Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm BACK!!!!!!! No Longer Mormon, No Longer Ex-Mormon Just NORMAN!!!!


That's right.....I am not yet quite dead yet!

Where have I been, what is up in my life, how do I feel since my last blog entry.

Am I mad? (well yes....but not in the way I used to be!)

What would you like to hear about?

Where have I been, what is up in my life, how do I feel since my last blog entry. 

Am I mad? (well yes....but not in the way I used to be!) 

What would you like to hear about?  

I am re-starting my blogging career with a different, more likely positive focus. Here is the main point I want to address. 

CAN YOU LEAVE THE LDS CHURCH AND STILL GROW, BE FULFILLED AND LIVE A WONDERFUL JOYOUS AMAZING LIFE FULL OF LOVE FOR OTHERS AND KINDNESS KEPT IN-TACT?

It’s coming......tell your friends.....tell your neighbors....

NORM IS BACK!!!


I am re-starting my blogging career with a different, more likely positive focus. Here is the main point I want to address.

CAN YOU LEAVE THE LDS CHURCH AND STILL GROW BE FULFILLED AND LIVE A WONDERFUL JOYOUS AMAZING LIFE FULL OF LOVE FOR OTHERS AND KINDNESS KEPT IN-TACT?

Its coming......tell your friends.....tell your neighbours......its coming....NORM IS BACK!

STAY TUNED!!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I think I am done!




Short post.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog.

I think I am done.

I no longer have the anger, the passion or the care to continue the blog, because well, I am no longer angry.

I spent 46 years advocating the beliefs of the LDS church.

I spent one year questioning their validity.

I am done.

I am however, completely shocked, surprised and.......somewhat honored, that so very many active LDS members within my community took the time to read and comment.

It was almost enough to make me want to continue....but alas......I am sort of done with it all.

I apologize to those who felt I was unfair or angry towards the LDS Church. I do not think anyone has made a valid point about my blog being unfair, but it is true, I was a little angry at what I felt the LDS church had stolen from me.

I no longer feel that way.

I am at peace...... completely.

I had many good years within the LDS Church, there are certainly some things I benefited from. There are also some things that I feel 'cost me' if you will, that were neither necessary, nor valid.

For those who wish to leave the LDS church and try to explain why you have done so and what makes you feel hurt by the process, I support you.

For those who wish to stay actively involved in the LDS community, recognizing the many possible things that might make reasonable minded individuals at least question....I support you.


For those who continue to mindlessly follow the LDS Church without any questioning and possibly in a position that is likely not healthy for self or family, I still support you.


I am sorry to those, of my friends who were upset in anyway by reading my blog. This was more for me....then for you. I needed to get the stuff out.....and now......it is done.

Now onto the beauty service and joy part!

Finally I bid everyone adieu :)

Sincerely

Norm

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moriant Post: Documenting D&C Changes, Were The Revelations Changed?

NOTE TO READERS!!!

Sadly as a result of some internet hacks I have lost most of the necessary documentation for this blog. I have some of the items but they are so small as to likely be worthless to the naked eye.

Should the original author (who has now pretty much gone underground as a result of publishing further and important LDS family ties) decide to provide them once again, I will repost the higher quality images. For now, you will have to trust me that I have actually seen with my own eyes the documents to which he discusses in the blog. NT




One of the things that was very important to me during my research, was to do the best I could at locating and finding the source documents and references many LDS church historians and other authors often cite inside their books.

I did so because I wanted to be sure I could see for myself with as little Bias as possible and then come to my own conclusions without trusting anyone for or against the church. In so doing one of the things I remembered reading about was some of the claims David Whitmer said about some of the reasons why he left. So I put on my researcher hat and tracked down a copy of the book David Whitmer wrote, called "An Address to all Believers in Christ." (See Image Below)


As you can see one of the reasons why David Whitmer was so upset and left the church was not only because, "They changed the revelations", BUT that the changes gave Joseph far greater power than what the revelations had originally stated. Granting Joseph greater power through "keys" which were non existent in the original revelations. So I decided to "test" Whitmer's claims to see if they were indeed true.

By this time I had tracked down several editions of the early Doctrine and Covenants including the 1833 Book of Commandments, but even with all these early scripture editions, I still couldn't thoroughly test Whitmer claims until I had bought, a book that I think any serious LDS researcher should own, Joseph Smith Papers (facsimile edition). This is an unbelievable resource and an excellent tool. In essence it provides full sized in color facsimile scans of the handwritten original revelations of the church. While the book is costly it is well worth purchasing. Now I had all the information at hand and I could finally test Whitmer's claims. The following are just a fraction of some of the things I discovered over weeks of doing side by side comparisons.

Book of Commandments Section 4


What I did to make it easier to create a side by side comparison of the two revelations was to splice them into one document as they were published. Each of these images are the actual photocopies of the early revelations as published. Thanks to scans and some photo shop work, I could place them side by side making it easier to see and compare.

There is more to this section of the D&C but this page alone does illustrates the main changes and problems. First I want to point out that yes it is true many of the changes or tweaks inside the D&C versions will be grammatical in nature and I have highlighted those here so you can see, BUT I am not interested in talking about grammatical issues.

In the original 1833 version, the Lord clearly says that the ONLY gift he has given, or will ever give, Joseph is the gift of translation. Specifically, the Lord says: "I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift." What is interesting is that somewhere between 1833 and 1835 the revelation was changed from what the Lord supposedly told him in March of 1829. These changes are significant. Now Joseph will be allowed to receive other gifts after the work of translating the Book of Mormon, and specifically says that Joseph "shall be ordained".

Now the standard Apologetic response will revolve around the idea that we have progressive revelation, and so changes are not that big of a deal. But who decided that? Did God come back a few years after 1829 and say, wait a minute we need to change this, I didn't mean what I said? Or did Joseph decide to make the change? You see one of the main things we forget was that God basically dictated the early revelations. So who decides to edit what God had already previously said? Simply stated by 1835 Joseph had much bigger grandeur views for the church, the church was now in Kirtland, Sidney Rigdon was on the scene and there were also internal leadership issues brewing. So Joseph simply needed more gifts to bolster his authority, and very soon the idea of Priesthood authority would be introduced to the church, which previously did not exist.

Book of Commandments Section 6

The Book of Commandments Section 6 or D&C 7 apparently clarifies what Jesus said to Peter about John the Apostle. Joseph translated this revelation through a "visionary" parchment not an actual manuscript and so the actual parchment is unavailable for investigation.(See Below)


Again, what I have done here to make it easy to understand is to do a direct side by side comparison of these 2 revelations and compare the differences, between them. What I found absolutely became very interesting indeed. There are over 100+ words that have been added to this revelation alone! Note, in the original 1833 version, Jesus never says anything to Peter about any "keys" for Peter, James, and John, and never says that John will be a "ministering angel." Rather, in the original 1833 version of the revelation, Jesus simply tells Peter that his apostle John will be allowed to "tarry". BUT, sometime between 1833 and 1835 the revelation was changed and now John will be a "ministering angel" that will not taste of death and Peter, James, and John will be given "keys" by Jesus. Keys that Joseph would later say were restored to him.

The other interesting side idea is the clarification or change to what "tarry" means. Many General Authorities within the church have explained that John was "translated" and so he can come and go to perform his mission on the earth as he or the Lord sees fit. This is because John by 1835 is linked to the "Restoration" as being one of the Angels or translated beings along with Peter and James in restoring the "keys" or Priesthood which in the original revelation did not exist. However the NT does clarify what Jesus did say to Peter.

John 21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

John 21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

Note the clarification in Verse 23..Jesus didn't say that John wouldn't die, instead it's an IF statement directed towards Peter, and also note there is nothing here to indicate any "keys".

