I Have Now Been Hounded Into Silence By the Mormon Intelligentsia, Who Have Branded Me a Racist — At Least in One Forum
By Ken K. Gourdin
Perhaps the 50th “Should We Pray for a Black Mormon Apostle?” (or similar) thread has now appeared over at Mormon Dialogue & Discussion Board. I think the notion that color should be a primary reason why God selects whom He selects as His servants (or the notion that He has to look like and talk like me in order to be able to understand my challenges and to identify with me) is absurd.
In an effort to demonstrate the absurdity of the notion that God uses Affirmative Action in calling His servants — and that, therefore, by extension, we need a Black Jesus and a Mexican Jesus and a Chinese Jesus and a Gay Jesus and a Woman Jesus and a Transvestite Jesus and a 5’6”, bespectacled Jesus who’s rounding in the middle and balding on the top and walks with a pair of forearm crutches (or with a limp when not using them) . . . that Last Jesus? He’s the only one who can identify with your humble correspondent) — I chimed in with, “But what if he can’t dance a jig, sing the blues, or speak jive? Why, that’d be a PR disaster for the Church!” Ignoring my point that the very notion that God uses Affirmative Action is absurd, detractors immediately branded me a racist.
Forget any of my other 5,500 posts on that Board over more than ten years of participation on both it and its predecessors. (In an act of frustration and protest, I’ve deleted several of my more recent ones.)
Forget anything I’ve written about Dr. Martin Luther King, whether on line1 or in print.2
Forget anything I’ve written about the struggles of the fictional Coalhouse Walker or of Jackie Robinson.3
Forget anything I’ve written about blacks in general and a member of my family’s jarring introduction to the racism that confronted him while stationed in the Deep South when he served in the military.4
I’m a racist.
Which, translated, means, “He just wrote something with which I disagree and/or by which I am offended. [True, I may not have taken the time necessary to think about any subsurface, substantive point he was trying to make, and I might not understand it even after taking the time to reflect; but it’s enough that my immediate reaction is disagreement and/or offense.] Therefore, I must pigeon-hole him and marginalize him.” Which pigeon hole should I stuff him into? Ahh, here’s one! “Racist!” That’ll do! (And of course, to my detractors, all of this evidence I have attempted to marshal against their accusation simply resembles, “Sure! I’ll bet he says he has black friends, too!”)
When it comes to potentially controversial aspects of its history, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can’t win. If it is not forthright about its history, it is accused of hiding the “truth.” If it is, then, well, that casts doubt on its divinity, its truth claims, and on the claims of its leaders to revelation.5
Do you believe that God might’ve actually had something to do with limiting who got the Priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the first 138 years of its history? (Or that God, whatever His purposes, might have allowed the restriction to remain in place before eventually moving to lift it?) If so, then, according to certain members of the Mormon Intelligentsia, you might be a racist (or, you might believe that God is). After all, at the very least, God is a terrible sociologist. If He were any kind of a sociologist at all, He would have lifted the restriction the second the U.S. Civil Rights movement started (if not before! After all, why wouldn’t He be ahead of the curve?) Do you leave room for the prospect that God might have instituted plural marriage? If so, then according to certain members of the Mormon Intelligentsia, you might be sexist. After all, the sociologically erudite Mormon Intelligentsia know that polygamy was a male-dominated, patriarchal institution loathed by all of the women who were forced into it! (Again, God’s a terrible sociologist!)
If you have the temerity to express publicly the views that God had anything to do with these (clearly man-made!) institutions (or that color shouldn’t be one of the reasons God calls people as His servants), certain members of the Mormon Intelligentsia will hound you into submission and silence. I would so love to name names, but alas, except for cowardly Internet pseudonyms (yes, I use one, as well, but the right Google search will associate that pseudonym with my real name without too much trouble) I only know a couple. It’s as though the Intelligentsia are saying, “Yes, we believe in the same omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving God you do — we simply believe that He’s also a reformed racist and sexist. (Why else would these things have changed?! What other explanation is there?!)”
And if you read the recent statements of the Church of Jesus Christ as still believing these practices themselves were inspired of the Lord, however imperfectly they may have been implemented (and while disavowing, not the practices themselves, but mortals’ attempts to explain the reasons for them), you’re a racist and a sexist. The much more sociologically- and historically-erudite Mormon Intelligentsia know better.
Alas, it may not be as intellectually, historically, or sociologically satisfying, but I simply must accept God’s assurance (which might as well have been delivered in direct in response to the condescending tsk-tsk-tsk-ing of the intelligentsia, many of whom are absolutely convinced that God, whether He knows it or not, desperately needs their advice, and that they could do things so much better — if only they were He!) that “I am able to do mine own work” (3 Nephi 27:20).
