Wednesday Words - the middle of the beginning
Picking up where I left off last Wednesday... there I was, learning that no one was perfect, that there were grey areas, that things are not always as they seem and all the adult-y type things that most people learn in their twenties and thirties. Things that had been germinating in my mind for a few years were starting to peek out again and ask for some time and air. Living abroad has given me many things, but one of them is the freedom to question and explore things that seemed off limits, like religion.
Starting while we lived in Boston, watching other people take a hiatus from the church, step back and ask questions, or admit that they were curious about why things were the way they were didn't produce the same double-down type response in me like it used to. Too many things had happened. I had gotten to know too many wonderful, loving people who didn't fit the mold of a "righteous" person for me to see things that cut and dried anymore.
I can site several events as important turning points in this religious journey of mine. One was several close friendships with gay mormon men that helped me understand what it meant to be gay and how painful it was to feel like they couldn't be mormon and themselves at the same time. Another was finding out through specific examples when religious leaders who portrayed themselves as infallible were revealed to be rather fallible indeed. Another was just waking up and realizing that women really do merit the same respect and opportunities as men and it didn't seem to be happening in my church.
During our first year in France, I watched as Kate Kelly, a feminist and mormon I admired ,led a daring women's movement. This group of women asked the leaders of the Mormon church to ask God if women could hold more leadership positions and even perhaps receive the priesthood. She was viciously maligned on-line by believing mormons and brought to a church court for possible excommunication. I remember not believing such an archaic and punitive punishment was possible for someone who was, in my opinion, asking questions that needed to be asked. The morning I saw the news of her excommunication I remember distinctly kneeling by my bed, still dripping wet from my shower and sobbing. I asked God what was happening. I asked myself how this could be interpreted as Christian. I wept, not because I knew her, but I wept for what that excommunication meant to me. It was signal. Curiosity, is not welcome if it is outside the prescribed bounds. I was stumbling under the weight of one more blow to my core principles.
With that soggy, grief filled morning at my back, I started to really look with fresh eyes at the institution that I had grown up with, the culture that nurtured me, and the principles upon which I had based many of my life decisions. I began with Joseph Smith. I began to use deductive reasoning instead of inductive reasoning. I went to primary sources when I could. His secretive practice of polygamy changed my perspective and my beliefs because I felt that with the weight of proof they had to change.
The flood gates had opened and I had a lot to figure out, not only about my church, but about myself. I have spent a lot of time doing so. I have prayed and meditated, and discussed and therapized and read.... and all of that has lead me to the end of the beginning; a new birth, a new path and what I feel, is a better place for me.