Utah Mormons

July 28, 2004 | 145 comments
By

Since things are a bit slow around here today (unless you are interested in Zelph), I will take the opportunity to contemplate with you a silly question that has been on my mind from time to time lately: what is a “Utah Mormon”? I started wondering about this a few Sundays back, when a visitor to our Gospel Doctrine class started answering all of the questions with great authority. When I learned that he was from St. George, and I immediately thought, “Oh, it figures. He’s a Utah Mormon.” Then I started wondering how I could identify him as one of this breed.

Here are some possibilities:

1. Utah Mormons are from Utah, either by birth or by adoption. Being a Utah Mormon is primarily about attitude and behavior, but geography is important. If a person exhibits the behaviors associated with Utah Mormons (see below) but was born and raised and resides outside of Utah, well, that person is just obnoxious. She is not a Utah Mormon.

2. Utah Mormons seek opportunities to demonstrate that they are Church insiders, and people who live in the “mission field” are outsiders. These opportunities arise in various ways, but name dropping (“last week, I attended a Solemn Assembly with the First Presidency and the Twelve”) is particularly effective.

3. Utah Mormons simply know more about the Gospel than other Mormons. As a result, they feel compelled to bear their testimony in a ward that they are just visiting, and like the fellow from St. George in my story above, they tend to dominate the discussion in Gospel Doctrine class and Priesthood/Relief Society. Their proclamations rarely contain original insights, but they are offered with great certitude.

4. Utah Mormons often express wonder at the fortitude of the Saints outside of Utah, as if we are still using outhouses as toilets. This seems to be an attempt to ingratiate themselves with their newfound friends, but it usually serves as just another reminder that they are strangers in a strange land.

This is surely not an exhaustive list of attributes and behaviors, but it should be sufficient to prime the pump. Before I leave this to the comments, a few more observations:

* “Utah Mormons” and “Mormons From Utah” are not equivalents. Many of our perma-bloggers and commentators are “Mormons From Utah,” but I suspect that few (if any) are Utah Mormons. Same goes for my wife.

* Many members outside of Utah use the term “Utah Mormons” in reference to members of the Church in Utah who are slack in keeping the commandments. This use of the term is roughly the equivalent of calling someone a hypocrite. In my experience, members in Utah are neither more nor less hypocritical than members elsewhere, so I tend to avoid this usage.

* Finally, I am writing as one who has observed Utah Mormons from outside of Utah. Do Utah wards have Utah Mormons? I have no idea, but I imagine that the attributes of Utah Mormon within Utah is somehow different than those who visit us here in the hinterlands.

Tags: ,

145 Responses to Utah Mormons

  1. John H on July 28, 2004 at 11:40 pm

    Great post, Gordon! Yes, Utah wards have Utah Mormons.

    I’d add another identifier to your list: A Utah Mormon may not just believe in the “one true Church,” but they believe in “one true university,” “one true political party,” “one true newspaper,” etc. Utah Mormons have no problem making disparaging remarks about political candidates or issues since they assume everyone else will agree since we’re all LDS.

    I really hope, despite still actually residing in Utah, I can qualify as a Mormon from Utah. I have to ask, since I’ve never lived for a lengthy period of time outside of Utah, are arguments about movie ratings and Coke as important to the Saints outside of Utah as they are to Utah Mormons?

  2. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 12:35 am

    John: “are arguments about movie ratings and Coke as important to the Saints outside of Utah as they are to Utah Mormons?”

    One thing I love about living outside of Utah is that members of the Church spend more time fighting the world than each other. We just don’t have enough contact with each other to allow these sorts of debates to take center stage. If we want to fight about such things, we come to T&S.

  3. Frank McIntyre on July 29, 2004 at 12:51 am

    I’d have to say that Coke and movie ratings come up more at T&S than they do among people I know here in Provo. I don’t think I’ve heard either mentioned inside a Church building since moving here a year ago.

  4. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 12:51 am

    Gordon: John H is right, we do have Utah Mormons in Utah wards. Oddly enough, if you would drop the first criterion, there would be several more in my ward. We have a number of people who have moved here from outside Utah and who would fit your criteria pretty closely in spite of that: (2) For them being an insider in the Church means having read all of the right books and listened more carefully in Stake Conference when they were in “the mission field” (their term, not mine) where the visiting General Authority told them things that he presumably wouldn’t have wasted on us. (3) They certainly know more about the Gospel than the rest of us. And (4) they don’t let us forget that it is surprising to find Saints as faithful as those in our ward in Utah.

    As for Utah Mormons who fit all four criteria and not just the last three: they don’t have to leave the state to be found pontificating in Sunday School classes of wards that they visit. Unfortunately for all of us, they don’t just inflict themselves on those of you “in the mission field.”

    I once had to ask my bishop to call down a Utah Mormon (from Arizona) who visited our Provo ward regularly. Though not a member of our ward, he decided it was within his perogative to dress down the High Priests group leader in Priesthood class. And when we lived in Paris, the sure sign of summer was the Utah Mormons speaking up in Sunday School class. But, then, perhaps they had to. Not only were we “in the mission field” and not only were most of the ward members non-white, Steve Evans was the Sunday School teacher.

    John H: You’re kidding! You mean there is more than one true university? I wish someone had told me.

  5. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 1:11 am

    Jim, That first bit about the condescension of “mission field Mormons” was priceless. I can easily imagine that happening.

  6. Davis Bell on July 29, 2004 at 1:15 am

    Having grown up in Utah, I was shocked by the intensity of the anti-Utah sentiment I found among BYU students who were from the rest of the country. Gordon carefully makes the distinction between “Utah Mormons” and “Mormons from Utah,” although many aren’t as nuanced in their feelings or the expression thereof. Typically the main criticism was that people from Utah were small-minded and judgmental — a fairly small-minded and judgmental characterization.

    (One of my roommates grew so tired of the Utah-haters that he decided to prove all of their expectations right, offering in Elder’s Quorom to help any of the out-of-staters with the more difficult and lesser-known hymns.)

  7. NightHawk on July 29, 2004 at 9:04 am

    I see it mostly as a cultural thing. Whereever we have lived, whether it was in England or Germany, Georgia or Minnesota, there have always been Utah Mormons, as well as Mormons from Utah.

    The Utah Mormons are always easily identifiable by their piety. I think this is what you were talking about when you said, “Many members outside of Utah use the term “Utah Mormons” in reference to members of the Church in Utah who are slack in keeping the commandments.” Piety is, to me, the attempt to make sure that everything “looks” good and right. It isn’t hypocrisy, since the person really is trying to do right, but there is a bit of self-righteousness mixed in, along with the previously mentioned superior knowledge and insight, as well as some arrogance (I come from Zion, or I live in Zion).

  8. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 10:48 am

    I have often felt like I am missing some vital part of my brain on T&S conversations, and I must admit that this is one of those times.

    Why have I, who have lived in Utah but spent most of my life elsewhere, who was raised in Dallas Texas (where people also prattled constantly about so-called “Utah Mormons”)– why have I never ever noticed the apparent phenomenon that is a “Utah Mormon”???

    I am convinced that they don’t really exist. Everybody has different definitions of their “Utah Mormons”. For some, it is “piousness” that makes a Utah Mormon. For others, it is “laxness” that makes a Utah Mormon. I have heard my more “lax” Mormon friends complain about those pharasaical “Utah Mormons”. I have heard my more “pious” mormon friends talk of those “Utah Mormons” who will see R-rated movies, be the repent-and-go-missionary, and just simply take the Gospel for granted.

    From where I sit, the term “Utah Mormon” is simply another insult directed at anyone who happens to live the gospel in a way other than how the one speaking it thinks it ought to be lived. In other words, it is a meaningless term because it is inherently a subjective judgment of others.

  9. gst on July 29, 2004 at 11:11 am

    Gordon, is there such a creature as the Wisconsin Mormon, distinct from either the Mormon from Wisconsin or the Strangite?

    You might identify him by:

    1. The Sorel boots hw wears to sacrament meeting.

    2. The locution, I know the Church is true, eh?

    3. Using cheese curds for the sacrament bread.

  10. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 11:46 am

    Jordan, This is a pretty good example of what blogging can do to you. When I saw the fellow from St. George attempting to set all of us straight in Gospel Doctrine, I reflexively thought, “Utah Mormon.” Then I began to wonder what I meant by that. Having sorted that out, more or less, I then decided to ask all of my friends at T&S whether my understanding of the term was similar to their understanding of it.

    You are surely right that term “Utah Mormon” is highly elastic. In my case, however, it isn’t so much about how someone is living the Gospel — I have no idea about the guy from St. George — but rather about how people from Utah act when they visit my ward. Of course, we all suspect that Utah Mormons are just as annoying at home as they are when they come here, but there’s no follow up on that question.

  11. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 11:48 am

    gst, LOL. If you had said that the boots were covered with cow manure, you would have had it about right.

  12. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 11:54 am

    Well, remind me to never answer questions in a gospel doctrine class with anything that might be taken as “great authority”, lest the others in the class think me a “Utah Mormon”. Wouldn’t want that to happen…

    :)

  13. JWL on July 29, 2004 at 11:55 am

    May I interrupt this thread to try to rescue a useful term? For lack of a better term, “Utah Mormon” describes a significant social phenomenon in the Church.

    By 1900, convert baptisms in the Church had declined as the major source of Church growth and the large majority of Church members were concentrated in the Mormon settlement areas of the western US, primarily Utah, but also Idaho and Arizona, with outlying colonies in Colorado, Oregon, Alberta, Mexico, etc. From then until the 1960s, these people were relatively isolated and developed a distinctive culture such that when Thomas O’Dea studied them in the 1950s he described them as having becoming a “near-nation.”

    In the 1960s, convert baptisms again began to become a significant source of Church growth. Today, it is certain that a large majority of members of record are not desceneded from pre-1900 Mormons, and it is likely that that is true even of active members. However, Utah remains the center of the Mormon universe, and in sharp contrast to the membership in general, the overwhelming majority of Church leaders are Utahns.

    This social phenomenon has many implications that go beyond the obnoxiousness of certain members from Utah described in the post. While these implications could fill a book, let alone a blog comment, I will stop here with a plea that we set aside the term “Utah Mormon” because I think we need something to call those from the western US who are descended from pre-1900 Mormons and who have some connection to that culture. I recognize that the term is imperfect given the numbers of people in this group from other states, but I do not believe that you will find much cultural differnce between a Utah Mormon and, say, an Idaho Mormon.

    Another reason I would like to save the term from being tarnished by the obnoxious attitudes of a few is that I live in a city where everyone has an ethnicity. Frankly I like the idea that I can say I have an ethnic background with all the hallmarks of a weird ethnic group — distinctive food (homemade whole wheat bread as well as the famous green jello salad), language (oh my heck!), mythology (Orrin Porter Rockwell), etc.

    In fact, in my experience as common a phenomenon as the preachy, self-righteous Utah Mormon is the inactive or former Mormon who nonetheless cherishes their pioneer ancestry and culture, kind of like non-religious Jews.

    JWL

  14. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 12:16 pm

    In all seriousness, the term “Utah Mormon” always felt to me as if it included a major component of derision.

    I’ll never forget as a child when my family traveled from White Plains, NY to a Utah family reunion. Being active members we attended church on Sunday in a Provo ward and I remember the kids in primary asking me where I was from. When I said I was from New York they actually got up and moved over to the seats on the other side of the room, away from me. The funny thing was that I didn’t really care because 1) I had plenty of attitude myself and 2) the feeling was mutual — I thought they were the most absurdly snotty group of kids I had ever seen. I remember these little girls had so much makeup on — it made me wonder what their mothers were thinking.

    I now realize how ridiculous it is to apply the behavior of this one primary class to all Utah Mormondom, but that little experience stayed with me and was forever pegged beneath my concept of what “Utah Mormons” were like. When the term “Utah Mormons” comes up I have a reflexive very negative reaction and I have to consciously remind myself that this isn’t a fair and balanced judgment.

    Now I’ve lived in Utah for about five years and have begun to concede that since I haven’t had NY pizza in an even longer period of time, I can’t keep on calling myself a New Yorker. Plus, I really like Utah. I can bring myself to say “I’m from Utah” and smile about it. But I can’t seriously bring myself to say “I’m a Utah Mormon” — because in my mind it carries with it such negative connotations.

    I’ve never enjoyed hearing the term “mission field” being used to refer to places outside of Utah either. I never thought about it much, but the term “mission field” to me might as well mean “away from home.” Perhaps there’s an underlying feel to this term that suggests anyone who is in the “mission field” is only there temporarily.

  15. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 12:18 pm

    Gordon, I didn’t see any positive characteristics of Utah Mormons in your list.

    Perhaps Utah Mormons don’t exist, as Jordan noted. Maybe those who have a huge chip on their shoulders about “Utah Mormons” have an irrational inferiority complex that somehow they are not as fully “Mormon” as “Utah Mormons,” so they vent it with frustrations of the supposed qualities of Utah Mormons.

    I myself prefer the word Latter-day Saint, but that probably makes me a Utah Mormon, but since I’m from Dallas and not Utah, that just makes me obnoxious.

  16. TimeWeaver on July 29, 2004 at 12:20 pm

    The whole “Utah Mormon” dogma is really just a watered down mixed version of Kirby’s “Five Kinds of Mormons” and Scott Peck’s “Pattern of Transformation”. Both good reads and sum up the premise more concisely.

    http://bare.users.netlink.co.uk//5kinds.html

  17. Nate Oman on July 29, 2004 at 12:24 pm

    Both my wife and I grew up in Utah (she also grew up part of the time in California), but we have spent our entire married life outside of Utah. (No doubt everyone curses us as Utah Mormons behind our backs.) One of the things that we have talked about several times is how often members of our various wards have launched into anti-Utah Mormon monologues while at the same time being more or less indistinguishable on most levels from Mormons in Utah. That said, we both have concerns about the possibility of someday moving back to Utah and are currently planning a move to Washington, DC.

    One interesting thing I have noticed is that in Utah, members of the Church are often more dependent on family networks for the support rather than Church networks. In contrast, “in the mission field” I think that Church networks — e.g. Compassionate Service Leaders, hometeachers, etc. — often become more important.

    Another point, as someone who moves a great deal. (My wife recently reminded me that during our five year marriage we have moved six times.) We spent last summer in Utah. I doubt that a single person was aware of our coming and our going in that ward. (No doubt this was much to their benefit ;->.) On the other hand, my wife was called into the Relief Society Presidency in Cambridge before we had formally moved into the ward!

  18. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 12:30 pm

    Jim wrote: And when we lived in Paris, the sure sign of summer was the Utah Mormons speaking up in Sunday School class. But, then, perhaps they had to. Well this sure does beat all: an intellectual implying that others should shut up rather than speak up. But you are also right–maybe they had to because noone else was and the silence made them awkward.

    Gordon noted in his post that many Latter-day Saints outside of Utah use the term Utah Mormon in a derogatory way and not at all like Gordon uses it in his post. From my experience in the Church outside of Utah and outside of the U.S., this is by far the more common way out-of-Utah Mormons see “Utah Mormons”; Mormons in Utah are soft and hypocritcal, their kids all drink and smoke, even though, and precisely because, they are all LDS. It’s nice to tend to shy away from that stereotype of hypocrisy, but haven’t you risked hypocrisy in your own satirical depiction of “Utah Mormons”? After all, how is your arrogance towards them viewed in their eyes?

    Sorry I’m defensive about this. It’s just that I’m pretty sure that I would qualify to you and Jim as a Utah Mormon because I would have no qualms about bearing my testimony in a ward I was just visiting if the Spirit prompted me to do so, and, until reading your initial post, I have always felt comfortable participating in Sunday School and Priesthood lessons even in wards that I am just visiting. I can now see what any intellectuals in the many wards I’ve visiting over the years, and where I have not stayed my comments simply because I was a visitor, have thought about me as they sit in silence while the unprepared teacher spews forth inane questions and desperately wants someone to respond.

  19. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 12:47 pm

    I think John Fowles is touching on something important … the issue of how members who are from different parts of the U.S. and even different parts of the world view each other — often in a very negative way. I’ve certainly had my strong biases in the past (and perhaps even presently) and have to work to overcome them — to reach out to embrace that person who seems to match a loathesome (and probably irrational) stereotype that has been planted in my brain by some negative experience I had.

    It’s kind of funny to watch my Chinese-American wife who grew up in Orem, Utah and has basically lived in Utah all her life … and sometimes I wonder if she despises the so-called “Utah Mormon” even more than I ever did. “Utah Mormon” is sort of synonymous (in my mind and perhaps in some others) as “the Mormon I can’t stand to be around.”

    For my wife there is the additional component of race that enters into the picture … she has memories of “Utah Mormons” who seemed to select her family out for special negative treatment — driving their vehicles up onto their lawn for example. She particularly remembers as a little child watching her parents clean up the mess after “Utah Mormons” egged their house. Her parents aren’t LDS and at the time one of them had a parent who was visiting — so it was an especially sensitive situation and then this horrible shameful thing happened that shows they hadn’t been accepted by the neighbors. They were thrilled later to move out of that neighborhood and leave those people behind.

    The funny thing is that those who feel that they aren’t “Utah Mormons” and feel they have experienced despicable behavior at the hands of “Utah Mormons” simultaneously have plenty of Mormon friends who are from Utah. Despite my wife’s negative experience, she still converted to the Church at a later point — after waiting for a year (on her parent’s insistence) to go through with it. But I have to say that part of maintaining her testimony requires that she regularly splice the culture away from the gospel in order to distinguish between the two.

  20. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 1:03 pm

    Danithew says: “Utah Mormon” is sort of synonymous (in my mind and perhaps in some others) as “the Mormon I can’t stand to be around.”

    Exactly the notion I was trying to convey. Perhaps the “Utah Mormon” is kind of like the “reasonable person” in tort law in that it describes an ideal (or in the case of “Utah Mormon”, a thing to be avoided) of what each person using it does not like about some other group of Church members. Except that the reasonable person standard is meant to be objective, whereas the “Utah Mormon” in completely subjective. OK- so it’s actually not like the reasonable person standard at all, except in so far as the “Utah Mormon”, as the reasonable person, does not exist in real life.

    On a random note: Do you think that people in other Nephite cities referred to people in Zarahemla as “Zarahemla Nephites”? Maybe that was why the Zoramites despised Alma the Younger so much- he was a “Zarahemla Nephite…” who showed the audacity of referring to their righteous city as the “mission field”. :)

  21. Kristine on July 29, 2004 at 1:20 pm

    Guys, lighten up! I think Gordon had his tongue in his cheek with the original post–we all know that self-righteousness and smugness are (alas!) not geographically confined.

  22. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    Kristine,

    LoL. I usually feel my comments are the silliest ones and that I probably (in general) need to be more serious in what I say here at T&S. Maybe it’s a positive sign if I’m told I’m being too serious about something.

  23. Steve Evans on July 29, 2004 at 1:29 pm

    “Well this sure does beat all: an intellectual implying that others should shut up rather than speak up”

    You don’t need to be an intellectual to know when people ought to shut up, John. Over even a pseudo-intellectual.

  24. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 1:34 pm

    Steve,

    What does one need to know this then? Apparently I am missing it, whatever it is. I guess it is common knowledge that when visiting another ward we should keep our mouths shut?

    When should people shut up?

    Note that this is not meant dead-seriously…

  25. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    I’ll admit that I usually don’t like it when visitors bear their testimony or make long (or frequent) comments during a lesson.

    Yes, it shouldn’t matter if a person belongs to the congregation or not — we’re all brothers and sisters in the gospel.

    And yet it often feels weird to me. It’s like dominating the conversation at a dinner party at a house where you were invited at the last minute as a friend of a friend and you don’t know the hosts and most of the guests.

    The assumption is that you should be quiet and listen and get to know the people you are addressing before you presume to speak to them.

    It’s a question of audience.

    Actually, I’ve changed my mind [mid-post] about comments after thinking about a lesson I taught a couple of weeks ago where several visitors made comments. The problem is not with visitors who make comments — it’s as Gordon suggest with visitors who make comments that aren’t responding to things others have already said or who claim special or authoritative knowledge by virtue of whatever [I had an institute class with so-and-so and he said; or such-and-such GA told my stake that... etc.] or emphasize “how it’s done” where they live.

    The weirdest is when visitors feel like they have to give a report on the state of the church in their home area. Has anyone else witnessed this phenomenon? What’s that all about?

  26. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    Why is that so weird? I always appreciate hearing such reports. And I always enjoy what other people have to say, even if they seem bombastic.

  27. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 2:02 pm

    “Well, remind me to never answer questions in a gospel doctrine class with anything that might be taken as “great authority…””

    Jordan, it’s one thing if you have an interesting take and would like to share… But if you have memorized quotes from Bruce R. McConkie (or anyone else who is notorious for out-of-context-reusable-in-Sunday-school-material), which the teacher didn’t somehow take into consideration while preparing the lesson… only to refer to it emphatically as an end-all-discussion point… Mix that in with not being in your own ward… Being a Sunday school teacher myself, I’d say that would constitute as a time to shut up.

  28. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 2:03 pm

    If you think Utah Mormons are bad, wait until you meet Nauvoo Mormons (come see my post at Wump Blog). They’re taking over!

  29. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 2:12 pm

    So if I happen to think a quote is pertinent, but am wrong, and happen to be visiting or new in the ward, then is the time to “shut up”. Nice.

    One disadvantage of these blogs is that I am always reminded me how naive I am when I think that my fellow members aren’t secretly telling me to “shut up” or thinking unkind thoughts about me for no reason other than that I had the audacity to raise my hand and share something which, although I thought it was relevant, ultimately turned out not to matter in the greater context of the class discussion.

    I’ll especially be careful when I have anything to say which might somehow be attributable to McConkie. Then, if I happen to show up to Bob Caswell’s class, I’ll be more comfortable knowing that the instructor, who I always thought would be striving to be full of charity towards the students, is not secretly telling me to shut up and saying bad things about me when I leave.

    You know, I have for years tried to dispel the notion that other Church members are not secretly judging their peers. Reading comments like these shows I was wrong.

    But I guess now it is time to “shut up”.

  30. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    I have for years tried to dispel the notion that other Church members are not secretly judging their peers.

    er.. make that “that other Church Members ARE secretly judging their peers.”

    And I did overreact, a bit… I am a bit shocked that people actually want others to “shut up” in a Church class, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. People are still people, right?

  31. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 2:25 pm

    I have sometimes joked with my wife that the gift of discernment can be a curse rather than a blessing. The situation that Jordan Fowles is talking about, where members are secretly judging their peers … I think that happens all the time, and it might just be one of those situations where the gift of discernment turns into a curse. A lot of people are still able to sense the quiet and unspoken disapproval that is being felt around them and the secret is not really so secret after all.

    Everyone knows what it’s like to feel a “bad vibe” or to feel that one isn’t really fitting in.

  32. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    John Fowles: sorry to have gotten your dander up, but I wasn’t suggesting that visitors from Utah shouldn’t have participated in Sunday School class. It wasn’t participation that was the problem. As I thought the context suggested, it was the condescending way that they participated. They weren’t trying to fill in the silence; they were fairly obviously trying to share their vaster knowledge with the “local saints.” Usually what they said was quite obvious, and so was their condescension. William Morris describes the phenomenon well.

    Your criticism of Gordon for not recognizing the other side of the coin seems to have missed both the humorous tone of his original post and his recognition of the “Utah Mormons from outside of Utah” that I described.

    As Kristine pointed out, you (and others) are taking this a lot more seriously than anyone has intended.

  33. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 2:37 pm

    Jordan:

    Just to be clear — I’m not suggesting that this feeling of weirdness is an ‘active’ process that we rush to engage in every time a visitor speaks. That we’re all sitting around judging the person and then later talk about him/her behind his/her back [or at least I'm not -- I can't speak for everyone].

    Yes, we should all listen with charity. And I do — I always listen and try to understand what the visitor is saying *even though* I still get a slight feeling of discomfort.

    Le me ask: what do you think about my dinner party analogy? It seems to me that even in Church situations, we are social beings with social mores and while the chapel doors are open to all, because ward members are invested in a ward, it seems natural to me that they are going to feel like it is their ‘home.’ And as such they expect visitors to act with a certain measure of graciousness and respect. Visitors that come in and shout [so-to-speak] “Hey, look at me! I know what’s what! This is how it is where I’m from!” violate [at least for some of us] our perceptions of how a gracious guest acts.

    As Bob notes, what’s especially problematic is when visitors decide that they want to be *the* authoritative voice in a class discussion. You certainly don’t go into the dinner party situation I describe and say “The silverware you’ve laid out is the right silverware, but according to Miss Manners the forks should have been placed in a different order.”

  34. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 2:38 pm

    C’est vrai. Mais..

    Although meant humorously and tongue-in-cheek, this topic has real-life implications. Although I like to view the Church as a place where we can go and not worry about the politics of life and popularity contests, the comments on this thread have shown me that this is not so in all wards. The use of the term “Utah Mormon”, whether funny or not, is to me an unfortunate manifestation of how far we as Latter-day Saints have yet to go before we truly learn to love and respect one another.

  35. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 2:48 pm

    We sometimes have humorous comments on serious posts. Why not have serious comments on a tongue-in-cheek post?

    But perhaps in the future there could be a “serious gauge.” A post-writer could fill in little dots for just how serious they would like comments on the post to be:

    1) deadly-serious
    2) very serious
    3) slightly serious
    4) kinda jokin’
    5) speciously lightminded

    I think this is the only way we’ll be able to prevent this seriousness from breaking out again.

  36. D. Fletcher on July 29, 2004 at 2:52 pm

    In all seriousness, I wish these things had those little smiley faces, so we could ‘show’ when we’re not being serious.

    Online communications don’t articulate tone very well.

  37. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    Bah, I’m not entirely happy with my use of the word “speciously” here… I just looked it up and I don’t think it really fits very well. Another word would have been better. My apologies. :)

  38. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 2:57 pm

    Jrodan writes: “I like to view the Church as a place where we can go and not worry about the politics of life and popularity contests.”

