So the founder of Mormon Stories has been excommunicated. This should be no surprise I suppose and its not as if I'm not very well familiar with how the rules and culture of the LDS church work. But it makes me sad. I'm not sad about it because I was a huge fan of listening to his podcasts. Honestly, his podcasts are very long (3-5 hours per subject is not unusual) and I rarely have time for them. I couldn't say I was a follower of him in any particular way, though I think he may have been more careful to be accurate in what he said than some other podcasts I did have time to listen to. I live in the same town as he does, but we've never met. It's sad because community is something horrible to lose.
Recently, the local Bishop stopped by to ask if we still didn't want any contact from the church. The funny thing was we had never actually said that (we said we wanted no proselytizing contact, which is a very different request), and showing up at our door step uninvited while believing that we didn't want contact is kind of inherently rude. As he left he said we would be welcome back. And in a way I'm sure he meant it. If we would be willing to never express any disagreement, be willing to look like everyone else, silently endure lessons and official church materials that presented often in an insulting and infuriating way, and be willing to be subjected to emotionally traumatic discipline whenever someone spread a rumor about us then sure we'd be welcome back. These are the same people who told my wife that she couldn't conduct the music in Relief Society while wearing pants because she couldn't represent Jesus while wearing them. Sure, we'd be welcome back in a sense. If we openly discussed our opinions and explained why certain historical teachings were actually incorrect or didn't express the love of God appropriately we'd certainly be excommunicated as well. Silence, except in private consultations with priesthood leaders who probably aren't interested or knowledgeable in the subjects at hand, is the price of admission if you have a problem. That is unless you just get lucky and live somewhere the culture is different, then all bets are off. As it was, I could hardly discuss basic biblical translation scholarship without scandalizing my home teacher.
Some parts of me miss having a "ward family." There were times in my life the social support structure of the LDS church was very helpful and healthy for me. There were times it was the only place outside of my family I could go and feel welcome and accepted. As wonderful and as healthy as the social situation is in our new church, just like having a new child can never really replace one who has died gaining a new church family can't really replace one that fails to love or accept you.
So yes, some parts of me miss the emotional security that a healthy relationship with a ward can provide. Some parts of me miss feeling like I fit in with one of the only social groups I remained attached to through out my whole life. Caring enough about truth and love enough to leave wasn't without cost. And its not as if going back would ever truly be an option. I value the truth too much and I value the more expansive view of the Love of Christ that I can find outside of the LDS church too much to ever be willing to suffer in silence again. If I wasn't silent, I would be treated like John Dehlin was treated.
That doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt.