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    Mormon Culture: Mission Presidents, Room for Interpretation?

    Sometimes people got along with their mission president and sometimes people didn’t. But a mission president still makes an impact on the missionaries he presides over. Wendy Ulrich, a psychologist who advises the missionary mental health committee, said sometimes clashes between missionaries and mission presidents come about because of personalities. She said that when her husband was mission president, she even made mistakes sometimes. “People are people,” Ulrich said. Currently, there are no resources provided to missionaries on how to talk with their mission presidents. However, the “Adjusting to Missionary Life” booklet includes general information on communication. “I think the church is reluctant to imply to a missionary, you know, ‘Well maybe…

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    Mormon Culture: A Polarized Group?

    Nowadays, we constantly hear about how polarized politics are. The Republicans will agree with Republicans, even if they don’t agree — for the sake of the party. And Democrats will agree with Democrats, even if they don’t agree — for the sake of the party. And then there are those moderate ideas that everyone likes, but then when we get a moderate candidate, no one votes for him or her. So what are we to do? In Mormon culture we might be able to see a little bit of this polarization within the culture. One extreme leads to self-deprecation and the other leads to arrogance. If you don’t know what…

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    Mormon Culture: Ministering

    What does it mean to minister? The dictionary definition is “to give aid or service.” What’s interesting to me is that the LDS Church has a whole section of their Provident Living website devoted to “ministering” — which includes topics on abuse help, addiction, caregivers, early-return missionaries, employment, family finances, marital conflict, overcoming pornography, same-sex attraction, single expectant parents, and spouses of pornography users. On the homepage of the ministering resources page, there’s a letter from the First Presidency  to bishops. It says, “The ministering resources listed below have been created to assist you as you respond to the specific challenges members often face.” Imagine you are called as a…

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    Mormon Culture: #MormonCulture on Twitter

    Is “Mormon culture” a bad thing? Before looking into this subject as something to write on, I pretty much only heard the term “Mormon culture” with a negative connotation. Just ask someone how they feel about Mormon culture, and they’ll probably have some pent up angst about the topic. (I’ve been telling people about this blog, and I get exasperated responses every time). I think it’s important to realize though that there are some positive things about Mormon culture. I was once talking to a friend who had met with the missionaries a couple times while at BYU. She said she liked learning about the church and interacting with the kind people.…

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    Mormon Culture: Missionary Mental Health Resources

    If you’re the parent of a son or daughter going on a mission, you probably worry about their health when they write home saying something is amiss. And if it’s related to mental health, you might not know what resources are available to them. According to psychologist Wendy Ulrich, who provides council for the missionary mental health committee, in general, we can expect one in five people at any time to struggle with depression. And missions connect to depression through stress. “Stress isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when we get overstressed, we start dealing with depression and anxiety,” Ulrich said. Not all mission presidents will be very…

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    Mormon Culture: Transitioning From Mission to Real Life

    Coming home from a mission is not as easy as you expect it to be. Sure, you learned how to study and make goals, but missions are extremely structured in a way that life is not. Psychologist Wendy Ulrich has worked with the LDS Church missionary mental health committee on several projects, such as a booklet called “Adjusting to Missionary Life” and an online program to help missionaries returning home from their missions, called “My Plan.” Adjusting to missionary life is difficult, but Ulrich said it can be just as hard transitioning back to “normal” life. There are a few reasons for this. 1. You have to make your own plans. On…

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    Mormon Culture: Doctrine vs. Policy

    Did you know it’s a commandment to wear a white shirt while passing the sacrament? And blue shirts evil? It seems that sometimes there are blurred lines between what’s doctrine and what’s policy or culture. For example, it’s a policy that people don’t play brass instruments or guitars during sacrament meeting, but does that mean those instruments are bad? Nope. On a mission, you follow a pretty strict schedule, complete with waking up at 6:30 a.m., so does that mean you’re a “bad” member if after your mission you wake up later than that? Are you living a lesser law? Nope. But the imposed expectations that people sometimes have about these…

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    How to deal with a crisis of faith

    Just like you, I’ve had a crisis or two of faith. And I’m sure neither you or I is done with having these crises. My first crisis was about Joseph Smith. My second was about revelation. My third was about the temple. My fourth was about non-prophet church leaders. My fifth was about Mormon culture and doctrine. You might be thinking to yourself, “Jesse, those are pretty big-topic issues you dealt with.” If you aren’t, that’s what I would’ve thought if I had read that list. Or maybe you’re thinking, “Yep, been there,” or “Yep, I am there.” I struggled, but I wanted to stay with my God. So how…

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