50 points to the first person who finds evidence that Mr. Deity may have been Mormon in a former life.
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DO YU HAVE FAITH IN AND TESTIMONY OV GOD TEH ETERNAL FATHR, HIZ SON JESUZ CHRIST, AND TEH HOLY GHOST?
DO YOUZ HAVE TESTIMONY OF TEH ATONEMENT OF CHRIST AND OV HIZ ROLE AZ SAVIOR AND REDEEMR? KTHX.
No, I’m no longer convinced that I need saving from anything.
DO U HAVE TESTIMONY OF TEH RESTORASHUN OV TEH GOSPEL IN THEEZ, TEH LATTR DAYZ?
No. The Orthodox churches look a lot more like the New Testament than the LDS church. The LDS church looks more like a mixture of the various influences in Joseph Smith’s life, fermented in Rocky Mountain isolation, and filtered through modern American culture. Not so much like a restoration of early Christianity.
DO U SUSTAIN TEH PRESIDENT OF TEH CHURCH OF JESUZ CHRIST OF LATTR-DAY SAINTZ AZ TEH PROFET, SER, AND REVELATR AND AZ TEH ONLY PERSON ON TEH EARTH HOO POSSESSEZ AND AR AUTHORIZED 2 EXERCISE ALL PRIESTHOOD KEYZ? DO YOO SUSTAIN MEMBERZ OF TEH FIRST PRESIDENCY AND TEH QUORUM OV TEH TWELVE APOSTLEZ AZ PROFETZ, SEERZ, AND REVELATORZ? DO YOO SUSTAIN TEH UDDR GENERAL AUTHORITIEZ AND LOCAL AUTHORITIEZ OF TEH CHURCH?
DO U LIVE TEH LAW OV CHASTITY?
Hmm, if I go by the temple ceremony that the “law of chastity … is that no one of you will have sexual intercourse except with your [spouse] to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded”, then yes.
AR THERE ANYTHIN IN YORE CONDUCT RELATINS TO MEMBERZ OV YOAR FAMILY THAT AR NOT IN HARMONY WITH TEH TEACHINGZ OF TEH CHURCH?
I feel happy to be free of church-service—induced absenteeism from family service and the requirement to indoctrinate my children instead of teaching them to think for themselves.
Let me be charitable and assume that this question was meant to ask whether I am a good husband, parent, son, etc. under the assumption that the church is good for families. Then, yes.
DO YOUZ SUPPORT, AFFILIATE WITH, OR AGREE WITH ANY GROUP OR INDIVIDUAL HOOSE TEACHINGZ OR PRACTICEZ AR CONTRARY TO OR OPPOSE THOSE ACCEPTED BY TEH CHURCH OV JESUZ CHRIST OF LATTR-DAY SAINTZ?
Hell! I am one of those individuals.
DO U STRIVE 2 KEEP TEH COVENANTZ YOO HAVE MADE, TO ATTEND YORE SACRAMENT AND UDDR MEETINGZ, AND TO KEEP YORE LIFE IN HARMONY WITH TEH LAWZ AND COMMANDMENTZ OF TEH GOSPEL?
No. Instead, I’m striving to be a good person.
IS YU HONEST IN YOAR DEALINGZ WITH YORE FELLOWMEN? KTHX.
R YOUZ FULL-TITEH PAYR? KTHX!
No. However, I am accepting applications from charities that I can verify are doing good things with my money. Can I see your books?
DO YUR KEEP TEH WORD OF WISDOM?
Yes, with one exception: I don’t drink mild alcoholic drinks as suggested in D&C 89:17. Instead, I abstain from all alcohol.
DO U HAVE FINANCIAL OR UDDR OBLGASHUNZ T 4MR SPOUSE OR CHILDREN? IF YEZ, IS U CURRENT IN MEETIN THOSE OBLIGASHUNZ?
IF YOUZ HAVE PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED YUR TEMPLE ENDOWMENT: DO YU KEEP TEH COVENANTZ THAT U MADE IN TEH TEMPLE? DO U WEAR TEH GARMENT BUDD NITE AND DAY AZ INSTRUCTED IN TEH ENDOWMENT AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH TEH COVENANT U MADE IN TEH TEMPLE?
No and no.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY SINZ OR MISDEEDZ IN YUR LIFE THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN RESOLVED WITH PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITIEZ BUT HAVE NOT BEEN?
DO YU CONSIDR URSELF WRDY 2 ENTR TEH LORDZ HOUSE AND PARTICIPATE N TEMPLE ORDINANCEZ? KTHXBYE!
Yes, though I probably won’t attend. I haven’t missed going these past two years. I take my naps at home these days.
Actually, I feel better now that I don’t feel like a schmuck for not attending. Toward the end, trying to get meaningful insights at the temple—something that would make me a better person—was rather like trying to wring water from a dry sponge. I tried really hard, but I received little reward. Mostly, I felt good for fulfilling my obligation to attend… and a little better rested.
(Special thanks to the LOLCAT Interactive Translator.)
