A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to attend an LDS Fast and Testimony Meeting. While painful and time consuming, these occasional visits always provide me with some sort of epiphany. This particular meeting was no exception. After several of the usual suspects rose to bear their testimonies, a woman around my age took the stand and with a mopey face tearfully proclaimed, "People who leave the church aren't happy." Then came my epiphany:
It's a strategy that's worked pretty well for them. All they have to do is point to the miserable ex-Mormons like me.
As I sit here at my desk, drinking coffee in my street clothes and department store underwear, I am the embodiment of a miserable sinner.
You see, "sin" has a somewhat broader definition for Mormons than it has for most people--it starts with drinking coffee and wearing department store underwear, and then moves up to more grievous transgressions, such as eating out on Sunday, wearing a tank top, enjoying a healthy sexual relationship, laughing really hard, drinking a coke, playing gin rummy, and having too much fun. Fun is the operative word here. Because if a person is enjoying herself, she is most likely being sinful.
Fun is very scary. It can make you miserable.
Over the past few years, I've been doing something I consider to be great fun--speaking my mind via blogging and writing novels. Researching a novel can lead to all kinds of "sin." For example, when my friend Cheryl and I went to the porn shop. An ex-Mormon and retired first grade teacher, Cheryl, like me, is no stranger to "sin." That said, neither of us ever thought we'd cross the threshold of an adult superstore. After all, in Sunday School our teachers told us that people who left the church ended up as drunken degenerates who wallowed in porn.
Turns out our teachers were right. For the better part of an hour Cheryl and I wallowed in porn. After that we had a few beers.
While I admit I was shocked by some things, and a little grossed out by others, I found a lot of the merchandise to be useful products for people enjoying a healthy sexual relationship. (And we know what to think of that!) All in all, it was a very fun experience, so much fun that I made Cheryl a porn shop co-owner in my new book, False Prophet.
Here's the (obligatory) excerpt from when Lt. Ryan and Sgt. Romano visit her shop:
Suffice to say, I am obviously very miserable. Look at all the fun I'm having.