    So do I. And I find that actually the Church works pretty well as such a place even with its cliques and the foibles of individuals — esp. if I limit my interaction to Church attendance and service.

    But I think, at least, that the phenomenon I’m addressing is less about the politics of life and more about civility. Your rightly bring up the idea of listening with charity. In my opinion, civility is a component of charity. Civility is a way for us to engage in respectful, cross-cultural discourse about difficult things. And, at least in my opinion, the key feature of civility, especially when you are among strangers [and that's what makes the LDS visitor dynamic so interesting (and sometimes strange) is that visitors are both strangers and familiar], is that you listen first and try to understand the people with whom you are enggaing in conversation and then speak, and in speaking, while you shouldn’t downplay or backpeddle your perspective, you should cast your point of view in terms that seem to fit in with what’s already been said and [most importatnly] how it’s been said.

    Now that I’ve gone all high-minded and pompous myself, I suppose I should say that perhaps I’m wrong about all this. Maybe the whole thing with visitors speaking during in church is analgous to Internet interactions. That is, visitors are ‘newbies’ and so their voice doesn’t count as much as the ‘old-timers.’

  39. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 3:06 pm

    I stepped away from the computer for an hour and look what happened! A few responses:

    1. Kris: Your call for calm is much appreciated. My original post was intended to be light, but not necessarily tic. I have heard the term “Utah Mormon” since joining the Church, and my Gospel Doctrine experience caused me to think about what it meant. I realized that I had affixed some behaviors to the term, but I didn’t know how others use it. The discussion has been pretty enlightening.

    2. John: Regarding positive characteristics associated with the term “Utah Mormon” … I have never heard the term used in a positive way. As my original post made clear (I thought), this is not an indictment of Utah generally or of all Mormons from Utah, but rather an observation about how we use the term in the Church.

    3. JWL: Terrific comment, and I sympathize with your desire for a term that conveys a cultural identity. It may be that “Utah Mormon” does the trick when speaking to people outside of the Church, but I think you are too late to salvage it within the Church. Maybe “Western Mormon” (a term that I have heard, usually without negative connotation) would work.

    4. Jordan: Re bearing testimony or speaking in Gospel Doctrine as a visitor, I will admit without shame that I am very sympathetic to the William Morris position. In my view, as a general rule, visitors should observe, not speak. Our Sunday meetings are a community building exercise. As Nate observes, this is particularly true outside of Utah, where we rely on other ward members as a surrogate family. Visitors are simply not part of the community, and they should be sensitive to that.

  40. Kristine on July 29, 2004 at 3:18 pm

    “In all seriousness, I wish these things had those little smiley faces, so we could ‘show’ when we’re not being serious.”

    Yes, but that wouldn’t be fair to Mormon women, who have spent lifetimes acquiring the ability to say incredibly unkind things while wearing sweet-as-cream smiles :) I’m Mormon *and* Southern, so I’m terrifyingly good at it! (millions love me and despair…)

  41. Matt Evans on July 29, 2004 at 4:09 pm

    Because our ward meets in the building next to the Washington DC temple, lots of the Mormon tourists visiting Washington come to our ward. Our average is probably around 20 visitors per week.

    Those who were the most dogmatic and condescending in testimony meeting, Gospel Doctrine, or priesthood have been from Arizona (counseled the bishopric from the pulpit), from Missouri (counseled everyone to aspire to a relationship with Jesus like hers) and Illinois (asserted all kinds of inside information on the development of correlation).

    As for the proper amount of participation from visitors, I prefer to think that the value of a comment is not contingent on the social relationship the speaker has with the others in the class. If it’s constructive, I’d like to hear it.

    I believe the pompous tone of visitors stems from their discomfort — students visiting Harvard Law School, whether from other Harvard grad programs, Yale or Berkeley, inevitably tried too hard to appear brilliant when they participated in school events. I didn’t want them to shut up, I just wished they didn’t feel compelled to try too hard — but the listeners are partly to blame for the person’s compulsion to try too hard.

    Finally, the term “Utah Mormon” seems no more appropriate to me as a term to describe a dogmatic or self-righteous or ignorant or insert-adjective-here Mormon than the term ‘Polack’ is to describe fools. Even if we stipulate that not all Poles are “Polacks”, that “Polack” is not the equivalent of “Person from Poland”, and that there are “Polacks” who aren’t even Polish, the term’s value is still premised on the suggestion that “People from Poland” are disproportionately “Polack.”

    And while I know Gordon was approaching this theme tongue-in-cheek, I think the Fowles brothers were right to point out that it is a serious issue. T&S readers would not have been surprised that some fellow readers were offended by the question “What is a ‘Polack’?”

  42. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 4:33 pm

    I had a random thought occur to me … we have a negative word or term for Mormons: “Utah Mormon.” I can understand if there are objections to a negative interpretation of this — but I firmly believe the connotations and negative feel are very much there.

    Do we have any kind of contrary term for a really good Mormon? I know that in Yiddish (or Jewish) speech you have the mensch as well as the nebech, the shlemiel and some of the even unkinder Yiddish terms.

    Maybe we need to broaden our Mormon lexicon a bit. We should at least have some kind of special term for the Southen Mormon girl who says unkind things with that sweet-as-cream smile. :)

    NOTE: By the way, just in case anyone doubts, I really am just being playful here… no harm intended to Kristine at all.

  43. Philocrites on July 29, 2004 at 4:38 pm

    JWL comes closest to how I understand the meaning of “Utah Mormon.” When I moved from Salt Lake City to Cambridge, I explained only partly in jest that my ethnicity was Utah Mormon. I wasn’t a Mormon by faith anymore, but the formative influence of my old Utah roots would be awfully hard to eradicate.

    My ancestors all converted to Mormonism in Europe during the early missionary work in the 19th century; they immigrated not to the United States but to Zion. My father’s ancestors were English and Welsh converts in the late 1840s and early 1850s; one line helped settle San Juan County — the ol’ Hole-in-the-Rock gang. So the pioneer stories and Three Nephite stories and ancestral Patriarchal Blessing stories about our family’s millennial role in Utah were all part of who we were as people: We were heirs of the Mormon pioneers, Utahns, and Americans — in that order.

    Utah Mormons are also a recognizable family of literary characters. Levi Peterson and some of the other Mormon fiction writers explore characters whose connections to the place couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. This is a question from someone who hasn’t kept up with the literature in the past decade, though: How much Mormon fiction is about non-Utah Mormons?

  44. Renee on July 29, 2004 at 5:18 pm

    I’m guilty of using the term Utah Mormon in a derisive way on occaision. That said, I’ll add this definition with a Foxworthy slant:

    If you move to “the mission field” and bear your testimony about what a trial it when your visiting teacher lives 5-10 miles away, you might be a Utah Mormon. :D

  45. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 5:28 pm

    Renee, That was great! I actually thought about doing the original post as a parady of the Foxworthy “Redneck” sketch, but I was not creative enough to develop a whole list.

  46. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 5:37 pm

    You might be a Utah Mormon if …

    Great idea Renee. That’s hilarious. Is that an old thing or been done already? First time I’ve seen that Foxworthy/Mormon merger.

  47. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 5:37 pm

    “Then, if I happen to show up to Bob Caswell’s class, I’ll be more comfortable knowing that the instructor, who I always thought would be striving to be full of charity towards the students…”

    Jordan, why the chip on your shoulder? This is an open forum where sometimes I tend to speak of my frustrations within the Church. That’s not to say that the Church isn’t true or that I don’t try and have charity, it’s just that I generally don’t blog about “the incredible striving for charity” part of my life lest I sound pompous and prideful as I call down my supposed hellfire and damnation upon you and anyone who takes offense at my comment. But I suppose blowing things out of proportion is a sign that someone is offended.

    I’m still wondering why you let this get to you so much. I’d love to apologize if I knew what it is I did wrong. Surely you’re not the judge of my charity as a teacher. Ironically, your indirect call-to-repentance / righteous-indignation tone is exactly the type of characteristic one could possibly attribute to a “Utah Mormon”.

    But that doesn’t mean I can’t love you or serve you. On the contrary, I’ll love/serve/help anyone who disagrees with me. Heck, it’s not just a hypothetical; I do it all the time. I just wonder why they have to huff and puff back at me because I’m not all of a sudden going to be what they want me to be.

  48. Renee on July 29, 2004 at 5:38 pm

    Gordon, I think we need a counter-part name for the rest of us that pick on the Utah Mormons… “If you think you’re more righteous than a Utah Mormon, you might be a _____”

  49. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 5:38 pm

    Philocrites:

    I’m not incredibly well-read in the field, but two comments related to your question:

    1. There hasn’t been a ton of Mormon fiction published in the past decade.

    2. Much of it (esp. the literary fiction titles I can think of) is still rather Utah- (or at least Western States) centric even if it doesn’t take place in Utah.

    I’d love to see is a piece of literary fiction that focuses on the experiences urban professional Mormons in there mid-20′s to -30′s.

  50. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 5:42 pm

    I just posted something on The Purpose of Gospel Doctrine Class that spells out in a bit more detail my views on that. I was inspired by Matt’s comment above: “I prefer to think that the value of a comment is not contingent on the social relationship the speaker has with the others in the class.” This ignores the important social function of Gospel Doctrine class, which I attempt to explain in my new post. Also, it does not address the main problem with visitors; I do not object to the occasional comment, but rather to the monopolization of class time.

  51. Steve Evans on July 29, 2004 at 5:44 pm

    Bob: “I’ll love/serve/help anyone who disagrees with me.”

    All right!! My apartment is a dump, Bob — if I disagree with you, perhaps you could assist with some light carpentry?

    Of course then we’d have to find something to disagree about. How’s this: The 13th Warrior is a cinematic pile of crap!

  52. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 5:53 pm

    Gordon wrote: Our Sunday meetings are a community building exercise. As Nate observes, this is particularly true outside of Utah, where we rely on other ward members as a surrogate family. Visitors are simply not part of the community, and they should be sensitive to that.

    This was a fascinating thing to read because, at least from my perspective, and I might be wrong, but a theme that has been discussed before here at T&S has been the criticism of the Church that a ward doesn’t welcome people like it should, i.e. that a ward is stand-offish and unfriendly when visitors do come. For example, that is the thrust of some of the comments on Kristine’s most recent music thread, where a commentor lamented that an LDS ward would never sing the hymn of a different denomination to a visitor just to help the visitor feel at home. I argued in good faith against that position in defense of the readiness to fellowship of the Church. But if the majority of the Church takes this William Morris/Gordon Smith approach, then those criticizing the Church about not being open enough to visitors (whether of other faiths or Utah Mormons) are apparently correct in their criticism. The ironic thing is that, it seems, the same people criticizing the Church for this are the people saying “Visitors are simply not part of the community, and they should be sensitive to that.”

  53. gst on July 29, 2004 at 5:59 pm

    “I’d love to see is a piece of literary fiction that focuses on the experiences urban professional Mormons in there mid-20′s to -30′s.”

    William, I understand that Neil LaBute tried his hand at this theme, and it wasn’t a hit with 50 East North Temple.

  54. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 6:01 pm

    Let me hasten to add that I liked William Morris’s dinner analogy and agree that visitors should be considerate and have the good sense not to be overbearing.

    I think that this blatant stereotyping, which would not be tolerated if it were against any other group in this entire country except “Utah Mormons” is just rubbing me the wrong way the more I think about it. If you want to criticize people who show these arrogant, hypocritically pious, and condescending attributes, why must you label them “Utah Mormons” to do so? You even conceded that they could come from anywhere, not just Utah. And if it is true, as you say, that you are not viewing all Mormons from Utah as Utah Mormons in this sense, then why are those ones who deserve the criticism generically called Utah Mormons in your mind when they show up in your Sunday School class? Why can’t you think in your head “the arrogant jackass” instead “Utah Mormon.”

  55. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 6:01 pm

    Sure, Steve, leave it to you to take advantage of the situation… Light carpentry, eh? The problem with your plan is that you assume I know what I’m doing. But no matter, using your apartment as an experimental ground for my newfound hobby of carpentry wouldn’t bother you, would it?

    P.S. Why you gotta dis the 13th Warrior? You know you secretly love it and just can’t admit it in public.

  56. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 6:09 pm

    Gordon Smith wrote:

    “Our Sunday meetings are a community building exercise. . . . Visitors are simply not part of the community, and they should be sensitive to that.

    Perhaps your Gospel Doctrine class president could read this statement at the start of class in place of the traditional welcoming-of-visitors.

  57. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 6:12 pm

    Bob C.,

    Now I’m really starting to feel comfortable here at T&S… when I see someone use the word “diss”. One of my favorite words that I use all the time. Thank you. BTW, I think the use of the word “diss” might be a sign that you aren’t a Utah Mormon … but you tell me. :)

  58. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 6:13 pm

    For the record:

    I make no claims in terms of “Utah Mormons.”

    I did not participate on Kristine’s recent music thread.

    And: note that my comments haven’t said anything about actual ward member behavior in relation to visitors. Of course, members should welcome visitors — even those who engage in Church-going behavior that may make us uncomfortable — whether that be “Utah Mormons” who feel the need to set themselves up as doctrinal authorities or ‘perhaps-have-been-away-for-awhile’ Mormons (or investigators) who show up in jeans, a t-shirt and exposed tats.

