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Is Good Pioneer Stock Better than Other Kinds of Stock?

Today’s guest post is from the fabulous Kacy Faulconer. Kacy blogs at Every Day I Write the Book and is one of the featured bloggers at the new and delicious Light Refreshments Served. Thanks Kacy!

As a member of a worldwide church with lots of converts, surely you know the answer to this. Of course people with pioneer heritage aren’t better than other people! That just can’t be true. And yet . . . I kind of think some people do believe this.

Just so there will be no questions, I come from good pioneer stock—even somewhat “famous” pioneer stock. (Is it the suffering our the dying that makes a pioneer famous? Hard to say.) My husband, technically, doesn’t. I wish I could say that I’m more committed, spiritual, hearty, long-suffering, strong, or good at walking, but I’m not. And I know plenty of pioneer descendants that are rude, fat, depressed, boring, lazy, and inactive. So what does it mean to come from good pioneer stock? It is certainly an advantage to have a heritage of commitment in your family. But there are all kinds of commitment.

I’ve been thinking about this since I heard the most moving and sincere talk I’ve heard for a very long time. A man who married his high school sweetheart and never went on a mission gave it in Sacrament Meeting a few weeks ago. I hate to admit that while I never actually articulated any kind of prejudice against him, subconsciously I may not have considered him a real spiritual heavyweight. Do you know what I mean? I think I just made myself sound like a jerk. Really, I’m not—I come from good pioneer stock, remember? Anyway, their family has quite a story of conversion and commitment which was very moving and inspiring—just as inspiring as eating shoe leather. It gave me pause.

Even though I do, technically, come from good pioneer stock, I grew up in a partially active family. Those of us who were active were very active and I felt really normal. I was surprised when a friend of mine mentioned that his mother warned him not to marry me because of my family. Would you warn you sons against me? That makes me feel bad. I thought I was a pretty good catch.

On a different but strangely related side note, my recent involvement in boundary changes within our school district has made me aware or some other hierarchies. It is surprising (and frankly pretty racist) to hear real people in the year 2008 say “we don’t want them here” or “we wouldn’t be caught dead there.” It’s so weird! I always thought there weren’t really any bad parts of town in Provo. I sort of wish there were because then it would be more like TV. As it turns out, there are bad parts of town—or at least, less good. It kind of surprised me to realize that that some of my friends in high school maybe thought they were slumming by hanging out with me. They probably thought I was really poor!

But the thing is, everyone can’t live on the east end of town. And even if we could, there would still be people in Salt Lake who think we’re hicks no matter where we live in Utah County. And frankly, if you live anywhere halfway decent in California you probably think you’re better than any of us here in Utah. So you can’t win. I say—why buy into it?

64 thoughts on “Is Good Pioneer Stock Better than Other Kinds of Stock?”

  1. So here's a question: Does my coming from good pioneer stock (that was at least, what one eccentric old book-seller observed one time, based merely on the look of my nine-month pregnant hips) somehow compensate for the fact that I am a west-side girl?

  2. I completely agree – why buy into it? You can't pick where you are born and what family you are born into. I would like to call the mom of that kid and mention to her that "Kacy's Family" was also my family, and that it was because of Kacy and her mom (my step-mom for anyone that reads this comment) that I am even an active member of the Church today. And I am a 5th generation member of the Church on THREE sides of my family! Talk about pioneer stock!

  3. I have been saddened many many times by friends of mine who participate in "white flight," or pull their kids out of the neighborhood school because there are too many minorities (read Mexicans). I don't believe in that whatsoever. (Is nonracist stock better than racist stock?)

  4. We have that here is SF too….we're known as "flatlanders".
    I have to admit, I have some of the reverse thinking going on….I think the "uplanders" are hilarious!
    I find it seriously funny when one elevates herself above another.
    It probably isn't funny, but that's how I deal with it.

    In the end…..when you're sick and/or old and someone's changing your diaper: you stink just as bad as I do.

  5. I have big issues with Pioneer Day talks in church because of the ancestor worship that goes on. And the subtle message truly is: those of us from pioneer stock are a little better than the rest of you commoners who converted, and we are thereby entitled to more spiritual blessings and leadership callings. I know the gospel at its core rejects this message, but seeing the number of GA's who are related, I wonder. That said, all organizations and communities have "we were here first" tendencies.

  6. Interesting. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. All the ways we categorize each other and ourselves. So I had this idea last week – all these thoughts we have about each other, they are narrow, shriveling thoughts. We get smaller inside, less able to reach out to others. The opposite attitude is a "generosity of spirit." Kind of like my heart is wide open, reaching out, letting good feelings wash over people and cover up all the things that might divide us.

