Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sins and Sparkle Marks

So when you leave the Mormon church, it is commonly supposed that you will fall into error and sin. Here are a few of my very favorites so far:

The Right to Bare Arms

I love being able to wear tank tops and sleeveless dresses! Granted, my arms aren't as beautifully buff as Michelle Obama's, but I am proud of their strength and everything they allow me to do. I remember when I first learned about the anti-tank top guideline I was still a young girl, and it made me sad because I had a favorite pale pink tank top with an embroidered lace collar. I couldn't understand why it was suddenly wrong for me to wear it. I didn't feel like my sunburned, mole-dotted shoulders were blaring temptress powers. I wonder whatever happened to that poor, maligned princess-pink tank top? Now, I have banished summer sweat and my bare shoulders are free and cool once more.

Funnily enough, I remember finding a picture of my very LDS Grandma wearing a bikini, and she said that when she was a young woman, the church had not released any mandate against wearing them. But somewhere along the way, some man decided a stomach and later bare shoulders were a whole hunka-chunka skank, and the bans began. Today, men in church leadership positions are emboldened in dispensing their wisdom on modesty to the point where girls wearing tights with patterns and polka dots are oh so scandalous! As if paisley could turn female legs into magnets of seduction. I will never again give credence to anyone or any organization that turns my own anatomy against me.

This picture only shows the offending slice of me, because that's what these mandates do: take a piece of a person and turn it into a problem they are responsible to hide away and cover up.

Double-pierced ears

When the mandate first came out informing LDS girls they should not have more than one piercing, I felt very sorry for a cousin who had just gotten hers done a few weeks ago. She loved them, and inspired me to get my own double-piercing done soon, too. But of course I couldn't after the declaration came down to us, and my cousin was immediately required to take hers out.

I waited several months after leaving the church before I felt brave enough to get the indelible sparkle mark that made my "apostasy" plain for all to see. I am so glad I did it! My second piercing makes me feel more confident and pretty. I am certain that for some people, no piercings is the right answer for their own sense of personal beauty and expression. Or maybe just one, or maybe several more than two. But for me, two pairs of piercings is exactly how much I want to express myself. 

Starbucks, baby! 

Who can say no to a Starbucks Frappuccino? Not me. I actually wish I had started drinking coffee decades ago. I have persistent headaches and just one cup of coffee banishes them!

Next time, I'll tell you what I do on Sundays now . . . .


Monday, September 4, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Morals of Curiosity

When I first left the Mormon Church, every now and then I would get those pangs:

I am bad.

I shouldn't have left.

I just didn't have enough faith.

I was conditioned from childhood to view any serious questioning of my faith as a moral failure, and that realization maddens me now. I had a right to ask. A duty, even, to search for the truth. For what use are intellectual faculties if we deliberately shut them off?

But we are constantly admonished, or even pleaded with not to leave the fold no matter what nasty historical tidbit we uncover (or policy we disagree with): As Elder Uchtdorf, asks, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner [....]"

I love Elder Uchtdorf's talks, and usually find them wonderfully uplifting. But no amount of warm positive messages can change the cold hard facts: Joseph Smith was a self-deluded conman who preyed on girls and women with his lies, and deserves no reverence from me. Sometimes, allowing ourselves the right to doubt is the only way to set ourselves free from a lie. Questioning what we have been commanded to believe at all costs is the first step to mental and emotional liberation from our psychological shackles.

In a Patheos article entitled "Maybe belief is a matter of choice for some," Neil Carter asks " it morally right to shut down your own curiosity in order to preserve the social structures on which the life you have built for yourself depend? Is there not some self-deception involved in that? In those places where a person’s own knowledge is incomplete, it becomes harder to determine the level of personal accountability. But what if the limitations of that person’s knowledge and understanding are due his or her own decision NOT to follow questions or ideas to their logical conclusions? Is that really virtuous?"

Just yesterday I ran into a member from my old LDS ward, and while we cordially exchanged greetings, I could feel an undercurrent of discomfort. I can't blame her, because I was once her.  If someone drifted from the faith, something was definitely "off" about them. They weren't as trustworthy, or faithful, or maybe hiding a secret sin . . . .

Being a humanist (at least for me) is so much easier and more honest. I am who I am because I choose to be that person, not because I am subconsciously afraid of what will happen to my eternal salvation if I am not that person.