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Disaffected, Disillusioned, Estranged Mormons: Let Us Cling Together

September 24, 2009
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

Even though I think describing the estrangement, disillusionment, and disaffection that various groups face with respect to the Mormon church is a delicate and nearly futile task, I think — based on the comments from my last article — the Double Bind on Gay Mormons — that I was able to come closer to a true account of how people feel.

But while that article described the pervading isolation and loneliness of this struggle (quite simply, most people — even the afflicted — cannot fully understand the delicate situation of the double bind), I thought it would be interesting to answer related questions. What’s so estranging about Mormonism anyway? Why can’t those who find themselves otherized by the LDS church simply break free of such a demeaning position and create their own communities. After all, if there are enough of us, then wouldn’t this give us leverage and a sizeable base to create a lasting community?

The image for today is one of the (many) covers for the game Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. (If you’ve played Final Fantasy Tactics, then realize that this game was the spiritual predecessor). Why don’t the estranged Mormons (on either side of the faith line) cling together?

This post is inspired by a question that commenter FireTag asked, but which I didn’t originally understand:

Mormon sects form to the RIGHT of the LDS mainstream form all of the time. Why, culturally, do no Mormon sects form to the LEFT of the LDS mainstream. Even 1% of you could form a 100K denomination. So why does it never happen?

I thought the answer would simply be to point out something about how “liberal” religions simply don’t seem to fare as well as “strict, conservative” religions anyway. But, upon another comment from FireTag, I realized I had misunderstood what he was asking:

I’m still not sure why so many of you have to fight the battles so alone.

I made my adjusted responses in this comment.

I think the answer to this kind of question is more complex. So many of us have to fight the battles “alone” because we are estranged geographically and physically as well as ideologically. While we can blog and finally find people like us, our real life wards are not the same way. Furthermore, there is not a formal way to make real life wards a place to find fellow disaffected people. Obviously, most people put on smiling faces every Sunday (and those who don’t go with the flow face adverse effects for it), so it would be tough to connect to others even if they were there.

The greater part of why I don’t think disaffected, disillusioned, estranged, and other heterodox Mormons do not cling together is because many times, we don’t want to cling together. To cling together because of our disillusionment and disaffection is fatalistically accepting the disaffection. When we blog, we often don’t bring it up (out of politeness to the unspoken rules of civility), but the painful fact is that were it not for our adverse experiences with Mormonism, many of us would have few shared interests. Many of us would never have had incentive to begin blogging or reading others’ blogs.

So, if we were to create a community or new sect, then we’d either have to deal with vast differences in opinion or if we focused on our commonality, then we’d be focusing on our loneness, estrangement, and disillusion.

But we don’t necessarily want to do that — at least, not as an end. The reason we blog now is because it is a hopeful means to an end. We hope that our blogging will allow us to extinguish our loneness, estrangement, and disillusion, and salve the wounds. In this way, our hope is that we eliminate the reason we all came together in the first place — because when we are healed, we will realize again that we had little in common and cannot recognize one another’s face.

Our hope is another double bind, though…For even though we would like not to hurt, we wouldn’t like to get rid of our Mormon experiences, for they are significant to us, even if they are painful. To become a nonmember rather than ex-member is out of the question…because we are too in-the-know to be ignorant and innocent of it all ever again.

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13 Comments
  1. I would like to offer one additional reason for why the disaffected internet Mormons would never form a real-life church: The church could never supply what it is many of us are looking for, or the things that we gain from our online interactions.

    In working on my MBTI/religious adherence study, I’ve discovered something really interesting. The vast majority of disaffected Mormons are INTJs. That four-letter word probably doesn’t mean too much, but let me tell you what it means to me. INTJs are the intellectuals. They are the scientists. They are the great thinkers. And they are not extroverts. INTJs like to study things out, to rationalize and reason. They like to, well, read and think. The internet in general seems to attract a lot of introverts in general (just check out places like NOM). But, you just don’t get that kind of intellectual stimulation is any kind of church environment. Even on the best of Sundays, Sunday School will always frustrate the well-read.

    But blogs and forums offer the opportunity for the disaffected INTJ to present his or her arguments and concerns logically and carefully, re-reading until the response is accurate. You don’t get that opportunity IRL. They can then study things out online or in texts to respond. The online blogernaccle is an intellectual Mormon’s playground. Now, if you got us altogether, it would be a completely different thing: many wouldn’t be social, for one thing (that is the I versus the E). We would play devil’s advocate with one another. Debates would surely ensue, ever and often, because, well, its fun to think and discuss.

    The other issue is that INTJs aren’t the charasmatic leaders.

  2. I agree with your comments — seems kinda that it relates to writing as a medium vs. speaking as a medium.

  3. That’s a double video game allusion, back to back no less. I’m so proud! Alas, I think that supports Madam’s introvert/ intellectual/ geek theory. :D

  4. FireTag permalink

    Very good comments, all, and you did answer my question.

