The Novels

Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island?

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Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sociology 500, a Novel, ch 3 pt 3 -- Explaining a Little about the Temple

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The next week, Karel and Bobbie were waiting in the Anthropology department office, to talk with their professors. While they were waiting, they were talking about their recent visit to the temple.

Melissa Burns was not really eavesdropping, but she couldn't help overhearing them. She asked, "So you two went to the temple together last week?"

"Oh, yeah." Bobbie replied. "With some other friends of ours."

"You weren't getting married?" She seemed disappointed.

"Huh?" Karel's face showed surprise.

"N-no." Bobbie forced a laugh. "We just went for a visit."

"Did someone get married?"

Karel said, "No, we went to do some proxy work."

Bobbie gave Karel a meaningful look, but Karel didn't immediately read her meaning.



Whether one speaks too seriously or too casually about the temple, there tend to be misunderstandings. And what is too serious in one context is too casual in another. So one should generally tend to avoid talking about the temple, except in the temple.

So, perhaps I'm talking too much.



"Do you mind if I ask, what's proxy work, and how do you do it?"

Karel was again surprised, but now he understood. He hadn't realized until now that Melissa Burns was not an E-P-ist.

Bobbie asked, "You know about baptism?"

"My husband keeps asking me when I'm going to listen to the missionaries and get baptized."

Karel was concerned, "I hope he isn't pressuring you, ..."

"Well, yes, I do feel pressure about it."

Bobbie said, "That's too bad."

"It's my own fault. I should have asked more questions about the Church before we got married."

Karel tried to sympathize. "I wouldn't necessarily blame myself or anyone. Falling in love does make people feel adventurous."

"Thanks, I guess." Melissa Burns was not sure that she really meant the thanks. But she asked again, "So what is this proxy thing? Winn tried to explain it to me once, but I couldn't really follow his explanations."

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other, non-verbally negotiating who would start.

Bobbie won. "Baptism is a covenant. It's a promise to God."

"I think I can understand that. We have baptisms in my church, too. But proxy? For dead people?"

"Well, for people who didn't have a chance to make that promise while they were alive."

"So what exactly is the promise?"

Karel took a turn. "It's simply a promise to believe in God and Jesus, and to follow Jesus' teachings."

Bobbie added "And it's an assertion of faith."

Melissa asked, "Well, I was baptized when I was a baby. Does that count?"

Karel asked, "Was it an assertion of faith for you?"

"I've always felt that I accepted it. And when I was a teenager, I took the catechism."

Bobbie nodded. "Okay, that's more promises, isn't it?"

"Promises and learning."

"I think that saying it doesn't count would be missing something important." Karel thought for a moment and added, almost randomly, "But it wouldn't really get you ready to attend the temple."

"That's probably true, since we don't have temples, but why do you say so?"

Karel said, "Well, when we get baptized, we make a promise that allows God to teach us more than if we never got baptized." The logic was going to be thin, but that was what had come to mind.

"More? What more is there?"

"What promises have you made to God?" Bobbie asked.

"You want me to recite the entire catechism?"

"Is it long?"

"It would take maybe twenty minutes, if I can remember it all."

"What are the main points?" Karel asked.

Melissa thought about that. "Have faith in Jesus," she began with some confidence. "Do good things rather than bad. Help others when I can." She become a bit more hesitant. "Go to church. The Ten Commandments. That sort of thing."

"Well, sure. We believe those things, too, of course." Bobbie paused and thought. Then she suggested, "What about repentance?"

"Well, vows of penitence are usually for people who have done something especially bad."

Karel commented. "For us, repentance is for all the things that we do that aren't quite right, not just the really bad things we do."

"But you guys always look so happy. When do you do the penitence?"

Bobbie said, "It makes us happy to be able to quit doing bad things and do good things, instead."

Karel added, "Repentance is not really just penitence."

Bobbie decided it would be quicker to explain the E-P-ist position. "For us, the covenant of baptism is simple. We promise to have faith in Jesus Christ, and to repent of our sins. We promise to obey the commandments Jesus gives us."

"The Ten Commandments? Did Jesus give those?"

In their world, yes, there was a prophet similar to Moses, before the time of Jesus' ministry, who received the Ten Commandments in circumstances similar to when Moses received them for the people of Israel. You would find his name a little hard to pronounce, I think.

