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A reflection on my experiences as a Mormon.

Tracked Down! Families in Mormonism

Posted by nebula0 on October 29, 2009

So after having moved after having not been to church for over a year, I admit I had great hopes that we’d fly under the radar and never be tracked down by what is supposed to be our new local ward.  Most of our Mormon friends dropped out of the picture after we stopped showing up for sacrament meetings, so I reasoned that there would be no reason for our new address to enter the picture.  However it was only a week ago that an older gentleman came to our door and introduced himself as a neighbor ‘in our ward’ with, of course, an invitation to church.

What surprised me was not so much that our address eventually did get out, but my reaction to the visit.  I was deeply disturbed.  I realized that Mormonism threatened, at least in my own mind, our family harmony.  I am completely non-Mormon, I don’t even really think of myself as ‘ex’ Mormon.  I don’t feel related to Mormonism at all, good or bad.  However, my spouse considers himself a jack Mormon, even though he doesn’t accept its basic truth claims.  He feels some kind of cultural connection, as if he was born a Jew who disbelieves that Moses was a prophet.  It is for that reason I don’t want Mormonism an issue in our lives, I don’t want it brought up, I don’t want anyone thinking about it in our family.  We have such a happy, close family life and I am so pleased not to raise our children in the church, or any church for that matter, I don’t want this happy family ship perturbed.

If you are familiar with Mormonism you might find my sentiments ironic.  After all, isn’t Mormonism a bastion of happy, close families?  It really only works if all the members of the family are also active Mormons.  Only active Mormon couples can be sealed for ‘time and all eternity’ in the temples, and thus have their children ‘born in the covenant’ and thus sealed to them for ‘time and all eternity’.  And those promises are bound up with individual obedience to Mormonism’s gospel message.  So it is having one spouse an active Mormon and another not, or even worse, one who is non Mormon, is bound to cause stress on the marriage. 

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just a Mormon issue- interreligious marriages in general cause stress if one member of the marriage is committed to a religion.  But, Mormonism creates a unique stressor by stressing so much family unity, in the church.  In fact, a defective spouse can threaten the eternal possibility of the other.  It is a couple that is exalted to godhood through obedience to the (Mormon) gospel, not individuals.

Since nothing has come of the visit of the well intentioned older gentleman to our house, I have relaxed again.  But the episode has reaffirmed to me how far I have come in the matter of a couple of years in how I understand the very core of my identity.


Posted in My Experiences, Reflections | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Should I Write the Letter?

Posted by nebula0 on November 19, 2008

I’m beginning to think that the time may come that I may actually write The Exit Letter to my Stake President.  The reason I’m contemplating this turn of events is because I’m also considering “joining” (I’m already a Catholic according to Catholics by virtue of my infant baptism) Catholicism.  It seems appropriate to combine a step like that with an official declaration of my leaving Mormonism.  I don’t feel like I need to make a point or give my former Mormonism the finger or anything like that, in fact, I’m feeling more positive about Mormonism than I have in a couple of years.  At this point I could easily attend a Sacrament meeting with my spouse oh, say, monthly without getting that inner cringing feeling, because I would not equivocate if people asked about my religious status.  I would tell them non Mormon and leave it there.  I’d let them try to convert me with polite quietness on my part.  I wouldn’t try to prove anything.  So I would write the letter to further solidify that position of pleasant neutrality and cut off any remaining reason for which I would have to explain my situation as an ex Mormon.  I want to be simply a ‘non’ Mormon who happens to know a lot about Mormonism and disagrees with the theology.  That’s how I feel these days.

Then again, if writing a letter works against that purpose for an unforseen reason I would want to know that.  I have no desire to cause problems for my family-in-law who are all active Mormons.  They know at the very least I’m an inactive coffee and alcohol drinker and are polite enough not to ask why.  If they did I’m fairly sure I would be nonchalant about it and unless they were interested in a serious discussion quickly move the topic.

So to write the letter or not.  For the first time since declaring myself an ex Mormon I’ve felt the impulse the past month or so to write the letter.  If I do it, it won’t be for many months still.

