Wednesday, May 30, 2007

coming clean

In an attempt to ensure anonymity of my blog, I've mixed up some details sometimes. Most particularly, I refer to "kids" instead of "kid," and "work" instead of "school." The truth: I have only one kid. And I'm a full-time grad student, with a part time job. There. I said it.

I say this now because lately (as in, my most recent therapist session, which I haven't written about), all my split identities have been bothering me. I have my superficial family blog, and not once have I mentioned my split with the church. I have my fta blog, where I am honest about church stuff, but leave out personal stuff like the fact that I'm a student, and what specifically I'm studying and the subjects I'm interested in. There's stuff I still haven't talked about anywhere. There's no place where I'm totally me. As the therapist pointed out, I've very concerned about the boundaries of public and private, what can be said and what can't, what parts of me to hide and what to lay open for all to see. While my fta blog can get raw, honest, show my confusion, seemingly the deepest me, it is still contrived. I choose what to say and how to say it, and when.

I've been mulling this over in my head since Friday, drafting a post of "coming clean" about some of the details. I'd thought about revealing more, and revealing less. On Saturday I heard a segment on NPR about the public-ness of the internet. Children who have grown up with the internet have a totally different sense of privacy that older people do; to them, it's not a big deal to have pictures of yourself drunk and doing something stupid on the net. Also, once something is on the net, it's always there. You give up control of it. Anyone can see it, copy it, send it, modify it.

While I've felt a comforting sense of community in Outer Blogness, it also occurs to me that devout Mormons would think my blog is disgusting trash. This was pointed out to me by Arizona Awakening's fight with his wife when she discovered him reading my blog. I can't even imagine the devastation my family would feel if they connected the blog to me. Some part of me wants them to find it--to discover the real me. But even then, is it the real me? No. It's just the part of me that still wants to talk about how Mormonism affects my life every day. But some part of me feels there is no need for them to find that part of me. Why should they? It's private; why shouldn't I have parts of me that are private from them, separate from them?

I feel in some ways like I'm still a teenager, negotiating and pushing boundaries of identity, privacy, and self. As if I never really was a teenager, developmentally. As if this secret blog is something of my rebellion. I also realize I can hardly make up my mind about things. There's always "some part of me thinks this, but on the other hand..." I don't know why I do this. I think perhaps it's from a desire to present myself as objective, as having thought about multiple points of view. Like I'm a textbook, reporting all the information from various sources, rather than a scholarly book, making a point.

So what's my point? My identity is in flux. And I want to be more honest about it.

Monday, May 28, 2007


A friend of mine told me he didn't find Mormonism that weird. Even polygamy doesn't seem that weird, since exists in most of the world and in the Old Testament.

Then I told him about the secret handshakes and the temple robes.

He was speechless.

"If you think Mormonism isn't weird," I told him, "it's just because you haven't heard enough of it yet."

Friday, May 25, 2007

"I baptize you for and on behalf of fta, who is dead"

Should I never tell my family about my resignation? What will they think? That I'm a prideful, evil apostate who is so completely deceived by the devil that I would voluntarily turn my back on the church. If I don't talk to them about it, they'll have no idea what courage I had to muster to leave. They'll have no idea I followed my conscience and stayed true to my integrity. They'll have no idea that this route is initially much harder than staying; that staying without questioning would have been the easy way out.

It reminds me of my great grandma, who was basically inactive, drank coffee and alcohol. Never went through the temple, was not sealed to her husband. We never talked to her about it. We just visited her and loved her. It was a non-issue. But as soon as she died, talk began up about how we're going to baptize her (also deceased) husband and get them their endowments and their sealing. And their work was done. Everyone felt that Grandma wanted it done, but she just never got around to doing it. Just couldn't get past her laziness or whatever to get out there and go to the temple.

