September 29, 2006
I'm sorry I am so slow to respond to your email, but my computer was down over the week-end and when I did get it back up, I wanted to take a moment to think about what you had said. First and foremost Lisa, I love you and your children, and would feel it an insult if you would feel that any contact I might make to you would be out of obligation rather than genuine caring about you. for eg. Just today (my granddaughter) told me she had been bugging J. to go to winter quarters with the youth. THAT IS JUST (MY GRANDDAUGHTER) BEING WHO SHE IS AND WANTING J. TO BE A PART OF THEIR GROUP. I know you might think I had something to do with that, and I assure you (my granddaughter) knows nothing about your decision.
I have encountered the Adam God Theory long ago as a missionary, and I too have researched that statement with much different conclusion than you have reached, but I respect your right to believe as you choose. I do however want you to know that I know Joseph Smith is a prophet based on the study of the fruits of his labors, namely the Book of Mormon. I know that no mortal man could have written it. Also in the book, Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie explains the Adam God theory, better than I can express it. Quote "Enemies of the restored truth, for their own peculiar purposes, sometimes try to make it appear that Latter-Day Saints, worship Adam as their Father in Heaven. In support of their false assumptions, they quote such statements as that of President Brigham Young to the effect that Adam is our father and our God and the only god with whom we have to do. This statement, and others of similar nature, is perfectly consistent and rational when viewed in full gospel perspective and understood in the light of the revelations relative to the patriarchal chain binding exalted beings together. Full and detailed explanations of all important teachings on these points are found in Doctrines of Salvation, vol.1,pp96-106
Faithful members of the Church worship the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and view Adam in his proper high place as the pre-existent Michael,the first man and presiding high priest(under Christ) over all the earth for all time, and as the one who will again lead the armies of heaven in the final great war with lucifer. There is a sense, of course in which Adam is a God. But so in the same sense are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Moses and all the ancient prophets
All exalted beings become joint heirs with Christ and inherit the fulness of the Father's kingdom. They shall be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; D.&C 132:19-21 Of all these Adam is the chief, presiding (under Christ and the Father) in patriarchal order over all the rest. There is no mystery about this doctrine except that which persons ignorant of the great principles of exaltation and unfriendly to the cause of righteousness have attempted to make." Unquote.
Lisa, when you are ready, I would love to go to lunch with you and enjoy your friendship and have a good visit. You are a great lady whom I care about deeply.
as your father said to me that is one thing he and I have in common. Lisa, I hope you will let W., S. and I know when you would like to get together and do something fun. We all care about you. Love, T."
A few thoughts...I have never "done something fun" with these three members of the primary presidency, unless you call countless hours of presidency meetings FUN. I feel close to her only through working so many hours for the kids in the ward. I'm pretty sure I won't be doing lunch with them, 3 vs. 1.
The fact that she had to comment about her granddaughter tells me they did in fact discuss me. Also, I knew immediately that I had been discussed because on Monday afternoon the granddaughter stared me down in the bleachers at my son's football game. And on Tuesday my son asked her granddaughter if her grandma had asked her to ask him to the Zion's Camp. She said NO! but obviously they discussed me after that, if not before, prompting the PP to include this in her e-mail. Whatever.
My point is that LDS people have a hard time disassociating "genuine caring" from intrusive behavior. They think they should show their genuine caring by giving me their testimony in letter and e-mail form. They think they show their genuine caring by personally inviting my son to an activity before he's even stopped going to church enough to be called inactive.
Shaking my head. I have no idea how I should respond to this e-mail I got, so I probably won't.
THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY
Stepping out of my detached garage to find my husband sitting on a lawn chair in the late afternoon sunshine, beer in hand, enjoying watching the kids and puppy play ball around him on the freshly mowed lawn. These days are the best.
Watching my kids play sports, and seeing their secret smiles or nods to me from the field.
Erdbeer-Rahm Schokolade. (Strawberry cream chocolate) Nobody here makes it like they do in Europe.
Painting for 8 hours straight with nobody making me feel guilty that I could be spending time with them instead. I'm not sure I've done this but the thought of doing so makes me happy!
Travel plans of any kind. Especially of the book-a-trip-to-Hawaii-or-Austria variety!
Lunch at Olive Garden with Jazzy & Tony eating our usual: Salad with Naughty Sticks dipped in Naughty Sauce!
My husband letting me warm my ice blocks I once considered feet on his warm ones every night in winter.
Fall leaves as they change.
Going to the fair and drinking that delicious freshly-squeezed lemonade, and eating greasy fair food.
Sitting home on rainy days with a warm blanket and a good book, with a perfect view of the rain outside.
The smell of wood fences just after it rains.
Laughing about childhood antics with my siblings. I mean really laughing. Oh yeah, mocking and making fun of each other too. Our cutting wit is just too much.
Coming to work to find I got a dollar raise for no reason.
Sitting with my dog in my lap, playing with his soft ears.
Going on hot dates with my man.
Giving my kid a back massage every single night. Even though I protest, I really don't mind doing it, because someday he won't "need" me anymore.
When my daughter climbs in my bed in the morning to sleep just a little longer before I get us up.
Blaring the radio in my car when a good song comes on.
The fuzz on old ladies' cheeks.
5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Playing games until late on Saturday nights, without the worry in the back of my mind that I still haven't prepared a sharing time lesson yet.
Listening to my kids tell me about their day.
Shopping for swimsuits. HEY! How'd this get here? That should be on my "Things I Absolutely DETEST" list! I'm just checking to see if you're still reading or if I've put you to sleep yet.
Looking west at the Montana sky in the evening. There really is something bigger and better about the sky here.
Taking photos of my stepdaughter, A. She's one beautiful person, inside and out.
Reading a favorite novel.
Watching the movie Love Actually again, even though I've seen it 5 times.
Music from The Sound of Music.
My husband when he sings.
Being around my extended family.
The smell when I walk into a bookstore. Same when I walk into an art supply store.
Wearing my favorite pair of jeans.
Big round hay bales in a field.
Sitting by the ocean while my kids play in it.
Knowing that I'm OK.
September 28, 2006
September 27, 2006
CONVERSATIONS WITH TONY
SML: After reviewing much evidence, and considering all that I was taught my whole life, I have come to the conclusion that what I was taught was in fact made up, or NOT TRUE. I now know that blue is NOT the only true color on the face of the Earth.
TONY: But how can you KNOW that? I mean, here you are telling me that blue isn't the only true color on the Earth, and you're basically saying that I've been BRAINWASHED when I say I believe it! It's what they taught me at church! I feel a testimony that it's true when I hear it even now!
SML: I'm not exactly calling you brainwashed. OK maybe I am. Heck, I'm also saying that EVEN I was brainwashed. For 34 years I thought that blue was the only true color as well. I knew there were other colors out there, but blue was so pretty and it made me feel good to look at it. I was told by my parents whom I love and trust that blue was the only color I should like, so that's what I did. And heck, blue was PRETTY! It felt good to look at it! I was told that in order to be able to live in God's presence in the next life, I'd have to love True Blue and live the True Blue lifestyle my whole life. My entire wardrobe was blue. I thought all my thoughts in blue. I DREAMT in blue. But then I fell in love with and married someone who preferred red, and not because some church told him he had to prefer red either. And lo and behold, he was an OK person without blue in his life. How could this be? I was always taught that happiness only comes to those who choose blue!
TONY: And I married someone who prefers green. So what?! Can't I also choose to believe that blue is best? I happen to LIKE blue! The color blue makes me into a much better parent! Without it I'm certain that we won't be able to teach our kids all the things they need to know.
SML: And I believe you can. Since I found out blue wasn't the only color I could look at, I've been so amazed by the colors I can see and the true beauty in my life! I'm at peace not listening to anyone tell me that only one color is the best. I'm able to see for myself that God loves me no matter which color I choose as my personal favorite, or even if I choose none of them. That's why he blessed me with my inner compass, so I can follow my heart and know what I should do that's right for me. What a gift! That's how I know my kids will also be OK, and will be able to learn all the things they need, because I am even closer to them on a personal level, now that I'm not so focused on the color blue so much.
