The discussion of the pool party incident wasn’t even done when another racism horror story arrived on the scene. The recent tragedy in Charleston isn’t about Mormonism, but… Mormonism has such a strong historical connection with American racism that naturally we’ve been talking about it this past week.
In other racial news there was the bizarre tale of Rachel Dolezal. As messed-up as her actions were, I argued that we should not use this as motivation for the idea that people need to identify as their “true race” — because that is not only problematic (historically and otherwise), but doesn’t even really make sense. My own cousin wrote a piece for the New York Times with a related point, and she was also quoted in the Seattle Times:
When Amanda Erekson was in her early 20s, a friend introduced her to a Japanese-American woman at a party. â€œAmanda is Japanese-American, too!â€ her friend enthused.
â€œThe person was shocked,â€ Erekson recalls. â€œI know white people who look more Japanese than you,â€ the woman said.
The comment stung. Erekson, who is multiracial, identifies strongly with her Japanese-American heritage, although her appearance leads most people to assume she is simply white.
This kind of skeptical reaction is one reason the 33-year-old New Yorker, president of MAVIN, an organization devoted to the multiracial experience, bemoans the international media sensation that is Rachel Dolezal. Because of the former Spokane NAACP president, who resigned from her post Monday after her parents said she had been posing as black, Erekson says â€œit will be that much harderâ€ for people like her.
Erekson, who considers Dolezalâ€™s conduct â€œunethical and inappropriate,â€ can find little positive about the whole affair. But if there is something, she says it is this: â€œIt makes people more comfortable talking about race.â€
Then there was the big LDS news of the past week: the Boise Rescue!! Yes, it would appear that even in the heart of the Morridor, there’s a bit of a problem of whole stakes catching the apostasy bug, so they sent in some G.A.s to address the problem! Someone recorded and transcribed it, which means that all of the juicy bits have been thoroughly ripped apart for your enjoyment. Here’s a recurring theme:
by their definitions of apostasy and authority, Alma the Younger, Abinidi, Samuel the Lamanite, Paul & Jesus Christ would have been apostates rather than prophets. They basically claim that those who are in authority are at any given time are right. Except thatâ€™s not how Christian or even Mormon history has actually played out. Sometimes those in authority were wrong and it took a renegade to point it out.
I find it interesting that the efforts of the church do not seem to be to reclaim those they consider apostate, but rather only seem intent on preventing others from leaving. If the effort was to reclaim those theyâ€™ve lost they would do so with patience and persuasion without calling them preposterous and apostate and other names while not addressing their sincere concerns.
Aside from the headlines, there were tons of other interesting stories and discussions of Mormonism this past week! Consider the disturbing ambiguity of a pedophile who’s actually a really good teacher, Polygamy as doctrine and practice, the pressure to marry, interesting evidence of nepotism, a new song parody and hymn, and exercises on confirmation bias.
There were also some new points in the debate over Book of Mormon historicity! Specifically, more DNA! It always gets interesting when the people using BoM historicity as an example of how pseudoscience is employed to bolster faith meet up with the folks who insist that the Book of Mormon is historical. Also, when the Mormon Expositor meets up with a guy who did a hilarious podcast about it. From the Bible, here’s a point that bears highlighting:
There’s a function to these ‘love’ verses. I liken it to poison. If you want to poison an animal, you can’t just throw it the poison and hope it eats it. You have to hide the poison in some kind of food the animal will like. In the same way, these ‘love’ scriptures provide cover for the nastier bits â€” of which there are plenty â€” so that people will gulp them down while they’re gulping down the good bits.
Lots of food for thought this week — I hope you can find some insight even if there’s not much comfort…