Oops! Sorry, President Brigham Young!

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

Did you see that last sentence? “This will always be so.”

While I’m mostly from European descent, I am something like 1/64th black. My husband is from a Polish/German/Ukranian bloodline. No black there.

We’re both still alive.

I’m just sayin’.

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On a Deserted Island

I’m not sure what just brought this into my mind, but there it is nonetheless.

That random question: If you could only have one book (or 5) if you were stranded on a deserted island, what book(s) would you choose?

When that question got answered at church functions, I can’t tell you how many people said “Book of Mormon.” I always felt vaguely guilty because it wouldn’t have even been in my top 50. (Only one: Canterbury Tales; Five: Canterbury Tales, Inferno, Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Jane Eyre, and The Consolation of Philosophy.) Yes. I’m a dork.

The thought of being stranded with only the Book of Mormon to read until/unless I were rescued is frightening. How about Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy? I’d choose that over the BOM. Or the J.K. Rowling oeuvre. (That would be on my top 5 if it were allowed to be counted as one book, and would probably replace Boethius.) Vanity Fair? I hate that novel, but even it would be preferable to the BOM. I might actually manage to read the whole damned thing before hurling it across the room in disgust (as I did the last time I attempted to read it), or, rather, hurling it into the oceans, although I suspect even hungry sharks would find that one hard to digest. Hmmm, that makes me wonder. Which would a hungry shark prefer to eat: the BOM or Vanity Fair? 

I’d even rather have Ellen Hopkins’s books than the BOM, and I can’t stand her books. Ugh. Besides, the paper her books are printed on are more sturdy, and would make better toilet paper.

Nevermore will I feel even vaguely guilty for not including the dreck known as the Book of Mormon in any list of books I’d read or want to read. I read it several times and thank the flying spaghetti monster that I never have to read it again. Unless I’m in hell. Hell would involve the Book of Mormon, Ellen Hopkins’s books, Vanity Fair, and a lot of manuscripts with serious punctuation and grammatical errors, and no red pencils. And chains. Not the sexy kind. Maybe handcuffs. Again, not the sexy kind. And the person I sarcastically refer to as my bff. Oh god–being handcuffed to her and chained to a desk and having to read the BOM, Ellen Hopkins’s books, Vanity Fair, and a lot of manuscripts with serious punctuation and grammatical errors, and no red pencils. That, my friends, would be hell. 

I’m just sayin’.

Gonna Sit Right down and Write a Letter!

Only I’m not the one doing the writing this time. I got an email from my mother stating that she’s trying to write me a letter. I am assuming/hoping(?) that it is in response to the points I raised in my letter to her last week.

My mother is brilliant. Seriously. She studied Egyptology for years. So I’m interested to hear her opinion of the Book of Abraham vs. the actual translations of the papyri. She has had extensive experience in forensics way before forensics was cool. She has a Ph.D. in English.

I hope she writes her letter soon, because I’m eager to read it. I hope she does address my issues. But I’m afraid it’s just going to be testimony, testimony, testimony.

I used to bear my testimony fairly often. And I was sincere when I did it. One of my very best friends asked me how I felt about that now. I feel a bit conflicted, to be honest. Because my beliefs that I had then, although I would say not that I believed, but that I knew, were genuine. And the beliefs that I have now are genuine. I think one of the differences is that my beliefs then were based on feeling, rather than facts. How did I feel when I was at church? Well, besides frequent boredom, I felt good. It was good to be around people who had the same beliefs and standards that I held. How do I feel now? I know I keep coming back to this word: authentic.

I actually began my exodus in 2001. I still attended, off and on at different times, but it was interesting to see how many people drew away from me as I stood up and declared my intention to be true to myself. I quit doing crafts. I changed my name. I quit dressing like a molly. People that I had considered my friends began showing that they were no such thing. I became incredibly lonely, and had it not been for my sister and taking classes at uni and a few true friends, I don’t know how I would have handled things.

Mormon women can say incredibly stupid, thoughtless, and heartless things to people who don’t fit the mold, particularly when it comes to infertility. They jokingly offer to give me their kids, who are driving them nuts. They say things like it just must not be God’s will for me to have children. There were more, but I’ve blessedly put them out of my mind. The more I stood up for myself and tried to have integrity, the fewer friends I had at church.

I did have one, though, I thought. My visiting teacher. I had the same woman as visiting teacher for years. She faithfully sent me a copy of the VT message each month, with a thoughtful note, and she faithfully came every third month to visit. (Why didn’t I realise she was only my assigned friend?) She always wanted to know what she could do to help me. So one of the last things I did on my way out, while I was still desperately trying to hang on, was ask her for something. Turned out she only wanted to help me on her terms and her schedule and her opinion of what I needed. She didn’t want to genuinely help me. She still writes me every now and then, and I just bin her letters without even opening them.

