Hurricane Harvey–Father Denied Access to Missionary Son

IMG_0193.JPG

I am so disappointed in the church.  The leaders say obedience is the first law of heaven.  Then they openly disobey and lead the members to follow them in disobedience.  Bible and Book of Mormon history is playing out all over again in these latter-days.

As a big part of the restoration, Christ detailed important commandments for the governance of the church.  Perhaps the most plain and prominant is the Law of Common Consent.  Scriptural, doctrinal and prophetic descriptions can be found HERE.

A Slap in the Face of a Hurricane

Today, I became aware of a situation in my home town of Houston, Texas.  It involves a father, John O’Conner, and his full time missionary son.

Friday night, around 10pm, the massive hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast.  With all its Category 4 fury.  Dire predictions of catastrophic damage have been a constant drumbeat all over the news.  The National Weather Service has bombarded our cell phones with incessant tornado and flash flood warnings.  This situation can be scarey…even to hurricane veterans.  Especially, when Catetory 4 and tornado are in the same sentence as the word hurricane.

Twelve hours before landfall, this dad contacted the mission president, asking for his son’s phone number.  To me, the ensuing email thread is disturbing.  As you’ll see, it was highly distressing to the dad.  You can read through it HERE.

I don’t know exactly why John wanted so badly to contact his son.  I can only spectulate.  But, it shouldn’t matter.  This is the head of the family.  Aren’t we a family church?  At least, we used to be.

Just so you know, Mr. O’Conner gave his consent to have this email exchange published.  Here is what he had to say:

I’m for complete transparency.  Please share. My goal at this point is to expose the policy as a dangerous one that isolates parents from their children during stressful and dangerous times. The policy is at fault and needs discussion. The MP’s insistence on it at this time is inappropriate, stress-inducing, and incredibly inconsiderate and irresponsible.

I agree with John.  Transparency in the church it terribly lacking and desperately needed.   I also want to commend this dad for being willing to stand up for his family and for other families that will be affected by this policy in the future.  A good father and a courageous man.

Elder Holland

In last April’s General Conference, Elder Holland gave a beautiful & impassioned plea for “each one of us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir (the church).”  And then this caveat:  “In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments.”

So, if we don’t honor His commandments is there no place for us in the choir?  Let that sink in.  Most everybody is dishonoring Jesus Christ’s sacred law of consent.  Maybe it’s time to make a decision.  You either want no part of common consent and you ought to leave.  Or you are ready to take on the right and obligation that the restored gospel places squarely on your shoulders and you start to vote.

John O’Conner found himself facing a troubling policy that has NEVER seen the light of common consent.  PUT….IT….UP….FOR….A….VOTE.  Something like this, “It is proposed that at times of catastophic disaster, parents are to have no contact whatsoever with their children on missions.”  Really?  Who is going to vote for a policy like that?

This dreadful policy doesn’t have John’s consent.  It doesn’t have my consent.  It doesn’t have anybody’s formal consent as mandated by Jesus Christ.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Racism

Black and White
Black and White

First, to my mom and dad:  Thank you for not teaching racism in our home.  I don’t remember any denigrating remarks, whatsoever, regarding other races.  Today, that means the world to me.  It’s one of the many reasons that I love you.  Unfortunately, I was schooled in racism by the LDS Church and its doctrines.  I embraced them fully for 62 years of my life.

Second, to my friends whose gorgeous skin color is not white:  I write this as a confession, in hopes that my mind can be reformed in the last decades of my life.  I hope to not offend any person, or any race.  With tears in my eyes, I know that I’m taking a risk.

Black People & LDS White Supremacy

Until four years ago, the church taught that black people were not valiant in the pre-earth life.  Punishment for their non-committal was the black skin they were born with.  It was a curse.  It was easy to see who was stalwart in the pre-existence.  White—valiant.  Black—nope, they were cursed.  I am a white man.  That meant I was better than black men….going all the way back before we were born.

In December 2013, the church published the essay entitled Race and the Priesthood.   For the first time, our past racist teachings, doctrines, and practices were officially disavowed and condemned!!!  Previous prophets were thrown under the bus.  As they should be.  Many of their words are super offensive.  Super racist.  I’m not going to repeat them here.  Fortunately, they have now been condemned.

But dammit, for 62 years I believed this crap.  I knew without a doubt that it was true.  After all, it had been spoken by the prophets who would never lead me astray.  How do you get your head free from 62 years of indoctrination?

Well…the official condemnation has helped.  Thank you very much.

But…..LDS Church…..you have not atoned for your racist sins, yet.  You are hiding the Race and the Priesthood essay.  Some will say that it is not hidden.  Of course it is.  The General Authority in charge of the church history department even admitted as much.  Most members don’t know it exists.   If one does know, it’s hard to find.  And…you have to know exactly where to look.

I will view my church as The Church of White Supremacy until it makes our condemnation and disavowal in public, where all the members can hear and understand.  That includes General Conference talks by apostles and study in our classes on Sunday.

On August 13, 2017, the Mormon Newsroom released this statement:  “White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful.”   How ironic that we taught white supremacy for at least 170 years.  Seventeen decades of morally wrong and sinful teachings and practices.  If we don’t start condemning our past from the pulpit, we are no better than the pharisees of whited-sepulcher infamy.  Christ called them hypocrites.  What would He be calling to us today?

Brown People and LDS White Supremacy

I can’t speak for anyone but myself.  I don’t purport to represent the feelings of any descendants of Native American peoples.  In my past life, I referred to them collectively as Lamanites.  I don’t do that anymore.

From childhood through adulthood, I was taught that the ancestors of the American Indians were wicked.  Since they were bad people, God turned their skin from white to a dark and loathsome color.  Not just dark, but loathsome!  When the brown people started being good, their skin turned white.  When they were bad again, their skin changed back to dark and loathsome.

When I was younger, the Prophet pronounced that believing ‘Lamanite’ children had already turned “several shades lighter” than their unbelieving parents and siblings.

This is all so damned racist.  It makes me cry at the effects that these horribly bigoted beliefs have had….on me.

For what I say next…I ask forgiveness in advance.  If you can’t forgive me, I completely understand.

This morning, I read a Facebook comment made by a friend.  Among other things she said that she had married a Mexican man.  The very….first….thought….that popped into my head was, “She settled for second best.”  Thinking that she had not married a white man.  The thought couldn’t have lasted more than a second.  Then I caught myself.  Then I cried and thought, “Hell, I’m not racist, am I?  I know that my white skin does not make me superior.  Brown skin, black skin, white skin are beautiful manifestations of the glory of God’s diversity.”  Nevertheless, the grotesque notion had crossed my mind.

All my life, I have lived with the Book of Mormon precept that brown skin was a curse from God.  Today, that’s laughable.  Except it’s not.  It’s still lodged in some distant & ugly corner of my brain.

This racist teaching has not been disavowed nor condemned by the Mormon Church….yet.  It should be.

So…today…I publicly disavow and condemn ALL the Mormon teachings regarding skin color being a curse.  Including those contained in the Book of Mormon.

I don’t know if this statement will finally sweep away my hideous cobwebs of racism.  Cobwebs that are mostly hidden even from myself.  Cobwebs that I’m now exposing to the light of day, in hopes that they will be totally burned away.

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.  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 mortal space.  Destined to be founders of the human race.  God and angels gave them 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…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…who were 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 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!