Back from Mormonheim

As most of you know I was in Salt Lake City all of last week. It was a place that was just wrong. Everything about it was wrong and not wrong in a way that New York City is wrong where people are busy and you can lose yourself in the impersonal ways of the inhabitants and also be wholly overwhealmed by its immensity. This place was wrong in the way Disneyland is wrong with all its fake smiles that are more like grimaces because the genuine emotion that is supposedly behind the smile is lacking. Salt Lake City was like Disneyland minus the fun.

It all started normally enough. I got off the plane and felt like I was suddenly moving along in a trip of redneck honkeyville. I am used to having some type of minority person around being orginally from San Antonio where the majority of the population is hispanic and currently living in DC where the majority of the population is black. It was a mild culture shock. Then I hailed a cab with two of my coworkers. One kept saying that he was a long way away from Chelsea (it is the clone neighborhood in NYC). I couldn’t agree with him more. The cab ride was nice enough. I later was told by someone on the street that you were not allowed to hail a cab off the street. You had to either meet them at the airport or call them. If you hailed them off the street and the cabbie was caught by the police the cabbie was supposedly fined.

I eventually get to the hotel which was about 10 minutes away from the airport “conveniently” located about 3 blocks south of the Mormon Temple which is also “conveniently” located directly across the street from the shopping mall which had the only food places other than the hotel and Dee’s (a typical type of diner that I was not too fond of). Needless to say, I was forced to go past there several times in order to eat decent food since the hotel food was overpriced and cooked very poorly.

On the trips up to the mall I had to go past Utah’s version of homeless/beggar alley. I thought this was funny. These honkified beggars for the most part were better dressed than me. They had signs ranging from “everyone needs some help sometimes,” “Please Help,” and “Vietnam vet in need.” First off, I am living in a big city with a very large homeless population and here the homeless try to empathize with the rubes because they get more money that way. I can’t feel sorry for someone who appears to be middle-upper middle class begging on the street to get money so I do the only logical thing, I give them tips to guilt people into giving them money. :slight_smile: I figure it would at least make it seem like this place has a soul (more on that later). I look at all the people and choose this drugged out girl who has the sign that says, “everyone can use some help sometimes.” I laugh at her and talk to her some. I notice that she has some tracks on her hand (or maybe scabies) so I don’t touch her. I looked at her eyes and she was most likely stoned and tell her that her sign doesn’t mean anything to the passing people. I suggest to her to turn it around and write, “I could be your daughter” on the other side. That was the only sign I have seen around here that actually made me empathize with the girl. She says that she will do it later, maybe tomorrow and asks for money from me. I just laugh at her and tell her that I don’t want to prolong her homelessness to which she responds that she has a home just doesn’t have a job. Well, that was the wrong thing to say to me so I tell her good luck (I notice her wearing a pentagram earring which I liked but didn’t want to pursue a religious discussion with her since she was obviously drugged up).

A soul is a controversial thing here on these boards. I will start by saying that I believe in the soul as basically a synonym for the energy involved in the pursuit of life, individuality, and happiness primarily. There are many other facets but those are the most basic. To continue, Salt Lake City like Disneyland doesn’t have one. It is a hollow shell where the happiness is all on the surface but the people who are supposed to reflect it just seem to me as a hollow shell. It is the difference between a real smile and a fake smile. Everyone can tell when a smile is not real. Lacking much of any real aptitude in the smiling department I concluded that this place was soulless. It felt incredibly evil being there because of this. I am sure the Mormons no the board will take issue with this but I would just like to say it doesn’t refer to you. I am sure that you guys and gals think enough for yourselfs to have regained a soul. Now smile, and make sure it is real.

