Sticking Up for Utah

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Phew! I knew this topic might generate some good comments, but I was not expecting 5,807 words within 48 hours. That number is not an exaggeration, I did the word count in MS Word. So after reading through a list of comments that rivals the length of a Dostoevsky novel, here are a few of the main themes thus far:

-Most people recognize that Utahans are regular, normal, good people who generally live the gospel, though you will always have a few who do not in a sample size that large.
-Many people have no ill will toward Utah or Utahans, they would simply prefer to live elsewhere.
-A small number of people have very negative perceptions of Utahans and went as far as calling them judgmental, hypocritical, and vain. (Ouch!)
-Several commenters have noted that the people who have labeled Utahans as "judgmental" and "hypocritical" are coming across as...well...pretty judgmental and hypocritical. (It is hard to call somebody judgmental without sounding judgmental. Did that make me sound judgmental? If you said, "yes", please stop being so judgmental.)

As I said in my original post on this topic, I have never really understood why there are some people who lived in Utah and had so many negative experiences with church members. I do not doubt that these experiences were real for the people who lived them. The majority of people who tend to disparage "Utah Mormons", as they see it, are not born-and-bred Utahans. Most of them lived in the state for a few years during college or a for a short job stint and then left for other, more exciting places. You know, like Missouri or Wyoming. While some of the anti-Utahan comments left me with a bad taste in my mouth, the discussion shed light on why a small number of people disliked living among the Saints in Utah. It all comes down to one word:

Expectations.

Several of the people who were critical of Utah used phrases like, "...and I expected great things...", "...my expectation (of Utahans) would be extremely high...", and "...I was disappointed in people who should have known better." If nothing else, I have learned that non-Utahans have pretty high expectations of Utah church members.

While I understand why the expectations are high, my experiences with the Saints in Utah has been overwhelmingly positive, as have my experiences in Idaho, Chile, Arizona, Nevada, and North Carolina. The Utah ward that I grew up in was comprised of just three city blocks and nearly every family was active and sealed in the temple. If I had to guess, I would estimate that the level of active families probably approached 90%. One of the few less-active families were my next-door neighbors, and they returned to activity thanks to the patient service of a faithful Home Teacher who visited them for fifteen years before they returned to activity. The vast majority of my high school friends worthily served missions and were married in the temple. At BYU I found myself surrounded by bright, active church members who loved the gospel and lived it in word and deed. Maybe I am naive, or perhaps I'm just a homer, but I truly believe that the majority of Utah Saints are great people who do their best to live the gospel. This holds true for members of the church in every other place where I have lived. During my visit home to Utah last week I spoke with a High Priest Group Leader who told me that they obtain 100% home teaching every month without having to compel people to make their visits. Are they perfect? Of course not. Those of you who are being so critical of Utah, please let me know when you find a religion or a state where everybody does everything right all of the time. It is probably a wonderful place. Like New Jersey.

But this is just my subjective opinion. I did a little research to see if there is any objective data to shed some light on Utah, and here is what I found:

-According to WebMd.com, Utah has the lowest reported use of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol consumption, and underage drinking (i.e. they tend to live the Word of Wisdom).
-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah has the lowest rate of unwed mothers, lowest teen birth rate, and highest percentage of married-couple households (i.e. they tend to live the Law of Chastity). Utah also has the highest birth rate and lowest percentage of working mothers in the country.
-According to Forbes.com, Utah is the most generous state in the nation (i.e. people pay their tithes and offerings.)
-According to Adherence.com, Utah is the most Christian state in the nation. (I cannot vouch for the quality of this website, but I thought it might be relevant to include.)
-Regarding member missionary work, I have heard repeatedly that Utah missions baptize more converts than any other missions in the United States but could not find any recent, credible stats to back this up. The most legitimate statement I could find was from Elder Thomas S. Monson in 1977 when he said, "It is not insignificant that the Utah Salt Lake City Mission leads all English-speaking missions in effectiveness and in total convert baptisms." (i.e. Utahans have ample opportunity to share the gospel and appear to do it effectively.)
-According to ESPN.com, BYU's football team has the nation's longest winning streak at 10 games and may have a chance to go undefeated this year and earn a BCS bid. (So what does this have to do with the topic? Nothing. It just proves that I'm a homer, that's all.)

