Of Sirens and Judgment

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, John William Waterhouse

In Western mythology, Sirens were beings who lured humans to fatal folly by their seductive singing.

Last year in Believing Lies, I wrote of a relative, “Riley,” who had fallen prey to modern Sirens promising affection and gold. At that time I was taking legal action to obtain guardianship and conservatorship of “Riley.” I spent the majority of that post talking about how people come to believe obvious lies.

Six months ago in On Dementia and Traitors, I wrote of how Riley had traveled from the east to a western state. I spent the rest of that post talking about how perceptions of dementia and traitorous acts affect people.

My hope in my battle to protect Riley had been to get Riley evaluated by an expert who could provide unimpeachable guidance on what Riley needed. When Riley took themself to the west, they were put under emergency and then temporary guardianship and it was stipulated that Riley would undergo a capacity assessment by an expert. The expert specified was Dr. Lichtenberg of Wayne State University, Director of both the Institute of Gerontology and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute and the Founding Director of the Wayne State University Lifespan Alliance. Dr. Lichtenberg is a national expert on financial capacity of elderly persons, having completed thousands of evaluations generally and nearly 200 capacity evaluations.

Dr. Lichtenberg spent five hours with Riley, split between discussion and testing. The finding was that Riley’s intelligence was at the 99.9% level, so that even less extensive expert analysis would fail to uncover Riley’s functional deficits. Friends and colleagues could remain completely unaware of Riley’s impairments. But Riley’s various deficits combined with their need for affection and status in a manner that was perilous. Riley had sent international criminals $1.3M, foregoing payment of insurance, property taxes and mortgages and borrowing money from family and friends. Riley had attempted to meet with their “contacts” carrying large sums of cash, folly that could have cost Riley their life.

Riley’s counsel has stipulated to the need for some form of guardianship and conservatorship. So now the court only needs to determine the limits, if any, on that guardianship and conservatorship.

Over Thanksgiving we who have fought to protect Riley had the chance to listen to the recording of Riley’s 8 hour evidentiary hearing. Those of us who testified had been excluded from court so our testimony would not be contaminated by knowledge of things others had said.

Testifying for the petitioners were Dr. Lichtenberg and six of Riley’s children. Testifying for Riley were acquaintances and colleagues, many of whom even mentioned concern about the scams while talking about Riley’s desire to return to Virginia (where Riley thinks they would be “free” of effective protection).

I was prompted to compare this experience to my view of what will occur at Final Judgment, when we all stand before the bar of God. At that day I believe there will be no subterfuge that can hide our reality. The evidence of all we have done and experienced will come forth. Though we may rail against that evidence, it will remain. In the face of this evidence, God will appoint to us the future that will best serve us and those around us, in light of Christ’s grace.

For some, we will be free to participate in all things, because our lives have shown that doing good is the deepest desire of our hearts.

For others, we will be subjected to protections that will keep us and those around us safe from the harm it is clear we are wont to inflict.

In the case of Riley’s mortal trial, there has been a period of two years when correction and “repentance” could have occurred. But now the day of judgment is come and the time of repentance is past. Riley’s protections will be whatever the court feels sufficient to prevent harm while leaving Riley with all privileges that are deemed safe.

May we live in such a manner that the Sirens are unable to draw us towards doom. And if we are ensnared by Sirens, may we be “afflicted” by those with love and patience enough to protect us from the worst consequences of our desires.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

7 thoughts on “Of Sirens and Judgment

  1. Those who are snared by the call of sirens often most resent those who try to rescue them. Today’s Sunday School lesson on missionary work elicited many observations on the difficulty of ministering to those who have turned their backs on the Gospel and the Church. Even as our hearts yearn to share the joy and truth we find, they accuse us of dark purposes. This seems similar to the situation you recount regarding ‘Riley’ who seems most suspicious of those most concerned about their welfare.

  2. At some point prior to, or just after, resurrection, we will “see as we are seen.”

    To expand that, we will see -ourselves- as -God- sees us. And likely: as others see us, too.

    For those who have done good: how wonderful. They will see, and sense and feel the adoration of all those they benefited.

    For those with mere good intentions, maybe with chagrin.

    For those with wicked hearts, that view of one’s self, that “burning” level shame, is likely the very definition of hell-fire.

    The Lord probably doesn’t have to “apply” punishment. He could merely hold up a mirror to us, or play a movie of our life from His/others’ perspective, and then we punish ourselves.

    What a supernally just and divinely loving thing for both the righteous and the wicked, as it is with one, so it is with the other, to cause them to see themselves as they have been seen.

  3. There are few things more gratifying, yet humbling as having the experience of being recognized for doing well. As an example, I find that when I receive a significant award for art I have created I immediately look around and recognize that other artists in the same exhibit have done as well or better. Recently my trustworthiness was questioned yet the very person who I was suspected of misleading affirmed that I had vindicated decades of being trusted in the issue in question. I had a cataract removed from one of my eyes recently and really appreciate the scripture 1 Corinthians 13:12 ‘for now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face-‘ As we grow old, various things such as dementia and memory loss can skew our understanding of reality, but as long as we can, we should apply the cleansing effect of review and repentance so that when we stand before our Saviour the experience will be humbling and gratifying instead of humiliating and shameful.

  4. Hi Bookslinger,

    While I agree that most will be sufficiently subdued by awareness of their error, I do predict there is a subset who will continue to wish to act to harm others. And so I do think there will be a need for active protection, that which some would consider punishment.

    In my life, as I have proponed the idea of an omniscient God who knows all and may reveal all to us, I have been surprised by the number of people who think it is none of God’s business, that somehow God is not able to (or permitted to) know our innermost secrets. In such a paradigm, I can imagine someone thinking that their wrongful acts will never actually be known.

    Silly people.

  5. I would suspect that those who actively reject all light, after fully understanding what’s really going on in a post-life judgement setting, are those who will (sadly) be ejected to outer darkness. It won’t be a denial of any eternal reward–it’ll be an active rejection of an offered reward. I suspect that population will be small, but it makes sense that there may be those who cannot bring themselves to do anything but rage against whatever injustice they erroneously ascribe to God and his plan.

    I’ve met people like that. It sounds like you have too, Meg. I’d like to believe that once it’s all laid out for people, they’ll painfully reorient themselves. But it won’t surprise me if some won’t do it.

  6. My husband has recently been diagnosed as suffering from major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Xavier Amador, a psychologist whose brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, has studied those with delusional thinking for many years. He is a kind, empathetic man, and his TEDTalk, linked here, has changed, fundamentally, how I interact with my sweet husband, who through no choice of his own, believes some very frightening things. Unfortunately, it takes difficult interaction with the legal system in order to force them to get the medication they need. These errors in thinking are symptomatic of the disease, NOT something that the ill person chooses, and can be managed but will never go away completely in this life. I look forward to the next part of our existence, where we will be made whole from all of our infirmities.

  7. Excellent video.

    For what it’s worth, one of “Riley’s” children worked in the same department as Dr. Amador at Columbia University Hospital, but they indicate there are about 300 people in that department and they didn’t know Dr. Amador personally.

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