1999—The Big Bang and the Permanent
Contagion: Family History
Not until Valerie and I read (aloud, at bedtime) David Hackett Fischer’s definitive Paul Revere’s Ride did I understand the rôle of their late-Puritan/early-Congregational religion in inculcating in them a governing horror of oath-breaking. Having signed, as a prerequisite for citizenship, an Oath of Fidelity binding them to obey their militia captain, they saw few options, whatever their personal opinions.
Clip030TempleOH Then, in the waning years of the Second Millennium, my Church laid plans to build its hundredth Temple near the end of Appleton Street. In concert with the other stakes in the Temple District, the Boston Stake undertook “Project 2000” to identify the names of 2000 deceased ancestors to be placed in the cornerstone of the new Temple, so that they could receive vicarious service there, once completed.
Of this goal, our ward received its share, which our bishopric apportioned among the members of the congregation’s ward council. As it turns out, I was serving as Teacher Improvement Coordinator for the Arlington Ward, which made me a member of the Ward Council. So, I was suddenly blessed with an assignment to identify 35 dead family members who would qualify for temple ordinances. Not an unmanageable task, except that I’d never even tried to clear anybody for Temple work. And I remembered how very burdensome the system of forty years earlier had been for Mammy.

So, of course, I procrastinated. At Ward Council meeting after meeting, I would be the only one to have nothing to report on my bit of Project 2000. That got old. So, one rainy Sunday afternoon, I opened Mammy’s box of genealogy stuff, which I’d inherited when she died, in 1968. My eye fell on a fascinating name: Hepzibah Munroe Wheeler, a fifth great-grandmother.
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