Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's fun to be an exmo!

In honor of my radio interview, Ray Agostini was kind enough to write a post here on things I've posted about how cool the exmo community is, and about how much fun it is to be an exmo!!!

Now you may be asking yourself "What's cool about having been part of an organization that is full of institutionalized sexism, racism, and homophobia, one which is actively fighting for public discrimination against homosexuals, one whose culture has emphatically embraced consumersim, not to mention that whole polygamy can 'o worms?" But the thing is that as an exmo -- a non-believer -- you're not obligated to convince yourself that any of those things are good (or inspired by a supposedly loving God, etc.). Instead, you can offer constructive criticism on such points as a friend and family member while focusing on what's fun about being a part of the Mormon experience!

Here's one thing I like about it:

Being part of Mormonism is like being from an exotic foreign country with its own history, traditions, culture, and even language to some degree! (or jargon at least...) Let's face it: being a white person from midwest U.S.A. is, well, a little bland. And (no offense, Christians, but) what is more boring than being from mainstream Christian stock like everybody else? Compare that to following the "American Mohammed" into the new world religion and looking back on making the trek across the plains to the wild west. And now, generations later, we have all that and mountains of jello jokes!!

What more could you want? :D

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Me & P.Z!!!

I met P. Z. Myers this morning when he and I were both guests on Atheists Talk!!! I had a total blast!!! I could write all about it here, but why not just listen for yourself? The podcast is (or will be) available here.

So if you were wondering what I sound like, here's your chance to find out! And as a bonus, you can find out what C. V. Rick sounds like (since he called in with a question), not to mention Tangled Up in Blue Guy (the host of the show) and Bjorn (who interviewed me). The other person in the above picture is Lynn Fellman, who interviewed P. Z.

Note to my LDS readers: my interview was pretty Mormon-friendly -- download it and see for yourself. My mom even said I did a good job!!!

(How'd my mom find out I was going to be on Atheists Talk Radio? Not sure, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I publicly announced it on my blog...)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mormons: "If it's a sex scene, then it's gratuitous"

Or "I was kidding, yet I was serious..."

Remember way back when I wrote the following in the disclaimer for my atheist sex scene?

Second of all, why did I call this scene "gratuitous"? In a novel called Exmormon, it's naturally an in-joke about Mormonism. Mormons aren't supposed to watch R-rated movies because of all the sex (although the violence is less of a problem for them, as I discussed here), and I'd heard too many people say things like "It would have been a good movie if only they'd cut out that one scene". You don't even have to have watched the film to know what scene they're talking about: it's the sex scene. And, really, whether the scene was integral to the story is irrelevant -- for Mormons, every single story that has a sex scene would be improved by cutting all the sex scenes out.

I'll bet you thought I was just kidding, didn't you?

Well, following the links from some discussion of Angel Falling Softly, I found this gem:

My sister asked me once why I read so many mindless LDS fiction books. My answer to her was that I really hate reading a book, turning the page and being smacked in the face with gratuitus scenes. In LDS fiction, one does not have to worry about that, no matter how insipid the story may be.

Okay, maybe you didn't doubt me to begin with, but I still think it's funny... ;^)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Now where is that crazy spike in my stats coming from?

Oh yeah, here. :D

This is the coolest thing ever!!! On Sunday I'm going to be interviewed by Atheists Talk Radio, and guess who will be on the same program!

I'll give you a hint: it's P. Z. Myers!!! I am so psyched!!! I'd been hoping to have the opportunity to meet him during this trip to Minnesota, so please excuse my even-worse-than-usual overuse of exclamation points. ;^)

On vacation...

Here are a few updates on my current vacation status:

* I've been hanging out with my brother John (and Mike and Leandro -- if you've forgotten what they look like, see men in kilts), and I just learned that John has been added as a permablogger on the #1 Mormon blog By Common Consent. Shows how I'm paying attention! I wasn't even subscribed to that one, so I had no idea. I guess I'll be adding it to my sidebar and my RSS reader...

* I want to post some funny stories for you guys, but since I'm back in the land of books printed in English, I've been busy with something of a book orgy. I have now purchased a gigantic mountain of books to bring home, and at the same time I'm trying to read as many books as possible from my parents' library while I'm here (since those books aren't coming home to Switzerland with me). I just finished Carol Lynn Pearson's Good-bye, I Love You this morning. So while I'm occupied with reading, I'm just going to have to do the lazy blogger thing and send you over to my sister's blog again -- she's a good photographer and has been chronicling the whole family's adventures in real time.

* I'd like to have a Minnesota exmo blogger real-life get-together. I know of at least two here in Minnesota and one in Iowa who have expressed interest. Anyone who'd like to join in the fun, please email me at the usual address: chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com.

