Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mrs. Marriott gives up magnolias on her wedding day...

I haven't been blogging much about Mormonism lately, though I do keep my eyes peeled for interesting stories.  Yesterday, I ran across a video posted from the most recent LDS General Conference.  It's a talk given by Neill F. Marriott, whose lilting southern accent comes through in a story she tells about feeling "homeless" after leaving Louisiana for Utah.  She had been a Mormon convert for a year and was traveling to Salt Lake City on her own to get married.

At the beginning of her speech, Marriott explains that when she was born, her parents had planted a magnolia tree so there would be magnolia blossoms at her wedding in the protestant church of her forefathers.  On her wedding day, Marriott's parents were not at her side.  That was no doubt because they were not Mormons.  Non Mormons or "unworthy" Mormons aren't allowed to visit LDS temples for silly things like weddings.  So Marriott's parents, who had lovingly and thoughtfully planted a magnolia tree for her on the joyous occasion of her birth and the potential occasion of her wedding day, were left out of that important ceremony that binds two families.

Marriott goes on to wax poetic about nurturing people and being a "mother".  I can't help but wonder how Marriott's own mother felt when her daughter rejected her on her wedding day.  I'm sure it hurt like hell.  I don't know anything about Neill F. Marriott, but I have to wonder if her parents really deserved that treatment.  Of course, it looks like she married well and she has eleven children of her own.  If one of those children decides he or she no longer wants to be Mormon, I wonder how Mrs. Marriott will feel about it.  Does she have hopes and dreams for her children?  Is she prepared to let them live their own lives and choose their own faith?

I know there are some progressive and loving Mormons out there.  Some of them may even be alright with their offspring making their own decisions about what to believe.  But when I listen to Neill F. Marriott, obviously a high ranking woman in the LDS church, talk about the importance of nurturing and mothering, I wonder how Marriott's own mother felt on her daughter's wedding day.  Maybe she wanted to be there to nurture her daughter, but Marriott was being attended to by her husband's stepgrandmother "Aunt Carol" instead.

One of the things that upsets me most about the LDS church is that members often think their beliefs deserve respect rather than simple tolerance.  I don't respect religious beliefs that tear apart families.  The LDS church tears apart families, despite their "families are forever" mantra.  Families are only forever in their eyes when everyone is obedient to the powers that be.  When someone in a family goes rogue and starts thinking for themselves, all hell breaks loose.  You end up with people being shunned, politely excluded, or turned into a reconversion project, even as Mormons preach about "free agency".  That is very destructive behavior that does not call for "respect".  The right to free agency among Mormons seems to only apply when it's beneficial to promoting a specific agenda.  They don't seem to accept it when someone decides Mormonism is no longer for them.

I've seen my own loving husband lose his daughters, in part, over a made up religion.  I'm not stupid enough to think that Mormonism is the only reason my husband's daughters disowned him.  Their mother did the same thing to her first husband's relationship with their son before she converted to Mormonism.  But Mormonism definitely played a part in the alienation campaign.  It was a good tool the Ex could use to convince her daughters that their father was "unworthy" of them.  In the long run, they lose.

My husband's daughters have missed out on knowing their father, who is a kind, loving, and intelligent man and certainly "worthy" of them.  In fact, I don't think my husband's ex daughters are fit to shine their father's shoes.  He's a much better person than they are, simply because he has an open mind and an accepting heart.  He doesn't abandon people over their personal religious beliefs.  And though they and others may not believe it, my husband didn't abandon his daughters.  They abandoned HIM.  Had the situation been reversed and one of them had come to him no longer believing in the Mormon church, most decent people would have expected him to be kind and understanding about it.  But kindness and understanding is not what many Mormons offer when a fellow member determines that they no longer believe.  My husband's daughters were certainly angry that he and his ex wife divorced, but they were also angry that he quit the church.  In their eyes, it means he's cast off God.

In a way, I'm sorry I listened to Neill F. Marriott speak.  Not only is the cultish delivery of her speech disturbing and weird, it's also a reminder of families torn apart by religion.  Her parents thought enough of her to plant a magnolia tree when she was born.  They had hopes and dreams for her.  She repays her parents by abandoning them to join a cult that doesn't deem them worthy enough to see their daughter get married.  How fucked up is that?  But it's her life.  I hope she can live with the consequences.  I respect Mrs. Marriott's free agency, even as I don't respect what she did on her wedding day to her parents, who planted a magnolia tree in her honor when she was born.

I suppose this is one more thing for which I can be grateful to Bill's ex.  She threw away a wonderful man who is now my husband.  She also inspired me to learn more about Mormonism and other "strict" exclusionary religions.  I know enough to see beyond the fake smiles and feelgood speeches.  Mormonism is a crock of shit.  I'm glad I was never tempted by it.

Anyway... now to get back to reading about psychopaths.  That's slightly less upsetting.




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