In other words, there may be more people in Utah who live traditional Christian values of morality, temperance, charity, proclaiming the gospel, and sweet college football than any other place in the country! Take that, New Hampshire! You too, Delaware! This is obviously debatable, but there is a lot of evidence to support the argument. But still, the key is expectations. Many of you may have read that and said, "Of course Utah ranks high in those areas, it is supposed to!" If you had that thought, there is nothing that can be said that will convince you that Utahans are by and large faithful, obedient Saints. Again, are they perfect? Of course not, but who is?

Now, the objective downside of Utah:

-According to Forbes.com, Salt Lake is "America's Vainest City" as measured by the number of cosmetic surgeons per capita. However, the author is quick to note that the number may be high due to the U of U's School of Medicine, which offers residencies in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Just another example of how the U of U is tarnishing Utah's good name! (Kidding. Kidding. Only a joke. Don't send the hate mail.)
-According to the Deseret News, Utah normally ranks among the highest amount of bankruptcies per capita. The article does point out that this may be a function of larger families and lower incomes as mothers stay at home to raise children instead of entering the workforce. (i.e. it's not like most Utahans are declaring bankruptcy because they cannot afford the payments on their Porsche and winter home in Hawaii.)

When it all comes down to it, I think D&C 1:30-32 sums it up best:
30. And also those to whom these commandmets were gives, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with with I, the Lord, and well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.

31. For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;

32. Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.

As individuals, we are all imperfect whether we are Utahans, North Carolinians, Brazilians or Connecticutters (I made that up, but is sounds good). It is thrilling to me that the Lord will continue to move His work along through us, as imperfect as we are. Because of our universal imperfection, we should be very careful in our judgments of others, whether they be individuals or collective groups of people. We will make our experiences in the church, and life in general, as wonderful and positive or as miserable and mundane as we want them to be regardless of where we live.

Life would be even sweeter if BYU gets a BCS bid this year. Go Coogs!

(Homer! Homer!)

41 comments

Laura said...

I liked all your points on all this stuff, except when you made fun of the U of U. Go Utes!

The reasons my husband and I are hesitant to move back to Utah are vast. We have 5 more years of his residency before we know where we will live for the rest of our life. In the 5 years we have been gone from Utah and Salt Lake, the place has changed a ton (or we have -- I am not sure which is true.) I enjoy the diverseness of where I live now. My neighbors come from all walks of life and it is nice to not all be the same -- also helps with the not keeping up with the Jones' problem mentioned in previous post comments. Also hasn't Utah (the Wasatch front) become overly crowded the last few years. I feel each time I go back that the traffic is higher and people drive too fast. What I do miss about Utah is going to a church I can walk to. With gas prices these days it costs me 15 dollars or so to drive back and forth to my church building. I also hate that it is hard to be friends with the members of my ward because some are 45 min to an hour driving time away from me. Like you said, with all issues there are two sides to everything.

5:10 AM
Carolyn said...

I said it last time and I'll say it again...all those Mormons in one place just freaks me out! When we were in Utah for a family reunion a few years ago we heard an ad on the radio about some Book of Mormon movie. Some people were being interviewed about their thoughts on the movie. One young lady commented, "Nephi was a babe!"
Yikes!! I have nothing really against Utah or the people who live there. It's just not what I'm used to. The culture is so much different than what I'm used to, that it can be a little freaky to visit there.

6:16 AM
Erin said...

Seriously one of the best posts I have ever read. Ever. On any blog. I laughed out loud, I cried a little bit. You should run for president.

7:03 AM
Melissa said...

Very well said. And, sorry to be correcting your spelling all the time (but you called it upon yourself when you made that post about being grammatically correct) but I believe the proper spelling is "Go Cougs!" I also have lived in Utah and outside it, and I have nothing bad to say about Utah.

7:38 AM
DRH1701 said...

Hey now, I'm a member and formerly from New Jersey....so be careful there...;-p

Seriously, first time I've read your blog and really enjoyed it. I don't think that I want to live in Utah, I like being around lots of members not of our faith and interacting with them.

Also, being a convert, I have to admit that we (the MEMBERS of the Church) do not always have the corner on virtuous behavior, but that is the members, not the Church as a whole. Most of the time I find members to be very caring, humble, kind individuals that would give you the shirt off their backs. That is why I love the Church.

9:25 AM

hi! long-time reader, first-time commenter. LOL I'll try to keep this short.
I have come to realize (even before I read this post) that Utah isn't all that bad. I still don't want to live there. Like you said, you grew up in Utah. I grew up in Utah and Washington state, and happen to have more positive experiences in WA (plus it's prettier, nyah nyah), so I consider WA my "home". But while my husband is in the Air Force, we have the opportunity to live anywhere and everywhere, so we'll take it. In another 16 years, we will pray about where to live.
the end. :)

10:53 AM
LuckyMatt said...

