After my presentation in April, I had a chance to do an encore presentation to a group of atheists about what it was like to grow up as a Mormon in Utah and to tell my story of leaving the LDS church and eventually becoming an atheist. This time, the whole thing was caught on video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRHZf9rUoeY&list=PL51A7C4D0693D5B03The whole presentation takes about 50 minutes. I spend the first part telling my story and telling some of the problems I have with Mormonism. It’s always a crap-shoot on how the Q&A will go, but overall I think this one went well.
I’ll admit I’m not the world’s greatest speaker and there is a lock of hair on my head that is lying way out of place. It drives me nuts to watch the video, but I’m proud of this. For the first two decades of my life I followed a religion without realizing the harm of all religions generally, but Mormonism specifically. I even spent two years as a Mormon missionary in southern California. And in the last several months, I have come to realize that as loud as the religions of this country are, I have to be as loud or louder. I helped perpetuate a myth and if I spend the rest of my life railing against it, I will never be able to undo the damage I did by preaching the lies of religion.
The presentation in Palmyra was planned to coincide with the final night of the Hill Cumorah Pageant. That didn’t sit well with some of my Facebook friends when they saw when and where I spoke.
In the end, I had to explain to Kory that our event was miles away from the Mormon’s pageant and several hours before. The conversation ended amicably, but it’s interesting too see how much people will stand up for religion, even religions they don’t practice.
After my presentation, we all went over to the pageant to see first-hand the stories Mormons like to tell. We were polite and respectful, but some of us did have some interesting conversations with missionaries.
While there, we fulfilled the Carbon County Curse. We parked next to a car with Utah plates and dealer decals from Price, Utah. After the pageant, we found out that the car belonged to Richard Wood of Price and the whole Wood family was at a family reunion. (Heather and I went to school with his son, Dan Wood, and daughter-in-law, Wendy Bjornson, when we were at CEU. They were at the pageant, but we did not see them.) It turns out Richard knows my uncle, Gary Dinkelman.
Meeting them meant, I was called “Brother Bowen” for the first time in many years. That was a little unnerving and gave me flashbacks to my life as a Mormon. I think the last time anyone addressed me as “Brother Bowen” was when the LDS Church records division wrote me a letter in 2006 officially acknowledging my renunciation of faith.
It was nice to hear the candid discussion about everything, especially the stuff about your brother. I remember when he went away to school, something happened, and it was super hush hush about what actually went down. Coming over as your home teacher in my late teens, before I stopped going to church, it was always pretty interesting to see your parents clam up when he would be mentioned.