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u/levelheadedsteve · 1 pointr/mormon

So sorry to hear you had struggles with good male role models. I actually think Mormon men make pretty great role models, and my dad was very much present in my life, and the LDS church really urges guys to have a very active role in their kids lives. Also, the church takes a lot of time making sure teens have good experiences, and I actually really liked several things about being a teenager (but others not so much). On the good side, I had very cool youth leaders (similar to youth pastors) that came up with great activities and were very easy to relate to. They always heard me out on my questions and so there were great role models throughout the church. Leadership is particularly important for men in Mormonism, and while this is sometimes at the expense of girls getting leadership opportunities (for example, many congregations will spend quite a bit of their yearly budgets getting boys involved in outdoors programs and other activities where they will have chances to be leaders and learn skills. Girls often are left with whatever is left over. But this is starting to change.) On the problematic side, leadership does conduct worthiness interviews with teens. Some leaders keep this brief and casual and really only bother to dig into things if the kids bring it up. Others, like the leaders I had growing up, will specifically ask about certain things like masturbation, porn use, sexual activity, etc to really probe and dig into whether or not the teens are doing what they were supposed to. I struggled a long time with feelings of being unworthy, I felt pretty worthless and struggled a lot with my self esteem once I started to get interviewed like that. That, I would say, was a downside and left me with resentment and I, after seeking some help dealing with some of the residual feelings I had from those years, realize that my general distrust of men stems from those interviews and some of my mom's attitudes and actions, because I was convinced that every man was more or less a sexual predator at heart based on what the leadership would often say was something they were making sure people weren't doing to justify what they would ask in interviews, and what my mom would say about men in general and more targeted comments at me. It's something I still struggle with quite a bit. So yeah, pros and cons, haha.

So when it comes to politics, Mormons are generally conservative, and generally republican. In some regions of the US Mormons tend to be slightly more progressive and liberal compared to their Utah counterparts, but are still very generally Republican. Utah is very conservative, especially outside of Salt Lake County. A lot of this is actually discussed in that same research I talked about above. That said, Millennial Mormons, across the board, are generally more progressive and liberal than their parents were, and LGBTQ issues are a big topic there. Basically just look at the general trends in the US, adjust them to be slightly more conservative, and that's more or less where Mormons tend to stand. See some conversation around this here and here. And while I haven't read it myself, if you're interested in further details on this topic, it's worth getting The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church where most of this research is documented.

There is a great summary I've heard about Mormon politics that is pretty well stated in this article:

>If you gave the typical Mormon a quiz on being a conservative, he or she would ace it. Socially conservative mixed with the small government views of the Mountain West, most Mormons hold conservative positions on the major issues of the day.
>That said, there are some nuances. On abortion, Mormons support the view of the LDS Church, which permits abortion in the case of rape or the life of the mother. Mormons are more supportive of allowing abortion in these cases than the average American (that’s right: in these cases, Mormons are the most pro-choice). But on abortion in general, Mormons are among the most pro-life, opposing abortion because the mother is in poverty or has other private reasons for making her decision.
>Mormons are also more in favor of immigration, particularly compared to the average Republican. One reason is the exposure to other cultures. Mormons are more likely to see immigration as a good thing if they’ve gone on a mission, particularly a foreign mission.

I've noted these trends as well. In my experience, Mormons are not only more likely to support immigration policy, but general policies that allow for countries to mutually benefit instead of pushing for the US to get the best deal, for example. I've also noticed that Mormons tend to be much more supportive of Muslim and Jewish communities than some Christian conservatives I know of (I have family who are in other Christian denominations that are VERY negative in how the talk about Muslims, in particular). Mormons don't frame religious freedom from a Christian perspective as much as some religious conservatives do, in my experience.

As for what modern revelation means, and whether that will cause the LDS church to move in a more secular direction, it's hard to say. But that has been the trend, over time. Policy has tended to change in progressive ways over time, as I mentioned before, where the practice of polygamy and allowing for Black members of the church to have priesthood and go to the temple could be seen as progressive advances, potentially motivated by external pressures. But that does not take the whole picture into account, as many LDS members are very adamant that those changes were due to revelation, and that the revelation should be trusted even if it seems to follow a trend. I think there is merit to both sides of that argument.