Sorry in advance for the length of this comment. I am a rabid Utah fan (the state, NOT the college, go Cougs!). I love the mountains, the deserts, and especially the National Parks. I love hiking, biking, backpacking, skiing, and taking drives in the mountains. There are few large population centers located so close to big, majestic (albeit brown in the summer) mountains. I love living five minutes from a canyon and seeing unending mountainscapes while I jog through my neighborhood in the cool, dry morning.

I love the climate (dry, moderate heat in the summer, and dry, moderate winters), and the distinct seasons. I admit that I wish the mountains stayed green all year rather than turning brown and catching fire every summer. There's no counter-argument for that downside, except to say that at least we have mountains and there's plenty of green only five or ten minutes up any canyon here. I also envy those of you fortunate enough to live by the ocean. If only California really would drop into the sea and take Nevada with it...

I worked for three years as part of a contracting team for the Church, writing the MLS software (you can curse or bless me, depending on whether you ever used the old DOS systems), and then sang for three years in the MoTab. Both of these are priceless experiences I obviously couldn't have had outside the state. I also enjoy having a menu of temples within a half-hour drive, with the closes being five minutes away.

All my family is here, which is a huge draw. That reason alone would make it hard to ever leave. I really enjoy our friends, but I treasure my family. And being close through deaths, cancer, and other trials has been an invaluable blessing.

Having said all that, I had a terrible experience in my ward growing up in Salt Lake. Hardly any of the boys my age made it on missions or to the temple. Double-stacked deacon's quorums dwindled to a handful of active priests, and I never fit in and was openly mocked by some of these boys because I didn't fit in. During my youth years, I found myself actively "rebelling" against the stupidity of what my peers were doing, resulting in some self-righteousness, but strong Church activity too. I believe I have as much reason as anyone to be bitter about "Utah Mormons."

But I'm not. I LOVE Utah Mormons. It took some years of maturing, but I realized that my experience was an outlier in the "Utah Mormon" statistical graph. I have nothing but good to say about nearly every one of my neighbors and ward members since I have become an adult and gained a little perspective. I love that I see my neighbors serving each other. I love that people chat outside and smile and wave. I love that I can let my kids play outside, with kids their own age who are generally good and whose parents share similar values. I love that my young kids are surrounded by excellent teenage role models of clean-cut living. The positive peer influence here is awesome to see. I love that I genuinely admire, respect, and trust so many men and women, right in my own neighborhood. I love having twenty babysitting-age girls within two blocks, available when my wife and I want to go on a date.

I know full well that everyone has problems, sins, etc. I also know that for whatever reason, there are occasional "bad clumps" of Utah Mormons that surface and make life hard on someone. But I also know full well that the vast majority of Utah Mormons I have known are decent, good people who are trying their best, just like the Mormons, Baptists, Born-agains, and others I knew in Texas on my mission there.

I submit that for church members, one of the differences between Utah (or the whole "Mormon belt") and outside of it is that it's culturally easier to be identified with the Church here than it is to be a recluse. It's hard to disappear--you have a home teacher with a plate of cookies in your face if you try. You would have to accept giving up much of your social interaction with many of your neighbors. Just like it is outside of Utah, the Church is more than a place to learn the gospel here; it's also a major social network (aka the "ward family"). And since a majority of someone's neighbors probably attend Church here, it's easier to "fit in" if you attend too. (This can be challenging for less-active and non-member neighbors, and we have to be extra vigilant here to reach out to them, something we obviously need to keep working on because it keeps getting mentioned by our leaders.)

Thus, my theory is that the less-committed Church members in Utah often still show up at Church (90% activity rate in my ward), identify themselves as Mormons, and potentially set up naive Church members from outside the state for a little disappointment when they discover that not everyone here is as committed as they are. Outside Utah, these less-committed members just fall off the face of the earth, disappear into the Gentile society, and become nothing more than statistics for missionaries and church leaders to worry about (30% activity rate in most wards in Texas I served in). In Utah, they have faces. I choose to view that as a positive thing overall.

11:27 AM
Ang said...

Drew, I think you're on track with your "bloom where you're planted" mentality. I think there are positives and negatives to anywhere a person lives, and a lot of it has to do with attitude. That being said, I can see why some people (like, ahem, the Normal Mormon Wife . . . why, NMW, Why? Don't you like us?? :-) Kidding of course) wouldn't want to live in Utah.

