Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

American Trinity

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

American Trinity

Article excerpt

The other two are more patient than I am. They bide their time. What's worse, Jonas is always tellingme that I amshirkingmy duty. I haven't talked to him in over a century. Hundred and fifty years the last time I talked toKumen.Even though I have returned tomy mission of wandering and ministering, both would insist I've lost the spirit of the assignment. I avoid them now. I was just coming out of the Empire Theatre in Old New York when I last talked to Jonas. Word must have gotten out. Like myself, Jonas was dressed as a patron in tuxedo and gloves. Courtly old Jonas. "I like the collapsible opera hat," I told him. "Nice touch."

"You're playing with me, Zed. That I should even feel compelled to be here is an embarrassment." He looked about wildeyed at the throng of velveted ladies and their escorts climbing into broughams parked under gas lamps.

"How long has it been?" I asked, putting on my own gloves. "The courts of Montezuma?"

"We go where we are called to go," he intoned. Then he looked at me, bemused. "You're the one holed up in the theater district. Shameful."

"Yes, but isn't it interesting that every time you decide to make an appearance, it's where there happens to be a lot of social position? A lot of pretty ladies?" I said, nodding in the direction of another exiting entourage. "Even if it is an embarrassment." Jonas looked at me with practiced contempt. Then he asked me for one of the new manufactured cigarettes, for which I had recently given up my pipe. Convenience . . . plus I'd needed a change. Any kind of change. We walked down 40th Street, stepping over muddy wagon ruts.

In the restaurant, Jonas ordered wine and oysters while I smoked and studied the lace drapes on the windows behind him. Unlike Jonas who covets the world's beautiful artifacts, I am simply amazed that the living-who-will-die go to such efforts to create it at all. The crystal chandeliers brought over from OldWorld Bohemia. The coffered ceilings of the rich. During the centuries of catastrophic Nephite wars, a man would intricately etch his sword as if his life depended not so much on the might of the metal, but on how beautifully it could kill. But as my two colleagues and I, left behind by edict, moved through the carnage with our amulets, our consecrated oils, our prayers, there was no way to see the wounded as dying beautifully.

Even when I was in Old New York with Jonas, the senior one, and eating oysters, I had surmised that this life we led was the way it was always going to be. For the Three Nephites, this was it. There would be no return of Jesus to mark the end of days and the end of our mission. That was why I was going to the theater-to escape. After three glasses of wine, I told Jonas that.

"You've lost your faith," he said.

"I've lost my life."

"Nonsense. The Lord has kept His promise to us. We are still here, aren't we?" He took another sip from the finely cut crystal glass and returned it carefully to the table. He leaned back in his chair and breathed in the night, then continued as if it were an afterthought.

"You've been here since the days of Zarahemla. A full life for us, if there's ever been one.We had families, children. Gave them our blessing before they went-"

"No," I interrupted, "you had children. You watched them die of old age. I had no children. I was always alone. I'm still alone." Jonas shook his head at me, the rims of his eyes pomegranate-red. I'll admit, when I received the calling nearly two thousand years ago, it seemed like a good idea-minister to the earth's inhabitants and then, at the second coming, go right into heaven, "in the twinkling of an eye," as The Book says.

"Perhaps you're lucky, Zed," he finally said. "It was merciless to watch my grandchildren die of old age. Even more so to see their grandchildren slaughtered needlessly."

"Maybe it was needed. Part of the history that must be written?"

"That's not what bothered me. …

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