My Favorite Rules!

Ever since Donna Banta posted this old LDS Living article to facebook a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about all the rules that define the LDS lifestyle, and how they change. Specifically, the article is about how Mormon families should forbid their kids from sleeping over at friends’ houses. If I understand correctly, this is now a thing. The über-Mormon family of the ward — the one that makes a point to follow the Mormon rules more strictly than the others — is now saying no to slumber parties instead of Coke.

It’s so weird to me. When I was a teenager (back in the 80’s) the idea that Mormons “don’t do sleepovers” didn’t exist. The Young Women’s organization in my ward threw sleepovers, regularly, and my sister and I often had school or church friends spend the night. (Just read the slumber party chapter of the novella Young Women’s). It’s sad to read the LDS Living author scaring parents with the shocking fact that “toilet-papering has been known to occur at sleepovers.” My mom (a very faithful, very cool Mormon) used to drive us to the homes of boys in the ward that we liked and helped us TP them back when she was YW president organizing YW-sponsored sleepovers.

There was one family in our ward that was known for going way overboard on following all the rules. So much so that they would even make up new rules to follow. For example, their kids weren’t allowed to watch any television shows made in the 70’s or later. Their kids were huge fans of The Monkees because it was the coolest show they were allowed to watch. But those girls were allowed to attend our slumber parties. Why wouldn’t they be allowed to attend sleepovers with Mormon friends? Even people who were highly creative at inventing new and arbitrary rules didn’t manage to think of that one.

The article also makes me wonder how/if parents with this rule justify letting their kids go to Scout Camp/girls’ camp/Youth Conference/EFY? What are those but extended slumber parties with a lower supervisor-to-kid ratio than you’d expect from a typical private sleepover? We played exactly the same middle-of-the-night games at girls’ camp as we did at other slumber parties. If anything, the seclusion in the woods aspect made the dares even more daring.

But I think the arbitrariness is perhaps the draw. If you refuse an activity that it’s perfectly ordinary to refuse (“Sorry, I don’t snow-board”) no one will think anything of it. Worse, no one will ask you about it, so you have no opening to answer: “Because I’m Mormon! Would you like to know more about my church?”

As a side note, I’m curious to know what kinds of rules were standard when you were an active Mormon. Here are some ideas to get started on:

1. Sunday activities:
a. Church: Always? Even on vacation?
b. Shopping: restaurants also verboten? Emergencies? Vending machines?
c. Other possible forbidden items: non-church music, television, swimming, working for pay, casual clothing…?
2. Word of Wisdom:
a. Using coffee or alcohol-related flavors in cooking?
b. Caffeine: coffee OK if it’s decaf? Soda-pop not OK if it has caffeine? Chocolate? Herbal teas? Other creative hot-drink rules?
3. Fasting:
a. How long?
b. Water too?
4. Other stuff:
a. Modesty: Temple-garment standards enforced even for little kids?
b. playing cards?
c. masks?
d. R-rated films?
e. Tattoos and piercings?

Anything else I missed…?

If people play along, I’ll add my list of rules I had to follow growing up (in the comments). 😀

Mormon Moment Series on

Ahhhhh! The smell of fresh, juicy, slightly wrong Mormon blog posts. It must be Sunday!

I have been doing a series of posts related to Mormon and Post-Mormon issues that seem to be *hot* this year. With more and more people interested in Mormons, and now the change in rules for when male and female missionaries are allowed to serve, the Bloggernacle keep heating up! So, if you missed the first posts in the series (because I was a slacker and wasn’t cross posting) here is your chance to catch up. If you have been catching them on my blog, you will notice they are a little different. Thanks to Kevin who suggested that I should include the topic of the post in the title, and not jsut which post number it is. Ahhhhh, aren’t friends great for helping you see your blind spots? I am glad I have so many friends looking out for me.

I am using the same introduction for each post, both because I think that it helps keep them uniform, but also so I don’t have to try to come up with 20 ways to say the same thing!

