Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call for Help: Creating Avid Readers

My students are bright and inquisitive about the things that interest them. Many of them come from lower-income neighborhoods. They have been told that their voices and opinions don't always count because they don't have lots of money, or they don't speak English fluently. But they have a fire in them to be heard, and they have a curiosity about the world. They are just now learning how valued and important they are, that their choices matter, that they have a right to know things about their world. - Ms. B, Creating Avid Readers

You may remember some months ago when I plugged a project of a long-time friend of mine, a teacher down in Austin, Texas. After the success of said project (asking for help in acquiring a variety of fiction books to appeal to her specific student demographic), she's now hoping for help in acquiring a variety of non-fiction books for her students.

And today is her birthday.

Anyway, if you have the extra cash and willingness (these kids need support), please visit her project page at DonorsChoose.org and donate whatever you can to help. One dollar, five dollars--whatever you can. The site makes payment really easy, and you don't have to make an account to do so.

Speaking as the wife of a teacher and friend of many teachers, our educators severely lack support, financially and otherwise. Consider making this your monthly charitable action, part of your Christmas giving. I know many ask for money (god do I know--daily emails) and that it can be overwhelming especially during this time of year, but check it out. Discovering a love for books, discovering knowledge, can not only change the life of a child but of those who the child comes in contact with as they go through their lives. It's a well-known saying, but it doesn't mean it isn't true: knowledge is power.

Thanks so much  <3

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Last Straw

Again, I sat in the chapel with the rest of the youth group at the age of 13 or 14-years-old. This night would prove to be the end of the road for me.

My young, handsome, energetic pastor whom everyone loved stood at the front. My peers and I waited in the front few rows of the pews, listening as he explained that night's particular activity. It went like this:

Two of our peers had been pre-chosen to be the angels of death. How they were chosen still fascinates and confuses me--if I allow my thoughts to dwell here, it angers me. Much about this night does.

Two rooms awaited us in the back of the chapel where the pastors' offices were located. One, representative of Heaven. Another, representative of Hell.

The two angels of death would come and take us randomly (like death often does, natch) and escort us to our proper destination.

I wasn't taken right away, but eventually those spared the pains of this ridiculous exercise silently stood before me with outstretched hands. I stood and followed them.

Led into the back hallway, the "angels" opened a door and invited me inside. I entered and found it to be akin to a janitor's closet--for all I know that's exactly what it was. It was hot and stuffy, small, and pitch black.

I was in Hell.

The realization struck me hard. Was it random? I hardly believed that.

Did the angels not like me?

What the fuck did I do?

As a girl who had felt the cruel impact of not belonging with a group of people who, by all accounts, should've been nicer, this was the harsh rub of salt to the wound.

I still don't know why I was placed here, or if it was intentional. I seem to remember another boy in the closet with me as I unsuccessfully fought like hell to hold back my tears and the embarrassment of muffled sobs that accompanied them. This wasn't about being put in hell so much, but of a complete and direct rejection of me as a person. That they thought so little of me as to find no problem damning me.

(It strikes me as something my 16-year-old sister probably feels often now, especially when her pastor unnecessarily took her aside to inform her she had kept her under the baptismal water just a little bit longer as to wash away her "extra sin" and continually berate her for things most teenagers do--effectively pushing her further away)

I don't remember anyone else joining us in Hell except for the one other person, and unfortunately even he remains nameless and faceless in my memory. Few, if any, words were exchanged between us.

Eventually the closet door opened and the two of us were invited to leave Hell. The object lesson was over. "Come to Heaven," they said.

The light in Heaven blinded our eyes as they had since adjusted to the darkness that was Hell. The room per my memory was as large as it was bright, probably a conference room. And rather empty. And a hell (ha!) of a lot more temperate.

"Have some cookies," they said. I wordlessly took one, hoping nobody would say anything to me. Hoping that the redness and puffiness that surely had to betray my resolve to be steeled and resolute was absent. Anger filled me here as much as did the stabbing pain of rejection. I also found the odd logic of the entire event somewhat amusing--did this mean we'd have a chance to enter heaven after a sufficient time in Hell? Of course it didn't. Not per their official doctrine.

Thankfully everyone left me alone. I didn't belong here. They knew it, I knew it. My years of attending had proven that much. And after this shit I was finished subjecting myself to the abuse.

But perhaps I was too hasty. I was eventually invited into Heaven, and there were cookies.

Wasn't that enough?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Salvation NOW!

I was eleven years old, brand new in the youth group program of my father's Assembly of God church. Our pastor, different from the previous one I've described, took us to the local Catholic cemetery, easily the oldest cemetery in our small town, if not in the vicinity. Full of history. I always wondered, if I was still enough, if I could feel the ghosts of those who had been lain to rest.

But there would be no such reverence this afternoon.

I stood there with my peers on the grass, listening to our pastor's strong and passionate admonishments that went something like this:

"I can't guarantee you that you'll wake up tomorrow. You can't guarantee me that the sun will rise in the morning, that the Earth will still be here. There is no guarantee. You don't know when you will die. If you don't accept Christ now, you will end up in hellfire--period. You cannot wait until the last minute because you may not know when the last minute is. You may not wake up tomorrow. You must accept Christ. Now."

Fear, as you may have noticed by now, is the primary tool in the Assembly of God arsenal. The use of fear is hardly exclusive to Mormonism, but it is certainly a different brand. This is a more violent, in-your-face fear mongering. It is without apology. It is hardly denied even by those who commit it. It is born of fear and perpetuated out of fear. It is a snake that you will pick up to let it bite you because you are unworthy and deserve ever more pain for Christ. You will ask to be bitten and stomped and crucified for and out of your own righteous guilt that, if sincere, will never be satiated.

This particular graveside example is relatively mild, but it remains in my memory.

Eleven-years-old and being told to accept Christ or be consigned to Satan's terrifying grasp to endure an eternity of fire, torture, and misery.

Because I was a sinner.

No matter how hard I tried, how good I was in my heart and in action, I was a sinner.

An eleven. year. old. sinner.

Who needed to be saved.

Have I ever explained to anyone just how hard I tried throughout my lifetime to be good? I haven't because I can't put it into satisfactory words. And it wouldn't matter, because it wasn't ever enough. It just didn't fucking matter because in the end someone would come up to me, for reals, to tell me nothing I ever did would ever be enough. It didn't matter what church I belonged to--Protestant, LDS, didn't matter. The Mormons straight up tell you to aim for perfection even though you'll never get there. To even suggest such a thing in my father's church could be considered blasphemy. Only Christ was and is ever perfect.

Assembly of God is bloody. But it's supposed to be. Therein is humility.

I would never be enough.

Praise Jesus.

I wasn't sure at this moment of my first real call to salvation if I'd been saved. I hadn't said "the prayer" yet--the one where you verbally "accept" Christ as your savior and call yourself an unworthy insect under his feet. But I believed in him. I accepted the story. I wasn't fighting it.

Apparently that wasn't enough.

Some people would tell me that's the point. 

I don't know. It's all bullshit. A part of me knew it, I'm certain, beginning that very day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Memories: Assembly of God

The following describes one of three major events that led to my rejection of organized religion the minute I hit high school. Other factors were involved, but this--yeah.

I was in junior high, seventh or eighth grade, and sitting in the chapel of my father's Assembly of God church for youth group. Other kids surrounded me, kids I neither knew nor liked and who neither knew nor cared for me. But I was there because it was the week I was staying with my dad and, for some reason, I had agreed to this shit.

My youth group pastor was a young, energetic man, probably in his mid-twenties. His wife was super nice, a woman with big hair, a lot of makeup, and a Louisiana accent I adored. He stood at the front of the chapel and asked us all a question.

"If God offered to tell you where you'd end up after death--Heaven or Hell--would you want to know? Raise your hand."

Of course we all raised our hands.

"If God told you you were going to Hell, would you try your best to go to Heaven instead?"

Uhm, yeah I would. Apparently--and not surprisingly--everyone else felt the same way.

"You can't do that!" he said. "God told you you're going to hell, you're going to hell. There is nothing you can do. Now, who would still try to get into heaven anyways?"

What the fuck is this?! I wondered.

Yet my peers and I insisted, all raising our hands.

Again, he told us we were stupid for even trying because God said it wouldn't happen. Who are we to challenge God?!

So again he asked. And again we all raised our hands except for one kid. He was done with this shit. If he was going to hell, he was going to hell. Fuck it. I couldn't help but admire him for this and also couldn't help but think that it would make life a bit nicer if I could just enjoy it without worrying about the dangling, annoying carrot that was heaven.

Alas, he continued.

"What if God told you you were going to heaven?"


