LDS Church HQ announces its Relocation to New Zealand! (Well, not really but…..)

After a one month summer hiatus its time to hit the New Year with more unwanted opinion from the antipodes! What better way to kick 2013 off than with a bit of serious silliness?

Sitting around our dinner table last night was our usual contingent of diminutive masculinity, but we were joined by three young adults and together we put to work our collective minds in order to imagine what the church would be like if its cultural and administrative centre was in New Zealand.  In all earnestness there is a point here.  A point that I have attempted to make time and time again over the last year, and one I will keep banging on about until I can’t be bothered anymore. Religion is cultural.  Frankly, it has to be, to remain relevant and meaningful.  As the scriptures lift off the page, they naturally adhere to cultural systems.  They might indeed influence or shape pre-existing systems, or those cultural systems might in turn shape a religion’s ideas, but religion does not exist in isolation to culture.

So when we  think about the LDS church with its administrative and cultural centre sitting in the US, and in Utah specifically, it takes on certain cultural habits and ideas which are not quite so evident if you live close to the centre, but are glaringly obvious the further you get away from it.

I know, I know, there are many people who live in the US who blame Utah for a brand of Mormonism that gets up the goat of many non-Utah Mormons.  And its more than they way they say, ‘rif’, instead of  ‘roof’.  It’s a presumptive spiritual superiority that comes from the way that the church is used as a foil for reproducing and normalizing certain cultural practices.    They get to do it Utah because they simply have the numbers.   But to the rest of the world, it just seems slightly odd, and oddly scary.

But the continental US isn’t off the hook either.  The Utah quirks aside, to us at the periphery, the church breaths and smells American; from its dogged insistence on white shirts and ties, to basketball courts in New Zealand chapels, to calling church leaders ‘President’, to this unhinged insistence that Jesus is a member of the GOP.  All of this ‘cultural’ stuff is so deeply American I want holler Yankee Doodle and eat a Twinkie even as I write.

So, just for fun here is a question.  What if we uprooted LDS Inc. and put it in New Zealand?  Naturally it would shed some of its American cultural baggage and take on some Kiwi cultural habits.  What would it look like? Well here are some clearly well developed ideas….

  • We would have no appetite for  that drippy Afterglow, hallelujah Mormon pop that makes us want to strip down to wear leather tunics, wield swords and weep.   Our cultural music would have a definite R&B, soul, jazz influence.  The Flight of the Concords would be an important influence on church music, and we’d make natty adaptations to their chart toppers such as:

“The Gentile’s are Dead”

“The Most Beautiful Young Woman”

“It’s Pro-Creation Time”

“Relief Society Ladies in the World”

