2007-01-04 : Self-identification vs. Membership
So here's me, 22, let's call it the fall of '93. I'd left the LDS Church in spirit three years before. I was still flinching whenever I saw the missionaries - have I told the story of how I stopped flinching whenever I saw the missionaries? It's a good one. Anyhow meanwhile having left the church nagged me sometimes and I fought with the church's ghosts in my head. I ground my teeth at night, I argued with nobody in the shower.
Fall of '93. I hadn't been to church here in Amherst, like, ever. They had my membership records though, a red mark in the "inactive" column.
I got a letter from the ward clerk. A "ward" is a congregation; the ward clerk is one of the four men responsible for the ward. Bishop, 1st councilor, 2nd councilor, ward clerk. The clerk's the guy who keeps the membership and tithing records, to whom my red mark in the "inactive" column was an irritant. I got a letter from him. It was a form letter with my name written in. At a guess, a dozen red marks fit the bill, I was just one of them.
," it said. "We need you! Our ward is suffering a shortage of qualified and active priesthood holders; we don't have enough to meet the ward's needs. Please come back."
I replied, to the tune of: "I'm sure that if you gave the priesthood to the women of your ward you wouldn't have any such problem. Meanwhile, you're pigs. Good luck!"
When I (laughing) told my dad about this, he got genuinely worried. His eyes shifted around, the humor and the color fell out of his face. "Vincent, you can't be writing that stuff down. They'll excommunicate you."
It was like a lightbulb over my head. I don't have to be Mormon forever!
They didn't excommunicate me. I waited for some months, but they never wrote back. They didn't even send the missionaries around. After a while I got tired of waiting. I decided to proactively have them de-membership me. I didn't know how to do it - this was before the internet, practically; you couldn't just go to Richard Packham's website and read people's resignation stories and how-tos and download sample resignation letters.
I made an appointment with the ward bishop, and when we met I told him I'd like my name removed from the church's records. He told me that I knew where to find him if I changed my mind. Maybe he told me I needed to write a letter to someone, I forget. His hands were shaking.
A couple of weeks later I got a letter confirming that I had resigned my membership, that I no longer had any priesthood authority, and that I must be rebaptised should I ever choose to return to the church. It was, well, non-climactic. I went out to eat with my friends to celebrate, and we haggled a little over the tab.
I still flinched whenever I saw the missionaries. I still argued with imaginary people in the shower. That lasted a few years more. I found out later, though, that it'd been a big relief for my dad. I couldn't imagine why. But come to find out, he thought my leaving the church on my terms had been an act of integrity. Falling inactive, being excommunicated - he was glad that I'd walked out the front door instead.
That still makes me tip my head to one side. I wouldn't've guessed that he'd feel that way. Shows what I know, huh?
1. On 2007-01-04, Avram said:
2. On 2007-01-04, Ben Lehman said:
3. On 2007-01-04, Eric Provost said:
4. On 2007-01-04, Matt Kimball said:
5. On 2007-01-04, Avram said:
6. On 2007-01-04, Ben Lehman said:
7. On 2007-01-04, Vincent said:
8. On 2007-01-04, B.Murray said:
9. On 2007-01-05, NinJ said:
10. On 2007-01-05, wundergeek said:
11. On 2007-01-05, Avram said:
12. On 2007-01-05, Brand Robins said:
13. On 2007-01-05, Sydney Freedberg said:
14. On 2007-01-05, Dave Younce said:
15. On 2007-01-05, Matt Wilson said:
16. On 2007-01-05, Vincent said:
17. On 2007-01-05, Andrew Cooper said:
18. On 2007-01-06, Matt Kimball said:
19. On 2007-01-06, Vincent said:
20. On 2007-01-06, NinJ said:
21. On 2007-01-06, xenopulse said:
22. On 2007-01-06, Meguey said:
23. On 2007-01-06, Brand Robins said:
24. On 2007-01-06, Larry Lade said:
25. On 2007-01-06, Larry Lade said:
26. On 2007-01-06, Ben Lehman said:
27. On 2007-01-07, Sydney Freedberg said:
28. On 2007-01-07, Richard Vowles said:
29. On 2007-01-07, Vincent said:
30. On 2007-01-07, Ed Heil said:
31. On 2007-01-07, NinJ said:
32. On 2007-01-08, Sydney Freedberg said:
33. On 2007-01-08, Larry Lade said:
34. On 2007-01-08, Vincent said:
35. On 2007-01-09, NinJ said:
36. On 2007-01-09, Sydney Freedberg said:
37. On 2007-01-09, Vincent said:
38. On 2007-01-09, Meguey said:
39. On 2007-01-09, NinJ said:
40. On 2007-01-09, NinJ said:
41. On 2007-01-09, Valamir said:
42. On 2007-01-09, Valamir said:
43. On 2007-01-09, Valamir said:
44. On 2007-01-09, Valamir said:
45. On 2007-01-09, NinJ said:
46. On 2007-01-09, Larry Lade said:
47. On 2007-01-09, Sydney Freedberg said:
48. On 2007-01-10, Ed Heil said:
49. On 2007-01-10, Vincent said:
50. On 2007-01-10, Meguey said:
51. On 2007-01-10, Ed Heil said:
52. On 2007-01-10, wundergeek said:
53. On 2007-01-10, Valamir said:
54. On 2007-01-10, NinJ said:
55. On 2007-01-10, Ben Lehman said:
56. On 2007-01-10, NinJ said:
57. On 2007-01-10, timfire said:
58. On 2007-01-10, NinJ said:
59. On 2007-01-10, Sydney Freedberg said:
60. On 2007-01-11, xenopulse said:
61. On 2007-01-11, Brand Robins said:
62. On 2007-01-11, Sydney Freedberg said:
63. On 2007-01-12, wundergeek said:
64. On 2007-01-12, xenopulse said:
65. On 2007-01-12, Vincent said:
66. On 2007-01-12, Meguey said:
67. On 2007-01-12, Sydney Freedberg said:
68. On 2007-01-12, Sydney Freedberg said:
69. On 2007-01-12, Ed Heil said:
70. On 2007-01-12, valamir said:
71. On 2007-01-12, Ian Burton-Oakes said:
72. On 2007-01-12, Brand Robins said:
73. On 2007-01-12, Brand Robins said:
74. On 2007-01-12, NinJ said:
75. On 2007-01-12, xenopulse said:
76. On 2007-01-12, Brand Robins said:
77. On 2007-01-13, Sydney Freedberg said:
78. On 2007-01-13, Avram said:
79. On 2007-01-13, Avram said:
80. On 2007-01-13, NinJ said:
81. On 2007-01-13, Larry Lade said:
82. On 2007-01-13, Ben Lehman said:
83. On 2007-01-14, wundergeek said:
84. On 2007-01-14, Avram said:
85. On 2007-01-15, Vincent said: