Heater, Mother of Lance

Reason Number 16

There are several reasons why I left the Mormon Church, all of which I’ve only ever articulated to my husband and, on occasion, my dog. Many of these reasons are not only related to why I left Utah in the first place, but they are also inextricable from Utah culture as a whole. And I thought that after four years of distance and intermittent therapy I might be capable of coming back here without feeling the bitterness that sent me fleeing in the first place.

Just a side note here: I already know that many of you are going to complain that I’m talking about the Mormons again and that you like it when my posts talk about funny things, couldn’t I just stop being so serious because this is really getting boring. And don’t think that I haven’t considered turning off my comments when people make remarks like that, as if the sole purpose of maintaining my website it to entertain some 13-yr old in Wisconsin who likes to talk about farts.

When I moved to California I never listened to the radio, except for NPR, and I never watched the local news, except for Good Day LA and then only because I couldn’t wait to see what Jillian Barberie had sticking out of her water bra. I never felt a need in California to keep up with social or political currency because it surrounded me, almost suffocated me. It was like, everyone knew that a bill was being considered to outlaw gay marriage, not by watching the local NBC affiliate, but by osmosis.

But here in Utah I can’t stop listening to the radio, regardless of the endless stream of mind-numbing bubba dink music from Linkin Park or Creed or, for the love of God, Puddle of Fucking Mud. I watch the local news every night, if only to perform my duty as a Democrat living in Utah, sometimes to figure out how they get all that blonde hair to encircle that woman’s face like a gold laminate life saver every time.

And I know it’s only been four years, and that people need some time to change, but the same issues and the same reactions are happening right now, this morning, just as they were a decade, two decades, four generations of Polygamist colonization ago.

And the main issue that gets me every time, that rips free the hardening scab to expose a bubbling, bitter hole in my soul is the idea that if I can’t just be quiet and accept the way things are here, I should just move elsewhere. I was told this at BYU, that if I couldn’t accept the leadership of the Prophet of God, who sat on the board of directors of the school, that I should just leave, that hundreds of thousands of other willing disciples would love to take my place and that they wouldn’t complain.

Now I hear it when I make the slightest peep to disagree with the fact that the Mormon Church and the Utah State Government are almost one complete unit. I’m supposed to just accept that Utah is predominantly Mormon, and that subsequently a government by the people and for the people of Utah is going to cater to Mormon people. But what I’m not allowed to point out is that I am one of those people now, one of those people who pays taxes and purchases local goods, a person who regularly contributes to the local economy.

And so, I guess to be honest and maybe as an attempt to continue healing, I’ll tell you that this issue is one of the reasons why I left the Mormon Church. And although it may seem like an issue specific to just Utah culture, you have to understand that for a Mormon it’s very hard to disagree with any Mormon doctrine or practice and still maintain good standing in the church. And I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I have a hard time agreeing with anything.

  • heather

    2002/12/16 at 6:53 am

    Maybe you need to find others in the Utah minority. There has to be some other people who aren’t Mormon, and that aren’t there just to ski.

  • jennifer

    2002/12/16 at 6:54 am

    I don’t mind that you are not talking farts or being funny all the time. We, your loyal fans, love you and your blog – with farts and philosophy. I understand the frustration with local politics. I live in the middle of red neck Canada and am often ashamed of my fellow inhabitants. Good luck with the disagreements.

  • Kevin

    2002/12/16 at 7:04 am

    I’ve struggled with the same problem. I got to a point where I had to start digging and find the distinctions between the Religion and the culture. The Utah Mormon culture is pervasive in the Church. It takes a lot of energy keeping the two separate, and most people don’t bother, and don’t see the difference when it’s pointed out to them. I’ve considered leaving the church as well, but realized I believe in the Religion much more than I disagree with the insular, narrow-minded culture. As eloquent as you are about farts, I’m more impressed with your eloquence on the serious stuff. Keep it up!

  • The Mighty Jimbo

    2002/12/16 at 7:04 am

    You could always try Arizona. Low cost of living, plenty of Mormons to keep you from getting homesick, and enough silicone and botox and Scottsdale to remind you of LA. All that and plenty of firearms too!

