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Sunday, October 31, 2010

How Corporatism Has Undermined and Subverted The Church of Jesus Christ

When I was released from my mission in Independence, Missouri, my family was on hand to pick me up in their new RV. After tooling around the country for a bit, we stayed a few weeks in Salt Lake City before returning home to Anaheim.

Wandering alone one day around Temple Square, I found myself no longer sure what I wanted to do for a living. I had always planned to go back to work at Disneyland, but already I was missing the structured life of a missionary, where every day had purpose because it was spent in meaningful religious service.

I soon found myself looking up at the imposing Church Office Building.  How would it be, I wondered, to work in there, in close proximity to the most spiritual men on the earth? Perhaps I could get a good job in the city, workin' for the Lord every night and day.

"Quickest way to lose your testimony."

Those were the words of the wife of a friend of mine some years later. She had spent a good part of her life as some sort of an assistant to some other assistant to some General Authority, and boy, was she jaded. She assured me that life in the COB -that's short for Church Office Building- was like that old line about watching sausage being made. You really don't want to see it.

I've since heard similar tales of warning from others who have gotten too close to the Morg.  Former employees of the Church can sure be a cynical bunch.

And now comes Daymon Smith with a newly published memoir of his experiences as an employee at the COB. But Smith's account is more than mere memoir; though a bit scatter-shot in execution, I'd rank it among the top Ten essential histories of the modern LDS Church. What Smith uncovered in his research is that the corporation at the top of what we think of as the LDS church actually spends an inordinate amount of its time serving not God, but Mammon. And too often that Mammon-serving is wrapped up and presented as Godly service when sometimes it is anything but. 

Don't Hire A Digger If You Don't Want Nothin' Dug

For some reason Church headquarters decided they needed an anthropologist in the building, so they hired Daymon Smith, a latter-day Saint with a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He had written a 500 page dissertation on some under-discussed facets of Mormon history that nobody at the COB seems to have bothered to read. Maybe they should have, because they would have learned that Smith was an extremely curious and thorough researcher with a knack for uncovering hidden goings-on that most of us in the church had no inkling of.

Smith's new book is titled The Book of Mammon: A Book About A Book About The Corporation That Owns The Mormons. If you had no idea before now that the Church was actually owned by a corporation, read on.  It gets worse. 

And if you harbor the happy illusion that all Church policy is the result of prayerful consideration by the general authorities, be prepared to have those illusions shattered. Much of what has been handed down to us in the way of “inspired” Church programs originated in Marketing or some other department of the Church Office Building and was later approved by the G.A.'s.

I'll give you two examples. 
 
Remember when the church trotted out the new scriptures back in 1981? Someone at the COB thought it would be helpful if all the standard works could be coordinated with matching fonts, then tied together with footnotes and cross references. So amidst much fanfare, the Church announced a new era of personal scripture study. The diligent LDS reader could now find prepackaged scholarship on every page.

But as most of us know by now, anyone hoping to actually learn anything by following those footnotes soon finds himself going in a circle. That's because what they did at the COB was mostly just feed the scriptures into a computer (this was the late 1970's, when computers were magic), and whenever the computer found a word in the Bible that also appears in the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, that word is footnoted and cross-referenced, no matter how irrelevant or inaccurate in its meaning. Inaccuracies also abound in the chapter headings, which summarize concepts not always found within the scriptures they are  describing. These chapter headings were written by a committee headed by Bruce McConkie. As if I need say anything more about that.

You're way better off with a copy of Strong's Concordance by your side and a good set of commentaries.

But the COB really pulled out all the stops in the marketing of this new Quad. Articles appeared in the Church News and The Ensign, and speakers at general conference touted all the reasons you just had to have a copy of your own if you were going to be in with the in crowd.

The problem, though, was that for most members, this new set of scriptures was prohibitively expensive. Depending on which size volumes you chose or the color of fine leather cover you picked, your desire to walk into the chapel toting the latest in up-to-the minute must-have accessories could end up costing you as much as a hundred bucks.

Less expensive editions were available, of course, but the guy in charge of Deseret Book, the chain of bookstores owned by the Church, didn't want the membership to know about the availability of the cheaper volumes because Deseret Book -that is, the Church- didn't make any money on those. If the corporate Church was going to skin the rubes -excuse me, I mean “serve the membership,” they were going to have to downplay the availability of the cheaper editions.

Which is what they did, talking up only the super-duper deluxe editions and keeping the others hidden in a back room of the store.

I recall paying $90.00 for my bible and Triple Combination back in a day when I used to have that kind of money to throw around. Still, I remember that we couldn't really afford to get a second set for Connie at the time. We could only afford new scriptures for one of us, and since I was the priesthood holder it wasn't even up for discussion which one of us was going to get them.

After the Church pulled in a couple of million dollars selling the books to the more affluent members, they finally let it leak that you could buy a less extravagantly bound set for around fourteen bucks. Today if you're a new convert, the bishop will just hand you a set for free.

Flooding The Warehouse With The Book of Mormon

About this time Church headquarters also sent an announcement to all the mission presidents that a new improved edition of the Book of Mormon was being readied for handing out to investigators. It was going to have more features and be more attractive, and therefore hopefully be a better conversion tool for use by the missionaries.

But first they had to figure out a way to get rid of those millions of old copies of the Book of Mormon just sitting in warehouses. They tried to palm these off on the mission presidents, but unfortunately marketing had done such a good job of promoting the new editions that the mission presidents said, “No thanks, we have plenty.  We'll just wait for the new ones to come out.”

This lack of cooperation by the mission presidents created a dilemma because of the weird way things are done at Church headquarters. The various departments of the Church are constantly shifting money back and forth to each other, so the way accounting takes place at the COB is completely kooky, if not downright incestuous. Even though departments spend the Church money on each other, each department wants its bottom line to look good to the higher-ups, so the Church has a way of conducting business that would make no sense to an outsider.

For instance, from the money the Church collects in tithing, it doles out some of that money to the various missions around the world to finance the operations of those missions. The mission presidents then turn right around and spend a good chunk of that money purchasing materials from the Church, which is the very same entity that just gave them that money to begin with.

Why doesn't the Church just give the materials to the missions? Because then the printing department would show a loss. They would not have gotten “paid” for the materials used by the missions.  And the printing department of the Church would not look good to the general authorities who review their books at the end of the year if their books showed they had lost money for the Church.

(You may be catching on here that the corporate Church is a hopeless bureaucracy. Let's just say it's worse than you can possibly imagine.)

So Church headquarters had a problem with its excess inventory. Before they could even think about printing millions of new missionary editions of the Book of Mormon, they had to get rid of warehouses full of the old ones. They couldn't sell them to the missions, because the missions weren't buying. The missions would accept the books for free, of course, but that would reflect a loss to the Church. They couldn't throw them away or even give them away to members for the same reason.

Hold on a minute. What was that about giving them away to members?

Some hot shot genius in the Marketing Department came up with an idea. What if we could get the members to actually buy all those books from us?

And so was born the Family to Family program. And it was a corker. Here's how it worked.

What you did was purchase a quantity of the books from the Church, then inside the front cover you would place a picture of your family along with a short note containing your testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it had enriched your life and the lives of your family. Those books would then be given to your local missionaries, or sent back to Church headquarters which would send them to foreign missionaries, and you would have a direct hand in bringing the gospel to people you never met. It lent a personal touch to missionary work, and well, you never knew what effect your testimony might have on some far away family in say, France or Minnesota.

The program was a resounding success. The Church promoted the program with an extensive campaign of ads, letters, fliers, and articles in the Ensign and the Church News. Talks were given in conference encouraging the membership to “flood the earth with the Book of Mormon,” and that phrase became the promotional tag line for the program.

By 1990, 6.5 million Books of Mormon were sold to the membership of the church, a total, reports Smith, “that approximates the same number of Mormons on record that year.”

Not all of those books ended up in the hands of missionaries and investigators. Cases of the books still sit today in the backs of well-meaning member's closets. Many books ended up years later donated to D.I. There was such a glut of them at some of the mission offices that they ended up just stored in the basement and forgotten until the new editions arrived and were given out instead.

But the guys at the COB got all of those unwanted books out of the warehouses, and that was the point of the whole thing, after all.

Our family participated in the program, and I remember thinking at the time how inspired it was. But the Family to Family program wasn't inspired from on high in the way I was conditioned to think these things occurred. The idea had come because the Church needed to rid itself of a bunch of unwanted inventory, and some mid-level employee came up with a way to do it while making a buck off the membership.

It was a brilliant con. I had paid for the printing of those books originally when I sent in my tithing money. Now the Church got me to pay again to buy them back. Somebody at the Church Office Building was patting himself on the back.

Inspired? It was inspired alright. Inspired in the same way Old Spice was inspired recently to come up with that suave new Man on a Horse campaign to move a lot of old product nobody wants because it makes you smell like your grandpa. 
 
The Vanishing LDS Church

Without a doubt the most startling discovery in Daymon Smith's book is his revelation that the church that Joseph Smith established in 1830 no longer even exists. At all.

What we think of as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says Smith, operates today as a mere trademark of the corporation that owns the name to it. The actual church that used to go by that name, and which claims Jesus Christ as its head, does not exist today in any legally recognized form.

I realize that sounds impossible for some people to grasp. Well, I'm here to help.

As it so happens, I know something about corporate law as it applies to churches, so allow me to back up a bit here and give you a quick crash course so you can understand how a government chartered corporation can own a church that no longer even exists. I promise to make it easy to understand.


Corpus Descriptum  
(See, it's getting easier already!)

A corporation is an organization chartered by the state and given many legal rights separate from its owners. You with me so far? Didn't think so.

Okay, think of Frankenstein's monster. No, scratch that. Too evil.

Think of a robot that you and your friends control. It has no brain and no soul, but it can walk around and pick things up; it can do stuff for you. That's a corporation. It can do stuff for you.

Except unlike a robot, a corporation has no actual form. No body. No robot hands or robot feet. So if you can visualize a robot that has no mechanical parts, you're close to mastering the concept. A corporation is an entity. What is an entity? It's a thing. What is a thing? It's an entity.

Welcome to the world of law.

A corporation is an entity that you cannot touch. It is neither inherently good nor inherently evil, but it has a life of its own, and if the batteries are good, that robot can live on after you and your friends are dead and gone. Sometimes that can be a problem. Originally corporations in America were not meant to outlive their creators. Today they do.

One of the biggest problems with a corporation is that under the law, a corporation is actually considered a “person.” That's why it is often defined as a legal fiction. That is, this “person” is legal, but he isn't real. It's a fictional person. It isn't flesh and blood. It has no soul.

And that's the rub. Although it is treated like one, a corporation is not a human being, and usually no real live person within a corporation can be legally held responsible for the harm a corporation might do. The corporation can be fined, but that fine is usually absorbed by the stockholders. The board member's salaries remain sacrosanct.

Indeed, the directors of a corporation can, in a way, transfer their sins to the corporation, which will absorb them without much consequence. In the words of the British Baron Edward Thurlow, the problem with corporations is “they have no soul to save, nor body to incarcerate.”

Most tellingly, a corporation is not something that can stand accountable before God. So if you believe in the doctrine of personal accountability, you can see the crack in the plan right there.

The American colonists were particularly leery of corporations because England's East India Company had in many ways become more powerful than England herself, and was a prime instigator behind England's imperialist ambitions.

When our country was young, there were very few corporations in existence here; when one did appear, it was for the purpose of accomplishing something monumental. Charters were granted for a specific purpose and always for a limited time. The construction of the Erie Canal is one example of the granting of an early American corporation. When the canal was finished being built, the founding corporation expired, as all corporations were meant to.

Corporations certainly weren't the common mode of doing business that they are now. And as far as churches went, incorporation was simply not done, as a corporation derives its existence and all of its power from the state.

Since Jesus Christ is the head of the church, it would be incompatible for a church to petition the government for permission to exist. The church, as Paul taught, is the body of Christ. He governs it with His laws, principles, and directions. It is not subject to man's laws. No Christian pastor in colonial times would have thought to place his church under political control.

As the Supreme Court explained in the case of Hale v. Hinkle:

"A corporation is a creature of the state...It receives certain special privileges and franchises and holds them subject to the laws of the state and the limitation of its charter. Its powers are limited by law. It can make no contract not authorized by its charter. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it so long as it obeys the laws of its creation. There is a reserved right in the legislature to investigate its contracts and ascertain if it has exceeded its powers" (Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43)

"Corporate existence,” according to Roberson's Business Law, “is a privilege granted by the sovereign upon compliance with specified conditions."

So that's a problem for any church that gets a hankering to incorporate, because in the church, Jesus Christ is supposed to be the sovereign. When application is made to incorporate a church, the will of Jesus Christ becomes subordinate to the will of the state. "For a church to become a corporation,” goes the maxim, “in effect divorces the church from Christ.”

All of this incorporating of churches is unnecessary in America anyway, because churches automatically operate in a sphere separate from the state. Governments have no jurisdiction in the church whatsoever. There is no tax advantage for a church to incorporate, as some mistakenly believe. But there is if that “Church” actually wants to operate as a business. Then it can trade its sovereignty in exchange for special privileges granted by the government.

Which is what the President of what used to be the LDS church did in 1923. 
 
How We Waived Our Sovereignty

Back in 1887, the church found itself in a famous staring contest with the federal government, and our side blinked. The United States Congress punished us by dissolving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and seizing all of its assets, including the Salt Lake temple and all of temple square.

Whether the government actually had the authority to do all this is a question for another time, but in 1890 the Supreme Court upheld the dissolution, and the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a legal entity, simply ceased to exist. We had to do a lot of serious butt-kissing just to get our stuff back, but there was no question that the church itself was not returning any time soon. At least not in any form Joseph Smith would have recognized. Or Jesus Christ, for that matter.

Serving God And Mammon

Although a corporation is a person without a soul, corporations do retain at least one characteristic of a real person. Just like you and me, they tend to want to continue to exist. For most corporations, staying alive means bringing in money. Continually.

Which brings us back to Dr. Daymon Smith. For as Smith points out, it wasn't so much polygamy that brought the ire of the nation down upon the heads of the Mormons. That was just the cover story fed to the masses back east to stir up the public, much as the government today keeps the populace in fear of cave-dwelling boogie men in order to justify its adventures overseas and its abrogations here at home.  

Did you really think that President Buchanan would send the United States Army half-way across the desert to stop a handful of hick farmers from sleeping with extra women?

No, the problem with the Mormons, as Daymon Smith reminds us, was “their theocratic control over politics, economics, and resources in the west.” This uppity Mormon empire was becoming a viable threat to the Eastern banking establishment, railroad tycoons, and ambitious politicians.

But you can't send out the army because the Eastern money men don't like competition. So you get the press to stir up the American people against those scary-bad polygamists and before long you have America demanding the army go and put a stop to this barbarism. Let's show those desert-dwelling rubes they can't thumb their noses at Uncle Sam!

The fact is, the Mormon church by the 1880's was becoming an economic force to be reckoned with. Not only was it threatening the Eastern money men, it was also threatening the peace within the church, as members of the Twelve argued constantly among themselves about -you guessed it- money.

The Twelve Apostles were now much too busy to to go forth throughout the world and spread the good news of Christ. They had to stay home and spend all their time managing literally hundreds of church owned businesses. It was virtually impossible by this time to find where the division lay between ecclesiastical and monetary interests. Apparently God himself couldn't help getting in on the action, as He kept coming up with hot investment tips to pass on to his servants. According to historian Michael Quinn:

"In1870 Brigham Young publicly announced a revelation for Mormons to invest in a railroad. In 1881 John Taylor privately dictated a revelation to organize an iron company, and in 1883 another revelation to invest tithing funds in a gold mine. In the 1890's the hierarchy gave certain men the religious 'calling' or obligation to invest thousands of dollars each in a sugar company.”
This focus on the financial over the spiritual was starting to take its toll on the Church. Brigham Young, Jr. felt it had all gone too far. “There is too much time given to Corporations, stocks, bonds, policies, etc. by our leaders to please me,” he wrote in his diary, “We are in all kinds of business interests. Even the members of the Twelve represent businesses which are jealous of each other and almost ready to fight each other.”

How I Love Ya, How I Love Ya, My Dear Old Mammon

After the bust-up of 1890, and after bowing and scraping to their government masters so that they could retain some of their assets, the Church hierarchy eventually made peace with Babylon. As the saying goes, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.”

With only a hint of exaggeration, Daymon Smith cheekily summarizes the situation:
"No longer members of any legally recognized religion, Mormons organized a focus group to re-brand their identity. So they called around to some California railroad lobbyists, New York ad-men, and brainstormed and out-paradigm-shifted a totally innovational re-branding of Mormonism.”
"The Trustee thus offered bonds to Eastern bankers with the promised collateral being the Mormons themselves."
The Mormon people, you see, had untapped value: a sense of community, a uniquely productive work ethic, and best of all, a built-in propensity to be obedient to authorities.
These Mormons were made to order. The Mormon leaders offered up the future tithes of the Mormon people as guarantees against their investments. The members of what used to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be unwitting cash cows for the benefit of their leaders. And the leaders of what used to be that church were now climbing into bed with the whore of Babylon.

Catholic Pope, Meet The Mormon Pope

Some time around 1900, the office of Trustee-in-Trust was reformed, then a few years later the financial interests of the "Church" were protected under the “Corporation of the Presiding Bishop.” Finally in 1923, church lawyers found The Holy Grail: a rare, little known, and hardly ever used mode of incorporation known as The Corporation Sole.

Virtually unknown in America, and tracing its origins to ancient Roman law, the corporation sole was the way the vast riches of the Holy Catholic Church had been protected under Emperor Constantine. All financial power was vested in one man -in their case the pope, in our case, the prophet.

Or, as he was named in the corporate charter, “the President.” The word “Prophet” doesn't appear in the charter. This wasn't a real church, after all. It was just a way for the leadership of the, ahem, "Church” (wink, wink) to control the member's money.

In the original LDS church from the time of Joseph Smith, all members were considered of equal worth. They were called “members” because in the ancient church the scriptures called them “members of the body of Christ.” All parts were of equal importance to the Lord. You know the words of Paul in 1st Corinthians 12: “The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you.”

Likewise church property bought with member's tithing was considered held in common by all the members of the church, with common consent required for the purchase or disbursement of that common property.

But not anymore. Under the corporation sole, the head could tell the feet to go take a hike. The president of the church could do whatever the hell he wanted with the member's money without asking permission from the members whatsoever. It's spelled out right there in the charter. The president of the corporation needs no authorization from any mere member of the Lord's church. No show of hands, no vote, no “all in favor please manifest.” Like the Pope, his power is absolute. He is the Sole Brother.

Also written into the charter of the Corporation of the President as amended was how the line of succession was to operate within the Church. In order for there to be no question as to who held the purse strings following the death of the president (the “Sole” in a ”Sole Corporation”), the Senior Apostle automatically becomes the next president of the Corporation.

You thought somehow God maneuvered certain chosen men into these callings over the years so that they would one day be at the head of the line at the exact moment when God was ready to call them as the next prophet? You are so naïve.

The line of succession is outlined in the state approved charter. God's will isn't mentioned anywhere in it.

Systemic Within The Body

Now, I don't want to leave you with the impression that I see the general authorities of the Church as a group of sinister businessmen gleefully rubbing their hands together plotting their next takeover.

Far from it. I believe those men take very seriously their commitment to doing good works. They try very hard to be worthy of their responsibilities, and I'm positive they pray for guidance daily. With the obvious exception of Boyd K. Packer, none of these men is inherently evil. On the contrary, most of them are exceptionally good and fine men.

As Paul James Toscano has said, individually the general authorities of the Church are fine and wonderful people. “The problem,” he says, “is that when they get together, they act like a corporation.”

Exactly. It's not so much the people within the system, it is the system itself. This Church is a corporation. It is chartered as a corporation, and it behaves like a corporation. Before they were called to their positions of leadership within the Church, most of these men made their livings as lawyers and businessmen in the corporate world. Not in the last hundred years can I think of an actual theologian who has been invited to join their ranks. They are in these positions because the talents and skills they developed on the outside are needed on the inside.

When each of them came aboard to serve in this corporation, even though they believe it is ecclesiastical in nature, they soon learned that things are run here very much the way things were run in the corporate world they left.

Thus, the areas that the corporate Church tends to focus on are, by and large, the same things any corporation lends its attention to: Growth, Image, and Control.

Especially damage control to its image. Notice that in the early LDS church, the spokesman for the church was called a Prophet. Today the press is continually quoting a “church spokesman” who turns out to be someone from the Public Relations Department.

That is how a corporation works. It is not what we expect from a church that claims Jesus Christ as its head. If Jesus Christ was still the head of this church, He would have his spokesman speak for His church, not some flunky from the PR department whose job it is to act as a buffer to protect the prophet from embarrassment. 

Those Were The Days, My Friends

Let's take a look at the way things used to be in the church in my own lifetime.  Things were pretty good for a Mormon boy growing up in a California ward. We met three times each Sunday, and went home for a long break between Sunday School and Sacrament. Each ward was a self-contained community of believers where we all knew one another. Most of the stuff we did, we did together as a ward.

