Saturday, January 18, 2020

Nevermind. You Should Be Catholic.

Well well well.  I was wrong.  I’m converting to Catholicism.  You should do that too.

There were many times when I was writing this blog over the years when I thought, “I’m really only trying to convince myself to stay LDS.  I’m trying to rationalize my continued activity in the Church.”  And I think I did a pretty good job of that.  Some of the reasons I listed are pretty good.

But now that I’ve found Catholicism, none of my reasons are good enough.  So I’m leaving.

It took nearly eight years, but it finally dawned on me that my position (staying LDS despite my non-traditional testimony) is not sustainable, generationally speaking.  I tried to imagine myself in the future sending my kids on missions.  I knew the questions were going to come up.  “Dad, do you really believe in the Book of Mormon?”  “Dad, do you really believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet?” “Dad, do you really believe that only temple marriages will last forever?” And, in order to keep the commandment which prohibits lying, I would have to say, “No.  But the Church is still good, so I hope you continue with it.”

Well, look, that answer just isn’t good enough to keep a religion going.  If all the members of the Church had my beliefs, or lack of beliefs, or whatever you wanna call it, the religion might last a generation or two, but probably not three, and certainly not four.  Devotion and fervor and passion and supernatural graces are what fuel religions.

Still, I told myself that I was going to continue staying LDS, and continue staying silent at church, until God opened up another path for me.  And He did open up another path for me, a path that lead straight to the Roman Catholic church.

I’m going to tell you the story of how God led me to Catholicism, but first, I’m going to make a few statements that might get me excommunicated:

The Book of Mormon is fictional.
The First Vision never happened.
The current leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are being deceptive.
Pope Francis is way better than President Nelson. 

And, to support my bold statements, I’m going to put up a link to Mormon Think and a link to the CES letter.  And a link to Catholic Answers.  

I know those statements are going to upset some people, but, hey, sometimes the truth hurts.

And the LDS Church is hurting me!  The lies coming from the LDS Church really hurt me.  I understand that Catholic clergy have lied a lot.  But they don’t lie the way that Catholic leaders lie. Catholic leaders are lying about who they had sex with and what they did with the money.  Mormon leaders are lying about the true nature of God. 

And just last General Conference, President Nelson lied about marriage.  He said that only marriages performed in LDS temples will continue in the next life.  The truth is, no marriages continue into the next life.  This is what our Lord Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 22:30.  

By the way, I’m not going to delete this blog, or even this particular blog post, or change anything I’ve put on this blog in any way at the request of Church leaders.  I live in America, I’m protected by the First Amendment, and I should be able to say whatever I want about religion, which is the most important subject in the world.

OK, OK, OK, now it’s time for me to tell you the story of how I found the true church, the Catholic church.

In Easter of 2019, the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, was on fire.  The images on my computer screen of that beautiful building in flames really moved me.  I almost cried.  It was kind of strange, because I wasn’t Catholic, or French, and I’ve never even been overseas.  There was really no reason why I should be emotionally connected to that building, but the Holy Spirit must have been working in my heart.  

I spent hours researching the history of the Notre Dame cathedral.  I read with great interest the reports of the crown of thorns and other relics being saved from the flames.  And I kept thinking, as the cathedral was burning, “We’re really in danger of losing western civilization.”

See, I do believe that, in a complicated way, America, and much of western civilization, is built on Catholicism.  That’s the thesis of Timothy Gordon’s book, Catholic Republic.  And I believe that the accomplishments of Europe and the British Empire throughout history are largely attributable to Catholicism.  (I understand that the British Empire was mostly Protestant, but Protestantism is the child of Catholicism.) I believe that wherever Catholicism is planted, peace and order prevail.  

I know I’m generalizing a lot, and I’m not a historian or a scholar.  I’m just a blue-collar worker trying to get to Heaven.   

After l learned about the Notre Dame cathedral, I started researching the history and teachings of the Catholic Church, and, gradually, I converted.  It was an intellectual as well as a spiritual conversion.  

I watched a lot of Catholics on YouTube, especially Dr. Taylor Marshall.  He’s a conservative, smart Catholic author, and he has a great YouTube channel.  

