Thursday, November 26, 2015
The person lifts the microphone and starts to speak and suddenly a high pitched whine explodes out of the speakers and compels everyone in the room to suck in their breath and cover their ears. If you've ever experienced this then you really can't forget it.
The cause is something called positive feedback. The microphone converts sound waves into electrical waves which are in turn fed into an amplifier which makes them stronger and sends them to speakers where magnets convert the amplified electrical waves back into sound. This is great until the amplified sounds feeds back into the microphone, gets amplified again, comes out of the speakers even louder, and feeds back into the microphone in an endless feedback loop that increases the volume until the amplifier is driving as strongly and as loudly as it can or something blows up or someone turns the volume off or the speaker wisely covers the microphone or stops pointing it at the speakers. The reason that it picks one particular frequency or ranges of frequencies (the squeel) has to do with the design of the amplifier which usually has a "sour" spot where it is prone to instability and feedback.
Ever wonder why the church places such a strong emphasis on regular meeting attendance? What are they afraid of if people attend irregularly? That they'll turn evil? Maybe, but I really don't think that church attendance has much affect on people's behavior. I think that it is because church attendance creates a mental positive feedback loop. In church, the message is heard and repeated. The members hear the message and it resonates with their beliefs and it gets amplified. This causes them to echo the message which makes it stronger to them, but also triggers similar feelings in everyone around them. This sets up a positive feedback loop that reinforces the message in everyone.
The church fears that without that regular reinforcement then the feelings will fade and doubts and reason will have more influence when the church's message isn't being amplified.
This effect is sometimes called an echo chamber or a herd mentality and it is effective in religion. But it is also used in politics and media to try to influence people to do or believe things that they wouldn't do on their own.
So, challenge yourself to put your hand over the microphone and get to a quiet place where you can think things through on your own without giving inappropriate importance to what the herd is saying.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
This is email is to notify you that I resign my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints effective immediately and request that you permanently remove my name from your membership records. I desire no further contact from the church except confirmation that my request has been completed.
Full Name: Bull
DOB: Somewhere in time
I think I am in the Local WardLast year I sent a resignation letter to my local ward building only to have it returned because apparently they don't receive mail there. When John Dehlin leaked the church's latest anti-gay policy I just couldn't stand to let them continue to count me as a member so I googled up the information and sent off the email not knowing whether or not it would work.
You may wonder why I've waited so long. It wasn't any doubt about my conclusions about the church. The reason I waited was because of my family. Originally I was the only non-believer. I was worried that my children might remain in the church and decide to get married in the temple. I had this thought that if that happened I might possibly jump through hoops so I could participate. I knew it was unlikely but it seemed imprudent to do something I couldn't easily take back while there was a possibility I might want to undo it. I was also worried about how my wife would take it.
Since then all 4 of my children have all left the church although as far as I know none of them have resigned. This is one of the funny things about the church. Five out of six members of my family haven't considered themselves members for years and yet until now none of use have formally resigned.
The other thing I've realized is that my wife is never going to stop being pissed off about my disbelief and that nothing is going to change that. It came up again in therapy recently and it amazes me that after more than 10 years she continues to be angry and hurt about it yet refuses to talk about it or do anything to resolve it. She continues to characterize it as a betrayal by me and dishonesty by me that I hid my doubts from her even though that is exactly what the church taught me to do.
Anyway, my non-Mormanity is now official.
Saturday, September 05, 2015
My daughter has been in a psychiatric residential treatment center for most of the last year because of suicide attempts, self harming behaviors, and emotional instability. On her birthday she had a day pass to spend at home with her family. The young women at church took this opportunity to set up a visit and bring her a gift. How thoughtful, right? And the gift?
Drum roll please...
A nicely wrapped copy of "For the Strength of Youth" and another young women's pamphlet. Because everyone one knows that that is what a girl with severe self image issues needs to turn her life around.
Fortunately it stayed unopened and at home at the end of a very nice day when we had to take her back.
This is just another instance of the church's complete lack of understanding of mental health and the role that their messages play in some of those issues. I don't blame anyone for my daughter's problems. But I haven't found anything in Mormonism that provides any answers or help, but I know many things continue to the problems: arbitrary dress and grooming standard, sexual repression and shaming, perfectionism, arbitrary rules like the word of wisdom, and many more. My daughter has issues with all of those things.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
For a long time I haven't thought about the church. In the last few months, however, I find that I'm constantly reading the /r/mormon and /r/exmormon reddits. So why, suddenly am I reading about the church again?
I suppose that part of it is that at the moment it feels like my life is falling apart. My marriage has really never recovered from the fallout from my departure from the church. My struggles with depression have ebbed and flowed. My youngest daughter has struggled with severe mental health issues including 5 suicide attempts in the last 2 years. I'm doing the best that I can and on the surface I guess I look like I'm doing pretty well. But I frequently find myself walking along and feel tears welling up in my eyes. The weight I lost and kept off for years has packed itself back on in the last year as I abused food for comfort. Then 2 weeks ago a former co-worker and friend committed suicide. I find myself being incredibly irritable lately. That's a rough summary of my current travails.
