Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One LDS Member's Road To Apostasy: The Story Of John Remy, Who Thinks He Knows More About The Gospel Than Thomas S. Monson

A visit to the Mormon Matters blog today directed me to the case of John Remy, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apparently, Remy has become disaffected with the Church over a period of time, to the point to where he has been summoned to appear before a disciplinary council on September 9th, 2009. The summons specifies that disfellowshipment or excommunication will be considered. Update: On September 9th, Remy was indeed excommunicated; he's taking it rather well.

Either alternative is serious, but excommunication is the most drastic, since it constitutes complete severance from membership. One may continue to attend LDS services, but one may not officially speak (that is, to give talks or to bear public testimony) or partake of the Sacrament. So naturally, I was curious to find out how John Remy ended up in this situation.

Remy is the editor of the MindOnFire blog. On his June 12th, 2009 post, he discusses what may have been the specific triggering mechanism for this disciplinary council. It involves a critique of the LDS temple ceremony as portrayed in HBO's Big Love. His critique was originally published on March 31st, 2009, and consisted of a video blog published on this YouTube video. He discusses the vengeance oath which was part of the ceremony until 1990. His objective, to use his words, was to "string together with some academic glue…[the Mountain Meadows Massacre] and secret vengeance oaths and bloody sacrificial atonement by firing squad, and demonstrate how, as part of my oath-taking, I symbolically slit my throat to show what could/should happen to me if I revealed these things to the world".

And that got the Brethren's attention. On June 10th, Remy got advance warning from his stake president about possible future disciplinary action. His stake president informed him that what he, Remy, had written on his blog about the temple was considered offensive to the sanctity of the temple, and that he would be receiving an "invitation" to a council because his mishandling of these sacred things was not in keeping with the oaths he made and his position as a member of the LDS Church.

At this point, had John Remy re-considered his actions, and perhaps even taken down the offending post and video, the proposed disciplinary council might not have materialized. However, Remy, who appears to be absolutely untroubled by the prospect of excommunication, persisted in his "activism", and upon returning home from dinner on September 7th, on his wedding anniversary no less, was greeted by a formal notice of a disciplinary council. I do think the Church should have given him more than two days lead time, though.

Of course, this naturally begs the question; if Remy was so disaffected with the Church, why didn't he simply submit a letter of resignation and go his separate way, finding his own road to spiritual satisfaction? In this post, he explains his primary motivation:

One of the reasons I didn’t rush to remove my name from the records was because I was conscious that I have more power to criticize the Church while I’m an official member. Once I’m off, I’m easily dismissed as a critic of any value. Some of you might want to think about this, as you debate whether or not to remove your name from Church records. I prefer to use my exit to draw at least a little attention to the negative aspects of the Church, rather than leaving quietly. I only get one chance at this, after all.

Translation: Although on September 8th Remy posted five reasons why he did not choose resignation, the impression I get is that Remy's an attention whore whose ego was ruffled by the failure of the General Authorities to immediately bow to his "superior wisdom" and conduct him to the "judgment seat" straightaway. So instead of leaving quietly, he instead chooses to use his exit to make a public "political statement" and attack the Church. Another one of those "valuable intellectual properties" against who Boyd K. Packer has previously cautioned us.

The glory of God may be intelligence, but the curse of God are intellectuals.

Of course, that does NOT mean I rejoice at the prospect of John Remy's excommunication. No LDS member who truly believes in the doctrine can rejoice at someone's excommunication, although excommunication can actually be little more than a one-year long "timeout" rather than a final act if one is repentant. But unfortunately, when one combines Remy's actions with his apparent attitude, Remy has left the Church little alternative than to sever him from membership, which includes revocation of Priesthood and nullification of any other ordinances. And this is a man who actually fulfilled a full-time mission for the Church in the past.

One can only hope that John Remy will decide to use his pending excommunication as an opportunity to re-direct himself towards finding an alternate route to spiritual satisfaction rather than slip into Ed Decker mode and wage a war against the Church that, in the long run, he cannot win.

No comments: