The LDS Books of Which I Just Got Rid
Extricating myself from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been a rather gradual process, as I've held onto as many bits and pieces as I could in an attempt to minimize the existential crisis and convince myself that my twenty-one years of membership weren't a waste. So, for example, I stayed subscribed to the r/latterdaysaints subreddit until I got banned for encouraging nuanced thinking and intellectual honesty. The other day I took another step forward by getting rid of several LDS books that I'm never going to read again and in a majority of cases never read the first time. I'd already tossed my old "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet and my old "To Young Men Only" pamphlet (based on Boyd K. Packer's anti-masturbation General Conference talk that was quietly removed from the church's website a few years ago) in the recycle bin weeks earlier, but destroying actual books rubs me the wrong way unless the books themselves rub me the wrong way. I think the only books I've ever intentionally destroyed was Wizard's First Rule, that I burned after the delusional neighbor who loaned it to me stabbed me in the back and set in motion the worst day of my life, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, which I encountered at my old book warehouse job and surreptitiously tore the cover off of because I didn't want to sell it for reasons that should be obvious to decent human beings.
But just because these books no longer mean much to me doesn't mean someone else shouldn't benefit from them, so I chose to gave them away. Most of them, anyway. A few were gifts from family members or belonged to now-deceased family members so I'll keep them around for that fact at least. But the majority I took to the local YSA ward yesterday a couple hours before stake conference started. I set them up on a table outside the north chapel because it was empty and I've paid enough tithing to entitle myself to use it. The table outside the south chapel was covered with little papers and things, including a stack of little orange advertisements for stake conference that had obviously missed its chance to be of any use to anyone. At least I was able to give one of them a second chance.
Here, then, are brief descriptions of these books because I lack the motivation to find anything better to write about today. I'm sorry.
They Lie in Wait to Deceive Volume 1 - I picked this up a few years ago at the Logan Institute even though I had already read all four volumes in this series online. In this volume, Robert and Rosemary Brown strike back at professional critics Jerald and Sanda Tanner and some guy named Dee Jay Nelson who, in the seventies and early eighties, pretended to be a leading Egyptologist and went around giving lectures against the authenticity of the Book of Abraham. The Browns painstakingly documented all his lies about his credentials and experience, and were so successful that his career ended and today he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. I consider that a worthwhile effort even though real Egyptologists have also said plenty against the authenticity of the Book of Abraham.
The TRUTH About "The God Makers" - As I write this I've just remembered that I got this book from my now-deceased grandmother, but it wasn't a gift per se, she just had it laying around and didn't need it anymore, so I guess that's all right. This one is also available online. "The God Makers" is the title of a book and movie by evangelical countercultist Ed Decker, and both are regarded as laughable sensationalist garbage even by most other critics of the LDS Church. Their most lasting legacy is an excerpt posted on YouTube under the inaccurate title "Banned Mormon Cartoon." (Years ago I asked "Banned by whom, exactly?" I'm still waiting on a response.)
The Church of the Old Testament - I think I got this from the book warehouse on one of the days when they let us take free books home. I never read it. Presumably it attempts to root modern LDS practices in the very different practices of the Old Testament. Latter-day Saints and Christians in general read a lot of things between the lines of the Old Testament that Jews don't, and I suppose until we can ask the authors about it in person we won't know who's right. I'm more skeptical nowadays, but the author did have a BA in anthropology, a graduate certificate in Middle East Studies, an MA in linguistics, and an MA in Middle East studies (Hebrew) with minor in anthropology and archaeology, so he wasn't just some hack writing faith-promoting drivel for Deseret Book.
Mark E. Petersen - Virtually the only thing anyone remembers apostle Petersen (not Peterson) for is his insanely racist pro-segregation speech to BYU faculty in 1954. I picked up this biography by his daughter from the book warehouse in hopes of discovering that he had some redeeming qualities. I never got around to reading it, and since I'm no longer required to convince myself that he was a representative of Jesus Christ, I see no reason to do so in the future. I did, however, read Church Historian Leonard Arrington's diary a couple years ago, and I learned that Petersen was one of the leaders who fought Arrington at every turn when he tried to publish balanced and transparent history. So now I remember him for two things. That's an improvement. (Incidentally, after his death in 1984, Arrington remarked that his BYU speech "was one of the most bigoted and narrow-minded talks ever given by a 'disciple of Christ.')
