Another political article in the Ensign

The March issue of the Ensign has an excellent article (reprinted) by Marion G. Romney called The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance. I was introduced to this article last year at the BYU Women's Conference Broadcast of Sacred Relationships and Self-Reliance by Ana Maria Coburn and was delighted to see it reprinted in the Ensign.

What stood out to me in reading it was how many times it has the word "government" in it. I count 9. I find this particularly interesting because this is the third article in six months in the Ensign that relates to politics. I just wanted to share a few quotes, give my "analysis", and see what you think. So, here goes.

On this subject, Elder Albert E. Bowen said, “The … Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.”

Many programs have been set up by well-meaning individuals to aid those who are in need. However, many of these programs are designed with the shortsighted objective of “helping people,” as opposed to “helping people help themselves.” Our efforts must always be directed toward making able-bodied people self-reliant.

So, how do our current government welfare programs stack up in helping people "get into a position where they can help themselves"? It seems to me that our current programs are creating and enabling cycles of poverty (permanant dependence) rather than helping people to break free from poverty. I appreciate that he credits individuals who support these programs as "well-meaning". (I would probably have used "misguided", which might be offensive, so I appreciate well-meaning)


President Romney quotes a story about gullible gulls out of the Reader's Digest:
In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. …

The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the … sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.

Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.

A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?

Let’s not be gullible gulls. We … must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.

This one line in particular stood out to me: But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? This is a very real possibility. In fact, what do you call an annual trillion dollar deficit? The government is long out of "goods" and is borrowing those goods from other countries. It was recently announced that the deficits of Obama's administration are even worse than previously forecasted. Economists all seem to agree that these kinds of deficits are unsustainable. And yet, Obama is marching forward with his spending agenda of "overhauling health care, exploring new energy sources and enacting scores of domestic programs".

The dismal deficit figures, if they prove to be accurate, inevitably raise the prospect that Obama and his Democratic allies controlling Congress would have to consider raising taxes after the recession ends or else pare back his agenda.
Well, Obama has made it clear that he is not paring back his agenda.
"What we will not cut are investments that will lead to real growth and prosperity over the long term," Obama said. "That's why our budget makes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. That's why it enhances America's competitiveness by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and building a clean energy economy."

Obama's $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 contains ambitious programs to overhaul the U.S. health care system and initiate new "cap-and-trade" rules to combat global warming.

Both initiatives involve raising federal revenues sharply higher, but those dollars wouldn't be used to defray the burgeoning deficit and would instead help pay for Obama's health plan and implement Obama's $400 tax credit for most workers and
$800 for couples.

I guess I just don't believe that Obama's agenda is actually going to lead to "real growth and prosperity over the long run". I wonder if we are "sacrificing our independence" for a $400 tax credit. So, if Obama won't cut spending, the alternatives are to borrow more or increase taxes. Believe it or not, there are limits on the amount the U.S. can borrow. We have to borrow from other countries (namely China), and they are giving us warnings about spending too much. Plus, the more debt we have, the weaker our currency becomes and the higher our interest rates go. That's why deficits around 5% of GDP are "unsustainable". So, I know the answer to "But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods?" Higher taxation. Glenn Beck pointed out that if every person who made more than $200,000 (the top 2% of the population) was taxed at 100% (so the government takes every single red cent from the "rich"), that would increase revenues by $1.3 trillion. Incidentally, that's almost the exact amount of Obama's projected deficit in 2010. But, you can't really tax them at 100%, can you (who would give the rest of us jobs?!?!?)? So, if taxes need to be raised, they will come to all of us.

To me, the answer to "What will happen when the Government runs out of goods?" is that I will likely see reduced services (more crappy roads, for example) and pay higher taxes. Can anyone say "oppression"? If not us, it will happen to our children. That's the answer to, "What about our generations of children to come?" We'll leave them with debt and deficits to oppress them.


Back to President Romney,
The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit.
Can anyone say "Bailouts"?
Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds.

This reminds me of the woman on youtube crying with joy because Obama is going to pay her mortgage and buy her gas . . .

This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens.

We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and political, temporal, and spiritual independence.
President Romney repeatedly ties self-reliance to freedom. In an earlier part of the article, he says
It is easy to understand the reason the Lord places so much emphasis on this principle when we come to understand that it is tied very closely to freedom itself.
and in a later part, he says
Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.

Does anyone else feel that the more control we give to government, the less control we ourselves have? The less freedom we have? Conservatives (like me) are going crazy watching Obama because we can see our liberty rapidly slipping away.

We can’t always control government programs, but we can control our own homes and congregations. If we will teach these principles and live them, we can do much to counter the negative effects which may exist in government programs in any country.

Interesting, interesting. This is largely how I feel right now. As I listened to the last general conference, it seemed much more focused on strengthening our families and our stakes in Zion than on effecting change in our country and world. I am not sure there is much I can do as I watch the government (not just Obama, but Democrats and some Republicans) destroying our economy and leading us to socialism. However, if I teach principles of self-reliance to my children and live them myself, I may be able to "counter the negative effects" the government will have on our lives. Now, that is reason for hope!

