Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Mormon Coffee Rumor

Meg is mad at me about coffee. I didn't actually do anything wrong, but homegirl is taking all of her anger out on me anyway.

It started a couple of weeks ago when she tweeted.


Skylar "I don't even use Twitter and that's why I never like your tweets don't take it personally" Westerdahl immediately showed it to me and asked whether I knew what Meg was talking about.

Quick side note, yesterday morning I somehow ended up in a very confusing journey through Skylar's twitter. I got deeeeeep. And eventually found the moment he became gay.


Anyway, Skylar hoped I would know what Meg was talking about in her coffee tweet. I didn't, so Skylar texted Meg.

Meg explained that a rumor was going around that The Church of Jesus Christ of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was going to announce at its spring general conference that coffee is now ok for Mormons to drink.

Look. Meg is not a conspiracy theorist. Meg is a very smart person. I've never heard her engage in outrageous rumoring. So it surprised me that she, of all people, was publicly discussing this possibility.

Her sources were all the same usual sources for these types of rumors. "My friend went to BYU with a woman who's dad is the gardener for a lady who bought a painting of white people in the Bible at Deseret Book last Thursday and Sheri Dew handed her a note written by a colony of bees that if you read it backwards says that Donny Osmond heard from Glenn Beck that Mitt Romney said the coffee ban is going away and the second coming of Jesus is happening on Monday at 2:00 in the foyerrrrr of a stake center in Provo."

Suddenly I noticed that a LOT of the Megs in my life were talking about this rumor on social media--people who I think would normally roll their eyes at this sort of thing.

It made me start to wonder whether the rumor could possibly be true. And imagining a reality where Mormons could drink coffee started doing some tripppy stuff to my mind. You guys. I think I would actually lose consciousness if I walked into Bob and Cathie's house and saw them drinking the devil's drink. I was not built to witness something like that.

When I finally talked to Meg about the coffee thing, she conceded that it sounded like the typical baseless rumors we've heard over the years. But then she reminded me that for our whole lives there were whispers that Sunday church would go from being three hours to only two and then suddenly last year that actually got announced. So now who's to say what can and can't happen from the pulpit.

Meg also suggested that she was choosing to believe this rumor as an exercise of faith. And she quoted some scripture or Charles Dickens or The Secret at me about how if you think something is going to happen hard enough it will definitely happen.

Meg reallllly wants caffeine.

I wished her luck in her faith experiment and then went on my way.

As the days passed and I heard more and more chatter on social media, it occurred to me that I reallllly didn't want this rumor to be true. It's all for selfish reasons. I don't want the coffee shops in Salt Lake City to get more crowded. I've been working on an essay about my history with coffee and if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day I Have Carpel Tunnel Now Help Me changes course on this, I'm going to have to go back and update it substantially and I really don't want to have to do that. But mostly:
 


Well, Meg took the tweet as a personal attack, and then threatened me, which I think technically violates the rules of Twitter.



General conference came and went over the weekend with nary a word about coffee. I have no doubt that countless Mormons were very disappointed. And I can't blame them, even if I wished against their interests.

In what must be a fit of caffeine withdrawals and faith crisis, Meg has been relentless.






I think my favorite thing about Meg is that this is her Twitter profile picture:


My friends, that is the look of someone who has never had a cup of coffee.

~It Just Gets Stranger

46 comments:

  1. I've never understood this about Mormons. I get the whole "your body is a temple" thing but really????? Caffeine? And if they did change the rule would it be because God suddenly changed his mind about the body being a temple? Or is caffeine suddenly not bad for you? Are Mormons also not allowed to eat chocolate because there's about 30g of caffeine in a chocolate bar . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don’t know that it’s totally about the caffeine. Probably mostly about addiction and avoiding addictive substances. The Word of Wisdom was originally introduced as a code by which people would benefit from trying to follow. Some aspects have become black and white over time (“don’t drink alcohol or coffee) while others have not (“eat meat sparingly”). I think the rumor came about because there’s been a sense among many that the church community has maybe gotten too serious about the coffee ban, especially where there isn’t a problem with drinking caffeinated sodas, which are definitely more unhealthy. So, there may be some change to the way the church views it.

