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Saturday, October 02, 2010

On rebellion

So, one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of the LDS church is Eliza R. Snitch (Lisa, you are badass too). Isn't that just the best name ever? Anyway, her experience with Mormonsim was and is far different from mine; thankfully I never ended up at BYU. But there are some experiences that are universal, particularly for people who have withdrawn from the church.

One of these is rebellion. Some people, like D. Michael Quinn and Margaret Toscano, go out with a big bang (har). Some people never officially have their names removed, but simply remove themselves instead. Some people actively rebel against the small fries in their area--bishop, stake president, parents. Some people leave at 16 and promptly dye their hair purple and gauge their ears; some leave when they're forty and become Lutherans. However, no matter the style or timing of the exit, I venture that most ex/post/whatever-Mormons flirt with some sort of rebellion, even unintentionally. After all, for good church members, going to see a movie on Sunday instead of heading to sacrament meeting is rebelling against God's word.

Ms Snitch talked in a blog entry a few days ago about upping her earring count to four pairs (which, HARLOT). The comments to that entry were a resounding YES--many commenters had gotten more piercings after "falling away", some had gotten tattoos, etc. One commenter mentioned that if he didn't know better, the post itself+comments would read like a bunch of teenagers doing things their parents don't want them to do. I found his comment a bit condescending, but I am not very bothered by it because really, this is what we're doing. And there is nothing wrong with that. Most of us didn't have the opportunity to rebel when we were teens, the age when rebellion usually happens, and so we're doing it now. When I was in high school, the worst thing I ever did was drink a Cherry Coke at my job at the movie theatre. ONCE. A Cherry Coke, ONCE. No boyfriends, no drugs, no beer, no heavy metal concerts, no piercings, no cutting school. Cherry Motherfucking Coke.

And oh lawdy, you better believe I repented. Like fifteen times. Lots of tears, plenty of remorse.

I am betting that lots of former Mormons were of this mode in high school. Scared of committing even the smallest transgression, overwrought guilt over accidentally seeing part of The Godfather on TV one night. Normal teen rebellion was, like everything else "carnal" in the LDS sphere, repressed. And once you get out of that world, what comes bubbling up? Sexy feelings, curse words, a penchant for Cherry Coke (still my favorite caffeinated beverage). It's human nature to want to do things that you are told you can't/won't/shouldn't do. So here we are, a bunch of adults, acting like teens trying to piss their parents off.

The difference is intent. In some cases, pissing your parents off may be the goal. Presumably there are people who still live to annoy their APs. In other cases, the annoyed parents/relations/spouses/friends are a by-product of someone living the life they find to be good. I am getting a tattoo soon, and I fully expect that if my mother finds out, she'll have a coronary (haven't quiiiiiiite decided whether to tell her yet. Maybe she reads my blog! HI MOM I SWEAR IT'LL BE TASTEFUL). Likewise, if I got a nose piercing or an eyebrow stud or that second pair of earrings, she would disapprove and mourn for my soul. It's not that I WANT to hurt her or make her concerned for my eternal soul; it's that my life is my own now and there are things that I want that are not what she wants. Like moving to Canada. Canada is the land of the heathen, second only to Europe in terms of Places You Should Not Want To Live.

In the end, outward signs of rebellion, tattoos and piercings and listening to the Devil's music, become significant, become more than an angsty teen acting out--because of what they signify to THEM. Considering people with tattoos to be immoral is a sign of deep personal weakness, as Sue Sylvester would say. Believing that two sets of earrings in one ear is the sure path to hell is the problem of the person who believes that, not the person with two sets of earrings. Perhaps it is the yoga working its pagan devilry on me, but I am considering the ramifications of my future-tattoo with serenity. Its effects on my parents will be dire, but that is neither my intention nor my fault--my future-tattoo will be a symbol of something I cherish deeply and getting it is something I've thought long and hard about, for nigh on three years. The process of apostasy from the LDS church (and oh yes, I claim that title with truly evil glee) is the awakening understanding that your life is your own; that humans can't live for others without withering themselves. We apostates accept that our actions will hurt somebody's feelings, but again--DEEP PERSONAL WEAKNESS.

So rebel away, former Mormons! There's good reason for it, all the reason in the world.

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