In the Village: Orson Scott Card: Mormon world is a small one

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  • Deb
    Sept. 2, 2008 12:19 a.m.

    I have been reading about the non-welcoming folks in Utah, hhmm. I'm non-LDS person who previously lived in Utah, and now lives near a California Temple. When I have stopped by the visitor center and used the ancestry tools, there's quick familiarity and chatting with whomever is around - due to my Utah connection!

  • Blain
    Aug. 2, 2008 4:46 a.m.

    Mouse --

    You can disprove an absolute hypothesis with a single counter example, but the absolute hypothesis is the one you're presenting. That's called a Straw Man argument, and it's another logical fallacy. You will not find anywhere in LDS scripture the claim that priesthood leaders are perfect, without flaw or sin. In fact, if you look, you will see D&C 121, which says that it is the nature of almost all men (not excepting LDS leaders) that, as soon as they obtain authority as they understand it that they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion, along with prophets from Jonah to the brother of Jared to Joseph Smith being chastised for making bad choices. We don't claim perfection.

    I'm not buying into your double-standard for a second. You're no one I'm accountable to for my sinful nature, and I've not harmed you in any way. That "one mistake or sin by a leader" standard disqualifies every Church, denomination or sect, as well as every individual in them. Nobody is perfect.

    Now, step away from the caps-lock key and take a deep breath. Maybe even check out a book on informal logic, so you can avoid these fallacies.

  • Anoni-Mouse
    Aug. 1, 2008 9:23 p.m.


    When Jesus said "by their fruits ye shall know them" he meant EXACTLY that God's people will produce more or better fruits! He was warning His followers how to distinguish false PROPHETS from TRUE Prophets. Prophets speak for God (in the name of God) as the leaders of RELIGIONS. Thus, anyone claiming to speak in the name of God is to be judged by their fruits, which MUST be more and better than those who are FALSE prophets over FALSE churches.

    As such, ANY unrighteous fruit of ANY LDS Church leader (including LAY Leaders who claim to hold Gods priesthood and speak in the name of God) proves they are FALSE prophets in a FALSE organization.

    Since you bring up statistical significance, remember that an hypothesis can be falsified with ONE counter example. Statistical significance only applies to the probability of numbers SUPPORTING the hypothesis, not falsifying it. Therefore, all it takes is ONE mistake or sin by an LDS leader (including local lay leaders) to DISPROVE Mormonism.

    BTW, look back at YOUR earlier post. YOU are one of the rude Mormons! Im not Mormon. Being obnoxious is not a sin for me. But it IS for you!

  • Not LDS
    Aug. 1, 2008 9:09 p.m.

    momons dominate,

    I have observed the exact same phenomenon. What really bothers me, however, is the three specific times when I was interviewing for a job with companies based in Utah and I was asked in the interview if I was LDS! They literally used that question as a screening device so they could make discriminating judgments about whom they hire! I don't know what to do about that. I feel like it is illegal and I ought to be able to do something. But what?

  • mormons dominate
    Aug. 1, 2008 6:20 p.m.

    I recently returned to Utah from a trip to Nevada. Once again I was made aware of how Mormons dominate much of Utah. In Nevada, so far as I know, I dealt with no one who was overtly Mormon. They were people whose religious beliefs were private and not something they paraded and flaunted for all to see. Here back in Utah, my interactions are with people who use religion (as in the only TRUE religion) as a way of determining how they are going to interact with you: if you are part of the TRUE religion then they will accept you, however if you are part of THE CHURCH OF THE DEVIL (any religion that is not Mormon) then they treat you however they choose, ignoring you or even worse. . .

  • Blain
    Aug. 1, 2008 11:24 a.m.

    Okay, one last pass, and then I'm done.

    Saying "by their fruits ye shall know them" doesn't mean that God's people will produce more or better fruits. It doesn't say "because they'll be the very best." It just says you can know them by what their fruits are. I'm willing to stipulate that not everyone who is a member of the Church is necessarily a good example of God's people -- I've known many who aren't. This does not discredit the Gospel taught by the LDS Church in any fashion. The validity of the Church isn't to be found in selecting groups of members as good or bad examples.

    The number of Mormons you know of in your life isn't statistically significant. Neither is the number of Mormons I've known in mine. Your observation of the Holy Ghost is interesting, but doesn't even attempt to address my experiences with the Holy Ghost, so it is far from persuasive to me.

    I'm sorry Mormons have been obnoxious to you. I'm not sure you've got a moral high ground to point fingers -- you have no problem being obnoxious and disrespectful to people who've never harmed you in any way.

  • Anoni-Mouse
    Aug. 1, 2008 8:38 a.m.


    If Mormons are human beings subject to the same stupidity as anybody else, their fruits are no better than anybody else. Jesus said, By their fruits we can know if people are of God.

