiting Teachers to have a personalized church meeting with the family. Don’t ask me why they were called different things. But that’s another hour or so each month (depending on how talkative your neighbors are.)
Seminary: Oh boy, Seminary. During High School, everybody is “encouraged” to take four years of seminary classes. So, instead of some useful class, we’d have to take a period and study the LDS scriptures. Again. That was about 1 1/2 hours every other day, due to my High School’s class schedule.
Oh, and the High Schools had this convenient way to sign up for “release time” for Seminary, and a convenient plot of land the church just happened to own next to them. You know, since this was a public school.
So, at minimum, I had at least 10 hours of dedicated church time each week. Minimum. And that’s not including the “natural” stuff about church that would crop up in conversations because I only knew like 3 non-Mormon people.
Of course, it was all…”optional,” which brings me to my next point.
Everything is “optional” (but not really)
So, there’s this weird thing in the LDS church: it’s run democratically. Every member actually votes the President in, along with the high leadership. Once every year, you either affirm the current leadership or voice your complaints and vote against them. After all, the entire church doctrine says that everyone has personal revelation and free will, so that should should be reflected in how the church is run.
Of course, to vote against them would be to vote against God, so nobody actually does.
And that is pretty much how every aspect of the church is run. Everything is voluntary, even the positions, but only in the most technical sense of the word. For example, I was “suggested” to be in a leadership position for my age group. So, the local manager of the church called me into the office and asked me if I wanted to do it. I was (and still am) a dense and literal guy, so I said “no.” Because I didn’t want to do it. So I was asked again. And again. And explained why I should take this position. And, after about an hour of this I started to realize that I wasn’t allowed to leave his office until I said “yes.” (Which didn’t stop me from having a staring contest for a while. I’m kinda stubborn.)
And that’s pretty much how it is with everything in the church. It’s why I ended up in four years of Seminary classes even though I loathed every minute of it.
You’re expected to be perfect. It doesn’t matter what age.
What do you imagine a troubled teen is? Somebody who does sex and rock and roll, that sort of thing? Rides with the wrong crowds?
Yeah, in my neighborhood I was the troubled teen. The valedictorian of my class, with my crazy parties of board and video games. So troubled.
Know why I was considered troubled? Because I didn’t lie and pretend to be something I wasn’t. I admitted I didn’t know if the church was true (how could I, I was just a teenager? How could I really know anything?) And I told them I was bored during Sunday School, because they kept rotating the same lessons in and out. And I said I didn’t want to go on that stupid hike through the wilderness to pretend to be the Mormon exiles that went from Missouri to Utah (yes, that’s a thing that happened. “Optional,” again.) Or that I didn’t want to participate in that literal song and dance routine we had to perform for some sort of anniversary of the founder, Joesph Smith.
I was pulled aside by the local church leader for “being on the fence” and “my soul in danger.” Yes. For being bored and a bit mouthy. As a teenager, imagine that.
The most annoying phrase that was pounded into me was “Of what much is given, much is required.” Basically, since we were so “blessed” by being born into the church and having the “truth,” we had tons of obligations. Basically, we had to be perfect.
Obviously, everybody was always a disappointment, and you had to constantly be praying and asking for forgiveness because literally weren’t perfect.
I started to go insane. Literally
I have clinical depression. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I was constantly told I wasn’t good enough in life, and that I had to listen to invisible voices in my head that would guide me.
Again, I’m a very literal person, so when I was told that the Holy Spirit would speak to me and guide me, I listened and tried to listen to that invisible voice. Except the problem was I’m clinically depressed. Now, a little thing about Depression, it’s not just being “sad,” there’s a whole lot of side effects that your brain starts to invent to deal with it. I had anxiety attacks because I depressed around people, and so thought that social interactions were stressful. I became paranoid, thinking that people were intentionally mistreating me to make me miserable. And I also started developing OCD because doing certain ticks and routines made me feel better. Particularly washing my hands.
Now, take a person like that and tell them they need to trust their instincts, for that’s God guiding them. Everything was amplified. I’d get a sudden idea in my head, and I’d have to take a different route home from school, even if it took me 10 minutes longer because what if it was the holy spirit guiding me!?
Fortunately, my story of that ends up okay, as I calmed down a lot and have been able to function like a normal human being.
