Date: October 24, 2018 12:40PM
P. Grant Dollinger was the church's newest General Authority. And it concerned him, which he would never admit, that he couldn't stop daydreaming about a plane crash or some other type of transportation calamity involving either the other six presidents of the first quorum of 70s or a number of members of the quorum of the 12 apostles. And he couldn't help wondering if the other GAs also fantasized thusly. Of course, it sure made sense that the President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles would lie awake nights wondering if he could outlive the current president.
Being a GA was great stuff, and he knew with all his might, mind and strength that the higher up one was on the GA food chain, the better life would be.
The initial “P” stood for Plutarch, which his father had laid on him in some quixotic state of mind, knowing that as future GA, only the initial P. would be used. People who learned what it stood for would sigh and think good thoughts toward the boy. It obviously had worked out as intended!
It was a Wednesday, Temple Wednesday, and he was due at the temple in a little over an hour. Living on the East Bench meant he didn't have to leave for another 30 minutes, but he'd leave in 15, just to be double darn sure he was there in plenty of time. But then it occurred to him that he'd be coming across as an eager beaver. He looked at himself in the mirror, making eye contact, and smiled. Eager beaver wasn't a bad thing, especially when you were so darn White and Delightsome.
As he was finishing with his tie, his wife, Jennifer came into their bedroom. "Wow, sweetheart, you look so good!" Her smile was radiant; she was quickly growing accustomed to life as a GA's wife. PG, as his friend's called him (he did have a bit of pot belly, which when they pointed at it as they called to him, annoyed the crap out of him) turned to greet her with a kiss. She expressed her delight with a return kiss of her own, on his chin.
"You're looking particularly ripe and juicy," he said. He tried to fully embrace her, but there was so much more to her now than there'd been when they'd met at BYU, right after his mission. Jennifer was now 46 and PG was 45. He'd come home from his mission to finish at the Y and she had graduated that next May when they were sealed for all time and as many eternities as it took to make it work. She’d worked for the two years it had taken to get his business degree and to become an insurance salesman and then she’d had the first of their five children. Once on the job, he’d been very, very good at it, and with his family connections, not to mention Jennifer's, whose maiden name was Kimball. She was not a close relation to Heber C., the old prophet, but who could take the chance? So between the two of them, they'd ridden a fast horse called Mormonism to prosperity. They’d hung on for dear life, but now their Election had been made Sure!
After the temple session, back in civilian clothing again, PG was following the other five 70s presidents (Ronald D. Raggin, two slots senior to PG, was in the Orient) down the tunnel from the temple to the church HQs building. Based on his perception of 'how things worked', it was his place to be seen, but not heard, so he plastered a look of bland sincerity on his face and stayed one step behind F. Hagen Hopper, the second most senior of the 70s presidents, who was in earnest, but soft-spoken, conversation with C. Morran Armstrong, third most senior.
When PG least expected it, Bro. Hopper slowed and let PG catch up to him. "So, I hear they call you PG. We're going to spend a good deal of time together, so PG is easier than your full Mormon name, and in exchange, you can call me Hop. As for Bro. Armstrong, he seems not mind that we couldn't come up with a nickname for him, so we call him Morran, but now with the Prophet's latest revelation, it might be a bit too close to 'Mormon' and we could get in trouble with the big guy! The two men laughed, short, soft barks of laughter, cut short, as if, thought PG, they were worried about being overheard.
"Yeah, I guess I've been PG since I was a kid, so I'm okay with that." He delivered the old line, waiting for the expected pay off. And it came with another short bleat of laughter from the two men. He smiled at them, and at himself, feeling good about establishing a more primal relationship with them than just their 'church' relationship. He reminded himself to take it easy...
"So what's your favorite sport, hobby or pastime?" asked Morran, looking up to PG's 6'3" from his, Morran's, 5'8".
"Well, I got into golf because of the social/business connections a guy could make, but I found that I really enjoyed it. I think I may be seriously involved with it." Again, PG waited for an appreciative laugh, and got it, from both men.
"What's your handicap?" This came for Hop.
"When I was younger I was a USGA member and joined a club and got it down to a six handicap. But I just play for fun and by not being a member anywhere now, I don't have a posted handicap, and that was actually a bonus in business. When I knew that my bottom line needed me to lose, I’d just claim the appropriate handicap and then not play to it. You should see how graceful a loser I can be!"
