What Faith in Jesus Christ Looks Like During a Global Pandemic

This is a real line from a conversation I had with a man in Brazil, who left the Church to become whatever the Brazilian version of an Evangelical Christian is. 

"Faith is all you need. That's it. Only faith. Nothing else. If I have faith this car can fly, then it can. God can make this car fly."

I stood there politely, understanding completely why I found half the list of members for that unit on the floor in the kitchen. I thanked him for his time and we walked away without much further conversation. I didn't go on a mission to argue with people. But what he said ended up teaching me something very important that I've carried with me ever since.

When the only thing you care about in your religious life is "faith" as an abstract, isolated concept devoid of any context or connection to reality, you can use it to justify pretty much anything. God, in that scenario, ceases to be a parent or a source of moral teaching and becomes a gumball machine for increasingly ridiculous requests.

To teach faith in Jesus Christ correctly means understanding what hope, love, and loyalty in the living, breathing Christ can and cannot produce. It means valuing Christ as a person and the message he taught, not making a spectacle of the miracles he performs.

I don't believe in Jesus Christ because I want him to overturn the limits of reality and good sense to help me evade the consequences of my actions. I believe in him because he is my teacher, mentor, and friend helping me to achieve my true potential. I don't need him to pick up a car and chuck it across the sky just because I asked him to for my faith to be made manifest.

I would suggest that if you do, it's not faith you're actually looking for. Commanding God into making a spectacle of divine power is the definition of asking for a sign. For too many people in the Church, that is their only plan for how they intend to remain uninfected from COVID-19.

Pray AND Vaccinate!

If you're going to pray to God in all sincerity that you will be spared from becoming infected with COVID-19, even though you're unvaccinated, that's not faith. That's a mockery of faith. It's the perfect example of asking for that which "is not expedient for you," as taught in D&C 88. The consequence of that? That prayer will not only go unanswered, but it will also "turn unto your condemnation."

Why should a loving, intelligent God facilitate ANY request where a person refuses to help themselves through vaccination, and instead asks God to do all the work of preventing contagion for them? Why would an intelligent God, who prioritizes mortal wisdom and experience we came to earth here to obtain for ourselves, do that for us?

A God who has the power to elevate the mind and transform our condition would reason with us to help ourselves by choosing to be vaccinatednot the equivalent of chucking Volkswagen Beetles through the air.


President Russell M. Nelson receiving a vaccination for COVID-19.

Why do people honestly think they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 with faith alone? Because they've fundamentally (and perhaps willfully) misunderstood the nature of what faith in Jesus Christ is designed to accomplish.

Faith in Jesus Christ doesn't get you what you want, no matter how unreasonable, as a condition of being a Christian. If God has to help you avoid the consequences of your actions in increasingly grandiose and ridiculous ways, chances are it wasn't God who put you in that position. You did that all on your own.

Faith in Jesus Christ teaches us to give away every sin and selfish thought we have until none remains. It turns us into the people who simply do the loving thing naturally, just as the Savior did, without cajoling or difficult persuasion.

Get vaccinated. Wear a mask.

Stop asking God to save you when you have everything you need already to do it yourself.


Seeing some folks asking how it's possible to stay in the Church while disagreeing fundamentally with current policy and messaging surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.

My answer isn't for everyone. I'm not recommending it as a solution to anyone. It's only a description of my motivation.

When I was a teenage convert, one of my closest friends who brought me into the Church came out to me as gay. I was the first person he ever told. This was before Prop 8, before sexuality was something that was openly discussed in the Church. We navigated the practical and spiritual conversations about what being gay in the Church meant when there was no help. No real resources, unless you wanted conversion therapy.

There was no one and nothing to help us, except each other.

I stay because there will be more kids in the Church like us. Lost, confused, and alone. I don't want any teenager to go through those moments of crisis alone. And if I leave, I take all of my ability to help the kids within my reach with me. 

I can totally understand why anyone wouldn't feel the same way. I will never tell anyone to stay against their needs or better judgment. That's not enough for some people. I have the privilege of not being in real danger at church in advocating for LGBTQ+ folks the way I do. I fully recognize that isn't true for many others, but it's true for me. I've had a lot of success opening and changing hearts. It's a work I feel called to do from within.

I enjoy being the person elbowing others in the ribs and saying "Make room!" at the table.

On Devotion

One of the ironies of Christianity is the very real temptation to inflate our own importance because of our association with Christ, despite the effort he undertook during his lifetime to teach people never to do that. 

