The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently wrote,
"Dear Brothers and Sisters:
"We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.
"To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
"We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
"The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring"
Notably absent this time around is any mention of this being a personal decision. Obviously it still is one, but I'm guessing they got fed up with all the idiots cherry-picking that part of their last statement in a pathetic attempt to pretend they didn't really mean what they unambiguously said. Of course the omission didn't stop those people from twisting themselves into pretzels around this statement too, but now they know that they're lying to themselves even more than they knew they were lying to themselves last time.
I, for one, am exasperated that I need to start wearing a mask again over three months after I got fully vaccinated like a responsible person. I'm exasperated that Utah's intensive care units are now at 102% capacity because over half of my state's population has refused to get vaccinated. I'm exasperated that the virus continues to have opportunities to spread and mutate to the point where my vaccination may become useless because people are pretending not to understand how herd immunity works even though that was their argument for refusing to war masks and letting a bunch of preventable deaths happen in the first place. I'm exasperated that I've tried to do the right thing and follow health guidelines without complaint for so long and it doesn't matter because everyone around me thinks this whole thing is a joke. Meanwhile, as we in this country turn up our noses at the most miraculous vaccine in history being given away for free all over the place, people in less privileged countries are going through hell from this "flu" because they don't yet have access to it. They must be far more exasperated than I am.
Yesterday I went to a book club meeting yesterday for "Live Not By Lies" by Rod Dreher. Unfortunately, the entire discussion proceeded from the assumption that all of us agreed with everything in the book and only needed to figure out how to apply its teachings in our lives. I did agree with its overall message, but had several nitpicks about specifics and no opportunity to mention any of them even if they had been welcome, which they weren't. Dreher based his book on the assumption that Christianity and political conservatism are the same thing, which would make him feel right at home in Utah. Liberals in Utah (with the exception of Salt Lake City nearby areas) face the same stigma and fear of speaking up that conservatives complain about in the book. The guy next to me did raise a couple of nuanced opinions, but the hostess pushed back pretty hard. He's from the younger generation, she said, so he would think that people should face consequences for advocating death to homosexuals, and not understand that the First Amendment was created to protect hate speech. I think when someone recommended that we all listen to Candace Owens was the moment I knew I wouldn't be coming back.
Before the meeting, knowing that I struggle to articulate my thoughts verbally or insert myself into conversations of more than three people, I wrote my review of the book which I share here in case anyone actually does care what I have to say.
Update on my prostate:
My blood test and urine test results came back from the hospital eleven days later. The doctor didn't know why it took so long. I could have told him it's because the staff at Logan Regional Hospital doesn't see me as fully human, but I let it slide. The tests found no cause for concern other than the increased number of antibodies that one would expect in a swollen prostate. I have "lots of really good blood", he said. After using up my antibiotics I had to go in and let him stick his finger in me again to see if they were accomplishing anything. This time was worse. It took longer and I felt like I was about to ---- on the floor and I tried to disassociate myself and sing hymns in my head, but I couldn't because he kept talking to me. No, it doesn't hurt a bit, please stop. One part of my prostate was a little bit less swollen after two weeks, so he renewed the antibiotics. He also prescribed some other pills to make my bladder stronger and make me drowsy 24/7. The health center took another urine sample and he said there was still blood and protein in it. I wasn't aware that the last one had blood and protein in it. He said I may need to see a urologist if it doesn't resolve itself. In summary, I'm still kind of in hell.
Currently when boys in the United States of America turn 18, we have to register for a thing called Selective Service in order to access some of the rights and privileges of citizenship that girls get by turning 18, and also to not be charged with a felony. This means we get put on a list so we can be drafted into the military and sent off to our deaths if that need ever arises. I don't remember doing it, but I must have because I've gotten federal financial aid. Because women are now allowed to serve in any position in the military, there's a growing movement to replace this blatant sex discrimination with an equal-opportunity human rights violation by making them register for Selective Service too. The thought of abolishing the damn thing altogether doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone in power.
