From Krasnaya Koshka – an American living in Saint Petersburg, Russia — and Professor Myers, you are better than pelmeni! I thank you for being you.
My grandparents on my father’s side were “lapsed” Mormons but they were very adamant I–being the first grandchild–be unlapsed Mormon. Maybe to make up for their unbridled smoking, drinking and gambling. I so loved playing craps and poker with my 21 great aunts and uncles and my grandparents I had no choice but be plopped into Primary. They made it sound great!
My mother is from Germany and was lapsed Lutheran. She told me when I was quite young that it was all stories but maybe I should adopt it to make my father’s family happy. “Gemütlichkeit.” I was mostly concerned with Mom’s feelings. Okay then, off to Primary I go! By myself.
It was strange being four/five years old and in church alone. I got my PTL ring and was really quite proud. I was a lonely “sunBEAM” but there are worse things to be. I saw popcorn poppin’ on the apricot tree. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the waaaay, teach me all that I may learn to live with Him one day. Mormons have super catchy children’s tunes, I’ll admit.
I was honestly quite bewildered by the Mormons but I loved the attention. A small child dumped off alone is bound to cause a stir. One day, Bobby Ball smashed my face into the drinking fountain and I bled all over my yellow dress. It was the day after someone ran into the fence of the Temple so I went home with bloody dress, spouting, “That drunk who hit the sacred Temple is going to hell!” My mother yanked me right out of Primary. I never went back. I traded my PTL ring for a Dolly Madison chocolate pie.
I never understood what religion was for. My mom told me when I was 12 and curious, “Go to all the churches nearby and see if anything fits.” So I did. It was all very interesting but still made no sense to me. That’s when I first read the entirety of the KJV. I read it the same time I read “Roots” by Alex Hailey. I must say, the two side by side made me sick. I was horrified.
So religion never made any sense to me. It made me a post-kindergarten bigot and made me ill, but it never made sense.
The Church of Latter Day Saints being right across the street from my high school and the fact that they had basketball tournaments for young women and the fact that I was a jock in high school brought me right back to the place where I’d ditched Primary, ten years earlier. All my friends were Mormon. I was in the church more in high school than I had been ever before.
I was asked to be a “Special Counselor” (“special” meaning I was half-born Mormon but horribly lapsed) at Camp LoMia the summer of my sophomore year, and I agreed. Camp LoMia was the all girl Mormon summer camp and my humongous crush would be there (who was a notorious lesbian) so I’d be idiotic to refuse. (I was also quite a notorious lesbian at my high school at that point.) Before I could go, however, there was the necessity of a private counsel with Deacon Bigler. Okay.
I was very familiar with Deacon Bigler because he had lived across the street from us since I was two years old. He was the rat bastard who beat my little brother with a baseball bat (plastic, but still) for accidentally knocking over a cat litter box. I had babysat his five children many, many times. The last time I had not gotten paid because I’d brought a Coke can into his house. I’d forgotten about his “root beer only” thing. I disliked the guy. Well, no, not really “dislike”, I just thought he was a hot house flower (my mom’s term for anyone who can’t make it outside of their own controlled environment).
I met with Deacon Bigler in a tiny office at the church after school. He asked me, “Why do you want to be a Special Counselor?” I was not daft enough to answer, “Because Marla Denim will be there”, of course, so I said, “To commune with nature.”
“I presume you mean ‘to commune with God’.”
“Oh yeah, sure.”
“I’ve heard things about you. Maybe you’re not on the righteous path. Maybe I shouldn’t let you go.”
Criminy, hot house flower, do you know what high school lust is? Marla will be there! I just remained quiet.
He then proceeded to tell me the story of his deep love for his deacon, as a teenager, and how they slept together many times, in really vivid detail. (This was not a first for me–after coming out, I was inundated with adults spilling their homosexual exploits out to me. Deacon Bigler’s “news” to me was really old news.)
“But I chose God’s path. I think you will, too.” So I was allowed to go.
If I’d ever fancied a god of any sort, it was knocked out of me by the rampant hypocrisy all around me.
Since then, religion makes me laugh, except when it pisses me off. That the Mormons forked so much money over to “defend marriage” when I know of two gay Deacons in the church really fucking infuriates me. Maybe Deacon Bigler wasn’t gay? I ran into him in the airport of my hometown not one year ago. This is what transpired:
“I see you haven’t changed.” His words to me.
“I am who I am.”
“I regret everything.”
“No, I regret it.”
“Okay. I have to pee before I get on my plane.”
“I made a mistake.”
“I understand. We all do at many points in our lives.”
“My… friend Deacon __________ died.”
“Ah, I see. I’m so very sorry to hear that. I know how much he meant to you.”
“And… I think you know, I think you understand….”
“But you’re still Mormon and still tithing?”
“I have to catch my plane.”
I’m not sure why NOW, when he’s over 60 and I’m over 40, I should just allow him to be regretful—to me.
Mormons made my being an atheist essential and then ‘sealed’ it many times over. I really feel sorry for the people ambered in religion who cannot break out. You have one life and you live it in regret?
I am proud to be an atheist. To be moral. To be honest. And to have few regrets (my regrets are tiny in comparison). There is nothing better in this world than living true to yourself.