Positive things that I took from the LDS Church.
On my blog Behind The Zion Curtain www.behindzioncurtain.com
I have tried to stay balanced throughout the years,
and not put too much into the negative, and certainly not whitewash my words with constant positivity.
I started behindzioncurtain.com to explore and explain many things about the LDS church, and also the culture around the LDS Church.
Since I came from a family that have been involved in the LDS church dating back to the 1850s, and since my parents were LDS (temple married eventually), I don’t feel like an outsider as much as some. But since I never took any “callings”, nor did I go on my mission, nor did I go through the priesthood jazz. I was however baptized at age 8 like many of my peers, and I was indoctrinated as much as my parents and grandparents could.
My main strife with starting BehindZionCurtain.com, (and this goes back to my website from the beginning which you can view at www.archive.org), was the insanely high suicide rates in Utah. The Utah I grew up in was far more populated with LDS people than now. Especially growing up in Utah county, where more than 90% of residents claimed to be LDS according to census and polls. Utah county (central) is still that way in most areas, but the other areas in Utah are waning a lot in LDS membership.
But out of the 15 people that I have buried to suicide in Utah (many of them directly out of highschool), one of them was my youngest brother and my best friend Justin.
Those people who met this tragic end who were close to me, complained about the pressures put on them by family, and the LDS church.
I felt this way as a kid, and narrowly missed death in a suicide attempt myself.
However, to illustrate why this website started, and what the name is all about Behind the Zion Curtain. That was the reason.
I started BZC before my youngest brother committed suicide. But I had buried about 10 friends by 1999 already. Then in 2002 my brother would also kill himself.
So beyond the negatives, and it was mostly negatives that I was originally trying to make people aware of with this website. There are some positive beneifts in the lessons that I learned as a Mormon boy, and a post-Mormon adult.
The first thing I think about is resilience and steadfastness. I have always been determined to make my own way in the world, without a lot of external help.
I see this tenacity in the LDS history, especially the early LDS history and in the forming of the state of Utah.
People stood up for what they believed in, they risked and then many of them sacrificed everything to stand up for their beliefs. These early LDS people were amazing to me.
The LDS culture that exists now is not that truth seeking, self determined, tenacious culture like it use to be, but then again the rest of the world is not that way, as this world once was.
But even now, I see LDS members practice what is called “Lying for the Lord” because they know the truth of the LDS church, but when asked will either lie, change the subject, or pretend to not know.
Many LDS members have outright confessed to friends and relatives to not believing in Joseph Smith, or the Book of Mormon, yet will remain in the LDS church, and even continue to pay tithe, and in some cases hold “callings” to appease friends and family.
That in it’s own strange way is sort of admirable. I mean I get the ideal here. “Family first” and all of that stuff that they teach.
The whole “families are forever” and “families first” thing was sort of foreign to me when I was a kid, because I had 5 half siblings that were banned from being a part of our life much. I mean I did see them on the random occasions that they stopped by, but I was never allowed to know them growing up.
Even as an adult, my communication with my half siblings cost me dearly with other members of my family when they made contact with me after 32 years of not knowing them. But I see how close some LDS family’s are, maybe even many or most, and I find it charming and admirable.
As of recently I was in a horrible car accident that took me out of my career. So our family has not had the feast that we have had most of our marriage. I went from making 6 figures to being unemployed for a couple of years, while I heal.
But one thing that I reflect on, which is a huge blessing and one that I owe in part to the LDS church, is getting food storage, and tucking provisions away for a rainy day.
So after not being employed, and having a near zero income, I still managed to pay my house and cars off, and tuck some food and supplies away so that we can fend for ourselves while I recover.
We currently qualify for over $2000 worth of public assistance with now having 4 children. But we haven’t taken a dime, and I have qualified for this since May 2013.
To me that is a very proud thing for me. Where I grew up on public assistance most of my life. I think that growing up that way, and also learning from the community around me, enabled me to resist the draw of government assistance dependence.
This makes me strive harder to recover and to improve myself. If I was just getting a handout, its likely my sense of urgency would be much less. So it is a motivating factor and a sense of pride to have this situation taken care of.