Posted in My Experiences, Reflections | Tagged: , , , | 49 Comments »

Taking Stock

Posted by nebula0 on October 30, 2008

I can’t remember the exact date that I gave up my Mormon faith for good.  I’m not good at that stuff.  What I do know is that it’s sometime a month or two from now.  So I am reflecting on where to go from here (see the previous post) and what I have learned from my experiences so far.  It’s harder than I thought it would be.  The thing is, I have more baggage from my trip through Mormonism than I wanted to admit to myself.  I harbored some ill feeling about Mormonism and figured I really hadn’t gained much from it.  Have I?  I’m sure I have and don’t even really know.  It forced me to be more social than I otherwise would have.  I met my spouse through being a Mormon, and nothing will take that away.  I got to practice giving speeches.  But what about in a spiritual sort of way?

What I gained most from Mormonism was, and is, a lense through which to focus my spiritual and intellectual curiosity in matters of faith.  I’ve learned the importance of intellect, not just the emotions, when it comes to embracing God- if the intellect isn’t on board, neither is the will, not really. I’ve learned that if I am to really, totally, and with my whole will intellect and otherwise embrace God and a way of approaching him, I am to be thoughtful, I am to be slow, I am not to be pressured.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I allowed myself to be led into Mormonism through eager missionaries and ‘friends’ who abandoned me as soon as my head hit the waters (see my previous posts about why I became a Mormon to see the sort of split mind I developed).  It’s human nature to want to belong to a group, it’s human nature to be excited by new things. I  want to be authentic in my spirituality and know that a group and new things will be a part of that, but they cannot be allowed to direct my path.

So I move forward, slow and steady.  One thing that I have noticed is that my opinion of Mormonism becomes more and more like that of a never-Mormon outsider, someone who can acknowledge the ‘odd’ aspects, the positive aspects, the negative aspects, without personal entanglement.  I suppose that is the strongest sign of my ex-Mormonhood.  I feel no longing, and neither revulsion, for things Mormon.

Posted in My Experiences, Reflections | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

My Confirmation Story

Posted by nebula0 on October 21, 2008

This is as continuation of my “Why I became a Mormon” story.  When I left off I had just been baptized and had my first big Mormon spiritual experience.  My next one occurred when I got confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This activity happens the next Fast and Testimony meeting, the first Sunday of the month, after a new member is baptized and mine came up the next weekend.

The ceremony is simple enough.  You get to pick the men who you want to bless you, they must hold the Melchizedek priesthood and be in good standing.  I didn’t know many people so I had my new bishop and the elders bless me.  A chair is set up front, facing the congregation, and after the event is announced I go up and sit in it.  The men lay their hands on my heads, stacking them, and they feel heavy.  They start the spiel, one of the elders is speaking.  They say my full name, that by the power of their priesthood they are blessing me and they give me a blessing.  I’m sorry but I can’t remember a single word of it besides the standard “Receive the Holy Ghost!”.

What I do remember is feeling electricity run through my head from the hands.  It ran through my whole body.  I felt electrified.  When I stood up when they were done, I felt that weightlessness that I felt at my baptism.  I struggled to get back to my seat near the back.  People congratulated me, and that feeling of walking on air lasted the rest of the meeting.

By this point I felt that I could be a Mormon, with all reality, but I know I still had many doubts.  The experiences created in me a sense of desire to throw all my doubts in the air and join the community.  I still felt a lot of reservations about sharing this with my family, and a sense of discord between my ideal person (the dispassionate physicist) and this new Mormon person.  With the next year I worked those things out in an attempt to fully integrate my entire person into Mormonism.  I did succeed, for a few years, and when the doubts resurfaced they would be different.  But that’s for another post.

Posted in My Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Why I Became a Mormon, Baptism story

Posted by nebula0 on October 18, 2008

When I left off the baptism was being planned.  Looking back on it, I wonder if I was really ready to be baptized.  By then I knew a lot about Mormonism, I read through all the scriptures, I was aware of most of the anti literature but I was still highly conflicted. 

But the day of the baptism I showed up early.  By the baptismal font in the stake center was a dressing room, and I was dressed in an all white jumper and was sure to wear white underwear and bring a change of clothes.  I was nervous partly because I hated any event to be about me.  I’m one of those people who tries to keep their birthdate a secret so that no one will get the bright idea of throwing a party.  Others tend to interpret that as a sly maneuver and can’t imagine anyone NOT wanting a party, but I sincerely don’t.  I’m one of those people who cannot fathom why anyone would want to be on TV.  So it was that I went to my baptism with an anxiety and a desire to get the thing over with.

