Sunday, January 20, 2013

City Creek: How Did We Come To This?

Previous Post: "Are We Paying Too Much Tithing?"

As a child of the '50s, one of my heroes was The Lone Ranger, portrayed on TV by Clayton Moore. Later as an adult, I carried on a brief correspondence with Moore, by then long retired and living in Calabasas, California in the hills above Malibu. One of the things I wondered about was how he managed to afford to live in such an expensive neighborhood? Surely by now the money he earned playing The Lone Ranger had long ago run out.

That was how I first learned that the smart people in Hollywood invested most of their earnings in stocks and real estate, because they know that fame is fleeting and few are able to depend upon their movie or sitcom earnings to carry them into old age. You might be surprised to learn how many strip malls, rental properties, and grocery stores are owned behind the scenes by some of your favorite actors, writers, directors, and even rock stars.  The monthly income many retired and semi-retired actors receive from their varied investments allows them to continue to live a comfortable middle-to-upperclass existence, even if they never happen to work in movies or television again.

But even the rich and famous are not immune to a disturbance in the force.  Since September 2008, when the stock market tanked and the bottom fell out of the housing market, a lot of famous people's investments dried up along with those of everyone else.  Just as in 1929, most of the wealth they thought they owned actually existed only on paper.  In the fall of 2008, those who were lucky only lost half their net worth. Those not so lucky lost it all. House rentals dropped off when home sales went south. Stores went out of business, and those rents stopped coming in, as well as lease payments from all those companies that had to shut down as the dominoes fell. That's one reason you may be watching TV and see celebrities you haven't thought about in decades suddenly showing up in commercials or popping up in guest roles.

The reality is, many of them need the money. The comfy nest egg they expected would see them through retirement just up and vanished like Keyser Soze. 

It's an open secret in Hollywood that even top stars are no longer able to command the million dollar salaries they did in the past, because the entire industry is skittish.  And despite the proclivity of the Glitterati to put on appearances, this is a time when even the seemingly affluent are concerned about the future. Privately, many are counting their nickels.

So, were you to suggest at a time like this that anyone in the city of Los Angeles ought to sink upwards of five billion dollars into a brand new shopping mall full of high-end stores intended to cater to the upper classes, the first question you might be asked would be "where would we find enough customers?"

Yet Salt Lake City now boasts just such a high-end retail establishment, taking up 80 square acres opposite Temple Square. Were you to read the roster of tenants, you might mistake it for a list of boutiques lining Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. And predictably, two months shy of a year after opening, the owners of these stores are still asking the question they asked the first week of operation: "Where are the customers?"

There is plenty of foot traffic, to be sure. By all reports, this mall is a must-see, with indoor waterfalls, dancing waters, a trout-filled creek running through the center, and a gigantic retractable glass ceiling to keep out the snow and rain. And of course there are those dozens of hoity-toity high-priced retail stores, many of which the residents of the state have never been in before, or even heard of. So everyone living up and down the Wasatch Front of course has to go and have a look.

But what people are not doing at this mall is spending sufficient money to keep most of these stores in business for the long term.  I live in Sacramento, California, so I haven't been there myself, but I have spoken to many people who have. And executives who lease office space at City Creek Center have told me in confidence that things are going about as well for the merchants at City Creek as they are at the malls in my own city.

Which is to say, not well at all.

Already one clothing store has pulled out, and a restaurant is gone. By all reports, the Food Court is doing quite well overall, because even tourists have to eat. But tourists don't have to buy ninety dollar shirts and three hundred dollar gym bags.

Christmas Bells Aren't Blinging
In the world of retail, it is often said that the way to tell if a new store is destined to make it is to see how it weathers its first Christmas season. December sales reports for the stores at City Creek Center have not been encouraging.

For those members of the Church who do not live in Utah and may not have heard anything about this looming disaster, City Creek Center was not developed by the City of Salt Lake or financed by any ordinary group of businessmen. It was entirely funded by our own Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through its development arm, using billions of dollars culled from prior investments. And what makes this particular project a questionable use of Church money is that anyone who has ever lived and worked in Utah, as I did for more than a decade, knows that there aren't enough high earners living there who make anywhere near the kind of money, even in flush times, to support the calibre of stores that have taken up residence in this mall. The Church will never see a return on this investment. For the corporate arm of LDS, Inc to carelessly pour that much money into this extravagant boondoggle during a time of economic uncertainty is nothing short of boneheaded.

But it would be unfair to blame Church leaders for this misfire. They approved this project way back in 2006, two years before the start of the recession, when everything was still looking quite rosy. They had no way of knowing the economy would go sour. We can't expect these men to be prophets and oracles, now can we?

Strange Bedfellows
As pleasant as it may be to take a stroll through City Creek Center and soak in the ambiance, many devout latter-day Saints have begun to openly question the propriety of the Church's involvement in this commercial endeavor. When they see the billboards featuring glamorous women holding glasses of champagne and wearing clothing clearly inimical to LDS standards, it seems to some as though the Church is not only getting into bed with Babylon, but actively promoting a lifestyle we have been taught all our lives to avoid.