It never occurred to anyone that maybe Grandma and Grandpa never got baptized and endowed on purpose! What if she really hated the church, or at least didn't like it? And here we go, first thing as soon as she's dead, and (probably) go against her wishes and get her temple work done. What kind of family are we? We couldn't even ask her when she was alive, why don't you get your husband baptized? Why don't you get yourself over to the temple? But, boy, when she's dead, we know exactly what's best, didn't we? We fix her salvation for her.

It's an ultimate disrespect for the dead. I never understood while I was a devout Mormon why people got so mad when Mormons baptized Holocaust survivors or other prominent people. Finally, I understand. Now I am enraged over it.

Since I've resigned, will my relatives, one year after I die, think, "Hey, I'm sure fta really wanted to get re-baptized. I'm sure there was just some little problem she couldn't get over. Couldn't give up her drinks or her lazy Sunday mornings. Just didn't want to pay tithing. Just too intellectual. Let's go fix that.” And then go and redo all those ordinances?

Am I comfortable with that happening? No. Of course, if I'm dead, I won't know it. But if there is an afterlife, boy, will I come back and haunt the idiot that thought they knew me better than I knew myself! Right now, my only vision of the afterlife is what we leave behind on the earth--how people remember us, what impact we had on the world. In this sense of the afterlife, getting someone their ordinances, having no idea (or worse, having an idea) of what they felt about the church is disrespect for the dead and downright despicable.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

lightning & therapy session 3

Yesterday, still reveling in my new symbolic freedom, I noted happily that the devil hadn't suddenly taken a hold of me. God didn't strike me with lightning for disaffiliating with His One True Church, either. Not that I expected anything like that to happen, but it was a little fleeting thought from my old paradigm come back to make me giggle.


I saw the therapist again. I picked a new topic to discuss, something that has been bothering me for a while now. I won't get into it publicly, since this blog isn't the forum for such things. But I will say this: it had nothing to do with Mormonism. That struck me. I go to the therapist to help me adjust to my new life outside Mormonism, and it turns out that's not even what I need the most help with. Not yesterday, anyway. There were other, more pressing needs and adjustments.

You know what that says to me?

I'm moving on. I had a post-Mormon day.

(And yet, somehow, I still manage to post about in my ex-Mormon themed blog.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've thought about resignation from the church for two years now. I had planned on writing a post about "to resign or not to resign" but never got around to it. And here I am, resigned. So I guess I decided, didn't I? Why did it take so long?

At first, in those few months after leaving, I was just too scared. It was too big of a step, and I was unsure of myself. The way I was raised still had a very strong hold over me. Resignation was bad, bad, bad, stupid, stupid, stupid. Eventually, those feelings wore off, but by then, I didn't think about resignation much. Life and recovery just happened. It was inertia, I guess, that kept me from bothering. Kind of lame, huh?

When I did think about it, I debated between three choices: resignation, excommunication, and mere inactivity.

With resignation, I'd take matters in my own hands, decide the day I ended my relationship with the LDS institution. Resignation is often referred to as "having your name removed," which I think is disturbingly passive. It gives the action and power to the church. With resignation, even if the difference is in terminology only, I am the actor. The church insists on name removal, but legal precedence says the moment you hand in (or mail in) your letter, you are no longer a member. Whatever they do afterward--name removal, disciplinary action--is their business and has no bearing on you. In fact, if they initiate disciplinary action after your resignation, they are on legally shaky ground (according to precedence).

Excommunication would, I imagine, hurt my family's feelings more than my resignation. I figure that they would construe resignation as my mistake, my sin, while excommunication couldn't be a mistake because the church is perfect, isn't it? But I figure there are good reasons to "allow" the church to excommunicate you rather than just turn in a resignation letter, such as in the cases of the September Six. They wrote legitimate , good scholarship and the church asked them to stop. They said no. So they were ex'ed for telling the truth and refusing to retract those truths. That is a worthy cause, although undoubtedly painful for them. I played with the idea of not resigning just in case I eventually decided to write about Mormonism, and see if the church bothered me about it. Become yet another martyr in the intellectual freedom battle. I guess I decided it wasn't worth the hassle. I may yet publish about Mormonism, but they can't ex me now.

Inactivity would, I suppose, make my family the most comfortable. They could go on imaging that I'll come back any week now, that I'm not a hard apostate, I'm not so deceived and confused that I would do something so stupid as "ask for my name to be removed." This would be the easiest route, the route many take to appease spouses or extended family. Inactivity, though, would open myself--and my children--to harassment from the church. The church wouldn't think of it as harassment, of course, but an organization calling you every year, sending you letters, enticing your children to their activities with treats and games in hopes of indoctrinating them, even though you've asked them to leave you alone? That's harassment. I don't want the primary to bother my family. I don't want the deacon's quorum to make a project out of my son. I don't want insincere "thinking of you" cards from the relief society. I don't want to be talked about in bishop's council, to have men creating strategies on how to get us to show up at church so they can boost their attendance numbers.

I eventually decided it was a matter of integrity and conscience to resign. If I came across a non-profit institution that formally discriminated against women and homosexuals, that hid its financial dealings but was obviously rich, not to mention all the other wacko things the church does, I would most certainly NEVER consider joining or even giving money to it. To me, the church is an organization whose policies, actions, and doctrines I profoundly disagree with. How could I remain on its rolls, especially since my name was put there when I was just a little kid, far too young to decide for myself?

Don't count me in your 12 million, Hinckley. I am not LDS.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

the day

This is a significant day for the FTA family. We finally wrote, signed, notarized, and sent our resignation letter to Salt Lake (cc'ed to the local bishop), priority mail with delivery confirmation. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as we were signing those letters, and the notary public put all the official stamps and imprints on it.

I've been meaning to write a post about resignation, the debate about whether or not to bother, and why I hadn't done it yet--these two years as a non-believing, non-attender--but I'll save that for another post. I just want to bask in the satisfaction of having sealed the letter in the envelope and sent it to good ol' Mr. Dodge in Member Services.

If you want information or advice about resignation from the LDS church, see Mormon No More, and great resource put together by Kathy Worthington, may she rest in peace. I regret that I didn't do this earlier so I could thank her personally.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Doing some spring cleaning this weekend, I stumbled across lots of LDS church-published books and pamphlets. It surprised me a bit, because I thought I had done a thorough throwing-out-of-the-propaganda months ago. Among the books, I found some foreign language Books of Mormon, my scriptures from college, my husband's mission scriptures, flip charts, and a bunch of Liahonas (the foreign language version of the Ensign).

A couple days before, I had a conversation with a nevermo friend of mine. She said how very satisfying it had felt to break a bunch of dishes when she was packing up her apartment after a divorce. "We ordered these plates special for our apartment together." SMASH! "We got this as a wedding gift." CRASH!

I thought I'd apply this to the Mormon books, and put everything on a big pile on the living room floor and set to with ripping. I ripped my way through Books of Mormon, seminary charts, missionary discussion booklets, magazines. I eventually grabbed a razor and slashed through a hymn book.

It turned out to be rather unsatisfying. Not negative, just...blasé. I just couldn't care enough about the books for it to feel cleansing or cathartic. I should have done this two years ago. Then it would have felt like I had to actually overcome something, that strong psychological pull that would have told me those books were sacred and special, and that destroying them was tantamount to spitting in the face of God. But these two years down the road, I just don't care anymore. They're just silly little books with shallow theologies. Meh.

Friday, May 18, 2007

therapist, session 2

I finally got in to see a therapist (stupid insurance). I'll be leaving the area for an extended time, so I will probably only be able to get in one to two more sessions. But I decided to go ahead and meet with the counselor anyway. Two sessions can't hurt.

