Mostly related to Mormonism but some book recommendations and more interesting stuff thrown in for good measure [an error occurred while processing this directive]

8/3/03 - 6/27/04 Messages

The most recent messages can be found here.

received 6/27/04
I was born near Salt Lake City, and raised as a Mormon. After being away from the church for many years, I finally had my name taken off the membership records about ten years ago. I spent a few years investigating Christianity. I've read quite a bit about Buddhism.

Why God Won't Go Away feels closer to the truth than anything I've encountered. (Without having a background of studying anatomy and physiology, I don't know if I could have grasped it as completely) It has been a tremendous gift in my spiritual life...and in the big picture, it seems like my spiritual life, is the only life that I can really relax into, knowing that it cannot be damaged or taken away.

When I read your review, and saw the words LDS, I felt like I may have come across someone who had followed a similar path. Thanks for sharing your insights with me.

received 6/23/04

I just want to thank you for your excellent web site. The day I found it I was up all night losing my religion (Mormonism). Good riddance! I was already suspicious, after learning some offensive probable facts about Brigham Young and the mountain meadows massacre, and having read Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and your site has been an invaluable resource as I've tried to put that suspicion on trial.

I also thought I'd recommend a book that is of a spiritual, but nondogmatic, nature. It's The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, by Jacob Needleman. I have never read anything that draws so much mythical meaning out of history while still recognizing that history is just history and we are the authors of our myths. In other words, it harnesses the power of myth not only without compromising intellectual and moral honesty, but by embracing it. It's a powerful meditation on what it means deep down inside to be an American.

received 6/11/04
I just stumbled across your website and am fascinated by it. Are you familiar with the BBC program
The Century of the Self? It's a great program for helping people realize how readily they can be manipulated by media, psychology, etc. I've also been watching COMMANDING THE HEIGHTS: THE BATTLE OF IDEAS which was produced by PBS a few years ago and is available through It deals with economic policy in the 20th Century. It has helped me understand the thinking of people like Reagan and Thatcher more completely. The piece on the cult of Ayn Rand added more depth to that understanding. Many thanks for this service you provide.

Good luck with your website. It is a valuable resource in a weirdly superstitious world.

Best regards,

received 5/4/04
I'm pleased with the inclusion of a Science Fiction section in 2think. It seems that Hollywood's co-opting has diluted the faith in Science Fiction as a potential protest medium. Movies like Star Wars make many forget about books like
1984 and Brave New World. I'm writing to suggest the work of Philip K. Dick. You've probably heard of him, he wrote endless amounts of science fiction. The reason I bring him up is that I think he is the perfect author for the thinking reader.

Thanks for the great work!

received 3/11/04
Wow! Wow! All I can say is Wow!

I was just reflecting on a book I read a few years ago, Foucault's Pendulum, and decided to search and see what others had to say about it - that led me to your site. Several hours of browsing your site later ... I certainly could have used a resource like this 32 years ago when I was wrenching my soul free. In all these years I've never met another person who was born into it, was a true believer and then got free of the Mormon church. I've met plenty who stopped going to church -- but never anyone (other than myself) who actually freed themselves. Now I see that there are others (many of them by the looks of it).

When I remember being a teenager in the church and asking some of these questions. I was always told not to think about it, that those questions were the devil trying to trick me. What a cruel thing to teach children that they cannot trust their own mind. I feel very fortunate that I was able to find my way out - and I feel very sad for those who want out but are afraid that their own mind is the devil. I feel sorry for those who still believe that life on earth is supposed to be miserable and that they will be rewarded after they die (not sure if this belief is actually spelled out in any Mormon docterine but it sure was a widely held belief among Mormons I grew up with).

On your messages pages I noticed one where the person commented "makes me feel that..I am that I might have joy". This was my experience exactly after all the hard work of rebuilding my value system/belief system and learning to like/trust my myself. When I was 19 years old I suddenly found myself in a very dark place - I felt like I had fallen through a trap door that I could never go back through. Suddenly I knew that the BOM was a lie and I couldn't trick myself into believing it as I had all my life. This caused my entire value system hierarchy to collapse - everything that had any value to me was built on a lie. It was devastating - but it forced me to start at zero and rebuild my value system from the ground up. I was in such a state that I didn't think anything had any value. I started my rebuilding when a wise friend "tricked me" by agreeing with me and suggesting an experiment "I'd like you to try doing absolutely NOTHING and see if something doesn't turn up that does have value". After several hours of doing NOTHING I discovered that peeing had value and that I didn't have to rely on faith to know it had value. It sounds silly but it was a very powerful discovery for me. I rebuilt my entire value system with that sort of basic truth.

