When a True Believing Mormon (TBM) stumbles across something in black and white, published by the early church, that completely contradicts the pristine narrative that the church presents about its early history and leaders they are left with a bit of a quandary – What is truth?
Technology vs. the Shaman
We live in an age where our minds are accustomed to having the truth of things of the world presented and backed by logic, evidence, and science. If someone claiming special knowledge and power, like a shaman, were to state that there were people who lived on the moon or on the sun, we would look for them to provide evidence to back up such a claim – since we know that there are ways to establish the truth of such statements. Before the modern age of science and reason, however, people could make outrageous claims and since technology had not developed means to test the truth of those statements, no one could prove them wrong.
“There are men, just like us who live on the sun!” says one ancient shaman. “Our sun gets its light from a powerful distant star near the seat of God!” says another. Since there is no way to test these statements – the ancient primitives are imposed upon to trust that the shamans have access to some special extraordinary knowledge. Remember – no one can prove them wrong. There is always this lingering suspicion, however, on the part of the primitives – what if that shaman is just lying to get attention and power? The acceptance of these ‘truths’ are only tied to the shaman and just as soon as enough people are willing to denounce the shaman – he may be disposed of outright and the false statements may be similarly abandoned.
(As an aside, the progress of technology is probably one of the reasons modern day shamans have confined their prophesying to the metaphysical realm – no more predictions of Quakers on the moon)
The Myth of Truth
This is an acknowledged shortcoming of any self-respecting shaman’s game of deception. At one point, however, some of the most intelligent shamans figure out the secret to overcoming this weakness. While it is not too hard for someone to reject another person, it is much harder to get someone to reject their own senses, feelings, and beliefs. The greatest shamans will make outrageous statements and then tell their followers not to believe based on the shamans testimony – but to turn to their own feelings to confirm the truth of the matter. Of course, the shamans will not say it bluntly like that. They will compose a “myth of truth” and tell the primitives that God or the universe will confirm truth through those feelings. (The fact that this myth is just as suspect as the question for which one would apply it towards is usually lost on the primitives.)
The Tender Lie
Compounding this trap is the fact that the most successful shamans will use fantastic claims that appeal to the hearts and minds of the primitives. Grandios stories of potential exaltation, eternal life, abundant treasures – all fantastic and desirable things. The shaman will plant the seed hand-in-hand with this good news that he is uniquely gifted to shepherd the primitives towards these great promises. By offering devotion and deference to the shaman the people can gain all that he tells them that God or the universe has promised. Furthermore, these promises and requirements of devotion are couched in the tender compassionate terms that ardently speak to the best nature in mankind. By committing to the shaman and his tender lie – the primitives demonstrate their humility and willingness to submit to God, but they don’t realize that they are in fact just submitting to the shaman.
To the primitives mind, it is so appealing! Good shamans will mix truth with lies so effectively that the primitives can’t tell the difference: Exclusive knowledge about unknowable things; A God who is perfectly loving and benevolent; absolute certainty about life in the present and in the hereafter; comforting surety about the familial bonds that bring us joy now lasting forever – all of these things are very desirable to the primitives mind. They want them to be true – they need them to be true. “Ask of God – and your bosom will burn or your heart will feel peace – and you will know that it is true” The primitive focuses all of his thoughts on these desires and the pure possibility of them combined with his own intense desire resonates within his psyche and he experiences a feeling. Perhaps it may be similar to the feelings he felt while listening to a rousing speech or sharing an emotional bond with a loved one – but it was there and it was real. Feelings are undeniably real – but this does not mean that they reliably indicate truth.
The Shaman seals his lie into the heart of the primitive linking their fates together. A protective barrier that will shield both the shaman and the lie – for when or if the devotee ever doubts or questions the claims of the shaman – they must now doubt or question their own faculties. It is no longer the simple matter of rejecting the shaman – they must reject at least a part of themselves before they can reject the lie.
Pride & The Missionary Trap
Furthermore – what if they have spent years testifying to others of the shamans ‘truth’ that they believed their feelings confirmed? When or if they discover that it is false – then they must face the humiliating fact that they mingled their own integrity with that of the lie and sold it to others – doing the deceptive work of the shaman for him. Suddenly, to accept the lie for what it is also means having to be humble and acknowledge that they were taken in by a swindle and perpetrated it upon others. To expose the lie means admitting that you were gullible enough to believe it in the first place and complicit in deceiving others.
