business, Ex, religion

Sometimes Ex leads me to some interesting rabbit holes…

Happy hump day, everybody. Like a lot of people, I was shocked to hear about Christine McVie’s death last night. Guess who alerted me? It was none other than Stephen Bishop, whose book I reviewed yesterday. He left a comment on Christine McVie’s Facebook page, where it was announced that she passed away in a hospital after a “short illness”. She was 79 years old. Although her music has meant a lot to me over the years, I’m not going to dedicate this post to her passing. I did write a brief post on my Dungeon of the Past blog. Since we also lost Irene Cara a few days ago, that blog is getting some unusual attention lately, although not that many people read it these days. I’m waiting to hit $100 in AdSense, and then I’ll probably discontinue it. But it is a handy place to express my thoughts and prayers for musicians who made the years of my youth worth enduring.

Last night, before I read about Christine McVie, I was perusing the latest Ex nonsense. I noticed that she had made an intriguing comment.

I have no words for how repulsed I am at the thought of attending such a scary and surreal event. Of course… we could crash it…

I noticed that someone had responded, so I clicked the link, and there I found a most interesting post by some stranger from Birmingham, Alabama. Behold:

The person who post this wrote “It’s a coffee shop in my city that is owned by a cult.”

Well… given my love for investigating cults, this post interested me, so I went looking for more information, and I was led to this article written by journalist Greg Garrison on AL.com. There, I learned about a man named Terry Colafrancesco who has opened a “different” kind of business in Alabama called Villaggio Colafrancesco. Mr. Colafrancesco, who is an Alabama born Italian Catholic, was inspired by a visit to Italy 25 years ago, where he noticed people standing in line for gelato on a cold, November night. Colafrancesco is an entrepreneur, but he also happens to be super religious. His business, which sells all manner of Italian style treats from gelato to coffee to charcuterie, is operated as a tax paying enterprise. But he also runs a non-profit religious community called Caritas. Most of the people who work at Villagio Colafrancesco are members of the community. Colafrancesco will be directing all profits after taxes toward the Caritas ministry that he founded in the 1980s.

According to the AL.com article I linked:

In 1988, Colafrancesco hosted one of the six famous visionaries of Medjugorje, who claimed to have daily visions of the Virgin Mary in their hometown in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia starting in 1981. Marija Pavlovic Lunetti came to UAB Hospital to donate a kidney for her brother, Andrija Pavlovic. She stayed with Colafrancesco and continued to have her visions of the Virgin Mary in a field in Shelby County. She has returned to Caritas to visit dozens of times.

The field where she had her visions in Shelby County became the focal point of the 250-acre world headquarters of Caritas, which still takes tour groups to Medjugorje and promotes the visions on its web site, Mej.com. It has a printing press and publishes Colafrancesco’s commentaries on the visions under his pen name, “A Friend of Medjugorje.” Hundreds of thousands of the books have been distributed worldwide.

The Medjugorje visions have never been endorsed or authenticated by the Catholic Church, which has approved other reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary such as the ones in 1858 in Lourdes, France, and in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.

So yes, this Italian treat paradise is very much a business, but it’s also influenced by religion. So patrons are required to be dressed “appropriately” and leave their electronic devices at home. Profanity is not allowed. People are supposed to hang out and talk to each other, rather than hanging out on their phones. Ex is apparently disgusted by this.

Now, I’ll be honest… I initially laughed when I read about these rules, because I have been to Italy a bunch of times, and I’ve never seen an establishment there that bans cell phones, skimpy clothing, or profanity. And while I don’t wear skimpy clothes anymore, and never purposely did when I was younger, I do have a strong tendency to curse. I also love to look at my phone. However, having grown up at a time when cell phones and Internet trolls didn’t exist, I do sometimes feel pangs of nostalgia for that time. Maybe this happens to everyone as they age, but once you get to a certain age, you look less favorably on “progress” and start remembering the “good old days”. So there’s a certain charm in the idea of visiting a place where patrons are required to put their electronic devices away.

BUT– while I do try to maintain basic respect for people and their religious beliefs, I don’t think I’d want to patronize a commercial business with an obvious religious agenda. Obviously, I don’t mind visiting churches or even spending money in them in the form of donations. I will, for instance, give spare change to the cathedrals when I visit them in Europe. But I’ve seen the damage that organized religions can do to many people, and I’ve also seen how cults can complicate people’s lives.

I also don’t think I’d feel comfortable at a place where workers are “dress coding” people. I can, however, see why some people love the idea of such a place, especially in Alabama, where there are a lot of “conservative” types. On the other hand, I’d be interested in seeing how many native Alabamians know what is, and what is not, authentic in Italy.

As Mr. Colafrancesco is operating a private business, he has the right to run it as he sees fit. And I would imagine people in Alabama will fully support that right. It’ll be interesting to see if this idea takes off. Some people don’t mind dress codes. Planet Fitness famously has a dress code to keep less fit people from feeling intimidated and uncomfortable by more fit people showing off. However, that chain has run into problems, as they have confronted people about their dress who didn’t feel they were shaming anybody. And my guess is that there could be trouble when someone outspoken and influential gets kicked out of Villagio Colafrancesco for wearing a halter top and leggings or something.

In looking at Mr. Colafrancesco’s blog, I see that he is no fan of “college”. In fact, he literally writes that in the section about his story. And while Colafrancesco is a very successful and apparently self made man, I can see that not going to college left him with a bit of a vocabulary deficiency. He writes that long hours and hard work had paid off, so that by the time he was in his mid 20s, he and his wife were living “financially comfortable”. He bought several “tracks” of land and “never had a mortgage or debt”. I think Mr. Colafrancesco means “tracts” of land, and a mortgage is, in and of itself, debt. It’s not that I don’t understands what he means, of course, and obviously he didn’t need college to succeed. Not everyone needs higher education to “make it”, and some people don’t “make it” even with fancy degrees. It’s just that as religion is important to him, proper grammar is important to me. 😉

In any case, more power and big props to Mr. Colafrancesco for “doing it his way”. I just wouldn’t necessarily assume that everyone can do what he’s done, or hold him up as an example of someone to emulate. Especially since it’s pretty clear to me that he’s politically conservative and probably would vote for Trump, in spite of his stated conservative values. Trump is a big fan of the skimpily clad, and he doesn’t mind swearing like a sailor as he hangs out on social media and talks about overthrowing the government. Edited to add: I see I was right. Colafrancesco is a Trump supporter. How can a man who self-righteously bars profanity and skimpy clothing in his establishment champion a man who grabs women by their pussies? What a hypocrite! Sorry, I just can’t respect someone who preaches about decency and supports Donald Trump.

Moreover, there is some belief that Mr. Colafrancesco’s group is a destructive cult. I don’t yet know enough about Caritas to state whether or not it’s a cult. I just learned the first about it last night, thanks to Ex. According to the above link, which dates from December 13, 2001:

Five former residents of Caritas of Birmingham have filed suit in state court seeking an unspecified amount of money from the group and its founder, Terry Colafrancesco.