Besides all this we come to the Original handwritten version of this revelation




As you can see there are absolutely NOTHING that indicates that this revelation should read in the way we currently have it in our D&C. Rather instead it matches WORD for WORD the 1833 version. There are no editorial remarks or revisions, no margins nothing to indicate why there is a need to add over 100+ words into the revelation. There is nothing to indicate any keys for Peter and James or that John should be a "ministering angel".

D&C Section 13


The revelation concerning the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration. Completely missing, not only inside the 1833 Book of Commandments but also missing in the 1835 D&C. In other words in the early days of the church there is nothing to indicate John the Baptist ordained Joseph and Oliver with Aaronic priesthood keys.

Now Apologists will argue this was never recorded because of persecution or Joseph was often on the run. On the surface that sounds like a legitimate explanation. But further examination reveals this to be problematic. First off they started recording revelations as early as 1828, so why not record something as critical and important as Priesthood authority? Instead the whole thing is just plain missing period. Yes there are a few pages missing inside Revelation Book 1, but nothing suggests the reasoning to delay the idea of Priesthood authority. Secondly, why hide it from the faithful, even if you were on the run? Instead there is NO diary record, NO church minutes, NOTHING to suggest any kind of "Priesthood authority even existed" until after.

D&C Section 2


Another simple example of a revelation gone AWOL. Yes it is true and in fairness I will grant that they didn't start recording revelations until 1828, but I have to ask why include this SO late? Why create such a late revision to the Moroni story? Again let's ask ourselves what is missing, and what is not. Immediately we can see what is added to the Moroni story is the idea that Elijah will shortly come and reveal the "Priesthood" and restore even more "keys". What is missing is that for the early church the concept of authority and keys just plain didn't exist and wasn't even in the minds of the members prior to a brief mention inside the Times and Seasons in 1834. Instead what we can see is Joseph backdated the story of Priesthood restoration.

Book of Commandments Section 24


A small interesting change but I think showcases the power of changing 1 simply word. I am not so much interested in all the GREEN additions as I am to the changes inside verse 9. Emma was concerned at this point in how were they going to take care of their family. After all Joseph was a farmer, not a schooled preacher and now he has taken up a profession unfamiliar to himself, so how are they going to pay their bills?

Note the subtle yet powerful change 1 word makes. Thy husband shall support thee from the church OR Thy Husband shall support thee in the church. Two completely different implications.

Instead Emma need not worry Joseph will take on the full mantle of leadership, and Joseph will care for Emma and their family through the financial benefit of being "Prophet, Seer and Revelator."

So in conclusion to all this research I had to ask myself the following questions. Was David Whitmer wrong? Did the church change the revelations? Were the revelations changed in such a way as to grant Joseph more authority and keys which previously in the original revelations did not exist? I think the answer to both of those questions in simply yes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

'MY NAME IS MORIANTON'.......The 'Secret Author' Begins His Journey.



I would like to introduce myself on this blog as Morianton. Who is Morianton you ask? Well he was one of the leaders of the dissenters inside the Book of Mormon (Alma 50), and in many ways I have become him although many Mormons would most likely refer to me as, “Apostate”.

You see my story began several years when I struggled through a spiritual crisis but not a faith crisis. I maintained an active status within the church yet I was hurt by local leadership. But somehow through it all I held on to the idea that though locally the church may not be true, somehow the higher ups knew what they were doing and all is well. Until one day during quiet personal introspection while sitting in Sunday school I thought perhaps the problem was me. Perhaps it was I who needed to repent and re find the testimony that once burned so brightly. This is precisely what I resolved to do. Being someone who thoroughly enjoyed research and study I resolved to understand church history like never before. I would tackle the hard questions and develop a stronger testimony then I ever had before, but ultimately this would never happen.

Why do I choose to write behind a name such as this and not my real name? Well the answer is easy. I still have many good friends, family members, associates and acquaintances inside the church. So even though I am no longer a member, I fear not only for what could impact my own relationships, but also for those whom I love. For anyone who has had a crisis of faith you understand what I mean. The glaring stares, the out of the corner of your mouth comments and whispers. Not only towards myself but also towards even those whom I love. That old saying is so very true, within the fringes of Mormonism, “Guilty by association.”

The question as to the motive behind my posts will invariably be asked, “Why bring to light things that are not faith promoting?” “What do you possibly have to gain?” some might even go so far as to say, “See you can leave, but you just can’t leave it alone.”

I think the best way to answer those questions, is to ponder one in return, “What is the cost of silence?” What is the cost to maintain the current status quo in the LDS church? I believe that cost is numbered in souls. People who are made to feel unworthy because they do not measure up, women who continually get oppressed by bad leaders and gays who feel marginalized to the point of suicide and all for what? Truth they say, the one and only true church. “Protect the good name of the church.” At all costs is often the motto. Oh, how dangerous and narrow minded, to bury down and marginalize and oppress all those who struggle to live and maintain a faith inside a manufactured reality. Who wins within this continued silence and pretence that all is well in Zion? Sure, the good name of the church, but is that worth the cost?

It could be you one day, when you discover the truth as you have been taught is not what it claims to be. It could be your son or daughter that one day says, “Mom Dad I am Gay.” It could be your wife who quietly obeys without knowing the freedom to live with equality and voice. But whatever the cost you have to decide within yourself, “Is it worth it?”

I am reminded of a very popular LDS song called choose the right. How do the words go? Oh yes,

“Choose the right when a choice is placed before you.
In the right the Holy Spirit guides;
And its light is forever shining o'er you,
When in the right your heart confides.
Choose the right! Choose the right!
Let wisdom mark the way before.
In its light, choose the right!
And God will bless you evermore.”

What do I ultimately hope to gain by presenting documents and source material that could potentially change someone’s perspective towards the church? Is it notoriety? Fame? Or just to be able to point a finger and say, “I told you so, na na na na na!” No, rather it is my hope to create an open sense for truth and discussion. To help those who struggle, question or sit in the fears of silence to understand it’s OK. That it’s OK to be different, it’s OK to question, and that it’s OK to stand up for oneself in the face of adversity without retribution. That it’s OK to stand up for others, it’s OK to face legalism, injustice and self-righteousness even when it seems all you can do is, “kick against the pricks.” To do nothing means nothing will change, when change is inevitable.

My idea is not to tear down but to raise up one’s understanding to a level that creates an open sense of what is truly true across both sides of the equation, relationship.
There will be those who will disagree with what I will post. There will be those who will brand me an enemy of truth, and a swine not worthy to even wallow in the mire of the light of the restoration. For all those people who may view me in this light may I remind you that Jesus said, “Love one another.”

I think if Jesus were to return today, it would probably be a safe bet to say that he would blow off Sacrament meeting, Sunday school and even Priesthood class. You won’t catch him dozing off inside the temple sessions nor giving high five’s to all the brethren for showing up at the stake high council meeting on time. Instead, he probably would be downtown with the homeless, working in the soup kitchens, extending love and kindness towards the drug addicts and the prostitutes. In short, “Lifting the heads that hang down and strengthening the feeble knees.”

If truth is to stand as noble as a sword why do we continue to sheath it with unrighteous judgment and pride for the sake of bolstering the Ninety and Nine at the cost of the One?

So all I ask in the upcoming posts on this blog is for you to just have an open heart, an open mind and one willing to do what the song truly says, “choose the right let the consequences follow.”




Norms comment:

I am honored to have 'Morianton' join me on my blog. His first release of documentation and commentary regarding the issues that surround it, will likely be released within the next week.

