Thursday, December 25, 2014


We feel strongly attached to our "orthodox" institutional ways of worship, not noticing that these practices are mostly traditions passed down from one generation to the next. We are heirs to a cultural and religious milieu imposed upon us. We "prove" and "measure" and "judge" ourselves (when we're not focused on condemning and idolizing others) by how well we conform to prescribed forms of worship and behavior within a narrowly defined set of rules and performances established within our own religious tradition. 

We imagine that by doing so -- by being "religious" -- we please God.

But do we? How can we know?

Those born in a Christian culture generally conform to and practice "Christian" values. (Does such a culture represent a "preparatory redemption" for such?) Likewise Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Native Americans and the rest -- all are infused with the religious (and non-religious) influences of their respective cultures. Were it not for Protestant traditions, catalyzed in Catholic cathedrals, would Mormons even now be meeting in chapels on any given Sunday? (Joseph Smith never authorized chapel construction.)

Do we embrace our current religion "first hand" as it erupts from God's own lips? Do we ensure that every practice followed and belief espoused conforms to His design and will? Or do we take another's word for it, going with the flow of the "mainstream", "staying in the boat"? Do we see and hear God moving in His heavens amidst the fires and thunderings of Mt. Sinai, as it were, and do His bidding as He personally directs us? Or do we "follow a prophet" and embrace a catechism established by others (who may or may not know what they're doing)?

How "authentic" is our religion? How "real" our worship? How "true"? How "personal"?

Do we know? Can we know?

There are plenty who are confident theirs is the right way -- the only way -- the truth and the life. There are those who have lost faith in the divine altogether. They explain away all things religious as cunning manipulation, mind control, and self-deception. Are they deceived? 

Are we?

Is religious posture and proclivity an inherent feature of humanity? Do we all, at some point, seek after "light" that shines in darkness and yearn to hear a "voice" that calls to us above the din of mortality and mammon? Do we come "pre-programmed" with the capacity to savor the sweet and spurn the bitter? Is doing so not "built in" to us? Do we not, thereby, grow from grace to grace as we "fill the measure" of our creation, learning to take steps from our missteps?

Only a fool would speculate that this grand design serves no purpose and, thus, plan accordingly, wasting away his days in nihilism and self-absorption, doing harm rather than good, defiling rather than beautifying, destroying rather than building up. The wise man gambles that he takes nothing with him but what he leaves behind. Indeed, he may inherit (in a future life) only what he gives away (in this one). "He who seeks to save his life shall lose it." He realizes he can take with him only eternal things: things not bought with or sold for money.

We are given to choose. And what choices do we make? Do we choose substance over its substitute? Real religion over its imitation? Do we know, follow and worship the one true God (if He exists), as He invites us? Or do we embrace the image of a god and a formula of worship revealed to us only in the teachings and dictates of others, however noble or misguided? 

How could we know God, or recognize Him, even if we were to find Him? And how can we say we have known Him -- in all His manifest forms -- to the exclusion of all others? Can we safely condemn those who do not follow our traditions, our culturally-imposed forms of worship? Do we know for certain that we -- and we alone -- are truly inspired of heaven, while all others (who are different from us) are condemned? Or are we just "going through the motions", satisfying the demands of those who have choreographed our attitudes, expectations and behaviors for us?

Would we be Christian, Muslim, or Mormon today if we weren't born thus, were we not bred in a culture saturated by these religious traditions? Did God Himself appear to us, or send His angel, as He ostensibly did to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad and Joseph Smith? What makes us "stay put" in our faith? What makes us think that others are, at best, misguided or, at least, less informed than we? 

Could we be mistaken?

For every priest of Baal vainly calling down fire from heaven to consume a tindered offering, how many Elijahs step forth today to combust the sodden sacrifice, demonstrating publicly that their God is God? Jesus purportedly walked on water and did many mighty miracles. So did His disciples. 

What are the "signs and tokens" of "true believers" and followers of Christ today? Has His gospel changed? Or are His powers and priesthood any less? 

There are those who are content to merely believe in the words of others, not knowing for themselves. They take justification and solace from Jesus' words: "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Perhaps thus encouraged, some now condemn those who seek to see and know also, accusing them of wrong doing, "sign seeking" and not "following the prophet". Meanwhile, they themselves sit in relative darkness. (For if they had seen and known for themselves, they would not condemn those who are striving -- or claiming -- to have done so.)

How can we pierce the darkness? What evidence can we rely upon to help us discriminate between true religion and false, between true prophets who introduce us to Deity and those false priests who merely oppress and enslave us to join them in ignorance?

What "fruits" can we look upon by which we may judge those who claim to have met God and know Him and now speak on His behalf? 

How can we know which religion is true, if any?

UPDATE: Many answers to the above questions can be found here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wail and mourn

This does not bode well for us.

I hurt inside, knowing how far I have to go. I do not emulate the characteristics Denver identified of those who will be successful.

Ought we not to wail and mourn?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Sunday

My wife reported her dismay this morning after attending the LDS Church in our (my former) ward, where my daughters played the piano and sang in Sacrament Meeting while my wife joined them in the choir. (My wife has been asked to sing in another ward later today. She has the voice of an angel.) It broke her heart to see my 11-year-old son -- as righteous a boy as I have ever known -- sit by himself in a pew, without his father. (The younger children are with me at home.)

People spoke of the "joy" of being gathered together with "friends and family" at Church, in celebration of Christ.

We won't be doing this much longer.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Love Letters

I didn't complain about the accusations made against me in the Kirton-McConkie letter banning me from all LDS Church properties worldwide because -- after you've had your heart ripped out -- paper cuts don't count.

It was an ambiguous "form letter" accusing me of creating "disturbances", violating "Church policies", and causing others to "fear for their safety". When and how, it didn't say. I was amused to discover that others had received the same letter, employing the same verbiage. (At least I wasn't alone!)

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I don't hold myself above others, or beyond reproach. I'm willing to acknowledge my mistakes.

I looked back over the past three years to find any evidence to support the claims made. (See below.) Surprisingly, I found convincing evidence that the letter was, in fact, justified. 

If I were the current leadership of the Mormon Church, I wouldn't want me around either, neither sitting in the foyer quietly reading to myself nor writing on my blog, nor standing and greeting others as they came and left the chapel. If I were those leaders, I wouldn't want me whispering to members of the Church, almost apologetically: "Well, actually, I'm not a member of the Church anymore. They excommunicated me for apostasy."

It's not a "comforting" thing to say or hear. It no doubt makes people feel bad, even "threatened". They might even "fear for their safety."

I can't tell you the number of *gasps* I've heard...or the number of pained expressions I've seen, mixed with bewilderment and even a few tears...from life-long friends, people I've grown up with who have known me -- who know me -- who just can't believe its possible that I could not be a Mormon. They've seen me at every service project. They've served with me in the temple. They've sung with me in choirs for decades. They've heard my comments in Priesthood and Sunday School and have felt the strength and conviction of my testimony in Sacrament Meeting. They know my heart, my thoughts and my fruits, even my family. 

And they can't believe I could possibly be ejected from this Church.

It doesn't make any sense.

And that's precisely why the LDS Church had to get rid of me.

When members of the Church hear the reason -- that I did not "learn to bow and kneel to the scepter of their authority" -- they don't know what to think.

Their initial reaction is understandable: "Well, surely he must have a devil! He must be a sinner! He has fallen into transgression! They have taken him in a fault!"

I wish it were so. At least I could repent of that.

No, it's nothing so scandalous or prurient. They just didn't like the fact that I wouldn't hand over my agency to them. They demanded total, blind obedience to them, as if they were God.

