Friday, September 30, 2011

Super Special Standards Night For The Young Women

To: Abbottsville Stake
From: JayNell Tweedy, Abbottsville Stake Young Women's President
Subject: The best Standards Nights ever!

Last weekend the Young Women of the Abbottsville Stake were privileged to hear from the popular youth speaker, L. Franklin Higginbottom. As a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Higginbottom travels extensively on behalf of the Church, and has an uncanny knack for being seated next to celebrities on airplanes. Here is an excerpt from his remarks:

Once on a flight to Houston I happened to be seated next to a sickly looking man with a funny accent. 

"My name is L. Franklin Higginbottom," I said. "I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What's your name?"

"My name is Mick Jagger," he said.

Now, please understand I am in no way speaking evil of the man. I have all the respect in the world for Mick Jagger. It's just that I think his life, his work, and everything he stands for and believes is repulsive, disgusting, and totally of the devil. 

So naturally I was anxious to talk to him. As we proceeded in the discussion he probably had four or five alcoholic drinks. I finally asked, "Tell me Mick, with all due respect, why do you play such sleazy and revolting music?"

"L. Franklin," he said. - And this is a DIRECT QUOTE. - "Everything I play is calculated to drive the LDS Young Women to sex!"

So you see my young sisters? This is what the world is trying to do to you! Let me share another experience.

Once on a flight to Detroit I sat next to a scantily clad woman also with a funny accent.

"Hello," I said. "My name is L. Franklin Higginbottom. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What's your name?"

"My name is J.K. Rowling."

"Hello miss," I replied.

"I SAID my name is J.K. Rowling." She pointed to the book in her lap. 

"Oh my heck," I said. "I thought you were a man!"

"Well you were bloody well wrong then, weren't you?" she said.

I said a silent prayer for guidance, then I respectfully asked, "No offense, ma'am, but why do you write such sleazy, satanic, revolting books?"

"L. Franklin," she said. - Another DIRECT QUOTE. - "Everything I write is calculated to drive the LDS Young Women to sex!"

And try this one on for size:

Once on a Jet Blue flight into Pocatello I sat next to a woman who wore a plunging neckline that revealed a lizard tattoo on her left bosom.

"Hello," I said. "My name is L. Franklin Higginbottom. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What's you name?"

"My name is Hillary Clinton."

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to speak evil of the woman. I have nothing but respect for her personally. It's just that I think her life, her work, and everything she stands for belongs in the toilet.

"Tell me Hillary, why do you represent such vile and disgusting values?"

After four of five alcoholic drinks, she answered:

"L. Franklin," she said. - I swear this is verbatim. - "Everything I do is calculated to drive the LDS Young Women to sex!"

Allow me to share one more experience. On the rental car shuttle at the Cleveland airport I happened to sit next to a dark complected young man with a suspiciously pleasant expression.

"Hello," I said. "My name is L. Franklin Higginbottom. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What's your name?"

"My name is Barack Obama."

I said a silent prayer for guidance, then asked, "Barack, with all due respect, why do you say such vile, disgusting, obnoxious ..."

He raised a hand to silence me. "OK man, I think I know where you're going with this. The truth is, L. Franklin, everything I do is calculated to drive the LDS Young Women to sex!"

So there you go!

Elder Higginbottom concluded his remarks by warning the Young Women to stop listening to music, reading books, and watching the news. In their place he suggested they study the teachings of the man who genuinely admired LDS Young Women: The Prophet, Joseph Smith.

If you would like to stop receiving these emails, you've probably had four or five alcoholic drinks.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ward Gossip Enters Its Terrible Twos

To: The wonderful people who read my blog
From: Donna Banta
Subject: Ward Gossip turns two!

Two years ago I began publishing the e-mails from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward. Since then I have received 832 comments from readers. I have appreciated every one. Many of the comments have come from fellow bloggers in my excellent blogroll that I hope to expand in the coming year. Right now, I'd like to specifically boast about a few very talented bloggers to whom I am especially grateful:

My brilliant friend Jennifer who writes The Cognitive Dissenter and is my partner on White and Delightsome.
Ahab, who keeps a wary eye on the Religious Right at The Republic of Gilead.
Just Zena whose Random Fartings of a Gaseous Mind are actually a breath of fresh air.
Nance who takes time out from her musings on religion and politics at Mature Landscaping to read my juvenile blog.
Paul Sunstone who I wish would get back to posting on Cafe Philos.
Ditto to InsanaD at Kori-whore's Double D's.
Diane Tingen who casts a spotlight on Mormonism at Mormon Schism.
C.L. Hanson who writes Letters from a broad, and has linked Ward Gossip to her Sunday Outer Blogness column on MSP more times than I probably deserve. (I finally ordered her book ExMormon from Amazon and it arrived today!!)
Chino Blanco from MSP and LdC and Carla at Life as a Reader, who both nominated me for Brodie awards. A huge compliment, since I am big fans of them both.