PG was a little nervous about revealing this, but he could see that he'd hit a nerve with them. Money was important, no matter how high you got in the church, even with the financial settlement that had been made to release him from Mammon's grip. All the GAs were in a sense independently wealthy, as long as they followed the church’s rules, and were successful in their efforts to keep the membership in line and tithing!
"Good to hear, PG. We play up in Heber a couple of Saturdays a month and since at best, there's only seven of us, we need you to join us. What's your private cell phone number?" This was from Morran.
"Well, when they gave me the church phone, I stopped carrying my private phone. I sort of thought that that would be too worldly a thing to do."
Hop took over, "Yeah, you have to ditch the number everyone from your past life had, and only give out, sparingly, your new official cell number, but you have your secretary call Vicky, my secretary, and she'll explain how to get a cell phone account billed to the church, without your name attached, and you carry that as your personal cell phone. That's how we stay sort of off the grid, but still in close touch."
"Wow, cool! Thanks. I got a male secretary..."
"Oh, good move! Bonita hates Vicky. She knows there is absolutely nothing going on; hell's bells, Vicky is almost 70, but Bonita can't stand that I depend on Vicky for so much. I even, sort of seriously, offered Bonita Vicky's job, but not only did she not take it, she thought it was an insult to her, what with having grown up a close friend of the Monson family. I’m likely to get a male secretary, too."
All three men were silent, shaking their heads. Women!
That night, after kneeling in prayer by their bedside, PG and Jennifer clambered into bed. PG lay back on his pillow and began composing himself for sleep. "Better put on your sleep mask, honey, I'm going to be reading for awhile."
PG smiled indulgently at his wife, "What are you reading now? I bet it's something that Wendy either wrote or is plugging."
Jennifer's face clouded. "What's that supposed to mean?"
PG blew a bubble of air from between pursed lips. "Nothing!"
"Then why'd you say it?"
"Well, I guess I'm just letting my natural optimism bubble up. She's the closest thing to an alpha female any of us has seen this high in the church. We've all seen, at some point in our lives, a real strong woman running her husband and their kids' lives, and I just consider Wendy to be that type of strong, forceful woman. How else could she have landed the Prophet as her husband."
Jennifer continued to stare at him, but her look softened. "You know, or maybe you don't know, Wendy has had a very, very hard life, emotionally. I don't attach any credence to the nasty rumors about her and Sherry Dew; sometimes you need dear, strong friends when you're a single woman in the church." Then her face totally cleared and her eyes lit up and she smiled. "I have you and I am the most blessed woman on this earth. It may only be my personal opinion, but I have no doubt that it's true." Then she laughed! "I say this in Jesus name, amen!"
Ten days later PG pulled his old, lovingly restored 1984 two-door Chevy Blazer into the parking lot of Heber Valley's Red Ledges golf course. He'd heard a lot about it but never played it. He'd figured it was a trip of well over an hour, but he'd found that he was only 40 minutes away. He pulled up to the bag drop curb and got out to open the back of the Blazer, and he was joined there by a young man in a Red Ledges golf shirt. "Good morning, sir. Nice ride! I'll take your clubs,...and the shoe bag. When is your tee time?"
"I'm with the Hopper group. I think we have two times and the ..."
"Yes, sir! Are you Pres. Dollinger?"
"Yes. Yep, that's me!"
The young man stuck out his right hand, "It's a real pleasure to meet you, sir. I had a class at the Y with your son, Rick...I mean Richard..."
PG laughed! "Oh, we all call him Rick, so don't fret that. So what do I do now? This is my first time here... What's your name?"
"Jonnie, short for Jonathan."
PG smiled at him indulgently. "Where'd you serve?"
Jonnie smiled back at him. "Argentina - Rosario. I got back about 11 months ago."
"You close to getting married?"
Jonnie never broke eye contact with him, nor did he stop smiling. "No, not yet. I'm still working on it. Well, I think you're still missing a couple of your group. Presidents Hopper, Morran, Forrest, and Leavitt are all out on the range; I'll grab a cart and follow you to where you park and then take you out to join them."
"Hmmm... Can I use the head first...the bathroom?"
When he'd been delivered to the range by Jonathan, he exchanged greetings with the four fellow presidents already there. He then began his warm-up procedure and within a few minutes began hitting range balls. He found that it now took him longer to get loosened up than it had when he was in his late 20s, early 30s. The others returned to whatever stage of their pre-game ritual they'd been at.
A few minutes later he heard one of them say, "The f-a-g-g-o-t is bringing Oakley over." The word 'f-a-g-g-o-t' lanced through his brain like a white-hot laser.