On Becoming A Disciple-Scholar - I wanted to be a disciple-scholar. I wanted to be a paragon of faith and intellect working in harmony. Strange, then, that I never made the time to read this relatively short book. I must have been too busy arguing with strangers on the internet.
Law of the Harvest: Practical Principles of Effective Missionary Work - I bought this my freshman year of college at the peak of my enthusiasm to convert the world, even though it's available online. David Stewart was and is a believing member, yet the issues he raised in this book and elsewhere threatened my testimony quite a bit. As I grew up, claims about the church's spectacular growth were ubiquitously touted as proof that it was true. He pointed out with solid data that its growth rate had steadily fallen since the late 1980s and that a solid majority of members on the rolls no longer associated with the church in any capacity. (This has now become so obvious that it's common knowledge among people who aren't completely out of touch with reality.) What's worse, he pointed out how Jehovah's Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, and evangelical missionary and/or church planting programs (aka the ones that don't claim to be led by living prophets) have consistently and dramatically outperformed the LDS missionary program (aka the one that does claim to be led by living prophets) in terms of numerical growth and retention. Now look, I don't expect an "inspired" missionary program to have no room for improvement or nothing it can learn from other groups, but I do expect it to not necessitate some random guy outside the church leadership structure writing a book about why it sucks. So that was a faith crisis shelf item for a long time.
Saint Behind Enemy Lines - This is the story of Olga Kovářová Campora, a convert to the church from communist Czechoslovakia. I was going to read it earlier this year and then I didn't. I'm sure it's very inspiring and I don't begrudge her finding peace and/or joy wherever, but even as a believer I couldn't help thinking about how atypical her experience is for Eastern Europe. Today, thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the church has fewer than 3,000 members in the Czech Republic and Slovakia combined. A few years ago it had more Slovak members in Sheffield, England than in Slovakia. Maybe it still does, but the Slovak branch in that city was closed after not very long (with none of the fanfare that accompanied its opening, of course), so I don't know.
Sunshine for the Courageous Latter-day Saint Soul - Stories to make one feel warm and fuzzy, I'm sure. I suspect that many of them are drivel, but only having read one and found it tolerable, I shouldn't assume.
Brother to Brother - I stole this one from the book warehouse. It had been rejected, so we couldn't sell it and I was supposed to toss it in the recycle bin, but as one who had been obsessed for years with everything I could get my hands on about the church's (usually but not always abysmal) history with Black people, I had to read it. I snuck it home with me and read it. Co-author Rendell Mabey was one half of one half of the two senior missionary couples sent to Ghana and Nigeria in late 1978 following the revelation that made Black people eligible for priesthood ordination and temple ordinances. This is his story, and it's a faith-promoting story that has the benefit of being true. Between 1946 and 1978, tens of thousands of West Africans had obtained literature from the church and desired to be baptized. They knew about the priesthood and temple ban, of course (though additional stuff like Mark E. Petersen's BYU speech are another story), but tended (and still tend) not to care the way African-Americans tended (and still tend) to care. Many of them were still waiting when the missionaries finally arrived and baptized them.
Counseling With Our Councils - I got this from the institute when I was part of the Leadership Committee of the Latter-day Saint Student Association. I "won" it somehow, out of all the people there, but I don't remember how or why. With that being the case I feel kind of bad that I never read it because it looks really boring, but now it can be put to some use.
Then there's the little stack that I would have just recycled if they'd been all I had, because they're not real books, just manuals - three copies of Gospel Principles (I think the small one is an older edition, but I didn't care enough to look) and two volumes from Teachings of Presidents of the Church (Gordon B. Hinckley and Joseph Fielding Smith, the latter carefully curated to omit any of his teachings on race or science). I really ought to get rid of more books since I'm most likely going to move to another state next year, but I'm not sure I can bear to do that unless I apostatize from science fiction.
