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    • I had the privilege of attending the world premier of Matthew Greene’s “Good Standing” in Salt Lake City this evening. “Good Standing” is a solo play that thoughtfully explores many of the conflicts between Mormonism and same-sex marriage. Austin Archer was the actor and did a tremendous job conveying the complexities and diverse personalities involved in a church “court of love.” By the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

      The play will be performed at the United Solo Festival in New York on Nov. 4.

    • I'm at a complete loss to understand what the church is thinking wrt their LGBTQ members, and I was a Bishop in the church.

      Somehow we've arrived at a place where children of legally married same-sex couples cannot be baptized and participate in other ordinances until they are 18 and renounce their gay parents' marriage. But all children of murderers, terrorists, pedophiles, and adulterers are welcome and we're told they need the church in particular. We're essentially teaching Jesus would suffer all children to come unto him, unless their parents are gay. It sounds like I'm making that up or exaggerating, but I'm not.

      If you do marry someone of your own sex, you get called in front of 15 men, even if you are a woman, and they will excommunicate you because that's the policy. They call it a court of love. If you are just having an affair, you can be forgiven, but not if you add the commitment of marriage. Your only option is to divorce.

      I listened to a great podcast with the playwright and actor and it was incredibly moving:

    • Yes, the radio broadcast/podcast was what I was listening to when I realized I needed to see the play. I snagged one of the last tickets. It was presented in a small, black box theater—there were just 75 of us in the audience. I think the average age of the audience members was 60-65 years old, which surprised me. There were only a few same-sex couples who sat together—a few more split up to watch, which made me sad, but that’s the reality for some in Salt Lake City.

      ***spoiler alert***

      The gut-wrenching climax occurs when the audience comes to understand that the stake president presiding over the “court of love” is actually the protagonist’s father, and that the protagonist has decided to attend the court* in order to “be there” for his father in a way the father has not been able to be there for him, although the father is torn apart by the situation.

      In the end, we see that both men are deeply hurt by the church’s policies, and that the church, despite its lip-service to the idea that Families are Forever, brings about a great deal of human suffering in the name of who-knows-what (“patriarchal order?”). The play is not an angry, one-sided protest against the church, it is a thought-provoking work of art that asks deep questions and reveals uncomfortable realities.

      Very well done.

      *(Attendance at a church court proceeding is not mandatory, and quite often the person who is called into a court has been alienated from the church for some time and chooses not to attend.)

    • I know a lot of men & women in the church who used to toe the church line and I couldn't understand why they seemed so nonchalant about it. And then one of their children came out as gay and everything changed for them.

    • I don't understand dogmatism, which is just fanaticism dressed in a more acceptable cloak.

    • “I know a lot of men & women in the church who used to toe the church line...”

      Chris, I once had a business leader who moved to Utah from outside say to me, “Mormons are highly educated and hard workers. They just don’t know how to think for themselves. I need innovation—I don’t get that from my Mormon employees. They’d rather have a job defined for them and then just follow the schedule.“ That stuck with me.

      I am very aware that my LDS upbringing pounded into my skull that “obedience is the first law of heaven.” I wonder if it isn’t intellectual and spiritual laziness masquerading as obedience that’s at the root of people’s reticence to think for themselves about this stuff...

    • I've always believed that. Mormons make great salespeople and operators of traditional businesses. They don't make good scientists. Anything that involves being a rebel, challenging the status quo, questioning leaders, trying something no one has tried — that's not a strength of Mormons.

      Better to turn to Jews for that.

    • One of the most memorable people I’ve met in my life was my biology professor at BYU, Sam Rushforth. He was one of a team of three who taught a nine credit inter-disciplinary course for BYU’s Honors Program. Even back then (before the current craziness), he was tortured by the conflict between his academic knowledge/curiosity and the professional expectations of the church school. Sam left BYU a few years later and now serves as a dean at UVU. He was one of the signatories on the faculty letter that complained about the state university president’s public opposition to marriage equality.

