pd mallamo



There is the Law of Sacrifice, he thinks. In this he feels alone, though he knows of course that this is an illusion brought on by suffering no one else can see. (He also knows that the Law of Sacrifice is the direct precursor to the Law of Sublimation, which makes possible the kind civilization he craves.) Had he really loved his wife, or had she loved him, the Law may have been an option, though the use of such a word as “option” to describe a principle as holy as sacrament makes him uncomfortable. There are levels of sacrifice, he knows, and then there is the ultimate sacrifice, which is not your life but your soul. And once you have lost your soul, even to something as worthy as a wife and family, what is left? Maybe something a wife and family would not want or even recognize.

Crimson streams of football fans pass him and move slowly uphill to the stadium. Today Utah plays a power from the coast, a rare Friday game, and the city is electric. If the boys can win, Salt Lake will be on the map for at least a week.


When his father speaks to him, he does so from a distance, even if they are next to each other, which isn’t often. He has seen him talk like this with his other sons, too. It’s almost like an interview, these sessions. In his church sendoff on the eve of his mission, his father describes a young man recognized by everybody except the young man himself. Is this what I am, he wonders, a choice Son of God – but how can he know? And God is no better acquainted with me÷ than my father. Why, then, am I “choice”, if not through lineage only? His father’s sentiment was, he concluded, an artifact of station, something he was compelled to declare by virtue of this alone, which, among the faithful, amounted to something like a monopoly. “You,” he says softly to himself and smiles. “Hooray for our side.” Dad shares the Authorities’ magnificently simple view of human life and is convinced of the truth of revealed parameters, the Brethren’s or the Lord’s, they are the same. He is an intelligent, perceptive man who, with his Brother Authorities, is able to both comprehend and elucidate the iron law of the universe. He possesses an armature that makes his heart mysterious to his children, who will not acknowledge his isolating propriety even among themselves.

People love his father because he provides structure and order to lives otherwise foundering on life. Dad is faithful and obeys, as he himself is obeyed. He is highly placed on that ineluctable filament of authority that stretches from God the Father to the most despicable wretch on earth. Adam does not see himself anywhere on that line, and in some ways considers the Kingdom of God even weirder than Japan, which is, he knows from a Northwestern summer internship, very weird indeed. The Great Lie is hypocrisy; for Adam, the Kingdom of God exists somewhere between the speculations of Sigmund Freud and the visions of Joseph Smith and is therefore profoundly and absolutely unknowable, remote and impossible as utopia.


As he nears State and South Temple he begins to encounter the homeless and those who otherwise live the unbelievable lives of the American proletariat. Displaced Sioux and Arapaho wander past him and the stone buildings his kind have built, apparently still shaken and confused by the White Man’s bleak world, even after all this time6. A man sits on a lawn and combs his hair; another eats something from a brown paper bag, his eyes so deeply sunken they are hardly visible. His parent’s faces7 are seared by life among their own kind, these by energies less subtle, like sun, winter, fists, knifes, guns, deprivation, and disease. He reflects that at one time such unfortunates were the apprehension of Christ who exhorted people like his parents to love and to give, but this was before Jesus became preoccupied with evolution and stem cells. Such a strange Jesus, he thinks. How marvelous that my class can put things together so finely for themselves that they essentially have everything, yet still rule not only earth but heaven too.


Rain falls steadily as he approaches the Church Office Buildingτ. He closes his eyes to see Chicago by the lakes. He loves Chicago like he loves New York, both even more in dark weather.


÷ “Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! Behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither come there abominable flesh into my mouth.” Ezekiel 4:14
6 In Syracuse he has a cat, Chief Red Cloud, who occasionally attempts to leap from house roof to garage roof, and can be glimpsed through a kitchen window falling, sometimes upside down, sometimes spread-eagle like a flying squirrel, into the narrow hard alley below.
7 “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was sorrowful: for he was very rich.” St. Luke 18:22-23
τ “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” Isaiah 24:5

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