The leaders of the LDS Church know this is preposterous. They know this "doctrine" is unsustainable, unscriptural, unsupportable and unrighteous. But they like to propound it anyway because it gets them what they want: a compliant, unquestioning flock of "sheeple" who will do whatever the Brethren want...or else. It makes it "simple" for them. 

"Just teach them correct principles and let them...follow us."

Like I said, I can make a convincing argument that I needed to be "eliminated".


Recently my children and I discussed Lehi's "plight". He was thrown out of his church (or synagogue). Alma, too, was tossed from King Noah's court and religious society. Humble Zoramites were likewise ejected. As were Peter and Paul and countless others. 


For creating disturbances on Church property. Violating Church policies. Causing members to fear for their safety. These are not "demerits," but badges of honor!

By being thrown out, each of these people or groups were, in fact, blessed. The true focus of their faith was revealed. It wasn't temples, chapels, leaders, organizations or programs. 

It was Christ. 

And anything that comes between us and Christ is anti-Christ.

Is it harder for me to participate in a sacrament meeting now? 


Do I find myself wanting with regard to organ music, choral worship, Sunday ceremonies and sacred rituals? 


But so what? That's religion.

Do I wan't a religion? Or a relationship?

Some of you will recall the importance (or non-importance) of the "preacher" employed by Lucifer to do his bidding. The gifts of God cannot be bought and sold; if they are, they are destroyed.

Who's "selling" you your signs and tokens now?

The LDS "kingdom" is a lucrative proposition for those who "possess" it. Their sons and daughters go to the finest schools in the world (not necessarily just Church schools) and they do it on your tithing dime. (Do you get that "benefit"?) Their income depends upon the "business" of "religion", or the corporate operations stemming therefrom. (Are you thus employed and remunerated by the Church?) They lay claim to this kingdom by right and will protect it by force, if necessary. They have threatened me with arrest and prosecution if I dare to merely show up.

There may be more like me who will receive this letter. Maybe not. The LDS Church may "learn" that the "blow back" from this sort of thing is too costly, generating more "loss" than "gain".

After all, I still pay tithing. I just don't pay it to the Mormon Church anymore. And where would that organization be without tithing funds? It would be nothing. No chapels. No temples. No "discount" educations. No "religion".

And that tells you upon what foundation that "faith" is truly built.

Are meetings and meeting houses, schools and seminaries nice things to have? Yes. Are they essential? No.


The letter claimed I "created disturbances on Church property, violated Church policies, and caused members to fear for their safety". Accusations of this tenor and severity deserve full consideration. I have carefully reviewed the past three years of my interaction with members of the Church to determine if there is any truth to the allegations. Here are my findings:

I confess to having yelled at the bishop in his office once or twice. (People sitting outside his door undoubtedly heard me.) I assure you, it was the only time -- in 37 years of active Church membership! -- that I have ever raised my voice...or even disagreed!...with a Mormon bishop. (But he had it coming to him.)

I don't "do well" with bullies. The first Mormons I ever met lived on a street along the route I took to get home from school (in the 5th grade). They were much bigger and a lot older than I was. They told me I couldn't walk down their street. I told them I could walk wherever I wanted. "You don't own the sidewalk!"

They beat the crap out of me.

They chased me onto someone's lawn, pummeled me into submission, held me down and nearly tore my arms from their sockets. I remember limping home in agony that day, crying for my mother, hoping that somehow, just this once, she would sense her son was in danger and hurting and come pick me I didn't have to walk that agonizing extra mile home.

But she didn't. And I made it home.

Fortunately I didn't know at the time that those two boys were Mormons, just exercising "the laying on of hands" for fun! (Or I never would have joined their church five years later!) 

We all did stupid things back then as kids. I more than most. (One of those boys is now a good Mormon bishop. I hope we are still friends.)

But my personality, in that regard, hasn't changed much. I stand up for what I believe in -- even if it hurts me. A brother, a bully, or even a bishop isn't going to make me move by pushing me around. He's going to have to show me the wisdom and truthfulness of his teachings. He's going to have to act by the Spirit.

The allegation that I "created disturbances on Church property" is mostly fatuous. What disturbances? I haven't said a word in any class or meeting since my excommunication. I've always treated everyone I've met at church with respect, if not cordiality. 

Well, with the exception of that time or two in the bishop's office.

And I brought an investigator to Church several months ago. (We're still bringing him!) I introduced him to the bishop in Sunday School. But since the bishop couldn't "acknowledge" my friend in Priesthood Opening Exercises without also drawing attention to me (the "apostate"), he simply "overlooked" my friend when they recognized "any visitors". So I finally just stood up and said "I guess it falls to me to introduce my friend here" -- even though, "technically", I wasn't allowed to. So, yeah, I guess I "violated Church policies", too.

My friend is still taking the discussions in my home and coming to Church -- which is kind of ironic since I'm the one who brings him and I'm not even allowed to attend! 

As far as many of the members of my (former) ward know, I'm still a "stalwart" Latter-day Saint. The leadership has endeavored to "put me away privily". The bishop's own wife didn't even know I was ex-ed until just a few months ago. My wife asked me to do something for her in Primary and I said: "I can't. I'm not a member." The bishop's wife thought I was referring to being a member of the Primary and laughed, thinking I had made up a somewhat original "excuse".

She later found out I meant I'm not a member of the Church. And it broke her heart.

Yelling at her husband wasn't my only "crime", however.

Almost three years ago I caused quite a ruckus in Priesthood. I commented about it on Steve Bloor's Blog. (Steve used to be a devout Mormon bishop. He eventually rejected the divinity of Christ, becoming a secular humanist. He now argues against the Mormon faith.) This is what I wrote:

Good Will says: September 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm  
I had a “crisis of faith” recently. (Well, not a “crisis” of my faith, but certainly of my bishop’s faith in me!)  
I was asked to give the Elder’s Quorum lesson last February. The topic had to do with Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I introduced the lesson by referencing Joseph Smith’s “magical beginnings” and the belief in the supernatural that suffused the society in which he was raised. (“Treasure digging” and using “peep stones” was ridiculed, but not unheard of in his day. And many believed in “rodding”, “water witching” etc.)  
And that’s about as far as I got. I was repeatedly interrupted and challenged by the members of the quorum. “Where is that in the manual?” “Where are you going with this?” “Why are you saying these things?” “What does this have to do with the lesson?”  
My purpose was to show that Joseph Smith was human, a product of his times, that he was influenced by the many (sometimes errant) influences of his day.
The resistance that I faced by merely broaching the fact that Joseph emerged from a culture of magic and superstition was simply too great for many to overcome. I got so far as to say that “God used Joseph Smith — as simple and as flawed as he was — because he believed…he was a believing soul…” before I was shut down. My final words were “Ultimately, Joseph and Hyrum were killed by men, some of whom were apostates and former members of the Church.” At that point, I was asked to sit down.  
That was the last lesson I ever taught in Church.  
Well, almost. The following Sunday I rehearsed in Sunday School (as a member of the class) that Joseph did not (as most Mormons believe) “translate” the Book of Mormon using the seer stones purportedly given to him by Moroni, but in fact used a stone he found years earlier while digging a well. He put his face into a hat and “read” the words as they were given (as is shown in “South Park” episode 712). I mentioned (in recounting this fact) that I, for one, find the truth even more convincing than the fable (of Joseph handling the plates as he “translated” them, etc.) — as no one, in my view, could create the Book of Mormon while talking out of his hat!  
Well, the bishop called me into his office soon thereafter and told me, in effect, to shut up…or risk being excommunicated.  
Excommunicated? For what? For telling the truth?  
He said, “Some truths don’t need to be revealed.”  
We had a discussion about “milk before meat” and I assured him that that time had long since passed when investigators should only be given “milk”. The internet was rendering it impossible for the Church to pretend that “made-up” histories and inaccuracies in the record could be forever pawned off as truthful. The Church, I said, is obligated to get the full truth out there — for no other reason than that our “enemies” will, if we don’t.  
I told him that, 20 years ago, anti-Mormon literature was filled with lies. Now they just tell the truth. Recently (if you haven’t noticed) the bishop (or his counselors) have begun every Fast and Testimony meeting by telling the congregants to limit their “bearing testimony” to the “truthfulness” of five “permitted” topics: God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith’s a prophet, and (by extension) the Church today and its leadership are true. 
When I did not follow that precise formula at my next speaking opportunity, the stake president took me aside and chastened me. I said “Do you think I am not a faithful member of the Church? Did I not bear my testimony?” He relented that I had (at the very end). But I felt very, very — well, the way I always feel when working with some (uninspired) leaders of the Church — very dismissed and disrespected. The Church attracts types to its leadership who assume (and then presume) unjustified powers. They are so carefully scripted and reigned in that there is no spontaneity. (I sometimes wonder if the Holy Ghost could ever get a revelation in edge-wise without getting prior approval from the bishop!)
I told the stake president that if he was so interested in only hearing those “five things”, why not just record them on a loop and play them over and over again for the entire full hour. (He actually suggested that that might not be bad...before he dismissed my remark as sarcastic! But I was dead serious.) The purpose of these “restrictions” seemed to reflect “damage control” if not “mind control”.  
And while I think it’s a silly, inevitably “self-defeating” rule — and the Church has any number of them — it’s not a “deal breaker” for me…yet.  
My “testimony” of the Church, its doctrines and leadership remains strong, independent of its leadership or its membership. But I acknowledge the imperfect efforts being made (perhaps dictated from the top), striving to stem the tide of apostasy and disbelief taking place in the Church.  
That apostasy could be bridled (somewhat) by the Lord producing more glaring evidence substantiating the truthfulness of the work. (A cache of steel swords in Mesoamerica would be nice!) But that, of course, would attract a different kind of follower to the faith — one less guided by the Spirit and more by his five senses.
Bloor didn't like what I had to say, either, so he likewise "banished" me from his blog. Apparently I can't make anyone happy!

