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.


At 10:49 PM, Blogger NFlanders said...

Wait, was the part about not getting seconds on meat in your family still part of the metaphor?Because that's messed up.

Sometimes I want to forget I ever had to eat at the cafeteria at all, but I still enjoy discussing how bad the food was. All this time, I thought I was the only one not liking it.

(Also, congrats on the new blog.)

At 8:40 AM, Blogger from the ashes said...

Chandelier- I just discovered your blog! Can I list you on my blog?

I, too, have struggles with being/not being Mormon. For me the best answer to the question "Are you Mormon?" is "yes and no." I'm NOT LDS. I am Mormon, by heritage. I'll always be associated with that. It helped make me who I am. And I am stronger and better for having left it.

To go with your food metaphor--you are what you eat. And I ate in that cafeteria for 25 years. I need to go on one of those purge diets to cleanse my body of all that shitty food. (I hope I can swear on your blog?)

At 9:57 AM, Blogger chandelier said...

Ned--hi! Thanks for posting, neighborooski! ;)

The part about no seconds on meat for the females is for real. When we grilled burgers in the summer, for example, my mom made an extra burger for my father and brother, but even if my sister had cried last time and gone hungry (that happened a lot) there was no extra burger prepared for her. Yes, messed up. I can't even begin to tell you how messed up it was.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger chandelier said...


Swear all you like. Apparently in a past life I was a sailor, even though in this life, I didn't even know "fuck" until I got out of high school, and I was pretty sure "piss" was swearing.

Now I run around the house naked hollering "yippe-kai-yay, motherfucker!" ala Die Hard, and DH almost regrets showing me those movies.

Please do link me up, I'd love to be listed on your blog. If it's fine with you I'll cross link to yours. When DH was reading some of my stuff and talking to me yesterday, he posted me a few entries from your blog for me to read.


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