He looked back towards the clubhouse and saw 70s president Willard J. Oakley riding in Jonathan's cart. His voice squeaked when he started his question, "Jonathan is gay?!"
Morran, whose voice PG now knew had uttered the sentence he'd heard said, "Yep, the little queer is gay as the 1890s. Eventually, he's gonna screw up here and we'll run his tight little ass out of here. And out of the church, to, if he doesn't do the honorable thing and off himself."
PG, who had relatives whom he knew were gay, was shocked, but he did all he could to hide it. He presented what he thought was a calm face as he watched the approaching golf cart. He focused on Jonnie and tried to see the Gay in him. But he couldn't; all he saw was a happy young man enjoying himself. And then he noticed how Oakley was pulling himself away from the young man, putting as much distance between himself and Jonnie as he could without getting out and walking. PG then shifted his brain into neutral and simply stopped thinking.
(A few years later he’d learned that Jonnie had moved to Southern California for work and that he’d left the church before the Gay thing had come to a head. He’d had mixed feelings about that and decided that it was probably best if he simply didn’t think about it.)
Finally, all seven of the presidents of the 1st quorum of 70s were present and they made their way to the 1st tee. Pres. Smithson, who was Canadian, was the senior president and he handled the tee-off assignment by having each of the other six put a ball, personalized, into his hat. He then pulled three balls and announced that their owners would be with him for the first nine holes and then the other three would play with him on the back nine.
At the completion of the round, Presidents Smithson, Oakley and Forrest left immediately. PG had also planned on leaving right away, but the banter of the other three intrigued him and so he pulled out his church phone and texted Jennifer that he was going to be delayed getting home. He felt a distinct pang when he put the phone back into his pocket and it clanked up against his new 'personal' phone, whose existence Jennifer did not yet suspect. He knew that it was a secret that would not keep, but he felt a sort of sly relief while it did. He'd once heard a joke that in the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, where he fully expected to reside, he would have the cell phone numbers of all his wives, but they would not have his. And when he called them, his number would not be displayed. It was good to be a god!
The four of them went into the dining room where the hostess showed them to an obviously reserved table out of sight around a slight bend in the architecture of the restaurant. A secluded alcove, where only a couple of the other tables were in view. And those tables were empty.
When a waiter approached them, Morran spoke up. "Tomas, my good man! Whiskey Sours all around!"
PG's back snapped straight and his head jerked up on his shoulders as if he were trying to come to attention while seated. The waiter, Hispanic in appearance, grinned back at Morran and then wheeled and walked away.
PG's mind was whirling but then after a few seconds, he saw the three others grinning at him. "Relax, PG, Tomas is bringing us each a Diet Pepsi!"
PG made a big production of wiping his brow, as if in great relief.
The four of them then launched into personal analyses of their games that day, with PG holding his own in the conversation. The rest of the afternoon passed in comfortable male intimacy with his new friends and workmates. But then just before they parted, PG was asked if he'd been given a travel assignment yet. He reported that he had not. He watched the other three nod at him. "Well, have you had a sit down with the Prophet yet?"
"No, not since he gave me my calling. Talk about harrowing. I thought he was looking into my soul."
"Oh, it's hardly that. Russell thinks that just because he used to handle men's hearts that he knows what's in them." It was Leavitt who said this and it frankly stunned PG. The prophet was being...well, if it wasn't criticized, for sure he wasn't being praised. Something of this thought process must have been revealed on his face, because Hopper then spoke up, "Relax, PG, President Nelson may be the prophet, but like all the others before him, he is foremost a man. And don't tell me you haven't, even as young as you are... Look me in the eye and tell me you haven't imagined yourself outliving the competition and winding up as the prophet, seer, and revelator. It could happen, you know. And are you prophet material?"
PG cleared his throat, to stall. And it came to him in an instant: they had all gone through the same thought process he had. So he let it out, "Yeah, it did cross my mind...."
Hopper smiled at him. "Of course it did. And are you any holier than any of us? Be careful how you answer because you know the saying, 'you can't bullshit a bullshitter!'"
PG grinned back at Hop, “No, Hop, I’m trying to be the best man I can, but I’m still just a man.” The others smiled and nodded at him.
...ten years later...
Time had been kind to PG. He smiled at himself in the mirror. This time he was getting ready for the funeral of Pres. Hopper, and he, P. Grant Dollinger, was now the senior President of the First Quorum of 70s. Two, now three deaths, one promotion into the Quorum of the Apostles and retirement via Emeritus status, for senility and one excommunication, and now he was the top dog. He thought he had a very good shot of becoming one of the 12 while in his early 60s. It wasn't something that would happen automatically, but it well within expectations.
