Friday, June 27, 2014

These Men Are Not the Enemies

The past week’s events have sent shock waves of despair throughout our community.  Prominent Mormon Feminist Kate Kelly was excommunicated by a group of men in white shirts and ties in an act hauntingly named, “A Court of Love.”  Many of us have called out the spiritual violence of the process. We had no idea the sting we would feel, even if we anticipated this decision.  Some of us can barely harness the grief.  It just seems so wrong.  Many, many of us are hurting and deeply grieving. Some of us are angry and some want to make the Church or Kate’s leadership the enemies.
But they are not the enemies.  We have a heritage of fear and a legacy of violence that predate the events of the last week. Among the many spiritual legacies handed down to us, we have a birthright of deep Mormon shame and that birthright extends around and especially to the male leaders in authority. It is a system that every living Mormon today has inherited and one that is so engrained in our Mormon psyche, it is second-nature to us.
We Mormons are an End-of-Days bunch, a community that since 1830 has been convinced that the Second Coming is just beyond the cusp of our own generation. Ours is a fiery people.
On a quiet Ohio night on March 24, 1832 Joseph Smith had fallen asleep next to his sick child.  Little Murdock, one of the twins had contracted measles sometime in the night and his father’s strong arms wrapped around his tiny, fevering body. Joseph would be woken by the angry sound of a drunken group of men just outside the home. Fawn Brodie explains:
“Fortified by a barrel of whiskey, [the mob] smashed their way into the Johnson home on the night of March 24, 1832 and dragged Joseph from the trundle bed where he had fallen asleep while watching one of the twins. They stripped him, scratched and beat him with savage pleasure, and smeared his bleeding body with tar from head to foot. Ripping a pillow into shreds, they plastered him with feathers. It is said that Eli Johnson demanded that the prophet be castrated, for he suspected Joseph of being too intimate with his sister, Nancy Marinda. But the doctor who had been persuaded to join the mob declined the responsibility at the last moment…” (No Man Knows My History, page119).
This would mark a beginning of a culture of violence for our people.  Within several years, the Mormons were organized and effective at returning violence for violence, intimidation for intimidation and cruelty and fear with retaliation.

Read the rest here

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