    I know a few much older (60, 70, 80 years old) women like this. When they're in the room, people gravitate towards them, until there's a crowd of people just waiting to be smiled at and listened to, to be loved.

    I wish I was like these women. In fact, that's my goal – to be a fabulous, warm, loving, forgiving, generous 80-year-old! 🙂

  7. Angie–a worthy goal. I have the same hopes.

    I can honestly say that nothing has disillusioned and disheartened me more than hearing "I don't want my kids going to school with those kids," come out of the hearts and mouths of "my people." (And by that I mean sister Latter-day Saints.)

  8. If I have the data right, most generations since our pioneer heritage began became less active; their children were baptized late and often only marginally active. We're the first active generation for a long time (starting with my Mom, baptized as a teen). Does that mean I come from bad pioneer stock?

    I get sad and/or irritated by this subject–I mean, by the realities of how we separate ourselves. We live in a poor part of town, and funny enough, my Mexican friend sends her son to a "better" school on the other side of town. Our "poor" school is supposedly fantastic, great teachers, programs, etc.

    On the other hand, I have worried about moving into an upscale neighborhood and sending our kids to a snobby rich school. That's a bad attitude, too, right?

    I really like what you said, Angie, about generosity of spirit.

  9. Sweet! No registration. So first off, no pioneers in my heritage. Second, the whole East Side mentality is what I refer to as retardation. When we have friends come over to the 'West Side' they complain that it's like driving off the face of the earth. Well guess what? Me driving to your house is the same distance. I don't care about location. I care about what's right for me and my family. It's because of this attitude that East Siders have stereo-typed themselves as stuck up snobs. Get over yourself and your location, nobody cares but you.

    btw, I appear to be the only man commenting here.

  10. Ok, so I might not be the only one who doesn't get the west side/east side conflict (I thought it was a rap issue…). But, I get the general idea.

    I remember being in college and having a roommate from the giant metropolis of Meadow Utah, comment that she wouldn't want to marry a certian, very handsome, man in our student ward b/c then her children's grandparents wouldn't be members. The boy in question was a convert. My dad is a convert, so of course I thought that was weird. At my other grandparents church we got to wear shorts and they played the electric guitar. At the time, that was WAY better than LDS church… anyway, like I said, she was from a small town and her mom had a baby the year she came to college (and she had 3 or 4 older siblings)… now I am the one who is sterotyping.

    As the mother of some of "those kinds of people" it does make me sad to think that this happens even in Provo. We live in SF and have not had issues of racism here too much. I thought that if we moved to Utah it would be the same,not worse…..

    BTW… I challenge anyone who complains about the south side of Provo to take a walk in the south side of Chicago, or LA. They have NO idea what a bad area is….

  11. Kacy should write everyday! You bring up great points. I'm from Pioneer stock on all sides, and it was a bonus when I got engaged that my husband's family knew my family, but I never felt it was more than that (luckily). I've always felt that my ancestor's really had to fight for faith, security, their families, and I have it pretty easy. New converts seem to have this great story to begin. . . maybe I watch too much tv. But I had to get over a "Utah-Mormon" bias that I had for a long time. Now I'm comfortable with the fact that we're all weird.

    I, too, have been really surprised by the reaction of LDS people in the Provo School District. My mother taught school in North Carolina during the forced desegregation and "white flight" was happening all around her. My hat's off to her for teaching all kids and having her baby (me!) in the "non-white" hospital. That's a heritage I'm proud of.

  12. Ammon–we get to hear from the tenors and basses occasionally here at Segullah and we love it. You are welcome any time.

    bek–I have to clarify that it depends on the part of Provo. At my son's high school graduation both the student body president and the senior class president spoke and they are both female and minorities. The attitudes I've noticed have mostly been about disadvantaged kids–of any race–but it still breaks my heart. I have friends I dearly love who moved from west to east because they were convinced their kids would get better test scores. I'm staying where I am because I really don't care about test scores. I want my kids to learn to love and embrace people from all walks of life. That scores way more points in my book.

  13. I guess the answer to that depends on where you live. Go east and you will find that the further you go the less currency being of good pioneer stock has.

  14. This is sort of a tangent, but it really irks me when the lds realtor commercials come on after/before conference. The suggestion that using a LDS realtor will help you get into the "right" ward repulsive to me.

    I thought because I live in an area where Mormons are a serious minority, that people would not buy into the good ward/ bad ward stuff. And yet there are folks who put their houses up for sale with the last round of boundary changes. They are moving away from the minority and urban areas/wards.