TONY: You have such conviction that the color blue isn't the one true color, and there's nothing I can say that will convince you it is the color you should choose. It's like I'm talking to a brick wall! You are afraid people will think that Satan is influencing you to dislike the color blue, and it's hard not to think it too when I hear such strong conviction in your voice, and I see no signs of FAITH in the color blue when you speak.
SML: I found so much beauty and peace in looking at all the other colors, and there's no way I can cram those colors back into their little box and repaint my world blue again. Why would I? It's too beautiful to have all the colors inundating my senses right now! I know blue makes people happy, and good for them! The church has even worked hard to find the exact shade of blue that invokes the best feelings, and this is the blue they show the world. But once I discovered the blue the church started out with, and how ugly it actually was, and also how much better life is with ALL the colors at my disposal, why would I go back to only favoring blue? It makes no sense to me.
TONY: But you don't exactly seem very happy, even though you say you are happier than you've ever been.
SML: That's because I'm having to deal with letters and calls from people at church whom I specifically asked not to contact me unless it was in friendship only, without church stuff involved. And yet virtual strangers at church still insist on telling me all about how great the color blue is, and it's a bit irritating. Disrespect like that doesn't give me a lot of happiness. They think they are reaching out to me in friendship, when the real thing they are trying to tell me is that I'm being led by Satan to look away from the color blue. I'm worried that when my son goes to church without me, he'll come home with blue-tinted glasses on that he won't take off. That makes it hard to always feel happy, but believe me, I am still way happier and more at peace inside without the blue blinders on. Sometimes when I'm down, it makes me happy to fantasize about buying a paintball gun with rainbow colored paintballs that I can shoot the front of their homes with, as a little gift from me to them, in the same spirit as their love notes in the mail.
TONY: Every time we talk about this it feels so frustrating. I feel like we get nowhere! I just wish you could see that blue is such a great color.
SML: I'm sure it's a great color. It even used to be my favorite. But I see nothing wrong with loving ALL the colors, as I feel God would do. Heck, he even CREATED the colors. It makes no sense that he would have me limit myself to only one of his precious colors.
TONY: I don't know what I'm going to do. I know that it's probably good to look at other colors, but I just don't know.
SML: You've got to find it out for yourself, or not. It's OK either way. That's what I've been trying to say all along. I don't judge you for liking blue the best. I just want you to respect my choice to love all the colors if I want to.
TONY: I do. I do. We still on for lunch on Friday?
SML: Of course! See you then!
I got home last night from work and there was a letter from my ward clerk (I think, I don't even know what he does). I have been in this ward for 5 years since the ward boundaries changed, and I've spoken to him once in all that time, to ask for a new printout of the primary classes. I don't know his wife either beyond seeing her at church. Here's the letter:
Dear Sister (last name),
I just wanted to write you a note and tell you how much I appreciate your service & sacrifice. You have truly helped to improve the primary program, which my children love to attend. I admire your faith and courage. Please know that (my wife) and I are glad to have you teaching our children the gospel. Forgive me for not expressing my gratitude more often. It is so easy to get all wrapped up in our own little world & not see the service of those around us.
I still remember a couple years back the ward chili cookoff. I enjoyed meeting Brother SML (last name - he couldn't even take the time to look up my hubby's first name!) and sharing our passion for insanely hot chili. That was shortly after the ward boundaries had changed and the new ward was still trying to come together.
Last Sunday I was very impressed by J. as he stood up in priesthood and gave a report on the Teacher's quorum's activities. (Note, my son is a deacon still) How mature & handsome he looked! (Note, Stay AWAY from my son, do you hear me?!) I am always impressed with how reverently he passes the sacrament.
I want you to know that you do belong to the True Church of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith is a True Prophet, as is Gordon B. Hinckley. The blessings of the Temple are true & eternal. The adversary knows this, and he did everything in his power to keep me from those blessings & still works very hard to keep me from attending. There have been times in my life when doubt has come upon me. About four years ago I was the Elder's Quorum President. I let doubt enter my heart. The adversary was working overtime on me. Looking back I can't believe how close I came to loosing everything that is most precious to me, but it happened. I remember one Sunday, Bishop K (our previous bishop) said 'If you don't have a burning testimony of this church, you need to get one.' Well, my testimony was smoldering if not out. I determined to get a 'burning testimony.' I started reading scriptures, saying personal and family prayers, reading the Ensign. It was very hard. But at one time I had believed & I was determined to find out why. It took a while (years), but I finally discovered the why. It is different for each of us. I cried many nights as I prayed to Heavenly Father to help me KNOW. The process never ends, I still work every day at reading scriptures & praying. Some days I am better than others. But now my testimony is stronger than ever.
Back in July we had two women from the Jehova's Witnesses stop by. I introduced myself and told them we were members of the LDS church. Over the next half hour or so they would try to convince us that our beliefs were wrong on various gospel topics. They would read scriptures, I would quote scriptures (amazingly they just kind of popped into my mind). After awhile I would just look them in the eye & bear my humble testimony of the truth. After that, they could say no more & would move to another topic. Same thing we would discuss & I would bear testimony & tehn they could say no more. Eventually they left & I went on about my day. About a week later, one of the ladies came back. She said 'I just wanted to appollogise how I acted. I felt a very wonderful spirit in your home & felt we offended it by how we acted.' (My wife's) jaw hit the floor & graciously accepted her apology. I am not perfect, but now I can look people in eye & bear my simple testimony of true principles. Yesterday I had the priviledge of baptising & confirming (my son.) When confirming, I was so nervous that I mess up the words. I just started over (after a gentle prompting from Bob E!) and a beautiful blessing flowed through me from Heavenly Father to (my son.)
I hope I don't offend or sound preachy. That is not my intention. I just wanted to express my love & gratitude for you. I have had times where I have had doubts, like trying to fill callings or receiving inspiration concerning my family. The words of a General Authority (I can't remember which one!) come to mind that If it was right when you received it, it is still right when the trials & storms come.
We moved to a new home @ (such and such address.) Please stop by & say hi. We would love to have your family over. Forgive us for being so close minded to forget a wonderful person & family like yours.
Take care & may God bless.
After reading this letter D. just shook his head and said, "I wonder how many more 'friends' will crawl from the woodwork."
September 26, 2006
My dilemma is this: do I let him choose NOW or later? I've told him the things that lead me to believe the church wasn't true, and Joseph Smith lied. And if he's not really a prophet, then he made the whole religion and Book of Mormon up. And if he did, why would I want to support it? Why would HE want to support it?
J. says he'd still rather go to church. This boggles me because he really doesn't have any close friends at church, and he hates scouts. All the friends he plays and talks on the phone with are sports kids on his teams, and kids he went to grade school with who aren't LDS. Yet he still wants to go. Finally I asked him "what is your reason for wanting to keep going to church?" He just shrugged, and I said, "Why should I let you go if you don't even have a reason for going?" He finally told me later that he was worried what people would think of him if he quit going. He had told a boy at school who's in a different ward that I didn't believe the church is true anymore, and his friend said, "That sucks! Are YOU going to keep going?" J. told him yes, and his friend said that was good. Then the next day we told him he can't go.
Do I let him keep going to church, just because he's afraid of what people are going to think of him? Especially if they are going to treat him differently for certain, now that I've quit going...Will this cause J. to resent me and treat me poorly or think I'm less worthy of his respect? Maybe. It's a real possibility. And I don't want to go there.
So, do I let him choose now (I'll admit that I figured he'd just quit going too, especially since I always had to drag him to church every Sunday) or do I tell him he's free to choose when he's 18? I don't let him drink or try drugs now, although he's free to choose that when he's old enough. Do I do the same for him with church?!
Oh, another thing happened...I sent my explanation e-mail Sunday afternoon to the primary pres. & 1st counselor. I am much closer to the pres., yet it was the 1st counselor who replied to me and said she'd still rather remain friends, and that she was very sad that I chose this road, sad for me, for the kids & D too. But that she'd always wanted to invite us over as a family for games and dinner. She said "I would love to still get together, whether this involves gospel discussion or not. I have truly grown to love you, and nothing will end that desire to know you better." So, I have to choose if this is what I want to do or not. I can picture, from the words she wrote here, that she may try to incorporate gospel discussion into the evening, forcing me to have to say something. Who knows? Maybe not.
