I know most of you are not Mormon, nor do most of you live in dominant Mormon communities like I do here in Utah, so let me explain what the first weekend of October and the first weekend of April is like on Facebook for those of us who do. Why? Because no matter where you live, the dynamics of community and community interaction are so fascinating to explore, and no matter which specific dynamics we use as examples, everyone can pair them up next to different examples in their own lives.
Now, before I start… I am not Mormon. And I will tell you right now, this is not an anti-Mormon essay by any stretch. Most of my family and many of my friends are active Mormons and I love them to death. They are some of my favorite people in the world. They are good people. And, I really don’t care if you (or anyone) chooses to be a Mormon or not.
No, this post is not for or against any group of people. It’s simply a discussion of the strange dynamics that I have been watching this past week.
The Mormons have a symposium every six months called General Conference. It’s broadcast and translated internationally over the course of two days. The entire thing is 10 hours of total watching time, during which many of the leaders of the Mormon church give treatises and talks ranging on any variety of topics, from making sure you are serving others, to paying 10% of your gross income to the church, to the mandate of proclaiming your beliefs to all, to the little things you should be doing day in and day out to live life the way you ought.
Some people find conference to be beautiful, uplifting, poignant, rejuvenating. They feel bursts of excitement and motivation that carry them into the next six months with vigor. They feel strengthened and enlightened. They take notes and write essays on it. Conference is very important to them and their faith.
Others, and this is the camp I fell into when I used to be a Mormon, hate it. Ten hours watching old people say more or less the same things over and over was just too much twice a year. It’s really that simple. I had no problem with General Conference existing, or the strength and wisdom people gained from it, I just hated it and I hated the guilt I felt if I ever missed even one moment of it.
Now, back to Facebook, what happened last weekend, and these three Mormon truths.
1) People of the Mormon faith are taught that it is their job to share their beliefs with everyone in the entire world1. Every member a missionary!
2) People of the Mormon faith are taught that they should use their social networks and Internet platforms to share their beliefs with the entire world2.
3) People of the Mormon faith often are happy at the thought of their friends or family coming to believe that their church is true, and getting baptized into it (or coming back), and having everyone finally be on the same religious page.
And, alongside those three truths, these three exist about many ex-Mormons (like me).
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