Thursday, January 11, 2007

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude, Changes in Vocabulary

This is a post I recently wrote for The Cultural Hall. Please leave comments over there.

I joined the Church at age 19, and it took me no time to learn Mormon vocabulary. By the time I left on my mission, no one could tell I wasn't born and raised in the Church. Recently, I've become interested in the reverse phenomenon. When a long-time member's Church vocabulary slowly begins to change, what alterations in their lives does this portend? What does it mean when "I know that God lives" changes to "I deeply believe that the universe was created by a Divine Intelligence?"
When "I know the Book of Mormon is true" changes to "I am convinced that living the principles taught in the Book of Mormon can lead to a fulfilling life?"
When "I know the Church is true" changes to "I have found joy and happiness in participating in the Church organization?"

(Now, I haven't read all of Fowler's Stages, only a synopsis.) So some of you may enlighten me: Did Fowler include a change in vocabulary as signifying entry into a different stage of belief? I'm postulating that all those who examine their faith deeply will begin to express themselves rather differently than with the standard Mormon usage. This includes those who will deepen their faith in the principles of the restored gospel as well as those who will eventually leave or who will come to consider themselves NOM's.

Mormon vocabulary is so distinctive it seems impossible to make much of a change without being noticed in the community. So I have some questions for the readers of this blog.
1. As your beliefs shifted, did you struggle with your use of Mormon language?
2. Did others notice a change in your vocabulary? Did this make you "suspect" in the eyes of traditional Mormons?
3. Have you noticed other Mormons who have transformed their vocabulary away from "Mormonspeak?" Does this generally portend changes in their religious affiliation?
4. What are some specific examples you've heard, read, or changed to? (For example, I no longer begin personal prayers with the phrase, "Dear Heavenly Father.")

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