About Eric Z

Posts by Eric Z:

How do I tell my parents I drink?

I drink, my parents do not. This should be a small deal, right? By most metrics, I’m an adult. (And now that SNL skit will be in your head FOREVER! You’re welcome.) My wife and I live in a house. We have jobs and health insurance. We paid off our student loans, and occasionally we’ll go wild and eat all our veggies. But my wife and I also love alcohol. We buy wine, beer, port, and even a little Becherovka, but we’ve never told my parents that we drink.

Sure, we’ve had The Talk. It came about awkwardly, after we accidentally left out a few books from our Atheist Collection TM during, get this, Easter dinner a few years ago. My parents know that my wife and I do not attend church or subscribe to any religious belief system. They’re not thrilled about it, of course. Every now and then when religion pops up in conversation their voices become hushed, and I wonder just how close to the edge of depravity my parents think we are. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t confessed that my wife and I love kicking back with a beer at the end of a long day, because even at the end of that long day, I still crave my parents’ approval. More

A New, Non-Mormon Identity

For the first time in my adult life, I am living in a location where my status as a Mormon, ex or otherwise, is a non-issue. In a past life, my acquaintances knew I was Mormon, and then they knew that I wasn’t. It’s different now, and I find that being a non-Mormon does not mean much to, well, non-Mormons.

I’m still getting used to that feeling. Of course, this isn’t Utah, and a majority of folks don’t trot out their beliefs immediately after the first handshake, or start looking for garment lines when you turn to leave. But I find even with the new friends I’ve made, my religious status garners merely a nod, or a verbal acknowledgment, and then a gradual transition in the conversation. (There have been some exceptions, obviously. Several months ago, I was folding clothes at a laundry mat next to another fellow who was pouring soap into a washer. We exchanged pleasantries, and when he mentioned he was close to retirement, I asked about his future plans. The man’s face lit up. He and his wife had just started a ministry, you see. God’s work would soon be full time. I hesitated, but the fellow jumped right in. More

Say a Little Prayer for You

As I mentioned before, I recently got some wonderful news. Without Facebook accounts (gasp!), my wife and I don’t have the convenience of info-bombing all of our friends and relatives at once, so we’re sharing the news the old fashioned way: calling people up, meeting people in grocery aisles, work cubicles, walking down the street, etc.  (It’s actually kind of fun to retell the tale for the umpteenth time, but perhaps this means we’re vain, attention-hogs, you know?) Last week, during the upteenth-and-one rehashing, an acquaintance interrupted, smiling, and said, “You know, we’ve been keeping you in our prayers this whole year, just hoping things would work out for you.” More

Coworker Q&A

It’s rare when I actually tell someone I don’t believe in god, but such a thing occurred just two days ago. You see, life has been a little more busy than usual the last 6 weeks, and my wife and I found ourselves on business trips, visiting friends, and having family visit us. I also accepted a new job; we’re moving to our dream location very, very soon. My wife and I are thrilled!

So, going back to my opening sentence, it was my first time back in the office for a full week in a while. One particular coworker happens to be a member of the church and at lunch he and I frequently engage in discussions concerning religion, politics, and all the other topics you’re not supposed to engage in at work. He’s a good guy, and I really enjoy the time we take to discuss these matters – but last week was the first time we really got into an in-depth discussion about my apostasy. We had the normal back and forth and somewhere along the line our conversation went something like this: More

“No One on Whom I can cling”

www.vangoghgallery.com

It is a harrowing experience to change your outlook on life. It can be even more distressing to confront your spouse, children, other family members, friends, church leaders and church associates, telling them that what you previously considered truth you can no longer in good conscious believe. Some don’t even have the option to express their new-found ideas, but rather must bury their disbelief out of fear of reprisal.