I went to a Catholic bookstore, and I bought The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I read a lot of it.  (The theology in there is so good!  Catholic theology is so refreshing.  It’s deep and intellectual and based on Scripture and sacred tradition and etc.!) 

I heard about the rosary on Catholic radio, and also a lot of the Catholic YouTubers talked about the power of the rosary, so I decided to try an experiment.  I decided to buy a rosary, pray the rosary every day, and see what happened in my life.

I heard from Catholic acquaintances that I should get my rosary blessed, so I did.  After mass one Sunday, I asked the priest to bless my rosary, and he did.  He made a cross motion in the air above the rosary as I held it in my hand, and he said some words I don’t remember.  It was good. 

I’ve been praying the rosary daily for about seven or eight months now.  I think I missed one day.  Maybe two. I don’t know.

Praying the rosary felt weird at first.  I’ve never been raised to pray in the Catholic manner.  But I just kept doing it, over and over and over, until it felt familiar.  Now I love it.  I believe my prayers are efficacious.

Last spring, I attended mass, and the first time I went in the church and sat down, I felt good.  I felt like I was in a holy place.  I also felt awkward.  I didn’t know how I was supposed to act. 

I’m talking a lot about my feelings now, but I’ve also come to understand that we shouldn’t rely too much on our emotions.  God gave us brains, and reason and intellect, and we need to use those to determine truth.  

So… I guess this story isn’t very organized, but, yeah, I’m glad I can say now that I believe in the Catholic Church and I consider myself a Catholic.  Technically, I’m not Catholic yet.  Being received into the Church takes a long time.  My first RCIA class is next month.

But my conversion to Catholicism didn’t really start last Easter, when the Notre Dame cathedral was in the news.  Looking back on my life, I can see that, even when I was young, God was calling me into the Church that He founded.  There were at least five times that God called me into Catholicism. 

First Time

When I was a senior in high school, I had a friend invite me to mass and a Catholic youth activity with her.  I said yes, and I went. (By the way, I had a lot of friends in high school who went to other churches, but for whatever reason, she was the only one who ever invited me.  Is that a coincidence?  I no longer believe it is.)

I went to mass, and I thought it seemed a little strange, but nice.  It’s hard to remember that far back.  That was twenty years ago.  But I do remember the youth activity that really touched my heart.  There was a short skit in which a teenage girl knelt down and said her nighttime prayers really fast.  It was the Our Father (Protestants refer to it as “The Lord’s Prayer”).  Then a lady on a microphone, acting like an angel, or acting like God, said, “wait.  Do you realize what you’re saying?  Slow down.” And she explained what the words meant.  The girl said her prayers again, more slowly, and with more faith.  It was a great little play.

Then for the next part of our activity, we were told to all go off by ourselves and write a letter to God.  All the letters were supposed to be put in a time capsule and opened in 10 years, I think.  I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember feeling really close to God at the time.  There was something both therapeutic and holy about writing a private letter to God.  Writing that letter in that setting was perfect for me at that time of my life, when I was a little bit of a rebellious teenager, when my Mom was my early morning seminary teacher, and my Dad was my priesthood quorum advisor, and I felt smothered by the LDS Church. 

After I got home from mass and the activity, my Mom said, “Well, what did you think?”  

I said, “It was really nice.”  

My Mom said, “Well, the Catholic Church might have been nice, but it’s not true.”

Second Time

When I was on a mission, I met a nun.  She was a really happy, nice old lady.  I think she offered my companion and I cookies and juice, which were yummy.  She listened politely to the first discussion.  I remember thinking, “Wow, maybe this lady doesn’t need the LDS Church.  She’s happier than I am. That’s for sure.”

Another time on my mission, my companion and I took a break in a Catholic Church.  The church was open, so we just walked in there and looked around.  I think we were the only ones there.  I felt like I needed to be reverent in that building.  In my head, I believed in the Great Apostasy and I believed that the Catholic Church was the “abominable church, which is the mother of harlots” (1 Nephi 13: 34).  In my head, I believed that the Catholics who die believing in infant baptism were headed for the telestial kingdom, because that’s pretty much what it says in Moroni 8:14.  I had read and believed in The Great Apostasy by James E. Talmage.  That was actually one of the books that missionaries were supposed to read on their missions, when I served from 2002-2004.  

