IF There’s Sunshine in Your Heart Today

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Mormons by mark Monday April 13, 2009

Yep, The Mormon worldwide conference is always the 1st of April, and KBYU will re-run those sessions on the Easter w/e. While scrolling through the channel list, I saw it on…..hit the button and heard one of the Hymns I always thought a little cheesy when sung by a local farming town congregation where half of those singing sound just a tiny bit like wailing, some can’t HIT the pitch, and some are ALWAYS angry unless a hymn being sung in church IS also an angry stern song.

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(note: photo probably taken around 1950-1960…when I would have been humming this little tune)

So, I listened to the choir solemnly sing, and next thing you know, I’ve started humming, then singing on re-call 50 years old directly reflecting how catchy this little sunshine tune was.
Yep, the lyrics ARE a little cheesy, but if you’re going to read ‘em, at least go to the link I show here first and HERE how the tune goes. They are a perfect match. It was NOT a pioneer song, but written in 1899, well after they were already well on the way to building ZION in Utah….and note, I don’t know WHY, the but Tab Choir sings it like it was a dirge:

YOU CAN MAKE THE PATHWAY BRIGHT

Now that you’ve “heard” the Mormon Choir sing it rather soulfully and completely muted, TRIPLE the page of the song, and sing along to these bright little sunshiny words:

You can make the pathway bright, Fill the soul with heaven’s light,
If there’s Sunshine in your heart;
Turning darkness into day, As the shadows fly away,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

(chorus):
If there’s sunshine in your heart.
You can send a shining ray that will turn the night to day,
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

(2)
You can speak the gentle word, To the heart with anger stirred,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Tho it seems a little thing, It will heaven’s blessings bring,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

(3)
You can do a kindly deed, To your neighbor in his need,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And his burden you will share As you lift his load of care,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

(4)
You can live a happy life In this world of toil and strife,
If there’s …..(yes repeat, repeat)
And your soul will glow with love From the perfect light above,
If there’s …..(yes repeat, repeat)
.

(Chorus).

WELL? Whaddya’ think? Cheesy, OR………..are you now humming along and thinking a little brighter. That was always my “thing” with this hymn. I kind of hated it, but ended up humming it unable to get it out of my head for hours.

Next time maybe I’ll review my most HATED hymn from the old book.

Hold to the Rod! The Iron Rod!

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Mormons,Religion by mark Friday April 3, 2009

I was waching Democracy Now this morning. Just above that channel on our channel “list” is the Mormon Media Channel KBYU – - – and Yes, they were having the “Young Women’s Conference Session”…………… I just got reminded…The Mormon Worldwide semi-annual Conference SPRING sessions are always the first weekend in April, timed with the coming of Easter. I noted the current show as “Young Women’s Conference Session”.
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I tuned in, just to see what that Perky BLONDE woman, deeply tan, and Hair SO STIFF, I’m sure an entire CAN of Hair Spray went into creating the coiffure was “saying”…………………. Would I remember any of the “catch-phrases” ??

Believe me, in the 5 minutes I watched her I think I got ‘em all in her speech………….it took me back to sitting in those meetings and hearing these phrases every every week (or DAY if you were in seminary):

Cling to the Iron Rod
Stay on the Straight and Narrow Path
Stay away from the “Mists of Darkness”
Satan wants women confused about Chastity (I think a lot of Men want women confused too, not to mention a bit submissive)
Listen to your “Latter Day Prophets”
There is strength in Youth. Shall the Youth of Zion Falter?
The Fruit of the Tree of Life is in your loins
Stand in Holy Places not on soiled ground
Remain Virtuous
Turn off your TV, your Computer, and P/U the Book of MORMON!
3 daily habits to pursue: 1) Pray morning & nite, 2) read the Book of Mormon EVERY day, 3) Smile. This way you can avoid Satan
The Holy Ghost must be Your constant Companion
Listen to your Priesthood Leaders
Build your Spiritual Temple stone by stone
You CAN repent
I BEAR you this Testimony…………….in the name of
Arise and RETURN to Virtue!
Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel!

