From the Backlist: Mourning with those that Mourn

Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Mormon women, personal notes, suffering, transition, women | 22 comments

Emelyn_Story_Tomba_(Cimitero_Acattolico_Roma)I think the Bloggernacle has heard about the upcoming disciplinary councils for Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. On our blogger backlist, we have been sharing our experiences and feelings and are sharing some of them here with you all.

Aimee

Last night I dreamed I was walking into a large conference building with hundreds of my Mormon sisters. I could see some of their faces–some of them were fellow Mormon feminists, some of them friends from Church I haven’t seen in a decade or more.

But the sloping floors of the conference building were empty–there weren’t any chairs.

When I awoke, the optimist in me hoped my dream was a psychic affirmation of our solidarity as Mormon sisters. After today’s news, my inner pessimist worries that my dream speaks to the real fear that our seats are being removed.

And yet the image most present in my mind continues to be that we were all standing–together. Today especially, that feels right.

Deborah

Wow, Aimee. I had a really intense dream this week too, that I almost wrote about but then decided not to… But here goes: a group of about 20 Mormon feminists, some that I recognized, some that I didn’t, were gathered together in a special room in the Salt Lake Temple. It was a hidden space, reserved for us to gather. Peggy from the Salt Lake Tribune asked me if she could write about it, but the group decided that it was too sacred a space, and most of the general authorities didn’t realize we were there… We didn’t want to have the space taken from us. At one point, a couple and their small daughter stumbled upon the room, and sat down. We all got very quiet, and suddenly something smacked the man on the head and they left in a huff. Somebody remarked, “I guess the Holy Ghost is a woman!” But as they were leaving, I noticed that the girl was malnourished. I called her back in and handed her an apple. She ate it, flashed me a beautiful smile, and ran to rejoin her parents.

Alisa

John Dehlin is the reason I am still active in the LDS Church. He taught me about stages of faith. He connected me to other members who had been where I was and who made it through and kept active. Like Joanna Brooks and many others, he advocated vocally for a big tent Church under which many people of various levels of belief and doubt could meet together and sit together and heal each other, with the understanding that we’re all fumbling, we all see through a glass darkly.

As one of the founders of Ordain Women, Kate has helped inspire me to action. Her speech, “Equality is not a Feeling,” rings in my head and I know it is truth. I knew long before OW was organized that ordination for women was the right thing to do. Kate and all the women of OW have helped to provide a platform for me to show up for my own convictions and to be counted among those who are willing to vulnerably place our bodies against hail, sleet, hecklers, blocking garbage trucks, and slammed doors to do what we know is right.

On Sunday, I marched with John Dehlin and “Mormons for Equality,” in the SLC Pride Parade. I saw him so exhilarated by the cheers of the crowd. Yes, brave lesbian and gay people were cheering *us.* I saw John jump, and hug, and feel so amazing as he waved his “One Love” sign, never knowing that he had received his church court summons 24 hours before. He chose to process that by sticking up for the rights of others. He didn’t talk about himself. He continued to reach out in love.

Emily U

I love the gospel but staying in the Church is sometimes very hard for me. I feel two conflicting things calling for my allegiance – the LDS Church, and my own conscience when it comes to matters of gender equality. My profile was on the Ordain Women website the day it was launched, and on that day I felt internally consistent for the first time. I could stay in the Church, but also be publicly authentic about my beliefs. Kate Kelly made that possible, and I’m grateful to her for it. If the Church counted people Ordain Women encouraged to leave the Church and the people it has helped stay, the number who have stayed will be the greater by far.

I am appalled. And sad. And sick to think of Kate and John paying such a price for what they’ve done to help so many.

Caroline

I’m sad and incredulous. I thought for sure the Church was too savvy to hold a court on Kate and thus expose the Church to terrible national press. And to have a court when she has already moved? That is unfair. She’ll have no opportunity to interact with these men and let them see her faith, her good heart, and her good intentions.

