The Sun Never Sets on the Mormon Empire: Cultural Colonialism

Hawkgrrrlcatholicism, christianity, church, Culture, history, inter-faith, international, LDS, missionary, missions, mormon, Mormon, Mormons, Utah 62 Comments

I was talking with a French colleague at dinner about the differences between European politics and American politics, and he made a statement that left an impression. European politics are colored by their colonialist histories and how to balance a preservation of their culture while dealing with the other cultures they have essentially subordinated over time. For example, he mentioned the Muslims in France who demanded equal consideration of their separate cultural preferences in the very strict and isolationist French culture. The French people are very concerned with preserving their culture, values, and language (even governing the number of foreign words allowed to be added per year). I believe there is a Mormon parallel to be understood.

Obviously, there were actual Mormon colonies early in the pioneering days, which is how most of the West was settled. However, that is not the topic I want to explore. I have only had a few experiences with what I will call modern-day colonial Mormons.

  1. When I was a teenager (1985), I met my first “colonial” Mormon in my home ward. A family moved into the ward from Utah. All the membership prior to that were from the local area. Immediately, the mother of the family started (subtly) pointing out things that were “wrong” about how our ward did things. We should have early morning seminary, not weekly (despite having six different high schools and a 25 mile commuting radius). The Young Women should do crafts and present group musical numbers. The bishop should do something about the crazy Pentacostal convert who kept shouting “hallelujah” and rapping her fan on the pew when a particularly good point was made in church.  And we suddenly had to have a Pioneer Day parade, even though it wasn’t a recognized holiday and hardly anyone had pioneer ancestry.  Little things like that.
  2. My second experience was at the end of my mission (1990).  An older couple was assigned to one of the wards as “leadership” missionaries.  The wife immediately began focusing on getting the local sisters interested in “homemaking” projects (mostly crafts).  She expressed to me her disbelief that none of the sisters knew how to crochet or knit!  (Perhaps because it was a warm-climate island).  Previously, they had spent their homemaking meetings discussing how to have stronger marriages and how to help sisters in need.  I question whether this was an upgrade.

So, what happens in the cycle of colonialism?

  • A colonizing group decides to expand to new territories, exporting their culture and traditions and imposing them on those colonized areas.   This is also characterized by:
    • A desire to preserve the cultural elements of the colonizing group and to impose those traditions, values, and practices on other cultures.
    • A condescending attitude toward local populace and customs.
    • A paternalistic approach to educate others on “the right way.”
  • An initial fascination by the local group for the colonizing culture (e.g. Anglophiles); an (initial) agreement that the colonizing culture is in some way preferred or “better.”  (Some converts, especially in the early days, awaited for instruction from HQ as it were).
  • Eventually, one of two things happens:
    • An eventual break at the local level with the colonizing group.  This could be a violent, intentional break (e.g. the American Revolution), a passive yet intentional break (e.g. Indian rights reform) or a more evolutionary break as a new culture emerges in the local area which supersedes the colonizing culture (e.g. Roman Catholic Church vs. Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church).
    • Guilt among the colonizing group about treatment of the local populace accompanied by awkward and problematic repatriation (e.g. French believe first and foremost in equality, yet do not like admitting the Muslim culture into their tightly-controlled society).  This can happen when the local populace’s issues cannot be satisfactorily resolved to create an equal status through independence.

But perhaps a third option, in the case of the church, is to become a truly world-wide church (the stone that fills the earth) in which diversity of culture is embraced while retaining centralized doctrine.  Is that really an achievable aim or is colonization a human tendency that is so ingrained it’s inevitable?  A lot has been written about the introduction of harmful plants and animals that changed the eco-systems of North America, such as the honeybee.  Are colonizing Mormons aware enough of the potentially harmful elements they may be introducing (e.g. funeral potatoes, green jello, prolific zucchini plants) into the native cultures to avoid it?  IMO, colonialism is harmful to both the local group and to the colonizing group if it 1) implies superiority of one culture over the other, 2) shifts the focus to cultural elements away from doctrinal, or 3) creates cultural rifts and inequities between different groups of the church.

As Elder Uchdorff mentioned in conference, we should embrace the “faith of our fathers” and most importantly of our “Heavenly Father.”  Jello optional.  Crafts not required.  Bring your own flan to the Pioneer Day parade that’s being held in someone’s backyard because none of the local members hail from pioneer stock; instead, they are all pioneers with their own tales of conversion and courage–they are among the first members of the church within their own family trees.

So, have any of you encountered cultural colonialism? Or has this largely been done away with over time (as you see, my examples are not recent)?  What is cultural colonialism?  Is it cultural colonialism that conference is in English, always held in Utah, even though there are more LDS outside the US now?

