Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Great Fellowship of Love: Mormons and Catholics United

In all the fallout over what happened in California with proposition 8, I think we must not lose sight of a modern-day miracle. With signs and wonders from the hand of God at a premium these days, we need to celebrate each and every one that comes our way.

Gay people—gay lives, gay loves, gay flesh and blood—have just accomplished what ecumenists (not to mention the Spirit Herself) have tried to do for decades, and have failed at: the Mormon and the Catholic churches have just found common ground. In fact, it’s not a stretch to conclude that the Mormon and the Catholic churches have just declared themselves one church now, a church united in a common cause (

They’ve united. And they have the gays to thank. Gay people, gay lives, gay loves, gay flesh and blood: gays as juicy diversionary targets for a culture in which the power of religious groups to coerce democratic voters is waning and needs a booster shot. We gays turn out to be just what the Mormons and the Catholics needed to get themselves recognized as movers and shakers again: a shared enemy over whose prostrate body the two religious groups can shake hands, exult in victory, and declare themselves one great fellowship of love.

The Morlic Church. Bishops calling prophets calling elders calling priests, burning up the phone lines. One great fellowship of love. Yes, indeed!

Mind you, I’m not sure the-gays-as-despised-victims are going to be able to do all that needs to be done to hold the new Morlic Church together. After all, we’re talking about religious groups with wildly disparate belief systems, radically different rituals. And head-butting truth claims that wipe each other out. We’re talking about two churches that both claim to own God and God’s absolute revealed truth—unilaterally and exclusively.

So I anticipate some fireworks when the position of pope and prophet gets sorted out in the new Morlic Church’s one great fellowship of love. The polity of these two churches is certainly very much alike. If you wanted to identify the two most hierarchical, male-dominated churches in all of Christendom, I don’t think you could come up with a closer match than Mormonism and Catholicism.

Top-down, males on top, truth owned at the top and disbursed in tiny tidbits to a faithful constantly enjoined to be obedient and receptive or be damned: that’s Catholicism. And it’s Mormonism.

And the closeness of the two may make not only for one great fellowship of love, but for sparks, when the two unite as Latter-Day Morlickism. When pope and prophet both claim the uncontested right to speak God’s word to the flock today, who’s going to be on top? Who’s going to give?

Since strong currents in both groups insist on women’s subordination, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that the fancy frocks Benedict sports (sometimes misconstrued as female attire) might give President and Prophet Monson an edge? If males are on top, President and Prophet Monson surely does dress the part.

But popes do have that well-known and sometimes a tad bit refractory penchant for wiliness. I can admit it. I’m Catholic. I know my people. And if I have learned one thing from years of watching my people, it's that, though clothes may make the man, lace and silk frocks do not the woman make. Not when a man is wearing them.

So I wouldn’t count on the befrocked Pope to submit to the business-suit attired President and Prophet. Not without a struggle. But all normed by the one great fellowship of love, of course. With its shared disdain for gay human beings, gay bodies, gay loves.

It’s going to be interesting, watching the fireworks at the love feasts. But, heck, if religion doesn’t provide us with interesting shows in American culture, what on earth does it do?