Friday, November 26, 2010

Agnostic Christmas

Before we officially-unofficially left the church, there was one thing I had grown to agree with the Jehovah's Witnesses on. To quote a friend of Eric's,

"If you teach your children about Santa and they find out that's a lie, then how can you trust that they'll believe you about God?"

I always thought he had a point, both before and after he said it. It had been on my mind. It made sense. But I couldn't teach my kids that Santa wasn't real--could you imagine? I wasn't worried about them but about them spouting off to their friends. Never mind the reactions from friends and family whom I divulged my hesitancies to.

God forbid I didn't teach my kids about Santa!

How dare I even suggest taking such a fundamental childhood experience away!

All of these reactions from fellow Christians.

I'm sure many of you fall or fell into this category and I don't want to judge you. I'm not. It just strikes me as a little odd. Especially when it comes from the camp of "Keep Christ in Christmas." Especially when it comes from a people who do understand the history of where Christmas comes from--why it's not held on or near Christ's supposed birthday. A people who get all up in arms over "Happy Holidays" when it's not necessarily a Christian time of year.

Knock, knock. Hello?

I didn't get it, but I couldn't bring myself to actively teach my kids about Santa, and Eric was on board with me. Our kids learned about Santa through other family and television shows, society at large. So you can imagine I got questions, at least from my oldest (who is rather observant), at a young age.

"Is Santa real?" she'd ask.

"What do you think?"

But now that we're not believers, it doesn't bother me as much. There's still a part of me that doesn't enjoy lying to my kids. It's interesting how things change once you have your own sometimes, in various ways. I was taught about Santa, learned all on my own that he was a hoax. It didn't bother me at all--in fact, probably like many of you, I reveled in knowing when my siblings did not. I didn't make the connection between Santa and God. We tend to think kids have a greater propensity for such conclusions than they do, much like we worry about them seeing or hearing things on a movie that, up to a certain age, goes right over their heads.

So why am I having a hard time with my own kids, especially now? Abbie is so close to figuring it out, she's such a smart kid. I want so badly to tell her, but I'm encouraging her to rely on her own logic. So far she's finding ways for Santa to be possible, but it won't be much longer. I look forward to that day, really, just to congratulate her and include her in the behind-the-scenes action. But perhaps I won't make it and I'll be the one to tell her. I don't know. I hope for the former so, so much.

Perhaps Santa will be a good lesson they can remember years from now if they ever decide to be interested in the church.

If something doesn't seem quite right and you have to reach and stretch to make it rational and probable, something ain't right.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Red is bad, esp on Christ

Once upon a time some years ago, probably nine or so, I sat in my institute class like a good girl and listened to the lesson. Our instructor presented to us the picture of Christ at the door.

"What sorts of symbolic things do you see here?"

"There's no doorknob!" one particularly astute student said as if he, or anyone else in the room, had never seen the fucking picture before let alone was ever involved in a discussion about it. A million times over.

"That's right, what do you think that means?"

Blahblahblah. I raised my hand. "Christ is wearing red, symbolic of power."

His face sobered. "Now let's be careful with that, Lisa."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just in time for Christmas.

I'm cat sitting for my MIL this week and decided during my last check-in with him to peruse through their deseret catalog for giggles. Ugh.

Didja know how AWESOME Tom Monson is? If not, someone wrote all about it. Snore. These biographies are probably the worst ever. Tell me Tommy smoked a joint at the age of 16 and I might reconsider my stance, though chances are he told on some kid for smoking and called him to repentance or some bullshit like that. SEW PURE AND RITECHOUS he was made bishop at 22!

Did you know that? because I think everyone on the fucking planet knows that by now. Maybe Tom hasn't had enough praise for such an amazing accomplishment. Let's all pat him on the head until he feels sufficiently acknowledged.

Not fair? Maybe. I just don't understand why this is such a big thing. Who in their right mind wants to be bishop at 22? Y'all, I don't know of many men that age in the church who've finished school at this point.

But what is school, yeah?

Then there's a book out there called "The Time Starved Family"

As a mother of seven children, DeAnne Flynn has experienced firsthand the challenge of staying balanced in a world where jam-packed calendars have taken a huge toll on family time. The sixteen practical ideas in this book will help families break out of the hectic, overscheduled, underconnected way of life that has become the norm for both parents and children. Her sensible and realistic approach will help relieve anxiety, encourage self-reliance in kids, and restore order and simplicity to daily family life. Isn’t it time to refocus your energy on the best choices for your family?

DeAnne, if I may call you that, I could've written a pass-along card on this shizz. Sixteen practical ideas to save time and use what you have more wisely? I have just one:

Get yo ass out the church. 


How would you play with your figure set? Perhaps the missionaries, starved of human affection...well. When there's no Barbie, Ken will do. I've yet to find a man who doesn't look super hot in a suit. 

Unfortunately, I can't find any sister missionary action figures. Lame.

Then there's this beauty: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life

Yeah, pretty much. Although I'd change this title to "Ask some questions, change your life." Change Your Questions sounds pretty tricksy to me, like another strategy missionaries would use.

Wait. They already do.

Investigator: "I asked God if the Book of Mammon Mormon was true, but I didn't get an answer."

Missionary: "Did you ask right?"

Investigator: "Huh?"

But seriously, some examples from the book:

  • What is on my premortal list of “Things to Do While on Earth?” (Uhm...?)
  • What is the one question I most need to have answered from the scriptures today? (Horses in ancient America, fer realz?)
  • How can I be more of my true self at the end of this experience? (GTFO, that's how)
  • Whose agenda is this supporting? (duh, the liberal/gay agenda)

The Messiah Series.

I actually like these sorts of books. I'm interested in scholarly insights into the life of Christ, and these books look respectable and "thorough" enough for LDS standards (I did enjoy Jesus the Christ--one of few times I didn't feel spoken down to)--but then I saw the author. Bruce R. McConkie.

LDS interpretations of Christ's life are bad enough, but dudes.

Then there are all these books and whatnot about how awesome women are--I'll say it again: If you find yourselves having to convince the women of your church that they are teh awesome, something is wrong.

And to end along the same fucked up vein as my last point: I want to cry when I see a copy of "Emma Smith: My Story"

Because it's not her story. It's just not.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Default Worship

A common meme I've heard often lately is that those who do not believe in god must worship something. You know, stuff like mammon, money, cars, status, etc. Satan.

But srsly, I must be doing something wrong because I'm at a loss. I need something to worship, y'all.

Well. Maybe lately it's Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Natalie Dormer.

Jesus. I'm gonna be so sad when Anne is beheaded. Henry was cuter when he was all punch-drunk over Anne (I know! I should be PISSED for Catherine, what an amazing lady and what a fucker Henry was--but he still loved her. You could tell. In his weird, narcissistic kingly way), and I can't...ugh. Anyways. Maybe it's more Anne. I wanted to kill Henry when--

Well. Watch the show. And don't judge! My love for the couple is irrational and goes completely against my values--

--Wait. Do I have values anymore?

Anyway, what has filled your void as far as worshiping goes? Are you power-hungry? Bow to the coffee gods? Football? I think my husband worships his fish. Damn fish. Should've known better than to get that initial "family" tank. Family tank, indeed!

What else is there. Oh who the fuck knows. Apparently humans just worship. They just do.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cookies and Dinners

I've always felt like I was a square peg forcing itself into a round hole. But to be fair, I've felt this way both in and out of the church. Very much so within, though. And since this blog deals mostly with religion:

The other day, Kiley over at We Were Going to Be Queens sought for some help regarding how to comfort suffering friends from a distance since she no longer found "I'm praying for you" to be neither honest nor sufficient.

Totally get it. Been on my mind as well.

One of my suggestions? Give her a gift certificate for a restaurant so they don't have to worry about dinner one night.

Kiley was really gracious, noting that she felt it was a good idea but also reminded me how Mormony this sounded. Dinners solve everything! So I laughed with both embarrassment and frustration that this had stayed with me--also that I still feel it's a good idea when necessary. It is nice to not have to worry about that when times are tough.

But gawwwwwwwwwd.

And you know, they are nice. I guess. I always hated bringing them because what if the receiver doesn't like what I make? And I always hated receiving them because what if I hate it? I'm a terrible actress and hardly a gracious one, wearing damn near everything on my sleeve. And let's not forget the annoyances of getting your tupperware back or returning them. So I never asked and never received unless I had just given birth and they were just given.

That was kind of our mode d'emploi with anything regarding our "need" for service. We felt we needed to balance out the people who took full advantage--you know "Hi, I know it's 8 a.m. on a Saturday and it's the only day of the week you have to get yr shit done around the house and the only time your family will see you but we are moving today and need some help could you help?"

And then, then! to discover that the moving family hadn't even bothered to fucking pack.

