“Geez Cousin you are super into this whole thing.”
I had posted a link to Kate Kelly’s excommunication letter, released by Ordain Women, on Facebook. I thought that it provided an interesting counter to some of the claims that Kelly has made about the process she has gone through. It wasn’t the first time I’d posted or written about the recent controversy, either:
- #livingauthentically (pre-excommunication)
- Sugar and Spice and RIGHTEOUS FURY!!! (pre-excommunication)
- Camp. With Girls. (post-excommunication)
My cousin (that part is literal) posted the above response, and I can appreciate her sentiment. You see,
We all have things we care about, important issues that we champion.
For her, it seems, this wasn’t one of those important issues, and believe me when I say that I don’t mean that critically. Some folks care about climate change, or the treatment of orcas in captivity, or the use of the death penalty, or campaign financing, or Parkinson’s research. Each of these are extremely important.
Yet few people have the capacity to be invested, let alone be informed, about all of these (and all the other critical) issues.
Religion, and topics relating to the Mormon Church – these are some of my issues, and I don’t fault folks who are not invested in them to the same degree that I am invested in them.
Still, the question is a good one. I feel like her comment could be paraphrased like this: “We’ve got climate change and orcas and the death penalty and campaign financing and Parkinson’s –
“Why do you care so much about this? Of all the issues you could champion, why do you pick this one?”
I deflected in the Facebook thread, and made a joke about not caring for World Cup news (talk about heresy) – Facebook is not the place for substantive discussions.
“I would say that it’s fascinating if it weren’t so sad with the whole excommunication thing, but sure, super into it works, too.
“Us people who are apathetic about the World Cup gotta find something to do until it blows over!”
But here – where I’m not limited by word count or Facebook etiquette – I am happy to talk about why I am so invested, why it is so important to me.
I care deeply about having this discussion because the “other side” is framing the conversation poorly and, frankly, being dishonest, and that will impact the LDS Church (and public perception of it) for decades.
Digress with me for a moment.
I love video games (how heretical is that!). Right now I’m currently working towards 3-star ratings on the eight Mario Kart 8 150cc cups.
(In the Venn diagram that depicts people interested in the subjects covered on this blog, and people who understood that last sentence, I’m thinking the sliver where those two groups intersects is probably me and maybe six other people. At least the entire video-game circle can appreciate how difficult that is.)
But my tastes are varied, and I’ve taken in my fair share of standard FPS (first-person shooter) games. In one popular FPS, a U.S. military general named Commander Shepherd does some pretty back-room-black-ops type badness to start a profitable war (profitable for him, at least). The heroes of the game find him out and go on a (of course) snowball-in-(you know where)’s-chance-of-success type mission to kill him and right his wrongs. As they approach the final showdown our main protagonist, Captain Price, makes this (awesome) speech:
“This is for the record. History is written by the victor. History is filled with liars. If he lives, and we die, his truth becomes written – and ours is lost. Shepherd will be a hero, ’cause all you need to change the world is one good lie and a river of blood. He’s about to complete the greatest trick a liar ever played on history. His truth will be the truth. But only if he lives, and we die.“
Now, that’s quite graphic, but think about the message.
We cannot say that history is objective in the same way that we can say that science or mathematics are objective.
In fact, the whole two-sides-to-every-story thing seems to be compounded as you increase the players and controversy.
What’s more, the version of history that we accept as “fact” is dependent on, to a great degree, who “wins” and therefore gets to contribute to writing it.
“So,” you may be concluding , “you write and post about this stuff so you can beat Kate Kelly in this war or whatever and write your own version of history.”
That’s not it at all.
Now, I want to make this next part clear.
I don’t really care who wins and writes the history.
Hearing that, you may think, “Then why are we talking about your stupid video games?”
Let me try and explain. In short, it’s a matter of scale.
Ultimately, I have no control over who wins this “battle,” if you can even call it that. (Even Kelly doesn’t really have that kind of control, though with her excommunication providing the “river of blood,” the mainstream media is devouring her narrative about a big, bad church.) Besides, the Church has other primary concerns aside from how it is perceived in the public sphere.
One of those concerns, though, and one of the primary missions of the Church, is to proclaim the gospel. This kind of activity may seem like it’s done on a large scale – we’ve had some 80,000 missionaries recently – but really, it’s a very individual, personal process.
People are found as individuals. People are taught as individuals. People consider, for themselves, whether or not they want to join the Church and make the incredible sacrifices that go along with that decision. People are baptized as individuals. People grow and repent as individuals. And people experience the fruit from these decisions as individuals.
Kate Kelly’s pre-excommunication proselyting, and her post-excommunication martyrdom-evangelizing, can greatly impede these individual experiences. Consequently, that denies people the fruit that comes from conversion.
Someone who is familiar with only Kate Kelly’s version of history may find, unfairly, that the Church is abusive. With that version of history shaping their paradigm, they may pass on the source of some of the sweetest blessings I’ve experienced in life. That would be tragic.
How brave that Kelly is willing to jeopardize those blessings – other people’s blessings – in the name of her social agenda.
For the LDS Church, it’s not about silencing dissent. It’s not about keeping people from asking questions. That’s a distraction concocted by Kelly’s supporters and regurgitated by the media because the idea is so deliciously mischievous.
For the LDS Church, it’s really about creating an environment where people can feel the promptings that will lead them to the Savior and His church. It’s about effectively proclaiming the gospel. It’s about the long game – eternal life.
I care about making a positive contribution to that dialogue, and providing a voice that is honest. I care because that voice may positively influence how someone accepts the gospel when they hear about it.
Whether or not you’ve felt the sting of hard experiences that come from being a member of this Church filled with imperfect people, and whether or not those experiences line up with the same types of grievances Kelly has expressed, you too can contribute to the conversation.
Even if you and I disagree, we can discuss and assess each others’ views. That’s what Kelly’s supporters want most anyway, right? And if we’re honest in our discussions, there is honor in that.
For active Latter-day Saints, regardless of where you stand in your support of female ordination, you can probably see something wrong with comments like these.
If you do, too, join the conversation with me. Let’s get super into it.