It reminded of the last lovely term I well remember from my lessons:
Outer Darkness………………..
**My own brother was excommunicated years ago for admitting he didn’t believe the dogma. The people who are excommunicated for these reasons are told by the “committee” that kicks ‘em out that they will be banished for eternity from any salvation, they have NO chance for any redemption, they will be scorned, etc etc etc. Pretty scary stuff. That’s why MANY, I’m sure, NEVER dare question “authority”. Ah, the plan works then, doesn’t it.

I was a bit surprised. Somehow I thought they would have new words of wisdom for these women, since their demographic is completely different than it was then. But no. I know if I asked one of “them”, the answer would be, “But the Truths we teach are constant.”

OH well…………..a little trip down memory lane for me, and I kind of enjoyed it looking from my new viewpoint. I’m certainly happy in my new religion: The LOVE of Nature.

By the way.. . . . Remember the Mormon Missionaries who created the “shirtless” calendar. This was the guy who created it:
Shirtless Mormons
He was excommunicated for making the calendar. So I guess he’ll be going to outer darkness. I also guess he’ll be singing to himself there: “Oh, What a Lonely Boy, what’ll I do?”

I’m quite happy there is no room for a God that could possibly create heavens and earth but still have some most primitive capacity to kick people in the ass so crudely. With that, I have borne my testimony!

Dustin Lance Black – A Beautiful Speech.

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Gay,General Home Life,Mormons by mark Monday February 23, 2009

Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech at last night’s Oscar Awards became personal for thousands of Mormon gay kids who live under perpetual treatment by their Church as unworthy, immoral people. This brought me to tears partly bringing memories of my own:

Hurray to Mr. Black !!! (and his Mom).

Mormons: Continue to snuff Gay Rights in Utah

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Gay,General Home Life,Mormons,Religion by mark Wednesday February 18, 2009

The Mormon owned SALT LAKE TRIBUNE today reports that Utah HB 160, a state House Bill was defeated………… it’s purpose? SIMPLY to give GAY COUPLES rights to inheritance and the right to make medical decisions for each other.
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Now that it’s also coming out that the official CHURCH itself DID give some money to causes that were propping up Prop 8 in California (the marriage bill), then to follow that with defeating THIS simple legislation? IF I WERE gay in UTAH………..I’d be fighting like hell for some rights, OR………I’d be getting out. If you’re curious you can go to this EQUALITY UTAH page and read exactly what was in this mild bill simply asking for a bit of recognition.

I feel for those Gay couples living under this kind of condemnation…….. By the way, the Church should lose its Tax exempt status…….it truly has, with a heavy hand, entered the political arena.

Another Mormon Resigns and gives up his Right-to-a-Planet

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Gay,General Home Life,Mormons,Political by mark Friday November 14, 2008

POSTSCRIPT: Saturday. We just returned from a Prop 8 Protest Rally in the South Park Blocks of our Fair City.
markandjary
I am guessing 1000 were there…..we had quite a chat with two boys and friends from Mesa, AZ….together for five years in the AZ town that HAS a Mormon temple….the very one my Folks were married in (aug 1933)…..they were married in Riverside County, CA (Palm Springs), the county my brother lives in that voted FOR Prop 8. One of the boys was Mormon. They are BOTH living here now as students at PSU…one to become a Lawyer and one a Doctor! As we were with them, they were interviewed by Ch 8, NBC affiliate for the local news tonight….and then another couple came up one of whom IS a still believing Mormon that attends his Ward Meetings every Sunday. he had an interesting experience: “We were married in Vancouver BC….and since I AM married legally there, the Church can NOT accuse me of having unmarried sex…… They leave us alone.” **His partner was Jewish. A GREAT rally! We ran into old friend Roushdi and his new friend James, we ran into Jerry Orlando and CityWoof Marc with whom we lunched afterwards. GREAT TIME !!! YOU shoulda BEEN THERE .

You can see some of the pictures Rodger took at his link on SCUFF Flicker Photos.

/ mark

= = =
In 1964, this shot was taken just ahead of my senior piano recital at the Church, yes the Mormon Church, the religion I was raised in.
mark1964

It only took a few years from that date for me to leave the Church, shortly after the Mormon Mission and coming out. I never made it official until now. A lot of time has passed:
mark2008

After watching them spawn discrimination, split families, create prejudice and misunderstanding, despite their scandalous public history, I have finally joined those who are demanding they remove our names from their official records.

