Thursday, June 13, 2013

Apostasy and goodbyes.

*** I don't like goodbyes. Oh that is so cliche. Is there a person who likes goodbyes? I can't think of one. I've said goodbye lately to something very big.

So here I am. I'm open about it on facebook (the part of the internet we love to hate). I've been more open to a very select few. And I wrote the most recent personal essay about religion. Now for more specifics:

I have left.
I am no longer Mormon.
Next step is having my name removed, which I will do.
We are going to the UU church, mainly for our children to have a support system.
We identify as agnostic atheist.

For myself, both terms fit, Agnosticism address knowledge.
     Do I KNOW there is a god? No I do not.
           Do I KNOW there is not a god? No I do not.
Agnostic: one who lacks knowledge.

Theism addresses belief.
       I do not have any therefore I am an atheist.
           If I believed there was NO god. I would be an antitheist. I am not that.

Some days I'm apatheist. Just don't overtly care. But other days I'm borderline obsessed with learning more about science, philosophy, basis for morality, and other venues of thought I never before explored while spending time in religion. I have learned SO much and am really loving the journey of exploration at this stage. I could bend your ear about Neil deGrasse Tyson. I have a nerdy crush on him.

So I am an agnostic/atheist post-mormon, soon to be exmormon. whew, wipes forehead... that's a lot of labels. But just one more... If you are wondering about morals, that gives me one more label:

As a philosophy, Humanism contains the following tenets:
  • Beliefs need to be tested instead of being accepted solely on faith.
  • Reason, evidence, and the scientific method are the best methods of finding solutions to problems and answers to questions.
  • Fulfillment, growth, and creativity are emphasized for both the individual and mankind in general.
  • A constant search for objective truth, with an understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our perceptions of it, and that scientific ideas should constantly change to better describe the real world.
  • An emphasis on making this life the best it can be for everyone, since humanists (especially those who include the word "secular") tend to believe that this life is the only one a person gets.
  • A search for a good system of individual, social, and political ethics.
  • An ultimate goal of building a better world for ourselves and our descendents by working together.

And since I don't relate to humanism from a religion, that makes me a Secular Humanist.

cue dark scary music...

The people I thought bad things about a few years ago "secular humanists and ungodly atheists"

I am now one of them.

And it is ok.

So there it is, If time ever works out like I'd like (It doesn't) I'll be exploring these thoughts much further. But what I keep thinking about a lot lately is that apostasy doesn't really make for an easy goodbye.

If we had moved out of the ward, or if the ward had split there would have been that appropriate time to say goodbye.

Pats on the back.
"Hope to see you around"
"lets do a playdate"
"Good luck with the new job" 
Maybe even a testimony if the time fit to say 'good bye' and 'thank you' to friends. We won't get that opportunity. Friends was the last tiny thread keeping me there. I really even thought I'd want Nola blessed at church. Then I just couldn't and we didn't and there was absolutely no pomp and circumstance to what our last Sunday was. I can't pinpoint the date on a calendar. Maybe that makes goodbye easier. If we had said "THIS WILL BE OUR LAST SUNDAY" There might have been undue sadness.

We just didn't go one Sunday, And didn't go back. The kids already knew there was a lack of belief and we were detoxing what they were taught each Sunday. The lack of belief was handled first. I do feel sad that they didn't get to hug primary teachers and say goodbye. But no matter how I daydream about it I can't see how that would have gone down.

So, Goodbye friends - We are still here, we still try to be good people. I'd still like to hang out and our kids are still good kids. Sorry that there was no easy way to give you a hug and say I'll miss seeing you on Sundays.  


*** this post sat in the unpublished nether-space of the internet for a looooong, loooooong time, me being too stubborn, embarrassed, fearful, worried to hit "Publish" then this post hit the cyberwaves today and gave me courage and chutzpah. It is such a good post I have with permission posted it here - the rest can be found at one of the best blogs I have come across in a long time: Rational Faiths, Three brothers and guest bloggers hammer out some of the idiosyncrasies of Mormonism.

