Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Our Age of Ignorance and Mormonism

Our Age of Arrogance

We live in a time when we have more access to education and information than all the previous generations combined.  All our children are provided free and appropriate public education no matter what their disability or handicap.   All of our children are taught to read and write.  Arithmetic is covered in the primary grades and algebra in middle school.   Our education system teaches science, history, government, music, and art.  By the time our children become adults, they have been exposed to more information and ideas than most colonials had in their lifetime.  

I hold in my hand a portal to more resources than the Library of Alexandria contained.  On my cell phone, I have 55 digital books written during the early years of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).  I found these books with minimal effort and obtained them for free.  On my computer, I have bookmarked or downloaded hundreds of sources discussing Mormonism: webpages, journal articles, newspaper articles, blogs, and, even, videos of lectures.  The abundance of resources are almost overwhelming. 

Until a few months ago, I had only the most rudimentary knowledge of Mormon history and Mormon beliefs.  Like most things in our current age, I had a simplistic view of Mormonism and many false assumptions.  The LDS (Mormon Church) has promoted these overly simplified images.   As I read, I quickly learned how little I knew of actual facts and Mormon theology.  

My early understanding of Mormonism went something like this:

During the early years of our country, a man in New England area claimed to find gold plates with another version of Christianity where Jesus visited the New World after his resurrection but before his ascension.  These plates were translated and then disappeared.  So far, I am not too far off the mark.    Joseph Smith, Palmyra, New York, late 1820s.

I never believed these plates ever existed but I thought the beginnings of Mormonism was a pious movement similar to the Amish.  They had their own beliefs and ways but were basically a sect of Christianity seeking to live according to the teachings of the bible.  I pictured Joseph Smith as a trained preacher who only used the "plates" to inspire his followers.  I also assumed that the people who followed him didn't know any better.  I assumed that once evidence was presented about the plates being false, they would abandon Mormonism.  I assumed that public in the 1830s and 1840s was unaware of this movement and no attempt was made to educate the misguided followers.

I was wrong.  Very wrong.  From almost the very beginning of the Mormon movement, people have actively attempted to stop it and expose Joseph Smith as a fraud.  Books and articles were published.  Lectures and debates were held.  People even submitted legal affidavits detailing their knowledge about the fraud.  Despite all this, Mormonism persisted.

As I read the sources from the 1830s-1860s, I am struck by how hard people tried to stop Joseph Smith and his followers.  So many times I have read passages in which the writer assumes that Mormonism will be a short-lived phenomenon.  One writer said that in a hundred years people will look back at Mormonism and be horrified that it even occurred at all.  Like me, they assumed that once the truth was known, no one would follow such a false faith.

With the whole world at our fingertips, there is no excuse for the continued existence of such farces and cons.  We should be a society with fewer cults, fewer scams, and fewer con artists.  Instead they are flourishing at an astounding rate.  There are thousands of groups that qualify as either a high demand/ high control group or an outright scam.  How on earth is this possible?  Every one of us can do quick internet searches of groups before we become involved.  We can quickly see if there are any negative articles, any legal issues, any people denouncing the group.

When a friend of my son was offered a job that sounded too good to be true, I researched it for him.  Within an hour, I had information detailing the deceptive sales practices and a long list of complaints from former sales people.  I was able to tell him exactly what to expect when working with this company and it was not easy money as advertised.  He chose to try it anyway and found what I said was true.

Just last weekend, a college student told me about an unsolicited email he received offering him a job.  I immediately thought it was a scam.  He gave me more information about the person and the company.  This time I found nothing.  That was a big red flag.  No researcher who supposedly graduated with a PhD from Yale goes completely unpublished.  Publish or perish is the mantra of academia.    

There are no more excuses for the Mormonism.  There is no more hiding the facts.  Primary sources exist that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Joseph Smith was a liar and a fraud.  Brigham Young, at best, preached violence  and, at worst, ordered a massacre.  

The information is there.  We need to stop being blinded by faith or tradition.  We need to think for ourselves and research for ourselves.  We need to protect ourselves from cons, cults and deceptions.  With the whole world of information at our fingertips and our system of education for all people, we have no excuses for gullibility and blind faith.  

No excuses.  Blind faith leads to destruction.    

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Mormon Fraud

Exciting news!

I have published a number of my essays into an eBook and it is now available exclusively through Amazon.

This quick read book, Mormon Fraud, is an introduction to Mormonism for those of us who do not live in an area where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is prevalent.  As an outsider to all things LDS, I explain the shocking discoveries I made as I read about the Mormons.

One of the benefits of an eBook is that I can utilize the power of the internet.  Mormon Fraud contains links to many sources of the sources I reference.  It also contains links to books written during the early years of the LDS.  These amazing resources are available for free.  Some of them I have read and some I have yet to read.

Many more books will follow.  The Mormon fraud throughout the years disgusts me.  People's lives are being destroyed because of one man's lies and quest for power almost 200 years ago.

Your own beliefs are your choice but know why you have those beliefs and where those beliefs originated. Any belief that can't withstand close examination is not worth having.

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Utah Lighthouse Ministry: An Example of Strength, Courage and Perseverance.

How many of us would speak the truth when it would open ourselves up to ridicule and threats?

Not many.  Most of us are too scared to make any waves in society.  Most of us will go along with the status quo despite either knowing it is wrong or having severe doubts about it.  It is much easier to just accept what authorities say than to question the facts behind it.  It is outright terrifying to question authority.

It is terrifying to oppose authorities in schools and in government but it is absolutely petrifying to question religious doctrine and practices.  People get defensive immediately when asked uncomfortable questions about their beliefs in God or why they believe a certain thing.  I have a great deal of difficulty discussing religion openly and honestly in my town.  I live in an area of the country that is predominantly fundamentalist Christian.  I am about as far from a fundamentalist as you can get and not be agnostic or atheist.  I question everything.

Jerald Tanner seems to have been a kindred spirit.  He questioned facts about his Mormon faith not to discredit it but to understand it better.  He did not stop questioning when the answering were troubling.  Instead he questioned further.  He and his wife Sandra Tanner felt compelled to share their findings with the world.

It would have been easier for them to simply quietly leave the LDS and forget all about it.  They could have spent their time enjoying their lives and spending time with their family.  They could have lived a comfortable "normal" life.   I thank God that they didn't.  Instead, they poured their resources, time and money, into further researching the history of Mormonism and sharing what they found.

I am a knowledge geek and love learning.  I am a trained anthropologist and scientist.  I read scientific journals and original sources whenever possible.  I have found the Tanners' works to be coherent, unbiased and thoroughly referenced.   I can check for myself to see if I agree with their conclusions.  

This morning I was on the Utah Lighthouse Ministry website.  I am writing a piece on the early events and wanted to check a few facts.  I can find the information I need in one of their papers and check their sources to confirm I had it right.  I have read so much that I forget where I read it.  I didn't realize I would be writing anything when I initially started researching Mormonism and didn't take notes.  I just flew through the material appalled at what I read.

