In all of the excitement of Election Day, I forgot to mention that yesterday was significant for other reasons. Last night, Bill reminded me that it was the second anniversary of his father’s death. Because November 2020 was during the height of the COVID pandemic, we were not able to go back to the States for his funeral. Consequently, I think there’s a lot of “processing” that never got done, especially in Bill’s case. Yes, we were keeping an eye on the elections, but last night was more about remembering Bill’s dad, whom Bill loved dearly, but never got the chance to know as well as he should have.
For that reason, it was probably a good thing we weren’t able to see James Taylor. Bill got triggered, because he saw an email from Dignity– the bereavement service where people post obituaries– reminding him about his dad. He got very flustered and scatterbrained after seeing that reminder. Last night, he needed to debrief somewhat. If we’d been at the concert, that wouldn’t have happened. We still don’t know when the show will go on. ETA: November 19th…. So we will come home from France a day early.
We were also pretty tired last night, because Arran was restless on Tuesday morning and kept getting up in the wee hours of the morning for various reasons. He was not so bad last night. I think we only roused once during the night, although I was wide awake at 5:00am. Arran is now napping in his bed in my office, while I wait for the bed sheets to dry. Wednesdays are the days I usually wash them. It’s a pain to wash the sheets, but I always enjoy the rewards of clean, crisp linens on the bed. I look forward to an afternoon nap. 😉
I am disappointed that Greg Abbott won another term as Texas governor, although I am not at all surprised. Although there are many bright people who voted blue in the big Texas cities, there are lots of very rigid people living in rural areas who are so very sure that abortions are akin to murder. They don’t seem to care about the already born children of Uvalde who cowered in fear as their classmates and two teachers were slaughtered in front of them. It always amazes me that people want to demonize anyone who needs an abortion for ANY reason– including when they are going to lose their babies due to catastrophic medical events–but they still promote gun rights, even as CHILDREN are murdered in schools.
Ah well… Maybe it’s time I stopped caring about what happens in Texas, even though it’s my “home” state for now. I don’t live there, and at 50, I won’t be bleeding out because I need an abortion for medical reasons. I read three different horror stories within 24 hours about this happening to Texas women. They need medical help, and wind up in New York or Seattle or almost DEAD in Texas hospitals, because the vile and abhorrent Greg Abbott has made abortion pretty much illegal across the board.
I really think what’s going to have to happen to change things is that women are going to have to suffer and die to the extent that the public demands changes. That’s what it took to change things in Ireland, so that women were allowed to make choices about their own bodies. But maybe it’s not my fight. I’m tired of engaging with brain dead, uneducated idiots on this issue, who REFUSE to understand why completely banning abortion is so dangerous and wrong. Like I said, I’m 50… and I don’t have any children. And now, I’m glad about that.
I did try, yesterday, to remind people about this scary and important issue, as they were blaming Democrats for inflation (which isn’t controlled by specific government administrations). One woman accused me of “murdering” 63 million babies (uh… no), totally ignoring that I specifically addressed women who need abortion for HEALTH care reasons. The other accused me of “spreading misinformation”, because Planned Parenthood takes care of women in Texas (uh… no). I turned off notifications for that post and blocked the two idiots, as well as several others who were reminding me of why I’ve been so glad to live in Germany for eight years.
It saddens me that people in America are so rigid and blind, and they can’t even entertain an alternative viewpoint. But– here in our little Wiesbaden suburb, we have community events, complete with wine and lacking in firearms… and I don’t get treated badly for being “foreign”. In fact, Germans have been very welcoming to us, on the whole. Too bad people in the so-called “land of the free” aren’t like that toward people who aren’t citizens.
In other news, Peter Gabriel is going on tour. I almost ordered tickets yesterday, but the Frankfurt show is happening on June 13, a week before my birthday. Bill says he might have to be on a TDY that week. I don’t know that I want to shell out over 900 euros if there’s a chance he can’t go. Peter Gabriel is playing other venues in Europe, of course. It might be a good excuse to visit Cologne again, which is a very nice city and not too far from us. We had a great time there in 2019, when we went there to see the Eagles. Or we could go to Amsterdam and I can have some space cakes, like I did when I turned 43. Germany is now talking about legalizing marijuana, too… which would be great, as far as I’m concerned.
