Saturday, February 18, 2012
Owning My Mormonism
I recently watched an address that Joanna Brooks did for a Mormon Stories conference in June. Here it is in its entirety:
I really like Joanna Brooks. She is an unorthodox Mormon and speaks to me and my views on many things in Mormonism.
Toward the end of her talk she says the following:
"Belong. Behave. Believe, in that order. It's not "correlate or die." It's not that if you believe you get to belong. It's not that if you stop behaving we may not claim you... It is belong first. Claim your identity. Claim this community. Show up and put in the work, and we will claim you, and good consequences will follow. Belong. Mormonism is a religious tradition that emphasizes belonging. We are a tradition with a theology bold enough to define eternity as a state of mutual belonging...to one's ancestors, to one's beloved, and to one's descendants. We are a tradition with a history distinctive enough to foster something miraculous: a modern form of people-hood. Belonging.
"And yet, in some spaces and in some moments we've seen an incredible brittleness creep into that sense of belonging; a willingness to disown or revoke just because one of our own turns out to be liberal or gay or a non-literal believer or an atheist or an intellectually curious soul. That's not the Mormonism my grandmothers handed down to me.
"Perhaps you've come some long miles alone. Perhaps you have been silent. Perhaps you have felt disappointed, sad, angry, afraid, frustrated, unworthy to belong. Surely there is a place in the Mormon story for all of us.
"As healing as it was for me to hear someone like John Dehlin say..., 'I hear you. I recognize you. I claim you,' let me say the same to you, too. ...If you identify as a Mormon, I hear you. I recognize you. I claim you. I claim you, gay or straight; liberal or conservative; white, black, brown, perfect, imperfect, active, less-active, post, present, literal, non-literal, agnostic, atheistic - your story matters. You belong.
We are Mormons. We may be uncorrelated, but we are still Mormons. We are open. We are open to each other. We are open to difference. We are open to the beautiful and the difficult facts of our Mormon history, and we are open to the potential of Mormonism is the 21st century. Let's see what beauty we can make of our Mormon identity together."
I love this thought. As I've thought about how my excommunication has affected me, I have realized that nothing will stop me from being Mormon. It is too deep in my blood. No matter what my relationship is to the LDS Church and what choices I have made or will make in regard to it, I will always be Mormon, and I proudly claim that title.
I think I'll have more to say on this subject at a later time, but I just wanted to post the preceding thoughts now while they are still fresh in my head.