    I used to think it was because everyone (in the south) was racist, but I actually think it is more of a class issue (too little money, too many people who need compassionate service … means too much work for the stronger, wealthier saints).

    oooh. i could rant all day on this topic (I'm totally one of those people who judges those in big houses and nice cars, so the pendulum does swing in both directions)

  15. What in the world does your pioneer heritage have to do with anything? Really! Reading this makes me glad I don't live in Utah. Do people really judge each other based on their ancestors? Can we get more ridiculous? I am not even going to tell you if I have pioneer ancestors or not because I would not want you judging me one way or the other based on that information.
    East/West? Whatever, I am not from Utah so I have not idea what you are talking about. How about how everyone in Utah thinks they are better than members of the church elsewhere? Can I tell you how much it makes me cringe when I hear people call any area outside of Utah "the mission field?" Guess what? The church is thriving and strong outside of Utah.

  16. The separation reminds me of the contrast to 4 Nephi where there were no -ites.

    That said, I do think there can be a time and place to consider someone's family, such as when considering marriage…just because when you marry someone, you marry a family and you want to be sure that you are willing to take on whatever the family situation is.

    For example, I dated a guy whose dad was a full-on anti. I loved this man, and would have married him had it felt right, but in a way I'm glad that my children's grandfather isn't someone wanting to send them letters and make comments that try to convince them the Church isn't true. I loved his family, but that would have been a hard situation.

    Or is it wrong to want to live on the 'better' side of town to have better schools, safer environment, etc.? I dunno…I think there are times when honest evaluation of situations for the safety and well-being of one's family may not be out of line. I dunno. I don't think there are always easy answers.

    So while I'm all for not 'buying into' categories and separations that divide us, I don't think it's always inappropriate to consider others' family situations when it truly might have a direct impact on one's life…rare though those situations are.

  17. I have two minds about it (the pioneer stock part, that is — I'm fully with all of you on the wealth/race part of it).

    Presumably you're raising your children in the gospel at least partially because you believe they will be better people than they would be if they grew up without the gospel. Didn't Grandma and Grandpa Pioneer believe the same thing? Did their descendants profit nothing from being raised in the gospel? If they did, then logically, yes, having pioneer stock may be better than having some other kind … as long as the individual lives up to the advantage she started with.

    On the other hand, the Lord says it doesn't matter what time the worker comes to the vineyard. The new one who shows up during the last hour of the day and goes to work with all her might will receive the same reward as the one who showed up at the crack of dawn and worked all through the day. Under that scenario — the one I really support — an early start is of no particular value and a later start is no disadvantage to us, the Master of the Vineyard being satisfied with the terms He set.

    (I'm kind of tickled to have early pioneers on my mother's side and to have witnessed my convert father's baptism — I get to claim the best of all worlds. I don't know how I would ever have found the gospel on my own and have endless admiration for those who do.)

  18. So I'm Kacy's husband who is not from pioneer stock and yet Pioneer Day is my favorite holiday because I believe that I have a pioneer heritage regardless of what my genealogy says. I should say that I recognize that it may seem very Utah centric to be so excited about Pioneer Day, but I think everyone who is LDS should be excited about Pioneer Day. And if you're one of those who isn't excited about Pioneer Day, then please come to my BBQ on the 24th of July and if you still don't want to celebrate our mutual pioneer heritage then I will be disappointed and a little surprised.

    One more (Provo-centric) point: I'm a proud west-sider who grew up not knowing that having an E or a W after your street number made any difference. I still don't believe that it does and it makes me nervous when people with E's or W's in their address classify people or neighborhoods based on something so insignificant. I think we have to be just as careful not to accuse one group of being snobs as we are not to accuse the other group as being less in some way.

  19. My brother is on his mission out in Oklahoma, and he says the members won't talk to him when they find out he's from Utah. He is spending 2 years of his life to teach people the Gospel, and it would be nice if the members would be more supportive. But they think because they don't live in Utah they are better than the poor people in the Utah bubble.

    It's the same church, people. And while my ancestors go back to the Mayflower, and I'm proud of them, I don't go around wearing a t-shirt that says my ancestors are better than yours. In fact, I don't know anyone who does.

  20. Isn't it missing the point of this post to say that "everyone in Utah thinks they are better than members of the church elsewhere"? I thought this was about NOT stereotyping??

  21. I get really irked about the whole Utahn/not-Utahn thing. I'm a California transplant in Utah. I didn't come because I thought it would be some kind of Utopia. I don't have any plans to stay here forever. But I do enjoy living so close to dh's family and I also enjoy being so close to the mountains and dessert. And while I'm here, I try to not take for granted some of the blessings of being in Utah.