Comments 62

  1. I have a few points on this very subject. Some Church, some not.

    1. Friend of mine was a missionary in japan. The missionaries spent an entire ward activity trying to teach Halloween to the Japanese.

    2. American cultural is still revered around the world, in spite of what you might hear. More than half of all TV shows on foreign stations are dubbed US shows. France is a notable exception, but still there are a lot of US and British shows on French TV.

    3. Governments do not always equal the people. In spite of the poor relations we now have with many countries in the world due to the Iraq war, the people are still very caring and friendly toward Americans. Even the French.

    4. In the Church, the people in other countries want to know how “Utah” does it. They want to embrace the “way of the church.” Maybe it seems silly to us, but that is how they identify with the church as a whole. While it should not be forced on them, they should be able to wear white shirts and ties, for example, if they want to.

    5. I do think the examples Hawk uses are good ones, but tend to be more problematic among common cultures, where someone closer to the “source”, Utah, knows how the church is REALLY supposed to be run.

    6. If allowed and encourage, I beleive many foreign members would love to come to Utah, if given half the chance.

    this is what comes to mind off the top of my head.

  2. I think it’s a real barrier to the way we’re received – this conception of the culturally colonising Church. Of course, as you imply, there’s nothing inherent in the gospel that requires us to impose our version/idea of ‘Mormonism’ on others. And yet, it’s almost inevitable that we will… separating ‘the gospel’ from ‘the culture’ is impossible when the distinction isn’t even seen by many in the Church.

    I’ve come across this colonising tendency – most dangerously employed in the choice of leaders who fit a corporate western business model, over those who have spiritual gifts, but a less straight-laced image. Those who tap their fans are marginalised – but we have much to learn from them!

    To take a good example from the Church of England, the most recently appointed Archbishop of York is a black African man, who likes to wear bright colours, and bang his bongo drums in the 700 year old cathedral. And everyone loves him! They’re sure glad they didn’t pick another old white-haired white man now. 🙂

  3. As I listened to Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk, I had an interesting question pop into my head. How long will it be before we hear a General Conference talk given in Spanish or Japanese or Afrikaans? I served in the military for 11 years, moving with my family from place to place and living in a variety of branches and wards both foreign and domestic. There does seem to be a certain amount of cultural superiority coming from Utah members, whether it is an impatience with a more relaxed attitude toward “customary” Church processes or a desire to remake the local branch or ward into a replica of some Utah home ward. It always saddens me a little since I have learned to relish the color and diversity of all the local Church cultures I’ve been immersed in.

  4. Andy said,

    “who fit a corporate western business model”

    What makes you think that Corporate is western? I have seen significantly more formality and rigidity with regard to “Corporate style” in many other parts of the world. The US is now pretty loose by comparison. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a customer situation in Asia, for example, without a suit. Not a Sport coat and tie, but a suit.

    On the other hand, if you are referring to more of the so-called third world environment, it is much less structured and the suit and tie seem out of place. In the US, business casual is the uniform of the corporate world while vacation casual is the dress of most religious services, outside of our own.

    Though, if you use the GAs as an example, they are operating in the 1950s style of the corporate world as far as dress is concerned.

  5. I honestly can’t say I’ve seen examples of what you describe as “cultural colonialism” in the Church, but that’s not remarkable because I’ve lived in the U.S. my whole life and served a mission in the U.S. as well, although it was a Spanish speaking mission. I’m also probably not culturally sensitive enough. So I can’t say I’ve personally seen the imposition of one culture onto another within the Church, although I’ve heard stories.

    I’m all for respecting all cultures. At the same time, we should realize that every culture as it exists today is the result of a clashing and mixing and dominating and subordination of different cultures. Some good things have been gained from this, some good things have been lost. On the whole, hopefully “what works” is what emerges over time.

    My only reservation is that if we go too far in trying to “preserve” cultures by putting them into isolated, hermetically sealed categories and preventing them from being influenced by one another, we lose the dynamism and vitality of the continual mixing and evolution and progression of cultures that has been going on for millennia. I want the mixing and fusion of cultures to continue because that’s the way we can all benefit from the best in every culture.

    In that spirit, I would like to be careful about unnecessarily imposing Utahn/U.S. culture on Mormons in other countries. But I assume some cultural attributes will be transferred inevitably.

    What I am most desirous of seeing is that the good attributes in other cultures make their way from overseas into U.S. and Utahn Mormon culture. For example, I would love to see the more joyous African style of worship music make its way into our church hymnals here in the U.S. I would also love to see the addition of more “local” hymns, passed down through the faith of their fathers, added to the worship services in foreign lands. For example, if there is a popular Bolivian worship song that isn’t in the standardized hymn book that comes out of SLC, I would like to see the Bolivian Saints be able to use that song so they don’t have to abandon all the good aspects of the faith of their fathers.