Although I'd never been to Utah, I was aware that the church had headquarters there, but I didn't think much about it as the bureaucracy's reach was not noticeable all the way to the Anaheim First Ward. Church to me meant the building at Euclid and Broadway, and it meant the people who met in that building with me.

And that simple description is pretty much what “church” meant not only to the early latter-day Saints, but to the original first century Saints also.

As the shepherds of their wards, Bishops had a lot of autonomy in the old days. Fast offerings were collected, then disbursed among the needy in the wards they were collected in. If there wasn't enough in the fast offering fund, a bishop would supplement it from the tithing collected in his ward. As bishop, he had fiduciary trust and a certain amount of discretion with the funds. The money was collected from his congregation, and much of it was used there. What wasn't needed locally was sent on to Salt Lake where it was assumed most of it would be used to help other people within and without the church.

When I was a kid, the ward held bazaars and rummage sales to earn additional money so we could hold ward dinners and parties and such, all which added to our sense of community. We competed with other wards and stakes by putting on Road Shows, which were hokey little mini-musicals we wrote ourselves. Bishops were usually avuncular old men who knew the gospel pretty well.

Rise Of The Institutional Church

In 1961 Church headquarters announced a new program that it called “Correlation.” This new way of doing things was introduced in conference by apostle Harold B. Lee. It was described as a benefit, sold as a way to coordinate and unify all the various programs of the church.

What it ended up being was a stifling means of control, not only of individual wards, but also of many individual members. The policies of correlation took decades to fully implement, and most of us didn't even notice the subtle changes. Although it was begun during the administration of President David. O. Mckay, it has since been learned that President McKay neither implemented nor controlled the program, and on at least two occasions he expressed concerns about it privately. Still, the Correlation juggernaut continued on for the next four decades.

Correlation represented a gradual and subtle shift in the way the church came to be governed at all levels. What it resulted in was top-down control of the church and its members. Like the frog in the pot, few members really noticed what was happening to their church until it was fully cooked.

Even I don't remember the exact moment I realized the meaning of the word “church” had changed for me. But at some point, without realizing it, when I spoke of “the church,” I was no longer referring to the place I went on Sunday to worship; I was now subconsciously referencing a monolithic institution headquartered in Salt Lake City and controlled by an accordant group of men in dark suits.

Where previously friends and I might have perhaps wondered what the scriptures said about this question or that, now we found ourselves asking, “What has The Church said about it?” or “What is The Church's position on that?” We spoke as if “The Church” was, if not God himself, some commensurate entity that existed on its own, separate from the Creator, but somehow equal in authority to Him.

Why They Canceled Roadshows
Gone by this time were the Roadshows, because the central authority couldn't trust us hippie teenagers not to write some funny bit into the script that someone might find inappropriate. Gone also were the fun church bazaars, rummage sales, and pancake breakfasts. With them went many of the extracurricular activities, other than scouting and some tightly controlled dances.

Gradually there was not much to do outside of Church on Sunday, and those meetings were crammed all together into three hours of stultifying boredom that was so unbearable that as soon as church was over no one felt like staying around to visit. After church you just wanted to get home. Since ward members no longer lingered, they didn't get to know each other well, and the sense of community in many wards began to weaken.

"The Church” whatever that used to mean, was now morphing into some kind of giant monolithic authority. “Church” no longer meant us, the aggregate community of believing Saints. The Church was now THE CHURCH.TM  The Great I Am.

Bishops now tended to be chosen more for their administrative skills than for their deep knowledge of the gospel and love for others. It was no longer so important that such men knew how to shepherd the flock. What the ChurchTM needs today is someone who can “run the ward.” We need managers. Go-getters. High achievers.

Daymon Smith quotes a department head relating an odd inversion of charity occurring on the local level throughout the church. Rather than fulfilling their chief duty of tending to the poor and needy, these bishops believe "that they're expected to keep expenditures as low as possible. There is a sense of pride among bishops and stake presidents who send fast offerings from their units to the general Church.”

The New Mormon Church

I may not have recognized the frog as it was boiling, but Dr. Smith gives us the exact date it finished cooking. January 1st 1990 was the day the ChurchTM dropped all pretenses.

From that day on, it was announced, all tithing monies collected from local congregations would be sent directly to Church headquarters, and the Church would then dispense a portion back to the wards. This was all sold as a more efficient way of running things. But it turned the traditional church of Christ on its head, requiring the members to send in their money to a corporate entity that was far removed from them and which became the sole judge on how contributions would be spent. Nothing about the doctrine of Common Consent was mentioned in the announcement.

President Hinckley and Elders Packer and Monson announced the news at a priesthood satellite broadcast. The details were sketchy, but the new program, said Monson, “eliminated the need for local units to raise budget money as their...expenses are now funded almost entirely from general Church funds.”

Now the Church would fund everything through a “ward budget” it dispensed, based in part on attendance at Sunday services.

"The Church?” Smith asks rhetorically. “Yes, the speakers were quite clear...They know by the Church they mean The Corporation.

You were not included in those decisions, because you are not a member of that ChurchTM.

At best you are a subsidiary of the corporation. Like those Mormons promised as human collateral to the banks at the turn of the twentieth century, It is upon the promise of your future tithes that the corporation counts you as an asset. You are a resource, a cow to be milked when the bucket runs low.

Daymon Smith says that over a three year period, his ward sent ChurchTM headquarters “a flat million in tithes.” 
 
"In return for their generosity,” says Smith, “members receive an annual return held in trust by the ward accountants. For my ward it was $7 a head, officially.”

What does the ChurchTM do with all those billions? It “sends out materials (print, DVD, and so on), builds chapels, funds missionary efforts (partially)... and who knows what with the rest of the billions.”
"Rarely does your money feed the hungry, clothe the poor, or provide for other non-religious forms not published by the Church Office Building or sent forth from the COB.”
“By the time the money comes back from the COB, the Church has generously tithed to the needy from its multibillion dollar revenue stream something on the order of one percent, often in used, tattered clothing and rice and wheat and so on...For all its bluster and public relations about humanitarian aid, The Corporation, in other words doesn't follow its own rule of tithing.”
"I would not be surprised,” adds Smith, “if more was spent on PR than on those good works which are PR'd before men.”

In 1837 Joseph Smith taught that tithing meant a mere 2 percent of one's net worth, after debts were paid. That was back when we had a church. 

Somehow over time the corporation has convinced us that we should hand over to it 10 percent of everything before expenses, and some believe that includes money received as birthday gifts. Corporate spokesmen have even hinted from the pulpit recently that some of us should consider turning over 20 percent to them.

"When instituted by Joseph Smith in the 1830's," writes Smith, “tithing wrought a very small revenue stream, and it was designed to be small in order to prevent just the sort of dominating “Church” that now governs and patrols, steals the very name, and surveys and takes and gives what it believes best to congregations.”

"Mormons are warned from the pulpit not to rob God, so they send their money to the bishop. Aware of poorer congregations, and of starving Mormons on some god-forsaken land, locals tighten belts and send as much as possible to headquarters.”
"And it all disappears, then suddenly we are handed another pamphlet, another manual, built another chapel or temple, beamed another satellite broadcast. The rest of the money just sits in banks and investment portfolios reviewed by money managers in Salt Lake City, who see in growing numbers the Lord's General, Sacred Funds, and that means the Corporation's, and they its priestly stewards.”
"Many Mormons who attend chapels,” Smith continues, “are good, kind, and decent; many are not. Mormons in these wards are often willing to sacrifice for others, to help, and yet these desires are turned, collectively, too often by the corporate interests against the works of light.”

Buy This Book

I've barely touched on the information available in Daymon Smith's book, and I haven't mentioned the various ways in which the corporation's directors waste your money on expensive meals, cars, credit card accounts, and unbelievably generous salaries that they have chosen to dub “modest allowances” or “stipends.” The house that the current president of the corporation lives in is said to be valued at $2.1 million. He didn't buy that house with his own money.

You can hear several hours of interviews with Daymon Smith over at Mormon Stories Podcasts where he discusses the history of correlation, how the corporate ChurchTM struggles to serve both God and Mammon, and more on the transformation from church of Christ to corporate hybrid.

You can find his doctoral dissertation here, and over at By Common Consent there is a nine part discussion with Smith on the history of correlation that starts here.

I can't stress the importance of these materials strongly enough. If you lack a knowledge of the changes wrought in the church through correlation and corporate influence, your understanding of Mormon history in the twentieth century is woefully incomplete and innacurate. It's as simple as that.



PostScript

I wanted to include the following information in the essay above, but the piece was already so long I didn't have the heart to put you readers through a longer stretch.

But I did not want to leave unanswered the question some may have of how a church ostensibly guided by Jesus Christ himself could have been dissolved by a government entity. What possible claim of jurisdiction could the government have over any independent church?

Where it may be argued that the federal government might have had the right to seize church property since that property was situated on federal lands (until Utah became a state, it did not have autonomy separate from federal authority), that theory of law certainly does not extend to the dissolution of a sovereign church of Christ.

The answer is that the church hadn't been sovereign since 1829. Although the restored church existed prior to April 6th, 1830 (There were three branches and over seventy baptized members prior to that time), it was on that date that Joseph Smith unwittingly petitioned the state of New York for permission to form a church under the laws of New York State. Clearly he did not understand what he was doing; it's likely that he saw this action as akin to an announcement that a new denomination was hereby established. But what the government giveth, the government taketh away, and any act of incorporation takes a church out of the jurisdiction of God and places it smack dab into the backyard of Babylon. And Babylon does what it wishes.

Here is an excerpt from David Whitmer's account at the inception:
In this month (June 1829) I was baptized, confirmed, and ordained an Elder in the Church of Christ by Bro. Joseph Smith. Previous to this, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had baptized, confirmed and ordained each other to the office of an Elder in the Church of Christ. I was the third person baptized into the church. In August, 1829, we began to preach the gospel of Christ. The following six Elders had then been ordained: Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith, Hyrum Smith and myself. The Book of Mormon was still in the hands of the printer, but my brother, Christian Whitmer, had copied from the manuscript the teachings and doctrine of Christ, being the things which we were commanded to preach. We preached, baptized and confirmed members into the Church of Christ, from August, 1829, until April 6th, 1830, being eight months in which time we had proceeded rightly; the offices in the church being Elders, Priests and Teachers.
Now, when April 6, 1830, had come, we had then established three branches of the “Church of Christ,” in which three branches were about seventy members: One branch was at Fayette, N. Y.; one at Manchester, N. Y., and one at Colesville, Pa. It is all a mistake about the church being organized on April 6, 1830, as I will show. We were as fully organizedspiritually–before April 6th as we were on that day. The reason why we met on that day was this; the world had been telling us that we were not a regularly organized church, and we had no right to officiate in the ordinance of marriage, hold church property, etc., and that we should organize according to the laws of the land. On this account we met at my father’s house in Fayette, N. Y., on April 6, 1830, to attend to this matter of organizing according to the laws of the land; you can see this from Sec. 17 Doctrine and Convenants: the church was organized on April 6th agreeable to the laws of our country.” (An Address to All Believers in Christ, pg 32-34)
 Indeed, the Lord defined His church in D&C 10:67, showing that it was already in existence at least since 1828. There was no need to “organize” something that was already extant. Joseph's act of registering with the state was a slow poison that proved fatal to his creation sixty years later.

And if you haven't already figured it out, no government actually has the power to dissolve the Church of Christ. All they did was kill a corporate version of it. The true Church of Christ is present “where two or three are are gathered together” in his name (Matt 18:20), and “whosoever repenteth and come unto me, the same is my church.” (D&C 10:67)

YOU are the church. So go ahead and continue attending your local ward. Keep shining your light there and make it a better home for all the Saints of God.
(I'd steer clear of the Church Office Building, though.)

Update December 4, 2010: It has come to my attention that Joseph Smith most likely did not incorporate the Church in New York, as has been commonly believed.  David Stott, an attorney from New York has researched the matter and concluded that Joseph most likely organized the Church under the common law practice of registering it as a "religious society", rather than as a "religious corporation" under the state of New York.  The latter is a petition of permission, while the former is not.  David Whitmer is still correct in asserting that seeking legal standing for the Church was unnecessary, and that the church existed prior to being officially organized, but the act of organizing at the common law would not have placed the Church under state jurisdiction, so I was wrong about that.  You can read David Stott's analysis here.

The "religious society" Joseph Smith organized in 1830 was called The Church of Christ.  In 1851, Brigham Young incorporated what was by then known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Since Utah was under federal jurisdiction at that time, it would make sense that the federal government might claim the right to disincorporate the Church that had been incorporated under federal law.  Was that action right? No. Was it legal? Yes, I think so.


_

277 comments:

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BLB said...

Interesting read. Today's church is exactly what the scriptures warned about. Jesus still needs a good shave, or he'll never get a calling.

Chedner said...

Fantastic post. I'll have to check out Smith's book.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

At least that flag pin he's wearing says he supports America's wars.

I know a lot of members who would overlook the fact that he isn't quite up to Church standards as long as he agrees that it's USA all the way.

Heather said...

Hey now! My dad wears Old Spice and he's only 56. And I love the way he smells. It reminds me of the security and freedom of my childhood. :)

Andrew S said...

Is there a reason for the font size?

But once again, amazing post!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the heads up about the font size being too big, Andrew. I hadn't even noticed it from where I sit.

Heather, little story about my favorite Cologne: Brut was THE favorite man's cologne to most guys in my day. Girls I dated LOVED it on me.

But I married someone 8 years younger than me. Her father was of a generation that bordered mine, and Brut was his favorite, too.

So I haven't been "allowed" to wear the best smelling men's cologne of all time because it reminds Connie of her father and puts her out of the mood. Man, I miss "the great smell of Brut!"

And that, people, is why you should always marry someone your own age.

(Also, born in another time, Connie sadly does not share my appreciation for '60's Garage Bands such as The Seeds, The Kinks, The Troggs, The Zombies, and The Swingin' Medallions. )

Dave P. said...

Regarding the footnotes in the standard works, the D&C professor I had in school who I admire very much was part of that committee and he told us many times, "The inspiration stops at the solid line."

There was also an announcement in Sacrament meeting yesterday that piqued my interest as the bishop requested people to return any copies of church handbooks they had on hand so they could be destroyed in preparation for the new editions soon to be handed out. I indeed got the feeling that someone needs to keep an old edition and compare it with the new but, sadly, I'm not one of those with an old edition. (Then I almost walked out when one of the talks was yet another re-hash of the "14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet," but thankfully it was short and the talk after it was wonderful.) Though at the same time I found it quite ironic that the church even needs a PR department because, according to those "14 Fundamentals," isn't a prophet able (and supposed) to be able to speak on civic affairs as well?

Of course in today's corporate world the church membership would be asking, "I paid a full tithe on my net income, but what about my tax return?" On the most recent post on the Weeping for Zion blog I commented on how several elements of the gospel and church started out being taught as principles but have de-evolved into Pharisaical interpretations of the Law of Moses. That number is definitely much higher than I initially thought of. Thankfully, the Lord still blesses individuals for their sacrifice, even if what they give up is misused by those who are then responsible for it.

All in all, the best I can say is to quote from Nephi: "Wo unto those who saith, 'All is well!'" indeed. The only reason I ever go to church any more is to take the sacrament. I then get a nice nap during the talks. Though this Sunday was an exception as our stake president challenged us to re-read the four gospels before the end of January. I learned more from reading the first 24 chapters of Matthew than I have in most of those meetings combined lately.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave,
Someone over at LDS Anarchy recommends going to church for the sacrament, and then leaving right after and putting the day to more spiritual use. For some months I was so bored by the whole thing that once I got the kids into their classrooms I would just go sit in the car and read scriptures. Definitely seemed more productive than staying inside listening to someone read the pablum out of the lesson book.

Jeff Spector said...

WOW! That is really all I can say it this point. But, I did realize something a long time ago that you mentioned. Working FOR the church is not all its cracked up to be. years ago, as Ward financial clerk, I inherited a large problem with our Ward finances. Seems a member had bounced a tithing check and the CHURCH took the money, about $2500 out our Ward budget. This was 1987, so this was OUR money they took. Anyway, no one had tried to fix the problem, but I took it on as a dedicated problem solver that I am. I happened to be at Novell for work and thought I would journey up to COB to try to get the problem fixed and our money returned to us. As I sat down at on of the Finance Dept. desks, I saw one of those oft-Xerox signs that read "The beatings will continue, until moral improves." I'd seen that sign before but never expected to find it at Church HQ! My view of the Church HQ changed with that even though I had only been a member for 4 years. I realized that this was big business. And have seen more evidence of that from that time forward. I did succeed in wrenching the money back from the Church to our Ward budget.

Dave P. said...

I just ordered Smith's book off Amazon and, thanks to its Prime program with free 2-day shipping, I'll very likely have it in my hands on Wednesday. I wonder if it makes any mention of how many of Utah's laws are designed to protect the church from lawsuits.

I work for the church at the Riverton Office Building (ROB) and things are generally much more laid-back and quite enjoyable. We even had "Brother" Darth Vader and Monty Python's King Arthur (and Patsie) visit us during a recent meeting to announce our Halloween party. And, get this, they even wore MASKS, something frowned upon at all "church-approved" Halloween functions. Our CIO has a great sense of humor and he doesn't even wear a tie to work (something for which Bishop Burton likes to tease him about). That's not to say it's without problems though. I've met with a few people here who feel working here has trampled on their testimony. However I'd much rather be working for the corporate church than in any government position whatsoever.

Jonas said...

Once again Rock, you blow the lid off of my perceived and, what I thought was "safe" reality.

Geez, if they haven't ex'd you yet, . . . wait, is that your phone ringing? Oh, it's the stake executive secretary; you have a hearing with the high council this week. Be there!

I never was satisfied as a missionary with why, as dirt poor missionaries on a poorer-than-dirt budget, we had to buy our own Books of Mormon from the mission. It never made sense to me.

We would buy a case or two of "books" and then use them as our primary tracting tool. Often the people threw them away and we didn't get them back.

Transfers were always fun because we had to count how many books we had, split the cost and then charge the new incoming missionary for our half of the books. Of course we then had to pay the outgoing missionary in our new area for his half etc.

Now wonder the church is rich! Now I understand. Take the donations form the members, pay for the books to be printed. Sell those books to the mission who sells them to the missionaries who are giving his/her time to the church (in the name of the Lord, of course) and already under financial distress. I'm in the wrong business. I'm starting a new church of my own. The Church of ME And Your Money!

Anyone want to join? Bring me your money and I will pour out my blessings upon you. I like it!

Jonas

jmb275 said...

Interesting post Rock! I have a few thoughts (as usual).
1. I do think the corporatism in the church as you're describing it is problematic. I do think that correlation often becomes the creator of doctrine by it's over-zealous interpreting. I do think tithing is a significant problem and I have my own heterodox view of how it should be paid. I was also quite struck by your differentiation of "church" and "THE CHURCH (TM)." Although I'm only 30, I actually remember a time of Road Shows, community, fund raising, etc. and I remember it being replaced in my teens with the corporate "THE CHURCH (TM)." I was one of those that used to shape my opinion according to whatever "THE CHURCH" said.

2. OTOH, I'm a pragmatist. Though I recognize the details often shape the bottom line, the bottom line is that we go to church each week. Whether we are pawns of a trademark of a corporation whose purpose is to be leveraged by corporate suits is subjective at best.

I'm trying to think about how a TBM would respond. And I think he/she would have some good points. If the church has to bend over backwards to "work" within the system is that really a huge deal? If the church were just really a church, would it be as successful? Would we have large storehouses of aid? Certainly part of our success as a church (especially if your goal is "fill the whole earth") is due to the corporation sole?

I guess, at the end of the day, I'm not particularly bothered with the church being a corporation sole. I'm not really bothered with the price of the Prophet's home, or the cars they drive. I understand these are "indicators" of corporatism, but they are also functional. I dunno, I guess I'm a mixed bag on this one.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Sorry Jonas. I already belong to a Church that makes me that same promise.

Michael said...

Alan,

I'm relatively new here, but have read a couple of your blog posts and consider them accurate, insightful and a heck of a lot more eye-opening than any high council talk.

Just one week ago, "the church" instituted a brand spankin' new global accounting system called CUBS (Church Unit Banking System). The rollout has been turbulent (for example, it featured little training, and wiped out local unit budget balances). Church IT and local unit clerks have been doing their best to get local finances back on track. It hasn't been easy on all fronts.

Anyway, one of the interesting little tidbits about CUBS is that local finance clerks will no longer be responsible for reconciling bank statements. So now, there's no way for us at the local level to ensure bank account accountability.

We are now preparing for the launch of the new General Handbooks (#1 and #2), to be unveiled at a special broadcast on Sat., Nov. 13. One interesting feature: far more duties/responsibilities given to stake clerks, who are now attending other meetings instead of the stake presidency.

Andrew S said...

jmb,

I think part of the deal is that when we talk about being able to serve only one master...this should have practical consequences. The practical consequences of serving God rather than Mammon *should* be financially devastating.

It's only if we're a business first and foremost that we judge "success" in terms of finances, bottom lines, and numbers in the first place...

Alan Rock Waterman said...

JMB275,
I have no problem with the leaders wanting the Church to be financially solvent and independent, particularly as one of the purposes of the church is its temporal responsibilities. But no church needs to incorporate to have the right to keep and control its own money.