    And in my experience ward members aren’t standoffish with visitors — even those who are major bores.

    All I’m arguing is that it’s not unnatural for ward members to feel a little uncomfortable when visitors act in the ways I’ve described — and that common civility and the practice of being a graceful guest suggests that barreling in and co-opting a ward’s discussion time [whether that be in testimony meeting or a class] isn’t good manners — even if some ward members aren’t bothered by the behavior.

    This is not to say that visitors should never speak. I gave an example of where the visitor-ward member disourse worked. However, I can also think of several counter-examples — and yes, that behavior bugged me a bit.

    The bottom line for me: Visitors to a ward should expect a certain level of welcoming and hospitality. It’s what we in society do with guests. And wards that don’t do that are in error. But by the same token, visitors shouldn’t use their status as guest to “judge” the ward by dominating class discussions, claiming insider information and/or making comparisons with how the church is run in their neck of the woods. It’s not a question of speaking — but the manner in which one speaks.

  59. Steve Evans on July 29, 2004 at 6:15 pm

    john f: “I think that this blatant stereotyping… is just rubbing me the wrong way the more I think about it.”

    I think that’s right. You are blowing it out of proportion and getting upset over nothing, IMHO. Seriously.

    Bob — 13th Warrior was just awful, awful stuff. Crichton novels rarely make for good films (Congo, anyone?), and with all the severed bear-man heads rolling around, one could only hope to spot the head belonging to the fool who greenlighted this mess. Wow, bad. If you want a good barbarian-movie, look no further than Conan!

  60. Logan on July 29, 2004 at 6:15 pm

    I don’t know, danithew — using slang that is over 5 to 10 years old sounds pretty “Utah Mormon” to me. ;)

  61. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    gst:

    While I haven’t seen “Bash,” my understanding is that the Mormon-ness of the characters is only part of the play as a backdrop. As a looming white canvas on which to inscribe the shock of the black, cruel deed.

    What I’m talking about would be more centered on urban LDS dealing with issues of faith, community and work both in relation to the pressures outside and inside their belief and ward family.

  62. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 6:23 pm

    Bob Caswell: I can’t speak for Jordan, but the chip on my shoulder results from a lightning strike realization of what the people in the wards have thought about me when I participated in good faith as a visitor, speaking my mind on things I thought contributed “insight” in the discussion.

    Gordon states that he doesn’t mind the occasional comment, just the monopolization of class time. All right. That is fine and I agree with it. Similarly, I suspect that is what agitates you: not a good faith comment but rather some kind of self-serving, condescending comment from a visitor. Well, I can agree with that too.

    I like Renee’s idea that as long as we are doling out titles here, we might as well give a title to Utah-Mormon-haters too. Maybe “Smarty-pants Mormon” would work. No, disregard that, it is only a silly suggestion. Maybe “Real Mormon” (as opposed to merely a “Utah Mormon”) would come closer to what Gordon means. No, that’s not right either. Should there be something about “judgmental” in the title? But that is one of the attributes that makes someone a “Utah Mormon,” so that also doesn’t really seem to work.

    Maybe that exercise is too hard. Maybe we can simplify the issue (and get rid of the Pollack-resembling label of “Utah Mormon” at the same time) by reducing this whole thing to two categories: (1) Latter-day Saints (or those striving to be such) and (2) self righteous, self-serving, know-it-all, preachy, sanctimonious hypocrites who pretend to be Latter-day Saints. Unfortunately, it seems to me that most of us would fall into the latter category with the Utah Mormons.

  63. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 6:28 pm

    Steve Evans: I think that’s right. You are blowing it out of proportion and getting upset over nothing, IMHO. Seriously. Point taken. I can see how you would think that. Sorry to monopolize this issue like a Utah Mormon.

  64. Steve Evans on July 29, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    I propose a new classification: “Utah Bloggers”.

  65. john fowles on July 29, 2004 at 6:31 pm

    I propose a new classification: “Utah Bloggers”.

    Okay. I get the point.

  66. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 6:35 pm

    John, I like the dinner analogy, too. We often welcome people into our home as guests, but we don’t expect them to have the run of the refrigerator.

    As for your fury over the term Utah Mormon, you act like we just created it here. I trust that you recognize this as a derogatory term that many people use to describe all Mormons from Utah. As noted in my original post, that would be unfair.

    Is my narrower usage still unfair? Probably, in that it describes behavior not limited to Utahns. On the other hand, my experience has been that there is a high correlation between the relevant behaviors and Utah origins.

  67. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 6:35 pm

    John Fowles: (1) Latter-day Saints (or those striving to be such) and (2) self righteous, self-serving, know-it-all, preachy, sanctimonious hypocrites who pretend to be Latter-day Saints. Unfortunately, it seems to me that most of us would fall into the latter category with the Utah Mormons.

    Amen, brother.

  68. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 6:37 pm

    Bob Caswell: I can’t speak for Jordan, but the chip on my shoulder results from a lightning strike realization of what the people in the wards have thought about me when I participated in good faith as a visitor, speaking my mind on things I thought contributed “insight” in the discussion.

    Exactly the source of mine. And I did not mean to judge anyone, I was just expressing my horror of realizing how many people must have wanted to throw me out of their wards, and lamenting the fact that I have to be afraid now when attending other wards, even though I thought the Latter-day Saint community extended far beyond ward boundaries.

    My ignorance was bliss! :) Now I must step out into the lone and dreary world and realize what that gospel doctrine teacher is really thinking about me and my good faith comments (if I was actually brave enough to make any after this).

  69. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 6:42 pm

    Gordon, I think that the correlation between the behavior in question and Utah (or inter-mountain west) origins has more to do with population densities than anything else. There is probably just as high a percentage of sanctimonious and self-righteous LDS in New Hampshire as there is in Utah, Idaho, or Arizona, but because of the small number of members in New Hampshire, you’re a lot less likely to run into them.

  70. Kaimi on July 29, 2004 at 6:47 pm

    John and Jordan,

    There’s a reason why everyone is telling you to calm down, and it’s because you seem to be taking this way too personally. Nobody hates Utah Mormons. They’re a little quirky, but life goes on.

    John, be careful with that category of “those who have a huge chip on their shoulders about ‘Utah Mormons,’” you’re getting straw all over the place.

    Gordon is not trying to insult you personally. A lot of folk in the church have a perception of Utah Mormons, and it’s not going to go away because you get mad at Gordon or Bob.

    John writes:

    Bob Caswell: I can’t speak for Jordan, but the chip on my shoulder results from a lightning strike realization of what the people in the wards have thought about me when I participated in good faith as a visitor, speaking my mind on things I thought contributed “insight” in the discussion.

    Well, guess what — some people probably didn’t like it. That’s nothing to be horified about. They’re never going to see you again, you’re never going to see them again; they’ve forgotten all about you. And there were probably people in any given lesson who liked your comments. Everyone reacts differently. If you make a comment, some people may dislike it. If that’s such a horrifying possibility, then don’t make comments.

  71. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    Jordan, Bob, et al. You are more than welcome in my ward … now that you know the rules. ;-)

  72. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks! Hey- I may have to take you up on that since I am not too far away at the other side of Lake Michigan (in Ann Arbor)… But I will be the one talking and quoting McConkie with reckless abandon, and discussing how unlike Utah Wisconsin is.

  73. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 6:53 pm

    By all means, speak with out fear. But listen first.

    I think the major problem I have seen is when visitors change the stakes of the discussion by

    1. Whipping out the latest FARMS research
    2. Appealing to Mormon Doctrine (or some other similar work — i.e. doctrinal but non-canonical) as the authority and last word on a subject.
    3. Launching into a discussion on Latin/Greek/Hebrew or the dead sea scrolls or the apocrypha.
    4. Claiming that a general authority had spoken at a stake/regional conference in their area and made some sort of definitive claim about something [this is a gray area -- the definitive claim thing is a problem, imo, but something that gives an interesting perspective on the topic at hand is cool in my book]
    5. Expressing surprise that the ward hasn’t heard about or doesn’t follow or does differently a specific practice that the visitor’s home ward engages in.
    6. Name-dropping GAs, BYU profs, CES mucky-mucks.
    7. Launching into a long story about their visit to the Holy Land.

    As far as testimonies go, as long as the visitor keeps it simple and testimony-focused, I have no problem with it. It’s the compare/contrast with their home ward. Or the going into endless detail of why there visiting. Or the how lucky we are to live where blah blah blah or how lucky they are to
    live where blah blah blah. That I can’t take.

  74. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 6:56 pm

    Kaimi wrote: “A lot of folk in the church have a perception of Utah Mormons, and it’s not going to go away because you get mad at Gordon or Bob.”

    A lot of folk in the church (and, for that matter, outside of the church) also think Jews are money-grubbing and blacks are lazy. If those stereotypes were being presented here in the same way that Gordon presented the Utah Mormon stereotype, would it be reasonable to get mad?

  75. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 6:58 pm

    Jim, You might be right. You usually are. I certainly have encountered Mormons behaving badly all over the country (world?). Anyway, for me the Utah twist tends to be the implication of insider status. Of course, some of those people really are insiders, so perhaps I should listen more closely when it arises.

  76. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 7:01 pm

    Um, do any of you not go to Sunday school when outside of your ward? Or am I alone there…

    “…lightning strike realization of what the people in the wards have thought about me when I participated in good faith as a visitor…”

    Could you (either of you) clarify why this is such a lightning strike realization? I’m not sure why my annoyance with overbearing commenters that just so happen not to be from the ward automatically gives you the “lightening strike realization” that each time you comment outside of your own ward you fit this exact profile?

    You both keep taking this personally as if this whole discussion is attacking the insightfulness of every comment you’ve ever made outside of your own ward.

    The fact is that I have issues with annoying comments whether or not they are from members who are visiting or from members within the ward. There just happens to be a strong correlation between visiting members and annoying comments. That’s all. But I’m not sure how you get from there to the I’m-being-personally-attacked-because-Bob-must-be-speaking-about-ME-and-MY-comments way of thinking.

  77. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 7:10 pm

    Chris Grant: It makes a big difference whether the stereotype is being used by an insider or an outsider. Gordon is definitely an insider, and he raised the issue precisely to ask about the validity of the stereotype, not to praise it. As a result, I don’t think your analogy works.

  78. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    No one’s mentioning my name in regards to the offensive comments about Utah Mormons … maybe it’s because I was too offensive to even talk about. If so, I’m happy to ‘pologize. I tried to include lines that made it clear I knew I needed to overcome some biases I’ve had before. But I’ll just come out and say that this is something I need to work out.

    Logan,
    Actually ‘diss’ is even older than that. Good point. I’m more of a Utah Mormon probably these days than I ever thought about.

    Bob C.,
    You criticized those who launch into a discussion of Latin/Greek/Hebrew. Though I’m useless in Greek and Latin, I’ve been guilty of bringing up hebrew word roots and thoughts in discussions, in both Gospel Doctrine discussions and here on T&S as well. If that’s offensive, I’m happy to stop. I always think the linguistics stuff takes understanding to a new level but maybe it’s just to show-offy.

  79. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 7:21 pm

    “…think Jews are money-grubbing and blacks are lazy…”

    Chris, play fair. This is a stereotype about “Utah Mormons” not “Mormons”. We’ve already established that the title isn’t that great based on the fact that many “Utah Mormons” are outside of Utah.

    But my point is this: creating stereotypes about Mormons / Jews / Blacks… Of course I’d have issues with the stereotyping of all three. But this is quite different. We’re talking about UTAH Mormons, which does not imply that all Mormons are from Utah. It’s a title for Mormons who have a specific set of characteristics, NOT all Mormons. The same goes for “lazy blacks”; that doesn’t mean all blacks are lazy. We’d just be talking about the lazy ones. Now, it’s still not a topic I’m going to discuss because I know very little about it. But if others wish to discuss the topic of lazy blacks, it probably wouldn’t bother me even if the stereotyping of blacks would. Do you see the difference?

    So don’t compare apples to oranges.

  80. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    Jim F. wrote: “Gordon is definitely an insider”

    Meaning he’s a Utah Mormon? Then he either needs to adjust his definition or his biography, because they’re currently not compatible.

    Jim F. continues: “he raised the issue precisely to ask about the validity of the stereotype, not to praise it”

    But later Gordon said: “On the other hand, my experience has been that there is a high correlation between the relevant behaviors and Utah origins.” If I said that my experience has been that there is a high correlation between money-grubbing and Jewishness or that there is a high correlation between laziness and blackness, would I be politically correct?

  81. Davis Bell on July 29, 2004 at 7:27 pm

    I think Chris has a point. The issue isn’t about making it go away or not. It’s about whether the term is useful or fair. Further, Kaimi’s line could be used to unfairly end pretty much any argument — “A lot of people think the war in Iraq was just, and you getting mad at me for saying it is won’t change anything.”

    Many think the Fowles are overreacting; I don’t. I think they make some valid points. An interesting question to ask one’s self is “How would I react if a bunch of Utah Mormons created and used a negative label for my area, i.e. New York City Mormon: One who thinks NYC is the center of the Universe and the Throne of God, thinks he or she is better, smarter, and more cultured than the rest of the world, and is full of pride.” There’s certainly a basis for such a characterization, although the Utah Mormons would be careful to distinguish between Mormons from New York City and New York City Mormons. I would imagine many on this thread would react fairly negatively to this characterization.