Part of it is a form letter, but I added my own thoughts at the end. This letter was sent to the Presiding Bishopric in Salt Lake yesterday, and I have felt a new send of liberation ever since. I wish I’d sent this years ago:

= = = = = = = = = =

Mark Huffaker
Birth Date: October 24, 1946
9336 NW Skyline Blvd, Portland, OR 97231

November 14, 2008

Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310

To Whom it May Concern:

This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs and ‘discipline’. As I am no longer a member, I want my name permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.

I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand what you consider the ‘seriousness’ and the ‘consequences’ of my actions. I am aware that the church handbook says that my resignation “cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings” I also understand that I will be “readmitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview”.

My resignation should be processed immediately, without any ‘waiting periods’. I am not going to be dissuaded and I am not going to change my mind. I expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect and with full confidentiality.

After today, the only contact I want from the church is a single letter of confirmation to let me know that I am no longer listed as a member of the church.

Do NOT make attempts to contact me other than via U.S. Mail. No Visiting Teachers, No Bishopric, NOTHING. You people have violated so many basic tenets of Christianity I am appalled. The number of families divided since your blatant entry into the Political World, and, of course, violating the Constitution demands of keeping Church and State separate not to mention violating the Doctrine and Covenants clearly stating the Church should never enter into Civic matters, is wrenching.

Sincerely,

Mark L. Huffaker

-= = = = = = =-
Note in the letter, I bowed to their “requirement” that I supposedly give UP my “temple” blessings, Priesthood (power), etc etc. If I hadn’t, they likely would be knocking on my door to make sure I would be “aware” I was a-gonna be goin’ to the “lower kingdoms”, “Telestial” that is, or the Mormon version of Hell. Ooooooh! I am SO scared!

I am not angry now, I’m laughing. I am in awe of how Mormons and Blacks who’ve gone through so much persecution in their lives, once given an opportunity, immediately turn on a group they do NOT understand and “persecute”.

I AM confident this is the LAST generation who will hold onto that prejudiced view. The BIGGEST segment of voters in California voting “YES” for this were the “OLD” people…………… It IS the Young voters, Mormon and Non-Mormon alike who voted against this. I am SO proud of them.

= =

Mormon Hypocrisy on Prop 8

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Mormons,Political,Religion by mark Thursday November 6, 2008

Why am I not surprised?

NOW that Mormons, Catholics, Pentacostals have brought about discrimination and disdain towards gays by telling them they can’t marry (and I AM reminded of the not so distant time Blacks could not marry Whites)……….. they have released a News bit yesterday:

Elder Clayton, a big guy in the “Council of Seventies” has asked all Church members for civility, love, kindness to be restored …………….. How Hypocritical! They created a division in their own religion for those families who have Gay kids, and in places, a crisis of faith. They have even caused in-fighting within the Church let alone the cost of fighting this civil right all over again to the taxpayers in the future.

No MATTER they embraced the outright lies, fear-mongering that the Pro-8 ads engendered among the uneducated or born-agains, NOW they want to act like they are an “innocent” participant in an election process that will bring a rise in hate crimes toward us among other things.

One MUST REMEMBER that MARRIAGE did NOT BEGIN as a religious ritual. IT WAS a civil affair.

Oh well. Religion once again shows its true colors. We love ya, Brother, as long as you are just like us. Why don’t they just put on the White sheets like the boys of old so we can tell who they are while they’re walking down the street.

At LEAST Oregon finally got rid of the hypocrital bigot Mormon Gordon Smith out of the Senate. He coneded this morning to the Democratic Challenger. Yeah!

Mormons and the Misery of Sin

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Mormons,Political,Religion by mark Wednesday October 22, 2008

I have just become aware of a second Gay Mormon “support” group (Affirmation is the one begging the Church for recognition and acceptance as they “are”)…………….. Finding the Evergreen International Group however has made me doubly sad. It is yet another Christian “Gay Recovery” ministry. Mormons state that acting on your homosexual tendencies will lead to a Life of Misery and Sin. I read on one of their pages a quote from their most recently deceased ***”Prophet”*** , G. B. Hinckley who emphatically stated (in their LAST financially backed campaign in California to fight gay marriage), —Marriage is valid only for a man and woman (note: Polygamy, of course, is still carefully omitted and remains doctrinally soundly locked institutionally in “sacred scripture” …..THAT one ain’t going away. Their doctrine states polygamy WILL be re-instated in the future….)

