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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Survey, Mormon Stories, and Uncorrelated/Cultural Mormonism (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Survey, Mormon Stories, and Uncorrelated/Cultural Mormonism
Xavier
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Not that Tom's list is good (I wouldn't know, really), but just because a number of items don't apply to you doesn't mean that it isn't valid.

For instance, if a European was to make a list of "American Culture" aspects, they might include:

1) Fondness for red meat / hunting.
2) A love of guns in general.
3) Appreciation for fast and powerful cars and SUVs.
4) Following football and/or baseball.
5) Being a believer of a religion, typically Christianity.
6) Regularly eating fast food.
7) An inclination to watch reality TV shows.

And so on. Now not a single one of the above attributes apply to me. Does that mean that the list is crap? Maybe it is, but I can't just go through and say that these things don't apply to me and so it must be.

You can do the same for "Mexican-American Culture" or "Black Culture" or what have you.

Edit: If someone were to make a list of "Nebraska Culture", the number one item would be "Follows Husker Football". I would claim that this is valid, even though my wife and I do not do so.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:

1) Jello as a side dish
2) White guys who're really into basketball
3) Arguments over which non-English language is harder to learn
4) A fondness for awkward comedy (i.e. Napoleon Dynamite)
5) Adults who really enjoy cosplay
6) Dressing up to visit family
7) Extremely horrible names, especially for girls
8) Very, very serious obsessions, be it conspiracy theories or science fiction fandom or knitting; this causes some overlap with nerd culture.

Most the commenters who have taken issue with Tom's list (which I think was a good-faith effort) haven't simply said the list doesn't apply to them, but rather that they don't know many/any Mormons to whom it applies. If you didn't know anyone who followed Husker football, either 1) you aren't part of "Nebraska Culture" or 2) the perception of Nebraska Culture as being strongly correlated with following Husker football is fallacious. That so many Mormons on this thread (including me) don't see in themselves or those they know the attributes Tom suggested makes me think that his proposed correlates of "Mormon culture" are somewhat faulty.

For the record:
1) I've certainly been to lots of family reunions where jello dishes outnumber casseroles, but I agree this stereotype isn't strongly grounded in modern reality. I don't think I've seen more than a handful of Jello dishes at the 50 or so potlucks I've been to here in MA.
2) Basketball and yard work are two of the main male bonding rituals in my ward.
3) I'm with Scott; RMs (a phrase unique to Mormon culture) are more likely to fight about whose mission was harder, which might or might not include the difficulty of learning a language.
4) I don't see this; Napoleon Dynamite was overly popular with Mormons because it was written and produced by Mormons and set in Southern Idaho, not because of any inherent qualities. I can't think of other exemplars of awkward comedy that are unduly popular among Mormons.
5) I had to look up cosplay.
6) Only for Thanksgiving.
7) Maybe, although I think this is probably more a correlate of middle income America than anything else.
8) I haven't perceived excessive obsessiveness among Mormons vs. non-Mormons.

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If I, being a white male, made such a list in an attempt to describe Mexican-American culture, black culture, European culture, or any other culture, I would likely be accused of stereotyping and pigeonholing. I would be told that a list of 7 or 8 items does not a culture define, and maybe even that making a list at all is a poor way to try to define a culture. And who am I to try to define black culture, even if I know a lot of black people?

Certainly my list would be different than the one someone who is part of that culture might make. Would my list still be equally as valid as their own description of their culture? Possibly. But I wouldn't expect them to refrain from commenting on the points of my list, either, and explaining why they might be on there or discrediting them as myths, etc.

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JohnHansen
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After debating a response something along the lines of Annie's I decided that TD was sarcastic or he thought he was saying something important and true so responding was in either case a waste of my time.
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TomDavidson
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*laugh* I was neither being sarcastic nor thinking that what I was saying was important. [Smile] If I held AFR in higher regard, I'd be insulted that he'd think I'd think I could, in a list of under ten items, somehow authoritatively define a culture. Luckily, that isn't a problem.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Luckily, that isn't a problem.

Geez. That was charming.
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Mucus
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Of interest might be http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com and it's various followers like Stuff Black People Like, Stuff Asian People Like, etc.
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TomDavidson
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Yeah, I can be charming when people are being all insulting. Or I can not be charming. Were you planning to leap to my defense at some point, or would taking the high road have been lonely, per usual?

I mean, seriously, you know and I know that they're insulting me and being all defensive for no good reason. What do I accomplish by pretending otherwise?