I've been feeling much, much more emotionally stable the past couple months than I was in February, when I originally called a counselor. But I certainly still have things to talk about and issues to think through. Since we only had a couple sessions, the counselor asked me if there was anything I'd like to target our sessions on, any issue in particular. I choose to bring up relations with my family, because I'm going to be visiting them soon, for longer than just a few days like my normal trips.

I'm worried about setting boundaries to keep away attempts to indoctrinate my kids. I don't think anyone would do it on purpose (no one would secretly baptize him, as the therapist said), but Mormon culture doesn't teach boundaries well. They could cross them without it ever occurring to them that a boundary could even exist. Like the time I was telling my son about boy animals and girl animals, and my mom piped in, "Yep, and that's how Heavenly Father made it." Cringe.

I'm worried that no one will just acknowledge the 800-pound gorilla in the room. That looming, stifling, uncomfortable presence of our non-Mormon-ness that sometimes feel so obvious that I just want to scream, "Will somebody say something!?! I'm not wearing garments! I drink coffee! I think Joseph Smith was a putz! I don't believe we need Jesus!" But I never would. No, I never would.

I'm worried that I'll feel out of place when the family says prayers. Food prayers and family prayers, multiple prayers a day. I wish my dad would ask me to say a prayer. And then I could say it in my own way, not invoking any deity, but expressing gratitude and joy and being together and being alive. I wish that if I did that, my family would accept it as a legitimate prayer, instead of seeing it as an empty, lost shadow of The True Way to Pray that they use.

I'm worried that my nieces and nephews will hear things in primary about how bad non-Mormons are, and start to believe about how their cousins--my kids--are failing somehow. How my kids are lost in the world, without the gospel, and need to be brought to the light. I'm worried that they will, in their childishness, chastise them for not praying before lunch, or for not attending church, or for saying, "God's just pretend" or "Jesus is dead" as they sometimes do.

I'm worried I won't be able to stand up for myself when it's important, worried about how to find that line of when to let it slide and when to challenge. I'm worried about making them uncomfortable. I'm worried that simply being myself will make them uncomfortable. And then I wonder, is that so bad? Wouldn't it be better to just live my life how I will live it, and let them make the adjustments necessary to having a non-believer in their family? Where's that balance of not being bowled over by their Mormon-ness, and not bowling them over with my position?

Why am I subjecting myself to this?

And isn't it profoundly sad that I feel spending time with my own family is subjecting myself to something?

Friday, May 11, 2007

grasping death

The other day, the new excitement among the neighborhood kids was that yet another squirrel had died. Its body lay there on the ground as Little FTA and two other boys gathered around to discuss it. My husband overheard their conversation.

Boy1: Look! There's another squirrel that died.

Boy2: looking up Yep, now it's up in heaven!

Little FTA: following Boy2's gaze upward, puzzled about how a dead squirrel could be in the sky when it was so clearly on the ground No, now it's body is falling apart into lit bits and becoming a part of the dirt.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mormons and depression podcast

All right, readers, now you get to be listeners, too. The voice of fta is now on the web. Head over to eight hour lunch to hear me podcast with Doug and Heidi.

We talk about, what else, depression and Mormonism. Specifically, we touch on the "Utah has the highest rate of antidepressant use" meme and empirical studies done among Mormons and depression, as well as suicide.

I haven't listened to it yet. I really don't like hearing my own voice recorded. And I don't have headphones at work, so I'll have to wait until I'm home tonight.

From eight hour lunch:

Inside the LDS Church and out, people seem to generally accept that Mormons have had more than their fair share of depression. And who can blame them? Utah women lead the nation in antidepressant use, and our young men are more likely to commit suicide than just about anywhere in the country.

