Monday, June 12, 2006

my excommunication

A lot of times people ask me why I haven't sent in my letter to resign from the LDS church. The main reason is they're not bothering me.

Plus, if fourteen years of non-participation on my part isn't sufficient for them to take a hint on their own and stop considering me a member, then all I can say to them is "Whatever, dude."

The other reason is that -- as entertaining as it must be to correspond with Greg Dodge's office -- I can't help but feel like it would be just that much funnier if they excommunicated me.

I can see it now...

*** screen goes all wavy as we cut to the imagination sequence ***

Judge of Love: Chanson, do you swear to be completely honest and truthful with this court?

chanson: I swear to be as truthful as Joseph Smith himself!!!

JoL: Is it true -- as you have posted to the Internet many times -- that you had sex in the library at BYU?

chanson: Duh, obviously. And if you guys are so interested in sex stories, there are plenty more where that one came from!!! Next question.

JoL: Is it true that you were already a closet non-believer when you started attending BYU?

chanson: Yes.

JoL: Yet you attended BYU and even graduated. Does this mean you lied on your ecclesiastical endorsement interviews?

chanson: That would be a logical conclusion, given the evidence.

JoL: But did you? Yes or no?

chanson: Funny story -- during each interview, an angel appeared and told the bishop I had been called to do an important work of writing racy stories involving BYU students, and hence the bish needed to sign my form without asking me any touchy questions. I remember thinking this was pretty cool but wondering why my patriarichal blessing said nothing about this calling if it was important enough for an angel to intervene. But, y'know, those patriarichal blessings are really hit-or-miss sometimes....

JoL: Is that a joke? Are you trying to be funny?

chanson: What do you mean? Are you saying that stories of angelic visitations are a priori absurd? I thought Mormons believed in angelic visitations...

JoL: We do, it's just that the now that the true gospel hierarchy has been restored, the Lord would have sent His message as a prompting to a priesthood holder with authority over you rather than sending an angel to appear to you in person.

chanson: Really? That's not what the angel told me. Maybe you can take it up with him. His name was Nephi.... No wait, Moroni.....


This was posted to Exmo-Social and RfM in July of 2005.

38 comments:

Rebecca said...

Did you go to church while at BYU? And why did you go to BYU if you already didn't believe (seriously just wondering -- not accusatory)? And how did you manage to get away with sex in the library? Hm, looks like I'm going to have to do a search on your blog...

C.L. Hanson said...

Did I go to church?

Yes, I had to -- I couldn't get an ecclesiastical endorsement otherwise. I didn't attend church during my senior year though since I didn't need to pas an interview to come back.

Why did I go?

Short answer: Because I'm an idiot, and at the time didn't have enough self-confidence to try to strike out on my own without my parents' help.

Long answer: My parents told me they'd give me no financial assistance to go anywhere else. Plus, I was a believer up until after the entire admissions process was over. So since I was completely certain the whole time that I wasn't going to attend anywhere else, I hadn't even applied anywhere else!!! (see "short answer" above...) I hadn't even taken the SAT because BYU didn't use it. So I figured that since my older brother was attending, I might as well go. How bad could it be? ;-)

How'd I manage to have sex in the library at BYU?

There was a rather large handicapped bathroom that had a door that locks the whole room (not just stalls). So just slip in one at a time...

(I think this is the first time I've posted about this on my blog, but I've posted this and other stories on the old exmo-social...)

Joseph's Left One said...

Great piece, chanson. I cannot imagine attending BYU under those circumstances.

SAM-I-am said...

They didn't bother me either when I lived in France. It took them less than six months to find me once I moved back to the U.S.

I had a golf coach in Singapore, who told me her mother was raised Mormon, and every time they moved the Mormons found them. I laughed and told her that somebody was informing the new bishop -- they don't hunt down lost members.

Oops! My bad. When they found me I blamed my stepmother...until I searched online and found a newspaper article about the Church's committee to look for lost sheep. It turns there are callings to search for missing member, online and through telephone directories, etc.

I should have taken my new husband's name, or at least used it in the phone book. Now I have to send in a letter taking my name off the records of the church. Mainly because I don't want my sons (children of record) harrassed for the rest of their lives by a bunch of fundamentalists.

noell said...

WAIT A SECOND! Do they harrass children of record?

I thought my children were safe, true non-Mormons. Not the case?

I'd really like to know for sure because I'm not interested in having my name removed either. . . but the children. The children!!!

