Although I now live in the midwest, I'm a Utah Mormon. Born there, raised there, lived there for the first thirty-five years of my life. Growing up I would occasionally hear comments about church members outside of Utah (you know, in the mission field! Ooo, exotic!).
After moving to the midwest, I began to notice occasional remarks about Utah Mormons. Probably no more than I'd heard about saints in the "mission field", but being a Utah Mormon, I paid more attention.
For example, not long after my move to the midwest, a truly sweet lady told me she'd heard that Mormons in Utah don't even DO their visiting teaching! She was aghast and wondered if it was really true. It was after that conversation that I began to think in earnest about the issue and pay attention to the stereotypes.
My conclusion, after exhaustive research and study (okay, after mulling the issue over for some time) is that saints are the same regardless of where you live. Shrewd , huh?
In every ward I've lived there have been three types of people. These are my classifications, and may be lacking. If you disagree, write your own post! (Or comment on mine) The following will surely seem judgemental, and probably is. It should also be noted that the classifications are not strict divisions, but more like markers on a continuum. There may be more members between the classifications than actually in them.
People in all three groups attend church meetings on a regular basis, and, I would assume, have testimonies of the gospel.
Here are the three categories:
1. High yield, low maintenance saints (I stole this phrase from a conference talk, but can't remember who said it. My vague memory is that it was Elder Maxwell, but I didn't bother to look it up). From my experience, every ward, whether inside of Utah or out, has a core of workhorse members. Those that give in abundance (at least of their time, and talents, I've never been privy to tithing receipts) and ask for little if anything in return. They work through all but the biggest of their own trials without thinking of asking the ward for help. They are the ones who step up and act when others have a need, accept whatever callings come their way and serve without fanfare. That their testimonies are deep and abiding is evidenced by the way they live quiet lives of service.
2. Luke warmish saints. These are members who, though active, can't necessarily be counted on to follow through when it comes to service. They serve well and lovingly at times, but frequently aren't willing to put forth the effort. (As I write this, my lack of visiting teaching so far this month nags at my conscience). I've known more than one person who started out luke warm and ended up being high yield, low maintenance.
3. High maintenance, low yield saints (reversed the phrase from the conference all by myself!) These are ward members that are repeatedly in need and tend to loudly make their needs known while expecting a crew to come and get them out of their fix. They infrequently are on the giving end of service, but expect to be on the recieving end on a continual basis. I'm not talking about hard working families that have fallen on hard times and, while doing all they can, still need help. These are saints who expect others to do the heavy lifting whenever they're in a bind. I'm happy to say that this group is the smallest of the three.
I've lived in ten wards and each has had individuals running the entire spectrum. I believe that all three groups are necessary. We learn and grow as we interact with each other. And interacting with whiners in a Christ-like manner helps us grow in ways that interacting with fab, fun, folk simply doesn't.
Give me your thoughts. Do you think people are different inside and outside of Mormondom?