Thursday, May 25, 2006

What if it's me?

I made a comment at Institute last night.

I'll pause while you all reel from shock. Yes, I know this presupposes that I went to Institute. Yes, I know this is out of character, but my roommate wanted to go, and I wanted to spend time with her, so there we are. (It's out of character for my roommate, too, but you'll have to ask her about that, not me.)

Usually, though, I've stayed firmly in character by letting my mind wander during our undeservedly-praised lessons. (Everyone seems to think the teacher is "just wonderful!" I wonder, would they admit it if she weren't? How much can a recommendation from the stake institute leader be trusted?) During our first institute class, my roommate (who has no online moniker) leaned over to me roughly five minutes into the lesson and said, "Tell me your entire romantic history." With that, neither of us listened to the teacher again. (It was no big loss. She was talking about how hard Isaiah is, an attitude I detest.)

During our second class, my roommate whispered with Kaneeneenie, who--also out of character!--had decided to join us for the night. Left in the lurch, I spent the class period formulating a simple alphabetic substitution code based on the International Phonetic Alphabet. (It's not too bad, I think--there's a few little twists that make it difficult to deciper, yet still easy to encode.)

Last night was the third class. I spent most of the period working on my honors thesis--a task I'm diligently avoiding right now, with only 14 hours left in which I could possibly work on it--but managed to zone into the lesson for just long enough to start experiencing some inner Sturm und Drang at the divisive, judgmental, utterly stupid "us vs. them" mentality that seemed to be general all over the class. (Name that allusion, Tolkien Boy!)

So I made my comment. I meant to stir up a bit of trouble, but the teacher misinterpreted what I was saying into a much milder point, and, alas, no brouhaha ensued.

I'm following in a grand family tradition of riling up church lessons, though, and now I can get to my actual point, my favorite of many family stories which feature my dad in one of his favorite roles, "Sunday School Provocateur."

This was in the Boston area, roughly 20 years ago. (I give you a place and time because if you ever run in to anyone who was there, they'll remember this.) The topic in Sunday School that day was the Antichrist, and the discussion, as such discussions often do, had degenerated into speculation about who the Antichrist might be--Hitler, the Pope, the Secretary General of the U.N., insert your least favorite public figure here--and my dad got frustrated and raised his hand.

"This is all well and good," he said, "but I think the real question is this: what if it's me?"

Now, he had a valid doctrinal point here: the word, after all, can be applied to anyone who fights against Christ. We are all in danger of becoming an antichrist, and so we must all constantly watch ourselves, our thoughts, and our words to prevent it.

My dad had been in this ward for a while, though, and had a reputation. The way my mom tells the story, about half the people in the room pondered the actual doctrinal implications, while the other half, she could tell, were thinking, "Yeah! What if it is him?"

So I leave you to ponder that question: what if my father is the Antichrist?


JB said...

That's hilarious. But, what if I'm the Antichrist?

Tolkien Boy said...

I call a Disney movie. The dang things are ubiquitous.

At least you know your mom's not the Antichrist.

Tolkien Boy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Th. said...


Well it's not me. You hear me? It's not!

Redoubt said...

Your dad is so totally my hero. I need to sue that line sometime.

Redoubt said...

And by sue, I guess I actually meant to say "use."

Melyngoch said...

I'm curious about your IPA-derived code and whether transliterating Isaiah thereunto would make it easier or harder. (Also about whether I'm going to later decide I don't like the abstract-motion usage of 'thereunto' later.)

Also, I attended 2.25 years of RT seminary. I know where the Antichrist lives.

flippin said...

That is truly a beautiful story. I know because I've heard it before but it was still funny this time.

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