From the Backlist: Mourning with those that Mourn
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am just sad. I don’t have anything other than that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.