One of my favorite books is “My Name Is Asher Lev”. It’s a great book about an boy who is born into a family of orthodox Jews and has a gift for painting. Throughout the book, he has to battle with who he feels he is and the love of his mother and father who have sacrificed so much for their Judaism. It is heart-wrenching story about the need for authenticity.
Tyler Glenn is a modern Asher Lev. He grew up loving music, and his sexuality always put him at odds with the Church that he and his family loved so much. He has sacrificed a lot for his art, all in the attempt to capture something real and raw and make us think. Kind of like a musical version of William Law.
I don’t think Tyler’s new video, “Trash” was a direct assault on the Church. In my admittedly few interactions with him, I never have sensed malice. What was clear was his hurt, his feeling of betrayal, and the torture he had gone through trying to make th Church work. I don’t think Tyler takes his music lightly, and I think he knew full well how this video would hurt the people around him. But he did it anyway.
It is the same reason Asher Lev painted. It is the same reason leaving the Church has been so incredibly freeing for me. Tyler’s video is absolutely brave because it isn’t an attack on the Church, it is a window into the raw emotion that a faith transition brings. It takes guts to be that open about something so painful in such a public way. This isn’t really about the Church, it is about Tyler’s relationship with the Church (how’s that for nuance, apologists?), and we would do well to remember that. When he draws that scarlet X, effectively excommunicating himself from the Church, the light suddenly shines bright in the elevator. Instead of being bound to misery and rejection by a dead man, a fake history, and secret handshakes, Tyler has decided to live his life finally on his terms. Things are brighter up here.
Did Tyler speak out about his experience in such a blasphemous way because Tyler lacked the moral fiber to follow God? Is it because Tyler didn’t have enough faith? No, it isn’t. Contrary to all the comments online, Tyler made this video because he is brave enough to stand up and say exactly how he feels right in this moment, the Church and everyone else be darned. It doesn’t matter than he might lose some fans. It doesn’t matter that one of his band mates has a Mormon.org video. Tyler has the courage to be vulnerable in a very public way, even when it is offensive to people.
That inspires me to be more brave. It inspires me to stand up for how I feel in each moment. There is no shame in that.
Now I’m going to go watch that video again.