The Scarlet Letter

thumbn_112660442A-For Apostasy. Whatever that means.

This one is gonna be a little bit blunt, but I really like John Dehlin, and I think the LDS church is doing itself a great disservice but trying to smear his name and kick him from the church he clearly loves. All he has ever done is try to help struggling, confused, doubting, and isolated mormons feel less so, and I’m pretty mad that they are trying to stop him from doing what I believe is important work.

It’s been a full year since I’ve been to church. Naturally, I’ve been pondering the journey I’ve been on quite a lot lately, so the timing of this is interesting for me personally, although they are un-related, of course.

First of all, I could care less about Ordain Women. While I do understand it from a feminist quality perspective on some level, I don’t care because I don’t believe in the priesthood, so therefore, I don’t care if women get it or not.

On the other hand….

John Dehlin is one of the LDS figures that helped me survive my faith crisis without imploding. Without him I don’t know what would have happened. Probably something pretty bad. His podcast helped me. A LOT. He has faced “discipline” 3 times and always been exonerated. John Dehlin has done NOTHING different than what he was doing during the last 3 investigations, he says it himself in the video below. The difference this time is the timing. I refuse to believe it’s a coincidence that he is being summoned at the same time as the Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women. Even though they are being summoned by local clergy, they were both summoned around the same time, under circumstances that are a little shady.

Hear about it for yourself. Watch this google+ hangout conducted by The Salt Lake Tribune.

This looks coordinated from higher up. If anyone can show me otherwise, I’d love to review the evidence. Basically, the message I am getting from this is, it’s ok to have doubts, but you better not talk about it! If John Dehlin is excommunicated – it will only confirm to me what I figured out about this time last year….the church doesn’t want people like me….people who ask hard and honest questions…..who want to live authentically, even if it means going against the grain. When I realized this for the first time a year ago I had to leave for my own mental health, because I couldn’t live with the guilt of being a doubter for ONE MORE DAY. I was miserable, swimming in a sea of believers that don’t want to ask the hard questions, don’t want to hear about mine, and don’t want to consider that maybe, just maybe, the church and it’s associated doctrines aren’t perfect.

As Kate says in this video, for people that go to church every week and hear things that align with their paradigm of thinking, going to church is a piece of cake, a walk in the park! These are the people who love going to church. But, for those of us with questions, it is extremely difficult to go week after week, hearing things constantly that don’t feel right to us. Kate and John have both managed to stay active for years despite having strong feelings that things the church teaches don’t add up in their minds. They both have pretty different questions/suggestions about what needs to change, Kate – being the strong feminist and demanding equal roles, and John – begging for answers regarding the questionably historicity of the Book of Mormon and many other historical issues, as well as advocating for LGBTQ rights. No matter what the question or doubt is, if it doesn’t line up with current teachings, you are going to be uncomfortable in church on some level. For me it was unbearable. These two have remained active despite this discomfort, and I applaud them, that is a really hard thing to do, and it takes a lot of faith, really a lot.

These two must really love the church to have stuck with it all this time. They are more committed mormons that I will ever be, and yet they are the ones being called to court.

These two people genuinely LOVE the church. I know I can’t say the same. So, if anyone deserves to be summoned, it’s  probably me, not them. Just a thought…..

All John is guilty of is being an honest and authentic inquirer and SAVER OF LIVES…

I wish him the best of luck. He is made of steel in my opinion. I know I sure couldn’t do what he is doing.

I try not to dwell on my departure from the church, but every once in a while….I have to talk about it.

To my family, I love you, these are my opinions, and what I see happening with the church does not reflect at all on what I think or feel about any of you. Just because I didn’t feel welcome in church doesn’t mean I don’t feel welcome at home, because I do. Thank you for that.

Now, I’m gonna get back to my craft room, finish a gift for my Dad, who I love dearly, despite everything, and work on another Youtube video, because that is what brings me happiness right now more than anything else.

 

 

photo credit: Monceau via photopin cc

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5 thoughts on “The Scarlet Letter