All of these negative pressures upon one’s psyche create an even greater pressure not to acknowledge the lie for what it is. Denial of the truth becomes a defense mechanism – protecting the individual from the painful implications of their involvement with the lie and ultimately defending the position of the shaman and his deception. No one likes to feel like a dupe or acknowledge that they unwittingly duped others.
Bringing it closer to home – Mormons rely on a passage in the Book of Mormon to bring members to accept the validity and integrity of the Book itself and by association the prophet who brought it into the world. Investigators to the faith are told to read a promise contained in the Book of Mormon:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
This ingenious verse establishes the method of asking and sets a sort of double bind upon the investigator. If the seeker experiences that resonation of feelings, he is to attribute it to the Holy Ghost and interpret it as a confirmation of truth. If no such experience occurs, however, then there must be a defect in the heart, intentions or faith of the investigator.
The missionaries will never allow the possibility that the book is not true – and so failings in the seeker are assumed. Perhaps there were sins that they still held from God – drinking coffee, lustful thoughts, anger towards a neighbor or doubt. The investigator is urged to clean themselves up and try again – their hearts insincerity or their lack of faith or real intent must be overcome! Finally, the seeker is compelled to accept any sort of feeling as a confirmation – a bit of undigested gravy, heart burn, anything will do to confirm that their heart is sincere and they may pass the test of faith.
Other People’s Folly
“The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” – Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s observation about other people’s religion is actually an important step that one can take in seeing through the trap that the shaman has laid. Mormon’s are not the only faith that relies upon some manifestation of feelings to testify of truth to its members.
Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other faiths use these reassuring feelings as a means to determine truth and they all point to conflicting conclusions – yet people still adhere to what those feelings affirm to them. If the holy ghost or spirit (or whatever the explanation is provided for the feelings) was a reliable indicator of truth it should direct people to the one true religion and all these people in various faiths should converge on the one truth. They do not. Each of these groups experiences the feelings under the auspices of the “myth of truth” – binding them to their own group and the shamans over them.
Lessons From Mormon Offshoots
Examining the various offshoot sects of Mormonism presents an especially unique perspective, however. Each of these groups still relies on the Book of Mormon and the exact same promise to testify of the truth of each sect. Why does the Holy Ghost not tell investigators of the Community of Christ, or the Fundamental Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) that they are false and lead them to the one true mainstream LDS church? Members of those sects experience and use the exact same test and the exact same feelings – what would a member of one of these groups do if confronted with incontrovertible proof of the false nature of their shaman?
It turns out that circumstances have produced such an experiment – watch this clip:
That is the prophet of the FLDS group Warren Jeffs giving a revelation from jail. In this revelation, he admits that he has lied about the whole thing. He states that he is not a prophet nor has he ever been a prophet. He reinforces this and makes sure his followers will believe him by stating “This is not a test!” Despite hearing this from the mouth of the man himself using the same means of ‘channeling God’ that he has previously pretended to, his scribe cannot accept or believe it, exclaiming “You are the prophet!” and “we love you!”.
The FLDS use the exact same test to know the truthfulness of what they believe – they pray about it and receive a prompting from the spirit testifying to them of the truthfulness of their interpretation of the Gospel and the divinity of their prophet and leaders. The strength of their devotion is proven by the fact that the scribe still believes even after definitive proof to the contrary. How could the scribe accept the Prophet’s confession of betrayal when his own test of truth had confirmed the divinity of the Prophet? He would have to admit that his feelings were not an absolute indicator of truth. Even the Shaman himself may be powerless to break the spell that he has cast!
Belief is clearly stronger than facts or evidence.
This is just one example among the multitude of religions that all use similar methods to bind their believers to their respective shamans. It is clear that the emotions and feelings that are being described as the Holy Ghost do not actually and reliably indicate truth. This does leave the question of what it is that creates all of these feelings that people are undoubtedly feeling.
If somebody said that they could make you feel those feelings as a sort of programmed response – what would you think? Could you be manipulated in such a way? Watch the following YouTube Playlist in order and take note of how you respond to the various depictions:
If you are not at least partially moved to tears (or a desire to purchase life insurance for your parents) by the time you get to the last clip, then you need to be locked up as a dangerous psychopath. The producers of these videos knew exactly what response they wanted to elicit. Why can we be so predictably manipulated by emotion in such a way?
When you read, hear or experience something that confirms or magnifies what you already believe or want to believe and which means a great deal to you – your mind and emotions resonate with it and you experience a palpable visceral and emotional response.
