Tag Archives: Latter Day Saint

Let’s Talk Allocations.

And LDS friend of mine once posted on Facebook a quote to the effect of “When we die, if the atheists are right, religious people still die happy, because they won’t ever know. If we die and the religious people are right, they still die happy, but the atheists are in trouble.”

Ignoring the fact that I butchered the quote, the logic is pretty sound.

For the past 20 blog posts, I have become obstinately one-sided. I found myself so suddenly surrounded by hate and harassment at the onset that I threw myself as hard as possible in the opposite direction. I stopped offering respect because I was fighting so hard for my own. I mean all the things I have written about—with such a sensitive subject, I write from my heart and my life experiences—and I will continue to pursue and expunge subjects as they come up. I am of the opinion that the LDS church causes a lot of harm in the family unit and damage to the world at large.

However, the fact that I find myself looking at religion in terms of black-and-white disturbs me. In my gut there is so much gray area, and it’s a hard pill to swallow, realizing I’m not too different anymore from the uber-conservative Mormon. As I mentioned before, I’ve become a hypocrite who asks for respect without giving it.

This blog post isn’t coming out of the blue: It’s been stewing inside of me for months. There is good. That’s what I’m going to write about this time.

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Most obviously, the Church gives its members a community. This is especially vital in Utah—if you aren’t part of the Mormon community, your other chances for community come in the form of “Heathen” Facebook groups based around partying and alcohol. Not only does the Church connect you to your neighbors (as wards, stakes, and districts are set up geographically), but it also gives members a grander sense of their place in their universe. It offers people the idea that there is an awesome plan for their lives, an individualized destiny, choices they can make that get them into the highest levels of the neatly-hierarchal afterlife. A Heavenly Father with an open heart and plan gives people hope and their lives purpose.

Service. One of the big reasons why the church is set up geographically is so that its members are better able to serve each other. I complain often of how this includes visiting with the intention of drawing non- or inactive-members “back into the fold,” but I couldn’t count on both my hands how many times the Relief Society (the women’s organization within the church) has brought my family full dinners when my mother was stuck in bed recovering from surgery, a miscarriage, or depression. One Christmas when finances were low, my family found gifts on the front porch every night for a week. When my mother finally left her abusive husband but found herself financially bereft, the bishop paid the rent on our little apartment. In preparation for youth summer camps, my hands helped put together a hundred emergency kits and baby blankets that went out across the world. Teenagers rake the leaves and weed the gardens and sing to the elderly weekly. Wards are set up not just as community hubs, but as support systems.

These are just a few examples of what are unmistakably acts of human love. And at the core of every Sunday message, this is what everyone is preaching—love. And I believe that the masses mean well, even when the message is executed with a million contradictions.

I’m not one of those agnostics who argues that religion has no place in the world at all. I believe that it absolutely does—within parameters that I feel the LDS church oversteps—because of the simple fact that it makes so many people happy.

That’s what I’ve been meaning to argue this whole time I’ve been bashing: Everyone’s right to the thing that makes them happy. I grew up around thousands of people who found great happiness in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am still surrounded. My own mother is one such person. Sundays give her strength and hope and peace and happiness, and I would never wish my mother to feel any other way. Just as I have grown and questioned and struggled, so have many Mormons, and at the end of the day, many make their own choices to stay. No one has the right to take away another human’s happiness. More often than not, my blog is about the small-town Utah Mormons, and I understand that outside of the bubble things are better, and that there are also exceptions.

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Let’s face it, though—my blog isn’t for those who are happy and strong in their church membership. That’s not why I write. I support happiness unequivocally, but my blog is a community and support for those who, like me, are transitioning happinesses. Just as I would never mean to offend my mother, I do not write to offend anyone who is happy in their faith. It’s like accidentally calling Dominoes when you want Pizza Hut—you came to the wrong place. If you want Dominoes, hang up and try again.

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Let’s Talk Silence.

In preparation for visiting my grandmother on Mother’s Day, I warned my own mother than I had made Grandma swear on Facebook earlier in the week (by sharing an article titled “My Mormon Mission Made Me an Atheist,” a very poignant read found here: https://broadclarity.com/my-mormon-mission-made-me-an-atheist).

What I had intended to be a soft warning (if I could make sweet ol’ Grandma say “Bull Shit” on the internet, I was a little nervous about what would be said face-to-face) turned into the first time my mom really opened her heart to me since I started my blog. She told me (correctly) that 90% of my friends had rejected me and 99% of my family were deeply hurt by the things I wrote. My mother wasn’t making a point about my decision not to be Mormon anymore. It was about this.

When she asked me if my blog was worth it, I quickly said yes. I told her first about all the people I were helping and giving a sense of community to, and secondly that the Church is doing so much harm in people’s lives and damaging world at large.

Mom said she didn’t understand how I could choose strangers over all the friends and family I was hurting/losing. Now, nearly two weeks later, I have words for the sadness that welled up inside of me at my mom’s confusion.

From left to right: My mother, myself, my grandmother.

From left to right: My mother, myself, my grandmother.

One thing it is not okay to do in this world is to stay silent—especially when you have something to say. There is not much practical difference in this life between the schoolyard bully and a corporate religion suppressing groups of people. In their gut, everyone has to stand up for what they believe is right, even when the fight isn’t theirs and the bully is punching the kid next to them. Only the people who speak out loud can share their ideas and make change.

Speaking up isn’t easy. Especially when you’re stuck in a mud puddle of opposition. But it will never be okay to swallow your tongue and sink in, because this life is yours and it really is what YOU make it. It’s not about the friends you lose, the grandmothers you make swear, or the strangers who are thankful they’re not alone. It has always been about you and being true to your voice.  

It’s the unconditional love and support my mother gave me that made me as brave and unafraid to follow my heart as I am right now. I hope she knows that my blog is me trying to pass that along to others who don’t have such a blessing in their lives.

 

So raise your voice up and pick your kickass boots out of the mud. What you have to say is beautiful every time.

Fucking Magical~

In celebration of my tenth mug post (WHOO!), I’m going to be spontaneously unconventional today.

(I may also be running low on mugs.)

Specs: This shot glass holds about a shot’s worth, just 2-3 little white girl fingers. What makes it outstanding is (obviously) the outside. I can’t imagine anything more drunkenly encouraging than a bright yellow unicorn surrounded by neon stars on a black background, encouraging the corrosion of your liver with a whispered and “magical” promise. The unicorn and it’s slogan of bravery is printed on both sides of the glass.

Rating: A clear 5/5 stars for awesomeness. As a coffee mug, I would still give it 1/5 stars (you can’t fit much coffee in there, but come on. It’s beautiful. Use it to shoot creamer!).

Summary: This is the first and only shot glass I have ever owned. I found it just days before Christmas while walking through stores with my sister and instantly found it worth six dollars. I clutched it to my chest, giggling and feeling warm with bravery, showing my Mormon sister the glass and making her believe that I was going to buy it because she arched her eyebrow at me and said “Really?”

“Really,” I insisted, not allowing the disapproval and suspicion in her eyes to let me waver for a second.

Me Myself and I were in love, and I realized that’s all the approval I will ever need.

Fucking magical, right?

Let’s Talk Spirituality.

Here’s a juxtaposition for you:

Last October, I was able, with my mother, sisters, and a recently-returned missionary friend, to attend General Conference. General Conference is a world-wide  conference held twice a year by the leaders of the LDS church, broadcasted via television and internet and satellite and print. There are four general sessions, three hours each, spread out over Saturday and Sunday, that every member in the world is expected to watch. These four general sessions are also led up to by a Priesthood session, an extra three hours specifically for the men, and a women’s conference.
General Conference is the thing, the golden thread that sews members all across the planet together.
As a child, I either never watched it, or complained and moaned throughout. My family always watched through the TV or via computer. Last October, however, my mom asked her bishop for tickets and thus I found myself sitting on the balcony of the ginormous Conference Center in the heart of Salt Lake City on a Sunday morning.
According to the entire Church, we were lucky. Sunday morning is when Thomas S. Monson himself, president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the man all Mormons believe is the closest to God and the person who receives direct revelation from Him (basically, the Mormon equivalent of a Pope), gave his prepared speech.
And I could not tell you what it was about. Something about being a good person. Not only was I fighting off drowsiness from boredom the entire three hours, but when the Prophet himself was in the same room as me, breathing the same air, giving a lesson, telling me the keys of getting into Heaven, speaking God’s willed words–
I was completely still inside. I felt nothing. Not an absence of feeling, but literally nothing.

