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Funeral Potstickers and Green Curry Salad

I love funeral potatoes and green Jell-o salad (with and without carrots), but all overdone stereotypes aside, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long since moved beyond the Rockies.

It’s happened in subtle ways. I’ve noticed it when reading the Ensign. Talks that use feet or inches now have the metric equivalent in parentheses. Elder Allan Packer in his 2009 conference address specifically mentioned “American” football.

I’ve often wondered what ward dinners would look like in Korea or Fiji. If I could pick a ward dinner to go to, it would be one in India. Indian food is divine and must be a holdover from Eden. But more importantly than food, I’m glad for the awakening that other cultures bring to the gospel.

I love learning about other cultures, not because I don’t love my own, but because it enhances mine. I don’t, however, think culture is sacrosanct, that it should be preserved above all else. When a culture or tradition becomes detrimental to the well being of it’s people or others, I’m all for moving on.

There are aspects of any culture that can become harmful if left unchecked. That’s where learning about other cultures can expose detrimental philosophies in one’s own.

I think it’s safe to say that culture and past attitudes crept into the early formation of the church and are still present today. Joseph Smith was constantly fighting against false traditions even in his own ranks.

There is a great danger when cultural ideas get incorporated into gospel practices. For example, the word "pride." First of all, I love the talk on pride by President Benson. I think it’s one of the best talks I've ever read, but what puzzles me is the aftermath of his statements.

Somehow, “pride” became a swear word and we could never be proud of our children again. We had to be “well pleased.” I’m not sure where that came from, but the French don’t have that problem.

In French, there are two words for our one equivalent of pride, “fierté” and “orgeuil,” In French you can safely distinguish between the two ideas.

Elder Uchtdorf put it far more poetically than I just did in his talk, "Pride and the Priesthood" when he said:

"I also remember one interesting side effect of President Benson’s influential talk. For a while it almost became taboo among Church members to say that they were “proud” of their children or their country or that they took “pride” in their work. The very word pride seemed to become an outcast in our vocabulary...I believe there is a difference between being proud of certain things and being prideful. I am proud of many things. I am proud of my wife. I am proud of our children and grandchildren..."

As the Church expands in other cultures, I think we'll find some practices perhaps challenged but also enhanced. Just the idea of “meditating” upon the word will have a new meaning to someone from an Eastern culture.

Like the tree with the natural branches, the grafting in of the “wild” branches will serve to separate the gospel from the culture and sift it bit by bit until it becomes more pure and the fruit more beautiful.

That doesn’t make light of the “Rocky Mountain” influence either. I couldn’t hold a candle to the sheer determination of the people who made up that culture and cultivated the gospel until it was ready to spread to the world. We owe a lot to our early ancestors and other cultures will benefit from their examples as much as we will benefit from other cultural viewpoints.

This is a great day for members the Church. We’re growing worldwide and adding new ways to see old ideas, yet still maintain the truth and continuity that binds us all into one great fold. It's truly stunning to think about all the cultures and backgrounds united by a common goal and belief. What a sight it would be if we could all unite under one great roof.

Now that's a ward dinner I'd love to go to.

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J. blogs at Cygnus Opus

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