  • Keith

    2002/12/16 at 7:10 am

    Don’t know too much about the Mormon content there, but Arizona is nice. I just moved my parents there, so I’ve become pretty well-versed with the Tucson area. Oh, and Water Bra Airhead Jillian Barberie & I both miss you back here in Los Angeles.

  • Cory

    2002/12/16 at 7:10 am

    I moved to SLC 4 years ago after having lived in and followed progressive, lefty places and politics my whole life. I can’t speak to what it might be like to leave behind your family’s Church and then move to the place that appears entrenched in it culturally and politically but there is a small but sure community of artistic, progressive 20/30/40-something thinkers in this town that you and Jon will find. (Many of them happen to frequent the dog parks in town, too.)

  • stacey

    2002/12/16 at 7:11 am

    As one of many “recovering Catholics,” one who lives in the Boston area, no less, I truly understand how the culture of blind acceptance is rammed down your throat in Utah. Honestly, if we didn’t have so many universities and colleges in Massachusetts I’m sure we’d be suffering a drought of questioning, intelligent, liberal folks here as well. Keep pushing back, Dooce. And don’t apologize for it.

  • DirtyBillLover

    2002/12/16 at 7:11 am

    Girl, you have no only outlined the problems that you have with the Mormon church, but have also (minus the state issue) outlined my issues with the Catholic church. There is no returning to the fold when you have been blessed with the kind of mind that always-no matter what- wants to fight the power.

    Get down with your bad self.

  • Beerzie Boy

    2002/12/16 at 7:16 am

    Dooce, Serious is good, too. Too much of one genre is dull.

    Regarding Utah, I would tell you that I understand why you moved there, but if you are unhappy (and I know that this is easier said than done) you should put together a plan to get out.

    I have never been stuck in a place in which I was miserable (I live in NorCal) but I have been at miserable jobs, (redundant?) and rather than banging my head against the wall and trying to change them, I hunkered down and tried to devise a plan to get out. Even if it is a five-year plan, if you know you are working your way out, and this can help set your mind at ease.

  • Darren

    2002/12/16 at 7:16 am

    If it’s any consolation, your situation is hardly unique to Utah. When anyone asks (not that anyone does), I usually describe myself as a “recovering evangelical,” which means that I also don’t understand why some sinners are perfectly content to condemn other sinners to hell (usually from the comfort of their Mercedes or Land Rover). For now, I’m trapped in the Bible Belt — East Tennessee — where my representative to the state House, who, by the way, “never been to college,” runs unopposed every four years on the inbred, guns-rights ticket. I feel for you, Dooce.

  • dennis

    2002/12/16 at 7:16 am

    I think Heather is onto something — maybe you should try to find some like-minded people. The last thing you want is to have a Ren and Stimpy-style freak-out due to pent up stress.

  • Ex-liontamer

    2002/12/16 at 7:19 am

    “Illegitimi Non Carborundum”, baby.

  • robyn

    2002/12/16 at 7:24 am

    After reading this and Blurb’s latest post, i’m not only afraid of mormans, i’m afraid of utah too! my only experience with the Mormon Church was a weekend spent with Morman relatives during which we went to their church. i never could put my finger on it, but i was VERY CREEPED OUT. they all seemed like drones. drones that wanted to lure me in and never let me leave. eek! and so, i think you’re mighty brave for moving back….

  • Zan

    2002/12/16 at 7:30 am

    Sorry to see that folks are being so hard-headed, Dooce. I would hope that those people who are showing such piety toward the Mormon church would also recognize your rights as an American to disagree. I believe that when we give up challenging those things we disagree with, we begin to slowly die. Granted, the opposition is stiff sometimes, and it certainly is not easy to live in the face of adversity. I sincerely wish you the best of luck. Take care. And don’t forget to let Chuck out.

