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Ask An Ex-Mormon! A Conversation – The Awl

2020年1月19日 | | in bckbet会员登录

MyfriendBeauandIgrewuptogetherinTucson,Arizona,wherehewasthequarterbackofourhighschool’sfootballteam。

We’vesincetraveledaroundItalytogether,sippedwineandtalkedaboutmusicuntilsunrise,and,onememorabletime,gotdrunkenlychasedoutofaVegascasino。

BeauandIhavealotincommon,ourvicesincluded,whichiswhyIalwaysforgetonebigthingabouthim:Untilveryrecently,BeauwasaMormon。

Heneverwentdoor-to-doortryingtoconvertpeople,nordidheevermarchagainstgayrights。

Butfor18yearshefaithfullywenttoaMormontempleeverySundaywithhisparentsandthreebrothers。

Mormonismhasbecomeanincreasinglyvisiblepartofourcultureinthepastfewyears,what?

with

BigLove’sfive-yearrunonHBO,BookofMormononBroadway,MittRomneyleapingonthecoverofNewsweekand“I’mAMormon”billboardsinTimesSquare。

YetwhileweoftenhearaboutMormons,wehardlyeverhearfromthem。

Instead,weoftengetourreportssecond-hand,andfromawriterwhosesneer(andI’mguiltyofthis,too)poisonstheconversationimmediately。

InanefforttomorehonestlyunderstandoneofAmerica’smost-fearedreligions?

—?

andonethat’sgettingbiggerallthetime?

—?

IturnedtoBeau,whohasleftthechurchdespiteprotestationsfromhisdevoutfamilyandnowmanagesawinestoreinBrooklyn。

CordJefferson:Tostartwith,let’stalkaboutyourbackgroundinMormonism,becauseIdon’tevenreallyknow?

it。

BeauRapier:Mydad’sfamilyconvertedbeforehewasbornandmymom’sgreat-grandparentswereMormon?

—?

maybegreat-great。

Mydadinitiallymarriedanon-Mormonoutofhighschoolandhadtwokidswithher(myhalfsisters),thenwenttoVietnam。

Afterthathewasn’treallychurchgoingforsomeyearsbutbecamesoagainwhenhegotdivorcedandbegandatingmy?

mom。

CJ:Onascaleofoneto10,howMormonwouldyousayyourchildhoodwas?

Tenbeinginsanelystrict?

No?

soda?

BR:Iguessaseven?

Wehadsoda。

Becauseofmydad’sfirstmarriageandthefactthathisdadwasnotaveryobservantMormon。

MychildhoodwasMormonbutnotinafullyshelteredway?

—?

andTucsonisnotProvo。

Ialwayshadnon-Mormonfriends。

CJ:Lately,everyoneseemstobetalkingaboutthe“strangeness”ofMormonism,butwhenIwouldhangoutatyourhouse,Ineverfeltstrangeatall。

Yourparentswerealwayssupernicetome。

IevenrememberyourdaddrivingmeandyourbrothertobuyBushtickets。

It’snotliketheywerebanningrockconcertsandmakingyoureadscriptureallthe?

time。

BR:No,theylovedpopandrockmusic。

Ican’ttellyouhowmanytimesIheardFleetwoodMac’sRumours。

AndIneverfeltlikewewereonlyMormon?

—?

butIstilldefinitelyfeltdifferentthanmyfriends,mostofwhomwerenot?

Mormon。

CJ:Whatdoyoumeanyouweren’t“only?

Mormon”?

BR:Itnevercompletelydefinedme。

Irecallbeingalmostembarrassedby?

it。

CJ:Whyembarrassed?

Lotsofotherkidswerereligiousin?

Tucson。

BR:BecauseIthoughtIwasdifferent。

Otherkidswerereligious,yes,butnotMormon,atleastnottheonesIwasfriendswith。

Icouldn’tgotobirthdaypartiesonSundays,myparentsweren’tfriendswiththenon-Mormonparents?

etc。

CJ:DidyoulikehangingoutwiththeotherMormonkidswewenttoschool?

with?

