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Mormon Media Observer: The news says Latter-day Saints are suddenly hip — but the church is square

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  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 3, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    the things of God are foolishness to the natural man - always have been and always will be. When I read the New Testament it seems pretty clear that the social fabric of the day considered Jesus's teachings WAY out of step. 2000 years later and nothing really changes..

  • aumacoma SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 3, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    "Heres the thing. We really do believe that a young boy came out of the woods with a remarkable book and the book exists with dramatic, profound implications in its truth."

    Here's the thing. We believe, but we do not know. Believeing is not knowledge and the BoM is "in it's truth", your truth which you CHOOSE to believe. It is not THE truth, just YOUR truth.

  • bluecoug89 Highland, UT
    Nov. 3, 2011 6:51 a.m.

    Good thing my main motivation to go to church isn't to be hip

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 11:04 p.m.

    "Much of the writing about the church, as generous and as favorable as it seems sometimes, becomes a kind of avoidance in the end... Reporters dont seem to want to tackle the implications of LDS belief."

    Are you really surprised? Take a chill pill, laugh at the funny stuff, correct amicably if need be, and let things roll. People will ask the questions when they are ready. You're never going to see the media flash "PRAY ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON" across the screen, so don't get all bent out of shape when they don't. We're an interesting group of people, so people are going to poke fun, write about our idiosyncrasies, wonder about people who might not be as "typical" of the mainstream faith, etc. Take it in stride and sometime when the opportunity presents itself you can be more serious with people who might be looking deeper. Sometimes I think half our problem is we get so dang offended and almost WANT to feel like we're persecuted when really it's not that at all.

  • michaelm Waukesha, WI
    Nov. 2, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    I wish more members outside of the US were commenting. Dress codes for church members in other countries would shock most UT Mormons, as long as modesty is maintained.

    On my mission it was always amusing to me when Western State Senior couples and a few UT Elders seemed to have their testimonies shaken to see that local cultural dress and other habits are accepted, everywhere is not Utah!

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, the culture of the Mormon church in certain high concentration areas like Utah are not the Gospel it just tradition. It's fascinating to me how often those get confused and people start quoting local leaders or local traditions as being Church truths and Gospel principles. In fact many traditions you grew up with and local cultural customs that get imposed on others because the concentration of members in the Western US influences some to think the way they do things are rules or Gospel and the only way to live.

    Even the Church itself often changes directions under modern revelation. Those clinging to tradition and culture instead of Testimony leave themselves open to disillusionment with these narrow minded attitudes.

    Advice... Travel more!

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 5:32 p.m.

    The church and members are focusing a great deal these days on the image of the brand. Yeah, tell me it's all good. It's just that my experience with it is not.

  • Jeanie b. Orem, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 2:20 p.m.

    History has shown that is is rarely "cool" to be religious. I think we need to set our expectations accordingly.

    That LDS people are seen as "cool" and acceptable right now -well, OK, but in the long run the only relevance is so we can fulfill the commandment to be a light on a hill, not to prove that we can hob-knob with the world and it will like us -that we're finally in the "in crowd".

    My thoughts about the "Mormon Moment" is the same as President Packer's advise to President Uchdorf (I think it was those two). "Just don't inhale."

    Fine that we're generally considered OK right now. If this moment doesn't last will people abandon their faith so they can continue to be "accepted"?

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 12:17 p.m.

    To be as hip as a glorified resurrected being such as the Father and the son, as was seen be Stephen in Acts Chapter Six or as as seen by the 14 year old Joseph Smith in upstate New York from his history found in LDS scriptures is to be all that there is to be. Can the Church offer individuals and families direction on becoming as hip as the Father and Son?

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Nov. 2, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    Re: als Atheist | 9:32 p.m. Nov. 1, 2011
    "Judgmentalism in the LDS Church is raised to a high art"

    Isn't calling and organization judgmental ....... judgmental?

  • Ms.W South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 10:55 a.m.

