Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Conversations with David O. McKay - Part I

Posted: 23 July 20914
Updated: 1 Oct 14
David O. McKay

22 July 2014
ENK: Hi brother David, I think we need to talk.

DOM: Yes brother Eugene, it would seem so. What’s on your mind?

ENK: Repair work, David. I hope you don’t mind that I call you David, rather the Pres. McKay.

DOM: Not at all. I wish I were on such terms with others these times. It was burdensome having to play the role of president and prophet.

ENK: I can only imagine! So, yes, repair work. Do you remember when we first met and what you said to me?

DOM: Please refresh my memory. Weren't we in Laguna Beach, where I had a summer home?

ENK: Yes, we met in the Laguna Beach ward, when you came for a visit. Bishop Ferren L. Christensen, who was the caretaker of your house, introduced us after the sacrament meeting by saying “President McKay, this is the young man I've been telling you about who speaks Russian."

DOM: Yes, I dimly remember saying something to you about the Russian mission.

ENK: I’ll never forget that meeting, David. You took my right hand in both of yours and stood there in all your ecclesiastical presence and closed your eyes. I was moved by this, especially as you stood there silently nodding your head. After what seemed like an uncomfortable amount of time you eventually opened your eyes, looked straight into mine and said, “This is good. Keep it up. I have a strong feeling that that mission is about to open. Maybe we can use you?”  Do you remember saying that?

DOM: It sounds like something I could have said.

ENK: Well, what I think you didn't know at the time was that I’d only a week or two earlier decided to quit the Church and had come to tell Ferren to let me alone. But what I couldn't tell Ferren was that I had a military secret that I couldn't share for 20 years, having returned from a clandestine assignment in Berlin the previous year. This assignment had put me into direct, secret contact with the highest Soviet military levels, such as Andrei Grechko, commander of Soviet Forces in East Germany. Years later Grechko would become Khrushchev’s defense minister.

DOM: No, I certainly knew no such thing! Why had you decided to leave the Church?

ENK: I didn't think the Church had the truth and had decided to look elsewhere for it. I was also very angry with what I felt was a betrayal by the CIA, who had recruited me from the US Army in Berlin, only to dismiss me shortly after I reported for duty at its Washington, D.C.  HQS after separating from the army. I could share none of this with Bishop Christensen.

DOM: That must have been a great burden!

ENK: Yes, sir, it was. What made matters worse was that I could not share such an experience with my then wife. In fact, I couldn't even tell her that I couldn't tell her. As far as she knew I was simply an Army clerk typist.

DOM: I think I understand a little, dear brother. So, what happened that changed your mind about the church that Bishop Christensen wanted us to meet?

ENK: When I told him I didn't think the truth was in the Church, he forcefully challenged that statement.

DOM: How did he do this?

ENK: He said, “Well, brother, the truth may not be here, but you don’t know it. Tell me, have you ever read the Bible?”  I had to confess I hadn't.

 “The Book of Mormon?” Again I confessed no.

“The Doctrine and Covenants?”  No.

“The Pearl of Great Price”?  Finally I could answer yes [small book].

Then he declared, “Well, I don’t need to go further, brother. You haven’t done first thing necessary to find out if we have the truth. You are the biggest hypocrite I have ever met!” 

DOM: That’s quite a challenge!

ENK: Yes, David, he cold cocked me! And he was correct. But I then made a silent vow: no one would ever say such a thing to me again and tell the truth. I decided on the spot to become completely active, believing that such committed activity would not work. This then would allow me to walk away from the Church in good conscience.

DOM: And so it was under those circumstances that we were introduced?

ENK: Yes.

DOM: So, what finally happened?

ENK: That’s what I want to discuss with you now. That’s what I am calling “repair work”.

DOM: I am interested to know your story.

ENK: Thank you. There have been very few Mormon ecclesiastics who have ever been interested in my story. The most important (besides you now) was Ferren Christensen, who introduced us in 1957 and who eventually became stake president in 1968 through 1975 and then even later as a regional representative in the early 1990s. Our last conversation was in 2007, shortly before he died. In that last telephone conversation he asked me a surprising question. "What do you think of the ecclesiastical system these days?" That was surprising because I'd never given it much thought. It was also surprising that he would ask the question. However, my understanding of why he asked that question soon began to dawn on me, but by then he was gone.   There was an old bishop in summer 1965, which I will also tell you about later.  His name was Reed C. Durham, Sr. He was my bishop when I lived and worked in San Diego in 1963-65.

DOM: Do continue.

23 July 2014 11:00 AM
ENK: It seems to me (because of my recent dream of July 13) that my “inner compass” (aka ‘personal liahona’) is pointing me to a local man, whom I have dreamed about before, but with whom I have had a ‘crumbling’ connection. I’m thinking of George J. of the Los Alamos Ward. I’m trying to distinguish between the "outer" George and the "inner" George. We have scheduled a meeting this afternoon at the Film Festival to address this issue. I hope it is the beginning of an effective and functional repair of my inner ‘crumbling sidewalk’.  

DOM: That is most interesting! I am eager to learn how this first step develops and where it will lead.

ENK: Thank you, David. I will most certainly keep you informed!

To be continued with Part 2...

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