Wednesday, March 23, 2011

About Me and This Blog

I figured that I'd compose my inaugural blog entry in the style of one of the new profiles. Enjoy!

Hi, I'm Oxymormon Girl.
I don't actually believe in Mormonism. But I'm still a practicing Mormon. (That's why I'm "Oxymormon Girl." It's meant to be a play on words. An oxymoron is a contradiction.)

About Me
I am a 30-something who is married with two kids. I stay home with my kids in the day and teach college classes at night. I also lean left politically (and have since I was a teenager), which automatically makes me something of an outsider in Mormon culture. Much to Boyd K. Packer's chagrin, I'm a feminist, an intellectual, and I support gay rights. But I keep most of these sentiments closeted when I sit in the church pews because I'm not really one who likes to rock the boat.

Why I am a Mormon
Well, the simple answer to that question is that I've been a member of the church all of my life. My father's side of the family comes from pioneer stock. My mother converted from Catholicism when she was 19, despite strong opposition from her family. My parents were always devout, but perhaps not as strict as Mormon families traditionally are. 

I gained a strong testimony while reading the Book of Mormon when I was 14 and Mormonism became the defining aspect of my identity for most of my teenage and young adult life. I regularly had powerful spiritual experiences that confirmed the truth of the gospel to me. I went to BYU and, for the most part, enjoyed my experiences there--despite not fitting the typical profile of someone who would enjoy BYU.

I married "late" by Mormon standards (I was 25 and I knew my husband for four years before we were married!). We married in the temple and I'm happy to report that we have a very satisfying marriage. Motherhood has been much more of a challenge for me, but I still love my kids.

About a year ago (from the time of writing this post), I began to have serious doubts about the church. It started when my husband and I decided to make an honest effort to really study the Book of Mormon---not just from a spiritual perspective but from an academic perspective as well. (Mostly just to inject some life into what is an otherwise boring task.) As I studied the Book of Mormon, my husband and I suddenly began seeing all sorts of historical, intellectual, and moral problems in the book.

I decided at that moment to become a scholar of church history and Mormon studies. I wanted to study all the problematic elements of the church for myself so that I could resolve the issues that were troubling me. I made a conscious decision to avoid anti-Mormon literature, choosing instead to read materials that were only created by active members of the church with a scholarly background. 

At the time, I felt fully confident that the church would emerge victorious during the course of my studies and that my faith would be strengthened by wrestling with these problems for myself. I was wrong. While I was able to maintain my belief in the church for a while by adopting a Liahona Mormon perspective, my faith eventually crumbled under the weight of all the evidence against it.

For now, I'm still a practicing Mormon, even though I don't believe in it. For some people, it's difficult to understand why I (or others) would continue to belong to a religion that they don't believe in. It's a fair question, but difficult to answer in a way that would make sense. The simplest answer I could give for now is to say that I stay because Mormonism has been my whole world up to this point, and it's not that easy to just reset your life to zero and start all over from scratch. While I anticipate that my husband and I will leave the church in the distant future, for now we are taking that process very, very slowly.

How I live my faith
If you were to sit me down and give me a temple recommend interview, I could easily answer yes to the "do" questions. I attend all my church meetings, I keep the Word of Wisdom, I wear my garments. I pay tithes (begrudgingly). It's the "belief" questions that I have a hard time with.

In fact, for all of you naysayers out there who might feel that we left the church because we weren't keeping the commandments, I'll just say that my husband and I have been reading the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures every night. On top of that, I've been going to the temple every week for the last month. (My mom, freaking out about my confession that I no longer believe, made me promise to do this for six months.)

So, from all outward appearances, I'm just as Mormon as the next girl.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of this blog?
Well, I started this blog primarily because of my current church calling: 2nd Sunday Relief Society teacher. I've had this calling for a little less than 2 years now. And in full humility, I must tell you that I'm pretty good at it. (As in, I get teary-eyed thank yous from sisters about how much they appreciated my lesson after the lesson is over.) But even though I deliver my lessons from a straight, TBM (true believing Mormon) perspective, I find that I must almost always go through a crucible of personal integrity while I'm preparing my lessons. I find myself telling myself how much I disagree with the lesson manuals and questioning whether I really value the principles that are taught in the lesson.

So I wanted to explore that tension in this blog, the tension that I feel between what I really believe and what I ultimately say when I deliver these lessons. I'm going to devote a blog entry to each lesson that I have to teach from the Gospel Principles manual from here on out. I also plan on working retroactively as well, exploring lessons that I've already given and the thought processes that I went through while preparing the lesson.

What is your current attitude toward the church and its members?
Well, I didn't want to the church to be false. Honestly, it would make my life a whole lot easier (and perhaps even happier) if I could fully believe in it the way I used to. For that reason, I don't have any intentions to lead my fellow church members astray. No one should be compelled to take that spiritual/intellectual journey until they are genuinely ready to do so. Everyone has genuine reasons for believing what they believe and it is important to respect that--even when we disagree.

With that in mind, the purpose of this blog is not to deconvert anyone. Rather, this blog is intended to be read by those who are already skeptical of the church's truth claims. In other words, this is a blog intended for non-traditional Mormons, Liahona Mormons, New Order Mormons, Liberal Mormons, Ex-Mormons, or anyone else who is already sympathetic to those points of view.

Why have you decided to remain anonymous for now?
I'm not really sure what the reaction to this blog will be, so for now I will keep my real identity anonymous. I don't really have any fear of church discipline, but I want to remain in control of my official, public relationship with the church.

I prefer being honest about myself and my views and so I anticipate that one day I will write these blog entries with my normal identity.

Are you at all interested in adding additional authors to this blog?
I'm open to that possibility, but you would have to earn my trust and respect first. Contact me if you're interested and we'll do an interview of sorts.


  1. "I don't actually believe in Mormonism. But I'm still a practicing Mormon. (That's why I'm "Oxymormon Girl." It's meant to be a play on words. An oxymoron is a contradiction.)"

    Two other plays on "Oxymormon Girl":

    1. Since oxy is from the Greek, meaning "sharp" (we'll forget the "acid" meaning, if you like), it makes you a Sharp Mormon Girl.

    2. "Oxy Mormon Girl" = OMG!

    btw, I'm a 60-something man, still a member, though I believe next to nothing of the truth claims of the church. The day I leave the church will be a dark day for my DW, DS, and DD, so I stay. I just cannot do the "active and silent" bit any more.

  2. Sorry it took me a day or so to respond to this, Malkie. I imagine that being a 60-something means that you have a lot of family and friends invested in the church. That's a tough spot to be in. I applaud you for deciding not to be silent any more---more for your own personal health than anything. It's a dark, lonely path to have to be silent. Thankfully, the Internet provides lots of ways to connect with people and have a voice---even anonymously if circumstances so require. Good luck on your journey, Malkie. Feel free to email me or connect with me and my husband if you feel so inclined. :)

  3. NP OMG - I didn't expect you to jump on it right away (;=)

    Thanks for the offer to connect - you're very kind.