[Editor's Note: As per the direction and approval of JJ Dewey, the title of this article -- and the entire series of articles -- from "Handling Boredom" to "Youthful Recollections" in which he shares his early struggles with truth.]
After my talk with the Bishop I pretty much was determined to stay away from church as much as possible. There was one thing that nagged at me, however, and that was the idea that if you went to church and were good then you would reap a heavenly abode. If not then you would go to the lower regions where who knows what awaits you. I decided that maybe if I went to church once in a while I would be able to keep my foot in the door just in case.
One time when I attended the Bishop grabbed me again and took me in his office.
He said: "I hear you drink and smoke. Is that right?" He seemed a little incredulous since I was only 12 at the time.
I looked back curiously wondering where he had heard this. My parents drank and smoked so I thought that was all right to do. My friends and I would take advantage of cigarettes and beer whenever the opportunity permitted.
"Well, yes, I do sometimes," I said.
"Well God doesn't want you to do that," he said.
"I wasn't aware of that," I replied.
Then he explained to be about the Word of Wisdom revelation through Joseph Smith and the harmfulness of the products and implored me to give up those vices.
I thought about it for a few seconds and decided it would be a good idea to give them up and told him I would do so.
(I do not smoke to this day and did not drink again until the church threw me out at age 33.)
He must have been pleased with himself as I'm sure he saw progress was being made.
Then a few weeks later he called me again into his office. He looked at me and said:
"You know that when you are twelve you can be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and become a Deacon. You are almost thirteen and you have not been ordained yet. Don't you think it is about time you took the step?"
I answered back, "If I am ordained and decide I do not like being a deacon can I quit?"
"Oh, no," the Bishop replied, shaking his head. "The Priesthood is eternal and you have it forever when you get it."
"Then I do not want it," I replied. "I'm not prepared to be a priesthood holder forever at this time."
The poor Bishop. The last meeting he saw progress and this one he saw none.
I went to church maybe once in six weeks until I was into my thirteenth year. One Sunday morning I was on my way to my token church visit and I started thinking to myself something like this.
I have to figure out what I am going to do with this going-to-church business. This halfhearted attendance isn't accomplishing anything. I either need to be like my Dad and not go to church and live life entirely by my own will and pleasure or take this church going seriously.
So what are the plusses and minuses here?
If I don't go to church I could go to hell, but I could have a good time here and have lots of fun in my life.
If I do go to church I will be much more restricted by the religious teachings and bored to death in all the meetings I will have to attend. As I thought about it the boredom with the meetings would be the most difficult to handle.
Then I decided to put the whole thing in a wider perspective. If I go to church for a lifetime and behave myself I will then be entitled to an eternity of heavenly bliss and joy.
If I do not go to church and just pursue a life a pleasure then I risk and eternity of misery.
Logically it comes down to this. Compared to eternity a lifetime is less than an hour or even a minute. Now suppose someone came to me and told me that if I endured boredom for one hour that I could have anything I wanted for the rest of my life. Would I do it? Of course. It would be a no brainer.
Should I then attend church for a short lifetime to have an eternity of heavenly joy? Life is less than a minute by comparison to eternity. Logically, this also seemed like a no brainer. There's only one problem I told myself. I was just not sure if I was psychologically constituted to handle the boredom of attending all the meetings and of all the churches on the planet I think the Mormons have more meetings than them all.
I then made a deal with myself. I decided that I would commit myself to full church attendance for six weeks. During this time I would attend every meeting there is to be had no matter how bored I was.
Then after six weeks I would assess the situation as to whether I could handle attending meetings for the rest of my life. If I could handle it then I would become a regular church-goer and assimilate the whole program. If I felt I could not handle it then I would take the same course as my Dad did and live a happy-go-lucky life without the burden of church.
To be continued...
"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time."
-- Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937)
Word of the Day
Phalanx (falangk) -- Noun (pl. phalanxes) 1 a group of similar people or things. 2 a body of troops or police officers in close formation. 3 (pl. phalanges /flanjeez/) Anatomy a bone of the finger or toe.
Youthful Recollections, Part One
Youthful Recollections, Part Three
Youthful Recollections, Part Four
Youthful Recollections, Part Five
Youthful Recollections, Part Six
Youthful Recollections, Part Seven
Copyright © 2008 by JJ Dewey, All Rights Reserved