Thursday, February 28, 2008
Throughout Jr. High School, I was still strong in the church. I realized that there were things about it that really felt strange for me (ie, polygamy etc), but I went with my family regularly on Sundays, and found myself going to Young Women activities at least some of the time. I never got over how those girls had treated me, but I suppose I found some kind of place within the YW program, even if I still felt like an outsider. I tried my best to fit in.
In 9th grade, I began my Church Educational System (CES) experience. For the first time, I was graded on reading scriptures and doing religion-themed handouts and activities. It always felt a bit strange to mix school with the church (perhaps this is one reason why I would never attend BYU) and this was reflected in my success within the class--I rarely did my scriptures reading and took a rather half-assed approach to the class as a whole. I realized then something I had known, deep inside, for a while: I hated to read the scriptures. It was not a simple dislike, or something I found a little daunting, but I REALLY hated to read from the scriptures. They were repetitive and uninteresting and bland, and I gained very little of anything from pouring over their pages. And of course, doing something is always worse when you are assigned to do it. My great dislike of reading from the scriptures must have really begun around this time, in the same way one doesn't like a book they are forced to read for English class.
Not only that, but I didn't like scripture study at home, or when teachers would tell you to open your scriptures during church lessons. It was like a switch, and as soon as it was flipped I lost interest just like that. I don't know if I believed that they were true or not. I must have at least thought that I believed in them. But if so, why did I despise them so much?
Around this time, another important thing happened: there was a ward split. This means that our ward was cut and part of it was added to a different (smaller) ward. This did wonders for me. I already knew a few people from this new ward, so I at least had some friends. Here, I felt more accepted and loved. I was able to start from scratch and got to know many of the girls. The younger ones looked up to me. I really regained positive feelings for the church at this point. I attended classes and activities much more frequently and often enjoyed myself. Unfortunately, what happened over time was that church became a social thing instead of a spiritual thing. Well, okay, it hadn't been all that spiritual to begin with, but as I made more friends and laughed and hung out at activities with them, that became my main reason for attending.
In high school, I felt quite void of spiritual influence. I went through the motions but did not really "feel" it. I went to seminary but often wished to skip class. I grew frustrated in class often because something would be said or a lesson would be taught that conflicted with what I felt in my heart. I also realized that most of the people in class were only there because they had to be (their parents made them) and not because they wanted to be. It seemed sad to me that religion would be forced on someone like that, and the same went for me. So many of those students couldn't care less about it, and yet they had to go because their parents had expected them to go and signed them up and now they had to go to get marked on the roll. How sad.
I was still friends with A., but there were new people going in and out of our group. Throughout high school the people we hung out with periodically changed, but there almost always were a few "mormon reject" sorts--people who weren't into their religion and did things like go to wild parties, watch 'bad' movies, and drink coffee or booze. I grew accustomed to them and accepted them, although I still tried to live the mormon life. I was not a molly mormon by any means, but compared to most of my friends I was the good kid. I think that I wanted my parents to be proud of me. Regardless of the fact that they wanted the church to be a heavy influence in my life, I loved and respected them as people and wanted very much to please them. I know I was raised well, and I wanted to be 'good' for my parents more than I wanted to be 'bad' for my friends. It was a struggle.
I tried not to talk too much about the church with anyone. I found I wasn't very proud to be a member--I just WAS one, that's all. I disagreed with much of the doctrine the more I learned in seminary, and I never found a passion for reading my scriptures. I guess that I was on the edge, even back then. I didn't have a testimony. I didn't truly believe. I wasn't a mormon...I just played one.
More in Part 3.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The initial publishing project of the press will be The Joseph Smith Papers, a documentary series eventually comprising 25–30 volumes. Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church Historian, has described The Joseph Smith Papers as “the single most significant historical project of our generation.”Full Story
Photograph of a page from one of Joseph Smith's journals.
© 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
(...I just have to wonder why they weren't published sooner? What kind of stuff is included in these papers?)
