Status

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I have a question, and I am sure only southern Albertans (mostly LDS, but not necessarily all?) can answer this: is there a class system in southern Alberta? If so, what are the requirements for being a part of it? I am not asking this to gain this sort of status, I am just curious is all.

Actually, I have heard Utah is like this too, is that true? I appeal to Utahns out there, especially transplants from outside of the state.

47 thoughts on “Status

  1. Actually, I am not referring to Hutterites. If they have a class system within their community, then that is up to them. Who I am referring to are mainly LDS Southern Albertans. And sometimes non-LDS. If you are descended from the pioneers then you belong here, if you don’t have LDS pioneer ancestry or no one knows your family then acceptance is very difficult to obtain.

  2. Coming from mormon blue bloods (all the way back to ol’ BY) that have fallen on hard times I can say that there is a class system. My mom calls them the “Royal Families” and they seem to run everything in the wards, bishop, RS president. They usually make absurd numbers of children. They excel at Jello making and funeral potatoes and are usually the ones in charge of asking you to help in the kitchen at funerals, weddings. They have kids with business sense and don’t talk about Joey who ran off to San Fransico.

    Mmm…Catharic…LOL

  3. I’m just looking for some concrete way to measure it, besides the subjective feelings of the newcomer. I’ve known people who seemed justified in not feeling accepted, and I’ve seen people who, in my view, felt that way because they had a chip on their shoulder. Is there an objective way to look at it?

  4. Well, the perspective I am asking from is from a newcomer who can’t find a niche, who is regularly “shut out” (not myself, or at least not only myself). Objective? Probably not, because it is unlikely the perpetrators see themselves in this way.

  5. This is not meant to be a thread hijack, feel free not to post it, or move it to another thread. I couldn’t find an official email link on the blog here Came across somthing by way of my google news alerts, http://www.sonofham.com/
    This fellow seems to blame the Black priesthood ban on “African Voodoo heritige”

    Could provide some interesting discussion… enjoy

  6. Interesting. I am a convert and therefore have no “claim” to the pioneers etc.

    What I HAVE noticed in the church is that the families that feel like there are a “priviledged few” families are often themselves rude and ignorant of the other people around them. Perhaps the reason there may be a few select families doing all the work is because no one else will get off their “poor ol’ me” butts and do something. I have noticed that the families that people label “priviledged few” are often oblivious and some of the most kind people who would give you the shirt off their back.

    From my experience though, I have never felt that I didn’t fit in just because I have no real LDS ancestry, and have never felt shunned or the like because of it. Personally, I think it is mostly in people’s heads. Head game I hate!

    K.

  7. I have lived in Southern Alberta for pretty much my whole life and as I have gotten older I have noticed some clickiness (did I spell that right?) among the older members of the church.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with being descended from the pioneers though. Most people don’t know or care if a person has pioneer ancestry. I think there are two requirements for acceptance in the upper class (if you want to call it a class system).

    1. Money. Since Lethbridge is a fairly small city, the most wealthy members tend to be the doctors, lawyers, and the accountants. I have noticed that if the father of a family has one of these occupations (or earns a lot of money some other way) then that family is readily accepted into that upper class. This could be attributed to many things, but I think that people with money just prefer to associate with other people that have money.

    2. Association with money. This is closely related to the first reason. I am the oldest son of an Optometrist here in Lethbridge so you could say that my family fits into that first category, Now, I am married and don’t live with my parents, and I definatly don’t make a lot of money, but it seems like I can’t move to any ward in Lethbridge where I am not already known by half of the ward. I have lived in 4 wards in Lethbridge since getting married and in all 4 wards I received a calling within the first month (and in one ward, they heard I was coming, and had a calling ready before I even showed up). This seems to be because they all know my parents and associate me with them. It could also be because I went to High School here in Lethbridge my classmates were the children of many bishopric members and stake presidents (for example, I was in the same school and same grade as President Gedlaman’s daughter, Bishop Kutanzi’s daughter, and Brother Whitehead’s son).

    Do I agree with this type of segregation? No. I think everyone should feel welcome and feel like they belong. But I think that even wealthy people have a hard time making new friends and that is why they may feel uneasy accepting new people into their circles.

    Does that kind of answer the question (from my perspective, at least)?

