Department Of Strange Bedfellows
Because…yeah. I don’t know about you, but moiself would have no qualms trusting the person who extends my eyelashes to tend to my nervous system.
* * *
Department Of Adages Revisited
Sub Department OF Why I Don’t have My Own Marital Counseling Practice
Never go to bed angry.
Translation: Never go to bed when you are angry with your partner, lest a bad feeling hardens into resentment. Resolve the argument before going to bed.
But, that’s not always possible. Sometimes you’re too tired and/or cranky to resolve things diplomatically – that’s why you’re about to “go to bed angry” in the first place. So: go to bed; get some sleep; wake up, have a nice breakfast together…. Maybe, come the morning, whatever caused the argument won’t seem so serious.
Moiself’s suggested classic advice addendum:
Never go to bed angry.
Oh, okay – go to bed angry if you must, but with someone else. 
Actually, I’d say this advice is even crappier:
* * *
Department Of Sometimes The Best Intentions…
I drove past someone’s house recently, and saw a new sign in their front yard. The sign was similar in size, design and “composition” as the Black Lives Matter signs, only with a different message.
The message refers to  stopping the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. However, its phrasing prompted moiself to picture the following scenario: moiself driving past the sign, a well-meaning-but-clueless, elderly relative with me in the car – e.g., my late mother – who reads the sign, then sincerely wonders aloud,
“I don’t understand – what do Asians hate?”
* * *
Cults? – Schmultz! They’re All Cults
“…I remembered Toni Morrison’s statement that ‘the function of freedom is to free someone else.’ Utah wasn’t the Deep South, and we Mormon dissidents were hardly the Underground Railroad. But I did believe that our culture had trapped us, that many Latter-Day Saints lived in mental and social prisons that perpetuated precisely the kind of insanity with which I’d grown up. It wasn’t slavery, but it was a powerful form of bondage: the belief that God had ordained a pattern of secrets and silence, that religious authority always trumped one’s individual sense of right and wrong, that the evidence of the senses must bow to the demands of orthodoxy, no matter how insane. It was a kind of institutionalized madness….”
( “Leaving the Saints: How I lost the Mormons and Found My Faith,”
By Martha Beck )
Dateline: circa 5 years ago; Tacoma WA. Son K and a few of his college buddies are sharing stories about their various experiences with Mormons/the LDS religion. K’s friend and housemate SP is from Utah; SP and his family were minorities, as non-Mormons living in Salt Lake City. After listening to the other’s stories about the Mormon beliefs and behaviors that the friends found odd, SP chimes in:
“You all have *no* idea…. Out here, you have Mormon LITE.” 
K shared SP’s remarks over a recent Sunday dinner, with MH and I and friend LAH, after I’d spoken about having just finished Tara Westover’s book, Educated: A Memoir. The book is gripping, disturbing, at times downright horrifying, and ultimately/eventually a wee bit encouraging. I found Westover’s beautiful prose to be an often-jarring contrast to that which the prose presents: the account of her childhood, raised in a family headed by a fanatical, fundamentalist LD, survivalist, paranoid father (a man who was also likely afflicted with bipolar disorder  ). There were inspiring segments of the book which depicted the author’s inexplicably indomitable spirit (where did it come from, given her environment?); still, I had a headache at the end of each reading day – moiself realized I’d been clenching my jaw when reading through passages depicting the physical, emotional, and intellectual neglect and abuse she lived with, and the narrow confines of her world.
Westover yearned to be “educated,” in a world where women and girls were to aspire to nothing more than marriage and motherhood – in a world where she was told that to want an education was sinful and that women and girls must obey men and boys, even to the point of enduring sickening abuse from her psychotic brother. She did manage to extricate herself (physically, if not completely emotionally) from that world, but at great cost to her psyche. Her portrayal of the cost of childhood suffering, of the power that abusers (and those who abet them) wield, is chillingly insightful. Although I highly recommend the book, it also (and literally) gave me nightmares.
MH recommended the book to me a couple of years ago, and I’d listened to the Fresh Air interview with the author (which aired in 2019). I immediately thought of that interview when I read the first paragraph of the “Author’s Note” at the end of Educated:
“This story is not about Mormonism.
Neither is it about any other form of religious belief.
In it there are many types of people, some believers, some not; some kind, some not. The author disputes any correlation, positive or negative, between the two.”
Well, that was…odd. Most such disclaimers are at the beginning of *novels,* or short fiction collections. (“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”). It made me somewhat disappointed in FA host Terry Gross’s otherwise excellent interview. Did Gross not read the Author’s Note? If she did, why didn’t she ask Westover about it – was that disclaimer something the publishing company’s lawyers insisted on?
Readers generally understand that, even in non-fiction, individuals and their actions are not meant to represent Everyone and Everything. The “Author’s Note” struck me as being so unnecessary – and also, so fearful, of possible litigation, perhaps…and the author’s personal safety.
