Monday, May 19, 2008

Recovery advice from an old apostate to a new apostate

The following advice was posted on a Mormon recovery site. (go to and look in Support/Apostate Alley for a comprehensive list of Mormon recovery sites.)

1. Identify and question all the rules you've ever been taught about what's good and bad. Understand how you make those judgments and insist on solid reasons for making them in the future.

2. Identify and question your core beliefs about yourself and how they affect your behavior. If you have any or all of these, work on losing them:

a. Nothing really bad can happen to me, because I'm a good person and/or there's this benevolent force that watches over me.

b. I deserve to be punished when I'm bad.

c. If something goes wrong, it's probably at least partially my fault.

3. Develop the habit of questioning others' behavior and motivation before your own.

4. Don't assume that there's a universal set of rules that everyone is or knows they should be playing by. In fact one to four of every hundred people, depending on which expert you choose to believe, actually lack the conscience that you just naturally operate by. They ignore "the rules" and either try to hurt others or just don't care if they do. Joseph Smith was one of them, and I suspect every single one of his successors has been as well.

5. Watch out for the way of thinking where you believe what people say based on words and feelings, and insist on proof that something is right or true instead of proof that it is wrong or untrue.

6. Learn about and practice critical thinking. It's a discipline with a specific set of skills that you've been conditioned to avoid.

7. Remember, skepticism is good. You might find an online skeptics' group and just observe how the members think and talk about things. There are pompous asses everywhere - especially online, where many of them find the attention and respect they don't get in the physical world - but those for whom skepticism is a way of life can teach you a lot.

The stupidity, as you call it, is really insidious. It got me big time, some 20 years after quitting the church. I don't even think it was a church thing, necessarily, but the church didn't help. I got a lot of dumb ideas from it
and from parents who got their dumb ideas from it.

I just quit and never thought much about it until a profoundly awful, nearly ruinous life experience forced me to. The suggestions above are the product of that thinking. You have an advantage in that you're thinking about it now, before someone else comes along and really sticks it to you. That's what happened to me.

I felt stupid, too, until I discovered the vast secret club of people who'd had the same experience. Then I realized I'm just a person who was in a particular place at a particular time, with a particular set of beliefs about love and the world and myself, who happened to meet a person who took advantage of those beliefs.

If you were a convert, you could say the same thing about the church. If not, you were born into a cult started by a con man. It IS a scam. You know this already. For me, just admitting I'd been scammed was a major hurdle.

Smart people get scammed every day, in and out of the church. It can happen to anyone, and anyone who doesn't know that is a prime target. Understanding how it happens and how susceptible you are is a serious advantage in life.

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