Please feel free to use the Facebook link on the right side of this page to link to your profile if you are comfortable and wish to help spread the word.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sssshhhhh.....Dont tell anyone! (just kidding) Really, really big NEWS




Alright some very exciting things are about to happen on my blog. I am hopeful that all of my regular readers will support me when 'it' happens. That they will post links on their Facebook and help me get the word out.


I am going to have a secret, guest author add some content, commentary, and documentation on my blog.


Why my blog? Well because although small and relatively new I already have a regular audience and I am allowing him to keep his anonymity. for familial reasons which I will not get into here, this individual has chosen to keep his identity a secret. What he decides to share about his story is his choice but I will state that we have connected because of similar experiences in the church.


My experience with LDS people since we departed the faith shows that they feel that they MUST believe that an ex-Mormon was offended, or committed serious sins to decide to leave the LDS church. They cannot accept that these things seldom have much to do with anything about that at all. Especially when one determines or says that simple study and reasoning.....are indeed the reason for departure!


This individual (my soon to be guest author) sought the background and source information of Mormon History to prove to himself it's authenticity, to validate its claims in a hope that he could strengthen his testimony and once again become a more faithful and believing LDS. Because his past experiential life in the Mormon church and culture had shown him many things that caused him concern and problems.


He is a researcher of sorts by trade and knew how to locate the actual documents better than the rest of us.


The documents speak for themselves, some you have seen or heard of them before, however he presents them in their chronological order in a manner that raises many problems for LDS apologists and faithful members to defend.


I won't say too much more, I will allow the documents to speak for themselves, and have him add his commentary.


What is my purpose in doing so.


Recently, some so-called 'friends' have complained that I am questioning their beliefs. They are not happy with some of the things I post on my Facebook page which they deem derogatory towards the LDS faith.


Now to be fair, having been a former LDS member and serving in Leadership, my focus has been on the financial and cultural issues as I see them within the LDS organization and community. I guess they don't like the fact that I ask some pretty tough questions and they likely feel 'offended'.


I do not believe that the LDS church is acting as a religion......I believe it is simply acting as a business and I feel that I can rightly predict how the LDS org. will act in just about any situation, simply by using a financial model as my 'looking glass'.or 'seer stone'.


I have not as of yet discussed much of the historical, doctrinal or documentation issues that really were the major items that got me really thinking about the authentic history of the LDS Church verses the obvious sensitization that has transpired over the years since Joseph received his *third* vision (LOL).


Authors like Palmer, Brodie, Vogel, Whitefield all present a case for Mormonism's authentic historical and doctrinal problems. However, they often do not show the actual textual material side by side in chronological order. This is preciously the direction my guest author took during his discovery and research into early Mormon history. Rather then simply trusting in authors like Palmer and Brodie, his question was always, ok you make an interesting point, now let's see your backup!


For 'some people' (using one of my 'friends' exact words) any type of questioning is far too difficult to accept. I do not see it that way, and neither do many former LDS leaders (H.B.Brown's famous statement that LDS people members need not be afraid to have people question and that they themselves should indeed question in the "marketplace of idea's").


However its fair to state that current LDS leadership have changed their minds on people actually 'studying' anything but approved LDS created material. (isn't LDS material from early church history still approved LDS material?)


Why? Why do they no longer encourage the members to review both sides of the debate?


Due to the Internet, so much accurate, historical information has surfaced that create many valid questions regarding the LDS church's beginnings and authenticity that it is quite likely that 'faith' could possibly be destroyed with truth, in the way I see things. Otherwise, why be so afraid to actually 'look', at their own honest history?


Growing up in the LDS Church, I remember the saying "If you have the truth on your side, you have no fear".
It would seem that this has changed dramatically in the LDS organization over the past several years since the Internet.


Is it possibly fair to state that for some, often multi-generational LDS members who are educated, that Truth may indeed be destroying Faith?


I think it is possible that this is transpiring. The enemies of the church it was said are whom? (women, gays and intellectuals, see Packer).


I like the comment by Duwayne Anderson in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/holly-welker/gay-activists-bear-their-_b_806542.html)


"Today, Gays and Feminists are under attack from the church -- both members and non-member­s. But the LDS Church also targets intellectu­als who don't support the party line and disagree with the "Brethren" on matters of science and history. Few religions are as inconsiste­nt with science as Mormonism, which teaches that the ancient Americans were Hebrews, domesticat­ed horses, and fought massive Roman-styl­e wars with steel swords".


Duwayne Anderson
Author of "Farewell to Eden: Coming to terms with Mormonism and science"


What most members do not know is that this goes on behind closed doors where truth, integrity and honesty are not always part of interviews where leaders care about one thing, and one thing only., that is specifically 'protect the image of the LDS church at all costs". There is no higher calling in the church, no greater priority for the brethren, no more prevalent written or unwritten rule than this one.


Truth goes out the door, integrity is meaningless, kindness is simply not an issue and honesty is seen as apostasy in these meetings where leaders care about one thing only......."Can this information do harm to the Church"? If it can.....WATCH OUT! Your membership is likely over!




One such incident occurred recently in the area in which I live. Someone who I vaguely knew, had started to research the source material information within LDS history in order to 'improve his back-row testimony', or to make a more valiant effort than he had done in the past to align himself with traditional LDS values and doctrines.


He has a special 'skill' for finding information difficult to find in the online world, and so he began his honest and sincere search for documents unwilling to accept others interpretations of such source information.


It was all going just fine, until he put some of the information side by side in a chronological order. (something many researchers and authors have not yet published). Once he did this....well....it all fell apart very quickly as it became apparent that early LDS leaders simply added and manufactured information when needed.


He will be a guest blogger if you will, on my blog......very, very soon!


I can assure you......its worth your time to have a read. It will be very interesting to see how many of you on both sides of the LDS issue, view this information.


Now I wish to make clear. Anyone who does not appreciate my blog, or who does not agree with my viewpoints, or my guest author, should feel at liberty to say so. They should have the right to stand up and make comment.


As long as it is not personally disrespectful I always publish the comments whether I agree or not. However any personal attacks will be moderated, unless their name is added.




STAY TUNED FOLKS!! IT'S ABOUT TO GET FUN AROUND HERE...............'ME-THINKS'

Friday, April 8, 2011

Profit or Prophet? (City Creek Mall). Which one matter's more to the LDS Church?



I have been thinking again, and counting. In 2005 it was only supposed to reach 500 million but obviously over budget and wanting more of the really cool construction things, the LDS Church keeps funneling money to the downtown rejuvenation/shopping mall project. Recent church owned media outlets are quoting the cost now of over 3 Billion 'tithing free' dollars (see note below). The pedestrian Skybridge alone is worth over one billion dollars alone. Imagine the good works and service to the planet that could performed if the LDS church were to call and pay for 300,000 "Service Missionaries" to be called at no cost or burden to their families. This is how many service missionaries could 'flood the entire planet' and serve mankind, were the LDS church to invest in more appropriate causes than giving the good people of Salt Lake City another place to purchase more things they likely cannot afford and do not need.
Imagine the good image this would have given the LDS church in the world, imagine the help to the poor and the needy and the care for humanity that would and could be provided. Wouldn't this have been a more appropriate cause for an organization that calls itself a religious institution then another massive business for profit investment. Which drives the LDS church more? Profit or Prophet? NOTE: Although the 'Prophet' has stated that no tithing funds are used, the LDS Church accounting department does not consider any monies to be tithing once it has sat for a period of more than 24 months. Strange accounting, but technically sound.
Construction Analysis.
 Mohammed Bin Zayed City: $7.1 Billion or $132/sq. foot Sears Tower: $105 Million or $142/sq. foot ... Petronas Twin Towers $1.6 Billion or $367/sq. foot Taipei 101 Tower: $1.8 Billion or $405/sq. foot Burj Khalifa Tower: $1.5 Billion or $450/sq. foot City Center Las Vegas: $11 Billion or $655/sq. foot City Creek Center, Salt Lake: ~$6 Billion or ~$3000/sq. foot
WHERE IS ALL THE MONEY REALLY GOING? NO ONE REALLY KNOWS!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SUNDAY The Absolute Most Fulfilling Day Of The Week!


