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Utah Mormon

What does that even mean?! I tell you what, I was born and raised in Utah and I don’t see a difference. I have since lived a great many other places, being married to a Coast Guard Member will do that to you, and I still don’t see a difference.

I’ll give you that anywhere you have a large concentration of any religion you are going to see extremes on both ends of the spectrum. However, I will not concede that somehow living in Utah effectively makes you a different kind of mormon. It’s simply ridiculous, and yet, smart and thoughtful people use it as fact and infallible reasoning in crucial decisions.

For example, the following conversation between my husband and a member of the Coast Guard unit he was inspecting in the Chicago area yesterday.

CGM: Standing under pictures of Obama and Biden, “What do you do when both candidates are unacceptable? Do you have to vote?”

DH: “Whether it’s something you dislike more about one than the other, or something you find to like about one more than the other, I think you do need to take the time to make a decision about which one you will vote for. They are not the same.”

CGM: While pointing to a picture of Obama, “Well I know I don’t want him to be President again, but Romney … (long pause). Romney is a thief (leans in closely and whispers), and he’s a Mormon.

DH: Leaning in and whispering back, “I am a Mormon.”

CGM: Taken aback, and visibly trying to figure out how to navigate his course with a superior officer, he apologetically answered, “I didn’t mean it like that. I was just talking about Utah Mormons.”

DH: Leaning in and whispering again, “My wife is a Utah Mormon. What do you mean by Utah Mormon?”

The “P” word quickly came up. To follow there was about an hour long conversation, in which my wonderful husband, with all his diplomacy and understanding, was able to convey many points for this uninformed, but well educated and thoughtful man, to consider.

What exactly is wrong with people in general that we can have such esteem for our own “knowledge” and education and then say things that are completely false as if they are, in fact, significant or even relevant at all?

Whether or not you think someone is qualified for a job should hardly be based upon such trivial things as what state is said before the declaration of a nickname for their religion.

Maybe if we stopped labeling people and took a look at the things that will actually matter in whatever scope is relevant to the situation, we would be able to make decisions based on ability and skill rather than unrighteous judgments. Maybe that’s precisely what the Lord meant when he counseled us to judge righteously, while at the same time warning frequently about passing judgment.

Even if “Utah Mormons” were involved in polygamy, does how many wives you have actually say anything about whether you would be qualified to lead the country at this particular time? Absolutely not.

{ 23 comments… add one }

  • Michael J. Snider July 26, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Loved it when CGM backpedaled on Romney by playing the “Utah Mormon” card. He evidently knows Romney is a thief, but doesn’t know he’s not from Utah!
    The Utah Mormon habit that I find both odd and interesting is how some refer to anyplace outside of Utah as “the mission field.” (and I’m not talking about full-time missionaries talking about their mission) When someone says that, it feels like it’s meant to elevate Utah to some special status, which I guess would be “not the mission field,” (whatever that is.)
    It feels like a bit of an slam to whatever place they’re referring to but I could very well be wrong about that. Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Jenicolorful July 26, 2012, 5:09 pm

    Ive heard of Utah Mormons referred to in 2 different senses:

    1) Utah Mormons are better and more faithful Mormons, because the church actually functions as it should in Utah. I heard this all the time on my mission and since returning anytime i visit a branch struggling to survive.

    2) Utah Mormons are worse and less faithful members because they have grown accustomed to acting righteous at church when in reality they commit sins worse than most non members. Generally i have heard this when people bring up statistics of unwed teen pregnancies (Utah leads the nation), paid pornography use (Utah leads the nation), and in statistics of anti-depressant use (again Utah leads the nation).

    Ive heard the two extremes and Ive seen the two extremes. i personally don’t think being from Utah makes you more or less righteous, but as a personal matter i like being out of Utah because Mormon culture (not Mormon doctrine) is kind of annoying.

  • Amy Lockhart July 26, 2012, 8:24 pm

    MJS: Hope you don’t mind the abbreviation!

    Yes, this was one of those priceless situations. Especially considering the whole military atmosphere and chain of command aspect. My husband has told the story repeatedly to many of his coworkers, and although none of them are mormons, they know my husband is and they can fully appreciate the military aspect of it all. Needless to say, they have had quite a few gut busting laughs at the expense of this poor fellow. He took it in stride and they really did have a great conversation. You never know when the opportunity to share will materialize!