    "Cake/eat, Cake/eat, which is it going to be? "

    Both. Anybody can be in the world, but not of it. It's a choice. Why do we act like we have no control over our salvation?

  • Ms.W South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 10:12 a.m.

    "The people are OK, the article seems to say, but the church as an institution needs to get with the program."

    And what program is that? The liberal, anything goes, limitless tolerance, politically correct, big government program?

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    Nov. 2, 2011 9:57 a.m.

    I am LDS. For anyone who isn't, I'd like you to know that ankle length dresses, skirts, jumpers, etc. are NOT part of the mormon dress code. They are, however, part of the mormon culture in some areas, particularly in Utah. I have never dressed that way, nor would I ever dress that way. I think a woman can be modest in her dress but not have to look like she is wearing a tent. I do not let the mormon culture rule my life. If that is considered to be hip, then I am a hip mormon and proud to be one! My husband is also very happy that I take enough care of my physical appearance that I don't need to hide my body type by wearing a tent.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    Nov. 2, 2011 8:52 a.m.

    Do you also assume that the ..oh about 50% of adult church members who are overweight to obese have also left full activity? Not following the Word of Wisdom is a SIN. Some of the examples you provided in your article as evidence of a lack of full activity in the church are not sins. Funny how overeating just seems to be ignored. Does that make the church hip?

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 2, 2011 8:16 a.m.

    re: M Matchett
    The problem is, the world of man is not falling apart. The human condition is getting better. A greater percentage of the world's population is living under better conditions, with more human rights, than ever before.
    Life is improving, not getting worse. I challenge you to find one ancient culture where people were better off than they are today.
    We have it good.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    Nov. 2, 2011 3:31 a.m.

    Once heard a quote from an LDS leader (if anyone else knows who and the exact quote, I'd love to know) that the time would come when LDS wouldn't be easily distinguishable from their neighbors---at that time 30 years ago--I thought it would be because LDS members lives and values would be a generally leavening influence and others not LDS would basically want to rise to it.
    Now, like this article points out, that it will be many LDS will want to be like the world

  • EnglishAlan Rugeley, Staffs
    Nov. 2, 2011 2:31 a.m.

    I didn't comment on the dress code in my previous reponse on here, but can I just share one experience. As a bishop in "the Mission Field" (i.e, non-Utah) we see anumber of people join the Church, and embrace it. We had a particular lady that joined the Church, and embraced it in a wonderful way. She did not feel comfortable in a dress though. After about three months I had a sister from the ward come and ask me to have a word with this new sister, "As she always wears trousers." My response was, and always will be, "Would you rather notice her by her trousers, or by her absence?" The important thing was that the lady was coming to Church every week, and renewing her Covenants with her Saviour. Eventually this new sister, of her own accord, started wearing dresses. 1 Samuel 16:7 is still in force, I believe.

  • als Atheist Provo, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    Bill,

    I think that is the first time I have agreed with and recommended one of your comments.

    On the other hand, from what I see of LDS on these comments, and in real life, I would never want to associate with them. Judgmentalism in the LDS Church is raised to a high art.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 1, 2011 8:59 p.m.

    To Will7370 and others: What you are saying is that our services should not be open to just anybody but only to those who meet your expectations. That is not what the Lord Jesus Christ taught nor what the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints state either. They do state that one piercing of the ears for young women or women is sufficient, neatly groomed, modest clothing, no piercings for young men or men and you shouldn't get a tatto if you don't have one. However, many today are joining the Church with several piercings, tattoes and other things. Some wear overalls and jeans to services. Some are not groomed as well as others and so on. Yet, they are welcome in all our services. We shouldn't judge them for this. It has always been taught that as one learns line upon line, precept upon precept their countance shall change. Though their skin and other things don't change they become as pure as the driven snow. In fact, for some reason even their tattoes disappear because we no longer pay attention to them. That is the greatness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • will7370 LOGAN, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 5:40 p.m.