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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Yeah, I can be charming when people are being all insulting. Or I can not be charming. Were you planning to leap to my defense at some point, or would taking the high road have been lonely, per usual?

I mean, seriously, you know and I know that they're insulting me and being all defensive for no good reason. What do I accomplish by pretending otherwise?

Hmm?
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JohnHansen
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quote:
Does that mean that the list is crap?
Generally the answer to your question is yes. Not because the list items do or do not apply personally but because the items are all forms of Jeff Foxworthy "you might be a redneck" jokes.

Yes, you might be a Mormon if you are alive and breathing and live in SLC but you might also be a Baptist or Jewish or Atheist.

None of the items on Tom's list are indicative of any particular culture, let alone anything you might call Mormon Culture, which in reality varies a lot from state to state and even ward to ward. And a casual observer of a tiny and peculiar subset of a culture whose primary lens is forum posts can't possibly have a decent enough handle on the whole complex big picture to say wise and important things about it.

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TomDavidson
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That's an excellent question, Scott. I wish I were qualified to answer it.
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TomDavidson
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John, forgive me, but are you seriously implying that posts should be restricted to people who have wise and important things to say on any given topic? Because tumbleweeds would blow through the Internet if that were somehow enforced, I suspect.

---------

In related news, "trailer park culture" is different in France than it is in America. And I understand that geeks in Japan are geeky in slightly different ways than geeks in New York. *laugh*

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*blink*
I don't see where I was being insulting. I wasn't insulted and I wasn't trying to return the favor.

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SenojRetep
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Tom, for the record, I wasn't trying to insult you. I figured you were trying to elucidate a list of aspects of Mormon culture and I was pointing out that that list didn't reflect Mormon culture as I've experienced it.

I don't know whether a distinct "Mormon culture" exists (although I'm more of a mind that it does than that it doesn't). I didn't find your list offensive or rude the way other commenters seem to have, but I also didn't think it reflected reality either.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I don't see where I was being insulting.
The implication of your previous comment, as I understood it -- "But I wouldn't expect them to refrain from commenting on the points of my list, either, and explaining why they might be on there or discrediting them as myths, etc." -- was that this was what I was doing; it's certainly John's implication, above. If I misunderstood your meaning, I apologize.
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Scott R
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I'm wondering if someone hacked Tom's account.

I mean-- I try not to indulge in mind-reading, and heaven knows we haven't agreed on anything regarding religion since 1999...but the tone is waay weird.

Except for this:

quote:
I decided that TD was sarcastic or he thought he was saying something important and true so responding was in either case a waste of my time.
...I didn't see anything that was insulting. Did I miss one of AFR's posts somewhere? Or are Tom's comments shadowing something else that's occurring on the board, and I'm just missing it?

...and to be honest, I'm probably the only one in the virtual universe that would have a problem with JH's post. Mild problem, mind you-- I don't like to speculate on what others are thinking. I don't think anyone else should, either.

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Speed
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I think Tom's list does a pretty good job of enumerating a few prominent aspects of Utah Mormon culture. But if we're talking about "Cultural Mormonism", I don't think awkward comedy and Jello salad are as relevant as, say, owning a Triple Combination and taking at least a passing interest in Church history.

Speaking from an operative term perspective, when you talk about "Cultural Mormonism," I think the "Mormonism" is at least as important as the "Culture." From what I've seen, anyway.

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TomDavidson
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I specified that I was providing cultural signifiers I'd encountered that didn't seem to have anything to do with the church itself.
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I don't see where I was being insulting.
The implication of your previous comment, as I understood it -- "But I wouldn't expect them to refrain from commenting on the points of my list, either, and explaining why they might be on there or discrediting them as myths, etc." -- was that this was what I was doing; it's certainly John's implication, above. If I misunderstood your meaning, I apologize.
I DO hold you in high enough regard that I didn't assume you were seriously trying to make a blanket definition of Mormon culture, or that you couldn't do a fair job of it if you were really trying. My post was in response to Xavier's, who IMO took it more seriously than you did. I was wondering if you were baiting us just a little.

ETA: If you were simply providing a list of things you've observed, that's perfectly fine with me. I didn't think you'd be offended by any comments made on it. The list got turned into something more than it was intended to be.

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TomDavidson
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Nah. It honestly never crossed my mind that anyone on that list could be interpreted as even slightly insulting.
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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I specified that I was providing cultural signifiers I'd encountered that didn't seem to have anything to do with the church itself.