      Delete
    2. Wait - I thought Mormons weren't supposed to drink caffeinated soda as well . . .I had a friend in the 90s that joined the church and she immediately stopped drinking coffee and Coke . . .

      Delete
    3. No. There's been a little bit of a divide on that over the years, but never an official prohibition. Most Mormons will drink caffeinated sodas (you can buy them on Church property in Salt Lake City and at BYU). Some of the more intense Mormons choose not to. My family is pretty devout, and they are also all caffeinated soda drinkers.

      Delete
    4. Don't touch the Diet Coke man, we'll cut you.

      Delete
  2. It has always bothered me that the wording is “hot drinks”. They would *die* at all their winter ward activities without their hot chocolate...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm a fellow Meg who was so hoping that rumor was true. Meg, call me. Let's go sip some Diet Cokes together and say bible swears.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hate myself for how hard I laughed at "I barely even knowia."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not a Mormon here - but most of the Mormons I work with drink more than their body weight in Mt. Dew every day. On a side not - I am glad you showed that picture of Meg. For some reason I never really looked closely and this whole time I thought she had a witches hat on.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My brother-in-law is a bishop, and he was SO sad the coffee rumor wasn’t true. Oh, and my father-in-law, who is also in a bishopric, had a cup of coffee on our recent family cruise. He reassured me that it was decaf. It took everything in me to not smack my face with my palm. For all you Mormons reading this comment, COFFEE WITHOUT CAFFEINE IS STILL COFFEE.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I’m ambivalent about coffee, let’s talk about Megs hair. I’m a little disappointed that Meg dyes her hair. For some reason, while listening to the podcast, I imagine her looking like Giada De Laurentiis with lovely shiny brown hair. #gobrunettemeg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just that was a look I could pull off, but I'm about as blond as they come.

      Delete
    2. The podcast says many times that she's a blonde

      Delete
  8. Can we detour from coffee to talk about Matt Bomer for a second? Or, go get Skylar and I'll talk about this with him. I have cousins who live and grew up in the town in Texas that he is from, and I have a friend who went to his high school - and I have seen her yearbook with his photo in it - and I know this connection is thin at best - but I treasure it. I will probably never meet him in person, but I can walk the streets he walked, and gaze at his yearbook photo. That's not nothing.

    Ok, now we can talk about coffee. I am probably Skylar's other blonde Meg person that he was thinking of. Ha, I wish. But I have accidentally eaten chocolate covered coffee beans or something like that, espresso? In one of those mix packs of chocolates you get at Christmas and Valentine's Day, and my stomach hurt so much after that I wanted to explode and be done with it. I also hate the smell, emphatically. Thus, I don't think coffee is for me -but I will support the change if and when it comes because #sustainyourleaders. On the other hand, I am not much into any kind of soda, caffeinated or otherwise, so I don't think my daily life would really change much. Chocolate is my soul mate, though.

    And last, the fact that this is like, a thing that people talk about, is sociologically very intriguing to me. Utah, you're a funny old place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to read your first paragraph 5 times to figure out how this was related to this post. Nicely done.

      Delete
    2. See, and this is why I told you straightaway to just go get Skylar. (your hair is fantastic, much love to you, blah blah blah...)

      Delete
    3. I'm completely lost but now I'm thinking about Matt Bomer so that's just fine. I just watched the season finale of Will and Grace and if you haven't watched it OMG you HAVE to watch it!

      Delete
    4. Matt Bomer is God's gift to the gays.

      And his role on the most recent season of Will and Grace was awesome.

      Delete
  9. I am usually a mormon who does not drink coffee but I've had it twice in my life. Once because I couldn't resist trying a pumpkin spice latte and second because I accidentally thought the moca I was drinking was a hot chocolate that got a little burnt. On both occasions I was SO wired I thought I was going to die. My vision went blurry and in the case of the Moca I stayed up until 5 am because I bought the "hot chocolate" as a drink to wind down for bed. I can imagine once you get over the burnt taste and the "i'm going to die" feeling that coffee is actually wonderful.