  6. Regarding GC, there is no other facility than the Conference Center that could host such an event. And I’m fairly sure that English is still the majority language of “active” members.

  7. General Conference can be broadcast from anywhere the technology is adequate, given the recent multi-stake conference broadcasts. It has been broadcast from the Whitmer property in New York, at least portions of it!

    It’s a two-way street. As a Californian serving a German mission, I was somewhat amused that the German wards dipped their fingertips into a bowl of water before breaking the sacramental bread. This was strange to me, but I understood the symbolism of clean hands, although no soap was provided 🙂

    I have seen some examples of cultural colonialism when Utah transplants in my California ward talked about the Salt Lake Temple as the only REAL temple in the church, etc. I don’t know if they thought ordinances were more valid, or that spiritual experiences were more vivid, there…I dunno.

  8. “At the same time, we should realize that every culture as it exists today is the result of a clashing and mixing and dominating and subordination of different cultures.”

    This is an excellent point. While we should respect cultures, we should also remember that they may have came about by acts of terror and violence we’d consider unacceptable in this day and age. Some of the things still go on is considered reprehensible in our society (whaling, feet-binding, female circumcision, etc) are perfectly acceptable in the culture in which they exist, but are not tolerated in a “modern” society. As some of this practices should not be.

  9. Andrew – “I want the mixing and fusion of cultures to continue because that’s the way we can all benefit from the best in every culture.” I seem to recall this being brought up at GC a few years back. The concept was that some people wanted to preserve their own diverse cultural identity even when it conflicted with the church’s teachings, and this was taking it too far (according to the speaker). I can’t remember who gave the talk. I have to agree that there is value to a “melting pot” approach over just preserving and valuing diversity. But above all, people must be treated with respect and things that are not important can’t take precedent over things that are.

    Joe – you may be right that English speakers are still majority among active, but I believe Spanish speakers are more vast in total numbers (not sure, tho – anyone out there know?). Of course, GC is broadcast to the world, not just for active members.

  10. A relative of mine was a Relief Society President in Texas or “the mission field”. In this ward there were a lot of Utah transplants that would move in. Of course the ward was happy to see them, however one new Utah move-n introduced herself in Relief Society and added–“We just moved from Zion. . .” An audible gasp was heard in the room. This kind of condescending attitude of this gives Utahans a bad name. There are so many wards outside of “Zion” that are as strong as any in the church.
    I find that labeling anywhere outside the Mormon Corridor “the mission field” extremely irritating and condescending.

    In that same ward my RS president relative had to cut down on the number of expensive crafts the Utah transplants wanted to do. They would always want to have craft materials shipped in from Utah.

  11. I don’t mean this to be confrontational in any way, but the GC language issue is a red herring. From a strictly translation standpoint, it is MUCH easier to have all talks written in one common language and translated into all other necessary languages than to have all talks written in native languages and translated into all other languages – especially with all the money the Church spends on translation equipment. (Our stake just placed an order for dozens more for our Spanish members to use during Stake Conference – and they are not cheap.) Like it or not, English is the default language of international communication for a reason.

    I do think, however, that it would be cool to have the prayers offered in native tongues, with the membership simply having to have faith that they aren’t saying “Amen” to heresy.

  12. rk – “I find that labeling anywhere outside the Mormon Corridor “the mission field” extremely irritating and condescending.” I can honestly say that I never heard the term “the mission field” until I was at BYU. In my experience, it’s not a term used by those outside of UT to describe their own locale. As a result of hearing that term, I just assumed that there were no missionaries in UT, but then when I found out there are, I was even further confused.

  13. One more note: Most, if not all, native GA’s in GC write their talks in both languages – so, for example, the “translators” who provide the Spanish voices that are broadcast into the meetinghouses where Spanish-speaking members are gathered are reading the GA’s own words, not “translating” the talk as they listen to it.

  14. I don’t know if this applies or not, but while serving my mission in Australia over 25 years ago, we occasionally used the Christ in America door approach. It went something like this:

    Did you know that Jesus Christ visited the American continent shortly after his resurrection? We would like to share with you a book that describes that event written by prophets in the new world.

    As you might imagine, the majority of the Australian people were not greatly impressed. Many would mumble some exasperation about another American religion and shut the door. That and statements in the BoM that paint America as the land choice above all other lands didn’t do great things for the missionary work in that country. I would suspect some of our Australian visitors to this blog may still have problems with that little piece of doctrine as Australia is certainly a very beautiful and blessed land.

