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.