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  • For the last several weeks I have been following the events of one man's excommunication from his faith, the faith of my childhood. These recent news reports have made me reflect on my own process of being disciplined by the Mormon religion. Below is a portion of what I wrote to the group of men who took it upon them to determine my place in the afterlife. The photograph included with this story is from a hike that I took during the winter of 2011/2012, the year I wrote this response.

    …Brethren, you know the scripture and verse that states that if any man lack wisdom let him ask of god… How long will it take to receive an answer? How will God answer? Will God answer? For 31 years I have been asking. I am still asking. And all I know as per my experiences over the last few years is that I have learned for myself that Mormonism is no truer than any other religion, Presbyterianism included.

    I believe, brethren, that I am here on the earth today because my mother gave birth to me 31 years ago. I believe I was born into a family where my parents loved me and taught me valuable lessons. I believe in the strength of communities and in wild places. I believe that I know nothing about the afterlife, indeed nothing about God, or who he/she is. I sometimes feel that when I am dead and gone I will be returned to the dirt from whence I came and this makes me want to be a better person while I am organized as this person. I do not believe in being subject to kings presidents or magistrates. I believe in the laying on of hands by those who love one another and care deeply, with their whole heart, for one another. I believe that life is poetic and that we share these experiences with one another. I believe in laughing, even loudly. I believe everyone should be allowed to worship how where and what they may.

    Finally, brethren, I deeply respect you as individuals and indeed I would call some of you friends. And the thought that I have caused you take time out of your lives, away from your families, fills me with grief. We ought to be celebrating, not assessing my membership in the church. And if I am to have learned anything from my recent interactions with the church it is that the power of encouragement and compassion will always trump malice and discipline. Brethren, I will respect your decision, whatever it is, with understanding of church protocol and tradition.

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