    I am not sure that I can enlighten you, but being born and raised mostly in UT with a stint in AZ, and living many other places since, I can honestly say that the entire Utah Mormon thing boggles my mind and I can’t explain it at all!

    We were in this ridiculously crazy ward (not in Utah) and I was dubbed, “the Utah Mormon that wants to come and change everything”. You know what I wanted to do? Purchase Primary Manuals because there were none. Audacious I know. You know what my husband’s (not a “Utah Mormon”, but he still got into the temple okay, phew!) response was to this statement, “You know what would be great. If there was 1 manual that every Young Men’s group throughout the church was using and staying on the same schedule.” given by his 1st counselor in the YM Presidency (who was also the Bishop’s son), in that same ward? He politely said, “Um, there is and we’ll get some as fast as I can get them here.”

    I don’t know what I did, other than being born in Utah, to deserve to be treated any differently than any other mormon out there. I am really glad the title has left me now as it’s been years since I have been in Utah and nobody really knows my secret anymore. Please don’t tell. As far as I am aware there is one Celestial Kingdom and there is no residency requirement.
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  • Sean July 26, 2012, 9:46 pm

    Don’t take it personally. It’s just a stereotype. I was born and raised in Texas, and all of my life I’ve heard a lot of what Jeni said (number 2) circulated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in the criticism. You see apostasy everywhere, but it blazes proudly in movements over there, and I’m not talking about questioning doctrine.

    Plus, it IS annoying when some (not all, or even most) Utahns talk to you like you’re second class because you’re not from Utah, and they act like it’s the holy land and that they’re royalty because of their ancestors. However, most of the people I meet from Utah are very nice people. Being a religious center, you’re bound to get the best and the worst. The worst just make more noise.

  • Amber Mae July 27, 2012, 5:40 am

    Michael,
    The only times I have heard the term mission field used has been by mormon’s who have lived both in and out of Utah, and it was never used to elevate Utah, on the contrary, both seemed to be elevating the “mission field” as better because the wards are tighter knit and less judgmental (according to these two people). Either way, it’s probably one of those things not worth taking offense at. Utah has it’s own vernacular just like any place.

    I agree with you Amy. The first time I heard the term Utah mormon was when I went off to BYU-Idaho and met lots of mormons from all over the world. I hated that some of them treated me differently when they found out I was from Utah. It’s just another way for God’s children to judge each other.
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  • Angie Gardner July 27, 2012, 2:06 pm

    I still think it’s funny when people make comments like this. It happened to me just this week when I went in for physical therapy. The therapist was scheduling my future appointments and I told her that I would be leaving soon for Utah to visit family and would miss a few appointments. She said, “oh, out with the Mormons”, and I said, “yes, there are a lot of Mormons in Utah, but WE are everywhere.” To this, she responded, “really, you’re a Mormon?” I kind of chuckled and asked her why she didn’t think I would be (must have been my tats or the cigarette smoke wafting lol) and she said because she thought Mormons dressed much more conservatively than I do – like in dresses and braids and such. I told her that the mainstream church often gets confused with the fundamentalists who dress like this but if she were to meet mainstream Mormons in other settings, she’d not notice their dress to be different than anyone else’s (except maybe more conservative.) It’s kind of interesting that even today this kind of belief is out there, but it is what it is. More and more the church is in the media with this campaign and hopefully that will help people to see that we (yes even Utah Mormons) are just people like they are.

  • Amy Lockhart July 27, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Tsk Tsk Miss Angie. I never thought you would stoop to tats and cigs. Must be all that controversial media you are wrapped up in! Just make sure when you roll that package up in your sleeve it doesn’t uncover your unmentionables :)
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  • Bambi July 27, 2012, 3:44 pm

    Utah Mormons have a completely different life experience than non-Utah Mormons. Growing up in a town where there is an LDS church on every other corner or where the whole states gets the 24th of July off certainly results in a different life experience. Utah Mormons may or may not have direct ties to the pioneers that crossed the plains and have a different relationship with the church because of that–the fact that their great-great grandparents settled the valley gives them an air of pretense. Utah is the center of the Church like it or not and that impacts the members there. Look at the taking your garments off while doing lawn care–that didn’t not arise out of problems in a Manhattan ward. Being in an environmnet like that affects the members there and creates a separate (but equal) class of members.

