Let’s Talk About Sorcery

Borrowing the title from my good friends at BCC, let’s talk about sorcery, another interesting topic that is discussed in the April 2017 Ensign article “The War Goes On.” The central claim of the article is that gay marriage is Satan’s counterfeit version of “marriage between a man and a woman” that is “ordained of God,” because gay marriage “brings neither posterity nor exaltation.” But the article also addresses counterfeit faith, counterfeit love, counterfeit priesthood, and counterfeit miracles:

One of Satan’s counterfeits for faith is superstition. His counterfeit for love is lust. He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft, and he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery.

Perhaps in referring to sorcery the author was thinking of the encounter between Moses and the magicians at Pharaoh’s court, where the magicians duplicated Aaron’s feat of turning a staff into a serpent. So Aaron was performing a miracle because he was using the priesthood but the other guys were doing sorcery because they were practicing priestcraft. But this isn’t an article on the Old Testment, it’s about the world of 2017. A world that is apparently full of sorcery (as it is full of gay marriage, superstition, and lust, other topics addressed in the same set of paragraphs). So what the article is talking about is modern sorcery. What is it and why it is suddenly a topic of discussion by LDS leaders?

Let’s first look at the Book of Mormon references to sorcery. Here is Mormon 1:19: “And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land ….” More interesting is Alma 1:19, relating to the early days of the Nephite Church and describing those who did not belong to it:

For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness ….

This sounds like an exercise projecting every negative trait or behavior onto those other people in that other church, as if no one in our Nephite Church ever does anything like envyings or strife or lying or thieving. In particular, people in our church do miracles; other people in other churches do “sorceries.”

In the modern world, the miracles we pray for or for which we invoke the power of the priesthood are generally healing from serious illness or accident. So in light of this scriptural example in Alma 1:19, is the April 2017 Ensign suggesting that an LDS priesthood healing is a bona fide miracle, whereas a healing resulting from prayer or priestly administration in any other church is sorcery, a counterfeit miracle? I’m not sure where else you would draw the line between miracle and sorcery if the relevant distinction, as stated in the article, is between “priesthood” (meaning LDS priesthood) and “priestcraft” or counterfeit priesthood (meaning anyone else’s priesthood or ministry). What an ugly thing to say. That seems totally contrary to the sincere and positive interfaith outreach and dialogue that other LDS leaders and scholars have energetically pursued in recent years.

There are a few other recent LDS statements on sorcery. President Faust, January 2007: “The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, witchcraft, voodooism, casting spells, black magic, and all other forms of demonism should always be avoided.” Then there is Elder McConkie’s rather reasonable view of witchcraft, as expressed in Mormon Doctrine:

It should be noted that the trying, convicting, and executing of so-called witches during the middle ages and in early American history was a wholly apostate and unwarranted practice. It is probable that none, or almost none, of those unhappily dealt with as supposed witches were persons in actual communion with evil spirits.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, there’s a big difference between none and almost none. Nevertheless, calling it “mischief” and suggesting that almost all cases of alleged witchcraft or sorcery were false accusations of one sort or another works to minimize the presence and impact of sorcery and witchcraft in the lives of present-day Mormons. In contrast, the April 2017 Ensign reference appears to highlight the role of sorcery and suggest it is widespread.

I suspect this view is part of the new trend of embracing and emphasizing the supernatural element in Mormonism and Mormon history. Another example is the October 2015 Ensign article publishing a photo of one of Joseph’s seer stones in the Church’s possession and acknowledging Joseph’s use of it. This new trend goes hand-in-hand with Mormon fideism, the claim that faith alone is sufficient and that appeals to reason or to objective evidence are not required or even desirable. (See this excellent discussion of Mormon fideism.) But fideism versus rationalism is a discussion for another post.

The narrower question we’re looking at here is naturalism versus supernaturalism, the view that God works though natural processes versus the view that God frequently intervenes in the world and freely contravenes natural processes. In particular, we’re looking at the version of religious supernaturalism that grants considerable power and autonomy to evil forces and attributes many events in the day-to-day life of every listener to those evil powers. Call it Mormon demonology. It’s not a simple either-or choice, of course: There is a full spectrum of theological opinion on that issue, even within the Church. Personally, I’m a minimalist — like Elder McConkie, who thought none, or almost none, of the historical cases of alleged sorcery or witchcraft were cases of “actual communion with evil spirits.” But if you embrace supernaturalism, you get the dark as well as the light, sorcery as well as miracles. In 2017, the official LDS view is once again that sorcery is abroad upon all the face of the land.