Anyway, things seem to have gone way beyond proper stewardship of the Lord's assets. Daymon Smith describes how the church virtually launders the tithing money by putting it into investments for years then using just the proceeds for its business ventures so that it can say the money used for its investments does not come directly from tithing. Meanwhile, of course, the actual tithing is tied up as capital for those investments when that money should be put to its proper purpose.

I kind of think that if the Lord was still directing this church, money would be coming in, and money would be going out. It would be wise to hold a large amount in reserve, many millions in my opinion. But billions upon billions? And then pouring those billions into projects that are guaranteed money pits right now such as the Cedar Creek Mall and the hotel in Hawaii?

As this nation enters into a depression that is expected to last at least a decade, it might have been a good idea for the Brethren to check with God first and see what the ten year forecast was going to be like before committing His money to projects that are destined to eat all that money up.

I agree with you that that "the bottom line is we go to church each week." All would be well if the general membership understood that the activities of the corporation are really irrelevant to the Church of Christ. But the problem, I think, is that the majority of the members today look up to the corporate leaders as demi-gods and won't make a move unless they feel it is dictated and approved by them. There is way too much idol worship going on these days for my taste.

The quote in my piece above by Brigham Young, Jr. expresses my feelings. It's all gone too far. The corporation puts on a pious face, but it's flying out of control.

jmb275 said...

Re Andrew S
"I think part of the deal is that when we talk about being able to serve only one master...this should have practical consequences. The practical consequences of serving God rather than Mammon *should* be financially devastating."

Yes, I hear you. But then again, I'm a self-identified pragmatist and the truth is, that's not real life. Serving God rather than mammon is a recipe to be a homeless wack-o! I look at ideals as elastic functions (which is why I'll never be a politician). These things encourage us or discourage us from certain things.

I really think we need to divorce the idea in our minds that a church, even God's one and only true church, should behave as an ideal actor in all situations. The problem in the church is that we encourage this mindset and set ourselves up for failure. But that's a problem with the process, not necessarily the church itself.

Don't get me wrong, I do think we have, particularly in the past, obsessed over numbers and bottom lines, and we encourage that mentality a lot. But I think my conjecture is that I'm not prepared to say that the corporation sole isn't the best way to do this whole church thing. We have some serious perks in our church over many others precisely BECAUSE of this corporatist mentality!

jmb275 said...

"Daymon Smith describes how the church virtually launders the tithing money by putting it into investments for years then using just the proceeds for its business ventures so that it can say the money used for its investments does not come directly from tithing."

See I guess I don't have a problem with this. I certainly think that the church could do better things with its money than buy up shopping malls, but I also don't believe my tithing dollars went to that purchase DIRECTLY. And I have no problem with the church being wealthy or building its wealth using tithing. Nor do I think most members believe that all their tithing money should go to helping the poor.

"It's all gone too far. The corporation puts on a pious face, but it's flying out of control."

If this is your bottom line, then despite a few minor disagreements over details, I agree with you. And I think it permeates the church all the way down to each of us. And it makes me sad and frustrated.

I'm frustrated that I need to donate hours of my time on Saturday (and in my ward they assign every member of the ward without asking for volunteers) to clean a building when the church could certainly afford to pay a janitor (plus this would provide a job to the not insignificant number of jobless members in my ward in Michigan). I'm frustrated that week after week I'm told to spend time with my family, and in the very next breath I'm told of 15 different upcoming meetings I should attend.

But most of my frustration from the corporatist mentality comes in our leadership. I think we set our youth up for failure. I think we whitewash the truth and allow people to believe it. I think we use the weight of God and prophets to manipulate our youth. We tell our youth that the things in FSOY come directly from the Lord. We tell our YM that the new Duty to God is what the prophet wants them to do. We make grandiose promises in God's name for having monthly PPIs with no way to deliver results (except in hindsight which is always 20/20). We have the appearance of God's approval for messages delivered to the masses (which clearly contradict doctrine) all in the name of preserving the image of unanimity.

"All would be well if the general membership understood that the activities of the corporation are really irrelevant to the Church of Christ. But the problem, I think, is that the majority of the members today look up to the corporate leaders as demi-gods and won't make a move unless they feel it is dictated and approved by them. There is way too much idol worship going on these days for my taste."

Here I agree 100%. I have walked out of more than one meeting and/or lesson because there was too much "prophet worship."

Dave P. said...

I fully disagree that one who worship's God over Mammon is destined to be penniless. It is entirely possible to become wealthy and still be one of God's followers. However, as the Savior alludes to in His own words, it isn't easy.

But, as is said in the Doctrines and Covenants, if we obey the laws that predicate proof that we're worthy of becoming materially wealthy while remaining devout followers of Christ, the Lord will bless us with wealth. After all, it's the wealthy people who donate the most to charity and who create jobs.

Steve said...

Where do you get the 2% net worth tithing definition?

Andrew S said...

jmb,

I understand your concern about becoming a homeless wack-o. I'm just saying that historically, the Savior *did* ask people to become, in a sense, "homeless wack-os".

I can understand your looking at ideals as elastic functions...it just depends how seriously you take your religion and your salvation.

Since I don't, I personally find myself agreeing with a lot that you say. But I don't pretend that is what Christianity ideally calls of us. I don't pretend that the church as it operates currently is anywhere close to ideal. I don't deceive myself that *maybe* the corporate structure is pragmatically most useful to achieve *spiritual* purposes.

I do have a sense of feeling for Dave P's comments. We need not be "penniless." After all, if we are a united body, then we should be able to support each other.

...but of course, didn't we try that before? How well did that work out?

I just think that for all the talk about wealth, one of the clearest things from the scriptures is that EVEN IF financial prosperity isn't itself bad, it is a leading cause of pride that has led to the downfall and decay of civilizations (if you take the Book of Mormon seriously.)

Yes, it is true that following the commandments should lead to success in many ways. But does that mean we are not also being challenged? Or that we are not also gaining responsibilities?

I think wealth is a challenge...a responsibility...a stewardship. We (the human race) have consistently and repeatedly failed in knowing what to do with it.

jmb275 said...

"I fully disagree that one who worship's God over Mammon is destined to be penniless. It is entirely possible to become wealthy and still be one of God's followers."

Hmmm, I don't think you read it carefully enough. If we are to *serve* God (not worship, those are very different verbs), and not mammon, we would indeed be penniless. We can justify our disagreement in lots of ways but these are justifications. There are plenty of examples of God calling on people to go "without purse, nor scrip" to serve Him, of God looking after us as He does the sparrows, etc. etc.

Keep in mind here that we are talking about taking these injunctions to the extremes (which I doubt any of us really believe). Like you I believe that one can worship God and be wealthy.

Insana D said...

Rock, you have written a masterpiece with this one. It's so intruiging and kept me on my seat edge the whole time. Not that I didn't know a lot of this but you've culminated it into one very readable and exciting essay. It's worthy of it's won book and I think you're the man to write it.

I too remember the church prior to the early 1980's when there was autonomy in the individual and wards. It was an exciting time to be LDS. It became a behemoth that sapped all creativity, all individuality and certainly all incentive to contribute out of me and many other LDS.

In a way the corporate aspects of the church became like the snake that consumes ittself but thinks it's getting fatter because it's continually eating.

Your essay reminds me so much of the book, "Animal Farm". It would be fascinating to do a comparison between the rise of Corporate Mormonism and the Soviet model of government.

While I don't think the financial arm of the church is in much danger of imploding I think the membership and image of the LDS church is in dire straights and all those wounds are self inflicted.

Yourself excepted, most of the loyal devout LDS that I know are the embodiment of mindless drones, walking lock step like blind sheep with their nose in the buttocks of the sheep in front of them, all just "Enduring till the end". With most of the brilliant, creative, and innovative people pushed out or jumping ship the church is left with a lot of mercinary soldiers who are not going to do the church much good as examples of a good Mormon life.

They are often dull, drab, overworked, overlooked, grey inside and out and completely unappealing to emulate. They do not seem happy and they do not seem admirable. All pigs are created equal but some pigs are MORE equal. The corporation of the church is a perfect illustration of Animal Farm.

Rock, when you and your lovely wife are ready to leave just know that there are many who will welcome you to freedom and celebrate your creativity, your passion and incredible intellect. No rules, no limits, no censorship. Pour yourself out full strength and be whole again.

If you don't mind, I'm going to post the link to this on Postmo and Exmo. This article is a very fine piece of work. As always, I adore you even when I don't completely agree with you.

Respectfully, Insanad

jmb275 said...

Re Andrew S
"I can understand your looking at ideals as elastic functions...it just depends how seriously you take your religion and your salvation."

Yes, you're probably right. Previously in my life I certainly took it seriously enough that I would have been appalled at our use of money in the church. BUT, I would have countered that with my full trust in the Lord's stewards and hence I would have assumed they knew better than me. I *suspect* that most faithful members do the same.

"But I don't pretend that is what Christianity ideally calls of us. I don't pretend that the church as it operates currently is anywhere close to ideal."

Nor do I, which is my point. Why would we expect it to NOT streamline processes in an authoritarian structure? Why would we not expect it to prepare (perhaps to an extreme level) when, within its own history, it has been beyond bankrupt? Why would we NOT expect a PR campaign when it believes that membership in THIS church is uniquely tied to exaltation?

What I love about Daymon's work is that he shows the natural consequences (the modern church) of the culture, lifestyle, and leadership in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The point of his work, IMHO, is that we really ought not to be surprised by what we see today in the church.

"I don't deceive myself that *maybe* the corporate structure is pragmatically most useful to achieve *spiritual* purposes."

Well, probably not. I've not started my own church before, and am definitely not a religious historian. It is apparent to me, however, that strict religions are the most successful, and strict religions have authoritarian structure, require much sacrifice, encourage obedience to authority, and whitewash history. If one believes that membership in the church is paramount to salvation (and that's what faithful LDS believe) why would it not try to build itself at all costs? That goal lends itself nicely to a corporate structure. Now whether or not this achieves *spiritual* purposes is another question. But I don't think all LDS are members for the spiritual value (shoot I'd be a buddhist). They are LDS precisely because they believe that membership in the church is necessary for salvation. We breed our youth to believe exactly this.

What we're really arguing over is what the goals of the church are and whether or not it achieves them. I claim it does achieve its goals because its goals are the church itself and its growth, not necessarily the spirituality of each member. Though I believe individually every leader would personally claim that is top priority, the soulless corporation says something else!

And now I'm just ranting...I'll stop. And maybe I've got it all bass-ackwards!

jmb275 said...

"Your essay reminds me so much of the book, "Animal Farm". It would be fascinating to do a comparison between the rise of Corporate Mormonism and the Soviet model of government."

Sorry, I feel like I have to say something in response here despite the possibility of being labeled a "drone." This is way out of kilter. I'm a lifelong fan of Orwell, and recently read "Animal Farm." A comparison between early Mormonism (United Order) and communism might be appropriate, but the modern church is VERY far removed from anything remotely resembling "Animal Farm."

"most of the loyal devout LDS that I know are the embodiment of mindless drones, walking lock step like blind sheep with their nose in the buttocks of the sheep in front of them, all just "Enduring till the end"."

Also, I think this is a sad caricature. Most of the loyal devout LDS I know think very carefully about these kinds of things. For many it simply boils down to faith in their spiritual witness which I DO NOT associate with lack of thinking. I think most of them, in response to this blog post, would celebrate the growth of the church and rely on faith in the "Lord's anointed" to answer the thought-provoking questions in this post.

Andrew S said...

jmb,

Addressing from the bottom up.

re: goals of the church. I agree. But if things are that way, then I'm not going to continue the myth that this is a church, rather than a corporation.

A "strict" or "authoritarian" religion is an entirely separate question from a corporatist religion. Although it would be a good research question: do strict religions operate like good corporations? You assume that it would, but I do not think that is the case. Strictness and authoritarianism are a function of culture...but culture is distinct from organizational form.

Also, if the LDS church bills itself as required for salvation and exaltation, I think that is a HUGE spiritual value. Regardless of whether it actually provides that value.

In response to the "Why wouldn't we expect..." questions...I think the answer is that we are raised to believe the church's goal is *spiritual*, not temporal. That is what is drummed into our head. We have to be disavowed of a myth or a legal fiction in order to see the reality of things. This disavowal/disillusionment process should not be expected. A question for you: why would we expect a church that advertises itself as the one true church to be far more mundane and worldly?

If we are members that trust in the *Lord's* stewards to know more than we do, then why would we expect them actually to be the *bank's* stewards who actually don't know much more than any businessperson can know?

Dave P. said...

jmb275,

Indeed, it looks like I blurred the lines between "worhsip" and "serve" a little bit. However we do need to remember that the "go without purse or scrip" are for those called on missions to preach the gospel as the means is for the missionaries to learn the lesson about how the Lord will provide for them in every step of the way. For those not going on missions, we're expected to rely on the Lord but also to make do with what He gives us. If it comes in the form of wealth, we provide for our families and then use the money as the Savior would- which is of course the test given to show who the Lord can trust with great wealth. Examples of those who win the lottery and squander their money vs. those who work hard for their money and use it wisely is a wonderful example of the Law of the Harvest.

Insana D,

Just trying to stay active amidst what the church as become, especially in Utah, has definitely been an exercise in "Enduring to the end." But the Lord has said that the first thing He'll do prior to the Second Coming is cleanse the church, so I'm waiting to see how He'll do that.

jmb275 said...

Re Andrew S
"re: goals of the church. I agree. But if things are that way, then I'm not going to continue the myth that this is a church, rather than a corporation."

I think that's fair. I've viewed it (in part) that way for a couple years now (as I'm sure you have as well).

"A "strict" or "authoritarian" religion is an entirely separate question from a corporatist religion. Although it would be a good research question: do strict religions operate like good corporations? You assume that it would, but I do not think that is the case. Strictness and authoritarianism are a function of culture...but culture is distinct from organizational form."

Yes, you may be completely right. I'm certainly not adequately prepared to argue my point. I was 100% speculating.

"In response to the "Why wouldn't we expect..." questions...I think the answer is that we are raised to believe the church's goal is *spiritual*, not temporal."

Well, in reaching back to my TBM days, I viewed the church as a temporal incarnation of a spiritual version of the same. I recognized that the church needed to do certain things to exist in the world and this was the function of the temporal version I was familiar with. So yes, I think you're right.

"We have to be disavowed of a myth or a legal fiction in order to see the reality of things. This disavowal/disillusionment process should not be expected."

I agree. It's my biggest frustration of all! I think this stems from culture and historiography that is NOT unique to our church. After all, America capitalizes on its myths as well. It's the way the world functions - countries, religions, tribes, corporations, etc. whitewash the facts, call for loyalty, and create "us vs. them" mentalities.

"why would we expect a church that advertises itself as the one true church to be far more mundane and worldly?"

That's just it, I wouldn't (well now anyway) expect it to be any different than any other entity that had to function in the world. But even so, since most entities are less noble than the church, I consider that at least some small victory.

During my faith crisis, my technique was to modify my expectations of the church, Gospel, God, Jesus, etc. This led to an acceptance of the church for what it is, but additionally more uncertainty as to the veracity of a true Gospel, God's existence as an anthropomorphic being, Jesus as a personal Saviour, etc. My observation, in general, is that Rock, alternatively, has not modified his expectations completely but has tried to hold the church to what he views as an ideal incarnation of a Gospel he still fully believes in. I suspect this is where he and I will disagree. He believes (correct me if I'm wrong Rock) that the church is moving towards (if not in) apostasy. I couldn't care less whether the church is in apostasy since I'm not convinced it was ever the truth to begin with.

jmb275 said...

Re Dave P
I think we're on the same page. I agree with you.

Insana D said...

Cleanse away Mormonism. From the folks I've met who have finally left the church or been booted out like myself they are among the most creative, the most innovative and often far more intellectually interesting than the many I meet who for whatever reasons decide to slog on inside the corporation.

While I admire some of the things attributed to Jesus Christ I don't believe in the Second Coming or the first coming if "Savior of the earth" is what he's charged with. I'm not interested in what might happen in some far off distant vague who knows when time. I'm interested in what happens to living breathing human beings right now. My friends, my children, my family are all being bombarded with the message of blind obedience and rigid arbitrary authority over their every thought and deed. The corporate enviornment of the church has turned my wonderful LDS family into a bunch of Morgbot drones who don't dare step out of line or examine the controlling mandates from their leaders.

The responses to my response are a perfect example of so called "Faithful obedience" in some paltry attempts to protect the scrutiny of the leadership. Some people remind me a lot of the loyal sheep who protect the pigs. Remember folks, you're only as good to them as your willingness to obey. Once you think for yourself you're on your own. It's not that terrible a place to be but comes at quite a price.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have taken a page out of Kirtland History. I believe that there were people there that stated that Joseph was too corparate because of establishing a bank of all things. When it faild Josephs status decreased also. Maybe the Presidents of the CHURCH recieved there first lessons from General Joseph Smith or Mayor Joseph Smith or from the idea of the Nauvoo Charter. Hum, I wonder how many blogs would have been posted on the Prophet running for President of the good ole US of A. Dude, Prophets arent perfect, read the old testament! Sounds to me like your one of those that have been offended, or has some serious stress in your life.

Terry said...

OK, children, all together now:

"I belong to the Corporation of the President...."

Hmmmmm--Doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Anonymous said...

Give it long enough and some one will make it sound nice. There is alot of talent in the ole Corp. You have to buy the book though to follow through with the corporate up-bringing that you have been exposed to. I was wondering if the book was for free? I mean if it is for sale and they make a profit not prophet on it they will have to form a corporation to get a tax write off, and a marketing dept. can help with that, as well as a printing press and administrators to run it. Oh no, it sounds like we need to get back to the basics because you have already set yourself up for a fall.

Insana D said...

#1. Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have taken a page out of Kirtland History. I believe that there were people there that stated that Joseph was too corparate because of establishing a bank of all things. When it faild Josephs status decreased also. Maybe the Presidents of the CHURCH recieved there first lessons from General Joseph Smith or Mayor Joseph Smith or from the idea of the Nauvoo Charter. Hum, I wonder how many blogs would have been posted on the Prophet running for President of the good ole US of A. Dude, Prophets arent perfect, read the old testament! Sounds to me like your one of those that have been offended, or has some serious stress in your life.

-----------------------

#2. Insana D,

Just trying to stay active amidst what the church as become, especially in Utah, has definitely been an exercise in "Enduring to the end." But the Lord has said that the first thing He'll do prior to the Second Coming is cleanse the church, so I'm waiting to see how He'll do that.

--------------

#3. "most of the loyal devout LDS that I know are the embodiment of mindless drones, walking lock step like blind sheep with their nose in the buttocks of the sheep in front of them, all just "Enduring till the end"."

Also, I think this is a sad caricature. Most of the loyal devout LDS I know think very carefully about these kinds of things. For many it simply boils down to faith in their spiritual witness which I DO NOT associate with lack of thinking. I think most of them, in response to this blog post, would celebrate the growth of the church and rely on faith in the "Lord's anointed" to answer the thought-provoking questions in this post.

These three responses are exactly what I expected from devout followers of the LDS corporation. First a flat out silly childish attempt to defame the author of the blog and suggest he is a sinner or was offended because he dared to examine the flaws.

Second someone suggesting that by people choosing to leave the church over it's many flaws they are among the "WEEDS" that need to be disgarded in order for the good to flourish.

And third, a response of "TRUST THE LORDS ANOINTED" to prove that they can't begin to think for themselves.
I couldn't have asked the faithful to be any more predictable in their responses. They prove my point to the T.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Insana D my friend,
I've just sent you a PM, but I did want to add that I liked your line about the snake eating itself but still thinking it's getting fatter because it's still eating. I may borrow that for a future post.

JMB,
Yes, I do believe the Church is moving toward apostasy, and I believe the scriptures and the teachings of the Prophets foresaw this. The corporation, in fact expends an awful lot of its energy warning the members about falling away, but it does not look within itself. As Dave hinted at above, the Lord would not have to set his house in order if it was not out of order in the first place.

I am not, however, trying to hold the church to what I believe is an ideal incarnation. I recognize that the hierarchy is made up of fallible humans, and I don't particularly think those running the corporation have any real relevance in my life. Absent any modern revelation, I rely on the scriptures and those former teachings that the spirit has affirmed to me are valid. I'm not trying to reform the corporate Church; I simply recognize it for what it is. It's a holding company for the assets of the organization.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous,
No, I'm not one of those who have been offended. I'm a devoted believer in the basic teachings of the Restoration, and I have no plans on abandoning the Church of Jesus Christ. I certainly don't intend to stand by and remain silent while the gentle teachings of Christ are mingled with and subverted by the philosophies of men.

And I do know that Prophets aren't perfect, which is kind of the point not only of this essay, in case you missed it, but of most of the entries in this blog.

I think I'm pretty clear in my assertion that The Brethren are not demi-gods to be blindly followed. If I have a job to do here, it's to simply point out that obvious reality to the many, many latter-day Saints who believe otherwise and reverently await every petty utterance from the members of the hierarchy as though their words carried the weight of a papal bull. You may realize The Brethren are not perfect, but millions of your fellow saints do not.