This will quite likely be a humorous blog, why, because its Sunday Morning!

Its funny, on Sunday mornings I have that old feeling I once had as a missionary for the LDS church, I want to go and share something with the world, kind of feeling.


Its an amazing and powerful feeling, I seem to experience each and every Sabbath day as I consider now indeed what Sunday means to me. Now, I realize that to do so I must be careful and respectful of the delicate feelings that those who do not feel the same way as I do and whose experience is quite different then mine each 'Sabbath day'.......BULL-CRAP!(no that's not the word I was thinking)


Just as I am making my world the place I enjoy and love, there are millions in filling pews all across this continent that are hopefully doing the same with theirs.


Its 10:49 am here in Smithville, as I woke up, actually pretty early for my now normal Sabbath risings. I sit here in my robe, thinking......."hmm what am I going to do today?".



The sun is shining, snow will be melting, I have so much to do, like always......na....the Sabbath is MY DAY OF REST! There is a scripture in there somewhere right, like
.......

Mark 2:27 - "The Sabbath Was Made For Man"

That's right, finally something biblical I can latch on to! I am most certainly following this command at this point in my life. No laboring, (trust me I served as a bishop, Sunday felt like 'labor' to me, every single week!), no work, no worrying about all the crap I have to do the rest of the week. I can sleep in, I can catch up, I can plan my life, I can enjoy my kids and jump into the hot-tub or catch a flick with the family, and on and on.

Life is so full of choices so seldom had in my former life, controlled by callings, obligations, guilt, indoctrination, the long list or rules and obligations. How did I ever put up with it for so long.

I am trying hard to have my blog, as one LDS friend kindly reminded me show the advancing side of our family or....
 

"a place of enlightenment, beauty, service and joy."

In my opinion, that's exactly what I am referring to. At least the enlightenment, beauty (alright I don't look so hot at this moment) but joy.......hell ya! I have more joy right now in just one of my chewed off finger nails then I formerly had in my previous LDS life in my entire closet of blue suits, white shirts and ties (and rather ugly underwear).

I mean, come on lets be honest for just a moment, who the heck really enjoys sitting in church for three hours every Sunday morning, trying to keep our kids quiet, trying to look the part, while some very nice elderly lady with obvious bowel issues continually passes gas. Or if your in leadership, meetings upon useless meetings afterwards.

Sure okay, ya, you get to 'feel the spirit' once in a long while and feel good about things.

I feel more joy in the spirit sleeping in on Sunday mornings and thanking the universe for my freedom of current choice then I ever did in any F&T meeting, or priesthood meeting, Sunday school class, tithing settlement, current calling meeting, special youth meeting, evening leadership training meeting, or bishopric meeting, welfare or ward correlation meeting, or 'bishop I have a problem abusing myself' type of meeting or, 'your members donations are low' meeting, or.......well you get the point, I hope by now.

The only meeting I have on Sunday now is the 'choice of boxers' meeting which is conducted usually in the PM after lots of lazy lounging around, snuggling with the wife, chatting with the teenagers about what is happening in their lives, then the walking the dogs with with my amazing spouse meeting, or the meeting to acquire a Starbucks white chocolate mocha.

Or the "which bathing suit to wear" to the backyard 'staycation' we are going to have in the hot tub or the pool (in just a few more months). And very, very soon the warm weather is going to allow me the privilege of the 'where to take the vette for a spin' meeting.

And you know what....it is far, far, far more peaceful around our home, more 'eternal family' feeling kind of stuff, then ever before on any formerly LDS active Sunday.


Man I sure love my Sunday meetings now!
If I were reading this right now I would likely be thinking "man Norm, it seems like Sunday's is all about you! Kinda selfish inst it?'

YEP!

Sundays are a day, to spend....with me. Where I get to do what I want to do. Isn't that what the scripture above says.....who is the sabbath made for? 


THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR ME!

I love Sabbath days, NOW!

(sorry if this appear a 'your rubbing it in' post, that's not what its meant to be, its meant to be more......YAY me!)


Please feel free to add your comments in regards to what you enjoy about your.......Sabbath!




Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Please tell me I can leave the LDS Church Alone WITHOUT CONFLICT! My Friend Sophia



Recently I had a friend write something pretty cool on their Facebook page. It seemed to click with my once hopeful experience.of departing from the LDS church and all things LDS without any issues, pain, hurt or care.


Unfortunately that was not my experience, once departed.


Its funny you know, even though this has been a life changing and overall positive experience, its also been very hurtful. There is nothing like being de-friended by about 65% of your former LDS friends simply because you no longer believe as they do. Many of my other former LDS friends have seen this stat far higher. Its also painful and hurtful to be called Anti, or apostate or other not so nice names by SOME of the faithful followers of Mormonism, (one close friend called me a Satan worshiper, gotta find my new horns!).


HOWEVER


This is what has NOT happened.


-No job loss,


-No binge drinking


-No broken marriage


-No kids on drugs


-No financial woes (if you only knew the truth about this one)


-No wife swapping


-No sickness


Actually, nothing bad at all, still waiting for the sky to fall, guess that's the real test for the LDS membership, to see simply how wonderful and fulfilling the former Mormon's lives indeed are and not feel jealousy, envy or spite in some manner.




My small amount of experience in regards to this matter of departure from the LDS faith is that those who have given the most (the most committed, the most active, the most dogmatic) often have the most to recover from, once departed.


My friend Sophia wrote an amazing Facebook note. We are Internet friends, but she is one who felt they could simply leave the church and basically be completely done with it!

No issues, move on joyfully without any hurt or pain.



Sophia is a model exmormon in many ways, if you view leaving without feeling like a part of you has died or was taken from you as helpful and healthy.

I wanted to share with you, how she communicated her "decent from on high" to the place on the earth where she now resides.



This is in no way reflective of Sophia's membership activity, but its likely fair to state that she may have been more 'balanced' in her approach to the LDS church as a member than I was.


She has thus far, done a fantastic job of simply moving on, but I think its fair to state that living in Utah for her and her family likely complicates the process tremendously..


Regardless I support her cause, although not easily done. I have seen so very many former Mormons who simply cannot move on until they face the anger, guilt, etc. Many of the stages of leaving the LDS church it would seem are similar to the stages of getting over the death of a loved one I think I have mentioned previously.


Personally, I found it much more difficult than that, but the stages were similar.


I wanted to post her note here for my readers and ask your thoughts.


Obviously I have been given permission to do so, you will likely find delight as I do in her tone, humor and approach.


Dear LDS/Mormon Friends And Family

by Sophia Leckie Shepherd on Monday, March 14, 2011 at 7:55pm
Hello! Thanks for reading! Hey, wait a minute, you aren't LDS why are you reading this??? Okay, fine...




Most if not all of you know I am not LDS anymore. Nobody offended me, nothing dramatic happened with fellow saints, and I didn't misplace my testimony like a pair of car keys to be found at a later date! My experience in the LDS church has always been glowing clear up to the end! Oh, and it has nothing to do with Glenn Beck falling from my grace!


