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Back in the day, we hoped to start conversations on The Twelve. I’m trying to revive that lost tradition today with a bunch of questions . . . and some seriously random thoughts.
- What in the world happened to the perfectly fine word “patriot”?
- Speaking of patriots, did you see what took place at Gettysburg on July 4th? Hundreds of militia types were baited into showing up ready to battle because someone hoaxed them on social media, claiming antifa was going to burn flags there (and offer family friendly antifa face painting for the kids — no joke). In the words of one observer, it was a “pop up White supremacy rally.” Here’s the most amazing of several amazing things: They fell for the same trick three years earlier. That time, one of the militia guys (poetically?) shot himself in the foot. This time no one was hurt, but there was a stir when one park visitor showed up in a Black Lives Matter tee shirt and was immediately surrounded by a few hundred heavily armed middle aged White guys. My favorite quote came from one of the patriots, who said he was there to make sure that the sort of demonstrations that happened the night before in Utah didn’t happen at Gettysburg. I’m not sure anything of note happened in Utah on July 3rd. There were, of course, demonstrations at Mount Rushmore, where the President was. Only missed by 600 miles.
- Saw Hamilton a few days ago. Do you ever feel like you might be the last person in America to do something?
- Our church put together a “Safe Gathering Committee” made up of members who are medical personnel. No pastors are on the committee. The committee decides when we resume in-person worship and how the building is open and to whom. This seems infinitely wise. The pastors are out of it. There are a lot of folks grieving, and sometimes that grief turns into anger. The pastors are set up to walk alongside people in their grief instead of being the object of their anger.
- What do you miss most about in-person church?
- My favorite suggestion for the new name of the Washington NFL team is the “Foggy Bottoms.” Beats “Red Tails.” A serious and very appropriate suggestion came from a Native American leader who put forward the name “Code Talkers.” I like everything about that.
- Speaking of sports, there’s something biblical about this 60-game baseball season. The shorter the season, the more chances bad teams have of winning. What can’t be sustained over 162 games might be sustained over 60. Will this be baseball’s year of Jubilee, a last-shall-be-first, first-shall-be-last season? I am rooting for a Tigers-Cubs World Series.
- Are you up to speed on this QAnon thing? It is truly bizarre. Whenever conspiracy theories are proposed, I remember Charles Colson saying, “Conspiracies never work. Someone inevitably talks. Look at us—we had the leadership of the most powerful government in the world at stake and we couldn’t hold it together.”
- If The Beatles never stopped touring and never broke up, at what point would their fans have stopped screaming and started listening to the music?
- If there were a pill available that reduced the risk of transmission of the coronavirus by up to 85%, wouldn’t we be standing in (socially-distant) lines at the drug store to buy it? It would be universally recognized as our best hope until a vaccine is developed. Alas, there isn’t such a pill. What we have are masks, which do that exact thing. But, since the American Revolution was fought so no one could tell them what to do, patriots don’t wear masks.
- I read a chilling article recently about the role of cognitive dissonance in the pandemic. We are flat out unwilling to consider new information after our minds are made up, even when our health is at risk. This article offers a psychological rationale for why people won’t wear masks. It’s all very interesting, but what really interests me is how you might have changed your mind in the past few years? About anything. And what is the relationship of this science to religious conversions? And why do we expend so much time and energy extolling our opinions if it won’t change anyone’s mind?
- If you think getting people to wear masks is hard, imagine the voluntary cooperation needed to effectively fight climate change. One reason it’s hard to get people to act on climate change is that there is no sense of urgency. It’s gradual and imperceptible most of the time. Compare that to the pandemic, which should have all the urgency in the world . . .
- I recently read that there’s research tying the rise of polarization to the loss of local newspapers. What do you think?
- A friend asked me last week if I’ve ever seen Donald Trump laugh. I can’t remember him laughing. I’ve seen him make fun of people, which is not the same thing. Does he laugh?
- Sometimes I worry that we’re heading for a second civil war. But then I calm down because I realize the patriots will refuse to wear masks, which makes them more vulnerable to the coronavirus, which means they’ll have trouble consistently fielding an army. Plus, they’ll show up in Salt Lake City when they’re supposed to be in Rapid City.
- Somebody has to say this, so it might as well be me. Remember when the President was speculating on shining lights inside of people as a way to stop the coronavirus? Am I the only one who thought, “Hey, I’ve already had that. It’s called a colonoscopy”?
Stay safe, friends.