It would have been really nice to see Beto beat Abbott. I didn’t expect it to happen, though. And I see Ron DeSadist won in Florida, which also isn’t a surprise. But now, Trump is threatening him against running for president, because Trump is dying to get back in power so he can become a dictator. I hope the two of them eat each other alive. They are both dirty. And hey, although we’re still stuck with the disgusting Marjorie Taylor Greene, at least the repugnant Lauren Boebert was (probably) defeated. And so was Dr. Oz… so that’s a great thing. The news isn’t all bad…
Anyway, it’s Wednesday, so that means I can watch The Handmaid’s Tale season finale and The Crown. And since it’s a wet, rainy day, it may be perfect for finishing my book and binge watching Netflix… if I don’t fall asleep, that is. So I think I’ll end here, practice guitar, and maybe take a short walk with the dogs… and get on with rotting what’s left of my brain with some television.
Oh, and before I forget… I dedicate this song to Greg Abbott and every Texan who voted for him… (even though I bet Weird Wilbur voted red, if he managed to stagger to the polls…)
The featured photo comes from Wikipedia and references a popular slogan that tough talking Texans like to bandy around about their (or should I say *my* state)… but Bill tells me it was actually an 80s era slogan they used to discourage littering. This post is full of cussing, so if you don’t like that, you know what to do and where to go… preferably not to Texas.
Yesterday, there was an article in The New York Times about Europe’s current heat wave, which I’m sadly enduring here in Germany. A woman went to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, and offered tips on how she stayed cool during her trip. I decided to leave a comment. I will admit, I knew on some level that my comment would probably attract trolls and other assholes, because most comments somehow do… but I decided to leave it anyway, because why not?
My comment was that I live in Germany and I’m so tired of the heat and the drought conditions here. But, “at least I’m not in Texas.” That was ALL I posted. I made no mention of politics. I didn’t bring up the lack of abortion rights in Texas, or any of the other anti-woman or racist policies and attitudes that are so prevalent there. I didn’t post about the crappy power grid and how it failed many Texans during the winter of 2021, causing people to die earlier than they should have. I had no words about the religious fanatics who want to impose their ways of life on the whole population and control everybody. And I wrote nary a word about all the ammosexuals in Texas. All I wrote is “at least I’m not in Texas.”
At this writing, my comment has well over 125 likes, which is unusual for me. It’s also attracted comments from jerks. Or, so I assume, anyway. I only bothered to read one comment, from a guy calling himself “Jay Smith” and claiming to be living in Istanbul, Turkey. He basically made some crack about how Texas isn’t my problem, and I should just enjoy Germany. There was more to it than that, but I’m not going to quote it verbatim, because I don’t want to read it again or see anyone else’s rude responses. The main idea is that I should STFU.
So I responded that while I live in Germany, I am, in fact, a Texas resident, and I still vote there. So Texas actually IS my problem… and I can comment on Texas if I want to (which I’d be allowed to do regardless, as a *still free* person). Then I advised him to fuck off, which I normally wouldn’t do on a Facebook page for a newspaper. What can I say? The heat is making me CRANKY. My house is warm all the time, even when I use the portable air conditioners– which are helpful, but only cool individual rooms. The grass in the backyard is brown and crispy. I sweat all the time. I know that very soon the weather will change, and it will be glorious… but for now, it’s pretty yucky here.
I wonder what made that guy decide to leave me that comment. It genuinely fascinates me. My guess is that he’s probably some right wing turd in a red state– perhaps Texas itself– and he can’t abide anyone making the slightest negative crack about the beloved Lone Star State. Especially when it’s an apparently “liberal” (horrors!) woman who lives in another country. But there’s actually a lot to dislike about Texas, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t necessarily hate Texas when I lived there for a year, but it’s gotten really weird and dystopian since I left. There were some things I didn’t like about it when I did live there, but I didn’t see it as weird-o-rama as I do now. Ever since Greg Abbott became governor, it’s gone down a very dark and climate challenged road. I sure as hell don’t want to move back, especially if Beto doesn’t win the governor’s seat from Greg Abbott.
