Sunday, June 5, 2011


After finishing the hymn parodies from my initially compiled "to do" list, I began perusing an alphabetical list; and the first one that caught my attention in the A's was A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, #29. When I was an active Mormon (TBM), I always loved this hymn, not only for its haunting melody and thoughtful words, but also for its history. Tale has it that John Taylor (who was arrested with Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, but was then released on bail, had opted to stay in the jail with the "Prophet and Seer") sang this hymn in Carthage Jail, and so it has become almost an anthem for the (supposed) martyrdom of Joseph Smith. When finally discovering all the lies laced throughout Mormonism, though, this hymn lost its appeal for me. And since I visited Carthage Jail for the first time during the beginnings of my disaffection from the Mormon Church (in the summer of 2001), that experience was bittersweet for me then, especially since my then very TBM mother-in-law asked me to sing this hymn with a quartet outside Carthage Jail.

Carthage Jail

In writing my version below, I envision it as an anthem for all those who discover the truth but feel trapped inside the Mormon delusion - whether it be by age, family, situation or other circumstances. Looking back at my life, I realize that I started having doubts when I was a teenager even though I did not "discover" the things I speak of in this hymn parody until much later in my life. But as a teenager, I already had a lot of issues and questions. Growing up in the 60's, I was Mormon when Blacks could not hold the Priesthood, and that was a big issue for me. I never understood the reasoning behind what I considered to be blatant racism, and the explanations given to me seemed iffy at best (more on that in my book contained on this blog). Also, way back then, I had already started to realize that the Mormon Church is a male-dominated, male-oriented, double-standard type of religious organization that uses guilt as a weapon and expects everyone to be Cookie Cutter versions of each other. This was not a popular opinion back then, and I was very shy and self-conscious in those day so wasn't vocal about my private mindset.

Also, even though I didn't know the actual background of the practice of polygamy back then, it still bothered me that it had been practiced at all; and that, according to Mormon doctrine, it will be practiced in the Celestial Kingdom. This was not a pleasant thought for me, but I put it on my shelf with all of my other issues. And of course, the constant questions from people when they found out I was Mormon was a thorn in my side back then as well. You know, comments like "So how many mothers do you have?" among many others.

And of course, in the 70's, there was the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) with which to contend. This is when my opinions about feminism and equal rights began to solidify - and is probably the first period during which my father told me that my "liberal ideas were going to get me in trouble one day." I suppose if you consider the fact that I have left the Mormon Church and am now a full-blown ExMormon as "getting me into trouble," then he was right. Of course, I don't look at it like that. I see my transformation as an extremely positive event in my life.

But during my teenage years and on into my 20's and 30's, I believed the not-so-subliminal message that was given to me that if I felt that way, then it was my own fault - and that I just needed to have more faith, be more humble, pray more, study more, attend all of my Church meetings regularly, and all that. And if I did those things, then I would come to understand and accept everything about the church. I wish I had been more of an independent thinker back then and less concerned about what people would think of me if I doubted. Luckily, I finally arrived there albeit at a much more advanced stage of my life. But at least I arrived there - and that's what is important.

And so, here is my "revision" of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief...

Sung to the tune of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, #29

A poor bewildered girl of doubt,
More than confused by what she read.
She had been born in the Mormon Church,
But now, it simply filled her with dread.
She thought the church had come from God,
But now she feared it was a ruse.
And so she struggled with what to do,
She couldn’t think of any excuse.

Her Mom and Dad were TBM,
Believing all of it down the line.
And until now, she had no doubts,
Believed it, too, it was divine.
She always prayed and went to church,
Sacrament and Young Women, too.
And temple marriage was her goal,
Living life with an eternal view.

But as she looked at what she found,
It looked as though it was a myth.
What she had found was awful stuff
About the prophet Joseph Smith.
It said he married teenage girls,
And other women, he wed them, too.
It made her sick to think of this,
And she did not know what to do.

She thought of all that she’d been taught
About polygamy, way back when.
They said it started with Brigham Young,
She heard the story time and again.
He married widows, took care of them,
It all began on the journey West.
The orphaned children he did protect,
The picture painted, she was impressed.

But now that she had learned the truth,
That she’d been duped throughout the years,
Her soul was crushed, she felt betrayed,
Began to cry, and fought back the tears.
Why did they lie, not tell the truth?
Yes, Joseph Smith had lead the way.
Perpetuating all the lies,
Preserving them for modern day.

As she read the names of all his wives,
She counted them at 33.
What was the reason for all of that?
Perhaps he wanted them sexually?
11 women already wed
To living husbands with no divorce.
And 10 who were in their teenage years,
Which first wife Emma denied, of course.

And then there was the martyrdom,
When Joseph died in Carthage Jail.
But now, she knew the truth of this,
A criminal whose lies prevail.
A printing press destroyed by him,
Lamb to the slaughter is what he said,
He thought he was above the law,
A mob attacked, and he was dead.

Not only that, but there was more
Disturbing stuff from history.
Like Mormon scriptures, filled with lies,
The Book of Mormon, pure fantasy.
She thought about the golden plates
She sang about in Primary,
The Nephites and the Lamanites
Did not exist, so clear to see.

“It’s all a lie, right from the start,”
She said out loud though no one there.
She felt alone but could not express
How she was filled with such despair.
The more she thought, the more she knew
She must keep quiet for a while,
Not tell her parents or anyone,
Just go along with the perfect smile.

But as she pondered what all this meant,
She felt a burden lift from her.
And she knew no matter what was said,
It’s all deception, that’s for sure.
But though the truth would set her free,
She had to bide her time for now.
But when she finally turned 18,
Then to none of this would she kowtow.

© Diane Tingen, 6/5/2011

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