Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Official.


Yeah. That letter.

This morning.

It's toned down quite a bit from my original letter, but I think it works rather nicely.

Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Room 1372
SLC, UT 84150-5310
Cc: President of [My] Stake.
Bishop of What-Would-Be-Our-Ward

This letter is to inform you of our resignation from the church. We expect our names to be permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church. Full names and birthdates are supplied below. The names and records of our children are also to be removed. They are: [kid #1] (her birthdate), [kid #2] (birthdate), and [kid #3] (birthdate). Our current address is [redacted].

We have considered this for a significant amount of time, resulting in disbelief in even basic tenets of the church. Recent events concerning Prop 8 and the words of certain senior leaders have compelled us to resign formally. We will not condone these actions, preaching, and behaviors by virtue of our membership and thus refuse official association with the church.

We understand you consider this a serious action and what you believe the consequences of resignation are. We are aware that the Church Handbook of Instructions says our resignation "cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings." We also understand that re-admittance is possible “by baptism only after a thorough interview."

We expect our resignations to be processed immediately, without any “waiting periods” and in full confidentiality and respect. After today the only contact we want from the church is a single letter of confirmation of our resignations, records and name removal. If a reason must be documented, “doctrinal issues” would be accurate.

Please also note that our bishop and stake president have been notified likewise.




Friday, July 8, 2011

Thoughts on a new blog

It's been a while, I know, but I'm reconsidering my blog and seriously considering beginning another one. This doesn't seem to be working for me anymore.

The thing is, if and when I begin a new blog I am sure I will alienate about 90% of you--if not more. I totally understand (empathize) where many ex-mormons come from and why they need to bash on the church as often as humanly possible, but I'm not there. I have my beefs for sure, but I'm definitely one of your more privileged members. I have not attended a ward which included bishops who knowingly protected emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually abusive spouses and fathers, things like that. I've been told stupid things, but nothing criminal--just annoying. And the thing is, I've heard it in other churches as well.

Same shit, different chapel.

I joined a few months after I turned 18, so I've very little Young Women's experience. I was the secretary for a little while and did learn, to my surprise, that there are Good Little Mormon Girls who sneak out of their rooms at night to do Inappropriate and Unworthy Things. I thought this never happened, but even after I discovered it I assumed it was a isolated event, especially given the girls who were doing it. They came from messed up homes, homes I knew existed.

With all of the Catholic church's sexual abuse problems that went on (and yes I know, continue to go on), I one day told my in-laws how grateful I was to be in a church where that never happened. They were quiet when I expected a chorus of agreement, but that didn't bother me too much. About a week later a story popped up in our local newspaper of a priesthood-holding dentist in the area who would sedate his patients and then grope them.

Some years later I'd learn of a man in my stake, the husband of the YW president I served under, who physically beat the shit out of his wife and kids. I had interacted with this man before, in a chilling and specific incidence where he gave the YW a martial-arts lesson. He was a master in one of those practices.

Oh my god, right?

Still, this doesn't come close to the stories I've heard since leaving. If anything along these lines have occurred in my own stake, I don't know about them. Apart from a non-mormon man who worked for my stepdad groping me at the age of 14 (he reached behind the car seat to get a good feel of my leg while we took him home), I've never been sexually assaulted. And I am both grateful and oddly full of guilt for this. Well, let me clarify. "Guilt" may not be the right word--but I don't belong with the vast majority of other ex-Mormon women, a majority who seems to have experienced such atrocities, and in that way I feel like I am insulting them by considering myself a part of their group. Make sense? I feel like I can't relate to anyone. There is a level of privilege I have that I feel nobody else has--and this makes it difficult for me to bash the church along with them.

But this also means that I have had the privilege also to be around the church's best people. Yes they CAN BE incredibly annoying, but no more so than those I ran into at my dad's Assembly of God church, or the Catholic church or anywhere else. Or more so than I can be, for that matter. But I did join the LDS church and my membership lasted throughout what I consider to be my most formative years. I wish I could've just been left alone, but I remember how confused I was and so willing to go anywhere with anyone. Something happened to my good sense after high school. In a lot of ways, I could have done much, much worse than to join the church.

