Something like this was bound to happen. You put several thousand UUs in the middle of the Mormon Jerusalem, just half a block from Temple Square — and you gotta know you’re just asking for a major, major smiting.
Tonight, we got our divine retribution, such at it was.
I was covering comedian Kate Clinton‘s performance “I Told You So” in the Grand Ballroom when our cosmic comeuppance was finally delivered. In fact, I blame her. She was holding forth on California’s Proposition 8, which overrode a court order legalizing gay marriage in that state. Based on some bad polling interpretation, a lot of people came to believe that proposition lost because of the black churches. But Clinton was setting us, ahem, straight:
“It wasn’t the black churches. It was the white churches. It was the Catholic archbishops, who’ve never been married, pouring money into the campaign. And it was the Mormons, who know so much about marriage,” she announced, dropping her voice to a whisper when she said the M-word. “And by the way…that’s Mormon, with two Ms.”
At that precise moment that her last bit of wordplay was sinking in and the crowd was launching into a collective roar, fate struck. Or at least something did. The entire convention center rocked with a huge clap of thunder that sounded very much like the roof trying to come down over our heads. Moments later, we listened again as the sky outside cracked open with a ferocious rainstorm.
Kate paused while the sound echoed through the hall. Then she stepped back up to the mike, and in a very sweet and mild voice said: “I love Mormons!”
It was only as I made my way back to my hotel half an hour later that I found out just how close the call was. The crack we heard was lightening striking the convention center’s tower, which forms one of the two main entrances to the hall. Our outside convention banner was partly struck down, and hung loosely by a single rope off the tower’s side. The entry was cordoned off with police tape, pending a structural inspection of the roof, supports, and glass. Outside, a storm of truly Biblical proportions was turning State Street into a river.
Serves us heretics right, I guess. Never let it be said that UUs are afraid in the face of divine wrath.
Still, He can’t have been all that mad. Because 15 minutes later, the storm cleared — leaving us with a gorgeous double rainbow arcing right over the center.
I hope that means that all is forgiven.
I had read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune (June 23 or 24, at the opening of GA) about another possible action of the Divine One in the Salt Lake area just before our official arrival, this time against a local church: a Mormon temple’s angel Moroni, gold-covered and atop the steeple, was hit by lightning and was left sans gilt. The reporter, apparently a pragmatist, suggested that it was primarily poor planning: no lightning rod. The two events in such proximity bemuse me.
I heard it was a triple rainbow.