Yet, other members have reacted defensively to this criticism, accusing those who dare question the wisdom of our leaders in this matter as being tantamount to attacking The Lord's True Church. Some have even applauded this renovation of downtown Salt Lake City as a sign that God's anointed servants are actively building up Zion.  So if you openly question the wisdom of the Corporate Church's involvement in this project, prepare for some of your fellow Saints to label you Anti-Mormon.

To these misguided True Believers, I simply wish to say this:
Brothers and sisters, stand down. You do not have to defend this.  City Creek is not our religion. It has nothing to do with "Mormonism" by any definition. The City Creek shopping center has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom of Heaven will neither rise nor fall with the fortunes of City Creek Center.  If you are defending, excusing, and rationalizing this project on the basis of a belief that City Creek must be inspired for the Church to be true, I urge you to rethink your assumptions.
Men at the forefront of this Church have made boneheaded decisions in the past, and they will probably make boneheaded decisions in the future, yet the gospel message will advance and the Kingdom of God will roll forth.  Neither the Kingdom nor the gospel are dependent on the 'truthfulness' of any church for their existence; not even this one. They stand independent of any earthly institution.  Your testimony should not be dependent upon trusting in the arm of flesh. So please, knock it off.
Whether or not you consider the City Creek project to have been a boneheaded move, it is indisputably a wrongheaded one for a church to engage in.  Ours is not the first Christian denomination to entangle itself with Mammon, but we do claim to be the very incarnation of the first century church of Christ, so you'd think we might have been more careful. How we got to the point we are today is a fascinating story of a series of seemingly innocuous compromises which eventually resulted in the unintended consequences we now see blowing up in our faces.

How We Came To This
For those wishing to explore how the once spiritually based, egalitarian community founded by Joseph Smith was gradually transformed into a top-down corporate behemoth that is now heavily entangled in the global economy, I recommend two excellent sources: Thomas G. Alexander's Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints 1890-1930, and Daymon Smith's The Book of Mammon: A Book About a Book About the Corporation That Owns the Mormons. Both authors, one a historian and the other a cultural anthropologist, are believing latter-day Saints who trace the transition as having begun in 1890, when the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a legal entity, was formally dissolved and the church Joseph Smith founded was replaced with something structured a bit differently than the one the Prophet had envisioned. 

Two years before City Creek Center opened to considerable fanfare, Andrew Ainsworth conducted an interview with Daymon Smith about Smith's recently published book. The interview is available free online in four parts beginning here, but the fourth part (Mormon Stories Podcast Episode 152)  concerns itself with how the financial functions of the Church changed direction since the 20th century to where we now find ourselves, as it were, attempting to serve two masters. This change in dynamics was in play by the early 1900s, after Church leaders decreed that the long accepted practice of paying tithes and offerings in useable commodities such as wheat, corn, apples, chickens, eggs, and milk was no longer acceptable, and that henceforth the members were to tender their donations in cash.

I highly recommend listening to this entire series, and of course reading the book, in order to get the full picture of how these changes came about. But for now, I have abridged and transcribed one section of the interview Smith gave from episode 152 in order to offer an overview of how we seem to have gotten to where we are today. Here is the way Daymon Smith explains it:
"When you monetize tithing, you change the dynamics dramatically. So what you have here is a kind of, at the turn of the century, sort of move from a sort of spiritual economy of tithing and fast offerings, which was very minimal as to what they could actually bring in, but it was also clearly tied to our physical bodies and to the natural cycles of the earth..."
*****
"The main impulse to monetize it was that Lorenzo Snow tried to pass bonds to Eastern bankers in order to get the Church out of its debt that it created with the Salt Lake temple -literally selling the Church into bondage. This strategy wasn't terribly successful, but what they could get done [was] they could get the members to sort of pour in liquid capital. And that's exactly what they did. They changed what tithing was and said well, it's gotta be money. This is what we need in order to pay off our debts. And the windows of heaven indeed opened and massive amounts of capital poured in so that the Church was out of debt very quickly.

"But then the question is, now we've got a kind of problem of having too much money;  what are we going to do with all this money? And you know, back then they started sugar companies, and railroad companies, and electric companies -sort of social services you might say with the money to modernize the west and to really increase the quality of life among everybody out here, Mormons or non-Mormons.

"Now in the 1960s they had a real struggle and eventually one side won which was they decided they could indeed invest tithing money. And once you begin to invest tithing money, you create an entirely different dynamic with respect to what decisions are going to be made at the Church headquarters."

*****

"What this does is it changes the dynamic in terms of what the Church is up to. And rather than sort of continually fund things like a sugar operation so that we can get sugar here, and even though we have to continually subsidize the sugar operation, which is what happened in the early 1900s and prior to that, what you have going on now is decisions being made of  'how can we get the expenses down that are tied to the corporation and always keep the revenue up?'  Which is to say, we're not going to invest in operations that are losing money. We're not going to fund a hospital that is going to be a continual loser in terms of its money.
"Now of course they fund things like welfare farms and other operations that are designed to be charitable works.  But you can see the transition just if you go into Deseret Industries where of course they receive all their merchandise as a donation. But as a part of this transition in the 1980s and 1990s toward more of a 'finance sensitive' corporation, Deseret Industries is a real moneymaker as I understand it; and of course it's justified because the profits that accrue from Deseret Industries are to be put toward funding other good works.

