At the end of yesterday’s post, I shared two videos by Mr. Atheist. On those videos, Jimmy Snow, aka Mr. Atheist, reacted to videos put out by anti-abortion activist, Kristan Hawkins. I watched the videos and cringed pretty hard. I thought maybe I would offer my own thoughts on them today, but I think that maybe I’ll postpone that plan. I had written I would comment on them if people were interested. It seems that no one was… or, at least no one is at this point in time. And frankly, I just don’t feel like writing about Kristan Hawkins today. I don’t think I can stomach listening to her talk about why abortions should be outlawed in all cases. Besides, Jimmy already does a pretty good job of explaining why Kristan’s opinions are wrong.
Nope. Today, I think I’d rather write about the book I’m reading right now. I’m finding it much more compelling than I did my previous book, The Case for Heaven, which really didn’t interest me much at all. I was glad to finish Lee Strobel’s book about what comes after death. I moved on to my favorite type of book– a celebrity memoir. I’m currently reading Jennette McCurdy’s new book, I’m Glad My Mom Died. The title alone is very compelling, isn’t it? You just KNOW there’s gonna be a trainwreck.
I’m not quite ready to review this book yet, as I’m only about halfway through it. What I will say for now is that Jennette McCurdy’s story reminds me a little of Melissa Francis’s book, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir. Melissa Francis is, of course, much older than Jennette McCurdy is, but the two have a lot in common. They both suffered stage mothers from hell. Both were actresses, not necessarily because they wanted to be, but because their mothers wanted them to be. Both suffered extreme abuse on all levels. I think Melissa’s mom was more sadistic, while Jennette’s mom was more manipulative and emotionally abusive. Also, to my knowledge, Melissa’s mom is still living, while Jennette’s mom succumbed to breast cancer in 2013.
Before I bought her book, I didn’t even know who Jennette McCurdy is. I’m well beyond the years of watching new Nickelodeon shows– not that the show she was famous for is all that new anymore. Jennette was on iCarly, but she also did guest roles on other shows, commercials, and other stuff. McCurdy’s story is also interesting to me because, besides being raised LDS, she also had problems with eating disorders (which her mother enthusiastically encouraged), anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The chapters are very short, so even though I’m only halfway through the book, I’ve already gotten to chapter 44 or so. And each chapter is more shocking than the last, as McCurdy shares the sheer nuttiness of her mother, the craziness of being a child actress, her mental health issues, and the religion aspect that complicates everything. The crazy thing is, she NEVER even wanted to be an actress. She just happens to have a talent for acting, and her narcissistic mother exploited it to the hilt.
I have never been LDS myself, but Bill was LDS for awhile. His daughter is still a very active church member, and the LDS church– which was Ex’s idea– has had an impact on my life. I know a lot about the church, its practices, and what its members believe. However, I have never been a member, nor would I ever be one. McCurdy seems to have gotten a lot of comfort from church when she was growing up. I relate to that, because I know Bill’s daughter has also gotten comfort from the church when things were especially crazy as she was growing up. In some ways, I also see a lot of similarities between the way Ex behaves, and the way Jennette’s mother did. She is extremely manipulative, possessive, controlling, and just plain weird. But I’ll get more into that when I review the book, which at the rate I’m going, should be within the next few days. I’m finding the book a real page turner, but in kind of a trainwreck sort of way. I’m simultaneously fascinated by the story and horrified by what this poor young woman had to cope with when she was a child.
I know some people will take issue with the title… It sounds horrible. However, I can totally understand why she used that title. Her mother sounds like she was true nightmare to have to deal with. For just an example– imagine your mother sending you dozens of emails, text messages, and voice messages after she’s seen pictures of you on TMZ, taken by a paparazzo. You are an adult, in Hawaii with your boyfriend, but you feel you have to lie to your mother about where you are. You come up with a ruse to trick her, only to have it foiled by a photographer, hungry for a sale. Your mom sends you all manner of abuse, accusing you of giving her cancer, bringing her shame, and calling you things like “filthy whore” and “all used up”. Then, as she signs off with “love”, she adds a P.S.– “Please send money for a fridge. Ours broke, and the yogurt is going sour.”
Imagine your mother explaining how to engage in eating disordered behaviors when you’re still a child, in the midst of becoming a woman. Imagine being fourteen years old and still sitting in a booster seat in the car. Imagine your mother insisting on showering you when you’re sixteen, sometimes also with your brother; her excuse is that she’s a former beautician and wants to make sure you wash your hair “correctly”, so it will impress a casting director. Imagine your mom using your money to pay the mortgage, and being forced to sleep on a mat in the dining room, because the bed you purchased for yourself is covered in your mother’s miscellaneous crap.
