Archive for category Polygamy
Imagine the material yet to come.
“I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn’t easy for any of us.” – Ann Romney, Apr 23, 2012
On cue and without any sense of irony, Joe Cannon in this morning’d D-News published the editorial Mormons are entitled to defend their freedom of religion. The editorial begins with a brief paragraph describing Dallin Oaks’ speech on religious freedom then offered a swipe at critics of the speech:
Read the rest of this entry »
What I can’t understand is why Republicans can’t see it, the answer to all their problems, the answer that God has been holding out to them on a platter and fairly shoving up their noses, those long and elevated noses, since the 1850s. Why let a handsome, Bible-quoting, southern gentleman like Mark Sanford, who clearly has a knack with female voters and who apparently has lingual talents no one knew about, go down in flames? Why let a little problem like an errant, headstrong zipper in search of a soulmate ruin a stellar career? Why let an obsessive compulsion for crossing the line prevent God’s anointed from running the country?
Such a waste of talent in a waste of shame! Such a waste because so unnecessary when there is a way out. As Sanford himself says, King David shows the way. His zipper went wandering and he wasn’t forced to resign (it’s good to be the king). Not to quibble, but I think the figure Mark really should consider is the less tragic but more satisfied Solomon. There’s far more extensive precedent for crossing the line in his case, without the unfortunate adultery and murder that make David such a clay-footed paragon. Satisfying if not inspiring, a biblical role model is a biblical role model. So here we have it at last: state-approved, divinely sanctioned marriage between one man and one thousand women.
Which brings me to my good, if more modest, news from the New Israel. Well-placed sources inside LDS church headquarters tell me that a big headliner is in the works:
“LDS Church Brings Back ‘The Principle’ to Help Party”
To clarify, the party in question is a noun not a verb, and the noun refers not to Bacchanalia along the lines of Spring Break or Mormon General Conference but to that bastion of moral and political solemnity, Hizbullah, or the Party of God, the party of Dick Cheney, who, like Yahweh, “brings his own cloud of darkness with him” and of Mark Sanford, who wishes he could be caught up in such a cloud. The Principle in question is of course plural marriage, the biblically-sanctioned, Mormon-refined get out of jail card for sons of God, who, in Sanford’s immortal words, are driven by forbidden, tragic love to cross the lines over and over again with the daughters of men. This is the program God has instituted for those spiritually gifted but historically challenged leaders for whom crossing the Rubicon is a regular form of recreation. This is the program for those aging Peter Pans, who, while nightly crossing their Rubicons and thinking all the while about Zeno’s paradox, keep asking their bedmates, “Are we there yet.” This is the program for those defenders of family values who are constantly struggling to fall in love with the wife of their bosom and for whom the marriage of one man to one woman is “the larger walk of faith,” the straight and narrow way more commonly known as “walking the plank” or “the longest mile.” In short, this is the answer for God’s Erect whose penises go walkabout in the bush without warning, or, in the again immortal words of Mark Sanford, go “hiking in Appalachia.”
Not untypically, the LDS Church has once again been keeping its light under a bushel. Here, right under the august noses of the Righteous Wing, is salvation, family-oriented and biblically-approved. In the words of the Mormon hymn:
Soulmates can be together forever
In Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own families,
And the Lord has showed me how I can.
The Lord has showed me how I can.
It’s back to the future, boys and girls. The benefits for Hizbullah are clear. But, more importantly, this is the chance for Mormons to show their worth, to demonstrate, after decades of unproductive donations and support, why Hizbullah needs them, why at last, in the Fulness of Time, Mormons and the Born Again are destined to be soulmates. Let the “hiking” begin!
With their support for Proposition 8 the Mormons have more or less done what someone might do who — in an incredibly dumb moment — decides to call up the local IRS office and start asking the kind of questions that inevitably leads to getting audited.
Frank Schaeffer has an opinion piece on Huffington Post entitled Perspectives on Marriage: Score 1 For Gay America — 0 To The Mormons. I think it would help for Mormons to read this article–with an open mind–just for the purpose of understanding how the rest of the world views them.
