Almighty Father and the Forsaken

What are your reactions to this dialogue between a young girl and her father?

Girl: Daddy, can I talk to you?

Father: Sure sweetie… what is it?

Girl: I just heard some really disturbing information, and I don’t know what to do about it.

Father: Oh yeah…like what?

Girl: I just heard one of my friends talking about some stuff that was against what we believe in…and it is really bothering me.

Father: Like what?

Girl: I heard that ____________________, and ____________________, and it seems like she is making a good point, but I don’t know what to tell her.

Father: Are you sure she is the kind of friend you want to be hanging around?

Girl: She is the best friend I’ve ever had.

Father: There are powerful forces in the world that are blinding some of the very best and most elect people and causing them to disbelieve what they have always believed and know to be true. It is so sad to me to watch this happening. It does nothing but strengthen my resolve and deepens my testimony.

Girl: Daddy, do you know what the answer is, and do you know for sure that what we believe is for sure for sure true?

Father: I sure do. I know it with every fiber of my being.

Girl: But, how do you ‘know’? Isn’t that just another way of saying you really really believe it?

Father: Well… I guess I can see how you can see it like that, but I want you to know that I know more certainly than anything else in this entire world that what we believe is the most correct.

Girl: Daddy, have you ever wondered if you might be wrong?

Father: I most certainly did when I was younger, but now I have had experiences that have confirmed to me the truthfulness of what we believe beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever.

Girl: Would you give your life for it?

Father: I most certainly would. It has moved from belief to an absolute knowledge that is too precious to let go of for anyone or anything. I would give my life for it in a heartbeat.

Girl: My other friend who thinks we are completely wrong, has told me that she would die for her belief as well…and that she studied all kinds of beliefs and said that God finally spoke to her in an undeniable way that she is right and we are wrong. She also brought up some good questions that I didn’t have the answers to.

Father: Like what?

Girl: She said that these two beliefs of ours both can’t be true because they contradict each other. _______________________ and ________________________________.

Father: She doesn’t know what she is talking about.

Girl: I can kinda see what she means. Do you think those things contradict each other?

Father: It’s getting late and I think you need to get some rest… why don’t we talk about this some other time.

Girl: Daddy, I won’t be able to sleep…this is bothering me so much. I feel like I need some answers.

Father: There is a good answer for all of it, and we can talk about it later.

Girl: If there is a good answer, how come you can’t just tell me right now… I don’t know if you understand how bad this is bothering me.

Father: Look, I have had a witness so clear that what we believe is the truth that I would never be able to deny it.

Girl: That is exactly what my friend said.

Father: I don’t like your tone. Are you back talking to me?

Girl: No…not at all. I am just wondering if you have an answer, why you can’t just tell me?

Father: God works in mysterious ways. You really do need to go to bed now. Don’t forget to say your prayers.

Girl: That’s the main reason I came to talk to you. I was praying about it earlier and was confused because I felt like my friend has a really good point.

Father: Well she doesn’t, and I can promise you that.

Girl: Daddy, this is really affecting my ability to believe what I’ve always been taught by you guys… please help me. It feels like I am on a boat that has holes all over it, and I can see that it is sinking, and I am trying to patch up the holes as fast as I can, but it isn’t working…and now I am coming to you to help me patch up some of the holes, and you are just telling me the same thing my friend told me about how she ‘knows’ she is right, because of these powerful feelings she has had, and not actually helping me patch up the holes.

Father: What are you trying to say?

Girl: I am saying that this information seems legitimate and it completely makes it hard for me to say I still believe.

Father: Are you trying to tell me you don’t believe anymore… I can assure you that very, very bad things start to happen in your life when you start to doubt.

Girl: What kind of bad things do you think will start to happen to me, if I don’t get answers to help me believe?

Father: I don’t know exactly, but we’ll see. What you need to do is doubt your doubts so that won’t be your fate.

Girl: I’ve heard you say that before, so that is what I was trying to do. I was trying to doubt my doubts, then I realized it didn’t take too long to keep going on that path. Then I was doubting the doubting of my doubts, then right after that, I was doubting the doubting of the doubting of my doubts…and it is really troubling and confusing to me where that cycle stops.

Father: What are you trying to say?

Girl: I guess I am saying that, in all honesty, I can’t say that I believe right now, and I don’t know why God is not helping me.

Father: You are confused. The adversary is the author of confusion. You already know that. You need to stop talking and go to bed right now. You are clearly under the influence of the adversary and does not belong in our home.

Girl: Would you still love me if I didn’t believe anymore?

Father: Go to bed now.

Girl: I really need to know if you would still love me, if I told you I didn’t believe it anymore.

Father: (sternly) I have had a witness so powerful and undeniable that it is true, I know you are completely wrong…and you will too soon… give it time. Now go to bed.

Girl: (starting to cry) My boat is sinking. I’m feeling depressed.

Father: See what I mean, when you doubt, that is what starts to happen.

Girl: That is not what is making me feel depressed, it is that fact that you are supposed to be my safest place to get help and find refuge, and I am in need more than I ever have been, and you just keep telling me to go to bed, and you can’ t give me any answers. I’m beginning to think that there aren’t any answers, and that is why you can’t help me patch these holes in my boat.

Father: You need to stop talking this instance. I will not have this kind of contention brought into our home. The adversary is the author of contention, and you are falling right into his trap. This conversation is over.

Girl: (sobbing and starting to retreat to her room) Is your witness more important than your relationship with me?

Father: Silent

Girl: (still sobbing) Are you going to forsake me, and get a greater reward when you die, like it talks about in the scriptures?

Father: Silent.

Girl: (sobbing uncontrollably) I think you really do think your beliefs are more important than your relationship with me.

Father: (Shouting) I’VE HAD MY WITNESS!

Girl: I can’t believe what I am witnessing right now. I feel like I want to die.

Father: See… more evidence that THAT is the adversary.

Girl: Without helping me patch up the holes in my sinking boat, can’t you see that you have taken it upon yourself to be my adversary.

Father: Stop talking now.

Girl: Are you afraid? Where is your courage? It doesn’t feel like you love me.

Father: (Resolute) Maybe I am. I do love you, but this conversation is over. You are never allowed to talk about these things again in this home.

Girl: If you love me, don’t you think I should be able to feel it. I guess you and I have different interpretations of what it means to love someone. I guess I have my answer as to whether or not you would forsake me. Another friend says what we believe in is a cult, because I wouldn’t be able to leave the group with my human dignity in tact. (Retreats)

Written with a very heavy heart tonight,

Kenn

(Story is approximation of primary pieces of the ongoing dialogue between this girl and her father)

To every Mother and every Father of every single person in similar shoes to this girl: (a real girl who I know and love deeply, and her real father) Wouldn’t it be worth it to take a much longer series of moments to contemplate the impact of forsaking, at any level whatsoever, loved ones who honestly no longer believe what you may consider to be the ‘most complete’, or ‘most correct’ belief…that you were most likely born into? If you are wrong, wouldn’t you want to really ‘know’, before treating familial relationship so flippantly? Whether you are religious or not, I hope you could answer definitively in the affirmative on the humane, decent, and more loving side of that question.

Feel free to send a friend request on Facebook, if we seem like the kind of people you’d like to connect with.Kenn and RuthAnn https://www.facebook.com/kenn.sullivan We have made some of the most amazing and authentic friends. They have been very instrumental in our much needed therapy, and we are very grateful to have connected with them, since ALMOST ALL of our believing friends and family have, in their minds somehow ‘righteously’, at some level, ‘forsaken’ us. We look forward to adding many more amazing and authentic friends to our lives. You can also email at: kenn@linkingarms.org or ruthie@linkingarms.org

Religion: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

on a boatWARNING: This post hits on sensitive subjects regarding my opinions regarding religion, belief, and ‘When Jesus Christ’s Morality Stopped Making Sense’ to me. In a moment, I will spell out some of the good I received from my religious experience and absolute devotion and personal friendship with my ‘Savior and Redeemer’. Then, I will touch on some of the harmful aspects I have traced back to it as well. With that said, I am not feeling I have arrived, or that I have the answers now, but for reasons I deem very moral, feel to be open, direct, and honest about my sincere teachable little boy inside who is struggling to make sense of it all. If you are not interested in this kind of subject matter, then this post would be one to pass on. I know that I will most likely be judged for this by some. Having traversed the valleys that we have, I have gained an increased desire to stick my neck out and be vulnerable, because I now care in a more profound way than I used to about this type of obviously harmful social problem that all of us face.

I am fairly sure some reading will likely feel the need to judge my current opinion as definitively incorrect. I am not writing to them, rather for them, and for me, and for all of us; weak, feeble, and vulnerable humans trying to make sense of it all. I have come to see too many relationships torn apart, because of unwillingness to truly try to ask questions, then listen to really try to understand where someone is coming from. What we all have in common far surpasses what currently divides us. We are all in this together. I am writing because I sincerely want to try to contribute in whatever way I may be able to help attempt to make the world a better place, a safer place, a more loving place.

Although I received so much, of what can be considered ‘good fruits’, throughout my religious devotion, I have now become acutely aware of some of it’s, as Christopher Hitchens called it, “ultimate wickedness and stupidity”.  I am as honest as I know how to be when I say that I feel that much of my life, capacity, and resources have been dedicated to organized superstition. I find the God of the Bible to be much less moral than the direction my internal moral compass points me in. The Old Testament is laden with examples of a deity that wreaks havoc on his own limited capacity creations, and the New Testament is much better, but still has major problems that don’t fit into what feels right intrinsically. I want to be good. I want to be moral. I want to love and be loved, but the Bible has failed, on a whole host of levels, to convince me of it’s overarching goodness and morality. I’ll get into that more in a minute.