"But what we have here is actually a division between the charitable side of things, which, if you actually look at the amount of capital that is donated to humanitarian aid with respect to the amount of money that is brought in through the donation streams of fast offerings and tithings, you see that it's really a surprisingly small amount of money that actually goes towards humanitarian aid; and that increasingly, the day-to-day operations of the corporation are being funded by volunteers. Which makes sense, of course, if you have a corporation. Why put all your money into payroll when you could just have "missionaries" doing data entry?

"So again, in the 1980s they began to move toward a volunteer based model of running the operations of the corporate side of things and of course this is drawing on the church side to make it so the corporate side doesn't have the expenses that it used to have. Now the problem is of course they're not doing this because they don't have any money. They're doing it because it makes sense financially to free up more and more capital.

"And so the question now is, 'what is going on with all this money?'  If the expenses of the day-to-day operation are continually being driven down, then what is really going on with the rest of the money? 

"It is being invested. For the most part, in real estate throughout the 1990s and the previous decade which was part of the building spree of the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop. But also in Wells Fargo mortgage backed securities and CitiBank and many other major funds which I document in the book. You're talking about a lot of money that is being invested in things which, again, it makes sense if you're a business to do this kind of thing, of course. And it makes sense maybe for an individual to invest in these funds that are going to be bringing back a lot of money.

"But the question that I really want to put forward in the book is, does it make sense for a religion to be doing this kind of stuff? And of course a lot of the listeners will say, 'yeah, of course,' and a lot of the listeners maybe will say, 'well, maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense.'

"In the book, I try to sort of put forward an argument as to why it doesn't necessarily make sense from a metaphysical perspective, from a cultural perspective, and even from an economic perspective."
*****
"This is a difficult dilemma; it's one of these Faustian bargains....It's a question of a sort of means to an end. Is it acceptable for the Kingdom of God to do this dance with people who are not necessarily -who may not seem like they're directly opposed to us. Of course they're not bringing in the cannons like they did in 1857 and rolling them into Salt Lake City and keeping them pointed at the city...The exercises of power in the modern world are much gentler than they used to be.  The way that Mammon works is to make it seem like it makes perfect sense to play along, and that we can do it to our advantage; that we can make a deal with, as it were, the devil.
"And I'm not saying that rich people are the devil or that Citibank is the devil. But the things that are not -that don't have an interest in building up the Kingdom of God, I believe are, of course, building up another kind of kingdom.  And so the question for me is whether we can actually make these kinds of deals, and in fact whether we need to be making these kinds of deals.

"If Jesus tells us to consider the Lilies of the field, maybe we ought to be considering the lilies of the field rather than investing our funds in a sort of lily-gilding operation that is going to yield an 8% profit for the next fifty years.

"In other words, is it right to build a foundation of security that is tied to the global economy? Or should we be trying to do something which is a little more in line with what I read Joseph Smith was trying to do, which is create an order of people who are independent as much as possible from the operations of the world because the world is fallen? It's in a state of sin, and for us to try to profit from the sin is a very dangerous proposition from my perspective."
 *****
"If there is sort of a run on sand, I guess you could build your house on sand and hope that you can flip it to the next guy before the sand really falls out from under you. But if 2008 is any kind of indicator, [the Church] didn't move from the sand quite fast enough and I think they lost a pile of cash in the stock market as apparently a lot of people did.

"So again, if we were to invest strictly in things like humans, and provide for the needs of the poor rather than, say, building a high-end retail establishment in downtown Salt Lake City, is that a bad financial decision?  Well, who can say one way or the other? Is [providing for the needs of the poor] a good spiritual decision? I'd say yes.

"Is it a good spiritual decision to build a multi-billion dollar mall? I'd sort of leave that up to the readers to try to see where Jesus raised that kind of capital in order to build a mall in downtown Jerusalem so that he could have a foundation for building up his church."
The Full interview is available at Mormon Stories Podcast.

Below is a short video I came across on Youtube. I don't know who is responsible for creating this video, but if he or she will step forward I will happily give credit: 


Related Post: Bring Ye All The Tithes Into The Stores

Next entry: "Bad Science, Weird Science, and Strange Mormon Prophecy."

[A note about leaving comments: Many readers have posted as "Anonymous" even though they don't wish to, only because they see no other option. If you don't have a Google, Wordpress, or other username among those listed, you can enter a username in the dropdown box that reads "Name/URL."  Put your name in the "Name" box, ignore the request for a URL, and you should be good to go. If that still doesn't work for you, please sign your comment with a username so others can properly respond without confusing you with some other "Anonymous."
I have a pretty firm policy of never censoring or deleting comments.  If your comment does not immediately appear, it probably means it is being held in the spam filter, which seems to lock in arbitrarily on some posts for reasons I can't fathom.  If you have submitted a comment and it doesn't immediately show up, give me a nudge at RockWaterman@gmail.com and I'll knock it loose. -Rock]

258 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 258 of 258
Anonymous said...

LDSDPer,

It's great to hear you realize that most divorce & remarriage is adultery, as Christ plainly taught, for most members & leaders today don't want to think so anymore.

I agree that it's incredible how church leaders expect youth to keep the law of chastity & have respect for marriage, when parents & the leaders themselves don't honor their own vows & thus support or commit abuse & adultery in divorce, dating & remarriage.