But in my heart, as I looked around at the statues of Jesus and Mary and angels, I felt that the Catholic Church was somehow good. 

I remember in the lobby of the church there was a poster on the wall that said that there was a priest shortage, and if you think God might want you to be a priest, you should call some phone number.

Third Time

In the summer of 2017, I think, my wife and I took a vacation together, without our kids.  We stayed at a bed and breakfast in a small town, and it just so happened that the people who ran the bed and breakfast were Catholic.  My wife and I were looking for things to do, and so we thought, “What the heck?  Why not go to the Catholic Church with these nice old people?” 

So we went, and it was really good.  My favorite part was the homily.  The priest commented on some aspect of Jesus’ life.  I don’t even remember what it was about, but I just remember thinking, “This priest is really smart, and this church service is really focused on God.” I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. 

Fourth Time

This wasn’t a specific event, but, for many years, during my commute to work, I would listen to Catholic Radio.  It was called Immaculate Heart Radio, and now it’s called Relevant Radio. I enjoyed listening to the radio hosts defending their church’s teachings and arguing with people about gay marriage and abortion and other social issues.  And I loved listening to Catholic Answers Live.  On Catholic Answers Live, anybody can call in and challenge the talk show hosts on matters of history and doctrine.  Difficult issues, like the crusades, the Inquisition, limbo, the Marian dogmas, and papal infallibility, are discussed openly and honestly, live, on the radio, for anyone to hear.  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints doesn’t have a radio show like that.  I don’t think they ever will.

Fifth Time 

A long time ago, I read In the Silence of the Heart by Mother Theresa.  I was overwhelmed at how spiritual and righteous Mother Theresa was.  I remember thinking, “It’s too bad that Mother Theresa never found the true church.  Hopefully her temple work has been done for her.” But it didn’t make any sense to me that someone could be so close to God, and yet not be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

During my conversion process, there have been three miracles that have confirmed to me that I’m headed in the right direction.  Skeptics will call these things coincidences, but I think they’re miracles.  They’re not as big of a deal as Moses parting the Red Sea, but, I still think they qualify as miracles.

First Miracle

One Sunday last summer I really wanted to go to mass, and for some reason with the way my family’s schedule worked out, I wanted to leave the LDS church early and go by myself to the Catholic Church.  Our LDS church started at 8, and the Catholic mass was at 9:30.  I taught in a nursery class with another great guy, and I didn’t want to tell him why I was leaving church early.  I also didn’t want to lie.  So, I thought, “if this other guy asks me why I’m leaving church early, I’ll just tell him that there’s a friend from out of town who I really want to see.”  That’s technically not a lie, because my “friend” is Jesus, who is really present in the Eucharist, and Jesus really is from out of town.    

Well, my family got to church, and as soon as we walked in the chapel, we noticed that it was really hot.  It was July, or maybe August, or maybe June.  I can’t remember.  But it was summer, in Arizona, and the air conditioning in the building was broken that day.  Now, in my thirty-six years of church attendance, this has never happened.  So, the bishop stood up at the pulpit at the beginning of sacrament meeting and said something like, "As you can tell, the air conditioning is broken, so we’re going to modify church today.  It’s going to be really short.  We’re not going to have any talks.  We’re just going to sing two hymns, partake of the sacrament, and then go to our separate Sunday school classes.  The Sunday school classes will be shorter, as well, so we’ll wrap up church entirely in an hour.”  

Holy cow!  I looked at my wife and said, “Do you think this is a sign from God?”  

And she said, “It’s not not a sign.”  We were amazed.

I had plenty of time to get to mass that day.

Second Miracle

About two months ago, I wanted a cross necklace, and so I did the normal thing, I looked on Amazon.  I wanted it to be Catholic-looking, and I wanted it to be masculine, and I wanted it to have an adjustable chain, so I could wear it like a choker if I wanted to, and I wanted it to be inexpensive.  I spent a lot of time scrolling through Amazon and various Catholic websites, but I couldn’t settle on one.