Both of these groups are made up of Believers in Mormon doctrine. For that reason alone, they are on a frustrating and emotionally painful and often self-destructive road to a life unfulfilled.

I can’t quite put my self in their frame of reference to this religion and realize that I can only discuss my own experience. I’m happy to know young kids growing up now have so much science data for research and can truly understand why they are the way they are. ALL science except religiously skewed and biased studies can tell you it’s genetic. That being said, one is NOT going to change the object of his sexual attraction.

I grew up in a sheltered little farm town right after WWII. Sex in any form was not discussed in public or in the home. As a result, I had NO idea that the “attraction” I was feeling was something I “assumed” was part of growing up and would go away when I had a “girlfriend.” I at least sensed enough NEVER to hint I possessed those feelings because yes, somehow, SOME of the non-Mormon (and in my own mind, urbane) town kids knew enough to call names to boys that were different, and it wasn’t in a good way. I paid no attention, because, I still “assumed” those feelings would vanish as I grew up…..(and got married in the Mormon temple, then everything would be “right”).

At 19, I came to have faith that the requisite Mormon mission would “cure” these now lingering and deeper feelings. The feelings did not go away, and I began to understand that it was not simply sexual attraction that was inside my head. I wasn’t cured, and at 21, I realized those feelings had a name. It was getting serious. I thought therapy on my return to BYU would cure them. That didn’t. What I learned finally at 21 that I had fallen in love. I simply assumed that relationship was going to become pretty much the same as the marriages I knew all around me. We left the Church, aided by the fact, I had NEVER felt the big “Holy Ghost” knock on my head revealing to ME that the Mormons WERE the ONLY TRUE path to God……… In truth, for THAT matter, GOD had never hinted to me He was around either. So perhaps LEAVING the Church wasn’t as hard for me as it was for others. And I was in LOVE !!!!

Well, that character was only in my life 2 years, and I do blame his own Mormon background partially. He was overcome with guilt about being open so continued to act out closeted fantasies often observed in men who can’t accept those same feelings I’d had, they’d heard from their Church leaders about this “Misery” would lead to. That 1st ‘love” continued lying, sneaking, acting out. At a point of final disgust for how he was treating me and our relationship, it was brought to an abrupt end. Sure, I still was completely naive and made plenty of my own mistakes, but even now, I fault not having learned when I should have, had I had any access to valid information, any skills in being who I was.

And what’s the point of this blabber?

I am finding that although forbidden by their own “scriptures” (The Doctrine and Covenants) to be involved in political matters affecting the government. SEE D&C 134:9 to read it prohibits church members from using religious beliefs to influence civil government: “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”

Despite that, I find in simple research ( mormonsfor8.com ) that 47% of the funding to get the anti-gay initiative passed comes from Mormons who ARE only 2% of California’s population. This is not undue influence?

I feel so strongly for any LDS Mormon kid just feeling foreshadowings that he may be GAY, especially if he’s in one of these donor families. He will go through the same struggles (or worse) than I did back in the naive 1950′s. He will have NO ONE he will dare ask questions to. He will hide his feelings, feel shame, embarrassment, exclusion, loneliness, despair. As he approaches his 20′s, he may even go through the suppression therapy thinking they will “CURE” him of his inside nature. WITH HIGH HOPES, I will believe that he will LEAVE his false sad Mormon life and discover his worth, the beauty of the world, and love.

I also hope, if he is so inclined, he gets married……………..because he wants to and because he can. That he gets to grow old together with that love just as humans have done for thousands of years.

leighton
**Leightons’ “The Secret”.

In the very words of many Republicans now jumping on that bandwagon of Palin’s, “Are you a REAL American or a suspect?” The very meaning of the word Democracy implies tolerance. Tolerance is allowing something you believe is wrong.

