2016 Lesson 4: Studying the Scriptures

Lesson 4: Studying the Scriptures

Activity: Self-Assessment Survey

I actually kind of like this approach.  Helping the student take an assessment of their current interest level isn’t a bad idea.  Note, the manual clearly states that the results should not be reported.  Remember that Blue-eyes/Brown-eyes from last week, yeah, that could really impact student-teacher interactions if this trust is broken.

invite them to ponder during the lesson how they might improve their scripture study.

This is where we start to differ.  There is only one “right answer” at the end of the exercise.

The scriptures contain the words of Christ and are a reservoir of living water to which we have ready access and from which we can drink deeply and long. …

I would love to have studies that back this up.  I’ve seen a few studies about religion making people happier, but a “reservoir of living water”; what exactly does that do for the student.  This is a non-answer to the survey response.  Where does “The Scriptures are a reservoir of living water” fit on that survey scale?  It just seems deep, but really we could say it about well almost anything.

“Cosmos is a reservoir of living water, I can access on Netflix and drink deeply and long from”.

Poetic, but not really saying much other than the speaker likes the medium and message of the work.  But Bednar actually compares it to a life-threatening situation: thirst or dehydration.  I want you to go outside or to a mall and look around and see all kinds of people who live without this water.  Either, they are magic beings amazing powers you should be like, or this water isn’t actually essential

In fact, I bet any seminary student can ask the teacher “Have you ever had a period where you didn’t read the scriptures daily”.  Oh the teacher will say any amount of “it was a harder time” or “I felt worse”, but what you should see is that this isn’t really a thirst/dehydration situation.  They are making the need more extreme than it really is.

What defines “The Scriptures”

Does the Quoran/Koran count as scripture to Bednar?  How about the Tao te Ching?  What about Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse?  What about Brigham’s discourses where he says that killing mixed race couples is the Law of the Lord?

There’s a trick here, they are changing the “living water” all the time, aren’t they?  Sometimes they include everything the prophet says.  Sometimes The Ensign is included.  Sometimes the water is pretty rancid and they just declassify it as water.

What did they understand that we should also understand

This is a fascinating video taken from a talk by D. Todd Christopherson. the reason the video is fascinating is that it’s about William Tyndale, a rebel to the religious authority.  He wanted the bible to be in the hands of all the people, while the religious authority wanted to withhold the bible.  In this example I am more like William Tyndale than they are.  D. Todd Christopherson and Bednar are the religious authority who are locking away religious truth, while I’m out there blogging the church’s true history, the real reactions, what the scriptures and context really say.

Ask you students: Why do you think people made such great sacrifices to have access to the scriptures?

Because of withholding information that was seen as vital.  This happened with Galileo, this happened with people outside of the religious construct; over and over it is the restriction of information that is key.  Twisting this to be a pro-LDS correlated structure is disrespectful to William Tyndale.

Let’s look at an Example where the LDS authority was dead wrong: Hemuth Heubner

He resisted the Nazis and spoke up when his Stake President put “no Jews” on the church building.  He was excommunicated by the church and executed by the Nazis.

Ask your fellow students what similarity you see between Heubner and Tyndale.  Contrast them with D. Todd Christopherson and David Bednar.

Why do you think some people in our day are not reading the scriptures as they should?

Offer to read the Letter to the CES Director to the class.  When your teacher refuses to allow it, explain to your fellow students that your teacher is like the people in Tyndale’s story, controlling access to information.  Just like they didn’t want people reading the bible, church leaders today don’t want members reading questions and history that challenges the narrative.

“Consider the magnitude of our blessing to have the Holy Bible and some 900 additional pages of scripture,

Ask your teacher why the Journal of Discourses is not included by D. Todd Christopherson as scripture.

Ask what other talks Joseph gave that are not included as scripture.  Challenge your teacher to define scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that seem unimportant, like 4 versions of the same mission call, or sections that are all about church law and rules that are not followed any more.  Point out that Joseph implied the Song of Solomon in the bible was not inspired.

Ask how you can know true scripture from false scripture.  Let your teacher know that you have prayed and don’t feel that Joseph gave us 900 pages of additional scripture, and that you are confused why a prophet would lie about new scripture.

If you’re not thrown out yet, I am surprised.  If you are thrown out, you understand more about William Tyndale and his concerns than anyone who remained in the class.  You have a deeper appreciation of information and access to that information; and that’s all scriptures are.  Some of the information is valid (The Golden Rule, for example, I think is really quite good) and some of it isn’t.  But restricting access to information, whether deemed as scripture by a religion or not, is a problem.  It’s a problem that afflicts societies all around the world.

And that is what this lesson should have been all about.  Access to information is “living water”, or more like access to caffeine, it gives those with access advantage over those without it.  It wakes us up and makes us feel alive in ways we cannot otherwise reach.

Our need for the scriptures is greater today than in any previous time.

Our need for unfettered information is greater today than any previous time.  Don’t restrict yourself to reading scriptures when you can read anything.

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Lesson 3: The Role of the Learner

Lesson 3: The Role of the Learner

This… this is an odd lesson.  It is the moral equivalent of a Science teacher saying to science students that they will only feel gravity if they ponder about gravity.  Like they would need to meditate on the Scientific Method for 5 minutes before class starts or else science wouldn’t work any more.  Or that they need to give oblations to the Gods of History to comprehend the Louisiana Purchase

A young woman is inspired and edified as she attends seminary. She feels the influence of the Holy Ghost there and is grateful for the things she learns. Another young woman is in the same seminary class. However, she is often bored and feels that she doesn’t get much out of the class.

Sooo… it’s the person’s fault if they are bored?

Question: What are some possible reasons why these two young women have such different experiences while attending the same seminary class?

Maybe one of them is a new convert and hasn’t heard the correlated manuals for 16 years?  Or maybe one of them isn’t an early riser?

No no no… it’s all about the Holy Spook and who He wants to be around


See you’ve offended the British Aristocrat in the sky so of course nothing interesting will happen in the class today.

Acceptable answers to the question include:

  • the first young woman may participate more actively in the lesson
  • the first young woman may have had more previous spiritual learning experiences on which her present learning can build
  • the second young woman may be distracted by other concerns

Ah, yes the interested woman is more spiritual or more active.  That’s gotta be it.

Explain that three individuals have essential roles in gospel learning in a setting like seminary: the Holy Ghost, the teacher, and the student

Let’s view this like someone who has never heard of Mormonism.  If I invited you to a room where an incantation to summon a spirit that always watches whatever we do and invite that spirit to put information into your head that you would otherwise miss; how would that make you feel?  What if I told you this spirit was actually an alien entity send out by a god who lives on Kolob (either the name of a planet or a system, it’s unclear). Beyond that, this same Alien divine presence must be in all the classrooms holding seminary at once.

This is just plain odd, and yet we do it without thinking.  Not only do we invite the spirit in the opening prayer, but according to this lesson, for any learning to take place the Holy Ghost is essential as a class participant.

John 14:26

I mean this is essential to Christianity and very much in line with John’s claims here.  The Holy Ghost is there to teach and remind people of what Jesus said.  It’s still a truly bizarre concept.

How can we know when the Holy Ghost is teaching us truth?

But this, this is where we break it down.  Let’s say that an inter-dimensional being really is telling us things. These truths should be measurable.  We should be able to set a control group of non-touched individuals and teach them the lesson; and then a test group where we verify the Holy Ghost is present (As per Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3).  We then see if the Holy Ghost group has better understanding, comprehension and retention than the control group.  We should probably have the control group engage in a number of offensive acts prior to the course such as having them all masturbate while listening to Hard Rock and viewing porn, all of which prophets tell us drive away the Holy Spook.

Once we’ve established a lift in success metrics we can source a study instead of scripture that the Holy Ghost is real and the extraordinary claim that inter-dimensional invisible persons are present in our classrooms helping us learn can be entertained.  Of course we should really get it peer-reviewed before claiming knowledge on the topic.  Not to brag about other churches but some have actually done this and come to the conclusion that external sources were responsible even for the miracles mentioned in the New Testament.

Yeah, that’s how one knows things instead of claiming knowledge.

Circular Knowledge

“A teacher can explain, demonstrate, persuade, and testify, and do so with great spiritual power and effectiveness. Ultimately, however, the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter. Learning by faith opens the pathway into the heart” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 61)

Mr. Bednar says we can know if a person has the Holy Spirit because they will learn by faith.  But a person can only learn if they have the Holy Spirit.  Let’s apply this logic to any other topic.  How about Star Trek Physics?

“Null space is an anomaly that until now had only been Theoretical”

Now if you have the spirit, you’ll understand what “Null Space” is.  If you don’t understand “Null space” as a concept, clearly you didn’t have the spirit.

This section by Bednar is what is known as the “no True Scotsman Fallacy” but instead of applying it to distant Scottsmen we are, with divine guilt attached, attaching it to the students in front of the teachers.  In addition; with a very Blue-eyes/Brown-eyes set up encouraging the teacher to treat students who claim to “get it” differently from those struggling.  This isn’t just mildly bad, this is actively harmful to childrens’ ability to learn and feel loved in an environment.

We express our faith through action.

And here we find that this Fallacy combined with favoritism to those who claim to get it is weaponized into peer pressure.  If you don’t do what the teacher says, you’re clearly one of the “brown eyes” aren’t you? (Side note, I actually had a seminary teacher take a picture of Christ through the class and point out he had Blue Eyes to everyone in the class, no kidding).  If you don’t comply, the teacher has every reason in the world to dismiss you.

Ask tough questions… well that got Satan thrown out in the last lesson, didn’t it.

This is Manipulation, and anyone having a teaching degree should be ashamed of agreeing for anyone to go along with this, but then Seminary teachers don’t have to have teaching degrees, do they.  Think about that.

Note: This may be an appropriate time to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:122 and discuss the importance of order and respect in the class.

Ain’t it just?  They directly tie these principles to control

Matthew 4

They then give the example of Peter leaving the net to follow Christ without thought.  Blind obedience is immediately presented as the correct course of action.

This is cult-level indoctrination and every parent should be wary of this, even believing members.  A seminary teacher could easily use lessons like this to sexually manipulate class members because yes that has happened.  Mind control techniques which are beneficial to the organization are the same techniques used to manipulate kids to do other things.

Truth and thought should always be promoted over blind faith.  Period.

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Lesson 2, 2016 – The Plan of Salvation

Lesson 2 The Plan of Salvation

I know what you’re thinking.  “The Plan of Salvation comes from The Book of Abraham”.  It’s a uniquely mormon doctrine.  Why is that Lesson 2?

“A brief overview of the ‘plan of happiness’ … , if given at the very beginning and revisited occasionally, will be of immense value to your students” – Boyd K. Packer

Well you should be thinking that.  If the Plan of Salvation was entirely obvious in the New Testament, then wouldn’t all Christianity have it?  The answer is, this is a retcon.  We are trying to rework continuity to make current constructs fit in previous episodes.  Like when they ask Worf what happened to Klingon’s foreheads in Deep Space 9 when they travel back in time we are trying to make Christianity fit into the Mormon box. It would be good to be upfront about this; and perhaps discuss the lost plain and precious truths or how the bible is not translated correctly AFTER reviewing what most of the world thinks of as the New Testament; but hey, let’s do it all up front because a dead apostle said it was a good idea.  No chance he was just speaking as a man or a product of his time, right?

Activity: Sing “I believe in Christ”.  Nothing gets early morning students moving and ready to learn like singing a slow-paced hymn.  Even if this is one of the most Christ-centered hymns and props for that, it seems an odd choice for early morning.  It motivates some people so partial credit for that.

How would you respond if someone asked you why Dead-Door-Baby is important to you?

Addressed in my last lesson, I’m not sure why Dead-Door-Baby should be important to the modern student; but given this is a repeat of the question in the last lesson; this focus on relevance to them seems to be more about internal conversion (such as creating the false-consensus bias in the students) than actually asking the question.

Example to illustrate this is about creating bias instead of actual learning: Imagine a student saying “Nothing, I see no measurable impact to my day-to-day life; nor do I know how to build a control of days when Dead-Door-Baby doesn’t impact my life; how did you control for non-Jesus impactful days?”  followed up by “If you have no control days, then you don’t know; you’re just guessing”.

It wouldn’t be received well, would it?

Jesus Christ is central to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation

I would include the graphic, but they copyrighted the images heavily so I don’t dare touch the three columns with headers “Premortal, mortal and Postmortal life”.

Next, note that they have a student read from the Preach My Gospel guide.  We’re on day 2 of New Testament, and the New Testament hasn’t really even made an appearance yet.  We’re quoting apostles and reading quotes written by people based on quotes of apostles.

What limitations did we experience in our premortal life?

I want to point out how bad this section is.  Jesus is stated as the creator of Earth.  He helped to form everything on the earth.  And he did it all without a body.

Think about that.  We can create worlds without number without needing a body, just like Jesus.  The limitations in the Premortal life are completely incongruous with the rest of belief.

Couldn’t God create perfect bodies for His children? If not; He is not all-powerful.  If He wouldn’t, then He’s not a kind god; because He wanted his children to suffer before being perfect… but He could have prevented suffering by simply creating them perfect (and creating them with an understanding of suffering; He’s all powerful, remember?).

Lucifer, one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, rebelled against Heavenly Father’s plan. He became known as Satan, a Hebrew term meaning “adversary.”

Lucifer is a fascinating guy.  I spend a lot of time on him in my ABC’s of Science and Mormonism (D is for Devil) as his role and definition has shifted throughout the years.  But let’s just focus on the claims here (Notice, also not in the New Testament).  Lucifer points out that God could just make us perfect, and skip suffering.  Maybe he even pointed out that the plan included Jesus making worlds without a body.  And for that; he is condemned.  And anyone who thought his argument sounded logical, with him.  Clearly intelligence isn’t the Glory of God, because thinking through the plan gets one thrown out, just like if a student points out this flaw, they are likely to be thrown out of Seminary class.

Dead-Door-Baby Could not consent

Last time I compared Jesus dying for us and the need for a savior to a mob nailing a baby to a door.  People may think my analogy incomplete because Jesus was a willing sacrifice, whereas a toddler being nailed was innocent, but couldn’t consent.

I really don’t think the LDS church understands consent, nor does anyone who gives that complaint.  Jesus is told that everyone on earth is going to suffer unendingly if He doesn’t comply.  Then he watches the next in line (the trusted Lieutenant, if you will) literally be damned to never have a body and be in outer darkness for eternity for daring to challenge the idea that we need to suffer.

If you hold a gun to someone’s head, and they comply; that is not consent.  Elohim didn’t just hold a gun to Jesus’ head, he shot the next in line and made that gun be an “eternal pain” gun. Jesus made all His decisions under “duress”, and God admits that much in scripture (The link above states that proving duress is difficult and it doesn’t work as a defense unless the plaintiff admits to guilt… which Elohim does).

I think my Dead-Door-Baby is flawed, but if we make the baby a toddler who is told He must do it, then we suddenly get back to being accurate.  I mean, Jesus; here is in infantile state, right?  He’s agreeing to being tortured and killed having never had a body; with no concept of pain.  Jesus is basically a spiritual toddler.

It’s all pretty dark when you take time to think about it.  God is a father who would opt to kill and torture an innocent child under threat of damning all the other children.  That’s hardly father-of-the-year material.

Hebrews 1:1–2

Finally, we reach the New Testament, and with all that prep work it’s just there to confirm that God speaks to prophets (notice past tense, that’s awkward) and that Jesus created worlds.

How does knowing that Jesus Christ created this earth, and millions of others like it, affect your feelings about Him?

I’d be upset that God had Dead-Door-Baby killed by a mob.  I mean, Dead-Door-Baby created everything so I could do things like eat pizza and listen to iPods (which Dead-Door-Baby did not make either of those things, just the raw ingredients, but ya know; some credit) and God didn’t do anything to alter the plan.

Also I’m confused why Dead-Door-Baby is so special.  Like, couldn’t we have distributed the pain out among multiple innocence?  Why only one half-deity who had to suffer?

Of course, these questions would not be tolerated in class. The teacher is only being like God by tossing out people who question the plan.

God ignores consent in Jesus’ Birth

Explain that before Jesus was born on the earth, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream when he learned that Mary was expecting a child

Remember, consent is a key element in free will.  Mary is told she’ll carry God’s baby having never had a child or even sex.  She has no idea what she’s getting into, and a whole Torah filled with people being consumed by earthquakes or murdered when they disobey god to consider.  She has a magical being appear to her and tell her she is to carry God’s baby.  She cannot consent in such a situation.

Imagine a CEO sends a VP to a janitor girl telling her she’s been selected to carry the CEO’s child.  Can the girl consent?  Our law says “no”.  Imagine it’s the CEO and the governor and the head of police and the girl’s priest.  It’s more like that.

Ask students to think of someone who has passed away. After a few moments, ask:

According to your understanding of the plan of salvation, where are those who have passed away?

Now I get that according to Mormon belief, everyone gets their body back.  I’m not sure how Jesus being resurrected impacted this, only they say it did.  If Jesus had died from old age, would we still have gotten our bodies?  If so, then I’d argue that this should be separated from the atonement entirely.  If not, why not?  Why was it necessary to nail Dead-Door-Baby to a door to get our bodies?  Shouldn’t we celebrate the Mob that had the guts and moxie to nail the baby to the door?  It’s not Jesus we should thank for the resurrection, but the mob (and ultimately Lucifer for suggesting the idea.  That’s awkward).


I can’t help but point out that this isn’t New Testament study so much as Mormon Study using the New Testament.  We’re not covering the gospel priority, or even the link between Old and New Testament, or why Mark really is focused on Demonic Posession.  We’re cherry-picking verses to teach a Mormon concept of the Plan of Salvation.

What must we do to receive eternal life?

This lack of focus on what the book actually says perhaps matters most when we read this question and the following section.  What one has to do to gain eternal life has been debated since… well at least since the early Christian Schisms.  It is THE answer to what one religion offers vs. another, isn’t it… the method to achieve salvation? And we don’t find any discussion of why other faiths read the same bible and come up with very very different methods.  We don’t find any understanding directly from the New Testament.  The answer is given:

Explain that to believe in the Only Begotten Son means to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and live according to His gospel, which includes receiving temple ordinances.

You catch that, right there? “Live according to his gospel” is works; that’s a big protestant issue.  And they tack on Temple Ordinances without a single New Testament reference.

They don’t read the text and then deduce what the text tells us… no they give the answer “The Mormon Church’s ideals” before even really delving into the text.  This isn’t learning truth, this is indoctrination.  And it doesn’t serve missionaries in the field very well who come away from classes like this believing that they understand the New Testament, only to be schooled by those who have actually read the book and thought about it instead of being spoon fed on what the book contains.

Another thing that they simply don’t cover is “What if Jesus hadn’t done it?”.  Damnation for everyone, according to the Book of Mormon.  That means that a large portion of our success was completely out of our control.

What a weird plan.

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Lesson 1 2016 – Introduction to the New Testament

Introduction to the new Testament

The New Testament is primarily a record of the mortal life, teachings, and Atonement of Jesus Christ, the establishment of His Church, and the ministries of His early disciples as He continued to guide them after His Ascension into heaven

Let’s compare this intro to Wikipedia’s

The New Testament (Koine Greek: Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Hē Kainḕ Diathḗkē) is the second major part of the Christian biblical canon,… The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture. The New Testament (in whole or in part) has frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology and morality.

Not terribly different; but the differences there are key.  We have some Greek, we have a time frame (First Century) and that it is key for just Christianity.

Activity: What are some difficult burdens that youth experience in our day?

Seriously?  Eye-rolling must commence.  I can’t catch pokemon during Seminary.  Tina likes Jimmy and Jimmy won’t go out with her because she’s only 15, and so she totally made out with Tom between periods which means Jimmy called me up and talked, like, forever so I didn’t get my reading done and now I’m behind in Seminary and its DAY 1!

Bring a backpack, put heavy stuff in until a student groans.  Then tell them the church totally removes burdens via the New Testament.  Ignore the hundreds of rules, including the invention of Masturbation of a Sin in 1956, that make life harder on the average teenager.

Jesus Christ’s mortal and post-resurrection ministries, including His teachings, miracles, atoning sacrifice, and visits to early church disciples. Throughout His teachings and interactions with others is a repeated truth that can help us with the burdens we carry.

Let’s talk about the Atonement of Christ, right now; up front.  How does it make any sense?  How is it that human/deity sacrifice can “save” someone who is guilty?  How does it actually make a burden light?


Imagine we had a room filled with innocent babies.  Now, a mob comes in and nails a baby to the door.  And then people tell you how wonderful it is that baby died, and you’re school homework/hormonal growth issues are going to be better because that baby was nailed to the door.  It makes no sense.  None.

It’s grim to think of humans killing the innocent half-deity Jesus; but it is down right suicidal inducing to teenagers to introduce them to the concept that they are making their lives harder by refusing to believe in dead-door-baby.  I had friends who beleived that because they masturbated, french kissed or cheated on a test, they were unworthy of Dead-door-baby’s help; and it pushed them to call me crying, late into the night; and to beg for help as to why they shouldn’t commit suicide.

No.  Stop right here.  Jesus doesn’t help you with your backpack weight.  He didn’t die for your first world problems of not getting to date both Janet and Clarissa.  He doesn’t make it so you family will buy cable and you won’t get the static during storms of Direct TV.

Teaching students to take responsibility for their own lives, to seek help from real, living people when life gets too tough, and to critically think through problems will do far more for them than dead-door-baby.

The Yoke

Oh that yoke.  It’s easy and burden is light if you’re “Yoked” with Christ.  This is literally telling kids to climb into servitude; but as long as Dead-Door-Baby died for them, it’s okay if they’re pulling a plow all day long.

I’d like to propose a test.  We actually put kids into yokes.  Yes, have them plow a field.  Mormon ones get to call on Jesus to help them plow, just them and an empty yoke waiting for Jesus.  And we get atheists in the other ones, two by two.  The trial must include enough students to be statistically significant.  And ya know what, I bet that Jesus doesn’t actually give them equal yokes at all.

“But Jesus doesn’t work like that, its a metaphor”

You’re promising kids that Dead-Door-Baby is going to help.  If you can’t back that claim up, you shouldn’t make it.  If He isn’t willing to help prove to them He actually helps in measurable ways, maybe you shouldn’t be promising students the intangible.  Just saying.

Point out that the Savior’s promise of “rest” in Matthew 11:28–29 does not necessarily mean that He will always remove our problems or challenges.

No kidding.  You think?  Maybe we have very few recorded incidence of anyone having any challenged actually removed by deity.  When offered $1 million by James Randi, not one deity actually helped the people who trusted in them.  Science, it seems, makes gods run and hide.  That’s funny, isn’t it?

Make sure to tell your students not to try and have god take their yokes in science class.  It never works.

Emotional manipulation and peer pressure

Ask students to ponder how the Savior has given them rest when they have come unto Him. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.

I have family who love to chant at parades.  They will chant until they can get the other side of the road to start chanting too.  Then, with glee they will chant “Peer Pressure Works!” to the stunned other side of the road who only wanted to get in on the fun.

And that’s what’s going on here.  The teacher is being encouraged to have students come up with experiences where Dead-Door-Baby helped, and then it convinces the others students that Dead-Door-Baby might help them too.  But the teacher isn’t supposed to point out bias, or flaws in logic that lead students to feel helped.  Anything goes.  I bet this is where Paul H. Dunn got his start.

Now it’s your turn

Invite students to set specific goals regarding ways they can come unto Jesus Christ throughout this year of studying the New Testament.

That’s right, before we tell you anything about Jesus, make goals to come to him.  Nothing Cultish about that.

Disciples of Jesus Christ have a responsibility to help others come unto Him

That’s right, missionary work is encouraged from day 1.  The BITE model of Cult behavior states that groups that are cultish in nature have a preoccupation on conversion or missionary work.  I issue caution here.

But as you’ve now read through Mithryn’s Home Seminary guide for Lesson 1 I’ll invite you to missionary it as well.  Please share this lesson on social media; with friends and especially with teenagers (Because that is who the LDS system is targeting, so it’s fair to target back, right?) this lesson.

Let them think about Dead-Door-Baby and whether it would help them to have lighter burdens if more innocents were murdered.  Challenged them (With a direct “Will you” question) to come back for future lessons.

Okay, milk and cookies time.  See you tomorrow.


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Seminary for 2016 – New Testament

Another school year approaches, and another year for Seminary Students to learn, grow, and be taught logic and critical thinking via the church.  As such I continue my seminary evaluation:

In addition to accomplishing these aims, you are to help students be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn to discern truth from error.

Get kids to the temple, but also help them be faithful while discerning between truth and error.  I’m going to focus on “truth”; I think that teaching people to be faithful to a creed or religious concept is going to frequently be in opposition to “truth” so I’ll focus heavier there.

Students may have questions about the Church’s doctrine, history, or position on social issues. You can prepare students to address such questions by helping them to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith”

And there it is… by learning but also by faith.  Then it gives places to send kids to get faithful answers.  I’d rather that we focus on how to know truth; actual truth, and let kids believe in what they have come to conclusions on by testing.  “How we know what we Know” is pretty key.  If any student thinks that one can “Know things by faith” I encourage them to go into any other subject using only faith to know things and see how far that gets them.  “Learning with faith” is what they recommend, but this isn’t terribly different from “Confirmation bias” as a concept.  You should learn through skepticism; that is the difference between pre 1800’s knowledge, and things we know now, is we try to prove ourselves wrong until there is no other answer left.  It’s key to actual knowledge vs. treating people with leeches.

In this course, the New Testament is your primary text as you prepare and teach.

Bold of them to say so; but I bet that if it comes down to what Joseph Smith said, and what the New Testament actually says, they’re going to go with Joseph; and the teacher will learn that from this manual.  If the New Testament was truly the primary text, we would definitely let it stand for itself to resolve disputes such as when Christ says that in heaven no one is married.

Seek to understand the context and content of the scripture block, including the story line, people, places, and events. As you become familiar with the context and content of the scripture block, seek to identify doctrines and principles it contains, and decide which truths are most important for your students to understand and apply

We’ll do this.

“President Packer has often taught, in my hearing, that we first adopt, then we adapt. If we are thoroughly grounded in the prescribed lesson that we are to give, then we can follow the Spirit to adapt it”

Ah, well if President Boyd Packer says it, then it must be so!  This serves two purposes, to make teachers who don’t feel comfortable teaching more dependent on the manual and to make those who teach more likely to rely on the umpteen years of correlated Sunday School the teacher went through with all of its biases.  So if I point out flaws in Sunday School manuals on the topics, I think it will be relevant to the lessons given.

During your lesson preparation, you might choose to use the Notes and Journal tools on LDS.org or in the Gospel Library for mobile devices. You can use these tools to mark scriptures, conference addresses, Church magazine articles, and lessons

I think it is fair to point out they don’t cite a single source that is non-LDS.  No history websites.  No historical documentaries.  No seminaries or sermons from all of Christianity.  Do you understand?  They wanted truth on topics investigated by individuals over thousands of years and then limit it to “approved materials”… that maximizes bias.

