Sunday in Outer Blogness: They did it edition!

Yes, they did it. They excommunicated Kate Kelly. For asking questions and for her “tone”. And perhaps John Dehlin will be next. They even have this helpful “steadying the Ark” story from this week’s Gospel Doctrine lesson to back the leaders up on this, and Jesus isn’t as helpful as one might hope for the downtrodden.

The amazing thing is to see people blaming Kate Kelly. Because maybe if she’d groveled a bit and promised to sit silently in the back of the chapel for the rest of her life instead of insisting on this crazy self-respect thing, then she wouldn’t have cruelly embarrassed the church by making it excommunicate her. Fortunately someone wrote a poem about that idea, here’s a taste:

If only she had been more meek

If only she had been more bold

If only her tactics had been this

If only her strategy had been that

If only she had changed the way she thinks

If only she had changed the way she feels

If only she had become a unicorn

And it’s not the only one.

To me it seems astonishing that the CoJCoL-dS can choose to do something completely rotten and stupid, and yet when the church looks bad for doing it, that is somehow magically everyone else’s fault. (And the farce that the leaders welcome your questions is just embarrassing.)

But that’s the way it works: If you believe the church is perfect, then if something goes badly for the church, then it must on principle be someone else’s fault. Basically if you are capable of holding in your head the idea that the leaders of the church are wrong on some particular issue that you can name, then the church would like to direct you to the exit door. They have enough members who will believe the church leaders are right no matter what (and that option has its selling points), so you are expendable — and, really, it’s better if you’d hit the road and avoid giving any ideas to the obedient members.

I was going to say that accountability is just for the young women (and this leadership chart was starting to look pretty accurate), when — in a surprise move — the actual “prophets, seers, and revelators” who are theoretically leading the CoJCoL-dS actually released a statement (obliquely) making reference to the issue at hand! So many people have analysed it.

Meanwhile, the problems persist, unaddressed by those who could do something.

Even if the magic is not real, and leaving and ends up improving your life in the long run, excommunication can be a horrible experience, and the “love” rhetoric adds insult to injury. The church has incredible power to define sins that can destroy people’s lives.

Now, aren’t there other things going on out there? Some mishies committed a crime and signed their names to it. Some more scripture study. Here’s a simple idea for bringing power, water and shade to Navajo country (and elsewhere). More about the life of the real-life gay mishie who performed in the Book of Mormon. Marriage equality returns to Utah. And some very positive experiences bringing a girlfriend home to meet the Mormon folks:

At one point she honestly said, “We were really nervous to meet Leigh but then again we are always nervous when you girls bring anyone home.” (The “anyone” she meant were the boyfriends and son-in-laws that my sisters have brought home over the years.) It was nice that she was not separating my homo relationship from my sisters hetero relationships.

And don’t forget the Sunstone Symposium is coming up! I can’t attend myself, but I spent my afternoon preparing my MAA Books ad for the program (and I’m still not done, grr…). If anyone here is going, please mention it in the comments!

chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

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24 Responses

  1. Holly says:

    it seems astonishing that the CoJCoL-dS can choose to do something completely rotten and stupid, and yet when the church looks bad for doing it, that is somehow magically everyone else’s fault. (And the farce that the leaders welcome your questions is just embarrassing.)

    Yes, yes.

    It’s maddening but not surprising that they can’t see how this looks to everyone but the few million people who are as obedient as the cojcolds wants everyone to be. But to the millions who left, and the tens or hundreds of millions more who have never been Mormon but just see a bunch of old men treating a young, faithful woman so badly….. Well, it looks really bad.

    As Shit Mormons Say tweeted, ‘The giant sucking sound you hear is the $50 million dollar “I’m a Mormon” campaign being flushed down the toilet.’

    No kidding.

  2. visitor says:

    It would be interesting to know how many of the “I Am Mormon” people are still Mormon today. Or will be in 5 and 10 years.

    As for how this all reads for non-Mormons, think the Michael Moore doc Roger in and Me only a whole lot meaner and without any laughs.

  3. chanson says:

    @1 & @2 So true.