BR:Nope。

CJ:IrememberabunchoftheotherMormonkidswerealwayswaymoretight-assedthanyouandyourbrothers,whichiswhyitsurprisesmethatyousaidyourhousewasaseven。

The[really,reallydevoutMormonfamilyfromourneighborhood]musthavebeenlikean11?

then。

BR:Yeah,theywereprettymuchalreadyinthecelestialkingdom。

TheideathatyoucanbuildaMormonfortressinwhichtoignorealltherealitiesoftheoutsideworldwasepitomizedbythem,inmy?

mind。

CJ:Itsoundslikeyouwereskepticalfromearlyon。

Canyourememberthefirsttimeyouthought,“Y’know,thismightnotbefor?

me”?

BR:Idon’tknowaboutskeptical。

Ididn’treallythinkaboutit。

Ithinkteenagerswonderhowtheyfitinthehereandnow,nothowtheirexistencefitsinthecosmos。

Basically,Ididn’treallyquestionmyfaithorbackground。

IjusthidituntilIhadtoconfrontit,andthatbeganattheveryendofhighschoolandthencontinuedfor?

years。

CJ:Butyouweredrinkingandhavingpremaritalsex,right?

Isn’tthatkindofanindirectwayofquestioningyourfaith?

Isdisobeyingquestioning?

BR:Itcanbe,butIdon’tthinkIwasreallyponderingquestionsoffaithwhenIstarteddrinkinginhighschool,andthepremaritalsexdidn’tactuallyhappenuntilafterIgraduated。

Ithinklookingbacktheanswerisyes,Iwaslookingatotheroptions。

ButIdidn’tthinkaboutitinthosetermsthen。

Ithinklotsofpeopleofeveryfaithexperimentinthesewaysbutultimatelydecidetoembracetheirreligion。

CJ:Soundslikeyourdaddid?

that。

BR:For?

sure。

CJ:Didyourparentsknowaboutyourrebellion,ordidyouhideitfrom?

them?

BR:Ididhideit,buttheywerehavingtheirownmarriageissuesatthetime,soitwaseasierformetodomythingwithoutmuchscrutiny。

Tobehonest,I’veheldoutthepossibilityof“comingback”tomymomforsomeyears,andonlyinthelastfourorfivedidthatpossibilitydiminishtoapointofbecomingalmostimpossible。

CJ:Sowhendidyouactuallystartactivelyquestioningthe?

faith?

BR:Incollege,Iguess。

Kindofacliché,butIreallybegantobeinterestedinwhatIthoughtandbelievedandslowlybegantoquestiontheprinciplesandideasthatMormonismisbasedon。

Thingscameupandweall?

—?

you,I,ourfriends?

—?

weremoreandmoreinterestedinsocial,political,historicalandevenreligiousissues。

Thatinfluencedmeimmensely。

CJ:Wereyouquestioningtheverysimpleredflagslike,“Wait,JesuswasinAmericaandnobodyknowshowhegothere?

”Orwereyouquestioningbigpicturethingslike,“DoIbelieveinorganizedreligionatall?

”?

Both?

BR:Hmm。

Notothefirstquestion。

Ithinkallreligionsexpectawillingsuspensionofdisbeliefonthepartofthefaithful,soagodorasonofagodtravelingtoanothercontinentispeanuts:hejustgotthere。

OfmoreinteresttomewashowtheMormonchurchrespondedtosocialissues:questionsofmoralityaroundrace,sexualorientation,etc。

Ithinkthequestioningofbig-picturethingscamelater,butasaresultofalltheinitiallittle?

stuff。

CJ:YouandIspentalotofdrunkennightstogetherduringthisperiod,anduntilrightnowIwasn’tawarethatyouweretryingtohashoutyourfaiththatwholetime。

Thiswasareallyinternalstruggleforyou?

huh?

