Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Exmormon Christmas Carol

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Our Family's Christmas

Millie Loomis's recent e-mail about her family's Thanksgiving prompted the San Francisco post-Mormons to explore new ways to celebrate the holidays. While spending Christmas with the believing LDS family may be traditional, it is not exactly merry and bright. At times, TBM family gatherings can reduce a gentle, reason-loving ex-Mormon into a hysterical, head-banging nut-job.

Rather than pad the walls of our parents' guest rooms, we decided to create a new family -- one we were neither born into nor assigned to visit. A "family of the heart," if you will. Or, in our case, a sanctuary city.

Our season commenced with a Post-Mormon Oakland Temple Light Excursion. Instead of the stop-off at the local Roundtable Pizza, we opted for Monaghans on the Hill, with its superior food and full bar! Mark and I bailed on visiting the temple grounds after. But the others reported that the lights looked amazingly good after a few cocktails, and the conversation with the missionaries flowed nicely as well.

"God only knows" where we'd be
without them!
Next came the Annual Christmas Concert, only this year we switched out the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Conference Center for The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus at the Castro Theater.

The performance of O Holy Night -- worth four times the admission price
The chorus director's introduction of the theme from Big Love that included a mention of "those crazy Mormons" -- priceless.

Then on Christmas day, instead of piling into our cars and heading to the usual creamed soup/jell-o extravaganzas, we hung at our house for a Post-Mormon Christmas Dinner. It was laid back, with very few decorations, although I did put up the usual tribute to our (former) Savior.
Instead of a blessing on the food, we began with prosecco and limoncello cocktails. They definitely invited the spirit, and great conversation as well.

Below are pictures of some SF ex-Mormons being merry and bright.
Extreme caution advised!
As for the traditional "ringing in of the New Year?" We sure as hell won't be at the Stake Center dancing to this with the Single Adults:

Thanks, Insana D,  for forwarding me this smokin' hot video!!

We'll be together again,celebrating the end of yet another year of freedom and authenticity, and toasting to the beginning of the next. There will be delicious food and drink, welcoming and non-judgmental companionship, and, of course, the traditional "lightmindedness, loud laughter, and evil speaking of the Lord's anointed."

Psst, Abbottsville Fourth Ward, come hang with us on New Year's Eve. You know you want to!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stake Single Adults Prepare To Ring In the New Year!

To: Abbottsville Stake Single Adults
From: Ricky and Mindy Foote, Stake Single Adults Leaders
Subject: Happy New Year, boy and girls!

Mindy and I are pleased to announce that President Knightly has decided to reinstate the Abbottsville Stake Single Adults Program!*

As always, we are honored to serve a group that includes so many near and dear, such as my former seminary teacher, Mindy's old high school principal, Sister Post who helped me earn my Duty to Country badge, and, of course, Mom. 

We've really gone the distance to plan a super-fun New Year's Eve Dance**  custom crafted for your unique status as LDS Single Adults.

Since President Knightly has ordered  the Single Adult sisters to each invite one of the Single Adult brethren as her date, Mindy came up with some creative ways for you gals to pop that awkward question without it being too embarrassing.
1. Fill a basket with Hostess "Ding Dongs" and "Twinkies." Place the basket at his doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run. A message in the basket should read, "DING DONG! I'm ringing your bell to see if you'll go to the dance with a TWINKIE like me."
2. Find a bug splat on the windshield of his car. Make a big arrow and tape it onto his windshield pointing directly to the splat. On the arrow, write, "This takes a lot of GUTS, but I was wondering if you'd go to the dance with me!"
3. Hire a police officer to drive to your date's house, knock on his front door, handcuff him, and take him to the squad car. Leave a note on the car seat that has, "Now that I have ARRESTED your attention, will you go to the dance with me?" all spelled out in Hershey Kisses.
4. Bake a batch of homemade Parker House rolls, slather them with melted butter, leave them at his front door, ring the bell, and run. Attach a message to the pan that reads, "If I BUTTER you up, will you RISE to the occasion?" 

