Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mormon (pronounced Moe-ron per Big Matty)

Secret: I was born into an alleged Mormon family.

Alleged because, after the age of 5, I don't ever remember attending any kind of Mormon church service or having Family Home Evening.

Oh wait...I do remember attending Primary during the school week (is that right???)...up until the first (and only as a child) occurrence of strep throat I would have at the age of 7 and I do remember singing Primary songs like "Book of Mormon Stories" (that my teacher told to me) and "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree".

No. I'm totally not shitting you. Those were actual songs we sang. You think I'm kidding?

What that last one has to do with Joseph Smith and Jesus? I do not know. Also? I loved "Book of Mormon Stories". I think because it was in a minor key.

Still...that's what I remember about being Mormon.

As an adult, I must admit, I mostly deny my heritage as it pertains to the Mormon church. Can you blame me?

I haven't participated in anything Mormon in decades except for a faux blessing a few years' back at my niece's graduation celebration whereby I poked serious fun at both my dad and the church. It went a little something like this (archived in the secret blog)...

Last night we were sitting on the patio and I was chilly so I crossed my arms. AJ said to me "Auntie Jane are you getting ready to offer the prayer?" So in my most solemn of solemnity my extremely rusty Mormon self could recall I offered up this...
Dear Heavenly Father (giggles from the crowd),
Thank you for hello dolly bars,
Lots of laughing,
Crazy families but not as crazy as some others,
And most especially thank you for our lexapro.
Please help us to have regular bowel movements
and to keep the conversation about aforementioned bowel movements to a minimum.

Amie? How does it end? I forgot.

Oh yeah...
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

At least I remembered format. That's saying something...right?


I'm both ashamed and proud of my Mormon heritage.

My Great-great-grandfather, GWT, was one of the first to join Joseph Smith even though he came from a largely non-religious, Scotch immigrant family. He was personal friends with Brigham Young. He was part of the first legion of followers who came west from Nauvoo, IL to settle the Great Salt Lake. He enlisted as a member of the US Army as a member of the Mormon Battalion. His wife, Fannie, would follow him from Nauvoo, making her own way with her adopted daughter (1st child of GWT by his 1st wife who died), and would wait for him in Iowa until such time as he would fetch her and lead them to the Salt Lake Valley. This all suggests he was an honorable, pious man and I'm proud of that.

And yet...

Pious but to a very strange religion. A religion in which it was perfectly acceptable and encouraged to marry more than one woman at one time...which he did. I'm the descendant of his 3rd wife, Clarissa, to whom he was married while he was married to Fannie. And, even after the Church declared plural marriage illegal in 1890, he continued to proclaim them both his wives. He would again marry Clarissa outright and legally after the death of Fannie in 1891.

I'm both proud and abhorred by this history...mostly because my history is subject to the disdain, ridicule, and prejudice that persists in a time when prejudice against race and religion is discouraged. And yet...making fun of Mormonism - hell! I make fun of Mormonism - is not only acceptable but encouraged by Christians and non-Christians alike.

But there is a part of me that is proud of the man who would become my great-great-grandfather. He truly believed - deeply - in something. So much so that he would follow his leader to unknown territory. He'd fight for his country (under orders from his prophet) to secure his country. He'd return to his 2nd wife and feel responsible for her well-being...for the well-being of their children and for the well-being of the children of his 3rd wife.

He wasn't a cheat, a thief, a liar. He was, by all accounts, a good man.

Even if he was a polygamist. Even if he was a *gasp* Mormon.

What does that make me?

1 comment:

Teresa said...

You are simply Jane in her Infinite Wisdom. ;)