Say goodbye to the Zion Curtain…. and certainly Utah's morality

I haven’t posted much lately because, well, I haven’t had much to say. Plus, I’ve been writing this book that is killing me, slowly, and I am wondering why it has to be so painful? But that’s for another blog post.

There’s certainly plenty to talk about. In about a month, our very progressive governor (God BLESS you, Jon Huntsman) will see a NEW ERA come to Utah. The Alcohol Era! Okay, not that, but at the least, modern times. No longer will those wanting a drink need to find a private club, fill out an application, give away your newborn and promise to wear Jesus Jammies every day for the rest of your life–after this one, of course.

No, folks, Utah is entering the real, modern world, and private clubs are NO MORE. I guess clubs will just be bars now, except they can serve REAL drinks, not just beer, and you don’t have to buy food to get it. I think.

I haven’t really researched this law, because I don’t go to BARS or clubs, because I am old and boring, and I am trying to write a book that is SLOWLY KILLING ME, but that’s another subject. Did I already say that?

One thing that this change means to me is that I AM RIGHT. Yes, I have been right all along. The day I was driving home from my daughter’s school, and I saw FOUR women IN A ROW wearing sleeveless tank tops, I knew the tide had turned. Oh yes. See, you can’t hide the Jesus Jammies under a sleeveless tank, and this was in my own little town, always known for it’s conservative nature and Mormon bent. But the truth is, no matter how much Todd rails and moans on my blog (Todd and I went to high school together, in this same little town of which I speak), reality is stepping in.

You can only brainwash the masses for so long, and quite honestly, when the late Gordon B. Hinckley became the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he headed things in an entirely different direction. President Hinckley was the consummate PR man, and he could spin like no other. And one thing he really wanted was for Mormons to be seen as mainstream Christians.

No more “Peculiar” tags for him. That whole Mormons being a peculiar people thingie was a great anathema to Hinckley. I admit I did not grow up wanting to be peculiar, so I get that.

But there can be no doubt that Hinckley was instrumental in ushering in this new era of drinks. Cheers!

Another thing that is gone is called the “Zion curtain” and it is the STUPIDEST thing I have ever seen in my life. The “curtain” ensured that a bartender in a restaurant could not serve a drink across a bar, and INSTEAD had to walk it around. Who thinks UP these things? Gayle Ruzicka?

What’s next? A Baskin Robbins with an electric shock system so you can’t order the high fat ice creams? Oh wait. This is Utah. That wouldn’t happen.

Anyway, the Zion Curtain manufacturers are going to be put out of business.

Before Todd and the morals police get all bent out of shape, I just want to point out that the new laws were a “tit for tat” kinda deal.

In exchange for loosening the liquor laws, the state’s drunken driving laws will become more strict. People who appear younger than 35 will have their driver’s licenses scanned before entering a bar to make sure they’re 21 or older and their ID is real.

Once upon a time, when I was not legally old enough to drink, but had entered the land of college, real life, parties, and teenagers who were up to no good, I had a fake ID. It was, I am sad to say, a Salt Lake Tribune ID. And that fake Tribune ID got me into a damn lotta bars. One time, it got both ME and my friend Lisa into the Cowboy Bar in Park City, back when there was a Cowboy Bar, and Park City was smaller and not quite so trendy and expensive. And law abiding. That would NEVER happen now. Nosiree. Kiddies, do not get any ideas.

Also, please do not blame the folks at the Trib. Blame Clark. He’s the one who showed me how to do it. Or maybe Doug. He helped. And Rod was egging me on the WHOLE time. Let’s blame them. But things were different then. Today, I couldn’t get my OLD SELF into a bar with a fake work ID. (The work was not fake. Only the age on the ID.)

This past weekend I went with a friend to dinner, to a local Applebees, and having had the week from hell, I ordered a glass of wine. They NOT ONLY asked for my ID, and they meant REAL ID, but after the waitress scanned it, she called the MANAGER over to check it, too. Uh, folks? I’m on the far side of 40, and while I’d like to be flattered, I’m not that dumb.

Things have changed. And I’m sure it’s good. But things have changed for the positive, too. Adults can be adults in Utah, for the first time.

I applaud the changes.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
This entry was posted in Natalie's Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Say goodbye to the Zion Curtain…. and certainly Utah's morality

  1. Andrew Dusserre says:

    This is a great post. You might want to include the local news footage of KUTV2. The piece I,m talking about relates to the closed door meetings the legislature had(s) with Mormon leaders. They even get a comment from a Mormon church rep in the meeting.
    Yes! It is true the Constitution of the United States and more over the Bill of Rites are nothing more than pieces of paper to the Mormons. WOW! Corporate America want’s to come here?


