The universe is, in fact, evil. I went to complete my jury summons. It was a lawsuit involving Asher’s hospital… and the care of a child. I was watching all these people get let out of jury duty for money, vacations, medical reasons… I was watching the pool of jurors RAPIDLY diminish. I could already feel the PTSD monster scraping at my throat. I was FREAKING THE CRAP OUT. When it got down to maybe 24 jurors (out of 250). I raised my hand and said, “You said if we have an issue that should preclude us from being impartial… we should tell you. But I don’t want to bias the jury. Can I tell you in private?”
Yeah… my reasons were good. The judge and the lawyers dismissed me.
They said, “You might be called on another case, please check in with the Commissioner.”
I’m sure I didn’t look like the most stable of individuals when I came into his office. “That was really hard the lawsuit involves the hospital where my son just died at and it involves the care of a child and I can’t really handle that an you said if we didn’t get chosen there’s a possibility we won’t have to serve and my son’s final funeral rites are tomorrow and I don’t know if I can handle that is there a way you can make sure I don’t have to serve or that I can go home or something?”
Yeah. It was all one sentence. And the commissioner was verklempt and had my back. He chastised me for not letting the court know I had “extreme circumstances.” I told him the last time I got a summons, I pushed the date out because I was in the ICU with my son. I expected to come home with my son. I didn’t. And I forgot I pushed back the summons.
I was retelling the story to my son and he said, “Why would the commissioner be upset?” I’m a big dude. And a lot of people at work find me very intimidating. Imagine a rough and tumble biker coming in an sobbing on your office desk. What do you even do? I’m not a biker, but its hyperbole that gets the point across.
So… No jury duty, but I have to keep checking every day this week, “just to make sure I don’t miss a callback.”
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And we believe a lot of things that most Christians do. But there are some LARGE differences. Differences fundamental enough some people don’t classify us as Christians despite the origin of the term being, “Someone who believes in Jesus Christ” and “Jesus Christ” literally being at the center of our religion and RIGHT IN THE FRICKEN’ NAME. And I must admit… lately… I’ve had some choice words for God. They’re often yelled in my garage when I hope no one is around. And they usually end with, “You got your math wrong! I’m not Job! I will curse you! THIS IS A STUPID PLAN AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF IT!” (referring, of course, to the plan that my son had to die). But regardless of that, there are some really important things I believe in.
- I believe we do not have spirits. That implies we are bodies that have a spirit. I believe we ARE spirits and HAVE a body. (this is important)
- I believe we existed before coming to earth and we continue to exist after our mortal time has concluded.
- I believe we are literal children of our literal Father in Heaven. We may not have been birthed, but we were assembled, empowered, enspirited, and taught by God in the time before our mortality.
- I believe we are here on this planet to learn things we wouldn’t have had context for without bodies and without risk.
Now here’s the one that really gets people all riled up and frothy.
I believe you are judged on what you know and what light you bring to the world NOT by your ability to belong to a specific religion.
And here’s another strong belief:
I believe you cannot achieve your greatest glory or return into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and of our Father in Heaven without completing specific rites that currently belong only to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“But Brian!” I imagine you say, “That’s a contradiction!”
Oh, and this is where it gets delicious.
Here’s the ordinances (religious rites) that have to be preformed:
- Confirmation of the Holy Ghost
- Priesthood Ordination (if you is a dude)
- Sealing and Anointing (loosely called initiatories)
- Eternal Marriage (only if you is a we)
And in order. To do these “correctly” the must be done in person and by someone who holds the keys (priesthood authority to act in the name of God)
SO there are lots of religions that have this exclusive concept. This idea you have to belong to their religion or face eternal damnation.
So let me ask you (3) questions:
- Does God love his children (remember we’re all his children)?
- If you’re Christian, have you read 1 Corinthians 15:29?
- Why do you think members of the Church are so very, VERY, interested in geneology?
Does God Love his Children?
I struggle with this right now because … well… Asher’s dead and that kid was awesome. BUT! If you believe there is something or someone out there that created, or at least strongly directed, humanity to exist, then you have to ask yourself is that a benevolent or an evil being. I don’t know about you, but the nihilism of life come in REALLY HARD if I think God is just out there to inflict wounds on the people of man. So I choose to believe God wants us to grow and develop and succeed.
IF it is the case that God wants us to succeed, then why would he create a system that would exclude people before Christ came to the world? Like… what about the Inuit peoples? Did they ever have a chance to hear “the right gospel?” What about all those kids violated by celibate priests and then connected church goers with molesters and quickly noped out of churching all together? What about your Uncle Bill or Aunt Patty that were never baptised but spent most of their lives at the soup kitchen “doing good”? Seems like only an evil god would tell me those people don’t qualify for eternal glory. So… Point #1 is we should all have the chance to accept or reject the ordinances of the gospel if this is to be considered a loving system.
Work for the Dead
In Corinthians, the Apostle (follower of Jesus Christ and person selected to be an extra cool teacher) Paul is trying to talk to the Church of Corinth off the ledge so to speak. But he says one really important thing, kind of offhandedly.
--In the voice of Brian, look it up for the exactness of the quote--
Christ put all things under his feet. All the things. Even death so he can rise again. Else, why would they baptize for the dead if we don't expect to live again because Christ lived again.
