How to torpedo yourself at Church

I love the notion of “social capital” at Church — building up a reputation as someone trustworthy, reliable, the sort of “good neighbor” reputation that then permits you to act as you please [1]. People with large amounts of social capital in their wards can say controversial things or act crazily (blue shirts! Pantsuits!) without fear of being marginalized. Attempt those tasks without a good buildup of social capital, and heaven help you. Once people know that you’re fundamentally a good person and worth of trust, you can get away with all sorts of antics [2].

However, much of the building of social capital has to do with initial positioning in the ward. As a new arrival, the heat is on — you’d better not make any false steps in building your reputation, or you’ll never gain the respect and admiration of your elder’s quorum. Let’s consider a few common pitfalls.

First pitfall: pigeonholed because of profession. Nothing will predestine you like standing up and saying, “hi, I’m here as a grad student” or “hi, we’re recent grads from BYU, Todd’s with CES…” It’s unfair that people would judge you on first impressions, but there you are. Consider introducing yourself in a way that highlights who you are and what you’re about rather than just your resume. A week ago I introduced myself in a ward and said that I was a lawyer, working for a large company in town — the company has a reputation for a certain demographic of new hire, and so I will be slotted into that bracket for a long, long time. Big mistake.

Second pitfall: too hot out of the gate. You can easily get branded as “the troublemaker” for making inflammatory and spurious remarks in class like “well maybe the Book of Mormon geography is smaller than we thought” or “isn’t providing for the family really everyone’s responsibility in the home?”. Just keep your mouth shut or you’ll soon be known as that guy who always says the nutty stuff.

Third pitfall: over-entitled. Look, you’re new. The elders quorum might move you in because they’re a bunch of nice guys. But if only a couple of people show up? Don’t complain. And if the ward doesn’t immediately create a separate nursery for your child with the allergy? Don’t jump up and down about it. This is a volunteer organization, and you won’t get everything you want the minute you want it. If you come charging in all super-needy and demanding, people won’t exactly warm up to you. Far better for you to be over-grateful, over-patient and giving of your own time… then you can start being a little demanding later.

Believe me, there are countless other ways you can totally mess up your standing at Church. These are just a few of the more benign ones. Just remember that it’s far easier to destroy a reputation than to build one.

[1] The first time I saw reference to this notion in an LDS context was in a blog post. I seem to recall it having been authored by Mike McBride during his guest stint at T&S, but it appears I am mistaken. An understandable mistake, to be sure — Mike is an economist and so naturally given to the generation of brilliant ideas.

[2] I knew a stake patriarch who could pretty much advocate the dissolution of the church and the violent overthrow of the goverment without anyone objecting. For most of us, it takes a velvet glove. Claudia Bushman is the master of this. Decades of patience and being a thoughtful, kind and contributing member of the ward paid off. She would quietly knit during lessons, then every once in a while she would let a comment fly that would set everyone’s hair on fire. As everyone reeled, she would sweetly return to her knitting.


  1. Why do I care about my standing at church again? This is church, not a job.

  2. MikeInWeHo says:

    Similar principles also apply in the Bloggernacle, in my experience.

  3. E.D. FTW

  4. JD_Dancer says:

    I feel like we’re missing some footnote references here.

  5. Mike, I think the same principles apply to most social situations.

    I want the footnotes, Steve; where are they?

    I think it is important to also have a balance, if you are going to bring diet coke to the elder’s quorum party, wear a white shirt.

  6. do you not want to have a positive influence your ward members? I think some of this is good advice. my mother and i have always talked about this. the ward needs to see you doing your calling, helping out at moves, doing your home/visiting teaching… and consider you an “orthodox” (for lack of a better term) mormon. then and AFTER you’ve established yourself, you can say something off the doctrinal beaten path, and people may consider it. when they find out you are a democrat, or that you are an “intellectual” or whatever demographic-minority within the church, they may be sympathetic and lo, even change the way they think. i like when people have to re-think their preconceived notions about “how” or “what” you have to think to be an active latter-day saint. if you don’t apply some tact then you are only positioning yourself as an outsider and your opinion will matter little.

  7. Steve Evans says:

    Zounds! Forgot the notes. This afternoon, J. Promise.

    E.D., if church operated the way it’s supposed to as a Zion community, reputation would never matter. Let me know when you find a ward that works that way. In the meantime, rest assured that your reputation matters. [1]

    [1] For example, you now have a reputation among this particular lds community based on your comment. Sorry!

  8. Nothing will raise your standing like the following opening statement in elders quorum:

    “Hi, I just moved into the ward with my family. No worries, we hired a moving company to move us in.”

  9. For some reason I was expecting more than three ways to ruin a social standing (and footnotes as stated by JD and Stapley)…

    Can we throw in some of the obnoxious stuff like being married for X number of years and having less than X number of kids? Or when asked what type of callings you enjoy, your answer crosses off anything to do with primary?

  10. I thought that is what you are SUPPOSED to do, show up in a blue shirt and then make a comment in gospel doctrine class like “I have always thought that Nephi was a little condescending towards his brothers and maybe if he didn’t talk down to them all of the time they might not have rebelled” or “You know, the average male in the middle east around 600BC was only about 5’3” so church art notwithstanding, Nephi , “being large of stature” was probably only about 5’5”or 5’6”. Comments like that should keep you no higher than the Sunday school presidency.

  11. Prefer to Remain Anonymous says:

    New couple in our ward spoke on Sunday. Husband mentioned he was here for law school, that his dad was a bishop and bought him lots of great things as a kid (cars, college education, etc.), that he had a Masters Degree, that he was a popular graduate instructor (“patient” and “kind” were in the student reviews), and that he wasn’t bragging since he wasn’t even there for his teaching ability, but rather for his research. The best part, by far, was when he said that he learned to read at age 4, at which time he successfully completed an entire chapter of the Book of Mormon without his parents’ help.

    He may not have torpedoed himself with the rest of the ward, but he certainly did with me.

  12. StillConfused says:

    Here are some good standbys to help: When someone boasts at how many children or grandchildren they have, a simple “ooh gross” goes a long way. Or when women are complaining about their life being hard or whatever, “Wow, talk about whiney!” Those kinds of cracks help reduce your chances of time consuming callings.

  13. Fully agreed. It reminds me of the documentary on Hugh Nibley that FARMS did a while back. Elder Maxwell said something like, “Nibley’s critiques of Mormon culture can’t be dismissed because we know he is fully dedicated to God’s kingdom.”

    Hard thing for me is that it is difficult to earn enough social capital when I’m moving wards every year. Maybe some day.

  14. Guy just moved into our ward a couple of weeks ago. His first week in the ward, he tried to convince the nursery leader that his little girl (junior nursery) was “gifted” and “special” and should be allowed to move up with the senior nursery kids. Whether she is special or not is anyone’s guess, but I am positive that the father does not have unbiased opinion on the subject. In any case, this is Nursery and Primary, not getting your kid into the great preschool in Manhattan.

  15. Steve Evans says:

    Ben, maybe you can trade in your Bloggernacle pre-eminence for real-world reputation, albeit at a discount. If you were the most revered Bloggernacle figure of all time (say, Kristine), you could trade that for the real-world reputation of somebody just above mediocre (the bloggernacle equivalent of, say, John Mansfield) [1].

    [1] John, just kidding. You’re not mediocre.

  16. Another way to torpedo your reputation. Don’t claim basketball skills, and then be the primary cause of losing to the evil nemesis ward in your stake by having a foul to points ratio of 4 to 1, or constantly yammering at the three point line “I’m open! I’m open!” when it doesn’t really matter if you are open or not, and will miss every shot anyway.

  17. Steve: if I had any sort of bloggernacle pre-eminence, I would consider it.[1] But I do wonder what the exact ration would be.[2]

    [1] I do agree that Kristine has the most revered “eminence” in the ‘nacle. No question.

    [2] I don’t get the emphasis on footnotes in this thread. Making up for the lack of footnotes in the post?

  18. Peter LLC says:

    For some reason I was expecting more than three ways to ruin a social standing

    I’ll give you another one: as bishop, trying taking a Sunday off to attend a luxury car test drive event with your family. Then post photos of the event on your public blog.

  19. I guess I’m with some of the other folks here who are a bit confused by this post. It seems as though Steve is saying that we should be careful to protect our reputations because (1) we don’t want to be marginalized, and (2) we want respect, admiration, etc. This seems to boil down to a need to be validated by “the ward”. But why? Why do I need validation from the ward, from this amorphous entity?

    Assuming I have friends outside church circles, why should I be so anxious for the approval of a geographically-defined random sample of mormons? Why do I care if they think I’m the anti-Christ for wearing non-white shirts or for voicing unorthodox viewpoints in church meetings? At the end of the 3 hour block, do I care? Am I getting rated? Is there some sort of popularity index out there that has any bearing on my eternal destiny?

    Beyond that, the little cross-section of mormons that comprise a ward can sometimes be a bit crazy. I have been in wards where sending your children to public school is viewed as tantamount to sending them to Sodom. Should I pull my kids out of school to appease the demands of the ward? Or is it only the more “reasonable” demands? But in that case, who defines what constitutes reasonable? Is the whole white/non-white shirt thing reasonable? Why?

    Don’t we spend a ridiculous amount of time telling our kids not to worry about what’s popular or cool? Why then are we subjecting ourselves to this sophomoric social norm? As to the argument that we must conform to the prevailing standard in order to change it, I see no evidence that this is necessary, that it works, or that it is worth the cost. Again, I believe the things we tell our teenagers can be instructive here.

