Thursday, November 26, 2015

That Awful Squeeling Noise

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

Well That Was Easy

It appears that the church is getting used to people resigning and is streamlining the process. On November 9 I sent an email to the church resigning my membership and yesterday I got a confirmation letter from them confirming that they had processed my resignation. My email was terse and theirs was equally so. No pamphlet inviting me back, not waiting period, not contact from the ward, no statement that it had to be handled locally. They just did it and it only took a couple of weeks.

If you're wondering, the email address is:

The text of the email was:
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
Bull's house 
I think I am in the Local Ward
 Last 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.