TopHat

I am just sad. I don’t have anything other than that.

Libby

If creating a space for people to talk about their doubts is apostasy–if even having doubts and facing them honestly is apostasy–which of us wouldn’t be subject to a church court? If praying that the Church receives the further light and knowledge we have been promised is apostasy, then who among us is not apostate?

We are all sinners. We are all doubters. We are all seekers of signs, pleaders, petulant children desiring things of God. In the early days of the Church, the prophet diligently sought answers to these questions, and the revelations he received were canonized as scripture.

We have lost something.

Mraynes

I am heartbroken. And shocked. How, how could they do this? I have been sobbing since I found out. What good is all the sacrifice–what good Is staying, lifting where I stand–if it is for an institution that violently rejects their own? I just am beyond words. I didn’t think they could break my heart anymore than they already have.

Liz

I’m just so sad, and mad, and honestly a bit embarrassed that the church I love so deeply is responding to these people in this way. John Dehlin’s work has done so much to help me stay active in the church and feel like there could be space for me and others who have feminist concerns. Kate Kelly is an inspiration to me of brave, radical self-respect, and I feel like her work is a genuine effort to improve an institution that she deeply loves. I believe that both of these people represent a huge part of the body of Christ, and I worry about the consequences of trying to amputate it. I’m just so sad. I want to believe that there is space in this church for people like Kate Kelly, and John Dehlin, and me. But this whole thing makes me wonder if there really is.

Spunky

I had a random thought yesterday that no longer feels random. In its raw form, not fully fleshed out, it is this: Heavenly Mother is not just a mother.

It seems to me that our Heavenly Parents completed their family and wanted us to be with Them, and progress as They do. Hence, They began to plan and discuss immortality, whence came the Plan of Salvation and the resulting war in heaven.

It does not seem feasible that She would have ongoing pregnancies (or creations?) as such. So what is She now that her “procreating” days are done? Is the Plan of Salvation all about making Her a grandparent? Then a great grandparent? Then a great-great grandparent? Because She has no other eternal or spiritual value but to keep birthing spiritual children?

This is clearly absurd. Therefore, She must have characteristics and divinity that is well beyond the birthing of spirit children. And, as we are to be like Him and Her, we must develop beyond the ideology of parenting alone in order to continue progression in order to be like Him and Her.

I think Kate Kelly and Ordain Women are emulating this; we do not end at motherhood, just as God is more than “just” a Heavenly Father. He is omnipotent and omniscient, rather than being identified as “just” a parent. To annex the thought of female ordination and use Kelly as a scapegoat for ideas about alternative women’s positions in the plan of salvation (else what would Kelly be but a scapegoat?) is to limit the doctrine of the plan of salvation as a doctrine that only allows for male spiritual progression. Pure and simple: it disavows the concept of eternal progression for women. This is in contradiction the rudimentary purpose of the Plan of Salvation; it negates the concept of eternal or even mortal progression regarding spiritual communion.

The Plan of salvation was intended for us to prove worthiness and, therefore, progress. If Kelly is excommunicated for agitating spiritual progression, then what worth is church membership to any of us, especially if is so vehemently is in opposition to the long-held doctrinal foundation of the Plan of Salvation? My guess is not much.

Cruelest Month

I am so hurt by this action. OW helped increase my Church attendance and strengthened my faith. I renewed my temple recommend and have held various callings. I felt energized and excited to build the kingdom in a Gospel tent of extended borders that took me in. I look at Kate and John and see the best parts of the Gospel. I look at myself and see that my finest gifts are rejected. There is room in the Church for thieves, greed mongers, liars, rapists, and others who commit vile acts, but not the questioning faithful? Many cause great hurt and are not cast out, but two people that have blessed the lives of many are not wanted. I don’t understand.

