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Ex-mormons should really get over their problems.

March 13, 2009

I was reading a post on Mormon Matters about how the Bloggernacle has become this unofficial church complaints department overrun with skeptical, unbelieving, and angry people, and you know what, I will concede one thing: Ex-Mormons should get over some of their anger with their problems.Now, I have different reasons than someone else might. See, when some faithful members approach it, they poison the well in their favor. Such as with this post:


“And I would say it takes a doctrinaire person indeed to focus on the thorns of a rose….”

Unless you happen to fall into a rosebush. I think then even you would probably say, “Darn these thorns” rather than “What beautiful flowers” while you were trying to extricate yourself. And if somebody said, “Hey, stop struggling and look at the beautiful flowers,” you might say, “Are you kidding? I’m caught in a rosebush, and you want me to look at flowers?!”

And that, unfortunately, is what’s happened to a lot of disaffected members and ex-members. For them the Church has become a rosebush they’ve fallen into, so they focus on the thorns instead of the flowers.

So, if I understand this person correctly, it seems that the idea is that ex-Mormons should get over their faultfinding with the church because instead they should look at the good that the church is. Instead of focusing on the thorns (which currently may entangle and prick them), they should stay and look at what good there is in the church.

(EDIT: This is like, the second or third time here I’ve completely misinterpreted the meaning of someone. See kuri’s first comment. BUT LET’S PRETEND that some other person wrote the comment with this intention, because if I reinterpret the comment now, then my post kinda falls apart.)

I don’t agree with this reasoning. While looking at the positive aspects of the church might be a nice thing to do, I don’t think Ex-Mormons and disaffected Mormons should move on for the church’s sake. No, I think they should begin to move on for their own sake.

I can say: if you want to raise faults with the church, then there isn’t anything I find wrong with this. So, ignoring faults and looking at the good side seems disingenuous.

However, when a person lets these wrongs and faults control his life, then he is allowing the church to continue to control his life. This isn’t healthy.

So, should ex-Mormons get “over” the church because the church is really a good thing and they are just being stupid to think that it isn’t? No; that’s a concession that some members might like people to make, but it is not yet warranted nor deserved (regardless of what the case may actually  be). No, ex-Mormons should strive to get “over” the church because they deserve better than to be controlled and emotionally hijacked.

It’s tough. It’s not something that people can just say in a day, “Ok, that’s it. I renounce everything and am gone.” People have friends and family who are still members. People see the actions that the church commits every day. People have INTERNALIZED a Mormon culture that lingers with them…That’s why it’s so ignorant to assume that people can “leave the church and leave it alone.” No, expect that people who leave the church will not leave it alone, because this is something that was (and is) central to their identity. It’ll take a lot of untangling and redefining to change that.

But in the end, we have to strive to not be entangled with the thorns that prick us.

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  1. “So, if I understand this person correctly, it seems that the idea is that ex-Mormons should get over their faultfinding with the church because instead they should look at the good that the church is. Instead of focusing on the thorns (which currently may entangle and prick them), they should stay and look at what good there is in the church.”

    That’s actually pretty much the opposite of what I meant. There are some “flowers” in the Church — it’s not all bad — but people who get tangled in the “thorns” aren’t going to waste time looking at them. They’re going to get themselves free of the thorns. Saying that someone caught in a bush should stop and smell the flowers would be silly. Once they’re untangled, maybe they can look at the bush with a different perspective and see the flowers as well as the thorns.

    Oh, and I’m not a faithful member anymore.

  2. Actually, the rosebush analogy is pretty good.

    But I’d take it a bit further. A lot of ex-Mormons I encounter are like a guy stuck in a rosebush thrashing around and wailing about the thorns.

    Me: “so get out of the bush.”

    Ex-Mo: “augh! Oww! These thorns are sooo annoying!”

    Me: “so get out of the bush.”

    Ex-Mo: “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m in pain here! Acknowledge my pain!”

    TBM (also stuck in the bush): “You just aren’t noticing all the beautiful flowers. Stop complaining and enjoy the beauty.”

    Ex-Mo: “Shut up you! These thorns hurt. Now one’s sticking in my armpit!”

    TBM: “you ought to quit complaining and be thankful that these thorns are here – they make the beauty of this bush so much more meaningful.”

    Me: “look, would you just get out of the damn bush…”

    Ex-Mo: “No! No! Nooo! Not until that TBM over there acknowledges the suckiness of this stupid bush!”

    TBM: “You just can’t hack it because your darkened mind can’t acknowledge beauty.”

    Me: “if you move that branch over there, you could get your arm loose….”

    Ex-Mo: “YOU’RE ON HIS SIDE! You don’t know what this feels like. You think I’m just whining, but this bush is really hurting me, you insensitive jerk!”

    TBM: “Crybaby.”

    Me: “Would you shut up and stop thrashing around.”

    Ex-Mo: “You all hate me! I’ll never forgive you all…”


    Fun times.

  3. Drat! This has not been the first time I’ve completely interpreted something waaaaay wrong.

    Thanks for explaining what you really meant, Kuri.

    I guess where I got hung up was that I realized that you were saying that it is unrealistic to expect people caught in rosebushes to smell the flowers because really they are going to try to get out of the thorms first.

    But I guess I read too much into the “unfortunately, that’s what happened to a lot of disaffected/ex-members” part. Instead of taking it to mean that it’s unfortunate that anyone should fall into thorny bushes, I somehow interpreted it to mean, “It’s unfortunate that they won’t just get out of the thorns and then smell the flowers.”

    I guess I need one of those False Apology Cards you had on your blog. I’ll take an “I’m sorry you misunderstood” one, please.

  4. YES, SETH, YES!


    o wait, i already do.

  5. Seth,
    That was awesome.

    No problem.

  6. I’ve never read a better summary than Seth’s. Great post, Andrew – and not just for inspiring Seth’s comment.

  7. Seth,

    That was awesome!

  8. Liz Emery permalink

    Thanks for posting this. I’m not ready to do either yet, but I appreciated this very much.

  9. scott permalink

    I speak as an exmormon. I get onto, and have met a few. Holy mother of god, I swear that so many of them are so freaking gullible, and crazed. Sweet Jezus!

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