The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith

I really enjoyed this book, here is why…

About 2 years ago, another of my cousins, with his family, left the LDS Church. I was really caught off guard. I was a little surprised we learned the new on their blog. But I respect the decision they made, as it is their decision to make. Something else I respect is that they haven’t bad talked my faith.  They haven’t said I am wrong, wanting to stay with the Church. They haven’t made issue of why they decided to leave.  Most don’t know their reasons.  And they don’t try to convince others that their way is the right way. I have plenty of family members, both active and less active who think their way or no way and are very vocal about that.  It isn’t so fun to be around those conversations, if you can call them conversations. I have another cousin “struggling” right now with her faith. And I respect the how the cousin who did leave the Church – as he talked with this cousin, he didn’t tell her that she too should leave; he didn’t bring up his issues.  He just said that it is her decision, she needs to make that decision herself.

Back to the book. 

The author and I have a few things in common:
1) We had a number of the same professors at BYU.  I remember my first day of class with Gail Houston. She warned the class that she is a feminist. I thought it was weird she’d start class that way. In fact, her comment made me want to drop the class thinking that meant she was just going to rant about how suppressed we are as women, etc.  (I really don’t like when people imply I am a feminist, I just want equality of the sexes, especially at work.) But I ended up loving her class. She didn’t promote any of her feminist views, at least not that I noticed. I enjoyed her perspective of the books we studied.  The next semester was summer, so I just worked.  I was walking down a hall in the WILK one day, and I noticed a flyer on a wall, “In memorium of Gail Houston.” I was shocked, I wondered what happened.  I soon ran into a fellow English major, with whom I’d been in a number of classes, including Gail’s class.  I asked if she’d heard the news. She said that Gail had actually been fired.  That she had expressed the belief that we should also be praying to our Heavenly Mother – so she’d been let go.  What a waste, I thought.  The author of BOM Girl was upset by the action.

2) Another commonality: yup, we “knew” the same guy at BYU.  She dated him before his mission, I was with him a few years later.  That one made me laugh to be honest.

The last two things I’ll mention that we share are also where we differ greatly. 
3) Despite difficulties, we stick it out. 4) People refer to us as liberal Mormons.   I am going to start with the second one.  I am NOT a liberal Mormon. I AM a liberal republican.  I am a republican, but where republicans are known for their conservative beliefs, I differ in some of my views, and my beliefs are more like the liberal Democratic Party – though not enough to actually side with or claim allegiance the Democratic Party.  I AM a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I believe in the doctrine of the Church, all the doctrine. I do not have issue with the doctrines of the Church. I follow, I live all the doctrine. My issues lie with other members (a small number mind you, but their impact has been enough to really make an impact), and their interpretation of the doctrine, or their misconstruing the meaning of the words of the prophets and in the process, they offend so many people and give people the wrong idea of the LDS faith (D&C 1:30 – “…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually”). Now trust me, the statements that we are a unique people, that we are a peculiar people – they are TRUE! But we are not a mean people, we are not a rude people, we are not a judgmental people, at least we aren’t supposed to be. But that all the more makes me want to represent, and to represent well, to stick it out because I believe. I don’t stick it out because I have issues with the church and I want to still belong.  I don’t like the friends who say I’m their only LDS friend because I’m the only LDS person they like. That isn’t a compliment to me; that makes me sad.

But that being said, I am glad the author is sticking it out.  And that is why I would recommend this book to friends who struggle, not because I want them to read her issues (she actually lists them, though I skipped her list, I suggest she be like my cousin and keep her doubts to herself – I don’t care what her issues are) – but just to know they are not alone. There are other members with struggles, but they keep going.  I think that is the most important thing you can do, keep going.
We recently ran into a young man who left his mission only a few months in. He has some unresolved issues to work on and was not comfortable in the mission field. So he came home. I was told he can go back in a year. That is new to me. I thought you could go back after resolving issues.  But regardless, he has a year.  He was home a few days when I saw him, when I saw him on a date.  I don’t know the young man, I don’t know why he came home – but for me, I saw a young man not going back on a mission.  His focus has left the mission.  So, the same when friends struggle with the Church so their answer is to stop going to Church and to read a bunch of anti-LDS literature.  How is that going the help?  If you want to learn Spanish, you aren’t going to study Japanese. If you want to stay with the Church, you’ll study the gospel, you’ll attend Church.

Wow, I really feel like I’ve been on a soapbox. But this book really hit home.  The author has some stubbornness that I’ve seen in others.  As I read of her thoughts, I wondered what in my actions, what in my conversations with others have made them think I am like that – because I know I am not.

I recommend this book. Take it with a grain of salt. Know that she is just sharing her experience. She is not telling you that should be your experience.  Hopefully it will help you as you have friends or family who struggle with anything, it will help you know how to listen, how to not judge, how to love.



James and Marianne said...

I don't think that this book is being sold at Deseret Book. Which doesn't necessarily make it an anti Mormon book, but it does make me a little leery. I am like you in that I don't want to know what her specific issues are with the church. What if my testimony isn't strong enough? I realize that every church probably has some skeletons in their closets, but what if I learn about something that REALLY bothers me?

I saw her interviewed on Rock Center with Brian Williams, and I was not too impressed with her. She was saying that it really bothers her that women can't have the priesthood. Which I think is crazy. Men have the priesthood so that they can bless others, not themselves. I personally see that as a compliment from Heavenly Father that men have been given a gift that can bless me, and not themselves unless another priesthood holder is available. Also, I think that holding the priesthood develops in men qualities such as compassion, and sensitivity that are usually already inherent in women.

Anyway, I'm still not sure if I will read it, although I do appreciate hearing about others' experiences in my culture, and their take on it. Am I throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Caprene said...

No, the baby is safe.

I am definitely not surprise DB isn't selling it. I wasn't offended by anything she said. Really, I think the only time she really says what her actual issues are, is at the time she lists it all out - but again, I didn't read the list. Maybe she does talk about the issues, but because I didn't read the list, I didn't recognize her venting. She does make the point a couple times that she is a feminist and the issues with other women who were excommunicated. But I chose not to read into much of what she said.