    Another thing is release time seminary (yes, southeast Idaho are pretty much Utah mormons too). Compare the kids who go to seminary during seventh period with the dedication of kids who get up for seminary at 6 in the morning. There are so many factors that distinguish Utah members from other members. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing.

  • Louis Gardner July 28, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Being from Louisiana and residing in Texas for the past (almost) 30 years, I have experienced a lot of different personalities within the various wards I’ve been in. As mentioned earlier by the first commenter, it kind of irritates when someone who just moved in gives a talk about their reluctance to “move into the mission field”. As opposed to Utah? On the other hand, there are members from Utah who act like everyone else and don’t even mention it. I just take it as a cultural leaning instead of a slight; it’s a human issue. It would be, I guess, like me moving to Utah and telling everyone “F#$% you, I’m from Texas. I, too, would like to bear my testimony…”

    Just kidding:) It does make for interesting conversation when I ask them to explain the phrase “…in the mission field” though.

  • Juanito July 28, 2012, 9:35 pm

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39727979/t/teen-birth-rates-across-us/#.UBSvN7T2Z_Q

    Hi, Jenicolorful;

    Utah does not lead the nation in unwed pregnancies or teen pregnancies.

  • Patrice July 29, 2012, 2:39 am

    I’m not from Utah and I”m not Mormon but, wow, some of you who claim Utah Mormons are judgmental don’t seem to realize how judgmrpental you are.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 29, 2012, 5:12 pm

    As someone who’s spent about 34 of my 48 years in Utah, I’d like to respond.

    When I went to college, I got really tired of Californians who FIRST said what part of California they were from and THEN said their name. And spent their entire tenure at BYU complaining about Utah and Utahns.

    Just Friday a woman from California — who now lives with her family in Utah — said, “It really bothers me how these Utah Mormons think they can ‘dumb down’ Broadway shows.”

    “Dumbing down” in this context meaning removing curse words and having the Les Mis whores refrain from showing privates and actual on-stage groping as they do in the “authentic” version. Oh, yea, we were talking about high school productions.

    Because California is all that.

    In Boca, I was assigned to visit teach a woman who had lived Florida a number of years, but was born and raised in Texas. She would only allow Texans to go to her home. Period.

    Because Texans are supreme.

    Aside from those obnoxious episodes, I’ve seen lots of people who love their home state that don’t bother me at all. People often love “home” where ever that is to them. I think that’s wonderful. Every place I’ve ever been has things to love.

    So, I love Utah. I really, really love Utah. Get over it.

    If I go to Wyoming, I’ll still love Utah. No, I don’t walk around saying, “Man, Wyoming sucks. Utah is so much better.” But is someone asks me where I’d most like to live, I’m going to say, “Utah.” And if they ask me why I love Utah, I’ll have a long list of Utah awesomeness. And some of you (the collective you) are going to take that as meaning, “[your favorite state] sucks,” whether I actually say it (or even think it) or not.

    Because you’re just jealous that Utah is so much better than your state.

    [For the sake of clarity, that was sarcasm. I just think the statist distinctions and divisions are stupid — and I’ve heard them almost exclusively coming from people outside of Utah.]
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 29, 2012, 5:16 pm

    Michael J. Snider:

    The Utah Mormon habit that I find both odd and interesting is how some refer to anyplace outside of Utah as “the mission field.” …When someone says that, it feels like it’s meant to elevate Utah to some special status, which I guess would be “not the mission field”

    For this to be meaningful, you’d have to present a context and possibly origin.

    Of course soon after the saints migrated to the territory that would become Utah, anyplace ELSE simply was “the mission field” meaning something along the lines of “more non-members than members so there are lots of people to share the gospel with.” What is the big deal about that? Why would that be interpreted (very selectively) as a pejorative?

