Okay, the title of this post is a bit of a cheat, but it's all I could think of right now. If you're expecting me to relate an experience of having died and gone to heaven, I apologize; I've got nothing for you. I only came near death, okay? I didn't actually all-the-way die. Not even temporarily. So sorry about that.
Anyway, here's what did happen:
As many of you are aware, I was hospitalized with a serious case of pneumonia at the end of January, which explains my absence from this forum all of February. I was actually quite surprised when I was hurriedly admitted, because I thought they only put elderly people in the hospital for pneumonia. Then again, I just turned 63 the month before that, so I guess I suddenly qualify as old. That's what my daughter says, anyway.
Sometime later my regular doctor, who had seen the hospital report, informed me that apparently I had come very close to dying and might not have made it had I not been hospitalized when I was. This news was actually of some comfort to me. I had certainly felt like I was dying, but assumed that was just me being melodramatic in a "woe is me" kind of way. So it was somewhat satisfying to have the diagnosis confirmed by a professional. I wasn't just feeling sorry for myself, see? I was actually on my honest-to-goodness deathbed prepared to breathe my last shallow breath at any moment. So take that, naysayers.
|Agnes Moorehead is my patron saint.|
And Should We Die Before Our Journal's Through
What eventually brought me back from the brink was the knowledge that so many of you were pulling for me. Although I was too weak myself to sit at my computer and read, my daughter informed me that over 200 people had offered prayers and support on my Facebook wall. All that love finally broke through and God began to help me recover. I literally owe my life to you good people for your prayers, love, and good wishes. I can't begin to thank you, and to express how overwhelming it was to know I have so many good friends who love me without having ever met me.
Many of you expressed such kind sentiments that you deserve a personal reply, and although I have not yet managed to follow up personally, please know I have read every one of your expressions of support. The medication I remain on makes my hands shake like palsy, so it isn't easy to type for very long. (You wouldn't believe the many errors I've had to correct on this post so far!) Please know I'm overwhelmed by your love for me and Connie and we both thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
A couple of readers even suggested that I'd better not die because some who don't like me would see it as a sign God had struck me down to stop me from blogging. That motivated me to get better, I'll tell you what. I still have a few topics left I want to address here, and contrary to what some may hope, the spirit has informed me that if God is displeased with me, it's over stuff that has nothing to do with this blog. Anyone who thinks God is annoyed with my repeated assertions on this blog that we ought to obey Him rather than men might wish to rethink their own assumptions before gloating over my imminent demise. This journal will continue to preach pure Mormonism while rejecting the counterfeit rampant among many today. Okay?
Okay. 'Nuff said.
Some of you wrote in to recommend various natural treatments, and I am grateful for your advice. I wish it known that I am a regular user of herbal teas and tinctures, and that during my convalescence I faithfully drank teas made from various herbs known for healing, soothing, and repairing the lungs, as well as some powerful tinctures I try to keep on hand. What baffled me is that this time around none of these proven remedies was having any effect on my illness.
Also, because of my chronic asthma, I have the same type of nebulizer machine at home that I was treated with in the hospital, but for some reason this time it, too, was having virtually no effect. The liquid medications I inhale using this nebulizer form a mist that normally penetrates the bronchial tubes and provides some relief, but this time there was almost no difference during or after a treatment. I could only wait this thing out for weeks while I struggled with every breath, until finally the massive doses of antibiotics and corticosteroids eventually killed the stubborn virus that had attached itself deep inside my lungs.
Because I believe thoughts are things, and therefore the things we think about tend to manifest in our lives, I don't wish to dwell on the details of my recent discomfort because I don't wish to call forth anything like what I just went through ever again. Even when I could tell I was no longer in the grasp of death, the discomfort was still so intense that I feared I might have to live the rest of my life slowly shuffling around while gasping for breath. That kind of thinking probably prolonged the sickness. To tell you the truth, I wasn't planning on blogging about this at all, but so many friends keep asking about it that I thought the best way would be to touch on the subject here before I continue with some of the topics I'd been planning to write about.
So this will be my shortest blog post ever because that little adventure is in the past, and besides, who wants to hear about someone else's misery, right? But I do want to add that I could never have pulled through without my wonderful daughter Amy, who rushed over to look after her mother while I was in the hospital, and took care of both of us after I came home. Connie, as many of you know, is semi-invalid and depends upon me to care for her, so Amy's attendance here was crucial.
Since Amy no longer has a car, she had to walk two miles in the opposite direction from us just to catch a bus that took her even further in the other direction, then make two transfers to get turned around and dropped off near our apartment. Often she would stay several nights, sleeping on our floor in the hall, but there were times she had to get back home for a short spell, only to make that long trek back to us again because we were both nearly helpless without her. Amy deserves our eternal gratitude for her service, so I wanted to state that publicly. She was a handful as a teenager, but has now more than redeemed herself for eternities to come as far as I'm concerned. Connie's Birthday came and went during this time, as did Valentine's day. Since I could barely breathe, let alone speak, I lay in bed next to my wife and celebrated both those occasions by reaching over and giving her hand a loving squeeze. It was pretty much all I could do.
|This is a recent photo taken of me on my deathbed. When I really do go, I'm gonna miss that bedroom.|
Okay, I just said this will be my shortest blog post ever, and it is, if you don't count these announcements. But there are a few things I wish to touch on before I go.