No, we could handle our own. We had family. We were able.

Dinners and everything just seemed like so much work. That said, we had more than one recipe added to our list after a few dinners were brought over. Sweet and sour chicken is among my favorites. The others are unavailable to us now that Eric has accepted his lactose intolerance, but still. And offering dinners yet remains a go to fantasy idea when I don't know what else to do because anything more personal is just too scary.

Then there are the cookies.

Cookies are the ever universal ice-breaker and offering of friendship. I did this, you did this, we all did this. If you can't get your foot in the door without cookies, you sure as hell should be able to with them. And they're also the great intercessory offering when you don't really want to interact with the person. Just drop 'em off at the door when you know they're not home or pretend you have to split for whatever reason.

I don't like giving gifts when the other person is there to receive. Maybe it is because I am so insecure or so ungraceful myself when I receive--I don't know how to read reactions, especially within the church where cookies are just the norm and fake smiles and thank-yous run rampant. When I give things, I generally do so rather genuinely and if the other person is there, I often allow my insecurity to find signs of annoyance or ungratefulness in the recipient even if such signs weren't there.

"Thank you so much!" could easily, by virtue of tone alone, be interpreted as "Oh...a fruitcake. How, uhm, nice. I'll put it with the others."

Also, the more ornate the packaging the better. A paper plate wrapped in plastic wrap is acceptable in a moment of desperation, but colorful cellophane is better. Tupperware is good, but a pretty basket with a card is better.

After I had Joseph, I had decided to learn to bake because it was the one thing I liked to do that other women in the church liked to do. And I knew I could be good at it. I was. I am.

Bake cookies.

But it's not as if many people in my ward knew about it--family did. Eric's co-workers certainly did, but ward members? Naw. I've never been all that proactive about these things. I made a batch for a missionary dinner, some for a really cool family who actually befriended us, but it didn't work for me, not in the way I'd hoped. I was putting a little part of me out there and got nothing in return. And I think that was the problem: I gave in the hopes of receiving--and isn't that the idea of cookies in the church?

Years before I did make snickerdoodles for my non-member neighbors who, i'll have you know, did not also receive some lame pamphlet or video or card or any bullshit like that. Not my style. Because nothing says "Hi I'm a nice person let's be friendly neighbors" than "Have some conditional friendship cookies because i'm a mormon and therefore nice YOU SHOULD BE MORMON (would you like to meet with the mishies?)"

Anyway. I baked cookies.

And I still want to give them out, but the desire is going away. Mostly because I'm lazy and a horrific procrastinator--but also because it and the dinner thing makes me feel all too Mormon. Because I feel desperate when I do. Like me please please! See? I'm just like you, I make cookies! And also because I hate cellophane (it's pretty and crinkly but terrible for the environment) and the feeling that I'm just not creative or feminine enough to make a proper plating of holiday cookies--how will my presentation be judged? I'm still learning the balance between the redneck simplicity of my youth with the self-aggrandizing basket of "goodies" for whoever, and how either makes me feel as a person.

I agree with Kiley in that these aren't necessarily bad things--cookies and dinner--but motherfuck. They make me feel dirty.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

20 Signs We Were Never Gonna Make It

1) We were always on time. Repeat: always on time.

2) Eric was never interested in hunting, fishing, et. al.

3) Eric was never interested in, as TAMN so aptly describes, law/business/dental/medical school. Teaching, psssh. That's for the weird girls we put up with who, y'know, wanna work instead of fulfill their divine roll.

4) Neither one of us enjoyed "every member a missionary" and always, always cringed at those goddamn push--er, pass-along cards.

5) I knew better than to show my parents "Together Forever" like my missionaries wanted me to. Also knew they were full of shit when they told me that the BoM was true because a prophecy made in 1 Nephi was fulfilled in 3 Nephi. In short, I did this thing called thinking. Just not enough of it, apparently.

6) One word: Questions

7) We were both pretty aware when we sounded ridiculous and moreso aware that, uhm, shouldn't that tell us something?

8) I always enjoyed more the company of members with a sketchy past than those who were always CTRing.

9) Two words: Loud laughter. In both sacred and sacred-ish places. I'll have to post on that later.

10) I had to reach deep down to ever say "I know the church is 'true'"--if I ever did at all. Same goes for Eric.

11) Eric regretfully realized on his mission that the church is more about numbers than it is about saving souls.

12) When we first began dating, a mere two months after he returned home, he was totally against us reading the scriptures together due to the cheese factor.

13) I hated Sundays.

14) Never really believed the Book of Mormon peoples to be real, historical people. Not like I believed the Biblical characters to be real, historical people. I wonder if many converts do.

15) We're not into campy shit. The Church lurves its campy shit. (this doesn't mean we don't still like some of the church's productions--"Mahana you ugly" is sometimes thrown around. That movie was so terrible.) Other examples: road shows, family Christmas programs, etc. Eric says this should also include stuff done at camp.

16) While one could attribute this to mere ignorance of propriety, I said no (gasp!) the first time I was ever asked, as Primary Secretary, to substitute for a Sunday School class. In my defense, it made no sense to ask me to teach kids anything as green as I was and it was about as last-minute as one could get. I had to say no a few times and couldn't figure out why the woman asking was so weird and insistent about it.

17) When Eric and I almost fucked up (literally! ha!) the Christmas before we were married, we weren't so worried about the "sin" but having to tell people we did it and having the news spread to family and friends and looking bad. It wasn't about offending God. It was about the lunacy of having to confess shit to people who shouldn't be any part of it.

18) Didn't appreciate being treated and spoken to like a child during the first year of my membership and while seriously investigating. Why I put up with it at all is beyond me.

19) I always felt stupid relating to others the story of Joseph Smith and always faltered at it. The story itself seemed stupid.

20) Eric and I both had zero interest in finding and fellowshipping inactives. Eric often came home after home teaching to tell me he informed his families exactly what they needed to do to get the Church off their backs as requested. I preferred to not bug those who obviously wanted to be left alone. It was a matter of respect for the both of us.

There are more I'm sure. What're yours?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Who's a Christian?

Comments regarding my last post unwittingly makes me think about what makes a "real" Christian and if it's really up to us to decide who is one and who is not one.

I've been watching/catching up with "The Tudors" lately (highly recommended) and taking issue with characters in the show who claim to know God's will. How can they decide, and how can we say they are wrong if we, too, claim to have our own version (as believers or agnostics)?

Regarding an alleged (by the show) Papal-authorized plot to kill Anne Boleyn, from a representative of the Pope to the assassin: "Angels will praise you as you enter heaven if you kill this whore."

Christian? They would certainly think so. And who would we be to question that in a religiously motivated sense--they were protecting the Church and its people. This powerful woman to-be threatened the church. Others rebelled, sure, but Henry's royal move would be too influential, too revolutionary, take too many from the flock. To kill Anne would be no different than God telling Nephi to kill Laban because "it's best that one dies to spare many." Every denomination has its own rationalizations that it would make.

See also: Abraham and Isaac.

I'm loathe to judge who is and who is not Christian because it really does depend on one's definition of "Christian" and I think it's a bit more complex than "A follower of Jesus" let alone "duh his name is included in the name of our church" or even "duh we include the Bible in our canon."

I know few people I'd consider "Christian" but again it's subjective to what I consider Christian. I like quiet people who live their faith and don't shove it in my face and who follow the more difficult examples of Christ as written in the Bible. Then again, some very close people to me to not do this, and I would never take their self-description of "Christian" away from them.

That said, their actions bug the shit out of me and I'm not entirely comfortable with their method of worship and active fear-mongering, all in the name of saving the otherwise damned. All in the name of being Christian.

But that's how they interpret the Bible. This is how they define "Christian."

The Mormons: genuinely nice people but incredibly, as Cognitive Dissenter put it, ethnocentric. Some of you will O_o at our use of the word, but it really is descriptive enough.

Unlike mainstream Christianity which effectively separates spirituality and reality of how one conducts their behavior and lives, Mormons are more active, assuring themselves and others that they are followers of Christ--faith, yes, but works are required to prove that faith.

It doesn't necessarily work, but this is how they interpret scripture. This is how they define (true) "Christian."

Back in the days when King Henry VIII broke off with the Catholic church the Catholics decided who was Christian and who was not. Even Henry did--and both by the sword. And what authority did they have? The authority they and tradition gave them, an authority they abused to absurd lengths and continue to abuse. But they believed it with all their hearts. It was genuine. They had the truth, it was irrefutable (though one could also argue it was a matter of power making for quite the insatiable hunger)

This is how they interpreted the faith. This is how they defined "Christian."

Some churches accept gay parishioners and even openly gay clergy, saying God would accept, that it's totally okay while others demand it's an abomination--against God, nature, and scripture.

