Open Thread.

Many of you are visiting for the first time, or are visiting after a long hiatus. I’m fascinated by the glimpses I’ve caught of many of you in the comments. I wanted to open up a post so that you can introduce yourself, if you so desire. No pressure! Whether or not you’re a regular, a lurker, or just happened by in the past two days, please tell us who you are, a little bit about your spiritual history, and feel free to promote your own blog if you have one!

I’ll go first:

I’m John, mild-mannered database administrator and project manager by day, SF writer and iconoclast blogger at night. I avoid long walks on the beach and will kayak, bike or swim instead. I’m half-Japanese and was raised partly in Japan, so that makes me culturally Buddhist and Shinto, like most Japanese. I joined the Mormon Church when I turned 18 and went on a mission to Japan at 19. I’m in my late 30s now. I spent much of my twenties becoming an atheist, and a good chunk of my thirties trying to separate from the church. I have two brilliant children and my partner Jana also blogs. We are now affiliated with the Orange County Friends Meeting (a liberal Quaker meeting). I currently use the Quaker label to define my core values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality, and the terms atheist, skeptic, non-theist, absurdist, and secular humanist to describe my beliefs.

I’ve been blogging here since August of 2001, and much of my journey out of Mormonism is buried here somewhere. I will try to link to some of the critical moments. I invited xJane to join me a few years ago, and we’ve been a blogging duo ever since.

Tag! you’re it!


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  1. Dana Dahl

    Hello Folks, I’m Dana. I came across this site accidentally two days ago and have been fascinated with the topics of conversation and entries here. I’m new to the genre of blogging so will probably make plenty of greeny mistakes.

    My story can be found at Signing for Something and I am a moderator on an exmo discussion board. Other than that I am an unemployed residential designer who misses the job and the money and the prestige and am bored out of my skull while I wait for the right thing to come along. I have a garden, art, literature, hiking, etc. and three grandbabies but still miss my career. I was pretty good at it. Dang it.

    Till then, I’m dicking around on the net and found yet another place to blather and read.

  2. Dana Dahl

    Hi Hellmut (I’ve been a fan of your writing for a long time). No, as far as I know none of my relatives live in the SW.

    I didn’t think about my full name being used when i signed on here. Now that it’s out there I guess I’ll just take the chances and see what comes up. Stalk me if you will but know that I have a Cocker Spaniel and know how to use her.

  3. Sorry about outing you, Dana. I bet that John can delete our entries that mention your name, especially, if we ask nicely. How would you feel about that?

  4. Dana Dahl

    It’s fine. I outed myself on Signing for Something and I think one of my brothers googled me and pretty soon I was getting communally shunned at the family reunions, so it’s too late to worry about it now. Part of me wants to be more authentic anyway and a real name is about as authentic as you can get.

    Someday i really would love to be as open with my own dear family as I have been online. I don’t think they can handle such information though.

    So Helmut, I’ve been reading your stuff on FLAK for a while. I posted there under whitendelightsome. I consider you fairly brilliant and among some of the best writers in the exmo community.

  5. Kelly Ann

    Having discovered the Exponent (where I blog monthly) and your amazing wife Jana, MoF made it into my google reader early this summer. I love your writing, both generally and in terms of exploring complex LDS and religious issues. I have also become a fan of xJane in the process.

    I am a 30-year old single scientist working in drug development who loves to spend time with my extended family, work on my house, travel, practice yoga, bike, read, and think about the complexities of religion. Although I have stepped away from the LDS church in terms of both my beliefs and practices recently, many people I know, regardless of background, would identify me as a Mormon given my adherence to the word of wisdom and my involvement in the church. I was raised in an active family, graduated from BYU twice, served a mission, have held numerous leadership callings, and was an ordinance worker until last summer when Prop8 toppled my testimony.

    For a variety of reasons, I find myself going back to church after “hopping” over the past year (going once a month) but am trying to be open about my frustrations and lack of faith in a variety of issues. I recognize I am still very much on a journey.

    I am more interested in being a good person and serving my community and living and loving life. I blog under a pseudonymn given I am privileged to be named after one of the three unusually named women of the Book of Mormon and don’t want to be found in an average Google search for professional reasons (although I don’t consider my online identity a secret).

  6. Debra

    Hello John,

    I’ve been reading you and Jana for maybe 2 years. I have a grown daughter who is a cancer survivor and that’s likely how I found you two.

    I lived in Japan during my adolescence; it was a time of spiritual and cultural awakening for me. My folks (and I) left the Catholic church during that period, presumably because there were no churches nearby. I missed the ritual of the then-Latin Mass, but not the hyperbole, loved the purity of the Buddhist and Shinto sensibility.

    I’m back to school reinventing myself as an art therapist, having been in high tech for many years here in Silicon Valley. One area of interest for me as a therapist involves the psychology of spirituality, and healing the damage inflicted by organized religion.

    I have a sense of connection with your family on several levels, and thank you for sharing yourselves, writing so elegantly about such timely topics.


  7. I’m Lisa, mother of two, stepmom of one, and soon-to-be stepmom of three more. I was Mormon my whole life until August of 2006, when I googled my way out of the church. I started my blog to process my feelings and experiences because I had been married to a never-Mo man (so I understand being on the fringes of Mormon society quite well) for 12 years by then who didn’t understand what I was going through and had no interest in discussing deep thoughts at all. It took me about a month to stop attending church, and I haven’t been back since. I find life is so much more rich as I lead an authentic life and slowly shed the harmful aspects of Mormonism from my psyche.

    When I started writing, I realized then for the first time that I had a voice, and people actually seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Women who grow up Mormon aren’t always free or experienced in expressing their thoughts and dreams and views. It was heady and I have made many very good friends through the internet, many of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person. I’ve enjoyed debates and discussions online about the culture found within Mormonism and the effects Mormonism has on the lives of its members, and I hope to engage in the discussion here this weekend and in the future as well.

    My blog suffered a blow as I divorced my husband and navigated parenting plans and such. I hope to blog about that soon, but lately I’ve been distracted by my move to Texas from Montana to be with my fiance and best friend, Equality. I am currently spending my free time creating art which I plan to sell. It’s been a dream of mine for decades to be a fine artist and I guess we’ll see if I’ve got what it takes!

    I have lurked on this blog and Jana’s over the past few years and have always been impressed by your style, grace, and eloquence. I have been reading up on the posts regarding your letter that arrived on your anniversary and am about to read the most recent posts written since this one. I’m glad you’re sharing this experience and it’s fascinating to read the differing viewpoints being expressed.

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