Friday, August 6, 2010

Leave Utah Alone

This is not a spiritually uplifting post. This is a rant.

I wish all you non-Utahns, especially, would quit knocking Utah like you know something about it. I grew up in the military. I've lived tons of places, mostly outside of Utah.

And I can testify right here and now that, while Utah culture has its quirks, they are no worse or better than any other place. So leave it alone, already!



  1. Thank you, Silver Rain. Really, truly, *thank you*.

  2. *shrug*
    I lived in Utah for a year - last year, actually. I found it both more wonderful and more horrifying than I had imagined it would be.

    Eventually found my way to a really nice ward in Logan. As good as any ward I've been in. And Cache Valley IS beautiful, if desperately too cold and hot.

    There are any number of Mormon quirks that I _personally_ find annoying, and those are foregrounded due to the prevalence of Mormons. But your mileage may vary, obviously. :)

    I actually really love being in Salt Lake. My folks live right behind the Conference Center, and having them there has been great for me over the last five years, or so. UNtil I actually moved to Utah, I hadn't missed a General Conference in three years. If there was an ocean anywhere nearby - or oxygen in your air (elevation) - I could see enjoying living in Salt Lake. A lot of what I love about Mormons is foregrounded there, as well. ~

  3. But that's just it, Thomas. I challenge anyone to find some "horrifying" quirk in Utah that is NOT just a factor of humans of like mind being lumped together. I've found exactly the same flavor of "horrors" within military circles, in the South (which trumps ANYthing I've seen in Utah, hands down), in Germans and Brits. I've even (*gasp* perish the thought) seen similar and worse "horrors" in online communities.

    They are not Mormon problems. They are human problems.

  4. Thanks, Ardis. *g* I think I just got fed up.

  5. To be fair, one should also ask the Utah transplants to stop complaining about how things are where they live, and stop referring to Utah as "Zion" or "the heart of the church."

    If outsiders have a negative impression, it is often from the relentless whining about early morning seminary being "just too much," and food storage being impossible because of the lack of basements and clumping of sugar due to humidity, and how "sad" it is that people have to drop their missionaries off at the airport instead of taking them to the MTC, and so on.

    I especially hate it when Utahns feel sorry for us because we don't have the same church experience. How condescending is that? (I feel sorry for Utahns who have never been to a ward shrimp boil.)

  6. "They are not Mormon problems. They are human problems."

    Hm. Think this might be a little bit throwing us off the scent, though. It isn't the general that is troublesome, for me, it is the specific. They are human problems all infused with Mormon ... stuff. That stuff is central to me in a way that similar terrain on some other culture's map can't be.

    A couple years back we had a 70 in Stake Conference who referred to us 'in the mission field.' (In the Puget Sound, not the Congo!!) I was only irritated for the briefest moment, but for that moment I was irritated. Because, I suppose, that it highlights the fact that we are not at the heart of the Empire, and at such a remove are perhaps not aware of the goings on in the Capital City.

    Anyway, it certainly isn't a big deal.

  7. I'm with Ardis. Thank you. The crazy part is although I live in Utah, I'm not even from here!

  8. In all the years I've lived and traveled outside of Utah, I don't recall ever hearing anyone say "That's the way we do it in Utah" or anything like it. That doesn't mean others don't say that, but I've never heard, *and I am sure I have never SAID it.* It's been decades since I've heard any of my Utah ward members refer to "the mission field" -- that's a term we hear only when you whiners are whining.

    Yet it seems that nearly everybody in the church outside of Utah thinks and speaks as though he or she is an expert on Utah, even when the Utah experience is limited to time in the MTC or BYU or visiting grandma. You all seem just fine with trash talking Utah and those of us who live here, as evidenced by this and countless other 'nacle threads.

    Stop. Just stop. I don't talk about how stupid Illinois Mormons are for electing corrupt governors, or how New York Mormon financiers are responsible for the economic collapse, or how casual Florida Mormons are with modesty, or make any other rude judgments based on your residence -- if I even know where you live, which is seldom the case. Whenever you bad-mouth Utah and Utahns and talk about us as though we were peas in a pod, you look foolish and cheap and mean-spirited and stupid and bigoted and @$$holish. And I mean *you*, Naismith.

