Friday, July 10, 2009

See Mike Run

This is Brother Pratt.

This is Brother Pratt in the Utah County Jail (as seen in the Deseret News).

Michael Jay Pratt - just saying the name puts courage in the hearts of hundreds of Orem High Tigers who remember him as the great seminary teacher. He was not just an inspiration to us, he was the closest thing some of us had to an actual general authority. People described him in terms of actual salvation. "Brother Pratt changed my life" or "Brother Pratt saved my life." He was a hero in almost titanic description; his spirituality, tracing back to Parley P. Pratt, was believed to be penultimate perfection. A short guy with a big heart who had just the answer for your problems and the right shoulder to cry on when he didn't.

And he has been arrested for sexual assault. A 16-year-old girl from his current teacher (and principal) position at Lone Peak's LDS seminary.

Video Courtesy of

Brother Pratt - the man, the myth, the legend. It all sounds like gross exaggeration. Like me, and others, have blown things out of proportion. And that's precisely because that's what it is. A fiction. A man mythologized.

Michael Pratt's life story kinda sounds like something that came out of a seminary movie. He had a troubled past as a teenager fiercely rebelling against the Church he was born into until, one day, he was dared to read the Book of Mormon. It changed him into a spiritual powerhouse causing him to go around spreading love for Christ long before he ever blew out the candles on his nineteenth birthday cake. His mission yielded endless stories for what would inevitably be his life's work: teaching in seminary and Sunday schools.

He had a life on the go; he and his family would pack up and move whenever he came to a high school and stay for a few months before picking up again and going to a new school. But he left his mark all over the county. He could get the quiet kid to raise his hand and the talkative jocks to shut up. The door to his office was always open long after school got out for the day and, oftentimes, there was a line of people waiting to lighten their latest load on his shoulders, seeking his advice. His lessons kept you awake and energized; people could repeat the main points from his lessons by topic or memory...and, of course, everyone who took a class from him remembers his "Puddy Cave fieldtrip" lesson.

Like I said - a man mythologized. And I'm certainly no different; Brother Pratt is the reason I almost became a seminary teacher. I was one of a few who could comfortably call him Michael - he had been a lodestar in my life since I was fifteen, being the only church-related figure I felt I could talk to about my struggles with my same-gender attractions in high school - and even years later when I became inactive and began dating my first boyfriend, he came to visit me at my apartment and took me to dinner. There are several stories - from funny anecdotes I even tell co-workers to a curious winter night miracle I still can't explain to this day - that describe my friendship with Mike, and my journals from high school feature him and his advice frequently. He was one of my closest friends, down to his current position as the second counselor of the singles ward I inactively belong to.

What's interesting now is not just his arrest and this scandal that follows; it's the reactions from all my old high school friends. One friend said, "Bullshit. It's all bullshit - the girl was troubled and has destroyed his life." Another remarked, "I'm shocked. He was...well, everyone thought he was so perfect." Even my sister expects that sooner or later we may yet discover this all to be rumor. Some have already begun attributing "this tragedy" and "this dispicable man" to the subjugation of the devil. "All I can say is blame Satan," said one commenter on DesNews' website.

Not many seem to want to examine this for what it is: a beloved church-related figure who is now alleged to be a felon. Instead, all wait in nearly breathless anticipation to see how innocent Brother Pratt will escape and get out of this one intact and precisely as everyone remembers him. The response is largely disbelief, but most of all denial and paranoia. "We'll find out the truth sooner or later - this has all been blown out of proportion."

But proportions larger than life have surrounded and romanticized this short-of-stature man for years. We've put him in a light that, perhaps, doesn't truly exists. And now may be the right time for us - especially me - to admit it. It'll be better for any healing that needs to occur to keep the facts straight from the stories we tell...for such is the stuff that heroes are made of. In this important time, remember him not as that mythic hero-god...but as a human being. Like the rest of us. And in that way, maybe he can continue to inspire us. Brother Pratt can be both hero and felon.

And I think I know how it will all end. This will undoubtedly stain Brother Pratt's reputation for years. But in time, this will be seen as one other spiritual trial Brother Pratt "bravely" passed through. It will become part of the stories he'll tell in devotionals (which I'm either sure of or hoping) he'll be asked to speak at. "You know, when I spent those hellish nights in jail," he'll start, and the room will quiet. And this will all become hushed controversial apocrypha, like most LDS Church scandals.

