17 thoughts on “Is it just me or do a lot of Mormon kids wish they belonged to a big box church?

  1. Maybe. But, as I described in my deconversion, a lot of times Mormon kids take pride in being brave/strong/virtuous enough not to go for what’s cool.

    I’ve also seen this in some people close to me. Person A had spent high school knowing that all the cool kids go to a certain big, cool church in town. Person B left Mormonism and joined the cool kids’ church — and tried to sell it to Person A as being so much more cool and fun than Mormonism (which, naturally, it was), and why do you want to be the weirdo when you don’t have to be? Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, this drove Person A farther into the bosom of Mormonism.

  2. Yeah, except that I gave up ages ago believing anything you linked to on your personal blog. “Cool” wasn’t gonna happen for you because you were too damn suspicious of “authority” so you skipped straight to… something that you’ve defined for yourself as “not cool” but that basically meets all the criteria for what the rest of us earthlings would call “cool”…

    You’ve got hipster DNA, so get over yourself already, and stop pretending you share genomes with unfashionably stalwart ber-Mormons as opposed to those stalwartly fashionable megachurchers. Both groups are as much in thrall to fashion as the other. And because you’re not means you’re free not to pick sides.

  3. LOL! I’m not pretending that our belief that “not cool is uber-cool” was somehow reasonable or made sense. I’m just saying that’s what we believed, and it influenced our choices.

  4. Not sure where the Christian mocking of Mormonism has happened on this thread.

    If there’s a thesis here, dgh, it’s that Mormons have been parroting Christian culture for a while now. And my suggestion, if anyone in the LDS leadership is interested, is that there’s plenty of grassroots Mormon talent ready to take center stage… if they’d just be offered the chance.

    Not to put too fine a point on things, but let’s walk through the clips:

    #1 shows kids with soul, but except for the guitarist/lead vocalist, everybody else is dressed in white shirts and ties and that visual doesn’t jibe with anyone’s idea of “normal” unless the audience is Mormon. To the rest of us, we see a bunch of heartfelt kids wearing IBM uniforms for no apparent reason other than their weird religion dictating that they must.

    #2 These are kids trying to make their modesty message “hip” for their peers. Of all the clips, this is the closest to what I’d call a “success”… I see a lot of cross-over appeal here.

    #3 is a parody of what the LDS leadership might ultimately strive for in its quest for mainstream appeal.

    #4 is an example of how badly the current LDS leadership is failing at achieving that appeal. It’s neither hot nor cold and if you know your scriptures, you know the rest…

  5. Ok, this is just my perspective but I thought the first two videos were fun. The kids were just trying to make something cool out of what they were given, to make it more relevant to their situation. They were using current music and putting their own spin on it. It is a little telling about what missionaries may be up to when they don’t have any meetings scheduled though. 😉

    The second video was pretty much just a parody of big Christian church meetings, sort of accurate, sort of an exaggeration. But I can see where they’re going with it. But, OTOH, if you have a great speaker and great music it does make it worthwhile just for those two things alone. It’s something I might attend even post-Mormonism.

    The fourth video was very awkward! Sis. Dalton is still ooky no matter how uncomfortably hard she is trying! And they were clearly trying WAAAY too hard in that one haha! Everyone knows the first principle of Mormonism is NOT fun! Those lyrics were cheesy as crap! They need to go back to the drawing board. Thanks for sharing. I needed a laugh today. 🙂

  6. I live in an area where most of the people belong to an evangelical microphones and great music church but the second largest religious group is Mormons. My kids are jealous of their evangelical friends because they have really active youth ministries and great activities for their youth as well as the more upbeat, and shorter, Sunday services. They kind of take being bored on Sunday as part of the trials of church, but they can’t see why more time and money can’t be put into the youth activities like their friends have. Their friends’ families don’t even pay regular tithes but they find the money and resources to organize really fun things for the teens to do. More evangelicals talk LDS kids into going to their activities than vice versa, which doesn’t bode well for the activity trends that are already negative for the church.

