Mormon culture. Utah culture. Ack. We all, even us living in Utah, sometimes cringe at the topic. Let’s be frank here, we are wierdos. I grew up in Michigan, not living the culture so much, but even there: Mormons? Strange. We’ve got strange language, strange meetings, strange rituals. To say we are peculiar really isn’t much of a stretch.
I love it. We’re strange, sure. But we are wonderful. We make casseroles for each other (and who doesn’t love a good casserole on occasion?), we have meetings to share our feelings with each other. We clean our own church building, we sing about magical apricot trees. We really believe that God loves us, and wants us to be happy. We talk about sighting octogenarian General Authorities as if we were sighting rock stars. Our culture is wildly vibrant and dynamic.
My Stake President has been really pressing us recently about being covenant people. He has spoken many times recently about shrugging off this culture and living the gospel because we have covenanted to do so. I think maybe he’s responding to some cultural ease here in Utah. Here, there’s some seriously good peer pressure. Would you see me outside washing my car on Sunday? Not a chance. So, am I keeping the Sabbath day holy, or just responding to peer pressure? You can see his point.
I’ve been pondering my activity in the church lately. Not in the “should I leave the church” sense, but in the way I perceive our Stake President wants us to. Do I respond to a request for casseroles, teaching, or scrubbing toilets at the church because I am a truly converted disciple of Christ? Or do I do it because my neighbor is the one who called to ask me?
These cultural norms are so defining for LDS women. That very word however — defining — also equates to another word: limiting. Are we limited by the definition we have created for ourselves? And really, sometimes don’t you wonder where the culture ends and the gospel begins?
I’ve heard heated arguments about whether a young man could pass the sacrament if he wasn’t in a white shirt. I’ve heard similar discussions about the proper way to take the sacrament, approach the podium, and arrange the speaking order of a sacrament meeting. Come on, you know you’ve heard it, too.
CULTURE? I really don’t profess to know. What do you think? What do you do to extract yourself from the culture of your ward/branch to move toward being a covenant person?