Valerie Hudson, however, argues in a recent editorial that the current status quo should be maintained, with men and women both eligible for military service but only men eligible for the draft. I expressed that same opinion once. My reasoning was that men were more evolved for war-type stuff, so while I would never cite evolution as a reason to forbid women from being in the military or doing whatever else their hearts desired, it seemed like a good enough reason to minimize unfairness by not forcing them to be in the military. I didn't think it was fair to force men either, but it was more reasonable because of evolution. Now I just think Selective Service and the draft should be abolished altogether. What's Dr. Hudson's logic, though?
"And I draw that line," she writes, "not for the reason tradition would give us: That women are weak or delicate creatures that must be protected. After all, most women in the world are not protected in any sense of the word. Would you enjoy living as a woman in Afghanistan, where 87% of women report having been assaulted? Or in Liberia, where the chance of dying incident to pregnancy is 1 in 8? Most women in poor countries do the lion’s share of the work of the household each day, and are given fewer calories to eat despite the fact that their daily work load forces them to expend far more energy than others in the household, including men. They watch their children die of preventable diseases and malnutrition because the powerful men of the country could not care less about such lowly matters. In truth, if women were weak, delicate creatures, the human race would have died out millennia ago.
"No, I do not oppose Selective Service registration for women because of their delicacy. I oppose it because a sex class analysis would reveal that women already sacrifice more for their country than men do, and women should not be asked to bear even more. There should be parity between men and women in the work of protecting our country and giving it a future. Selective Service registration for women would undo that parity, placing an unjustly heavy burden on women, and making their load far heavier than that of men."
She then proceeds to point out that far more women become mothers than men serve in the military, and far more women have died in childbirth than men have died in war. She notes that "The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is now more than double what it was 30 years ago (it’s now 17.4 per 100,000 and rising)." I didn't know that. I thought I lived in a first world country. I did know that black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and twice as likely to lose their babies, but since systemic racism is a myth and hospital staff (as I can attest firsthand from my experience with Logan Regional) treat all patients with the respect and dignity they're entitled to, these facts can only be explained as unfortunate but meaningless coincidences.
"And this doesn’t account," she continues, "for the 'mommy tax' on a woman’s lifetime earnings of having a child, which can amount to more than $1 million. The greatest risk factor for being poor in old age in the United States is to be a mother (and not a father). And the COVID-19 pandemic has made especially clear the profound economic cost dealt to working women - when the nation needed an army of mothers to step up, they did so at great cost to themselves." These facts, like the foregoing ones, are ----ed up. They speak to the profound sickness of a capitalist society that punishes people for valuing their families over increasing their employers' profits (which of course disproportionately affects mothers because pregnancy and childrearing responsibilities disproportionately affect mothers). Many things need to be reformed and many employers need to be put in their place. Capitalism is not pro-woman, pro-mother, or pro-family, it's pro-profit, full stop.
"But socialism is -" Did I say anything about socialism? Did I? No, I didn't, so don't change the subject.
I have been accused (by a man) of "denigrating motherhood" because I reject the fallacious analogy between motherhood for women and priesthood ordination for men that some people in my church are so fond of, and I suppose I'll be accused of it again after saying what I have to say next. Ahem: With a few possible exceptions, I actually don't believe that women or men deserve to be venerated just for reproducing. Yeah, the miracle of life is cool and all, and pregnancy is a significant sacrifice, but being fertile says nothing whatsoever about your worthiness or competence as a parent. It's literally the least important part of parenthood. Many people have given birth who really shouldn't have. Some parents abuse, some parents neglect, some parents warp their children for life with their unconscionable stupidity, some parents try to cure their children's autism by making them drink bleach, and so on. Have you ever read about Donald Trump's father? When I did, I realized that Donald Trump never had any chance of growing up to be a decent human being. I actually feel bad for him.
After attending my sister's temple sealing a few months ago, I reflected on the oddity of focusing so much on the commandment "Multiply and replenish the Earth." First of all, it's a bad translation that we keep repeating verbatim because we'd rather sound "scriptural" than make sense. In order to be replenished, the Earth must once already been plenished. This phrasing kind of implies that Adam and Eve were actually the sole survivors of a disaster that killed billions. Well, Lillith was there too, but the nuclear fallout turned her into a demon.
God: Multiply and replenish the Earth.
