The “We’re Not a Parade” Parade

From the Salt Lake Tribune this morning:

A year after rainbow ‘Y’ lighting, BYU cracks down on protests

The school has limited access on Y Mountain, and it also asked LGBTQ students handing out pins Friday to leave campus

The administrators who told them to leave said they couldn’t have parades either, so they needed to “not look like a parade” when they marched off campus.

As the group left in their rainbow attire and flags, some of the participants shouted at students passing by, “We’re not a parade.”

While teaching at BYU (1988-1999), I watched the university gradually expand control over faculty, students, and staff. At some point I mounted two bumper stickers on my office door: QUESTION AUTHORITY and CURB YOUR DOGMA.

The year before I arrived in Provo, still teaching at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Steven Epperson (then a curator at the Church Museum of Art and History) and I published a joint essay in Dialogue that includes a dream I had about the Mormon temple. This morning it feels like a good response to current attempts to curb Rainbow parades:

That night in a dream I found myself in the small New Mexican town where I grew up. With two friends, I approached the high school (scene of many youthful awakenings). In place of the old buildings was a temple, drawing us towards it with great power. We scrambled up the hill, worried that we might miss something, for we knew we were late. Once inside, however, all sense of tardiness vanished. I felt warmly accepted, comfortingly, timelessly enclosed. 

Waiting to enter the main room I saw Žarko and Zorca Radacović, anarchically creative Yugoslavs I met one summer in Germany. Žarko held a huge bottle of wine in his hand and a long loaf of bread under his arm. I was surprised and then filled with delight to see them in a Mormon temple. Žarko drank deeply from the bottle and smiled broadly at me. 

Inside a huge, lofty room (I never did see the ceiling), we joined a larger group of people. To one side a drama was being performed. One actor was a man who had insulted me several years before. Now he reached over and gave me a peculiar and warm handshake. Waves of cleansing forgiveness washed through my soul. 

Children in the room were singing a happy song and clapping in unison. I could hear a quiet, cerebral jazz improvisation played on a piano in an adjoining room. 

I felt no sense of time or of hurry. We were all in the place we most wanted to be and were settled in for a long stay. 

In one corner I found a smooth, white wall, cans of paint at its base. With brilliant hues and lavish strokes I painted enormous poppies on the wall. Around the corner a friend decorated another wall with mythical Eastern figures. 

All around me people were engaged in animated conversations. I walked among them until I found my family in the center of the room. Thomas was tired, but when I carried him around and showed him the paints, the drama, and all the happy people, his spirits lifted. 

As the dream drew to an end, I heard two women discussing how they were created in the image of their Heavenly Mother. “I’ll see you in the celestial room,” one of them said, and the dream ended. 

…from Chapter Two of Dwelling in the Promised Land as a Stranger (BCC Press)

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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2 Responses to The “We’re Not a Parade” Parade

  1. alex caldiero says:

    this is no dream. It is a vision! (tongue in both cheeks.)

    Like

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