Chanson-Now that you answered my first question about sex in the library (was that the famous bathroom for gay meet-ups, too?), I am curious about your deconversion. You were a believer all the way until after you got accepted the BYU. And then by the time you got there you weren't?

What was that? A few months?

C.L. Hanson said...

sam-i-am:

In my case, they knew where I was all through grad school (I think my parents forwarded my address) so the local ward sent me a visiting teacher and everything, which I didn't have a problem with since she was a friend (the wife of a fellow grad student) whom I was perfectly happy to have an excuse to visit with.

Then I moved to Paris, but I wasn't there long enough for them to find me.

At the end of my Paris adventure (see stalker), I moved back to New Jersey where they found me immediately (my mom admitted to having given them my address). The mishies stopped by, and I invited them in and explained that I was a member for the first seventeen years of my life but concluded it wasn't real. After all of that, plus the pleas of my loving family to try to believe, what are you two strangers going to say that will convince me? They basically said okay and left. I got a couple of half-hearted calls after that from the ward in the two years I lived in Princeton, but no biggie.

When I moved to Bordeaux, I told my mom not to give them my address again, otherwise I'd have no choice but to have my name taken off the records of the church. She respected my wishes, but then once I got involved in the exmormon Internet, I thought it might be interesting to meet with the mishies again, so I actively gave them my name and address.

After my latest adventure with them however (see The mishies and me II: the revenge) they don't seem terribly interested in contacting me any further....

Noell:

I doubt this was a bathroom for gay hookups because it was a one-person-at-a-time room and not a row of stalls where it's possible to wait and communicate with others. Of course I'm not gay, so I don't know how these things work...

I stopped believing when I was seventeen years old. I've posted about it a lot on RfM and exmo-social, but I don't think I've ever posted my deconversion story on my blog. The closest thing is probably this entry: "If the church weren't true, I'd be an atheist" and other things I learned in seminary.....

That's a pretty glaring omission for an exmo-themed blog, isn't it? I'll have to prepare a blog entry about my deconversion...

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I really enjoyed this post. Go get em. LOL

SAM-I-am said...

Noell,

My boys were "BIC" and "given a name and a blessing," both of which put them on the records of the Church. The church will not contact them if you forbid them to, but their names will be on every primary and sunday school roster, so all your
Mormon neighbor kids will know that they are inactive, even if they don't even remember having attended a Mormon church.

After they turn 18, they're on their own. I knew a guy in high school who was on the sunday school roll, but hadn't gone to church his whole life. After graduation, he found himself with nice new mormon friends who brought him into the fold. He was baptized and served a mission and was devout as of my 10yr H.S. reunion.

God only knows how his parents feel about that.

Rebecca said...

Yeah, the financial assistance thing is a pretty big deal. I totally get that. Did you go to church regularly at BYU? I think the bishop is supposed to revoke the endorsement if you go less than 80% of the time, but I've pretty much slipped through the cracks, and have gone 10, MAYBE 15 times since I've been here (and yes, I am inordinately proud of that).

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Rebecca!!!

I'm amazed you were able to get away with that!!!

Up until my last year, I attended every Sunday. As I recall I managed to avoid having too many callings, but I did whatever I was required to do in order to be a good Mormon.

For my final year, I would have attended church just to be on the safe side, but the problem was that I couldn't stand to live with my fellow BYU chicks for another year (in truth, I'm extremely picky about my personal space, plus ornery and disagreable), so I went to the local slum lord to get an illicit unapproved apartment. Then I couldn't be placed in a proper ward because it would be obvious that I was living in unapproved housing...

So I just hoped I'd graduate without a glitch and not need another interview...

Lucky thing it worked!!!!

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Ummm... when I was at BYU I did not deal with the endorsement. BUT I lived in unapproved apartments. They were sometimes cheaper. :-)

Sideon said...

Chanson - you are hysterical :)

Inquiring minds want to know: who was the sex-in-the-bathroom guy? Someone you were dating at the time?

I had friends who went on to attend BYU. They did not apply anywhere else, either. I knew, to the depths of my toes, that I'd never attend BYU.

I can't say I've ever had sex at BYU, let alone in Happy Valley. That's just not a notch in my belt that I'm too worried about.

C.L. Hanson said...

Thanks Cynthia and Sideon!!!

Cynthia -- mine wasn't so cheap for what it was, but at least I got a little privacy...

Sideon -- It was with my principal BYU boyfriend.

I'm planning to write a blog entry about him at some point because he was quite a character!!! :D

Kalvin said...

