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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stay Optimistic & Avoid Negative Thoughts

     My Father, Irving E. Andersen, was a cockeyed optimist.  He admonished all seven children to adopt his attitudes toward being optimistic and happy.  He would show up at church singing happy songs, like "Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel" and "Today, While The Sun Shines".  I observed him walk up to someone and with the enthusiasm of everything he could muster, say how much he appreciates knowing him/her.  Saying anything negative was not in his character -- even when it was appropriate. 

     In matters of criticizing church leaders or Church policy, he had little use for those who look at negative things to talk about.  In his mind, the (LDS) Church was "true" and there was no place in which to fit criticism.  If the Church hid their money, or gave no accounting as to what they did with it, it was simply none of our business.  Similarly, those who were in authority positions could generally do no wrong in his eyes. 

    This got him into trouble more than once when this trust was extended to people who mis-used it.  One company that Dad worked for  while I was a teenager, was led by many active LDS businessmen.  They told Dad what to say to sell stock in their company and Dad did as instructed.  Soon, however, it was found to be a fraud and Dad was indicted along with others in the company for selling fraudulent securities.  His temple recommend was revoked till the matter could be resolved [which is why Dad was not allowed to attend my wedding in 1966]. 

     Discussion in our home about the abysmal civil rights record of the LDS church was just negativism and in Dad's mind there were better and more uplifting things to talk about.  The church officially taught that "colored" people brought it on themselves anyway because of their not being as valiant in the "pre-existence" as whites were.  It said so right in the scriptures and in the Book of Mormon.  So most civil rights agitation was explained away as being cause by the blacks and by the Communist leaders that they tended to follow.

     While on my mission in Pennsylvania in 1964-65, I invited a black couple to come to church to worship.  When I told the Bishop about it, he grew agitated and ordered us to locate the couple and "un-invite" them, as he knew that half the congregation would get up and walk out in protest.  I did what I was instructed, but I have been embarrassed by that all my life.

     When the "revelation" was announced by the Church that, in essence, said that the teachings of inferiority of blacks was wrong and was no longer an eternal teaching of the church, I was initially happy, but have come to believe over the years that the initial teaching was simply racism in the first place.  It is simply too convenient to preach one thing one day and then rescind it the next without a VERY good explanation -- which never came from the LDS church leaders.

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