Eve: Uh, you do realize we need about five hundred breeding individuals to ensure a viable, genetically diverse species, right? You do realize our kids will have to -
God: Don't worry, I'll perform a miracle to make it not incest.
Narrator: But he didn't, and that explains the state of humanity today.
(I was going to say the narrator was voiced by Morgan Freeman, but then I remembered that he also played God in a couple of movies, so that felt weird.)
For sure, my church devotes plenty of time and energy is given in other venues to telling people to be good parents and advising them on how to do so, but taken at face value, this commandment to make babies for babies' sake just seems odd. A couple who has four kids and sells them all for drinking money is following this commandment, while a couple who adopts twelve kids, moves heaven and earth to meet their needs, and teaches them to be productive members of society is not. You could, of course, argue a broader and more figurative definition for "multiply and replenish", but then it would have to also include many things that have nothing to do with parenthood at all. I wouldn't object to that, but it seems like a stretch.
While reproduction is, as Dr. Hudson points out, obviously crucial to the future of the United States and every other nation, it's a group effort that transcends any individual birth. Not every person brought into this world improves it just by existing. I think of Derek Chauvin's mother, who recently told him at his sentencing that the day he was born was the happiest of her life. She isn't wrong to love him even though he's an abuser and a murderer, and she couldn't have possibly known he would turn out to be an abuser and a murderer - though she is wrong to deny that he's an abuser and a murderer when the entire world has seen his handiwork - but the fact remains that this country would have been a better place without him in it. I'm not going to thank his mother for giving birth to him anytime soon. Actually, come to think of it, if your child murders someone, the Earth's population has a net increase of zero and your attempt to multiply and replenish it has been retroactively thwarted. Let's hope they only murder one person and you have backup children who are better behaved.
Anyway, I guess I kind of agree with Dr. Hudson and kind of don't. The facts she points out should anger any reasonable person, but I don't venerate people for reproducing and I think her overall argument is moot because Selective Service and the draft should be abolished altogether.
BONUS: Recently I showed my true misogynistic colors. I am ashamed of myself.
My mother said once that I "have a tendency to overshare", and today I'm going to embrace that tendency without apology because this is my space to write about things I regard as significant to my life. You have been warned. Turn back now or forever hold your peace.
Ah, I knew that would just make you more curious, you weirdo.
I have a swollen prostate.
Prostates are one of those things that I probably should have been taught about at some point but wasn't. I learned about their existence from professional smart aleck Carla Ulbrich. "[My dad's] first name is Carl," she said on her live album Professional Smart Aleck, "so we're only one letter away, so when I go to the pharmacy in my hometown they're always gettin' our files mixed up. Try to sell me prostate medicine." The audience laughed. "I guess it's never too early to prevent." The audience laughed again. I deduced that the joke was funny because [cisgender] women don't have prostates, and further deduced from that deduction what a prostate must be. Obviously it's the gland that makes most [cisgender] men think American football is exciting even though there's nothing exciting whatsoever about stopping the action every five seconds.
What I couldn't have deduced with so little information, however, is that, in yet another refutation of the "The human body is too perfect to have evolved by random chance" argument, the prostate is wrapped around the urethra. Consequently, if it gets too big, which, in yet another refutation of the "The human body is too perfect to have evolved by random chance" argument, happens naturally as men age, it squeezes the urethra and makes peeing more of an ordeal than ideal.
I figured out a while ago that something was wrong. Years ago, in fact. But the transition from peeing like a normal person to peeing ridiculously small amounts at ridiculously frequent intervals and waking up in the middle of the night virtually every night to do it again and often having mild discomfort afterward like there's more pee even though there isn't happened gradually. Only in the last few weeks has it made my life hell. It's always worse at night. Sometimes the intervals are literally two minutes. Sometimes I can count the drops on one hand, but those single-digit drops will keep nagging at me and prevent me from sleeping until I let them go. Sometimes it takes three hours to get to sleep.
I still assumed it was a prostate thing, but it got so bad that I investigated other possibilities, Googling things like "Can you get gonorrhea without having sex?" (yes) and "Can men get yeast infections?" (also yes). Actually, I didn't include the question marks when I typed in the questions, but I instinctively put them in as I wrote them here just now because this is a more professional venue. I also looked for home remedies and ways to manage the symptoms. "But Christopher, you idiot," you may be saying, "why didn't you see a doctor? Surely even the United States' medieval healthcare system would be preferable to your futile attempts at managing this chronic problem on your own." Ah, see, that was my last resort because another thing I learned from the internet is that doctors check a prostate's status by actually physically touching it while its owner, which in this case would be me, is fully conscious. If you don't understand how, think about it for a minute and you can probably guess.
The doctor said not to empty my bladder before I came in to the student health center Monday morning, not understanding the depth of the problem as such that if I emptied my bladder right before I left home there was a >90% chance it would have something in it when I arrived. And after I dropped one of my urine sample cups in the toilet, he gave me a cup of water so I could fill it again later, not understanding the depth of the problem as such that this gesture was entirely superfluous.
He checked me out in front first, for lumps, because apparently cancer was also an option. And he actually said I could pull my pants back up before he remembered, oh yeah, he needed to check my prostate. D'oh. He seems to have (correctly) assumed I already knew how that process would work. He didn't explain it or warn me about it at all. He just told me to position myself a certain way and take quick breaths. I complied without protest, because unlike half of Utah's population I subscribe to the radical leftist belief that people with medical degrees know more about medicine than people without medical degrees, though I wondered, Can't you just take an X-ray? I don't care if it makes me infertile.
As I waited in position and took quick breaths while the doctor slathered lubricant over his gloved hands, I wondered, What makes a person say "I want to become a doctor even though nothing on God's green Earth is more disgusting than other people's bodies?" Is it the money? It must be the money. Or maybe they just want to be doctors from childhood and get too far along that path before they realize what it entails. I'm quite certain Doc McStuffins has never performed this procedure, which is kind of ironic for someone named McStuffins.
It was as much fun as I thought it would be. It didn't hurt a bit, might have even been pleasurable if I'd relaxed and allowed myself to consider that possibility, but it just felt profoundly wrong and unnatural and violating and I couldn't stop fixating on it in a neurotic way for a few days afterward. Not the worst experience in the world by a long shot, but one I would have just as soon avoided all the same. So the doctor asked, "How old are you?" And that's not what you want the doctor to ask while he's prodding your prostate, but I already had figured out that mine was rather large for a 28-year-old, which is what he told me after I told him I was 28 years old, so it wasn't too much of a shock but I wanted to finish that conversation real quick so he would get out of me. I wondered, How did you learn what a 28-year-old's prostate is supposed to feel like? Did you practice on volunteers?
Without waiting for the results of the urine tests or the blood test - which, to my knowledge, since he said he would let me know about them, still have not arrived as of this writing, and based on my last experience at Logan Regional Hospital (where the testing was to take place), which instilled me with profound contempt for each and every staff member I had the misfortune of meeting and being immediately dismissed and dehumanized by on what was already the worst day of my life thanks to the abusive ----wit from the Logan Police Department who made me go in for the suicidal ideation that he caused by abusing me, I wouldn't be surprised if someone there just put my samples in a broom closet and forgot about them - he prescribed me some antibiotics to take morning and night for a month. He said they would weaken my muscles so I wouldn't be able to do strenuous exercise like running or lifting weights. I think I can live with that. Having taken a dozen pills thus far, however, I have not noticed any changes of any kind, good or bad. Fingers crossed.
If only I had heeded Carla Ulbrich's cryptic warning: "I guess it's never too early to prevent."
Today is, appropriately, the anniversary of my most popular blog post last year. The bar for that is pretty low, but it still made me happy. So here it is again: Newly Discovered Ancient Document Sheds Light on the Origin of Our Species
I hadn't been to Institute for two semesters because although the organization was taking appropriate health precautions, I knew for a fact that most of my potential fellow students were out having large social gatherings with no masks on a regular basis. Now I'm vaccinated so it's fine. I even had prolonged exposure to a Covid-positive neighbor a week before my vaccination reached full efficacy and nothing happened, so after all this time I can finally relax and stop thinking about the potential life-ruining long-term side effects that an infection might have on my brain. I missed the first couple weeks of "Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel" due to my visiting family. I've taken this class twice, as I've taken every class that interests me at all, but I still have great need to increase my relationship with and faith in Jesus Christ. It was a powerful experience the first two times but it wore off after a while.
