I had lost touch with Aha, whom most people know as one of the Three Nephites, those lucky gentlemen granted immortality by Jesus when he visited Zarahemla here in America soon after he was crucified overseas. The last time I sat down for a chat with Aha was a couple of years ago when he was working the phones for the Mitt Romney campaign (“I thought the guy was a putz, but, hey, I needed some extra cash,” Aha told me at the time.) With all the furor over the recent Big Love episode in which Barb gets an endowment refresher in the Salt Lake Temple, I thought it would be instructive to get Aha’s take on the whole matter, given his long association with the True Church.
Aha is not always the easiest guy to locate, given the fact that he is constantly on the move. Furthermore, he doesn’t have a Social Security number or a driver license.
“I did drive one of the first horseless buggies made by Henry Ford, but the novelty soon wore off,” Aha said. “Anyway, I’m in no hurry to get anywhere, and I enjoy hitchhiking whenever I need to get somewhere.”
A Google search on Aha wasn’t much help. It turned up a reference or two to him as son of Zoram and brother of Lehi in the Book of Mormon, but that was it. On a whim, I tried Facebook, and to my surprise and delight, there was my old friend Aha. Within minutes, we had arranged to meet for coffee at the Oasis Café where, I learned, Aha occasionally does some psychic readings. Aha had put on a few pound since the last time we got together, but with his jet-black hair and swarthy complexion (there have always been rumors that he had some Lamanite blood), he was still immediately recognizable.
Deep End: Looks like you’re getting enough to eat these days.
Aha: I go up and down. For a few hundred years during the Dark Ages, I was a real beanpole. But I’ve got to cut down on the carbs.
Deep End: So, what’s your take on this Big Love controversy? Did you see the show with the scene in the temple?
Aha: I’m a big fan of the show, and I have to say, it’s a tempest in the teapot—or, as we used to say in Zarahemla, “a maelstrom in a mason jar,” which doesn’t do justice to the expression in the original Reformed Egyptian.
Deep End: Weren’t you offended?
Aha: Listen, at my age, I’ve seen every thing. My advice to the Brethren is to drop the whole secret temple stuff. For more than 150 years, I’ve been telling them to lose the temple ceremonies, the hats and veils and green aprons, the handshakes and secret names, the whole kit and caboodle.
Deep End: But you’re talking about something very sacred.
Aha: Sacred, schmacred. We didn’t have any of that stuff in the old days. For one thing, it was just too damned hot to wear the various items of apparel during our temple rites—which, by the way, were open to anybody. You’ve seen the paintings in the modern temple of how we dressed 2,000 years ago, and, for the most part, the pictures are pretty accurate, though our loincloths were a lot skimpier. I’ll tell you what really bugs me—it’s that the Nephites look like freaking Norwegians. The modern church seems to forget that we were Hebrews, for Chrisssake!
Deep End: Be careful. You’ll get yourself excommunicated.
Aha: They can’t touch me. Jesus himself promised me eternal life, and I’ve got his handshake on it—and not one of those secret fraternity sign-of-the-nail handshakes, either.
Deep End: Maybe the Brethren will wise up and give the secret ordinances the galosh. After all, they’ve dropped the bloody oaths and some of the touchings and washings and anointings.
Aha: Not on your life. But if they insist on the ceremonies, the best thing they could do is make them public. Look at some of the Catholic rituals, like transubstantiation. Just as farfetched as the Mormon stuff, but, because it’s out in the open, no one really objects. If you want folks to think something’s really weird, keep it secret, like the modern Mormons do.
Deep End: Well, gotta go. Thanks for your time, Aha.
Aha: Don’t mention it. I have all the time in the world.