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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mourning and Daylight

It's been a difficult couple weeks.

My father passed away on the day of the election. He'd been sick for quite some time, and he was a staunch conservative. I often expressed to him my confidence that Romney would pull out this election and come off victorious. He did not live long enough to know how wrong I was. He certainly knows now, I suspect.

It was close. Very close. The Church received some incredible positive exposure, but not the kind of exposure that I felt a Latter-day Saint in the presidency would have brought. Maybe the Church wasn't ready. Maybe the world wasn't ready. Too many unanswerable questions. Still, we go on--as a Church, as a people, and as Americans.

My son, Alex, received his Eagle Scout. We held his court of honor last night. As we stood and recited the "Pledge of Allegiance," I experienced strangely contradictory emotions. It felt as if those words no longer held the same meaning. In this election the majority of American appeared to knowingly (as opposed to four years ago) select a president and an administration who appear to support numerous tenets committed to dismantling the country where I grew up in. Yes, a negative fog has beset me since the election. I know I'm not alone. This one has been difficult to shake. Sure, I was disappointed years ago when Clinton was elected--twice!--but nothing so dark and foreboding overcame me then like it has now.

Absolutely we must continue to hope that divided powers between the Senate, Executive, and House branches of government will keep things in check. But at the same time, there's nothing we can do to stop the implementation of Obamacare. Nothing we can do to stop the retirement and replacement of 2, possibly 3, Supreme Court Justices (approved, in the end, by our Democratic Majority Senate). And there seems little we can do about the whole culture of "gimme free stuff!" which seems to prevail among more Americans than ever before. Oddly, I sometimes perceive this same attitude of "entitlement" in the minds of young members of our Church. And even, depressingly, I've heard such sentiments within my own family.

Remember the good ol' days? We used to chuckle about the old jokes of "Grandpa walking to and from school in three feet of snow--both ways!" The fact is, my generation DID have it easier than that of my grandparents. But my own children have had it, thus far, better than I could have even imagined in my youth. The cycles of righteousness and destruction in the Book of Mormon have flashed though my mind often over the past few weeks.

At the same time, current events and statements in the scriptures should offer us incredible comfort and hope. The Lord has always promised safety to those who follow the living Prophet and "stand in holy places." Nevertheless, I'm frustrated by the percentage of youth--outside and inside the Church--who seem so easily seduced by a world where pornography is treated as commonplace and "normal behavior," where rationalizations against the strict adherence to commandments are rampant, and where the consumption of media that promotes lasciviousness, amoral attitudes, materialism, and "ends justify the means" has become perfectly acceptable and unavoidable.

Sure, there are stellar exceptions to these pervasive corruptions. The fight continues. And fight we must. But every day I feel as if I gain a greater appreciation of the emotional turmoils that must have plagued the Prophet Mormon. He strived all of his life to help his people change their apostatizing ways. They wouldn't listen. He watched them perish. If Mormon hadn't had the enlightened labors of abridging and transcribing the Book of Mormon to keep him occupied--as well as transposing the records of Ether and Mahonri Moriancumr--I wonder if he'd have been able to maintain some semblence of sanity. Without the comforts of Heavenly Father's Spirit, and the words of Heavenly Father's prophets, it seems it might have been easy for him to sink into the depths of despair.

As for the Saints of our day, we can all reflect on marvelous announcements within the Lord's Kingdom. Specifically, I point toward recent news about changing the age of eligibility for missionaries. Apparently this has led to a 400% increase in applications to serve. My own son is part of this. Within two weeks of President Monson's announcement, 18-year old Christopher Ammon had submitted his papers. He received his call on Wednesday. We were all present as he opened and read his letter from the First Presidency. He will be serving 24 months, Spanish speaking, in Medellin, Columbia.

As for the future, and in particular the future of the United States of America...I really can't say. The backlash of Obama's first election led to the galvanizing and inspiring movement known as the Tea Party. What will happen this time? It's too early to say. But something is brewing. I feel sure of it. Still, I have no idea what it is, or whether it will be successful at making headway toward preserving the principals that I took sooo much for granted all my years growing up in the greatest nation the world has ever known. Yes, I lived a life of freedom. I never knew anything else. I still don't really know anything else. But I'm afraid it may be  part of God's plan that many of us will not get off so easy.