Others disagree on women in the church by way of participation and leadership. Women will be in submission, they will be silent. Until 30 or so years ago women were not allowed to give a public prayer in an LDS service. You think other churches even today don't disagree with that? Speak with a Jehovah's Witness. Find an especially conservative or orthodox church.

This is how they interpret scripture. This is how they define "Christian."

There are various versions of the Bible floating around--even the Book of Mormon (see Reformed LDS). They act accordingly. This is what they believe. They is how they honestly define "Christian."

Are they any different than those cults with leaders who literally get their followers to live on communes and drink the kool-aid (that's not just a saying, in case you didn't know)? Any different than Westboro Baptist Church? Of course they're evil bastards, but they read scripture differently and interpret "Christian" another way.

I could go on, but in the end here is my point:

Anyone and everyone has and will say they have whatever authority to determine who is a "real" Christian and who is not and what actions prove such an affiliation. The interpretation is based on individual and collective experience and knowledge--even personality and culture. History.

Too many factors make deciding who is right and who is Christian far too beyond our reach, yet we insist upon it. We insist upon it, also, given only what we know: a book of scripture canonized by a circle of men with their own perceptions and motivations, including political ones. We insist upon it even though what we have is minimal. We insist upon it even though much of what is in the Bible is hearsay. We act as mind-readers. We accept and reject--all of us. We know nothing except what we have, and I don't think this is wrong because we cannot help what we do not know (to a certain degree) by way of Biblical history--we can only act on what we know, but we cannot act as if it is all we need to know. We should at least qualify it, which some do! but not nearly enough.

I just read a quote on my reader that resonated with me with regard to this post. The speaker is Jack Pryor (random dude on FB quoted by my feed):

Taking a set of facts and forming an opinion is alright; taking a set of opinions and forming a fact is dishonest...

Who is and who is not Christian strikes me as more opinion than fact. Is it analogous to who is a "Real" American and who is not? It gets dicey because it becomes and is a matter of condemning or condoning ones morality, and being a good person shouldn't be and isn't an exclusive trait of Christianity.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meaningless LDS Memes: Are you Christian?

Okay. I'm on a rampage, apparently. Just discovered that my old Institute "support specialist" (ie: secretary) has a profile on Mormon.org. The link to it is unnecessary to this post, just know that one answer provided inspiration.

Question: "Are Mormons Christian?"

Member: "Of course we are! Duh, it says Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints on all our church buildings."

While not perfect, this answer strikes me as analogous to "I'm not racist, I have a black friend."

That answer doesn't mean anything.

But, you know, whatever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

dum dum dum dum dum


I just read this on a friend's facebook wall and it reminded me of so many other encounters I've had with friends of my own. Names are withheld. I imagine many of you will have your own stories to share and so this will hardly be unfamiliar.

I don't know you. My son-in-laws are wonderful parents and I love them very much! They were not given the blessing of being raised in the church, so they don't have the wonderful plan of salvation in their lives yet (i always loved this little addition of "yet"). Some learned and have accepted it , and some are still learning. I do want a forever family with ALL of my children and grandchildren, This only comes with the gospel, nothing else will get us there. I hope only you and [redacted] all the best. I love her and only want the things she desires the most for her. I am sorry [redacted] you felt I was attacking you, I sincerly [sic] am sorry if you felt this way. I know how hard it is to live in this crazy world and not have doubts. But I know I could not face it with out the joy of the gospel to make it to the end. Enduring to the end is so hard, we all struggle with trials. May you find peace, and I do love you even if you don't believe it. I know [redacted] loves you and she is a wise woman. So looked to the coming season of peace and joy and may God bless you!

It's an art form, I swear.

(H) provided me with much fodder, and until just recently I just had no idea her knee-jerk reactions and passive-aggression was so common in the church (duh, says Eric). She demonstrated as such in many emails, blog comments, and fb wall posts. An example can be found in her response to an early post I wrote back in 2008 on Liberal Mormon that Could entitled "This is what it's about"

So Lisa, I've been thinking of your blog, and a funny thing happened. I was talking to some friends and every single one of them plus some family members have had their signs stolen. Signs that are yes on prop 8. I'm wondering what your take is on these few thoughts and then I have to get my kids into bed. The people who are taking these signs are obviously not in support of prop 8. This is a coordinated effort on some level, all over town signs are being stolen from peoples yards. Here is my question. If people are willing to come onto my property and take something because they feel strongly about it, even though it seems harmless enough what about if prop 8 fails. What if a certain church still refuses to recognize or perform those unions. Do you honestly think that the church or congregation that attends would be left unscathed from grafitti [sic] or I don't know harrassment [sic]? This is only one of the ways this will affect church members and it's not pretty. If they are willing to steal, what else might they be willing to do with "the law on their side?" What is your opinion? I'm really curious! Even though I disagree, I really enjoy reading your thoughts when I can. Maybe you could use your obvious talent for writing in defence [sic] of the church or maybe sharing your testimony, I bet you would make grown men cry by using your talents in such a noble way!! You truly have a gift not just for writing but for organizing your thoughts. Bravo!!! Ohhh... are you going to stake conference? I'll look for you if you are!

Went from some weird, accusatory diversion with absolutely ZERO logic from the original post to a "hey, you are so awesome and so talented--could you maybe use that for the church? See you there!"

Hey, fuck you.

And uhm, how did she do that? Because I'm still kicking myself for placating her in a following post. WTF did I feel I had to prove? She's tricksy, she is. All of them are if you don't realize what's going on.

Later, and I'm not sure when and I don't want to peruse all my old posts for it (there are many) but at some point another girl in my stake popped in out of nowhere and said "Now we're not all that bad, are we?"

I mean, really? REALLY?

The nicety thing is a diversion. Someone calls them on something and suddenly it's "can't we all just get along?"

Then there are the people I'd known for years, people who were my closest friend at one point, people like Squeaky, who cover their ears and say they can't talk to me anymore. I'm not sure which one I prefer the most. I actually have some respect for (H) reading my stuff even after it was clear I wasn't going back. Then again, a few months ago she asked for my blog address she had since lost with an immediate follow up of "but I can't handle it." Kind of like how she defriended me and then later asked, after I informed her she could've just "hid" me (which is what i did to her b/c i did care about keeping up but my blood pressure couldn't handle constant exposure to her ignorant bullshit--she feels the same way about me), "hey i'd like to be fb friends again. could you remind me how to 'hide'?"

Uhm, no.

I haven't responded to her latest email following my son being in her nursery class. She lauded me for having such a great boy and how I "must be doing something right." I want so much to give her the benefit but after all our encounters it just screams bitch. Like she meant "for an apostate." Who knows. I think she's more concerned with me not liking her than anything else, and I'm tired of that game. I've told her a few times we're fine but she keeps it up and by doing so makes things not so fine. Lady, I got other people to baby. I'm not going to bother with a grown woman who insists that everyone on the fucking planet likes her so she can feel good and sew ritechous because everyone, even the sad apostates, like her. Her niceness isn't genuine though I'm sure she thinks it is. But it's not. It's another form of emotional and mental manipulation, and I'm done. I deal with enough of that from my own non-member family, thx, enough to merit therapy.

But I'm sure y'all have similar experiences of super nice "friends" but their words are laced with a tinge of...what is it.

Bitchiness. That's what.

It's a missionary response. See also Eliza Snitch's post, "quaint correspondence." Same shit.

I hate missionary responses. I've heard enough of them. I hated them as an investigator. I hated them as a member, especially when I was asked to perform for an investigator or "inactive" member. Jesus. I'm sure I did it a few times, but for the most part I just wanted to scream.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


From "It Can't Happen to Me," James E. Faust, Liahona July 2002

History is full of examples of men who were gifted and able but who, in a moment of weakness, threw away their promising lives. King David is a tragic example. As a youth he was handsome, brave, and full of faith. He slew the frightening giant, Goliath. He became king. He had everything a man could desire. Yet when he saw Bathsheba, he wanted her even though she was another man’s wife. He had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, sent to the front of the hottest battle so that he would be killed. Uriah died in battle, and David married Bathsheba. As a consequence of this evil deed, David lost his spiritual inheritance. 3 For all the good David accomplished, much of it was negated because he allowed himself to succumb to a serious personal flaw.

Does this sound familiar to ANYONE ELSE?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speak, the movie

You know what? Fuck it.

Remember the post I wrote about the incredible book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson? (yes I push this thing like it were my bible, but there's something amazing about this book. i think it was the part at the end where the author writes that the most surprising reactions she received regarding the book were all the boys who asked her "what's the big deal?")

