Memento mori

Memento mori January 8, 2022


The first temple in Nevada
The Las Vegas Nevada Temple at sunset.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)




I don’t know whether this makes me peculiar or not — in any case, other facets of my character and personality are probably more than sufficient to do that without the need of adding anything else into the mix — but I often enjoy funerals.  At the same time, especially when I’ve enjoyed them, I often leave them feeling deeply challenged and more than a little bit inferior.  Of course, I’m well aware of the tendency of eulogies — look at the etymology of the word eulogy! — to emphasize the good and to minimize, color over, or even altogether erase the bad.  As the old saying goes, Nil nisi bonum.  Or, to give it its fuller expression, De mortuis nihil nisi bonum“I’ve been to a lot of funerals,” Elder J. Golden Kimball is reputed to have said, “where the dead man was given a ticket to the celestial glory that I knew damned well wouldn’t get him more than half way there.”


When I hear the happy reminiscences of good men and women that are spoken at their funerals, though, I think of dozens of ways in which I don’t measure up, ways in which I could be and do better.  This is especially so when I’m personally confident that the praise is deserved.  Sometimes, I wonder what speakers at my own funeral might truthfully be able to say about me, and I wonder about what they might not feel themselves able to say.  Am I focusing on things that will matter at that day of summing up, or have I been distracted by trivialities (if not worse)?


I’m very far from the bizarre monster that some of my critics have conjured up from the vasty deep (or, more accurately, that they’ve created largely ex nihilo out of a combination of their passionate hostility and their fevered imaginations).  But I’m acutely aware of genuine flaws and defects.


But all this is a long way to get around to saying that I’ve listened, in bits and pieces, to the remarks that were delivered at the large Latter-day Saint  memorial service for the late Harry Reid that was held today in Las Vegas.  (Brother Reid’s having been a member and even the leader of the United States Senate seems to me, in some ways, to be profoundly irrelevant at this point, so I don’t use that title.)  And it’s also to say that I found what was said — by, among others, Brother Reid’s family, President Joseph R. Biden, former President Barack Obama, and President M. Russell Ballard — inspiring.  The service is available online, and I commend it to your attention.


I also commend to those of my readers who hate and despise Harry Reid.  If they’re still filled with seething contempt for him after listening to it, I can only express my admiration, in as completely unadmiring way as possible, for their determination to hate him.  And, furthermore, while you’re thinking about Brother Reid, I direct your notice to this item:


“How Harry Reid helped secure hallowed ground for the Latter-day Saints”


Back in the day when I still had political opinions, I was on the opposite side of the political fence from Harry Reid.  Not only in terms of party registration but in terms of political and economic views.  But I am perfectly clear on the fact that he had many good qualities, that there was much in him to admire, and that there are elements in his life and example from which I can and should learn.



"Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon."

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