The suit claims Colafrancesco lures people into Caritas with promises of spiritual enrichment and then drains them of money. Families are made to live in nasty trailers at the group’s compound, and Colafrancesco controls their lives almost totally, the suit claims.

The plaintiffs include a one-time lieutenant to Colafrancesco and five parents who sued on behalf of their children, who still live at the mission located about 30 minutes south of Birmingham.

The suit claims Caritas has assets of about $5.9 million. Colafrancesco “said he was knighted by Mary the mother of Jesus,” the suit says.

“It’s just bitterness,” Colafrancesco said Tuesday.

A 2012 Reuters article indicates that the lawsuit was later settled privately.

Anyway… I guess people have the right to decide if they want to buy coffee at a place where they aren’t allowed to curse, wear spaghetti straps, or look at their phones. I’m sure some people will think Villagio Colafrancesco is a very nice and inviting place for a treat. No matter what, this venture is sure to bring in money, press, and controversy… although it’s pretty rich that Ex is “repulsed” by it. This is the same woman who joined the LDS church and used it as one of her parental alienation tools. And when it turned out they weren’t going to give her what she wanted and expected things from her, like money and time, she suddenly decided it was “bad”. I’m sure the fact that church members helped younger daughter escape her clutches also contributed to her changed mindset about religion and politics. It sure is interesting and entertaining to watch.

But… it seems that Ex is pining to ditch America, too… Behold.

I’m a poor white girl. I have no power. I am a mother raising her kids and if Trump were to EVER hold office again… I’m leaving this country and won’t be looking back. He’s worse than a horror movie to me and I cannot fathom how ANYONE would vote for that scum of the earth.

Yeah… says the woman who causes multiple people to experience PTSD style nightmares due to her abuses of them. Just shaking my head and hoping she avoids Germany…

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book reviews, religion

A review of Locked in: My Imprisoned Years in a Destructive Cult, by John Huddle…

Amazon.com tells me that I bought John Huddle’s book, Locked in: My Imprisoned Years in a Destructive Cult, on June 17, 2021. I don’t remember what prompted me to buy this book. I think it might have been a successful “suggestive selling” effort, as in I was already buying another book about cults and this one was also suggested. I’m assuming this because, before I read this book, I had never heard of the cult that is highlighted in Mr. Huddle’s story. Huddle and his ex wife and children were members of the Word of Faith Fellowship, otherwise known as WOFF. This “church” is based in Spindale, North Carolina, and is led by Jane Whaley, and her husband, Sam.

WOFF is a Protestant, non-denominational church. It began in 1979, when the Whaleys converted a former steakhouse into a place of worship. Ms. Whaley was a math teacher, while her husband sold used cars. Although neither had formal training in divinity, Jane Whaley was known as a powerful and charismatic speaker and a compelling leader. Since 1979, she’s seen her cult grow from its humble beginnings consisting of a few people to a couple thousand followers in countries around the world– Brazil, Scotland, and Sweden among them. According to Huddle, Jane Whaley claimed to be a conduit to God, and she made up a long list of “do’s and don’ts” for members. Those who violated the rules were punished with Jane’s wrath. Huddle writes of loud praying, loud screaming, and physical, emotional, and mental abuse delivered by church leaders.

A news story about WOFF followers who left the church due to abuse.

In functional, stoic prose, Huddle explains how he and his ex wife, Martha, met, married, and fell under Jane Whaley’s spell. While I wouldn’t describe Huddle’s writing as particularly dynamic or exciting, I was definitely interested in his story. Of course I find reading about restrictive cults interesting, but I was also compelled to read because, like me, he is a Virginia native who eventually lived in the Carolinas. I recognized a lot of the places he mentions in his book, since I went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina, and later lived in North Carolina with my husband. My husband is an ex Mormon, and I have a cousin who was a Jehovah’s Witness for years, so I have a personal connection to “culty” religious beliefs. And I really had no idea that WOFF existed before I read Locked In.

In many ways, WOFF’s beliefs and rules reminded me of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with some twists. Whaley didn’t want her followers to celebrate holidays or birthdays. She didn’t even want them to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, although they were welcome to eat it any other time of the year. She didn’t want them to celebrate Halloween, but it was okay to buy the discounted candy on November 1. When Huddle needed heart surgery, he told his doctor that he didn’t want the anesthesia, Versed, nor was the surgeon allowed to play music during the procedure. But it was okay to give him a blood transfusion, which the JWs would have vetoed. He made these stipulations because of Jane Whaley’s rules.

Huddle also had to get approval for any jobs he took. Huddle’s work was mostly in banking, specifically with credit unions. But Jane Whaley and other leaders in the church wanted him to work with church affiliated businesses, even if they didn’t pay enough to meet his financial needs or weren’t the kind of work he wanted to do. When Huddle was caught interviewing for, and moonlighting at, a non-approved job, he got in “trouble” with Jane, and was fired from his church approved job. But of course, his boss had expected Huddle to get right with God and come groveling back to work. He hadn’t expected that Huddle would finally realize that he was in a cult.

Another story about the WOFF.

Making the realization that WOFF is a cult cost Huddle his family, as they weren’t at the same level of awareness that Huddle was. That’s one of the saddest repercussions I’ve seen of people getting involved in culty belief systems. Many times, people fall into cults because they’re seeking solidarity and connection with others. But then, when the rules are too weird and restrictive, and one or two people can’t bear it anymore, they end up being ostracized by their loved ones. I saw it happen to my own husband, although one of his daughters eventually came around and stopped shunning him. I think the LDS church is also trying to be less “weird”, as they want to be seen as mainstream, even if a lot of what they do and some of their beliefs and practices are decidedly “culty”. Watch the news videos, though, and you actually hear Whaley scream, and hear in their voices what happened. They were literally screamed at and abused by Jane Whaley, whom they were supposed to call “Grandmother”.

And another story about the WOFF’s abuses toward members.
A continuation.

I got quite a jolt from the long list of rules Huddle described in the WOFF church. The main rule was this:

Members were required to live life as if Jane Whaley was the ONLY true source of the knowledge of God or God’s will.

Huddle, John. Locked in: My Imprisoned Years in a Destructive Cult (p. 129). Survivor Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

And Jane had a very long and specific list of the way she expected her followers to behave. Here’s a list of 144 “don’ts” from Mr. Huddle’s book. As you can see, some of the rules aren’t that unreasonable, but some are totally intrusive and ridiculous:

I first started posting about the “WOFF Don’t” list in February of 2010. Some rules on this list are now obsolete. WOFF Don’t list Don’ts – (this is a partial “living” list, at times, it takes on a life of its own, continuing to grow…)

Don’t drink alcohol (includes beer, wine or liquor)

Don’t cook with alcohol.

Don’t eat at places that serve alcohol.

