Perhaps it saved me

Perhaps it saved me July 6, 2024

 

The temple in Newport Beach
The Newport Beach California Temple is located just a few minutes away from where I’m typing.
(LDS Media Library)

Well, we checked off most of the items on our list during this visit to Newport Beach:  We had a meal at the restaurant (The Farmhouse) at  Roger’s Gardens, and another one at the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove.  I had a date milkshake at the Shake Shack just off of the Pacific Coast Highway near Crystal Cove (overlooking the Beachcomber), just as I first began to  do with my parents back as early as I can remember, when we would drive down from our home near Los Angeles to visit my father’s family in and around San Diego.  We went out from Dana Point with Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari, as we do on most visits.  Alas, though, we saw no whales this time.  But we watched a large pod of common dolphins — at least a hundred of them, I would guess — jumping and cavorting, as well as a pair of bottlenose dolphins, a large “ocean sunfish” or “common mola,” and several extremely sleepy California sea lions (a large male and a number of year-old pups) sunning themselves on a harbor buoy.  For my wife and me, though, spotting any marine wildlife is just icing on the cake (to coin a phrase); we simply love being out on the ocean in a boat.

The really great aspect of the trip is that we did all of the above with members of our immediate family — and that, on Friday, we were able to host one of my late brother’s sons and his family for swimming and pizza and mochi donuts and conversation.  Southern California is, after all, my and my brother’s native habitat.

There were some things, though, that we just couldn’t fit in.  We would love to have made our way up to Whittier and San Gabriel where my parents had their homes, and to have visited my parents’ and my brother’s graves.  We would have stopped in at The Hat for the pastrami dip sandwich that I grew up with (and that I love and that my wife, well, doesn’t) and at Fosselman’s, in honor of my brother, who loved their ice cream.  And I had hoped to do a session at the Newport Beach California Temple and/or even the Los Angeles California Temple (which was “my” temple when I was growing up, and where my family was sealed).

Happily, barring some unforeseen mishap, there will be further opportunities.

Tilley's Dana Point
A sunset at Dana Point, California, taken by Mike Tilley
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)

Speaking of family, though not of those family members with whom I’ve spent this past week:  Several people on the paternal side — the non-Latter-day Saint side — of my extended family had fairly serious problems with alcohol throughout their lives.  In one or two cases, unfortunately, their problems impacted others beside themselves.

There is evidence that heredity can incline a person to chronic alcohol abuse.  So, not knowing whether I myself might have been born with a genetic proclivity in that direction, I’ve always been quietly grateful that, when the time came for me to choose whether or not to drink, I had already committed myself on religious grounds, with considerable support from my faith community, not to do so.  I’ve never regretted the choice even slightly.  I’ve never been tempted, at all, not a single solitary time, to go back on it.

A few years ago, I hosted a rather prominent non-Latter-day Saint visitor to BYU for a couple of days.  (Some here who are political junkies like me would definitely recognize his name; a Democratic activist, among other things, he was continually taking calls on one or the other of his two cell phones from well-known Democrats, including, at one point, Jimmy Carter.)

Things became just a bit rocky shortly after his arrival in Provo, though.  I took him to see a short introductory film for visitors to campus which, very briefly, mentioned the lack of booze at BYU.  As soon as the film ended, he exploded in angry disbelief at what he considered our transparently dishonest propaganda.  It turns out that college alcohol abuse is a big topic for him.  When I assured him that, although there are undoubtedly exceptions, it really is true that the vast majority of BYU students don’t consume alcohol, he disdainfully (and rather insultingly) wondered how much I was paid to “toe the party line.”  That was, I admit, quite uncomfortable.  He soon lightened up, though, but, for the rest of his time in Provo, he kept asking surprised students what their favorite drinks were, when they had last attended a “kegger,” which beer they liked to take to football games, and so forth.

Several days after returning to his home base in Washington DC, he wrote me a note of apology.  His conversations at BYU, and then his conversations back east about BYU, had finally convinced him that we weren’t lying, or merely striking a pose, and that the University really is essentially an alcohol-free zone.

I’m rather proud of BYU and my community on that score.  Over the years, though, I’ve wondered about seeming evidence that moderate consumption of wine was actually beneficial to human health.  In that event, I reasoned, perhaps the chief function of the Word of Wisdom’s bar to alcohol consumption would be to serve as a token or a marker of commitment to obeying the will of God, even without evidence of temporal benefit.

However, things have changed a bit in recent years.  I’ve already mentioned this study here on my blog, but it bears repeating because some may have missed the news and because that news is really quite important:  “No amount of alcohol is good for your overall health, global study says”  And this still more recent story should probably be, as it were, added to the mix:  “1 in 20 deaths globally are a result of alcohol use”  And then there are results such as these:  “2016 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100,000 Population by State”

All in all, the Latter-day Saint practice of abstention from alcoholic beverages is looking very good these days, scientifically speaking.

Posted from Newport Beach, California

 

 

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