    Personally, I have almost never heard Utahns use the term and, in fact, heard it ad naseum when we lived in Florida, almost always in the context of, “Here in THE MISSION FIELD we are sooooo much more faithful than Utah Mormons…”

    In other words, I heard it all the time by non-Utah Mormons to slam Utah Mormons. In fact, after about the billionth time hearing the unsubstantiated “mission field Mormons are so much better than Utah Mormons” crapola, I challenged my dear friend to support her position. She couldn’t.
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 29, 2012, 5:28 pm

    Jenicolorful:

    Utah Mormons are better and more faithful Mormons, because the church actually functions as it should in Utah.

    Given that the church is HEADQUARTERED in Utah, it’s kind of obvious that at least SOME of the church there (such as that at the headquarters) “functions as it should.”

    Again, why is this problematic?

    When Sam and I go on a date and leave another child in charge, things never, ever go exactly as I outlined. Last night, for example, Caleb didn’t take out the garbage and the boys didn’t shower before bed.

    When information filters through multiple channels and — even more significantly — filters through those who are inexperienced in procedure, things are less likely to be done exactly as prescribed.

    That’s not a slam on anybody, it’s just reality. It’s common sense. It’s obvious. Recognizing that obvious TRUTH has nothing at all to do with feelings of superiority. And it’s not remotely isolated to church issues. It happens in any organization.

    Of course there are times/places where “mission field” wards are run “by the book.” But it’s simply true that places with fewer member will, overall, have far less administrative experience, background, knowledge, and backup than places with a billion members. And with that come challenges that are unique.

    My current ward high priest group has over 25 former bishops in it. We’ve lived in wards where only the current bishop had ever held the position.

    Good or bad, a ward that has lots of experience is more likely to follow “the rules” because freaking EVERYONE knows the rules.
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 29, 2012, 11:05 pm

    Sean:

    I was born and raised in Texas, and all of my life I’ve heard a lot of what Jeni said (number 2) circulated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in the criticism. You see apostasy everywhere, but it blazes proudly in movements over there, and I’m not talking about questioning doctrine.

    What ARE you talking about?

    Plus, it IS annoying when some (not all, or even most) Utahns talk to you like you’re second class because you’re not from Utah

    Sean, I don’t even know what that would look like. In my entire life, the only people I’ve seen who were treated like “second-class citizens” for not being from Utah, were people who actually wanted special treatment and were annoyed that they were treated like everyone else. Exactly what punishment would be meted out to all, say, Iowans upon their arrival in “Zion”?

    …they act like it’s the holy land…

    Again, what would that look like? Do Utahns fall down and kiss the dirt each time they return home? Or do they, well, actually like Utah.

    …and that they’re royalty because of their ancestors.

    Yet again, what does this LOOK like. Have you ever noticed that genealogy — this odd thing we are encouraged to do — is about our ancestors. So what if people think their ancestors are cool. Can’t you chill a bit and be happy for their coolness?

    I have a bunch of pioneer ancestors. I love learning about them. I think some are totally cool and awesome. Some are odd. Some are scary. So what? The only ancestor I have that anyone might possibly know about is Joseph Knight. And I actually think he’s cool. But how does HIS coolness make me cool? My own sister’s coolness doesn’t make me cool, so I hardly see how my fourth great grandfather can do much to improve my social position.

    So I guess my question is, why would the mention of my one barely notable pioneer ancestor get your knickers in such a twist?

    I’ve heard lots of pioneer ancestor stories in my life. I’ve never once heard anyone infer that they were awesome sauce because their ancestors were well-known pioneers. (The thought is kind of bizarre.) But I’ve never gotten angry that someone else had a pioneer ancestor that was famous or notable or did something neat. And I really can’t see what your problem is with it.
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  • jks July 30, 2012, 6:56 am

