I’m on a road trip through Texas. First time through Texas for me. When you’re in Texas, it’s hard to think about anything but Texas. At least Texas gas is $3 a gallon, so maybe I shouldn’t complain about Texas. Staying at a couple of motels I have been able to watch a couple of nights of Olympic coverage. So let’s talk about the Olympics and give everyone a chance to share their favorite Olympic moment. Faster. Higher. Stronger.
Mormon Athletes. The LDS Newsroom has a post listing Mormon athletes competing at these Tokyo Games. I saw a TV spot on Mormon gymnast Mykayla Skinner, who won a silver on the vault. Three cheers for all the athletes, and an extra cheer for LDS athletes representing their various countries.
New Sports. Every Games introduces a new sport or new event or two. This Games it must be the kayak sprinting, which I’ve never seen before. When I do kayaking, it’s going downriver. No sprinting needed. My goal is to avoid snags in the river and, you know, not die or something. A few years ago beach volleyball was introduced. It seems to be a popular event for TV coverage. Gotta be in great shape to do a full three-set match of beach volleyball. I think I’d be dead or dying after four points.
Covid Olympics. You just can’t get away from it. No fans or few fans for most events. Athletes struggling with masks before and after events. Some athletes test positive and are dropped from events. In stateside news, new Covid surges are being reported in several states as the Delta variant spreads among the unvaccinated. New mask mandates are popping up again. It’s getting harder to have patience or sympathy for the stupid arguments un-vaxxers keep repeating. It is beyond irritating that Mormon un-vaxxers are a big part of the problem.
After a flurry of “Covid and the Church” posts last year when everything was in flux, we haven’t talked much about it since. We’re all busy just muddling through. But you are welcome to weigh in with a comment. My ward went back to in-person church with singing and few or no masks about two months ago. Just in time for local case rates to start rising again, fueled by the Delta variant. We’re not in the endgame yet. We may only just be starting the middle game in this thing.
So here are some things to talk about:
- Texas. Looking out my window, it’s hazy and hot and flat as a pancake. Tell me something you like about Texas.
- Olympics. For most of the athletes, competing in an Olympic event is the peak experience of their life. We wish them all well, from the gold medalists to the many participants who are happy just to make it to the Games and compete in an event. Do you have a favorite Olympic moment? I’ve shared mine before, so I’m gonna pass the torch and let readers share their own Olympic moments, those events or performances you were proud to watch and can’t forget.
- Covid. I don’t want it to become a nothing-but-Covid thread, but sheesh we just can’t get over this. Here’s an odd thought for readers: After all of the various doctrinal and historical issues that have troubled the Church and sometimes led members to exit over the last few decades, it’s gonna be Covid that does the most damage to the Church and drives away the most members. What a strange turn of events.
Let’s end on a happy thought. In our time of troubles, some of the best in us collectively shines at the Olympics: achievement, comaraderie, sportsmanship, the thrill of victory. Let’s hope that by the next Summer Games three years from now Covid is part of the past.
What I like about Texas:
No state income tax
Cheap car registration
No personal property taxes
East Texas Piney Woods
The Hill Country
Tubing in New Braunfels
The night skies in Big Bend
Swimming in the warm Gulf waters
But driving — especially across west Texas — is brutal.
Our stake’s reaction to Covid was originally the reason I stopped attending.
We had about 3 months of at-home church in the spring of 2020 before they decided they were tired of it. Sacrament meeting started back up in the summer with no restrictions on singing and no mask requirements in any ward except mine (our building is on a reservation that had stricter Covid precautions than the rest of the state). Full two hour block began in October.
Many of the members scoffed at wearing masks, despite the legal requirement to do so. So much for all those thin-blue-line sticker families respecting the law! A member of our bishopric posted a lengthy Facebook rant early on saying the elderly had lived their lives and should sacrifice themselves so the rest of us could continue on as normal. This man was supposed to be a representative of Christ (not to mention an MD), and the comments from other ward members in total agreement were hard to wrap my head around.
And who can forget the eternal principle of Mormon victimhood, whining that temporary restrictions were a major assault on our religious freedom? That this also came from the top (Thanks, Bednar) was a very heavy item I placed on my shelf. The stress of having to go back and being one of the only families to all wear masks was a stark contrast to the spiritual Sundays we briefly had doing church at home.
At least President Nelson made a small effort to encourage members to be considerate, though I was struck by how unprophetic overall he was last year. Trump is the church’s true prophet now. The sensible things the First Presidency are saying go willfully ignored.
All this plus the historical issues and the church’s present-day political meddling finally did it for me.
I was stationed in the Air Force in San Angelo, Texas in 1974 and 1976-1977. Very nice small city of 100.000, but on the back side of the moon. Yes, driving in West Texas IS brutal. The landscape looks like God barfed all over the earth, and it baked dry and hard. We just to joke that the best thing to come out of Texas was Route 66.