What this series is about:

If you are Mormon, you are probably sick of hearing about the Mormon Moment. There are so many people who are suddenly interested in Mormon culture, and there are lots of Mormon bloggers that are cashing in and sharing their stories. Some of the stories end up being kind of silly, but if you are simply trying to get people to read about what is important to you, the Mormon Moment is one way to draw people in.

I do not want people to think that I don’t respect the bloggers whose posts I am sharing. All of them are good bloggers, and most of them write about Mormon topics all of the time. I have no doubt that they would have shared these thoughts and stories at some point, but as one friend told me the other day, “in the race to the election, bloggers are pushing hard to attract new readers before the Mormon Moment is gone.” So, to help you, I sifted through hundreds of posts to share the ones that I still remember. (This group of posts are nowhere near a complete view of Mormon bloggers. All of the bloggers are either Mormons, post-Mormons, or write about Mormon issues, even when it isn’t election time.)

So, what have you missed?

Mormon Moment Series – Part One – Mormon Mind Control?

Mormon Moment Series – Part Two – Ayn Rand and Quirks in Mormon Culture

Mormon Moment Series – Part Three – Modesty, Perfection and Secrets

Mormon Moment Series – Part Four –Why can’t we seem to say what we mean?

Mormon Moment Series – Part Five –Fasting For Followers!

Mormon Moment Series – Part Six – Who is a Mormon?

While it is not officially part ofmy Mormon Moment Series, please take a minutes and check out this post about Mormons, Masterbation, and the story of a teenager driven to attempt suicide, because of his wet dreams.

But for the Grace of God….

This post is about a teen suicide attempt and some of the actions that led to it. The language is not vulgar, but it is specific. Please read only if, it is emotionally safe for you. A few days ago, I sent an email out to several family members and friends about a post on the Mormon Therapistblog. It deals with a sensitive subject, so please understand that this particular linked post is not g-rated, although it will not include any explicit language either. If you are uncomfortable with discussions about sexuality, masturbation, how to teach adults and children healthy sexual attitudes, or the negative impacts of shame, I suggest you skip this post, and not click onto the linked article.”
You can go here to read the entire post, including the responses from TBMs who are supportive of Mormon Therapist’s view, who also explain how the email about this young man touched their lives, and the lives of their children. This is a bold stand from all sides, as Mormon Therapist boldly proclaims, “Masturbation is not sinful behavior in of itself nor is it a transgression.”
We live in a time of great turmoil, and out youth especially need to love and support to deal with a variety of challenges. From masturbation to Coke, homosexuality to the age of sister missionaries, the church is changing or softening on a number of important issues. I believe that we need to support those who are members of the church, who continually ask questions and look for answers. I also believe that current and former members need to find common ground, in as many areas as they can, and work together on those shared goals. Almost every post-Mormon still has family or friends who are members of the church. Almost every member of the church knows someone who has left, been kicked out, or is inactive. While there are very real hurts on all sides, I believe that coming together and being the chance we want to see in our own lives, the lives of our family members, and in the lives of all of the children we love, can make that change a reality.
Whether you are celebrating General Conference today, or are in mourning because of it, there are always ways to find a little common ground, a little place of friendship, a little piece of shared light. We do not have to change our minds about our belief or lack thereof. What we can do is put the first brick into creating a bridge, that will help span the gap between us, and the children and youth who need to know that it gets better, no matter what your sexual orientation or habits!

One last link. If you have a talent to share, leave a comment, and you could be the lucky winner of a pair of pearl stud earrings!

The Hammer of Judgment – What Would You Say?

My last post: Gay Trees and Gadianton Robbers gotseveral comments on my own blog. One, which I took from an email that was sent by a former classmate in high school, was pretty forceful. You can see the original post, and my response in the comments section here.

I am less interested in my personal response, but more about howyou would respond if someone left a comment like this on your blog. When there is a comment like this, does it matter whether you are a current or ex-member, or would your response be the same whatever your status with the church? If the person leaving it was a current or former member, would the difference change how you would address it?

So, how do you deal with people who are obvioiusly not in agreement with something you wrote?

