25 February 2007

The Bet

DH's sister (the terrible bitch, not the nice one) got married last year at 19 and is now several months pregnant, ready to bring Jesus Jr. into the world. I'm almost not exaggerating about the baby Jesus part. Over Christmas, she told us with serene certitude that Jr. "is a good baby" and "he will never talk back to his parents." My BIL and I snorted with derision, and then SIL's husband said, in his spiritual voice, "I never talked back to my parents." BIL and I were torn between dying with laughter and crying for the baby.

SIL sent an email to the family about how their family education is coming along. She said "we're both working on our bachelor's. Then Dave will continue his education by getting his master's, and Ashely will continue her education by becoming a full-time mom." (She always refers to herself in the third person in these emails.)

As of right now, actually, she's taking a break from college at BYU until the baby comes, and then, supposedly, she plans to go back and finish her bachelor's. DH and I have a bet about whether she'll finish at all. I say she will, he says she won't. Cast your vote here.

This "full-time mom" line is really tripping me up, though. She didn't say stay-at-home-mom. SAHM doesn't necessarily convey that working moms are part-time moms. She had to choose full-time mom, for its extra-righteous veneer.

Why didn't she say "DH will continue his education by getting his master's and becoming a full-time dad."? I really want to reply with something like: Is he not going to be a full-time dad? Is parenthood not part of his education? Are you not a real parent if you work? No? Oh, I see, you're just not a real mom if you work.

I'm not a mom at all, but I know full-time moms who work outside home. I take huge, huge issue with this LDS mothering is the only way shit. Maybe because my ovaries are telling me I want to spawn, and if I do, I think I'll be a working mom, and I'm crying with guilt about it already. I am years away from having children. This is messed up. I am messed up.

21 February 2007

Merlot

I recently got invited to join a writing group. I love it. The prompt this week was to write down snippets of what we heard people say and use it in our next piece. I had loads of fun with it as a writing exercise, but I think it needs to be packaged in a pharmacy bottle and marked "Do Not Use With Alcohol: may cause giggling, stalking of British friends to write down everything they say, and later, much confusion. Oh, and maybe a little sensitivity to light in the morning."
  • "Ccmbrs wat.y innards"
  • "fut thru a shu"
  • "engineerschlsstalliz e lfo .death"
Those are the brilliant lines I captured from last Saturday, when my British pal and I shared a long tall bottle of Merlot.

11 February 2007

More About Identity

I was discussing with my husband why TBMs act like they have special rights to define anyone who is or was ever connected to Mormonism. Why can't I be a non-believing Mormon the way that a non-believing Jew is still a Jew? No one is going to complain if someone calls Asimov an athiest Jew. That is what he was. So why not an athiest Mormon? The morthodox community doesn't accept that. DH brought up that
  • there isn't a genetic/ethnic component that qualifies someone as a Mormon regardless of belief the same way there is for Jews, and
  • also related to human categorization and ethnicity, there isn't the historical precedent for outsider wanting to mark someone as Mormon if they don't believe the Mormon gospel. No one wants to persecute the Mormons that much.
So it's left to the largest and most vocal group of insiders to define Mormons. There's a theological reason too; Mormonism is set up to let a few rulers define membership. In my theology studies I learned about religions that define membership by the members' admission and will. Islam, for example, uses the latter method to define membership. There is no panel of old men to kick you out.

I'm still not sure what parts of my heritage can figure positively in my present life. (And in my future, if I ever spawn, what heritage will I give my children?) I'm still trying to sort myself out. I probably always will be: I'm a person with questions, not with answers. But whatever I do, it's on my own terms now. I simply do not give a panel of old men the power to decide what kind of Mormon I am. I can laugh about my heritage, I can cry about it, I can fight it, embrace it, deny it while the cock crows, or I can tell stories about it and weave the beautiful elements of the old into the new tapestry of my life. Whatever. Whatever I want.

Right now I think I'm at the best point I ever have been: usually, it's "Mormonism? Oh yeah! That." But if it gets brought up, I'm an "I-was-raised-that-way" Mormon. I think it has helped me that my boss sees me as a non-Mormon Mormon. When I realized she thought that way, at first I was resistant—NO, let me explain, I'm not Mormon. But I realized her categorization of me as a Mormon was allowing for that athiest Mormon.

I think it's not in my best interest to believe that my heritage gave me nothing. When I left Mormonism, I felt robbed. I lost a lot. I struggled. Privately and painfully I strongly rejected it all. But there are some pearls in the pigsty that I can rescue. When someone keeps some little bit of Mormonism in their lives (journal writing, or genealogy) I usually hear—and I have said—"well, that doesn't really have anything to do with Mormonism." Maybe it doesn't, but it's a distinction that plays into a dichotomy about Mormonism: it can't have anything good. I don't need that kind of dichotomy in my life any more.

10 February 2007

Am I still some kind of Mormon?

Part of my lingering exit process has been a cyclical thought process about whether I'm some kind of Mormon or not, and whether I want to be any kind of Mormon or not.

Believing Mormons only consider you a non-apostate, real Mormon if they see you standing in a queue they have also stood in in the cafeteria. If you never partake of some of the same cafeteria food they do, you don't count. You didn't stand in the turkey line? Not ONCE? NO SALVATION FOR YOU. (But as for me and my house, we're getting sprinkles on top!)

Not only that, if they see you in the queue for the garbage cans or for washing your cafeteria tray, they assume you're on your way out of the cafeteria, and they'll drag you back in to the food court of love.

I'm glutting on the food imagery, but it metaphors the church so well:
  • if you join the cafeteria after age 8, you have to stay in the milk line for years;
  • waste management is limited to a few men in uniform who sterilize and streamline the cafeteria;
  • a huge lovely mall is built next to the food court to increase business;
  • the diet is overwhelmingly American;
  • women don't get offered seconds on the meat.
(This has progressed past imagery now. In my family growing up, only the people with penises got offered more than one helping of meat. This was the 90s.)

My new boss considers me to be a Mormon, even though I work, I drink, I bare my shoulders, and I occasionally enjoy an exasperated "jesus christ!" She knows that these are things that believing Mormons don't do. She knows that I never go to church, and I have renounced the faith.

She feels a very strong kinship with me, because I grew up much like she did... and she grew up in Communist China. I have never met another never-Mormon person in such total sympathy with my entire upbringing. She always jokes that the Mormon religion came from China, and she often tells me she is very happy for me that I got out. But to her I am still a Mormon, just like she is still Chinese. It is my heritage.

I Am Like A Star

I wanted to make an official post as I step into Outer Lightness and stick this blog up as one more star in the DAMU firmament.

It's kind of funny that the telestial kingdom is like stars, since stars ARE suns. And there are lots more stars than the sun.

I like the metaphor of the blogosphere being a vast expanse of space. I like the feeling of being connected to something big; something universe-al—a search for ourselves, a chronicling of our histories as stars. Here I can be a part of any number of constellations.

There's a big black hole in my written life history. It started about the time I felt the first shadow of doubt about Mormonism. It ends here.