When I take inventory of my life, callings, actions, reactions, experiences, friends, miracles and genuine heart I will dispute to my death the charge that I never had a 'real' testimony to begin with. Sure I am immoral and imperfect but even so I was and am still in a constant state of self improvement which is partly to blame for the situation. I have had a handful of LDS  loved ones friends and family write me exhaustive private massages bleeding with testimony and gospel truths. Many have even taken liberty to write my husband as well (wow). It is easy and hard to understand this reaction and I forgive you and appreciate you because if we were alive in Brigham Youngs time my headless corpse could be found in the back yard as a result of my disbelief and whoever did it would be justified through love! My best closest childhood girlfriend left the church several years ago and my reaction was immediately one of love and genuine acceptance. I won't deny that somewhere a dark side of me secretly popped microwave pop corn and waited for her life to fall apart, not to mention the pity I had for her for short changing her life's potential for happiness, joy, and bliss!


I also decided that no matter what, not being LDS was not in the stars for me and my little family. Period. In fact, if you would have told me a year ago that I would not be LDS and that Satan would pull me by my hair out of the church single handedly I would have had a really good laugh and then cursed you for your complete ignorance. Seeing how I don't believe in Satan and have experienced a quiet in my mind unlike anything I have ever had in Mormonism (maybe Yoga helps too) I would still not believe you. Plus, being LDS is very easy for me! Everything is predictable and prescribed in list format and easy to follow (it was for me)! It is a nice comfortable path, as I once described to an athiest "full of well lighted trails and ample benches and water fountains!" Only to later re-discover 2 Nephi 9:41, 50-52! Funny! I compared his path to having a machedy having to make your way through a dense jungle! A viable and exciting option in life for sure!


Yes, I live in Utah and surely that had something to do with it, right? No. Yes. No. Maybe. Who knows! Utah is dynamic and it is true disturbing and wonderful things exist here as a Mormon Mecca Micro sector of LDSdom but the longer I reside here the more the wonderful things far out number the disturbing things!


I want to provide you with an explanation, a testimony, as to why I am no longer LDS. I am no longer LDS anymore because for ME (that means me not you) to support the LDS church in any capacity is endorsing many things I can not in good conscious (that means in order to not compromise my integrity) support. At the end of the day it was an easy choice (because if I have to answer to God then I have to be accountable and follow my light always-even if I don't want to!). I am a lover of knowledge, simplicity, wisdom, divine nature and God. I believe the scriptures when Jesus answers that the greatest commandment is to Love God and then everyone else. I didn't love people as well as I could being LDS. Further, I believe we are all Gods born perfect with light and capacity that is limited only by our own exposure or lack thereof  to truth and rightousness not prescribed by man, but by God alone with a built in barometer of right and wrong standard on every human being!
Being LDS is a huge distraction to me. I am a huge fan of personal revelation. I am closer now than I have ever been to establishing a house of order, love, and cleanliness not to mention a body and mind that is healthy and congruent. Shortly after the turn of this new year I released myself of all man made precepts, false beliefs, and rely directly on the source now and made new covenants to acknowledge and honor all mankind as my eternal family. Believe me when I say I am happy, more at peace, and continually learning! I know, how blasphemous right?! "By what authority do I release myself if not through grevious sin!!?" you ask... well my own! Okay jokes aside.... Having The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not a bad foundation in this life to start from! It can't NOT be a part of me, its like blood type! A type that my kiddos will be the direct benefactors from!


I am a big reader. I am a HUGE fan of mankind (yeah, you!). From the penniless barefooted across the seas to the Ivy league elite. Acknowledging the light in all men encourages me to entertain all spectrums of ideas. Diverse, controversial, uncomfortable, confusing, clear, and fun! So many brilliant minds on the planet so little time! I have truly been carefully led down to hell because line upon line and precept upon precept I have arrived to a place where I understand that your physiology actually changes based on your beliefs. Your reality changes. (Bruce Lipton's 'Biology of Belief') and I made the funny mistake of diving deep into the Bible's New Testament only to get the wind nocked out of me! At least I was somewhat prepared for it this time! I learned the historocity of the Bible and the reality of its inception and was forced to apply that to my paradigm (Thanks Bart Ehrman!) Life is so much more exciting! I read opposing views. I liked FAIR (Foundation for apologetic and information research) and tread lightly as I digest information available and make decisions regarding it. My decisions don't end up being like anyone else's. I am unique as are my own conclusions based on my own perceptions of the information I am exposing myself to!


Lastly and Most importantly I love you, and cannot tell you how thankful I am for you being a part of my life! I appreciate the respect you have shown me by closing your eyes and dedicating a half of a second to what it would feel like to convert to Mormonism from being Muslim or Jewish or Baptist. How hard that would be to your family still in their respective beliefs! Now turn that back around to a Mormon converting from Mormonism to something else! Sure, I didn't know that was possible either but I am here to tell you it happens. It really happens. It happened to me, I have converted to something else. That something else doesn't have a label, although it maaay be considered "new age psycho babble" to some! 30 years in Mormonism doesn't just disappear. I remember your testimony as it is constantly written day to day by your deeds and your words and your thoughts! Please applaud me, do not pity me! Be happy for me just as you are when one converts to Mormonism! I am still the same fabulous Sophia I just don't give 10% to the LDS church, go to church 3 hours on Sundays, or worship in the temple. My children are well cared for, loved, and also exposed to the faith of our fathers. I would happily support their choices to be baptized Mormon if that is what they want (when they are 16+ years old- that is)


If you are finding that your heart is beating fast, your face is tense, and you feel inclined to hold a special fast in my behalf, please stop. Just love me. Love me. Please just accept and love me. As is.


Namaste


p.s. You won't be seeing a ton from me about it all! I am hell bent on proving one can leave the church and let it alone. The bigger question, will it leave me alone??? :o)




Norms Comments continued



What do you think? Can it be done, can someone leave the LDS church that was faithful, extremely involved, fully committed and really have nothing to say about it?

The jury is out!

Sophia, we all wish you well in your quest, ultimately the problem becomes, can the LDS church leave Sophia alone?

We shall see, we shall see!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BALANCE AND FULFILLMENT




Balance.

Last week I received a message from an LDS friend that I sincerely respect. It was a criticism if you will, in regard to my handling of the recent battle on my blog from a former member of my ward. His criticism was not exclusive to me, but generally critical of both sides and the overall tone of the debate, if you can call it that.



I don't really listen too much to people who live in glass houses as some that have been critical of  my Facebook posts or blogs, however when someone who I respect has something to say, regardless of their beliefs, at the very least it often makes me stop and listen.

This was one such individual. Much of the context of his message I felt was unfair as it kind of blamed me for others reactions and comments, however as I considered carefully the overall purpose of his letter, I could not deny that some of what he indicated was likely true and that I may need to reflect more carefully on my overall attitude towards members of the LDS community and my opposition towards the LDS organization.

It was not that I felt my opinions were wrong, its just that I felt that they may at times not be helpful to me.....I really don't care about whether they are helpful to the LDS community or organization.

In any life-changing event, there comes a time when you feel the need to move on to the next step or place of comfort.

I am there now....I desire to simply move on to a more fulfilling and enlightening place where joy and peace are a greater part of my journey than historical or doctrinal evidences or proof. The bottom line, is that I feel the need to do so for me.....not because of any desire to put my experience or knowledge aside in any way. Simply a healthier focus on what time I have left in this life.

It is fair to state that for many people who leave the LDS church the departure and loss of faith is similar to the experience of a death of a close friend or loved one. The many aspects relating to overcoming the death of a loved one, as far the stages of

  • shock or disbelief,
  • denial,
  • bargaining,
  • guilt,
  • anger,
  • depression,
  • acceptance/hope.
Not necessarily in the above order.

