Blaming Casper the ‘Friendly’ Ghost


It seemed like every other day, one of us kids were breaking something, forgetting to turn off something, or not cleaning up behind ourself.  When my Mom would inquire of us as to who was responsible, all of us would respond collectively or individually, “It wasn’t me!”.   My Mom would get frustrated and say, “Well, it must have been a ghost!”.  I don’t think any of us were purposely lying to her, I just think that among her ten kids, we really didn’t know who was responsible.  Who was the last one out of the room and didn’t turn off the television? None of us were paying attention.  Who left the light on?  Don’t know!  The milk never seemed to return to the fridge, but none of us were the last one to get it out.   I remember once my Mom asked who broke the Iron.  Well, I had been playing with a ball downstairs and I did knock over the Iron, but so did my brother earlier in the day. I assumed it was him. It wasn’t me! Of course my brother didn’t think he was “the one”. It really seemed that the house was “haunted”.  A ghost really was responsible for all the “misdeeds” that were happening.  As a kid I was fine with “Casper”  taking the rap!

To my Mom’s credit,, even though she could have lost her temper with us, she too was fine with using “Casper” as the fall guy.  And I guess that is what I most remember and cherish about the most repetitive question of “Who done it?” It was the manner in which the response was handled by my Mom.  She had every right to be mad, or even accusatory, but she wasn’t.  She wouldn’t lose her temper and create bad feelings in the home, for sake of an iron, the milk, or the lights.  And she could have! Some might even say, “She should have” in order to have taught us ten kids the principle of accountability.   Well, maybe, but, looking back, I think she handled it best by throwing “Casper” under the bus.  I learned a lot from how my Mother handled stress and pressure.  She knew that having an atmosphere of love, instead of contention, was more important than “sweating over the small stuff”. And most of what happens on a daily basis is “small stuff”.

So, today I  pass along to you a great gem that I learned from my loving Mom; don’t make a big deal out of small things because more often than not, you make matters so much worse!  If you have kids, they will try your patience almost every day. But, on days like that, do like my Mom so often did, make an enemy of “Casper” and love your kids! Your kids will always remember the spirit that enveloped their childhood home and no matter how many times you throw Casper “under the bus”, he will forgive you because after all, he is forever “friendly”.


‘She’s A Terrible Wife!’

I was unexpectedly called out of a class I was attending one long ago Sunday afternoon, because I was told that a man wanted to see the Bishop. In the hall I found a rather distraught man in his early thirties who pleasantly greeted me and requested that we meet. As we sat down I soon found that he was the husband of a woman who attended the church on a regular basis. He apologized to me that he had never taken the time to attend church since his family had moved to the area a few months before. I told him that an apology wasn’t necessary and I would be happy to help out in any way I could.

This man began our conversation by telling me in great detail regarding the faults of his wife. He told me she was a bad cook, a bad money manager, a bad housecleaner etc. etc.. He continued his rather extensive criticism of his wife by saying she was a neglectful mother, and ended his emotional accusations by saying, “She’s a terrible wife.” I listened patiently and was about to discuss his accusations when the root of his problem came forth. He explained that because she was such a bad wife he had sought affection from another women at work. It was clear to me that what he had really come to see me about was to receive approval from me that his actions were justified.

I had no ideal if his accusations had any merit or if his wife was innocent of all his charges, but what I did know was that the commandment given to Moses, as recorded in Exodus, was “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”, and it didn’t give the out of having a supposed “terrible wife.” In fact, Jesus Christ not only confirmed the teachings of Moses, he taught:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

I explained the above commandment and that despite his feelings, it didn’t justify his actions. His demeanor quickly changed and he abruptly put an end to our meeting and promptly left.

Like this man, sometimes we like to justify our unrighteous actions by seeking approval by those in authority. When that approval is not given, we become offended and somehow blame others for not being kind or loving. The Lord loved all those who came to him with a “broken heart and a contrite spirit” and who sought for mercy and forgiveness, but he never gave approval of sinful behavior.