In May, 2013, I chanced upon Denver Snuffer's blog. Reading it changed my life. On May 15, I made the "mistake" of sending this email to the stake president:

Dear Pres. Morris,

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday (for an extended period) for my temple recommend interview. I appreciated the rapport we shared.

Even so, it was not enough for me. I rarely have the opportunity to discuss "spiritual" things with anyone beyond my wife. As I mentioned, EQ meetings are more like "Marriott Hotel Training Sessions" -- devoid of anything enthralling, doctrinal, or even tending to amplify my understanding of Church history. It's all watered down "milk" and moralizing. (Not to denigrate milk and moralizing! We could talk about "repentance" alone forever and that would be enough!) And history stripped of context and "rewritten" so as to not offend (even if it does somewhat mislead).

But in all that "re-writing", the truth is being lost.

Have you noticed that tours of the Lion House at Temple Square no longer pass by the wives' quarters -- or even mention that BY was married to more than one woman? (They make it seem that Bro. Brigham and his "wife" only shared that one bedroom at the bottom of the stairs.) Just another "fact" lost down the "memory hole" of modern Mormonism. In trying not to offend -- or to fan the flames of controversy -- the Church (in its original form) is vanishing. The "corporate" Church has "correlated" the heavenly gift almost out of existence.

So when I found this blog this morning, I positively felt to say "Hallelujah!" (I almost felt a full rebirth of that same spirit of enthusiasm I experienced upon first joining the Church.) This post parrots my own sentiments on the matter exactly. Indeed, nearly every post by this blogger resonates with me. I'm looking forward to reading all of them.

Perhaps you will find them edifying for you as well.

He never responded. Perhaps he found my observations and discoveries too "disturbing".

On August 4, 2013, I wrote the following in my journal:

This was probably not the best way to begin my weekend. For today in church, my wife approached me and said “I don't want to do this anymore” (speaking of coming to church). “Why?” I asked. Then she told me that Sis. _____ told her the bishop had said that I shouldn't lead the music in Primary anymore.

I marched down the hall to the bishop's office and “confronted” him. He feigned ignorance. I quoted what my wife had said. Then he confessed that he had, in fact, said such things to Sis. _____. I asked him why.

He talked about things I said in Primary last week: about the doctrine of baptism (and not just with water, but with the Holy Ghost...suggesting that “maybe the Church doesn't teach this too well”) or the doctrine of following the Savior (not just “the prophet”). I reminded the bishop (since I assumed he'd heard from Bro. _____, who was the one who “told” on me) that I asked the kids if they thought “the prophet” could ever lead them astray. (The children said “no!”) I told them he surely could. He's just a man. An imperfect man, like everyone else. But the Lord is not. “The Lord will never lead you astray”, I told them. “How can we know the prophet is leading us correctly?” I asked them. Eventually someone (maybe an adult) suggested we could know “by the power of the Holy Ghost”. “That's why,” I said, “you need to obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost”, I told the kids.

And for teaching that, I was silenced. The bishop said he didn't trust me to teach in church, speak, hold a calling, etc.

I told him I didn't appreciate him saying before every Sacrament Meeting that we should avoid bearing our “story-monies”, a derogatory characterization of those who bear their witness in context. I told him “every prophet in the scriptures who has ever testified of Christ has done so in the context of a story!” But he talked over me. I complained that the stake president demanded that I limit my testimony to five things: God lives, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is a prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, and so is the Church. That's it. Nothing else.

I balked. This isn't my Church. It's hardly anything like the Church I joined. We were free to say anything we felt “inspired” to say during Fast and Testimony Meeting when I was a kid. We could give any talk we felt inspired to deliver when it was our “turn”. Now, the Church regulates everything. The leadership even delivers the words for each member to say. And when they don't deliver it correctly, the leadership makes them change it or releases them from their “calling”. They are asked to stand down and shut up.

This is not unlike the parameters established during Christ's ministry to the Nephites, or Alma's ministry to those who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. They were “restricted” to teaching faith in Christ and repentance of sin. And I would be fine with that! But the Church no longer even teaches the basic doctrines of the Church. The bishop “condemned” me for teaching about the gift of the Holy Ghost, saying it was “too much” for six and seven year olds.

That's the problem! The members of the Church are ignorant!

When the bishop characterized my last “testimony” born in church as a “rambling rant and diatribe”, I said “That's enough” and stood up. I shook his hand and walked out. I walked directly to priesthood opening exercises and made a point of sitting directly in front of the bishop. I wasn't going to be moved or intimidated by him, even though he hurt me.

After the opening exercises, the bishop asked me for “30 seconds” with him. We walked in silence to his office. There, he apologized for denigrating my testimony. He said he didn't have the right to disparage anyone's testimony over the pulpit, or to characterize my testimony as a “rant and diatribe”. I accepted his apology and told him I didn't have anything to say other than I hoped he knew that I supported him in his calling and his efforts, together with the stake president. I simply disagreed with them.

But there was no prayer, no sense of love, no spirituality of the type I relished so forcefully with Bishop (and, later, Stake President) Robert Louis Stevenson in Logan. I have known many priesthood leaders who have treated me with respect and sympathy. This bishop treats me like a pedophile and a threat to his congregation. My wife and I can hardly enjoy attending church in this ward. The bishop blames me for “stirring the pot”. I told him I'm only trying to “get to the meat”. The gospel preached nowadays in Church is pure pablum and missing even essential ingredients. But there will be no changes for the better. It would be “unpopular”. The bishop wouldn't even admit openly what he knows to be true privately: that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by peering at a rock in his hat, not scrutinizing the golden plates.

