Posted by: rusch | December 14, 2004

Mormon Elite

Ryan Probasco wrote this over the past couple of days. When he told me about what he was trying to do, I just could not wait. I emailed Ryan telling him that the public could wait any longer, he needed to complete his essay. So here it is. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Rise of the ‘Mormon Elite’

I hear it all of the time these days: people complaining about ‘Mormon culture’ in the ‘Book of Mormon Belt’ (you know–west side of the Rockies; Utah, Idaho etc.). Good grief. It seems that these folks just can’t handle being criticized by other Mormons for their supposed ‘high art.’ Don’t get me wrong–I watch as many ‘R’ rated
movies as your average 26 year-old American male, but I also acknowledge other Mormons’ right to partake in entertainment that suits their individual tastes. In fact I respect these purists for their resolve and conviction not to stoop to the level of what the rest of the world often deems appropriate.

Every time I hear people criticizing ‘Belt’ Mormons, I am reminded of America’s liberal elite as they criticize their conservative counterparts. No matter how often these people are ridiculed with names like ‘hick’, ‘redneck’, and ‘bible-thumper,’ they remain blissfully content with their culture and way of life. There is such a striking resemblance between these two groups that it makes me wonder: are we seeing the rise of a ‘Mormon elite’–a group so irritated by the mere culture of surrounding it that it lacks the ability to politely abstain?

Forget what you think you know about Mormon culture for a moment and visit the Book of Mormon Belt with me. I, myself, was born in Utah (Ogden actually), but had only lived here briefly a few times before reaching adulthood. Of all of the places I have lived around the world-Great Britain,South Korea,The Netherlands, California, and Washington-I have never seen the kind of strength and resolve that exists in the church in Utah. And I’m not talking about testimonies based on Mormon culture either. There are so many smart, good, and wholesome people here that it boggles my mind that they could possibly all live in one place!

Sure, there are a few exceptions: spoiled kids who can’t act responsibly, proud arents who can’t put anything before themselves. But in my experience, these are few and far between. Of ourse, it’s not really these folks that the Mormon Elite take ssue with. It’s the stay-at-home moms who listen to Kurt Bestor. It’s the young women who read Jack Weyland novels. It’s the young men of the priest’s quorum who enjoy Orson Scott Card science fiction.

Does anybody else see how ridiculous this is? Instead of finding ways to strengthen one another’s testimonies these elitists are mocking the attempts of others to do so. In fact some of the Mormon Elite even go so far as to suggest that prominent Mormon entertainers are (intentionally or unintentionally) hurting the church by poisoning the testimonies of members with horrible pseudo-doctrine.

This is a call to all practicing Mormon Elitists out there. You know who you are. Get off your high-horse and let others have the moral high-ground. You know that the entertainment you partake of is not wholesome and that Mormon entertainment (no matter how aesthetically lame it is to you) can be intellectually stimulating to others without the added sex and violence. Don’t try to pretend that their choices
are destroying testimonies when it is more likely your choices which are doing so. No one is forcing you to listen to John Bytheway–don’t pressure others to partake of your ‘high art.’

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