Scripture Mastery

The 25 scripture mastery passages found in the New Testament are highlighted in context in the lessons in which they appear

The 25 scripture mastery passages found in the New Testament are highlighted in context in the lessons in which they appear

We’ll reference NoCoolNameTom’s blog on these topics as they arise.

Home-Study Seminary Program

As a homeschooling family, I find this section really fascinating… you can’t set up a homeschool that is unofficial.  There is no such thing as homeschooling seminary in the church:

Under the direction of local priesthood leaders and the S&I representative, home-study seminary classes can be organized in places where students cannot attend a daily class because of distance or other factors (such as a disability)

So here we go… another year of top-notched bias-maximizing lessons all about Jesus.  Can’t wait.

Posted in Seminary Manuals | 2 Comments

If I’m wrong…

If Im Wrong



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Scott Gordon lies, deceives and misdirects his audience while accusing others of lying, deceiving and misdirecting about the church

We’re not the church, but here’s why we’re actually the church. Appeal to authority, appeal to authority…

3:00 – Evils of Google getting answers

3:15 – Evils of exmormons and how FAIR helps

3:16 – tears already there. Wow. Hard questions make him tear up.

4:21 – Families should be first to talk about less-known issues. Why are issues less known? Oh because the church has been hiding them for years. But families, man; they should know this stuff.

4:37 – Inoculation against issues encouraged, maligning internet and friends

polygamy, seerstones, first vision, process of translation, Gender, BoA, race … basically the essays

5:16 – Inoculation repeated as a good concept

5:47 – Maligning those who leave. Ignoring Dehlin’s analysis on why people leave to put “Social” on the top of the list, Mental health next, sinning, and history at the bottom. An exact flip of what the studies show.

6:18 – He admits that everyone wavers despite maligning John Dehlin as a non-believer.

6:45 – “Finding weaknesses in church leaders” perfect excuse to leave. This is the most insulting thing so far. I’d challenge Scott to please publish a list of valid reasons to leave. If he can think of none, then this is the MOST VALID REASON he could think of or mention. Failings in leaders, and it goes beyond “Weakness” in an organization is a perfectly good reason to leave. If the CEO of a company is an abusive child-molesting fraud who abuses funds entrusted to him, leaving is the most logical step. He needs to acknowledge this.

6:45 – “Minor mistakes” he cannot admit there are major mistakes and blatant systemic abuse. So it is a downplay of everything negative.

7:20 – “The church is to make bad men good, and good men better”. Evaluating this claim, do we see bad men become good? Do we see good men become corrupt? Then we can know the church is failing in its mission as stated by Scott. He does not address this.

9:27 – He admits that people can read scriptures and pray and still leave the church! This contradicts past prophets, but hey, it’s reality and I’m glad they admit this (I was reading and praying quite a bit when I left)

10:12 – Strawman about reading and praying having no questions; but this idea that one can be without doubt is in student manuals

and cited by prophets “When Shall These Things Be?” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 60).

Blame the members syndrome!

10:30 – Strawman about reading scholarly articles. Either/or fallacy.

10:44 – Inoculation sold as a positive concept

11:11 – shout out to us being the problem. Not that history is a problem. Not that Joseph’s behavior was a problem. No, modern day Laman and Lemuels.

11:45 – Reverse Alma 32 – nurturing doubt will destroy testimony. I thought it was nurturing a seed that would make a strong enough plant that it couldn’t be uprooted, but it turns out doubt can grow like a tree too, until it is so strong you don’t ever believe.

Note, he just said you can read scriptures and pray and still leave, which means that even if you don’t nurture the doubt, but nurture faith you can still end up doubting. Without realizing it he is implying that doubt is stronger than belief. Maybe because doubt is the actual path to truth?

11:50 – CES Letter is a “List of old criticism, rumors and misrepresentations, repackaged into a single document. Responses have been around for many, many years”. But what he doesn’t say is that those responses are unofficial, rejected, changed over time, and frankly fall short on the most basic issues. Gish Gallop invoked because “big lists” are scary. This from a man who publishes websites of big lists. A man who lists big lists of books. Scary I tell you. SCARRRRRY

12:44 – Researching each item in CES letter is daunting (luckily Jeremy provides links to sources so, ya know, it’s less daunting than reading the FAIR mormon cite with its circular references. But hey. HOURS of your time with SCARY lists!

12:55 – see that 16% FACT. Let’s focus on that Scott. 16% of the CES letter, FAIR admits is fact. How about that 10% falsehoods. Only 10% of the CES letter is false. And yet people who have been in the church for 30+ years read it and are shocked by what they learn. Because 90% of it is legit and troubling, that’s why.

13:25 – Debunking-CESLetter.com gets a fucking mention? That worthless site that is blatantly dishonest and misleading?

13:40 – Wow, does he mis-characterize the letter. It asks questions the church was unwilling to answer. That’s all. It doesn’t twist. It doesn’t lie. It asks.

13:55 – Problem is he believes the Book of Mormon must be a perfect book. Gee, I wonder where Jeremy got that idea


14:00 – “Translated in the way the author thinks it should have been” and where did the author get those ideas? Oh yeah, the church taught them. Another way of saying this is that the author expected the church to be honest, and Scott knows that wouldn’t happen and is mocking anyone who thinks similarly.

14:11 – “Find one little thing, anything he considers to be a flaw” yeah that’s how science works. If your hypothesis is that God gave a divine book, and you find a flaw; you should reject that hypothesis. It should be divine. But Jeremy, as Scott pointed out doesn’t find ONE flaw. He finds pages and pages of flaws.

So he produces scary lists, and strains at gnats now.

14:18 – Lists of evidences. er… go ahead. I’d love to see those evidences; but they have to be peer-reviewed, and accepted outside of mormon circles.

14:23 – “The problem with this approach is that the author has no knowledge of how translation actually takes place”. Holy shit. You’re telling me that a guy who served a mission, who is hearing impaired is unaware of translation discrepancies?

No Scott, your church showed images of a translation process that it now admits never happened for decades. Over 100 years by my counting. And now you blame the victim?

Why is steel not steel? Why is a horse not a horse? These are “Translation discrepancies” and Jeremy is hardly a typical dumb American.

Shitty. Just shitty.

As a person who is fluent in Swedish and English; let me unequivocally state the problems in the Book of Mormon are NOT related to this kind of translation issue. I challenge fully Scott to find a single word in the book of Mormon he can show the root word in Reformed Egyptian, explain that language and its context, and then explain the translation error in 1600’s English. Of course first he’d have to find a single sample of reformed egyptian…

15:09 – Strawman… this is not the stated reason Jeremy gives for why he believes the Book of Mormon false.

15:15 – “He doesn’t acknowledge the stacks of research” because he wanted an official answer. He sought out true messengers and not the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Yeah, shit on him some more there, Scott for doing what the temple instructs.

