I’m proud to be a Utahn. It’s vital to my public persona, but I’m as much of a homer in private. It’s just a place (some say the place). And yet—like a farmer who has to be up at dawn—I can talk about the 45th state well into the night.

I like that we’re seen as peculiar people. Heck, we are peculiar. I’ll concede Austin has weird on lock, but I’d bet my last buffalo nickel more tourists look at each other and say, “huh, that’s odd” in Utah than in any other state.

I don’t know how much fiction’s blended with fact, but the FX television series “Under The Banner Of Heaven” isn’t doing The Beehive State any favors. For example, on the fact-checking front, I’m not sure it’s legal for a family sans the surname Huntsman or Eccles to be referred to as the “Kennedys of Utah.”

I like Detective Jeb Pyre. Maybe because Andrew Garfield is an incredible actor, or perhaps because ol’ Jeb reminds me of a person or two. Either way, I like him. He’s got a good head on his shoulders.

I haven’t spent much time delving into what parts of “Under The Banner Of Heaven” are true or false, but I have been thinking about the environment I grew up in. The traditions passed from generation to generation until their weight arrived on my shoulders.

So I wrote a poem.


Mormon Tradition

I wonder what Brigham would think if he were alive today.
Would he still think this is the place or point his wagon a different way?
Does it even matter what the old man would think?
His name on that school seems to be on the brink.

It was Lilburn Boggs who called for extermination.
He said Mormon outrages were beyond all description.
He told General Clark to hasten the operation with all possible speed;
Clark said there’d be no mercy as he carried out the deed.

I guess things worked out for the best—
From Missouri to Nauvoo to a desert in the west.
Not sure if those old-timers would see it that way,
But now we’ve got tall buildings to sit in all day.

Would they be proud of our booming economy?
Or would they grieve our lack of harmony?
Some ask who these men are to judge or slander;
Not like they meet today’s standards.

How should we think of our ancestors of lore?
Is it worth remembering what they died for?
Are they wondering how we took their plot and lost it?
Can they believe this is what followed the murder of a prophet?

Do they feel guilty about Mountain Meadows?
Do they regret not giving the priesthood to all fellows?
How much wisdom is in that word anyway?
Old Port wouldn’t let ‘em take his whiskey away.

It would’ve been a hell of a thing to be driven astray.
Just try coming away from that journey unscathed.
Maybe that’s why some traditions are too strong to shake.
It’s hard to forget the peril your ancestors faced.

The generations to come will look back at us with befuddlement
Because we’re all imperfect products of our environment.
I don’t know what’s true or what to believe,
And you don’t know either, no matter how loud you scream.