Friday, September 18, 2009

The Birth of Joe d'Arc

Joe d'Arc isn't my name. It is a handle I use on the internet, for video games, and other such things. This handle came about from an unusual compliment I received from a former teacher in the spring of 2008.

I met up with the teacher when I went back to the community college I had graduated from the previous semester to get a haircut at the barbering school there. (I wear a simple hairstyle, and $2 is a very good price for my budget.) After my haircut I decided to drop in on some of the teachers, and others, I had developed a friendly relationship with. This particular teacher I had the pleasure of getting to know quite well, and we had had a number of long discussions about various topics in the past. When I ran into him, he was just about to go to lunch and invited me to eat with him.

Our discussion quickly went to him asking me about dealing with my sexuality and dealing with my spiritual/religious life having been raised LDS. He often talked to me about this as he found it very interesting how I had come to be very comfortable with my sexuality while still maintaining strong spiritual beliefs from my LDS upbringing. He is a person who takes a much more agnostic, or even anti-religious view. I told him how I had recently decided to stop attending LDS church meetings due to my Bishop confronting me about expressing my disagreement with the lesson material when homosexuality was brought up during the Elders' Quorum meeting. Although I had tried to be as tactful and respectful as possible, it had apparently offended some of the other men (I don't know who they were). The only part I wish I had handled differently was leaving my Bishop's office yelling at him as I felt he was bullying me, implying I was not welcome unless I was going to sit quietly and totally agree with whatever was said.

As I told the story to my former teacher he made the comment, "You are just like Joan of Arc." At first I wondered if he might mean he saw me tied to a stake to be burned in my future. All I really knew at the time about Joan of Arc was the basics about her claim of having been told by God to lead a crusade, doing so, and then being burned at the stake for heresy by the Catholic church. I quickly realized the comparison was meant as a compliment to my willingness to stand up to authority figures in the LDS church hierarchy and stand by my beliefs about what I have personally experienced spiritually that has brought me to embrace both my sexuality and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

When I got back home, I decided to do a little research on Joan of Arc to see what about her I seemed to share. As I scanned the Wikipedia entry on her I became intrigued by what I learned. Despite her peasant status, being illiterate, and being a woman (which was a major part of the charges against her by the Catholic church) the records of her showed an incredibly intelligent woman of profound faith and strength. I have come to love how she responded to a question meant to trap her during her trial. When asked if she was in God's grace--something no one is supposed to be able to know either way--she responded, "If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me."

Impressed by my research and liking the fact the comparison came from someone else, whom I respect, I decided to embrace the comparison. And so, I came up with the name Joe d'Arc: a male modification of Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d'Arc in the original French variation).

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