Here’s how it went, hymns were sung, a little speech given, then I went to the font with the missionaries who I had selected to baptize me.  You get in the water, which is nice and warm, plug your nose, and you’re dropped under the water.  It’s important that every part of you goes under, if a toe pops up, for example, the whole thing must be done again.  Afterward, I got myself dried up while everyone sang hymns, then I bore my testimony, for the first time.  “Bearing your testimony” is a technical Mormon phrase, it’s a ritual with a particular format, utilized at particular moments.  Acceptable phrasing includes things like “I know this church is true, I know Joseph Smith is a prophet, I know Jesus is the Christ” followed with or preceded with a personal story.  The whole thing is always concluded with “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen”.

I really have no idea what I said, so I can’t share that here.  But standing up in front of those people assembled, in their Sunday clothes (it was Saturday but Sunday clothes are standard wear for a baptism) I felt taken out of myself.  The words flowed but I didn’t control them.  I said the correct phrases at the correct times so as to engage my Mormon audience.  That is, I was now a speaker of the Mormon language: I had converted without even fully realizing the fact.  Everyone was moved, and for the rest of the small party, (what baptism is complete without cookies?) I felt as if I were floating.

Upon retrospect I believe that I was forcing my mind to be split for too long.  On the one hand I had a secret longing to become a Mormon fully, but on the other, I didn’t really buy the whole package.  So it was, the day of my baptism, my mind forced a reconciliation and moved me into the Mormon community.  I adopted Mormon aspirations and ways of thinking and became fluent in Mormon-ese.  This was reinforced when I was confirmed that Sunday and I experienced the same sense of being out of my body, floating- with my decision to join I released my mind from the tension of investigation.  Finally I had chosen to give into my desires to join and shelve my questions and disbelief.

Obviously that didn’t work forever, but you get the idea.

Posted in My Experiences | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Why I became a Mormon, part 2

Posted by nebula0 on October 17, 2008

When I left off I had agreed to meet with the missionaries, but I had no intention of doing so with the possibility of conversion. It was in the interest of learning alone and I made that clear to the pair of sisters I met with. We probably got together ten times, and went throug hte fourth discussion. For those who don’t know, missionaries go through a series of six discussions with potential converts, the six being reserved for those who have agreed to baptism. It used to be that missionaries would memorize these discussions and try to go through them word for word, but recently they have been allowed to paraphrase things in their own words. While I met with these sisters I started doing studying on my own, starting of course, with the internet. It was there that I met up with the barage of anti Mormon sites as well as apologetic sites such as Fair, FARMS, Mormon Fortress and others. I enjoyed meeting with the sisters but as some point felt there was no more I wished to learn. As I became increasingly exposed to Mormon theology and ritual I felt as though I were in a Twilight Zone episode, it was all so strange and they acted as if it were just as ordinary as their peanut butter.

So, when the sisters were transferred and I was to meet with a pair of elders I staged a grand exit from the scene with a debate. By the time the debate was over I was outnumbered 5 to 1 as we were meeting in the local Institute and there were plenty of instructors and other young Mormons around. I had a great time. I don’t remember what my points were so I can’t evaluate if they were real zingers or not.

That was it for a year. In the meantime, my experiences never left me and I think in large part because I found Mormonism so odd I felt compelled to continue to learn about it. I read through the Book of Mormon as well as re-read the Bible as well as kept up my learning from the internet. I kept thinking about my experience with the sister missionaries and how fun it was to have those meetings to look forward to. I thought about how nice the Mormons seemed. And, I felt that urge to pray harder than ever.

When I came back to the Institute I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. Part of me was just unbearably curious. I thought about doing a sort of anthropological experiment to really get a sense for what it’s like to be a convert’s shoes. Part of me wanted to sincerely join the community. Either way I walked into the Institute and asked to see a pair of missionaries and as we went through the discussions I decided that I wanted to be baptized. That sense of inner conflict remained with me straight through the baptism.

That inner conflict is extremely common with converts. When potential converts are interviewed and asked why they are involved in a new religious community prior to conversion they almost always respond that they are simply spending time with their new friends. After the conversion they reinterpret their motivations, all along they were actually really interested in the religion. My conflict was such that I kept the baptism quiet from my family though I told my work friends about it- who by the way, though it was odd. They were all of the extreme skeptical type. I was worried about what my parents would think and since I wasn’t even sure why I was doing it exactly I thought it prudent to downplay it until at least I knew what it was all about.