Favorite thing about Texas? Stubb’s BBQ, Austin. Second favorite thing about Texas?: Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Re COVID: I don’t know if that’s what’s going to drive away the most members, but home church certainly seems to have depressed turnout by about 20% in my area. Will folks eventually return? Who knows. It’ll take another year or two to properly assess COVID’s impact, I think. I have noticed lately (say, over the past three or four years) that church doesn’t help me improve as a person at all. The work I’m doing to be a better person, husband, etc. is all just about me putting in more effort because I think I should. I’m doing this without deliberate, intentional prayer, or really participating in anything church related other than sacrament meeting. I’ve actually found, upon reflection, that church just sort of got in the way. It’s too programmatic for me, I suppose. I’m wondering how much the COVID/home church thing has triggered a similar realization in others.
foxinhikingshorts: I agree with much of what you say. There are enough progressive members in my area, though, to make me feel that not all is lost. But I certainly think it’s no coincidence that my really feeling sour on church coincided with the election of Trump and the bizarre spectacle of seeing so many members feeling like they had to go all in on him. I don’t know what’s wrong with saying, “Hey, Trump is a liar and a con artist, but I’m concerned about the Supreme Court and other things, so I voted for him” instead of jumping on board whole-heartedly, which is what most conservative members in my area seemed to do.
And yes, the victimhood thing is really too much to bear. This from a group of folks who belong to a church that consistently marginalizes enormous swaths of humanity, effectively laundering their prejudices through the cover of God’s will.
1976 quote from Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top): When we were little, my grandma used to say “yall be good children, so when you die, instead of going to heaven, you’ll stay here in Texas”.
Dusty Hill wanders Texas now.
“Poor New Mexico! So far from heaven and so close to Texas” was allegedly said by New Mexico governor Manuel Armijo, about 1850.
“So Far From Heaven” by Richard Bradford, his 2d novel, titled from Territorial Gov. Manuel Armijo’s classic remark
What I like best about Texas — I’m not there.
The Olympics have degenerated into a sleeze-fest. Scantily clad women tossing around a ball in a pit of sand? Absolutely nothing redeeming there. For the Olympic Committee to mandate such objectifying uniforms is shameful. Responsible parents should boycott this travesty.
Texas — It provided my son with a living for about a year. That’s about it, since Chez Fred in Austin is long since closed.
Olympics — Worth noting that Sarah Robles won a bronze in weightlifting. Gotta give athletes in the unglamorous sports their props. Otherwise, although this Olympics has put mental health back into the national conversation, I’m not sure it has done so in a productive manner. It is being treated as some monolithic entity that can be effectively treated by “focusing on it.” The fact that Simone Biles’ mental health issues and Michael Phelps’ mental health issue are completely different animals is being overlooked. Also, people want to connect Biles’ status as a sexual assault victim and/or the weight of the world being placed on her shoulders with her case of the “twisties.” We don’t actually know that there is any correlation. The twisties can happen to any gymnast at any time.
Covid — Our Stake President is being released this Sunday. In his invitation to attend (or watch via Zoom), he gave delivered a message that was about as strongly pro-vax as possible without completely disavowing the Church’s “individual decision” statement. We’ll see if his successor takes the same stance.
I’m happy for MyKayla Skinner, who has her own inspiring story–one that is genuinely inspiring, not just in a Mormon-y faith-promoting way. She took a non-traditional career path, had one last shot at making the Olympic team, came back from a COVID infection, got in through the backdoor, and considered herself just incredibly lucky to be there at all, never expecting to medal, even failing to qualify for team finals. And then Simone steps aside, gives MyKayla a chance to shine, and she rises to the occasion. Good for her!
Of course, my boomer mom sees the recap on TV and can’t seem to get past the fact that MyKayla was competing on a Sunday and was obviously not wearing her garments. After my eyes stopped rolling from that comment, I realized that the Church messaging I grew up with in the 90s seemed to emphasize those things strongly (dressing modestly and not doing secular activities on the sabbath) and my mom was just echoing those sentiments, with the inherent judgment they carry. It seemed like most issues of the New Era back in those days contained quasi-inspirational stories about high-achieving LDS teens who ultimately gave up on their sports/music/dance/artistic dreams because of immodesty or sabbath day restrictions or to serve missions…and we never heard from them again. In seminary they made us watch “Chariots of Fire” and held it up as an example of proper sabbath-day observance for athletes (conveniently ignoring the fact that this was also during the era in which Steve Young was at the peak of his career). But today, stories celebrating MyKayla Skinner’s success are going to be all over the Deseret News and the Church-run media for days, if not weeks, complete with pictures of her in “immodest” competition attire. She might even get name-dropped at the next General Conference or be invited to speak at EFY. She deserves to be congratulated, but I don’t think its right for the Church to take credit for her success or try to score PR points off her, especially when generations of LDS athletes before her felt compelled to quit their sport too early because that’s what they thought they were expected to do.
