Note from Bob (May 18, 2017): My brother Rich was kind enough to salvage the information on this site after an earlier website appeared to have been hacked, and disabled. Thank-you Rich! Had he not done that, none of the information on this site would be publicly available.
Years after I should have done so, I want to provide an explanation for the odd fact that I appear to have set up a blog, and then do not respond to the often complementary and insightful comments readers leave on it. The explanation requires a brief recitation of my exit from Mormonism, and evolution since then.
My Mormon faith collapsed during a traumatic three weeks in June and July of 2002. This led to a roughly five year period of intense study of the question: “How could Mormonism, as a belief system and way of life, suddenly appear to me to be obviously false and pernicious after I had completely believed in it throughout my entire adult life, and literally built my life (marriage, family, career, etc.) on it?”
During the course of this study, I found many lenses helpful. In particular, social psychology and the study of the way in which cognitive biases influence individual perception and behavior within groups was helpful. The history of religious movements, layered over my improved understanding of Mormon history, was also helpful. The last, widest and possibly most helpful lens of all, uses the study of complex adaptive systems to help us understand massive shifts in perception, as well as shifts in individual and group behavior. As it turns out, the same physical principles are at work in: a brain that suddenly perceives things in a radically different way; the formation of new galaxies; earthquakes; species extinction; and phenomena in the quantum world that are only coming into view.
Near the end of that five-year period, I developed a repetitive strain injury in my right arm and hand as a result of spending too much time at a computer terminal. This was in part a result of going through a particularly intense time at work, and in part because I was spending most of my free time at the computer, researching, writing, and interacting with members of the post-Mormon community on Internet bulletin boards, and by email.
Then, the website on which I had been depositing my research notes, and contributions I made to online bulletin boards, was hacked and disabled. It initially appeared that all of the information that had been on it was irrecoverable. I did not have the technical means, or the ability to spend the time at a computer terminal, necessary to put all of my essays and musings back online. Were it not for my brother Rich’s generosity, that would have been the end of my online career. As it was, Rich helped recover most of the information that had been lost.
It took about three years for my repetitive strain injury to heal. Until then, I stayed away from the computer keyboard unless I was at work, and hence more or less disappeared online. By the time I was healthy enough to go back, the burning urge that I had felt to read, write, and interact with others respecting issues related to religion, had subsided. I now attribute that to the fact that the neural networks that drove my new way of thinking and behaving had stabilized, and I no longer needed to constantly run ideas through them in order to exercise them and make them stronger.
All of that reading, writing, thinking and interacting had done an important job for me, and I was ready to take off the training wheels and move on with my new life. And I say that without any criticism for those who are long term as participants within the online post-Mormon community, or any other similar communities. They provide a tremendous service to others, and I count it a privilege to have been able for a period of approximately five years to attempt to pay my debt of gratitude to those who helped me, by similarly trying to help others. Providing this service could provide decades of satisfaction, and be part of life’s foundation. For me, that was not to be the case, and I don’t feel the need to parse that.
Now, I am thoroughly enjoying what many would consider a mundane life. I still work full time, and therefore have limited leisure. I spend that having a huge amount of fun with my wife, Karen Dawson – much more fun than I thought was legally (or illegally) possible. I enjoy our children and grandchildren. I’m learning to play tennis, and get most of my exercise that way. I still love golfing, and at 59 am in better shape that I was in my forties for sure, and likely my thirties as well. My most recent project is reading down the list of the greatest novels of all time. The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina were the last two. I just started One Hundred Years of Solitude. For years I’ve enjoyed reading award winners in the Giller and Man Booker prize competitions, and decided that I would go one level up, and start on the best novels of all time. What a fabulous experience that has been so far.
So, I want to express my immense gratitude to all those who have or will come here and find something helpful, and even better, leave their own comments that may be useful to other travelers along this strange, beautiful road. I feel like the frog who fell into the milk pail, and while swimming desperately in an attempt to save his own life, accidentally made butter. Most importantly, we are a choir, not a bunch of soloists. Hence, comments that build on what I have left on this site, are particularly satisfying.
We walk the path from “Thou Shalt” to “I will”. Along that way, we find that authenticity is not an event, but a life-long process of emerging from ourselves as the music around and within us changes, and we learn over and again how to dance. This realization brings with it the realistic hope that we will often experience the miracle of rebirth.