You may all be wondering about my experiences during this time (especially if you are a Mormon). The missionaries taught me to interpret feelings of peace as the spirit and feelings of disquiet as the workings of Lucifer. I didn’t really buy it but I went along with it. During this odd period I felt very compelled and allured by the Mormon religion itself. I thought it was endlessly fascinating. I felt compelled by the seemingly happy Mormon people, though I wasn’t able to really befriend any. But I was afraid to make any real concrete commitments mentally. I was afraid of feeling foolish. Despite my reservations I did feel compelled along by an unknown force.

All this leads up to my baptismal experience which was my first notable spiritual experience in Mormonism (besides those ‘peaceful feelings’ I had reservations as interpreting as the Spirit). That is coming up.

Posted in My Experiences | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Why I Became a Mormon, part 1

Posted by nebula0 on October 16, 2008

At this point it seems appropriate to share a little of my story.  Things are always so much more interesting when given in some kind of personal context, at least they are for me.

Sociologists tell us that people are most likely to convert when they are at some kind of boundary which disassociates them from their own social networks.  So, adolescents first leaving home, those who have just moved to a new city, those who have just been divorced are all prime candidates.  Also, conversion tends to go hand in hand with the building of a new social network, people tend to become the religion of their new friends.  So it was that I converted after the first year I attended university, as predicted, but I broke the mold in that I came into the Mormon fold with no Mormon friends.

Here is what happened.  I grew up with no religion.  My parents didn’t talk about God at all, neither pro nor con religious belief.  My interest in religion seemed to arise spontaneously, I’m still not sure where it came from, as a teenager.  Like many teenagers, I became intensely interested in those Ultimate Questions: what is the meaning to life?  why does anything exist? and so on.  My answer to that question took two forms, an interest in physics as the most basic of sciences and an interest in religious belief.  I figured that the real way to answer this question was through the most fundamental of sciences, in which I could understand and approve of every step and through which I could touch the deepest structures of reality.  I determined that I would become a physicist and answer my questions. 

On the other hand, I was intensely curious as to how others answered the Ultimate Questions and began to study religious beliefs.  I read through the Bhagavad Gita, Rig Veda, Tao te Ching, Qur’anand ultimately the Bible (among others)- in the limited way available to an adolescent just starting out the process of scholarship.  My initial curiosity then fed into my obsession with debate.  My interest in religion took another form too, that of a deep desire to talk to God.  I can’t explain where this came from without invoking the existence of God.  I didn’t want to believe in God, I thought it was foolish and weak, and yet I felt a physical pressure on my chest and in my hands to pray.  I had to fight it.  I remember finally giving into the temptation one night, on my hands and knees begging for forgiveness and having the most extraordinary experience.  I felt weightless and my whole body tingled.  I felt lifted off the ground as if the hand of God were wrapped around me.  The next day I was so embarrassed at myself, I vowed that I would not pray unless I actually, really believed.  So I suppressed my urges for years.

When I went to the university to study physics I brought with it my secret obsession with religion.  Every chance I got I would debate Christians, street preachers, students.   I would challenge them all to prove to me that God existed and I quickly learned the basic four proofs for the existence of God and the holes in them all.  In fact it was through an evangelical sponsored event that I first ran into the Mormons.  All week evangelicals on campus gathered to a certain location to talk to other students about their religion, and so I came, every day, for hours.  I challenged them all to prove to me God exists.  Finally, on the last day, as I was about to leave, Mormon missionaries showed up.  I made my way over to them, curious.  I didn’t know much about Mormonism then and wanted to learn.  I asked them to prove to me that God existed, and I remember being impressed that they told me that they couldn’t.  I agreed to take the lessons, just to see what Mormonism was all about.

part 2 is coming…

Posted in My Experiences, sociological thoughts | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Back from Vacation…

Posted by nebula0 on September 19, 2008

Hello everyone, I’m happy to be back from vacation.  We all had a great time.  En route to our destination we drove past the Portland temple.  A year ago I would’ve felt a little nostalgic seeing it, a little regret, as my growing inactivity was rapidly spiraling into complete apostasy.  Now I didn’t feel anything at all.  I commented on the architecture and overall impression with the feeling of an outsider with no vested interest in it.  This trip I felt truly non Mormon, truly disconnected from the fold, and it’s a great feeling.  For me, being a Mormon was a little frantic, always using up mental energy trying to keep up my identity.  Maybe I never really was fully converted, not fully into the culture, and now I feel free to be myself all of the time.  I don’t police my thoughts, though I try to be reflective and become a better person, I don’t feel a need to fit the Mormon mold.  I don’t have to apologize for my Mormonism, try to explain to others just exactly how I fit in.  I believe what I believe and feel what I feel.  I am open to correction and improvement.  I am not open to be told how to be by an aged group of men in Utah trying to preserve their Mormon culture by recasting it as part of “the Gospel”.