I happen to have just been thinking about how Mormons make a big deal about celebrity Mormons (athletes, movie stars, professional singers, etc.), and how they probably do that because it makes them feel more normal and mainstream. But it’s delusional. As Frank says,
It seems that the Mormons have begun to believe their own propaganda when it comes to seeing themselves as “just another” evangelical group. They aren’t.
The evangelicals may be plenty crazy, as they have manifested themselves to be through the late great Religious Right (that is now crashing in flames following the Obama victory), but the Mormons are exponentially crazier when it comes to marriage, and gender roles. [snip]
New religions, where their founders are not shrouded by the merciful mists of time — for instance L. Ron Hubbard of the Scientologists or Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons — seem stranger than the founders of older religions. Maybe that’s unfair, but there it is. That is because the newcomers lived recently enough so that truth claims and character are easier to check out.
Here is just two of many quaint bits of Mormon “teaching” ( this first on race is no longer the official position of the church, but still…)
“And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane [i.e black people] the only way he could get rid of it or have salvation would be to come forward & have his head cut off & spill his blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children.”
(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1852, Brigham Young’s address before the legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah upon slavery)
“Nearly all the great discoveries of man in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet… I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to be a greater age than we do, that they lived generally to near the age of 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants of the sea — to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.”
(Oliver B. Huntington, Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 263-264)
So, okay, enough already of the “seed of Cain,” moon men, on to marriage, California’s Proposition 8 and the Mormons…
As most in this community know, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of crazy Mormon quotes. But Frank’s entire piece is a pretty interesting read as he quotes a church histories who tallies up Joseph Smith’s wives by age and shows that “The teenage representation is the largest, though the twenty-year and thirty-year groups are comparable, which contradicts the Mormon folk-wisdom that sees the beginnings of polygamy was an attempt to care for older, unattached women. These data suggest that sexual attraction was an important part of the motivation for Smith’s polygamy.”
. . . for the Mormons to grandstand on marriage is just nuts, given their history and beliefs.
I don’t care one way or the other whether Mormons ever become mainstream. But I do care when they meddle in the rights of others in order to promote their own agenda. I think this time the widespread attention to Prop. 8 will be a net negative for the church’s purposes. And Mormons will eventually come to understand that, and being the survivors they are, will make adjustments.
Troy Williams has encapsulated what will no doubt be the LDS Church’s last stand on the Same-Sex Marriage debate in California.
It’s time to call out the Mormon temple marriage for what it really is; the ritualistic humiliation of women. It is a ceremony we queers would never want to emulate.
Having been born LDS (and believe me, that was definitely not a choice) I was indoctrinated my entire life to be morally “worthy” so I could enter the temple. Marriage in the temple is the ultimate goal for all Latter-day Saints.
Troy IS well-qualified to say the following.
The Church is in no position of moral superiority to dictate what is “sacred”. Their pro-family rhetoric should be laughed out of the public sphere. What Mormons call “traditional marriage” I call patriarchal submission. The temple ceremony is an insult to all women. I know many LDS wives will disagree. They will argue passionately that they feel liberated in their temple marriages. But underneath their testimony and tears, they each know they have been ritualistically humiliated in their wedding ceremony. They made their husbands their god. On some deep psychological level, this shadows every aspect of their relationship. No wonder Mormon women abuse their Prozac.
I must admit, I have heard this consistently from women, but only from a safe distance from the pall.
Go read the whole article and leave Troy some comments.
This morning’s Trib contained an op-ed from Maggie Jessop, that began with the not so provocative opening line:
So, you want to hear from the FLDS women, huh? OK, you asked for it.
