The Passion

Passion.

The bulk of my family is trapped in a cult and I have been passionate in my efforts to extract them! If you’ve followed my story, you know this cult to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was once trapped, as well. Unlike my trapped family, the Church ejected me.

And I became free.

And my passion burned hot. I would show my family the way out! Free them.

But they don’t want to be out.

In spite of any evidence contrary to Church beliefs and teachings, in spite of historical problems, in spite of current bigotry, they want to believe. They choose this belief system instead of the tons of contrary evidence, in spite of bigotry.

So be it. They can have it.

My passion has been quelled.

But I will remain and be available when those niggling, pesky questions come up. This Age of Information almost guarantees the questions.

Almost.

Three Year Anniversary

March 31, 2016 was the date I was excommunicated from the Mormon Church. I will refer to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Mormon because I wish to. Being an apostate anyway, why should it matter to me what the cult wishes to call itself? Mormon it is, then.

Being an apostate, Mormons might ask how could I possibly succeed in life and be happy when I have been forcefully ejected by the One True Church? Where will I find my guidance. My morals?

How could I not!!

I no longer view life throught magical spectacles. I do not think in a magical manner. Priesthood is not a power. God has never been proven to exist. Prophets speak for themselves.

So, my brain working with my human emotions, the latter always being tempered by the former, will do nicely. And I have already experienced success and am as happy if not happier than at any time in my life.

No

Church

Necessary

Is a Myth as Good as a Mile?

Which makes more sense?

The mythology contained in the revered collection called the Bible (Adam and Eve, global flood, people living centuries, creation, people conversing with non-humans, talking animals, miracles, virgin birth, resucitation of the dead, god with human attributes, etc., etc., etc.). All in 6000 years, or so.

Or, billions of years of evolution and all that goes with it.

Which makes more sense will depend on one’s biases. The first, for most of my life, made more sense as a member of a Christian sect called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose current leadership is trying to steer clear of a very long term nickname. Mormon. Maybe you know of them?

They excommunicated me for apostate behavior. Essentially, for making a single Facebook post January 31, 2016. The subsequent excommunication was March 31, 2016. Story here.

Since then, my overall viewpoint has experienced a dramatic shift. The shift was augmented and supported by reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari.

So, the second scenario makes sense to me now. I’ll take reality over the comfortable myth, every time. No god or gods required.

And religions are a leftover from mankind’s infancy.

Me

I am the man in the mirror and I like what I see. I approve.

There are flaws, yes. They give the man in the mirror character. They give him work to do on himself. But the work in progress, overall, is good.

That man in the mirror smiles.

Apostate Behavior: Chapter 11 A Backward Glance

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

What have I learned?

1) Steer clear of narcissists.

2) Seek fidelity in others.

3) Be faithful (non religious context) to others.

4) Find a friend in your spouse.

5) Be a friend to your spouse.

6) Eschew religion.

7) Think critically.

Odds and ends (from my perspective, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)):

1) After a shift in view, from religious to secular, and realizing your family members still remain in the clutches of a cult, don’t be too vigorous in your efforts to deprogram them! The Backfire Effect is real!

2) Gentle discussion and Socratic questioning may avoid the Backfire Effect and promote better, more loving, discussion.

3) Have patience. Loved ones in a cult are not easily removed. It will take time.

4) My own mistakes and missteps in my first marriage and second relationship have left scars on some family members, particularly those involved and some close in relationship. Patience may win them over but they may also choose to hang on to their scars. I will let them. It’s no longer my problem but theirs.

5) Be honest. Have personal integrity.

6) Love.

7) There is nothing inherently wrong with Apostate Behavior. Religion is, ultimately, a leftover from humanity’s childhood. Adulthood (apostate behavior) is preferable.

Apostate Behavior: Chapter 10 Rebirth’s Stuttering Steps

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

Redemption. Rebirth. A new start.

Call it what you will.

A compatible spouse can make a world of difference. I am the common denominator in two marriages. Moreover, I am the common denominator in three relationships. I lived with a woman between marriages. This relationship brought my youngest daughter into being, for whom I am grateful and who I love, along with my other 5 living children.

