Saturday, September 7, 2013

Butthurt Mormons...

Recently, I posted about one of my favorite singers, James Taylor, singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I was very surprised when I heard he was doing this because I was under the impression that James Taylor was atheist.  I also figured he was a friend to people who may be marginalized, like homosexuals, people of color, and atheists.  Mormons are historically not fans of the gay lifestyle, nor do they usually admire atheists.  They also have a fairly recent history of racist policies.  Honestly, I don't know what James believes or what made him decide to sing with the MoTab.  He did, though, and his photos were on my Facebook.  So I commented... and said that I thought it was an odd choice, but I was sure he would put on a great show.  I don't think what I wrote was all that offensive, under the circumstances.  I mean, if I had wanted to, I could have trotted out all kinds of real life reasons why it's weird that JT is singing with the MoTab.  But I didn't.

Still, there was a butthurt comment about how I had "discriminated"...  To the bitch who made that comment, here's a stern rebuttal.  I didn't have any negative feelings about your church until I married an active Mormon... who was denied the right to baptize his daughter based on lies and bullshit her mother accused him of.  People in that church heard things that his ex claimed he did and promptly turned their backs on him.  With the exception of one very kind bishop, never once did they ask him about his side of the story... and, by the way, neither did his two very Mormon daughters, who now think he's an abusive pervert who is going to hell because he left the church.

I didn't have any animosity toward Mormons until my husband's then nine year old daughter had her one and ONLY visitation with us and happened to spot two beers in the refrigerator.  She determined by the presence of those TWO beers that her daddy was a drunk and would go to hell.  And yes, at age nine, this child felt she could slap him across the face.  And she did.  He sat there and never raised a hand to her... in retrospect, that was probably a good plan, since her narcissistic mother would have called CPS over it in a heartbeat.  But seriously... what nine year old child feels that she has the right to hit an adult man-- her FATHER-- for having two beers in his fridge?  It was inconceivable to me, because if I had ever dared do that to my own dad, I would have been knocked into next week.  I don't say that thinking that's what my husband's former daughter (she disowned him because he left the church) should have had happen to her.  I say it because it was just so fucking out of the ordinary that I was completely blown away by it.  That girl had no respect for her dad.  Her concerns were only about her church.

I have watched as the LDS church was used as the #1 reason why my husband and his family of origin were deemed unacceptable family members to his daughters, who, by the way, did not become LDS until years after they were born.  Their mother was NOT born LDS...  but once she adopted that religion, it sure made a great parental alienation tool against my husband, who was a perfectly good father to his daughters and, if he hadn't been already pushed unceremoniously out of their lives, would not one day be attending their weddings because he's not a temple worthy Mormon anymore.  Seriously?  Fuck their mother and fuck the Mormon church for this. That is the ULTIMATE form of parental alienation.

I wouldn't make a definitive declaration about what James Taylor's beliefs are.  I base my comments on the lyrics in Hourglass, in which he sings a couple of confessional songs that sort of imply that he is agnostic or perhaps even atheist...

I give you, exhibit A...



"Up From Your Life", a song JT sang for Hourglass, which he released in 1997 after losing his father and his brother.  

Need the words?  Check this out...

So much for your moment of prayer
God's not at home
There is no there there
Lost in the stars
That's what you are
Left here on your own

You can only hope to live on this earth
This here is it, for all it's worth
Nothing else awaits you
No second birth
No starry crown

For an un-believer like you
There's not much they can do
It would turn you away
Though I hate to see you surrender
You need to surrender
We must find you a way to


Chorus:
Look up from your life
Up from your life
Look on up from your life
Look up from your life


There's a river running under your feet
Under this house
Under this street
Straight from the heart
Ancient and sweet
On it's way back home

Even in the middle of your sadness
The everyday madness
The ongoing game
Even when you can't find a reason
Still there is a reason
You don't need to name it
Look on up


Look up from your life


Only for a minute
To find yourself in it
To wait by the stream
To drop out of your dream
Look on up



And, here's exhibit B.  James Taylor also sang the part of God in Randy Newman's Faust, which is a very entertaining but irreverent take on the ancient story of how God and Lucifer fight over a young man's soul.  I actually really enjoyed that album-- not sure if James Taylor and the rest of the all star cast ever performed their roles on stage or just sang the music.  But his participation in that project does not make him seem like the most God fearing man in the world.



