Friday, November 23, 2012

Ex-Mormons in the Making

Sometimes when I'm hanging out with my family, they make snarky little comments that fill me with this probably false hope that they will eventually leave the church.

My oldest sister was telling a story a few days ago about how she'd intentionally kept a library book a day past its due date because she only had thirty pages left and she wanted to finish it before taking it back.  But when she returned it the next day, knowing she owed a fine of maybe five cents, the lady at the library kept saying the computer didn't say she owed anything.

At this point, my other sister chimed in sarcastically, "It's probably because you pay your tithing."
This, of course, was a deliberate mockery of your classic Sunday school story about a family without enough money to pay the bills that decides to pay their tithing anyway and then magically receives a check for what they needed in the mail.  I thought it was funny.  And I have a feeling that, had that line been delivered in an exclusively ex-Mormon group, it would've gotten a big laugh.

The attitude behind the comment, though, gave me that little sliver of hope.  My family can be very critical of the church and especially its members.  Comments like my sister's are not out of place in our family discussions.  But somehow, despite all their complaining about flaws in the church, they attribute them to flawed individuals and refuse to see the flaws within the organization itself.  They complain about the church often, but they believe it unquestioningly.

It's frustrating.

One of my sisters also complained about a marriage class that her bishop had invited her to attend with her husband.  She said that the teacher had turned it in to what appeared to be a poorly-run group therapy session in which couples were supposed to discuss and confront their relationship problems in the class.  My other sister said it was "not right," and my dad called it "clearly inappropriate" and suggested she tell her bishop.  She said the bishop wouldn't listen because he was too attached to the idea of the marriage class.  But nobody seems to think that this behavior demonstrates a lack of divine guidance on any level of the local leadership.

She also complained about how this class was not a Sunday school class, but a separate class held on Sunday evenings.  She said that between her callings and her husband's callings, they spent ten hours a Sunday at the chapel and they thought it was ridiculous to be expected to come back to church again after dinner every week.  She complained that the church had made it so that she didn't have time for everything.  But nobody seemed to think that this was indicative of a corrupt, cultish organization trying to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of its members while giving them no time to have any kind of identity other than "Mormon."

It's at once encouraging and crushingly depressing to see them find so much fault with the church yet fail to make that last jump from malcontent to disillusionment. 


  1. The church is perfect, even if its members aren't...

    In order to get them to realize that the inverse is far closer to the truth (most Mormons are decent/well-intentioned people twisted by emotional abuse), you need to show them how the moral/epistemological environment created by the church cultivates hypocrisy and shallowness.

    1. Easier said than done.

      Although I'm open to suggestions. I think if my family left the church, my life would actually improve a lot.