I like you, but I REALLY hate it when you talk about politics. It was bad enough in high school when you read communist stuff and Godless philosophers. There is NO REASON for anyone to read things that go against the scriptures.
You always said the reason you read all the weird stuff was because you needed to understand it to be a good debater. You aren’t debating now, and still you make fun of people who are working for GOD. Romney was a BISHOP! Obama has never held a calling or made a lemonade stand. Romney was a STAKE PRESIDENT! Obama hasn’t ever been a good enough person for God to give him any responsibility.
Julia, it is time for you to stop being STUPID. You are too smart to let Satan tell you what to say and do. You should be telling everyone the Truth. God gave you your talents and the gospel and church gave you the Truth.
You need to do the RIGHT thing, instead of just trying to be popular to a bunch of apostates, liberals, and other people who offend God! I am calling you to repentance and I hope that you can still hear the Holy Ghost enough to go what YOU know is RIGHT!
I am emailing this to you because I KNOW you WON’T let anyone who agrees with you have a comment on your posts. You just want everyone to tell you that you are wonderful. You might think your post is funny, but really it is just a MOCKERY OF GOD!

So, what would you say, if this comment showed up on your blog? Would you delete, or let it stay?

Gay Trees and Gadianton Robbers

As I have been wandering around the internet, looking for something interesting, there is an election going on. Did you know that? Well most of what is out there is not very interesting, just a lot of people with opinion that they want someone else to have, with an occasional FU to go with it. You too? Wanna be naughty and take a break?

Idecided to sharesome of my finds around the bloggernacle (and post-bloggernacle) of things that might make you laugh. I am including one of the posts inmy ongoing Laugh With Me series, but I thought you deserved more. Especially with the political season ramping up, and many people are losing the ability to agree to disagree, I thought a little levity in the political arena might be in order. Although there are a few interestingposts that have less vitrol than others. I have included a few links that are at polite or funny. No promises on the commenters.


Sharing this story was prompted by a post on Mormon Iconoclast (You rock Eric!) and the story is true. I am not including names (except that I am me) because they really don’t matter.

So, you can go to:

How not to root for a Mormon, when you are one, To see how it all started out.

This was my first comment (and no I am not making it, I wish I was):

This is my first election cycle in this ward, and since I have been on bed rest since most of the primaries started, I haven’t interacted much with my ward. My husband has been a Republican since birth, but even he can’t see the Ryan/Romney ticket as a good idea. He really missed Reagan. A lot.

Given that I haven’t been at church, and I have never actually talked to her before, it was kind of weird to have a ward member call me and ask me which of several days I wanted to come make calls at their home. I was confused and asked her what activity she needed to have calls made for. She then went into a long speech about God, church, country, the terror of Socialists and how wonderful it was to help Sister Romney. I finally stopped her and asked what exactly she had called about.

Well it turns out she is the chair of a Republican subcommittee of something or other, and she was calling all the Republican women on “her list.”. (I knew as soon as she said it that she was talking about the ward list, but since we aren’t supposed to use the ward list for business or political reasons I decided to play dumb.) I asked her which committee list I was on, and she said she wasn’t sure, that she had just been appointed and given a list of women in our area. I asked if she was sure, since we had recently moved here (15 months ago) and I hadn’t voting in anything other than the primaries. (We vote by mail in Oregon.)

She then made some paper noises on the other end of the phone while she said she would check. She asked me what committee I had been on previously. I told her I had been PTA secretary, scout and cub committee chair and advancement chairmen. (She now seemed very confused.) She pulled herself together and told me that we could figure out what paperwork I needed when I came over, and then rattled off the names of several Oregon lawmakers who would be joining them on a few of the night’s if I wanted to pick one of those times. (At this point, I just wanted off the phone.)

I told her that I was pretty sure there was a mistake and that she must have the wrong list. She then read my address off to me and said she was pretty sure she had the right person. I then told her that I have never been registered as a member of a party, so I was positive the Republican party did not have my contact information. (Now she was mad, and probably feeling trapped.) she asked me is I was one of the gay tree huggers. (I am pretty sure she didn’t know how badly worded the question was.) I told her that like liked my husband and my trees. I giggled, she harrumphed and told me that if I was going to be that insulting I did not deserve to meet (Oregon Republican lawmaker) and then hung up on me.