I know that Melissa Francis and Jennette McCurdy aren’t the only ones with stage mothers from hell. Wil Wheaton has also spoken openly about his own abusive, money hungry, fame whoring parents, who forced him to act when he didn’t want to do it. I’ll probably read his book next, since it’s been in the queue for awhile, and it will probably dovetail nicely with I’m Glad My Mom Died. I love a good tell all memoir, especially when it involves questionable parenting. Shirley MacLaine’s daughter, Sachi Parker, wrote a pretty good one some years ago. It seems the kids who grew up in show business had it the worst, especially in the days before child welfare advocacy was less of a thing than it is today. If a parent was also a celebrity, then the chances for massive dysfunction go up exponentially. Christina Crawford started it when she wrote Mommie Dearest, but there have been some real whoppers since her book was published in 1978. Gary Crosby wrote a pretty shocking book, too.
Anyway… I am looking forward to finishing the book and writing a review of it. I think it will be interesting on many levels to several of my regular readers, as well as new ones who haven’t found my blog yet. So stay tuned. I’ll sign off now and get back to reading.
Today I reposted a 2017 era article from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife blog. That post was written in a time of blissful ignorance of what awaited the world just three years later. In 2017, I was inspired by reading about young people who were critically ill and forced to accept medical care decisions thrust upon them by older people. Most of the cases of the youngsters in that post suffered from cancers of some kind, but a couple of them had other medical problems.
In several cases, the young patients’ parents were religious or wanted to try a more “natural” approach to healthcare. The parents were taken to task by medical professionals who wanted to override their decisions. In one case, the patient was a 17 year old young man who was deemed mature. He didn’t like the chemotherapy that was prescribed to treat his Hodgkin’s Disease, so he tried to refuse it. Doctors sought to force submission by legal means. In the end, the young man’s case was the inspiration for “Abraham’s Law” in Virginia, which allows older teenagers and their parents to refuse medical care or choose alternative therapies.
It amazes me now to read about these controversial cases involving young people, especially given that COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar at the time. Nowadays, the term “medical freedom” is a hot topic, as people fight over whether or not vaccinations against the coronavirus should be mandatory for all who can safely take it. On one hand, there’s a group of people who want to be able to make all medical and healthcare choices for themselves, although a lot of the people in the anti-vaccine group curiously draw the line at abortions for other people. On the other hand, there’s a large group of people who fear the rapidly spreading COVID virus that has, so far, killed over 650,000 Americans and well over four million people worldwide. That group believes that people should be required to get vaccinated.
Although I am all for vaccination and I do believe that the vaccines are saving lives, there is a part of me that empathizes with those who don’t want to be forced to take it. I don’t think it’s smart to skip the vaccines. Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the vaccines seem to be mostly based on misinformation and conspiracy theories. A lot of people worry that there will be terrible side effects to the vaccines. Or they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy whose balls shriveled up and fell off after the first shot. Personally, I think those arguments are pretty lame. But I also genuinely don’t like the idea of forcing people to do things. I wish those kinds of rules weren’t necessary, and more people would cooperate simply because it’s the right thing to do.
And I’ve also read about many conservative radio talk show hosts who have either gotten very sick from COVID or have actually died. There was a news story just this morning about a conservative talk show host named Bob Enyart, who had spread false information about COVID-19. He got sick and died. Enyart was vehemently against vaccine and mask mandates, and last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches. Enyart was all about making choices for his own health, but as a very vocal opponent of abortion, he apparently didn’t mind making healthcare choices for other people.
Curiously enough, Enyart was a Christian pastor, and he once gleefully read the names and obituaries of people who had died of AIDS while he played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. What a charming man… huh? As Mr. Enyart was the 5th conservative radio talk show host to die of COVID in the past six weeks, perhaps the Queen song is appropriate theme for him and his ilk.
This morning, I ran across an interesting thread in the Duggar Family News Group. Someone, yet again, compared the COVID vaccine and mask mandates to seatbelt laws.
