Zach and Friends and Mormon Cred

Listener Essay

Posted June 5th, 2017

This episode of Infants on Thrones may very well change the experience of podcasting forever!  At least it will for the people who’s podcasting experiences are forever changed by this episode.  Will you be one of them?

Also…  Bob’s Mormon Cred Scale.  What an Easter Egg!

Bob

Glenn

Jake

Matt

Tom

  • Orrin Dayne

    In addition to the dog noise, I would recommend finding a way to avoid the cell phone interference with the microphone, causing that periodic ticking/buzzing sound. Can it be avoided by turning the phones to airplane mode? I still enjoyed the guest panel. I hope you’ll get more of these from this and other groups.

    • Zach in Cedar

      We will do better with our response recording.

  • david

    you don’t give your body a treat. hilarious!

  • chapster

    Can we agree collectively to stop saying “blacks”? I know you probably don’t mean ill, but it sounds incredibly racist.

    • Can we first collectively agree that if one person decides that something they hear sounds racist and needs to be corrected, that said person at least offers an explanation followed by a description of their solution rather than just a finger-pointing “racist!” comment?

      • chapster

        Ok Bob, I posted an explanation and my idea of a better option below, is that better?

        • Better, yes. But could you explain more? Why is “blacks” dehumanizing and “black people” isn’t? I’m not trying to defend usage, just trying to understand why we should all prioritize this correction.

          • chapster

            The difference between the two terms is subtle, but it exists. ‘Black people’ describes a group of people, whereas ‘blacks’ reduces them to nothing but their race. You may have noticed in my other comment the comparison of ‘person of color’ vs. ‘colored’. There’s a lot of historical baggage there.

            A phrase being commonly used is not a good defense of the phrase. Additionally, the only place I consistantly see ‘blacks’ used in place of ‘black people’ is in Mormondom, and racist communities on the Internet. Internet racists aside, Mormons historically aren’t the most racially sensitive people in the world, so I hesitate to follow their lead as far as language goes.

            At the end of the day, I’m just a dude on the Internet. You talk however you like, I obviously can’t change that. I think it would improve your podcast and help dispel the lily-white view people have of broader Mormon culture. (or exmormon, since there isn’t a huge difference in that regard)

            I hope you don’t take this as an attack on you. I probably was too strident (I have a bad habit) in my comments.

          • But why is that? Do you have research on this? Pardon my naïveté, but I’m not familiar with how or when the term “blacks” became a defacto racist label like colored or various N-words, etc. Who says (literally, looking for more than just you) that “black people” means a group of people but “blacks” doesn’t and, instead, will automatically be interpreted as a reductionist racial slur?

            Also, I could reverse your reasoning back at you: saying that racist people might sometimes say “blacks” isn’t a great reason either. Racist people might be known to eat eggs sometimes too, but that doesn’t mean I should not eat eggs because of that correlation. Again, I’d like to learn more on why this is a problem in need of fighting for. Put another way, what should we do if/when racists use the term “black people?”

    • I’ve met quite a few “African-Americans” who would rather just be referred to as “black” because a) “African-American” is such a mouthful and b) because they don’t identify anymore as African than I identify as Danish because my great-great grandmother came from Denmark.

      • chapster

        Oh, I wasn’t meaning people shouldn’t say ‘black’ as a descriptor. I meant using ‘blacks’ as a word for the whole demographic group. It seems really dehumanizing. ‘Black people’ works much better.

        It’s kind of like ‘people of color’ vs ‘coloreds’. Very similar words, but incredibly different meanings.

  • Like, wow. I thought the criteria behind Bob’s Mormon Cred Scale were a closely guarded secret, perhaps to keep people from trying to game the system. How did I miss this episode? Now I know WHY I sucked as a Mormon. And, yes, you should do an Ex-Mormon Cred Scale, but it has to hinge on how Mormon you used to be. Otherwise, people like Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison would get astronomical Ex-Mormon Cred scores for free and that’s cheating.

    • Not a secret, and there’s no need for two scales, in my opinion. Bob’s Mormon Cred Scale is trying to measure how much any given person has participated in the end-to-end Mormon experience. If you’re a young Mormon and still active, you might still have much to experience. If you’re an old Mormon but a recent convert, same thing. Mormonism is much less a destination, and much more a journey. If you’re an ex-Mormon, same thing, you called it quits at a certain point, so how much of the journey did you go through before calling it quits?

      Most people seem to confuse this concept with “how Mormon did I feel in the five seconds when I was most committed to the Church?” That’s not an interesting question to me because it’s typically a very similar answer for most.

  • Jessica C

    Leave it to the Mormons to come up with a way to measure just how Mormon they are so that they can compare themselves to other Mormons . . . even after they’ve all quit being Mormons

    • If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re stereotyping and judging a whole group of people when knowing very little about them… at least we try and individualize it a bit! And by we, I mean me, lol. But it’s true, the Mormon in me — who remembers the pedantic nature of what was required over a lifetime to be a good Mormon ready for the best version of the next life — I suppose that part of me couldn’t help but channel some of that same energy in new ways. We leave but never leave it alone and all that.

