I was reading this news article the other day, and it just seemed so obvious. It was a study that found that LDS conversion is a process. What made it seem so obvious to me was that as the article went on, it seemed clear that the writer was speaking of conversion as a socialization process…and socialization is nothing ground-shattering. It happens in every social institution. So it seems strange, actually, that something that is normally considered quite religious, spiritual, and mystical as conversion can be described in human, quotidian terms. (Well, I guess it’s only strange if you expect conversion to be a divine smack in the face.)
I wrote about this article on my blog, and I tried playing with the article to see how true this could be for other groups…and one group I found it particularly fit for was the opposite of the LDS convert — the LDS deconvert.One line from the original that was particularly striking for me was this line:
New converts face many struggles as they adopt a new culture and way of life, according to the study. Many end up feeling like they do not belong anywhere, neither to the new LDS culture nor to their previous culture.
I feel that if you switch this to the deconvert or to the ex-Mormon, it still is scarily accurate. After all, as an ex-mormon, I still retain the jargon of LDS culture…and I still contain some of the thought processes and mannerisms. These don’t make me a great member because I don’t believe in the fundamental tenets…but at the same time, I’m not the same as any old non-member. Atheist ex-mormons are different from atheists from other churches or those who were raised atheist. (insert religion here) ex-mormons are different from other adherents of their religion as well.
My question has been…am I cool with fitting in nowhere? Am I okay with being in a limbo?
I think I am. Because while I could try to fit into one group or another (purely non-member or purely member), I would be forsaking a part of me that I still find valuable. I still find it valuable that I could speak as an ex-member, whereas someone who is just a non-member can’t. I can still go toe to toe with believers, because I was there.
But even beyond this, I couldn’t just immediately drop every hint of Mormonism if I wanted to. I do recognize that I still have family members and friends in the church that I have to maintain relationships with, and although I’ve come a long way in freeing myself from certain uniquely Mormon assumptions about the world that haven’t seemed to match how I really experienced things, I recognize too that it was hard to do so in a lot of cases.