Likewise, the brethren may choose one of the following methods of ACCEPTING the sisters' invitations
1. Give her a world atlas and a card that reads, "Yes! ATLASt you have asked me to the dance! You mean the WORLD to me! Without you, the EARTH would stop SPINNING! OCEANS couldn't keep us apart! Now that you have me, you've got the whole WORLD in your hands."
2. Duct tape your date's toilet seat shut. Across the tape write, "I'll GO with you."
3. For this idea, you will need some musical ability and a horse. Dress up as a handsome prince and ride the horse to her home. Use a trumpet to announce your arrival. When she comes to the door, dismount the horse, roll out a red carpet, walk to her threshold, kneel down and say, "I officially accept Your Majesty's invitation to the dance." 

 4. Send her a helium balloon that reads, "I'm UP for it."

Find more ideas here.

*Stake Single Adults may participate in Single Adult activities only if they first comply with the following conditions:
  1. Obtain a temple recommend or complete the Official Worthiness Questionnaire
  2. Fulfill your usual assignment at the Stake Family Christmas Party. That is, set up, serve dinner, man the nursery, and clean up afterwards.
  3. Attend tithing settlement. (Remember to bring your tax return!)
  4. Resolve to be married by the end of 2011.

**At the dance the following standards will be strictly enforced:
  1. No immodest dress. This includes pierced ears, facial hair or sideburns, and t-shirts advertising tobacco, porn, or caffeinated soft drinks. For more information, click here.
  2. No loitering. The halls, kitchen, auxiliary areas and bathrooms will be monitored by CCTV.
  3. Doors will be locked at 8:00 PM, no re-entrance allowed.
  4. The DJ's track list has been pre-approved by the stake presidency. No requests other than Janice Kapp Perry, the Osmonds, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
  5. Participation in the Chicken Dance is mandatory.
  6. At the stroke of midnight the brethren are required to give their dates a chaste kiss (no tongues.)
  7. We will adjourn at 12:01 AM sharp. Don't forget to call your home teacher when you get there.

Be there or be square, boys and girls!

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, you must first complete the Official Worthiness Questionnaire.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And I'm A (Mormon) Christian!

To: Abbottsville Stake
From: Dennis Newsome, Stake First Counselor and advisor to the Stake Public Affairs Council
Subject: 'Tis the season for PR!

Our inspired leaders in Salt Lake City have instructed us to use the Christmas Season to remind the world that Mormons are a diverse group of hard-working do-gooders like all other CHRISTIANS.

Knowing the difficulty of this assignment, the church has continued to invest in an ad campaign that profiles successful, "hip and edgy" Mormons. I urge everyone in the Abbottsville Stake to include the message below in your holiday greetings to your non-member friends, especially those living in Louisiana, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, and Minnesota.

Hi, I'm Lucas,

I'm one of the 100 richest men in San Francisco. 

I own a company that cleans up oil slicks. Even during a recession, I'm always in demand!

This Christmas, I plan on giving back by donating all my old clothes to Good Will, then going to the mall and buying new ones.

As a devout CHRISTIAN, my favorite pastimes are reciting the Lord's Prayer and reading the King James Version of the Bible.

Only 2 tubs on the beach for now ...
I have been married for thirty years to ONE woman.

We have four children. They also love reading the King James Version of the Bible.

The Fab Four
On the weekends my buddies and I perform at a little club on Mission Street. 

We're a diverse group. And when we get going, we're smokin' hot.

I put my garments back on as soon as
I'm done
After that we take in the sights, and, if it's warm enough, we stop at one of San Francisco's nude beaches.

I'm a billionaire, a philanthropist, a CHRISTIAN, a musician, and a monogamist. I have a King James Version of the Bible, and a oil clean-up rig capable of igniting the Pacific Ocean. I'm a husband, a father, and a nudist. 

My name is Lucas Tweedy,

and I'm a Mormon.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Family Christmas Letter Time!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Ruth Turley, Relief Society Enrichment Leader
Subject: Merry Christmas from the Turley Family!

It's that wonderful time of year again, when we gather together as families, catch up with loved ones, and celebrate the season in the spirit of Christian charity.

In these trying economic times, when so many are facing unemployment, bankruptcy, and foreclosure, H. LaVar and I feel super blessed to be living in our brand new 5,000 square foot home, complete with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and four car garage.
Be it ever so humble
Anywho, none of our possessions, not even our awesome new flat screen, are more precious to us than our six (soon to be seven) beautiful children.