RIP Audrey and Haydon
Recently a couple of my dearest friends left Logan for good. I've known Audrey for over five years, since I met her at the pathologically incompetent and dishonest company known as Jenson Online where she was a manager and I was nobody. We became close friends, so when her boyfriend Haydon returned from Japan at the end of the summer, he didn't have much choice but to be my friend too. They got married and through the years they've graciously allowed me to continue being a third wheel. I am grateful to have had them in my life and I will miss them very much.
Because I'm not having a great time for various reasons and don't feel like writing a lot, I'll cheat by copy-pasting the following conversation from an old post. It captures the moment when I made a decision that set the rude and sarcastic tone of my friendship with Audrey going forward. I have no regrets.
Her: Are you working tomorrow?
Me: Yeah. Every day...
Her: It'll be a party.
Me: Really? What's the occasion?
Her: Ummm... we're still alive and making money. That's the only occasion I can think of.
Me: But we don't know if we will be... you never know, we could crash thirty seconds from now and both die.
Her: You mean in the car, or like planets colliding?
Me: Uh... I guess either way.
Her: I don't plan on it.
Me: People usually don't.
Her: Maybe they should. Maybe we should all plan on dying and live like it.
Me: I would be such a jerk. I would tell so many people how I really feel about them.
Her: Past people, or present?
Me: Um... mostly past. I like most of my coworkers.
Her: Haha! That's good. If you have something to say to me, the door is open.
Me: Um... um... I hate... the way you do your hair.
Her: Haha! What's wrong with it?
Me: It's like a crime against humanity.
Her: Haha! This is how it naturally is.
Me: Then I hate the way God does your hair.
Her: Haha! Sometimes I hate the way God does my hair too. I'll do it differently tomorrow... Anything else?
Me: I hate your clothes.
Her: A lot of times I just wear the company uniform.
Me: Well, it looks good on some people, but not you.
Her: What should I wear then?
Me: Um... a paper bag.
Her: Haha! A paper bag?
Me: I guess it would match your eyes...
Her: My eyes aren't brown.
Me: No? What are they then?
Her: They're hazel. Which is what people with brown eyes say to make themselves feel better.
Me: What's wrong with brown eyes?
Her: They're just boring...
Me: And what do you dislike about me?
Her: Chris, I don't like your height.
Me: My height?
Her: If you were just an inch shorter, or an inch taller, it would be fine, but this height just doesn't work for you.
Me: What if I gained weight and expanded out a little, to kind of balance it, would that help?
Her: Mm, no, I don't think there's really anything you can do about it.
Me: I see... anything else?
Her: Your socks. They're just boring.
Me: Oh... well, I have some black socks with hamburgers on them.
Her: Really?? That's great!
Me: I usually wear them to church, because they're black, but I suppose I could wear them to work...
Her: You should, and you should roll your pant legs up so everybody can see them.
Me: Okay... and you know, you don't actually have to change your hair tomorrow...
Her: I was thinking about straightening it, but now I'm going to just to make you feel bad.
Her: Of course.
One Semester Down, Three to Go
The last day of USU classes was Thursday, December 10, and though I had two final projects and my own students' grading to finish, for most intents and purposes I was already on vacation. My therapist a couple years ago said that his experience successfully procrastinating as an undergraduate made him less stressed in graduate school. That was one of the most comforting things I ever heard, and I really took it to heart. I've gotten a perfect score on every assignment in every class this semester and still had a lot more free time than I expected. Now I have no classes and no job for over a month; school starts again on January 19 because spring break is canceled to prevent students from traveling and bringing Sharona Cyrus back with them, is what I heard. Next summer, I will probably go back to my old job at Jenson Online for a while to get some extra money, but there's no point trying to do that right now, especially since December is their slowest time of year when they give employees free time off.
I was supposed to attend two sexual misconduct prevention trainings this semester - one for graduate students and one for university employees. I'm not sure why graduate students need to have their own training separate from normal students, but they do. The employee training never happened because it's being rewritten to conform with updated government regulations, but the graduate student training was... interesting. I signed up for a date and time and then showed up to a Zoom meeting with several other graduate students, and it basically went as follows.
