The Irony of the Mormon CultureBy: Jeff Spector
As we wrapped up the latest Mormon Moment with the Romney defeat, I asked the question, â€śWhat Now for the Mormon Moment?â€ť One of the articles we discussed was Stephen Manfieldâ€™s The Mormonizing of America from the Huffington Post. I thought it was an excellent article which characterized how and why Mormons are successful and have become disproportionately representative in many areas of American life: politics, business/professions, education, athletics, the arts, etc., in spite of our small numbers relative to the overall population.
It is not unlike the same phenomena we see with Jews and Asians and some other smaller cultures around the world.
Why is that?
According to Mansfield,
â€śPlant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies–a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.â€ť
So, if I read him right, Mansfield is saying that the LDS religion and its corresponding culture breed the disproportional success that he is observing. Â I think this is true and it has many of the same attributes of my other culture, Judaism. While Iâ€™ve never heard anyone at Church say, â€śMy Son, the Doctor,â€ť there is a certain Mormon pride associated with our successful members including folks like Mitt Romney.
What I find the most ironic about this trend is, much like Jews, many successful Mormons tend to turn their back on the very religion and, in some cases, the culture that drove their success.Â Â Their education, the new circles in which they travel, their workload, their new perspective, etc., are all factors that tend to move folks away, the doctrinal issues notwithstanding.
On the other hand, there are many highly successful members of the Church who continue to be strongly in the fold and do not suffer from this and go on to have both highly successful careers and maintain loyalty to the Church.
So is this culture attribute that Mansfield identified the Churchâ€™s worst enemy moving into the future? Does education and success drive members away from the very thing that drove them in the first place?