    Growing up as a Mormon in Utah (or parts of Idaho and other places too too probably) IS different. I am raising my kids in Seattle and I am fully aware that there lives are effected by the environment here.
    The grey, the rain. It is part of being from Seattle. We don’t see the sun much. They wear sweatshirts all winter long and the grey or drizzle doesn’t bother them. When it is 80 degrees I know they will melt if we go to the park because it is too hot. When the sun shines my little kids cry, my toddlers used to become confused when the sun shone at them into the car.
    It is the first thing people know about Seattle. Just like being a part of my family means my kids get told they are tall every, single, time the meet someone and every, single, time they talk to someone again. Every, single, day of their lives someone tells them they are tall. No one ever shuts up about it because they don’t think it is rude to mention it, they often think it is a compliment (for my boys it is) but it gets tiring.
    In a way it is like “white privelege.” It shapes you when you are the norm in a certain way. It shapes you when you are different than the norm. It shapes you when you belong to a group and your identity is so blantently acknowledged.
    My kids can’t help being from a tall family, and since everyone comments on it they know it. They can’t help being from Seattle. The sun rarely shines but it is beautiful and green and the summers are actually pretty great. We never use umbrellas but when it rains we know that that is what people think of Seattle because that is what everyone tells us it means to be from Seattle. Such a little thing, but it is our home’s identity and it is what it is.
    Being tall or being from Seattle doesn’t make us better or worse. But it affects our life experience, and since Seattle is all my children know I am glad that they get to travel and expand their experience.
    It would be silly to pretend that it doesn’t affect them. I’m not saying they can’t learn to happily hang out in hot, humid temps but for some of my kids it is easier than others.
    When my family comes to visit, they wear sweaters and feel the damp cold down to their bones, while my kids are just fine in Tshirts.
    My Texas SIL was jealous of one of our vacations because she saw pictures. The pictures of my children playing on the beach was in 60 degree weather. She and her kids would not have been comfortable in wet swimsuits in cold water. They are coming next summer convinced they are missing out, we’ll see, lol.
    I don’t think Utah Mormons and Other Mormons should be in competition. Yes, I think everyone is an individual. But I think it is pretty naive to think that everyone’s experience is the same so there are no differences between us. For a teenager being the only Mormon kid in every class in high school has a profound effect on her psyche.
    So many Utah Mormons do not grow up on a block where everyone is Mormon. Many Mormon kids go to schools where being an active Mormon is definitely a minority. In fact, being white can be the minority in Utah. Utah is very diverse. I won’t make the mistake of thinking that every Utah Mormon has a certain kind of life.
    So I support Utah Mormons trying to explain that they are not all the same. There is diversity of experience there. However, it is still Utah.
    Sure, my kids have been hot before. Really. Last month it was 80 degrees and no one could sleep in their bedrooms (no AC) and so a couple kids had to be out in the living room with a fan. They know what it means to be hot!!!! They know what it is like to cower because their dad is so irritated and hot because once it hits 80 the house gets stiffling. They know what it is like that we can’t use the oven some summer days because it is hot, or they know that we have to use the fans to use the outside air to freeze the house down to 62 in the morning to counteract the heat of the day. Believe me, they get hot as much as people in other states, some hot days we can barely talk or function.

  • Amy Lockhart July 30, 2012, 11:10 am

    jks: Are you addressing my post or the comments that have come as a result?
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  • jennycherie July 30, 2012, 12:10 pm

    “I won’t make the mistake of thinking that every Utah Mormon has a certain kind of life.”

    I think that is key. Any time we say every ________ is ________ , it’s false. In this case, where we come from certainly does shape us, but does not make us identical. I don’t think I’ve ever seen much of the Utah Mormon vs. Mission Field stuff, but honestly, where we live we are just so glad to have functional members with strong testimonies and good understanding of basic doctrine, our primary concern is to convince them to stay. ;)

    Where we live, we are a minority by religion and by race. I really hope we will find out way out of this house and into one with two bathrooms before all of my children are gone from home, but I can also appreciate the experience they have of growing up as the minority. For now at least, my children have not been terribly concerned at fitting in and don’t seem to be aware of much in the way of peer pressure. They do complain at times about feeling different and they don’t have loads of friends, but they do have good friends from church and I am grateful for that!
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  • Alison Moore Smith July 30, 2012, 6:25 pm

    Bambi:

    Utah Mormons have a completely different life experience than non-Utah Mormons.

    “Completely”? Probably not. Somewhat different? Sure.

    Growing up in a town where there is an LDS church on every other corner or where the whole states gets the 24th of July off certainly results in a different life experience.

    Bwahaha. So Utah is the only state that has state holidays? But, yea, I guess if I celebrated Hurricane Supplication Day I would be a very different kind of Mormon.

    Utah Mormons may or may not have direct ties to the pioneers that crossed the plains and have a different relationship with the church because of that

    And non-Utah “Mormons may or may not have direct ties to the pioneers that crossed the plains.” But how does that change my relationship with the church? Specifically, what does that look like?

