Since the big DNA reveal last week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my Sub-Saharan African DNA. I have a sort of sense that it is rare to find out something so completely new about oneself at this stage of life. One thing that makes it strange is the way it invites me to recall and then rethink hundreds of little moments in my past. For instance, the fact that ever since I was a child, I’ve been asked over and over again some variation of this question:
Why are you brown? People usually didn’t put in precisely those terms, but it was always what they meant.… Read more
Ever since DNA testing got big a few years ago, I have had a sort of (morbid) fascination with it. I especially gravitated towards stories of mistaken identity, revealed family secrets, and reunions of long-lost relatives. Last year I watched in vicarious delight as Tony’s cousin—who had grown up as an only child—discovered and reconnected with the brother she never knew she had. I was pretty sure nothing like that could happen to me, since my family has been Mormon for generations, and is therefore peppered with more than its share of amateur genealogists.
I retain a healthy scepticism of any genealogical line purporting to go all the way back to 525 A.D.… Read more
I am still trying to wrap my head around this being the beginning of a new decade, as well as a new year. My approach towards New Year’s resolutions is basically nonexistent, since I am apt to reinvent myself on the spot whenever I feel the need, which tends to be multiple times in a year. However, I do love telling stories. In fact, the only possible way for me to ever make sense of my life is by telling it back to myself. Not once, but a thousand times. Memory is a funny thing. Our brains are constantly arranging and rearranging the past to make meaning out of it; reinforcing the parts that fit our own internal narrative and discarding the other unhelpful bits.… Read more
The terrific thing about having left your religion several years ago instead of yesterday is that you’ve already gone through all the stages of grief, you’ve worked through whatever family drama ensued from the big announcement, and you’re now free to make peace with your past. Which includes deciding which elements of that past you choose to keep, and which you let go.
There are parts of me that will always be Mormon. Like my propensity to hoard nonperishable food; a year supply of wheat in 15-gallon buckets is well beyond even my capacity to fit into my tiny Amsterdam apartment, but I am always overbuying things like pasta and dried beans.… Read more
Eighteen years ago I graduated from university. I had been thinking about grad school for years already by then, but looking back I realise I never considered it a real option for me. My parents had been fully supportive of me getting a bachelor’s degree, but as devout, traditional Mormons, their script for their oldest daughter after university continued in a fixed path towards mission, marriage and motherhood. Not all Mormons uniformly believe this way (and some are much more extreme, as Tara Westover recounts in her riveting memoir, Educated), but my parents did, and for them it was core to their faith.… Read more
Last week my husband and I submitted our resignations from the Mormon church. It was the final step in a journey of several years. In 2014 we stopped going to church after Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, was formally excommunicated by the Mormon church leadership. For years I had felt increasingly constricted by my lived experience as a woman in an overtly and overwhelmingly patriarchal church. And that church could not have sent a clearer message to women like me that we were not wanted than by excommunicating Kate Kelly, leader of the movement that sought equality for women within the church.… Read more
A couple of weeks ago when all my Facebook friends were posting about seeing Wonder Woman, I went to book tickets on the spur of the moment for myself and Axa and discovered that, unaccountably, it opened weeks later here in the Netherlands than practically anywhere else in the world. Undaunted, I used the intervening time to get as many friends as possible to join me with their kids after the film finally opened. We ended up with 29 of us and a pre-movie dinner at Wagamama. Some of the kids were even persuaded to pose for a photo doing Wonder Woman arms. … Read more
I haven’t written a lot on this blog about leaving the Mormon church. I’m not sure exactly why. I think at the beginning I had so many strong, raw feelings I preferred to discuss them privately. And after a while I guess it felt like there was less to talk about.
However, at the time that I left, it was really huge. It’s hard to overstate the significance of unraveling something that had been tightly woven into every aspect of your life since birth.
There were, of course, many reasons that Tony and I decided to leave the Mormon church, none of which I’ll go into here.… Read more
During the past week, the Bloggernacle (a loose term for the Mormon blogosphere, and by extension, the online Mormon community in general) has been all abuzz about several new articles on the Church’s official website dealing with the topic of polygamy. Most Mormons have had the unpleasant experience of hastily explaining to intrigued or confrontational outsiders that polygamy happened a long time ago, and we don’t do it anymore, possibly followed by the assurance that the purpose of polygamy back then was to care for destitute widows and orphans.
As with most aspects of Mormon history (well, really most aspects of history in general), the truth is something more complicated.… Read more
Barely a day goes by when I don’t consciously think about how glad I am that we don’t attend the Mormon church anymore. Still, there are some things I miss. You can’t grow up in a faith without absorbing parts of it into your soul, and certainly into your memories and routines. This is the first time in my life that I haven’t tuned in to General Conference, the twice-yearly weekend where Mormons get together all over the world to listen to the words of the leaders of the Church, as spoken from Salt Lake City.
Of course, nothing was stopping me from tuning in this weekend–the meetings live-stream over the internet (even the male-only Priesthood session, which leaders began streaming just last year as a sort of compromise after Kate Kelly and the Ordain Women movement asked unsuccessfully to be admitted).… Read more