Those quotes come from the first half of the article. The second half of the article is dedicated to encouraging (even admonishing) us to use our self-reliance to help others. After quoting several scriptures about helping the poor (and pointing out that it is a commandment),he says

There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by imparting of their surplus, participate in the eternal principle of giving. Once a person has been made whole, or self-reliant, he reaches out to aid others, and the cycle repeats itself.

I really like that. One thing we LDS liberals and conservatives agree on is that we are commanded to help the poor, to "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you" (Jacob 2:17). We are commanded to "consecrate [our] properties" (D&C 42:30). We seek for Zion, where we will have all things in common.

However, we differ greatly on government's role in accomplishing that. I think that President Romney's talk does a pretty good job of showing how using government programs (however "well-intentioned" they may be) to accomplish that will decrease our individual freedoms and liberties and instead bring us into bondage or oppression (like the seagulls who "sacrifice their independence for a handout").


71 comments:

Grégoire said...

Dear Stephanie,

Thanks for posting this. It's an interesting article. I read it carefully.

Romney is writing from a very limited perspective, and he starts from a false assumption. Capital promotes the idea that the government is something external to working people. Framed this way, it only makes sense to limit its power.

Who really owns the government, and who really owns all the wealth of the society? When we get out of the limited, false consciousness of capital, it becomes clear that the wealth of society is owned by everyone. It is controlled today by a few wealthy people, only because they are able to promote this limited view of the world.

There is enough wealth in the U.S. alone to drop fire on hundreds of thousands of people overseas, yet when it comes to feeding the most vulnerable we are told that these people (who Jesus called *the least of these*) need to "take personal responsibility" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps".

These arguments simply don't fly. Americans have spent over a trillion dollars on bloodshed, and over half that to bail out wealthy people. Last year, over two hundred people died from exposure in Salt Lake City, within view of the Bishop's Storehouse and Temple Square.

I don't call this liberty or freedom, and I don't call it justice either.

Stephanie said...

Americans have spent over a trillion dollars on bloodshed, and over half that to bail out wealthy people.

I agree that this is a waste of taxpayer money (besides being immoral). Both Republicans and Democrats have been responsible for the waste.

Who really owns the government, and who really owns all the wealth of the society?

This is a good question. The answer should be "the people". We the people should own the government and the wealth. I don't think that the kind of "change" Obama is promising will return the power to the people. I believe that the things we are seeing are leading to more control today by a few wealthy people.

There is enough wealth in the U.S. alone to drop fire on hundreds of thousands of people overseas.

I don't think there really is (not that I would want to if there were). If there were, we wouldn't be running record deficits and be so far in debt. I just don't think the U.S. is as "wealthy" as we think we are. A lot of the wealth has been fabricated and now lost. We've been borrowing from China to buy stuff from China - we've inflated our lifestyle. I think that a lot of the "wealth" is an illusion - and a budget like Obama is proposing perpetuates the illusion, IMO.

Chad said...

@Gregoire

Who really owns the government, and who really owns all the wealth of the society?

I would argue that this is a false question; after all, technically under Soviet communism the state and its wealth were owned by the peasantry (hence the term "commune"-ism). The real issue is not who owns in theory, but who controls in practice. As you correctly mentioned, this weath and government is controlled by "the few." The entire purpose of the divided legislature and governmental checks and balances was to limit government power. The country's founders saw government as external to the people due to their experience with a government that was willing to oppress its citizens to benefit "the few" who were in power. Hence, I would agree with Romney and Stephanie that it does make sense to limit governmental power.

yet when it comes to feeding the most vulnerable we are told that these people ... need to "take personal responsibility" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps".

This is an inaccurate characterization of Romney's position. While I sure he would agree with their needing to "take personal responsability," "pulling themselves up by bootstraps" indicates no help whatsoever by third parties. The two extremes being represented are 1) the government should supply the poor with housing, transportation, food and a living stipend without any effort on the part of the poor, and 2) The government should supply absolutely no assistance, leaving the poor to succeed or fail entirely based on their own efforts. Romney is advocating a different course. The model that appears to be generally used by the church welfare system (in absense of natural disaster) is to initially provide financial / necessity support to an individual while requiring some form of work service or vocational training as a condition of continued support. The goal is always to help the person eventually become self-sufficient. In this model, it is our responsability to "pull the poor up by their bootstraps." The poor are then expected to "take personal responsability" to avoid falling back down.