    Every Mormon has a “pioneer story,” whether it’s the plains crossing types or the ship crossing types of the grandparents in California types or the first generation types or whatever.

    –the fact that their great-great grandparents settled the valley gives them an air of pretense

    Again, what does this look like? I mean, I KNOW I’m so much better than you because of William Adam Empey. So what if you don’t know him from an other Adam, but he was a PIONEER, and I mean a SERIOUS pioneer, so obviously I have a special place secured for me on high. Whatever. But OTHER THAN THAT, what does it mean that I have an “air of pretense” just because my ancestors are SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than yours???

    Fact is, we ALL actually own some heritage with and probably owe some gratitude for a large, early group who sacrificed a great deal for the survival of a church we love. So what?

    I don’t have a single ancestor among the founding father of the US. Not one. But I honor them for what they did for the country and on the few occasions I’ve met someone who was related to one, I thought it was just a cool bit of trivia.

    Frankly, I think the notion that someone has an “air or pretense” over the fact that they might have a distant relative that you might have heard of is hyper-sensitivity and active imagination nearly 100% of the time.

    Look at the taking your garments off while doing lawn care–that didn’t not arise out of problems in a Manhattan ward.

    Bambi, what does that mean? Is “taking your garments off while doing lawn care” some major topic of discussion where you live? I’ve never heard anything about that, other than the temple recommend interview question asking if you wear your garments night and day. For the record, I do take mine off. To shower and lots of other times. And I haven’t heard any Utah Mormon Sacrament Meeting talks about that.

    Being in an environmnet like that affects the members there and creates a separate (but equal) class of members.

    Let me tell you why I’m super bugged by your comment. You kind of run loose and free with the accusations, but don’t take the time to explain or really address what you mean.

    Being in ANY environment creates separate classes. People who work at Walmart and people who don’t. People who live in Wyoming and people who don’t. People who go to public school and people who don’t. People who go to movies and people who don’t.

    You imply that this is a problem, without anything to back that up. Sure there are people who live by lots of Mormons and people who don’t. But so what?

    Another thing is release time seminary (yes, southeast Idaho are pretty much Utah mormons too).

    And places in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, etc.

    Compare the kids who go to seminary during seventh period with the dedication of kids who get up for seminary at 6 in the morning.

    Thank you for demonstrating my point. Here is the exact kind of statement I hear again and again with regard to Utah Mormons. “They don’t have the same dedication because they don’t have to attend seminary at 6:00 am.”

    So, this makes me wonder, Bambi, why does the church provide release time seminary when it obviously — according to your logic — produces a bunch of slacker Mormons? That’s not a rhetorical question.
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  • jennycherie July 31, 2012, 1:59 am

    Release time seminary makes me *so* jealous! I would love to have that. Seriously. 6am seminary is great, but I am sure it would be better at 2pm. :)
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  • Angie Gardner July 31, 2012, 11:09 am

    Yeah, not looking forward to early morning seminary in a year. Then again, I’m also not looking forward to the zero-hour French class my daughter has to take in 8th grade this year because they didn’t get enough to sign up to have it as part of the school day.

    I think I’ve said a similar thing on other posts, but I feel like Mormons are awesome, and kind of weird. We have quirks. When you put a whole bunch of us together, those quirks sort of stand out more…but that doesn’t mean my sister in Utah is any better or worse of a Mormon than I am.

    I have lived in Utah wards that hardly function at all, and I have a ward right now that feels like a “Utah” ward. Roughly half the members (and about 2/3 of the active members) are from “the west” and have ties that go back in the church, including at least 3 families that I know of either currently or formerly in our ward who are children or grandchildren of a former prophet, a current member of the first presidency, and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. For all I know there are others who aren’t “out there” for all of us to know this about them – it’s just that these particular people happen to carry the name so people ask.

    My point is just that there are good and strong people everywhere, and those who aren’t so much too. Some are converts (hopefully all are in the true convert sense but you know what I mean), some are pioneer stock, and others are in between. There are lots of people “from” Utah populating the wards of the world and lots of people who are newer to the church who choose to live in Utah. It’s really hard to stereotype that someone is better or stronger in their faith because of where they live, either way, in my opinion.

