The other day, I wrote on my blog about how I continue to find that even as intellectually and ideologically, I’m moving farther (bad typo; I wish I could move my father past the church) past the church, I realize from a practical standpoint, I’ve still got a lot of Mormonism in me yet. But I mean, I was not too concerned about a lot of it…after all, just because you don’t believe in the spiritual underpinnings of Mormonism doesn’t mean you somehow immediately become a dramatically different person. Mormonism doesn’t have the market cornered on abstinence, being an embarrassingly sheltered and naive prude, and tee-totalism.
So, I’ve wanted to say that it’s just a part of my unique cultural Mormonism. I can’t escape that I was raised LDS and that is a part of my culture.
But…as Kuri called me out on…and as I called myself on just a few moments after publishing the post…I seem to be paying way too much deference to Mormon frameworks of virtue and morality. What is up with that? I find myself looking at some of the things I said as if I were cleaning up my room, finding some strange underwear. Wait a minute…those aren’t my boxer-briefs!
Kuri had said:
I think you have deeply absorbed Mormon values. Its pretty clear that you consider not having sex, not drinking, and not using drugs to be virtuous choices on your part rather than considering them, say, risks you dont want to take or morally neutral actions that you simply arent interested in pursuing. Its interesting how much a part of you that worldview is even though you dont believe in the religious aspects.
And I was conflicted. No, I do not believe all of these things to be “virtuous” choices or “moral” choices, because I don’t believe in that moral framework anymore (and, to be honest, when I was a member, I didn’t really take that moral framework). But where I’m conflicted specifically is that I must admit that yes, I’ve been caught red-handed using the language that would be conducive to such thoughts. I am using the language of acquiescence to Mormon moral normativity.
I’ve been trying to get past this, too. But it’s a struggle too…as I tried to write my original article, I wanted to be careful to distance myself from the language I was using. So, I used rather awkward phrases…the “appearance” of virtue. What a faithful member might see as virtuous. So, I tried to distance it away from myself and instead to the community I came from.
Because, quite frankly…I don’t think I’m more moral or virtuous for not drinking or doing all of those things. And I don’t think others are immoral or unvirtuous for doing those things. Instead, my point was that I recognize that to others, I must appear rather virtuous or moral (ex: to my parents or to people from my ward, who despite their displeasure with knowing I don’t believe would have to recognize that I’m pretty “clean”.) I think it’s because moral wrongs demand a certain outrage…and pine for retribution to make things better…but I do not have such an outrage or pining for such retribution.
Rather, at this point, I think I view it in terms of a kind of prudence…With imprudent actions, you aren’t outraged…rather, imprudent actions bring about a harm to the self that makes one think, “That was stupid and silly. I ought not to do that.” One possibly takes pity on someone who commits an imprudent action, but one wouldn’t want to bring more harm (in the form of retribution) onto someone who has been imprudent, because they have already harmed themselves.
And I think I’ve done, in many cases…a great job of viewing things less in terms of Mormon morality/immorality (I’m crafting a post on amoralism and moral error theory for one of these days) and more in terms of prudence/imprudence. For example, we had a go around about baptism for the dead. And one of the things this got me seeing is the difference…for me, baptisms for the dead simply seem rather imprudent for Mormons to do, and I think I phrased that: to me, at best, I feel like they are doing something silly that harms the self (because it is a waste of time)…but others would take a different stance, noting there is moral outrage at the idea because of a harm to others (disrespect for the dead’s beliefs).
And even when I do see things in terms of morality/immorality, it is distinctly of a non-Mormon flavor. Outrage for me is for people who are against marriage equality. But I can’t say I got that from Mormon upbringing when the church is precisely one of those offending groups.
So…I dunno…I guess I got rambly again…but the thing I’m trying to say is…I’m rather conflicted. Even as I think I’m out, I find strange parts that are back in. Yet, it’s not like I’m so entrenched in Mormonism and Mormon values. It is an enigma.
Do you ever have similar issues sometimes?