Wednesday, June 5, 2013
We must support one another in the arts! Here is my take on a new book by my fellow ex-Mormon, Micah McAllister. (This review was originally published here on Main Street Plaza.)
Since I began writing about my former life within Mormonism, countless true believers have asked me:
So Donna, if the LDS Church is “false,” why are there so many websites, blogs, bulletin boards, and groups out there to help people who leave the Church? After all, Satan doesn’t need those tools for people who quit other (presumably untrue) religions.
Now, thanks to Micah McAllister, the true believers may cite yet another implement in Satan’s toolbox: a guidebook to leaving the LDS Church.
Exit Strategy: A Guide to Leaving Mormonism with your Dignity and Integrity Intact, is a handy and efficient volume that addresses all of the questions surrounding the experience, including the one posed above.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about this concise and highly readable work is that McAllister, who is the founder of Life After Mormonism, does not devote any time to disputing the claims of Joseph Smith, niggling over problems with the LDS Church’s official version of its history, or otherwise proving that the church is “false.” In fact, he doesn’t even describe his own exit process, other than to say that he grew up in a large, believing Mormon family and then left the faith at the age of 29.
Instead, he begins with the premise that his reader has already made the decision to leave, and he respects the reasons behind that decision, whatever they may be. Once established, that spirit of mutual respect between McAllister and his reader expands to include respect for the believer as well. Because, after all, that’s the point. Everybody has a right to his or her own beliefs.
From there, McAllister goes on to cover every aspect of the unique ordeal of escaping both Mormonism and its mindset. He discusses practical how-to’s like composing a resignation letter, requesting “no contact” from the bishop, buying new underwear, brewing coffee, and ordering that first cocktail. He offers helpful advice on navigating the inevitably dicey social situations; such as, breaking the news to family, establishing boundaries, and finding a new community. Perhaps most importantly, he deals with the emotional challenges a new ex-Mormon may face. For example, losing the left-over guilt, learning to communicate assertively, and above all, learning to love one’s self.
All of his points are conveyed in lucid writing that is consistently friendly and, at times, humorous, making Exit Strategies an enjoyable read for a single sitting, and the antithesis to a session of General Conference. I would recommend it to anyone who has left Mormonism, has family or friends who have left Mormonism, or is merely curious about the experience.