I watched the movie this weekend. It starred Twilight's Kristen Stewart, and I'll admit part of why I wanted to see the movie is because of her. I wanted to see another aspect of her acting (next I plan to see The Runaways). My husband remarked during the movie that she had been typecast--another depressed, awkward girl who hates the snow.

But in this case, Melinda Sordino (the character she played) had every reason to be depressed and hate everything. She had been raped by a boy she went to school with and had to see every day. A boy who would pass her by and call her "fresh meat." A boy who literally loomed over her as he spoke with her table-mates. A boy who cornered her in a classroom. A boy who moved on to date her ex-best friend.

I gave the movie 3 out of 5 stars if only because the book is ten times better, if not more, and I had some concerns about logistics. My initial reaction was one of disillusionment, but now I want to watch it again. There were some amazing scenes--the rape scene itself was frightening. The boy ignored her pleas, did his thing, and just left her alone like she was nothing. The scariest thing is that, if you didn't know, you'd think he was a good guy. Hot, funny, charming, easy to like. An older boy expressing interest in a younger, more naive girl, a boy who had a propensity for saying all the right things. And he did ask if she wanted to. That's all you have to do, right? I mean, she went with him to his truck. She kissed him like she wanted to go further. That's consent enough, yeah?

And he was so easy to like. I mean to the point where you even begin to think--after the fact--"maybe he's not so bad."

And that's the point.

Throughout the movie, unlike the book, Melinda has flashbacks to the night. I thought this particular mode of storytelling was incredibly effective in the movie. In the book you don't know what happened until about halfway to 3/4 of the way in. Until that point, she is just a very depressed, weird girl who doesn't talk much and has lost her best friends. I felt for her, because that's how I was. It frightened me to think how I would've reacted had something worse happened to me than what did.

The worst part, though, is how her family and teachers treated her. Her family had their own issues. Her father was jobless, her mother seemed...stressed and depressed herself. They were worried about, though annoyed by their daughter. Her best friends ditched her in anger because she called the cops the night she was raped and they came to break up the party. Nobody knew the real reason the cops were called. It wasn't to break up the party. Seeing it was worse than reading it.

At one point, once the cops arrived (without being told why--they thought it was a neighbor calling to complain), Melinda's best friend, angry, slapped her. Bitch, why did you call the cops? Why did you ruin my night?

SHE SLAPPED HER. After the poor thing had been raped. Shit. You. Not. Her friend didn't know, but Melinda knew. Every single viewer knew. It was powerful.

I think that attitude by so many people who should have noticed, should have cared but rather understandably didn't, struck me as hard as the rape scene did. It was a lesson to be learned. We grow up and we forget so easily. We are so caught up in our own shit that we can’t see past the ends of our noses. I will venture to say this happens to every parent, every friend, every authority figure. We are human. We have ill-timed moments of selfishness and self-centeredness.

Artistically speaking, the movie brought to light a few things I didn't see in the book. Her perceptions of her teachers, how she treated others, how she saw her parents. When she was at her worst, so were they. In the beginning, her English teacher was a mess. By the end, she was a put together woman, someone the kids would respect. Her history teacher was a fucking asshole, but by the end found empathy and treated her softly. The world was evil and unrelentingly hard on her.

Before I realized this, the movie pissed me off. I hate these stories featuring kids with ridiculously stupid adults. I get it--kids think adults are stupid, but this is supposed to be a realistic interpretation of life. I don't appreciate caricatures, but this wasn't like that. This was almost projection of what was going on inside.

The movie did seem to drag on a bit. Not a hell of a lot happened for a good long time, but the flashbacks broke the monotony to keep you interested. Melinda didn't talk much. Nobody expressed a real interest in what was wrong, just told her to get over it. That it was a phase.

The beginning was terribly annoying.

"What's your name?"

"Melinda Sordino."


"Melinda Sordino."

Ad nauseum. I yelled at the television: WE GET IT. For god's sake.

But the point was made early on in the movie. Parents, friends, teachers: if your child goes from happy, functional, and an all-around sociable person with a ton of friends to a quiet girl who does weird shit like drawing stitches on her mouth and doesn't talk much and has no friends within a short, almost immediate period of time, there is likely something very wrong. Don't dismiss it. Don't say stupid shit like "it'll get better" "just smile" or even worse "i understand." Because the fact is, you very well may not.

Or you might and just not know it. Even if you're going through your own tragedies, this child matters more.

And the movie gave girls who had gone through these things someone to relate with. It was incredibly realistic in this way. And again, the rape scene was terrifying. The fact that this boy went on to date others and charm everyone else and just seem like another decent guy was terrifying. Couple it with the fact that too few people see the problem in a rape, that it's almost normalized (how often do you hear the statistics? how often do you hear about how boys will be boys? were you ever a young girl who had older-boy/man fantasies? how often do you hear shit like "she asked for it" or that guys just can't help themselves, that it's up to the girls to control men by the way they dress? How much is the message of what is rape confusing, etc etc ETC)

In all, Kristen Stewart did a pretty slamming job of playing the part. The important basics of the story were kept fairly whole. Nobody ever would have pinned the guy as a rapist. And in every school there is at least one "weird" depressed girl who doesn't necessarily dress in black but is quiet and generally and uncharacteristically withdrawn, the girl (or boy) we dismiss because they're "that age" and everyone is depressed and angsty and they'll get over it. Or, even better, we become frustrated with them because of that. Goddamn teenagers. We have our own shit to deal with, what the fuck, you know? They need to grow up and get over it.

And yes, the rape scene was absolutely necessary, despite what others may think, because too many people don't get it. Again, we forget so easily. We need a good slap in the face. This is where I believe the church and those who gasp at such things are dangerously wrong. In our minds we begin to see the world as too good. It’s not a bad thing to think of people as generally good, but we need to be aware as well for the sake of ourselves, our friends, and our family.

We need to pay attention to our kids and to each other. Period. Treat others the way we’d like to be treated. We need to take care of each other.

In all, I'd recommend you read the book first and yes, see the movie. It's completely worth it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New CHI, whatev

So the CHI (Church Handbook of Instructions) has been updated. And changed. To avoid making this post even longer while hijacking another's post, I will redirect any interested and uninformed peoples to Project Mayhem's post.

The following was initially purposed as a comment on Irresistible (Dis)Grace's blog post today, but I thought y'know, I wax on and on. I'll just post a response here:

I tend to agree with those opinions that state this is more a matter of saying things in a different, seemingly more open-minded way as to corral those on the brink into coming back, if even for a little bit. Those who have left the church and still feel the sting tend to be cynical and suspicious--I fall under this umbrella. But at the same time, who knows. I don't necessarily feel the need to explore this all that much because it won't change a damn thing for me. I've no plans to go back, even if they suddenly receive another convenient revelation about how gay people are totes okay with god and all this bullshit GBLTQ members have dealt with for decades upon decades is mere "policy." Y'know. Like with the "Lamanite" members until fucking 1978. Because, despite what they may tell themselves, that's not entirely why I left. While I believe in gay rights and find the church's actions reprehensible, I left because of what it represented.

The change is rather interesting following Packer's talk (heavily edited following actual talk, of which you can see here) considering that as Irresistible (Dis)Grace discusses, conservative opinion is given free-reign while any iota of liberal opinion is gasped at. Nobody knows if Packer received any sort of behind-the-scenes chastising, and if so we'll never hear about it. And the membership wouldn't care--too many agree with him. Too many don't see the problem. But the liberal members do. The questioning members do. Those on the brink of inactivity or even lesser activity do. That said, I think this new, nuanced version of the CHI may appeal to both in the active and to those who have their first real doubts.

But, y'know, if it's real progress it's progress. It won't do much for me as a person who doesn't necessarily believe in god anymore and sees far too much ill to come of any sort of mainstream religion--be it mainstream Christianity or Mormonism. Even if the church does liberalize by way of GBLTQ issues, it's going to take a LONG time for the more conservative membership who make up the vast majority of the church to accept it not only in their minds but in their hearts.

Maybe one day we'll get to the point where it's a lot like the relationship the church has with its women, separate but equal, and the active gay LDS community will chomp at the bit to convince both themselves and outsiders--I dunno. They do that now. At least at first. But the more they feel accepted and supported, the more they'll fight to stay in despite the basic and fundamental life experiences they will be denied as a result. Because the ultimate goal is to bring people to god and to live for death. Because God only loves those who keep his legion of commandments even if it makes them miserable enough to kill themselves.

So, separate but equal? Maybe that's how one could describe the situation today. But who knows. It isn't any better, but try telling a fully indoctrinated member that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I've concluded that being Mormon sets a person back about 5-10 years. At least. More the longer you're in. The more Molly or Peter you are.

I mean, seriously. Eric and I are just discovering some of these shows.

