s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Utah Mormon stereotypes examined: #2 Release time seminary

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Utah Mormon stereotypes examined: #2 Release time seminary

When fellow BYU students found out I was from Utah, some of them would start in with the snarky comments about release time seminary.

As luck would have it, I did attend early morning seminary, even though I grew up in Provo. Attending a small private school in the middle of Happy Valley meant that I had the unlikely combination of early morning seminary and a CES instructor. I would correct the comments of the snarky students, but then they'd usually follow up with "How early?"

I don't remember the exact time it started, but I don't think it was terribly early. (The private school paradox again intervened, meaning that we could hold seminary classes in our regular classrooms, since we didn't have to worry about church / state separation issues.)

For what it's worth, I don't happen to believe that righteousness is correlated with the start time of early morning seminary, and I'm not terribly impressed with anyone who tries to make a self-righteous contest out of it. (Also, with the amount of extra sleep that teenagers need, I'm not convinced that I support the idea of early morning seminary, at all, to be honest.) However, if you non-Utahns are still smarting from the injustice of your adolescent matutinal sacrifice, you may be comforted to know that
an informal survey suggests that most early-morning attenders had a better experience, overall, than their snooze-button-hitting CES peers.


At April 15, 2008 10:32 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Whatever. I'm totally better than you for going earlier.

At April 16, 2008 8:55 AM, Blogger Katya said...


At April 16, 2008 11:20 AM, Blogger Confuzzled said...

Interesting. I don't think I ever got snarky comments about early morning seminary. And silly me--I always thought it was like everything else: you get return based on the effort you make, regardless of what time you make the effort.

At April 16, 2008 2:25 PM, Blogger Katya said...

confuzzled - Well, there's a lot to be said for making an effort, but I've known and heard of plenty of seminary instructors who made getting any kind of positive return difficult.

At April 17, 2008 6:52 PM, Blogger The Dancing Newt said...

Hahaha... I barely put in an effort, barely graduated, and probably barely got anything out of it. I was totally in it for the free breakfast (we rotated by family by week). No shame, I tell you.

At April 18, 2008 12:51 AM, Blogger Th. said...


Early-morning seminary was great, I think. I actually remember almost nothing. It was early in the morning, you see.

At April 18, 2008 3:53 PM, Blogger Petra said...

Well, I was going to say that I barely put in an effort, barely graduated, probably barely got anything out of it, and was only in it for the free breakfast, but apparently The Dancing Newt got there first. Can you tell we attended the same seminary class?

(Oh, and TDN, remember how many teachers we went through? Wasn't it something like nine or two years, or some other ridiculous number?)

At April 19, 2008 2:49 AM, Blogger Ginsberg said...

I'm mostly interested in this whole, "I'm not from Utah, so I'm better than you" ethos. I'm sure I've used it myself. ("Oh, you're from Idaho. That's pretty much the same thing as Utah. . ." "No. EASTERN Idaho is SORT of the same thing as Utah and I am from WESTERN Idaho. Only 20% (wow, that STAGGERINGLY low!) of my high school were members of the church. . .")

People here in Kansas and people I met at BYU use "Utah Mormon" as a pejorative term, as if it meant something. Everytime I hear this term I think to myself, "Man you should meet some of MY 'Utah Mormons.' I've known Utah Mormons that would probably scare your early-morning-seminary-lovin' hide back to (Upstate New York). Yeah, that's right, you're not cool enough to be in the same room with them."

Sorry about the obnoxious length of this post. Perhaps I should get my own blog. Keep these "Utah Mormon" posts coming, Katya.

At April 19, 2008 2:57 PM, Blogger The Dancing Newt said...

I have a vague memory of one of them having a breakdown or something... her husband had to come in and teach?

We were not THAT bad, were we?

At May 05, 2008 12:39 PM, Blogger Zillah said...

I would have leapt at the chance to get out of bed at 5 in the morning just to avoid the pathological insanity and creepiness of the majority of my professional seminary teachers. So, so weird.

At May 07, 2008 7:26 PM, Blogger e said...

I grew up in Provo and had release time seminary. Some of the teachers were nice, few were interesting, just about zero covered the actual gospel. Many students skipped class in favor of an extra long lunch break, early-out day everyday, etc.

My husband grew up in rural Texas where early morning seminary was 40 minutes away in a neighboring town. He did "packets" instead, which really means procrastinating to the end of the semester and then disliking the load of worksheets to be done.

Last weekend we house-sat and kept an eye on 3 teen boys: very studious, upstanding Mormon boys living in Virginia. They get up at 5:30am for seminary. They stay up till 11pm doing homework, practicing the piano/trumpet, and doing chores. These growing boys are getting 6.5 hours of sleep a night on a good night. Teenagers NEED at least 8 hours of sleep, which is why many schools have trended toward later start times.

Moral of the story: My husband and I will be teaching our kids the gospel without the aid of useless release time seminary teachers, a stack of worksheets, or sleep deprivation. Because a seminary diploma under any of those circumstances is either meaningless or not worth it.

And agreed with Zillah, "professional" seminary teachers have a high rate of creepiness in their ranks.

At May 08, 2008 7:55 AM, Blogger Katya said...

e - What about the fact that Church schools (or BYU, at least) require 3 years of seminary for admissions? Will your kids just be out of luck if they want to go to a Church school? (Not that I disagree with your points; I'm just playing a bit of devil's advocate.)


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