As per the latter: The LDS church is not as prone to rabid-dog harassment techniques as Scientology (whose “fair game,” policy re critics stated that “An enemy of Scientology, referred to as a suppressive person (SP), may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist…may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”  ). Still, the LDS church has been known to lawyer-up when they think they have been presented in a bad light (in particular, by those who have managed to leave the church). But their most effective defense has been the spiritual training – read: psychological torture – with which members have been inculcated.
When I read Martha Beck’s memoir Leaving the Saints, I remember a section of the book where Beck wrote about the rituals she and her husband  participated in during their temple wedding (aka, “sealing”  ). Beck was willing to detail charges of sexual abuse against a very powerful LDS icon – her father, Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley – yet stopped short of describing the vows of secrecy (re the temple rituals) she and her husband made “for time and all eternity.” I recall she used almost a joking tone in addressing any readers who might be Mormon enforcers, writing something along the lines of, “Hey guys, I promised not to reveal the exact content, and I didn’t, okay? So please don’t disembowel me.”
There was an implicit seriousnessy behind her joshing: fear. She’d written this supposed tell-all book, yet she still was afraid to tell all.
I’d known about the vows Mormons take in temple rituals (in which they acknowledge the penalties they might face for revealing such secrets), but “known about” as in, I only knew that such vows existed – their content remained a mystery. Even Ex-Mos who had openly renounced everything else LDS seemed uniformly silent on the matter. Then, along came Richard Packham, founder of The Exmormon Foundation.
During the 2012 Presidential election Packham was troubled by the fact that vast majority of American voters – the vast majority of *anyone* outside of Mormonism – had no knowledge of the secret oaths Romney had taken as a faithful Mormon. Packham wondered aloud (as, in an article he wrote for businessinsider.com ):
“The question for American voters is: Knowing that Romney has taken this secret oath,  and that he is a faithful Mormon, do you want him to answer the question,
‘Would you feel bound by your sacred oath to obey the law of consecration that you made in the endowment ceremony and use the power of the presidency to benefit the Mormon church?’ “
Packham noted that “In all the extensive media coverage of Mitt Romney, much of it discussing his religion, not a word have I seen about the secrets of Mormonism, the secrets of Romney’s life-long beliefs and practices.”
Growing up as a Mormon close in age to Mitt Romney, Packham was, like Romney, “initiated into those same secrets.” Unlike Romney, Packham left Mormonism and decided to talk and write about it, including describing LDS secrets such as the endowment ritual  and other rituals, wherein Mormons are instructed in the “signs” and “tokens” of the Mormon priesthood, are given special “names” (or “passwords”), and must make an oath to never reveal these, outside the temple.
“…when Romney and I first went through this ceremony, we were taught that each of the first three signs and tokens also had a ‘penalty’ associated with each one, and we had to mime various ways of taking life to represent the penalty to us if we were to reveal the secret signs and tokens: slitting one’s own throat, ripping open one’s chest, disemboweling oneself. Yes, folks, this was part of the most sacred ritual in Mormonism: pantomiming your own bloody death.
So Mitt Romney, and all other righteous Mormons, can be confident that they know the secret passwords and secret handshakes to get into heaven. Do you see why Romney and his church are reluctant for ‘unworthy’ people (the rest of us, including Mrs. Romney’s parents) to know about this?
As Deborah Laake  put it in her autobiographical book, “Secret Ceremonies”:
“The actions that were going to guarantee my entrance at the gates [of heaven] would have nothing to do with love or charity or the other teachings of Christ that I’d been raised to believe God valued. In fact, I hadn’t heard a single one of those words spoken today, the most primary day of religious instruction in my entire life. No, I was going to burst into heaven on the basis of mumbo-jumbo. … The mysteries of life were fraternity rituals. … Did all the white-suited glorifiers in the room unquestioningly accept a ritual of nutty gestures from the pseudo-occult as a sacrament? Those were the first moments when I viewed Mormonism with suspicion.”
Or, as summarized by a Mormon missionary: ‘If we told investigators [prospective converts to Mormonism] about that, they wouldn’t join, because it’s too weird!’ “
(excerpts from, “An Ex-Mormon Describes Some ‘Secrets’ Of The Church”
Businessinsider.com, 7-30-12 )
Lest you think I pick on the LDS too much  back to the dinner table discussion: when moiself described Westover’s book to K and LAH as the author’s story of growing up in a Mormon fundamentalist cult, MH offered his opinion, that “It was more of a cult of that father.” We all then spoke of the fundy cults/offshoots of Mormonism with which we were famililar, offshoots which, like all so-called cults, serve to make the mainstream or parent religion – in this case, Mormonism – look “better,” in a way, especially to non-believers.