BR:Yeah,Isupposeso。

ButIwashavingagreattimeandnotbeingveryintrospectiveaboutit,exceptmaybeinmywritingfromtimetotime。

Idon’tthinkIreallybeganquestioningGodandexistenceuntilacoupleyearsago,afterI’dbeenmarriedandhadakid。

Drunkennightsmayseemlikeagreattimetounloadbutinfacttheyoftenfocusyouontheexactmoment?

—?

whichisgreatandIcelebrateit。

CJ:Iimagineonceyouwereoutofyourparents’housethatyoustoppedgoingto?

church。

BR:Basically。

IthinkIskippedafewtimestowardtheendofhighschoolandgotawaywithit。

ButwhenIwenttocollegeIneveroncewenttochurchonmyown,which,lookingback,ispretty?

telling。

CJ:Didyourparents?

know?

BR:Sortof,thoughtheyalwaysaskedaboutinvolvementinthecampuschurch,andI’msureIletthemthinkthatIwasparticipatinginMormonstuff。

TherewerealotofMormonsatArizonaStatebutIpurposefullyneverconnectedwithanyof?

them。

CJ:IguessIwentintothisconversationstupidlythinkingthatthereweregoingtobecertainclearmilestonesthatmarkedyourmoveawayfromfaith,butthat’snotreallyhowlifegoes。

It’salljust?

gradual。

BR:Ithinktherearemilestoneswhenyoulookback。

Onewascertainlymydecisiontolosemyvirginitytomygirlfriendattheageof18。

Ididthinkaboutthatoneprettylongand?

hard。

CJ:Isthatoneabigno-nofor?

Mormons?

BR:Sure。

Itisn’tactuallyagameover,no-going-backdecision,butatthetimeIthoughtitwas。

IthinkplentyofMormonshavepremaritalsexbutthenrepentandultimatelyrejointhecommunity。

Tobehonest,I’veheldoutthepossibilityof“comingback”tomymomforsomeyears,andonlyinthelastfourorfivedidthatpossibilitydiminishtoapointofbecomingalmostimpossible。

CJ:Whatdoyoumean“heldoutthepossibilityofcomingback”?

YoutoldyourmomyoumightbeMormonagainone?

day?

BR:Notexactly。

ItoldhernottostopprayingformeorthinkingthatImightrepent。

AtthetimeIstarteddoingthatIhadreadalotaboutwritersandartistswhohad“returned”toreligionlaterinlife。

IfeltlikeIcouldn’trulethatoutformyself。

NowItellherthatbecauseevenifIdon’tthinkit’strue,Irespectotherpeople’sneedstoordertheiruniverse。

CJ:Andforyourmothertobecomfortablesheneedstobelievethere’sachanceyou’llreturntothefoldone?

day?

BR:Yes,thatisentirelytrue。

Sheneedstobelieve?

that。

CJ:So,here’ssomething:WhileyourmoveawayfromMormonismwasgradual,Mormonismalmostimmediatelyrejectspeoplewhoquestionthefaith。

Irememberwhenyoucouldn’tseeyourbrothergetmarriedbecauseyouweren’tallowedtoenterthetemples。

AtwhatpointdidMormonismstopconsideringyouaMormon?

Wasitbeforeyoustoppedconsideringyourselfa?

Mormon?

BR:TheystillconsidermeaMormon,justnotonewiththeprivilegetoenterthetemples。

IlostmytempleprivilegeswhenIstoppedapplying,thoughI’msureIcouldhave?

lied。

CJ:Holdup,youhavetoapplyforprivileges?

BR:Youneedwhat’scalleda“templerecommend,”whichisgivenbythebishopofyourward。

Youhavetosayyouobeytherulesandpay?

tithes。

CJ:Dotheygiveyouacertificateorsomething?

BR:Yes,itlooksmoreorlesslikeabusiness?

card。

CJ:Holyshit。

Ihadnoidea。

Youcanliterallybe“acard-carryingMormon”?

