Let me date myself big time. As a kid I grew up watching “Fat Albert” cartoons and fighting over who could do the best replication of the, “Hey Hey Hey, It’s Faaaaaat Albert” theme song. The title probably wouldn’t pass the politically correct filters these days, but I have fond memories of watching it – especially once we got a color TV! I then remember some of his comedy “albums” he put out (some my parents prohibited me from listening to them). Then there were the Bill Cosby hilarious stand-up routines that came out on VHS tapes and his many Jello commercials. His ability to take any story and make you laugh until your cheeks hurt was famous. Then there was the family favorite of watching the Huxtables on The Cosby Show. It certainly didn’t dive into topics like Black-ish does today, but it was great to see an upper-class family that just happened to be black. After a few years I did hear some comments he made toward the black community. Some of these I agreed with a bit and some felt a bit harsh and missing the mark on what really caused poverty in the black community. Even though I found those comments bothersome, but I still had an overwhelming warm feeling for the master comedic storyteller.
Then came the accusations of sexual misconduct that he is going on trial for now. I was saddened when I heard the accusations and at first I wasn’t sure if that wasn’t just a lie as it didn’t line up with the picture of Bill Cosby that I had. Then as more accusations were made by many women I wondered how much were true and how many were made up, but it certainly seemed to me to fall under the saying of, “where there is smoke, there is fire.”
Fast forward to just this last weekend when I started listening to the podcast covering this topic called Cosby Unraveled. I assume this podcast series has a very limited run time as this story will probably play out shortly one way or the other.
Listening to this podcast I heard the magnitude of the claims. I have heard more of the accusations and even information about some of his previous testimony under oath that was made public. I heard previous fans say they can’t even listen to any of the old recordings of Cosby as it is just too painful. Now a court of law with some jurors will soon determine if the accusations toward him meet the burden of proof to charge him for the crimes alleged.
It really made me feel saddened by learning some horrible accusations made against him and that he might have committed these acts. It really put a damper on my mood the whole weekend as it was hard to see someone I looked up to so much have this deep flaw.
In the midst of this malaise it occurred to me that this parallels my feeling of the church. I was raised by some good loving parents and they were committed to the faith. I do think the church made them better people, but also put some harmful strains on them in certain areas. I can make a long list of things that I am so glad to have had the church in my upbringing and I have by and large very fond memories of the church from my childhood.
But I have seen and heard of the times and ways the church and leaders have hurt people and then pushes to treat these injustices as not important, to just forget them and move on. It was hard to imagine the wonderful church leaders and the church’s teachings were hurting people. A stake president went to jail. A young gay man about my age hung himself while I left on my mission. I struggled to reconcile the church I knew and loved was doing such things. I doubted something so good could be doing such bad. Then I started listening to podcasts detailing some of the historical issues and things quickly crumbled. Just as some of the previous life-long fans of Cosby can no longer listen to what used to bring them enjoyment, I can’t sit and listen to general conference.
I am not trying to draw clear parallels between the actions of Mr. Cosby and equate those to the church’s actions. There are some huge differences on many levels. But I am bringing up how they both made me feel. I have to say that the biggest betrayal of my trust in my life has been with my church. In thinking about it I probably have to say that is probably proof that I have had a nice life if that is the worst I have experienced. It is probably the case that some of these women may have suffered more betrayal at the hands of Mr. Cosby than I have suffered having my pretty little faith bubble popped.
So far I have dealt with this by becoming a picky and not-so-hungry cafeteria Mormon. I am not sure that is working for me. I can’t seem to unsee things that bother me. But I do fear throwing out the baby with the bath water, so I am trying to take it slow.
Even if Bill Cosby is convicted, can I still respect him?
Can I still respect the church knowing what it has and is doing?
How have others worked through this and other situations of feeling betrayed?