Utah Valley University President Matthew S. Holland said Tuesday that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are learning to swim in contemporary religion’s mainstream during what he referred to as “the post-Mormon moment.”
“It’s one thing to think about loving others and getting along with people from different faith perspectives when you are insular and existing outside the main body of faith,” Holland told a classroom full of students and professors during his appearance as a guest lecturer for UVU’s special “Mormonism in the American Experience” class.
“But those questions,” he continued, “become very real, very challenging when you are suddenly in the mainstream and part of a society in which we interact more regularly and are more connected globally.”
And that is precisely where Holland believes Mormonism is as a result of the so-called “Mormon moment,” which he said consisted of an extraordinary set of situations and circumstances — from the two presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney to “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway to the LDS Church’s own “I’m a Mormon” media campaign — that put the church and its members squarely within the bright light of intense media scrutiny.
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Whether or not one likes the term “post-Mormon moment”, Holland is pointing to something real, I think: a heightened visibility of the LDS Church which results in greater integration within American mainstream society. This is in a sense becoming more integral: integral to the mainstream society, and so long as that results in identification with positive cultural values then that is a sign of progress.
But it is not the same as saying Mormons are truly becoming more Integral — coming to a sense of their own identity which transcends their “ethnocentric” identification with their religious subculture or society at large. A more Integral Mormonism could be seen by signs such as more Mormons moving past the fundamentalism which locks their doctrine or beginning to challenge the identification of Mormon culture with American corporate values. More Mormons will have to become more postmodern before they can become post-postmodern. Will we ever see LDS missionaries in tie-dye T-shirts and Birkenstocks, or Mormon theologians leading the World Council of Churches? Will it be commonplace for Mormon scholars to be leading the vanguard in integral interdisciplinary studies?
I’m sure there are signs of these things happening, but I don’t see the media reporting on them. Instead they are talking about something routine, a sect becoming more socially acceptable. Once we see the LDS Church and its leadership becoming more Green and Teal, then we can start talking about a real “post-Mormon moment”.