Well, he’s an interesting guy, what can I say? He joined the Church, started blogging at Latte Day Saints and changed his name online  to Jamie Trwth.

And he spells it wrong. That was my first question: “What’s the deal with the name?”

Jamie just gave a soft little chuckle and said something like, “I don’t know, I was just playing around with words. Truth with a ‘Double U’ is twice as truthful. At least it is to me.”

That’s the first thing I learned about Jamie. He’s very soft-spoken and has a gentle tone. His posts have at times been strongly worded, he’s sure of his opinions. But when I spoke to him, he seemed almost tenuous, unsure. He carefully thought about each question and gave reasoned answers, devoid of any animosity or emotional baggage. You guys, he’s shy :).

And if you ever ask him a question in real life, give him an extra second to answer because he thinks about his answers and if you interrupt him, he will have to think some more. It’s quite endearing.

Born in Long Beach, California to quiet, calm and analytical parents, he was raised without really being aware of his minority status. His parents were the typical middle class people, stable and hardworking. His father, a clerk at a Texaco Refinery, is a very, very calm person. “Nothing ever seems to gets to him,” Jamie remarks.

His mother worked at VA Hospital through out most of Jamie’s life.” She’s a confident independent woman.” She celebrated 1 year being cancer free this past spring.

He’s the third child in his family and reflects an adaptability that is unusual in a youngest child. Jamie can be reasoned with, he won’t go off and threaten people and call names when he disagrees.

Jamie realized he was different from other people but didn’t realize he was a minority, or discriminated against, until he was in his late teens. He lived in Long Beach until he was 5 when his family moved to the OC. Cypress, California is a fairly integrated community and his life there was peaceful and happy. His parents never fought in English (always pig Latin) but 2 years after their big move they separated and eventually amicably divorced. Even though his family was broken his childhood was a good one.

Jamie received his first real wakeup call when he was 15. He was “going steady” (that’s what we called it then) with the Daughter of a Christian Minister who was Caucasian. He was so in loooovve, as only a 15-year-old boy could be. He would walk her home from school; hold her hand and carrying her books. Then one day, out of the blue, she dumped him. She said, “My dad doesn’t want me to date you because you’re black.”

“I felt like I was just slapped in the face,” he shares with me. “I knew she liked me and she felt bad, too. I didn’t want to make her feel worse, so I just say “okay” and that was that.” They remained friends but never dated again.

“I have never been called the N word. I don’t ever say the word Cypress High School in the 80’s was predominantly Caucasian. Every once in a while a certain class mate would utter the forbidden word. He would say it, the room would get quiet, I would slowly turn to face him and he would say “You know we don’t think of you that way.”

Jamie’s first experience with Mormonism happened when he was in high school. He had a Mormon friend and someone told him that Mormons could have multiple wives. When he went to his friend’s house, he kept his eyes peeled for his other mommies.

I asked him why he didn’t ask his friend where they were and he said in his own shy way, “Oh, I would have never done that.”

Graduating from Lakewood High School, Jamie moved to Tennessee, married and had a son at a young age. Jamie, along with his wife and son, attended a Pentecostal Church. He was latter disfellowshipped by the Church. For the first time in his life, Jamie was bitter. Soon after leaving that church, his first marriage ended.

He was devastated by his ending marriage; he didn’t want anything to do with any Church and was left alone struggling to find himself. He later moved back to California and studied Electro Acoustic Music and Los Angeles Harbor Collage but never graduated.

Jamie met his current wife, a member of the church, on-line and shortly there after moved to Alaska. That was eleven years ago this month. Her mother, like all diligent mother in laws, constantly sent the missionaries to teach Jamie about the gospel. Again, he didn’t resent their coming, and he was always a gentleman to them (and his mother-in-law). But, while he attended Church with his wife, he didn’t feel comfortable becoming a member. He was still wary of the idea of Church in any form.