It’s just weird that some things in the Church that used to be super important (and supposedly carried eternal consequences) aren’t that important anymore. At any rate, she did a great job and I’m proud of her, not just for her athletic achievement but for standing up against the inevitable Mormon passive-aggressive judgment that she has likely dealt with over the years.
Things I like about Texas: the University of Texas, Austin, brisket, Tex-Mex, breakfast tacos, high school football and the pageantry that goes with it, and state pride.
Olympics: watching the Tunisian kid Ahmed Hafnaoui (he’s 18 so he’s a kid to me), win gold in the 400m freestyle. About as no-name as you can get on the world swimming stage and he goes out and beats the American, Brit, and Aussie powerhouses. You love to see it!
COVID: First, I’m vaccinated and I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Second, I’m worried that people on both sides of the issue haven’t accepted the fact that COVID is here to stay just like the flu and any other easily communicable disease. This is not a case of dealing with COVID and imposing mask mandates and staying home “for the duration” but accepting that COVID adds another risk factor to life that needs to be taken into proper account going forward. What I don’t want is a world where we are forever making decisions solely based on COVID.
Most in the developed world have had the opportunity for months now to get vaccinated and they now bear responsibility for protecting themselves. Yes, there are those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons but thankfully they are relatively few and, we sometimes forget that we have had immuno-compromised brothers and sisters long before COVID was on the scene and yet we have managed to make things work (and thisprovides yet another reason to get vaccinated if you are medically able to do so – save another person’s life). Thankfully, PPE now exists to allow the immuno-compromised to mingle much more freely than before.
Additional mask mandates for those who are vaccinated disincentivizes the unvaccinated to get vaccinated. Why should I get a vaccine that I don’t understand or trust (unscientific as that thinking is) if nothing changes? I still have to wear a mask, I can’t go out, and life is still not normal. By all means, force the unvaccinated to mask up, but the more unbearable you make it for those who do the right thing by getting vaccinated, the harder it’s going to be to get those on the fence to get the shot.
I’ve been to Houston. Cool city with people from all over the world. Truly teeming with culture and a wide array of traditions. I quite like Galveston as well.
Mandate the vaccine. I’ve had enough. The only true path to freedom is through the vaccine. Belief that everyone should just have the choice is a fake freedom.
I would point to a combination of our response to Covid and the last election with January 6th. The country is fractured and the fault lines extend right through church membership. Granted, gay rights and the church history issues were causing ruptures, but nothing like we have now.
The fractures have cleaved us along educational, political and generational boundaries, creating an odd pluralism within the membership that we haven’t experienced along the Mormon Corridor before. There are also widening fissures between U.S. members and the rest of the Church.
My thoughts on the Lone Star State–my first real-life encounters with Texans happened when I joined the military. Seemed like half the guys there were from Texas, and they made sure you knew it. They were friendly people and had personality to spare, but they sure talked about their home state as if it were some exalted version of America. Years later, during a cross-country move I had occasion to make a multi-day drive across Texas, mid-summer. I spent days behind the wheel, looking around at the parched flat landscape, wondering what the hell those guys were so proud of. And their recent power grid fiascoes are among the many reasons why it’s not always great to be “like a whole other country”. If you like Texas so much, you can have it. And I don’t care who I offend by saying this: In-n-Out is far superior to Whataburger.
Perhaps the most redeeming quality of Texas is its people. Real nice folks, but I can’t figure out why they like it there so much.
Texas: Been in Houston for a few days. Weather was terrible. Otherwise my Texas experience is limited to what is visible on I-40.
Olympics: Haven’t watched in in 20 years.
Covid: Our stake returned to normal in July, but our Bishop is still letting us do home church because we have some high risk family members.
JCS: There have been several recent instances of young female athletes refusing to wear revealing uniforms. I suspect that we will see a trend toward less sexualized sport uniforms for women over the next few years thanks to our young, wonderful, croc wearing generation.
Haven’t been to Texas, but would like to some day. I haven’t watched any of the Olympics except for a recent road trip, which was brief.
I’ll admit, I’m personally having a hard time being patient with those who are losing patience with anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.
