Saturday, October 31, 2009

LDS Stake Single Adults

To: Abbottsville Stake Single Adults
From: Ricky and Mindy Foote, Stake Single Adults Leaders
Subject: Official Worthiness Questionnaire

In our last e-mail to the Stake Singles, we mentioned that admission to the Swinging Seventies Party will require either a temple recommend or a completed Official Worthiness Questionnaire. Since then we have been flooded with replies from seemingly devout singles who wish to attend, but are not temple worthy. This alarming discovery will require long term attention. However, for the purpose of the upcoming activity, Mindy and I are sending the Official Worthiness Questionnaire ahead of time, in order to avoid a bottleneck at the door. Please fill out the form and e-mail it to us in ASAP, so we have ample time for review.

Fill in the appropriate circle completely and inside the line with a #2 pencil

1. Do you attend all of your meetings?   yes O no O
   *If you answered no, how were you offended? (Mark all that apply.)
     Your visiting teachers missed a month.  O
     Nobody ate your casserole at the ward pot luck.  O
     Your home teacher has a key to the church and you don’t. O
     You were cut from the ward volleyball team.  O
     Somebody sat in your pew.  O

2. Do you pay a full tithe? yes O no O
  *If you answered no, how do you spend the Lord’s ten percent? (Mark all that apply.)
   Cigarettes  O
   Slot machines  O
   Cock fights  O
   Malt liquor  O
   Multiple ear piercings    O

3. Do you sustain your local and general authorities? yes O no O
  *If you answered no, why not? (Mark all that apply.)
    I’m addicted to porn.  O
    I drink like Yeltsin. O
    I'd rather sniff glue.  O
    I’m into bestiality.  O
    I don’t like their suits.  O

4. Do you subscribe to and read The Ensign? yes O no O
  *If you answered no, how do you fill your leisure time? (Mark all that apply.)
    Surfing the Internet for porn.  O
    Mugging old ladies.  O
    Masturbating.  O
    Knocking over liquor stores.  O
    Reading Jon Krakauer.  O

Your answers to the above questions are confidential, and will be shared with nobody other than your stake single adults leaders, home teachers, Relief Society presidency, ward bishopric, stake presidency, both Quorums of the Seventy, the Quorum of the Twelve, the First Presidency, and The Deseret News.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we’ll send you a copy of “What Not To Do In Bed: Fifty rules for Appropriate Sexual Intercourse,” by Bishop Loomis.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

LDS Missionary Work

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Ward Mission Leader, H. LaVar Turley
Subject: Holy Fetch! He’d make a great Mormon!

How many times has it happened? You’re at work, the supermarket, or maybe the gym. You run into a non-member acquaintance, exchange pleasantries, then find yourself engrossed in a surprisingly wholesome conversation about family, moral values, and non-alcoholic beverages. You had no idea this person had such interests. Then it hits you. Your skin tingles, your eyes brim over, your lips quiver, and you think to yourself--Holy Fetch! He’d make a great Mormon!

Modern revelation has taught us that non-members such as the Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired accomplices to the restoration of the one and only true church. I believe this applies to many of our leaders in Washington, past and present. I’d love to tract out Congress. Both houses are rife with potential Mormons. (With the exception of Barney Frank and Harry Reid.)

Why not the office of the presidency as well? Consider the following “Mormons in the Rough:”

President and Mrs. Carter
President and Mrs. Reagan
President and Mrs. H.W. Bush
President and Mrs. George W. Bush
President Bill Clinton
Chelsea Clinton
Socks and Buddy Clinton
Barack Obama’s mother

But our list isn’t restricted to Washington. The Lord is preparing all of His children to receive the Gospel. For example, the FOX News evening line-up, Steven Colbert, the Octomom, former Senator John Edwards, and the guy who plugs the ShamWow.

And what of those near and dear, the ones who matter the most? Like the non-member brother-in-law who loaned you money, or the neighbor who didn’t sue when you backed over his foot with your Suburban. For heaven’s sake, what are you waiting for? Don’t just thank them with a tater-tot casserole. Give them what they really deserve, a Book of Mormon, your fervent testimony and daily visits from the missionaries.

The Church is true! Amen.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Word From The Bishop

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: The Archives of Bishop Loomis
Subject: Proper Administration of the Sacrament

Having received a series of complaints over our ineptness in supplying the Sacrament bread a couple of Sundays ago, the current bishopric decided the ward might like to revisit the policy under former Bishop Brent Loomis, whose shocking murder last year remains unsolved.