Bobbie said, "Well, more than the Ten Commandments. The Beatitudes, and the further direction we get through the Holy Spirit."

"So how many commandments are there?"

And Karel responded, "That's what we mean by God teaching us more. He gives us the further commandments that we need, through the Holy Spirit, but not all at once. He gives them to us when we need them."

"Does that mean there's no official catechism?"

Karel said, "I guess that's right. We have Sunday School manuals and the like, but we don't have a specific catechism."

And Bobbie added, "We each learn what we need as we go, so to speak. It's a lifetime process."

"How do you know what to believe?"

Karel answered: "Study the scriptures, pray, attend church. When we do what God tells us to do, He teaches us what the next step is."

"But, how do you know that, at some point, at the next step, God doesn't turn into a soul-eating monster?"

"That would not be God, would it?" Karel responded.

"Of course not."

Bobbie explained. "We can always return to the basics to figure things out when we get confused. God wants us to be happy."

"Ah hah! How do you know that God wants you to be happy?"

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other and laughed a quiet laugh.

"Indeed, indeed," said Karel.

"Experience!" asserted Bobbie, "Repentance is so that we can quit doing the things that make us unhappy."

"There it is again. Do you really mean that repentance is not all about suffering?"

Karel explained a bit more: "Well, repenting of some sins does require us to suffer, or to pay at least a part of the price of what we did, in addition to turning to Jesus for the atonement and redemption. But the purpose of repentance is that we can leave the sin behind and move forward. And Jesus teaches us how to do that. And it makes us happy."

"Okay, okay, so we aren't all that far apart, so far. What are some examples of these 'more things' that God teaches you?"

Bobbie said, "I was reading in," and the chapter and verse she named were in the Book of E-P, of course, but it was similar to Mosiah 18 around verse 8, in the Book of Mormon. Similar verses can be found in both their Bible and ours, as well. "It talks about mourning with those who mourn, and rejoicing with those who rejoice, helping each other with burdens, standing as a witness for God, those kinds of things. And the beatitudes. Those are so important that the Savior repeated them when He visited this continent. So they are in the Book of E-P, too. We can read them, but it takes a long time to learn to follow them."

"It sounds like you're taking a rather different approach from me, but maybe the things we believe in aren't so different, after all."

Karel said, "I think that's a good way of looking at it."

"So, what is this proxy thing?"

Karel answered, "Many people die without being able to be baptized. Baptism is one of the things we can do in their place."

"Do you put on a mask of the dead person's face or something?"

And Bobbie answered, "No. We just remember the person's name, and the person performing the baptism says it is for that person."

"And then they are saved. Whether they want to be or not."

Bobbie grinned. "Of course not." Then grew serious. "But they can choose to accept it, just like they'd done it for themselves when they were alive."

"They can choose to accept it. So you really believe in life after death?"

"Yes."

"Okay. But there's more than just baptism. Winn mentioned it. I think he called it an endowment."

"That's another ordinance."

"Ordinance?"

"Ordained ceremony, maybe?" Karel suggested

"What is it?"

"More instruction," said Karel. "But it's easy to misunderstand, so we leave the world behind and go into the temple to receive it."

"It's very peaceful in the temple," Bobbie explained. "You can feel really close to God." 

Melissa's attention was drawn to the door, where Professors White and MacVittie were standing patiently, listening. "Oh, dear. I think I've kept you from your appointments."

"Not at all!" said Professor White.

"I'd better not keep you any more," she said.

Professor MacVittie shook his head. "It sounds like you're having a nice little chat."

Bobbie said, "We can definitely talk about this later."

Professor White said, "And we can have our little chat later, too. We can wait."

Melissa said, "No, that's okay. It's time for me to get back to work."

Professor MacVittie said, "Well, if you think so."

And she nodded.

Bobbie said, "We'll talk again, okay?"

"I think I'd like that."

"Well, it appears that we have interrupted," Professor MacVittie said, somewhat apologetically. You two are both here," he suggested, "let's all talk together in my office."

Professor White concurred, and the four of them went to Professor MacVittie's office, where they discussed Bobbie and Karel's progress towards becoming PhD candidates.




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[The original of chapter 3 part 3 can be found in chapter five of the first draft: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch05-first-semester.html.]

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