Oh. But even after I left the church, I had to deal with the fact that now suddenly everyone hated me.
It’s a giant social clique
You know the stereotypical “mean girls” of high school? The ones that mock and tease other people for not conforming to what they value? Yeah, that was the people in my area, and they used the church as a way to do that.
“Oh, I don’t allow my children to play video games on sunday, that’s disrespectful.” “Well, we don’t even have a television, there’s so much filth on it!”
Everything was a competition of “holier than thou,” and it was increasingly petty and weird. Nothing could be done right, and, if you were like me and not exactly…socially adept, you were pretty much screwed. These were the people you were interacting with day in and day out (Again, 10 hours minimum of church activities each week.) So if you were the target to made fun of…good luck getting out of that.
Fortunately, I was nearly oblivious to all this. That was one upside of my socially awkwardness.
The religion is incredibly racist and sexist (and nonsensical)
“White and delightsome” is a very common phrase in the Book of Mormon, the Mormon supplement to the Bible. Being black, (or any non-white race), is actually a curse from God. This isn’t something that’s emphasized a lot in current society, as you might guess. But the basis of the Book of Mormon is that Jews sailed over from Jerusalem and founded the Americas, becoming Native Americans. (I did say it was nonsensical.)
Then, through wickedness, half the population was cursed by God with dark skin, the descendants of all the Native Americans. The other half, the white and good people, were good for a long time, but eventually slain by the dark-skinned people.
Yes. This is all a thing.
Now, sexism. The church doctrine says that men and women are distinct and different, and that they have completely different souls, and they have different roles in life. Here is your life goal as a woman: get married, have children, and teach them. Be a homemaker. Here is it for a man: go on a mission for two years, teaching the religion to others. Go to college, get married. Become the caretaker and supplier of the family, and lead the family unit with your wisdom.
Only men can hold positions of power in the church.
So, did you catch that “go on a mission for two years” thing? Well, when you graduate high school, as a man you are supposed to “volunteer” to teach the religion. We’re talking about 18 year olds here. Every male is supposed to be so secure in their testimony that they can go do this. (If you’re female, you can do it. If you want.)
Of course no teenager is actually like this, so you’re told to fake it until you do believe in it with all your heart. You’re even sent to a “boot camp,” the mission training center, where you’re surrounded by nothing but the church and religious things. No outside contact except for the occasional letter from home. Yes, in this day and age, letters are your only communication. You are isolated and, frankly, brainwashed, then thrown out into the middle of a completely different area, often a different language too. This social isolation continues throughout the entire two years, where all you have to do is talk about religion and how true it all is. You have one day a week of break, and even then you’re supposed to be prepping yourself for the other six. This does not sound healthy to me at all.
Oh, and you have to pay for this all out of your own pocket.
Being Mormon is expensive! First off, you have a flat 10% of your income you pay to the church no matter what. (Gross or Net is “up to your conscious.”) Then there’s fast offerings, which goes to the poor (where does the other 10% tithe go to? The church doesn’t need to tell you…) And a bajillion other little ways they get your money.
Of course, this is all “optional.” Right, just read what I said above about how “optional” everything is in the church. But you have to pay that 10% tithing if you want to do any of the super-secret ceremonies in the temple that will help save your soul. Like marriage. Yes, to get married in the church, you have to be found worthy of them, part of which is to make sure you pay your 10% tithing. And you can’t go to the highest tier of heaven (yes, there are tiers of heaven) without having a heterosexual eternal marriage. It can be polygamous, except for right now because the “law of the land” outlaws polygamy, so the church rescinded that law to… I don’t even understand the whole polygamy thing with the Mormon church. It’s like a…lesser law?
Anyway, not only do you have to pay 10% tithe to get married, you have to pay that to witness the marriage ceremony, because it occurs in the temple and you’re not worthy otherwise. I haven’t seen the wedding ceremonies of either of my sisters, one because I was too young, and the other because I left the church. I only got to see the wedding reception.
Oh. And communism.
Guess what the promises you make to the church are during your wedding vows? That everything you now own or will own is now theirs, and you’re just a custodian for it until they ask for it back.
Yet, people have such a double-think and are so loyal to the U.S. (the church was founded in New York,) that they are all about Capitalism. Mention that the church is communistic, and they will vehimitely deny it.