Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Electronic Friend(s)

The Preamble

In the early 1990’s just as I was learning to use the Internet I saw a letter to the editor in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, inviting interested people to sign up to that list. I didn’t know what a list was, but the sign up instructions were simple enough. From that vantage point I watched what is known among Mormons as the September Six -- six members excommunicated or disfellowshipped by the Church, allegedly for publishing scholarly work against Mormon doctrine or criticizing Church doctrine or leadership. I was horrified Later a new list opened up (ELWC) – this time mostly women, but interested men, – people who some feminist background or leanings, organized to talk so that “the wheel of equality for women in Mormonism didn’t have to be invented again”. Again I read along.

Not finished yet, I began reading a smaller group of Mormon women – this time ones with age on their side, self selected. We chatted our hearts out from California, Arizona, Utah, the eastern seaboard, some Canadians. I met some in person – one who attended a Fawn Brodie Conference with me, another who travelled to Alberta – “just because”, a third who came for the Mormon Historical Association Meetings 2012, although I had met her before.

I had never met Nancy Kader. I was pleased to receive an email from her saying she was coming to the Calgary Stampede and would I be in town – perhaps we could meet at Tim Hortons for a Coke, she said.

The Body

“Move heaven and earth to meet this woman,” Wyona told me, which increased my anxiety ten fold. Now that Nancy was on a pedestal, from Wyona, at least, would she like me? Think I was an imposter? Would I have anything to say, and believing I would have something intelligent to say would just be a pipedream.

Still I left to get down to the Westin Inn far too early – there was some bit of excitement in me – a potential meeting with a foreigner whom I already knew so well, having corresponded for far more than ten years with her on one list or another.

The ice-breaker to the conversation was Nancy who introduced me to her husband and niece as a Canadian, though I do have American citizenship she said. He then asked, as an American, how I felt about the invasion of Iraq.

“As an American, I am more worried about Snowden this morning,” I said.

 “I have a take on that not everyone has,” he said, offering some suggestions of how whistle-blowing / or traitors (whichever one deems Snowden to be) went about political activism in the civil rights movement. “We were organized, arrested, taken to jail, and let right out – all symbolic acts to let our government be aware of how deep our commitment was to this case.”

And so the conversation took off in that direction for a while, but then shifted for three wonderful hours, through our common Mormon roots, Proposition 8, DOMA, immigration, Mormonism as a political force, old email friends, cruising possibilities, and finishing with an invitation to visit their home – a rich day, topped up by a Stampede float, Western Music and a fabulous display of First Nations’ ponies and riders as we exited the hotel. Nancy and Kelly had their pictures taken on the float. While they were doing so, Omar told me that I should read the June 2009 Atlantic Monthly for a good article about a long-term survey of 100 Harvard graduates asking them over the years, “what matters most in their lives”. Although Omar did to me, I am not going to give away the answer to you until I have read the whole article. Right now I am stumped, for knowing the year, the month and the name of the magazine is not enough. I should have also remembered the name of the article.

A wonderful morning.

I am adding to my list of “I believes” a new item – “I believe that reading email lists is true.”



  1. hahaha. it is funny, because i have never met them but also feel (through reading some of the email converations) that they already my close friends. :-) p.s. love the photo!