  • Instead of pioneer handcart reenactments, we’d have Froddo throws the ring into the fires of Mordor, dramatic pageants, where Mormons will play the Hobbits, the Elves will played by the Catholics, and the Dwarves are the evangelicals.
  • Church gatherings would involve good food, and lots of it.  We’d be chastised for our gratuitous eating.  But it wouldn’t stop us from indulging.  Firesides would become ‘food-sides’ and eventually certain food will be iconized as the quintessential Mormon fare.  This would include sausages, chop suey, kina, white bread and butter, pumpkin soup and lamingtons.
  • Speaking of chapels, our buildings would look more marae than the cinderblock blah that we have now.  The interiors would have carvings that the ward whakapapa consultant (aka family history consultant) would have to be familiar with as a first requirement on the job.  We would have to remove our shoes before going inside, which would inevitably change our apparel cause some dresses and suits just don’t look great without footwear.
  • We’d drop the titles ‘brother and sister’ and use ‘uncle and auntie’ or just their first names.  The bishop might be called ‘bishop’ but mostly he’d still be called Jeff .
  • The sacrament prayer cards would have to be rewritten to say,  “We arks thee…”
  • The  musical accompaniment would be the guitar.
  • There would be more hugging and kissing.  Handshaking would give way to the obligatory kiss on the check, even a hongi.
  • We’d definitely employ cleaners.  Saturday mornings are so busy with rugby in the winter, and cricket in the summer.  So who can afford the time?  In fact, because we New Zealanders are a resourceful sort of people, in rural and coastal areas we’d pay those who cleaned the chapel with a side of lamb, and a sack of mussels.
  • We’d get rid of the recreation hall as a pointless waste of space and build an external pavilion over-looking a rugby field, and/or a cricket pitch.  We’d drop the whole basketball thing – because unless you went to Church College, who plays the silly game anyway?  It would be volleyball for the Samoans, rugby for the Maori, and cricket for the Pakeha’s (if there are any).
  • Our elderly folk would all occupy the front seats in the chapel; they’d attend Ward Council as a matter of course, and they would have important ceremonial duties that will keep them busy such as funerals, the blessing of children, formal welcoming ceremonies.
  • All new members to the ward would be welcomed with a powhiri.
  • It would be expected, on a regular basis,  that all members of the church would venture back to their ward or branch of origin to reconnect with their own, at which time a huge feast would be held in their honour.
  • Women would have had the priesthood long ago.
  • We’d be on a first name basis with the Prophet and the Apostles.  There’d be no special pomp and wanton adoration of them.   They’d be treated with respect but would be expected to take a drubbing from our kaumatua (our elderly folk) should they require it, in order to put them in their place.
  • In the temple presentation, God would be played by someone with a BBC accent, and Jesus would be played by a Māori.
  • The financial statements of the church would be transparent and there would be an expectation of accountability and responsibility.  We’d get the Japanese, the French, and the Americans to come in and run our finances;   The Japanese because they have strong company loyalty, the French because they are lefties and will see the greater communal good before private gain, and the Americans because they thrive in bureaucracies.  All of this, done under New Zealand legal control, will be a heady combination.
  • Nepotism is only rife in religiously colonized contexts, left to our own devices we’d settle the ‘whose who?’ and the ‘how much?’ questions with our quintessential egalitarian approach.  Our antipathy for  tall poppies would ensure that no-one got too big for their boots.
  • Swandris, ladies in pants  - all good as long as you show up.  Culturally we are more modest than Americans so the emphasis on covering up would be redundant here – at least while Maori and Polynesians are in the majority.  Long hair, facial hair, leg hair, arm pit hair,  would all be acceptable and would be seen as largely unrelated to ones spiritual state.
  • Only the North Shore Mormons, and one Mormon in Wellington, would vote for National, and try as they may to inflect this political habit into churched spaces, they’d be shunned and ridiculed by the rest of the country as being pompous and out of touch.  The rest of the country would vote Labour, Greens and the Māori party.  Our elderly would all vote for New Zealand First, which we’ll forgive them for with an indulgent pat on the arm.
  • We could say ‘hell’ and ‘damn’ in sacrament meeting as much as we bloody well liked – without fearing offense!
  • The Green Hymnbook would have a definite redo.  We’d take out the whole section of American anthems and replace them with ‘God of Nations’, the All Black Haka, Now is the Hour, and ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’.
  • The question:  “Do you have a sense of humour?”  would appear in temple recommend interviews.
  • We’d withdraw funding for BYU and pour into a New Zealand LDS university.  We’d call the campus  Emma Smith University, because she was clearly a New Zealander, as well as which it would do Brigham Young good to know ‘that she devil’ had bested him.

And what would this mean for the rest of the world?  Well, if we were take a leaf out of America’s books we’d expect every other nation (including the US)  to read our cultural behavior and replicate it as an important indicator of Mormon identity.  But inasmuch as we aren’t ‘like that’ we’d give all other peoples their  their dues and encourage them to love their nation.  We’d also expect everyone to be culturally, politically and economically literate so that they are aware of the unhelpful proclivity of humankind to see their spiritual state as inseparably and unavoidably connected to their cultural ideologies.  America could have their star-spangled GOP and green jello salad, Australia could have their tiny togs,  England could keep their football and their ‘oi, oi, oi’,  South Africa could have their ‘lets eat the side of a waterbuck’ BBQ’s,  and Samoa could keep their jandals as cultural expressions, but we’d all be able to resist their sanctification as unassailable church rites and/or beliefs because we saw it as a grave religious duty to do so!

Aaaah!  Now wouldn’t that be a wonderful day?!  I feel so convinced, that I’m thinking of starting a petition!

 

  • http://learnandteachstatistics.wordpress.com/ Nicola Ward Petty

    We would abandon foreign vocabulary such as “opening exercises” , “visiting” and… Oh my goodness! I’ve just realised that visiting teaching doesn’t imply going to a person’s house in american the way it does in New Zealand! In America people “visit” with each other in the foyer!!! This is a breakthrough in intercultural communication. I’ll have to go think about that.
    Interesting how hard it is to recognise one’s own cultural peculiarities. They just are!

    • Gina Colvin

      Oooh! Yes, you are right. All this time I thought we had to visit people’s houses, but actually we just had to ‘visit’ with them – in the American sense. The men are supposed to go to their homes. Duh!!!

  • alasdair wright

    Hooray for normalcy!
    Go the Kiwis !!

    Since we lead the world in Space Exploration ( Dr William Pickering), Atom-splitting ( Lord Ernest Rutherford of Nelson; the Father of Nuclear Physics), Load-and-weight Lead Bearings technology ( as evidenced at Te Papa, Wellington); we can do without “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, “The Star Spangled Banner”, and various other dumb and stupid American Hymns. Let’s replace the lot with NZ HYMNS. Why not “My Old Man’s an All Black”, “Rugby, Racing, and Beer”, “Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line”, and “Love in a Fowlhouse” ??