Back to my book and deck chair -- see you!!! :D

Friday, July 18, 2008

Great moments in visiting the parents (episode I)

My mom and dad have planned a really fabulous outing for all their grandkids to have fun getting to know each other and build some memories together. This morning my mom was telling the kids about all the plans:

Grandma: Then we'll have a scavenger hunt! Do you know what a scavenger hunt is?
Nico: Yes! It's when you eat dead animals.
Grandma: ????

This is when I started laughing uncontrollably in the other room, then came in to help clarify.

Apparently the kid's picked a lot of vocabulary words from his nature documentaries. ;^)

My sister has already posted pics of the outing on her blog here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've arrived!

Yes, I'm now blogging to you live from Minnesota!!!

Like last time, my first stop was to check out the bookshelves, and see if my parents have gotten any interesting new books. Here's the first pass:

I found the copies I'd given them of my first Java book -- and I discovered they'd shelved them just a few books away from Ann Coulter's How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)! I've brought a copy of the my new Java book, and now I'm debating whether I should give it to them or not... ;^)

But -- crazily enough -- that wasn't the worst juxtapositional heresy I discovered! I found that next to their dusty, many-decades-old copy of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, there are now some new novels from the "Left Behind" series.

Oh, and word to the wise: If I'm ever visiting your house, be sure to arrange your books in a humorous way. It makes the whole visit so much more entertaining! :D

Monday, July 14, 2008

Minnesota here I come!!!

Right back where I started from!
Open up those frozen gates
'cause Minnesota here I come!

Yep, I'm going back to the U.S. for the first time in years! I haven't been back at all since I started blogging. Way back in the beginning of my blog, I wrote a little about my previous trip -- I sure hope my flight goes better than last time!!

To get a taste of what I'm jumping into, you can review my post about the time I met up with the family in Scotland: This will be fabulous!!! or a total disaster.... (We all remember how it went...)

Wish me luck!!! :D

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mormon Zero on Exmormon!!!

Mormon Zero has started a second blog Mormon Superstar devoted to "short stories, poems, movies, and books". Naturally, he's chosen to review Exmormon!

I'll post a bit as a teaser, and then you can go and read the whole thing:

Hanson’s book truly shines by being a "Mormon story" that is not crafted to show how one develops that perfect faithful idealism that Mormons call a testimony but how one who is striving to understand and develop such ideals gets caught up in one of a myriad of paths that Mormons refer to as "the ways of the world." This makes this book all the more enjoyable and the characters all the more relative. They aren’t perfect Mormons. In fact, one can come incredibly close to understanding an ex-mormon’s psyche by reading this book.


And, in other book review news:

I know, I know, it seems like only yesterday I was promising to lighten up a little on the book reveiws. But cut me some slack -- it's the weekend. ;^)

MoJo has reviewed Always Listen to the Ravings of a Madwoman (which I reviewed here).

And the 22nd Humanist Symposium is up, this time all about the importance of qustioning!!! (Including my review of book reviews post!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Look out for Mr. Stork...

Today my kids were watching Dumbo, and Nico asked me "Why do they sing 'Look out for Mr. Stork'?"

I remembered that Dumbo has a cute number in the beginning where storks are bringing babies to all of the animals in the circus

"That's a little complicated," I said, trying to figure out how to explain that some parents -- instead of telling their kids the real story of the how babies are made -- like to make up crazy stories about storks, cabbage patches, etc.

So I just said, "In this movie, instead of babies being born, they're delivered by storks."

Nico thought about that for a second, then said "yeah."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Just write it down

One of the craziest things I discovered when I was first learning French was that the French have laws about what you can and can't name your kids. They've relaxed the laws a bit in the past few years, but it used to be that you had to choose the given names from a big list (of Catholic saints) and the kid's last name was determined by a simple algorithm: it's the same as the last name of whichever parent gets to city hall first to declare the baby's birth. (The dad has a bit of an advantage here, not being stuck in a hospital bed.) Or, if the parents are legally married, then the kid would get the father's last name.

Also, under normal circumstances you can't change your own name at all. I think they grant a special exception if your last name is "La Merde" or something, but I'm not certain. Actually, there is one exception: If you're a woman and you get married, then you weren't allowed to not change your name.

This whole idea took me completely by surprise. How could it be the state's business to choose what you can and can't be called? I understand that there are legal reasons to keep track of people's identities (for example, I think in the U.S. if you want to change your name you typically have to declare that it's not for the purpose of hiding from creditors or the law). But it seems like it should be the individual's (or family's) job to select the name, and the government's job to just make a note of it.

I was thinking about this the other day with respect to gay marriage.