It also was the cause for my first excommunication. My Stake President said there were mitigating circumstances for my “acting out” behaviors in my first marriage, due to my struggles with a spouse with narcissistic attributes, but my refusal to break off my growing relationship with a new woman to whom I was not married (I had split with my wife by this time and was pursuing divorce) was certainly cause for excommunication. And so I was excommunicated, for adultery.

Kind of a nasty word, adultery.

So, expanding on my last Chapter and offering more clarity into the murkiest part of my life, I was married 12 years (6 children, 5 living), lived “in sin” (religious definition) for a couple years (1 child), then remarried “in the Faith” one month after rebaptism (no children). And I was the common denominator in the relationships.

I was the same man but did I behave differently in each of the three relationships? Indeed I did!

Marriage to a controlling woman whose favor I was seldom able to gain (my perspective, of course) brought out the worst in me. Living with a free spirit had its perks but carried a lack of commitment. That relationship broke down in my learning of several of her infidelities. I say “infidelities” because I was committed and thought she was, too. My misunderstanding of free spiritedness!

Eventually, after getting acquainted, mostly long distance, I got to know the woman who became my second wife, third relationship. We had become best of friends. This, prior to treading the path of romance.

This last brought out the real, and best, me. It seems I dislike being controlled. I am no longer. It seems I value fidelity. I now have that.

Being married to my best friend is the best scenario I can imagine! It has worked for over 27 years by this writing. I can’t imagine it NOT working for the rest of life.

Even though she and I married “in the Faith” and I have since been excommunicated for Apostate Behavior, or marriage is solid. It seems she loves me for who I am, really am, and I love her for who she is, really is.

That makes all the difference in the world!

I am grateful.

Apostate Behavior: Chapter 9 Life, the Universe, and Everything

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

Hang on. This will be a fast trip! There will be a lot said and unsaid.

I was a fifth year Senior in college with a young, growing family. First, a son. Then my first daughter and second child was born 16 weeks too early and lived only 6 hard fought hours. School, by then, became a lower priority. I left with 6 credit hours short of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with minors in Accounting, Economics, Computer Science, and Spanish so I could find work to support the family. Life was handing me a lot to handle and I was not handling it all very well.

I burned out.

With a spouse who had (still has) narcissistic traits and saw me as someone moldable to her mental image/ideal, life was not ideal. After 12 years of marriage, 6 kids (5 living), I was very, very near a breaking point. Along the way, my mental and emotional states were betraying me and I did things of which I am certainly not proud, one of these things sent me to jail (2 weeks with work release). My boss got wind and I lost my job. The inner darkness was so complete I attempted suicide. I admit it was half-hearted and, obviously, it failed.

Life was unraveling. I was failing. I couldn’t take it anymore.

But I managed to pull myself up and I struggled along, changing my career path, doubling down religiously, doing what I thought would make things better.

Again, after 12 years of marriage, the Faith I was brought up in confirmed my failure. I was excommunicated, divorced, and lost another job, all in the same month. Details? To painful to discuss publicly. One on one, I might open up but there really would have to be a purpose in the asking. Suffice it to say that if Hell existed, I made the trip.

Like a dog to it’s vomit, as the expression goes, a little over two years away from the family Faith did not enlighten me enough to stay out after the excommunication. I was rebaptized. I recommitted myself to living that Faith fully.

And I remarried.

The Angry Still Apostate

While “repenting” my decision to delete my FB account (too much of my history is there, too much of my journey out of Mormonism and then religion in general), this did not assuage my anger. Family should understand their hypocrisy. WWJD? Certainly not what they’ve chosen to do.

Another very good reason to never trust Jesus. Another good reason not to believe he existed, at least not as believers believe him to be today.

Mormons. Judgemental. Holier than thou. Passive aggressive. Behaving just as poorly as I am now.

But I’m angry, for the moment. It will pass. The lesson has been learned. Respect for my family’s feelings will come as they begin to respect mine.

The Angry Apostate

Today I will delete my Facebook account. I ranted to family last night. It was, quite understandably, poorly received. Research the Backfire effect for the reason why.

I knowingly ranted. Why? Censure. I’ve been effectively censured by family. For three years. I’m emotionally full to busting!

And now I have gone from just an Apostate (or “that” Apostate) to a damn, rabidly ANGRY Apostate.