The Nature of God
So although Toscano provides us an introduction to some powerful yet forgotten doctrines, I believe they can only be truly understood through the power of the spirit. So read what Paul Toscano has to say, then seek for that perfect knowledge only the spirit can provide. I can't adequately explain these concepts to you.
As Long As We're Talking About Toscano
While I was laid up, a wonderful limited number of podcasts have been produced by Paul and Margaret Toscano wherein they simply sit and discuss among themselves some wonderful gospel topics. You want to explore some of the greater things? This is an excellent place to start. Paul and his wife Margaret are both brilliant minds, and listening to the two of them having a conversation is a rare treat -like being privy to a conversation between Will and Ariel Durant. Only better, because in addition to being adept at history and philosophy as were the Durants, Paul and Margaret are also first rate Mormon theologians. These podcasts are stimulating and edifying, and you can find all five on Youtube, or download them from itunes. Here's the Youtube link:
The Toscano Dialogues
And don't miss Paul Toscano's Facebook page where he always has some interesting commentary.
Venus On The Half Shell
When I wrote my review of Paul Toscano's book on temple symbolism, I intended to mention in passing the incredible body of work on temple symbols that has been presented by Anthony Larson, but somehow I forgot to do so. I wrote quite extensively on Brother Larson's research two years ago, which you'll find in this post here, but as Larson is the preeminent expert on temple symbolism as it relates to ancient cosmology and Mormon prophecy, I should have at least made reference to his fascinating discoveries again while discussing temple symbolism in January's post.
As a point of interest, we're all familiar with the famous image of the goddess Venus emerging from her shell. So why in heck is this seemingly pagan image carved in a bas relief above the veil inside the Salt Lake temple? Anthony Larson explains why that symbol should have particular meaning to latter-day Saints on his web page here. And there's always a fascinating discussion taking place on the Facebook group Larson hosts, The Restored Gospel, Ancient Planetary History, and Cutting Edge Science.
|Yep, that's Venus sure enough, right over the veil in the temple. She was put there for a reason.|
Journal Of Mormon History Conference
My friend Brian Hales, author of the three volume Joseph Smith's Polygamy is chairing the John Whitmer Histoical Association annual meeting, to be held this year at Independence, Missouri September 24-27. Brian has put out a call for those who wish to participate, so if you have ever had a hankering to present a paper at a conference that is attended by members of all branches of the Restoration, why not submit your idea? The theme is "Putting Unity into Community: 150 years of discovery."
Proposals for complete sessions are encouraged, but individual papers, panel discussions, interviews, personal essays, debates, musical presentations, and more will also be considered. Proposals related to the meeting theme are preferred but reflections on other topics and their intersection with the Latter Day Saint movement, in addition to studies of historical and contemporary events and figures, news in the Latter Day Saint world, and cultural studies will be considered, as well.
Proposals should include: title, a one-hundred word abstract, brief summary of the topic's relevance to JWHA's focus, list of any audio/visual equipment needs (or specify "no AV needed), and a brief bio with contact information for the proposed presenter(s). The proposal deadline is April 1, 2015. Those presenting at the meeting will be expected to register, including the payment of registration fees, prior to the meeting.
The Only D&C You'll Ever Need
In my last post I mentioned in a footnote that if I were ever stranded on a desert Island with a limited number of books, I would eschew my triple combination in favor of Daymon Smith's superior version of the Book of Mormon, An Abridging Work. I can't believe I also forgot to mention the better version of the Doctrine & Covenants, which I would also want with me. I never consult the D&C out of my Triple Com anymore because that later translation has proven less than reliable (I provide some examples in my recent post, Not Quite the Same). I prefer instead The Parallel Doctrine & Covenants from Signature Books. It contains the original revelations as they were published in the church newspaper, alongside the version published in the Book of Commandments, followed by the version canonized in the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants.
Best of all, you get the revelations in the same chronological order as they came to Joseph Smith, not in the willy-nilly way they were thrown together and printed in our "official" modern collections of scripture. In a lengthy introduction by editor Curt Bench, proprietor of Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City, you'll learn how these early revelations were disseminated, as well as a discussion of the changes made to them over time. Trust me, if you're depending on your version of the D&C published by Deseret Book, you are not always getting the word of the Lord as it was first given to Joseph Smith. I don't know about you, but I prefer the original. You can find this volume at Signature Books.
The Remnant Reunion
I have been asked if Connie and I are still expecting to attend the Remnant Reunion in May. YES!
Bret Corbridge tells me that so far we have about 120 families expected to show, representing more than 200 people. Are you on that list? Then get cracking! I want to meet you! The whole thing's free, and only a 5 hour drive from Salt Lake City. See here to get a pdf file containing full information.
In closing, allow me to once again express my sincerest love to all of you for your prayers, kind words, and other support you provided for Connie and me during our difficult time. Because of you, God worked a mighty miracle, and I was brought back to life. God bless you, my friends. I won't forget.