      I could be off base and myopic in my comments, but I do find some charm in the systematic nature and detail of Mormon measurement and reward. Did you know there are three places to go after this life, not just two?! Ok, maybe it’s not all that charming.

    • Zach in Cedar

      I don’t see the problem in establishing a level of credibility. If I am going to listen to someone act as an expert in any area, I want to know what makes them an expert. I don’t think this is something unique to Mormons.

      That being said, Mormons do focus on outward expressions of their faith to prove that they are legit Mormons, especially around other Mormons. I think that we continue to do that to some extent after we “quit” because leaving the church isn’t like quitting a job or quitting your gym. Being raised in the church affects the way you view the world, and how much time you spend in the “end-to-end Mormon experience” affects how long it can take to, for lack of a better word, normalize.

      • Right. Ironically, having more cred isn’t necessarily a good thing. It means you have more to undo, often times more than you realize because it’s a lot of subconscious stuff that has built up over decades. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch and assuming it’s all gone. In some ways, when I heard Nano and Natalie talking, I could hear people who seemed to move on more quickly and effectively and who are less defined by Mormonism. And that’s a good thing!

        I suppose I can only really speak for myself, but I find that the higher the cred, the higher the chance that there’s a certain portion of one’s psyche that simply will never be undone. It sounds weird to say, but — for example — I’m not sure I’ll ever get to absolute 0% racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. as compared to, say, the generation after me that didn’t grow up with it engrained in their everyday life so explicitly.

        • Jessica C

          You caught me! I am putting an entire group of people into a box but I say it lightheartedly—I suppose it’s difficult to gauge tone over text but I’m only teasing. In my defense though, I wouldn’t say I’m stereotyping a group I know nothing about—I live in Eastern Idaho, my husband is Mormon (his dad is a Bishop, his mom was born and raised in S.L.C. & works at BYU Idaho and his brother is currently serving a mission in Peru).

          I moved to Idaho from Denver, CO back at the start of high school and I remember I was asked “What religion are you?” before “What’s your name?” I didn’t know anything about Mormonism at the time so I never stood a chance—I didn’t know the damage I was doing every time I wore a tank top or drank coffee or went out for family brunch…on a SUNDAY like the monster I am.

          I probably score about 0 on Bob’s Mormon Cred Scale but I know what it’s like to be stereotyped and judged as a whole group of people rather than an individual person by people who know very little about them. People do it to me all the time. That is my life, man—I live in a box. Around here, most people filter you into one of two categories, 1) with the Mormons – judging & stereotyping all of the nonmormons or 2) with the nonmormons – judging & stereotyping all of the Mormons. But people are more complicated than that.

          I’m just playing with the idea that the whole conversation was ironic for me personally. This wasn’t the first time I listened to a group of people competing to be the MOST Mormon – that’s a regular thing over here, and for obvious reasons I can’t really participate there or anywhere else for that matter. I joke with my husband that on Jessica’s Mormon Cred Scale, you get points just for taking the quiz because gauging how Mormon you are is a Mormon thing in and of itself.

          (I know, I know—there I go again with the stereotyping and judging…I have to say, though, I haven’t heard anyone compete to be a more Jewish Jew because he’s a third-generation Jew.) Now, I know there are exceptions. Just speaking as an onlooker here; I’m merely the audience when my friends or family passively drop “Mormon points” over dinner. They don’t do it maliciously though and I don’t find any wrong in establishing credibility. I do think that bad ideas can stem from good ones though. I think most Mormons are truly just trying to be their best which is a wonderful thing, but I also think that a lot of the time the line gets blurred being “your best” and being “the best” aaaaand better than the rest.

          I hope I’m not offending you or giving you the wrong idea—I’m not trying to criticize you or say there is something wrong with what you’re doing. I’m just laughing at my own situation. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’m not an expert in area. I’ll never have any Mormon cred because I’ve never been a part of the Church and can’t have exmormon cred for the same reason. (I don’t think nonmormons are going to give me any cred either seeing as I’ve been to two blessings and a baptism this month and had the missionaries for dinner more times than my siblings.)

          I can tell I’ve come across the wrong way; I was just trying to laugh with you. Infants on Thrones is hands down my favorite podcast. I felt a little isolated before I found you guys and I’ve listened to every episode since then. My Mormon friends and family have no idea what it’s like to be the only one around who will never be worthy of a Temple Recommend (and my nonmormon friends and family have never even heard of a temple recommend.) I love my Mormon friends and family but there are just some things I don’t discuss with them because they don’t get it and I’m not trying to attack hurt anyone. My nonmormon friends and family don’t get it either because it’s simply not part of their life so I don’t talk to them about it either. I used to have a lot of frustration with the way things are done and said and listening to the podcast has shed light on where they’re coming from. I appreciate the perspective you guys put on the table. I’m in a comfortable place now as an outsider. I was just having a laugh at the irony that the people who made me feel like I’m not totally alone here basically just clarified that I am, indeed, utterly alone because I don’t know anything about anything. Will somebody throw me a frickin’ bone?