But can Mormonism really make you depressed? For all of the studies and reports out there, the results seem, well—inconclusive. To find out more, Heidi and I spoke with the author of the blog Emerging From the Ashes. She’s taken an in-depth look at the studies that have been done, so you’d better have a listen (you uninformed piece of shit).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mormon neighbors

I have Mormon neighbors. Lots of them. Somehow (actually, I know how: Mormon nepotism on the housing board) our neighborhood is known as the place to be among Mormons who move here. Actually, it influenced us to move here, back when we were church-goers. Now, though, it bugs the hell out of me is uncomfortable. There are people we used to attend church with. There are people who moved in after we stopped attending. And you better believe the ones who moved in later know exactly who we are. But they won't say anything, no, no, they won't say anything.

The other day we had a neighborhood barbecue, so we went. People trickled in, and I made the rounds of chatting. Then I realized that the crowd had swelled, and was probably half Mormon. Now, we don't live in Salt Lake City, so the crowd should not be half Mormon.

I started to get uncomfortable. And I hated that I was uncomfortable. I looked around and realized my husband had already headed home; his Mo-dar is more sensitive than mine, I suppose. I stayed for a few more minutes, then slipped home myself, checking first to make sure the kids, oblivious to our social politics, were safely playing under the watch of neighbors.

I thought about the stereotype of ex-Mormons as anti-social. I've hated that stereotype. But I've pretty much lived up to it. I stopped going to ward functions, stopped being invited to extra-ward family activities, stopped seeing everyone at church every week, stopped asking for babysitters among the relief society women. Is that actually anti-social? No, but to the ward members, for whom that is pretty much their entire social life, yes. Sometimes I tell myself to prove the stereotype wrong, to put on a big smile and show 'em! But that in itself seems so very like the Mormon hide-your-true-emotions facade I was raised with and I am trying to overcome.

After coming in, I sat in the living room and picked up a book. The day outside was perfect for a barbecue, the neighbors continued to stay and chat for a couple hours after I left. But here I was, inside, with a book, feeling...what? What was I feeling? Sad? Angry at myself? Angry at my own heritage? Why? Why couldn't I just talk to the other people in the neighborhood, many of whom I like? Why couldn't I just talk to the Mormons, pretending, like they do, that everything is perfectly normal? I've done it before. Other times I've laughed inside while doing just that. Why not this time? (Don't say it was because those other times I had a shot of tequila in me. Just don't.)

Maybe it was because I was just recently starting to feel reconciled to the idea that I am, by heritage, by ethnicity even, Mormon. And then I felt so poignantly not Mormon. I am not one of them, nor do I want to be. And yet we have so much in common. But the things we have in common are things I've spent the past few years tearing out of my self, bits of shrapnel I dig, painfully, from my wounded body.

Yeah, yeah, a bit melodramatic, I know. But that's what it felt like.

Monday, May 07, 2007

exorcising the spirit

This post follows an earlier one, the spirit. Check that one out first so you can get a segue into where I'm coming from.

During my long process of questioning and exiting, I've re-evaluated just about everything in my life. I had a especially hard time explaining, defying, and reinterpreting the Spirit. One issue that held me up was that my mom spoke to the Spirit on a daily basis. Spoke. Daily. Even to the point that other Mormons thought she might be a little cuckoo. I think she eventually learned to stop announcing her personal revelations. Not because she questioned them when others did, but because she decided those other people just didn't get it. They could have those revelations, too, if they just listened, you see.

On my way out of the church, I started to doubt that God talks to any of us, that that sort of God didn't really exist. But what would that mean for my mom? Was she just crazy? Was she schizophrenic? Had she, this whole time, been basing her decisions--including how to raise us--off the little voices in her head? I really thought those things about my mom, and thought, for a short time, that maybe she really, really needed a psychiatric evaluation. For a while, it was the only alternative explanation I could think of. Exorcising the Spirit was, then, a choice between "the Spirit really talks to people" or "my mom is crazy." Not a comfortable place to be.

