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Oasis Mailbag: A Matter of Priorities

[This arrived in the mailbag, and I figured I'd forward it along.]

Hello there. I went to a nice Methodist church yesterday at my mom’s.

So when we were gone, the lady of the older missionary couple in our branch called and left a message. The message was that this other couple who live about ten miles from here would be willing to drive my two youngest children to church so they could go to primary. She said she knows it’s so expensive to drive. If it was the money that was stopping us, I would be paying my tithing so I could get the free church groceries. It’s nice that she called, that she cares, but it doesn’t help in my efforts to just quietly go away from the church.

Then on that Mormon Matters blog, they posted a copy of a letter that’s going to be read in California wards and branches next Sunday about how they are in the fight about gay marriage there. That’s bad enough, but then someone posted how Romney said in an interview that the president of his church (Hinckley at the time) met with JERRY FALWELL to discuss strategy on this. I just don’t see how any of this is important and it certainly belies the assertion that we don’t get involved in political things.

At my mom’s church, they talk from the pulpit about Darfur and the immigration raid that happened a month or two ago in Postville, Iowa with hundreds of Guatamalean illegals being arrested. They talk about the floods in Iowa and what individuals can do to help. has over 4,000 hits on the word “Darfur” on their website; they even have two about “Postville” which is pretty impressive as it is so local. There’s FIVE hits for “Darfur” on and two are from the Liahona so they are just repeats of something elsewhere. FIVE!!! Obviously there’s nothing about Postville. Oh, we don’t get involved in political things, like the 400,000 people killed and 2 million displaced in an ongoing genocide, but by golly we don’t want those gays marrying! THAT would be downfall of civilization as we know it!

And it’s hard to be anything but jaded when the church did nothing in Massachussetts – if they believe gay marriage is so wrong, why not fight it there? I’ve heard of the law that kept gay marriage in MA isolated, but jeez, if this is that big of a threat to civilization, shouldn’t it have mattered in Massachussetts, too? Could it possibly be because Romney was governor and he was going to run for president and it would look bad if the church tried to stop it and couldn’t?

I mean, the reason for me not going to church is not because of gay marriage, though it doesn’t help. It isn’t because of the lack of interest in Darfur, though it doesn’t help.

I really love this sister missionary, I do, and I’m happy that someone cares if we’re there or not. But that’s not enough, obviously.

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Oasis Mailbag: Turing Test

I just received this from my contact form.

hie…….i m just a young girl who is an undergraduate in a local university.Actually i would like to tell you that my communication skills are very bad even i am excellent in speaking(excellent speaker)[IT IS TRUE}.No matter who is with me also,at last we will end up as enemies...I really worry because i know i can develop very well at speaking n my strong point is i can speak professionally.Moreover,i can do very well in sales or bee a deejay representative or even as host.May be it is because i can absorb things very fast.But i m sad because deep inside my heart,i feel lonely because i need sumone who is also a girl at my age to share my joy and memories with me.I am the youngest in my family,so all my siblings'age are very far from mine.what should i do?I am lonely actually even people see me as sumone who is an active socialicer.I don't mind if u know bout me.Please reply me at [email address deleted].

i really hope it can be solved and i can live my life like others.



It’s obviously spam. What I find interesting is the question of whether this was written by a human spammer or generated by a computer. The reason I would question it is because it has just enough narrative coherence to be believably written by a human, at least the main structure of it. But it’s just incoherent enough to convince me that it’s a computer. It’s probably a hybrid of both. It’s approaching the Uncanny Valley of writing.

It’s an interesting case study in artificial intelligence. It’s probably as sophisticated as Eliza. :)

And just in case there really is a lonely university student out there and I’ve failed the Turing test, sorry, but you write like a spambot. ;)

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Oasis Mailbag: How Do I Tell My Wife That I Don’t Believe Anymore?

The following message (along with the others that I’ve received) makes me really happy that I created the contact form. Can you help Eric out? I think it would help to hear from both sides of this situation. He writes:


I recently stumbled across the link to your blog on the Letters From a Broad site. I immediately paid attention because your philosophical musings and search for meaning post-Mormonism almost exactly mirror my own. You also have a wonderful talent for writing about them, which makes your posts a real joy to read.

Another way in which we are similar is the family heartache our recent ”change of mind“ causes our families. The difference is, I haven’t told my family yet, not even my wife. I realized about two years ago that Mormonism is not true and went through a gradual process of redefining my beliefs, first as a deist, then a hopeful agnostic, and finally (as of this writing!) an agnostic atheist. I was at BYU earning a degree in geology and could not rationalize my religion to make room for the scientific method. Like you, I find inspiration and solace in science and philosophy, and in the innumerable spontaneous moments of joy spent with my children or in nature.

The reason I am writing is because I just read your wife’s post about when you broke the news to her, and the lengthly comments that followed. You see, sooner or later I have to break the news to my own faithful, believing wife. I want this experience to be as painless as possible and am concerned, as you were, of the possibility of divorce or lasting anger. I seriously believe our relationship and her compassion are strong enough to survive, but I need to choose the right time and place.

We are living with our two children in [Outer Darkness] right now and will be here for another 3 1/2 months. Before coming, I told myself I would tell her after we returned home. I didn’t want to make an already difficult ordeal even more difficult, especially since she would be cut off from her support network (mother, sister, and ward family). Lately, however, I have been overwhelmed with a desire to finally come out of the closet and stop hiding the most real part of me of me from the people that matter most. I have so many thoughts I want to share on my blog, but I need them to hear it from me before they stumble across it on my blog. (I briefly—for about 1.5 seconds—considered making another blog for these thoughts and not sharing it with them, but that reeks of the same “double life” crap I am trying to leave behind now.)

I was contemplating telling her a couple of weeks from now (while still in [Outer Darkness]), but when I read your wife’s post I stopped. If her pain and anger will be anything like those your wife experienced, I would rather her be home with her support group—as I will likely not be part of it for a while. The flip side of this is that if the support group is persuasive, it could lead her away from me and even closer to orthodoxy. In [Outer Darkness], at least, there is a chance we could rebuild our relationship from the ground up in love and trust, together.

After all you have been through with Lacey, do either of you have any advice for me at this stage in my journey away from Mormonism? I need to know how to minimize the suffering of my wife (and our possibility of estrangement or divorce), while at the same time allowing for my own freedom and growth.

Feel free to post any or all of this letter on your site, if you like. I am not interested in remaining anonymous. I can’t post these thoughts on my own blog just yet, so I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.


Eric, I hope you won’t mind that I have redacted your message slightly to preserve your anonymity just a while longer. If you really want to out yourself, you can do so in the comments.

Let me gather my thoughts which I’ll post in the comments later. Actual employment is calling. Have to pay the bills somehow! :)

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