Preacher

Tool.  “Fear Inoculum”, the album.  The cover song could not be more perfect for the times we are facing in the world right now.  I do not know how the two came together so perfectly, but then again, sometimes things just do.  Yesterday, I became a student again.  A graduate student.  Again.  That is good news.  Now, do I want to be a continuing graduate student, or get a terminal degree?  Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts?  What is the difference?  Twelve intense credits, more money, more time, and a finished, publishable product in the end, in addition to a certificate in either professional writing or teaching writing online.  Teaching.  I love teaching.  I asked my Bishop if I could coordinate with the other leadership in order to teach some classes to the ladies of our Ward on a few upcoming Sundays and he was excited about it, as were the ladies in charge of choosing what General Conference talks that I should use as the basis for my lessons.  I think I will use Facebook Live, like the Brother who teaches Sunday School does, since it seems to work well for him and I have internet service, now.  I could use the front door as a teaching board if I taped some poster board to it to write on with a fat permanent marker.  No problem.  The leadership sent me a text this afternoon letting me know which talks they would like me to teach from, giving me the option of which order to do them in and when.  I will have to get back to them this afternoon so they are aware of how things should be coming along in the near future.  I cannot be ready in one day, although I wish I could be.  They picked some great talks!  I will have to look them over and watch them to determine which the Spirit brings to the surface to do first.  I had the impression that I should teach from Elder Holland’s talk first, which was the third and last listed, but that does not mean that it could not be the first I am to teach.  I greatly admire Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  If he was not an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he would be a fiery Southern Baptist preacher.  He has some fire and brimstone to offer, and I absolutely love to hear him speak.  He reminds me of a man — a preacher — that was very dear to me.  His name was Sammie Daniels.  He founded a church in my hometown when I was growing up and caused a split in one of the other churches in town.  I am not saying that the split did not need to happen, but that church thrived under Sammie’s leadership.  The only thing that was wrong was that the members and the guest preachers would preach against the “Mormon threat” and engage in something called “apologetics”, which was a fancy word for hate speech against a certain religious group and how to supposedly turn them from their wicked ways.  That was assuming that you were right and they were wrong, of course, and these folks were convinced that they were right.  This was during a time when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was building a Temple in the largest city in Montana — the first and only Temple in Montana.  Folks from this church went to the Temple grounds and protested the building of the Temple with signs and chants.  They opposed building permits for the Temple at City Council meetings.  They said hateful things and called the “Mormons” a “cult”, amongst other things.  They refused to acknowledge them as Christians.  And where was I during all of this?  I was in high school trying to get through a loner life and keep my grades up while maintaining my sanity.  Trust me, it was an insane time.  Late 1990’s.  The Temple was dedicated in November of 1999, the year I graduated from high school and went into the military.  I was finishing up Basic Military Training in a different part of the country at the time the Temple was being dedicated in Billings, Montana.  Billings, Montana could have been a different country, the way the people acted at the time.  You would have thought it was a Holy War, like Israel vs. Palestine with a few more pine trees and some sage and greasewood sprinkled liberally about the landscape below the sandstone rims.  Sammie Daniels never supported any of that protesting.  He stayed out of it.  The youth pastor, Brent Smith, went after the protest angle like a magnet and stirred up the youth of the church against the “Mormons”.  I did not know until much later in life that they were not called “Mormons”, and that they were not evil, and that they were not a cult, and that I would become one of them.  I am glad I did, though.  It was the best decision I have ever made.  I am ashamed of the hardships and opposition they had to face in simply trying to build a sacred place to perform their ordinances at the time.  Now that I am among their ranks, I am ashamed of the conduct of many that I know who still feel the need to make “Mormons” feel like outcasts, non-Christians, and cultists with no place in this land.  That means that I also feel pity for those people who feel the need to make fun of our so-called “magic underwear” and other things that are sacred to us.  They would not be so bold as to make such fun of the Pope’s holy robes, but they are quick to scorn our sacred garments, which are not even visible in public and are worn underneath our everyday clothing in modesty.  Sammie would not have approved of the relentless offenses against and the persecution of the Latter-day Saints, even if he agreed with any part of it.  Sammie Daniels died of cancer.  How heart-wrenchingly tragic.

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