Christopher Hitchens on Mormonism. Brutal.
I’ve been in Utah for about 8 months, and almost every day I see something that makes me do a double-take. At lunch I went grocery shopping with my daughter, and I headed to the restroom, where I saw a large blue plaque with bold white letters on the door: “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.” What kind of emergency could happen in a supermarket restroom? I wondered. (I can imagine several horrible scenarios.) The rest of the plaque read, “You can obtain a diaper from the customer service desk.” I suppose I should be pleased that they had this sign on the men’s room door, but it still made me laugh. Back when we were having children, the men’s restrooms had no facilities for changing diapers, and more than once I spread out paper towels on the floor so I could change a poopy diaper. So, in that respect, the sign at Maceys represents progress.
Moving from Texas to Utah, after the mountains I noticed the demographic differences: far fewer minorities, and a lot more babies. College Station, which is home to Texas A&M, would seem fairly analogous to Provo: conservative, mostly white students, and a penchant for ostentatious patriotism. But there weren’t many babies. Here you see girls that look no more than 15 pushing strollers on campus. But the right-wing pseudopatriotism is well-represented. Today I saw a car with a BYU parking sticker, a baby seat, and a bumper sticker demanding repeal of NAFTA (courtesy of jbs.org).
Inside Maceys is a survivalist’s dream: an entire section of the store dedicated to dry-pack food storage. Behind me in line, a pregnant young woman (with a toddler in the cart) was purchasing powdered margarine among assorted large cans of emergency food storage. “I’d been neglecting the prophet’s counsel for too long,” she said to me. “So I’ve become really focused on food storage.” I asked if the margarine powder was any good. “Well, it works OK if you cook with it.” No, thanks.
Maybe I’ve become “in the church but not of it.” I grew up in Mormonism, but the culture still seems foreign to me. I don’t know, but days like today remind me that I’m not in Texas anymore.