    • Gina Colvin

      Now, now Alasdair – they aren’t dumb and stupid. They are very important – but to the Americans, and to those songs they are perfectly entitled (as long as the rest of the world doesn’t have see them in their own hymn books). Not sure Rugby, Racing and Beer would make a good contribution to our sacred services! Perhaps Rugby, Equestrian and Ginger Beer?

      • alasdair wright

        Ah, Gina….I had to laugh at the suggestion of “Rugby, Equestrian, and Ginger Beer”. Probably would make for a sort of heady brew of sorts.

        Anyway, if we were to “Circumcise the Hymnbook”, why not include “The KB Cannonball” as a distinctly NZ-flavoured Song? Which, I might add, was written on the back of an exercise book, and the distant sound of a KB was heard as this thundered its way towards Kirwee. At night. This also is part of my Funeral Music, I might add. Nothing like a thunderous whistle-blast of a KB to get your excitement levels climbing!

        I am still in favour of “Rugby,Racing, and Beer”
        Although the latter might well be changed to Root Beer ( shame!shame!)

        By the way:
        “Circumcise the Hymnbook” means to cut out irrelevany Hymns that do not apply to the Monarchial System as we have here……. all said in a humorous tone, of course

        • alasdair wright

          Sorry……misspelt “irrelevant”

    • Darren

      “Since we lead the world in Space Exploration ( Dr William Pickering), Atom-splitting ( Lord Ernest Rutherford of Nelson; the Father of Nuclear Physics), Load-and-weight Lead Bearings technology ( as evidenced at Te Papa, Wellington)”

      (Just to note for others) Oh, the blessings of English imperialism!!! ;>)

  • Jessica petty

    In America it is frowned upon to count visiting teaching in the foyer just as much as it is here, Nicola. :)

    I think personally we need to stop blaming culture and just be the best we can be, instead of riffing on something we might dislike.

  • Jessica Petty

    Also, I’m sorry, but I need to raise a concern. I can tell what you’re trying to say, that no matter where the church HQ is, the culture there will affect it and you even poke fun at the NZ culture. However, it’s posts like these that seem to send a strong message to me, as a woman originally raised and from Utah who has been transplanted to NZ, “Mormons from Utah, we don’t want you or any remnant of your culture here!”. It’s then that I feel alienated from the church here, just because of where I am from. I was born amongst a culture that is so widely and openly regarded in NZ as ‘inaffective’, ‘stupid’, ‘outdated’, and ‘cheesy’. It is constantly mocked and belittled. If someone from NZ were to move into Utah and I were still there, I would more than welcome them to keep their culture. In my singles ward in Ephraim, half our ward was Tongan. Half of the ward wore traditional Tongan church clothing, half of them spoke, taught, and acted Tongan, and I always encouraged that, welcomed them and their culture. I would love it if the same was granted to me here. I’m not asking you to change the way you do things, but I am asking you to accept mine and please not be so spiteful to my homeland or culture.

    • Gina Colvin

      I don’t think I’m being spiteful at all Jessica. But what you seem to be saying is that what I’ve said about America/American culture is undermining and belittling, but what do you think it does to us in New Zealand when almost every way we are required to run the church tells us that a New Zealand way of doing things is ‘ineffective, stupid and outdated’? The fact is, you belong to a culturally imperialistic state, and you can’t escape the inevitable kick back you will get because of that. This is all in good fun, and is very light hearted – take a deep breath and don’t take it so seriously!! An unfortunate rite of passage as an American in the New Zealand is a bit of ribbing. You could either roll with it and enjoy it, or you could cut your bottom lip bitting down too hard because of it!!

      • Darren

        “But what you seem to be saying is that what I’ve said about America/American culture is undermining and belittling, but what do you think it does to us in New Zealand when almost every way we are required to run the church tells us that a New Zealand way of doing things is ‘ineffective, stupid and outdated’?”

        It’s unfortunate that you seem to have encountered so much negative vibes from americans and Utahns. I won’t lie to you and say that I can relate to your positions. Frankly, I can’t. I did not grow up anywhere near Utah and never wanted to in large part to avoid the Utah culture but I never felt dominated by Utah. Even at BYU the Utah culture was buried so it woud not be mocked by the “outsiders” who attended that university. I’ve no problem with the white shirt / tie standard but it is important for embers to realize that it is not an official LDS dress standard for curch attendance.

        In Brazil we missionaries were perfectly fine with people wearing whatever they had as their best dress in order to attend. Over time they voluntarily began to wear the white shirt and tie. not out of force but out of a willingness to be part of the LDS culture at large. so while it is not an official dress position by the bretheren of the Church, I do not find it problematic in creating a certain dress code or standard, howbeit unofficial, which identifies people as LDS. In fact, I think you can say that’s culture creeping in to church which, as you pointed out, is perfectly natural.