Of course no trip to Salt Lake City would be complete without an attempt at conversion. As I was walking to the mall for dinner one day a guy from the temple runs across the street. He must of seen a non-Mormon (me) target to hand his propoganda to. I take it and say thank you because I didn’t want him to go crazy and shoot me or anything as many right-wing fundamentalists are portrayed as and we all know how accurate stereotyping is. :wink: I look around for a place to throw this trash away but can’t find anything near and besides this guy is talking at me so I walk into the mall. I open up the brochure and see it is a pamphlet that lists the five main differences between Christianity and Mormonism. I look at them and one of them is that every Mormon has the potential of becoming a god within HIS (not her) own kingdom. Being fairly well versed in occultism which includes some Satanism I immediately find a similarity. Satanism believes that everyone can become a god and is already. The other four instances I don’t remember but from my studying of Anton LeVay and other well known Satanists I see that the differences with Christianity that they purport line up pretty closely to the differences Satanism has with Christianity. One of the only things that didn’t line up exactly was that Mormons (according to the pamphlet) pray directly to YHVH and don’t use Jesus as an intermediary whereas Satanists don’t really pray to anyone other than themselves since they are all gods and are free to use any type of intermediary they see fit. Anyway, I find a toilet and flush the pamphlet. I am sure if you are really interested that they will hand deliver one to your house if you call.

I attempted to go see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Thursday night since they perform on Monday and Thursday. I went into the temple grounds which they attempted to make everyone feel welcome in the Disney way. I look at a map and see that I am in the right area but I have to find out which is the correct building. It was a little confusing. The grounds were very beautiful but still lacked a deeper meaning that typical holy places usually feel like they have. Sorry atheists out there, this is a faith issue and you probably don’t believe in that type of thing. Anyway, I wander around looking for the Tabernacle so I can go directly there for the performance when it begins which was about two hours away. I walk a big circle getting accosted by several people who may as well been speaking Martian for all that I understood them. I suppose it was a conversion tactic but it probably was really me ignoring them the best I could. I keep getting this creepy vibe that I was at Disneyland without the fun. When I eventually find the tabernacle and see that you have to sign in with a name, address, and phone number or they wouldn’t let you in I think of a fake name etc (Icabod Malarky, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Sacremento, CA 98002) but see that the few people in front of me are being ID’ed. I simply leave and miss out on the opportunity to see one of the best choirs in the world perform because I don’t want to be bombarded with propaganda later. I saw how they treated an excommunicated Mormon friend (they visit him every three months and try to get him to go back in the closet and marry a woman…Also, they verbally harass him for being gay) and keep doing so tracking him down through various moves and continually visit him after repeated requests that they never come back to him again.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to leave the place. The climate was beautiful and dry, the scenery was nice with all the mountains and earthy tones, and even the city itself seemed nice on the surface. I know it is a place that I could never fit into. It was just wrong. Wrong in the way Disneyland is wrong and that speaks voluminously of its presence. There are few places in the world that lack what I often equate to a soul and unfortunately for me Salt Lake City was one of those places. Some people may find it charming, friendly and nice. My coworkers pretty much all said that it was like going on a visit to the Stepford wives. I don’t really know the analogy because it was based on occurances before my time but I assume it has something to do with the phoniness that I experienced.


Not quite as nice as your last trip? That sucks (and I don’t mean that in the good way).

It was nowhere near as nice. Where was Ed Asner when I set up my little shrine to him in my hotel room? :frowning: Ed has forsaken me.



Sorry to hear about your less-than-perfect experiences in the City of the Saints. I lived in SLC for four years in the 1980s, and I have to say that I loved it. There IS a Disneyland feel to it (heigtened for th non-LDS who comes upon the place unawares) by the Sleeping Beauty-castle appearance of Truman Angell’s Salt Lake City Temple. Nevertheless, it never felt like “The Stepford City” to me, and I thought it had a lot of “soul”. Things may have changed there the beggars you describe weren’t there in the eighties), but not by that much. There was proselytizing, but I never found it excessive or intrusive.

Salt Lake City does seem to clean and white-bread, but that’s part of its unique character, not evdence of its lack. There is a darker undercurent – every place has its secrets – but it’s not a festering underground that threatens to explode. The LDS is, of course, a BIG influence, and you can feel it everywhere. But it’s more like living with your parents, who won’t let you grow up, rather than living with Big Brother.
As I’ve noted before on thisd board, the most impressive thing to me was coming into SLC in the summer of 1983 and learning that they had built two six-foot dikes down one of the main streets, effectively running a river through town to divert the flood waters coming down City Creek canyon an prevent damage. The dikes ran fr miles, and there were footbridges built across them. By the time I got there, a month or so ater, they were completely gone. Not a sandbag left in the street. All done with VOLUNTEER labor. I don’t think anyplace else in the country could have managed that.

