Category Archives: Religion

A Life Change That Helped My Happiness

I came across this brief announcement in the news…

Mormon church excommunicates leader for first time in nearly 30 years

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James J. Hamula – excommunicated Mormon leader

In some ways, a big part of me says, “not significant enough to comment on.” Another part of me, prompts me to use what little abilities I have to speak my mind clearly.

I hope he and his family find their way. I refer back to my own 20+ years experience as an active member of that religious organization. In that time, I went from devout follower, to an enlightened person who is grateful to be out of that organization. Perhaps this will be the break they need to extract themselves from such mind befuddlement, into an understanding of the lies, distortions, historical chicanery, counterfeit scripture, and the “guilt hold” this religion can have over someone’s supposed, free will.

Fortunately my immediate family has also worked their way out from under the social pressure, the repetitious pronouncements, and the circumventing of rational thought. They too realize how isolated from reality someone can become as long as they’re so heavily invested, in which their personal happiness can only be achieved by reinforcing their commitment to the organization, and most especially to its leadership.

The desire for people to be part of a group in which they identify with common beliefs and functions, and to elevate its leaders as special, set apart with distinctive insight, dates back to the earliest periods of tribal affinity and survival against hostile elements, infirmity, uncertainty, creatures, people, and to repel those things that would undermine their survival. It didn’t take long for humans to fill in the knowledge gaps with superstitious lore and set aside some people who pretend to know more than the common person. This becomes comforting, as we try to express our deepest feelings of devotion, ritual, compassion, and explanation into what happens after we die.

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Thomas S. Monson Mormon President

Religion can and often does fill in the blanks when we don’t know, whereas a lengthy education process seems too complicated for many people to understand. As we become further initiated, inculcated, and fully brought “into the fold”, we replace objections and logic with prepared phrases from supporting text or the words of others within the same organization. We not only worship the unexplainable, unfathomable, unknowing, rejecting doubt as insufficiently devoted or not passionate enough, and substituting guilt and recrimination when we don’t meet group expectation or total acceptance.

It’s relatively easy to observe the leadership of these organizations say the same things, they speak in similar controlled tone, they look-alike, and often are educated at the same schools. Acceptance comes through adherence. There are numerous phrases or words defined to mean unique things for the group. Intolerance, bigotry, character assassination and rumor generalizations have been directly loaned, re-translated with euphemism.

The only safe thing for your mind, and for the benefit of others within your family, is to have the courage to recognize the self-deception and the group think mentality, and get out.

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| 08 August 2017 | “On Tuesday morning, James J. Hamula was released from his position in the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after disciplinary action.

LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins provided no details about the removal. But the church did confirm Hamula was no longer a member of the church and that his ouster was not for apostasy or disillusionment.

In cases involving members of Mormonism’s presiding quorums — rare as they are — the faith’s governing First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles form a disciplinary council to consider such actions.

Hamula, 59, who could not be reached Tuesday for comment, was born in Long Beach, Calif., and served in many positions with the Utah-based church — including as a full-time missionary in Germany, bishop, stake president (overseeing a number of LDS congregations), mission president and Area Seventy.
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Religious Context

Many people want to fill in the gaps of their knowledge, without adequate preparation for understanding the questions, let alone the answers they derive. Many have questions which may include, why do humans exist, where did we originate, what happens after death?

planet forming eso-1301

Early civilizations tried to explain things they didn’t know

These are good questions but answers aren’t readily forthcoming without adequate education and sufficient training of the mind to discern fact from fiction.

From the earliest writings, we find creation stories, mythical explanations of the cosmos, and hopeful expression’s of a bright future, without first hand knowledge of exactly what that entails. Thus, religion is born. Religious thought attempts to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know, providing explanations by people who claim special insight and inspiration from a being or beings with unmeasurable, and eternal capabilities far beyond our mortal world.

Symbols and history

Religion & symbols

Religious thoughts, aspirations, ideals and convictions vary, but the most adherent are able to convince others through their willingness to suffer for the cause.

Searching the archives of religion, and checking it against accumulated knowledge over the centuries, often reveals contradiction and weaknesses within ancient explanations of the cosmos or originations.

To this day, we find people with a variety of beliefs battling for the hearts and minds of others, especially the young who lack life experience and adequate skills to question the answers. Institutions of government, media, and churches are constantly engaged in promoting their responses to the public.

Here’s what I’ve found to be prevalent on how people adhere to their religion.

  • In golf as in life it is the follow through that makes the difference.
  • The gap between contemplation and execution is measurable.
  • Many declare their sympathies for those with anxieties but are unable to explain the why & how. Religion does that, but for many, that’s not sufficient.
  • They later go on, clinging to the declarations, without adequate explanation, which serve outward appearance, but lack the original conviction.
  • That’s why in the end, very few could be convicted of being a devout anything other than fulfilling their wants, in spite of their declarations.