My mother is a weirdo. I take after her in a lot of ways, although I have some of my father in me as well, so I’m able to function better in society than she can. I want to know her responses to my points, even though I know I’m not going to change her mind, and she’s not going to change mine. Kind of like how the bishop wanted to meet with me when I told him I wanted no contact, before I resigned, only I didn’t have to keep him in my family, so I could just “say no.” I can’t just say no to my Mom. My leaving the church will always be a sticking point. And yet I can’t–won’t–go back. “Gonna stand my ground, and I won’t back down.” Neither will she. And that’s okay, because she’s my mother and I love her.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sin

It’s been a nice weekend. Got to snuggle with my Emmylou Friday after work. Saturday I got my hair done, did a little shopping, and went by the house to see the progress.  My floors look lovely!!!  I’ve been battling back and forth with my husband and our contractor. I originally wanted cherry stain on the floors and kitchen cabinets. My husband and contractor like the grain of the cabinets (maple) and wanted to just put a clear varnish. And they said the cherry was too dark on the floors. I gave in on the cabinets. And I picked a stain for the floors that’s darker than what they wanted, and didn’t have the red hues of the cherry. I was really pleased to see how great the floors look. The contractor is doing the paint touch-ups today, and he’s painting my red accent walls in the living room/dining area today. And I picked a pretty cream for the exterior that picks up the cream in our bricks nicely. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

This morning my sister and I went to Trader Joe’s. Didn’t get any wine, since it’s illegal to sell alcoholic beverages before noon on Sundays. No big. I bought a gorgeous mum plant, and enough food to feed me and my husband for at least a week, if not longer. And I remembered the green tea mints (love them!) and got some fleur de sel caramels.

I also had breakfast both yesterday and today at Waffle House, home of the best coffee ever. I’d take Waffle House coffee over Starbucks any day of the week. Seeing as how my sister is the one who got me hooked on Waffle House coffee, it seemed appropriate to buy her a Waffle House mug. She was thrilled, and said she was taking it to work.

Now I’m about to watch what will probably be a ridiculously kitschy scary movie. Emmylou’s under the comforter snuggled against my knees. Then a load or two of laundry, and I’ll be ready for another week of work.

Hope y’all enjoyed your weekend as much as I enjoyed mine.

Oh–and the sweet sin I referred to? Besides the Waffle House coffee, I mean. Frozen sangria. Frozen strawberry daiquiri. I plan to enjoy the latter whilst soaking in the tub tonight.

 

Feeling Better Today

I take a ton of medicine for bipolar depression and anxiety. That means I don’t cry. I cried a lot when my newphew passed away 2 years ago, but only for a few days, and then I dried up. I cried when my house caught fire, but only for a few days, and then I dried up. There are times when I know intellectually that if I were able to feel, I would be sorrowful and tearful, but could not really feel the sensation. (That, for the record, is why I attempted getting off all those medications. But then my arthritis got drastically worse, and my primary care physician sternly [well, as stern as he could ever get] instructed me to start taking them again.)

So when I tell you that I did a lot of crying yesterday, that means something. I cried in the bathroom at work. I cried at my desk. I cried on the way home. I cried when I was talking to my husband about yesterday.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed of being chased by someone who wanted to kill me and rescued by someone who loved me, and we were dancing the mazurka when my alarm went off. (For the record–I’ve never danced the mazurka before, and didn’t even know it was a dance, although I knew it was Polish. In my dream it was similar to the polka, and I found it interesting when I wikipedia’d it and found out that it’s a Polish national dance similar to the polka.)

I’m better today, as I said. I can go home this afternoon and post on Facebook that I drank my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. I couldn’t have posted that before Wednesday, because I hadn’t yet told my mother I wasn’t mormon anymore. And because I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, that mean’s it’s officially autumn, even though it’s going to be a billion degrees today. The weather people say it’s supposed to be in the 80’s tomorrow, and it’s all because of that pumpkin spice latte. I’m just sayin’.

I’ve got 2 more weeks in my current job. I’m going through all the tests we do, and making sure everything is written accurately, that the sample sources are documented accurately, and have everything ready to go for my replacement. I’m a little nervous about starting my new job, because it will be so different from what I’ve ever done before. My husband is a little disturbed that I’m going sideways instead of up, but I’ve explained to him that in the position I currently occupy, with my OM being unable to get approval to promote me, the only way I can go up is to go sideways first. I’ll have to be in that position for 12 months before I can start applying again. But then I can show in black and white what I accomplished in the job I’m moving to as a result of my experience in compliance and quality, as well as my background as an admin.  I am ambitious, and I will be moving up.

And this weekend? I plan to mostly loll around the house, with a quick drive to pick up some botanicals from one of my bff’s, and maybe Trader Joe’s Sunday morning. Enjoy your weekend!