As a full-time missionary, I loved to recite a quote I had picked up on, “ Pride must be prickly, because it sure does hurt when you swallow it.”

I now know with first hand experience, that it next to impossible, in the beginning, for anyone to acknowledge that a large part of their life has been consecrated to folly, fable, or fairy tale. But, walking in these battered and holey moccasins, I’ve experienced the extreme discomfort of swallowing my pride, which was there in abundance and I was not self-aware, and asking myself, “If what I hold to be near and dear to my heart and most sacred really isn’t true, would I really even want to know?”

Before continuing any further, ask yourself that question, and take at least a minute or so to let it marinate:

“If I am by some chance wrong, about anything, would I want to know about it?”

WrongIf you are reading this, you probably know bits and pieces of my story. Having my entire identity as a human being torn out of my heavy heart, was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. Because of what I have been through, I see a whole new world that I didn’t know existed before…a world where Religion and many of it’s zealots masquerade in more ways than one…some, very bad for humanity, and many people are needlessly suffering as a result.

Before I get lambasted, and tossed out with the bathwater regarding the potentially controversial opener, allow me to explain myself.

THE GOOD

I did the whole hellion thing as a teenager and into my early twenties. Based on my decisions, on many occasions, I could have easily ended up dead or in jail. Then, I converted to the Mormonism my Mother did her best to raise me with, and I converted hard. I knew of her goodness, and I knew so many good people that I had grown up with. They had several things about life figured out far better than I had. I was ready. I was, as we called it in the mission field, “Golden”, admittedly needing drastically to turn a new leaf. The track I was on was clearly not leading me to personal fulfillment, then I humbled myself to accept the goodness of the religion I had been raised in.

Although I now realize that most religions and life philosophies have adopted some of the values that seem to be better ways to live in the world, it becomes very difficult to definitively name any one of them as the founder, or most special or chosen licensee of these ‘values’.

Because I have learned about my capacity to be swayed by my own biases, it seems only healthy and fair-minded to detail the good that I gleaned from in my time as a devout believer in Mormonism. Among many other things, being taught the following, brought much joy, and in my estimation, in many ways, healthy thinking:
Bri
Love, respect, forgive, do not judge, be grateful, be patient, be honest, have integrity, care about truth, be accountable, be moderate, be temperate, apologize, have empathy, value family, value community, have stalwart courage, be generous, be humble/teachable, value knowledge, be persistent, be proactive, care about quality, volunteering of my time to help others, work hard, team building, and magnify my talents to do my best to make the world a better place, etc.

As a youth, being asked to give a talk in front of an entire congregation of people was helpful for me to learn about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. That has served me positively over and over in my life.

Additionally, being on my own, with plans needing to be made and a schedule to keep, helped me grow up more efficiently than had I not gone on my mission. Spending so much time thinking about others and how I may be able to help them, feels like it had a balancing effect in my life.

These things seem to have brought many ‘good fruits’ into my life over time…and I am grateful for that.

Being the natural optimist that I am, the list goes on and on.


PONDER THIS

Imagine for a moment your most precious relationship, and some of the treasured lifetime memories you’ve created together. Maybe it is your mother, father, a grandparent, and aunt or uncle, a sibling, a cousin, or a cherished friend, etc. Now imagine that person decided they no longer wanted to have contact with you. In other words, you find out you have been ‘forsaken’ by them. With as meaningful as the relationship had been, you are now isolated from being able to connect with that loved one for the foreseeable future. Taking into consideration your history with this loved one, how do you think you would you feel inside? Taking that a step further, what if almost all of your friends and family decided to forsake you, or put your relationship on hold overnight? What do you think you would be experiencing mentally, emotionally, socially? For you, in your heart, doing your best not to think about anything you’ve been taught about it growing up, what would be the acceptable reasons it would be okay to forsake another person?

Forsake DefinitionTHE BAD and UGLY

Now let’s talk about some of the other things wrapped up in the Mormon experience, things I have come to see clearly causing real harm to real people…suffering that was happening around me that I was completely oblivious to before. Among many other substantive problems and contradictions within each book of what is considered scripture from God, some of these specific teachings, observations, doctrines, and policies, etc. I have come across are:

-The world is divided up between the believers and unbelievers…being conditioned since birth to worship belief on the highest of all pedestals. Among other things, this seems to be the baseline for forsaking loved ones for belief.

-Faith is the first principle of the gospel and venerated above all else…belief/testimony is most valuable asset.
-Forsaking loved ones for a belief deserves admiration or out-of-this-world reward for.
-Authoritarianism-Don’t question your leaders. Once the Prophet speaks, the thinking has been done.
-Obedience is the first law of heaven. The ‘obedience first’ paradigm gives pseudo mental protection to those who judge others instead of loving them, and call it something else. It also is the same worldview that allows for the Adolf Hitlers of the world to rise in power, and wreak social havoc.
-The church has the corner on the market regarding highest and best values.
-Feigned concern and using the word love when it isn’t applicable in a more full sense of what it means to ‘love’.
-No actual respect for ‘individual agency’, which keeps devotees mentally captive.
-Scare tactics and fear mongering everywhere in the scriptures and teachings…which I have now learned through personal experience, were not based on truth.
-Apostasy is the worst sin. Denying the Holy Ghost = Son of Perdition (the ultimate forsaking)
-Marginalization and/or shunning of loved ones who are seen as a potential spiritual threat to testimony.
-Proselyting to “help” others “find” the most special, most chosen, most correct way of believing fundamental truth claims.
-The melding of belief and “worthiness” (i.e. temple recommend interview questions).
-Using Holy Scripture, inspiration, or revelation to justify divisive and harmful behaviors.
-Truth is a feeling that trumps veritable fact, logic, and reason. The same thing believers of other religions use to do the same thing in the opposite direction.
-Facts, Logic, and Rationality, in truth seeking are not only unimportant, but looked down upon.
-Misuse of head and heart- logic vs. feelings. It’s all happening in the mind.
-Dissociation from what can be verified as facts, mutually contradictory information, etc. that doesn’t fit the confirmation bias. Constant reassuring oneself that currently held beliefs are indeed the truth.
-Fundamentalism or dichotomous absolutism-All or nothing mentality. “You don’t believe anymore, well I guess we have to get a divorce because you’re leaving our sacred covenants.”
-Calling faith “knowledge”.
-Unwillingness or denial that belief really is merely a choice.
-Protecting “testimony” at all costs…even integrity, and honesty, and more importantly relationships.
-Excuse that members who use their head too much are in danger of intellectualizing themselves out of faith or belief.
-Ad hominem attacks- pointing the finger of blame at the honest seeker of truth, instead of discussing subject matter. (He/she must be deceived by Satan, lazy, unrepentant, too intellectual, can’t just get past the weaknesses of men, etc.)
-Doublethink which leads to doublespeak. Believing two or more mutually contradictory things which is impossible in nature.
-Logical fallacies are acceptable forms of diversion or substantiating bold truth claims.
-Cherry-picking of data, verse, or facts, instead of being genuinely open to examining both sides in a more complete, more objective, more balanced openness.
-Not valuing objectivity and the full truth being the standard to strive for.
-Breathtaking hypocrisy of living counterfeit, while calling others way of living counterfeit.
-The arrogance behind and misplacement of burden of proof for those who make bold truth claims.
-Constant worship of one’s own confirmation bias instead of actual verifiable information, even when verified.
-Exclusivity of ‘most chosen’, ‘most elect’ people or groups.
-Resorting to persecution complex when an actual irreconcilable contradiction within a specific belief arises.
-Misogyny, Racism, Homophobia in any form is acceptable.
-Caving into social pressure and calling it revelation.

-Propping up sacrifice, and noble suffering within the extreme and limited context of the obedience-first paradigm.
-Denial of susceptibility to mind control.

– Leader pressure which produces an unwillingness to challenge one’s own beliefs.
-Not allowing members to honestly leave the belief with their human dignity in tact.

Flowering

I have seen some of the worst and most mentally, emotionally, and socially manipulative, and abusive behavior in my entire life from people feeling like God is giving them license to behave this way. Having studied, researched, pondered much, and having talked to so many others charting similar courses, I have gained a few insights that I feel are beneficial to share in the hope that it may potentially help even one person who may be suffering as perpetrator or victim. With that said, I am very open to being shown the errors or lapses in my thinking process.

In reference to the vast majority of Christian narratives specifically, because that is the belief system I am most familiar with, in complete honesty and sincerity, I find some aspects and teachings completely irreconcilable with some of my first hand experience.

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Matthew 19:29 KJV Bible

For months, I kept asking, “Can there be ANY reason why ‘forsaking’ (in any sense or definition of the word) our most precious loved ones, for a belief system, FITS THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF THE BELIEF ITSELF?” I had always been taught, the heart and soul-the very core of it all, is Love! If I love people, shouldn’t they be able to feel that love for them? Let me say that again, If I say that I love you, shouldn’t you be able to feel that love for you? Is simply praying for somone from a distance, or calling them to repentance a form of love they are going to feel from you? Isn’t love a two way street. Love is connection, love is tolerance, love is inclusion, etc. If you love me, I would think I should feel it. Seems kinda basic, but I completely understood that concept in a less loving way than I do now.

