Sunday, September 4, 2011

Keeping a Low Profile

One of THE greatest things about the LDS Church is that it's everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

For instance, a long, long time in the 90's...I was out breaking the Sabbath with my Born Again Christian boyfriend, my Dutch Crush, a French guy, and my friend Leslie.  The five of us left the resort where we all worked for a weekend getaway to Yellowstone National Park.  As is customary when I break one of the Top 10* I totally had car in the car totally and completely ceased to work.  Since this was during the pre-cell phone era, Born Again and I hitchhiked to the nearest payphone so I could call my father and have a little car talk.  Unfortunately no one was willing to pick us up and hitchhike us back to the car.  So we started walking.  About 15 minutes into our lengthy walk, I suggested to Born Again that we say a little prayer.  So we stopped at the side of the road, and with our thumbs facing oncoming traffic I uttered a prayer of false remorse for having fun on Sunday and asking for assistance.  Not a single car stopped.  So we kept walking.  A few minutes down the road we rounded a curve only to see a large sign with an arrow pointing directly into the middle of the forest, "LDS Church Meeting This Way".  I punched Born Again on the shoulder and said, "HA!  You can't escape the Mormons!!!!" 

Long story short, there were oodles of happy tree hugging Mormons just itching to help out a fellow sister*...especially a sinning sister...and within minutes my car troubles were solved and we made it to Old Faithful before sundown.

Greatest thing:  The LDS Church is everywhere AND Mormons really like to help out and keep each other in the fold.

Worst thing:  The LDS Church is everywhere AND Mormons really like to help out and keep each other in the fold.

This became very apparent this week.  I have spent the last 2+ years in the same ward*, and no matter what I do that ward continually put me in leadership positions.  Since swearing, inappropriate dating relationships, a poor attitude, and preaching feminism didn't get me released* from those leadership positions I had one option:  move.  So move I did.

Now, it's rather common knowledge that Mormons are moving machines (it's trait that was engrained in us the moment our ancestors decided to drag their lives out to Utah in handcarts).  Someone needs help moving?  Skip Two Guys and a Truck and go straight to your nearest Mormon.  Chances are they can round up at least 2 trucks and 15 guys all willing to get the job done.  Except this Mormon felt really awkward asking a bunch of married guys to come help move my delicates and personal affects.  So I did it myself (with some help from the roomy and bestie). 

When I went to church on Sundee I was accosted by several people all asking when I was going to need help moving.  "Never," I said with a smile.

Next the Relief Society President* told me that the bishop wanted my new address so he could transfer my records* over to the new ward.  I laughed and told her that I wasn't giving my address out to anyone, especially the ward*.  She laughed like I was kidding.  I wasn't.

So she sent me an email three days later informing me that she was serious and that the bishop had once again requested that she get my address.  So I once again informed her that I wasn't giving my address out.  I told her to tell the bishop to send my records back to SLUT* to be put in the "lost and doesn't want to be found" pile and that after a much needed church break I would go to my new ward* and have them request my record be sent back to the Minn.

My plan to keep a low profile for a few weeks was also sabotaged by my Minnesota bestie...bless her heart* for being so on top of things.  Since I am moving into her old ward, she took it upon herself to spread the word to all of her ward friends that I would soon be in their congregation.  I was cool with this until I went out of dinner with the bestie and couple of the wardies*.  It only took a few minutes for the Mormon ties that bind to start suffocating me.  I really do believe there is a fine line between "friendly" and "overbearingly freakish" when it comes to welcoming someone into a new ward. I'm an independent loner who likes her space, LOTS of space.  So incessant questions about where I live, what I do, when I'll be attending church, who I'll sit with, what I'll be wearing, my talents, my job, blah, blah, blah...I start to get really overwhelmed really quickly.

That encounter solidified my decision to spend  a couple weeks visiting other churches.  Today it was the Catholics.  Next week it will be a 1.5 hour Sunday morning Christian rock concert at The Church of the Open Door, and who knows where I'll be the week after that.  When it comes to churches, the sky's the limit.  Oh how I love basking in other faiths' craziness and escaping my own. 