28 comments for “Let’s Talk About Sorcery

  1. Let me point out one of the harmful applications of this sort of thinking, the idea that mental illness, especially depression, results from Satanic influence. Some carry this idea further and suggest the sufferer or the sufferer’s sinful thoughts or behavior is the cause of the depression. Elder Benson makes an explicit link between Satan and depression in his 1974 Ensign article referred to in the current Ensign article and linked at footnote 8.

    Any LDS reader struggling with depression or any local leader attempting to counsel and comfort one suffering from depression should absolutely consult Elder Holland’s 2013 General Conference talk “Like a Broken Vessel” rather than earlier and now seemingly discredited LDS commentary.

  2. I think you make some nice points. I would say, though, that your reading of the article seems on the tendentious side.

    For example, you say, “The central claim of the article is that gay marriage is Satan’s counterfeit version of ‘marriage between a man and a woman’ that is ‘ordained of God,’ because gay marriage ‘brings neither posterity nor exaltation.'”

    On my reading of the article, this is a very minor point (it’s only mentioned in one of the 4 points mentioned, and the main claim was about lust, lies, and deception, and gay marriage was just one illustration of those larger points).

    Also, you interpret Alma 1:19 as “projecting every negative trait or behavior onto those other people in that other church.” But the verse list several other more obviously substantive vices–viz, idolatry (or idleness), envyings, strife; pride, persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, and murdering.

    I mean, the point of your article is a good one, and it’s well-taken–that we have to be careful not to just project negative attitudes toward Others. But I think your criticisms of that Ensign article and the verse in Alma should be understood as dangerous interpretations we should be careful to avoid, rather than warranted interpretations of the texts as written.

    Again, though, I quite like the other and larger points you’re making!

  3. I guess I don’t know that I would read it like that. “Sorcery” — possibly a clumsy term — could mean in a modern context people trying to use witchcraft/woo/weird practices as religion or for making money. It doesn’t have to be real for people to be taken in and cheated, if they believe in it. Psychics are charlatans. Reiki is total nonsense. Woo of all kinds is becoming more popular and more pernicious, and some of it is spiritual counterfeit stuff. Even dietary/medical woo (such as curing illness by putting onions on the feet overnight to absorb ‘toxins’) has a wide streak of spiritualism running through it.

    Long ago, I worked with a woman I really liked. She practiced witchcraft, which I thought was kind of silly, but whatever, it’s all good. Until the day she told me that she’d induced a miscarriage by it — an abortion by spiritual power. That was pretty disturbing. I have a very hard time believing that such a thing is possible, but *she* certainly believed it, which is the important part.

  4. The issue of counterfeits is interesting and I think a common problem. As Jean notes I’m not sure we have to accept that the counterfeits are really functional to think they’re a problem or inspired by Satan. I recognize there are differences of opinion among Mormons as to have active the adversary really is. I tend to think he’s much more active than some but also tend to think he works indirectly most of the time.

    I’m not sure taking such things serious is a new trend though. I think there’s a sizable portion of the church who just finds the idea of functional false priesthoods uncontroversial. It may appear more alien to members who are minimalists of course, but I think it’s always been there. Whether one accepts the stories or not, I still hear lots of stories about miracles both from God and real counterfeits by members. Three Nephite stories persist as do many others. While I’ll confess I don’t hear miraculous evils too much during F&T meeting in my current ward, certainly in other wards I’ve been in they’ve been common. On my mission they were ubiquitous.

    However I think there is a great point you raise over priestcrafts and false priesthood and how we interact with other religions. For a long time most of those we interacted with were other Christians. That’s not been true for some time. How, for instance, do we deal with wiccans? Further other traditions not part of the judeo-christian-islamic traditions don’t fit well into our rhetoric. We do have to be careful. Even when talking about priestcraft we probably should think about how that might sound to a Catholic. I think one of the important things Pres. Hinkley did was get the church to pay more attention to building bridges with other faiths. Abandoning a lot of past rhetoric (like calling Catholics the great and abominable church as was common in the 50’s) is important.

