I was willing to concede the point. After all, a good boy would never have brought a lizard to church. Even a bad one would have thought twice before using it to clear a restroom of several screaming girls and Sister Cheeser.
Waiting for my mom, I stewed in my evilness. Suddenly, it occurred to me, "Hey, how come I'm still alive?"
It countered everything I'd been taught in church. Lots of people had been evil — Nephites, Pharaoh's army, Sodom & Gomorrah, various apostates — and God had fixed them but good. So, why was I still breathing?
There were only two possible explanations. First, that I wasn't evil. Yeah, I laughed out loud at that one, too. I mean, really.
Second, that the consequences of evil behavior didn't work exactly the way I'd been taught in church. This seemed far more likely.
Just to be sure, I decided to put it to the test. I ditched the chair and went to Dandy Don's Market where I shoplifted some Jujubes, a root beer, and a box of Brillo pads. I didn't need or even want the pads. I was only trying to provoke a reaction.
Here's what happened: Nothing. I didn't even get whacked for not being at Primary. Mom forgot to come and get me, and so the old man didn't find out. Despite everything, I actually ended up ahead.
Doubt never completely left me after that. When I heard stuff in church or anywhere else, I stopped thinking, "Wow!" and started thinking, "Maybe, or maybe not."
I told myself that if I was going to hell, I'd rather it was for something I thought than for what someone else wanted me to think.
Thus began a life of thinking for myself. Overall, it worked out less well than I would have liked. I'm not very bright. I've thought myself stupid a lot. You can ask my wife.
Today, I reserve plenty of doubt for myself. When I start thinking something is a great idea, I tell myself, "Maybe, or maybe not."
Robert Kirby can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.