  82. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 7:29 pm

    Danithew,

    Whoa! You must have me confused with William Morris. If you know the roots of words, and it can contribute to a Sunday school lesson I’m teaching, I’m glad to hear it. I too think that linguistics can be helpful when trying to understand scripture especially.

  83. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 7:35 pm

    Bob Caswell wrote: “Chris, play fair. This is a stereotype about “Utah Mormons” not “Mormons”.

    And the relevance of the term having two words instead of one is . . . what? If you like, change “blacks” to “black Mormons”, etc.

    Bob continues: “But my point is this: creating stereotypes about Mormons / Jews / Blacks… Of course I’d have issues with the stereotyping of all three. But this is quite different.”

    It’s different in the sense that it’s bad to stereotype on the basis of religious affiliation, ethnicity, and skin color, but not bad to stereotype on the basis of state of origin?

    Bob continues: “We’re talking about UTAH Mormons, which does not imply that all Mormons are from Utah.”

    What exactly did I say that led you to believe that I thought it was being implied that all Mormons are from Utah?

  84. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 7:39 pm

    Whoops Bob. Not sure how I made that mistake. Sorry bud. I guess that part of the comment was for William Morris then. :)

  85. Davis Bell on July 29, 2004 at 7:40 pm

    Bob,

    You don’t have a problem with talking about the sub-group of blacks defined as “lazy blacks.” I don’t think anyone would have a problem if Gordon talked about “obnoxious, know-it-all Mormons” as a sub-group of Mormons. It becomes problematic, for me at least, when you define them by their region instead of their distinguishing characteristic (it’s like saying, “most of the lazy blacks I’ve met are from South Carolina, and even though not all blacks from South Carolina are lazy, I’m going to call lazy blacks “South Carolina Blacks” instead of just “Lazy Blacks.”

  86. Steve Evans on July 29, 2004 at 7:41 pm

    Davis: “New York City Mormon: One who thinks NYC is the center of the Universe and the Throne of God, thinks he or she is better, smarter, and more cultured than the rest of the world, and is full of pride.”

    I’d have no problem with that label, with two small changes:

    New York City Mormon: One who thinks (correctly) NYC is the center of the Universe and the Throne of God, thinks (correctly) he or she is better, smarter, and more cultured than the rest of the world, and is full of pride.

  87. Gordon Smith on July 29, 2004 at 7:42 pm

    Chris, Having the benefit of all of this discussion, I would write my original post differently now. As Jim notes, my main motivation was to explore the meaning of “Utah Mormon,” a concept that I did not invent, but have heard since my first encounters with the Church. As far as I can tell from the discussion, there is no universal understanding of this term, but we all agree that it is negative.

    As noted in my original post, I tend to use the word in its narrowest sense, referring to people from Utah who behave badly when visiting my ward. While I believe that this phenomenon is real, one lesson I have taken from this discussion is that the likelihood of someone misunderstanding my idiosyncratic use of the term is fairly high. Moreover, even those who understand me perfectly may take offense because the term implies a connection between a large group of people (Mormons from Utah) with bad behavior. In any event, the result will be that someone is hurt by my comments, and that is a bad thing. If you have taken offense at what I have written, I apologize. Furthermore, I have decided in the course of our discussion here that the risk of offense outweighs the value of the word to me. While I cannot stop others from using it, I will hereafter refrain from using it myself. (Unfortunately, I cannot commit to refrain from thinking it, but I will do my best.)

  88. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 7:45 pm

    Chris Grant: “Meaning he’s a Utah Mormon?”

    Of course not. Meaning he’s LDS. It isn’t a question of political correctness per se. It’s a question of who’s using talking about the stereotype. If you were a black Jew you could reasonably make the observations you suggest without necessarily having been anti-Semitic or a white supremacist. That wouldn’t make them right; it would just make them a lot more acceptable than if you were a white non-Jew.

    Davis Bell: Wasn’t the point of Gordon’s original post to ask whether the term “Utah Mormon” is useful or fair and to point out that, fair or not, it has some basis in experience? Most stereotypes are unfair and most have some basis in experience, even if that basis involves fallacious reasoning.

  89. Davis Bell on July 29, 2004 at 7:49 pm

    Steve,

    I’m moving there in a few weeks, and I’m really excited for the endowment of knowledge and wisdom I will no doubt recieve upon becoming a resident; I’m just curious as to how and when this endowment is recieved. Do you recieve it when you pay for your first month of rent? Is there a waiting period before recieving it, just to make sure you’re going to stick around? Please advise.

  90. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 7:51 pm

    Jim F. wrote: “Of course not. Meaning he’s LDS.”

    But Gordon’s Mormonness is no more relevant to him being an insider with respect to the Utah Mormon stereotype than my membership in the human race is to me being an insider with respect to stereotyping of black human beings.

  91. Davis Bell on July 29, 2004 at 7:54 pm

    Jim,

    Indeed it was. My comments haven’t been directed at Gordon, but at the other comments to his original post.

  92. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 7:57 pm

    “And the relevance of the term having two words instead of one is . . . what?”

    I’m really not sure how to respond. It sounds like you didn’t understand my comment at all. Ask Davis, he seemed to understand what I was talking about.

    “but not bad to stereotype on the basis of state of origin?”

    Again, did you not understand what I was saying? I thought I made it clear that the stereotype’s title wasn’t that great because it’s not necessarily a Utah thing.

    “What exactly did I say that led you to believe that I thought it was being implied that all Mormons are from Utah?”

    Nothing. I just used this for emphasis to show that “lazy blacks” does not necessarily mean the same thing as “all blacks are lazy” in the same way “Utah Mormons” doesn’t mean “all Mormons are from Utah”. Or as Davis put it, “obnoxious, know-it-all Mormons” doesn’t mean the same thing as “all Mormons are obnoxious, know-it-alls”.

  93. Jim F. on July 29, 2004 at 8:04 pm

    Chris Grant: I don’t see why the fact that Gordon is LDS isn’t relevant to his discussion of LDS stereotypes.

  94. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    Davis, I thought I’ve admitted (as well as many others) that the term Utah Mormon has been poorly coined due to other factors being involved than just geography.

    I’m not going make a lifetime effort of changing the name even if I think it’s not the best choice. If that’s the issue, then Chris should be using the term “African American” instead of “black” in order to be consistent.

  95. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 8:13 pm

    Yeah Chris, I’m with Jim. I think you were comparing apples and oranges again.

    “Mormon to Utah Mormon” is like “human to black”? What?

    I think there’s a big difference and that Gordon’s membership in the Church has everything do with him questioning a certain stereotype he didn’t make up.

  96. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 8:18 pm

    “New York City Mormon: One who thinks NYC is the center of the Universe and the Throne of God, thinks he or she is better, smarter, and more cultured than the rest of the world, and is full of pride.”

    I’m not sure about New York City specifically, but I always like to semi-jokingly refer to New York as the “Holy Land.” After all, that’s where the First Vision occurred.

  97. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 8:19 pm

    Jim F. wrote: “Chris Grant: I don’t see why the fact that Gordon is LDS isn’t relevant to his discussion of LDS stereotypes.”

    Gordon was discussing stereotypes of Utah Mormons, not Mormons in general. In that context, Gordon’s Mormonness is relevant to the same extent that my American citizenship is relevant to my putting forth stereotypes of black Americans. My American citizenship does not qualify me for “insider” status with respect to stereotypes of black Americans, and Gordon’s Mormonness doesn’t qualify him for “insider” status with respect to stereotypes of Utah Mormons. Would you like me to draw you a Venn diagram?

  98. Davis Bell on July 29, 2004 at 8:20 pm

    Jim, I think Chris’ point is that even though Gordon is a Mormon, he’s (or was) negatively stereotyping a sub-group of Mormons to which he doesn’t not belong. It’s the difference between an African-American from Boston using the term “South Carolina A-A” and an A-A from South Carolina using the term.

    Bob, I missed where you admitted that; apologies.

  99. Jordan Fowles on July 29, 2004 at 8:21 pm

    One of the weaknesses of typing instead of speaking is that nobody can hear your tone of voice.

    If you all could hear me say what I have typed, then you would know that I am not as annoyed as the words I type may make it sound.

    I have actually found this discussion quite entertaining, and haven’t taken it personally, other than that it has opened my eyes to the fact that people may *gasp* actually find me annoying sometimes.

    Never a pleasant realization.

  100. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 8:23 pm

    Bob Caswell wrote: “‘Mormon to Utah Mormon’ is like “human to black”?

    No. “Obnoxious, know-it-all Mormon from Utah” is to “Utah Mormon” as “lazy black” is to “black” and as “money-grubbing Jew” is to “Jew”.

  101. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 8:37 pm

    Chris,

    Are you suggesting we (the non-Utah Mormons) should not analyze the characteristics of those other Mormons regardless of how much we have in common? We must only talk about our own kind. If I’m a Utah Mormon with blonde hair, I can’t talk about the Utah Mormon with brown hair?

    In other words (my turn with the analogy making), if you’re a Republican politician, being a politician gives you no added basis by which you could analyze the actions of Democrats (because you’re not a Democrat)? I don’t buy that there’s absolutely no relevancy.

  102. Bob Caswell on July 29, 2004 at 8:44 pm

    “No. “Obnoxious, know-it-all Mormon from Utah” is to “Utah Mormon” as “lazy black” is to “black” and as “money-grubbing Jew” is to “Jew”.”

    For the record, I am a Utah Mormon by one defintion (raised here / still live here)… I guess I’m just not very good at being offended when I’m supposed to be.

  103. Renee on July 29, 2004 at 8:46 pm

    Actually, been thinking about this and I think there’s maybe 2 distinct Utah Mormon subclasses.

    Yes, they could be anywhere. Yes, these are generalizations.

    1) The obnoxious ward visiting testimony rambling gospel doctrine monopolizing version.

    2) The lackadaisical only going to church because my wife/mother/roommates expect me to not invested in the process sent home early from my mission make fun of teary-eyed testimony version. aka Cultural Mormon.

    I’ll take version 1 over 2 any day of the week. Did I mention that I know I’m generalizing here? Joking, really. But of course there’s a *little* truth in every jest. Sometimes very little.

    But seriously, I made a flippant comment once to a seasoned member about how at least here in the proverbial mission field people who didn’t want to live the gospel just went inactive and I thought that was preferential to putting on appearances like a Utah Mormon. She was quiet for a moment and then said, “Wouldn’t it be better for someone to continue coming to church where they might find their faith in the gospel again?” Of course, she was right and I was sufficiently humbled.

  104. William Morris on July 29, 2004 at 8:46 pm

    danithew: I have no problem with perspective per se. The important qualifier with any of the items on the list is that — in my opinion — the practices become problematic when they raise the stakes (and tone) or change the parameters of the discussion.

    Thus — bringing up a the meaning of Hebrew roots as a way of adding nuance to the interpretation of a particular scriptural verse is fine in my book albeit a bit show-offy.

    Using your understanding of Latin/Greek/Hebrew to assert the primacy of your interpretation or to cast doubt on another’s interpretation is a sketchy practice in my book [ sidenote: get it? sketchy -- book? :-) ] — it leads to a sort of stunned, awkward silence in my experience.

    —-
    For the record: I’m the most evil of all Mormons — a Utah-California hybrid. I combine the sanctimony and parochialness of Utah with the relaxed attitude and superficiality of California.

  105. Chris Grant on July 29, 2004 at 8:49 pm

    Bob Caswell wrote: “Are you suggesting we (the non-Utah Mormons) should not analyze the characteristics of those other Mormons regardless of how much we have in common?”

    No, I’m saying that your analysis of such characteristics should be as circumspect as you’d like the analysis of the characteristics of black Americans by non-black Americans to be.

  106. yungmom on July 29, 2004 at 9:11 pm

    This is my first post here. I was directed here because I had made a thread on this same topic just yesterday.

    Some of this I can tell has been joking. I can also understand that not all mormons living outside of UT feel this way about all of us living in UT.

    Some have suggested that we mormons from UT are being too sensitive and that’s probably true, but it’s not without cause. I can’t tell you how many times I hear a negative use of the term – in whatever deinition used. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that we just don’t understand. I never hear, “let me tell you about this great idea that I heard from my friend in UT”. But often I hear “guess what my friend in TX, Guam, DC did in their ward.” while sitting in church here.

    I realize not all have heard it this way, but every time I have heard “mission field” it was always used with great respect.

    Having lived outside of UT there is only 1 thing that I have found different. There is a greater percentage of mormons in UT. That’s it! Every stereotype (including ones posted here) that I have heard really depended on the ward not on whether is is located in or out of UT. And yet the term is used over and over again. Thank you Gordon for choosing not to use it.

    I have to admit that I am hurt over this thread. I’m hurt that I had this amazing (to me) on topic insight last week while sitting in church and shared it briefly that some might have thought I wasn’t welcome there. Several here are trying to say that it is ok if you have a brief comment, but don’t over do it if you are a visitor from UT. But isn’t it true for people within your home ward too? What does UT or even just being a visitor have to do with it?

