Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sins by Proxy: Lesson in Proxy Work for the Youth

I was speaking to the youth this past Sunday on the importance we Latter Day Saints place on proxy work for the dearly departed. As some of you may have noticed, there seemed to be an overall lack of interest by the youth - even by the three who weren't texting during the whole lesson. Fortunately, at the end of the lesson I was struck by the Spirit with a novel method of teaching the great gospel principle of proxy work: Sins by Proxy!

Here's the plan. For one week starting next Sunday, the youth can commit pre-approved sins via proxy, for-and-in-behalf-of someone that now abides in the green meadows of the netherworld. It's probably best to keep this in the family, so you can personally explain this proxy lesson to them after this life.

At the end of the Sin by Proxy week, we'll start the Repentance by Proxy week, where each youth can feel the liberating warmth of proxy forgiveness as they confess the sins that were committed in another's name and help remove the burden from that poor soul's shoulders. I'm hoping that this can also take up a few sacrament meetings with testimonials from the youth about how much they learned from the experience, like we do each year after Girl's Camp (but never after Scout Camp).

For those not completely comfortable with this learning opportunity, don't worry, we can also employ Sins by Proxy by proxy! Just let me know if you're not personally comfortable performing sins by proxy, and we'll have another youth step in for you to perform the proxy sins, and then report back to you on their experience.

I have a list of suggested Sins by Proxy that the youth may want to try out, but please feel free to add others. Please remember, all sins not listed below must be pre-approved before they are committed:

  • Lustful thoughts
  • Sins of omission - Here's the chance to skip Church after sacrament meeting, and have someone else take responsibility for it (might be combined with breaking the Sabbath for a twofer).
  • Lying (smaller, white lies preferred)
  • Skipping scripture reading for the entire week
  • Wearing two-piece bathing suits and sunbathing in front yard (Young Women only, please)
  • Getting a second earring hole - just remember to remove the additional earring after the week, or The Evil One might gain a foothold
  • Fornicating - just kidding!
  • Friday, May 22, 2009

    New Ward Newsletter

    As many of you noticed last Sunday, we have a new Ward Newsletter that is a departure from those snooze-fests of the past. As the new Newsletter editor, Sister Farley decided to shake things up a bit, which has been met with mixed reviews of praise, and well, not so much praise. The members are mostly split by age groups in their opinions, with 60 being the magical pro-con differentiator.

    Some of the feedback:

  • "The kids loved the dot-to-dot page revealing a picture of Job covered with lesions - very creative!" - Sister Wen
  • "The 'Approved New Media List' is very helpful! I hate trying to make my own decisions on products released from Satan & Co's Hollywood. However, I disagree with your inclusion of Twilight on the approved list. Anything mentioning vampires and love has to be bad news. Deseret Books recent decision to pull it from their shelves is as clear of a message as a warning straight from a GA's mouth." - Sister Gilly
  • "The 'Good News Corner' left me feeling very un-blessed. Where's my trip to France? I've only been 'blessed' this year with non-stop screaming twins and a ticket from my husband to Monster Truck Madness. Yippee..." - Sister Luten
  • "The new 'Sponsored By' section with ads from Mr. Mac, Pampers and Chevy extended-cab vans seemed weird to me." - Brother Pratt
  • "The 'Celestial Casserole' section for recipes is a great idea. I had no idea there were so many accepted variants of 'Shepherd's Pie.' - Sister Keils
  • "I hate the 'Awkward Ward Pictures' section! Who wants to see a backyard shot of Brother Hamm sunbathing while only wearing a banana hammock? Sick and wrong!" - Brother Wright
  • Monday, May 18, 2009

    What's My Age Again?

    I was reading Mark Twain's, "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven," the other day, and it brought up some questions about the afterlife that were thought-provoking. You can read this short story online here.