    The only thing they have a monopoly on is priesthood. Every Christian Church with which I am familiar has a priesthood. There is nothing unique about the LDS priesthood.

    it remains to be established that Mormons are, on average, any more so than the average population.
    Not for me. That was firmly established after my [LDS] wife and I moved among Mormons 10 years ago. The difference between Mormons and gentiles is the difference between night and day!

    The reason to join the LDS Church is because you've received a witness of its truth through the Holy Ghost. I have observed that the Holy Ghost is a figment of the LDS imagination coupled with gross superstition, wishful thinking and simple-mindedness. It is not possible for the same God to be the source of the disparate nonsense LDS people claim.

    Following the teachings of the Church gives them no reason to think they are better than anybody else outside the Church. What a joke.

  • Blain
    Aug. 1, 2008 1:32 a.m.


    I think you might want to put that thing down before you put somebody's eye out. You're whipping your reasoning around way too quickly. Let's slow it down:

    1. Mormons are human beings, and are subject to the same stupidity as anybody else. The only thing they have a monopoly on is priesthood as they understand it. Although some are insular, intolerant and xenophobic, it remains to be established that Mormons are, on average, any more so than the average population.

    2. The reason to join the LDS Church is because you've received a witness of its truth through the Holy Ghost. If you haven't had that witness, you shouldn't join, even if you think the people are nice and you like green jello.

    3. Mormons are peculiar, both in the sense of "weird" and in the sense of "owned" (OED is your friend). Following the teachings of the Church tends to make people better than they would be without, but gives them no reason to think they are better than anybody else outside the Church. I have a long way to go before I will have reason to look down on anybody.

    4. We're not going anywhere, sorry.

  • Charity
    Aug. 1, 2008 12:02 a.m.

    I'm sorry, Anoni-Mouse, that your experiences have left you feeling so bitter. I hope that charity, the true love of Christ, will fill your heart and it will soften towards others.

  • Anoni-Mouse
    July 31, 2008 10:30 p.m.


    I thought Mormons were ABOVE other people. I thought Mormons lived a higher standard. I thought Mormons were a "peculiar people".

    But here now you are saying they are no different than anyone else.

    OK, then why should anyone want to change from their current religion to join one that is no better?

    But if you claim to have some special revelation or truth, but you are still no different than other people, why would anyone want to be among a bunch of insincere people who don't live up to what they claim?

    No matter how you slice it, there's no getting away from the fact that the Mormon Church is just a "small" social club filled with people who are no different than any other people. So they have nothing unique to offer. Ignore them and perhaps they will go away.

  • To Anonymous @ 5:13
    July 31, 2008 9:58 p.m.

    Of course I'm not saying it's a good thing "because everyone else does it". That WOULD be illogical. My point (which I thought was clear) was that it's not JUST Mormons who do it. It's human nature to want to be comfortable, whether that's physical, emotional, etc. It's also human to focus on oneself. It takes discipline and hard work, most of the time, for people to get out of their box and look for opportunities to serve and welcome others into their group sincerely.

    My response to Mickey Mouse was attempting to point out that his diatribe was judgemental and prejudiced, not that it's okay to be that way. Gees.

    (By the way, I didn't attend BYU.)

  • What?
    July 31, 2008 9:40 p.m.

    What's the "Wilkinson Center"?

  • Zion, wonderful Zion
    July 31, 2008 7:06 p.m.

    I live in Saint George and the ward has been good to us since we moved in a couple of years ago.
    I have always noticed in Utah if you want a big welcome, go to another denomination. They welcome the poor, the old, the unmarried parent, ect. Just like the LDS wards/branches in the mission field.
    In my ward I'm a bit out of place because I don't have anywhere the knowledge of the gospel as my fellow ward members.
    I love the Utah LDS ward members. If I was to point fingers then I would have to acknowledge how many fingers were pointing at myself.
    I love my Saint George ward (I think you got that).
    I go about once a month. My fault. I find it hard to sit for 3 hours or so.
    We get a large amount of spiritual uplift from BYU television stations. There are 2 available to us here on cable.
    I sat in Costco today and saw the gospel in action. Lots of loving, happy families with lots of babies.
    You don't see that everywhere.

  • Anonymous
    July 31, 2008 5:13 p.m.

    To Gees,

    So what are you saying? That being exclusive and insular and arrogant is a GOOD THING for Mormons to do because everyone else does it too?

    Do they teach anything resembling logic and reason in the LDS Church or BYU?

    Apparently not.

  • Ken Burke
    July 31, 2008 4:49 p.m.

    As I was reading the article I thought it was a great read, but a little on the "light" side, until I got to the last line, "We are all only a few degrees of separation away from someone who has seen the face of God."