    On a separate note, hawkgrrrl asked me the other day if I would clarify my current status with the church after Ray wrongly accused me as being an ex-mormon. For the record, I still attend sacrament meeting most every Sunday and even Sunday school and Priesthood meeting on occasion. Most of the ward members would be shocked to learn that I no-longer believe as they do. Thanks to a bishop who doesn’t understand how I can still be in the church but not accept the foundational claims, I don’t have a temple recommend anymore…

    Hope that clears it up

  15. Pingback: The Sun Never Sets on the Mormon Empire - All Beliefs

  16. Never mind; I found it. I mis-read your comment and thought you were saying you had left the church. After looking at other threads, I realized you simply meant you don’t have a temple recommend and don’t believe as you used to believe. I apologize.

    Also, my calling you an ex-Mormon was not meant as a slight, as I hope you understand.

  17. Iow, it was not meant as an “accusation” – only as a statement of fact. Obviously, it was incorrect so not “fact”, but it was not an accusation. Having said that, again, I apologize.

  18. Ray,
    I was not offended at all. Hawkgrrrl seemed confused and asked for clarification. Unfortunately, the thread had closed before I could get back to it.

  19. And to clarify, since I know that alone didn’t add anything to the discussion, I’ve heard it mostly from transplants to Utah (especially in my own family).

  20. Dang, I’ve been colonized. I have never even lived in Utah, Idaho or California and I still use the the terms “mormon corridor” and “mission field.”

  21. For the record, Jeff (#1), at the request of the members in a branch in Japan, my companion and I taught them Halloween as well, lol. There is obviously nothing wrong with diversity–I was certainly diverse to Japanese people. What we tried to be careful of is to not attempt to “remake” the wards there with Utah culture. Elder Oaks warned us of that in the MTC (especially senior couples going to Africa, for some reason–I think some of them were trying to implant Utah Relief Society into Ghana), and said “One faith, one Lord, one baptism, THAT’S IT.” I love that quote. Notice the lack of “one handicraft.” 🙂

  22. I find that labeling anywhere outside the Mormon Corridor “the mission field” extremely irritating and condescending.

    Interesting. I grew up in Nova Scotia which hardly had a lot of members. Almost everyone, with pride, referred to it as the mission field. I don’t see what’s condescending about that.

  23. hawkgrrrl,

    It’s a bit of a long stretch to compare what was achieved with a gun by Europeans (“exporting their culture and traditions and imposing them on those colonized areas”) to what the church does in spreading the gospel.

    I can only mostly disagree with you here because firstly, the problems in France are simply racial (as in Germany with the turks) and not that much about culture. And those ‘leadership missionaries’ were only a pain in the …. because they were sent out to tell people what to do and always seemed to rub local leaders up the wrong way. That particular missionary program has to have been one of THE major failures the church has had over the years, and hopefully they are done with it!

    Only this “a third option, in the case of the church, is to become a truly world-wide church.. in which diversity of culture is embraced while retaining centralized doctrine” makes sense to me and it is happening more and more each year. In some villages in the pacific islands Wards meet in open wall-less chapels, and they seem to be building smaller chapels in south america. We play touch football (rugby) and not basketball in the rec hall and there is no longer a basketball court built out the back of new chapels (like they did in the ’70s)

    It was certainly a problem in the past were everything in developing areas of the church were done as in the US, and people had a naive view of other nations (like the ’70-’80 missionary handbook which claimed that all dates in latin america where chaperoned) but the church is changing. The original problem was a management and logistical problem rather than a cultural one and as time passes it become less so.

  24. “Is it cultural colonialism that conference is in English, always held in Utah, even though there are more LDS outside the US now”


    And its a bit of a myth actually, because although its true that in raw numbers there are more members outside the US, it is still a fact that the US members make up the biggest ethnic group in the church (some 48%) and english speakers out number all others by a long way.

    And remember that in some areas, like Brazil or The Philippines, the number of less active who are really never to be seen again is massive; much more of a problem that in the US.

    So its a matter of the majority ruling since no other country comes close to that 48%.

  25. Jeff Spector #1

    Maybe you ought to get out more into the real world. American culture isn’t ‘revered’ at all. People watch american films and shows because they are good, great works of art. Nothing to do with american culture. And people buy US products because they are simply good, like microsoft’s; you don’t necessarily revere japanese culture because you drive a Toyota? you’d buy one only if you think its value for money.

    And off course people are friendly to Americans, there isn’t a problem with the average American. The problem was/is with Bush and his cronies who firstly took religion to the white house (while supporting the death penalty) after pinching an election. And then he went off and invaded a sovereign country! (Iraq, not afghanistan war) This affects the entire world simply because of the size of the US economy, as it would if China acted that way invading other countries.

    What’s with: “they should be able to wear white shirts and ties”?
    Don’t ya think that people in other countries use shirts? or what do you mean?

  26. Doug #14:

    “That and statements in the BoM that paint America as the land choice above all other lands didn’t do great things for the missionary work in that country. I would suspect some of our Australian visitors to this blog may still have problems with that little piece of doctrine”

    No, don’t think so. I don’t, doctrine is just that, doctrine.

