Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pass the Alka-seltzer, Marko.

If one is lucky enough to have lived in Utah for any length of time, one will no doubt know of the semi-annual meetings of Mormon faithful in Temple Square in Salt Lake City, who gather to listen to their leaders sermonize on everything from church membership, to 'moral' exhortations.  Held in the autumn and spring, these conferences are a weekend event, starting Saturday morning and ending Sunday afternoon. One has come to enjoy listening to these homilies for no other reason than they give an opportunity to critique loudly and publicly the insidious nature of religion in general.

This year, faithful Mormons have been graced with a prequel: Evergreen International, an organization that does not 'affiliate' itself with the LDS church, yet in its mission statement affirms the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon church, met in the LDS church-owned Joseph Smith Memorial Building a week before the Mormon general conference.  Those who struggle with same-sex attraction were told by the LDS church hierarchy that finding peace in their lives would come only through focusing on Jesus and his purported eternal and mortal self-sacrifice.  One wishes that one could call this progress of a sort; after all, the 'holy book' that Mormons --and indeed all other Christians-- carry with them to their Sunday services proscribes homosexuality and warrants capital punishment for those caught in such homo-erotic flagrante delicti.  Instead, the Mormon hierarchy is capriciously moving the goalposts.

While still claiming 'moral authority' from the horse-and-buggy rantings of Spencer W. Kimball --who declared that 'homosexuality is an ugly sin, repugnant to those who find no temptation in it, as well as to many past offenders who are seeking a way out of its clutches...  All such deviations from normal, proper heterosexual relationships are not merely unnatural but wrong in the sight of God'-- Mormon leaders are desperately attempting to eat their cake and have it, too.  In 1969, Kimball, known to the faithful as the twelfth 'prophet seer and revelator' of the Mormon church, penned -and quoted above-- a ghastly and guilt-ridden tome that is not only extant and popular among the rank-and-file members of Mormonism, but is still referenced and sanctioned by Mormon leaders in the twenty-first century as a guide for teaching children about the 'evils' of homosexuality.  Yet talk to a Mormon leader or votary about what their church's stance is on being gay and you are quite likely to hear that being gay isn't the 'sin', it is the act of  actually intimately loving someone of the same sex that puts one's 'soul' in 'eternal jeopardy'.  Strictly stated: a gay or lesbian can be an adherent Mormon if they are willing to live either in the pitiful state of abstinence or conning themselves into marrying and having sex with someone they really don't want to be with.

The best Kimball ever came up with was the feeble attempt to argue from nausea and cliche; that is, if a behavior or act causes one to to be 'sick to one's stomach', then it follows that such an act is 'immoral'.  Kimball is long since dead so there is no need to worry about offending his puerile and parochial sensibilities, but the thought of anyone over the age of sixty-five, heterosexual or otherwise engaging in any activity that requires disrobing has the same effect as a bottle of ipecac. The worst of course was his (ab)use of his 'authority' as god's mouthpiece to scare gay Mormons straight, lest they be damned from their families and god for eternity.

The jejune and smug forays of the religious into the inner wonders of simply being human puts me in the mind of the blottoed protagonist in Billy Collins' poem, Hangover

If I were crowned emperor this morning,
every child who is playing Marco Polo
in the swimming pool of this motel,
shouting the name Marco Polo back and forth

Marco Polo Marco Polo

would be required to read a biography
of Marco Polo – a long one with fine print –
as well as a history of China and of Venice,
the birthplace of the venerated explorer

Marco Polo Marco Polo

after which each child would be quizzed
by me then executed by drowning
regardless how much they managed
to retain about the glorious life and times of 

Marco Polo Marco Polo

From anthropology to zoology, religion has offered us pitiful 'theories' of the natural world; why on earth would it be any different with sexuality.