Don’t drink root beer.

Don’t drink Cheerwine®.

Don’t drink diet Cheerwine®.

Don’t drink ginger ale.

Don’t smoke cigarettes.

Don’t dip snuff.

Don’t use chewing tobacco.

Don’t associate willingly with those that do use tobacco.

Don’t watch movies (unless Jane gives approval).

Don’t watch videos in your cars.

Don’t enter a movie theater (unless Jane gives approval).

Don’t read newspapers not even the headlines.

Don’t listen to the radio.

Don’t read or handle magazines.

Don’t watch television (except when allowed at church).

Don’t read books that are not approved by leadership.

Don’t read your Bible too much (Amplified version is acceptable).

Don’t take notes during the services. Only record scripture references.

Don’t forget to go to bathroom before the service.

Don’t get up to go to bathroom during a service.

Don’t bring knives of ANY type on church property.

Don’t be late for a service or function.

Don’t park alongside the left side of the sanctuary unless you are approved to do so.

Don’t park in the spaces closest to the back steps. Those are reserved for parents with infants.

Don’t park in the first spot along the front sidewalk. That is reserved for those on watch.

Don’t park along the street. Use the field only when not raining.

Don’t park on the drive to the school (unless approved for that service).

Don’t park in the first handicap space unless approved.

Don’t park under the awning and leave your car running.

Don’t speed when driving around the church.

Don’t go opposite to the accepted traffic flow of counterclockwise. It causes confusion.

Don’t be on your cell phone when approaching the school.

Don’t drive your car with expired tags. You will be reminded.

Men: Don’t wear a color of dress shirt except white or light blue.

Women: Don’t get your heart set on a dress until you check with others to see if anyone else has that dress. You may need to return yours.

Don’t “check out” during the singing.

Don’t look around at others when you are supposed to be singing.

Don’t close your eyes when singing. You could give over to a “religious devil.”

Don’t stare at visitors.

Don’t bring your cell phone into a service. Exceptions are rare and you will be told when you can bring your phone into the service.

Don’t take pictures during a regular service.

Don’t make your own recording of a service.

Don’t bring visitors unless you tell someone in the office so they can tell Jane.

Don’t take pictures of Jane or other members unless you are given permission.

Don’t be loose with your camera at any time.

Don’t put large amounts of cash in the offering unless it is in an envelope.

Don’t complain when the offering plates are passed more than once.

Don’t allow your toddlers to eat in the sanctuary.

Don’t bring snacks or dark drinks or chocolate.

Don’t chew gum in the sanctuary.

Don’t fall asleep during the services. If you get tired, take your Bible and stand up in the back of the sanctuary.

Don’t wear muddy shoes or boots into the sanctuary, leave them at the door-outside.

Don’t leave your tissues after services. Place them in the trash.

Don’t leave coats, Bibles or personal belongings in the sanctuary. It gets locked after each service.

Don’t touch the thermostats in the church unless you are approved.

Don’t wear jeans (exception may be for construction work…maybe).

Don’t wear shorts.

Don’t wear sleeveless dresses or tops.

Don’t wear dresses above the knees.

Don’t wear a bathing suit without having it covered with long shorts (below the knees) and a dark t-shirt.

Don’t wear cargo pants.

Don’t wear or own anything with Nike® on it. Nothing.

Don’t wear black tennis shoes.

Don’t wear high-cut, boot-like tennis shoes.

Men: don’t wear solid white tennis shoes.

Don’t wear a baseball cap sideways or backwards.

Don’t wear t-shirts with slogans or pictures.

Don’t wear “muscle t-shirts.” Men:

Don’t leave the house without a white t-shirt on under your top shirt.

Don’t go swimming with boys and girls together.

Don’t leave the pool toys out when you are done using the pool.

Don’t go outside without sunscreen (daily).

Men: Don’t allow facial hair to grow. No beards, of any type. No “pork chop” sideburns.

Men: Don’t let your hair get long or unkempt.

Don’t interview for a job unless it is “under authority.”

Don’t accept a job unless you check it out with authority.

Don’t make plans for college unless you have Jane check it out.

Don’t sign-up for classes unless Jane Whaley or leadership checks out your schedule.

Don’t buy a house unless Jane Whaley can check it out. Don’t even make an offer on a house unless Jane can “check out” and “get a feel” for the neighborhood.

Don’t decorate your house unless Jane or her helper can help you.

Don’t buy a car without checking with Sam first.

Don’t sell a car or truck without checking with Sam first.

Don’t get major repairs done without checking with Sam.

Don’t buy insurance without checking with the approved church source person for insurance.

Don’t plan a vacation or time away with your family unless you check it out with Jane.

Don’t assume you can go to the funeral or a wedding of a family member without checking it out and/or someone from the church is going with you.

Don’t celebrate Christmas.

Don’t give gifts to others unless you are “under authority.”

Don’t celebrate Easter.

Don’t celebrate other holidays.

Don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

Don’t celebrate your birthday or others in your family or group of friends or co-workers.

Don’t celebrate wedding anniversaries.

Don’t go hunting. Don’t go fishing (well unless it is on an approved “ministry” trip).

Don’t hunt or fish just for sport.

Don’t have bumper stickers on your car (Political season is an exception).

Don’t have “dingle dangles” hanging from your rearview mirror.

Don’t have a slogan license plate on the front of your car.

Don’t buy or drive a “race car” looking car.

Don’t play games on your computer. Erase/delete the games.

Don’t play games on your cell phone. Erase/delete them.

Don’t own or use a “game boy” or other hand held electronic game device.

Don’t play with regular playing cards.

Don’t play hide and go seek.

Don’t play Monopoly®.

Don’t play football.

Don’t ride in the back of a pick-up truck.

Don’t play ping pong.

Don’t play pool.

Don’t play or imitate an “air guitar.”

Don’t play music without singing the words.

Don’t whistle.

Don’t let WOFF children play with children outside of WOFF.

Don’t let children make animal sounds (maybe).

Don’t let children play toy musical instruments (maybe).

Don’t forget to read your Bible before you go to bed.

Don’t let children play with camping toys.

Don’t let children play with “play tools.”

Don’t let children have Bibles with stories and pictures of Jesus (maybe…).

Don’t be late for anything. Be early.

Don’t iron double creases in your pants.

Men: Don’t use urinals that are not enclosed.

Don’t store personal garments unless they are folded neatly in the drawer.

Don’t go to tanning beds.

Don’t ride motorcycles.

Don’t ride ATV’s or dirt bikes.

Men: African American- Don’t shave your head bald.

Don’t start a relationship without checking it out with Jane Whaley.

Don’t decide who you will marry without checking it out with Jane.

Don’t talk to the other person who you are in relationship with unless someone is listening and “guarding the conversation.”

Don’t talk loose and joke around.

Don’t be foolish.

Don’t complain about the list of “don’ts.”

Don’t place the toilet paper on the roll unless it rolls over the top.