I have mentioned before that I don’t think the COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates are the same as seatbelt laws. I mean, yes, I can see how people would make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s a very accurate one. When I was a child, I hated seatbelts and would only wear them if I was forced to… and generally that only happened when my dad was feeling controlling. In those days, a lot of people didn’t wear seatbelts. They weren’t as comfortable as they are today. Thankfully, as time has passed, the technology behind them has improved. I doubt we will ever be rid of the damned things. In any case, seatbelts are kind of different from masks and vaccines, as they don’t involve being injected into someone’s body, nor do they impact normal living and communicating as much as face masks do. You only wear them in the car. They don’t interfere with speaking, hearing, seeing, eating, or breathing.
And before anyone tries to tell me that masks don’t impede breathing, let me just stop you right there. I know they don’t. But some people do find wearing them oppressive, and the anxiety that comes from that might impede breathing. There are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason… not too many, I will admit, but there are some. Likewise, some people can’t wear seatbelts for whatever reason. A lot of times, the reason has to do with being very obese, but sometimes it’s because of an injury or an occupation.
The point is, I don’t think seatbelts will ever go away. However, many of us hope the masks will go away, if and when the pandemic ends. Personally, I don’t see the pandemic ending happening unless a lot more people get vaccinated. But even though I think vaccines are an excellent idea and I would strongly encourage people to get the shot(s), I also feel uncomfortable with government mandates on things like medical care. Because, there are people who can’t or shouldn’t get vaccinations, for whatever reason. I also understand that some people are genuinely concerned about government overreach. Their concern isn’t entirely unfounded, although some of the arguments I’ve read are pretty ridiculous.
One thing I don’t think is helpful, though, is being rude and insulting to those who disagree. I don’t like the dogpile approach to trying to change minds, either. The above photo was shared in the Duggar Family News group, and it did invite contention. One woman posted this:
I remember when this page was about snarking on fundamentalist Christian families on television rather than promoting the divide of human kind based on personal choices they make for what they put in their own bodies.
That comment led to this response…
The original poster was offended by the image. She expressed her dismay that a total stranger would wish death on her. Then, a big, long thread of comments ensued, with the vast majority of people name-calling, hurling insults, being sarcastic, and typing “all knowing” responses at the original poster. Her response, rather than being convinced, was to dig in her heels and respond in kind. Then, she either got booted from the group, or left on her own accord.
So… what exactly was accomplished by this contentious exchange? Not much, that I can see. I think a more respectful and friendly dialogue might have done more to foster group harmony. Maybe no one’s mind would have changed, but at least there would be listening and constructive communication going on, rather than flaming and hair flip rage exits. No matter what, I don’t think it’s appropriate to wish death on people simply because they disagree with you. On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment and the frustration behind such responses. I will also admit to occasionally being a hypocrite when I get pushed too far. I’m human, after all. I do try not to start out with abuse and insults, though.
I have never liked “nannyism”, especially in laws. However, I understand why “nanny” laws are often necessary. Many people, when left to their own devices, will not do things that are in their own or the public’s best interests. I have always hated wearing seatbelts myself, but I do understand why they’re necessary. I also have a husband who will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t wear one. So I do comply with that rule.
Even though I fucking hate face masks, I comply with that rule, too. However, I hope someday it will no longer be necessary. And I had no issues whatsoever with getting vaccinated against COVID, because as a student of public health, I know the theories behind vaccines and have seen concrete evidence that most of them work. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to learning new information, nor does it mean I’m not aware of potential risks from certain vaccines.
Below is advice given to people during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I agree with most of it, although I don’t think it matters whether or not someone “obeys cheerfully”, as long as they are compliant.
My late beagle, Zane, was a prime example of a dog who didn’t do well with vaccines. He had mast cell cancer (immune system cancer) that eventually progressed to lymphoma. He was allergic to at least one vaccination, and would get tumors when he had others. I actually think some people over-vaccinate their pets, and some of the encouragement to vaccinate is due to the revenue vaccines generate. Dogs with mast cell tumors should not get any unnecessary vaccines. I’m a little concerned about Arran, because he is due for a rabies shot next month, and the rabies shots can stimulate mast cell tumors. Arran has also had mast cell tumors, though not to the same severity Zane had. Because of Zane, I have some sympathy for people who are against vaccines, even though I think their reasoning is wrong in most instances. We don’t vaccinate people like we do pets, anyway. We certainly don’t get as many shots as they do.
Although I do believe in vaccine efficacy, I am not one to run out and demand the latest and greatest shots, nor do I get every vaccine available. For instance, I’ve never in my life had a flu shot. I would get them if I spent more time around other people, though. COVID-19 is different, at least right now. There’s hope that the virus will eventually weaken and become less dangerous, as flu mostly did. But at this point, it’s not getting better. Many people are getting sick and dying, and from what I’ve read, COVID-19 is a pretty nasty way to go.