Love Is The Soul Of Genius


The motto of BYU is “The Glory of God is intelligence.” Sometimes we equate the word “Genius” with the word “intelligence”. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) who many recognize as a musical genius had this to say regarding the subject:

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

Mozart, the musical genius who is revered by most of the world wrote this in a letter:
“It is a great consolation for me to remember that the Lord, to whom I had drawn near in humble and child-like faith, has suffered and died for me, and that He will look on me in love and compassion.”

At this time of year when many are graduating from High School, Universities, and Graduate Schools, let us remember the words of Mozart the musical genius. He of course was only requoting the words of the Savior, a true genius in all matters of the universe.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

The genius of love is that through it and by it, the deepest and noblest emotion of man elevates, enlightens, and softens even the darkest recesses of the human heart.


A Member’s Right To Privacy


A few years ago a favorite nephew from out-of-town visited me for several days. We spent many hours talking, laughing and reminiscing. He is married with a young family of six that he and his wife are raising. During the course of our conversation, he told me this insightful story. As a young man, he had returned home early from his church mission due to medical issues. As he sat in the office of his Bishop and they discussed that he probably wasn’t going to be returning to the mission field, he disconcertedly asked his Bishop, “What do I tell people when they ask why I am not returning?” The Bishop leaned forward and very forcefully replied, “Tell them it’s none of their business.” It has been many years since my nephew received that advice, and it was clear to me that my nephew had not only been surprised by his Bishop’s advice, but he had learned one of life’s great lessons. We do need to mind our own business.

Now clearly there are times when we have direct responsibility through our church callings to minister to those who are under our stewardship. In those circumstances, we are charged to care for and look after them. Yet, even under those conditions, we don’t have “cart-blanche” privilege to impose ourselves into others lives. We need to be careful that we give privacy to those who so desire. There is a fine line between caring and imposing. There is also a difference between showing concern and simply being curious. The latter is more on the level of “gossiping.” Most of us sense when others are showing concern and when others are just “inquisitive.” Many years ago Elder Marvin J. Ashton said this:

“How damaging is a habit that permits… the sharing of malicious rumors! Gossip and caustic comments often create chains of contention. These chains may appear to be very small, but what misery and woe they can cause!” (“Shake Off the Chains with Which Ye Are Bound”, GC, Oct. 1986)

It is a wonderful thing to know you have been missed when you haven’t been at church for a while. However, at the same time it is not such a wonderous feeling if you think you are being “questioned” as to your whereabouts upon your return. Being “missed” fosters a feeling of love, while being “questioned” fosters the opposite.  It is our “business” to show love and concern for our “neighbor”. The scriptures teach us so. But it really is none of our business to simply inquire into others lives.

Showing genuine love for others is the way of the Lord. But when Jesus was presented with the adulteress, he didn’t ask her any details regarding her behavior. Not one question! He simply said, “…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11) Due to the nature of our  lay ministry we live in a very public church, but there are some things that all of us would rather keep within the confines of our families.  As far as I know it is not against the commandments to be a private person. Let us be wise in how we conduct ourselves regarding the privacy of others. Some of our members are very private about the way they grieve. I once spoke with a member who temporarily stopped going to church, not because of loss of testimony, but because discussing their grief and sorrow with others was so painful that staying away felt better. Fortunately they recognized that separating oneself from the body of the saints can be spiritually dangerous and is not the way of the Lord. They have since returned.

All of us need someone to lean on from time to time. It is wonderful to have good loving members of the church available to help out when needed. But when we are the one helping, remember, it is divine to care, but unwise to share; meaning, we shouldn’t share others’ confidences. May we remember the wise counsel that a good Bishop gave to my nephew! Let us be there for others in their time of need but may we have the wisdom to stay out of places that we have no business being in.


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