Normally I am not much for Gawker, but one of my favorite Hairpin writer/commenters, Mallory Ortberg, has begun doing pieces for them, so occasionally I have to venture in (the Gawker commenters, may I say, do not deserve melis even a little bit). Last week she wrote an article entitled "Have You Heard the One About the Religious Woman Who Stops Being Religious In College?"
Obviously that was going to be totally all up in my alleys, and it was--not just the memory of having religion and losing it, or the experience of being let down by authority figures and God, or the tendency to keep the church in the corner of my eye, whether incidentally or intentionally, or the lingering guilt over choosing to read the same SWEU novel for the eighteenth time instead of doing my scripture study. When I was young there was a disconnect between my home life and my church life; people said things from the pulpit and in Sunday school that my mother would never have said. When we were small she let us wear two-piece bathing suits, of all things, and didn't hover over my shoulder when I checked out books with swear words from the library. As I grew older and after my mother remarried a very stringently devout man, the gap closed, church authority and family authority presenting a united front (as I suppose it should have been all along, ideally). I have no idea if I still would have left had my mother continued to be relatively personally liberal, showing me that there was a way to be a good, faithful LDS woman as well as keeping one's own counsel.
This brings me to the crux of Ortberg's piece, what really hit home: the idea, totally foreign to me at age nineteen, that change can happen from within. It honestly never occurred to me to wonder if I, I, could be an instrument of change in the LDS church. That simply wasn't how the church worked. I only knew that I had become aware of the church as a place I could no longer belong. I didn't think about what it would need to be like for me to continue belonging there. Maybe it's no better than saying if my aunt was male she would be my uncle, but as a blogger who reads a good many LDS and ex/post/whatever-LDS blogs, I am seeing inklings of change. I see the women of fMh, I see Joanna Brooks. They're doing something I didn't think could be done. I'm still not sure it can be, or if it's worth it. But it's happening and I am watching, occasionally befuddled, more often proud.