When you have a few vaccine experts–people who the media would have gone to first five years ago–get completely ignored for sounding an alarm now, it should at least make you pause. If it was any other drug or vaccine at any time prior to Covid it would have been pulled by now. I understand the need for emergency authorization, but I worry it will result in lower standards for what we consider safe in the future. The last thing I’d want to see is more deaths in upcoming decades from this and future injections than from Covid itself. I have not yet ruled out getting it, but can totally understand why someone would want to wait a few months or indefinitely prior to taking an injection that didn’t technically meet the definition of a vaccine until a few months ago (since dictionaries are descriptive, rather than prescriptive, as BB pointed out a few months ago). One can be pro traditional vaccine but still be leery of gene therapy. Yes, it’s been around for a while. Never on this scale.
Having said that, I’m one of the last people in my ward still wearing a mask. In studying a number of sciences, I’ve never been convinced the negative trade-offs in wearing them were outweighed by the benefits, especially in public, but honesty is the only thing keeping that piece of fabric on my face, since the unvaccinated have been asked by the stake to still wear them.
I’d agree that it’s still too early to see Covid’s impact on the Church, but I’ve been far more surprised by how many have returned, rather than not.
Old Man, given the lower rates of vaccination for Black, Hispanic, and First Nations people compared with whites and Asians, I’m not sure it’s so easy to say that your politics dictate whether you are vaccinated right now.
Eli – Double Masters degrees in molecular biology and biotechnology from Johns Hopkins, and over 17 years directly managing clinical trials, speaking here. None of the vaccines administered in the U.S. constitute gene therapy. All are considered vaccines. Feel free to share your opinions but at least try harder to get the science right.
Also: The standards for Emergency Use Authorization haven’t changed because of covid. Patient safety is always the foremost consideration.
COVID update: my ward has been back to 2-hour meetings and maskless singing for a few months now, but still webcasts sacrament meeting for the few who can’t go in person. There are a handful of members who still wear masks to Church, no one seems to care either way.
Recently, one member of my ward (early 60s) tested positive, and developed symptoms. Over the weekend, he was admitted to ICU and put on a ventilator. They are about to start dialysis on him because his kidneys are shutting down. Overall, the prognosis is not good. He is a kind, gentle soul and a former bishopric member, but was also easily swayed by alt-right news sources and was hesitant to get vaccinated, and now its too late for him. Whatever happens, I hope this will encourage the anti-vax holdouts in the ward to change their minds and soon. It also makes me frustrated with the Church leadership (both general and local) for their continual failure to lead out on this issue. They are silent or too gentle about letting it be a matter of choice. The time for that has passed–we need mandates, threats of confiscating temple recommends, disciplinary action, public shaming, etc. Push the anti-vaxxers out of the Church where they can no longer infect the rest of us with their diseases or their un-Christlike agendas. Whatever it takes to get us all fully compliant. Having lived in California during Prop 8, it amazes me how not that long ago Church leaders were able to whip up enthusiasm and mobilize the members to get behind such a cause as outlawing the imaginary threat of gay marriage, but when an actual public health threat comes along, they seem to be as impotent as…well, elderly men.
Jack, I’m in favor of vaccination but not of those who think it makes them immune and they don’t need to take further precautions. My fully-vaccinated (Pfizer) son now has covid despite vaccination and despite masking and social distancing as soon as we realized there was some exposure. In my view the anti-maskers, gathering indoors (at church or otherwise) without social distancing whether or not vaccinated are also a part of the problem. I have reason to believe that some church leaders are not dealing appropriately with the matter out of fear that people won’t come back. Our stake has rescinded the blanket permission to do the sacrament at hope. — clearly an effort to put a greater burden on those who do not feel safe at church.
To “Wondering”, this is off topic of the original essay, but I would appreciate some more information about your fully-vaccinated son with COVID. Does he have symptoms? Is his case mild or is he hospitalized.
My personal experience is seeing people who have been vaccinated and who still tested positive, but who have no symptoms or mild ones. I would appreciate your input.
Eli, there is no debate on the leading available vaccines. Now over 1 billion have been vaccinated for COVID-19. The data is overwhelming just how effective the vaccines are. Why give so much heed to fringe figures and no heed to the consensus of the medical establishment who have studied the vaccines and COVID-19 and published far more on it than the fringe? It truly makes no sense. You do a disservice to general individual freedom by excessive contrarianism and paranoia about the mainstream and the establishment.
I’m incredibly grateful for my UK SP. They decided that although we could legally gather again that we should wait for case rates to come down before encouraging members back.
Those that want to can (masked & socially distanced) , those that want to worship from home, crack on.
The word is that our wards will unlikely start full on church for another 6 months. Such a gentle, conservative, considerate approach.
I am genuinely bemused by the ideas in the states that we should rush people back to the chapels.
I’m an Olympic geek. Been watching the bmx freestyle! Worthington knocked it out of the park!
JCS, just because you’re scared of skin, doesn’t made it a sin.
Breathable, comfortable, technical uniforms improve performance.
