You can’t leave it alone*

In my work in progress, Magdalene (#3 in the Dunham series), the non-Mormon heroine, Cassie, wants to ambush the (widowed) Mormon bishop hero, Mitch, at church. They’ve been dating (excruciatingly chastely) for 5 months and she is thoroughly bewildered as to why he hasn’t invited her to attend (not to mention more than a little peeved that she hasn’t been able to seduce him). Not that she wants to go to church, mind, much less join; she just had the idea that we were all about acquiring converts—which is a completely reasonable and wholly correct assumption.

Since Mitch lives in the heart of the steel belt and she lives in Manhattan, she has quite a bit of trouble figuring out which ward he oversees, where to go, and what time to be there. Thus, she turns to Mitch’s best friend, who left the church halfway through his mission and is a professed and semi-practicing pagan. He gives her the procedural rundown and says,

“The more you understand about our culture, the better you’ll understand Mitch.”

Our culture?”

“Well, yeah. Mine, too. You don’t stop being a Jew just because you convert to Christianity.”

“That’s genetic.”

“With us, it might as well be.”

I live in a place that’s rich with Mormon history, so, like any native, I take it for granted. I don’t feel any sense of heritage when I go to Utah (which state I avoid like the plague). It’s in Nauvoo, Illinois, where I feel this connection to my heritage; every time I go, I find my cynicism and willingness to snipe seeping out of my soul, leaving a refreshing softness and wistful smiles. And, well, I got married in Nauvoo. That might have something to do with it.

So I took some pictures when we were there in August for my cousin’s wedding. Enjoy.

*There’s a saying about a portion of folks who identify as ex-Mormon or recovering Mormon (yes, there is a 12-step group for it): You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.

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6 thoughts on “You can’t leave it alone*

  • December 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    One thing I think is cool about your culture and beliefs is that you guys believe in being married for ETERNITY. Not just in this life (and maybe that’s why Mormons are so big on vampires, because the vampire mythos understands this eternal mate sort of thing.)

    In mainstream Christianity it’s believed that you go to heaven and then your mate becomes more like your brother or sister. There is no marriage in heaven. There is no sex in heaven. There is no romantic love in heaven.

    W. T. F?

    Why is that “good news?” I have a hard time understanding why anyone would voluntarily convert to such a faith and be happy in it. How can someone be okay with that who has experienced real love?

  • December 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Zoe, do you want me to have a couple of nice young men stop by?

  • December 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    bwahahahahaha. That sounded like a Mafia threat. Like you were gonna have me whacked. ha! Or a threesome setup. That sentence could be read in SO many different ways. No, lol. I’m happy with my current weird and very fluid belief system haha. 😀

    And people will think I’m crazy, but I sincerely believe Tom and I have been together in lifetimes before this one.

  • December 15, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    no 3-some…these would be nice chaste boys…lol

  • January 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    (Dredging up an old post, I know, but I loved it and had to comment.)

    “You can leave the church, but you can’t leave it alone.”

    Absolutely true! In good and bad ways, both.

    My wife and I both grew up in Mormon families but are non-practicing (lapsed?). Being born into the Mormon culture is a lot like being born Jewish. Not in the sense of a shared genetic history, but in the fact that the culture and belief system are inseparable and permeate *everything.* A Mormon upbringing can’t be just erased any more than a Jewish one could be.

    My wife and I like to say that we’ve been marked by the Mormon Mafia — you can leave, but you can never leave it behind. You can get in, but you’ll never get out. Wherever we go, no matter where we’ve moved, those nice young men in dark suits and trenchcoats somehow manage to find us. (It’s my mom’s fault…she tips them off.)

  • January 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Ing, how funny!

    Yes, there’s a whole cadre of can’t-leave-it-alone blogs out there. Fascinating, really. When I leave a thing (read: organization of some type), I really do leave it and chalk it up to experience. (That’s not to say I’m leaving the church. At least not voluntarily. 😉 )


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