Erin Hanson, LMT said...

I simply have to ask.. do our Friends of Other Faiths turn and stare at you as you walk in the door, walk to an empty seat, all through the service, then pounce on you like prey they've been stalking to introduce themselves? That, in my opinion, is the worst... all the staring...

Carrie said...

One of the greatest things about mass is that at some point everyone shakes hands and says, "God be with you...and also with you" and that's as far as the touching/talking goes. You don't even have to try to fly under the radar...there is no radar. Beautiful.

Derek said...

You know you read my mind exactly when it comes to the "freakishly overbearing." I may be the only person I know that WANTS to sit alone at church, and LOVES it!

Natalie said...


Carrie said...

Oh I luv ya for it...I'll get even one day ;)

Bjorge Queen said...

I've been where you are in a lot of ways. I've been thinking about your situation a lot and perhaps at some time in the future I will comment more in depth. I really want to think on it a little more though. For now, let me just say that I am pulling for you. Seriously. You might want to check out a Unitarian church on your sebatical. They're too much for some people. If that's the case, I hear Methodists are awesome.

Jennifer Babbitt said...

You are such a great writer. My husband sat up in bed laughing until 2am the other night reading your blog. I grew up Lutheran and my husband grew up LDS. He left the LDS church a few years back, in part due to the overbearingness (hope that's a word). The other part was research.
My best friend had a freakishly overbearing experience. a chic dressed as Hiawatha had a note saying she was so happy to meet her. This note was tucked in her bra/garmmets. She body hugged her against her Suberban. That lady came prepared! Awesome meet and greet!!
Good luck!

Becky..AMHW said...

I once joined a wiccan ritual circle, not as a participant but as an observer. After their service they had a pot luck which featured KFC and green jello. Hilarious.

The coven members asked what religion I was raised with and I replied "Mormon". They laughed and asked, "Didn't they tell you this was bad?" I said they did. Then I related that the circle they'd held that evening, with the exception of the color of the robes, was eerily similar to an LDS sacrement meeting and parts of other sacrements.

I think it's good to expand and explore why faith is faith. There is profundity to be found in all corners.

Bjorge Queen said...

Part of the reason I started attending SVUU (Unitarian) church a while back was the KFC located next door in the parking lot. Unitarians are totally cool with an atheist attending their meetings and then going and buying KFC after church.

Bjorge Queen said...

Okay. Here's my very very LONG comment regarding your last few posts: And I've spent several days thinking about it for what that's worth.

I am an exmormon. Not inactive. Not "Jack". Resigned from the LDS church. Several years ago, I experienced many of the same cultural frustrations you describe. I was married, but married to a "nevermo" (a decision that was not made easily, trust me) so I guess that by LDS standards, I was better than shacking up with a guy but definitely not MARRIED married. At least not the way it mattered. And it seemed like people either judged me for squandering my opportunity to become Celestial or feeling terribly sorry for me because all they saw in my husband was that he wasn't a member. And sadly, I heard the same crap about being assigned to a worthy priesthood holder in the next life and I did not fine it comforting. I also heard much worse. In retrospect, that's probably not all people felt toward me. I can see that now. But at the time, judgment and inferiority was all I felt. If I had a chance to go back, I would give people the benefit of the doubt and be more patient with them. But that's neither here nor there.

I experienced the frustrations but I continued to attend. Because when you're raised in a good LDS home, you don't just throw everything away over some frustrations. You keep trying because you feel there is something great in store. So I would attend church and I would be in a bad mood all week and by the time my bad mood started to wear off, it was time for church again.

And I don't remember how or why, but at some point I started reading things on the internet and the rest, as so many of us exmos know, is history.

I want to make clear that I didn't leave the LDS church because it was hard to go or because the members annoyed me or because I thought I was more politically and socially enlightened than they were. (Though I was) Because really, those would be really fickle and short sighted reasons for leaving God's true church on earth.