So, right now my account data is being collected into a file I will download. Once that file is downloaded, my account will be deleted.

I need time to emotionally heal.

Apostate Behavior: Chapter 8 Transition

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

How does one transition from two years “serving god” to the everyday routines of life? Every Mormon missionary has to do it upon returning home. Before leaving, the Mission President reinforces the idea that the returning missionary should maintain scriptural study habits, prayer, and being a member missionary. At home, the Stake President does the same. Both encourage marriage and place education/work as much less important in life.

This can mess up a young person. Big time. It did me but I didn’t realize it until much later, when consequences were larger. I’ll mention some things now but will explain more fully in a later chapter.

What did I do, after the mission?

I needed money for school. My parents had probably sacrificed a lot of money, just for the mission, so it behooved me to find work fast. Coming home in April meant the rest of Spring and all of Summer could be dedicated to work to earn that money.

But then there was the girl. She did not “wait” for me the two years I was gone but had attended BYU and spent one semester at BYU Hawaii. She was still unattached and we began to date.

A friend of mine from the Chicago area, who I’ve mentioned prior, also had a sweetheart and he was freshly returned from his mission, so we four went on a few double dates. He was head over heels over his girl and I was falling for mine. She was the first girl I ever dated seriously. I should have let that relationship run its course and either end or mature, to be able to gain experience with dating other women or to better know this girl.

But the Church puts pressure on RM’s (returned missionaries) to get married ASAP. I was dutiful. My girl seemed a lot of fun and we got along well so, feeling “the Spirit” confirming a suitable choice (yeah, more likely confirmation bias coupled with hormones), I proposed. She accepted. After we divorced twelve years later, I discovered through a third party (reliable) that she was not in love with me when I proposed but thought I was good husband material, I could be molded into what she wanted, and she was following god’s will, too!

God’s a putz.

(Life plot note: He’s also imaginary)

Day two of our honeymoon revealed a totally different woman than the fun girl I had dated, proposed to, and now had married. That’s when the manipulation began. With the image of the man she wanted firmly in her mind to compare with me, she subtly molded me. But there was the inner me, wanting to grow and become what I wanted to be, the natural maturation process. The two efforts, being incongruent, resulted in something being broken.

In the meantime, children began joining our family.

Apostate Behavior: Chapter 7 The Missionary in Australia

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

I felt my proficiency in Spanish was good. I was raised speaking English (US version). However, I was yet unprepared for communication upon arriving in Sydney! Going through Customs I had to ask the official to repeat himself at every question! Australian English was foreign to my unaccustomed ears, as alluded to in the prior Chapter.

My first discussion in Spanish was the same. Book learning and practice don’t always accustom the ear in the presence of a native speaker.

But it didn’t take long to become accustomed to both Spanish and Australian English. My days were spent speaking English unless my companion and I had a teaching appointment or encountered a Spanish speaking person while we were tracting (in LDS Missionary parlance, this is the going door to door activity with the hope of entering the home to teach a “Discussion”) so my ability to communicate improved greatly. By the time my two years were ending, I was frequently complimented on my Spanish and was told I had an Ecuadorian accent (most of the Hispanics I taught or conversed with were from Ecuador; Argentines and Uruguayans followed). As a result, I was asked to translate for Church General Authorities at a Church Area Conference held in Sydney in April of 1976, just prior to my return home. Specifically, President Spencer W. Kimball and Elder William H. Bennett, an Assistant to the Twelve Apostles (a group later to become Quorums of Seventy).

My relationship with the other Elders (missionaries) and, later, two Sisters (female missionaries) was good. I enjoyed each of my companions (none of the Sisters was a companion, somewhat obviously!). I am connected to some of them on Facebook today. There were a half dozen or so, plus or minus at any given time during my mission, that were Spanish speaking like me. Eventually I became a District Leader (oversight over multiple companionships geographically close) and later a Zone Leader (oversight over multiple Districts). At no time did I get a car. I traveled by bicycle, public transportation (bus or electric train), walked, or some combination of these.

