Friday, February 19, 2010

Neanderthal Baptism by Proxy

Our trip to the temple this week for youth baptisms went as expected. Three boys were asked to leave after displaying scoring cards, Olympics-style, as the young women climbed out of the font in their white, clinging frocks. A dozen, or so, of the youth had cell phones confiscated while engrossed in texting (hopefully not taking pictures of other youth in wet-whites).

When it was my turn to baptize, I started out with great zeal. I think I knocked out about 20 within the first minute, but then I started getting those Eastern European names that are impossible to pronounce for us internationally-challenged Utahans. As the names got harder, my mind started drifting to stories I’ve heard since my youth about the spirits of the dead gathering around the fonts in the temple, waiting for their baptisms to be completed, or pointing to the dropped baptism card that was theirs. Then, something struck me like a slap from a drunken hillbilly. (No offense meant, Sister Larken, I know you don't drink.)

I’ve never heard anyone ever mention having a vision of any Geico-esque Neanderthal spirits standing around the font waiting for their turns, having ditched their furs for white togas. Is this just a matter of lingering Neanderthal-denial and prejudice in the Church? If most members still hold on to a young-world belief, do we just dismiss the need for Neanderthal baptisms for the dead on the technicality that they were born on the earth before the earth was? Or before the earth was ushered in as, ‘official’ by a talking snake?

Maybe there was a line drawn on earth’s evolutionary timeline by the council on Kolob where only Homo sapiens were past the ‘eligible for baptism,’ line. It could also be that a species might have to achieve some benchmark of technicality during their allotted time on earth before becoming eligible for baptism, like creating a writing system or figuring out metallurgy and animal husbandry.

And, I suppose that Neanderthals might still be eligible for baptism, but we just don’t have their names. They could just be waiting around like the other 99.99999% of people that have lived on the earth that we’ll never have a record of until after the Second Coming. Also, it could just be that they’ll need to wait for other Neanderthals to perform the proxy baptisms themselves as I’m not sure intra-species proxy baptisms are allowed, regardless of the evolutionary-proximity of the species.

I do know that someone is going to have a lot of rules to go over in the next life, or whenever the Millennium starts. And there better be some darn good crowd control in place, otherwise it’s going to be utter chaos with all the unbaptized trillions trying to cut into mile-long baptismal lines.

Hopefully we’ve learned enough by that time to not have Neanderthal-only baptism fonts. If there’s one thing the Geico Neanderthal has taught me, is that they just want to be treated as a fellow hominid, and not singled-out.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Celestial Voyeurism

As I was reading the New Testament the other night in 1 Corinthians 13 - the wonderful chapter from Paul about charity - I had a strange epiphany that brought back youthful memories. First of all, at my age I always get concerned when having an epiphany, hoping it’s not just a stroke. Fortunately, this time it didn’t end with a trip to the emergency room. The verse that brought about this insight was:

For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Cor. 13:12)

Sometime in my seminary years I was introduced to the then-horrifying quasi-doctrine that not just God, but everyone, would have full-access to view everything about everyone else’s life in the afterlife. Very explicit examples were given of our lives playing out like a movie, where others would have a virtual-remote, more-or-less, and view our lives at their pleasure – our lives would be an, ‘open book’. All would be known. And shared. With everyone.

Now, for someone who growing up thought the idea of Santa and his peeping elves was creepy, this really freaked me out. And, as these graphic portrayals tend to do when introduced to the young and impressionable by someone respected, they stuck with me. Every now and then I’d shudder and think, “Whoa! Who’s going to be able to see this? I really don’t want my mother-in-law looking in on my ‘sexy-time’ with her daughter, if you know what I mean.”

Well, in thinking about the creepiness of everyone knowing all about us in the afterlife, I realized that this plan was already in motion. God is actually starting to acclimate us to this eternal eventuality. It’s all around us, hiding in the open.

It became clear to me that Google, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube actually have a purpose in the Great Plan, and we’re just getting a peak of what’s to come. I observed a couple of weeks ago that Google is becoming God-like in its ability to provide answers for all questions, but I failed to connect all the dots. Google is only part of God’s much larger plan of introducing us to the truly Orwellian future that awaits us in the afterlife.

Today on earth I can instantly find the answer to such diverse questions as: how many women Tiger Woods slept with, who were the survivors of the Titanic calamity, or what the distance is from the earth to the moon. I can also receive instant updates via Twitter and Facebook from my friends, family and complete strangers, day and night. There are currently hundreds of millions of personal videos available to consume from individuals openly available on YouTube. All of the pieces needed to capture your entire life, for all to see, are already in place.

Think of how shocking these personal movies must have been for the poor Neanderthals that reached heaven after only being exposed to fire as the ultimate technology! These days with TV shows like, Big Brother and The Bachelor, capturing lives of people 24x7, we’re all going to be well prepared and think it’s no big deal to have our lives presented 24x7x365x100,000,000,000…

I wonder if we’re still going to have celebrities in the afterlife? Will certain people have millions of subscribers to their live-feeds? Perhaps new celebrities will be made: The woman who births the most spirit children in a given millennium, the man with the most worlds-under-management, the ‘Swinger of the Century’ for, well you can imagine.

If one thing is certain to me, it’s that voyeurs will undoubtedly find heaven to be, well, heaven. No pesky cops keeping them away from neighbor’s windows at night. No need to wear dark clothes and a mask while doing their peeping. No sir! In heaven, voyeurism will be an encouraged and well-facilitated practice. It does make me feel somewhat sorry for the poor souls assigned to review the infinite number of life tapes for any peccadillos. Hopefully they have a fast-forward button.

I suppose we should approach this inevitability with a, “glass is half-full,” attitude.

“Well, hello Angelina and Brad…”