    The message we need to convey to the world is that it is a joy to have the Spirit of the Lord with us on a daily---even a moment to moment basis. There is a peace that far outweighs the false gains obtained by going around unshaven, sloppily dressed or having tattoos. To be able to be clean inside and out---and *know* it---is worth more than all the wealth in the world. To be able to enter the temple worthily at any time and have sweet communion with the spirit world is unspeakable. How sad it is to see our LDS brethren show up Sunday mornings in priesthood meeting with long hair, unshaven, sockless or with tattoos. If only they knew the pure joy of making a clean---and permanent----break from Babylon.

  • Bethanymom Murray, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 3:12 p.m.

    I know that I read this article with great anticipation, only to find that I was disappointed. The tone and focus of the article seemed to be about how dowdy 'Mormons' are, but if you are hip you can get around it.

    I found their advice on how to get around it pretty narrow minded. I personally have NEVER worn a ruffled blouse, bow collar and a high-waisted pencil skirt, nor to I ever plan to. I have found my own 'look' that is neither repressed, nor frumpy.

    I counted and of the 6 people quoted in the article, all 6 expressed a negative view or referenced how they evaded the rules. Seems to show a bias toward a particular view. Out of 6 million world wide members the author couldn't have found 1 (or 6) hip young mormons who are happy in their religion?? Hmmm, seems like a lazy journalist, or one out to prove their narrow view of the religion.

  • dotp POTEAU, OK
    Nov. 1, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    About the beard thing -- my husband has been a member of the church for 24 years now and has had a beard from the very beginning. He shaved it for one year because he was told he could not attend the temple unless he did. Since we know the church is true, he opted to accept the tenet of that local Stake President, and he shaved. After being beardless for a year, I asked him to grow it back because I LIKE his beard. We had moved to a different stake by then and there were others, including our branch president who had beards, so he grew it back and has never shaved it off since. And I hope he doesn't. As I said, I LIKE his beard. He looks distinguished and handsome with it. He keeps it neat and trim. There is NO "rule" against it as far as I know. It is usually up to the Stake President whether first-time temple attendees have a beard or not. BYU has it's standards for their own reasons, and I would abide by them if I were going there. But since I'm not, my husband keeps his beard.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 1, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    People get the wrong idea as to what is worn and what isn't. Modesty doesn't mean you have to be old fashioned. The Standards for the Youth is the same standard that all members are asked to adhere to. Notice the word asked. There are many who can't afford certain types of dress but I have seen that as one becomes more and more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the dress changes.

    For me I wear the suit, white shirt and tie on Sunday. During the week I look no different than anyone in the office. That is the way it should be.

    I know of members that are bikers and some may have tatoos from an earlier age but today try to cover them up. I know of others who had their ears pierced when it was the going thing and today do not. I know of others who wouldn't wear their piercings to the temple but during the week they would. There is a time a place for all. The LDS culture is more than a culture, it is actually a way of life.

  • ewoldtmark SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    did times get the idea that Mormons only wear white shirts black ties by missionary dress. true that may be for missionaries standard. but I am active LDS been one for years On Sunday I wear my white shirt, but the rest of the week I wear my cargo or wide leg jeans tee shirt. the article done in times magazine is outsiders opinion of what he does not understand. nor did he take the time to research what young generations of Mormons wore 10, 20 years ago. the only thing that lord has suggested to the his people is to wear things that are modest. modest does not mean old style. it just means making sure your body is sufficiently covered. I can cover my body with regular tee shirt just as much as a long sleeve white shirt or sweater.

  • Kevin Surrey, BC
    Nov. 1, 2011 11:17 a.m.

    to: michaelm | 11:18 p.m. Oct. 31, 2011

    Clothing styles have changed over the years and continue to change. People wear all sorts of modest clothing in various styles. However, there are certain standards the church holds fast to. For example, the temple will not change from using white clothing. Also, the higher you go up in leadership ( for men) the more you are expected to where white shirts, modest ties, and suits where applicable. Our Bishop and Stake Pres said that all who officiate in the sacrament should be wearing a white shirt and tie.

