Some of you may have seen the TV series “Jericho.” If you have not, and you don’t like spoilers, don’t read on (we have some very sensitive readers when it comes to spoilers on this blog).
“Jericho” is a TV show that explores what happens in a small town in Kansas named Jericho after nuclear weapons destroy multiple cities in the U.S. There’s love, and evil, and food storage issues, and some very intriguing stories dealing with how people struggle without a government.
I really like the series “Jericho,” but it has a huge, and I mean HUGE, fault, which is: there are no major religious figures, nobody really talks about going to church at all, and no church plays any important roll in the town. We are talking about small-town Kansas here. Have none of the writers of “Jericho” actually been to Kansas? In every town in Kansas, local pastors play a central and crucial role.
I live in small-town Colorado, which pretty similar to small-town Kansas. Our ward (we have one ward for the town and surrounding farms) is central to the community. No big community event gets planned without the Mormons playing a part. So, if many nuclear weapons were to hit the U.S., I can confidently say that, at least in my small town, the Church would take a central role.
We are the ones who town officials call on to volunteer at many local events. Our teenagers are always involved in local plays and community musicals. We help run the local Habitat for Humanity store. One of our ward members is on the town council. The mayor and police chief always come to our 4th of July breakfast. The local Scouts (based in our ward) are very active in the community.
Importantly, our High Priest Group Leader has developed an emergency response plan that is pretty complete. We have literally dozens of ward members with chain saws, trucks with trailers, tractors, generators and other emergency equipment. Most members have food storage. We are armed to the teeth — I would guess nearly every member of the ward has mulitiple guns at home (just as an example, one of our most popular recent ward events was the Elders Quorum Friday Night Date Night Trap Shoot. About 20 couples — including me and my wife — went there to shoot trap on our date night. It was awesome).
Most importantly, we are a volunteer-oriented ward. When I moved in, more than 50 people showed up to help us move in. People respond when asked to help, and we have all the phone numbers stored. We keep in touch with each other. We are organized.
But the other churches are pretty organized too. We have Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians and a pretty strong group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are several nondenominational evangelical churches that get big crowds on Sundays.
“Jericho” includes plot lines where mercenaries try to attack the town, and the mayor’s sons organize the resistance. The churches would be involved in that. “Jericho” includes many moral and ethical issues. How should the food be distributed? How can people help harvest from the local farms? Should a bridge into town be blown up so the mercenaries can’t attack? What to do with an accused murderer when there is no judge and a very small police force? Again, in any real-life small town, pastors and Mormon bishops would be weighing in on these issues, but in the TV show all of the religious people disappear (or apparently don’t exist at all).
I think some hard times are coming, but of course I have no idea of what those hard times will entail. It seems having food storage and being self-sufficient prepares you for those hard times. But the TV show “Jericho” teaches you a very important lesson: organizing skills become extremely important during disasters. When it comes to that issue, we Mormons are pretty well positioned to help out.