The Tumble Outta Eden

Genesis 3: The Fall of Man

So, reading about the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, this is what I was thinking about and focusing on.

In vs. 16, Eve is given the consequences of eating the fruit.  Specifically, God says that He will “greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Continue reading

Getting Married Was My Biggest Mistake-And I’m So Glad I Made It

I got married for all the wrong reasons.  I was 19, and for the first time in my life I was in a relationship with someone who was brilliantly smart, incredibly handsome, strong, and kind.  I was new to the Mormon church, and he was a newly returned missionary when I met him.  I was in awe of how much he knew about the gospel, and how all that knowledge seemed so effortless.  It was just a part of who he was.

I remember the first time I saw Kullervo—it was at church and I thought he must have been the cutest boy ever.  I said that I’d marry him someday.  It took my first semester of college pining after him before I went home for Christmas break and decided to give up and not waste all of college with a crush on a boy who wasn’t interested.  When I came back to school, though, he asked me out.  And I said yes.

The next few months were a whirlwind.  We spent all of our time together that we could.  His family was so nice to me and made me feel like a part of the family.  He was still so smart and so lovely—total eye and brain candy for me.  Of course I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him!

But… what did I know?  I was just barely out of high school!  I was in a new town, in a new church, in a whole new life.  We got married that summer—as soon as the church would let us marry in the temple—and everything was wonderful.  Then the fighting started.  We were young, neither of us had had a lot of relationships, and we had to sort of figure it all out on our own.  We fought about everything—whether to get butter or margarine at the grocery store, how often we should be having sex (it turns out that five times a day just isn’t sustainable no matter how attracted you are to each other!), what we did in our spare time.  I think some people close to us were certain that we wouldn’t still be married after the first year was up.

Over the years, some of those disagreements we have resolved (we buy butter and margarine), and some still plague us (we always fight about driving directions).  More important than what we fight about is how we fight.  Being married to Conner taught me how to resolve a conflict.  Growing up, when I would fight with my sisters, we would be mad at each other until we made each other laugh… and then we would never talk about what we’d fought about.  I don’t know that I’ve ever resolved a fight with my sisters—we’ve just moved on.  So we probably would still fight about the same issues as we did when we were kids.  (Luckily, I rarely fight with my sisters because we live too far for it to matter too much, and they’re both awesome.  I never fight with my brother because he’s not the fighting kind.)

So we survived the first year, and our marriage was strong.  We moved—first to Tallahassee, and then to New York.  We struggled to get pregnant… and then pregnancy surprised us when we were no longer trying (and at a fairly inconvenient time, I might add).   We were sure that having a baby would change everything, but we really just had no idea.  We had been married for five years, and we were so used to being just us.   Having that change was a really difficult adjustment, and one we had to make again when we had Hazel.  And we weathered those storms and came out on top.

We are almost nine years into this, and I couldn’t be happier.  I think we got married when we were unreasonably young, and for all the wrong reasons, and without a clue of how to do this.  But I also think that we persevered and learned a lot as we went.  We work really hard to communicate when things aren’t okay, and when they are, and to support each other in our crazy dreams and wishes and feelings.  And it works for us.

Ten Year Baptiversary

Ten years ago today, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This came about after a whole ton of stuff sort of merged together to create conditions that made it an inevitability, including my very own mini-miracles.

In the church, I found Jesus.  I found home. I found my wonderful husband.  I was able to grow as a person through my work with kids, cub scouts, and the women’s organization of the Church.  I was able to develop faith in Jesus Christ, faith that is dependent on nothing but my relationship with Him–not what my family thinks, not what authority figures tell me, not what I see on TV.

I love the me from ten years ago.  I was innocent–perhaps naive.  There was joy around every corner, not the least of which was felt because of all the corners I had turned before that weren’t so joyful.  It was all simple and beautiful and the colors of the rainbow, slightly faded from all the light.  It was like getting baptized washed all the muddy browns away and everything was right.

Things have changed since then.  I’ve seen ugly, both in and out of the Church.  I’ve left the LDS Church, but not my faith in Christ.  I’ve taken the harder road, again as a direct result of prayerful consideration.  It really is so much easier to be a believing, faithful Mormon than it is to leave the Church (although I do enjoy my cup(s) of coffee in the morning).

My rainbow is still there, but it is sharply colored now; it is full of all the things I want in the world, all the things I want for my children, all the things that the world could and should be.  It’s almost hard to look at because of all the possibility and hope that it contains, along with all of the disappointment in how of it doesn’t exist.

But thinking about that–shouldn’t our relationship with God be difficult to look at?  Shouldn’t it challenge us to become better people, to become better spouses, better parents, better children, better neighbors?  I have grown up in the last ten years.  The world can’t be cotton candy forever, although that period of my life was nice and beautiful and I treasure it.  Everything isn’t ice cream and candy now, but it turns out that the rest of the meal is delicious too, or at least interesting to taste and experience.