As I read a piece, I scrolled to the bottom of the page.  UTHM had included many comments from readers.  Some of the comments were encouraging and thanking them for their work.  Others were downright mean.  I wondered if these people were reading the same articles as I was.  I found their work to be objective and non-judgmental.  I found lists of where the Tanners and the Utah Lighthouse Ministry had been threatened and sued.  

To me, a non-Mormon with no emotional involvement, the Tanners' work appears to be a wonderful source for early Mormon documents and articles explaining the LDS.  To a Mormon, the very suggestion that Joseph Smith could have lied is blasphemy.  When I began researching Mormonism, I assumed the early followers didn't know many of the facts surrounding the origins of the Book of Mormon.  I was wrong.  People have turned a blind eye to cold, hard facts from the very beginning of the LDS.

Many comments on the UTLM.org website asked why they felt it necessary to destroy other people's religion and why they are so hateful.  I don't think it is hateful to question religion's doctrine, origin, practices, or leaders.  We have every right to ask questions.  If the leaders don't want to be questioned, it should raise even more questions.  

No faith that can't stand examination is worth having.

God is the sum of all truths. 

The God of the universe can not be destroyed by facts.  

My questioning of Mormonism and why people followed Joseph Smith has led me to examine my own faith in a different way.  I am subjecting my own Anglican beliefs to the same scrutiny I would ask of a fundamentalist Christian and a Mormon.  It is not easy.  Questioning everything is scary but necessary.  Publishing and being public about findings takes a great deal of courage.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Autism: Early Intervention & Diagnosis to Early Admission to College of Business!

Fifteen years ago, this man was a little boy who could not communicate his most basic thoughts.  He was so non-responsive that at one point we thought he might have a hearing loss.  For a while I actually hoped that was the cause.  At least I can understand hearing and hearing loss.  The alternative was the great unknown called autism.

His hearing was fine.  Better than fine.  Just shy of his 3rd birthday, he was evaluated by a team of specialists at a major Children's Hospital.  The decision was unanimous and undeniable.  Autism.

His future was a giant unknown.  Last month he asked me if the specialists gave us any information about how far he would progress or what the future held.  No.  Nothing.  The range of developmental issues are so vast that the experts can give no indication of how far he might progress.  We didn't know if he would ever be able to function independently.

The list of things he couldn't do that he should be able to do was lengthy.  It still makes me cry when I think about that time.  The fear for his future was overwhelming.  If he never became independent, who would take care of him when I'm gone?  This fear drove me to action.  He would become as independent as possible.

My son had a major advantage over most kids in his situation.  Many people say that advantage was having me as his mother but that is wrong.  His real advantage stemmed from his grandparents, my parents.  They both spent their careers educating special needs children.  They both understood the challenges he would face and provided guidance.  Without them, we would have floundered.  Without them, we would not have known what questions to ask or where to look for answers.  Without them, we would have listened to the naysayers and not have pushed as hard.

People in our small town marvel at his progress.  Some have called it a miracle.  We moved here when he was in 2nd grade and couldn't read or count.  Now he is a senior in high school.  He plays football, wrestles and runs track.  He completed five college classes during his junior yer and is taking twice that number this year.  We once wondered if he would need to take the alternative assessments to graduate from high school.  Now, he has been accepted to two universities and even got directly admitted into the College of Business.

This may look like a miracle.  It may seem like it is just because I pushed him so hard.  It may seem like he must be especially gifted to have achieved this level of success.  It isn't

Some have commented that he achieved all this because of his unique drive.  That is true.  What most don't realize is that he was not born with that drive,  None of us are.  He developed that internal drive to succeed as he grew.  His drive developed because he was challenged and because we believed he could overcome his challenges.

Others can learn from him.  I finally convinced him to share his story in the hopes that others will also achieve higher levels of independence.  I no longer worry about what will happen when I am gone.  That is the gift that I wish to share with other parents.

Oh....notice in the top picture that he is sitting behind the wheel of the car.  Yes.  He did get his driver's license which is something else that was never a certainty.  It took more practice than most but he did it.  And he is a good driver.

Amazon.com: Striving for Independence: Ways to Help Children with Disabilities Learn to Function More Indepedently eBook: Kristan Payne: Kindle Store

Monday, August 31, 2015

Collapse of Mormonism Coming From Within

All the scientific evidence supports what many have believed since the 1830's.  The Book of Mormon is not ancient and it is not an accurate history.  It is a 19th century work of fiction.  The gold plates never existed.  The so called religion is based on the lies of a man trying to convince people to give him money.

With the advent of the Information Age, the Brethren can no longer suppress the truth with their propaganda or simple denials.  Anyone can look for answers and find credible information in minutes.  Mormons can find all the evidence they need to prove that Joseph Smith and the other founders of Mormonism were liars more interested in power and money than worshiping God on the LDS website and in authorized LDS sources.

I have spent hours listening to former Mormons tell their stories.  Many of these people wanted nothing more than to prove that the Mormon beliefs were true.  Time after time, I heard the pain as they realized the lie and were forced to accept the truth.  

The first story I heard of this type was of a young man preparing for his mission.  He felt that in order to properly do the work of the Mormon church and preach to non-believers, he needed to have a firm understanding of his faith.  He had questions and sought clarification.  He did not have doubts and seek to prove the LDS false.  He had faith but wanted more knowledge to deepen his faith.  The opposite occurred.  His questions grew and his faith in the truth of the LDS dissolved.

Although details changed, I heard this same basic story told many times.  The questions arose not because the members fell under the sway of evil anti-Mormon activists or because somehow they came across anti-Mormon literature.  This first story happened before the rise of ex-Mormon support groups and even before the advent of computers and the internet.  

I heard this story told by Sandra Tanner.  It is the story of her husband Jerald Tanner's quest for truth as a teenager during the late 1950's.  Instead of relying on the standard LDS answers to questions about the origins of Mormonism, Mr, Tanner did his own research.  He read early sources and talked to many sources.  After years of study, he finally left the LDS.  He and his wife, also ex-Mormon, devoted their lives to helping people discover the truth about the LDS lies.  Mr. Tanner died almost 10 years ago but their work continues at the Utah Lighthouse Ministries (ww.utlm.org)

Another story is that of Earl Erskine.  I found an episode of "Heart of the Matter", a live video broadcast show based in Utah, where Mr. Erskine told of his journey out of Mormonism.  From the beginning of the 2011 episode, I knew that something was different about his story.  At the time of the show, Mr. Erskine was still a member of the LDS, still had a temple recommend, and his changed beliefs were unknown to the LDS.  

Like Mr. Tanner, Mr. Erskine did not set out to prove the LDS false.  Instead, he was simply following the 2005 challenge of the former LDS President Gordon B. Hinkley to read the Book of Mormon in one year.  Ever faithful, Mr. Erskine did just that.  In fact, he finished early.  With the extra time, he challenged himself to read the 1830 publication also.  This brought questions.  Why were there differences?  If the Book of Mormon was the most perfect book even written, why the changes?  These changes were significant theologically.   The God of the 1830 edition was eternal and of one being with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It took six years of study of LDS approved materials and prayer before Mr. Erskine publicly renounced the LDS.