        You constantly berate the American culture, what about your own British culture? If you see native Maori drinking tea and eating crackers do you feel they are being dominated by the [white] New Zealand culture? What if they live in brick homes with chimneys? Do tall buildings in large cities remind you of British dominance over its native people? Really, just how far are you wanting to go with this sort of cultural zeal?

        • Gina Colvin

          Dude! Settle down – its a piss-take!

          • Darren

            What’s a piss-take?

    • Darren

      “I was born amongst a culture that is so widely and openly regarded in NZ as ‘inaffective’, ‘stupid’, ‘outdated’, and ‘cheesy’.”

      I grew up in the Chicago area and that’s how we describe folks from Utah. ;>)

      But I think here’s a great point you made: “If someone from NZ were to move into Utah and I were still there, I would more than welcome them to keep their culture. In my singles ward in Ephraim, half our ward was Tongan. Half of the ward wore traditional Tongan church clothing, half of them spoke, taught, and acted Tongan, and I always encouraged that, welcomed them and their culture.”

      Exactly. I’ve had Tongan and samoans in my ward growing up and that was the case with them as well. They’re perfectly free and welcome to wear their traditional outfits to church and their cultural traditions are very welcome.

      • Gina Colvin

        Yes – but would you wear theirs? Did you learn their language, eat their food, adopt their customs?

        • Darren

          Nope. I have not learned their customs, nor eaten their food, nor learned their language. If ocassion calls for wearing their outfit, sure, sure I would. To me it would be no different than wearing a leigh to church in Hawaii or shouting out “alooooooha!” from the pulpit. The only person that’s been close to me and from New Zealand was back in the Chicago area. But she’s so Americanized that she speaks fluent street ghetto and cooks all American food. Oh well. Her brother came to visit and attended our ward. I tell you, I never heard better English spoken when reading the scriptures. He wore a white shirt and tie to our church. I guess he was being oppressed or something. ;>) (That’s a piss take if I’m getting the context right, which I’m probably not).

          My main point to Jessica Petty is that I do not find the american culture nearly as imerialistic as you make it seem. Including the american culture in the church though, again, I do think that members should learn what is official church positions and not and make decisions accordingly.

  • Leonie

    I like calling people brother and sister but i could adopt calling older people auntie or uncle however calling all bishops Jeff might be tricky. lol
    I’m confused about how Jesus became a member of the GOP and probably the NRA too. Next thing we’ll be seeing pictures of Jesus riding in a flash car and branding a rapid fire rifle.

    • Gina Colvin

      I think all Bishops should be called Jeff. In fact – lets get rid of the title ‘bishop’ all together and replace with Jeff!

      • Darren

        Heh!!!

  • Leonie

    That’s brandishing

  • JohnH

    It is interesting to me the number of things listed which you could have in your ward or branch, nothing from Utah is stopping you. That is, it is primarily the culture of your own area of the church which is holding it back and it is attempting to be like that of Utah despite Utah having hardly anything to do with it.

    “Church gatherings would involve good food, and lots of it.”
    The branch I grew up in (in the US) always had food and lots of it at everything. General Conference was always fun because in between the sessions it was a huge potluck feast. It was only later that I realized most places didn’t do that, that the branch covered a land area larger then some countries was a big factor in why food was so common.

    “There would be more hugging and kissing.”
    There are plenty of places in the Church where hugging and kissing is the common greeting, nothing is stopping the saints anywhere from having that as the norm except for themselves.

    “So who can afford the time? ”
    Completely misses the point of why it is done this way.

    “recreation hall as a pointless waste of space”
    This has a point, but it misses that there are chapels in the world that have both a recreation (cultural) hall and soccer fields, and that depending on the area presidency, stake presidency, local leadership, as well as space and budget there is nothing saying that a rugby field and/or pavilion could not be built. Such things don’t happen more in many cases because people aren’t aware that it can happen; if you try to push for it you would likely face resistance primarily from local leaders and often less so as you move up, with the area presidency possibly not even aware that basketball may not be popular in NZ.

    “all good as long as you show up”
    As far as the Church Handbook of Instructions is concerned it is all good as long as you shop up and are wearing what you find helps you worship God and be respectful to God the best. If instead of making an issue about wearing pants the women just wore pants then there likely would not have been any comments, not that I saw any comments in person as there were no women wearing pants in my ward. I imagine that since it was published in the local paper that the women were aware of the wear pants thingy and chose not to as there are usually a few women that do wear pants to church.

    “n the temple presentation, God would be played by someone with a BBC accent, and Jesus would be played by a Māori.”
    In Brazil Satan is dubbed by someone with a Portugal accent meaning they have a harder ‘r’ and a different ‘rr’ sound; it actually sounds quite neat in my opinion.