I’m always looking at the science and will continue to do so. I just don’t look to epidemiologists for expert advice on the rise in suicides, nor do I look to biochemists to determine the course of politics. For your benefit, I wish you had given 2019 Webster’s the memo of what a vaccine is, since it might have put more people at ease. I choose not to look at one field to inform my decision, which I’m still forming. Sorry if it feels slow and stupid. Don’t give up on us holdouts yet.
Even if I were one of the first in line for the vaccine, and even if I was doing all my power to convince everyone to take it, I would also remain one of the first to defend people’s right not to take it, precisely because of people like you. Even if this vaccine cured cancer and the common cold with zero risks, once you have the ability to force everyone to do what’s right, you also have the ability to force them to do what’s wrong. It does not take a PhD in History to understand that principle. I have zero trust in your judgment as I’m sure you have none in mine. Liberty equalizes the playing field. The harder you push, the harder people will push back. If you truly believe things would just go back to normal after mandating a vaccine, then you’re likely as naive as you make me out to be. And by the way, it’s not just fringe bringing up stuff. There are a few “Freckles” out there who disagree. It certainly makes it harder to take in info, but it’s got to be done. It makes me wonder how often we might be silencing a “Galileo” in opinions just because it doesn’t meet what we know so far. I feel like science is more about asking questions than readily accepting answers. If it’s just answers, then resembles more of what much of modern religion is, rather than science.
I love watching the Olympics.
And when in Texas, I love Papadeaux’s and Papacito’s!
I don’t understand the point of God and prophets. Here we are in a pandemic, we fasted for guidance, and the best our leaders can give us is the rescinding and un-rescinding of a general conference session? Why can’t the prophet take a stand on vaccines and masks but can take a stand on the use of the term Mormon and how many earrings women have?
And Eli. Your information is fringe. Please for the love of all read the stories of people who are on their deathbeds regretting not getting vaccinated. These stories are everywhere right now. Do it for your loved ones.
Texas: I lived in Cleburne TX as a 3rd grader, and we were definitely not fans. It’s the first place I saw black students actually forced to sit in the back of the classroom and socially ostracized. Classmates told me “They’re bussed in” like that meant they didn’t really go to the school. Also, there were prayers in class before we were sent to lunch which made me really uncomfortable, knowing that our prayers weren’t the same. I was used to separation of church & state. But you asked for good things about Texas. We did spend a lovely day walking in dinosaur footprints in the river at Glen Rose as a family. As an adult, I had offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio that reported to me, and I loved how diverse our Houston team was. The San Antonio office was also a lot of fun with great leaders.
Olympics: I confess I haven’t watched any this go around.
Covid: I suspect that our new ward has some Covid deniers, but I don’t know people. Almost nobody is masking now, and while I suspect the majority are vaxed, I heard that there is at least one vocal family that is anti-mask. Apparently she’s the one who sings every hymn like it’s her solo on The Voice. We are in Primary, and that’s about my speed.
For the record, the single up vote I’ve gotten so far from either of my last comments isn’t mine. 😉
Re: Angela’s comment “Apparently she’s the one who sings every hymn like it’s her solo on The Voice.”. LOL. Reminds me of when I visited a ward and discovered it was Michael Ballam’s ward. He was impossible to miss when the singing started.
Covid: our stake, like many in Utah, went up and down in Covid precautions. For a while they divided us into three groups so they could socially distance in the chapel, then two groups, then three again. We were always singing. Whatever. As of late, the stake President said everyone could return to church and the full block, but any one at risk of catching or spreading Covid should wear a mask. In my mind, prior to Delta variant, that meant everyone not vaccinated, which is everyone under 12 and probable 50% or more of the adults. And yet no one masks at all. They are done with it. And I think the stake President, who previously had promoted precautions, has given up
It has been fascinating yet frustrating to see so many who will preach obedience and respect for leadership, but don’t follow the recommended practices to prevent diseases, particularly vaccination and masking.
I agree with someone above, sorry can’t remember who, who commented that it’s getting time to work on more permanent solutions for Covid. It isn’t going away. It would be nice if we could get everyone vaccinated, and just get rid of this thing, but it looks like that just ain’t gonna happen. It’s probably too late anyway.
“Covid Olympics: It is beyond irritating that Mormon un-vaxxers are a big part of the problem.”
Mormon anti-vaxxers are the problem in a country with 1% Christianity?
“ It has been fascinating yet frustrating to see so many who will preach obedience and respect for leadership, but don’t follow the recommended practices to prevent diseases, particularly vaccination and masking.”
Our ward did away with most COVID precautions—social distancing, no singing, masks for everyone ( unvaccinated still required to wear masks). Then, two or three weeks ago our Stk Pres. said everyone unvaccinated—including children—need to mask up. Very few are. The Primary President told the kids they could take off their masks to sing. (I also saw her shopping maskless one day when our county had a mask mandate everywhere).
