The ancient pantheon

I was 23, so I don’t feel I can definitely say that I married too young. But I feel I probably married too inexperienced. I can count on one hand the number of girls I dated seriously–that is, those to whom I felt able to say “I love you.” And on both hands the number of girls I dated at all. I didn’t know myself very well. And I feel I didn’t know much about life, to say nothing of girls.

But I’m not going to blame the dissolution of my marriage on either my age or inexperience. Not that I necessarily hold them blameless, but rather that’s not the topic I want to address today. Instead, I want to talk a little about one particular member of my personal ancient pantheon of girls I dated. She was 22 years old and she was my Greek Goddess.

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God is love

I was minding my own business when without having had any other recent conversation even remotely related to the topic, I received the following text from my mother. “Where do feelings of love come from if there is no God?”

On the surface, this is a very simple question, and one that has a very interesting answer. But as I thought about how I would answer it, I realized what it was she was really asking. She wasn’t interested in discussing evolutionary biology. She wasn’t interested in discussing brain chemistry. This wasn’t a question she wanted answered. This was, in her mind, proof of God. After all, since God is love, it only follows that the undeniable existence of love proves the existence of God.

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Three sixty-five

A lot can happen in a year. Some years seem to pass without much changing. Other years, you’d never guess at the beginning of it that your life would be completely different 365 days later. For me, this past year has been of the latter variety.

Today is the 365th day I’ve been keeping this blog. I started it because I felt like I needed a safe place to work out my thoughts and my confusion. I was just coming to the realization that the church I had believed in my entire life was not true. I was beginning to question almost everything that I thought I once knew. In the past 365 days, I’ve figured out quite a few things, changed my life in several fundamental ways, and confronted new questions that I’m still struggling to figure out. I thought I’d take a moment today to highlight a few of those things.

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The tithing code

Mormon scripture states that members should be tithed, that they “shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually” to the church. In order for members to qualify as worthy of god’s stamp of approval, i.e., to receive a recommend to enter a Mormon temple, they must indicate in a private interview with their ecclesiastical leaders that they pay “a full tithe.”

But what is a full tithe? Unfortunately, the church doesn’t give very much more clarification than what is stated in the scriptures. The word “interest” has been defined to mean “income,” but beyond that, the members are left to themselves to determine exactly how to calculate what counts as income and what doesn’t. It’s hard to blame the church authorities for not wanting to create a tome equivalent to the US tax code to clarify the tithing code. For one thing, it would encourage pharisaic dedication along with its attendant loopholes. But perhaps even more convincingly, by making a statement that determining the amount to be paid as tithing by each member is a decision to be arrived at by the member in consultation with god, my guess is that the amount donated is, on average, higher than it would be if they published a set of guidelines.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Mr. Wonderful is very career-minded. He has been working on advancing his career throughout the years of his marriage to Girlfriend, and she has been supportive. As good Mormons, they made sacrifices so that they could live the ideal: that the husband and father would provide for the family, and the wife and mother would remain at home to nurture the children. This has been their arrangement for the decade or so since they have had children.

It only seems natural, then, that on Mother’s Day, Mr. Wonderful would take a moment to express his appreciation to his wife for her devotion to the children in particular and to the family in general. The message he actually delivered, though, was somehow wide of the mark. He essentially told her that she was an unfit mother.

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Just testing

So with all the hullabaloo going on with Girlfriend’s family and in-laws, it got me thinking about my family. If I were to travel home and bring Girlfriend with me, would they refuse to see her? If I brought my children with me to see their grandparents, would my parents decline the opportunity to see my children just because Girlfriend happened to be in the car with me? Would they shout her off their property?

I realize it probably wasn’t the wisest thing for me to do, but I was feeling quite shocked at what Girlfriend was being subjected to. I don’t know. Maybe I felt like I wanted to share the misery with her. Maybe I felt like if she were having to tell all of her family to go to hell, it wouldn’t be fair if I weren’t willing to do the same thing with mine. I’m not sure exactly. But I contacted my mother. “Hey,” I said. “I haven’t got any definite plans made, but I’m just kicking around the idea of maybe taking a week-long vacation with Girlfriend later this summer and maybe stopping in town to see you guys for a few days. What would you think?”

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The bomb

There was a span of time just prior to my separation from my wife where I wasn’t writing on this blog even though my life was progressing at what felt at the time like incredible speed. It seemed something was happening almost every day that shaped my outlook on life. I was searching for meaning after leaving Mormonism. I was struggling with the concept of god and of the absolutist morality that came as a result of belief. I was questioning the purpose behind marriage. I was reevaluating long-held assumptions about the balance between the needs of society and of the individual. Most of those stories haven’t been told on this blog yet.

As I got back into blogging after my separation, I told myself that I’d pick up from where I was and only go back to some of the other stories as the need arose. Otherwise, I would have been too overwhelmed to begin writing again. I recently went back and related my discovery of polyamory and the reasons that I believed it was a more rational approach to relationships than monogamy. But I never detailed my transition into polyamory. Today that story needs to be told because it provides information that will help put in context the bomb that has been placed in front of me.

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Polyamory’s warts

It was about a week and a half ago that Girlfriend told me about her sister’s graduation ceremony. She was interested in attending it, but it was a twelve-hour drive away, and with her husband unable to take time off work for it, she didn’t feel confident making the trip alone with her small children.

I did what any self-respecting boyfriend would do. I offered to accompany her on the trip. When Mr. Wonderful agreed with the plan, I was really excited. I figured it would be nice to have a little getaway with her, and that helping out with the children and the driving would be a small price to pay to be able to visit Girlfriend’s hometown with her. What I didn’t count on, though, was that I would experience firsthand the reaction that most people have to those involved in a polyamorous relationship. Nor could I have predicted the effects those reactions would have on the relationship itself.

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Among tooth fairies

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter a few days ago. I had asked her if anything fun was going on in her life recently. She didn’t need much impetus. She has a lively sense of humor and loves to share things that seem funny or whimsical to her. She told me the story of how she had recently lost a tooth. She told me she was slightly worried that it wasn’t a baby tooth, because she hadn’t noticed it getting loose. Instead, she noticed a small pain in her mouth, and when she explored the source, her tooth came out in her fingers.

She told me how she had given the tooth to her mother, but that her mother had lost it. “It’s okay, though,” she told me. “Mom gave me a dollar for it anyway.” Then she got a serious look on her face as she asked her next question. “Dad, what do you think Mom does with the teeth?” I wasn’t quite sure how honest I was supposed to be, so I asked if normally the tooth fairy doesn’t take them away. “Dad!” she said, her eyes lighting up with the pride of being among those in the know. “I already know about the tooth fairy!”

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