Don’t speak to those who have left WOFF unless you ask Jane.

Don’t ask anyone but Jane about those who lately have not been seen in services.

Don’t go in the sanctuary with “sin in your heart,” deal with it before service.

Don’t expect someone else to clean-up your mess.

Don’t back-talk or give excuses for your sin.

Don’t “attack” those in authority.

Don’t question Jane’s authority to run WOFF.

Huddle, John. Locked in: My Imprisoned Years in a Destructive Cult (pp. 118-124). Survivor Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

I appreciated reading Locked In, because I honestly had never heard of this cult before, and I enjoyed reading about Huddle’s experiences in places that were familiar to me. But, if I’m honest, I think this book would have been better if it had been written by someone with more of a flair for writing. Huddle’s writing isn’t terrible, but it’s not very exciting to read. And there was one particular phrase he used twice that made me cringe. At the beginning– prelude– to the book, he writes:

The first awareness of a strange breeze blowing occurred when I saw my wife standing outside the office door in the fellowship hall. She was as nervous as a bridled filly waiting to jump and run. Her nervousness should have sounded a loud alarm, but I missed it.

Huddle, John. Locked in: My Imprisoned Years in a Destructive Cult . Survivor Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Then, at the end of the book, he includes the same passage:

The first awareness of a strange breeze blowing occurred when I saw my wife standing outside the office door in the fellowship hall. She was as nervous as a bridled filly waiting to jump and run. Her nervousness should have sounded a loud alarm, but I missed it.

Huddle, John. Locked in: My Imprisoned Years in a Destructive Cult (p. 165). Survivor Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

I get the sense that he was trying to be very descriptive about his wife’s strange and unordinary behavior. The trouble is, he doesn’t use these kinds of phrases throughout the book, so it sort of sticks out like a sore thumb and becomes a little contrived. Most of the book is written in a more mundane style, without any fancy similes. I’m not trying to say I would have wanted more descriptions like the one above, which struck me as a little bit over the top. I’m saying that a more relaxed, conversational style might have made the simile work better, and seem less out of place. But I don’t think the book is poorly written. I just think the language is a little bit stiff, which may make the book less interesting and harder to read for some readers.

Personally, I’m glad I took the time to read Locked In. I learned something new from this book, although I highly doubt I ever would have been tempted to join the faith. I’m glad to know about it, just the same, and I think some people will be very interested in Mr. Huddle’s story. I give it three and a half stars out of five, in spite of my misgivings about the writing style. I think the topic is original and fascinating, and the story offers valuable information and a warning to others, which makes it well worth reading. But I also think it’s worth watching the news videos about this church, which really drive home how very abusive and dangerous this cult is.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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mental health, religion, tragedies

Switzerland and Utah have more in common than beautiful mountain views…

This post has to do with mass suicide. If you think you might be triggered, you might want to move on to your next Internet station.

The New York Times‘ headline said “4 Die After Falling From Balcony in Swiss Resort Town”. I was instantly curious, since I’ve heard the Swiss are even more anal retentive about safety and precision than the Germans are. Before I read the article, I said to Bill, “Someone is going to get sued into oblivion for this.” I said that because the headline made it sound like negligence was involved and I just assumed that a lovely family had plunged to their deaths because a balcony gave way. The strange truth was, this tragedy had nothing to do with a builder’s or safety inspector’s negligence. Apparently, these four people died on purpose. A fifth person remains hospitalized in serious condition.

The small group of people who died yesterday in Montreux, a beautiful resort town in western Switzerland near idyllic Lake Geneva, were not publicly identified in the article. However, the police believe they were French nationals and members of the same family, consisting of a 40 year old man, his 41 year old wife, his wife’s twin sister, and their 8 year old daughter. The couple’s 15 year old son somehow managed to survive the plunge from the seventh floor apartment from which they all apparently jumped.

When the article was published, the police were still trying to determine exactly what led up to the circumstances leading to this family’s fall from their balcony. According to the story, two police officers had knocked on the family’s door at about 7am. The officers were there to give the parents a summons involving the homeschooling of one of the children. Homeschooling is legal in Switzerland, but children who are homeschooled are still required to be routinely monitored by officials to determine their educational progress. When parents are out of touch with officials, police officers are tasked with issuing summonses. Evidently, this family was not allowing their homeschooled child to be checked.

After they knocked on the door, the police officers heard a voice from inside the apartment, asking them to identify themselves. Then, there was silence. As the officers were about to leave the building, a witness had called the police to inform them that people had fallen from a seventh floor balcony. A neighbor of the family’s stated that the family was very “discreet”. That makes me think that there was something weird going on, even before the adults apparently decided that suicide en masse was the answer to their problems.

I read some of the comments regarding this piece, and one lady posted that this story reminded her of an incident that happened in Salt Lake City Utah in 1978. Her comment is below.

This sounds like an instance in the 1970s involving a family who came to be known as “The Leaping Longos” after a mother and her seven children all jumped out of their hotel room window. It turned out that the father had killed himself the day before and their mother forced them all to jump in some weird type of suicide pact. They were practicing their own brand of religion based on the Mormon church and the father was also evading the authorities. 

This family likely all jumped to their deaths as well, but only after the authorities showed up. The authorities were only trying to establish what was happening with the children due to them being home schooled but it is very likely that they had something else to hide. Fortunately one son has survived, and once he’s able to talk about what happened I’m sure the full story will unfold.

The poor kid has become an orphan and I hope he’s able to recover because it would be even more tragic if he’s permanently impaired.

I was around in 1978, but I was a young child at the time. Obviously, I had never heard of the “Leaping Longos” before I read the above comment. I decided to look them up to see if there was any information about this family. Sure enough, I found the story after a couple of minutes of looking. Here’s a link to a 1993 era article by Deseret News about the lone survivor of the Utah incident. In that case, the lone survivor was a fifteen year old girl. Like the rest of her family, Longo changed her name; in the Deseret article she is called Rachel David.

On August 3, 1978, the David family (originally identified as the Longo family) made the bizarre decision to leap from an eleventh floor balcony at the International Dune Hotel in Salt Lake City. The family had been living in the hotel for about a year, when the patriarch, 39 year old Immanuel David (originally named Charles Bruce Longo), committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Three days after the suicide, 38 year old Rebecca David and her seven children either jumped or were thrown from the balcony. The lone survivor, Rachel, spent many months in a hospital before she was placed in foster care. She was wheelchair bound in 1993, when she was interviewed by the hosts of the television tabloid show, Inside Edition.

In 1993, Rachel David still believed that her father was God and would be returning to Earth. She also said that she had willingly jumped. She also said that she had been trying to follow the suicide order and, as of 1993, had attempted to kill herself many times. Another article, circa 2000, describes the survivor as “brain damaged”. At the time that article was written, Rachel David was still living with “remnants” of the House of David near Denver, Colorado.

Below is a screenshot of a news article that was written in 1978, just after this event took place.