I'd never even seen Rand Curtis before and didn't know what to expect. When I came in and saw on the screen "Lesson 4: The Creation", I got a bit queasy as I flashed back to past experiences with this topic in Institute classes. Listening to teachers who know nothing about evolution mock evolution while I sit there with the expertise to know it's real as surely as I know the sun shines has never been a pleasant experience. The last time was a few years ago, and the Institute faculty may have caught up with the last century of scientific discovery by now, but I just didn't know what to expect and it was kind of tense.
So he kind of started off with a painting of a primordial-looking Earth with Jesus flying above it looking pretty epic with his hands and feet angled toward it as if to say, "KAZAM!" He made us talk to our classmates and discuss what we think the creation of the Earth may have looked like. I told my partner that I accept the scientific account of the creation of the Earth, so I think it took a really long time and if you floated there and watched you wouldn't notice anything happening. (Granted, if you timed your observation just right you might see the hypothesized planet Theia crash into it and knock off the big chunk of debris that later became our moon, which would be almost but not quite as epic as Jesus saying "KAZAM!") I phrased my opinion as inoffensively as possible, as if accepting science were only one of many possible options. My partner kind of nodded and accepted that.
Brother Curtis then had a slide that showed a diagram of the Earth with its layers, and a timeline of its scientifically established history starting at the north pole and going around its circumference. I wondered, did he put that up there just to dispute it? But he reassured me very quickly. "Was the Earth created in six days?" he asked the class. I kind of went "Eh" as if to say "I don't believe so, but you can believe what you want." But he answered his own question like, "No! But a thousand years are as one day to God, so was the Earth created in six thousand years?" And I kind of went "Eh" again. But he answered his own question like, "No!" And he had a spiel about the ultimate compatibility of scientific and religious truth, and he spoke against checking your brain at the door of a religious classroom and suppressing secular knowledge or the questions it raises. Stuff I've read and written ad nauseam, but a welcome surprise anyway. He basically straight-up said that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That was more than I could have hoped for. I get so tired of people pretending that if the Church doesn't have a position on something, any view on the subject is equally valid regardless of basic facts and common sense.
Granted, I had another teacher, Kurt Reese, who said that the Earth isn't 6,000 years old and then said "If anyone here believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, I'm sorry... that you're bad at science." I guess that counts. But he wasn't teaching about the Creation per se - it was a church history class and we were talking about Joseph Fielding Smith's ridiculously fundamentalist readings of scripture, and he liked to joke around and tease like that in general. He would tease you for being from Colorado or being a Democrat even though one of the points he tried to hammer home is that you can, in fact, be a Democrat and still be worthy. He went so far as to imply that it's okay if you observe rampant poverty on your mission and come home feeling "pretty disgusted with capitalism". And he's a Republican himself, but not the evil kind. Where was I going with this? Anyway, his discussion of the age of the Earth was cool and all but not quite as impactful in that context. Maybe I was just desensitized to his heretical teachings by that point in the course.
Brother Curtis pointed out that on this little Earth history timeline, dinosaurs don't seem so ancient anymore, and human history was too brief to even show up. And then he said three incredible words - "Fifty million years." Not phrased as a question. Oh boy. The Earth itself is one thing, but this strikes at the very heart of some people's spiritual identity. Of course, it's the sort of perceived chronological discrepancy that some Latter-day Saints think they can just handwave away with suggestions like "wE dOn'T kNoW hOw LoNg AdAm AnD eVe WeRe In ThE gArDeN." Yeah, whatever. They're the only two people in the world, they can't have sex, literally nothing has been invented yet, and I'm supposed to seriously consider for one moment the possibility that they just chill in the Garden for, say, the entire time that dinosaurs are roaming around elsewhere? Nuh-uh. I give them three months before they eat the forbidden fruit as an attempt at suicide.