  20. I think these are more like fingernotes, which is what I call footnotes which are actually parentheticals moved to the end of a text. By saying that, of course, I might have blown a little social capital with Prefer to Remain Anonymous up there.

  21. (Another type of fingernote can be seen in Steve’s comment #7, as in “giving-the-fingernote”)

  22. StillConfused says:

    #19… I took this as a How-to… In other words, reducing our standing is a good thing.

  23. Don’t confess your sins. In Gospel Doctrine the teacher asked us to give instances of Sabbath shopping that were really needed beyond buying medicine. So to be helpful I said that we have gotten home at 2 in the morning the previous Saturday/Sunday and found a list of items my newly 12-year old son needed by 8 AM Monday morning for his week-long scout camp. So I bought a few of them on Sunday. I think I lost some serious cred. sharing that story in class.

  24. Completely agree with the post. The last ward I moved into (3.5 yrs ago) I didn’t understand the idea of social capital AT ALL and really messed this up. Made some HUGE mistakes the first few weeks in the ward. I felt like it took a good long while to gain any traction. We just moved and the RS lesson 2 weeks ago drove me freaking crazy (family relationships, based on the Proc…) but I kept my mouth shut the entire time. I’m going for social capital this time before I let loose with anything that is outside the orthodoxy of this new and very conservative ward. However, I have some things that automatically work against me (married 4.5 yrs without children, I am starting law school in the Fall etc…) so holding my tongue in RS and SS might not be enough. I might have to try to actually contribute to the conversation somehow…. I’m much more of a bull in a china shop type of person than social capital finesse so this is an experiment for me,

  25. This post makes me want to move[1] just so I can experiment with the more spectacular methods of wrongful self-introduction.[2]

    [1] Not really. I hate moving, and wouldn’t mind dying where I am right now.
    [2] Perhaps I could simulate the experience by attending different wards in the next stake and introducing myself as if I had just moved in.

  26. Chris Gordon says:

    I’ve got personal experiences with starting things off awkwardly in a ward if not torpedoing us completely. The past two wards I’ve lived in have had a large group of gypsy members–young marrieds, students, living in the ward as a means to an end–all of which end up remaining rather anonymous.

    The wife and I are weird in that we like callings and like getting involved pretty quickly. We’re not too good at just making friends without working with others in the ward. Anyway, we had a goal to introduce ourselves to the bishop within our first week or two, ask if we can meet with him for a few minutes, and express our willingness to take callings ASAP.

    Each time the bishop kept waiting for us to explain to him how we needed a food order or had some drama to place in his lap. Both seemed dubious that we really were just there to say hi and we want to work. I guess I can’t blame him for his cynicism, but it was weird.

  27. In my home ward, just down the hill from the Microsoft main campus, you can also blow your reputation[1] by announcing you are working as an intern for Microsoft, and are going back to BYU[2] in three months.

    [1] Such an announcement doesn’t really torpedo your reputation as much as establishing that you won’t be around long enough to get to know, so why invest the effort?

    [2] Or ASU or Utah State. However, if someone announced that they were an intern from the U of U, that would be worth getting to know, even for such a short time.

  28. More to add:

    The Bachelor. As a man, avoid mentioning that you were recently divorced without suffering immediate suspicion from the stereotypers. Try to build up your reputation first.

    The Emotional Wreck. While we all love a good bout of crying, too many tears right away will cause others to weigh your emotions much less in the future. There’s something to be felt for the 50-year long ward member who breaks down one Sunday for the first time.

    The Clingy RM. If you were a missionary in the ward and are back to move in, don’t mention it. Focus on something else.

    The Disadvantaged or the Rich. It’s ok to be either of these, but you probably don’t want to appear like such without a longstanding reputation in the ward. Its an immediate turnoff to have someone move in the ward an immediately request superfluous assistance (note qualifying adjective). It is also not a good idea to doom yourself to a social class that does not mix well with whom you could have become very good friends with.

    I think I will join the ranks against the honorable Steve Evans on this thread: why seek the crown?
    I might understand if it’s because you really enjoy getting cookies by the bucketful during Christmas Season.

    (No, I do not seek to hide either. That phrase may not be used against me- I will always wear a white shirt in Church).

  29. Ardis, I highly recommend the strange ward-hop introduction! I’d pay to see you do that!

    Also, maybe people should try a few preliminary runs at introduction at other wards before actual go-live.

  30. Hey, ASU is a pretty good party school. They might be fun to get to know…

  31. If anyone wants a great example of open-mouth-insert-foot rampaging with no social capital, go back and look at my entrance into the Bloggernacle – here at BCC. Wasn’t. pretty. at. all.

    Thanks, Steve, for being patient enough (stop laughing, everyone) to teach me about social capital early on.

  32. Oh, and I agree completely with the idea that we have to walk the walk for a while before we will be taken seriously when we talk a different talk. The only reason I can express as many heterodox views at church as I do is that I am an orthoprax member in most ways.

  33. It also works in reverse for sharing your “Mormoness” with others. Establish that you are a normal person not a stereotype before letting them know you are Mormon.

  34. Actually, people can get pigeonholed as the local eccentric and STILL have a lot of credibility and social capital in the ward if they are known for always showing up and assisting at service projects, callings, home teaching, ward activities, and informal help to the ward members.

  35. Ray (31),
    Seems like you did okay. :)

  36. BTW, those who keep following that thread will also get to re-live (or experience for the first time!) a true Bloggernacle Classic:
    1. m&m says something condescending/patronizing
    2. Steve Evans gets pissed because m&m used smiley-faces
    3. Kristine smacks Steve Evans down
    4. Steve Evans changes his shorts

  37. back row elder says:

    Best way to torpedo yourself in our stake (southern california): “Hi, we are X family. I just graduated BYU, got a job down here. We are originally from Salt Lake and have two small kids. We are renting over in X.” Read: We will be gone within 1 year after we try and save up to buy a home in lower-cost Utah real estate near our families or in the new developments by Thanksgiving Point. We will enjoy a one year Disneyland (weekday) pass in the meantime if you would like to get to know us then.

    Another torpedo: A new fam moved in last week. In Sunday school, he prefaced each of his 6 comments with, “Well, being in the academic circles I’m in as a professor of [insert Charlie Brown teacher sound here], . . . .”

    My reputation is the guy who holds the class in the hallway each week.

  38. Thanks for the link, Scott – not for my comment but because I had forgotten that thread. Classic, indeed.

  39. More ideas . . .

    *Announce you are from Utah and had a really hard time moving away from Zion and family, and that it is weird to have non-LDS neighbors. (Rant about other things in the community that are decidedly ‘not like Utah’ such as: a long driving distance to the temple, smaller youth programs, no skiing, no 24th parades, and the hot and humid weather. Go on to say that you know you will learn from this ‘trial’.

    *Talk about what a great job you did in your last calling as X. Go on and on about how it was (choose one or all of the following) : featured in church news and magazines/received kudos from GAs/saved lives/such a triumph that now you are gone, they cannot go on/ etc. It makes those currently in the calling squirm.

    *Look poor. The rich (or upper-middle class) get away with many more eccentricities than the poor.

    *Show your rebellious nature by flashing whatever you do to go against the conservative crowd (beard, colored shirt, motorcycle, coke, heavy metal/hard rock music, edgy clothes, politics on sleeve, etc.)

    *Introduce your spouse as Molly Mormon incarnate. Then, your spouse gets up and introduces you as Peter Priesthood. (I cringe when I hear it, but I’ve seen many a couple use this very successfully and garner a lot of capital.)

    *Conversely, a sure-fire way to cash in on instant capital is to drop your GA last name.

  40. Steve Evans says:

    I declare invalid any comment left on this thread without footnotes.

  41. [1] Steve will frequently try to change the subject of a thread to try and squiggle out of the hard questions

  42. “Conversely, a sure-fire way to cash in on instant capital is to drop your GA last name.”

    This may work with most members, but if you flash your family connections around, my personal respect for you will decrease immediately.*

    *I was in a ward with and friends with the son of a 12, and I briefly dated the niece of a well-known 70–and both friends were extremely quiet about their family connections. I really respect that approach.

  43. Show up in a North Texas ward and start calling the high schools asking about release-time seminary.

  44. Standing helps with both popularity and respect. Beyond hallway banter and dinner invitations, standing earns listeners and lets one influence discussions. [1] The original post’s footnote 2 [2] notes how ideas voiced by one with high social capital will receive special consideration.

    The right level of effort to put in will be different for different preferences. If one doesn’t value the relationships available in a congregation and doesn’t see much potential in lesson discussions, then costly investments in social capital may not pay.
    [1] The original post discusses this in terms of marginalization. Lack of popularity makes church lonely. Lack of respect makes comments easy to dismiss.

    [2] Not long ago, commenter footnotes were out of fashion at BCC.[a]

    [a] See, for example, Haglund’s reply to Brown (2007). Toe-notes in the comments achieve the height of pretension.

  45. Naismith says:

    Um, what if you happen to have the same last name as a GA, without even being related at all?

  46. Dr Horrible says:

    the first sunday after my mission I threw away all of my neckties and switched to “bow ties only” at church. Mix that in with a non-white shirt, and I am pretty much guaranteed no big callings…

  47. Whizzbang from Winnipeg says:

    love it! In Canada where I live we get the Albertans who move in for school or work. One person whose husband got transferred here got up and shared her Alberta family history and who was what and NO ONE here cares about any of that stuff! “mormon names” or your grandfather was the first branch president of beazer, Alberta or so and so was the temple President in the 60’s and had lunch with Jesus and Hugh B. Brown, who cares already. We also get the people from here who move out to Alberta and then come back and share how blooming wonderful their lives are now that they are in “Zion”, A common heard phrase is “i feel the spirit more out there then I did here” oh really? how was it our collective fault that you didn’t feel the spirit here?! bozos!