If we can't even be honest about how the Book of Mormon came to be – as if we're ashamed of it! – how can we be trusted about anything else? It makes no sense! 
Meanwhile, I absolutely love what I'm experiencing with regard to Denver Snuffer's blog. I love praying in my closet. I'm learning more (and praying more) than I have in decades. I've begun to constrain my anger and recognize the faults I find in others now are usually found even more abundantly in myself. I'm trying – not succeeding, yet, but trying – to overcome my sins. I want to eradicate all of them.

Today I read Snuffer's entry from October 29, 2010, wherein it was given me to know (as Snuffer intended for those with “ears to hear”) that he was ordained by an angel of God to serve as one of the 144,000 high priests called “to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn” (Doctrine and Covenants 77:11). 
When I read this I wept. I walked to the men's restroom in the chapel, entered the large stall, and wept, asking God to let me so serve, to let me “enter into” the Church of the Firstborn, too. (I feel so lonely and “unused” here.) I turned toward the wall and, resting my head against the tile, pounded on the wall three times. Then I realized that I had just “knocked”. I had “asked”. I was “seeking”. 
If I continue, I will find. I will receive. It shall be opened unto me. Regardless of what the Church does. It doesn't matter to me anymore. 
The kingdom of God is within.
Clearly, my statements and actions in Priesthood and Primary constituted a "disturbance".

On August 8, 2013, I sent to my bishop the following email, titled "Coming unto Christ":

Dear bishop, 

I don't know if you have any interest in such things, but I have found Denver Snuffer's blog to be richer and more inspiring than anything I have encountered (outside the scriptures) in 35 years. I am just embarking on this journey, so please don't judge his words by my failure to follow them. 

I would recommend reading from the beginning (avoiding the reader comments, they are generally uninspired). Snuffer's commentary on portions of the Book of Mormon are exceptionally insightful, even "transformative". I have found his appeal to "come unto Christ" more persuasive than anything I have heard, outside the scriptures or beyond the testimony of Joseph Smith. I am striving now to put them into practice. 

He responded kindly:
Thanks for passing this along Will. I will try and take a look when I get a chance. 
My best, 
I had a lot of time on my hands that summer (not teaching), so a few days later (on August 10), I sent the following missive, titled "Down the memory hole":
You may recall (when you were about 10 years old!) the talk delivered during October 1984 General Conference by Elder Ronald E. Poelman (found here and here). Those who heard it shouted "Amen, brother!" It was an exciting breath of fresh air.

However, if you visit the Church's official website, this is what you'll find. After Conference concluded that year, Church hierarchy compelled Elder Poelman to redeliver his remarks -- highly redacted and reworked -- at the very same pulpit, even propping up the Mormon Tabernacle Choir behind him and adding a "cough track" to make it appear that this second address was the original talk he gave. You can't even find the original talk on the Church's websites anymore. It was removed and the "repackaged" talk was spliced into the film before being archived. The Ensign article that followed was the "revised" talk. 

What did Elder Poelman say that was so wrong? 

Only the truth. 

--Will Carter 
I followed that up with an addendum later that day:
Hi, Bishop, 

I imagine you don't have time to listen to (and compare) the differences between Elder Poelman's "talks". This makes comparison easy. 

Elder Poelman's "inspired" version wasn't just redacted and revised. It was turned inside out. His original talk championed free agency, individual accountability for seeking after and determining truth, and tolerance for cultural and personal differences. His "revised" talk underscored submission to Church authority and conformity. His second talk effectively "airbrushed out" the concept that, sometimes, "traditions, customs, social practices and personal preferences" practiced by some in authority are misconstrued to be "Church procedures and policies" and may even be elevated to the status "eternal gospel principles" so that "those who do not conform to these cultural standards may mistakenly be regarded as unorthodox or even unworthy." 

That sounds about right to me. 

Any distinctions Elder Poelman thus tried to make between the Church (its practices, procedures, cultural norms and traditions, including the teachings of men) and the gospel were thus effectively erased. 

Too bad. It was a good talk. 

The next day (August 11) I wrote him again:
Dear Bishop, 

I awoke this morning with the sense that all these things I have been discussing lately are "distractions". I wrote in my journal:  
The gospel is coming unto Christ, emulating Him, following Him, keeping His commandments, taking upon ourselves His name and bearing our crosses as He bore His. It is being His disciple, not interfering with or imposing ourselves on the workings of the Church. 
I cannot change the Church (meaningfully). I cannot change the government (effectively). I can only change myself. That is something I certainly can do and, in the end, changing myself is the only change that matters.  
Then I happened upon Denver Snuffer's post from 3 November 2011. He said it wonderfully and with great insight:  
Our many cares often focus on things which do not matter. Christ told us what matters. It is not what we can get from God, but what we do for Him, what we give up for His sake, that has value. If we lose our fathers and mothers--are rejected by those we are closest to in this life-- for His sake, we are in the right way. (Matt. 10: 35-39.) When we are entrusted with something by Him, it is not for our benefit, but for the benefit of others while in His service. (Matt. 25: 14-30.) In the parable about the talents, the talents were given for the Lord's sake, not the servants. The servant was accountable for what he did for the Lord with what was given. It was not about the servant, nor the pride of being entrusted, nor the praise of men. It was only about doing the will of the Lord and glorifying Him. 
When we claim we've done great things in the Lord's name, we miss the point. (Matt. 7: 21-23.) The kingdom, and the power and the glory is the Fathers, not ours. (Matt. 6: 13.)  
This is more than enough to occupy all our days. How is it then we have time to fret about so much else? How do we have time for endless debate and group discussions which circle about but fail to reach the truth; without ever noticing how little we have given to Him? Why do we ever contemplate with pride what we've received, what we own, what office or station we occupy, or how great we have become down in this dark well? What use is it to succeed here? What great thing is it you have here that will endure for even a thousand years? "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8: 34-37.)
What little we have must all be given to Him if we hope to please our Lord. (Luke 21: 1-4.) Until we give all we have to Him, we have nothing.
The bishop reply? "Good comments Will". (Mind you, I was quoting a man who -- unbeknownst to any of us -- would be excommunicated less than one month later.) I followed that email up with this shorter one:
Thank you. You may appreciate this (from 23 January 2012). 

A week later (on August 19) I wrote the bishop again an email entitled "Suggested Gospel Study topics for new converts...":

...offered tongue in cheek

Also, you may benefit from reading the previous post, found under "Older Post". 

That was my entire email.

He didn't reply.