Americans developed religious tolerance because, at first, many colonies sanctioned one legal religion. Those asserted that they alone could save and all others were damned. As heretics and the disgruntled split off and our country grew, religious diversity became a necessity. Reluctantly, over time, Americans allowed the existence and practice of others’ “wrong” beliefs. It was a begrudging making of space for the Other, for evil.

The Mormon stand on gay marriage is intolerant because it wants MORMONISM “beliefs” to be enforced by government. When beliefs differ among good citizens, tolerance, however begrudging, should rule.

It doesn’t take much thought to know the truth. Just be quiet in a quiet spot for a few minutes and your heart will let you know that tolerance is the correct response.
think

Mormon Polygamy – NOT the Fundamentalist Mormon, the REAL Mormons

Bloged in General Home Life,Mormons,Religion by mark Tuesday June 3, 2008

I found a letter to the editor in the Salt Lake Tribune Saturday that expresses the truth about how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka, Mormons, BELIEVE doctrinally about Polygamy. I’m NOT talking about the Texas crazies here, I’m talking about the 12 million Mormons. I hope you’ll read this, and you’ll perhaps more clearly understand another reason I found it easy to lose faith in this dogma (and maybe a chuckle?):
= = = = = = = = = =

Celestial polygamy Public Forum Letter Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:05/09/2008 11:06:02 PM MDT

I am a mainstream Mormon. Thomas S. Monson is the president of my church, headquartered in Salt Lake City. Yet I am a polygamist with the blessing of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I married my first wife in the temple. I married my second wife in the temple while still temple-married to my first wife. I was divorced on Earth, but not in the next life. My second wife has asked the church to cancel my first wife’s marriage to me, but they say it isn’t necessary because my first wife needs the blessings of a husband. They say I can have two wives. My second wife asked why her marriage to her first husband was canceled by the church but mine wasn’t. She was told that only men can have more than one spouse in the church. In heaven I will have two wives; maybe more if I am worthy. Mormon men know they will have more than one wife in the celestial kingdom. It’s doctrinal.

Why does the church distance itself from polygamy? Why do they say they don’t teach it or believe in it anymore? Polygamy started with Joseph Smith and is going strong with Thomas S. Monson. I wish the church would be honest.

Dana Miller Idaho Falls, Idaho
= = = = = = = =
grondahl
Now, Does that clear up this Plural, “Celestial” wifery question for you? If you’re interested, I can get two young boys to come out and let them try to explain it away for you. I doubt they’ll convince you unless you’re already a tithe-paying temple-goer. Polygamy is STILL part of the Church, and is only in hibernation until “God says the time’s right.”.

Whew!

1965: Mark goes on a Mormon Mission. Did he pass the morality interview?

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Gay,humor,Mormons,Religion by mark Monday March 24, 2008

The following Mormon memory did more to enlighten, confuse, astound, and scare me in one afternoon than most others. After years digesting that it was only, but wonderfully human and completely laughable, I have decided to record it.

Every young Mormon boy was expected, at age 19, to fulfill a mission for his Church. If he was assigned to an English speaking country, it would be for 2 years. If a foreign language country, 2 1/2 years since the first few months would be spent in a language training center. Before every boy COULD go, however, he must be found worthy to be elevated from his current teenage position in the “Aaronic”, or in other words, little boy Priesthood.

For male’s only, one’s Priesthood callings in life begin at age 12 as a “Deacon”. The Deacons sole responsibility was to pass the trays of “sacrament offerings” each Sunday to the congregation row by row.

If found worthy, at 14 one would advance to the Priesthood level of “Teacher”. Now, you could still pass bread/water trays around, but you would become a home “teacher”. Hah. Simply put, one was assigned to do “Home Teaching” monthly with an adult Priesthood holder. Once visits 3-4 families one night a month, listen to the older guy teach a lesson, have a prayer, eat a cookie, and leave.