    I'd never heard the term "mission field" until I came to Utah. Some of my family looks down on Utah Mormons, and I think I've become lumped into that label to them. I don't think it has to matter.

    Once I heard a fellow say that he thought people could grow stronger spiritually by going to the U than the Y, because of the opposition that is there. I think we've got opposition no matter where we live, and that the Lord won't rob us of opportunities for growth because we attend one school or another. There are perks and difficulties to every town and state.

    It's so interesting how it can go both ways. Wealthy look down on poor, poor judge the supposedly prideful wealthy.

    What is it that contributes to so much insecurity that we (people in general) need to defend ourselves against anybody different?

  22. Carly, I was typing when you comment posted–amen to what you said!

    (okay, so I've got a bee in my bonnet) 🙂

  23. This is an interesting topic. I love pioneer day. Do I have Pioneer Stock. YOU Betcha! A pioneer is one who has gone before or ventures into the unknown (taken from a couple dictionaries). My parents are therefore my pioneer heritage. They chose to venture into the unknown and join the church dispite a bit of opposition when I was 2 years old way back in the 1970's. What a trail they helped provide for our family by being faithful. The challenges they faced to be sealed as a family. The callings they've had. It's all helped make me who I am today and I wouldn't have the blessings that I do have if they hadn't done it.

    I think possibly it's all in how you view the word Pioneer.

  24. as one with a mixed pedigree (pioneer and convert)I've seen both sides- my mother a convert of 35 years still thinks she missed something because she doesn't have that pioneer background, never went to primary or seminary) (despite teaching seminary, being a primary president) yet no one I know does more acts of service!

    I did have some roommates who were big into this– the degrees of seperation from GAs (oh and Bank account size) was strongly correlated to 2nd date.

    I think unwittingly part of our culture- seep into our religionand sometimes good things- when taken too far are bad– like overripe fruit!

  25. Jame, I've lived in several places in Utah, as well as other states, and I've never known anyone to judge anyone else based on their pioneer ancestry. I've never heard of such a thing! I'll agree there is class-ism and racism alive and not-so-well here, but pioneer-ism? That's a new one to me.

    I do have a hard time with the whole "Utah Mormon" stereotype. Everybody in Utah does not think they are better than those outside. I'm just a normal person. So is pretty much everybody I know.

    I do love Pioneer Day, for very personal reasons that have only a small part to do with my ancestors. I love Pioneer Day because it is my son's birthday, and because he came to our family after a very extended and difficult journey to become parents, a journey which I often compared to a pioneer "trek". During all those years, I gained immense comfort, determination, and hope from reading about the pioneers and appreciating all their hardships. I feel it was a tender mercy from God when my long-awaited son was born on that very day, and I live up Pioneer Day! I agree with what Christian expressed, that the pioneer heritage belongs to all of us.

    When we lived in a BYU married ward, our bishop was a professor of Church History. During 1997, the Pioneer Sesquicentennial year, our bishop arranged that all talks for the first 6-8 months of the year would be on one topic: the anchors of faith in our lives. We were encouraged to talk about anything from pioneer ancestors, our own or our parents' conversion stories, other experiences that had informed our faith, or any doctrinal topic that related to this theme. It was an amazing experience to have member after member, week after week, speak on this same theme, yet all in different ways, with different life experiences and backgrounds to share. I felt it was very unifying for the ward. During this same year, our stake held a RS fireside where "pioneers", both modern and of old, were featured. Several sisters were asked to share their own stories of themselves as pioneers (some from other countries, some converts from the USA), and other sisters reeancted the stories of pioneer sisters from the early days of the Church. Everything was so inclusive and did such a great job at tying together the past and the present. I will never forget that year and the impact it had on me.

  26. People have been segregating themselves since the beginning of time. And, sometimes God intervened, doing it for us, apparently in our best interests.

    There's a Rameumptom joke here waiting to be made….As a kid we'd drive from Houston to SLC and spend a couple weeks with our cousins, and it would often correspond with Pioneer Day. My family would hear talks about pioneer heritage, and my dad and I would roll our eyes at each other, because they really did sound like a bunch of Zoramites.

  27. Any stock will do. It's great to have pioneer heritage because every member of the church benefits from the sacrifices made by pioneers. We collectively stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Our progress is largely because of them. And we have great BBQs too.

    I have felt the whole Utah/NON Utah thing. I've been both. I like both for different reasons. Not to be judgemental or anything (Ok, maybe just a little), my recent West Side Provo ward was such a fantastic ward. One ward shouldn't be better than the other…but I've moved a lot. I know which wards felt warm and welcoming and which did not.