I love this, but they don't call it a church court anymore. It's a "disciplinary council", and I tried to get one. Hell, I had to go through a lot at basically threaten legal action to get the church to take my names of the records. I love your mentioning of angelic visitations. It's so funny how as missionaries were even told to look for angels, and yet if we said we saw one, they probably would have said it wasn't from god. Such kooks. So glad there is another feminist out there who is an ex-mormon. How are these mormon women just not getting it? How can anyone read that "Proclamation" of bigotry and stupidity and wonder, uh, why am I in this nefarious, evil, sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic organization.

Tom said...

Wow Chanson, we must have the same parents. Mine, (meaning my mom because she controlled everything) told me I'd get no financial assistance from them if I attended any school other than BYU. Even though I had my piano scholarships it wasn't going to be enough to cover all of my living expenses. I was good enough to have gotten into the music programs at Julliard or Oberlin but my nazi Mormon mom wanted me at BYU and that was the end of that conversation.

Unlike you I had no sex with anyone other than myself at BYU. I saved the good stuff for my mission. :-)

Rebecca said...

Ditto on being picky about personal space, and double ditto about being ornery and disagreeable. I CANNOT believe you managed to go to church every Sunday. Even when I was a believer I hated going. Have I ever told you - or written a post about - the fat-bashing Sunday School lesson? I know I've told someone (everyone??? Why can't I ever remember to whom I've told these stories?)... I'm going to have to search my blog to see if I've written about it. Truly horrifying.

C.L. Hanson said...

Thanks Kalvin!!!

I was happy to find your blog as well -- you can see that I've already added it to my collection. :D

Hey Tom!!!

That's really tragic your mom made you pass up such opportunities, and too bad about not gettting any at BYU, but I love your missionary story. :D

Everyone, this guy tells some beautiful stories from his own life here: Two Roads Diverged.

Hey Rebecca!!!

You may rest assured that I hated every minute of church at BYU, which is why I wrote this piece for the Student Review when I was a student there: Why I hate church. I just attended because I didn't want to get kicked out of school.

I think you told a story of a fat-bashing church lesson on your blog. One of these day's I'm planning to write a blog entry about Jack Weyland -- he has a couple of fat-bashing stories that will definitely get mentioned...

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Jack Weyland's son lived a couple doors down from me in the fishbowl apartment we lived in just off campus. All the girls had crushes on the son of JW because he was semi-famous with Jack as his dad. Shaking my head at the absurdity of it all.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Sister Mary Lisa!!!

That's so funny -- another Jack Weyland coincidence!!! One of the people I knew from exmo-social had him as her bishop.

Here's my Jack Weyland post BTW: Thoughts on Jack Weyland

Anonymous said...

Hey, I was "suspended" from BYU on an anonymous tip to the honor code office. Anyway, I just ran into a great anti-mormon video on Google that claims President Hinckley is bisexual. Click on comments and find the one that links you to the part of the video talking about Hickleys sexcapades with both girls and boys!
Go here: Google Video

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Anonymous!!!

That's too bad about your suspension, but not surprising. I had a boyfriend at BYU who had gotten suspended on the basis of things he said in a counseling session that he had thought was confidential...

GBH sexcapades with both boys and girls? Sounds a little far-fetched, but who knows... ;-)

INTJ Mom said...

I was at BYU in the early-mid 80s. I had good scholarship offers to several prestigious schools based off my ACT score, and my mom wouldn't even consider any of them. I was going to BYU and nowhere else, even though BYU only gave me a piddly little one year half tuition scholarship.

I grew up in the Phoenix area and if you were Mormon and your family had the money - you went to BYU - period. It was like heresy to even think about going somewhere else. And since I had skipped ahead in elementary school and didn't turn 18 until towards the end of my freshman year in college, I really didn't have much of a say about where I went since I was still a minor.

I found BYU to be a very insulting place. They were so overcontrolling of everyone, like they thought all the students were completely untrustworthy and would be having wild sex every night if the church/school didn't keep the students tightly under their thumbs. Most of the students I knew had no desire to break any of "the rules" to begin with. It was there that I really started to be suspicious of the Mormon religion.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey INTJ Mom!!!

To quote Star Wars: The more you tighen your grasp, the more starsystems will slip between your fingers... ;^)

Tom Clark said...

I love this story Chanson. Your fabulously droll sense of humour comes spilling out here like a breath of fresh mountain air in spring. Truth be told though, poking fun at Mormons is a lot like shooting fish in a barrel, oui`? I usually do it anyway just because I can and because part of the fun is the fact that it's so easy.

