Saturday, September 09, 2006

Signs of My Future Apostasy

Looking back, I suppose it was almost inevitable that I'd reject Mormonism and move on. People that knew me growing up would probably not be surprised. Perhaps my steadfast belief was really a sign of my deep seated discomfort. Here's my confession of apostate practices.
  • I always hated to go to primary. For a while I used to hide in the bathroom after opening exercises so I didn't have to go to class; I knew the female teachers and primary presidency couldn't get me. I'd sit on the toilet tank so no one could see my feet in the stall. That all ended when they got tired of looking for me and came in anyway.
  • I was apparently extremely disruptive in primary. I remember standing on my head in my chair during class until my best friend kicked the metal folding chair over. At that point it folded up on my head and gave me a bloody nose. My mother was so proud and my teacher asked for a new class.
  • I didn't want to be an Eagle scout. I loved camping and scout camp and being outdoors, but the merit badges didn't interest me and I didn't believe all the crap I heard about how important an Eagle is. Even then I knew that future employers would be more impressed with straight A's than with an Eagle.
  • I didn't want to go to early morning seminary. My mom pleaded with me and promised me that if I tried it and didn't like it then I could stop. I tried it and I kept going because that was where I got to see all of my friends. I didn't really have any friends outside of the church even though I lived in Des Moines, Iowa and there weren't many Mormons around and only a couple in my school. But I really didn't like Seminary although I learned a lot about the church there.
  • I used to skip Sunday School to go get food.
  • I didn't read the whole Book of Mormon until I was 17 even though I started trying when I was about 11. From that time my sister and I were having a contest to see who could finish first. The fact that it took 6 years for me to win should tell you a lot about both of us. Or perhaps it tells you a lot about the Book of Mormon when it takes two prolific readers that long to slog through it.
  • I thought about sex a lot. I really, really wanted to get laid. I liked to look at girls, fantasized about them, and was perpetually preoccupied with them even though I knew that to do anything would be almost bad as murdering someone. I didn't have very many girlfriends and didn't do anything serious with any of them, and was a 22 year old virgin when I got married. But it was the thought that counted.
  • I hardly went to church at all during my first year at BYU and I didn't feel bad about it at all. In fact, I felt much more spiritual and at peace back in my dorm room than I ever did at church. This was despite that church in the BYU university wards was generally more interesting than any of the other wards I ever went to.
  • I insisted on thinking for myself. I went along with the church because it made sense to me. I didn't believe in blind obedience.
  • I turned down a couple of church callings. One was because I was swamped at school. The other was because it was a stupid calling that was made up so that I would have a calling.
  • I never thought that the decision not to translate the lost 116 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript made sense. It's not like they had photoshop back then or liquid paper or any good way of modifying it that wouldn't be obvious. So, the explanation that he would retranslate it and that it wouldn't match because the original was modified by evil people is just stupid. And I always thought so but kept it to myself.
  • I wondered why Nephi had to murder Laban. It's not that Laban was a good guy; he wasn't. But, he was falling over, passed out drunk. Couldn't Nephi have tied him up? Wouldn't beheading him have covered his clothes with blood? How did Nephi learn to impersonate his voice so well? The story had so many holes and was so repugnant that I chose instead to shelve it and not worry about it.
  • I always wondered why the church never taught any lessons or talked about polygamy in church. When people find out you are a Mormon it almost immediately leads to the topic of polygamy. After more than 100 years, polygamy is still a defining belief of Mormons and yet within the church it isn't officially discussed other than to say that they no longer practice it. I always thought the silence indicated a discomfort with the topic and perhaps fear. If it was divinely inspired then I didn't understand why they weren't proud of it and why they didn't discuss it. Instead, complete silence. I later found out why; the facts ARE embarrassing.
  • I never felt comfortable with the 1978 decision to give blacks the priesthood. There was no revelation, just a policy change. If it was wrong before, what cosmic event happened in 1978 to make it okay. Again, no discussion about it other than that it was time for a change. I felt that the policy was either wrong before 1978 or else the church caved in to cultural pressures. Either way was bad.
  • I never thought it made sense that God had sex with Mary like church prophets claimed. The church denies this now, but it was unequivocally stated by at least one prophet. Wouldn't that be adultery or fornication? If not, then was God secretly married to Mary? If so, then how could Joseph marry her and have other kids like the church teaches? Or does it mean that God can do anything he wants? It just never made sense to me.
  • I hated the entire temple endowment ceremony. It's not just that it was mind numbingly boring; it was creepy. If it wasn't for the fact that I'd resigned from school to go on a mission I would have stood up and left the room after the initial ominous threat at the beginning of the ceremony: "...for God will not be mocked!" The sense of dread increased as I ritually acted out various ways that I promised to be killed rather than reveal secret handshakes and passwords that the Book of Mormon teaches are a sign of secret combinations that were revealed to Cain by Satan in order to hide murderous works. Weren't they available in anti-Mormon books and films like the Godmakers? Why would I be killed for something that was freely available at your friendly local evangelical Christian church? I was both relieved and confused when those things were removed from the temple ceremony in 1990. That told me that those things were not revealed since they were removed. Unfortunately, it left me in limbo, not knowing how much of the rest of it was also just temporary and not revealed. Maybe garments were just a mistake too. After all, the garments had been shortened, made two piece, and constructed from modern fabrics. Maybe they'd come in black mesh bikinis and tank tops eventually.
  • I raced motorcycles on Sunday. This was a clear violation of the sabbath day. Heck, I also watched football on Sunday and sometimes used Sunday as a travel day on vacation.
  • I almost never fasted. It made me hungry. I don't like being hungry.
  • I fasted and prayed about problems, but wondered if I was just figuring out things for myself or if I was actually getting any divine inspiration. I don't think the answers I got through that process were any better than anything I could have come up with on my own. In fact, I believed that the answers I got were my own. If they were wrong I didn't hold God accountable. I always believed that evidence and reason were a more sure way to find truth that the Spirit, which always seem pretty tentative and uncertain since it was so difficult to distinguish from your own feelings.
So there you go. The signs were all there. Everything else I did was just appearances of being faithful Mormon. It was just a facade hiding the apostate lurking underneath, ready to break out.