The next year they did it all over again.

Funny… I felt that way about the Morons… ooops. Did I write that? I meant, of course, Mormons ;). I felt that way about MORMONS the entire time I was a member of that church. Stepford Church is a very accurate assessment IMHO.

Not only do I sympathize with you about your trip, but just wanted to point out that I get that same soulless impression from every single branch church I’ve ever had occasion to walk by. Very sterile and emotionless. Dogma for Zombies…

Try New Orleans. It’s the antidote to over-Mormonism!


I’m having trouble deciding what to say here – I’m a devout Mormon but I’m no bigger fan of Salt Lake City than you are. Well, maybe a little bigger, but not much. I’ve visited SLC any number of times and I went to college at BYU, in Provo, just south of there.

I’ve heard accounts similar to yours of the insular behavior of Mormons en masse. As an insider, my experience is, of course, different, but there is a strong social (for want of a better word) element in the Mormon Church which is an enormous barrier to many outsiders. It isn’t directly a result of Mormon doctrine, and is certainly not “official”, but it is very widespread and remarkably uniform wherever I’ve attended church. I guess it’s not uniform, really – it’s much more pronounced in places where the populace is mostly Mormon, i.e., Salt Lake City. And if you think it’s bad there you ought to visit Southern Utah.

I think it comes from a couple of different sources – one of these is the largely uniform heritage of Utah pioneers – almost entirely Northern European – and the natural conservatism of religion. They are, frankly, unused to new ideas. And they think they are exposed to new ideas when they read, for example, about some shocking new movie that is notorious for its licentiousness, or that some new designer drug is killing teen-agers in New York City, or something like that. This only reinforces their fear of anything new. And they get along fine with each other, so they don’t understand how people can’t get along with them. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – you don’t fit in because you’re not one of us, and you’re not one of us because you don’t fit in.

My personal belief is that the Mormon religion is flexible enough to accommodate most new ideas, but that the Mormon culture is very inflexible. And that’s just simple human failing.

So the next time you run across a smug, self-important Latter-Day Saint try to “hate the sin, but love the sinner”. Remember, he’s doing the same to you!

BWAAAA HA HA HA… Thought Mormons were against homosexuality!

[ducks and runs]

I shoulda expected that. Now you’re going to have images of Dr. Frank N. Furter performing even more bizarre experiments.
All the same, I LIKED SLC, dammit. I think that the recent infusion of cash, building, and outsiders associated with the upcoming Olympics is REALLY going to change its soul.

I stopped in SLC with my ex-wife, sometime around 1980. This was on the way to California. I found the city to be fairly bland, as was the food. We were given the standard Mormon temple tour - I was not impressed with the doctrines explained to us, but everybody was polite.
The really weird thing was the liquor laws - if you wanted a drink with dinner, you had to go outside the restaurant and buy a small airplane bottle, which you had to pour into your glass yourself.
How this is supposed to discourage drinking is beyond me!

It saddens me that someone as intelligent as Sqrl can be in a place for a week and thinks he knows anything about that place. I’m sorry, but you don’t know anything about it.
I’m just tired I guess.
Tired of hatred.
Tired of misunderstanding.
Tired of self-righteous, judgemental attitudes.
Tired of trying to follow a religion I believe to be correct, and being mocked for it.
Tired of worshipping Jesus Christ so that people who don’t know anything about the LDS Faith can call me a Satanist.
Tired of trying to be open and understanding to everybody for their lives, and have that thrown back in my face like a pile of garbage.
Just tired.
Great, now I’m crying.
I know he wasn’t referring to me. But this is the attitude I’ve dealt with my entire life. I would expect someone like Sqrl to understand that’s it’s not cool to judge people for what they do or do not do, and what they do or do not worship. Apparently, I was mistaken.

It’s not supposed to discourage drinking. Actually, you get more alcohol in with the mini-bottles.
It’s since changed.


