Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mild Mormons I Have Known

It’s name-dropping time today. It occurs to me that I have met some moderately well-known Mormons in contexts out of the norm, all tending to establish they there good, decent people. I’m not sure if any of them would really remember me, (well, Rick is one of my Facebook buddies) but if I ever become famous . . . . (maybe linking them on my blog will do it!)

Terryl Givens – College Professor, Scholar, Author.

Terryl and I were in the Language Training Mission, or LTM, now MTC, on our way to Brazil. In fact, we were stuck there for some months waiting for our visas. I had no idea at the time that Terryl was so smart yet he was as part of another district of Elders that was very serious about their studies – not all districts had that reputation. The distinct recollection I have is from our gym period one day when Terryl collapsed on the floor and turned green. I didn’t know that actually happened to people. It happened to Terryl because his appendix burst and he was rushed to the hospital and fortunately returned soon to his missionary duties. He always seemed very serious-minded and obviously determined as I saw him for a few days before the appendix attack clutching his side in some pain but determined to run his laps along with all his other missionary training duties.

after our missions, Terryl and I both taught Portuguese at the MTC. For one brief time, we were actually team-teachers for the same district – although the way that worked is that we coordinated our work in teaching separate halves of the day so we didn’t really teach together. A couple of years later, Terryl turned up again as the Honors Program Mentor to my wife when she was finishing up her paper on Galileo. Terryl has a great testimony.

Blake Ostler – Attorney, Author, Philosopher, Mormon Apologist.

Blake was always way over my head. He was a Gospel Doctrine Teacher in a married student ward we attended in Provo. His lessons were fascinating. In spite of being very bright and slightly progressive in religious views, he generally avoided condescending attitudes to those who didn’t quite understand at his level or even took a more traditional, conservative interpretation of things. Once during one of these exchanges on a bit of philosophical difference in scriptural interpretation, the toddler child of the other side of that conversation somehow got up front and grabbing Blake’s scriptures, ripped a page right out. I’m not sure if those were the verses pertaining to the contemporaneous controversy. Blake took it calmly in stride as the parents whisked in to scoop up the child away with much apology. Blake has a rather stunning and personal essay on Mormon Scholars Testify.

Rick Walton – Author of Children’s Books

Rick was another serious-minded Elder I knew in the LTM. He might even have been in that same, serious district with Elder Givens, but I knew Rick better because he was heading to my mission and we all sort of stuck around together. After we had finished the basic eight-week language course, we took on other study opportunities, much of it self-taught or with partners who were at our learning level. Rick took the rather old Brazilian Grammar book we had and pretty much memorized it. He read a few other classic Brazilian literature texts and the scriptures in Portuguese. I heard from Brazilian Elders that he when he arrived down there he spoke perfect, archaic Portuguese with an amazing vocabulary that was somewhat out of the ordinary, especially for the casual culture of samba and futebol. I suppose it would have been like a foreigner plopping down in the modern US speaking Elizabethan English. 

We were never in the same city at the same time in our mission. There is one incident of our interaction. It was a transfer day and somehow I was in a member's car transporting Elder Walton's guitar that had been left behind in Novo Hamburgo to the mission office in Porto Alegre.

Marie Osmond - Entertainer

Yes, it's true - even if only a casual, one-time contact. I was waiting in line with my Mom to see a movie in Orem at Carillon Square (I think it was The Wiz so that would make it about 1978). I whispered to my Mom, "Don't look now but Marie Osmond is standing right behind us." MARIE OSMOND! WHERE?!?" she burst out with as she spun around nearly knocking the poor girl over. Marie was very gracious as my Mom asked for an autograph "for her daughter." I gave Marie one of those "you-know-Moms" looks. She understood. I'm just glad Mom didn't try to set us up as I was still single at the time.

I have many, many dear friends that I appreciate as much as these more famous acquaintances. I just try to keep private people private as I exploit the ones with a more public presence on the web because I have known them personally (well, maybe Marie not so much.)


  1. (Anon/M) I have a question. It sounds like Brazil was clamping down on issuing visas during the period you and those elders were at the LTM. My older son was there two years afterward (he is exactly one year younger and worked one year to earn funds for his mission)and couldn't go to Rio either, after completing the 8-week language course. The Church didn't keep him at the LTM, though. They sent him to a Portuguese enclave in Michigan for several months instead. Wasn't that option available for you guys?

  2. Anon/M
    I may have to blog that story some time. We were actually stuck there, the word being that any day our visas were coming through and that was for weeks and weeks (and weeks) - I was there from July 15 - December 7. They finally unloaded the Brazilian back-up in the LTM and sent us all over the place, most states-side. My group was fortunate to go directly to Brazil as our visas had just come through.

  3. The story about your mom and Marie made me laugh. Back in the mid-'70s my sister briefly dated one of the Osmonds; Mom was over the moon with excitement and itching to shop for the trousseau. :-)


Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!