    One of the weird things about that whole “I’m a Mormon” campaign is that the primary message they were trying to send is that they value diversity — yet that’s almost exactly the opposite of the value-added that the CoCJoL-dS actually offers to its members (i.e. the comfort of authoritarian-directed conformity).

    If they’re going to try to improve their image with a publicity campaign, you’d think they could come up with a positive point to highlight that isn’t in such direct conflict with what the organization actually represents.

  4. chanson says:

    Hey, did you guys see this 5 reasons not to leave Mormonism that is making the rounds?

    Just go read the 5 bullet points, and when you’re done head-desking, come back.

    Done?

    I would respond by saying that it’s true that those aren’t good reasons to leave. Luckly — in reality universe — those aren’t the reasons people are leaving!

    Allow me to present 5 good reasons to leave the church:

    1. It is actually a for-profit corporation that is hoovering up all of your money and time in exchange for very dubious benefits.
    2. It encourages its members to fervently believe things which are obviously demonstrably false. And I’m not just talking about ancient history here — it’s also the misrepresentation of what OW did at conference, the details surrounding the excommunications, making stuff up about why people leave the church (as illustrated in the linked article), etc., etc.
    3. It encourages people to venerate (as the greatest moral examples) these leaders who have so little integrity that it cannot be detected even with an electron microscope.

    There are probably at least two more, but I think that’s sufficient.

  5. Holly says:

    i’m done head-desking, but it still hurts.

    I can think of a few more reasons to leave the church:

    4. It not only encourages members to fervently believe things which are obviously demonstrably false, it encourages them to declare that they know of a surety, that these false things are true. In other words, it encourages its members to behave in a way that makes integrity impossible.
    5. As Kate keeps pointing out, when challenged, it behaves as a classic abuser, insisting that punishment is an expression of “love” done for the benefit of the one being punished and to the sorrow of the punisher.
    6. It pits loved ones against each other and, although it insists that people should not shun their families if they disagree with the church, models shunning and thus encourages its members to do the same.

    I bet we could come up with ten good reasons to leave if we worked at it.

    Though I think that #2 in your list is actually sufficient.

  6. aerin says:

    #4 chanson – to play the devil’s advocate for your point 1 – there are many people who are perfectly comfortable with the benefits they get from tithing and the accounting in general conference. They see benefits like the bishop’s storehouse as part of the tithing bargain – and even if they don’t have to use it themselves often, are happy to contribute.

    Specifically, I’m thinking of people like my Dad here, who probably feels like he gets more from church than he puts in. My point is, the benefits are in the eye of the beholder. What I consider to be reasonable benefits are different than other people.

    And the community benefits can’t be overlooked – for many people, having someone to help move is an amazing benefit – having someone to call when a loved one is in the hospital. Are there more efficient ways to distribute the benefits? Yes. Are there better organizations out there for these benefits (IMO yes). So it’s not really an argument to stay or leave either way.

    With that said – if the argument is about staying or leaving – what about the opportunities one can get from leaving?

    The original post talks about regret late in life – there are so many things I have done in my life and been able to do because I am no longer an active LDS woman. Sure, the “I’m a Mormon” campaign talked about women working, surfing, etc. but the reality is that the opportunities for education and career for LDS women are limited (in some parts of the community very limited). Women are discouraged from a young age to pursue any career that could impact marriage and motherhood (Families have been known to say they won’t pay for college for daughters as the education would be “wasted” when they get married).

    Personally, I have made many choices throughout my life that were good (perhaps the right) choices for me and my family – because I took in all the evidence to make my decision – not simply base it on guidance from LDS leadership/manuals, etc..

    Truthfully, I haven’t regret having my name removed all those years ago – and life is good. (Well, maybe I’ve regret that I can’t remove my name [again] in protest over different actions that the corporation has taken over the years [prop 8, etc.]).

  7. Holly says:

    If they’re going to try to improve their image with a publicity campaign, you’d think they could come up with a positive point to highlight that isn’t in such direct conflict with what the organization actually represents.