The comment I made in clarification to JMB above may also be helpful in assisting you in understanding where I'm coming from.

Your Old Buddy Sam said...

Is no one else bothered by the many instances of improperly used apostrophes in the possessive form of the word "it" here?

"...it has a life of it's own... a corporation derives it's existence and all of it's power from the state... justify it's adventures overseas... tracing it's origins to ancient Roman law... for all it's bluster and public relations about humanitarian aid... they it's priestly stewards..."

"It's" means "it is," whereas "its" indicates possession.

But I digress. This was an interesting read - a nice "Reader's Digest" version of Daymon Smith's research. I have also read Smith's book, but took issue with some items Waterman did not mention here. My main criticism is the book's lack of readability. For anyone curious to read my thoughts (complete with a response from the author): http://oldbuddysam.blogspot.com/2010/08/book-review-book-of-mammon-book-about.html

Melissa said...

Love your blog! We live probably within a few miles for each other-too bad not in the same building, it would probably be more interesting discussing this than going to class!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Gosh, Sam, did I do that?

You wouldn't believe what a stickler I usually am about that. I know better, and I see you caught me in at least one -maybe two- instances where I misspelled the thing. I'll have to go back and correct mine. Please, please, please don't tell me I have to go back over all my old entries and check for errors!

In my defense, the other misuses of the form were in direct quotes, and I tend to let other people's words lay as they are. Of course, I could have put "(sic)" after all the wrong uses, but I don't like the clutter that results in. Plus it would make me seem arrogant. Like a certain guy named Sam who just HAD to point it out.

I haven't read your review yet, but I intend to go right over (thanks for the link). I do agree with you in part about how frustrating much of the book is to make sense of (I called it "scattershot", you'll recall. In his interview at Mormon Stories, Daymon tells how he was trying to present the first section in another voice, modeled somewhat on the layout of the Book of Mormon. Hence, the subtitle, "A Book About A Book." His clever idea doesn't work. I recommend skipping the first 30 pages or so and getting right into the meat. Otherwise, it's unintellible.

Nothing like he comes off in the audio, So all you fine people who've sent away for the book, listen to the podcast while you're waiting. That's a smart guy there.

Your Old Buddy Sam said...

Rock- :)

Dave P. said...

I'm sorry, Insana D., but where did I imply that the ones who've left the church are the weeds? According to the parable of the wheat and the tares, it says nothing about how all those in the church are the wheat and those without are the tares. It's absolutely possible to find both groups both within and without. I'm living the gospel as best I can regardless of what the church is doing right now and currently choose to stay for personal reasons. Please don't generalize my statements in the future.

Dave P. said...

In fact, the scripture also talks about how, when the Lord cleanses the church, He'll first be removing those who claim to be good Mormons but are anything but. I have the feeling he'll start at the top and work his way down.

Anthony E. Larson said...

Crrrack! Watch for it ... wait for it ... it's ... it's ... it's another home run for Rock!!! What a guy!

You seem to knock 'em out of the park every time you go to bat, Casey ... er ... Babe ... oh, um ... I mean Rocky.

Please, keeps swinging for the bleachers. The fans have been looking for a hero for a long time. You could very easily change the rules of the game ... for the better, I hope.

I just bought a season pass, just to watch you in action.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anthony, you are the best!

Readers, Click on Anthony's name and check out his seminars. Now this guy has uncovered some deep Mormon Theo-cosmology.

Sam,
I just combed through all the instances of "it's" and you are correct, sir. I found four instances where I misused the tense. Four! This is so unlike me. They should take away my license to write.

(I've long hoped nobody notices that I'm rarely consistent about when I should or shouldn't capitalize "latter-day Saints." I've settled on always capitalizing Saints, but honestly, I don't know what I'm doing...)

Strangite said...

Rock, as always I'm am so impressed. With three score and ten under my belt, I have lived much of what you documented here. I approve this message.

Recently I met with my new bishop. He smiled and asked where I was in regards to the Mormon experience (rumors possibly legend about me). I told the John (who I had known before he could shave) the following:

I said, "If I want to hear good preaching, I would attend Rose Drive Friends Church just to the west of us. If I want good singing, I'd walk across the road the Friendship Baptist Church (a mostly black church).
If I want good prayer and meditation, I like the Buddhist Temple just to the east of us."
However, I am a cultural Mormon, so most every week (except when i attend Indian Revival Church), you will find me turning into our crappy church parking lot, where I will sleep in Sacrament, teach apostasy in Family History and avoid the High Priests Gathering like the plague."

John said "Thank you Brother. Oh, by the way, I will keep my eye on you from now on." I responded, "Lord I hope someone does."

Strangite said...

PS: I no longer pay tithing, I no longer attend temple (have missed my three grandchildren's weddings), so why in the hell do I get called in for a temple recommend renewal? And why does the counselor who called me say, Bro. Strangite, "Please come prepared to answer the questions." I have NEVER heard that before.

jmb275 said...

Re Insana D.
"And third, a response of "TRUST THE LORDS ANOINTED" to prove that they can't begin to think for themselves.
I couldn't have asked the faithful to be any more predictable in their responses. They prove my point to the T."

Did you even read the comment? Go ahead, read it again, this time carefully! I suggest you read things more carefully instead of labeling and judging others. If you took even half a second to google my name, read my comment more carefully, or gasp, read some of my other comments in this very thread, you would find your caricature is as wildly off-base as your pretension to understand Animal Farm!

It seems to me you have perfectly typified anti-Mormon behavior - label anyone who sees the church as something other than the whore of all the earth as a blind follower!

Nevermind, I think I've commented here enough that Rock knows where I'm coming from.

Jonas said...

Strangite
At least he didn't say to be ready to answer the questions the way he wants to hear them answered! The door was wide open for YOUR real answers. Woo-Hoo!

I've only seen two of your comments, but I already like you!

jmb275 said...

Re Rock
"I am not, however, trying to hold the church to what I believe is an ideal incarnation. I recognize that the hierarchy is made up of fallible humans, and I don't particularly think those running the corporation have any real relevance in my life."

Ah, I did not mean to imply you think the church hierarchy is infallible, I've read enough of your blog to know better. I phrased it poorly, but I just meant that it seems you tend to hearken to the way of the earlier church which probably represented Joseph's version of the ideal better than the modern church.

In any case, I don't mean to give the impression I disagree with you, I just don't think it's that critical (on the long list of issues I have with the church). I think I've clearly laid out why I think that is. Again, it's not important to me whether or not the church is in apostasy as that would imply there was something to apostatize from which I'm not convinced of.

Anyway, it was a great post!

Anonymous said...

You should check out a copy of "The Evolution of God" by Robert Wright, it might clear things up a bit for you.

http://evolutionofgod.net/

Anonymous said...

The font size is just fine, big enough for those of us a bit older with deteriorating eyesight to read more easily.

LDSInc is how one friend refers to the Mormon Church and from the looks of this he is right. I thought he was a bit off but each thing he has brought up has turned out to be correct, and many things in this article are what he has been telling me in answers for some years.

It is a shell game, isn't it?

Dave P. said...

Being a software geek I have to chime in about the font size: Even if it appears too small, every web browser I use has the option to enlarge the font with the Zoom In function. Found under the View -> Zoom menu in Firefox. CTRL+0 resets it to the default.

cs said...

"In 1837 Joseph Smith taught that tithing meant a mere 2 percent of one's net worth, after debts were paid. That was back when we had a church."

This is new to me. Can you provide a source?

Jonas said...

I spent a great deal of time much earlier tonight (it’s now 2:30a.m.) pondering this post and writing my own comments, but in the end I discarded my comments and realized none of this matters. There is only one thing that matters and that is my relationship with my creator.

If we boil down all the dogma of any church we come up with two, and only two commandments:
Love God.
Love our neighbor as our self.
All else falls within these two guidelines.

That’s it. It’s that simple. All the rest of this is trash to occupy the ego mind and keep us from those two simple instructions.

It matters not WHAT church we choose or if we choose no church. I personally find nature my best refuge for learning and being close to God. And it doesn’t matter what the church leaders do or how they do it – that is of no consequence to me. My only responsibility is to my higher-self and my creator.

Namaste
Jonas

Anonymous said...

Hi- Great blog! I notice the same thing with the charity of the church. Members buy supplies and donate time making things for church charities. Which the church puts in their warehouse and sells to other organizations for charity. So they make a profit of their members once again!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

CS,
That little nugget was contained in a footnote in Smith's book. two percent tithing didn't last long, however, as it jumped up to 10 within the next year or two. Personally, I believe "tithe" meant "tenth", so it's possible Joseph was mistaken and corrected it soon after. I don't know.

The concept of paying tithing on one's gross is a twentieth century construct, however. As was also the idea that "increase" meant "income" which in turn was misconstrued to mean "all money that comes in."

"Increase" means "increase", not, total. That's why you settled your tithing at the end of the year because only then could you figure up how much of an increase you experienced over the year before.

You paid tithing on your increase because it was understood that however much your crops, herds, etc., had increased over the year before, that was how much more God had blessed you that year. So you paid back to God a percentage of the bounty He had bestowed upon you.

At any rate, it was always understood in the old days that debts were to be paid first. One of these days I intend to address the whole subject of tithing here.

Dave P. said...

Based on the origin of the word on dictionary.com, it looks like you're right about that, Rock:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tithe

I also came to a realization while pondering on this last night. I have three primary reasons for staying in the church right now: 1. My job pretty much depends on it. 2. My singles ward is the only chance I have for an offline social life. 3. I still receive many blessings of living the gospel through the church and, despite the corporation of it, there are still numerous good people there who I can serve, not the church itself.

I got irritated at some recent statements about gay members of the church who were told they can still "provide great service for the church." I want to write anyone who says that and remind them we're commanded to serve our fellow man, regardless of if they're Mormon or not.

I also have a story from last night's FHE. The lesson involved reading all of the biographical sketches of the presidents of the church starting with Joseph Smith and, at the end, someone brought of Claudio Costa's parroting of the "14 Fundamentals..." yet again, and I was the only one who remembered that he was the one who gave that talk. After the lesson someone asked if I had a photographic memory. Imagine the look on his face when I told him the main reason I remembered that talk and who gave it was because it was the one I most disagreed with. I then told him the story of President Kimball having then-Elder Bensen apologize for the talk and to take it with a grain of salt because, despite being mentioned on general conference, it's NOT official doctrine. So I don't blame everyone for following a corporatist mindset, I feel some are simply ignorant of how the church is designed to work. As he was leaving the building he called me a smart guy, though I disagreed with that as well because I don't often do my own research; I find places like this blog, read what's being said, then come up with ideas from there.

Good to be Free said...

Does anyone know when tithing was added to the temple recommend questions? It wasn't about the same time that the church put the members up as collateral was it? Seems like it would make sense that to assure the investors of the stability of the income they would need to link the paying of tithes with salvation.

Dave P. said...

Good to be Free,

I don't know when tithing was added, but the history of the Word of Wisdom's being added is basically because of Heber J. Grant's vendetta against Utah being the swing state towards repealing the 18th Amendment, as he was chair of a support committee for it before he became president of the church. After the repeal, he declared that the church wasn't allowed to sing, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet," for one year.

ldsanarchy said...

Alan said, "Someone over at LDS Anarchy recommends going to church for the sacrament, and then leaving right after and putting the day to more spiritual use."

Uh, that would be me. I also recommend that people pay tithes and offerings in this.

LDS Anarchist

Rea said...

Rock, I just discovered your blog this week. Thanks for the great info. You stated that "In 1837 Joseph Smith taught that tithing meant a mere 2 percent of one's net worth, after debts were paid." Where is that written? It's interesting that LDS.org reads on the subject that: "The Lord had told Joseph Smith that members of the Church should pay tithing. While Joseph was in Far West, Missouri, he prayed to ask how much tithing the Saints should pay. The Lord revealed that the Saints should pay one-tenth of all they had for tithing." (Citing D&C 119 section heading and D&C 64:23; 119:3-4.)

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Suppose the Church DID NOT function as a corporation and a business, how else would it compete, exist and provide real estate, chapels and facilities for the members to enjoy? If it depended exclusively on tithing and not on other investment, what would happen if tithing decreased periodically or increased? All LARGE other churches out there seem to function as corporations. Say the LDS Church gets 50 million members, could it even function without the corporate business structure. That's what I want to know. Unless everyone teleworships from home, confesses by email and pays tithing by paypal. I like your article, by the way. But what's the alternative way for a growing Church to function, especially in America where everything is about money?

Eliza R. Snitch said...

Another winner, as usual. Very insightful... kind of scary, actually.

Justin said...

Anon:

Surely you think that Jesus Christ can find a way for His church to compete, exist and provide real estate, chapels and facilities for members to enjoy without all the things Rock described in this post -- do you not?

Kath said...

Alan, if you answered this above and I missed it, let me know. I'm interested on where you got the information that JS originally stated tithing was to be 2%. I've never heard this one before! Did you get this information from somewhere else, or this book you are recommending?

Anonymous said...

I would submit that chapels have been a cursing to the LDS.

I read an interesting article once proposing that the New Testament churches met in smaller groups in members homes and that they did not built chapels for sunday worship... I wish I had access to that article to share... but I remember it had some compelling information.

I think it would be a blessing if we had smaller congregations that met in homes...

Heather said...

@Anonymous at 2:36 PM:

I think the point of the post is that the problem is the corporate attitude.... looking to make a buck off stuff, rather than looking to meet the spiritual needs of the congregation. Of course there will be administrative things to deal with in the way of property and such. But that shouldn't be leaking into the other functions of the church. For example, why does the publishing department need to show a profit? Can't they just come to the presidency with an honest account of their monetary needs to accomplish their work?

Emily A. W. said...

Excellent post, as usual. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Kath,

He did answer it in the comments above. Do a Control-F search for tithing and you will find it easily. It came from a note to the Daymon Smith book.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how this blog is all about the modern Church falling into apostasy when Joseph Smith taught the Church never would. Not to mention a big reason why the early Christian church fell into apostasy was because the Lord took away the Apostles, the same people this blog author says is the reason for the modern Church falling into apostasy.

Just seems like someone is kicking against the pricks to me.

Francine said...

Wow, this is interesting! I too am curious where you got the 2% tithing info. I too write a blog and would like to write on that...

I remember when the church changed to having the funds sent to headquarters...and it was a God-send for our family. Before, we being poor dairy farmers with 5 children were "commanded" to pay (on top of tithing) for the chapel that was needed. I remember the pain of handing over that money, while we lived on nothing or the bank.

I no longer go to church...huge scary decision as I'm the influence that has brought several people to it, including my husband (who still goes) I know I put a monkey wrench into my families religious beliefs, but I had to follow my own soul...

Dave P. said...

Anonymous @12:48

Source? I know the Lord told Joseph several times that if he failed he would be removed from his position and another would be called to replace him and the same holds true for the church because it is the gospel and priesthood that were restored to never again be taken from the earth. And if Joseph did teach that, did he mention that it would only not happen if the Saints were righteous? You know, that pesky Law of the Harvest and all.

Moroni prophesied that the church would find itself trying to gain favors in the eyes of the world and the current attitude of many members and authorities are what Nephi warned about near the end of his life.

The church and its leaders are not automatically immune from the temptations of the world. In fact, the kind of attitude of, "The church can never fall away," is exactly the "All is well," attitude that Nephi specifically cries woe upon because that sort of thing makes it much easier for them to be manipulated into a carnal sense of security by the adversary.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous,

Ditto to what Dave P just said.

The assertion that Joseph Smith said the Church would never fall away is the biggest bunch of hooey I've ever heard. Have you never read what the book of Mormon has to say about the church in the last days? It' ain't called a Witness and a WARNING for nothing.

P.S. I'm not just kicking against the pricks. I AM a prick.

zomarah said...

I am curious where Anonymous @12:48 got his information. I know there is a reference that the Aaronic Priesthood will never again be taken from the earth. But I've never found one that says the church will never be taken or fall away. I can find all sorts of references to the church being out of order. The One Mighty and Strong will be coming to put the church back into order. There is a reference where Joseph Smith said, if the Saint fail to redeem Zion then God will choose another people to do it. Brigham young also said the leaders of eth Church will lead the Church to the very brink of hell. John Taylor Prophecied that during the time of the seventh president of the church, the church would be lead into spiritual and Temporal bondage. The seventh president of the church was Heber J. Grant.

This post was a real eye opener for me at least. I knew none of these things. It just makes me want to work to return people to the pure and simple gospel of Jesus Christ(3 Nephi 11).

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:48
If you look around in the Church today, you can clearly see that we already are in a general state of apostacy. Everyone has been deceived by the philosophies of men that are taught everywhere now, to do support & do evil, except a rare few. Try to find even one person who even 'believes' in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let alone 'lives' it.

We only have the promise that the Church & Priesthood will never be completely taken from the earth again.

God has said that he will have to shorten the last days & step in & save the few righteous left before they also fall, which must be soon given how hard it is to find a righteous person anymore.

Apostles are men with weaknesses just like any other. Heavenly Father even warned the members of the Church to be on guard about their leaders in D&C 121, that it is the disposition of 'nearly all men' to use unrighteous dominion as soon as they are given any calling of leadership or authority, from husband & father on up to Prophet. Many women also become abusive in their callings of leadership as wife, mother or church leader.

We as members are to help our leaders stay righteous, by making sure they do their duty to protect the members & to know & correct them if they give unrighteous counsel.

Half or most of the Apostles in Joseph Smith's time fell. Why would we think none could fall today?

The question is, are we righteous enough & do we understand the Gospel enough to tell if what the Apostles say in their talks is true or not? The Church teaches that not everything an Apostle says is inspired. Can we tell when it is or not?

Jonas said...

Francine

Thank you for your comment. You didn’t state your motives for leaving the church, but for those who are considering leaving, or who have left the church, I encourage you to consider your motives. Are you looking for reason? Are you angry or offended? Are you just bored? Do you simply want to experience the other side of life? If you are of this group who is angry or looking for reasons to leave the church, then you might be well served to look deeply at your motives. Come to peace with the real reason for your dissent first, and THEN choose whether the church is right for you or not.

There is another group who have begun the process of awakening and asking questions that they can’t find the answers to at church. Some of these leave the church because their thirst for knowledge of a higher nature is not being satisfied, yet they feel completely lost, as if they are floundering and don’t know where to go or where to find the answers that will bring them the peace of heart they seek. It’s okay. You will find those people and those answers you seek, but be prepared for those answers to come from wholly unexpected sources. Ask for guidance, but allow for ALL possibilities.

There is a huge awakening going on in the world right now and its path has no religious boundaries. People everywhere are realizing that there is whole new paradigm of higher consciousness that does not include religion per se, but encompasses all that our religions have taught us. This new paradigm is the idea of pure spiritual being; of being one with all that is and one with the Great Creator. Some people will awaken and will feel compelled to leave their church for a higher order of being. Others I know are already at a place of awakening, but feel it serves them to stay with their church. The latter have found a way to balance the new with the old and that is as it should be. They are now in a good place to assist others within the church as they awaken. Others, like me have a very difficult being at church and find other ways to be of service and assist others in their awakening. One is no more right than the other.

I see this whole blog that Rock has established as a place of awakening. Unfortunately there is a bit of anger or resentment in some of the comments and that’s what prompted me to write this comment.

Remember, there is no destination. There is only the journey. Enjoy it!

Jonas

Too Hard Headed to Give Up said...

Good to be Free,
I had that conversation with a friend just a few days ago... And now, just as I'm typing this, I can't remember. It was about the time the church almost went bankrupt. Suddenly, there was revelation that to be worthy to attend the temple, you had to give them money, and TADA! Lots o' money to spare!

Rock, Awesome! Thanks for your insight!!

Jonas said...

Anonymous, you said, "God has said that he will have to shorten the last days & step in & save the few righteous left before they also fall, which must be soon given how hard it is to find a righteous person anymore."

How exactly do you define righteousness? The problem with all this religious crap is that we get into a mode at church and think that righteous people have to look a certain way; like "I" look. If it looks any other way then we judge that person as unrighteous.

I disagree with you. In fact I find your comment pretentious and self-righteous. To say that it's so hard to find righteous people says to me that you are not looking beyond a given set of man-made rules defining good and "righteous". This set of rules comes from that place we call church.

I need only walk down the street and see all kinds of people doing what they do and many of them are very good and "righteous" people.

I like the word righteous almost as much as I like the word "worthy", but this I know: There are a lot of people in my world who live outside the man-made rules of religion and are wonderful and good people.

It might serve if we all stop judging each other and start loving one another for who we are. In this state of being will we find that most people are at their core, "righteous".

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Good To Be Free and Too Hard-headed To Give Up,

When the temple was seized in 1890 the church was 3 million in debt to pay for it. Lorenzo Snow instituted a major tithing push to pay the debt off.

I'm guessing the debt was held by the banks who had been promised the money would be forthcoming from the membership. Only took three years.

When I was young, I found the church movie "Windows of Heaven" extremely inspiring, and I was a diligent tithe payer ever since. But really, it was only a movie. Didn't really tell the whole story, and things didn't really happen as portrayed.

