Friday, September 18, 2015

Why Ex-Mormons Won't Leave the Church Alone, Part 2

Continuing from last time, the second half of WHY DON'T YOU GET IT?

Reason #2: Because being Mormon was an integral part of our life experience.

Five years ago I dedicated a post to my husband, Mark. It was a brief bio that outlined his happy Mormon childhood, his fond mission memories, our courtship at BYU, etc. Then I went on to quickly explain why we eventually decided to leave Mormonism.

Minutes after the post published, I received a personal message from an old friend who scolded me for being negative about the church, called me a liar, and suggested that "people like me" should "just leave" and never talk about the church again.

Excuse me? Never talk about this overwhelming experience that dominated our formative years and consumed over two decades of our lives? Forget "why?" - How, exactly, does one do that?

Thanks to a a generous reader, I have an even better example, and with illustrations! (Thanks again, Gentle Reader/You Know Who You Are!)

Every American kid who came of age during the 60's and 70's can recall the generational divide over hairstyles, dress, and especially music.

Only, while the "nonmember" kids' parents were hollering at them to "turn off that racket and get a haircut," teenagers in the one and only true church were dragged off to LDS firesides to listen to Lynn Bryson and other self-serving zealots who managed to convince many of them that rock music was devil worship, John Lennon was a wizard, and that the Eagles were practicing human sacrifice!

Understandably terrified, some LDS teens were actually persuaded to turn off some of the best music of the century and listen instead to:
LDS pop-singer Mac Reynolds, aka "The Singing Farmer"

or

The Mormon alternative to Sly and the Family Stone

or . . . drumroll . . . TA DAH!

The most annoying song ever recorded just became even more annoying.

In response to my recent post about Mormons and '70's rock, a reader wrote:
"I grew up in a small, isolated town in Utah. After the fireside in my stake, I had friends whose parents would only let them listen to compilation tapes of music Lynn Bryson sold to them. When you have a snake oil salesman like that come into town, it just spreads paranoia and fear that can literally last for decades."
Paranoia and fear that lasts literally for decades? ... Feelings? ... The god-d***ed Singing Farmer? Again, forget "why?" - How does one leave that alone?

Listen, Mormons, I'm sorry that you don't like hearing about our less than perfect experiences, but we can't stop talking about them. We couldn't even if we wanted to.

Consider this, my believing friends. Say a successful professional man grew up in a big Mormon family in an all Mormon town in Utah. He's since moved to California and left Mormonism behind. Nevertheless, every once in a while a nosey nonmember asks him, "Where are you from?" Now how would you have him answer?

  • Should he be vague? "Um . . . the mountains."
  • Or paranoid? "Who wants to know?"
  • Should he fake amnesia? "I've forgotten everything that's happened to me before I walked into this bar just now."
  • Should he lie? "I'm from France."
  • Or ... should he own up to it and toe the party line? "I grew up Mormon in Provo, Utah, but I left the church because I was offended. Also because I wanted to hang out in seedy bars with low-lifes like you." 

I'm going to sign off now, and start banging my head on my desk.

13 comments:

  1. I never thought of you and Mark as Prymaat and Beldar, but I can understand the analogy. As a toast to you I will attempt to drink mass quantities. Is Remulak a code word for Utah?

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    1. Well, we sort of look the part. Also we have been to France.

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  2. They ... made ... young ... people ... listen ... to ... THAT? It's an outrage!

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    1. Agreed. It might actually qualify as abuse.

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  3. Oh wow. This post makes me so glad I wasn't raised LDS in the 70s.

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  4. Thanks for the LDS flashbacks. Now I feel dirty.

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  5. When I'm out of state, and want to avoid the Mormon discussion, I just do like Mormon Heavenly Father and say I live "near" a place, Evanston, Wyoming. A 90 minute drive from there would count as "near" wouldn't it? I actually live on the Wasatch Front, a horrible place to live if you want to avoid talking about Mormonism.

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    1. Ha! And hence your screen name. For years I avoided telling people I graduated from BYU, even if it meant leaving them to think I hadn't gone to college.

      Now I blog about it. Is that progress? I'm not sure.

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  6. Thanks for the feedback knotty, AT and Heather. Sorry if the memories were a tad traumatic!

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  7. I not only grew up in Salt Lake but live here now. Salt Lake is certainly not all Mormon but when people ask where I live the "Mormon question" almost always comes up. I work out of state with rotating colleagues and customers so it comes up a lot. If it's someone I'll never see again, I just say "no" when asked if I'm Mormon. That's true--I'm no longer Mormon--but if the person is someone I'm likely to see again, I've learned it's best to give a more complete answer, "I used to be." Which usually leads to more questions. So, if I answer those questions I guess I can't "leave it alone."

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    1. Though, to be fair to those accusing us of not being able to leave it alone, there are times when I don't. But as you say Donna, how do I forget something that was the most important non-parental influence during my growing up years? As a young adult I loved Mormonism more than life. How do I not remember the betrayal I felt then? How do I ignore a powerful organization and culture that won't leave me alone? As a gay man, I feel attacked on an almost daily basis.

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    2. Hi Jeff! Thanks for weighing in.

      It's funny that the Mormons who've knocked themselves out to keep people in the faith are offended when we don't "just leave." The truth is, we wish we could, but it's just not possible. And also, as you say (as did I in my previous post), they won't leave us alone.

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