So Kate Kelly, Sheri Dew, and Mike Otterson walk into a bar…
For the #mormonaddicted culture critics, tomorrow night’s British Broadcasting Corporation interviews will be pure heroine. The BBC will be airing interviews with prominent Latter-day Saints along with the freshly ex-communicated Kate Kelly on the topic of women’s priesthood ordination. I fail to think of adequate metaphors for the queerness of this triad.
Mike Otterson is the LDS Church’s top spin-meister. He has the unfortunate job of Winston Smith in 1984, constantly engaged in a loyalty-driven pursuit to change the history of Oceania in real time. I pity him.
Sheri Dew is the bulldog of the LDS Church. She is a Mormon cultural Amazon who some say is actually the reincarnation of Orin Porter Rockwell, the prophet Joseph Smith’s personal bodyguard. She is the president and CEO of Deseret Book (the LDS Church-owned publisher), and–surprise–was quickest on the draw to fire back against the LDS Ordain Women movement with a book-length diatribe: Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes.
Then there’s Kate Kelly–a human rights attorney catapulted to Mormon infamy by her recent excommunication from the Latter-day Saint religion, theologically voiding all covenants and rituals that allow her to enter the kingdom of God. It’s an outlandishly hefty punishment given to a woman who, really and truly, is helping refresh the Mormon memory about egalitarian distribution of priesthood rights and responsibilities in the religious community Joseph Smith, Jr., himself formed. To me, she is the misunderstood protagonist in the story, and will be vindicated when all the cards are down. For now, she remains something of a Latter-day Hester Prynne.
It may be that the broadcast about women’s priesthood ordination will lack teeth and courage. The BBC coverage of Mormonism during Mitt Romney’s 2012 United States presidential campaign was disappointingly superficial. So while I try to keep my expectations modest about the outcome, I’m at least impressed at the savvy that selected these three voices for the conversation. Saint Paul himself said that life is a race, and that we must run to win it. It’s only fitting, then, to invoke the immortal words of Saint RuPaul: may the best woman win.