Anyway, the PP hasn't called or e-mailed. I was closest to her at church, and expected I'd hear from her. Yesterday I got an e-mail from another acquaintance at church who said the PP had told her Sunday nite that I'd left the church, and she wanted me to know that she hoped that didn't affect our friendship and she still hoped that we could do lunch sometimes as before. I sent my e-mail to the PP Sunday afternoon. She really didn't waste any time! She must be burning up the phone lines!!
Her granddaughter talked to J. yesterday at school and told him she was personally inviting him to Zion's Camp ~ a pioneer trek in Wyoming the stake youth are doing for 3 days in October. He'd already signed up (or someone signed him up) for this, because we got a call a few weeks ago from his "Ma" he was assigned to, even though J. said he never signed up for it and didn't even know what Zion's Camp was. Anyway, the PP's granddaughter said she also invited J's good friend who's not a member to go as well. Already they are treating my son like he's inactive. I wondered why she was staring at me so hard at his football game yesterday. Blatantly staring at me hard. Finally I smiled really big and waved to her, and she just stared some more without waving back. Probably trying to find signs of how Satan had affected me.
Anyway, the big question that needs answering: do I let him choose for himself now, or not??
September 25, 2006
"Hi Lisa, this is Bishop S."
"I got your letter and just wanted you to know that I'm here if you ever want to talk."
"OK, I appreciate it. Thank you."
September 24, 2006
Really, what more can I say?
Today was the primary program, and of course they discovered I didn't show up. 5 minutes after church got out, the primary president showed up at the door. I was in the shower, so she asked my husband if she had offended me in some way. He told her no. She left some chocolate truffles she'd made, and left.
An hour later I got a phone call from the first counselor in primary. She said, "We missed you today at the program. Is everything OK? I'm worried about you."
I told her "I'm just drafting an e-mail to the president, and I'll send it to you as well."
Here's what I wrote:
Dear T. and W.,
I'm writing to explain what's been happening with me, and I hope you understand. D. said T. stopped by and asked if she had offended me. No, not at all, never. (Thanks for the chocolates!) You are both very kind friends and I really love you. Maybe once you read my explanation you'll understand better why I've quit coming to church.
I'm not sure if the bishop announced my release from my calling today, but I expect he may have since I requested last week to be released immediately.
About two months ago I found some very disturbing things out about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the church that caused me to be very disillusioned, and I came to the conclusion that the church is not true, and was in fact made up by Joseph Smith. This is not an easy thing to discover, and I have been trying to figure out what to do about it ever since.
I would have much rather talked about it with my friends and discussed it, but the very first time I tried to do so, I was burned, and am averse to discussing it any more with anyone from church. The only thing I discussed with her was the fact that Brigham Young taught that Adam was in fact God the Father. This bothered me immensely. He taught it as revelation, and it can be found in the Journal of Discourses many times. I told my friend this, and she told me it was true, Adam was our Father, as he founded the human race, being the first man on earth. But I told her Brigham Young taught that Adam was the father of Jesus, or GOD THE FATHER. I then asked her why Spencer W. Kimball discounted any Adam-God theories as "false doctrine" if it came from a prophet. Then she told me "Enough, Lisa" and wouldn't talk to me any more.
Two days later I got this note in the mail from our High Priest Group Leader, whom I barely even know:
I copied the letter I got (see previous post here.)
I was shocked that 1. he'd say he "sensed somehow" that I was questioning my membership, when obviously my friend had told someone, and 2. that my friend told B. M., who, rather than treat me like a friend, which I thought she was, didn't ask me but rather went to either the bishop or HPGL and discussed me, prompting this great letter which screams out that he thinks I'm in Satan's grasp right now. This incident has made me very wary to discuss anything with anyone at church about my concerns.
This has also prompted me to feel afraid to talk to you two, because I really don't want you to feel the same awful things about me that HPGL feels. I don't even know him, or care what he thinks of me, but I know YOU, and I do care what you think of me.
The letter came to me a few days before the BBQ we had at T's, and I was frankly surprised that with D. (the only non-member) there with me, the bishop didn't even make an effort to come over and talk to or greet either of us the whole night. That seemed strange to me, and it doesn't exactly prompt me to feel a strong urge to discuss my concerns with him either. So I'm doing the best I know how.
If I didn't have a calling like I have, I'd have just gone inactive and left everyone clueless as to my belief that the church isn't true. I hardly wish this feeling of betrayal and disillusionment on anyone. But that seems impossible to do, and now I have to tell you my shocking news this way. I'm so much better at written communication than verbal! I don't want to look in your eyes and find that you think I'm deluded by Satan as well. I prayed and prayed and studied and prayed some more, and in the end got no answer that the church was true. I have many reasons for believing this. I don't like that the church keeps hidden many truths from the early days of the church, and when asked about them, makes no effort to discount them as false, or to explain them either.
I'm also certain that you will probably believe, as the church teaches, that if I pray about it and get the answer that the church is not true, then I must either be in the wrong place spiritually, or I didn't ask sincerely enough, with not enough faith, or I'm hearing answers that are in fact coming from Satan, not the Holy Ghost. This is not true, but I know that it will feel better to some people to assume this is what happened to me.
I'm so sorry I wasn't up front about the program with you. I didn't know how to let you know that I couldn't and wouldn't be there, and I didn't like letting you assume I'd be there. I regret this deeply. I love the children at church, and the people I've worked with whom I consider friends.
This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through, yet through it all, I've found an inner peace and have felt more love from God than I ever felt before. I have a sense of happiness and I feel for a surety that God loves me, more than I can even comprehend. You will no doubt believe that this is a grave sin, to deny that what I was taught was true. But when I scrutinized the church for the first time ever, it came up seriously lacking, and the only option I have is to discount it as false.
I will take the good things I've gained from my life in the church, and I will continue to be a good person inside.
I really don't want me or my kids to be named on the list of inactives to visit, as I know there is such a list in each organization. If someone is truly interested in maintaining a friendship with me, outside of church doctrines, I am totally open to this. Just as I'm sure people at church don't want me to push on them what I've learned about the church, neither do I want people to consider me their "project" or the person they can "save." I find it rude and intrusive to get surprise visits from people who never came over before, and it's transparent that they are visiting because they were given an assignment.
Again, I'm deeply sorry I wasn't more open or honest with you before. I have no frame of reference for protocol in situations like mine, and I'm doing the best I know how. I don't want to offend anyone or have anyone think less of me, although I know this is probably an unrealistic wish.
I love you both, and I find you amazing women whom I greatly admire. I will miss working with you, truly. I just can't keep faking like I believe it's true, and I know I can't keep teaching the children in sharing time either. That would be wrong. I don't want anyone to think that I've left the church because I've been offended, or because I'm being tempted to do evil or sin.
I'm leaving the church because it's not true. I hate having to shock you like this. E-mail me back if you wish to discuss it further, and if not, I completely understand. I'm going to clean out my binder and leave it and my keys in the primary closet sometime this week.
I think the best thing for me to do is to go on as usual and quit acting so skittish and just be myself, without apology.
September 22, 2006
Obviously there were no seats left for me at our usual table with my two best friends in the whole world. Walking away from the lunch line with my tray, I could see that everyone at that table was reading a piece of paper, and it must have been really funny because they were all laughing.
As I approached them they quit laughing abruptly, and the person holding the paper shoved it under the table so hard I could hear it crunch.
“I guess I’ll just sit over here,” I said as I walked past them to sit down at the next table. There was dead silence from them, and suddenly a note, folded into the shape of a football, flew over my shoulder and landed in my plate.
I didn't want to open it there, since I could feel all their eyes on me, and their silence crashed through me like a freight train. But it was torture to wonder, so I opened it.
You have been fun and all, but really we just want to
be best friends, only not with you.
Two is perfect,
Three's a crowd.
We hope you understand that we just want to be friends.
Val and Jen
I have many people to thank for the events that occurred as a result of this note...
Thanks Val and Jen, for showing me what kind of friend I don't want to be. From that note on, I never ever wished I was one of the "popular" kids.