The other deserving bloggers whom I accidentally left off the above list. Please reprimand me in the comment field!

Also in honor of this anniversary and as a tribute to how I've dwindled my free time for yet another year, I bring you the year in review:

I'm so confused!
We began in October when Boyd K. Packer's homophobic and borderline insane ramblings during the LDS General Conference provided me with the material for a post that ended up winning the prestigious Brodie Award. I can't thank him enough, or to paraphrase Trey Parker, "You did it Boyd, you got the Brodie!"

In November we met Elder Young for the first time!!!:))))

I also eulogized the great Leslie Nielson with a take on how Lt. Drebin's temple endowment session may have gone:

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.

In December President Knightly announced the reinstatement of the Stake Single Adult Program!**
**Pending the completion of the following requirements:

  • Obtain a temple recommend or complete the Official Worthiness Questionnaire
  • Fulfill your usual assignment at the Stake Family Christmas Party. That is, set up, serve dinner, man the nursery, and clean up afterwards.
  • Attend tithing settlement. (Remember to bring your tax return!)
  • Resolve to be married by the end of 2011.

highlight was the release of another inspiring "And I'm a Mormon" ad featuring Julia who proudly boasted:

I'm a toy coordinator, a librarian, a craftswoman, a gourmet chef, a mentor, and a toilet scrubber.
My name is Julia Vincent.
And I work at Walmart.   
And I'm a Mormon.

Then February rolled around and we met Brother Bull Barton, the Ward Preparedness Specialist, who raised the Ward Threat Level to Orange and urged the members to have the following on hand:

Hazmat suits -- 2 per family member
Hand guns -- 2 per family member
Ammunition -- you can never have enough
Duct tape -- 4 rolls per family member
Consecrated oil -- 1 gallon per family member
Scriptures, The Ensign, dominoes, Yahtzee, Twister, and other amusements to help pass time in the bunker.

In March, an alarming incident occurred inside the Abbottsville temple when Brother Wilbur Simmons accidentally hit the fast forward button on the temple video and spun the room into chaos.

Only the best of feelings should exist
within the prayer circle.
"The prayer circle got nasty," said Sister Lee Ann Hargen of the Abbottsville First Ward. "There was a lot of rough and tumble Patriarchal Gripping. Also, some obscene gesturing with the Sign of the Nail."

Also, I paid tribute to my wonderful husband on his birthday, with a retrospective on his life before and after he left the LDS Church.

Then in April I discovered that The Book of Mormon is true! That is, when I finally got to see the real thing on Broadway -- thanks to our amazing friend, Olivia, who got us tickets, and David, who got us reservations at some of Manhattan's finest eateries!

In May I reviewed the film version of God's other favorite musical, Saturday's Warrior. Here is an excerpt:

"He's Just a Friend/Dear John," (is) a peppy number that alternates between a G-Rated bump and grind featuring Julie and her sisters, and a chorus line of male missionaries who perform an awkward routine that makes them look like dogs relieving themselves along a row of hydrants. (Forget the feminists and gays, the ones the Brethren should really go after are the choreographers.)

In front of Jane Austen's
brother's house in Chelsea

At the beginning of June the Abbottsville Fourth Ward's email temporarily went into spam while I visited Emily in London. 

Later that month, I again eulogized another great actor, Peter Falk. This time, I imagined how Columbo might have investigated a murder involving the LDS Church Authorities:

Columbo: Say President (Monson), you don't happen to have a light, do you?
President: We don't smoke, Lieutenant.
Columbo: Oh I'm sorry, sir, I had no idea. How rude of me. . . . Now, my wife, she would've known that, see, because she has some nice Mormon friends in Vegas. She meets up with them whenever she goes there to gamble.

July turned out to be a very busy month because Jennifer (The Cognitive Dissenter) and I debuted our new blog, White and Delightsome.
Also, President Knightly listed several reasons why people just can't leave the Mormons alone. Among them:

They're bored.
When's the last time you met a non-member who actually had a life? While we're going to church, doing our home teaching and visiting teaching, cleaning the ward toilets, and otherwise standing for righteousness, they're spending their time watching porn and chugging malt liquor.When the liquor finally runs out, they've no other option than to pick on the poor defenseless Mormons who've never done a thing to them.