Our year in review:

Tommy (14) participated in football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, volleyball, choir, band, debate, chess club and yoga. Then on his 14th birthday, he added Stake Dances to his list of activities! At first the girls wouldn't dance with him. -- One even called him "booger." But a box of Kleenex, a little Clearasil and more frequent showers improved his luck with the ladies. (Only H. LaVar is now worried that some of Tommy's showers have been a little too long, and maybe include an "unclean" activity, if you get my drift. -- Time for a father-son sit down.)

Tessie (12) continued to be the sweet spirit she was destined to become, helping Mommy cook, clean, babysit, garden, iron, make curtains, and sell NuSkin products. As a first year Beehive, she dove into the Young Women's Personal Progress program by crocheting 100 hot pads and donating them to the poor. Even more exciting, this fall we purchased her first training bra, which can only mean a certain grown-up event is about to take place!! (Will keep everyone posted.)

Timmy (10) magnified his calling as future missionary by passing out Book of Mormons to everyone on the block, tracting out "golden contacts" door to door, and calling our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Mayfield, to repentance when he spotted some empty wine bottles in their recycle. He also served as an elementary school hall monitor and cited many infractions.

Teddy (8) did nothing, as usual. We now wonder if his August baptism may have been invalid in some way, and are toying with the idea of performing the ordinance again.

Toby (6) managed to survive the year with only eight trips to the ER. Thanks to that irrepressible little rascal, we've had to replace the Mayfield's front window, the stage curtains in the ward cultural hall, the motor on the Abbottsville Mall escalator, and H. LaVar's new chainsaw. We hope he makes it through 2011, because life wouldn't be the same without his special little spirit.

Terry (3) is so adorably curious! Everywhere we go he wants to know "why?" For example, "Why doesn't Brother Crawford take the sacrament?" or "Why did Bishop Zimmerman go into the liquor store?" or "Why's that noise coming out of Mr. and Mrs. Mayfield's bedroom window?" There's just no squelching his inquisitive mind, and we wouldn't dream of trying. H. LaVar and I make a point of answering all of his questions in detail.

H. LaVar has had a great year. In spite of the bad economy, he was promoted twice and received a ginormous raise and bonus. But humble guy that he is, he attributes his success merely to hard work, clean living, his support of traditional marriage, his obedience to the one and only true church, and his righteousness in the Pre-Existence. He continues to serve as Ward Mission Leader, a calling that has blessed him with many spiritual experiences.

As for me, I've been pregnant since June, meaning that half my year has been spent hurling into the toilet. Nevertheless, I am grateful for my divine role. Every time I lean over the bowl, I thank Heavenly Father that I am a Mother in Zion. I also am grateful that as the Relief Society Enrichment Leader, I am able to share my culinary talents with the sisters.

I'd like to go on, but Toby has run off with the keys to our Suburban, the nut loaf I'm baking for the Mayfields has caught fire in the oven, and little Terry just asked, "Why is Tommy moaning in the shower?"

So anywho,
Merry Christmas!!
Love, The Turleys

If you would like to stop receiving these emails, we insist you submit to an interrogation by Terry Turley.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanks For The Loud Laughter

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Remembering Leslie Nielsen

Looking back, it is no wonder my slow departure from Mormonism progressed alongside The Naked Gun series. When the first installment opened in 1988, I was an active Mormon. My hands were covered in eczema and I was having recurring nightmares about being trapped in a box. Add to that, I regularly attended the temple where I was instructed to "avoid all lightmindedness, loud laughter, and evil speaking of the Lord's anointed." I didn't laugh much. But when I did, it was a freakish, hysterical laughter that climaxed in an endorphin fueled high that for a few fleeting moments made me feel alive.

In those days, laughter was serious business.

Enter my hero, Leslie Nielsen, who in the persona of Lieutenant Frank Drebin, provided me with a series of ninety minute uninterrupted happy highs that lifted my spirits like no temple session ever could.