(and this is where I lose a lot of you)

I've developed a sense of pity for members. Not for the leadership, but for the members. And I'm tired of making fun of them so much. People like to do it--many for the catharsis, but others because it's just fun. And it is. But there are genuinely good people just saying what they've been raised to say and believe and think and do. They don't know any better. They genuinely believe it and there is little we can do to change them. There are few who we can convince, but for the most part the indoctrination is more powerful than our logic and rhetoric. This doesn't mean I should sit there and take it, and I won't, but this doesn't make them inherently bad people. We say they lack the ability to think critically, and in a lot of ways this may be true. It is true. In a lot of ways, however, this may just be a defensive mechanism. And beyond all of this, who am I to say I am any better than they are? What the fuck gives me that right? In this way I am no better than they are.

But I have a problem with just assuming EVERYONE knows it's not true deep down but continue to believe or play the part anyway because it's easier. It's really no better than the members or general faithful who tell non-believers that they know it's true deep down but continue to be apostates because it's easier.

While this may be true in some instances, there's a lot of hypocrisy in this line of thought.

I've struggled with a lot lately. I have my fake profile on facebook, and it can be a lot of fun. I like that it's a place where I can say things I can't say on my real profile, but it's not all about religion or belief or the lack thereof. I'm looking to get into a field of work that doesn't look kindly on those who are human beings. Besides that, it's a profession, and for whatever reason those in the public eye are considered unprofessional or a bad example if they use dirty words or have beliefs and/or politics different from that of the majority. I do have to be careful.

There are members who I cannot stand, but they differ no more from others who have political beliefs that just make my skin crawl. You don't have to be LDS to believe that homosexuals or queer folk in general are unnatural and deserve to be shoved into the back of the bus, if they're allowed on the bus at all--though I do wonder, is that a belief only the religious tend to ascribe to?

Also, I need to know I've other passions, another future ahead of me. I do not want to spend the next ten years of my life shaking my fist at the church and telling them to get the fuck off my lawn. They are there. They are my family, and a few of my closest friends. This is who they are. If I want their respect, I need to give them some of mine as well. If I want to be accepted for who I am or who I am becoming, I need to accept them as well. We will clash sometimes, but that's what people do.

And that's the other thing: I've grown to believe over the last decade (or perhaps all my life; I don't know) that friends never argue and agree on everything. This isn't true, but it's hard to fully realize. I understand why my friend Squeaky freaked out on me and refuses to talk with me. It's not because I don't believe anymore as much as she's in defensive mode. Not because I might convince her that she's wrong, but this is the safest place she's ever been in. I would never ask her or entice her to leave this.

But back to the other passions and pursuits. I have felt like a one-trick pony for such a long time. If it wasn't just being a mom, it was just being an angry ex-mormon. This is not me. I love English, I love to write, I love to read. I love sports. I want to learn other things. If I don't, my life will be shit. You don't need the church for your life to be shit. Church is not requisite for a shitty life any more than it is for a great and happy one.

I just want to be more. Religion is part of my interests. At the moment I'm reading a ridiculously gigantic survey on the English Reformation. People say things that piss me off--but it's more from a feminist standpoint more than a religious one, though religion does seem to feed misogyny rather well. But religion is who we all are, like it or not, partake in it or not. We can work for change, but we have to accept the fact that real change will take years, decades, centuries. If we can accept that, we can get started, and many of us have. I will say I'm unconvinced all religion is bad, and I know that's a naughty agnostic-atheist thing of me to say, but I'm as yet unconvinced.

There are those I avoid now because they are so offensive. I'm not saying they aren't or that we should tolerate it. For me, the point is that it's not all due to Mormonism but much of Christianity as a whole.  I can't say of other religions more than I presently know, but I imagine it's much the same there. And even there I hesitate, because I can't stand blanket statements. Too black and white.

I do believe people will be bitches no matter what. We're like people that way.

So, new blog coming--at least when I can figure out a title and hone down a focus a bit more, if I decide on a honed focus at all. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm justa girl

I've learned to avoid telling people I ever had anything to do with the church. You get a stigma. A lot of you will get that. I fear a particularly stinky kind for myself. You guys, my husband was born into the church. I chose it.