    But doesn’t everyone already know about all the virtues that are congruent with the church’s image and goals? You know, the whole clean-cut, cheerful, family-focused emphasis on “traditional values” and sorta liking Jesus when it’s convenient?

    Unfortunately for the church, the appeal of those is pretty limited these days. If they’re going to grow, they need to appeal to someone else–hence the attempt to convince everyone else and themselves that they’re actually hip and diverse.

  8. Parker says:

    I agree with him–none of those reasons are particularly good reasons for leaving. But I confess, I am guilty of them all. I am offended by things that the LDS Church does. I have no idea what is doctrine anymore. The Church definitely demands more than I am willing to give. I just have no inclination to be consumed by an institution anymore. I am affected by anti-Mormon literature, especially the ideologues who go to such great lengths to defend the faith. And of course I want to sin. If sin wasn’t appealing then there would be no devil and god would cease to be god.

  9. Holly says:

    And of course I want to sin. If sin wasn’t appealing then there would be no devil and god would cease to be god.

    Good point. One of my problems before I left became the fact that the things I had done that the church considered “sins” were things I could not bring myself to be sorry for. The things I wanted to repent of or undo weren’t sins, just mistakes. But my “sins”? they were conscious, deliberate choices that seemed most likely to bring me happiness and/or help me deal with the challenges of my life, and I could not wish them undone, even when they didn’t work out like I had expected.

  10. Parker says:

    It is interesting to the extent that sin exists by definition. Murder is a sin, unless it isn’t; polygamy is an on-again, of-again sin, private thoughts become sins only when aired publicly (which, pleases me, because I always had a problem with that lusting thing–not with the practice, mind you, but purely from an academic perspective. I mean, as good as thinking about it may be, it just doesn’t compare with the real thing.).

    It is good that we have a group of men who are above all sin, who can provide us weak ones with a living iron rod so that we can successfully negotiate that treacherous path of what is wrong today may be perfectly acceptable tomorrow.

  11. Alan says:

    @6

    Women are discouraged from a young age to pursue any career that could impact marriage and motherhood

    According to this official church video, and one line from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (a founder of Exponent II), there’s a “powerful tradition” in the Church to educate women. Ulrich is the one who came up with the oft-repeated phrase “well-behaved women seldom make history.”

    Mormonism has these contradictions, where the most conservative to the most radical look to the Church’s “traditions” to try to imagine a better future. Feminists look to J. Smith saying that women would be ordained, public relations looks to B. Young to say that black men would eventually be ordained. But this appeal to Mormon tradition and especially those upheld as “prophets” is what creates and maintains the current mess.

  12. Parker says:

    Every organization has policy, but it is difficult to think of *policy* in the same way in a Church that claims direction from Jesus Himself. I simply have a difficult time imagining Jesus saying to his men on earth, “My new policy is young men can now go on missions at age 18. Also, I am changing My policy on disciplinary councils–let the locals handle it exclusively.”

    What I can imagine is that since doctrine itself has become oblique, with the only absolutely that doctrine never changes, it makes life simpler to have policy instead. So it wasn’t doctrine, but policy . . . and you can fill in the blank with any number of changes in what at one time were taught as doctrine. In time there may need to be another change in the BofM, so that we have the policy of Christ rather than the doctrine of Christ.

  13. Holly says:

    as Gospel Doctrine for the Godless joked recently, “What’s the difference between true Mormon doctrine and false Mormon doctrine? About 40 years.”
    http://godlessdoctrine.blogspot.com/2014/06/ot-lesson-23.html

  14. Holly says:

    I really like the analysis offered by Neil J. Young on the HuffPo Religion blog:

    In asking for total equality in the church through the granting of priesthood for Mormon women, Kelly’s movement has struck at the heart of Mormon theology and its particular brand of patriarchy which recognizes male headship in the church and the family as essential elements for salvation. Women secure their exaltation to the Celestial Kingdom, the highest realm of the Mormon afterlife, through a temple marriage to a priesthood-holding man. If LDS women could hold the priesthood themselves, it would bisect the question of salvation from the obligation of marriage, the most fundamental sacrament of Mormonism.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neil-j-young/kate-kelly-the-lds-church_b_5547809.html