My local Mormon leaders discouraged the faithful from seeing the films because of their sexual content. What should have worried them was the irreverence they inspired. Whether he was knocking Barbara Bush off a balcony, botching our National Anthem, flinging O.J. Simpson into the stands at Dodger Stadium, dismantling The Oscars under the guise of Phil Donahue, or locking Queen Elizabeth II in the coital position, our man Drebin never tired of poking fun at the "anointed." (I remind my gentle readers that immediately before Her Majesty wrapped her royal thighs around Lt. Drebin, the city of Los Angeles had presented her with a Revolutionary War musket.)

Face it Abbottsville Fourth Ward. Loud laughter's not only a good thing. It's downright healthy.

Those who fear leaving Mormonism because of all they've invested in the faith could benefit from the example of Mr. Nielsen, who spent 20+ years of his own life trapped in the wrong genre. He began his career as a dramatic actor, delivering stock performances in films such as The Forbidden Planet, Tammy and the Bachelor, and The Poseidon Adventure. Then in 1980 he was cast as Dr. Rumack in the film, Airplane! His character was to be a supporting role to larger parts played by Peter Graves and Robert Stack. But he stole the show with his comic timing and droll delivery.

Rumack: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to the hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
After that it was nothing but lightmindedness, loud laughter, and evil speaking of the Lord's anointed.

Mayor: Now Drebin, I don't want any trouble like you had on the South Side last year, that's my policy.
Drebin: Well, when I see five weirdos, dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's *my* policy!
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare In The Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones!

Mrs. Nordberg: Oh, my poor Nordberg! He was such a good man, Frank. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Who would do such a thing?
Drebin: It's hard to tell. A gang of thugs, a blackmailer, an angry husband, a gay lover . . .

President George Bush: Frank, please consider filling a post I'm creating. It may mean long hours and dangerous nights surrounded by some of the scummiest elements in our society.
Drebin: You want me to be in your cabinet?

Drebin: I can't hear you! Don't fire the gun while you're talking!

Commissioner Anabell Brumford: (on telephone) Hello? He did what? How many animals escaped? Oh my god. (hangs up phone.)
Drebin: Good evening, commissioner. You're looking lovely tonight.
Commissioner Anabell Brumford: Do you realize that because of you this city is being overrun by baboons?
Drebin: Well, isn't that the fault of the voters?

I pity the priesthood holder who is assigned to do Leslie Nielsen's temple work, as it would be impossible not to envision Frank Drebin doing the same. Here's my take on that fantasy:

Lieutenant Drebin takes an unassuming seat some three rows back from the altar. The officiator dims the lights and begins the film. Only instead of God creating the universe, we get The Three Stooges bonking each other on the head. Drebin leaps from his seat, rushes up the aisle, knocks over the officiator, and begins fooling with the knobs behind the altar. The lights flicker on and off, the curtains go up and down, and The Three Stooges keep bonking each other. Then the altar explodes and sends Drebin flying through the veil and into the Celestial Room where he dangles from the crystal chandelier. The chandelier crashes down, the player piano blares from the speakers, and Drebin careens through the temple on a madcap romp that ends when he knocks the temple matron into the baptismal font, just after accidentally ripping off her dress.
Nothing to see here!

Comedies don't win many awards. It's usually the tragedies that attract the critics' attention. While I admire performers who accurately reflect real people's suffering, I sometimes wish we gave more credit to those who help to alleviate that suffering. To those who make us laugh. Leslie Nielson certainly made me laugh, and at a time in my life when I dearly needed to. He also taught me how to respond when a member of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward asks:
Well meaning ward member: Donna, surely you want to go to General Conference. What is it really?
Me: It's a mind-numbingly boring meeting run by a bunch of misogynistic homophobes, but that's not important right now. And don't call me Shirley.  
May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Etiquette -- Mormon Style

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Millie Loomis, self-appointed ward media and culture critic
Subject: Holding my own at Thanksgiving

Back in the day, when my family gathered at my parents' house for Thanksgiving, we were all of one mind, one heart, one faith.

But thanks to today's turbulent times, that is no longer the case. 

I confess I have been in denial over this sad truth for some time. Two years ago I simply ignored the Obama sticker on my brother's van, likewise my nephew's "No on Prop. 8" tee shirt. When my youngest sister announced that she had broken off her engagement to pursue an Italian study abroad program, I held my tongue. At the time I didn't want to cause conflict at the dinner table. 