This is a wonderful thing that you are doing and I'm sure you helping many people.

received 2/29/04
My wife sent me
this page, asking if I had read the book noted above. Because of my love of machines and philosophy, she knew I read ZEN AND THE ART.... and it had been meaningful to me. Currently, I'm in the fifth chapter of a book that has helped me glean a better understanding of writings like these. I didn't notice it in your list.

The DENIAL OF DEATH by Ernest Becker. My brother in law introduced me to this book during one of our discussions about life. I had told him that I was not afraid of death, had come close at times and was at peace with myself about it. He knew this, but didn't say much else. I thought Becker's book would be about finding peace or harmony,... whatever, when facing death. WRONG!

Titles.. so deceiving!

If you read it, I'd be interest in any comments. I had been looking for a good non religious definition of "free will" for some time and believe the answer has come to me now, after just reading through the 5th chapter. At any rate, I'm glad I have been led to your site. I'm always looking for new material to read.

Oh Yeh! I'll read Foucault's Pendulum, and let you know what I think.

received 2/9/04
I have read some of the books you have reviewed on this site, and enjoyed the bulk of them. I don't recall how I fell onto your site, but I am not disappointed that I did, as your stories of being raised in a religious family gave me flashbacks of my own.

I am from Canada, and although I do enjoy some Chomsky and Rand (her propensity for super-anti-communism aside), I thought I might interest you in reading a few Canadian authors, which i'm sure you would enjoy. These authors are Canadian, however they primarily comment on the state of global affairs in the books I'm recommending......

Thomas Homer Dixon - The Ingenuity Gap: Basically, this book highlights the leaps and bounds humanity (at least the west) has made under seemingly insurmountable odds in the past. Its main focus, however, is the sheer complexity, or what will become so, of our present and future problems (income disparity, environmental degradation, and the results of such) we are creating for ourselves, and the ingenuity required to solve these current and likely future problems. One section which I found quite funny was the comparison of the utter disaster which was Biosphere 2, and the current scientific thought that we can mange our own environment if a breakdown occurs (ie, in the Nitrogen/Carbon cycle).

John Ralston Saul (not to be confused to John Saul ;) ) - On Equilibrium: This book is about the balance we have to strike as human beings between several different factors, including, but not limited to (I lent out the book so I dont know if I'm getting all of them) Memory, Intuition, Reason, Imagination, Emotion, and a few others which I can't remember right now....basically this book melds these different types of human thought and comes out with one really thought-provoking conclusion; that as people we have to consider the effects of all our actions in regards to the 'other', such that everything we do affects someone else somewhere down the line ie) if I purchase this item, was it made in such a way that negatively affected another person/environment/economy/etc. One very deeply felt thought that this book conveyed to me was how we, as western society, who made leaps and bounds when it came to labor and safety rights, have now condoned the actions that so many people fought and died against, by purchasing items manufactured by other human beings in other countries under the same unsafe, unhealthy, destitute workplaces that were all but made illegal here.

Anyways, thanks for reading the diatribe, and thanks again for your valuable contribution to the WWW.

Best Regards,

received 12/19/03
On a page of
your site, you have a list of why one person is an atheist. If it was not written by you (since there is a message stating this), I must ask why there is not credit given to another writer.

Because I don't know who the author is.

I would also like to point out that their also exists a book published with the title "An Athiest Manifesto," which was written by Joseph Lewis. It has a much more definiate (in my opinion) point-by-point list of why one would become atheist. A reliable translation from printed form to the internet has been placed on You have no doubt heard of this, or had it mentioned to you by one of your readers. But, in case you haven't, I hope you find it interesting enough to consider reading.

received 11/27/03
"Don't like the above quote? Click here for a different one."

How about, instead:
"Like the above quote? Click here for another one."

Just a thought.

Done! Thanks for the suggestion.

received 10/17/03
Your site has been most helpful to me. I have been out of the Church for about a year, and during the past 18 months have done a lot of writing about church related issues primarily as a form of therapy. Some of the pieces I have written are now assembled on a site I set up to make it easier to send people things when I am asked for them. Here is the link in case it is useful to you.

I don't believe myself to be a great font of truth (or even a small one), but believe that the more people express themselves as best they can and put their views out where they can be seen, the more difficult it will be for the Church to continue to play the divide and conqueror game that kept me in the dark until my mid-forties. I have three university degrees and an enquiring mind. I still wonder at how effective the Church's screening and conditioning system is.