    One of the questions covered in the story was the age that we'll be in the here-after. Here's an excerpt from the story after Captain Stormfield asked another man, who'd been in heaven awhile, about age:

    "Laws, what asses we used to be, on earth, about these things! We said we'd be always young in heaven. We didn't say HOW young - we didn't think of that, perhaps - that is, we didn't all think alike, anyway. When I was a boy of seven, I suppose I thought we'd all be twelve, in heaven; when I was twelve, I suppose I thought we'd all be eighteen or twenty in heaven; when I was forty, I begun to go back; I remember I hoped we'd all be about THIRTY years old in heaven. Neither a man nor a boy ever thinks the age he HAS is exactly the best one - he puts the right age a few years older or a few years younger than he is. Then he makes that ideal age the general age of the heavenly people. And he expects everybody TO STICK at that age - stand stock-still - and expects them to enjoy it! - Now just think of the idea of standing still in heaven! Think of a heaven made up entirely of hoop-rolling, marble-playing cubs of seven years! - or of awkward, diffident, sentimental immaturities of nineteen! - or of vigorous people of thirty, healthy-minded, brimming with ambition, but chained hand and foot to that one age and its limitations like so many helpless galley-slaves! Think of the dull sameness of a society made up of people all of one age and one set of looks, habits, tastes and feelings. Think how superior to it earth would be, with its variety of types and faces and ages, and the enlivening attrition of the myriad interests that come into pleasant collision in such a variegated society."

    This raised some interesting theological questions for me regarding our beliefs in the afterlife, which seem to have some holes in certain areas like age. Will we get to choose what age we are in heaven? As it was mentioned in this story, my ideal age for heaven has changed as I've aged, and I would imagine most everybody's does. Will we all be the 35-40 years old that most pictures of the resurrected Jesus appear to have him pegged at?

    Are children who pass away stuck at this early age for some time, even as we get older on Earth? Do they then start to age again after we die? Do they have any say in this matter (suppose they don't want to be stuck as a child, but would rather move into their teens and start dating)?

    I'm also assuming that we follow the Patriarchal Order in Heaven, and that men get to choose the ages of their wives. Is it common to mix it up some for age variety, with a few hundred wives at each age-grouping just to keep it interesting throughout the eons? Or, does everyone default to one eternal age?

    Also, how fast do spirit babies age? Do they need to go through a hard baby-spirit age, crying at night, and learning how to walk with their new little spirit legs, or are the spirits just born directly into young adulthood?

    On a separate-but-related note, do spirit children require any food? I'm guessing they don't, since it'd take a lot of wet-nurses to keep the legions of spirit infants per planet fed, if the wives are having them at a break-neck rate. It'd be non-stop spirit-nursing throughout the eternities, which can't be too enjoyable for the ever-birthing mothers.

    Is there further light and knowledge on this topic that I've missed, or do we just categorize this as another, 'it will work itself out, so don't worry about it,' item?

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Ward Suggestion Box - First Round

    Well, we've had the suggestion box up now for just over a week, so I thought I'd post what we have so far. There are some mighty-good suggestions already - and some really lame ones. You decide which are which, and add your own if you like.

  • Mini-refrigerator stocked with cold Mt. Dew for Elder's Quorum
  • A better selection of table cloths and flower arrangements for Relief Society
  • A, 'preferred,' calling spreadsheet where members can prioritize the callings that they'd like the Bishop to feel inspired to call them to
  • Home Teaching Hall-of-Shame list on the bulletin board for dead-beat HT'ers
  • Nose hair clipper to pass around HP Group meetings on Sunday
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Nursery Upgrade

    The Spirit this past Sunday night was in an especially-generous mood, and I had one of those not-too-infrequent, 'A-ha!,' moments that I thought were reserved for Stake Presidents and above.

    After some work on the phone yesterday, I was able to find a sponsor for some restaurant-style beepers that will now be handed out to each parent dropping off a child in nursery. If your child is terrible, you'll feel that special tingling that only comes from the Spirit, or a restaurant vibrator. (On that note, will someone please ensure that Brother Hicks doesn't get a hold of one of these?)

    Does anyone else receive an idea sometimes and think, "This is the one that may just get me called up to the Big Leagues?" Anyway, please enjoy this new convenience and remember that the Olive Garden (our sponsor) has soup, salad and delicious bread sticks as a lunch special on Thursday for only $4.99.

    Friday, May 8, 2009

    No More Paper Agendas

    Starting this week, we will no longer be handing out printed agendas for Bishopric, PEC, Ward Council, or Ward Welfare meetings. As you know, many of the topics discussed in these meetings - like Brother Noggin's recent deer poaching arrest - are personal and confidential.

    Also, I've recently had three members preemptively turn down callings after they saw their names on a list of potential candidates.

    So, to ensure confidentiality and keep our system of catching people off-guard for callings intact, we're going to start using Etcha-Sketches, which will then be shaken after each meeting to clear the notes. In conjunction with this policy change, we've called Brother Hamm as the Ward agenda preparer. Hopefully he's fast with his fingers!