Instead I took the high road by bringing up neutral subjects like Glenn Beck's latest book, my favorite General Conference talks, and the joys of traditional marriage. 

Unfortunately, my inaction only laid the groundwork for a disastrous holiday the following year. 

Convinced that I was somehow "OK" with his extreme views, my brother turned on MSNBC before dinner with the volume high enough for my children to hear. My nephew boasted about his participation in a Pride parade. Worst of all, my youngest sister announced that over her past year in Italy, she had been drinking wine and living with somebody named Lucca, who was neither Mormon nor even her husband!!!

I again took the high road by introducing neutral subjects like the validity of our president's birth certificate, my favorite articles in The Ensign, and the rise of Internet porn.

I can only imagine what she's thinking!
My efforts were of no use. My son now believes that "gay people are happy," and my daughter wants to put off marriage to go to Italy -- not on a mission, not on a See Zion First tour -- but simply to LIVE!!

In order to avoid a similar trap this year, I emailed the following compassionate message to my siblings. Many of you may consider doing the same.

Dear (Loved Ones),

While I respect your agency and love you as individuals, I can no longer allow you to influence my children. This may be difficult for you to understand, but because I have moral values, I am trying to raise righteous children in the one and only true church. Out of respect for me and for my children's eternal salvation, I ask that this year our Thanksgiving dinner conversation be restricted to the following neutral topics: 

The Book of Mormon
President Monson
The good old U S of A
Why fornication is a sin
72 hour kits
Miserable souls who break The Word of Wisdom
The empty lives of female professionals
A cure for homosexuality
Grandma's tatting projects
How stupid intellectuals are

In spite of everything, I can't wait to see all of you. As usual, I will be bringing my super-yummy green bean and tater-tot souffle, also the maraschino cherry/Cool Whip mousse.  

We can all agree on tatting!

I sent the e-mail last week, and so far have not heard back from anyone, so I take that as a good sign. Wish me luck, brothers and sisters!

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll send you Millie Loomis's favorite General Conference talks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Musings From The Mission Field

To: abbottsville fourth ward
From: elder young, france paris mission
Subject: bon jour from the mission field!!!!

hey abbottsville fourth!!!!

first off, thanks all of you for your letters and care packages!! especially Sister Renfro for the super yummy fudge bombs, and mom for my favorite monster cookies with the extra chocolate chunks and gummy bears. my comp says i have the best ward ever!!!

we were bummed at the beginning of the week when we learnt that Madame Muzet's felony court sentencing date has been moved back so she can't be baptized until december. but then my comp reminded me that we were in gay par-ee, and we should be gay!!! lol (btw, by gay he meant happy, and I totally knew that by gay he meant happy, btw.)

so we put on our happy faces and rode our bikes over to Noter Dame to pass out pamphlets. at first nobody would take them, then comp and i started sticking them anywhere we could, like in people's bags, or under their armpits. comp even managed to slip one down the back of this guy's pants!!! lol sometimes people got all mad and threw them on the ground, but comp and i figured that was ok cause then the wind would just blow them all over france!!!     :-)))))

then this super cool guy rides up on his bike and introduces himself as Henri in ENGLISH!!! :-))))) he said he needed practice speaking and reading english. So right off we offered him the greatest work in the english language, The Book of Mormon!!!!! :-))))) He said he didn't want to read it, and I said yes he did, and he said no he didn't. i said have you ever red it? and he said no, and i said that he was being prideful and judging something he hadn't even red, and he said he didn't care, but he ended up taking it when comp tried to stuff it under his armpit. lol

we asked him if we could schedule an appointment to teach him, and he said he didn't want to be taught anything and got on his bike and road off. we knew he was just being prideful, so we got on our bikes and followed him. he speeded up, then we speeded up and pretty soon comp and i were in this super cool chase scene like in the Born Identity, only instead being CIA assassins, we were valiant warriors for the Lord, which made us way cooler than Matt Damon. i was amazed at how good the french drivers and pedestrians were at swerving to avoid our bicycles! just like in the movies!! :-))))) thanks to them we were able to stay on Henri's tail for idk how long, maybe an hour. then the chase came to an end when the handle of my scripture case hooked onto a rack at one of those outdoor book stalls and sent a gazillion antique postcards flying into the Sane River.
comp and i were kind of bummed after that, but we kept up our spirits and passed out more pamphlets to people who were either prideful or ignerant or downright satanic. this one old lady even pushed me down with her walker. i took it in stride. as a messanger of the Lord i realized that i have been blessed with more spiritual maturity and therefore must practice tolerence.