Another verse boldly states:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25: 40 KJV Bible

I have heard many of my Christian friends, so many who very genuinely believe like I did, talk about what they think I am not considering regarding the context, background, epistemology, etc.  and look for a way to try to explain this problem of forsaking loved ones, but in all honesty, it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t sound right at all. Forsaking your loved ones for a belief, in all sincerity, now sounds ridiculous, lopsided, and foolish. I haven’t yet heard one explanation that holds weight, even though I spent much time in the beginning trying desperately to hold on to my precious relationship with my Savior and Redeemer. If we hold that loving people matters, this is just one example of many, but these two scriptures above, taken literally by most Christians, are mutually irreconcilable. If I am wrong somehow, I really would love to know. It would be easier in so many ways to just believe in something. If the honest little boy inside of me felt like someone was making sense, and not repeatedly falling into common thinking traps, I would wholeheartedly welcome it. Those who see themselves as having arrived at a better place than me because of the powerful spiritual promptings they’ve had, will likely dismiss whether I really am actually teachable or not. I always find it interesting that they do so without asking any questions, or trying at all to get to a more full consideration of the rest of my story…and digging to truly try to understand the lengths I have personally gone to to try and figure out what beliefs I could hang onto. My self preservation, my identity, my everything was on the line.

On any given moment, believers will use the latter of those two scriptures to reassure themselves that they have the best way to move along living amongst their fellow humans, patting themselves on the back. But they may also use the former to give themselves license, permission, or entitlement to behave divisively…and feel justified in what can be verifiable as very bad behavior, calling it righteousness or setting themselves up as the benevolent sacrificial lamb. In these cases, piety is only seen through the rose colored glasses. For many, obviously not all, the bad fruit or wake of harm is visually non-existent with those glasses pridefully perched on the upturned nose. In the meantime, the people are still suffering, and they are not feeling any of the professed love or inclusion.

No matter what we think about anything, if it really isn’t true, then why wouldn’t we want to know? Why upon discovering new information that destroys the ability to believe, do we have family and friends that only want to judge instead of asking anything like, “I am here for you…how can I help you patch up these holes in the boat you see as sinking?”

For me, I have learned to love to discover how I may be wrong…and that goes for every single word written here. Being teachable, and learning about and trying to avoid thinking traps has led to an increased happiness, joy, and liberation I previously didn’t know existed. All of this is our current place, all completely without Jesus Christ. In fact, we finally reached the point, where we felt the need to reject him, because we couldn’t in all honesty say we agreed with his complete version of morality. How, if he created me, with my limitations that he would know I have, is it possible that we have happiness and joy in our lives more than we’ve ever had? Obviously, this comes with the exception of having been put on hold or completely relegated to the margins by previous close relationships. How can this be the case based on all the scary things I read in the scriptures that would happen to those who stoop so low as to take any actions that would risk them not being able to believe anymore. How could it possibly be that the little boy in me honestly feels happier, more liberated, more healthy, all completely having not being able to reconcile morality/love with Jesus Christ’s version of it?

Optimistically,

Kenn

Feel free to send a friend request on Facebook, if we seem like the kind of people you’d like to connect with.Kenn and RuthAnn https://www.facebook.com/kenn.sullivan We have made some of the most amazing and authentic friends. They have been very instrumental in our much needed therapy, and we are very grateful to have connected with them, since ALMOST ALL of our believing friends and family have, in their minds somehow ‘righteously’, at some level, ‘forsaken’ us. We look forward to adding many more amazing and authentic friends to our lives. You can also email at: kenn@linkingarms.org or ruthie@linkingarms.org

God vs No God…and the Winner Is?


This post is not meant to be divisive, insensitive, or confrontational. And, it most likely isn’t anything like you would think it would be…based on the title. Please accept the possibility that I have been very deliberate, and share with very positive hopeful intentions, a heart full of love, and a strong desire to be considered part of your in-group. I consider you part of mine.

I get asked quite often, “What do you believe in Kenn?”, I have thought about this topic everyday, at times most of the day, for the past couple of years. A good friend of mine shared this video with me, and when I finished watching, I cheered loudly inside at the overall message. David Eagleman has done the best job I have seen yet on articulating what I have been thinking for some time.

Having had our belief system and world view altered so dramatically because of our honest inquiries, and experiencing the distancing from too many loved ones who we once shared our old beliefs with, for a variety of reasons we are empathetic toward, I share this in hope that it may help to strengthen our relationships, and have them based on increasing authentic communication, tolerance, and acceptance. Please feel free to reach out anytime, to ask me anything, anytime. People are more important than beliefs.

Authentically Healthier and Happier in Most Ways

I posted this picture, to the right, on my Facebook wall recently, Let Go of Fearalong with this language: “Understood this in a much different, and less powerful way in the past… One of the most important requirements in living a deeply authentic and happy life, in my opinion!”

Among the handful of people that made a comment, was my long time friend Doug who was a missionary companion of mine…and our families have been close over the years, and we have MANY great memories together. Because I have had the experiences that I have in the past year and a half, and have learned of some things that have been absolutely shocking to me, I have decided to respond to Doug’s comment, but I knew that it wouldn’t fit in a Facebook post. And, because I have been fairly silent over the recent months, and I have had so many people asking us so many questions about what the latest is, and I have gained new insights from cordial yet candid conversations with high level Mormons, I figured another blog post might be most efficient. So, the following started as a response to Doug’s comment, but it came together for anyone who may want to know. It is with a most sincere love in my heart, for so many people, that I write this.

For reference, here is Doug’s comment he made on my posting of that picture:

Look unto me in every thought, doubt not. Fear not, D&C 6:36 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9. Awesome principles and truths!!!!! Love you my friend!

WARNING: Sensitive new information unknown by most about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you are someone who would not like to know this information, then you may want to pass on reading this post.

Doug, although I know your heart is good and that you most likely have positive intentions here, I thought it may be helpful for you to know my thoughts about where I am in my life, and also about you using my Facebook wall to proselyte your belief that those words you quoted are actually scripture that come from a divine source. The last real substantive conversation we had was by email about a year ago, and you never came back to the conversation like you said you would, saying to me that you would answer my sincere questions about the role of a historian, role of a scholar, value of objectivity, etc…, then never doing so, presumably because you realized the communication of your logic had fallen apart about Kerry Muhlestein’s self-admitted unwavering allegiance to his confirmation bias regarding the Book of Abraham. Looking at the BofA with a fuller definition of integrity and courage, it screams fraudulent at every level…like each and every one of the church’s fundamental truth claims…when put under an honest attempt at objective scrutiny. Meeting with Marlin Jensen, repenting multiple times a day trying to make sure there wasn’t anything making us unworthy, and studying our hearts out to try to prove the church right, we tried to find at least one claim. But there is not one single truth claim the church makes that is clean. They are all dirty. And now it is a 100% verifiable fact that there has been cover-up after cover-up, decade after decade. They are admitting some of it…with really flimsy wordsmithing, but admitting some of it nonetheless.

At first, we just really thought we were just being tested, and that we could find at least something, at least one way to hang onto what we had come to treasure as our most valuable asset–our precious belief, faith, and testimony.

scriptures

Unfortunately Doug, those selected verses you posted in your comment contradict several other verses which creates, among other things, massive cognitive dissonance, a requirement for placing confirmation bias above evidence, and also the breaking of the law of non-contradiction. These other verses of ‘God’s word’ I am referring to, instill deep fear into the mind of the believer, threatenings of the darkness of being ‘cast out’; wo’s pronounced if there is any mocking of the men called Prophet’s; you will be led by Satan; you will be as chaff driven before the wind; threatenings of being burned; eternal/everlasting punishment; damnation to our soul; vengeance; condemnation; the list goes on.

Referencing the scripture in Isaiah is one of the common go-to copouts that I have seen a few of the apologists at FAIRMormon try to use when substantive conversation isn’t working in their favor. “…so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  It doesn’t stand to reason, or make any sense whatsoever that a god who created us deliberately with the limited capacities he designed, and the wide array of social constructs, and the attached seemingly insurmountable pressures that come along with them, that he would have the foreknowledge of, would play a warped mind game like that. Keep in mind what we taught on our mission to be ‘The’ Plan of Salvation and the purpose of our mortal life, and the accompanying scriptures like Alma 12:24…

…nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God;…

doesn’t fit way over 99.999% of the world population throughout the history of the world. Almost every single child of god throughout the history of the world doesn’t fit ‘The Plan’, and it all has to get chalked up to the ‘Millenium’? This isn’t what scriptures say, and this appears to become watered down to the point that the “mortal life” part of  “The Plan” is so insignificant that it makes it meaningless for almost everyone.

plan

Honestly think about this for just two minutes with a best attempt at objectivity. In thinking about it for very long periods of time, really wanting to cling to truth whenever and wherever I could find it, the only thing that started to make sense was to stop trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. In those private moments of personal hell, I reminded myself what I’d heard over and over again since my youth, “Integrity is doing what is right, NO MATTER what the consequences are.”…and, “Courage is one of the noblest of virtues.”

