Friday, September 30, 2011

General Conference

When I was a fledgling member of TSCC, I looked at conference weekend as a vacation from church. I didn't go to the stake center to watch any of the sessions. I spent Saturday as I would any Saturday, and on Sunday I sat around home and read bad Mormon literature. By bad Mormon literature, I mean those ghastly huge volumes of what looked like typed and photocopied stories and "poetry" that were a precursor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul type books.  I've long ago forgotten what they were called, and have no desire to remember.

Then I began attending a student ward, and suddenly I was around people who actually watched general conference, so I went, too. And my friends took journals with them so they could take notes, so I did, too. I remember writing, in one of my journals back then, that I would think I was doing pretty well, and then go to General Conference and find out what more I had to do, so I'd start working on that. I tried to word it in a positive manner, but the fact remains that I was trying to be perfect all at once.

I got married, and we were active for quite some time. While we lived in Utah, we watched general conference at home, occasionally meandering down to Temple Square to watch there. When we moved back to Texas, we would go to the stake center and watch. I felt guilty, because in the dark room I always fell asleep. Usually during Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

And then we began watching it at home via streaming video on our computer. And I would lay in bed and go to sleep with the dulcet tones of Russell M. Nelson. Do they deliberately sound so soporific, so they can keep the Morg assimilated? Inquiring Minds want to know.

So now it's general conference weekend. I haven't gone to Deseret Book to buy uplifting church books. I haven't been listening to uplifting church talk CDs in my car. I haven't opened up the BYU streaming website on my computer, in preparation for watching it. In fact, we have BYU TV as part of our cable line-up. Did I add it to my favourites? Ha! Heck no! And when I'm not surfing via my favourites, I say "ha!" every time I pass it up when I'm flipping through the channels.

I feel like I'm awake after years and years of being asleep. No sing-songy talks by the token women to listen to. No sleep-inducing hypnotic talks by The Men In Charge of Everything. Tomorrow I'm meeting my sister in the afternoon, and we're going to go mall walking, see a movie (probably an R-rated one), have lunch, and talk about things. I don't know yet what I'll be doing Sunday. Maybe nothing. Maybe just sitting around reading the new Richard Dawkins book I bought for my nook, and eating good food.

And if my husband decides he needs to watch conference, I will be heading out of the apartment. I'll go sit by the swimming pool and get a sunburn, or else I'll go to the giant mall and walk around for exercise and watch another R-rated movie. Or I'll go sit at the bookstore near work and read.

You know what makes me just sick? Back in the day, whenever a general authority would stand up to give his talk, I would tell my husband, "Oh, I just love [name redated]!" Over and over and over.  I can't say that anymore. I don't know if these men deliberately deceive people into subservient slavery when they themselves know the church can't be true, or if at least some of them genuinely believe it. But I believe enough of them have to know they're living a lie that I can no longer say "Oh, I just love [name redacted]!" It's more like, "I wonder how much he knows about (whatever I'm thinking of at the moment)." It's, "how culpable is he?" It's, "how can you say you love the sinner but hate the sin, when you excommunicate a man who gets the courage to come out to his family of 5 children and his religion, and that man commits suicide? Because if that's love, I'll take outright hatred, thank you very much."

So now I'm going to go see what R-rated movies are showing this weekend that I want to see.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who Said It?

  • “After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked—as I am surprisingly often—why I bother to get up in the mornings.” - I love this! Just reading his description of earth made me giddy and joyful.
  • “The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.”  - I spent years staying away from anything that could be construed as anti-Mormon literature, without realising that anything that says anything negative, whether truthful or not, about the Mormon church is considered anti-Mormon literature.
  • “Isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?”  - I've always wondered why I was born. And I love discovering the world, even on those days when I'm not necessarily rejoicing to be part of it.
  • "The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite." - I've never been much of a scientist, but when I learn new things, I do feel that sense of awed wonder. It's beautiful.
  • "We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?"  - I've been far less afraid of death since realising that I don't believe in the Mormon God. I don't know if there's something greater out there, something larger, something more wonderful than we can even imagine, but I hope there is. But even so, that tremendous fear of death, fear of dying having spent my whole life disappointing God, is mostly gone.
  • "Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!" - And of course he is referring here to all religion, not just those with which other religions happen to disagree.
  • "Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish." - Think of a newborn, intent upon survival. That selfishness innate in us from the beginning keeps us alive, and as we grow, we learn generosity and altruism, as a way to help others survive and thrive.
  • "You could give Aristotle a tutorial. And you could thrill him to the core of his being. Aristotle was an encyclopedic polymath, an all time intellect. Yet not only can you know more than him about the world. You also can have a deeper understanding of how everything works. Such is the privilege of living after Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Planck, Watson, Crick and their colleagues." - The Catholic church KNEW Galileo was wrong....
  • "If you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so. The trick is to want the right things, then science will provide you with the most effective methods of achieving them." - You don't have to be religious or a member of a particular group of people in order to want to do good. It's something we learn from people around us, and, as we grow, from within ourselves.
  • "My point is not that religion itself is the motivation for wars, murders and terrorist attacks, but that religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a 'they' as opposed to a 'we' can be identified at all." - I remember the people in the Book of Mormon who built themselves a tower and stood upon it thanking god for the fact that they were so much more righteous than the others around them. The Book of Mormon may be fiction (is, in my opinion), but there is certainly no lack of that "us vs. them" mentality.
  • "I do remember one formative influence in my undergraduate life. There was an elderly professor in my department who had been passionately keen on a particular theory for, oh, a number of years, and one day an American visiting researcher came and he completely and utterly disproved our old man's hypothesis. The old man strode to the front, shook his hand and said, "My dear fellow, I wish to thank you, I have been wrong these fifteen years". And we all clapped our hands raw. That was the scientific ideal, of somebody who had a lot invested, a lifetime almost invested in a theory, and he was rejoicing that he had been shown wrong and that scientific truth had been advanced." - My husband still, every now and then, apologises for asking the questions that led me to the answers that ended up in my leaving the church. Me? I'm elated! Sorry to know that I spent the last 30 years believing something untrue, but delighted to know the truth at last.
  • "You've just said a very revealing thing. Are you telling me that the only reason you don't steal and rape and murder is that you're frightened of God?" - I don't steal and rape and murder because I want to be a good person. That's it. I didn't need God to tell me not to do those things.
I could go on and on and on, but I shan't, because I'm going to be doing a lot of reading.

