Sunday in Outer Blogness: Keeping the myth in Smythmas edition!
The awards season is off to a great start! We’ve got lots of great nominees for X-Mormon of the year (the voting will start this week), and nominations for the Brodies have begun!! This is your cue to review your favorite posts, etc. from 2014 and help them get a little extra recognition!
Meanwhile, life goes on in Mormondom. Parker has been leading an amusing discussion of Meg Stout’s series claiming Joseph Smith didn’t have sex with his plural wives, and Stout herself was kind enough to entertain us further this past week. But when it comes to real Mormon fun, you can’t beat the beard ban:
God and Christ are always depicted with beautiful beards and flowing, white locks of hair. There are clear pronouncements from general authorities that this is a potentially changeable product of current cultural trends.
Yet, despite all of this, LDS culture has shunned the beard. Temple workers cannot wear beards. Most General Authorities have clean shaven faces. BYU asks all young men to shave their faces, but allows mustaches. So rather than having a bunch of handsome, burly lumbersexuals at the Lordâ€™s University, we have a bunch of Michael Ceras running around. Thanks, beard ban. Thanks a lot.
The EJ&T project is still collecting all the weird commandments in the Old Testament even though the Mormon year of the OT is done. Godless Doctrine is kicking off the New Testament study with the burning questions of what evidence we have for Jesus’ existence and how to correctly spell it.
maybe Iâ€™m reading him wrong, but it seems to me that his shelf broke over realizing prophets are fallible (and not being able to deal with that until the Lego Movie gave him a way to contextualize), rather than realizing that yes, whether God-ordained or simply implemented by people, Mormonism is definitely a religion that has been on the wrong side on race, has attributed that wrongness to God, and canâ€™t tell the difference. Lookâ€¦whether made-up or historical, someone thought that race was a big enough deal to explicitly write into the Book of Mormon.
And these are not just things that happened in the past. Even today, people arenâ€™t sure whether the race essay actually denounces the ban itself as being racist (rather than just the explanations). You might think itâ€™s obvious, but again, on the polygamy essays, we have one point in favor of â€œtotally divinely inspired.â€ And itâ€™s not just race. Whether it is socially constructed or ordained by God, Mormonism is a place where heterosexism is claimed to be divinely inspired. I mean, in 2014, the highest profile excommunication was a woman who wanted the priesthood.
When you look at religion through this mythical lens it might help you see what those that still believe get from it. (Even if they are completely aware of it themselves.) Human beings love magic, it thrills us and makes us happy, you might have discovered how the trick was done, you might have seen the man behind the curtain. But guess what, that doesnâ€™t mean that the magic needs to be lost at all. Its your choice to keep what works for you and discard what doesnâ€™t.
So if you’re disappointed to learn about Joseph Smith’s polygamy but you still want to revere him, you can tell just yourself that he’s like Albus Dumbledore. Alternatively, you can leave with your head held high:
When I left, no one was proud. There was no ceremony celebrating my decision, a decision I believe represents my integrity and honesty. There are no medallions for young women who leave.
Unless we make them ourselves.
I’m learning to view my life outside a deficit model. To stop seeing my new faith as a lesser equivalent to Mormonism, as a sad and deficient outcome of spiritual failure.
My life is no less honorable or holy because I left the church. When I think of all the opportunities my choice grants me, I am filled with joy. I am filled with joy every time I recognize myself in my thoughts and my actions, a self I abandoned for years as I tried to fit a mold that did not accommodate a very big soul.
Among interesting Mormon beliefs is the idea that gay men aren’t really gay, and, in fact, should marry straight women. (Just not as a “cure.”) This belief is still sufficiently widespread that TLC is doing a reality show about it. As awful as that sounds, it might actually be a good thing. Seriously. See this study on the effects a reality show can have…
Your telling me that I’m being too sensitive and need to get over it is not going to make things better, because that will also annoy me. It’s not nice to discount or diminish other peoples’ feelings, especially if they are adults. Besides, I think I should be the one who determines what I find irritating and what I don’t, especially if I’m posting about it on my personal blog or Facebook page. Trust me, I wish little things didn’t piss me off. They do, though. I can’t help it. And if I want to vent about it, that’s my business. If it bothers you, you can choose to hang out elsewhere.
In LDS-interest books, the faithful Mormon lit community has declared the goal of having “A novel about active Mormons written by an active Mormon is placed before a national audience where it makes a notably broad impact on discourse,” and found a book that seems to attain it.
I hope you had a Merry Smithmas, and best wishes for 2015!!