Another change that has recently happened was that the LDS church had a pretty strong, if mostly cultural, stance that people weren't really gay, but giving in to temptation or allowing sin to cloud their judgement. This is a position made clear in the book by Spencer W. Kimball, who served as an apostle and then President of the LDS church, called The Miracle of Forgiveness, where he claims that practices like masturbation or inappropriate thoughts would lead someone to homosexual behavior (see a brief discussion on this here). It was quite clear that it was not something that was an inherent part of a person, but rather something they learned through sin. Even more recently, Apostle David Bednar stated "there are no homosexual members of the church" where he basically says that homosexual attraction is merely a temptation rather than an actual part of a person's identity. While this stance is not necessary gone in Mormonism, it is no longer a punishable offense for someone to say they are gay and openly identify as gay, as shown in the "Mormon and Gay" site I linked above, where someone can be both Mormon and Gay. Many people speculate that, with that subtle shift, it could be an indication that leadership in the future may be more open to the idea of homosexual relationships eventually being allowed under certain situations. Personally, I think that there is doctrinal space for the idea of "for life only" marriages between gay couples in Mormonism, and it will be interesting to see if that happens. But, that sort of speculation is hardly a reason to decide to stay or go. Ultimately, if you feel the conviction that the LDS church is god's church, then that is the standard that the LDS church requires to join.

u/amertune · 1 pointr/mormon

I've found that I've really enjoyed some books that address topics that are interesting to Mormonism without being related to it at all.

Karen Armstrong (comparative religion/religious history), Bart Ehrman (biblical textual criticism), Timothy Keller (I really loved "The Reason for God"), Joseph Campbell (mythology), have all helped me gain a greater understanding of religion in general.

Other books that cover science and history have been excellent as well. I had what could be called a spiritual experience learning about the magnitude of life and how it exists when I read Carl Zimmer's "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea". I would also suggest learning a bit about the origins of modern civilization by studying about Mesopotamia. I found a bit of interesting American history (that also briefly mentions the 19th century "burned over district" and Joseph Smith) in "Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation."

My current read is "This is my Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology" by Charles R. Harrell, a BYU professor. It seems like the type of book that many Mormons would find offensive, while many Mormons would find it inspired.

I also enjoy reading scripture and seeing what it says without trying to make it fit what I think it should say, especially the New Testament. Honestly, I think that the New Testament inspires fewer wtf moments than any of the other books of scripture :)

u/heywhatareyoudoing · 40 pointsr/mormon

Hang in there, man. Your story is a common one, and one I’m all too familiar with.

My wife’s reaction was almost identical. We are in a good place now, but it took us almost 4 years to get here.

Here are some resources that have helped:

u/Mithryn · 2 pointsr/mormon

>The Prophet has a $1 million dollar penthouse.

My previous post on the subject, including scripture, and details. let me know if it is not sufficient

>One is able to fly anywhere in the world for free, and be treated like a king by the members when one arrives. Not bad.

Source: Book of Mammon

>GA's make $150k and up according to Canada tax returns.

it's in my previous link as well. A little searching on /r/exmo should turn up the full post with tax documents.

>1/2 of tithing in New Zealand goes to pay Salaries in the church. 49%. 19% is used for building maintenance and charity.

>0% of the humanitarian aide dollars in the UK donated for tsunami victims actually made it to tsunami victims. Maybe the U.S. used all their tsunami dollars + a bit extra, but there are no public records in the U.S. under "Tsunami"

>Their children and grand children all get free educations at BYU.

I knew some personally who were there on a free ride. Employees of BYU also get free tuition. And my relatives qualify for that. Not really a question, but if you need me to, I'll find more.

And let's tack the 1.5 billion dollar mall on to this list. Build a mall, no tithing used; but the only money you have is tithing. Hmm... wonder how that works?

Take the tithing, put it in a bank; get interest off it (For three years), use the interest to invest in private for-profit activities. Everyone profits!

u/ExiestSexmo · 2 pointsr/mormon

Here is a multi-volume work of the history if the LDS church written by B.H. Roberts. It's like 80 years old so it is a bit outdated in a few areas.

Rough Stone Rolling is a biography of Joseph Smith written by Richard Bushman. It is generally considered to be the pretty good historically and is pretty well cited.

I also find Wikipedia to be a pretty good starting point for studying different topics in LDS history. Apparently there does end up being some editing wars for a lot topics so you have to be careful.

A new 4 volume narrative history of the LDS church has also been announced and will start coming out next year. That might end up being good.

