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Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Mormon Bubble Myth

I had to laugh when I saw this article in the Deseret News, entitled Are Mormons spared from reality? Hardly.

If you've never heard that Mormons live in a bubble, then you're probably not Mormon so don't worry about it, and it's not true, anyway. Back at BYU, some students used to joke that the kids who grew up in predominantly LDS communities (such as some in Utah or Idaho) had lived in a bubble, because they were exposed to less of the standard adolescent problems and behaviors. This isn't to say these problems didn't exist in these communities, but they comprised a smaller part of it.  These students were certainly more naive on average than students who had lived elsewhere. But of course over the course of a lifetime, any body from anywhere is going to get plenty of life experience to learn from.

The author seems to take issue with some statement that Mormons live in a bubble by serving missions. He (rightly) points out that this is ridiculous, because it is while serving missions that missionaries receive concentrated life experiences talking to people with all kinds of pasts and histories and beliefs, they may be in threatened or put in physical danger, etc. Not a bubble! Quoting:

"Furthermore, Latter-day Saints are no more strangers to "the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to" than are non-Mormons. We get sick. We die. We lose loved ones. We're not magically immune to the effects of substance abuse, immorality, emotional challenges, job loss and dissolving families.
"We can't live in a bubble. It's impossible.
"Moreover, the church constantly sends us out — out of ourselves and, often, far out of our comfort zones — as home teachers and visiting teachers, as young missionaries and senior missionaries, as bishops, as employment-service volunteers and addiction counselors."

One difference between a Mormon and the average irreligious American is in the personal response to these hardships.  Like practicing members of other faiths, Mormons tend to rely on their faith and understanding of God's love to see them through the hard times. Again, that hardly constitutes living in a bubble!

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