Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ferry Building or General Conference?

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Who will it be? The post-Mormons or the General Authorities?

This weekend the members of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward may choose between attending the post-Mormon party at the San Francisco Ferry Building, or watching the 180th Semi-Annual General Conference of the LDS Church. I've provided the following aptitude test to help you decide.

Answer each question in a way that best describes yourself.

1. I like to look at:
a. the sparkling blue San Francisco bay teaming with white caps.
b. a sea of blue suits and white dress shirts.

2. On the weekend I like to relax by:
a. sipping Pete's Coffee and maybe splurging on a treat from Boccalone Salume or Miette Patisserie.
b. sipping Postum while some cranky old man tells me to cut back on groceries so I can pay my tithing.

3. I like to listen to:
a. real life stories about people who struggle to survive beneath the poverty level.
b. bullshit stories about characters like Brother Justo Velasquez, who labored patiently selling tamales on a street corner in Tegucigalpa, then blew all of his hard-earned pesos on temple garments.

4. I like mixing with:
a. feminists, gays, and intellectuals.
b. old men who've never met a feminist, gay, or intellectual, but seem to know a gazillion people who like to look at porn.

5. I want to associate with people who:
a. encourage me to have fun, get an education and see the world.
b. pester me to go on a mission, get married, and pay my tithing.

6. I like to discuss:
a. art, music, literature and film.
b. Internet porn

7. I take the advice of:
a. people who only want me to be myself.
b. people who only want me to pay my tithing.

8. I like:
a. reading science fiction.
b. being part of science fiction.

9. This Sunday I would rather:
a. enjoy myself.
b. be bored out of my fucking mind.

10. In other words, I want to:
a. Hang with the post-Mormons at the Ferry Building.
b. Hang at home with the GA's and a reheated portion of this.

Abbottsville Fourth Ward, I urge you to choose A! Come to the Ferry Buiding! 
(You know you want to.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Ward Gossip!

To: The wonderful people who follow my blog
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Ward Gossip is one year old today!

A year ago today, I began posting the e-mails I receive from the Abbottsville Fourth ward for you, my wonderful readers. In honor of this anniversary, and in a flagrant act of self-congratulations, I invite you to revisit the year in review:

We began in September when Bishop Paul Zimmerman made the following confession:
"My apologies to the young men in the ward who mistakenly received my employer's form 10-Q quarterly report last week. My intended message, "Hands Off: Tips on Avoiding Masturbation," was sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission."
In October, Brother H. LeVar Turley declared, Holy Fetch! These folks would make great Mormons:
President and Mrs. Carter
President and Mrs. Reagan
President and Mrs. H. W. Bush
President and Mrs. George W. Bush
President Bill Clinton
Chelsea Clinton
Socks and Buddy Clinton
Barack Obama's mother

In November Stake Single Adults Leaders, Ricky and Mindy Foote, decided to cancel the Swinging Seventies Party after the Stake Singles obtained a pair of Ricky's old Scooby-doo underpants and engaged in a bidding war over them on e-Bay. Also because nobody turned in their Official Worthiness Questionnaire.

Then December rolled around and the Abbottsville Fourth Ward Celebrated the Season, Mormon Style with a week-long party that included a visit to the Cultural Hall by "Joseph and his Elves," a priesthood-only viewing of The Passion of the Joseph (rated X for historical accuracy) and a stake sing-a-long of Handel's The Joseph.

January proved to be a full month.
First Former Stake President Taylor described his visit to Southern Utah and the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre:
"I recalled the St. George I visited as a boy. A stark, dry planet hanging in the void. Even in the 1940's, the town was much like Brigham Young intended, a solitary outpost, accessible by a single road, shunned and left to itself, a deep compost of Mormon shame."
Then an old e-mail for former Bishop Loomis (whose shocking murder has yet to be solved) provided the blog with its most popular post, LDS Temple Garments: Wear Them Or Else. Thanks to a mass fascination with secret Mormon underwear, or underwear in general, this post gets at least 5 or 10 hits a day. So far my favorite search words are:

mum lets me borrow her panty girdle if I promise not to soil it

And the Young Women Were Keepin' Busy with a super special class schedule:
Beehives: "Avoid All Loud Laughter." Girls will practice quiet tittering.
Mia Maids: "Self-Reliance Part II." Learn how to turn your glue gun into a money-maker.
Laurels: "What I Really Want for Graduation." Breast implants or a car, which will take me where I need to go?