But, like I said, I didn’t actually write anything bad about Texas. I just posted that at least I’m not in Texas. For all Jay Smith knows, I was simply posting about the weather there in August. And, in fact, that’s literally what I had in mind when I made my comment. I well remember what August is like in San Antonio. We had a pool in our backyard, but in August, the water was as warm as bathwater. Central air conditioning was an absolute must for a good portion of the year.
We had two air conditioners for the house we were renting, but they hadn’t been serviced in a long while, and the filters were absolutely DISGUSTING. I actually have pictures of how coated in gunk they were when we moved in and changed them. It had probably been years since anyone had done that. Energy prices were insane, too. Just to be comfortable, we had to pay out the ass. And, as my old friend Weird Wilbur sings in his song, “Down in Texas”, it’s always “summertime” down in Texas. I know that’s not actually true. I do remember some chilly days when we lived there. But it’s usually hot and uncomfortable, and not a place where I’d particularly want to endure the onset of menopause, especially when I start having hot flashes (which haven’t happened yet).
All day, I kept getting tagged in more responses. Some of them might have been kind responses, but my guess is that most were probably more like Jay Smith’s, the obvious troll. So I haven’t read any of them. I keep asking Facebook to turn off notifications, but as usual, Facebook doesn’t care about my preferences. So here I sit, deleting notifications, and fruitlessly asking Facebook to stop sending me comments from right wing Trump supporting jerks.
I’m probably a little crankier about this than I ought to be. I guess it’s because sitting over here in Europe, watching how oppressive and dystopian the United States is right now, gives me a weird sense of survivor’s guilt. It’s so much more NORMAL in Europe, all things considered– even with this relatively oppressive heat and lack of cooling systems due to the fact that Germany doesn’t often get this hot. I don’t routinely see people walking around downtown with huge firearms slung over their shoulders, like I often did in San Antonio. I don’t hear or read about people being shot up, or trying to attack the police for doing their jobs. Leaders here actually seem to care about people, and their jobs… or, at least they put on a convincing show of it.
But… for all of my grousing about the Lone Star State, I can see why some people like it. It’s huge, and its populace has a certain bravado. My husband went to high school in Texas… but then that’s also where he met his ex wife, and we know how that turned out. Bill’s mom still lives there, as do some of my relatives. I guess it’s a good place if you like BBQ beef brisket, rodeos, margaritas, and Tex Mex. We have a bunch of friends who live in Texas, and none of them are batshit crazy. There’s even some pretty good wine in Texas Hill Country. But… unlike Tanya Tucker, I hope I won’t be in Texas when I die…
Even if Texas was the most progressive, “woke”, politically correct place on earth, I’d still rather be here than there. For one thing, I’m not that excited about woke or politically correct places. I just want to live in a “NORMAL” place, where all people get basic human rights and I don’t have to worry about being shot. But for the main thing– and the most obvious reason– Texas in August is FUCKING HOT AS FOUR HELLS… and I don’t like that kind of heat, or paying for the energy required to have basic comfort in it. So, for that reason, I am glad that “at least I’m not in Texas.” And I should be able to write that in a comment section without having to deal with stupid trolls who try to tell me to shut up. I’ll thank you to fuck off, because I will never be your ass monkey, mmm’kay? Texas is uniformly HOT and unpleasant in August. For that reason alone, Germany is naturally a preferable location for me, especially at this time of year. It’s perfectly logical and acceptable to state that, and I should be able to do it without crap from Jay Smith and his right wing buddies.
In other news…
Marjorie Taylor Greene is a fucking moron. Sorry, it’s not a nice thing to state, nor is it particularly constructive, but she is embarrassingly stupid. And way too many similarly stupid people follow her. There, I said it. Blame it on the heat and my aging reproductive system, which thankfully will NEVER be forced to birth. Yesterday, I became aware of her recent diatribe about the evils of solar panels, wind turbines, and other “green” energy solutions that might help stave off climate change. She made some outright wrong statements, confidently speaking as if she was a comedian delivering an hilarious routine. And it WAS hilarious, but not for the right reasons. Sadly, her audience was into it, and laughed with her, while the more informed of us were laughing AT her.