Then, a few days later, my wife had me drive thirty minutes away to go pick up a scooter off of Facebook Marketplace.  It was a Christmas present for one of our kids.  As I was driving there, I remembered that there was a Catholic bookstore very close to the house with the scooter.  So, I decided to buy myself a Christmas present.  I went into the Catholic bookstore and found the prefect necklace.  It was exactly what I wanted.  I’m wearing it in the photo of me that I posted below.

Later my wife told me that we could have gotten a brand new scooter shipped to us from Amazon for only three more dollars, so she regretted me driving all that way just for a scooter.  So it was a funny coincidence (or was it a miracle?) that the house with the scooter was so close to the Catholic bookstore.

Third Miracle

I hesitate to use the word “miracle” to describe this next anecdote, but… whatever. The timing of this story is just bizarre.  I choose to believe that these events were orchestrated by God.

During the seven years I attended church without a traditional testimony, I was in Primary.  Primary is actually a good place for Mormons with non-traditional testimonies, because they don’t have to sit through Sunday school.  My attitude in Primary was, “I don’t mind teaching these kids about Santa Claus, so why should I mind teaching them about the Brother of Jared?” 

During 2019, I taught nursery. Near the end of the year, my companion teacher got released, and so my wife was in there with me for a little while until they could call somebody else.  But then what happened is 2019 turned into 2020, and there were fewer kids in nursery altogether.  The Primary Presidency decided to combine nursery classes, so that there was only one class instead of two.  So, I wasn’t released, technically, but, basically I didn’t have anything to do.  It was as if God was telling me, “It’s OK.  You can leave the LDS church.”

I only made one New Year’s Resolution this year, and this is it: Be Catholic. And it's just funny that at the start of the new year, the LDS church stopped asking me to serve in a calling.  Starting on January 1st, when the nursery classes were rearranged, I was no longer responsible for showing up to teach a nursery class.

As I leave the church, I want to say a few parting words.

I know the news that I’m Catholic will seem sudden to some people.  But my conversion was not at all like Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.  It didn’t happen overnight.  My conversion took years.  I’m making this change only after much prayer and study.

I want to say that I will always be thankful to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The Church has given me so much.  It’s given me a fear of God, and in a way I feel that it’s given me my wife and kids and my job.  (I heard about my job through people at church.)

And so as I change religions, I’m not doing so in anger.  Sometimes my wife says that when I talk about the church, I sound angry.  Well, I'm sorry if I sound angry.  But my emotions aren’t that big of a deal anyway.  In my mind, the big questions are: “Did Joseph Smith really have the First Vision?  Is the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham true?  Does the LDS church really have the priesthood authority it claims to have?”

Other important questions are “Is the Catholic Church true?  Did Jesus really rise from the dead?  Was Jesus God in the flesh? How should we live our lives?  How do we get to Heaven?  How do we avoid Hell?”  

You know what question is not very important, in the grand scheme of things? “How does misterfake371 feel about the church?"

The truth is way more important than how we feel about the truth.

Again, I want to say thank you to the LDS Church for all the great things it’s done for me.  I still love the hymns, and Family Home Evening, the stories of my faithful and brave pioneer ancestors.  I’m thankful that the teachings of the Church kept me off of drugs, out of jail, and so on.  There were many, many times in my life when God was working through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Read my older posts.  I still agree with most of what I wrote in them.  But I was wrong about reason # 16: “None of the Other Churches Are True, Either.”

In short, I hope we can still be friends.

Where am I right now?  Technically I’m still a member of the LDS church in good standing. Maybe this post will change that, though.  I'm going to post it anyway.  I’m tired of staying quiet about my beliefs, so if I get excommunicated for this post, so be it.  And I’m tired of being anonymous.  So I’ll say that my real name is Ben and this is a picture of me:

Transitioning from Mormon to Catholic is incredibly difficult.  It might be the biggest change I’ll go through in my life.  I’ve had so many hard emotional times during this process.  I know I’m breaking a lot of hearts and I’m confusing my kids.  I know I’m going to lose friends, and that my reputation will be damaged, but I have to be brave and put my trust in God, and follow Him where he leads me.

But as hard as my faith transition is, it’s nowhere nearly as hard as it was for Christian converts in 200 AD in the Roman Empire.  Those guys had real faith.  They knew that converting to Catholicism put their lives at risk.  They were thrown into a dirty arena with hungry lions. 