In February See Zion First! Mormon Travel and Tours unveiled some of its summer excursions, including a Book of Mormon tour that visits the Tree of Life, the Waters of Mormon, the Rameumpton, and 
"El Footsteps de Nephi Trading Post, where proprietor Manny "Moroni" Gonzales stocks a host of treasures, such as authentic pieces of Nephi's steel bow and chunks of Lehi's ship. (Cash only, all sales final, vendor is armed and does not have access to the safe.)"

Scroll down to March to read how the Three Nephites Shaped History. According to Ward Spiritual Giant, Sid Dooley, the Three Nephites,  
"might have been with Lincoln at Gettysburg, probably were with Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis, and definitely were with George W. Bush during the Florida Recount."
In April the LDS Young Women Think PINK! when they are assigned to:
"List the divine qualities you were endowed with in the Pre-Existence, such as sweetness, subservience, thriftiness, buxomness, a flair for macrame, a profound lack of curiosity, etc. Pick your favorite divine quality and embroider it onto a PINK pillow case using PINK thread and surrounding it with pretty PINK flowers or sea horses."
Sister Millie Loomis took a See Zion First! tour of Paris in May, and came home to claim,
"Only the Church could send us on a trip like this."
Ex-Mormon spies TBM's at Giants game

In June the Mormons kept a low profile at the San Francisco Giants' Game.

July brought panic to the Abbottsville Stake Singles when President Knightly suspended the Single Adult program. That is, until the single sisters realize their divine roll in the church and the single brethren stop being menaces to society.

And thanks to the inspired "And I'm a Mormon" ad campaign, in August we met Brian, who proudly proclaimed:

I'm a billionaire, a philanthropist, a recycler, and a biker. I have a $75,000 watch, and a friend who might be gay. I'd love to buy your home for cheap. I am a husband, a father, and a masochist. My name is Brian Swensen, 

and I'm a Mormon.

Now here we are in September. One year and 56 posts later.

I must add that the really "funny -- interesting -- cool" writing is in the comment field. For example:
  In OctoberSarah  said,
"Our stake presidency wasn't so great at filtering the music for our youth dances . . . they allowed "Brass Monkey" by the Beastie Boys and "I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men for several months before getting a clue! Not to worry, we just sang "I'll make cookies with you" instead. Yes, for real!"
In November, Anonymous said,
"Mormons NEVER acknowledge art unless its created by a faithful member of their own tribe. I remember the so-called Rodin exhibit at BYU. "
In FebruaryflattopSF asked,
"Can you forward (me) the address for that Abbottsville Leather, Latex and Fetish Factory? It may come in handy some day."
In April, My Temple Name is Deborah suggested,
"Mormons should hire you as a PR consultant and pay you the big bucks." 
In MayInsana D said,
"What the LDS love to proclaim, "The church is the same wherever you go" is a bit like a self condemnation. It's like saying, We are the McDonald's of Religions. McMormon nuggets, all lined up and pasty fatty white, deep fried, overcooked, pressed meat like and completely tasteless. MMMM, McMormons!" 
And Chino Blanco made my day when he told me,
"You've got all kinds of win going on here."
 In July, Donavan, the 4th Nephite said,
"Gay heaven looks very similar, except there are drag queens who LOOK like the above and MORE Calvin Klein or D&G (Dolce and Gabanna) underwear models running around. Nearly naked. And looking ever-fit and tan."
In AugustSteve said,
"Judging by those garden gnomes, I think the rice krispy treats sold so well because they were laced with mushrooms. Yikes!"
This Septembergoodbye kitty asked,
"Donna, can i sit next to you in hell?"
Ahab said,
"Aye aye aye. BYU sounds "interesting", to say the least!"
Leah  said,
"I find it ironic that so many Mormons get upset when people say they're not Real Christians, and yet they feel entitled to define what is and isn't a Real Mormon. Or to define Real Marriage, for that matter."  

He's back by popular demand

Lisa said,

"thanks for the pic going with the "intimacy in marriage" class, mmm ;) "

And Carla said,
"What really, really makes me sick is when people blame violence on everything but the real cause: poverty."

That's only an abbreviated sampling of the great comments I've received, and I appreciate every one, almost as much as I enjoy reading your blogs.

