It’s hard to compose a post about something Mormonish when the dark cloud of the Great Pandemic of 2020 hangs over daily life here in America. Have you ever read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman? It recounts the events leading up to the First World War and how the initial German campaigns played out during the critical first month of the war. Everyone, on both sides, thought it would be a short affair, all wound up by Christmas. In 1918, four years and millions of lives later, battered armies were still slugging it out in the trenches. Pandemically, I feel like it’s December 1914 and we’re starting to realize this is a long-term thing. We still have other viral illnesses, colds and the flu, every year. Now we’ll have coronovirus, too.
But things will get better. A vaccine will improve things. The big things in life will get back to “new normal” (people will go back to work, to school, to church) but lots of little things will change permanently. What has changed for you already? I’ll list a few secular and a few churchy things that have changed or that will change, most for the better, probably.
- More working from home, even when things settle down.
- Checkers behind plexiglass, just like bank tellers.
- A lot less dine-in and a lot more takeout.
- A whole new way of coughing in public.
- A lot less public touching going on: doorknobs, keypads, armrests.
Church life, and it’s going to be really interesting to see whether these possible changes are mandated from the top or whether local units makes some of these changes or whether individual members force the changes themselves:
- No more handshaking. Ever.
- The whole sacrament procedure is going to change, or else a lot of members are going to just say no.
- What if they pass the sacrament and no one partakes? (“Thanks but no thanks, bishop. I’ve renewed my covenants a few thousand times already. I feel like I have satisfied my lifetime quota.”)
- New calling: Church Cleaner (circulate throughout the building on Sunday, spraying and wiping).
- Don’t come to church if you are sick!
- Somehow change the class and teaching and calling arrangement so people can feel they are not letting everyone down (class without a teacher, etc.) by not coming to church despite being sick. Call permanent subs for Primary.
- Temple practices will certainly have to change, but I’m not going to speculate on the details.
- Clean the pulpit and the mic between speakers? Yeah, maybe that’s too much to ask. Or maybe not. Ask Rudy Gobert.
A month ago, a lot of this would have seemed like overkill in church. It would have seemed awkward and out of place. But with all the changes that merchants and governments are putting in place to protect employees and customers, it’s going to be almost expected in church. A lot of little things are going to change.
What changes have you noticed in your daily life? When and if you go back to church, what are your expectations?