We have gotten close to going to the food bank, or asking a local church for help a few times, but even to this day we have not. Though I am not against going to a community organization for help, but I refuse to participate in the government free-for-all benefits that ruin communities.
Also, as a Mormon one must always be able to communicate well to others about religious and even political topics. Many LDS young adults go on missions, and they spread their faith all over the world. I have always respected LDS missionaries for this, where they sacrifice two years of their young adult lives, to travel the world and preach/defend their beliefs.
The sacrifice and tenacity that must take has my respect regardless of what I know in regards to the truth of their message.
While this isn’t a sparkly (kiss the LDS church’s ass) blog post, I did want to reflect on all of those positive things that I have taken from my youth and my search for truth later in life in regards to the LDS church.
Sometimes you have to live through the darkness in order to appreciate the light. The LDS church has a lot of terrible things in its past, as much organizations do.
But it’s all a matter of how you receive it and process it. I try to take the good from all of life’s lessons.
P.S. While my family sees my biography as an attack on them. I have been careful to put the blame of my mistakes on me, and to leave their tribulations out of my story.
Beyond the fact, that I didn’t include their names in biography. But I definitely went the extra mile to include my mother and father in the writing of my biography, before I ever posted it, I allowed dozens of their edits.
Quite honestly I never finished it. I wrote a rough draft, and never had time for it after that. Shortly after I wrote this, I got married, and now 13 years and 4 children later, I have only recently resurrected this website after being offline for years, and I have only recently had anytime to revisit this.
I have accepted that my family and I will probably never be friendly, or communicate any more. I realized that back in 1999 when I wrote my biography, specifically as I spoke about in in Chapter 4. But I did give it a try, and I got my family together with my father before he died. I don’t regret that, even if it turned out in the worst possible way with my mum and siblings. It was still good to be close to my dad when he died. I don’t intend to spend a lot of time on this website. But I had another family feud issue come up, where a gay cousin of mine had her time kicking this old history around, and she complained that “[I] lie about my time at age 14 and 15 being a “skinhead”, so I resurrected this website for her, so that she could see via archive.org that my biography clearly makes references to this time in my life, and I have even made a few videos about it along the way. Even though it was such a brief time of my life, over 23 years ago, when I was a young teen. I have in fact made some media about this, and I wrote about in my biography that has been saw by 3 million+ people since 1999. I just didn’t want her to think I was pulling the whole “lying for the Lord thing”. Yes I am a disciple of Christ. No I do not and have not ever held any position or “calling” in ANY religion, at ANY time in my life, not even when I was a Mormon. My “shady history” was a life lesson. I changed my life, got educated, worked for many Fortune 500 companies, married the woman of my dreams, and AFTERWARDS had children. My past, while crass, was a teenage era, in 1992, when racial politics were at peak highs with the Randy Weaver case and the Rodney King case. Yes I did identify as a “skinhead”, and yes I had two friends (my cousin’s boyfriend and his best friend) who were “skinheads”. But after I was 17 years old, I took a different path, and straightened out my life. But I have never, nor would I ever deny it. I just moved passed it. For some reason however, it is a very important time in their life, possibly living vicariously through me in some way. But they want me to live in that past, more than I want to live there. So I suppose this is why it is better to have went opposite directions from each other.
Reference to my biography; https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://mystory.behindzioncurtain.com
My post script was kind of long, only because I know that I am once again done with this website, and I probably won’t revisit it for a long time.
I have over 40 domains right now that I am building websites for, and writing content for. That I was able to find time for this website was kind of a fluke.
But my wife and kids need me, which means I must work, and I must provide, and I have no more time for these family shenanigans .
A few website’s to check for in the future are; www.HouseofThompson.net (this is an old site that has been offline for awhile, and Im bringing it back for my family history)
Oh, speaking of positive experiences that I have had with the LDS Church, Family History is very entertaining and interesting to me, and that is something that I got from being a Mormon growing up.
And a few others are; www.clovisstar.com