The same people who can, but won’t get vaccinated , are the same ones who won’t comply with things like mask mandates.
(Follow the Prophet? Not when it comes to a deadly pandemic).
I wonder why there aren’t public service ads/announcements from the medical community—Dr organizations etc. I think it could help to hear their stories as they are on the front lines.
Never been in TX. Not on my bucket list yet…
I read them quite often. There’s also the story of the 1st counselor in our Stake Presidency, whose healthy adult daughter and mother of his grandchildren died within 24 hours of getting the shot, or the nurse who is the daughter of a ward member and works at a clinic that has spent the last few weeks treating more for vaccine reactions than for Covid itself. I realize reactions are relatively few but I still think they’ve been underreported. What comfort would you give this counselor, and would you blame him for not wanting the injection himself? It’s a genuine question that I’m not sure I have an answer for myself, if any should be given at all. When I see any young people, no matter how few, dying in the name of protection of what is mostly the older, it makes me uncomfortable.
Eli, I upvoted your comments, not because I agree, but because I appreciate you showing up in an honest and measured way, and any of us who want to change any anti-vax minds first have to actually listen and understand the thought processes and concerns going on in those minds, with some patience. I am listening, and I appreciate that you are actively engaging with the issue, expressing yourself respectfully, and seem to be open to change when it feels right to you. I hope that those making the case for immunization can do so in a way that speaks meaningfully to earnest people like you.
Now I feel like I need to defend Texas. We lived in San Antonio for a few years and loved it. We moved back to Utah after Texas and it took years to stop missing Texas. But all that was before the Republican Party went crazy and nominated a crook for president. Now, I am afraid that Texas is as crazy as Ted Crazy. Good things about Texas: no state income tax, no property tax, state pride, Spurs basketball team, small town atmosphere in a big city, South Padre Island, no snow, lots of diversity (whites are a minority in San Antonio) hill country. Bad things about Texas: hot as H. E. Double toothpicks, miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles, politics.
As far as how Covid is affecting the church, my husband is the only one who has been active in our family in the last ten years, and he is much more willing to stay home than before the Covid break. So it was kind of a demonstration of how little he was getting out of church. We are six years after a move and he still feels no social connection to our “new” ward. And we can’t blame that on Covid at all, but on the fact that the church is no longer a healthy social community. Covid is just what has made him realize that after 6 years he is still an outsider here. 30 years ago, we moved every year or two with the military and quickly became integrated into ward, after ward, after ward. Even when he moved without me he quickly became part of his new ward, so it isn’t that I have gone inactive and he is now a church widower that is making him fringe.
And in reading other comments, I don’t think Covid is doing damage to the church, so much as pointing out to people how the church has changed and is no longer what they need from religion. The pandemic is not the problem, but has just made it obvious that there are problems. One problem is that too many of our fellow Mormons have gone off the Qanon crazy cliff and Trump has taken over as prophet. But this isn’t a new problem as the church has been into conservative politics for 60-70 years now. Not getting anything spiritual out of church also isn’t new. It is just that having church at home where you can have lessons where you learn instead of rehashing an old conference talk. There is nothing spiritually uplifting about church and has not been for years. They have been dumbing it down for years. Covid also pointed out to feminists that not having the priesthood really can hurt women when single women cannot bless and take the sacrament for a year or so. This also is not a new problem, just exposed to view by a pandemic.
Eli, I doubt one of your examples died from the vaccine. My doctor has led the COVID response effort in our area of around 200,00 people , with half vaccinated. He told me last week there has not been one local death tied to the vaccine. Several hundred have passed from COVID. These kinds of false claims kill people . .
Krishewz, I wish your UK SP would have a word on any influence on my UK SP. (very much the we all need to be back, 2nd coming round the corner, drop in active membership prophesied type)! I have never been so angry as I am about what is happening at church at at the moment.
We have returned to the full two hours since the beginning of August. The drum beat is that everyone should be encouraged to return to in person meetings. There’s a noisy contingent in the ward who take every opportunity to pretty much malign the faith of those who aren’t yet doing so every opportunity they get to stand at the pulpit. How not to make those participating via Zoom feel welcome and a part of the ward!
Husband on the bishopric was asked Sunday why he’s not yet removing his mask when he’s seated or speaking from the pulpit. In fact we specifically got him higher grade masks knowing that pretty much everyone else was going to remove their masks to speak, especially after the SP visiting a few weeks ago while we were at the one hour in person stage, made a big show of doing so because he could as he stated. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it moral…
I did manage to argue that we shouldn’t yet be singing so that’s going to be reviewed in the ward in September. (But some folk are still complaining the SP says we can sing). Stake schedule is apparently that Zoom options cease then.