    “Women would have had the priesthood long ago.”
    Isn’t that up to God to decide and not anyone else?

    “We’d be on a first name basis with the Prophet and the Apostles. There’d be no special pomp and wanton adoration of them. They’d be treated with respect but would be expected to take a drubbing from our kaumatua (our elderly folk) should they require it, in order to put them in their place.”

    This actually happens some in Utah, or at least used to. My grandmother was on a first name basis for the current prophet, who when he was a new apostle got them called as mission presidents partially because he thought it would be funny to call someone with the same last name as the mission to the mission; apparently my grandfather thought that was a funny idea too and played it up for all it was worth in the press. Listening to Conference with her was quite amusing and dropping off home remedies for various aliments to the home of an apostle for my grandmother gave a different perspective to things. The size of the Church is a big reason why this isn’t more common, I think at least.

    • Darren

      “There are plenty of places in the Church where hugging and kissing is the common greeting, nothing is stopping the saints anywhere from having that as the norm except for themselves.”

      That’s absolutely correct. In Brazil, lots of people greet with a hgug or kiss, especially when at least one of the the people is female. Though it was against mission rules for missionaries to accept kisses from anyone. Perhaps that’s an American thing but frankly I agreed with it though I’m open for said rules and standards be based upon local customs.

  • http://mormonmentality.org/author/orwell Orwell

    Religion is cultural.

    True. This post was of great interest to me because I just reposted something of mine from a while ago which dovetails very nicely with this sentiment:

    I am not convinced that there is a significant difference between Mormon doctrine and culture — that is, Mormon doctrine is only a subset of Mormon culture, a living hegemony of accepted orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

  • Sara

    I’ve been to this Church, it much further north than here, just up past Auckland I believe.

    So many responses…. Yes the Obama Administration in particular has been accused of cultural imperialism (dictating use of birth control in order to get aid for some African countries type thing) but I think we as in non-American countries are guilty of embracing the cool culture of America but are now over it. Similar thing happened in the 1950s here, our education system was not to a perceived American standard so Church College came into being. Growing up non-Mormon in Hamilton, Church College academically was totally marginalised cause everyone knows being top in Seminary is not academic and choosing your Dux based on that and one other class hardly qualified for an academic honour. Brownie badge yes, Dux no. I find it interesting you’d favour British cultural imperialism over American as surely we can be telling our Labour Missionary story rather than Lord of the Rings (though toiling in a swamp inHamilton is less glam than trolling through the Southern Alps waiting for eagles to come to the rescue – oh wait aren’t eagles American?).

    As for the political spectrum (or lack of it), as a Church that bases it’s self on agency surely when looking at a political party to support you’d be looking at degree of control over the individual. None of the parties you mentioned are pro-freedom. They all want to make decisions for you and tell you how to live. Considering you only get to exercise your freedom of choice very three years I’d not be voting for any of them (can anyone really tell the difference between Labour and National anyway?).

    I love the Idea of our elders all sitting in Ward Council. A great idea for many reasons.

    When I joined the Church a common thing to be asked was when was I moving to Utah. Considering I joined in 1996 when everyone was super excited about the anniversary of the Pioneers making it to Utah, a history of which I had no cultural alignment with, I would recoil from that question not because it was Utah but because I am a kiwi. I’d lived in the States for three years and know that Dorothy from Kansas is right, there is no place like home. Home to me is a mix of your vision (a lot of it true) and our shared and adopted Mormon heritage. Now that I’m marrying a American Tongan Mormon, lets see where that takes me.

    • Darren

      “When I joined the Church a common thing to be asked was when was I moving to Utah. Considering I joined in 1996 when everyone was super excited about the anniversary of the Pioneers making it to Utah, a history of which I had no cultural alignment with, I would recoil from that question not because it was Utah but because I am a kiwi. I’d lived in the States for three years and know that Dorothy from Kansas is right, there is no place like home. Home to me is a mix of your vision (a lot of it true) and our shared and adopted Mormon heritage. Now that I’m marrying a American Tongan Mormon, lets see where that takes me.”

      God bless ya’ wherever you end up.

    • Gina Colvin

      If you put American cultural imperialism next to British cultural imperialism – I’d take the British any day. They do cultural imperialism with much more panache and sophistication! (wink wink). Good luck on your upcoming nuptials! And BTW – bloody National and Labour are nothing alike!! Humph!

      • Darren

        Assuming this is a reply from my post above asking for insight on British imperialism: “They do cultural imperialism with much more panache and sophistication” Heh, ain’t that the truth. “And BTW – bloody National and Labour are nothing alike!! Humph!” Is that to say Republicans and Democrats are? I don’t get what this comment replies to or its purpose.