I no longer think God sends messages to people, nor that my mom is crazy (though I think a trip to a counselor wouldn't hurt). I eventually came to another explanation. I now think that her revelations, her promptings, her still-small-voice moments come from within herself, defined and interpreted in a Mormon-influenced way. Her prayers are simply reflections into her own desires and fears, moments to clear her mind of other things and figure out what she wants. This goes for all of my moments of praying and feeling the Spirit, too. If I remember right, Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World was very helpful in my seeing things in a new way. People's brains work to try to make sense of things, and when these things do not have an obvious, natural explanation, it is easy to interpret them in supernatural ways.

Another reason it was so hard to let go of the Spirit was that my mother raised me to think that the Spirit was everything: my conscience, my guidance, my only hope in negotiating this difficult life and returning to heaven. Nothing could be known better than by the Spirit. The Spirit trumped all, including the most obvious evidence. Asking the Spirit, e.g., the messenger for the Lord, was the only way to know things, to make decisions of any gravity, to get comfort, to overcome doubts.

So you could say I felt a bit, well, completely and utterly lost when I realized the Spirit was not, actually, what I thought. I didn't know where to turn for guidance, for comfort, for answers. I felt adrift, floating freely and uncomfortably, without direction. What were my standards? What were my morals? How was I supposed to live?

Somehow, I don't remember how, it finally dawned on me that I was capable of making my own decisions, even about the big things. That I had my own, internal moral compass that could guide me. It was a liberating moment, to see that. It was also quite scary. Before, I had only been asking questions in order to get answers from others. "Where should I go now? What am I supposed to do?"

It only then occurred to me that I should be asking myself questions.

Where do I want to go?

What do I want to do?

The choice is mine.

Friday, May 04, 2007

a hypothesis

Mormonism highly values intrinsic religiosity (belief in teachings and certain truth claims), but implicitly and explicitly demands that it be displayed extrinsically (near perfect attendance, service in volunteer positions, public, physical and vocal displays of belief and conformity). In part due to these pressures, an unknown percent of members regularly attend services, despite their non-belief, for extrinsic reasons, such as social conformity and family relations. These “faithful non-believers” are most often “in the closet” about their true feelings and beliefs, and this may cause stress, cognitive dissonance, and may result in negative mental health outcomes, particularly with regard to depression.

Simply looking at attendance would not be enough to tease out possible risk factors for mental health outcomes. For example, some people attend because they agree with the teachings and it brings them happiness. Others, however, attend for mostly extrinsic reasons, such as social support and friendship. Yet others attend only to avoid ostracism, or even divorce.

I would hypothesis that that Mormons who attend church, but do not believe the teachings and truth claims, have worse mental health outcomes than those who attend as believers. In other words, those who demonstrate extrinsic religiosity while masking their lack of intrinsic religiosity, have worse outcomes than those who attend for both extrinsic and intrinsic reasons.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

podcast & book

Last night, I recorded a podcast (my first!) with Doug and Heidi over at eight hour lunch. We talked about depression and Mormonism, since I've lately been obsessed with the topic (could you tell?). I'm not sure when they will be able to post the podcast, but I'll watch the site and let you know as soon as I know.

It was unexpectedly exhilarating to talk to them about this topic, and I'm kind of pleased that my voice is now out there, even if not my name.


Also, the book Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Caring, Ethical Kids Without Religion is now available. It is a collection of essays from a diverse set of humanists and nontheists, including our fellow former Mormon, Agnostic Mom. I've ordered my copy. Check it out and consider buying it if you are interested; I, for one, feel it important to support this kind of effort. We atheists are out there, we are good parents, and we have a voice. Let it be heard.

Finally, one of my posts from Main Street Plaza (a post republished and reworked from here) was linked at Daylight Atheism's The Humanist Symposium. There is an impressive collection of blog entries on positive atheism and humanist values. Personally, I've been wanting to explore this kind of thing more in depth. (Summer project, fta, now get back to work.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Well, my sister was here all weekend, which is partly why I've been neglectful of my blog. She had no idea about my blog, and I still want it to stay that way.