I know. I wasn't implying that your list was bad. But it seems like a lot of people assumed that you were saying that people who identify themselves as Mormon, outside the Priesthood orthodoxy, are doing so because they can't give up the Jello salad.

I know that wasn't what you had in mind when you made the list, but I thought it might be worth saying. [Smile]

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Scott R
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In the middle of all this, we have scholarette's #9:

quote:
gorgeous women married to loser men
Which is potentially far more insulting and stereotypifying than Tom's whole list put together.

But alas-- I do know some of these couples. They drive me insane. The only defense is that the same thing occurs fairly frequently in society outside the Church.

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It's not an insulting list. I think it just has a few cliches and myths on it that we just can't resist talking about, lest somebody actually think they are in force.
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JohnHansen
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Tom,

Where did you get the impression that a white guy liking basketball would in any way signify that said white guy was LDS or a member of something called Mormon culture? Maybe I just am not understanding what you mean by "Mormon cultural signifiers". It is items like this that make me nearly certain that you can't have been serious. Which makes me think you were joking. But if you do seriously believe that white guys really liking basketball is something that can be used to identify the culture they are from then how could there be any sense in trying to refute such a nonsensical belief? So in both cases response is nonsense too unless the response is simply LOL.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I mean, seriously, you know and I know that they're insulting me and being all defensive for no good reason.

I don't know what you know, but I know nothing of the kind. I don't see anyone being insulting (or particularly insulted, actually, except maybe pooka and JH) until you took that slam at AFR. Which seemed to not even be about this thread, but about a larger history that I appear to have missed.

From my perspective, it was an incredibly disproportionate response to something another poster (not even a direct response to AFR) had said.

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Xavier
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quote:
My post was in response to Xavier's, who IMO took it more seriously than you did.
Nah. In fact with the strange direction this thread took, I now wish I hadn't posted.

I just saw Tom make a list, and lots of people respond with what I interpreted as "Bullet points 1, 3, 7, and 8 don't apply to me so this list is stupid." It seemed like people were going to keep on making those types of posts, and I wanted to respond that these posters were kind of missing the point.

The point that those making posts countering the list were also saying "and I haven't seen this at all elsewhere in Mormons" for some of the bullet items is a valid one.

Edit: I also don't think it helped that my post became the top of page post for the second page.

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JohnHansen
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quote:
It honestly never crossed my mind that anyone on that list could be interpreted as even slightly insulting.
Tom, I think you are way too smart and long lived on the Hatrack forums for it to have never crossed your mind that some of your items might be considered to be insulting. If you list anything that a reader thinks of as silly or stupid and associate that thing with the reader's culture it does not take a genius to conclude that there is at least a slight chance that the reader will be slightly insulted.

But all would be made clear if you just explained how you came to conclude that these items somehow signify Mormon culture through your own experience. Then we could all say "Ah, I see how you came to that conclusion. Still a bad conclusion, but I understand how you drew it."

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
... It seemed like people were going to keep on making those types of posts, and I wanted to respond that these posters were kind of missing the point.

I thought it was a good point.
For example, the full stuffwhitepeoplelike list is about 128 points, I wouldn't expect more than, say, 50 of them to apply to any given person that identifies with that particular culture, but that doesn't stop it from being a fun list.

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Samprimary
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Man, that list is exactly the sort of thing it is silly to get knicker-twisted about, and yet here I'm watching it happen!
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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Man, that list is exactly the sort of thing it is silly to get knicker-twisted about, and yet here I'm watching it happen!

Hmm-- I'm not sure that's occurred. People are saying that Tom's list isn't really applicable, but I don't see anyone getting upset over the list (maybe AFR? Only if you don't believe him when he says he isn't upset).

I think the follow up discussion-- tangential to the list-- is where people are beginning to raise their voices.

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JohnHansen
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quote:
I don't like to speculate on what others are thinking. I don't think anyone else should, either.
My apologies! You are right. I should have just replied, What were you thinking, Tom?
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JohnHansen
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I would avoid assuming whether voices are raised or not and especially avoid any kind of assumptions as to the state of other people's knickers.

My voice is certainly not raised nor are my knickers twisted. I just very calmly and rationally think Tom's list is silly and that there is nothing worthy about it to defend. As usual I should have followed my initial plan and ignored the post.

