Friday, November 1, 2013

Yes I am a Liberal Mormon - I Just Didn't Know There Was a Name For It

Meridian Magazine published a post from Joni Hilton that created such a commotion that it caused Meridian to take it down. I wish I could share that article with you but copywrite laws prevent me from doing so and I don't want lawyers breathing on me. I think it's better that you read it for yourself instead of my spin on it, but it can't be done.

So I will say this. Hilton wrote a horrible article that made a lot of presumptions about people with nothing to back it up.

I could write a post about everything that is so wrong about her article and pick it apart piece by piece, which I may do just so people can read it . Mainly she created two versions of Mormons, "The Good Mormon Camp" and the "Everybody that Doesn't Think Like Joni Hilton Bad Mormon Camp." But that isn't really the purpose of this post.

Frankly those of us who are "Liberal Mormons" hear this stuff all the time. Joni hasn't said anything new. We hear it in church conference. We hear it in sacrament meeting. We hear it in our classes at church. We read it in the Ensign. We hear it from other church members. What Joni said is the safe way to go at church and among church members.

Except it's not so safe on the internet. Because guess what? A lot of those liberal Mormons go to church  and do their callings and are in disguise as Good Mormons and don't say what they really think at church or even in their homes when their home/visiting teachers come but have no problems expressing quite different opinions on the internet.

So it must have been a shock to poor Joni to discover that she wasn't surrounded by high fives and hugs.

Meridian was faced with a difficult choice. They don't want to alienate their readers. Yet this is exactly what this article has done. They don't want to send their writer to the stocks to have tomatoes thrown at her. As a writer I appreciate a publishing company (however they publish) standing by their writers. I wouldn't want Meridian to abandon her. That seems unfair and not very Christ like. So they took her article down and then wrote another one to excuse it and assure everyone that we should love each other.

"You're Not a Member In Good Standing If..." by Maurine Proctor

Which caused another round of criticism because Proctor said that readers misunderstood Hilton.

Readers didn't misunderstand Hilton.

Other than that, Proctor wrote an article that was positive.

Frankly I think that Hilton's article should have stayed up. Along with all worthwhile comments (comments that attack the article and not Hilton, and are articulate).

I think that Proctor's article which speaks of loving each other, should not have referenced Hilton's or tried to make apologies.

I think Hilton should either be given the opportunity to fight for her stance, or apologize as she sees fit in the same place where she made her original statement.

Because you see, even though I don't agree or like what Hilton said, I believe in her right to say it. I want that. I want to be able to say what I think without having insults hurled at me, or be called names or be accused of who knows what. I want to be able to have constructive conversations - yes even with those who disagree with me. And because I want that for me, I want that for Hilton too.

I am currently at a state where I want to reclaim my spirituality. For me that means that I find God in my own way, and I recognize that others who disagree with me spiritually are not spiritually bereft, but are on their own spiritual paths. I believe that He tells each of us different things because we are each different. Are there absolutes? Absolutely. Jesus stated those absolutes in two commandments that encompass all others. But there is room for each of us to find our own way.

For some people it is following closely a church and what the leaders say and not questioning anything. Sometimes I wish I could be like that. It seems so much easier. I do not condemn others who choose to live that way. Life is hard. If it makes it easier for them, if it keeps them close to God, then who am I to say it's wrong?

But He gave me a questioning mind. And no matter how hard I tried to follow the path of least resistance, it didn't work out for me.

I am also choosing not to be offended by this article. Do I find it offensive? Yep. I understand why others are offended. But in this instance, I really don't care what Hilton thinks of me as a Mormon because I'm on my own spiritual journey and she has no idea what that means for me. I do not condemn her. Her experiences are hers, and mine are mine and she has come to her own conclusions and I have come to mine.

Instead I offer sympathy for her. Not in a "I feel sorry for you" way because that's a feeling of superiority and I don't feel that. I feel sympathy as a fellow writer. I can imagine what it would be like to write something you feel passionate about, something you feel will help others, something that you think will be received positively and instead you get slapped in the face, and in the head, and in the heart. I can imagine her shock, her hurt and her embarrassment.

And so I extend my hand to Joni, not because I agree with her, I don't. But because that's what we do when we love Christ. We extend our hand of love to those who are different from us. Joni, you are welcome to express an opinion on any one of my blogs - not that I expect you'll ever see this.

PS. I have found other blog posts that have reacted to this subject. I will link them here as I find them.

Dear Sister Hilton
I'm Joni Hilton's Computer
A Response to Joni Hilton's "Are You a Liberal Mormon"
Why Yes, I Am a Liberal Mormon
See the Bandwagon, See Ardis Jump on the Bandwagon

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Love trumps fear.

    Can we come up with something more easy for the jello salad set (no offense mom if you're reading)? Assigning the term "liberal" to us open minded mormons puts the emphasis on political discussion and does not distinguish us. I can't imagine using that term to describe my approach to faith, though I know I don't speak for all.