  9. Ardis, for the record, I have personally heard "the mission field" used a number of times in my 10 years in Utah and not just from the older crowd.

    And I think the screed about "whiners" from outside Utah has to be about as overblown as the criticims of "Utah" Mormons are supposed to be.

  10. Ha, Naismith, I've taken to calling Utah the "Consolation Zion" when others have referred to it as Zion (which is not that often, but often enough that I have taken to formulating a response).

    And Ardis, it's not so much that some people use the words "this is how we do it in Utah." I've personally not heard those exact words that I can remember, but that type of sentiment I have felt and it comes across (when it is manifest, which is, of course, not all the time) without those exact words. And it comes across in a variety of situations, not just in modeling behavior as that phrase seems to suggest. I submit that it's a voice that is more easily heard if one is actually from outside of Utah.

    It also gets pretty grading when you get rather thoughtless things like a post over on Mormon Matters during Pioneer Week referring to the Church outside of Utah as being "in Diaspora." I think this is the type of insensitive malarky that fuels this anti-Utah sentiment.

    Whether deserved or not (and I actually rather think that most of it is not deserved), as the Church expands outside of Utah and as people begin to feel more assertive of their native/local Church history and culture, I think this type of sentiment will increase for a time before evening back out. The pendulum is swinging. It's been at one end and now it's moving toward another, but you really have to hit both extremes before finding the balance in the middle.

    Bear it with grace, Utahns.

  11. Hmm, Los Angeles; Denver; Wisconsin; Newfoundland; Paris AFB, Texas; Anchorage; Las Vegas; Idaho; Provo; Germany; various places in New York; Edwards AFB; East Los Angeles; Provo again; Wichita Falls; Plano; North Plano (a whole new world).

    I've moved a lot too, both with my parents in the Air Force and since. Utah isn't so bad, much the same as everywhere else.

    But people attacking your home can get old fast.

  12. I have to admit, I have heard "the mission field" and "Zion" used, but I live in a very . . . shall we say genetically limited? . . . albeit reasonably friendly ward.

    I agree it shouldn't be used. I think that's a little different, though, because it is done out of ignorance, not vitriol.

    As for the Mormon "stuff", Thomas, that is no different than the Iowa "stuff" or the Florida "stuff" or the Nebraska "stuff" or the Catholic "stuff" or the Northeastern "stuff" or the German "stuff" or . . . you get the point. All that is is flavor on the ethnocentrism. The only difference, perhaps, is that it annoys you more because you don't look at it with the same level of amused detachment. Referring to extra-Utah LDS life as "in the mission field" is a relatively harmless, though unconsciously egocentric comment. All you have to do is make it conscious for them. Just repeat it back with a wry eyebrow lift, and they'll generally stop saying it themselves.

    I'm not from Utah, either, despite having lived here for far too many years. For one, I've still not figured out how to find a good fire pit in the mountains, and I keep getting "Lindon" and "Layton" mixed up. I just found out the other day that Moab is in the east, not the west. I thought it was by the gambling city. :D

  13. "I think that's a little different, though, because it is done out of ignorance, not vitriol."

    Silver Rain, I think most would agree that the acts and attitudes that "Utah Mormons" receive criticism for come from ignorance and thoughtlessness, and maybe some amount of pride and self-centeredness, but not outright desire to offend...but I think it's precisely that which the "critics" are decrying. So, IMO, I think you are mistaken if you think that the critics (generally speaking) are condemning some overt vitriol on the part of Utahns.

    But even so, ignorance and thoughtlessness does not necessarily insulate one from committing acts whose results are vitriolic, even violent (in a figurative as well as a literal sense).

    So, I don't see that distinction as being as different as you may.

  14. Most people probably agree with you. We are a nation quite disposed to taking offense where none is intended.

  15. I clearly hang with a better class of people than you do, Jared T., because I don't hear my friends and neighbors paying you-all half as much attention as you seem to devote to us.

    But no matter how often you hear those remarks, or worse, it's still boorish to tar us all because of the foolish behavior of some. It's also asinine and condescending to instruct us to "bear it with grace." We might be saintly for turning the other cheek, but what does it make YOU when you're the one slapping?


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