Tonight was a Gashler family reunion. I had two impressions: (1) Almost all of my extended family members over forty are obese. Americans have serious issues. (2) I loved hearing the family history stories. While it was neat to hear about a great-great-grandparent, it was especially neat to hear about an immediate grandparent, because all my aunts and uncles knew about them, and they could tell passionate, firsthand stories. I found myself begging for more details. It’s fascinating to discover clues in the lives of our fore bearers that better illustrate who we are. What also struck me was how profound of an influence the church is in all of our lives, especially among my aging aunts and uncles. It’s the glue that’s pulling them back together, even those who have more or less left the church, because there’s no substitute for it. It’s the common quest for which they’re all striving (whether they’re fully realizing it or not), to not merely drift apart and die off, but to become a celestial family. The coolest part of all is that I really believe in it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sealing power at the center of it is the most genuine, meaningful, awe-inspiring power of influence I have yet to encounter on this spinning sphere. And I think this whole uniting families beyond the grave idea just might actually work.