At age 16, as you neared completion of High School, and were beginning to feel the weight of approaching adulthood (in your mind) along with the fear and absolutely magnetic pull of the freedom of leaving home, one was lifted one more level up, and became a “Priest”. Wow. Now one could pass the offerings, “do home teaching” & eat a cookie, plus NOW you would “bless the sacrament offerings”. Then with condescending eyes, you handed out those bread / water trays to the “little” deacon boys for them for distribution to the congregation. Isn’t it ALL just romantic as hell?
huffmark
**Mark Age 16**

Now, you’re about 17 and have begun college! In the 60′s! An entire world is opening up in your consciousness. Well it probably was, unless, that is, you went to BYU in 1964. Yes, Brigham Young University, or as many now call it, “Bringem Young”, the Lord’s University, where nothing impure enters. Where snitching is encouraged if you even hear about immoral behavior on any level. If you catch your roommate with a dirty magazine, perhaps you should tell his Bishop. Luckily in 1964, they weren’t snitching on homosexuals yet. I wasn’t aware of what a homosexual was let alone that I was one. I became occasionally aware of stange kind of surreal dream-like fantasy short movies playing in my mind. Whatever was playing in these movies was still not something remotely discussed in public. You had not yet even heard the word the fantasy subject screamed silently until another event interceded………..

If one went to BYU, instead of learning fantastic unbelievable things about the world you lived in, your childhood blinders were kept in place. You were taught little about life outside of Utah. You obediently continued attending church meetings, devotionals, other church events. Some college classes actually began with a prayer led by some returned missionary student. Professors we’re often simply older versions of these missionaries………..pasty white, innocent, maybe pure. Some were simply robots of their church vision. Some of these professors we’ren’t called professor. They were called “Bishop Tolman” or “Sister Smith”. Sure, you had a good enough time, but was certainly not near or living with a “cool” crowd. You were place in dormitories named after great Book of Mormon mythical heroes or prophets: Helaman Halls.. You were clueless about the world, about social behaviors, and unable to “discourse” with the other “hall” boys in their evening fake brags or wishes about campus girls.

So, it comes to Missionary Time! Because your 19th birthday is approaching, you are kept home in fall of 1965 and you’ll be getting your mission “call” soon. Even though YOU have NEVER come close to being “blessed” with a spiritual knock on the head, i.e., a “testimony” of the “Gospel”, er, Mormonism, there’s NO question whether you will go or not. EVERY kid in small western towns THEN, DID go. In my case, I was the youngest of 4 boys…and 3 had gone already….. Here we were with Dad on the left. ALL had completed missions except me. We were gathered at the funeral of my sister who sadly died of Lymphoma at age 33:

huffboys
Don’t we all look like Mormon Missionaries?

Here we were just a few years younger at home. We still look like upcoming missionary material:
huffboysyoung
To get Pre-Missionary Mormon looks in OUR family you gotta go to the young boy stage Kodak pictured here going after the daily milk at Mr Nielson’s:
huffboybabes

But back my own story: that late-teen early-adult phase of figuring life out…..inside my little Mormon Worlds:

In the once monthly “Fast and Testimony” Meetings I had rarely but occasionally gotten up on my feet as others always did and told the meeting goers that I, too, “had a testimony to the truthfulness of the Church, that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet” etc. Somehow I hoped maybe saying it would bring the spirit into my soul. I WANTED to be certain and sure like all the others seemed to. I wanted to belong. It was not thinkable to me to “shame” my parents in that tiny farm town by telling the truth, that I felt nothing. No, I didn’t do that, so I prepared myself to go on my mission.

Clothes were purchased, two suits, white shirts, shoes, all the required items the Church sent in their list of “things to bring”. Maybe I was growing up. I received my “calling”. I would be going to two years to, where? Switzerland? Austria? Brazil? Hawaii? NO. I would be going to Tennesse, Kentucky & West Virginia. What? Are you kidding me? Oh well, I was humble, er, insecure, and of course one wouldn’t question where “the Lord called you to go.” That God must have a “purpose” in sending me there, right? There must be hillbillies and others waiting for me knock on their door. Anyways once I had the call, date of departure, the “Farewell Testimonial” was set at our local Church:

huffvaleward

Goodbyes were pretty much done, a week in the mission home was set in Salt Lake City for training. BUT. There was one more VERY important event must occur before I could depart for the East Central States Mission Home in Louisville, Kentucky.