    And if there is anyone here from the Renton WA area I want to whole heartedly thank you. When we attended last month I have never been so warmly welcomed in any ward I have ever been to both inside and outside of UT. You truely have the Spirit of Christ in you.

  107. Pink Floyd on July 30, 2004 at 12:40 am

    Long time lurker, first time poster. You are all way too smart for me…

    I’m with yungmom here. I am also hurt by some of the expressions about “Utah Mormoms.” Just how should I introduce myself if I visit your ward? “Hi, I’m from Utah, but I’m not a ‘Utah Mormom?’” Because as soon as I say “I’m from Utah,” eyes will roll.

    Secondly: Name dropping. What am I supposed to do? If I really did attend a temple session with the First Presidency and had a great experience, am I not supposed to say anything to you? If I do share an elevator with President Packer and he has a great conversation with my 10 year old son about mission preparation, do I keep it to myself? If a former President of the Primary lives two streets above me, should I not share any of her testimony about teaching children? If a former Young Women General Board member is my wifes visiting teacher, should I not share any of her stories about visiting mutual girls in Ghana? Finally, if Elder Eyring lives in the ward that meets in our bulding, and he is the featured speaker in Sacrament Meeting the Sunday before Christmas, should I not share the feelings we felt there when we visited their meeting? All but one of those things are true for me. You guess which one isn’t.

    Just what should I do if I visit you? For sure now, I will keep it all to myself. I can’t help it if those things just happen to me because of where I choose to live.

  108. Renee on July 30, 2004 at 1:00 am

    PF: I’m sure very few would be offended at you sharing one of those experiences when visiting a ward if it was relevent to the discussion. If you shared whichever 4 were true all at once, one might think you were name dropping, regardless of what ward and in what state it was said.

    One needn’t live in Utah to be boorish. I thought that’s been kind of the point – that while we may know several examples from that state (Does this surprise anyone? There’s more Mormons per capita there so it shouldn’t.), they exist everywhere. That’s what’s been said over and over.

  109. obi-wan on July 30, 2004 at 1:08 am

    Dear Pink — You now understand why, whenever the Lord performed a miracle or shared an insight with those around him during his ministry, he “charged them to tell no man.” He doubtless didn’t want them to be branded one of those show-off Galilean Christians when they tried to share it in the next synagogue they visited . . .

    Cherish your experiences. Share them sparingly.

  110. Jordan Fowles on July 30, 2004 at 1:09 am

    Well, to see if Utah Mormon is an appropriate name, let me tell you about an experience my father had with Elder Bruce R. McConkie in an elevator. (Dad and Elder McConkie used to split soup at lunch so he definitely has the inside scoop.) They were talking about how the church was growing outside of Utah, and Elder McConkie told my dad that some day a time would come when members in other places would mock the utah saints for their thorough goodness and willingness to obey.

    I confirmed this story through my friend, who is the great grand nephew of Elder McConkie. I think there is something about this trend in the 10th edition of Mormon Doctrine (which belongs right next to the scriptures on every good latter-day saint’s bookshelf, displayed prominently.)

    There- you might as well have heard it directly from Elder McConkie himself (and you probably would have too, had your father also been righteous enough to be in his company).

  111. Gordon Smith on July 30, 2004 at 1:28 am

    I missed most of the exciting discussion about me above. Ironically, being the the mission field [tic], I was out with the missionaries. I want to make a distinction that seemed to be lost somewhere along the way. Davis Bell wrote: “I think Chris’ point is that even though Gordon is a Mormon, he’s (or was) negatively stereotyping a sub-group of Mormons to which he doesn’t not belong.” I strongly disagree that I was negatively stereotyping Mormons who live in Utah. You do not need to read my post or my comments very closely to observe that I expressly disclaimed such a stereotype as lacking empirical foundation.

    Instead, I suggested that some members of the Church from Utah behave in a manner that is offensive to those of us who live and attend wards outside of Utah. Many others who have commented on this topic seem to have made similar observations. My mistake was in labeling the offenders “Utah Mormons” — a term that might reasonably be understood to suggest that all Mormons from Utah behave in this offensive manner.

    There is a big difference between what I did and negative stereotyping. I was describing people whose behavior I had observed. Stereotyping, on the other hand, involves prejudgment. For example, those who meet a Mormon from Utah and assume that she must be lax in keeping the commandments are stereotyping.

  112. Pink Floyd on July 30, 2004 at 2:05 am

    Renee said: “I’m sure very few would be offended at you sharing one of those experiences when visiting a ward if it was relevent to the discussion.”

    I’m not sure I agree. My wife’s in your RS class on teaching your children to prepare for missions. She starts out “We were once in an elevator in my mom’s apartment building in Salt Lake and in walks President Packer…” As soon as she says that, “Utah Mormon name dropper” label is immediatly applied.

    Obi-wan said: “Dear Pink — You now understand why, whenever the Lord performed a miracle or shared an insight with those around him during his ministry, he “charged them to tell no man.” He doubtless didn’t want them to be branded one of those show-off Galilean Christians when they tried to share it in the next synagogue they visited . . .

    Cherish your experiences. Share them sparingly”

    D&C 6:12: “Trifle not with sacred things.” Really, it makes you not want to share them at all when you visit out of state wards, let alone sparingly. Perhaps that is what is wanted.

  113. Pink Floyd on July 30, 2004 at 2:17 am

    Really, I’m going back to lurking after this.

    Gordon said in his last post:
    “Stereotyping, on the other hand, involves prejudgment.”

    From the “Utah Mormon” side: What do you think when I am asked by your bishop to introduce and tell a little bit about myself in Priesthood opening exercises and I stand up and say: “Hi. I’m Pink Floyd from the Orem 123rd ward where I serve as President of the Second Quorum of Elders in the Ward and I’m visiting with my wife and 4 kids?”

    Any prejudgment go through your mind?

  114. Pink Floyd on July 30, 2004 at 2:24 am

    Really, I don’t say “really” that much really. Just don’t know how to edit here.

    BTW. We go on splits with the missionaries in Utah as well…

  115. Gordon Smith on July 30, 2004 at 2:41 am

    PF: “Any prejudgment go through your mind?”

    I am not sure that you will believe me, but the answer is no. It happens a lot in our ward, and I don’t give it a second thought because most Mormons from Utah do not act in the manner I described.

    Perhaps it isn’t clear, but I have had a lot more exposure to Utah than you seem to think. I graduated from BYU (some say it’s not really Utah, I know, but anyway), and lived in SLC for one year after graduation and before law school. I loved BYU, and loved SLC. My wife is from SLC and we visit often. Utah is one of my favorite places in the world.

  116. Bob Caswell on July 30, 2004 at 2:56 am

    Chris, I see your point. But maybe you can help me understand why you think there’s as little relevancy to being a “Mormon insider” among “Utah Mormons” as there is in being a “human being insider” among blacks.

    I just don’t think it’s a very fair comparison. In one scenario we’re dealing with a fairly tight-knit group that all live and believe similarly (comparatively speaking) where as in another scenario we’re dealing with pretty much the whole world and every difference / lack-of-understanding possible.

  117. Pink Floyd on July 30, 2004 at 2:57 am

    No, actually your bio spelled out quite well your history in Utah.

    Perhaps that is why you are less prone to prejudge Utah visitors. But I don’t think others would be so “un-biased.” That is my experience at least from living 3 years in Hales Corners, near you.

  118. Gordon Smith on July 30, 2004 at 3:00 am

    I want to thank yungmom and Pink Floyd for sharing and respond to thier concerns.

    Yungmom wrote: “Several here are trying to say that it is ok if you have a brief comment, but don’t over do it if you are a visitor from UT. But isn’t it true for people within your home ward too? What does UT or even just being a visitor have to do with it?” It makes a difference to me if the person is a visitor for reasons discussed in the Gospel Doctrine thread. I can understand why people would feel differently about this (Matt, for example, makes some good points up there), but the basic point is that extensive comments by visitors (mostly) detract from the important task of building a ward community whereas extensive comments by ward members are part of that community building experience.

    Here is an image that might be helpful: think of the discussion that happens between ward members in Gospel Doctrine as part of an extended conversation about the Gospel. In stable wards, this conversation might last for years, and that is an important part of the process of binding those ward members to each other. Comments by visitors are like someone interrupting that conversation, then walking away.

    As for why it makes a difference that the person is from Utah, read my response to Pink Floyd’s comment.

    Pink Floyd asks: “Just what should I do if I visit you?” PF, how I wish you were here. (That’s a little Pink Floyd joke, for those who are wondering.)

    Why would you feel tempted to share any of these experiences if you were just visiting my ward? I suspect that each of these experiences (at least the ones that are real) was a testimony-builder for you, and that your motivation in sharing them would be noble — to strengthen our testimonies. Furthermore, I assume that you might even succeed, though I suspect that the result would be different than you imagine.

    Problem #1: we don’t know you. All we know is the stories you are telling, but those stories have no context for us. If you tell us that you witnessed a miracle in the temple with the First Presidency, we have no idea whether you are a credible witness. As a result, the stories have much less meaning to us than to you or those you know more intimately.

    Problem #2: your stories displace the stories of ward members. When ward members speak in testimony meeting or Gospel Doctrine class, there are two benefits: (1) the inherent value of the story (we might learn something about the Gospel), and (2) the value of revealing something of themselves to other ward members, thus strengthening the bonds between members. When visitors speak, that second benefit is absent because they will be gone from our lives in a matter of hours. Are your stories really that much more valuable than those of the ward members? Did you learn things that were essential to your salvation that are unavailable to those of us who live in Wisconsin? Or do you have insights that none of us have had? Bottom line: unless you have something special to add to the ongoing conversation in the ward, the stories look more like name dropping than sincere testimony bearing.

  119. Heather Oman on July 30, 2004 at 3:03 am

    To continue the Jeff Foxworthy theme:

    If you’re neighbor across the street is in a different stake…

    You might be a Utah Mormon.

    If you buy your temple clothing at the mall…

    You might be a Utah Mormon.

    If your father refers to Henry B. Eyring as “Hal”…

    You might be a Utah Mormon.

    If you have ever used the word “fetchin’”…

    You might be a Utah Mormon.

    Any others? :)

    And Jordan, other than my comments above, I don’t think this post is aimed specifically at mocking the people who live in Utah. I think it is more a discussion about what the term “Utah Mormon” means to both the Saints who live in and out of Utah, why it carries such negative connotations, and why we have labeled behaviors that would be distateful in any company with such a name.

    Also, I think sharing about experiences with the bigger names in Mormondom can be a very powerful and faith promoting thing. The problem comes when we play the game of topper with the name dropping’

    “Hey, President B. Hinckley greeted MY grandmother by name at conference,”

    “Oh yeah? President Hinckley spoke at MY friend’s mother’s funeral.”

    “Oh yeah? Well, I dated President Hinckley’s grandson!”

    Are these experiences powerful and good experiences? Of course. Are they indicators of personal righteousness? No. The really annoying part comes when people talk about the experiences as if they exactly that.

  120. Pink Floyd on July 30, 2004 at 3:18 am

    Gordon said: “Why would you feel tempted to share any of these experiences if you were just visiting my ward?”

    I won’t be any more. That is the point.

    However, I would love to hear your experiences in Wisconsin hometeaching families that are 30 miles apart. Having kids that are the only Mormons in their High Schools, and how they deal with Church social issues. Plese don’t stop sharing them when you visit me.

    “You know that I care what happens to you,
    And I know that you care for me,
    So I don’t feel alone,
    Or the weight of the stone,
    Now that I’ve found somewhere safe
    To bury my bone.
    And any fool knows a dog needs a home,
    A shelter from pigs on the wing.”

    -Pink Floyd “Animals” Pigs on the Wing (Part Two)

    Peace, out.

  121. Heather Oman on July 30, 2004 at 3:25 am

    Oops–sorry about all of the typos above. I’m up WAY past my bedtime.

  122. Jordan Fowles on July 30, 2004 at 9:32 am

    And Jordan, other than my comments above, I don’t think this post is aimed specifically at mocking the people who live in Utah. I think it is more a discussion about what the term “Utah Mormon” means to both the Saints who live in and out of Utah, why it carries such negative connotations, and why we have labeled behaviors that would be distateful in any company with such a name.

    Thanks, Heather. I understand.

    And in case anyone was wondering, my dad doesn’t really know Elder McConkie…

  123. john fowles on July 30, 2004 at 9:41 am

    Jordan, hilarious post above! I can’t believe you cooked that up instead of catching up on your projects.

  124. john fowles on July 30, 2004 at 9:46 am

    By the way, I don’t think anyone got the joke.

  125. Chris Grant on July 30, 2004 at 10:47 am

    It’s curious to me that some of the people who are talking so much about the ward members forming a “family” (from which visitors are excluded) are the same people who seemed to be delighting in “testimony bingo” a few threads back. Is it the case that every family (including a ward “family”) is incomplete without a member (perhaps an older brother) whose job it is to ridicule the other members of the family?