Authenticity

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve had trouble blogging on my regular blog. I’ve felt like I was being inauthentic, not honest, because I had to conceal the fact that I’ve left the church because my mother reads that blog and I didn’t want her to find out until I told her. I was going to wait until I saw her in person, but yesterday realised I couldn’t wait anymore. 

Because I communicate best in writing, and my mother is a writer herself, I wrote a long thoughtful email, highlighting some of the issues and my beliefs about them. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. (I sent this yesterday, btw.)

This morning I couldn’t stand it, and asked if she were okay, and re-emphasizing that I love her and hate to hurt her.

Her response was, I suppose, pretty much what I had expected. What I wasn’t expecting was how much it would hurt. She didn’t respond to any of the direct examples or points that I’d made, beyond asking if I’ve ever heard of the pseudipegrapha (I probably spelled that wrong, sorry) and that certain books in the OT are fiction, doesn’t that mean we should throw out the OT? And the NT is definitely true. And so is the BOM and the POGP. And Obama is a traitor, and the Democrat party throws out religion and funds abortions. And my apostasy is my own decision.

But really–no one decides to be an apostate. I didn’t wake up a year and a half ago, and say, “Woohoo! I’m going to apostatise from the Mormon Church!”

It all started with questions. And questions led to answers and more questions, until I finally had to face the facts. It wasn’t true.  I remember standing at a precipice, knowing that if I looked any further, there would be no going back. I could “choose to believe” or I could continue to seek truth. I chose truth.

I don’t know what’s out there. I don’t know who/what/how/why the universe was created. And I’m cool with not knowing. I don’t know what’s going to happen after I die. Maybe I’ll be dust in the wind. Maybe I’ll be reincarnated as a cat or a stinkbug. Maybe the mormon god is the one true god and I’ll be in outer darkness with the rest of the apostates. Maybe allah is the one true god and I’ll be destroyed with the other infidels. Maybe the christian god is the one true god and I’ll burn in the fiery pits of Mordor–whoops, sorry, hell. Maybe there’s something beyond this life that is beyond anything we can possibly know or understand. Until I die, I won’t know. 

I was watching a serialisation of a P.D. James book last night, and one of the characters said, regarding her granddaughter who had (a) had an abortion and (b) presumably killed herself, “I forgive her. And I can’t be more merciful than God.” I like her idea of things. If there’s a god, and zie is all the good things we’ve been told, then I can’t be more compassionate, more merciful, more forgiving than that god. We judge each other based on what we see and experience with each other, and if there is that good, just, merciful god, zie can see my heart. And I have a good heart.

I won’t stop blogging here. I have a lot to say about my former life as a mormon, and my current life as an exmormon. But I’m hoping I’ll find it easier to be blogging on my other blogs because I won’t have to be hiding from my mother anymore. Chauceriangirl, if you’re interested, on wordpress, and quirky girls, also on wordpress. 

I look forward to a long and interesting life with all of you! Sincerely, Faith the Apostate.

Everything Happens for a Reason

At least, that was my logic as a TBM. So whenever something bad happened in my life, instead of raising my arms to the sky and saying “Hasa Diga Eebowai”, I would try to find the horse in the piles of horse shit. (Do you remember that story? One Christmas a kid saw a huge pile of horse shit and enthusiastically started digging, saying, “There has to be a horse in here somewhere!”)

So when I woke up today, hurting worse than I have yet since this flare-up started, I started to automatically question whether there is a lesson I’m supposed to be learning. Or is it karma? Or is it just one of those things?

I lean toward the fact that it’s just one of those things. Shit happens, and there isn’t always a horse involved.

Conscience

I started a book by Clarence Darrow, and found this intriguing quotation:

“Conscience is purely a matter of environment, education and temperament, and is no more infallible than any habit or belief. Whether one should always follow his conscience is another question, and cannot be confounded with the question as to whether conscience is an infallible guide to conduct.”

This got me to thinking about the issue of conscience. We’re all familiar with Polonius’s counsel to Laertes, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”  I had a fascinating discussion with a professor at university about that–he felt Polonius was double-speaking, as he was the ultimate yes-man–and still haven’t decided for myself what Shakespeare meant.

How has my sense of conscience altered since leaving TSCC? Well for starters, I no longer believe I’m going to hell because I like sweet tea (and coffee, and alcohol). But I still believe in being kind to people, which means that not always, but frequently when I cuss people out as I’m driving, I apologise. That would probably be amusing to anyone who happened to be in my car when I’m cussing someone out, but I don’t tend to do it then. Only when I’m alone. Apologise, I mean. But those are minor things.

I like what Mark Twain had to say about conscience: “Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

This next one I don’t like quite so much, but I can recognise the honesty in it: “The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.” (Bertram Russell)

Then there’s this, by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.”