While the Utah Lighthouse Ministry provides wonderful and factual information about Mormonism, most Mormons will never read any of it.  They are told to:
*Avoid the Tanners.  
*Avoid anything that will cause them to lose their testament. *Avoid anything that is "Anti-Mormon".
*Avoid researching into troubling aspects of their faith.

Instead, Put it on a Shelf.

Elder Dallin Oaks, Quorum of Twelve Apostle, states the LDS mindset quite succinctly.

"It's wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true."   

Enough said.

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

LDS: Restoration of True Christianity or a Fabrication by Joseph Smith?

According to Mormons, Joseph Smith was chosen by God to restore the church to the true teachings of Christ.  According to them, after the first apostles died, the people lost the message and ceased to do the work of God.  The Mormons frequently refer to modern churches as "the whore of Babylon".   Smith was to lead the people back to the correct way to worship God.

A Restoration.

Restorations and reformations have occurred periodically in Christianity.  Martin Luther is the most famous reformer in Christianity.  Many may not realize that Luther had no intention of causing a split in the Catholic Church.  He simply wanted certain practices such as the selling of indulgences to end.  We're wanted a return to a previous type of church.

Joseph Smith preached Mormonism as a restoration of the true church but his ideas and the practices of the LDS have no correlation in any era of Judaism or Christianity.  His so called restoration has enacted a completely new set of practices and heretical beliefs.  A true restoration would make the LDS an institution that Jesus would not only recognize but also feel comfortable promoting and practicing.

A restoration church should be recognizable to Jewish scholars as first century Judaism.  Jesus was a Jew. He preached as a Jew. He worshiped as a Jew.  He lived as a Jew.  If we lost our way within a generation or two of his crucifixion, the practices of the LDS should be very Jewish.

Instead of returning to following the laws of kosher, the LDS has limited only alcohol, coffee, and tea.  Jesus clearly did not activate a strict prohibition against alcohol since he turned water into wine and commanded us to break the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of him, our Holy Eucharist.

Instead of returning to a strict observation of the Sabbath, the LDS still considers Sunday as the proper day to worship God.   If there is anything that could be justified, it would be returning the day of worship to the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday.

When in Judaism or ancient Israel did God command his people to live plural marriage? 
When did He permit all men to be admitted to the priesthood? 
When did He demand strict tithing?  
When did He command the so called temple work of endowment and sealing of marriage for time and eternity.?
When did He advocate baptizing the dead, sealing the dead in marriage and endowment of the dead?

None of the practices or core beliefs are a return. 

Simple Proof that Mormons are not Christians

Mormons portray themselves as the one true church of Jesus Christ.  It is stated in the name of their organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  They say they believe in Jesus.  They talk about him.  The Book of Mormon is supposedly another testament of Jesus Christ.

So....they must be Christians, right?


Mormonism fails the most basic of all tests of Christianity.  In order to be Christian, a group must believe in the most basic and central belief of Christianity.  That belief is not a belief in Jesus as the Christ.  That comes later.

So...what is the most basic and core belief of Christianity?

God: Eternal, Creator of all, and the Father of all.

Mormons will quickly point out that the believe in God and pray to him.  The problem with that is their definition of God is totally different than any Christian, Jew, or Muslim.  The central teaching about God in Mormonism denies His eternal nature.  Mormons sum up the belief nicely in an easy to remember saying.

"As man is, God once was.  As God is, man may become." Stated by Lorenzo Snow, former prophet.

This is complete blasphemy to any Jew, Muslim or Christian.  This cute little say states that God was once a man!  It goes on to state that men may become gods themselves!  This is the ultimate heresy.

I still have trouble even wrapping my brain around this.  God was a man?  They do not mean this in the same sense that God was made flesh in Jesus to dwell among us.  They mean he was a normal, typical male doing all the things males do.  He lived a good life and was rewarded by becoming a god.  He was given our world to populate.

Even worse than the thought of God having once been a man is the thought that men can become gods and have their own worlds to populate.  Think about it.  Each and every Mormon man believes that if he lives according to the dictates of his religion, he will be rewarded by becoming a god and having his own world.  Women are rewarded IF their husbands choose to elevate them.  Their reward is to be forever pregnant and having spirit babies to populate their husbands world.

I am not making this up.

Mormons deny God is eternal.  They blaspheme in thinking that the men can become a god themselves.

Mormons are polytheists,  The Mormons believe in an incredible number of possible gods.

By denying God as eternal, unchanging and creator of all, Mormons fail the most basic of all tests of Christianity.  It does not matter how many times they talk about Jesus or pray to God.  They are not praying to the same God that is exalted by the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Mormonism is not a form of Christianity and without a belief in the eternal and creator God, Mormonism can not be including in the same classification as the three great religions that do worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Mormonism has more in common with the polytheists of ancient Greece and Rome than the monotheistic Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Did the Gold Plates of Mormon Exist?

Gold Plates Clip Art
from clker.com
 Gold Plates:

  • Inscribed with the history of an ancient group that lived in the Americas.
  • Buried in a hill for centuries.
  • Contains the second and "true" testament Jesus of Nazareth.
  • That were "translated" into the Book of Mormon.
  • Unseen by anyone else using their biological eyes.

Without the gold plates, Mormonism falls.  There is no basis for their beliefs if the gold plates never existed.  If Smith lied, thousands of good people have been deceived.  It is curious that the LDS typically depicts Smith translating the plates by sitting at a desk with the plates in front of him. He is deep in thought as he studies them.  This creates a very academic environment for the translations. Reality is so much more interesting. Smith never had the plates in sight as he dictated the Book of Mormon. Instead, he put his favorite er stone into a tall hat, put his face into the hat to block the light, and then and only then would he begin his "translation".

The question is simple. The Book of Mormon is a hoax. No one saw it. The words are not consistent with an ancient manuscript. It contains errors of translation that were unique to the King James version of the bible. None of the so called history is accurate. Native American Indians are not of descended from Israelites.  

The story told about the events and events surrounding that time changed significantly through the years. Smith has a reputation as a story teller.  Stood trial and was convicted for deceiving people.

It was the ultimate get rich quick scheme.  If the objective had truly been to share the word of God, why was there a rush to publish it as a book? Why did he try to sell the copyrights? 

The bigger question is, why did anyone believe him and why are people still unwilling to accept the truth?  I have been watching many YouTube videos about Mormonism and people who try to spread the truth. In several of these videos, the Mormons asked if the Book of Mormon is fake and the LDS is not a true church of God, then what do they have to offer that is better.  

For the people to accept that Smith lied, do they really need to be shown a better option?  They would rather continue to follow a religion based on a lie and faulty theology.  Shouldn't we start with truth and work from there?

I will not preach to people.  I believe in God.  I believe we have lost sight of His love and His guidance though the years.  I started studying all religions in order to see past out perversions of religion. Mormonism is one of the worst offenders.  It was stated on a lie and get progressively worse with time.