EmilyCC

Kate and John have done so much to build the kingdom of Zion. I am heartbroken and I feel such hurt for Kate and John and their families. I hurt for my sisters and brothers who have worked so hard to remain active in the Church and now feel done. And, I also hurt for our leaders, my brothers and sisters in the Gospel who can’t see what we’re loosing and who we’re loosing…that they can’t see that when we excommunicate people for doing things differently than the “normal way,” we are becoming the Pharisees in the New Testament.

Rachel

Most simply, I feel heart broken–for Kelly and Dehlin, for us, and for our entire Mormon community.

The loss of their voices and their presence would be a real loss. Each created spaces for members to share their authentic stories filled with all of the complexities of a human soul, with beauty, vulnerability, faith, and doubt. Each created space for members to stay. I pray that the Church they (and I) love, will let them stay.

I wonder if it was like this before, when it was Margaret, and Maxine, and others. Was there this mourning, and sorrow, and anger, and love? Let there not be the fear.

Jessawhy
I’m laying on a bunk in the middle of NM, wondering how this can be happening.

A friend on FB just invited me to a Mass Resignation event. It seems totally appropriate response to this bullshit.

I’ve been re-engaging with my husband on the subject of how to raise our kids in the church. It’s a difficult subject especially consider our oldest is supposed to receive the priesthood next month, but doesn’t want it. And yet, I do. Thinking of what would happen if my son told the Bishop, “I don’t want the priesthood until my mom can have it as well.”

These conversations needs to keep happening. I’m so sad for Kate, for all of us.

East River Lady

What is happening to John Dehlin and Kate Kelly is disheartening and upsetting. These faithful members have only tried to make our faith community more welcome and opening to all. As a community of Saints and believers, we all should be mourning and uniting our hearts with Kate and John. They have made this church stronger, and to lose them would be a disservice to the membership at large.

Jess R

I find it so sad that a church built on questions (like Joseph Smith’s) is cutting out members who follow in that tradition. It is so disheartening. I’m trying to process why this is happening, and how to have faith and trust in the church. I am also afraid that this will silence other people who are trying to give a voice to different faith paths. We need those voices. Those are the voices that make me feel at home in Mormonism.

Related posts:

22 Comments

  1. This is not good. That said, we don’t know if the Stake Presidents made the decision, or if they were instructed to do this.

    I hope that the action came from the Stake Presidents, and will be squashed by Salt Lake. Hope.

    Wayne

  2. 3 within days of each other isn’t a coincidence.

    • But then why wouldn’t whoever made the decision stand up and take credit for it? After all, if this is a matter of serious apostasy wouldn’t the church get a more clear message if it came from a general authority who spoke resoundingly instead of hiding behind layers of anonymous bureaucracy?

      Personally, I think Kate Kelly and John Dehlin deserved as much. And I feel like I do as well as a member trying to make sense of this.

      • You are right! They deserve better!!

      • Wasn’t it always claimed that the September Six were also not an orchestrated from the top thing?

  3. Thanks for posting this. I love and echo so many of your thoughts. Both Kate and John have inspired me, and I am just appalled that the institutional response to their pointing out that the Church might be improved is to boot them out.

    MRaynes: “What good is all the sacrifice–what good Is staying, lifting where I stand–if it is for an institution that violently rejects their own?”

    Amen.

  4. I was deeply saddened today when the former bishop of my friend, Kate Kelly, called her to a disciplinary council. He waited to do so until after she had moved out of his ward and across the country, making it unlikely that she will be able to attend and defend herself.