Modern Americans don’t have enough respect for what the early Christians went through. (And the early Christians were Catholics, by the way, not Protestants.)  We take it for granted that we can go to whatever church we want without being persecuted.  To get some perspective, we should read about the Christian martyrs.  I’ll quote here from The History of the Church by Eusebius, the Penguin Classics version, page 211, under the heading “Martys who suffered at Alexandria and elsewhere”:

First they seized an old man named Metras, and ordered him to utter blasphemous words; when he refused, they beat him with cudgels, drove pointed reeds into his face and eyes, took him to the suburbs, and stoned him to death.  Next they took a female convert named Quinta to the idol’s temple and tried to make her worship.  When she turned her back in disgust they tied her feet and dragged her right through the city over the rough paved road, bumping her on the great stones and beating her as they went, till they arrived at the same place, where they stoned her to death… Next they seized the wonderful old lady Apollonia, battered her till they knocked out all her teeth, built a pyre in front of the city, and threatened to burn her alive unless she repeated after them their heathen incantations.  She asked for breathing-space, and when they released her, jumped without hesitation into the fire and was burnt to ashes.  Serapion they arrested in his own house.  They racked him with horrible tortures and broke all his limbs, then threw him down head first from the upper floor.  

Compared to these early Christians, I’m a coward.

I’m so grateful that I don’t have to face persecution for my conversion.  I’m glad to be part of a community that believes, “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.  Let them worship how, where, and what they may.”

Oh yeah, I have some other big news.  My wife is pregnant again.  

Some people have asked us what we’re having, and I say, “Well, it’s still pretty early on in the pregnancy, so we don’t know yet if the baby is going to be Mormon or Catholic.” 

Ha ha ha!

Whether the baby is Mormon or Catholic, he or she will bring my baby total up to five.

In conclusion, I hope this blog has helped you on your journey towards God.  And, I do think you should be Catholic.  I'm serious about that. I think the whole world should be Catholic. 

To aid in the conversion of the world, I often recite the following prayer, which I found in a book called Catholic Prayers Compiled from Traditional Sources by Thomas A. Nelson.

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe For the Conversion of the Americas and of the World

O Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who as Our Lady of Guadalupe didst aid in the conversion of Mexico from paganism in a most miraculous way, we now beseech thee to bring about in these our times the early conversion of our modern world from its present neo-paganism to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of thy divine Son, Jesus Christ, starting in the Americas and extending throughout the whole world, so that soon there may be truly “one fold and one shepherd,” with all governments recognizing the region of thy Son, Jesus Christ the King.  This we ask of the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ His Son Our Lord and by thy powerful intercession-all for the salvation of souls, the triumph of the Church and peace in the world.  Amen.
See you later.

Friday, February 23, 2018

# 69: The Church Gave Me My Family

I love my family so much.  I love them soooooo soooooo much.  I can’t explain to you how much I love my wife and four kids.  They really are the joy of my life. 

I often wish I had more close friends, but close friendships are hard for me to maintain.  But despite my lack of friends, I live a happy life, because my wife is my best friend, and my kids are my friends, too.  We talk together and we play together and we spend time together.  My family keeps me from being lonely. 

I love coming home from work and seeing my young daughters run up to me.  They’re so happy to see me!  On numerous occasions, I’ve gotten home from work and my daughters have literally sang this song to me: 

“I’m so glad when Daddy comes home, 
Glad as I can be.  
Clap my hands and shout for joy, 
Then climb upon his knee, 
Put my arms around his neck, 
Hug him tight like this,
Pat his cheeks, then give him what?  
A great big kiss.”

And they hug me and kiss me!  It’s the sweetest thing in the world.  If I’ve had a stressful day at work, or if I’m feeling like a loser because I don’t make enough money or I haven’t achieved enough in my life, and then my daughters sing me that song, well, it makes me feel swell.  

And I love my wife!  She’s hardworking, beautiful, friendly, self-sacrificial, and Christlike! I’m so blessed to have her in my life.  I don’t deserve her.  I’m not entitled to her.  I realize that our marriage takes effort.  I’m going to do what I can to make sure that our marriage lasts for the rest of our lives.  My wife and I got sealed in the temple, so maybe that means our marriage is eternal.  I don’t know.  (What happens in the afterlife is so out of my range of thinking.  I believe that the next world will be better than this world… but maybe it won’t be.  I guess the next world will be much worse for really really bad sinners, but… really have no idea… and I’m okay with that.)