Marjorie Taylor Greene just said she opposes solar panels because she thinks they would cause the lights to turn off at night. https://t.co/BDeVSlbitG
I’m not going to go too far into this, because a lot of people are already posting about it… but, I live in a place where lots of people have and use solar panels. And there are wind turbines aplenty. We can’t take a trip on the Autobahn and not eventually pass a wind farm. You know what? We very rarely have power outages in Germany. When we do have them, they are usually fixed within an hour. I did not have that experience in several areas of the United States. Moreover, Marjorie’s district actually hosts the largest fucking solar panel plant in the United States! So… she’s out of touch with her community and reality, and she’s leading more people down the dark rabbit hole of ignorance and stupidity. As her hero Trump would say, “Sad…” But at least she’s not in Texas. They’ve got enough problems.
This post originally appeared on my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife on November 27, 2013. I am reposting it for posterity because the issue that prompted me to write the post came up in Facebook memories. The discussion I had with friends about this situation was interesting.
because I posted the following video in an exMormon group on Facebook…
I have posted Weird Wilbur’s “Most Mormons are Jackoffs” video on my blog before. It was the very first video I ever saw him do. Someone had posted it on RfM and it garnered a lot of discussion. I thought what Wilbur said, while neither particularly respectful nor gracefully stated, was largely based on truth. Wilbur made this video several years ago after an exasperating visit with his now ex-wife’s family, who are LDS. It wasn’t based on just one contact with them. Wilbur’s opinions formed after many observations and interactions.
I posted the above video in a secret exMormon group last night with the note that Joseph Smith was a “flim flam” man. And frankly, in my opinion, he was. What else would you call a man who sells a ridiculous story about golden plates with “reformed Egyptian” writing on them that he “translated” by looking at them with “seer stones” in a hat? This same man went on to “marry” girls as young as 14 and the wives of other men.
Anyway, the first comment from a male member of the group was that Wilbur is an “asshat”. I responded that I don’t think Wilbur is an asshat. Then several other males piled on, calling it hate speech and saying that I “should have picked a ‘better video’.” It soon became very condescending and sexist. That thread went on all day, and eventually turned into a discussion about Mormons and sexism, mainly because a number of the men in that group were trying to “school” the feisty women-folk who stuck up for me. I opted out of the group soon after the men started becoming offensive, because I ain’t got the time for that shit.
I was suddenly reminded of an awful interaction I had with an otherwise nice LDS couple I met while in the Peace Corps in Armenia. They, too, were serving in the Peace Corps and had impressed me by being attractive, hard-working, and basically nice people. I happened to mention to them that I had read the book Secret Ceremonies by the late Deborah Laake. I didn’t know it at the time, but that book was very controversial to Mormons. The male half of the LDS couple basically shamed me for reading “trash” that was full of lies about their religion.
At the time, I was shocked. I hadn’t meant to offend them. Yes, I read the book, but at the time I didn’t have negative opinions about Mormonism. I didn’t know enough about it to have negative opinions, despite having read Laake’s personal account about her experiences growing up LDS. I didn’t say to them what I should have said… or really, should have asked. And that was, “Have you read the book? If not, how can you tell me it’s full of lies?” They hadn’t read the book. They wouldn’t read it, because church officials had condemned it and they were told it was trash. Then they shamed me for reading it, even though I am not LDS and didn’t get the memo… and even if I had, I still have the right to my own thoughts and opinions.
Deborah Laake was an outstanding, award winning journalist. Years after that encounter, I re-read the book with Bill, who is a former Mormon. He confirmed to me that what Laake had written was true, though much of the book was full of uncomfortable aspects of Mormonism that church leaders would have rather kept under wraps and away from the wondering eyes of those who “can’t understand” Mormonism. Laake was invited to many talk shows and at every taping, a group of Mormons would show up and try to drown her out. She later died by her own hand, because she had breast cancer that was resistant to treatment. She chose to kill herself rather than wait for cancer to kill her. Some may think she was crazy for making that choice. Having never had cancer, I don’t feel it’s my place to judge.
Now, I have read Secret Ceremonies twice. I reviewed it on Epinions and, I think, gave it a fair rating (if I recall correctly, it was four stars, although I can no longer check). The truth is, Deborah Laake’s book heavily emphasizes sex… and sexual problems that she specifically had. She blamed her issues on the LDS church. Some of her issues probably were caused by religion. Many of her problems probably weren’t. However, the book she wrote is not full of lies.