BR:Exactly。

CJ:That’saperfectsegue。

Let’stalksomeMormonmyths。

Everyone’sfavoriteistheholyunderwear。

What’supwith?

that?

BR:IwouldhavetosaythatIdon’tknowentirelysinceI’venotparticipatedintheceremonythatexplainsthemfully。

Myunderstandingisthattheyrepresentasymbolicshieldfromthetemporalandoftenimmoralmortal?

world。

CJ:YouonlygetthemwhenyougetmarriedinaMormonceremony?

BR:Um,Ithinkyoualsogetthembeforeyougoona?

mission。

CJ:Themission!

Iforgot!

Didyoueverconsiderthe?

mission?

BR:Notreally,thoughIneverofficiallysaidIwasn’tdoingit。

Ijustletthewindowofopportunitypass。

Anotherinstanceofnotmanninguptomyrealfeelings。

CJ:What’sthe?

window?

BR:Mostpeoplegobetween19and21,thoughalittlelaterforwomensometimes。

Therearealsomissionsforretired?

couples。

CJ:OK,backtothemyths。

WhycanMormonsdrinkcaffeinatedsodabutnot?

coffee?

BR:That’snotexactlyright。

SomeLDSauthoritieshavesaidnocaffeine,noCoke,noPepsi,etc。

Others,however,focusontheoriginal“wordofwisdom,”whichsaysnocoffeeortea。

It’sstillunclearinmy?

mind。

CJ:Howabouttheracism?

We’vetalkedaboutthisonealotovertheyears。

FromwhatI’veread,thechurchhasbackpedaledatononitsracistpositions,mostlikelyinanefforttogetmoreblackconverts。

What’supwiththeracisminMormondoctrine?

BR:IhesitatetoactasanauthorityonLDSdoctrine,becauseI’mnot。

Butclearlytherewasracisminherentinthedoctrine。

AsIunderstandit,“blacks”couldnotreceivethepriesthoodintheMormonchurchuntil1978。

OnequestionIalwayshadwaswhoisblackandwhoisn’t?

Who?

decides?

CJ:Like,wasanyonebrownofflimits,orwasitjustpeopleofAfrican?

origin?

BR:Right。

TheofficialchurchstanceendedbeforeIwasborn,anditishardtosayfromapersonalstance,becausethereweren’talotofblackpeopleinTucsonandtheoneswhowereweren’t?

Mormon。

Youcanjointhechurchand,nomatterwhat,everythingiscool。

It’sjustaquestionofhowcool。

Doyouwanttogiveupsmokesandwhiskeyforthatextralevelofeternalsalvation?

CJ:IrememberwhenaMormongirlinmy6th-gradegeographyclassstraightupaskedtheteacherifitwastruethatblacksweremarkedfortheirsins。

Someofthatstuffwasobviouslystillbeing?

taught

BR:Yeah。

Ineverknewandstilldon’tknowwhatwasconsideredblackintheLDSchurch,otherthantheyadheredtotheBiblicalideaofacurseonCainandtheAfricanpeoples(whichiscrazyenough!

)。

CJ:Butnowthat’sallover,right?

Blacksarenowallgoodwiththe?

Mormons?

BR:Idon’tthinkmostofthepeopleIknewgrowingupinthechurchwereracist,andcertainlynomoresothanarandomsamplingofthepopulation,whichisn’texactlycomforting。

Buttherewereafewobviousones,justlikeamongtheparentswe?

knew。

CJ:HowaboutMormonsexism?

Ifeellikeprettymucheverymajorreligion,ifyougobacktoitsorigin,issexist。

IsMormonismmore?

so?

BR:NotthatI’mawareof,unlessyoutaketheoutliers(i。

e。

polygamists),whoarenownotapartofthechurchbyofficialdecree。

ThoughIshouldsaythattheconservativefocuson“familyvalues,”whichmanyMormonsback,is,inmyopinion,notwithoutsomehintsof?

sexism

CJ:True。

SopolygamistsaretheMormonradicals?