I do think sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves and each other from those who lack insight, perspective, and wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that people should be free to make choices, whenever possible. Either way, medical freedom doesn’t do a damned bit of good to anyone who is dead. So I do hope that those who are against vaccines will wise up and get with the program. I understand wanting to wait and see how other people do with the shots, but time is running out… I have read too many sad stories about people who waited too long and got sick. There are too many stories about orphaned children, and bereaved spouses, siblings, and parents. And too many people are becoming downright mean and NASTY toward total strangers. I wish we’d all remember that when it comes down to it, we’re in a community. And being in a healthy community requires compassion, responsibility, and solidarity.
That being said… sometimes people DO need protection from crazy beliefs. Case in point, an old Mr. Atheist video I came across yesterday. Religion and politics make people do stupid things, even to their children. So while I am mindful of the so-called slippery slope when it comes to government overreach, I also think some people need to be saved from “freedumb” ideas.
I have a YouTube channel, but I don’t use it to make a name for myself. It started as a place for me to deposit raw videos from my travels. Now, I use it for travel or dog related videos I put in blog posts or when I feel like trying a song. Usually, when I record a song, I do it on SingSnap, since a lot of the ones I want to do are available there. It’s easy to record a song on SingSnap, but there are some drawbacks. The sound quality isn’t typically as good. I’m recording on the Internet, so that can affect syncing and background noise. SingSnap also got a new recorder, which I’m finding to be pretty wonky. However, in terms of ease and just trying stuff, SingSnap is good.
Sometimes, I make YouTube videos for music because I want to have something sharable. I’ve also found some interesting people on YouTube and, at least in the past, I could collaborate with some of them. I have no illusions of becoming a YouTube star, though. In fact, I don’t really promote my channel, nor do I post a lot of content. I have 79 subscribers at this writing. I’m not unhappy about that. I am primarily a writer, not a YouTube personality.
There was a time several years ago when I thought I’d like to expand my “audience”. I got a taste of what that can be like. I realized that when you put yourself out there, you can run into some real snakes. An encounter with a “real snake” is one reason why I moved my blog to WordPress. I don’t like drama. I just like to articulate my thoughts, and I tend to be very honest about how I feel. Some people like it. Others don’t.
Why is this subject coming up today? It’s because I’m sitting here listening to Jimmy Snow, a popular YouTube personality who has been going through some major YouTube drama right now. Some people know him as “Mr. Atheist”. I like his channel, although he has recently changed formats, which I don’t like as much. But still, I find him clever and interesting, and sometimes he’s pretty funny, too. Lately, Jimmy has gotten into some kind of disagreement with two women over someone’s book of poetry that was poorly reviewed. Somehow, Jimmy got into the middle of this and it’s turned into a huge drama. I’m not going to try to explain it, because I can’t. But I’ve seen sooo many videos about this drama, and it’s all culminated in the one I’m watching right now.
I don’t really know what this is all about. I’m not sure exactly why a negative book review has turned into such a huge deal. I’ve seen several videos by other YouTube personalities who have commented on this. Some have said some bad things about Jimmy Snow. Maybe, for some people, it’s personal. Maybe they’re involved in the drama themselves. I suspect, however, that some folks are making these videos for views and money. It strikes me as kind of tasteless and needlessly dramatic. I listen to Jimmy talk about this– he’s obviously upset and stressed out. It seems kind of pointless… and it reminds me that there’s a downside to being popular.
For the record, I still like Jimmy. I even like his new format somewhat, although I preferred his Mr. Atheist stuff a bit more. When I listen to him speak in the above video, I hear someone who really is hurt and distressed by what’s happened. He sounds sincere to me, although again, I don’t know him personally. I just find his show entertaining and sometimes funny. I don’t like to see people in distress… but listening to him talk about this situation makes me realize that I’m happier as an obscure blogger. I remember how I felt when it seemed like people were stalking and spying on me, trying to stir up shit. I definitely don’t like it.
Jimmy Snow isn’t the only one who’s been getting dragged lately. Katie Joy Paulsen, of Without a Crystal Ball, also seems to have a lot of enemies. Katie Joy does a lot of videos about the Duggars, and she’s pretty popular. I do watch her videos sometimes, having gotten hooked on them when Bill was TDY for weeks. I’ve seen many people posting about her, making allegations that she lies and threatens people.