15:35 – Jeremy still has not received official answers. Jeremy’s claim is factually true. Scott, here is putting FAIR on par with prophets and apostles stating that their answers should be considered as legitimate as the church’s official answer. Pay attention because he started by clearly stating that his organization in NO WAY represents the church.

15:50 – Terrible mischaracterization of an excommunication. “I’m not sure why he wanted to stay, honestly” If you’re not sure, shut up. Don’t go there.

16:00 – Mormon Stories starts here

16:10 – “John Dehlin was Finally excommunicated this past year”. Finally, whew. So glad they got that over with. I mean, jeez, the guy runs a website on mormon stuff. Focuses on social issues.

16:22 – I know him personally, and had many many conversations with him. His sister is a member of FAIRMormon. He has tried to stay socially.

Wow so Jeremy is worth 20 minutes of straw men and scary lists but all of Mormon Stories is dismissed based on John’s personal beliefs. Shit. What about the Mark Hoffman episode where they invited people who covered the story on? No mention that many FAIRMormon individuals were on Mormon Stories? Not worth saying “We felt it worth being with John to talk about issues”. No?

They must really be afraid of John Dehlin.

17:06 – Strawman of comparing Denver Snuffer to High Priest weirdo. Funny, I think of FAIRMormon as far closer to that mindset. In fact, as stated by Scott, they are high priests, and they think Jeremy should have accepted their answers as gospel despite being unofficial so yeah, they are those guys in High Priest Quorum. Pot, this is Kettle, you’re kinda black. Also use of “Speculation” to make people scared.

17:33 – “He was asked to leave” I guess they really believe that excommunication ends peoples ability to speak or influence. Shitty belief that will come back to bite him.

17:38 – Hopewell indians. He says this guy uses known fakes and forgeries to prove his point. But Scott will later use known fakes and forgeries to prove his own point. Hey Pot, still black; sincerely, Kettle

18:35 – The book of Mormon Location is not a revealed subject. Mr. Scott, please address all the revelations Joseph Smith and others have given on the topic then. Go on. Something about Latitude and longitude in Guatemala? or hey, that “Zelph” thing? No?

18:55 – FAIRMormon are in a state of apostasy… well you did just reject hundreds of years of statements of prophets about the location of the Book of Mormon…

19:00 – Abuse of “So-called”!

19:17 – “Even the apostles” are apostate. Hang on now… the apostles were smart enough to take no position. But nudge-nudge wink wink, they agree with you don’t they Scott? Even though they publicly say no position;


19:26 – “I am nervous bringing him up because he’s still a member” and again, excommunication is seen as de-legitimizing arguments


19:30 – “I’m right and everyone who doesn’t believe as I do bad attitude”. Kettle is calling again Pot, about how black you are!

“Dangerous to himself and others”. Shit, you just can’t help yourself can you. Beliefs are dangerous. False beliefs. Faked data. You should really shut down FAIR if you believe this.

19:40 – “I don’t know what is on the horizon”. Gee, if only you belonged to an organization of prophets…

19:50 – traps Purposeful misrepresentation on the internet. You mean like showing Joseph using the plates while translating, but knowing it was done with a rock in a hat? Like that?

20:22 – “We joke about everything not being true on the internet” Yes at FAIRMormon, that publishes a website, I’m sure you do. Notice there are no laughs at this commercial. The audience is not finding this funny at all. Discrediting the repository of all human public knowledge is pretty shitty as a tactic, and is going to fail in the long run.

21:20 – in an attempt to discredit old arguments, uses fake/hoax Jericho sword

. Link is FAIR article discussing debunking

21:48 – By using a debunked set of evidence and admitting the claim is in the CES Letter; he has just given more credibility to Jeremy for asking the question than he has in answering it.

21:55 – Spaniards brought Horses – Tar Pits (from 10,000 years prior to BoM). Evidence of them dying out is literally a few steps away from Scott where he took that picture. I know, I’ve been there. The wolf skulls are just down the isle, Scott. You remember them? Shit, dude, this is so dishonest. It’s like taking a photograph of the twin towers from 2000 to prove 9/11 didn’t happen. Everyone who has done the slightest research on the subject knows this evidence is bad. You should feel bad.

22:28 – when or if they went extinct. Literally no one outside of Mormonism believes they did not go extinct. “Pretty close to the times”. Funny how you didn’t mention how distant it is. Say THOUSANDS of years?

22:38 – Letters and histories. “Significant contradictory sources are often omitted.” You mean like in the Sunday School manuals… you mean like in conference talks. The accusation that history is biased swings both ways. Please criticize the LDS Apostles for their abuse on this as well, or you are just a shill. Pot… hey this is kettle again. BLACK

22:51 – Ellipses. Seriously one of the biggest issues I have with the church is the abuse of ellipses by FAIR or the actual manuals of the church. Pot, hey pot! Kettle here. Black!

23:00 – “Most church history issues are cleared up by going back and reading the source” then why the fuck don’t the church manuals ever make a citation before 1977? Huh? Because context fucking matters? Why do the exmormon sites have longer and more sources and bibliographies than FAIRMormon papers which often cite other FAIRMormon papers rather than original sources?!

note: Brian Hales published a lengthy claim about Sylvia Lyon’s being a spiritual daughter based on a previously unpublished letter later to be found a fraud. He admitted this in a private setting in a group of historians. However he has not yet retracted his video on the subject. Ponder this for a minute; context can be wrong; but with FAIR Mormon members we see them literally bringing up hoaxes, false claims and forgeries as evidence long after they are disproved and then blaming others for that behavior.

23:30 – First Book of Napolean. This is a bastardization of understanding statistics. That both sets of phrases would exist in the books at that rate and that length is still evidence one is a derivative of another REGARDLESS OF THE ELLIPSES. All Scott proves here is he has no knowledge of N-grams or how statistics, as a field, works.

Jeremy could have been clearer in the CES Letter on what was going on; but I believe Scott does understand statistics and having NO OTHER ARGUMENT has misled people to push the misconception that Jeremy was abusing ellipses rather than admit that it is disconcerting that the two books would be that similar in phrasing.

25:14 – Richard Dawkins. Here is the thing; Richard Dawkins has truly read the bible. His words ARE Derivative from a modern Christian world. This is not counter proving Jeremy’s case at all. However, this may mean Scott is statistically stupid (That is, he refuses to learn statistics) because he didn’t pull out words or phrases that were rare, but uber-common as a comparison.

Think of it this way, if I say the words “Autobots, roll out

” the odds I’ve seen something Transformers related is incredibly high, because the phrase is unique. If I also say “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” it supports that belief, and that I saw a Michael Bay movie version. The more phrases I quote, the more sure you are, EVEN IF I DON’T QUOTE THEM IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH.

The concept is simple, but appears too difficult for Scott to comprehend.

25:40 – Using strange words. Like “Macuahuitl” a sword not present during Nephite times that FAIR loves, or any number of big words they use when debunking. But I guess they are only strange when exmormons use them.

His complaints:

  • “Extra-terrestial humanoid”… not inaccurate. rest is a strawman.

Oh wait, only one?

  • 26:10 – Changes to the book of Mormon. “Nothing true about that statement”… the 4,000 changes were documented by the Tanners; and so he is looking up old claims and then debunking them. cough. Pots and kettles are now dancing in blacklight.

26:32 – Grammar changes. He plays this down, but remember, this was word-by-word given by God to Joseph; and yet God doesn’t know Grammar? That’s quite the claim.

“Insignificant” except the word “White and Delightsome” changed to “Pure and Delightsome” right? you’ll cover that I’m sure because the implica… no? Okay.

26:56 – “The Secret” – Like say, a temple ceremony? Truths not yet revealed. Fuckin’ hell your entire religion is about newly revealed lost secrets!

27:27 – “The church is not transparent”. Finding the seerstone when I was a kid was as difficult as finding the plans of demolition for Arthur Dent’s house


Okay, let’s test this right now. Go to church on Sunday and ask “Tell me about Brigham Young’s Bloodstone amulet!” Demand they talk about it. Ask what it was made of, how much protection it provided, and where you can see it. Then go to the UDOP museum or google and in 5 seconds… oh, there it is

That’s what he means by non-transparent. This thing was around Brigham’s fucking neck every time he went into danger; and yet no one will tell you about it, or how to get one. Despite many mormons going into danger daily!

27:31 – Misdirection. We only got it after long searches and then; facing excommunication, loss of callings, etc. So so so dishonest

27:37 – Joseph Smith Papers. Google “Leonard Arrington” and see the fabrication here. The church has suppressed most of this for over a hundred years. It is in spite of the church these things are coming to light, not because of it.

28:22 – “not one item examined” … experts in their fields. what bullshit is that. Experts in their fields are not associated with the church. They aren’t a legit source, remember? The church, itself must take a position. Members expect the church to take a position.

28:44 – “Sunday school is not a church history class.” Fuckers. whole section is just deceptive and member-blaming.

29:30 – “Top secret places we hide things” – please note that the Liahona, the Swedish people have access to, did not mention the seerstone until 2015. Last year. This is not honest behavior.

29:41 – MHA gave an award to D. Michael Quinn who was excommunicated for doing history research. Think about that.

30:10 – “I’ve never heard students complain, I’ve never heard this before”. Shit, we hear it here all the time. Maybe he needs to remove some wax-build up in his ears, or stop having an Honor Code that not only excommunicates doubters, but removes their academic futures from them if he wants to get honest feedback.

30:40 – “The Negative”. Oh god… a 1950’s stereo-typical date example where the church is the beautiful young women.

Focus on positive… blah blah. Ignore the founder of the church molesting children and removing consent from relationships, focus instead on the way we help during catastrophes.

32:40 – “The Desire to sin”

seriously? I’m glad he doesn’t spend long here.

33:22 – Trust – this is what it’s all about. You, Mr. Scott; have tanked your trust. I trust my friends more than church leaders because they haven’t repeatedly lied to me. They don’t ask me for money promising blessings that never come. They don’t tell me I’ll suffer endlessly unless I obey. I trusted you. My father trusted you. He taught me to work my whole life so that I could contribute to you and your cause. I spent years working to this end. I am sorely disappointed in your frankly dishonest and deceitful attempt to insult the church detractors for their inquiries as well as the Swedish / Nordic people that are my heritage and that I learned to love on my mission.

I bid you adieu at this point. May you never speak publicly without the ridicule you so richly deserve again.

Posted in Apologetics | 4 Comments

Ad-hominem against Statisticians

Recently a blog post claims:

There is no exodus from the Church. In fact, just the opposite.

It then insults people who get their Statistics degree from “The University of Reddit”.

The article fails to cite even a single source for its claims.

The number of folks applying for rebaptism far and away outnumbers the resignation requests.

And where does our blog poster get this fantastic number?

My source told us over family dinner one Sunday that the perception that social media gives about the “exodus” is simply not representative of the Church not just globally but even within the US.

Well who could ever doubt a source you had over for dinner.  The problem is that mathematics isn’t hard and it doesn’t lie like a friend over for dinner might.  Here is one post from Reddit that simply uses the Church’s own published numbers to draw the conclusion of lowered church growth.

If we go back to the previous membership count on Dec 31, 2012 it shows 14,782,473. So 15,000,000-14,782,473= 217,527 increase over a period of 38 weeks. With a little math, we can turn this into an annual growth rate of 1.388%. Compare this to past growth rates on this wiki page. Notice the steady decrease from 8.74% in 1989. (- painted_red)

Notice there are cited sources.  A person can follow the calculations and come to the same conclusion.  No matter how much people want belief to equal truth, truth is independent of your personal wishes and aspirations.

As far as number of people leaving the church, I think that the number of times LDS leaders mention “Do not leave the church” in their talks is a good indication that things have shifted.  From “Stay in the Boat” talks (There have been multiple now) to an increase in youth firesides focused on retention one can do a quick comparison to years prior to 2012 and see that even in the last three years there is an acceleration in “Just stay” rhetoric in talks.

I’d challenge the individual, S. Stevenson, which isn’t his real name, to come forward with a source that can be cited, rather than adding to “Faith promoting rumor”

“If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.” – Carl Sagan

No need to spread false rumors to make people feel better about their beliefs.  Oh and as to my degree, it’s from BYU, included Statistics, and I work with statistics all day every day professionally for at least 6 years.  And I post on Reddit.  Given the lack of sources or even understanding of basic math, I think Mr. S. Stevenson probably doesn’t have a stats degree at all.  Glass houses, throwing stones.

I hope the author at HolyFetch.com adds this one to his pile of faith-promoting rumors from the start.

Posted in Apologetics, Current issues | 8 Comments

Super Heroes

The LDS Organization is not opposed to mentioning superheroes in their talks to infantize their audience.  The frequently use Marvel and DC heroes of examples of how grown people can be embarrassingly naive.


  • To Speeches implying that kids are cute for praying ridiculous things like Spiderman beating the Green Goblin as opposed to Jesus blessing donuts to strengthen and nourish us, which totally happens


I could share with you many amusing stories about them that show how their understanding is just emerging…And Kevin, in every prayer he offered, prayed that Spiderman would demolish the Green Goblin—only to be interrupted each time by Anna, who would respond with a big sigh and say, “Oh, no! Not again!”

“…the small, curly headed Wonder Woman who is resting in her mother’s arms with a bottle of warm milk”

“My class quickly pointed out that in recent movies, even superheroes like Batman and Superman, whom they had wanted to emulate in their childhood, had caved in to current social pressures and had not remained chaste”

This ideology leads to dangerous behavior. We see people who want to hide their problems under the appearance of strength through boasting, aggressiveness, or abusive behaviors.