  5. This article is based on a talk Elder Lawrence gave to LDS Business College June 23, 2015. A couple weeks earlier (on June 13th) Elder Oaks and a church historian were in Boise warning a few saints there about “false prophets.” I think, given the context, Elder Lawrence meant the sorcery thing quite literally. The movement the brethren were concerned about (Denver Snuffer, et al) is big on miraculous spiritual manifestations and 19th century-era exhibitions of gifts of the Spirit. In that Boise talk, Oaks was using language like “seducing spirits,” “doctrines of devils,” and “spirits of darkness.” He quoted a 1912 statement from the First Presidency, “When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or an extraordinary gift or inspiration, convey something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, latter-day saints may know that it is not of God no matter how plausible it may appear.” He also quoted Spencer W. Kimball, “I believe that if one wants revelations enough to crave them beyond the rightness of it, that eventually he will get his revelations but they may not come from God. I am sure that there may be many spectacular things performed because the devil is very responsive.” As foreign as this might be to regular members, the idea that Saints were being persuaded by counterfeit spiritual manifestations was on the minds of brethren at the time.

  6. I disagree that this is aimed at other Christian sects. Elder Faust and Elder McKonkie were both pretty clear about what sorcery is: communion with evil spirits. This is accomplished via “devil worship… voodooism, casting spells… and all other forms of demonism.” It is seeking supernatural power outside of God. That’s not what’s happening in catholic, protestant, evangelical, and even charismatic sects.

    This is aimed at the Ouiji boards (now named “angel boards”), incantation of spirits, praying to Satan/Baphomet, etc. One example would be Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s “spirit cooking,” which involved making and eating wafers made with semen and menstrual blood.

    Interestingly, there was no official response from Mormon officials when Harry Potter–with it’s magic and witches–swept pop culture 15 years ago. This new stuff is different, and it’s real. I guess I should read the BCC post as well.

  7. Other Clark you might want to check out Snopes on that claim.

    Mary Ann, I agree, and to my eyes the counterfeits of revelation are the most deeply problematic, whether coming from Satan or just cognitive bias or confusion at recognizing the spirit. We see contemporary apostate movements like the Denver Snuffer movement tied to such counterfeits IMO.

  8. Though my only exposure to what the GAs are saying/writing these days is via blogs like Times and Seasons, there seems to be a resurgence lately in blaming Satan for all evil, all our temptations, etc. My simple logic has always been: Satan does not have to actually exist to explain all the evil (or bad things) men do. Ergo, Satan doesn’t exist.

    And, regarding scriptural references to Satan: “Scripture,” in particular the first 5 books in the KJV, have a very troubling provenance and its accuracy is in considerable doubt, e.g., Satan.

  9. It’s a good thread and in the interest of full disclosure, as opposed to Clark, I don’t think Satan is active at all among us. I think Satan is a stand in for our own worst fears, impulses, etc. Not exactly a new idea, I know.

    Dave’s post raises an interesting issue for me because while I don’t believe in sorcery, I believe in God. So I don’t find myself in the dilemma that many Mormons experience: how to tell the difference between an “authentic” miracle and a counterfeit one. I don’t really care about that distinction because I’ve never thought of reported miracles (I’ve never witnessed one) as anything much more than faith-promoting rumors and I just don’t grow my faith that way. But the post and Clark’s response make me wonder about where our beliefs currently stand regarding this stuff.

    How literally do Mormons tend to take these things? As I mentioned, I just don’t really care much about such distinctions, but they seem to matter to an awful lot of Mormons. Can someone give me a general sense (I know it will be anecdotal, but still) about what percentage of Mormons buy into stuff like sorcery, false miracles, magic, etc? To me, such things seem antiquated and irrelevant, but that’s just my opinion/belief and so I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Any info would be appreciated.