I have to admit, I am kind of hoping that she remembers who I am when (Oregon republican lawmaker) tells her Hi from me next Thursday. She is right, I don’t deserve to meet him at her house, we both have much more fun playing Scrabble when we get the chance. (Although to be fair, his wife and I often play Scrabble without him.) 😉

Eric’s response:
Wow. This conversation is hilarious to read, though probably less so when it happened. Are you a gay tree hugger? I have no idea which of my trees is gay. . . .
My response to his comment:

Actually she called at the “magic time” when the pain pills were actually starting to work, and I wasn’t totally loopy. The fact that I thought I might know who she was, but we hadn’t even had a conversation, and I could tell she had no idea who I was, made it easier to be patient at the beginning. I also REALLY hate it when someone uses church lists for political purposes. I wish this had been a first time, or first ward. (Don’t get me started on the bishop who received a “revelation” about who the Lord wanted the entire ward to vote for, in a city council race. Really? No clue to the prophet for president, but yes to a city councilman? THAT is the race it is worth breaking the church’s stand of, issues. not individual politicians? Sheesh. Okay, deep breath, calming down.)

I hadn’t thought about the fact that I might have gay trees in my yard. (We have a lot of trees on our acreage, so as a percentage of the population, there have to be some. Since they haven’t been advocating for gay tree marriage, do I just love the tree since I can’t find a sin to hate? Wow, the theological possibilities are staggering. Now I just have to find the “tell” so I know which ones to make sure are dressed appropriately. Hmmmmmm………)

I have found that NOT belonging to any party makes me hard to quantify in wards were there are usually only Nephites (Republicans) and Lamanites (Democrats). It is really difficult for people when I say I am generally more conservative on social issues, and very liberal on economic issues. When I try to tell people that I am about the opposite of a Libertarian, they usually look at my like I am a slow witted child, and helpfully tell me that there is no such thing. I try not to get cranky as I explain that we don’t have a party with that mix of ideals, but that is not the same as saying someone can’t believe in them. Unless some time in their lives a PoliSci class or two were part of their education, they don’t really understand, but decide I am not like them and should be avoided when having future Nephite-Lamanites wars (sorry, political debates) in the church hallway.

Since I partially agree with parts of both “sides,” I am particularly dangerous (confusing) which makes their poor children (interesting and interested teenagers, who don’t necessarily *want* to join a political party they don’t understand) who could so easily be led astray (taught to think for themselves) so that they might have the curse of the Lamanites (Democratic Party Voting Cards) or even worse they might become something truly damaging like a Gadianton Robber (Green Party Member).

Okay, I am done riffing now. Giggle

This is a post on my blog, poetrysansonions

Two Short Reads That Are Packed With Information

Need a good summer read? I picked up a couple at the Sunstone Conference that are both timely and on topic for the broader LDS Community. Here’s what I wrote about them on Amazon:

Could I Vote For A Mormon For President?An Election-Year Guide to Mitt Romney’s Religion

Ryan T. Cragunand Rick Phillips

Wallace Stegner wrote, “It is almost impossible to write fiction about the Mormons, for the reasons that Mormon institutions and Mormon society are so peculiar that they call for constant explanation”

As a writer and former member of the LDS Church, I understand Stegner’s dilemma. In spite of their existence for over 150 years, the Mormons remain a mystery to many. Nevertheless, America is poised to elect one as its president. That is why “Could I Vote For A Mormon For President?” by Ryan T. Cragun and Rick Phillips is such an invaluable work.

Written with wit and clarity, this short and timely book covers all of the basics. The authors who are both professors of sociology and former Mormons tackle topics such as polygamy, the Mormon temple ceremony, whether or not the Mormons are Christians, the Mormon view of the afterlife, and the church’s stand on feminism, homosexuality, and race relations.

Cragun and Phillips’ observations are direct, at times humorous, and fair to both Mormons and their critics.

For example, on the topic of polygamy: “There’s really no other way to say it: Joseph Smith was a horny guy.”