But - "Do you think he really did it?" people ask me. I answer: "If you love Michael, does it really matter?" Loving doesn't ever mean seeing just the *good.* It means seeing the *person* in spite of the *bad.* And counting in the good. So let's allow God (and the laws of the land) to decide Brother Pratt's innocence or guilt. It need not concern us and is nobody's business but the families and people involved; the rest of us, let's follow C.S. Lewis and "get back to the business of loving." Which is precisely what, as Michael has taught us, Christ is all about.

Mike's mythology is too strong amongst too many people for him to pass away into bare naked factuality. This story could break Brother Pratt's heroic narrative among us old Tigers, as well as his other former students. We needn't completely let go of that inspirational myth surrounding him but we do need to break from any dependency on such hero fiction. We, all of us, have been writing the story from the very beginning. He never came to us claiming he was our hero. We did. ...I did. And I will always - always - love him dearly.

And so it is with all our gods.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. The hardest part is not knowing. All we can really do is trust the lawyers, various authorities, and judges to get it right. I hurt for Brother Pratt. He is a good man who made a profound difference in my life.

  3. How many children does this man have? How do you think his wife is doing? Do you think she was completely blindsided?

  4. Well written mature look at a man in a position of trust accused of unthinkable acts. We are all human. No one is perfect. Your thoughts help bring those points to light. I actually felt empathy for Mr. Pratt, for which I had none at all when I clicked the link to this site.

  5. Brother Pratt has been and always will be a hero to me.

  6. Brother partt was a teacher at viewmont high many yrs ago I love him still to this day and I'm 23 now. He is a great man!!!

  7. TO ALL:

    Everyone is very quick to stand up for Michael Pratt. I am not so quick to do so. The police department is not going to take such drastic actions, and be so public about them, without substantial evidence. I am sure the truth will be revealed, but don’t be overly surprised if it isn’t in “brother Pratt’s” favor.

    Who my heart actually feels for is his loving Wife and Children. All of you are very concerned about him. I, however, am not. He has made his own bed, now he has to sleep in it. This isn't a judegement, it is reality. His wife and children did not ask for this nor do they deserve it. They are good people who have loved, respected, supported, and looked up to “Brother Pratt”. If you all looked up to him, let me assure you that his children also looked up to and adored him. As did his wife. This, unfortunatelym, is how he has repaid them. This has hurt other people dearly, more than you can imagine. It is not all about "Brother" Pratt's pain & suffering right now.

    I am a person who has suffered the pains of infidelity of a spouse. It hurts, you have no idea. His family does not deserve this. It is more than just a “mistake” that he has made. His actions have and will cause long lasting pain and suffering to his wife, children, and extended family. They are victims.

    I know this family. I know Michael. Don’t be so quick to assume that he is so fantastic. He has lived his life wanting people to admire him. This apparently has been somewhat of a front, and only skin deep. This desire for admiration, and to be a "hero" as you described, very well may have been more important to him that what lied beneath it all. He has drastically hurt those people who are closest to him. Scars and pain have been caused that may never fully heal. There is not any honor in this.

    You are correct in stating that should not judge. I agree. Michael, after all, is human. At the same time, be hesitant to so quickly defend. Not issuing judgement does not mean that wrong isn’t wrong. Wrong is still wrong. Not issuing judgement also does not mean that you need to defend someone who has acted way out of line.

    I hope that you all have a great day. I also hope that “Brother” Pratt can be honest with himself. Feeling the pain of his actions right now would be a good thing. He doesn’t need all of you defending him. He needs to feel the weight of his responsibility. And all of us, rather than solely worring about poor "Brother" Pratt should turn our hearts and attentions to the devistation his wife and family must be fealing. Michael is not the victim.

  8. I too am aghast at the effort to sway good sense from this man's actions. What he did is abominable. He capitalized on every virtue of eternal significance. His glory is his creation. That glory is eternal. Is there forgiveness in eternal settings? Absolutely. But now there is God's voice. Today we hear Pratt's, his voice, and it is this "I am a man of power and influence, I will seek the innocent one and I will cast my will upon her". Whatever vulnerabilities this 16 year old displayed were exploited. Tell me the hero he is today and I will remind you of the story of the millstone and deep ocean views he will heroically......

  9. There is a paper and electronic trail miles long on this "affair" which has generated 21 felony counts.

    Kids, put your trust ONLY in yourselves and whatever faith you have. Trusting and admiring others, no matter what their authority level, isn't always going to lead you to a good life.

    What's unbelievable here is that this is the man's first offense...or first 21. You just don't wake up one day and decide to (basically) shed your family and hook up with a teenager.

    Trust yourselves.
    Be good.
    But keep your eyes open.
    Learn to be skeptical.
    Let those who profess to teach, prove their worth to you by their acts, not their words.