It was in these scary, yet genuinely self-honest moments, the lights came on. Light was finally able to illuminate that particular darkness I had been mentally wrestling with.  My anguished and thirsty-for-truth mind flooded with common sense, with reason, with rationality, with logic, with clarity, and most importantly, with peace. My fear was still there at that time, but the mental and emotional stress from trying to bend all my honest thoughts out of shape was gone. I wasn’t being tormented anymore. I had already verified that the new information wasn’t just lies from Satan trying to lead me astray. It was verifiable truth that changed all the definitions for almost every single thing I had learned and taught over the years…new information that proved that there have been gross cover-ups, deceit, wordsmithing, and mostly all revisionist history pushed forward. I thought about the much larger populations of people in other religions view their contradictory doctrines equally, if not more, emphatically, and the similar ways that I could see them dissociating from anything that contradicted what they taught.

Because it causes cognitive dissonance to think about it, and what kind of God would require such mental gymnastics, absurdities, inconsistencies, etc. to do it like that, most members that I’ve talked to about it, just want to change the subject, and talk about their undeniable “witness”…in very similar ways that I used to do. I can understand, but with new information comes new opportunities to vet believed “truths”. Wouldn’t God be on the side of truth? Within my basic understandings of belief that I used to have, setting aside the scare tactics and fear mongering, the bold claims of truth, revelation, answers, miracles, knowledge, wisdom, our God-given individual agency, wouldn’t you be able to shine the light of truth on any cloudiness that Satan tried to deceive you with.  It boggles my mind that, with the basics of what is taught about Integrity, and Honesty from primary classes on, that most members are not even willing to look at information, and have conversations.

I say this with so much tenderness, and empathy, because I know how difficult it is because of what we have been taught. But, I have a much stronger “testimony”, if you want to call it that, and with “further light and knowledge”, if you want to call it that, I “know” in a more realistic, informed, and excuse free way, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is just another man made religion, and its members are in the same kind of identifiable mind control of other religions. Now, having been liberated from it for a while, and able to really get a good feel for what it is like completely on the outside, it is astonishing, yet very understandable (because I have been there) how so many people are trapped in these kinds of self-sabotaging thinking traps. Now that I have vetted several things up the ying yang, it is more than astonishing, it is also a travesty, irrational, and downright weirdness…just like I used to view several of those “other churches” out there. I am not referring to everything in the religion. Obviously there are some good fruits, and I love those. But, I have learned the things that are good about Mormonism are not at all unique, and the things that are unique about Mormonism are not all good. There are bad fruits that come from it. People are harmed and are suffering because of Mormonism. I was never willing nor able to think that thought before, but in those self-honest thinking moments, it becomes clearer and clearer. Now, since we spoke publicly about our story, having talked to well over a thousand people myself, hearing their stories, and feeling a portion of their pain with them, I now can see how bad and how horrible some of those fruits really are. ‘All is not well in Zion’ seems to have become the understatement of the decade.

Any organization that will not let you leave with your dignity in tact, is by definition, a cult. With my very best attempt at integrity and courage, I now know from first hand experience that Mormonism crumbles under even small amounts of honest scrutiny, and indeed fits that description. Members, though many ignorantly happy like I was, live in fear of speaking up, in fear of thinking for themselves, in fear of questioning (that would be one of the worst and most horrible behaviors… to speak evil of the Lord’s Annointed), in fear of the social, mental, emotional, and spiritual repercussions that have been warned they will experience. “Stay on the boat”, etc. The absolute line gets drawn… The protection of the Church on one side, and being tossed to and fro under Satan’s power on the other.

Modern Mormonism has been built, by accident or design, with very strong and specific language that places high levels of pressure on members if they even think about vocally questioning the official narrative. I was deep, deep, deep within this mindset, and without what I know now to be verifiable actual proof, I would have never been able to see it or admit it. Having seen the difference for quite a while now, I can’t express eloquently enough with words how beautiful it has been to have been liberated from the limitations of my ability to think for myself…to be honest with myself…to be willing to challenge my own conclusions from every angle. It has enriched my life in so many positive ways. RuthAnn has expressed to me several times how incredibly grateful she is to feel safe and secure while honestly questioning the wonder of this life without restraint. Each of our older three kids have come to us and thanked us for resigning all of our memberships instead of keeping our names on the roles. They express gratitude that they are allowed the freedom to think and be without the pressure from us or leaders to conform. We love that we are able to own our own core values, instead of being told what they are. It feels more authentic, more honest, and if feels incredibly good to be building a healthy and genuine life. We all now have our own ‘testimonies’ of how mentally and emotionally healthy it really has been. We were warned so emphatically over and over it would be the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its all been wonderful. We’ve dealt with lots of pain and heartache associated with loved ones judging us instead of asking questions, and from some mistakes that we’ve made in dealing with all of the social complexities along the way, but despite what we were warned would happen to our lives, we’ve had so many moments of pure joy, deeper love, more humility, and we have real peace with where we are and the life we are building. Overall, we feel safe, secure, and authentic peace.

mindcontrol

Though I acknowledge some definitive collective and individual benefits to what could be considered obedient behavior in society, I have become acutely aware that the picking and choosing of ‘scripture’, within the “obedience is the first law of heaven” paradigm, licenses a variety of behaviors that are not good for humanity in many ways…things that I readily dissociated from in the past, but am no longer willing to do, because I have seen so much suffering of honest and honorable people.

I feel that a part of love, is standing up for injustices when we become aware of them. This happens not only within Mormonism, but within many other groups. Many Mormon’s, agreeably out of love, are full of compassionate thoughts when they see other people who don’t have what they have, or who may not have the ‘fullness’ yet. But, the unwillingness of the Mormon to challenge their own beliefs stems from somewhere. Aside from any of the talks about confusion, and who the author of lies and confusion is, upon a quick search on the church’s website you can find a whole smattering of conference talks and scriptures that are at the heart and soul of this. When viewed at face value in relation to the modeling for mind control, they are by definition scare tactics and fear mongering. temple recommend(i.e. temple recommend question “Do you associate with…” ; “Don’t criticize leaders…even if criticism is true”.-Oaks ; “if you want your testimony to grow, bear it often” – whether the leader understands they are doing it or not, this is a classic mind control technique that has been used by many groups that have been on the wrong side of history, and actually now verifiably bad for humanity; Satan is the author of lies and confusion–now proven to be the church’s own teachings; Ad hominem attacks attempting to discredit the questioner instead of addressing subject matter- Holland, Bednar, Oaks, Ballard, Perry, Packer, and now Christofferson have all become notorious for this…etc…)

If you truly desire to have a relationship with me, my preference would be to have you love me right where I am, right now, without attempting to get me to come around to what you presume is your special way of believing, or using my Facebook wall to bear testimony, or anything else of the nature. Having been over a year and a half now, I am a personal witness to myself, that your analogy about trading a spotlight for a flashlight regarding the gift of the holy ghost, has been, in a very dramatic way, the complete opposite. spotlightIf you could only spend a week with me, you would understand what I mean in a much clearer way, and I would like to hope that you would be willing to back off of that horribly erroneous belief. Those scriptures and teachings that led you, and me to that belief are wrong. I now know that with 100% absolute clarity, for myself. Because you haven’t been where I’ve been, I hope you can see why I am bringing that kind of judgment to your attention.  You can choose to still believe that, as that is your prerogative, but I can assure you that any attempt to articulate anything like that to me again would only be absurdity in my mind, as I now have been within both paradigms, and have learned that the threatenings were not based on truth.

The-Flip-Side-of-Love

I want to respect you right where you are, but if you are going to, in a drive-by manner, communicate with me regarding topics that I have now seen a whole other side to, and I can now see are divisive and hurtful in nature, I will take it as an invitation to authentically communicate my perspectives. I know how I would have interpreted that in the past, and I know that some people will view it as attacking their beliefs. But, that is not what it is, at all. I am not the one making fundamental truth claims. The burden of proof always rests with the one making a truth claim. So far, I haven’t had any PhD, any Prophet, and General Authority, any Stake President, anyone, back up any truth claim with anything more than logical fallacies, ad hominem attacks, illogical double speak, and licensing their bad behaviors with ‘feelings’ and ‘personal witnesses’. For a very long time, I had all those same kinds of “undeniable” feelings, but I have now learned that so many other people, even in more emphatic ways are also claiming the exact same thing, even though it is in complete opposition to the truth claims of Mormonism. What kind of God would require or allow illogical, irrational, dysfunctional, weird, doublethink, doublespeak, victim glasses/persecution complex mentality, to back up the story of who He is, and how to believe in Him, and how important that belief and faith is to your everlasting condition? I call B.S., because when you look at it honestly, and heat it up, even just a little bit,  that is what it boils down to be.

When looked at with a best attempt at intellectual honesty, organized religion appears to be nothing more than organized superstition-some more superstitious, believing, mystical, good, bad, helpful, harmful than others. Most Mormons are staunch Atheists regarding the other 999 Gods out there being worshipped–all very very different from each other, yet they can’t even comprehend the concept of being an A…theist because of how the word has been demonized… through repetition, scare tactics, and several other types of mind control. I have also learned how brain chemistry is different for everyone, and when these kinds of feelings come from the amygdala or other parts of the brain, the most common behavior is to create meaning and try and protect confirmation bias and other forms of filtering. These protections of our perceived need to be right or certain is not based on a human need, rather gets it’s origin in our fears and insecurities that get their origin primarily from social constructs. Having been there, I know some things that I couldn’t ever see before.  My arrogance, of having been “chosen”…my having things “figured out”…my certainty about how God speaks to me (How to hear my Father’s voice)…all stemmed from the teachings about being special, noble, chosen, valiant, etc. I have now learned how wrong I was, and how blissfully ignorant I truly was. I feel so much better about myself now than I ever did within the ‘Chosen’ paradigm.

dreams-reality-d-citylife

Several people ask me, “So then Kenn, what are you?… or, What do you believe now?” I am not an Atheist. I am not a believer. I am not a non-believer. I am not an Agnostic. I am not any label or stereotype. I am just Kenn, and I am as honest and sincere as I know how to be about what I have been discovering once I took off the persecution complex goggles, did my best to give a fair shake to information I had encountered…and decided that I care more about reality than what my perception of it, at any given moment, may be. I left the fear that I didn’t even realize I had with me all those years. I am ‘Open’.

