Jared R. Demke, 49, died of a sudden heart attack in the early morning hours of Sunday, October 8, 2006.
“Hallelujah, All the Time”
So thankful am I for the love and perspective of thirty years of close friendship.
The Things of God
For more than fifteen of those recent years, my wife and I have been privileged to have Jared stay with us in our home in northern Virginia, during his usual twice-a-year business trip to the DC area.
When not visiting in person Jared and I would talk on the phone — often. Ginger related to me that one of his friends commented that talking with Jared on the phone was like going to Disneyland. I wholeheartedly agree – the printed theme on the sign outside Disneyland is “The Happiest Place on Earth.” That’s Jared. He brought prodigious amounts of happiness and shear joy — and light and hope — to all he met and loved.
For many of those years we spoke on the phone daily, and not for just a few minutes. On the phone and during his visits, almost constantly over these thirty years we have debated and discussed — at great length and in great detail – the things of eternity, the trials and joys of this world; the deepest and even the silliest of things; book things; political things; fun things, movies, music, art, and comedy . . . everything.
But, more and more in his the past few years, family things.
We focused our talks on the centrality and great value of the family. Especially the past handful of years, he spoke increasingly of the great joy in loving his dear family. Somehow he was drawn to invest extra time with his family these past few years.
“The things of God,” said Joseph Smith, “are of deep import and time and experience and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind O man . . . must search into and contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanse of eternity, thou must commune with God.”
I bear witness from first-hand experience that Jared not only pondered the things of God and communed with God — he saw and could communicate to our hearts those beautiful, eternal things.
Against Every Form of Tyranny Over the Mind of Man
When in Virginia, he and I would spend Saturday afternoons visiting George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, the Civil War battle sites in Richmond, Bull Run/Manassas, Antietam/Sharpsburg, and especially Gettysburg.
We’d visit new mega-bookstores and small, used bookstores hunting out new and old books of all types on religion, biography, and history.
We’d visit Smithsonian Museums, Arlington Cemetery, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial — the Jefferson Memorial, being his favorite. Inscribed around the base of the inside of the dome of that memorial are these immortal words, some of his very favorites: “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
But Jared had MANY favorite quotes and ideas floating in his mind and heart. Too many to cite here.
The Vision-Place of Souls
We visited Gettysburg together several times. Each time we visited we would recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
You might also know of the hero of the second day of Gettysburg, college professor, and future governor, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. He and those he commanded from the state of Maine were given the command to hold “at all costs” the left side of the Union line – on Little Round Top, the hill on the left side of Cemetery Ridge.
Southern troops from Texas and Alabama made several attempts to flank the Union line. If they had been successful, southern canon could have been put on top of Little Round Top and decimated the Union line.
After holding up under several southern attacks, but then ultimately running out of ammunition, Chamberlain ordered the remaining troops to “fix bayonets” and they charged down the hill to force the southern troops off the slopes of Little Round Top and finally force them back into retreat.
Jared, on his third or fourth visit to Gettysburg, and after we spoke with some re-enactors and was fully into the spirit of the moment, had to run down the hill — to simulate and experience both the North’s successful defense, and the South’s defeated perspective. He then ran back up the hill. (A half hour later, he would tread across the field where on the third day Picket’s Charge also failed – the high water-mark of the South’s Lost Cause.)
After the war, Chamberlain returned to Maine to be governor. Twenty-five years after the battle he penned these words: (Please think of both Jared’s interest in visiting these historical sacred places, but also how he creates these types of sacred “places” in our minds and hearts — those he knew and loved.)
Governor Chamberlain wrote: “In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field to ponder and dream; And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.”
Themes / Patterns
Our church teaches–as other organizations–that when we study, for example, the scriptures, we should use the “Look For” method of active reading. This method forces us to listen more carefully, and be on the look out for key principles and important, eternal themes.
Jared not only practiced active reading, but over ten years ago, after many years of in-depth study and introspection, he noticed certain repeated themes, usually in a certain order. He noticed, for example, that soon after the passages where sacred promises and covenants are described, later in the chapter one would find beautiful passages on how those same covenants are fulfilled.
He also found across many books of scripture, that when covenants are introduced, within a few verses one would often find verbiage having to do with how we find ourselves living in and dealing with the trials and tribulations and troubles of the world. Then later in the same chapter or book, he noticed that the theme was repeated, where instruction was given to us on how we might overcome the world.
He noticed that another theme usually had to do with how we should act as one of the Lord’s Servants here on earth – effectively bringing down the blessings of heaven.
Jared began to document the patterns of these repeated themes – found in almost every Old and New Testament book, in the Book of Mormon, and in most other sacred literature.
He documented six major elements of parallel repeated themes. Sometimes these themes would be direct parallels, for example, themes ABCDEF, ABCDEF. In other instances the second set of repeated themes would be in reverse order – an inverse parallelism, or as it is known among biblical scholars, by the Greek term, chiasmus. In these cases, the themes would start out ABCDEF but the second set of parallels would be found in reverse order, FEDCBA.
Altogether, we have documented hundreds of examples and published a couple hundred of them online. We have spent the past five years of his life behind the scenes (off and on) refining the presentation of the pattern. However we had purposely let it percolate, rather than publish it too early, as we focused more on family life — learned more, read more, and experienced more of sacred things. I was privileged to work along side him and collaborate with him in this effort… one of the most intellectually and spiritually satisfying and fulfilling things of my life. It informs all the other aspects of my life, my love, my service, my perspective on life and the eternities and Divinity.
The very center of these chiastic examples (or the end point of a normal parallelism) would usually be a poignant description of Jesus and how he suffered for us; how dearly he loved us; how we can/should identify with Him; and how – most beautifully – one day we would become “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”
In the 1996 General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson described this aspect of the Atonement, thusly,
“Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning ‘a close embrace,’ no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. . . . [Another Book of Mormon passage] proffers the glorious hope of our being ‘clasped in the arms of Jesus.’ I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemed is to be atoned – received in the close embrace of God…”
Among other important templates, Jared’s most inspiring filter was to read all these patterns through the lens of Temple Imagery.
Jared on the Other Side of the Veil
In my mind’s eye, I can see Jared on the other side of the veil waiting and preparing for his family to arrive (for us all to arrive…).
Regarding “the spirits of [our departed loved ones]… in the world of spirits,” Joseph Smith said, “they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions….”
I have no doubt that Jared watches over Ginger and their children. Listen to what another Civil War soldier, Sullivan Ballou, wrote in his sweet letter to his own wife one week before he died at the first battle of the Civil War, Bull Run/Manassas:
[I have inserted Ginger’s name into the famous letter.]
“. . . [Ginger], my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break . . . . The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons [and daughters] grow up to honorable manhood [and womanhood] around us. . . .
“My dear [Ginger], never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me . . . , it will whisper your name. . . . How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and . . . shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with [our] precious [children], and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
“But, O [Ginger]! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours — always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
“[Ginger], do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again. . . . [Ginger], I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell [them] I call God’s blessing upon them. O [Ginger], I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither [our] children.[Jared]”
“Sorrow shall be Turned into Joy”
The ultimate, sweet, sure promise of Jesus is “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”
Jesus offers us all consolation in trying times like this when he said, in John 16 (verses 12, 20, 33):
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now…. Ye shall weep…and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy…. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
I pray that sorrow at the loss of Jared’s ongoing immediate impact in our lives will be tempered with a constant, fond, loving, and effectual remembrance and continuation of his joy for life and his zest for living.
Thank God that we knew him. (God bless Ginger and their children.)
Written by Scott L. Vanatter (For my good friend Jared Demke, October 16, 2006, edited January 25, 2008)