15.11.08

Living in the Heart of Mormondom: A City Like No Other

Every city has it’s own pulse that pumps life into the community. Each is unique in its special way with quirky or cool personalities, or both. My city, Salt Lake City, is no different.

Salt Lake City roads are built on a grid system. From a center point, each road is numbered in an outward direction. That center is Temple Square, the Mecca of the Mormon Church. All roads are defined by their proximity to the trumpet playing golden angel. Finding your way around is a snap. But in the city by the big salty lake, it’s hard to miss that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), or the Mormon Church as it known by most, plays a major part in sculpting the city beat.

Despite outside perceptions, Salt Lake City is not all Mormon. In fact, a couple of recent news articles suggest the population is only about 40% LDS, likely because of the growth of the city and the many Mormons fleeing to the outlying suburbs.

So as a non-Mormon resident of the city, I hope I can use this Burnside column to shed light on life from within Salt Lake. Living in such a place, where the religious divide cuts deep, has taught me much about my own Christian faith and the body of believers. Looking through the lens at the Mormon culture is interesting, humorous, and often acts as a mirror.

As the months pass and I share more and more about life in Mormon Country, I’m guessing a member or two of the LDS church will stumble upon this column. If I’ve done my job correctly, they’ll say, “Well, that’s fair” and maybe they’ll join the conversation. (If I haven’t done my job well, they’ll think, “That dude is a jackass.” But they can only think it to themselves because like with most Evangelicals, it’s not appropriate for Mormons to say “ass.”)

But if I’m honest, the non-Mormons will find more than just interesting information on Mormonism and the Mormon culture, they’ll see something of themselves in a new light or they’ll have a firmer grasp on a foundational portion of their own beliefs. And for the rest of you, maybe you’ll just have a laugh or two. Whatever the case, I look forward to where this column may lead our discussion.

4 comments:

  1. A week ago, California's Prop 8 passed by a close margin. Shortly there after, a protest was held at a California Mormon temple and then one later that same night at the Salt Lake LDS temple. Some say as many as 1,500 to 2,000 protesters attended. Then some white powder was sent the the LDS church causing an anthrax scare. Today, there was another protest. An organization called Equality Utah has been in the news some pushing the LDS church to stand behind their word and help pass some legislation in favor of same-sex partners. (No response by the Mormon Church yet.)

    All of this has come about in Utah because the LDS church mounted a large scale effort to get Prop 8 passed. Despite positions on same-sex marriage, this should really push the Christians to ask what our role in government is, or more appropriately, what it should be.

    This question has been on my mind since the election. I wonder if it's just because of all the fuss in Salt Lake City, or if it's a legitimate question the church should be asking these days?

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  2. This should be very interesting. My ex-wife was Mormon, non-practicing of course, because I’m sure not Mormon. Looking back, she was a bit weird…

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  3. I'm very interested to hear your thoughts over the coming months. I've been interested in the LDS church since getting involved at the national level with the Boy Scouts, who are primarily funded by the LDS church these days. That, and a backpacking trip with 10 14-year-old LDS girls, has piqued my interest, and led to a lot of study on the theology of their religion. I have plenty of my own thoughts on the church, both positive and negative, but will be interested to hear yours.

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