[Now that I've answered the questions without reviewing my previous answers, let me take a look, return, and report.… It's funny to see how little has changed. I gave very similar answers in some cases. The biggest thing to have changed is my general lack of angst. My reaction is generally "meh" unless I start thinking about being barred from my daughters' weddings. Grrrr.]
I had a strange dream last night. I see your eyes glazing over already. Listening to other people’s dreams bores you. I get that. I want to share anyway.
I dreamt that I was in the middle of a garden where I enjoyed every earthly delight.
Then a man dressed in white approached me. He looked like a Mormon bishop from my childhood. He told me that I should follow him. I hesitated because I didn’t want to leave. He told me that my eyes deceived me about the beauty of the garden. Trusting this fatherly man, I turned around to look at the garden and saw that it had turned into a gray wasteland full of hidden dangers and death. I turned back to the man and gratefully followed him through the trackless waste.
In time, I saw that he was leading me to a large tree where I saw my parents beckoning to me. They were eating fruit from the tree and seemed to be very happy. The man pointed out an iron railing that led along a trail to the tree. He told me to hold fast to this iron rod so that it would guide me to the tree. I put my hand on the railing and started to walk along the narrow path.
To the side of the path, I saw a polluted river with terrifying rapids that threatened to crush anyone unwise enough to fall in. I held even tighter to the rod and pressed on.
Suddenly, a fog arose along the path and blinded me. As darkness robbed me of sight, I felt confused and unsure if I was heading in the right direction. I remembered what my guide had said, felt my hand grasp the comforting rail of iron and pressed forward.
The fog dissipated and I could see that I was getting closer to my parents. I looked around me and saw other dark paths with people following them. I pitied the people who had gotten lost or who had never found the right path. I called to them, but they seemed determined to follow the wrong paths. Sadly, I turned my head back to the tree and my awaiting parents.
As I was about to set my foot on the grassy field where the tree stood, I heard laughter. I turned and saw a huge building that seemed to reach into the sky. From its balconies, people were pointing at me and mocking. They were drinking and carousing and laughing. I felt briefly ashamed and hurt by their mocking. I saw crowds of people entering the building’s doors. Only a few remained on the path. Gathering my pride, I turned back to my loving parents who anxiously called to me, telling me how sweet the tree’s fruit tasted. I turned my back on the mockers and stepped up to the tree.
I pulled down the nearest fruit. It shone brightly white in the sun and I took my first bite. I tasted sweet on my tongue but left an almost overwhelming bitterness in my mouth as I swallowed. I retched as quietly as I could so that no one would notice. I looked at my family and friends who were eating the fruit. They seemed enraptured. I must have picked a rotten fruit. I chose another fruit close by.
I tasted the same sweetness followed by bitterness. I didn’t react as violently this time. Perhaps it took a refined palate to appreciate the flavor of this fruit. Everyone seemed to be watching me to see how I liked the fruit. I smiled and kept trying to find a ripe fruit on the tree, not wanting to admit that I didn’t enjoy the fruit as much as everyone else. Satisfied, they returned to eating the fruit. Between mouthfuls, they chatted about how wonderful the fruit tasted. They never seemed to tire of talking about the fruit.
Eventually, I got tired of the bitterness of the fruit and the repetitiveness of the chatter and sat down on the grass to think. As I was lost in thought, another mist of darkness blinded me. I sat still waiting for it to pass. As the sunlight returned, I noticed something new: the people going to the large building were wading through the river to get there. I couldn’t believe my eyes as they walked easily through the pounding torrent. I had to see for myself.
I walked to the water’s edge and dipped my foot in. I felt no current. Growing more courageous, I stepped out into the water. The water dissipated and I realized that it was only a mirage. I boldly crossed to the other side and walked up to the entrance of the building.
A young woman greeted me with open arms and a cheery smile and ushered me inside. A grand garden dominated the center of the building. It reminded me of the garden that I had left. I felt apprehensive to face the mocking crowds. Instead of mocking me they called me out onto a balcony where they talked and laughed and played. They had so many interesting things to say and they seemed to really enjoy their time together. It felt so good to just listen.
A few were calling out from the balcony. I walked over and looked out over the field that I had left. The river was missing, as I had expected. The mists of darkness that had blinded me were also transformed. They were almost blindingly white. It reminded me of that time I had flown out of an airport as a snowstorm was coming in. I think it was the first time I had ever flown. The gray clouds hung ominously over the airport. As the airplane lifted off, we headed through the clouds. When we crossed through to the other side, the clouds that had so frightened this first time flier were a brilliant white. I never expected this but it made perfect sense.
I returned from my reminiscences and looked again over the field. I noticed that many trees stood in the field, not just the one I had eaten from. A vast horde of people wandered around in the field going from tree to tree, many more than those who found their way into the building. Once in a while as they trudged through the mud with heads hung low and ate their bittersweet fruit, a fog would make some of them stop and look around. Most returned to their wandering. A few noticed the building and headed toward it.