There are plenty of very good websites and I am finding many sources written within a few years of Smith's so called discovery.  In the next few weeks, I will be paying many more essays. In those I will provide sources and specifics.  This has become a passion. I want to provide the information people need to not fall victim to the missionary's tactics. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Mormon Fraud: Another Contemporary Source

This morning my head hurts too much to read Howe's book as closely as it deserves.  So, until the weather pattern clears and my head recovers I skimmed the opening lines of another book.  This book is dated slightly later than Howe's 1836 book and was published in 1842.

Mormonism and the Mormons: A Historical View of the Rise and Progress of the Sect Self-Styled Latter-Day Saints by Daniel P. Kidder.  Published by Carlton & Porter,                                        New York 1842.

Once again, I found this book via a quick search of Google Books and downloaded a digital photocopy of the entire manuscript including library stamps.  

While Howe's book may be viewed with skepticism if the claims that his wife, sister, and niece were converts to Mormonism, Kidder had a completely different reason for writing.  In the preface, Kidder explains the origins of his interest in Joseph Smith and Mormonism.  In 1840, Kidder was traveling on the Mississippi River and happened, by chance, to board a vessel owned and operated by Joseph Smith.  After spending a few days with Smith and his followers, Kidder's fellow non-Mormon passengers requested he write an account of their mistreatment at the hands of Smith so that it could be published in St Louis.  Instead, he wrote a piece for the Methodist Quarter Review.  The article was too long for inclusion in the review but the editors advised him to turn the manuscript into a book.

What happened on that fateful voyage that its non-Mormons felt needed to be preserved and published?  When any of the passengers expressed even the slightest doubt about the truth of Mormonism, Smith later chastised them severely.  Kidder concluded that Smith's standard mode of operation was to browbeat his way through life until he got what he wanted.  

Smith's poor treatment of his passengers directly resulted in this book being written.  It will be interesting to find out what else Kidder learned.

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Mormon Fraud: Abundance of Proof Sources

As I am learning about Mormonism and problem inherent with the organization and its unusual beliefs, I decided that I need to narrow my research.  There are many websites, podcasts, and books dealing with contemporary issues in the LDS.  Much of what it is still unknown to me and its critique of the functioning of the LDS is better left to others.  Instead, I am fascinated with the origins of Mormonism.  

I am fascinated with the origins of religions in general and have spent much time reading and researching Judaism, Catholicism, and various Protestant denominations.  Until the Reformation, sources are sparse at best.  The authorship of many of the various books of the Old Testament and New Testament are unknown.  Some of the Letters of Paul were almost definitely written by Paul of Tarsus while others are called psuedepigrapha which is basically the opposite of plagiarism.   A chance word or two by Flavius Josephus constitutes corroborating evidence.

In contrast, Mormonism has an abundance of books and articles written during its founding years.  Smith and crew made such a splash across the country that journalists investigated his story.  People were interviewed and their words recorded.  Through the power of the Internet, I am able to read many of these books.  I have downloaded 10 books so far and the earliest publication date is 1834 "Mormonism Unvailed" by Eder D. Howe.  I am reading from photocopies of the actual pages of the manuscripts.  There has been no modern manipulation of the text and it will take some time to work my way through them.

Howe was a newspaper editor and writer living in Painesville, Ohio.  He investigated Mormonism and Joseph Smith at the request of many friends.  For those unfamiliar with northeast Ohio, Painesville is less than 12 miles from Kirtland, Ohio and Joseph Smith.  One source states that Howe's wife, sister, and niece had converted but I need to find a more reliable source than Wikipedia.  Howe had serious reasons to thoroughly investigate the group, he was in a location to do it, and he had the skills.

As I read this and other early sources, I will share what I learn.  Disinformation and denial seems to be popular with the LDS.  With the advent of the Internet, the truth is available for anyone willing to look.  I found these sources in a matter of minutes on Google Play Store and downloaded them for free.  

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Mormon Fraud: Why Does It Matter to Me?

The Mormon Fraud

Why Does It Matter to Me?

Until last weekend, I didn't have any opinions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mormonism, or its founder Joseph Smith.  I didn't have an opinion because I didn't know anything about it except the most superficial facts.  Like most Americans, I associated Mormons with Utah, large close knit families, a history of polygamy, and some scriptures not included in Catholic or Protestant bibles.  Since I live in an area that is basically free of the Mormon influence, I didn't give it much thought.

Until last weekend....

A video about problems with Mormonism popped up as recommended on YouTube.  I watched it and realized how little I know.  Much of the content made no sense to me.  The terms referenced were totally unfamiliar.  I imagine it is like a Jew hearing arguments about Christianity for the first time.  Who's this "Paul"?  What is Easter?  What do you mean the laws don't need to be followed anymore?  In order to understand any problems with Mormonism, I first needed to learn its language and its stories.

I quickly learned that the founder of the Latter-Day Saints, Joseph Smith, was convicted of fraud and known to lie.  The gold plates were seen by no one else with their natural physical eyes.  The story told in the Book of Mormon has no historical basis but is partially plagiarized from other books.  In short, the whole of Mormonism rests on the word of one man and that man was a liar.

If people choose to devout their lives to the teachings of a liar, that is their choice.  If that were all it was, a small group of people knowingly following a work of fiction, I would have no reason other than scholarly curiosity to examine the practice more intensely.  That isn't all.  People in the Latter-Day Saints churches are not told the complete story and they are actively discouraged from questioning the official stories.  Furthermore, the LDS intensely trains thousands of young Mormons to spend two years of their lives trying to convert people.  

The LDS expend an enormous amount of time and resources to recruiting new members.  The story told to the potential recruits does not reflect the actual beliefs of the LDS nor the truth of its origins.  Potential members are not told that Joseph Smith moved from state to state to evade prosecution for fraud.  They are not told that he secretly "married" as many as 33 women.  They are not told that he ordered the destruction of the local newspaper because it printed concerns about Smith and his practices.  They are not told that they believe in many gods and God was a man.  They are not told they will have to give the LDS at least 10% of their income AND the LDS will check tax returns to make sure you are giving 10% of your gross income and not 10% of your net income.

All of these things I learned since last week.  In the future I will provide many links to show the truth of my concerns.  The best place to start is the Mormon Research Ministries.  This website uses many of the LDS's own sources to show inconsistencies. Its founder Bill McKeever has written many books about Mormonism and has YouTube videos of his talks.  I have watched many of his talks and look forward to reading his books.

Another place to start is the book by former Mormon Blair Watson called Latter-day Saint Swindle: The Mormon Church’s $200-Billion Scam.    http://www.blairwatsontribute.net/ Mr. Watson spent three years researching this book and even as a lifetime member of the LDS was shocked by much of it.  Once I started reading this book, I had trouble putting it down to do trivial things like eat.  I finished within a day but plan to read it again paying attention to his numerous footnotes.  Since Mr Watson's death, a link to a free PDF can be found at Tribute to Blair Watson 

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Did Abraham Write a Book? Or Did Joseph Smith?

