Friday, August 24, 2012

Rock Center: Mormon in America

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from our press office about an opportunity to be part of an hourlong primetime special on what it is to be Mormon in America today on NBC's Rock Center. As an original cast member in The Book of Mormon on Broadway and bonafide returned missionary and now ex-mormon, I excitedly agreed to participate. Just a few days later, several members of the incredibly talented Rock Center team met me at the Eugene O'Neill theater before a Friday matinee and we filmed all the raw materials for the segment in which I'd appear. Later, editors from the team went to work putting together all the pieces.

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I am so grateful to have been a part of this story, and for the opportunity to share pieces of myself with others. I'm so happy to have grown up Mormon, in a faith that brought me so many marvelous opportunities and encouraged me to develop myself in so many areas. I am also happy to have had the strength to leave the faith in a way that was honest and authentic. When the observation of the religion began to feel damaging and painful, I chose to leave and search for happiness elsewhere. And though I will always be Mormon in many ways, and cherish my heritage, I continue to feel that my choice to leave was an extremely healthy and important one for my personal faith journey. I am simply in awe at the way my life has come full circle, and at the incredible opportunities that have come into my experience!!

13 comments:

mohoguy said...

I saw it. You were great. I'm so glad that things are working out well for you. Also, I love the show and the music from it. Best Regards, Brad

INSIDE said...

Hey, I saw it too, but had no idea you were part of the MoHo blog community. Very cool!

Dean Scott said...

Great interview. I have the same feelings about my mission that you have, which I appreciate since I resigned from the church, also. Thanks for sharing.

Duck said...

I saw your interview on Rock Center the other night. I thought you did a terrific job. Nicely done.

Happy day! Duck

James said...

Good interview, and you do an excellent job in the show. I saw it last month. It was a riot, although I'll admit that Hasa Diga Ebowai made me squirm a little. lol

I don't know if you remember me, but we hung out a few times when we were at BYU. I went with you and Donny and another friend up to Bountiful to a very sad local production of Joseph that was in a strip mall. lol

James said...

Good interview, and you do an excellent job in the show. I saw it last month. It was a riot, although I'll admit that Hasa Diga Ebowai made me squirm a little. lol

I don't know if you remember me, but we hung out a few times when we were at BYU. I went with you and Donny and another friend up to Bountiful to a very sad local production of Joseph that was in a strip mall. lol

Ned said...

Great piece. Love what you said and how you said it.

Jacob Eski said...

Clark,
Watching your performance was exciting, because I feel I know you through your blog and media exposure, but I was saddened, too. In your mission pictures you glow, you beam, you look radiantly happy. Now you are in great physical shape, perfectly put together, successful in your profession, but you lack the glow, and you seem sad, like you know in your heart that you left the truth, because of physical desires. I wish you greater successes, but I also wish you would return. You'd always be welcome by me. Take care!

Jacob Eski said...

Clark, when I re-watched your appearance on Rock Center a question arose. You got emotional as you spoke of how you feel when you recall your ancestors trekking across the plains. My question is why? You have said in interviews that you "no longer believe any of it", so you must believe your ancestors' trek was in vain, for something false, that they could have just remained behind, joined other churches, or no church, and all would have been well. Or do you?

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

Everyone-- thanks so much for the supportive comments. This was an incredibly special experience for me, and I feel so great about having participated in the piece.

Jacob- it is true that I no longer believe in Mormonism, but I understand firsthand having to fight for something that is important to you, and struggling to follow something that you believe in that others do not. I also believe I understand a bit the value of pioneering-- of carving out a path for oneself--and moving forward against the odds. I get emotional about my pioneer heritage because though I no longer share their beliefs, I am moved by the courage that my ancestors had to follow theirs. I only hope that I can be as brave and courageous as they in my own journey.

I don't agree that I have "lost my glow." I worked very hard on my mission and learned many valuable lessons by attempting to serve well over my 2 years in Mexico. I loved meeting people, and I loved the way it felt to be of service to them in any way I could. I'm happy that I learned the lessons that being a mormon and a missionary taught me. That being said, during my time as a Mormon I had frequent thoughts about my own death, and often wished and even prayed that the Lord would "take me." Those undercurrents don't show up in photos, but feeling like I wanted to die ultimately lead me to find a way to be happier, outside of the church. My journey out of the church took almost 10 years from the time I first came out to parents, friends, and church leaders. To flippantly suggest that I've lost something wonderful that I once had based on a couple of photographs is a little silly I think--and an oversimplification at best. Perhaps what you are sensing in me is a bit of hard earned maturity from having arduously uncovered a place of homeostasis in my personal life. I am at peace within myself at last-- so if I lost the "mormon glow" in that process, as you suggest, I'd rather be without it. Better a living non-glower than a glowing corpse, I always say. But maybe that's an oversimplification too.

Jacob Eski said...

Clark, thank you for your response. I certainly can sympathize with struggling with homosexuality in the Church. Though a couple of pictures may not tell the whole story, wow, you shone on your mission. Gradually, as you have left the faith, surrendering to urges, you have taken on a contorted, goblin-like countenance. You're a sweet person, but I am convinced you know in your heart that you're in rebellion, but it carnally feels so good to do so. Your family is pulling for you, on both sides of the veil. You're always welcome back. Always. Take care. Jake.

Hilary Rushford said...

Love this! Just saw you a few weeks ago -- the weekend of the hurricane. You were darling! So proud. Muah!!!

xoxo
Hilary

Jason Huber said...

I don't know what Jacob is talking about... you shined bright like a diamond during your performance Sunday night! hahaha

So I've messaged you via Facebook and responded to one of your tweets in desperate attempt to contact you. You have yet to view my Facebook message, so I'm hoping you will see this tonight and search for my message. It turns out you are difficult to reach, haha.

This is my third time trying to contact you. CLAAAAAARK! lol

No shame,

Jason Huber