If the Lord Returned Today, Would We Hand Him a Razor?

LDS bishop

muttering mormon small


“Good morning, Bishop. I believe I had a ten o’clock appointment?”

“Yes, yes, brother. Please come in. Um…shut the door, please. Were you born in a barn?”

“Now that you mention it…”

“Anyhow Brother Jess…may I call you Jess?”

“It’s a little informal, I usually go by…”

“Jess it is, then. Jess, we are looking at referring your name to the Stake President as an Institute teacher.”

“Sounds like a wonderful calling.”

“Indeed, I think you have great potential as a teacher. But there are some criteria that apply to stake teachers that I need to review with you before sending your name up.”

“Sure. What rules are those?”

“Well, CES headquarters…”

“Is that in Quantico?”

“…er, Salt Lake, I’m pretty sure. Well, they have new dress and grooming requirements that might present a problem for us.”

“Really? I can’t imagine how.”

“Well, there is a desire to have people adopting the correct appearance in order to invite the Spirit. You know how the Spirit is. Won’t show up if people aren’t properly spiffy.”

“Don’t know about that. Have you ever considered the lilies of the field?”

“I don’t get outdoors much, actually. But I’d like to go through these with you just to make sure that you have the right spiritual look. Now, they expect your hair to be neatly combed. No real issue there, I guess. But have you always parted your hair in the middle that way?”

“At least since the Renaissance.”

“Right. But the length is a bit of a problem. Supposed to be off your collar.”

“Then we should be fine. I don’t have a collar.”

“Well, that gets us to the next issue. Shirts. I haven’t really seen you in one. Does your entire wardrobe consist of tunics and robes? Because robes really aren’t appropriate for Church. You wouldn’t wear a robe in the temple, would you?”

“Curiously enough…”

“Nope. We need to get you into a shirt and tie. And per instructions from HQ, it’ll need to be a white or light-colored shirt. Nothing drives out the Spirit like primary colors.”

“Has anyone informed the General Primary Presidency?”

“Different issue, Brother Jess. They are girls. The Spirit has no objection to bright colors when it comes to the girls. But white shirts are the uniform of the priesthood.”

“Very martial of us.”

“Exactly. Now then, there is the matter of the beard. You seem very persistent in wearing facial hair.”

“Not remotely my fault. I’m always drawn that way.”

“Well, we can’t be having that in Institute. Very detrimental to gospel learning. Can’t very well concentrate on the scriptures when you have a ratty old beard staring you in the face.”

“Haven’t a lot of the presidents of the Church had…”

“In black and white, Brother Jess. Black. And. White. I’m frankly tired of hearing about Lorenzo Snow every time this issue is raised. You need to look like the brethren. That’s the standard.”

“Not sure how closely they are following that rule in Relief Society…”

“Very well, actually. Have you seen Sister Stubble?”

“Honestly, I thought that was just a nickname.”

“Hardly. Woman shaves twice a day.”

“What about all of those paintings of prophets and apostles and such?”

“Different times, you know. Isaiah couldn’t very well sign up for the Dollar Shave Club, could he?”

“Suppose not. Are there any other changes I will be expected to make?”

“There is the matter of the sandals. Seriously, Brother. You’ve been tracking sand through the chapel ever since you moved to our ward. Have you given any thought to shoes?”

“Not so much. Is it really an issue?”

“Toes offend the Spirit, Brother.”

“But the sisters…”

“Again, girls. Why do you have to make this so difficult?”

“Sorry. I just wasn’t aware that one’s appearance made that much difference to teaching the gospel. Seems a little…superficial?”

“Are you questioning the Brethren?”

“Not really. Just trying to understand the rationale.”

“CES doesn’t need a rationale, Brother Jess. But it should be perfectly obvious, anyway. Do you really expect anyone to pay attention to anything you say while looking like you do?”

“Worked for the last two thousand years.”

“Hardly. Imagine how much good you could have done in a white shirt.”

“And a tie?”

“There you go! Getting the spirit of this thing, after all, no pun intended.”

“Fine. Short, combed hair. White or light shirt. Tie. Suit or sports coat?”

“Either will be fine.”

“Any opinion on pinstripes?”

“Nothing official, but I personally think they inject a bit too much levity into the classroom.”


“Let’s not be absurd. We’re trying to teach these young adults, not translate them.”

“And shoes.”


“Got it. Does that cover it.?”

“Well, there is the matter of the snacks.”

“I thought snacks were permitted.”

“They are. But fish and bread? Really?”

California Native. Texas lawyer. Long-time Mormon. Zen master wannabe. Confident that Mormonism is about more than casseroles and plodding music, and insisting that the Gospel isn't as hard as some people make it.