One weird thing about being an #exmormon is when I wake up with a random hymn earworm. “Do what is right / The day-dawn is breaking…”

Book Of Mormon Stories

I used to write about my deconversion from Mormonism a lot more than I do now — I guess I don’t really think about it much anymore. But something that Bill Shunn tweeted earlier this week caught my attention and triggered a memory from years ago, in the days when my deconversion was still fresh and new.

I spent quite a while online this evening, searching for the particular video clip from the Animated Stories of the Book of Mormon™ that I blogged about back in July of 2004, but it doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere.

Still, even without the accompanying video clip to illustrate, I wanted to repost this excerpt from the recesses of my blog:

– – – – – – – – – –

A couple years ago, I actually picked up Volume I of the Book of Mormon Stories VHS set at Goodwill. I made Aaron watch it, too—actually, he was kind of curious. And he was flabbergasted when the climax of the story came about, too. To capitulate: Nephi and his dad and brothers are about to split Jerusalem, but they have to get the record of their family (inscribed on a set of brass plates) from this evil dude named Laban, who owns them. So, Nephi is scared shitless, but he knows he has to come up with something. And, lucky Nephi—when he walks up to Laban’s house, guess who is shitfaced drunk? Yup. Now, in the words of 1 Nephi, Chapter 4:

10. And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.

11. And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.

18. Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.

At which point Aaron says, “What?!” Having assumed, of course, that it was only a test, and that God wouldn’t ask Nephi to kill the drunk dude, then put on his clothes and pretend to be him to get the brass plates from his servant. Heh.

Conformity

Once again, I find myself with some time on my hands here at work. I actually have a cache of blog topics to choose from, for just such an occasion.

When I was a young church-going lass, there was a boy who was several years older than me. The oldest of the Headrick kids — I forget his name. Mom would know, since I think she taught him in Sunday School. At any rate, he was a “normal” kid: kind of soft-spoken, as I recall, and particularly tall. He had one thing besides his height that set him apart, though, and that was his predilection for bow ties. Mormon men and boys, as a general rule, wear standard neckties to church, so his bow ties made him stand out.

When he turned 18, he was called to be a missionary, as all good Mormon boys should be. He was sent out to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Utah… and the next time we saw him, he was wearing a normal necktie. Apparently, missionaries are required to wear neckties, and his cache of bowties were forbidden during his mission. I don’t know whether he ever wore his bow ties again, after he returned from his mission two years later.

I always thought that was just a little tragic. I understand the need for uniformity, but I’ve always wondered if the MTC managed to completely eradicate that one facet of Elder Headrick’s uniqueness.

I can’t believe I’ve never posted this poem before. I searched my site for it, though, and apparently I never have. My mother taught me this poem when I was little, and I’ve seen slight variations of the poem and its backstory in the years since. I believe Mom found it in a newspaper article and copied it down back in the mid to late 70s. This is how I remember it (with some help from the internet):

This poem was given to an English teacher by a 16-year-old student. It is not known whether he wrote the poem. It is known that he committed suicide two weeks later.

He always wanted to explain things.
But no one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone
Or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass
And look up at the sky
And it would be only him and the sky
And the things inside him that needed saying.
It was after that
He drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under his pillow
And would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every night
And think about it.
And when it was dark
And his eyes were closed
He could still see it.
And it was all of him,
And he loved it.
When he started school he brought it with him —
Not to show anyone, but just to have it with him
Like a friend.

It was funny about school:
He sat in a square brown desk
Like all the other square brown desks
And he thought it should be red.
And his room was a square brown room
Like all the other rooms
And it was tight and close
And stiff.
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk
With his arms stiff and his feet flat on the floor
Stiff
With the teacher watching
And watching.
The teacher came and smiled at him.
She told him to wear a tie
Like all the other boys.
He said he didn’t like them.
And she said it didn’t matter!
After that they drew.
And he drew all yellow
And it was the way he felt about morning
And it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at him.
“What’s this?” she said.
“Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?”
“Isn’t that beautiful?”