Normally, “You asked for it” is followed by a good rant. Not in this case. The op-ed itself is semi-coherent – a saccharine paean to applehood and motherpie. FWIW, it’s not worth much. Ms. Jessop’s arguments rests on her status as a mother (which I’ll talk about in a moment) and her apparent lack of criminal convictions (which only means she hasn’t been caught before). It would be a laughable bit of writing if it weren’t obvious she is deadly serious and means every word she’s written. Read the rest of this entry »
The Texas Raids: The Alamo Defenders Circled Around Sara, Shooting at a Metaphor. Speech Given Before the Utah State Bar, Continuing Legal Education, at the Downtown Marriott Hotel, Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Let me simply say that we are now exactly in a perfect storm, where United States v. Reynolds meet Loving v. Virginia meet Lawrence v. Texas meet “Sarah” v. …well, we’re not quite sure who. Sarah v. Texas? Sarah v. United States? If Lawrence is to gay and lesbian brothers and sisters; and to polygamists, what Brown v. the Board was to people of color and ethnicity, as I believe it to be, this indeed is a time of legal revolution. Not to put too fine a point on it, as Dickens would say in Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the eternal feeding trough for lawyers through generations, gays and polygamists are in bed together. Along with those of us who are serial monogamists or anyone like me, and Douglas and Black, who don’t want the state, the police, under the marital or any conjugal bed.
Please colleagues, don’t forget procedural due process. I stated this circumstance as best I could, in much better days, in the Reynolds Lecture, Ends and Means in Conflict. This was published in several law reviews and religious journals, circa 1987. Our fellow citizens hate us for these laws that seem to them to be trivia: protecting a murderer by having taxpayers pay the fees of defense counsel. And protecting whatever is left of the Fourth Amendment, in this manic lawlessness of this administration, and their lackeys on the bench.
If Texas police can invade an FLDS Temple, have absolutely no doubt that they can do the same thing in Salt Lake City. Or New York. Or Los Angeles. Any of you who give a tinker’s damn about your own synagogue, mosque, temple, chapel, parish or ward, take notice. As W.H. Auden warned in the opening days of World War Two, writing as I recall in New York as Hitler’s armies swept into Poland, you’re next. If you don’t protest when the state comes for the Roman Catholics. And you don’t care much for Protestants. And you’re really not interested in the aristocracy in the military. And you never liked big industrialists either, then don’t be shocked as the shock troops knock on your door. We know this is next. It always has been. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing many times and still you expect a different result.
St. Thomas More lost his head. (As Rudyard Kipling, who died as I was born, noted, if you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, you’ll be taller than they are.) He had been sheriff, like our Texas brother; but More was sheriff of London and later Lord Chancellor, circa. fifteenth and sixteenth century, when Cardinal Woolsey introduced him, fatefully and fatally to Henry VIII. A young rogue, a varlet, an opportunist, was seeking position with St. Thomas More. More, of course, was Roman Catholic and remained so, in all faith and fervor, to the end. He finished the race, as St. Paul so often analogized to the Olympics. Roper, a good man and close to More, told him that he should do for the royal toad or he would surely have More’s head. St. Thomas said that no harm had yet been done. Thomas didn’t believe in pre-emptive war. More said that procedural law, like large oaks, peopled Great Britain, Ireland and Wales from stem to stern. “Would you have me tear asunder the great forests of procedural protections?” “Yes, I would tear down every tree in England to get” the toad. ” Then where would you be, Roper, when the winds roar, where would you hide?” Well, this was St. Thomas More.
A warning about metaphors. We kill each other for and by metaphors. We launch Crusades with entire civilizations in murderous self-slaughter. We excommunicate over a creed that has god in a bottle. From the tenth through the next several centuries, Crusaders slaughtered Roman and Greek, Catholic and Orthodox. And millions died, between civil war in Christianity and holy war (what a oxymoron) between Muslim and Christian. What a waste. Our local version was called the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
So the Judge in Texas says “Sarah” is a metaphor, even though she likely doesn’t exist. Good God, have we all gone nuts? Is it something in the Water in Texas? We have Bush in the White House and a very able woman trying her best in a very difficult case. But Due Process of Law hasn’t been repealed by this administration, just ignored. I hope for the resurrection: the resurrection of the Fourth Amendment searches and seizures protections. In the First Amendment and freedom of speech, including religious speech–like prayer anywhere and anytime we wish and without guards of any faith monitoring them, to see if we lie to God. I believe in freedom of religion. Don’t assume we are all brain dead, judiciary, telling us this “isn’t about religion.” Again, it must be the alkali in the Texas water. I truly pity this able judge in this Solomon-like cutting of the babies in half. And then quartering them, cutting them off from their mothers, not to mention their fathers. Nursing mothers denied their babies. This sounds to me like the slaughtering of the innocents. And of course I recognize that the innocents are being terribly hurt and surely permanently damaged by people on both sides of this slaughter.
