California has been in the grip of a huge drought for quite some time now, and today being the first Sunday of the month, a.k.a. "Fast Sunday," Mormons are being asked to fast and pray that the drought will stop. And what have I been seeing over the interwebz? Calls for the Saints to "pray for moisture." Not for rain on the plains nor snow in the mountains, but moisture, as though California were some kind of armpit slathered with too much antiperspirant.
California has been in the grip of a huge drought for quite some time now, and today being the first Sunday of the month, a.k.a. Fast Sunday,† Mormons are being asked to fast and pray that the drought will stop. And what have I been seeing over the interwebz? Calls for the Saints to "pray for moisture." Not for rain on the plains nor snow in the mountains, but moisture, as though California were some kind of armpit slathered with too much antiperspirant. …Which perhaps California may be in some respects, but that is not the point here. (Hey, I grew up in L.A., so I can talk like this.)
Mormons are not alone in believing that it takes special vocabulary to get God's attention, though they're among the last holdouts to use "thee, thy, thou" in prayer (and often not especially correctly, come to think of it; of course the Star Trek franchise bolluxed that up worse with the translation of Old High Vulcan… but I digress, I really do). Nor are they (the Mormons, not the Vulcans) alone in their predilection for employing euphemisms when (avoiding) talking about Unpleasant Things. Other denominations talk about being "called home," "passing," and "passing away" instead of dying, although I'm not so sure how many resort to the same kind of noxious death-related meme of "God needed him/her" and "s/he's serving a mission on The Other Side" that Mormons do with too-great frequency.
But back to Moisture. There seems to be up to a 60% chance of showers in parts of central and northern California today, and one can be sure that if any rain is observed at all, especially late in the day after church is over, such rainfall will be regarded by the faithful as an answer to prayers… no matter how little rain actually falls, and no matter if it does not do a damned thing to mitigate the drought. —In fact, any kind of "moisture" would be regarded as an answer, even inland fog — but again I digress, at least a little.
California needs a very, very wet February to have a prayer of having enough water to meet agricultural and other human needs, and apart from the possible showers today, there is no "moisture" in the 10-day forecast. And if this turns out to be as dry a winter as feared, despite all the prayers and pleading and church-going and all, what will the consequences be?
— I mean, apart from the actual physical consequences of water shortages, desiccated farmland, crop failure, skyrocketing food prices. Well, active Mormons seem to be as likely as winger fundamentalist evangelical Christians to believe that (semi-)natural disasters are punishments from God for sin. But what kind of sins? Willy-nilly exploitation of the planet? Overrunning the biosphere like locusts? Greed and corruption and rising, massive inequality? Mistreating the poor? Profits over people? Worshipping riches? Hypocrisy?
… No, no, no. Much easier to say that Withholding Moisture is their punitive and unloving God's way of showing anger about the "immorality" of gay marriage and its as-yet still-undefined and unsupported threat to heterosexual marriage. That's certainly the biggest "sin" on the Mormon hierarchy's mind (and on the minds of evangelical leaders, too). To them, I reply with this fine cartoon by Crowden Satz.
† Yes, there's a wikipedia article about this. "I stand (or more accurately, sit) all amazed" (and Mormons, and possibly some evangelicals, will get that little allusion, too).