We were just sitting there in our home in the beautiful jungles of Belize, Central America, talking about our many blessings, when the brethren from the Church knocked on our door.  They'd come from our branch leadership and from as far away as El Salvador to challenge us about our membership in the Church.  Ironically, the two senior missionaries in our area had just stopped by and left.  They were grousing to us about all the problems they were facing in their labors caused by the horrid inefficiency of the Church in this small country.  Problems that had forced them to ask for their early release from their missions so they could go home and lick their wounds.  Problems that we had seen, as well, that had troubled us and, in part, forced our withdrawal of our allegiance to and interest in the Church.

 

The two brethren wanted to know why we had posted an inquiry at a well known polygamy site---Polygamy Now.  Nothing could have caught us more by surprise.  They had been sent by the mission president to check us out.  Our first reaction, until we caught our breaths, was . . . did the Church really have a "gestapo" and "narcs" that were out there rifling through the dissident web sights, checking up on members who were in rebellion or, as with us, merely asking hard questions.

 

Accordingly, we told them, that we were too far down the road to enlightenment to ever return to their fold and function as fully enfranchised members, staunch members, as we had before, for many decades.  "Please remove our names from the records of the Church," we told them, after the discussion had died.  We were very upbeat and, interestingly, so were they.  They could tell that we were not going to be persuaded by all the things we'd heard before, ad nauseum.  And so the deed was done.  There had been too many lies heaped on our heads.  Too much revised history.  Too much silliness in the name of salvation and survival on this planet.  I had been branch president.  My wife had been a youth leader and seminary teacher.  The possibility that we might begin to influence others in ways contrary to the party line of the Church weighed heavy on the brethren's minds---which frankly we never would have done.  One of the big problems of the Church is that everybody is always being a missionary.  "Now that you have learned the truth, go an drag others into your persuasion"---that sort of thing.  What they didn't know is that we weren't going to do that any more.  No more missionary work.  We weren't going to try to convince others that the Church wasn't true---which it is not.  We were going to be content to live and let live.  We had found the path we wanted to walk and that was sufficient.  We were willing to give up family and friends (which we ultimately did) for the truth that we had found.  Because the truth was sufficient in itself.  And the happiness we've found is sufficient.  And the amazing revelation that the spirit did not leave us because we had "rebelled" or apostatized, as the Church has always taught us that it would do, has led us into amazing discoveries---each bringing to us an element of happiness and adventure that has enriched our lives.

 

What an amazing discovery it was for us to discover that God is not a tyrant, but that he loves us in spite of the "human" ways we live our lives.  God is in favor of enlightenment and experience, not obedience or control.  I've since decided that no longer will I be able to worship any god that wants me to worship him.  I mean, why would I want to do that?  That person doesn't sound like a very nice person at all.  The voice of the spirit has told us very clearly, almost daily if we engage in the conversation, that God does not operate by fear or guilt or shame---hallmarks of the Mormon Church (although they deny it) and hallmarks of Christianity, as it is understood in the world today.  The real Christ was not that kind of person, and it is sometimes clear from the occasional truths that seep out between the lines in the Bible and the experiences of women and men.  Otherwise what we read is usually fabulous fiction, and we don't have much to do with it any more.  Although, we do like the nice people that may espouse the views of contemporary Christianity and the Mormon Church---when they will espouse us and give us the freedom to think what we will, without feeling they have to change us or beat us up.  Otherwise we would be very lonely.

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The Church, as you have discovered Brian, will do whatever it takes to protect the "good name" of the Church.  If that means kicking out people like ourselves from spreading the good word, that's something they don't hesitate to do because of the potential for damages and losses.  It really isn't anything new.  Take for instance the parable of the tree being hewn down because it doesn't bring forth fruit.  Well, the moment we stopped being followers and contributing our time, talents and our money, the church no longer had use for us.  The truth is we no longer had use for the church and like a surgeon removed the bad limb our ourselves.  Yes it hurt for a bit, but now I'm healed and recovered.  I don't think I'll ever be fully recovered from the poison of mormonism, meaning I can't ever forget it.  It's part of me and who I am.  But I am no longer subject to it or it's so called authority. 

 

Like yourself, the happiness we found outside of the mormon dogma has set us free.  It's fantastic living an authentic life without pretending to be something different.  For myself, I have peace without any concern for the existence of a god.  What does matter is I exist.  I can determine my path.  I can learn from the examples of many different idealogies, philosophies and theologies.  But in the end, I choose my path and live it the best way I know how.  That's good enough for me. 

