Church Talk, This Sunday

TIM is giving a talk this coming Sunday. He found the one he gave before, and it was dated 1996. So, with a little updating, it’s posted here. If you all have any ideas of scriptures, or whatever, to improve it, feel free. Those of you in my ward who read it are unofficially released from attending this week!

David Fletcher — Sacrament Meeting Talk of September 17, 2006

The last talk…I remember the last talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting. It was 30 pounds ago. In 1988, I was turning 30.

This talk is going to be all about me, so I thought I’d start out clearing up a serious misconception about me.

My name is David, and my nickname is D. which is short for David. D. is spelled D (period) and not D E E. The D. is an initial, see? My middle initial is W. and for a long time I was called D.W. but I had a girlfriend in college who thought that that was really pretentious, so it was shortened to D. and I’ve been D. ever since. But I still like David, I’ve always liked it. David Fletcher has a certain formal musical rhythm.

David Fletcher
Fred’rick Chopin
Leonard Bernstein
Paul Mc Cartney

You get the idea.

You might infer from all this name changing that my life has been one long identity crisis. You’d be right. And that’s the central issue of this talk, namely understanding one’s true nature.

The Church teaches us that we have physical bodies and spiritual bodies, and that these resemble each other, and are attached somehow, even though they can only be perceived in different dimensions.

A good simile might be that our spirits are like our shadows; they look like us; they are attached to us; sometimes they are in clear focus, but mostly they are dim. I think we would all agree that our shadows are most easily seen when we are standing in a great light.

Upon this notion, I’ve written a series of metaphysical connections, which I’d like you to try and follow with me.

We live in a three-dimensional world; that is, a world which can be perceived as having length, width, and depth or height. If we take a three-dimensional object, say, an aquarium, which is a simple cube, and place it on a table below a light, and then with a magic marker draw the outlines of the aquarium’s shadow, the drawing which we make will look very much like that aquarium. The aquarium’s shadow is the same as the aquarium except in an obvious way: it has no depth; it only has two dimensions, length and width.

Let’s consider this two-dimensional world. What if…what if there were intelligent beings in this world? What would they be like? One thing I might say about them is that they have only one eye. We have two eyes to perceive depth, and since depth doesn’t exist in their world they only need one eye. But having only one eye they are forever bumping into one another. Or perhaps they have developed a different system of communication which utilizes an organized series of instinctive responses to communicative stimuli, like for instance, radar. In our world, we have bats, which are blind and rely on their own radar to get them around in the darkness.

Also, any beings in the second dimension would have to be blind to our presence, that is, beings in the third dimension. Even if they were intelligent enough to have logically guessed that we are here, they would not be able to see us.

I can construct for myself a very civilized culture being developed in a two-dimensional world. Still, even with their advanced form of communication, it’s hard for me to believe that our spirits live there. It is hard for me to believe that our spirits live in a world with one dimension LESS than the world we inhabit.

Since a three-dimensional object leaves a two-dimensional shadow, we may conclude logically that a four-dimensional object leaves a three-dimensional shadow. Our physicists have actually been able to construct models that represent shadows of four-dimensional objects.

So instead of thinking of our spiritual bodies as our shadows, we should consider that we are the shadows of our spiritual bodies.

This isn’t a new idea; it may be attributed to Plato. You remember Plato’s cave? Plato hypothesized that the world was an apparition of its true, divine self— in essence, a shadow. So I’ve made this next part of my talk a kind of classic Greek dialogue between the Lord and our spiritual bodies.

If we are the shadows of our spiritual bodies, and we believe in free agency in this life, does this mean our spiritual bodies are being forced to go where we go? Let’s consider this for a moment.

What if we were forced to go where our shadows wanted to go? What if our shadows, not surprisingly, wanted to be with other shadows? When shadows congregate, they lose individuality, they blend into one big shadow.

Suppose the Lord said, “Even though your physical bodies are mere shadows of your your spiritual selves, in order for you to learn more about my kingdom and my law, I decree that you must go where your physical body takes you.”

“But Lord,” our spiritual selves say, “If we go where our shadow wants to go, it may take us into darkness, where the shadow itself loses all definition and clarity. Our shadow can only be seen when we are standing in the light. And our shadow is blind to our presence.”

The Lord replies, “You have forgotten that even though your shadow lives only in a primitive three-dimensional world, and is blind to both his own true self and any perception of the fourth dimension, your physical body has a very highly developed sense of instinctive communication. He will be able to FEEL you, and you must use this to direct him toward the light, thereby giving him greater definition and clarity.”

End of dialogue. The Lord, it seems, always has the last word.

So, we should be searching for the big light, which will make our spiritual bodies happy and give our physical bodies greater definition as shadows.

Now I mentioned earlier that this talk was all about me. Lately, I’ve been pondering about myself, about the true nature of me, about my spiritual self. I have been wondering how to find and understand that part of me that is the real me, not the shadow I feel I have, in many instances, become.

I am considering turning 49 years old next year. I am only considering it, I may not do it.

Actually, I’m not overly concerned about being 49, even though I do seem to be at a crossroads. I’m not married, I need a new apartment, a new job, and a new body, preferably taller and slimmer.

