Thursday, June 18, 2009

What I Know About David Archuleta's Dad

Once, when I was a missionary, someone started some rumors about me that spread like wildfire. Granted, they weren't libelous or salacious, but they did hurt my feelings. Then, I got a new companion, Hermana Taggart. And after spending a week with me, she got on the phone and put all the rumors to rest. Just like that. She called every single person involved and said, "That's not true. Charrette doesn't do that. She's not like that at all."

Beginning last night, the media has been all abuzz over Jeff Archuleta. And it's not pretty. But the media can't stand the idea that someone (David) could actually be that squeaky-clean, that happy, that good. So they call it pretense. A persona. A gimmick. And when given the opportunity, they latch onto anything negative and run with it.

I don't know what happened last January. I suspect nobody does, besides Jeff himself. And I don't really want to know. Because it makes me physically sick. And also because it's none of my business. But the media has suddenly made it everybody's business.

So, in the spirit of Hermana Taggart, I want to tell you what I DO know...
Because I've known Jeff Archuleta since, well, the day I was born. Our dads are best friends. And in college, so were we. We loved going to concerts together, watching movies together, and talking about things that run deep.

Jeff is a very talented jazz musician. We had the chance to perform together a couple of times, and his trumpet and flugelhorn put my piano to shame. He comes from a long line of talented performers.

He is smart. Off-the-charts smart.
And he's strong. He had some really tough growing-up years. And he somehow turned his life around and never looked back. He was stalwart. In fact, he was instrumental in my decision to serve a mission. Here's one example of something I learned from him:

When I was in college, Jeff came home from his mission eager to show me what he had learned in the 24th chapter of Luke. He’d have me read a verse, then ask what was happening. At first it seemed too simplistic:
So what’s happening here?
They’re walking down that road?
Okay, next verse. Now what happened?
They’re talking about Christ.
Good. What happens next?
Christ draws near.... (etc.)
He said, “Isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever read?”
I looked again. “Well, yeah, it’s cool that he comes to them right when they’re talking about him, and they don’t even know it. And I like the part where they burn inside and realize it was Him.”

“Look at it again”, he said. “When you break it down to simple subject-and-verb basics, this chapter becomes an exact outline of the steps to gaining a testimony. This is how it works.”

I looked again, tried to see what he was showing me, and suddenly saw with new eyes. Just like in those verses: “Their eyes were holden, that they should not know him.” And then all of the sudden I got it.

This chapter took on a rich meaning I’d missed before, and every verse came alive, pointing out how we come to know the Savior, and how that knowledge is manifest in our lives.
That basic subject-and-verb, what I like to call the bare bones or Skeleton, of Luke 24:13-53 becomes an outline of the steps required for each of us to obtain a testimony, to know Christ. And patterns like that show up all over the scriptures when you stop and look for them. I have never studied the scriptures the same way since that day.

A lot can happen in twenty years, since we were in college together. The last time I saw Jeff Archuleta was at my grandpa's funeral, in 2000. (And from a distance, at David's concert in March.) There's more to this story than any of us will know. But it's not fair to cast a shadow on David. Or anyone else.

Sometimes really good families have really big problems. And sometimes really good people make really big mistakes. The bottom line is we don't know what happened. None of us does. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, he probably took that plea in abeyance to protect his family. And I'm willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt.

In the meantime, I am going to pray for Jeff and his family. I hope you'll join me.

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