          • Haha, omg, loved this response! I should admit that your first comment got a three paragraph snarky response out of me because it was… snarky, witty, and insightful itself. And with brevity no less! So of course I felt the need to try and reply in kind. 🙂

            In any event, thanks for sharing your story. I can see how Bob’s Mormon Cred Scale, for you particularly, is the perfect storm that deserves a bit of an eye roll. It’s really not designed for you at all, but I’m glad the rest of the podcast seems to be!

          • Matt

            I love this Jessica. It is a very Mormon thing, but also goes to show how damaged we are that it totally makes sense. Lol.

            But seriously, in point insights. You have Mormon cred by identifying such Mormonness. 🙂

      • The main problem with Bob’s Mormon Cred Scale is that I don’t have any (BMCS=15). One the other hand, I have very few of the scars that tend to accrue along side the cred. So, AWTEW.

  • Matter Unorganized

    Great podcast, Zach and company! I’m inspired to try one of my own.

  • Wiggly Jiggly

    IOT is having a JFK moment: Ask not what your podcast can do for you, but what you can do for your podcast.

  • Sirpa Leppänen

    About Bob’s mormon cred scale: it’s definitely a utah/american male centric scale, which is kinda fitting, since we all know that the only true mormons are white, heterosexual men. I have to correct you in your claim that all mormons world wide have the opportunity to attend church owned schools. It is not true. The vast majority of mormons in my country (Finland) have never attended church schools or spent a long time, or even visited Utah. BYU is just way too expensive to a lot of people and they can practically get a free university education here, so it makes no sense whatsoever to even apply to BYU. The PEF you were referring to doesn’t apply to western europians, but is mostly targeted to those in the developing countries. Plus in the 21st century there’s been a lot of talks for GA’s telling people that they should NOT come to Utah, but rather stay in their own countries and strenghten the church there. The mormon experience in Europe is very different from the american mormon experience.

    Also, women should get more points if the reason they didn’t serve a mission was that they got married before 21, since that’s the more righteous choice. They should also get points for marrying a RM and being a SAHM. Also I think you should get some points for going through a DC for some really stupid reason like being stupid enough to confess to a bishop that you touched your bf’s penis. Because I don’t think you’ve had the complete mormon experience unless you were shamed for something ridiculously normal thing.

    • By “only true mormons,” I gather you mean that white, heterosexual men have the “highest probability to be fully embedded into the male-dominated hierarchy that is Mormonism thereby securing a lifelong experience full of subconscious sexism, racism, and homophobia.”

      Just need to keep pointing out the irony that the cred scale is reflective of Mormonism, which means that as fun as it is to the have the highest cred possible and to cry foul that women don’t have enough cred… that simply also means white men are more likely to have participated in the worst parts that Mormonism has to offer thereby subjecting themselves to a long (almost impossible in the absolutist sense) unwinding experience post Mormonism.

      Also, I’m not too worried about some of my Finnish Mormon friends who might miss out on a few points of cred because of having less incentive to experience Utah. A few points: 1) Finland has less than 5,000 members (a super tiny fraction of Mormons) 2) There are Finnish Mormons who still do go to Utah and, guess what, they get cred for that 3) Finnish Mormons still have a very high chance of getting Celestial Mormon cred (70 or higher) even without travelling 4) I’m jealous of your education system and 5) I don’t take this as seriously as this comment would suggest, but it’s fun to write comments like these!

  • longlostOlympian

    I just wanted to weigh in on the topic of Matt’s cred and whether extracurricular activity such as baptizing high school friends or reactivating a home teaching assignment and baptizing their kids should add cred or not. I’m completely with Bob on this one. A recent high-school-age convert baptizing friends is more indicative of the convert’s personality, and not necessarily the degree to which his/her life and self-perception have been enshrined in mormon doctrine and culture. Believing firmly in a product helps to sell it, but it isn’t necessary. Good salesmanship can compensate for lack of experience or conviction (not that Matt was fully convicted of the “gospel”).
    I personally scored 70 (cough, cough, brushin off my shoulder), and probably should have been a 75 but I misinterpreted the question about having a unique experience or story about a general authority. I loved the explanation for that question though: that ALL mormons think they have some unique experience with a general authority. So true. And under that interpretation, there are several totally uninteresting stories I could throw out.
    Anyway, you guys are always asking for reviews and ratings (i.e. check up from the neck up), so let me take the opportunity to say that while I have been out for years, I only recently discovered Infants and it’s been incredibly validating. You guys are doing an awesome service (I know, I know, donate!) for all of us. Please keep it coming.