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This is the first discussion I have ever heard with a Mormon that honestly addressed some of the key issues that led to me wanting to place as much distance between me and the Mormon Church as possible. I too grew up in the culture, caught between inflexible orthodox demands and expectations, and the contradictions inherent in the church and a culture that is in conflict between what it says and what it does, whose history of itself has changed when it becomes uncomfortable.

Though I am 25 years older than she is, I came away feeling that Joanna validated many of my own observations and experiences honestly and with understanding, particularly the issue of women in the church. At the same time, I felt very much at times that there were certain aspects that she avoided, notably the morphing history. I still do not trust the Mormon church: if it can so easily avoid its past by rewriting it, how can anyone know whether what it says now will not also morph? I noted that Joanna used the term "14 million members of record", which is the closest I have ever heard any Mormon come to admitting that a large portion of the "members of record" do not consider themselves Mormon, which goes considerably beyond simply being inactive. Some of my ancesters also were early pioneers who came west in the 1800s, but I do believe that the driving force was poverty in the midst of a massive economic depresson, and the draw and promise of a promised land (land being the operative word).

Nonetheless, this was time well spent listening for me, to hear that there are many people still in the culture who are asking the same questions, feeling the same tensions, that I did. I questioned the theology, and so for me, there was no difficulty in making the choice to leave. I do not miss the culture, because not only is the church still heavily anti-female, there is a substantial and often heavy-handed patriarchal attitude at all levels, and entire mormon communities and families reflect this. Mormons can be harshly judgemental. Joanna spoke openly of her discomfort in the 90s. I experienced it in the 50s and 60s.

I especially want to thank Joanna for acknowledging the shame that so many mormons, both in and out of the church, have experienced, especially as one begins to recognize the many inconsistencies. It took me a very long time to even tell anyone I came from a Mormon background. Longer still to come to grips with my own feelings about it. It has been a long time now since I've felt that denial. I am mostly curious now about how the culture affected my family, and in how it ultimately destroyed my family.