True Colors

TrueColors

Many years ago, I was at Disney World with the kids.  The lines were long.  The heat was strong.  Fortunately, Disney has designed ways to make the waits tolerable.

We were in line for a production at one of the theaters.  I don’t remember which one.  But, I vividly remember what was showing on the TV screens in the waiting area. Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors.’  The video was bright and colorful and creative.  Images of people around the world.  All shapes and colors.  It stirred my imagination.  The lyrics, the music and the pictures touched my soul.

I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show

A couple of days ago, I flew into Vegas and picked up a rental a car.  As I drove to the hotel, ‘True Colors’ came on the radio.  I was touched again.  Five months ago, I stepped away from the Mormon church.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to step back in.  My return to church would be next Sunday, August 27, 2017.

Today, I go back home to Houston.  As I drove to the airport, ‘True Colors’ came on again. Wow!  Is a higher power sending me a message?  It pierced my heart again.  This time in a different way.  In the wee hours of this morning, I had decided not to step back in…for now.

The original words no longer resonate.  In my Mormon world, these are the lyrics I hear:

I see your true colors
And that’s why I hate you
So do be afraid to let them show

In the past few days, there have been several communications, both with family and with others.  My True Colors are not bringing out love.  Fear…yes.  Resentment…yes.  Shunning…yes.  Condemnation…yes.  Loss of friends…yes.  Loss of business…yes.

Do my True Colors inflict pain on others?  They sure do.

I see our church causing pain and damage.  I see people in pain and loneliness.  My True Colors have been to care and to reach out.  It turns out that my colors are scary, ugly and repulsive in the very community to which I have invested my all…and all my life.  How ironic that honesty and openness are not valued.

Complete Lyrics

You’ll see why they resonated…..until last night.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
Its hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
True colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

P.S.

I have dropped out of Facebook.  I don’t plan to share this particular blog post there. Openness is punished and I’m not feeling like more castigation right now.

Who knows, I may recover in an hour, or a week, or a year and be willing to show my True Colors again.  In the meantime, thank you for following my journey.  Godspeed in yours.

There Is a Green Hill Far Away

GreenHill

An Old Song

When I was a kid, primary was not on Sunday.  It was held every Wednesday, right after school.  I’d walk from E.M. Whitesides Elementary.  Pass Elm Street, where my house was.  Then enter the ward building.  It was literally in my backyard.  About a 20 minute walk, if I didn’t diddle-daddle.

I loved our primary songs.  Today’s modern songs have left those of my childhood in the dustbin of history.  That’s sad.

One Wednesday afternoon, the primary chorister introduced us to a new song.  Thinking of it now brings sweet tears to my eyes.  For several weeks, we practiced and practiced until we all knew it by heart.  At the time, I didn’t really understand the meaning of its words.  In my heart, I knew it meant something beautiful.  Even if I didn’t fully comprehend the content, the music itself spoke reverence and awe to my soul.

Finally, I am an adult.  Now, both the lyrics and the melody resonate with eloquence. Here are the gorgeous words from this primary song of my youth.

  • There is a green hill far away,
  • Without a city wall,
  • Where the dear Lord was crucified,
  • Who died to save us all.
  • We may not know, we cannot tell,
  • What pains he had to bear,
  • But we believe it was for us
  • He hung and suffered there.
  • There was no other good enough
  • To pay the price of sin.
  • He only could unlock the gate
  • Of heav’n and let us in.
  • Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved!
  • And we must love him too,
  • And trust in his redeeming blood,
  • And try his works to do.

A gorgeous song, with a gorgeous message.  Beauty intense enough to trickle tears into my eyes.

A New Song

Over the past couple of years, I have learned another song of beauty.  It’s not taught by primary choristers or priesthood instructors.  Nope.  Today, it’s only being taught by Jesus Christ.  Prominently and proudly proclaimed in the scriptures of the restoration.  Seemingly hidden in plain sight.

It’s a gorgeous song, with a gorgeous message.  Beauty intense enough to trickle tears into my eyes.  Both the lyrics and the melody resonate with eloquence.

Of course, I’m speaking of the song of redeeming consent.  Jesus called it common consent.  It pierces me to the core that God himself values my opinion.  He esteems my thoughts so much that he asks me to openly express them several times every year.  He has empowered me…..and you.  I’m just a lowly person-of-the-pews.  But, He is counting on me to sing the song of common consent as he has so kindly mandated me to do.