In the case of these videos – we already have a strong belief in the sacred nature of familial love and our own feelings for our loved one’s resonate within ourselves as we empathize with the events in the clips. These videos deal with family based dramatic events and the flavor of the emotional response is colored by that. There are other videos which could produce similar responses which resonate patriotism, peace or love. Conversely other videos could be used to resonate and amplify hate, anger, or despair in people who already cultivate such beliefs and feelings within their hearts.
This phenomenon is the foundational basis of advertising, marketing, and propaganda. The perpetrators of these arts attempt to illicit an emotional resonance within its audience and then link whatever product, concept or program they are promoting to that feeling. The viewer then develops and affinity that they believe comes from within themselves rather than from the manipulators behind such instruments.
This explains why these feelings lead people in various faiths to believe in those faiths – each faith is providing them with a message that resonates with what they want to believe or already believes about God, life, and existence. These are all matters of great importance to the investigators and so the possibility of an emotional resonance is very high. This is what produces the feelings – they are not a cosmic barometer of truth! The shaman already planted the myth that truth is manifested in such a manner, however, and so all of these investigators are bound to their shamans and their deceptions by an even more insidious and powerful lie that few if any even realize exists.
Personal spiritual experiences
Many people have had personal spiritual experiences while under the spell of a deceptive shaman – and they use these experiences as evidence of the validity of their particular faith. This happens to Mormons, Catholics, Muslim – all faiths. Atheists will tell you that your mind has made unjustified connections about random events. Did You receive a generous gift of just the amount of money that was needed to provide for an essential need? “That was just chance, and you wanted to believe that God was watching over you so you made a false connection in your mind,” says the atheist. It is true that these events could be explained as simply as that.
For those that still believe in God, stepping away from a deceptive and manipulative shaman comes several realizations. God would not consider your being a victim of a charlatan as a reason to deny you blessings or turn a deaf ear to your supplication. The times that you felt true peace when it was most needed, the comfort of a friend at just the right time or the healing of a loved one’s body or mind – all of those blessings come from God no matter the circumstance or the lies under which you were bound. To a Mormon, this explains why there can be stories of miraculous healing from those of other faiths who do not have God’s Priesthood, from which those things are supposed to come. The shamans want you to believe that the only reason you are privileged with those experiences is because of your adherence to their creed. They use God’s blessings as a trap to bind you closer to them.
Breaking free from pride
The antidote to this binding deception is a tough pill to swallow. It is that way by the design of the shaman. A person must humiliate themselves by acknowledging that they were taken in. They must admit that all the time and energy they spent promoting the lie and the shaman was done so in the service of a sham. It is, at first, humiliating but then becomes liberating.
Truth seekers willing to let go of the pride that binds them to deceivers break free of the hold that the shamans have upon them. Once free thy can start to examine the world and their life honestly and without holding a part of themselves in reserve or captive to the will of another. This allows a seeker to pursue a relationship with God free from the unfounded and deceptive dictates of other men.
The Difficult Way Out
The pathway is not easy for the newly liberated primitive. The shaman specifically tailored their deception to provide reassuring answers to all of the fearful uncertainties that man has struggled with over the ages. Realizing that those comforting tales were simply the honey in the trap that they were bound in presents a frightening reality. Suddenly you must reanalyze all of those issues and come to your own conclusion about them – without some other person providing you with all the answers. In many instances, you will have to acknowledge that there can be no certain answers to some questions in this life.
Despite the difficulty, looking at the world through fresh eyes, free to follow the dictates of your own conscience can be extremely rewarding. The unanswered questions provide opportunities to explore the possibilities of God and the universe. Someone breaking free from lifelong shackles is free to honestly approach the thoughts and experiences of men of all different faiths, philosophies, and persuasions and find what speaks to their heart and understanding of God and adopt it as their own.
The shamans will line up to ridicule the liberated mind – mocking them as standing for nothing or being subject to the whims of the world. The hidden truth is that by accepting the lies of the shamans one is shackling their mind to the whims of other men. They are denied the possibility of accepting truths that are outside of the shamans web of deception and control. Breaking free from those chains allows men to use the mind that God has given them to find truth no matter where it comes from.
God did not grant us inquisitive minds and the capacity for logic and reason only to have us abandon those gifts when it comes to the things that matter the most.
P.S. Supplementary Music Video
The above video is for the song “This is Gospel” by the band Panic at the Disco and it contains a visual representation of the concepts discussed above. In particular, around the 2:10 mark it shows the man having his belly opened up to reveal rope within him. That rope is taken out by the practitioners working on him and the very rope from within him is used to bind him in the next segment of the video. The symbolism is not subtle and it is very apt. Check it out.