A predictor of the typical Mormon's reaction to "real world facts"

To understand my "Post-Mormon" story, a foundation must be laid, which creates a context for the Mormon and Non-Mormon alike. In the past few years I have developed a model that I feel explains the behavior and belief patterns of most Mormons. I call the model the "Investment Paradigm." In its simplest form the "Investment Paradigm" (IP) predicts the typical Mormon's reaction to "real world facts" based on his/her emotional investment in Mormon theology. So it follows that if one is heavily invested in Mormonism, that individual will be reluctant to give non-Mormon sources credence. In fact, the heavily invested Mormon will actively avoid anything that will rock the theological boat. My brother is a perfect example. In a recent discussion about the Book of Abraham, he rejected my offer to send him a copy of "...By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus," stating that he was too busy trying to fulfill his existing church duties. He added that there were already too many LDS books that he would rather read first. My brother is perhaps one of the most heavily invested Mormons I know. Instead of blindly rejecting "evil" books, I feel that Mormons ought to consider information from all sources. After all, the church is bold enough to declare itself the sole provider of truth on the planet. I think a claim of this magnitude should be able to withstand all assaults...why are Mormons so afraid?

The IP explains why Mormon men are coerced into serving missions...to increase the investment. Why does the Mormon hierarchy demand that Mormon men marry almost immediately after their missions?...why to increase the investment of course! Once the investment is sufficiently capitalized, the heavily invested LDS member will work his entire life to protect the investment, living a life of ever- increasing investment protection.

I come from a family that is extremely invested in the Mormon church. I have eight siblings, each of which was married in an LDS temple. I am the only "non believer" in both my immediate and extended family. I find it disconcerting that as my investment in the LDS church wanes, the investment of my collective family member's waxes. From my early childhood I expressed doubt about the verity of the LDS church's universal claim. Example: I was scheduled to give a youth talk, which out of trepidation I did not prepare for. When the time came to give the talk, I balked, saying that I was unprepared. My mother told me that I should just "bear my testimony." I had to respond that I did not "have" a testimony. I recall that I was 12 years old. Another Example: My mother taught us the concept of tithing from childhood. I refused to tithe to the LDS church. My mother asked me if I believed in helping those less fortunate than myself, and if so, then I should tithe to the LDS church. I agreed that it was a good idea to help those less fortunate than me, but I did not agree that tithing to the LDS church was the best way to accomplish the goal. Our compromise was for me to tithe to the charitable organization UNICEF. What I am trying to show be these examples is that I have always had a questioning mind, perhaps bordering on intense skepticism. I must add that my parents are the kindest, wisest, most loving people on Earth. I remain anonymous to protect them from any pain learning about this letter might cause.

My life continued to parallel other LDS boy's in my ward, with the exception that I was "on record" as saying I did not want to go on a mission. Instead of choosing to go to BYU, I chose to go to a state college. My parents have always believed that individuals should be free to make their own choices, so they not only supported my college choice emotionally, they supported me financially. After a year and a half at this college I began to miss the close family relationship that was part of my adolescence. It seemed strange to be around people with different values than I had been taught to appreciate. While I was in this condition, I received an invitation to live with my brother at the BYU for a semester. I decided to "try it out" for a semester. Well, to make a long story short, I quickly fell victim to the whole BYU/LDS treadmill. I began to think that a mission might be a valuable experience. It did not take the full semester before I had decided to turn in my mission papers. I served for two years in one of the European Missions.

If you can manage to break through the "best two years of my life" b..., you can get most returned missionaries to admit the truth; an LDS mission has more to do with salesmanship and numbers than it does with heart and soul. My mission president was a wildcat Arizona oilman. His family had made a fortune in oil drilling and donut shops. President X was just plain brainless. In fact, I think he might have been a little crazy. He was consumed with increasing the "numbers" to the point of ignoring the fragile emotional health of the children (I use that term purposely) that served as his proselytizing force. One of his favorite expressions? "You're sucking a hind teat, Elder!". Another memorable quotation from zone conference: "If you find yourself in an apartment complex of Turks, get the hell out!" I guess that President X felt the gospel was only meant for the master race. In any event, I was force-fed a steaming dose of Mormon mission reality. It's not about finding new converts, that is merely a collateral benefit. The true meaning and essence of the mission is to make a child go through two years of complete and living hell. The worse the experience is, the more the child believes he has sacrificed, therefore solidifying the investment value of a completed mission. When the elder finally returns to the flock what else is there to do but protect the investment? After all, he paid for it with two years of blood, sweat and tears. He purchased the investment with the currency of youth. You're only 20 once. The idea that the best part of your golden youth was squandered knocking on doors hassling people with religious pap is unbearable. Return missionaries are all too willing to adopt the company line, close ranks with other returned missionaries and protect the precious investment. At least this was my experience. When I returned I took rank and file with the dullards, spouting scripture and assuring everyone that my mission experience was priceless.

As the years past I recognized the diminishing size of my investment. The slings and arrows I had endured on my mission were no longer fresh. As my investment diminished, I began to see things clearly. It was like a haze clearing from my mind. My faculties returned to me, bringing back with them my old questioning spirit. I began to develop an interest in early church history. As I increased the scope of my readings into areas verboten by the Mormon Patriarchy. I began to discover that the Patriarchy was guilty of revisionist history. Like a shark smelling blood, I was whipped into a frenzy...I had to read any and all commentaries on the church. Learning more than I perhaps wanted to, I realized that the church's claims were misguided at best, and downright falsehoods at worst. It felt horrible to have my world view stripped from me so completely. It was one thing to question the church as I had done all my life, it was quite another to come to the conclusion that the church is built on a foundation of lies. Devastating.

The books that landed the 1-2-3 sucker punch?
1) "..By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus" Charles M. Larson
2) "Studies of the Book of Mormon" B.H. Roberts
3) "No Man Knows My History" 2nd Ed. Fawn M. Brodie

I would suggest this trio of books to any Mormon willing to risk her "investment" for the chance to experience the truth. Ah, but the truth is relative. The truth is exactly what you want it to be. For my family the supreme truth is composed of a professional corporation residing in downtown Salt Lake City. The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day $aints. All rights reserved! Long live the Corporation!

Note from Eric: The first book mentioned is now available free to download. See "Resources and Books" on this web site.

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