    You can't avoid the appearance of evil, if you don't know what it looks like.

  10. Great writing style and interesting presentation of a very painful situation. I don't know the Pratt family, I can only imagine the poignant and open wounds they must be each be experiencing in their own way.

    As for me, situations like this always cause me to look at myself and consider my own Achilles tendencies and ask what I can do to fortify myself from making stupid-to-devastating choices in my own life.

    No doubt Brother Pratt had his own point of weakness. Perhaps he did get caught up in the adulation. Perhaps his noted gifted ability to connect with people on a deep, sincere level, became a snare when ego got involved.

    I don't know, and therefore my only purpose in asking such questions is not to project my armchair opinion onto someone else's intentions, but to learn wisdom, as none of us is immune from serious mistakes.

  11. It sounds like this Brother Pratt earned himself many fans. I mean people talk about him as if he saved them and changed their life. A real teacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ gets out of the way and is mearly a vessel allowing the Holy Ghost to teach and bring souls to Christ, who changes lives and saves them. Good for you Brother Pratt for making a lot of friends. Where has that gotten you?

  12. Well i do know Bro Pratt very well, in fact he is one of my closest friends. I had his class and the reason why he was such a good teacher is because he brought the spirit to class. I can remember the first time i ever really felt the spirit and that was in the first week of his class. Bro Pratt lives just down the street from me and i talk to him every few days. The funny thing is his wife is there for him and supports him 100%!! she is on his side!! Every time i'm with him, talking to him i have the strongest feeling he is innocent. I believe that. I love this man, he is my hero!!

    oh, and his wife just gave birth to a baby boy last monday.

  13. Dear Writer of this Post,
    I don't know who you are--i just stumbled across your blog post when I was searching for information about what was the latest with brother pratt...
    Your reflection is one of the most honest and eloquent I have read. I agree so much with you and I just wanted to thank you SO MUCH for writing this.

  14. He was my seminary teacher at Viewmont High in Bountiful in 1999. I was shocked to find out about this. Shocked.

  15. Wow. I really appreciate your true Charitable heart-felt words in this post. You provide an example of what it really means to not judge a person and allow God to do the judging.

    OBVIOUSLY what Pratt did was wrong. He made a very WRONG mistake. As we are ALL not perfect beings, he has his OWN weaknesses that hopefully he will learn from, repent from, and become a much better person because of this big trial he now has to endure.

    Instead of hosting anger in our hearts, let's all pray for Pratt, for the victims involved, and that the Spirit may heal everyone involved.

  16. when you have control over someones soul you have complete control over them. great empires have risen and fallen throughout history but religions have remained throughout the centuries because they profess to control what happens to ones soul in the afterlife. what this man did has been done by religious authorities again and again throughout the ages and happens because people see them as the "hero" . this admiration and position they carry causes them to feel they are flawless and can do know wrong. i feel for every person who is so blind to think of this man as a hero and so blind to think he is innocent. this man used his position to manipulate a child into committing atrocious acts with him. the most disgusting thing about this whole debacle is that while he was giving those "heart warming" "spirit filled" talks in his classes he was probably thinking about how he wanted to commit these horrific acts with some young woman in the room. an act like this that happens again and again as he did it doesnt happen unless the guilty party meditated and thought out the act. this man is no hero, wake up people, you beloved "hero" has shown his true colors.

  17. What a great blog post. Thank you so much for writing what you did. I think, with everything that happens in life, we can and should take this as a lesson to be learned from. I want to bring up some thoughts:

    1. Does everyone remember David? David had tremendous faith in God even to the point of conquering Goliath. Later in life he fell for much of the same reasons Michael Jay Pratt fell. The righteous have weaknesses too. Unfortunately, sometimes our legacy is left not by what we did when we were righteous, but by what we did in our weakest moments.

    2. Whether he is guilty or not, everyone should be aware of the conspiracy's spoken of and warned about in the scriptures, namely the Book of Mormon. There are modern day Gadianton robbers disguised as the good guys. They work their way up in much of the same ways they did in the Book of Mormon days - with murder, corruption, set-ups, etc. Those prophet's warnings should be heeded and if I could say anything will all the strength of my soul, I would advise everyone to make it our life's work to build our relationship with Heavenly Father and perfect our "spiritual ears" so that the spirit can be our ultimate guide... because there is corruption in the most unbelievable places.

    3. I love what this blog author wrote about whether or not Michael really did it, if you love Michael does it really matter... Christ loves the person, not the crime. We need to do the same. I didn't know Michael, but it sounds to me he has done a lot of good in the world and that he changed a lot of lives. God still loves him and so should everyone else.