Monday, April 26, 2010
I recently sat down and interviewed the one person I baptized as a Mormon Missionary, nearly 19 years ago. A lot has changed since then, but we had a nice candid conversation about how that decision has influenced his life. The interview was published on Mormon Expression. You can find it here:
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
The Life and Times of
Stephen Erastus Knudsen III
Brother Stephen Erastus Knudsen III was born April 6, 1966, in Sunnyvale, Utah. The oldest of three children, Stephen lived a life of near perfection, gaining exaltation through translation in the twinkling of an eye on his 33rd birthday, April 6, 1999, at precisely 6:32am. Brother Knudsen now resides in the bosom of Abraham with his boyhood heroes Moses and Elijah, and will remain there patiently until the final trump has blown.
The following excerpt comes straight from the Archives of LDS Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Brother Knudsen’s exemplary life has been recorded and preserved for us all.
The following selection was written three years after returning from his mission and was submitted to the editors of Brigham Young University’s The Daily Herald by Brother Knudsen while a student. Brother Knudsen wishes all to know that during his life, he desired nothing more than to be the voice of the Lord unto his own generation.
In light of the many terrible events about us in the world today, I have hearkened to the call for a more uplifting voice in the media, and am therefore submitting a page from my personal Journal, a Journal I keep daily as the Prophet commands, to serve as a guide and a light whereby students and faculty of this, the Lord’s University of Brigham Young, may more fully understand the course they are to take to hold fast to the iron rod and stay safely within the confines of the straight and narrow path. In so doing, I am in no way placing myself above others. My intentions spring deep from the waters of humility. I am motivated only by a love for you, my fellow man, and a sincere desire to magnify my own righteousness so that it may become in at least some small way a great benefit to those of you who perpetually struggle against the Word. For if a light is placed beneath a bushel, wherewith shall the world be lighted? It is my fervent prayer that you will approach this with an open heart and diligently strive to be as the Lord would have you be.
Journal Entry, March 18, 1991
Good evening journal. I certainly had many wonderful experiences this glorious day. I arose at 5:30 am sharp and did my morning exercises. There’s nothing like a brisk stretch to invigorate the mind! Exercise strengthens and beautifies this holy temple in which our eternal spirits temporarily reside. It is our solemn duty to keep these temples in their best repair, which is why I open each day with a thorough strengthening of my physical body’s soul.
At 5:35 I showered. Yes, it was cold, but I am well accustomed to that by now. I remember on my mission, just before I became AP, the showers were so cold! But my heart took comfort each day in the joy I gained through the knowledge of the blessings I would receive in sacrificing the luxuries of this world for the stark conditions that as a necessity follow those who devote their life in service to the Lord. Like the scriptures say, there is a law in heaven, irrevocably decreed before the foundations of the world, upon which each blessing is predicated. This is so true. And I have found that the blessing most closely associated with taking cold showers has been that I don’t have to waste precious moments waiting for the mirror to unfog. Thus, I am immediately able to attend to my morning grooming and thus expedite my preparations for the day. It is truly amazing, brethren. With God, nothing is impossible!
Having combed and shaved, I dutifully attended to my other sanitary needs, which, for the sake of propriety shall remain nameless. Suffice it to say, I look forward to the day in which the food we eat and the bodies we possess are perfected to the highest degree, where we will use every bit of the glorified Earth for our Celestial nourishment, and are no longer required to rid ourselves of ineffectual, bodily waste.
After washing my hands thoroughly with soap, I unclamped my tube of toothpaste and set about to scrub my teeth clean of the previous night’s decay. Oh how I enjoy the brisk sensation of a fresh mouth in the morning! I can almost feel those nasty tooth bugs being vanquished away, like sin. I like to imagine that with each brush I am casting the devil from my teeth saying, “Get thee hence. Get thee hence.” If cleanliness is next to Godliness, I shall be next to him in no time! I have never had a cavity in my life, and I bear testimony to you that if you will but follow the simple guidelines we have been given, you too can be minty-fresh and cavity-free.
