Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck

Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
by Martha Beck

As “Mormon royalty” within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Martha Beck was raised in a home frequented by the Church’s high elders in an existence framed by the strictest code of conduct. As an adult, she moved to the east coast, outside of her Mormon enclave for the first time in her life. When her son was born with Down syndrome, Martha and her husband left their graduate programs at Harvard to return to Utah, where they knew the supportive Mormon community would embrace them.

But when she was hired to teach at Brigham Young University, Martha was troubled by the way the Church’s elders silenced dissidents and masked truths that contradicted its published beliefs. Most troubling of all, she was forced to face her history of sexual abuse by one of the Church’s most prominent authorities. The New York Times bestseller Leaving the Saints chronicles Martha’s decision to sever her relationship with the faith that had cradled her for so long and to confront and forgive the person who betrayed her so deeply.

Leaving the Saints offers a rare glimpse inside one of the world’s most secretive religions while telling a profoundly moving story of personal courage, survival, and the transformative power of spirituality.

All righty. Above is the synopsis at Amazon. Now my comments.

First off, Beck is a funny writer. I love funny writers. Even though much of this novel isn't about funny things she manages to put her humorous twist in it. Sometimes it backfires on her when reviewers take some of what she says seriously.

The important church figure that was her father is Hugh Nibley, the most famous LDS apologist. Everyone in the church has heard of Nibley even though he was never an apostle.

Which is what makes this book so shocking. No one wants to think of the honorable Nibley as raping his own daughter. She frames it as a reenactment of Abraham being sacrificed as told in the Pearl of Great Price. It's a memory that she has long forgotten and then appears one day.

Her family has spoken out against this noting that in the small house they were raised in, with so many kids around it just wasn't possible. Added to that according to the family Beck leaves out the dabbling she did in hypnosis and other methods that have proven to produce false memories.

I don't like calling victims liars, especially when it comes to rape victims. However it does happen. Roseanne Barr accused her family for years and then later confessed that it was all a lie.

The other part that caused me to question Becks story had nothing to do with her father or abuse.

Beck worked at BYU and she tells of incidents where the church was cracking down on professors for their writing. That I believe. There are others who have said the same thing especially after the September Six fiasco.

Nope it's not that. It's her story that when she went into the expansive library at BYU she couldn't find a single thing on Sonia Johnson the Mormon Feminist who publicly supported the ERA and was excommunicated for it.

Now we're not talking just books here. Beck claims that even in the microfiche every reference to Johnson had been deleted from the newspapers.

How is that even possible? Johnson was a big name at one time and made national headlines. Even people outside of Utah knew about her.

I simply can't believe that the church hired people to extinguish everything ever written about Johnson. The task would be huge and have very little effect since someone can simply go to another library. It would be a useless exercise.

 What's more, I have read that others have found the information in the BYU library and even at least one book on her.

So I came to the conclusion that although the book is entertaining, it is not truthful.

So read it for fun, not for real information. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why I Have a Problem With This City Creek Center Ad

This is the ad for City Creek Center, a mall in downtown Salt Lake City. A mall which the LDS church built for billions.

But I'm not going to talk about the morality of  a church building a multi billion dollar mall.

I want to talk about this ad which advertises the mall. Not specific stores in the mall, but the mall itself.

Keep in mind that personally, I see nothing wrong with the way this woman is dressed. Her back is lovely. I see no immodesty. She looks elegant. Frankly, I wish I could look like that.

However, the church teaches that this is immodest. The church demands that those who go through the temple wear garments that would not allow this type of clothing. The church often asks young women to wear t-shirts and long shorts over bathing suits while at girls camp. The church has strict rules at BYU about clothing that doesn't even allow skirts above the knee with leggings.

Women in the church are told to keep their shoulders covered - no sleeveless, and their skirts and shorts to the knee or below. We even teach our children to cover up. No sundresses on little girls.

So how can the church justify this ad? Sure they're trying to appeal to people outside the church and there's no expectation that those outside the church should follow the same rules.

If this were an ad for a particular store I would see nothing wrong with it. The church doesn't own the stores, just the mall.

If this were an ad from a Mormon owned business, I would still have no problem with it. Mormons are free to run any ads they wish even if it doesn't jive with their own personal standards. They are free to sell alcohol they wouldn't drink or clothing they wouldn't wear. I don't see this as hypocritical because individuals are not the ones who tell others what to do and have followers who believe that following them is imperative to eternal life.

The LDS church on the other hand is a church. It has rules that it expects it's adherents to follow. Not only to follow but told that if they don't they put their eternal life with God in jeopardy. Included in that is the ability to go to the temple. To go to the temple you have to dress a certain way which would include covering up your back.

This beautiful young model in the lovely gown is not dressed in a way that meets the requirements of the LDS church.

Not only that, but it's unnecessary. It's not as if putting her in an elegant dress that does cover her is going to make people gawk and say "what is that weird thing she is wearing". It's not as if she needs to wear a burqa or a pioneer costume to sell City Creek Mall and meet the church standards. She can still wear church standard and look like a modern day woman.

So why the disparity? Why is the church using an ad showing a woman dressed in a way that would cause an LDS woman to get in trouble on the BYU campus, or frowned on at church or prevented from going to the temple?

Seems to me if they want members to do what they say, they should set the example.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Carol Lynn Pearson`s A Walk in Pink Moccasins

Fabulous post on Feminist Mormon Housewives by Carol Lynn Pearson.

A Walk in Pink Moccasins

I have lived 33 years in the church and have often had these feelings only to be slapped down by some well meaning woman and told that I wasn`t reading my scriptures or being spiritual or whatever.

It`s nice to be able to voice my opinions, although I still have to be careful at church. There`s no point in upsetting the apple cart when people want the apples. They don`t go to church to debate or question. They go to church to be told.

And really, I`m not interested in debates at church, I go to be spiritually fed. However I am open to new ideas. Or old ones that I haven`t heard about, or anything that isn`t the approved doctrine.

I bet church was a lot more interesting when everything wasn`t correlated and we weren`t told what to think.

I really love the concept of a Heavenly Mother and being a Priestess. I do not see how that takes away from men. If anything it makes us all more productive and powerful.

I don't understand how it's honoring Heavenly Mother to pretend she doesn't exist and refuse to speak to her. I would be so hurt if my children did that to me, and hurt more if my husband commanded it. I doubt Heavenly Father treats her that way, so why should we? Surely she is as much a part of our lives as He is and is a part in answering our prayers.

I'm thinking I'll start praying to her as well, but honestly it's hard when I've been so indoctrinated in the way of prayer.