Last night I cried when a 70-year-old man read the line from his poem “We will cook with wine.” I went up to him afterwards because even though I’m just a fleshbag and he’s just a fleshbag, I had to touch him, and thank him for the words he shared, and tell him it was beautiful. If ever I believed in transcending and connecting to another human being via soul, it was last night.
That is my spirituality: Poetry. That is what makes me feel alive, what sends shivers down to my toes and gives my heart goosebumps. Poetry gives to me everything God used to back when I believed and that’s how I know that it’s right for me.

Spirituality is that deep and that personal. Millions of people across the world and in my life do not feel the same way I do about poetry, and that is COMPLETELY okay. What gives them shivers can be looking through a microscope, or climbing a mountain, or painting, or a god.
And that’s the key: God is just one outlit for spirituality. And just like poetry won’t fit everyone, neither will He.

The problem here is a direct lack of respect for the intimacy of spirituality from the LDS community. It is God’s way or the highway to Hell. Every day the Church is cranking out thousands of young people, giving them name tags and sending them out to knock on your door, insert themselves into your homes, and demand to know about your spiritual choices and tell you how to be spiritual the right way.

As a human being, I don’t understand how anyone can be okay with a violation of this degree. No one has the right to dictate what makes you feel alive.

Let’s Let Poetry Talk.

The following are two poems I wrote last summer, in the thick of my spiritual turmoil, which I hope reflect the seeds of my discontent (and how happy I can be now).

Between 

In the starry nights and sweaty mattresses

Between July 11th and August 18th

I fell in love.

I cradled a human head while drunk and sober,

Felt a human heart squeeze in the dark, and

Even let human lips kiss me in the sunlight.

I watched him floss his teeth

And fall asleep.

I shared his wineglass when mine ran dry

And wiped the sleep from his eyes.

I missed him when he was gone

And ached from laughter when he was home.

I said yes,

Gave the most intimate of me,

Took the most innocent of him.

When I told him yes

I meant the word with every cell,

Too sure to ask what I always did—

“Are you sure?”

 

In the drunken giggles and green-brown eyes

Between July 11th and August 18th

I was crucified.

For the crime of loving someone

I was made to march, to be

Locked in the office of a man behind a desk

The size of the ocean,

A man with a tie pointing

Straight up to heaven,

Who asked me how I want my children to be born

Because I’m nineteen and female

And my future is all the man sees.

The man pointed to pictures of Jesus

While telling me how to get on my knees and

Lick the blood from His holy feet.

For the crime of loving a human

That wasn’t already dead,

I had to pray the human feelings in my human heart

Away.

I had to think of faceless children cheering

And conduct myself by their dictations.

I had to not give up.

I had to not start playing for Satan.

 

In the twisting fingers and trembling whispers

Between July 11th and August 18th

I had to figure out why

Loving another person with

All of my person was something

God never meant for me to do.

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Sinner’s Sabbath 

I would like to emphasize that you can’t spell “Sabbath”

Without “bath.”

I sure could use a bath day.

I sure could use a day to sleep until noon,

To write letters by hand,

To water flowers and sit.

I sure could use some time

To read poetry by a window,

To spread under covers with another,

To study the art of breathing.

 

If the Sabbath is the God-given day to rest

Why can’t I rejuvenate my soul my own way?

Why should I put on skirts that squeeze,

Shoes that dig and burn,

To file in with a mob

And pay more attention to a man than the

Words coming out of his mouth?

 

No—

My soul will feel better

Listening to leaves kiss and

Watching steam spiral from my mug.

I’ll focus on this life while you

Spend bath day figuring out what comes

After.

Let’s Talk Pornography “Addiction.”

If you think I’ve been passionate so far, you aren’t prepared for this post. The reason why the issue of pornography grates me so badly is because I think it’s the root to many other problems that I take offence to, most intimately masturbation and sex shaming.