Thanks, Mom, for being such a great listener and for letting me cry my sorrows out on your sweet shoulder. You have always been so good at that.
Thanks, E. and V., siblings extraordinaire, for being my best friends for the next five years, until I was brave enough to attempt being friends with someone outside the family.
Thanks, God, for giving me minimal singing talent, and Val and Jen, for helping me to be too shy to want to sing solos for my choir teacher, which led me to switch to Art 1 class in 10th grade.
My art ability gave me self confidence for the first time since the 4th grade.
THE WALKER'S HOUSE?!
The last time I was in their home it was a relief society Enrichment meeting, where they discussed the new program of interest groups vs. actual regular monthly meetings. The entire RS fit in the living room of this home. It is absolutely a show home. I think they could easily entertain a dignitary in it. It is huge, high ceilings, white carpets, with a really big indoor pool off one wing of the home. There are fountains of water that shoot in arcs from the sides of the pool into it. They used to live in Saudi Arabia or someplace near it, and everywhere you look you can see artwork and beautiful things from around the world. Not sure what he does for a living. They are maybe in their 50's or early 60's I'd say. They have the pool room painted with clouds and sky and fun words about friends being welcome...
It was one of my most embarrassing moments when we were there in a big group giving our ideas for possible interest groups, and I raised my hand and was telling them my idea when suddenly the dining chair I was sitting on broke and I flailed my arms and legs to avoid falling. Could that BE any more humiliating?! Of course it wouldn't break until the moment ALL EYES were on me. And let me tell you, if having a nicely upholstered wooden chair break under your weight doesn't make you feel fat, nothing else will.
My son said they did yardwork pulling weeds and cleaning up the yard at this house. We have lots of poor and lower and middle class people in my ward....and the only service project they could think up was doing the yardwork at the nicest home, BY FAR, that we have in our ward?! I asked my son if they swam too, thinking that may have been the ultimate goal in going there to begin with. Nope. Service project.
Shaking my head in disbelief.
September 21, 2006
Please release me immediately from my calling in primary. While I have enjoyed the calling and the great sweetness of the kids and my fellow primary workers, I am no longer able to serve at this time.
I'd also like to request that nobody from the ward or stake contact me or my family members in any capacity beyond simple friendship. I don't want to become the next service project or the next assignment on your list of inactives who need a visit. I don't see that as an act of fellowship...I find it intrusive and rude, so hopefully my wishes will be respected and friendships will remain friendships without hidden assignments or agenda.
Thank you for honoring my wishes. I appreciate your kindness in this matter.
I told them to get started while I cleaned up, then I had to go into the chapel and wait. I had to wait to serve the Otter pops for dessert after the practice, kind of the carrot we dangled if they'd get through the entire practice well. So I sat up in the front left pew watching when about halfway through, the other counselor came to me and said, "You don't know, do you, that you have a seat up in the seats with the kids? You haven't really been here for a practice." So I had to grab the program copy and find my chair with my name on it. Funny enough, my seat was smack dab in the middle of all the other inactive (ha ha) kids. That's gonna leave a funny hole this Sunday. I was tempted to tell her to fill my row with the kids sitting in chairs in front of the podium, since I won't be there.
Anyway, I'm sitting there singing when they sang because the president was standing down there watching me, and I saw that my daughter's part was coming up ~ she was to have gotten up to stand up front with three others just before her turn to speak. Suddenly the other counselor comes up to me and said, "Where's S.? Still sick?" I just smiled and shrugged kind of like "Whatya do?" and didn't answer her really. She walked away. Funny how it was already more than an hour into the activity and she JUST NOTICED my daughter wasn't there. Sigh.
My son ended up going to YM ~ it was a 3 ward combined activity service scavenger hunt. I was sitting on the stage waiting for him to finish playing basketball with a friend, when I heard one girl say to her dad beside me, "That's so cheap! We did all that work on our scavenger hunt, and they gave out no prizes!" The dad said, "Yes they did, didn't you hear? The winning team got their ice cream sundae first before anyone else." The look on her face was priceless. I had to inject my opinion then, I couldn't help myself. "You'd think, wouldn't you, that with three whole wards of both YM and YW leaders, someone could have at least thought up a prize better than that, even a candy bar for each winner or anything rather than nothing."
What's more likely is that someone in charge figured, this is a SERVICE PROJECT scavenger hunt. (They had to go to members' homes and do one of a number of services on the page for a certain amount of points.) I'm guessing someone thought, is it really service if they've gotten rewarded for doing it?? Shaking my head. Those poor kids were JIPPED.
It was a little strange knowing that the activity was the last time I'd be doing anything calling-wise forever. I'm done. It would have been nice having someone know it while I was doing it. Felt a little sneaky, which isn't really something I enjoy. I had a few comments from teachers, "I haven't SEEN you in a long time!" Little do they know.....
My worry is that this Sunday or next Sunday (if he doesn't go this Sunday) people will dig for information from my son if he continues to go to church without me. Sigh. I'm not sure this will happen but I think there's a good chance. My husband and I are wanting this to not happen, and feel the best scenario is J. not going to church, yet I've told him he has the freedom to choose. However, since I told him the things I know about the church which led me to disbelieve it, he hasn't made any comments or asked any questions. So we warned him we'd be talking about it in depth this weekend, and to be ready with any comments or questions. (Without the crying this time, thank GOD for Aunt Flo's timely arrival!) I know, TMI! I haven't used that dumb phrase since high school! Hopefully he'll get the chance to see some of what I've read, especially about the Book of Abraham and the Egyptian funeral texts, and also stuff from Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses. We'll see how it goes.
I think my husband has no clue how the church works, and he doesn't understand my angst over what will they do next, if anything. I told them I worry that we'll be the first people on their list for monthly visits to inactives...one night a month the entire ward auxiliary leaders get together and choose who's visiting whom, and then they come back and report afterward. You can bet that my kids or I will be first on their list, because it's a lot easier to knock on the door of people you know than it is people you don't know. And they know us. Therefore, we've decided my letter to the bishop won't be as simple as I'd previously planned. I'm going to draft that next.
Sigh. I wish I didn't have to do it this way, but I see no alternative. Why can't I just do something easier like move to another state?
September 20, 2006
I do not do it with a secret agenda, I only go to help my sisters in the primary presidency with their major production sacrament meeting program practice, a.k.a. the quarterly activity I've been in charge of for months. So....all I have to do is bring the pizza and set up chairs for the kids to eat on, and then the rest will happen without my input. I may have to end up lying to them about why my daughter is not there. She has a part in the program, but I just can't bring myself to tell them she won't be there. I also hate to have her hear me say the church is not true one week, then the next week have her witness me "deceiving" my friends by helping. Besides, she has always hated doing the whole standing up in front of the congregation thing. I can relate...
2 traumatic childhood memories: (I can't wait to see what my bro. E replies to this! It oughta be good...)
1. Being asked to sing "Keep the Commandments" as a family at some church activity. By saying as a family, I think it was the kids only, but there were 7 of us, so some enlightened soul probably thought we'd make a great choir by ourselves. My memory of this particular incident may be off, or skewed by my total mind-numbing fear at having to do this horrible song in public...but I distinctly recall standing with my siblings in the middle of the gym at church (at the old 4th Ward bldg) in a circle facing outward, singing "Keep the Commandments" while circling, feeling anything but safety and peace. The crowd of people we sang to surrounded us on all sides, and they seemed to leer and loom larger and larger as we circled around and around singing the same awful words over and over in the most boring tune ever inflicted upon the ears of man. Is my memory actually one I've contrived from my nightmares over this hellish event? Did we really circle around and around while we sang it?? Were the people's heads actually enlarged, with long, pointy teeth?
