Consumption and Creation


*walk to podium*
*eat one into microphone*

So once upon a time there was a guy named Jonah who didn’t want to be a missionary so he hopped on a boat and then into the ocean where a fish swallowed him up and then spat him back out so he went ahead and did the missionary thing and was a super successful one which irritated him so he went and sat in the sun and complained to God that he is waaaay too merciful and these people should have just been destroyed.

Man. SunChips are really good. I really like them. How in the world do they make something so tasty? Let’s check out the ingredients, shall we?

*read the first couple*

One thing you’ll notice as we go through the list is that SunChips no longer use any pig enzymes. Not that it ever said “pig” on the package—I think it fell under “Natural Flavors.”

*read the rest*

Pretty good list.

*eat another chip*

Now one thing about everything on this list? Dead. Even the cheese, if we’re talking its microorganisms. Dead corn, dead wheat, dead parsley. All dead.

Or look at what I’m wearing. This shirt is a cotton/poly blend. The cotton died a few years ago. Polyester is made of oil, which is just cotton that died a few million years ago. And my pants are dead hemp. Talk to Rob and John if you want to know more about hemp. He’s the expert.

The point is: we can’t live without the dead. There is no life without consuming the dead. And there’s nothing to consume without creation. And everything created will die. Even these larger molecules we’re made of are just the viscera of exploded stars.

Anyway. Jonah.

He’s pouting and says,

C’mon, God. This is why I didn’t want to come. You’re always forgiving people who should be destroyed. What kind of God are you, anyway?

So Jonah goes off to sulk. But the spot he picks is hot and sunny and he’s probably eating whatever awful substitute people had for SunChips 3000 years ago and he is not comfortable.

While he’s sitting there, God grows a tree over him which, depending on the translation, either had nice broad leaves or a giant gourd to block the sun. The gourd’s funnier, so we’re going with that.

The tree’s blocking the sun with this giant gourd, and Jonah starts feeling more comfortable, maybe even happy. Then God sends a worm which kills the tree and shrivels the gourd and there’s Jonah, back in the hot sun and mis er a ble.

Why are you angry about the tree, Jonah?

Why shouldn’t I be angry? I should just die, that’s what I should do.

Jonah. You didn’t plant this tree or water it. It was my tree. And if I can change my mind about a tree, why can’t I change my mind about a hundred twenty thousand people who don’t know right from wrong? To say nothing of all their innocent cattle.

That’s really what God says. Innocent people, innocent cows.

But there’s precedent for this concern. When God covenanted with Noah not to flood the earth again, he didn’t just covenant with Noah. He covenanted with every living creature. All flesh he had created, he covenanted with.

As Latter-day Saints, we believe that Jesus was the one who “did” creation. He created this world. And, with our creator’s death, we are recreated.

*point to sacrament*

There, under that cloth, lies our Savior’s body, broken and blessed. We have consumed it. And thus we live.

This world we’ve been given is complex and beautiful. And that complexity and beauty is based on everything that comes before.

*hold up SunChips*

Dead wheat, dead corn, dead parsley.

The snack-science geniuses who invented SunChips had, as raw materials, the dead.

We only live by eating the dead.

We will only live again by eating his body and drinking his blood.

But God made a covenant with all living things that never more will there be a flood to destroy the earth. What can we learn from that?

Hang on.

You know that scripture in the D&C that is sometimes quoted by people who, I assume, are more ignorant than wicked, to prove that we can just destroy everything and it’s cool?

For the earth is full,
and there is enough and to spare;
yea, I prepared all things,
and have given unto the children of men
to be agents unto themselves.

The earth is full and there is enough and to spare.

But: do you know what comes before this verse? After?

I, the Lord … built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.

And it is my purpose to provide for my saints …

But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

That’s what comes before. And here’s what comes after:

(so there’s enough and to spare and we are agents unto ourselves)

Therefore, if any [of you] shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not … unto the poor and the needy, [you] shall, with the wicked, lift up [your] eyes in hell, being in torment.

That’s pretty serious. I mean—we don’t even believe in hell! and yet God will send you there if the enough and to spare is not taken from the rich and given to the poor. There is enough and to spare only when our consumption is wise.

Remember what the Earth says, in Enoch’s vision?

Wo, wo is me, the mother of men;
I am pained, I am weary,
because of the wickedness of my children.

To consume is to live, and we cannot consume without killing. But there is enough and to spare for us and the poor and the innocent cattle and every living thing, if we use our agency to care for this world as her creator cares for us—if we do not kill more than is necessary for us to live.

Can I talk about Shakespeare for a moment?

This week, it was revealed that Shakespeare lifted topics and even some wording from a guy named George North, a guy who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Richard III’s famous winter-of-our-discontent soliloquy is a riff on something this North guy wrote.

But this shouldn’t shock us, of course. Shakespeare also stole from Plutarch and Holinshed—both dead. And we all steal from Shakespeare. I mean, c’mon, even Disney eats the dead. The Lion King is Hamlet and even a dummy like Gaston can quote Macbeth.

We create from matter unorganized.

Dead wheat, dead corn, dead parsley.

For most of the two weeks I was preparing this talk, I was just keeping my eyes open, trying to see the relationship between consumption and creation in the world around me.

And this talk is created out of what I’ve consumed.

Which includes the Old Testament,
the New Testament,
the Doctrine and Covenants,
the Pearl of Great Price,
three Shakespeare plays,
two Disney movies,
and this delicious bag of chips that’s been sitting in our car for over a month, presumably just waiting for the opportunity to become an object lesson.

Then I sat down and figured out how to turn what I had consumed into something new ‖ and beautiful.

We create from matter unorganized.

Dead wheat, dead corn, dead parsley.

We only live by eating the dead.

*point to sacrament table*

We only live again by eating his body and drinking his blood.

The body and blood of he who created us.

Worms may destroy this body,
yet in my flesh
                           shall I see God.
O death, where is thy sting?

I believe absolutely that we were put on this earth to recognize our dead with gratitude, and to turn them into something new ‖ and beautiful.

And that we were put on this earth to accept our Savior’s death and thus become, ourselves, something new ‖ and beautiful.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.

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