Becoming Culturally Poisoned By Degrees

TheDiscipleMD

In July of 1976, as a missionary,  I took a 23 hour bus ride from Villa Regina, Argentina to  Buenos Aires. It was a long bumpy ride that occasionally left my stomach feeling sick. Little did I know that the ride would foreshadow the dinning experience I would find in my new assigned city of labor.

My new apartment was shared by three other Elders. When I say I shared it with three Elders I mean we had our own separate entrance into the home. We certainly weren’t alone.  The woman of the house had a couple of small children and an unlimited number of dogs living in the house. In back of the house was a fenced in yard which held about a hundred turkeys! I only spent three and a half months in that city but the constant gobbling sounds of those turkeys haunted my dreams for years. Our rent included not only housekeeping but a daily meal at noon. I was thrilled to know that I would be getting a “home cooked” meal at least once a day. When I mentioned this to my new companion he just smiled. I didn’t think anything of it till my first”gourmet” meal was served. As we sat down that first day and the Senora put our meals in front of us, it was apparent that this meal for fit for a king. In this case, King Lehonti. You might remember in the Book of Mormon the account :

“And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died.” (Alma 47: 18)

The Senora left the room with a smile. I looked down at my plate. I could visible see hairs all over it. I looked at the other missionaries. They didn’t seem to flinch as they picked the hairs out of their plates. It didn’t take too long before all three had properly “prepared” their meals and began to eat.  I was hungry, so I followed suite. However, over time, I discovered that it didn’t matter how hard I worked at “preparing” my food, I always missed a few hairs.  Sometimes the hairs went down with my meal, other times I picked them out of my teeth. As a joke we once held a contest to see who could find the most dog hairs in our meal. I am proud to say that I won that contest, finding 27 dog hairs.  I assume they were all dog hairs but I can’t be sure. I soon realized that if you live and associate with a pack of dogs; not only will you occasionally have to dine on dog hair, but you will begin to accept it as a part of your daily diet.

And as distasteful as it may sound, we are presently immersed in a culture that has gone “to the dogs.” Metaphorically, most of us have become accustomed to having dog hairs in our meals. We try to pick them out as best we can, but some are hidden from view and we shallow them without knowing. Soon, dining on dog hair becomes commonplace and part of our diet. We can become culturally poisoned by degree.

Gordon B.Hinckley once said: We see today all of these evils, more commonly and generally, than they have ever been seen before… We live in a season when fierce men do terrible and despicable things. We live in a season of war. We live in a season of arrogance. We live in a season of wickedness, pornography, immorality. All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society. Our young people have never faced a greater challenge. We have never seen more clearly the lecherous face of evil.” (“Living in the Fullness of Times,”).

The good news is that we have a refuse and a place of safety. It is the gospel of Christ as administered by His restored church. We also have a filter system called the Holy Ghost which can help us see more clearly the dog hairs in our meals. Let us keep ourselves worthy so that the spirit can play that important role; that of a filter.  Otherwise, we might not only find ourselves dining more often than we want on dog hair, but sadly,  we may find ourselves beginning to like it as it poisons our soul!

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