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
|1.||Unitarian Universalism (100%)|
|2.||Liberal Quakers (99%)|
|3.||Secular Humanism (99%)|
|5.||Theravada Buddhism (82%)|
|6.||New Age (79%)|
|8.||Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (75%)|
|9.||Mahayana Buddhism (74%)|
|11.||Orthodox Quaker (64%)|
|14.||New Thought (54%)|
|15.||Reform Judaism (53%)|
|16.||Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (49%)|
|17.||Bahá'í Faith (44%)|
|20.||Seventh Day Adventist (26%)|
|22.||Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (22%)|
|23.||Orthodox Judaism (22%)|
|24.||Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (20%)|
|25.||Jehovah's Witness (13%)|
|26.||Eastern Orthodox (11%)|
|27.||Roman Catholic (11%)|
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I had moved from Arizona to Utah when I was about 12, so things were hard enough as far as adjusting went. At church, there was a group of girls who I thought were the greatest, coolest people I'd even seen. I really wanted to be friends with them. I did everything I could to hang out with them at school, church and Young Women activities, but despite my efforts it seemed that all they did was tolerate my presence. I didn't understand. They were different from the kids I knew back in Arizona--I didn't' realize it then, but they were what one might call your typical "Utah Mormon" girls. They were very selective of who they would hang out with, and cared about looking spiritual and innocent on the outside (especially in certain circumstances) but they were ultimately superficial. All they talked about with each other were boys and spent a lot of time giggling inanely. At church or activities they would let this sappy spiritual side show, but as soon as you saw them at school they had done a 180.
Anyway, I kept trying to fit in with these girls but didn't have much luck. I never became part of their "group." What really gets me is that even though they wouldn't accept me into their group, they still did their 'duty' as members of the Beehive presidency and would kindly invite me to the Young Women activities, as though they cared that I attended. When I did come, they ignored me and just stuck with each other. I was really confused. Soon, I gave up on trying to be their friend and decided instead to hang out with the only group that had accepted me when I moved in--a non-Mormon girl and the two or three boys that she hung out with at recess. I tried to find excuses to not attend Young Women activities, to my mother's dismay, and often I would be mysteriously sick on Sunday when it was time for Sunday School and Young Women. I just couldn't stand to be the outsider, so I tried to avoid painful situations altogether.
It wasn't just the people, though. It was also the ridiculous activities, the monotonous and repetitive lessons, and the expectations that I was to live up to. Personal Progress? What a heap. I didn't want to "invite a non-member friend to church" or "study and pray over a particular chapter in the Book of Mormon" just so I could put the desired 'x' by enough things for me to get a charm. Yeah, rewarding girls with jewelry...that's an interesting way to keep them coming to church and following all the 'rules.' I hated doing just about everything in that Personal Progress book. It just didn't mean much to me, and many of the activities I was expected to do were uncomfortable or just so beyond what I would normally do that I found it very difficult. As for the activities, we baked cookies while the Young Men went rock climbing. Once in a while we did fun stuff, too, like ice-skating or hiking or biking, but even then I didn't have anyone to be hang out with at activities so I never wanted to go and be the loner in the group.
I continued to hang out with my new group of friends at school. Most of them were Mormon, but the leader of the group, A., was most certainly not. I think she was surprised by how easily I accepted her. Sometimes I am, too. Her parents smoked and drank alcohol and coffee and swore and watched rated-R movies, but although I was shocked at first when I came over to her house, I realized that I really liked these people. They were not bad because they were 'sinners.' I was lovingly taken in to her family and they really cared about me. Surprisingly, they were as understanding of me and my morals as I was of them and theirs, so we got along. We didn't judge one another.
I'm pretty sure that that realization was a catalyst in my way of thinking. I had already had many non-Mormon friends in Arizona, but for the first time all harsh, judgmental feelings went out the window with A. and her family.
More in Part 2.
Friday, February 15, 2008
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cultural Mormon is a term describing someone who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, usually born into the Church, but who does not believe all or part of its doctrine, or one who does not follow all of its practices.
Cultural Mormons do not necessarily hold "anti-Mormon" sentiments and they often support the goals of the Church and find value in some of its teachings and practices. Many remain members of the Church for life. However, other Cultural Mormons consider their status to be temporary, as they work towards leaving the Church.
Cultural Mormons can fall into three different categories:
- Practicing Cultural Mormon - members of the Church who practice their religion for social reasons or to maintain harmony in the family.
- "Jack Mormon" - members of the Church who rarely or never attend church meetings or otherwise practice the religion, but who maintain good relations with members and positive feelings toward the Church, and who may or may not harbor belief in the Church.
- Ex-Mormon - those who are no longer members of the Church, but in some cases remain cultural Mormons in that they continue to value and live by aspects of a Mormon lifestyle, and may continue to associate strongly with friends and family members who are still Church members.
Many practicing cultural Mormons and Jack Mormons may keep their doubts a secret, and maintain a facade of believing in the doctrines. This is usually done to prevent conflicts within their families. One such group is the New Order Mormons, an Internet community whose members may belong to any of the above categories.----
I didn't realize that there was a definition on Wikipedia (of all places) to so perfectly descriobe my situation. Of the three above categories, I'd stick myself in there between "Practicing Cultural Mormon" and "Jack Mormon." As ridiculous as it might be to try and define those terms, they at least describe my circumstances.
Great. I feel so...defined.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This is a journal of my thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and confessions as a mormon who has fallen away but must stay in the church.