Freaky story… I wonder if this French family was involved in a similar cult.

And here is a broadcast news item about the 1978 Utah incident…

I can’t even imagine how horrifying this was to witness…

Why do these culty types always gravitate to the name “Immanuel”? Especially when they have ties to Mormonism? According to the news report, David was an excommunicated member of the LDS church. The father was not employed at the time of his death, although according to the video, the bill for the $95 a day was paid on time and in cash, usually with $100 bills. The news story is astonishing, as the physician is very openly talking about the surviving girl’s injuries. We didn’t have HIPAA in those days.

As I listen to this surprisingly lengthy report, I’m confused by the discrepancies in the people’s names. According to the news article, the father’s name was Charles Bruce Longo, but this news report refers to him as Bruce David Longo. And then he changed his name, and all of the names of his wife and children were changed.

As for the French family in Switzerland, slightly more news has emerged about their apparently sudden and bizarre exit from Earth. Apparently, the mother in the French family was a dentist who had worked in Paris. Her sister was an ophthalmologist. The father worked at home. The family had been living in Switzerland for some time, and had residence status. The Daily Mail offers an article with some rather salacious details omitted from the more respectable newspaper articles. Apparently, the family used incense a lot, and ordered many packages. It will be interesting to learn more about why this tragedy occurred, and if this family has anything else in common with the “Leaping Longos” of Salt Lake City.

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controversies, Duggars, religion, sexism, wingnuts

Creepy men who are obsessed with getting some “young stuff”…

The featured photo is a screenshot of part of Patrick Weaver Ministries’ post.

There’s so much I could be writing about today. So much, in fact, that I’ve been sitting here for almost two hours, trying to decide which comments to make regarding the vast array of potential hot topics. Ukraine has been invaded by Russia, and who knows what that is going to lead to on a worldwide scale. Whatever happens will probably affect my husband’s work.

Then there’s the arrest of the guy who killed my former colleague, Matt. I could write more about that, but I don’t know how interesting that is to people other than me.

Then there’s the evergreen issue of COVID-19, but who isn’t sick of hearing and reading about that? I know it’s a tired subject for me.

And then there are the Duggars… another wedding is on the horizon, and apparently, another baby is allegedly on the way. This time, it’s John David and Abbie who are reportedly expecting. And next month, Jeremiah Duggar is going to marry Hannah Wissmann– just ahead of Josh Duggar’s sentencing. Yeah, I could write about that, but I’m not going to… because this morning, I saw something that really creeped me out.

Someone in the Duggar Family News group shared this post by Patrick Weaver Ministries. It’s calling out a youth pastor/filmmaker named Joshua_Wesely, who posted a picture of his girlfriend, Isabelle, on her 18th birthday, back on November 17, 2020. That means she was born the day after Bill and I married, on November 16, 2002. Have a look…

Eeeww…

Perez Hilton has an article about this couple, in which it is revealed that apparently, the two started their relationship when she was 14 and he was 20. He’s now 24 and she’s 18, which sounds slightly less icky… until you realize that he’s been working on her since she was in puberty! Mr. Wesely and his wife have made their Instagrams private, but the front page does reveal that he and the young lady are now married, and have been so since August of 2021. He also has a YouTube channel, at which I am currently taking a look. Interestingly enough, it turns out that he is German, and his content on YouTube is all in German. Also, in Germany, the age of consent is 14. I suppose I’m not surprised, given the attitudes about sex here. Still, it does seem kinda gross. ETA: Yikes! He is from Mainz, which is 20 minutes away.

It’s not their age difference. It’s the fact that he’s been chasing her since she was fourteen… and he’s a “youth pastor”.
So, I guess what Mr. Wesely did was technically legal in Germany… but yucky to Americans.

I remember what I was like when I was 14. I was in no way ready for sex, or a committed relationship. I know there are exceptions. Loretta Lynn married her husband, Doo (Oliver Lynn), when she was somewhere between 13 and 16 years old, and he was nineteen. They had six children, and were together for fifty years, until he died at age 69 in 1996. However, Loretta Lynn’s husband was a violent alcoholic who beat and cheated on her. If it hadn’t been for Loretta Lynn’s extraordinary talents as a musician, who knows what would have happened to her?

Hell, I was barely ready for sex when I was 30, which was when I finally started having it, two weeks after my wedding day. This isn’t to say that my situation is the norm. It isn’t. I just think that kids shouldn’t be engaging in serious and sexual relationships. Isabelle is not a child now, but she was for several years before she and Joshua got married. I know that if I had a fourteen year old daughter, I would not look too fondly on some 20 year old guy wanting to date her. That sounds like a dangerous situation to me. There’s a reason why so many fundies like to marry young– especially when the female half is young. It makes them a lot easier to “mold”. Fourteen year olds tend to be more submissive and less worldly.

It looks like maybe Mr. Wesely is on the far right. Below is a trailer from a 2021 film he produced called 2025- The World Enslaved By a Virus. The film envisions a world in which communism and atheism have taken over, and meetings, Christianity, and travel are forbidden. Wesely starred in the film, which he also wrote. His brother, Simon, co-produced and co-directed it.

I notice the channel where this is posted is called “Wesely Bro’s”… Apostrophe abuse, too?

This reminds me of something I saw back in the early 00s, when Bill and I were newly married. At that time, a lot of men thought the Olsen twins were super hot. I once actually saw a countdown clock in a bar that showed how much longer it would be before Mary Kate and Ashley turned 18. I know there were a number of Internet sites dedicated to their 18th birthday, which was June 13, 2004. Granted, the Olsen twins are celebrities. They are fabulously wealthy, and apparently, nothing creepy happened to them offline– that I know of, anyway. But still, there were basement dwelling creeps who were actually watching a clock to see how much longer it would be before they were “fair game” for being pursued by horny older men.

Ugh… This is just gross.

I know a lot of people think church is the best place to find a mate. Sadly, the reality is, church is a place where a lot of people wind up victimized, because they are conditioned to trust church leaders due to their role in a religious organization. I think this is especially true in strict, culty belief systems that promote conspiracy theories. In fact, as I have referenced before on my blog, there are even Web sites that encourage “Christian” men to marry young women, so they can be properly “groomed” for submission. The link I provided is a blog dedicated to “Biblical Gender Roles”. I have written about that site before, and judging by my stats, a lot of people are interested in it, as well as “domestic discipline”.

Churches are not the only way older men wind up with younger women. Having watched many episodes of To Catch a Predator, I know that these types of guys come from all walks of life. It doesn’t take much for them to take the bait if an underage woman signifies her consent. A few weeks ago, I was watching a YouTube clip that involved a 48 year old married physician from San Francisco, who came over to a decoy’s location, hoping to score. The physician ultimately committed suicide some years later. Surprisingly enough, he was still married to his physician wife when he died.