Please don’t misinterpret my thoughts here. I really do hope that you take all of my comments in the positive standing-up-for-injustices-as-a-part-of-love flavor they are meant.  I am really trying my best to live: Love above ideology; Relationships above theology; and Human connection above belief.

I know this may be a difficult concept for you to really allow as a possibility, because I once thought much like you, and I know I would have had a hard time thinking that it was possible. But, in the most authentic way, me, RuthAnn and my amazing kids are much happier 100% outside of the religion. Not that I don’t have my bad moments like most, but overall, I am MUCH happier than I ever have been…and actually those bad moments have dramatically decreased…and I’ve realized most of the bad moments when I encounter judgmental individuals, or when I see someone in a position of authority engaged in some awful behavior that is causing actual harm to someone else. Because I am a personal witness to my own experience, and because I have seen so many real people needlessly suffering, I am 100% convinced that the world is not really divided up between the believers and the unbelievers of whatever may be somebody’s most special way to believe.…even though vast segments of the world have this kind of paradigm.

I can’t, in all honesty, agree with any form of attempting to convince people that the world really is divided between believers and the unbelievers. I have found it more than just difficult to accept any scripture, doctrine, dogma, belief, faith, teaching, that promotes any form of ‘forsaking’ relationships for a belief system because there will be some reward after death. Analyzing this from every possible angle that I know how, it is irreconcilable, and doesn’t fit into Love being the proclaimed central narrative of the belief system. Even though there are many great things that are done and believed by people in religion, and there is much good that comes out of it. divisiveI have learned from personal experience, this underlying divisiveness can be pointed to as one of the worst parts of humanity, and is the bedrock origin for most of the worlds worst tragedies. I would have never been willing to see that when I was thick in the middle of it. In my personal experience, tough love, and loving from a distance, are weak excuses for what some people call love. I was a much worse parent when I was in the middle of it. My efforts revolved around getting my kids to conform to everything I believed came from God as the most important way to live. It was not with respect to their individual agency, nearly to the level that it is now. The kind of love that seems to fit best, with all of the people I have interviewed about it, inside of religion and out, is where I love someone right where they are right now…putting the relationship first. This doesn’t require any acceptance of cognitive dissonance or a watered down version of love.

I have learned from personal experience, that it is difficult for people, to do that within the ‘belief/certainty/absolutes is all important’ paradigm. Because of what I have verified to be the truer truth about Mormonism, I have learned, because I care so much, to illuminate any form of fundamentalism, absolutism, or black-and-white thinking that puts such an elevated status on belief, faith, and trust in leaders in front of relationships. That is not love! It doesn’t feel like love! It doesn’t sound like love. It is behavior typically licensed by allegiance to socially constructed belief, authority, and conformity. When I got to the point of asking myself, “If my beliefs really aren’t true, would I even want to know”, and then finally getting to the answer of yes, because of my personal convictions about integrity, courage, and authenticity, everything started to make the most sense.

Because our relationship has been so seriously strained, because of what I now can see clearly as the result of various aspects of mind control, I don’t know if you will be willing to consider my perspective on this or not. But I will try in the hope that the relationship can improve. To me, it seems like real friends are willing to put something as trivial as socially constructed belief in it’s proper place beneath the relationship. Doesn’t it stand to reason that real friends should be willing to candidly be intellectually honest to talk about anything and everything.Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 9.17.42 PMIf you care to know, I will tell you the crux of who I am. Because I now have a much different worldview than I did previously, and it has, so far, resulted in me being dramatically more humble/teachable-because I love discovering how I may be seeing something wrong, I am more full of love for people right where they are, more tolerant, more patient, care way more about reality instead of my confirmation biases, anchoring biases, sunk cost biases, and any other dissociation or filtering.

I care about people and doing my very best to discover reality. Certainly, if there is a God, then he or she or it would jive perfectly with reality…whatever that is, and not what can be definitively proven false…through a simple series of asking elementary questions. I have learned the benevolent God of Mormonism is easy to deconstruct. I am willing to be wrong about anything. Our confirmation bias, if we were born in some part of the middle east, would most likely license us to hating Jews, beheading Christians, and trying to rid the world of the infidel-“the Unbeliever”. I have learned from first hand experience how confirmation bias in some forms can actually cause horrific harm and suffering to honest people.

I was threatened and warned by leaders, and “sacred scripture”, that I would be leaving the protection of my covenants, and become dark, and be over in Satan’s territory. From now seeing these kinds of teachings harming so many real people and families, I now see many of the ways mind control is harmful. holland-angryBecause I am intimately involved in my own story, I have now learned that it is 100% fact that those scare tactics and fear mongering found in “scripture”, and from the mouths of men who I wholeheartedly believed to be Prophets of God, were not based on truth…like I really believed they were when I was within that belief. If you knew all of the things that I have verified to be more accurate now, and you were willing to accept them, despite powerful feelings that you’ve had (which so many other religious zealots claim as well that they use to license themselves to behaviors that hurt real people as well) you would know that it is literally impossible for the church to be what the leaders claim it to be. The truth claims are easily disintegrated by recent acknowledgments and the ‘current canonized scriptures’.

The church’s recent “disavowal of the Curse of Cain”, the curse of the dark skin, in the Race and the Priesthood essay, https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng while at the same time requiring members to fall into a huge thinking trap (leaving all of the narrative and doctrine in the current ‘canonized’ scriptures–that are supposed to be God’s word to us, the little people who need them and the church to stay out of Satan’s territory, so we can know the right and correct way to believe and behave), Lamanites vs Nephitesis one of many examples. This is not old information that has been hashed through over and over. It is a very recent acknowledgment. Also, it has nothing to do with the weaknesses of men, and everything to do with WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT ETERNAL DOCTRINE OR CANONIZED SCRIPTURE WITH A DIVINE ORIGIN. Think of the entire story of the Nephites and the Lamanites. Now, think of all the scriptures that come to mind regarding the curse of the dark skin. Two Sundays ago, we met for 2.5 hours in the living room of Marlin K. Jensen and his wife Kathy. We visited them with Hans and Birgitta Mattsson, who stayed at our home for several days before sharing their heart wrenching yet inspiring story in Salt Lake City. 116coverThe Jensens were so gracious to meet with us, and we are very grateful for them, because it was refreshing compared to what we have experienced from most others. I can only imagine the internal struggle knowing what is asked in the temple recommend interview about associating with people who have made the decisions we have, and knowing that all four of us had spoken publicly about our discoveries, and also about our disaffection from the religion we had grown to love. Among many other things candidly discussed, when we asked Marlin and Kathy how this recent disavowal by the church of the Curse of Cain, can possibly be reconciled with the fundamental truth claims, Kathy didn’t even know what we were talking about, because she hadn’t heard about it yet. There was an awkward moment of her looking at Marlin, and me saying, “Marlin knows what I’m talking about.” Stumped for anything at all that could seem like an answer with any resemblance of reasonability, and Marlin trying to, at first, redefine what has been disavowed, ultimately ,they both said, “yeah….pause….mmmmm…. that’s a tough one.”

Honestly give that some deliberate thought for a full minute or two. Now ask yourself, “If the General Authorities and Modern Day Revelators/Prophets/Apostles/Seers of the church can’t answer simple questions about very simple and faith destroying contradictions within their own current canonized scriptures, and teachings, then could there be another explanation for my feelings, and what if it really isn’t ‘true’? Do I have enough integrity and courage, if that really were the case, to be honest with my loved ones?”

when an honest man

Kathy Jensen also didn’t know about how there weren’t any gold plates needed to be used for the entire translation process of the Book of Mormon we have today…but Marlin did, and apparently, he didn’t want to get into any details of how that creates a whole host of problems because of ‘approved’ correlated materials, because of Joseph’s and many other leader’s emphatic truth claims to the contrary, and because of the MANY scriptural claims, etc. Toward the end of our discussion, Marlin and Kathy both told us, “Well…you four have given us a lot to think about.”

By coming out and verifying the rock in the hat method of translation, which was used for all but the 116 pages (which obviously we wouldn’t be able to verify, and which creates a whole new host of major problems for the truth claim), instead of sitting at the desk and translating directly from looking at the plates with the specially prepared and preserved Urim and Thummim designed for that special purpose, like we have been taught since primary, we are now left to change our definition of what “translate” is, of what “Approved Sources” means, of what the word for word translation that has been detailed by Prophets of God to us, of almost everything about what we thought about it. We now need to ask why Laban had to be murdered…why all the finding and hammering out the metal, inscribing upon it, hefting it around for generation after generation, only to not really need to be used at all for the entire Book of Mormon we have today.

The church has excommunicated people that brought some of these findings up in the past, and now they are admitting the truthfulness of those exact things. Anyone who glances past this kind of thing, either doesn’t know the specifics, or they are apathetic toward the suffering of these real people, and their real families.

