This is an idea aimed solely at my readership who have an LDS background, but who have questions and concerns about the faith. I don't mean to exclude anyone, but if you read through the following, you'll understand...
This idea all started a year or so back, when I read about a personality test which was conducted by Bob McCue on those who had left the LDS (Mormon) faith.
I have collected data in the post-Mormon community online that indicates that certain Meyers-Briggs personality types are more likely to question their religious beliefs than others. Particularly, those who are introverted (as opposed to extroverted); intuitive (as opposed to sensing); and thinking (as opposed to feeling) are more likely to seriously question Mormonism. My data sample size and the manner in which it was collected, however, were such that these conclusions are tentative at best. I am in the process of preparing a larger and more reliable survey that will address the same issue.
In my experience in the past couple of years with people similar to myself, who feel a need to question, I would have to say I have found that to be true.
I've read a couple of blog posts lately as well, touching on the topic of sociality within Mormon communities. Mormon communities are just interesting. People tend to be categorized as member vs. non-member. If your neighbor is a non-member, you are wary of them, but will reach out to them as a way to attract them to the faith. If they're members however, you can socialize with them, but always need to be on guard that you're Sunday face is on. Heaven forbid people discover that you're not perfect.
I'll be the first to admit that the above is somewhat generalized, and there are various nuances to the culture surrounding that, but moving from a non-Mormon community to a very Mormon community in the last decade, that has been my observation.
For someone who questions the faith, or may not be as faithful in following it, you run into a couple of problems.
You don't really fit in with the 'Mormon Community' any more, and even if you do, things change. Mrs Koda and I have become 'projects' for various neighbors over the last couple of years, and it's been both annoying and down right insulting.
You don't really have any non-Mormon friends, since you have forgotten how to relate to them. This is of course more of a problem in neighborhoods with a high percentage of active Mormons.
You may not have the best social skill-set either since Mormonism tends not to promote very close relationships with other members.
Add to the fact too, that if you're like me, you're kind of an introvert, and getting out and meeting new people is really hard.
Some of us have supportive spouses, but many don't.
In many cases extended family either disown, or else rally around to stage interventions and similar crap which does more harm than good. Neither option is very pleasant.
In my case I'm lucky. I have a supportive wife, a number of awesome non-Mormons whom I work with, and joining a tri-club last year has helped tremendously as well. I feel like I belong somewhere and can associate with normal people. Mrs Koda however spends most of her life at home with the Koda clan, and views both myself and my tri-buddies with a large degree of suspicion (We're not exactly normal, so I guess it's deserved!!)
So I've been concerned about her, and about others who aren't so lucky, especially stay-at-home moms and others who don't have a large network of non-mormons to turn to...
So, here's my idea...
I was thinking about forming a group that could get together and form some good solid relationships. Get to know new people, and hopefully help each other through the rough times. I don't want it to turn into a Mormon bashing group, and in fact, I think the less we discuss Mormonism the better. Just a group of people with a similar cultural background, who would like the opportunity to meet each other and be themselves in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
Alright, here's the plan...
First, I'm not going to post anything online about any meetings. Many of us are a little paranoid about those in our neighborhoods, families and wards finding out that we're struggling with Mormonism. If you want in, leave a comment and I'll find a way to get hold of you so we can arrange something. If you'd rather not even leave a comment, just shoot me an email to Koda at UrbanKoda dot Com. I'll keep your privacy and anonymity in the highest regard, since I know how sensitive all of this can be.
Second, I'm South African, and we have a thing we do down there called a Bring & Braai (Pronounced bry). A braai is basically a BBQ. The idea is you bring meat for you and your family, and a side of some sort - Kind of like a potluck, except you cook the meat at the party - let's the men be men and the ladies have a chance to chat, unless of course the ladies would prefer to handle the cremation of the meat themselves.
I'm willing to host an event like this at my home in Northern Davis county (Utah), but since there may be a higher concentration of my readers in Salt Lake and Utah counties, we could try and do it at a park down there as well.
I've also got 5 kids, ranging in age from 9 down to 1. So this will be a very family friendly type event.
For my readers not in Utah, I'd encourage you to try and get something like this going in your area.
Anyway, so if you're interested... Let me know if you would like to be involved, and where you would be willing to meet, and we can take it from there.