Robert Kirby: What if this pandemic is just the beginning? What if more plagues await?

Robert Kirby

We’re going back to church. My Latter-day Saint ward resumed congregational worship Sunday — with some adjustments.

In the Rose Summit Ward, only people with surnames A through H will be allowed to attend in person the first “open” Sunday. Social distancing will be enforced, presumably through the power of the priesthood.

Only every other pew will be open for seating. Families must seat themselves 6 feet apart from others. No loitering in the foyer. And no showing up early to visit.

Since my last name falls into the I-Z category, we won’t be allowed to attend sacrament meeting in person until Oct. 11, after General Conference. If then.

It’s all quite confusing — and possibly an intentional diversion. The last thing anyone in charge wants is people thinking that the coronavirus is just the first in a number of plagues intended to free the Lord’s chosen from some sort of bondage.

I have no idea whom the Lord’s chosen might be in this scenario. Furthermore, I’ve read just enough of the Old Testament to recognize that being the chosen isn’t exactly a plus.

Sounds impossible, right? Yeah, that’s what the pharaoh thought when Charlton Heston demanded that Egypt release the Israelites from bondage. It didn’t turn out so well for stubborn Yul Brynner.

What if — and I’m just supposing here — that as the pandemic winds down, water suddenly turns to blood? It’s happened before — if you believe the Old Testament, which admittedly sounds like it was penned by J.R.R. Tolkien.

You go to brush your teeth and all that comes out of the faucet is Type O. That should definitely get your attention. So would frogs. If you consider how difficult it is to drive on roads covered in snow and ice, think about navigating frog mush.

If the pattern follows, other plagues wait in the wings, including gnats or lice, flies and diseased livestock. Those might easily be dismissed as normal life in some parts of Utah, but the next plague is a doozy.

Boils. If you’ve never had one, it would be easy to see it as a simple failure to wash regularly. But there’s nothing like having a boil, or several, to change your priorities.

Ignoring God’s warnings today might seem insignificant, but apparently it was harder thousands of years ago. Imagine being covered in boils and then pelted by softball-size hail with a soundtrack of nonstop thunder.

Add to this horrible burden a plague of locusts, prolonged darkness and the death of firstborn children. Suddenly, wearing a mask doesn’t seem such a burden anymore.

This, of course, assumes that the current pandemic is not only real but also just the first of several. We might never know for sure.

One thing is certain. Having only blood to drink while covered with flies and boils, and standing hip deep in dead frogs surrounded by dead cows and firstborns in the middle of a never-ending night would be hard to dismiss as some kind of government conspiracy or public overreaction.

And that’s just the beginning. We would still have to figure out whom the Lord’s chosen are so we can let them go.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.