Creative Installment: another ‘failed’ experiment
Transcribed Oral Story (15:45 minutes long)
You can listen here.
Beginning – Me talking the whole time:
One of the stories told over and over again is the story of Joseph Smith. He is of course the founder of um the Mormon church which is called, people were called Mormons a long time because his vision to find the gold plates which was called the book of Mormon. And It was only years later that they said, ‘no, we’re the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’. Partly because they were doing the typical rhetoric, uh renaming um
– laughs –
My cat is insisting on being pet while I do this. Okay. Um But yeah It’s the same as when they took back the term queer or umm don’t call ahhh people don’t want to be called Hispanic. They want to be called Latinos or Chicanos ‘cause Hispanics got a negative rap for a while or Mormons got a negative, anyway, it’s the same thing. So then they were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints which of course is a mouthful so they Shortened it to LDS the latter day saint part being as what they considered as unique. So uh, which is, uh, truuue? I mean I guess I would say all followers of Christ are latter day saints but just really, trying to articulate the new revelation from god factor.
So growing up we learned the story of Joseph Smith.Uuh, Joseph smith was 14 years old. And uh, the We learned that there was a time that was, I think it was called the spiritual enlightenment I was looking it up for this class actually, or class, English 550 And um, the spiritual enlightenment, 1820 early 1800’s is happening and He is basically like visiting all the churches and the story goes Joseph smith was confused because every church said that they were the one true church and he said, “How could they all be true?”
And so, one of the, I think it’s supposed to be one of the pastors, Someone tells him, oh you should, you should pray about it. Oh right, right, there’s a scripture in James, If a man asks of god with good intent then God’ll tell you right? So he prays and prays and goes out into the woods and Satan attacks him. An unknown darkness attacks him and is trying to stop him from praying because Satan knows that he’s about to get revelation from god to restore the one true church. Um. And I have to let the cat out.
So, It’s ironic that the answer to which church is true is none of them, I’m going to show you the one that IS the one true church. So, sticking with there is one true church. So he prays and its, the a big deal, a big part of the vision is the Father and the son in perfected physical bodies appear to him um, like in the air, so they are floating in the sacred grove like the Mormons have bought the land and I went and visited when I was twelve. To visit the sacred grove and we could all feel the spirit, as it were, there. [Laughs] So yeah, he prays there. God appears to him and says, “Joseph, this is my beloved son, Jesus Christ, who I have sacrificed for the sins of the world.”
And then Jesus is like, “heeyy” [laughs] No. No he’s not. It’s always very formal, the formal language and then they tell him that the angel Moroni is going to visit him later and give him more instructions. Uh, which happens. So um, so the age thing is interesting and, because he’s super young for starting a new church. Uh and, The church isn’t officially organized until later. Like God keeps visiting so he finds the plates and he gets the priesthood bestowed upon him. Oh but before that, actually John the Baptist unless I’m mistaken, wow my folklore is a little rusty but uh, ya know. Reappears because he’s been resurrected prematurely and stuff because he’s a good dude baptizing Christ and all. So John the Baptist who baptized Christ comes to baptize Joseph Smith and um ‘cause you have to get baptized, to get into heaven. It’s really important, So there’s a lot of people that are screwed but, see this is my problem.
[5.5 minutes in]
I can’t tell these stories orally I think actually very well actually because I just – laughsl a lot of negativity and maybe not outright bitterness but I would say at least latent bitterness. It would also be interesting exercise if I could like, make myself tell the stories again like as if I believed. It would probably be really cool and also disturbing. Uh, but that’s the other thing that like when I tell these stories – I’m remembering and like I remember believing all of it. And uh, I was going to tell all of the Joseph Smith story or am telling it or I did a shitty job of telling it because it is what I do just remember, I remember hearing and learning that story at my parents knee, literally. And going to Sunday school and learning the stories learning about Christ learning about Joseph smith, learning about the pioneers ya know before, or As I’m learning to read so the oral tradition is definitely, definitely there and I would say the oral tradition is probably where like some of the, potentially some of the quirkier stuff or just like where Mormon folklore comes about. Like there’s all these jokes about, you know the celebrities that are mormon and, I dunno. Anyway.