I said “both sides” of this slaughter of the innocents. I misspeak. We must remember, daily and then again, that there are as many sides of this centuries-old story as there are people. The murderous slaughter of the truth by CNN and Fox, in their 24/7 repetition of their mangled one-dimensional bit of truth with a thousand parts error, mirror their lethal progenitor, in one and only one respect. Joseph Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment in Germany in the thirties and forties of the twentieth century, gave us the heart of the problem. Tell a lie often enough, long enough, and everyone, finally, accepts it as true. BY NO MEANS AM I EQUATING THIS STORY, THIS HUGE TRAGEDY, AS IF THIS NATION WAS ANALOGOUS TO NAZI GERMANY. I know as I state this disclaimer, that I will face a pasting in letters to the editor, not a few from the Bar. Nevertheless, the principle and the principle only, of telling a lie until it is the accepted truth lies at the heart of advertising and the political process that this year, is nastier than I have ever seen, in life and in history. In canon law and scriptural history leaders were chosen by casting lots. How much better than this utter debasement of American democracy.
We must realize that there are several major groups of Mormon polygamists, each hugely different from each other. All are based, really, upon a notion that surely possess a huge truth. Hundreds of millions of people on every continent practice polygamy. And monogamy and every variant and position known to humankind. Criminal law will never change this.
BUT criminal law can do what I believe every member of this panel believes, and insists: there must not be physical or mental abuse of anybody, particularly the innocents, our own children. The abuses of patriarchy or for that matter, matriarchy, must cease now. Torture is forbidden by what was just said and must be said and said again. And this law must be enforced.
At the same time, we all know that there will be offenses of the law, in civil and religious law, in every system known to humankind. The central issue here, of course, is whether any particular system fosters criminal conduct, offense, especially upon children, women and girls, and young men.
This is the crux of the matter. I don’t know the answer. But I strongly suspect that isolation fosters incest. The most dangerous kinds, because it fosters every other kind, are the intellectual and spiritual incest that warps the minds and the souls of those who think they hear the voice of God in the desert and then act when they hear only their own sick minds. But here, too, we must be careful. For all the millennia of human experience, the human has sought God in the Desert. The numinosity of the burning bush.
Paul, some historians tell us, was manic. He fell off his ass and said he saw god. In another of his epistles, he says he only heard god, on the way to Damascus to persecute another hated sect. This story of Israel in the desert attempting to find or build or find Zion, or Shangri-La, echo down throughout time. But for the Mormons, Zion was a tangible sensuous place to be made in the here and now. Don’t wait for Enoch or angels, build Zion where we stand. Mormons of the nineteenth century failed in their dream. They were simply swallowed up. Daniel Boorstin, one of America’s great historians, from the University of Chicago and a graduate in law, wrote words that hit this then young Mormon bishop, on leave in New York and Geneva with the United Nations, like a punch in the belly. He said how different the story of New England, or America, would be if the Puritans had been located in some American Swiss-like city, in a valley encircled with American Alps. He said that the oceans opened Puritan minds and made them into Yankee traders, with each new idea from Europe and Asia and Africa opening our minds and forming our souls . If they had been in an American Geneva, where I served long ago, how different, how isolated and how insulated and how narrow our minds. This is the setting, unless we are very careful and very respectful of our own tendency toward insanity rather than spirituality in God’s open spaces of the American West.
On a completely different scale I admit, remember the Japanese Relocation Cases, that blighted our human rights during the last just war, perhaps, World War Two. Tens of thousands of Japanese Americans, innocent all (no Japanese American was ever convicted of any crime against her country in World War Two. No national ethnic group can match this. Several German Americans spied. Not so the Japanese. ) Now, I know the limited meaning of this comparison: crimes have been committed by polygamists, not to mention monogamists. But the land at issue, seized and dealt with by courts, is enormously valuable. Just how far will we go to eliminate communal ownership of land and wealth and the sources of production and supply, to protect our perfect version of selfless capitalism?