Historically, within his music, James Taylor has pretty much expressed that he is not religious.  That may have changed, but I was not aware of it.  I always thought of him as a fairly liberal guy.  It seems odd to me that he would align with people who were so publicly in favor of Proposition 8 in California, only to sort of reverse their decision when it became clear that gay marriage rights would prevail...  It's strange to me that James Taylor would want to perform for a church that, until 1978, did not allow black men to hold "the priesthood".  And hey, the Mormons also have convert Glenn Beck, who has declared that liberals ought to be hunted down like Nazis.  I realize that Glenn Beck and my husband's ex don't represent all Mormons.  But Mormons have to know that the church's rather strong public stances must reflect on them as a group.

I met Bill at a time when I did not think ill of Mormonism.  I didn't know much about the faith, but at that time, I really had a live and let live attitude about the church.  But then as I got to know my husband and saw how the church was used against him, I started to look at it it in a more critical way.  

I don't see it as a positive that my husband's now adult daughters think that anyone who drinks a beer is automatically an alcoholic.  I don't think it's a positive that they believe their father is going to hell because Mormonism was not for him-- and, by the way, it's interesting that I would be slammed for discriminating when a lot of Mormons don't seem to have an issue with discriminating against those they deem "unworthy".  How fucked up is it that parents who aren't LDS can't see their LDS kids married in the temple unless they become "worthy"?  Being worthy, from what I understand, has an awful lot to do with whether or not you've paid 10% tithing on your gross income... and have worn the right underwear and refrained from self-abuse (aka: masturbation).  

I'm sure James Taylor will put on a great show that is mutually beneficial to Mormons and JT himself.  Even if I truly did vehemently object to JT's choice, it's not like I could do anything about it.  But knowing what I know, I really can't cheer about this decision.  I still love James Taylor's music and support him in what he does... but I honestly think JT was shortsighted to perform with the MoTab.  Because from what I have seen, a lot of LDS affection is very conditional and requires that you a toe a line to reap the rewards.  I think ultimately, James Taylor is being used as a recruiting tool.  Come see our *free* show featuring a well known rock star and our world famous choir.  And then afterwards, you might want to talk to a couple of our helpful missionaries who will help steer you toward the one *true* church.     

For all I know, maybe at this point, James Taylor really does embrace Mormonism.  Hell, maybe he does believe wholeheartedly in God.  And that would be fine with me, because I don't think his religious beliefs are really my business.  I don't look to JT for guidance on what to believe.  I like his music.  No, I don't like Mormonism.  But I do support a person's right to believe as they see fit.

If your church is as amazing as you claim it is, you won't be threatened by the relatively tame things I write.  You won't feel compelled to attempt to shame me for freely expressing myself on a public forum.  And you will be happy and fulfilled by what you claim is the "right" way to live.  I came to my conclusion over the course of years.  I am married to a wonderful man who lost his family, in part, to Mormonism.  I have seen the church's downside and I can't unsee it.  It's just the way I feel and what I have observed with my own eyes.  Thankfully, this is still America and I still have the right to express myself.  Fortunately, my opinion was not based on a single run in with a Mormon but with several experiences, lots of reading, and being married to an ex Mormon.  I wonder how many Mormons invest that much study before they decide someone isn't "worthy" or is somehow a "bad influence" that is headed for outer darkness.  I am guessing many of them don't take nearly as much time as I did to come to their conclusions.

I will say that if you don't want to be discriminated against, perhaps you should examine your own policies and determine if they need revision.  I would hate to introduce you to the kettle after you've called the pot black.

4 comments:

  1. To follow one idiom with another, mormons live in a very fragile house to be throwing stones at the abodes of others.

    I read in oone interview a long time ago that james taylor wouldn't embrace the 12-step program as a way of gaining sobriety because he couldn't acknowledge the existence of a higher power. He's probably, like many other people, agnostic at heart. Relatively few people claim to know for an absolute fact that there was no creator or is for certain no higher power. A whole lot of people have major doubts about it, though.

    Prhaps james taylor has respect for the Mo-tab in a musical sense. maybe, as you suggested earlier, he really does need the money. The Church is so cheap in terms of everything else, but it's hard to imagine someone like Natalie cole performing with them for pocket change, so perhaps guest performers with the Mo-Tab, along wth the malll and the head honcho non-salaries, are areas where they splurge.

    I still find it hard to believe that James Taylor can reconcile the Church's ideology with his own convictions, but I won't judge him.