So I often think to myself: where did my family come from?  How did I get my family? 

And the answer is: I got my family from religion.  

I don’t think I’m naturally the type of guy to settle down.  I’m not naturally inclined to be faithful to one woman.  Pornography tempts me.  

Men, and maybe women, are not naturally monogamous.  There’s a book called Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships.  Have you heard of it?  I haven’t read it, but my agnostic sister read it and she recommended it to me.  Basically the thesis of the book is that we evolved as a human species to have lots of sex with lots of different people.  The book argues that monogamy is a relatively recent phenomenon, and that it usually doesn’t work out very well.

I don’t need a book to tell me that I want to have lots of sex with lots of different people.  That’s something I’ve known since I was a sexually-frustrated teenager.

I wrote a poem about what happens sometimes when I see a pretty lady:


Don’t get me wrong, babe.
I don’t go looking for beautiful women
to look at.  It’s not like 
I bring binoculars to the beach.

But if I happen to see
a foxy woman, and she’s 
weighing mushrooms or feeling cucumbers
when I’m shopping at the store,
well then, yes, I confess,
I want to look some more.

I’m not a sexual deviant.  I’m normal.  I’m natural.  I’m acknowledging the truth that men have natural desires to spread their seed all over the planet.  

But what does the Book of Mormon teach about being “natural”?  Mosiah 3:19.  “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putters off the natural man, and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…”

Sexual desires need to be curtailed, or civilization would collapse.  Can you imagine what the world would be like if all the adults were having orgies all the time?  

Close your eyes and imagine orgies.  (OK, now stop imagining orgies!  Now you’re sinning in your mind!)

But really, what would happen if everyone acted on their extra-marital lustful desires? First of all, we’d all have sexually transmitted diseases.  Second of all, most traditional families wouldn’t survive.  Kids would cry.  Third of all, it would be hard to tell what kid belonged to who.

So, we need religion to discipline ourselves.  Our sexual desires need to be conquered.  It’s a tough fight, but it’s a fight that needs to be waged.

The Church taught me that I shouldn’t have sex until I was married.  I really really wanted to have sex, so… I got married.  After I got married, I had sex, which produced children.  I’ve been married for 11 years now, and I have four kids, and let me tell you: it’s awesome.  Families are awesome.  Families are what life is all about.

So, even though Joseph Smith exaggerated a lot, I’m staying LDS for the sixty-ninth reason:  The Church Gave Me My Family.

Monday, February 19, 2018

# 68: I'm STILL Still Around

I just realized it's been a year since I've written on this blog.  My my, time flies, doesn't it?  So hello again!

When I first had my faith crisis in 2012, I spent hours and hours and hours every week online, researching forbidden church topics and chatting with people on the disaffected Mormon underground.  But now I don't.  These days, I spend basically no time at all online dealing with thorny church issues.

If we're serious about staying LDS (even though we don't believe in the Church anymore) then it's a good idea to just back away from the computer, back away from the phone, stop going to Mormon Stories, stop going to Mormon Think, stop going to Feminist Mormon Housewives, stop listening to podcasts, and etc.  Some of the those websites just radicalize you and infuriate you.  They have their time and their place, but maybe that time is not now, and maybe that place is not here.

So, some of you may be wondering what I've been up to for the past year.  Well... I'm still active.  I still live in the same house, work at the same job, and have the same wife and kids.  Except now I have a new son, which is great.  He was born last September.  That brings my kid total up to four.

I still attend church every Sunday.  I sit in the pew and sing the songs.  I home teach.  I pay tithing.  I teach a Primary class.  I don't attend the temple much, even though there's one close by, but I have a temple recommend.  I baptized my daughter last September and I blessed my newborn son in January.

Do you want to know anything else about my life?  I'd like to know about your life!  Tell me about your life in the comments below!

Oh yeah, there's another big update in my life.  I want more money.  I'm not poor... but... well... I'm kinda poor, honestly.  Multiplying and replenishing the earth isn't free, you know.

