Monday, July 27, 2015

No mention of Christ?

I noticed that Kate Kelly doesn't really talk about Christ. Or Jesus. Or the atonement.

Yes, she's back. The lady who pushed Ordain Women, much to the chagrin of women all over the world who want to be taken seriously by other humans.

Ms. Kelly recently published an editorial encouraging people to abandon the church. "Hey--it's nice out here," is her basic message. "Come out and test the waters. It's so warm and safe and pretty."

But some of the things Kate Kelly says in her editorial are particularly "tricky" or troubling, undermining her invitation to leave for greener pastures, but also revealing and underlying lack of testimony that is not new to her writing, but is more apparent than ever before.

For example, Ms. Kelly says, "The decision for a person to stay active in the Mormon church should be based on an honest evaluation of its benefits."  This would be reasonable if you were joining a gym or a quilting club. But for a church, the standard is much higher. It would be better to ask, "Is this true?"

Ms. Kelly also says, "I encourage Mormon women to ask themselves a similar question: does my participation in Mormonism spark joy?"  That's a popular standard for decluttering a house (although flawed for that, too--whoever thought food storage or extra batteries 'spark joy'?).  But childbirth does not spark joy, and it's worth every minute of the pain. Getting up to nurse all night does not spark joy. Cleaning toilets does not spark joy. Catching a child's vomit does not spark joy. Stepping on legos in the night doesn't spark joy. Having a child scream mean things at you for hours does not spark joy. Watching your child cry in pain or sorrow that you can't fix does not spark joy. There is not greater pain than parts of parenthood. But parenting is the most valuable, rewarding, important thing I've ever done.  "Spark joy" is a stupid standard for deciding whether you want to participate in religion. Whether or not something sparks joy has nothing to do with how valuable it is in your life.

Ms. Kelly says, "It has been indescribably freeing for me to stop believing that men have control over whether or not I go to heaven."  What?! I have no idea where she got that idea. Men never did have control over whether she goes to heaven. Unless she means God and Jesus, and they're doing everything they can to get her in, not keep her out. But getting to heaven is up to her, not men. And it always has been.

Ms. Kelly says, "I don't wish for Mormon women to follow me — or to follow anyone. I want them to follow their own hearts, aspirations and dreams." First of all, that's a lie. She does want women to follow her. Her actions make that abundantly clear. But, aside from that, really, shouldn't we want people to follow Jesus? Our thoughts, aspirations, and dreams often lead us to places we end up not wanting to be. Jesus is a better guide than we are ourselves. We're too blind. He can see more and farther--and He loves us.

Ms. Kelly says, "Put your faith in yourself and in women."  Not in God? Not in Jesus? And what makes women any more worthy of our faith than men? They're all human, and humans don't have a great track record when it comes to being worthy of our faith.

Ms. Kelly says, "You can remove your name from the records of the church as a way to communicate to male church leaders why they can't keep you or others like you." See how she's all caught up in who has the power? The church leaders aren't trying to "keep you" (male or female leaders).  They are trying to offer you something they find immensely valuable. If you don't want it, that's fine. They won't hate your for that.

Ms. Kelly says, "let church leaders know what the cost of their rigidity is."  Clearly she does not believe what they have been saying all this time:  they aren't being rigid; it's Jesus who is not bending to Ms. Kelly's will. The leaders are bound to follow Jesus. (Now, it's another question entirely whether you believe the apostles have access to Jesus and are following Him. But she's skipping that part.)

Ms. Kelly says, "Male leaders colonized our minds to make us think we had to play by their rules to be taken seriously." Nobody has colonized my mind. Who is she letting in to her head? (It sounds to me like feminism has colonized her mind, urging her to see oppression where it does not exist, and trying to convince all people everywhere that "patriarchy" is evil no matter what, even if God is the patriarch and Jesus is the one in charge....)

You can read her latest public "speech" (letter to the editor) here. It reminds me of a speech given many, many years ago in ancient America.