His next slide showed a bunch of skulls of our ancient evolutionary cousins and ancestors - either that, or just skulls of people who think Derek Chauvin should have been acquitted. He asked if we have room for these people in our view of the gospel. I discussed with my partner. Yes, we both did. Cool. But Brother Curtis overheard someone say "It doesn't matter how we got here, just that we're here" and called him out on it because that kind of intellectual apathy "won't make us like our heavenly parents." Brother Curtis was very big on intellect. Most religious teachers are in theory, but it's another thing to actually be so in practice and not the type of person who starts sentences with "I love science, but..." He did say he wasn't going to get into all the details of how he worked out science and religion together, which is fair, but I wish he hadn't just said "I find no physical evidence for a flood covering the entire planet a few thousand years ago. None" and left that for us to grapple with. I think the story of Noah is much easier to reconcile than most people give it credit for. I don't know why so many are locked into this false dichotomy that either the flood covered the entire planet or it never happened.
Speaking of heavenly parents, that was a big thing with him. He always said "heavenly parents" where most Saints would just say "Heavenly Father". I don't think he said "Heavenly Father" one time. In fact, in one of his slides he had written "Heavenly Father" and read it as "heavenly parents", which suggested to me that perhaps he, too, just recently had a feminist awakening. These small and simple vocabulary replacements are a huge step toward promoting true gender equality in the Church, showing women that they, too, have a significant eternal destiny and role model, and really leveraging one of the greatest doctrines that separates us from the mainstream Christian world and by all rights should be shouted from the rooftops, not treated as an open secret.
Since this was a ninety-minute night class, we then had another lesson, which was about commandments and stuff and not nearly as interesting because science, but still good. Yes, commandments can change; no, Jesus did not drink grape juice. Brother Curtis remained an engaging and effective teacher but tried a little too hard to relate. He shared that he still hasn't mastered the don't-looketh-upon-a-woman-to-lust-after-her thing. He said, "I'm old, but I'm not that old." TMI, my dude. But I'll let that slide. His whole perspective on things was such a breath of fresh air as I've grown so disillusioned with the rampant stupidity and willful ignorance that sometimes make me very embarrassed to be a believer. It's above and beyond what I've come to expect from an Institute class. He even expressed his gratitude for the LGBTQ community. The experience had me looking at him like
I hope my classmates don't complain and get him fired.
A couple of videos he shared which I'd seen before but were worth rewatching because space:
Ironically - wait, no, that's not it. What am I trying to say? Oh yes. Coincidentally, which does not mean the same thing as ironically, last weekend I posted about an assignment I wrote about memes I had made, and then a few days later I was looking through the hard drive from my computer that died in 2014 (not to be confused with my computer that died in 2013, my computer that died in 2015, my computer that died in 2019, and my computer that died a couple weeks ago) and found a couple more that I had forgotten about. Well, there was this one, which I hadn't forgotten about as such but which wouldn't have been the best choice for a secular college assignment even if it had come to mind at the time.
I've probably shared that here before. You know, I was just so frustrated with all the people I saw regurgitating that talking point who weren't scientists, didn't know anything about DNA except how to spell it, and made no attempt to acknowledge or engage with anything already written on this subject by people far more educated than them about why DNA testing can neither confirm or disprove the book's claims. That was before the Church's website had its own essay on "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies". A year or two ago, I was in this Christian evolutionist group on Facebook where some guy who may or may not have been an actual scientist said that the missionaries had shared it with him, and because of his a priori assumption that my religion is ridiculous, he was sure it must be misleading and would somebody please refute it for him? In the time that I observed the thread, nobody attempted to do so, but people did helpfully provide additional unrelated reasons why my religion is ridiculous.
And then there were a couple I had forgotten about. In late May and early June, I chatted with a girl I met in the Facebook group "The Awesome Mormons' Secret Society of Awesomeness", which constituted an embarrassing proportion of my social life for years. I still interact to several people from that group more than almost anyone I went to school with. This girl isn't one of them. But I chatted with her for a while, and she sent me a bunch of pictures of herself which were also in a folder on the hard drive. I don't remember how that got started. I'm pretty sure I didn't ever say "Please send me pictures of yourself." But she did, and I praised her beauty and I think that's why she kept doing it until she got tired of me. In a couple instances, I turned her pictures into memes and sent them back to her.