As for Wilbur’s video, I will admit and agree that what he says, and the way he says it, may be hard for people to hear. But at least his opinion is an informed one, and isn’t based on just one interaction. The group of guys who accused me of posting “hate speech” based their opinions on just one video Wilbur made after a frustrating encounter with Mormon in laws. Wilbur later took the video down, but someone else reposted it.
A couple of years after Wilbur posted his “Mormons are jackoffs” video, he posted another one to Mormons because he needed help from the “families first” church. At the time, his son and daughter-in-law were having troubles with CPS and Wilbur asked Mormon viewers, who supposedly support families, for help in fighting child protective services on behalf of his grandchildren. The video he made was later taken down and, to my knowledge, is no longer posted anywhere. I remember being dumbfounded that he was asking for this help from Mormons, since Wilbur does not live a Mormon friendly lifestyle. He smokes, drinks, swears, chases women and doesn’t attend church. I imagine most devout Mormons, meeting him once, would never support him in his bid to “save” his grandchildren from CPS. I bet most of them would base that opinion on just one encounter. It wouldn’t take the repeated run-ins Wilbur had with his former in-laws that prompted his frustrated “hate” video.
I got to know Wilbur after he posted that video and we’ve sort of become friends (ETA: in 2021, I no longer hang with Wilbur– he went too far down the Trump rabbit hole). I most certainly do not agree with all of his opinions, especially pertaining to politics. But I don’t think he’s guilty of posting “hate speech” when he says that “most Mormons are jackoffs”. If anything, Wilbur is guilty of negatively painting a large group of people with a broad brush, which is something that a lot of people do, especially when they are angry or frustrated. I think if I were subjected to repeated visits from people in my own home, self-righteously lecturing me about my habits and repeatedly trying to invoke a church I’m not a member of, I’d come to a similar conclusion.
What’s more, I think it’s somewhat hypocritical that several people in that group were so deeply offended by Wilbur’s thoughts when members of that very same group recently made a game out of disrespecting the church… to the point of having sex in church parking lots and taking photos of themselves flipping off temples, then awarding each other “points” for doing so. I don’t remember people screaming about hatred and asshats when that was going on… but I guess since I’ve never been LDS, I’m held to a different standard.
*Sigh*…. well, at least it’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m not visiting my parents. I’ll have to post about that next.
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And now from 2021…
Here’s a link to a news story about Deborah Laake’s infamous book, Secret Ceremonies, which I first read in 1994, when it was first published. At the time, I knew nothing about Mormonism, and was five years from meeting Bill. I didn’t have negative opinions about the church, even after reading that book. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw firsthand the damage done to families by the church that I started having a less positive opinion about Mormonism.
In the below video, you can hear a formerly devout ex-member explain why he left Mormonism. In the video, he explicitly says that not believing in the church threatened to end his marriage. And I have seen how families fracture when people decide they don’t believe anymore. You see families become estranged– children threatened or actually cut off from their parents or their siblings or both… and marriages falling apart. That’s pretty fucked up.
Most LDS church members have never read Secret Ceremonies, yet they claim it’s full of lies. Bill, who has been LDS, confirmed to me that it’s not full of lies. Moreover, the church does have a lot of “issues”, which are easily discovered on the Internet. I, personally, no longer have such strong opinions against Mormonism as I did in 2013. I still think it’s a crock of shit and needlessly complicates lives, but I am grateful that LDS church members helped Bill’s daughter escape the mini cult run by her mother… who is responsible for getting the family involved in the church in the first place.
Anyway… I just thought it was interesting to re-read the Facebook post that prompted me to write the above post in 2013. The thread is too long and convoluted to add to this post, but it was quite a shitstorm.
Last night, an online friend and I were chatting on Facebook instant messenger. We had started conversing on my Facebook page, offering our thoughts about the new abortion law in Texas. I had mentioned that I hate Donald Trump for his part in this… and for many other reasons. And yes, I know Trump didn’t act alone. He had a lot of help from Mitch McConnell and other MAGA asshats who just want to keep people trapped in poverty as they hypocritically lecture them about morals. But basically, Trump is the face of a lot of really horrible people who only care about themselves and everybody else can just go to Hell. That is basically the very essence of narcissism.