Edit: just realised I didn't read your post well enough. I just gave you general history sources when you were asking for specific leads. Sorry about that. I hope someone else the info you're looking for.

u/4a4a2 · 6 pointsr/mormon

From Amazon:
> In this book he explains how Mormonism has undergone four distinct phases. The first began in 1820 and ended with Joseph Smith’s death in 1844. The second began upon Joseph Smith’s death and ended with abandonment of plural marriage, publicly in 1890 and privately in 1904. In the third phase Mormonism denounced as apostasy its practice of plural wives, marking the first time an orthodox practice became grounds for excommunication. The fourth phase began with David O. McKay and is still underway. In it Mormonism has adopted corporate management techniques to consolidate and direct central church decision-making. The first phase was innovative and expansive, continually adding doctrine, scripture, teachings and ordinances. Subsequent phases have curtailed, abandoned, even denounced earlier teaching and doctrine. Phases two through four have all abandoned doctrine. Growth in these subsequent phases has been defined in terms of political influence, financial gains, cultural inroads, and population growth; while the underlying religion has been curtailed. Today, marketing the institution has become more important to Mormon success than preserving the original religious content. The changes from phase to phase have completely transformed Mormonism, sharing a vocabulary but redefining the terms. Modern Mormonism has now institutionalized change. For the first time in this book Mormonism is candidly described in terms which track the changes by examining doctrine, teachings and practices. Interestingly, the passing of the heavenly gift was anticipated by Joseph Smith’s prophecies and the Book of Mormon.

I haven't read it, but it looks interesting.

u/everything_is_free · 2 pointsr/mormon

Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Bushman. Part of a series by Oxford University Press that tries to concisely summarize a variety of complex topics.

For something more in depth, but hitting all the bases you described quite well, I highly recommend the The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism. Seriously if you read that, you will come away with a very in depth understating of Mormon history, theology, culture, practice, and experience. But it is very long.

Oxford has also published a great book on the development of LDS theology called Wrestling the Angel.

Matthew Bowman's The Mormon People is also very good and has been used as a textbook in university religious studies introduction to Mormonism courses.

u/papalsyrup · 1 pointr/mormon

> Can you think of any parts of the Smith narrative that don't fit with the sex-and-power idea, outside of trivialities?

Have you ever read anything about Joseph Smith from a sympathetic perspective? I don't mean apologist literature. I mean work that is actually trying to understand Joseph Smith, rather than to support a preexisting thesis. Things like Rough Stone Rolling, In Heaven as it is on Earth, American Crucifixion, Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, etc. When the events of Joseph Smith's life are put into their full, rich historical context, it quickly becomes apparent that J.S.'s motivations were complex and variegated. Certainly sex and power played a role, but so did sincere, intense religious belief, a desire to unite and redeem his family, and a firm conviction that God was working through him. For instance, the money digging events can only be understood when put into the context of early 19th century folk religion, as Quinn does in Early Mormonism. This is not an avaricious Joseph Smith, but someone who is trying to help lift his family out of poverty using methods of folk religion that were ubiquitous in the region.

u/Fuzzy_Thoughts · 2 pointsr/mormon

The book list just keeps growing in so many different directions that it's hard to identify which I want to tackle next (I also have a tendency to take meticulous notes while I read and that slows the process down even further!). Some of the topics I intend to read about once I'm done with the books mentioned:

u/mormbn · 9 pointsr/mormon

>doesn't mean he had any interest in living with them

We know this isn't true. That he lived with them and slept in their beds is explicitly documented in some cases.

I recommend Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, an excellent biography of Emma by two faithful LDS historians.

u/eternigator · 3 pointsr/mormon

Her book, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir, is a great read. I'd highly recommend it if you enjoyed this piece.

u/willburshoe · 1 pointr/mormon

Joseph did posses a stone that he believed helped him see things which were hidden. His translation was initially through the Urim and Thummim, and as he learned to use that easier, he used his stone, and at some point probably no stone at all.

I don't have sources handy, so hopefully someone else will post some. A great book with tons of sourced info is Rough Stone Rolling. Fantastic book.

u/japanesepiano · 2 pointsr/mormon

Most of what I am referencing can be found in the Righteous Mind. I highly recommend reading it if you have a chance. I don't know that everyone will outgrow this "fairness tendency", though I think that some do. There may be some inherent value in fairness, though less so in the joy which people derive from seeing their enemies or out-group suffer (which also appears to be very widespread). In many ways, I think I was one of the "good kids" and I did on one occasion turn in a roommate to the BYU honor code office for having a girl spend the night (in the living room, no sex was involved). In retrospect, probably a very bad and immature thing to do. As a freshman, it seemed like the right thing to do.

