- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 48 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Books on Tape
- Audible.com Release Date: March 10, 2005
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0007ZK3B4
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith Audiobook – Unabridged
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Martha's book is the most honest and even-handed account of the church and its doctrinal dilemmas I have ever come across. Most accounts are either for or against the church and seek only to destroy other viewpoints. I didn't get that feeling from Martha's account at all. It's clear that most of those condemning this book haven't read it. Ignore them and read it yourself.
I grew up reading every LDS Church book I could get my hands on. I pored over them, practically memorized some of them, and read the Book of Mormon and other scriptures daily and prayed with all my heart. I was the kid who always loved to go to church; no one had to drag me there. After a great deal of soul-searching over many years, I left the LDS church about 20 years ago, at the age of 27. I didn't experience the kind of sexual abuse Martha went through, and my heart goes out to all who have suffered so, but I could relate 100% to her descriptions of the Church, the doctrines, the good people who try so hard to be perfect, the yearning for God, the incredible mental efforts to try to make sense out of the nonsense, the secrecy and obsession with control of the leadership. I'll never forget how disappointed I felt when I first put on the temple garments and went through the endowment ceremony at the Oakland Temple.
I first became aware of certain issues about unsavory behavior by some of the leadership while on my mission, and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. I know we are all human and have weaknesses, but the problem is when religious institutions try to set up some people as infallible and not to be questioned (the Pope, the mullahs and ayatollahs, and the General Authorities all come to mind). I tried to make it all make sense, and I tried to forget that polygamy was the fate that awaits good Mormon women. I tried to forget the many little insults and debasements of Mormon women. Ultimately I could not ignore the evidence of my senses, my reasoning and my conscience. The greatest lessons that I learned from my years in the Church are ultimately what led me away: to listen to the still, small voice inside, to do what I knew was right no matter what others around me might say, and to open my heart and mind to unsuspected sources of joy and understanding. I can't say I've found as much certainty as Martha seems to have found, but I am certain that one of the smartest things I ever did was to leave the Church; I only wish I'd done it sooner. Much, much sooner. Martha's book has helped me to free myself from the last vestiges of regret. I miss the sense of community, yes, but I know that the Church is not the only place that can be found.
I've read some of the hate mail Martha has received on her site, [...] and it doesn't reflect well on those people's personal religion. That is, spewing that kind of hate and intolerance is hardly a sign you are close to the divine. I know that most Mormons are very good, sincere people who try very hard to do what is right. I grew up among them, I was one of them, and many family members and extended family members are still very devout and no doubt think I'm beyond the pale because I left. I say, if it works for them, more power to them, but I could not continue in such a patriarchal, controlling, domineering environment where the truth must be whitewashed and carefully controlled. Thanks, Martha, for writing so eloquently and compassionately about your journey.
Before you read my comments, you should understand that Martha and I are divorced and have not lived as husband and wife for over ten years. Martha may argue that I am writing this review out of spite. I am not. Without my consent, I am made to feel like an accomplice in her accusations and her anger; I'm not comfortable with how that makes me look to my friends and family. By dint of her profession, she has a national audience ready to believe in her story. Others who are described (often unflatteringly) in this book have little or no access to the court of public opinion.
Of the scores of descriptions in this book that differ from my personal memories, two topics bothered me the most when, on Mother's Day 2005, I wrote a review of the hardcover version of this book: the way my parents were portrayed and the "Mormon Response" to my leaving the church.
One of the most hurtful discrepancies in the book is the way she describes my parents. She reports that my mother and father came to our house the day after my appearance on television (not true, it was a couple of days later) and in the midst of much small talk Martha inferred that my parents were telling me that they still loved me. Here's how it really went. My mother walked in the door gave me a hug before she even had her coat off and with tears in her eyes said "I don't agree with your decision, but you are my son and I want you to know that I will always love you." It was one of the most touching and important moments in my life. I will always love and respect my mother for her forthrightness and willingness to so openly forgive me even though I had done something so hurtful to her.
My experience of the Mormon response to my leaving the church is also rather different from the one I read in this book. While I left the church even before Martha (and arguably more publicly), I personally never received one threatening phone call or note. I never even saw any of Martha's. While I remember Martha talking about one crank phone call, she received; I do not remember that the caller threatened to "dis-member" us. Nor did Martha show or talk to me about the copy of a "blood red" Antichrist note she writes about receiving. I never took any precautions against such "threats" because I never heard about them. Perhaps she did receive them, but said nothing to me about them.
When I did leave the church, I did it for principally spiritual reasons. I was never ostracized by my friends or colleagues. Two of my close friends at that time were sons of top Mormon officials-they remain colleagues to this day. I had many discussions with Mormon co-workers, family members, and even old high school friends in the days and months that followed the public disclosure that I had "left the church." People wanted to understand, but none of them shunned me. Neighbors were sometimes socially uncomfortable and didn't know how to react to me when I wasn't going to church on Sundays; some of them expressed their differences of opinion with my decision. But I still have many, many Mormon friends.