Host: This is kind of an awkward topic.
Everyone else: Yes, well, that can't be helped, can it? We'll just have to deal with -
Host: So let's make it less awkward. Let's make it fun.
Everyone else: Uh, what?
Host: I'm gonna put you in breakout groups and have you answer icebreaker questions.
Everyone else: Icebreaker questions?? Um, thanks, but that's really not -
Host: I'm going to put you back in these groups over and over.
Everyone else: You really don't have to -
Host: Build some lifelong friendships!
Everyone else: Please don't do this
Host: Have fun!
Everyone else: We won't
By the fifth or sixth time I returned to my breakout group, none of us were speaking at all. The main group discussion was fine, though notably absent was any mention whatsoever of rights or due process for those accused of sexual misconduct. I'm sure that was just an oversight - this isn't Purdue, after all.
Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be a rule against graduate instructors asking out their students. I assume that if there were such a rule, it would have been announced very emphatically both during this training and the initial orientation. It makes no difference to me either way since none of my students are old enough or good enough at writing for me to be attracted to them, but I'm just surprised. My colleage Greyson got asked out by one of her students in a weekly reflection post, and she turned him down because it was "unprofessional". In the next week's reflection post he said that he hated her class and everything about it. Then he tried to make her jealous by talking about "this dope girl" he was going out with. Then he stopped coming to class. Then at the end of the semester he said he's dropping out of college and it's all her fault. I'm never going to stop teasing her about it. On a more positive note, one of my students asked out one of his classmates in a discussion post, and I was super impressed with his chutzpah and I hope they get married because that would be the cutest thing ever.
I also was supposed to have to take an alcohol training before I would be allowed to register for classes next semester, and that never materialized either. It would have been a waste of time anyway. I've never consumed a drop of alcohol in my life, and if I ever do, I know I'll immediately drink myself to death and there will be no other problems to consider.
Teaching was... good. I don't know what else to say. It wasn't phenomenal, it wasn't terrible, it wasn't super easy, it wasn't super difficult. I do seem to have natural teaching skills that somewhat compensate for my lack of knowledge or experience. I don't know how I could have acquired any such skills but I don't know how else to account for the semester going so smoothly under the circumstances. I love most of my students - I definitely have favorites, and one least favorite. My favorites are the best writers, of course, but also some others who aren't so good at writing but are just really good hard-working kids. I still don't know what most of them look like. I may have gotten an exceptional batch - my colleagues complained that all of their students wrote about Covid for the "Investigating the Conversation" current event essay, but my students, in addition to a few essays about Covid's effects on this or that, wrote about such diverse topics as Utah's drought, California's wildfires, Chicago's violence, Mexico's water treaty with the US, Chile's new constitution, Bolivia's election, Poland's abortion ban, and China's Uyghur genocide.
I tried to get them to talk and make friends with each other in class. For the most part they were awkward and quiet, but sometimes when they finished their work in breakout groups they asked each other about their lives and majors and stuff, and sometimes when I dropped in they asked me questions about my life and undergraduate experience and that was probably the most enjoyable thing for me so far. They didn't have many opportunities to socialize this semester and I wanted to help them out as much as I could. Most of them are freshmen getting cheated out of their freshman experience. When I was a freshman, events were held on campus and/or in my dorm almost every evening. Live, in-person events. I feel so sorry for these kids. I tried, also, to teach them skills and principles that will help them in everything they do for the rest of their lives. I thought back to a philosophy class I took my first semester, and how it taught me to think, and I wanted to replicate that effect in my own class. I never forced my opinions on anyone but I taught them how to evaluate sources and information and different perspectives, and that will help them be less stupid and dogmatic than most Americans.
I tried, also, to draw on my own experience to urge them to avoid my mistakes and consequent suffering, but here I was less successful. One of my students with a learning disability flunked the class after not showing up or turning anything in for two months, despite being informed by me about the Disability Resource Center four times. I ask myself, what could I have said or done differently to have more of an influence on this student? If nothing, then what's the point of me being here? If I wanted to watch young people ignore my warnings and make avoidable mistakes and suffer, I would become a parent.
