Set forth below is a short piece I wrote several years ago about my father for an essay competition sponsored by Jana Riess, a prominent Mormon blogger for the Religion News Service. Even though it was selected for publication on Jana’s website, I am republishing it this Father’s Day weekend as a tribute to my father, one of my heroes.
Not too long ago, stakes and wards were expected to devise fundraising schemes—everything from bake sales, to service auctions, to car washes—in order to subsidize their local operating budgets. Today, funds are dispensed from church headquarters, and local units are discouraged from raising money on their own.
Allen Gewalten zum trotz, sich erhalten! (“Despite all the powers, maintain yourself!”)
The life of Sophie Scholl changed on the day she and most of her siblings were arrested by the Gestapo. Along with her brother Werner and her sister Inge, she was summarily removed from the family home in Ulm (a small town about 75 miles from Munich) and taken to a local jail.
Their parents stood by helplessly as their children were handcuffed and their home was ransacked by the secret police. Sophie was 16 years old at the time while Inge and Werner were 20 and 15, respectively. Her older brother, Hans (19), had been taken into a custody a few weeks earlier. The year was 1937.
In the early 1950s, the Karnaphuli pulp and paper mill, one of the earliest large-scale industrial enterprises in the recently established country of Pakistan, commenced operations. For raw material, the plant drew almost exclusively upon the vast bamboo forests along the upper reaches of the Karnaphuli River in East Pakistan. The suppliers of the bamboo and residents of the region, in addition to the venture’s founders, had high hopes for the project.
During the start-up phase, the business had its fair share of managerial difficulties and other troubles, but by the end of the decade it had begun to prosper. Then disaster struck. The bamboo began to flower.
We generally feel more comfortable around those who share our beliefs and outlook on life, who think the way we do. The naysayers, gadflies and critics in our ranks can be such a bother. They challenge our perspective and compel us to rethink our opinions. Even when they do it politely and diplomatically, they can be such a nuisance.
Most societies and organizations dislike dissenters but none more so than religious organizations. Because they are typically hierarchal and authoritative, and their leaders believe their authority originates with God, their actions and decisions should not be open to question. But the heads of organizations of all stripes, when confronted by recalcitrant subordinates, often throw up their hands and exclaim: “Why is it so hard for you to do what we ask, to simply conform?”