I loved living in MN for almost 8 years and wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm also glad we're back here in Utah, too. For family reasons, of course, but for other smallish reasons like great radio stations, and my proximity to other Mormon writers, and crisp bean burritos (with you there!), and walking to church on Sunday. And, well, feeling like I'm home.

I would say one major thing that I gained, though, from living out of state (and the one thing that I think can be missing from some--not all--Utah Mormons' world view) is the idea that there are so many really wonderful, spiritual, good hearted people in the world who aren't LDS and (probably) never will be. Although I thought I understood it on an intellectual level, until I moved away it didn't hit me in my gut that we as Mormons don't have a corner on goodness or happiness or charitable, honest living. Perhaps that's why some people see "Utah Mormons" as self-righteous--some of us need to be whacked over the head a bit before we come to (what ought to be) this pretty obvious conclusion.

But great posts . . . and I wish you could talk the NMW into moving back here . . . somehow . . . someday. It would be so fun!! You could play our Wii anytime!!

12:54 PM
Dan Ellsworth said...

I loved living in Utah for my college years, but when I left on some trips to other places, I felt like Utah was missing the benefits of having diverse kinds of people and points of view that you find elsewhere.
For example, I knew a couple in Cedar Hills that were not LDS; they had recently moved from Maryland. There was a debate in the city over whether to keep the city golf course open on Sundays, and as is the case with many of these issues in Utah, many people approached this as an extension of the War in Heaven. One neighbor posted a flyer on everyone's doorstep showing the religious demographics of Cedar Hills, and concluded saying "89% OF US FOLLOW THE LIVING PROPHET, AND AS LATTER-DAY SAINTS, OUR VOICE ON THE GOLF COURSE ISSUE SHOULD REFLECT THAT."
This good couple from Maryland brought over the flyer and informed us they were going to request a transfer at work because they couldn't live in that kind of an environment. They were gone within a few weeks.
This kind of stuff is normal in Utah, and it generally goes unchallenged. It's profoundly sad.
Recently, there was a movie made called "This Divided State," which documented the controversy over Michael Moore's visit to UVSC a few years ago. One of the well-meaning conservative student activists interviewed chose to tell the world the following about Utah:
Religion is definitely a big factor in any community … like the Middle East for instance .. I’m going to compare Utah to the Middle East … but the Islamic religion … everything that they do plays into the Islamic religion … doesn’t matter if it’s economics, or biology, or anything to do with the community … that plays a role in the community is affected by religion and I think that that’s … very much so the truth here in Utah. (hat tip: BCC)
Again, this kind of thing is really sad. I loved my time in Utah and I love to visit often. The best friends I have made in my entire life, I made in Utah. But there are aspects of the culture there that I feel are very unhealthy.

1:09 PM
Pappy Yokum said...

Great post! I have lived in Utah, California and currently Montana. There are exceptionally good places to live in Utah and there are also places that are too crowded. You should have added one more category to your poll - Not looking to move to Utah but would enjoy it if you ended up there. That would be me.

Here's how I look at it.
There was once an old gentleman who enjoyed sitting on his porch in the cool mornings. One day, a car pulls up to his house and a couple get out and tell him they are relocating due to the husband being transferred and they want to know how things are in his neighborhood. He asks them how things were where they came from. They answer that the people were close-minded, stuck up and rude. He tells them it's about the same where he lives and they go on. The next day, another couple stop and ask the same question. Again, he asks them how thing were where they came from. They talk about how wonderful it was and the people were so good and so on but they had to move because they had no choice. He then says it's about the same in his neighborhood. He understood that a lot of what a place is like is based on our own positive attitude and that we create a lot of the reality around us.

1:49 PM
Brenda said...

I'm surprised at how opinionated everyone is about this topic. Personally, I like Utah. Except for my time at BYU, which I enjoyed, I've grown up and currently live in Washington State. My husband just got a job transfer to Pocatello, ID which is probably like life in Utah! Tons of Mormons. I'm actually looking forward to being around a lot of members of the church. Active or not, I won't have to explain every little thing we do to them. And I think my kids will enjoy having seminary in school instead of having it at 6:30 a.m. like I had to! Aw, there's good and bad no matter where you live. It's all about attitude, don't you think?

2:55 PM
Heather B said...

AMEN, you put it all so well. New reader to your blog and loving it.

4:00 PM
Erika said...