For a long time it's baffled me when I bring up evolution and someone says something like "We didn't evolve, we were created!" It's struck me as a very silly false dichotomy. Because basically I'm saying "God's process of creation is evolution" and then they're saying "No, God's process of creation is creation." They act as if they're presenting an alternative theory when in fact they're not even explaining what it is. What is "creation"? Even if, for the sake of argument, the inconsistent creation accounts in Genesis (and the Pearl of Great Price and the endowment ceremony for Latter-day Saints) are taken as entirely accurate factual accounts of literal history, they don't give any appreciable level of detail. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Okay, but how? What physical laws and processes did God employ to do this? In place of mutations and natural selection - what?
I may need to reevaluate my position a little, though, since my recent discovery of an apocryphal document that, while still confusing, expands on some aspects of the Genesis narrative and answers some of those questions. It's obviously very old and valuable but someone clearly didn't realize that, because it ended up at the used book warehouse where I work. I translated it during break one day. (If a manager reads this, no, I didn't take it home in violation of company policy. I put it back on the belt.) I don't actually know Hebrew or whatever language it was in, but I do have an English degree, and any translator will tell you that it's more important to be fluent in the target language than the source language. So without further ado I present this fascinating and, I believe, essential contribution to the ongoing debate.
The Pamphlet of Achu-Hesh-Kabaz
Now it came to pass that after God had created this world, he looked it over and noticed that it had no wars, pollution, police brutality, or unnecessary franchise reboots. And he decided to change that because he was bored.
So God passed through an airlock in the dome above the Earth, pausing on the other side to admire the stars embedded in it, and descended to the ground.
And God gathered a lot of dust, and he used static electricity and tree resin to stick the dust together in the approximate shape of himself. And when this was done, he gave the dust doll mouth-to-nose resuscitation, and it transformed into a living man with bones and organs and everything.
But God noticed that the man's anatomy incorporated several flaws and quirks that would have made sense if it had been the product of descent with modification from earlier life forms, but which were quite frankly embarrassing as the direct product of an omnipotent being working from scratch. And God said, "Oops, let me start over."
But it was too late; the man had instantaneously achieved sapience and the abilities to walk, talk, and count on his fingers. And the man asked, "Why isn't my spine built to support a bipedal gait?"
And God said, "None of your business, that's why." And he decided this was good enough for now after all, and he named the man Adam. But Adam wouldn't stop asking questions.
So God planted a garden eastward in Eden, a beautiful perfect paradise where no death or suffering existed, which rendered its existence somewhat superfluous because no death or suffering existed in the entire world. And when God had finished planting, he picked Adam up between his thumb and forefinger and carefully deposited him inside the garden.
And God said, "Run free, Adam, and name the animals and stay out of my way until I'm ready to deal with you. Help yourself to the fruit from any of these trees, except for this one tree that I put here even though I don't want you to eat from it."
And Adam said, "Isn't that entrapment?"
And God said, "Yes, but entrapment isn't actually illegal. Just don't eat it or you'll die."
So Adam ate the fruit of all of the trees except that one. And because he didn't actually need sustenance, he ate only because he was bored. And because death had not yet entered the world, every cell of every piece of fruit somehow remained alive as he chewed, digested and excreted it, which is pretty horrific in a "I have no mouth and I must scream" kind of way.
And Adam made friends with all the animals, and named them. His favorite was a Velociraptor named Tiffany. She was a cunning predator who used her speedy legs, sickle-shaped claws, and serrated jaws to eat grass. He trained her to fetch sticks and told her she was a clever girl.
But it came to pass that Adam grew lonely. Even though he inexplicably had at least 98% of his DNA in common with chimpanzees, transcription errors and all, he still didn't have much in common with them, and his dates with them never ended well.
And Adam said, "God, I'm lonely."
And God said, "Are you talking to me or just moaning to yourself?"
And Adam said, "The first one."
And God said, "I'll see what I can do."
