A couple years ago, I was trying to light our propane BBQ and kept clicking on the ignite button. It wasn’t working, so I turned off the gas and went to find a lighter. I came back with one of those long lighters, turned back on the gas, and started clicking the lighter. BOOM! It ignited and apparently there were gas fumes all over because it singed my eyebrows and the hairs on my hands and arms. So that is what it is like to have something blow up in your face.
Last week I had this happen metaphorically. I guess posting a blog with the word “anti-Mormon” can really get people excited. I ended up starting a bit of a firestorm and had a ton of angry people sending me comments, which by the way, I will not approve. My blog is a place for people to come and be uplifted, not a place for contention, rude comments, and arguing. There are plenty of places for that on the internet.
This reminded me of when I was at BYU back in the 1993-1994 era. I was in the BYU bookstore and was surprised to see the Sunstone magazine for sale at the bookstore. I wrote a letter to the editor and those were my words. “I was surprised to see this in the bookstore” given its mocking of the apostles and prophet. In this very issue there was a cartoon making fun of President Ezra Taft Benson. It just didn’t seem right that the BYU bookstore, at a Church-owned university, would be selling this. I dropped off my letter, (no, we didn’t email things back then), and didn’t think much of it.
The letter was published, and then, BOOM! The metaphoric BBQ blew up in my face. The editor of the Sunstone apparently reads the Daily Universe (the BYU campus newspaper) and wrote into the Salt Lake Tribune about my letter to the editor, and the next thing I know I had reporters calling my apartment (no we didn’t have cell phones) and grilling my roommates and asking me for a statement on why I was “appalled” (their words, not mine) at the magazine being there. The editor of the Sunstone said that I was “appalled and offended” by the magazine. I corrected them and said, “No, I said that I was surprised. I’m still surprised, but still not appalled nor offended.” They didn’t print my correction, but ran with the other version. Then of course came the backlash of others chiming in at me being appalled (still not my words), and eventually it blew over. Wow! I didn’t see that coming.
I’m the type of person who really doesn’t want fame. I am moving in a few weeks to a little corner of the United States called Port Angeles, WA. It’s probably an area where people go to get away from other people. We are going up there to be closer to my in-laws. My wife grew up there. I’m happy to be moving to a small town. Fame has never been something I’ve sought after. However, I think I could learn to live with riches. So if I have a rich Uncle Thurston Howell III, who wants to leave me a crazy inheritance, I could learn to live with that. Just leave out the fame.
Since there was so much backlash to the blog post, I’ve reread it probably over 100 times trying to see what might be offensive to those who have left the LDS faith. It wasn’t my intention to offend. It wasn’t written to them as the audience per se, and my intention was not to set myself up as better than others. I was being somewhat vulnerable and sharing about a time in my life when I was inactive in the Church, something I really don’t bring up often. The messages I received were mean, vicious, and very hateful. Some even said being inactive for three years didn’t qualify me to speak for others, which I wasn’t trying to do. I was sharing my experience and then shared a couple other people’s experiences. The attacks became quite personal, even making fun of my looks etc. It’s ironic since my post was about loving everyone.
My first knee-jerk reaction was to lash back, which I’m glad I didn’t. My secondary knee-jerk reaction was the thought to forget ever writing again. It’s not worth it. (The fact that you are reading this is evidence that I did not do this either.) As I let the dust settle, and the firestorm of comments died down, I again couldn’t sleep; this time because of some of these comments that kept going through my mind. As I was in bed trying to get to sleep, I had the impression to read my patriarchal blessing. I won’t go into the details because it is personal, but I found the reassurance that I should keep on blogging. Now it didn’t say the word blogging since the year was 1984, but after reading a certain part, I feel better about just taking the heat sometimes. I really appreciate the words of encouragement many readers have sent to me, not knowing that I was receiving so many negative comments. I’ll try to be resilient and not let the meanness and vitriol get to me from those who don’t like my writing.
There will likely be times in our life when we offend someone or when we might be offended. It takes a lot of courage to swallow pride and apologize. I’m sorry to those who may have been offended by my last post. I wrote back to each person who left a comment explaining why I would not allow a contentious, disparaging, or rude comments to be posted. That further angered some people. When we have offended, or when we are offended, after trying to make things right, we must move on. I can’t let others get me down. Whether you agree with my faith or not, I will try to respect your beliefs and show love. Sharing my faith and belief does not mean that I think less of what others believe. I do believe that I have found truth and the way to eternal happiness through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Is my church perfect or are the people in it perfect? No. But it’s perfect for me and brings me incredible joy. I believe the head of the Church is perfect. The only perfect person ever to walk the earth, Jesus Christ. The rest of us are simply disciples, trying to emulate His teachings and example.
So there you have it. I am true to myself. I’m my own person. My writing style is my own. It’s not perfect. I’m not a trained professional or paid writer. I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to show people how righteous I am. My blog is an expression of who I am and my faith. There are plenty of things people might find strange about me. I’m a Mormon. I enjoy going to church each week. I have 6 children. I have a passion for cars. I love puns. I love France, the French language, and French food. I love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior. I love going to the temple. I love Church history. I love the city of Nauvoo. I love 80’s music and sometimes when I’m alone in the care, I will crank it up way too loud for a mid-40’s guy and I will sing at the top of my lungs. I also love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Sometimes I’ll crank it up as well and sing along usually trying to sing the bass part. I enjoy singing in our ward (church) choir. I love photography. I love technology, especially cables. I love Chick-fil-A and 5 Guys Burgers. I enjoy a cold Diet Coke. I like to write. I occasionally eat leftover cold pizza for breakfast. I enjoy movies and buttery popcorn. I’m generally happy and optimistic. I’m not like everyone else, yet I’m pretty average. Some of you will agree on some of my likes and some of you will not. As Taylor Swift says, “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” and Popeye the Sailor says, “I Yam What I Yam.” I appreciate you following and reading.
Now for a little fun, this is my advice on how to drink the new Feisty Diet Cherry Coke.