The ever-useful Urban Dictionary tells us that PLU is an acronym which stands for People Like Us. Every group has insiders and outsiders; the insiders are PLU, the outsiders are not.
Mormons divide and subdivide themselves into an amazing number of groups, and each group has PLUs and non-PLUs. You might think that biologists are the only ones who create order by classifying life according to phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, but think again, and consider the following taxonomy: Mormons, Jackmormons, inactives, temple Mormons, chapel Mormons, foyer Mormons, three-hour Mormons, one-hour Mormons, Ensign Mormons, Sunstone Mormons, iron rodders, liahonas, Freeman Mormons, cultural Mormons, Mormons for Equality, Evergreen Mormons, Skousen-ites, Nibley-ites, FARMS Mormons, Marxist Mormons, conservative Mormons, liberal Mormons, converts, BICs, nazi Mormons, Utah Mormons, mission field Mormons, etc. I find it amusing, and also quite telling, that you can say “anti-Nephi-Lehi” in church and nobody thinks it is funny. Are all these factions a good thing, or are they an impediment to Zion? Do we create those categories just so we can look down our noses at those who aren’t PLU?
I believe the differences we observe are probably a good thing, and they help to account for the variations in temperament, talents, and interests that are inevitably part of being human. Most of us belong to many sub-groups anyway, and it is good to remember that we have a lot in common. A Venn diagram of the various groups would show a lot of overlap, and while the differences are important and shouldn’t be ignored, neither should they be emphasized unduly. The problems arise when we vigorously police the boundaries of our group in an effort to define PLU, because that effort almost invariably yields false results.
For instance, a Freeman Mormon might think that Marxist Mormons are not PLU, but several hundred thousand of his hermanos y hermanas in the Latin American church will prove him wrong. And if you heard a group of LDS people described as a petulant, paranoid, self-important, self-referential, self-congratulatory bunch of big-mouthed whiners who engage in sloppy faux-erudition to extend their influence, who comes to mind? Bloggernacle Mormons? Absolutely. Conservative Mormons? Absolutely. Sunstone Mormons? Absolutely. BYU religion professors? Absolutely. The boundaries just aren’t as clear as we might initially think, so it behooves us to be careful when we want to declare somebody else to be beyond the pale, and therefore not PLU.
On multiple occasions, Gordon B. Hinckley recited this bit of doggerel:
He drew a circle that shuts me out–
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
Our challenge is to expand our capacity to love, and to extend our circles of inclusion. For now, as far as God is concerned, we’re all PLU.