Jack & Lucky Chapter 13, Part 2

Jack & Lucky Chapter 13, Part 2

Chapter index

Chapter 13, Part 2

back to Part 1

The two missionaries had gotten well acquainted with the house lady by now. She even taught them how to make real, authentic Italian dishes.

After watching the missionaries cook she suggested, “I could teach you to use dry Marsala wine in spaghetti sauce with just the right amount of garlic, oregano, and the rest. This knowledge could be very useful if you want to attract a beautiful girl to be your wife. You might have to cook for her.” She laughed and enjoyed teasing these clumsy youth. She gave them a list of ingredients to purchase.

When they returned with their stuff in the evening she gave them each an apron and took them through the ritual step by step.

“First you start with olive oil in the pan until it’s hot. Chop a whole onion and let it simmer, don’t let it get too hot.”

Jack chopped the onion trying not to cry without succeeding. He hadn’t learned the technique of breathing through his teeth. She just laughed.

Springer sliced and pealed the garlic cloves under the close supervision of the Signora.

“Now you put the oregano in, and marjoram, and rosemary and sage. You can vary these spices and create different subtle effects. Some people like more or less garlic.”

“I like lots of garlic.” Jack was keeping in the spirit.

“How does this look?” Elder Springer was proud of the nice thin slices of garlic he had produced after about ten minutes effort.

“Those are great. Do we put those in now?”

“Yes anytime at the beginning.” The Signora was stirring the intoxicating oil and spices using a wooden spoon with a confident dexterity. The volatile combination filled the room with a pungent, exciting fragrance.

“If you want meat in your sauce, you put that in now and cook it until it is just brown.” They did. They had purchased some lean ground beef just for that purpose. “That will make `sugo machinata or alla bolognese’ when you add the meat.”

“Sure, I knew that,” Jack suggested, thinking back to all the restaurant menus he had long since memorized and forgotten.

“Now add the tomato paste and chop up these Roma tomatoes. They are the best kind for sauce.”

“I can do that.” Springer got to work on the chopping and Jack fussed with the tomato paste. It wasn’t as easy as you might suppose to extract all the paste out of the small can. He added water to rinse out the can as he scrapped the inside diligently. Getting the tomato paste out of the can was arguably the most difficult part of making good spaghetti.

“You need extra water because when it is cooked off, and the sauce is thick, then the sauce will be done.”

“When do we add the wine.” Jack was being risque using wine against the Mormon standards. But, of course, when the wine was cooked there was no longer any alcohol present.

“Always wait until last when the sauce is thick and just let it simmer. Then add the wine to give the sauce a mellow flavor. Always use dry Marsala, it imparts the best flavor to the sauce. Just use about this much, it doesn’t take much to make the flavor mellow.” She handed Jack a small glass just a little bigger than a whiskey shot glass.

“Sure that looks easy. At that rate the wine in the bottle will last a long time.” Jack opened the new bottle and poured out just the right amount and added it to the red simmering potion. He stirred gently with the wooden spoon and salivated as the flavor teased his hunger. The magic combination of just the right ingredients was obviously creating a great, tantalizing sauce.

“Now just let it simmer, never too hot so it doesn’t scorch. Now you can start the water boiling for the spaghetti. Add a little oil so it doesn’t stick and some salt to help the flavor. Don’t add the spaghetti until the water boils hot. Leave it boiling and stir it several times. You have to taste it after ten minutes or so to make sure you don’t over-cook it. You want it to be `al dente’ just cooked firmly. Not all watered down with a flat taste.”

“I didn’t know cooking spaghetti could be so complicated.” Springer was taking in all the details like the scientist he was.

“This is a talent that will make you famous in Utah Springer.”

“It’ll probably make me three hundred pounds too.” He had been gaining weight lately.

When all the ingredients were ready, the three feasted on the gourmet combination that is possibly the most natural, healthy dinner in the universe. This is how you elevate simple cooking to an art form.

Later Jack decided that if he developed a religion it would have a process of Communion that involved cooking spaghetti just so and eating it in a ritual supper. It was a much more natural way to celebrate the art and mystery of nature and life. He might alternate this with occasionally cooking rice and oatmeal with the same sense of pattern and ritual.

That wasn’t just a trivial thought because he had spent considerable time since the first of the year wondering how he could lead his life if he left religion. What was the logic he should employ? What conduct was virtuous and how should one determine “good” and “bad?”

Many philosophers had spent considerable effort and never did arrive at firm conclusions. That effort frustrated the lives of thinking people more than it helped. They worried these issues to death without developing a practical way to help themselves, or anyone else, live from day to day.

