Joe Geisner wrote:
The real perversion of the gospel is looking at the life of Christ and believing that the mission of going out after the one includes the unwritten addendum to bring him back and roast him on a spit.
This is beautiful and quite powerful.
When people suggest that the institutional Church is good, I think of the excommunication of Lavina Fielding Anderson and Janice Allred. These two people are the most Christ like people I know, and yet they were thrown away.
People like Dano and Lou get to sit back and heckle without fear. This is wrong.
I completely agree with you that Anderson and Allred are wonderful people and while I find Allred's scriptural exegesis to be seriously flawed I do find her work interesting.
I don't know as much about the Anderson excommunication so I can't really comment but I know a bit about Allred's. The fact is that Allred was openly and vigorously promoting the practice of praying (and possibly worshiping) Mother in Heaven. I'm not saying that idea is bad or good .... different strokes and all that. However, this teaching was at complete odds with the LDS Church's official doctrine.
I'll use hyperbole but what if I were Catholic and started encouraging other Catholics to begin worshipping at a statue of Mohammed? I could be the nicest guy in the world but my exhortations aren't going to fly.
When I was working for the NYSE and had started openly and publically stating that NASDAQ was the place to list new IPOs I would have been fired. When you are willfully a member of an organization I believe it is important for individuals have respect for that organization's official position.
I'm NOT saying that Church members should not explore and discuss theological questions and raise concerns to Church leaders. I think the Church would benefit from a little more open discussion.
I like Armand Mauss' take on it. He stated something to the effect that if a family member does something you stronly disagree with you don't go running to the newspapers. You keep it in the family and work it out. Plus, in the case of the Church we know that going to the press only causes policies to become MORE entrenched -- at least in the short term. If you take a close look at Spencer Kimball's apostolic career it becomes evident that he was moved, inspired, and influenced by members who expressed concern about the priesthood ban. I think he had in mind to change the policy as early as 1969 and it is telling that Stake Presidents and Bishops in Brazil were told months, if not years before OD-2. Kimball had to lobby the 12.
So I do understand the Church's actions but I disagree with how the entire affair was handled. The Church botched that one. At the same time, Allred knew what she was doing and if she says she didn't see it coming I would be surprised. She watched Sonia Johnson.
I'm not disparaging creative and exploratory theology (speculative theology I could do without) and I think the Church would benefit from deeper theological reflection. But there are certain ways to express new ideas within the Church and Allred did it all wrong.
I have a pending publication (in a Catholic legal journal) that looks at the whole concept of eternal progression and offers up an interpretation that differs from the official Church line. The paper has been floating around since 2010 as I've been getting feedback and critique from colleagues and friends. I don't anticipate any trouble with the Church.
Also take a look at Taylor Petrey's Dialogue article from last year. He offers a heterodox interpretation of sexuality and its place in the Church. He's still active as can be (and a great guy to boot btw...).
Whenever you are part of an organization It is important to understand the cultural place of disagreement. In our current top-heavy corporate structure where so much emphasis is placed on "following the prophet" it is important to express ideas in such a way as to not undermine the Church's authority -- that is, of course, if you wan't to remain a Church member.
ETA - not really edited to add but rather change "constructive theology" to "speculative theology" which is what I really meant.