  48. Third pitfall: over-entitled … indeed.

    I’ve been working on how to complain without coming across as mentally ill, abusive or a jerk. I’m still working on it. But the bloggernacle needs more posts like this one.

    As for people who said amazingly contrary things, what about Hugh Nibley? Especially in his last twenty years, which he spent mostly on a call to repentance.

  49. StillConfused says:

    So I introduced my (nonMormon) sister to my GA brother in law, she kept referring to him as a “general counsel” rather than a “general authority.” Probably a little giveaway as to her religious status.

  50. After seeing Scott B.’s link, I declare invalid any comment left on this thread without smileys! [1]

    [1] :)

  51. Be a single never married guy over 30. Torpedo’s you like nothing else!

  52. Don’t admit to being a professional musician, especially if you are an organist. “Everyone knows” that musicians are homosexual drug addicts and they all play too loud. Ask any Bishop or Stake President. Encourage your current Bishop NOT to say anything about you when the Bishop from the new Ward calls to get the “skinny” on you. Saying “Oh, she/he is the best GD teacher in the Church.” is a sure way to get someone assigned to the Nursery.

  53. I still remember a family that moved into the ward maybe 20 years ago. Their apartment wasn’t ready yet (or maybe they didn’t have one), but instead of moving their junk temporarily into a storage unit like any normal person would, they managed to finagle the bishop’s garage for this purpose. They just dripped with entitlement. It frankly pissed me off that they didn’t reflect any sense of gratitude to the bishop for the sacrifice of his garage, or to the workers (including moi) who were schlepping all of their belongings into said garage without any assistance from them. I never forgave them; the way they entered the ward permanently marked them as arrogant, entitled [expletives deleted].

  54. Sam Kitterman Jr. says:

    Whether or not social standing should be a concern is unfortunately not the reality. Social standing is alive and well in the Church. I’m not a lawyer but a Democrat and I can guarantee you that at least one or more remarks will be made either during Sunday School or High Priests either about my professon, my political orientation or both. Sometimes in general, mostly with me being mentioned…..
    I smile and move on….what else is one to do?

  55. I think the biggest way to torpedo yourself is to worry about your social cred at all. The coolest kids never give a damn what anyone else thinks of them. Church is no exception.

  56. Boz, that’s the wrong thread for reliving Ray’s troubled past as an erstwhile BCC judge in Israel[1], but it is a great thread for other reasons[2]

    [1] You need a thread where Ray takes someone to task (at length) for bad behavior which then generates a slap from Steve reminding everyone that Ray has no admin privleges at BCC. Classic.
    [2] One of the few threads which shows evidence that m&m and I have ever agreed on anything.

  57. #56 – Yup, that’s the one – or two – or seventeen I meant.

  58. Forgot the :) and the footnote[1]

    [1] where MCQ makes a condescending comment about a comment that doesn’t take anyone to task. :)

  59. BTW, those who are arguing on this thread that ward social capital is not worth generating need to wake up.

    Hint: You need stuff from the people in your ward!!!

    You need their help and their frinedship and their good will. If you haven’t got it you are seriously missing out and “living below your privileges” as a certain german first presidency member might say.

    Want a babysitter? You better hope the young women in the ward hold your family in some regard, or at least don’t think of you as axe-murderers.

    Want your kids to have friends in the neighborhood? You better hope the other parents in the ward don’t regard your family as a bad influence on their children.

    Want to get invited over to your neighbor’s house with the rest of the ward when they have their famous home-made ice cream and BBQ wings while watching the BYU-Utah game on the big screen?

    Want to get the callings you actually like instead of the ones no one else wants?

    Want to have friends in the ward instead of just acquaintances?

    Well, you get the idea.

    Ideally, you would get all this stuff no matter what sort of odd duck you came off as, but in case you haven’t noticed, we ain’t livin’ in the City of Enoch, and we ain’t a-goin’ to be translated anytime soon.

    So think twice before you mow your lawn on Sunday with your shirt off, or otherwise show yourself to be a wild-eyed, liberal, off the wall, chain-yanking, intellectual, freak. Yeah, we know you consider yourself to be lovably eccentric, but get a clue: no one else does. Social capital does matter, and you better build some if you want a decent life in your corner of Zion.

  60. Ray I want a revised footnote. I have never been condescending in my life.[1]

    [1]See, definition of condescending:
    “condescending— adj
    showing or implying condescension by stooping to the level of one’s inferiors, esp in a patronizing way.”

    This obviously doesn’t apply to any of my comments because I never stoop to the level of my inferiors. I simply correct them and move on.

  61. Steve Evans says:

    #55, take it from a cool kid: everybody worries what others think of them. Those that don’t are sociopathic.

  62. Agreed. I concede. [61, 59]

  63. And to (roughly) quote Claudia Bushman, social capital at Church will get you a lot of people attending your funeral. Which, as I think about it, ain’t much of a reward, really.

  64. Peter LLC says:

    I simply correct them and move on.

    Same here, though I am often bewildered at the mountains others will move in order to move on.

    Anyroad, MCQ is right–social capital does matter. The difficulty with amassing social capital, however, is that others manage the deposits and they are often mistaken.[1]

    [1] This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. On balance, I suspect most of us benefit from the fact that those we encounter typically don’t know us very well.

  65. I served my mission in spain and I live in France. It’s interesting to me to learn about the church in the USA (I guess most comments come from americans), particularly in Utah. Here, you can find someone with a blue shirt blessing the sacrament and no one says anything !
    The notion of social capital doesn’t seem very important around here.

  66. I’m moving wards soon, but back to a ward I had previously been a part of. It is not so far but it still makes me nervous. I have moved on somewhat from the place I was in when I was last a member of the ward and I want to be able to be part of the community again.

    On a side note, I am surprised at the number of people who seem to have equated the ideas in the post with some sort of positioning for honour within the community, as if Steve is vying for a prominent calling. Social capital and respect are not about being prominent, or even having power, in the ward but rather they seem to outline the ground of mutuality or fellowship. Unfortunately open fellowship is not always offered and these are useful thoughts for help me think about how I can make a (potentially) difficult transition.

  67. Aaron, I’ve just moved back to the ward I grew up in after being away for 10 years. Like you, I’ve changed a lot in those years and was somewhat anxious about the move back. To date it has been a more positive experience than I anticipated (probably because the ward dynamics have changed quite a bit over the last decade as well). Good luck with the move. Enjoy being back in the pews.

  68. Oh social capital…I had a bit to start with through no merit of my own, having married into “that family” in the stake that everyone knows and likes. All 4 sons served missions, all the kids are musically talented, mom has held every youth-related stake-level calling yet invented for women, dad’s been bishop/high council member for basically his entire life. As a laundry-list, it sounds ideal…and sort of makes me want to vomit. :) [1]

    It seems that if you have the right connections in our ward (i.e., you’ve perpetuated the ward/stake inbreeding that means that most kids in our huge Primary are cousins of some description) that you can then get away with whatever behaviour you want that would normally qualify as Mormon social suicide. My husband and our organist proudly and brazenly sport facial hair, a few long-term ‘gators and ward members go bare-shouldered or rock the hairy man-cleavage during the Sunday block [2], there are a small, but visible minority of coloured shirts, a sister who consistently cracks a can of diet coke to parch her thirst in Sunday School, and one guy who felt so strongly about the lack of reverence before Sacrament that he turned it into a full-fledged argument with the bishop…in the middle of priesthood meeting. No one seems to bat an eye at these things. Even teaching Seminary with a lesson that involved identifying Apostles whose faces were obscured under Kanye West and Dame Edna sunglasses hasn’t phased anyone. [3] Though, who can’t find the fun in seeing Joseph B. Wirthlin and Boyd K. Packer in aviators?

    [1] I think that fulfils the obligatory smiley quotient to post in the thread.
    [2] I say more power to them. And I’m impressed that no one makes negative comments about it.
    [3] True story. I had hoped that was my ticket out of being the Seminary substitute teacher…

  69. gomez, I’m very glad that you move worked well and I am hopefully about my own. btw, and your right the change will be quite delightful in at least one major respect.

  70. re # 19, don’t you want to get along with people at Church?

    All Steve is saying is that people should be wise about the first impressions they make. This post is not controversial at all. It’s astute observation and excellent advice, actually.[1]

    [1] It is a mystery why anyone would introduce themselves in such a way as to guarantee that no one wants to invest any time or effort into getting to know them.

  71. Benjamin says:

    Upon moving into my current ward, I asked if there was a scouting program for which I could volunteer. I was told that since we had exactly two active young men, one of whom had no interest in scouting, the ward wasn’t running a scouting program, but that the one young man was registered with a troop in the community. So I signed up with that troop.

    A few weeks later, and having realized that they had someone interested in scouting, I was approached by the bishop to consider the merits of forming an LDS troop out of three wards with a total of 7 young men. The wards met in two different buildings, and their proposal was for all 7 of the boys to meet once a month, and the other weeks would be “patrol meetings.” I wrote a three page letter dismantling the idea and concluded that if it were my son, I’d prefer a community troop over their proposal. From that point on, I was the outcast.

    Fortunately, that bishop didn’t serve much longer, and his clerk was so impressed by my letter that he called me to be his finance clerk under the new bishop. Not much longer, I was made the clerk, and have enjoyed a span of three years of being able to say anything and everything I want. But even that is coming to an end as the stake has asked me to head up the stake’s scouting program. I declined, and they asked to meet again. This time I’m going in with a 7 page letter detailing why I won’t do scouting in the Church. I think this might deplete any capital I’ve built up. If I’m lucky, I’ll disappear into Primary for a while and I’ll get another chance to rebuild.

