Some questions I've pondered and thought I'd share for introspections sake. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. There is only what works for you and what you want out of life. What answers do you arrive at?
I've pondered the same questions. I don't have the answer. It's nice to interact with folks who have the same background though. (Sing the theme song to "Cheers" here).
I like that thought Lapsed. I too, still feel the need to interact with the "Cheers" crowd.
I for one find it interesting that you see JW's as insignificant, because I for one do not. Not only do they have some of the same patters of Mormonism controlling your behaviors, actions, and thoughts, but they also forbid their own members from associating with former members except for immediate family and ones within their household. Having talked to other teachers being an education student, I was told about how whenever they have a JW child in their class their parents have to try to fuck up celebrations of holidays and birthday parties until it gets to the point where the child just has to be sent out of the classroom during those times.
I think maybe your recovery from Mormonism as well as many others may be difficult due to the negative effects it has had on your life in the past. If I recall from your exit story correctly, you and your wife had put off education and making efforts to become more financially secure in order to fulfill a social pressure from those you knew in the church. This could make it hard to recover, especially if either of you are at a point of your lives where you feel having done things differently in the past would have created a much more desirable present.
Not to brag, but my story was a bit different. I was pretty much a jack-mormon with a true testimony from the day I started. I still used foul language, I never planned on getting married and having my own children except with the case of single parent adoption. This could also have to do with the fact that I was gay but didn't know it so never had any real desire to get married in the first place.
However, for me I still remember going years with cognitive dissonance, feeling guilty for sexual and other desires beyond my control. Such as wanting to dump the idea of marriage sealing yet adopt a child anyway someday who would never have the opportunity to be sealed to a forever family, which was in complete conflict with the church teachings. Even though my desires were to parent as a single parent, I also found that forbidding gay couples to adopt children when it has been proven that for one the family in which a child is raised has nothing to do with what sexual orientation they will be, and that it has also been proven that gays can raise children just as well as straight people. I guess I am glad that I got out before it was too late. For me my career goals to be a teacher have not changed at all, but yet educating kids with a more liberal ideology takes much pressure. I have just started mentoring and tutoring middle school children here in Charleston and find it to be one of the most rewarding and helpful projects I have done in years. I still care about helping others see the truth, but that obsession has died out a little bit as time went on. As I had stated in a previous post, as great as leaving Mormonism feels, we all learn eventually that we need to move on with our lives and some of our problems we had while in the church are still there even when we are out, so there is a feeling of coming down to earth after awhile.
If someone who has been out of the church for say like 5-10 years still has the anger and obsession of someone who has been out of the church for less than a year, I would say there is some cause for concern. However, after a long period of time, just simply posting to a post-Mormon network and discussing the doctrinal issues with members who are trying to debate you is not something I see as an obsession.
With your case of having children and living in Utah, I also can see how you might have a bit of an ax to grind with the church as well. The Utah schools are run by a majority of Mormons who are trying to fuck up the curriculum of schools and limit secular education because it conflicts with their personal values that are based on their faith.
For your philosophical thoughts, only you can know the answer to those questions. Do you feel that simply by participating in Post-Mormon communities that you are limiting your authenticity? I do think Post-Mormon is only one avenue in one's journey though. They still need to discover many things for themselves. If you can find satisfaction in moving forward with your life while continuing with the community, that would be the most desirable option I think. The Ex-Mormons having a strong presence is what helps other like myself with our journeys. The reason they have testimony Sunday in the church is because of the strong psychological effect that it has. Many Mormons have their beliefs held together because of the large numbers of like minded believers like I did. However, when I saw the overwhelming large number of people on here and other places of people who had the same problems with the church as I had, it helped to convince me that TBMs simply do not get it, and many of them believe because of their preference to remain in the dark and not know any other opinions that differ from their own.
So I don't think these kinds of communities give the LDS church any kind of power over us whatsoever, because they are losing members partially because of it. Women didn't get equality by shutting up about sexism, blacks didn't get equal rights by shutting up about slavery and segregation, and Ex-Mormons won't get noticed by shutting up and allowing the church to make these bull shit rumors about them and how they just left because someone offended them or they wanted to look at porn, drink alcohol, an excuse to be gay, etc. No matter how much I am past my anger with the church, I will not allow the church to get away with labeling me this way and the church members going around saying this stuff without hearing about it from me.
That is why during spring break I'm planning on creating a response video to that one guy who thinks Ex-Mormons should just shut up and leave the church, because he made no mention of any actual reason that Ex-Mormons continue to speak out against the church.
Nathan, I agree with a lot of what you say, and especially like your statement that "Women didn't get equality by shutting up about sexism, blacks didn't get equal rights by shutting up about slavery and segregation,...."
I think it would be to my benefit to get rid of some of my anger against the church, but I never want to stop pointing out the evil they do when I can and when it will do some good. The same for most other churches. They will never seem insignificant as long as they do more evil than good.
I almost never read anything by religious apologists or argue with them, because I get too angry for my own good, and when I hear religion from my family, I get too depressed for my own good.
I'm reducing my participation in religious discussions as my anger subsides and hope that trend continues, but I think I will always want to stand-up for what I think is right when appropriate.
My question wasn't to dismiss the real harm done by Mormonism, JW's or any religion, so much as an indicative question as to how much I have released Mormonism from being something I think about with any more regularity than I would think about JWs, Catholics or Islam, of which I do little. I didn't imply that you should become apathetic to religious injustices. By all means, stand up for what you feel is right, which I intend to continue doing. But at some point, my focuses broaden to those issues I can wield the most influence over with my local government representatives to encourage the passage or dismissal of those laws I agree or disagree with. As Steven Hassan well recognized and observed, you rarely accomplish anything arguing directly with true believers. It's like trying to teach a pig to sing, you frustrate yourself and annoy the pig. That was more or less where I was going with the question for myself. You are welcome to your own interpretations though.