One can not prove that there is or is not a god. There is no hard evidence. An emotion or a feeling is not a valid source of evidence even though one may be willing to except it as valed. It would not holdup in a court of law. It is impossible to prove somthing that does not exsist. therefore man may rationalise that there may be one and base their hopes on that. We can prove that man has made up theories and stories about his existance and that those theories are in conflict with each other. Therefore we are left only with speculation as to its existance.We also have hard evidence of mans manipulative powers to controll others though a blind faith theology.I must conclude that a god does not exist.If one does exists it is evedent that it does not care about us or else he would let us know . As every king desires to be reconized and worshiped..

Epicurus- Greek 341-269 BC

Is god willing to prevent evil but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God

I agree, whole heartedly with the conclusions you state, Dan...based on the questions you ask.  However, if you change the questions then other conclusions are allowed.  For instance:  Maybe it is not important to "prove" that there is or is not a god.  Maybe it is merely "good" to go with the flow.  Maybe it is not in our "best" interest, or in the interest of a god, to prevent evil. Maybe it is important to allow it.  Or maybe it is important to acknowledge it and live with it.   The point being that if you change the questions, you change the answers.  And we could change the questions all day long.  If we are depending on the questions that others have asked, say St. Augustine, for example, then we'll  probably get answers in league with his very narrow and limited point of view.  However, if our quest is to ask our own questions, then the answers become more personal.  Maybe that's why our minds and our individual awarenesses are so limited and personal.  Maybe the fact that we get together at all on ideas and philosophies is the most amazing phenomenon of all.  Because, in fact, we never really do get together.  Even when people think they are agreeing on the questions they are asking, and on the answers they think they are finding, nothing could be further from the truth.  It looks like each of us  is pretty much alone in our quest, left to our own thoughts and conclusions.  Agreement appears to be illusion.  Agreement seems to elude us...because it's just not in the cards.  There really is no common ground.  And, maybe, this is the best place to begin with the questions.  What is there about thought that makes it so private?  What is there about our natures that causes us to be alone, while at the same time allows us to work together from time to time for the "common good," that allows to pursue what appear to be "common" goals?  One of the interesting things to me, through this very private process of moving beyond Mormonism, has been how much I disagree with where others that are likewise leaving the Church are going.  To me, it is as big a joke that people are moving into so-called Christianity when they leave the Church, as it was to be a part of the Mormon Church in the first place.  Talk about half truths and misinformation!  Talk about absurdities!  But that's where some people's journey is taking them.  Others take paths that lead to Buddism or Daoism or agnosticism or atheism---and they are just as absurd to me as the Christianity Path, based on my own personal experiences...and my own personal answers, based on my own personal questions.  So...to each his own.  Maybe this is the essence of true "religion."  To thine own self be true.  Maybe our individual answers are as valid to each of us as the questions and answers of others are to them.  Maybe we are somehow learning that agreeing to disagree, and living with it, is the truest form of worship.  Worship of self.  Worship of diversity.  Or what appears to be diversity.  In my studies of Quantum Mechanics I've concluded, for the present, that all things seem to be possible.  Maybe there are no absolutes.  Maybe uncertainty is king.  Our conclusions about such things---or anything---depend on the questions we are asking.  (Just some thoughts provoked by Dan's comments.)

Uhmm...could you be a little more clear on your own personal belief/non-belief about the existence of god.  The reply above really has me scratching my head.

 

Would you also please clarify this:

 

"Because, in fact, we never really do get together.  Even when people think they are agreeing on the questions they are asking, and on the answers they think they are finding, nothing could be further from the truth.  It looks like each of us  is pretty much alone in our quest, left to our own thoughts and conclusions.  Agreement appears to be illusion.  Agreement seems to elude us...because it's just not in the cards.  There really is no common ground."

 

This is totally confusing to me.  Makes no sense.  Sounds rather random.

I have no belief.  Only questions.  I guess you could say that I believe in questions.  I think finding the right questions to ask, about anything, is the essence of life.  In my own experience, when I talk with God (which I do often, actually whenever I want, often as if I were talking to myself, but whom I hear as clearly as I hear myself) he (male voice in my head, unless I'm specifically wanting to talk to women...in my head) tells me the truth based on the questions I ask.  The most challenging problem for me, in the past, has been in asking the right questions.  Unfortunately this is the dilemma in which the Mormon Church placed me.  For 67 years the Church taught me questions to ask, which in many ways was good, but it also taught me not to worry about other questions which I might have asked...and so I didn't ask them.  This situation has changed.  I've moved beyond Mormonism.  Maturity, experience, luck, various kindnesses from the unseen world---all of these things, and many others, have helped me increase my range of questions.  I've found very few answers, to date, in this process, but I'm a gamer.  I'm loving to look beyond.  But from the very first day that the voice within spoke to me and promised me that he/she/it would always be there, in spite of what I did (or how naughty I was)...that presence has always been there.  Never failing.  Not one time.  And every time I ask a question that it has never occurred to me before to ask I get a new answer.  And it is fun.  I love it.  And I love loving it.  It is nice to have such a friend---even if it is only I, myself, responding to myself.  The friend has been true and faithful to the promise that was made to me long ago.  It all depends on the questions I'm asking.