Smoother than the chunky peanut butter on your chunky peanut butter toast, that's me. But speaking of the genetic plausibility of the Book of Mormon, the foremost Latter-day Saint apologetics organization FairMormon has changed its name back to FAIR. Now, though, instead of "Foundation for Apologetics Information and Research" it stands for "Faithful Answers, Informed Response". This is because most normal people don't know what apologetics is and wonder what they're apologizing for.
President Scott Gordon noted, "At this time of name changing, we have also done some reflection and subsequent course adjustment.... This means avoiding personal attacks or derogatory language." You may remember that once upon a December I wrote a post blasting their CES Letter videos, which were full of personal attacks or derogatory language, and their subsequent doubling down against the backlash by disabling comments, banning dissenters from their Facebook page, and issuing a damage control statement. I acknowledge that my blog has also had its share of personal attacks or derogatory language, but I think it's fair (pun intended) to hold the foremost Latter-day Saint apologetics organization to a higher standard. I'm sure it did far more damage than me by making itself and the Church look bad. President Gordon's statement makes no mention of the videos, which FAIR has now quietly removed. It hasn't yet apologized for banning me from its Facebook page for criticizing them, but that's okay, I know people are busy. I'll wait.
Although FAIR has lost my respect, it did me a lot of good in the past and I hope it does more good for people in the future. And I don't share or understand some Saints' blanket condemnation of apologetics. Of course it isn't science or straightforward scholarship because it works backward and looks for evidence to fit an assumed conclusion, but that's okay sometimes. It can be done well or it can be done poorly. Trying to prove a religion by such means would be dishonest - but demonstrating plausible grounds for the religion, acknowledging that faith ultimately lies outside the scope of empirical evidence and reason but showing that it is nonetheless compatible with them, is necessary and desirable. In the example above, good apologetics assert (correctly) that DNA testing, because of its limitations and the unknown variables and shifting populations and genocides over a couple thousand years, can tell us little or nothing about the Book of Mormon. Bad apologetics, which also exist, assert that DNA testing proves Native Americans in the Midwest are direct descendants of Israelites.
Another purpose of apologetics is to respond to criticisms of the religion which may be objectively wrong or may just be founded on interpretations that are up for debate. If the critics are right about everything and the apologists are wrong about everything, as those Saints who disdain all apologetics seem to imply, then the Church has virtually no redeeming value and why are they still in it? Of course, I doubt they really belief this logical conclusion of their contempt. I think they have more in common with one Salt Lake Tribune commenter who posed the rhetorical question, "Why does the truth need apologists?" And I get the straightforward assumption embedded in his question. Why can't the truth speak for itself? Why does it need to be explained and defended so much? But his assumption is erroneous. The truth is, anything confusing and/or controversial needs apologists. Even science needs apologists. For example:
Critic: Vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue.
Apologist: No, they don't. Several vaccines are developed in cells grown from cells taken from two fetuses that were aborted for unrelated reasons in the 1960s, but refusing to save millions of lives with the vaccines won't un-abort them.
Critic: Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, which states that systems will lose energy and go from order to disorder, not the other way around.
Apologist: No, it doesn't. The second law of thermodynamics only applies to closed systems. The Earth is not a closed system because it constantly receives more energy from the sun. Your logic would preclude ordinary water droplets from forming into intricate snowflakes.
I am not a scientist, but I am a science apologist. I don't pretend to have credentials or do groundbreaking research in my own right but I do have enough expertise in a few areas to explain misconceptions or misrepresentations of people who don't. For that reason, I have no regrets about my time spent in a major that wasn't English. And apologists like me are needed. A field of science is not less true because people may not understand some aspects of it, or because they may choose to fixate on anomalies and as-yet unsolved mysteries to delegitimize the entire thing. Granted, the actual scientists can do the apologetics themselves too, but I imagine they get even more freaking tired of it than I do and would like to get back to doing actual work like saving us from this pandemic.
Quote of the day, from the chat of Dialogue's Zoom Sunday school this morning: "Darius [Gray] is sharing the real Easter message right here: the resurrection means that Christ wins over the worst that the most powerful men in the world can do. The resurrection is a holy middle finger to oppression and death. It is the destiny of the restored church to overcome racism"
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.