  28. I was at BYU during the 150th anniversary of the entry into the SL Valley and for the entire year our sacrament meeting topic was to talk about a pioneer ancestor. At first, it was sort of cool, then it got lame, then, as people got creative and really expanded what their definition of a pioneer was, it got pretty interesting again.

    I have no pioneer ancestors (converted as a teenager), but my kids have oodles through my dh. And I worry that I have been tacitly teaching my kids to value my dh's pedigree more than mine. I overheard my 6yo daughter telling her primary teacher a few months ago that she was (very distantly, I might add) related to one of the current General Authorities. So do we hide it because we don't want the kids to be prideful about it? Is it really a point of pride to be a first cousin thrice removed from someone who sits on the stand during General Conference?

  29. I'm a convert. At one of the first meetings that my sexy-Mexi not yet husband dragged me to at the Single Adults Ward a girl actually introduced herself to me by saying "Hi, I'm Molly annnd I'm a direct descendant of Parley P. Pratt!!!"

    I hadn't a clue exactly who Parley P. Pratt was exactly but that didn't stop her from telling me all about her superior MO lineage.

    One of the greatest moments in my time as a member of the Church happened a few years ago when our oldest son was baptized. As a combined event with several wards we had a lot of visitors. Two of those visitors included a member of the Quorum Of The Twelve and a General Authority. The women speakers just went on and on with a lot of dramatic emphasis and leaning over the podium to talk directly to the kids getting baptized to let them know that they were so very lucky to have such big time leaders at their baptisms. I sneaked a peek over at the two men on the receiving end of all the fluster and bluster only to find that they were both "resting their eyes!" While the speakers made a focal point about the power and authority of these guys instead of talking about baptisms, the men themselves were humble, kind, and just regular folk. They even autographed brand new BOM's for all the kids in attendance. They were more Church rockstars than some unapproachable deity that they were made out to be. 🙂

  30. I do agree with jame in that this pioneer issue is largely a Utah one. My convert family was welcomed with open arms to our small branch in the the midwest. I don't think there was a pioneer discussion to be had, ever.

    Moving to Utah did certainly test my mettle on the subject, though. The Lord prepares all of us in our own ways to be strengthened in the gospel. My family's story (conveniently located in our recent issue of Segullah) is exactly what I needed, and prepared me in tremendous ways to accept and embrace the gospel.

    Mormon popstars — HA!

    And I've never really picked up on the east/west issue personally, only in the news and listening to Doug Fabrizio rant. I'm probably not going to apologize for living wherever I do, but just say that there are great people to be found wherever you live (like we all didn't really know that already).

  31. I'm a convert-no pioneer stock here. But I live in CA. I guess that makes up for what I lack in heritage.

    I gave a talk last year in Sacrament on pioneer heritage something. And we are all pioneers in something. It was actually a good topic for me because I learned that anyone can be a pioneer and being in primary, I was able to teach the kids that some of their parents were pioneers because they were the first to join the church.

    I love the "church rockstars"!!

  32. I was surprised to hear in General Conference the last year or two a speaker who cited that 70% of the church membership is first-generation Mormon. If a small minority of the church (less than 30%) are descendants of plain-crossing pioneers, why such a disproportionate hullabub about those distant pioneers? I think there is a disconnect between the pioneer-stock GAs and 70% of the church. Their ancestry is important to them, but less so for the newcomer. Let the newcomers latch on to their own good history.

    For full disclosure, one of my ancestors was baptized the same day as Emma in Colesville, but the kids later apostatized because of a promise Bro. Brigham made which never came to fruition.

  33. I actually have no idea if my ancestors were pioneers. There have been relatives of mine in Provo for a long time, so maybe I do.
    When I moved to Utah (Salt Lake City) six years ago my realtor and several of my friends told me we should definitely move to the East side, that people of the west side were looked down upon. All I could say to that was, "if I wanted an address with cachet I wouldn't be moving to Utah in the first place." And I promptly moved to the west side.

  34. I live in Southern California in a very diverse (read African Americans and Hispanics and a smattering of other ethnicities) community – that is the second oldest city in Los Angeles County.

    And I teach learning disabled kids at a very diverse middle school here. (The schools are actually more diverse than the community itself because a large contingent of white folks send their kids to private schools. And a large contingent of Hispanic parents send their kids to Immaculate Conception school here in town.)

    And by the way, the AME Baptist Church here is the oldest black congregation in Los Angeles.

    But that isn't why I love where I live. And I live on the "good" side of town – above Hillcrest – but that isn't why I love my community either.

    I love it for the trees and flowers and old houses that are valued and celebrated.

    And the church has been established here since the 1940's – and our building is old and vintage and cool – and we don't have to take turns cleaning it because the FM Group is maybe worried we won't do it right.

