Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ironic parallels with Paul Toscano

Posted: 7 December 2013 (Pearl Harbor Day)
Updated:  9 Dec 13

I had intended to post comments to my earlier post about Paul, but it soon became too complicated. So, here's a sequel:

Conversion of Paul

What struck me first (at ~20% into the Kindle version of Paul's e-book memoir) about the irony of our respective personal stories as fellow Mormon excommunicants, was Paul's reference to having received his "temple endowments" on July 17, 1965, because on that very date I had a life-changing epiphany.

Driving north from San Diego since early that July morning on California Highway 99, I was on an urgent errand, probably about the time Paul was moving from room to room in the Los Angeles Mormon temple, gaining new cultural experience and insights.

The second irony (at ~22%) was Paul's description of his pre-mission encounter with Apostle Harold B. Lee in October 1966 to discuss what for Paul was a critical theological question about Brigham Young's controversial Adam-God teaching. I had had two encounters with Apostle Lee just the year before, first in a May Day dream in 1965, where he was speaking as the Church President although in outer reality he was still down the line in seniority. The second encounter was in the flesh the following September at his Church offices. Lee's behavior toward me was similar to his behavior toward Paul (and in my dream!). As soon as I entered his office on that September 1965 day, Lee began by issuing orders before I'd even said a word. There had been no greeting, no handshake, not even a hint of kindness.

I had written him a letter a couple of months earlier seeking counsel on the issue of  "The Principle" or polygamy, where I naively disclosed a personal dilemma about it. He now declared that the Church had "repudiated" (his word) that practice. Although surprised and puzzled by his belligerent behavior, I told him at the time that I would obey his orders because I was committed to the order of the priesthood, but not because I believed him. To this he bellowed, "You'd BETTER believe it!...It's all of the Devil!" (Again, this was the attitude presented in my May Day dream four months earlier, which had somewhat prepared me for this encounter).

To be fair, as soon as Lee had delivered his threatening command, he abruptly changed his demeanor to a soft inquiry about Howard E. Salisbury, the man who had precipitated my above-mentioned urgent errand and whom I had also mentioned in my August letter. Having been an intimate friend of Lee's when Salisbury was a legendary faculty member of Rick's College, Salisbury had once been groomed by Lee to become a general authority. But then tragically he had been excommunicated and forced to resign his position at Rick's two years earlier in 1963 by Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency (another close confident of Howard's) when it was discovered that Howard was gay.

"How is Howard?", Lee asked softly.

"He's having a hard time", I replied.

"You know, our intention is to save souls, not destroy them," Lee said simply and ended the meeting without further discussion of that or my issue.

To be continued as I continue reading Paul's story....

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