Robert Kirby has the day off. This is a reprint of an earlier column.
Got a call from the ward's executive secretary a few nights ago. The bishop wanted to see me.
For Mormons, a summons from the bishop rates about a six on the Stress-o-Meter, just below tithing settlement and right above showing up in church without any pants.
It isn't so worrisome in most other faiths. The pastor/priest/rabbi/chief just taps you on the shoulder for a chat. In extreme cases, what follows is being tossed in a volcano or pitched down a well.
In general, however, being contacted by your leaders is more laid back. Not so with Mormons. When the bishop calls, either he wants you to do something or you already have.
When I asked why, Jon said he didn't know. He was, of course, lying and I said so. I've been the executive secretary. I know.
Him: "OK, I do know. But I can't tell you.''
Me: "That's better. No point starting out my first calling in a new ward with a fib.''
I figured that's what it was. Not only has it been at least a year since I did anything bad enough to warrant a chewing out, it's also been more than a year since we moved in. Time enough for a church job.
Theoretically, it could be anything another mission, a demand for all my worldly goods, even a position of enormous responsibility that involves reading from a teleprompter twice a year. Laugh if you will. God has moved in stranger ways.
If I had to guess and I did I figured that it was some lesser form of servitude befitting a person of limited spiritual stature. Gospel trolls don't get called on missions. Anymore.
Although Mormons are big on personal agency, the rules say that I am not supposed to refuse a church calling. I am expected to cooperate until at some point the person doing the calling decides otherwise, including long after my life is a mess.
What I am expected to do is offer counter-advice, as in, ''Would this call require that I stop mainlining heroin?'' which then gives leaders (and the Lord) pause to reconsider.
Among the orthodox, church calls are a matter of inspiration and therefore saying no straight out to church leaders is like saying no to the Lord. And I'm OK with that up to the part where I'm inspired in the opposite direction.
I figure that if the Lord wants me to do something, and it's important enough to warrant a call, he will include me in the loop. I'm not that hard to find.
On Wednesday, I went down to the bishop's office to see what the Lord wanted with my spare time. If you were holding your breath, don't. I'm the new ward assistant building coordinator/drudge.
Also, I'm in charge of the ward's annual Red Cross blood drives. As I was told, it's an ''awesome responsibility.'' And given that I can't let anyone in the ward with a sexually transmitted disease give blood, I suppose it is.
With my new calling and power, it's going to be amazing just how many people in the ward the Lord wants stabbed with a needle.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org orfacebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.