My wife has had an easier time during the departure phase of the journey than I have, we have discussed this many times and its apparent that although she was very much into the traditional aspects of her LDS journey,  she never bought into the spiritual or cultural ones hook, line and sinker as I did. Basically her identity was not formed by her association with the LDS church, while mine definitely was.

I was in, I was in 100% all the way, completely, fully, so when I found out the fraudulent aspects of the history and doctrine and current financial deceptions and my LDS faith and belief was destroyed by actual historical and organizational fact, not only did my belief in the LDS organization fall apart but along with it went my own identity and purpose.

Rebuilding these has been far more difficult for me than for my wife whose identity was not fully formed by her association with the LDS organization. Things like participating in community and writing a blog have been things that have helped me to formulate my new non-LDS identity while allowing those things which I learned of a positive nature while in the LDS org. to continue to be significant in my new being.

Finding myself without clear purpose and identity as a result of departure from the LDS organization, as many have found, place's you in an attitude of hurt and anger as you realize by deceptive means and purpose how much the LDS lifestyle and belief has literally stolen from you. Now stolen is not really an accurate word because we gave freely of our time, talents, money, beliefs and lives. At least as freely as anyone that has a gun pointed at them gives their money to a thief. Similarly the LDS Church threatened us with far worse things then a bullet from a gun......keeping us in fear of our eternal salvation seems to be quite significant and powerful for many people even today.

People often think that those like myself who have discovered these things and then depart, are deceived by Satan, or more often they feel that we must have some sin we are hiding or likely some ulterior motive. It is often very hard for regular members to accept that our own intellect and personal integrity are the true motivating factors.

Do they really believe that we would so easily give up everything we have been taught if we were not ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN of the correctness of the decision? If we are right......the LDS church has stolen much of our lives from us, if the LDS church is right....then we have given up far, far more than a bit of agency and fun in this life, we would have given up our eternal salvation and the salvation of our family members.

There is no way that we would make the decision so lightly.. Even in our worst moment....as I indicated, we are absolutely certain what we have done is right for us and our children........and our children's children!

What I have come to accept though, upon review and careful consideration of my friends letter, is that sometimes being as extreme in my personal opposition to the LDS church as those who are extreme in their view within the LDS community may likely not be any more healthy or fulfilling. It may actually result in a lack of balance similar to that which our lives previously displayed while serving and giving far too much of ourselves and our time and our families lives the the LDS organization.

I do not wish to make the same mistakes, now having my life, if you will, given back to me, as I did when I was instructed to fully give it to the LDS organization.

I therefore have decided to do what I can, to move past some of my more extensive involvement within the LDS community and simply continue to offer kindness and love and support to those who need it most.

There is so much life, still yet to live, that I have no intention of being caught in the reciprocal efforts I once was such an advocate for as a former faithful and fully believing member. Maybe balance is needed and healthier in both places.

I am taking my life back and desiring to move forward, as the purpose of this blog indicates to a "place of enlightenment, beauty, service and joy.".

Please wish me luck on the journey!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

JESUS CALLED, HE WANTS HIS RELIGION BACK!

I have had a little, only a little bit of time to reflect on the past few days, the angry comments by one, the sometimes angry  yet supportive comments by others. I admit, its hard for me to not feel some level of happiness in their support, whether it was moderate or strong, kind or angry. When you are in the public domain of the WWW you come face to face, electronically speaking, with those who love you and those that despise you. These past few days, at times, it has appeared as though I have been in the online presence of both. However the absolutely amazing thing is, that almost all, have been very very generous to me personally. That is indeed a validating experience, no matter how one looks at it.

Maybe that represents weakness, maybe it represents a certain feeling or level of justice, I don't know, but I do know just how humbly, and truly grateful that I am for it.

Along with posting on my Facebook group with my many friends from the exmormon or disaffected community that I have come to serve, and love these past few months (since October 2010) I also received some support from active and less active members who likely have experienced this type of harsh judgement themselves from others that seems sadly so prevalent at times in many LDS wards.

They continue in their own way to be faithful and to honor that which they believe in, often under incredibly difficult circumstances, both historically, and doctrinally. How anyone can judge them for their situation, or opinion, is simply beyond my ability to comprehend. Quite often they are faithful, beyond belief, beyond knowledge, beyond the rational.Pretty hard for me to fault that level of commitment, whether we agree on the foundational principals of the LDS faith or not.

Some have gotten to know me in my relationship with variety of active LDS community's over the past several months and some do not know me very well at all, such as Jacqueline Crockford or Vicki, both commentators who are seemingly aware of many issues pertaining to the Stoney Creek Ward and the Hamilton Stake. Sure, they might be technical outsiders to the ward, but they seem to know more closely the facts and the issues as a member of the Stake and have somewhat of an insiders view as a result. I truly valued both of their comments.

Obviously I am tremendously grateful to my friends in the Exmormon community. Its pretty amazing actually, we are a closed group as no one who is active, but non believing wants to have their 'knowledge' of doctrinal or historical issues made public, from fear of reprisal, The same is true of many exmormon's who struggle to keep family associations, and LDS family member's judgements at bay, and just quietly live their lives in fear of religious institutional attacks upon their beliefs. The funny thing is, within the variety of LDS communities and Ex-LDS communities which I am part of, the exmormons, overall are far closer and more supportive as an entire group.They almost never, have any disagreement with each other. Their firm disagreement is generally directed as a group, towards the LDS organization itself. Not the members.
I so appreciated, the many other LDS people's comments because I found most attempted to be fair to both sides in the debate. However it was clear that they found Marty's comments to be judgmental and unkind. Most of the readers of my blog would not know one of the possibly significant back-stories about Marty's situation which likely added to his concern and possibly his anger at my blog.

I don't know if he is still, for I have nothing to do with my former religious association,  but when our family left, Marty was the Stake Executive Secretary and as such had very close contact with the current Stake President who did not honor his word to me when I was called and humbly offered up my release. It was a month of so later, I believe under political pressure from  a group of saints when he changed his mind and called and told me while away on vacation with my family, that I would be released.

Is this still painful? Sure, it still hurts. Why? Maybe because even today, I have a certain amount of respect for the Stake Presidents character and I am therefore conflicted by his decision, as I know for an absolute fact that he is also.

These two situation, that with the Stake President and my early 2008 release, and Marty's current attack on my character, then apology,, have some similar aspects to be thoughtful of..

They both, eventually apologized, and to be fair, seemed sincere. However both of their apologies were 'conditional'. The SP came to our home a year or so after the release and stated that he truly felt burdened by the 'manner' in which he handled my release. Not the decision. Likely because there was much gossip and speculation that got out of control, and he did nothing to honor my character, which he knows to this day, as I know his character, to be sincere and honorable. He also realized later, far too late, that possibly not allowing myself or my wife the opportunity to defend ourselves and only interviewing our accusers, was short sighted.

Nonetheless, he did eventually apologize for the specific manner in which the release was handled and for totally ending any supportive or kind communication following my release.

I felt then and I feel now that I had personally earned more than that from him as a result of quietly supporting the release, and continuing to be extremely engaged in my service to him and my god, even after I was told.

That was NOT EASY. Many reading this blog, may feel to judge me for this or that, I would ask you to put yourself in my circumstances, to know that you had been completely honorable, to know that ecclesiastical leaders were completely informed of the photo story and had determined you worthy, and told you in no uncertain terms to "press forward" and to "discuss it with no one". Then THEY recommended your name to the new Stake President as a counselor. Most people at this point need to believe that there was more to the story, that I had committed some other sin.

