Well, I have several people waiting on several different projects that I've said I'd be working on, so here's my attempt at at least two of them. The first is my description of different people I write about, so you all can have a better understanding of who I mean when I talk about all these random folks. We'll start with Topsie because she's been hounding me most of all about this. I think this will end up being a continuing series, and I'll probably only get to two or three today.
"Topsie" is short for "Triceratops," which is long for "Sara." I came up with that, and it's stuck, and I'm glad. She's quirky. She has the most beautiful singing voice I've ever heard. We made her sing "Part of That World," and she sings opera, and I got to hear it. She was a counselor during my last two weeks of efy this summer, and we hung out over the weekend, and then again fir quite a while when efy was over, with our friends Germany and Dawn Treader (I gave them those names too, and they liked them). Topsie lives in Southern California somewhere, and she is very witty, and I recently helped her to see that she is (and should be) in love with my friend Boston. We communicate through IM a lot.
BAWB is my roommate. He's not just great; he's swell. That means great in a wholesome, polite way. It's a little unsettling the way he seems absolutely delighted to help all the time. I'm not sure whether he seriously loves it or whether he is just set to enthusiastic as his default. It's odd for me because I feel like the moral thing to do is to take him at his word, but that ends up bennefitting me in the end, so it's hard to tell if that's my true motivation. At any rate, he's fantastic to be around because of his attitudes and his insights, and also his bizarre idiolect. He says things like "Egads!" and he means them. We met through the Hundred Hour Board back in the day. Recently he's been questioning a lot of things about the gospel, in a very healthy way, as far as I can tell. I've been meaning to respond to some things he said on his blog that rubbed me the wrong way (that's the second thing I'm finally getting to), and it took a lot of thought to figure out why, but I got it straightened out in my head now. So here's my case:
Bawb, listing reasons to live the gospel in spite of doubt, said:
"If the Church is false, the consequences of living it are trivial; tithing is the only significant sacrifice. If it is true, the consequences of rejecting it are colossal and eternal. (Pascal's Wager)
"Humans are generally stupid and selfish; I doubt they can survive without fear of hellfire. Teaching them the Gospel is preserving our race."
At first it was this latter point that didn't seem right to me. I contended that Mormons aren't statistically smarter or better people than everyone else. He countered by asking what the point of the gospel is, then, if not to make good men better. That caught me, for sure. I thought about it for several days, and realized he's right--the gospel does indeed make good men better, and members of the church in general should prove better than they were before, at least. But there was still something wrong, and I discovered it in the shower one morning.
"If the Church is false, the consequences of living it are trivial; tithing is the only significant sacrifice. " That's the part I really vehemently disagree with. This gospel cannot be lived without the sacrifice of all we have. To maintain that it's easy to be a member of this church is to insult the pioneers and all the saints before and since who have sacrificed everything to make Christ the center of their lives. Such religious worship seems to be mere membership in the church, as opposed to the sainthood we should all be seeking. There is no passive way to live the gospel, and all must be pushing the wheels of the church along when the end comes, not merely napping in the back of the handcart. The reason this struck such a nerve in me is that these two items, taken togather, make it seem as though mere membership in the church makes people better and smarter. Really, I believe, it's active, almost desperate membership of the church and adherence to its principles that will make bad men good and good men better. Joseph Smith taught this principle: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, comp. N. B. Lundwall [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, n.d.], p. 58).
I hope I don't come across as argumentative, here. It's simply that this is a topic about which I become instantly fervent. I feel that I've made many sacrifices in my life, and that I've yet to make many more. And I feel that my positive traits have developed as a result of those sacrifices, and I believe the best people I know are where they are because of the incalculably greater sacrifices they've had to make. I can think of many, many more significant things I'd have given up in vain if the church weren't true. But it is, and so I'll give up many more in the years to come.
Sorry if this discourse isn't very practicable, BAWB. I don't know what to tell you on that. I don't know what anyone else is supposed to sacrifice. I just know about my own things. I can't imagine what I'd do if I didn't have veritable neon signs pointing at all the things I need to give up in order to move closer to God. Anyway, you're a good guy, and it seems to me that you're on the right path. Just don't want you getting to cushy and then claiming that it's easy to live the gospel and that the gospel makes you a better person. It makes you better precisely because it's hard.
Ok, finally, my secretary. She's not really my secretary anymore. She's another of those completely selfless people that confuse me so much. Once upon a time back in California, I accidentally scheduled dates with two girls at the same time, and it was a disaster. SO when Jenny heard about it, she decided that I needed a secretary. But yeah, right, who would do that for me?
She would, she said. And she did. She bought a planner just for my schedule and kept it in her purse. Whenever someone needed to schedule something with me, I would give them her phone number and they would schedule it. She would arrange rides for me, request time off from work, change my schedule, keep track of my personal affairs. This went on for over a year. Then I moved to Utah and my life fell apart. Then she moved to Utah and got me a job at the Mexican restaurant where she worked. And then she decided to be my secretary again, calling me every morning to remind me to go to work and when and what I'd be wearing that day. And then I went to efy, and finally learned to schedule my time a little better. Since then, I haven't needed a secretary as badly (except it would have been helpful on the date of my court summons, no?) and I've called on her only when I particularly need clerical aid, like when I go to the bank and they are being a pain, or when I am trying to deal with bills or paperwork and become whelmed. But that tells you about what she does, not who she is. She's totally Hermione to me. She is kinda endearingly nerdy. She dated my brother for a while. She is studying hospitality and tourism at UVSC, and she'll be great at it. She has this laugh that is just like Ernie's, more of a scraping sound in the soft pallate, and it's totally contageous; if you start doing it, you can't stop. She gives and gives and gives and then somehow makes me feel like I'm a good person just for being around, exactly like BAWB does. So weird to me. I mean, I love these people, and I hope I can make them feel that way too, but I just don't serve as naturally. Hopefully some day I'll be like that.
Anyway, children, storytime is over for today. Go home.