    They probably weren’t impressed because the typical bloke here just ain’t religious. Most a heavy bear drinkers and spend weekends away at the beach or some national park or fishing etc

  27. hawkgrrl #9


    As of end of 2006:




    All others—7%”
    Problem is that many of those Spanish speakers are baseball baptisms who will never return.

    “United States—5,690,672

    So the US leads by a long way.

    Ray #11,

    Every so often, a Tongan brother in our Ward will say a prayer in tongan, which is fine, but then he’ll give half of his talk in tongan in sacrament which is actually very frustrating. I wouldn’t mind a GC prayer in another language but we all need to know what the speaker is saying for it to be worthwhile.

  28. It’s a problem. I am from pioneer stock in Salt Lake. I do not live there now but I would love to be able to live there. I love Salt Lake. However, I have visited in wards outside of Utah where I have seen this happen with people from Utah. The members of the wards from Utah are the ones that comment in Relief Society very verbally…that know the most in Sunday School classes..that tell the members ..In My Ward We Did It This Way. You can see feathers ruffling among the local members all up and down the rows. They hate it. I wish people would stop doing that and just accept that each ward it it’s own local area..subject to local customs yet not out of line with the Church.

  29. “Maybe you ought to get out more into the real world. American culture isn’t ‘revered’ at all.”

    Carlos, My job has taken me to all parts of the world for 25 years, to every continent except Africa. I have been to Europe, for example, more times than I can count. For example, in the next month of May, I will be in Mexico, UK, Germany, France and Thailand. I have visited more than 30 of our Temples, at least half outside the US. Not bragging but just establishing my “cred” on this subject. If you read my post, I said that the war has had a negative effect on the way those governments treat us, but that the people of the world generally like Americans. The major exception might be Muslim Fundamentalists.

    I have walked their streets, watched their TV, seen their commercials, read their newspapers and talked to the local people. They like American culture, for the most part. That has been my experience. Just as I have loved their cultures and traditions. Maybe, you are personally different than that.

    “What’s with: “they should be able to wear white shirts and ties”?”

    Perhaps my post was not that clear. I said that I think that many LDS members of the Church outside of Utah and US want to identify with the Church as it appears to them. I think that if they WANT to wear white shirts and ties to emulate what they see at GC or with visiting authorities, they should be able to without Politically Correct US members claiming that it is the CHURCH that is corrupting their culture. That’s all I meant.

  30. Jeff:

    Don’t mind Carlos–as evidenced in previous posts here and at Times and Seasons, his modus operandi is “ready, fire, aim”. His next post will probably point out that he has a non-English first name and that should be taken as proof he knows what he’s talking about. If that doesn’t work, he’ll tell you to “chill out” and that he was only kidding.

    Your point is dead-on; while people worldwide don’t approve of US foreign policy, they are huge consumers of North American culture. Movies from Hollywood come close to making more money outside the US than at home. US authors and books by international authors that debuted in the US are found on bestseller lists across the globe.

  31. Carlos said, “I wouldn’t mind a GC prayer in another language but we all need to know what the speaker is saying for it to be worthwhile.”

    On this point I’m inclined to give the nod to Ray. I think it is beautiful to hear prayers in another language, and have noticed many a member, after hearing such a prayer at a missionary homecoming, fawn how they enjoy the spirit of it. Personally, I requested not to pray in Japanese at my homecoming, but was pressed by the bishop and my mom to do so because of how many people would enjoy it. Now it’s true, similar to the historical practice of speaking in tongues, that the Spirit can speak truth directly to the heart of the recipient despite a language barrier. [And I’ll tell ya, with speaking in tongues there is quite the ‘language barrier’ 😉 ]

    It’s also true that by “spirit” such persons may also merely be enjoying a “ceremonial acknowledgement” that the gospel is and has been traveling to all tongues and all peoples. Sure, it’s a risk that if a prayer were given in a language different than the congregation’s that the person praying could be giving us a green Jello recipe instead, or worse, preaching false doctrine. And saying Amen to the possible false prayer might seem to be some magical approval binding us to such an experience. More likely, if they’re an RM, they’re just speaking very poor grammar for their non-native language, but the heart is earnest. And in the case of GC, not only could you have a non-English native prayer-giver, not only would many members enjoy the experience for all the reasons above, but you could be quite confident Jello recipes nor false doctrine were being uttered.

  32. I, for one, wouldn’t mind prayers in another language in almost any meeting.

    On the other hand, I would like to point out that cultural colonialism is often a two-way process. On my mission in Peru, it seemed that the majority of people that we baptized that stayed active in the church were from a lower to upper middle class economic background. The Pentecostal churches tended to convert many of those from the lowest classes. Although American missionaries spent time trying to infuse some aspects of Mormon culture into the Peruvian congregations, many of the Peruvians, especially those in a middle-class social position, had aspirations of emigration and seemed fascinated with all things American. I think that one of the draws that the church exerts in many third-world countries is the promise of romanticized Americanism.