At first we watched That 70s Show but quickly decided it was rather unworthy for our delicate eyes and ears. We didn't really subscribe to cable back in those days as it was, so it was that or Dharma and Greg which as I remember was a fantastic show.

But I digress.

These days we're watching shows like Arrested Development, Flight of the Conchords, catching up a bit on South Park (at least I am--it was brand new for him), Curb Your Enthusiasm, Big Love, True Blood, etc. The Tudors. There's more. I just can't think for shit lately--but you get the idea.

GOOD SHOWS. And movies, too. I gave up on good movies right around the time that American Beauty came out. I was in my room when my family watched that show because I knew it was unworthy. God. Still have yet to watch that one.

I don't get it. We were too busy watching crap reality shows when this stuff was on. Stuff we never would've watched.

At least we had Gilmore Girls--when Rory and Paris didn't have their little girl-on-girl kiss during Spring Break. Like Seinfeld when they weren't having "The Contest"--which we now find absolutely hilarious.

I know in the eternal scheme of things this is rather lame, but I'm just now getting all the one-liners.

My favorite so far:

you know what time it is when i'm down to just my socks? it's time for business. that's why they're called business socks.

A friend of mine had the last bit on her MySpace page. I didn't get it. I thought she was being random. No. Flight of the Conchords. For reals, people. Watch the show.

Then again, maybe you already have.

Or not?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open a fucking book, plz.

We elect these people, so today's post title is a reminder to us all, not just the fucktards we put in positions of influence and power.

Global Warming Denier Shimkus Hoping for Top Spot on Energy Committee

It's plant food ... So if we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere? ... So all our good intentions could be for naught. In fact, we could be doing just the opposite of what the people who want to save the world are saying.

Yeah, idiot, because plants never existed before humans came around and figured out how to work fossil fuels. Nevermind that fossil fuels are buried remains of ancient plants that have been transformed by heat and pressure into coal and oil. Nevermind that all this bullshit about how we should continue to rape the land for our own benefit is the only way to ensure our quality of life (for how long?) and for our own wallets.

Capitalism, baby!

Why search for better? We're fine just where we are. Anything else is just elitist (that's asshole for "educated").

Even his Bible says otherwise, as to when plants were formed with relation to when humans were formed. WTF?

Oh, but his Bible comes in handy elsewhere:

"The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood."

I don't even know where to begin, but I know he isn't the only one sitting pretty in this particular and rather convenient belief. Forget about being stewards of the land--though maybe his interpretation is different. God bless interpretation. Sigh.

And as far as no climatic changes after THE FLOOD, wha?

I don't get this shit. THE FLOOD wasn't a climatic change. It was punishment from God, his wiping out all but one family for the world's unrighteous behavior. God had had enough, so he killed them all. One flood, one month, poof! Hardly a climatic change. Natural disaster, maybe. But as far as we can tell, it wasn't a worldwide event.

The problem is that this sounds completely rational to those who have voted for him. It makes people feel better, I assume, to think they shouldn't have to take jack shit for responsibility for their actions.

I have to wonder if this particular politician believes anything he says. It's akin to my hunch about Sarah Palin: she's not so much stupid as she is conniving. He knows who voted for him. He knows the political demographics of his state, what words would benefit him most for job security. This doesn't make him any better, but I do wonder.

In the end, these people want us to sacrifice for the ginormous deficit by way of cuts to education and whatnot (which is an investment with a return), but they won't fucking cut their own interests. We sacrifice, they don't. We are taxed, they aren't. They want to encourage the fuck up of our world because their God is totes cool with it. They refuse to consider what is best because that takes work and compromise and a goddamn release of their own stubbornness and pride. We're supposed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but don't ask them to. They're not there to work. They're there to make ridiculous postulations about things they know nothing about to satisfy their base and special interests in order to secure their job once elections roll around again. Money, honey.

Also, South Park may make fun of hybrids and "smug" (they are no respecter of persons when it comes to satire), but I cannot tell you how many people I know and love who laugh at that because it's so true. In the interest of disclosure, I laughed too. But I laughed because it's fucking South Park and "smug" never got anyone anywhere. But that's not to say everyone concerned about the environment is smug. Just trying.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was never one to rip something apart just to figure out how it worked. I just never was that kid.


On our drive home from San Francisco the other night, Eric and I had yet another discussion about faith as it relates to both religion and science. Some of you may think after previous posts that I feel science relieves me of the need for faith as it provides much proof. I thought perhaps this was the case as well, but after going through a few surprisingly interesting discussions on faith during my stint in the clink and after discussions with Eric I know (oh god, that word)--rather, I feel this isn't true anymore.

Again! Must...get...vocab...out...of...brain.

During the summer after high school, I felt an interest in attending a Christian college, learning Hebrew, and seeing the original Biblical texts for myself because I wanted to know for myself. I had to know everything and not trust in what preachers told me. I knew because I had experienced that every preacher and every church in every denomination generally taught varying things. Knowing this is part of what drew me to the LDS church--it was the same everywhere.

So I felt a need to know everything. I knew it was a difficult if not impossible task, but I wanted to try.

Then I read the BYUish codes I had to agree to to get into such colleges (Bethany, in particular) and couldn't even pretend. I didn't believe in the Trinity. I didn't believe in the Nicene Creed. Dead before I even stepped in the door.

The LDS church answered all my questions for me anyways. The KJV was the bestest out there. Living and breathing prophets had spoken with god. These stories were recent, a plus in my book.

Anyway, so you join and you know everything. Woo! (even though you don't, shh!)

Enter disaffection and apostasy and suddenly you're faced with the fact that you don't know shit, jack. I thought I was okay with this. A lot of people, I've found, find a great deal of comfort in this. Then I began to learn a little bit more about my world, about life's history and development and past. Hardly enough to make me an expert but enough to make me blink a couple times.

Then Eric, having gone through a rather rigorous math program, told me he feels he knows enough to take care of the possibility of there being a god. He is an atheist in the sense that he feels chances are slim to none, and he'll just live his life as a good person.

I discussed this a little bit here, and quite a few balked. Nobody wants to say they "know" anymore, and I completely understand this. I had learned I know nothing, something I still feel to this day. But not in a comforting sense. I'm hardly comforted by this.

It's a lot of pressure for me, personally, to know nothing. I'm surrounded by people who know so much. I don't understand how Eric is so educated on so many things. People in general. I don't get where I got off the boat. I feel rather stupid, to put it bluntly.

So I want to know more.

I've been feeling an immense need and intense internal pressure to learn everything there is to know about evolutionary biology, about genetics, about history. But I'm not a biology major, nor will I be one. My love is for English. And I hate lab. While I feel a fascination and a love for biology, I don't have the fucking time to go back and get my math and chemistry taken care of JUST so I can get my biology minor. I'm working my ass off in just this one class to get a good grade. I'd kill myself later. It wouldn't happen. I figure I'll just watch shows with Eric and read a few books. I'd rather minor in history, anyways.

But still, y'all, I want to know more.

So I spoke with Eric about that. There are plenty of people out there (a very small group by comparison I'm told) who are, I assume, non-religious and who don't accept the theory of evolution and natural selection. I do not include the crazy folk over at the Creation Museum, by the way.

But I want to know their side. I want to know what it is that is keeping this from being fact. In my heart, I'm a debater. I have to know both sides. I have to consider everything so I'm not a schmuck who just falls in with the popular crowd.

Eric and the scientific community at large tells me I don't have to know the other side. It just is. It's so close to fact that I may as well consider it fact. Like humans' responsibility for global warming.

There's that word again. Fact. Know.

But there's a bit of faith involved, isn't there? Faith in my books, my professor, science. Is it much different than faith in a book of ancient scripture? Theologians? People who claim to have a direct batphone to god?

Well, that last one probably not. But theologians--they're historians as well, yeah? They understand context. It's part of the reason I loved Jesus the Christ and whatever classes they offered years ago in my stake that went into the nitty gritty (the stuff my institute director told me was "too deep" for my greenie convert self to handle. asshole) that they have, surprise! since discontinued.

In the end, however, you have to have faith. Faith, my old LDS Institute Friday Night Forum discussion said, even to turn on the fucking faucet.

I can accept some things. I have to accept some things: there is evidence for evolution. A lot of it. Science explains, proves, predicts. Every single one of us, I think, as a function of not knowing anything, have faith in science, though. We don't know how some things work, but we figure that someone does. Someone figured it out or will figure it out. We leave it to them. We have faith.

