First off, I owe the Salt Lake Tribune an apology. I said they hadn't published my letter to the editor a couple months ago, because I couldn't find it, but the other day I Googled my own name and saw that in fact they did. They even went so far as to add a cool somewhat relevant picture. I am grateful to them for publishing this important letter which unfortunately will continue to be relevant for the foreseeable future, and I know Dieter F. Uchtdorf reads the Tribune so maybe he read it and if so I'm 99% sure he agreed with it and that's awesome. I already posted its contents on my blog but if you missed that, go read it here. I'll wait.
Done? Great. Okay, so, I went to a couple of LDS devotionals in January and this is as good a time as any to write about them. The first was with Dieter F. Uchtdorf and he invited every young adult in Utah, it seems, to the Conference Center to watch in person. I'm not sure that waiting outside in line having to pee for an hour and a half was worth it, but it happened so that was that. I went with a bunch of people I didn't know at all and that made it an adventure.
"During my teenage years," Elder Uchtdorf said, "I had a crush on a most amazing girl with beautiful large brown eyes. Unfortunately, Harriet didn’t seem the slightest bit interested in me. Whatever I tried, it didn’t seem like I could catch a break." That reminded me of literally all my crushes ever. By the way, did you know that brown eyes are the default for humans and that all blue eyes are descended from a mutation in one individual 6-10,000 years ago? This is one of mine. It's beautiful, if I do say so myself.
"That's how it's done," one of the females I went with said to one of the males and me afterward. "You've got to prove yourself." I already knew that from a textbook called "Animal Behavior". Of course, because of sexual selection, this turns out to be impossible for some individuals whose genes consequently don't get passed on even if they were perfectly capable of surviving per se. Jussayin. Continuing:
"You might as well accept the likelihood," Elder Uchtdorf said, "that once you make the commitment to follow the Savior, the residents of the great and spacious building will disapprove - quite vocally, at times. They may even attempt to bully and shame you. But remember that you do not answer to them. You answer to God. One day you will stand before Him to account for your life. He will ask what you did to overcome the temptations of the world and follow the path of righteousness. He will ask if you followed the Savior, if you loved your neighbor, if you earnestly tried to stay on the path of discipleship." Here I have a unique advantage because I became acclimated to bullying for other reasons nearly two decades ago. If you were ever curious why I'm so jaded about the human race, there you go.
There was also the annual Joseph Smith Memorial Devotional by Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife Ruth here at USU. There is no transcript or recording of that as far as I'm aware so I don't have any direct quotes to share. They spoke alongside each other, back and forth, and the chemistry between them was amazing. They picked on each other quite a bit, her teasing him for being a doctor, him teasing her for being a lawyer, him teasing her for framing his stethoscope for his birthday and failing to realize that rendered it useless to him. To me it spoke volumes about their comfort level with each other and was far romantic than "My wife is my better half and I am unworthy to grovel on the ground at her feet" or whatever men are expected to say. If I ever get married I definitely want teasing to be an aspect of it. I already tease my close female friends and this has actually become problematic, as I'm writing a story for school and one of the characters is supposed to be a bully but nothing she says feels mean enough.
Character: Jane Padgett, you sound like a bull moose having an aneurysm in the middle of his mating call.
Me: Yep, that's totally something I would say to my favorite coworker.
Their messages was about listening to the Spirit in the right places and the right ways using the metaphor of the stethoscope and I honestly can't remember enough detail to give an adequate paraphrase so instead I'll share this irrelevant story about Elder/Dr. Renlund that I saw a couple years ago from an ex-Mormon forum.
Years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night to get a glass of milk when I heard a gasp coming from the bathroom. Thinking that my lovely wife of 37 years was on the couch watching television (a habit she has frequently had throughout her marriage), it didn't mean anything to me when she hadn't been in bed. When I opened the bathroom door, it was the worst case scenario. My wife was on the floor, clinching her chest from an apparent heart attack. I called 911 with a feeling of shock, and the next 10 minutes or so are completely out of my memory. She was life flighted to the hospital, while I sat in agony hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
After I got dressed and went to the hospital, I found out that Meredith had indeed suffered from a heart attack. It was something neither of us expected, as she was in excellent health with no family history of heart problems. When she had her stents put in, the main doctor we dealt with was Dr. Renlund, a pleasant middle aged man with a light voice and sweet demeanor. At the time, I was a TBM and yet had no clue that Dr. Renlund was a respected member of the Church. He was truly one of the most pleasant doctors I had ever dealt with, and made an extremely difficult time in my wife's life a little less painful. After my wife had stopped going on monthly visits to Dr. Renlund's office, he encouraged us both to keep in touch and let her know how she was doing. A few months after the fact, I got a text from a random number asking if Meredith had gone back to playing tennis. After I asked who it was, I got a one line response: "This is Dr. Dale Renlund."
Fast forward to last weekend. At this point in my life, I hadn't thought of Dr. Renlund since Meredith's ordeal. I'm happy to say that her health is better than ever, and we've never been happier. While neither of us are practicing Mormons, we still often watch General Conference just to keep up with the norm (both of our families are devout). Both of us gasped in unisons when we heard Dale G. Renlund called as a member of the 12 Apostles. Even though Renlund had given talks before at General Conference as a member of the 70, it was something we had never seen.
So what's my (and my wife's) predicament you ask? That one of the smartest, most caring individuals we have ever met is now believed to be a literal Apostle of Jesus Christ to the Church that took many precious years away from us both. While Renlund's professionalism and kindness will never be forgotten, I'm trying to wrap my head around his new calling. Does he genuinely believe that he is now a prophet, seer, and revelator to the sole true church on this Earth? Prior to this session, I always assumed that the apostles were in on the lie and were in it for fame and fortune. Now that Dr. Renlund is apart of that group, I don't know what to do.
My wife told me yesterday that apart of her wants to write Renlund and remind him of all the good that he has done. I told her that while that may be admirable, apostles these days probably aren't in the business of reading and responding to letters. I really wish that the first apostle I've personally known would have been a dick like Bednar is in real life. It's a shame that a great person with a high intellect is wrapped into it all from the top. It makes it conflicting for myself and my beautiful wife.
Strange indeed. Very, very strange.
I am sorry if my posts are declining in quality. With school and a job and an obscene amount of homework I can barely find any time to devote to them. Also, between the stress of that and a few other craptastic things constantly going wrong my enthusiasm for pretty much everything is kind of reduced. But I will keep posting every week, even if it's short, even if it's crap. Thank you for understanding.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.