In the world after the Fall

In the world after the Fall August 10, 2023


Lahaina's Pioneer Inn
My first visit to the Hawaiian Islands came when I was five years old. My second wasn’t until I was seventeen. It was on that second visit, I think, that I first came to Maui. We stayed in the old Pioneer Inn, in the former whaling town of Lahaina.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I’ve been saddened at the news over the past few hours.  The destruction of the historic town of Lahaina on Maui and the loss of life there are depressing.  I first visited Lahaina in 1970, staying in the old Pioneer Inn.  Nearly a century and a quarter old, it was built almost entirely out of wood — and it’s now apparently gone.  The massive banyan tree nearby has been damaged, if not killed.  Lahaina’s art galleries and restaurants have, I assume, also been destroyed.  The town’s museum has been gutted, along with its treasures.  I look at the photographs and I recognize familiar places — a Protestant church, a Buddhist temple — in flames.  I hope that the historic school above the town has survived, but I’m worried and doubtful.  There are at least two Latter-day Saint chapels in the area, in one of which we met with a Tongan ward just this past February and were moved by powerful Polynesian singing.  I’ve heard nothing about them.  I hope that they’re okay, and that the people we met there are well.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.


Lanai from Lahaina
An evening view, in happier times, from Lahaina across to the island of Lānaʻi
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


I’ve also been saddened by the horrible story of Craig Robertson, who was killed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Provo early yesterday morning.  He was, reportedly, a kindly man in person who attended his local ward every Sunday, but his Facebook posting history revealed a shockingly hateful and toxic ideological side to him that I find truly horrifying.  He could have been a neighbor of ours.  In fact, he was a neighbor of ours, living slightly more than three miles directly south of our home.  What could have possessed him to post the things that he did and, apparently, to meet the FBI with gunfire or, at least, armed?  There is, I’m convinced, something genuinely demonic abroad in the land.  It has long since gone far beyond legitimate political differences.


modern Lahaina Harbor
This is Lahaina Harbor as it appeared until just a couple of days ago.  It has a significant history for Latter-day Saints as well as for Hawaii itself.  Back when it was a simple whaling port and still a rather primitive place, the missionary Elder George Q. Cannon experienced a theophany in Lahaina.  And, some time later, just off shore, Elder Lorenzo Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles drowned here but was revived.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I was further saddened to see how ugly the controversy over a proposed temple in Cody, Wyoming, has become, at least in some circles.  A few commenters on the Facebook page of a group that bills itself as “Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods” are calling for legal “war” with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for a list of LDS-owned businesses to be boycotted.  (Perhaps such businesses might be required to display a yellow star, say, so that they will be more easily identifiable?)

Opposition to the temple ostensibly derives from its height, its planned location in a residential area, and the bright lights with which all Latter-day Saint temples are allegedly ablaze throughout the night.  Some on the “Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods” Facebook page have, however pointed to the Mountain Meadows Massacre as representative of the Church, dismissed the Church as non-Christian and therefore not welcome in the God-fearing city of Cody, and pronounced it not a real religion but, rather, a soulless corporation.  More recently, though, one “Kevin Jay Clapper” has distinguished himself by pronouncing my faith .

a “religion” founded by a pedo, that harbors thousands more  . . . on purpose. Who on Earth would support such a thing? Maybe Jeffery Epstein disciples can move in across the street.

In response to such falsehoods, I can only hope that the excellent work of Jennifer Roach can be better disseminated among both Latter-day Saints and those who feel the need to condemn Latter-day Saints.


I trust that the folks at the Lahaina Fish Company will be okay with my borrowing this image from their website as an instance of fair use (and as an unpaid advertisement for them) — though, alas, I fear that their restaurant may be no more.


Finally, I was saddened today to read this, in an interview conducted by Tyler Cowen with the brilliant, learned, and prodigiously accomplished David Bentley Hart:

The Book of Mormon. I have no opinions about it whatsoever. It’s kind of silly, the way it comes across to me. I’ve only read it once. . . .

Come on. The Book of Mormon is supposedly read off from these golden plates that Joseph Smith was shown and able to read with magical spectacles, plates that no one else ever saw. That’s very much a story. If you want to believe it, you can.

(See “David Bentley Hart on Reason, Faith, and Diversity in Religious Thought (Ep. 184): Is he the best-read guest in the history of the show?”)

To which I respond with, among other things, this, this, this, this, and these.  And there’s a very great deal more where those come from.

Ignorance often saddens me.


A view across to Lānaʻi at sunset, taken by my wife with her iPhone back in February.


I was cheered today, though, by an unexpected visit from a friend and former student, Professor Benjamin Huff.  We enjoyed some great conversation and then went out for a really good Thai dinner and yet more great conversation.

When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.

And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.  (Joseph Smith, in Doctrine and Covenants 130:1-2)

That’s a very attractive and satisfying promise.



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