Sorry you had a less than stellar trip to Vatican West. I lived in Utah for most of my formative years - left at age 22 and never looked back.

I agree that the public persona presented by SLC isn’t always in sync with its private persona, but I believe every city is like that.

I never disliked Salt Lake City. I just knew it wasn’t the place for me. I never disliked the LDS religion. I knew it wasn’t the faith for me.

It’s tempting, I know, to bash Mormons - sometimes I think it’s such a temptation because it can be so easily done - but I doubt sincerely that any equation between Satanism & Mormonism can be made. I apologize if I read the OP wrong.


Geez Pepperlandgirl… This is just a thought, but if your faith makes you so unhappy…well, why the blind loyalty?

Obviously, it doesn’t uplift you and make your feel closer to your God. When people challenge or criticize your religion, you get all sad and weepy on us? I think you’re letting others’ comments get to you (mine included, probably) and taking this thread far too personally. Nobody even mentioned you or asked you to defend your faith. In fact, the Mormon faith wasn’t criticized, but SLC was.

I was under the impression that Sqrl is a female. Be that as it may, she is not judging people, or Mormons, but offering us her impression of a city. If you are threatened by that and feel compelled to defend it, knock yourself out.

But. I think you are trying so hard to convince yourself that you belong to the “one true church” that you are wearing yourself out in your efforts to defend your decision to stay your course. You should be confident in your decisions, since you should be doing whatever is right for you. Nobody is asking you to second-guess or defend yourself, but you seem to keep doing that in threads anyway.

Now… for the rest of you: Why is it, whenever someone points out an incongruous religious dogma, or some bizarre policy of Mormons, that some Mormon always pops up and sez: “It’s since changed.”

Things that make ya go hmmm…

DogzillaSqrl’s a guy.

And just a quibble, but she didn’t say the religious doctrine had changed, just the liquor laws.

IIRC, the curious liquor laws exist in an (unsuccessful) attempt to make drinking hard to do in public places. You can’t (or couldn’t, apparently) by liquor by the drink, only by the bottle. There quickly arose two work-arounds: one, mentioned above, is to make small bottles; the other is to open a “bottle club” rather than a tavern. You buy a bottle of liquor and leave it at the bottle club. The next time you come in and order a drink the bartender fetches your personal bottle and pours you a drink. It looks and acts a lot like a tavern, but it gets around the law.

Er, that would be you can’t buy liquor by the drink.

Being a Mormon doesn’t make me unhappy. Ignorant jerks make me unhappy.
Just like, I’m sure, being gay doesn’t make Sqrl unhappy, but homophobic assholes probably do.

And I was referring to the drinking laws when I said “it’s since changed”

Sqrl, I get the impression you went to Salt Lake expecting to hate it. If that’s what you expect, that’s what you get.

Just as FYI, the folks standing outside the temple handing out propaganda are anti-Mormon. Since Mormons consider themselves a part of Christianity, they would never produce a pamphlet that compares themselves to Christianity.

Yeah, I’ve seen the homeless folks there, and you have to know that there are people everywhere who treat begging like a job, where they go to home at the end of the day. It’s not unique to Salt Lake.

I personally like Salt Lake. It’s very clean, scenic, and whether you buy into the religion or not, the temple is still a really impressive building. Then again, I just dig history and never pay attention to the spiritual feel of any place I go.

Nor do I feel the place is soulless, just conservative, which is not the same thing in my mind. Though, I could be biased since many of my friends are devote Mormons and I don’t find them to be soulless Stepford wives at all.

Hey, next time you’re in Utah and have the time, drive down I-15 to southern Utah. Stop in Provo and do the Timpanogos cave tour, then check out Zion National park. Southern Utah has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

on a recent drive through utah, i experienced probably the worst customer service and open hostility (that’s too strong, i think contempt would be a better word for it), for no apparent reason, in my life. at a grocery store while asking for nicorette, the pharmacist spoke inaudibly to us and, when asked nicely to repeat herself, hissed her previous comments back to us and stared at us with contempt as we collected the aforementioned gum. the next incident occurred at an oil/lube station. typical situation: drive up to station, someone more or less promptly comes out to car to ask what type of oil, etc., tells you how much time it will take and how much it will cost. utah situation: drive up, sit for about 15 minutes waiting for some form of service, they saw us and deftly ignored us, so we drove down to the next oil/lube where we did get some service. the service at restaurants was also pathetic. could the waitresses have been more curt and less attentive. i really doubt it. i am not drinking anything other than water because i want to drink water and i expect you to fill my glass as you are doing for the other customers. not a hard concept to grasp.