Jennifer was suddenly in the doorway. "We should be leaving in a couple of minutes, President Dollinger!" She smiled, somewhat ferally, he thought and then she turned away. He raised an eyebrow at his mirror image, 'At least she doesn't bother waiting for me to compliment her on how good she looks,' he mused.
After the funeral, he and Jennifer stood with a group of 70s Presidents and members of the 12, politely exchanging tepid opinions about the weather. No one dared bring up speculation about who would be the newest 1st Quorum of the 70s President to be called, even though they were all dying to talk about it.
PG thought it likely that he'd be called on by the First Presidency to either mention a candidate or comment on candidates they were already considering. He welcomed the opportunity to build some more rapport with the recently elevated prophet. He'd never thought it necessary to try to grow closer to the then apostle, Masimo Poggio. Ever so many people had convinced themselves, PG included, that God would never allow a foreigner to lead America's religion! President Masimo Poggio had been born in Argentina at the start of WW II and his family had converted just after the war when the missionaries were able to enter the country again. And he’d come to America as an up and coming employee of IBM and then become a naturalized citizen. His English was perfect. Everything about him had been perfect, including his looks.
And there was absolutely no doubt that the church was flourishing. Pres. Poggio had become both popular and respected by members and non-Mormons. There may have been some initial anonymous grousing by some of the Utah faithful, but that had disappeared when he had not even mentioned President Nelson's attempt to oust 'Mormon' from the church lexicon. Rather, he had simply, and very adroitly, ignored Pres. Nelson's 'revelation' that Mormon was bad ju-ju. He hadn't criticized Pres. Nelson's very lame attempt to rewrite history; instead he had acted as if it had never taken place. In an early interview with the SLTribune religion reporter he had talked about growing up Mormon in Argentina. People had counted: he had used "Mormon" eight times in the printed quotes in the article.
The comments section had blown up, reaching over a thousand comments in less than 24 hours. 94% of ALL the comments had been favorable towards Pres. Poggio, and 100% of these favorable comments, from both Mormons and Ex-Mormons, mentioned the return from exile of the word “Mormon” and had applauded. There were more than a few mentions of "The king is dead; long live the King!"
The funniest comment PG had read was, "I wonder if anyone will listen to Russell in Heaven, cuz no one is listening to him down here..."
...ten years later...
PG cleared his throat as he approached the lectern. It took less than 15 seconds to rise, straighten his tie, shirt front, and suit coat and walk humbly forward and put his notes down in front of him. He put as serious a look as he could on his face and then launched into his talk. It started with "Brothers and sisters..." and went on for just over 18 minutes.
He returned to his seat as his final 'amen' and the response of the congregants finished reverberating from the Conference Center walls and ceiling. A profound silence followed, broken within a few seconds by the rustling approach to the lectern of the new President of the Quorum of the 12.
"Brothers and sisters, I now propose that by a show of hands we indicate that we support and sustain P. Grant Dollinger as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the President and leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All who do so please raise your right arm to the square." After gazing about the great hall for seconds, Apostle Nelson R. Frobisher concluded with, "Thank you all for your support. We will now hear 'All Creatures of our God and King' from our wonderful Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
Later, seated at lunch in his quarters in the Hotel Utah, 75-year-old P. Grant Dollinger idly stirred his Boston clam chowder and wondered what Jennifer would have made of all of this. She had died just before he'd become the senior apostle some seven years earlier, a few years before the cancer had sprouted that eventually reduced her to a 100-pound scarecrow and then killed her.
Prior to that he had, in his mind, begun calling her an appalling series of words: 'the house that walks.' He'd read a very irreverent short story wherein the protagonist referred thusly to his wife, who had turned from a bride of 5'2" and 112 pounds to a wife and mother of 5'2" and 340 pounds. That such a thing could and did happen was quite common, but to read that someone was calling the mother of his children, 'the house that walks' had seemed very cruel. But he’d ended up using the phrase. Even now he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
And of course his guilt was increased when the cancer came and nothing medical science or priesthood blessings did could slow its determined progress. Jennifer had taken solace from a comment made by one of her close friends, that God needed her talents and devotion in Heaven, STAT!