      One does not realize just how cultish the church actually is until one has to go through the mental and emotional process of separating oneself. Then, trying to straddle the growing abyss in order to maintain contact with family members who are still active (and wary that apostasy might be contagious), while staying true to one’s new trajectory is quite a precarious tightrope walk. This play, “Good Standing” briefly touches on that challenge.

    • Wow, two of the most memorable people I've met were biologists, one at BYU. He became a mission president but was faced with a son he adored coming out as gay, and also the conflict he felt between his science and church teachings.

      The other is Greg Prince. I spent a couple hours on the phone with him a few months ago. He helped develop a vaccine that has saved perhaps 100,000 infant lives. He's fascinating, has written many church books, but can't reconcile what he knows of the science with the church.

      I linked that talk 👆 to one of my best friends in the church and wow did I get a stern talking to back.

    • Chris, that interview of Bradshaw is a FIVE-PARTER. Augh. I made it all the way through the first part thinking he was going to share some of his struggles and insights, and the climax was hearing his frustrations about his wife not being adequately recognized for her dance costume-making abilities...? Arg. 😑

      It’s going to take me awhile to plow through all this video.

    • Sorry, I should have warned you. John Dehlin did the interview and he isn't one to edit out any parts. I was on the phone with John a few months ago and it's just who he is. He has infinite patience to sit and listen. I guess that helps him be a good psychologist.

    • ”I linked that talk [Greg Prince] to one of my best friends in the church and wow did I get a stern talking to back.”

      That is a fascinating and utterly depressing presentation. Thanks for posting it @Chris.

      I find Prince’s hope that millenials will “rise through the ranks” and change policies to be sort of ludicrous, though. Does he think that the mere existence of a hierarchy in the church is somehow so compelling that millenials (well, basically just *male* millenials) are going to operate in the same passive-aggressive way that their fathers and grandfathers did—climbing and groveling up the priesthood ladder to general authority status* where they eventually believe themselves so infallible that they alone determine what is a sin regardless of science (or even regardless of practicality in the case of trying to ban the term, “Mormon” hahaha)?

      There are other reactions I could share, but in the long run, it probably wouldn’t make any difference. I have found it futile to try to reason with or intelligently discuss some of these challenging issues with members who do not want anything to disrupt their timetable to Eternal Life. Perhaps that’s what was in play when you got that feedback from your “friend.”

      L

      *just think about that term for a minute: General Authority—these few men actually confer upon themselves and each other the title of **general authority**—is that not absolutely absurd? If they were as righteous as they all believe themselves to be, they would shudder at the level of arrogance.

    • I know, the grand titles. High priests... I was always uncomfortable with that.

      I've had a few spirited debates with millenials who were youth in my ward when I was Bishop. I always think I'm being kind and factual but I don't know what has happened with them. It feels like they got radicalized on their missions. I like them very much but wow, hardliners.

      Another friend, a young Bishop in Australia, is a very respected DNA scientist who decided he could show how Native Americans were descended from the Middle East like the Book of Mormon says they are. But he found out they are unequivocally of Asian descent. He told the church and they asked him not to publish it as a chapter of a book. But as a scientist he felt he must, and especially out of respect for Native Americans so we don't tell them something false about their history.

      Anyway, the church excommunicated him. And now of course anyone can go to 23andMe and find out that Native Americans are all of....Asian descent.

    • My wife went to BYU and still reads their magazine because it's actually very good. This month they had a great article on suicide prevention. Being owned by the church, I'm sure they couldn't speculate on why the youth suicide rate in Utah was so high, but what they could do it factually cite the stats:

      Utah, where suicides have increased 46.5 percent since 1999, has the nation’s fifth highest suicide rate. Among youth 10–17 in Utah, suicides have tripled since 2007, placing suicide as the number-one cause of death for this age group.

    You've been invited!