Kids usually see through that hypocrisy real quick, even if the parents don't want to admit their adultery from breaking their marriage covenants.

It's disgusting how leaders, even at the highest levels, act so righteous yet are condoning and rolling out the red carpet for people to even enter their temples and commit some of the vilest of evils, like 'serial polygamy' & adultery in remarriage.

I think it's about time the leaders 'confess' to the membership.

Gary Hunt said...

Inspire and LDSDPer,

I really appreciate both of your comments. I think the Church's emphasis has been that of the Pharisees, Puritans and Victorians. They take the simple moral ideas of the Gospel and push them to the extreme, going way beyond the mark.

Matt. 22:36-40

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Oh no! There's that four letter word "LOVE" again!

A number of years ago I read an article which detailed the results of a study. The study was about what motivates us to do what we do. I was surprised by one of the results which said, many people would do something "wrong" just because an authority figure told them not to do it. Otherwise they wouldn't.

Love or fear? I choose to cut those "flaxen chords" of fear and use the freeing power of love.

Inspire said...

Gary: I think you are right about it all being about love.

I look at the D&C warily. I believe there are truths in there, but they are probably more hidden and obscure. To an extent, we have done with that body of revelation the same thing that the scribes and priests did to the Book of the Lamb. But if we look carefully, and are assisted by the Spirit, we can learn some things.

When Joseph Smith dictated a revelation, it was pretty much a big run-on sentence. He didn't add punctuation when it was transcribed, but later editors would assemble it the way they thought was best. For the most part, this didn't do too much harm, I think. But there were occasions where even one dash makes a world of difference.

One such example is where we read: "Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church." As a single sentence, this seems to (sort of) make sense. But if we read the whole thing in context, that arrangement becomes choppy and forced. It is my opinion that the way it should be read is the following:

Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery: For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts. Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely. Behold, this is my doctrine. Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

One period and one dash change the whole doctrine of Christ. The editors who inserted the punctuation and divided the verses made sure that it could be read as a little snippet, and invoke the church (or The Church...TM) as the doctrine of Christ. But if you read it as I propose, then the doctrine of Christ is that we may come and partake of the waters of life freely (without all these strings attached).

Gary, I think this speaks to your thought that the gospel is a very simple idea: "Just love each other." That's what He offered, and we may freely partake of that Gift. It's awesome to know how "plain and precious" the truth really is.

Anonymous said...

Inspire,

I appreciate you bringing that scripture to light. It appears that Christ's Church consists of those throughout the world who truly repent and live Christ's laws, no matter what religion they are or no religion at all.

I also believe love is the answer. For of we don't have unconditional Christlike everlasting love, charity, especially for our spouse who we are commanded to love above all others or things on this earth, then we are nothing.

Anonymous said...

It appears that only those rare persons in this world who have this charity are really members of Christ's Church, all others are just part of other churches, like the LDS Church.

Christ taught that we will know his disciples (members of his Church) by the fact that they will possess this Christlike love, this charity.

Thus the proof is in the pudding.

Problem is, it seems so rare to find someone who even 'believes' in such love, let alone 'possesses' it.

LDSDPer said...

I agree. My father and mother were personal friends of George Pace, who was publicly censured by Bruce R. McConkie for his book Having a Relationship with Jesus Christ--

George Pace stayed in our home.

When this happened I was devastated, and it took me years to get over it; I know it was hard on his family. I often felt that Elder McConkie "over-reached", so I appreciate what you are saying, and, again, you said it better than I could. LDS don't need to be spoon fed by "experts"--even "apostles".

But, here, I have gotten too personal--

LDSDPer said...

oh, that was to Inspire about Corianton--

@Gary and Inspire--

yes, it should be simple, and the present 'corporate church' is anything but simple.

Shawn said...

My wife got me an 1830 (or so) version of the book of mormon at the local mormon bookstore and i enjoy reading it WAY more. no footnotes, no headers, no verses. just the way it was printed originally, i think. the narration seems to flow better, which helps me to read things in context. the above discussion made me think of this because we have a tendency to just flip to any random verse and then disregard anything around it. 'liken the scriptures' unto us or or lives or situations, etc. yeah that's a good idea, but it's also a good idea know what the author was talking about...

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of the original Book of Commandments (D&C) 1835 edition. When you liken those scriptures to yourself and picture yourself living back in those days of Nauvoo, you wonder how anyone could have fallen for a church leader who came preaching completely opposite (polygamy, etc.) those scriptures, not to mention opposite the BoM too.

It would be like some of the apostles today starting to preach how porn was now ok, and most of the members going along with it.

I also just came across a quote by Emma Smith, where she said that those who followed BY west suffered so much because they didn't listen to what she & Joseph taught them. She said they knew better, but they followed BY anyway.

I totally believe the Church will eventually embrace & allow Same Sex Marriage in their temples, probably in 10-20 years, when most members are ok with it.

For the Church did the same with divorce & remarriage, which is much worse of a sin. Div. & remarriage used to be taught by the Church as an adulterous abomination, but here 40 years later it's not even considered a sin anymore.

I guess the LDS God just keeps changing his mind.

Toni said...

Weston! I missed you! Welcome back!

LJn said...