The former SP was led to believe this, he called me and asked me about it saying the new SP was a good man, and "surely you must have committed some un-repentent sin more that the photo's, as I told him I had dealt with it".

All I could in tears........ on the phone was muster as a response which was very weak and unconvincing "no.......nothing.....there is nothing more".
You may or may not like me, or agree with things in my blog, but I ask you, sincerely to reason with me for a moment, so that you might better understand my conflict.

The rational mind is left believing only one of two possible outcomes, either Norm Thompson is a liar and had committed some terrible sin, and had lied to both the SP and the Apostle and somehow lowered their spiritual inspiration regarding his call.

OR

There simply is no spiritual inspiration and that they un-righteously released a good man and ruined his name for the benefit of a few loud and faithful members with the right last name or the right friendship's
Which one is it? That's up to you to decide, and to judge.

My own close relative, faced with this internal conflict, knowing my good character, decided that I had sinned, maybe committed adultery and need to humble myself and repent. Why, because years of conditioning had convinced her that her SP could not be wrong. No matter what her son-in-law or daughter had to say about the matter. It would have been easy for the SP to state, clearly on my release that it was NOT due to any sin of mine. For we know doctrinally their is no sin with the photo, we know I continued to call and set-apart people  and have temple recommend interviews, and attend meetings and dedicate new wards (Brantford) etc. etc. Obviously I was considered worthy to serve.

Doesn't this all feel like a catch 22 discussion. Either way it would appear logically that there was an error one way or another..

No big deal, just one mans reputation and his wife and family's reputation. The Church's reputation is the only thing that matters. not honor, not truth and NOT inspiration.

Why has it been so hard to let go of? Because it took so long to accept that men of good character, like the current SP would so knowingly and cruelly, put the church first, and integrity second when the chips were down and the test likely of their existence was placed before them.

His good character, is exactly the reason it is toughter for me to accept.

This specific and exacting issue, "Why do good LDS leaders push aside truth to protect the Church's image" was ultimately the reason we ended up departing.

It was a terribly difficult question for my determined stay active and faithful brain, to rationally accept. For in the end it went against everything that the good principals of the LDS church taught me to be true.

It simply could not be, if the main focus was on protecting something that was NOT true.

In the end, the true teachings and honestly of Jesus Christ convinced me that the truth must set me free from the LDS organization. Maybe the LDS church, had taught me too well, the valuable principals of integrity and honor.

Not sure if that makes sense, but it is likely the level of respect for the current SP's character that I personally had that is the reason I began to question and is the reason we eventually left!

All of these things, continue to be present in heart and mind.

The LDS Church continues to points fingers at members like me and state "You can leave the Church, but you cant leave the Church alone."

It would seem that many members of the LDS church and the organization itself, is often more than guilty of this same manner of conduct.






.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Apology accepted --Marty's comments added


Yesterday was a tough day ... painful memories resurfaced and caused me to re-live a pain I had thought was finished.  I was touched by the outpouring of love and support from my cyberfriends that I personally know, and also those who made their first comments yesterday.  I didn't receive that support from anyone when I was living that hell - not a single friend stood up for me.  How wonderful to have felt that yesterday. 

So thank you all.
Yesterday afternoon I received a private email with an attachment from Marty indicating his response to the onslaught of comments many from exmormons and quite a few, surprisingly LDS members. I only read through it very quickly as it was family day here in Ontario Canada and we were spending time at the relatives. It was a continuation for the most part of his original post and an attack on those who believe differently than him (apostates, exmormon's etc). I did just now notice that there was a small apology at the end and I am sorry I missed that as my response was likely not as kind as I could have made it. I was not mean, just a bit 'you got what you deserved', or 'please add your comments to my blog more often' as its pretty much gone a little bit viral in the blogging universe.

This morning I received a comment from Marty on my blog - I posted it at the bottom here so you wouldn't have to bounce back and forth from blog entries.  I am posting it publicly because he received a lot of backlash and I want everyone to know that people can work out their differences.  That hurt can be healed. 

Here is my response:
Marty,
Thank you for your apology.  It really did mean a lot to me.  Our family went to hell and back over this ordeal, and not once for a very long time did anyone say sorry to us for what was happening.  Not even our 'best friends', whose son was the one who found the picture and began the sordid affair, apologized for his actions.  'Boys will be boys' was the excuse that was given. 


I can admit that I wasn't a perfect Bishop.  Hell I was so inexperienced, everyone new that.  My personality doesn't allow me to take things slowly ... so I jumped right in, probably alienating a lot of people in the process.  I was relatively new to the ward, didn't know the ward dynamics, and made decisions that unintentionally might have hurt people.  I released a lot of people that seemed tired and over used.  I didn't do that to punish them or let everyone know who was in charge now.  I simply felt they deserved a much needed rest from the burdens of heavy callings.  They probably didn't see it that way, nor did I explain it that way.  But that was my desire.  I truly only wanted to serve my Savior and the members of the ward.  And I did this under the direction and specific guidance of my ecclesiastical leader, the former Stake President.

However, the minute after I was called, things instantly changed for my family.  Friends were no longer friends.  A dinner invitation for that evening was immediately cancelled.  What was going on?  People shook my hand and offered their 'congratulations' one week and then refused callings that were extended by me the next.   Lack of support was evident from the onset.  Certain people refused to call me Bishop (not that I cared about the title).  I was sworn at.   Everything I did was questioned ... everyone knew how to do my job better and they didn't hesitate to tell me. 
I knew that some people were upset with me.  I tried to resolve those feelings by inviting some individuals into my office.  I asked them what I needed to do to fix it- to change their opinion of me.  I apologized for anything I might have done to offend them, in the past or right this instance.  I spent much of my first few months trying to smooth over a situation that I had no control over. 

I never wanted the mantle of a Bishop, but I was going to do my best.  I was likely the last on everyone's list of who would likely be called, that's the truth. Unfortunately, my best wasn't good enough for some people.  And unfortunately, those people were the vocal ones of the ward and shared their disdain towards me with others.  Those who approved of what I was doing were silent and just allowed me to do my job.  I know people complained about me to the Stake President, but I was only doing what the SP had asked of me.  I had his support, so these complaints fell on deaf ears.

Lets also remember that I am not the first bishop in the Stoney Creek to have struggled in this manner. Marty, I was not present in the ward, but my understanding is that your wife's father had numerous issues with the same group I did, and moved out of the ward after a short while, but like my situation this is really just gossip also, isn't it?


The rest is, as you say, is history.  I truly believe that my release had little to do with pictures, but had everything to do with me.  I ruffled feathers, made some people angry, didn't handle things perfectly.  I believe that previous Bishops have been run out of that ward also.  But the problem was mine and my wife and family had nothing to do with that and should have been left alone.  I did the honorable thing and didn't say a word about anything ... until now, in this blog.  Time didn't heal all wounds and this has been cathartic.  It also has allowed my side of the story to be heard.  To this day, some people think that I committed adultery which is why I was released.  That was not the case, but once again, rumor and speculation about Norm Thompson was allowed to circulate.  Why else was a member of the Stake Presidency released so quickly and under special circumstances?  Nothing was done to protect my name and reputation.  I was the sacrificial lamb to save a new Stake Presidency the embarrassment of my personal past. And this was done after personal promises from the Stake President, that it would NOT be done, and that he wanted me to continue to faithfully serve.

When I read your comments and saw it as yet another attack on me, I did what I didn't do previously ... I fought back.  I too, didn't want to hurt anybody, certainly not your family or its good name.  You are a good person, you and your wife serve faithfully and selflessly. I know what that feels like and how ungrateful people can be for your dedicated service.

The Stoney Creek ward needs that pure service. 

