Day of rest. We had a Stake Conference. Elder Costa from the Presidency of the Seventy came and spoke. Among many other things he told us about the sacrifices that the members of the Church in Brazil make to go to the temple. They have to work and save for a year or more, and then will sell some of their property as well to pay for the trip. The Provo mission president and his wife spoke as well. They are from Rochester, NY and are serving here for three years. They are converts and joined the Church shortly after they had gotten married. When the sister missionaries came to the door, he asked them to explain to him in one sentence why he should listen to them. One of the sisters was able to condense it to one word - authority.
Interestingly enough, later that evening I was participating in the ward missionary visits, and we met a couple that moved to our neighborhood from California not too long ago. While I was explaining the concept of authority I ran into an interesting obstacle. The man believed that Joseph Smith indeed saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, was ministered to by angels, and in truth translated the Book of Mormon by divine means, but even after a thorough (or at least I thought so) explanation still could not see how it would follow from that that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint would in that case become the only one with the authority to baptize. I suppose I can understand the emotions behind it. When somebody says he has seen an angel, you do not want to question his experience at first, hey, why not? When you realize this means you have to make significant changes in your life that involve work and sacrifice, there are three different paths you could take. a) Verify for yourself if his experience was authentic, and if it turns out to be so make those changes, otherwise do not worry about it b) Enter the perpetual question mode - what about this, what about that? - so you do not have to accept the authenticity of the experience while at the same time excusing yourself from the work to find out if it was true, and c) Enter the logical disconnect mode accepting the authenticity of the experience while denying that you have to do something about it. Back 50 years ago the missionaries mostly saw either a) or b), but lately with the arrival of political correctness and other garbage related to it, c) is becoming a more common response.
What I am wondering about is how much of what 50 years ago would have been a big positive a) has now become a lame c) due to the general reduction in the willingness to make commitments and sacrifices.