He’d been given a Book of Mormon and glanced at it through the years, checking out the references, but he learned more about the Church from the “Truth Restored” pamphlet then anything he was taught or read at that point.

He’d heard about the priesthood ban from time to time, and others had given him the impression that Mormons didn’t like black people. However this hasn’t been his experience–Mormons have always been kind and welcoming to him. However, he was troubled by statements he read; for instance: “If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.” Journal of Discourses Brigham Young Volume 10 Page 110.

He searched diligently for a retraction of this statement but came up empty handed. He met with the missionaries and asked about the quote. They responded, “A prophet doesn’t always speak as a prophet all the time.” Then one of the missionaries said, “It’s not about what a prophet said years ago. It’s about how you feel when you read the Book of Mormon? It’s about whether you believe the Book of Mormon is true.”

One evening a member of the bishopric arrived at his house. Coincidentally, his wife was African-American. He told Jamie that they were married before the ban was lifted. He struggled with the idea that his sons wouldn’t be allowed to hold the Priesthood and he shared with Jamie the joy he felt when the ban was lifted.

He eventually concluded, through his own research, that the ban wasn’t doctrine nor was it a Law of God. One reason he came to this realization was Elijah Abel, an African American Saint, was ordained an Elder during the time period in which the Ban was in place.

He told me about a comment someone made on one of his early blogs (referring to interracial couples and the church) that troubled him:

“If you scoff at the rule that a people do not mix races in marriage all you have to do is note the low success rate of such marriages generally. As Packer noted, there can be exceptions though. This is reasonable. The fact that you did not take that advice when it was given you was your choice. If you are somehow embarrassed who is to blame??”

The poster was referring to a talk by Boyd K Packer had entitled ‘Follow The Rule’,   http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6172 

During his years of church attendance, investigating, questioning and studying, he stumbled onto Mormon Stories. He’d discovered podcasting, then Mormon podcasts, and then slowly started blogging proper.

He gives John Dehlin high credit for encouraging his desire to learn more about the Church. “John is a really great guy. If it were not for that he is doing, I would have never joined the Church.” The apologists of the Church really didn’t give him good reasons to join. John is a real person talking about real issues. There were other factors, but Mormon Stories Podcast was a huge factor in his conversion.

“Just a week ago I took my wonderful wife and our three children to the Temple to be sealed. Also on the same day I stood proxy for my Father-in-law to have my wife sealed to her Mother and Father. All this in just over one year.”

(This was September 2007 — woohoo, Congratulations, Jamie!)

Typical of Jamie, he, with a small laugh, told me that his Father-in-law was a racist who had passed away years ago. That just struck him as so funny–I love people who can find the sense of the absurd and ironic and laugh at the irony and absurdity of life. That’s one of the really cool things about Jamie.

I asked Jamie what he thought of Barack Obama and he responded:

“I don’t know too much about Mr. Obama’s politics. One thing that gets me, he is labeled as African American. Reality he is Bi-Racial. Which to me furthers the notion that if someone has just a single drop of African blood in them they are considered African or Black. This label denies Barack’s Mother’s heritage completely.”

“My children are (for the most part) Bi-Racial. I went to sign my son into school a few years back, I had to fill in a form on racial identity. The lady behind the counter saw I was having problems and said. ‘Just check African-American. I have Grand babies who are mixed also. But you gotta check that one.’ ”

“To my delight while signing him into school this year it’s all multiple choice now. “

(Jamie’s family has been Interracial since around 1857, when his 3rd Great Grand Father married his 3rd Great Grand Mother, a Native American woman.)

“One other thing about Barack came to my attention. Mr. Obama was raised Muslim and has since converted to Christianity. In LDS culture we throw around the term Apostate. This means family and personal disgrace more than anything. In some Muslim cultures Blood Atonement is still practiced for some offenses. One such offense is leaving the Muslim religion. This concerns me on a national level. Not the fact that he converted but the fact that Fanatics (who just so happen to be Muslim) will take note and it might be one more reason to hate the USA.”