Finally, in August, Mark Crawford gave his martini-infused take on The Fourteen Fundamentals for Following the Prophet. For example:

1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything. -- The prophet speaks for everyone, including God.

2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works. -- If you listen to the prophet you shouldn't read the Bible, or anything else for that matter.

3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet. -- With the exception of the dead prophet who compiled this list.

4. The prophet will never lead the church astray. -- Four martinis a piece, and we still couldn't come up with a way to improve on that one.

And here we are in September 2011 -- two years and 116 posts since Ward Gossip began -- and the Abbottsville Fourth still hasn't taken me off of its email list. Tell me, dear readers, is there a particular ward member you would like to hear more from? Or a topic you might like to explore? While I don't pretend to have any clout with my former priesthood leaders, I could send them a suggestion or two. -- Anything for my wonderful readers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11 Versus The Sluts At BYU-Idaho

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: The wisdom of Brother and Sister Bednar

My dear friends in the Abbottsville Fourth Ward,

As we have just observed the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, I thought it appropriate to remember how some "inspired leaders" at BYU-Idaho cared for their flock in the wake of this terrible event.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, students at BYU-I in Rexburg, Idaho, awoke to the news that terrorists had hijacked and flown planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, and into the Pentagon in Washington DC. Soon after that they learned that a fourth hijacked plane had crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA. Like most college-aged Americans, they reacted with a combination of shock, confusion, and grief. For many, this was their first experience living away from home. Fortunately, because it was Tuesday, their weekly religious devotional was on the schedule. Also, because it was the beginning of the school year, the speaker was to be the president of BYU-I, David Bednar. Students flocked to the meeting seeking comfort and guidance. Here's what they received:

President Bednar began with the following statement from the First Presidency:

In this hour of sorrow, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses profound sympathy to those whose loved ones, friends, and associates were lost or injured in today's senseless acts of violence. We offer our prayers in behalf of the innocent victims of these vicious attacks. We ask our Heavenly Father to guide President Bush and his advisors as they respond to these devastating incidents.

Bednar then announced that as of 12 PM MST all the missionaries in New York City and Washington DC had been accounted for, and that the Elders on grounded flights were also in safe hands. Having put everyone's mind to rest, he declared that class would go on as planned. After that, he and his wife, Susan, each presented a talk.

Sister Bednar's speech was a warm and fuzzy reminiscence about her Grandma's house that she hoped would ease the trauma the students faced during the difficult transition that was taking place as the school changed from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho.

President Bednar spoke on how to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He illustrated his points with a series of experiences that had occurred during the difficult transition that was taking place as the school changed from Ricks College to BYU-Idaho.

After that the students were excused to class with the admonition to go about their day as usual.

I have to admit, the Bednars were in a tough spot. BYU Devotionals are probably vetted by the Church Correlation Committee. And there was hardly time for that. Especially since the Mormon Prophet, Seer, and Revelator somehow missed the Holy Ghost's promptings about the impending terror attack that would forever alter our society. (Probably because he was traumatized by the difficult transition that was taking place as Ricks College changed to BYU-Idaho.)

As the week progressed, the students saw images of injured and grief-stricken people searching lower Manhattan for their lost loved ones. They heard stories of incredible heroism and tragedy. They worried about their country's future, their own safety, and the safety of their family and friends in New York and Washington. They prayed and hoped for the best, and on Sunday, September 16, 2001, eagerly attended a BYU-Idaho Six-Stake Fireside.

The speaker was Sister Susan Bednar.

Sister Bednar began by admitting that as the mother of three sons, she had always secretly wished she had a daughter. Now as the wife of the president of BYU-I she felt thrilled to be the "mother" of thousands of daughters. She went on to claim that she had "sought inspiration for several months about the subject of tonight's fireside."

Here are some excerpts from the "inspired" talk she delivered. I've taken the liberty to add my own commentary.

Let me tell you of an embarrassing experience I had when I was your age and a student at Brigham Young University. I was wearing a tight turtle neck similar to most of the turtle necks and tight shirts I see you young women wearing. I'd gone into the 7-Eleven store to buy something to eat when I heard two sleazy boys make some extremely vulgar comments about me. The way we dress does send a message, and I sent a message I didn't intend to boys I didn't have any desire to date, much less associate with. I felt violated by their comments; I felt dirty and cheap. Inside I just wanted to say, "I'm not that kind of a girl." But the top I was wearing didn't reflect that. 