    Ordain Women, the organization Kate founded, is an organization that supports the church and its leaders. While Ordain Women respectfully and persistently advocates for women to have the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood within the church they love, it also fully complies with the current priesthood restriction. Ordain Women has always publicly acknowledged that only the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 have the authority to end the ban on female ordination. Ordain Women has maintained a long-term guideline, “We do not solicit, nor do we support, diatribes against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” http://ordainwomen.org/faq/

    Many church members tell us that Ordain Women has helped them stay in the church. It has given them hope, a reason not to walk away. It has given them tools to express their hopes and concerns in a positive and uplifting manner. If you are one of these people, you can add your voice here, to be used as evidence to help Kate at the disciplinary council: http://bit.ly/owhelpyou

    If you would like to know more about Kate, I would recommend these articles. Even if you don’t agree with Kate, I think it is apparent that she is a good and faithful person, and it would be better for the church to dialogue with her than to cast her out. She certainly does not deserve to have the priesthood ordinances she has partaken of invalidated. She advocates for priesthood because she loves and believes in the priesthood.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/lauradomenica/feminism-in-faith-mormonism

    http://www.mormonwomen.com/2013/09/12/the-house-she-lives-in/

  5. This is a great conversation, but I think we need to be careful about a few particular things. First, neither Kelly nor Dehlin have been excommunicated yet; excommunication is only one of many possible outcomes of the disciplinary council meetings both face. It’s entirely possible that no discipline is given to either, and it’s unfair for anyone to presume that they will be. Indeed, I find it somewhat odd that both have decided to go public with something so personal. What do they hope to achieve by talking to the press about this? Surely it doesn’t help either of their cases to be so publicly critical of their local church leaders, particularly Kelly’s assertion that her bishop is “cowardly and unchristlike”. Second, given the gravity of church disciplinary councils and the severity of the consequences that follow, I think we owe their local church leaders with the benefit of doubt that they are taking these decisions very seriously and prayerfully, whatever the outcome is. Having known individuals involved in such disciplinary councils in a variety of different roles, it’s not a happy or trivial experience for anyone involved. Third, before reacting too much, we also need to recognize that there is likely a lot of context to these decisions that we are simply unaware of. For example, we don’t know the full content of the discussion that Kelly had with her Stake President, but it is highly likely that the content of that discussion and Kelly’s subsequent actions (whatever they were – I haven’t really followed) drove the subsequent decision for a disciplinary council. Fourth and finally, I think it’s critical that we draw a distinction between thought and action. Kelly isn’t being called into discipline for her personal beliefs or for having specific questions about women and the priesthood, nor is it for creating a space in which a discussion of women and the priesthood can take place – the letter from her stake president specifically cites her problematic actions, “openly, repeatedly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the church and its leaders after having been counseled not to do so.” The real issue for debate here is not whether it’s acceptable for individuals to have questions or doubts or to hold “unorthodox” theological viewpoints; rather, the issue is what are the appropriate ways, channels, and forums in which we can discuss our doubts, and what do we ultimately do if those doubts are unable to be resolved.

    • You make several interesting points here, Michael. For the sake of time, I’d like to respond to this: “The real issue for debate here is not whether it’s acceptable for individuals to have questions or doubts or to hold “unorthodox” theological viewpoints; rather, the issue is what are the appropriate ways, channels, and forums in which we can discuss our doubts, and what do we ultimately do if those doubts are unable to be resolved.” Two points:

      1. For Church members who feel called to share their beliefs in order to serve the Church and their God, keeping their beliefs to themselves does not demonstrate obedience to their convictions (as we are taught in every lesson on the importance of doing missionary work). In the case of Ordain Women (and Kate Kelly in particular) this isn’t a matter of people voicing doubt but rather a group that feels convicted to bless the church by asking for further light and knowledge that seems a logical expansion of our Church’s history and belief that God “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” (A of F 1:9.)

      2. “What are the appropriate ways, channels, and forums in which we can discuss our doubts” (and I would add “convictions”)? I think this is an excellent question. What ARE the appropriate ways and channels for a body of self-described “saints” to interact with one another and share their collective questions, revelations, and knowledge? As Mormons charged to seek personal revelation and exercise moral agency in the world, what CAN we do when we believe God is asking us to sustain our leaders by bringing them the fruits of our spiritual labors? Working through back-channels with leadership out of the public eye is certainly one method, but one that excludes at least 90% of the Church from those encounters (and an even higher percentage of women). OW has given hundreds of women and men the chance to speak and to act on what they believe are divinely inspired convictions. The Church choosing to excise those voices from its body may be an attempt to answer your question about what are and are not appropriate ways to discuss our convictions and doubts, but it would be a grave disappointment to me.