    INTJ’s do lead in one case, however — when the “thinking, judging” parts of their personality conclude it’s necessary for their overall purposes. It’s sort of like the classic Star Trek episode where Spock concludes an emotional outburst is required to save the crew of his shuttle.

  5. It’s sort of like the classic Star Trek episode where Spock concludes an emotional outburst is required to save the crew of his shuttle.

    Thus we prove Marcus’ comment to be a truism, for n = 1.

    • FireTag permalink

      Hey! I was a geek before there WAS an internet. :D

      And I had to execute my double pincer attacks with model tanks on a lounge floor at MIT on Saturday mornings.

  6. That’s ok, FireTag. We still love you :D I am one of those mutants that was proud to be in the 25% of women in engineering my freshman year at Cornell. Unfortunately, we were down to only 10% by the beginning of junior year :(

  7. INTJ mormon permalink

    What did you do to validate that most disaffected mormons are INTJs? I came across this site by googleing INTJ mormon. I find in interesting. I’m also an INTJ but still very devout. I don’t like the social aspect of church much but I like the doctrines and I am confident that god hears my prayers and is guiding me through my life.

    • Mary permalink

      I am an INFJ mormon and the two most influential people in my conversion 12 years ago at age 18 were INTJ mormons. One was a missionary, the other became my best friend. They are both married in the temple and very active. I hope to be able to share the gospel with a new INTJ friend of mine … not an easy task. He is just brilliant, and into some bad stuff… but his heart is beautiful. Thats what fasting is for. Also, my daughter is INTJ, I pray her testimony stays as strong & bright & true.

  8. re: INTJ mormon:

    I guess the google search pointed out Madam Curie’s commentary, so I guess I should just ask her to talk about her survey…but from what I noted, it was simply a convenience sample (so not necessarily random) of the kind of people who are likely to visit her site (which would tend to be those more on the disaffected side…but then of course, maybe disaffected Mormons who read blogs are not representative of disaffected Mormons in general.)

    In fact, it could say more about blogging than anything else, since Mormon Matters did a similar convenience study, and although there isn’t as much of a dominance of one over the rest…NT (including not just INTJs but everything xNTx) did edge out the others. Ns in general (xNxx) did showed out much better.

    Even disregarding that, I don’t think the idea is that if someone is INTJ, then they will be disaffected. I don’t think that was suggested. Rather, what I think was…out of a convenience sample of blogging disaffected Mormons (or even blogging devout Mormons), what personality type shows out? And the results leaned INTJ.

  9. I’d just like to point out that it isn’t just folks who came to my website that I am including… I sent out emails to friends and family, as well as through facebook, and we also had this linked on our family’s blog. So, I guess what you could say is that there are more INTJs who are internet-savvy and use email?

  10. I’m INTJ. Stopped believing in God and the Mormon Church when I was 16; it just wasn’t rational. And my mind kept going through hypothetical scenarios, trying to figure out why “sins” were sins. And it just didn’t add up. So I guess I am (one) example of an INTJ ex-mormon.

  11. Gaylen K. Cardwell permalink

    Recently, because of some research and writing I’ve been doing, I revisited my own INTJ personality type. Just reviewing the research about why and what INTJs are about. As part of that research, I came across the notion that INTJs are the least likely type to have a belief in god or a higher power. That was interesting to me because I am a devout Mormon. That said, my faith has not come easy for me. A short background.

    Ever since I can remember, I’ve been argumentative and never ever believed anything just because someone said so. That included leaders of the Mormon Church. Without citing authority, Brigham Young, the 2nd President of the Church wanted the members to not believe just because they were told to; but gain their testimony through study and prayer. During my late teenage years, for a whole host of reasons, I put that to the test and have continued to do so for over 40 years. I have read the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price dozens of times. I have spent many hours in prayer, listening for spiritual guidance and the “word of truth.” As an INTJ who has done his home work, who has studied the history of the Church, read the biographies of its leaders and tested for myself the principles taught by the Church, I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the Mormon Church makes sense to me.

    I am an off-chart-INTJ who believes in God. I believe in Jesus Christ and that there are living prophets (just like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses or Abraham) on the earth today. I believe the creation story is Readers Digest version of what God did; not how He did it. I’ve worked in world manufacturing businesses and can’t hardly we believe if God told us how the earth was created that any of us, no matter how smart we think we are, would come close to understanding its complexity, organization or processes. I am convinced that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the glue that overcomes the 2nd law of thermodynamics and holds the universe together–it is literally the energy that keeps all things from disintegrating into utter chaos. In addition, that same atonement is as personal to me as the love of my wife and helps to make sense of the craziness in this world and lets me know that when it’s all said and done, life is worth it and that there will be justice and appropriate mercy.

    Thank you to all who read this. I just wanted all you INTJs out there to know there is at least one of out there who has gotten past my own weak logic to what I believe is higher level. Our five senses and our puny brains are only the beginning of really wonderful insights into the mysteries of the universe. All truth, whether religious, scientific, social, political, will one day merge into one great whole. I believe that.

    Gaylen K. Cardwell

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