BTW, if you miss the game today, I'll wonder about you. If you live in the U.S. and have to ask, "What game?" then something is really wrong with you. Hook 'em Horns!


Sister Mary Lisa said...

I used to watch kids leaving in their cars during Sunday School to hit McDonalds, and I hated them. I thought I hated them because they were so bad at leaving, but deep down I was jealous that I didn't dare leave with them.

GuateMom said...

I didn't finish the book of Mormon until I was in the MTC. So you beat me by a few years.

michelle said...

When I tried to explain to my husband why, after so many years of church activity, I could no longer drink the koolaide, I used the analogy of the princess and the pea fairytale. The 'pea' underneath all the layers of denial (Aka: my testimony) simply became too uncomfortable for me to sleep.

ps. I'm totally jealous that Lee gets to hang out with you next week and I don't! you 2 better behave : )

La said...

Didn't OSU beat Texas?? Poor Bull...

I'm more interested in the Utah games anyway. Ah shit...I don't know if they beat N. Arizona yesterday. I bet they did. Let's check! Oh yes, they stomped on them. Happy day.

Equality said...

The Horns will be back with a vengeance. OSU was just too damn good. But from the perspective of someone who went to UT in the late 1980s when we were lucky to have a winning season, just being in a 1 vs. 2 game on national TV is sweet. Now we can start a new winning streak. Hook 'em Horns!

Bull said...

WRT UT vs OSU: It was actually a pretty well-played game with the exception that UT gave up a couple of big plays. If not for those 2 plays, the game would have been very close.

Michelle, I hear you. Once I realized the truth, it wasn't a pea. It was a mountain and I just couldn't stand to listen to the constant lies, distortions, and idiocy that was being promoted as God's will and the way to happiness. I just couldn't take it.

A soul, finally free. said...

Well hello. The names Emily. I loved this blog. I can relate to some of them and others not so much. I would have ups and downs in the church. I would be there and I would do everythign I could to be a good mormon, then it got tiring so I quit and then I was a good mormon again. I have tried to read the book of mormon but i never do understand it so i think i am just wasting my time with it. OH well. Maybe someday. I was blinded about mormonism until I finally left and started learning more and more about it. And since picking up a bible I understand I have found many contradicting passages to mormonism beliefs. But that must have been the part that was mistranslated!! Well I look forward to reading more of your blogs!