This is unbelievable. Obviously, he didn’t care about his career at all…

Bill and I talked about this subject this morning. We are, after all, about eight years apart in age. I had just turned 18 when he married his ex wife. However, Bill and I are a hell of a lot more compatible than he and Ex were. When we married, I was 30, and he was 38. Age matters less when you’re older.

I would say there is a big difference between 18 and 24; however, according to recent scientific research, neither Joshua’s nor his wife’s brains are even fully developed yet. That might explain the bizarre movies he puts out, promoting right wing conspiracies. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, human brains aren’t considered fully developed until age 25. Bill did say, by the way, that he would have had a serious problem with a 20 year old man pursuing one of his daughters when they were that young. Not that Ex would have given him a chance to intervene.

And let’s not forget the case of Jack Schaap, a former “minister” at Hyles-Anderson College, a Christian school in Hammond, Indiana. He famously delivered a horrifying sermon in which he “polished” a rod, masturbation like, as he spoke about how God finds mates for the faithful. Mr. Schaap later went to federal prison for taking a sixteen year old girl he was “counseling” across state lines for sex. He was sentenced to twelve years in 2013, and is scheduled for release next February.

Part of Mr. Schaap’s defense was that the girl he abused was “aggressive” and had prior “extensive sexual experience”. He also alleged that she was a drug user. Apparently, in his feeble mind, that made molesting her okay. The girl was also reportedly a student at the private school run by Schaap’s former church, the 15,000 strong First Baptist Church of Hammond, since kindergarten. Based on Schaap’s comments, in spite of her religious schooling, she was “experienced”. I’d like to know who gave her that experience. Obviously, the staff at that church weren’t to be trusted. Or, at least that’s what I would think if I were that girl’s mother.

OMG… I would have died watching this.

I don’t understand what it’s like to be a man. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason why so many of them are looking for “young stuff”.

“You should be gettin’ that young stuff!” Eew.

Anyway… I don’t know if Isabelle is happy. She’s certainly young and pretty, and I can assume she married Joshua consensually. And I understand that German laws are different than US laws are, as are the mores surrounding sex. I do think it’s too bad she isn’t still single, though, and enjoying her youth… maybe doing something for herself, instead of jumping into marriage with a man who appears to be drinking some pretty strong right wing Kool-Aid in the name of “Christianity”. But, it’s her life. Still… eeew. Count me among those who disapprove.

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LDS, lessons learned, love, musings

A few more thoughts on Saturday’s Warrior and sweet spirits…

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the 1989 LDS production, Saturday’s Warrior, which I inadvertently stumbled across on Wednesday afternoon. That post generated a lot of discussion, and a surprising amount of interest among the more religiously experienced of my friends. I realized that in writing that long post, there were some things that I never got around to writing about yesterday. Part of the reason I never got around to completing my thoughts is that my initial post was pretty long and I simply ran out of “gas”. Another reason is that I wasn’t quite ready to explore it twenty-four hours ago. Again, I only discovered this “masterpiece” two days ago. There’s a lot to unpack.

So, even though I have another topic on my mind, I’m going to write a little bit more about my thoughts on Saturday’s Warrior. Some people may wonder why I would devote two posts to a LDS cultural relic that doesn’t even affect me personally. Remember, I grew up Protestant, and wasn’t introduced to Mormons until I was a young adult. Watching Saturday’s Warrior as a child didn’t “scar” me. However, after posting about this on Facebook and RfM, I realize that it affected a lot of people. Some of those people are friends I’ve never met, and some of them have been “scarred” by Saturday’s Warrior. Even if it’s just because they watched it yesterday at my prompting!

The concept of the “sweet spirit”…

One idea that I was introduced to, when I first started hanging out with ex Mormons, was the idea of the “sweet spirit”. What is a sweet spirit, you ask? A sweet spirit is a euphemism for a young woman who has a “nice personality” and not much else to offer. At least on the surface, anyway. One thing I noticed about Saturday’s Warrior, and didn’t really care for, were the digs about physical appearance. I realize that this emphasis on physical attractiveness is a thing for most everybody, especially when we’re growing.

In Mormonism, physical appearance seems to be especially important, as I think it is in other strict “culty” belief systems. I’ve noticed it among the fundies, too, in spite of their insistence that they focus on a person’s “countenance”. The girls are expected to be beautiful and thin, so they can attract a mate and have the best life. But I’ve known a lot of beautiful people who haven’t had the happiest lives. Why do we focus so much on appearance and image? It’s definitely not the best indicator of who will be happy and fulfilled.

In Saturday’s Warrior, the concept of the “sweet spirit” is mentioned in the first moments of the video. As the show begins, we’re introduced to the couple, Julie and Tod, who are in the pre-mortal existence, waiting to be born and live on Earth, where they expect they will one day meet and be a couple. We are to believe that Julie and Tod were together before, and are an “eternal couple”, yet Julie is still worried that Tod won’t find her on Earth after they’re born. Or worse, he’ll find her unattractive. Here’s the dialogue that opens their connection:

Julie: “Of course I can’t blame you for being excited… all the experience a physical body will bring… new friends and… girls.” [looking worried] “Oh, you’ll probably be EXTREMELY good looking and they’ll flock around you by the dozens!”

Tod: “Oh Julie, I can hardly wait!”

Julie: “Oh, on the other hand, I’ll probably be very PLAIN!”

Tod: “It’s enough to make you want to CRY and SING and SHOUT all at once! Hey! Somebody out there! I’m COMING!”

Julie: “Ohhh!” [turns and sobs]

Tod: “Hey, what’s the matter?”

Julie: “All you can think about is getting down to those physical bodies!”

Tod: “Huh?”

Julie: “Oh, and GIRLS, and don’t try to hide it, Tod, you can hardly wait!”

Tod: “I can’t?”

Julie: [very upset and insecure] “Oh, so you ADMIT IT!!” [defeated] “Go on, then. Have your wild FLING on Earth! Just as long as YOU’RE happy.”

Tod: [grasping Julie’s shoulders and consoling] “Julie… how can you say such things, after all we’ve promised?”

Julie: [turning with hair flip] “What good are promises in a world where EVERYTHING will be forgotten? Even if by some miracle we DO meet? What chance is there that you could possibly recognize me?”

Tod: “Hey, how long have we known each other?”

Julie: [slightly calmer] “Forever…”

Tod: “And loved each other?”

Julie: [smiles] “Forever…”

Tod: “Do you think we’re just going to forget all of that?”

Julie: [dreamy] “Yes… [suddenly horrified] I mean NO! I mean, I don’t KNOW what I mean!”

Tod: [embracing Julie in a hug] “Julie, I LOVE you, and if I have to search the WHOLE world over, I’ll FIND you…”

Julie: [turns away, upset]

Tod: [insistently grabbing her] “And as for not recognizing each other, why, that’s like saying that the sun, and the moon, and the stars will never recognize their GLORY!” [excitedly using hand gestures] “The truth and beauty and virtue will never recognize their OWN!”