When you look at the interactions between the Savior and the Twelve Disciples, the most repeated lesson he teaches them is to lay aside the frail, human ways they measure themselves against others. That lesson is the defining feature of one of the last interactions they have with him before Judas Iscariot betrays him. The original twelve apostles were not better than anyone else because Christ was in their lives.

One of my favorite stories in all of scripture is of the woman with the alabaster box, who anointed the feet of Christ with her own hair while the men of her society looked on with judgment and hatred in their hearts towards her. He honored her when they would not.

And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

Luke 7:37-46

Observing the laws and ordinances of the restored gospel gives us a leg up on absolutely no one. That was never the point. Part of why I worship Jesus Christ is because he taught that lesson over and over again, especially to the benefit of the downtrodden in society. The widow's mite. Mary Magdalene. The woman at the well. The woman with the issue of blood. At the same time Christ honors these women, he condemns the disrespectful attitudes shown to them by his own followers and critics alike.

What I find interesting here, and have never noticed before, is how often the criticism from the Savior's enemies and his own disciples for these women was practically identical. The apostles' association with Christ didn't make them any more likely to love as he did. Perhaps the call of an apostle has never gone to the ones most uniquely qualified to love and serve as Christ did. Maybe it goes to the ones in greatest need of that tutelage in treating all people with unconditional love and respect.

A necessary part of discipleship is deconstructing and abandoning all the cultural attitudes we've absorbed, no matter where we live, that teach us to value ourselves more or to value anyone else less. Racism. Sexism. Classism. The rejection of and violence towards the LGBTQ+ community. The abuse and neglect of those with disabilities. These are not inevitable fixtures of modern life. They are moral failures that disqualify us from living in God's presence.

The dismantling of superiority, in all forms, is one of the hardest lessons we ever learn. As Christians. As humans. It never goes away. It never has. It never will.

Why "No" Needs to Become a Complete Sentence in the Church

I remember the "What am I doing to myself?" moment the last time I got talked into going to girl's camp after I initially said "No."

I had the undeniable prompting that I needed to leave, drove home in the dark on terrifying mountain roads in rural Idaho. At one point, a bat flew right into my windshield and scared me half to death. 

I didn't get home until 1 a.m.

My mother-in-law was actively deteriorating from either Lewy Body or vascular dementia. She ended up falling on the floor the next morning. She would've been stuck like that for hours had I not come home early from girl's camp.

I still haven't recovered from how angry I was at that entire situation.

Just once, I want a man in the Church to hear me say "No" to something and just say "OK."

Cookie Recipe from the Washington D.C. Temple Cafeteria

Anyone who remembers the big cookies from the Washington D.C. temple cafeteria will recall they were often the highlight of youth temple trips and parental errands. When the temple cafeteria closed, it could've been the last time those cookies were ever made.

However, the recipe was shared with anyone who asked for it. Here's the recipe as copied by my mother-in-law many years ago.

We made a batch of this dough, divided it, and added various different toppings to it. Because it uses a base of both white and brown sugar, any combination of toppings can be added to it to make practically any kind of cookie. Because this recipe makes enough dough for dozens of cookies, this would be a great for Christmas cookies, ward functions, parties, family reunions, or anyone else who needs a truly mind-boggling number of cookies.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 7 cups flour
  • Desired toppings: chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, chopped cherries, dates. Can also be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream shortening, margarine, white sugar, and brown sugar together.
  3. Mix in eggs, milk, vanilla, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Add each cup of flour until combined. Mix and knead with hands until well blended
  5. Divide dough if desired. Add desired toppings. Dough can be frozen in batches to be used at a later date.
  6. Form dough into balls onto greased or lined cookie sheets. For larger cookies, it helps to flatten the dough slightly to help them spread. Provide space between balls to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Place on cooling racks until cool enough to eat.
  9. Store in airtight containers to keep them fresh, if they last that long. And they might, because this recipe truly makes A LOT of cookies.

The Church is NOT the Same Everywhere

A necessary part of deconstructing and healing from my negative experiences at Church has included a lot of reflection on regionalism, rejecting the idea that "the Church is the same everywhere." I want to rifle through some of the ways this isn't true.

To say the Church is the same everywhere assumes that the doctrines, policies, messaging, and practices have been universally spread, understood, and applied in every place the Church exists. It denies the very real influence different regions have on the church experience.

