Brother Rock always creeped me out. He was one of those people who you hope never to see again. But you always do… and when you do, they shake your hand and focus a glassy, unblinking gaze directly into your eyes and say, with a meaningful smile, “I knew we would meet again,” as if they had already seen every detail of your encounter in a vision.

I met Brother Rock when I had been on my mission for about a year. He had been hired by the mission to paint all the missionaries’ houses (mold control). To keep costs down, the mission president decided to let him sleep over with the missionaries while on the house painting circuit. As a result, I was obliged to spend about a week in his company. It really shouldn’t have taken him so long — our house only had three rooms — but he didn’t exactly apply himself very well. He spent most of his time distracting the other missionaries and fraternizing with members. It always started with him fixing those unnerving, pale blue eyes on someone and announcing that he felt impressed to have a conversation with them. Several hours later, he had won a new disciple. For example, sometimes he kept his missionary victims home past noon, talking. He stayed up all night with one of them once, talking. I always got the impression that these long discussions at the expense of his work made him feel like Jesus teaching the doctors in the temple — or Mary, perhaps, choosing the better part.

There is no denying that he had a peculiar air about him… his appearance was somewhat unearthly (think a cross between Paul Bettany as the albino priest in The Da Vinci Code and Paul Dano as the evangelical preacher in There Will Be Blood) and his voice resonated with a calming quality that is difficult to describe. I couldn’t tell you how many people said to me, after meeting Brother Rock for the first time (which usually lasted several hours): “That is the most spiritual man that I have ever met.” So, gradually he aggregated an informal following of members and missionaries, all very enthusiastic about what they were “learning” from him.

I didn’t get it. He just made me uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I didn’t say anything to anyone. After all, as a missionary, I wanted to keep an open mind about his spiritual gifts and, aside from his penchant for long talks, I had yet to see him do or say anything specific that I could have called inappropriate. Given the excitement he caused, I didn’t see how to oppose what was going on, as it were, without a clear-cut reason to explain my feelings.

Brother Rock knew he’d failed to charm me. He kept trying to rope me into one of his long conversations; but, I managed to stave him off until his excuses for not finishing his job ran out and he set off to hassle another house of missionaries. I was glad to see the back of him.

Unfortunately for me, I was transferred a few months later to another city… with a house that had yet to be painted. When Brother Rock showed up (it’s positively uncanny how he just knew we would meet again), it was essentially the same old story — with one crucial difference. He must have grown more confident in the intervening months because, this time, it wasn’t long before he crossed a line: he began using his “spiritual” influence to ask members and missionaries for money (successfully, I might add).

I promptly gave him a (rather aggressive) piece of my mind and kicked him out of the house, telling him to finish up his few hours of work he still had to do at the chapel and get out of town already. Brother Rock just sighed and shook his head solemnly, looking heavenward as if to ask for patience and wisdom in dealing with this misguided missionary. He then quietly explained to me that the Lord had revealed to him that I needed to be less prideful. Then he bore his testimony… about how the Lord had also shown unto him that he would one day be a general authority. If nothing else, I’ll give him credit for one thing: I’m positive that he meant every word.

Anyway, from then on I no longer had any qualms with telling other people, if they asked my opinion, that he was crazy. I’ll take it back when I find him in the Ensign centerfold. My descriptive powers don’t really do justice to his creepiness; I could share other stories that I heard about him after the fact, but those are too numerous (not to mention secondhand), so I’ll stop here.

I’m sure most of us have had experiences with members like this. Share your personal encounters with charlatans / priestcraft / general craziness in the comments.