    And the second question is about why these distinctions seem to matter so much. I’ve always thought the most important thing a Christian could do was become as much like Christ as one’s flaws allow. In my mind, that’s a fairly straightforward proposition. What is the relationship between becoming Christ-like and being able to tell the difference between sorcery and a miracle? Does this have something to do with the early Mormon Church trying to establish authority? Because it strikes me that there’s often a lot of time/energy invested in labeling stuff false or true or secret combinations or whatever and I don’t quite see why. Any enlightenment anyone could throw my way would be most helpful.

  10. From Rachel Hunt Steenblik’s recent BCC post:

    At their sixth meeting, Joseph addressed the [healing] blessings directly: “It is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority which is confer’d on them—and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.” And, “respecting the female laying on hands, he further remark’d, there could be no devils in it if God gave his sanction by healing—that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water—that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration.”

    This teaching by Joseph Smith, in particular the bolded portion, (thankfully) directly contradicts the idea that any faith healing of the sick that occurs through the administration by people not ordained to the LDS priesthood would be sorcery. Instead, Joseph Smith appreciates all such faith healing and endorses it, whether the laying on of hands is by LDS women or by the priesthood or laypersons of other faiths. Thank goodness we have such historic teachings in the face of Elder Lawrence’s opinions!

  11. John, what do you see in Elder Lawrence’s article that would suggest he rejected healing by faith? I think the main issue is more what the brethren in the 1940’s took to be that the priesthood holders should be called first rather than the (then) tradition of have women anoint. It also downplayed certain traditions of anointing the afflicted location rather than the head. When Joseph F. Smith stopped the practice in 1946 I don’t think he was denying it was effectuous so much as thinking it was more appropriate to follow the NT practice. (And he was largely following Heber J. Grant’s earlier comments from the 1920’s)

    I just don’t see anything that would suggest Elder Lawrence sees healing by faith as a counterfeit.

  12. Other Clark: Interestingly, there was no official response from Mormon officials when Harry Potter–with it’s magic and witches–swept pop culture 15 years ago.

    I don’t really see why there would be. Fantasy is a long-standing children’s genre, and one that most Mormons enjoy. What makes HP different than Narnia, that we should fear it? I know some evangelicals don’t like it, but I don’t personally agree with them. (I was in library school when anti-HP fervor was at its height — and the Northern Lights trilogy was winning prizes right and left. I wondered why nobody objected to that one, except of course the answer was obvious; it wasn’t well-known enough yet. The movie fixed that problem.)

    Brother Sky, I think it’s hard to tell how many Mormons take ‘these things’ seriously, because we don’t talk about it much in public. Therefore I was surprised when somebody told me they believed in ghosts. Like, haunting ghosts. Which seems undoctrinal to me. I can say that I have not had a conversation in the past 20 years where
    somebody talked about false miracles or demonology. BUT I was a teen just at the time of the Satanic child abuse panic, and I knew many LDS adults back then who considered Ouija boards and D&D to be dangerous,
    Jay’s Journal to be a real thing, and Satanic child abusers to be real. (My parents were not among them, and I admittedly come from a town known for its general loopiness. We also had an actual Satanic murder, so….) Would those adults have believed in false miracles? Probably. I tend to assume that any such thing would be trickery, not magic, and I think it would be entirely possible to have a conversation where each person talks past the other, one assuming false miracles are demon-controlled, and one assuming they’re fakes for profit.

    (I have a lot of questions about the Satanic child abuse thing. A LOT. I really wish there was someone to ask about it. I read a very interesting book, but it did not answer my questions.)

  13. Jean, I believe most of the “satanic abuse” hype was false memory syndrome incurred by questionable therapists. There was then a lot of hype by sensationalist reporters. When I was on my mission in Louisiana Geraldo Riviera did a big special on satanic cults hyping it all up. Most of it was complete fiction. Although there were some real such groups but they were mainly focused on drugs and sex although it did get into some crime.

    To ghosts, I suspect most Mormons believe in that in some degree. The idea of dead relatives acting as guardian angels is a fairly common Mormon trope. It’s hard to reconcile traditional Mormon notions of the afterlife and spirit prison with the idea of evil ghosts. I think those Mormons who accept the phenomena but attempt to reconcile the theology usually see them as Satan pretending to be those figures or else the veil simply being thin under some circumstances.