    And I actually don't come from pioneer stock either – but my husband does, so I guess my kids do.

    And I don't have anything against Pioneer Day but they aren't very imaginative about celebrating it here – usually it's a bring your own food kind of picnic.

    But we often play horseshoes.

    I'm not sure what my point is here – but it's what I thought of.

    And Kacy is my friend, so she won't mind.

    And I've never met anyone else named Dalene – I taught with a woman named Dalene who said she was named after her father and mother – Dale and Irene.

    Don't the folks in Provo have better things to worry about than East versus West? (And in LA, West is superior to East.)

  35. Moving to Utah was the biggest test to my faith because of these kinds of attitudes. It is beyond me that we are continually learning that the gospel is a gospel of love, but so many LDS make exceptions when it comes to any kind of status, be it wealth, education, race, nationality, religion, your family tree, what ever. I hope as a whole group we can be better at eliminating these separations.

  36. the East side mentality is funny to me. what is so grand about living in an ancient home with rotting pipes? I dunno, everything about the East side, at least in SLC, seems really old to me. Me, I prefer paint without the lead in it.
    A neighbor of mine in South Jordan has a hard time getting her eastside High school girlfriends to come to her home. Mind you, her home is grand and palatial, but South Jordan? Ya might as well have said Knolls, in their book.

  37. Clisty, I love the old pipes and lead paint remark! I have loved old homes, but after fixing up and worrying about lead and making sure we only consume (and cook with) tap water that's been running cold for a few seconds, I am all for newer construction.

  38. Barbara-I live in the Inland Empire. I was told after I moved here that there are signs in Orange County saying "Go home 909'ers". That would be me. Living in IE, I am a 909'er. You get East vs. West sort of thing most places I would guess. But, like you, I love where I live. I love the mountains and our new mall, and our traffic isn't as insane as the rest of the area. So I'll take the 909 stigma. 🙂

  39. Nice to "meet" you Barbara. I was named after my father, Dale. I hated the name when I was younger (people have the hardest time pronouncing it) but I have grown to love it now.

    I want to add that I really like what has been said about us all being of pioneer stock because 1). We are all blessed in so many ways by the LDS pioneers who helped settle the west and 2). regardless of our own family's church history, the people who went before us–wherever and whenever and however–were all pioneers of something.

    Also, only some people in Provo and/or Utah are like that. I'm a transplant too and I've seen a bit of everything in all the places I've lived.

    The good news? I think generally we are more evolved than were our parents. And our kids will hopefully be more evolved than we are. So my hope is we can all just play nice and be friends.

  40. So many comments, and I have piano lessons to teach all morning and don't have time to read them! But this post reminds me of an essay I had to read for comps–"Pioneers and Recapitulation in Mormon Popular Historical Expression" by Eric Eliason. It is published in a book called "Usable Pasts" edited by Tad Tuleja. Really great academic article that addresses the cultural construction of elevating pioneer stock over non-pioneer stock.

  41. I'm so glad to find this group. These are thoughts I have been having lately as we prepare to move from New York to Utah. I love it here and feel worried about what I see as excess materialism in Utah. There is not so much of that rich/poor thing here in New York about an hour north of the city (or at least I don't see it very often). We live in a mostly blue collar neighborhood, but are "white" collar people ourselves. I grew up in Ca. in a very wealthy stake and was middle myself. So, I have, like many, struggled with having good attitudes toward wealthy people. Finally,now that I'm forty, I feel I have lost my overall prejudice toward the wealthy and try to make individual judgements–only when necessary. I again live in a very wealthy stake. But people are people. As we've come to have a bit more excess myself, I see that there are many ways to use your wealth and you shouldn't judge someone by what you see they have done with their money. You never know the whole story.

    As far as pioneer stock goes. I have it, my husband doesn't. I think that I see different weaknesses and strengths in both our families. It is helpful when we learn to judge each situation separately. I have met so many good people here and remember how some of my Utah friends feel that only Mormons are good. That is a prejudice that can only be damaging.

    Anyway, thanks for listening to my long-winded post.

  42. I have way too many comments to make about this – let's just say that I really believe that the only thing we will be judged on is how we treated others. Everything else relates to that one thing.

  43. As a convert to the church, I have felt the 'I'm better than you because I grew up in the church' mentality. And not to generalize, but many of the people who act like this I've noticed have moved here to Louisiana from Utah for their residency's.

    I'm not saying all act this way, but there are definitely several that have acted like they are somehow more priveleged and blessed because they can trace their family history back to the conception of the church.