 All in all, it's been a good year for me, the blog, and the Saints from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward.

Since it doesn't look like they will be taking me off their e-mail list any time soon, is there a particular ward member you would like to hear more from? Or a topic you might like to further explore? (I already know about the underwear.) While I don't pretend to have any clout (not having priesthood and all), I can at least send the bishop a cheerful suggestion now and then . . . anything to please you, my wonderful readers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Just In: God Blew Up San Bruno

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward and the wonderful people who follow my blog
From: Donna Banta
Subject: God is speaking folks. Are you listening?

Mark and I read the following letter to the editor in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle:

Divine judgment
First, I pray for those families who suffered in the San Bruno pipeline blast; this is a tragedy that could've been corrected with the right care being applied beforehand.

However, on a more divine level: This blast can be viewed as God's divine judgment upon San Fransicko (sic) for its ultra-leftist and anti-normal way of doing things, and for that sad excuse of a judge who overturned the will of the people in his anti-Proposition 8 ruling.

God is speaking, folks. Are you listening?

Lloyd Marshall Jr., Lockport, N.Y.

This morning Mark faxed this to the editor of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
170 East Ave.
Lockport, N.Y. 14094
Main Phone: (716) 439-9222
Newsroom Fax: (716) 439-9239
September 13, 2010
I read with bemusement the following Letter to the Editor in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning, referring to the dreadful explosion last Thursday in San Bruno, a quiet suburb adjacent the San Francisco Airport:

Divine judgment
First, I pray for those families who suffered in the San Bruno pipeline blast; this is a tragedy that could've been corrected with the right care being applied beforehand.
However, on a more divine level: This blast can be viewed as God's divine judgment upon San Fransicko (sic) for its ultra-leftist and anti-normal way of doing things, and for that sad excuse of a judge who overturned the will of the people in his anti-Proposition 8 ruling.
God is speaking, folks. Are you listening?
Lloyd Marshall Jr., Lockport, N.Y.                                                                                    

Mr. Marshall can take some solace, I suppose, in the fact that he is not the first person to condemn San Francisco and San Franciscans for their “anti-normal” behavior.  San Francisco continues to prosper despite the condemnations regularly heaped on the City and its citizens by all sorts of pundits and religious do-gooders.

Shortly after the 1906 earthquake and fire, many clergymen condemned San Francisco, and attributed the earthquake to God’s divine retribution on a city and citizenry completely devoid of morality.  The local poet and wit Charles Kellogg Field responded with the following verse, noting that all the churches were burned down, but that the local distillery was spared the conflagration:

If, as some say, God spanked the town
For being over frisky,
Why did He burn the Churches down
And save Hotaling’s Whiskey?

God save you, Mr. Marshall, and all like-minded bigots.  We love living in San Francisco, and hope to share a pint with you whenever you visit.

Mark S. Banta, San Francisco, CA

Sigh. It never fails. Whenever a tragedy occurs, we can always rely on some narrow-minded "patriot," to offer faint sympathy for the victims, then change the subject to himself and all of the people and things he hates. Wherever they may live.

My dear friends from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward. I hope none of you share Mr. Marshall's opinion. However, I'm afraid that many of you do. So, I suggest you consider the words of Charles Kellogg Field. When Sunday rolls around, skip the church and head straight for the bar. Or, if it happens to be Fast Sunday, join the post-mormons at the San Francisco Ferry Building. Steve sets up our bunker next to Peet's Coffee.

I say this for your own safety. Because, as far as I can tell, we "San Fransicko's" won't be changing our anti-normal way of doing things anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Are You A Real Mormon?

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Former Stake President Stan Taylor
Subject: My Education Week

My first day at BYU Education Week began with a recitation by Brother Maddox who has committed the entire Book of Mormon to memory. After that a BYU history professor taught me that every prominent U.S. statesman was secretly a Mormon. Next I heard from Sister JayNeen Sorenson who claimed to love the Gospel, but made living it sound like a prolonged rectal exam. I broke for an uninspiring meal at the Cougareat, then listened to a millennialist whose predictions on global warming made Al Gore's documentary seem comforting. Finally I sat through a fiery political screed delivered by a fanatical kook who also happened to co-author the Republican mid-term platform.

In other words, it was business as usual at BYU. Same stale syllabus. Same stale teachers. Same stale lessons on what rather than how to think.