  33. I’d like to point out that “Carlos” and Carlos U. are not the same person. I asked him already to use an initial, but he seems sure he must be the only Carlos in the Blogernacle. FYI.

  34. I’ve long thought that one of the happy side effects of the missionary program is the cross-pollenation it encourages. While it’s true that some missionaries from the “core” of the church may have imperialistic tendencies, it’s also true that they return and bring with them expanded perspectives and new experiences with how the gospel and doctrine might be applied (as opposed to just the culture experienced) in other areas. While it’s pretty slow with such large majorities in membership in just a few cultures, over time I think this is one of the factors that will stir the pot. What we ought to be aware of is our resistance to the pot stirring – knowing which things actually NEED preserving (doctrine) and which things just reflect the people who worship.

  35. “That and statements in the BoM that paint America as the land choice above all other lands didn’t do great things for the missionary work in that country. I would suspect some of our Australian visitors to this blog may still have problems with that little piece of doctrine”

    No, don’t think so. I don’t, doctrine is just that, doctrine.


    Fair enough, I’m a little surprised by your passiveness as many members in Australia weren’t thrilled at all with it and yet still believed the book was true. With the limited geography theory being pushed these days at FAIR and FARMS, I would say those of us in the USA will need to adopt your attitude as well and except that the promised land is actually in Central America somewhere…

    BTW, I actually agree with you on the ugly American thing. While on a mission in your fair country, I can’t even tell you how many times someone shouted at me “Yankee go home!” and other even less friendly sayings. I also spent five years of Okinawa Japan and found that we are just tolerated there as well. Not loved, as some would like to believe.

  36. Innocent Bystander #34,

    Mate, whats wrong with you? You stalking me or what?

    For the millionth time, I’m not the same person that was on T&S. (Although after reading it he was right that the Spaniards’ z is the ‘th’ sound in English, but so what?)

    Go back to whatever rock you came from!

    And by the way, I wrote “people buy US products because they are simply good’ and ‘people are friendly to Americans, there isn’t a problem with the average American’.

    Seems that in your hatred you didn’t bother to read what I actually wrote here.

  37. Carlos U. #37

    I can’t remember ever reading something about using an initial. Where was that? or you may have written to another Carlos.
    (I’m starting to use my initials from now on just in case)

    Just for Quix #37,

    Oops, I meant to say “I wouldn’t mind a GC prayer in another language, but [for talks] we all need to know what the speaker is saying [in their talks] for it to be worthwhile”

    I agree with having prayers in another language; its the talks in sacrament that I want to understand fully.

  38. Carlos:

    Here’s what you wrote:

    “Maybe you ought to get out more into the real world. American culture isn’t ‘revered’ at all. People watch american films and shows because they are good, great works of art. Nothing to do with american culture..”

    What are films, books, music, TV shows, and art if not culture? That people like and ‘consume’ them means they like and consume American culture. Your attacking Jeff for making that very point was ridiculous.

    Other manifestations of American culture are sweeping the globe as well, from fast food “restaraunts” to gated housing communities whose homes are built on floorplans drawn up in North America.

    Is your argument that these aren’t representations of US culture? If so, what is your definition of US culture and what elements of it aren’t revered throughout the world?

  39. Jeff Spector #35,

    It seems you’ve traveled more than me. I only do some pacific, and the a run from Chile, Arg, Uru, Para and southern Brasil (and I’m kind of tired of the traveling). The Americans do the rest of Latin American. Our HQ is in Tokyo. But I had problems visiting the temple in Chile because they made me wait for about an hour to verify my recommend, issued in Sydney, and after that the Pt still interviewed me. So after that experience I just avoid temples and only do the job.

    But we may be seeing the same from different angles. I’d say that people buy US products, like movies, books, TV shows, because they are simply good value and good art work. You’re saying that it’s because they like US culture. Well, its just that for me ‘US culture’ is more about gridiron and cheer leaders or starting parties at 9pm. That part of US culture hasn’t caught on that much imo. And yes we agree that the problem is with the government, or with Bush really, but not with the ‘average american’. In that we are saying the same thing with different words.

    I see what you meant with ‘white shirt’, but really I think that there are only very few countries left around the world where ‘white shirts’ isn’t the basic norm for business or formal wear. But honestly I prefer light colored shirts for church

  40. Doug G. 39,

    Interesting that Central America will now be the promised land… 🙂

    By the way, what cities did you do?