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    1. I think he probably hasn't taken the time to learn about Mormonism. It's probably not on his radar. And, like so many other people, he doesn't want to offend. A lot of people get upset when other people make negative comments about religious beliefs. They figure it's sacrosanct. The trouble with that, though, is that it's not a good thing to be so open-minded that your brains fall out. A lot of bad things happen in the name of religion. I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge that.

      Generally speaking, until someone's beliefs interfere with other people's rights, I could give a shit what people's religious beliefs are. However, I do think that I, and so many other people who feel similarly, have a perfect right to dislike Mormonism. It doesn't mean I hate Mormons themselves. I just don't like what so many of them do in the name of being faithful church members.

      As for JT, I am sure he will have a great show with the MoTab. His music will inspire a lot of people. Hopefully, he won't be used to lure more people to the church.

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  2. James Taylor is my favorite artist, and I am a Mormon. From what I know of him, I am nearly certain Mr. Taylor does not have any interest whatsoever in the Mormon religion, and he is clearly a liberal in his orientation. My feeling is that his attraction to performing with the choir was and is purely as a musician. I think he wanted to have the experience of performing with one of the world's greatest choirs, and its director is an amazing musician as well. Both of them probably enjoyed the collaboration.

    I'm sorry to hear you've had such an awful time with your husband's family. Their behavior is not typical of the Mormon families I know, including mine. I hope you will have an opportunity to meet better representatives of the LDS Church in the future.

    At least we can bond over the JT thing. His songs have added a color and flavor to my life that I would not want to give up, ever. And I have seen him in concert numerous times. What amazes me about him is that his voice is just as clear and warm at this age as it was in his youth. Amazing talent.

    =)

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    1. Hi Sue. Thanks for the nice and even handed comment. I do appreciate it.

      Just so you know, I don't hate Mormon people. When I met my husband, he was still a faithful member of the church, albeit as a convert. And before I met him I knew, and still know, some very nice LDS people. I don't think Mormons are bad people, except when they are hateful to those who decide they believe something else.

      It's true that I have had an awful time with my husband's ex wife and his very TBM kids, but I know they don't represent every Mormon. However, I know from interacting with people who have left the LDS faith that the way my husband's ex wife and kids have behaved is not uncommon. There are many people who decide Mormonism is not for them and end up being shunned or harassed for their decision. Hang out on www.exmormon.org, which I know no faithful Mormon is supposed to read... but if you do, you will read some truly amazing and heartbreaking stories that will show you that my husband's story is not unique.

      In fairness, I also know that Mormons are not the only ones who do this. I have a cousin who is an ex Jehovah's Witness who was also shunned when he and his family ultimately left the faith. Shunning is a very hurtful and ultimately very un Christ-like practice.

      I have other issues with Mormonism, which, if you take the time to read this blog, you may understand better. It's not that I don't understand the faith. I have studied it a lot and know many people who are now or once were LDS. One of my most faithful commenters is 18 years old and has grandparents who are LDS converts who pretty much hate her because she's Catholic. Her father, once he had done his mission and finished college, determined that he'd rather go back to the religion of his youth and his parents were very upset about it. So they took it out on their grandchildren. On the other hand, there is a lady in my online life who is a devout Mormon. I don't always agree with her, but I think she's a good person. She loves her family and has a wonderful sense of humor.

      As I wrote before, I personally don't care what someone's religious beliefs are, as long as their beliefs don't affect me. Religious beliefs are personal. And I do understand that there are many fine people who are LDS. My husband was one of them before he ultimately decided to leave the faith. When he chose to leave, he remained a good person. He didn't leave because he couldn't hack it... or because he wanted to sin... or because someone offended him. He left because he didn't believe it was true. For that, he lost his kids and was very badly treated by many people in the church. However, I will also concede that he was treated kindly by a few LDS people, including a bishop who did not judge him as harshly as so many others did.

      As to James Taylor's choice to sing with the MoTab, you are probably right that he did it because they are a notable choir and because it generated publicity. James Taylor is a wonderful musician and somehow manages to maintain that magnificent voice despite all the drugging, drinking, and partying he did back in the day. I find his music very comforting. HIs music comes from someone who has really lived through a lot and managed to come out stronger in the end. I did find it strange that he would align himself with the MoTab choir, but I don't respect him less for singing with them. I just thought it was odd, given his very publicly liberal and atheist proclivities.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting and for being kind. I hope you'll stick around. We do have a love of JT's music in common. I don't always write about Mormonism, so you may find less uncomfortable topics to read about here as well.

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