Polish-Chrome Cyborg America’s Freudian Ego-Ideal

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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44 Responses

  1. LTL FTC says:

    That’s interesting. I’ve never met a Polish Mormon.Report

    • Chris in reply to LTL FTC says:

      Also, the Mormons I know use Firefox.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to LTL FTC says:

      When I visited Salt Lake City on my cross country drive, there was a Pakistani Mormon giving tours of their museum. There was also a picture of Mary where she looked more like a tall blonde mountain woman from Appalachia than a Jewish townswoman of antiquity.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to LTL FTC says:

      When I visited Salt Lake City on my cross country drive, there was a Pakistani Mormon giving tours of their museum. There was also a picture of Mary where she looked more like a tall blonde mountain woman from Appalachia than a Jewish townswoman of antiquity.Report

  2. Richard Hershberger says:

    Heh. I allow myself the luxury of one religious prejudice, and I use it on Mormonism. It definitely is a collective thing. If there is one Mormon family on your block, they will be the best neighbors you have. If every family on the block but yours is Mormon, you and your family will be pariahs. This has always been true. Read between the lines at Mormonism’s pre-Utah history. They would move into town, initially be welcomed, and proceed to take over the place until the locals organized to boot them out. Lather, rinse, repeat.Report

    • Some of the nicest people I’ve known have been Mormons, and I had a huge crush on one in college, but even without having lived in a place with a whole lot of Mormons, I have found a lot to dislike about them as a group even if I like most Mormons I’ve known as individuals.

      But I suppose I’d say this about most religions, really, if I thought about them for a bit. The reason I notice Mormons is because they really stand out against the mostly WASP (with the occasional Catholic or Jew or Muslim) backdrop.

      Then again, the other religions didn’t rent an apartment in my old apartment complex for their missionaries, and therefore their missionaries didn’t accost me on a near daily basis.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      How do you feel about Jewish insularity? We call each other members of the tribe after all? Arguably Jews are more insular than Mormons in many ways. Mormons actively try to convert people. Jews generally do not.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        That is a very different question than the one that might be asked about inbreeding.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Jewish insularity is kind of different than Mormon insularity. Besides the Ultra-Orthodox Jews do not form cooperative institutions, besides hospitals, the way Mormons do and act in concert in politics, business, or elsewhere. Jewish insularity is mainly demonstrated by living in a few concentrated areas. Jewish communities in the past where more tightly close-knit though.Report

      • I’ve never lived in a Jewish equivalent of Deseret, though I imagine if you put me into a community of Orthodox Jews (even less extreme than Kiryas Joel) my feelings would not necessarily be all that different. Hard to say. The broader Jewish community, though, includes a lot of people who aren’t especially active and running a range. Mormonism has Jack Mormons, but it’s still a lot more binary.

        If I were to describe the things that turned me right, one of which would actually be a conservative Jewish website. Being 19 or so and raised in the shadow of MLK and multiculturalism, I was taken aback by some of the clannish aspects of Judaism. Specifically as it pertained to intermarriage and conversion. Seemed so… wrong. But I’ve come to understand and respect it even though I doubt, as a gentile, I would want to live in the thick of it.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I haven’t had much contact with the ultra-Orthodox communities, so I couldn’t say. I have had ample contact with more assimilated Jews, including many who are observant. I get along just fine with them. My boss, FWIW, is observant Conservative. Also FWIW, I am very fond of Americanized Ashkenazi culture. Yes, this is an indirect way of saying I like knishes. What can I say? I am shallow. I also have some Klezmer in my rotation. Then there was the time I arrived early for a friend’s wedding, and was mistaken for the rabbi.

        There also is the fact that few people can distinguish between a Pennsylvania Dutch and a Jewish surname. I have never run across a Jew named “Hershberger,” while it is a fairly common surname in some parts of Pennsylvania Dutch country. “Hersh” and “Berger” are both common Jewish surnames, so the confusion is natural. The result is that many people, both Jew and Gentile, assume I too am one of the tribe. It would be unethical to take too much advantage of this, but for a casual social interaction I just let it slide. Please pass the kugel.Report

    • Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      I’m using my religious prejudice on the idiots who decided to worship a friend of mine.
      (he got sick of it, and exploded the religion rather quickly…)Report

    • Mormons and not scientologists? SMDH

      By my observation, the tipping point with Mormons tend to come when they live in sufficient number for form their own parallel society and especially when there are enough of them to take over the civic institutions.

      The latter doesn’t require a majority. A lot of people are waiting, with their fingers crossed, for Utah to cease to be majority LDS. But it won’t help a whole lot. Mormons tend to be very active and organized, so they can run things from a minority footing. Or, if not run things, be very influential. That’s why you get people in Boise talking like they live in a heavily Mormon place when it’s really something like 1-in-5. (Which is a high number! But people who live in a place that’s quarter-Catholic don’t speak like they live in a Catholic place.)Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

        Mormons and not scientologists?

        Scientoligists are rare enough that they fall into the “curiosity” category. Were a friend or family member to get sucked in, then this would be different. But on the “weird stuff Tom Cruise does” level, it is just background noise.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

        But Catholic also isn’t a single tribe the way Mormon is. It’s a collection of several disparate tribes.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

          That was intended to be a big part of my point. Due to their unity (organization), Mormons punch above their weight class (population percentage) in ways more disparate groups don’t.Report

        • Guy in reply to Alan Scott says:

          Sort of. Catholic is a secondary tribe for a lot of people whose primary tribe is Italian, Irish, or another strongly-expressed European identity. But when it’s the primary tribe, it can be something of a uniting factor.Report

      • Saturday I got two incredibly polite Jehovah’s Witnesses.