I would have to pass a Moral Worthiness Interview not by my local Bishop, but by an area officer, a Stake President so I could be advanced to the first Adult Level of Priesthood, an “Elder”. The highlight of that promotion would be going through the Salt Lake Temple at the conclusion of the Missionary Training Week just prior for departure on a 3-day tortuous train ride cross-country.

(Note: When your mission training is completed, every missionary enters the sacred Temple in Salt Lake City, and takes out his own “endowments”, that promise loyalty to the Church, one learns big “secrets” about Earth’s original parents, Adam & Eve, you don your Magic Mormon Underwear for the first time, you make secret “handshakes” with temple “workers” on opposite sides of ceiling to floor hanging drapes that divide temple rooms. It is quite the token rituals performed herein. I have never forgotten at one point the swearing of an oath that “I would rather my throat be slit from ear to ear rather than reveal these truths to the outside world.”…. By the time you’re outta this temple session, you’re not smiling. You’re scared to death and completely saying, What have I gotten myself into?” **The blood-letting oath required in 1965, was removed from the ordinances I think in the 90′s. Perhaps the temple ordinances weren’t then completely 100% God’s words then were they? After all, I was always taught that these secret rituals were what God revealed to Joseph Smith about what was conducted in the “ancient” Jewish Temples before Jesus had been thought of…..so one would think the oaths and rituals would stay the same forever. But then you must know that Mormonism has been in the process of being re-written and re-forming and re-arranging since it began in 1830.

Since getting THROUGH this Temple Rite was THAT important, I had to schedule my Morality Interview with my “Stake President”. Here’s our area “High Council” with President D. Erickson seated in the middle, a man I liked very much, probably because he liked me and my being the Stake Organist since I was about 12………………..

hufferickson

The interview was set, Sunday Afternoon, in Nyssa at the Stake Center. I would return home in time for evening Sacrament Meeting in Vale. President E greeted me warmly, we got right down to business. A few forgettable questions were asked about tithing, belief, etc., and then the FIRST sex question came up. THIS one, and ONLY this one had I expected and so had rehearsed an answer for. I was SO frightened that he would detect my rehearsed answer, knew I’d told a lie, and deny me my temple reccomend. Then I would be an embarrassment to my parents, and every Mormon in Vale. WHAT WAS that question I somehow KNEW would be asked? Somehow, I KNEW he’d be asking about that “urge” every teenager has, you know, I believe I don’t have to mention what it is……………..do I?

ANYWAY.
President E,”So, Mark, have you ever masturbated?”

Mark, “Well, I did once, but I repented and haven’t done it since.”

President E, “Okay, so have you ever had Sexual Relations with Women?”

Mark, beginning to blush, wondering why a man I thought “inspired” to know the only temptation “I” could have had up to then would be fighting that “urge”, would then ask that. My brain speed ratcheted up….churning out, my God, what made him think “I” of all people would be having sex with women, and why would I be here wanting to go on a mission IF I HAD been doing that? I had NO idea he was simply parroting the required questions from his “stake president manual” that every S.P. had. Just following formula. I managed a response, “Well, NO, President, no, I of course I haven’t.”

President E then asked a question my MIND had toyed with, but did NOT know existed, “So, have you EVER had Sexual Relations with Men?

Mark, “WHAT? NO! What? With Men? No……………… uh, NO, uh, WHY are you asking me that?????” ALL the time, my MIND was now going 1000 miles an hour picturing images that had only passed through late at night, alone, in the dark, dreamlike…..my mind asking me and distracting me, “What? They DO that? Men can do that?”….I was asking myself that at least realizing now, the interview was over. Or was it?

President E, “Okay, then, (AND HERE IT GOES) how about ANIMALS?”

Marks mind sort of imploded. “WHAT? What? WHAT are you TALKING ABOUT? Again, really, What are you asking me? WHY would you ask me that?”

****Little did I know that this was not the most shocking question I would be asked that very day****

President E chuckled, and says, “It’s okay, I think I have my answer.”

The interview was over. The WONDER of that interview wasn’t, and the best part of it was yet to come. I drove home all the while with a disturbed mind NOW newly aware of SOMETHING in this world that had caused me loneliness, something I thought UNreal, but was apparently, REAL to someone SOMEWHERE…………………………… And then, the ANIMALS thing? REALLY! WHAT WAS he asking me THAT for? My MIND was SO clouded I DID worry about my driving attention.