2. My first talk as a 12 year old youth speaker in sacrament meeting. I was so nervous and hated it soooo bad that I could barely speak. Once all the blood drained from my body into my vital organs in an attempt to keep me alive, it was obvious this would NOT be good. I stood up there with shaking hands, heart beating so hard it could be heard in the microphone above my inaudible whisper. I was a good 18 inches from the mike. Then to my absolute horror (you see, I'd convinced myself by this time that it was just possible that nobody was looking at me ~ I was too afraid to look up from my paper to find out) the BISHOP stood up and lowered the microphone closer to me so people could hear. THEN the blood that was keeping me alive decided to rush its way to my forehead via my chest, chin, cheeks, and ears. I'm certain it was entertaining for the congregation to witness a mute ghost suddenly morph into a living plum, but for me it was horrible. Horrific. Terrifying. I could actually see the purple neon glow from my ears on the opposite wall of the chapel. Of course, when the bishop moved the mike, I stepped back and continued to grind out my tortured whispering. There was an audible sigh of relief from the congregation when I ended it.
Anyway, back to the actual subject. My master plan is to go tonight, help feed the poor, hungry primary children, and tomorrow I will mail a note to my bishop that will probably say these words:
Please release me immediately from my calling as counselor in the primary, due to personal reasons. Thank you.
Won't that be a shocker if they actually don't tell the primary president in advance, and the bishopric announces this Sunday the release of the following individual, right on the day of the primary program??! I'd almost like to be there, just to see the priceless look on their faces. Wait, that's pretty presumptuous to say. I'm not so sure anyone besides the pres. and the other counselor will even care.
I do hate to have my son there, though, because he'll be sitting there facing everyone, waiting to pass the sacrament, and then afterward he may be bombarded with questions of "Where's your mom? Why isn't your sister here?" Awful. Now I'm wondering if I should be there so this doesn't happen to him!!! Maybe I can convince him not to go.
Maybe we'll plan a day trip that day...
September 18, 2006
We ended up telling the kids Saturday night vs. Sunday, because my plan had been to skip church, wake up leisurely, then break it to them gently, and let them sit on the news for a week before church happened again... Instead, Saturday night we had a game night with my in-laws, and they left at 10. As my son (J.) was going to bed, I told him I didn't think I was going to church tomorrow. He said he had to go. I asked why, and he said that he hadn't been to church for a month (1 week he had soccer tryouts, the next we went to SLC, and last week we skipped.) He also wanted to go because the deacon's quorum president is turning 14 in October and my son thinks he's probably going to be called as president since he's 1st counselor.
My husband and I looked at each other and realized we'd better get it over with now.
I broke out immediately in a cold, nervous sweat. I don't do confrontation well unless I'm angry, and I was afraid this would be a confrontation between J. and me. So we called the kids and told them we had something important to discuss. I had originally wanted to tell J. one-on-one, maybe take him out for a drive and discuss my issues, then later tell my daughter (S. ~ 8 yrs. old), since they are both different and at different levels of understanding as well. But my husband thought it'd be best to tell them both at once as a family. He thought S. would feel left out and would want the same explanations J. got. I had told him I thought she wouldn't care, she doesn't necessarily like church anyway, and that J. would be hurt. Afterward, D. told me he was surprised it went just like I thought it would.
I started out by saying, "Kids, I have something important to say and it may be hard for you to understand. I've recently learned some things and I don't believe the church is true anymore." I had imagined in my mind that I would say this calmly and rationally, but instead PMS reared its ugly head and immediately I'm crying and hideous and scary-looking. I hate all of you who are blessed with the graceful crying gene. My whole face crumples up into that of a 90 year old man with a red face, and my eyes and nose transform themselves into bilgepumps. The kids were staring at me like I may have gone off the deep end. I got hold of myself somewhat and continued talking and crying, telling them the things that I had recently discovered about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and the Book of Abraham ~ everything.
S. just lay there on the couch listening and watching me cry, and J. was staring at the wall past me looking pissed off sometimes, and trying not to cry. Once in a while we'd ask what they thought, and she would said "I don't know" and shrug. J. said nothing at all, but a few times he broke down and started crying too. It was hard for him, so hard, and I didn't quite know what to do except keep explaining that I didn't want to hurt them, but I couldn't keep going to a church that I felt lied to me and I also couldn't go if I didn't believe it was true anymore.
My husband (D.) said many things to the kids, like assuring them that he isn't the one who convinced me that the church wasn't true, that I found out on my own. He told them we still believe in God and Jesus, and that we still have the same values we have always maintained, that Mom isn't going to suddenly start drinking or anything, that I probably never would (I don't know about that, I had to interject that IF I do, then it's not going to be out of control or anything) and that we are committed to them and our family as the most important things in our lives. He was so loving and spoke so well to them, I really appreciated him. He'd start talking every time I broke down crying too hard. Damn that PMS! I should be honest and admit I probably would have cried regardless, but PMS week is always the week the waterworks function at full capacity.
We warned the kids that we may all lose friends over this, that I already have. We warned them that some people at church may think that I've let Satan lead me astray from the straight and narrow path, but if they hear anything like it, not to believe it. I assured them that I've never felt so happy, or so close to my Heavenly Father, and I've never felt so loving toward others in my life. I told them that this is not the way Satan works. He wants us to be unhappy and miserable. I couldn't be feeling so much love and happiness if I was being led by Satan. I swear if anybody at church (if J. continues to go) approaches him about me, or says anything about Satan having me in his grasp, I'm gonna go off!
Anyway, I explained things for over an hour, and finally it was obvious S. was going to fall asleep while sitting there, so we ended it and told the kids that we understand it if they want to keep going to church, because it may be comforting to them to believe in it, and that we'll support them just the same if they decide they want to stay Mormon or to become Muslim or Jewish or any other religion, or no religion. I told them I was sorry I had pressured each of them to be baptized even though each of them really didn't want to do it at age 8. J. didn't remember not wanting to. I told them I felt bad that I'd always made them go to church with me, even when they didn't want to, and that I felt like that was wrong of me, because that's not freedom of choice.
I also told them that I'm sorry that they have to make these hard decisions so young, and I wish I could spare them from having to do it now. I just can't keep going to church and I felt they deserved to know why. We both assured the kids that we love them and want them to be happy. I told them I had never loved D. more than I do right now, and I also said I feel that now that I can see the truth, I am a much happier, more open, and loving person. I feel much more love and acceptance for myself and others, and this makes me feel like a better person inside. I finally feel like I can be me and that I'm OK as I am.
We had family prayer (D. said it, bless his heart) and I tucked in S. I went to J. after he went to bed and asked him if he had anything to say since he hadn't said anything when we were talking earlier. He said, "All I can think is how I heard you arguing with Dad once and you said to him over and over, 'I KNOW the church is true. I know it. I KNOW it.' Now it's confusing when you say you KNOW the church ISN'T true." I told him I understand how that must hurt and confuse him. I explained all my life I believed it WAS true, but I only knew one side...the side the church taught me. They kept out vital parts that they didn't want me to know. My parents only introduced me to one religion that their parents introduced to them. I assured him I love him, and I don't want him to feel hurt, nor do I want him to feel judgemental over me either. I told him if he wanted to keep going to church, I'd support him. He's such a great kid.
Then he asked, "Did you get all this new information from BLOGS?" I told him no. He told me last week he hates bloggers. "If you want to write a journal, write one! Why on earth would you want to write one the whole world can see??" I told him no, that I blog because D. really doesn't like having deep discussions a lot, and it was very helpful to me to sort through my feelings on my blog, and have someone to talk to about it, to get feedback and support from others who have gone through the same disillusionment as I've been going through. It's been a real help to me. I told him also that I was wary to talk to any more members of the church about my concerns because the first friend I told burned me so badly by calling the RS pres, who in turn told someone else so that I got that nasty letter from the high priest group leader.
Needless to say, I didn't sleep so well. I had a MAJOR headache when I crawled into bed at midnight, and then I couldn't sleep even though I was exhausted. I was praying over and over that J. would understand and not be permanently scarred by my revelation. (A little melodramatic, I know.) I also prayed he wouldn't become holier-than-thou and treat us like he's the only spiritual or good one in the family. I don't think he will. At least he better not!
That's my story. The next morning J. woke me up to take him to church. That was hard for me. But then I had to remind myself that even I went to church for weeks after I thought it wasn't true, because I didn't want to be hasty and abrupt in my decision making. Maybe he's doing the same thing. I had him take a note to the primary room that explained to the other pres. members that I wasn't feeling well, and that S. is sick (she really does have a cold) and sorry we weren't able to be there. But J. was up in the stands before Sac. Mtg. and the primary pres. was playing the organ, and she asked him if I was there, and he said, "No." When she asked why not, he told her I had a migraine. At least he didn't lie, I really did. I still have that dumb headache...
