Mormon Intra-faith Dialogue Under Controlled Circumstances

Picket Fence

A week ago, a number of bloggers from across the Mormon belief map joined together answer the following question- do good online fences make good LDS neighbors? My co-panelistchanson has posted some remarks here, andRachel Whipple has posted her remarks at Times and Seasons, andyou can also readHolly’s post herefor thoughts from a non-panelist.

I have written frequently on the topic, but I wanted to address things again here. For our panel, we had wanted to have members of the orthodox, believing Mormon blog aggregator Nothing Wavering. However, both Bruce Nielson and J. Max Wilson declined our invitation, but they did provide reasons for why they declined our invitations to Sunstone (Bruce’s reasons for declining Sunstone detail this idea that the different blogs are “safe zones” for different communities, whereas J. Max Wilson’s reasons for declining talk about the need not to give Sunstone or the Bloggernacle any legitimacy.)

With J. Max’s and Bruce’s posts publicly available on their blogs, I thought that I could present their pointson their behalf — kinda like a devil’s advocate (can you taste the irony?) I don’t know how J. Max feels about this, but Bruce, at the very least, had said explicitly in his comments:

…if you wanted to express my views of boundary maintenance at Sunstone on my behalf just for kicks and giggles and then let your panel shoot it down, I really wouldnt mind. (Not being present, I can hardly be socially rejected now can I?) I might even take this email and post it on M* one of these days and see if it generates any discussion while Im in my safe zone so to speak. But this is up to you.

So I guess his post was fair game. But there was a funny thing that happened after I presented both of their positions.

Continue reading “Mormon Intra-faith Dialogue Under Controlled Circumstances”

The Emotional Apostate: The Case for Leaving to Sin and Offense.

loose thread sweaterWithin the ex-Mormon community…or at least, the ex-Mormon community as it thrives online, on websites, blogs throughout Outer Blogness, forums, etc., there seems to be this common exit narrative. (Daymon Smith has a post deconstructing the synthesis of this new identity, but I couldn’t decipher his blog post well enough to summarize the findings for you.) Here’s my attempt at a summary:We were (collectively or generally speaking) righteous, serious folk, who lived our religion to the best we could. Mormonism, at least for many of us, was a sweater made especially for us, handed down in many cases from generation to generation, across miles that our pioneer ancestors trekked. And even if we were converts, we dived into it fully.

We were proud of the snugness of Mormonism, and many times proud as well of this homemade sweater that was so distinct from what most others in the world were wearing. Maybe others were draped in inferior materials. Maybe others had good material but poor handiwork. Maybe they lacked the guidance, the ultimate revealed truth that we had to weaving it all together.

But no matter. We, as those who bore the truth, would share it with others, so they could bear it too. And so we did.

But then, one day, under some circumstance or another, we stumbled upon a loose strand. It was something out of order in perfection, and so we sought to pull out that loose strand to restore our previous perfection. But following that loose strand, we could not find solace. For instead of finding the end to the strand, we perpetuated the end to our sweater. In the end, with our once-snug sweater unraveled all around us, we found ourselves cold, naked, and vulnerable.

What was the sweater? And what was its doom? Continue reading “The Emotional Apostate: The Case for Leaving to Sin and Offense.”

Why are Ex-Mormons So Angry (and other questions)? Part II

This is the second part of what has turned out to be a surprisingly lengthy two-part series on the perception of ex-Mormons as being angry and causes and reasons for anger that may exist, originally posted at Irresistible (Dis)Grace here and here. Please read part I (if you haven’t already) here.

3. Why do ex-Mormons appear to be angrier than we are?

If you’ll notice my phrasing of the previous question (in the first part), I wrote thatsomeex-Mormons will be angrysomeof the time. But what outsiders generally see is a perpetually angry mass of people.

So what explains the difference between appearance and reality?

It’s a matter of an unrepresentative sample along with the vocal minority/silent majority dynamic. Continue reading “Why are Ex-Mormons So Angry (and other questions)? Part II”

Why are Ex-Mormons So Angry (and other questions)? Part I

A while back on reddit, aMormon stumbled into the popular (and still growing) ex-Mormon reddit to ask the ex-Mormon denizens a few questions. Many of the questions were quite patronizing (despite the poster’s stated desire to “support whatever [our] beliefs [were] in a non-patronizing way”), and the proceeding conversation was less than pretty. However, it was a good chance for me to formalize some little-known dynamics of the disaffected Mormon underground that explain why some questions come up over and over again from well-meaning (or even not-so-well-meaning) Mormon (or even non-Mormon) outsiders:

  1. Are ex-Mormons all angry?
  2. If so, why are we angry?
  3. If not (or if there is some caveat), then why do weappearto be angry?

In addressing these basic questions, I made comments that I’ve made on many blogs and on many occasions, but recently I realized that I’ve never formally taken the time to post these things.

