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My Mormon Life; A Boy's Struggle With Polygamy, Magic Underwear,and Racism

My Mormon Life; A Boy's Struggle With Polygamy, Magic Underwear,and Racism

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My Mormon Life; A Boy's Struggle With Polygamy, Magic Underwear,and Racism

4/5 (5 évaluations)
197 pages
3 heures
Oct 21, 2011


In a deep torch lit cavern, beneath the Mormon temple, hundreds of barefoot, white clad youths wait in line to be plunged beneath the water in a bronze tank that rests on the backs of twelve gigantic bronze oxen. Each time they are lowered backwards into the water, a member of the Mormon priesthood evokes the name of a person who is dead.

My Mormon Life is the story of a boy, raised in the Mormon faith, who examines the beliefs of the church and comes to realize that what he is being taught by the church is not consistent with what seems to be the real world. In this process he takes the reader on the grand tour of Mormon beliefs, from baptism of the dead, to polygamy and Mormon underwear, survival food, and the separate policy toward Blacks. One by one the unique beliefs of Mormons are explored by the boy’s active mind, often leading to humorous conclusions. By following these explorations the reader will find the answers they are seeking about the Mormon Church and by the end of this story understand what it means to be a Mormon.

Ultimately the Mormon faith does not hold up to the scrutiny of this young boy’s mind and this leads to powerful questions about the whole process of forcing fanatical religious beliefs on the mind of a child.

The Mormons have been the focus of curiosity from the very beginning, and for some good reasons. They claim to have a living prophet who speaks directly with God, they teach that only Mormons can go to the Mormon heaven. They have practiced polygamy in the past, but now condemn it in this life—still believing there will be multiple wives in Mormon heaven. They believe that the very best of the Mormons will become gods.

My Mormon Life is a journey through this unique world. It answers the question: What is Mormonism?

Oct 21, 2011

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Meilleures citations

  • Counterfeit artifacts were also a big business in those days. In fact, someone had claimed to have found some ancient book of copper plates not long before Joseph Smith found his set.

  • Mormons knew that evolution was wrong. The earth was only six thousand years old, and God created man and placed him here on the earth.

  • It seemed like the Bible was saying that people were not basically very good.

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My Mormon Life; A Boy's Struggle With Polygamy, Magic Underwear,and Racism - James Sanbourne

My Mormon Life

A Boy’s Struggle with Polygamy, Magic Underwear, and Racism

James Sanbourne

Published by James Sanbourne at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 James Sanbourne

License Notes: This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents


Baptism for the Dead

Chapter One- In the Beginning

Joseph Smith, Angels with Golden Plates, and Superman

Chapter Two- Genesis

Mormon Underwear, Polygamy, Naked Angels, and A Direct Line to God

Chapter Three- The Mark of Cain

The Mormon Priesthood: Black People Need Not Apply

Chapter Four- The New Bible

Wrestling Angels, Zombies, the End of Days, and Survival Food

Chapter Five- From the Pockets of Babes

Tithing of Children and Native Americans with Steel Swords

Chapter Six- The Day of No Rest

Child Priests, Lay Sermons, and Sin

Chapter Seven- Exodus

Tales of Escape, Capture, and the Law

Chapter Eight- When I Was a Child, I Spoke as a Child…

Psychiatrists, Coca Cola Bombs, and Tree Houses

Chapter Nine- The First Stone

Of Jail, Bishops and Bigotry

Chapter Ten- The Lion’s Den

Juvenile Hall for the Sin of Non-prejudice

Chapter 11- Revelations

The Real Story and the End of Times


I was twelve years old, descending, in an endless line of barefoot youths, all dressed in white, through a tunnel of cut stone beneath the Mormon temple. The tunnel opened into a cavernous underground chamber, lit with flickering torch lights mounted on the high arching walls. As I stepped through the archway my eyes fixed on the twelve massive bronze bulls standing below on the stone floor. Arrayed in an outward facing circle, they were the size of giant mammoths, glimmering in the torchlight, and supported on their backs was a large bronze cauldron, half full of steamy water.

In the tank there were three men, dressed in the same sheer white shirt and pants as the children standing in a long line on a ledge that hung midway up the cavern wall. In the midst of the men was a girl with long straight blond hair. One man spoke in murmured tones, another guided her hand up to hold her nostrils as a third man dipped her backwards and plunged her under the water.

She rose with the water rushing from her shirt that sucked up against her pink flesh and small round breasts. She seemed dazed.

One man led her to the side of the tank while another girl entered the circle. They repeated the same motions, and though we could not hear distinctly, we knew that each time a child was lowered into the water, the man reciting the ritual was evoking the name of a person who was dead.

Each child circulated three times through the water ritual. Each time they received a name and for a moment took on the essence of a spirit from the other world of the dead, mysteriously drawn from the bowels of the earth that surrounded this tomb.