Anyway, church is from 9-12, and at around 2 I was napping on the couch when the phone rang and it was the 1st counselor in the primary, and D. said I was in bed sleeping, then he said he wasn't lying for me anymore. :) I WAS sleeping until the phone rang, but I didn't want to talk. Then at around 4 or 5, the Primary pres. came to my door with a small plate of brownies and banana bread, so I went to the door, and she said she was worried about me, and I hugged her and said thanks, and asked her how the program practice went, and I told her I had a bad headache, and S. was sick with a cold, and she saw this for herself. I told her I'd see her Wed at the program practice (it's the quarterly activity I'm in charge of) because I'm bringing the pizzas, plates, drinks, etc. She said, "You ARE coming to that then?" so I think she may know I've been having doubts. Anyway, I assured her I'd be there, but I plan to turn in my receipts for reimbursement that night, and then I plan to send a note to my bishop in the mail on Thurs. that asks him to release me for personal reasons. If he already knows about my questioning the church and whether it's true, he hasn't said one word to me. I'm guessing he won't care when I resign. I'm finding it very interesting and "telling" that he hasn't said anything to me.
I've also decided I won't be attending the primary sac. meeting program this Sunday. Neither will S. This will be an obvious absence to the presidency, and if they don't already know something's up, they will after that. I am very tempted to explain to them in a letter that I've had a faith "crisis," but then D. speaks the voice of reason, saying that it's none of their business, that it's personal and has nothing to do with them. He asked me why I would want to open myself up to them cornering me, two against one, in an argument of whether or not the church is true, because they'll want to convince me that it is in an attempt to save my soul.
I think he's right. I need to look at it objectively and just brush my hands off, sigh, and say It Is Done.
September 16, 2006
Wish us luck. It feels so good to be on the verge of total honesty with my kids.
September 14, 2006
Thank God for 80's hairstyles a.k.a. Bangs To Heaven. I'd sit in Sacrament Meeting to the left of my dad so my big hair on the right side of my head would cover my sleeping face. I was always tired during those Sacrament Mtgs as a teen.
Of course, occasionally my brother and I would not listen to Dad's warning to "Cut the FOLdeROL!" thereby risking the worst punishment in his vast arsenal: The FAMINE!!! We'd do this by opening the hymn book and reading titles with the words "in the Bathtub" behind them. You may also have similar fun when you go into the video rental store and do the same with movie titles. Those were some fun times! To those of you non-believers who still attend church with TBM spouses, I highly recommend this excercise when times get tough.
Here are a few favorites:
Abide with Me!
As I Have Loved You
Because I Have Been Given Much
Choose the Right
Come Along, Come Along
Come, Come, Ye Saints (Was it La who wrote 'Cum, Cum, Ye Saints?')
Come, Follow Me
Count Your Blessings
Do What is Right
Does the Journey Seem Long?
Each Life that Touches Ours for Good
Father, Cheer Our Souls Tonight
Firm as the Mountains Around Us
Gently Raise the Sacred Strain
God be with You Till We Meet Again
Guide Me to Thee
Have I Done Any Good?
He Is Risen!
Help Me Teach with Inspiration
Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth
How Beautiful Thy Temples, Lord
How Gentle God's Commands
How Great Thou Art
I Have Work Enough to Do
I Need Thee Every Hour
I Stand All Amazed
I Will Not Doubt, I Will Not Fear
I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go
Improve the Shining Moments
Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me
Keep the Commandments
Know This, That Every Soul is Free
Lean on my Ample Arm
Let Us All Press On
Love One Another
Master, The Tempest is Raging
More Holiness Give Me
Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning
O, Thou Rock of Our Salvation
On Bended Knees, With Broken Hearts
Praise to the Man
Press Forward, Saints
Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel
Rejoice! A Glorious Sound is Heard
Reverently and Meekly Now
Ring Out, Wild Bells
Rise Up, O Men of God
Rise, Ye Saints, and Temples Enter
School Thy Feelings
See the Mighty Priesthood Gathered
Shall the Youth of Zion Falter
Should You Feel Inclined to Censure
Sing We Now at Parting
Sons of Michael, He Approaches
Sweet is the Work
The Happy Day at Last Has Come
The Iron Rod (This is one of my favorites, of course!)
The Time is Far Spent
The World Has Need of Willing Men
There is Beauty All Around
Thy Servants are Prepared
Thy Spirit, Lord, Has Stirred our Souls
Thy Will, O Lord, Be Done
Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love
Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses
We Are All Enlisted
We Are Sowing
We Have Partaken of thy Love
What Glorious Scenes Mine Eyes Behold
Where Can I Turn for Peace?
With All the Power of Heart and Tongue (another good one)
With Wondering Awe
Ye Simple Souls Who Stray
Ye Who Are Called to Labor
By ‘Dr. Sue’
(a.k.a. Vickie Gunther)
Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do
If you only knew how.
I study the scriptures one hour each day;
and I pray.
I always keep all the commandments completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
I help in their classrooms!
I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice!
I cut all their hair!
I memorize names of the General Authorities;
I focus on things to be done by priorities.
I play the piano!
I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle!
My checkbooks all balance!
Each week every child gets a one-on-one date;
I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)
I’m taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh no! That is not all.
I track my bad habits ‘til each is abolished;
Our t-shirts are ironed! My toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful;
The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.
I do genealogy faithfully, too.
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
I rise each day early, refreshed and awake;
I know all the names of each youth in my stake!
I read to my children! I help all my neighbors!
I bless the community, too, with my labors.
I exercise and I cook menus gourmet;
My visiting teaching is done the first day!
(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
It’s the least I can do for my cherished ward sisters.)
I chart resolutions and check off each goal;
I seek each “lost lamb” on my Primary roll.
I can home-grown produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I write in my journal!
I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write “thank you’s” to those I admire.
My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A’s!
And their bedrooms are clean!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.
I go to the temple at least once a week;
I change the car’s tires! I fix the sink’s leak!
I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread;
I have all our meals planned out six months ahead.
I make sure I rotate our two-year’s supply;
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
These things are not hard;
‘Tis good if you do them;
You can if you try!
Just set goals and pursue them!
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
If you plan and work smart, you can do them all, too!
“It’s easy!” she said
And then she dropped dead.
September 13, 2006
"Why pick on homosexuality?
Having a bit of trouble finding the questions that John Loftus posed on Debunking Christianity. I'll post when I find 'em.
So here's something that puzzles me.
In most translations of the Bible, it's pretty clear that homosexuality is a no-no. There are plenty of other things that are no-nos, of course. The single biggest rule, though, doesn't have anything to do with homosexuality. It's the first commandment (Exodus 20:3), and Jesus puts it above the Golden Rule in Mark 12.
It is this concept: There is no other God but God.
Being gay is not in the Ten Commandments. Being gay is not addressed anywhere by Jesus. But the Christian right want to stop gay marraige because, um, well, I'm not sure.
The American Family Association has an article here that attempts to follow the following logic: If homosexual marraige is legalized, all Christians will be persecuted for their belief that homosexuality is a sin. It cites a teacher who was suspended because of an anti-gay letter he wrote to a newspaper, and a printer who was fined because he refused to print literature from a gay advocacy group.
I guess the Christian right doesn't want gay marraige to be legalized because then they won't be able to legally discriminate against gays.
But, the Christian right isn't making any noise about annulling all marraiges between Sikhs, or Jews, or Muslims, or athiests. "If we legalize it," antigay activists say, "that tells my kids that it's OK to be gay."
Really? Just like it's OK for their kids to be Sikh, or Muslim, or athiest? Many Christian families don't think it's OK to be anything but Christian. Yet thousands of people in America are disobeying the first commandment, nay, what Jesus calls the most important commandment everyday. Why is it OK with Christians that Americans tolerate and offer protection to the breaking of the first and most important commandment, yet homosexuality (which, since Jesus never talks about it, seems like it's much less important of an issue) is condemned to the point where most members of the Christian right still fight to have it criminalized?