  8. Kris

    Interesting perspective. Hmmm, well from my own experience, I have seen this to a degree, and I am not a rude person, and definately not ignorant about people around me, pershaps in a way, I am overly aware of others. My personal feeling on this is coming into Alberta, as a British Columbian. This isn’t to say that all SAs are like this, but I see that some are. For example, when we first moved here, the first comments made to us were “Who are your parents?” Maybe you, being a convert, didn’t get this because people were aware that they would be unlikely to know your family. But being members of the church for a couple of generations, and NOT coming from Alberta, we got (get) this question frequently. Well, very few people WILL know our family. This is more of an observation, not a personal grievance, although when you get bunch of people together, who all know each other’s families, cousins, aunts, uncles, grand parents, great grandparents, etc, it is a bit disconcerting. And it seems sometimes a bit of a shield goes up when they can’t “place” you. I am not sure where in Southern Alberta you are, but if it is Calgary, you probably don’t see this as much. I didn’t see this in BC, because many members were only a couple of generations old.

    I don’t see the “woe is me, no one likes me” from people who feel this way (and there area others), but in a way it is sort of like not being “in the club”.

    I personally don’t feel like there are a privileged few. I am not sure how others feel, but I have met people who are not from here, who feel like they can’t “fit in” entirely. This isn’t their fault completely, and to label them as ignorant or rude is unjust. They do try. They do work hard to be involved, but the idea that it is a “poor ol’ me” attitude is not entirely correct. Let’s just say that the Church isn’t identical across Canada. Or across the world for that matter. When I lived in Ireland I didn’t see this. When I lived in Penticton I didn’t see this. When I lived in Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Vancouver, I didn’t see this. Of course I grew up in the lower mainland of BC so maybe it’s a different view. Maybe others saw something I didn’t see?

    Again, it isn’t everyone I get this from, but I have sensed, from different people, that you are “somebody” if they know your grandparents, otherwise, you just aren’t quite “it”.

    This doesn’t mean there are a select few “doing all the work”. In spite of not having LDS pioneer ancestry (I have plenty of honourable pioneer ancestry who I wouldn’t trade for anyone) we have busy callings and always have had.

    However, I don’t think it is just that, either. LDS Pioneer ancestry. I have to wonder if there is something else. When I say status, what I want to know is if some people THINK they are of a higher “class” than some others. Not saying they actually do, I just wonder if they feel this way.

    I don’t think there are classes of people, just classes of behaviour.

  9. Mike

    Yep that makes a lot of sense, and that’s what I see more than anything. Being someone who doesn’t think money is useful for much except paying the bills, and being rather bohemian in some of my tastes and attitudes, I have to admit to being a bit disdainful about this type of thing. I mean this is LETHBRIDGE for pete’s sake.

    I do think the segregation happens uninitentionally, nor do I agree with it, and not everyone has this attitude. Perhaps this goes back to the old belief that the church members had to keep to themselves, many many years ago. Of course now that is discouraged, but old habits die hard and for some it may be harder than for others.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see this in our ward NEARLY to the same degree as I have seen it in our last ward. It’s minimal if anything. I can’t speak for other wards in the city.

    A couple who were not fulfilling their callings very well were being discussed in a ward council and one member of the ward council (older) made the comment “They come from great stock”. Well coming from “great stock” makes not a whit of difference if they don’t do their own part. My grandparents aren’t responsible for what I do, nor I for what they do/did. Also, I come from great stock too, even if no one knows who they are :).

  10. and yes, that’s it, the requirement for status is money. Well, guess we wouldn’t make it anyway, LOL.

    And I wouldn’t want to as a matter of fact.

  11. Mike, you were not given your current calling because someone else knew you. James and I picked you and we had no idea who you or your dad were.

  12. I grew up near Calgary and went to UofL for 4 years. I’d say there is a class system in southern alberta with “city folk”, “farmers”, and “mormons” (and other religions) each in their own class. I’m not sure how I’d classify each one, because to each group, it’d be laid out differently.

  13. Mary,

    I agree with you. Money shouldn’t be a requirement for status in the church. I’m not saying it’s right, I ‘m just letting you know what I think I have observed.

    Kim,

    I know. It was actually the first ward that I was in after getting married. It was on the west side of Lethbridge. They heard that I would be in the ward after I got married and had a calling picked out for me before we had even shown up for church. When I got home from my mission, there was a student ward bishopric at my high council report who wanted to check me out. I was then called as ward clerk on my second sunday in the ward.

    I’m not trying to boast, because I cetainly don’t attach status or superiority with callings. I am just trying to show how local knowledge of me and my family can effect my acceptance in church circles.

  14. well, i am in utah, but i don’t really see it. i mean, everywhere you go you will see status as far as who has a lot of money compared to those who have very little.

    in the church, i guess there are classes of people depending on what you are doing with your life at a given time… but again i think that is a universal thing and not subject to one region or area of the world.