    The priesthood choir at the recent GC had to conform to the standards set for the choir of they couldn't sing. The standards were strict: no facial hair, no loud colours, and suits that were plain.

    As long as people dress modestly, weekly church services can be flexible. However, like I said before, the higher you go in leadership, more is expected in dress standards and how you look.

  • scootd28* SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 10:56 a.m.

    Ginger from Ravenna - thank you for your correction. You are right. There is a culture attached to living the gospel. I should have said "it is not JUST a culture". As an adult convert, being baptized into a Salt Lake City ward, you can imagine the shock of adjusting to that culture. I still don't like green jello with shredded carrots, but I absolutely love funeral potatoes. I've gotten very good at setting up and taking down tables and chairs, but I have yet to take cookies to a new neighbor. Seriously, though, I love the culture and the gospel, and dedicate my life daily to becoming sanctified to His will, as He did his own to the Father's. The beauty of the gospel transcends all, and is the core of my existence.

  • sbenard Bountiful, Utah
    Nov. 1, 2011 9:31 a.m.

    "Hip" is way over-rated! Standards stay!

    Thanks, Lane!

  • Veracity Morgan, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    Hi, my name is Dave and I am a Mormon.

  • EnglishAlan Rugeley, Staffs
    Nov. 1, 2011 7:26 a.m.

    I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the age of 17 I heard the message, prayed about it, read the Book of Mormon, and learned of it's truth. My parents and siblings thought it was a passing phase. Sadly, so did some members, who saw a scruffy young man with no family support.

    Now I am a sixty year-old father of six, grandfather of seven and a half. I have been married to my wife for 34 years, and love her far more today than I did on that day in 1977 when I knelt across a Sacred Altar. I had the privilege of being a full-time missionary, and have served two terms as a Bishop. Is that HIP?

    All I can tell you is that everything that I have in my life that is of value to me came because of my learning the truthfulness of Joseph's message. It happened when I was young, but continues to bless me as I grow old. Thank-you Joseph. Despite what fools may say, your message stands the test of time. I know, I have tried it. It WORKS!!

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Nov. 1, 2011 7:00 a.m.

    "It suggests that the LDS Church is a stodgy church ..."

    --- Well, actually, it is.

    The Mormon Church has been trying to say for years now that "we're just like everybody else" and that message has gotten through quite clearly to the LDS Youth.

    The Mormon Church also wants to be "in the world, but not of the world". Um, you can't have it both ways. You're either like everybody else, or your not. You're either in the world or you're not.

    Cake/eat, Cake/eat, which is it going to be?

  • michaelm Waukesha, WI
    Oct. 31, 2011 11:18 p.m.

    As a guy with a goatee, and is often caught with Gasp! A pink, pale blue, white with blue stripes or other dress shirt at church and who does not wear a coat when it's hot nor in the winter when the churches are 82 degree and everyone else is sweating I can say I have an appreciation for those who stand up to certain traditions that have become conformity rules.

    It seems to me the Church whose members often comment on how religions like Quakers or Amish got stuck in time, adopting certain trends at the time but then stopped progressing, I feel the LDS church has done so also.

    It is stuck in the 1950s dress and can't seem to let go of it. No longer a culture of modesty, rather one of uniformity and conformity.

    I always conform to LDS standards of modesty, fulfill my callings and attend the Temple. However I choose styles that fit my comfort over conformity, and tastes over PC pressure from local leaders. I celebrate my individuality and Mormonism.

    I have a testimony of modern revelation but feel dress codes are not significant and hence tradition rules over wisdom.

  • YoungHipMormon LEHI, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    As a relatively young (32), mostly hip Mormon, I love The New York Times article. No need to pick it apart! There are MANY of us in the church that aren't the sunday school lesson example, but are good people striving to do the right thing. I don't have a traditional "strong testimony", but I love my wife and two children with all my heart and treat my fellow man the best I know how. I say we relax and enjoy every last soul who wants to associate with us, "perfect" or not. Casting stones at the Times for such a gentle and fun article can only turn people away.