    I think you’ll find that the country has changed a lot since you served here, especially the big cities. I think towns are more biased and less visitor friendly than the big cities. The Olympics had a huge effect on the culture here and now its probably more european and pro-international than pro-US. And people are much more tolerant of visitors because of the huge tourism industry. But missionaries still cope a lot flack and get hosed down every now and then but its because of the general anti-religion culture than a anti-US thing, imo only. Others may think differently off course.

  41. Carlos:

    “Well, its just that for me ‘US culture’ is more about gridiron and cheer leaders or starting parties at 9pm.”

    That’s it? The religious, legal, and popular culture of the United States is sweeping the world–trials by jury are starting in Venezuela; US style Pentecostal churches are attracting huge numbers of converts throughout the developing world; the Simpsons, Fallout Boy, and Brittney Spears are known world-wide, yet for you American culture is nothing more than US football, cheerleaders, and starting evenings early. No wonder you didn’t get Jeff’s point.

    BTW, Boca Juniors has its own cheerleading squad now, so I guess you’ll have to wipe away that “pillar” of American culture that nobody reveres.

    Warning–following link shows young women in very immodest attire. I’m posting it simply to show Carlos I’m not making it up. Do not click on it if immodesty offends you:

    Also I know jury trials aren’t a US invention; I also know much of what is believed to be US culture is actually shared by countries colonized by Anglo-Saxon peoples, but much of Anglo-Saxon culture is associated primarily with the US, particularly in the developing world.

  42. Innocent,

    Well, at least you dropped some of the hatred. Welcome to MM 🙂 (I’ll ignore the ‘ridiculous’ accusation)

    By culture I mean the way people do things that is outside business; cultivating social actions and practices not the product one sells. And I know that we use terms like ‘organisational culture’ but that’s not about the product but about the work practice.

    When one has to sell something each month, weather its a movie, book, or franchise a la McDonald’s, then its no longer about ‘culture’ but just work -we have to make our quota and it doesn’t matter who you sell to or where they live. As an example, look at the Japanese, we buy their products but not necessarily their respectful ‘culture’ at home. We also buy Iranian oil but don’t import their culture even if you go to an Iranian restaurant ever now and then. And we buy Microsoft products but don’t necessarily like gridiron or baseball -nor watch that so called ‘world series’ 🙂

    But the world is getting smaller and you see things like Italian style cafe’s with tables on the footpath more and more. But again its because the product is good; people enjoy eating outside next to the street, but not because we are all becoming Italians nor do we ‘revere’ Italian culture; like you don’t necessarily start to speak with your hands after eating some ravioli! We may enjoy seeing them talk with their hands. Then there’s the pizzas, spaghetti’s, lasagna ….. 🙂

    You see, in the ‘real world’ we have to sell and make our quota and it doesn’t matter where the buyer lives.

    PD Its ‘Carlos JC’ now, so as to not offend ‘Carlos U’ 🙂 )

  43. #45 – All recent talk of allowing open discussion aside, I’m not sure that’s a link that the admins want to have active on this blog.

  44. ‘trials by jury are starting in Venezuela’ because it works better, its a better system.

    ‘US style Pentecostal churches’ = religion, not culture.

    ‘the Simpsons = good product,

    Fallout Boy = bad product which won’t last.

    ‘Brittney Spears’ = no undies, nough said’ 🙂

    ‘Also I know jury trials aren’t a US invention’ at least you recognized it. But its still US culture for you?

    And yes, I knew about those Boca girls who seem to have less clothing that the Dallas Cowboy’s ones (who came here to Sydney once) but that’s a drop in the ocean and honestly I don’t think that they will last for long. My opinion only and I may be wrong. But when I saw Boca-San Lorenzo some 3 years ago the girls didn’t get much attention. The two ‘hinchadas’ wanted to kill each other and out sing each other. But just what I saw that Sunday afternoon, which may change one day, again, if the product is actually, fundamentally, good.

    Notice that the FLDS isn’t selling anywhere? I say because its a bad product, nothing to do with the culture.

  45. Carlos,

    “Well, its just that for me ‘US culture’ is more about gridiron and cheer leaders or starting parties at 9pm. That part of US culture hasn’t caught on that much imo.”

    They have America football in Europe. But, of course, I ask the question, why would you want it when you have Soccer? Let’s not forget basketball. That has become very universal. There is also Ice Hockey in many parts of the world as well, including Japan (granted it is Canadian, but that’s close enough).

    But in addition to what IB mentioned, you have jeans and other clothing, food (McDonald’s, Wendy’s KFS, etc), music and much more.. Let’s face it American culture is worldwide.

    I didn’t get the “starting parties at 9PM.: Most Europeans eat very late. Spanish eat as late as 11PM.