I felt my heart pound against my chest. Would the dead person take over my body? I think I had asked and they had said no, but they didn’t seem so sure. The adults always looked at each other when asked questions like that. They tried to look at the senior man in the room to see what he said. No, the dead person’s spirit doesn’t take over your body. But they might be present, watching, and they are thankful that you have given them the gift of salvation.

The group of girls finished their rounds and puddled off down a ramp and out of the chamber. A group of twelve boys advanced to the platform at the edge of the water. The first boy walked down the steps into the pool of water. The men, their white clothes pasted against their flesh, surrounded the boy. The murmur, the plunge, and then the next boy, in a rhythm of motion and convocation.

My head was filled with electricity, and my mind was spinning to catch up. Could I feel the spirits in the room? Was the Holy Ghost present and witnessing? Who were the dead people called forth by these names? Would mine be dead from ancient times, a prince perhaps who had paced the halls of Babylon, a cobbler from the early colonial days, or some child recently hit by a car crossing the street on his bicycle? Where were they now? Waiting in some holding zone for the end of days, I think that is what they had said, waiting for the second coming of Jesus and the thousand years of the great judgment. We were beneath the earth, how deep I wasn’t sure, but somehow there was a reason. This was the underworld, mysteriously connected to the dead buried in the ground.

We slowly advanced along the ledge toward the shimmering bronze tank. Then I was in the water, receiving my dead person’s name, and plunged by a strong arm under the water. Three of us boys were in the tank at the same time to keep up the pace - there were thousands of dead souls awaiting our sacrifice - we had to keep circulating to the edge of the group, then back under the warm water, then up the steps to the platform. We stood in a line, dripping onto the stone, as our group of twelve boys completed our duty, and then off down the ledge and out of the chamber, back through another tunnel, up, up to the dressing room.

I had never seen such a large group of boys and girls so silent. No one even whispered, shuffling along, drying and dressing from the baskets that matched our number medallions.

Our group was shuttled back to the vans parked outside in the dark. We sat in back and still no one talked, each of us immersed in our own thoughts. The lights of the highway flashed across the stern pale faces. I tried to think what I knew about this ritual and what it meant to me. I remembered asking questions when I was ten years old. They told us that only baptized Mormons could make it to the Celestial Kingdom, the highest of the three levels of heaven. I had thought about this and I wondered: the Mormon Church had been established the century before; did this mean that no one who was born before that could get into the Celestial Kingdom? They smiled warmly. This was one of the clever things about God’s plan. Mormons were going to baptize all the souls who had ever been on earth before the Mormon Church was founded. They were collecting the names of everyone who had ever lived and baptizing them in the bodies of the children in the chambers beneath the temples all over the world. That is why we did genealogy, and why the Mormons had the best archives in the world for genealogy. They swelled with pride when they told us this, the most complete records of family history in the world. People came from all over the world to look up names in the records of the church, information which we shared freely with anyone who wanted to search. Some came to research the history of famous people or to look up their own family blood lines. The church let them do this for free. But the real reason for all these records was to get the names of every person who had ever lived. That way, when the judgment day comes, everyone who has been a good person will be able to get into the Celestial Kingdom.

We arrived back at our ward, that is what we called our local church, and our parents were waiting for us. It was late and the children were tired, but the warm glow engulfed us all, and the spirit was thick in the air as the parents embraced their young initiates with proud arms and bundled them off into cars. My father was clearly pleased that I had done my duty. We drove home, and I tried, as always, to ask some intelligent question. Why was the chamber so deep in the ground? Were the spirits underground? The underworld was a mysterious place, he explained. There was a lingering hold on the spirits, and the temple being underground gave them a proximity to their baptism.

That night I didn’t sleep until early morning. I lay in bed and thought about what I had seen and experienced that night. I went through everything I knew about what I had done. They told us it was very important. We were saving souls from an eternity without the grace of God. We believed there were three levels in the afterlife. There was also a hell, but only a few people would go there. My mother said that they would be counted on the fingers of one hand and cast down into hell to live with the devil. Everyone else, even bad people, even murderers, would go to one of three paradises. Even the lowest level of paradise was going to be really nice. There would no longer be free will, everyone would have to behave, and it would be a beautiful place. And that was for bad people. The good people who were not baptized Mormon would go to the second kingdom. That is what we called the three paradises: kingdoms. The Terrestrial Kingdom, the Telestial Kingdom and the Celestial Kingdom.

The middle kingdom would be for all of the people who were honest and obeyed the Ten Commandments but who were not baptized Mormon. The Celestial Kingdom, our heaven, was only for Mormons. God was going to be there most of the time, hanging out with the Mormons. God might go down to the other kingdoms sometimes to visit the Methodists and Catholics and everyone else, but those people wouldn’t get to hang out with God like the Mormons.