  • Richard Allan Jenni Ocean City, NJ
    Oct. 31, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    Like outward beauty, the fads of any era are only skin deep. Yes, I would like to see young American Latter-day Saints always dressed in clean modest clothing- and free of tattoos and body piercings. Nevertheless, I am more concerned about what they are thinking- especially at those quiet moments when they are free to ponder whatsoever they would. I also care infinitely more about the love our young people feel for their fellow men and for their troubled country- not to mention their love for Almighty God. I am deeply troubled by the accelerated decay of Americas moral values- perhaps best characterized by the tragic lack of personal integrity that extends to the highest levels of our government. Yes, it matters little if a young Mormon lad has bothered to wear some socks or shine his shoes- if he is walking in the wrong moral direction

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    m.g.scott
    "It's a fifty/fifty proposition."

    Not really. You have two options and if you flip a coin it's 50-50 but it's not 50% odds that the church is actually true. Though really odds are set by the individual person, a member might think it's 97% certain that it's true, a nonmember might think it's 95% certain that it's not true. Others will insist 100% one way or another. I guess some might consider it to be 50-50.

    @Kevin
    "but in those cases it was the Lord who made the made those decisions."

    Well most of the issue in the discussions about blacks and the priesthood and polygamy is whether or not it was the Lord who made those decisions.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 12:42 p.m.

    Never in my temple recommend interviews have I been asked if my hair conforms to any standard. I have never been asked about my goatee, or my earring (but I got rid of that for professional reasons). I have also never been asked about my Fair Isle jumpers, or my Topman quilted jackets, or my shearling collared leather biker jacket (Burberry Prorsum).

    So what's the big deal? Why is everyone so judgmental? Why is this article stirring up and encouraging such judgmentalism?

    And, NO, I am not "hip" because of my religious beliefs. Where did Lane get that silliness?

  • Ginger Ravenna, OH
    Oct. 31, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    "Why skirt around revelation, priesthood, redemption of the dead --all huge stories--- in favor of interviewing barely-lds fence-sitters, as if they could enlighten a reader about this church? "

    We define things by their borders. The barely-LDS are our borders. Those who are not-Mormon know where they are, those who are deeply-Mormon know where they are. The reporter is trying to tell us where Mormon stops and not-Mormon starts.

    I, and think Lane Williams, might find it more instructive to find the borders between LDS and Mormon. In the process, the readership might come to understand how Mr Romney straddles that border and how devotion to faith and devotion to myth or tradition can be starkly different.

  • Mamma C HEBER CITY, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    I agree. "Much of the writing about the church, as generous and as favorable as it seems sometimes, becomes a kind of avoidance in the end... Reporters dont seem to want to tackle the implications of LDS belief."

    Shallow media "coverage" of church members consistently skips the real stories. How about mentioning a live prophet and 12 apostles on earth today, who give the living word of God to mankind? Why skirt around revelation, priesthood, redemption of the dead --all huge stories--- in favor of interviewing barely-lds fence-sitters, as if they could enlighten a reader about this church?

  • ARR LEHI, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 11:15 a.m.

    Humor is an interesting tool that if not taken seriously can get people to dig deeper. The rattling of the religion cage has caused many to learn and find out about others. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members across the spectrum of society. Their political viewpoints vary deeply, but they do have the commonality of religion. Church members are in most occupations in the world. Weird yes and no, until recently most of the wold paused one day a week and took time to go to church. Societal values and religious values were parallel. I grew up in the time when the norm slipped. We are not a one day a week religion it is a way of life which touches every fiber of our being. To see people surfing, riding a Harley, and just having fun is to be expected. Life as an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is full of joy, service, fun, family and access to the most special place on the planet, the Temple.

  • ghanks Tacoma, Washington
    Oct. 31, 2011 10:52 a.m.

    Well said, Lane Williams, thank you!

  • Free Agency Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    Back to the beard thing: even leaving out whether Brigham Young preferred himself to be bearded or beardless . . . could Jesus have gotten into BYU unless he shaved first?

