A Burnt Child is a book formally written over the course of nearly two years, but which was being compiled and carefully incubated in the mind and heart of it's author for at least 40. Unbeknownst to it's author at the time, signs of it's presence manifested themselves over 25 years ago, while sure markers of it's immanent maturity began to show in 2002. Finally, in 2011, things came to a head and it became clear that something had to be done. The ever reluctant, ever loyal boy, man, father and lifelong Mormon, became the disenchanted member and the disinclined author.
I, Jason Draper, am that uncomfortable author.
I am a veteran of a lifelong tour of duty on the "membership" LDS Church. I, like a navy veteran suffering from PTSD, have came home but I am not really ever home because I can never really leave it all behind. I was and really was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking of my membership and my respective belief in that order. Similarly today, I am still and yet am not a member of the LDS Church, in that same respective order. Yet strangely, in my research, I found that I was never really a member of that Church anyway. How that could be seems impossible, but it is true. I would attempt to elaborate on that here and now, but I would rather explain that to you in a book.
They tell us that once we can leave the Church, we cannot leave it alone. But whether that is by our own choice or "theirs" I cannot say here. I would need a book to explain that.
I didn't write this book as a way to get out of the LDS Church. I wrote it to stay in. I owed it to my wife and eight children to get this right. After all, my eternal salvation and the salvation of myself and my entire family is at stake: is it not? Or is it not really?
As I researched and wrote I discovered that much of what was rote in my mind and heart over my entire live by the LDS Church turned out to be rotten. Despite one disappointing setback after another, I kept searching and searching, digging and discovering new things and rediscovering old things I had forgotten, or chosen to forget, or even promised I would never allow myself to think about. I spent nearly two years attempting to find some logic or reason to the made in heaven madness known as the Mormon Church.
But as I searched for that one gold nugget, all I ever found was one problem after another. I found Church history had been obfuscated and modified. I found doctrine had been changed. Scriptures had been altered. God's voice that once spoke so clearly from the heavens was lost in a din of muffled confusion over what He really meant us to hear (whomever you believe "He" is).
Here in my office, some time in the last year, the religion I called my own since my childhood lay in pieces at my feet. The betrayal was nearly unbearable. The shelf in my heart where I had been stacking these incongruities snapped, and the broken pieces of my beliefs tumbled down noiselessly in slow and silent motion. Some were large, and some were small but as they fell they all scorched a little as they did.
First it was altering conference talks with 1984 and a man named R.E. Poelman. Then it was robbing the poor. Then tithing. Then City Creek and the "Word of Wisdom". Then Kinderhook, the Book of Mormon, (or was it Nephi)? The First Visions, the "Book of Abraham", the Greek Psalter and the Book of Commandments. Then there was correlation, succession, outward appearances, and one Lord one faith, and two baptisms, the blacks and the priesthood. Prophets and priesthood power gave way to polygamy, polyandry, and persecution, but that was nothing compared to blood oaths and blood atonement, and if this was not turned on the heads of the wicked by the hand of God Himself, then why not by the hand of His servants themselves?
After all, are there not souls to save? Are we not all wanted, dead or alive? Is there anything God cannot do? Or is there anything his "servants" would not do?
It seems not.
The members of the LDS Church teach that they are God's one chosen people. They teach that nobody else qualifies. They teach that they alone hold the map to the gate and the key to that celestial portal through which all the pre and post mortem members must pass to live (literally). In short, they teach that nobody here get's out alive unless you first die in the right place at the right time, at the right hand of the right man.
But dying ain't much of a living for any true believer in Christ. Ever trying to duplicate what cannot be copied, man has been fooling himself by attempting to build a stairway to heaven on a terrestrial planet rotating at break neck speed. Yet the higher he builds, the colder he gets, the flimsier his position, and the further he is from having his feet on solid ground. And of course, having once ascended to the heights and found nothing but thinner and thinner air, there is only one way down, and although the descension takes your breath away, it is really the stopping at the bottom that is the real problem.
If you are a faithful true believing Mormon or that of any other similar sect, can you take the heat? If you are a former member, or an active non believer forbidden to choose and held in limbo between what you know to be true and what you have and are being taught, there is help in these pages. If you are in a family or marriage where you are not permitted to choose lest you lose everything you value. If you are being persecuted not by a mob in painted faces, but by those who are supposed to love you unconditionally and whose allegiance is lost in a mandatory membership motion required by those whose honor is lost in the pursuit and enthronement of the useful truths they perpetuate, rest assured that these will in fact will be shown to be nothing but useless lies. For you all, there is solace in these pages.
This book is about one religion and one man's experience in it. But whether anyone is in or out of the Mormons, the Moonies, or any other high control group, government, or organization that seeks to acquire and maintain power over people, the tactics are always the same. Lessons taught but never learned is as the child who plays with fire is always burned. It is unlikely that the reader of A Burnt Child will ever be the same again because it's message is that the burning will stop eventually.
In some cases, the fire will get hotter and this book will ruin marriages and destroy families. But for others, it will save them. Who it saves and who it destroys is not for me to consider for it is not I that created the shadow, or to paraphrase was said by an LDS lawyer in the very recent UK pre-trial for Thomas Monson: "Thomas Monson did not initiate the fraud". So let the chips fall where they may.
Depending on it's reach, this book may cost the Mormon church millions of dollars in revenue. If it does, then it deserves it. It may also be the catalyst in the loss of numerous of it's members (if such a thing even exists), while simultaneously and ironically salvaging their temporal and spiritual health simply by the opening of their eyes.
But most of all, I suggest my hope that it may also be the catalyst for the retrieval and preservation of the lost and failing faith of many disenchanted members who sadly, upon leaving the LDS Church, are often so scorched they end up believing in nothing, with faith in nothing and belief in nobody. And who can blame them? Because having been burnt once, twice, and even more, does not a burnt child dread the fire?