And God gave Adam knockout gas. And God said, "Kali Ma... Kali Ma..." And God reached right into Adam's torso with his bare hand and pulled out a rib without even leaving a scratch. And God said, "Hocus pocus, flippity flam, arazzamatazz, and alakazam!" And the rib expanded and morphed into a real life honest to goodness living breathing woman.
And the woman asked, "Why isn't my spine built to support a bipedal gait?"
And God said, "Shut up."
And Adam woke up and saw the woman and his eyes got really big. And God said, "Ta-da! I hope you like her, because she's all you're getting."
And Adam said, "Wow, compared to those chimpanees, she's beautiful!"
And God said, "Smooth."
And the woman said to Adam, "Get lost, creep, I wouldn't date you if you were the only man on Earth." And Adam's face fell.
And the woman said, "Psych! It's a joke, get it? It's funny because you literally are the only man on Earth. Try this one: I want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world."
And Adam said, "Haha! It's funny because you literally are the only girl in the world!"
And Tiffany the Velociraptor's face fell. And Adam scratched the feathers behind her earholes, which she had for some reason despite not being in any way related to birds, and said, "I didn't mean it like that, Tiff. Who's a clever girl? Yes you are! Yes you are!"
And the woman continued, "Mister, I feel like I've known you all my life. It's almost as if we were made for each other. Let's make this a world for two."
But God found her "jokes" so lame that he flooded the entire planet in a fit of rage, which created a momentary nuisance for all the immortal plants and animals but left behind no geological evidence. And he apologized, but wouldn't promise never to do it again.
And it came to pass that Adam and the woman sat in the Garden of Eden doing diddly squat. And they loved each other very much, but as the years went by the woman became so bored that she decided certain death didn't sound so bad.
And one day she ate the forbidden fruit, and after she had eaten the forbidden fruit and saw that she was still alive, she cast her eyes to the heavens and cried out, "Will this beautiful perfect nightmare never end?"
Little did the woman know, however, that the moment her teeth pierced the skin of the fruit, it released an oscillating wave of variable-frequency hypertronic alpha radiation particulates into the atmosphere, which immediately altered the subatomic structure of every living thing on Earth, introducing death, sin, pain, disease, and conspiracy theories into the world.
But the fruit tasted exquisite, so she took it to Adam. And he asked why she had eaten it, and she made up a ridiculous story about a talking snake, and he laughed and fell in love with her sense of humor even more.
And God made them put some clothes on, leave the Garden of Eden and get real jobs.
And God said, "Oh, also you can have kids now, which you couldn't do in the Garden of Eden because I want to get the deposit back."
And Adam said, "Well, I guess if we're going to have more humans running around, I should give the woman a name."
And God said, "Wait, what? You never bothered to give her a name?"
And Adam said, "It seemed unnecessary. She always responded to 'Hey, you.'"
And God said, "Oh, for the love of me. Fine, give her a name then."
And Adam said, "Hmmm... how about Steve?"
And God said, with inexplicable discomfort evident in his voice, "Um, I don't think so. Try again."
And Adam said, "Okay, just Eve then?"
And Eve said, "I see myself as more of a Jessica," but no one listened to her.
So Adam procreated with the woman made from his own DNA, and then their children procreated with each other, which actually explains a lot about the state of the human race today.
And Tiffany the Velociraptor had to be put to sleep after she tried to kill their infant son Cain. And Adam cried for days. But at least Cain was all right.
And it came to pass that one day Adam and Eve were going for a nice romantic stroll through the miserable wasteland when they caught God planting bones of Australopithecus, homo erectus, homo habilis, Neanderthals, anatomically modern humans more than six thousand years old, and various other imaginary creatures.
And Adam watched in astonishment and asked, "God, why are you doing this?"
And God said, "To test the faith of future generations."
And Eve said, "By lying to them?"
And God said, "It's not lying! It's... um... it's... look, don't question my ways, okay? My ways are not your ways. End of discussion."
And it was.