I got home, we went to Church, and immediately, same-age pal Mike Marble sat down by me. After high school, Mike had been living a bit of a wild cowboy’s life. He grew up on a dairy farm, had gotten into drinking and smoking, but was thinking of “repenting” and going on a mission like me. He aggressively asked, “What’d he ask ya? What’d he ask ya?”

I replied, “You won’t BELIEVE what he asked me, but as I glanced around the congregation being seated to quiet organ music, and looking so stern in their faces, I whispered, “This is serious, I can’t tell you HERE in Church, meet me after Church out in back……………….” He sighed, and the evening meeting began. It was a long meeting.

So, after Church there we were, in the dark, away from everyone, and he’s pressing, “What’d he ask ya?”

I began……….I repeated the questions……………….. and then I got to “Ever have sex with men?”

Mike crinkled up his face, and I could tell he didn’t know much more about that than I. He says, “Ooooeeaaahhhhhh!”

I said, “that ain’t it man, you won’t believe it, then he asked me if I’d sex with Animals, can you believe that?”

Mike was silent for a minute, then as calmly as a quiet summer summer sunset, said, “Well? What did you tell him?”

THERE it was! For the Second time this sabbath day, my mind exploded at my tender 19 years. “What do you MEAN what did I tell him?” WHAT ARE you talking about?

Mike says, “Haven’t you?”

I say, the question NOT sinking in, “Haven’t I what?”

Mike says, “Had sex with cows?”

I say, “NO, and what do you mean? YOU have?”

Mike says, “Oh yeah, lots……….when I’m milking the cows and they’re tied up in the stanchions, I……………………. And then there was one time……………………… etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc”

I was aghast……………………………..and spent many nights after that realizing how little I knew about the world. So now, for that 3-4 times in my mission where the blurry world of SEX was hinted at by married men thinking they could seduce someone, but me being completely unaware of their goal, I remained in the dark about this part of my being until the mission was over, and I had returned to God’s School, BYU. I thought I was safe there.

It was just a few years later how I learned that this kind of teenage sex experience was not at all rare in rural areas. It would ONLY be in those areas this question would be asked by a Stake President or Bishop.

In retrospect at 61:

So what became of those 4 Huffaker boys who faithfully tried to live the doctrine at least until completion of their Mormon missions? Three have successfully rejected the Mormon claim to absolute divine appointed authority and power, and hence, have given up a proffered “divine” right to Kingdoms, Planets, Wives, Children, without end. We’ve also given up on answering moral worthiness questions from those appointed to power who might ask us piercing questions taken straight from Church Published Management Manuals from this dogmatic organization. So. What does that mean to me?

My “failing” to grasp these doctrinal claims as that young boy ensconced inside that patriarchal American created religion, and finally letting go, IS what allowed me to feel “born again”. I do NOT think I would know or feel the powerful beauty of nature and this world had I stayed inside of it.

Too bad President Erickson isn’t still alive and able to ask me those same questions. I’d have lots to say this time, and do it joyfully. Wow. I somehow feel all cleansed, and can now return to the kind of beauty in this universe I, much like Walt Whitman, can truly love. Even in this simple non-descript picture, I find more beauty and freedom than in all the years of human created philosophy:
beautyzz

Oh well. Hope this LONG read wasn’t boring. I suppose it’s mostly boring, but it’s part of what shaped me as an adult.

**IF anyone seriously wants to sit and READ long scripts, here is the link to the 1931 Temple Endowment Ceremony Script that was used for me. From that page, you can link to all the versions, as well as other Mormon/Non-Mormon sites. It was updated in 1984 to soften some of the words, and then in 1990, all references to penalty of death were removed. The reasons for removal will be completely different depending on whether you ask a believing Mormon, or an ex-Mormon.

**When one completes his endowments, one is “presented” as a “finished” spiritual puritan into the final room, the “Celestial” Room that represents the highest kingdom of heaven. It would look, in any temple, much like this one in Salt Lake:
celestial room

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