Babylon or Zion? (part 1)

Growing up an innocent toe-head in Northern Utah, I (naively) assumed that everyone went to the same church as me on Sundays.  We all just "went to church."  When Dave Johnson asked me--in the 2nd Grade, mind you--what Church I went to, "Lutheran or Mormon?" I remember thinking Lutheran sounds cooler, "Lutheran."

Dave's response?  "Huh.  Cool."

That was that.  Dave and I continued on with our puzzle (it was a She-Ra / He-Man crossover puzzle, for what it's worth). 

Life was fine.

It was only later that my Mother found out my answer and informed me that I was definitely Mormon. 

This didn't really come as news to me, as I recognized the name.  I just figured that Lutherans liked Luther more than Mormon.*  No big deal; I had bugs to catch or castles to build.

Nowadays, my innocence is gone.  How you answer the question of religion--"You Mormon? You Christian? You Muslim? You Atheist?"--apparently pigeonholes you into something you might not be. Look, I get pigeonholing; I grew up in Utah, where everyone thinks polygamy still thrives (it doesn't) and dancing is outlawed (damn you, Footloose!).  And it's not just from the outside "gentile" population; many Salt Lake City folk will treat you well until they find out you belong to "That Church" or that you're a "blind sheep," or "close-minded," or some such pejorative term.**  Then you get condescending or patronizing stares that simply ooze "Oh, you poor, poor village idiot.  I'd talk to you in my grown up voice, but I worry you wouldn't understand me." 

Pigeonholing pisses me off, though.  When I get those condescending stares, I try to glare back with my "I'd talk to you too if you weren't so convinced that your own world-view was superior to my own, hedonistic hypocrite!" glare.  Judging someone largely on your broad, superficial, and usually wikipedia-based knowledge of their beliefs is like attempting to paint over a Van Gogh rather than appreciating it.

That said, however, some of the finest, most decent people I've ever met in my life were Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, and Bhuddist.  These are still some of my closest friends.  And, in general, we all maintain a healthy respect for each other regarding our spiritual and ideological beliefs.***  

All of this serves as a backdrop to my confessional. 

I belt "Ki-Yi" for the University of Utah.


I also rise and shout for the Cougars of BYU.

Go ahead, gasp.  In college football terms, I keep one foot in Zion and one in Babylon.  The ultimate sacrilege.  That which is worthy of a spewing out by the three-headed deity of JoePaBoBear.

If this were Sodom & Gomorrah, I'd be a two-hundred pound pillar of salt by now.

I think a lot of my friends see me as a fair weather fan.  Or truly a Utah fan or truly a Cougar fan, underneath that smutty veneer of the "other team." 

I understand, though, that being able to entertain ideas that are at odds with each other is a sign of psychological health.  I suppose the same could be said of teams.  At least, that's how I'd like to justify it.  But that's for another day.

Part 2: Will explore the deeper meaning of "The Holy War", why it's ridiculous, and why I love both teams but hate what they're doing right now. 


*Which is, I suppose, true.

** I think I might have sussed out the difference between "open-minded" and "close-minded" people.  Seems to me that neither group can tolerate the other, where one openly embraces its label and the other remains blissfully ignorant of its own.

***Yes, most of my friends are probably LDS.  Part of that is demographics, part of it is self-selection.  I see the same group of people every nearly every Sunday, and we are working towards several common goals, not least of which is community building.  We try to watch out for and take care of each other (some more than others, and some more judgmentally than others. Sigh.).  When it works, it's inspiring.  It doesn't always work well, and as in life, there are road bumps. No matter the outcome, though, you tend to forge fast friendships and long-term relationships.


Jerkolas said...

While such a contradictory lifestyle is confusing, it can be partially alleviated by the answer to the following question: Which team do you cheer for when they play each other? The awesome and acclaim-earning and rewarded ones dressed in red or the sneaky, but not sneaky enough, conference destroying ones dressed in blue?

Gary said...

I've never known what to make of purples. If your answer to the question in the first comment is "whoever's winning" or "whoever's having a better season" then you will forever be esoteric, from my point of view.

April Celeste Garff said...

This was the best blog post I've read in a long time! There's a lot of pigeonholing and open/close-mindedness going on here and in Utah due to the trial of Prop 8 and I enjoyed your view and childhood memories. I really liked where this post was going until you mentioned "the other team". I'd give you some line about how man "cannot serve two masters" but honestly, organized sports don't really matter to me. Guess if anyone has an excuse to cheer for both sides, it's you. At least you went to school there. I'd love to hear who you root for during "The Holy War", or does that depend on who's doing better that season?

Kenny said...

"Group identity" is something I've never been very good at--which has proven both a blessing and a burden at various points in my life, but either way I don't really grok sports rivalries.

However, this is kind of relevant.

Andrew said...

I'm interested to read "Part 2."