On whether or not the Mormon underwear is weird: “We don’t think so. From an anthropological perspective, many religions prescribe ritual or symbolic clothing for their members.”

On the church’s view of women: “…men are the ultimate authority in Mormon families, and that’s the way God wants it. Men might be enjoined to be benevolent rulers of the household, but they rule nonetheless.”

On LDS approved sexuality: “No premarital hanky-panky and no masturbation of any kind is ever allowed. The church does not recognize the validity of gay marriage…hence gay people cannot have orgasms…(unless a sham-marriage spouse somehow manages to get them off).”

In the end, the authors portray the Mormon Church as an unusual, authoritarian, and staunchly conservative institution that is ideologically aligned with the right wing of the Republican Party. Could you vote for a Mormon for president? Read this book and draw your own conclusion.

The Collapse of Belief:What To Do When Your World Comes Crashing Down

Kurt Hanks and Barbara Hanks

This slim and efficient volume is a must read for anybody who has let go of a cherished relationship. Using interesting analogies and clever illustrations, the authors effectively explain the thought processes involved in going from believer to non-believer. With a slight emphasis on the loss of religious belief, the book also addresses other types of loss, such as death and divorce, as well as the trauma that comes from giving up unhealthy work environments, toxic relationships, and faulty assumptions or “world views.” It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who would not benefit from this readable and engaging work. It is especially relevant today in our polarized, religiously-infused political climate. I highly recommend this book.

–Don’t let the brevity of my review ofThe Collapse of Beliefdissuade you. It’s a great read, and the illustrations alone are worth the cover price.

They’re both great reads. Enjoy!

Memphis station posts four Mormon stories

1) Local Memphis TV news report mocks Mitt Romney’s Mormon beliefs (and ace reporter* Ben Ferguson reminds viewers why some folks prefer to avoid the Bible Belt). The cringe begins at 03:21:

2) Local musical director (and LDS church member) Steve Danielson offers his opinion of the Tony-winning Broadway musical.

3) 89-year old Church of Christ apostle, William Sheldon, explains the origins of the Mormon religion.

4) Meet a pair of Memphis area Mormon missionaries.

*CORRECTION: From comments at Politico:

Benjamin “Ben” Ferguson (born 1981) is an American radio host, conservative political commentator, and author. Ferguson was homeschooled by his mother through the tenth grade.

He was a local talk-radio host throughout his teens. Ferguson was selected by the Bush White House to join President Bush and Ben Stein for a town hall meeting in an effort to educate the public on the issue of social security reform. Ferguson also spends several weeks a year on the road speaking at youth leadership conferences, high schools and college camp uses nationwide. Ferguson addressed the 2004 Republican National Convention. [emphasis mine]

While Ferguson’s anti-Mormon antics may be annoying, that last sentence is downright frightening.

FRIENDLY HEADS UP: In future, anyone looking to poke some fun at Mormons might consider popping round here first and asking MSP for tips on the latest fair target. For example, this qualifies (Sister Kristen M. Oaks touting “The Testimony Glove” for Deseret Book):

Use the glove, feel the Spirit

Blech! You’d think that the wife of Apostle Dallin H. Oaks would be anxiously engaged in something other than helping DB promote their goofy faith promoting inventions (h/t r/exmormon).

Or, if you’re specifically looking to find a reason to get nervous about electing Mormons to public office, this quote from leading Mormon apologist Dan Peterson’s latest op piece in the Deseret News ought to do the trick:

“You may not like what comes from the authority of the church,” said President Harold B. Lee, serving at the time as a counselor to President Joseph Fielding Smith. “It may conflict with your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. Let’s keep our eye on the president of the church.”