Julie: [horrified] “But what if I’m UGLY?!”

Tod: [deadpans] “Ugly?”

Julie: “I knew it! I knew it!”

Tod: [comforting] “I’m just kidding, Julie… if you were the strangest looking girl on Earth, I’d still love you.”

Julie: “Oh Tod…”

The mushy dialogue continues, with Tod reassuring Julie that her looks won’t be important to him when they finally meet. But then we’re reminded that they will forget everything that happened in the pre-existence, and, well we all know what happens when young, shallow people get together. They tend to be attracted to physical appearance. As all of this is going on, we have to suspend disbelief, as the characters talk about what it will be like to have physical bodies, when they clearly already HAVE physical bodies in the pre-mortal existence. 😉 Tod and Julie share a loving duet, and then we’re introduced to Julie’s brothers and sisters. It doesn’t take long before the concept of the “sweet spirit” comes up again.

The brothers and sisters happily talk about what it will be like when the twins, Pam and Jimmy, are born to their parents. One of the sisters proposes they all be born at once– seven up-lets! But a little brother asks, “Do you wanna kill mama in one shot?” It’s funny to realize that in 2022, there have actually been some women who have given birth to seven or eight children at one time. That was an inconceivable thought in 1989, but the miracles of modern medicine have made it possible today.

And then one of the other brothers introduces Jimmy, who does his Donny Osmond schtick. He talks about what he feared.

Jimmy: “Well naturally, I had lots of fears. But one that really had me scared is that I would have, uh, such animal magnetism, such charisma, that no one would notice my sweet spirit.”

Everyone groans, and then twin sister Pam is asked about her thoughts.

Pam: “Well, of course being a girl, my number one fear is that I would have nothing BUT a sweet spirit.”

The kids all say “no” in horrified tones.

Pam: [twirling] “But with beauty or without, as long as I can dance my way through life, that’s all that MATTERS!”

Pam turns out to be very pretty; she looks like Marie Osmond. But she winds up in a wheelchair, so there will be no dancing in her life, and having a physical disability might make her less of a “catch” to some of the shallower people in the world. She later sings a dreadful song called “Daddy’s Nose”, which shows the whole family dancing with huge, fake, beak-like noses. I read that in 2014, they changed the title to “Daddy’s Genes”. I’m not sure if that makes it better. Maybe they changed it because it’s so easy to get plastic surgery these days. Below are the lyrics:

All my friends told me take advantage of your face
Other people so endowed have really gone some place
So I dreamed of Hollywood till it occurred to me
Someone beat me to the punch named Jimmy Durante

A nose is a nose like a rose is a rose
As everybody knows
But may we propose that the rosiest nose
Is a one that plainly shows
You ain’t got a nose less it touches your toes
And it grows every time that it blows
Wouldn’t be so bad if it’d stayed with ol’ dad
But we’ve all got daddy’s nose

Riverdale as you know has had a lot of quaking
Scientific tests were made to find out why the shaking
They finally zeroed in to find the cause of all our woes
We only have an earthquake when daddy blows his nose

A nose is a nose like a rose is a rose
As everybody knows
But may we propose that the rosiest nose
Is a one that plainly shows
It a rack for your clothes a plow when it snows
Or use it for a garden hose
Wouldn’t be so bad if it’d stayed with ol’ dad
But we’ve all got daddy’s nose
Mom’s even got it
Yes we’ve all got daddy’s nose
He really blew it
Yes we’ve all got daddy’s nose

There are other parts of the show that emphasize how important looks are. For instance, the missionary, Wally Kessler, has a companion named Harold Green who is overweight. I swear, these two must have been the inspiration for Elder Price and Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon Musical. Harold isn’t even that fat. He just looks a little plainer and more slovenly next to Wally, who looks like one of the Osmond Brothers.

Toward the end of the show, Harold and Wally are teaching Tod the gospel. He’s an artist, who is always in the park drawing. Tod, then not LDS, had talked to Jimmy, drawing him as he could be, rather than as he was. Later, as Wally and Harold lament that they haven’t baptized anyone, they notice Tod drawing again. They take a chance– prompted by the spirit, no doubt– and there’s a montage showing how they converted Tod, making him a “better” version of himself by introducing him to the “one true church”. At one point, Wally shows Harold a film, which is handily broadcast on Harold’s stomach. Harold, like many good Mormons of the time, was wearing a white dress shirt, and his size makes it easy for his belly to serve as a screen. The message is, he’s too fat, and that makes him laughable, and less lovable, even though he redeems himself and Wally later.

And the character Julie is shown looking in the mirror, primping and admiring herself. She had been devastated that Wally went off on his mission, since she thinks he’s the one for her. But then she meets another guy named Peter and sends Wally a “dear John” letter. Harold, the overweight missionary companion, tells Wally that maybe it’s for the best, but Wally says, “What would you know about love or the pain I’m going through?” as Harold sheepishly moves away. “And to think I trusted her!”

Wally is distraught about losing Julie, so Elder Green gives him a pep talk, and looks like a fool in the process. He’s comic relief.

Then Tod and Julie sing about being the perfect people they were meant to be. There’s lots of mushy gushing, again focusing on the whole “prince and princess” romantic love, which as we all know, only exists in fairytales. Look at the British royal family! But it’s promoted in this show like it’s something that can happen if only you have the right religious beliefs.

As I was watching and re-watching this video, it occurred to me that while this show is kind of silly and entertaining, and it obviously takes some cues from some of the popular sitcoms of the 1980s, like Growing Pains and Family Ties, the overall impression I got is that, overall, Mormonism is kind of silly. One really has to overcome cognitive dissonance to buy into some of the concepts that are presented in this show. Now, before anyone comes at me, please understand that I know that Saturday’s Warrior isn’t all there is to Mormonism. It’s simply meant to be entertaining. But if you watch it, not having been raised with some of the concepts that are conveyed in this production, you might come away with some impressions that aren’t all that favorable.

I know, for instance, that physical attraction is very important to young people. I know that young people are especially aware of their looks, and that so-called “sweet spirits” might not have the best luck in attracting romantic partners. And, of course, in this production, the partners have to be of the opposite sex, since Mormons aren’t exactly supportive of couples who aren’t heterosexual. But we hear the girls worrying about not being pretty enough. And we see one of the guys being made into the fool because he’s fat.

Kudos to actor D.L. (David) Walker for pulling off the comic relief in his turn as Elder Green. He was a good sport. I see on IMDB that he’s had a lot of roles over the years. He might even be the best known of all of the actors on this program. I guess he did get the last laugh, after all. Not everyone can be a leading man, but plenty of people can be character actors, especially if there’s something unique or interesting about them. I get that message after looking up D.L. Walker on IMDB, but I wouldn’t get it if I just watched Saturday’s Warrior, which is a show that has been shown to so many LDS youngsters. In that show, Walker’s character is made to be the unattractive fool who “can’t know about love”, even though a thinking person would know that’s not necessarily true. In fact, while everyone else in this production seems to have pretty light resumes on IMDB, the “fat guy” with personality appears to have enjoyed a pretty good show biz career. He’s also been married three times. I guess he’s needed a couple of tries to find the woman he was destined to be with since the pre-existence.