How to guide for dealing with those in a faith crisis: 
  1. You must love them.   This may sound like a “no-brainer”, but the majority of people that are in the middle of a faith crisis are afraid of losing friends and family if they discuss with them their doubts and concerns.
  2. You must love them.   Didn’t I say that already?  Ya, I did.  You get the idea now.  This cannot be the superficial, smiling in the hallway at church, kind of thing.  It must be a real love.   If you don’t possess that, your friends and family will see right through you.
  3. Do not assume that they have been sinning or want to sin and are just looking for excuses to leave the Church. 
  4. You must realize that doubt is not a sin.
  5. Do not assume that the reason for their doubts is because they’ve stopped reading the scriptures and praying. They most likely have been doing those things for a long time and are still wrestling with doubts.
  6. You must realize that there is a good chance they will leave the Church.  That is a tough one, but it is a reality.  
  7. Realize that for some, either because of  the need to maintain their own healthy mental well being, or for reasons of integrity, it is better for them to leave the Church. 
  8. If your friend or family member leaves the Church, you must honor that decision. 
  9. If this is your spouse, do not threaten to leave them.  Family is more important.
  10. Understand that most Mormons that leave the Church either become agnostic or atheist.
  11. Do not accuse them of reading “anti-Mormon” literature (although this may be true).   People have left the Church after reading a scholarly history, such as Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling.
  12. Understand that if your friend or family member leaves the Church, they will still be morally good people. 
  13. They must understand that if they leave the Church, you will still love them and not think less of them. 
  14. Do not say something idiotic like, “The Devil has deceived you.”  Your roll is not to call them to repentance or to preach to them.  If you do this, they will probably stop talking to you.
  15. Shut up and listen.   Within Mormonism, we often think we have the answers to everything – when we don’t.   Many times our friends and family aren’t looking for answers to questions, they are just looking for someone that will listen to them.
  16. You must validate their concerns.   Just because you have not experienced what they are experiencing, doesn’t make their story any less valid.
  17. Realize that if they have gotten up the courage to talk to you, that they have spent months, if not years, thinking and worrying.
  18. If they do want answers to questions, only answer them if you have a plausible answer.  Don’t make crap up.
  19. Understand that your family member or friend has been “trying to make it work” for a long time and has probably been in a lot of pain while trying to work things out.
  20. If they do want answers to questions, realize that they have been thinking, reading, and studying about this harder and for a longer period of time than you have.  If you want to help you need to study and read A LOT before you start spilling out crappy answers.
  21. If you are reading and studying more in an attempt to help, the reading must be outside the correlated dribble that we get in our Sunday School classes and the “white-washed” dribble Deseret Book produces. 
  22. Realize that they are going to be hurt and angry and are going to say things that might offend you.
  23. Realize that a crisis won’t be averted through just one or two discussions with you.  Be patient.  It could take months or even years for the person to go through this transition and they probably won’t be the same afterward.  Most either end up with a more mature, nuanced faith, or leave the Church.
  24. Be discrete.  They have told you about their doubts and concerns in confidence.   
  25.  Realize that all of these suggestions can be difficult to do. Do not take this on unless you are committed to all of the above. 


Ryann said...

Well said Janie.

Madcap said...

Apatheist - love that! That's pretty much where I'm at with the whole thing. Just can't work up enough energy to care about it. I've been through all this, and I found the first few years rather fraught. If you need someone to connect with, feel free to contact me through my blogsite. I'm on FB too.

Chamy said...

Hi Janie,

Found myself on your blog today. I didn't know you were leaving the church. Sorry to hear it. Your ward is losing a great family. I obviously don't know the circumstances that lead to this decision but I know you are a great person and love you. If your journey ever brings you back I know you would be welcomed with open arms. The people in the church are not perfect. but it's still a great place for imperfect people to gather and uplift each other. Don't want to offend or make you think I'm unsupportive so I'll stop there. Just know that I have nothing but good thoughts for you.

Janie said...

Amy, Thank you so much, you are so kind. I wrote through my issues one by one if you want to read about it, its been a long time coming :) I totally don't want to lose the friendship with you and Lisa, ya'll are some pretty awesome people in my book!

shahna said...

I'm doing #8 and #12 and hoping it's NOT goodbye. Wishing you and your family all the best things life has to offer, Janie. You ARE a good person and I enjoy reading your blog when I get the chance.

Sarah said...

Don't know how I missed this post:( Love ya!!! I know the process you've been through and I know it hasn't been easy. I know that no matter the choices I make and no matter the choices you make for some unexplained reason we were meant to be friends. Call it what you will, but you my friend are my sister and will always be. I really like the post you added because it is so hard for people to know how to handle situations like these and I think that post helps people put it in perspective. I said it before and I'll say it again, love ya!!!!