But because he was born into it, there are situations I can't get out of, attitudes I can't avoid. His family is pretty awesome with regard to our leaving, but there's one member who--try as he might!--can't let go entirely. Every now and again he has a comment. It usually doesn't bother me.

But the attitudinal issues--those bother me. The misogynistic crap is so subtle, but it's there and I've always felt it but I've always dismissed it because it's so subtle and, y'know, maybe I'm just being sensitive. I don't know if anyone outside the culture and at all unfamiliar with it would sense it as it's redressed in names like "values" and "virtue" and "faith" and "humility" and "modesty" so that even women don't see it.

We attended a little get-together at my FIL for my SIL's 8th grade graduation this past weekend. As my FIL and my husband are both teachers, they talk quite a bit about issues and general experiences. Now, I didn't necessarily grow up wanting to be an English teacher, but it has always been on my mind. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have tutored and enjoyed it so much. In high school I wanted to be a writer, but I was aware enough to know that wouldn't work as a day job so I considered being an editor or proofreader, working in the publishing industry.

For a long time post-church I told myself and anyone who would listen that I didn't think I could teach, that I didn't have the ability to handle the emotional and mental issues associated with it. Because I wouldn't let it go (I was waiting for someone to assure me I'd be fine--yay passive-aggression!), others simply shrugged and agreed--which made my insecurity worse. I had just spent the last decade being told ("encouraged") that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. It's been quite the process redefining myself. I'm getting there, but it's slow.

So I finally decided last summer that I was going back to school with purpose. The difference in my motivation is amazing. I finally believed I could do something and I've done all the annoying crap so far in order to do it. I took biology--biology. I've overcome a lot of fears just in the last year to keep going. Now I'm in summer school. I'm happier when I'm studying.

But not everyone is all that supportive. More than I thought are, but there are the cynics. They surrounded me yesterday.

"So you wanna be a teacher, huh?" a family member--also a teacher--said.


(insert loud laughter here)

It could be because the climate is so godawful right now that only an insane masochist would even entertain the thought, but I know this mindset. I know my husband used to have it. Kids, I could tell a few stories and they're all influenced by church doctrine and teachings regarding women--not girls! women--and their place. "I'd rather you wouldn't wear that." "Don't go on a walk by yourself."

I mean, girls.

So the laughter also stank of condescension and it didn't help that the conversation stopped there. They weren't interested. But, he did bring it up again later. "So what do you want to teach? Elementary?"

Because, as many of you know, women are best at teaching elementary if they're going to teach at all (really, if a mormon woman has to work, she can be a secretary or a teacher so I'm already playing into this). And let's not forget that just moments before I overheard a conversation regarding elementary school teachers--they're amazing people and a special brand and omg so glad they're there, but their university program doesn't demand as much of them.

He backed up pretty quickly after I scrunched up my face and...well.

Every time I was asked about school my responses were met with snideness. Even DILF (i'm struggling with this. he's uncomfortable with actual names but i grow tired of "my husband" and i think "DILF" is funny)--ANYWAY, DILF, who usually sets me straight when I'm being irrational--and god knows I can be when I'm angry and hurt--agreed that there were some major you're so cute *pet* now get in the kitchen overtones going on.

Seriously. I need some good returns for these stupid comments next time. When we got home I just wanted to ball up and cry and punch something.

I'm not doing this for them, to prove anything to them. If I was I wouldn't have come even this far. But, you know, it would be nice to have a bit of respect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another SIL on the way

I feel weird about this one. Not in a bad way, but in a "why the hell weren't you excited about the last one" kind of way.

The most recent SIL is nice enough. She's naive as all get-out, but she's nice. And we all know, I wonder very much about my BIL's actual feelings about it. Those feelings aren't at all alleviated by the numerous stories I've heard of things he said even on the day of the wedding. Something doesn't feel right.

But of course, I could totally be wrong. It's not like I know that BIL that well. He lives in friggin' Utah and I rarely see him. The signs, though. Anyway. I hope I'm wrong for their sakes.

