So that’s why everyone thinks Carol Lynn Pearson is awesome…
I guess if you’re not a total babby to the gay Mormon world, then Carol Lynn Pearson is a household name for you. And I have heard of her and her works…I just…hadn’t really gotten what was up.
While I was driving from Texas to Oklahoma yesterday, I decided to listen to the Mormon Stories podcast episode “Carol Lynn Pearson: The Hero’s Journey of the Gay and Lesbian Mormon.” This podcast episode served multiple roles as being the latest episode of the Mormon Stories Book Club (which is about…as the title of the post suggests, Carol Lynn Pearson’s new book relating the struggles of gay and lesbian Mormons with Joseph Campbell’s research on mythic themes associated with hero journeys) as well as introducing the new Gay Mormon Stories podcast.
Early on in the podcast, John asked the various participants to explain why they think it’s important to keep on bringing up issues about homosexuality in the church. He framed his question something like:
I get a lot of grief when I do any episodes anymore on issues surrounding the gay or lesbian Mormon experience or LGBT issues or same-sex attraction issues…I have many listeners who are like, “John, can you get over the gay thing? Can we move on? Please stop gay-ifying Mormon Stories. We’re tired of it; it’s not our issue; it’s awkward; it’s uncomfortable.” I want each of you to talk about: why keep talking about the gay issue?
I didn’t like the answers that the participants originally gave for the question, but later on, Carol Lynn gave an answer that I really liked.
I think sometimes the voices of condemnation can be so hard — so loud — that they drown out the voice of God, which of course does only speak of love. And so…this is the answer to that first question you posed, John…We have to make sure that the voices of love and acceptance are louder than the voices of condemnation or even of pity…and so we have to keep talking.
Anyway, the rest of the podcast was also really good…it definitely has tipped me overboard for getting her book…and it also provided me some things to think about these posts I’ve written about “Why” questions…”Why” questions, narratives, etc. I guess what it offered was something I had already been thinking about, but something that hadn’t seem as “real” before. From my earlier post playing with non-overlapping magisteria:
What does the support for why look like?
This is a question I have asked before. It struck me a few weeks ago that many supposed answers for “why” eventually end up being, “Because it just is” or an answer to a “how” question in disguise. Neither of these are satisfying to me.
…and maybe that’s what the support for “why” looks like? It’s about what answer satisfies you.
I guess what the podcast did was it made me realize how much that narrative of the hero’s journey rang true. Then again, I guess that’s kinda to be expected — after all, Joseph Campbell studied this for a living, and having studied under Jung, he probably knew some secret hacks of the human brain to back it up.
The interesting thing is that, even though the basic framework is the same, the ways that you can spin this framework off are endless. And so seemingly mutually exclusive starting and ending points can all fit in the same hero journey framework — hence, the hero with a thousand faces.
In highly related news, as I was driving and listening to this podcast episode, I was getting all sorts of ideas about a novel based on all of this stuff. Like, if you have a framework and tropes and whatnot that you know will work, then why not go with them? I almost teared up because I thought that if I didn’t stop driving that instance, I would forget everything I was thinking about. The concept seems so simple, but of course, the execution is always the tricky part. I don’t know if I can execute, but I feel like I have to try.