Sometimes in the bloggernacle we focus on the things we’d like to change or improve about church, and believe me, there are many of those! But today, I’d like to focus on some of the things I like most about Mormon culture, doctrine, or experience. These are a few of my favorite Mormon things:
- Participation. On a given Sunday, I can see the appeal of showing up in the back row of a mega church wearing shorts & flip flops, chatting with neighbors over coffee and donuts, then ducking out to go to a barbecue. But I also know that would have limited, likely short-term appeal to me. I benefit so much from the awful / wonderful callings I’ve held over time; each one has given me skills and experiences that have at times horrified (nursery), educated (RS/GD teacher), struck fear into my heart (speaking in church), and in general stretched me beyond what I thought I could do. Seriously, without a calling – would you show up every week? For how long?
- Mormon Youth. I just love Mormon kids! They are (generally speaking) well-behaved, well-adjusted, confident, and optimistic. They are all around “good kids.” Even the rebellious ones are not so bad, and they often feel wracked by guilty when they are.
- Heavenly Parents. Even if we never talk about or to Heavenly Mother, there is no doubt that we believe God is married. This idea just makes sense and really changes how we conceive God by giving us perspective of being literal sons & daughters, members of a big family, not just figurative children of an amorphous God.
- American Values. The values I’m talking about are things like thriftiness, temperance, hard work, personal accountability, and optimism. One could also argue obesity, but I’m coming up with the positives here!
- Theosis. Call me crazy, but the idea that God was once a mere human like we are and that we are able to progress to become gods is pure theological genius. Clearly I meet lots of folks at church whose worlds I would not care to inhabit, but that’s the beauty of this doctrine – the optimistic view of human potential!
- Eternal Progression. I like the simplicity of doctrines like the Plan of Salvation. Even if these things oversimplify (and they do), that’s better than the alternative.
- Revelation. The idea that everything we think we know can be clarified and reinterpreted at any moment is awesome in my opinion. It makes the future more important than the past, and the present most important of all. Plus, the idea that each person is entitled to his/her own revelation puts us all on an equal footing that is hard to find in other churches – only Buddhism can compare, and that’s not even a religion!
- Missions. There’s a picture that gets painted in the bloggernacle of Utah Mormons being local yokels who are insular and oblivious to the world outside the state borders. Yet, one very effective method to combat that is often overlooked. We deliberately send our young men and slightly less young women to foreign countries (or the deep south) for multiple years where they are confronted with cultures that differ from their own. As a result, Mormons are often sought out for their foreign language and inter-cultural skills which are an asset in business. Not to mention our singing and dancing skills – no, wait, that’s just in the Book of Mormon musical.
- Political Neutrality. Clearly there’s a lot of chatter about areas where the church takes a stand (e.g. SSM) or where there is a vocal majority of opinion (e.g. strong GOP affiliation) or where the church is Ameri-centric (e.g. singing American patriotic songs as hymns). While we as insiders may cringe at these things, our church is still deliberately and decidedly less political than many other churches that are organized toward political aims (Evangelicals, Liberal Protestants, and the UU which is essentially 100% left-leaning). In short, we’re more neutral than we like to think.
- Families. The basic family unit is pretty much the basic unit of the church. Clearly the church doesn’t do universally well with mixed faith marriages, singletons, and gay members, and there are some people who fear-monger their way into an early grave over every little implication to someone’s eternal life, but on the whole, the focus on families is helpful to those who are trying to raise kids (and the support from other members especially), live a moral life, and support their families financially. There’s definitely a baby in this bathwater.
This is just my own list Obviously, you might see things differently. What’s on your list of things you like most about Mormons, the culture, or the teachings? Discuss.