  72. I’m moving to Utah at the end of the month, so I guess this means I can no longer mow the lawn on Sundays without wearing a shirt. Thanks for the heads up, MCQ, but does the same level of social ostracism result from shirtless Saturday lawn mowing? I’m curious.

  73. These will always get my eyes rolling:
    – Name dropping your GA relative/neighbor.
    – Assuming that everyone is a BYU fan and reacting like non-BYU fans are apostates.
    – Referring to anywhere outside of Utah and Idaho as “The Mission Field.”
    – Thinking that you’re the reason why all the women in the ward now scrapbook/run half marathons/do photography/blog.
    – Constantly running down the local schools/government/culture.

  74. I’m more along the #19 while acknowledging the logic of #59, although in support of my ward social capital doesn’t mean that much when it comes to ‘help’, etc. I mean, football? Really?

    One time this couple moved in and discussed their various degrees, missions (not in spiritual context but capital-wise), and their trip to Las Vegas where they saw Celine Dion sing and in their opinion she is the best singer out there. No kidding.

    Another way to lose social capital: The Bishop, prior to being Bishop, was at a ward Christmas Party and was herding all the kids out of the hall and told my 10 y/o he wasn’t ‘acting like a Mormon’ and something to the effect his tithing dollars were paying for the building. One of the non-member friends we brought (6 y/o) was crying because the pre-Bishop was harsh in his mannerisms so I got into his face and extremely assertively asked him to define how exactly does a Mormon act and proceeded to call him even more assertively a prick. One month later, I’m raising my right hand sustaining him in his new calling…:)

    Then, this other person stated if he was in the Young Men program he would bring clippers to cut all the ‘long-haired’ young men to their appropriate length (appropriate in his estimation). I told him that was the gayest thing I’ve ever heard and I would make him bleed if he ever did something like that to my kid.

    Social bombs.

  75. I am brand new in my ward and had determined to do this one right. I had intuitively figured out to lay low and smile. Thanks for this post, it is just what I needed to make my entrance as smooth as possible.

  76. glass ceiling says:

    “I have met the enemy and he is us.” (1)

    Social capital in church matters because we say it does. People who work years to buck for entitlement tend to perpetuate the dynamic once they achieve the coveted status. As in, “I had to work to get here. So should everyone else.”

    I have been in exactly one ward that didn’t seem to operate this way. It was heaven, and the yardstick by which I measure all wards by… before or sense. That ward, for all of its prestige, was dissolved, partitioned and grafted into three “at risk” wards within the same stake. It was a sad day. (For anyone who is curious, it was the Applewood Ward in Denver, which disappeared some three years ago.) I was there for a blissful six years prior.

  77. This isn’t about “entitlement”. It’s much more about community, respect, humility and simple human interaction dynamics.

    What’s so hard to understand about the idea that we should try to avoid sounding like arrogant pricks, especially when we don’t know people very well and they don’t know us very well, if we want people to listen to and actually consider what we say?[1]

    [1]I can’t find a way to include a smiley properly, so here it is. :)

  78. glass, Steve’s post is not about bucking for entitlement, it isn’t about achieving a coveted status, it isn’t about striving to be one of the cool people, it’s about social awareness. It is ironic that people who can’t grasp that concept are usually the ones that most desperately need it.

  79. sometimes it’s all for naught. I was in a ward for 4 years, attempting service for the Lord and the ward as YM Pres. and then HP GL. My wife did much more dedicated service than I but I was no slouch – I even did my home teaching. Then I made the mistake of having Kerry stickers on my car at ward trunk-or-treat. That next Sunday, a woman in the ward came up to me and was rather apoplectic, muttering, stammering, “You! Of all people! I never!” I responded in a rather poor way, “Well, if 85% of the church is Republican, somebody has to be that other 15%.” Her response, “Yeah! But there’s a reason for that!!!” I’m still trying to figure out what that reason is. Maybe that’s why I’m not a Republican.

  80. Chris Gordon says:

    @glass ceiling RE: 76, where in Denver is/was that? I’m new to the area and am supremely curious.

  81. glass ceiling says:


    I am not sure if being one’s self is synonymous with being an arrogant prick. Personally, I think the bar is set way too high if this is what it takes to be acceptable to members of a ward. And for what, football games and babysitting?

    My only point is that most people tend to hate the dynamic, and yet it lives on through the generations. If people could learn to let people be people and stop “lieing in wait” for wierdness, we would all benefit.

    I have a friend who had hair down to his butt and a beard, and was in a rock band. He was also an outspoken libertarian when libertarianism wasn’t cool. But he did his hometeaching regularly, and helped people move when he could. For a few years he was regularly asked to cut his hair. He refused. Eventually, they made him the seminary teacher anyway . He kept his same look as seminary teacher as he did before the calling for the next five or more years. He now facilitates a “School of Rock” program every six months in stake centers for at-risk youth (Mormon or not.) We are talking heavy metal concerts in church gyms at excruciating decibels. Local leaders eat out of his hand. His did not get there by conformity. Far from it.

  82. I’m moving to Utah at the end of the month

    This is a joke, right ECS? Unless you want your head to explode.

  83. glass ceiling says:


    Applewood is an enclave of Wheatridge. Wheatridge is a wonderful suburb northwest of Denver. Full of parks and well-built older homes, it is both ten minutes from the mountains and ten minutes from the city. :)

  84. Chris Gordon says:

    gc, I know right where that is. I’m in the Denver stake, so I’m not familiar with the ward situation up that way. Thanks for passing that on!

  85. glass ceiling says:


    Take I-25 north to the 6th Ave West exit. Head west on 6th, and make a right at the Simms exit. Make a quick left on 8th Ave. Go a mile or so up that road to Coors St and make a left. Drive to the bottom of that street and on the left is the stake center for Wheat Ridge.

  86. I loved our time in a branch, where the established members were the ones saying the crazy/cool stuff. In that community, social capital was handed out at the door.

  87. glass ceiling says:


    Thank you. Touche. :)

  88. Any quirkiness you may have can be overcome by always being there at moves, activities, and serving in callings. I consistently wear non white shirts and have spent almost 15 years in YM’s.

  89. No disrespect to you bbell, but that makes me want to cry. “Blessed are the pigment haters!”

  90. Chris Gordon says:

    @bbell, I agree. While there will always be the judgmental few [1] in any community, the majority will forgive and even smile at any amount of controversy you bring if you consistently show up and do your part. We’ve got a brother in the ward whose personality can be gently described as caustic. But when he teaches a lesson, he teaches a great one [2] and he’s the most consistent “mover” in the EQ.

    [1] loud or quiet, they’re always there.

    [2] if only he’d see that his person-to-person interactions were undermining his otherwise great preparation and delivery

  91. Another: Not bringing your scriptures. Yes they’re heavy, easily make it into the lost and found, and aren’t as hip as the dude next to you with the iPhone. But getting caught in a scripture-reading-chain with no scriptures—on your first day—sends the wrong impression.
    Brother Doe really doesn’t respect my lesson that much…
    Who does this character think he is, that I have to share my
    scriptures with him?[1]
    Who, honey? You mean the guy who forgot his scriptures in Sunday School?

    [1] Depends on the situation ☺

  92. This is one of the big reasons I prefer smaller wards. They’re happy just to have you there, as long as you’re not too demanding on the ward’s resources (and sometimes even if you are). They don’t care if you wear jeans to church or who you vote for. They don’t even care if you’re only going to be there for a year or two. Of course, you’re much more likely to get high-responsibility callings in these wards, even if you are a Democrat and even if you just moved in a couple of months ago.

  93. Sometimes I wonder if half the reason some people feel hostility from their fellow members is – frankly – because they WANT to feel hostility and EXPECT to feel it.

    Feeds into their sense of martyrdom and self-importance.

  94. How dare you, Seth R. I KNEW you’d come along and judge me, and look what you’ve done!

  95. When you move into your new ward, have 4 to 5 boxes of books/magazines be clearly labeled “Sunstone” or “Dialogue”. Be sure that members of the EQP and bishopric are all tasked with unloading these boxes. If possible give these members a knowing wink as they bring them into the house [1].

    [1] an alternative approach to those currently in a ward community is to invite said members of the ward for dinner or Settlers of Cataan (a) and be sure that back issues of Sunstone are situated on the coffee table above copies of Ensign.
    (a) aka “the Mormon game”.

  96. #81 – Your friend proves the point of the post and what I am saying. His willingness to live the life overcame the other stuff that might have been a barrier if he’s been an arrogant prick.

    There’s the ideal, and there’s reality in too many places. How exactly do we disagree with each other? I’m not seeing it.

  97. Bro. Jones says:

    #74, #81 Awesome. Completely awesome. Especially the hair-cutting comment in #74.

  98. glass ceiling says:


    I am not sure if we agree or not. It seems, though, that there remain two camps on this thread: those who support things as they are, and those that don’t. Personally, I think that the fault lies more often with stuffy members of a ward than with the poor chap that just moved in and misses his/her old familiar ward and is just trying to feel at home in new surroundings (Don’t they know this is way too much to
    ask for? ).

    For heaven sake, people are just trying to be known for who they are and not feel like they have to feel ashamed for it.

    And we wonder why half the Church is inactive. And heaven help the single folks, by the way. They are weird for just showing up.

  99. Former Mormon says:

    Congrats. Your post made it to the exmormon reddit. Post title: “Just remember it is far easier to walk away from church than to spend every Sunday back in junior high.”