Next, I dressed in modest clothes, exactly as I had laid them out the night before, and after an hour of scripture reading and prayer, I broke my nightly fast with a hard boiled egg and half an English muffin, the perfect compliment to what was starting out to be the perfect day.
Pardon me for intruding upon the flow of my journal’s narrative, but I feel that I must interject at this point and elaborate upon by morning scripture studies for those of you who are at this point merely novice scriptorians. My morning study consists of twenty-five minutes in the Book of Mormon, twenty minutes in the New Testament, ten with the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price (whichever way the Spirit guides me), and the last five I spend in my white missionary instruction booklet, as it gives me strength and a renewed desire to serve each day to my highest potential.
The highlight of my Book of Mormon study is currently 2nd Nephi. It is plain and precious, and is my favorite book in all the scriptures. I must note that I deeply resent the many jokes I hear about it from others less in tune with eternal things and I caution you to keep in remembrance what happened to the Lamanites when they mocked and scorned and rejected the purity of God’s word.
In the New Testament I am highlighting all of the words uttered by our Savior, and spend my time committing them to memory. I am also blackening out all of the words not confirmed in the Joseph Smith translation. Next week I will be starting on Paul.
The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price is particularly interesting to me. As of late as I have been fasting in an effort to translate facsimile #2. I would that I could share with you what has been revealed to me thus far, but I feel it is sacred, and (please take this in the spirit in which it is given) I fear casting my pearls before swine (nothing personal, it’s just that if you were ready to know these truths, God would have revealed them to you already). Do not despair. The process of personal discovery is a necessary step along the path we should trod towards eternal perfection, and I would hate to rob you of those blessings and become a stumbling block or a cuss and a by-word to you. That should suffice. Back to my Journal.
By 7:00 am, a time in which most of the world still indulges in the vain slothfulness of slumber, I was already well into my day. It is a shame that the Lord’s University of Brigham Young does not offer classes any earlier than 7:00. I suppose I will just have to wait until that great millennial day to truly begin my eternal studies at a pace that best fits with my desire to learn the words of God. Having attended my Old Testament and Book of Mormon classes, I took a break between 9:00 and 9:50 to brush my teeth again. It was a vigorous scrub which nearly made up for the garbage I was about to receive in my 10:00 science class.
Today Professor Brundel continued his discussion on evolution, despite my many warnings against it. I still plan to report him to the Church board of education, and have already drafted my second letter to the General authorities on this matter. Professor Brundel simply refuses to accept the scriptures as fact. I hope I never have such little faith. I wish I didn’t have to take his class, but it is required. I suppose the Lord requires us to take such courses at His University because there must needs be opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:11). After all, where would our free agency be if the University only offered courses based on principals of truth?
After class I had an unfortunate and very disappointing encounter. As I was on my way to work, I bumped into Elder Snell, my 3rd companion just before I became DL. I said, “Hi, Elder Snell,” And he said, “Gee wiz Steve, we’re not on our missions anymore. Call me John now. Or better yet, don’t.” First of all, I don’t approve of that kind of language. Everyone knows that “Gee wiz” is a longer form of g**z, which is an abbreviation of Jesus, our Savior’s name in mortality, and the Lord clearly told Moses that using the Lord’s name in vain is one of the worst sins there is. Second, my name is Stephen, after the martyr in the Book of Act, not “Steve,” and everyone knows I prefer to go by “Elder Knudsen,” or at least “Brother Stephen.” Third, he was violating the dress code in more ways than one. He was wearing shorts that were well above his knee, he wasn’t wearing any socks (which isn’t actually in the honor code, but should be), and you could clearly see his ni**les through his shirt. I know that the “no ni**le points” admonition is directed towards the sisters, but it is just as offensive when that law is violated by the men. It’s like their poking out to the world saying, “Here I am! Here I am!” Disgusting. And finally, he was still upset with me for what happened the other night. This experience has already been recorded in a previous journal entry, but I feel it appropriate to recount it again here.
