Mormons and Communists: old men who have influenced my life

The Communist Party of China’s 18th Congress just wrapped and its new leaders have been anointed. As the New York Times says, “The line-up is stocked with conservatives and older officials.”

Gandering at their faces today, I kept having the nagging feeling that I’d seen this sort of older, all male, aggressively conservative photo-spread before.

And then it hit me: the Mormon Church’s leadership hierarchy.

I grew up in very Mormon Utah and, until the age of 9 or so, was raised Mormon. So, I spent formative years looking at church leadership photo-spreads like this:

Current leadership of the Mormon Church. (Photo source)

There is much in common between the two groups: The stiffly tidy haircuts. The conservative dark suits, white shirts and ties. The advanced age. The over-whelming maleness. The representation of a single ethnic group. Even the selection process for both groups is highly secretive and done behind closed doors.

Both groups also seem to have a thing for ridiculous over-sized show-chairs:

Then Vice President Xi Jinping in an oversized chair. (Photo source)

The Mormon Church’s First Presidency sitting in oversized chairs. (Photo source)

And both of these groups of old, “chosen” men (and their predecessors) have shaped my own life in small ways.

To the Mormons, I give credit for:

  • The small flash of deviance I feel when ordering a glass of wine or a cup of coffee when visiting Utah.
  • My verbal tick of still occasionally substituting “heck” for “hell.”
  • The song, “Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked, and walked and walked….” that I sing to my daughter when she starts whining about being tired.

To the Communist Party of China, I give credit for:

  • The small flash of deviance I feel when looking at Facebook in Mainland China.
  • My love of simplified Chinese characters to the horror of many Hongkongers.
  • The regular flashbacks I have of China’s National Anthem, “March of the Volunteers,” which I heard played three times per day when I lived behind a secondary school in Zhuhai.

What about you? What groups of old, mono-ethnic men have shaped your life in surprising ways?

17 responses to “Mormons and Communists: old men who have influenced my life

  1. This brings back lots of childhood memories. I grew up with Protestant parents (with a Buddhist grandma to boot). Attended 12 years of Catholic schools spending lots of time with old Portuguese Jesuit priests. Been baptized as a Mormon with my dad and brothers at age of nine thanks to some very earnest young LDS missionaries. But I no longer practice in any kind of religion as I lost faith in organized religion over the years. My dad did mention the best he got out of Mormonism was kicking the habit of drinking and smoking. About the part of donating one-tenth of his income, not so much 🙂

    I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between the modern day Chinese National Anthem video and the ones of early years. We’d likely to see endless shots of stern-faced men and women with unisex uniform marching in lockstep while the music plays on in the ones of old. This modern day version looks and sounds more like a tourism promotional video.

    • Piece by piece, I slowly figure you out Sundanze…but I would have never guessed you were a baptized (but now non-practicing) Mormon! Much of my extended family is Mormon and I’ve had enough of organized religion to last a lifetime… But still not the mix that you’ve had!

      As for the Anthem video, of the top pics on YouTube, I just picked the “plainest.” Here is one that is more like what you remember:

  2. I love this post. For some reason it made me want to drink a Coke.

    Add to the comparison the leaders of most corporate entities. Definitely anything in the defense industry.

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