Katie Joy has made videos addressing the critics. She says she’s had CPS called on her, as well as multiple visits from the police over videos she makes. She’s even said she’s had dealings with the FBI due to death threats. Obviously, like Jimmy Snow, she makes money on these videos. But she’s also been sued over her commentary. Believe me… I am not interested in that kind of notoriety myself. I don’t know Katie Joy personally, so I’m not involved in her drama. But other people sure are.
This guy, Road Hog, has been posting all kinds of videos about Katie Joy. He calls her a liar and takes great pains to find falsehoods in what she says and does. It’s creepy and weird. I don’t know if what he says is true. He’s not the only one I’ve seen criticizing Katie Joy. I wonder if part of it is an attempt to score viewers and cash from monetization, or if he’s just on a quest to “uncover” a scandal. I just know that dealing with this kind of shit doesn’t appeal to me at all.
I notice that the more followers a person has, the more likely he or she is going to have to deal with strife. I write because it brings me pleasure. I find it liberating to put my thoughts down. I like sharing these thoughts with others, especially when they enjoy or even learn from my observations. But I am not interested in the kind of stress people like Jimmy Snow and Katie Joy are enduring, especially when it’s clear that making YouTube videos is their job. Jimmy has said that he has an actual “staff” who depend on him for their livelihoods. So when people start turning on him, it doesn’t just affect him.
My YouTube channel is pretty boring and non-controversial. In fact, last year I even stopped doing collaborations with a YouTuber because he reacted very negatively to a relatively innocuous comment I made on one of his videos. I decided I didn’t need that kind of drama in my life, so I unsubscribed. He didn’t seem to take that well, and he actually came to my channel and deleted every single comment he’d ever left on my videos within about eight years. That, to me, is pretty telling, and definitely weird. It’s a sign that I was right to back away from him.
The other main reason why I don’t try to make a name for myself on YouTube is that I don’t like being on camera. I don’t want to put on makeup, fix my hair, or wear a bra. I have an okay speaking voice, but I get very self-conscious on camera. The Zoom meeting I attended last week was enough video exposure for me. I don’t even use the camera when I make SingSnap videos.
So I am content to write this stuff on my personal space, on a fairly under the radar blog. I let the people who want to find me, find me… and enjoy relative privacy. I don’t know what I think about Jimmy or Katie Joy and whether or not these dramas are justified. I just watch their channels to kill time. There’s a downside to popularity, and I’m too old and cranky to deal with it.
This morning, I noticed that The Atlantic was rerunning an article about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I read the article the first time it ran, back in January, so I didn’t read it again this morning. Instead, I went directly to the Facebook comments. Many people posted that the LDS church is a cult. I happen to agree that it’s a cult. If you go by the strict definition of a cult, Mormonism fits nicely. According to Dictionary.com, the noun usage of “cult” is defined:
a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
the object of such devotion.
a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
I notice that there’s nothing really negative implied by this definition. In fact, based on the dictionary’s definition, just about any religious group could be called a cult. But many Americans see the term “cult” as negative, so when a group is called a “cult”, some people become defensive. Such was the case this morning, when an obviously LDS church member took on the many people who were calling the LDS church a cult. I chuckled to myself when I came across this exchange:
I thought about responding to him, since the original poster hadn’t. I was going to ask, “Are you sure you want us to spell it out for you?” Because again, if you look at the official definition of a cult, Mormonism and most other religious groups fit quite nicely. But Mormonism also fits nicely under the more sinister meaning of a cult as it’s defined by famed cult expert, Rick Ross. In a 2009 article published by The Guardian, Ross explicitly spells out the “tell tale” signs of a cult . He quotes psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who taught at Harvard Medical School and wrote a paper titled Cult Formation back in the early 1980s. Below are the three main characteristics of cults, according to Lifton.
1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power. That is a living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority.
2.A process [of indoctrination or education is in use that can be seen as] coercive persuasion or thought reform [commonly called “brainwashing”].
The culmination of this process can be seen by members of the group often doing things that are not in their own best interest, but consistently in the best interest of the group and its leader.
3.Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.
Ross goes on to provide a list of ten signs of an “unsafe” group or leader:
Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.
Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.
Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
The group/leader is always right.
The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
As I look at this list, and consider what my husband experienced when he left the LDS church, as well as many of the other stories of what people who have left Mormonism have gone through, I recognize a lot of the signs. The LDS church has a “living prophet”. Right now, the prophet is Russell M. Nelson, who is 96 years old. True believing Mormons consider Nelson to have the ability to receive special revelations from God, although they do realize that prophets are human and sometimes speak “as men”. In other words, the prophet is only a prophet when acting as such, which provides a convenient explanation when a prophet says or does something that is distinctly un-Godly.