Jack had read some of these essays: Bertrand Russell, G.E. More, A.J. Ayer and R.M. Hare among others. He had found a book by a certain Ludwig Wittgenstein, “The Blue and Brown Books,” at the American Library in Firenze. It seemed to shed some light on the way the mysteries of philosophy were created by the way people looked at these issues. But it didn’t suggest any practical formulae for daily life.

That seemed to be a large part of what Religion was about: helping people from the time of their pre-cognitive effort as children to function and enjoy a constructive life. What was there to replace that? Atheists thrived and benefited from the underlying assumptions of a moral society which they might argue against, but they don’t replace these. They call it intuition or a natural inclination to do good. What should be credited to religion?

Jack would have to develop something, some solution. He had come to this conclusion gradually during the meditative periods in Pisa while listening to Bach organ music. Listening to this repetitive organ music was like a wake for his loss of connection to religion. This separation now seemed inevitable, but that realization had not made it to the front of his mind. He would be working on a replacement during the next several months, often under the surface of his other work.

During the Spring Semester, Julie’s life became seriously more complicated. When she returned from Christmas break, she moved into one of those cooperative living situations where she could cook. This meant she also moved into a different Ward since all the campus housing at The BYU was also divided into Ward groups for religious purposes.

She had discussed the situation regarding Jack with several of her new roommates. They advised her to go talk to the Bishop about this issue. Jack’s religious problem was important to her and she needed to get her feelings straight on the subject.

When she finally called the Bishop he said he couldn’t really see her for several weeks for any non-emergency issues. He was a student too and was simply too busy, but his Second Counselor was just as qualified to discuss such matters, and would she mind terribly contacting him?

Julie did call him and made an appointment to visit Brother Wayne Conklin the next Sunday between services. He suggested they meet in the church foyer after Sunday School.

After the final prayer, Julie waited in the foyer looking for Brother Conklin who had been identified for her during the service.

“Are you Sister Julie Goodfield?” said the soft spoken, rather tall young man.

“Ya.” Julie was a little taken back. He was quite handsome, better looking close-up than from a distance in the Chapel. “Ah…” They looked at each other for a clumsy moment without speaking. Julie broke the silence: “Thanks for taking time to talk to me. Did you go on a mission?”

“Yes I did. I went to Norway. The weather there was about the same as here. Of course now I speak Norwegian too and that will certainly help me in my accounting profession,” he laughed self-consciously at his own attempt at humor.

Julie laughed politely. “He even has a sense of humor,” she thought to herself involuntarily.

“You’re studying to be an accountant?” she asked.

“Yes, I have two more years until I graduate. Enough about me; you seemed concerned over the phone?”

“It’s just that I’m a little concerned about my friend Jack Lincoln who is on a mission in Italy.” She referred to him casually as just a friend…

Another treat for the missionaries that counted for work was the occasional visit to The Church Members who were attached to the nearby military airbase. One American family was the Kohls. Captain Jim Kohl was a hospital administrator and worked in the small clinic located at this equally small Air Force Base. He explained to both elders that if they ever wanted to go into the military they should try to get in as Medical Service Corps officers and work as he did in the Hospital. It was worthwhile duty, a useful experience and it would probably keep them out of combat.

Along with this good advice, they treated the elders to some very good “American” pizza in a nearby restaurant that catered to military personnel. Jack wrote:

American members in the military are great solaces to missionaries.

June 20th. Jack was still trying to work.

More tracting. This morning my comp assumed that I was being `uncivil’ to him when I tried to get him up, and he refused to cooperate. I went to get another companion. Even though I may not have the proper spirit, I’m going to fulfill my commitment. I couldn’t find anyone to work with me so I came back to the apartment. After some discussion we settled the problem and resumed our work which we continued all day. It’s very hard, but I will persist.

Jack was playing mind games with himself. He could be obstinate whichever way he was headed.

Ten days later he wrote:

This last week has gone by slowly and arduously. I have put in over 40 hours/week the last few weeks. Nothing has been happening too spectacular. I just finished reading `Grapes of Wrath‘ by John Steinbeck, interesting. I’m not in much of a writing mood now. This work is quite depressing. We’re tracting a lot, we even taught some.

This is surely prima facie evidence of Jack’s incivility.

Two more weeks of work followed that.

