Sunday July 27 2008 Rank Hypocrisy

Skies near Provo from here.

Here is my humble offering for this Sunday. For those just joining the program, Sunday is for non-game-related topics. Sort of an open mic.

Rank Hypocrisy

My first year teaching, I travelled between classes doing ESL and Spanish. In one fourth grade class there was a girl named Angel who was renowned for world-class tirades. However, whenever I would show up, she would move to the front of the class and pay close attention.

One day, a girl to one side of her hissed, “Don’t pretend you’re an angel...” And another girl on the other side leaned in and completed, “Because you’re not!”

I leaned down and said, “Yes, pretend you’re an angel, because that’s how you become one.”

I like going to church. It’s a habit now. I can’t imagine not going. Mormons still dress up; white shirt and tie. Everyone puts on a smile. Everyone is on their best behavior. I have sometimes thought that this is a bit of hypocrisy (on my part). I will speak for myself here. I burn in the face sometimes that Shawn outside of church is a bawling and bawdy jester, and so “what am I even doing here?”
I joke with the Bishop that he should keep a fire extinguisher handy up at the pulpit in case I burst into flames. I'm always tempted to do a routine when I walk in like "it burns. It BURNS!"

I’ve come to think of church more as a dress rehearsal. It’s practice. Sort of like practicing a pose hoping that it will “stick”. Each time my life gets a little better. I leave inspired to improve myself, with ideas to be more Christ-like.

C.S. Lewis wrote that Christianity is like whitening toothpaste. Sure that brother’s teeth may still be yellow, but how yellow would they be if he didn’t use the toothpaste?

And that’s true of my life. Sure, my character may be full of holes. But you haven’t seen in vision the Shawn that I could have become had I not been using the whitening toothpaste. He lives in a urine-smelling apartment with a single bare light bulb, a rank alcoholic, dodging the police and back child support. So, I thank my grandma Laurie for sending me to "bible camp", and Pastor Anderson who first led me to read the New Testament, and to the two LDS Sisters who knocked my door back in 1985.

I have hope. Hope that by plugging along, I will eventually wriggle out of my old snakeskin and become something better. I have no illusions. I am like a leper on a long journey to be healed by the Savior. What can I say when I kneel at His feet? My case is bleak. "I’m not getting any better, but I’ve come all this way knowing that You can help me."

The Savior didn’t heal people of the common cold. He only took on hopeless cases; lepers, blind, lame, deaf, and (in once case) even dead. That was to make a point. There are those (like me) who have spiritual leprosy. “But that thou see that the Son of Man hath power also to forgive sins, I say Rise, take they bed and walk.” [paraphrase, read the whole thing in Mark 2].

Abraham Lincoln said, “It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him."

I leave you, noble reader, this day with a word of encouragement: keep your chin up! And lastly with these quotes from On Being Worthy, one of my favorite talks.

Perhaps we all live under some misconceptions when we look at each other on Sundays as we attend our meetings. Everyone is neatly dressed and greets each other with a smile. It is natural to assume that everyone else has his life under control and doesn’t have to deal with dark little weaknesses and imperfections.

There is a natural, probably a mortal, tendency to compare ourselves with others. Unfortunately, when we make these comparisons, we tend to compare our weakest attributes with someone else’s strongest. For example, a woman who feels unschooled in the gospel may take particular note of a woman in her ward who teaches the Gospel Doctrine class and seems to have every scripture at her fingertips. Obviously these kinds of comparisons are destructive and only reinforce the fear that somehow we don’t measure up and therefore we must not be as worthy as the next person.

We need to come to terms with our desire to reach perfection and our frustration when our accomplishments or behaviors are less than perfect. I feel that one of the great myths we would do well to dispel is that we’ve come to earth to perfect ourselves, and nothing short of that will do. If I understand the teachings of the prophets of this dispensation correctly, we will not become perfect in this life, though we can make significant strides toward that goal.

“Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are children of God and that He has actually given His angels … charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.” (Gospel Truths, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, 1:2.)

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Shawn, I really appreciate your Sunday Comments. Please continue to Post them as it is a means for people to have some relief from their own lives. It gets people ready for a week's work ahead of them. And it makes you more human instead of the Machine that is BTP.


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