Monday, October 2, 2017

Responsible FAP

This past weekend was the general conference of the LDS church. Absent was The Prophet Monson and apostle Robert Dean Hales. Both were suffering the effects of living a long life. Hales succumbed to his condition on the 1st of October (just before the last sessions of the conference), and Monson, seeing how the condition is terminal, is expected to “pass on” someday in the near future. Stanley G. Ellis, Larry R. Lawrence and W. Craig Zwick, who are all old white men, were “released” as General Authority Seventies (GAS). There is no shortage of old white men in Utah so the conference rambled on in a fashion it has become accustomed to.

Bothe Hales and Monson are supposedly up for exaltation. This post-mortal condition is better than just salvation, and it apparently depends on families and covenants and commandments and secret handshakes. Whenever I try and unpack what is presented at the conference I am struck by the blurry lines between what is confusing and poorly worded, and what is code for something.

“While there are various kingdoms and glories our Heavenly Father’s ultimate desire for his children is what President Monson called ‘Eternal Life in The Kingdom of God’. Which is exaltation in families.” -- Dallin H. Oaks at the October 2017 general conference of the LDS church.

If one understands the metaphor Mark Twain used when he described the Book Of Mormon as being “chloroform in print” then one can get a great visual of the general conference by imagining it being “chloroform aerosolized in a large enclosed auditorium”. There may be something to the idea that the LDS church denounces coffee because of the number of Mormons who might, after a pre-conference quad espresso, realize that the reason the general conference proceeding had not made sense in the past was not just because they had been nodding off.

The coffee thing is quite the black hole of LDS doctrine. Rather than simply clarify what is wrong with coffee, and provide a clear understanding of what is ,and is not, ok, the LDS Church just kindof lets its members make up stuff as they go along. I think they call this “agency”. Agency is another black hole of LDS doctrine.

Even without clarification on the coffee issue there are numerous Mormons who drink enough caffeine in energy drinks to stay awake during the conference. Some of the people are even reporters who blow the lid off amazing revelations encoded in the rambling talks given by the divine old white men. This year’s big news was that the LDS church reaffirmed its support of families and being good parents and other good stuff, and it did this by reaffirming its eternal support for the document entitled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (FAP).

Most of my readers know that “reaffirming support for the family” is code for “ still hating same sex marriage and cohabitation”, and that cohabitation is added so that the speaker isn’t just talking about gays and is sounding like they are saying “the church hates gays”, which is really what they mean. Of course the church is only about love so where I say “hate” here I just mean love that looks, tastes, and acts a lot like what would be hate in any other non-divine institution.

Those reporters who were able to stay up enough to maybe understand the God-speak from the conference podium may have been able to stay awake for a number of reasons, not just what caffeine-laced liquids they may or may not have drunk. However, the only likely reason they would have even been interested in the conference was that they had already drunk the Kool-Aid of Mormonism. This means that articles (like the September 30th Peggy Fletcher Stack article in the Salt Lake Tribune) can unironically begin with statements like: “The LDS Church’s opposition to gay marriage is not born of a current legal or political position.” Does this mean that some Mormons might think that their church is opposing same-sex marriage just in contrarian response to Supreme Court decisions?

Reading the document that apparently spells out the whole “opposition to gay marriage” doctrine I am struck by the fact that it doesn’t ever actually say that same sex marriage is a bad thing. In standard limp passive aggressive language the FAP states things like “Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan”, and from this we are expected to understand that oxygen and honeybees are also essential, but gays are bad.

The FAP also talks about the specific gender roles in marriages, but notes that “circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation”, but apparently we are supposed to understand that a marriage with two partners of the same gender is not a circumstance that would require individual adaptation because of something.

Maybe this wishy-washy wording of the FAP is intentional, and that when enough of the old guard passes or is released as GAS the wording will allow the LDS church to restate its position while maintaining that it meant something nobody had realized all along. I think something like that approach worked for the Mormon stance on African-Americans back in the 1970s.

Were the FAP simply a private affair, or even if it was limited to where old white men whipped it out on the conference stage, then it wouldn’t be such an issue. Unfortunately the last line of the FAP is this:
“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” – from The Family: A Proclamation to the World (FAP) as revealed by Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley to the 23 September 1995 General Relief Society meeting.

And this obviously calls upon “responsible” people to do their FAPing in public.

I think the responsible thing to do is to keep your FAP at home or at church.

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