Yesterday a friend and coworker said something that left me taken back; it caught me off guard. We were talking about faith and religion and my friend said that I was not like other Mormons she has known. This seemed odd. I began wonder if somehow, because of my personal intellectual and spiritual interests, I was somehow less “Mormon” then others.

It gave me a chance to ponder my “Mormoness” and do some soul searching. After some careful thought I came up with what follows.

First of all I am proud of the classification Mormon. For a long time I wanted to be thought of by others as a Christian because my faith was not in Mormon, Joseph Smith, or any other person from the Book of Mormon or in the church’s hierarchy, but in Jesus Christ, the Savior and redeemer of the world. Now I feel good with considering myself, and even calling myself Mormon because it distinguishes me from other Christians, and helps me maintain my individuality and uniqueness in a sea of conformity, but still consider myself a Christian (I guess you can be a Mormon and Christian after all).

For some people that I do know and have known, they know that the Church is true and there is nothing else they worry about. Most other things become irrelevant outside, and they comfortably settle into whatever Mormon community is available to them interacting with nonmembers only in work and on a very limited basis as neighbors and members of whatever communities they live in.

Others could be considered ultra orthodox. Everything they do is in their minds the result of “official” pronouncements, either past or present, or opinion that has come from general authorities. They tend have a very closed, literal, interpretation of the scriptures, not taking the time to consider the wonder and beauty that is found in the symbolic, and esoteric ideas that present themselves on almost every page, and perhaps every verse.

Much depression, despondency, and even apostasy has resulted from Latter-day Saints taking commandments and standards that are good, and then adding a pharisaic, restrictive, and confining oral tradition, or hedge, that prevents a person from violating a covenant or commandment. Their zeal can transform homes into prisons, leaving more independent children believing that there is no other option then to escape at the first chance.

Then are those who in the words of Richard Bushman are interested in the heights and depths of the faith, its’ possibilities and ends. This group oddly enough feels liberated through keeping the commandments and making covenants with God. When you are around them their words and actions towards you and others causes your soul to expand during the time you are with them.

I think that my Mormoness is relatively fluid and that at different times of life I have been in each camp. Right now I am in some ways in the last category of the existential optimists and those who are content with simple, childlike, faith, with specklings of the ultra orthodox in such things as the word of wisdom and law of chastity, but not much else as far as that category goes.

What do you consider yourself? How would you describe your Mormoness, or non-Mormoness?


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