Mediaite: Great Moments In Journalism: Local News Segment Mocks Romneys Mormon Faith
The Commercial Appeal: Fox 13, Ben Ferguson take heat for segment on Romney, Mormons
Commentary: Unbelievable: TV Reporter Mocks Romneys Mormonism
The American Prospect: The Mormonism Question, Going Nowhere
Deseret News: Fox affiliate ‘making fun of Mormons’
Mediaverse: On The Book of Mormon (Ben Ferguson)
Mother Jones: Mitt Romney’s Evangelical Problem
ABC4: Memphis reporter mocks Mormon beliefs
Politico: Making fun of Mormons in Memphis

r/politics: Memphis reporter sets out to prove how weird Mitt and Mormons are … Pot. Kettle. Black.
r/reddit: Wake-up, Mormons: Broadway & teh gays are much nicer to you than so-called Christians.
r/religion: Local Memphis TV news “report” plumbs depths of Bible Belt anti-Mormon bigotry
r/exmormon: Local Memphis TV news report mocks Mitt Romneys Mormon beliefs. *Cringe*
r/lds: Mitt Romney ought to step up and put these hillbillies in their place.
r/offbeat: What’s weirder: Memphis or Mormons? It’s a toss-up, apparently.
r/Christianity: Do Christians think it’s OK to mock Mormon beliefs?

Coming Out of the Conservative Closet

I have chosen to write about coming out of a closet the closet that hid part of who I really am, a part of me that I always knew was there but never wanted to acknowledge or accept. I guess part of the reason I never came out is that I was afraid of the names I might be called: liberal, left-wing wacko, commie, bleeding heart, and, the worst of all Democrat. It was just so much easier to go along with the crowd, pretending I was something I wasnt, until the internal conflict became too great and I snapped. I could no longer deny who I was, who I am.

For those who are not familiar with my blog (which I assume to be at least 99% of any who read this), I am gay and started my journey out of the closet last October after Boyd Packers infamous address at the LDS General Conference. This coming out was preceded, however, by another kind of coming out a political one.

As was the case with my gay coming out, my political coming out was precipitated by an event which caused built-up internal conflict to finally erupt. The straw that broke the camels back for me was the controversy over the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque. Regardless of the merits of the project, I was incensed that a number of conservative politicians and talking heads were blatantly seeking to make political hay by fueling the racist, Muslim-phobic hysteria that was sweeping through seemingly large swaths of America. I was outraged by the assaults launched on (true) religious freedom by the very people who purport to fight for and cling to it namely, conservatives who happened to be you guessed it – Republicans (Orrin Hatch being a notable, and lonely, exception).

I guess it took something like this to finally jar myself loose from my inherited political moorings and for me to accept who I truly am. My father was a staunch Republican, as was his father before him. (I was not raised a Mormon, by the way, but am a convert.) I inherited a loathing of labor unions, left-wing pinkos (i.e., Democrats) and nutters like the Kennedys, George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. Because of the way I was raised, and because of a desire to please my father (its complicated), I embraced establishment Republicanism as my own and identified strongly with this party and its policies for most of my life.

While being raised in an environment of establishment Republicanism, however, my hidden truth was that I secretly admired the vision of such great Democratic leaders as Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy; I secretly pined to be part of a cause that was more exciting and inspiring than, say, reducing capital gains tax. I harbored largely hidden beliefs in the freedom and liberty of the individual, in the importance of community and the need for a just society.

I furtively admired Thomas Jefferson, and got goose bumps when I stood in his Memorial in Washington, D.C., and read these awesome words: I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. And the goose bumps turned into an embarrassing level of excitement (tongue firmly in cheek here) when I contemplated these words: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I dont know where these tendencies toward democratic ideals came from; I think they must have been inborn. They seemed to always be a part of me, to be preset; and try as I might, I could never overcome them. Part of me felt that being conservative was the sensible and responsible thing to do, but another part of me longed to campaign for Ted Kennedy and join Greenpeace; and sometimes the temptation to join the ACLU became almost overwhelming. I never acted on any of these secret impulses, however. I had occasional opportunities to hookup with liberal causes, but I was too afraid to take advantage of them, afraid of living openly who I really was inside.

Then, during the midst of the Reagan years, I moved abroad and lived, until halfway through the Clinton years, outside the United States. During this period, I lived in several countries that some would call social democracies. Here, I had my first really serious identity crisis: instead of seeing mass unemployment, complete subjugation of the individual and a hedonistic society things I had been told would result from social democracy I saw networks of community centers, affordable health care available to all, tolerance of other races, cultures and faiths, and a comparative absence of crimes committed with guns. I saw value attached to the concepts of communitarianism, equality and belonging to a world-wide community of nations. I saw secularism and religion existing side by side, each knowing their place, each content to fill it and stay in it.