After her passing, PG’s thoughts were on how soon he had to wait before he could start‘dating’ and how big an age gap was permissible. He was still in his the 60s so he didn’t think he could get away with the same 30+ year gap that Pres. Nelson had bridged. But there were more than likely a small, elegant herd of frisky, eligible, 50-year-olds that he could graze amongst before picking one.
But he’d never gotten around to looking for someone to date, much less asking anyone out. His days had been busy and there were always so many things that had to be done. So his oldest daughter, who’d had no choice but to divorce her RM husband after he resigned from the church, had become his default ‘Plus 1’ in matters where he had to be part of a couple.
Funny thing about his former son-in-law, Alex Lefevre: he had remarried, had a couple more kids and from appearances was doing better than ever. His BIC kids seemed to get along with his new, atheist wife and seemed to like their step-siblings. Which to the people advising PG meant that Satan had found a new strategy to use to try to undermine the church: make the Fallen appear to succeed so that their loss of gospel prosperity didn’t show as much. PG wasn’t so sure that was the case, but it was obviously the path he had to appear to take. He’d not uttered a single word to his former son-in-law after getting word of his resignation. He and his daughter had initially spent some hours discussing just exactly how to make him suffer when he came crawling back. But obviously, that had never happened.
Being the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and thus God’s only spokesman on the Earth was mostly a never-ending parade of business meetings. Prayer always started and ended each meeting and PG was pretty sick of them; yes, ‘them’, both the meetings and the prayers.
He was also disheartened every time he met with his kids, their spouses, and the grandkids. There were still no great-grandkids, but they’d be coming soon. And if truth be told, were it not for the financial benefits that cascaded down to them, a couple of his kids would have gone inactive years ago. But it seemed that his advisors were certain that God was big on “Image.” And no member of the 12 apostles, much less the big cheese prophet, must be seen as having a family member who was not a believer. It was okay to lose an in-law here and there, but not a child you’d raised! Okay, a grandkid, like Ezra Taft Benson had done, but not a kid!
After finishing his soup, which didn’t have enough crackers, but how can the only prophet of God on the planet ask for more crackers and then be seen crumbling them into his soup! Prophets don’t do that! Prophets endure!
There was over an hour before he had to spiffy himself up and be led back to the Conference Center. His counselors, both older than himself, and both seemingly idolizing him, which he had reason to believe was pretty far from the truth, would be coming to meet with him in less than half an hour. He sighed.
It was no fun being the Prophet. As one of the Presidents of 70, he and at least three or four others had found outlets for their humanity. They had laughed, they acted silly at times. And sure, there were times when he’d wished they could have gone out carousing and had some laughs with women who’d be exciting to touch, hold and kiss, but there’d been no problem reining in those silly desires. He had a kingdom to win, and there was only one way to win it, be faithful: To his wife, to his family, to his church, and to his God. And he’d won through and the gold ring was now his.
Once he’d be raised to the Quorum of the 12, all opportunities to be silly had vanished. The only laughter he could count on as an Apostle was when some of the more ‘honest’ Apostles discussed how the Church was effecting Gays and their families. PG had learned to ‘take notes’ during such episodes, in hopes that his lack of participation would either go unnoticed or be excused.
He was certainly on board with being righteous, but he wasn’t on board with the cruelty. For instance, Alex, the resigned former son-in-law, was a funny, incisive man with whom he, PG, had played quite a few rounds of golf. It was obvious that Alex did not treat him as anything special. They once had a sort of intimate moment after a round of golf, seated together, just the two of them, in a booth, secluded from all the other diners, and PG had asked Alex, “How come you don’t seem to think I’m anything special?” He knew Alex would get what he was asking, and he was right.
With a shy smile on his face, Alex responded. “I like you! You’re a good man and you should never fault a man who is doing the best he can. Personally, I think that there’s a good chance that having to be the Church-you (and here Alex had made finger quotes), pretty much sucks. That’s all people should be seeing from you: Church! You can’t be silly except maybe with your grandkids; you can’t give a long, low wolf whistle at a really pretty girl; no one can grab you out of sheer affection and give you a noogie, and you can’t do the same back! You’re on the Quorum of the 12 (at that time…) and you’re trapped! If anything, I feel sorry for you.”
After a pause, Alex went on, “What are the odds that I make it to the top degree of the Celestial Kingdom, in comparison to your odds. So, you’re like at 100%, right? Because circumstances will see to it that you are never going to be given the opportunity to fail at your job. It’s like you’re getting a full escort all the way to heaven. Then look at me! I’m young, I spend too much time thinking about how the world works and how to make money based on who I am and who I know and what I know, because money is how we keep score. You don’t have to make money. I do. So are my chances lower than yours…? You know, to get to the highest degree, where I’m supposed to have countless wives and make countless babies? I’ve never asked Annie what she thinks of it, and I never will, and maybe I’m a freak, but I’m not looking forward to it.”