I was told in my patriarchal blessing that if I stayed close to the light I would learn secrets about life and about myself. One secret I know was imparted to me by the bishop of this ward about 20 years ago. At the time I was playing in a working rock band, coming to church very sporadically and feeling like a Sinner with a capital S. I went to see the Bishop wondering if it was appropriate that I have any callings, ones in position of leadership. He replied “you are providing a generous service that no one else right now can provide. And what is Christianity if not service?”

And this is the secret that I’d like to share today: Losing oneself in the service of others means finding one’s TRUE, spiritual self.

Service is the secret of life; it is the secret of mental health; it is the secret of physical health; it is the secret of the bonding of families, the education of children; it is the secret of good business and good government; it is the secret of peace on earth; it is the secret of restoring the earth to its full glory. There is no quicker way to good feelings between divisive parties than to lend a helping hand. And I’m not just talking about racial or political divisions—I’m talking about personality divisions—lending a helping hand to people you just loathe because of their annoying dispositions. IF they need help and you’re in a position to help, you’ll be surprised how quickly the goodwill you’ve shown will be expanded into intimacy and fondness.

You will awake to your real self. The real SECRET of the secret of giving service is that it will open a door to another dimension, the dimension of your spiritual self. When I hear the phrases “that’s just how I am,” or “I’m just being myself,” I consider these to be excuses for lazy slovenly behavior. What you’re basically saying is “I’m reverting to the lowest me possible, as far in the shadows as I can get.” Instead of being selfish, fatuous you, for one day, pretend to be someone who serves the world. Instead of being you, for one day, why don’t you try to be Gordon B. Hinckley for a day? And see if you don’t feel the great light of Christ warm your upturned spiritual face.

Faith is the great motivator for great work; but faith is useless if not acted upon. People in New York City tend to be pasty-faced because we are forever cooped up in small dark apartments doing small dark things. We should be doing big bright things in the light and getting spiritual suntans.

I am not sure what those things are but I think they include reaching out to our spouses, our families, people in the ward and at work, even people we don’t like, people in our community, our country, protecting the animals and restoring the earth. Brethren, we are behind the sisters in this. 95% of the compassionate service in the Church is done by the women. Pay your fast offerings, do your home teaching or your visiting teaching, help somebody move to a new apartment, give your change away on the subway, work in a homeless shelter for a night, and sing in the danged ward choir. And keep doing it until your voices are raw.

I believe in the great good of mankind and in the power of the Gospel to help us recognize another dimension, the world of our spiritual selves, where we are clear, focused, eternal beings in the image of our Creator and Savior, who provides the light for us to stand in to feel warm, safe, and loved.

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12 Responses to Church Talk, This Sunday

  1. TIM says:

    Talk will be followed by Sarah Asplund singing “Weepin’ Mary.”

  2. john f. says:

    I enjoyed your talk. Good luck on Sunday.

  3. Rob says:

    Very touching, D. And I’m so glad “Weepin’ Mary” will be heard after, you know how much I like that song. I wish I could go.

  4. TIM says:

    I’m delighted that anybody would read through this thing. Thanks, guys!

  5. Kathryn Fletcher Fowles says:

    Way to go, brother. Great thoughts, great insights, great spiritual inspiration – great, great, great!

    More later.

    KFF

  6. greenfrog says:

    D,

    Nice ideas, well expressed.

    You and I may have different views of the nature of spirits. You seem to have more faith in their independent existence than I. It was fun to “see” them through your eyes.

    gf

  7. danithew says:

    I really like what you had to say about service and how it helps us to get back in touch with our real selves.

    Last week my wife played the piano at church. I think she did a great job. Still, if you ever want to (cough, cough) come visit our chapel and play organ, I’m sure you’d be welcome.

    🙂

  8. D. I am sorry I’m not in New York this weekend. My summer tan is quickly fading and could use a burst of spiritual UV. You are brilliant, but then I have known that for a long time. As a painter, I’m always thinking in terms of how to translate three dimensions into two. I’ve always held that great paintings, even though they are, for the most part, two dimensional, are great because they do something more than simply draw from the three-dimensional world. Perhaps it is the incorporation of a fourth, spiritual dimension that makes a two dimensional painting “live”.
    Great stuff to think about and try to incorporate into every part of my life.
    KDC

  9. TIM says:

    Hi, everybody! Uh oh, I better watch out, the family is readin the blog.

    🙂

    gf, I don’t really have any specific beliefs pertaining to the literalization of spirit bodies. It’s just a creative way to present a talk. I think I got the whole 3-dimension with a 2-dimension shadow thing from Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.

    I go overboard with the creativity. My own favorite talks given by other people focus on life lessons from personal experiences or anecdotes, related to scriptures, etc. I wish I could make this kind of talk, but I’m forced by my own egregious personality to… make it seem more complex, more intellectual (which it really isn’t).

  10. Rosalynde says:

    Oh, D., I loved this! I’m sure you were hit. The tone was just pitch-perfect; you really are such a good writer (not that I didn’t know this before).

  11. TIM says:

    Thanks, everybody, for reading and responding. The talk went very well — I was surprised how funny it was, people laughing throughout.

  12. jafferyme says:

    I request Absolution.

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