By November of last year (2013) I was still sending emails to the bishop about Denver Snuffer's teachings and writing entries in my journal, like the one below: 
[2013 November 22: Friday: 0606 hrs.] Fifty years ago today John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley died. 
Last Sunday at Church _____ spoke on “priesthood” and another brother spoke on “Jesus Christ”. _____ (in Sunday School) spoke on “The True Church”. It was a feast of reactionary propaganda, designed to counteract the assertions of Denver Snuffer. Not one word was inspired. 
I was asked to give the opening prayer in Sacrament Meeting and my wife, the closing. My prayer acknowledged our common intent to worship the Father and Son, as well as our utter unworthiness to do so, and appealed for grace, through Christ's merits, to receive His Holy Spirit; that the speakers might be endowed with power, that their words might become scripture to us, that we might apply the lessons learned this week and be empowered to return to God's presence. 
This prayer was referenced by the man who spoke of Christ, who identified me by name, and several thanked me for it later, though I didn't feel particularly inspired, but rather hopeless, inasmuch as I knew Bro. _____ had asked my wife the night before, at _____, for “advice” on what he should say on the subject. (He didn't ask me, because he knew my views were radically different than the Church's traditional narrative – and he would have none of that.) 
So they all gave their talks. _____ said the usual blather: that priesthood is the authority to act in God's name; that we “have” it, others don't; and that while our women don't have it, they share its blessings (if they are lucky enough to marry a man who has it and go to the temple, then someday they, too, with their husband, will return to God's presence). The talk was entirely inert. 
The second speaker spoke of Christ. He told us all about Him, His names, His accomplishments, His roles and destiny. He just didn't tell us anything about Him that he knew from personal experience. It was like a eulogy given by a minister who never met the dearly departed. 
In Sunday School _____ told us all how great and wonderful this Church is, how accomplished, how inspired, how lucky we are to have it.
Before church that morning I sent the following email to Bishop Risenmay:
Can you find fault with his reasoning? 
This is the guy the LDS Church excommunicated in September. 
By the way, a lengthy (very long, book-length) thread was developed at on the topic of "Arguments Against Denver Snuffer". I took the time to read it. I wouldn't recommend it -- unless you cared to see ardent critics of Denver's thesis in Passing the Heavenly Gift turn to support him whole-heartedly, even gratefully. (I have read the very-well supported "rebuttals" to Snuffer's book at Interpreter, found here and here. These rebuttals are not as persuasive to me, however, as what I have seen and experienced for myself.) 
One sitting bishop (who gets released today, after five years of faithful service in the Church) made the most impressive "turn around". I invite you to read his comments (throughout the post, really, but beginning near the end, with these words from some guy named "Good Will"). [That link has since been broken.] The testimony of Bishop "Geoff" can be read here, here and here. [Links are likewise now broken.] His views reflect belief in Snuffer's, Daniel A. Rogers' and Frederick Volcansek's testimonies. The bishop's perspective (as a "convert") is inspiring and prescient. 
Quite frankly, the things I "warned" you about are now coming to pass. The Church is being shaken. "Secret" things cannot be hid, but will be shouted from the roof tops! The kingdom of God on earth is being prepared to receive the kingdom of God from heaven. Those children of the covenant whose fathers once ate "sour grapes" shall have their own teeth set on edge...unless they change their diet! 
Bishop Risenmay didn't have the opportunity to read this email and respond before _____ (his executive secretary) invited us to pray. (If he had, he no doubt would have asked someone else to offer the prayer!) After church, he responded:
I'm happy to discuss any concern you might have in person. 
However, I would urge you to stick with the brethren Will. Christ is still very much at the head of this church guiding it through his living prophet. 
My best, 
The bishop wanted to meet with me in person because he didn't want anything he said to be written down or recorded. "I'm not willing to go on record", he told me, repeatedly.

I'm sorry, bishop. A man who claims to speak for God doesn't have that luxury.

Continuing with that same journal entry from November 22, 2013:
My experience has been that any “discussion” with the bishop is fruitless. It is an unloving, uninspiring affair. He is a “cheerleader” for the Church, through and through. Any body of evidence, honestly arrayed, contradicting his “testimony” will be dismissed and the assembler will be marginalized and denounced as “heretic”. He claims near-universal comprehension and familiarity with all the issues, but try to pin him down on any one point and he falls back on the mantra of “all I know is....” and states his testimony. He'll even admit (tacitly) that the Brethren have lied, but, somehow, this doesn't faze his “testimony”. He is a “soldier” for the Church, through and through. 
I am willing to entertain much of this. No man is perfect. Even Abraham deceived (at the Lord's behest). I don't understand all things. Nevertheless, the workings of the Church have been pretty “shady”...and continue to be. (Not that anyone would notice who doesn't have “eyes to see”.)

Sis. _____ had said some things in her class that piqued my desire to testify. One comment I made erupted so powerfully from my breast that I was filled with fire! Both of my comments warned of “perils” in embracing ideas Sis. _____ promulgated: the first, that we have “living prophets” who speak on the Lord's behalf and whose pronouncements are new and living scriptures to us; the second, that this is the Lord's “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”. 
I pointed out that prophets act as such – that their words are the mind, will and power of the Lord – only when they are “moved upon by the Holy Ghost”. Otherwise, they were just men. (She didn't like that “wishy-washy” analysis. She wanted something more “cut and dried”, absolute.) 
As Log has pointed out, what was true on November 1, 1831, was not necessarily true on November 2. The church could fail and come under condemnation. (I didn't have the guts to stir up this hornet's nest.) But I did warn that we are in danger of becoming everything prophesied in 2 Nephi 28. 
Sis. _____ didn't want to hear it. My words didn't “fit” her paradigm. They were not “edifying”. She seemed palpably annoyed that I would deign to offer two comments (even though virtually no one else was offering any). After I spoke, the bishop chimed in to “interpret” or “restate” my comments. (I didn't welcome his “reconstitution” of my words. He transformed them into something more palatable to the class, thinking he was doing me a favor. He was not. I meant what I said.)
After church I wrote Sis. _____ (sending a copy to the bishop):
Dear Sis. _____, 
I regret that I came across as a "cheerleader" for the "other side" during your rousing and heart-felt Sunday School lesson. You were obviously irritated by my comments and, I'm sure, you must wonder why I make them. 
It's because the Church can't save us. No member of the First Presidency can save us. No apostle or president or bishop. Nor can "following them" save us. No building or program or ordinance, in and of itself, can save us. Our great conference center, training centers, farms and factories, temples, chapels, publications, organizations and missionary work -- all of it -- can become a great "golden calf" to those who are "proud" of what we have and do...if we don't come unto Christ.

He, alone, personally, can save us. He is the only one who can. And if He doesn't, we are lost. 
I invited you to read the blog of a man who was recently excommunicated. He taught that the Church, perhaps, doesn't have the fullness of the priesthood it thinks (or pretends) to have, because the Church, collectively if not individually, isn't coming unto Christ. Angels no longer, by and large, appear or lead men and women back into Christ's presence. The gifts of the Spirit are restrained. Miracles have been done away for the most part (see Moroni 7). The "charismatic" elements that so characterized the Mormon faith at its inception have now passed into lore and modern accounts of such things are almost invariably greeted with healthy skepticism. We're asked to keep our "personal revelations" to ourselves and to "stick to the manual". We even dispute when people of other faiths speak of being "born again". (Yet how many Mormons can testify to having received the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? Very few.)

In short, the Church is very different today than it was during Joseph Smith's time and the gospel preached and practiced now is very different from that practiced by Joseph or even described in the Book of Mormon. 
We often "boast" about our "living prophets" and our "modern revelation". But how is our modern faith any different from that described (and condemned) by Nephi in 2 Nephi 28?

3 For it shall come to pass in that day [when the Book of Mormon is revealed] that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s ["only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth"]; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord— 
4 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning [from the correlated manuals and materials given to them], and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance [and be told to "keep that revelation to yourself, you've obviously been deceived"]. 
5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel [and say He no longer ministers to men in the flesh, as in days of old, but will again at some future day...just not now]; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept ["stick with the Brethren" and "follow the Prophet"]; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men. 
In fact, the gist of Denver's thesis is that we, as a Mormon people, are identified primarily with the Gentiles, not the house of Israel (see Doctrine and Covenants 109:60), and all of the pronouncements and woes pertaining to that population are intended for us! We are destined to become the people of 2 Nephi 28! To a great degree, we already have.

Hence, my concerns and comments in Sunday School.

Many who now "champion" the Church's "progress" are unwittingly furthering the move in that dreadful direction! 
I believe we are no closer to establishing a "Zion" society today than we were 183 years ago. In fact, we are moving in the opposite direction. Our well-meaning leaders recently spent as much Church money investing in a shopping mall (and associated condominiums) in Salt Lake City as the Church has spent building all of the temples on earth combined. Think about that. For the price of a shopping mall, we could have doubled the number of temples.
But at least the well-off in Salt Lake City now have someplace to shop downtown. (And for those with a cool half-million or more, a place to sleep and entertain.)

