Monday, December 03, 2007

The sort of spiritual experience eternal companions should share



Walter arrived in his suit and tie since the plan was to go out to a fine restaurant. Dressed like that and with his haircut, he looked like he was on his mission already. With his gorgeous looks and friendly manner, it was clear that he would have no difficulty approaching people and convincing them to be receptive to his message in the two years to come.

We spent most of dinner talking about how excited he was about his mission. As I already knew, he was being sent to the Florida Jacksonville Mission. That part was a bit of a disappointment because, like everyone else, he had been hoping for a foreign call. But some people were needed to spread the gospel stateside, and it was important to go where the Lord called you and needed you.

When we got back into the car he told me that he wanted to take me somewhere special and show me something that he had never shown anyone. I agreed a little nervously.

Noting my unease, he laughed in a friendly manner. "Don't worry," he said. "It's nothing bad. In fact, it's exactly the opposite -- it's something very, very good." Read the rest of the story ->

5 comments:

Aerin said...

chanson - I found this particular incident in the chapters very interesting. 1 - that the mission was viewed as so important - more important than whatever the person had done in reality and that 2 - the spiritual witness or prayer was more important that confessing to the bishop (and all the prior constant messages in church).

In my mind, this is a big part of mormonism - it's a double edged sword.

On the one hand, continuous and personal revelation can be great and a big difference for mormons vs. other faiths.

On the other hand, because of personal revelation, who knows that someone is being directed in the 'right' path - or towards something really quite 'wrong'. That was the terrifying part of Under the Banner of Heaven for me. Or the movie "Fraility".

The scene was also just really sad for me. The mental gymnastics are stunning.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Aerin!!!

As I was writing this story, I just felt like this was how these characters would deal with the situation.

MattMan said...

"As I was writing this story, I just felt like this was how these characters would deal with the situation."

Good point, chanson. You know, it also could've been interesting taking the story in another direction here. It may not have fit as well because at this point, though their words are strong, these characters (at least Jill anyway) is quite liberal and not so black-and-white in the practical application of her faith. And Walter, well, he's just a hypocrite, so we won't go there (I still want to kick his ass, lol).

The other direction that could've been interesting would be showing the consequences of one of them reporting what had happened to a bishop. For the sex, Jill would've taken the biggest spiritual & emotional beating, of course. Walter may have had his mission postponed or possibly even canceled, but at least he wouldn't get the "used chewing gum" treatment.

In doing so, the church would've set them up as an example of the "consequences" of not following the "commandments." In reality, the church would put itself in the places of both judge and executioner, though -- conjuring up its own consequences.

Regarding the abortion, the character assassination and judgment would have been nearly (or completely) unbearable for Jill if she continued to try to function in church. There would have been little to no support, love, or understanding from within the church. Since the seeds of her apostasy were already sown, through her growingly liberal thoughts and actions (with the help of some great lifelines like Jake's mom), that may not have made much difference. But for a rank-and-file molly, such inflicted guilt could have had permanent, if not fatal (if she'd go suicidal over it) consequences.

I'm sure there are real stories with those types of outcomes out there, and that wouldn't be a stretch at all to indirectly show the hypocrisy of the whole church paradigm. But I'm glad, for the sake of this novel, you didn't take that tack. The direction you've taken with the story is far more constructive as an awakening for Jill in this story, to see her way out of such self-destructive thinking, and hopefully of eventually coming to terms with what has happened and relieving herself from the burden of guilt she's carrying at this point in the story.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey MattMan!!!

It's true, that would have made for an interesting alternate plot-line. Yet in this particular case -- while the characters take the spiritual consequences very seriously -- I feel like they'd rather convince themselves that it's okay to try to find a way around any real-world consequences, if that makes sense...

Paul said...

"...while the characters take the spiritual consequences very seriously -- I feel like they'd rather convince themselves that it's okay to try to find a way around any real-world consequences, if that makes sense..."

That's an extremely interesting point. Is it generally true that Mormonism encourages people to focus on spiritual consequences to the neglect of real world consequences?