    Most of those people I’ve encountered who believe in real malevolent spirits usually see them as the spirits of the 1/3 of hosts who were cast to earth as “sons of perdition.” However most also see them as not having much power on their own beyond suggestion. So to combat them one can, according to this theory, either cast them out with the priesthood or if one doesn’t have the priesthood simply cleanse the area by faith. (This is actually spoken of a bit in the temple and I think many take it as something both men and women can do rather than inherently limited to priesthood office) I suspect most who believe in such beings tend to not believe they can do real miracles and that their powers are more communication and individuals choosing to put themselves under their power in some way. However I’m sure there are others who tend to embrace the kind of demonology of either evangelicals, Catholics, or some forms of Judaism. So far as I know the brethren haven’t spoken openly about such issues. So most of what is written comes either from Joseph Smith such as in the First Vision account or (of lesser trustworthiness) people recounting things in the early Utah period. It is of course quite possible to believe in evil spirits while simultaneously thinking most accounts of such things aren’t accurate.

  14. I’m surprised that no one yet seems to be bothered by a discussion of gay marriage in an article on sorcery. Even if it makes up only a small part of the article, to say that it is counterfeit is bad enough, to embed it in an article with all manner of satanic occurrences is inhumane, at best, and potentially very, very dangerous.

    In my own family a great and heartbreaking rift has been caused by the response to one beloved niece’s coming out. She is still a minor, but the response to her by one part of the family has been that being gay is a choice, and that she can use her gift of agency in another way.

    The family members who have addressed her in this way will surely feel greatly emboldened by Elder Lawrence’s article, and they will fear all the more for her salvation. This will not cause them to reach out to her in support, but in fear for her soul, which will help no one.

    This article is destructive.

  15. Clark Goble, you’re right about its later permutation — recovered memory of Satanic abuse was a big thing in what, the early 90s? I was thinking of the part before that (looking at it I see I was pretty unclear, sorry) in, what, 1984 and on where people worried about Satanic child abuse in nursery schools and daycare. It was false accusations and hysteria, but when I was a teen, as far as I knew it was a legitimate thing for adults to worry about. A family in my ward — one I considered sensible and not obviously loopy as several were — believed that one of their children had been abused by a neighbor belonging to a cult. The family moved away, and over the years moved several times in order to get away from the nationwide network of Satanists who would eventually find and target them (luckily the dad was highly employable). Some 10-15 years after they moved, their relatives still would not talk about *where* the family lived, to guard against leaks. At the time, I believed it. Now I don’t know WHAT to make of this. What actually happened? What would they say now?

    (Told you my hometown was loopy. I have so many stories like this.)

  16. I think a lot that happened in the 90’s was setup in the 80’s. It’s just that in the 90’s the idea of false memories started arises as psychologists noted how easy it is to impart a false memory or lead people on. The big thing was that all these things were investigated and there just wasn’t anything behind them. It was rather like the Salem Witch trials in some ways.

    But I think it does highlight how rumors can spread and how people will leap unnecessarily to other worldly explanations.

    KM, at least as I read the article, it was more focused on counterfeits with sorcery just mentioned as an example of a counterfeit. I don’t think you can read Elder Lawrence as tying gay marriage to sorcery. Rather he’s more just suggesting counterfeits as a major problem. I think anyone who uses this talk to be emboldened to say inclinations are all just a choice need only be pointed towards the recent church resources on homosexuality which pointedly go the other direction. Unfortunately the church doesn’t really have any answers for what a person with such inclinations ought do to be fulfilled in this life. Hopefully they are fasting and praying on that so they can offer what the Lord wants people to do.

    Related to the article, I think speaking of satan as real and as having the ability to tempt us is pretty mainstream. But I don’t think it’s important enough to make a big deal out of. If you think it’s all placebo effect (or its inverse) and misinterpretation that’s fine.

  17. Where did the counterfeits narrative originate, does anyone know? I recall it being big in CES venues (seminary & institute classes, particularly the latter in the late 80s) but I don’t recall really hearing anything about it in other church settings growing up.

    Mary Ann’s context for the Ensign article is very informative I think.