    Just thought I'd give you a glimpse of the "first time I had coffee" stories you could be missing for the next six months.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Caffeine has never been officially stated as 'the reason' for the ban on Tea and Coffee explicitly. Some silly members of the church decided to speculate and apparently were very convincing it telling lots of people that this one specific chemical is the WHOLE reason for this commandment. It's not, never was, and the idea that it'd be reversed is very silly. Some people can't seem to differentiate between doctrine and tradition though tradition (Caffeine, 3 hour church, boy scouts, etc) is SO ingrained in the culture especially here in Utah that most seem to think that it's doctrine.

    I love you all, I don't care if you drink coffee or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Chris - IMHO - I think God agrees with you and doesn't give a hoot if people drink coffee.

      Delete
    2. Wait. It's not just coffee, it's TA AS WELL?!!! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! How do you even live?

      Delete
    3. When I do tours of SLC (certified guide) as we drive up South Temple, I talk about how it used to be called Whiskey Row because most of the homes were built by the whiskey barons who were running the drink from the east to the gold rushers in California. It wasn't until this time in Mormon history that Brigham Young put his foot down and BANNED alcohol (maybe coffee/tea too?) because he was trying to establish this historically poverty stricken religious people and was watching all the money he was trying to get invested in this city LEAVE on the whiskey runs? and maybe the coffee/tea trade as well, I'll have to look into that.
      Oh, also, it was a nice side effect of the ban that husbands stopped going home drunk and beating on the wives and kids.

      Delete
  11. My husband's facebook was full of people speculating what the changes would be. Somehow, I didn't see anything from any of my friends about it. The most popular ones he saw was an announcement saying we can drink coffee/tea and also one saying that garments only have to be worn in the temple. Of the two, the second would be a much more popular choice for me. I do not like the smell of coffee. I wouldn't mind trying tea someday if the ban went away.

    Anyway, so the possibility of LIFE CHANGING announcements like those made it so my husband made sure to watch every minute of conference. Mind you, we live in a time zone where this is not convenient. I watched half of one session. (Where we live, Conference always happens the second weekend rather than the first weekend, so last Sunday I was teaching primary instead of sitting at home in my pajamas tuning in.) So, my husband was watching conference at midnight LIVE while I was sleeping.

    There were no big announcements. But seeing my husband's impressive diligence in watching just to make sure he didn't miss an announcement (and to feel the Spirit, etc. but I'm waiting until next weekend for that) made wonder how many other people are listening more carefully now or tuning in to more sessions now just in case something major will be announced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay - I'm still trying to wrap my head around this and seperate what I thought I knew from what the regulations actually are. So you can't drink tea either? Doesn't it matter what kind?

      Delete
    2. Green and black teas are no-nos. Herbal, flower, fruit, etc. teas are okay. Something about tea leaves, is the general consensus.

      Delete
    3. I finally listened to the latest podcast today and I think I finally get it.

      Delete
    4. Herbal, flower, and fruit teas are technically not tea. We call them tea, but they could more accurately be called infusions.

      So if the hot water has tea leaves in it, we cannot drink it and keep our temple recommend. If the cold water has tea leaves in it or powder derived from tea leaves, then we cannot enter our temple. If the hot water has fruit or herbs or any plant that isn’t tea or coffee beans, then we CAN enter our temple. Likewise, coffee cold or hot, in desserts or chocolates, are not something we choose to consume.

      Caffeine consumption is not something we are asked about when interviewing for a temple recommend. But culturally, there are practicing Latter-day Saints who choose to abstain from them.

      Delete
  12. I’ve been thinking about this since I heard y’all discuss it on the podcast. My theory is that the Church started the rumor to increase viewership.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. allib3th let me enlighten you. The church doesn't do that. In fact, church leaders ask their members to not speculate on stuff like that. People (some Utahns, to be more specific) are just idiots. And I live in Utah, by the way.