If I could go back to the me of ten years ago, I think the only thing that I would tell myself would be to live as fully in the moment as possible, and to write it all down.  And that’s what I hope I remember to do in the next ten years–to fully live my life in the present, in the moment, and to enjoy all of the colors and meals that life hands to me.  Because ten years from now, I will be different, but I will love the me that I am now.

Interfaith Marriage

It’s not as if I hadn’t thought much about interfaith marriage before. When Kullervo began doubting the LDS church, I was still a steadfast Mormon. We were living with his parents at the time, and stayed up late many nights talking about how we would relate to each other, how we would navigate church waters, and, most importantly, what we wanted for Oliver, who at the time was only about five months old.

It has been an ongoing dialogue since then. I found my church home at Cedar Ridge Community Church, but for awhile Kullervo was pretty sure he leaned towards more traditional, liturgical types of worship. And, as it turns out… I really don’t love the liturgy. So, there was the dilemma of where to go to worship when we actually prefer different styles of worshiping. But, then we were still both considering ourselves Christian.

However, Kullervo has discovered that he is, and always has been, a pagan. And I am still a Christian.

I was reading Jack’s blog the other day, and saw that at the top was written “Interfaith Marriage”, and I realized that, officially, I am a part of one.

Honestly, I’m not sure what it will mean for us. But it seems significant to realize. We still have to figure out the best way to raise the kids so that they will be open minded, tolerant people who have minds of their own and will realize that Christianity is truuuuuuue (hahaha! just kinda kidding!). Seriously, though, it’s something that we need to consider and kind of hammer down (inasmuch as you can hammer anything about parenting down, besides windowsills) while the kids are still fairly young.

Annoyed at “An Invitation”

Conner received a response from the LDS records department following his resignation letter. It said the standard, “We don’t deal with this in Utah, but your bishop will get back to you” stuff that we expected. It also talked about the seriousness of the decision he was making, and they encouraged him to read the enclosed pamphlet and come back to the Church. Nothing unusual or unexpected there.

However, the pamphlet annoys me. It is titled “An Invitation” and has a photo of the statue of Jesus that you find at Visitor’s Centers across the country (world?). What gets under my skin about the invitation is that it exhorts Conner to please not be offended. “If any have been offended, we are sorry.” It encourages him to come back to the Church even if he is sinning. “To you who for any reason find yourselves outside the embrace of the Church, we say come back… and partake of the happiness you once knew.”

It’s no wonder that people assume that the only reason that one leaves the church is because he is offended or committing sin. It is no wonder that accusations of adultery, fraud, etc have been hurled at people close to me. (People don’t dare say that to me–I think it is presumed that I am “offended”.) The Church assumes that Conner either offended or committing serious sin!

And inviting him to partake of the happiness he once knew? Because he is no longer happy? I suppose it may be difficult to believe it, but while there has been difficulty in our lives since leaving the Church–knowing that family members are hurting as a result, having more choices (and thus more difficult decisions to make), coming to understand how we feel about Jesus and God and religion without the restrictions of what “we” believe being placed on us… that is all difficult. But we are happy.

I no longer consider myself a Mormon (although I did not remove my name from the registry and have no plans to do so). However, I did not stop attending church because of any of the following reasons:

  1. Conner made me–I dare someone who knows me well to try to “make” me do anything.  Try it.  Seriously.
  2. I was offended–I wasn’t.  I think Mormons are great people, and many of my favorite people are LDS.
  3. I was committing sin–I wasn’t.  Nothing serious, anyway.  I left with a valid temple recommend, thankyouverymuch–and not because I had lied or cheated or just not given it back.
  4. I wanted to be committing sin–There is no sin that is cool enough or awesome enough or anything to make me abandon my beliefs.  Now, I do occasionally drink alcohol, and coffee is on my daily must-haves, but this all transpired pre- and post-church (and, due to spiritual experiences I have had, I believe that this is with God’s blessing–the coffee, anyway).
  5. I had just never had a real testimony–I knew when I joined the Church that I was doing what God wanted.  I stand by that.  I also believe that God had a hand in me being where I am today.
  6. Satan answers my prayers–I guess if that’s how people need to deal with the cognitive dissonance of me, that’s their business, but I don’t believe that God and Satan sound the same.  And if Satan told me to leave the church, Satan also told me to join it.

There.  I’ve spoken my piece and counted to six.

And, also, anyone get the reference?  🙂

My Comments on a Twilight Review

One of my incredible friends (who I can only hope is a real person and not just a hairy man named Fred since I haven’t actually met her in person) asked my opinion about this blog post discussing the Twilight books and their relation to Mormonism. Here were my comments to her:

First, I should say that the stuff I found relevant to Mormonism does not appear to be the same stuff that this woman is finding, but then, I don’t usually read to go searching for the symbolism or deeper meanings or stuff in books, but read for the sheer pleasure of getting lost in the story.