Then after viewing an agonizingly insipid production entitled, Annie Get Your Garments, I heard a voice from my past call to me in the lobby. He was bald now, and rounder in the middle, but the banana shaped birth mark on his cheek was a dead give-away.
"I'll be darned, if it isn't cousin Warren."
"Stan Taylor, I haven't seen you since Grandma died." 
Visits with my cousins at Grandma's house in St. George were among my fondest childhood memories, but not because of Warren. I passed most of my time with Warren's sister, Elsie. After hundreds of attempts, I never could beat her at chess.
"How's that chess champion sister of yours?"
Warren shook his head. "Elsie's not with us anymore."
"She died?"
"She's down in Hildale/Colorado City," he whispered.
"She's a polygamist?" I cried.
The people around us turned and stared. Warren grabbed my arm, pulled me into the corner, and begged me to lower my voice. I looked around at the crowd of strangers.
"What's the matter, Warren, do you know any of these people?"
"I know that they're Real Mormons, not . . . what you just said."
"Real Mormons? What the devil does that mean?" 
 "Well, you know what bad press we've gotten, what with those weirdos down there in Colorado City, plus all the ex-Mormons and their bitter "anti" websites."
"One of those weirdos is your sister."
He handed me a business card. "I've started my own pro-Mormon website, you know, to educate."
I looked at the card, then at him, then back at the card. 
a place for common everyday Mormons 

The next morning I packed my suitcase and checked out of my motel. As a retired LDS Institute director, I was no longer required to attend all of BYU Education Week. Besides, I'd had my fill of Real Mormons. I loaded up the car and headed toward Hildale/Colorado City.

I drove down I-15 past a string of Mormon communities, their LDS chapels visible from the road. Nowadays the meetinghouses had shiny white steeples perched awkwardly atop their roofs, evidence of the Church's attempt to appear mainstream. Ironically, around the same time the LDS Church invested in these decorations, they cut the budget for the ward janitorial staffs. Typical of the Brethren. Use all the resources on the Church's outward appearance, and none on the people within its ranks. 
The population dwindled as I drove, and the landscape grew more barren. It felt quiet and comforting, like the corner of Grandma's house where Elsie and I played chess. Finally I came to my destination, the tiny hamlet at the foot of Mount Canaan.
Like Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead, it isn't even past." 

I stopped in The Merry Wives Cafe and ordered an uninspiring meal. The conversation buzzed around me. A man on my left quoted the Pearl of Great Price from memory. Behind me some FLDS brethren discussed the attributes of Abraham Lincoln's plural wives. A group of women claimed to love living the principle, then talked as though plural marriage was one long colonoscopy. Yet another group spoke wistfully of the approaching Armageddon.

When the waitress brought my food, I asked her about my cousin.
"You might be talking about Grandma Elsie," she replied. "Write down your name and I'll call her and see if she knows you."
The homes were partially constructed and poorly engineered
A half hour later I was on the road to my cousin's house for another game of chess. All the way a white Ford F-350 hugged my bumper. I found the address, parked, and walked back to my escort's truck. A hard-eyed man with a crew cut rolled down his window. I smiled at him.
"I'm here to visit my cousin Elsie."
His face softened. "You give her my best," he said, and drove off.
Elsie received me in her attic room at a table set with a chess board and two glasses of homemade lemonade. A Book of Mormon sat on a neighboring shelf. The same edition sat on the shelf in my home, as it did in the home of some ex-Mormons whose party I attended recently.

The game went as it always had. Elsie made her moves with swiftness and authority, then waited impatiently while I hemmed and hawed over mine.
"So Warren told you where I was," she said.
"Saw him last night."
"Oh yeah? Does he still have that mark on his face that looks like a penis?"
"'Fraid so. Tell me, Elsie, why did you leave the mainstream church?"
"I didn't leave it, it left me. What with all their changing to look like everyone else. Have you seen those infernal steeples they've slapped on their buildings?"
"Might as well be Baptists. Bet my brother Warren thinks it's all just dandy."
"He has a new website." I gave her the card.
"Common, everyday Mormons. HA! There's nothing common about me," she said, then slid her queen across the board. "Checkmate." 

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll send you the DVD version of Brother Maddox's recitation of The Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BYU Education Week Is Busy, Busy, Busy!