I admit, this happened to me too. I attended BYU not too many years after she did. I went to the 7-Eleven in shorts and a tank top and was ogled by a couple of guys I certainly did not want to date. That was because they were about 12 years old. The only reason "sleazy boys" hung out at that 7-Eleven was because they were locals who were too young to drive. In my experience, randy young men looking for a "good time" didn't stalk the perimeter of BYU on the slim hope of seeing a woman in a sweater that actually showed her shape. (Just my experience.)

Our family was sitting in the grandstands at the baseball field when a group of men who had been drinking came and sat in front of us. Not long after these men sat down, two pretty young girls with cute figures wearing tight tops and short shorts walked in front of the grandstands not far from where these men were sitting. I listened to these vulgar men verbally and visually undress these young women in their minds as these girls walked by. It was disgusting. These girls would have been so embarrassed if they had heard the way these men discussed their anatomy. Shortly after this incident, our family got up and left the game. 

. . . you (BYU-I coeds) need to know that when you leave the protected environment of this special place, you are asking for trouble if you don't dress modestly. You will "become the victim of those who pursue you, as the hare is of the hound" if you don't take a stand on modesty. 

--I have a problem with this story on several levels:

  1. As a feminist. I am disgusted that she would blame the women for the men's bad behavior.
  2. As a responsible citizen. If Sister Bednar and her family truly assumed that immodestly dressed women will become "the victims of those who pursue them," then her husband and three grown sons witnessed what was about to be sexual harassment (or worse) of some innocent women, and in response -- gentlemen that they are -- got up and left.
  3. As a writer.  I listened to these vulgar men verbally and visually undress these young women in their minds. OK, I know I'm being picky, but nobody can "listen" to a man "visually undress a young woman in his mind." That is, unless Sister Bednar was imagining a voice-over in a film. (Come to think of it, the scene she described could easily fit into the plot line of a Naked Gun movie.) 
  4. As an intelligent person. I don't believe any of this. Not a bleeding word. As far as I'm concerned this is just like one of Paul Dunn's stories. Only in Dunn's version, he would have first caught the game-winning ball, gallantly returned it to Derek Jeter, and knelt with him in prayer. Then he would have gone back into the stands and counseled the vulgar men in a manner so spiritual and humbling they'd end up begging Dunn to "tell the young women of America to stop showing off their cleavage." 

When I am choosing my wardrobe, this is what I try to do; maybe these guidelines can help you. I stand in front of a mirror and carefully scrutinize what I am wearing. I sit down in front of the mirror. I cross my legs in front of the mirror. I bend over; I lift my arms in front of the mirror. And you have the added luxury of asking your roommates what they can see if you choose to try this suggestion.

--I can only assume that Sister Bednar refers to the co-eds' "added luxury" of having roommates because she would never dream of performing this wildly erotic dance in front of her husband. (Lest he glimpse the hem of her temple garment and pass out from fright.)

Let me share a story of romance that I believe relates to modesty. I know of a returned missionary who was dating a special young woman. This young man cared for the young woman very much and was thinking about making his relationship with her a bit more serious; in the back of his mind he was thinking about marriage. It was during this time that President Hinckley counseled the Relief Society sisters by reading a statement from the First Presidency asking the women of the Church to wear only one earring in each ear. This young man waited patiently for several weeks for the young woman to remove her extra earrings, but she didn't take them out. Her message of noncompliance to a prophet's pleading was a valuable piece of information for this young man. He finally stopped dating the young woman because he was looking for a girl who had the courage to follow the prophet.

--If you would like my opinion of this excerpt, click here.

I talked with a father who is serving as a priesthood leader on campus. Recently when he went to pick up his daughter at her apartment complex, he was disappointed to find two girls with navel rings sunbathing in their bikinis. Young women, what kind of a message are we trying to send?

What harlots! To think they had the temerity to sunbathe by the pool at their own residence. Thank goodness for "inspired" priesthood leaders who investigate these matters. Because, god only knows what they must wear in their bathtubs ...

Ten years later, and I still have no idea why the President of BYU-I and his wife decided that in the days after 9/11 the best course of action was to gloss over the tragedy, send everyone back to class, and call out half of the student body for acting like sluts. But then what do I know? I'm just an uninspired ex-Mormon woman. On the other hand, President Bednar is now a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. -- No doubt thanks to his ability to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

For some historical perspective on this speech in honor of its 10 year anniversary, check out Jennifer's post on her insightful and brilliantly written blog, The Cognitive Dissenter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Another NorCal Ex-Mormon Testimony Meeting

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: We would again be remiss if  . . .

My dear friends from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward,

Just because we're ex-Mormons doesn't mean we don't have testimonies. After all, it takes a village/ward to raise an ex-Mormon. In that spirit, we gather every first Sunday to express our gratitude to the people and circumstances that helped us see the light. 