Gerald Causse in December of 2013 even went so far as to say:

God is not the God of superheroes, nor of people without weaknesses.”

Two things:

  1.   It’s pretty clear that general authorities and BYU speakers only view superheroes as childish things that should be put away.  If you want to make your fictional character or target of your moral tale seem infantile; just throw in a reference to a major comic book character; because people who believe in talking snakes, super-strong men who avoid barbers, magic handkerchiefs, golden plates and pure gold-hilted swords, and talking asses clearly are the mature ones who know how life works; and people who read stories about a radioactive spider are the childish ones.
  2. There are no references to Ironman, Thor, Hulk, Daredevil (even when discussing blindness and superheroes), Hawkeye or Blackwidow of the avengers.  None of Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, or others of the Justice League.  It’s pretty clear that the speakers are trying to “connect” with the “kids” to seem “hip” and “cool” through the most known cultural references of the genre, rather than knowing anything of the comicbook-world.  They latch on to cultural icons not out of respect or understanding the audience, but to immediately use them as a symbol of being naive, immature and frankly, needing “true guidance”

Well, I’d like to propose that superheroes have done more good for the world than the LDS church:

(want to donate to a charity? HopeforHenry.org)


  • But beyond that Comics are, at their core, stories that let us explore issues.  Now I know they can be a bit misogynistic in nature (like the LDS church) and give kids the ideas that unrealistic things happen all the time (like the scriptures) and even can promote bad ideas and memes (like firesides and seminary teachers) across generations but they also allow us to explore real issues.  Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix is a very deep and serious look at narcistic personality disorder and abusive relationships.  Marvel’s Civil War run, before the movie took on civil liberties vs. security issues we faced as a nation.

No you move


Now one might say that the LDS church has done more good in food donations than comics, or in BYU scholarships to GA children, or whatever; but I think I need to point out that Comics never murdered 120 pioneers in cold blood, or broke apart families to give Stan Lee 33 wives; most of which were non-consensual relationships, and comics very rarely have promised they were doing good, while really taking widow’s mites and turning them into fancy office furniture for Bob Kane’s successor.  Oh DC probably has some nice office furniture, but they are honest about being a revenue center, instead of pretending to do good in the world while really sending people out to do marketing.



To demonize or infantize comics and people who enjoy them while ignoring their benefits while simultaneously embracing old fabricated stories of wizards, witches, god’s magic, and so forth is not only hypocritical, it is manipulative and harmful.  Who knows, with Marvel Movies and DC Blockbusters in the theaters maybe in 30-40 years the LDS church will speak respectfully about Black Panther, Ant-Man or Aquaman and those who love them.

Or maybe the religion will seem more the flat, useless comical representation of infantile belief; while Batman, Superman and Spiderman live on

Comic book Tommy

Posted in Current issues, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to Tyler Glenn (of the Neon Trees) about Trash

[Update 5/27/2016:  You know what happens if you write someone… they respond; unless they are a General Authority or apologist at FAIRMormon and your point is valid.  Here is Tyler Glenn’s response.  I think it addresses all my concerns nicely, and although not written directly to me, it certainly answers the issues.  I post it first as I think it makes my letter irrelevant.  Well done, Tyler.

In “The Scarlett Letter”, Hester Prynne is branded with a violent red “A” for all to see. At first, there’s no question: it symbolizes the sin of adultery, and Hester wears it as punishment. But from the very beginning, she’s not willing to let it dictate the terms of her punishment.

I feel the most triumphant moment in my video for “Trash” is the moment when I “X” myself with red lipstick.

My thoughts behind this symbolism are as follows:

I am not broken, or challenged. I will not live in fear. I will reclaim what is already inside of me.

The scarlett letter that society places on those that challenge the status quo is violent.

When i released the imagery for “Trash”, I knew exactly what would happen, and it did.

But what’s ultimately empowering is “they” don’t get to brand me with that. I’ve already done it, and I wear that scarlett X proudly.

Some have forgotten that my expression has context. It has a deeply personal journey attached to it.

What’s inspiring is seeing so many of you use the X in your own way. I saw it at my show, I see them on your social media.

It represents more than religious doubt.
It represents more than anger and sadness and frustration and confusion.
To me, the X represents a reclaiming of one’s self.

The conversation that was started from my video has inspired me.
Many of my “friends” aren’t friends anymore. Even family members have put up walls. I’ve seen the true nature of many through this experience, and It has been beautiful and tragic.

What you must understand is ultimately, YOU have the power inside of you to reclaim what is already yours. That’s what this is about. It’s not about altered portraits and handshakes and religious folklore.

I created this app because I saw and heard many of you wanting a way to express your own experience. The “X” can be yours if you need it.

Be fearless. Be open to that further light and knowledge. Its a beautiful and inspiring journey to realize we know nothing at all for sure.

But what we do know is that we are here now, and we have time to become our best selves. We can’t let the masses dictate our self worth and our experience here on this earth. Only you get to do that.

[End Update]

First, this is not going to be popular to put out, and you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.  I get that.


I also get where the emotions came from that you used to fuel the video “Trash”.  I mean, not exactly; but we’ve both gone down the road of leaving the same religion.  I didn’t have the added LGBT aspect, but still, there is a lot in that video that spoke to me.

“Water never changes into wine, I’ve been drinking all the time”

Absolutely a brilliant lyric, so deep and impactful on so many levels.  From the water used in the sacrament today vs. Joseph Smith’s wine; to the idea that no matter how much we drink of a false belief system it will never become true, to the comparison with Jesus’ miracles and the lack thereof in the modern church; just pure poetry.  I loved that.

Which why I think it’s sad so few members will hear it.  The shocking nature of the video probably scored you more views and subscribes than anything you’ve done before.  It certainly caused a stir outside the Mormon and Exmormon communities.

This weekend Elder Holland went on a rant.  I’m sure he feels his emotions are every bit as real as you feel yours are.  But his nature and approach, using name-calling and ad hominum to insult those who believe differently than he does, I think besmirches the office he believes he is called to, and actually harms families.

Your production is art, and as such, doesn’t carry the weight to destroy and harm the way an official message from an official representative from an organization does.  I compare the two because both are driven by emotion, both are polarizing, and both are done for shock value.

And in both cases, almost all of the rest of the message was lost while the shocking is focused on.  It’s human nature.

The MormonStories interview got your point across, I think a lot better, but had fewer views.  The Shocking may have gotten views, but probably didn’t persuade anyone that the pain behind it was created by the organization.  At least few current members.

So if the goal was to capture the hurt and pain that exmormons would “Get”, then you achieved it.  But as a dialogue piece, the shock and awe left a lot of the message unheard.

I’d rather we had a dialogue of respect on all sides.  Ballard, and others like him, who show no respect to anyone with a different world view is not who we should emulate, but rather we should distance ourselves by being the calmer heads and warmer hearts.

But as far as the emotion, I get it.  And it is art.  I hope it doesn’t set a precedent.


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