From Conservative Mormon to Pagan Anarchist: Complacency (Part 4)

Over the course of my adult life, I have traveled a significant part of of the breadth of the political spectrum, from right to left, from authoritarian to libertarian, from politically conservative Mormon to radical Leftist. Someone recently asked me how this happened, and the question brought me up short. My lack of a ready answer surprised me, because I am a very introspective person. So I decided to reconstruct the course of my life as best as I could, to see if I could identify the events or people which were most influential on my transformation.

I’ve identified six phases of my life and broken this (relatively short) autobiography into corresponding six parts.

  • Upbringing: Ages 5-19 (1980-1994)
  • Disillusionment: Ages 19-24 (1994-1999)
  • Liberalization: Ages 24-29 (1999-2004)
  • Complacency: Ages 30-34 (2005-2009)
  • Politicization: Ages 35-40 (2010-2015)
  • Radicalization: Age 40-Present (2015-present)

This series is something of a personal indulgence. Which is to say, I don’t expect or even hope anyone will read it. But I feel compelled to write it in any case. Note, this is a political autobiography. Though religion intersects my politics at several key points, my spiritual autobiography is a different topic and one for another day.

Complacency: Ages 30-34 (2005-2009)

This is going to be a short installment. I started working in my legal field of choice. My oldest started school. My wife, Ruth, started graduate school in 2005, studying family therapy. This introduced her (and indirectly me) to systems thinking, which would be important for me later. We moved into our first home 2007, when my youngest was starting school. In 2009, Ruth graduated and started working as a therapist. I was settling into a middle-class complacency.

My politics too were complacent. (Note: I have not read the book shown above, but I thought the title and subtitle fit the theme of this part well.) I had voted for Kerry in 2004, my first vote for a Democrat. We voted for Obama, both times. I had bought into the idea that racism had been transcended by the election of a Black president, but I soon realized otherwise. Gradually, I became disillusioned with Obama, starting with bailout of the big banks and the failure to close Guantanamo to the failure of Obamacare and the expansion of the surveillance state. By the end of Obama’s presidency, I was through with the Democratic party.

To be continued in Part 5: Politicization

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post,, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

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