    And now for a tip to those Mormons who want to grow a beard and still look okay in church: from the very first day, shave an *outline* of the beard (cheeks and neck), and keep doing that every day thereafter. That keeps it from looking like stubble, and people's thinking you were too lazy to shave that day, or just don't care about your appearance.

  • johnbh99 Daytona Beach Shores, FL
    Oct. 31, 2011 10:26 a.m.

    I don't know about the beard talk. I see a lot of beards in church nowadays. I wore one myself for about a year and am thinking about starting it again. And, I am really young and hip . . at 75.

  • JRJ Pocatello, ID
    Oct. 31, 2011 10:08 a.m.

    Most of his life Brigham did not wear a beard. It somehow happened that the picture we associate with him is one in which he did. That isn't even the point. It is: "When the bullets start to fly, how strong is your conviction to the GOSPEL (which is way different than the church)?

  • Kevin Surrey, BC
    Oct. 31, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    The LDS church is truly a world-wide church. There are many cultural differences and traditions that have very little to do with doctrine and commandments except in cases where they are in contradiction to the doctrine and commandments. There is nothing wrong with adapting programs and procedures to reflect a growing church but the core beliefs do not change. Some may challenge that statement with the "polygamy" and "blacks and priesthood" debate but in those cases it was the Lord who made the made those decisions.

    Being a LDS is not easy sometimes but we have people from all walks of life joining the church. In my ward are people with tattoos, former gang members, former Jehovah Winesses, former drug addicts etc etc. These people have embraced the truth and are living the gospel. It is truly a church for those who are willing to follow Christ and change their lives.

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    To: Bill Freeze - Perfectly stated and as we have been taught - "it may not be easy but it will be worth it". Of this I absolutely know and count on.

  • Bill Freeze Lindon, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 9:00 a.m.

    Devoted Latter-day Saints are committed to doing God's will in all things...it's not always easy, but that's the mission and goal! - "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."- Romans 12:1

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 31, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    J-TX,

    I saw the Colbert segment and similarly thought that though it was tongue-in-cheek, it was offered in defense of our faith. I enjoyed it.

    I certainly don't think you have to be "fringe" LDS to see it that way. At least I sure hope not.

    I agree with the writer (Mr. Williams) that, in this "Mormon Moment" we can be seen as a sort of retro version of cool.

    But it is our belief, not our culture that defines us. Indeed, the LDS culture is morphing as we become more and more international. We are less likely to be from the intermountain west and more likely to be from some other part of the world.

    As people bore past the culture and into the belief, most will tire quickly (faith is too demanding), some will grow hostile (because again, faith is too demanding) and a few will join with us.

    My take? Enjoy the moment. It won't last. And if Mr. Romney should be elected, we may find ourselves in a very different Mormon Moment (as political criticism inevitably turns negative and commentators try to find the roots of a new president's "flaws").

  • Ginger Ravenna, OH
    Oct. 31, 2011 8:39 a.m.

    Good article. You are correct that mainstream media avoids serious issues such as the implications of gospel truth, but they are avoiding deep issues in politics, economics and science as well. Depth in reporting is not rewarded.
    @Scootd28: No so - This IS a culture AND it's a remarkable, life-altering truth.
    The truth is there in the gospel and in doctrine, but the culture is there in dress and grooming standards. Modesty is doctrine, dress codes are culture. Agency is doctrine, intolerance is culture. Prudence in use of food and medicine is doctrine, reversion to legal standards to determine acceptable medicine and fast food use is culture. Adherence to eternal principles is doctrine, social or political conservatism is culture.
    We need to keep always in mind that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an institution of gospel and of doctrines, but we members live in a culture that adds many layers over the doctrinal meaning when we say we are Mormon. "Mormon" is a culture, what that means in Utah or California is not the same as what it means in New York, Washington DC or Akron OH. The NYT article was about culture.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    A good article. I particularly like the point about "not wanting to tackle the implication of LDS belief". That is really the crux of much anti-Mormon sentiment whether from other religions or the media. Think about it. If some reporter was assigned to investigate the church for a story, and got a testimony, his job could be in jeopardy. As a missionary I saw the pressure when someone realized the truth and then weighed the cost to himself with family, friends, co-workers ect. It's a fifty/fifty proposition. Either the Church is true or it is not. I think many people would rather go through life not knowing. Because, if you do know, then you have obligations to God that you can otherwise ignore. Life is easier that way for them, especially in this growing secular/cynical culture.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Oct. 31, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    I have noticed more members sporting tatoos, and the unshaven look on more and more. In each generation there is an attempt on the part of some to be a Latter-day Saint while blending in with the in-crowd. I mean, as long as you don't actually do the big sins, its okay and you get to run with the pack - all at the same time.