Here are some of the things I felt apologetic about as a Mormon, things that I found deeply disturbing but nonetheless felt constrained to defend:

– the emphasis on obedience to leaders, or ‘sustaining our leaders’ as receiving inspired counsel from the Holy Ghost that we need to heed (can anyone say Animal Farm, how about 1984?)  Sure, get a confirmation for yourself, but you won’t get a ‘no’ answer, how convenient is that?

– Joseph Smith’s character- yes, he married already married women, married 14 year olds, and was an egomaniac who was Prophet, Seer, Revelator of the church, mayor of Nauvoo, Liutenant-General of the Nauvoo legion, presidential candidate, among other things

– The quality of the Book of Mormon.  It sucks, but I tried very hard to find deep meaning in it.  By “it sucks” I mean more specifically that it was all too obvious to me that it was the work of a single 19th C author and not the work of multiple ancient authors and as the work of that single, later author, it isn’t very good.

– Lack of evidence in general.  I know, I know, you can’t prove God exists in the first place, but you can at least provide evidence to chew on.  Mormonism is surprisingly devoid of evidence considering how many physical claims it makes.

– Calling teenaged boys ‘elders’, am I the only one to find this distasteful?

Well, there’s more, but those are the first few things to pop to mind today.

Posted in My Experiences, Reflections | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Thoughts on My Story

Posted by nebula0 on September 11, 2008

Well, tomorrow we’re going on a big road trip and I’ll be gone for a week and a half.  I know, I know, get out the tissues right?  I’m sure you’ll all miss my posts greatly…

Seriously though, I wanted to leave a sort of open post so that you all can use the opportunity to share ideas and debate and whatever else.  Do you have critiques of my site?  Are there posts that you’d like to see?  Pages that you’d like to see?  I have lists of ideas, and believe me, I’ll be bringing a notebook along with me to pen ideas as they come to me, but if there are things that people would like to read and debate about I’d be pleased as punch to be accommodating.

Religion is a tricky topic, and I find myself tempted to always slip back into the postmodernist mode of “well, we can’t really know anything about it can we?  I mean, aren’t all opinions on the topic really as good as any others?”   The great revelation that I’ve had in the past several months is that there really is a Reality out there, I mean, there really is, and that frankly some religions are better at reflecting that Reality than others. 

Let me share the moment with you that I realized that I am no longer a Mormon.  I was about doing my ordinary tasks, I remember it was evening time, and it suddenly just hit me.  It was very sudden and surprising, I just said to myself “I believe in God”.  This probably seems trite to you, I mean, as a Mormon didn’t I believe in God?  Here’s something that may be surprising to you: no, I didn’t really believe in God as a Mormon.  I wanted to believe in God, I hoped it was true, sometimes I came closer to belief than other times, but at the core, if you got to the deepest layer of my being you’d find there a deep skepticism.  Really it was my fundamental skepticism that allowed me to be a Mormon because I figured I didn’t know, and could never know even if I wanted to, the ultimate structure of Reality, so why not engage in whatever religion I wanted to?  Life was short, I said, might as well make the most of it, and if I think religious engagement enhances my life, why not?  Since I can’t know truth anyway, might as well.  So yes, I was surprised when I realized that I really do believe that God exists, at the core of my being.  I knew this because I acted as if the proposition “God exists” were true, that is, my automatic reaction to the good things in my life was to thank God.  More than this, I knew that I believe GOD exists, not heavenly father.  I’ve covered the significance of this distinction elsewhere (see: “Why does anything exist?”) so I won’t retread that ground this time, but when I knew I believed that the truly infinite and eternal God existed, that I was no longer a Mormon.  That was it.

Let me share some further reflections on my story.  As a Mormon I got engaged in lots of apologetics.  I loved defending Mormonism.  I went online to do it, I did it in real life with the missionaries, I did it participating with on campus events, and from an academic standpoint I gave lectures on it and did research papers on it.  I had a great time.  But, learning what I needed to learn to do all these things lead me to a few conclusions that I held as a faithful, active Mormon including: the Book of Mormon is only true in a non literal sense, that is, maybe Joseph Smith were inspired by God, but the Book of Mormon isn’t what it claims to be; Joseph wasn’t really visited by Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Moroni and the rest, but, that’s okay, what he said was true in some kind of loose, spiritual sense, not literal; the Book of Abraham was definitely not what it claimed to be; and so on.  Now it would seem to some of you that these conclusions would be enough to sever my ties with Mormonism, but consider what I said about my state of mind earlier- I didn’t think I could ever really believe in an absolute truth, so I might as well go with what seemed attractive or fun and for me, Mormonism was those things.

