What inspired you to start blogging?
A vacuum. Not the machine, but a time vacuum. I had just been released after serving for five years as a bishop, and found myself with a lot of free time. I needed a hobby, but wanted something more meaningful than most hobbies. So, I started writing down my thoughts, and sharing them with the world. Of course, the world did not care what I thought. Eventually. people started reading, and it took off from there.
The reason that I continue to blog is to be a small, entertaining voice of faith and orthodoxy in the online LDS world that can often reek of apostasy, doubt, and bitterness. (Yes, I said it.)
What made you want to stay anonymous?
Several reasons. 1) I want people to read because they like what they read, not because they know me or are related to me. 2) I had no idea if anyone would even read my blog, and failing in obscurity had a cowardly appeal. Who knew?! 3) There are a lot of haters out there . . .
What’s the biggest challenge in staying anonymous?
Unfulfilled pride. A while back, a sister in my ward stood up in testimony meeting and talked about one of my blog posts. I so wanted to wave at her and shout, “Hey, it’s ME!” But I resisted. Or this summer when Elder Cook mentioned one of my posts in his Women’s Conference talk, I wanted to tell people, but again, resisted. I am extremely proud of my humility, and anonymity helps keep it in check. Elder Bednar recently said, “Anonymity on the internet is not a license to be inauthentic.” MMM is me, and I am MMM. At least that’s what people that know me tell me.
Who knows that you are really Middle-aged Mormon Man?
Family, several friends, a few people who figured it out, as well as a handful of social media buddies. And Jesus. I am very grateful to all of them for playing along with the anonymity thing. They have been very great about not spilling the beans. Especially Jesus.
What has been your favorite topic to write about?
My favorite thing is to make gospel principles more understandable, relatable, and applicable. I also enjoy finding the humor in our lives and culture, while defending the faith and our leaders. Walking the tightrope between humor and spirituality is fraught with peril, but it makes it that much more exciting.
What do you love most about your readers?
They are (for the most part) in the same boat as I am. They are all doing their best to navigate this life, follow the Savior, serve others, raise families, and live righteously in a messy world—and still be happy and have fun. They are extremely loyal and supportive. The personal notes I get from readers mean much, much more to me than the millions of page views.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
“Keep pedaling!” shouted to me by my dad after I ran him into the bushes, as he was teaching me how to ride a bike. An extraordinary motto for life.
2nd Place: Back up your computer.
3rd Place: Don’t trust picky eaters. (I just made that up.)
How old are you?
52. Let me reassure you: I have heard every possible iteration of the “What are you going to call yourself when you are beyond middle age” joke in existence. Twice.
What is your favorite book?
The obvious Church books aside, I really love The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, mostly because I read it while traveling to and from Africa, while doing humanitarian work. Eye-opening and beautifully written.
What do you geek out over?
Same as all of you: Downton Abbey and Mixed Martial Arts. (Not really - I can’t stand either of them. Come to think of it, I would ante up to watch a pay-per-view Downton Abbey vs. MMA event.)
I geek out over my marriage and travel. Luckily, both work very well together. I always have another trip brewing in the back of my mind. I have been very fortunate to travel to some great places on this crazy planet, with my favorite person.
What’s your least favorite chore in the house?
Making my FOMLs (Fruit of My Loins) get up and do the chores.
What do you love best about being a dad?
I have 5 FOMLs, and at this stage my favorite part is watching them transition into being very cool, productive, and righteous adults. Meanwhile, the “Dessert Baby” is still losing baby teeth and getting merit badges, but I have been reassured that those things will pass.
What do you do when you aren't writing?
I run a business, raise a family, serve in callings, and all that good stuff. The writing doesn’t really take up a ton of my time, and it is usually in the “invisible hours” before the family gets out of bed. I spend much more time interacting with readers and wasting time on Facebook than I do writing. If I had any self-mastery at all, I would write more, and goof around less. I would love to be able to write for a living.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
It is relatively new, and came about through my interactions on social media. It is this: it makes me crazy when people accuse someone else of being “judgmental.” Can’t they see the remarkable irony in that?
I also have a phobia that could count as a pet peeve: when someone throws a lit cigarette out of a car window, I am afraid that my car is going to explode when I drive over it. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve seen enough movies . . .
What’s your favorite dessert?
I really like cheesecake, but my EC’s carrot cake is top-tier celestial stuff. Beyond that, I’ve never met a pint of ice cream that I didn’t like. (Except maybe mocha, because I’m far too righteous for that.)