The first was a new video by the singer Tyler Glenn. I won’t link to it because most of you would find it offensive (he appears to re-enact part of the endowment ceremony at one point), but I’m sure you can find it if you want to. Rolling Stone describes the video as a “slam” against the Mormon Church. Mr. Glenn’s frustration, as a gay former church member, is palpable in the video.
The second was the audio recording of a recent address by Elder Holland. I won’t link to it because it is against church policy to record and share local addresses by GAs, but I’m sure you can find it if you want to. In a devotional in Tempe, Arizona, Elder Holland described himself as “so furious” with people who leave the church and suggested that their conviction must be on the level of “patty-cake [and] taffy-pull” if they can’t stay unless all of their questions are answered. Elder Holland’s frustration is palpable in his words.
I don’t want to claim a false equivalence–because despite the obvious similarities, these expressions are not the same–but I do find it fascinating to see the frustration on both sides spilling over in public, on the very same day.
I get Glenn’s frustration and fury. I’m no fan of The Policy. While I don’t find his response appropriate or helpful, I do see the pain and anguish in his work, and that bit about mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort doesn’t end with “unless you don’t like how they choose to express their mourning and discomfort.”
I also get Elder Holland’s frustration and fury. I’ve seen people in my circle leave the church because they couldn’t quickly find answers to (what I consider to be) low-level issues, and so I’ve felt that frustration. But I don’t think Elder Holland’s rhetorical style is appropriate or helpful: I worry that it might deepen the anguish of the wounded. But it is nonetheless true that the question “have ye spiritually been born of God?” doesn’t end with “and managed to avoid any troubling questions you can’t answer?”
So I agree with the frustration that Tyler Glenn and Elder Holland reflected this week, while I have concerns about how they manifested their frustration. And I’m even more troubled by the vitriolic responses to both of them: people seem to be either completely sympathetic to Mr. Glenn and condemnatory of Elder Holland or vice versa. But it seems to me that the line cuts not between but through. I’m neither a gay saint nor an apostle, but I can try my best to understand both of them, even when I’m uncomfortable with how they’ve expressed themselves.
This is, undoubtedly, a tough moment in the history of the church, and so it’s no surprise that we haven’t refined our public expressions into perfectly coiffed statements. I joked with a friend who had been punched in the gut by the CES Letter that at least she wasn’t crossing the plains on barefoot, frozen, bloodied feet and, in all seriousness, she said she’d rather do that. (And I believe her.) I can’t imagine condemning a pioneer for her indelicate expression of frustration, and so I’m going to try to avoid that now. It seems to me that there is a great need for charity here–for both of them.