Some of my new friends were calling out to others, anyone who would listen. They beckoned to them, inviting them to join the discussion and enjoy the party. I joined my friends in calling out to the people I had left behind in the field. My calls fell on deaf ears. They seemed convinced that I was trying to attack them. I pleaded with them that I had found joy in the building and just wanted them to share in my happiness. My pleas fell on deaf ears.
Sorrowfully, I returned to the party in the garden.
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.—Oscar Wilde
I accept that idea with some skepticism. It contains a grain of truth, especially when we create the taboo that tempts us. We all know the power of the forbidden fruit. Tell any one of us that we can’t do something, and suddenly it tempts us.
In The Natural History of Alcoholism, Dr. George E. Vaillant found that cultures which forbid children from drinking and condone adult drunkenness (e.g. Ireland) have much higher incidence of alcoholism than cultures which allow children to occasionally sample alcohol and which look down upon adult drunkenness (e.g. Italy). Further, children from families who forbid drinking at the dinner table but the adults drink elsewhere are seven times more likely to become alcoholics than children who grew up with adults drinking at the dinner table and drunkenness was forbidden.
(I wonder about the incidence of alcoholism among those who completely forbid alcohol.)
What I take away from that study is that in cultures where drinking will take place, it is critical that adults model moderation and make alcohol an ordinary part of life. Making alcohol a rite of passage or a secret pleasure for adults only makes alcoholism more likely.
I want to make a connection to our culture’s attitudes toward sex. I don’t have a study to cite. I have only my own experience of growing up in a culture that treats nudity and sexuality as secret rites of passage and of later rejecting those notions. We display these attitudes everywhere: we label erotic materials as “adult”, you can’t see a woman’s bare breast in a movie until you are 17, and we allow ourselves to be distracted from two wars by a few seconds of Janet Jackson’s nipple because we’re worried that children might have see it. We seem to believe that children would be asexual if not exposed to adult sexuality.
The church of my youth took this further. The LDS church taught me that I shouldn’t allow myself to express my sexuality in any meaningful way until I was a married adult. They made even sexual thoughts taboo. No wonder then that members of that culture have dysfunctional relationships with sexuality. Abuse of pornography runs rampant within the church.
I commend the LDS church leadership for addressing this issue, yet their strategy saddens me:
On the other hand, howeverâ€”and extremely alarmingâ€”are the reports of the number of individuals who are utilizing the Internet for evil and degrading purposes, the viewing of pornography being the most prevalent of these purposes. My brothers and sisters, involvement in such will literally destroy the spirit. Be strong. Be clean. Avoid such degrading and destructive types of content at all costsâ€”wherever they may be! I sound this warning to everyone, everywhere.…
My beloved friends, under no circumstances allow yourselves to become trapped in the viewing of pornography, one of the most effective of Satan’s enticements. And if you have allowed yourself to become involved in this behavior, cease now. Seek the help you need to overcome and to change the direction of your life. Take the steps necessary to get back on the strait and narrow, and then stay there. (Thomas Monson, April 2009 General Conference)
They think it best to heap on more fear and guilt for being a sexual being before you are married. The LDS—and American—fascination with sex results from a perverse set of mixed messages. I fell prey to that fascination as a child and only recently escaped. I appreciate that many of us believe we should protect children from their sexuality while (married) adults can properly enjoy sexuality away from their fragile eyes. But I see an analogy to the cultures that have high levels of alcoholism.
I recently rejected that culture and its mixed messages too. I learned to be titillated by sexual material—a healthy human response—and yet to avoid being swept away by guilt or fear. In truth, sexuality has lost some of its naughty savor as it became an ordinary part of my life enjoyed in moderation.
I suggest that we change our messages about sex to the next generation. Rather than sending them the message that seeing adult nudity is too dangerous for children, we should make nudity perfectly ordinary. I don’t foresee becoming a nudist, but viewing fine art nudes—along with other fine arts—could become an ordinary, nourishing part of childhood. We can divorce nudity from sexuality.
Likewise, we could give balanced information about sexuality and its consequences instead of short, uncomfortable, shamed discussions or over-the-top portrayals of sex in the movies. What our children need is real information.
If pornography becomes epidemic despite all our efforts, we must conclude that what we’re doing doesn’t work. We need to set aside our ideologies and ask ourselves what helps our children to grow up healthy and happy. Perhaps it is time to become more comfortable with sexuality, teaching our children through our examples how to enjoy it responsibly.
I remember being told as a youth to strap a rubber band around my wrist. Whenever I had an unworthy (i.e. sexual) thought, I was supposed to snap the rubber band, causing pain. The idea was that I would begin to form a negative association with unworthy thoughts. In other words, this was a rudimentary form of aversion therapy suggested by my Mormon leaders.
This was just an idea floated out there, so I never really wore a rubber band. I had no idea how far the Mormon leadership actually took aversion therapy until recently. Many homosexual youth were subjected to aversive shock therapy in order to convert them to heterosexuality. They viewed graphic homosexual pornography in a laboratory, lab workers shocked them when they became aroused. They would then view heterosexual pornography while soothing music was played. Many of the patients had never viewed such pornography to that point in their lives.
Main Street Plaza recently highlighted a short documentary—Legacies—about men who underwent this therapy.