I remember reading the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light in 2008. Here was a woman who most would agree held a profound understanding and belief in god. Yet after reading her personal letters it became evident she had the deepest of doubts: More

Lamanite-DNA-Geography-Controversy, Part 2

BYU's Lamanite Generation

BYU's Lamanite Generation

And so, with General Conference in full swing, many members discuss the antis who picket, protest, and endeavor to destroy the church from without. Yet the real threat is never from the external forces who attempt in vain to stop this mighty rock cut from the mountain. No, it is those who would discredit scripture and change the words and meaning of the Lord’s anointed from within which poses the greatest threat. It is for those that this two-part series is written. In Part 1, we analyzed the scriptures and words written by the prophet Joseph Smith clarifying the location of the Lamanites. In part 2, we’ll look at the words of modern prophets written in books, delivered over the pulpit in General Conference, and uttered with inspiration at temple dedications. These heavenly dictates will clarify any questions others have concerning DNA, Lamanite origins, and the like. More

Lamanite-DNA-Geography-Controversy, Part 1

Joseph Preaching to the Lamanites

There has been no scarcity of discussion over the years regarding Lamanites, Book of Mormon Geography, DNA, and the like. But there is only a controversy if you don’t believe in the scriptures, the Lord, or those He has anointed. A reading of the scriptures and an analysis of the teachings of prophets, General Conference addresses, and temple dedications undeniably attests to the location of the Lamanites, their heritage, and the lineage of the people of Lehi. Anyone who states otherwise is denying the faith and mingling the teachings of men with the teachings of God – indeed, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing, perverting the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. More

The Pitch

I was recently introduced to a segment called “The Pitch” on Australian television show The Gruen Transfer. “The Pitch” squares two advertising agencies against each other with the goal of “selling the unsellable.” Past pitches include supporting child labor, selling bottled air, invading New Zealand, or moving the Australian national capital to Sydney or Melbourne. This show segment is well produced and quite funny.

Several months ago, writers hit upon one pitch theme so unsavory that ad agencies actually declined the challenge (and the free publicity that comes with it). The pitch? “A campaign to make Australians think banning all religions would be a good idea.” More

A Word on Communities

http://op2rs.blogspot.com/2009/07/4th-of-july-ward-picnic.html

http://op2rs.blogspot.com/2009/07/4th-of-july-ward-picnic.html

I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the concept of community. Several hundred thousand years ago, our ancestors figured out it was better to pool resources and share in the duties of child-rearing and fending off dangerous animals. In spite of all the practice we humans have had through the rise and fall of civilizations, community is a tenuous social agreement. When the air crackles with dissatisfaction over a president, a law, a court case the seams encasing us in our communities are suddenly visible, thin, and stretched. Have you ever been traveling down a busy highway and thought about the tacit social agreement that keeps you and your car alive? More

The LIFE PLAN™

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

As a very active and very believing member of the church, I bought into its LIFE PLAN™. Specifically, I graduated from seminary, served an honorable mission, went to college and institute classes, and prepared to enter in a career where I would work for 50 years, then retire with my wife and serve a senior mission, paying the church for my discomforts. My post-mission life was dictated by Elder Oaks’ “Hanging out vs. Dating” talk and everyone kept making a million jokes about it…but they were those “I’m sorta kinda joking about it, but really tell me all your plans concerning your current girlfriend” type of jokes – which impacted me as well. More

On Dreams

I’ve always been a dreamer. Okay, so while I have soft spot for John Lennon’s crazy idealism, but I actually mean I’ve always had a lot of dreams when I sleep.

I used to experience a lot of reoccurring dreams. There was one where I was on the playground, laughing and playing and generally having a good time. The only pall cast over playtime was the knowledge that inside our school there was a nurse waiting to administer a deadly cocktail of drugs into our veins that would ultimately kill us. More

Conflict of Interest: Scripture as the Academic Mission Statement

A university’s primary role is to advance the collective knowledge held by humankind. They serve to uphold the ideals of free inquiry and the expression of ideas regardless of preconceived conclusions. A university’s duty is to clutch onto the principles of academic freedom, “the freedom of teachers and students to express their ideas in school without religious or political or institutional restrictions.”

Is it possible for research completed in the Marriage and Family Therapy department at Brigham Young University to reach any conclusion other than what is espoused in The Family: a Proclamation to the World? Can students in the Department of Exercise Sciences fully understand the dynamics of the human body when the mission statement reads like a scriptural verse “…to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and Eternal Life, emphasizing the truth that the human body is sacred, the veritable tabernacle of the divine spirit.” Or how about the mission statement of the Department of Political Science, whose first sentence actually quotes scripture: “The political science major is designed to fulfill the admonition of the Doctrine and Covenants (88:79–80) to teach one another ‘things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms that ye may be prepared in all things.’” More