I read an article entitled, "Sealed Fate Page 1: A burning in Ida Smith’s bosom leads her to Christopher Nemelka’s new spiritual order" in the Salt Lake City Weekly by Stephen Dark after reading the commentary on it in the Standard-Examiner entitled, "Is there an after-the-age-of-reason limit for very old LDS church members?" by Doug Gibson. Don't miss the Grondahl cartoon that accompanies the article. It is hilarious.
I don't know Ida Smith personally but I knew of her while I was attending BYU. For that matter, I think I knew Doug Gibson as well. If he is who I think he is, he was a year ahead of me at my high school.
Anyway, back to Ida. She has apostatized from the Church and is now a believer in Nemelka and his claims. He says Joseph Smith delivered the gold plates to him and he translated the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. The sealed portion is available for downloading online apparently.
Ida has been formally excommunicated.
The first time I encountered her was at my Freshman Orientation when I began attending BYU. She headed the Women's Office at the time. She gave an address that largely consisted of some very depressing statistics. All the statistics had to do with how many female BYU students actually end up getting married, getting married before they graduate, actually graduate, get married after they graduate, etc. I couldn't argue with her numbers but boy it was depressing. I felt ready to cry when it was all over. I had a negative reaction to her personally as well.
I thought there was something wrong with her.
All the optimism and excitement I experienced in starting school was dashed rather quickly after listening to her. I hadn't gone to BYU with the sole intent of getting married. I wanted to learn. But, I thought there was a chance I might meet somebody in that vast field of single Mormon men at the Y. I remember her address so vividly because it was such a downer.
The last time I saw her was about seven or eight years later as I was finishing up my first Master's degree. I was walking with my mentor on campus and Ida passed us. My mentor said hello and called her by her first name. She responded by saying hello and using his nickname. She looked just as embittered as I remembered her. I can't remember if I told my mentor about my initial experience with her. I seem to remember his acknowledging that he thought she seemed embittered too but my memory is a bit vague on that point.
I still thought there was something wrong with her.
Fast forward to 2011 and I find out Ida is really off the deep end. Gibson provides a thought provoking question on just what should we do with people who may be a little too old for their own good. Dementia is a reality many of us will have to face, probably with members of our own family or in our responsibilities in local leadership positions.
There was a lady in one of my wards with dementia. She couldn't remember if she was a Mormon or not. She thought maybe she had been "sprinkled" but she wasn't sure. Sprinkled?! Oh my. . .
I still think there is something wrong with Ida Smith. It is now simply more evident than it was back in 1980 when the idea first occurred to me.
The people I know who have apostatized or been excommunicated have all done so gradually. There were always signs that something wasn't right in their lives, often for years before their formal break with the Church.
I don't think it ever happens abruptly. Satan's too careful for that.