If you don't already know which ancient speech I'm referring to, I'll quote an excerpt for you. Here is Korihor:

"I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words. Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true.... And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be." (Alma 30:23-24, 27-28)

Except for two things:
1. Kate Kelly doesn't deny God exists. She just insists we all don't understand Him.

2. Korihor spent a long time trying to convince the people that Jesus didn't exist. Kate Kelly just conveniently ignores Jesus altogether. She is not interested, apparently, in humility and repentance, but in who has the power (as she perceives it) and how she, personally, can get it away from them as fast as possible. And she's led a lot of "women, and also men" astray with her "great swelling words," just like Korihor.

I remember being quite distressed by my English teachers at BYU--until I found Korihor's teachings in Alma 30 and realized modern feminism, the way it's taught by a lot of people, is just the same doctrines with fancy new catchphrases.

And Kate Kelly's stuff is right in there, too. It makes me sad for her. But if she wants to walk away, that's her choice. Really, she left a long time ago. She's just formalized it now.


Catherine Carlson said...

I only read the headline and had the same reaction to the spark joy idea. Sometimes my marriage doesn't spark joy, so I should just walk away, right?

Anonymous said...

First of all, that's a lie. She does want women to follow her. What makes you believe that you know her more than she knows herself? Why can't you believe that she really doesn't want women to follow anyone?

The science of psychology tells us that any topic which elicits a primarily emotional response are difficult to approach rationally. It's apparent from your post that you have an emotional connection to the LDS Church, but try, for a moment to put yourself in her position. Suppose that you have come to the conclusion that the LDS church is not true. What do you do?

Kate was excommunicated in absentia by LDS leaders. Perhaps this started her questioning whether the LDS leadership is actually is inspired by God, or perhaps it started earlier when she had a legitimate concern and began to raise the ire of the leadership. You might at some point begin to recognize how much of the church teachings--racism, polygamy, blood atonement--are, in fact, the ideas of men. You might begin to question how much of the LDS canon you reject before you reject the church altogether.

Perhaps you would retain some belief in Christ, perhaps not.

As you move from LDS belief to a more common christian view, you change a lot of your beliefs. If the LDS church is false, then the LDS concept of the atonement--which is almost completely different from the christian view--is also suspect. You lose the dogmatic belief in a single true church or creed. You lose the idea of priesthood authority--that is, the authority given to men.

In fact, you begin to recognize how the teachings of the church have restricted and constrained you in ways that you no longer appreciate, and you select your belief based on personal utility. You begin to re-evaluate the teachings from your childhood, and you reject those which have no evidence, no utility, or which harms.


I think that you know better than to resort to ad hominem attacks, and assuming that you know better than Kate what motivates her strikes me as arrogant.

It is much better to engage the essay. Consider the audience and the question. She is responding to herself, widely quoted as saying "Don't leave. Stay, and make things better." Kate then goes on to say that since leaving church she has decided to "Stop believing things that are not true", and has discovered her realization that the church is not true, and the liberating feeling that resulted. In that context, she says, "If the church does not "spark joy" in you, leave with your head held high."

I think that Kate absolutely has an agenda, but perhaps it is to tell women that they don't need to follow anybody, and can choose for themselves how to be happy.

Becca Jones said...

I seriously hesitate to publish (and might yet delete) any comment that is anonymous. Anonymity does not invite civil discourse--it allows you to say things you normally wouldn't say to my face, and it allows me to feel justified tearing you limb-from-limb in reply. Further, it's a sneaky move to let your anti-mormon friends know that this is a place to go fight, and I am not interested in opening my blog up to bloggernacle kinds of behavior.

Read for more information about why this makes sense. My brother Jon is wise, and I stand by his words and apply them to my blog as well.

Why? Well, let's use your comment as an example:

I do not find this comment relevant to my blog post at all, but you didn't have to take responsibility for it because you hid behind the A-word.

I don't find speculation about Ms. Kelly's background or heart applicable to anything at all or worth dealing with as it is entirely speculative.

