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January 21, 2010
What would happen if a pair of Mormon missionaries showed up on the doorstep of a dedicated Jehovah's Witness? This humorous but insightful fictional dialogue is what it might sound like.
Elder Hawkins grinned as he approached the door. He and Sister Sarah had placed the Book of Mormon in four homes already this morning, and it wasn't yet noon. He rang the doorbell and stepped back. A tall, balding man wearing a large smile opened the door. Elder Hawkins saw the Watchtower magazine in the man's hand and his grin vanished.
— By David Washburn, This Rock Magazine, 1992 —
"Come in, come in," the man bellowed. "Don't just stand there. Come in and let's get acquainted."
Hawkins ushered Sister Sarah in and followed. They sat on a couch that the man indicated. "Hello. I'm Elder Hawkins, and this is Sister Sarah. We're from the Church of-- "
"I know. I can read your little name tags. Tell me, what do you think of the situation in the Middle East? Do you think it's leading anywhere?"
Hawkins shrugged. "Actually, Mr.-- ?"
"Call me Jack. Jack Overton's my name."
"Jack, then. We're here to ask a few questions. Do you believe family is important in today's society?"
"Sure do," Jack nodded. "That's why me and my family are preparing ourselves to live forever in paradise on Earth. Are you?"
Hawkins blinked. "I hadn't really thought about --"
"You need to."
"Tell me, Jack. Do you believe that today's society is trying to tear down the fabric of the family?"
"They're tearing everything down. It's no accident that blood transfusions transmit AIDS, you know."
"Blood transfusions. Tell me this, Jack. Do you believe that life goes on after death?"
"No. When you die, consciousness ceases. The only way to come back is if Jehovah raises you again to live in paradise on Earth."
"Oh, then you do believe we can return and live with Heavenly Father."
"What does that mean?"
"Don't change the subject. Do you believe it or not?"
Jack considered. "Well, not exactly with him, but we can return here."
"And be exalted to live with Heavenly Father."
Jack shrugged. "If you insist on putting it that way. But not everybody will get to."
Hawkins took a breath. "You mean some people will go to hell."
"Hell no, I don't mean hell! There's no such thing."
Hawkins smiled. "So all can return and live with Heavenly Father."
"I'd still like to know what that means, but the answer is no. The ones who reject the truth go to oblivion. After they get their second chance, if they still reject it, they stay in oblivion."
"Don't you read your Bible? At the Last Judgment, where it says 'the books were opened.' That means --"
"Oh, you mean when our Brother Jesus returns."
"He's already here."
Hawkins flinched. "Where?"
"Here. On Earth."
Hawkins smiled at Sister Sarah. "Really? Where does he live?"
"Don't be silly. You can't see him. He's invisible, just like he was when his spirit rose from the dead."
"When his spirit-- Tell me this. Do you believe that God gave the Scriptures, insofar as they are correctly translated, to teach us how we can live with Heavenly Father?"
"Oh, yes. And we have the correct translation. It's called the New World Translation. "
"You have Joseph Smith's inspired translation?"
"Sister Sarah is good at explaining prophecy. Go ahead, Sister."
Sarah cleared her throat. "Heavenly Father gave us the Scriptures through prophets who spoke for him. But the Bible wasn't enough."
"It's enough," Jack said, "But it's hard to understand without Watchtower study materials to interpret it."
"It isn't enough," Sarah said. "There's another Testament of Jesus Christ."
"Why do I want another one when the two I already have tell me all I need to know?"
Sarah frowned. "Because God gave it."
"Why would he do that?"
"Because he wanted to, I guess. It's called the Book of Mormon."
"It was written by a moron?"
"No, Moroni gave it to Joseph Smith."
Jack blinked. "The city councilman?"
"No, the prophet."
"I hear Councilman Smith makes lots of profits, that's for sure."
"Not profit, prophet." She gathered herself and tried again. "When he was fourteen, Joseph Smith had a vision of two personages. One pointed to the other and said, 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.' Who do you suppose that was?"
