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A rant on triumph

March 17, 2009

It seems that recently, I’ve been thrust into discussions where I have to discuss the popular ex-Mormon site Recovery from Mormonism. And in these discussions, I’ve made my position that I really don’t like the site…and it seems a bit whiny to me.

Some people, when they have heard me say things like this, have assumed it’s because I’m just another faithful member who is annoyed by ex-members…but this isn’t the case. I guess I should be flattered, but I don’t pretend to be anything like a faithful member.

But really, the reason I have this dislike (which I’d like to say is irrational because then I can feel bad about it and that’ll be that, but every time I check RfM just to see if it is, I remember anew) is because it seems like it’s all counterproductive. And some times, I have a similar dislike for anti-Mormons for the same reason. So I guess that’s what I can have in common with faithful members.

I think that when someone decides to do something, it should be well-considered. And when they get to doing it, it should be a *triumph*. If you’re going to do it, DO IT.

So, I mean, even though I would not be a missionary for the church unless some weird things happened in the near future (which, who knows, these weird things could happen and the Andrew S you all know and love on Irr (Dis)G could be replaced)…but I can recognize that when people commit to that task, if they do it with spirit and drive and motivation, that is an incredible thing. When people are at peace with the church or another church or an organization or their job, that is an incredible thing. If they aren’t at peace, if they aren’t happy, whatever, then I think that’s when they need to move away…and in this moving away, they should be seeking triumph.

So, when people leave the church, it should be a TRIUMPH. It should be a casting away of the chains of whatever oppressed or depressed or repressed you…and a searching of the self for what one wants to keep and what one wants to discard. And as this process continues (because it is a process)…one should see in the individual who leaves that he is progressing in his life…that he is happy with his decision and committed to it. He is not letting the old stuff control and hijack his emotions.

I know that this is hard…and I’m not saying that when people leave the church, they should “leave it alone.” Because I know too that leaving is not something done overnight. It involves family and friends…it involves a culture that one has been a part of for considerable amounts of time — something that formed the core of their being but which is now insufficient. How do you get over that? You don’t. It would be rebuking a part of yourself.

So I understand that people are angry. I understand that people are betrayed. And I want to sympathize with these people and let them tell their stories and share their pain! And I guess, for that purpose, sites like RfM are precisely triumphant sites.

…but then I come back to the planet earth, and I realize that when we share pain with others, we set an impression that is unfavorable. When people tell stereotypes of ex-Mormons, I want to say, “Oh, that isn’t so!” but the impression has been set. Others do not realize WHY people aren’t happy (protip: people aren’t happy because of the church…not because they left) but all they see is people who aren’t happy and they run with it and make their own stories up.

It is something I see over and over in my life, which makes me realize that we all must be stoic. We must be stronger than we really are, because appearances are critical

–I admit that I don’t even know what I’m doing right now. This very article is hypocritical. It is not triumphant; it is merely whining about whining.

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  1. Andrew – first of all thank you for your well thought out responses to my comment. I respect what you are saying, and to some extent, I partially agree.

    But this may also be an instance where we agree to disagree.

    What happened to Seth was wrong (see note later*). I was not at the conference, so I can’t defend what happened. I do know in the posts that I think I saw of Seth’s on rfm from that time, I personally tried to be fair and non-aggressive.

    I can’t speak for anyone else’s responses/behavior.

    *I think it is very easy to fall into a self vs. other paradigm in general; not just with the mormon faith/religion/culture. I think we discussed this in the MSP thread about narratives and motives. It’s unfortunate that some discussions and interactions devolve into blame and accusations. And former/ex-mormons are not the only people guilty of identifying “the other” as attacking them. I took a look at the anti-antimormon recovery site linked to by Runtu the other day. I think I can safely say mistakes were made (on both sides).

    My opinion is that (and what we may need to agree to disagree on) just because something works for you, or that you are in a certain place, doesn’t mean that it works for everyone else. Or that everyone else is in the same place.

    You (and others) may believe it’s important to focus on the positive, and on moving on (in triumph). You (or some people) may believe the perception of ex-mormons to current mormons is important, and that former mormons should be concerned about that appearance.

    My position is that not everyone feels that way – nor should they. Some people may have very good reasons for acting/feeling the way they do (including dwelling on the negative and even lashing out at various things). I don’t know/can’t know what they are. Not everyone wants to encourage a dialogue or has the same drive or motives that others do. Not everyone wants to be healthy – and what healthy is, and what acceptance is looks very different to many people.

    I think that leaves us where you (or others) don’t feel rfm is helpful, and I think it may be helpful for some people.

    Before I personally found rfm (and the related e-mail list) in 1999, I thought I was the only person who had left the mormon church. Well, I had cousins who had left the church, but no one outside of family. I thought my individual response and experience was unique.

    It was amazing to find out there were so many people who were just like me, or did have a similar journey. Our individual situations were very different. But we had one thing in common, we had decided to leave mormonism (for various reasons), and had to deal with the social fallout with leaving that culture. I still had many people whom I love/d who remained mormon – and I needed to find a good balance where I could be myself, but still love and respect them and their beliefs.

    Now, one could argue that just because I found that, doesn’t mean everyone will. And that may be the case.

    This comment is very long, and if you’ve made it this far, I appreciate it.

    I appreciate the efforts to understand former mormons and why they leave (without blaming or judging) like what Seth has done (and mormon stories).

    I think these tentative steps can only help in healing whatever divide there is – where some people (on both sides) may have behaved poorly (without respect). And to show that there are many different responses, options and opinions out there. And that there are many different types of current and former mormons out there.

  2. You’re right, of course. Really, I guess the most important part (that RfM does so well, as you mention) is to find out that you really aren’t alone in your decision…that there are others (who although the particulars can often be extremely different) like you.

    This was in general an unfair post. And a whiny one as well.

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