Things have been going along normal enough. It has been four weeks in a row that I’ve been doing the `WORK.’ Doing more and enjoying it less. I’ve had several interesting discussions with a Professor Del Sordo and his family. He has given me a two volume set of Latin Grammar and in addition a five volume set of Italian history in exchange for a “Book of Mormon” and a thorough explanation of The Church.

This kind gentleman had a serious but strictly academic interest. He was one of the leaders in an effort to have a local Saint accepted by the Vatican. He wasn’t exactly a good candidate for conversion.

There are two boys who are studying with us. They have a baptismal date set for the 3rd of August. Their father may be baptized later as well. I even went to the beach with them a week ago and broke another missionary rule — I did some swimming. It was fun too. We went to the movie together this last Thursday night. They’ve had four lessons. They might make it.

Jack had made friends with Tonino and Frederico, but they probably didn’t really understand the entire implication of what he was trying to teach them. Tonino was only sixteen and his brother probably twelve. They did make good friends, though.

This last week I’ve been working with Elder Cox. My comp doesn’t want to work any more. He leaves in a few weeks. We are still living in this apartment, it’s good enough. But it has been hotter than hell is apparently supposed to be. We close our doors to keep out mosquitos and lay on our beds and sweat. I’m so tired from working that I sleep well. All last week I got up at 6:00 and six times I got to bed by 10:30.

Jack was making a decent effort at regulating his life by missionary rules.

His idea went like this: He was obstinately working himself — discipline, which he thought might be the key to obtaining desire, which is the key to belief, which gives access to faith, which opens up to knowledge, which is the basis for a Testimony, which is required in order to receive the Holy Ghost, which is a pre-requisite for having a spiritual experience, which would give him inspiration, which would help him be consistent, which would regulate his life and give him self-discipline, which would maintain his desire — putting him back to where he started. He was stacking the dominoes one at a time and trying to slowly work back to where he had been at the beginning of his Mission.

At the same time, in the back of his mind, Jack was planning his exit and revolution against religious dogmatism. Talk about internal stress. The entire intellectual, international debate about religion, relevance, Western philosophy, commune life, free love, new age teachings — all the information from nearly two years of Time Magazines — was tumbling in this active, tortured mind and being made into mortar for building a new system of thinking. This was still the ’60’s after all. Jack was part of a generation of people with the conceit that they could, nay, should plan their own lives outside of orthodox religions.

Even beyond that, not all was well.

Another significant event in these past few weeks is the lack of correspondence from Julie. She hasn’t written for four weeks. It is ironic that she is the reason why I’m working in part, but she hasn’t written during the period of my commitment. Ya! That’s real funny! If I don’t laugh I might cry. Not really. But, needless to say I hope she writes soon. She doesn’t appreciate my low spirituality. Neither do I much, but I have to live with it. She doesn’t and is apparently taking the necessary steps to sever our relationship. She is probably building up the courage or waiting for me to do it for her which will happen if I don’t receive a letter before August. That will give me something to do when I get back to The BYU. That is, look for another girl.

I’m going to take my time. I don’t want to get married too soon. Maybe never! Who knows? I may live a life of fornication and hilarity. But that is immature and besides that’s against The Church standards.

Jack was already beginning to prepare himself for the evaporation of his love relationship with Julie. But that didn’t mean he would be ready, it just meant he could intellectually understand.

I’ve read several different books lately. I’ve received several spirited letters from family members urging me to perform properly. I’ve responded mostly evasively. But, I suspect evasion is better than nothing. That’s enough for now. I’ll write again soon.

These past few weeks have passed rather painlessly. The week ending the 20th of July I worked the 40 hours — with some time allotted to inefficiency and such. But this last week I didn’t do quite so well because my one month commitment had expired and I didn’t want to work as much as I did. I’ve proved to myself that I’m not lazy. I am in control of my physical actions.

Also, I had three weeks straight of getting up at 6:00 (with one day as exception.) We’ve tracted considerably; never was it pleasant. I worked with Elder Woods in the mornings. He is kind of effeminate and pseudo-sophisticated, but other than that he’s okay. And in the afternoons I’ve worked with Elder Cox; he is somewhat queer and disoriented, sloppy and slightly crude. But, he has an interesting, provocative sense of humor. I don’t have the most chaste humor myself.

All in all, I get along well with these two guys, much better than with Elder Springer. He has become totally recalcitrant and completely lazy. I won’t analyze him, but I think he is neurotic at least. I haven’t purchased any books lately. I’ve been budgeting my money judiciously. I’m saving a used book fund for when I get transferred so I can stop off in Napoli and make some purchases — sounds fun.