    • kiwi57

      “Growing up non-Mormon in Hamilton, Church College academically was totally marginalised cause everyone knows being top in Seminary is not academic and choosing your Dux based on that and one other class hardly qualified for an academic honour. Brownie badge yes, Dux no.”
      Then it’s just as well that the Dux award was not based upon “being top in Seminary… and one other class.” It was based upon a fairly mechanical assessment of top grades in all 7th form classes.

  • Joseph

    Gina, you ethnocentrist. Love ya heaps.

    • Gina Colvin

      Love you too bro! BTW I’m back in the US in June. If you don’t give me the run around like you did last time it would be good to catch up.

  • Huldah

    let’s do it!!! As a liberal american mormon this sounds brilliant.

    • Jedibabe

      Absolutely! As a devout recommend carrying American Mormon who yearns to dump non-functional, frequently hypocritical culture of the church here in the States, I’m now officially ready to move to NZ. Here we have members leaving the church over the bitter, acrimonious political rants that go with living in the western US. How blissful to be allowed whatever political beliefs you feel inclined towards without being told you can’t possibly be LDS and Democrat. I’ve long thought that leaving the states would be a great idea, and maybe I should take a closer look at NZ. Thanks for a fun read and reminding me that the church in the western US is not the whole church.

      • Darren

        “How blissful to be allowed whatever political beliefs you feel inclined towards without being told you can’t possibly be LDS and Democrat. ”

        Sorry to hear of you implied experience. I cannot stand Barak Obama and people know that. They also know I am very much against much of what the Democrat Party does and promotes. That said, I know of some real good people in my ward who strongly support Obama and ideally support the Democrat Party. I have learned to ignore those who, in sincerity, say you cannot be LDS and a Democrat. Such is not only false but against the official LDS position on politics.

      • Buffalobilly

        I thought the same thing and I did leave the States, Idaho and moved to NZ. Best move of my life.

        • Gina Colvin

          That’s awesome! Where do you live?

        • Darren

          Congrats!!!

      • Gina Colvin

        You should. We have all kinds of religious/political refugees here from the US. You’d take a ribbing when you get here, but just roll with it and you’d settle in nicely.

  • Kiersten

    Funny post. I’m from Utah and in fact my husband and I live about 2 blocks away from BYU. My husbands family is from NZ and I would like to consider myself an “honorary” New Zealander. We frequently host many of his cousins that come here to the states on holiday and they have become some of my closest friends. I personally agree that there are a number of things that we as members could loosen up on but of course that is a personal opinion and no personal offense is intended… Great article- I can’t wait to visit with my husband and 2 children someday!!!

    • Darren

      I totally agree in that we can loosen up on certain things.

    • Gina Colvin

      Where is his family from Kiersten?

  • http://aleesasutton.com Aleesa (@MormonFemale)

    This was hilarious! Oh, how I’d love FoTC to do a real Mormon parody song.

    • Gina Colvin

      Cheers mate! I’ll aks Jermaine and Brett next time I see them. (We all know each other in NZ).

  • Darren

    Just real quick;

    I served my mission in Brazil and there was no “Star Spangled Banner” hymn in it but it did indeed have the Brazilian national hymn. Hymns, I think refers to spiritual and patriotic songs and, perhaps, why the Star Spangled Banner may be in the New Zealand hymn book is because of the commonality of the English language. After all, the American hymn books do have “God Save the king”. Culturally-speaking, that’s natively British. Except for the fact that Americans reelected Obama, you can hardly say that saving the king is an American cultural ideology.

    http://www.lds.org/music/text/hymns/god-save-the-king?lang=eng

    I think there is some amusement for your pro-native New Zealand / anti-American take on LDS culture but frankly I think you make a good point with the basketball courts being at the chapels and relatively useless. While basketball is a relatively cheap and therefore efficient sport to offer world wide, I would agree with you in that local capels should cater to local customs, including sports. Beyond this here’s my take.

    Placing the French in charge of the financial system will result in doing what the French historically do best: not a damn thing. and when things get real bad they’ll seek out American held to get back on their feet. While American liberals thrive in bureaucracy, as you see in our current president, Ame4icans do not. Well, at least not the type you seem to want to culturally exile. The Australians can have theirs in New Zealand. And you may want to rethink prioritizing the French over finances as you may want to consider which nation is (by far) the most charitable on earth.

    “Hell” and “damn”? Hell yeah, I’m all for those two cuss words. It seems that of all the former British colonies, the United States is the only one where it is not considered “proper”. Interesting. But that is changing.

    The powhiri, as per the video shown is a beautiful dance and rooted deeply into culture. I wouldn’t mind greeting people with spears, clubs (laced with obsidian?), and tongues sticking out. That’s a greeting one will never forget.

