This. This! I think I've said it about every installment, but everything you've said really, really speaks to me. In this case, especially as regards 1) moms, and 2) not mocking believers, even if you make fun of the institution.
@somethingsatanic Thanks! I'm kind of in awe of how well Stella said everything, though. I'm going to miss her series so much!
@liverwortlaura For a long time I tried to deny its effects, like Stella says here... but eventually, I had to wise up and realize that it's had life-long implications. And most of them, I'd say, aren't bad!
Oh my God, replace "Scientology" with "LDS" and you have my whole life story, down to the social science PhD program.
"Can you unlearn a language you spoke fluently as a child?" I've been trying for fifteen years, and I think... maybe not. At least, not entirely.
Thank you, Stella!
@RH Thanks for the clarification, RH! You're definitely right that the LDS language on planet-having requires the "companionship" between spouses. (But it also says that men will remain head of the household, since he holds the priesthood... so I'd agree that that the situation is "equal-opportunityISH.")
@solvingaproblemlikemaria I definitely had the same experience re: the planet stuff. But also, as a girl, I wouldn't have been eligible for my own planet, anyway.
I agree that there doesn't seem to be quite the same degree of secrecy in Mormonism as in Scientology, but members aren't usually encouraged to delve into the esoterica. My parents got into a lot of trouble while researching the role of women in the early church, the Heavenly Mother doctrine, etc. back in the eighties and nineties.
Slate recently had a pretty good piece on the suppression of Mormon intellectuals: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2012/11/d_michael_quinn_and_mormon_excommunication_the_complicated_life_of_a_mormon.html
@Jen Kiaba Yes, I think you're spot on. It can be hard to know how to balance Talking About It versus Just a Quick Mention to Demonstrate How Interesting I Am, versus Maybe I'll Just Shut Up.
And sometimes I (we?) don't even get that choice. For a while I was routinely introduced by this one guy at parties as "This is anderin. She used to be Mormon! Isn't that so weird??" Then that guy moved to Japan and I didn't have to put up with it anymore. I like to be in control of that information, even though I'm not at all embarrassed by my past.
That last sentence--"an anecdote to wield at parties, a way to mute the complexity of my family’s long entanglements with the church"--really resonated with me. As a former Mormon, I've found that most of my opportunities to talk about the church come in the form of little quips at parties... masking a drawn-out, often painful family history.
After a whole childhood of sharing a room, my older sister still addresses her sleep-talking to me, even though we live 3000 miles apart now. She's usually warning me about something stupid/dangerous I'm about to do in her dream. Her fiancé is not amused.
@Esslow I'm a (not angry) exMo, and I find it fascinating to hear about other peoples' missionary work, when presented in a storytelling (rather than proselytizing) context. That being said, my experience in the church directly influenced my decision to get a PhD in religion and politics, so my interest is probably not generalizable to the general public.
Also, my parents met on their mission to France in the late 70's!