One of my Facebook friends, who did attend the LDS church for a few years as a young woman, nicely summed things up. We were discussing the message of this movie, which she didn’t see when she was an active churchgoer. She wrote:

You have to have been indoctrinated. It’s for Mormons. Don’t have non-Mormon friends, don’t smoke cigarettes, don’t experience life; just stay in our dumb cult and make more Mormons. If you want to do anything else, you are very bad and will surely be unhappy. Being a total weirdo is fun! P.S. We’re not weird.

Yes… I think she’s absolutely right. To a lot of us who aren’t from a heavily Mormon area, this does come off as pretty weird. And, at least to me, it comes off as superficial, childish, and silly. I know, for instance, that there are millions of people in the world. Many, but not all, believe in a God of some sort. But to watch this movie, and listen to the opening dialogues, you come away with the idea that only the best people end up in Utah, where they will be raised LDS, and spend their lives searching for the perfect heterosexual, white mate, and their beliefs will be Mormon styled Christian. They are predestined to have a certain number of children, and their decisions in life will lead to exactly what the Mormon God intended them to be.

If you think about it, it’s kind of a lazy way to go through life. It’s as if there’s a blueprint for reaching the highest level of Heaven. Follow the steps toward righteousness, and someday, you’ll be in the Celestial Kingdom, which to me, seems like it would be a very boring place. After all, most everyone would be white, Mormon, and worried so very much about their looks before they get born again, and then spend their lives looking for the same people they knew in another life. I may need to stop and ponder that a bit.

If you assume that there’s a big plan, and God has made a plan for every single being on Earth, even if they aren’t members of the LDS church, it seems even more far fetched. But Mormons are often advised to “doubt their doubts” and “put any troubling thoughts on the shelf.” Hell, there’s even a brilliant song about that concept in the Book of Mormon Musical, which again, I think, took some inspiration from Saturday’s Warrior.

“Turn It Off”… like a light switch. It’s actually kind of a sad song.

Actually, when I think about all of the stories I’ve read over the years about the damage caused by “denying” thoughts and feelings, the song “Turn It Off” really seems sad to me. How many terrible marriages happened because people denied their feelings? How many people suppressed their feelings of sadness and anger, only to have it turn into catastrophic depression and anxiety years later? How many people have actually killed themselves because they couldn’t bring themselves to deal with their truths? This isn’t just a Mormon thing, though. It’s something that many people go through in life. They feel pressured to quash their thoughts and feelings and just believe, no matter how ridiculous, upsetting, or profoundly unbelievable something is. I think it wastes a lot of time and energy, and I think strict, culty belief systems, like Mormonism, make that phenomenon even worse than it has to be.

I know a lot of people love being Mormon. Or, so they will insist if you ask them, or if they’re missionaries. But I know, having hung out on RfM for so many years, that if you don’t fit the profile in that group, it really can be hell. There’s a real emphasis on looking happy and presenting the right image. Look at the Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell case. I recently wrote a review of The Doomsday Mother, a book about that tragedy, in which a lot of people died, mainly over illusions, delusions, and image… not to mention mental illness. I also watched a Dateline episode about that case.

I couldn’t help but notice Lori Vallow Daybell’s emphasis on looks. She entered beauty pageants, for instance. One of her friends was interviewed, and I couldn’t help but notice that her friend was extremely well groomed and even looked like perhaps she’d had some plastic surgery. She definitely had coiffed hair and wore a lot of makeup. Yes, that would be expected of someone on television, but I got the sense that this was a normal thing for Lori and her friends, all of whom were very much into Mormonism. Lori has been married five times. So much for finding “the one”.

I think if I had been raised Mormon, I probably would have been considered a (not so) “sweet spirit”. I know that people have thought of me that way even outside of an image conscious organization like Mormonism. Growing up, watching my sisters, cousins, and friends date a lot, while I spent weekends alone, was hard for me. And yet, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the pressures that come from being really “pretty” and desirable to men. Years beyond adolescence, I realize that there’s a lot more to me that the exterior. Those who get to know me eventually find that out. Some people like it. Many others don’t, but the ones who like it are almost always excellent people. Also, as most people find out, I’m not actually a very “sweet” person. I can be grumpy, opinionated, and temperamental. I think I’m basically kind, deep down– but sweet, I definitely ain’t. And I am not good at faking it. Many of the people who do end up liking me have told me they like me because I’m not fake. But not everyone appreciates “au natural” me, and most people don’t take the time to consider why I am the way I am. They have enough of their own shit to figure out. 😉

Maybe it’s better that I’m not extremely well liked or admired. It takes a lot of pressure off, and I don’t have to waste my time with fake people. Because seriously… have you ever considered what a burden it is to be really physically attractive to others? You’re always attracting people who are likewise attractive, and more than a few of them turn out to be boring, entitled, and narcissistic. If you’re a nice person, you’re always turning down people who find you attractive and interesting, but perhaps you don’t have the same feelings for them. And maybe you’ll even attract sociopaths, who only look good on the surface, but deep down they’re creeps. I think of guys like Scott Peterson, who, no doubt, had plenty of women who wanted to date him. Laci Peterson may have seemed lucky when they married, but it turns out she was not lucky at all. Same goes for anyone who thought Lori Vallow Daybell was a hottie.

Anyway… I guess it’s not a bad thing that I watched Saturday’s Warrior. It did teach me some things, although maybe not what the creators had wanted to teach. I guess I’m just grateful that I’m not burdened by that kind of a belief system. I would imagine that it adds a lot of unnecessary stress and strife to life, and life is hard enough as it is. Having to worry about the exterior so much, as I follow the many rules of a very demanding religion, is not very appealing. And while the idea of a close and loving family is lovely, there is a downside to having that kind of a family. For one thing, that kind of connection makes it harder to go out and live life on one’s own terms.

I told my mother the other day that I didn’t know when, or even if, I would move back to the States. She sounded slightly sad, since she will be 84 years old this year, and she probably wonders if we’ll ever see each other again in person. But we have never had a very close relationship, and I am not close to my sisters. If I did live closer to home, I doubt we’d be any closer. And it would be easier to be caught up in conflicts and manipulations, too. I know this from personal experience. So, while I would like to be closer to family other than Bill, I also realize that not being closer is kind of a blessing in some ways. There are certainly fewer fights and petty dramas to contend with. I don’t have the time or the energy for that anymore. I’ve realized that eventually, we all mostly end up alone… or we are the ones who die first. Who wants to spend life worrying about not being a “sweet spirit”?

So I guess it’s time to end this post and get on with my Friday. I hope this post offers food for thought.

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