BR:Polygamistsarenotallowedinthechurch。

Theycan’tgettemplerecommendsandthusarenot,asyousaid,“card-carryingMormons。

”ButIthinktheylikeitthatway。

They’veestablishedtheirownbreak-offreligion,whichhasandwantsnothingtodowithmainstreamMormonism。

CJ:Basedonalotofwhatyou’resaying,asidefromthescriptureandbanningoutsidersfromtemples,Mormonismdoesn’treallysoundsodifferentfromalotofotherChristiansects。

LotsofChristiansbelievehomosexualityisasin,andagreatmanyChristianssupportedProp。

8。

WhydoMormonsgetsingledoutso?

often?

BR:It’sayoungerreligion,forone。

Andthereislessofaplaceforin-betweeners?

—?

thosewhowanttobeMormonbutlessaggressively?

—?

asopposedto,say,CatholicswhousecondomsagainsttheVatican’swishes。

Thatin-or-outmentalitycanmakeMormonismseemharsher,andit’smuchlessinvitingtooutsiderswhowanttoexploreit。

WhereProp。

8isconcerned,IthinkalotofotherChristianssupportedit,butcertainlynottotheextentMormonsdid。

Also,becauseMormonsarerelativelyremovedfromthepoliticalsphere,whentheydogetinvolvedit’sbiggernews。

Imean,howoftendopeoplementionthatHarryReidisaMormon?

Hedoesn’tpubliclydiscusshisbeliefsasopenlyaspoliticiansfromother?

faiths。

CJ:Ithinkalotofpeoplewhoarenon-religious,myselfincluded,havethisvisceralideathatMormonismissomehow“worse”thanotherreligions。

Like,itseemsmorecultish。

HavingtakenastepbackfromMormonism,doyouseewhypeoplemightthink?

that?

BR:Sure,thereisaninherent“other”issueonbothsideshere。

Mormonsweremadetofeellikeoutcastsbyotherreligiousgroupsinthemiddleofthe19thcentury。

Theythenendedupembracingthatandtothisdaytheywearthatstatusasabadgeofhonor。

Whentheyaresingledoutor“persecuted,”it’sjustasignthattheyareGod’s“chosenpeople。

”Soundfamiliar?

Personally,Ithinkthatnarrativewillfadewithtimeastheybecomemoreintegratedwithsociety,asallreligionsseemto?

do。

CJ:Scientologistswillprobablyalwaysgetfucked?

with。

BR:Haha!

Maybenot。

JohnTravolta’striracialgreat-granddaughterwillprobablybepresident?

—?

andstillaScientologist。

CJ:You’reoneoffourbrothers,anditamazesmethatyou’retheonlyoneofthefourtoleavethechurch。

Idon’tknowyourbrotherswell,itjustseemsstrangethattheoldest,theonetheyoungeroneslookupto,left,andtheothersstayed。

Doyouhaveanytheoriesaboutwhyyou’retheonlyoneto?

split?

BR:Ican’treallyexplainit。

MaybeI’mnaturallymoreskeptical?

Ithinkmyindividualexperienceshavesomethingtodowithit;myfriends?

—?

myrealfriends,likeyou?

—?

certainlycomeintoplay。

ButIguessitisallofthisandmore。

Recentstudiessuggestthatchildreninthesamefamilyhaveverydifferentexperiencesgrowingupbasedonbirthorderandmitigatingfactorsintheirparentsandotherfamilymembers’lives。

ThatbeingsaidI’mhappyforallmybrothersandthelivestheylead。

Evenifwedon’tagreeoneverything,weloveandrespecteachother,soI’mthankfulfor?

that。

CJ:Doesyourfamilybelieveyou’regoingto?

hell?

BR:No。

Thereisno“hell”intheLDSdoctrine。

CJ:Oh!

Ididnotknowthat。

Isthereanythingcomparable?