And the specific quoted part that was just so brief was,
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
And the best others can say about it is: “What this practice was is unknown. Paul does not say if he approved of it or not: he uses it merely for an ad hominem argument.” Meaning, “we don’t know why this is here.”
What this actually means, is we, as the living, can go through the ordinances on behalf of someone who has passed so that they, the ones who did not have a chance in this life, can be guaranteed a CHOICE to accept or reject the teachings. It’s not forced upon them, but it presents them with a key and they can use it if they want.
So here’s the idea. We believe we can be sealed to our family. Sealing meaning we can find where our kin are and be able to help them along their next path. But not only our small local family, but also our aunts, uncles, grandfathers, great great great great grandmothers and more. But in order to do that, we have to find them and complete their work for them.
“But wait! Generations were lost!” you say. “They can’t have people do their work if their lines are cut short!”
Yeah. So… see reference to Benevolent God Entry Line 1. When Christ finally comes again, there will be an era of peace and a restoration of lost histories. During that time, there will be a mad dash through as many archives as we can find/beg/borrow/steal and the dead will help us with the information that was missing. Until the work is complete for every soul that HAS EVER WALKED THE EARTH that time of peace persists. The point is to make sure we all have a chance to drink from the waters of salvation.
Since Asher passed… I’ve been preoccupied with “getting his work done.” Our first stop driving home, I broke out “the blue book” (which is a fancy term for the handbook for the Church that contains all the rules and regulations) to see if I could understand when I could do his work. Typically we don’t get our last priesthood and endowments until we’re 18. He wasn’t even yet 14. Do I have to wait 4 years? But the handbook said, “A year and a day” so long as the kid passed after the age of accountability (8 years old is when we baptize you. It’s old enough to make your own decisions and old enough to start being able to tell with other people are lying to you). And FamilySearch.org said you can print up the paperwork to complete vicarious work after 30 days. So I was anxious.
Anxious wasn’t the right word. I was impatient. This has got to be done. And it was an impatience uncharacteristic of my normal demeanor. For the next few days, I was busy handling things and the impatience never really left. Finally, I called the temple and got an authoritative response. 30 days. That must be how long it takes you to upload your consciousness to the cloud. :hehehe:
As soon as I knew that, the impatience went away. I looked at the calendar and said we should get the work done the day after his birthday.
But… exactly at day 30, I needed to check if could print up the documents. I could. And the impatience was RIGHT BACK. Don’t wait for the birthday, do it now. Don’t wait for the aunts coming from out of town, do it now. Planning with the ward doesn’t matter do it now!
But I think I’m more stubborn than Asher.
You see, we believe when you die, you’re in waiting. Have you ever done something super dumb and Mom says, “You just wait till your father gets home!” and you’re like, “Oh crap! I hope my will is up to date!” Then you sit in your room or something and your just chewing on your lip wondering how many walls your dad is going to throw you through. This is where the idea of Hell comes from.
Or maybe you remember a time when your spouse or parent has gone away for a little while and you actually remembered to do the dishes or maybe you made them a nice meal and you’re constantly watching the clock, looking forward to when they come home and then they do and it’s love and glory and happiness. This is Heaven.
When we die, we’ll remember all the things we ever did as well as an understanding of our capacity and our drive. We will know if we did a good job with the light we were given. Did you do good works? Did you help and lift people up? Then you’ll be excited for the next step. Did you choose poorly? Did you add to the hate and small mindedness of the world. Well, you just wait until Heavenly Father gets home.
But as soon as someone who has all of their ordinances completed passes, so long as their looking forward to the next step, they can “enter into the rest of the Lord.”
And I imagine, it’s where you get to ask questions:
- How badly did religion screw things up with all the translations?
- Please explain string theory.
- When I was in highschool I thought that girl liked me. Did she?
Think of Elenor bugging Janet in The Good Place (which was a surprisingly accurate representation of what we believe the next life will be like).
So I imagine… Asher… after being uploaded… was like, “Okay! So, how do I get access to the God Database?”
When I completed his initiatory work, the impatience changed. It was eager. Excited. I was terrified. The poor coordinator at the initiatory desk. I was an absolute mess. “Are you okay?” “NO! I’m absolutely NOT okay.”
When I completed his endowments… the impatience went away. The endowment ceremony is very symbolic. It’s full of meaning for the living, not the dead. The dead already know all the things we “learn” in the temple. They’re there. They can see it. It’s… like part of the orientation manual. “Welcome! Everything is fine.”
But there’s this moment. Where we symbolically pass through the gates and into “the rest of the Lord.” I was too busy sobbing to think that hard about it, but my bishop (local church leader) came and said, “It was the first time I realized it’s only symbolic for us. For them, it’s when they can actually rest and get to begin their next steps.”
You have all the keys now, Asher, and I can feel that the impatience is gone. I’m sure you’re busy learning all the things. And it would be just like you to get distracted and forget to check in.
But I miss you. So… if you could take a break from researching from time to time and come say, “Hi, Dad,” I’d really appreciate it. I prayed to see you in the temple. And… I received an undeniable answer. I don’t get to know if you’re okay. This is my test of faith. So I choose to believe you’re having fun. I choose to believe you’re safe. I know you’re not in pain anymore.
But… I choose to believe you’ll be the first person I see when I’m done here. I just have to figure out how to spend the next 50 years without you. And that makes me sad.