Monday, August 29, 2011


Saturday's Warrior.  Chosen generation, royal priesthood.  Saved for the last days to build Zion and greet Jesus' second coming.  Destined to save the U.S. Constitution--and thereby the nation and the world--when it's been shredded by evil vicious godless people.

Yeah, I grew up with all that.  Believed it, too.  Felt very privileged.  I was gonna save the world from all the ignorant corrupt dangerous plotters of doom and evil who I was told surrounded us on all sides though we couldn't see them because they were hiding, waiting for the right time to emerge and destroy the country and the world.  And it would be up to me, imagine that, to beat them back, defend truth and freedom, and then struggle to my feet, bloody but unbowed, as I gazed up into the sky and watched Jesus descend from the heavens to re-set all of world history.  Seriously, that's what I was taught to believe and expect.

Well, needless to say, we're still all standing around waiting for the cataclysm.  Sure, the world's going through kind of a rocky patch right now, but it's certainly nothing like the Great Depression or World War 2.  People who lived back then were surely more justified in fearing the total end of the world than we are now.  And guess what.  Now it's my kid who's being told in his deacon's quorum that he is the Saturday's Warrior, the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the one reserved to be born in the last days to build Zion and greet Jesus' second coming.  Destined to save the U.S. Constitution--and thereby the nation and the world--when it's been shredded by evil vicious godless people.  Wait, that sounds familiar.

I was "special" for a long time.  Then I realized it was only in my own mind, and only because I'd been told so by other people with their own religious agenda.  And after a while, I got kinda tired of it.  Eventually "special" morphed into "weird" as I learned more of how Mormons actually came across.  I laughed out loud when I read a recent story of a briefing given to Russell Ballard of the 12 apostles on how bad of a reputation Mormons have in the United States.  What made me laugh was his reported reaction: stunned disbelief and astonishment.  Like "We've spent millions of dollars and decades of missionary effort, how could people not love us?"  Sheesh.  No wonder those guys seem like they live in an ivory tower sometimes.  Because they do!

Well I got tired of being in a local version of the same tower.  I gradually felt more and more smothered by all the rules and performance obligations.  Any spiritual growth had long since petered out, replaced by growing alarm at the mounting evidence that the Mormon church had lied about so much of its own history, to the degree that I couldn't trust it anymore.

So now I'm out.  I resigned on principle, while still keeping all the rules.  I felt it was a matter of integrity.  But I knew I didn't believe it anymore, there was no reason to stay.  So we parted ways, on good terms.

And now I'm really glad to be normal.  I'm glad to have given up that benign bigoted subliminal arrogance that comes from all that "You're Saturday's Warrior!" programming.  I'm just a guy, trying to do his best to figure things out, live an honorable life, be a good example to my kids, help and serve those around me when I can.  I love a good cup of coffee in the morning.  I love a glass of good wine with dinner, and maybe the occasional more high-powered recreational beverage when I hang out with friends.  Many times I've thought NOW I get it!  NOW I understand the whole "social lubricant" thing!  Because it really does make a difference.  I don't smoke (it's disgusting) and I don't do drugs.  Those are both nothing but harmful.  But a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with friends?  What could be more normal and congenial than that?  Two little pleasures in life that I've finally been able to appreciate.

No, that's not why I left the church, because I "wanted to sin" like this.  But having left, for solid and legitimate reasons, I can say that it's good to not be special anymore.  It's good to be normal, to feel like I can finally choose for myself from everything that life has to offer.  Not because of guilt or some responsibility somebody else imposed on me, but because of my own best judgment.  Acting for myself, and not being acted upon.  It's really, really good to just be normal at last.

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