Denver Snuffer has claimed to met Christ, face to face. Now others have come forward and confirmed his words, adding their witnesses and their testimonies.

I know we're busy, involved, "actively engaged" and doing other things. But are we coming unto Christ?

Nothing else matters. (And anything else can become a great stumbling block to us.) You are one of the "stalwarts", one of the great people I look up to in this Church. I know of no finer example than you and your husband. You've raised righteous children and defended the faith at all perils and at all costs.

But I'm, I know...we have "missed the mark" with regard to coming unto Christ. Are any of us actively "looking for true messengers" to prepare us to enter into Christ's presence? And are any of us actually coming unto Christ and physically embracing Him at the veil? Are any of us being introduced to the Father by Christ? 
Anyone? Do you know anyone?

I do.

But if we, personally, aren't experiencing these things -- or if we're not headed that way -- we're "missing the mark". It won't matter how often Jesus meets with the Brethren on Thursday mornings or how great our Church is. We will perish if we don't come unto Christ. "Today" is the time allotted to perform our labors.

(It is no coincidence that the talks given in Church last Sunday were on "Priesthood" and "Jesus Christ", two subjects we as a people are weakest in understanding. Unfortunately, those talks barely scratched the surface of the truth.)

Well, this got the bishop's attention. (The _____'s have never responded to anything I've written them. Neither did Bro. _____. Curious. At least I now know how little they regard me. I am nothing to them.) The bishop wrote:
Hi Will, 
You have now sent me several emails with this general theme. While I don't have time to write a lengthy response, I realize that this is a concern for you and I would like to meet with you to discuss. I have some time tomorrow in the evening around 6:30 while I am doing interviews or on Sunday. What day would work best? 
Sent from my iPhone
I tried to compose as terse a reply as possible:
Dear Bishop, 
I just realized I was baptized 36 years ago today! 
My email was not intended to be a "plea for help", nor to elicit counsel nor to invite discussion. (Please, not another "discussion"!) It was simply intended to inform. 
If you feel disinclined to communicate about these things in writing, please don't trouble yourself further. 
Best wishes.
Then last March (2014) I passionately testified in Sunday School that Lot was a righteous man, contradicting the assertions of the instructor. A back-and-forth email exchange ensued between the instructor and me, prompting first this post and then that one, demonstrating that the Lord Himself vouched for Lot's fidelity and faithfulness. This culminated in a final statement from the teacher:
Lot chose to move his family into Sodom. David J. Ridges in The Old Testament Made Easier states, “Lot’s pitching his tent toward Sodom implies that Lot’s heart was inclined toward the wickedness in Sodom.” He also states, “One of the major messages Moses (the writer of Genesis) is pointing out to us here is the difference the thoughts and desires of our hearts make. He is emphasizing Lot as an example of one who may not participate directly in evil, but derives satisfaction in watching it.” 
In the book, Verse by Verse, The Old Testament: V1, by Andrew C. Skinner, D. Kelly Ogden, it states, “Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, and later dwelt in Sodom. That decision cost him his family.” It further states, “The lesson seems clear: choose the higher ground to avoid evil. Don’t pitch your tent toward Sodom—don’t even approach the evil. Lot’s daughters later committed gross immorality. And when did they learn that kind of behavior? Probably when their father pitched his tent toward Sodom." 
Any further email on this topic will go unread.
Nephi prophesied that the people and their priests who claimed to belong to the Lord's true church would, in the last days, "teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance." (2 Nephi 28:4). I responded to this well-meaning instructor thusly:
Since these words will go unread, you will not take offense. 
Apparently you consider David J. Ridges, Andrew C. Skinner, and D. Kelly Ogden higher authorities than Jehovah and Peter to discern between who is “just” and “righteous” and “whose heart is inclined toward the wickedness of Sodom”. Only the most gifted scribe could read Peter's words and transform them into “Lot...may not participate directly in evil, but derives satisfaction in watching it”...and attribute that gross defamation to Moses! 
If I wanted to hear the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, I could attend any congregation. I could read any book. A teacher of righteousness, however, will not close her ears to the truth or blatantly ignore or contradict the word of God. 
You may continue to preach “religion” to these people, but I'm looking for something more. I won't trouble you further.
I can't honestly say that this didn't cause a "disturbance" on Church property!

Exactly one month before I had this exchange, I sent the following email to the same instructor, as well as to several current and former members of the stake presidency, the elders quorum president, the bishop and selected high priests -- all the "stalwarts" in the ward and stake with whom I was familiar:

While I don't agree with everything this blogger writes, I do agree with MUCH of what he says. 
And while his "recommendation" to read "A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon" has been made more forcefully and persuasively elsewhere, I strongly encourage you (the reader) to avail yourself of the opportunity to get on board this weekend and download the books for free, as they become available. 
You will be rewarded for your effort with wider-open eyes and renewed, extended vision, not to mention, greater knowledge. 
--Will Carter 
P.S. Please share this link with other thoughtful students of LDS Church history, whom you believe would appreciate a better understanding of our past and, in particular, the Book of Mormon.
Not one of those I contacted replied, except my bishop, who wrote:
How many people did you send this to?
That was all he wanted to know. Very disturbing, indeed.

The bishop's reaction prompted me to write another email:

Dear Brother Snuffer... 
I haven't been shy about sharing with friends and family my experiences and insights gained by reading your books and blog, Daymon Smith's "A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon", his blog "Mormonism Uncorrelated", Rock Waterman's "Pure Mormonism", Spektator's "Just and True", Log's comments (everywhere), Daniel A. Roger's testimony and Tim Malone's ruminations at "Latter-day Commentary" etc. While I say I don't believe in everything that is published here, I do embrace much of it. What an exciting opportunity to learn and grow! Peeling the scales of mythology, culture, tradition and disbelief from my eyes has been painful, but necessary. I believe I am removing sand to expose bedrock (again). I once believed in -- and expected -- the literal appearance of the Savior, angels, receiving revelation and what have you -- until the Church "correlated" it out of me. I "knew" something was missing. But I had forgotten what it was. 
Until you came along. Then I remembered. What I once knew and experienced. When first I joined the Church. 
I believe I am moving again in the right direction. I believe I am moving! I hope someday to receive what you have received. My testimony of Christ, my confidence in Joseph Smith's prophetic calling and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon remain unshaken. (Indeed, I believe they remain unshakeable!) But my confidence in the Church -- a proven commodity shown to bend and flex with the times, even completely reverse itself under pressure -- is nil. I admire the Church and its leaders. Until recently I was "proud" to be part of her. I feasted on the word of God found in the scriptures, devoured the Ensign and other magazines published by the Church (until they "changed", becoming less "nourishing") and, unwittingly, I embraced her idolatries and false teachings. I still admire her! I want my wife and children -- with myself! -- to continue to be part of her! 
But I don't think the Church will let me. My childhood friends now seem hell-bent on "reclaiming" me -- or forcing me out. They have distanced themselves from me. My bishop called me into his office yesterday to discuss my "march toward apostasy". He let me go with a gentle admonishment, adjuring me to "keep [my] ideas to [my]self within these four walls". 
Today he had a change of heart, however. After "thought and prayer", he wrote me an email, asking me to meet with him again briefly tomorrow evening. This time I expect, at the very least, to be placed on some form of informal probation. (He has already informally discouraged me from speaking in Sunday School or offering my testimony in Sacrament Meeting.) I imagine, at the very least, my temple recommend will be taken away. (So I'm going to take the day off from work and spend the whole day in the temple tomorrow - doing work for my ancestors -- just in case I never get to go again. What a shame! I love the temple!) 
But he read to me this question: "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". "Denver Snuffer" he said, "was excommunicated. Therefore, by definition, the Church does not accept his teachings or practices. He has proposed a new theology! He's going to start his own church, you just watch and see." 
It was one thing (formerly) to ask me if I "affiliate with…or…sympathize with the precepts" of apostates. But now I can't even "agree" with anyone whose views are not "accepted" (and approved) by LDS Leadership...without losing my access to the temple and even my membership in the Church? 
Boy, the Church sure does know how to inspire love and devotion among its membership! Now we must have a "testimony" not only of the (current) "Prophet" but of "official" Church History as well, embracing a creedal catechism! 
I am prepared to lay down my temple recommend on the bishop's desk and walk out. So is my wife. We love the Church! We love what it has done for us and for our seven children! Who will baptize the four youngest now, we wonder. (My wife and I are converts, the only members of our clans.) How will my three sons serve their missions? How can I (or the Church) expect them to attend their meetings and organizations while their own father is censored, discriminated against and vilified for his faith, by the very Church which claims to be the "only true and living…with which…the Lord is well pleased"? 
It's a heart-rending dilemma. (One you have made.) But I made up my mind years ago: I'll follow the truth wherever it leads. 
--Will Carter
The bishop did, indeed, take away my temple recommend the next day. He gave it back, however, after I spoke with him and the stake president for several hours in a later meeting, recounted here and here. But then the stake president apparently received "guidance from on high", including a list of reasons why I should be excommunicated as an apostate. So, a month later, he excommunicated me. Without blinking. I won't bore you with the details.