And now back to the beginning. Each polygamous person and every sect in the world, monogamous and polygamous, is marvelously different. Like everyone in the world. At least, stereotypes and stigmas are not ever to be taken literally. At worst they play a fundamental role in every holocaust ever endured. Our commonality as human beings is a huge truth. Parallel and always necessary in this life is the beauty of the utter originality of every human being and our utterly subjective perception of truths, however objective or subjective they may be. Gerard Manley Hopkins, in his own person the truth of what I’ve so inadequately tried to explain, was a gay man in the most austere and monolithic religious Roman Catholic order in nineteenth century England, a Jesuit. He was quite possibly the greatest English writer who ever lived, except Shakespeare and the translators of the King James Bible. In Pied Beauty, he said:
Glory be to God for dappled things–
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh fire-coal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings,
Landscape plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Here is Brigham Young’s, the theocrat of all would-be kings, we’re told, own two-volume set of Blackstone’s Commentaries of the Laws of England: in four books; with An Analysis of the work. By Sir William Blackstone, Knt. one of the justices of the court of common pleas. In Two Volumes. From the nineteenth London Edition. With a LIFE OF THE AUTHOR. AND NOTES: CHRISTIAN, CHITTY, LEE, HOVENDEN, AND RYLAND: AND ALSO REFERENCES TO AMERICAN CASES, BY A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK BAR.” Published in New York. Year? Why 1847. Year One for Utah’s Mormons. Taken from tithing in kind, from the Presiding Bishop’s Storehouse, in Utah’s own Christian Socialist system. Brigham put in a Mormon scrip to honestly buy these volumes, for his own reading, and housed until his death in his office, obviously well read. Blackstone’s Commentaries were very probably the only books, other than the King James Bible, had by most homes of the West. And for that matter, until very late in the day, in most homes in America most surely, Blackstone contributed more than all but a handful of people, living or dead, to the democracy, and the rule of law, in our Republic. I was given these volumes personally, by the last granddaughter of Brother Brigham. So much for stereotypes.
I propose in conclusion that instead of seizing DNA we provide something that will really work. An amnesty open to all polygamists who are not guilty of a very specific non-metaphorical crimes: rape, torture, child-and spouse abuse, fraud other than that we force upon a people denied the protection of due process of law honestly to buy or make their bread for over two hundred years and counting. In all reality our polygamous sisters and brothers are immigrants, many of whom wish to come home. Why can’t we do for these our fellow citizens what President Bush and John McCain, for a moment at least, until shot down by their own Party, proposed? So courageously and honestly? The clock and the law would start now. With the last and by far the largest and worst-led polygamist group, the Jeffâ€™s group, with Warren Jeffs now in jail? I believe all polygamist groups of Mormon descent, “get it.” I have met personally, in my home or theirs, with all polygamist leaders of Mormon descent. Times have changed. Come home. To your churches, your cities, your government, your fellow-citizens.
The criminal law is far too brutal to bring this change. St. Paul knew the limits of the law. So does every lawyer and every criminal here, or in jail. Only the civilizing communion of the secular (thank God) polis; and the parish,the temple, the mosque and the synagogue, can democratize us all. In the secular city, thank God and Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson, and Abigail and John Adams, of the Village Square.
The Mormon Zion, like all that have gone before and will yet be birthed, cannot be made with our hands. We must always try and we will always fall short. Finally, with Joseph and Brigham, and St. Paul and St. Augustine; with the Dalai Lama and Sally Hemings and Fawn McKay Brodie and Thomas Jefferson, we wait for better times. My grandfathers, Joseph Smith by temple sealing, Brigham Young and my grandmother, Zina Diantha Huntington Smith Young by my particular DNA, as if that mattered, thought, like St. Paul in First Thessalonians, that the Second Coming would surely be in their lifetime.
It would seem that we must wait for angels, after all.
God bless us, every one.