I think that part of it is that I'm seeking closure on this phase of my life. I never formally resigned from the church and my wife and I have never been able to talk about the church so the resentment continues to fester with my wife and it festers in me knowing that she feels stuck in a marriage she doesn't want. So maybe I've been reminding myself of why I left the church so that I can finally put it behind me. And along the way, take whatever steps necessary to resolve that chapter in my life.
And, that is going to suck. Right now it's difficult to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. But I continue to have hope that I'll come through it.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Saturday, March 26, 2011
BYU has every right to set its honor code. Every person applying to BYU signs the honor code and knows what is expected. And the university knows that every student is fallible and that there are bound to be violations. In fact they have a whole department in the administration whose purpose is to enforce the honor code. They get to do important things like monitor students standing in line to get student IDs to make sure that they meet the school's grooming standards. Hair too long? Go get a hair cut. Forgot to shave? Go shave. They get to kick people out of the testing center during finals week for wearing shorts, not shaving, having too long hair, etc. Back in the day the dress code required females to wear dresses on campus. During finals in December a girl wasn't allowed to take a final in the testing center because she was wearing pants. So she went into the bathroom and took off her pants and put them in her backpack. She went back to the counter in nothing but her long coat and properly exposed legs and was allowed to take her test. Her letter to the campus paper raised quite an uproar.
What about premarital sex? Believe it or not, it even happens at BYU. I wouldn't know, but I'm guessing more than a little bit but probably not a lot. People just get married instead. But it happens. People get hot and heavy, things go to far. The next Sunday visits get made to the bishop, teary confessions are made, calls are made to the other partner's bishop, disciplinary councils are sometimes held, etc. I suspect that sometimes the students get expelled. But I know for a fact that if they are repentant they often don't. They stay in school, go through their repentance process, and life goes on. People have their suspicions because they see them not taking the sacrament, but the process is private. It's not public. I don't know that the university is even ever notified. One thing I can say for certain:
THERE AREN'T ANY PRESS RELEASES PEOPLE.
So what is special about the case of Brandon Davies? Why is a start basketball player being singled out? Is it because the basketball is ranked 3rd in the country? Is it because they are picked for a #1 regional seed? So why do we have headlines? Maybe because the church just can't pass up quotes like this:
“in an era in which big-time college athletics has run amok, BYU has maintained its core values and refused to sell out.”The media has got this all wrong. The church completely sold out. It has treated Brandon Davies completely differently than it would have treated any other student guilty of the same honor code violation. It has used and manipulated his "honor code violation" for its own benefit without any regard for the personal repercussions for Brandon, his girlfriend, their families, his teammates, or for that matter the rest of the university. I don't know if Brandon is Mormon or not. If he is his proper punishment might have been excommunication, not being able to take the sacrament, etc. If he's some other religion I'm sure the church would have worked with his ecclesiastical leader for appropriate religious discipline. But the church doesn't typically have authority to suspend you from an athletic team. The church did that to make PR hay.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Now I see a Dr. Oz show that featured a teenager who was born female but has always felt that she was a male. She had a mastectomy and started taking hormone blockers when she started to menstruate. She looks, sounds, and dresses like a boy and psychologically seems to believe quite strongly that she is a he.
They also had a little boy, maybe 4 years old, that has always believed that he is a girl. He is now a bubbling, happy, cute little girl that just happens to have a penis and dress and act like a girl. Her mother talked about all of the psychological problems this child had as he was forced to dress and act like a boy and how all of those problems have resolved now that they allow him to be a girl.
This mismatch between a person's genetic sex and the sex that they believe they are is called being transgendered. I have to admit knowing absolutely nothing about this so I'll be looking into it. But it makes me wonder about the separate issue of gender identity. Is there something biological going on inside the brain or that happened during prenatal development that caused this? Or is this a behavioral things, a mental illness that could be cured through therapy? With something this basic, I'm inclined to think that there is something biological going on.
Of course, if I was still religious this would be pretty easy to dismiss. Mormons in particular insist that gender and sex are one and the same and are an inherent spiritual attribute. Of course, since we can't investigate the spiritual plane, I guess we just have to take their word for that, as trustworthy as that is.
I really couldn't have said it any better. This is from the jewish mother who is suing her divorced husband over taking their daughter to catholic mass.
So what's the harm?
"There will be confusion. There will be an abrogation of her identity."
So the custodial parent, whose greatest fear is that her child will grow up not understanding who she is, has the arbitrary right to force a jewish identity on her child while denying the other parent the right to arbitrarily instill a catholic identity.
Given the mother's bald statement that this is a matter of choosing indoctrinations is it just for the courts to decide which form of indoctrination is correct? Given the mother's admission, I'd claim that the child's best interest would be to disallow indoctrination which is so difficult to undo after a lifetime of programming.
However the constitution allows the free exercise of religion so I'd prefer that the child is raised understanding both parent's religions until she is old enough to choose for herself. In the end the cognitive dissonance will probably serve her well.