    Thank you for reminding me of why I got out. I now spend my Sundays alone. And inspired.

  100. Former Former Mormon says:

    Former Mormon: (#99):

    Thank you for reminding me why I got back in. Like you, I used to spend my Sundays alone. And I thought they were inspired days. But then I realized how much time I was still spending online looking for further reasons to dislike the Church and justify my leaving. It was damn near the same amount of time I could have been spending doing something useful. So I went back t Church!

  101. @#19: I agree completely. My comment was just an off-the-cuff reaction and yours spells out much more of what I wanted to say.

    I’m a married, childfree, liberal female engineer with a Ph.D. Long ago, I learned not to care too much about what other people in the ward think about me. I’m there to take the sacrament, contribute what I can, and (hopefully) feel the Spirit, not to be the queen bee.

  102. glass ceiling says:

    I am not sure if the story of my friend with the long hair proves your point or mine. Yes, he did serve. But he was being judged for years along the way while “earning” these same menbers’ respect.

    The fact is, there are many good “long-haired, politically deviant” equivalents out there, only with thinner skin. They don’t stand out like my friend as a living metaphor. Not for long, anyway.
    They vaporize.

  103. glass ceiling says:

    If anyone is interested in what became of my long-haired friend, go to:

  104. #99

    I’m starting to come to the conclusion that more than a couple ex-Mormons are actually nothing more than group-hating misanthropes.

    Glad you’re enjoying the solitude.

  105. Glass Ceiling –
    3.5 yrs ago my husband and I moved to Wheatridge and tried to get into the Applewood ward. We were “called” into the Table Mtn Ward. What do you get when you combine a student ward with an engineering school? Weirdest.ward.ever. Publicly acknowledging that really hurts one’s social capital, btw…..

  106. Wow. I sure don’t understand how building social capital is equivalent to being in junior high. It’s not about conformity, it’s about putting in the time showing that you are an asset to the community and care about the other people in it before you expect people to salute when you let your freak flag fly. It’s important to remember that no one is saved alone. We have families and wards for a reason.

  107. glass ceiling says:


    I have heard good things about that ward. I know they are serving a few agendas though. Sounds like an interesting mix, to say the least. How are they treating you?

  108. For some of us, getting that credibility takes a different road than others. When we first moved into our ward about 5 1/2 years ago, my wife was known as “the lady that’s always in the hospital.” When she died a couple of months ago, she was “the lady that all the Primary kids adored.” At a joint YW/Activity Days activity at our home a few weeks before she died, besides the girls that were there for the activity, we had all the leaders, the bishop, and a few extra parents, plus about 15 other kids running around in our basement and/or the back yard. Once she had won over all the kids, their mothers just had to get to know her so they could learn what all the fuss was about.

  109. glass ceiling, there is absolutely nothing in the original post or my comments that says anything about how things “should” be. I think all of us agree on how it should be – at least with regard to accepting people for who they are. As I said, there is the ideal and there is the real, and, unfortunately, we live in the real.

    Steve said, “it’s far easier to destroy a reputation than to build one.” That is true, inside or outside the LDS Church.

    Fwiw, I live in a ward that is pretty close to the ideal in this regard. It is very non-judgmental and very accepting of differing opinions. The last adult convert has seven earrings in her left ear, and nobody made a single coment about it that I heard. She was welcomed with open arms – and my ward is quite big for the general area where I live.

    However, even in my ward, if someone presents themselves as superior to everyone else or goes on long tirades against what someone says in Sunday School (in short, if they present as an arrogant prick), they eventually are going to be ignored by the people who originally were extremely open to accepting them – especially if they don’t get actively involved in helping and serving others. Sure, that’s not “ideal” – but it is reality.

    I just don’t see how it is controversial in any way to say, in essence, “There are landmines to acceptance in the real world, even in the church version of the real world, especially for people are joining a group. Be aware of social dynamics, and try not to do stupid things that will lower your credibility and social capital.”

    To reference Elder Wirthlin’s wonderful “Concern for the One”, I’ve written multiple times about the piccolos needing to accept the oboes and kazoos as the primary responsibility in any discussion of member retention (so I agree completely with what I believe you are saying) . . . but the oboes and kazoos also have a responsibility to find a counter-melody that isn’t going to make the piccolos try to drown them out completely – or break their instruments so they can’t play at all.

  110. Mommie Dearest says:

    If mutuality and fellowship are the markers for social capital, then I’m a total loser. I used to believe I could have normal social capital at church in spite of anomalies like marrying a gentile and having half-gentile kids, if I served diligently and never bothered my bishop or RS pres with needs, or said no to a calling, and kept my superior opinions to a minimum. [1] All that got me was a full-blown cynicism that’s harder to manage as I get older. Good thing they serve the sacrament every Sunday. I’m quite popular in the callings/service department because I am competent and willing. I have lived in the same ward for nearly 20 years, and appear to fit in as an old-timer on the surface, but in those years I have had 2 women who were truly my intimate friends and zero men. [2] The rest of my truly intimate friends are not church members.

    [1] Aw c’mon. We all think our own opinions don’t stink.
    [2] There are a couple of men, however, that I know I could absolutely trust on the rare occasion when I need male-only priesthood stuff.

  111. I still find it weird when I see people refer to non-LDS folks as “gentiles,” I never hear it at church, I sometimes see it online and in older LDS books. Still strikes me as odd. To me it seems old school, to me.

  112. glass ceiling says:

    I agree with you. Still , I didn’t know my words were so off the subject, or even that the original subject was/or needed to be so narrow.

    I suppose, though, that the ideal you speak of is much more accessable than anyone wants to admit. There appears to be a lot more cynicism in the Church than there used to be. It is disturbing. And yet, I know I am more cynical with regard to the Church than I used to be. La-dee-dum.

    In theory, that is what is so great about blogs such as thus one. We have the potential to bring the ideal and the reality into the same room for discussion.

    And yet we still can’t help ourselves ….

  113. I’ve lived in six wards [1] during my adult life. In each but my present ward I was asked to teach Gospel Doctrine or Relief Society within about a week of moving in. I apparently ooze whatever it takes to establish social capital real fast, and I’ve always been able to say outrageously liberal things in my lessons [2] without getting people all riled up. In fact, they like it, not realizing how liberal it is, and all. So I’ve been in my present ward for over three years, and until now there were only five or six people who would smile at me and hold more than a two-sentence conversation. The Relief Society president finally smiled at me six months ago. But within the last two months the whole ward has become nice to me. I now get to engage in real conversations rather than having people look into my eyes and turn away without acknowledgement. Some people actually initiate a conversation. I’m doing some substitute teaching for GD and RS. One of the women in the ward hugged me last week and said she hoped I would never move away from the ward because I’m so valuable to them. (??) It’s been quite a slog. I volunteered for some difficult assignments, I did my VT and HT, I smiled, I made wise and interesting comments in classes [3], but… nada until the switch flipped after three years.

    Social capital matters, all right. I’ve never been invisible before [4], and it was no fun. I have lots of speculations but no definitive evidence about why this happened. I behaved the same here [5] as when I joined other wards. Many people have moved into the ward since I’ve been here, and most of them have been treated warmly. OTOH, I’ve met quite a few nice long-term ward members who tell me they’ve always felt out of place here.

    The silver lining was that I got to see whether I loved these people who were treating me so poorly. They did sort of feel like enemies.


    [1] Offhand count. It may be seven or eight. I’m quite old. :0
    [2] I go slow, though. No hand grenades without a nice long warmup. ;)
    [3] :)
    [4] Except early on in my profession, when my field was overwhelmingly inhabited by very, very sexist men [4′]. :(
    [4′] Well, actually I was visible, but only for visible reasons. :/
    [5] That is, authentically (what would be a good emoticon here?)
    [6] It’s quite fun to use footnotes in place of parenthetical comments or just regular text. :)

  114. glass ceiling says:

    We still have to sock it to eachother over stupidities. Ah, blissful cyber-anonymity….

  115. Mommie Dearest says:

    Sorry BHodges. It’s an easy shorthand term for something that counts big time in the calculation of social capital in your ward.

  116. No prob, Mommie Dearest, I just think it’s weird and alienating a bit. No doubt a gentile would think the same!

  117. Peter LLC says:

    I’ve used “gentile” ever since reading The Great Brain as an impressionable youth.

  118. Steve Evans says:

    Man, I loved those books.

  119. The Great Brain….they were the very best stories. Ever.

  120. My 6th grade teacher read them to us in class. Best use of class time in the history of school.

  121. Female specific way of totally torpedoing social capital: introduce yourself with a different last name than your spouse [1].

    [1] One of the benefits I’ve found to having an inactive spouse is that I no longer have to worry about this. My daughter gets a little confused when they use my last name instead of her last name, but she’ll figure it out :)

  122. She pronounced gentile “genteel.” Perfect.

  123. Yeah, in Utah at least that’s a sure-fire way to get branded a radical, Kristine N. Or even using your maiden name in combination with your married name. I was surprised once when my uncle, who is a judge, described a woman who hyphenated her last name as an extremist. When I asked him why he thought that she was so extreme, he looked at me like I was crazy and said, “She hyphenates her name!”

  124. Silus Grok says:

    Benjamin [#71]: I would love to see both letters! Post, post, post!

  125. Silus Grok says:

    MCQ: This is pure gold:

    [#106] “Wow. I sure don’t understand how building social capital is equivalent to being in junior high. It’s not about conformity, it’s about putting in the time showing that you are an asset to the community and care about the other people in it before you expect people to salute when you let your freak flag fly. It’s important to remember that no one is saved alone. We have families and wards for a reason.”