LDSDPer,

I've been reading many of your responses. Awesome posts. Well said (and all of those other things have the potential to try your humility). Very enlightening and helpful. Thank you.

Toni said...

Dear casio watches -
Your post says, "sure, Anyone want to put odds on when Stone would be arrested for the masses merry?" in Indonesian. You don't make any sense in light of the discussion.

Toni said...

Actually, the comment doesn't make any sense at all. It could be google translate, I suppose.

just waiting said...

Rock, It is so hard to wait for your next well thought out, inspired and much needed articles. I wish I could take some of those everyday responsibilities and stresses you and your dear wife go through and help lighten the load so that you can help us more. I feel like dry parched land just waiting for the next raindrops to fall. Thank you for your willingness to go out on a limb and throw us a lifeline.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Gary, I feel that is a very apt analogy. Thanks!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

LDSDPer,
I welcome your husband's email. I hope he identifies himself as your husband. I have not spent much time at my email account or catching up on comments here for the past two or three days as I've been working piecemeal on my next entry.

As to your question, my wife certainly feels I spend too much time fielding questions both here and via email. My I really have to stop putting in my two cents on Facebook, because that is the real time eater. I belong to several Mormon Groups, and the discussions there always drag me in, they are so fascinating. Sometimes I think I should just butt out of Facebook entirely and spend more time with my bride. She thinks so too.

I am instructed to get this next Pure Mormonism post finished before Valentine's Day. So that's my goal. The rest of you can spend Valentine's Day reading it together if you wish. I think that would be romantic.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Shawn,
Per your comment on the 1830 Book of Mormon: That was the version I first read that actually gripped me and kept me going. the versified versions always slowed me down as a youth, with all the stopping and starting. The original layout reads somewhat like a novel. But it does have its shortcomings, since as a facsimilie sometimes it did not reproduce well.

Enter Daymon Smith. He has produced a version he calls "The Abridging Work" available at Amazon. Daymon has attempted to rearrange the Book of Mormon chronologically as Mormon might have assembled it. And it is laid out in normal paragraphs and is highly readable in that format. I'm a follower of Daymon Smith, but somehow I didn't even know about this project of his. He seems to have put it together primarily for his own use. But it's a humdinger.

When I'm searching for a particular verse, I'll go to my old triple combination to find it, but when I just want to read the Book of Mormon the way it should be read, I pick up "The Abridging Work."

http://www.amazon.com/The-Abridging-Works-Historic-Composition/dp/1461170591/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360697454&sr=8-1&keywords=an+abridging+work

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Inspire, I completely agree with your interpretation of section 68. The editors who came after had no business adding changes that would redirect the reader to a false interpretation. It is clear to me that the Lord defined his doctrine as that which he stated first. The church is a separate entity from the doctrine, and he defined that separately.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Regarding the discussion above about divorce and remarriage constituting adultery, I can't say I know where I stand on that. It seems to me that some remarriages I've seen are much more appropriate than the initial one, where the partners have clearly been mismatched. Often, the second time, partners have discovered their true soulmates, and are much better off.

If the blame should go anywhere, perhaps we should look at the pressure the Church puts on young people to get married ASAP. The hormones of young people can be very persuasive, and since the Church teaches so strongly (and wrongly) that anyone engaging in premarital sex is engaging in the sin next to murder, most people who probably shouldn't be together in the first place will go ahead and marry each other to prevent going to hell.

If hormones allowed young people to take a step back and THINK first, I'm sure a lot of Mormon marriages would not happen in the first place. I think people who have married a second time tend to deliberate a lot harder about it than those fresh out of their teens.

I'm not saying I approve of divorce; I'm just saying I can see where it comes from. Once the sexual attraction fades, many people realize they may have made a BIG mistake. I'm referring of course, to those instances where both man and wife come to the mutual understanding that they are not right for each other.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Aw, thanks. Kind words, Just Waiting. If you REALLY can't get enough of my writing, you can always check out my other blog:

http://www.efoodsdirect.com/blog/author/rwaterman/

As for this one, rejoice and be of good cheer. I'm currently working on my next piece, which should be up and posted in the next couple of days, unless I get distracted by TV. What is currently holding me up is that I want to add footnotes to this one, and the learning curve for the code needed to add the right kind of footnote on the blogger platform is putting me off. I plan to get to that today.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Toni, I do believe that post about Casio watches was spam. The system's spam filter is usually pretty good at catching spam, but this one appears to have slipped by because it was not accompanied by a link to some commercial site.

My favorite spam of all time was the one that clearly came from someone who had never been on this site and read my overlong, rambling missives:

"Great blog! My only complaint is that your pieces are too short! Please make them longer."

Depart from me, ye who worketh iniquity. You never knew me.

Anonymous said...

Rock,

I understand what you are saying, but if divorce was allowed, other than for fornication (finding out your spouse had relations before they married you they didn't tell you about), then you would think Christ would have said so, for surely he understood everything you mentioned, not to mention how he knew that most women of his day that he taught his marriage law to was married to an abusive or adulterous husband, (given what the scriptures say about those in Jerusalem back then & how common it was for men to abandon & divorce wives for a new one, not to mention all the adultery by polygamy in those days. And Christ definitely knew adultery & abuse, by one or both spouses, would be an issue in most marriages throughout history, like it is today.