I believe that it is a gift from God that I am able to truly, and really, believe that He exists, I mean, really, whether I want Him to or not, whether I think about Him or not.  And, that means there is a Truth out there that matters, whether I like it or not.  The kind of belief I have now is so stable… it’s always there!  When I was a Mormon I went through periods of more or less belief in the system, I’d have these experiences which would increase my belief (not even sure what my belief was in exactly, even then) only to have severe doubts the very next day.  It was always fluctuating.  One day I’d be completely agnostic, the next I’d have moderate faith, and I figured that was as good as it could get.  But now, I believe in God every day.  How is this possible??  I believe God has given me the gift of faith, but has also illuminated my mind, so that even when I don’t ‘feel like it’ I still believe rationally.  This is why I advocate a whole person approach to religion: body, mind and spirit.  All of these must be in harmony together if we are to worship God with our whole person.  I could not embrace God with everything that I have in Mormonism, it just didn’t make sense, my mind revolted no matter how many times I felt the electricity running through me from a blessing or weightlessness or warmth come over me.  It could not engage my mind no matter how interesting I thought it was because in my heart of hearts I knew Joseph was a big fat liar.

Posted in My Experiences, Reflections | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

My Temple Experience, Afterword

Posted by nebula0 on September 4, 2008

The following doesn’t contain anything that should offend Mormon sensibilities concerning temple secrecy.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my first time through the temple these past couple of weeks.  I remember the palpable excitement that I felt for the couple of weeks leading up to that Saturday, so great that I had dreams about what the experience would be like.  I thirsted for more, something deeper and felt that I would get it in the temple.  It’s no secret that Mormon sacrament meetings and General Conferences tend to be snoozers, the exact same information is pored over again and again.  The lesson manuals for Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society meetings included blase quotations from past leaders over topics as riveting as paying tithing, what is faith, and magnifying your calling.  There isn’t a corpus of great theological thinking in Mormonism to draw on, and the everyday Mormon experience reflects that, at least it did for me and it left me parched.  By the time I made it to the Celestial Room in the temple was I satisfied?  I don’t know exactly.  I was befuddled.  Around me everyone was dressed so strangely, people I knew, I felt as if we were in another world- and I realized that perhaps that was part of the point.  What did satisfy me, then, was that I had little idea as to what I had just experienced.  What did it all mean?  I was happy to have a challenge, I was happy to know that I’d have to come back again and again on behalf of the dead to try to learn the ceremony well enough to glean understanding from it.  And, I did.  I lost count after a year.  For a while it was the most enjoyable thing to me about being a Mormon.  I liked being there, even though I wished they didn’t put fake plants in the chapel, how distracting is that?, but I liked the calm, I liked the whispers, I liked the mystery most of all.  And, I admit it, I enjoyed being a part of the club.  I liked knowing that I was one of the privileged few even amongst Mormons who knew exactly what happened behind those curtained windows and sliding glass doors.  I enjoyed the secret of the garments and began actively trying to make out garment lines on other Mormons that popped through their outer clothing.

When I consciously cut back on my activity in the LDS church, I missed the temple most of all, but my doubts about the historical and theological underpinnings about Mormonism restrained me from going even though I had a recommend in my wallet.  When they switched to the barcode format for the temple recommend cards, I did not get mine renewed.

So do I regret having put my story online?  No I don’t, not at all.  One thing that has become clear to me is that the secret of the temple kept me active in the church for longer than I would have stayed with out it.  I enjoyed the club and the mystique and the mystery enough that I ignored my growing doubts about the the truth claims of Mormonism.  The temple isn’t the only element of my life that encouraged me to put aside my doubts, at least for a moment, but it was an element.  My hope is that by providing specifics that the curiosity of others can be quenched so that they can look at Mormonism face to face and not have the mystique and allure of secrecy blur their view as it did mine.

The other reason I have chosen to post my story online and so aid the normalization of temple secrecy is to quench the fires of sensationalism.  People are not being harmed psychologically or otherwise through these ceremonies.  Discomfort should not be equated with abuse as it too often is when ex Mormons think back on their experiences.  It was unusual and confusing, no doubt, but it was not sinister.

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