    Ward Suggestion Box

    In my ever-vigilant pursuit of perfection, I decided that we could benefit from an anonymous suggestion box. There were times as a less-high-ranking member when I would have liked to have told the Bishop how to do a better job, but couldn't out of fear of getting called into the nursery.

    Well, now's your chance to make your voice count, or at least entertain us during Bishopric meetings. If you're only suggestion is that Brother Harold be given breath mints, please see Sister Grissel.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    That We Could All Be Like - Satan?

    During the Sunday School discussion this week, as it frequently does, the topic turned to Satan and how he's everywhere and into all our business, trying desperately to lead us astray with the help of the liberal media. Honestly, I'm not sure how Satan really made it before the age of television, movies and recorded music. Did Renaissance mothers warn their children of the evils of the lute-players and picket the gay Shakespearian actors?

    All this talk about Satan led me to ponder on the subject for some time, and after waking up from my intense pondering I felt warmed by the Spirit, although it could have just been the chili. Satan remains an enigma, but here are a few of my thoughts to help build some discussion.

    Let's face it, Satan is one hell of a dedicated guy, or as my mother would say, "he's been a real trooper."

    For over six thousand years on earth, The Evil One has shown tireless dedication to The Plan and has played his role of opposition to perfection. Think about that - Perfection. It's been pure busting-his-hump-evil for all these thousands of years. He's had no long weekends, no vacations, and has had to serve as a role model for billions of other pathological liars, thieves, psychopaths, and pig-body-snatchers. The only real benefit I can think of is not having to worry about rising health-care costs. That we could all be so dedicated!

    Over this time he's been called the worst of names: The Dragon, the Devil, the Tempter, a snake - and those are just the English names. Rumor has it that the Italians and Spaniards are much harsher. Most would have just packed it up and gone home after only a few centuries of such treatment, but not Satan. He's committed to the bitter end.

    So, what's in it for Satan for playing this role perfectly for all these millennium? Eternal damnation. Yup, all this hard work and it's, "Thanks for giving us a perfect 100%, now off you go to Outer Darkness." I can't imagine what this Outer Darkness would be like, other than really crowded. We've been told that 1/3 of the pre-mortal spirits chose, for some reason, to follow The Dark Side - way before Anakin Skywalker made it hip.

    Counting those that have lived on the earth, we would have to be approaching 50 billion full-time evil-doers. That's more evil spirits walking around than McDonald's has served in hamburgers. And I believe we're only counting humans here, not Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, etc. Regardless, it's going to shoulder-to-shoulder in that Outer Darkness. Even if Satan was only to give a quick 5-second air-high-five to all these followers, it would take him over 475,000 years. I suppose there won't be much else to do in The Darkness besides gnash teeth, so all the high-fives might serve as a welcomed distraction.

    Satan's also had to put up with a real drop-off in main-stream support lately. Back in the day, there were witches, demons, possessed animals, etc., all over the place. Then, people really got it together and started burning the witches. Well, sometime in the eighteenth century the interest in witchcraft as a career really fell out of favor with the ladies. These days, it's just the nuts that claim to be witches, and anyone that witnesses a body-possession is put away for their own safety. There still exists some childhood fears of monsters, but overall it seems that Satan's golden years are behind him.

    Through all of this general decline in interest, Satan still keeps plugging away. Year, after year.

    And just think - all Satan would have to do to completely thwart The Plan would be to sit down and do absolutely nothing. Do no evil, provide no opposition, refuse to do his part - just, do nothing at all. Within a minute, he could turn the whole Plan upside-down and really stick it to the Man. Surely I'm missing something here. It just seems too easy.

    So hopefully, Satan doesn't read blogs and has more evil things to do than surf the Net. I'd hate to be held accountable for providing Satan with the idea of how to wreck The Plan and leave us to our own evil devices. It certainly didn't work out well for those Lord of the Flies kids. It'd be a dark day indeed if we had to focus on fixing ourselves instead of blaming The Evil One.

    Always Feeding the Sheep,

    Bishop Mike T. Young

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Meetings Cancelled This Sunday

    Thanks to young Susie Millsap, we all get a weekend free of meetings. This picture from Susie's Tuesday visit to Thanksgiving Point surfaced just today, after Susie had played with six other kids from the Ward, who are now all quarantined to be tested for swine flu.

    Let this be a lesson to you all - heavy petting can have serious consequences.

    Bishop Young