Some years back I read in some issue of Journal of Mormon History the background motivation at the time the Church developed that movie. I've since forgotten everything, though. I do know that after the film was shown throughout the Church, tithing receipts went through the roof.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Now that I think about it, that film probably came out around the time Apostle Henry Moyle had driven the Church to near bankruptcy through his program of building chapels where there were not yet enough members to support them with their tithes. (Moyle would visit missions and scold the missionaries for not working hard enough to bring in new members.) At one point the Church was so broke they didn't know how they would make payroll. This was around 1962, I think.

I'm just talking off the top of my head here, and I haven't checked the dates to see if the two events coincide. Think I'll do a blog entry on that fascinating story some day.

Dave P. said...

Too Hard Headed to Give Up,

You know, my dad and I had a conversation the other day about Utah's "checklist" mentality and how people become convinced along the lines of, "Well, if I obey those 14 fundamentals, I'll be all right." The discussion ended with him saying, "You know, wasn't the adversary's plan involved with 'Filling in the squares?'"

Your comment and the comment about John Taylors's prophecy of the seventh president of the church leading it to spiritual and temporal bondage reminded me of that. The last real revelation we have came through Joseph F. Smith (the sixth president) and we've received nothing that has been voted into canon since (I don't count Official Declaration 2 as it is a declaration, not a revelation). Wasn't Heber J. Grant the first president of the church who was a businessman by trade prior to becoming a general authority?

zomarah said...

I made a list of ways that Heber J Grant fulfilled that prophecy. And it seems that list keeps growing every day.

http://zomarah.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/bondage-both-temporally-and-spiritually/

Anonymous said...

You know, there's a lot of info in there to ponder. I just had to comment on one thing. I have always felt like the move to a consolidated meeting schedule was the beginning of the end (and it transitioned rather quickly) of a true feeling of community in the wards. I have never heard anyone else express that until I read this article.

Jonas said...

Anonymous, this is my open apology to you. I have judged you (imagine how this feels when I was the one condemning judgment in my earlier comment) and that is the very thing that starts hard feelings and wars.

After my previous comments to Anonymous in which I called him/her self-righteous and pretentious, I drove to work and pondered what I had written and damn, I am, in a big way, exactly what I condemned Anonymous for. I am the one who is being self-righteous and I place myself here and now fully accountable for what I said.

The good news is that I recognize my fault and from this point forward you can bet that I will be more careful and ask my self if I am in judgment or if I am observing fact before I speak.

You (Anonymous) never said that you were more righteous than those you observe (now, THAT would be self-righteous!), you only stated that it’s hard to find a righteous person. I don’t agree with that, but that’s not point of this comment.

I considered coming home immediately and removing the comment I made before very many people could read it. Then I decided to let it stand as the perfect example of what I was talking about, but to add these thoughts. Maybe some of us can learn from it; I know I did.

The problem is judgment itself. Judgment is the great destroyer of all that is good. However, there is a difference between judgment and observation. If Anonymous had said that he/she was more righteous, or if he/she had condemned those that he/she feels are “not righteous” then that would be judgment, but to observe that the world is in decay due to the way we live, well that’s probably a good observation. It’s a fact and can be proven. That’s the difference between observation and judgment; one is fact the other is perception.

Several comments have been added to this blog since I wrote my comments this morning. I have no idea if any of them apply to what I wrote and I decided to read those AFTER I post this so that I would not be influenced at all by anyone’s comments to me, if there are any.

So, Anonymous, please accept my apology. For the rest of us: Don’t worry; be happy. And don’t judge!

Aho!

Jonas said...

Dave P

I thought I heard in the last conference that a declaration "Is by definition, a revelation." I can't tell you who said it (but Boyd Packer comes to mind). I'm with you - anyone can write a declaration. It doesn't require a prophet to do so and I don't consider declarations to be revelations.

Rea said...

Alan... everyone... thank you for providing so much food for thought. I am deeply committed to studying for the past 2.5 years, and feel there is alot to be learned here. I finally came to a point, 2.5 years ago, where I chose to deal with the niggling, worrisome doubts and fears that have been climbing to my consciousness for the past 35 years... only to be shoved back down. The "purpose statement" for this blog grabbed me, because I do not believe that Joseph Smith would recognize this as the church he restored.

I am angered to know that the church has spent less than 1% of its resources to assist the poor and suffering (non-LDS, I'm assuming) throughout the world. Can ANYONE, anyone out there, find any logic in this fact, for Christ's church?

BTW, I agree that a new consciousness is spreading over the earth. For people who've been raised to believe that there's only "one true church," that's hard to swallow. Nonetheless, from my own experience, I feel certain that it's true, and I welcome being able to recognize the light in the eyes of people regardless of their chosen path.

Tom said...

Well done, Rock. I don't have much to add, because with 85+ comments most everything is bound to be found therein.

I do know that Heber J. Grant instituted us signing our temple recommends and I have a friend who researched that timeline and his feelings (and mine) are that the signature came about at exactly the same time as when HJG was taking out loans with Chase National Bank (providing the SLC Temple, Tabernacle, Joseph Smith Memorial Building and everything else on the temple block as collateral). It seems to follow - though I've found no hard evidence - that our signing of the temple recommends is a way in which we promise future earnings to the church (i.e. a full tithe payer will continue to be a full tithe payer which ensures a certain stream of revenue for the church which can help when taking out loans from the likes of Chase and others).

Here's someone else's look into the history of the temple recommends: http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/jmh&CISOPTR=11414&REC=10

(pages 135-176). I've only given a cursory reading to it, so I couldn't report much. But was looking into the whole issue of what and when things were required in the temple recommend questions.

Lastly, thanks for pointing out the eastern banker connection with the army that came to shut down polygamy. I'd never considered that point and it was like a "Duh!!" moment. I do know Woodruff was meeting extensively with the Bohemian Club/Grove and the like up until his death in 1898 (his last speaking engagement, not so coincidentally, was at the Bohemian Club) and his death occurred, not so coincidentally, while in the hands of the their doctors.

I do have a question: as members of the "corporate" church, i.e. "members of record", is there anything that could come about from a corporate standpoint that could bind us down? I'd assume that the minute we become/became a "member of record" there is some benefit to the corporation for that increase in membership. For them, that is. What effect, if any, is there on us as the "record"?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all of the comments and so I don't know if this has been covered. I grew up in President Monson's stake. I remember my parents purchasing a second house in that area in 1976 for about $30,000. I just checked Zillow.com and houses in that area are in the range of $500k (as is Monson's). So, the $2 million is off (it may have been that value during the Olympics). Now, that neighborhood has always been considered "nice", but never Salt Lake's best.

Also, Monson moved into that house back in 1963. Now, I put $500k into an inflation calculator and back in 1963 $500k was the same as $71k. As I established, houses were going for $30k in that neighborhood 13 years later. So, although the apostles are certainly not living like Mother Theresa, it is erroneous to say their lifestyle is as lavish as you imply.

The last apostle I know of to be a long-time resident of that neighborhood is Eyring. He lived there before he was ordained. I don't know what they do about the new ones moving in, because the neighborhood is overpriced (to me).

Chuck McKinnon said...

Hi Rock,

Thanks for your post. About the line of succession in the FP and the Q12: I looked at the link you provided, and although I'm not a lawyer, it seems to me that this is the relevant bit:

"But in the event of death or resignation from office of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or in the event of a vacancy in that office from any cause, the President or Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of said Church, or one of the members of said Quorum thereunto designated by that Quorum, shall, pending the installation of a successor President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, be the corporation sole under these articles..."

So although it guarantees that the current "President"'s successor will come from the Q12, I don't think it guarantees it will always be the senior Apostle. Am I missing something?

Despite the quibble, thanks for an informative post.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jonas,

Well done, Brother.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah and Tom,
Thanks for your further insight and links, guys. One of the delights of writing this blog is that afterwards I learn so much from people like you and Dave P. and others regular readers.

Fascinating stuff about Heber and the Bohemian Grove, Tom. I'd never heard any of that and look forward to looking into it further.

Most of us have no idea what we're doing when we sign our names. When we sign the little card at the bank to open a checking account, we're also agreeing to obey all the banking regulations. That stuff would fill a truck.

So it would not surprise me to learn that there are unknown obligations attendant to signing the recommend. There's a legal term for that, but it escapes me at the moment.

We don't seem to give much thought to the promise we make in the temple to give all we own -or ever will own- to the Church, do we? Do we figure we'll never be called on that?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous at 1:14,
Good points you make regarding homes bought years ago being worth more.

I try not to write anything for which I can't lay my hands on the source, and sadly this claim of Monson's home being worth 2.1 Million is one of those claims. I do remember reading in a reputable source, that it was his Condo that was valued at that amount, but while searching for further info, I found a picture of his house, so I called it a house. So the question is, does he also have a Condo? I wasn't prepared to make that claim.

If anyone has more information on this, I would appreciate it so I can make the necessary corrections. It may be that whatever it was, was, as you say worth that at the time of the olympics. I understand real estate values have not fallen as far in Utah as they have in California, but it stands to reason that whatever it's value then, it isn't worth that much now.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Chuck,
My reading of the clause establishes the Senior Apostle as the successor because he is the president or acting president of the quorum. the line you highlighted, "or one of the members of said Quorum thereunto designated by that Quorum," would appear to simply be a failsafe clause in the even the president of the quorum is is incapacitated or in some other way unable to function.

So, except for unusual circumstances, it looks to me as if the charter calls for the senior apostle to take over.

Anonymous said...

Jonas,
I am the Anon. that you posted about. I want to thank you, you must be a very nice person to feel that way & want to come change what you said. I never took offense at your post, though I realize my post may have sounded self-righteous, I just didn't know how else to put it.

You are right, these are my observations, &
I don't want to judge people, I just am so frustrated & sad & full of disbelief that I can't find anyone who seems like they believe in the Gospel. I even ask people all the time, a couple questions about the Gospel & they say they don't believe in it.

I realize I could be me that doesn't see correctly, yet I can't wrap my mind around the way everyone thinks about their beliefs. If it is me, I'd rather stay decieved than believe what everyone else believes.

Anyway, sorry for the ramblings. I just wanted to say thanks for your thoughts & posts, both of them. It is always good to be reminded to not to judge, unrighteously. One must always keep that in mind, for it is so easy to error.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Rock, were you aware of the LDS hunting preserves? Very few members seem to know about them and information about them is scarce. It's even harder to have any open discussion about it with the Church, which has remained closed to the idea. I asked Daymon whether he knew anything more about them than I did, but he didn't. Discovering the truth about the Church's trophy-hunting-for-profit enterprise was a big pill that I remain unable to swallow.

I did a post a while back for Mormon Matters where I researched the subject of the hunting preserves as well as I could from here. It remains the most current source of information, as far as I know, on the operation of the preserves owned by the Church. Anyone who is interested can read it here.

Sometimes I've been very tempted to tip off the folks at PETA about this. How many "churches" are trophy hunting for Jesus?

Lynn said...

This is the first time I've read this blog, and the first time I've heard all this, although I have suspected it. All I can say is Wow! This is unbelievable, absolutely incredible! And the timing couldn't have been better for me.

I have been inactive for 3 months now, for various reasons, one of which is that my own study and research has opened my eyes to seeing the Corporate Feet of Clay, and the man-made aspects of the Church. But, this blog has really put it all out there for anyone to see.

I have a real problem seeing the Church as the ONLY TRUE CHURCH anymore. I see Truth in many other churches, religions, and organizations. Maybe that is due to my New Age background. At any rate, I'm feeling more and more like a misfit, and like I'm outgrowing the box I've been in. At this point, I'm not sure if I will return to church or not. As one who was once a TBM with a temple recommend (which I now realize is part of a corporate contract), it's a bit unsettling to think of possibly leaving.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Faithful dissident,
I did not know about this. That was a good piece of research, and well written. Joseph Smith taught that animals have spirits. Although I have no problem with those who hunt animals for food, paying thousands of dollars for the experience of killing for sport is disconcerting. And hunting for trophies is not much different to me than killing humans to display their scalps.

zomarah said...

Anonymous @11:12PM and everyone else.

I'm not sure if you were including this definition in your comment. But after reading 3 Nephi 11 I came to understand that what most people call "the Gospel." Is really not the Gospel. The gospel consists of only faith, repentence, Baptism of Water, and Baptism of Fire and the Spirit. I'm not sure if this was the Gospel you were referring to in your comment. But i find it interesting that in that chapter christ explains that one of the reasons why the gospel is only those principles and done after a certain manner is so there there will be no disputations or contentions. It goes on to say that if we add to or remove any of these points from the Gospel it comes of evil.

So while a person may find temple worship, plural marriage, re-baptism, tithing, etc. important principles. These should not be confused with the gospel. Today various sects of the split up restored church argue over wheither Plural Marriage was correct or the Nauvoo Endowment was right. But instead we should focus on the Gospel and relegate those other principles to a matter of a person's relationship with God(D&c 19:31)

Another thing I've learned is that when we do this it become clearer what Alan brought up(D&C 10:67). The church consists of the collective body of those who have repented and been baptized. It doesn't matter what corporate church your are part of. It doesn't matter if you were excommunicated. It doesn't matter if you think Plural Marriage is right or wrong. If you have faith, repent, have been baptized you are part of the church.

When viewed in this manner the lines that divide us because of our beliefs fall and we can begin to see ourselves as one great whole. Wheither or not another person still has blinders on(don't we all still have some) matters little and our love and ability to work together can increase. I hope that made sense.

On a side note, I thought COB meant Church of the Brethren. In reference to the idol worship many people give to the leaders of the church.

Tom said...

Rock,

I'm putting together a spreadsheet I'll pass along with the various real estate holdings of the First Presidency and Qof12 - those that I can find at least. Should come as no surprise (at least with the current data I've culled to this point), but your favorite Boyd K. Packer seems to have the lead, with just over $2 million in real estate holdings in the Salt Lake Valley. And, all that on the meager salary of CES teacher and as a member of the "unpaid" clergy. ;)

I did a write-up in my "Church Finance" series that talked about the hunting preserves - with info gleaned from Faithful Dissident (thanks, btw) - and how it's cost prohibitive to anyone but the very affluent, and "seniority" benefits follow those who are allowed/permitted in. Some of those outfits approved for giving guided tours contain various referral quotes and more than a few echo a statement one fellow made following his guided tour and after passing dozens of other trophy elks before zeroing in on his favorite: "Thanks for the great wall hanger!!!"

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah,
Well Said!

Tom,
This is why I have to catch up with my reading on your blog. I would know these things already. Looking forward to seeing the spreadsheet.

Readers, both Zomarah and Tom maintain excellent blogs with some incredible information contained therein. I encourage you to click on their names above and check them out.

Foxy said...

This post is pure genius (and, as usual, I love how the TBMs take it as a personal attack...and attack you back. Awesome.) ANYway, I love this post so much that I'd love to repost it on my site (while giving you credit, of course) verbatim. I think it's well written, fair, and smart. I really want the people who read my blog to read this (mainly my in laws). I will obviously give you all the credit and put links to your blog all over the place and possibly give you 10% of my income.

Ron Madson said...

Rock,
I came late to this discussion but have read with interest your post and the follow up comments. Ironically, if we believe that the "Holy Church" of God was restored, then we must own the warnings of that same "Holy Church" found in 3 Nephi 16 and Mormon 8. Can't claim the one without acknowledging the condemnation/warnings.

I appreciate your voice and the others you have linked that I have checked out. The book of Jeremiah was the topic in our GD class last week. This prompted a short post (way short compared to yours) wherein I posed the question? "Where are the Jeremiahs today?" http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/where-is-jeremiah-today/
I am compiling a my own private list.....
I promise not to assist those who might want to throw you in a pit...

Anonymous said...

The church is not "you" as you have claimed - this evidenced by the name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints" proclaiming who the church is.

Similarly, although referenced frequently throughout this discussion as "their" or "member's" or "our" tithing, this is His also as is all else in this world which is created and redeemed by Him.

We do well in remembering all is on loan and we answer for our stewardships of all.

When we are asked if we sustain and support His local leaders, general authorities, presidency and president? there's your common consent.

Make no mistake, He is at the helm of His church.

For those of us who would be His hands on earth obedience is a pre-requisite to accomplish His works, of which include our individual salvation.

This is not blind obedience as some would have you believe. It requires direct daily communication with Him. It is always through Him.


Let us all remember to avoid trusting in the arm of the flesh. Why would anyone hide in their car after partaking of the sacrament? As a convert to His church I do not understand this selfishness. Be about His work! Go in His church building and edify and be edified. Pride derails us all. Do you revel in your own "wisdom"? This struggle is internal ie natural man vs spiritual man.

There is nothing spiritual found here!

There are many diversions from Him and His work. This contentious blog just one of many. Who is the father of contention?


Word to the "wise" careful in your diligence to find apostasy, may be closer than you ever suspected. Check it's definition and ponder Matt 7 and His commandments found therein.

Dave P. said...

I found out about the author and blogger Denver Snuffer from the Weeping for Zion blog and, right now, he's doing a commentary on 3 Nephi through the blog and a couple of recent ones pertain quite well to Christ worship vs. prophet worship:

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/10/3-nephi-13-1-4.html

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/11/3-nephi-15-9-10.html

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Foxy, by all means! I would like to see Daymon Smith's findings seen all over Mormondom. It's positively essential that we curb the spread of uncontrolled Brethren Worship that has lately supplanted the worship of Christ among some members.

To any and all, I say: copy, email, link, and share anything on my blog.

I do like Foxy's idea of giving me ten percent. That example is one I feel the rest of you should emulate.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Foxy, please provide a link to your site.

zomarah said...

Anonymous @7:02 You bring up some great points. Like that name the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The church belongs to("of") Jesus Christ. The church is("of") the Saints in these Latter Days.

We are the Body of the church. Christ is the Head. Or we, the Church, are the Bride and Christ is the Bridegroom. The church is not a legal entity, it cannot be. But the church is, as a mentioned previously, the collective of all those who have repented and been baptized. It doesn't matter where you live; what legal entities you belong to; what principles you believe; etc. If there are as few as two or three gathered together, there is the church. If there are hunderds gathered, there is the church. If the earth is filled will millions of repentant, baptized people, there is the church.

While I might argue that "you(singular)" cannot be the church. Because a church means more than one person. "You(plural)" are the church.

So you are right the Church belongs to Christ. But the church IS us.

I really like that you pointed out the importance of our stewardships. We all will be accountable for them. This is something very important to remember.

I take issue with your "sustaining" comment. Common consent is not simply sustaining those who have been "called." Common consent is casting your vote. There is something called the Keys of the Church. The body of the Church have the right to decide what they think is best for them. Liek the Israelites wanted to have a King, so God gave them one. God respects our agency and allows us to choose what we want even if that leads us down the wrong path.

When we talk about sustaining our leaders, it automatically presumes that those who are in those leadership positions are called of God. And if you do not "sustain" them then you are not sustaining God's anointed. An opposed sustaining vote carries no weight in determining if that person continues to work in that office. If I do not sustain Thomas Monson, then that means I am wrong and it has no effect on if he continues as President of the Church.

But a common consent vote does carry weight. If enough people consented that Thomas Monson was not to be the President of the Church then he would be removed. There is a big differnce between a sustaining vote and a common consent vote.

On a side note, if these men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators really are those things; then where are the fruits of those gifts? Where are the prophecies? Where are the visions? Where are the revelations? All I've heard lately(while it is many times inspirational) is advice any member of a congregation could give.

I agree that Christ is at the Helm of His church. But I do not equate His Church with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Inc. His church is as I described above.

Continued...

zomarah said...

...Continuation

You make a great point about obedience. We do need to be obedient. And as you pointed out our obedience cannot be in the arm of flesh. No mortal man, no matter what his title, is deserving of our trust and obedience. God alone is deserving of our trust and obedience. For example, if God commands a person to marry more than one wife, and the Church, inc. excommunicates him, that man is obedient to God.

You are right that we need to all be wary of pride. We cannot be too careful about avoiding pride.

As far is someone sitting in their car after the sacrament, that is between God and them. If God wants a person to privately study the scriptures after the sacrament, who am I to say God is wrong? For me I feel that I should go to my classes and maybe be able to inject some thoughtful comment that may help awaken someone in the class. Or maybe someone will give a comment that will help me wake up. But that is just me.

I think there was great spiritual edification in this post. What posts like this do is help us break down our idols. They help destroy faith. Faith in things that cannot save. We should only have faith in Christ. If we feel offended because some random person on the internet attacked "our beloved prophet" then maybe our priorities are not in the right place.

I find that for many "follow the prophet," "obeying leaders," and other traditions of men, become diversions from doing the work that God has commanded to be done.

Do we pay tithing on 10% of our income? Or do we pay it as given in Section 119(initial consecration of surplus, then once a year giving ten percent of our increase)? If the first, then we are diverted.

Do we obsses over any tiny particle of alcohol, or caffeine that might be in our food? Or do we live the Word of Wisdom as contained in Section 89, not as a commandment, but as a word of wisdom? If the first, then we are diverted.

Do we wait around for or leaders to tell us to build the City of Zion in Jackson County? Or do we do all we can to become a Zion people and build it today? If the first then, we are diverted.

I could give many more examples.