A fragment of the scroll "translated" by Joseph Smith before North America had the Rosetta Stone information for reference,  In other words, he "translated" it at a time when no one could dispute his interpretations.

The Book of Abraham.

When I started learning more about Mormonism, one of the first things that caught my interest was their discussion of "the Book of Abraham".  How can I have been diligently studying early Christianity and the formation of Judaism for years and not ever heard of a book written by the key figure to whom God first revealed Himself and guided us to monotheism?  Never once was this seminal book mentioned in any of the university courses or scholarly lectures about Christianity, Judaism or Islam.  Obviously, I had to learn more.  Researching is what I do best.  Once again my main source is the LDS website.

This story begins in 1835 when a traveling salesman arrived in Kirtland, Ohio which was the home of Joseph Smith and his followers at the time.  His merchandise included four Egyptian mummies and several scrolls of papyrus that had been removed from Egypt by and Italian army officer.  Smith convinced his followers to raise money and purchase the scrolls.  He quickly declared that the scrolls were in fact written by Abraham.  According to his own journals he spent days studying and translating the scrolls.  In 1842, he published the results of his work.

An absolutely amazing story.   Remember, Smith published this work at a time when no one in North America could dispute it.  The Rosetta Stone, the key to finally deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, had just recently been decoded but that knowledge had yet to reach this side of the globe.  Smith had no way of knowing that very soon a language that had been undecipherable for thousands of years would quickly become accessible to anyone willing to study. 

What does Smith claim the scrolls say?

According to Smith, the scroll contained the writings of Abraham as written by Abraham's own hand.  These writings detailed his time in Egypt and contains another creation story.  According to all the Egyptology experts, the scroll is a funerary text for a priest and does not even mention Abraham.   The official LDS website confirms this lack of credibility has done nothing to change the sacredness of the writings or remove them from the official LDS canon.  Instead, the LDS have revised their definition of what Joseph Smith meant when he said he "translated" the scrolls.  

This is where the whole story takes a left turn.  Normally, if a person claims to have done something and it is shown without a shadow of a doubt that he didn't do it, his work loses all authority and is discredited.  That is how life works.  A fraudulent claim is a fraud.  A lie.  A sham.  A scam.  It is just plain wrong.  That is a normal view of false claims.

The Mormons admit the writing on the scrolls do not discuss Abraham, BUT, now, they say Smith was a divinely inspired "translation" of the word of God.  They changed their definition of translation to include anything that comes to mind.   Smith claimed to be divinely inspired.  So, his works must be true.  This is much the same with his "translation" of the Book of Mormon from the supposedly ancient gold plates.  It is documented by the LDS that Smith dictated his translation by putting a stone in a hat and covering his face with the hat.  He did not look at the plates or even touch the plates as he dictated.  Of course, no one can prove his translation right or wrong because he had to "return" the plates.  Convenient.  

Much of the Mormon belief in the the continuing authority of the Book of Abraham is linked to their belief in the two ways of knowing things.  We can know things are true by seeing them with our eyes or by closing our eyes and imagining them to be true.  This make-believe/make-it-real belief is closely tied to the gold plates also.  No one aside from Joseph Smith saw the gold plates with their physical eyes.  The witnesses all "saw" the plates with their spiritual eye. Translation: No witnesses existed.  More on that in another post as I need to research it further to understand how otherwise intelligent people can believe this.

There are countless references on the internet but I try to stick to unbiased critiques and the LDS own stance.  Nothing more is needed to show the false nature of this document.  Here are a few more sources.  

Brigham Young University- LDS FAQ

Mormons in Transition at the Institute for Religious Research

Cold Case Christianity: How the Book of Abraham Exposes the False Nature of Mormonism

 Believe what you want but know why you believe it and 

where the doctrine originated.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Book of Mormon: "Seen" in a Hat.

We should ignore what is not uplifting?
" Joseph’s wife Emma explained that she “frequently wrote day after day” at a small table in their house in Harmony, Pennsylvania. She described Joseph “sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”28 "
(from the official the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website)

I realized last week that my knowledge of Mormonism was limited to polygamy, interest in genealogical research, and the names of the founders.  I have been trying to remember what started me down this avenue of research. I was watching YouTube videos about Judaism and the history of antisemitism when a video about Mormonism popped up in the recommended column. "Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained" by MormonHistoryBuff.  I was intrigued.

The Internet provides an overwhelming amount of information but much of it is unintentionally inaccurate or knowingly misleading.  I may start my search at such places as YouTube or Wikipedia but only to gain enough knowledge to find credible sources.  My research into antisemitism was started by a chance meeting with a holocaust survivor at a flea market.  As I talked with Aliza, I realized I knew nothing about the depth and scale of antisemitism.  The next step was listening to college courses through iTunesU and lectures by rabbis about Judaism, Christianity and antisemitism.  But, I digress.  

So, I watched the video  "Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained".
1. The Book of Abraham
2. The First Vision
3. The Book of Mormon Translation
4. The Book of Mormon Problems
5. Authorship of the Book of Mormon
6. Blacks and the Priesthood
7. Kinderhook Plates
8. Polygamy
9. Witnesses
10. Temple

I can not even attempt to intelligently discuss all of these topics yet.  While MormonHistoryBuff's video was well made, logical and seemed credible, I have no idea if it is and I will not even repeat the claims I can't verify from reliable sources.  So what would constitute a reliable source for Mormonism? The official LDS website is one.  Daniel C. Peterson, Professor of Islamic Studies at Brigham Young University, Mormon apologist, and LDS member is another.  For this first critique, these two LDS sources are enough to convince me of a major problem in the foundation on Mormonism.

A little background first...

Joseph F. Smith claimed to be visited by an angel named Moroni in 1823.  This angel told him where to find gold plates which contained a written history of the early inhabitants of America.  In 1827, Smith began his translation.  He translated and subsequently lost 116 pages.  Moroni rebuked him and Smith did not resume his translation until 1829.  He completed the dictation of his translations in just three months and he return the gold plates to the angel.

So, how did Joseph Smith go about his translation?  In what language were the plates written?  Did he spend hours pouring over the gold plates taking notes?  Did he have a translation guide?  If so, where did he get it?  

Anyone who has taken a foreign language in school knows how difficult it is to effectively translate even one paragraph let alone an entire book.  It is not enough to simply replace the foreign words with English words.  Grammar and syntax vary from language to language.  Idioms and meaning vary not just between languages but also within a single language.  A "sweeper" is the same as a "vacuum" where I live but not elsewhere in the United States.  Not long ago, "to be gay" meant being happy.  I am not good with languages.  To effectively translate such an important text would be overwhelming.

So how did Joseph Smith do it?  Look at the picture at the top of the page.  This drawing from the LDS shows a man with his head buried in his hat.  The man depicted is Joseph Smith and he is shown "translating" the gold plates.   When I first heard that Smith buried his head in a hat on the YouTube video, I almost laughed.  I thought this was something fabricated to discredit Mormonism.  

