Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Disappear

(Image Credit: Underwater Portraits by Hana Al-Sayed)

This is not an expression of happiness or hope. This is an expression of the complete sadness and helplessness I felt while sitting in the pews last Sunday.

A lovely woman in the ward sang a musical number, “The Family is of God.” As I listened to the lyrics, I felt my eyes well up with tears before the first verse was over. Surely onlookers would have perceived my emotional state as an expression of the spirit, but it wasn’t.

The woman sang:

Our Father has a family. It’s me!
It’s you, all others too: we are His children.
He sent each one of us to earth, through birth,
To live and learn here in fam’lies.

It’s such a wonderful idea with such a contradictory message. If families include “all others too,” where is my Mother? Does Her existence mean so little? Are Her contributions unworthy of recognition? Are we not part of Her family? Are we not Her children? Is She bound to a soul which is so dominate that He’s oppressive?

If it is my highest degree of glory to become Heavenly Mother, then my gender has eternally damned me to an existence where my children are discouraged from communing with me. I would watch them grow from a distance while my daughters would wonder aimlessly, or project themselves in a male paradigm that thwarts their priesthood participation. My destiny would be to bind myself to a male where my purpose would be to uphold His glory and power, while our children sing praises of His love, grace, and power. I might be mentioned in an occasional footnote or two, but it doesn’t really matter. This song is the gut-wrenching reminder that the purpose of my eternal existence is to disappear—to live a mortal life, create eternal life, and disappear.

If this is an accurate projection of Heavenly Father’s family, becoming Heavenly Mother would be a truly horrifying fate.

This is not an appeal to literalistic interpretations, but rather a call to question what narratives we are teaching our congregations about the worth and value of a woman’s existence.

It hurts to listen to the same excuses over and over: “We don’t speak of Her out of respect,” or “It’s for Her protection.” Neglect is not respect. There is absolutely no doctrinal foundation for such a useless claim. She is a GODDESS. She doesn’t need protection from our meager human existence. Unless we believe She is so weak She can’t handle Her own children. If so, are we really so prideful to believe we could injure Her in Her status of Godhood? That sounds like hubris.

Whether or not we want to admit it, the Gods we worship are made in our image, or rather reflections of ourselves, our religions, and societies. Her absence is my absence. We are symbiotically connected with Her and our Gods. Her absence is just a symptom of the circular patriarchal logic that dictates the majority of world religions. We worship a male God that is written about in male-dominated texts, and those texts are interpreted by the male clergy. No wonder God is male; women weren’t a part of the discussion. We’re set on a winding staircase of circular madness that leads to the same destination every time then question, “Why don’t we know more about Heavenly Mother?” It’s insanity.

This is nothing new. Women have been yearning for a divine role model long before my existence. Mormon Feminists have been crying out for their Mother since the beginning, starting with Eliza R. Snow. Yet here we are—hashing out the same old dialogue over and over and over in digital spaces searching for someone who is willing to listen to the souls crying out for their Mother.

The message I received on Sunday was, “Blaire, your existence doesn’t matter here. If your church is true, fiction, or somewhere in between, it doesn’t really matter. Your place in this world and the next, in reality or fantasy, is unworthy of equitable participation or recognition. You can love with all your heart, study with all your mind, work with all your might, but your place in the Heavenly Eternal Family is not even worth being mentioned in a primary song. Your trajectory is to fade into the background and disappear.”

You’d think after so many years of this nonsense it would stop hurting so much, but it doesn’t. It still hurts. EVERY. SINGLE. SUNDAY. We deserve a better message.

*Published at Feminist Mormon Housewives on Tuesday, November 1, 2016