Now that we’ve taken a moment to process through that a little, I would like to ask you another very important question. Do you agree with what is being said by Ballard in this short video?

One of the most interesting observations I have made in my life, is that I have found the most peace in uncertainty, and the wonder of it all. Like I said, I now love proactively trying to figure out how I may be wrong. Another interesting observation, is that I have much less fear and insecurity. I feel all around more healthy socially, emotionally, mentally, and physically…again…things that I was threatened would be the opposite. I think it is very sad that, even though history has repeated itself so many times, and it is easy to see, when doing our best to look at it objectively, it is so wrong, and harmful to humanity for the vast majority of people go about their day to day life thinking they have things pretty figured out. Like I said, the most peace I have found, is in exactly the opposite. If you authentically want to connect with me, I authentically want to connect with you, unless, because relationships are two-sided, your reason is not really to connect in the way that I have attempted to describe.

Sincerely hoping for the best for us, and for you and your family,

Your friend,

Kenn

For those who want to reference some of our other sincere questions that couldn’t ever be answered about the fundamental truth claims of the church, here is the link: http://www.linkingarms.org/questions-concerns-and-contradictions/

Feel free to send a friend request on Facebook, if we seem like the kind of people you’d like to connect with.Kenn and RuthAnn https://www.facebook.com/kenn.sullivan We have made some of the most amazing and authentic friends. They have been very instrumental in our our therapy, and we are so, so, so grateful to have connected with them. You can also email at: kenn@linkingarms.org or ruthie@linkingarms.org

Rebuilding and Healing

This is awesome! We receive messages all the time from people who’ve come across our story, or someone has shared with them some particular post from the blog. Last year, this great guy reached out. For family reasons, he has asked me to protect their anonymity at this time. I will just call him Ryan. After getting to know each other a little, he told me the post, The Value of a Value, was especially meaningful to him, as he was struggling to know how to move forward in the difficulties of the untangling process. Recently, he shared with me what they have been working on as a family, because of that post, and I asked him if he would be willing to write something up to share, so that it may possibly help others as well. He agreed. Here it is, along with pictures he passed along.

_________

Whole Frame

I lost my faith, and I was lost. I was at the stage where I had learned so much that I was wiping clean everything ever learned or was taught. Nothing I had ever experienced compared to this pain. I became skeptical of everything. My critical thinking skills were on overdrive.

Then I came across Kenn and RuthAnn’s video from when they were asked to tell their story. I liked these guys. As I listened, they kind of reminded me of me. I clicked onto their Linking Arms blog. At first it seemed to be just more of the same, another sad story of good people going through a faith crisis.

Then it happened. I read their post called, The Value of a Value. This post really got my attention. I thought, “Finally, something positive I can heal and rebuild with.”

Even though I had wiped everything clean in my mind, I knew I wanted to know how to continue to build my marriage and raise my children, and what, if anything, I could use as a foundation. So, I printed out the Sullivan’s list of core values and had a family meeting. It was time to make my family’s core values.

Each of us in the family participated, and we went through and selected things we agreed with, changed some things, and put it into our own words. Now we had a pure foundation that was alive, and that we could use as a starting place, keeping open the option of adapting it as our family learns and grows.

My wife found this amazing wooden picture frame with designs that was 5ft by 2½ ft. I then went to a metal shop and had it fitted with the thinnest sheet metal they had. We then found over 30 smaller frames at the dollar store, and framed each core value. Every core value word was written out in the family’s own handwriting, on 3 by 5 cardstock. There were no special fonts or stickers. 100% our values. We then added magnets to the smaller frames to hang inside the large metal frame.

Every framed word is removable and movable. At dinner, I will grab a few framed words to make talking points as a family. We discuss experiences each of us has had, and how we think about each core value we are discussing.

What a relief. We don’t need to rely upon anyone else or anything else to have peace and joy in our lives. Core values have power. Core values are real. The healing has begun. -Ryan

Core Values Magnets

Planting Seeds CD Audio

Click to hear audio

Several of you have asked to hear this. This is the audio on the CD I referred to…the one that we handed out around 2500 of. Out and about planting seeds daily, for many years, my family and I were zealously following the command to…go forth to preach, to warn, to teach, and to invite those around us to come and partake of the most special way to believe. We “knew” we were “helping” people to “find” this most special way, because something as serious as their salvation was on the line. And, we just “knew” that our joy would be great to get to the other side and see the massive ripple effect from us doing our part…seeing thousands repentant and partaking of the fulness of joy that was only available to those who fully and completely submit themselves to these “truths”.

Because I had heard these words I had recorded so many times, they were indelibly imprinted into my everyday thoughts and speech. In no way whatsoever did we want it to be this way, but now that we have verified that Mormonism was actually founded upon a fraud, I often think of what the re-wording for a CD like this would be…if it only contained the verifiable fact-based truth…instead of all of my confirmation bias (reassuring myself that what I believed was the truth), like I did repeatedly throughout. I know that if I heard only the fact-based truth for the first time, I may have thought something completely different than I did when I heard the whitewashed and revisionist version. For anyone wondering if I really had and treasured a real testimony or not, listening to this story of mine may answer your question.

This audio has been spread into many parts of the world via at least six Mission Presidents that I knew of, many full-time missionaries, several Stake Presidents, High Councilors, Bishops, etc. I started trying to contemplate the math at one point, and was overcome with emotion that the Lord was using me as such an important instrument in His hands to do His work. My rejoicing wouldn’t be with thousands, as Alma had promised, rather millions upon millions.

Enjoy! Onward and Upward, Kenn Sullivan

NOTE: I received copyright permission from the church to use the background music.

After we’d been through a few different options, here is what we found to be the most “effective” cover label to get potential converts to listen to the CD so they could feel the spirit of it :) The conversion part was left in their court…we just knew what we had been asked to do, and what part we were going to be accountable for.

CD cover label

Tribal Shaming

torture museum

When we were in Germany last year, in the quaint little medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (a must visit), we visited the famous Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. RuthAnn, Morley, and I were blown away to learn about some of the specific ways that this community experimented with attempting justice and keeping all the members of the community in line with the norms and mores of the day. There was an incredible amount of physical pressure, (actual physical torture) applied for this infraction or that, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

ShamingWe also saw a wide variety of iron masks and helmets devised for public humiliation and shaming. There was a “Flute of Shame” for musicians who messed up, a “Swine Mask” for men who treated women poorly, the “Hood of Shame” for bad students, and many other types of masks of shame. Undoubtedly this style was a harsh attempt to keep the people of the community safely within the bounds of conformity, and ultimately it proved a dismal failure to mete out justice. Among the many problems they encountered, false confessions became commonplace in the court room, and actual truth-based justice completely unraveled. Ultimately, the various forms of torture and shaming they used became relics.

This morning, I can’t stop thinking about what we experienced there in that museum. I read a post about tribal shaming, and the potential physical, mental and emotional effects of shaming. I thought it was very insightful, very interesting and thought provoking. If you have the interest and the time, it is well worth the read! Warning: It is a very long post.

It made me wish I could go back to several spots in my life and retract a comment, say something different, or handle a situation differently. Here is the post. I hope you enjoy! Would love to hear your thoughts!

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BEWARE OF TRIBAL SHAME!

Dear Ones –

OK, my friends — this will be a long post!

In fact, this will be the longest post I’ve ever written here on Facebook — but I also think that perhaps it’s the most important.

I want to share with you some revolutionary new ideas I’ve heard recently about emotional health and wellbeing. I came upon all this information just a few months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it with my friends and family.

This has been some really life-changing stuff for me — some of most life-changing stuff I’ve learned in ages — and I want to tell everyone about it!

It will take a while to explain this theory, but if you have the time…stay with me, OK?

I think you may find it’s worth it.

I recently came upon the work of one Dr. Mario Martinez, who is a clinical neuropsychologist, and the author of a book called THE MIND-BODY CODE, which you can find right here:

http://amzn.to/1H2JPIf

(You can also listen to a fascinating interview that Dr. Martinez conducted on the SoundsTrue network with Tami Simon, if you download the INSIGHTS AT THE EDGE podcast. A lot of the information in this post comes from that interview, which you can also find here: http://bit.ly/1FzaBWL)

Dr. Martinez has spent his life studying the ways that our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health. He is particularly interested in the harmful ways that SHAME affects the mind and body.

And he is especially focused on the powerful and negative effects that TRIBAL SHAMING can have on the human body, and on our emotional lives.

What is tribal shaming, you ask?

OK, here goes:

Walk with me through this…

So…we are all born into a certain tribe, right?

This tribe can be our family, our religion, our neighborhood, our nationality, our culture, etc.

Tribes are important to human beings — in fact, they are essential. There is arguably nothing more vital to the ongoing existence of the human race than the cohesion and protection of a tribe. Our ancestors endured the fight for survival in the ancient world only because they clung together and shared resources. Even today in the modern world, tribes are still absolutely essential. Tribes keep babies alive and old people safe. Tribes care for the sick and the weak. Tribes provide protection, nourishment and warmth to vulnerable individuals (and we are all vulnerable individuals at some point or another)…but most importantly, tribes provide MEANING.

Simply put: Our tribe of origin tells us who we are.

Our tribe tells us what to believe and how to behave.

Each tribe is governed by its own rules. These rules constitute the honor code that defines every tribe’s essence. No matter what the tribe, these rules are always sacred — and must be sacred — because without those rules, the collective will fall apart, and without the collective, individual people are doomed.

