Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finding Wisdom Wherever It Is: Vai Sikahema, My Dad, and Mormonism

Those of you who have read very many of my blogs know that only rarely have I passed on any opportunity to point out oddities in the religious practices in a large number of my relatives. This is not to say that I believe that all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
are lacking in sanity, intelligence, or enlightenment. My dad, as a football fan and a former Utah resident when he was in college, reads online editions of some Utah newspapers. One columnist of whose writings he is especially fond is Vai Sikahema.

Vai Sikahema is a former NFL running back and special teams player who spent most of his eight-year professional football career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Sikahema immigrated to the US from Tonga as a young child. He was raised mostly in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Arizona. He played football for BYU, with his college football career spanning some of the years my father attended BYU. Following his retirement from football, Vai Sikahema found employment covering sports for an NBC affiliate. I believe he now works for the network, although I'm unsure. He also authors a column, "Vai's View" for The Deseret News.

My dad sent me several columns to read when I was being treated for PTSD at an inpatient facility. I liked much of what Mr. Sikahema had to say, so I began reading the column regularly and also searching the archives for past columns. Sometimes the columns were interesting. At other times they were thought-provoking. Sometimes they were humorous. I didn't and don't always agree with everything Mr. Sikahema writes, as he's a died-in-the-wool Mormon and far more conservative than I. Still, even when I don't agree, I read what he has to say.

One column dealt with modesty in clothing for females. I thought it was a bit sexist in that it addressed the topic of female sports uniforms as being immodest when they're comparable to male sports teams' uniforms in terms of total body coverage. Additionally, he was critical of prom gowns with spaghetti straps or even worse, no straps at all. My prom gown was strapless. In all honesty, I wasn't specifically looking for a strapless prom dress, but the one I liked best in terms of fabric, color, and style happened to be strapless, so I bought and wore it. On the other hand, I don't own a bikini, don't wear shorts that are very short, and don't wear clothing that exposes my midriff. For the most part, even Mr. Sikahema would probably consider my wardrobe essentially modest. For me it's not a huge issue because my parents have never made a big deal out of what kind of swimsuit I wore or the overall amount of coverage most of my clothing provides. For Mr. Sikahema, it apparently is. For the record, if I were to attend an LDS function, I would not be so disrespectful as to wear anything that would be considered offensive there.

I suspect Vai Sikahema would not like me personally, as I am not always respectful of my elders and I occasionally disparage things that he would consider sacred, but he doesn't know me, so it's not even an issue. I read what he writes. If it's in line with my own values and belief system, fine, If it isn't, I chalk it up to cultural difference. Either way, it causes me no pain.

In a particular column he wrote about the diversity of the LDS church in the New Jersey area where his family presently resides. The people and incidents he described were ones I'd truly like to experience, such as an African-American female who sings her testimony during Fast and Testimony meeting, or a child who, when asked after being baptized to go back into the fontto pull the plug and drain it, did a cannonball and drenched the first three rows of attendees at his baptism. I hate to think of what would have happened if I'd done that when I was baptized for the dead at the manti Temple. I probably would not be alive to write this blog if such had been the case. That sort of thing is incredibly foreign to the white-bread Utah-sanitized version of the LDS Church that I've always known.

I would provide a link except that any link I have just goes to The Deseret News site and not directly to Mr. Sikahema's column. Google him sometime. He has interesting ideas to share.


  1. It's good to step out of the box sometimes and consider opinions of those you don't normally agree with. Just so long as they aren't offensive of course. :)