      Delete
    2. Methinks thou dost protest too much . . .:)

      Delete
  13. So, coffee is one of the more important things in my life. It was in my husband's wedding vows. I sometimes joke that I love the coffee maker we got for the wedding more than I love my husband (only sometimes!).

    I understand that many people can't stand even the smell of coffee, but I'm hoping that the ban is lifted so more people can know the joy of coffee in their lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I have to hear your husband's wedding vows!

      Delete
    2. I already have a serious Diet Coke problem, maybe a 6-pack of 20oz bottles a day, which costs me approx $4-5. I really really don't need a $6 per 20oz coffee problem. I DO love the smell, reminds me of my grandparents. Also, so so so many extra calories in my consumption of coffee just so I can handle the aftertaste, DC is calorie and nutrient free!

      Delete
  14. I find this all very funny and veeeerrrrrrry Utah. I'm LDS but in the very secular and wicked part of AZ and hadn't heard any rumors about coffee, etc. It's one of those things we say, "Only in Utah" (and may roll our eyes a smidge). Many things folks assume a about the church are culturally Utah not doctrine. (Full disclosure: lived in SLC for 10 years).

    My dad always joked that the church would come out against soda, too, except the whole Wasatch Front is addicted to Diet Coke. I suppose you could argue they already have in that we are counseled to avoid addictive substances. That said, I don't think you'll ever see coffee accepted. (Full disclosure: can't stand the smell of it, so my bias is showing).


    And I'm will Chris--still love you all no matter what you drink (just keep that cup away from me because nausea) and I'll leave the judgment to someone more qualified than me. Except when you Utahns start with the crazy speculation. Totes judging you on that, or at least rollin' my eyes. Feel free to feel more righteous than me, as you probably are ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I don't get it...so Mormons are "officially" banned from drinking coffee and tea, but not because of the caffeine as a banned substance since soda and chocolate are okay, but because of some other "addictive" property they are thought to have? Which is...what, if not the caffeine? Sorry if this sounds rude; I am not religious, much less Mormon, and feel like I'm missing something as to why this is a thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I think you do get it. A lot of my Mormon friends find the coffee thing confusing and nonsensical, but to their credit, they don't obsess about it because they find plenty of value in the religion. I think a lot of people suspect that eventually the "ban" will go away or be reworded in some way that feels more consistent and makes more sense.

      I'm not a spokesperson for Mormonism, though. If anyone who actually goes to church wants to chime in and correct me, I'm all ears.

      Delete
    2. I'll refer back to how I explain it on tours of SLC. The Word of Wisdom was given in the 1820's in response to a prayer Joseph Smith offered on what to do about his wife's complaining about having to clean up the tobacco spit on the floor of the meeting room. The revelation clearly directs on avoiding tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea and a little more advisory in regards to the kind of diet/foods to live by. I think Eli said it well somewhere above in that it initially was meant as a doctrine to avoid any and all habit forming substances. Caffeine is an addictive substance, it just doesn't have any horrible health effects from being addictive (relatively, not like tobacco and alcohol in excess can) so I personally disagree with folks comments on that it's not about the caffeine.
      Just because we still drink soda with caffeine doesn't mean we aren't technically 'breaking' the Word of Wisdom, it just hasn't been specifically 'banned' over the pulpit so people still partake. There are plenty of mormons out there that adamantly declare that the Prophet HAS told us not to drink caffeinated soda. I'm the kind of mormon that feels like you do what is right for you, I'll do what feels right for me. If I had asthma or my doctor told me to drink a coffee a day for constipation, I would.

      Delete
  16. Caffeine is the magic elixir of life that proves God loves us. For the time being we will have to suffer through with mere cold caffeine, instead of hot caffeine, but after the trial of our faith I'm sure we shall be blessed with hot elixir of life. In the name of cheese and rice amen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could always warm up your coke I suppose . . . please don't share if you do that because *gag*

      Delete
    2. This reminds me of the movie Blast From The Past because the father likes hot Dr. Pepper.

      Delete
  17. Fun fact: my friend served a mission in Korea in the 90s and she was allowed to drink green tea as it was a cultural thing. *shoulder shrug emoji*

    ReplyDelete