  2. Rick says:

    I have a theory. Of course I may be wrong….

    As with many other things in the church, it has a conflict. It wants to be a “worldwide church.” There are many reasons for this: revenue, fulfilling prophecy, evidence the “church is true,” ego, etc.

    But accomplishing this goal entails a risk. To “sell” a product, you must understand your audience. You must be able to relate to your prospect to be able to close the sale.

    That was the beginning of the end for me. I went to Japan on my mish…77-79. I had been raised in good ole Salt Lake City. The paradigm I was raised with told me that true happiness was only available by living the gospel. It kinda looked that way — the non-mos were often the parking lot smokers, got bad grades…the good mos were the SBOs and got the hot chicks (of course that was the ultimate sign of success!).

    Then I got to Japan. I was really quite stunned to see them as strong families, productive, and amazingly courteous. HOW could they be that way when they didn’t have the gospel…let alone not being Christian?! It was really a tilt!

    I stuffed it to be successful, but years later I see how that was the seed that started my thinking about the “truthfullness of the gospel.” A few decades later when the opportunity presented itself to study the early church with Grant Palmer, I jumped at the chance. A year later I was out.

    So I think today we have the same process going on right here in River City. The church wants to be seen as “Christian.” It wants to be normal…it must be to be politically savvy. And to do that, you must allow differences. You must encourage the members to interact with “outsiders.” And guess what? “We” are quite happy. We don’t eat our young, and we enjoy (mostly) the same things as the mormons do.

    And we’re not (currently) holding the priesthood, or have the “gift” of the Holy Casper. But we still have morals. We still give service. And we love hanging with our families. When that is observed (especially by the younger, less dogmatized members), and there are civil discussions about some of the crazy claims of Joe and the gang, it becomes much easier to see how ludicrous the religion really is.

    Another reason the church needs new converts in foreign lands is that they need numbers. There is a clear correlation between education and religions; the more educated a culture is, the less they go to dogmatic churches. So the new converts are coming from the less-educated, less affluent areas around the world. It makes the numbers look good, but the dollars are going to hurt…eventually.

    Unless the church continues its dramatic evolution to appeal to the educated. I think that is happening. Slowly.



  3. Clark says:

    Utah, one step closer to being a decent place to live.


  4. Rick says:

    Governor Huntsman being “called” to be the US Ambassador to China has brought the expected excitement from the Mormons. “He will be a great example to the Chinese people, and they’ll know he’s a Mormon. What great PR for the Church!”

    And, “People will know that he learned his Mandarin language as an LDS missionary…so missionaries the world over will get more respect now.”

    I agree with these statements. But I also see another result. Gov. Huntsman is quite the liberal Mormon. In recent months he has come out in favor of civil unions and openly supports gay rights. I see a possibility that his public presence will expediate needed change in LDS teachings.

    Let’s face it, the recent publicity of the church has not been good. There IS an interest in the church, but it is more out of curiousity than interest to join. People want to know if they really have polygamy (ala Big Love), and if one CAN get a drink in Utah.

    So, as in the past, when put on the spot, the church turns “normal.” (“I don’t know that we teach that…”). I’ve contended that the church needs to evolve to maintain its presence…and growth. I think Huntsman will speed that along as he needs to relate to the billions of Chinese folks…and represent this diverse country as well.

    The church will follow his lead.



  5. Kirk says:

    I believe that you are quite correct Rick. The LDS church has never done very well under close examination.

    On occasion, I work with various ecclesiastical groups that, over the years, have tried to reach-out to Mormon youth through various social / religious programs. One leader made the statement that current Mormons are desperately trying to portray themselves as Protestants: different, but mainstream in most of their Christian beliefs.

    Mormons truly are “peculiar” people. And not peculiar in the flattering, “wink wink” kind of way that they themselves believe.

    I have always maintained that truth will emerge as more information and enlightenment is obtained. Discussion and open dialog are good for truth. Unfortunately, truth is rarely good for the LDS church.


  6. Herb Marcuse says:

    Utah has to be the weirdest place in the known universe. It’s a place no one would want to live, but it’s nice to visit if you can handle inbred genetic defective religious fanatics.

    It won’t change anything, except drive normal people into the bars and make more freaks to look at on the street. Let’s face it, that’s one of the main reasons to go to Utah. It’s like one big huge sideshow at the circus.


  7. Amy says:

    “Discussion and open dialog are good for truth. Unfortunately, truth is rarely good for the LDS church.”

