Sunday, June 25, 2017


It seems at times to have been only yesterday, but in reality was probably some 30 years ago. Anyway, it was while we were still living in Reno, Nevada. One day while I was in my office at the Institute of Religion building, a Tongan brother stepped into my office and wanted a minute to discuss a question.

He and his brother had had a discussion in Priesthood Meeting. They were having a difficult time distinguishing between the concepts of inactivity and apostasy. He explained to me that in the Tongan language both of these English words were expressed by one single Tongan word.

We had a wonderful time, (I have always found the time to be wonderful when visiting with Polynesians) trying to sort out how the differences between the English words could be expressed in Tongan. He finally felt comfortable with the idea that inactivity could be understood by saying it was ‘a little apostasy.’

He had explained to me that the Tongan word for apostasy was best expressed by saying it was one who was off the path. Therefore, he felt fine about inactivity being a little off the path, whereas apostasy was being completely off the path. He then enlightened me further by saying that whether a person was a little off the path or completely off the path, they would still not arrive at the place they desired to go until they returned to the path leading to their desired goal. He also shared with me his belief that it would probably be easier to get back on the path from inactivity than from apostasy.

Besides all the learning about inactivity and apostasy which I was enjoying during this delightful exchange I also learned my first two Tongan words, ‘He’ and ‘Conga He’.

After my friend left, I spent some time pondering the concepts of ‘He’ (being completely off the path) or ‘Conga He’ (being a little bit off the path). I came up with several scenarios which helped me realize that the point where we are on the path, a little off the path or completely off the path, seems to be on a slippery slope and if we are not careful we can slide from activity to inactivity to apostasy fairly quickly.

I will try to illustrate my ponderings from that long ago day, by examining the slope which intellectually one might be sliding down – the slope of sustaining of church leaders one might be on and the slope of the importance of church attendance one might be on.


I believe the gospel is the word of God revealed to men for their salvation.

I believe as long as I do what I conclude in my own mind to be right, I am OK.

I believe as conditions change, scriptural teachings are less applicable.

I believe any scientifically trained person will recognize the scriptures as being very childish in the light of modern knowledge.


I feel I should strive to know the truthfulness of the teachings of Church leaders.

I wonder about the worthiness of some people the Bishop calls. Was his call made by inspiration or desperation?

I know if I were Bishop I would do things much differently.

It is obvious that the Bishop has favorites and since I am not one of them, I will just stay out of his sight.


I feel the time I spend at church learning about how to live the gospel is the most valuable way I could spend a Sunday.

The only reason I continue to go to church is because of my family and friends.

I feel most of the time I spend in church is a waste of time.

The church requires too much of my time, and I have a lot of more important things I need to do.

The danger of getting just a little off the path is that the slope seems to get more severe and slippery the further we wander and if we are not careful we will find ourselves in full ‘He’ mode.

The path of righteousness is full of slippery slopes. Hopefully, while you have been reading this Thought, some of those other ‘Conga He’ dangers came into your mind and you will make a personal evaluation of the signs of those wanderings. Because there seem to be so many ways we can wander, I suspect that is why the Lord bordered the path with an Iron Rod.

The Savior realized the danger of straying just a little bit off the path (Conga He) which could lead to apostasy (He). Therefore, he admonished us to keep our feet planted firmly on the path holding steadfastly to the Rod of the Gospel.

Did I mention I really like talking to my Polynesian friends?



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