In other news, I guess I have enough brain power to talk about this excommunication thing. Normally, I'd hesitate to mention the names of the people involved for privacy reasons, but since they went to the press themselves, I hesitate to mention their names because they seem to want attention and now I don't want to give it to them. We're contrary like that. And now the story is out there and people are talking about it, so I feel like we should add our two cents, for what they're worth (two cents, I guess).
I guess (I guess I'm doing a lot of guessing) the main problem about the whole issue...oh right, I should probably clarify what the issue is first. Two very outspoken members of the LDS Church have been summoned for disciplinary...disciplinary...council? It's something that doesn't come up a lot, and usually when it does come up, it's a very very private matter, so I don't know the official terminology, but basically, they're going to present their cases to their local leadership, who will decide whether or not they should be excommunicated. One of the people facing these hearings is someone who's been questioning church doctrine and leadership publicly for a while, and the other is the founder of a prominent movement.
So now you have vicious comments on both sides. On the one side, you have the people who are all, "I knew they were heretics! They're finally getting what's coming to them!" and on the other, there are the people who are like, "I knew the Church would kick out anybody who asked too many questions! They hate independent thought!" And I'm pretty sure most of us in the middle are just shaking our heads and sighing.
We've been sort of following the issue via Facebook, mostly because a cousin of ours is friends with one of the soon-to-be-disciplined, so a lot of that guy's posts show up on our feed, along with a bunch of other blog posts about what's going on. From what we've read, it looks like this guy's been saying for a long time that he doesn't really believe in the Church's doctrine anymore, he hasn't been going to church, and he even asked his bishop to stop people from contacting him for church-related reasons, including home and visiting teaching. For all intents and purposes, he's already left the Church. And for some reason, the private email he got from his stake president (the one about the disciplinary council) has been posted to the internet, so we've read that, too. Basically what it seems to say is, "So your bishop tells me you're publicly stating that you don't believe in the Church, and that you want your records removed. Is that true? I don't recommend it, but if that's what you want, we'll make it happen. On the other hand, if it's not what you want, we're going to need to have a disciplinary council to talk about your apostasy."
That last part sounds pretty harsh, especially in our church, where "apostasy" is almost like a four-letter word. What the word means is "a total departure or desertion from one's religion," which seems to be something this guy has already done. So yes, he does have a website where he questions things about the Church, and where he gives voice to Church critics, and while that might be a factor in his stake president's decision to suggest a disciplinary hearing, it really seems to me that the reason for the hearing is more that he's pretty much left the Church already, and needs to follow certain steps if he wants to come back. Even if it is because of his website, is it really that out of line for an organization to say, "You know, if you're going to go around telling people how terrible you think we are, we would appreciate it if you wouldn't say you're with us."
I think the other person facing discipline is probably getting more attention from people outside the Church, because of her organization trying to get women ordained to the priesthood. It's a little harder for me to address her issue, because we're not getting all of her Facebook posts via our cousin. From what we've read, I do think her local leaders were pretty cowardly in how they dealt with the situation--not confronting her about the issue at all until she moved away--
If we were to guess (and this is pure speculation), they had probably been wondering how to deal with it for a very long time, and then she moved. When a member of the Church moves, they're supposed to get their records transferred to their new ward, along with a note from the bishop saying they're in good standing. So this woman moves, the bishop's like, "Uh...I don't know if she's in good standing!" and so, at an extremely inconvenient time, they decide to have a church court to get a definitive answer to the question.
Of course, what more people are interested in is the issue she's being called out on--trying to get women ordained to the priesthood. This is an extremely controversial topic in the Church, as I'm sure anyone who's read anything about it already knows. As for us personally, we're not in favor of it. Athena's stressed out enough as it is with the callings she has, and I'm extremely grateful that I play the piano, because I would be a happy camper if pianist/organist was the calling I had for many many years to come. This woman's organization says that women want more responsibilities in the Church, and we're like, "Um...we've got plenty, thanks!" (It also says that women have no say in what goes on in the Church, which is not very true at all, because many ward councils (the people who meet every week to figure out what all's going on in the ward and what all the ward should do) have more women than men in attendance.)
I have more thoughts on that, but it's not really the point. Lots of women have addressed concerns about how women are treated in the Church, and the leaders are taking steps toward making things better. The problem is the way this one woman is going about it--it seems very militant and demanding. That might be an unfair assessment, but it's definitely the impression we get. The other thing is, she says a lot of things about the priesthood that aren't really true, and serve no purpose but to rally people to her side. And because of the things she's saying, people that might otherwise see the good in the Church are starting to think, "Oh...this is a bad church. It's full of Manly Men who hate and oppress women." As women in the Church, we don't feel oppressed at all, and when we have trouble with men in the Church, our first thought is not, "Oh, they think they're so much better because they have the priesthood!", it's, "Wow, somebody is not listening to what they're being taught at church."
So anyway, I guess the main thing we want to say is we believe that the LDS Church does not hate independent thought. Also, these people haven't even been excommunicated yet. They're being given a chance to make their cases. If they do end up excommunicated, it's not just because they questioned the leadership. There's more to it than that. And most importantly, if they are excommunicated, that doesn't mean anybody's going to stone them. If people start throwing rocks, it's because they haven't been listening to what they're being taught at church.
Okay, so I don't know if that made any sense or not, or if it really means anything, but there it is.
Today I'm thankful for Page using her window perch, finishing work a little early today, Athena's AX industry registration getting approved (we may have to email them about mine), getting to watch more Sailor Moon last night, and solidifying our plans to go on an epic adventure on Thursday.