Sunday, March 1, 2015


During my formative years, my mind, eyes and ears were too busy grasping new ideas, seeing new wonders and hearing new sounds to be bothered with such a fault in the human family.

During the semi brain dead years of adolescence and teenage hood I was too wrapped up with my peers to take time to think that the way things were probably was not the way they should be.

As far as I can remember, my first conscious awareness of this fault in the human family was in a small chapel in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. (I always love saying that). Before the meeting I had been really excited because we had some visitors from the land northward and I had had a chance to speak and hear of things I had left behind when I said goodbye to my family some six months earlier.

Then it happened. Ironically it was during the passing of the Sacrament, when the congregation was promising to remember the Lord and keep his commandments. I heard the visiting sister whisper to her husband, “You would think the boys passing the Sacrament would at least wear white shirts.”

The heaviness which descended upon my heart in that moment, as I thought of the wonderful mothers who had stayed up late to wash clothing so their sons could have a clean shirt to wear, was sadly to become an all too familiar feeling as I continued to add years to my mortal voyage.

During my years of teaching religion in the Church Education System I felt the heaviness as cliques, built up by one’s year in school, labels on clothing and other silly reasons among the students, caused division and friction.

During my years of ecclesiastical service my heart often sank from the weight of listening to people with broken hearts reveal their sadness of being shunned for what seemed like an endless litany of thoughtlessness from those congregants who were greeted as brothers and sisters each Sunday morning.

When I was doing a demographic study with the aid of the University of California at Fullerton in preparation for the building of an Institute in Mission Viejo, California, I was dramatically made aware of the shifting of ethnicity in communities in Southern California due to what the experts at the University referred to as White Flight. Once again my heart sank with heaviness.

Most recently, as Kathleen and I have, first through assignment and then through concern and, hopefully, sometimes because of charity or the pure love of Christ, become acquainted with a man who through a series of unfortunate events, both because of personal choices and societal calamities has been cast into the ranks of homelessness.

It has been extremely interesting to me, that the cashiers at the little store in the service station treat him with kindness. That the people in the fast food industry help him when they can. That the Evangelical Church feeds him. That the Catholic Church gives him a place to sleep. But, when he accompanies Kathleen and I to church, people avert their eyes and wrinkle their noses at the tobacco smell which lingers with him. Gratefully, there are a few who greet him and make him feel somewhat welcome.

In the Book of Mormon, in Alma chapters 31-36, Alma laboriously records in great detail about the events which took place when he went among a people who were called Zoramites. This group had developed a form of worship where only the wealthy were allowed to worship upon a high stand called The Rameumptom. They also taught that it was only upon this stand that one could pray to God and that they were to pray using the same words once a week upon the stand.

The stories which are contained in the Book of Mormon were carefully edited by the Lord. Therefore, it seems we should take seriously the lessons being taught when He dedicated six chapters to the problem of bigotry, prejudices, character assassination and cruelty to our fellow sojourners.

As I have pondered upon this fault in the human family I have come to realize that the excuses we make and the reasons for shunning people seem inexhaustible. We shun others because of age, clothing, pigmentation, wealth, education, political parties, sports teams and nationality to name just a few or for no reason at all. And yet, we cling to our righteousness as card carrying Christians, when the very center of the good news the gospel teaches is about how we should treat and care for one another.

The Savior reserved His strongest condemnations for people who were hypocritical, political and religious leaders who sought to be served rather than to serve and those who trod upon those who had already been beaten down.

Did He not admonish?

That we love one another as He has loved us?

That we be merciful to and mourn with our brothers and sisters?

That our love should even be extended not only to our neighbors but also to our enemies?

That we not speak ill of one another but seek to edify and build?

That our doings to our brothers and sisters should be guided by how we would want to be treated?

The scriptures are abundantly clear that the works for which the children of Heavenly Father will either be condemned or rewarded center mainly upon how we treat one another.

The apostle John said it clearly and succinctly; If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:20)

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