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TomDavidson
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You'll notice that I haven't attempted to defend it. Engaging in an explanation of why I put those items on the list, as you have requested, would IMO constitute taking it more seriously than it should be. [Smile]
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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
You'll notice that I haven't attempted to defend it. Engaging in an explanation of why I put those items on the list, as you have requested, would IMO constitute taking it more seriously than it should be. [Smile]

Your view of things you think of as Mormon cultural signifiers, based on your own experience, that don't appear to have anything to do with doctrine, was refuted by multiple people. We're not in your head so we can't know why[/] you put those items on the list or [i]why you don't wish to defend your position but the important fact still remains - your opinion on what constitute cultural signifiers isn't accurate, according to multiple qualified posters.

Debating the intent or perceived intent of the list is irrelevant. The list can be insulting or not, in the end it was found to be inaccurate.

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My knickers definitely were not twisted by the list. I thought it was amusing. Sounds like others have gotten upset over some of the list items, but not me.

If it had been an attempt at baiting, I would have been a little upset, but still not very.

Like any sycophant, I'm just flattered that I'm actually on Tom's radar! [Razz]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
your opinion on what constitute cultural signifiers isn't accurate, according to multiple qualified posters
I would say that this is not an accurate summation of the conversation above. [Smile]
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BlackBlade
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Without loosing my dog into this fight, I felt like Tom's post, while not even close to perfect, still touched on some Utah Mormon culture.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Man, that list is exactly the sort of thing it is silly to get knicker-twisted about, and yet here I'm watching it happen!

Hmm-- I'm not sure that's occurred.
It is a slow and inexorable process; thankfully not many of you are.

But if you still don't think it's happening after capax's post, dunno what to tell you!

(pps, this is mostly a lighthearted post!)

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scifibum
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This thread got way funny.
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Scott R
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One of the initial sticking points I had with the idea of Cultural Mormons was that Mormonism doesn't really have a culture. It's not old enough to have developed a set of cultural practices or tendencies that exist independent of the faith. I stated that what people take for cultural Mormonism is actually Utah Regionalism.

Tom stipulated that the things in his list are cultural identifiers independent of the Mormon faith.

The objections to his list have largely purposed to show that Tom's list is either not applicable in general (according to the objector's POV), or are Utah Regionalisms. We haven't missed the point of the list, Xavier-- we've just disagreed with Tom's findings.

quote:
Engaging in an explanation of why I put those items on the list, as you have requested, would IMO constitute taking it more seriously than it should be.
You took it seriously enough to think people were insulting you when they objected to it. Why the change in heart?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
You took it seriously enough to think people were insulting you when they objected to it.
No, that's not why I thought they were insulting me. I'm fine with all the objections. [Smile]

(As a side note: do you believe that what you're calling a "Utah regionalism" is something common among non-Mormons in Utah as well?)

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Zalmoxis
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The field of Mormon cultural studies is complicated, in dispute, lacking solid data (so prone to anecdote) and in need of better theoretical models.

Which is to say: you people are all somewhat right, but also pretty much wrong.

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Scott R
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quote:
do you believe that what you're calling a "Utah regionalism" is something common among non-Mormons in Utah as well?
Good point-- I don't know.

quote:
that's not why I thought they were insulting me.
Also a fair point-- sorry.

quote:
The field of Mormon cultural studies is complicated, in dispute, lacking solid data (so prone to anecdote) and in need of better theoretical models.

Which is to say: you people are all somewhat right, but also pretty much wrong.

Prove it! [Smile]
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BBegley
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I'm neither Mormon, nor religious, but have a fair amount of contact with Mormon families and here's my idea of non-religious Mormon culture (no jello, cosplay, or jello-based cosplay).

The basic element of Mormon culture that I see from the outside looking in is the interconnectedness (if that's a word). All of the families are constantly fully involved in all of the other families.

That type of community would feel a little constrictive to me, regardless of faith, but I bet a lot of people love that feeling of community and miss it when it's gone. Especially if they grew up in it.

I get that a lot or all of that time spent together is for directly religious purpose, lessons, services, etc..., but not all of the benefit people derive from it is faith related.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by BBegley:
jello-based cosplay

That's just not right.
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kmbboots
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Nor is jello-based Cosby.
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rivka
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I think he tends more to the pudding-based.
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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by BBegley:
jello-based cosplay

That's just not right.
Oh, now I'm offended.
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Zalmoxis
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Scott:

I don't have to -- you all already did.

BBegley:

I have two words for you: Matthew Barney (and, yes, he was raised Mormon).

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Oh, now I'm offended.

[Taunt]
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