I love my Mormon family but their religion is anaethema to me. It's a tricky balance - my mom kept giving the info as to my whereabouts to the church until I finally had to resign my membership in exasperation: "No you can't come in and talk to me - my boyfriend and I were about to have sex and you totally interrupted things. You see this boner? It's not going to last forever, now get lost."

My mom wanted to know why I would resign my membership, why I would do such a thing. I asked if she had a few hours, perhaps a few days, for me to explain things. She said I wasn't going to be able to be with her and the rest of the family in the celestial kingdom. I stifled a laugh and said, "Exactly mom. The last thing on earth I want is to be stuck for eternity with a bunch of mormons on kolob. Since we're not going to get to be together in the CK then let's make the most of what we've got now and enjoy the hell out of each other right here and now!"

She hasn't bothered me with the matter since. And we totally are enjoying the hell out of each other these days.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Tom!!!

I think you're right that dealing with family is one of the biggest factors in deciding whether to actively resign one's membership. I'm glad to hear that you and your mom are getting along well these days -- I love your stories of her from when you were growing up in Rome!!! :D

Birke said...

this is so like me. I go to BYU-Idaho and have not gone to church the whole time. whenever the bishop shows up at my house or whatever i chat with him a bit and thats as far as it goes. he thinks i work weekends at walmart. i go here cuz its so dirt cheap. fir me, its worth putting up with crazy people for a BA.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Birke!!!

Well, I can relate. Good luck!!!

wren said...

gay hookups in the bathroom @ byu? As a resident of the twin cities, home of the infamous MSP airport bathrooms I have to ask, are you sure those students just don't have a "wide stance" like Senator Craig?

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Wren!!!

I'm sure there were gay hookups in the bathrooms at BYU, but the straight ones are the only ones I have any first-hand knowledge of. ;^)

That's cool that you're in the Twin Cities -- I'll be there myself in a couple of weeks! :D

Lilly de Nalish said...

I'm having a lot of fun reading your blog, as an exmo myself! I went to BYU for my first year and a half of college, but the whole atmosphere of "the Y" soured me on the mormon experience. I managed to skate through the ecclesiastical endorsement to stay for the second year, but I got expelled after the fall semester in 05 because I stopped going to church. My stake president told me that I was a liar for not going to church and I was taking up space. In the end, getting kicked out was probably for the best.

It's always good to hear what other people out there are doing!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Lilly!!!

Great story!!! I'd like to add you to Outer Blogness if you don't mind. :D

Lilly de Nalish said...

I'm honored to be added to your blogroll. But please be aware that I don't post much, and most of it is nonsense!

C. L. Hanson said...

Glad to have you aboard!!! :D

leisurelyviking said...

My parents wanted me to go to college in Utah, and made me apply to BYU, but I got full tuition scholarships at Utah State and they had a good natural resources program. Plus, I have this crazy attraction to guys with facial hair, so BYU would never have worked.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey LeisurelyViking!!!

Yeah, if I'd had any sense, I'd have done something like that. I should at least have applied somewhere else in attempt to see if I could open up some other possibilities.

p.s. Can I add your blog to Outer Blogness?

Anonymous said...

I am very sad that you all feel this way. At one point you all knew that it was true. You then were tempted and succumbed and then became desensitized to the spirit. You may not even remember. Also those people in the church look you up because they care about you and it breaks their heart to see you fall. We have missionaries for a reason, they simply want everyone to know what they know. They have love and want everyone to know the happiness they feel. You should give them a break. Try to remember a time when you felt the spirit and how happy you were. Have you felt such happiness since then. I am talking about true happiness that comes from love of your family and love from God that fills your whole soul. I have felt that love and there is nothing in comparison to it. There is nothing that feels better. I know that. I am grateful for that. You probabally did at one point too. Good luck to you all and know that there are still members of the church that love you.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Anonymous!!!

Thanks for your concern!

The thing is that you don't really know me, so it's not clear that you can legitimately claim that you know I was happier as a believer. It looks like you're just going on the principle that everyone is happier as a believing Mormon than they would be as an atheist.

I'm not convinced. Mormonism is a bit of a one-size-fits-all religion, and as such, it fits some better than others. If you're seriously concerned about my welfare, then I'm sure you'd be happy to learn a little more about my perspective to see where I'm coming from. I promise that this is not anti-Mormon material to lead people away from the faith but rather is a story that describes some of the experiences and mindset of those who were raised Mormon and no longer believe. Believers have read it and agree that it's useful for this purpose. Start here.

Carla said...

*sigh* I so regret not having such fun experiences on my college campus. My husband's just not as adventurous as I am! haha