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?
Not to mention…even in terms that should imply the same action (leaving the church), there are different shades of this. What’s the difference between an ex-mormon and a post-mormon, other than the fact that there’s an Exmormon Foundation (not to be confused with RfM, whose address is exmormon.org…) but there’s also postmormon.org? Would it be fair to say that the various titlings only fit for people who are principally part of the related community (that is, you can only be “post” Mormon if you go to postmormon.org? Does postmormon.org decide what it is to be postmormon as opposed to new order mormon, which is in its own domain?)?
I don’t think that’s quite right. I think, intuitively, that anyone can be postmormon — it’s not just for members of a site. Yet, perhaps postmormon does have a different “idea” behind exmormon. And even DAMU — disaffected Mormon underground — has another connotation…one that might not seem to fit.
To me, ex-mormon seems like an identity for someone who has formally separated from the church. So, even though I have broken my own informal rule plenty of times, it seems a bit…incorrect…to use ex-mormon in the context of someone who hasn’t resigned or been axed (er…ex’d).
Disaffected Mormon underground sounds like I’m still grieving/ranting/conspiring/downtrodden…it actually seems like my ‘impression’ of RfM…
Postmormon sounds great (a better “brand” than DAMU or ex-), but it also sounds a bit off. A postmormon seems to me to define someone who has moved past Mormonism in such a way that it doesn’t define him in any meaningful way except that, as a matter of record, the person once was a part of the LDS church.
So, while the term sounds nice, I don’t quite think I fit…after all, I admit Mormonism is still my culture. I simply recognize that this culture is not equivalent to the church institution.
Cultural Mormon sounds good, but I wonder if it stresses enough of nonbelief and nonpractice or not. For example, our favorite guy, John Dehlin, often emphasizes a motif in his works: despite flaws, troubling points, controversies, etc., Mormonism is his tribe or culture. He seems to fit the “cultural Mormon” label better, but he’s quite a bit more of a believer than I am (although, admittedly, not as much of a believer as the orthodox TBM.)
Not only this, but not only can identities mark where we are now…they can be aspirations to where we want to be. So, even if I’m not postmormon (based on the sound of the term, not the site), if I wanted my end goal to be separation from the entirety of Mormonism, then perhaps I could still justify the identity. My problem is that I don’t think that’s the path I want to go. It seems to be gutting a part of me to renounce Mormonism, even if it seems silly to others for me to cling to the word, seeing as I don’t believe in the church or its beliefs. So, my identity feels hodge-podge and intensely individualistic — not ex- enough to be ex-mormon, not disaffected enough to be DAMU, not post enough to be postmormon, but certainly not believing in any liberal/new order/true believing sense of the word.