I’m new to the whole blog hosting scene so forgive me if I seem a little cliche by using my first post to explain the title of my blog. While not really new to blogs entirely, at least since 2003 I’ve been an active reader and commenter, this is going to be my first attempt at actually producing my own content. Anyway here goes!
I was born Mormon, in the Covenant. Through my father’s side of the family my Mormon roots extend all the way back to the days of the pioneer crossing. My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather and his family crossed the American plains as part of the Willie Handcart Company– one of the few families to arrive fully intact from that adventure. My Great-Great-Grandfather was a polygamist who settled in Mexico. My Great-Grandfather retreated from Mexico back north when he decided that, one, he wasn’t that keen on polygamy and, two, he wanted his kids to marry people who were not their cousins. Through my father I have all the Mormon bona-fides I need to pass through the cultural circles. My mother’s side of the family provides the color to my ante-history. My Great-Grandparents were both born and raised on the Osage Indian Reservation in north-central Oklahoma– for obvious reasons that’s about as far back as that history goes. Despite origins in Oklahoma my mother was born in Plymouth, MA and her family all converted from Catholicism to Mormonism in New Mexico. New Mexico is where my parents met, where I was born and semi-raised, and where I hope to some day retire to.
Growing up Mormon in New Mexico was not an altogether unique experience. There are pockets within that vast space where Mormons make up a sizable portion of the population. In the small town of around 12,000 people where I grew up we had an entire stake. In New Mexico, my problem was that I was the crazy kid who persuaded all the other kids to engage in all sorts of crazy adventures. I was the kid who convinced my cousin to jump in the cattle pen with me to throw dirt clods at an enormous brahma bull until it would charge and then see how close we could let it get before clambering up over the rails to safety. Problem was that we didn’t check the gate before that particular piece of jackass-ery and so the bull had easy access to both of us. Fortunately (for me), I was the faster runner, which is all that’s required when being chased by a bull, but my cousin discovered a new meaning to the word “pain” highlighted by a few broken ribs and a broken arm. Combine that propensity for risk-taking along with a large dose of opposition to authority and a smart-ass mouth and I was at the top of every parent’s list (Mormon or otherwise) of “Kids YOU will not hang out with.”
When I was ten my family moved to St. Louis. In STL just being Mormon automatically makes you crazy. Heck, the date we moved there was only six years removed from “Kit” Bond rescinding the extermination order issued by Governor Boggs in 1838. For the better part of 140 years the state actually had an open season on the Mormons. Given that fact it should have been no surprise that my siblings and I were the only Mormons in our entire elementary school. Despite being mostly white and middle-class (on the very low end) we were weird and crazy because we believed in the God Joseph Smith and his crazy Inca city of golden plates constructed by angels on assignment from Satan (it always bothered me that they confused Inca with Maya). I’m just glad the kids in school never got a good look at my horns. Life in STL got bad enough that I moved back to NM to live with my grandparents by which time old-age had caught up with enough of the parents there that they had forgotten all the crazy stuff from my past and naively allowed their precious charges to cavort with that still crazy Mormon guy.
I’m a guy caught in the middle. A very large chunk of my identity depends on Mormonism. I love the core messages of Mormonism. For me it’s a Christian religion that promises something more than, “Trust us, Heaven is going to be awesome.” The idea of Eternal Progression, Eternal Families, and Eternal Sex just resonate deeply within me and provide me with an element of joy and hope that I have not found anywhere else (trust me, I’ve looked long and hard elsewhere). On the other side I struggle mightily with the cultural components of Mormonism. White shirts are too bland as are jello and funeral potatoes. Central American tours of “Book of Mormon Archeology” make my skin crawl almost as much as twisted, quasi canonical apologies for Brigham Young’s bigotry. I attend Church every week as well as karaoke night at one of the most popular local watering holes (and I don’t ask what’s inside the fruity drinks my pals are handing me). I’m the guy who vigilantly keeps the Sunday School teacher honest (a function not really appreciated in Mormon culture) but also the guy who stands up during testimony meetings and leaves the congregation in tears and inspired. I served an honorably discharged Mormon mission that lasted less than the standard two years due to my compulsive desire to highlight my mission president’s idiocy. I attended university at a state institution in the Midwest despite the offer of a full ride from BYU. That kinda leaves me not entirely Mormon but not entirely– I can’t find the right word here– NOT.
So this blog is going to be a personal journey. I’ll talk a lot of Mormonism but I’ll also cover topics that just pique my interest– from science, to business, to economics, to genetics, to philosophy. Mostly, I just want to take a shot at trying to be interesting. Maybe someday in the future I’ll decide to write a book and it would be best if my prose did not function as cognitive Ambien. So sling your stones and arrows at me and in the immortal words of the BEP– “Let’s get it started!”