This is the sister I get along with smashingly, and am the closest to. I'm not going to give a play-by-play of the weekend, but I will highlight some of the thoughts and moments where the whole we're-not-believers-anymore thing came up (which was probably 10% of the whole weekend).

The Word of Wisdom

We debated whether or not to hide the coffee pot, tea boxes, and signs that we drink alcohol. I ended up leaving out the coffee pot and the tea, but moving the open bottle of wine and the shot glasses out of the line of sight. I left them in the open, but up on shelves, along with the wine and martini glasses. There was also beer in the fridge. I don't think she noticed them, but that didn't matter much since Mr. FTA openly said he was 29 the first time he tried alcohol, and then had a beer at a dinner party we all went to. At the dinner, the drink options were beer, ice tea, and cherry juice--for the kids. She had a cherry juice, and we smiled at each other about that in a knowing way. She didn't say anything about the alcohol, but I think it was probably a little uncomfortable for her. She has non-Mormon in-laws that drink, so it's not like she's never been exposed to it. Still, I'm sure it's a little weird.

At the same time, though, I think it's made her see us as the Secret Keepers. That is, she can tell us things about "sins" that she wouldn't tell anyone else in the family. She can comfortably "confess" things, because she knows we're non-judgmental and won't spread the gossip. Which is kind of flattering, really.

She was, at least, comfortable enough to bring things up. In the kitchen, she sat on the counter next to the coffee maker and casually said, "So, you drink coffee now, huh?" And we had a conversation about how caffeine affects us, how we like the smell, etc. She was really laid back and cool about it. She just doesn't care, because she recognizes that we don't think the Word of Wisdom came from God. She also confirmed that my mom knows I drink coffee, and that Mom is weirded out by it. "I'm just afraid they started drinking because they left the church." Um, no, Mom, we started because there was no good reason not to, and lots of reasons to start. Oh, and because we like it.

The Sabbath Day

We wondered what my sister had planned as far as attending church. Honestly, I would have been a little miffed if she decided to attend 3 hours of church, when she was only visiting me for less than 48 hours in the first place. Sunday was our only full day together. But I also didn't want to get in the way of her religious choices. If I had decided to put my foot down and say, "Family is more important than religion, and you should spend this time with me!" I would have been hypocritical, because I would have been putting religion (non-religion) before family. Demanding her not to go to church would have been as ridiculous and my family demanding I attend with them. So on Saturday night, I asked her what she was thinking about church. She said she'd at least like to go to sacrament meeting, so I told her when and where the LDS ward meets. Then I offered to take her to the UU meeting, which started an hour later. She seriously considered that, but felt enough desire to go to sacrament that she wanted to go to both meetings. The timing wouldn't work out, I explained, and she decided on the LDS services.

Sunday morning, I drove her down and dropped her off. She was going to take her kid too, but since he would have just been restless and wanting to play with his non-church-going cousin (my kid), she let me just take her kid along with mine to the park to play.

Family Relations

After church while we were eating lunch, Mr. FTA asked my sister what the talks were about. She said the missionaries spoke about missionary work. I joked, "So are you going to try to give us a gospel message?" She laughed and made a joke about it. We got into a discussion about how she's the only one comfortable enough to talk to us about the whole church thing, and she expressed how stupid she thinks it is that everyone else is so uncomfortable. She suggested that next time we visit the family, we sit everyone down and acknowledge the 800-pound gorilla. That we say, "Listen, we left. So what? We don't want to tear anyone down. We still want to be your family. We still want good relationships with you. Don't be afraid to ask us questions, or tell us things, or talk about church in front of us. But if you do bear your testimonies, be prepared to hear our opinions too." It's probably a good suggestion. Most people are probably just waiting for us to say something first, worrying that they will offend us or drive us further away if they bring it up. Things are better (less awkward) with everyone we have talked to about it. I don't know what we'll do. I'll think about it some more.

A little awkwardness aside, we had a great weekend.