All these experiences, no doubt, constituted "disturbances on Church property." So I wasn't going to quibble.

That I "violated Church policies" is likewise conceded. When and how I violated them, I don't really know. I assume any sin "violates Church policies" -- so I'm no doubt "guilty". 

Lay it on me.

The claim that I "caused members to fear for their safety" is more problematic. I did indeed sense that some were shocked at first when I showed up, as usual, to clean the chapel after my excommunication. "What's he doing here?" I could practically hear them say to themselves. I used to be the head "cleaning lady" in our ward. Many looked bewildered by my presence, however. "Isn't somebody going to follow him around? How did he get in the building anyway? Shouldn't there be a priesthood holder here to protect us from him? Maybe he'll steal or break something!"

What did they think I was going to do? Clean the toilets without Ajax?

I think I still have the password to get into the building. I bet they haven't changed it yet. (I bet they will now.)

I thought, maybe, they were referring to this matter. Someone in a comment in a prior post suggested maybe I was thought to be a stalker. Fair enough. I can't account for the irrational fears of others. (Like I said, I don't care anymore.) I had one conversation with that woman at which nothing inappropriate was discussed or expressed. (And I had virtually no contact with her elsewhere! She approached me and shook my hand at the ward's recent "trunk or treat" party. That was it.) She invited me to keep in contact with her by text and email, then never responded or reciprocated when I endeavored to do so. I was confused. I felt genuine affection and concern for her -- and wanted to help -- and even tried, but was rebuffed. I was cognizant of my nascent feelings of affection for her, and wrestled with the fact that I was attracted to her. I felt "guilty"! I even confessed that I was worried my apparent feelings for her would compromise the "Christ-like" love I wanted to have for her. 

I confessed that I couldn't help being attracted to her, but I was committed to do my best to work around it, nonetheless. (I should have just "backed away".) My failing to do so was painted as an attempt at lecherous seduction on my part by the bishop. Now people are rallying to my wife's defense, asking her how she is holding up now that her husband has "admitted" committing adultery!

Really? If I committed adultery, it was only in my heart, and that, for maybe a millisecond. I never had any intention (or made any effort) to cheat on my wife. The man who condemns me in this matter dooms himself to a merciless hell.

But at least the bishop now has something "real" with which to accuse me.

You know what? I don't care. Other people are judged for their works. I, apparently, am judged for my words and thoughts. I don't mind. That's the scriptural standard. It was ironic to me, though -- during the last hour of LDS Church I ever attended -- that every adult male and female in that ward not occupied by other callings was gathered to discuss the problem of pornography, a vice by which I am not tempted in the slightest but which, apparently, afflicts so many in the Church. 

And they say I'm an apostate.

There are other ironies. If I revealed the identities of those men in my ward whom I have caught lusting after and attempting to flirt with my wife, openly expressing their fascination with her physique, it would astound and sicken you. You would be shocked! (Not just by what they said, but by who they are!) Men in the Church -- not "nobodies", but men mentioned on occasion here! -- have actually -- to my face! -- said that, were polygamy in play today, they would want my wife to be their second wife! (I guess she gets "second tier" status only so they can claim they still "love" -- and lust after -- their own wives as well.)

For real!

I denounced polygamy and pledged fidelity to the principles of the gospel -- but I'm a cad? Leaders in the LDS Church flirt with my wife and comment about her body parts that they find most sexually attractive -- and they hold status and standing?

You've got to be kidding.

I will never mention their identities. You know why? Because I am human. Because I am a fool. And because I have done much worst than simply lust after other men's wives. I feel grateful to God that He has given me my own that I might not, like Jean Valjean, in Les Miserables, perish with "hunger" and be tempted to "steal" out of necessity. 

But that you might know that I have spoken the truth, I will disclose in full the email I wrote to that woman in question that got me kicked off Church property forever. (Grab your popcorn!) Then you will know that I am a fool and not one to be "followed", but rather a "sinner" worthy of censure.

If for nothing else, the Church banished me worldwide for this email. (Not one word has been changed, added or deleted, except for a few sentences referencing identities I wish to protect, whose inclusion here is not germane to my "perfidy".)
You said you never responded to my texts (when I spoke to you at length at Church two Sundays ago) we "reconnected" and confirmed that you were getting my texts and I yours....then you proceeded to ignore (or not respond) to any of my texts after that, for days...and asked me not to text you any more when I did finally pester you, just looking for any response. (You kind of did that to me the first time. So, apparently, I am not just persistent; I'm a clueless nitwit, too.) 
Then you didn't respond to my email about the book I sent you. 
So I figured you really didn't want to have anything to do with me after all...and were just being polite...because you blew by me at Church last Sunday, saying you had to "go get" your kids...then you said nothing to me as you walked out the front door...even though I was standing right there in front of you...and (as my friend reported to me later), you gave me an "unpleasant look" when I tapped you on the back and said "goodbye".  
I live transparently and wear my emotions on my sleeve. (It's a weakness of mine.) I don't take duplicity well. When people say one thing but do another (I'm not saying you did; I'm just saying it seemed like you did), I get very hurt. I'm a big boy. I can "take" it. But I don't like it.  
I'm "direct" and I appreciate "direct" in return. I give all of me when I do give and I hate being toyed with.
The truth is, _____, I loved you. I still do. (But now I'm "on guard", distrusting, and withdrawn.) I was -- and still am -- committed to helping you, as any man should help a woman on her own with _____. (Believe me, I wish I could "help" more! Use your imagination!) But I don't imagine that you would want -- or have -- my help. My heart is there, nonetheless. Don't ask me why. We "clicked". (At least you did for me!) 
Would I love you the same way if you were an ugly, old, bad-smelling, toothless broad? Probably not. (And that says something about the "quality" of my love...and my commitment.) But we work with what we have. I acknowledge my inclinations...and limitations. I am committed as I can be to seeing that you and yours do not go without. 
In another world, in another culture, in another life...I would have invited you into our home (impulsive as that utterly is!)...and make the best of it! Of course, that's not part of our culture least, not yet! (Who knows what will happen in the future?) 
I love my wife and children. And, I'm sure, my wife loves you -- or she would love...and could love you...if you both were friends. I love -- and genuinely like -- both of you very much. And that says more about you than it does about me. You two have much in common. 
For one, I don't like "fake" people. I don't "relate" well to "fake" people. (I'm assuming you're not a "fake" person.) My wife and I are not "fake" people. We are real, flawed, human, compassionate, needy, serving, loving people. And at least one of us loves you!
Don't ask me why. I don't know myself. Something "quirky" in me, I guess. (No, I'm not "under-" or "over"-sexed, having a mid-life crisis, unhappy in my marriage, etc.) I just love you. 
I know, it's weird. But that's just me. (You joked about "Big Love". I repudiate that show...and polygamy...because the Church has made a mess of it.) But my heart goes out to you. I hurt to see you on your own. (How arrogant of me to presume you would even want to associate with me!) Oh, well, its one of my flaws. I wish you weren't alone. 
Anyway, to be ignored crushes me. (I don't know why.) I can certainly live without you -- and I will! But I wanted you to know that my friendship was sincere, even if you didn't reciprocate. 
That's just who I am.
Would my wife be happy to read this? Probably not. That would be asking too much. And if you haven't responded for that reason, I applaud you. That's why I mentioned you in my blog (tacitly) as one of those people who is helping me be "good". If you're ignoring me because you see me as a lecherous jerk...I apologize and simply wish you the best. If it's a "curse" and a "sin" to find one's self attracted to another, so be it. I'm not pretending otherwise.  
Anyway, you said you didn't understand. Well, I hope you do now. And I hope you'll forgive me if I have misunderstood, overstepped my bounds, have gone astray, misinterpreted you in anyway, or -- in general -- just been a completely clueless clown. Bashful me. I'll just slink off and say "I felt what I felt. I did what I could. I loved with all my heart." I don't regret that. 
But, I will say, you're an easy person for me to love and admire. My heart goes out to you. 
Best wishes. 
That was the sum total of my "affair". You cannot hold it over me any longer. I "confess" my "sin". I had a misguided affair of the heart with a woman who existed only in my own mind. I had virtually no personal interaction with the real woman in question -- other than what you read here -- even though I have known her for several years. She seemed "cool", forthright and down to earth, to me. 