So, I checked with the official Mormon version of the story.  The quote at the top of the page is from the LDS website and quotes Smith's wife describing the translation using a hat and seer stone.  (reference and additional information provided by LDS is at the bottom of the page)  This notion of being able to translate gold plates given by the angel without even looking at the plates is the most far fetched claim I ever heard.  Why did the angel give him the plates if they weren't needed for the so called translation?

How can an entire religion be based on what a man almost literally drew from his hat?  God inspired him?  Well, God has inspired me to write this.  

As far as the actual existence of the gold plates, no one else saw them.  All the witnesses "saw" them in their mind the same way Joseph Smith "saw" the translation.

An entire religion founded on a lie and a sham by a man with a criminal history of conning people.  

(28)“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald 26 (Oct. 1, 1879), 289–90. Some outside reports describe the spectacles being placed in the hat during the translation process. A Palmyra newspaper published the earliest known account of the translation in August 1829: Jonathan Hadley, a Palmyra printer who may have spoken with Joseph Smith about translation, claimed that the plates were found with a “huge pair of Spectacles,” and that “by placing the Spectacles in a hat, and looking into it, Smith could (he said so, at least,) interpret these characters.” (“Golden Bible,” Palmyra Freeman, Aug. 11, 1829, [2].) In the winter of 1831, a Shaker in Union Village, Ohio, spoke of “two transparent stones in the form of spectacles” through which the translator “looked on the engraving & afterwards put his face into a hat & the interpretation then flowed into his mind.” (Christian Goodwillie, “Shaker Richard McNemar: The Earliest Book of Mormon Reviewer,” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 2 [Spring 2011]: 143.)

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Moment I Realized....

Lone flower- Looks the same but isn't
I will never forget the moment I realized I wasn't normal.  My oldest boys were still little enough to take naps.  They must have been in their rooms for a nap or the moment never would have happened.  I was curled up on the couch relaxing and watching Oprah.  I didn't watch television when the boys were around me.  Too many questionable things for very young ears that hear everything.

Yes.  My life changing moment came for watching daytime talk television.  I have no idea what the focus of the Oprah Show was that day.  At some point the guest started describing the horrible side effects of a medication he took.  Oprah compassionately  agreed that the side effects were horrible and worse than whatever it was the medicine was supposed to treat.

Those horrible side effects... I thought they were normal.  They were for me.

Feeling like I'm floating above my body?  Feeling like I can float around the room?  That's not normal?  I thought it was fun.  I knew I wasn't floating but it was still fun.  They are describing it as horrible.  I guess it was scary sometimes but I knew it wasn't real.

Feeling the crushing weight of eternity?  Isn't that why people are afraid of dying?  Afraid of the overwhelming expanse of eternity?  I'm not afraid of nothingness.  Life continues.  I'm sure of it.  Even when things threatened to overwhelm me, I never considered suicide.  It would offer no escape.  The thought of eternity almost suffocated me.  At least I knew what this life holds.

This isn't normal?  It's a horrible devastating problem?  I thought I just wasn't good at dealing with life sometimes.  I have probably warped the events in my memory.  We all do that.  The show may never have discussed these two things but it did talk about things I thought were a normal part of everyone's life as an unbearable condition.

I think I went into shock and tuned out for a while.  It was alot to process.  It was both horrible and incredible at the same time.  I'm not normal but maybe I don't have to feel swallowed up by eternity.  It took months for me to work up the courage to talk to a doctor and get some medication.

I wasn't completely honest with the doctor.  By this time I had realized that my paralyzing fear of bridges and driving in town were signs of excessive anxiety.  I didn't think I needed to tell him about the extent of my anxiety.  I knew no event caused any of my anxiety and "talking to someone" wouldn't help.  Rationally I know my fears are unfounded and the source was chemical.

So...on the morning of Sept. 11th, 2001 at 9 am, I was sitting in the lobby at the doctor's office waiting for my appointment and my first prescription.  9/11 changed all our lives.  For me, I was also the day I admitted I wasn't normal.  My brain chemistry is not the same as everyone else's.  I feel no shame in saying that.  No one should.  It is no different than a person with Type I diabetes, PKU or Lactose Intolerance.  I did nothing to cause the problem and medication helps correct it.

So much of the our physiology is poorly understood.  We know enough to recognized that bacteria and viruses cause disease not our humors being out of whack.  We know that epileptic seizures are not a sign of demonic possession.  Much of what other generations have thought they knew to be true we know to be false.  In the same way, much of what we take for absolute fact will be modified or totally disproven.

This I know...My brain chemistry is not the same as most people's.  I did nothing to cause this.  I have never taken drugs.  Yes, I managed to graduate from Ohio University in the 1980's without even smoking marajuana.  I did drink occasionally but now rarely.  My brain works the way it does because I was born with it this way.

This I know...I am not "unstable", "unpredictable", or "undependable".  I will not go off the deep end or become violent.  Before I started taking medication, no one ever suggested to me that I might need it.  I showed no outward signs of my inward struggle.  I thought my struggles were normal.  Death is scary.  People die on bridges and in car crashes.  The floating sensation is fun.

This I know...Whatever is different about my brain chemistry is helped by Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI).  I was lucky to be given the right medication for me from the start.  Why it works, I don't know.  It does.  It also has drastically reduced my number of migraines.  It doesn't work for everyone with anxiety because the causes are different.  If this has all been placebo effect for the past 14 years, I'm ok with placebo effect.

This I know...I think outside the box because I was never in the box.  I have anxiety but no long suffer panick attacks.  I am just beginning to realize that I also never got my social rules handbook.  I have felt this way since grade school, as if all the other kids had a guidebook on how to act and I didn't.  Then I convinced myself that everyone feels the same as I do.  Now, I wonder if my original thoughts were more accurate.  I am a step behind socially because, like my son, I am on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Today I Sing Hallelujah

Today I sing Hallelujah.  I will sing all day long in my heart and with my voice.  I will celebrate the love of God and His grace.  I will celebrate the work of His loving hand that this week saved us for perpetual pain.  I will celebrate all that is good in the world.  I will celebrate to promise of spring and new life.

Today I sing Hallelujah despite Lent.   On Sundays in Lent I will sing Hallelujah and thank God for allowing me another week of life.  Lenten Sundays are not part of Lent according to one priest which allows for baptisms to occur.  I will use this reprieve from Lent to sing Hallelujah.

Today I sing Hallelujah.   I will sing because I must sing or I will cry.  Tears have not washed away the pain.  Singing Hallelujah will. Singing Hallelujah will focus my heart and soul on the future and let the past slip away.  Singing Hallelujah will heal my soul.

Today I sing Hallelujah all day.  Tomorrow I will not.  Tomorrow Lent returns and I will sing somber hymns of reflection.  I will sing everyday and await next Sunday when I can once again sing Hallelujah.  And so I shall continue until I can sing He is Risen on Easter morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Challenges on the First Day of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  This year I am trying to observe Lent more closely than normal.  Yesterday I wrote about my decision to give up parts of social media.  I will not click on any links that are frivolous.  I waste too much time and get sucked into mindless hype on the internet.