This new girl is marrying the youngest boy in the family. I love this BIL--I love all of them, but this one has a special place in my heart. When I was in labor with my youngest, he gave up his bed for me. We lived in a town an hour away but I wasn't giving up my OB/GYN for anything. So when active labor began the day before Christmas, we made our trek to my MILs house to spend the night. For two awful, contraction-filled nights BIL gave up his bed. For three days BIL voluntarily and without any asking on my part took care of my kids. I never had to raise a finger. My SIL was amazing, too, but there was something special about BIL doing this. He also had to wake up every morning around 5am (if not sooner at least once) to my false alarms. He never complained.

My only regret about BIL is the boy he was when he returned home from his mission. Complete zeal, this boy. But we had all changed, the kind of change that just intensifies it all (if that makes sense). He was a believer before but now he was completely entrenched, quoting Spencer W. Kimball (?) and others regarding the evils of "socialism" and otherwise. It was, for me, disheartening. The boy who once played Grand Theft Auto (which, in an ironic way, bothered me back then). The boy who once watched South Park (again, ironic. how could he get away with watching that?). I missed that boy, but I loved him too. I've known him since he was a chubby little eleven-year-old boy. The eleven-year-old boy who, upon seeing my husband and I hold hands for the first time in his living room, lit up and ran upstairs to tell everyone. I hope I remember that forever.

This BIL has a special place in my heart. Sometimes, when it feels like a good time, I try to bring him back. Whether he likes it or not, he still laughs when we reference South Park.

I friended his fiancee on facebook last night, and she seems so goddamn sweet I can't hardly stand it. She's SO LITTLE (young!) but so sweet. Her friends are already calling her by her almost-new last name and it brings back so many fun memories. I'm excited to meet her and afraid I'll scare her off at the same time. I'm afraid I'll fall to the wayside. My in-laws are the most amazing people, but they're believers and we're not. It makes us the default black sheep, even if they still love us and treat us just as they always have. I've always been a bit of a black sheep--being a not-so-social girl in a Mormon world, whether you're a member or not--just makes you the weird one.

They're getting married in Idaho this September. I've never been to Idaho which makes the idea of going neat, but we're not exactly rolling in the dough at the moment so we're not sure we can make it anyway. There's hope, though. My husband may get a summer teaching job, and if he does we're definitely making the trip. And though we're pretty sure everyone--with the possible exception of the remaining BILs and SIL--knows we're no longer active, the prospect of sitting in the temple foyer while they get married is a hard one to swallow. Let's also toss in the idea that DH is working on the idea of resigning this summer. So, all I can think about is the embarrassment of the foyer (an interesting emotion, I think), and then the remembrance that I did the exact same thing to my own family. Karma is a bitch, kids. At least we'll be able to help the as-yet-endowed SIL with the loads of kids.

But I want to go. There are problems involved--days to take off, the aforementioned financial issues (there's also a planned Disneyland trip this November)--but this is something we'd like to attend.

There are just so many emotions involved here, but I'm happy for them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Please Read: On Drowning

I read this last year and feel strongly that it bears annual repeating. This is one thing that scares the living CRAP out of me, for both myself and especially my kids. I've had a close call. It's nothing to mess around with.

Please read and share this post: Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

The most important bit to know is this: People (and children especially) who are drowning are not yelling and not splashing. They don't look like they're drowning--unless you know what to look for. 

And, as the article states, if your kids become quiet while swimming, get your ass over there and find out why.

Excerpt from the article:

There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).(emphasis added)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Y'all know Lady Gaga, right? (This isn't about her, just using her as a template)

I read an article the other day having something to do with her--honestly I only remember the comments--and readers quickly fell into a debate on her sexuality and the genuineness thereof. (oh! here it is, but i'll give you the cliff's notes):

Commenter 1: Is she right in being such a strong advocate for the GBLTQ community? She's not gay. Commercialism at its finest. It pisses me off as a gay man.

Commenter 2: Dude, she's said she's bisexual on a number of occasions.

C1: Whatever. She's always hooking up with guys in her videos.

C3: Nuh-uh! Have you seen the "Love Game" video? She totally macks on a chick there.

C1: Doesn't make her bi.

C2: Who are you to decide whether or not she's bi? This is such a big problem for bisexuals. Can't be part of either community. Either with 'em or against 'em, jesus.