PG remembered that he’d chosen the high road when he’d answered, but now he couldn’t remember how he’d expressed himself. He knew he’d said something about ‘growing in knowledge as well as stature’, but sitting here in front of his cooling soup, he had no idea what he’d been trying to say.
And now Alex was an apostate and was a threat to lead his, PG’s, grandkids into apostasy. That could not be tolerated! At one point it had been hinted that Alex’s financials could be adversely affected if that’s what it would take to bring peace to the then Apostle’s mind. But he’d nixed that idea initially. Later when he’d asked for details on how something like that could be done, he’d been told that ‘it was too late.’ He hadn’t said anything further, but he had prayed to his God to please keep his grandchildren well within the fold.
PG (no one would ever dare call him this again!) thought that for the most powerful man on earth, he felt entirely powerless. If the youngest, rawest Deacon had more power in his little finger than the Pope, how much POWER must PG have? But he had no idea how to exercise it, other than to give people things to do and the church’s business units goals to achieve. He didn’t see himself on the high wall of a city, prophesying to the inhabitants… Maybe at Conference, but every point he might try to make would be dissected and mocked.
And then another thought crossed his mind, for perhaps the 1,000th time: would God ever speak to him? He’d tried a great many times to open up a line to God, but God had never picked up. And he’d spent many a night laying there, hoping for an incoming call. But other than the occasional bout of indigestion, nothing had ever happened.
And if truth be told, he could not remember having had it confirmed by the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon was true; but obviously, that had happened, or he wouldn’t have gone on his mission! That was an absolute indelible fact! He couldn’t remember being born, but obviously. that had happened; so, too, must he have been given the necessary witness!
PG looked up. Annie was standing by his left shoulder.
“Do you want more to eat? More to drink?”
“No, sweetie, I’m good. How are you doing, baby girl?”
“Fine, I’m fine. You looked lost in reverie there. Were you thinking of mom?”
“Yes, yes. I think about her a lot lately.” He smiled up at her and noted that she looked and acted nothing like her mother. It was a total lie, but it didn’t bother him because if he was sinning, it was to keep his daughter happy. She deserved it.
“Dad?” She was looking down as she voiced her question.
“What, baby girl?” He smiled up at her and waited to make eye contact with her. When she did, she still didn’t smile.
“Dad, how come you’re no different now?”
PG laughed out loud. “I’ve asked myself exactly that same question! I’ve known me all MY life, and you’ve known me all YOUR life and we both seem to agree that I’m still the same person I’ve always been. And we didn’t expect that, did we? Because we both have always known that I’m just an ordinary Utah Mormon and we wonder how on earth an ordinary Utah Mormon wound up at the head of the church.
“Every Prophet, Seer, and Revelator we’ve ever known was special in our eyes, and now we have a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator whom we know for a fact is NOT special.
“But only you, your siblings and I know this. To everyone else, I am special. Well, not to Alex…”
Annie made a moue of annoyance.
“Oh, don’t give it a second thought. All the ex-Mormons, the apostates, agree with him that I’m not special, but that’s just on general principle. And how can you and I argue the point when we both seem to agree with Alex and all those like him? You ever take a look at a website called Recovery from Mormonism? It probably wouldn’t bother you, but a few years after the internet became a thing, I used to visit such sites. Then when I was first called as a 70, 30 years ago, I went back to a couple of them, looking for some way to ‘help’ those poor people. That wasn’t going to happen. ...Nope.
“That’s when President Nelson first started his ‘don’t say the word Mormon’ campaign, Reading what was being written there on that ‘anti’ site, I was bowled over at how dismissive they were of us and our process. They are convinced, just as we are, that they have a truth. It seems that everyone finds a truth they can handle. If someone tells you, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’, just tell them, ‘Okay, well then I’ll find a truth I can handle!’ and they leave that particular field of battle and find one where they can win.”
Annie’s face was blank.
“You okay, Sweetie, Annie?”
“Yes, Dad. Are you?”
“Sure am! 18 million people call me a prophet, so how could I not? I’m going to get another Pepsi. Want one?”
“No, I’m good. And you’re good, too. Thanks!”
No copyright enforced. May be used how, when and where CZ decides, except that if a film is made, I get to play the part of Cheech Marin.