I hate it.  I hate that moment when I realize I just lost an hour or even just ten minutes of my life on drivel.  I hate that I spent time and energy on so called information that adds nothing to my life.  No new knowledge of any importance and often is just gossip.

We all need mindless distractions now and then.  Our brains need to be allowed to wander and process information.  I just want to be mindful of how and when I do this.  I call it "brain candy", a treat for my brain allowing it to not be serious for a while.  Instead of wasting time on the internet, I would rather sort my beads or read romances.  Neither one takes much brain power and they relax me.

Today, I was successful at avoiding the tempting links.  Only a few gave me pause.  I really wanted to find out what the article had to say about the Harry Potter books.  I did click on a few news articles but stayed away from the fluff.  When Dr. Chris Stringer tweets an article about hominid fossils, I want to know what it says.  I think I will make a list of the links that seriously tempt me.  After Easter, I will look them up if they still sound interesting.

A more serious challenge involved lunch, the Women's Lenten Luncheon.   I almost didn't go.  The frigid weather and snowy roads would be a reasonable excuse.  I don't like going places by myself when I know people there.  I would rather walk into a room full of strangers than a room filled with acquaintances and "friends".  What if I can't find a welcoming face?

A good friend was meeting me there.  So, I went.  I only panicked for a few minutes while I scanned the room filled with women.  She was there and had saved a spot for me.  Panic attack averted...until the speaker began.

 The speaker recently began an inclusive Gentle Worship program in our town.  She explained her background, seminary and a child with autism.   In listening to her story, I realized just how different our approaches to our sons' disabilities were.  I have been reflecting on these differences all afernoon.

I cannot yet put all of these thoughts into coherent sentences.

Basically, there are two ways to view a disability like autism.  Change the world or change the child.  I would love to change the world but I can't.  I can and did work to improve my child's behavior so that he could be in the world as much as possible.

One of the examples the speaker mentioned included a reference to her son's need for sameness, sitting in the same pew at church every week.  Change and transitions are extraordinarily hard for people with autism.  I saw this as a challenge.  I forced change in my son's life.  If I saw a routine becoming fixed, I forced a change.  Brush his teeth before his bath instead of after.  I rearranged furnture.  I tried to not be too predicatable.  Variation with a routine or same yet different became my moto.

Life is not consistent.  It is unpredictable.  Changes need to be tolerated.  We worked on this everyday until....we didn't need to anymore.

Like I said, my thoughts are still a jumble.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beautiful Blue Beaded Memory Wire Bracelet

Check out this item in my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/listing/207671809/blue-memory-wire-bracelet

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Preparing for Easter & Limiting Social Media

Every year people talk about abstaining from certain things during Lent.  As a teenager, I abstained from chewing gum.  Thirty years later, I still remember that year.  More recently I have tried to abstain from drinking Pepsi.  I usually make it a couple weeks and then cave.  Since I have already significantly decreased my Pepsi consumption from 2 cans a day to 1 every week or two, I needed to find a more meaningful sacrifice for Lent.

Last year, my son's girlfriend gave up Facebook during Lent.  She actually did it.  Never once did she log on to her Facebook account from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  Twitter, Instagram and whatever other programs are popular were not off limits.  I decided to try something similar this year with major adjustments.

I would love to totally unplug for Lent.  No Internet.  No Facebook.  No Twitter.  No surfing the web.  Think about all the time I would have! Yes, I have spent too much time on social media.  I have been trying to remember life before the Internet.  What did I do before I spent my time sitting at a computer?

Alas, I cannot forsake social media and the Internet for the 40 days of Lent.  I am trying to build a business and Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are part of my marketing plan (as written by my marketing analyst, Gabriel Payne).  I need to stay current.  Follow trends and build excitement for my products. (I'm paying attention to your advice Gabe!).

Instead, I vow that I will NOT follow links to frivolous pages:

  • No "20 things you didn't know about..."
  • No "You wouldn't believe what happened when..."
  • No "Which ___ are you?"
  • No links about decorating the house.
  • No links about household hints.
  • Definitely no links about celebrities!
I will follow links that appear to be newsworthy or educational.  

Each time before I click, I will ask myself if this is worth my time.  Is this useful to my life?  Will this help me become a better person?  Will this help me serve God? 

This is my Lenten promise.  I will not waste time on the junk of social media.  I will not fall into the traps that are laid by others in hopes of grabbing my attention.  I will focus.  I will prepare my heart and soul for God.

Friday, January 30, 2015

4 Reasons Anti-Vaxx People Annoy Me

With the recent outbreak of measles in California and last summer's outbreak among the Amish, vaccines and the anti-vaccine movement are once again hot topics.  I got into a minor discussion on Facebook yesterday with some anti-vaccine proponents.  They defended their positions with a fervor and dismissed any and all evidence that contradicts them.

1. Believing anecdotal stories are proof of a connection.  As soon as the topic of vaccines arise, stories about children sicken by the vaccine and their autism come out.  I have no doubt that some children show an immune response to the vaccine.  That is the intention of it- to stimulate the immune system and train white blood cells.  Is autism the result? No.  Wakefield was a fraud.

Autism becomes more apparent as the child grows.  At 18 months, my son lost his language abilities.  He went from simple sentences to non-responsive.  This is probably about the time of his vaccinations but that was not the cause.  The cause is much more complicated and, I believe, genetic.  I truly wish vaccines had caused autism and we could prevent autism by simply changing our vaccination protocol.

2. Fearing autism more than the diseases.  I have never seen anyone suffering from measles, small pox, rubella, mumps, or polio.  Our lack of experience with these diseases makes them less threatening and less real than autism.  Autism is a reality in many people's lives including my own.  We seen kids struggling with autism every day.  I would not wish autism on anyone.  It can make life very difficult but it is not a death sentence.  

Until recently, the diseases were abstract and distant.  Measles is the first to make a come back as our herd immunity is compromised.  I fear it will quickly become a reality in many people's lives.

I fear the diseases.  Vaccines have always come with a risk.  That risk is minute when compared to the risk of the disease.  The whole concept of a vaccine is to introduce a very small amount of the antigen (bacteria or virus) to the immune system.  Train the cells so that when a real infection happens it can fight it.  At first, the vaccines were crude and the antigens were live.  People died but others were still willing to take the risk.
3. Not understanding how vaccines work and why they sometimes don't. I understand vaccines better than the average parent.  I worked for a time as a research technician in an immunology lab working to develop a safer influenza vaccine.  The ins and outs of our white blood cells became my daily work.  B cells, T cells, IgM, IgG, IgA, antigens, antibodies, etc.  Vaccines train the non-specific and less effective IgM producing cells to become antigen(disease) specific IgG producing cells.

It is like turning a militia of farmers into a trained army.  Think of the Continental Army after training for the winter at Valley Forge.

Vaccines give our immune system a fighting chance in the event of a real exposure to the disease.  It is not a guarantee.  Viruses change rapidly and the B cells may not recognize the mutation. This is why we need new influenza vaccines yearly.  The antigen can also over whelm the immune system.

