Alma: Chapter 5.


To Zarahemla Alma went to bear his testimony.

Reminding all of their divine and righteous patrimony.

He spoke of chains unlinking and of hearts burst into bloom,

Of garments washed in sacred blood to wipe away sure doom.


He warned of pride and envy, twin devices of the devil –

Who wants to bring all mankind down to his own sorry level.

Mocking others for their humble lives and steadfast living

He explained would not persuade their God to be forgiving.


Alma saw the future, and the past, as prophets do;

He testified a Savior the whole world would have to view.

Whether they accepted him or turned their back in scorn

Decided if they were to die or rise as newly born.




The Phony Fig Tree. (Based on Mathew, Chapter 21.)


Mathew.  Chapter 21.
Dickens had his Pecksniff, that old hypocrite supreme.
Bizness had its Enron, which was just a Ponzi scheme.
It’s enough to make a saint or sinner start to tremble,
The way that this old world is full of people who dissemble.
Although I doubt the Savior ever fell for any trap,
One day for a fresh fig he seems to have really set his cap.
He came upon the verdant green of fig tree, but was grieved
To find the tree was lacking any fruit, though fully leaved.
He cursed it, and it withered, to the marvel of his friends,
Who wondered that he gave it not a chance to make amends.
Our gentle Lord, to make a point, could really be quite hard;
He left that tree for ev’ryone to see how things are marred
When outward show veils inward rot, when no fruit is produced,
And faith and hope and charity by art are so reduced.
Oh you who are so tall and green, so boastful of your shade,
If you do not bear fruit betimes – beware the Lord’s sharp spade!

Compassion. A Brief Essay.


As an LDS missionary in Thailand nearly forty years ago, I tried to be conscientious and hard-working.  The enervating, all-consuming heat, and the constant struggle with persnickety bowels, made steady application nearly impossible; but I soldiered on, taking a Pharisee’s pride in my sufferings and sacrifice.

One blazing afternoon my companion and I were tracting out a large apartment building in Bangkok, going door to door, trying to find people at home we could talk to.  I knew that our Mission President, Harvey Brown, and his wife, lived in that apartment building, and that Sister Brown would be home at that time of day.  Likely we could knock on their door, be invited in, and have a cool class of lemonade.

But I was not in the mood for a pleasant visit; I wanted to butt heads with an obstinate Thai Buddhist, show them how utterly wrong and unsaved they were.  That was our duty, and duty took precedence over all else.  So we didn’t stop by, and didn’t get any lemonade, and I’m pretty sure we never got into anyone’s apartment that day.

The next day we were at the Mission Office and I happened to tell President Brown, with unbecoming pride, that we had been tracting in his apartment building and had not stopped by to say hello to Sister Brown.  His beetling brows told me this was not something he liked to hear, so I hastened to add that we felt we needed to be about the Lord’s business, not socializing.

His pudgy, pug-nosed face took on a sad, disheartened look as he said “She would have appreciated the visit, Elder Torkildson; she gets lonely up there, all alone most of the day, not speaking a word of Thai.  A visit might have made her feel better.”

Had he hauled off and sucker punched me, he could not have left me feeling worse.

There is no follow-up to this brief tale.  I never again had the chance to go into that apartment building, and what was there to say to Sister Brown – that I was sorry for not stopping by, when she didn’t even know we were in her apartment building?  That would have only made things worse.

I had ignored the chance to be kind to someone, had missed the opportunity to show some slight compassion.  And I have never forgotten how little and mean that made me feel.  Not at all like an ordained representative of the Savior.

Since then I’ve tried to be sensitive to the stirrings of compassion, and I have also felt the keen sting when others, whom I thought had compassion towards me, have passed me by in my lonely apartment, too busy with “duty” and “responsibility”, or perhaps just plain uncaring about how bleak things can get for each one of us.

The older I get the more I want to embrace Mercy and Compassion, and leave Justice and Duty to take care of themselves.