Disaffected, Disillusioned, Estranged Mormons: 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.