Until now.This is the first part of what has turned out to be a surprisingly lengthy two-part series, which was originally posted at Irresistible (Dis)Grace in parts I and II.Part II may be found here.

Continue reading “Why are Ex-Mormons So Angry (and other questions)? Part I”

Laziness and Desire to Sin

One of the big stereotypes about people who leave the church is that anyone who would do such a terrible thing must have done so because they were too lazy to follow God’s commandments or because they just wanted to sin.

We’ve probably been accused (either explicitly or implicitly) of these (or a variation thereof) charges, and so I bet we all have taken the time to try to explain that that’s not really the case, and that those rationalizations actually ignore, gloss over, and marginalize the real rough spots in church doctrine, practice, and history.

…but what if the stereotypes are true?

Continue reading “Laziness and Desire to Sin”

Do people leave the church for greener grass?

Green grass

I was just reading a fascinating new post at Times & Seasons — Wanted: Greener Grass.

I won’t lie; part of what amused me was the link to a study of children’s drawings that captured their preconceived notions of what kind of person a scientist is (with implications as to the gender stereotypes harbored by boys and girls and how mutable those stereotypes are after experience with actual scientists.)

But that wasn’t all. Of course, Dane’s own article was interesting because of its hypothesis about (some of) those who leave the church and its comparison and contrast of the respective ideological “pastures” or “lawns” of groups quite ideologically distinct from the church. Continue reading “Do people leave the church for greener grass?”

Knowledge, Community, and Relationships

Over at the faithful Mormon blog Faith-Promoting Rumor is a discussion enticingly titled “Do Relationships Make the Church True and False?

This post is a short enough one that you should just go over there and read it, but I guess I will still highlight some points here…when I was reading it, I will say that one idea I was apprehensive about finding was the idea of trying to bottle ex-Mormons as those people who leave because “they’ve been offended.” Or maybe “the church is true but the people aren’t.”

I personally think that my apprehensions were unfounded…I didn’t get that vibe from reading the article. Instead, I got a much different vibe.

(First of all, I think that the paper about exit narratives to which TT refers is Seth Payne’s; it can be found here. The Mormon Expression podcast [to which you all should listen!] interviewed Seth over his study here.)

Continue reading “Knowledge, Community, and Relationships”

Third Culture Kids and our Disaffected Mormon Underground

A while back, there was a husband-wife couple of speakers who came to one of my classes to talk about their mission to Papua New Guinea for several years. I wrote about that on my blog a while back, highlighting one of the things they said about their children that particularly struck me.

These children grow up to be Third Culture Kids, and there is a phenomenon of these Third Culture Kids from a variety of upbringings. What these Third Culture Kids must realize is that they do not belong. And they never will. They must learn to accept that they cant be American, but they cant be Gapapaiwa. They have to be something in the middle. Many Third Culture Kids, in fact, end up marrying others, because even if the particulars of their situations vary, they understand the phenomenon and each other

This is a kinda loose paraphrase, but I’m pretty sure the mother said the exact words, “they do not belong. And they never will.” That struck me. I checked out the wikipedia page on Third Culture Kids here, and although I fit one of the traditional categories (army brat), what I felt was that as an ex-Mormon, I feel this way too. Continue reading “Third Culture Kids and our Disaffected Mormon Underground”

What is/was your relationship with Mormonism?

This is a question I just had for everyone…because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this blogging, it’s that people have such widely differing relationships with Mormonism. I’ve taken for granted that people are looking for the same “things” from it as I was/am, but that is not the case.

So, my question is: what is (or was) your relationship with the church and Mormonism? (I asked this question on my blog too, and there were a few answers, but I wanted a different audience.) What purpose did it/does it serve…what do you look for (or what did you look for) from it?

To give an example of what I’m trying to think about, let’s take three different people, whose positions I hope I have correctly surmised:

Person A:

Continue reading “What is/was your relationship with Mormonism?”

What’s in a Mormon identity?

I’m certain that this has been discussed over and over in numerous ways and in numerous formats on the internet…but…what do you think your identity is relating to Mormonism and what do you think that identity signifies?

For example, we each know that there’s Further Light and Knowledge (FLAK), and New Order Mormonism (NOM), and also Recovery from Mormonism (RfM). Furthermore, we know that there’s a different character to each of these sites, so even if we can’t put our finger on it and articulate, we can say, for example, that we feel more at home at FLAK than at NOM or RfM.

But what does this state about our identities with respect to Mormonism? I guess with NOM, it’s relatively easy — you are new order Mormon. Some of us would bristle…we’re definitely ex-Mormons, not just New order or liberal. But then some would note that although they are not active, they still are on the rolls…so technically, they are still members. Does that mean they must simply be inactive?

Continue reading “What’s in a Mormon identity?”