    What a powerful message!!! I assume he had the last sentence in mind all along. He probably knew that people like me would read merrily along and then get caught off guard with a very profound thought. I have met those who have seen the face of God - one degree of seperation.

    p.s. to Scott - You know my cousin and she isn't even a member, just a Carolinian

  • Gees, Mickey Mouse
    July 31, 2008 2:57 p.m.

    You could say that about any neighborhood, anywhere, where there were well established groups. Have you ever moved into an area (not Mormon) that was already well established with a majority of some kind, whether that majority was determined by race, creed, religion, family, whatever? I have, and I've been greeted sometimes, ignored others, and other times downright descriminated against because I was different from that core group in some way. Throwing out that kind of hate speech just at Mormons just shows your own closedminded prejudice.

  • I like being in a "small world."
    July 31, 2008 1:13 p.m.

    We have an ongoing joke in our family that we can't travel somewhere without seeing someone we know. My husband especially is always running into someone he knows (from church or work) even in hotels or airports in foreign countries!

    As to the comment about not being able to assemble a rescue party now days... They could here in Texas! Last year our youth did a "Trek" and during it the temperature dropped to below freezing with snow flurries. (Yes, I know that may not sound bad to most of you but this IS Texas.) Anway, the leaders called a few people in the Stake to request more blankets for the trekkers. Calls went out to Wards and when we took our blankets to the church about an hour after being called I was in tears when I saw a huge landscaping trailer (at least 15 ft long and with full sides) overflowing with blankets and coats. They couldn't even fit our blankets. Not that giving blankets is a huge sacrifice but people responded immediately with what was needed. The youth (and leaders) were delighted with the "rescue" delivery!

  • PJH
    July 31, 2008 12:36 p.m.

    All I can say is ditto ditto - hey lets start an "outcast mormon members" group! Moved here a year ago and still have not had any visiting teachers... decided to stay home a few months and low and behold people are dropping by - seems only the "less-active" get visits - and only so the numbers will go up and the ward will get more budget money. Sheesh.

  • Missouri Dad
    July 31, 2008 11:49 a.m.

    Wards and branches vary in temperament and turnover rate. My wifes home ward, near an air force base, saw frequent comings and goings. The rural Cache Valley ward we lived in for 6 years had a large core nucleus of permanent residents. No matter where we lived, we often felt that the older members we referred to them as The Old Guard - were more inclusive of outsiders than their children, who were our peers. I believe that true hospitality is a gift of the spirit (Hebrews 13:2) which fewer and fewer people these days seek to cultivate. As I viewed the Nauvoo Pageant Saturday evening, I was deeply moved by the opening scene. Accompanied by a stirring arrangement of, Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise, the residents of Nauvoo greeted the arriving riverboat passengers with open arms and true Christian love. The dramatic representation may have been idealized, but the sentiments expressed were not. The next morning, in Sacrament Meeting, I saw my fellow ward members through more charitable eyes. To paraphrase President Grant, the nature of their characters hadnt changed but my ability to see them as Christ sees them had increased.

  • Blain
    July 31, 2008 11:46 a.m.

    It's interesting to me that we have a blame-the-victim approach when someone complains that others aren't reaching out to them. I was raised in the Utah Culture, and moved out of it when I started high school. It's better for me to not be too into the Utah situation -- we don't get on very well for very long.

    I'm pretty well established in my non-Jello-belt ward, and have a fair number of friends, but it's been very rare to be invited to dinner -- my house is too small to invite families with children. So I'm preparing to offer to bring dinner to the homes of folks in the ward, where I'll bring a roast, potatoes, vegetables and make gravy if they'll let me come and provide whatever else is needed. It's not like this will make them think I'm any weirder than I am, and if they say no, I've not really lost anything.

    I would encourage people to be the people Scott's talking about. If you feel alone in your ward, find those who also feel alone, and be alone together. Reach out, and see who reaches back.

  • Mickey Mouse
    July 31, 2008 11:13 a.m.

    Yes, Orson, the Mormon world IS a small one.

    But is that really a GOOD thing? I don't think so.

    Most people in that small world are insulated, naive, paranoid, harboring a persecution complex, arrogant, ignorant, bigoted, intolerant, practicing nepotism and playing favorites (corrupt), egocentric, ethnocentric, judgmental, hateful, cliqueish, racist and sexist, and brainwashed. They could be used as living props in the Small World ride at Dysneyland and nobody would notice!

  • Cat
    July 31, 2008 11:04 a.m.

    To Wow Sad - I am so glad that you have had nothing but great experiences. I would think that it was us too except for the fact that others in our ward who are not related have said the same thing and our last three wards we fit in just fine. It was really hard to leave them and the last one we were only there two years. When we moved in to the ward we live in now our neighbors watched us move in from their front porches. Not one came over to even say hi. Yes we're a bit standoffish now, but when you've been beatdown so many times it just what happens. I could give examples, but there just isn't enought room. I know not all Utah wards are like this. My parents ward in the next city over is so not like this. I even had my daughter attend some of their activites for awhile and they were so sad to see her go when we decided that it would be better to attend our own ward stuff.