We ‘re expected to run primary with potentially up to 40 children,… first week back we had 14, which was already more than enough to maintain any kind of distancing even with siblings seated together…. none of our teachers are intending to return for some time. In my view they are absolutely correct and there is no way I am going to be twisting anyone’s arm to return before they’re ready, or to encourage more children back until things improve significantly. Primary cannot be held safely, and in my view we have no business trying to hold it at all.
As it is anyone who needs to do anything or be anywhere really needs to be keeping themselves away from in person church for ten days to two weeks beforehand so as not to find they’ve been asked to isolate or worse have contracted Covid.
Government may well have removed all restrictions mid-July, but from my observations the general population are being a lot more circumspect with this delta variant and wearing masks in indoor spaces such as the supermarket. It’s only at church people seem to be positively encouraged to remove them…
This delta variant means that while vaccines generally reduce the severity of the illness ( any antivaxxers really ought to be looking at the UK data, government incompetence pretty much means you can see the difference in infection rates/ v hospitalisation rates now and back in January… so vaccines are doing something, but they don’t mean you won’t catch or can’t pass it on, Opening up before all adults have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, and infection rates high (our adult kids can’t get their second vaccine for a few more weeks, and under 18s aren’t eligible), is very risky. It’s still too early to see what will happen with hospital admissions.. overall testing has decreased since schools shut for the summer, so admissions are the figure to watch..
So the Olympics. My husband had been looking forward to watching in person back before the pandemic took off, being native to Tokyo… that’s not now possible. So we’re following the results from home. I was interested to read of a number of events that appear to be new.. bmx, skateboarding, wall climbing…
Thanks for your kind words. An open mind is a major part of why I’m here.
I also realize her death may have had nothing to do with the vaccine at all, but it strains the idea of coincidence. VAERS is reporting upwards of 5000+ deaths that may (may being the key word) be linked with the vaccines. I’ve also read of other studies that say VAERS my be underreporting cases by factors of 10 or 100, which I kind of doubt. 5000 deaths in the entire country would not make it improbable that there are none in your area. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening elsewhere.
That is an incredible distortion of what VAERS is and does. Anyone who gets a vaccine is reported into the system but the overwhelming majority are condition unrelated to COVID. The assertion of under reporting derives from Ben Shapiro, a conservative activist/media personality who who doesn’t understand math , medicine or basic science. He was ridiculed by the conservative National Review for these claims. Even if there had been 5,000 vaccine deaths, that is less than 1/40th of the COVID deaths in the same period. But, the latest data shows a few hundred substantial health impacts out of 347 million doses given.
Olympics – love ‘em.
Texas – wish it would be allowed to secede.
Covid- I really need our Prophet/Dr. to speak up – something like, “Ye have heard it said that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, but I say unto you it is a pandemic of the stubborn and selfish. Honor your Christian duty to care for your neighbor. Even if you (irrationally) believe you’re risking your life because ‘greater love hath no person … .’ If you believe it’s an undue burden, honor your baptismal covenants to bear others’ burdens. Stop quoting dead prophets and former presidents. Start using the light and Sprit you’ve been given. Put on a mask. Get poked. Or turn in your recommend and re-assess.”
Eli, you subscribe to what I like to call the theory of fake freedom. Which holds that true freedom lies in the maximization of personal choice even when it extends to areas about whıch we shouldn’t expect the average person to know anything about, such as public health or complex legislation on a range of issues. And that failure to push for this maximization of choice inevitably leads to a slippery slope in which governments and authorities will endlessly and obsessively keep taking away freedoms and everything will turn into the Soviet Union. Too much paranoia about the government and mainstream establishment knowledge, and too much naive trust in public opinion, alternative voices, and some guy who disagrees with the establishment on Fox News. You’re too willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Too willing to discard establishment knowledge over 1 thing that a public health official got wrong while ignoring the 100 other things they got right. Your way of thinking is dangerously paranoid and paradoxically does not lead to more freedom nor does it respect freedom, but leads to chaos. Your type of thinking is akin to those paranoid about electricity in the early 1900s. Your way of thinking would have derailed the construction of sanitation systems all out of defending the obstinate loons who refused to have their houses dug under. The US founding fathers decried direct democracy in which every last person has a vote on policy matters in favor of indirect democratic system in which voters place trust in an elected official to create policy. The Founding Fathers were not libertarians. All attempts to turn them into libertarians by libertarian activists is nothing more than shambolic historical revisionism.
I invite you to read this great piece on the Founding Fathers and vaccination: https://theconversation.com/the-u-s-founding-fathers-would-want-us-to-get-the-covid-19-vaccine-152932. George Washington ordered that the Continental Army take inoculation against smallpox. Thomas Jefferson worked tirelessly to restrictions against the smallpox vaccine, which many of his time and place were paranoid about. Schools have required vaccines for children to enter. And the government has long mandated that kids be schooled. In essence the government has long mandated a range of vaccines already. We will be freer with stronger measures against COVID vaccine dodgers.