Administration of the Sacrament

The partaking of the sacrament is among the most holy events of our week, rivaled only by temple attendance, family prayer and blessings, and sacred intimacy with one’s eternal companion. (Refer to my pamphlet, What Not To Do In Bed: Fifty Rules for Appropriate Sexual Intercourse.) However too often the passing of the bread and water is reduced to a carnival atmosphere, with cotton-mouthed Priests muffing the prayer, Teachers who can’t manage to fill a water cup, attention deficit Deacons sleepwalking the trays around the chapel, and a ditsy congregation that scatters itself all over the building and grounds. The result? An alarming number of Abbottsville saints are missing the opportunity to ingest the body of Christ! Given this crisis situation, I am setting in place the following guidelines:

1. Saturday night curfew.
I instruct all members of the Aaronic Priesthood to be home by 8:00 PM every Saturday. I instruct the ward Young Women to support this new directive. Think of your young brethren as champions preparing for the “big game.” The Elders’ Quorum will serve as enforcement with the help of the our newly purchased high beam flashlights and state of the art GPS tracking system. Mothers, please follow up by tucking your teenaged boys into bed by 8:30 and reading them The Book of Mormon until they fall asleep.

2. Sacrament preparation.
I instruct the Relief Society to deliver four loaves of sliced homemade bread to the ward kitchen no later that 4:00 PM on Saturday. Each slice should be lightly perforated into twelve equal squares. With the bread prepared in this manner, the Teachers’ Quorum will be free to focus on the delicate matter of filling the sacrament cups, a process that, if done properly, requires a measuring cup and eye-dropper.

3. Administration of the Sacrament.
Once the well rested Priests have recited the prayer and broken the bread into exact squares, the Deacons may come forward to pass to the congregation. Thanks to our new Bluetooth devices, I can now assume command from my post on the stand. With my voice in their ears, the Deacons will follow their color-coded routes as illustrated on this map:

4. Dress code.
I instruct all Aaronic Priesthood holders to wear navy blue suits, black dress shoes and socks, white shirts and red ties--except for the Deacons, whose ties must match their route color. White undershirts, of course, and either boxers or briefs are fine, so long as they are white, and so long as the priesthood holder doesn’t linger while putting them on.

I pray that all will embrace these inspired changes so that the partaking of the sacrament will become the stress-free, spiritually uplifting experience it’s meant to be. Remembering always, that it’s through obedience that we become free.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Mormon History Outside Of The Manual

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Former Stake President Stan Taylor
Subject: Agnes Coolbrith

During my years as director of the LDS Institute at Grafton College, I taught church history according to the manual. Unfortunately the curriculum forced me to leave out some of the most fascinating figures of our past. For example, Agnes Coolbrith.

Agnes Moulton Coolbrith was born on July 9, 1808 in Scarborough, Cumberland, Maine. At the age of twenty-three she moved to Boston, where she and several female friends converted to Mormonism. Soon after she departed for Kirtland, Ohio to join others in her new-found faith. It was there that she met Don Carlos Smith, the younger brother of the prophet, Joseph. They fell in love and were married on July 30, 1835.

Their turbulent six year marriage was set against the backdrop of early Mormon history. The couple moved three times, from Ohio, to Missouri, to Illinois. Meanwhile, Don served missions throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. During one of his absences an angry mob turned Agnes out of their house, looted it, then burned it to the ground. In the midst of this upheaval, Don and Agnes conceived three daughters. The youngest, Josephine Donna Smith, came to be called Ina.

A devoted husband and father, Don Carlos disapproved of Joseph’s doctrine of plural marriage, and voiced opposition early on. However, witnesses claimed that on his deathbed, Don asked Joseph to take Agnes as a plural wife. Years later, Agnes denied this story. Nevertheless, after Don Carlos suddenly died in 1841, Agnes became a “spirit wife” to Joseph Smith, an act that estranged her from her beloved sister-in-law (and now sister wife) Emma Smith. Another tragedy soon followed, when in October of 1843, her oldest daughter, Sophronia, died of scarlet fever.

After Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, Agnes entered into a second polygamous marriage, this time with Don and Joseph’s cousin, George Albert Smith. Any animosity Agnes harbored toward polygamy was exacerbated during this period, as her relationship with George Albert turned cold. When he left Illinois to travel west with the Saints, Agnes made no attempt to travel with him, nor did he provide any provisions for her to follow. Years later, in a letter to her cousin, Joseph F. Smith, Ina wrote, “I think I see myself vowing to love and honor some old driveling idiot of sixty, to be taken into his harem and enjoy the pleasure of being his favorite Sultana for an hour, and then thrown aside.” Her opinion was most likely based on her mother’s experience.

It wasn’t long before Agnes abandoned her “spirit marriage” to George Albert for a legal union with William Pickett, a lapsed Mormon whose drinking problem overshadowed his intelligence. They settled in St. Louis, where Agnes gave birth to twin sons. Then in 1849, her domesticity was again interrupted when her husband became swept up in “gold fever.” William travelled to California, then asked Agnes to join him. Over time, she grudgingly agreed, only to leave him to his drink some years later. However, in 1852, she found herself crossing the dry Nevada desert with her family in a company of seventeen covered wagons.

After fording the Truckee River, they came upon the explorer, Jim Beckwourth, half dead with fever. The women in the company nursed him to health. In return he led them across his newly discovered trail over the Sierras, what is now known as the Beckwourth Pass. At Beckwourth’s invitation, Agnes agreed to let eleven-year-old Ina ride with him, and be the first child to cross the trail. When they reached the summit, Beckwourth dismounted, lifted the girl from the horse, took in the golden sun dappled valley, and declared, “There, little girl, there is California! There is your kingdom!”

From here the story belongs to Ina Donna Smith, the girl who grew up to be Ina Coolbrith, California’s first poet laureate, mentor to Jack London and Isadora Duncan, and member of the literary circle that included Mark Twain, Joaquin Miller, John Muir, Ambrose Bierce and Bret Harte. The woman who left her imprint on California history and American letters.

Church historians are eager to point out that Ina was a Mormon, and the niece of the prophet. I dislike this boastful claim. It seems disingenuous for a church to take credit for the success of its members, particularly in the case of Ina, who left her faith as a child. In my mind, Ina was not Joseph Smith's niece. Rather, she was Agnes Coolbrith's daughter.

A few weeks ago I hiked up San Francisco's Nob Hill to the corner of Taylor and Vallejo, the site of Ina Coolbrith Park. It’s flower laden path snaked down terraces high above the city. There was no noise, save for an occasional clang of a cable car. There in the quiet I took in Ina’s Kingdom: the city’s financial district, and beyond it, the bay, busy with sail boats, tugs, and massive container vessels. I wandered the park for the better part of an hour, staying even after the fog billowed in from the ocean. I thought of Agnes, whose journey began in Maine and ended at California’s Golden Gate. The spirit of her memory kept me warm.

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, we'll schedule you for nightly phone calls during the dinner hour.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

LDS Stake Single Adults

To: Abbottsville Stake Single Adults
From: Ricky and Mindy Foote, Stake Single Adults Leaders
Subject: Stake Singles' Swinging Seventies Party

Mindy and I are both humbled and thrilled to be called as the new Stake Single Adults Leaders. It is an honor to serve a group that includes so many near and dear, such as, my former seminary teacher, Mindy's old high school principal, Sister Post who helped me earn my Duty to Country badge,and, of course, Mom. As newlyweds, Mindy and I are hot off the singles' scene ourselves, and, to put it in your lingo, we know where you're at. Or as someone once said -- Ben Franklin? Brigham Young? -- I'll have to look it up. Anyhow, "we feel your pain."

So dust off your platform shoes and powder blue tuxedos, and truck on down to the stake center for some seriously gnarly mixing and mingling. Should be heavy.

The following standards will be strictly enforced:

No immodest dress. This includes pierced ears, facial hair or sideburns, and t-shirts advertising tobacco, porn, or caffeinated soft drinks. For more information, click here.

Admission only upon presentation of a current temple recommend or completion of the Official Worthiness Questionnaire.

No loitering. The halls, kitchen, auxiliary areas and bathrooms will be monitored by CCTV.

Doors will be locked at 8:00 PM, no re-entrance allowed.

The DJ's track list has been pre-approved by the stake presidency. No requests other than Janice Kapp Perry, the Osmonds, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Participation in the Funky Chicken Soul Train Line is mandatory.

We will adjourn at 11:00 PM sharp, so everyone's home before curfew. Don't forget to call your home teacher when you get there.

Be there or be square, boys and girls. The Captain and Tennille are expecting you!