  126. When we got kicked out because we were living on the wrong side of the street, the bishop of the ward we had thought we were in called the bishop of the ward we were “supposed” to be in [1], who came over the very next week, telling us that our membership had already been read into the ward. [2] I made the mistake of telling him we were “high maintenance”. On the surface, I did that because I was frustrated about all of the things wrong with our place that our landlord/manager wasn’t interested in fixing. Upon further thought, I realized that I simply wanted the new ward to leave us alone. Which they did. In spite of promises to the contrary, it took 4 or 5 weeks for us to get a ride to church. I did not help by reminding/nagging. I was tired of the New Ward game [3]

    I don’t know if this torpedoes anyone, but I feel it does: I was married a second time, and divorced. I would have taken back my first married name, but that particular judge doesn’t like me and I didn’t want to take the chance at being yelled at again, so I went back to my maiden name. Now, my last name doesn’t match my kids, and I feel I have to explain about two divorces. ZZZZZZinnnggg!

    What I really want right now is to be left alone. I don’t care if they like me. I don’t care if I go to activities, or even to church. It is a large ward, so I hope to be able to be anonymous. I want to go back to the ward I lived in over a year ago, but I hear that it isn’t the same as it was.[4]

    [1] we don’t have a car – we can walk to the first ward’s building, but not the second ward’s building – okay, I’ll face it, I’m too lazy to walk nearly an hour to church, especially when the temperature reaches over a hundred degrees.

    [2] I’ve never experienced a membership move that was so fast! :)

    [3] Just over 13 months ago, we moved into a new ward. Then 3 months ago, we moved into the ward we thought we were supposed to be in (so did the bishop – it was the home teacher, who came over once [3a], eyed the place and immediately told the bishop – early – the following Sunday we did not belong in the ward).

    [3a] – not to give a lesson. I forget exactly why he said he was there.

    [4] End of pity party.

  127. #106, #125: What Silus said.

  128. This sounds confusing: “I did not help by reminding/nagging.” To be more explicit, “I refused to remind or nag them. Thus I did not help them remember that they had offered me rides to church.”

  129. We had a family move into the Ward about six months ago. The Priesthood leaders advertised helping them move in for two weeks. Got a pretty big crowd, I heard. (I was out of town) . The next week they got a bunch of come over and help them put up a fence. And you know what? You guess it, they have yet to show up to Church!

    Now that’s Chutzpah!

  130. Oh, and Ray did it to me the first time I posted here!

  131. Toni [1], you should change back. You can contribute much more to the ward that is actually accessible to you.

    [1] If that’s even your real name[2].

    [2] Not that I doubt your honesty in nomenclature, I was just too lazy to come up with a better way to use a footnote.:D

  132. Trust me on this – do not challenge the teacher about pornography leading to serial killing until you have some social capital [1].

    [1] Especially if you’re a guy in a singles ward

  133. or you’ll never gain the respect and admiration of your elder’s quorum…¹

    I think the key to this is understanding what was meant by ” admiration of your elder’s quorum.” If one were to interpret this as say, “admiration from a potential new friend,” then the whole tone of the author’s work changes. I guess to some of us it just came off the wrong way at first- as if a person had something to gain from “impressing” a church unit. Elder’s Quorum’s are still full of individual’s though. For me, a change of viewpoint was in order: from

    @112: I also agree that there is more cynicism than there used to be.²

    To stay with the original intent of this post, may I discuss… The Crowdpleaser.

    The Crowdpleasers seem to hit it off with a bang. Little do they know that their short-lived popularity will end soon enough. It it only a matter of time until the Crowdpleaser realizes that the popularity gained was with the wrong crowd. Be it with whatever stereotype or awesome people they are, Crowdpleasers see they were at first well received in one small clique, but have excluded themselves from an opportunity for sustained social capital growth among other more/less (_____)³ individuals and friends.⁴ ∴, Start out slow to avoid a costly mistake of being branded as whatever through peer association.

    ¹ See O.P.
    ² I don’t think this can’t be entirely blamed on the church though.☻
    ³ Enter preferred adjective here
    ⁴ This is not to say that we should not make friends with everyone. Rather, some friendships will develop better if we know more about who is in the room before we ___.³

  134. Toni, what state do you live in?

  135. Steve Evans says:

    Josh B., as the author, let me reassure you that the phrase “respect and admiration of your elder’s quorum” was meant tongue-in-cheek. Who cares about the admiration of the EQ. Rather, it’s more about the facilitating of community-building and developing trust relationships. Those who are more familiar with my style of authorship would probably have understood the meaning from the get-go.

  136. Recently moved from a ward where showing up was capital to an established little-slice-of-Zion outside of Utah ward. I enjoy serving and wanted to up my social capital moving in, so I shaved my beard prior to attending the first time. My wife and I met with the bishop on the third week there and on the fifth week, they released him and called a new bishop. The whole ward was reorganized and neither I nor my wife got a calling and we continued to be invisible. About 3 months in, a counselor came and asked us to speak, surely our amazing talks would earn us capital. [1] Nope. We finally got callings in the 5th month as co-teaching sunday school preteens. After about 4 months, I asked the EQ president if they had a home-teaching assignment for me–his reply was that they just didn’t have enough to assign everyone a route.[2] Now 7 months have gone by and we know barely anyone in the ward. We attend on a regular basis and talk to people, but perhaps the ward is just too tight-knit to fit us in yet. Needless to say, I’ve since regrown the beard and am seriously contemplating going to church in a colored shirt and without my suit coat. [3]
    [1] Assigned a conference talk, I boldly took it on a tangent far afield from the original talk.
    [2] Not even kidding.
    [3] Totally kidding–I’d never go to church without my coat.

  137. Benjamin says:

    #136, Bambi,

    ” I asked the EQ president if they had a home-teaching assignment for me–his reply was that they just didn’t have enough to assign everyone a route.”

    Having degrees in mathematical fields, I can’t comprehend how anyone could ever reach such a ridiculous conclusion. Maybe your problem is that your ward is full of simpletons.

  138. Obviously, his ward is entirely active, has a ton of young men, and has some households where several men are married to just one woman.[1]

    [1] Or maybe his EQ President thinks that a route needs more than just one family. Which would indeed make him a simpleton.

  139. Kristine says:

    [1] Claudia Bushman doesn’t knit. It’s needlepoint.

  140. Steve Evans says:

    pretty sure I saw knitting needles. But I am not the master of the craft [1]

    [1] just kidding, I TOTALLY am a master of the craft.

  141. I would never torpedo myself.


  142. Steve Evans says:


  143. How about wearing pants to Relief Society? I’ve found it depends on the ward.

  144. I’m amazed at the use of footnotes in the comments on this thread.
    Carry on.

  145. I remember a few years back attending a ward for the first time when, in Elders Quorum, someone made an anti-foreigner remark that was too much for me to be able to bite my tongue (I tried, and I’m not one to normally speak out among strangers). As diplomatically as I could, I said that I couldn’t imagine Jesus saying such thing.

    The response — nothing. But the EQ president came up to me afterward and thanked me for my comment.

    I’ve never been the stereotypical LDS guy. [1] But at least in the wards I’ve been in, I’ve found that doesn’t matter. I “pay my dues” in regular attendance, helping out when I can and even doing my home-teaching. If people think I’m something less than a real Mormon, they’ve never said so to my face. I’ve had visible callings and have been asked frequently to go on splits with the missionaries. With a few exceptions of some incidents involving my kids [2], I haven’t experienced the judgmentalism I read about regularly in the bloggernacle.

    I’ll be moving into a new ward soon in a more conservative part of the country, and I don’t know what it will be like. But I still think I’ll be better off being my genuine self and granting others the same privilege than to try being something I’m not.

    [1] I have facial hair and wear a white shirt only to the temple, for example, and I don’t vote Republican.

    [2] Some people think boys should have missionary haircuts to be involved with the Sacrament, for example.

  146. I think you do need to worry about social capital at least a little bit. MCQ is right. Its a part of life. Its not like this is unique to the LDS world. Its a humanity wide issue. Youn use social capital in your career, with your kids, at the local school etc. People without social capital struggle a bit with lots of things.

  147. @bbell

    I can see where you’re coming from [1] but I honestly can’t say that you have much social capital for this thread[2].

    [1] Perhaps you can raise your social capital through the judicious use of footnotes.
    [2] Better luck next time:)

  148. #75 [1] I’ve done the same thing- laid low and ‘invested’ in my social capital bank. I lamet the fact that in doing so, we are creating a homoginized ‘vanilla’ community of inaction. The natural leaders are marginalized instead of utilized. I pray I have the courage in the future to stand up like Eric [2] did to a ‘richer’ [3] more prominent ward personality spewing false doctrine. Can I let go of so much [4]? Perhaps this too is what Jesus said on various occasions about the rich entering heaven [5].

    Time for fun with footnotes . . .
    [1] ‘Living in Zion’
    [2] #145
    [3] *in social capital
    [4] social capital
    [5] again, rich in social capital. Beating the point to death in order to chalk up footnotes and use an emoticon ; )

  149. I find you can win just about anybody over if you bake the right kind of cookies and have a boat.

  150. Another torpedo tactic for women or men . . .

    Call the RS to repentence [1] for reading romance novels and mention that we have a double standard if we tell the men and youth not to view and porn and unchaste materials, then turn a blind eye to the bodice rippers read by by many RS sisters.

    [1] Or simply mention that you don’t care for this genre and aren’t interested in promoting it in book club.

  151. Who are these people? says:

    With regard to over-entitled Mormons: In the past week, our bishop has received the following requests:

    1) “My son’s moving out to your area for college. Instead of him taking a cab, an airport shuttle or the train that goes directly to campus, can someone pick him up at the airport at 6 AM?”

