Thursday, February 11, 2010
Musings on a Mormon's Journey
Candye Kane I've plugged before. She is one heck of a performer. Porn star, punk rocker, alt-country/Jazz/Blues chanteuse, and now cancer survivor.
Her career is getting back on track, and she's been in the studio working furiously, but in the midst of all the hubbabalaloo with Iran, North Korea, Somali pirates, and health care, I thought it might nice to highlight something maybe a little quieter. Though, perhaps in the light of the recent events in Iran, matters of the spirit are maybe not out of order.
Candye's story is amazing. Simply put, she's a survivor in a lot of ways. Not just cancer, but out of a home life to call "less than stable" is a terrific understatement. To have come out of it alone, and half as sane as she is--and as sweet a human being as I've rarely met--is a testament to her character.
Her own recent blog entry on her spiritual journey is something that rarely gets highlighted. And her vociferous defense of the right for folks to love and find joy is not a small part of the result of that journey. I found this entry compelling, not just because I've met Candye, and know first hand the kind of woman she is, but there is a sort of completeness to its circle.
Another friend of mine has recently left the Mormons--not in the casual dropping off the map, but a formal parting that takes her off the rolls, and was a statement about how the relationship of the church and herself had changed. How she had changed. It was a powerful experience, and Candye's story echoed some of those themes. My friend wasn't excised by fiat, but chose her moment, and her leaving, in part because of the church's decision to progress in politics of exclusion, in part because she no longer felt it was healthy for herself and her children. And likewise, over the years, she has tasted other faiths--her marriage to a Muslim in England gave her an appreciation of the beauty that can be found in Islam, but likewise, she was exposed to the uglier side of how faith can be used as an excuse to exercise cultural imperative to keep folks "in their place."
While the world is hurtling along, there are stumbling blocks thrown by those who fear the changes that we are seeing. Not just in the realm of greater equality for women. Not just in the rising tide against bigotry, but against the speed of these changes, and the loss of ways of life. And in an attempt to slow that change, we find folks who are turning to tradition as a barrier to those changes. Using interpretations of verse and dogma to try to stem that tide. To preserve their traditions, it is sad to see them turning away from their own sons and daughters, from their neighbors as agents of that fearful change. And to see using a bulwark of fear to bolster their haven against what is seen as dangerous change.
While Progressives often feel that theirs is a struggle against the Old Guard--and that Old Guard is steeped in power and comforts itself with a status quo that favors itself--it has to be noted, that the Old Guard fears change, and sees it not just as a threat against its power, but fears being lost and turned aside. It turns them inward, and lashes out against that loss. Against their own neighbors, against their own children, against those they had sworn to protect even.
We see this not just in our own country, but all across the world.
Change is indeed in the wind. Not just here. And fear is still a byproduct of change. We are adaptable and flexible critters, and our strength as thinking apes has come from that, but likewise, we only do so when we have little other choice. Call it a crisis of comfort. If it's worked well in the past, then why mess things up? That is hasn't been all that comfortable to some, and ill fitting and even damaging to the outliers, there is still a core that has stayed comfortably in the middle. And much of the backlash we see across the board, is a sign that the pillow of comfort is being blown away.
These small stories of folks turning, and making that journey are signposts in my eyes. That the backlash are the growing pains of our society. Prop 8, the recent shooting in the Capital, even the unrest in Iran, are all oddly inter-related in that many small stories are converging in their own way towards a place that is more open and accepting. That each tale like Candye's or my former Mormon friend, or my father's boss and her wife, and even the tales leaking from Iran, are part of that bigger quilt, and each one of them represents incremental change. A gnawing away of inequality. And oddly enough, that gives me some hope. Because ultimately, the sweeping changes that folks are hoping for aren't always writ large--they are made up all these small tales. And what gives me hope, is that folks aren't just coming up with new ways to express these ideals, but finding ways to show that this progress is an expression of the ideals that we've claimed, but often obscured.
Tradition and progress aren't necessarily enemies--and often we find folks looking not for anything new, but the fulfillment of promises long made, but rarely kept. By asking that our society make good on its promises, we are keeping those traditions honest. If we can keep our discussions with those who are fearful in this context, we might be able to make the transition a bit easier. Ask them to live up to the standards they've set. And set a small example, and become that tradition for others.
Originally posted on Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 15:29:20 PM EDT at The Motley Moose