Now what?

Caught Up With Our Self Importance

Everywhere we look, we can see examples of how we are caught up in our own self-importance. It’s difficult for us to see it in ourselves, but we notice it readily with others.

Driving our cars, we can see examples routinely of people cutting in and out of lanes, crossing the road or turning in front of us, even though there are huge gaps, or no one at all behind us. Public conversation can suddenly be interrupted by another person who walks up and wasn’t part of the discussion. We just can’t seem to help ourselves.

There are international demonstrations of this going on right now. The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong-Un is a prime example of someone who believes his word is supreme. It’s one of many of those who rise to power, who think they’re someone very special.

A recent brief confrontation between an American reporter and a Russian Minister, makes this point when he asks, who taught you manners? She just couldn’t help herself. She thought her interruption was important.

Andrea Mitchell isn’t unique in shouting questions at someone in public. Watch talk shows when they have a guest they either don’t agree with or want to show their disdain for them in public. They haven’t the courtesy to allow the person to finish their answer before they talk over them with another question. It’s as if they’re pelting them with words, since it’s socially unacceptable to throw rocks at their guest.

All of this brings me around to an immense collective of people caught up with their importance, as this is Easter weekend. To many Christians, this is the premier weekend, because it’s a celebration of a person claiming to be a deity, that through martyrdom and the public acceptance of being brought back to life, is going to resurrect any who believe this story. They will go to heaven and live with this deity, forever.

Wait a minute, I’ve gone too far, I’m way out of line for suggesting this is another in a long history of people thinking they are really special and very important. How does this story tie in with our inflated ego?

First, we believe in our significance among the vast universe of billions of stars, in countless galaxies. Many of us think an eternal being, a deity, constantly watches each of us and sacrifices their number one son just to “redeem” us, if only we will believe this story to be true. Our distorted self-centered nature causes us to think we are so very important, that we must be permitted to carry on — forever.

For many, the thought that we don’t go on forever, united with friends and family, is too unnerving, It places us in a vacuum of, now what must I do? If there isn’t an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, intergalactic wizard that restores us back to life, then we’re time limited, hopelessly lost to our own actions, our foolish blunders, even the planet we live and spin on, is our responsibility.

How do you determine if you are being duped?

The list is endless of those who can improve or advance us. They convince us to believe they can help us find hidden or ultimate truths. Many are message experts who build their case against some personal defect(s), identifiable yet unseen power(s) or negative world condition. They tell you they have the answers to these and other unanswered questions, in which you desire to have greater knowledge, or they have answers to the great problems in our lives.

They follow a pattern like confidence artists. They have a rehearsed formula to gain your trust, your time, and your money.

  1. Associate
  2. Indoctrinate
  3. Obey
  4. Stay
  5. Pay
  6. Pray
  7. Convert
  8. Rinse – lather – repeat

As we continue to look for hope in a grand scheme which ties all of our mysterious origins and destinies together, we hang in, even if we have doubts. If you decide to leave, they have ways to make you feel guilty or declare some method of punishment to haunt your thoughts of having a safe future. The stories found in religious text bring people together, with the overarching thought, we’re here because of a deity. Our lives are controlled by the whim of this deity. We must obey all that this deity demands or we will suffer after we die, forever.

Now that’s the ultimate penal sentence. If you refuse to follow, choose to independently think, act, and realize you’re nothing more than a tiny life form on a very small planet. When you recognize you’re responsible for your own actions, AND there’s no wizard that will save you from ignorance, bad decisions, or even halitosis.  Then we begin to realize what surely will come to us all is death?

No, that’s too much to take in. Give me back my security blanket.

The Christian knows what will happen to you if you don’t believe in these stories. You will suffer in hell, while they sing and dance and look down on you. All because you dared question the idea of an ultimate spiritual dictator.

Suddenly, Kim Jong-Un, almost seems kind. He can only sentence you for 50 to 90 years of hell, or thereabouts.

The more ambitious use a variety of ideas which ultimately prey upon our own narcissism. They teach us to adopt behaviors and vocabulary which separate the insiders from the outsiders, making us feel superior to those who aren’t knowledgeable or part of the same group. Many flaunt this relationship of exclusivity, just as clever advertisers do with selling luxury cars, perfumes, or clothing.

Examples Using Group Exclusivity

Christianity, Islam, Scientism, Atheism, Polymorphs, Religious Science/Mind Science, “Laws of prosperity”, creating one’s own reality, technologists, reincarnation, meditation, faith/ confession, occultism, pantheism, chanting, mantras, universal force, energy/mind power, gangs, etc.

A Force For Good?

The short answer is yes. Clearly there are many who have joined a group of like-minded people who gain trust, hope and a greater belief in their own self-worth. If it enhances your ability to see the value in others, the consequences of your own actions, observe your own deceptions to self and others, and the need to be independently productive and creative, then those are worthwhile attributes.