I don't know if I have good answers to your questions, just a few thoughts for consideration.

u/i_am_a_freethinker · 2 pointsr/mormon

>I read the NT last year on my own

This really stood out to me. Good job doing your own research and coming to your own concluisions, I know it can be hard.

That said, I assume that you read the KJV NT, since you are BIC. I highly recommend books like Jesus, Interrupted, which are introductory books into the actual history of the New Testament.

As a teaser, did you know that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) weren't written until at least 40 years after Christ died? Mark is the oldest book, but Mark was used as a source by Matthew and Luke. Further, the Gospels are excellent examples of pseudepigrapha, or books inappropriately attributed to an author. I.e., the Gopels weren't written by the apostles named.

u/dustarook · 15 pointsr/mormon

First off, I’m a different person than who you originally ranted at. Second, I’m active LDS and heterosexual and married with kids.

I’m asking these questions because you keep saying DOCTRINE in all caps as if there have been ANY spiritual principles that have remained the same throughout LDS Church history.

This is a verifiably false assumption. Even “Doctrines” change over time. There’s a great book called This is My Doctrine by BYU professor Charles Harrel that discusses this in far more detail than i am capable.

It makes me sad to see such cold-hearted fundamentalism as yours in mormonism.

u/JustJivin · 1 pointr/mormon

I have heard good things about Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon

u/SecretIdentity5001 · 1 pointr/mormon

The best examination of this is Royal Skousen’s “The Book of Mormon: the Earliest Text.”

u/cinepro · 2 pointsr/mormon

> This is fascinating to me because in our modern culture accepting responsibility for things that go wrong that a person or institution played a role in is widely accepted as a moral necessity (or at least a moral good).

FYI, this is a book on that subject. It's not really as universally accepted as you might think:

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

>Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell?

>Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong.

>Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

u/olsh · 2 pointsr/mormon

Read the LDS "Gospel Principles" manual, located here.

You could also read "Rough Stone Rolling" to learn more about Joseph Smith and the Church's founding. Rough Stone Rolling is generally considered a reasonable account, by both ex mormons and active mormons.

u/girlfriendinacoma24 · 3 pointsr/mormon

Lou, have you read Jana Riess’ The Next Mormons? Because I think you’d appreciate her research.

u/nocoolnametom · 3 pointsr/mormon

Having read The Book of Mammon that sounds exactly like how the Church Office Building operates.

u/kickinthefunk · 5 pointsr/mormon

I'm not sure if your friend already owns or has read this book, but it is a really interesting balanced view of Joseph Smith. It talks about some of the more difficult issues in early Mormonism, but explains them in a way that leaves room for belief.

"Rough Stone Rolling" by Richard Bushman

u/shakeyjake · 1 pointr/mormon

This post made me think of this book which was getting a bit of publicity in the past few years.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir

u/jdfoote · -1 pointsr/mormon

This is just not true. Members of the Church (most notably Royal Skousen) have worked hard to try to make early versions available.

u/PayLayAle · 13 pointsr/mormon


Native American DNA shows no mid eastern link as described in Book of Mormon and is of Asiatic origin.

Book of Abraham hoax

You can hear Robert Ritner speak on it here

u/CaptainExecutable · 2 pointsr/mormon

The book "Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me"
is very useful in explaining what's going on in the the minds of people who by all measure should realize they are wrong but don't.

(Hint: its not just LDS people who have this problem. We can all fall victim to irrationality)

u/Parley_Pratts_Kin · 2 pointsr/mormon

Read these books in this order:

  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari. Overview of the history of humanity. Fascinating.
  2. God: A Human History by Reza Aslan. Overview of the development of religion and ideas about God.
  3. The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein. Overview of the archeology of ancient Israel and historical criticism of the Old Testament.
  4. Authoring the Old Testament by David Bokovoy. Overview of textual criticism of the Old Testament.
  5. Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman. Overview of textual criticism of the New Testament.

    This mini library is a sort of behind the scenes peek into humanity, religion in general, and the Bible specifically. You’ll never look at these things the same way again.

    Now, after reading these, return and report and give us word.