    Some are even successful, for a time, but time catches up.

    Its not easy being a "peculiar" person. But in the long run, its the only rewarding lifestyle that I've seen. The fashions change again, as do the grooming styles, and when they do, many are tossed out with the trash and left to wonder, what happened? and Where is my family, where are my friends? Stick to what works; what has always worked.

  • Free Agency Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 8:03 a.m.

    I certainly agree that it would be a terrible thing for a Mormon to forsake Mormon values such as honesty, compassion, treating one's body as a temple--and replace them with "hip" things like getting drunk, doing drugs, sleeping around, living expediently rather than consciously.

    And certainly it's no surprise that people like Steven Colbert would find a lot to laugh about in staying true to "out of fashion" values.

    But the New York Times article was making a different point: many of these young Mormons want to express their individuality, apart from the one-size-fits-all dictums of the Church "suits."

    For instance, what's the problem with having a beard? The problem is "it doesn't look good"--according to *someone else's* viewpoint. And that's where the great Mormon doctrine of free agency comes in. Bravo to those young (and maybe not so young) Mormons who are exercising it.

    I'm sure I'm not the first to point out the great irony: that Brigham Young could never have been admitted to the school named for him, until he either got a very close shave--or proved he had ultra-sensitive skin.

  • thrutheeyesoflove O\'Fallon, IL
    Oct. 31, 2011 7:58 a.m.

    Mr. Williams, I think you said it just right---Nibley would approve!

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Oct. 31, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    I have to disagree with you on the Colbert segment. I, and most of the "fringe" LDS I associate with who watch Colbert regularly saw it as a repectful, if tongue-in-cheek, nod to the Mormons and Mitt Romney specifically (nice hair). I think he was saying that there are plenty of things about religion that are hard to believe - thus the need for FAITH. And I believe he is indeed a devout Catholic, even if he pokes fun at its own history and politics at times.

    I agree however, in large part, with your take on the Times article.

  • the_narrator claremont, ca
    Oct. 31, 2011 7:38 a.m.

    That you have to assume that those interviewed have left Church activity shows just how much you are ingrained in the generally stodgy Church culture. Is it that hard for you to believe that Mormons with long hair, beards, tattoos, so-called "immodest" clothing, etc., can also be active members as well.

    Furthermore, Colbert is a devout and practicing Catholic. His point was neither that both religious groups believe in revelation, nor that all believes are just silly. Rather, his point--which should be evident to any religious believer--is that regardless of one's faith, in our modern age every founding religious narrative /seems/ silly, regardless of their validity. If a Latter-day Saint doesn't think that the stories of a boy receiving buried golden plates from a dead Native American that he translates with rocks he used to find buried treasure doesn't seem prima facie silly, then that Mormon lacks the ability of reflective thought.

  • M. Matchette Syracuse, Utah
    Oct. 31, 2011 7:28 a.m.

    Mr. Williams, you made some great points with this piece. I would just add that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is, when you take into account how the world OF MAN is falling apart at this particular time, is quite Hip with the times we live in. Thank goodness it's message to the world hasn't changed....

  • scootd28* SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Oct. 31, 2011 7:23 a.m.

    Wonderful article, Lane. This is not a culture - it's a remarkable, life-altering truth.