Thanks again for all of the help you provided to me. When I learn how to do such things, yours is one of the sites that will be prominently linked to mine.

received 9/17/03
I think you should be commended for your website and for doing a good job on your bibliography. I checked your list for a few of the books I have read on Mormonism and I was impressed with your comments. I also look forward to reading a few of the titles you featured.

Are you familiar with any of the work of William Joseph Whalen? He studied secret societies and religions. I was a little surprised not to see any of his books on your list. A few of his books are: Handbooks of Secret Organizations (1972); Latter-Day Saints in the Modern World: An Account of Contemporary Mormons (1964); Armagadddon Around the Corner: A Report on Jehovah Witnesses (1962).

The book on the Secret Organizations had a good run down on the Masons and described their secret rituals. That one and the one on LDS said Joseph Smith incorporated part of the Masonic rituals into the procedures and practices of his new church.

The book on the LDS went into great length on the racial ban and described the real problems it was causing when they attempted to set up temples and extend their reach in places like Brazil where such a large percentage of the population at least partially descended from African slaves and therefore were not eligible to participate fully in the faith and he predicted the church would change its rules.

Whalen did a good job of comparing the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons. Both groups are authoritative and autocratic and put a lot of pressure on their youth to not stray from their church's beliefs and practices. And as we all probably know the period of adolescence is a time when people test the beliefs and assumptions they grew up with. He claimed Mormons were having much bigger problems with this part of the growing process than the Witnesses did and attributed this to partly to the Mormons emphasis on education. The Jehovah Witnesses tended to keep their children closer to home and typically did not send them to college. At least the J.W.'s are smart enough to recognize that acquiring critical thinking skills can often be a part of education and what that can lead to!

I admit that I read these books in 1974 and 75 and so I apologize for having to rely on my memory for what I say here.

received 9/5/03
I've read your review of
Childhood's End and was puzzled by what seems to me a loss of focus. The view on religion expressed in the begining of the book, with which you say to agree, is *contested* by the paranormal mumbo jumbo of the end. The Overlords confess they were hiding all the time the fact that religions were indeed a reflex of our connection with the transcendence, which was their sole purpose in intervening on mankind's History. Religions lose followers not because they are flawed like the Overlords sugest, but because they have purposefully showed a manipulated version of our past that disproves religion. Science debunked religion because the faith in it dazed mankind from it's natural perception of the supernatural, and science turned towards the supernatural does indeed tap in it, but in a dangerous way. The Overlords offer the fruit of the knoweledge, causing at one time the eyes of men to open and become like god, and the fall of Man. Those who were suspicious of the Overlords were right, the debunking of religion is part of the deception that they mean.

Clarke quotes Buddhism as one of the sole survivals of this age of religion debunking, and Clarke indeed was interested in Buddhism, as can be seen in The Fountains of Paradise, passing in Sri Lanka, the last bastion of Ortodox Budhism, and Clarke's chosen home. Buddhism deals extensily with the nature of mind and the nature of dissolving the mind. Nirvana is an elusive term, that can either sugest pure materialistic nihilism, or a very strong description of a perception of the reality beyond the ego. In Childhood's End, as in 2001 and The City and the Stars, he suggests he sees it more through the second way. The dissolution of the mind brings something that is not like anything we can know, but it is not pure nihilism (which is something that we actually can grasp). It is not the mere loss of individuality, but the acquiring of something beyond it.

received 9/4/03
I want to add my voice to the others in thanking you for your work creating this site. It has been a valuable resource to me over the last few years. (As well as I have a quick question for you or anyone else who reads this email. Have you done any research into the "Nahom" issue contained in the BOM. My father, a TBM, keeps going back to this point as an iron-clad proof for the BOM. I haven't been able to find any research into this by non-apologetic sources. When weighed against all of the evidence against the book it appears to be a coincidence or statistical outlier. Any thoughts?

Given the number of proper nouns in the Bible and Book of Mormon I don't see how anyone could exactly consider this "iron-clad proof." First of all, there is a book in the Old Testament called Nahum, and second, the place supposedly discovered is called Nihm. (In Hebrew, I believe these could all be the same word, NHM.) That Joseph Smith was familiar with the title of the Old Testament book's name seems far more parsimonious to me than that one small piece of the Book Of Mormon is actually historical. (This is especially true given the other names and words Joseph Smith selected such as Lucifer, Lachoneus, Timothy, Jonas, mammon, synagogues, raca, etc. which could not have been in a text translated from reformed Egyptian or an ancient American language. They are clear borrowings from the King James Version of the Bible.)

received 8/28/03
I found your informative and objective site using the "search" name of Elaine Pagels and was pleasantly surprised. I am going to add a link to your site from my own website, and I would greatly pleased and honored if you reviewed and added to your list of others of us on the same path. You may find the title and the essential premise of this site rather challenging, and as an academician, I believe I am the first to some up all that even your own website is about as

I liked your "Zorba" quote and not to many really understand; and you may appreciate the following that I wrote. AND note the date; I was still in my youth.....