My friend had basically said that she doesn’t care about Trump enough to hate him. She sees him like she’d see a scorpion. It’s his nature to be cruel. He can’t help himself. So she doesn’t expend the energy to hate him. I, on the other hand, am not like that by nature. People irk me and I react to them more than I should. And before I knew it, our conversation had segued from Trump to Ex. I wrote:
I understand that mindset [of not caring enough about Trump to hate him]. I just can’t help myself. But there are people I dislike as much or more than Trump, like the Ex. Every time I try to feel compassion for her, remembering that she’s mentally ill, I am reminded that she stole from her own children, sexually abused my husband, and turns people close to her into her slaves. I just really hate narcissists.
I explained that I believe my husband’s ex wife is a narcissist. But I also think she is mentally ill. I’m not the only one. She has been diagnosed by professionals. But she’s also just a very manipulative, selfish, shitty person who has done real harm to others. Unfortunately, some good people are still struck in her sphere. There’s not much we can do for them until they help themselves. It’s an awful feeling to watch good people who are trapped, and haven’t figured out that they need to help themselves… or even that there are people who would gladly help them to help themselves. But, as they say, it is what it is.
My friend was skeptical that Ex is mentally ill. She asked me some questions about Ex, and why I believe that besides being a shitty person, she’s also got legitimate issues with mental illness. Some of it may be organic. Some may have been brought on by abuse and trauma. Some may be because she’s just a nasty person. I explained that I believe a person can be mentally ill, and they can also simply be mean. The two conditions are not mutually exclusive.
Then I PM’d my friend with some sensitive information that clarified things a bit. I didn’t go into specifics of what happened, because the specifics don’t matter. What mattered was that a few years ago, I might have simply excused Ex for being “sick” with mental illness. I can’t excuse her anymore, though, because she has done some things that are just beyond the pale and, I know they aren’t due to mental illness. In fact, she often uses mental illness as a crutch, excusing herself for being a shitty person. I didn’t find out about the personal stuff until a few years ago. When I did find out about what happened, I was absolutely livid. It forever changed my opinion about Ex– not that it was ever very high– and made me conclude that she’s plainly damaged beyond repair.
The conversation with my friend continued, and she eventually took my word that Ex is probably both mentally ill, and a terrible person. But she’s not as bad as she could have been. Believe me, I have realized that she could have done more to make our lives hell. She’s no longer a threat to me personally, but she’s still a threat to Bill’s daughters and the family members who aren’t clued in to what kind of a person she is.
Personally, I am at a point at which I don’t really care much about Ex. I might feel about her the way my friend feels about Donald Trump. I might see her as a reptile who just hurts people because it’s in her nature to do that. But then Bill talks to his daughter, who isn’t quite ready to go no contact. If she goes no contact, there’s a good chance she will pay a dear price. She may lose contact with other family members, for instance. So Ex remains a topic of conversation, even though personally, I could probably move on from caring or talking about her at all.
And then, I noticed something posted by another friend. I don’t know this friend as well… but what I do know is that she’s been going through something with a narcissist. She’s been posting nothing but quotes about narcissism lately. I mostly don’t notice her posts, because I’m not big on posting quotes and memes without explaining the context. But every once in awhile, she posts a gem. Last night, she posted the below image.
For most of my life, I have been trained to tolerate dysfunction. I’ve been conditioned to ignore bad behavior and be “nice” at all costs, so as not to upset the apple cart. I’m not as good at ignoring bad behavior as some people are. I do have a bit of a temper, and I will lose it when people go too far. Sometimes, when I feel like I can’t be assertive, I’ll be passive aggressive, which isn’t a good solution. But, for the most part, I do try to avoid conflict, and sometimes I give people too much power. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and will sometimes excuse them when they shouldn’t be excused. Or, I simply put up with bad stuff from people when I should let it, and them, go.
We’re living in some incredible times. The past five years have been awesomely hard for many people. Bill and I have been mostly fortunate, mostly because we haven’t been living in the United States. But we have been watching the turmoil from afar, and that has been very stressful and worrisome. I’ve found that living in Germany has given me some empathy for people who have come to America from countries where there’s a lot of strife. Bill and I are not in Germany illegally, but it’s still not our home. We love living over here, and we’re not in a hurry to leave. But we still have friends and family who are dealing with the strife as we look on from abroad.