    This hurts me more than words can say, because I feel like I should apologize for not having gone to Primary or Young Women or that my family is somehow delinquent for not having FHE or having coffee in the house. BTW, Mom and Dad are still not members and I am an only child. Sometimes it feels like being isolated on an island. You don't fit in with the locals and your family doesn't understand why you're doing the things (or sacrfificing I should say) that you're doing.

    Also annoying is the fact that girls from Utah can seem a little too chipper with a ready smile and don't always understand why it's hard to be a member- they haven't lived real life like some converts I know have- including me. It's harder to stay on the straight and narrow when the only one keeping you there is yourself- not whole leagues of past generations frowning down on you.

    As for the moving to be in a better area, I can completely sympathise since being here in New Orleans, every other block or two puts you in the ghetto. In order to get a good education, you have to find the charter schools or pay out the wazoo for private schools to keep your kids away from gangs, drugs and violence.

    More and more mexican immigrants are moving here to the city and are not bothering to learn to speak English and several have been in the news here lately as escaped criminals that are continuing their bad legacy here. It is a scary thing for some people to send their children to school when their children become the minority. It is hard for others to think that people would seperate their children and send them to other schools instead of sticking it out in a potentially scary situation so they label them as racist.

    Someone else put it plainly that the only thing we'll be judged on is how we treat others. Keep that in mind while you're harping on people for moving, sending children to different schools and etc. You haven't walked in their shoes and you don't know their motivations.

  44. I grew up in Utah (on the West side, no less) and am now living in Atlanta. Basically, no matter where you live there seem to be ridiculous opinions about Utah. Here are a few observations:

    1. My husband served his mission in Salt Lake City. He loved it. The concept of calling anywhere outside of Utah "the mission field" is laughable (and mildly repulsive) to him.

    2. I have had people tell me that they "had their first coke" or some such nonsense given to them their first innocent week at BYU by some evil "Utah Mormon". They state this as if this indicts the entire church in Utah. If you feel you shouldn't drink coke then I think you are capable of saying no to such corrupt Utahans.

    3. People have told me that Utah Mormons are too goody-goody, too lax, too ugly (kidding!) and/or too sheltered.

    Who knew!

  45. Can I just say that there are stupid people inside the church, and stupid people outside the church. It's called being human. The thing we need to learn is how to deal – with life, people, money, circumstances, etc. and not judge others on the way they deal with the same things. That is the true test.

  46. A few thoughts –

    I live in the east and interestingly enough we have several families who have well known "pioneer stock". It's great! I remember teaching a primary lesson similar to one mentioned already. I had people bring in pictures of their ancestors on Pioneer day. Their Pioneers because I wanted all the children to know that it's important to know where you come from. They are people.

    My husband was the first member to join the church on his side of the family. I am in awe of the genealogy that he has begun to put together. As soon as he began to learn about Family History he was working to put it together. And now there are even more tools than ever available. He knows where he came from.

    And I think the discussion started essentially about Family History.

    Lastly, when we judge others as being beneath us or unable to understand for whatever reason what we really end up doing is isolating ourselves.

  47. OK, I can't resist leaving a reply. I was born and raised in Orem, Utah.My ancestors were crossing the plains type pioneers.I went to what was then UVCC and the U of U (for some of that heathen expreience.) Then I married a guy from a part member family and who is in the Air Force. We have lived in Florida, Texas, Illinois, Virginia, northern Utah and are now in Turkey. I will never forget the lady in IL who put her arm around me and told me the biggest compliment she could give me was that she would have never guessed I was from Utah. I have been called out as a "Utah Mormon" because I play the hymns too fast. I have met people who go on and on about "Utah Mormons" when they have never even been in Utah. I would just like to throw in my two cents and say that Mormons are weird everywhere. We are also mean, prejudiced, judgemental and strong, faithful, picked on, kind-hearted, caring and hopefully Chrstlike no matter where we are. Here is something to think about- if we beleive that this is the one true church that everyone will hopefully be a member of someday, the reason we send missionaries out around the globe, what exactly do we think that will be like? Utah? A big group of Mormons doing their thing?
    Thanks for letting me rant.
    PS.I miss Utah like crazy, no temples in Turkey 🙂

  48. I am from Utah, born and raised and nothing gets my hackles up like being called a "Utah Mormon." We are all the same, just trying to plug along as best we can. I am also proud to say that my husband and I are both pioneer stock on every side, but I do not advertise it in everyday speech. I can not claim, however, that because I am, that this entitles me to extra blessings or an excess in testimony. I will gain that myself, just as they did. What is a great benefit, however, is the record keeping. Because they were inspired to record their histories I have a more complete picture of who they were and can be inspired by them and their lives. This is something I will never regret or apologize for. I do not, however, believe that other people cannot be pioneers in their own right, and we should celebrate them as well.