People who are in the church but question it are often told to “put it on the shelf” or “doubt their doubts”, meaning that they shouldn’t think critically or worry about any niggling thoughts they have as to whether or not the church is true. Members who are too vocal about their doubts will surely be called in to talk to the Bishop, at the very least. They are not encouraged to talk about their concerns with friends or family, especially if those people are also church members. And every member has home and visiting teachers– church members who come by other members’ homes to teach them a “lesson” or have a look at the books and movies on display in a person’s home… or maybe check to see if there’s a coffee maker.
Drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol, you see, is forbidden. So is the use of tobacco or recreational drugs. Mormons are very scared of “addictions” and many believe that ANY use of a forbidden substance, masturbation, or viewing pornography is a full on addiction. My husband’s younger daughter, at age nine, visited us ONCE. She saw two beers in our refrigerator and actually slapped Bill across the face for having them. She even called him a drunk. It was quite a shock for me to see that, since I actually was raised by a drunk. And I can tell you that Bill isn’t an alcoholic (thank GOD). But he does like to drink alcohol.
I don’t have much to write about the church’s financial dealings, other than to state that the church invests in a lot of businesses. Members are expected to tithe ten percent of their gross income, and every year, there is a “tithing settlement” meeting with the Bishop. If members don’t pay a full tithe and follow the rest of the rules, they can lose their “temple recommend”, an actual ID card that allows believers to visit temples, where they put on weird clothes and go through religious ordinances sometimes involving films. This might not be a big deal, except that most faithful Mormons get married in temples, so if you don’t have a current recommend, it might mean you’ll miss a family member’s nuptials. Recently, the church was in the news for misleading members about how donations were potentially being misused.
Bill stayed an active member for several years after he and his ex wife converted. Part of the reason he stayed in the church was because it was used as a tool to keep him in line. He was afraid that if he resigned from the church, he would lose contact with his children. That did end up happening, although it was happening before he finally resigned. Many people told him that resigning would lead him to ruin, although as you can see, his life only improved exponentially after he got divorced and quit the church. An added bonus was that he no longer had to wear the underwear with special symbols on it. If dictating to members what kind of underwear they wear isn’t the sign of a cult, I don’t know what is. And members will often “garment check” other members, checking to see the telltale signs that a person is wearing the proper underwear and is dressed “modestly”.
Hang out on the Recovery from Mormonism board, and you will read many stories from former church members. Some of the stories are heartbreaking. Sadly, a number of people who used to post on that board are no longer with us. I can think of at least a couple of folks– bright, sensitive, intelligent, and talented people– who took their own lives because of church bullshit. Many times, it’s because they were homosexual and their families couldn’t accept that and disowned them, but other times it’s because they don’t believe anymore, and their families rejected them. There is one frequent poster who has had many problems with his family because he doesn’t believe and won’t conform. Yes, he could go through the motions in order to keep the peace, but why should he have to do that? It’s not an authentic way to live, and it leads to misery.
The above video is just one of many similar stories about the lingering aftereffects of growing up Mormon. And a lot of people who are in the church will not explore other belief systems. Why not? Because it may shake their beliefs! They don’t want to hear anyone offer criticism about the church and will be very threatened by negative commentary about the church. But if the church is true, why does it matter what other people say? How can a testimony be shaken if church members are so certain the church is “true”? I have gotten many comments from offended Mormons about posts I’ve written. It always perplexes me, because if a person is that sure that they have the truth, nothing I write on a little visited blog should have any effect on them.
I personally don’t care what someone’s religious beliefs are… and, in recent years, I’ve become a lot less interested in Mormonism. I don’t write about it as much as I used to, mainly because Bill’s younger daughter, who is a devout Mormon, is finally speaking to him again. I no longer feel as much anger toward the church as I used to… although I still think the church is pretty culty. As Jimmy Snow points out in the above video, the church takes up a lot of time. Members are kept busy and invested– financially, emotionally, and literally, as young men are expected to go on two year missions, often in other countries. Young women can also go on missions, but it’s not expected of them the way it is for the men. And while plenty of people leave the LDS church after serving missions, it’s my guess that the mission experience is likely to bind people to the religion.