Think of our small army of B cells running into an army of overwhelming size.  Go further back in history to the battle of the 300 at Thermopylae.  The Greeks did not stand a chance against the overwhelming Persian army.

4. Believing that the decision to vaccinate is theirs and theirs alone.  The vaccinated in our society create an effective barrier against the diseases which protects those who cannot be vaccinated.  This is "herd immunity".  As fewer and fewer are vaccinated, our herd immunity is compromised.  This puts ALL of us at risk especially our very young, elderly and those whose bodies are already fighting a disease or illness.

Look at the babies.  Look at your grandparents and parents. Look at toddlers.  Look at your co-workers.  Look in the mirror.  All of these people are at risk when you choose not to vaccinate healthy children.

Vaccinations are not a life choice without repercussions to others.  This is not the same as choosing to homeschool your children, become a vegetarian, or get a tattoo.  Public health is the domain of the government.  Vaccinations are a major part of our public health defense strategy.  That defense has worked so well that we don't have memories of other strategies such as quarantines of houses and even cities.

Amazon.com: Striving for Independence: Ways to Help Children with Disabilities Learn to Function More Indepedently eBook: Kristan Payne: Kindle Store

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Explaining my issue with Common Core to my son (Part I)

Your letter to the editor supporting Common Core was impressive.  All of the problems with education and their long term effects on livelihoods that you mentioned are real.  The need for a change in our education system is real.  Your letter and opinions lack one thing- perspective.

Obviously, since I am your mother, I have a couple decades worth of experiences and knowledge that you as a 16 year old student lack.  I am old enough to remember school before all the testing started.  I was preparing to become a teacher when the push for more standardized testing started.  I have heard years and years of political rhetoric and promises of improvement.

None of the promised improvements have happened.  Our children have not become adults more able to compete in the worldwide workforce.  Our children have not become adults able to easily handle all the pressures of our modern world.  Our test scores have not improved or surpassed other nations' scores.  Our nation is not held up as the shining example of quality education that we want it to be.

My perspective differs not just from yours but is also different than most adults.  A friend often referred to me as an "odd duck".  This was not an insult.  "From one odd duck to another" recognized the fact that we had ways of viewing things that were not the same as the masses.  I have studied a wide range of subjects and each has given me insight into the world.  Had I followed the traditional path of college, job, kids, working mom, my opinions on life and Common Core would be different.

When your older brother was born, I had just finished my Master's degree from Ohio State and was disillusioned with higher education.  Getting my PhD. and being a professor had been my dream.  I was not suited to the politics of academia and felt there was a disconnect between the ivory towers and the real world.  I wanted to do something that would benefit people in a tangible way and not just add to our knowledge base.  Focusing on my family for a few years seemed natural.

When you came along, you needed me even more than I ever imagined.  I used all of my skills as a researcher, educator, advocate, and parent to help you overcome your disability.  I became a substitute teacher so I could learn more about our school district, keep an eye on my boys, and help me understand our education system.

My perspective of our educational system is from the standpoint of:

  1. a parent, 
  2. a parent of a child with a disability,
  3. a parent disagreeing with the school,
  4. a parent happy with the school,
  5. a long time and long term substitute teacher,
  6. a outsider but yet an insider,
  7. the child of two special education teachers and supervisors,
  8. a science researcher,
  9. an anthropologist
  10. and, finally, a new hire recruiter.
  Now, let me shock you.  I was originally in favor of Common Core.  I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea.  Let's get down to the basics of what our students need to learn and put those in writing.  Let's have these be standard throughout the country so students switching schools and switching states will not miss out on valuable information and learning.  It makes sense and I still like the idea.

I want to see a book listing all the skills that a child needs as he or she progresses through the grades.  I want parents to be able to check off these skills as they are mastered and a child to see his progress charted over time.  I want to see a listing of the very basic skills a high school graduate needs to function as a contributing member of our society, a list of what various skilled trades need, and a list of what college bound students need.

All students and their parents should be able to understand the requirements and track the progress.  If the standards are vague, they need to be refined.  It is not enough to simply say, "the student will understand significance of agriculture in societies."  The rise of agriculture can be discussed in a paragraph but not fully understood after a lifetime of study.  Each answer gives rise to more questions.  The standards need to give examples as to the depth of understanding that is expected of each topic at each level of learning.

That was my vision of Common Core as a simplification and unification document but that is not the reality.  I am an idealist but should know by now that reality is much different.  The problems with Common Core are illustrated in the blog I shared with you last week about kindergartners. (see below)   I have spent time in kindergartner classes.  Reading and writing should not be the focus.  Socialization, listening skills, speaking skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and interactive learning should be stressed and can be without placing undue stress on young learners.

Once upon a time, you were a kindergartner.  In no way, shape, or form were you ready to read or write.  Reading, writing, and mathematics were the least of my concerns for you at that time.  Oh, we worked on it every afternoon.  We sat at the kitchen table reviewing your learning ring of letters, numbers and sight words.  We worked through handwriting worksheets.  I was thrilled with every small victory but was more concerned with teaching you to sit and to work than the outcome.

My main concerns for you included:

  1. Being able to function appropriately in a classroom setting, 
  2. Being able to sit still, 
  3. Being able to ask questions, 
  4. Answer questions,
  5. Fine motor skills,
  6. Gross motor skills,
  7. Finding your way in the school building,
  8. Dealing with all the other students,
  9. Not being harassed, bullied or hit
  10. Being able to tell me at the end of the day what you did.
  11. Coming home safely.
When you started kindergarten, you were functionally nonverbal.  If I asked the right question, I might get a response.  You didn't converse with anyone or volunteer information or opinions.  Reading and writing can in as a poor second to being able to have you tell me about your day and to making sure you were behaving properly.  With Common Core, you would have probably been forced to repeat kindergarten.  As it was, the school recommended it even though you had achieved the minimum recommended skills.  Psychologically, repeating kindergarten might have done serious damage to you self esteem.  It wasn't until years later that I realized how hard you were pushing yourself to be everything the teachers wanted you to be.  Failure to progress to the next grade could have meant you stopped trying as hard.  

You did eventually learn to read.  Mathematics came a little slower but it did come.  By middle school, you were all "caught up" and now as a 16 year old high school junior you have two college classes under your belt and got A's in both.  According to Common Core logic, this should not have happened because I wasn't pushing reading and writing.  I was pushing everything you needed to learn to become a productive part of society.  Social skills.  Reading and writing came because you realized you needed to learn them to be part of the class and part of the world.

Tomorrow: The Greater Context of School Testing- The Bell Curve, Sputnik, and Princeton's ETS.


Report: Requiring Kindergartners to Read — as Common Core Does — May Harm Some

From The Washington Post's Education Blog
"The Answer Sheet"

By Valerie Strauss
January 13, 2015

The Common Core State Standards call for kindergartners to learn how to read, but a new report by early childhood experts says that forcing some kids to read before they are ready could be harmful.