For your surprise of the week, go read Richard Dutcher's farewell to Mormon cinema — and to Mormonism [hat tip: Pilgrim Girl]. It has to be one of the nicest "I think I'll try heading down another path" letters I've come across by a departing Mormon. [Update 4-18: Dutcher subsequently posted additional comments at BCC.] Ususally such letters are a variation on "I've been lied to all these years and it's all about money, not God, and I am now full of rage, but none of it is my fault." Dutcher is obviously a quality act if he can maintain his sense of equilibrium while negotiating his exit from institutional Mormonism, a difficult process for most folks who give it a try. [The most charming metaphor I've run across for this process is "going over the wall." I'm sure there are others.]
Here is the key paragraph in Dutcher's farewell:
Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an announcement. I regret to announce that — though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you — this is the end. I am going. I am leaving now. Good-bye!
Just kidding. Here's what he really wrote:
As many of you know, I am no longer a practicing member of the church. The private answers to the questions I have asked in my prayers, and in my films, have led me on an unexpected journey, a spiritual path which may ultimately prove incompatible with Mormon orthodoxy. This understanding has brought me some of the most profound surprises and also the deepest sadness of my life. It is very hard for me to say goodbye to something that I love.
Who knows? Maybe, like Oliver Cowdery (to whom I've always felt an uncommon kinship), my travels will someday lead back to Mormonism and to this effort. Such an end would be beautiful and, in a strange way, an answer to my prayers. But I don't know. One fundamental thing I have learned over the past few years is a genuine humility regarding my spiritual beliefs.
I know that some of you will not understand my decisions. Please know that I will always be not only a great friend to the Mormon community, but also one of its strongest defenders.
Like I said, a quality act. I wish him the best of luck as he follows his own personal yellow brick road in search of the Emerald City.