Monday, July 25, 2011

Mormon Boxing Day

In the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Boxing Day is celebrated the day or two after Christmas Day. It's primarily a day for shopping, very much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. In the UK, the tradition often includes actual boxes which contain gifts.

On this day after Pioneer Day, a uniquely Mormon holiday meant to commemorate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in what is now known as the Salt Lake Valley, I've thought up a new holiday for those with ties to Mormonism but who are less-traditional in their approach to the LDS Church.

I propose we celebrate Mormon Boxing Day. It would be a time to take down from the shelf those boxes in which we store our experiences, frustrations, good times, traumas and all the rest that come from our time as more traditional Mormons, whether or not we were ever true-believers. We don't have to take down all the boxes or completely unpack them. We can decide how much we deal with at any given time. We can also just recognize July 25 is the day for doing so, but just let the day pass for another year with the boxes undisturbed.

I first considered calling this "Happy un-Pioneer Day," but I really do value and honor the sacrifices of my ancestors who became part of the church in its formative years, who crossed the Great Plains in the 1840s, and who somehow carved out an existence in the middle of the desert. I don't want to disparage their sacrifices and integrity. Also, I didn't want the Lewis Carroll-esque "un-Pionner Day" name to make people think I was using opium during my blog writing time. (If I'm going to hallucinate, I want to be completely sober.)

One of the purposes of this blog is to examine and challenge what it means for me to have Mormon heritage, especially in light of being a gay man. Hopefully, this gives you, dear readers, something interesting to think about related to your own experiences in Mormonism. But as time goes on, I'm beginning to wonder how often I'm really going to be thinking about my Mormon existence of my own initiative. Knowing the kind of person I am, I'll always have reactions and responses to things that happen in Mormondom. But I think even the frequency and intensity of that will become smaller over time. So, setting aside one day per year as a possible time to sort through some things that I might use again, throw out or simply re-pack is something that appeals to me right now.

In any event, Happy Pioneer Day, one day late. Drive on.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shout It From the Rooftops

You may have heard or read about Ruth Sheldon, the town clerk of Granby, New York who resigned rather than issue marriage licenses to gay couples now that New York has expanded the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. If you haven't heard about Ms. Sheldon, click here for the story. You can also read about Laura Fotusky, the town clerk of Barker, New York, who also resigned for the same reason, by clicking here.
I pity Ms. Sheldon and Ms. Fotusky for blinding themselves to the realities of life, one of which is that gay people are normal and entitled to the same life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as anyone else. Of course, they're entitled to their beliefs. But it is sad that they see faith as something that should limit the rights and happiness of others. It seems to me that faith is primarily a way to find meaning in a difficult and often unfair world, as well as a way to find spiritual fulfillment. Still, it's their choice as individuals to rely on selective reading of the Bible like so many other people who claim to be Christian (but who, sadly, have too little to show for it).  
People reacting this way to a change in the law to expand civil rights is troubling. But I have to put this in perspective.

In the summer of 1963, the sitting governor of Alabama, George Wallace, personally blocked the doors of the auditorium at the University of Alabama in the hope of preventing four black students from enrolling, in arrogant violation of the law. He stood aside when confronted by U.S. Marshalls, the Alabama National Guard and the Deputy Attorney General of the United States. Thank all that is good in this world that we live in a country, though very imperfect, that is governed by the rule of law (even though the law is painful slow sometimes).

I think it's wonderful that the highest ranking public officials (so far anyway) to put up a formal fuss over issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in New York are the clerks of two towns with populations of, respectively, just over 7,000 and just under 600. And no law enforcement officials had to step in. Ms. Sheldon and Ms. Fotusky merely resigned.

I hope that the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family and the other self-loathing bigots shout Ms. Sheldon's and Ms. Fotusky's resignations from every rooftop they can find. I hope they find every public official or private citizen who thinks as Ms. Sheldon and Ms. Fotusky do, or reacts as they do and tell every soul they can find how outraged they are. Let the out-of-tune trumpets blast.
Why? Because most people in this country are finally beginning to see how petty and inhumane these people really are. To me, the louder they shout, the sooner the majority will stop listening.