    On the discussion of sorcery… well I’d go back to the good fruits argument, which seems pretty in line with john f.’s excerpt above. I do think it is a bigger thing in society than we would perhaps like to imagine. There are occasional news reports of ritual killings discovered. But with less hype and hysteria than the reports of the 80s and 90s Jean refers to, so maybe that’s lessons learned…

  18. The idea goes back to Joseph Smith as you can see in that Times and Seasons editorial I linked to earlier. He doesn’t use the word counterfeit, although I’ve heard that most of my life especially relative to marriage. Back then no one even considered gay marriage so the counterfeit was always common law marriages or the then relatively new trend of living together. McConkie talked of priestcraft as counterfeit priesthood in Mormon Doctrine but I’m sure it predates him too. Doing a quick search in the Journal of Discourses the same language was used commonly, like this one by Orson Pratt.

    The rising generation are proud, haughty, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; fighting against His people; given to whoredom and prostitution and all manner of iniquity and abominations; guilty of all the abominations named by the apostle that should characterize the false churches of the latter days, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. That is, denying the gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, revelation, the ministering and discerning of spirits. All these things were denied when the Book of Mormon came forth. Of course the devil saw that it was not policy, with all the Scriptures staring them in the face, and all the Latter-day Saint Elders quoting these Scriptures to show the necessity of the gifts, to keep them denying these gifts; hence he introduced them under the name of Spiritualism. As soon as the Book of Mormon came forth, the counterfeit then spread like the counterfeit gifts exercised by the old magicians of Egypt. When Moses went down with the power and authority of Heaven, the counterfeit sprang up in order to delude the Egyptians, and make them think the power of Moses was the same in character as that exercised by the magicians. When Moses threw down his rod it became a serpent; the rods of the magicians did the same. When Moses brought up frogs on the land, they did the same; when he turned the rivers of water into blood, they did the same; and thus they deluded the Egyptian nation, and made them believe that if the power of Moses was superior to theirs, it was only because he had learned the magic art more thoroughly than they had.

    So the rhetoric is pretty old and probably pre-dates Mormonism.

  19. On my mission (1994), I worked with two women who had multiple personality disorder, presumably from their experiences in the satanic abuse. I’ve no idea if their experiences were true, but the MPD they were living with was certainly real.

    We have an odd history with what most could call superstition and sorcery. I think the Church’s opinion has been of the general “if it brings you closer to God, it’s of God. If it takes you away from God (or the Church, or toward following a specific person other than Christ), then it’s counterfeit, and should be avoided.

    I can think of more than a few health fads that skirt the line with “sorcery”, especially when their draw is a thinly veiled MLM.

  20. I should note that the spiritualism Pratt’s likely referring to there was an issue when the large number of British saints started coming to Utah. As you might know there were actually more Mormons in England than there were in the United States for a while. When they came many brought other spiritual traditions. The spiritualist tradition included speaking to supposedly dead people for information – a traditional magician’s trick. (Penn and Teller, if you’re familiar with them, have written a lot on these sorts of seances since they know all the traditional methods of trickery) There was a fair bit of conflict between the 12 and advocates of these sorts of spiritual practices which then got wrapped up in centralization of authority as well.

    A fantastic book on this is Ronald Walker’s Wayward Saints. As a funny aside, it’s out of that movement that we end up with the Salt Lake Tribune.

  21. Frank, “the MPD they were living with was certainly real.” There’s really a lot of stuff that appears real to some and unreal, counterfeit, or whatever to others. Back when I was involved in litigating a lawsuit based upon alleged recovered memory of abuse, the head of the Johns Hopkins psychiatry department insisted that there was nothing real about multiple personality disorder. He said he got the hard cases after other therapists failed with them; he had them “cured” in about 3 months, simply by refusing to recognize the existence of the alleged multiple personalities. They then disappeared as the patient unlearned those behaviors because they didn’t work.

    I wonder if “real” and “counterfeit” are not often labels that are attached respectively to “my interpretation of my experience” and “my interpretation of your apparently contrary experience.”

  22. MPD is a very controversial diagnosis although there are a lot of psychologists who accept it. Usually those claiming it truly have faced a lot of trauma in their past though.

  23. Why do I repeatedly find running across my mind the old wisecrack that you have to speak quietly in the celestial kingdom to avoid upsetting the Mormons who think they’re the only ones there…

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