The Mormon-Lite “Insider”

It drives me nuts that Joanna Brooks get’s to speak for Mormonism from the perspective of an insider. If you read my earlier posts involving her, you can see why that is problematic.

She’s recently written an article for the Washington Post, found here. While I try hard to give her the benefit of the doubt, I can’t help but notice certain phrases that seem to betray a spiritual and intellectual immaturity concerning things Mormon.

Take for instance, the claim that our faith is “rooted in nineteenth century-American Protestantism” and has “developed its own distinctive body of scripture”.

Or what of the accusation about “allegiance to hierarchy”, or that the Church “discouraged and sometimes stigmatized critical inquiry and free expression”. That’s quite the accusation from someone who’s dabbled in a fair amount of individual apostasy, during and after a significant period of inactivity.

(The difference between blind, cult-like devotion to a religious oligarchy and faithful obedience to a personal conviction will not be covered here. Still, I would love for Brooks to define “critical inquiry and free expression”. I expect those terms are not what she makes them out to be.)

Or what of the hot button issues that Brooks brings up – pre-1978 discrimination against African Americans, or the LDS Church’s support of the ERA decades ago and the traditional family today? I suspect that these are a bigger deal for those who were beaten down for their “critical inquiry and free expression” than for those of us who believe, for example, that “the current president of the Church, Thomas Monson, speaks directly to God”.

Can I ask why someone who so tritely discards one of the most important tenants of Mormonism seeks to be part of this community? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for inclusion. But if I believed in Catholic principles, I’d be Catholic. If I believed in Buddhist principles, I’d be Buddhist (or Protestant, atheist, Muslim, and so forth). That I don’t belong to those groups indicates that I don’t agree with all of their tenants.

So again, why seek to belong to the Mormon community if the whole prophet thing doesn’t jive with you?

I won’t even get to the jibes about being by-the-book or not considering minority perspectives, or how religion is the only rationale behind LDS positions on social issues like same-sex marriage and reproductive rights, or how we lean the wrong way on the balance between people and profits.

The fact is that Brooks cannot reconcile her personal agenda with the doctrines of the Church, and instead of leaving the community she can’t quite agree with, she’s lashing out.

We get it – you think that the Church is the Big Bad Wolf, huffing and puffing all over intellectuals, feminists, and homosexuals. But if Romney is elected president, he won’t be running the country as a Mormon bishop. He’ll be running it as an American. The prophet’s office is located a bit farther west.


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