Most religious believers deride (and even loathe and/or fear) people in “cults,” but don’t realize they are in one themselves. Mainstream Christians laugh at the gullibility of Mormons who can believe that a god gave a revelation to Joseph Smith through golden tablets (which Smith translated via a magic stone he placed in his hat), but believe their god gave one of their prophets a revelation through stone tablets. They sneer at snake-handling faith healers who babble nonsense (aka, speak in tongues) and believe in prophecy, even as they themselves pray for people to be healed and hurricanes to be halted, and talk about an apocalyptic End Times.
When does a cult become a religion?
* When it is granted a tax-free status by the Government.
* When it progresses from killing its members to killing non-members.
All religions begin as cults. Christianity began as one of several competing messianic sects and became a religion when Paul and his followers began proselytizing outside Judea. Cults fade away when those who knew the founder die. Who remembers the Ranters, the Sandemanians or the Muggletonians now?
(excerpts from “Notes and queries,” ethical conundrums, theguardian.com )
What is a religion, but a cult with more money and real estate, and better lawyers and PR? All religions began as cults – as offshoots of a mainstream religion. Once they achieve mainstream status, established religions benefit from the existence of cults, in that they can point religion skeptics toward the cult’s beliefs and practices and say, “At least we’re not like that.”
* * *
Department of Explanations
Dateline: Tuesday am, morning walk. Moiself is listening to the season 13 trailer for the Clear + Vivid podcast, in which host Alan Alda and the C+V producer preview the new season. One preview plays excerpts from Alda’s interview with theoretical physicist and author Michio Kaku, whose latest book is The God Equation: the quest for the theory of everything. Alda describes Kaku as “one of our culture’s leading communicators… about one of the most tantalizing and hard to understand questions ever raised: ‘Is there a theory of everything?’ – is there some formula that explains pretty much every phenomenon of the universe?” And what would the effects of such a theory mean to you and me?
“The immediate, practical implication of finding the theory of everything is…nothing. It’s not going to effect you or me, I’ll be very blunt with you. However, it will answer some of the deepest philosophical, religious questions of all time….”
(excerpt of C+V interview with Michio Kaku) 
I gotta wonder: should I save Dr. Kaku and his peers some time and energy, by submitting to them *my* concept? In a mere four words, my Theory Of Everything ® :
“Yep; there it is.”
* * *
Punz For The Day
Theoretical Physics Edition
Q: Why should you go out wining and dining with neutrons?
A: Wherever they go, there’s no charge.
A husband walks in on his wife, who is a string theorist, in bed with another man.
She shouts, “I can explain everything!”
Do radioactive cats have 18 half-lives? 
* * *
May you come up with your own Theory of Everything;
May you be grateful toward those who encouraged you to be educated;
May you realize that nobody, under any circumstances, ever needs to have their eyelashes extended;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi
* * *
 As in, not the person you’re angry with.
 I can just about 100% safely assume.
 Move along folks; no footnote to see here.
 A diagnosis he would have rejected in favor of some explanation involving evil spirits and/or devils.
 Who is now also ex-Mormon, as well as her ex-husband.
 Mormons have two kinds of weddings: Temple weddings, and non-temple. Not all Mormons “qualify” for a temple wedding, even if they desire one. “If you don’t know much about Mormon weddings, there’s a good reason for it. The Mormons don’t want you to find out. Temple marriages are top-secret affairs — absolutely no non-Mormons are allowed to see these hidden events. Even some practicing Mormons, who aren’t deemed worthy of a ‘temple recommend,’ will be asked to wait outside. This can be downright heartbreaking for LDS couples with friends and family outside the faith, who find themselves without their loved ones by their side on their big day. (excerpt from “Mormon weddings “)
My sister’s (non-religious) freshman college roommate was aggressively courted by a senior boy who was a Mormon. When they married, she asked my sister to be her maid of honor. My sister, after months of warily watching her roommate being wooed, did not approve of the relationship, but wanted to support her roommate, and agreed. My sister, after buying and then of course wearing the dress, had to stand outside the temple – along with the bride’s parents (who paid for the wedding and the reception)! – during the ceremony, because they were not Mormons.
 Several oaths, actually, but the one Packham refers, “The Law of Consecration,” involves, if Romney won the election, thanking God for blessing him with the presidency and, as per that oath, promising to use that blessing for the benefit of the Mormon church.
 “a ritual reenactment of the creation, Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, mortal experience, and the return to God’s presence. At each stage of this progression, participants make covenants in the name of Jesus Christ.” (So What Happens in an LDS Temple? The Salt Lake Tribune. )
 Deborah Laake was a journalist and editor, raised and married in the LDS church, and was excommunicated by the church “…for apostasy because of her criticisms and also for her ‘detailed revelation of top-secret Mormon temple ceremonies’ ” shortly after the publication of her book, Secret Ceremonies, “a candid and critical account of her experiences growing up and marrying as a member of the LDS church.” ( Wikipedia entry for Laake. )
 Due to the book I read, LDS it was the primary topic, but longtime readers of this blog know I am a skeptic and debunker of all religions.
 I think 12 footnotes is more than enough.
 Thirteen footnotes is even more extravagant.