    I, by the way, have enjoyed the Lamanite Generations / Living Legends for years. While attending a local college and thus still living at home, my parents invited two of the performers over after one performance. They later repeated that after I was married. I asked the director if, since my wife is about 1/128 American Indian if my kids could join the group. She said no. Such discrimination (/sarcasm off).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GinOipHcNI

    You Lord of the Rings reference was quite funny. Peter Jackson did a wonderful thing filming the majority of the greatest trilogy ever in his homeland of New Zealand. Were the LDS Church to relocate to New Zealand I’d hope to at least get some mithril armor to walk around the ghettos here in the states. But, dreams are dreams…/sigh

    Flight of the Condors, Lol. They’re too funny. Mrs. Darren and I joke about socks and business time and we’ll leave it at that for this blog. :>)

    Heh, Emma Smith ousting Brigham young and women having the priesthood. I do like your creative thinking spirit.

    The irony is that the cultural thinking (American conservatism) is far more suited for cultural diversity than does American liberal ideology. The former very much agrees with local people establishing what they think is right for them whereas the latter very much believes in establishing one large, powerful bureaucracy and use its force to make sure all think one way. Yet it is consistently the former which you reject rather than the latter.

    Now out of all the culturally repugnant dominance of those domineering Americans , do you, Gina, at least believe that the united States of America was God’s choice and blessed land to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ on earth? Not to say that you don’t have a point in trying to gain some self cultural identity within your LDS culture, I’m completely fine with that but do you honestly think that the gospel of Jesus Christ could have been restored in any other land without the unique governmental structure as found in the US Constitution?

    • Gina Colvin

      I absolutely think that the US was the right and only place for the church to begin. No other place was as audacious nor intrepid! I think the role of the US constitution has been a bit romanticized in US Mormon culture but yes, it probably had some influence on the cultural climate that gave birth to the church. But the idea that that means that a church that has global aspirations should be tied up incontrovertibly with one culturally imperialist state is repugnant to me and makes no sense whatsoever. When a faith community can’t make out the difference between their culture and their religion then its time to ask questions of that faith community. My sense is that time is now!

      • Darren

        “No other place was as audacious nor intrepid!’

        Agreed. Especially in its religious experience.

        “I think the role of the US constitution has been a bit romanticized in US Mormon culture ”

        I’d asctually agree with you on this. It is an inspired document by God and in my opinion, it has greatly blessed not only the nation but the entire world. That said though it’s not the be all and end all of God’s p[lan of salvation. Though I do see it as essential for the restoration as well as the formation ofthe United States in the unique manner it was forged and characterized.

        “But the idea that that means that a church that has global aspirations should be tied up incontrovertibly with one culturally imperialist state is repugnant to me and makes no sense whatsoever.”

        See, this is where you loose me. Even when sarcastic I get the bad vibe in your posts regarding American culture and the streotypifying you give it. This includes the American influence upon Mormon culture. You’re absolutely correct in that the cultural aspect of the LDS Church will vary and should not be placed into one strict frame. However, I do not find mormons as so intolerant as you promote them to be. I’m obviously not you and so I have not had your experiences but I simply cannot see american / Utah Mormons as so stringent as your post(s) suggest(s). Yes, i’ve met cultural “jingoists” in the LDS community. in fact at BYU after one student said “there’s only one perfect culture n the world, and that’s the Church’s culture”, I immediately fired off “no it’s not. Then even sarcastically mentioned Mountain Meadow Massacre”. Well, needless to say, the spirit of contention dominated that room for the rest of class and most people, including myself, simply shut up and moved onto our lesson. While my delivery was bad, evebn malignant, I stand by swhat I said even today.

        Yes there’s cultural flaws in the LDS community and culture in and of itself is quite fluid and this goes to my point. I cannot think of anyone I associate or know in the church that would have any problem with Maoris wearing traditional dress to church nor to associate with a New Zealand dominant culture. In fact everyone I can think of at the top of my head would be pleasantly intrigued by such a cultural dfference in the LDS community. That’s the Mormon culture I know. not nearly imperialistic but rather quite teddybearish.

      • Darren

        Forgot to include this:

        “When a faith community can’t make out the difference between their culture and their religion then its time to ask questions of that faith community. My sense is that time is now!’

        I comoletely agree and I hope my previous posts show that I agree in that people should know the difference between their culture and their doctrines. There’s reasons, as I already posted, why I disagree with the timing, at least the intensity of it. So I won’t repost the reasons here. I feel like I’ve badgered you enough as is. I don’t want to be over bearing.

  • Melody

    Whoever you are, Kiwi, I love you.

    • Gina Colvin

      Love you too!!

  • Raewynv

    As a 3rd generation Kiwi LDS I realise a lot of this is tongue in cheek, but I don’t agree with a lot of what you have said and hope my international LDS friends and family don’t take it seriously, otherwise you have just stereotyped us as much as we do “Utah” members

    • Gina Colvin

      Quite right! What a silly duffer I am!