She was cool, alright. (Did I tell you I am an amazingly bad judge of character?)

That's the last time I will ever allow my feelings to get away from me in matters of this sort. I pick up my cross and bear it, joyfully.


The letter I got from the lawyers said I could not come back onto Church property unless I "receive professional counseling as advised by Bishop Risenmay" and "consistently take any medications prescribed by [my] health care provider."

What the heck!

Accusing someone of being psychologically or emotionally unbalanced, requiring psychiatric therapy and psychotropic drugs, is the modern-day equivalent of saying "he hath a devil".

First these guys slap you in the face repeatedly and then they say "Hey, you ought to see a doctor about that!"

My letter to the bishop (scroll down about two-thirds of the way here) -- advising him that banishing me was unnecessary -- was completely ignored or disregarded. The bishop could have withdrawn these restrictions against me himself, for the good of my family, by a simple phone call to the attorneys. 

But he chose not to.

I don't care anymore.

He has done me an enormous favor.

Since the day I was excommunicated, the only thing that kept me in (or around) the LDS Church was my children. My wife and I love them and we seek their eternal welfare. I have an unbreakable testimony of Jesus Christ's divinity, Joseph Smith's prophetic ministry, and the Book of Mormon's veracity. Consequently, I want my children to grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and be associated with like-minded individuals.

We had hopes that this would (still) be possible in the LDS faith.

I saw my sons serving missions, playing football for BYU, raising families in the Church. I saw my daughters marrying righteous men in the temple, serving in honorable capacities, and enjoying the blessings of motherhood as Latter-day Saints.

These dreams and visions were neither quenched nor shattered even after I was excommunicated. I resolved to attend my children's temple weddings while waiting outside -- just as my non-member father had done with me when I got married in the temple. (Twice!) I did not relish the idea of spending the next 18 years sitting quietly in a foyer, pew, or classroom not partaking, not rejoicing, not speaking up or associating with the saints on the same level as any other member. 

But I was willing to do it.

When I was first excommunicated 20 years ago for "unchristianlike conduct" -- a merciful euphemism for being a moral reprobate, breaking under the stress of two failed LDS temple marriages -- nary a week went by that some brother in the faith or leader of the Church didn't invite me to his home for supper with his family after services, or put his arm around me in the hall at Church and inquire sincerely about my welfare, or buoy me up with kind words of comfort and inspired guidance from the scriptures. It was not unusual then for a bishop or stake president to even stop by my house just to see how I was doing, visiting this "non-member" in their midst who, at one time, had labored beside them in the trenches doing missionary work, or stood in the font with them doing baptisms, or had knelt at the alter with them in the temple. I was the "one" for whom they left the "ninety and nine" and came searching.

And they found me.

I had no wife. No children. No life or career to speak of. Almost no hope. I had tried...and failed...and tried...and many times. I knew the gospel was true...but I also knew I wasn't true...and I struggled to make the gospel true in my life.

I was so weak. So needy. So broken. And so alone!

These righteous LDS brethren who valiantly "exercised their priesthood" on my behalf, took me under their wing, loved me and encouraged me and held me up and gave me hope when my hands hung down and I wobbled on feeble knees. These men never gave up on me. Because of them I was able to come back to the faith I betrayed in practice but never abandoned in principle.

I will not tell you how very different the leaders of the LDS Church are today (in this little corner of the world) from what they were then. But they are very, very different.

My children are not spiritually or intellectually sophisticated enough to recognize how, when and where the Mormon Church has gone astray. But even they recognize how spiritually "dead" Mormon meetings are and how vacuous, trite, vain and repetitious are the testimonies and prayers usually offered there. In my home we do not pray and testify, for the most part, like Mormons do. Fortunately, I will never have to listen to them again.

The saints are asleep, spiritually and in the pews.

When I was a member of the LDS Church, I cared. When I was excommunicated, I still cared. Because my wife and children were still in the Church, I cared. I went to Church each Sunday to support them, to transport them, to be there with them and for them, to let them know that, though the Church treated me with disdain and disrespect, I still did not despise or reject the Church or its members.

But once they not only removed my name from their records, but cast me out and forbade me from visiting their property altogether, that changed everything for me. I was no longer obligated to come. Indeed, I was no longer allowed to come! And, quite frankly, no one would blame me for not bringing my family as well.

Only a fool would continue to attend such a church.

The sin be upon the heads of those who have done this, who have violated the Lord's commands again and again and again and again. They are left without excuse.

If one of my little ones falls away into sin because of what they have done, despite all my efforts to ensure otherwise, the sin be upon their heads.

Nevertheless, I ask the Lord to forgive them and hold none of this to their charge.

The Lord has greatly blessed me. He has infused my soul with grace, peace and joy. I have infused my wife and children with my testimony. They know that I know (or, at least, that I am surely and utterly convinced) that the Lord lives and that He has ministered unto me. They know that I believe and have a testimony of these things. They know that I know what is right and what is wrong. And I have raised them accordingly.

The only thing that can break my family now, I think, is if I die too soon to see them to adulthood or if I let them associate with liars and hypocrites who will turn them from the true faith of Christ unto fables and falsehoods, fornication and false religion. I have seen the best and the worst of Mormondom. Among them are the truest of people -- and the most vile and false -- of any I have known on earth. While I cannot tell who are wheat and who are weeds, I can warn my children about false doctrine, false priests who oppress, and false prophets who demand to be followed.

In numerous ways known only to those who "suffer" it, it pained me to go to church each Sunday as an unwilling non-member. (I didn't leave the Church; it left me.)

But my sufferings are now over. It is finished.

The Lord has poured out His Spirit of grace upon me. I have no desire whatsoever to hold a grudge or be angry toward anyone. I freely forgive those who trespassed against me. I sincerely wish the Mormon Church the very best and will continue to rejoice in the company of saints who have shown themselves to be my true friends.