Coincidences are the heavens toying with us, or so it sometimes seems.
Right after I posted my last entry, my wife and I went to the temple for ward temple day. When it came time to hook up with the others at the end of the session, I learned one of my high priests– an 87-year old who literally helped lay the bricks of our meetinghouse– died the night before. Because his surviving family (except his wife) isn’t LDS, it’s fallen upon me and another brother to dress him in his temple clothes. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Of course it’s a blessing and an honor to participate in such an assignment. It’s just I’ve never been in such an intimate situation with deceased remains. I can’t recall if I even touched one, let alone dressed them, and I’m not looking forward to it. These are the thoughts I attempt to suppress as I try to focus on the spiritual significance of the ritual.
An interesting note connected to this brother’s passing: Back in the late 40′s, he was a serviceman who observed atomic test explosions from the air, and his plane would literally fly through the cloud after detonation. Well, within ten years, all the rest of his crew had died from horrible forms of cancer. The brother himself developed bone cancer, but after (as he put it) doing everything his doctor told him to, “to the letter,” and receiving a salvo of priesthood blessings, the disease disappeared. Sixty years later, it returned with fierce retribution. A common story– he fell one night, went to the hospital for observation, and never left.
He was a popular crooner in his day, a pioneer of our ward and will be sorely missed.
The Sunday Block:
Another new, very young couple moved into the ward. To look at them you’d guess they were BYU brochure models, but when the husband told the “how we met” story, it turned out he spotted her at a punk rock concert and hit on her. As luck would have it they were both LDS, married in the temple and here they are. I love Southern California wards.
The elders quorum announced they were having a dodge ball activity and invited “anyone else” (meaning the YM) who wanted to join them. I boldly replied the high priests were “prepared to bring it on” and added that the name of our team was Caged Heat. As most of our quorum is over 60, that got a lot of laughs.
It’s gratifying to misanthropes such as myself as the Church continues to take a more proactive, sensible approach toward enlightening those who either don’t know anything, or are being misinformed about, what we believe. For example, in the last “4th Sunday” lesson from the conference talk, “Faith, Family, Facts and Fruits,” Elder M. Russell Ballard said,
It is not easy to explain something as vast as the Church or as wonderful as the restored gospel to people who know little or nothing about us. Even questions on one specific aspect can be difficult to answer because every question seems to be connected to other questions. The most common request we hear is a fairly simple one that goes something like this: “Tell me a little about your Church.” The key word here is “little.” They are not saying, “Tell me everything you know and then send others to tell me everything else… we need to remember that there is a difference between interest and mere curiosity. Sometimes people just want to know what the Church is.
This reminds me of an obnoxious mission companion I had who, when he caught someone glancing our way, would grin and say, “I’ll bet you’re wondering why I’m wearing this white shirt and tie. Did you know Jesus came to the Americas?” I still shiver thinking about it.
Elder Ballard continues,
The Public Affairs Committee, on which I serve, has learned that there is a great need for clear, simple statements that present those who are curious with the basics about the Church as it is today. Let me share with you some of the things we have found to be helpful. You may want to prepare your own list of talking points that will assist you in explaining what we believe to your friends and acquaintances of other faiths. It may be helpful for you, as it is for me, to have on one page a few facts about the Church as it is today to give to them along with a copy of the Articles of Faith.
He then outlined concise, boiled-down points we could use (read here) and added,
Brothers and sisters, in today’s busy world, I have found that most people will not read or focus on more than just a few important facts at one time. Whatever you choose to use to inform your friends and acquaintances about the Church, write it down, check it for accuracy, and keep it simple and short.
Simple and short, you gotta love it. What trips me up is when someone hits me with, “I heard you believe God had sex with Mary, what’s up with that?” That’s when the dance really starts to cook. Anyway, it was a good lesson and one I’m taking to heart.
I did miserably on the pool– only got 10 right– but was extremely pleased by the Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay results. “No Country for Old Men” was, by far, my favorite film of 2007. I guess it’s obvious the R-rated movie sin isn’t one I plan on addressing anytime soon.