BR:Therearedifferentlevelsorkingdomsineternity?

—?

three,Ithink?

—?

butonlythetoponeallowsyouunfetteredaccesstoyourfamilyandlovedones。

Thatlevelisreservedforcard-carryingMormonsorthosewhowerebaptizedpost-mortem(yup,thathappens)。

Thebottomtierisn’thell,it’sjustnotperfectparadise。

It’ssortoflikebeingstuckinaniceplace?

forever。

CJ:Andthat’sforEVERYONE?

Evennonbelievers?

BR:Yeah。

It’seasytoseetheappeal,right?

StuckinonOKplaceforeternity。

It’snotso?

bad。

CJ:Totally。

That’sactuallyreallyprogressivecomparedtotryingtoscarepeopleintothinkingthey’vegotalakeoffiretolookforwardtoiftheydon’tobeyallthe?

rules。

BR:That’spartofthereasonMormonismisstillgrowingbigtime。

Youcanjointhechurchand,nomatterwhat,everythingiscool。

It’sjustaquestionofhowcool。

Doyouwanttogiveupsmokesandwhiskeyforthatextralevelofeternalsalvation?

CJ:UnlikesomepeopleI’vetalkedtowhohavedriftedawayfromtheirchildhoodfaiths,youdon’tsoundverybitteraboutyouryearsinthechurch。

Italmostsoundslikeyouthinkyoucouldhavehadahappylifeinthechurch。

Anditdefinitelywouldhavebeeneasierwhereyourfamilyisconcerned。

What’sthetrade-offforyou?

Whatmadeleavingworth?

it?

BR:Thetrade-off?

Idon’tknow。

AsmallpartofmestillhopesImightfindsomereligioninamiraculouswaylaterinlife。

ButuntilthenIhaveawifeandsonwhomIloveandadore,andIdon’tthinkIwouldhavetheminanotherscenarioinwhichIstayedMormon。

Ialsohaveintellectualhonesty。

Ifeeltotallyintouchwithmyself,andwhenIfeelsomethingnow,IknowI’mfeelingsomethingreal。

IguessinplaceofsearchingforcompleteunderstandingI’vedecidedtosearchforpeaceandhappinessthatIcanhavenow。

Idon’tthinkparadiseorheavenisanabsenceofstrifeorproblems;Ithinkit’sanacceptanceofthem,andIwantstrifeinthis?

life。

CJ:Havingbeenraisedinafaith,andnowraisingason,doyoufeelbetteraboutraisingasecularchild,ordoyouthinkhe’llbemissingoutonsomething?

BR:Goodquestion。

IdofeelalittleguiltythatIcan’tintruefaithgivehimanswerstosomeofthebigquestions。

ButIalsofeelthatweallhavetofacequestionsofexistence,andI’llbehonestwithhimandhewillknowthatIlovehimunconditionallyandfromtherehe’llhavetodothesamethingweallshoulddoandbecomeanadult。

Hopefully,thatwilltakeaverylongtime,’causeIlikehimasheis?

now。

CJ:OK,lastquestion:Throughoutitshistory,Mormonismhaspartedwayswithplentyofformertenets(e。

g。

thepolygamy,theracism,thecaffeine)。

Doyouthinkit’sjustamatteroftimebeforegaysareacceptedintothe?

fold?

BR:Ifby“accepted”youmean“giventherighttomarryandalltheotherprivileges”thenIthinkitisdefinitelyamatteroftime,albeitalotoftime。

Ihopethatthatwillhappeninmostmajorreligionseventually,butitwillprobablybelongafteritdoespoliticallyandsocially。

Sowe’retalkingdecades,ifnotcenturies,andIseriouslydoubtinourlifetime。

ButasithappensIthinkitwillhappenintheLDSfaith,too。

Beforetheybecomeobsoletetheywillaccept?

gays。

CJ:AndPresidentRomney?

BR:No?

chance。

CordJeffersonisasenioreditorat?


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