Thank you once again for your apology, it meant a lot, and hopefully this chapter in my life and the life of the Stoney Creek ward has been finished.  I wish you and your family the best.





Marty Cerisano said...












I told Norm in a personal email that I had nothing more to say on this matter. I would like, however to say a few more things and then the matter will be closed for me.

First and foremost I must admit that the resurfacing of painful memories has caused me some amount of grief. I have also learned that airing dirty laundry in a public forum is a colossally bad idea, regardless of the intention.

The severe limitations of human communication are enhanced by the use of social media, and this is the single greatest reason why I regret posting my 'issues' with norm on his blog.

I have zero concern for the bleeding hearts who can so quickly criticise given little or no information about the context of the painful experiences of which I made public. Herein lies my regret. These things should not have been made public simply because the people who so vigorously responded have so little information as to render their opinions entirely useless. My issues were with Norm and him alone.

I express my deepest regret for placing this information in the court of public opinion. A place where this kind of matter has no business.

I also publically ask the forgiveness of Norm and his family for airing this painful information in such a public manner. In retrospect I can clearly surmise that my actions have caused them additional pain, and I am deeply sorry. Indeed, my act of posting on Norm’s blog was neither Christ-like nor kind hearted. Again, I am deeply sorry.

The only explanation I can give for my actions is my very protective nature. I am deeply saddened by the Thompson's departure form the fold, but I am further pained by much of the negative information in circulation of late as well. I am quickly learning that the church does not need me to defend it nor be a crusader for my version the truth. And while the church is near and dear to my heart, there is no need for me to take offense at any amount of negative press or apparent discrepancies ‘discovered’ by enemies of the church.

I agree with some of the posts…indeed I am not without sin, and I will take the advice of well-meaning commentator's and allow the Lord to judge between me and thee. Norm, please feel free to delete my comments




NOTE


Although I have forgiven Marty for his unkind and un-Christlike comments, he still, in my opinion has a debt of obligation to apologize to the many others who did not agree with him that he so harshly and unkindly judged. Marty clearly stated at the end of his apology to me, that it was up to me as to whether I wished to delete his comments. For the context of the story and the blog, I do not wish to do so.

Here are Marty's words that caused a firestorm and that brought much attention to this blog.

Marty's words

Now that I have an account I will gladly take accountability for my comments.

There was not one word of gossip in my comments as they are all first hand information from my experiences with you.

You demand to be heard and to be able express your opinions freely, but you deny the same right to others.

Now that you know who made the comments...you can decide whether i am an unhappy or unchristian mormon or not.

Your delusions truly run deep. Its been three years since you were released and if you are flattered for being remembered as a bishop who had a tremendous negative impact on the ward, then you really are your own biggest fan.
I find it really interesting to read your take on things and to hear your description of the events you describe. While i cannot argue with your perceptions and feelings i do think there are some serious flaws in your analysis. Not the least of which is your description of the "creepy" interview with Elder Nelson. My wife and i would have gladly spent time in interviews with an apostle, together or separate. Describing your experience as creepy is really telling...especially now that your intent is clearly to disparage and denigrate at every opportunity. I Have struggled with whether I should make any reply at all to your blog. I don't think that anything i will say will make any difference ultimately. I can't change the way you think or say something magical to make all the pain and problems go away. I do think that there are a couple things that may be relevant to your assessment of the events though. You say a few times in this blog and in other spots that all you ever cared about was serving faithfully and humbly. That you only cared about the little guy on the back row and that you are a man of impeccable character and kindness. I cannot help but think that you are clearly your own biggest fan. I personally dealt with many situations while you were "humbly" serving as bishop where members wouldn't come to you. You where the most arrogant, condescending and self-indulgent bishop i have ever had. It didn't really surprise me that people couldn't come to you. We never had a meeting where there wasn't some amount of drama. You constantly reminded people that your were in charge. We grew so tired of hearing you say "as the bishop" it become a joke to count how many times you would say it in a meeting or a talk. I honestly believe that there was never a meeting where you didn't remind everyone that they needed to follow the bishop even when they didn't like what he said. The two years i spent serving with you were the darkest of my life. Your impeccable character was clearly evident when you pulled the chair out from underneath and 80 year old man when playing musically chairs. It was further displayed when you didn't even help him up. It became clear over the two years that i spent watching you that the only thing that really mattered to you was your position. You are to be commended for those few people you did reach out to. But what can be said of a bishop who was destroying the ward from the inside out. You said that the numbers were up and that the ward was better spiritually because of your service. This is the furthest thing from the truth. I spent many hours in conversation with active, faithful members who painfully wondered how long the Lord would allow you to have such a negative affect on the ward and the members. There was no spiritual growth, there was no unity, there was only drama, contention and frustration. I really believe to this day, that the way the events have worked themselves out is truly a testimony to the fact that the Lord is at the helm. I will never forget the day of stake conference when you were called into the stake presidency...one of your counsellors in the bishopric expressed how grateful he was that you were no longer going to be in the ward. And yet there were others who couldn't understand how a bishop who had done so much spiritual damage could be called into the presidency. At the time this was a great challenge of the faith for many people. All the while i had the strong impression that everything would work out for the best, although i couldn't see how.
As a side note, i must confess that i also received a noticeable spiritual impression that you were indeed called by god to be the bishop of our ward...even though i didn't like what was going on. Even though i hated the way you led the ward i was willing to support you as a member of the presidency...in spite of the rumors we had heard about pictures. I did wonder how you would be able to credibly teach the youth about morality when it was known that you had taken pornographic pictures of your wife. Another side note: I think the person who did the greatest disservice to you was the previous stake president who said that the picture issue was not a sin. In my opinion the fact that you had the picture(s) would have disqualified you from being called. Whether you like it or not leaders are held to a different standard...in and out of the church. You should know this from your business experience. Had the new stake president known you had pornographic pictures of your wife and that 'everyone' knew about them i don't think he would have called you as his counselor. This is just a guess. I do know that the new president also interviewed some less prominent members of our ward and certainly discerned the extent of the underlying negativity that was so tangible in our ward. I know the new president personally and from experience, and i am certain that he would not make the decision to release you lightly especially since he was the one who chose you. Part of the reason i even bothered to make comments to your blog was a conversation i had with a friend of yours and fellow "apostate". He told me when you were still both members of the church that i needed to talk with you to help you see how you were hurting the members of the ward. He thought that perhaps i could share with you how you could better win friends in the ward. I have felt bad that i didn't take the time to do that...although i do believe that it would have made little difference. Your story is almost a picture perfect example of cognitive dissonance and the fable of the fox and the sour grapes. I remember when a certain Texan told me after you were released, that you felt that you were now no good to the church. I knew that day, that you would eventually leave the church. You entire testimony was based upon position and stature in the hierarchy. And since you perceived that you would never have part of the hierarchy again...they were sour grapes. I know my comments will likely fall on deaf ears or even draw the ire of the apostate crowd your are so faithfully trying to endear yourself to. This doesn't matter to me much...i am actually reminded of the salt sermon delivered by Sidney Rigdon when referring to the enemies of the church, i think those sentiments are not entirely inappropriate now. I am saddened by your departure, whether you think i should be or not. I am saddened that you have been short changed by the adversary. I am saddened that you have exchanged your inheritance for a mess of pottage, that you have bought into the idea of short-term 'freedom' instead of enduring for the long-term reward. Shame on you for being so short-sighted. Shame on you for abandoning your testimony and for setting such a poor example to my family and the families in the ward. It is clear to me now that you never really understood what the church is really about. After all of the years spent "humbly" serving you missed the whole message and even now, not surprisingly, you have still have missed the message.