        “Hi! We have this pamphlet for you, if you’re interested.”

        “Well, no, not really.”

        “OK. Well, have a nice day.”Report

        • That’s been mostly my experience when it’s come to street encounters. I still don’t do well at talking to them when they come to my door, perhaps because I don’t want to be rude and so I keep talking. Fortunately, the doorbell to my apartment doesn’t work, so I don’t have that problem anymore.Report

  3. A bit of a quibble: The “polished chrome” phrase, and the quality of Mormon apartness of the Feeney tweet, sound more robotic or android (robot with human qualities/appearance) to me than cyborg – which is a cybernetic/human hybrid. There are 2 main schools of thought on what constitutes a cyborg. One focusses on hardware hybridization (Darth Vader, biohackers), the other focusses on the social construction of the hybridization, Haraway’s “world changing fiction” (people highly involved with their smart phones, at this point, just about everybody alive.)Report

  4. Damon says:


    Substitute “Mormon” for some version of left/liberal/progressive and you’ll be in my world. Funny thing is, having a local community ignore me? Heaven. I’d rather be left alone and I have no interest/reason to socialize with those who I don’t already. Now, cut off my booze supply and “them’s fighin’ words”.Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    Most of my experience with Mormons has been with ex-Mormons but there was an LDS Church in my old Brooklyn neighborhood (where they were arguably always a minority. IDK when the church was founded but for most of the 20th century it was home to Italian and Irish working-class Catholics. Now it is gentrified and still nor Mormon.) They would sometimes be out in the summer in their black pants and white shirts trying to raise converts among people wearing skimpy dresses and tight jeans.

    IIRC Utah stated it would go Democratic if Trump as the nominee. Utah hasn’t gone Democratic in 50 years.Report

    • They did elect a Democratic governor when Reagan won in 1980. But yeah, it’s Republican through-and-through. Which was, interestingly enough, not the design of the Church. They’d consciously set out to split between the parties so that they’d have influence no matter who was in charge. Utah Territory had a Mormon party and an anti-Mormon Party. The Mormon party always won, but they lived with the fear that it wouldn’t.

      Their designs were thwarted, however, by the nature of national politics.

      A minor clarification…

      They would sometimes be out in the summer in their black pants and white shirts trying to raise converts among people wearing skimpy dresses and tight jeans.

      Those almost certainly weren’t the local Mormons. Missionaries rarely get sent near where they live.Report

  6. PD Shaw says:

    Mormons are a subset of Yankee culture. Yankees don’t like Jacksonian types. Trump is a Jacksonian type. More broadly speaking though, Trump is least popular among Republicans in states West of the Mississippi.Report

  7. North says:

    Ah the Mormons. I’ve never been around Mormon majority culture but I can keenly imagine. The thing about Mormons is they mostly hew to what they preach and that makes them awfully scary because the non-religious obedient are rather accustomed to being able to look at the glaring hypocrisies of the old social order and dismiss them.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      My gay uncle had a minor obsession with Mormons. Than again he also liked to collect homophobic propaganda as a hobby and laugh at it.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      Dismissing hypocrites is not a good idea. They can still hit you hard even if they indulge themselves in what they denounce.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to North says:

      I had some mormons work on me during high school/college.

      I very, very much felt the siren’s call of being a member of the ingroup.

      An Elder showed me a card of his that explained that he was baptized by this guy, who was baptized by that guy, who was baptized by this other guy, who was baptized by a guy who was baptized by Joseph Smith. Himself.

      They make you profess a belief in God, though.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

      This is a good point. You can see all sorts of hypocrisy among typical evangelical culture. They drink, commit adultery, do drugs, solicit sex workers, gamble, etc.

      Not so much with the Mormons. The only Mormons I know who drink are ex-Mormons.Report

  8. I worked in Salt Lake City for a few months, years ago, back when I was single. The main things I recall are that there were no women to spend time with, because

    1. They wouldn’t consider dating a non-Mormon, and
    2. They all got married as teenagers anyway.

    Also, there was almost nothing to do, because all social life revolved around church and family, both of which left me out. Basically, I went out drinking [*] most nights with the other out-of-towners I worked with.

    On the good side, SLC had an amazing public library, including, among other things, pretty much the collected works of Phillip K. Dick, including the non-SF books that were published posthumously. Also pretty much the collected works of Henri Pirenne, from which I learned not only a new perspective on the early Middle Ages, but that Edward Said was full of shit (He either never read or totally misunderstood Mohammed and Charlemagne).

    * 3.2 beer.Report

  9. Like pretty much everyone else on this thread, I’m going to neglect the second part of the OP and talk about the first part.

    I have a friend, too, who is one of the most tolerant, open people you can meet, and who is especially accepting of people from pretty much all faiths. A couple years ago, he moved to SLC, but works in a small town that is heavily Mormon. While he likes SLC, his reaction to Mormons in that small town is similar to your and your friend’s.

    You might not be surprised to learn that I was/have been kind of judgmental about his attitude. I might have been toward you if I had not gotten to know you so well online over the years. And never having lived in a heavily Mormon community, I do have to say that I just don’t understand the reaction and I will continue to withhold judgment.

    Still, I come away with two points. One: If people I respect develop that attitude, then there must be some justification. Two: I have developed similar attitudes about certain groups of people who don’t even come close to deserving it–either as individuals or as a group–so it’s not me to judge anyway. (I do sometimes judge, but I don’t believe I’m right to do so.)Report