  • Biddy bartseboo

    I had such a good laugh as I read this. Everybody, it’s all said tongue in cheek with a little bit of wishful thinking. Isn’t it human nature to mock/tease and question our perceived and real hierarchy? It doesn’t mean we are vengeful or hateful, it’s just the way some of us make sense of our world and where we fit in, and to bring a bit of light hearted humour into our lives by not taking ourselves to seriously. I loved it! I guess I have the added advantage of knowing Gina and aforesaid young adults pretty well … Aye sis?

  • Andy

    Overall this is quite good. Everything not doctrinal is up for change or abandonment, alteration or ignoring. However casual we may be in NZ we should never profane the sacred. But many things we do in the church are because of culture and as a result don’t necessarily apply to us. We take them on board because that’s the thing to do (at present) but we should always be open to other ways of doing things. The youth programme for example. I remember when Scouting was the regime du jour and as the bishopric member responsible for it became very frustrated trying to implement a programme SO foreign to those who had to participate, including all the parents. So glad that all changed.

  • GAP

    Love it … Except stop picking on the NS, not everyone here voted National. Ok maybe all the active ones do!

  • Michelle

    This is great! Sorry it seemed so many readers (or at least ones that commented) missed the point of your post.

  • Moana

    ha ha ha…what a great post for the new year! Could definitely be useful for this lot up here in Hamilton, New Zealand. p.s. I’m not a ‘Hamiltonian Mormon’ nor did I go to Church College.

  • Marina

    Great post, maybe the young adults today will be the future leaders who will build a brighter and more interesting future for the church. In saying that, I wouldn’t really want to have the priesthood – I believe that women are strong enough without it. Men aren’t:). But I would love to see women having a stronger leadership role alongside of the men as the poor testosterone-charged dears do get it wrong frequently. How about a Prophet and Prophetess? I agree that every chapel in NZ should be designed with the Kiwi lifestyle and culture in mind. I live behind the new chapel on Redoubt Road in Manukau and I have to say that it’s design is as dull as dishwater. Perched on a wild and windy hill in Manukau, they could have really done something spectacular and all they could come up with was a serious of neat boxes joined together. The design of the MTC is even worse. Not just dull, but actually ugly in my opinion. I live in hope that the temple that is going to be built there will be a little more imaginative. They could build a crystalline version of a Pa site – with pallisades to help protect everyone from the wind perhaps? Not sure whether these designs are chosen by the powers that be in the US or NZ church authorities who have had all of their creativity and spunk bashed out of them. Personally I love having basketball courts in the chapels. My intermittently (spelling??) active husband gets up early on a Saturday to go and play basketball at the chapel. Basketball is pretty big here and not just with members so I don’t think that it’s a game that is solely popularised by mormons. It’s the only time my husband socialises with members outside his own family so I’m grateful for it. I do believe that every chapel should have a sports field as well so that our youth can have good clean fun and play rugby, soccer, cricket or bullrush if they choose….. as soon as the ban on bullrush is rescinded of course! Don’t forget that NZ culture has it’s own versions of PC peculiarities!

  • Paddy

    Gina

    Love the post. As an Aussie I understand the sentiments. Also it is funny to notice the cultural misunderstandings in the comments in that when aussie’s and kiwi’s take the piss we are often also showing a sense of affection.

  • Raymond McIntyre

    You might even tempt a number of kiwi ex-mormons back in those Ward / Chapel doors.

  • kiwi57

    Gina,
    If there really were any American Mormons whose sense of cultural superiority is as vast as yours, they’d be utterly unbearable.
    However, if there are any, I’ve never met them.

  • kiwi57

    I think you missed a few.
    - There would be no block meetings. Sacrament meeting would go for three hours on its own. And just for good measure, it would start 45 minutes late.
    - There would be no assigned speakers. Anyone who had anything to say would just stand up and say their piece at any time. And they’d end every talk with an unaccompanied hymn, which everyone would join in on about halfway through.
    - Although we could dispense with the basketball courts, we’d still need to have a cultural hall. That’s so the children would have somewhere to run around during Sacrament meeting, unsupervised by their oblivious parents. Instead of chairs being stored under the stage, we could have sleeping mats.
    - Instead of a symbolic piece of bread and sip of water, the sacrament emblems would be replaced by a full-on kai hakari.
    - There would be at least six sacrament prayers; each one would be a combination karakia, whai korero and waiata.
    - It would be official Church policy that, in any congregation where everyone speaks some language A, and a subset speaks some other language B, everything important would be done in language B.

    - We would not have a university; we’d have a wananga that was exclusively devoted to cultural navel-gazing and subjects with “studies” in the title, none of which would be the slightest use to anybody in the real world.


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