when we ran out of pamphlets we wandered over to a cafe to check the menu and who do you think we saw sitting at a table with a glass of wine? Henri!!!! :-)))))
we parked our bikes, grabbed a couple of chairs and joined him at his table. Henri covered his face with his hands and begged us to leave. i launched into the lesson while comp emptied the wine glass into a plant. then i remembered that the manual said that before each lesson we were supposed to get the investigator to pray, so i stopped and asked Henri to say a word of prayer, and he said no way, and i told him the manual said he had to, and he said he wouldn't, and i said he was being prideful. meanwhile the other people in the restaurant started to complain and this guy in an apron ran out and told us to leave. we told him we wouldn't leave until Henri prayed. the guy in the apron muttered some french words comp and i never learnt at the MTC and disappeared. then Henri bowed his head and said a short prayer that wasn't very revrent, but was a good enough start, and we stood to leave.

then 2 guys in aprons came out, each carrying a strawberry tart. only, instead of serving them to a table, they smooshed them into me and comp's faces. comp and i scraped the tarts off of our faces and into our bicycle helmets which we then used as bowls to eat out of. it's a technique we've developed by experience. french food is amazingly good, and it's surprising how often we get it for free like this!!! lol

on the way home we were kind of bummed when we saw that some of the strawberry cream filling had gotten all over our jackets and we didn't have any money to have them cleaned. then we realized the stains were really badges of honor -- like all battle scars heroes bring back from war -- and we wore them with pride!!!! :-)))))

please keep sending the letters and especially the care packages. my comp's from idaho, and all he ever gets are rice krispie treats and his mom's homemade fruit leather -- barely enough to sustain our testimonies.

love to all of you!!!!! :-)))))

elder young
france, paris misssion

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Friday, November 5, 2010

The Week That Was -- And Wasn't

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous then back to the Sublime.

Mark and I began our week last Sunday doing what we do best -- pissing off the Religious Right. You got it, Fourth Warders, while you were locked up in your darkened houses observing the Sabbath, we mocked God by passing out candy to evil little urchins dressed in black and orange. At the same time, we watched our beloved black and orange baseball team win the fourth game in the World Series, beating the Texas Rangers.

Then on Monday night . . . well we all know what happened on Monday night. Because for once, both the Mormons and the Ex-Mormons were tuned in to the same channel.

It was the best Family Home Evening ever!

Then Tuesday's midterm election results sucked the Kum-bay-yah right out of the air, and we were again on different sides. -- Polarized over nonsensical issues such as the definition of marriage, the location of a mosque in Manhattan, and the validity of our president's birth certificate. As a fiscally conservative, socially progressive Republican, Mark couldn't understand why the (few) sensible members of his party lent their support to a bunch of right wing fanatics, knowing full well that their religious rhetoric was dangerous and their economic policy was irresponsible. As a liberal Democrat, I couldn't believe that my party who controlled the White House, Senate and Congress for two years and promised change couldn't even muster the strength to push through a measure allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

Perhaps what Washington needs is a cool-headed North Carolina rookie who pitched eight shut out innings against the Rangers, or a Columbian-born slugger who knocked a three-run homer into a sea of red at Texas Stadium, or a long-haired "freak" with a ninety mile an hour fast ball. Not once during the eight years of his presidency did George W. Bush come to San Francisco. But the Texas Rangers were here, and they fought the good fight.

Of course, that kind of courage only happens in sports.

On Wednesday morning Mark and I set our disappointment aside and rode the packed subway downtown for the parade.

Best friends for 33 years
It was only fitting that we met my former BYU roommate and BFF, Emily, who came straight from teaching early morning seminary in her East Bay LDS ward.

The crowd was ecstatic and the experience priceless.