  • Tracy Hall Jr
    July 31, 2008 10:39 a.m.

    Thanks, Brother Card, for summing up your interesting article reference to the few degrees of separation that we have from God through the prophet Joseph Smith.

    Many years ago I was privileged to visit Lethe Tatge (movie: The Mailbox, 1977) at her home in Midway Utah, where she shook hands with us and our children so that we could each say that we had shaken the hand of a lady who had shaken the hand of a man who had shaken the hand of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    She recounted the story of her great grandfather giving her this personal connection to the prophet in "Joseph Smith: The Man," in the Church History Collection DVD that is available from Distribution Services.

    We each have, of course, been invited, yes, even commanded to reduce the number of degrees of separation between us and God to zero.


  • to wow sad
    July 31, 2008 10:11 a.m.

    Everything I said was true! I saw it with own eyes! What you say speaks truth to the self centerness of you I saw this family move in to a ward in Ut from another state and no one came to help them. NO ONE came over to see them. They went to Church yes people said Hi! but no came to see if they needed anything or just a Welcome to the neighborhood. This family is at fault because they moved into a ward of self-centered Mormons?

  • Wow Sad...
    July 31, 2008 9:33 a.m.

    I don't believe a word you said. We have moved from Utah to NoCal to SoCal and back to Utah. We have lived in 5 wards in 8 years and it's all the same. We have never had problems being left out. Usually if you feel left out, it's your own fault.

  • kathyn
    July 31, 2008 9:08 a.m.

    I have always thought that if you can be good Mormon in Utah, you can be one anywhere. Unfortunately, there are too many Mormons who embrace the faith out of tradition rather than true spiritual conviction. Having said that, I still love my ward and think they are some of the finest people in the world. No, I don't socialize with most of them and I'm not included in a lot of the activities, but nevertheless I feel the Spirit so strong there and I'm grateful to be there to experience that.

    As LDS, we need to make a better effort to broaden our efforts and make sure all feel welcome and included. The GA keep stressing this, so I know they are well aware of the problem.

    The church is made up of imperfect people doing the best they can, for the most part.

  • sad
    July 31, 2008 9:09 a.m.

    I'm sad to say "anonymous" is right. If Prisdent B.Young had called today for help, the Martin Handcrart company would have all died for want of help! I know a family who moved into a Ward in Utah and no one came to help or even offer a plate of cookies, to welcome them, and they are very good members of the LDS Church with 6 kids a working dad and stay at home mom trying live the ideal. I love the LDS President Monson, I wonder what he would do if he knew what's going on (or not going on)in the wards? I know I could never live in Utah' the people are so mean and self-centered. All the negative things people say about the Mormons is true! I saw it first hand. SAD

  • Cat
    July 31, 2008 8:16 a.m.

    Hey Anonymous - do you live in my ward?

  • Anonymous
    July 31, 2008 7:59 a.m.

    Isn't it nice to experience what Brother Card is describing here.

    Now imagine being in a ward for over 7 years, attending "religiously" every week, but still being unrecognized and unseen. Nobody invites you over for dinner to "get to know you". Your home teachers rarely visit and when they do it is "quick and dirty" just to get the job done. The Ward is filled with long-time families who select their relatives and friends for callings, so you go without a calling for 5 years. One or two people say a superficial "Hi" as you pass them in Church once in a while.

    That is how my life has been in a Ward in UTAH!

  • Otis Spurlock
    July 31, 2008 7:30 a.m.

    Great job!! These are the articles I hope Mr. Card continues with, instead of trying to tackle the "gay marriage" issue.

  • Cat
    July 31, 2008 7:25 a.m.

    glad to hear that other areas are friendly. My area (in the heart of Utah Mormondom) is so inter-related (family wise) that when someone who isn't related by blood or marriage moves in we are excluded. Not intentionally for the most part, but we definately don't belong. Compound this with having a different lifestyle (2 working parents and a broad range of children's ages - most people in my ward have 3-4 spanning 5 years kids not 6 spaning 15 years), after 13 years, we just don't fit in. Yes we've tried. We've done all the callings and social events to try and fit in. Now we're just tired. No, they aren't mean to us, they're just not inclusive. We always feel like we're on the fringe. BTW - we're not the only one, others who have left have said that same thing. We just can't afford to move.

  • Middle East Mormon
    July 31, 2008 5:05 a.m.

    We have many similar experiences confirming the small world of Mormonism. We lived in Jakarta Indonesia when Orson came to speak at our kids school. We have now lived and gone to church in Doha and Abu Dhabi. We got the Arabian Peninsula covered for him. We are confident we'll have a new set of friends whereever we move next.