Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recalling Second LDS Excommunication

Event: June 6, 1992;
Updated: February 11, 2012.

[On July 25, 1975, exactly ten years after the event that initiated my original conflict with the Mormon Church (a revelation on the Negro), I was re-baptized into the Church with the enthusiastic support of Stake President Ferren L. Christensen at my request. I had felt there was unfinished business to attend to. Now, almost 17 years later, I was facing another trial for membership, but this time able to stand in my own defense.]

This second excommunication was precipitated by my upraised hand in opposition to sustaining general and local Mormon authorities at an annual stake conference in January 1992 in Ventura, CA. I had raised my hand as the only way I could think of to call public attention to what I fervently believed had become an ill-advised official policy of intimidation of the LDS intellectual community, which I'd only recently become aware of. To me it was clearly a policy of "unrighteous dominion", an ecclesiastic term familiar to all Mormon priesthood holders. How dare I think this or presume to hold those in power to account?! To some of my closest LDS friends I had announced this intent so to vote at an upcoming annual conference of about 5,000 voting members. One of these friends advised that I risked excommunication. "Not so!" I retorted. Surely we had not sunk to the level of the Soviets, who used similar tactics against their dissidents.

Two years earlier (March 1990) I had delivered a paper titled The Values Crisis to the Sunstone West Symposium in Pasadena, California, which describes similarities and contrasts between Mormon and Soviet leadership attitudes and behavior. It was this paper that was used as primary evidence for the1992 excommunication decision by Ventura stake president and Ventura County deputy sheriff Richard C. Bryce.

The "disciplinary" event was a six-hour KGB-like interrogation. The proceedings were recorded by Rex Mitchell, one of my closest friends, who was allowed to sit with me from among the nearly two dozen people who came to the trial to offer moral support.  When Rex realized what was happening he began to secretly take notes. Of all those whom I could have chosen as a special witness, Rex was by far the most qualified to make a rigorous account. His report is now in the public record at the University of Utah special collections library archives.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Recalling First LDS Excommunication (in absentia)

Event: Mother's Day 1966;
Updated: 11 Feb 2012

I didn't learn about my first excommunication, which had occurred in absentia, until the following month. It was on Mother's Day, 1966, during a phone conversation with Mother, who was concerned for my soul, that I first learned of the decision. I had called her on that day from the beach house in Laguna Beach despite the tension between us. While on the phone, I saw two men in dark suits approach the front door and knock. I opened the door while still on the phone to ask what they wanted, since I didn't recognize them. After determining my name, they handed me an official envelope and left without comment. I described this event to Mother as it was happening and opened the envelope after the men had left to read its contents aloud.

It was the most terrible news she could have imagined: an official notification of my excommunication from the Mormon Church that had taken place on April 2, 1966, a month earlier. [Note: until her death in 2003, I think Mother, a life-long devout Mormon, believed my account of that event on that day was a ruse and that I had saved that letter to read to her on Mothers Day.]

After the phone call and noting the excommunication date in the letter, I went to my dream journal to look for anything that might be connected and discovered a dream that came to me only hours after that decision. I was at a location hundreds of miles away.

3 April 1966
Carmel, CA 0515. I am walking alone, naked. An older man, official looking, also naked, approaches me with recognition. "Come, I've been waiting for you, looking forward to this," he says. Then he leads me on a circuitous route through unseen barriers over the wooden floor in the middle of a large deserted hall, like a basketball court in an LDS church building. As I follow him he talks about how much he has wanted to do this and how ready I seem to be.
 Eventually we come to a sophisticated machine. On it is the word "spectroscope". There is a chair attached to it in which I am to sit. A metal arm holds some kind of mirror with a slit device that is positioned in back of the chair which faces the consul part of the machine. Apparently I am to be examined through this slit from my back.
 Now I am aware of lying face down, still naked, between two metal posts on some kind of altar. Many men are milling around, members of the LDS priesthood (in their temple robes), going about their business in preparation to experiment with me. I'm being groomed or prepared for something.
 One of the men comes over to me, having recognized me, and asks, "How was Mazatlan?" (Up to this time everything had seemed impersonal.) I reply, "Oh, there were some complications and we haven't made it yet. It's still pending." Another brother (familiar face, reddish hair, one who curries favor with leaders) looks up a little surprised and asks if my first name is Gene.
 I acknowledge this and then realize he now knows who I am and of the stake action taken against me. I watch him go over to Brother Kenner, the presiding authority, and whisper in his ear while looking and pointing at me. Brother Kenner looks up with an angry start at me and with a fierce look and quick gesture with his right arm motions me to get out immediately (like being put out of a baseball game).
 Frightened, I get up and begin running away still naked and feeling like Cain fleeing. On my way out I hear angry voices behind me. Someone shouts, "I'll kill him! I'll kill him!" Then another voice, interrupting, but emphatic and calm, says "No. In this church nobody better be found killing one of these!"...
[The voice is that of Ferren L. Christensen.]

 I awake deeply distressed.

CREEI score: +?+??-//--?/+?-;   Pattern: Anticipatory-traumatic

The entire dream plus a CDL (creative deep listening) processing of it will follow at a later date....