So it just seems that Christ would have said divorce is ok in those circumstances, if he didn't want people taking his words seriously and thus staying in abusive/adulterous painful marriages for 50 years or divorcing but staying single and alone because they think they would commit adultery if they date or remarry.

It appears Christ had a more eternal view of things and not just focused on present problems.

I believe Christ understood all of what you describe, yet he still held firm to such a high law of marriage that even some of his Apostles didn't think a man should get married if he had to live such a high standard of marriage with no possibility of divorce & remarriage.

If you understand true christlike love, you realize that marriage is about saving your spouse, no matter what, not about your own happiness. And that your spouse's & children's welfare, even eternal welfare, come before your present happiness. (See 1 Cor. 7:14) The scriptures say all will eventually be well at the last day for those who have this true love.

Having true love for a 1st spouse is just a choice, yet that is the hard part, for only the very righteous can do that if they have the Spirit. While anyone, even the wicked, can easily find happiness in 2nd or 3rd marriages, etc., that's easy and fun and agrees with the natural man. And since most marriages would have reason & desire to divorce if it wasn't a sin, you would have most people in & out of marriages, which is very destructive for children, let alone for society.

I understand that true love is usually not fun, for it usually requires alot of sacrifice & suffering, so it never sells well, even with Apostles.

Toni said...

LOL - I have printed out a couple of your blog posts (they were that good). They are definitely not short!

Toni said...

LDSDPer, I did not mean, "(and all of those other things have the potential to try your humility)" - I meant, "(and all those other [compliments] that have the potential to try your humility)" - forgot a word there.

Toni aka L'Jn

Anonymous said...

LDSDPer,

Since when is it self-righteous to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Even if hardly no one believes in it anymore? As long as we do it humbly?

I believe to 'not' try to warn others that Christ taught that divorce is adultery would be unloving & self-righteous, for we care more about how we look than other people's welfare.

Christ said it is not only 'our business' but 'our duty & a commandment' to warn our neighbors, once we have been warned about these things.

I'm glad to know that you think it's wrong. Thanks for being another voice for Christ.

Anonymous said...

Watch out what you swallow Gaybob, you might just get AIDS from all that time you're spending on your knees.

Gaybob Spongebath said...

What makes you think I'm gay? Shows how much you know. I took my username from one of my kids' mispronouncing the name Spongebob Squarepants. My wife and I (yes, I have a female WIFE) thought it was hilarious, and hence an avatar was born.

What's your excuse, Krogstadt?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yeah that's right. I finally deleted comments from Weston Krogstadt. Inappropriate content.

Weston, you like to tout yourself as an iconic Latter-day Saint. Don't you think it's time you demonstrated some standards?

Anonymous said...

I just visited Salt Lake City for the first time in 22 years. I was surprised at the mall and especially at the justification given. I live in Chicago and immediately compared the SLC downtown to Chicago's Grant Park.

Businesses would kill to build on Grant Park, but the city has chosen to invest millions to improve the park and create a clean wonderful environment that adds to the city.

I was also surprised at the ever so soft feeling that there is the faint beginnings of a division within the Church.

~ K i l e e ~ said...

I agree with Connie 100% - and definitely Rock's voice has become too powerful :)

~ K i l e e ~ said...

What the answers have you found regarding tithing? Gary?

Gary Hunt said...

Kilee,

I don't know if you have read Rock's previous article entitled "Are We Paying Too Much Tithing?" If not, you should read it. I have come to the same conclusions Rock did.

The answers I received were that the church has too much money, and the reason for this is that we (church members) are paying on our gross income and not our increase as indicated in the scriptures by the Lord. Rock explains what increase is in his article. If we were paying as the Lord intended then the church would not have money to spend on such projects as City Creek Mall, the Conference Center and and other business investments. I believe there would be enough money to cover the basic expenses of the church in helping it accomplish its mission.

I think paying more than the Lord intended causes many members to have financial problems, as well as family relationship problems. I have seen many members faithfully pay 10% of their gross income, even if it meant going into debt to pay for basic living expenses such as food, clothing, shelter and medical expenses. I know because I used to be one of them.

The bottom line is that the right amount of tithing we should be paying is between us and the Lord.

Jean said...

I couldn't read all the above comments; this nonsense gives me such a headache. Forgive me if this has already been said.

The church is NOT a government even if 'they' believe they are the govt. of the Kingdom of God on earth. They think they are the government of Utah and they are NOT. What is a church doing 'beautifying' the downtown core of the city (with church funds)where they happen to have HQ? (It was quite beautiful already). Why do they not beautify the townships of South Africa where poverty stricken people are told that they will be 'blessed' if they pay tithes?

The glitz and glamor of City Creek is an abomination when millions of church members that make up that claimed 14 million +, do not even have clean drinking water. Shame on you Babylon, you are as tinkling cymbals and there is no love in you. If you ever possessed any truth or integrity it is long gone.

Aaron said...

