Saturday, November 7, 2015


I'll say it again.


Those of you who aren't Mormon might not have heard about the hullabaloo that is currently rocking the Mormon world.  On Thursday information was leaked that the Mormon church has changed their policy to state that children of people in same-sex marriages can't be baptized or christened into the Mormon church.  They have to wait until they are 18 and no longer living with their parents.

I should start off by saying that I am Mormon and I think this policy is hurtful and discriminatory.  I know there are lots of reasons why people are saying this policy is in place--I haven't found any that sit well with me.

My current thoughts are actually all about Eavan Boland.

For those of you who don't know who she is, Eavan Boland is an incredibly famous Irish poet and she once did a reading at my college (and the fact that she would be willing to come to my small Midwestern college is sort of a miracle).  When she spoke to us she started out by telling us a story of the Irish conflict.  She spoke of a time when there were 12 men on work bus in Northern Ireland.  The bus was pulled over by rebels with guns who asked the men to get out.  They were lined up, and the men with guns then asked anyone who was Catholic to step forward.  Eleven of the men on the bus were Protestant.  One was Catholic.  The men worked together and knew one another well.  As the one Catholic started to step forward, the man next to him, reached out and took his hand--a sign that no one would give him up if he chose not to step forward. He stepped forward, and the men with guns turned and shot the 11 Protestants.

Ms Boland then said, "We expect literature to be that hand the reaches out telling us that we belong.  It's not."

One of the professors actually scoffed out loud (yes, fellow Knox-ites, it was Robin).  Ms Boland then read us part of the poem that Auden wrote when Yeates died.

"Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen"
She repeated, "poetry makes nothing happen." (Robin was openly, repeatedly scoffing at this point. In fact, the whole literature department was verging on a riot)

She's right.  Poetry makes nothing happen. That doesn't mean it doesn't have value.

I think that part of the trouble with the current Mormon debacle is that we expect religion to be the hand that reaches out telling us that we belong and that we are safe. It's not. That doesn't mean it doesn't have value.

Organizations, religions, literature, our jobs, video games, or any of the myriad of things that we turn to in times of crisis can't reach out their hands, because they aren't people.  What can reach out a hand? Me. I can.The incredible thing about the story of the Irish conflict is that the hand that reaches out is a hand.  It's a person, and that's the only thing that ever can reach out--the hand of someone who knows us, the hand of someone who cares.

My religion is huge.  There are almost 15 million members around the world.  It is an organization that is committed to doing good.  Just last week they asked their members to contribute generously to help refugees world-wide.  Its size and structure make it capable of so much good.  But, also, its size and structure mean that it moves slowly--especially when it comes to social issues.

And that is the lesson I am taking from this whole issue.  If you are stepping away from the church, I understand.  If you feel excluded, if you are hurt, offended, sad, or disappointed, I understand.  Please know that my hand is out.

You are safe here.

In all of the reading that I've done over the last few days about this issue, this is my favorite quote

"We take turns, then, don't we? When you are caught on any plains where love is not, I will gather what I have bring what I can.  And when I have used up all my love and am stranded in the cold, I will watch for you to appear with fresh supplies.  That way we can make it, I think, all of us. We can be sufficiently creative and sufficiently kind that we will draw circle upon circle upon circle, bringing each other in, leaving no one out, joining, liking, enlarging, until the pattern of the whole human family seen through the Eye of God, is complete." Carol Lynn Pearson

There is space for you, no matter your religion, creed, or color, in my circle.



  1. Really lovely Sallee, thank you. I need these words, I need this support. 😘

  2. Darling girl....I want to share this with the world. Thank you for being you and helping me through this stressful day of teaching Sunday School and not mentioning the issue but having it screaming in the back of my mind. I love you.

  3. Loved this. Thanks, Sallee. It's nice to hear it said in such a beautiful metaphor how vulnerable our religion can make us feel. I love it, love the gospel and (lots of times) the Church, and sometimes it is comforting to me, but sometimes... it feels like the people who need the comforting most are getting gunned down. So maybe I can be a healer. Maybe Christ's love can heal some people through me. Including, I guess, some of the people for whom this week is the first instance of their Church hurting or shocking them, betraying their ideals and expectations. They'll be bewildered now too.

  4. This is lovely. May I share the quote at the end? (I don't know you, but I know your husband from my BYU days.)

    1. Of course. It's not my quote so I took it too. Carol Lynn Pearson is amazing