After that his mother bought him a tie
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships
Like everyone else
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay out alone and looked out at the sky
It was big and blue and all of everything.
But he wasn’t anymore.
He was square inside and brown.
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone else.
And the things inside him that needed saying
Didn’t need it anymore.
It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.
Stiff.
Like everything else.

Cleaning Out Keepsakes #2

I was looking for this handkerchief over three years ago, when I was preparing for my wedding. I only just unearthed it yesterday:

I received this at an activity with the Young Women’s group at my church when I was in early high school. It reads:

The purity of this white hankie
  is symbolic of your life.
Live, to always be worthy
  of being an eternal wife.
May its whiteness be a reminder
  to please stay clean and pure.
As the linen – May you be strong
  with a testimony sure.

As the lace – May all your life be
  filled with feminine grace
May the inner beauty of your
  soul glow in your eyes and face.
Someday, I pray, you’ll be married
  to a clean and worthy he.
May it be in the house of the Lord
  for time and eternity.
Carry this hankerchief with you
  on that special, wondrous day,
As a symbol of the girl you are
  and will forever stay.

I was genuinely disappointed when I couldn’t find this to carry with me on my wedding day. Not because I’d remained particularly clean and pure (especially by Mormon standards), and not because I was getting married in the house of the Lord, but mainly because I was so proud of myself for having held onto it for more than ten years for that particular purpose.

A lot of the buzz words will be lost on non-Mormons. If you’re wondering what the hell it’s talking about, just leave a comment and I’ll be happy to add an explanation to my post. For now, I’m going to go on the assumption that you’ve read enough of my previous Mormon ramblings to understand most of the stuff about eternity and purity and all that.

I still can’t bring myself to get rid of this hankie. Am I a packrat, or what?

Share Your Opinions

So, here’s how this random web of internetting came about: I read this post on Dooce’s site in which she wrote about her take on a recent HBO series called Big Love. Apparently, this series is about a polygamist family in Utah. Being that Dooce is a popular “recovering Mormon,” she ended up having nearly 300 comments — one of which, of course, was mine:

Diana Schnuth said at 09:09PM, 03.28.2006:

Back when I was a practicing Mormon, there was a woman in my Ward who had been widowed shortly after she was married, then had re-married and had several children. What bothered me was that she was still sealed to her first husband, and no amount of thrashing at red tape could get the Church to change that and seal her to her new husband and her family. Only men can be sealed to multiple spouses.

BTW, kudos to you for keeping comments open on such a potentially volatile topic.

I got a few hits to my blog from that comment, as I always do when I post a comment on a high-traffic blog like Dooce or WWDN, but none of them involved hate mail (thankfully) or exhortations to rejoin the LDS flock (even more thankfully).

I did receive one e-mail, though. A Dr. Michael Nielsen contacted me and asked me to participate in his study on religion and attitudes about marriage — specifically, Mormonism and polygamy. It took me less than the 30 minutes he had estimated in the Informed Consent form, and I actually found it very interesting.

Well, it was interesting to me, anyway. I enjoyed answering questions about my history with the Mormon church, and how I feel that the teachings are mainly a bunch of bunk, but that I do categorize Mormons as Christians, and that one of my most frequently-visited religion-based websites is exmormon.org.

When I e-mailed Dr. Nielsen to ask him to update me on the findings of his study, he e-mailed me back (or maybe his bot did) and encouraged me to get other people of differing religious backgrounds to take his survey. So, here I am, encouraging you all to take his survey. I found it intriguing, and will be very interested to learn the results and conclusions.

Update, 9pm: Just found this website, which I may have to refer back to later: Mormon No More. It gives instructions as to how to resign from the Mormon church. Well, Mom, I guess you really didn’t have to get yourself excommunicated, after all! 🙂

I wonder if I can get myself removed from the rolls by my 30th birthday. That would be a grand present to myself.

Great-great-great Grandpa Cook

I finally found some microfilm I want to request from my local Family History Center.

I’ve had a really hard time locating the parents of my Grandpa Cook’s grandfather, William Henry Cook. I almost thought I had them several years back — Thomas and Rachel — but when I got William Henry’s birth record in the mail, there was this woman named Nancy listed where I expected Rachel to be.