  15. Alan says:

    @14

    I don’t agree with the “bisecting salvation from marriage” bit, or at least, I don’t see how it’s the case. According to LDS theology, men also need women for exaltation, because LDS marriage is seen as a “partnership of equals”/”two halves of a whole”/whatnot. Logically, women could be ordained, and marriage still required. The only difference would be that there would no longer be a unidirectional power flow from men to women….both halves would actually meet in the middle. (An historical example of this set-up is Pala period Tantric Buddhism…women and men were both religious leaders, but they still “needed” each other for enlightenment.) If the church then changes this to something gender-neutral, it won’t have to worry about the issue for another 50 years.

  16. Holly says:

    Alan.

    I have said repeatedly that I am unwilling to interact with you.

    Don’t respond to anything I post.

    I don’t care if I say the sky is green and grass is blue.

    Just ignore it, as I ignore you.

  17. Alan says:

    @Neil J. Young’s argument, then.

    Is participating on this site and viewing my name and text as a “taint” to routinely and indefinitely ignore easier for you than sending me an email and working through our differences? I am willing to give the latter a try. Even if your first email is a venting of how stupid and annoying you find me. Because, for me, participating on this site and viewing your name and text as a “taint” to routinely ignore is not easier, because of how it breaks up the reading of conversations.

  18. Holly says:

    No, Alan.

    You don’t even comment on things I post.

    I do not want to interact with you.

    I have made this clear, and you have been told not to interact with me.

    Don’t respond to things I post. Don’t.

    I don’t care if you find it inconvenient. Suck it up and deal with it. I don’t want to be in conversation with you.

  19. Holly says:

    This is the last thing I’m going to say to you.

    All you have to do is muster some will power.

    You left a comment on this thread http://mainstreetplaza.com/2014/06/22/sunday-in-outer-blogness-lets-talk-about-excommunication-edition/
    wondering “what is the difference b/w the feminism of Kelly, and that of, say, Joanna Brooks.”

    I actually have an answer for that. But I just didn’t offer my idea, because I don’t want to be in a conversation with you.

    Return the favor.

  20. Alan says:

    I actually have an answer for that. But I just didn’t offer my idea, because I don’t want to be in a conversation with you.

    Return the favor.

    Well, you not responding to me is not a “favor” to me, so therefore me not responding to you cannot be a “returned favor.” (As I said before, my only issue with you is when you’re rude — so if you cannot help being rude, which I don’t think is true, only then would I consider it a favor.) On the subject of will power, you could muster some to aim to work through resolving [notice all the qualifiers, haha] whatever issues between us. My email is always open.

  21. Holly says:

    Chanson, will you please do something about this? You told me you would intervene if Alan ever insisted on addressing me.

    His claim that I somehow owe it to him to engage with him because it’s inconvenient for him to avoid me is a classic response of stalkers to things like restraining orders.

    I have asked him not to engage with me. I consider his refusal to honor that request harassment. Please see that it stops.

  22. chanson says:

    Chanson, will you please do something about this? You told me you would intervene if Alan ever insisted on addressing me.

    Sorry, I have been away from my computer all day.

    Alan, please do not respond to Holly’s comments. Do not even remark on points that she makes. We had a discussion about this earlier, and, as I recall, the agreement was the two of you will not respond to each other’s comments here at Main Street Plaza.

  23. Alan says:

    Do not even remark on points that she makes.

    Geez, she’s such a bully. I was responding to the content of Neil J. Young’s argument in the context of an ongoing conversation here about Ordain Women. I can see how Holly might claim ownership over bringing the article forward for discussion here, but I don’t see how she can claim ownership over discussing it and related topics. That is to ask, for future reference, if someone responds, and I respond to that someone, is that okay, or do I simply get booted from any and every conversation that Holly decides to participate in? For the record, I was neither soliciting a response from her, nor expecting one, nor even addressing her words. So, I see this situation as her choice to engage with me and play bully.

  24. chanson says:

    Geez, she’s such a bully.

    No, seriously, knock it off.

    You can feel free to comment on points by other people on a thread where she has also commented.

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