  15. Thanks for visiting, Jamie. As a side note, I auditioned for Death and Taxes. I didn’t get a role because I wasn’t willing to travel to Cardston that often, but it sounds like a cool film. Has it been released yet? I haven’t heard anything about it.

  16. Mike
    Oh I know you weren’t. I was just agreeing that this is what I observe too (though I think many of the seniors have a ‘who’s your family?’ attitude). Not all though, but some do.

    Aimee Roo

    Are you a transplant or born and raised there? I am not saying it is there for sure, or maybe it’s jsut in parts? I have heard it is to a degree, but I have never been to Utah, so it’s just second hand knowledge. I do think that those who are actually from the area might have a harder time seeing it. Though obviously not all (Mike for example). Which is why I wonder if there was a similar attitude where I grew up and I was just oblivious to it. I don’t know though.

  17. My general experience has been that “class systems” tend to be noticed, and matter, only to those who are themselve choosing to be class-conscious. I really couldn’t tell you whether there’s a “class system” where I live, or whether there was one when I lived in Utah, because I really don’t care about “class.”

  18. “My general experience has been that “class systems” tend to be noticed, and matter, only to those who are themselve choosing to be class-conscious.”

    Of course. If everyone was class conscious, there likely would not be classes (or cliques). Those who are in cliques or separate classes often don’t realise they are being exclusionary.

  19. ltbugaf

    Interesting you say that, because I don’t care about class either, and yet I notice it, somewhat anyway. It doesn’t affect how I respond to people, but I see it in how certain people respond to other people (not me, or our family, but to others, but then maybe this is because I don’t care about that) and it bothers me for THEIR sake. I certainly don’t let it affect my behaviour towards anyone, but it tends to lower my opinion of some people. I suppose when you see people who always have to have the biggest and best of everything and who make it clear that they only socialise with certain people who are in the “upper echelons” of society, that they are putting themselves in a certain category. I didn’t see this in BC. I didn’t see this in Ireland. And seeing as how I moved here when I was well into my adulthood, I doubt I suddenly developed a desire to fit into some sort of niche in society. Oh, and since I tend to go against the grain in many societal behaviours (let’s see, I don’t wear make-up, I wear my babies in a sling, I don’t live in a big fancy house, and this is our choice, we have only one vehicle, um, we homeschool, homebirth etc etc)I don’t think I have some secret desire to ‘fit in’. But when I see people looked down upon because they don’t live in a certain area of town or they aren’t a doctor/lawyer/chiropractor etc etc I have to wonder if some have created a class system. This is why I asked the question.

  20. I’m probably just less observant of such behavior than others.

    One of my former wards had a member who was a son of an Apostle. He was rather well known, and the name caught everyone’s attention. But I didn’t see him as being in a different “class.” I did see him as a great gospel scholar in his own right, and this was, in part, the result of his having learned from a father who epitomized gospel scholarship.

  21. Kim, re: #22, I think you and I are saying the opposite. I’m saying class-consciousness breeds class division; you’re saying universal class-consciousness would destroy it.

  22. Whether you saw it or not, doesn’t mean others didn’t see it or do it. I certainly don’t think someone’s birth, career, financial status or what have you makes them better than anyone else (and this is another reason I am not interested in celebrity status either or recognise it) but there are those who do think this way and so behave.

  23. “Whether you saw it or not, doesn’t mean others didn’t see it or do it.”

    Quite right. That’s why I said I was just less observant. However, we can all decide to disregard concerns of class, just as you have. Maybe one way to begin is to stop caring if we’ve been snubbed–even if we really have been.

  24. Well, unless it hurts someone else. I don’t care if I have been snubbed (actually I don’t think I have been), but it always bothers me when others are looked down upon or treated as less than a child of God. I can’t ignore that.

  25. Mary I think women sense this more so then men. They don’t have the need that we do to belong…It’s an important part of who we are. We had a young family that was in our ward last year and he was teaching SS one day and kept going on and on about moving to Lethbridge the second he was done school. I finally asked him if he had a job waiting for him and he said no and so I asked then why was he moving there and he said cause that was where the New Jerusalem was going to be built and anyone that was anyone was going to be there.

    I thought uhhhhhhhhhh OK.. whatever. He said his parents had just moved there, other siblings and they were moving as well as that was where the “Albertan” LDS members settled and that was where his roots were etc etc. And so off he went.

    Well Mary you could also always move back here where people would care who your family was :->

  26. Itbugaf you crack me up…”what I think you are saying is…” I am hearing an echo every time you post…LOL…it makes me giggle!

    K.