I was going to follow up the Joseph Smith story with, ya know, he’s 14 when he has his revelation with me getting my patriarchal blessing. Um. Which I did the winter of my 8th grade year. Things were rough for me. I had a falling out with my friends. Um. In retrospect I can see that depression was starting — laughsl — or ya know, maybe I already had it. IT was ya know, low-level depression. It was only three years later of having depression that then I started having suicidal thoughts uh, but yeah so like I kinda had a falling out with my friends I was sorta making new friends. And it’s interesting though, when I think about it — My new friends were kind of the bad kids. So, um…Yeah it’s possible I didn’t feel fully comfortable embracing and accepting them as friends because I was, –pause– when I think about it, it was kinda weird that I was making friends with them because I was like I always knew the answers in Sunday school, like star, Mormon-Molly but then I was friends with Jenny who was like rebellious and lived in a trailer park and So actually when I think about it there was definitely class things happening too. But yeah, like, ‘cause my other friend Shawn also kinda from a poor family and he was like, not, I don’t even know, I think —
I think his family was mormon just by proxy. like if you grow up in Utah It’s rare that you aren’t officially mormon even if you never are active as they say. Is that the parents will…Some how or another you will have gotten baptized when you were eight and then. Yeah.So. So here I am, so I have sort of have new friends, new old friends that I’ve like never been close with possibly largely because they were poorer than my family was poor or they were less mormon than my family was mormon and um. And um. And. So I did what I was taught. I prayed more and read the scriptures more and I decided, ya know. I was a little younger than they usually….They want you to be 12-years-old. Um so ya know I was 13 almost 14 so it wasn’t like unreasonable, it was still a little unusual. Usually…. I think men and women are usually like a little bit older. Um, maybe boys sometimes would get it when they get the aaronic priesthood which happens at 12.
Gosh there’s like so many layers and steps that I uh, take for granted that I just know them so Yeah.
So I, I went, I pushed, my parents were like, “are you sure?” and I was like, “Yes.” And so,um, I went and got it. And basically what happens is you have an interview with the patriarch which is someone who is called to do it and they do it like until they die for a region, usually a stake or several stakes. Which – laughs — A stake is not a piece of meat it’s or a peg in the ground it’s what they call a group of wards and wards is a congregation. And yeah, so on and so forth.
Coughs [10:45 minutes in]
Um Yeah, so. I wanna say his name is something Harvey, why is that. I dunno. I’m related to some Harveys. So maybe I’m mixing things up. I’d have to ask my mom. I should probably remember or have it on record. They keep it on record forever so even if you lose your patriarchal blessing you can get it again. Anyway, they do an initial interview to make sure you’re like worthy and ready and stuff. And then you go back again and just in his house Which is was very ornate, speaking of class. He was really….judging by his house he was definitely wealthier. So I don’t know if the church pays him or something but um. Yeah so he, he … they record it. And his wife would transcribe it which that is interested I’m just remember that now. And then, yeah so I read a copy of it. You…
Which definitely had more impact than, cause You just can’t remembering everything that he says. But you find out when you compare notes with other people which you’re kinda not discouraged from doing. Like you’re only supposed to share your patriarchal blessing with your spouse and your immediately family. Um, but, I think the reason why is there’s a lot of language in there that is like stock language like you’re adopted into the tribe of Israel that is called Ephraim and you’ll be resurrected on the morning, on the first morning of the oh, what’s it called. And. Like it says you’ll marry a priesthood-holder, tells me that my kids are going to be really hard and difficult and I’ll need to utilize all my family and my husband’s family to help raise them. Which, sorta terrified me I, it…That combined with my depression I think honestly to do this day it’s just like, “ehhhh… Do I really want to have children? They are obviously going to be devils and really hard and Um, yeah….”
And it also said that I was really sensitive and that this would become more pronounced as I got older. Uh, which now, right now, I’m wondering, “Oh Is that uh, did he like pick that up in the pre-interview and… I dunno. Planted the seed …for my depression to get worse? –laughs – I dunno. Probably not. That is overthinking it. Overthought it.
So um… yeah. I dunno.
I’m not sure what to do with this project. I’m thinking… This is an experiment. I wanted to try an oral story and… I feel like the lesson learned is that it’s hard – laughs – and uh.
I dunno. I can’t um. It’s hard to tell it because I feel like I have to explain so much about Mormon culture along the way and then I get sidetracked which I am, it’s super easy to sidetrack me with sidestories anyway and then, that I, I am still processing I think. A lot of the stuff that I went through or that I was taught and so ya know, when I tell these stories and I remember how fervently I believed and how much I, trying to make that religion make me feel happier when in fact if anything It was doing the opposite. Um….
It’s hard. I can’t um
…pause… Yeah, there’s definitely feelings that are still there and…
And and ugh/sigh. Yeah. Well, — laughs — here was my oral, that’s all. Uh, I’m rendered inarticulate as I hone in with the pain of my 13-year-old self. Which, I mean I don’t know of any, I never heard of any woman in the world not remember that age and just being like, “oh god’ But. Um. So I don’t think I’m special or unique in that way. Um. But. Just as I remember how I tried to feel better by like praying more and being more righteous… uh, It’s sad. It’s sad. Yeah pain painful memories.
Um. I will stick to the scripture format ‘cause that’s fun. And it’s vindicating because it’s a little bit of a fuck you. Yeah.
Yep. That’s where I’m at.