I know there's some of you out there with a lot of money.  Maybe you have even more money now because you don't have that expensive tithing bill to pay.  LOL.  No, but seriously, if what I've written on this blog has helped you, or if you're just feeling generous, then consider making a donation.  Any amount, however small, helps.  And if you donate, that will encourage me to write on this blog more regularly.

So, I set up a PayPal thing... (or I will in the next few days, when I figure out how to do it) so you can give me money.  Just click on it and send me any amount of money you're comfortable with.  I promise I'll be just as transparent about what I do with the money as the Church is.

Seriously, your donation will help me pay my bills, feed and house my kids, etc.  Again, I don't want to sound desperate.  I'm not desperate.  Just recently I've been thinking though that's there's nothing wrong with asking for a few dollars in exchange for all the work I've put into this blog.

Also, I put up ads.  I hope you don't mind.  Just ignore them.

Thank you so much.

Also, one commenter asked if I have an email address, and... yes I do!  It's  So if you want to discuss things privately, email me and I'll email you back.  It might take me a long time to reply, though.

OK I think that's everything.  See you later!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

# 67: I'm Still Around

Hello, I haven't written on this blog for a long time, so I thought I would... uh... write on it again.

I've been staying LDS for five years now.  Every year that goes by I think, "wow, I can't believe it's been another year since I lost my testimony."  It feels kind of like a wedding anniversary.

Maybe this blog is getting repetitive.  Maybe this blog is getting repetitive, but I just wanna say generally that the Church is mostly good and it does a lot of good things and I like the Church and etc.

And I love Jesus Christ!  And I love a lot of the people at church!  And I've learned how to keep my mouth shut!

And sometimes keeping your mouth shut is the right thing to do!  There are secrets that ought to be kept and truths that ought not to be told, for wise reasons.  The CIA, for example, needs to keep confidential information confidential.  It's a national security issue.

Anyway... I've thought a lot about staying LDS, and I've prayed about it, and I've remained active for five years now and... I'm here to tell you about it!

Oh yeah, you wanna hear some other good news?  My wife is pregnant!  She's due in September 2017.  We have three daughters right now, ages 7, 4 and 1.

So... this post is short... but... uh... I just wanted to stop in and say hi.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

# 66: HEFY

Sorry my picture today is sloppy.  It's supposed to be two LDS teenagers on a humanitarian mission, building a school.  They're wearing hardhats.  One teenage girl is using a shovel.  The hearts on their shirts represent the Christ-like love they feel toward the people they serve.  The brick wall in the far left of the picture represents the secure environment in which the faithful teens labor.

There are many other symbols in this picture, the meanings of which ought not to be revealed at this time, but if the Gentiles can discover their meanings through study, then so be it.  Just kidding.  Ha ha ha.

And sorry I'm starting my post with an apology.  LOL.  I'd love to write on this blog more.  I have lots of ideas for more reasons to stay LDS, and I'll write them down whenever I get around to it.  So stay tuned!

Did I mention I'm doing this blog for free, in my free time, which I have very little of, and I'm offering it to you for free?  I hope you appreciate what I do for you.  I could be sleeping, you know.  Or I could be watching Master Chef.  I've missed a lot of episodes lately, and I really like Master Chef.

Or I could be making myself a burrito with some of those yummy food storage beans.

Instead I'm sitting at my computer, slaving away at the keyboard, ALL FOR YOU!!!

OK, OK, less about me, more about HEFY...

A few months ago I went to a family reunion and one of my cousins talked about how she went to EFY during the summer, but it wasn't exactly EFY... it had and "H" in front of it, so it was HEFY, which stands for Humanitarian Experience for Youth.  Well, my cousin went to some third world country and built a school or an orphanage or something like that.  She's a really nice girl and it sounded really nice.  I think she got teary-eyed when she described how her love of the Savior and her love of humanity grew during her HEFY experience.

I had never heard of HEFY before, but it sounded a heck of a lot more productive than listening to John Bytheway make corny jokes and suffering through awkward church dances, which is what they do at EFY.

And then tonight I googled stuff and found the HEFY website, and their website looks just great.