The other night, as I was leaving the library, I saw Elder John Snell making-out with a girl on campus. I don’t want to get graphic, but he had his hand placed squarely on the sm*ll of her back and I believe he was kissing with his t*ngue. Some people call this PDA, Public Display of Affection, but I think the A stands for something more descriptive of what it really is, and I could not allow this unsightly display of Atrocity to continue without severe reprimand. I approached Elder Snell, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “Elder Snell. Please remember who you are and what you stand for.” They stepped away. Quite appropriately, the sweet sister was a little embarrassed and appeared more than just a little penitent. For that I am grateful. But Elder Snell turned around quite belligerent and had the audacity to smile at me and say, “G**z, I’m sorry Steve, but how else do you expect me to fulfill my priesthood obligation of finding a wife?” He knows I hate being called Steve! And what nerve mingling the philosophies of men with scripture! Yes, I admit, every worthy Priesthood holder is dutifully bound to seek out an eternal companion. But it is equally well known (or at least it should be) that every worthy Priesthood holder should wait and not kiss his wife until after they are sealed over the alter in the temple. Elder Snell was clearly out of line, and knowingly so. He left me no choice, so, like Amulek to Zeezrom, I stood firm and quoted words of righteous admonition, in this case the words of President Kimball, which I have committed to memory, as follows:
“How like the mistletoe is immorality. The killer plant starts with a sticky, sweet berry. Once rooted, it sticks and grows a leaf, a branch, a plant. It never starts mature and full grown. It is always transplanted an infant. Nor does immorality begin in adultery or perversion. Those are full grown plants. Little indiscretions are the berries indiscretions like sex thoughts, sex discussions, passionate kissing. The leaves and little twigs are masturbation and petting and such, growing with every exercise.”
I reminded Elder Snell of his CTR ring and the problems he had had with little twigs in the mission field. He asked who was I to lecture him on this, to which I made it perfectly clear that I can still say with all honesty of heart that twigs and leaves have never been a problem for me. The righteous and the pure are sanctioned to throw stones. I further reminded Elder Snell that he should be preparing for eternal marriage, and his responsibility as a protector of this sweet sister’s virtue, and that no one wants to eat a sandwich when someone before them has licked off all the butter. I encouraged them both to go home and repent before they lost any more of their butter. The wicked take the truth to heart, and he was naturally upset, but I cannot apologize for representing the word of God and I refuse to be ashamed that everything I do is right.
After leaving Elder Snell, I hurried off to work, where I changed into my suit and tie as usual and began going about my many important duties. I love the MTC so much! Each day I worked there was such an uplifting experience, and I will never forget what a wonderful time that was in my life. I had to quit, of coarse, because I felt that I had as much to offer to the rest of the world as I did to the outgoing missionaries. The brethren there didn’t see eye-to-eye with my inspired revisions of the missionary discussions. I am constantly reminded, however, that I must be patient with those around me. My suffering is not yet as Job. So after leaving the MTC I decided it was important to share my testimony with as many people as possible, and the McDonalds drive-thru window seemed the perfect place, for each day I see the many of the meek and humble — the very salt of the earth. “Wherewith shall they be salted” you may ask? I give them extra salt with their fries so they won’t lose their savor. That’s my little joke.
After work I went to the library on campus to study. It disappoints me that the library stays open until the witching hour of midnight. “Early to bed, and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I choose not to support the library in its less-than-appropriate selection of hours, so I study only until 7:00 p.m. I study hard. I can’t wait to be a seminary teacher. What a great profession to choose! It will make the transition much easier for me when I am called to a high position of Leadership in the Church.
On my way home from the library I had a truly wonderful experience. I was approached an angelic messenger from the Lord. He was clean cut, shaven, and had a very appropriate disposition. It was not difficult for me to judge that this was a messenger from God, but just in case I recalled the following church teachings, which I have committed to memory and prepare to put in practice each day:
THERE are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not yet resurrected, but will inherit the same glory. When a messenger comes, saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and ask him to shake hands with you. If he be a resurrected angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message. If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him. These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.