    2) “Hi. We signed a lease to move into an adjacent ward a month after we’re moving to your city. Please find us an apartment to live in for a month.”

    3) “We’re moving in to your ward in two weeks and haven’t found an apartment yet. Please find one for us.”

    4) “Hi. We’re moving into the area in a month. We haven’t started looking for an apartment yet. Can you help us find one for [insert number that is $200 less than any apartment I’ve ever seen in our neighborhood]?”

    A couple years ago, a lady visiting from Utah called our bishop and asked if someone could bring her food because she was too terrified to leave her hotel in the scary-scary neighborhood where most of the members of our ward live.

  152. Unless your Bishop has a problem with the word “no” I don’t see any problem with the questions in 151. If that’s too harsh, maybe the Bishop can say “I’ll send your request along to the HPG, EQ and RS and if we get a response I”ll let you know but don’t stop your own search. And, welcome to the ward. We look forward to getting to know you provided you’re willing to build up some street cred with us.”

    For most of those kinds of requests the Bishop is just a proxy for the ward at large and the institutional knowledge base that comes from serving high maintenance members in financially strapped circumstances within a confined geographical area. It is not at all uncommon for an engaged Bishop, EQP, RS pres. or HPGL to be familiar with temporary and/or low cost housing options within a ward boundary. In fact I, for one, would be surprised if the Bishop wouldn’t be aware of some options off the top of his head. Such is the nature of the type of requests Church leaders are regularly bombarded with from members within an average ward.

    We live near our ward and stake boundaries and when I’m asked to help find a new apartment or room for rent for a high maintenance, financially strapped member or family you can bet I don’t confine my search to our ward or stake boundaries. I feel like I owe the adjoining stake an apology but I have found my methods only provide temporary relief as someone in the neighboring stake has the same approach and sends a lot of the same cases and occasionally the same person back our way. One day I hope to find my nemesis in that stake and confront him or her.

    I bet the lady from Utah who asked for food to be delivered to her hotel room is the mother of the kid who wants to be picked up from the airport at 6:00 am b/c public transportation is also very scary, especially at 6:00 am when all the criminals are just waking up.

  153. TStevens says:

    You just need to move to a really small ward (1), you can get away with anything (2) if you just show up (3). We are so desperate that college kids home for the summer or temporary ward members get a calling (4). You get to speak in church at least twice a year, more if you want too (5) It is just about impossible to lose social capitol in a little ward

    1 Down to about 50 people a week. My three oldest boys are the YM Program

    2 Speaking with large ward relative about how my oldest and I blessed the Sacrament last week in matching Yellow shirts. He asked how that was possible (see 1)

    3 Even that isn’t required as my Bishop only attends 50% of the time and the last time young couple with a kid moved in we made him EQP. It took a few months before we accepted that he was totally less active and had been for years (though he did attend for the first two weeks)

    4 Mostly called as teachers or counselors. I once called a kid as a 2C in EQ for the nine weeks he was going to be in town.

    5 I just constantly thinking of a good talk subject and when I have something ready I tell the Bishopric member I am good to go and he schedules me in – about three times a year on average.

  154. How does one measure social capital in a ward? Callings? How many people are willing to speak to them on Sunday? How many friends they have in the ward?

  155. Barefoot Mike says:

    I agree with most of what TS said in #153, as I have experienced the same in what most seem like a huge ward of 90 sacrament meeting attending members. Except our bishopric makes it difficult for one long-term member who is visibly different than most (long hair, full beard, colored shirts, adopted kids, reader of Sunstone). Even though he is a kind man, hard-working, full of charity, and sincerely believes in the gospel, they won’t let him teach or have a high-profile calling because of his outward appearance and open mind. And now they want to bar him and his oldest son from passing the sacrament because they show up late sometimes. I usually don’t say much in bishopric/PEC/ward council, but that last issue really struck a nerve and I let them know how much they are hurting him. But I’m afraid it fell upon deaf ears . . .sigh.

  156. Steve Evans says:

    “bar him and his oldest son from passing the sacrament because they show up late sometimes.”

    There’s doubtlessly more to the story.

  157. Like Marie said, how do you measure social capital? I think I am or was the designated ward pariah until this other person moved in (1) who believes in the second coming of Romney and verbalizes it to whomever will give an ear.
    I think my ward overall is pretty good when it comes to love and sharing regardless of socio-economics, foot-in-mouth, etc. Even the ones I mentioned earlier (2) are actually good people who I think were just intimidated and wanted to est. their own cred. Maybe?

    1. #74 (haircut man)
    2. #74 (Celine Dion couple with multiple masters degrees, etc.)

  158. Ron, the week after no one showed up to give us a ride [1], my oldest daughter and I went to our old ward. The home teacher gave us a strange look, seemed undecided as to whether he should come over, but left the room instead. My suspicion is that he tattled to the bishop [2] because we got a visit from the RS pres [3] a few days later. This promise of a ride didn’t pan out either. [4] But now you’ve got me thinking I should visit that ward, just to see what the old home teacher will do. :D

    I don’t think they would let us change back.
    Toni [5]

    [1]The first time.

    [2] Even though we had already shaken hands with the bishop before church.

    [3] Of the new ward.

    [4] But she called the following Sunday and apologized muchly.

    [5] Yep, that’s my name. Unique way of figuring out how to make a footnote. :)

    So, do partial sentences/sentence fragments count as real footnotes?

  159. Joseph (#132) LOL Love it!

    Josh (#133) – You put in nice, proper footnote numbers. No fair.

    Zefram (#134) – AZ, but that’s all I’m saying. I really don’t hold grudges against these people, and I don’t want them embarrassed on the web.

  160. Marie (#154)
    By how many people speak to you, notice you, complain about you. [1]

    [1] Two men in one ward I was in were so outspoken about whatever floated their boats that we were not supposed to ask them to substitute teach Sunday School. I found this out after I had asked one of them to teach Gospel Essentials when I was going to be out of town.

  161. May I introduce… The Expert?*

    By introducing yourself as a self-professed field expert, you are automatically compartmentalized by the individuals around you.† Right off the bat, the expert is assumed by most as overqualified for holding the building’s A/V calling. There may be many in the ward who wonder about why the expert might have such pasty white skin, but as most uber-intelligent‡ individuals have a certain academial smell to them,§ their mannerisms will surely remind the ward of not-so-blessed college days.|| If a nerd exposes themselves too soon, most members of the ward will become nervous to challenge your more liberal comments, assume there is something wrong with your social skills,¶ or be just plain scared to get in your way.¶

    To gain social capital, better to surprise with well-placed comments that encourage thought, rather than to let others think its all just due to grad school.

    * There are two types of nerds: those who can gain social capital, and those who can not. Both have equal skill in their profession.
    † Need not apply if you live in Microsoft Alley.
    ‡ Pseudo-intelligent may also be substituted here.
    § Typically manifest by some quirky lack of social skills.
    || Blessed college parties should probably not be recalled during church. ☺
    ¶ Might sound great at first, but it’s lonely at the top.

  162. X out nerd. I meant expert.

  163. Steve, Kind of you to mention me in footnote 1. It is true that I have on occasion expressed a sentiment about reputation at church that is similar in ways to your post. But to set the record straight, I quickly scanned my T&S guest posts (oh, the memories!) and didn’t find anything on this. It could have been a comment of mine on someone else’s blog post. However, as I’m an infrequent commenter on blog posts, it’s more likely that someone else deserves credit for sparking your creative juices.

  164. I wouldn’t be too quick to judge the new move-ins who seem “entitled.”

    Some of them are just people who don’t know how to communicate very well. For instance, a person who merely wants people to keep their eyes open if some likely apartment DOES happen to be available may not communicate their casual intent very well and it may come off sounding like a demand – even if they didn’t mean it that way.

  165. Steve Evans says:

    Seth, no question it’s a bad thing to quickly judge people. This post isn’t meant to delve into the good or bad nature of such judgments, merely to accept them as a reality and to suggest advice for navigating around them.

  166. Steve Evans says:

    Mike, you are no hound for credit, but believe me when I say that you’re the meaning in my life; you’re the inspiration.
    You bring feeling to my life; you’re the inspiration. Wanna have you near me, Mike — I wanna have you hear me sayin’, “No one needs you more than I need you.”

  167. TaterTot says:

    Totally agree with #55 and #19. Who cares what they think? I think we should be ourselves regardless of the audience.

  168. “I think we should be ourselves regardless of the audience.”

    I agree, but what’s wrong with trying to be our best selves – which can be different depending on the audience?

    Paul wrote about not eating meat if doing do would cause offense, so maybe acting the exact same way regardless of the audience and demanding others accept us no matter how offensive we might be acting isn’t exactly the ideal.

  169. Some people suck.

    For those people, the advice to “be yourself” is probably the worst advice you could give them.

  170. Not only that, but communication is two-way. It is arrogance to throw out your statement to the world and expect the world to understand it.

  171. Um, Steve, you are a “cool kid”? Where? I dont think BCC or KB counts in anything outside the Boogernacle.

    Social capital is highly overrated. Reputations are sometimes deserved, sometimes not. Socipoathic? No, not at all, Steve. Tongue in cheek perhaps, but there are plenty of people who burn their capital by doing the right thing, and buck bad systems for all the right reasons, and accomplish a greater good by doing that. That doesnt make them sociopaths. Iconoclastic perhaps.

  172. Steve Evans says:

    ED, that’s a courageous path, no doubt. But as you might have surmised, I’m not about the courageous path.

