A friend of mine talked me into participating in a panel discussion at this year’s Sunstone conference in Salt Lake City in July. The panel will be on Friday, July 28 at 11:00 a.m., and it is titled “Who Gets to Say What Former Mormons Are Like?” and it will focus on finding your own voice after leaving the LDS church (it’s event 331 in the symposium). It will be great to be on the same panel as Postmormon.org‘s Jeff Ricks, Chino Blanco (Jason Echols), and Carol Hamer, who maintains the Latter-day Main Street blog.
While I was at it, I thought I’d like to talk about some things I’ve realized from writing and publishing my book. After our missions, many of us felt social pressure, some of it self-generated, not to speak too candidly about our mission experiences. When we did tell mission stories or give homecoming addresses, or show slides to the Aaronic Priesthood, we stuck to the script: it was the best two years of our lives, and we talked about spiritual experiences and sometimes humorous events. The difficult times we couched as trials we overcame, but no one ever talked about the pressure to perform, the guilt-tripping, the berating from leadership, the mission politics, the depression, and sometimes even despair. I thought it would be good to talk about the unwritten rules by which we censor and spin our mission experiences. So, my session is titled “Sins of Omission: Spinning the Missionary Experience” event 315 in the symposium. It will be Saturday, July 28, at 8:30 a.m.
Finally, my good friend Carol has organized a book signing, which will be Friday, July 27, at 1:00 p.m. (event 241 in the symposium). I’ll bring a few copies of my book, and if you happen to have one already, I’ll be happy to sign it. I feel a little silly doing a book signing, but I think it will be fun. It’s certainly better than those guys who sit all day at Costco hawking Mormon teen-fantasy novels.