How do you decide whether a question is right?  You claim to hear a voice in your head when you talk to God.  How can you be sure it is the voice of God talking to you and not your own?  I have to say that it sounds very much like the kind illusion I lived as a mormon and have since left behind. 

The way I see it, there are no "right" questions.  Just answers you get to questions you ask...and answers to these kinds of questions come from all kinds of places...mostly from life.  But of course we process them in our brains.  I'm not looking to decide what for you is right, nor am I looking for you to decide for me.  The avoidance of pain seems to be pretty important most of the time...my own pain, unless I can see some good reason for it...and your  pain, in that I don't much like the idea that it's okay to "hurt" others.  So I try to avoid hurting others if I can, and deal with my own pain on a case-by-case basis.  And as for how can I be sure it's the voice of God and not my own I'm hearing when I hear a voice inside...it just doesn't matter.  I just don't want somebody else trying tell me what voice I'm hearing, if I'm hearing something that seems important.  It's up to me, and that's the way it will be.  In my world.  And how can you argue with that?  I don't think you can.  And isn't that nice.  No more arguments.  We may have to deal from time to time with things that aren't true, or are not necessarily true, so that we can live side by side; like being Republicans or Democrats, and such.  But that's an entirely different matter.  That which I choose to do will be the truest true I can find.  But it will be my true; and it doesn't have to be yours.  Isn't that nice for both of us?
When I referred to "right" questions earlier, I was thinking of questions that probe to the truth---not some predetermined question that qualifies under somebody's idea of right or wrong.  Just questions that work.  You probably wouldn't ask questions about horses if you were looking to find out something about dogs.  If you want to know something about quantum mechanics, you probably are wasting your time to ask questions that pretty much apply to Newtonian  physics.  If you want to know something about God...wheather there is one or not...you probably don't want to start out by telling this possible God what he is or what he isn't.  You have to let God be God...if there is a God.  Too many people in the churches are telling God what he can and cannot be for it to be a very productive exercise in finding ultimate truth.  At least it's not a very scientific approach.  Also, it's hard to prove a negative, of course, but if somebody could prove to me that there is no god I certainly would consider it a poor subject for consideration.  In the mean time, I remain teachable.  I just don't have much interest in nonsense.  Or in untruths.  Or in lies.  I've had my fill of that from the "churches."
Yup.  It really gave us pause at the time. lol  Now, who gives a crap.  So they were acting like the guys in the striped shirts with the yellow flags.  Every game has it's narcs.
There is a God

God's anger is shown from heaven against all the evil and
wrong things people do,by their own evil lives they hide the
truth,God shows his anger because some knowledge of him has
been made clear to them,yes God has shown himself to them.
romans 1:18-19

There are things about him that people can not see-his
eternal power and all the things that make him God,but since
the beginning of the world those things have been easy to
understand by what God has made,so people have no excuse for
the bad things they do romans 1:20-21



I am the way the truth and the life,
and the only way to the father is through me john 14:6,

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten son,
so that who so ever believe in him,shall not perish,
but shall have everlasting life john 3:16

,we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God romans 3:23,
we are saved by grace ephesians 2:5,you must be born again,
I am talking about a spiritual birth john 3:3

if you use your mouth to say Jesus is Lord,
and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead,
you will be saved romans 10:9


people who believe in God son are not judged guilty,
those who do not believe have already been judged guilty,
because they have not believed in God one and only son,
they are judged by this fact,the light has come into the world,
but they did not want light,
they wanted darkness,
because they were doing evil things john 3:18-20


in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
genesis 1


God-the one who made the world and everything in it.
the creator genesis 1,the heavens tell the glory of God,
psalm 19:1


let God be true and every man a liar romans 3:4


but coward those who refuse to believe,who kill,who sin sexually,
who does evil things,who worship idols,who tell lies,
who does evil magic,
all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur,
this is the second death rev 21:8

hell-home of the devil and his angels 2 peter 2:4,
future home of sinners
matt 10:28 23:33 rev 21:8,description of,
matt 13:42 rev 14;11,so you see hell is a place
where no one should want
to spend all eternity in,hell is real,just like
heaven is real.


the sinners prayer

say dear lord Jesus Christ come into my heart and save
me with your grace,
say lord Jesus Christ I repent of my sins,
say lord Jesus wash and cleanse me with your blood
that wash all of our sins away,say lord Jesus Christ
be my lord and savior come into my heart now amen

once you say this prayer you will instantly
be a born again christian.

you must then get into and join a good bible
based church.