Rock... absolutely spot on and I don't think I could have said anything any better! It's good to know that there are still some critically-thinking and truly Christ-like, charitable LDS members out there who understand who we are as Latter-Day Saints, what we need to be doing to build the Lord's kingdom, what the truth is, what the scriptures say and that we aren't sheep expected to blindly obey and accept every decision that comes out of Salt Lake with respect to financial decisions. The brethren at church HQ are NOT to be worshipped as many Saints think and do, especially those living in Utah and the notion that the brethren are infallible and incapable of wrong-doing is such utter nonsense, especially given the abomination they just erected with billions of church funds which is nothing short of a monument to King Noah and I think we all know how the Lord felt about King Noah's using collected funds for fancy and luxurious construction projects. So much for the needy, sick, hungry, homeless, afflicted, down-trodden and destitute.

I was appalled when a church spokesperson said something to the effect of 'City Creek acts as a buffer between the Salt Lake Temple and street scum'. Are you kidding me??? Christ would have slapped that guy upside the head for saying something like that and I highly doubt the Lord or our Savior give a rats you know what about a stinking shopping mall and condos that cater to the rich, especially given how so many people are in need thoughout the world and struggling in today's corrupt, greedy society... I am so incensed by City Creek that it makes me ill and I cannot believe I watched President Monson stand at the ribbon cutting ceremony and chant "1-2-3, let's go shopping" - makes you want to throw up. Also (and I'm surprised no one has said anything about this yet), go back to 1999 and take a look at the path of the F2 tornado that struck downtown Salt Lake... talk about symbolic and a warning from the Lord! And what did the church do? Not only did they thumb their nose at him, they flipped him the bird by upping the anty with a damn mall! For those unaware of the SLC tornado in 1999, here's a link about it:

http://justandtrue.com/?p=18

Keep up the good work Rock and keep 'em coming... someone needs to stand up for what's right and against what's wrong with our now fully corporatized and Babylonian church! Man, when the Lord finally ushers in the cleansing process for the earth and it starts within his own house first, most members' jaws are going to drop when they see what the Lord does and what the truth really is and was regarding such things as early church history pertaining to the circumstances in Nauvoo with the Saints and polygamy, the corruption of the law of tithing after Joseph's death, the extreme corporatization of the church, etc., etc., etc.

Pinkrose said...

Does this mean that I should make my fast offering out to my Bishop directly, so that it is guaranteed (hopefully) to be used in the ward?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

My understanding is that even fast offerings are deposited into an account which is transferred to Salt Lake. We may be living in times when, if you want to help someone in your ward, you will have to contribute directly to that person.

A few years ago at Thanksgiving time when I still had young children and we were on the skids, the bishop brought by a couple of sacks of groceries that someone in the ward had given to him, asking him to select a family and give it directly to them. The bishop chose us, and though I wished like heck to know who our generous benefactor was so I could thank them, that method of giving strikes me as the most direct.

It isn't hard to know who in your ward has needs, and if you desired your money to go to them and wished to remain anonymous, I would suggest giving the cash directly to the bishop and directing whom he was to give it to. Otherwise, it all goes into the general fund, and as the disclaimer on the tithing slip notes, you have no guarantee that your alms will be received by the poor.

Anonymous said...

I would make your check directly out a single mother of the ward, then you know for sure it will get to the fatherless.

You can't trust any middle man these days.

Anonymous said...

$3 BILLION for a stinking luxury mall that caters to the rich along with plush condominiums that are more suited for Beverly Hills, CA than Salt Lake City. And City Creek accomplishes the 4-fold mission of the church how? What an abomination! Did church leaders not learn anything from the '99 tornado? IMHO, it was a warning for the extreme manner in which the church has become corporatized and obsessed with vain ambition, money, worldly praise, image and vanity, not to mention continuing to allow and practice corrupted principles such as the true law of tithing that is supposed to be 10% of your surplus and not salary/wage (which has resulted in the church becoming exceptionally wealthy) to the point that it is now building malls and fine sanctuaries!

And let us not forget that polygamy is not of the Lord and never has been, yet, the church continues to allow men to be sealed to multiple women in the temples. The 1999 tornado not only went unheeded, the church basically thumbed its nose at the Lord and upped the $350 million conference center one mall! Unbelievable. Worse, we give a whopping 1% of our annual income as a church to charity while most other religions give 30-40%. We aren't in the midst of apostasy as a church but the scriptures are quite clear that this would occur in the last days before Christ returned. All is not well in Zion... wo be unto her.

Jane said...

City Creek disgusts me. Thankfully now that I am a follower of Christ and not "the prophet" I am free to have that opinion.

I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. Thank you!!

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Anonymous said...

Sorry to offend anyone's anti-corporate church ego but I have inquired about City Creek- I know that it is In the Will of God for it. It important to finally have the hub of Mormonism presentable to the world- and all those who ridicule it for how much it costs- then sadly scarcity consciousness has gotten the best of you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymouse 9:11,

It sounds like you 'inquired' with someone 'on earth' about City Creek and not God himself. Big difference.

I don't believe Christ cares a hoot about presentability with all the suffering of the widows & fatherless & poor who go ignored and neglected by the Church while it spends enormous amounts of sacred money on prideful ventures to 'look' good rather than caring more about 'being' good.

All this fluff to look good will do little to attract righteous people, for they see through it if we don't follow Christ's laws about the poor.

Where, if the Church really wants growth and a good reputation it should start really taking care of all it's widows and fatherless and poor, (and not just by a few handouts but completely support single mothers) til there are no poor among us.