  126. Chris Grant on July 30, 2004 at 10:58 am

    Bob: Jim F. brought up the distinction between insiders and outsiders. When it comes to stereotypes, that distinction is almost exclusively used to distinguish between those inside and those outside the group being stereotyped. Being a member of some universal set of discourse that includes the group being stereotyped usually doesn’t grant one insider status. This conversation could have been conducted almost identically to the way it has been conducted if non-Mormons didn’t even exist, so Gordon’s status as a Mormon doesn’t seem that relevant. Well, what about the fact that Gordon has associated closely with many Mormons from Utah? A huge number of whites in the South (including a large number of bigots) have associated closely with many black Americans; does that grant those whites insider status when it comes to stereotyping of blacks?

  127. Davis Bell on July 30, 2004 at 11:12 am

    Gordon,

    I think we pretty much agree. My only issue came with your choice to label obnoxious know-it-alls as “Utah Mormons” rather than “Obnoxious-Know-It-All-Mormons,” which you have since recanted.

  128. Taylor on July 30, 2004 at 11:17 am

    Can I share a great Utah Mormon vs. Cambridge MA Mormon story?

    Last week in the Cambridge ward the GD teacher was late because of the DNC in Boston. No one knew where he was so a visitor from UT raised his hand and said that he was the GD teacher in Such-and-Such a ward in SLC and just taught the same lesson last week in his ward, and if they would mind if he taught it here.
    He started teaching and pulling out all the Nibley explanation for this and that. I imagine he was feeling pretty pround of himself.
    After about 15 minutes the real teacher showed up (Sam, for anyone who knows…). Now, Sam hadn’t heard what this guy was saying, but proceeded to quote Nibley and then explain why Nibley was all wrong. The guy didn’t say a word because it was clear that Sam knew 10X more. He just sort of sat sheepishly for the rest of the lesson!

  129. Bob Caswell on July 30, 2004 at 11:35 am

    “Being a member of some universal set of discourse that includes the group being stereotyped usually doesn’t grant one insider status.”

    I can agree that “insider” may not be the best word… But I disagree that Gordon’s status as a Mormon “doesn’t seem that relevant” because you seem to assume that Gordon “associating closely” with Utah Mormons has the same relevancy as white southern bigots associating with blacks. This is a huge stretch in mind. After reading Gordon’s post, I thought he used some of his “inside” information to pose a question tastefully and tactfully. That’s a far cry from the way white bigots associate with blacks. I don’t think you mean to disrespect Gordon, but your implications that Mormon (aka Gordon) talking about Utah Mormon is the same or very similar to white bigot talking about blacks could come across as a little rude.

  130. Chris Grant on July 30, 2004 at 11:58 am

    Bob: I’m not arguing that Gordon is not tasteful and tactful. I’m not arguing that he’s a bigot (or, for that matter, that he lives in the South). I’m simply arguing that he doesn’t have insider status on this issue.

  131. Bob Caswell on July 30, 2004 at 12:06 pm

    Ok, Chris, I think we’re coming close to resolving this. We may part ways on our definition of “insider status” and that may not be worth figuring out. But I’m glad to see you clarify that by comparing Gordon talking about Utah Mormons to southern white bigots talking about blacks, you meant no harm.

  132. john fowles on July 30, 2004 at 12:11 pm

    I am with Davis Bell when he wrote My only issue came with your choice to label obnoxious know-it-alls as “Utah Mormons” rather than “Obnoxious-Know-It-All-Mormons,” which you have since recanted. That is exactly what I was driving at in my numerous posts. I hope people understood me accordingly.

    Also, when I mentioned a “lightning strike realization” that prompted reactions of disbelief from Bob C. and Kaimi, what I meant was that I had always been under the impression that Sunday School teachers were hard-up for anyone to comment in their classes and that they were relieved at any comment, just as long as someone (even if a visitor) was actually responding to their lesson. I realize that might not be a problem in some wards where various members are willing to speak up in class and make their opinions known. Other wards, though (and it seems to me that these outnumber the former), have come across as having the apathetic Sunday School classes where a teacher drones the whole time. At least that had been my impression. Now I see that it is very likely that even in those dead and dull Sunday School classes people are merely rolling their eyes when someone voices their thoughts, especially if they are visiting from Utah. (Perhaps moreso in those kinds of Sunday School classes because presumably there is a reason that no one is participating in the class; perhaps it is indicative of a culture of such vibes that runs deep in the ward.) Of course I agree with Kaimi that in every situation there will be people who don’t like what you say. But it was more the chilling effect that I was concerned with.

  133. JWL on July 30, 2004 at 12:19 pm

    Just for the record, here in NYC, we welcome, no, indeed we embrace, all of the testimonies and Sunday School comments of our many visitors from Utah with all of the humility, gentility, and politesse for which New Yorkers are world-renowned. It just comes naturally from living at the center of the universe and the throne of God, but I do urge other Saints living beyond the shadows of the everlasting Rockies to strive to the same beneficent attitude. I mean, like, let’s have some charity here. If it’s that annoying to have a “Utah” Mormon in your ward once in a while, imagine what it must be like to be surrounded by them all of the time for your whole life?!?!?!

  134. Bob Caswell on July 30, 2004 at 12:35 pm

    Chris, I think I’ve just come to the realization of something that’s quite interesting. When I said, “I’m glad to see you clarify that…you meant no harm”, it dawned on me that my issues with your comments are nearly the same as others’ issues with Gordon’s post. Some didn’t like the way Gordon stereotyped, and Gordon repeatedly tried to emphasis that he “meant no harm”. Ironically, in voicing your concerns, you pretty much stereotyped the way Gordon stereotypes by throwing this in the same boat with anything about Jews or blacks. So we’ve come full circle now. You had issues with Gordon stereotyping, and I had issues with you stereotyping. But since neither of you meant any harm, maybe we can all lay this to rest.

    What have we (at least I) learned from all this? Any type of stereotyping weakens the original point of whatever was trying to be said.

  135. yungmom on July 30, 2004 at 1:32 pm

    Gordon:
    Problem #2: your stories displace the stories of ward members. When ward members speak in testimony meeting or Gospel Doctrine class, there are two benefits: (1) the inherent value of the story (we might learn something about the Gospel), … Are your stories really that much more valuable than those of the ward members?

    ————–

    It is not more valuable, but it can be as valuable especially if the Spirit is prompting you to speak. I’m glad one sister understood this a few months back when I needed to hear what she said.

    ——–
    Gordon: the value of revealing something of themselves to other ward members, thus strengthening the bonds between members. When visitors speak, that second benefit is absent because they will be gone from our lives in a matter of hours.

    ——-
    When I went to Memphis some 20 years ago the ward opened their arms to us even though they knew we were just visiting and would never be there again. I’m so glad that they were not just thinking of themselves. You see my brother was very much struggling and I think that small experience there has helped him to not go completely under. They invited us to a fireside and the youth activity that week. My brother later commented on how wonderful it was because they valued what he had to say.

    We didn’t know at the time that 6 years later my dad would be transferred there and some of us would even be in the same ward. It was like coming home because we already knew the people were happy to have us there.

    My brother didn’t move with my family since he had became an alcholic and a drug addict and later to prison. When he first started to come out of all the blackness where did he turn? He headed for that warm feeling he got in Memphis, even though my parents no longer lived there.

    The people there that welcomed us knew the importance of community. Everyone is constantly trying to get together. But they also understood that the importance of the ward community was no greater than the of the church community or the of the earthly community (or lessser).

    But what I will be always grateful for is that they understood the importance of the lost sheep. No, I don’t think that most knew he was losing his way at the time, but they lived the idea that we should gather ALL the sheep so they don’t get lost.

  136. Restoring Lost Comments on November 25, 2004 at 9:28 pm

    [Restoring Comments Inadvertently Lost in the WP transfer] :

    Jordan and JWL — hilarious.
    Some have mentioned that Internet communication makes it difficult to express tone (which make all the difference in a conversation) — but I say that this is a good thing — it makes it easier to do deadpan humor.
    Comment by: William Morris at July 30, 2004 02:38 PM

    *****

    The one time I travelled east (to New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont), I heard people attack Utah mormons in each of the meetings I went to. Example: A teacher was giving a lesson about church history and he said to me “Now I know that all of you in Utah think that church history only started after 1847, but I think I can prove you wrong.” He knew I was from Utah because the visitors had been asked to state where they were from, so I did. His comment saddened me, and certainly made the class a less pleasant experience for me. I did not comment.
    For some reason, I think that people like to label or separate others from themselves, so that they can always know that they are least better than them. “I may have such and such problem, but at least I’m not as self-righteous as those Utah-mormons!” Well, yes members of the church who live in Utah have all sorts of struggles, just like people everywhere else. Give us a break. When my family moved here from Arizona when I was fifteen, I was amazed at the kindness and generosity of the ward. There are many REALLY great people here who are trying to do what’s right, just like there are in other states. Let’s hope that the day doesn’t come that the prejudice has reached the point that the “Parable of the Utah-mormon” needs to be told to people back east. That is, someone as terrible and despicable as a Utah mormon actually helped someone who was in need.
    Final point–One positive thing that I can say about ALL of the meetings I have attended in Utah is that I have never seen non-Utah mormons spoken of derisively.
    Comment by: Dave at July 30, 2004 10:51 PM

    *****

    Dave: great post.
    This brings me back to something I brought up but got no reaction to in some of my earlier posts. Could some kind of bizarre inferiority complex be contributing to the amount of Utah Mormon stereotyping that goes on outside of Utah?
    Comment by: john fowles at July 31, 2004 12:10 AM

    *****

    “Could some kind of bizarre inferiority complex be contributing to the amount of Utah Mormon stereotyping that goes on outside of Utah?”
    I doubt it…
    Of course, I live outside of Utah.
    But wait, I grew up in Utah.
    What am I? Who am I? Why am I here?
    Comment by: Nate Oman at July 31, 2004 12:34 AM

    *****

    And where are you going?
    Comment by: yungmom at July 31, 2004 12:39 AM

    *****

    Nate, I don’t think you can dismiss it that easily by just saying you doubt it. I think there might be something to it. I’m not saying that it is a rational or justifiable inferiority complex. To the contrary. And I don’t mean to be insulting to anyone who has taken the position that such a thing as a “Utah Mormon” exists, outside of merely refering to a Mormon from Utah. That’s not what I am trying to do in asking this question at all.
    I mean it seriously: could there be some subconscious feelings of inferiority that contribute to using the term “Utah Mormon” to refer to someone whose defining attribute is not the fact that they are from Utah but rather the annoying behavior they demonstrate while visiting in a Sunday School class. I mean, if people had simply labeled such a person, as Davis has pointed out above, an “Obnoxious-Know-It-All Mormon,” then I would never have raised this question of whether a latent inferiority complex might exist. But instead, when such a person speaks up as a visitor in a Sunday School class, Gordon, and many others, think “Utah Mormon” to themselves, and not the other epithet.
    It has been pointed out that the reason “Utah Mormon” pops into their heads in that moment is that because there are so many Latter-day Saints in Utah, it is just a matter of statistics that when one shows up in the ward and then annoys the Sunday School class, that the person is more often from Utah than anywhere else. And yet in the same breath it is conceded that this hypothetical “Utah Mormon” can actually be from anywhere. It is their characteristics that define them, assures Gordon, and not the fact that they are literally from Utah. I am just suggesting that maybe the reason for calling these individuals “Utah Mormons,” even though it is admitted that they can be from anywhere, might have deeper roots than mere statistics.
    Comment by: john fowles at July 31, 2004 01:55 AM

    *****

    John: “Could some kind of bizarre inferiority complex be contributing to the amount of Utah Mormon stereotyping that goes on outside of Utah?”
    I used to wonder the same thing about people outside of the United States who spoke negatively about my homeland. After spending much more time with people outside of the U.S., I recognize that they (usually) do not feel inferior, even if they admire the U.S. in some ways. For many feelings of annoyance or hostility stem from the cultural hegemony of the U.S. This would be true even without the recent feelings of resentment engendered by the Iraq War.
    Perhaps we have a similar phenomenon in the Church. While this was not part of my original post, I wonder if some negative feelings towards Utah emanate from the fact that General Conference talks, Church curricula, Church policies, talks by visiting GAs, etc. often have a transparently Utah perspective.
    Comment by: Gordon Smith at July 31, 2004 11:57 AM

    *****

    I’m a little late to the party–okay, a lot late, but hey, I’m at the beach. I can’t resist the temptation, so a couple of thoughts.
    I don’t know that “Utah Mormons,” as Gordon defines them, are really all that different from “gunners” in law school, except, of course, that you have to put up with gunners for three long years while visiting Utah Mormons typically leave after three hours. (Anyone interested in putting together the “Gunner Mormon” bingo card for fast and testimony meeting? Better hurry; we’re only hours away. ;) )
    Perhaps naming these folks “Gunner Mormons” rather than “Utah Mormons” would have averted some of the outcry. I have to disagree with John, however, that Gordon could simply have called these folks “Obnoxious-Know-It-All Mormons.” Nate has already assigned that handy definition to “Liberal Mormons.” http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000620.html#more (I’m sure all of you who have been up in arms here about Gordon’s terminology were similarly distraught over Nate’s effort.)
    Comment by: Randy at August 1, 2004 02:19 AM

