Even at this late stage of my life, I can still be, and not infrequently am, astonished by the behavior of certain especially bitter and hardcore critics of the Church. Typically — and unsurprisingly — they’re not never-LDS Evangelicals but, rather, apostates. (That seems to be historically true, as well, and not merely with regard to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apostates from a given religious faith or powerful worldview are, very commonly, its fiercest enemies.)
Anyway, I ran across a discussion just yesterday of the testimony that Elder Bruce R. McConkie, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave at the April 1985 General Conference of the Church:
To call it a “discussion” is actually far too generous. Those commenting ridiculed the way Elder McConkie licked his lips several times while speaking, and they jeered at his somewhat tearful delivery, dismissing his obvious difficulty in controlling his emotions as just another example of Church leaders’ attempts at psychological manipulation.
But surely they should have guessed, or at least suspected, from the very title of the snippet on which they were commenting — “Final Words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s Final Testimony” — that he might have been very ill. In fact, I would be quite surprised if several of them, or even most of them, weren’t fully aware of that.
As a matter of fact, Elder McConkie was fatally ill with cancer, as he well knew. He died on 19 April 1985, less than two weeks after he spoke in General Conference.
Viewed in that light, his dry mouth might well have been a result or a symptom of his very serious illness. And his emotions were almost certainly more intense because he knew that he had only a few days left. More sympathetic or more charitable people might even feel that it was rather heroic of him to speak for one last time, to publicly declare his faith on one final occasion, despite his pain and his weakness.
But a certain breed of apostate seems — online, anyway — to feel neither charity nor sympathy for anything or anybody connected with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I can never help being reminded, in such cases, of the description of the apostates of Ammonihah described in Alma 14. After reading about how they’ve burned a large number of faithful women and children alive and repeatedly beaten Alma and Amulek, we find this verse:
21 And many such things did they say unto them, gnashing their teeth upon them, and spitting upon them, and saying: How shall we look when we are damned?
To which my inevitable inner response is, “You’ll look exactly as you do right now.”
Posted from Calgary, Alberta, Canada