Thank god nobody fell off the top of that Muni Bus!

When he got back to work, Mark discovered that half of his pictures didn't take because his camera's memory chip was overloaded -- SO HE MISSED GETTING ANY PICTURES OF THE PLAYERS!!

This blurred image of Bruce Bochy with the trophy is the last shot that registered. 

I may post more when Emily and other friends who were at the parade email them my way. (I am progressing slowly down the road to forgiveness. Last night I even allowed Mark to come inside and sleep on the couch.)

After the parade, Emily and I shopped in Chinatown and had a leisurely lunch at Cafe Claude. Religion never came up, nor did politics. Instead we discussed important things, like family, friends, good books, and, of course, baseball.

I am lucky. I am an Ex-Mormon whose best friend is a believing Mormon, and I'm a Democrat who is happily married to a Republican. But I know too many Ex-Mormons who have been shunned by their believing families and friends, and, like everyone, I have endured an endless amount of mind-numbing political debate. I am disturbed that our country is so divided, and that our national conversation has been monopolized by fundamentalist extremists. 

My dear friends from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward, it is no wonder that in contentious times such as these, many of us yearn for peace and spiritual well-being. For that reason, I am grateful for our membership in the one and only true, non-partisan, non-denominational Church of Baseball. 
In the name of cheese and rice, amen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fast and Testimony Mad Libs!

To: Donna Banta
From: Mark Crawford
Subject: Surviving Fast and Testimony Meeting

Dear Donna,

Mother called last night to tell me that she's visiting the first weekend in November. By now Mother has come to terms with the fact that I live with a man and that I am no longer active in the church. (Only when I told her I didn't think the church was true anymore she responded with, "Oh p-shaw.") Nevertheless, she will no doubt expect Byron and I to do the three hour Sunday marathon with her, including the dreaded Fast and Testimony Meeting.

Upon learning this frightening news, Byron mercifully mixed a pitcher of martinis, and together we created the following "survival game."

Fast and Testimony Mad Libs

I would indeed be  __adjective__  if I didn't stand today and  __verb__  my  __noun__. At this time I would like to publicly thank my Heavenly Father for all my  __plural noun__. 

Lately I have been persecuted by some of my non- __noun__  co-workers. They mock me because I wear sacred  __plural noun__  under my clothes, don't  __verb__  or drink __liquid__,  refuse to have more than one piercing in my  __body part__, won't have  __bodily function__  outside of  __proper noun__ ,  and believe that I can one day become a  __noun__. Finally I drew up my courage and bore testimony of the one and only true  __noun__ . They felt the  __noun__,  and their  __plural body part__  were softened.

I am reminded of my  __cardinal number__   great grandfather who was  __verb__  by an  __adjective__  mob, then forced to cross the plains with nothing more than a  __noun__  and  __noun__. At least he had his faith in  __proper noun__  and a knowledge of the Book of  __humorous fictional character__  to sustain him. 

I know the church is  __adjective__.  I know Joseph Smith was a  __noun__.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a  __noun__  of  __noun__  who  __verb__  the  church today.

And finally, brothers and sisters, if I have offended any of you,  __verb__  my  __body part__.

In the name of  __your favorite comedian or cartoon character__,  amen.

I testify to you, Donna, that this game, when paired with multiple martinis, is a deeply spiritual experience. Will  see how it compares with the real deal with Mother.


Friday, October 22, 2010

My Ex-Mormon Conference Weekend

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: My Conference Weekend

As I hinted in a post last month, I don't like looking at a sea of blue suits and white dress shirts, listening to bullshit stories about poor schlubs who blow their life savings on temple garments, mixing with old men who seem to know a gazillion people who like to look at porn, taking the advice of people who only want me to pay my tithing, or, in short, being bored out of my fucking mind.

So it was only natural that I passed on the 180th Semi-Annual General Conference of the LDS Church, and caught the Ex-Mormon Foundation Conference instead. It was a good decision.

It opened on Friday night with an awesome open mic that featured many first time attendees, all with fascinating stories to tell.

On Saturday Pamela McCreary inspired us with the story of her journey out of Mormonism and her eventual reconciliation with her believing family.