This is the best discussion I've ever heard! Thanks for providing great entertainment and lively topics for us all!

4:40 PM
Sandy said...

Come on now, you should have known that having a post completely dedicated to why you feel one state is superior to all others would generate some differing opinions. I know full well that my 8 years in UT...and only living in Provo...were just a snippet of what UT is like. I don't claim that WY or CA (the two other states I've lived in) are any better or worse than UT, just that I'd prefer to live in them. I have encountered PLENTY of negative stereotypes about Californians, too. I am not liberal, a greenie, gay or fancy - although I do LOVE turkey and avacado sandwiches on sourdough and think Trader Joes is a great store. I also have never surfed, pier dived or smoked pot, even though I grew up 15 minutes from the beach. But I would readily admit that 80% of my highschool fit into all of those categories...making it a stereotype that fit the majority, even if not EVERYONE WAS LIKE THAT.

However, MY personal experience is that while you can definitely find both greats and lousies in UT (we still have lots of wonderful relatives and friends in UT), it wasn't the place for me...but I did enjoy living there while I did.

I'd also like to mention that Jake once went to a stake leadership meeting with Elder Eyering as the speaker. He said that people who go to BYU and then stay in UT, rather than going elsewhere to build up the church are wasting their education and the church's money. So there.

10:23 AM
jeff with a J said...

After seeing much of the world, I miss Provo and Sardegna the most.

11:08 AM
Iowa Girl said...

I have always lived in the Midwest, so I don't know what it's like to live in Utah. But some of my very favorite people have been Utah Mormons. Interestingly, though, they've all been happy to live in or out of Utah.

On the other hand, I've lived for several years in college towns with lots of grad students originally from Utah who complained incessantly about how the Midwest was NOT Utah. Our weather's not as good, the produce isn't as good, there are no mountains... and on and on and on... It's as though they still think Utah is the one and only Zion and everywhere else is the lone and dreary wilderness! I really wanted to send them back!

While I have to say that I have truly enjoyed living in areas where there are more members who live closer together, some of these "transplanted" Mormons have been hard to handle and have perhaps wrongly clouded my perceptions of living in Utah. But to be honest, I do not think it is really a result of being from Utah or not. I think the people who give other LDS this perception are generally those who have grown up in very prosperous homes and have really had no exposure to people outside their own backgrounds, religion, income level, interests, etc.. Many of them haven't had any significant trials that would help them empathize with others. As a result, they seem to have a hard time understanding the realities of life for people in other communities. They often say things that come across as arrogant, judgmental, and condescending. However, that could happen to you in any area of the world. I guess we non-Utah Mormons need to realize the things that make us uncomfortable may have very little to do with "Utah."

5:17 PM
go boo boo said...
J Rogers said...

I think a big difference is the cultural mormons. You just don't find many of them outside of utah. I personally have no desire to live in Utah. My husband could not make near as much money there as he can where we live. People are willing to accept a much lower wage so they can live in Utah. About the bankrupcy, there seems to be a strange thing that members of the church are attracted to multi level marketing and get rich quick scemes. I find it very odd.

11:05 AM
Dan Ellsworth said...

I think the bankruptcy thing is probably more due to family size and medical expenses. A lot of people in Utah start having kids without having the financial means to do so, and it's easy to rack up tens of thousands in medical bills surrounding a birth. Compound that with low salaries, and a lot of families go underwater fairly quick.

1:01 PM
Lindsay said...

I remember reading an article that said Utah's bankruptcy rate is higher than the norm because most people try to file the kind where you pay your debts back, then when they still can't do it they have to file for the kind where you don't pay things back. So they're actually filing for bankruptcy twice, which ups the rate.

5:00 PM
Anonymous said...

I am from the Northwest Territories and I only get access to the internet once a year. I spent 1 hour (or 80% of my internet time) reading your blog. I am going to kill my loser of a companion from the Salt lake mission for sending me a link to your site. Who really reads that Twilight crap anyway? If you want a book, I just got this new one flown into our town. I don't remember the name, but it is about the amusement park that has Dinosours in it. The dinosours attack the scientist who are reviewing the park and the Raptors are really scarry. I hope they make it into a movie some day. You should review that book.

Anyway, I think that Utah is crazy, the best place is Victor, NY (except for long periods in the winter) My companion from my mission was from there and if everyone was like Elder "Snoop Doggy Dog" Sherdog the world would be alot better. I hear he got a hottie for a wife. There is a testimony for wife points (the more times you go tracting in the rain, the better looking your wife is). If only I worked as hard as him. All I ever did was call the people in Hunter to repentance. Those people in the west valley are as bad as their water. Seriously, how can Magna water even be considered heathy. That stuff is so hard, anyone could walk on water if your pool was filled with Magna water.