After being unemployed for nearly a month, I returned to my job on Monday. The company took out a loan from this new government program to be able to reopen. See, only billion-dollar banks and corporations qualify for huge taxpayer-funded bailouts. Small businesses like this one have to content themselves with taking out loans. But that's none of my business. Anyway, the timing came as a surprise to me because, though the initial closure was due to Amazon's issues due to the beer bug rather than due to the beer bug itself, I assumed it would remain closed at least until May 1 when Governor Herbert will start to loosen up his "Stay Safe, Stay Home" policy a bit. Or maybe until July, depending on how long Amazon takes to straighten out its issues. I had just started getting used to my life consisting solely of sitting at home alone and going on long walks alone. The first couple weeks dragged on and on and on and with no end in sight, the thought occurred to me more than once that I might end up hanging myself, but then the days just started to zip by. Sleep in a little, work on my Spotify playlist, take a walk, and bam, it's already dinnertime.
I hope it's safe to go back because I couldn't legally decline the offer and continue to collect unemployment insurance. For that matter, I haven't gotten nearly as much money from unemployment insurance as I was supposed to. Utah's website was all like "Yes, the federal government passed this bill to increase weekly unemployment payments by $600, but we're not doing that yet because something something bullcrap." And yes, I agree with those complaining that essential workers should also be getting $600 weekly raises, if not more, but I never asked to lose my job so I don't appreciate being painted as some kind of villain for getting paid to do nothing. Anyway, the company is taking new precautionary measures and there are a lot fewer of us anyway since many employees have gone home to their families. Every other workstation is empty, weekly food days are gone, congregating during breaks is forbidden and I always wear a mask. It should be fine until the second wave hits during flu season and Utah has no herd immunity.
I'm very frustrated with the people who refuse to take this pandemic seriously, who implicitly treat it as a joke or explicitly claim that it's being blown out of proportion. Someone recently complained that all my Facebook posts nowadays are "judgey" of people doing things that I don't approve of. Well yes, I suppose I am a bit judgey of people whose apathy and/or stupidity is actively endangering God knows how many innocent lives. I do believe that if there were any justice in the world, the virus would evolve to specifically target the people who are protesting for the right to catch it. I'd rather just catch it and get it over with too but I recognize that other people don't want to die and I have no right to kill them if I can avoid it. Even if, according to Republican logic, they are sub-human and don't count as evidence of the virus' seriousness because they were over sixty or had underlying health conditions. "All lives matter" my butt.
It's kind of sickening that as a society and as a species we're at a point of having to weigh people's lives against something called "the economy". Because people's lives are, you know, an actual thing, whereas the economy is a manmade illusion. We invented this stuff called money, we decided that it has value because we say it does, and we decided that most adults' every waking moment should be spent stressing over it. We twisted the wholesome principle of honest work for honest pay into a system designed to keep poor people poor and make the average life revolve around the constant pursuit of money. I recognize that money is a necessary evil and that running modern civilization without it would be virtually impossible. I don't know of a better alternative. But still, a slight reality check would be nice. Money is not real. The economy is not real. The stock market is just a bunch of numbers. So why do we worship them? Why are we debating what number or percentage of human lives is an acceptable sacrifice to prevent this manmade illusion from floundering further?
The mental health problem, at least, is a legitimate concern that the people saying "stay home" over and over have almost entirely glossed over. It took a heavy toll on my mental health until I got used to it. I didn't think giving up my limited social activities would make any noticeable difference, but it did, and then one of my greatest worries was realized when I lost my job. Life was boring and lonely and miserable and even though I was getting used to it I'm glad I have my job back. I feel somewhat validated in what I said years ago when I first got this job - that it's a very good job, and it's like a marriage, in that you start out all excited and stuff but as the years where on it becomes commonplace and tedious and you have to consciously remind yourself every day how blessed you are to have it. Of course, I will be leaving and probably never coming back after I become a graduate instructor and hopefully kick off a teaching career this fall. But it's hard to say what that will even look like. Will I do everything online? Will the university even be open? The uncertainty kind of blows. But even so, I think I'm finally figuring out how to be an adult and for the first time since becoming one, I'm optimistic about the future.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, 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.