May Your Burden Be Light

Ok so in my last installment, I spoke of linguistics and culture and marginalization. I started my post referring to a book called Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things by Lakoff. Well, the subtitle of this post seemed to be a misnomer. It appeared to have nothing to do with the posting and I promised a revisit to clarify why I would post that in the title. I also promised a LIGHTer posting…I hope I achieve that.

I am a bibliophile. I have a back patio filled from floor to ceiling with boxes of books. I have also given away as many books as I currently own. Funny for a kid who hated reading while growing up.

I have spent years dreaming of writing books. When I saw the title of this book, I thought, the title alone would get this book to the top ten best sellers. Twilight is a book that I have read the first 30 pages of the first book. It did not hold my interest in the least. I have however watched all but the most recent movie version of the books.

One day while chatting with a group of guys all professing to have experienced SSA, one of them said, I confess I love the Twilight books and movies. I turned to him and ask what the heck ever for. He sheepishly began to describe all the reasons why this was so. I sat in amazement as he described various parallelisms. Since then I have lost contact with him, and I would have contacted him before posting as to get his permission to share these ideas. Alas, I hope he is not offended that I have posted them here. If he were to contact me and want recognition for these Ideas, I would more than happy give him credit for them. Then recently I saw a piece about how Twighlight was Stephanie Meyers taking the Vampire concept and overlaying it on the Mormon Pioneer experience. I believe it is more the former than the latter.

Twilight for my friend best represented the SSA experience. How you might ask?

One group leaves larger group and tries to assimilate into the society at large.

If the society at large were to find out that this splinter group existed their bigotry might lead to the smaller group to have to go further into hiding.

The larger group is obsessed with converting the society at large to becoming their KIND.

Packs of other anti-undesirables seek both groups out and hunt them down.

The larger group is well organized and uses every advantage including the splinter groups own very nature against them.

Heaven forbid one of the splinter groups were to have a mixed marriage with a member of society at large.

When the larger group comes after the splinter group, the anti-desirable group joins with the splinter group in a temporary truce

The larger group and the splinter groups SPARKLE! (my favorite)

There is an uncontrolled urge that makes both the larger group and the splinter group outcast.

The splinter group is anxiously engaged in a good cause

There is the ever present issue with blood

Guys biting each others necks

Ok before I start getting too graphic, I will move on. I am sure there are many more.

To me Twilight had all the necessary elements to have the title Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. I think it should have had this title as well. I think Twilight was a dumb name that had nothing to do with the content of the book. Then something just hit me. For me Twilight is a LABEL and Women, Fire and Dangerous Things is a CONTEXTUALIZATION. Much like Gay is referred to as a LABEL and Same-Sex Attraction is a CONTEXTUALIZATION.

Language has a very strong influence on our beliefs and on our behavior. Sometimes we are not aware of its impact on us. That impact is very subtle and at time can be deadly even spiritually deadly. Now before you freak out and say that I am saying that LABELS like Gay are wrong or dumb. This is not my argument. FAR FROM IT. What I am saying is that a label or a contextualization can create a sense of being different or special.  When used to highlight a certain state of being special or victimized such language creates a cultural divide and practices marginalization and exclusionary language which spiritually deadens and separates. Anything that I do to push people away and marginalize them says more about me than it does about them.  Again, it is not the words that are used, but how they are used that matter most.

Likewise, any time I point out someone else’s faults or shortcomings, I need to step back and ask myself what is it about what they are doing is bothering me (Gay or Mormon, or both). The fact that this is bothering me might be a reflection of something that I am fracturing off of myself. If I am bothered by certain aspects of others(Mormon, Gay, or both), maybe it is because I am suppressing or denying that same trait or aspect of myself. Because I am fracturing this off, I can no longer live an honest, authentic, integrated life.

Brene Brown has a quote, “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s OUR fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” I might add that until we embrace the dark we cannot fully embrace the light. I am not saying embrace the evil. Hear me out. Until we can embrace our whole selves (LIGHT and dark), we cannot embrace others (dark and LIGHT) without judging them. Until we find ourselves comfortable in our own skin, we will never be comfortable seeing our shadows reflected back to us in others. Until we can see the “bad” reflected back at us and still love ourselves (especially that reflected in others), we can never follow the second and great commandment. LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. Maybe what I need to embrace is women, fire, and dangerous things, even  that feminine, fire, and dangerousness within me. Who knows, maybe it is this that I have fragmented off to the point that my skin burns. Maybe it will take me loving and embracing this inner darkness for me to be comfortable in my own skin to be sparkly. Until then, women may be too fiery and dangerous for me.

I will end with this scripture from James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and offend in one point, he is guilty of all” May we all recognize that what is on the outside may or may not reflect what is on the inside. May we practice inclusion instead of exclusion. May we seek to embrace the visible  darkness of others outside so we can find the hidden light within. And finally, may our burdens become LIGHT (the sparkly KIND) through the atonement of JESUS CHRIST!

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5 comments

  1. avatar

    Trev

    Wow, this is an excellent post. I didn’t care much for the Twilight part–I just find the whole series kind of goofy, but I can see how one could find the parallels you point out interesting.

    I love what you say about language: ” What I am saying is that the cultural divide that folks take when they practice marginalization and exclusionary language is spiritually deadening. Anything that I do to push people away and marginalize them says more about me than it does about them.” YES! It was that very sentiment that finally made me feel like I had to adopt “gay” for myself, even if I don’t feel it always fits just right. I felt like if I called it anything else, other people would use that difference to marginalize and look down others who were not as “good” and–really–look down on me, too, inasmuch as I don’t experience anything differently form what “they” do but just contextualize it differently.

    • avatar

      Jimmy Merrell

      My point is to say that I am responsible for me and no one else. Whether I choose to label myself or contextualizr my experience, is solely up to me. I cannot expect others to call themselves gay if I call myself gay. The best example of this is in this weekends media frenzy over the church’s new website. I see is one culture being the Gay culture wants the Church to “change”, the church has moved in the direction of softening their stance on orientation change. Yet this concept that bothers them the gay culture when directed toward them seems to be demanded in return. In the book Anatony of Peace there is a man named Ben who is a black man observing a peace march that is being fired upon with tear gas and a palistineian activist asks him how he feels about the violence directed at “his” people. Be responds that whether violence is being acted on by the the peace marchers or not, he still sees the violence in their hearts or in shadow. That shadow is still defining the light whether it is recognized or not. Until they authentically recognize that shadow and embrace it and stand in integrity regarding it, that will still remain a shadow for them. Their victim posturing is hollow. Members who try to portray themselves as loving and accepting of gay folks yet speak ill of them in church or whisper their disgust. Likewise, this is also not authentic, or integrated. To claim to have charity but only for the ones who are the most clean is not charity. Yet, I must love the hypocrite as much as I do the prophet or I am putting my lack of tolerance into shadow. The Apostle Stphen exemplified this as he prayed for the Lord to forgive those who he loved, the ones who were stoning him.

  2. avatar

    “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s OUR fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”

    I don’t know why, but I’m having a hard time really grasping what Brene Brown is saying here….especially the part about how our fear of the dark casts our joy into the shadows. Is it kind of the same concept that we are scared of our light/success/power?

    • avatar

      Jimmy Merrell

      Jamie,

      What I believe it means is that what we move away from, move against, or do in order to be pleasing to others/look good is an attempt to hide the dark side of us. Until we embrace that shadowy side and love ourselves not despite, but because of that shadowy side, that’s when we can truly be honest, integrated, authentic, and not spend our life defining ourselves by others on the outside.

  3. avatar

    Jimmy Merrell

    Trev,

    When we are busy casting the dark onto others, we may not see the dark in ourselves. That which is dark in others may be the Light in ourselves we are trying to supress or hide. That is the short answer.