“I have no problem with Baraka being President of the United States. If he earns the job fair and square that is a great accomplishment for anyone to have. If he leads our country in a direction the people wish it to go, I am all for it. If he becomes president and accomplishes that task he will be known as a Great African American. But if he does poorly, he will be known as the African American who had the chance to make things better and screwed it up of the rest of us. I wish we could focus on something other than ‘Black Man for President, Woman for President, Mormon for President, etc.’ we should be focusing on who is the best for our country. There are many African-Americans who are great in their fields. In my mind I know them for being great first and their heritage second. I wish we could focus on that with Obama.”

Well said, Jamie.

Jamie is now the Blazer Scout leader in his ward, as well as an Elders Quorum instructor. Together he and his wife are raising their three kids: his wife’s daughter from a previous relationship, who is 18; his son from his first marriage, who is 16; and and their little “ours” an 8 year old son. All three children are sealed to Jamie and his wife. Jamie is studying Computer Technologies while Home schooling their Second Son. His wife owns her own accounting business. They also have two tabby cats, and two Labs, one yellow and one black.

He loves living in Alaska and told me he often sees moose in his yard. Once a moose chased him around his yard and he ran into the carport behind the cars to evade said moose. Which for some reason, I found vastly amusing, although he could have been killed.

Ba-Ba Wa-Wa Questions, (or how everyone is human):

What is your favorite blog?

Mormon Blogs: I am split between Mormon Mentality and Our Thoughts.

Non-Blogernacle Blogs: I CAN HAS CHEESEBURGER (Its addictive) By Common Consent has a Mormonized post of this blog http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/05/lolnacle

Movie: The Princess Bride

Books: Stranger in a Strange Land, How Do You Spell God?

Color: Blue

Food: Tuna Fish Casserole

Thing to do: Listen to music

Jamie likes all genres of music, except he doesn’t like rap. He feels it’s misogynistic, narrow-minded, and phony. He loves to dance, but he has a big phobia about tripping in public.

Fast Food: KFC bowls or Chinese Food

Pet peeve – Jamie: “Prejudice–not just in a racial sense, but people who feel that trying new things is bad. A myopic point of view.”

Me: “Huh?”

Jamie: Laughs, “maybe I should pick another one.”

Me: “no, everybody else I’ve interviewed has had weird pet peeves.”

Most embarrassing moment: Jamie has two. One as an adult and one as a child. (And another one I couldn’t leave out)

When he was 7 or 8, his teacher told the class to press their hands firmly on their eyeballs and visualize something or other. Being an obedient child, he pressed so hard his eyeball’s blood vessels constricted. When he took his hands off, his vision and color sense was all twisted for a few minutes and he completely freaked out in front of the whole class.

At age 19 he took a trip to Mexico with his mother, brother, sister and his brothers girlfriend. He thought he would partake of the Mexican nightlife since he was of age (at least in that country).

At the first bar he went into, he noticed three women at the door. He had been to nightclubs before and thought he had to pay a cover charge to get into this one. A woman at the bar saw his confusion and brought him into the establishment. She sat him down and explained to him that the women were prostitutes. “I was so embarrassed. I was digging into my pocket to hand one of them money and didn’t realize I could have been propositioning a lady of the night.”

Another embarrassing moment (that didn’t really happen to him, like Sarah’s) occurred when he was at a party and everyone was supposed to write down an embarrassing moment (that they wouldn’t have to talk to the bishop about) and they would guess who said it. So they read this one that said, “I stabbed myself in the leg while trying to kill a cat.”

Jamie laughed and it turned out to be the bishop and he was embarrassed at laughing at the bishop’s embarrassing moment.

You guys, it was a privilege to get to know Jamie. I’m so glad he found blogging because he can bless our lives as well as we can bless his. Thanks for being here, Jamie.