From Yellowknife NW Terr. William Guay (it is pronounced GAY, its frech)

8:07 PM
Rebekah (Homer) Pierce said...

Okay, actually being a Homer, I have to say that I have never heard that term, unless you count the Homer Bucket that they sell at Home Depot for $4.95. I must say that I was taken back down memory lane by your last couple of posts, but was extremely shocked by the comments made by people about our great state. Let me add my two cents worth by saying that although I have always lived in Utah, I have traveled quite extensively around the country and am very proud to call the Beehive State home. When we were first married, Matt and I had visions of leaving Utah after graduating from school. After graduation, Matt got a job that requires him to travel around the country each week. The more he travels, the more he is happy to call Utah home. Salt Lake City is a beautiful, clean city with great access to the arts, and outdoor recreation. It is a great place to raise a family, and being from Salt Lake City (or surrounding areas) has given us both lots of opportunities to share the gospel with family, friends and co-workers. While I can certainly understand some of your readers complaints (I sadly feel that way about most of Utah County, ha ha ha), I have to say that I love Utah and I am glad to live here.

One other note, the word is spelled UTAHN.

9:02 AM
Eden said...

You've stirred up quite the hornet's nest with this post! And now I feel compelled to weigh in, too. I've spent about half of my life living in Utah, and half of it living elsewhere. I think that gives me a bit of insight into both sides of the issue.

Some out-of-staters throw around the term "Utah Mormon" as if it's a negative thing. And lets be honest-- sometimes it is. I think in many ways it is easier to "walk the fence" when you're surrounded by other members. You aren't forced to choose a side and commit.

However, nobody seems to recognize that the VAST majority of tithing funds collected by the church come from the Wasatch Valley--meaning that a whole lot of "Utah Mormons" are being faithful. Per capita, more Family History and temple work is completed in Utah, too. Also, much of the leadership of the church comes from life-long Utahans. Clearly it's not a state just full of slackers. There are many wonderful, dedicated people who are striving to live the gospel in Utah.

However, I've always been struck by the materialism I observed in many (though, of course, not all) members in Utah. The "keeping up with the Jones’s" thing is REAL. And though you can attribute some bankruptcies in the state to larger, single income families, you also have to acknowledge the overspending. Next time you're driving around Salt Lake City, look around--you won't find many (or any) cars over five years old. Even newly-wed couples want a home like their parents--without the 20 years of work it took to achieve it. Church could be an Abercrombie or Banana Republic fashion show.

It's the age old sin--pride--and Utah members seem to be falling victim to it in record numbers. It breeds real discord and bad feelings, and if I have one criticism of Utah, that's it.

10:14 AM
braken96 said...

Just my two cents:

I have never had problems with my expectations of Utah mormons living up to reality.

My problem has been when Utah mormons place those same expectations on others. I can understand that others are not perfect, but in Utah the members seem to exclude those who have a noticeable non-perfection.

This un-acceptance of non-conformity is the main problem that many run into. It isn't a majority, but those who act this way tend to be the most vocal and most noticeable.

12:41 PM
Melinda said...

I'm going to mix up the threads here, and post a "most annoying grammar issue". It is "Utahn" and not "Utahan." Thanks!

8:24 PM
R&R said...

NMH: You say the reason is summed up by one word, EXPECTATIONS. I think it's sorta true in general. But you have to understand that some cases come from worse places than that.

I had a young woman from our ward come and babysit for me a little while ago. She's was born and raised here, outside of Utah. When the evening was over and I was taking her home, she asked me about my family back in Utah. We started talking a bit about it, about BYU, etc.

I was appauled at how much venom this 13 year old girl had against Utah. She's only been there once, for a General Conference visit her parents took the family to years ago. The things she was saying could not have derived from that short trip however many years ago. They were crazy. They were "adult" comments. I have no doubts they came from her mother. I've heard her mother say similar things, and they've always shocked me.

So what I've learned lately is that some of these hard feelings for UT don't just come from unmet expectations, NMH. They come from prejudice. Good old fashioned home grown prejudice.

If you've been raised hearing your parents talk badly about Utah and Utah Mormons, you are going to grow up thinking badly about Utah and Utah Mormons. And you will hate every second of your life if you are ever "forced" to live there. It's sad but true.

