I haven’t had a lot to say lately on Mormonism. To tell the truth, a lot of my grasp on it is slipping away. Over time my conviction that the LDS church is a load of psychologically harmful groupthink based on comforting but false fantasies has been solidified and borne out through personal reflection, empirical evidence, and anecdotal experience. But I feel less interested in talking about it. My teeth are still set on edge every time I see one of those “WE’RE NORMAL” ads on YouTube, and the thought of Mitt Romney being the next US president makes me want to cancel my visa and go back to where nobody’s ever met a Mormon, let alone wanted to know how “normal” they are. I still feel anger when I think about the fact that 90% of my family will now have nothing to do with me because they don’t want me as I am — they want me as they would have me.
It’s getting harder, though, to be able to deliver the sort of commentary that I had in mind when I started this blog. I’m not interested in torturing myself by watching Ginrul Confernz. Conference is predictable to a fault. One or two token female speakers breathing the vapours of recently swallowed antidepressants into the microphone. Generic choral music sung by white people. Mind-numbing, bland feel-good pablum about sharing or something. Praise of the virtues of Doublethink and excoriation of the vice of Thoughtcrime, especially as they apply to naughty ideas about civil rights and secular government. There’s always at least one zinger, but GA misbehaviour gets enough press that I don’t need to bother listening to the old windbags all weekend to glean the inevitable bigotry.
That’s why this weekend Ginrul Confernz sneaked up on me. I simply forgot it was happening. I’ve forgotten a lot of things. Like the chill that used to go up my spine whenever someone told a 4 REELZ story about The Three Nephites that was passed along from their Bishop’s wife’s nephew’s sister-in-law. Or the reason I used to get choked up whenever some shrill-voiced Mia Maid got to the line “AND THEN THEY PEEEE-YURCED-THEM” in the Kenneth Cope song “His Hands.” (Wow, did I actually just admit that? The shame and horror.)
Some memories are fresher. Like the way people treated me when they learned I was getting a divorce from a philandering closeted criminal (BUT LDS!) husband who had used up his seven times seventy chances. Or the way people suddenly vanished from my life when they learned I had finally dropped off the deep end and was committing the final crime of marrying a non-member. (Mr. Molly, by the way, is loving, devoted, honest, stable, chock-full of integrity, and treats me as a partner. However, he is not a return missionary with a temple recommend, meaning he is clearly an agent of Satan. If so, then consider me the sinfully happy bride of Hell.)
I remember the peaceful realization that I didn’t want to pretend any more. I remember the sad acceptance that, while I would always love the family, friends, and community from my life as a Mormon, it meant more to me to stand up for what I believe is right than to keep myself in the closet. I remember the relief of knowing I was going to stop pretending to be affiliated with an organisation that is based on a rubbish work of Bible fan fiction written by a sex-crazed megalomaniac.
The Internet was the beginning of the end for groups that keep members in line through psychological intimidation and misinformation. We’re now at a point where the Catholic church cannot hide its sexual abuses of children. Jehovah’s witnesses, Scientologists, Mormons, and other groups with shoddy truth claims are having a hard time accepting that the public now has the ability to document abuses and scrutinise their every word. No one can hide hypocrisy any more. With the Internet nearing 20 years old, an entire generation has now reached adulthood reared on the idea that truth is something they can find for themselves. Let’s be honest; Google answers a lot more questions than God does.
Religion, politics, and cultural change is still something that interests me. But my scope has moved beyond a specific critique of Mormonism. LDS, Inc. represents a fairly insignificant religious movement in world history. Judging by the high attrition rate, the desperation of Mormonism’s marketing campaigns, and the increasing role of Mormonism as a cultural joke, its future as a significant cultural force seems dim. Mormons who reach prominence (such as Harry Reid or Mitt Romney) make progress only by downplaying their faith. (By comparison, mainstream Christians gain a political benefit from being overtly religious.) Mormon celebrities tend to be poor examples of a religion that penetrates most member’s lives twenty-four hours a day.
I’m more interested in looking at the bigger picture. Mormonism contributes a great deal to both overt and latent sexism, racism, and homophobia in Western culture, and the religion deserves its share of the blame. But I’m growing more interested in seeking out the common threads that bind human beings to outmoded ways of thinking. And then hopefully cut through them with a rhetorical chainsaw.
So as I come off my blogging hiatus, I’d like to introduce the first set of features I’ll be focusing on: Feminism Fails and Woman Wins. For example, this week’s Feminism Fail goes to Gisele Bündchen, who not only promotes a standard of beauty that devalues almost all women on Earth but somehow managed to do her part to encourage negative stereotypes about Brazilian women even as women make unprecedented progress in that country. Fail.
As always, I’m eager for contributions by guest writers. If you’re interested in smashing through outmoded cultural expectations and contributing the the growing arsenal against bullshit, drop me a line.