Dear 100 Hour Board,
What's the worst part of Mormon culture? What's the best?
Manti Nephi Hurricane
PS - I know the distinction between culture and doctrine is often unclear. I'm willing to hear any answers you want to give.
The worst parts? Man, how can I choose...
Is it the suffocating perfectionism? Forced conformity? Comparison culture? Deep-rooted misogyny? Racist history that we refuse to come to terms with? To-do lists to grant salvation? Over-emphasis on measuring worthiness through performative aspects of spirituality? Treating variations in belief as apostate? Super strange hyperfocus on sexual behaviors while refusing to teach or talk about sex directly at all?
I'm not sure which of those is the worst!
Granted, for all the things that I hate about Mormon culture, There are parts that I have liked or at least remember fondly:
Some may hate it, but I've always enjoyed having food at gatherings (the food they gave us was always delicious, anyway.) I like that people are generally friendly toward you (even if it's fake), I like that we believe in continued revelation, which allow for us to change (even if it's really slow).
I enjoy feeling like a part of a community, which includes understanding inside jokes (like how everyone laughs when Uchtdorf makes an airplane comment, or niche twitter memes), going to girl's camp and doing Secret Sister throughout the week, etc. Young Women's for me was generally pretty good. The "community" aspect of it can be the best part, as long as you feel like you belong in the community. Which I did. For those who struggled to feel included, which is a lot of people, I'm sure it was a lot more difficult.
Right now my favorite part of Mormon culture is the collection of women who are supporting each other and talking about Heavenly Mother. Mormon Feminists can be really REALLY amazing people.
Dear beautiful name for a boy or a girl,
Best: Food everywhere! Hymns and music that I still love (although the church as an organization could be more lenient in the types of music played during services).
Worst: The overall unwillingness to look at beliefs and doctrine and culture and theology critically.
For the best part, I'm jumping on the food train. I saw this tweet the day it was posted, and I have thought about it often since then:
In a similar vein:
At its best, Mormonism fosters a sense of charity and connection to a community. The way we serve and give food/gifts can feel like a way to extend worship beyond chapel walls and into our local community. I think that's beautiful and human and special.
As for the worst part, that also has to do with how we work as a community. All the time, people are excluded or pushed to the side of our communities because they're different, or because they express concern or hurt over the Church's past or present policies. They're often seen as less faithful or committed to the gospel than those who conform, and that can be extremely painful or even dangerous. The Church has a way of becoming very integrated into our lives, and to be pushed away by the same organization that you're pouring so much of your time, effort, and emotion into - that's an awful experience.
The worst part of Mormon culture is being so committed to believing Mormons are unusually nice that it creates a lot of resistance to any discussion of when Mormons do not-so-nice things.
The best part of Mormon culture is the promise of a built-in community wherever you go. It’s definitely the thing I’ve been mourning most now that I no longer feel accepted by that promise of community.
I'm not saying this is the absolute worst part, but my pet peeve is the culture of extrovertism, and the overall pressure to be extroverted (especially in YSA wards). As an anti-social introvert, this really bugs me.
I think one of the best parts about the culture is the readiness to help out other people. From dinners for sick people or parents with a new baby to giving rides to raking leaves I really like how much service is valued and promoted.
Dear other writers:
Oh MAN am I the only one who HATES MORMON FOOD CULTURE?!?!
Serving grown adults #$%^&*( orange punch and Lays potato chips is just the most middlebrow, depressing thing I've ever seen.
Yes, foodie-ism circa 2019 was the height of decadence but FIX YOUR FOOD CULTURE AND THE EATING DISORDERS THAT EVERY MORMON TEEN GIRL I KNOW SEEMS TO GET </rant>.
---Portia has a much more sophisticated palate, now