God is in the Dirt

dirt

I loved my Grandpa Jack.  He smoked.  He drank.  He enjoyed his coffee.  And….he was perhaps the best Mormon I have ever known.  He didn’t go to church.  I never really had any long conversation with him.  But, I knew the stories.  He was a man’s man.  Hardworking and generous.

Today, I had a conversation with a Facebook friend.  He shared a story about his grandpa.  It brought tears as I realized that the character of his grandfather had a lot in common with my Grandpa Jack.

My friend’s name is Ben Jarvis and here’s his grandpa’s story.

Twenty-two years ago, when I was talking to my 84 year-old, hard scrabble grandpa about being gay.  He said he didn’t raise his kids or grandkids to be second class citizens.  He expected me to fight for my rights, and when that was done, go fight for the rights of others…and to take on the world!  He was quite progressive for a man from SLC and the Uintah Basin.

Grandpa was very active in his ward, but he took the church on his own terms and always asserted his individuality and had strong sense of right and wrong.  He once clocked the stake president for stealing water out of turn. When the stake president came to, he had a shovel blade on his neck, with my grandfather, then an angry 12-year old, telling him the farm relied on water and he didn’t take kindly to water thieves. That would have been around 1921 or 1922.

In 1991, Gramp and I were working in his garden.  He started in on the church and about how some people get caught up in the temple or the idea they need to go somewhere to find God.  He then talked about the miracle of life and how he planted seeds that magically grew. “I don’t need to go to the temple to be with God. God is right here in the dirt.” Those were the words of a lifelong farmer.

My family got a lot of things right. I had the good fortune to come out to three of my grandparents; my maternal grandfather passed away before I came out.  My parents were big proponents of being honest about who we are, and encouraged LGBT people to come out and be visible.  When my nephew learned to speak and began presenting as female, mom and dad, along with my sister, embraced her and accepted her transition. My niece is now five years old.  Mom passed away last year, her granddaughter will grow up knowing her nana knew her, loved her, and was thrilled to have her as a granddaughter. We aren’t talking tolerance or tepid accommodation.  We are talking about unbridled love, acceptance, and the anticipation of a life filled with adventure, just like any of mom and dad’s other grandchildren.

I still can’t read this story without tearing up at the beauty of this whole family.  ‘Fight for your rights and then go fight for the rights of others.’  What an amazing legacy from Grandpa Jarvis.  A great man who found God in the dirt.

Ben, thank you, my friend, for sharing.

 

 

 

Bippity Bop…A Sin It’s Not

Bippity

Six thousand years ago, Adam and Eve were driven from paradise into the mortal space.  We Mormons have scriptures that shed light on these founders of the human race.  They were taught by God and angels.  Given counsel and commandments to embrace.  But, there was a glaring omission of something they were NOT told to stop.  Here, I’ll call it Bippity Bop.

Adam and Eve were warned, “Don’t eat that fruit.”  But, regarding Bippity Bop, the angels were mute.

Sixteen hundred years passed ’til the great flood doused the earth.  In Noah’s story there is no mirth.  Except for eight souls, all mankind became has beens….all because of plentiful sins.  But, not because of BB.  You see…from Adam to Noah, the big B-Bop was never forbidden by God.

The land dried out.  People began to sprout.  From Shem to Peleg.  Nimrod to Nehor.  Then Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob’s twelve more.  And what about Bippity Bop?  Nary a word from our Heavenly Pop.  He never commanded that it stop.

Three and a half millennia after Adam, Moses is rescued from the Egyptian river.  Finally, we’re at the most prolific law giver.  Ten signature commands on tablets were written.  You can see them all detailed from Exodus on.  Hundreds & hundreds of laws were spawned.  Ruling every aspect of the those who hold deity in awe.  All bound together, they’re called the Mosaic Law.  But guess what got missed.  You got it.  Not even a hiss of Bippity Boppity ever being dissed.

Fifteen hundred more years pass.  The Babe is born in the lowest class.  The most marvelous of teachings the world would ever hear, are now cherished and held mighty and dear.  Did He utter the phrase, “No B-Bop?”  Nope.  The author of all commands, big and small,  never mentions the B’s.  Nope, not at all.

Finally, the year 1820 is here.  The restoration, just getting into full gear.  The famine of God’s word, ends with a seer.  Revelation upon revelation.  Certainly, there will be a call for Bippity Bop’s cessation.

Joseph Smith?  Nope.  He never called for Bippity Bop to stop.

The Book of Mormon?  Certainly filled with lots of good stuff.  But, it ignores the Bippity, strangely enough.

Doctrine & Covenants?  As far as a commandment, the Bop is completely absent.

Six thousand years…He’s not a tyrant.  It’s time we pay attention to where God is silent.