I feel sorry for the children of parents with that much blindess. It's not fair to the kids. I felt so sorry for this young woman in my ward. And you watch... luck will have it that she'll end up getting called on a mission there. And she'll hate it. All because of her wonderful mother. Good job, Sister Prejudice-Pants, and all other parents like you.

11:10 AM
Meredith said...

I miss Utah now! Thanks for thoughts of home. Plus, humidity sucks. The desert air sure would be refreshing about now.

12:16 PM
Hans said...

My wife was is from Bulgaria and was baptized there. After we got married, she came to Provo while I was at the Y. For some reason, she didn't like it that much. She was used to being in a branch with only 20 people on Sundays and where every member was crucial to the church's success.

A few years after moving to New Hampshire and looking back, she saw that her attitude about Utah had been one of expecting perfections. People that she worked with that were members did things that she did not expect. I think that you hit it right on the head where people are sometimes critical of Utah because people don't always live up to the higher level they expect. Of course, when there are "Straight Edgers" out there...jk.

BTW, I am from WA and live in AZ now. I only went to the Y for three years. People are the same no matter where you go. You get one you put in to it. It's all about attitude. Over-generalizations usually are not a fair to the people being judged.

2:44 PM
Angie said...

Hey I love your blog. I lived in Utah for 8 years, but I didn't grow up there. I thought it was great and if my extended family lived there too, I would have stayed, but they didn't so we moved to be closer to family.

I do miss Utah sometimes though. Can one of you really nice Utah Mormons send me some Grandma Syamore bread?

7:24 PM
etigg said...

I've only visited southern Utah, which was awesome (in May and October). However, I enjoy water in its natural (Great Lakes) state too much to live there.

My only complaint against Utahns comes from those few (usually newly moved to my state for work or school) who insist on viewing Utah as the center of the LDS world.

12:51 PM
Becky said...

This is my first visit to your blog and I've been neglecting my kids reading all the comments! I grew up in Idaho, then lived in Provo for 4 years while my husband was in grad school at BYU (I never went there myself). Since then we have lived in Arizona, Minnesota, and now New Jersey. The adjustments from UT to AZ to MN were minimal, our wards were functional and friendly, we felt at home, etc. But wow this move to Jersey has been a huge adjustment. Our ward boundaries cover more area, so it's difficult to get together with ward members, and the few kids in our neighborhood have all day day-care or all day private school kindergarten. I have been mistaken as 'the nanny' several times, ane most people find it unbelievale that we're expecting baby #4. I thought after living in MN that I had some experience out of the 'mormon bubble' of ID, UT, AZ, but I was wrong. There are so many opportunites for sharing the gospel and serving, but at the same time it is a challenge and uncomfortable. When I go back to ID or UT to visit I feel at home and miss the conveniences, but also grateful that I have the chance to experience other things. We went to the Hill Cumorah last weekend and I heard someone who I assumed was from Utah make a comment about how she already KNEW about harsh winter weather conditions because she was from UTAH. That's the Utah attitude that bothers me, but I never noticed it when I lived there. funny. The biggest complaint I have about New Jersey is the property taxes.
Great blog, it's hilarious to get Mormons riled up!

7:17 PM
The Peton's said...

Another plug for Utah . . . . My husband moved to WVC as a teenager and was promptly visited by some sister missionaries. He let them in because he thought they were cute (BYU girls from So Cal. A fifteen year old's dream). Growing up in Cal and Idaho, he knew he hated mormons because his dad did. Anyway, he listened, was baptized, and was fellowshiped by an incredible ward!! He served a mission and was married in the temple. Thanks to that ward and all the caring and loving! Also, to his great release-time seminary teachers.

12:51 PM
IamLoW said...

I just found your blog and should probably read more before I comment.... but...

I lived in Utah 10 years, I went with expectations and they weren't met but I got over it. :)

Utah is different, but since I moved, I miss it very much and would move back in a heart beat.

But it is very different.

6:41 PM
Kylene said...

Wow! You summed it up perfectly! Good post! I've lived in Washington state, southern and northern Utah, and Maryland/Washington D.C. and Mormons everywhere are generally the same....TRYING to live a good life. Aren't we all? Mormon or not?

4:46 PM
Christina said...

I have to leave my 2cents in here. I first came to your blog because it was linked on the twilightlexicon site, and I did enjoy your Breaking Dawn synopsus. :)

So I kept reading and saw you were a mormon from Utah. I read through your post, and I believe you do have very valid points. Utah, compared to other states, is probably one of the nicest places to live.