Dig this:

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails we will send you a copy of Bishop Z's "Hands Off: Tips on Avoiding Masturbation"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mother's Visit

To: Donna Banta
From: Mark Crawford
Subject: Mother's visit

Dear Donna,

Most of the week went fine. Mother seems to have  come to terms with the fact that I'm no longer Mormon and that I live with a man. (Although she still asks where Byron sleeps, and when I tell her she still smiles, shakes her head and says, "Oh p-shaw!") We did the usual. San Francisco, Carmel. In the evenings Mother filled me in on the family in Salt Lake City and taught Byron how to cook "Utah Style." (Believe me, Donna, the man's a saint, and I don't mean the "latter-day" kind.)

On Sunday Byron and I planned to drop Mother off at church, go for brunch, then pick her up after. We made a slight detour to collect her friend, Sister Hickey, who is no longer able to drive. We parked and escorted the elderly sister into the building, as it took three people to manage her walker, oxygen tank, scriptures, and bag of medications.

Once she and Mother were safe in their pew, Byron and I raced for the door, only to be confronted by Bishop Zimmerman and a young member of the Aaronic Priesthood. The bishop's tie was askew and his lapels were covered in Post-it notes. He answered e-mail on his Blackberry as he spoke. "Mark! Thank goodness you're here! I need you to run to the store for the sacrament bread. Give the loaves to Dallin here when you get back." He pressed a wad of cash into my palm and disappeared. I looked down at Dallin. He was in desperate need of a bar of soap. "Listen kid," I said, "why don't you run to the Safeway on the corner and get the bread?" "I can't," he replied. "Why not?" I asked. "Because it's a sin." As the ward's token reprobate, I was the only candidate capable of breaking the Sabbath to provide the Abbottsville "saints" (including my mother) with their holy communion.

After Byron and I delivered the bread to Dallin, our exit was again hampered, this time by a commotion in the foyer. Bishop Zimmerman blocked our path, panting. One of the Post-its had attached itself to his earlobe. I tactfully returned it to his lapel. "Mark! Thank goodness you're back! Sister Turley's water just broke. I need you to sit with their kids during Sacrament Meeting while Brother Turley takes her to the hospital." Mother moved into my range of vision, her eyes imploring. "It's only an hour," said Byron. "We'll still have time for brunch." (As I said, the man's a saint.)

The Turley brood, a foursome ranging from age two through eight, sat on the second row from the front. While former Stake President Taylor waxed sentimental about his genealogy, Byron engaged the twin girls in what he thought would be a game of cat's cradle, but looked more like the bondage scenario in a DVD we recently rented. I might have been turned on, if I hadn't been so intent on dislodging the Cheerio one of the Turley brats stuffed in my ear.

Needless to say, we wasted no time ferrying the kids to Primary. We handed off the two year old to a wild-eyed nursery leader. "I need more help!" she cried, and grabbed Byron as well. I vowed to rescue him after I unloaded the other three, but upon entering the Primary room, Sister Zimmerman called out, "Mark! Thank goodness you're here! Sister Turley was supposed to play the piano, only now she's in labor. Will you fill in?" "Um, OK. Where's the music?" "I don't know. Can't you just wing it?" Sure I could wing it. I wing it all the time for my music students at Grafton College, but the Primary Songbook was not part of my repertoire. I fell back on The Eensy Weensy Spider, Puff the Magic Dragon, and Hey Jude.

After the better part of an hour I announced, "Any more singing will have to be done a capella." Sister Zimmerman thanked me, then asked, "On your way out would you mind tending to little Missy Skousen? She needs to pee." I drew a breath. "All right, I'll fetch her mother." "She just passed out from morning sickness." I refused to be rattled. "Fine, I'll find her father." "He's in the Elders' Quorum." Missy and I walked hand in hand to the Elders' classroom where we were greeted by a chorus of, "Mark! Thank goodness you're here!"

Some forty-five minutes later, I left the Elders, confident I had taught one of the best lessons of the year. (Good thing Brother Harold had that deck of cards.) Saint Byron waited for me in the foyer, head to toe in glitter. We loaded Mother, Sister Hickey and the portable ER into the car. Then as we left the church parking lot, Sister Hickey took a long pull on her oxygen tank, and wheezed, "Where are we going for brunch?"

I'll close for now, as Saint Byron is heading to the bar with our martini pitcher. God knows I need one.


P.S. Do you know how to get off the Fourth Ward mailing list?