When reading the scriptures, it doesn't take long to realize that God periodically expects enormous sacrifices from his children.

Whether it is Abraham being told to stick a knife in his son, Noah building an ark, Job being tormented to the point of mental illness or Nephi lopping off Laban's head, it's all about proving one's faith.

The big question is, why? I figure God already knows how faithful people are. Hey, he would have to get out of the omnipotent business if he didn't know basic stuff like that.

So, being commanded to do certain things is probably more a matter of proving our faith to ourselves or possibly to remind us to keep taking our medications.

Most people feel solid in their faith. No way could anything shake it. They are prepared to die, if necessary, in order to prove how much they love God. Big deal. I could do that.

Sacrifice one of my kids? No problem. Build an ark? I'd start right now if I knew some people would drown when I got done. Some days I would cut off Pat Bagley's head if you suggested it, never mind an angel commanding me to do it. But those are other people's sacrifices. When God wants to test your faith, he'll go where you are the weakest.

My test came on Wednesday. It wasn't an angel. It was Dale Sorenson from the high priest group, asking me to help out with a welfare assignment. And because he wasn't an angel, Dale could lie.

"Just go out to the farm in Elberta and help them with some stuff," Dale said. "It'll only take a couple of hours."

I accepted the test of faith. Sadly, I failed. Today's column is an official renouncement of my faith. After seven grueling hours of shooting purple stuff up the noses of cows, no way can I believe in God.

I hate cows. And I don't mean just a little bit. What spiders and snakes are to most people, cows are to me. A real God would have known this.

Here's what happened. A bunch of us from the ward went out to the farm. Instead of crossing a desert, suffering a whipping, or punishing some apostate to prove my faith, I was given a small grease gun and commanded to jam it into a cow's nose, and pull the trigger.

This wouldn't have been so bad if what I was squirting in there had been something constructive like nitroglycerine. But it was just some kind of boring vaccine.

Not that the cows appreciated this service. Only being clamped inside a large metal chute kept them from objecting to this procedure in the normal cow fashion of attacking me with razor sharp cow fangs and claws.

Instead, they cursed me ("Moo you!") and blew snot everywhere. Cows have a lot of snot, some of which can reach fire-hose velocity. Within a few minutes, I was thoroughly slimed.

In addition to the nose injections, we had to vaccinate other parts of the cow body, stick some stuff down their throats and attach ear tags. I pierced so many cow ears on Wednesday that I could get a job in a mall doing belly buttons.

Tired, wet, demoralized, filthy, my faith was gone by the end of the day. A loving God would never have demanded something like this. I'm an atheist now. However, please keep this to yourself. With enough aspirin, soap, time and therapy, I may change my mind.

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