  173. Benjamin says:

    Silus (#124) I couldn’t share with you the first letter…I have no idea where it is and suspect it fell victim to the death of my use of Outlook for e-mail. The more recent letter is here. Sorry it took so long for me to post, but I hadn’t yet been able to officially turn the stake down. They still haven’t seen this letter, but I imagine it will come up with they come to release me from my current calling and try to persuade me to reconsider.

  174. Great Letter Benjamin 173.[1]

    [1] A discussion of that letter however, would be a total threadjack. I would totally love to see it get it’s own post here at BCC.

  175. Benjamin says:

    Not only would it be a threadjack[1], but it would get completely ignored given the more interesting discussion about the Monday Morning Poll–which is probably best for my self-esteem anyway [3].

    [1] and thereby compounding my social capital debt here
    [2] receiving public scrutiny isn’t what I would call one of my talents.

  176. maybe someone else [1] will write the post on scouting and the church then.

    [1] such as Steve Evans [2].

    [2] It’s only fitting after all that the poster child from the Citizenship in the Church write that article.

  177. This is my first reading on this site – and I’m amazed at the sarcasm and cynicism throughout, (trying to be disguised as wit). I guess I will just never be “one of you”. So – are you all attending your three hour block to build social capital – or are perhaps some of you there to worship Our Heavenly Father and His Son? I hope you’re there to love and seek ways to serve your weird ward members…sorry for the criticism. You won’t see me here again.

  178. Stephanie says:

    I think the correct answer is “wry”.

  179. this is an interesting post. Certainly we dont NEED social capital in our wards, but if we want to help influence other fellow members, or be more effective in our callings, I think it certainly helps.

    I struggle with some of these, since I’ve worked as a Democratic political consultant. I was wary of bringing it up at church, but its hard to avoid..

    “Welcome to the branch! what do you do?”
    “er, I work in politics”
    “oh yeah, where? For who?”
    “uh…in Indiana.”
    “…Democrat or Republican?”
    “…guess I’m banished to the nursery now, huh?”

    For what its worth, I go to church in Chicago, and bless and pass the sacrament in a blue (and sometimes purple!) shirt all the time, and nobody has said anything to me.

  180. After almost a year’s worth of growing his hair out [1], my husband cut his hair into a mohawk a few weeks ago. He wore his new look to church in all it’s liberty-spiked glory. We got a handful of glares and stink-eyes, but for the most part our ward was completely awesome about it. I was surprised to find that so many of the middle-aged and elderly people came up and talked to us excitedly about it. It was the people our own age [2] who seemed shocked or annoyed. Last week was his turn to get the baby ready for church [3] so he wore his hair flat, which is also nice–a sort of glorious euro-mullet. Our favorite older brother [4] stopped me in the hall to tell me he was disappointed that the spikes were gone. Made me smile. :D

    This post and comments have really got me thinking about this whole social capital idea. I realize that I have unknowingly torpedoed myself in the past. So, thanks to those whose posts pointed out my folly, won’t make those mistakes again. I also realized that we must have some social capital in our ward. This little mohawk experience may have gone differently if he had done it two years ago when we first moved in. Still, in this respect, I think our ward is pretty great.

    [1] It started for a Halloween costume and then just kept going. [1a]
    [1a] He wants to live in the glory of long hair before he loses it. :)
    [2] around 30
    [3] which meant less time for getting himself ready, liberty spikes take a while to do well
    [4] we greet and talk to him every week and don’t know his name. It’s been so long that we feel like we can’t ask now.

  181. @ #11 Remaining Anonymous,

    You wouldn’t happen to be in the SC2 ward, would you? I’m pretty sure I heard that same talk.

  182. Women or men with a home-based business, even if you don’t market to members….

  183. Having anything to do with selling make-up, kitchen supplies/utensils, or any type of accessory kills the idea of friendship for me too.

  184. NewlyHousewife,

    I have never been more glad that my sells Pampered Chef!

  185. “…my wife…”

  186. WraithOfBlake says:

    Things sometimes get sticky when certain attitudes which you think of as inseparable from your very self are consistent with the letter of the law but somehow at odds with the attitudes that your family and community are clearly trying to pass on to you. For example, your militantly nationalistic feelings might run up against a tradition of quietism and moderation which strikes you as craven; perhaps your egalitarian tendencies will be frustrated by an unambiguously hierarchical traditional society; your interest in science is liable to be curtailed by a strong focus on limud torah ; your exceptional artistic abilities could be discouraged as frivolous; your focus on textual and historical aspects of gemara might put you outside the pale of usual yeshivish discourse; your free-wheeling individualistic spirituality is likely to be constricted by a tradition of discipline and conformity; your wanderlust will be frustrated by the demand to settle down and assume traditional responsibilities.

    Let me be absolutely clear: where the demands of halakhah are unambiguous, you must submit to them. But how does one navigate between much less well-defined traditional attitudes and strong personal inclinations? When I was your age I didn’t know the answer (I still don’t) but one proposition that seemed self-evident to me at the time was that it was essential to be consistent. …

    —-Avi Haben

  187. WraithOfBlake says:

    [Or not.]

    … In other words, I felt that I had to somehow make sure that the way
    I defined Yiddishkeit and the way I defined my commitments given my own inclinations
    would be perfectly aligned.

    I’m now convinced that that commitment to consistency was utterly wrong-headed and is the
    key to all that is wrong with institutional Yiddishkeit. I shouldn’t have been defining either
    Yiddishkeit or my commitments at all. To do so is to reduce Yiddishkeit to ideology which is
    exactly what it is not.

    Because educational institutions are set up more to impart book knowledge and packaged
    formulations than hard-to-define attitudes, they are always driven in the direction of ideology.
    Herein lies their failure. Neither haredi nor modern Orthodox institutions have succeeded in
    imparting, or even sustaining, the normal heimish Yiddishkeit, full of the humor, creativity
    and authentic yiras shamayim that simple Jews have lived naturally in communities around
    the world for thousands of years. To put it another way, ordinary, knowledgeable, committed
    Jews have customarily spoken the language of Yiddishkeit as a first language – fluently and
    unself-consciously. Institutions have taught students to speak the language of Yiddishkeit as a
    second language – awkwardly constrained by poorly internalized rules of grammar.
    The ideologues who ran the yeshivish institutions I knew tried to inculcate a set of ideological
    commitments so comprehensive and intense as to suffocate an individ ual’s personality. One
    result of this was a kind of cynicism…..


  188. Footnote 1:

    One person’s torpedo might be another person’s lifeboat. (a)

    a. As a second time EQP I immediately cancelled the moving committee. Late one Sat night this new dude called me and said he needed help moving in, right then. I told him our ward didn’t do moves, we did laundry instead. I asked him if he was married and had a gorgeous wife with interesting lingerie??? He begged that she was pregnant and he thought he could carry that family heirloom couch up the stairs alone but had hurt his back and the return of the rental truck was over due. I suggested his neighbors might help and he said they were shooting at each other.

    b. So I made him promise not to tell anyone and I would sneak over and help him just this once. But any food storage was on him. At church I introduced the new dude to another of the ward tricksters, Tim who wore red suspenders, a fake moustache and a top hat, as the Bishop. Tim volunteered to say the opening prayer and so he was sitting up there right next to the conventional Bishop the entire meeting.

    c. Said dude told me later that he was inactive and actually hostile to the church when he moved in because of the prissy way everyone treated him. He was a bit unconventional; beard, multi-colored shirts, journalist, somewhat left of E.T. Benson politically, no mission. His wife was beautiful and amusing; wore vampire teeth and a wig to hide her purple hair, first child born before she met her husband, did wear unusual lingerie. He only called me to abuse the church moving committee when in a difficult position, with no intention of ever showing up for a meeting. But when Tim and I got through with him, he felt like he could easily fit into our ward and be positively normal. He became a pillar and eventually held responsible leadership positions. I hope I didn’t run off too many conventional members with lots of social capital.

    Footnote 2:

    a. Toni: Consider a different perspective. You can go to church anywhere you want. Ignore those few who do not welcome you. It is the responsibility of the clerks that the records match the reality of who actually attends. If they have your records in a ward where you choose to not attend that is their problem, not yours. Theirs! We all go along with assigned ward boundaries generally to make life less difficult for the clerks. But your set of challenges clearly justify the minor inconvenience to a clerk and those who can not see this are blind and in need of repentance.

    b. During a recent unwelcome ward split the Stake President reviewed the process of getting your membership moved to another ward. He mentioned letters from the original Bishop, original Stake President, new Bishop, and new Stake President. Finally, these would all be sent to the office of the First Presidency for approval. He told us that he personally was not going to be sending any such letters to Salt lake, hint hint. I asked, if it was that difficult to change wards, then what would it take to change churches? Answer: Nothing. More than half already have, maybe 80%.

    Footnote 3:

    a. Somewhere above is mentioned the fireball ward leader who threatened to clip the long hair of some of the young men. I welcome him to my ward. My son has the most beautiful long curly blond Afro that spills down onto his shoulders and has not been cut in 5 years. He is over 6 ft tall, quick as a mountain lion and strong as a bear. The last time someone at church tried to set him straight, it didn’t go as planned. He was told that sandals were not allowed at Wed night YM/YW. He swiftly hopped out of the sandals and stuffed them down the front of the pants of the preachy white-shirt. I would hate to see that set of electric clippers in a similar position. Actually, I would.

    Footnote 4:

    It seems that I might have enough negative social capital (social debt?) to have been kicked off of this blog. I did not receive any formal notification but my computer at work won’t let me submit anything. So I am reduced to using my kid’s computer. All comments above can be safely ignored since I don’t have any social capital.

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