HEFY isn't the type of thing that gets a lot of press.  It's not controversial.  There's probably been a hundred articles in the media in the last few years about the Church possibly withdrawing from the Boy Scouts of America due to all the gay drama.  But how many articles have you come across about HEFY?

Oh, I should mention that HEFY is not an official Church thing, but it's done by all LDS people, so it's safe to say that HEFY is the child of the modern LDS culture.

HEFY is great for Mormons with non-traditional testimonies, because it's all about Christlike service.  It's not about indoctrination or proselyting or the trivial aspects of Mormonism or anything like that.

I think the mission and actions of the HEFY participants are very closely aligned with the mission and actions of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  In that regard, it's a lot like, which is another great thing that the Church has done.

If you stay LDS, you'll continue to be a part of a loving community that acts on its altruistic instincts, as demonstrated by the existence of HEFY.  You'll continue to be around good people, and you'll continue to participate in blessing the Earth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

# 65: The Stone Has Been Shown!

Ladies and gentlemen, have you heard the news?  The stone has been shown!  What stone?  The seer stone!  The very same seer stone that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon!

Maybe you've never heard of the seer stone before.  Let me enlighten you:  Joseph Smith didn't really use the golden plates in the translation process.  That's probably what you learned in Seminary or Sunday School when you were a kid.  That's how I learned it.  I learned that Joseph Smith looked at the golden plates for a long time and prayed a lot until he was miraculously fluent in Reformed Egyptian.  Then, Joseph Smith read out loud from the golden plates, line by line, to a scribe, who wrote it down.

Well... it turns out that that version of the story was pretty much bogus.  It turns out that there are several eyewitnesses who describe the real "translation" process, and I use the word "translation" loosely.  The real translation process went something like this: Joseph Smith put a stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, deep into the hat.  He looked into the darkness, and then spoke the words to a scribe, who then wrote the words down.

And what exactly was Joseph Smith seeing when he looked into his hat?  That's a question that no one can accurately answer.  In my opinion, he wasn't seeing anything but darkness, a rock, and a hat.

For more information on Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon, click here.

And, for a more faithful perspective, read the Church's essay about the Book of Mormon translation.

So, the big news is, the Church has had this seer stone locked away in a vault for probably about 180 years, but now it's finally been taken out, photographed and posted on the Internet, for all the world to see.  This is a step in the right direction.  This is a move towards transparency.  I applaud the Church for holding a press conference and showing a picture of the seer stone.

(Well, it's one of the seer stones.  I think Joseph Smith used a few of them, but this seems to be the most important one.  Let's not get bogged down in details.)

You should stay LDS because the Church is trying to be more open about its history.  If you feel lied to, take comfort in today's news.  Take comfort in the fact that the Church is taking steps to correct the mistakes they've made.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

# 64: Rosemary M. Wixom! Primary General President!

This morning I went to just to see what was on there, and wow!  Front and center, there was a link to the general conference talk, "Returning to Faith" by Rosemary M. Wixom, the Primary General President.  The link had a picture of a sad-looking middle-class white lady in her thirties, which is pretty much an accurate representative sample of Mormons who lose their faith these days, and the lady was sitting alone in her room, gazing towards a window.  And the picture has a caption that says, "Afraid You're Losing Your Faith?  Focus on What You Know."  I feel for this lady!  Ha!  I know she's just a model, but if she was a real person, I would probably say something like, "You don't need to sit alone in your house and look longingly through windows, agonizing about anachronisms in the Book of Mormon!  Just don your Pioneer Day garb and bake whole wheat bread!"

Anyway... you should go read this talk.  It's great.

Sister Wixom is the sixty-fourth reason to stay LDS!

Oh and by the way, I just had another baby.  Well, my wife had the baby.  LOL.  So now I've got three daughters, and my life is kind of busy and blah blah blah, so, I have not written as much on here as I'd like, but I want you to know that I'm still around.  I still have faith in Jesus Christ and I believe that the LDS Church is a good Christian Church.  As crazy as it sounds, I believe I have been divinely inspired to stay LDS.

I was a young men's secretary for about a year or two, but about two months ago I got released from that and now I teach a Primary class.  It's a great calling and I'm excited to show the love of God to the little ones in my class each and every Sunday.

Take care.