And the Mormons in the Celestial Kingdom, they were going to have the opportunity to become gods themselves. The men, that is. The women were going to be godlike, but they were not going to be able to make decisions and create worlds like the men. But the women would give birth to spirits, or pre-spirits, the kind of spirits that we were before we were born and given the spirits that we have now. All of this made sense.

Except the part about the people who were dead before Joseph Smith was given the true faith. If everyone was going to be baptized as a dead person, then it seemed like they were all going to get to the Celestial Kingdom - if they were good, that is. So why would they need the middle kingdom at all? I asked my father. Some people, he said, would reject the Mormon faith when they were at the great judgment and wouldn’t be able to become gods or go to the Celestial kingdom.

Why would anyone not want to go to the number one best place, I asked?

He was not real clear about this, but that is what Joseph Smith had said, so it was the truth. People are strange creatures, and sometimes they do things that are not easily comprehensible, like not accepting their Mormon baptism after they’re dead and going to the middle kingdom, when all they would have to do to go to the Celestial kingdom was say they accept the Mormon faith.

I couldn’t make it work out that night as I lay there in bed thinking. Something about all of this didn’t seem to fit with what I knew about things. Some people were just plain so ornery that they would stand there in front of Jesus at the judgment and say they did not accept Mormonism? They were going to decide to live for eternity in the Telestial kingdom, and didn’t care about hanging out with God or becoming a god? I tried to think if I knew anyone like that. Because if there were no such people, then there would be no reason to baptize everyone for the dead. Jesus could just let all the good people into the Celestial Kingdom. And that cast a long shadow over what I had done that night. I felt uneasy and I didn’t like this feeling because if baptism for the dead was not really part of God’s plan that meant… I couldn’t even think what it meant…something unspeakable, and that made me feel all shaken and loose inside.

~ ~ ~

Chapter One

In The Beginning

I never became a Mormon. I was born a Mormon. Mormons will tell you this is impossible. God told Joseph Smith it was wrong to baptize a baby - a baby can’t decide if it wants to be baptized. In order to get into heaven a person has to actively choose to become a Mormon. God said eight was old enough.

Still, I can’t remember a time when I was not a Mormon. We went to church all the time. There was Sunday school on Sunday morning and there was the main service in the evening. Church seemed to last all day. Later there was youth evening on Tuesday night. Then there was Monday family night, when we were supposed to read the Bible and the book of Mormon together as a family and to play some fun games, like guessing the names of saints or tossing rings of virtue over a pole of faith. And there were treats like cookies or ice cream.

The older boys, after the age of twelve, went to priesthood meeting before Sunday school and we had our own Mormon scout troops.

When we went to dinner, it was with Mormons. On outings, like father and son camp, everyone was a Mormon. It never occurred to me that I was not a Mormon because I wasn’t old enough to make a proper decision to be baptized.

When I was four we moved to Provo, Utah, where the Mormon university is located. My father got a job teaching there. My father, my older brother, and I drove there in our ‘53 Chevy. We left Los Angeles and drove across the desert, slept at a hotel, and ate at a diner. I played with my plastic army men on the back seat, looked out the window at the sage brush and sand, and late on the second day we were there at our new house in Utah. My mother came on the bus with the other three children a few days later.

Provo is a Mormon town. Everyone is a Mormon, so I didn’t know anyone who was not a Mormon until we moved back to California four years later. It seemed like the whole world was Mormon.

There were lots of children in our neighborhood. Every family had four or five, and we filled up the streets, running around in huge kid packs like swarms of bees. One neighbor had eight kids and another eleven. God wanted the Mormons to have lots of kids because there were a lot of souls that needed bodies, waiting up in the pre-world, anxiously awaiting a body so that they could come here to earth, be tested to see if they were good, and find out which kingdom they would go to for eternity.

My mother tried to have eight children. But three died. After the last one died, the doctors told her she could not have any more children. She went away for a while after that. My father said she was in an institution because she was very sad about losing her last baby. She came home a few months later with a little boy my age – actually, I was five and he was six. My mother said she had met him in the institution and she wanted him to join our family. He was to be my new brother. His name was Eddie.

Life changed after my mother came back from the institution. She was always angry or sad. She spent a lot of time in the bedroom, in the dark, with the curtains drawn. She said she had migraine headaches. And when she came out of the room she was often in a rage, swinging her fists at us or pulling our hair. She couldn’t do all the chores any more, and we kids had to step up and take care of the house. I remember standing long hours on a stool at the kitchen sink washing piles of dishes that seemed to never end, sweeping the floors and raking the leaves. Often I didn’t do a good enough job and needed to be whipped with a belt or a switch from the willow tree out back.

Eddie turned out to not be a very good boy. He couldn’t clean very well, and he had problems doing what he was told. My mother tried to whip him into shape but it didn’t seem to work. And then there was my older brother Scott. He didn’t like Eddie and would catch him in a corner and slug him in the stomach. So after a few months Eddie had to go back to the institution. I was sad to see him leave because he was almost the same age as me and we had become

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