  1. Mary says:

    Sam, I really enjoyed reading this. I thought it was really well written. You are getting really good at this blogging stuff!!! I’ll just say a couple of things – – and leave it at that – – to your statement “believers who don’t want to ask the hard questions, don’t want to hear about mine, and don’t want to consider that maybe, just maybe, the church and it’s associated doctrines aren’t perfect” I say this: I ask hard questions, I want to hear yours, and I believe the gospel is perfect, but the people are not (cliche statement, but I hold to it). I ask hard questions, ALL THE TIME. In fact, I’m actually happy these events are happening…it is healthy for all of the church members to see what’s going on, because IT DOES generate positive discussions, it brings up real honest issues that each member, “active” or not, needs to ponder and study for themselves. I actually am more well versed on the Ordain Women situation so I’ll comment on that – – honestly because I don’t entirely disagree with what they’re doing – – in fact, did you see the church’s response to their request to enter the priesthood session in April – – it actually says that they welcome “helpful discussions” regarding women within the church.( http://www.deseretnews.com/media/pdf/1317612.pdf ) In all honesty, I PERSONALLY think that the church DOES need people like you and Dehlin and Kelly. Although Dehlin recently stated he loves the church, but does not believe in many of the “truths” we teach. (Sorry, I don’t have a link for that – – you can find it, I’m sure!) I think it may take longer for some of our cultural issues to change because so many who find fault in them, leave – – leaving behind their valuable input and honest, authentic questions. It’s a shame. Since I’ve been in the stake relief society I have already corrected some of the “traditional” cultural beliefs that have been passed down (mainly the misogynistic ones) in our presidency meetings – – Sam, you would be proud of me!!! I am fighting for all my brothers and sisters out there like you, because I really care and think your questions and concerns are WONDERFUL! ~ Did you ever watch the Elder Oak’s talk from priesthood session – – you should if you haven’t. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng This is always a goody, too… even if you don’t care about the priesthood it’s still interesting just food for thought – – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QYlDLChzig Sam, I love ya! Keep this going. P.S. Michael is also commenting….but NOT on purpose! Haha! We’re not trying to corner you….we’re both sitting on opposite sides of the room and we just now asked what the other is doing….silly stuff…married life.

    • Samantha says:

      I think the reason this news hit me so hard is because I used to look at John and think…maybe someday I will be able to make peace with the religion again….maybe not believe it….but love it in a way that I could be somewhat involved, so I could go to church with ya’ll on Christmas, attend niece and nephew baptisms, wedding receptions, baby showers, and funerals without feeling uncomfortable. To have respect and some amount of love for it again, even after discovering what I see as the real truth about the church. Maybe, just maybe, I could put it aside and just enjoy the parts of the church I used to enjoy while still remaining a hopeful agnostic theist who believe that gay marriage is perfectly fine, and that modesty codes only contribute to rape culture, etc. Them pushing John out basically told me that that this is highly unlikely. You are either in or you are out. There is no middle ground, apparently. Basically, because I believe much of what John does, this means to me that I am not welcome so long as I hold to my “heretical” beliefs.
      I am glad that you are calling out poor practice. I used to do that as well. If I believed there was actually a real chance it was true, I’d be right there with you, I just don’t see how there is. Why waste time and energy trying to fix something I see as fundamentally flawed? I prefer to spend my time and energies working on things that actually make me happy, even if they aren’t perfect, I find joy in the challenge. The church made me miserable in so many ways, I felt that all attempts at change were futile. John tried to instigate change in the church….and look what happened to him….I see it as futile.
      Also, I’ll take the people of the church ANY day over the doctrines. I think the people of the church are generally GREAT, it’s the organization and it’s doctrines that I have a problem with. I see it the opposite of you. I’ll take my imperfect family members any day over the oppressive and burdensome doctrines of the church.
      I love you sis, I am glad you find some kind of peace in the church, I am finding my peace elsewhere, and I really am finding it. I hope you can see that.

  2. Michael says:

    I know little about John and his stance on various issues, but it seems to me that he is actively advocating positions or views that go against what the Church teaches. There’s a huge difference between doubting, which is normal, and actively teaching or supporting a cause that opposes the doctrine established by the Church.

    Just like what the missionaries teach- it all goes back to the basic question- is God really speaking through a Prophet or not? If you believe that He is, then people who push ideas that are clearly in conflict with those established as truth by God shouldn’t be given the support or approval of the Church (which is implied when that member is allowed to continue with no notice from Church leaders. If, on the other hand, God has nothing to do with the Church, then it really doesn’t matter and we can all believe or teach whatever we like. It’s even more confusing when somebody is trying to help those with doubts but is also teaching something contrary to the teachings of the Church…

    It works the same in everything else. Walmart would not continue to employ somebody who was outwardly and actively sabotaging or attempting to subvert its goals. A citizen of the United States who aids an enemy is tried and sentenced as a traitor. Church discipline is meant to be less like a trial and more like an opportunity to be honest with oneself and God.

    Anyway, I don’t want to go on forever. That’s just how I feel about an issue like this. These two figures should have expected this, and I’m even a little surprised that they’ve been able to act as long as they have without much from the Church. I don’t think that the Church is worried too much about it’s image. The difference between most of society and the Church will continue to grow, and that’s just something we have to be ok with.

    I do like what you said about living with doubt though. There’s that idea about cognitive dissonance- each of us can only handle a certain amount of contradiction in ideas. I think we all have certain levels of toleration, and nobody is faulted for being less tolerant than others.

    That’s enough. Hope that maybe clarifies a little about why we think the way we do. I totally see your side of the argument, but I hope mine makes sense too!!!

    Do what makes you happy. That will lead you to truth, whatever it is and wherever you need to find it, faster than anything else will!!!
    Michael

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