Despite efforts to stereotype Latter-day Saints, they come in wide varieties. I’m just one particular version. In fact, I might be the only one of my kind.
Nothing drives this home more than comparing myself to other Latter-day Saints who go on about whatever special relationship they have with God.
Most notably is how they identify spiritual promptings and confirmations apart from the natural process of day or night dreaming. Or evil thinking.
Case in point is the recent statement by the wife of Latter-day Saint prophet Russell M. Nelson regarding how the Lord speaks to him.
“My husband will say during the night, ‘OK, Dear, it’s happening,’” she said. “I just remain quiet and then soon he’s sitting up at the side of the bed writing, now with a lighted pen that someone gave him.”
If I were a prophet, and someone interviewed my wife about how I received instruction from God, it would be considerably different.
“He snores. Sometimes I have to put my feet on him and shove him onto the floor to get him to stop. You should hear what he’s inspired to say when that happens. It may be a revelation, but it isn’t from God.”
And herein lies the problem. If you believe it’s possible to receive spiritual revelation, how can you tell whether it’s from God or the devil?
It seems a fair question, given that being influenced by the devil is thought to be just as likely as being influenced by God, particularly since it’s supposed to be somewhat of a fair fight for our souls.
Would you be able to tell the difference? Hmm? Sure about that?
Hey, we ended up with thousands of different churches because other people thought they were just as sure. If it were so easy to tell the difference, then wouldn’t there only be one or two churches at best?
I’m something of an expert when it comes to discerning between good and evil. For starters, good wouldn’t be waking me up in the middle of the damn night with a message that could just as easily wait until morning.
The Lord would want me to get a decent night’s sleep so I’d have the strength to fight off misbehaving during the day.
Satan is exactly the sort of bum who would wake me up in the middle of the night to muddle my head and make me cranky in the morning.
Evil is also fun, and by that I mean downright hilarious at times. It can make you feel fantastic. Anyone who says it can’t has never given it a decent shot.
Good, more often than not, entails a lot of sacrifice, pioneer struggle, slow death, disease, constant threats of punishment, and commandments that make no sense.
Proof is the utter lack of intentional humor in holy books, which by and large are more apt to be filled with tales of pain and misery as necessary adjuncts of becoming closer to God.
So next time you feel inspired to choose a course of action, it’s best to double check. If it’s at all fun or relaxing, you may be listening to the wrong voice.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.