  49. I live way over on the other side of the world practically to Utah, a whole ocean away from California – Australia to be precise.

    I am my family's pioneer. My husband is too – he was baptised several years after me. We don't celebrate "Pioneer Day" here – it's obviously a location and cultural event more than a religious observance (though some comments suggest otherwise!)

    President Uchtdorf said in the latest conference that we can ALL claim pioneer ancestors – the very ones that crossed oceans and the plains. We all claim Joseph Smith as our prophet regardless of where we live – it's the same principle. I'm grateful that the pioneers did what they did because it has led to my family and I hearing, believing and living the gospel.

    Being able to point to an ancestor and say "Yeah? Well look what MY ancestor did!" is nice in general conversation (well, without the "Yeah?" bit!) but ultimately it's how you travel the plain or ocean you've been given to cross that's important.

  50. Our stake president said something today in ward conference in terms of callings that really spoke to me. It applies to any of the differences we may see or assume between ourselves and others:

    "God does not love us any more or any less because of the calling we hold…His love for us is already complete."

  51. Had to laugh when my newlywed sister-in-law (from the east side of SLC) refused to even LOOK at houses west of I-15!! They ended up buying a home in Draper . . . I grew up in Provo, but honestly had never heard of such a thing before. Living in a very expensive East Coast city, I just feel lucky to have a home!

  52. Interesting discussion, leading to my first comment ever on segullah blog.

    One of my sons has a recognizable pilgrim name. We had no clue (both of us having grown up in the west) that naming him that would put him in the "in" club among the grown-ups at his east coast elementary school, but it has. The funny thing is that his pilgrim name happens to be one of the pilgrims that he is not descended from.

    (My point being that in Utah, it's whether you're descended from the pioneers; in our community here, it's whether you're descended from the pilgrims. There are levels of snobbery in other places besides Utah.)

  53. After reading all of these comments I can no longer match the names with each comment. Never the less I desire to voice my agreement with all those who said it doesn't matter if ones family comes early or late to the gospel. In terms of worth all are alike in the Lord's eyes. The problem is we humans rarely see things through His eyes. As a result we must constantly remind our selves that God is no respecter of persons.

    A member of the Church in Austria–he was in the district presidency–told my companion and myself that when people asked him how he came to the church he said in a baby buggy. He went on to say that when an Austrian joins the church it takes four (4) generations to get all the Catholic out of them. If he was correct then the difference between the persons from pioneer stock and those not is a longer cultural tradition. They do not view things through the persecution and sacrifice of being driven out filter those with a pioneer heritage do.

    Just as persons who come here from another country try to keep the culture and traditions from their homeland, the first generation is slow to learn English. But the second generation speaks well. The third generation begins to intermarry and by the fourth generation they are no longer Italians or Poles etc. they are Americans of Italian or Polish descent. So while everyone is of equal value, they are not in the same place and that makes a difference. Not a significant difference, but it can impact on how well these two groups understand each other.

    On the the east side, west side issue I like the east side because there are more trees. If you don't like an old house with rusty pipes do what people out here do. Demolish it and build new, but keep the trees.

  54. When people say stupid things to me like 'the bad side of Provo', I quickly reply "We are talking about little tiny Provo Utah, this isn't Malibu."

  55. I'm almost defensively proud (is that an oxymoron?) about my lack of pioneer blood. I have none. My grandparents the paternal side are converts, and so is my mother. It almost bugs me that since my husband is very much "pioneer stock" that my kid are, too.

    I've also noticed another elements of "ancestor worship" of early Saints. I write historical novels set during the lives of the first generation born in Utah, and while most of the reader response has been overwhelmingly positive, I've gotten some readers angry with me that I'd dare show early Saints with flaws like bigotry, that I have the nerve to knock them off their pedestals. One of those readers was from Europe (not of pioneer stock at all, which I found interesting) who almost didn't finish the book because one character's racial prejudice upset him so much.

  56. These issues are among the reasons we moved away from Utah, which in general is a lovely place, but I was ready for a change. I have no UT roots, no pioneer roots that I know of. I wasn't raised in UT, let alone on the East Bench. I'm not related to any General Authorities past or present. There is definitely an air about those that do fall into these categories. A very annoying air. Not all of them, but many of them. I attended a wedding reception for a friend in the Harvard-Yale neighborhood. Relatives of this friend immediately stopped speaking to me after they asked me where I lived and I told them "South Jordan." It was the first question out of their mouths! All of them! The East Bench is nice, but it's not the center of the universe. There are plenty of well educated, classy and lovely people in other neighborhoods!


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