  7. It was really eerie watching the third video, then the fourth video, and seeing how much carried over. The only thing that needed to be different was that when Sis. Dalton spread her arms, she should’ve had a tattoo. (How else can we be sure she had a past?)

    The music in that song was catchy as hell though. I’d watch a Disney-esque LDS musical…although I don’t know if it would beat out the not-quite-so-Disney LDS musical already on Broadway…Cheesy lyrics? Yes. But if the hymnals were replaced with songs like those, I’d probably put them on my iPod.

    Of the first two videos…the first one was pretty awkward, exactly because of the dress.

    The second one was interesting because of the tension between how “well” it was done and the message it is trying to convey. I mean, seeing as it’s based on a song whose original version isn’t FtSoY approved (Cee Lo Green doesn’t originally say “forget” you…), then that’s already one thing. But in any case, there are a few lines in there where I cease to think, “Yes, that’s certainly reasonable for teenagers to do…” and I think, “Oh, right, this is a Mormon video after all.” If I think these things as someone of a Mormon background, I can only imagine what people of non-Mormon backgrounds would think.

    I guess, maybe I’m just looking at it improperly. If it’s a Mormon video for Mormons (e.g., for good Mormons to make an appeal to their not-as-good Mormon friends), then I suppose it’s good. But if it’s to have some kind of outside appeal, then there’s this uncanny valley.

  8. If I had attended the fireside broadcast shown in video 4, maybe I WOULD have left the church ten years sooner….lol. I don’t know how kids can stand that. Shudder.

  9. Ha ha! I was actually there at the taping as a leader with my YW at the time. I left the church 7 months later. I remember being there thinking how weirdie weird that whole night was. So cheesy and un-mormony.

  10. Alan, I think Cara was saying this show was taking Mormon cheesiness to new levels, uncomfortable levels. 😛 I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt the awkwardness during that video. LOL at leaving the church 10 years earlier after seeing that!

    I personally don’t foresee the LDS church going completely mainstream anytime soon. Part of the draw for members is being “unique” in the world. In order to be completely mainstream, church leaders would have to get rid of the temple, garments and prophets, not to mention the entire foundation of the church–and I just don’t see that happening. That’s what sets Mormonism apart.

    The big box church programs and meetings you referenced aren’t anywhere near as strict and demanding as Mormon meetings. You are much more free to come and go as you please. I don’t really think it’s fair to lump them all together as if MS Christianity is the same. You can attend a Christian church once in a while without it controlling every aspect of your life. Not so much with Mormonism. I don’t see the Church giving members that freedom, ever.

  11. Two years ago, when I first saw those “A Brand New Year” vids (the fourth clip is one of them), I remember thinking that the LDS church had become unrecognizable to me. I think a lot of folks had the same reaction and maybe that’s one reason the ABNY project seems to have fizzled (abrandnewyear.lds.org has been scrubbed and the URL redirects to the “youth” landing page at lds.org).

    That said, there are certainly Mormon aspects to the project. For example, this sounds very Mormon to me:

    “There truly are some things worse than dying, that would be, to live without belief, to surrender what you are and to live contrary to what you know, or should know to be true.” — Jeffrey R. Holland speaking to youth in a New Years Eve DVD called A Brand New Year.

    Maybe Elaine S. Dalton can lead us all in a call-and-answer praising the cult leader getting all culty with the kids.

  12. I don’t remember Holland saying that. That is truly appalling, and also controlling. I hate it when people tell you that you “know” it’s still true when you tell them you don’t believe it anymore. My dad does this on occasion.

  13. I think one of the keys to the success of the big-box churches is that they hit the sweet spot of how demanding to be. Like the Mormon church, they’re demanding enough that people feel “special” for attending, but unlike the Mormon church, they’re not so demanding that they’ll punish you for not living up to their demands.

    Also, didn’t Brand New Year owe at least as much to High School Musical as it did to big-box church youth programs? (Apparently with nobody noticing that kids actually in high school are too old for High school Musical.) Anyway, it was a great example of the Totally Radical trope.

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