Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Multiple, Internal Cultures of Mormonism

The difficulty of understanding, navigating in and accepting different cultures is one of the things that makes Mormonism so challenging to so many, since "The Church" itself is comprised internally and explicitly of at least three very different cultures:

1) the hierarchical, vertical, correlated, authoritarian, meta/global one;
2) the hierarchical, but much more egalitarian, ever-shifting-when-callings-change, very practical and minimally symbolic, micro/local one;

3) the highly symbolic, radically egalitarian, wildly-different-than-anywhere-else, idealized, temple one.

That complexity enthralls some people, but it also drives others bonkers. Some members are totally comfortable in one of those cultures but struggle in one or both of the others. Some thrive in the local community of believers but struggle with the stricter, correlated focus of the global leadership or the ambiguous symbolism of the temple; some love the symbolism of the temple ordinances but don't fit in with their own local community or struggle to accept prophetic authority; etc.
This is not an easy religion, and the multiple, internal cultures constitute one of the reasons that is so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spot on Ray.Going bonkers here.

I've worked as a therapist in my time,and one of the things that we value is accurate interpretation as a form of holding the client.

Your interpretation may just help me hold on a little longer.