There is no solid evidence for god, which is what makes him/her/it an exclusive matter of faith. But people will still try. They point to the Bible, their personal spiritual experiences, speaking in tongues and crazy coincidences and feelings and by making maps and anthropology, digs and history, by reconstructing Noah's Ark. Even the Mormons, who by lip-service shy away from evidence because that's not with faith is, will seek evidence to prove something to their non-member friends and family. To convince themselves that their warm fuzzies have merit.

Because there's intuition, too. What does science say about intuition?

But while I can say with great confidence that there is no Santa who travels the world in a single night and drops off presents for all the good boys and girls, that there are no fairies (my teenage self sniffs), etc--I can't for sure say much more than that. I'm pretty certain god never sent an angel with a flaming sword to Joe Smith to threaten him with his life if he didn't marry a fourteen-year-old girl behind his wife's back, and despite how she will feel and what she says. I want nothing to do with a god who dismisses his daughters' feelings of self-worth for his own benefit.

Eric says science is better because I can look it up. I can find the answers. In religion, I have to feel out the answers, have faith in something that has little to no backup. Sure King Solomon had a temple--beyond that?

But even scientists don't know everything.

Faith is in that which you cannot look up. Faith in the divine is what seems to have constructed religion when there were no answers.

With time, answers come.

But, like myself, is it possible to ever know everything? Because if not, then what?

Then, I think, faith becomes a matter of trust.

I feel I behave as an atheist these days, but I still have these questions and need to know because I don't want to be duped again. My faith, however, needs to be in myself and not in some divine creature I know absolutely nothing about.

I can cherry-pick teachings and apply them to my life, but beyond that I can't dedicate myself to something divine anymore. And I know it's a bit of blasphemy for many that I want to know, but I do. I know I won't ever know enough to never need faith, but I'm struggling lately with the need to get there anyway.

At least that's how I feel this week.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Take out yr Bibles, plz.

At the hotel Eric and I stayed at during the weekend, we found the Gideon's Bible. So I checked it out. It wasn't my first time, but it was my first time as an apostate.

People, their little guides do nothing to bring souls to God. Fer realz. I especially love the highlighted scriptures that these people and so many others use to tell people they are trash and god is awesome. Just admit that and you're in!

Under "Practical Precepts" and "Consequences of Forgetting God" we find this bullshit:

(Hosea 4:1-11 for those righteous enough to follow along. Here are my favorite parts. Emphasis mine):

5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children...11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Yeah. Sounds awesome. Leave my kids out of this.

And while we're at it--knowledge?


I'm hoping I'm missing context here, but I've seen this stuff elsewhere.

Also, throw the "fact" that Mary Magdalene was the first to see Christ after his resurrection all you want but that doesn't erase the fact that every time something bad is mentioned in teh scriptures it's described as a whore, harlot, whatever. Misogyny at its very best.

Rock on, god.

SF Trip

There's so much to say, but for today I'm going to keep it to a short summary of my trip yesterday:

I was fortunate to meet Donna of Ward Gossip and a few other couples yesterday at a meeting of post-mormons at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I'll admit I wasn't entirely sure what to expect and I think it took both my husband and I a moment to adjust.


Blood and flesh and bone and whatever people bitching about the church! In front of me! Weird! I see it online all the time, but I never ever ever see or hear it in person. Not with knowledgeable people. Insiders. People who are obviously hurting. I feel so alone here, which is the reason for this blog--but there are others out there. It's so good to know.

We met next to a Peet's Coffee (and a book store--oh how I wish we had time and money!) and then Donna broke out the champagne to toast one of the absent members, who, I believe, just welcomed a new baby into the world (thank you for the champagne, Donna!). Eric and I were the youngest as far as how long it has been since we've gone inactive.

It is incredibly sad and maddening what the church does to its disenchanted members. It robs people of things both physical and not. It turns adults into children.

...Well, it treats its adults like children so I suppose that isn't entirely surprising.

I especially liked that Eric was able to vent a little bit. I wasn't sure if he'd jump in or not, but he really enjoyed himself.

My children stayed, as you know, with my SIL and headed off to church with them. I wondered how they'd do--namely if they'd be excited about it or want to go back.

The verdict? Abbie was more thrilled about the snacks and having her hair straightened and being virtual twins with her cousin. Church, she said with exasperation, was "boring!" But more specifically primary.

Jason didn't say much. Joseph told us that he learned about Jesus and had cookies. I wanted to ask him what he thought about Jesus, but as he didn't take it any further, I left it alone. It was late and he fell asleep in the car about five seconds later anyway.

When I checked all my stuff on the computer later that night, I discovered an email from H (Glenn Beck lovin' tea parting...you get the idea). She taught Joseph's class and said that he is just such a polite and nice boy and I must be doing something right!

Now my more cynical side says "for an apostate?" but I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. She means well. It was a compliment. As insane and extremist and naive as she is, she does always mean well and has always tried to be respectful. Sometimes I think we're more alike than not and that's why we butt heads. What tickles me is how I saw her a few weeks ago at my niece's birthday party and she said "hi" and left me alone for the rest of the time she was there. I dunno. She followed my last blog and after a while told me she couldn't handle it anymore. Happens.

But! good trip. Great people. Eric got to see more of San Francisco than he's ever seen--I can't believe he's never been through Golden Gate Park. Now he wants to take the kids there. On the way back, we drove through the Castro District (it's not hard to realize you're in the Castro District OR Haight-Ashbury--not the people so much, but the plethora of rainbow flags). Also saw where a friend of mine works and wanted to stop by, but we were late as it was. Next time.

Oh--one last thing. I'm 99.999% sure SIL and her husband know we don't go to church anymore. Apparently they decided to look through old boxes of their son's old church suits and dressed up my boys in it. God, I miss my boys and my man in a suit. So handsome. Anyway, as we were leaving Jason asked if he could keep the suit. I double-checked with SIL's husband and he said "y'know, it doesn't matter to me. I don't know how often you'll use them, but I don't care." It was clear he knew we just don't have a regular need for church clothes.

They're very cool about it. One reason I wasn't sure if she knew is because, historically, when she's upset she wears it on her sleeve but won't talk about it. She's been nothing but normal lately.

I don't know how we lucked out. Especially after hearing some of the stories at the group. Everyone needs my in-laws as their family. Their silence makes me nervous sometimes, and I'm sure they think it's just a phase as they've seen so often in others, but I'm grateful to not have to experience what so many have to experience. It really is awful--abusive and hateful and totally antithetical to what these members claim to embrace. These member families and friends are scared. I saw and experienced some of that from my own family when I joined. Being scared doesn't justify it or make it easier by any means, but it explains it a little. I hope for all of you who experience abusive reactions that time will help to heal, or that at the very least you'll find family and friends of your own who will be a support to you that you need. What I've lost is nothing compared to what others are losing.

As much as I enjoyed myself at the meeting yesterday, it made me wonder if I need more of a Post-Christianity group. As far as I could tell, everyone there was a lifetime member. As much as I embraced and internalized teh gospel, I've always known something else. I may have never wanted to go back to that, I may still be scared of it, but I've always known there was a world outside the church. And, not to say it the way it'll sound, I've always had a bit of a mind of my own. That's something.

Religion turns adults into scared little kids. I'm done with that shit.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Animals on Logs

Y'all have to read this. It might piss a few of you off, but jesus:

From STFU Conservatives (I lurve the STFU tumblrs) regarding a Creation Museum exhibit:

When the Flood destroyed the world's forests, it must have left billions of trees floating for centuries on the ocean. These log mats served as ready-made rafts for animals to cross oceans. These paths of ocean currents, carrying those rafts, would explain (similar animals and plants on opposite sides of oceans).

I'll let you all react on your own. I can't without sounding like a self-righteous bitch.

ANYWAY I saw my former Stake President the other day as my son and I entered a grocery store. One of the kindest men I know, but I freaked out. I avoided him so he wouldn't recognize me.

WTF, everyone? He's my ex-roomie's FIL. Surely he knows something? He wouldn't be anything but nice, I'm sure of it.

I dunno. I don't get it. There are very few people, if any, who elicit reactions like that from me anymore.

Also: Headed to the Post-Mo gathering tomorrow in San Francisco--looking forward to meeting Donna of the hilarious Ward Gossip, woo!

What's weird, though, is that my kids are staying with my SIL while we're gone. I love SIL to death, as some of you may know, but they're pretty stringent about church and stuff and the kids will be there tomorrow. They know they're going to church, and they're okay with it. Which is cool. I don't want to freak out. Abbie had a bit of a freak out at first, but I let her know it was okay. I don't want her to fear or hate believers (as long as they're respectful and don't tell her she's going to hell--because then it's on, bitches). But that doesn't mean I'm not uncomfortable with it. Maybe we'll talk about it the next day.