Living in another country has its challenges, although things are pretty good for us. I’m not stupid enough to compare the United States with Afghanistan or El Salvador or Syria or Honduras… or any other place where things are just horrifying. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is plenty horrifying, though… and it takes energy to process it and what it might mean for the future. Why should I let some low level idiot who is up to no good upset me? Especially when there really are much bigger fish to fry? They don’t care about me. Why should I care about them?
I don’t have the energy or stamina to put up with people who deliberately cause chaos, especially if I don’t have an investment in them, and especially when the chaos is over something really petty or insignificant. At this point in my life, I don’t have a lot invested in most other people. It’s probably because I do live in another country. I haven’t seen most of my family since 2014. I haven’t seen friends in that long, either. The ones I’ve made in Germany, by and large, aren’t real friends. They are friendly for a short amount of time, then disappear. So why should I tolerate any disrespect from them? Why should I let them upset me?
Of course, it’s probably in my nature to get upset. Just like I can’t see Donald Trump as a mere scorpion, I can’t help but be irritated by people who go out of their way to be manipulative, disrespectful, or just plain mean. I react more than I should, but lately, I’ve been trying to learn to let things go. I’ve been making a concerted effort not to get into it with people… especially people I don’t know. People who don’t care at all about me aren’t worth the tears. Peace is important, and I am as entitled to it as anyone is. So, instead of addressing stuff that I know will turn into something dramatic, I just quietly take out the trash.
As I was telling my friend last night, there are some people in the world that want to deny you your vote. Yes, some people literally want to deny you your vote in political matters, but I’m also talking about your vote in interpersonal situations. Like, for instance, when Ex unilaterally decided to have Christmas at my in-laws’ house, and demanded that I show up there for two days of hell during the biggest holiday of the year. She never asked me what I thought of the plan. I was simply expected to show up and shut up, forfeiting my right to enjoy Christmas.
Well… I realized then that I had a vote. I had a right to vote “no” to her Christmas plan, and stay home. Yes, there was a price to be paid for voting that way. She decided to punish everybody else for my choice. On the other hand, those people– most of whom were adults– almost chose to accept her “punishment” and disrespect. What they really should have done was tell her to fuck off and kick her out of their lives. It’s hard to do that when kids are involved… I know that. But, even in that situation, there were choices that could have been made. Bill had the right to take the Ex to court, for instance. Or, the in-laws could have told her and #3 to get a hotel room. Or they could have refused to host her little drama altogether. In some way, they could have REFUSED to tolerate her bullshit and just plain not shown up or stuck around for it.
I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to me. As I have said before, I think the universe often gives us multiple chances to learn valuable lessons. This is one of those times. I got a lesson last week, as a matter of fact.
Last week, I got involved in some petty dramas that upset me quite a bit more than they should have. I was upset and frustrated, when I should have been enjoying the Black Forest, which was genuinely beautiful. The people who were causing the strife weren’t people I’m close to or care about. I was simply indulging them and giving them a lot more air time than they deserved. I’ve done that for too many people… Ex included. The vast majority of people are simply not worth the consideration.
I don’t like blocking, unfriending, or even unfollowing people… and I mostly don’t like it when people do that to me (although there are times when it was actually a mutual decision… they just acted first). But– I realize we all have our limits, and X amount of energy. The older you get, the more you realize that time and energy are precious. So it makes sense to spend those valuable commodities on people and issues that truly deserve them.
People like “Dick”, the wine group saboteur, Ex, Trump, and any number of other people with whom I can’t reasonably collaborate or cooperate, simply aren’t worth my time, energy, or attention. They don’t appreciate the sacrifice. And so, today I’m going to try to make a concentrated effort to kick those people out of my life as much as possible. I already feel a lot better having dumped a few of those folks… kind of like I did this morning, purging yesterday’s shit from my system.
And now… Noyzi and Arran are telling me it’s time for a walk. So I’m off to blow off some steam. Hope you have a good Friday… and as my friend Wilbur sings, “Don’t let life chew the sweet out of you.”
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.
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