I have also noticed that a lot of members don’t actually know that much about their church’s history… or they only know the whitewashed version taught by the church’s leaders. For instance, they don’t dwell on the fact that Joseph Smith had a habit of marrying girls as young as fourteen or the wives of men who were sent away. Church members will explain that we shouldn’t judge Joseph Smith by today’s standards. But what about the wives of other men that Smith married? Many modern Mormons are descended from polygamists, although mainstream Mormons don’t practice polygamy anymore. It is still practiced among FLDS (fundamentalist) Mormons. Fundamentalist Mormons claim that their version of Mormonism is the “truest” one, since plural marriage is still practiced.
That all being said… the LDS church is not unlike a lot of religious groups that fit into the “cult” definition. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Scientologists, members of The Way International, and any number of other belief systems that are unlike more mainstream faiths. And, in fact, most churches are culty. I have some respect for Catholicism, but it’s a pretty culty belief system, too.
I could have spelled all of this out for the guy on The Atlantic’s Facebook page, but I figure other people with more patience and energy can take it up with him. What matters to me is what I believe, and I doubt I could change the guy’s mind, anyway. His beliefs don’t affect me personally, and if he’s happy as a Mormon, good on him. But I see that the longer the post is up on the page, the more arguments ensue. Some active church members are bound and determined to defend the faith, and they resort to lectures and insults to get their points across. Again, I see that as a waste of energy, since most people aren’t going to be receptive to changing their minds when someone berates them. Calling someone a “bigot” is unlikely to inspire them to hear what you have to say, right? I know I’m rarely interested in listening to someone who chastises and namecalls.
Anyway… here’s another video by Jimmy Snow. Again, he’s a great source for information about culty religious stuff– not just the Mormons, but other groups, too… as well as Republican wingnuts like Kaitlyn Bennett, the gun toting college grad who made the news a few years ago for posing with her weapon while wearing a cap and gown.
I’m hoping to get my second vaccine today, which may mean that I won’t feel like writing tomorrow. We’ll see what happens, but if there’s no post tomorrow, it’s probably because I’m bedridden.
Edited to add… Poster sunbeep on RFM has offered this entertaining parody of church membership…
Have you tried the new restaurant across town? Two nice young kids stopped by my house to tell me about it. They said the food was delicious to the taste and very desirable. I listened to them for a while and then they promised to come back and show me parts of the menu.
From what I hear, this isn’t just any old restaurant. This place is special and offers a fare that you simply can’t find anywhere else. You don’t need a reservation, but you do need to pass two oral exams. Once you have been recommended, you can go inside. After you have eaten here a few times, they will assign you a night and expect you to eat here on that night every week. Someone will even call you to see if you went.
This is not a cheap place to eat, in fact it’s rather expensive, but the rewards are out of this world and they promise you that you won’t be disappointed. Soon you will be asked to tell others about this place as the owners want all to receive it. Oh, one more thing; the patrons who eat here will also be asked to help clean it once a week. It’s only fair, you help dirty it, you help clean it.
If you eat here long enough, they will even let you be a server, a cook, a dishwasher, or maybe the bouncer to make sure nobody gets in who couldn’t pass the exams. One of the things that makes this place so special is that everyone is welcome and everyone pretends to love it. Isn’t that a marvelous work and a wonder?
One more thing, and this is verily important. What makes this place even more specialer than other eating places is that you don’t actually eat very much here. You come, you quietly sit, you pretend to enjoy the small morsel of bread and the tiny sip of water. But remember, you can only use your right hand to eat with. Then when your meal is over, you get to take a short nap while someone tells you stories about how blessed you are to find this restaurant.
If you eat here long enough you can even pay to send your children to third world countries to get intestinal parasites and malaria and tell far away peoples about this restaurant. There’s more, much much more, but we don’t want to confuse you with minor details. So, bring your checkbooks, credit cards, or hard earned cash, and dine at the one and only restaurant worthy of praise.
After a short training session with Noizy the wonder dog, I decided I wanted to relax with a little TV. I pay for Netflix every month, but I don’t watch it very often. I decided to see if there was anything on there I wanted to see. I think I did see a show about a month ago– it was British and kind of contrived, but entertaining in a pseudo American kind of way (however, I no longer remember the name of said show)…
I decided to try again with another show, called Doctor Foster (2015 and 2017). This show, which so far has had two series, is kind of loosely based on the Greek myth, Medea. It’s about a female doctor named Gemma Foster who suspects that her husband, Simon, is having an affair. What aroused her suspicions? A blonde hair on his scarf. Next thing you know, Gemma is losing her shit.
A patient comes to her complaining of not being able to sleep. Gemma doesn’t want to give her sleeping pills. But she soon realizes that she can trade the pills for a spy. She recruits the patient to spy on her husband. Sure enough, he’s fucking someone else… his business partner’s daughter, who is about 22 years old to Gemma’s 37.