  46. Jeff,

    Well, again, you’re saying that the goods and services a nation produces are its culture. In this we disagree. I think the goods sell because they are good products -no matter who makes it. so jeans, McDonald’s, KFS isn’t part of a nations culture but its goods and services. And again, its akin to saying that all US drivers who drive a Japanese car prefer or ‘revere’ Japanese culture. But that isn’t the case at all. Or all who eat pizza’s revere Italian culture and so on.

    That ‘starting parties at 9pm’ is because in US culture many or most parties start around 9pm, like proms etc. In most of the latin world parties tend to start at midnight and finish at 6am. So that aspect of ‘american culture’ hasn’t spread at all.

    And (again) basketball spread because its a good product, and good game that people can understand and enjoy. Its not a question of copying or adopting US culture. Same thing happened with football (your soccer) and rugby which the English invented. Honestly I haven’t seen American football anywhere else than in the US/Canada.

  47. Doug,

    I’m not sure about Hobart, but Melbourne is much more tolerant today than 20 years ago, even though people are losing interest in bible things. But yes, I’d say bible bashers are treated better although lately the big evangelical churches have being coping a hiding in the press due to their business practices.

  48. Carlos,

    Interesting, even 25 years ago I thought the good folks of Melbourne were not very interested in religion. I did hear lot of them tell me, “Got me own religion mate, she’ll-be-right” and yet the local churches were going bankrupt. As missionaries we were told that at the rate we were baptizing people and the zero population growth of the country, Australia would be almost 50% Mormon by the year 2020. Something tells me that prediction isn’t going to come true…

    In 1981 the five missions in Australia were baptizing on average around 800 souls per month total. Carlos, you don’t happen to know how many convert baptisms there were last year in your country do you? I’m just curious if things have changed much…


  49. Doug,

    Our stake aims for 50 a year but never reaches 30. I heard that one stake in Sydney, I think Macarthur, regularly gets over 100 but most are islanders and kiwis, not the ‘she’ll-be-right’ types. I’m certain that the 50% won’t happen, not even close. Also in Sydney -and probably all major cities- the growth of Wards and Stakes is mainly due to immigration of the already members, especially from the islands.

    They did send us the mission baptism numbers -all missions in the area including PNG- but I don’t recall them now. I’ll look it up next stake meeting because I’m sure I filed it away somewhere.

  50. “Well, again, you’re saying that the goods and services a nation produces are its culture.”

    So , Carlos, what is a nation’s cultural if not its arts, its food, its trends, it clothings? Exactly ,what in your mind is culture? And keep it to modern culture.


  51. Jeff,

    Mate, I answered this in #50. For me, again, the things you buy, what you pay money for, can never be included in ‘culture’, no matter what some weird sociologist claims.

    Saying that KFC or Mccas is a part of america’s cultural influence on the world is like saying that some samoan farmer who plants banana and sells it to clients in los angeles is ‘influencing’ californian culture! And again, I repeat, when you guys start to talk with your hands after eating spaghetti, well then I might believe yrour arguments here.

    But putting Hollywood (where all acting Oscars went to europeans this year) KFC, Domino’s, Ford and similar businesses forward as americas’ culture influence on the world must surely be the epitome of US arrogance and pomposity! And why, if there are US cultural influences to admire like edgar allen poe, hemingway, MLK speeches, jane pittman, the concept of freedom of the press, even the idea of having a single currency across several states which the EU successfully copied (without paying royalties) Why with all those great examples of american culture would one look to a pizza or a burger?? Beats me. Anyway we’ve been through this before and I have to get some sleep, gotta catch a plan tomorrow.

  52. I thought that was very interesting. I hope that as the Church spreads through the world we’ll be able to distinguish what our beliefs and doctrine really are and what is simply our culture.

  53. Always good to read about gridiron and football, I’ve never really understood the difference between them.

    Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive, is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

  54. Ethnocentricism is human nature and not just overzelous mormons are guilty. I’ve had mormons move here from Utah who acclimate but also retain their individual preferences or “utahisms”. Tolerance is key. It’s ok to suggest something different such as a Pioneer Parade, but maybe instead of focusing on the pioneers of the 1800’s, the focus shift to those first gen members, and give thanks to ALL first gen members.

  55. What people do not understand is that Muslims want special rights not equal rights. I mean go to a Muslim country and you will not have religious freedom in fact virtually all Muslim countries are run by dictaors, kings or strong men. Iraq is technically the first democracy but I doubt it will last long. In fact in Muslim countries if you were to bring a book of mormon or Bible you could be arrested and if you convert to Chistianity from Islam you can be killed. That sort of thing does not happen in the USA or Europe. Mostly because of the protestant reformation which brought about the enlightenment and then secularization of Western Civilization. Now Iknow most muslims in the USA are glad to be here; but I cannot understand why they want to force their religion on us here or France.

  56. Pingback: Mormon Colonialism Revisited | Wheat and Tares

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