    As for our youth here, I have concerns about them and the choices they make. Many are not active (even several of those who make the sacrifice to go to seminary don’t come to church). Having said that, I have the same concerns about my nieces and nephews in Utah who struggle with the same things. We’re all just people trying to find our way in a crazy world.

    Having been on both ends (raised in Utah and Idaho but living out of state for many years now) I will just say this. It is very hard to be a Mormon girl who wants to “be good” in a small town in Utah. There is a lot of rebellion, and the kids trying to get you to rebel with them are often your same friends from church. We now live in a community that is extremely diverse religiously (most of my immediate neighbors are Hindu or Muslim) but most of the kids my friends come in contact have been very tolerant of our “quirks” and do not aim to corrupt, the way I felt often happened in Utah. So, my point is just that everywhere and everyone has their challenges. And really, how many Utah Mormons some solely from “pioneer stock” anyway? I have one line that does, out of many. My maternal grandma was a convert as an adult and my paternal grandparents were both raised by convert parents and were inactive most of their lives.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 31, 2012, 11:13 am

    Louis Gardner:

    As mentioned earlier by the first commenter, it kind of irritates when someone who just moved in gives a talk about their reluctance to “move into the mission field”. As opposed to Utah?

    Why does this bug you? Pretty much every place I’ve lived, I heard people say they were reluctant to MOVE, period. They didn’t want to move from where they were to where they were not. They feared the unknown or the different or the unfamiliar. That has nothing to do with Utah Mormons and everything to do with HUMANS.

    When my soon-to-be-newly-adopted brother came to live with us — after being abandoned by his father and years of foster care, sometimes really lousy and even abusive foster care — he slumped down in the car sitting on the curb outside our home (I was eight, he was ten) and told the social worker, “Tell them I’m dead.”

    It didn’t matter how crappy his life had been, at least it was a known crappy. And he was VERY reluctant to move to our house.

    I suspect that if someone moved from the Chicago “mission field” to the Lafayette “mission field,” no one would have their ears tuned to be offended by any positive statements about Illinois.

    On the other hand, there are members from Utah who act like everyone else and don’t even mention it.

    And there’s the rub.

    If Utahns “don’t mention” Utah, their past affiliation, love of home, or something similar, they are deemed to be “like everyone else.” When, in fact, that isn’t remotely “like everyone else.” People talk about their homes, their roots, their past ALL THE TIME. Probably most of the time, since that is what “story” is about.

    But if Utah Mormons relate their “stories” to non-Utah Mormons, a whole slew of the non-Utah Mormons appear to be just waiting to be to be bothered.

    It’s just divisive and dumb.

    When I’m in RS planning meetings, I often refer to how we did something in my Boca ward. BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE A LOT OF MY EXPERIENCE COMES FROM. No one in Utah has EVER said, “Those Florida Mormons come here to Utah and act like Florida is the only place they do things the right way.”

    And, no, it’s not remotely like saying, ““F#$% you, I’m from Florida.” But fair-minded people already know that.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…OvergrownMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith July 31, 2012, 11:29 am

    jks:

    I don’t think Utah Mormons and Other Mormons should be in competition.

    jks, I agree with your post, particularly this. I lived in Utah my entire youth outside of four years in California. I had no idea until I was an adult, that this competition existed. In other words, in my experience it was a Utah vs. the-rest-of-the-world competition that Utahns didn’t know they were in.

    The ONLY references I heard about the “mission field” growing up were either from a missionary talking about his mission (wherever it was and however many members were there, including those who served in Utah and Idaho) and when someone would point out that in Utah we have some benefits that not everyone has and so we shouldn’t take them from granted. (Such as, “When I lived in the mission field, we had to travel 13 hours to the temple. With the temple so close, we should remember what a blessing it is and attend more faithfully.”) In other words, “shape up Utahns.”

    Yes, I think everyone is an individual. But I think it is pretty naive to think that everyone’s experience is the same so there are no differences between us.

    I’m unsure what you were addressing with this comment. But I’d like to note that I don’t think anyone has made the claim that there are no differences. My issue is with the idea that the differences justify stereotyping, name-calling, and generally making sweeping judgments about the righteousness of others.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Best Home Organization ResourcesMy Profile

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