From Whence Comes the Notion That Loads Bippity Bop with Such Emotion?

For 16 decades, the LDS church harbored racist teachings, doctrines and practices.  Where did they come from?  We have apostles.  Thanks to our current crop, we now know they were all just made up.  Simply plucked out of thin air…by men…former prophets.  Not from heaven.  Not from revelation.  Not from God.  Rather, it was our former prophets who put racist words into God’s mouth.  It was never God who was racist.  It was the leaders of His church.

Fortunately, we now condemn and disavow our racist past.  At the thought of our former teachings, we are now aghast.

Into God’s mouth we’ve put lots of words, in our historical past.  The words men insert, simply won’t last.

If you still think Bippity Bop is a sin, please go read the most correct book again.

Bippity Bopptiy Boo is natural for kids to go through.  And adults?  It’s even normal for them, too.

Bippity Boppity, Bippity Boppity, Bippity Boppity……

Boo!

Carol Lynn–I Love You

Carol Lynn Pearson

I am pumped at what I recently heard this gem of a human being just say in public.  It felt like she was talking directly to me, while staring me squarely in the eyes.  Her words were shared in a Mormon Stories podcast.  I’ve linked it HERE.  Her majestic words start around the 26:35 mark.

A question about humility was posed.  Her response surprised and delighted me.

“Humility should be blended with power.  I really believe that if more of us kind of kept our humility in one hand and in the other hand we developed some power and belief that we not only have the right, but we have the obligation of participating in a powerful way and speaking out and raising our hands and standing up.  And rising and objecting or affirming.  Or doing whatever we feel to do.  To blend our innate humility with some power that may be is foreign to Mormondom.”

To me, Carol Lynn is verbalizing Christ’s gorgeous Law of Common Consent.  The Savior empowered each one of us with the right and obligation to speak out, raise our hands and stand up.  This is His church.  He wants it governed according to His mandate.

The sidelines have been my companions for the past few months.  I’m ready to once again exercise my right and obligation and get back into the game.  I love the church enough not to leave it alone.

Thank…You…Carol…Lynn…Pearson!

“Protect the Good Name of the Church.” -Satan

PhariseesI’m starting to think, that as a church, we don’t believe in following the core teachings of Christ nor his example.  Follow the prophet…sure.  But, follow Jesus?

Minister to the “Least

I love the Savior’s parable about the preeminent importance of reaching out to “the least of these.”  Over the past 3 years, I have become associated with more and more members who are on the margins.  Rather than minister, we reject them.  We ignore them.  We silence them.  We force them to pursue their journey in pain and loneliness.  We bury our heads in the sand.  According to this beautiful parable, Christ would say to us,  “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Protect the Good Name of the Church

As a church leader, I heard this phrase many times.  I heard it again yesterday.

No way is this the embodiment of Christ’s example.  The babe was born in a lowly manger.  On a starry night.  Filled with peace and light.  But…he didn’t remain a helpless babe.  He grew into the wise, powerful and OUTSPOKEN adult, whose life and teachings we worship.  At least, we say we worship.

Where did He ever command, suggest or intimate that protecting the good name of the church was even a thing?  Never.  Instead, he called out the very top leaders of His church in unequivocal and embarrassing terms.  Here is a sampling of Christ’s words spoken directly to the church leaders of his time:   Fools.  Hypocrites.  Blind guides.  Whited sepulchers.  Murderers.  Generation of vipers.  In one chapter alone, he called the leaders hypocrites seven times.  Openly expressing disdain for these men, their traditions and their policies was a glaring hallmark of His ministry.

Suppose Jesus lived among us today.  If he were to openly criticize the church leaders in the same manner, He’d be excommunicated from His own restored church.  Much like He was 2,000 years ago.  Excommunicated by crucifixion, at the instigation of the highest leaders of the very church that He had founded through Moses.

Satan?

Christ did not author the sentiment, “Protect the Good Name of the Church.”  He exemplified the exact opposite.  So, who is the author?  Where is it found in scripture?  Where is it found in doctrine?  If our doctrine does endorse it, then our doctrine condemns the very Babe from Bethlehem whom we claim to follow.  I’m pretty sure Satan condemns the Babe from Bethlehem, too.

I have been told not speak out about the wrongs in our church.  I have been told to shut up and sustain the leaders.  I have been told not to criticize church policies.  Finally, many have said that if I continue on my current path, I’ll be excommunicated.

The next time any of these sentiments are expressed, this will be my response:

“I love you, my friend.  Apparently you and I worship a different Jesus Christ.”