A moment comes, a moment goes,
It has no place and has no time,
It comes and goes like wind that blows.

It passes no time, it passes no place,
And never passes the next in line,
It's on the move as though at race.

Moments past are forever lost,
While moments now are what we have,
And no future's gained at any cost.

So live and love, and do it now,
For now is all we have at hand.
The time we share will never stop,
And moments come like seeping sand.

March 3, 1961

received 8/20/03
I want to comment on your web page. It does make one think! I agree with some of the things you have written and some not. I have felt the same way on several of your points, but just didn't know how to say it. For example, when you mentioned that one thing about God commanding people to mulitiply. Yes, the LDS church does put a lot of emphasis on family and motherhood/fatherhood. I don't believe that God commands everyone to have children. People who are unfit to be parents shouldn't be parents. Look at people who have abused or killed their kids. Although I am active LDS and enjoy my associations with the LDS church and LDS friends, you couldn't have said that one point any better. I have brought up the Proclamation of the Family as conversation to some people at church. I have told a few that I have a problem with some of it's teachings and don't agree with all of the Proclmation and they look at me so strange. I guess they feel they have to agree with everything the church produces. In a way, I am sadened that the church had to write "The Proclamation on the Family." I feel parts need to be re-written. It especially makes people like me who are infertile and can't have children deeply sad and depressed. I don't read it often.

I want to say "good for you" and "I'm so sorry" at the same time but saying both seems rather oxymoronic. It's tough to be Mormon for many people: the infertile, the homosexual, the person who wants to question or think beyond the box, the logician, etc.

It had been a while since I thought of the Proc. Then last night I get a call from BYU soliciting me for money so that they could build a new building which was supposed to be focused on, or have a tribute to, or something to that effect on the Proc. I almost laughed out load at the irony. Here they are calling someone up who they excommunicated because of their view on the Proc asking for money to help further its propagation. Of course, the person calling didn't know this, but it was still ironic.

Whichever of the GAs it was that created that document is hellbent to see it become the focal point of Mormonism--despite the fact that many Mormons know it is a load of clobbers. Until that GA dies it will, unfortunately, not be ignored.

Don't sweat it. Continue to think for yourself. Pull what's good out of the church and use it. Ignore the rest--especially the stuff made to make the members feel guilty, depressed, and like if they only gave more time and money to the church their guilt/depression/problems would go away.

received 8/3/03
I love love love your website. I am an active Mormon who was born and raised in the Seattle area and moved to Idaho to attend Ricks College/BYU-Idaho. I was lucky enough to have lived in wards that encouraged girls to obtain an education and to serve a mission, something that can be considered liberal in the LDS Church. But, since I have started college, I have become more and more liberal everyday. I crave knowledge and I want to know what has happened in LDS Church history, good and bad. Thank you for your website, it has helped educate me as to the skeletons in the LDS Church's closet, yet, your quotes from LDS members are something I would never find anywhere else, thank you for those, as they are my most favorite part of your website.
received 8/3/03
Excellent work on that
article by Shermer...

I think, though, that the cultish aspect can be reduced even further, however, beyond simply "adherence to reason as an absolute". Statistically valid certainties do exist; however, they are contingent on CONTEXT, which may change...

I believe it is the MODE of thinking, in this case, the authority driven paradigm, looking outward for answers, versus taking the harder choice of not knowing, being prepared to self correct, and most importantly thinking for yourself...

Yes, the Objectivists have elevated "reason" to an authority status to be dogmatically followed...

However, reason, being intrinsic to the functioning of the human mind in my opinion, takes care of itself, in that one cannot make explicitly irrational choices.

Thus honesty is a wider integration than reason, that is open-ended, self-driven and flexible enough to self correct over time as new knowledge becomes available.

In addition, honesty is a dynamic, active, scientific and inductive thinking process, whereas reason is a static closed-ended self-evident, deductive mode that takes care of itself anyway.

Perhaps most dangerous, the "powers" in government, law and big religion can simply use Objectivism as a straw man to attack honesty and one of the consequences of honesty-objectivity. By confusing the issue, these manipulators are then able to offer two false choices to dupe everyone into backing their plans for fake wealth and glory through litigation and social programs that funnel money from the hard working people in this country straight to their pockets.

Thanks for the valuable site and articles...

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