I wrote, and you answered. And I listened.
Let me explain something, I'm not a professional writer. I'm sure this comes as a big shock, what with my rambling thoughts, incoherent post organization, and run-on sentences. All to often, I get an idea in my mind, I try to write it out, and when I later read it, I realize that while it makes sense to ME, it's not as clear as I would have liked to someone reading from a different perspective.
Hence, regarding my post "On those who cannot relate to non-members": I didn't intend to bash Utah or Utah Mormons at all. I didn't intend to bash at all (okay, so I mentioned a baseball bat--well, that was a bit over the top. A stun gun would have served nicely and is not nearly as messy I'm told).
I like Utah, I've been a Utah Mormon myself. Yes, your very own East Coaster was a contented Utah boy for several years (about 5 or 6 total). There are plenty of good people in Utah.
So, if I bashed anything, it was a certain "disdain" for the non-LDS world that I've seen in some people--both in Utah and out of Utah. This isn't something unique to Utah church members. There are people in my own ward and stake who exhibit the same contempt for anything non-church based.
What bothers me are people who fail to recognize that there is a world around them that has value, even if it's not "of the church, by the church and for the church." Sure, we have to be careful, and we have to pick and choose in what things we participate, but there are many great things out there. We have an understanding of the world and it's history that others do not necessarily share, and that gives us a unique perspective, to say the least. But that doesn't mean we have to demean what others believe.
As soon as I posted the aforementioned message, I felt that perhaps my language had been too harsh. I should have edited it, but frankly, didn't have time. That's a shortcoming on my part, and one reader claimed it was "an embarrasment to me." Perhaps it was, and if so, please accept my apologies.
It comes down to this. My family is dear to me, and my wife and I work very hard to make sure that they get a good example of what the Gospel is all about (and no, they don't know about this blog! lol). There have been so many good interactions between my family and members of the church, but all it takes are a few "too bad this was built for the wrong reason" type comments or someone talking about the temple in an inappropriate way in front of them, and guess what? One step forward, two steps backward. Or three.
So, honestly, I am sorry for having offended any of you. I really like Utah (well, other than the job market--that's just pathetic, and I have hard statistical facts to back that statement up!). It's just that there is life outside of Utah. The church is strong outside of Utah. And there are plenty of good people and good things outside of Utah as well. I also recognize that most Utahns are well balanced people who can relate to members and non-members alike. And there are a few who should be contained. Heck, there are a few members here I'd like to have contained.
Quite obviously, me sharing the comments by my "friend" in Rome is no better than her making the comments in the first place. I recognize that fact. But I felt this was a good place to share them and get input from others. I certainly can't talk about it with my family members! That's part of the joy of this blog, for me anyway. I can rant about something that my friends, neighbors and family can't quite understand. Here, I have a crew of people that have a similar background and can understand what I mean when I complain about being short on money, but still insist of giving 10% of my income to the church. Tell that to my family, and they'll tell me I'm nuts.
So, if I come across as arrogant or condescending, let me know. I'm not above getting a public flogging now and then. There are plenty of times when I am arrogant. And humility is obviously something that I could stand to develop. It's a process. In the mean time, this is me.
I've even doubted the title of this blog. I really dislike any sort of "division" or classification of church members. After all, why classify ourselves if we truly believe we're all equal? (my thinking: the blog title, I feel, gives an overview of where I'm writing from both literally and figuratively)
That's the beauty of the church. People may sound different, they may look different, but the church is the same, the gospel is the same, wherever you go in the world, and that's what counts. The church units in Virginia are no better than the church units in France, which are no better than the church units in Utah. Are some stronger than others? Absolutely. But the doctrine taught in all is the same, and hence, all have the same opportunities to learn the truth.
For instance, one comment I regularly hear always makes me pause: "I'd never have guessed you were a convert!"
While I understand what the person is saying, and I've even said this exact same thing to others, what, exactly, does that mean? Aren't we all converts, in some way shape or form? And what does it mean to convert? I understand it to mean we (A) gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, (B) gain a testimoney of His restored gospel (C) take upon us His name. The Book of Mormon states that "the Gentiles ... may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel."
Are we numbered among the people, but with a sub categorization attached? "Hello, number 10,302,201 (category C for Convert), welcome!" Not at all. Once we are numbered among the Savior's people, we are part of that body (4 Nephi 1:17 comes to mind). Thus, if one is truly converted, it should be impossible to tell a "lifer" from a convert because we all have the same testimony and love for the Gospel and desire to do that which is right--because we have taken upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, and are (hopefully) growing in knowledge of His truth and striving to put our lives in harmony with His.
I know I've rambled on enough, and I've certainly digressed from the point of this post. Needless to say, I'm an imperfect person using my imperfect language to convey thoughts and feelings via an imperfect media. To quote a blogger I frequently read
, "Be gentle, kind readers." I'll try to do the same.