Seriously, Christians: why is it OK for Sikhs to get married but not gays?"
Just now while I was sitting here working, I noticed that the light coming from outside was really strange and yellow. I stepped outside and it felt like I was stepping into the Twilight Zone. We have had such huge fires burning in Montana the last couple weeks, and the whole atmosphere is filled with smoke. Today the smoke has apparently created a strange light refracting phenomenon that is absolutely beautiful. I am thrown into an uncontrollable desire to paint RIGHT NOW. It is so beautiful outside. I'm reminded of the surreal feeling I felt when I was 11 and visiting Alaska in the summer, and we'd go outside late at night and it was still very light outside with no sun visible. That's how it feels right now, although the Alaska experience was a distinctly blue atmosphere. Today it's so YELLOW. Golden. With no actual sunshine peeking through the haze. It's just sunlight glowing through a smoky filter. Last night the sun was a huge red orb on the horizon that you could view without sunglasses, due to the smoke.
Beautiful. Sad. Our forests in Montana are so beautiful before they burn.
September 12, 2006
Ten reasons why I can't be a Mormon anymore
10. The Book of Abraham turns out to be a common Egyptian funeral text called the Breathing Permit of Horus.
9. Anachronisms and clear plagiarisms in the Book of Mormon.
8. Joseph Smith's history of claiming to be able to find buried treasure by looking at a rock in a hat, the same method he would later use to "translate" the Book of Mormon.
7. The wholesale stealing of Masonic rites for Joseph's inspired temple ceremony.
6. Joseph's practice of sending men on missions and then "marrying" their wives as soon as they had left town; see, for example, the story of Marinda Johnson Hyde.
5. Joseph's practice of "marrying" teenage girls behind his wife's back and promising eternal life to parents of teenagers for their consent.
4. Widespread use of church funds to enrich church leaders, from the days of the Kirtland Safety Society to Brigham Young and beyond.
3. The Mountain Meadows Massacre.
2. Racism, sexism, and homophobia.
1. Most of all, the church's pattern of hiding all of these things. If you grew up Mormon, you were never told any of these things. They're all true. And I won't be a part of that anymore.
But now he's playing football. I was so glad he made the B squad vs. the A squad. It's because most of the boys on the B squad are the smaller guys. My son is already almost 5'9", weighs around 138 and is the biggest one on his B team. He told me they put him in as linebacker because he's the biggest. This gave me a better feeling because I'm not one of those moms who likes to imagine my son getting pummelled. I've been telling him to hit them as hard as he can, to prevent injury from happening to himself. Part of me wants to prevent this because the soccer season is looming, and I don't want any injuries to affect his soccer.
In fact, we had real reservations about his desire to play football at all. I hate watching football because I really don't understand the rules of the game. Besides, next year in high school, the football and soccer seasons are both in fall, so he'll have to choose one or the other. We said, why bother going out for football if you love soccer most, and next year you won't be able to play football anyway? You risk getting an injury and then what??
J: "I want to try football."
Me: "Think about it a little longer."
2 Days Later
Me: "Did you think about it?"
J: "I want to try football."
Me: "Think about it a little longer. You're risking getting injured. You are going to have to choose football or soccer in high school, you can't do both. I don't see the point of playing football if you love soccer more. REALLY think about it this time."
J: "But how can I choose which I love best if I never try football?"
That's just like him to throw out such a reasonable argument so I have absolutely no recourse but to accept the inevitable.
The worst news, though, came last night as I picked him up. "Guess what, Mom?! Coach pulled me aside and told me to enjoy tomorrow's game because it's my last game I'll play on the B squad. He's moving me to the A squad. I LOVE football!!"
Heaven help me. I'm going to have to find a way to love football too, I guess.
September 11, 2006
Often the only thing I can remember after a blessing or being set apart is how weird it felt having the hands moving around on my head kind of like hands on a oiuja board pointer.
I think it is absolutely lame how Costco makes you pay for a membership to get in their store at all. Then, you have to show your card every time you go, just to get in the door. At the checkout, you have to show your card AGAIN just to buy what you want. THEN, at the door on your way out, you have to stop and show some clerk your RECEIPT so they can match it to the items in your cart to verify you didn't steal anything before you can leave. And I actually PAY THEM to have this distrust and inconvenient experience thrust on me every time I go in there. Unfortunately, they have a couple key items I buy just because they are much cheaper to me than going to a regular grocery store. I'm pathetic. I want to just grow some balls and boycott Costco altogether.
Saturday my daughter and I went with my mother-in-law to a fundraiser event that included a luncheon outside at these really nice gardens. They also held a fashion show while we ate, and it was fun. My daughter took my camera and shot over 200 photos of flowers, bugs, spider webs, etc. She's an artist too, and really good with a camera already at age 8. It'll be interesting to see if she does something with it professionally someday. That nite we went out to my husband's aunt's farm and had a kind of mini-family reunion which was great fun. The kids really enjoyed playing outside and found tons of fun things to keep themselves occupied for hours, without even thinking about TV, Playstation, radio, or anything electronic. I loved it because it's so pretty in the country. I wish I lived where I had a view like that each day. Makes me wanna paint cows.
Saturday nite my son mentioned he was going to church, and I told him I wasn't going, but he was welcome to go if he wanted...just wake me up if you decide to go so I can take you on time. He looked at me strangely but didn't say anything. Needless to say, we all slept in on Sunday and nobody mentioned it at all. I'm slightly surprised that nobody from the primary presidency called me to see if anything was amiss or find out why I didn't come. I also find it interesting nobody in my son's quorum ever calls him when he's been gone. Not even to tell him what the activity is this Wed. Of course they may not even have it planned yet, the way they do things last minute. It was my month to "float" in primary so I didn't leave anyone in a bind by not being there. Maybe the word got out in the last ward council. Who knows? Who cares?
Actually, I'm still a bit miffed that the RS president, my friend, knows about my questioning of the truthfulness of the gospel, yet she hasn't contacted me at all. I'm toying with the idea that it'd be fun to drop her an e-mail and ask her point blank why she didn't call me or e-mail me herself rather than sic the high priest group leader on me. Any thoughts? It may be me relishing the idea of a verbal sparring session...so maybe I'll just resist and resign myself to the truth: I don't have any close friends in the ward that really truly care.
September 8, 2006
The Pit and the Pendulum
I was told this week by someone close to me that it seems like I've gone from one extreme to another in a very short period of time regarding my thoughts toward the church...like a pendulum swinging. I guess it seems strange to others that I could go from such a "strong testimony" to not believing in such a short period of time.
This may be true. It was early this year that I was adamant in my feeling that I needed to get myself to the temple. I was so certain that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I "knew" that it was right. I convinced my sister to prepare herself if she wanted to go through the temple with me, because I was at the point where I needed to go, with or without her. I believe my words were, "I've never felt more driven than I do right now to go to the temple. I KNOW it's where I'm supposed to go, with every fiber of my being." Of course we always felt like it'd be better if we went through together for the first time, especially since we both had some hesitation over the unknown aspects of the temple experience, and we also had the common bond of being married to non-member men, and being the only active siblings out of 7 in our family. We were each other's support group in the gospel. So she and I prepared and we started the temple prep class. We only made it to one class, back in May or June I think, and then we were so busy and I cancelled a few times because I wasn't in the mood to add yet another meeting to my Sundays....
My point is, I was as righteous as I've ever been, up until the very moment that I found the information on the internet that led me to know that the church is not true. So if that seems like I've gone from one extreme to another....well, of course I have. It makes sense. I don't think one has to be in a non-righteous state of mind to find out truth. It can happen at anytime, to anyone. I am still the same person I was before I knew; I'm still "righteous." The truth I found was shocking and hard to swallow, and it was so big that I couldn't just ignore it and hope it would go away. I'm dealing with it the best I know how.