Oftentimes, tribal rules are LITERALLY sacred. These rules are often composed of strict religious commandments and edicts that must be obeyed rigorously, sometimes on pain of death.

But even when tribal rules are more subtle than literal commandments, they are still sacred. Every family is tribe, and therefore every family has its own moral and cultural code — its own guidelines that signal: THIS IS HOW WE DO THINGS AROUND HERE.

Thus, the people who raised you injected you with certain rules, habits, morals, and standards. The rules of your tribe might have been lofty (such as: “IN THIS FAMILY, WE ARE ALL RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS”) or the rules might have been lowly (such as: “IN THIS FAMILY, WE ARE ALL ABUSIVE ALCOHOLICS”) or the rules might have been insanely contradictory (such as: “IN THIS FAMILY, WE ARE RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS AND WE ARE ABUSIVE ALCOHOLICS”)

Whatever the situation, though, the rules were definitely the rules, and they were made quite clear to you from the beginning.

In order to remain safe and accepted within the boundaries of the tribe, you must follow these rules.

Maybe as you grew up, those rules continued to make sense to you. If so, then you got lucky. Because then your life’s course is clear — all you need to do is obey your familiar tribal rules (and pass those rules down to your offspring) and everything will be safe and clean and simple.

Or maybe not.

Maybe as you grew older, you found that your own values and morals and standards and aspirations were completely different than those that had been taught to you by your tribe of origin.

Maybe you realized that you didn’t WANT to be a religious fundamentalist.

Maybe you didn’t want to be an abusive alcoholic.

Maybe in your tribe, nobody gets a formal education — but you wanted to go earn a PhD.

Maybe in your tribe, everyone is expected to get a higher education — but you never liked school, and couldn’t finish.

Maybe in your tribe, girls are supposed to become mothers at a young age and never to work outside the home — but you wanted to be a childless career woman.

Maybe in your tribe, everyone is expected to be a farmer — but you wanted to be an artist.

Maybe in your tribe, everyone is expected to be an artist — but you wanted to go into business.

Maybe in your tribe you were taught to be suspicious and hateful of strangers —but you wanted to love the world with a more open heart.

Maybe in your tribe, it’s considered deeply wrong to be gay — but you happen to be gay.

Maybe in your tribe, you were taught to expect nothing but poverty and oppression and deprivation out of life — but you saw the world differently, and wanted to expand your mind into a field of joyful abundance and prosperity.

In other words, maybe the rules of your tribe didn’t work for you anymore. Maybe you decided to break your tribal rules, and choose your own path. Maybe you went out and found a new tribe, composed of people who felt more like family to you than your own family did.

And maybe your tribe of origin was totally OK with that.

Maybe your tribe celebrated your differences and cheered you on, and said “All we want is for you to be happy!”

If so, God bless them.

Because that is rare.

Chances are, they probably were NOT totally OK with that.

Because it’s exceedingly rare for a tribe of origin to celebrate the departure of one of its members. They REALLY don’t like it when you break the rules. Remember — those tribal rules are SACRED. Even when the rules are totally dysfunctional and dark and insane, those rules are still sacred. Adherence to those rules determines cohesion, and cohesion determines survival — so nothing less than life itself is at stake here!

Or, at least that’s how the tribe sees it.

So….if you dare to leave your tribe of origin — or if you dare to question the rules of your tribe — it is extremely likely that you will be punished.

Sometimes that punishment can be violent and extreme —like: excommunication, shunning, disowning, physical abuse, or even murder (such as in the dreadful cases of “honor killings” of young girls by their own family members.)

But oftentime the punishment is more subtle. If you dare to leave the tribe, or if you dare challenge the tribe, the weapon that they are most likely to use against you is SHAME.

SHAME is the most powerful and degrading tool that a tribe has at its disposal. Shame is the nuclear option. Shame is how they keep you in line. Shame is how they let you know that you have abandoned the collective. Violence may be fast and brutal, but shame is slow…but still brutal. Shame is like a computer chip that the tribe implants into you, in order to be able control you and make you suffer — so that even when you are geographically far away from the tribe, they can still flip that switch and make you feel the agony of guilt over having betrayed them.

The tribe will shame you by saying things like, “Now that you’re a big fancy city girl, you think you’re better than us, don’t you?”

Or:

“Now that you’ve got a college education, you think you’re better than us…”

“Now that you don’t drink anymore, you think you’re better than us…”

“Now that you’ve lost all that weight, you think you’re better than us…”

“Now that you’re happily married, you think you’re better than us…”

“Now that you have a good job, you think you’re better than us…”

“Now that you speak French, you think you’re better than us…”

“Now that you live in California, you think you’re better than us…”

They will accuse you of being a traitor. They will use words like “abandonment” and “betrayal” and “disloyalty.” They will sometimes say these words as a joke, but you know damn well that they aren’t joking. They will remind you that you weren’t there where Dad died, that you weren’t there when your nephew was born, that you can never be counted on for anything. They will mock you, and then brush it off, saying, “Hey, don’t get so upset — we’re just joking. It’s all in fun.”

But it isn’t all in fun.

It’s dead serious, and it’s potentially deadly, because shame makes people sick.

Shame can literally take years off your life.

At best, it just makes you terribly, lingeringly sad.

Your tribe of origin is letting you know in no uncertain terms: “YOU ARE NO LONGER ONE OF US.”

Those words (spoken or unspoken) are the ultimate tools of tribal shame. Because nothing is more painful to a human than the accusation that you are a traitor. It is terrible to be told YOU ARE NO LONGER ONE OF US. (Remember, we are pack animals; we need the approval of our pack.) It is terrible to be accused of abandonment and betrayal.

In short — if you dare to leave the tribe, the tribe will shame the living hell out of you, and that shame will hurt you. Shame is a fierce and burning energy. The power of tribal shame is not to be underestimated. Tribal shame is capable of ruining lives, and killing people. Shame corrodes the soul. It also corrodes the mind, and the physical body. Tribal shame will make you sick. It will send you into a spiral of psychic misery and physical infection.

Dr. Mario Martinez been able to show how tribal shame rots people from within — keeping them in a constant state of inflammation, anxiety, unease, and disease.

But it gets worse!

Tribal shaming also sometimes causes people to sabotage their own lives — to abandon their own callings, and to jettison their own true paths, and to forbid themselves to be happy. It is often the case that people simply cannot endure tribal shaming any longer, and so they fail on purpose, in order to be welcomed back into the tribe — in order to “balance things out” again, and in order to become “one of us” once more.

Because here’s the really crazy thing about a tribe, as Dr. Martinez points out: THEY WILL ALWAYS TAKE YOU BACK IF YOU FAIL. They will always welcome you back home if you are suffering. They won’t love you so much when you are happy and successful, because that’s very threatening to them, as it challenges everything they believe. (If you do well in life on your own terms, at first your tribe may welcome you home as a returning hero, of course, but when they see how different you are from them now, they will not like your success at all — and they will shame you for it.)

But they will always take you back when you fail.

They will take you back when you are sick, when you are weak, when you are humbled and broken. They will welcome you back with open arms and sweet loving care, and you will once again be able to feel the warm safety and companionship of the tribe.

So here’s what people often do — they sabotage themselves, in order to come “home” again.

We make ourselves sick, weak, humbled and broken, in order to be welcomed home.

THAT’S how much we long for the approval of the tribe; we will even ruin our own lives in order to achieve it.

But at what cost?

(Remember, by the way — it is not only your tribe of origin who is capable of working this dark magic of shame upon you; it can be ANY tribe that you have joined and then dared to leave or to challenge. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, team-members, gang-members, political cronies, church-members, fellow drug addicts, fellow yogis, fellow book club members…any tribe can turn against an individual who dares to step out of line, or who dares to question the rules, or who dares to ascend beyond what is expected or allowed. And the stakes are always the same: Our way or the highway. Conform, or you will be eternally punished.)

I want you to ask yourself this question, in all honesty — have you ever sabotaged yourself, in order to be welcomed back into the tribe?

I have done it. I can promise you that — I have done it many times.

But I wonder if you have done it?

Did you drop out of school, so you wouldn’t be the only one in your tribe with a higher educaiton?

Did you commit a crime, so the tribe would embrace you?

Did you marry someone you didn’t love, so the tribe would accept you as being “normal”?

Did you start drinking again, or over-eating again, or smoking again, so the tribe would re-embrace you?

Did you subconsciously conspire to lose all your money, so you wouldn’t appear to be better than anyone in your tribe?

Did you get fired again, so you wouldn’t appear to be better than your tribe?

Did you plummet back into depression and anxiety, so that you would never be happier than anyone in your tribe?

Did you hide your true sexuality, so your tribe wouldn’t judge and exclude you?

Did you pretend to believe in a version of God that you don’t believe in, so the tribe would not shame you or banish you?

Or did you bravely choose exactly the life you really wanted for yourself…but now you cannot seem to rest easily within it? You built the life you wanted for yourself, but now (even though everything looks good on the outside) you are making yourself miserable, anyhow. Are you walking around feeling eternally guilty, and exhausting yourself working so hard for the benefit of everyone else — just to keep yourself punished and shamed…because somehow your tribe of origin has convinced you that you do not deserve the abundance and happiness that you have fought so hard to earn?

ENOUGH.

Enough of all that.

Enough of the tribal shaming.

So what are we to do about it?

