Sunday, October 15, 2006

exit story 1: new friends, new ideas

After my husband I both finished college (yes, I did get more than just an Mrs. degree), we moved out of Utah. This was my first time living outside the Mormon Corridor since I’d been too little to remember. I immediately clung to my new ward, meeting other young Mormon couples, going to church weekly, and attending church activities. Insta-community. I suddenly had lots of friends.

Most of them, I would later discover, were friends with me only because of Mormonism. Once I stopped attending the ward, we stopped hanging out. Most of that was just because I didn’t attend ward functions anymore, so I didn’t see them as much. But some of them actually shunned me. Whether they just didn’t know how to act around an “inactive” family, or they consciously wanted to distance themselves from the evil we exuded, I don’t know.

Some of the friends I made in this insta-community were not the typical faithful Mormons fresh out of Utah. Some of them were what the internet community calls new order Mormons, or faithful non-believers, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I was drawn to them, and we began to discuss things we didn’t discuss in Sunday School.

Through them, I discovered Sunstone, Dialogue, and scholarly books on Mormonism. I had no idea such things existed. In my Utah mind, there was stuff-published-by-the-church and anti-Mormon literature. Plain and simply, black and white division. And don’t even think about touching the anti- stuff. That’s just a bunch of lies that’ll send you straight to apostasy.

But when I started reading the scholarly materials, I realized my perceived dichotomy, one the church had encouraged, was just wrong. I loved to talk about things I never could talk about before—changing church policy on birth control, women giving blessings in the 19th century, the struggles gay Mormons faced, the myth of Joseph’s mantle falling on Brigham Young.

I developed a faithful desire to delve more deeply into Mormon doctrine, history, and culture in order to understand my faith better. I began this new journey in the honest belief that I would become a better Mormon.


Eric said...

With time, even our dutiful home teacher stopped coming by. It took him all of a month or less. He even came over once, as a neighbor, with his home teaching companion. I see him from time to time, and he's always nice, always friendly, but if he wanted to be a true neighbor he'd stop by just because I'm working in the garage, or outside watching the kids. Instead, I'm a non-member family, and even worse, an apostate. Instant unneighborliness.

Living in the New Heart of Mormonism (Utah Valley), I'm surprised by how little I have to deal with the church and dumb biases. The only down side is I have some distance to drive to find most ex- or non-mormon friends. We have one friend in our section of town. All the rest are 10 to 40 minutes away. But of the friends we have, I would easily drive 10 hours to see.

Thanks for linking to our blogs!


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Eric, if that's the case, it's probably about 10 hrs to see me! Will you be my friend?! Come visit! Ha ha ha.

I like your story more and more as I read it, Ashes.

from the ashes said...

It's certainly nice to have IRL exmos to hang out with. That'd be one advantage to living in SLC--lots of exmo gatherings!