I joined the Church on the East Coast of the United States. I attended church meetings all over the mid-Atlantic, from D.C. to upstate New York, for many years. I have also spent many years of my life in Utah and Idaho, attending church in both places. I served my mission in Brazil in non-English speaking units. I served in rural and urban regions of São Paulo state, supporting leadership of districts and stakes of almost every size and configuration.

What I've learned from those experiences is that the Church is not the same everywhere. It can't be. It never will be. And that's not something we should even be trying to force upon people because that's the worst version of what the Church can be.

As an East coast native and a convert, I learned a deep and abiding mistrust of people from Utah and the Mormon Corridor. It was something I absorbed from the people around me from my earliest days in the Church. To describe the attitudes I witnessed, "Utah Mormons" are pedantic, straight-laced weirdos with no mental flexibility, no "real life" experience, who care more about orthodoxy and keeping up appearances than being a real person.  I was taught not to take any of that too seriously because those folks grew up in "a bubble," had no idea what it was like to be me, and their insistence on being the default for the entire church was based on nothing but their own high opinion of themselves. Nothing else.

I've had the experience many times of being an East Coast Mormon and participating in a collective eye roll at some general authority visiting from Utah who was up at a pulpit, giving us a public spanking over something completely irrelevant to our lives.

I describe this to you to illustrate a reality. We were East Coast first. Mormons, second. We experienced them both simultaneously in such a way that they couldn't ever truly be separated. But in a choice between the two, East Coast wins out. The mistrust of outsiders. The refusal to be corrected by someone who doesn't know us. The cardinal rule of "minding your own business." The prioritization of being authentic over keeping up appearances. That's the culture of where I'm from. It profoundly shaped my Mormonism.

That same process takes place wherever the Church has a presence. There is a local culture that molds what the Church looks like wherever it has been planted that Salt Lake will never control. No matter what they do, they can't erase or overpower it. I know this because I've seen them try. 

I watched them try to go to bat against the matcha drinkers in Brazil and lose. I've watched them try to inculcate Utah Mormonism through EFY and have the session director in Virginia go up and reject everything that was taught by CES teachers from Utah afterwards. I've watched members of the Church read the riot act to missionaries from the Intermountain West for being judgmental, disrespectful brats for trying to present themselves as the perfect rule for what the entire church should look like. That refusal to submit to one way of thinking is real. I've witnessed it happen all over the planet, in congregations large and small. 

In deconstructing the ways I've been hurt at Church, I've realized I'm looking at it in an incomplete way. I wasn't hurt by a structural institution. I was hurt by people, whose vision and version of the Church they have experienced is completely different from mine.

Those conflicts aren't going to go away. And I'm realizing now that I don't want them to. Those conversations can become more healthy and constructive, but they should never disappear entirely. 

They're how we build the house we all can live in together.

When the Antics of the Unvaccinated Become Everyone Else's Problem

I started masking again this week after having an unvaccinated coworker test positive, and another unvaccinated team member continue coming to work while symptomatic without being tested. 

First of all, part of the situation I was put into by the person who originally got infected was that they lied about their vaccine status so they could stop wearing masks. They then proceeded to make all of us part of that lie by telling everyone that's what they were doing.

Think what you want of them. But when they found out they were exposed, they immediately left work, got tested, and quarantined for two weeks. The lie came out. Excrement hit the fan. We're now all paying the price for that lie now by being short staffed.

Part of the mechanism that allows unvaccinated people to get away with this is a conspiracy of silence and acceptance that allows them to believe everyone else is okay with their behavior.

The price of "getting along with those who think differently" is denying the reality of germ theory. Spreading highly infectious and lethal diseases in public is not a "personal choice." That entire line of thinking is bullshit.

So in the spirit of that college kid who was sick and tired of his classmates throwing parties before the vaccines were even developed: I'm telling. 

Don't bother roping me into your conspiracy of "live and let live." Not with me.

Also, I need someone who speaks Idaho to please interpret the hypocrisy of my team giving ME a hard when the clients in my appointments refuse to mask, when nary a one of them has touched a mask in weeks. I am incapable of understanding that logic. It seems to me that if the circumstances have changed since the masking policy was lifted and you no longer feel safe being around clients who aren't masked, you have a pretty obvious choice available to you. And it's not to fuss at me.

I have been Mormon for fifteen years. I went to BYU, the Ivy League of snitching. I was the mission snitch. I'm the snitchiest snitch of them all. Countless lessons I've sat through on Being the Most Pretentious Person Dying on Any Given Hill.

I was prepared for this exact moment.

What good was any of that tedious moralizing if we're not going to be on the side of telling the truth and doing the right thing during a global pandemic? 

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