I talk about the church a lot, and much of what I say is negative. Right now it seems like I can say nothing good about it anymore. I don't necessarily feel like it's ALL bad, but much of what I allowed myself to feel was OK during my time in the church really wasn't, and I can see that now since my perception has changed. Now I'm looking at it objectively for the first time, without the bias that it's true no matter what, and I find many things lacking. Things that always bugged me but I never allowed myself to dwell on have come to the fore, and it seems like they spill out of me with no order or reason. But it's how I feel, and I'm glad I can throw my feelings out here on my blog. Soon I will also post some of my thoughts and memories that are good, as there are probably many things in the church that helped shape me into the person I am today.
I am no longer willing to dedicate my entire life and all my limited spare time to something that is based on falsehoods and one guy's sham. It just doesn't seem like the sensible thing for me to do. I'd rather raise my kids without religion than raise them in the church until they are adults, and thereby risk having them go through this same journey of disillusionment. It hurts. At the same time, I've never felt happier about who I am or where I'm headed.
"Not even one?!" she asks with shock in her voice. I'm irritated that I feel compelled to explain myself. "I know I'm always 100% (I have no partner right now) but I was really busy this month with school starting and with planning a trip to Utah, so I didn't find time." Worse, I had to yell above all the screaming people ~ when she asks where I am: "I'm at Lagoon today! Sunday was the only day my brother could come with us!" Then I get an "Oooooooh." Like I care what she thinks. I'm irritated I even felt the need to explain. Next time I'll just say nope. Didn't do it. No explaining.
I have enjoyed visiting teaching because I've always done it on my terms. I do it on my lunch hour at the restaurant of my ladies' choice. This keeps it short and sweet, and it's fun to gift ourselves with a fun lunch among friends. I really enjoy it. I've only recently in the last two months had visiting teachers who actually visit me, and we do it over lunch as well. It seems that for years I've been assigned home teachers and visiting teachers who don't visit me...
I probably would have done my visiting teaching in August, if it wasn't for the fact that one of my ladies is the RS president (who admitted she put herself on my list because she likes me a lot and wanted to get to know me better), the same one who found out from my friend that I'm questioning the church and rather than call me herself, she told the bishop or high priest group leader, prompting my fun letter (See the letter here.)
I'm laughing at the phone call, though. How uncomfortable. Someday maybe that won't bother me so much.
September 5, 2006
We left on Fri at around 1:45 p.m. and arrived in SLC at around 11 p.m. It's a long drive but pretty at this time of year. We got up on Saturday and hung out with my mom and sister and my other sister's kids who were visiting as well. The kids swam at Mom's pool, and then we went to a Real Salt Lake soccer match vs. Denver. It was pretty fun. The most people you'll find at an event here in Blgs is around 10,000 but at this soccer game there were over 17,000 people so it was really fun to feel the crowd and get into the mob mentality. Fun times. Even if they lost 1-0.
Sunday we got up slowly and then rushed to get to Lagoon to meet my family at the entrance ~ we had arranged to meet at 11:00 a.m. After we'd been waiting there for 15 minutes I remembered that my family is NEVER on time, and we started making calls. My brother said he'd be about an hour late, he had already let my mom know. My sister was just getting into the shower and would be late as well. My mom never answered her phone. Finally at around 11:40 my mom got there and we were able to go in. My brother arrived after we'd been in there for a short while. I've been married to a punctual man of German lineage and I've become puctual since being married to him. I always forget that I come from people who run on Mormon Standard Time. Regardless of the rocky start, it ended up being a great day!
When I was in my late teens I was at the fair and went on a couple rides that went around and around and got sick in the garbage can once I got off. I figured I had gotten too old for rides and that was it. I haven't really been on rides since. But this weekend my brother convinced me to go on some rides that I hadn't been on since childhood, and can I just say: I'm not as old as I thought I was!!! I had so much fun! The rides I went on include:
The Rocket ~ a ride that has two versions...take off and re-entry. You sit in this little seat with feet dangling, and the bars lower over your chest and you hang on to them for dear life, because without warning suddenly you are shot straight up FAST, and then you drop and go back up and down until it stops and the torment is over. Holy shit, can I just say the re-entry one that drops you from the top is WAY WORSE than the one that starts at the bottom! We got to the line at 9:45 p.m., and they said there was a 15 minute delay, so we waited, and wondered what was up. Apparently the aparatus that lowers over your body to "strap you in" didn't stay hooked and they were fixing it...But I didn't know this until I was already strapped in waiting for it to lift me. The gal comes around and does a pull-check on each of our seats to see if they are secure, then I heard the guy on the microphone say, "It'd be a good idea to check them all one more time." A minute later we were suddenly being slowly lifted, and all I could say was, "Oh shit, she didn't come back and check ours!!" I knew then that I was dead. I was frantically doing my own check and then making sure my white knuckle grip was strong enough that if my seat decided to malfunction, I'd be OK since my death grip wouldn't allow me to leave the seat anyway. That drop is so intense! Crazy!
The Spider ~ a roller coaster where the cars are made for 4 people who sit back to back, and the car spins around on its base while it goes on the track. Very cool.
The Wild Mouse ~ I forgot how bad I hate that ride...it looks so mild when you watch it from the ground, but it kicks butt. I'm afraid I swore too many times in my daughter's ear as we were whipping around all those little loops it has. Horrid ride!
The Wooden Roller Coaster ~ that bad boy should probably be condemned, it's that old and rickety. The fear factor on that ride is real. It truly feels like it's gonna jump the rails and send you to your death. I remember my dad telling stories of when he was a teen and worked Lagoon...they'd ride the car hanging off it backwards, and pull out any nails that were sticking out.
The Jet Star ~ a smaller roller coaster that is way fun to go on. My husband even went on it with me! He didn't do too many rides after that. He thought about the Wild Mouse but thankfully he didn't! He'd have never forgiven me if he'd experienced it with no warning from those of us who had been there before.
The Log Ride ~ the ride had such a long line that we stood in for half an hour, and it was way not worth the long wait. But it was fun to stand there with my brother and laugh at our own observations of some of the people in line with us. One lady, swear to God, looked just like the old lady in the movie Goonies, you know, the bad guy's mom. And we had a good secret laugh at the two guys, one who was young and handsome as all get-out, who was with this way older man, who I thought must be his dad from first glance, until the old guy leaned forward and started nibbling on the other's shirt. I mean NIBBLING. Plucking at it with his lips between his shoulder blades. I saw him do it at least 10 times. We had a good laugh because it was so blatantly intimate in this hot line of people, and they didn't look like a couple at first glance. Now, before anyone gets any wrong ideas, I have nothing against gay people, one of my brothers is gay, and I love him dearly. It would have been just as much fun to laugh at a guy and girl if they had been doing the same thing. I guess what was so fun about standing in that line was the feeling of going back in time with my brother, who was my best friend growing up, and practicing our well-honed skill of making derogatory remarks about others in secret, just to make each other laugh. Nothing personal. And nevermind that I felt secretly jealous that I never had a relationship that loving or whatever that someone felt like nibbling on my shirt in public. Sigh. Honeymoon's been over a LOOONG time.
Rattlesnake Rapids ~ where you sit in these big round boats and get soaked as you head down these rapids and under a waterfall. I got drenched under that stupid waterfall! It was tons of fun. I think my tennies got ruined. I KNOW my kids' tennies got ruined. That stench is something for the recordbooks.
I'm sure I went on other rides but can't recall them all now. It was loads of fun. I was so impressed with my 8 yr old daughter, though. She went on all the big rides (she did Colossus 3 times!) and loved them. I thought for sure she'd be scared to death. Instead, while we're on the Spider and I'm screaming "OH SHIT" at the top of my lungs, she's screaming "Righteous! Righteooooss!" at the top of hers. Too funny. She's got guts, that's for sure.
The drive home was uneventful. I really hated seeing the huge areas near Big Timber and Livingston that have been burned in the huge fire that's still raging. The air in the valley near Whitehall was entirely filled with smoke. We couldn't even see the mountain range that surrounds that area, it was so smoky. Fire scares me. We saw the campground/headquarters for the firefighters and it was crazy seeing this huge ridge on fire in the distance, and the helicopters flying over with little buckets of water that looked to be about the size of a thimble, and you wonder if that fire will ever end. Heaven knows we don't get enough rain here.
Back to the old grindstone!