After sending my resignation letter via email to the LDS Bishop over the area in which I reside last night, I sent the following email to members of the ward's Elders Quorum:
Hey, guys. It's been awhile since I got a message from the quorum. Hope there aren't too many out-of-date addresses here. Anyway, I just thought I would alert you to the fact that as of today I am no longer a member of the LDS church, having voluntarily withdrawn my membership. I hope we can all continue to be friends despite our divergence in religious beliefs. If any of you are interested in learning more about my decision, feel free to visit my web log at www.equalitysblog.typepad.com, where today I posted an open letter to my Mormon friends and family. If any of you would like to follow up with me, feel free to contact me at my blog or by email at email@example.com. Thanks.
This was greeted generally with silence from the quorum members. I received only one email from a fellow ward member and friend of mine expressing sadness at my decision but offering me best wishes and the prospect of continuing friendship, for which I am grateful. He is a true friend and a true disciple of Christ.
This morning, however, I was greeted with the following message from a member of the quorum whom I have never met:
As you have voluntarily taken steps to disassociate yourself from the quorum, I personally (i.e. speaking for myself, having no authority to speak for the quorum) request that you refrain from sending e-mails to the quorum as a body in the future. As you have made it clear that you do not desire to be contacted by members of the Church to dissuade you from your decision to have your name removed from the Church's records, I similarly do not desire to receive communications from you concerning my decision to enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel. Should you receive an e-mail concerning quorum affairs in the future, I personally ask that you simply delete such e-mail from your system.
I responded to Ben, and to the quorum, with the following:
Wow, was I just on the receiving end of a foot-dusting?But seriously, Ben, you wrote, "I similarly do not desire to receive communications from you concerning my decision to enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel." My email to you and the quorum had nothing to do with my thoughts on your desire to enjoy the blessings you find in your association with the church, nor do I see a need to refrain from emailing you as a group of people I consider my friends. I sincerely wish you all the peace and joy you can find in your spiritual journey within the church and do not seek to dissuade you from the course you are on.I sent the email to the quorum yesterday because I felt you'd each want to know from me, not the rumor mill, that I had done this, and I felt it best to be open about my reasons for doing so to avoid any misunderstandings or misconceptions about me or my reasons for leaving. I respect each of you and have enjoyed your friendship. I find curious your request that I refrain from emailing the quorum as a group, since I pose no threat to you nor do I approach you in anything but friendship and goodwill. Perhaps if you find my correspondence distasteful, you could follow your own advice and "simply delete such e-mail from your system."Peace,Eric
I thought that might be the end of it. Ben responded (just to me this time) with the following:
Eric, I can appreciate your desire to preempt any rumors you fear might be circulating around the Fifth Ward rumor mill (although you surely must know that your e-mail is likely to start more rumors than there otherwise would be); however, please don't pretend to be innocent of any intentions to pollute the minds of quorum members with the same over-intellectualized doubts that have apparently led to your problems. After all, you are the one that provided the link to your blog, which honestly is the only source of anything that I know about you.
E-mails intended for quorum members that happen to wind up in your inbox are no longer intended for you, as you have decided to remove yourself from quorum membership. Thus responding to the entire group when you receive such an e-mail is the action that I hope you will refrain from. Obviously, you have every right to initiate e-mails to the group as a whole, but don't act surprised or play the victim when you send an e-mail to a group organized within the Church you are denouncing and then get responses that such actions are not appreciated.
My response to Ben is as follows:
I am frankly surprised that you consider the minds of the quorum members weak and susceptible to doubt, and furthermore, I'm surprised that you feel that their faith in the church could be shaken by the letter I posted on my blog.If you feel that I've got ulterior motives besides reaching out in friendship to friends I don't wish to lose, then you have allowed the very misconceptions that I wrote about to cloud your judgment here, which is disappointing but not surprising.
Furthermore, I find it interesting that you consider the dissemination of truth to be "polluting." Certainly, if there were anything inaccurate or false on my blog, those who are endowed with knowledge of truth would have no trouble pointing out any erroneous assertions or flaws in reasoning, rather than simply engaging in dismissive name-calling. As far as "over-intellectualization" goes, I do hope you are not so reticent to employ the intellectual acumen with which you have been blessed in favor of the clients employing your legal services as you appear to be with respect to your church's truth claims.
On your notion that my sending the email to the quorum would have the effect of fueling rather than quelling rumors, I beg to differ. You see, no one need question "what's going on with Brother Soderlund?" They can simply read my letter and visit my blog and get it straight from the source which, it seems to me, is the exact opposite of what happens when people talk about someone without ever actually talking to that someone. I realize it is a concept foreign to the experience of many in the church (addressing things head on, that is), but I felt it would be best in this situation. This way, if anyone hears a rumor about me, there will be plenty of people who can say "no, that's not how it went down at all--here's a web site, read about it yourself."
Concerning your charge that I am "playing the victim," nothing could be further from the mark. I am fully empowered. I need not check my thoughts at the door, nor need I refrain from expressing myself out of fear of the consequences that might ensue from such expression. And that's a great feeling. I am willing to wager there are others in our ward who just wish they could say what they really think sometimes. Trust me, it would take a helluva lot more than a couple poorly reasoned emails from someone I have never even met to make me feel victimized.