Introducing “When I Was Mormon”

Welcome to a new project of mine — a blog I’m calling When I Was Mormon. I thought it’d be worth a quick breakdown, just so there’s no confusion as to what I’m setting out to do.

So here it is — When I Was Mormon, explained in 8 bullets:

  1. I was Mormon for roughly 26.5 of my 29.75 years. That’s close to 90 percent of my life to date. I think that’s something to account for — something to get reacquainted with, to explore, and to reclaim. That’s why I’m doing this.
  2. What this is not: an angry, anti-Mormon rant. Nor is it the opening line to a series of amusing, laugh-at-religion anecdotes. And it most certainly isn’t a glowing, fond remembrance of my days in Mormonism. What is it then? A 100-day project responding to the prompt “when I was Mormon . . .” Each post will be brief, a creative exploratory piece on what it was like for me to be Mormon — and what it means for me now to have been Mormon. It’s a mixed bag, so expect a little of everything. Beautiful memories, as well as painful ones. Embarrassing confessions. Thoughtful re-toolings. Musings on once-accepted doctrines. Then-and-now life-style comparisons. And, of course, laments that I went so long before knowing the joy of my morning cup of coffee!
  3. When I say brief I mean 150 words or less. That leaves me little room for explanation. That’s intentional. I hope 150 words pushes me to be less explanatory and more poetic; less wordy, more meaty; less reasoned, more emotive. Where I think further context is helpful or of interest, I will post it in the blog post’s comments section. And always feel free to ask for more context where none is given.
  4. This is delicate material, to be sure. I’ve got family and friends spread across the spectrum of belief (and lack thereof), all of whom I hope will read When I Was Mormon — and feel welcome and comfortable doing so. So let’s do this: I’ll try not to offend, and you’ll try not to be offended. Deal? This means I won’t set out to attack and belittle anyone or their beliefs, nor to present myself as “enlightened” or superior to anyone else. And this means that you will read this blog in light of what I intend it to be — a chance to remember, to explore, to express, and to share — and not as an attempt to undermine you or what you hold dear.
  5. Point 3 notwithstanding, I will be honest in expressing how I feel and what I’ve experienced. No matter where you may be coming from, I ask you to please understand that this is honestly what I feel and what I have experienced. In return, I will try to always to keep in mind that my feelings and experiences are only my own — and that they do not represent what you or anyone else feels or has experienced.
  6. What’s the point? What exactly do I hope to accomplish? On a personal level, I’m hoping to reacquaint myself with a former me. After all, that when-I-was-Mormon me can’t help but continue to influence this writing-a-blog-and-living-in-Seattle me. But it’s just too damn easy to disassociate myself from the me who knelt in prayer before bed every night, the me who didn’t watch R-rated movies and who longed so badly to get married in the temple. Too easy to ignore, to forget, to pretend it was a dream. Too easy to dismiss it all as not really me. But life is so short as is, and I can’t afford to write off so much of my own. So I’m going back — in an act of reclamation — to (re)collect those memories I have of being Mormon and to weave them into the narrative of who I am now, as best I can. That’s what this is for me. And for all of you who join me in this endeavor? I hope it will shed some light on — and complicate any ideas you may have about? — what it means to be Mormon or for someone to leave Mormonism. That goes for those who believe and those who don’t, for those who are familiar with Mormonism and those who aren’t. I also hope (if this isn’t too much to hope for) that the experience will be beautiful — for you and for me.
  7. A note about the was in When I Was Mormon: my name, as far as I know, is still on the records of the church. I haven’t made the effort to have it officially removed. Many active Mormons would therefore consider me an “inactive member of the church” — in other words, still Mormon, though a Mormon who may have temporarily strayed from the fold. I, however, reject the notion that an institution (in this case, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has the power or the authority to determine what I am or am not. Thus the title When I Was Mormon stands.
  8. I could just do this exercise in isolation, all for myself in a journal. But this is a public project for a reason. I want to talk with you about this stuff! So please comment and share your thoughts on these posts, through Facebook or here on Medium — or both! I look forward to hearing from you.

I hope that explains it all! Check out Post 1 and let me know what you think.

Yep, I was a total badass Mormon missionary. Okay, not really. I actually felt sort of guilty about this: posing with a cigarette taken from someone we were teaching not to smoke. Not guilty enough to delete the photo, though! Thank heavens. :) When I was Mormon!