The thing is that the marriage-type relationship exists in every human society. If you go to another country, you'll meet plenty of couples that you perceive as "married" -- even if in their country they use a different word, and even if their country's legal documentation for marriage is totally unfamiliar or non-existent. Sure, the corresponding rights and responsibilities vary from one culture to the next just as the behavior of parents towards their children varies from one culture to the next. But the relationship itself -- to be someone's spouse -- you understand it as intuitively as you understand what it means to be someone's brother or someone's mother.

Legal identity documents (for birth, adoption, marriage, death, etc.) can have some effect people's perceptions and behavior. For example, if a French person doesn't like being named after a Catholic saint and decides to ask all his friends and colleagues to call him "Rainbow Appleseed" or something, he'll discover this is a huge pain in the butt to explain every time he has to fill out any forms (a surprisingly frequent occurrence in France). I learned this lesson myself, actually. As a young, idealistic American feminist, I decided that I wanted to keep my own name rather than taking my husband's (because your name is your identity!) But after less than a year in France, my laziness won out over my principles and I took to just introducing myself as "Madame husband's name" in all situations except my own work. Legally I never did change my name, but French forms -- instead of having one "last name" slot -- have separate lines for "maiden name" and "husband's name". So I fill out these lines accurately and Voila ! -- the fact that my husband's name doesn't appear on my U.S. passport becomes a minor technicality...

But what is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I think that people who say "the solution is for the government to get out of marriage altogether" are missing the boat. The underlying kinship relationships exist whether the government writes them down or not, and a society that needs legal identity/kinship documents such as birth, death, and adoption certificates has an interest in correctly documenting marriages as well. There are a number of rights and responsibilities that follow from kinship relationships (inheritance, immigration, next of kin, etc.), and "spouse" is a kinship relation that is as fundamental as "parent" or "sibling."

Similarly, those who think they can keep couples from being married -- just by denying them the word "marriage" or the legal recognition for it -- are deluding themselves. Sure, you can make life inconvenient for some couples by making them go back to doing it the old-fashioned way: by declaring their commitment in front of witnesses (without the corresponding legal identity papers).

And it's true that by restricting marriage documents (in a society that normally uses them), one can create a host of minor-to-major problems for the families that aren't legally documented. But it won't change the underlying reality of which couples are married according to the common perception of what it means to be married. It's just a question of cleaning up the paperwork.

see also Discrimination against homosexuals: why? why? why??? and Why? Why? Why??? II

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Blogroll cleanup/roundup!

I've just finished the usual maintainence on Outer Blogness (and the Main Street Plaza blogroll), updating links, deleting dead links, etc. I was sad to see some popular blogs disappear into the realm of "invitation only," but the good news is that I've added some interesting new finds: Dancing with Crazy, by Emily Pearson (daughter of the famed Carol Lynn), The Waiting Line by fellow-Minnesotan wren, and Spotlight on Mormonism by Ray Agostini.

As usual, if you know of any blogs by former Mormons that I don't already have listed in Outer Blogness, please leave a comment giving me the URL. Ditto for anyone (Mormon, exmo, or nevermo) who is a regular reader who would like to be included in my blogroll (or tell me if I have your link wrong or miscategorized, etc.). Don't forget that supporting Outer Blogness by including the link in your own sidebar is always encouraged -- the script to include in your sidebar is there on the Outer Blogness page. ;^)

And on a somewhat unrelated note, the 95th Carnival of the Godless is up at The Atheist Blogger!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mom and Dad do it? Eeew!

Nico really loves the deep ocean documentaries where scientists take a submersible into the dark zone and keep finding all sorts of bizarre species unlike anything humans have seen before. "Only 2% of the deep sea has been explored!" he tells us -- and he's intent on helping explore the rest.

Thoughtful kid that he is, however, he was concerned about what his parents will do while he and Léo are off on a long undersea voyage. We won't have any kids to keep us occupied! So he suggested that while they're gone we should have another kid. Here's his plan: Mommy, Nico, and Léo would go to the beach where Nico and Léo would find the submersible, and "we'll bring Daddy to the beach too so he can fertilize you once again." (Imagine this line in BBC English...)

So I've found a new surprise in my adventures in science and sex ed: apparently being grossed-out by the very idea of your parents' sexuality isn't universal. When he was first learning about the idea of mating and reproduction, he once asked if his Daddy and I could demonstrate. (I was like "Hmm, maybe we could get you a book on human reproduction...")

My suspicion is that kids just don't start seeing body stuff as gross until adolescence. But it may also be because we've never taught our kids that any of their bits are bad or yucky or taboo...?

Anyone else have some ideas (or stories) about kids and their comfort level learning about the birds and the bees (and the whales)?