the behavior i encountered was completely unfounded. i made a point of looking and smelling decent before i went into any place (i was there to hike and climb, and therefore it was a bit more difficult to stay clean), and was courteous to each individual i encountered. there’s probably only one reason such a large population could come off as being so rude, and that would be something culturally shared: mormonism in this case. i know some mormons and they, individually, are wonderful people, which makes me hope that my experiences in utah were flukes. i’m fairly certain not everyone was a jerk, but it can’t just be a coincidence. i wish my experience had been different, but that’s my general impression of the place.

the only place in utah i felt really comfortable around people was moab, but a majority of the people there have come to utah to enjoy the same things i do, so that was to be expected.

I lived many years in SLC myself (before recently moving to Seattle) and I must say, i found it a culturally retarded area. This has nothing to do with any particular religion (well not DIRECTLY anyway).

It was just unless you liked to hike or mountain bike or things like that, there just wasn’t a lot to do.

The mountains were ok, but i didn’t like the fact that a large percentage of the state is barren of foliage (probably because I came from Minnesota, where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a tree).

Overall I don’t miss Utah at all. I miss friends, I miss family, I miss a few really good mexican restaurants there, but the state was a place I never felt like i fit in, because it just didn’t offer me what i wanted.

Pluto is right, the culture can be restrictive if you don’t fit in, however, the adult population is nothing if not polite to new people, something some other cities do lack.

I had my share of bad experiences with the “religious majority” there but eventually you learn that the “self righteous mormons” are no different than “self righteous fundies” or “self righteous athiests”. They know they are right and won’t rest until you do also. The state or city didn’t make them this way but their culture and their choices did.

That said, I don’t choose to go to SLC except once in a great while to see family now, but I would agree, if I were planning a vacation I would search out somewhere a little more my style.

(To be fair, I thought North Carolina was just as restrictive in Charlotte as SLC, but more toward the Baptist and Fundie extreme. But at least you could buy a drink ;))

I’m about to head off to Salt Lake City tomorrow to be best man in my friend’s wedding. I revel in the irony of being a New York Jew as best man in a wedding where I cannot attend the ceremony because it is at the LDS temple where non-Mormons (or Mormons who have not gone through the steps required to get Temple admission) are prohibited.

I’ve met a great many Mormons, mostly through my friend and his fiancee, and found them to be uniformly warm, caring, fun and interesting people. I’ve had lots of discussions with them about religion, though none of them have involved attempts at conversion. They seem well-informed and proud of their religion, but respectful of others who have deeply held beliefs. Perhaps Mormons who have chosen to live in New York City (and perhaps those who my friends have chosen to be friends with) are atypical, but all of the ones I have met so far seem to be good folks.

I’m intrigued about what I will find in Salt Lake City, culturally and otherwise. I’ll be meeting a lot of their friends, family and neighbors, so I’m sure I’ll see an interesting slice of the City.

I’ll report back next week.


I went to Park City and SLC a few years ago (I had a 4/40 work week and drove up on a couple of my three-day weekends). Park City was pretty. SLC was fairly nice. One thing that was amusing was that people would look around, then in a conspiratorial tone ask, “Are you LDS?” They’d lighten up when I told them no. It reminded me of the way people try to avoid the Secret Police in Cold War movies.

I went to a brew-pub in Park City. I ordered an Irish-ale with my fish’n’chips. I had a couple of inches left in the glass, when a second one came. I thanked the waitress, but she just stood there. I thanked her again and said she could just put the new drink down. She said she couldn’t put the drink down until i finished the drink I had! Weird.

The next day I went to a Mexican place. They actually had meters on the bottles! I had the weakest margarita there, that I’ve ever had in my life.