  • Angelique

    2002/12/16 at 7:31 am

    It is strong women like yourself who make the mundane and often belittling practices of the world seem that much more unsettling. I enjoy hearing you purge on these topics. It makes me smile to think that in the dankness of conformity in that state, a sassy-haired goddess is a light of sarchasm and wit for those who hold a slight doubt as to their own comfort in that environment. Your children will be subjected to the same culture you were as a child, but they will have the advantage of a mom and dad who have seen so much of the outside world. Your future little ones are fortunate to have parents that will encourage them to be open to different lives, but to question those lifestyles in accordance with the path of their own. You need to purge this stuff, dooce…. and I enjoy hearing it. Keep up the fight, damn the man, save The Dooces.

  • Naaman

    2002/12/16 at 7:33 am

    What’s Chuck’s reaction when you tell him that the symbiotic relationship of church and state in Utah is f-ed up?

  • Jen

    2002/12/16 at 7:44 am

    bubba dink?

  • PJ

    2002/12/16 at 7:48 am

    Growing up Catholic, going to parochial schools and all, I think Catholic kids are pretty much indoctrinated to toe the Church line in much the same way. Hell, I still feel guilty every Sunday when we don’t go to Mass. It is a mortal sin, and if I died later that day without going to confession, or ‘Reconciliation’ as it’s called now, I would go to Hell. (Please note all things referring to the Church are capitalized to emphasize their primacy in our lives.) Many of us, and I think it’s an American thing, oftentimes continue to do what we damn well please anyway. Birth control is an issue that Rome has a big problem with as far as American Catholics are concerned, because the Church’s position on it is fairly widely ignored. They say we can’t pick and choose which things we want to believe in and follow, but it’s working for me. Now I must go say ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys. The only other thing your situation brings to mind is that it is kinda like being a Republican in Chicago.

  • farty

    2002/12/16 at 7:52 am

    This is precisely what all those awesome dudes were fighting over when they wrote the federalist and anti-federalist papers, which I read as a 13 year old Wisconsinite, OK? The point of Democracy is emphatically not to create a tyranny of the majority over the minority. How about this: Utah! Love it enough to change it. If people don’t like what you have to say, just tell ’em if they don’t likeit, THEY CAN LEAVE.

  • Rachel

    2002/12/16 at 7:58 am

    Dooce, I’m a lapsed Mormon as well (BYU ’97), living in Seattle. I totally hear ya, and am drawn to your site because it often echoes my sentiments *exactly.*

    Like Ex-Liontamer says, Illegitimi Non Carborundum. Good luck finding your kindred spirits–I only found a few while living there. But, they’re there.

  • Sarah B.

    2002/12/16 at 8:05 am

    I would just like to echo Pavement on the Schoolhouse Rock Rocks CD when I say “That’s what I call taxation without representation, and that’s not fair! It’s wrong! It’s fucking facism!”

  • Alvin

    2002/12/16 at 8:19 am

    I for one have been ragging on the Pope for the longest time so to hear someone placing thought on the Mormon organization, well, thatís refreshing. At least the head cat there isnít hobbling around blessing everything from newspaper stands to vending machines thinking that they are little misfortunate individuals

  • Erika

    2002/12/16 at 8:24 am

    I’ve been checking out your site for awhile now and I love it. There’s one thing I need clarification on, do you have kids? I thought you had twins and you posted their pictures a lot more. Just curious if it’s just you, Jon, and Chuck or if there are lil blonde twins in there somewhere. 🙂 Those babies were cute!

  • James

    2002/12/16 at 8:40 am

    Tonight, on “Mormon Underground” (in Technicolor)…

    “Dammit, I need a drink”
    “Careful! Use of language like that may increase our ratings, but it will raise suspicions of the local gentry.”
    “I know. I’m sorry.”
    “Maybe you should swing by Starbucks and get yourself a glass of… whatever they serve at a Utah Starbucks…”
    “Milk. It’s all milk now. No-fat milk.”
    “Fine. I’ll go work on the still.”
    Bom bom boooommmmm

    Next week, on a very special “Mormon Underground”

    “Bob! You non-Mormon underpants are showing!!! Get out of sight!”