Julie still hasn’t written. It has been six weeks and then some. A long time, to say the least. I have officially told her I would never marry her. She has given me the opportunity to be honest first. I still think I have a sentiment toward her which must be akin to love, but one can never know for sure about these things. I’ve concluded that she has dumped me, and so to help her out, I verified my willingness to divide interests. Now she won’t have to write and tell me. Which she probably won’t do anyway. Oh well! I’m resigned to losing her.

Jack’s decision to say goodbye, had to do with his unspoken realization that he would be leaving The Church once his mission time in Italy was over. Now he wasn’t even trying to find ways to gain a testimony, in spite of all that about stacking dominoes. According to his Journal, he was trying to plan his life outside of organized religion.

July 15, 1968. Again it has been some time since I’ve written in this journal…Now I’m going to include some ideas and sayings that I have created and written during the past while. There is no special order, not necessarily chronological, nor contextual. But I will begin with a thought on `Concentration’.

I stated: Concentration is a response to a degree of challenge, or excitement.

The reason I thought of this is, I feel lacking in a control of my concentrative powers and usually the only times I think consistently or read for long periods of time is when my interest is aroused. I would hope to have a better control over this element of my mind. Sometimes I wish to have some information from a book but can’t force myself to continue because it is too boring. I require a motivation of some kind, like that experienced the night before an essay is due and I haven’t started it yet. Then my powers seem phenomenal. I have finished several books strictly out of will-power in hopes to discipline myself, and thus make Concentration more at my control. But, as of yet, I haven’t succeeded to any great degree.

Without knowing it Jack is explaining his reaction to losing Julie and the tumble of other issues in his mind. This emotional trauma was affecting him without his being able or willing to acknowledge it. When he was trying to read he would frequently drift off into day dreams about many different subjects and certainly she would be in many of those thoughts. He would read a dozen pages of text with his eyes moving normally and turning pages and not remember a single word of what he read. He didn’t make the connection or see her absence as the source of his problem, but that, along with the dissonance he suffered about his work and religious life were compounding to make it difficult for him to concentrate.

Now I’ll turn to another idea that goes like this: `If one doesn’t influence the lives of others he lives alone.

I like this because it gives me license to say things, emotional, significant things to people which I might otherwise not do for fear of being domineering. I thought of this in connection with missionary work. In doing missionary work one must try to influence others. This should also be applied to other aspects of life. You should have enough confidence in your philosophies and in the consistency these philosophies have in your actions, so that you would not hesitate sharing them with others. And thus, you are being responsible for their motivation, if not their actions. You would feel comfortable and justified with respect to the integrity of your personality. If we are afraid to have others do the same things we do, then we shouldn’t do them.

Jack was falling further under the influence of Immanuel Kant, one of those philosophers Jack studied briefly; the `categorical imperative.’ A very strict, Germanic, determination was taking over where the sensitivity of his personality found life painful and retracted from the hurt he had experienced. He was both steeling himself against future disappointments and expressing a boyish arrogance about `helping’ other people…

If you are afraid to convince someone else of accepting your point of view, then you should look to modify that point of view until it becomes logically consistent. When you feel free about sharing it with others it ought to be right for yourself. And thus we can make an influence upon the attitudes of history if we are confident and if we decide to live with people by sharing our ideas freely.

Another thought: The study of history should make one contemplate the immortality [perishability] of humanity.

Since that goes contrary to my religious `beliefs’ and certainly will involve religious ramifications in accordance with my resolve to give up on religion, it deserves elaboration. I have thought of writing several books. One of which would deal with this problem [about believing] along with others. A possible topic: `Philosophical thought as viewed from the Deistic position: presentation and refutation of atheistic thoughts.’ I include this here because I hope to remember it. If I were to approach this subject it would be by comparing the many other religious treatises written expressing the rationalizations of many people, and how they found themselves converted. The more I think of this the more interesting it becomes.

Jack viewed Philosophy and the History of Philosophy as obscure and interesting. That is often the case with those who know precious little about a subject. The more he studied, the more he learned, the more theories he wove. He moved from a conviction in religion to a fascination and affection for philosophy as a surrogate to religion. This is a tentative island of ideas.

I would explain — desire to believe — has always been an essential factor in religious conversions. (But that is by no means yet established.) This would be my opening premise in the philosophical field… I have set my goal now to be a philosopher…

On to Chapter 13, Part 3
Chapter index

Book of Abraham
Book of Mormon
Church History
Joseph Smith
Following Mormons
Thinking Mormons
In The Media
What’s New
Link Here