I wonder if my mom remembers as clearly as I do the day she asked me how I'd feel if my kids one day decided to be Jehovah's Witnesses. I told her I'd deal with it, which is all you can do, but I have the same thoughts today about whether they'll ever decide to "return to their roots" in a sense. I wouldn't know how to explain it to them, to warn them. This is just something you have to learn on your own, but it can be such a costly lesson.

They all remember church. The older two especially, but Joseph too. I fully expect for us to be outed this weekend, especially since Abbie has decided she looooves coffee and will tell anyone about it (she never gets more than a sip or two, but she loooves it). They'll likely also tell someone or a few someones in the family that we no longer attend or that she's not getting baptised (which is totally okay with her--she's never ever looked forward to that) since she'll turn eight in about six months.

It should be interesting. But good, too. They need other kids to play with.

For me, I'm just looking forward to a break. First I'm going to visit a friend and then hopefully hang with some awesome folks at the Ferry Building tomorrow close to the Wharf. You should stop by if you're close--the gathering will be from 2-4pm. I'll likely be the shortest chica in the room.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I can't seem to see very much outside the frame of my relationship with religion these days, and this song is no different.

But it raises a different question: lyrics or music? I'm a lyrics girl, myself. But I do appreciate good music as well.

I Feel Weird
Steel Train, "Trampoline" (2007)

When I was eighteen everything was alive
Then the planes hit the towers
Then she died and he died
A part of me disappeared six feet in the ground
A million miles in the sky a fire burns,
A fire burns, a fire burns and it is mine

And I did what I did
What we did to survive
Five whole years of my life I spent mourning you and why?
Girl you're still alive
But you're too dead to keep inside
You take the years, you keep it all, I finally think I might be alright

So let's just let it all go cause nothing can change
And if something is lost then there's something to frame
I just sing what I have
And I got this girl, not yet crushed by the world
I'll count the freckles on her face one, two, three hundred times a day

And sing a new song
Something I'd never hear
It's better love that I found, bigger love that you fear
So deep inside me, hot in this frozen cave
Her fire burns, her fire burns, her fire burns and it is brave

When I was eighteen everything was alive
Then the planes hit the towers
Then she died, then he died
A part of me disappeared six feet in the ground
A million miles in the sky a fire burns,
A fire burns, and I just let it all go

I won't fear change
And if something is lost then there is something to frame
I'll just sing what I have in the heavens above
In the song in the sky a fire burns,
A fire burns, a fire burns and its for you

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WTF, god?

I'm pretty empty of inspiration these days, and what I can get out of me doesn't end up all that cohesive. So I thought I'd take an oldie but a goodie from my livejournal account.

From August 10, 2009

I prided myself in my intuition, if you would call it that. Fellow LDS would consider it the spirit of discernment. I was a Mormon psychic, in a way. But I loved how I just knew things. I knew I'd be married before I could even put in my papers for a mission--and I knew I would marry Eric specifically before I even met him. I can't explain it. Not even now.

But this--this came only five months after Jason was born. Our little red Kia sped along Highway 680 to Oakland to participate in the temple endowment session; Eric was at the wheel, my eyes were fixed on the rolling landscape around us. The car was quiet.

Then, it seemed, the world around me slowed and cleared, and I knew I was supposed to have another baby. Soon.

Abbie was eight months old when we decided to have Jason. The pregnancy with Jason proved more difficult, probably by virtue of having a toddler around, still in diapers. Not to mention the severe case of baby blues I suffered with after he was born--we had just returned home from a hospital in Sacramento where Abbie underwent surgery and dealt with some complications. And my family was not as excited about Jason's arrival, so nobody was at the hospital. Jason came early, too, just by a week but enough to make it impossible. Eric had to work nights during that week, not to mention a full load at school. I was alone with a new baby. When Abbie was born, she was taken away at twelve hours old to a new hospital, and so I had no idea what to do with a newborn baby boy. The nurses certainly weren't of any help.

It became increasingly difficult to find a reason to get out of bed.

So with my revelation--almost as strong, if not stronger than the one I had regarding Eric--came astonishment. Add to the mix a very personal but very universe shattering experience I will not discuss here, and I just wanted to be done for a while. To be normal. To be a parent to the two kids I had--two kids I'm almost comfortable enough to say came from expectation and probably a dash of immaturity rather than so-called "revelation." This time I didn't want to be pregnant again. I didn't want to go through the bullshit.

But Eric said he had the same impression. Without my pressing for it.

We were taught to never question God's will, that the faithful follow without hesitation. I was a martyr, after all. It lent an air of strength, of resiliency. I had always taken a certain pride in doing impossible things, and this was in so many ways an impossible request. I figured the impression was so strong as to overshadow my doubt. This was a must.

Still, it brought me to tears and a few screaming sessions. I tried to rationalize something else. Maybe we could wait. God wouldn't want this for me. Not now. Besides, we couldn't afford it. Eric didn't have a job that would support three kids. His employer had just made it crystal clear his chances for promotion were slim to not-a-chance-in-hell. We had one car and lived in a small apartment. We struggled to get laundry done--so if we were to have another baby, we'd have to move. Again. Into a more expensive place.

But I sucked it up. This was my time, nobody else's, to pull up my pants, strap up my boots, and just do what God asked me to. After all, he'd asked more impossible things of others. This was a test of my faith.

Joseph arrived nine months later at 11:30am on the dot, December 26, 2005.

This was quite literally one of the hardest things I've ever had to even initiate on a few levels. But things worked out. A head clerk position opened up at the store for twice a week and Eric grabbed it right up. Then we took out a student loan to supplement our savings to buy a mini van. And we moved only three months after Joseph's arrival into another two bedroom apartment (couldn't afford a three) with a washer and dryer.

The following June, I found myself getting three hours of sleep a night and writhing under the pain of daily migraines. I had little to no help since Eric was gone all the time, either sleeping, at school, or studying. I had to deal with this alone, and the kids suffered because of it. I was worrying about when we would be able to get into a bigger place, trying to control things I had absolutely no control over. But I couldn't stop. I had to know if we could move in a year, if he would get a job, I wanted a house, etc, etc. This went on for months, but it wasn't until late July, desperate, I decided to see a doctor. I wanted to know if she'd give me some muscle relaxers. I'd been to see her six months prior for sinus headaches, but the sinus headaches always blossomed into migraines. And I wasn't sleeping. It wasn't fair to the kids, not at all.

Instead, and after listening to my stories, she determined I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder and put me on Cymbalta.

It was like a revelation. I was outgoing, chatty, and not afraid anymore. I didn't feel compelled to control everything anymore. I had more patience with the kids, with Eric, and with myself. And although the manic-like honeymoon period lasted only a week or so, I still felt great. In time, however, I discovered I suffered a side effect I didn't want to live with (I drenched myself in sweat just by unloading the dishwasher--no exaggeration). So I went back to my doctor. She placed me on Wellbutrin which only made things worse.

I went through at least four different pills. After the Wellbutrin I discovered the pills would only work for a little while. I kept going back.

"This isn't working."

"Okay, let's try this," my doctor would say.

Finally, and only about four months ago, I threw my arms in the air. Nothing was working. In a bout of desperation I went to a counselor who suggested I was to my ears in depression.

I went to my doctor, who has known me for some years now, with that knowledge and she wondered aloud if I could be bipolar. I dismissed her with a wave--no, I said. i've never experienced a manic episode.

Of course, to my knowledge, bipolar was the extreme. People who jumped off cliffs and did stupid scary shit all the time. But on my drive home from that appointment, things came to my mind: times I had needed little to no sleep, times I hurt myself on purpose to make the anger and hurt go away, racing thoughts and words, compulsions, obsessions--unbearable forgetfulness. Times I felt I could do anything only for it to go away the next week. Times I woke up early and spring-cleaned the entire house before 7:30 in the morning. Times of uncharacteristic and sudden aggression. Times I often forget about so I write them down. I have to remember.

So I went home and I researched it out and discovered the different kinds of bipolar. In tears, I called a friend of mine whom I've known for a while now who suffers from the mental disorder.

"I've wondered about you for a while," she said. "I just didn't want to say anything."

Eric said the same thing.

I called my doctor. "What's that you said about bipolar?"

"Let's just try something, okay?" she said.

And while I'm not 100%, I'm better.

But still: All this fun stuff after the supposed revelation from god. It was bad enough before, but manageable. I could've worked with that. It became scary only after I toyed with my individual limit, only after I deigned to follow what I believed was god's will.

I don't want anymore of his revelations if this is what it means. It's affected my family negatively. It brought me from being an overanxious but patient mother of one to a bipolar mother of three.

And though I wouldn't consider this an active part of my disaffection, it's yet another thing for me to be angry about. What is the point of hearing from God if it brings me to this low?

Why would I want to hear any more?