    *****

    I grew up in southeastern Idaho, which is hardly non-Mormon. More people in our ward than on the sign at the border of the village I grew up in–population 350. Still, my first experience with a Salt Lake City ward was traumatic. Here’s why I think that was true. We lived in a two-bedroom brick house at about 15th east and 20 south (the house we lived in by the way when Nate was born). The ward took in just a few square blocks. It was the homogeneity of that ward that I found traumatic. Such a narrow slice of life. It was the first time I felt pressure to iron my kids play clothes. My little village took in everyone. And between that village and SLC, I had been in university ward–a slice, but a somewhat mixed up, messy, and diverse slice. I was relieved to move to a central city ward near Liberty Park. I liked the “utah” church much better there.
    Comment by: Susan at August 1, 2004 02:21 AM

    *****

    What is interesting is that on averages, I suspect that Mormon congregations are more likely than many other churches to take in a slice of society, rather than a single socio-economic group. This is because the wards are geographic and generally speaking they are large enough to take in a slice of different neighborhoods. Add to this fact that missionary work is more successful among the poor than the rich and you get fairly diverse congregations. At least that has been my experience in Little Rock and to a lesser extent in Cambridge. In Utah the sheer number of Mormons geographically constricts wards and leads to socio-economic homogeneity. The same is true, I suspect, with areas that have lots of Mormons and geographically extensive areas with homogenous income levels, e.g. huge middle class and upper-middle class suburbs around Washington DC or Los Angles.
    In contrast, my friends in Little Rock who go to church speak quite frankly about congregation shopping. Because people have greater ability to self-select into regular protestant congregations, I suspect that they tend to be more homogeneous socio-economically than are most Mormon wards.
    Thanks for ironing my play clothes Mom. I have to confess that we don’t iron Jacobs clothes are unlikely to start doing so.
    Comment by: Nate Oman at August 1, 2004 02:42 AM

    *****

    Susan, I just don’t understand the aversion to homogeneity. I have read your comments before about how that ward near 15th and 20th was repulsive to you, with most members there at the same socio-economic level and in the same professions. I still can’t figure out why that would necessarily be something negative in and of itself. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to accomplish anything to criticize the ward for the fact that the neighborhood it encompassed was homogeneous. It seems like placing blame and criticism where it is not due. So there was a high percentage of people in the same station of life who were all members and therefore the ward boundary was small and the result was homogeneous. What’s the big deal?
    What type of solution would you have in mind for a ward like that? Busing families in from a different neighborhood to assure diversity?
    Comment by: john fowles at August 1, 2004 02:51 AM

    *****

    Jim, That first bit about the condescension of “mission field Mormons” was priceless. I can easily imagine that happening.
    The first time I heard some Wasatch Affront visitor to my Minnesota ward use that term with a perfectly straight face, I was reduced to helpless sputtering. Laugh or cry? Scoff of scream? Electrocution or strangulation?
    Comment by: Grey Ghost at August 2, 2004 11:01 AM

    *****

    Gordon:Perhaps we have a similar phenomenon in the Church. While this was not part of my original post, I wonder if some negative feelings towards Utah emanate from the fact that General Conference talks, Church curricula, Church policies, talks by visiting GAs, etc. often have a transparently Utah perspective.
    Just as long as you recognize that the handbook is written for those outside of UT. LOL When I was the Meetinghouse Librarian I was talking to the Stake Librarian. She was ranting about how some people think the rules are only for other people. Not 10 minutes later when I mentioned what the handbook said about something she told me we don’t need to worry too much about what the handbook says because it is written more for those outside of UT. I had a hard time not laughing out loud when she said that.
    Nate – I think you might have something there. In a ward in Louisiana it took us an hour to drive from one side to the other. It takes me about 5 minutes to walk one direction and 10 to walk the other in my ward here.
    Comment by: yungmom at August 2, 2004 01:31 PM

    *****

    One major difference I noticed between Utah wards and non-Utah wards is that the youth in Utah wards/stakes tend to share the same lives whereas those in non-Utah wards have their ward/stake lives separated from their educational lives and friends. This is a generalization and I’m sure it can be picked apart, but this is what I mean.
    If you’re an LDS teenager in Utah, you go to church with the same people you go to high school with. That means that there’s a good chance a decent percentage of your friends will be part of the same ward or stake. Extra-curricular church activities tend to compound and cement the possibility that LDS youth will have LDS friends.
    LDS youth outside of Utah may very well attend an an entirely different school than their church friends. So they’re more likely to end up having pools of church and non-Church friends.
    I’m not sure how this effects adults exactly, except that I know parents are often involved in the lives of their children (by attending school activities, sports activities, etc.). The parents of mutual friends in high school will probably at least become acquainted with each other at some point.
    Besides that, Utah Mormon adults might have their entire social lives taken over by Church activities and so their friendships and extra-curricular activities are largely Church-based. Non-Utah Mormons have a different experience and may rely less on the Church for their extracurricular activities.
    So what happens when a non-Utah Mormon moves to Utah? They might feel less sucked-in by the ward so to speak … they might have more autonomy in relation to building friendships with non-LDS people because they previously hadn’t depended as much on a ward/stake for their friendships and extra-curricular activities.
    One result of this could be that Utah Mormons might find non-Utah Mormons who suddenly move into the ward to be sort of snobbish or too independent of the ward. I don’t know if this is entirely true… it’s just a little theory I have from comments I’ve overheard.
    Comment by: danithew at August 2, 2004 01:51 PM

    *****

    Danithew: Extra-curricular church activities tend to compound and cement the possibility that LDS youth will have LDS friends.
    This is true but there is also a flip side: in Utah, the kids that are picked on by their peers at school have to face the same treatment even at Church precisely because the exact same people that they go to school with are also their peers in their wards.
    It seems that outside of Utah, Arizona, or Idaho, the people that get picked on at school might find some rest or acceptance in their ward. Sure they might still get picked on at Church a little bit, especially if a few of the people in their same school are also in their ward, but since kids from other schools are also in the ward, there is more of a chance for the picked on kids to escape their stigma in their Church social circles.
    Comment by: john fowles at August 2, 2004 02:30 PM

    *****

    True… whatever reputation you have at school or whatever treatment you have, might follow you into the ward or vice-versa.
    I’m not sure if this is really a different topic or not. If it’s a thread hijack, then my apologies. I was trying to figure out what real differences exist between the lives/personalities of Utah(Arizona/Idaho) mormons and non-Utah Mormons.
    Comment by: danithew at August 2, 2004 02:47 PM

    *****

    Something even weirder to contemplate, while I’ve known several LDS people from Omaha who moved to UT/AZ/ID, the last batch of people I knew to move out were all lesbians (not lds). Utah was a bit of culture shock on trips for me just because all things LDS are pervasive everywhere you turn. I can’t imagine what that’s like for a non-member let alone one in a subgroup that feels marginalized in other places, let alone such a heavily religious state.
    Comment by: Renee at August 2, 2004 03:36 PM

    *****

    Renee,
    I’ve heard many times that SLC has a famously happening lesbian scene. I can’t verify that that’s true, or explain why it is. Interestingly, I don’t think the same is true of the scene for gay men.
    Comment by: Davis Bell at August 2, 2004 04:11 PM

    *****

    Apparently I am about to become a Utah Mormon of the worst sort.
    This Sunday is my first Sunday in my parent’s ward (where I am pretty much a stranger, since I did not grow up in this ward). The Gospel Doctrine teacher, who will be out of town this Sunday and was desperately looking for a replacement (and not having much luck) called and asked me to teach for him.
    Before I thought out the ramifications of how all the members in the ward would judge me as a Utah Mormon for not only making a comment but actually having the audacity to teach the class in a ward where I am not a member of the community, I said yes. I should have remembered this thread and said no.
    Maybe I will say I’m from Utah, just to make them dislike me more. Maybe I will even quote from McConkie.
    At any rate, no matter what I do, part of me is going to be looking at them and wondering which ones are looking at me and thinking I am an annoying “Utah Mormon” and wishing I would just shut up. Such feeling do, I must admit, make it more difficult for me to prepare to teach a lesson which, quite frankly, I already feel terrified of teaching.
    I am such a Utah Mormon.
    Comment by: Jordan Fowles at August 6, 2004 12:33 PM

    *****

    I have to comment, having just moved to Utah from NY. I have to say I was surprised at how many of the “Born and Raised” UT mormons in my NY ward had offered words of caution and dislike for UT in general. Basically most said the members are different, but ironically they are the ones whom create the “cliks” in the ward. They are the ones who are hold the leadership positions. I have not given any heed to their admonitions. I feel if someone is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ they will be the same all over the world. I even met some in my new “Utah Mormon” ward :)
    Comment by: William Voll at August 20, 2004 09:05 PM

    *****

    I have to comment, having just moved to Utah from NY. I have to say I was surprised at how many of the “Born and Raised” UT mormons in my NY ward had offered words of caution and dislike for UT in general. Basically most said the members are different, but ironically they are the ones whom create the “cliks” in the ward. They are the ones who are hold the leadership positions. I have not given any heed to their admonitions. I feel if someone is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ they will be the same all over the world. I even met some in my new “Utah Mormon” ward :)
    Comment by: William Voll at August 20, 2004 09:27 PM

    *****

    Wow, I’ve got to hand it to you. Some of the people who’ve posted comments are really funny–on both sides of the “Utah Mormon” divide. Anyway, here’s my two cents:
    I can see why some have strong feelings about “Utah Mormons.” It’s almost an issue of betrayal. I generally have high expectations of Church members when it comes to just about everything. We’re the ones with the Truth, right? And I can’t honestly argue that Mormomism in Utah hasn’t developed a number of peculiar, if not truly obnoxious, characteristics.
    That said — sheesh, I really don’t want to get preachy, but Alma 34:40 is so spot on, here. I was virtually busted over the head with it one evening after I had been guilty of some first-rate reviling. “And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; that ye do not revile against those who do cast you out because of your exceeding poverty, lest ye become sinners like unto them.” Glean from it what you will.
    Comment by: John Jensen at August 22, 2004 01:36 AM

    *****

  137. brian on December 5, 2004 at 1:12 am

    I am starting a band with my friends we want to record some heavy metal church songs. we are looking for term that refers to “lax” Utah Mormons but not something like “jack Mormon” that signifies that we are disobedient or that we diligently break the commandments. If any you have a good term to discribe us please send me an email at toeonlybuttboy@gmail.com

  138. Jack on December 5, 2004 at 5:00 pm

    brian, I guess the name “Gadiaton and the Secret Combinations” is out then?

  139. Brian on December 6, 2004 at 9:41 pm

    yes we want to the other type of utah mormans to let there kids listen to us

  140. Brain on December 15, 2004 at 8:23 pm

    does any one have a gooed teerm for the “lax mormons”?

  141. Patti Kuehl on December 19, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    i lived in slc, ut for 4 yrs and i found it to be the worst place. The people were rude and soooooo—– unfriendly, and so robotic, damn get over yourselves, its ok to be natural. Your human not a machine. Forget the Joe smith and focus on the real Jesus. Your all brainwashed and you know it!!!

  142. Jack on December 19, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    “The people were rude and soooooo—– unfriendly…”

    Patti, obviously you live in SLC.

    (Admin, if you delete comment 141 delete this one too, will ya)

  143. Chrissy on January 2, 2005 at 2:33 am

    I find this topic, which I just happened upon, to be very funny as we just finished watching the Utah football team win their bowl game. My boyfriend asked me (since I love to study religion) if all the Utah students were Mormons like BYU. I said, “Probably not – just look at their stomachs showing under the Utah cheerleaders half shirts and spaghetti straps on the tops.” To which he replied ” They must be Mormons from some place other than Utah”…

  144. John on January 12, 2005 at 6:42 pm

    How about “Deseret Mormons” instead of Utah Mormons? The Mormon Culture Region has been defined pretty well by types like Meinig and Bennion, as well as its 1940′s version described by Wallace Stegner in his classic “Mormon Country.” How about a thread on Mormon ethnicity? I think it’s a fascinating topic. For a poignant ethnic Mormon portrayal by an ethnic Mormon, watch Wilford Brimley’s performance in “Brigham City.” Here’s some Utah Mormon name dropping: I know Wilford’s nephew from when I was a BYU student. Mr. Quaker Oats has always appeared a little differently to me since I’ve heard the family stories…

  145. pellidude on October 28, 2005 at 9:22 pm

    Just a thought. I grew up on a Church farm in Oregon. I thought I had to fight for my religion because there were so many Catholics and Protestants and only one Latter-day Saint (me). After my mission to Salt Lake City where I was loved and everyone was so kind to me, I moved to Washington DC. The LDS culture there was the same as in Oregon which is a small knit group of Saints who took care of eachother and invited new people in with open arms.
    Well this year I moved back to Salt Lake City to go to school and well, I had never felt so alone and unwanted. I went out of my way to make friends, but it seems as though Utah-mormons are a huge clique that you have to be a certain way or fit in to be one of them and if you aren’t, you aren’t welcome. It hurt so bad, that after four long, painful months I moved to Arizona where things have not gotten a whole lot better. I really don’t know what to do about this Clique thing, but it really stinks.

    Anyway, just a thought or two.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.