Then people would really start to inquire about the Church and people would have faith in leaders who prove they are righteous by how they use the tithing funds and completely take care of the fatherless as is their greatest duty (not building malls).

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Rob said...

In showing your ignorance to the operational vehicles of the Church you consequently, show how easily Satan can snare even, "The very elect." Companies like Franklin Covey, Bane capital (When Romney owned part of it), etc. give funds to the church to be used solely for investment and business ventures. Those funds do not come from the tithing of its individual members. Even back to the original ventures, the church began investing in "for profit" ventures with those types of funds. It is from those funds that the church gives to the side that funds temples, buildings, etc. Those business funds given to the church enhance the Tithing funds, and not the other way around. The church currently has a few billion dollars that was generated through those ventures that now goes into the welfare funds, etc. that support the rest of the church and its humanitarian efforts around the world. Sure the church is overseeing the usage of those funds, but decisions are based purely on business needs. It's a non-profit organization and if they were to co-mingle the way you are suggesting they would have been shut down long ago by the IRS and Federal Government. However, they remain above reproach in their required audits to maintain their non-profit status. They must abide by Federal law in the usage of funds etc. My advice to you would be, before you rush to judgment, get all of the facts. It is very easy to sit behind your computer and so graciously insist how the church should be operating. How are your own lives operating? How much of your time is given to charitable efforts and service? The church gives away hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of aid to communities both domestic and international, each year. Do you think all of that money comes from the kindness of the hearts from people like you through donations? Some of it does, but it also comes from donations from the money earned through those business ventures. Those committees are trying to act in inspired ways but never make claims to prophetic decision making. They are as fallible to bad business decisions as any other individual member of the church. It does not make the church any less true. It only gives Satan another tool to deceive our Heavenly Father's elect children, such as yourself. Your Father in Heaven loves you and has given you every tool necessary to judge good from evil. At the end of it all however, you are given your free agency to determine whether or not the Adversary will have the power to lead you astray. If you want to be judged without all of the facts about you coming to light, then continue in your crusade. However, if you hope to be judged fairly, then spend a little time trying to understand both sides of an issue instead of a rash move to judgment. John 7:24 "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

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Anonymous said...

God tells different things to different people, just look at the mess in Israel, he apparently is a jokester!

Anonymous said...

GOD tells different things to different people, apparently he's got quite a sense of humor... look at the mess in Israel they all believe that God told them it's their land. pffff

Joff Cook said...

President Hinckley on this matter.

----

We have a real estate arm designed primarily to ensure the viability and the attractiveness of properties surrounding Temple Square. The core of many cities has deteriorated terribly. This cannot be said of Salt Lake City, although you may disagree as you try to get to the Tabernacle these days. We have tried to see that this part of the community is kept attractive and viable. With the beautiful grounds of Temple Square and the adjoining block to the east, we maintain gardens the equal of any in the world. This area will become even more attractive when the facility now being constructed on Main Street is completed and the large Conference Center to the north is finished.

----

City Creek Center is about protecting the temple and keeping the area vital and safe. Do you really want to have to drive through gangland to get to Temple Square? The Church is making sure that SLC's core remains populated primarily with safe neighbors. The Lord clearly extravagant expenditure for the upkeep of His house, and that's what City Creek represents.

I understand this is an old article, and I didn't read all of the comments, so this may be covered already. Just thought I'd put it here in case it hadn't been said yet.

And I want to clarify the obvious: there is nothing wrong with asking why the Church is involved in this, though members should be aware that the author of this piece has been censured by the Church.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jeff Cook,

It seems to me there are better ways of beautifying the area around temple square than for the Church to use sacred funds to invest in Babylon, and to do so without either receiving instructions from the Lord to do so, or bothering to obtain approval from the members.

You say I have been censured by the Church. As the author of this piece I can assure you I am not aware of any thing taking place. If "the Church" had officially censured or sanctioned me, I'm sure I'd be the first to know.

Can you provide a source for your allegation?

MrHFMetz said...

Our beloved Lord Jesus was a humble man, who did'nt like business people very much, nor people who could'nt let go of their riches.
This mall (just as was the Conference Center, which was a mere try out) represents the great and spacious building that Lehi saw. Things will become worse. They who have eyes will see and who have ears will hear; a minority I'm afraid. The rest of the people will be cheated by the devil and carefully lead away down to hell.
These buildings are stumbling blocks that will cause some of us to repent and come unto the Lord, while others will harden their hearts and stay in Babylon.
I am grateful for the internet and the awakening that it has caused among some of the Mormons. We are now more able to see for ourselves what is really going on in this church, and decide for ourselves if we and our house shall follow the Lord. Without this medium I probably would'nt even have heard about the project.
This is a good blog; the bad apples are being dealt with one by one, and in a very effective way. I can see inspiration in the way the subjects are chosen and worked out; just hope brother Rock is able to stay humble, with all the praises he gets from his readers (but I'm sure he will).

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Ricardo Enrique Diaz Cerrato said...

I understand the "True Church" investing in meetinghouses, missionary training centers, temples, educational materials, office buildings for its own administration, and even on the work done on historical sites... but on A MALL!!!!! A luxurious mall??????? WTF? And I guess alcoholic drinks are sold in it and not to make it look so bad it`s closed on Sundays. GIVE ME A BREAK!

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