    ~~~ I LOVE THAT! LOL


  8. Kirk says:

    I just finished a series of lectures in Santiago, Chile themed around health and wellness issues for children. The audience consisted of mainly health department representatives from southern and Latin America. When the audience learned that I live in Utah, I was immediately bombarded with questions about Mormonism. As can be imagined, I’m not exactly a great PR tool for the Mormon Church in these situations. During after-hours discussions, I was cornered by a group of members and ex-members who were very interested in Bushman’s book, Rough Stone Rolling – written as an apologetic response to early church history. I have read and studied the book quite extensively over the past few months and still was a bit surprised over the reactions and emotions it generates. It is my belief that if this book had been written 50 years ago, Bushman would have been severely disciplined by the church and probably ripped apart by church membership. Seer stones, sleeping with other men’s wives, jail sentences, illegal banking practices, baptism into another religion by Joseph himself, covert lies and dealings concerning (but not limited to) polygamy??? Many LDS church members were demanding to know why their conversion lessons from missionaries were so very distorted from even the facts portrayed in this book. Keep in mind that Bushman is very active LDS, the book is sold in Deseret Book stores, and has had nothing but praise and positive acknowledgement from LDS hierarchy.

    The spin that Bushman puts on these topics is largely reflected in the title, and continued throughout the book as a main theme; Joseph isn’t perfect, but he improved over the years.

    Once again, the church is being forced into a position where it absolutely has to divulge the truth. Not because it wants to, but because the information is so accurate, and so very public that the church has no other alternative. The information age is a very sharp, double-edged sword. The LDS Church will only go as far as it is forced to go. Twenty years from now, there will be other data, other facts that will require other apologetic books. And this information will be absorbed slowly into the consciousness of Mormonism. As I have stated before, slow small doses of medication are easy to digest over long periods of time. Sensed become dulled. Pain is tolerated. But, if all of the information that has been publicly revealed today had been exposed 150 years ago, Mormonism would have died out quickly long ago, instead of the slow painful death it is experiencing today.


  9. Rick says:

    Yes Kirk, I think you hit the nail on the head. RSR is a very timely book…and much of the content disturbs many long-time members. But it strategically doses just enough information to stretch the members, but does the right amount of mental gymnastics to allow most members to keep their testimonies. We often hear of slowly cooking the frog in the frying pan compared to throwing it in to the boiling water — it immediately jumps back out. The members are having the heat turned up slowly…but they stay in.

    In my life, the emphasis has been dramatically changed from certain specific doctrines to “I don’t know that we teach that….”

    The specifics of church history and doctrines are de-emphasized in lieu of “pray, pay and obey, and all will be well….”

    Instead of SWK declaring at numerous temple dedications that the South American people ARE the Lamanites, now they are “among” the Lamanites…and their skin is no longer becoming more fair after they are baptized.

    Where we see these things as evidence of false prophets, and the inconsistencies and changing doctrines indicating no unique communication with an unchanging God, Mormons swallow the excuses made hook, line and sinker as trials of their faith…and unimportant. After all, they’ve had the “feeling.”

    Good thing the leadership isn’t in the business of dispensing Kool-Aid! I’m sure they’d have plenty of takers.



  10. Miss O says:

    Herb said my thoughts so I’ll keep this short… I pity those who never move out of Utah. There is a whole other world out there. We lived in UT for 4 years and would move to Iraq before moving back to Utardia. No more dodging the neighbors posting ward events on the doors, counting the church tops at any given point in a neighborhood (could always see atleast 4), the prevelence of inbreeding… oh the inbreeding, and I was able to lower my insurance coverage now that I don’t fear every other car on the road was willing to risk my life in order to get to their home teaching appointment before the month was over (note to self: stay off the roads on the last day of the month).

    Love your blog, and I can’t wait to read your books!
    Miss O


  11. Georgia says:

    Great post, Rick. When you pare it down to the very basics (leaving out the whole notrious polygamy history/Smith’s love of teenage girls) — the rest of the world will never be accept Mormonism because of 2 things: Secret temple weddings (that alienate families) and the silly garments. Years ago, members of my family were in a car accident. One TBM wearing garments was seriously injured. One “gentile” wasn’t wearing them but escaped unscathed. No one in that family wears the jammies anymore. And they’re all just fine.


  12. Rick says:

    Thanks Georgia. I think the leaders of the church are smarter than that though. What we see today as “unchangable doctrine” may be easily changed in a few decades.

    I completely agree that the things you mentioned make the church hard to take seriously by outsiders. So was polygamy. So was the racism in the church. I think it’s quite feasible, and even likely with the political aspirations of many church members, that the church will continue to evolve to be a much more normal religious institution. I’m even hearing that the BoM, BoA, etc, are being viewed by many members as pure metaphor, not historical. That’s a huge difference from my youth when LeGrande Richards was pounding the pulpit about the absolute truthiness of the Book of Mormon and its merger with the literal history of the Holy Bible….

    Time will tell.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s