Get the hell away from me, Brother and Sister Jones.
Extend your hand for a shake and receive back a punch to the head.
Ah, ah, ah, don’t even think about a hug.
You can talk to me, maybe, if you stay 10 feet away, but, better yet, contact me by phone, if we must speak.
The church was right when the guys in the red seats shortened services and more right when they canceled them altogether. No church meetings, no close contact, no handshakes, no fist bumps, no slaps on the back, no attendance at temples, and, here, the granddaddy of them all, no showing up at General Conference.
Stay at home, where you can punch up a pillow and slumber on the couch in your pajamas, and knock back a cold beverage while watching. The look via the camera angles will appear no different, complete with intricate floral arrangements in the background, but no crowd shots on account of the fact that there will be none.
This whole coronavirus thing is anathema to everything The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has stood for. The hallmark of the church is close, personal contact, pressing the flesh in a decidedly proper, nonsexual way. It’s about brotherhood and sisterhood, about putting your shoulders to the wheel and pushing along, together, about draping your arm around someone in need of fellowship, about making friendly with one and all, about recognizing those you might not even know that well and crowding in on them and extending a warm welcome.
Learning about the doctrine is all fine and good, good for whom it’s for, but some members of the faith barely even get into the edges of that stuff. They are in the congregation for the conversation. They are socially spiritual, spiritually social. Their call to minister to others circles around being part of the circle, one eternal round.
They couldn’t bark out the 10th Article of Faith if you offered to waive their tithing for two months. But they know that Sister Fuddpucker’s mother-in-law had a fender bender down in the parking lot of the neighborhood market last Thursday and needs a ride to the dentist’s office next week. They’re fully aware that Brother Johnson’s driveway needs shoveling because his hernia is kicking up again. They’ve been informed that Sister Burningham is temporarily housebound and is short on milk and bread and requires somebody to make a grocery run for her.
They only know such things because of proximity to the folks around them, to ward members, both spiritually and physically.
Well. That physical part, as mentioned, is taking a hit. A big hit.
With COVID-19 flying around, there’s no more touching, no more face-to-face talking, no more … church.
The good gospel remains, but the church part is now drying up and fading away with the fear of a sneeze or a cough or a burp or a breath or any other possible transmission of viral germs.
This is a difficult thing for many believers.
They are kind of left on their own for as long as this crisis lasts to figure out and remember and restore and refresh every week their own faith, their own study, their own principles, their own commitment to commandments, their own testimonies — without the help and urging and preaching and teaching of others.
Essentially, they’re on their own, which is, when you get right down to it, all anybody ever is. Aside from the friendship and fellowship, outside of it, ultimately, everybody is dependent on and responsible for his or her own beliefs and behaviors. Sure, help is great, encouragement is welcome, guidance doesn’t typically hurt — unless it’s given in such an insensitive, callous way as to do more damage than good.
But now, until further notice, butt out and bug off.
Keep your distance, your greetings, your warmth and your contagions to yourself.
It’s your time to hold onto what you have, your spiritual conviction and testimony, because nobody, nowhere, nohow, no way, wants to hold your hand, to be infected by you.
Hold onto the iron rod — only after it’s been disinfected by Clorox wipes.
God bless you, but if you sneeze, it no longer applies. Just keep it away from those who love you. They love you still, they share your beliefs, they’re rooting for you, but they no longer can abide your potential for contaminating others.
God be with you till we meet again, whenever that may be.
Meantime, stay healthy, brothers and sisters, but stay away.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.