‘Shrooming: A Guest Post by Matt Bean

Summertime living in the often-humid and thunderstorm-prone Midwest, it’s a constant battle between me and all of the mushrooms sprouting up on our lawn: Who’s going to win? Taking them out is a learned skill, applying gentle slow firm upward pressure down at the level of the grass, so you get the full length of the mushroom stem and it doesn’t break off buried in the grass instead. And the variety! The tall white ones are easy to find and easy to extricate, and I privately wonder How did this massive thing grow so big literally overnight? And the orange knobby slimy ones close to the ground? Ick. And all kinds in between. Some have solid stems and others have hollow stems. Unlike the tall white ones, many are small and like to hide themselves camouflaged in the grass. They’re insidious. Still, if I’m not vigilant, I know their population will quickly, well, mushroom out of control and make things much worse. (Trust me: I’ve seen this tragic hostile takeover occur on other neighborhood lawns.) They’re like Pokémon: “Gotta catch ‘em all!”

To me, mushrooms on my plate or on my pizza are delightful. (I know not everyone feels the same way.) Mushrooms on my lawn, on the other hand, are a sin.

You can see where this is going. We get to be ever vigilant to find and remove the great variety of sins Satan would love to see sprout and overrun our very lives. Some are easily apparent, and others are much more subtle and harder to identify. Some are seemingly innocent and innocuous, and others are unmistakably slimy and noxious. But they all need to go before they proliferate and completely take over.

And we want to root them out completely and not leave any part of them still buried in the ground. Elder Bruce R. Hafen, in a Nauvoo Stake Conference meeting some years ago, explained how we like to “mow” our favorite sins, knowing deep down they’ll grow back eventually because we’re not quite yet ready to truly and permanently let them go. (After all, they are our favorites!) Instead, what we must seek is a transformation of who we are, so we may ask as Nephi asked, “Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?” (2 Nephi 4:31) and the desire for the sin is no longer a part of our heart’s landscape, but a non-issue.

I don’t shake at the appearance of mushrooms … but I know it’s time to get to work if I want my lawn to be fungus-free. And repent, if I want my life to become similarly unspotted.

Matt Bean

About Matt & Becky Bean: “After completing a Church service mission as addiction recovery group leaders for the Nauvoo Stake a year-and-a-half ago, our lives have taken some new turns in the last couple months: I was called into my first-ever Bishopric, and Becky was called into her first-ever Relief Society Presidency — as the President, no less! We are theatre practitioners and educators: I’m a university professor and Becky runs the costume shop at a small college nearby. Just a couple weeks ago on November 27, we celebrated our 100th anniversary! (100 months, that is; 8 years, 4 months for the non-mathematically inclined.) I don’t have a blog, but as you can see, the attached essay was penned just five months ago. Enjoy — and yes, we love our MMM/TWS!”

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  1. I promise this is nice but would bring up one point. Mushrooms grow from huge underground systems. Basically it’s usually pretty hard to totally get rid of them. I’ve studied them a lot because I’m from Alaska and they are definitely a big thing here. This does not ruin the analogy though because sin is there all the time waiting to grow if we give in to temptation. Side note: there is a difference between mushrooms that are poisonous and some are just “inedible”–they won’t kill you, they just taste horrible. The funniest one is edible (I think it tastes a little bit like dirt) and is called an inky cap–however the common designation is “alcohol inky”. You can eat it with no problem UNLESS you drink alcohol, then you will get REAL sick and basically poisoned.

  2. I am a BIG fan of Brother Hafen’s ability to concisely interpret gospel subjects so I can understand them.

  3. Excellent analogy!! The only question I have is, do you realize the pictured mushrooms are the deadly poisonous Amanita Bisporigera? Better known as the Destroying Angel, it is very important to wash your hands well after pulling them up! Wearing gloves would be even better to prevent transmission of mushroom parts into your food

    1. I sent Brad the essay, and he chose the photo. I thought it was evocative, but I didn’t know how much!

        1. Whew! I was worried the picture was a foto of the type mushrooms you had been pulling up. Glad to learn it wasn’t

  4. As a fellow lover of ‘shrooms on pizza (with black olives, of course), I have to wonder – how do the edible mushrooms fit into your analogy? There’s got to be a way…

    Great contribution!

  5. Great analogy…I learn very well with these kind of stories and I am sure others can relate!

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