  • the media

    2002/12/16 at 8:45 am

    hey thats why god created alcohol. drink heavily, everything will be ok.

  • john

    2002/12/16 at 8:50 am

    I visit Dooce because of the writing. Writing well requires a passion, a passion that shows when you write about Utah.

    You also apparently have a passion for farting, which is fine too.

  • megchem

    2002/12/16 at 8:57 am

    I agree with the media…that is how i survive in LA….dooce, there’s a 26 year old in LA that likes fart stories….is that bad? Move to boulder that’s where I’m headin whether it takes one year or 10…mama like!

  • Glovia

    2002/12/16 at 9:19 am

    You know, cults are like that. You agree, or you’re out. But, of course, mormonism is not a cult. Of course.

  • mormon

    2002/12/16 at 9:23 am

    you could have moved
    anywhere in the country, but *you* chose Utah.

  • kgjbnme

    2002/12/16 at 9:30 am

    Dooce, baby, talk about the Mormonics all you want — it’s entertaining, thought-provoking, and kickass, no matter what. Now, as for your situation: after graduating from Columbia, I moved back to my Southern-Baptist-dominated small hometown in Texas for a couple of months, then moved an hour or so away to go to grad school (also in smalltown church-oriented Texas), and especially after NYC, it felt like a sojourn on the moon. I was depressed, I drank more than I should have, but in retrospect, it was a pretty great 20 months — the Husband (who was just the Boyfriend then) and I were our own little world. And we made some great friends & had good times & ended up saving enough money to move to SF, where we’ve been for 4.5 years now. You & Chuckles & Senor Scrumptious will find like-minded friends and form your own Doocerific world out there… and we, your readers, will reap the benefits.

  • Chelle

    2002/12/16 at 9:46 am

    Ooh, ow, augh, much bashing of the Catholics going on in the comments. Not all of us are sheep, yanno. (Unless you count the Biblical statements about the Good Shepherd and his fold, &c, &c…let’s leave that train of thought, it does _nothing_ for my argument.)

    Anyway — keep your head up, Dooce. We’re rooting for you.

  • Alli

    2002/12/16 at 10:05 am

    I think you should continue to discuss topics that mean something to you. Don’t cater to the 13-year-old in Wisconson. Cater to yourself.

  • Chris

    2002/12/16 at 10:09 am

    I think there are probably millions of folks in Utah and the Mormon church who are living lives of “quiet disperation”. Don’t be one of them.

  • Sara, Brad and George

    2002/12/16 at 10:22 am

    Move back to LA..please. I’ll even let Chuck pee on my leg for ole’ times sake. Called you today, call me back! Hang in there. love to you three-

  • Jeff

    2002/12/16 at 10:29 am

    It’s too bad they didn’t call themselves “Puddle of Fucking Mud.” That might actually have been an interesting band.

  • Beth

    2002/12/16 at 10:33 am

    I wanted to send a little bit of support. I love your site (it is part of my morning wake-up ritual). I don’t think it is just Utah or just the Mormons. Where ever you go, there you are. The people you find might make you screaming nuts, but they’re just human for the most part. I still think it is healthy to bitch about your differences and stomp around a lot. You have a very strong voice. I think you will be okay. Just keep writing.

  • Heather #2

    2002/12/16 at 10:36 am

    Maybe you and John could start your online paper thing again. Something to pull likeminded Utah-ians into your social circle, leaving you with daily enlightening conversations about issues in which there actually exists a point, something for which to strive, hope, conversations with passion. Figure out what it will take for you to not whither away. And as another reader pointed out, one day you want to have children that you will raise in this place. If you are going to stay there, help to make it a place you’d like them to be raised. You are blessed to have such a wonderful life partner (or two!) – you all have proven you can make it through anything, eh? Lean on each other and continue to keep it ril!

  • Billy

    2002/12/16 at 11:10 am

    I echo Ex-Liontamer’s thought, but then go one more step: Sue the bastards — you ought to be able to find a copy of the U.S. Constitution that has not been redacted by THE CHURCH. Or maybe not — suing is evil.

