A recent discussion in Sunday School has turned my thoughts lately to puzzling about cultural differences and how those differences relate to (how each of us perceives) the gospel plan.
Every day we become more and more a worldwide church. I don’t have all the statistics but I would venture to say that if there are not more members outside the U.S. right now, then it will happen soon. And it is probably safe to say that, in the U.S., there are more members outside of Utah and without a pioneer heritage than there are church members living in Utah or with a pioneer heritage.
I don’t think that the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes in it’s essential parts. But I do think that the understanding of the gospel and of its basic principles and how they are applied in our lives is bound to change as large influxes of different cultures are added to the fold.
Do you think this is so? Or, not so much? Do you think that there are things in Utah LDS society that are regarded almost like gospel principles, yet are not required for exaltation at all and are only cultural in nature?
Here is a small example. I hope I can convey it aright. When I was a young mother there were ‘family home evening craft groups,’ essentially clubs, that got together to make crafty things for use in FHE. I did not take part in those groups. Mostly because they worked beyond my financial budget at the time.
Still, I remember feeling a bit like I wasn’t quite ‘part of the fold,’ or I wasn’t completely, all the way, Mormon. All because I didn’t have those crafty things for my family home evenings. Ridiculous, I know. Yet, shops marketing LDS products certainly seem to present the ‘LDS family’ in a certain way and I wasn’t sure if I fit that mold.
Some shops that sell products especially for the LDS family, often promote a lot of things that are more culterally a Utah LDS lifestyle, and not neccessarily so much a gospel oriented lifestyle.
I propose that one can live the gospel quite fully without all the extra Utah Fluff. Even as I write that, I’m not sure exactly what I mean by, all the Utah Fluff. Maybe I’m hoping each of you can help me identify exactly what it is. I’m not even suggesting that fluff is all bad, or even bad at all, but maybe I just need help in identifying what is real, true gospel principle and what is just ‘extra,’ and possibly even counter-productive.
But I do think problems arise, or rather problems may arise when the bigger message of what Christ wants each of us to know, i.e., the atonement, love God, love your neighbor, gets lost in all the fluff.
I think this is esspecially true if I were Asian, Russian, Brazilia,n or Dutch and was trying to make myself fit into a Utah Mormon mold in order to feel like I was part of Christ’s gospel. Even more so if I were from a country of more limited means than most people enjoy in the states. The way we spend our money to prove our ‘mormon-ness’ must seem outright outlandish and frivolous to some of our brothers and sisters from other countries.