I greatly admired and respected my Mission President, Earl C. Tingey. He was/is the same age as my Dad and so, away from home and in a foreign country, it was easy to place a natural trust in him. It helped that I believed then and still believe now that he was and is an honest and good man by nature. He was and is deluded by the LDS cult, as was I.

Two years, less the two months in the LTM, were spent doing what I thought god wanted me to do. I was not a total goody two shoes, as my first “greenie” (new missionary) could attest (he was a strict by the book missionary at first but loosened up later). Life was easy. I would get a monthly check from my parents and would take it to the bank to exchange it for Australian currency, to pay rent for our”flat” (apartment/room), buy food, pay for transportation, repair/resole shoes, take care of any needs.

Oh, and to buy our cartons of Books of Mormon which we sold for 50 cents Australian each, or would give them away at times, if the situation warranted.

We met people from all over the globe and from all walks of life, mostly blue collar workers. We would assist Hispanics find work, get medical help, find housing. At times, anyway. Actually very few. Mostly, we tried to peddle our brand of religion in Spanish.

But the people were great! I loved the Hispanics I met, “member” and “non-member” alike. I loved the Aussies too. All in all it was a great experience for me as a 19-21 year old. I grew from a painfully shy introverted boy to a confident young man.

I returned home in April of 1976, to a new Ward, my family having moved into the new house built in Centerville, UT. Prior to returning home, I was interviewed by President Tingey. During that interview I was counseled to go home, maintain my standards acquired as a missionary, and to get married as soon as possible. Education and work were secondary to marriage.

I suppose it was good I had a girl, not exactly”waiting” for my return, but we had dated prior to my mission. And she was still “available”.

She would become my wife.

Apostate Behavior: Chapter 6 The Missionary at the LTM

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

Having studied Spanish in high school three years did little to prepare me for the Church’s Language Training Mission. That level was surpassed in the first week due to a program called “Live Your Language” meaning for me only speaking Spanish. We were taught how to ask “How do you say…” so that we could augment our knowledge in the moment.

Missionaries were segregated by language. We all met together, though, as an entire “Mission”. Further divisions were called “Zones” corresponding loosely to actual missions in most cases and consisting of several “Districts” and I was a District Leader. My District did not live in the usual dormitories but were housed in the Larsen home on 900 East, east of the Wilkinson Center (BYU), due to overcrowding. We walked to the Joseph Smith Building (current Benson Building) for classes in the Spanish language and culture. I loved the “Live Your Language” program as well as my daily classes. My fellow missionaries were a good group of guys and we got along well, from my standpoint. If there were issues, I did not see them.

After eight weeks, it was time to fly to Sydney Australia.

The flight on Qantas was long. We stopped briefly in Hawaii to refuel and spiff up the passenger area. We did not disembark. The next stop was in Fiji for the same reasons. We also did not disembark there. Finally, twenty plus hours later, we arrived in Sydney. It was raining. As we were circling before landing, I noted the red tile roofs of many of the homes below.

Being processed through Customs was uneventful except I was unaccustomed to the Australian accent. It was difficult to have a conversation! I kind of felt the first pangs of homesickness or feeling like a fish out of water, not being able to communicate with Australians in English and hoping my Spanish was good enough for any Hispanics encountered! But first things first.

We were met by the Assistants to the Mission President (referred to as AP’s) and were taken to the Mission Home in Wollstonecraft on the north side of Sydney Harbour. The address was, at the time, “Paxton” 5, Wollstonecraft. I don’t recall why some buildings had “names” or if homes did, too. I may have to research that!

Anyway, we were to meet our training Elder (first “companion”) but mine was ill so the Zone Leaders (leaders over multiple Districts) over the Zone I was to be in took me to my first “Flat”. There I met my new companion. He was standing at a gas stove, cooking cracked wheat, dressed only in a robe, with his garments hanging below the robe hemline. The rain and the sick first companion, dressed as he was, was an auspicious beginning, right?

Intermission

Recent blogging has dredged up some long lost memories. Two things, for today: immerse myself in these renewed memories; enjoy a scheduled chat this evening with a friend from long ago, a very intelligent friend (graduated high school in 3 years, graduated from BYU in 3 years, got his law degree from BYU Law School, you know, smart!).

Oh, and it’s a gridiron football playoff weekend ad so I will be watching a little footy. 🏈😎