Her points:
1. Deification. I can see where that’s coming from. While most Mormons will be hesitant to call it deification, it is a principle of the church that a person who dies can become like God–meaning a god also. I think that there is not a lot of clarity about whether you become as god-y as God, or if it’s like a lesser god type being. (Conner always interpreted it as Jesus becoming the God the Father of the next generation, and the normal people who attained celestial glory (what they call it) would just get to create their own worlds within the framework of Jesus being the God of all the worlds.)

2. Afterlife. It seems like a stretch to me.

3. Family – also a stretch. What mainstream group/culture isn’t mostly about the family unit? It’s not just Mormons who are glad that they have kids.

4. Celestial Marriage. This person’s doctrines are way off and not what Mormonism teach, nor really consistent internally (in that paragraph) or with what I find in the books. In Mormonism, you don’t get married temporally (outside of the temple, “till death do us part”), and then get married in the temple. You CAN, but they generally want you to get married in the temple if at all possible. (To the extent of me not having my family at my wedding.) It is true that men can be sealed to more than one woman. It is NOT consistent with current Mormon doctrine that a woman could be sealed to more than one man, ever. In other words, Mormonism leaves the door open for possibly polygamy, but not polyandry. I don’t remember in the book–did they have another ceremony to bind them for eternity?

5. Bella as the Christ figure. I can kind of see that… I guess. But is that about Mormonism, or a hyperbolic presentation of childbirth and motherhood in general? And she wasn’t a virgin when she got pregnant, which isn’t very Mary-like. Also, regarding the doctrine that God had a physical union with Mary to get her pregnant… like many of the old ideas in Mormonism, this came from Brigham Young (who is, in my opinion, unQUESTIONably the most controversial prophet). He certainly said it (or said something like “Jesus was conceived in the usual fashion” or something), but does that make it doctrine? Well, what makes something doctrine is one of the sticky widgets in Mormonism and could stand for its own debate. There are many things that Brigham Young taught and specifically said that they were doctrine and plain and precious truths and not to ever be denied… that the church no longer teaches and disavows completely (not by saying that Brigham Young was wrong or didn’t say it, but by becoming apologetics or by ignoring it completely). FWIW, I think that it’s generally understood that you follow what the current prophet says, even if it’s different than what a prior prophet said. I had trouble with this when it came to factual things that shouldn’t change based on who is prophet.

6. Uh, this isn’t about Mormonism at all, really. Nor is it especially coherent lol.

7. Native Americans: Also a stretch. I think it took place where it did because vampires who were going to make a permanent settlement wouldn’t go to Miami Beach. As for the Native Americans being the wise ones or whatever, that’s a common practice in many American authors–sage native people? I don’t think it’s a hearkening to the Book of Mormon.

8. As for imprinting on children–I also found this disturbing in the novel (the idea of it in general), but I am hyper sensitive to child sexual abuse/stuff like that. I thought that given the weirdness, she did a decent job with it. This blogger did not connect it to Mormonism, and Mormons have no doctrines about mating with children. Granted, creepy fundamentalist weirdos who live on compounds probably take on 14 year old wives or whatever, but that’s not mainstream Mormonism, and would be something that Stephenie Meyer probably finds disturbing as well.

Then, this blogger says something about reaching the “upper echelon” of Mormonism. This is total bull and there is no such thing. It’s not like you are going along and all of a sudden one day you go to a special meeting where they say, “ok, so, God and Mary? Actual sex. Cool, huh? And polygamy? Yeah, we did that. Possibly will again in the future after you die, or whatever.” Nope, doesn’t happen. I hate it when people say stuff like that. There is plenty to criticize about the church without making crap up. Plus, it’s totally condescending to tell someone that they aren’t privy to the doctrines of their own church while this outsider knows so much more than them.

So, that’s my response to the blogger.

Bible Challenge

Conner and I have challenged ourselves to read the entire New Testament before the year ends.

A couple of years ago, when we were active LDS members, the president of the church challenged all its members to read the Book of Mormon before year end. This was done in August, I believe. Conner and I both began in September, or maybe October. And we both finished with a couple of days to spare. (It is possible that I skipped some of the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi, but who can blame me?)

I found the whole process to be quite spiritually rewarding. At the time, I believed that the BoM was God’s word. I believed I was following a prophet’s directive. And I was doing my best to be the best that I could be. I would read the BoM on the subway on my way to or from work (usually not both, because I wanted to be able to knit on the train too). I wound up thinking about what I was reading about throughout the day, and making connections between the stories that I wouldn’t have noticed with a slower read through.

I’m hoping that our current challenge will have a similar positive effect. If nothing else, it will make me more familiar with the Bible, as I haven’t read all of the NT before. I’m currently reading The Message paraphrase. At some point I’ll probably get a Bible study (any recommendations? Why did you or didn’t you like what you used?). I also hope that reading it will have some of the transformative power to make me a better person. And, probably most important, I hope that it will help me draw closer to Jesus.

I’ve started with the Gospel of Mark. There are two reasons for this. First, at church they’ve been doing a sermon series on the Gospel of Mark. Second, I’ve often decided to read the entire NT, and started at Matthew… and stopped within Matthew.