More than anything else, I've reflected over the last few weeks about the meaning of "hanging by a thread." Many will understand what I'm talking about. It's a reference to a certain prophecy voiced by Joseph Smith in 1842 about the Elders of the Church stepping in and saving the Constitution. Before this election I felt strongly that Romney was part of the contingent that ultimately would lead that effort. The notion, however high-fallutin, hit me particularly hard one day last summer after I heard Rush Limbaugh literally say that "The U.S. Constitution is hanging by a thread!" Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and other conservative talking heads proclaimed much the same concept. Thus, I wondered how Romney could possibly lose. His election seemed a direct fulfillment of Joseph Smith's revelation!

Oh, how foolish I feel now. Obviously I was wrong. So many conservatives were wrong. And suddenly it seems obvious: We probably have no clue yet what it really means to be "hanging by a thread." Yes, we've experienced some discomforts--economic and otherwise. But nothing we've experienced may quite equate with what that phrase truly means. I'm concerned that soon we'll have a deeper understanding of that phrase than ever before. The only question is when, and what happens between now and then.

Still, the solution for us as individuals is the same as it has always been: Gird up your loins. If you have unresolved sins in your life, get them resolved--NOW! If you've been lax at following the prophets' admonitions about getting out of debt, gathering a year's supply of food and staples, and learning the principals of self-reliance, I fear the clock may be running out. And I fear many of our acquaintances, close friends, and even close family members, may not survive the oncoming scourge and the great sifting that is destined to take place of the wheat and the tares.

What's important is where you stand. Where I stand. Some days I feel like I'm personally standing on a pretty firm foundation. Other days my personal footing seems a bit unstable. So I have to remind myself: It's about faith. About repentance. And it's about enduring to the end. These are nothing new. They're the same principals we we've been taught all of our lives. And I hope, for many of us, they are beginning to resound in our hearts with greater amplification than ever before.

Be still, and know that He--above us--is still God.

In other news, I do have a new book coming out soon. No, it's not my long-awaited Tennis Shoes book. It's called Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul. It's a book I originally penned 12 years ago and spruced up from time to time over the last year. The release of this volume now--after everything that's happened--seems uncannily timely. Muckwhip might even be out as an e-book as early as the end of this upcoming week. The hardcopy edition will be out early next year. I'll talk all about it very soon and post the cover. Yes, Thorns of Glory is still underway. Honestly, the last month has presented more than a few distractions. I apologize for that. Still, as I've often promised, the wait will be worth it.

Copyright @ Chris Heimerdinger 2012


  1. Chris: The Church received some incredible positive exposure, but not the kind of exposure that I felt a Latter-day Saint in the presidency would have brought.

    I'm not sure that Romney's winning would have led to even more positive exposure for the Church. I'm actually inclined to think it would have led to a whole lot more negative sentiment, or at least a net negative for the average Joe.

    I suspect this mostly because politicians generally, and presidents specifically, are maligned and blamed all the time in the media for whatever problem is the current hot topic. Most press is negative. Combine that with the fact that Romney is conservative and the media is liberal, and their characteristic slant would have pervaded a huge portion of every report on him.

    I can't help but wonder if this election outcome is the ideal outcome, just regarding perceptions of the Church. All the benefits of being in the spotlight, with none of the drawbacks of being blamed for every controversial action of an actual standing president.

    That said, I totally agree that the election outcome is terrible regarding the nation's direction. I hope that one effect is for Americans and Latter-day Saints to get more involved. It's a pain to figure out the political process, and it certainly rubs against our tendency to avoid uncomfortable or contentious situations. But it's a necessary price we have to pay to preserve freedom.

  2. First, I agree with everything Nathan said - up until the last paragraph, that is. I think Romney did great things for the Church, but as Nathan said, I think not actually reaching national office spares him - and the Church - from a great deal of unjustified animosity.

    Second, I am so sorry to hear about your father, Chris! I hope you can find peace, solace, and love through Christ in this special holiday season.

    Third, my family and I are all very excited for the new book(s) whenever they might become available!

  3. Which part of my last paragraph did you disagree with?

  4. Chris, our condolences. We also lost my mother-in-law recently. It is amazing how much the timing of the Lord is noticeable when we ask for and look for it. Hopefully, one day I can share the experience with you. The idea of timing and the Lord's time is very much a part of your comments and in the end, as you stated, we can only do our part and be prepared. That includes not letting faith slip, doing all that we can in all that we do and trusting in our Father and His Son. Thanks for the pep talk.