All other evidence points toward Rachel being William’s mother: census records, for one, and other genealogists’ (undocumented) findings referenced online. Now, I’ve discovered that Thomas and Rachel were married on 3 March 1852 in Clermont County, Ohio, where all this research insanity is going on. I’ve also discovered that the Mormons have the microfilm. Clermont County Marriage Records, 1801-1910.

I’m hoping that getting some hard documentation of *something* that corroborates what I think I know will help me solve this puzzle. I’m still not sure who this Nancy person is, though. Hopefully, I’ll find out soon.

On a related topic, the Genealogy Guys mentioned that anyone can go to a Family History Center, but non-Mormons will have to sign in as a guest. That made me wonder: how will I deal with that? Technically, I’m still a Mormon, although I’m what they once called “inactive.” (Right before I myself went inactive, the more politically-correct term of “less active” was being popularized. Apparently, the less active members were being offended when someone would refer to them as flat-out inactive. Go figure.)

But do I really want to open up that can of worms? Explaining that I’ve been inactive for… *counts on fingers* …ten years could bring the Mormons back to our door in droves. Moving to Toledo finally managed to shake them, and I’m not in a hurry to evade them again.

Still, though… it’s like knowing the secret handshake. (Which apparently Mormons really do have. I kid you not. You learn it in the temple. I wasn’t old enough to learn it yet when I went inactive, though.) It’s hard to decide whether to disclose that I’m an inactive member, or just pretend that I went to the trouble of being excommunicated, and sign in as a guest.

I guess I’ll decide once I finally get my ass down to the Perrysburg FHC.

Two Quick Tidbits

At the laundromat this evening, CNN spewed forth two unrelated but intriguing blurbs.

First: The President of the Mormon church (a.k.a. “The Prophet” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) is going to be on Larry King Live this evening at 9pm. I may have to see if I can watch it live online somehow, or check out a capture or transcript later, as we don’t get CNN in our Very Basic Cable package. I’m interested in what Larry King might have to say to President Hinkley.

Second: A preliminary count of the Ukrainian re-vote shows Viktor Yuschenko has won by a landslide. Looks all the protesting and publicity was worth it. Congratulations to the dedicated voters of the Ukraine! (Makes me wonder if the U.S. didn’t give up too easily on our own recent election… but that’s neither here nor there at this late date.)

Edit: There’s now a transcript online of the conversation between Larry King and Gordon B. Hinckley.

Mormons and their Holidays

Sheryl said:

do mormons have special holidays? or do they just have the weird underweartraditions?

Good question, Sheryl. And, before I go upstairs to wash the massive amounts of dishes that pie-making has dirtied, I will answer this good question.

I think Mormons may actually celebrate fewer holidays than “normal” Protestant religions—at least, I know we didn’t do funky things for Palm Sunday or Lent or any of that. We had celebrations like Pioneer Days and attended the Hill Cumorah Pageant in upstate New York, but those weren’t really religious holidays as much as festivals.

As far as holidays are concerned, Mormons are pretty much like the rest of the Protestants. Easter and Christmas are the biggies, as with any other Christian religion, although Mormons believe that Jesus wasn’t actually born in December—I think they said it was actually in the Spring. I think that’s actually a Bible scholar thing more than a Mormon thing, now that I think about it. Has something to do with the fact that Mary and Joseph were trucking along home to be taxed, and when that happened during the year, and all that.

But, anyway, that’s not to say that Mormons don’t have their share of weirdness. It just doesn’t happen to be in their observance of holidays.

Weirdness of Mormons in a nutshell:
(in case I haven’t harped on it enough in the past)
– sacred undergarments protect Mormons
– hot drinks (coffee/tea) are not for the body or the belly
– native americans came from jerusalem on a boat
– magic glasses helped to translate the book of mormon
– the dead sea scrolls are actually lost writings of moses
– the second coming of christ will happen in america
– god lives on the planet kolob

Please feel free to comment on your confusion and amazement on any of these topics. I will gladly rant for your reading pleasure.