Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I love Kirby

For your viewing pleasure, here's Kirby's latest. I think it's a gem.

You can't be happy if you're not in, right?

By Robert Kirby
Salt Lake Tribune columnist
05/04/2007

Ben and I hadn't seen each other in the 10 years since the LDS Church excommunicated him. We stood next to each other at a downtown crosswalk for more than a minute before realizing who the other was.

Maybe it was the fact that Ben seemed happy that threw me.

According to church lore, he's supposed to be miserable, a spiritless outcast slouching from pillar to post with nary a moment's peace. He should look like Gollum by now.

Instead, Ben was a few pounds heavier, smiling, and holding the hand of the woman he's been married to for 30-plus years. We went to a restaurant and caught up.

Since his excommunication, Ben has defied church odds. He has not been divorced, driven to drink, financially ruined or infested with vermin. He's not even particularly distraught. He regrets what happened but seems OK with it now.

Ben supports his wife in her church callings and occasionally drops in to see how the old crowd is doing. But he's not interested in hooking up again.

Hmm, maybe Ben is just pretending to be happy. Maybe deep down his eviction from the Lord's church has him writhing in a pit of despair.

As a young missionary, I believed excommunication was the worst thing that could happen to a person. It was the mission form of a ghost story, tales of people who wandered the Earth damned because some ultimate transgression had cost them their membership.

Excommunication can be that awful for some people. The few I saw it happen to back then were certainly upset about it. It looked and sounded awful enough to keep me in line.

But I'm older now, and I've seen that it doesn't work that way for everyone. We'd like to be able to predict another person's misery or happiness, but we can't.

That doesn't stop us from trying. I've heard repeatedly in church that the only way to true happiness is through "the church" or "the gospel" or "total obedience" to some other ecclesiastically mandated operation.

Maybe happiness is that way for the person who's saying it. But it automatically follows, then, that most of the world is unhappy, that it's relatively impossible for Hindus or Catholics to know true joy.

That's a pretty conceited way to look at the world - that you have it figured out and 99 percent of everyone else hasn't. It's astonishing how well they hide their wretchedness.

I'm no expert (according to every authority figure in my life), but happiness seems to depend on making good choices, a process that's available to everyone, including those who don't think like us and those we don't like to think about.

3 Comments:

Blogger Melessa said...

I love Kirby too, and I wish I had written this.

5/29/2007 9:43 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Caroline, how inspiring. Thanks for sharing it.

5/30/2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Anna Maria Junus said...

Something to think about.

I think we get so caught up in being in the "one true church" that we forget that people of other faiths have the truth as well even if it isn't as much as we have. What's more, Heavenly Father loves them, answers their prayers and blesses them. And many are far more righteous than the Saints.

6/16/2007 1:33 AM  

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