Libertarian and libertarianish ideas have no good theory of obligation (and I know you don’t self-identify as libertarian, you just fancy yourself as an independent thinker who happens to agree with libertarians most of the time). In the face of coronavirus, these ideas are useless at best and dangerous at worst. Not to mention insufferably self-righteous and shallow, posing as if they are the true defenders of freedom. Ha! Please.
Nothing could be further than the truth. Without a solid theory of obligation, you have no coherent theory of freedom. Nothing more than fake freedom.
Also, so proud of your one upvote. Laughable. I thought you didn’t care about upvotes and downvotes? Dangerous contrarian.
I have been fully vaccinated for a while. I continue to wear a mask in public, indoor spaces. Findings from the Delta variant surge, include that those who are vaccinated are largely protected from serious disease and death, but can carry and spread this more serious variant, so I want to protect others. Prior to Delta’s rise, I want to contribute to destigmatizing wearing masks. Masks are simple and effective. Their use has contributed to the decrease in the spread of other respiratory viruses this past winter.
I’m against mandating the vaccine. Looking at measures that helped eradicate smallpox, it is apparent that mandating inoculations backfires. It raises suspicions of authority, and it’s simply contrary to human nature. People of all walks of life balk at being forced to do things. Education is our best bet. Thus, it is frustrating observing the powerful misinformation machine at play. I wish there were easy answers.
Similarly, I’m generally opposed to suggestions of a vaccine passport. Egalitarian approaches are usually more broadly beneficial.
Possibly employers’ requiring vaccinations for their staff would be effective. If they can require fingerprints, and peeing in a cup….
I’ve spent much time in Texas. While I don’t personally find a basis for the infamous Texas ego, I accept that it’s real, and see no reason to rankle anyone who feels it intensely. (Though I find Alaskans’ observation amusing that, “ If Alaska were cut in half, Texas would be the third largest state”.) Ice cream at Amy’s is a fun, yummy experience. As is the unexpected pleasure of chocolate pizza at CiCi’s. It’s been a while, so not sure if either is still a thing.
I like the cardboard beds Tokyo created for Olympic athletes – what an elegant solution to a brief influx of visitors.
I realize the the Founding Fathers were far more politically diverse than most conservatives care to admit. I will also admit that I fear the dangers of majority control over minorities than I do the dangers and chaos resulting from a broad definition of liberty. You could just as easily find yourself on the receiving end of something you find objectionable but the majority does not. I would defend your right not to do that as well. Regardless of how I feel about liberty, I do take responsibility seriously as well. That is a major goal, no matter how meandering my path looks to others.
I believe I’ve read the essay you’ve linked, but thanks for posting.
And no, it’s true, I couldn’t care less about the vote, but you and others do. I was mentioning it for your benefit. Don’t want you to thinking I’ve suddenly got any excuse to justify any real or apparent rudeness to others simply because I have a vote that isn’t even mine.
This is slightly off topic but relevant as the discussion has involved issues about covud vaccines, their efficacy and their safety. Two peer reviewed resources where one can find current information about research on covid and on vaccines are
During the covud 19 pandemic these and other scientific journals are allowing free access to the peer reviewed research they are publishing on these topics.
Secondary sources of information can at times be helpful and efficient at times, but going directly to primary sources has great value.
Thanks for the comments, everyone. I’ve been on the road and couldn’t reply to earlier comments.
Eli, thanks for being a good sport.
On Covid and the Church: We’re seeing senor leaders and local leaders trying hard to craft measures and policies that take into account both the interests of the Church (in resuming attendance and re-establishing some sort of normalcy, including tithing payments) and of individual members (in staying healthy and avoiding Covid). All this while not offending or alienating any big chunk of the membership. I’m not sure that can be done successfully.
On Covid itself: It is indisputable that historically the development of effective vaccines have done wonders for public health. I believe that given a few more months and years, the Covid vaccine, as updated to meet new variants, will become as uncontroversial as any other vaccine or as the yearly flu shot. It’s just a bumpy road to get there.
On current Mormon sacrament meetings: Packed pews, maskless singing, poor ventilation. Honestly, the biggest super spreader event in my town is the Sunday LDS meeting. Held weekly. Visitors welcome.
When we traveled through Texas, we expected to see long horned cattle, but did not see any until we got to the huston space centre, where there was a small farm with long horned cattle.
Enjoying the olympics. Most of the swimming team train in our city. The freestyle bmx gold medal winner lives in the next suburb. Australia is doing very well, still 4th on the medal tally.