Monday, April 2, 2012


Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
by Martha Beck
Kindle version

I have long been a fan of Martha Beck's writing, she has a great way of reaching her reader, and her wicked sense of humour is what I most adore about her.  I am currently reading her latest book "Finding Your Way in a Wild New World" and it is just as great as the other ones I have read some of, Finding your North Star and Steering by Starlight.  She is a trained sociologist and a Harvard graduate, so combining her scholarly training with her humanness and humour, makes for a very delightful read.

I stumbled across this book somehow online, and since I have always had a fascination with the Mormon religion and the mysteries surrounding it, I knew I would like it.  And I did.

Here many of the bizarre dogma of the religion are blatantly published, and not from lack of fear of reprisal.  Any ex-mormon who outs their secrets, like the one where they believe that God lives in a planet called Kolob (however, if you try to research this online you will come up with a he-said/she-said scenario - which is very frustrating).  And that Joseph Smith translated ancient egyptian hieroglyphics  into what is now known as the Book of Abraham.  (this was later disputed when the Rosetti Stone was discovered, and after decades of studying it, the code for deciphering hieroglyphs was revealed). It turns out that what Joseph Smith claimed to translate into the mormon text, is a version of the book of the dead. Again, this is a fact, but I am pretty sure that any devout mormons reading this might have a thing or two to say about this unfolding of events.

I could go on and on, but will not, because this is what I found most fascinating about this book and I don't want to give too much away.

Martha's father, as it turns out, was a high ranking apologist in the church and much revered by its members.  In her book, her claims of abuse at his hands was widely poo-pooed and she was made out by her family and other church members to be a raving lunatic.  Well, who wouldn't be?  Raised in that house!

The only criticism I have of this particular book of hers is that she had a tendency to use a lot of REALLY HARD WORDS.  I know this may sound kind of childish, but what I mean is I thank God I had a dictionary in my kindle, or I would have probably given up on it already.  The thing is she must have mentioned about 87 times that she went to Harvard, and she used these unbelievably difficult words that even in the context of the sentence I still had no idea what the hell they meant.  And what was most annoying was that she COULD have used a more common word easily in its place, and save me the clicking.  Let me give you some examples:

  • filial - Of, relating to, or befitting a son or daughter (she used this one a lot)
  • ignominious - deserving or causing public disgrace
  • noblesse oblige - nobility obliges
  • ostensibly- apparently or purportedly but perhaps not actually.
  • vociferous - vehement (okay, seriously, WHY could she just not say VEHEMENT - she says vehemently)
  • amorphous - having no definite form
  • obstreperous - noisy; difficult to control.  
  • amanuenses - a literary or artistic assistant
  • stentorian - basically means someone in ther 70's.
  • lugubrious - looking or sounding sad or dismal
  • commodious - roomy and comfortable (I guess "roomy" was just to NOT HARVARD enough)
  • perspicacity- keenness of mental perception (okay, this word just look impossible to pronounce, AM I RIGHT??!!)
  • vertiginous - causing vertigo
Wow, seeing them all listed like that makes me realize that that IS a lot of big words, and maybe I'm not really just an idiot.  

And not to mention Greek Mythology references up the ying-yang, like "Damocles' Sword of Mormon".

So, all in all, a very interesting account of a daughter of a famous mormon leaving the church, and a bit of the history of mormonism to boot. 

RATING:  3/5

For more about Martha Beck, her books and her coaching visit Martha

2 Blabs:

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Sounds interesting, but I would just caution you to take what this author says with a grain of salt, as she is hardly an unbiased source. And the Mormon religion is not "mysterious" - ask any missionary and he/she will be happy to tell you whatever you would like to know! It's also all mostly on the website or

Lisa said...

Hi Julie,
Well, since this is a MEMOIR I would not expect it to be an unbiased source! And to an outsider I can guarantee that this religion is mysterious for the following reasons, and most are quite benign, so take no offense:
Why are mormons not allowed caffeine? I know their scriptures say not to, but why?
Why are they to wear the underwear?( which is not widely known, btw. )
Why do Mormons baptize people into the religion AFTER they die, when the person has no say in the matter? Even Mother Theresa and Pope John could be baptized without their consent! This practice, to me, is disgusting. And it was a mormon who told me about it, and I was STUNNED at the lack of respect for the dead and their loved ones.
Why do the mormons outwardly say polygamy is not their doctrine, yet so many mormons still practice it?
Why do they believe their founder and prophet legit, when the "translations" from the golden tablets is in fact not true?

Now, many questions could also be raised about other organized religion, like my own that I was raised in but am not a devout practicer, Catholicism.

But... and here's the rub... there are no support groups or organizations that support people who are "recovering" from Catholicism, or Anglicanism, or even evangelical religions. But there is a plethora of support groups etc that are out there for ex-mormons who need help once they leave the religion. It wreaks of Scientology, where the members are ruled with a velvet hammer, and if you dare leave or, God for bid, TALK about what happened to you inside those hallowed halls, you are labeled as a liar, or like you have so mildly put it, be taken with A GRAIN OF SALT.

You say it is MOSTLY available on the website, which I have looked at numerous times over the years out of curiosity, and it is your word MOSTLY that says it all.


As in NOT ALL?

As in "happy to tell you MOSTLY whatever you would like to know?"

Julie, you have just demonstrated exactly what Martha's book essentially tells us, that the mormon religion can be effective in creating such avid followers that even THEY are blind to what control they are under.

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