Come and See

Dear Will:

When I was in college I had to read The Brothers Karamazov—all 913 pages worth. Because I was taking a full load of classes at the time, I ended up reading the book in daily, 20-page chunks over the course of nine or ten weeks. By the time I got to the end, I could hardly remember how the thing began.

So you can imagine how little I remember today. In fact, the only thing I recall even vaguely is a single chapter—a self-contained short story embedded within the larger narrative—a well-known piece entitled “The Grand Inquisitor.” It’s been 30-some years since I read it (so don’t hold me to this), but as I remember it, the essence of the story is this: Jesus returns to earth during the Inquisition, and in response to his many miracles the religious leaders—get this—sentence him to death. (I know: We’ve heard this before). They don’t really need Jesus anymore, the Inquisitor tells Him. They pretty much prefer life without Him.

Compare that reaction to the one found in the first chapter of the Gospel According to John, wherein we read of how Jesus came to know some of the men who would later become his closest friends and disciples. The passage describes a day on which John the Baptist was talking to a couple of his disciples. As the Lord passed by, the Baptist declared (in reference to Jesus): “Behold the Lamb of God!,” at which point the two disciples left John and went to follow Jesus instead:

Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?  They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. . . . One of the two . . . was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. (John 1:35-41)

I don’t know about you, but I would hate to be that Inquisitor dude—someone so caught up in life-as-I-know-it that I fail to recognize the best thing that has ever crossed my path. How much better to be Andrew, a man who knows a good thing when he sees it, one who is quick to follow good advice, eager to do what’s right, willing to tell others when he has found something worth sharing. Who wouldn’t rather be like that?

Even so, I find myself wondering: When was the last time I dropped everything to follow good counsel? How often have I overlooked or ignored or flat-out rejected an invitation to “come and see”? And when was the last time I made a point to share something truly meaningful and important with a friend?

Well, today I’d like to try to remedy that. Today I want to get in touch with my Inner Andrew and share with a friend something truly meaningful and important: This coming weekend (October 6 and 7) is the LDS Church’s semi-annual General Conference. During that Conference, you can hear from a living prophet of God and 12 real live apostles. They will speak truth and inspiration, the sorts of words that will help lead you to eternal happiness.  You can watch them from your favorite lounge chair, either on the BYU Channel or via a live online stream.

I can’t think of any better way to spend a few hours on a weekend. Come and see.


Six Basic Principles

Dear Will:

Sometime in the late ‘80s, the writer Robert Fulgham published an essay entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It was a remarkable little piece, down-home and introspective, filled with simple but profound counsel. Perhaps you remember it:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. . . .

That essay was published long before the Internet and yet it still managed to go “viral,” as we say today. I still remember hearing it for the first time from the pulpit in the Westwood chapel in a talk given by a man named Michael Grilikhes. Imagine. It’s been over 20 years. . . .

Fulgham’s essay came to mind the other day while I was reading with my family from the third chapter of Luke, where we find the only record of what might be called the Gospel of John the Baptist. You’ll recall that John preached on the shores of the river Jordan, calling all to repent and be baptized. Like Fulgham’s, John’s counsel was profound in its simplicity (Luke 3:10-14):

10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?  And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Do you sometimes feel like living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is just too hard—that there are too many commandments and precepts and expectations? I think John offers a simpler view of the same thing. Six basic principles to live by: Say you’re sorry. Share. Be fair. Don’t hurt others. Be honest. Be content.

Six basic principles. Think how the world would be different—scratch that—think how your life would be different if you and those around you adhered to those simple teachings. The thought itself is so intriguing that my family and I have decided to take up that challenge and see how it might improve our lives together.

I’m excited to give that experiment a try. Why don’t you join us?