I should mention that Gemma (played by Suranne Jones) is smoking hot. She’s tall, well-built, and dark, with brooding eyes and a willowy, fit figure. More than once, the men on the show mention how “hot” she is, “for her age”… Wow. But still, despite being a well-paid doctor who is smoking hot and the mother of Simon’s son, Tom, Gemma isn’t enough for her randy husband. Apparently, men are completely incapable of being faithful. Seriously, they literally say this in the show.
Anyway, Simon’s lover, name of Kate, is pregnant. Guess who breaks the news to her? Gemma… who has somehow managed to finagle a doctor switch, quickly figuring out that the guilty blonde is the pretty girl sitting in the waiting room. She has Kate take off her trousers and top, remarks on how “fit” Kate is, and draws blood and urine.
Now… all of this is a bit contrived for my liking, but I have to admit, it’s kind of addictive viewing. I like British TV because it’s about as trashy as a lot of American TV; I can understand what is being said; and the humor is often witty. But this series, which won awards, is pretty far-fetched and ridiculous. I still binge watched the whole first season yesterday and have seen a couple of the episodes of season 2 today. It beats reading the news and the comments, which apparently I “kill” myself over, according to a regular reader.
The other alternative, besides playing Sims 4, practicing guitar, working on my latest jigsaw puzzle, or writing fiction, is trying to read my latest book. For some reason, I usually fall asleep when I read, even when the subject matter is interesting. I didn’t used to do this. I think it’s partly because I don’t sleep through the night thanks to Bill’s early wake ups and because Germany is entering the cold, dark time of year that makes me want to hibernate. The book I’m reading is about hellish doctors during the Nazi era. It’s very interesting, well-written, and personal, since it comes from a woman who was a court reporter during the Nuremberg Trials. But I get through a few pages and drift off.
I am glad we have the new dog, though. He gives me a reason to go outside and work with him. He’s making strides. A few days ago, he was absolutely terrified of the leash, to the point of submissive peeing on himself just by seeing it. Today, I put it on him and brushed him thoroughly. I could tell he enjoyed the brushing, even if he didn’t like the leash. I think he likes the attention, and the brushing probably feels good to him. I’m sure it scratches the itches, so to speak. He needs to be brushed, though, because he’s shedding a lot and we’re not quite ready to try a bath.
I also got him to take some roast beef from my hand. This dog isn’t very food oriented at all, but he has learned that beef and pork are tasty. He wouldn’t take the treats on the leash, but happily enjoyed them after we were finished with our session. And he also sit twice on command, without my having to touch him. After two times, he was too overwhelmed to continue. But… this was another big leap. I put the leash on the outside table with the brush and shedding blade and I saw him sniff it. I hope that means he’s realizing the leash isn’t to punish him. Maybe soon, he will see the leash as a great thing, as Arran does. I look forward to taking them both on a walk.
And finally, this morning, I watched this video about Kanye West’s ridiculous presidential campaign. The man has clearly lost his marbles and needs to get back on his meds.
The mask crusaders continue on, trying to shame people into wearing masks. I really think it was a mistake to promote the idea that masks only protect other people. Even if that’s technically true, I think they should have been promoted more as a self-protective measure. I think people are more likely to cooperate if they think they’re doing something that is in their own self-interest.
Americans, by and large, are pretty selfish people. We’re big on individualism, personal freedoms, and pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We don’t want to be told what to do or lectured, even if mask wearing makes sense. I see so many people fighting with others about the stupid masks. Frankly, I think that’s a waste of time. Getting on a moral high horse doesn’t inspire cooperation, even if what you’re saying is “right”. Unfortunately, it’s going to take people getting very sick and scared before everyone is on the bandwagon.
As for me, I continue to stay home most of the time. I’m sure I’m not alone. When you stay home and watch bad TV, you don’t need a mask, nor do you hear a bunch of carping from other people. I’m sure that staying home isn’t what is best for the economy, but it is what is best for one’s health. Because even if you wear a mask, you can still get sick. Mask wearing just helps slow down the spread of the virus and keeps the hospitals from getting overwhelmed. On the other hand, I might wind up with other health problems from staying home.
This has definitely been a very ODD year. It’s going to be one of those years that changes everything, kind of like 9/11 did. I hope 2021 isn’t worse. I definitely relate to today’s featured photo. According to Ancestry.com, I come by that relation honestly.
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