  • Stephanie

    2002/12/16 at 11:45 am

    I too, am an ex-Mormon. I can understand why it would be difficult to live in Mormonland. I also have a hard time agreeing with everything, and would have just as difficult time as you in your position. Other than to sympathize with you, though, I don’t really know what to say. It’s difficult turning your back on something that has seeped into your entire being – and harder than that to then be immersed in the very culture you despise (or at least disagree with). I feel for you, sista. PS, if it’s your thang, you should check out http://www.notamormon.com. Lots of recovering’s over there.

  • ex-liontamer

    2002/12/16 at 11:58 am

    “Audemus iura nostra defendere”, dude.

  • nicole

    2002/12/16 at 11:58 am

    surely the reason you moved back to Utah is greater than all the reasons why you left . . ?

  • Stephanie

    2002/12/16 at 11:58 am

    In fact, the more I think about it, if I ever lived in Utah I believe I would be forced to do all kinds of outrageous things to advertise my disagreement with Mormonism. And the things I have in mind wouldn’t exactly be the mature way to handle my anger. 🙂

  • shel

    2002/12/16 at 12:14 pm

    Living in Canada, we notice that Americans are particularly obsessed with religion these days, and it’s getting worse.

    perhaps you should move to Canada. sure, it’s colder, and aside from the wasteland of redneckia that I happen to reside in, it’s generally much more tolerant of a lot of things. including the freedom from religion.

  • Kelly

    2002/12/16 at 12:17 pm

    Dooce, write about anything that passes through your gorgeous head! It doesn’t matter what it is, because you can write. The way you spin a sentence inspires the shit out of me. Well. Not literally. Love your site and hope you find peace in Utah.

  • Jenny

    2002/12/16 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, your words are my thoughts, girlie. I, too, am a lefty dem living right in the heart of all this culturized ‘b.o.m.-belt’ Mormon govt. I feel your pain. I am sick of the front page of the newspaper ALWAYS having something to do with ‘the church.’ I also wish I didn’t have to worry about where I am going to raise my kids one day when I have them… cause it sure as hell won’t be here. I don’t want them traumatized by the other kids… you know… “What? Your not Mormon? You’re going to Hell!” There is so much to say about all this. Welcome to the state. There are enough of us here for a support group, at least.

  • semaphoria

    2002/12/16 at 12:25 pm

    oh my heck! i left utah seven years ago to come to the northwest. never looked back.

    no matter how beautiful the mountains, no matter how safe the streets – the politics will always be waiting there to disgust you in the end. the catholics are nothing next to the mormons.

    the only thing left to do is drink mad amounts of coffee and liquor and streak through temple square while it’s all lit up purty for xmas!

  • eponymous

    2002/12/16 at 12:26 pm

    I might have missed it but why did you move back to Utah instead of a place in LA that didn’t have dog threatening neighbors?

  • Katie

    2002/12/16 at 12:42 pm

    Every other religion, known to man, wants you to question things and wonder why things are the way they are. Sounds fishy to me.

  • Cody

    2002/12/16 at 12:56 pm

    Well, I’m happy as a Catholic but I’d still shudder at the thought of my Church running my local Government. That’s so, like, Middle Ages.

    And no, we don’t capitalize everything having to do with the Church. For instance “heretic” “apostate” and “agnostic” are all lower case. 🙂

  • dooce

    2002/12/16 at 1:04 pm

    for clarification, there are many reasons we moved back to Utah, including but not limited to:

    – immediate family on my side and my husband’s side, all of whom can’t wait to be a support group when I start popping out Little Scrumptious Bearded Babies.

    – lots of nieces and nephews and cousins and Aunt Lolas who like to tell fart stories at the most inappropriate times, like say, at the formal dinner where you and your husband are introducing your respective families.

    – fantastic mountain biking and hiking and scenic driving, some of the best (if not THE best) skiing and snowboarding in the world.

    – cost of living

    – totally psychotic sunsets

    – Brewvies

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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