Excommunicated Latter-day Saint writer Lavina Fielding Anderson made the news last week after her request to rejoin the Mormon fold was summarily turned down by the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Lavina — I’m going to use her first name here because she’s a friend — was exed in 1993 for writing an article about the ecclesiastical abuse of Latter-Day Sai — meh, the hell with it — Mormon intellectuals.
Despite getting the priesthood chop, Lavina has never stopped attending church, serving where and when she can (authority permitting), even though she still maintains views about the “one true church” that may be considered heretical.
For example, Lavina believes that five of the original apostles chosen by Jesus (Philip, James the Lesser, Thomas, Simon and Bartholomew) were in fact extraterrestrial life forms sent here to …. Hang on. I’m the one who believes that. I also believe that I could have written a better Book of Revelation in high school while heavily influenced by Tolkien and toking.
What Lavina does believe is some stuff about ecclesiastical abuse, women’s roles in the church, and better treatment of LGBTQ-M(ormon) couples. She also wants greater recognition for Heavenly Mother.
It’s rather unfair when you think about it. Lavina and I might not agree on everything but we do on others.
I didn’t get excommunicated when, on May 16, 2015, I wrote a deeply introspective column about how the Old Testament sounds inspired by a cranky old man whose children had gotten on his last (deleted) nerve, whereas the New Testament has a softer, more feminine touch.
I’ve also written that I don’t care if my bishop is gay. And I think women should get the priesthood — if for no other reason than it’s their turn to lift pianos and food storage into moving vans.
And while I haven’t done it since my mission, I have no reservations whatsoever in telling overbearing church leaders to pound sand.
So why haven’t I been excommunicated? It’s a fair question, given that Lavina is a better person.
True, maybe Lavina has an evil side of which I’m unaware. What I do know is that she once came to my aid when others wouldn’t have, and some might have gone so far as to use it against me.
On March 23 of last year, Lavina and I were honored with lifetime achievement awards by the Association for Mormon Letters at a dinner in Provo.
Lavina got hers for years of scholarly writing about Mormonism. The best I can figure is I got mine because many of the columns I’ve written for The Salt Lake Tribune contain the word “Mormon.”
During the evening, Lavina noticed me taking some pills. She asked if I was OK. I admitted that I was taking Lortab because I had blown out my knee a few hours before and was trying to not scream whenever I moved.
When the event ended, Lavina refused to let me drive home. She took my keys and gave them to her son Christian. He drove me home while Lavina and her husband, Paul, followed. They went out of their way to help someone who tried to talk them out of it.
Here’s the sad part: Paul, who already wasn’t feeling well at the time, died later that evening of a heart attack. Lavina had spent some of the last hours with her husband making sure an incorrigible lout got home safely.
Excommunicated? Give me a break. That’s the kind of person I fully expect will make it to heaven.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.