I apologise for the nitpick. I think you gave some great points in your comment, Anonymous.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous (Why do those who disagree with me always seem to post anonymously?),

"We" are indeed the Church, as you yourself referenced in the name of it. Who then are the Latter-day Saints" if not us?

It is the Church "of" Jesus Christ and "of" the Latter-day Saints. WE, the church, represent the body of Christ, as Paul explained it. The word "Church" is derived from the Greek Ecclesaia, meaning "Come out of her, my people." The 'her' being the Babylonian system. Certainly you would not claim that Jesus Christ had been a part of Babylon and had need of leaving. It is we who gather together to worship Christ. We do not presume that Jesus worships himself. If Jesus was the church, he would be the only one in attendance.

The current practice of sustaining the leaders is a clever bait and switch from the way things were required previously in this church. Individual proposals used to be debated and discussed as they came up, followed by a sustaining vote for that particular action. Now we are expected to "sustain" the leaders up front ahead of time, so that anything they do they can claim they already have carte blanc approval for. This is improper, and not the Lord's way.

When the scripture warns that "contention is of the Devil", it is referring to contention, not discussion or debate. "contention" implies an angry argument to the point of coming to blows. Of course that is of the Devil.

Holding accountable those who have been placed in positions of trust is of the Lord.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah,
Apparently as I was writing my response to Anonymous above, you had already posted yours. Once again, your words were so inspired they made my own superfluous.

To any who are uncomfortable with any suggestions that the Church today may not be operating as God intended, I recommend the links above from Ron Madsen and Dave P. regarding III Nephi.

P.S. to Ron: That's quite a blog you've got there. I don't know how I've overlooked before now.

zomarah said...

Hahaha. My words inspired? Well I'm not sure about that. But your comment went into detail about the history of the word "church." I really learned something new.

Anonymous said...

@ zomarah

I would maintain still that “you” are not the church. The only way this perception could possibly be accurate is when full submission to the Lord’s will by those who deem themselves as “you” (the church) occurs.

In our journeys we have agency as you say and it is respected even if it “leads us down the wrong path.”
Not so when acting in His stead.

Your assertion that Christ is the head and we are the body is exactly the point I was making in my initial comment that we are His hands here on earth.
I disagree that this is merely because we “have repented and been baptized.” It requires a submission to His will if we are to truly be His hands (or as you say “of” His church in these latter days.)

Your assertion “So you are right the Church belongs to Christ. But the church IS us.” may only become accurate when all of “us” are in submission to His will.
The moment that any “decide what they think is best for them” they walk away from His church and are no longer “of” it.
They have considered “their” will if they are “thinking what is best for them.”
Thus the opportunity to renew our covenants are so readily available each Sabbath as we all continually get derailed as we struggle. And this of course is the struggle, as I wrote in my initial comment. Our struggle is within and yet we foolishly continue to contend one with another over semantics and investments.

I like that we are in full agreement as to the issue of the care we need take with our stewardships. Again I would reference Matt 7 regarding the stewardships of others.

I am sad that we differ on His church and you choose not to see it as His. I testify that it is His. Look to Him.

The fruits of these “gifts” as you call them are evidenced all around us and if we are not so busy looking for “signs” they are more readily revealed to us.

As to your assertion that “if enough people consented that Thomas Monson was not to be the president of the church then he would be removed” this again loses sight of whose church this is. There is one who chooses who heads His church and the very instant this fact is denied is the moment “you” or “enough people” is no longer of Him.

This seems to be an issue of semantics.
The church was restored as in it’s priesthood, keys, organizations, basic foundations, etc. These are seemingly all abstract to any who do not understand that His church is never the people or the buildings or the concrete things associated with it. These things/people can never be His church. Otherwise how could it possibly have been restored? It is however found in the people who align themselves with it and submit to His will because again it is His church and “you” are only part of it through Him.

I did not find your response nit picky at all. I appreciated it and the great points you made in it! I am also glad you have yourself in the seat injecting your thoughtful comments. I always appreciate these and am edified by them. We all need to wake up as you say. :)

Anonymous said...

If you turned the same scrutiny you have for the modern church on Joseph Smith, you would be what we call an 'atheist'. What's holding you back?

Jonas said...

Hey Rock, just to make your day I will disagree with you. You are WRONG in most of what you say. You should research more before you write about that of which you have too little information.

AND YUO ARE A TOADHEAD!

There, you fell better now???

Oh my name is Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas, Jonas!

Anonymous said...

Again more semantics.
Given that the church was restored, certainly you would not claim that we as members had been resurrected.
No, because the church is not found in us. It is found in Him. We can be found there if we so choose.
What was restored were the foundations, priesthood, keys etc. all the seemingly abstract as I mentioned prior. We merely “attend” as you say. We are in no wise the church. We are His hands if we so choose.

You assert, “Contention implies an angry argument to the point of coming to blows”
This is the implication that you have derived, which is not factually based but rather as you say “implied” and only I might add to you. This is merely a perception based on your own particular bias.
We all have our own perceptions based on our biases.
I understand you see this as “discussion or debate.”
I submit tone and spirit through disagreement (as in derision, mockery, division) constitute contention thus the “spirit of contention.”
Contention is derived from Latin meaning to contend, divide.
Certainly you would not claim that this is of the Lord. Certainly you would claim this to be righteous indignation found here on this blog. If so there would not be found the tone of derision, division and mockery. Yes, the father of all these are known.
I agree with your assertion that holding accountable those who have been placed in positions of trust is of the Lord.
Certainly you would not claim He has come to you and instructed you to do so as His hands here on earth.
Lacking manifestation of this divine visitation/ inspiration we should leave this for Him as it is as you say yourself “of the Lord.”
The offerings I find in this blog are indeed filled with the spirit of division, derision and even mockery of the Lord’s anointed. These through any perception, bias or dictionary “imply” contention to all and we know the father of these.
Again I refer to Matt 7 as I suggest that rather than asking whether others “serve god or mammon?” let’s all try to be His hands as we claim we are by doing His will and build His kingdom rather than this bidding of the father of contention which divides His kingdom.
Humility and obedience are key to submission to the will of our Lord and Savior.
Remaining puffed up in our pride, rebellion, “wisdom” and judgments leads us all to the gulf of endless misery and woe without exception. So lighten up bro. :)

sunbeam said...

I guess a profile helps to distinguish huh?
Anon @ 7:02 a, 10:51 a and 12:08 p all on nov 5 are to be read as sunbeam.

dano said...

Corporations have their hand in everything these days. It is not surprising in this instance as well. Thanks for the article. it is surprising where corporatism decides to rear its ugly face. It all stems from corporations being protected under the bill of rights and the 14th amendment as " Natural Born Citizens" I go into this in much more detail in my article here:


http://www.upfordebate.us/story.php?title=corporate-america-the-real-enemy-of-the-state-1

I thought you might want to take a look at this and tell me what you think.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dano, that is an excellent exegesis of the history of corporations and how dangerous they have become since slipping their bounds. Good link.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Sunshine/Anonymous,
I have no disagreement with you that submission to the Lord's will is an important part of church membership. But if you reject the "church" as being the people, what seems to be left to your argument is that the members should submit their will to the institutional leaders whose will, and pardon me if I misunderstand, you equate with the will of God. Such a position does not seem consistent either with the ancient Christian church or the Early LDS one.

A big problem within the church as I see it is an inability to separate God's word from the will of the Church leadership. My reading of your comment implies that you see little difference between God and the Church corporate heads. The fallibility of that position is one I have addressed in "The Best Conference Talk You Never Read," here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/02/best-conference-talk-you-never-read_13.html

Also see "How To Tell If You Are An Idolator?" here:

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-tell-if-you-are-idolater.html

You are right, of course, that we must all beware of pride. But don't give me too much credit here. I'm not trying to start my own church or anything. The piece that you refer to in your comments above is nothing but a simple book review.

The misapplication of the word "Contention" is, I find, prevalent among some of the membership. It is too often used to silence someone with whom we disagree (I'm not saying that is your motivation, but you clearly wish I hadn't spoken out the way I did).

I feel this subject warrants a blog entry of its own. ("Oh no, here comes another of Rock's overlong screeds.") However, I have a bunch of other stuff to do for the next little while, and my wife is gonna kill me if I don't start spending less time on the computer. So you'll have to give me a week or two before you see that response. (I'll try to sneak and write it up when Connie isn't looking.)

Foxy said...

Here's my link. I'll be posting your blog post verbatim in increments for the next few (ish) days starting on November 7th or 8th. I want my readers to digest every word.

www.foxypinkcheetah.blogspot.com

ldsanarchy said...

sunbeam/Anonymous Nov. 5 10:51 am wrote:"Your assertion “So you are right the Church belongs to Christ. But the church IS us.” may only become accurate when all of “us” are in submission to His will.
The moment that any “decide what they think is best for them” they walk away from His church and are no longer “of” it."

This cannot be correct. I once wrote a post on this topic. When the Lord spoke of His church individually, He spoke of the possibility of the "individual church" sinning, repenting and receiving forgiveness, yet still being His (individual) church. This means that a member of the church who sins (is not in submission to His will, as you put it) is still the church, speaking individually, as the Lord Himself spoke. Only excommunication takes the church out of the person and takes the person out of the church.

LDS Anarchist

Not An Apostate said...

I cry when I read your blog. Every time. It's one of the few things left tethering me to my faith. OK, so it's not THAT dramatic of a situation -- I'm just prone to be maudlin.

Anyway, I've struggled in my church membership for my entire adult life (the past 10 years or so, as I am 31). My struggle has become particularly difficult the last 3 years. Moving to less than 1 mile away from church headquarters (the Avenues area of SLC) at the beginning of 2008 was the worst thing I could have possibly done for my testimony.

Before living in the Utah bubble I had been oblivious to many of the political and business pursuits of the church. Living here was QUITE the eye opener. The City Creek thing really bugs me. Not to mention the wrangling in local politics.

Basically, if the church doesn't agree, a law doesn't pass in Utah. Then came Prop 8. Sometimes it was all I could do to not renounce the church all together. But after October general conference any faith I had left was in tatters. I was angry... confused... and pretty sure that I no longer believed that God spoke to the apostles. For a week I walked around like a zombie. The framework from which I'd always viewed life was crumbling.

Then on the Friday following conference I finally read your blog. It was if a weight had been lifted from my chest.

I read your posts about the "14 fundamentals" as well as the post you linked in that entry (about the canned cheese). I had to leave the office and go on a walk to collect myself. I was so overcome with relief and peace and freedom that I felt like could run a marathon. Or as if I might lift off the ground and fly away at any moment. (See, I told you I am maudlin. haha.)

I feel pretty alone in my religious struggles.
My husband is wonderful and supportive. But he is an ardent atheist. He was raised in the church by TBMs so he understands what I'm going through.

He supports me in whatever religious choices I make. But he's not going to be helping me construct some way of staying in the church. And as for my friends, they are either non-members or some version of slightly more informed TBMs who don't want to rock their faith-boat and who are content to live in their little unquestioning worlds.

Feeling as though there is nowhere to turn is common for people in my situation, I'm coming to learn. And I guess I probably should have known that -- considering how much capital is given to "KNOWING" the church is true and how dire the social consequences can be for walking away from the church.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that your blog is so much a refuge for me. I divide my time between your old posts (your blog has only been known to me for a few months) and other sites like Mormon Matters. These online venues are the only place I've found help and effective comfort.

Thank you so much for the time that you spend sharing your insights with the internet world. You don't know how much you are helping me. Or how much I wish that I had people like you and your wife as close personal friends with whom I could share the occasional dinner to discuss religion with and learn from both your wife's and your wisdom and life experiences.

Jonas said...

Dear Not An Apostate,

As I have said to others here, welcome to awakening.

You describe very well what so many people are feeling when you say you feel alone in your religious struggles. Again, welcome to awakening.

It's time to ask, "Why do I feel turmoil about my religion when I should feel peace?" We want so much for the church to be "true" (someday I wish someone would explain to me what that exact statement really means) and we can hardly bare the thought that maybe we have just bought into it and convinced ourselves that it's true. Certainly our mind wants to be right, but sometimes the spirit is crying out to be heard, hence the turmoil.

People often say "the spirit will tell you . . .(or witness to you) the truth" and we often hear quoted the Lord's words to Oliver Cowdry that he would have burning in his bosom or a stupor of thought. Well that's nice for Oliver, but not all of us have the same modus operandi as Oliver so the spirit may not give us a burning or a stupor. It will communicate with us differently, and always in a way that WE can understand. The problem is we are so tuned in to our ego mind that we have blocked out the spirit when it's promptings conflict with ego.

So instead of waiting for that burning bosom, which may or may not come for any individual, I say, ask yourself this question: "Does this resonate with me?" An even better question is HOW does this resonate with me? And then (this is the hard part) TRUST the answer. It will ALWAYS be immediate. If we don't get it it's because we didn't hear, feel, see, etc.

When I read of your struggle I have empathy for you. But know this, the only struggle is between the ego mind and the spirit. The spirit won't argue but it will guide and suggest and sometimes with some degree of, ummm, energetic enthusiasm. The mind will argue, defend, and demand to be right until the day it dies.

Listen to your spirit - it IS talking to you and has been for a long time. It is crying out to you. Listen. The spirit in you will NEVER lead astray. The ego mind however will lead you anywhere it wants so long as it can rationalize that it is "Right". And if you haven't noticed, it's VERY good at rationalization.

I send you love and light. May you find the peace that Jesus offered his apostles when he said, My peace I give to you.

Aho!

Jonas

Dave P. said...

I hate to ask a silly question in the midst of the flood of great comments over the past few hours but I want to cure my ignorance over something I've seen pop up in many of them:

Exactly what does TBM stand for?

sunbeam said...

@ ldsanarchy @ 8:37pm

I will clarify as I see you have misunderstood my point.
Best done by example to avoid further confusion.
A friend had an issue with a teenager substitute teaching her child's primary class. The teenage substitute teacher was also the big sister of a child in the class. Teenager's sibling and friend's child had words and the teenager "walked away from" being His hands for the moment and did what was best for her instead by siding with the sibling and taunting friend's child rather than be the substitute primary teacher she was there to be. This was not her backyard it was the Lord's house. Friend was left to explain the inappropriateness of this action to the teeanager. Again to clarify, the teenage substitute was not in need of "excommunication" merely explaining to the child she had offended that she was acting in her own stead and was sorry she had stepped out of His stead as a primary substitute teacher to His children for that moment in time. Not that it would be wonderful for the teenager to taunt the child in her backyard but surely you see the difference.
When acting in His stead we may declare ourselves His church. When this ceases and we act upon our own best interests which are in conflict with His we have indeed walked away from Him and as I stated prior that is why the need for renewal of our covenants so frequently because it is a struggle we all face minute by minute.

sunbeam said...

Alan Rock Waterman @ 5:42p
Sunbeam here, but I’ll answer to sunshine too. I was after all trying to shed a little light where there is so much darkness to be found. Like I said prior, lighten up bro.


Ha ha ha little old me try to silence anyone. Nah, I have far too much reverence for all of our individual liberties to even contemplate a notion.
Glad you replied in this manner though as it points out the overriding paranoia which is at the heart of every post on your blog.
Personal “GPS”s need recalculating from time to time and I would take this opportunity to remind all of us again (as throughout my prior comments) that there is one we look to for this and only one. Consulting others with GPSs that are also in dire need of recalculating will not shed any light and we will likely run further off course. Let’s all look to the source for our light and direction and comfort as we find our way home. He will direct you. There is only darkness found here on this blog while you seem too encumbered by paranoia in your search for various concocted topics by which you might display your aptitude for verbosity which is impressive! Nonetheless a gift from Him also that you ought to recognize rather than self aggrandize over. Maybe even use for righteous purposes giving all the glory to Him.
But this too is lacking as evidenced by the disregard for whose tithing we are referencing here and I once again remind it is His and not “ours.”
Maybe you could deal with some substantive matter in your response to me that addresses the subject I am discussing rather than accusing me of trying to silence you.
(cont)

sunbeam said...

(continuation)
I do not “misapply” the word contention here Alan.
I find it sad that you did not touch on anything substantive that I commented on and instead went on the offense as to divert attention away from the substance. Perhaps you did “misunderstand” as you yourself offered.
I do not see how though as I never, anywhere in any of my comments “equate institutional leaders with the will of God.” Perhaps you have “misunderstood” more than just me Alan. You are correct in your assessment that it is “a big problem that” YOU see. We have established that we see things that are not always there colored by our own biases and perceptions. Look again without the paranoia/contention and take it to the Lord rather than your blog. Does it not at all concern you that others may become more confused as they ponder your words filled with paranoia, confusion, derision and mockery? Does this help you or others recalculate and Why the reference to starting your own? That certainly did not enter my mind. Why yours?
Again I will restate my case that we must look to Him through constant daily communication with Him.
Any other method will just get you more lost contentious, frustrated and paranoid as evidenced here.

sunbeam said...

I would also appreciate an answer to Dave Ps question.I don't have any idea either.

What is a TBM?

Tom said...

re: Sunbeam et al.

Accusing someone of paranoia is a baseless accusation. You might also want to check your definition of "contention" with that of the 1828 dictionary that was around during Joseph's time.

As to date I've failed to see an example, so I would ask you to please provide something that evidences the paranoia you apparently decry while tacitly admitting superiority to Rock's blog/writings (again, check that old 1828 dictionary and you might find an interesting alignment here. First check contention, then go to strife and see if that fits exactly what you state, only the finger might not be pointing in the direction you think).

Have you (or others) ever stopped to think that what Rock is doing by writing these posts is the very thing you accuse him of not doing? Namely, taking the issue to Christ? Could Christ and/or His spirit not tell Rock (or anyone else) to raise a warning voice by showing how mixed up the Church(TM) is with Babylon and how we not only don't flee from it, but willingly invite it into our homes, chapels, manuals and everything else? How not all is well in Zion?

To take Jonas' suggestion, there is very much in Rock's posts that "resonate" with what the Spirit has been telling me for the past couple of years. Putting a spotlight on some of these issues is, IMO, important and necessary. For years the Church(TM) has put forth its version of history, published their own scriptures, mixed corporatism with religion and decried anyone who thinks outside the correlated box. Your argument of paranoia and contention is little more than a straw man argument which deflects the spotlight away from the issues Rock raised and puts the spotlight on Rock's character/personality.

That's the modus operandum these days - if you don't agree with something, you call into question someone's mental state (and, please don't argue that labeling someone's writings "paranoid," "mockery," "derision," and the like isn't an attack carefully orchestrated by a correlated mind to avoid the substantive issues of the post). If what Rock (and Daymon) pointed out is incorrect, wrong or misguided than take D&C 121 as a guide and use reason, persuasion, long suffering and the like to point out the errors in the argument.

I, for one, am extremely grateful for posts such as these and is serves to redirect focus from the institution (which has made itself like unto God) to Christ, where it rightfully belongs.

P.S. TBM = "True Blue Mormon"

Insana D said...

Dear Rock, I'm glad I could help in a smattering tidbit of a way to drive some traffic to your fascinating blog. It looks like the comments could compete with the Salt Lake Tribune. What fun this must be!! Let me know when you need a bump. I'll try to raise as much controversy as possible because as you know, I work for Satan. He has the best parties.

Insana D said...

Hey, you're getting some facebook time too.

Maybe this essay will go viral and cause a little chaffing in the itchy skanky ugly calico skid marked garmies of the Mormon leadership. Rock, if you see some black SUV's near your house and hear a little clicking on your phone get out of the house quick. The Strengthening the Members Committee and their Dannite thugs will probably be at your door with a special "Calling" just for you and Connie.

Call me and I'll arrange safe passage in the Po-mo underground. We have special quilts hung on our fences that will show you the way to freedom. Also, the secret handshake goes, "health in the navel oranges, marrow in your bones, peace be upon your posterior for time and all eternity, in the name of cheese and rice, namen".

Don't go with anyone asking you to slit your bowels or throat and whatever you do, if they say, "Bow your head and say YES", run as fast as you can. If they offer you a rough pancho and tell you to get naked, don't do it man. I did that and then an old lady touched my privates and gave me a new name. It was the ultimate identity theft and I hated it till I found out that JUDITH was actually a wonderful strong female from the Apocrypha that cuts off the head of Holofernes and stuffs that ugly thing into a bag and tosses it into a river.

You're in big trouble Rock. They'll take your temple recommend and you won't be able to go and do stuff for dead zombie corpses anymore and even worse, they'll boot you out and you'll get a 10% raise, instantly!!! Oh wait, that's incentive. Ok, just keep doing what you're doing. If they call you in for a "Court of Love" tell them you'll only go if they promise to make good on the emancipation and not bother you any more. It's a trap man. I went to one of those and they still keep pestering me and trying to get me to go out with them. Freaky little creeps those Mormon folks.

Jonas said...

Insana D,

You've got me rolling on the floor! Woo-hoo!

Tom,

I sat here and began writing much of what you wrote to Sunbeam, but got so frustrated that I gave up. You stated my toughts perrfectly, thank you.

