As a gawky junior high kid, I loved MIA firesides. Dressing up and checking out guys from beyond my ward boundary was a cool way to spend Sunday evenings. As I advanced into high school, I enjoyed firesides less since they tended to dwell on chastity and I wasn’t having much opportunity to practice dating let alone restraint of passion. So I gave up on firesides until I qualified for those aimed at Young Marrieds.
Firesides (did we copy the name from FDR or was he copying us?) are an optional LDS meeting. Everyone is invited, but, unlike Sunday block meetings, it’s not a duty to attend. I like having the agency to choose my meetings. If Chieko Okasaki is speaking, I’ll forego Desperate Housewives to hear what she has to say. If the speaker is Sheri Dew, I’ll stay home. I already know my divine role on earth is motherhood.
Voting with my feet has always been my way of registering disapproval. That is why the Harry Reid fireside incident disturbs me. Apparently, a LV stake presidency scheduled Brother Reid as a speaker on their “Why I Believe” series of stake firesides. A flood of angry protests ensued. Both the senator and the stake presidency who invited him were called evil minions of Satan and threatened. The fireside was cancelled due to safety concerns.
Why couldn’t church members who disagree with the senator’s politics have just stayed home? The fireside was not a political rally. It was an opportunity for Senator Reid to share his conversion story and bear his testimony. Why the fear that anyone who doesn’t share all our opinions is an enemy?
I wonder how people unable to see a church member of an opposing political party as a child of God treat family members who differ from their opinions. Is love for their spouse or child conditioned on adherence to correct political beliefs?
Drawing our circles to include only members of our own faith and members of our own political persuasion restricts our associates and our opportunities to learn and grow. And if we restrict our circle to members of our own party and church, what’s to keep us from tightening the circle to exclude people of different skin colors, different ethnic origins, different incomes, even different occupations? The circle could even constrict enough to exclude fans of different sports teams, drivers of different cars, owners of different styles of homes, non-home owners. The circle could shrink until it includes only the self. At that point, the circle becomes a noose. Shouldn’t church help us to expand our circles and keep us from choking ourselves off from the rest of humankind?