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Monday, February 9, 2015

Explaining Excommunication to a Four-Year-Old

by Scott Heffernan:

Last night, my wife and I were watching the livestream of John Dehlin addressing the crowd after his disciplinary council. My precocious four-year-old son started to intentionally annoy us to get our attention:

Wife: Please stop. This is important news.

Four-year-old: Why?

Me: Because he's getting kicked out of the church.

Four-year-old: Does he need our help?

Me: I don't know.

Four-year-old: [30 seconds pass] …This is lame…

…This is boring…

…Why is he getting kicked out?

Me: It's complicated…

He said some things the church didn't like. He said things against the church, he asked a lot of questions, and said what the church should do. They didn't like that so they are kicking him out of the church and saying he can't be Mormon anymore.

Four-year-old: That's mean.

Me: I agree…


I've been pretty quiet about the whole John Dehlin situation because I really do have super complicated feelings about it. I feel very ambivalent and have empathetic thoughts on both sides. I know the way I described the situation to my son was overly simplified and not even wholly accurate. Part of me was just trying to get him to be quiet so I could listen. But honestly, I'm still not sure I can think of a better way to articulate it.

People are complex. Religious organizations maybe more so. Life is messy. Get used to ambiguity, kid.

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Scott Heffernan is a graphic designer and photographer in Seattle. He works on the creative team at Archie McPhee doing all manner of strange things. He grew up a child of the ‘80s in Salt Lake City, served a mission to England/Wales, and got a degree in American Sign Language from the University of Utah. After marrying his sweetheart, they moved to Seattle and had three beautiful baby boys together. He loves toys, skateboarding, and thrift store shopping and has impeccable Modar. Twitter: @ScottHeffernan. Tumblr:
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: Rick Egan | Salt Lake Tribune.

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