Thanks, Richard Dawkins. You're not the demon I've always heard you to be.

Free Coffee!!

I went to 7-11 today for my weekly Slurpee fixed, and was pleasantly surprised to see their signs promoting free coffee morning! Thursday, September 29th, between 7 and 11 a.m., you can get a free medium coffee from 7-11 (does not include iced coffee).

I'm all over that!

Banned Books Week

Yes, the Book of Mormon has been burned and/or banned/challenged by different competing religious factions.

Artist: Multiple popular artists and writers, Religious materials

Confronting Bodies: Harvest Assembly of God Church

Date of Action: March 2001

Specific Location: Harvest Assembly of God Church parking lot, Penn Township, Butler County, PA.

Description of Artwork: Books, Music CDs and tapes, Videotapes, Religious materials

Description of Incident: The Harvest Assembly of God Church held a book, music, and videotape burning ceremony in the parking lot of their church. Approximately 30 participants gathered to burn their own possessions that they felt were disloyal to God. The event was the idea of some church youths who were studying the book of Revelations. Acts 19:19 was also sited as inspiration, given its description of how former practitioners of magic burned their books in public. Participants congregated for the ceremony where in they deposited their popular music, literature, and movies in the fire, while singing Christian songs. Among the "objectionable material" was music from artists such as REM, Bruce Springsteen, and Foreigner. Disney movies and Harry Potter novels were destroyed for promoting sorcery. Additionally, Mormon and Jehovah's Witness materials were burned for not being truly Christian since they promoted several gods. The event was catered toward people who had already "received Christ" and wanted to demonstrate their commitment to him. That may explain the absence of pornographic materials or any discernable idols.

Results of Incident: No protesters attended the event. Reverend George Bender from the Harvest Assembly of God Church was disappointed that there were not more visitors at the burning, but felt the ceremony had worked out well.


So if, in the spirit of Banned Books week, you want to read it, go ahead. But if you want to read a GOOD banned/challenged book, may I suggest:

  • Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman)
  • The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
  • Candide (Voltaire)
  • Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (Judy Blume)
  • The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
  • Fallen Angels (Walter Dean Myers)
  • Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)
  • The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
What's your favourite banned/challenged book, and why should I read it?


Monday, September 26, 2011


Today, in breaking news that no one cares about, I'm going to tell you about my undies!  They're not white. They don't come down to my knees. There's nothing under my bra except my boobs and nakey skin.  The bottom undies are black, with little red hearts, and a black ribbon bow on the front. They're cute, and they make me happy. Way happier than the underwear I wore for 25 years. (Um, that should not be construed to mean that I wore the same pair of underwear for 25 years, because ugh.)

That is all!

Friday, September 23, 2011


My best friend had a son who passed away a little over a year ago.  I loved that little boy from the day he was born, and still--and will--love him forever and always.

I had a horrible dream last night that he had come to me and told me that the world would end in one year, and that the beautiful rainbow in the sky was the last rainbow there ever would be.

Well, based on the whole rainbow thing, in my dream that meant that TSCC was really true.  But even then I couldn't believe it and could not participate.

Fortunately the dream then passed into a dream about work, which for once was far desirable than the first dream.

I believe that there are many, many beautiful, good, virtuous, lovely people who are members of the mormon church. I respect them and love them for who and what they are.  But I also believe that the foundations of the church are not what they proclaim to be. I do not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I believe that he was a very charismatic leader who did whatever it took to get whatever he wanted. He was a sexual predator. I do not believe that Brigham Young was a prophet. He was absolutely foul. I do not believe that Spencer W. Kimbell was a prophet. Ever read The Miracle of Forgiveness? I wonder how many people have hated themselves, or even committed suicide, after reading that book.

I haven't posted much here because in my mind I'm so thoroughly separated from the church that I haven't really needed to vent. I have my cup or two of coffee every morning, and my husband is finally used to it enough that he doesn't complain. I go through my day without feeling that I'm a horrible person who is beyond redemption. I love my neighbours. I love my family. I don't have to be mormon to be a decent person.

I don't know what, if anything, is out there beyond this life. I guess my religious beliefs, at this moment, are aligned with Marcus Aurelius, and that's not a bad thing. I still pray, but my prayers are more like sending things out to the universe and hoping that there is perhaps a higher power who will hear me. And if not, it still comforts me to hope that there is.

I miss my best friend's son. He lit up the world just by being himself. He had a huge personality, and left a giant gaping hole when he left. But I believe that he still exists. I believe that he still has that huge personality, and deeply loving heart, and I'll get to see him again, and hug him tightly, and tell him how much I love him. And I don't believe I have to be mormon for that to happen.

C., I love you. Always have. Always will.