Sodom and Gomorrah Rediscovered
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah

"Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah --from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities --and also the vegetation in the land." Genesis 19:24, 25 NIV)

At the south end of the beautiful, yet barren Dead Sea area, there is a mountain known as Mt. Sodom. It is adjacent to this area that the city of Sodom was located. The Bible indicates that there were more than just the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed that day. So far, at least 5 cities have been discovered that were turned to ash and have sulfur balls strewn throughout them. The location of each of these was found by scrutinizing satellite maps of the area, locating geometric shapes, particularly square or rectangular areas. Visits to each location, with the subsequent finding of a city turned to ash and many sulfur balls (brimstone in the King James version of the Bible), provided confirmation.

Salt and Mineral encrusted wood around the Dead Sea (8k) A sign points the way to the Mt. Sodom towards the south end of the Dead Sea (5k)

Jonathan Gray points to one of the cities. You can see the rectangular outline of the city walls. The white colored ash of the cities stands in stark contrast to the grayish brown of the surrounding desert.

Jonathan Gray points to the city of Sodom (4k) One can clearly see the walls outlining the city (5k)

The walls of the city in the picture below are quite evident. No speculation needed. The houses and buildings were actually quite substantial in size, suggesting a people of great stature once inhabited these cities. The walls and everything in the cities were turned completely to ash!

The walls of the city are large and imposing (6k) These buildings may be 30-40 feet tall (5k)

Here is a mound that looks as if it had been a ziggurat (a pagan pyramidal temple). Outside of some of the cities were large shapes that were very similar in shape to the Great Sphinx of Egypt.

The mound with scallops looks like it had been a ziggurat (5k) Here we superimpose a sketch of what it might have looked like (6k)

The presence of scorpions made for a heightened awareness as one entered some of the houses turned to ash.

Many of the buildings are still standing (5k) A scorpion (7k)

A worker picks up a chunk of wall and easily crushes it.

A worker picks up a piece of ash (5k) and crushes it in his hand (5k)

Hundreds of sulfur balls were found and collected. On two occasions, the investigation teams entered the cities after a rain fall. The glass surrounding the balls glistened in the light, the rain having exposed millions of the balls.

Measuring part of the wall of ash (7K) A collection of sulfur balls (8k)

The balls themselves were composed of pressed pure powder sulfur. Checking with volcanic experts around the world confirmed that no where else in the world, even around volcanic activity, were any balls of this composition found.
When the balls had fallen from heaven, they were estimated to be around 5,000 degrees Celsius (or around 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit). After consuming everything that was around them, the heat continue to melt the ash that had formed around them, vitrifying (turning to glass) the ash. Thus the balls were surrounded by a glassy casing of melted and re-solidified ash.

Here's one sitting on the edge of a wall (7k) The heat from the sulfur balls discolored the ash around them (5k)

Some what were thought to be gold coins were found. However, upon analysis, it was found that the coins had been turned into gold salts. The heat had literally burned up the gold in the coins turning them to gold ash.

The following photographs show the exploreres finding some of the sulfur balls inside a house turned to ash, and then burning a sample.

Upon entering a house of ash, we pick up a sulfur ball (4k) And light it with a match (4k)

One of the many sulfur ball sample collected by the verification teams. Independent laboratory testing confirmed that the balls had a high (95+%) sulfur content.

Here's another piece of ash with a large sulfur ball (7k) A printout of a chemical analysis of a sulfur ball (5k)

For many more photographs and information on the rediscovery of these cities, we recommend the video, Surprising Discoveries, Part II and the Ark of the Covenant CD-ROM.

More photos

The truthfulness of the Bible proved once again.

Photos copyrighted by MindVision Interactive Pty Ltd., Adelaide, South Australia and Jonathan Gray. Used by permission.

Alas...

Since the Bible is only a carefully preserved collection and mishmash of this and that, lectures, legends, myths,and so forth....all of this you've written here is of little value to me.  Except as cultural novelty.   Definitely there is truth in the Universe.  Some things are consistent with natural law and some are not.  But the Bible violates more common sense laws...and genuine laws of divinity...that it is hardly worth giving additional credence.  At least not for me and mine.  When I became a man, I put aside childish things.  The Bible, for all of its words and wisdom, is as sophomoric as it gets where the religious truths of God are concerned.  I don't know whose truths they are, but they are not the truths of the divine.  The Bible is a blind alley that has waylaid vast numbers of innocent, hopeful human beings.  Because of this, it is a cause for alarm and wariness and suspicion, rather than a road map to perfection.

For me the biggest problem with the Bible is that it is a testament to fear, guilt, and shame.  For me this is the deal breaker.  The Divine does not operate by these principles.  Lots of other folks do---all in the name of control.  But not God.  At least, that's what I think.

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