Monday, April 6, 2015

We are Glorified by Love

After I was strangled a few years ago, it was the Christian thing to say to me, 'There is a purpose for everything".  I would bristle at this and say in return, 'There is no purpose for abuse." At this, there is a pause and without fail, they would have to admit I was correct and they could think of no purpose for abuse.

This is the main reason that when I left Mormonism behind, I also left Christianity behind. Yesterday I attended the UU service. Since it was Easter Sunday, the minster discussed Jesus and the atonement and the resurrection in detail.  My anxiety was building as she was talking because I do not feel comfortable with these topics, as I do not believe in them. As she talked about Jesus' death, she said the only way we can understand his death and ultimate resurrection is if we understand it as myth...when she said this, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Yes, I can accept Jesus as a man who spoke wise words and died a normal death, then his followers turned his death into a myth because it was too painful to accept his death.

What has happened with his death since then, I cannot accept, that his followers have turned suffering into a glorious thing. This; I cannot accept:

Then this, from the Mormon church:

“A good friend, who knows whereof he speaks, has observed of trials, ‘If it’s fair, it is not a true trial!’ That is, without the added presence of some inexplicableness and some irony and injustice, the experience may not stretch us or lift us sufficiently. The crucifixion of Christ was clearly the greatest injustice in human history, but the Savior bore up under it with majesty and indescribable valor.”
—Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (1980), 31
Or this:
“Sometimes … we find that even when we do our best to serve the Lord, we still suffer. You may know someone who faces these most challenging of circumstances: consider the parent whose child becomes ill, for whom everyone prays and fasts with all their heart and soul, but who ultimately dies. Or the missionary who sacrifices to go on a mission, then develops a terrible illness that leaves him or her severely disabled or in chronic pain. … The key is to remember that faith and obedience are still the answers—even when things go wrong, perhaps especially when things go wrong.”
—David E. Sorensen, "Faith Is the Answer," Ensign, May 2005, 73

Where does this idea come from, that there is glory in suffering? From this concept that Jesus was glorified in his suffering.  If he was glorified in his suffering, then we will be, also, right? 
I reject this notion. I reject the notion that a woman who is beaten by her husband should endure in silence because her endurance will bring her glory. I reject the notion that a child who starves to death will be glorified, I reject the notion that genocide will glorify a nation, I reject the notion that pain and suffering brings glory. 
Abuse of any kind does not glorify any of us; if all abuse was abolished from the earth today, this earth would be glorified. This, I believe. 
If we look at the death of Jesus as a myth, then see that the women who attended to him loved him, we see that his life was about loving the unlovable, we see that his life was about alleviating suffering and and bringing comfort. This changes the entire story of Jesus' life to one of love and not suffering and in this way it can change the way we see our lives and society.
We are glorified by love. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Journey of Opposition

Today several brave souls stood up in General Conference and raised their hands to oppose the sustaining of the general authorities as current leaders of the Mormon church.  As a part of the movement that is in opposition to the current leadership, I'm so proud of the brave people who had the courage to do this (there were
three others, by the way.)

I have had my own journey with this controversy.  When I was in high school, there was a new bishop put in our ward. Within a year, several families felt he was using his position as bishop to financially abuse them, to take financial liberties and to financially ruin them.

They took their evidence and frustrations to the stake presidency and as I recall, this was not a small group of people, even though it was a minority in the ward, there were about a dozen families involved, (including my own). They put their grievance before the stake presidency only to have it divide the presidency and cause further divide within the ward.

The families who brought the charges were not getting any redress, so they were being rather vocal within the ward with their frustrations, as well.  This was causing a great divide within the ward.  Ward conference was coming up and the stress level for everyone was high.  When the stake presidency called for a sustaining vote of the bishop, the opposition was high, and vocal.

The stake presidency said they would meet with those in opposition after church, which they did, but they only decided to leave the bishop in his position (two members of the presidency voting to keep him in, one voting to remove him), thinking that removing him would cause the ward members to distrust them and the process.

Several ward members went inactive over this and several family members lost homes over business deals and the financial repercussions were severe, who ever was at fault.

Years later, when I was going through my faith crisis, I began to realize that the church leaders did not make decisions based on listening to promptings from god, but on the leanings on the arm of flesh. This realization led me to the conclusion that I could not raise my hand to sustain church leaders.  There is great pressure to go along with the consensus, the group think has incredible pressure within the church, so being the lone person to raise my hand in opposition did not seem like a viable option.

What I chose to do instead; every Sunday for a few years, was to not raise my hand at all, and so for years I would not raise my hand to sustain my leaders. I would not raise my hand to sustain new people being called, I would not sustain bishops, apostles, nobody.

As I look back, I wonder how many people were also silently protesting the group think, the system that didn't give us a voice, the pressure to conform.

My heart goes out to all those who continue to feel stuck in a system that doesn't work for them, who are continuing on with their silent protests. I will raise my arm with a glass of wine in it to you today, in solidarity to those of us who refuse to be part of the group think.