I became very confused. I couldnt understand what I was seeing and experiencing. I had feelings I couldnt explain. I mean, I was experiencing strong attractions to social democracy something I had been taught since infancy was impure and unnatural. Nevertheless, I couldnt deny that something was stirring deep within me. I tried to turn away from these attractions, but they kept becoming stronger and stronger. For the first time in my life, I thought that perhaps I could overcome my upbringing, come out of my conservative Republican closet, embrace authenticity and live life as an openly liberal democratic man.

Then, we moved to Utah. For the first time since joining the LDS Church, my political affiliation (i.e., orthodox Republicanism) became an additional gauge of worthiness and orthodoxy. Suddenly, I knew I must abandon all thoughts of embracing my true identity and instead redouble my efforts to hide what by now I had admitted were latent Democratic tendencies. I knew this was something I could never confess to my bishop. I must maintain my Republican persona for my own sake as well as the sake of my family and do everything in my power to repress these tendencies.

At first, it wasnt too difficult to blend in with the Republican crowd. But occasionally, comments would be made that would cause anger to swell within me; situations would arise where I felt forced to act totally contrary to my true nature.

Over time, these conflicts and tensions became almost unbearable until I finally snapped, deciding I could no longer go on living who I wasnt. And so, I came out: as a liberal Democrat.

There, I said it! I am a liberal Democrat. That is my truth. For years, I lived in denial of who I really am. But I finally came to a point where I knew I could no longer live a lie, and I have (in part) Sarah Palin to thank for that.

For the first time in my life, I put a yard sign in front of my home on behalf of a Democratic candidate. For the first time in my life, I gave voice to my true, innermost political feelings. It felt so liberating! So real! So authentic! I was told I couldnt live as an openly Democratic man in Utah that it was one thing to confine my politics to the privacy of a voting booth, but it was quite another to live my politics out loud; but I know others have done it, are doing it, and so can I.

I still havent worked up enough courage to actually join the Democratic Party or attend a convention or meeting; I dont think Ive been out long enough yet. But I know that day will come. Do you think they have a Democratic Pride day? Just asking.

Invictus Pilgrim blogs at

Third Culture Kids and our Disaffected Mormon Underground

A while back, there was a husband-wife couple of speakers who came to one of my classes to talk about their mission to Papua New Guinea for several years. I wrote about that on my blog a while back, highlighting one of the things they said about their children that particularly struck me.

These children grow up to be Third Culture Kids, and there is a phenomenon of these Third Culture Kids from a variety of upbringings. What these Third Culture Kids must realize is that they do not belong. And they never will. They must learn to accept that they cant be American, but they cant be Gapapaiwa. They have to be something in the middle. Many Third Culture Kids, in fact, end up marrying others, because even if the particulars of their situations vary, they understand the phenomenon and each other

This is a kinda loose paraphrase, but I’m pretty sure the mother said the exact words, “they do not belong. And they never will.” That struck me. I checked out the wikipedia page on Third Culture Kids here, and although I fit one of the traditional categories (army brat), what I felt was that as an ex-Mormon, I feel this way too. Continue reading “Third Culture Kids and our Disaffected Mormon Underground”

Atheists and Traditions

Religion has a lot different facets that different people find appealing:

  1. identity/community
  2. transcendence/awe/altered states of consciousness
  3. rituals
  4. tradition/culture
  5. purpose/guidance
  6. belief in the supernatural

And surely many others. It’s my impression that people tend to focus on a few of their favorites among these components and ignore the rest. It’s just as true of the devout as it is of the apatheists, agnostics, and atheists. It’s just that people tend to see each religion as a monolith, so the difference in focus from one believer to the next is not always obvious. By contrast, it’s very obvious that the non-religious have to pick and choose. Continue reading “Atheists and Traditions”