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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The REAL World: From College Presidents to Welfare Dependents

" . . . I lived in the real world for 30 years, enough to know I'm not in it now."
The quote above is from Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight novels and a great deal more. Her fame and wealth have eclipsed (pun intended) a lot of us. But, for years she was a normal person and a normal Mormon.

Peculiarities of our manner and mode of worship ensures that just about all Mormons are pretty down to earth and firmly implanted "in the real world."

As Mormons we are assigned to a local congregation on the basis of geography. In the Mormon Corridor this sometimes means that our congregation is no more that a few streets beyond our own. Even Mormon Corridor Mormons end up interacting with those in their "stake" which is a collection of congregations and always has a diverse cross-section of people. Further out it means we sometimes attend weekly services with college presidents as well as welfare dependents. I've gone to Church with members of the Osmond family and those just scraping by financially.

Constant exposure to a wide variety of people insures we experience people across the socio-economic spectrum. This keeps us grounded.

When I was a Ph.D. student, a lively discussion occurred in one of my classes concerning how we all had entered the elite and could no longer consider ourselves ordinary Americans. We discussed how this could lead to flaws in our examining American people, culture, government, etc. because our lives were far removed from the "ordinary.

I could understand what my fellow Ph.D's feared and had to acknowledge it was true for them. But I go to church every week with a cross-section of ordinary Americans. Because of church I interact constantly with "ordinary" Americans. 

I've never lost touch with that and won't as long as I continue to attend church. I have to interact with, and teach, those that are functionally illiterate and those that are brilliant. Since church callings (unpaid jobs) are all temporary and no true leadership hierarchy exists, I've been under the authority of those with a high school diploma or less. At other times I have to direct those with more education than I've got. (Okay, that is rare.) Knowledge, skills and abilities range across the spectrum.

If this isn't the "real world" I don't know what is.

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