C4: She said she was attracted only physically to women, that she couldn't connect with them on an emotional level. She's not bi.

And on and on and on.

I felt C1's concerns during Prop 8. I kept arguing against the proposition and after a while felt like I shouldn't be doing it. I'm not gay. I'm married to a man. I have found women attractive before (wasn't about to say that yet, shh!). Still! I felt like I shouldn't be fighting their cause. I wondered if it wasn't my place. Maybe because I felt like a fake. Maybe because I was fighting against the church just as much as I was fighting against the proposition.

But beyond that: this issue of sexuality, bisexuality specifically. I've heard on a number of occasions that bisexuals are treated as if they can't have their cake and eat it too (a terrible phrase in this situation, really).

Is this a political issue? The gay community has a justifiable cynicism if not hatred toward the straight community. Is this a matter of Us vs. Them? Group mentality? And let's not blame only the gay community for this cynicism. Heterosexuals are constantly berating bisexuals as well for simply wanting to be rebellious or fake or whatever. Ask anyone. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

And let's for a minute consider the other argument brought up here. Gaga allegedly stated she was really only physically attracted to women but didn't feel she could feel an emotional attraction. It sounds odd, I guess, but I think most of us have at one point or ten felt a purely physical attraction to someone we otherwise found totally unattractive.

But Gaga is suddenly not bisexual to these people. Her alleged limited attraction to women negates her claim to bisexuality, and it makes me wonder what makes you bisexual and what, if anything, cancels that out--can you be a poseur if you're genuinely attracted in any way?

It's all bullshit, really. It's never anyone's right to decide how gay or straight someone else is. If you don't like someone fucking with your sexual identity, privilege, or rights, don't fuck with theirs. Period.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Faith in Self

I've a big, fat, ugly problem with the idea that one cannot be happy or blessed if God or Jesus isn't thrown into the mix.

Y'all, this idea is everywhere lately.

A very very very Christian friend of mine wrote, "I may not see myself as anyone worth much of anything, but Jesus loves me, cherishes me–who could ask for more?"

It reminded me of a local Methodist announcement board (y'know, those that they have outside the church with often quirky and "clever" sayings for all to see?). It said "In order to make God great, you have to be less."

I rolled my eyes at first, but an acquaintance said "truer words!" and mine eyes were opened.

This is the problem. Not humility! But the feeling that without god, I am worthless and with god, I am worthless. The same church had before advertised "If you follow yourself, you've a fool for a leader" or some shit like that.

Do you feel awesome about yourself yet?

Then--and I don't frequent this discussion board at all anymore because it just pisses me off--I ran into a blog post over at Feminist Mormon Housewives because someone I like wrote it. Nat discusses the YW value of faith and asks "how can we best put this into action?" She talks about faith being nothing if you've no faith in yourself. It's well worth the read but the comments...well, here's your cliff's notes:

"Where's the mention of the Atonement? Of Jesus Christ? Of our Heavenly Father? Faith in oneself is nothing without Jesus."


It made me so mad.

On a related note, there's the idea I've ran into all my life--Mormon and not--that if I just gave my anxiety to god he'd take it away.That I lacked faith if I couldn't or "wouldn't." Even my father, who knows how awful our condition is, gives some credence to this idea.

Dad, Dad, Dad.

He of all people ought to know better. I think he has an inkling, but we know how hard it is to deny lifelong teachings. You tell yourself that even though life is hard--nay, damn near impossible--now, it could be tragic if you changed anything.

But God doesn't take anxiety away. He adds to it.

Just because you walk away from God doesn't mean the anxiety and bullshit goes away with him. Not entirely. I've this sneaking suspicion that it's because God doesn't exist. It has nothing to do with God or his religions. It has everything to do with chemicals and constructs and how your brain is structured.You only have so much control, but you do have some control. I've learned this and am still learning this, and it has nothing to do with God.

Learning that you're worth it gives you faith. Denying your problems don't work. Trusting in God and not in yourself doesn't work. At all.

There's something amazing about the process of discovery of your own worth. That you, not God, can do it. That you, not God, did it. All because you believed in yourself. That's powerful. That's hope. That, y'all, is harder than belief in the divine.