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

And normally I’d read these latter quotations, by King & Gandhi, and feel inspired. But I have to say that I think Darrow hit the nail on the head. My conscience is based on so many things, truth not necessarily being one of them. There are people whose conscience dictates they kill people because of religion. They think they’re doing right.

They’re not.

Until and unless our conscience is based on real, solid Truth with a capital T, our conscience should not necessarily be our guide.

The Princess and the Pea

I had an MRI this morning. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that it was an open MRI. I was having some anxiety nonetheless, until the kind technician put a fan in there so I was getting some air circulation. And I think I now know what the princess in the story of the princess and the pea must have felt like, because he taped fish oil capsules to my upper back and middle back, and I had to lay there for what ended up being about 45-50 minutes, when you count all the stops and readjustments. I’m hopeful that by the end of the week, we’ll have some idea of what’s going on with my poor back. 

I’m currently reading The Apostasy of a High Priest: The Sociology of an American Cult by Park B. Romney. It’s rather good. I’m looking forward to having the time to just sit and read.

Yesterday I read a brief book, The City of the Mormons, by Henry Caswell. He was visiting St. Louis in April 1842, and decided to stop at Nauvoo and see what Mormonism was all about. He took a Greek Psalter with him, curious to see what Joseph Smith, alleged translator of ancient texts, would think of it. Caswell’s description of Smith is less than flattering:

As I advanced with my book in my hand, numerous Mormons came forth from their dwellings, begging to be allowed to see its mysterious pages; and by the time I reached the prophet’s house, they amounted to a perfect crowd.

[35] I met Joseph Smith at a short distance from his dwelling, and was regularly introduced to him. I had the honour of an interview with him who is a prophet, a seer, a merchant, a “revelator,” a president, an elder, an editor, and the general of the “Nauvoo legion.” He is a coarse, plebeian person in aspect, and his countenance exhibits a curious mixture of the knave and the clown. His hands are large and fat, and on one of his fingers he wears a massive gold ring, upon which I saw an inscription. His dress was of coarse country manufacture, and his white hat was enveloped by a piece of black crape as a sign of mourning for his deceased brother, Don Carlos Smith, the late editor of the “Times and Seasons.” His age is about thirty-five. I had not an opportunity of observing his eyes, as he appears deficient in that open, straightforward look which characterizes an honest man.

As he had anticipated, Smith was very excited to see the Greek book, only according to Smith it wasn’t Greek.

“No,” he said; “it ain’t Greek at all; except, perhaps, a few words. What ain’t Greek, is Egyptian; and what ain’t Egyptian, is Greek. This book is very valuable. It is a dictionary of Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said: “Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics; and them which follows, is[36] the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraved on the golden plates.” Upon this, the Mormons around began to congratulate me on the information I was receiving. “There,” they said; “we told you so—we told you that our prophet would give you satisfaction. None but our prophet can explain these mysteries.” The prophet now turned to me, and said, “this book ain’t of no use to you, you don’t understand it.” “Oh yes,” I replied; “it is of some use; for if I were in want of money, I could sell it, and obtain, perhaps, enough to live on for a whole year.” “But what will you take for it?” said the prophet and his elders. “My price,” I replied, “is higher than you would be willing to give.” “What price is that?” they eagerly demanded. I replied, “I will not tell you what price I would take; but if you were to offer me this moment nine hundred dollars in gold for it, you should not have it.” They then repeated their request that I should lend it to them until the prophet should have time to translate it, and promised me the most ample security; but I declined all their proposals. I placed the book in several envelopes, and as I deliberately tied knot after knot, the countenances of many among them gradually sunk into an expression of great despondency. Having exhibited the book to the prophet, I requested him in return to shew me his papyrus; and to give me his own explanation, which I had hitherto received only at second hand. He proceeded with me to his office, accompanied by the multitude. He produced the glass frames which I had seen on the previous day; but he did not appear

[37] very forward to explain the figures. I pointed to a particular hieroglyphic, and requested him to expound its meaning. No answer being returned, I looked up, and behold! the prophet had disappeared. The Mormons told me that he had just stepped out, and would probably soon return. I waited some time, but in vain: and at length descended to the street in front of the store. Here I heard the noise of wheels, and presently I saw the prophet in his waggon, flourishing his whip and driving away as fast as two fine horses could draw him. As he disappeared from view, enveloped in a cloud of dust, I felt that I had turned over another page in the great book of human nature.

Would that I had seen the fallacy of the religion that sucked up 30 years of my life as quickly as did Caswell! I studied Egyptology enough that I should have realised the truth about the Book of Abraham. I should have looked at the characters alleged to be reformed Egyptian and realised they were completely made up.

Better to see the light now than letting another 30 years go by!