I'm so, so glad I went. For a few reasons.
The only problem is that I wasn't used to these people, this segment of LDS society. I didn't know I'd ever find them in one room. I'm really unsure where to begin.
The sessions my husband and I attended:
Teen Marriage Age in Mormon Polygamy and in American Culture: What was the norm?
(pssst! it wasn't 14. or 15. or even 17.)
"I would confine them to their own species," LDS Historical Rhetoric and Praxis Regarding Marriage Between Whites and Blacks
The Plenary Lunch Session:
Where Big Love Began: The Inception of Mormon Celestial Marriage at Nauvoo, Illinois.
Having a very full plate in my lap, a coke in my hand, and sitting next to a great friend...well, I didn't hear nearly as much of this lecture as I would've liked. What I did grasp wasn't far different from what I've already learned, but suffice it to say I really, really want to get the speaker, George Smith's book entitled "Nauvoo Polygamy...but they called it celestial marriage."
A Marginal Moses: A Case Study in Canonicity, Historicity, and Revelation by Ben Clarke.
This session discussed how Joseph Smith's "restoration" of the Bible includes some errors - logistic, syntactical and otherwise - which the Bible itself still contains as translators continue to learn how to best read the original Hebrew.
As these same mistakes or mistranslations exist in both the JST and in the quoted verses within the Book of Moses, Joseph's "restoration" raises some questions. If this is truly a restoration, a correction inspired by God, one would think these wouldn't remain.
Mr. Clarke argues these issues marginalize the Book of Moses and further suggests we shouldn't take scripture as a whole so literally. He also predicted these changes would be included in the next edition of the LDS canon.
The Myth of the Missing Book of Abraham Papryus by Christopher Smith.
Chris' paper was more difficult for me to comprehend, but I believe I have the jist of it. His thesis was that, after extensive and logisical research, the only realistic explanation LDS have regarding the Book of Abraham (remember how we thought it was lost in the Chicago fire, but it wasn't?) is the so-called "Catalyst theory" - the new explanation which states that the papryus, which had nothing to do with Abraham, instead inspired Joseph Smith to write the Book of Abraham. The evidence suggesting Joseph Smith translated anything from any papyrus is slim to none.
Developing Personal Spirituality
(This session was far too short - we were just getting into it as time ran out. Among the three panelists was Maxine Hanks of the infamous heretical September Six. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so excited to learn this, but I was. I wish she would've spoken more.)
Interesting! Imagine a place where a Mormon felt free and comfortable to say they considered themselves a "Catholic Mormon" a "Buddhist Mormon" or a "Unitarian Mormon" - or even a gnostic, as Maxine identified. People who feel free to take truth where they find it. The idea is still so foreign to me and I know it would be shot down here in two seconds flat. I'd see the bishop faster than I could blink.
Find truth somewhere else, as if it needs supplementing? Nononono, we have all the truth here. They're the ones who could use of our truth. All truth is ours, after all. /sarcasm
That was the last full session I was able to attend. I came down with a buddng migraine and I could hardly keep my eyes open. Thankfully we were able to return for the last 45 minutes or so of the closing plenary session entitled Proposition in all Things: Post Election Perspectives on 8.
I sat by George during this session and listened to the speakers. Among them was Laura Compton, spokeswoman for Mormons for Marriage and Clark Pingree, an openly gay LDS man - the only two I had the pleasure of hearing.
Laura's speech basically reiterated the spread of where most "no" and "yes" votes came from, comparing and contrasting 2000's Prop 22 and last year's Prop 8. She called for greater organization this time around - in 2010 there may be two initiatives on the ballot regarding marriage: one calling for the term "marriage" to be absolved and for all partnerships to be called "domestic partnerships" (so romantic) and the other is simply to overturn Prop 8.
The idea that my marriage could be referred to so coldly as a domestic partnership didn't sit right with me. This surprised me. If it doesn't sit right with anyone else, they should then consider what a gay couple feels when they're told they cannot have the term "marriage" either.
Clark Pingree's speech, though nothing I hadn't heard before, moved me. He spoke of the struggle so many gay LDS go through, the ridiculous notion that he might hurt anyone. He wondered quite reluctantly how many young LDS committed suicide last summer when the Church pulled it's "we love you but hate who you are" rhetoric and closed with the horrific rollercoaster of emotions on November 4 and 5: the elation of President Obama's election and then the sickening feeling when one realized Prop 8 won.
I leaned over and whispered to George that we all felt it, but suddenly realized as sick as I felt, he must have felt a hundred times worse. After all, this doesn't affect my marriage or potential for one. His domestic partnership from Oregon didn't even transfer to California when he and his boyfriend moved back. Ridiculous!
After this, I have a greater resolve next year to stand up and be not afraid. To write letters. Discuss with family. The new young women's value is "virtue" and I consider standing up for what one believes in to be a virtue, even if the Church doesn't think what I stand for is virtuous. The Church has no monopoly on the definition of virtue. What constitutes virtue, like anything else in this world, is subjective. There can be a common foundation, but in the end "what is right/what one believes in" is subjective. And "subjective" is hardly a bad word.
It was so good to see George. I also met Alan of Scrum Central, which was a lot of fun. I'm only sorry I didn't get to speak with him more.
It was so exciting to meet and see all of these people I've read about and discussed, to know there's a place where my ideas aren't shut down as antagonistic. I do get angry, but in the end there's a source, a reason. My anger is my own to deal with - but the substance behind that anger, which drives it is viable. It's real. And really, in the end, I'm more angry with myself and how others I love are conditioned to treat me when I don't parrot what is socially acceptable.
And it gave me so much to talk about over the next few weeks.
One last thing struck me: The prayers. The hymns. Exactly the same and yet so different. No rameumptoms (yes, I do think we've a tendency in our invocations/benedictions) and the openness of all the people there: it didn't matter who was a "nevermo" (never mormon), "exmo" or just plain "mo" - the material was what mattered. Truth was what mattered. Discussion without censorship is what mattered.
Rebel Girls in a Boys Club Church
5 days ago