I don't buy your argument that emotion has no place in discourse, or the implication that you are emotionless and rational and I have emotion and therefore am irrational (which argument is, by the way, highly offensive to feminists and one of the oldest arguments against women in existence. Thanks for nothing.) Or the further implication that only rational minds have a place in discourse, and therefore all religious people must shut up because they don't know what they are talking about because religious feelings are based in emotion and not thought (which isn't true anyway). Emotion is infused throughout our existence, and you are misapplying whatever psychological study you seem to have read by using it to reject any argument you don't want to engage with, claiming they are "emotional" and therefore not worth considering (Wow, that is such an old, anti-woman argument. I still can't believe you tried to use it on a woman. So offensive.).

(more in the next comment)

Becca Jones said...

I appreciate you have a testimony that the Mormon church is not true and feel compelled to bear your testimony at all times and in the most inappropriate places. If we are going there, you clearly have emotional feelings that cloud your rational thinking and should get that fixed. In other words, testimony is almost always rooted in emotion AND thought, and there is nothing wrong with that, but your entire post, following that comment about emotion, boiled down to the pot calling the kettle black.

And I find it astonishing and somewhat disingenuous that you would claim that someone who established a movement and encouraged people from all over the world to put up profiles on her site and follow her (physically and spiritually) in protesting against the church, and who has actively tried to lead people away from church activity, does not actually want people to follow her. Her article in the paper was a call to follow her. That was the PURPOSE of the article--to lead people out, even if she "humbly" stated that wasn't what she was trying to do.

How interesting that you resorted to an ad hominem attack to make a point that I should not discuss the motivations of public people, which you called an ad hominem attack.

I appreciate your condescension. It makes your entire argument unnecessary to address. Your tone proves it was not your intention to ask questions, engage in discussion, or even state a thought. And as your intention was not anything but to try to embarrass me publicly, and as everyone else can see your arguments are baseless, I didn't really have to reply at all, and certainly have no intention of going point-by-point and disputing the nonsense in your comment.

I believe I did engage the essay, by the way. Quote by quote.

And in case you missed my point, Korihor in the Book of Mormon is an Anti-Christ, and the people responded to him by NOT LISTENING. That was my point about Kate Kelly, and I choose to make that point about you, too.

I only responded to Ms. Kelly's article in a blog post at all because I have teenage children, and sometimes someone has to stand up and point out eloquent untruths so people who are searching are not deceived.

And now, to make it perfectly clear, this is my living room and I am not doing anonymous comments. Comments are all moderated, and I will no longer publish anonymous comments.

Becca Jones said...

Also, this blog post was read by 15 people. This isn't an appropriate or effective venue for your work.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that comment clearly touched a nerve. I'm sorry. My intent was not to offend, but in most kinds of digital medium the received tone is much more difficult to convey.

Have you had an influx of "anti-Mormon" posts since my response? I certainly haven't advertised this as a "place to go fight".

I did not claim that emotion has no place, but rather that when a subject elicits a strong emotional response we engage physically different parts of the brain, and the emotional response often obscures our ability to consider other viewpoints. This is the same response which leads both the far left and the far right to dogmatic political positions.

I think that there is a difference between establishing a movement with a goal--even providing leadership for it--and telling people to follow her. Yes, she communicates her goals, and allows people to align themselves with them or not (I do not), in contrast to the LDS church teaching that you should "Follow the prophet".

I can certainly see parts of the comment which you would consider condescending--i.e. the line It is much better to engage the essay would probably have been better left out.

The idea that anonymous comments encourage uncivil discourse is a strong meme on the internet, particularly with various news sites disabling comments, and with Facebook and others using a real name policy. I think that anonymous vs. non-anonymous comments are, for the most part, incidental to the question of civility.

Anonymous comments are often used by excluded groups--in many cases, women--as a means to avoid exposure. See this nice piece from the New Yorker on the topic:

However it is your blog, and you should feel free to moderate and reject anonymous comments as you see fit.

Becca Jones said...

You responded nicer than I did.

That was quite noble of you and I am trying to learn from your example there.