Two Degrees off Center: Things to Ask God When I See Him
September 21, 2020
“Two Degrees off Center” is a monthly blog by Rich Keys about the personal struggles, issues, and topics that speak to the LDS/LGBT experience. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes humorous, but will always approach things from a slightly different perspective.
by Rich Keys
A few decades ago Time magazine ran a cover story on evolution and the origin of earth that fueled the debate about how the earth was created and how man came to be. It came up in Sunday school lessons and testimony meetings throughout the church and everybody condemned the heathens at Time-Life and whoever else believed in that devil worship. While the rest of the world sided with Carl Sagan and Bill Nye the Science Guy, every faithful member came to Adam and Eve’s defense and wanted to be on the side of God. Science was again the bad guy—everything from communism to the price of gas was their fault. If there was a problem in the world, no matter what, a scientist was behind it.
While this great debate was taking over the media, my ex and I lay in bed one night. She was preparing her next Relief Society lesson while I was watching Gilligan’s Island. Suddenly I muted the TV and asked her, “What do you think of all this evolution stuff? Do you think there’s any truth to it?” She didn’t even look up from her book when she said, “God said He created the heavens and the earth and He put man on it. He didn’t tell us how He did it. It’s on my list of questions to ask Him when I see Him, but it’s not keeping me up at night.”
She continued with her lesson while I went back to Gilligan, but that moment was a major point in my own evolution. Since then I try to practice the principle of “selective sweat.” I may climb the wall when someone in front of me in the express lane has two items over the limit, but on the big issues, I tend to take a big step back, try to get the big picture, analyze things, and put it on my list of things to ask Him when I see Him. It’s saved me a lot of wasted energy that I’ve put to better use elsewhere in my life.
Over the years I’ve compiled a mental list of things to ask God when I see him. Here are a few that come to mind:
1. So how did you do it? The creation of the earth, I mean. I know it wasn’t something from nothing because you said you organized matter. So what kind of matter was it, and where did that come from and who made that? Did it always exist? How can it always exist? How did you combine science and religion to put it all together and get it going? How did you take something like a Periodic Table of the Elements chart and turn it into something as beautiful as the earth? You may have to dumb it down a little for me because I was a Fine Arts major and was never very good in Science, but I gotta know.
2. Did Adam and Eve have a navel? Where did they come from?
3. While we’re on the subject, where did you come from? If you’re the God of everything, then who created you? Did someone begat you, and how does that work? I know you get that from all your kids because we all think about it—it’s the mortal in us—but I still gotta know.
4. What’s Mom’s name? What role did she play in putting the plan together? If it took your church almost 200 years to even officially acknowledge her existence, there’s a lot we want to know about her.
5. Can I have a celestial hug from my celestial mom? I’ve been waiting my entire earthly life for that. And since you know me and my authentic self and you totally love me and there’s no shaming up here, can I have a celestial hug from you, my celestial dad? Not one of those locker-room hugs back on earth where guys have to break after three seconds so people don’t suspect something, but a really authentic, full-on hug and just keep hugging and feeling your pure total love for me? Can I just sit on the sofa between you and mom and feel your celestial warmth and nurturing radiate through and throughout me? It’ll make the trip down there worth it.
6. Where did the dinosaurs go? How could dinosaurs live millions of years, and man use up all that fossil fuel in less than 300 years and make the planet as bad as it is today? Couldn’t you have skipped the dinosaurs and gone straight to solar? Better for us, less work for you, win-win. I know we came down to earth to be tested, but remember, we were on your side before this earth life started, we voted for your plan, not the other one, so couldn’t you have cut us some slack?
7. Who is Mother Nature and where is she on our family tree? Is she really as pissed—sorry, upset—as it looks because of how we’ve treated the earth since we got kicked out of the garden? Seven hurricanes in the Atlantic at the same time, overwhelming wildfires that we’re unable to control and leaving nothing in their path, earthquakes where there were never any before, droughts leaving us high and dry followed by floods and back to droughts again, and we still don’t take it seriously? Sounds like “she’s mad as hell, and she’s not going to take it anymore.” When and how did it all start, what did we do wrong, and how did we miss it?
8. How do LGBTQ rights really fit together with religious freedom and make it a win-win? What was the secret we could never figure out?
9. Where did black skin come from, and why did you have to create it? What did Black people do that made them the scapegoat for every bad thing that comes along? Your church bit the bullet and researched the truth about how we treated them and the Church laid it all out on the internet for the world to see. It was our fault, not yours, and we acknowledged that. They weren’t “less valiant” before they came here. They weren’t fence-sitters in the pre-mortal existence who couldn’t make up their mind. We admitted all that. We even held hands and sang Kumbaya with the NAACP. So why do they still get the short end of the stick down here every time? First, it’s slavery and we take them from their homeland and auction them off like livestock. Then we win independence from the people in power, but only the new people in power actually get their independence, and slaves have to wait another hundred years until a civil war says they’re free. But they’re still treated by the people in power like they’re not, because old habits die hard, so the people in power give them their own baseball league, and bathrooms, and drinking fountains and even zone a part of town for them and they still don’t feel free, so the people in power send them off to war and integrate the troops and they serve their country and sacrifice their lives as much as anyone else, but then they come back home and still can’t buy a car or a home because they’re Black. So another 20 years goes by until the law is changed so they really are free…but not really, because laws don’t change attitude, especially the attitude of people in power. So now a coronavirus comes along, some new nasty critter we’ve never seen before, and it causes a pandemic throughout the entire world, but it “disproportionately” affects people of color more than the people in power. Then Chadwick Boseman dies from colon cancer and we learn that also affects the Black community disproportionately more than others. That means even viruses and diseases discriminate against them and kick them when they’re down. And while I’m talking about kicking them when they’re down, people in power still seem to have the upper hand…or knee…when dishing out judgment, and they take it on the chin…or throat…disproportionately. Meanwhile, while the economy is caving from the pandemic, they keep working the essential jobs like driving buses and processing the meat and keeping the lines going for the people in power, and they’re disproportionately affected by the virus too. I’m getting a little tired of the D-word. Black people get hit with disproportionate everything, from sickle cell disease to redlining. So is it any wonder why they are getting a little impatient and have the nerve to complain that the entire system is racist and not just that guy down the street? Remember that shakeup in 1776? King George kept putting his knee on the white man here in the colonies, and they finally got fed up with England and started riots and burning their ships and tossing their tea in the harbor. So white people have a lot more in common with Black people than we care to admit, because we both get pissed with whoever puts their knee on our throats, so why can’t we start there and agree that we have that in common and….
Sorry…I got off track. You know I can get wordy and ramble sometimes. I tend to do that in my prayers with you. So back to the list…
10. What’s the deal with blue cheese? Why did you ever allow that to be invented? I went all my life without having alcohol or blue cheese, but in a moment of rebellion I had a Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing two weeks ago, and it was disgusting. It smells terrible, looks terrible, and tastes terrible. You can’t even tell when it’s spoiled because it still smells, looks, and tastes the same. Why didn’t you add blue cheese to the Word of Wisdom?
The list will continue to grow and evolve. Some of these questions may be on your list too, while others make absolutely no sense at all. But He knows me and where my heart is, and I’m sure when I climb up on the sofa and snuggle between Mom and Dad, we’ll go down my list together and they’ll fill in all the blanks. It’s the little kid in me, the Child of God, that keeps it real.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all posts in the Two Degrees off Center blog series.