Rather than demanding that God explain Himself to me in every particular, I can only say, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me” (Moses 5:30). Simpleton that I am, I actually believe that I might not be able to understand all of the reasons why the Lord does what He does (or why He tells me to do some of the things He tells me to do): “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). With Nephi, I can only say, “I know that [God] loveth His children; nevertheless, I know not the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17). As for the things I don’t understand, when it comes to awaiting an explanation from the Lord, I can only trust His assurance that “They shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isaiah 49:23).
But of course, these Scriptural notions are preposterous, as all of the intelligentsia know.
Update: January 23, 2014 — Apologies for the placement of this update. For some reason, WordPress won’t let me post it below my End Notes. (I love WordPress’s little idiosyncrasies such as this (which seem to disappear and reappear arbitrarily): They make me wonder how well Google’s Blogger works. Perhaps I’ll have to try it out.) Patheos’s (and BYU’s) Dan Peterson has been tarred with a similar brush. He offers this handy test which will enable anyone determined to use that label to ignore any and all evidence to the contrary:
Update, April 11, 2014: Somebody Got It!
One of the people who accused me of racism on this thread started another thread in which he questioned whether Mormon values in particular (and Christian values in general) are under attack, specifically in light of recent court decisions upholding gay marriage. (He doubts it; apparently, he knows better than God’s Prophets, Seers, and Revelators). I told him, “You know what? You’re absolutely right: I have to wonder whether the greatest danger to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might not come from within.” He replied, “I wouldn’t be so worried, my friend. This mighty church can withstand your presence in it.”
While I should have bitten my tongue, our history (since the man called me a racist) led me to I reply, “Cut the patronizing, condescending crap. I know damn good and well I’m not one of your “friends.” Contiinuing his passive-aggressive sniping (the verbal or Cyber-equivalent of slugging me when everyone else’s back was turned and feigning innocence when they turned around to see what was going on), he replied, “Really? I didn’t know that I couldn’t be friends with someone I didn’t agree with on everything. I would have thought the fact that we both had a testimony of the atonement of Christ and His Church would prevent us from being enemies.” I replied, “Now the Holier-Than-Thou Shtick? Seriously, knock it off.” He replied:
Seriously, do you really think that I should hate you because you have the “temerity” to see things differently than I do? Really?
Despite thinking that you are sometimes (okay, often) wrong, I’d be willing to bet that you’re a good man. I’d have no problem sustaining you as a member of my bishopric or as scoutmaster in our ward.
Perhaps, I see differently because my livelihood depends upon me seeing things much differently than most people. If you were correct and “perfect” like me, then I’d have to get a real job and I’d HATE that.
Another poster, who had also participated in the thread in which he called me a racist, replied:
Simply because Ken does not see you as acting like a friend to him does not mean he believes you hate him.
I think what Ken is saying is it takes more than mere acquaintance to be friends. It also requires respect and considerate compassionate treatment. In the past, [if I remember correctly], you called him[,] or [at least] implied he was[,] a racist and did not give him the benefit of the doubt as to what he was attempting to do.
I can understand why he feels that way.
|1.||For examples of my on-line commentary regarding Dr. King, see the following:Ken K. Gourdin (January 25, 2013) “Reflections for MLK Day: May Our Grasp on Dr. King’s Vision, However Seemingly Tenuous, Not Weaken Further,” (Web log entry) last accessed December 17, 2013 at: http://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/in-honor-of-mlk-jr/.Ken K. Gourdin (August 29, 2013) “In Honor of MLK on the 50th Anniversary of His ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech,” (Web log entry) last accessed December 17, 2013 at the following address: http://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/mlks-dream/.|
|2.||For examples of my in-print commentary regarding Dr. King, see the following:Ken K. Gourdin (January 29, 2013) “We are all beneficiaries of Dr. King’s vision,” The Tooele Transcript-Bulletin A4.Ken K. Gourdin (January 24, 1992) “The King Legend Lives On,” The Dixie Sun 10, available on line at http://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/in-praise-of-mlk-jr/.|
|3.||Ken K. Gourdin (July 6, 2013) “Reflections on Ragtime, on Coalhouse Walker, on #42, Jackie Robinson, on Oppression, and on Continued Efforts to Live Up to American Ideals” (Web log entry) last accessed December 17, 2013 at the following address: http://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/living-up-to-american-ideals/.|
|4.||Ken K. Gourdin (June 16, 2013) “On Atticus Finch, Nobility, Fatherhood, and Fathers” (Web log entry) last accessed December 19, 2013 at the following address: http://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/for-fathers-day/.|
|5.||For statements on these issues that now are being parsed, dissected, discussed, and disputed, see the following:(No author listed) (No date listed) “Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah” Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, last accessed December 19, 2013 at the following address: http://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-and-families-in-early-utah?lang=eng&query=polygamy.(No author listed) (No date listed) “Race and the Priesthood” Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, last accessed December 19, 2013 at the following address: http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng&query=race.