      • Love this response, Aimee.

  6. I am surprised that no one saw this coming. I think it was impossible not to see the writing on the wall.

    • Perhaps we were blinded by our hope.

      “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

      By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

      And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

      And patience experience; and experience hope:

      And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

      Romans 5:1-5

    • Did you mean to say that we were fools not to see that the patriarchy would defend it’s privilege with every bit of intimidation, fear and callousness at their disposal?

      Personally, I don’t doubt that Kate Kelly and others in the leadership of OW did recognize the threat. I think they spoke out in spite of their personal vulnerability because the need and the injustice were so great. For that reason I am particularly grateful and impressed with their bravery and righteousness and their vision of the future in which our daughters don’t have to hold their tongues or shackle their brains and abilities.

      Is that what you meant?

      • Not at all, Marthamylove.

        I, as much as anyone, knew such actions by the Church could be on the table. But I hoped for more. I hoped as a Church we had learned from 1993. I hoped that our leaders would show more empathy and seek to understand what OW and other Mormon feminists were really asking of them. I hoped that it would never come to this. I hoped it so much that I almost believed the actions currently being taken couldn’t *really* be possible. And I was wrong.

        But I won’t be ashamed of my hope or the hope expressed by my Mofem sisters. We knew the risks, we hoped for more, and that hope was a beautiful gift to which I am still holding fast.

      • Confusion again, I think. I was addressing my comment to Jon.

  7. I have followed the OW movement closely and have been intrigued by their demands, requests, complaints, and actions. Do we need more female voices in the Church? Yes. Do we need more women in prominent positions? Absolutely. BUT, and that’s an enormous “but”, making demands to LDS General Authorities to alter doctrine and ordain women to the priesthood is absolutely out of line. I am frankly shocked that Kelly hasn’t been disciplined sooner for all the commotion she has caused. At the very least she has been disrespectful, through her speech and actions, to Church leaders and members. Who is she to demand that she receives the priesthood? Is she forgetting that God is the only one who can alter His plan, His doctrine, His methods, not the church leaders, and certainly not Kelly.

    • She didn’t *demand*. She *asked*! She recognizes GAs as authorities who have the right to work this out with God, so she *asked* them to take the question to God. They ignored her.

      Also what is this so-called “doctrine” you’re speaking of that would have to be altered to end the female priesthood ban? I’ll give you a hit: there isn’t one. It’s called institutional inertia.

      • This is exactly what I have been trying to say since I’ve learned about these things. Ordain Women didn’t demand that women be ordained to the priesthood. They asked the leaders to ask God. To me, it is a great example of faithfulness.

  8. It seems that those who are in apostasy rarely think they are.

    • It seems those who are un-Christlike rarely think they are.

      • amen MRaynes.

  9. Also recovering from the suprise and sadness from yesterdays breaking news, I hope we continue to pray for the heavens to hear our pleas for Kelly and John. I pray that they will have the strength to stand tall, and know that many of us are with them, advocates and non advocates. I believe we must pray for our leaders, that they will hear what the Lord is telling them. As a group we must refuse to be silenced but must learn the skills not to offend and hurt others in the process. May our God continue to bless us in and out of the church.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. From the Backlist: Mourning with those that Mourn | Well-Behaved Mormon Woman - […] Wow, Aimee. I had a really intense dream this week too, that I almost wrote about but then decided …
  2. From the Backlist: Comforting Those that Stand in Need of Comfort | The Exponent - […] we mourned with you, so today, from our backlist, we will share comfort with you […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>