Since moving away from the LDS church, I’ve explored how I feel about my new identity. Am I still Mormon? Do I want to identify as Mormon? Even if I deny that I am Mormon, am just lying to myself? Will I always be Mormon, somehow? It is, afterall, not just my upbringing, but my heritage. I grew up in Utah county, daughter and granddaughter to many generations of Mormons.
People who are from other faith backgrounds still think of me as Mormon, just non-practicing. Some faithful Mormons still think of me as Mormon, just not active. Still others would say, “She’s most definitely not Mormon” because I believe and act so differently from the “ideal Mormon.”
There are many ways to describe me and people like me. Ex-Mormon, cultural Mormon, secular Mormon, non-believing Mormon, ethnic Mormon, former Mormon, post-Mormon. Notice I can’t get away from saying “Mormon”?
As much as I’d like to erase that part of me some days, I realize, too, that I am Mormon. Part of the spirit of this blog is, I think, to stake a claim in Mormon-dom for those of us on the fringes. We are Mormon, too.
As my spouse said cheekily, “Hey, there are 8 million of us. Only 4 million of them.” We count for something.
One constant for me throughout my recent changes in religious belief has been an interest in genealogy, although even that has changed in its meaning and purpose. When I was Mormon, I participated in genealogy to extend the blessings of the restoration to my dead ancestors and because I was fascinated by the lives and experiences of those who went before me. My immediate and extended family is very small; I often felt like a â€œstranger in a strange landâ€ and like I did not quite belong. That feeling was exacerbated when my mom, the emotional glue of our family, passed away when I was only 14. Getting to know who my ancestors were and a little about their lives helped me feel that I did have earthly kin and that I did belong here. And since, as a Mormon, I believed that these dead relatives of mine continued to live on and could observe me, I imagined that they were so grateful when they received great blessings in the temple as a result of my efforts. It was richly satisfying and addictive.
Now, as a non-believer, I still enjoy imagining the lives and circumstances of my ancestorsâ€™ humble lives. They may not have thought their lives were of much importance, but their lives are very important to me, for their choices and struggles helped to create me and my unique features. But, the bigger picture has changed from a focus on spiritual salvation and the hereafter to the marvelous history of the world and life on it and my small role in its continuation. I am in awe of being such a small part of this massive movement. It is spiritually satisfying to me to contemplate being part of this greater whole. My appreciation of the earthy physicality of it all has expanded as I no longer believe that the real reality lies in the unseen spiritual realm. I am amazed by the process of cultural and genetic evolution especially in my line. I now believe that my ancestors extend beyond the human race and that among my relatives are all living things â€“ from the grass to the apes.
Continue reading “Genealogy – Its Continued Significance to One Post-Mormon”
Wendy P writes:
Iâ€™m in the middle of a â€˜post-Mormonâ€™ issue that Iâ€™d love to explore. My mostly non-active daughter (age 7) wants to be baptized, mainly to fit in with her active LDS friends and family members. Is it disingenuous to have a child baptized, who really isnâ€™t an active member or believer? She was â€œborn in the Churchâ€ and goes to church a few times a year, so sheâ€™s familiar with the teachings, but really isnâ€™t a candidate in the traditional sense.
As a post-Mormon parent, can you make baptism for your child a sort of hybrid between orthodoxy and merely a symbolic rite of passage, in order to feel a bond with peers and family?
Main Street Plaza is a new group blog for the post-Mormon community and everyone else who is interested in Mormonism. We’re especially looking to discuss topics of general interest to people who have been Mormon — things that are relevant to your life as a cultural Mormon — rather than placing the focus on proofs of why Mormonism is bad or wrong. Whatever your perspective of Mormonism may be, you are welcome to contribute to the discussion, and maybe we will find some common ground as friends, neighbors, and family members.
So what do you think? Is this a pipe dream? Or do we have enough common interests as a cultural Mormon community to fill a blog with interesting topics?
We would like this to be a community blog even more than a group blog, so we’re looking for guest posts from all of you. Something as simple as a discussion question or a link to an LDS-interest article or cartoon is welcome as well as a complete article about your own experiences, insights, research, and art work.
Please send your guest posts to email@example.com, and share your thoughts and ideas with us by commenting below.