Jim Whitefield, author of Mormon Delusion, provided us with a spirited and sometimes hilarious expose of LDS doctrine and history.

Then Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family and C Street -- The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, delivered a fascinating account of his investigative reporting of the fundamentalist movement in American politics. He also described his first tour of Temple Square. When he asked a sister missionary in the Visitors' Center about the LDS Church's involvement in legislation against gay marriage, the addled twenty-something avoided the question by turning on a video of Jeffrey R. Holland's recent conference address on -- what else -- INTERNET PORN! Honestly, is there no other subject?

Finally, Tal Bachman addressed the conference again, this time on the dual topics of "life after Mormonism" and "why is Gordon B. Hinckley smiling?" I especially appreciated his observation that we exmos need more than just Darwin to sustain us. We also need a community and a passion to replace what used to be our faith.

Speaking of community, there is none better than the attendees of the Ex-Mormon Conference. I had the pleasure of meeting the above speakers, Post-Mormon founder Jeff Ricks, Eric Davis, Cludgie, and the amazing Insana D. I also reconnected with Ms. Mom and Dr. Dad, Larry and Mikki, Jerry and Cheryl, The Brother of Jerry, Wine Country Girl, and a whole bunch of other feminists, gays and/or intellectuals, including these characters:
No worries on the drive home with one of the 3 Nephites at my side! 
Thanks to Sue Emmett, Chad Spjut and others for putting together another fantastic party!

View excerpts from the Ex-Mormon conference on The Iron Rod.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Super Special Tips For Stay At Home Moms

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Susan Renfro, Ward Relief Society President
Subject: Tips for SAHM's

This past Saturday the Relief Society was privileged to hear from LDS home efficiency expert, La Rae Sorenson*, whose book,  The Righteous Stay at Home Mom, tops the Deseret Book best sellers list. Here is an excerpt from her presentation.
While all LDS mothers know that the Lord expects them to stay at home, many make the mistake of believing that staying at home implies an unstructured environment, where mother drops the children off at school, then feels free to go where the day takes her. Such selfishness suggests a slovenly approach to a woman's sacred duty, invites Satan into the home, and leaves the children at risk of growing up to be drug addicts, pedifiles, convicted felons, or even worse, feminists, gays, and intellectuals.
For the sake of her family, the righteous SAHM follows a church approved schedule. Here is a typical example:
8:00: Drop children off at school.
8:00-9:00: Ward meeting house assignment -- sanitize the men's room urinals.
9:00-10:00: Visiting Teaching -- Monthly Message: The Divine Role of Women. 
10:00-11:00: Prune bottling at the Stake Cannery.
12:00: Lunch -- prunes.
12:00-1:00: Knit 2 dozen baby booties for the stake president to present to the children's hospital.
1:00-2:00: Prepare 45 tin foil dinners for the ward father-son camp-out.
2:00-3:00: Plan Relief Society Personal Enrichment lesson: Fun with Dryer Lint!
3:00: Pick up children at school.
3:00-6:00: Return to the meeting house to set up and cook for the Ward Chili Cook-off -- while simultaneously enjoying quality time with children.
6:00: Dinner -- chili.
6:00-9:00: Clean up the ward cultural hall and kitchen.
9:00: Tuck children in bed.
9:00-??: Prepare 3 tubs of prune whip for tomorrow's Elders' Quorum Social.
*Sister LaRae Sorenson is mother of nine with one on the way. She home schools, sews all of her family's clothes, cooks exclusively from scratch, cans the proceeds of her 4 acre vegetable garden, teaches Primary, works in the temple, is a stake missionary, and runs the church welfare farm. In her spare time she enjoys clipping coupons, tatting, and playing Farmtown.

This month's Use Your Food Storage recipe was contributed by Sister Zina Rowley.

Pinto Bean Fudge
1 cup pinto beans, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup cocoa powder
up to 1/4 cup evaporated milk
4 pounds sugar
1 can of Crisco
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Melt Crisco, add in sugar until dissolved then mix in the remaining ingredients and spread onto a cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator. Check occasionally by poking with a fork. Fudge is done when it is no longer possible to extract the fork.
Bon Appetit!
  If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, you run the risk that your kids will grow up to be feminists, gays or intellectuals.