But let me open with a disclaimer:

A person can become addicted to pornography. A person can become addicted to literally anything—one woman in the world is addicted to sleeping with her hair dryer (look it up, it’ll blow your mind). I am not denying the possibility for an addiction to pornography to exist.

HOWEVER, there is NO such thing as “Pornography Addiction” according to Psychology and their most advanced research thus far contained in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual 5 (DSM5). It does NOT exist on the same scale as drugs, alcohol, or gambling. It exists on a much, MUCH lower scale than that.

“But the brain chemicals!” the Mormons cry.

The oxytocin released in your brain from watching pornography is the same amount a person gets from shaking another person’s hand. This argument is invalid.

“But I know DOCTORS who specialize in Pornography Addiction!” the Mormons scream.

That’s because the LDS church can capitalize on it. It’s one of the most basic levels of psychology: When something is explicitly taboo to think about, you are naturally going to think about it ten times as often.

Because the LDS church has tabooed pornography so exclusively, Utah is the #1 porn consumer in the United States.

(And looking at it in that light, maybe everyone does have an addiction to pornography because of the way the church condemns it. The church is clearly to blame.)

Do I believe that porn can be harmful to a marriage? Absolutely. Leaving your socks on the floor can be harmful to a marriage. (Fun fact, when viewed together, pornography can strengthen a relationship and is often suggested in couple’s therapy!)

Do I believe pornography can be harmful to a teenage boy? Maybe. It depends on how the parent handles the situation. The best thing to do is talk to your child about the differences between on-screen fucking and real-life intimacy, teaching them how to avoid bogus virus-sites, and making sure they don’t spend 24/7 locked up with a computer screen.

Do I believe pornography will damage a young man’s psyche and eternal possibilities?

Absolutely not. An adult telling him he will suffer eternal consequences and damning him is a thousand times more damaging.

Whatever happened to “All things in moderation”?

Let’s Talk Homosexuality.

Everyone on the West Coast knows about the millions of dollars LDS Inc funneled into opposition of Propaganda 8 a few years ago, a law that would have legalized same-sex marriage in California (that’s right, the Mormon Church cares so much that it can’t tolerate homosexuality two states away from it’s main hub). Growing up in Cache Valley Utah, I got to see another side of the Church’s discrimination against homosexuals in my classroom.

Now at twenty years old, I have two friends whom I’ve had for over five years. Providing fake names, the first is Jake, and the second is Clay. We all grew up in Cache Valley and as part of the Mormon Church.

When Jake turned 18, he wanted to serve a mission for his church. A “mission” is when a young man leaves his home for two years in order to convert people all over the world to his faith—so basically, Jake wanted to give two years of his life up to go work for LDS Inc.

Also, the young men pay LDS Inc thousands of dollars to be allowed to work for them. Hmm.

When Jake sat down in his bishop’s office to get mission papers started, he was staunchly rejected and told he needed to work on his sexuality before they would accept his money and let him work for them.

Jake was determined—he loved his Church, and gay or not, it is still taught to all young men from the time they are five years old that they HAVE to serve missions.

Did I mention that they pay the Church to go?

After three years of trying to “fix his sexuality,” launching himself into depression after depression and feeling constantly shamed and unworthy, Jake gave up. He was done with feeling like dirt because he liked men. He is currently inactive and one of my greatest friends.

My friend Clay, however, is a much sadder case.

Clay is also gay and still Mormon. Despite the fact that he sorely wanted to date Jake six months ago, when Jake left the church behind him to pursue what made him happy (which happened to be a cute boy from Salt Lake City), Clay used my living room to stage his rant about how Jake is sinning and is never going to reach “eternal happiness” by doing what makes him happy in this life.

Besides the fact that Clay’s rant is a different load of bullshit, gay Clay has that standpoint because of the Church’s mantra:

IT’S OKAY TO BE HOMOSEXUAL. HOWEVER, IT’S NOT OKAY TO ACT UPON YOUR HOMOSEXUALITY.

Meaning, Clay will suppress his homosexuality in the name of LDS Inc, marry a woman, and produce more babies for the brainwashing. He will never let himself be happy in this life.

And that, to me, is a thousand times sadder than leaving the Church.

For the Church’s official stance, see here: https://www.lds.org/topics/same-gender-attraction?lang=eng