This month our thanks went out to:

  1. The San Francisco Ferry Building and its myriad venues for breaking the fast, the Sabbath, and the Word of Wisdom.
  2. The historical problem that Mormon leaders have keeping their stories straight -- from Joseph Smith and his multiple versions of the First Vision, to Paul Dunn and his slew of bogus faith-promoting stories.
  3.  The historical problem we had keeping our own stories straight. -- Or, how thankful we are that we no longer have to find ways to say we "know the church is true" without really saying it. It used to be: "I know... that god lives." or "I have a strong ... testimony of ... the gospel." Now it's just: "It's a load of crap." 
  4. Well-meaning TBM moms. Like the one who can't stop sending her son pro-Mormon emails that argue against his point of view. Or another who likes to slip in an invitation to church just as her son and DIL are hurrying out the door. (Hoping that in the rush of the moment they'll accept.)
  5. The nincompoops at BYU who brought a world class Rodin exhibit to the campus, then hid most of the sculpture in the basement.
  6. The nincompoops in the COB who decided to "glam up" the sister missionaries by finally letting them "wear colors" and go without pantyhose. (Now that pantyhose are coming back into style.)
  7. # 10 cans of freeze dried potato flakes.
  8. The bargains at the bar ware sale at Sur la Table that helped keep the children amused during the meeting.
Way more educational than the "Testimony Glove!"
In addition to extolling the joys of not living the gospel, we also addressed the following weighty points of doctrine:

How will rank and file church members react if the Prophet decides to reverse the church's stand on gay marriage? Will they be angry that God has once again changed his mind? Or will they be relieved that they can finally be on the right side of the issue?
--We decided it would probably be a toss-up between the two.

Who's the bigger asshole? Packer or Bednar?
--Another toss-up.

But, after extended discussion, we were inconclusive on the question of how, if the two were separated, the left and right brain would respond individually when asked, "Do you believe in God?"
--No, we were not stoned.

We closed with a discussion of these upcoming events:

A boozy and/or highly caffeinated General Conference pot luck.

A litany of ex-Mormon holiday pot lucks.

A freeze-dried food pot luck.

A clandestine infiltration of the church vault that will require each of us to drop inside on a wire whilst deftly dodging the errant motion sensors. More details to come.

If we have offended any of you -- or have forgotten to thank someone, kindly share your testimony in the comment field. Also any spy ware and technical expertise will be appreciated.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guidelines For The Future LDS Father-In-Law

To: Abbottsville Stake
From: Mitchell Knightly, President of the Abbottsville Stake
Subject: Advice to future fathers-in-law

One of the most important and special moments in a father's life is when he sits down with his future son-in-law for a heart to heart about that little girl they both love. Recently a prestigious on-line magazine addressed this topic with a list of discussion points and red flags for today's concerned patriarch. I have copied their author's list below along with some additions of my own, based on my years of conducting intimate and lengthy one on one interviews with literally hundreds of young men. Trust me Brethren, they're all the same -- as are we.


Begin with a prayer to Heavenly Father that He might bless you with the understanding and tact necessary for such a delicate conversation, then launch into the following Discussion Points:
  • How do you intend to support my daughter?
  • Did you choose that career because it will allow you free access to porn?
  • What does your father do?
  • What kind of kinky stuff is he into?
  • Is your mother a stay at home mom?
  • Ever catch her reading dirty stories while the kids are napping?
  • What about your siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins -- any of them like nookie?
  • Do you attend church regularly?
  • How much time do you spend in the ward men's room?
  • Did you serve a full time mission?
  • Ever fantasize about your mission companions naked?
  • How do you define porn?
  • And were you thinking about my daughter when you answered that question?
  • How have you recovered from your porn addiction?
  • Who helped you recover?
  • How do you manage to control yourself now?
As the conversation progresses, keep an eye out for these Red Flags:
  • He admits that he used to look at porn, has stopped doing it, but fails to explain how.
  • He claims he overcame the problem all by himself.
  • He's never admitted to anyone that he has a problem with porn.
  • He's wearing a blue tie.
  • He's vague about how he avoids porn.
  • He acts defensive and is insulted by your questions.
  • He acts overly sincere and emphatic.
  • He keeps looking at his watch.
  • He's not wearing a watch.
  • He appears "too perfect" as if he really isn't a pervert.
  • He's staring at you like you're nuts.
At the close of this session, offer a prayer to Heavenly Father that your future son-in-law might repent so that he may eventually be worthy to be part of your eternal family. Then schedule a follow-up interview.

    If would like to stop receiving these emails we can't help but wonder what kind of kinky stuff you're into.