I grew up in Utah. I am not Mormon.

I am now 22 years old and moved from the state to Nevada when I was around the age of 16. Now I don't want to be one of the mormon bashing people who have left comments, but I do want to share some of my experiences growing up. When I was growing up, being a non-mormon in school is like having leparcy. The first thing children ask is 'what ward are you in?' when you reply 'huh?' or 'what?' and they explain, and you come back with 'oh I'm not mormon', there is an imdeiate shying away from you. I don't know if children are taught to dislike people who are not mormon, or that people who are not mormon are bad, but it certainly seemed that way. There were countless occasions I would be told 'I can't be your friend because you aren't mormon'. There were many instances of this growing up and others where people in general are just mean and hateful to non-mormons living in Utah. In my early teens my mother had enough, and decided to move by some of our family in Nevada.

There are a lot of mormons in Las Vegas, not as many as in SLC but a lot. Let me tell you, the breed of mormons here are like that of night and day compared to Utah mormons. No they aren't corrupt people who aren't as riteous as the mormons in Utah, I have many many mormon friends and I actually appreciate the religion much more than I did before, because of how welcoming the people are here. It's almost as if the mormons in SLC are afraid of non-mormons, while my friends here in Las Vegas are open to explaining their religion to you, but don't force it down you, and don't make you feel like crap if you aren't mormon.

I know not every mormon in SLC is evil and mean, I think the people who are in your religion are wonderful people and I respect your values you live by, but I can definitely relate to the people who say that the people are more judgemental and mean than other places. I've experienced it first hand. I think it's a beautiful city and I would love to raise my kids there just for the good morals and values and safety, but on the same note, I don't wnat my children to be treated the way I was treated as a child.

8:03 AM

My husband and I live in Las Vegas. He has lived here most of his life and I moved here (from Vernal, Utah) when I was 7. We would like to move to St. George so we can be close to my family and his Grandparents, but it is just not right for us right now, same type of thing for your family.

I hear comments all the time from people that lived in Utah and came to Vegas, that the youth are a lot stronger in Vegas because you have to be. I only moved when I was young so I don't know this from personal experience whether it is true or not, but a lot of new comers to Vegas (from Utah) make these comments. It makes sense though, when there are nasty guys handing out porn, you have to stand up for your beliefs all the time, vs being in Utah and surrounded by others that share the same beliefs, you don't have to as much. And that makes you stronger when you are constantly faced with adversity.

10:18 AM
AZ Allreds said...

Hey NMH...loved this post. I once was a Californian but mainly Arizonan (Calzone for short). I took off from Cali to join the ranks at BYU. I loved it until I let the poison from another Californian (an older guy that had me thinking he was the one to follow) sink in. I then quickly left the state only to bitterly spout things linke "Utard" or "He@@ has frozen over" and all that good stuff. Well, I saw the error of my ways and returned to my Provo grounds. After another smemester and then a year and a half down south, I returned once more to the Lovely State of Deseret. Where I then hooked up wih a younger Utah man (not that much younger). We then moved to his small town of Vernal, where you can't get much more Utahn than that...and we live until we then move to AZ. We love AZ but we'll always love UT. Some people get jaded by UT, but if they really live up the experiance, they'll love it (even if they don't outwardly admit it). It just wasn't fun when I met my in-laws and they all asked me "Are you a Cali Mormon?" I thought we were all the same all over the world, guess I missed the memo.

10:33 AM
Anonymous said...

You are probably the most naive stupid stuck up mormon person I have ever met.

Mormons in utah is the reason why people hate mormons.

3:28 PM
Anonymous said...

I just had to put my opinion here...I was on your blog reading the Breaking Dawn Synopsis (hilarious, by the way. Way to go...Plucky's probably my favourite story line so far.)

Anyways, I'm from Canada and wow...I never realized there was such a big divide in the States. Aren't people people no matter where you go? As long as you're treating everyone fairly, why should it matter what state your from or what your religion is? Just my thought, but maybe I just don't get it because I don't live in your country. Whatever.

5:56 AM
IamLoW said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 8:33 AM
Anonymous said...

Regarding Christina's response-

What she says about being not LDS in Utah sums up being LDS in Georgia (or the deep south). When friends find out you are Mormon, they say, "oh" and that's that, they don't have much more to do with you. Not every single time, but the majority for sure.

It's all very shallow and silly.

9:17 AM