"This is all nice, but we really should be talking about Armageddon."
Hawkins said, "Yes. The final battle when Jesus returns."
"I told you, he's already here. He returned in 1914 and established the millennial kingdom."
Sarah stared. "But that's supposed to be when all the Jews return to Palestine and all the Mormons return to Missouri."
JACK laughed. "I don't know where your misery comes into it, but Jesus returned invisibly in 1914. He's in the process of driving out the devil's minions. The devil is the author of the Trinity doctrine."
Hawkins said, "You don't believe in a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?"
"I do, but they're not all gods."
"Of course they are. There are lots of gods. The Father has a glorified body, so does the Son. He took up his exalted body and returned to Heavenly Father after he died on the cross."
"It wasn't a cross. It was an upright stake."
"I beg your pardon?"
Jack sighed. "At any rate, his death and spiritual resurrection gave us the prospect of eternal life on a restored Earth."
"Spiritual resurrection? What do you mean?"
"He didn't rise bodily. When he appeared to the disciples, he used different bodies as he pleased."
Hawkins shook his head. "You've got it all wrong. He laid down his life and took it up again, just like Heavenly Father did in ages past."
"You're saying Jehovah died and rose, too?"
"Not Jehovah, the Father."
"Isn't the Father Jehovah?"
"No, he's Adam."
"Adam, the first man in the Bible."
"Not at all. Brigham Young told us--"
"Brigham Young. He was the spiritual successor to Joseph Smith."
"The city councilman?"
Hawkins slapped the arm of the couch. "Will you stop that? I want to tell you what God revealed to us through his prophet, Joseph Smith!"
Jack leaned back. "Don't get so excited. Tell away."
HAWKINS took a deep breath. "Now, the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph and told him where he could find some golden plates containing a book that told of an ancient American civilization. He found them and translated them. They were written in Reformed Egyptian."
"What's Reformed Egyptian?"
"A language that nobody knows."
"Did your Joseph know it?"
"But he translated it."
Jack scratched his head. "Where are these plates now?"
"The angel took them back to heaven."
Jack smiled. "That's too bad. It would have been nice to have a New World Translation of the Christian Reformed Egyptian Scriptures."
"Why? Joseph Smith translated them perfectly under God's inspiration."
"How do you know that?"
"I prayed to Heavenly Father and he showed me."
"How did he show you?"
"When something is true, don't you feel it? Isn't that feeling you get how you know it's true?"
"Oh, yes. That's how I know my Watchtower is true and this isn't."
"You're wrong. I feel that we're the true church."
"Your feeling is wrong. I feel that we're the right one."
"Your feeling is wrong."
"Is not." Jack stood. "I'm thirsty. Would you like some coffee?"
"We never pollute our bodies with coffee unless our church owns the company. Do you have any tomato juice?"
"I never buy tomato juice. It looks too much like blood, and the Scripture says you're not supposed to eat blood. It's no accident that blood transfusions transmit AIDS, you know."
Hawkins stood. "Tell you what. We need to be going. Just let me leave you with a thought. If you became convinced that these things are true, would you be baptized in the Mormon Church?"
"I've already been baptized into Jehovah's kingdom. Have you?"
"Not that I know of."
"That's too bad. You need to be baptized into his kingdom and then sell books and magazines so you can avoid oblivion. But don't worry. He'll give you a second chance when the books are opened, anyway."
Hawkins shook his head and opened the door for Sister Sarah. "Goodbye, Jack. Thanks for talking to us."
"Same to you," Jack said as he followed them to the door. "By the way, if you're going door-to-door, watch out for the lady two doors down. She's a Christian Scientist. Now there's a strange religion."
Hawkins glanced at Sister Sarah. "Thanks for the tip. We all need to be on guard against religious fruitcakes, don't we?"
Jack nodded. "Yes, don't we all."
Source: This Rock Magazine
David Washburn freelances from Powell, Wyoming. Reprinted with permission from The Door, P.O. Box 530, Yreka, CA 96097