  27. Mum

    Yes you are probably right :)

    Really? Lethbridge the New Jerusalem?> lol Well, it’s a nice city, it is, but perfection it is not. However the cost of living is great here.

    I wish we were nearer family….I do, I do miss BC, sigh. We could never afford to buy there though (and good luck convincing Kim, hehe).
    LESS THAN A WEEK!!

  28. I should clarify too, this isn’t rampant in Lethbridge or Southern Alberta, at least I don’t think it is. And it’s not something I have personally experienced (at least to my face) but I do observe it periodically and when it rears its ugly head, I get irritated. So in asking this, I wanted to know if this is something regional or everywhere else. I have only lived in a few places, so I can’t say if I am becoming more sensitive as I get older or it’s something that is only found in certain areas. One thing it HAS done has opened my eyes to the blessing of living in an area where the church is smaller and more homey. I miss home sometimes.

  29. well seeing as how we learnt about D&C last year and he taught for part of the year he must have missed that lesson you are referring to

  30. Also sections 57, 58, 101 and 105. These will identify Missouri as the place of the New Jerusalem.

  31. I wish somewhere tropic was the New Jerusalem. With beaches and sunny weather….ah…

    Actually I can’t complain, we have been having quite a balmy winter. Still, what I want is warmth with a breeze and NO DRY SKIN.

  32. Itbugaf, I notice that you are a guest here too and not a contributing owner of the blog. I suspect that if Kim thinks I am out of line or that my posts do not bring anything to the conversations at hand that he will email me privately and plitely ask me to leave or shut up or whatever. Until such time I politely decline. I appreciate this blog and the free speech that it allows to ANYONE posting here.

    K.

  33. Makes what clear? That you enjoy departing from the topic of the thread? That you like to express feelings of persecution without adding any actual content?

  34. You have to be joking me. If people acted the way they do here at times in person to someone’s face they would be in serious jeopardy of getting punched in the eye. Strictly speaking you and Anne.

    K.

  35. Mary, sorry to take so long to get back to this. I was born and raised here in Utah. I have lived here my whole life, other than a few months when I lived in Russia.

    I just feel that class issues are a universal problem that are not anything to do with being LDS or not. I do think we have certain class systems within church culture, but again, that is anywhere the church is, not just one place.

    However, I do believe that any city has it’s own personality and a system of class. I am not sure what the total implication of the question is… but here in Utah I think that it is based on money, if you are LDS or not, and if you are LDS what you are doing with your life at that time (ie, are you single, married, kids or not, etc). There are also some stereotypes dealing with dress and style, for example it’s really conservative here so even I get strange looks at times because I enjoy all kinds of fashion, not just what comes from the Gap.

    So, I don’t know if I answered the question well or not, since I am not sure of the question. But I think there are class issues anywhere you go, and the best way to be happy is to just to be yourself and not worry about it.

  36. The problem with the perceived class system in the church is that you are forced to be subjected to it based on required attendance at meeting halls.

    In non-LDS life, if I don’t like the people being clique-ey at my local church, I change churches. If I don’t like my neighbours talking about how much better off the rich people are, I can choose to ignore them.

    There is forced socialization in the LDS church and it aggravates any existing or perceived class struggles. Not to mention the fact that the church also enforces another heirarchy based on church standing and sex on people as well.

    In my opinion, these types of behaviours require one to develop coping mechanisms such as two-face-edness, apathy and/or hidden resentments.

    That’s just my opinion, though.
    Your mileage may vary.

  37. Rick, the “forced socialization” of the Church does force people to deal with the other members of their wards and stakes, since they can’t just escape willy-nilly to any ward they like. But this doesn’t mean they’re forced to be two-faced, apathetic, or resentful. The challenge of having to deal with the ones who are in one’s own ward can also lead one to develop meekness, patience, hope, forbearance, longsuffering, charity, love unfeigned, and a host of other virtues.

    (For example, if I were in Kim and Mary’s ward, I’m sure they’d have to either become amazingly charitable people or just quit coming so they can avoid that one really obnoxious guy.)

    If we could just avoid everyone we find unpleasant, it would be far more difficult to develop those Christ-like attributes that we need.

  38. I’m sure you aren’t THAT obnoxious ltbugaf. Most people seem more so online than in real life.

    No one is really coerced to socialise. It’s like ltbugaf said in all instances (wow I agree with you, ltbugaf!!).

    You take the curmudgeons with the angels.

  39. “No one is really foreced to socialise”

    This is absolutely false.

    Just *try* opting out as a family of all (non-Sunday) church activities, and you’ll see just how mandatory these socials really are.

    Before you know it you’ll be love-bombed back into submission.

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