Bjorge Queen said...

I left the church because at some point, I had to make my best guess and decide whether I though Joseph Smith was instructed to God to start the only true church on earth. My best guess is that he was not. It doesn't matter whether I think he was a liar or simply mistaken or perhaps mentally ill. The specifics really don't matter and I suppose it might have even been a combination of all three. But it's irrelevant at this point. There is no way I can believe that God appointed Joseph Smith as prophet and instigator of polygamy. Everything else that follows is negated by the fact that the foundation is, in my opinion, powder.

Now, one of the first and most difficult though valuable lessons that exmos have to learn is how to shut up about it. Because it starts to seem so obvious and you just want to share. I spent years of struggle that vanished like vapor once I was finally able to let go of Joseph Smith as a prophet. I DESPERATELY wanted that for my family. It killed me not to be able to share through osmosis. But what I eventually realized is that they're happy being Mormon and it's their choice. Just like it's my choice not to be. My dad is happy being a good bishop and my mom loves to take casseroles to people who are sick. They are top notch Mormons and they fit in great and it's part of their identity and it makes them happy.

You, my dear, don't seem happy. And so while I am at peace with not sharing my beliefs with my family (including my dad who has a full bookshelf of apologetic works including Bushman and who is very well read on the subject and continues on happily with his Mormon existence), I just have to make one suggestion to you: Read up. More than anything, read on the character of Joseph Smith. And if you decide that God, out of all the people he could have chosen for this important job, chose Joseph with his seer stones and his polygamy and all the rest; if you decide that THAT was how God decided to bring this to pass this most important "restoration", then stay Mormon. Because what Mormonism promises to deliver to you is too valuable to give up for a few overbearing people who are lacking in social skills. But if you decide that something smells funny, read some more. Most of all, use the SAME CRITERIA you would use when trying to decide to trust what somebody is telling you. And trust your ability to make an informed decision.

Put another way: Snake oil might smell good and it might make your skin soft and it might do a lot of nice things for you. And if you want to take it for what it is that's fine. But don't expect it to be more than it is. And don't be prepared to pay your life savings for a bottle of snake oil when Jergins body lotion comes a lot cheaper and does all the same stuff (and maybe even with fewer side effects).

You've used terms like "suicidal" lately and I don't take that lightly. I can't brush it off or ignore it.

I know you probably don't want to hear this right now, but there is an entire community of people who are following your story and pulling for you. Not pulling for "people like you". Pulling for YOU. Because we hear what you are saying and we've been there and we've experienced the fear of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and we've triumphed over it. And it was hell for some of us. Not all of us had cool moms who made wind chimes out of beer cans. Some of our parents are a little more high strung. But we made it and are happier for it and we feel like there's something in that victory worth sharing.

Kristy P. said...

I have to say this IS one of the creepy things in the church. Upon my moving to a new city, not having attended in my previous city and had not given my address to anyone,the bishopric and visiting teachers were on my door stop within a couple of weeks. For a moment I thought I was having a Jim Carrey moment from The Truman Show, but then I realized I am really not that special to have a whole movie about me, and voted for creepy.

I also wanted to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog. It carries the perfect elements. While I am assuming it is great therapy for you, it also creates a space for your readers to reflect on their own lives and journeys (pasts, presents, and futures). I look forward to every entry!

Armelle said...

I'm more interrested in the '96 story ;) Let's see if I got the cast right: the Dutch was H, the Frenchie probably C, why do you call M a Born Again Christian, I never knew he had a religion problem ?

KarKar said...

I don't even want to go to church.

I'd rather stay home with my jammie clad babies and make pancakes than listen to mundane preachings. Mostly listen to mundane preachings, with whomever is teaching them puts their own twist on the message.

P.S. I can't stand to hear other peoples babies screaming and the parents let them during sacrament. I don't know who to punch first - the baby or the parent. (the parent) But its a toss up. Serious.

Not for me.


"On Sabbatical & Holding"