“The Good Place” Makes Peace with Death

SPOILERS! SO MANY SPOILERS! Over the last four years, The Good Place fans knew writers were going to have to deal with the “real” good place eventually. It was the inevitable end. Each character, including our favorite demon, was invited into a deeper knowledge of their shortcomings. Which meant growth. As each character got betterContinue reading ““The Good Place” Makes Peace with Death”

Stalked by the Mormon Church

I had not been to church in over three years. I had moved to another city. I had not informed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints of my new address. I had, in fact, not had any contact with the church or its representatives for over three years. And yet, one cloudy dayContinue reading “Stalked by the Mormon Church”

Thailand

Top had booked his first visit home in three years, and I went with him. I had learned so much living above the Thai restaurant. And yet I had learned nothing at all. Thailand, I thought. Asia.  More than 9,000 miles away.  I expected freedom. I expected healing. For my relationship with Top. For myself.Continue reading “Thailand”

The End of Faith

Faith, the people who have it will tell you, can get you through anything. And that is so. But the loss of it can take from you everything you have left. I’d had a complicated relationship with God since I was 12. Ever since I invoked Mormon norms of fatherly conduct and my father beatContinue reading “The End of Faith”

Navigating Religious Differences: An Agnostic Visits Christian Family

I grew up in a religious community that fanatically converted neighbors, friends, and relatives. A Sunday wouldn’t go by without a reminder to pick up extra copies of The Book of Mormon and hand them out when God so moved us. But the world grows thick with difference, and to cull the diversity through conversionContinue reading “Navigating Religious Differences: An Agnostic Visits Christian Family”

Why I Love Grad School, or Please Talk Career Options with Your Daughters

When I was 22, my undergraduate professors started to ask where I’d be going next. Everyone assumed it would be grad school. My art history professor, a supportive, wry-humored expert in Mexican art named Deborah Caplow, especially believed I would make a career for myself in art criticism and teaching. My future, cast in theirContinue reading “Why I Love Grad School, or Please Talk Career Options with Your Daughters”

Losing Faith

For me, the loss of my faith was much like gaining it. Something outside my control, like a storm blowing in. And this frightened me when it happened. Growing up Mormon, I had been taught that faith is a virtue. And virtues, by definition, can be chosen. Cultivated. Integrity, loyalty, honesty, charity. But faith, it turnsContinue reading “Losing Faith”

Into the Gray

I have a problem. I love certainty. Labels. Categories. Classifications: fiction or nonfiction, ethical or unethical, subject or verb. As a child, I crammed a pine bookcase with glossy paperbacks of E.B White and Louisa May Alcott and Lloyd Alexander. I lined up the little volumes alphabetically and counted them when I needed reassurance that the world spun onContinue reading “Into the Gray”

An Ex-Mormon Meets the World

If you know any ex-Mormons, please be patient with us. A favorite Mormon creed is to be “in the world but not of it.” And to be “set apart” is to be formally blessed for a calling within the church. To be marked as different–as a Mormon–is synonymous with being chosen by god. At 20 I left all this behind.Continue reading “An Ex-Mormon Meets the World”

What I Learned from Writing a Killer

Two weeks ago, Robert J. Ray—easily the best teacher I’ve had in any subject—told me to start writing my killer’s backstory in first person. No way, was my knee-jerk response. Hell no. Last week, Jack Remick told me the same thing. Goddamn it, boys. These two men, lifelong writers and teachers now in their seventies,Continue reading “What I Learned from Writing a Killer”