I think it is good that the Prophet gave this instruction for members of the church who don’t have a keen sense of discernment unto themselves, like on my mission when, I had a run-in with the evil spirit that was possessing the body of Elder Woolstenhulm. It was giving him such convulsions that I held him down until he stopped frothing at the mouth, and I cast that spirit into outer darkness by the means whereby we have been instructed. I still don’t believe the doctors who diagnosed Elder Woolstenhulm with epilepsy. Elder Woolstenhulm was not a faithful missionary – he slept-in everyday until 6:15! How could doctors, in their limited understanding, know all those fits were brought on by evil spirits as a result of his unrighteousness? I have experienced it many times before. I know what evil feels like!
So there I was, face to face with this angel, who I already could tell was a good one. Still, I determined to ask him to shake my hand, but felt I ought to do it in a clever way, just to be safe. So, I asked him who he had been in his mortal life, thinking that he must have been someone great, like Moroni, or Lincoln, and then I would say, “Hello Mr. Lincoln, very nice to meet you,” and reach out to shake his hand in a more natural way. Unfortunately, when I asked who he had been, he stammered and said, “Bob.” It threw me for a moment, so I decided to ask him what good things he had done in mortality to warrant his position as a ministering angel. Then I could congratulate him with a hand-shake. But when I asked, he told me, “nothing, I died before being baptized at age of eight.” Undaunted, I asked question after question, until he finally stopped me and said, “you’re trying to shake hands with you, aren’t you.” He reached out and shook my hand. I was so embarrassed I don’t even remember what it felt like, but I’m sure it sure felt pretty neat.
Next thing I knew we were flying through the night sky. It was an exhilarating feeling. It kind of tickled, but in a good, non-twig-like kind of way. Finally we stopped in a large heavenly classroom with an over-sized crystal chalk board. He still used regular chalk, but it didn’t squeak when you pressed down too hard, and it never broke. There I received several hours worth of training that I unfortunately cannot reveal, such as the fact that dinosaurs were real, the forbidden fruit wasn’t an apple – it was an Avocado, Noah actually had a fleet, woman really are kind of equal to men, and the Lost Tribes of Israel are the Scandinavians, who were never really were lost; they’ve only been pretending.
Bob then brought me back to the library and wished me a peaceful night’s sleep. I thanked him and he started to leave, then stopped and paused a moment. He told me that he really liked my cologne, and said, “By the way, Bigfoot is really Cain. He’s still alive you know.” And then he was gone. What a vision! They’re getting better and more informative all the time.
When I got home, my roommates were watching T.V. They must have found out where I hid it. Oh well, all I can do is be an example for them. As the saying goes, you can take the man out of the church, but you can’t take bologna away from a really hungry toad. I shut the door to my room, put in my earplugs, said my prayers, and am writing in my journal at this very second! The clock says 8:07 pm, a few minutes later than I usually go to sleep, but I just have so much to be thankful for and I would rather sacrifice a few minutes of precious slumber than break a commandment and skimp on my Journal. I am going to bed now. What a glorious day this has been. I’ll write again tomorrow. Good night.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that this Journal entry may become to you what it has to me, and what I hope it will someday be to my children: my personal set of scriptures. If you would like to contact me, I would be more than happy to share more of my experiences with you. Maybe we could even become friends. I think that would be highly appropriate. You can contact me at 376-8521 or just stop by Villa University Terrace at Ridgemont #7. Ask for Stephen. And as a side note, please don’t call me Steve. I was named after Stephen, who, in the New Testament saw Christ on the right hand of the Father as he gazed into the sky, so I prefer my full name to be used rather than the more common, vulgar short cut. I’m sure you understand. Thank you.
Your servant in Christ,
Stephen Erastus Knudsen III