Sunbeam,

You acuse Rock of verbosity and ridicule his use of words. I have to admire his use of vocabulary that 90% of people don't comprehend. See, all those "other" words in the unabridged dictionary are for our benefit in expressing ourselves verbally and in written form and Rock knows how to use some of them. I dunno though, maybe we should ask Rock to "dumb down" a bit to the level of the gross majority because his words are just too big. Either that or look up the freakin' words in the dictionary; that's what it's for! (Is "freakin'" in the dictionary???) :)

Are you open to a little feedback? Yes? Good. Go to your local junior college or university or maybe high school and take some comprehensive writing classes. I'm going bald from scratching my head while trying to follow your posts and make some logical sense of them.

Have you read my earlier posts here to some other people? The ones that speak against judgment? It would serve all if you would step away from judgment. It simply lowers the vibration of the world when one judges.

Cap'n Moroni said...

Insana D,
What skid marks? The truly righteous don't get skidmarks in their garmies. I can attest to this personally.

Insana D said...

Maybe ugly skanky calico colored nasty clingy crawl up the crack garments are just a Utard thing. Maybe you have a special colon that remains properly constricted with uptight doctrine that keeps any sort of anal leakage from escaping.

Spend a day in any Central Utah Gospel Doctrine class and you'll want to down a barge full of prunes to just expell the rotted feces that flows from the locals. It builds up till you become nearly jaundiced from the toxins.

The only cure is to avoid going to church for a decade or two. I had to have a full out religious enema to completely detox.

Here's a prediction, if you and your spouse get rid of the skanky calico colored ugly itchy crawl up the crack nasty not-magic underpants your sex life will improve!! It's worked wonders for mine.

Insana D said...

I apologize devout Mormons. I'm taking out a lot of venom (masqurading as just playful snark)on anonymous people when I really want to direct it at specific rabid bigoted Mormons I know in person. Since I belong to a family of "Don't ask, don't tell" clueless close minded non communicative denialist Mormons I just don't get a chance to work this stuff out with the actual purveyors of untruth and ignorance.

My apologies to the fans of Rock Waterman as well. I'm sure most of you are very good folks.

Dave P. said...

I can understand your frustrations, Insana D. The one main problem you face is that not everyone who reads your comments will have a sense of humor.

Cap'n Moroni said...

I have a sense of humor!

And this is one devout Mormon reader and fan of Rock who understands your need to vent, Insana. We all know some of those self-righteous LDS among us who we wish we could shake and say, "Look what you're doing to our image! Do you see what other people think of us because of the way you are behaving? Try a little Christian nonjudgment once in awhile, will ya?!!" BTW, those kind are not just in Central Utah either.

Only us perfect Mormons don't get skidmarks. Just rashes. Rashes are for the righteous.

sunbeam said...

Dave P.,
I have a sense of humor!

Jonas,

It’s not that “90% of people don’t comprehend” his vocabulary. It is comical that you are blind to the fact that 90% simply don’t comprehend his desire to use such superfluous vocabulary. It is off putting as it attempts to draw attention to the speaker rather than the message, but now I am open to the idea that maybe that is the true purpose her.

Christ’s method of communicating through simplicity and humility tends to make one listen and evaluate honestly. His followers know this and they attempt to emulate his behavior.

I’ve known Alan many years and he is a born communicator. Here he has lost sight of his true talents as he has become mired in contention and paranoia and attempts to unite all those of his mindset while simultaneously holding at bay those who are not with petty derision, sarcasm, contention and yes paranoia. The title of the blog entry itself screams paranoia “undermining and subversion?” You cannot get more paranoid.
continued

sunbeam said...

continuation...
You ask if I am open to a little feedback, of course. I am not close minded. How about you?

Why do you and others of your mindset perceive my feed back to be “judgment” and your own to be “feedback?”

This is the true mark of self-righteousness. In your own minds you have set yourself above others and think you look down upon them.

Let’s take a moment to refresh. The topic of this blog entry is an accusation of subversion and undermining. At the end there is a place inviting comments. I left my “feedback” as to the opinion held by evidently 90% by your calculations that this is a contentious, superfluous, paranoid post.
I left my feedback that it is the Lord’s tithing we were referencing not “ours” or “theirs” or “the members” as stated frequently throughout the initial blog entry by Alan.
I left my feedback that these matters are best taken to the Lord in constant daily communication.
I left my feedback that He is at the helm of His church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.

Might I suggest a disclaimer to be found where comments are invited along the lines of “those of a different mindset will be deemed as judgment while those with like minds will be deemed as feedback we have no desire to discuss here just vent.”

sunbeam said...

Insana D,
I am sorry you belong to a “family of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ clueless close minded non communicative denialist Mormons” (your words) of which you are one.

Again my recommendation is that you get off the blogs and take it to the Lord. He is not found here. He is the only one you will “work this stuff out with” not as you say the “actual purveyors of untruth and ignorance.”

sunbeam said...

Cap’n Moroni,

Touche!
My point exactly, “Look at what you’re doing to our image! Do you see what other people think of us because of the way you are behaving? Try a little Christian nonjudgment once in awhile, will ya?!!”

Let’s all ask ourselves are we attempting to tear down or build up His kingdom. It will roll along with or without us because He truly is at the helm.

The only thing we should concern ourselves with is what He would have us do.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Cap'n Moroni and Insana D,

Allright kiddies, let's cut it out and get back on point. I will turn this car around if I have to.

Dave P. said...

Believe me, if you guys didn't have a sense of humor you wouldn't be posting under your own aliai. I'm simply waiting for yet another Anonymous who will take offense and whine about how the latest discussion has been making fun of the temple ordinances. i.e.: another regular TBM who can only "refute" what Rock normally has to say with the same tired tripe that got the church into its current mess to begin with.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Sunbeam,
We know each other? That's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

(Sorry for the superfluous vocabulary.)

Actually, those who know me personally almost never call me Alan, they call me by Rock. So who are you, really? My big sister Elsa?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(Note to self: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is not recognized by this blog's Spellcheck feature. Must enter it into online dictionary as soon as I have the energy to type it out again.)

Dave P. said...

Copy and Paste are your friends, Rock.

sunbeam said...

Yes I know and I would ordinarily refer to you as Rock :) but how would that lend to the overall sense of paranoia? See what I did there?

Insana D said...

Oh that silly Sunbeam, doesn't she know that I've moved way beyond imaginary magic super heroes and into a self reliance. Her projection of "His" qualities and powers are cute but really silly and reflect exactly why so many people struggle to take Mormons seriously.

My friendship with Rock Waterman is purely based on his interesting research and unique conclusions. I celebrate his creativity and while I don't always agree with his findings I am impressed with his desire to just keep digging and turning rocks over till he finds something that fits. That sort of curiosity seldom fits into the LDS mindset and I think will be the key to his undoing in Mormonism but also the key to finding out that the world is a much bigger and more amazing place than Mormonism offers.

As to Sunbeam, I think she is a perfect Mormon and fits well there. She should stay put and not dabble in conversations that are beyond the tight tiny dark box of her own confirmation bias.

I felt a gnat flit by. They are so irritating.

Insana D said...

Hey Rock, the podcasts on serving Mammon are fascinating and disturbing. I feel even more foolish for the years I gave to the church but sad that so many will continue to give money to such a corrupt organization.

Today I'll go to my UU church. It's 50/50 Sunday and 50% of our donation will go to a ligitimate and transparent charity that accounts for every penny donated and gives very detailed specification on what qualifies as an authorized charity.

When I give my meager money I know exactly where it goes. I know that my dollar actually feeds a poor kid, locally and abroad. I know that 50% of my donation goes to my local UU church for actual administrative costs which are also broken down and reported in detail twice a year. As a member of my congregation I'm invited and allowed to participate in the decisions of how that money is distributed. I feel safe and confident knowing that my money goes to an authentic transparent organization.

I did not have that privelege as a Mormon. There is no account of where my meager tithes went and I resent that I helped fund such corruption and graft. I'm ashamed of my contribution to the Corporate Mormon machine.

GayBob Spongebath said...

Hey, Rock! They're slamming you over at the Mormon Apologetics site.

Looks like you finally got the attention of the big boys.

The person who posted it says he tried posting your piece at LDS.net, but it didn't last 20 minutes there. It was taken down faster than it would have taken the moderator just to read it. Must have noticed all that "darkness" Sunbeam refers to. Easy to spot, that.

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/topic/52001-how-corporatism-has-undermined-and-subverted-the-church-of-jesus-christ/

Insana D said...

I am an agent of Satan and he approves this message (if you believe in Satan, which is sort of silly when you think about it). Cool Rock, your article is presenting a quandry because if they post it on a Mormon site it leads the devout but inquisitive to the podcast and books which is like Cryptonite to Superman. If they ban it that just makes the more curious MORE CURIOUS. Like a red button with a sign that says, "DO NOT PUSH THE RED BUTTON". There's a certain percentage of people whose internal need for autonomy will by-pass the mandate and look anyway.

Satan thanks you for your good works. He told me to say that. He also says that Sunbeam is sort of easy to poke fun at. He told me to give her a break because she's still a child.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Gosh, Insana, I don't know whether to thank you or command you to get thee behind me!

sunbeam said...

Insana D,
Oh the world certainly does have many things to offer and I am sad that you enjoy much of the stuff one "finds under rocks." This preference would more accurately be described as "tight tiny dark box" than removing oneself from such "worldly" pursuits and aligning with the love and light that our Savior offers.

Rest assured the tithes you fret over are accounted for by Him whose they are and He remembers you did as He instructed. Their use beyond this is left to others who He remembers also. Any misuse would be accounted for to Him and does not take away from your act or add to it.

sunbeam said...

Insana D,

Thank you for your generous compliment! I am not there but appreciate your thinking me so. It is my goal to "become as little children."

Insana D said...

He, Him, His, Savior, ... my goodness, for an all powerful holy righteous being he sure is rather absent. Maybe he's like an engineer who likes the inventive side of making worlds without end and the inhabitants but when it comes to the maintenence he would rather just hole up down in his mama's basement and play Doom or whatever little boys are playing these days.

Sunbeams imaginary friend is very interesting but from all the accounts I've read he seems to be a sort of Gay Buddhist. I have lots of gay friends so I can understand the allure. Does He,Him, Savior return the calls? So far He, Him, Savior is sort of a no show in my book. After a while I finally got the message and decided I had to fix my problems on my own.

Ok Rock, I'm done playing with your visitor. I feel mean taking shots at someone so unarmed.

sunbeam said...

Insana D,
Of course He returns the calls! He has no control over whether we listen. That is the whole point of this journey but remember He marked the path and led the way and definitely answers our calls. You are not on your own but you are responsible.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Children! Both of you stop hitting each other right now! Don't make me get the wooden spoon.


(Did anyone else's mother threaten to spank them with the wooden spoon, or is that just a peculiarity of my mom?)

sunbeam said...

I have felt the sting of the wooden spoon not just the threat of it. :(

sunbeam said...

The egg turner left more interesting patterns behind than this or the the yard stick, hairbrush, belt, hanger etc.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Okay now, Sunbeam. Seriously, you wrote that you've known me for many years. So who are you? PM me at Rockwaterman@gmail.com and fess up. I'll keep your secret.

What gets me is that you claim to know me, while declaring that I'm filled with darkness and paranoia. What gives?

Oh, wait a minute... Only those actually acquainted with me would ever be aware of the heartless demon from the fiery pit who dwells within my blackened soul.

So I guess the question answers itself.

sunbeam said...

yeah......no.
I have been too mean spirited and judgmental out of my own contention upon reading this to step out from the shadows of anonymity.
Too much to lose a friend and my anonymity all in one day.
Forgive me.

Insana D said...

I concur, Rock (Alan) Waterman is a vile filthy heartless demon from the fiery pit and has a charred blackened heart. He actually traded his soul for a tuna fish sandwich. Funny thing is, he THOUGHT it was tuna but it was actually cute intelligent dolphins that had been clubbed by wicked Godless Japanese in a secret cove.

They found the meat to be nasty and blubbery so they sold it to Wal-Mart with just two tuna on top of the whole lot and it was made into the cheap stuff, from which Rock (Alan) Waterman got the tuna sandwich of which I'm speaking.

The guy who got his sole just tossed it into a big vat of sole and sold it back to the Japanese as sushi. So the circle of life is complete. Jesus told me to say that. You're right Sunbeam, he does call back, but only if he has something smarmy to say. The guy is a card, really. A total card.

Insana D said...

So over on MADB the tards are having a pissing match to see which state has more meth labs. I think that's one of their classic diversionary tactics when they don't have a good response to a difficult quandry.

One of my favorite smarty pants guys posed this unique question to the MADB folks regarding Rocks essay. What do you all think of this?

Johan

Newbie: Without form, and void

Well, it reminds me mostly of Jesus telling someone, who was financially well off, comfortable, had lots of servants to do things for him, who let Jesus know he wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus reply was to tell him to sell or give away everything he owned, and then to follow him. He couldn't do it. Jesus was sad. He said it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to grunt nails.

Maybe the greatest leaders of the church need to find a way to practice that. Maybe every seventh year, give up all they own, take a vow of poverty, go without script or purse, and teach the gospel in the streets and door to door. One thing that would do, would be to put them in contact with average joes once again. And it would certainly accrue merit in heaven for them. It would be a winwin situation. They would gain blessings, and free themselves of attachment to material goods, offices, titles, honors, honorariums, and on the other hand it would provide non-members with the very best examples and teaching that the church could provide. The apostles and other leaders who do this would be setting a wonderful example for newer, younger missionaries."

Connie Waterman said...

Sunbeam my friend,

If you think you would lose Rock's friendship, you don't know him anymore. He is completely incapable of being offended. Maybe the OLD Rock, sure. But he is now a Being of such love and light that sometimes he overwhelms even me.
His ability to forgive and let pass even the cruelest slights (and your statements don't qualify as "cruel" by any measure) is truly Christlike.

Besides, we all understand that you have simply been defending your beliefs here, and remember, we are all fellow believers in Christ, and we share the same religion. You have shown exceptional courage to speak out here in the face of some who disagreed with your interpretation, and some have tried to beat you up a little.

So if you are a former girlfriend of Rock's I Hope you'll overlook whatever slights or offenses he may have been responsible for in the past, and go ahead and reach out to him and make contact. Rock has been a lifelong devoted member of the Church, but only since 2007 has he truly "experienced the mighty change".

His blog is a result of that awakening to Christ. He is well aware that some of his opinions and discoveries may be the source of discomfort to others. You are not the first, believe me.

Love,
Connie

Jonas said...

Connie, you make a good point. I have found my relationship with the Great Master, Jesus (or Joshua as He seems to prefer) has grown to a point that I can only describe as "intimate", but that relationship developed AFTER I left the LDS church.

Sunbeam, it is possible to have a very spiritual life, complete with insane humor, outside the church. There are no required ordinances, priesthoods, or any other "have-toos". It's just about my relationship with God. Period. I know this is hard to handle and you will probably disagree, and that's okay. Insana was right when she said, and I paraphrase, you are in the perfect place. But so am I and so is she. In fact every single person on earth is in the perfect place right now for their experience. That also includes Rock, with his now-blackend heart. :)

The only thing that matters is our love for one another.

And Insana, don't start with me with your insanely-witty, LOL, writing style, for the use of the word intimate here. :) :) :) Or I'll send HIM over to fill your thong with itchy, scratchy, anti-intimate, you-ain't-havin'-no-sex-tonight powder. :)

Ummmmm, does anyone know how to fill a thong? There's nothing there to fill.

Insana D said...

So am I the only one that thinks the legends of Jesus would infer that the guy was gay? He only hung out with men, was good to his mother, if he had sex it was only with a prostitute (probably no kissing allowed) and he was really kind, loving, gentle, and compassionate. All traits I find in my numerous Gay friends.

A gal can pray all she wants to a guy like that and he's still not going to switch teams. So if Jonas claims an intimate relationship with some guy he's nicknamed Josh then I'll be the first one to congratulate him on finding the love of his life. What a rat bastard I'd be to try to deny someone that kind of true love.

Regarding my magic panties (sorry to ruin the fantasies, but no thong. Those are like floss for the buttocks) I am a devout follower of the Victoria's Secret Coven and we are devoted to wearing 100% cotton with quality elastic and a comfort fit that is both alluring and comforting.

Send HIM over but if he tries to steal my panties again I'm going to have to report HIM. The guy is relentless. He took my best robe, the one with the little fishy symbol sewn into it and the extra large hoody. Then he took a large sash I was saving for one of my toga parties. I'm also missing some of my favorite harachi sandals. If he's got them tell him they're too small for him. He's like a size 13 mens and I'm a diminuitive 6, or 7 if they're heels.

I also want my T neclace back. He keeps borrowing it as some sort of symbol. Probably had a crush on that doubting Thomas guy and so needs a little memento of their "friendship".

Jonas said...

Nah, He's not gay. Me either. He's just a nice guy with a hell-of-a-sense of humor.

I asked about the panties and other things. He said He didn't steal them, just took them because he knew you were going to have some witty, smart-scratchy a**ed remark on my "intimate" comment. He loaned them to some old homeless chick for a few days and then will return them to their proper place in your drawer. They'll have all that stuff I mentioned, along with a few crabs and some really awesome skid marks.

Oh, He said to tell you, "Hi." And he loves your wit - perverse as it is. :)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Will you two please stop drinking and posting?

Dave P. said...

I was doing some pondering about this last night and came to the conclusion that, while the corporation of the church has made it completely unrecognizable from the one Joseph Smith founded, it is indeed the members who are truly Christlike and live the gospel as best they can who have made it possible for me to experience what I have that I cannot deny: hence why I tell people that the church can fall apart, but its the gospel that I fully believe in.

I'm also going to do my own part to subtly fight against the corporatism where I'm able: such as living the law of tithing to a degree between me and the Lord (and not what the leaders tell me) and especially purchasing a copy of the FULL Joseph Smith translation of the Bible along with a hardcover edition of the Lectures on Faith.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave,
I am pretty well convinced that the Lord does continue to shower his spirit upon and through the members of this church, even if the evidence of His guidance is currently not visible at the corporate level. Individual revelation is still available to those who seek it even while institutional revelation may not be. The gifts of the spirit can still be seen within the body of Christ, so I have not lost hope.

Insana D said...

This is probably a title for another essay Rock but what you just mentioned there, that THE LORD SHOWERS HIS SPIRIT THROUGH THE MEMBERS, and the gifts that come from him...that seems to suggest that all the hard work, all the sacrifices and labor of YOU, THE MORMON PEOPLE is being credited to your God. Doesn't that strike you as a bit twisted?

My mother has given her life to the LDS church. In every way she's the epitome' of a good LDS woman and serves without murmur or complaint. She does it all and gives every penny of her tithes without any resentment or requirement of accountability on the part of the church. She serves in the temple as well as her ward. She went on two LDS missions which she paid for totally out of her own meager school teacher retirement. She has helped dozens of her kids and grandkids with their mission funds. Perfect in every way right?

Yet if you ask her she'll give it all over to some guy named Jesus Christ. The guy is NEVER there for her but still he gets all the credit. He's not the one out sitting with the sick and weary or standing till his varicose veins are bulging with pressure doing some silly handshake checking at the temple. Nope, it's my mom. He's not there when she helps clean some old ladies house after the woman has died. He's not there when she has to decide whether to pay for her own medicine or give the money to the church for tithing. It's all her.

In a way the LDS church does the same to it's members. They give, do all the work, hold all the callings, clean their own buildings and pay their own way and the church takes all the glory. Even when a devout Mormon dies the church comes in like a big dog and pisses all over their own funeral so they can claim it as a missionary tool. They can't even give their devout members a couple hours in the limelight.

The church and Jesus remind me of the foolish husband that waits till after his wife has given birth to two 9 lb large headed twins and then stands around gloating that HE sure is a stud because his sperm can swim. His part takes all of four minutes (including foreplay) and yet he gets all the credit.

I wish for my mom's sake that just once she could wake up one day and pat herself on the back and say, "I DID THIS". She deserves some recognition for how it turned out. When she dies the damn church will piss all over her funeral too and she'll have to go to the back of the bus for that one too. Even more sickening, she'll bow her head and say "Yes" and go willingly.

Dave P. said...

Insana D.,

Are you just bitter? Regardless of who gets the credit and from what you alluded to when you weren't ranting, I can definitely say this: Your mother is a good person. Even if the credit is stolen, she's still the one who did the actual act and no force in the universe can change that fact.

Dave P. said...

Oh I heard a good one tonight. The FHE lesson was about finding a personal path to righteousness and of course the teacher covered service and giving before delivering this gem.

"And of course if you feel like giving all you can spare to the church, at least you'll know that all of your money will be used to care for the poor and needy."

I had to utilize nearly all my willpower to not laugh. Now if we still had the annual declaration of how tithing funds were spent (as the church has been commanded since the early days), we would have an idea as to what was happening with those funds. However, since that annual declaration has ceased, we have no reason to believe that claim made in the lesson.

Insana D said...

http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/no-sanctuary-at-leogane-haiti-mormon-church-during-hurricane-tomas/19706704

that article then read this statement from the LDS church official site:
“All about us there are many who are in need of help and who are deserving of rescue. Our mission in life, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, must be a mission of saving. There are the homeless, the hungry, the destitute.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Mission of Saving,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 59

And thanks Dave P. for pulling out the "You're just bitter" card. I had a bet going that I could get a Mormon to pull out the "Faith, Were you Offended, You're just bitter and want to sin, or The Lord would not let his leaders lead us astray" cards. Then there's the ol' Joker card of "It'll all be worked out in the Millenium". They're all like a pair of twos in the great game of poker but it gets very old when the LDS pull those out to try to diffuse attention from the issue and onto the one posing the question. It's an old passive agressive trick that even the uppity ups in the church love to play but reflects either a weak counter argument or a very infantile intellectually dishonest manipulation. Being baited into such a game almost makes me feel bitter, but mostly bored.

Anonymous said...

Another grammar correction

it is not "Books of Mormon" which would signify books belonging to Mormon, but "copies of the Book of Mormon" which makes the BoM its own entity...or thing...or entity

Dave P. said...

I'm afraid there's a different between asking, "Are you bitter?" vs. "You're just bitter." Just like there's a difference between asking a question and putting words into other people's mouths. I can't claim to be able to read your mind; I can only form a theory based on what's already been said and gain further insight via questions.

However, enough is enough. From what I've seen in your comments, you've taken the opportunity to shamelessly twist people's words and turn them into a means of making fun of those people or completely bashing those who even continue to believe in God. That wasn't the point of Rock's post nor of the blog as a whole. The reason why his approach works so well is because it's informative and not confrontational. There are several people out there who simply don't know what's going on and will be reading many of these posts and comments for the first time. However, we all have to be careful with these comments so Rock and the blog aren't just labeled as another watering hole for "antis."

We can agree to disagree on any subject, but the confrontational attitude, intentionally baiting people and passing off their side of the arguments with calling them weak or making fun of what they believe; whether they be TBMs, those who are questioning whether the church has fallen away, or those who have left it and a belief in God behind is only making you and Rock look bad.

If you want to attack or bash me and my arguments, feel free to do so on your own blog, but this one is Rock's "house" and what he says goes. So, for the sake of being civil and having respect for hour host, please just stop it, stick with the discussions at hand, and do what we can to disprove the attitude of, "Those who leave the church can't leave it alone."

As Rock said, he hasn't lost hope because he believes there are many individual members out there who are still very Christ-like people. They've done nothing wrong to maintain that attitude, but they may be ignorant as to what's been happening and outright attacking them for what they believe, whether you believe it with them or not, is the best way to turn them off from listening to your point. I don't wish to call you out as a person, but I am calling you out on your actions.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

If I may come to Dave's defense, Insana (and I see he has just responded to you and beat me to it but I'm going to mention this anyway),I believe I've gotten to know Dave well enough both here and in private to say I believe you've misread him.

He is not one of those people who is apt to be dismissive of those who leave the church over real concerns with that old chestnut "Oh, she just left because someone said something that offended her."

No, I think he was being empathetic to your situation. I believe he understands those who have real concerns, and I don't think HE buys into that "she was offended bit, or that he thinks people generally walk away from a lifetime of belief over some petty slight.

He asked if you were bitter. That's not the same as being dismissive of you or your reasons. In fact his comment was a way of reaching out to lend you reassuance that your mother's lifetime of good acts aren't lost, and that the Church may have taken the credit for her goodness, but it can't steal the credit from her in the eyes of most others.

Of course, now that you jumped all over him, you made him mad, and all that empathy has flown out the window because now HE's offended. I think you were too quick to take offense in this instance because he said something that offended...ah crap, now I'M doing it.

Anyway, I agree with him that we ought to get this thread back on point. Everybody kiss and make up.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the grammar tip, Anonymous. It always used to hurt my teeth hearing my missionary companions refer to them as "Book of Mormons" when referring to the books in the plural.

Although I still believe "Books of Mormon" is appropriate, it does sound awkward, and I couldn't think of an alternative. "Copies of the Book of Mormon" fits the bill nicely.

Dave P. said...

So long as we can mutually agree to move on, that will indeed be best for all of us.

For now, getting back on topic, I had another thought in connection with that FHE lesson I mentioned last night. Nephi talks about not putting his trust in the arm of flesh and we've been discussing on the blog how that applies to the blind notion of "follow the prophet." I realized last night that the description of the "arm of flesh" can apply just as much to an earthly organization just as it can to any one person or group of people, mainly because such things are run by those same people.

That made me wonder on which is worse: Putting blind faith in the president of the church or the church as an entity as a whole? My personal answer is the latter simply because I find it more subtle and harder to detect. It also adds to my personal theory that the Endowment has been compromised because I have to wonder if, at the end, it refers to "the church" as being the body of Christ or as the corporate entity that the post talks about. That part of the ordinance always bugged me because of its wording due to how it points our service towards the church and not the Lord.

Insana D said...

Dave P, and most of all Rock, I sincerely apologize. I think my bitterness is a reflection of my bitterness and I used this forum as a place to vent by proxy to people who aren't the ones I should be directing my venom at.

Perhaps I've heard the excuses from so many LDS that my panties instantly twist up in knots when the mere mention of "bitter" comes up. I've seen that used as a way to divert attention from an important issue and onto the one asking the question that I go into hyper drive when I think it's on the radar.

Rocks blog has gotten a fire burning in my dark heart. I think my rant regarding my own mother is a somewhat related topic in that her devotion and contribution to the church for more than half a century has been ill used by the church that she's so devoted to.

My ridicule of any deity is not warranted on this blog as well. I'm weary of letting God get credit for things that very good humans do for themselves and others and that's why I lashed out. People give money to the LDS church because they think it's money for their God. I cannot compute that rationale. If God is so powerful he could get his own money. Rocks essay gives me a lot of ammunition for the belief that the LDS church and their god do not have the interests of the people at heart.

I am going to take a break from posting but not from reading. I have plenty of places where I can vent. Please do not associate my association with Rock Waterman as a reflection of his poor taste in friends. I latched on to him and he is just too nice to tell me to STFU.

Jonas said...

Choices, choices. If a person offers service to another it is a choice. If that service is a single act or a lifetime activity, it is a choice. Where the “glory” or recognition for that service goes is also a choice, but no one can “steal” that from another. So if Insana D’s mother chooses to spend her life in service, how can anyone fault her? And if she chooses to give credit to some other entity, then that is her choice.

We are an ego based society and so often are based in “I” “Me” “Self”, etc. We want the credit, and we want to look good to those around us. But what I have noticed is that at some point, some people rise to a higher level and begin to put off the ego in favor of something else, namely, living a higher vibration. They no longer seek credit or acknowledgement. They only seek to serve. The idea is that service is the greatest cause of all is brought out well in the movie Peaceful Warrior with Nick Nolte. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.

I am deliberately taking the name (or word) God out of my discussion for a minute and allowing for service to stand on its own. There is no greater cause. In our ego we think we are individuals standing on our own, but that is false precept. We are in fact all one. Just like an Aspen grove. We see a thousand trees, but in reality an Aspen grove has but one single root system and each tree is a manifestation of the same mother root. And so it with us, we are all a manifestation of something much larger than little ole’ “me”.

Jonas said...

Insana D,

I just finished the previous post and was going to write this one, and then your latest post came in with your apology. If it makes a difference to anyone, then I wholly accept your apology, but from my perspective, it isn’t necessary.

We are each on our own path and it makes no difference what that path looks like. There isn’t a right or wrong choice and there isn’t “one true church”.

And thank you for letting us know that, yes, bitterness is an issue with you. That’s okay and as you know you’re not alone in that.

I have been reading Power vs Force by David R Hawkins. He’s a well established psychoanalyst who left his practice for research. On page 102 he says:
“The most catastrophic depressions in clinical practice occur in people who have discovered that they have been spiritually deceived. Such disillusionment and pain is far more severe than that which results from other losses in life, and recovery has not always been possible.”

I find this little paragraph wholly enlightening. It gives me a greater understanding of those who are angry at whatever church or guru they are angry at. As we go through life we can be deceived in so many ways, but if we can’t trust our spiritual leaders, than who can we trust? It’s a valid question. In my egoic opinion, spiritual deceit should carry a much harsher sentence than any other deceit or crime.

In my case I don’t feel I was cheated by being brought up Mormon. Seduced, yes, but not cheated. I still learned some very good principles at Sunday school, (yuk) but today I am looking from a higher perspective and seeing things differently. It was a good educational basis. And now I have moved on to examine who I am when that "I" is disconnected from a tiny man-made box.

There is another idea from the aforementioned book that I would like to put here. It is still on page 102.
“What of a true teacher? In the first place, a universal hallmark is that the true teacher never controls anyone’s life in any way, instead merely explaining how to advance consciousness.”

THAT my friends, is what I look for. Rock, there is a topic I would love to see you delve into!

Insana D, this wasn’t written TO YOU, but to any and all who feel cheated by their Mormon (or any other) background. It was however inspired by you, and thank you. This is also written to those who can't figure why their friend, loved one, etc, is angry at the church. Can you accept the fact that they see something you choose not to see and that it bothers them?

I have found since I left church that some friends and family pray for my return. In a way I resent this, although I realize their intentions are good. When I discover what they are doing, I simply ask them to stop. And I mean, STOP. I do not wish to have someone pray that my life will look like theirs.

With that said, Inasan D I am sending you some healing energy. If you want it, accept it, if you don't that's okay, you don't have to accept it. The difference is that I am not asking for your life to look like anything with the exception that I hope you overcome the anger, because that is detrimental to a happy life. Oh the energy is just energy from the universe. It's as simple as that.

Honor the journey and enjoy it.
Jonas

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Nicely done, Insana D.

You too, Jonas. Nicely done.

Jonas said...

Well Dang, am I going to anything done today besides writing on your blog???

Immediately after my last post I picked up my book Power vs Force and read the following. It seemed so apropos that I had to post it.

From page131: “Religion is often associated with force, sometimes disastrously so, historically and today; whereas spiritual concepts such as loyalty, freedom and peace do not create strife or conflict, much less war. Spirituality is always associated with non-violence.”

Alyssa Rock said...

Here's a thought I had while I was musing about this blog entry a couple days after reading it the first time...

My main motivation to pay tithing is so that I can hold a temple recommend, and so that got me thinking about what it costs to attend the temple.

According to Google, the median household income in America is $49,777. If you're a "good" Mormon who goes to the temple the usual once a month (at least that's what I usually hear bantered about as being "the usual") and you make the average American wage, you are paying $414.80 in tithing per temple session. Kind of puts things into perspective, I must say...

zomarah said...

I'm reading this post with my wife. She mentioned a joke among the members of the Church in the Philippines. It is, that when the Saviour comes the people at the PBO(Presiding Bishopric's Office) are going be the first one's burned.

Dave P. said...

Well it was hard to find and a bit more expensive than expected, but I managed to find a copy of the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible that contains the whole thing, rather than just the side-by-side comparison against the verses changed from the KJV.

It looks like the church actually published a full version of the JST back in 1867 but I couldn't afford the $1,500-$2,500 price on Amazon.

Michael K. said...

@ Dave P.:

Doesn't the Community of Christ sell the Joseph Smith translation of the bible? I believe they call it the "inspired version", but I think they have it as a "normal" book.

http://www.heraldhouse.org/cart/edit.asp?p=76774

Best wishes.

Dave P. said...

That's exactly what I found, just at a different site (same price too).

Jonas said...

It is a common error to identify spirituality with religion.
Over time, the spiritual principles upon which religions are based become distorted for expedient ends such as power, money and worldliness. Whereas the spiritual is tolerant, religiosity is commonly intolerant. The former leads to peace, the latter to strife, bloodshed and pious criminality. There remains, however, buried within every religion, the spiritual foundation from which it originated.

Rock, thank you for looking at the original foundation. It has been buried for a long time.

Rock Waterman said...

I have a JST with the awkward title "Joseph Smith's 'New Translation' of the Bible" which was published by either Deseret Book or Bookcraft some years ago. So we do have our own, but I do a lot of reading while I'm out, so I never felt comfortable being seen reading that book in public with the title blaring out in that large typeface.

And when I took it to church with me, members thought it was anti-Mormon because the title seemed to be mocking the idea.

Dave P. said...

The copy I got is simply titled "Holy Scriptures - Inspired Version" and it will be fun educating people on the fact that the JST has been available as such for a long time.

Carl Youngblood said...

Alan, I must say I was disappointed in this post although I have enjoyed previous ones. I think you swallowed the author's premise a little too gullibly. BCC had a nice review of the book here:

http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/10/12/review-the-book-of-mammon-a-monograph-of-the-church-as-owned-corporation/

(be sure to read the comments)

The biggest beef I have with it (I admit I haven't read it yet) is its insistence on the supreme importance of the legal structure used to define and protect the assets of the Church. If the spirit of the law (as opposed to the letter, "which killeth") is so important, why does it matter what kind of legal entity is used by the Church bureaucracy to organize things? Why must you see the legal entity as either the One True Way(TM) or The Great and Abominable(TM. Bro. Bruce Inc.)?

It is naive to assume that it is possible for an organization like the Church to be managed without some level of bureaucracy. A more mature attitude, in my opinion, would be one that demonstrates a deep understanding of organizational behavior and analyzes the Church from the perspective of its goals and the extent to which its structure detracts from or contributes to these goals. Instead, all I feel you've done here is a hatchet job that naively places an unattainable feel-good ideal over real-world results, which are bound to be messy and fall short, but which are ultimately all we can do.

Carl Youngblood said...

Sorry, I see that you actually did comment on that very article I referred you to. I still don't think that you've adequately addressed the criticisms in Comment 91 over there. You spent pages and pages accumulating accusations and insinutations about the evilness of the Church's legalities and then brush off this criticism with one sentence. You can't have it both ways. Either the Church is just a spiritual ideal or it actually is a physical organization with real people and real property. I think that this criticism is spot on:

"I find it somewhat ironic that a group of Mormon thinkers who would normally embrace the uniquely materialistic aspects of Mormonism at the personal level are typically repulsed in some fashion when that materialism manifests itself at the institutional level."

Alan, you've got something good going on here. Please don't let it sink into the average crap posted in the DAMU.

Carl Youngblood said...

FYI, I posted a comment over at that article:

"Rock, I still don’t think you have responded adequately to William’s point that your criticism of the Church’s legal structure is unwarranted. A good portion of your essay focused on the evilness of the corporation itself, not on the particular manner in which it is managed. I think your post would be much more compelling if you left the dogmatic mumbo-jumbo out of it and focused on your complaints about how the inertia of the bureaucracy can sometimes interfere with the Church’s ideals, and I would give you even more brownie points if you could address what better alternatives could theoretically be implemented. Keep in mind that in many cases, when dealing with bureaucracies of this size, it is difficult even for the leaders to bring about change. The org essentially takes on a life of its own and seeks its own survival, often through difficult inter-departmental struggles."

Carl Youngblood said...

Sorry for the excessive posts, but I think the case study of the Book of Mormon challenge is an interesting one. Back in the day, you felt it was inspired. Now you feel it was a scam. Which of your selves was right? Both? Neither? I think there are multiple attitudes about nearly every event that happens, some of which trend positive and others of which trend negative. Take just about any sacred cow you want and I feel confident in saying that I could come up with a highly plausible and yet quite negative way of viewing it.

The longer I live, the more sacred cows I've had skewered on the altar of enlightenment.

For example: The American founders and their righteous opposition to George III the tyrant, whose usurpations were justly delineated in the Declaration of Independence. Actually, the declaration is a gross exaggeration. The colonists were taxed to pay off the debts that they themselves had racked up during the French and Indian War, a war which they started. And most of the offenses in the declaration never happened or were much less grievous than claimed.

More examples: Some of the best passages in the New Testament were probably never spoken by Jesus, according to the findings of modern biblical scholars. Christians exaggerated Roman persecutions. Most Christian celebrations are re-appropriated pagan holidays.

Everywhere you look you will find myth after "species-rearing" myth broken and shattered (hat tip to Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil). Truly, Solomon had a point when he said "For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

The real question, in my opinion, is not to focus on the disillusionment of deception at the hands of the myth maintainers, but to recognize the value of even broken myths and their necessary role in helping us reach further shores, upon which greater myths await to sustain and subsequently fail us, hopefully not until we are strong enough to invent better ones.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Carl,
It was not my aim to "focus on the evils of the corporation." As I meant to make clear, corporations are neither good nor evil, and I certainly don't think the Church as a corporation is inherently evil.

What I did wish to introduce to those who were not aware of it was that the entity we think of as "our" church is in fact today a corporation over which WE have no say or control, and that it is wholly unnecessary for a church to become incorporated. In fact, it is antithetical to a church that claims Christ as its head to recreate itself as a creation of the State.

As I commented at By Common Consent, I have no objection to the Church of Christ having many millions of dollars as a store against the future. I feel that is a necessary and vital charge of the church.

At what point, though, do we recognize that the purposes of the church may be tipping toward the call of Mammon? And how can the membership even know if not permitted by the Corporation to be privy to all that is going on in their name?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Carl,

You ask "I think the case study of the Book of Mormon challenge is an interesting one. Back in the day, you felt it was inspired. Now you feel it was a scam."

At first I thought you were saying that I claimed the Book of Mormon was a scam, which I never said, but I see you are referring to the Book of Mormon Family to Family program.

I think "scam" is a harsh word, but then so is my phrase "It was a brilliant con", which I meant to be taken as hyperbole.

I don't feel that it was a deliberately thought out con or scam. As I stated, I thought it was inspired, but not in the way I had been taught to believe that inspiration came through the Church. I originally believed the idea had been given to the Brethren directly from the Lord, but I've since learned that the inspiration for the plan came from a lowly Church employee.

Still an inspired program, because it accomplished its purpose. Also, it reanimated in the general membership a renewed interest in the Book of Mormon, which I saw, and still see, as good thing. It was simply not inspired from on high as I had previously assumed. So you ask me, "Which of your selves was right? Both?"

Yep.

By the way, my motivation for discussing The Book of Mammon was not to accuse the Church of evil activity, and I don't think that was the object of the author, either. It's just interesting to me that we members often don't recognize that the COB is peopled by infallible humans like ourselves, and the programs disseminated are sometimes self-serving, sometimes wasteful, and sometimes even wrong-headed.

Carl Youngblood said...

Alan, thanks for your responses. I accept your characterization of your own post, but I must say that it seems to me that you lead the reader around quite a bit and seem to be striking a rather provocative tone if you actually don't think that there is anything wrong with the legal organization of the Church.

Furthermore, I think it could fairly be argued that the Church created a legal organization that best aligned with its goals, and that this organization took a different form than the one you think it should have does not necessarily mean that the form it took is inferior, or that you are privy to all the legal minutiae that make one option better than another.

Neither am I, nor do I assume that the Church leadership has made the ideal choice. In fact, if past history is any indicator, they made an imperfect but reasonable choice. So I would not immediately assume that the choice to incorporate indicates that the Church has lost its way. I think you're leaping there.

As far as the ineptitude of the bureaucracy is concerned, I'm totally with you there, and I find the thoughts you share insightful. The funny thing is, it is also possible for much good to occur even in an inept organization. Which goes along with our agreement that the program may still have done much good whether or not it was the result of deliberately-sought inspiration.

But I agree that it is important for people to have a more accurate understanding of what the motivations for it were, rather than naively thinking that it was profoundly deliberate in its inspiration.

That said, this raises some very interesting points that get closer to the heart of some of the topics I was trying to address. What happens to a people with no myth to motivate their actions? Nietzsche had some interesting things to say about this:

"The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds most strangely. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing, and we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions (to which the synthetic judgements a priori belong), are the most indispensable to us, that without a recognition of logical fictions, without a comparison of reality with the purely imagined world of the absolute and immutable, without a constant counterfeiting of the world by means of numbers, man could not live--that the renunciation of false opinions would be a renunciation of life, a negation of life. To recognize untruth as a condition of life; that is certainly to impugn the traditional ideas of value in a dangerous manner, and a philosophy which ventures to do so, has thereby alone placed itself beyond good and evil." (Friedrich Nietzsche, BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, 1:4)

I think that this topic merits further discussion. Can Church members survive the transition away from naive yet faith-filled interpretations of the motivations of its leaders? What are some of the inherent perils? To what extent are these myths that motivate humanity in all its various forms and factions actually essential to its survival?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh, but I DO think there is something wrong with the legal organization of the Church, Carl. It was both wrong and unnecessary to place the church of Christ under corporate jurisdiction. The first amendment prohibits congress from making any law concerning the establishment of religion. But a church can waive that fundamental right to autonomy by opting into a government contract.

More insidious than mere incorporation, of course, is the existence of 501(c)(3) status which has tied the hands of our church and many others who opted in.

Except in the most nebulous way, this status prohibits churches who exist under it from speaking out against government abuse and wrongdoing. Churches can still denounce society's ails, as long as they don't point out the State's hand in promoting those ills. It was promoted in the nineteen fities by then Senator Lyndon Johnson, who sought a way to muzzle the churches from criticism of him and his cronies. I didn't even touch on the whole 501(c)(3) issue, because that's a whole 'nother problem for another time.

I don't believe there will be much difficulty transitioning away from the current atmosphere of authority worship in the church, once enough members get back to recognizing the Holy Ghost as their first recourse, and recognize also that unless delivering a specific revelation from the Lord himself, the rank and titles of the Brethren alone do not trump that Holy personage.

Thanks again for your very insightful and intelligent contributions here, Carl.

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