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Millie Loomis, self-appointed ward media and culture critic
Subject: A typical day at BYU Education Week

Earlier this month I returned to my beloved alma mater for Education Week. I was proud to find that BYU is still the intellectual mecca I remembered. In fact, the scholarly offerings were so plentiful, that I barely had time to eat, sleep or bathe. But then, if there's one thing I've learned after four years at  BYU, it's how to survive. I packed some deodorant, shot myself up with bee venom, and headed for class. This was the schedule of my first day:

8:30-9:25: Book of Mormon Marathon 
I arrived at the Jesse Knight Building to hear the recitation of Brother G. LaRay Maddox, PhD, who has committed the entire Book of Mormon to memory. I stayed for the first couple chapters of 1 Nephi. 

9:30-10:25: Ethnic Dance 
Sparky McKay and I cut a mean rug around a Mexican hat. He was surprisingly spry for his eighty years. 

10:30-11:25: Our Latter-day Heritage    
We discussed the secret meeting between George Washington and the Three Nephites, the celestial attributes of Abraham Lincoln's plural wives, and Elder Paul H. Dunn's role in the crafting of the Marshall Plan. 

11:30-12:25: Devotional Address 
Brother Elijah Hatch's talk was entitled, "Don't Go to Bed Without The Brethren: a guide for newlyweds of all ages."

12:30-1:25: How Living the Gospel Brings Us Joy 
Sister JayNeen Sorenson explained why cleaning the ward toilets makes her happy, how tithing settlement can be a hoot, and that guilt actually triggers the release of endorphins.

1:30-2:25: The Reality of Global Warming
According to Brother Parley Richards, PhD, the "inconvenient truth" is that the Millennium is nigh, the planet's destined to go up in smoke, and this whole "save the earth" business is a waste of time. We drank quart sized cream sodas out of non-recyclable containers, tossed the plastic out on the lawn, and gave each other high-fives. 

2:30-3:25: The Place for Humor in the Church
Brother Homer Dixon taught that out of respect for The Brethren, and in the spirit of obedience, we should avoid all humor, except for jokes about cutesy little kids, ditsy housewives, and silly people - like feminists, gays, and so-called intellectuals.

 3:30-4:25: Intimacy in Marriage
As always, Brother Antonio Firenze Smoot drew a large female crowd who, from the looks of their complexions, seemed to be suffering from a familiar menopausal symptom. Afterwards he signed copies of Tall and Tawny Studs, where he has made his cover debut.

4:30-5:25: Combating the Fiery Darts of Satan -- a guide to the Internet
In his signature no holds barred style, Brother Rock McConkie took us on a terrifying behind the scenes cyber-tour. I've now blocked everything from my computer that isn't sponsored by the LDS Church, Glenn Beck, or NuSkin.

5:30-6:55 Book of Mormon Marathon
Back at the Jesse Knight Building Brother Maddox was still going strong. But the audience had lapsed into varying states of catatonia. I nudged the person beside me to attention and sat through the end of 2 Nephi.

7:00-8:55 Brigham Young University presents: Annie Get Your Garments!
Feisty BYU coed, Annie Kimball, had no interest in dating guys, especially when she could lick them all over the Wilkinson Center ping-pong table. Then she met hunky Rulon Featherstone, a man so thick with pheromones he left hundreds of damp, limp sisters strewn along his path. He found Annie in the library and tried to flirt. She moved to another carrel. He stalked her to the MARB and begged for a date. She turned up her pert little nose. Finally, he proposed via the card section at LaVell Edwards Stadium. She refused to marry him. Then the bishop called her into his office and told her she had to.

9:00-10:55 Single Adult Dance
We bunny-hopped the night away.

11:00-11:55 Patriotic Rally
Popular Salt Lake talk show host, T. Golden Packer, delivered a fiery speech imploring us to gird our loins, rally behind the faith, and prepare ourselves for the impending Armageddon, so that we can rid society of the fanatical religious nut jobs who want to spoil our way of life.

I returned to the Jesse Knight building to find Brother Maddox beginning the book of Mosiah. I hopped on one foot to stay awake, then collapsed in the corner.

It was pedal to the medal for the rest of the week, and my body is still weak from the exhaustion. My testimony, however, is stronger than ever. How grateful I am to be a member of the one and only true church and a graduate of the Lord's university. 

Where else but BYU could I have learned all of this?

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, check this box.