What are we to do, to combat the power of tribal shaming, and to feel free to pursue our own true paths in life — and, most of all, to feel free to be a SUCCESS? (And by “success” here, I mean not only a financial success, but an emotional success — a person who is happy and at peace, living as she feels she was MEANT to live…not necessarily how she was TAUGHT to live.)

Here comes the revolutionary part.

Dr. Martinez spends a lot of time working with people who have left their tribes of origin, or who have exceeded their tribal expectations, and who appear to have done very well in life, but who are suffering the consequences of “reaching too high” and doing TOO well in life (from their tribal perspective.) His goal is to liberate these people from the prison of shame, so that they can feel contented and easeful about themselves.

He does an exercise with them that I think is AMAZING, and which you can do at home. I did it. It’s pretty transformative.

It goes like this:

Sit quietly in meditation. Allow your mind and your breathing to settle. Then ask yourself this question:

“Who is the person in the world — living or dead — whom I would most need to abandon, in order to live my own true path with happiness and peace?”

It’s a heavy question.

Really think about it.

The answer may shock you. But allow that person’s name to rise up in you mind. Be 100% honest. Be 100% brave. Ask yourself again: What person in my life (or in my history, living or dead) would be most betrayed, if I were to become a happy, peaceful, successful and prosperous soul?

Really think about it.

Got the name?

Good.

Now, there is something that you must say aloud to that person. (You don’t say it aloud to the REAL person, of course — because they could never handle it, and they might not even be alive anymore — but you must say these words aloud to the IDEA of this person.) Here are the magic words:

“I am going to abandon you now. I am going to betray you now.”

HOLY COW!

That totally blew my mind when I first heard it!

Talk about powerful words!!!!

The reason these words are so powerful and radical is because they are the OPPOSITE of what we have likely spent our lives trying to prove to our tribe of origin. We have likely spent our whole lives trying desperately to prove to that person (or to those people) that we HAVEN’T betrayed them! We are constantly trying to show them that we HAVEN’T abandoned them! We break ourselves in half and exhaust ourselves completely (and maybe even bankrupt ourselves, or give ourselves chronic diseases) trying to prove that WE ARE LOYAL, and that WE ARE STILL PART OF THE TRIBE, and that WE HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG, and that WE HAVEN’T CHANGED AT ALL, and that WE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU BEHIND, and that WE ARE STILL ONE OF YOU!

But it doesn’t work, does it?

Because they never really believe you, do they?

Deep down inside, you know that they still consider you a traitor, don’t they?

Because they are letting you know that you’re a traitor.

No matter what you do.

Because they know (and you secretly know it, too) this truth — you kind of HAVE abandoned them. You HAVE betrayed them. You DID choose a totally different way of life. You HAVE completely changed. (Because you needed to!) You really are no longer one of them. (Because you would have suffocated to death, to remain trapped within that constricting tribal code.) You really HAVE left them behind. (Because that was the only way to become the person that your destiny called you to be.)

…and that’s all OK.

This is the radical part: You totally abandoned your tribe of origin, and that’s totally FINE.

In fact, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary.

If people never questioned or abandoned their tribes of origin, the world would never evolve. There would be no creativity, no exploration, no courageous leaps of faith, no reforms, no change, no beautiful transformations.

If you want to create, to explore, to leap, to reform, to transform, then it is necessary sometimes to admit that you have left your tribe of origin behind. You must hear yourself say these powerful words aloud:

“I AM GOING TO ABANDON YOU NOW. I AM GOING TO BETRAY YOU NOW.”

Which does not mean that you do not LOVE them. This exercise has nothing to do with love. You can always love them. That love can always remain intact. You can even still care about your tribe, and look after them with acts of generosity — none of that needs to change. This exercise is about a totally different issue from love. This is about breaking the spell of tribal shame. The only way to break that spell (Martinez suggests) is to take complete ownership of your own true path in life, and to admit to the consequences of leaving your tribe’s values behind.

(Another point: Curiously, after having done this exercise, I felt MORE loving toward those in my tribe who have tried to shame me over the years — because I felt like I understood them better. With that understanding, was easier for me to regard them with a lighter heart.)

Then comes the next step.

You must now (in your imagination) become the other person — the person who has been shaming you for years. And you must say to yourself (in the voice of the other person) these powerful words: “I completely understand. I forgive you. All I want is for you to be happy.”

Of course, it is exceedingly unlikely that the real person could ever say these words to you! To say that would be an abandonment of their own honor code…but you need to say them to yourself. You need to hold both sides of this imagined conversation.

Practice it with me.

You: “I’m going to abandon you now. I’m going to betray you now.”

Your Primary Tribal Shamer (speaking through you): “I understand completely, I forgive you. All I want is for you to be happy.”

Repeat, repeat, repeat…

It’s pretty freaking life-changing.

(I did this exercise myself, and I cannot even tell you how radical it felt, and how much easier I breathed after I said those devastatingly powerful words: I AM GOING TO ABANDON YOU NOW. I AM GOING TO BETRAY YOU NOW. I was also surprised about WHO I needed to say those words TO…and you may be surprised, as well. You may need to do this exercise with a number of people in your life. Just be honest — who would feel most abandoned if you were to become successful? Stop trying to convince them that you aren’t abandoning them. Let them feel abandoned. It’s OK. It’s what needs to happen.)

Dr. Martinez reports that — after people have done this exercise — their cortisol levels and stress levels drop dramatically, as do their levels of inflammation and disease. Because you are finally free. You’ve been carrying around that tribal shame forever, and finally you have begun to shake it off…

But, wait — there’s more!

Then comes the next step.

You now have to rebuild what Dr. Martinez calls your own “field of honor”.

You see, tribal shaming works because it attacks your deepest sense of your own honor. Every tribe is governed by its own code of honor, and once you have broken that honor code, the tribe will accuse you (overtly or subtly) of having no honor at all. This accusation is what makes you sick. This is what makes you suffer. Without a code of honor, after all, we are NOTHING — worse than dirt. So you must rebuild your own field of honor, in order to make yourself healthy again.

How do you do this?

You must do an accounting of your own life, and make a list of all the times in your life that you have been honorable. Start with earliest childhood — what was the first honorable act of your life? Go from there. Write it all down. Maybe you have not always honored the sacred code of your tribe of origin, but chances are you honored SOMETHING — perhaps your own creative path, or your truest friendships, or your curiosity, or the truth, or your work ethic, or your health, or a loved one, or your cat.

Write it all down. Focus on the true history of your own honor — for it is all in there. You are truly an honorable person. Honor is within you. You must rebuild that field of honor, because it is your only defense against tribal shaming, which will always seek to destroy your sense of honor in order to make you weak and to bring you back “home”.

Once you have done that, the last step is this: RIGHTEOUS ANGER.

Whoa!

Ready?

It goes like this:

You will know that you are standing firmly within your field of honor when your first reaction to attempts at tribal shaming becomes RIGHTEOUS ANGER. You will know that you are on the road to emotional health and recovery when a member of your tribe tries to shame you, and rather than absorb that shame and turn it into sickness and poison…you instead react with RIGHTEOUS ANGER.

Now, a quick word on anger: It is not healthy, obviously, to spend your life feeling furious, or to be constantly simmering with unspoken resentment. If you are a person like me, who tries to be big-hearted and forgiving, you have probably spent your life battling against anger and trying to eradicate it from your mind. But Dr. Martinez suggests that there is a role in your life for healthy anger, for appropriate anger, for RIGHTEOUS ANGER. Righteous anger is a fast, hot fire that burns up the poison of tribal shaming, and protects your own field of honor. This is the anger that rises up like a dragon and says, “Don’t you DARE try to shame me!”

This anger is correct and just and fair….and totally necessary for your health.

You are entitled to it. You must lay claim to it.

You are a person of honor who does not deserve to be shamed.

This is the anger that protects you from the wrath of the most judgmental people in your life (even the ones whom you love and adore — ESPECIALLY them!) Righteous anger even protects you from the wrathful judgment of the dead — for it is the case that the dead can still shame you from beyond the grave…or, at least, they will try to.

So learn to get angry, whenever you experience the toxic wrath of tribal shaming.

Be righteous about it.

Strike back.

Defend yourself — from both the living and the dead.

When you can do that…that’s when you will know that you are on your true path at last.

That’s when you will begin to be FREE.

That’s when you will have a chance at happiness and deep, satisfying health.

Whew.

OK, you guys…so that’s my speech today about tribal shaming!

I don’t know if this information will seem as radical and useful to anyone else as it does to me…but it has totally revolutionized my thinking. Now that I’ve been introduced to this idea of tribal shaming, I see it EVERYWHERE. I see people inflicting tribal shame on each other all the time, and I see people sabotaging their own lives and their own happiness in order to not betray the tribe.

And then there’s this humbling realization: When I look back at my own life, I see instances in my history where I myself have inflicted tribal shame upon others — and that makes me feel…well…ashamed. I have resolved to be on guard about never doing that again to anyone, and about being very careful not to use the powerful language of betrayal/abandonment/accusation against the people I love…people who may be changing and growing, as they need to.

Shame is powerful dark magic, and I don’t want to mess with it on either end. I never want to hurt someone like that again. And I never want to be hurt like that again, either.

For those of you who have stuck around to read this ENTIRE post — thank you!

This has been incredibly useful information to me, and I hope it will help you all to live a freer and happier life.

And thank you to Dr. Mario Martinez, for his years of pioneering research on this topic!

ONWARD,
LG