It is fairly easy to look at the long-term societal impacts of each of the three models. Governments which have supplied their people with no necessities have typically experienced higher disease and mortality rates, higher levels of crime and violence, and social unrest associated with the lack of support. On the other hand, governments which "give a free ride" typically experience slower economic growth. Long term, the middle class in such a society experiences a standard-of-living simliar to the poor in societies which do not give a free ride. Again, a good example of this is the former Soviet Union. In economic terms it is very easy to see why. Per capita wealth is essentially the economic output divided by the number of people. Each person who "gets a free ride" contributes nothing to the economic output while still adding to the number of people. This lowers per capita wealth. Requiring these people to create some form of economic output in return for "bootstrapping" them towards self-sufficiency allows for greater economic growth. This means that the long term cost of goods, medicines and services is reduced making them more affordable to the poor. (e.g. You can now buy a $20 mp3 player with better fidelity than a $500 CD player in the 80's.) The Soviet Union was never able to create significant quality-of-life advances as its system was unable to motivate its citizens to improve their economic output. While American quality of life increased dramatically from the 1920's to the 1980's, most Soviet citizens were still living a 1930's quality of life compared to Americans. Unlike America, however, the distinction between rich and poor was largely non-existant outside the political classes.

The "free ride" mentality to the poor (and the bailed-out rich) is one of several poor economic choices that this country has been making for several decades. We have actually been hiding much of its impact by moving from a "Capitalist" system to a "Creditalist" system in order to maintain our economic growth. This means that instead of using debt as primarily an investment tool, we are now using debt to prop up the economy and government. The effect is that much of the economic growth we have experienced over the past couple of decades is not backed up by real economic output. Ultimately, this financial crisis was not caused by greedy executives or corrupt politicians (though they were definitely the enablers), it was caused by Americans economically consuming more than they output and using debt to hide the fact. This system is never sustainable in the long term. The result is the current contraction of our standard of living, and, if we try to bail it out with more and more government spending, it is likely that we will bankrupt our federal government as well.

Grégoire said...

Dear Chad:

While American quality of life increased dramatically from the 1920's to the 1980's, most Soviet citizens were still living a 1930's quality of life compared to Americans. Unlike America, however, the distinction between rich and poor was largely non-existant outside the political classes.

What part of the USSR did you visit, and when? I'm curious about the details of this 1930s life in the 1980s you claim to have experienced.

You've made a lot of broad, sweeping statements about a society which I was connected to. I don't think you were ever there. With respect, it sounds like you're just cut and pasting from Rush Limbaugh's polemic. To be blunt, and I'm sorry, but you clearly don't know what you're talking about.

The idea that the USSR is the sum total of socialist or communist experience is silly anyway. My ancestors lived on a collective farm. The Soviets called it a kolkhoz. We called it Orderville.

One thing you did bring up which is interesting is the idea of the *free ride*. You repeated that phrase several times.

When I pay my childrens' college tuition, it might be called a free ride, but it's not. It's an investment in the future. If you look at a nation as a bunch of snakes bound together, squirming around biting one another, struggling to survive, a *free ride* might cause some resentment. If you look at the human family as a family, you realize that we progress together to a more enlightened life. I don't let my children go hungry, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that in a world as rich as ours, no child ever should.

Best,

G

The Faithful Dissident said...

This article is so oversimplified that even I, a "socialist" living in such a "welfare state" can agree with it -- at least on a superficial level.

Elder Albert E. Bowen said, “The … Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.”

I'm not satisfied with such a system either, but to insinuate that people who live in a "welfare state" want to rob their fellow citizens of self-dependency and simply throw money at them is a gross oversimplification of something that is falsely branded as a "free ride."

I truly appreciate the Church's message of self-reliance. I believe in it and practice it as best I can. Any mentally competent, self-respecting person would feel the same. As far as the seagull story is concerned, I agree with it, except for the assumption that that is the proper definition of a "welfare state." The author was right: "Let’s not be gullible gulls." But only "gullible gulls" believe that a welfare state is only about throwing shrimp at people so that they become so enslaved to their dependency that they lose the ability to fish.

I have to agree with G's last paragraph.

Stephanie said...

President Romney meant for the article to be simple enough to apply to people in all nations. That's why he said: In some countries it is extremely difficult to separate earned from unearned benefits. However, the principle is the same in all countries: We should strive to become self-reliant and not depend on others for our existence.

Gregoire, is it necessary to have visited the Soviet Union and experienced it firsthand to learn from it? If so, what is the purpose of history classes?

The problem with G's last paragraph (referring to sending kids to college) is that it oversimplifies down to the same two extremes Chad referred to. President Romney, myself, Chad nor the majority of conservatives advocate for no safety net. (From the aricle: We know there are some who, for reasons beyond their control, cannot become self-reliant. President Henry D. Moyle had these people in mind when he said:

“This great principle does not deny to the needy nor to the poor the assistance they should have. The wholly incapacitated, the aged, the sickly are cared for with all tenderness, but every able-bodied person is enjoined to do his utmost for himself to avoid dependence, if his own efforts can make such a course possible; to look upon adversity as temporary; to combine his faith in his own ability with honest toil. …


The issue isn't whether government should do nothing. The issue is how much the government should do. The size and scale of government involvement and services. President Romney says it shouldn't get to the point of creating dependence. I believe that, in a lot of ways, the U.S. government has done and is doing just that.

Great analysis of what has happened in the U.S., Chad. I like that term "Creditalist". Did you hear it somewhere or invent it yourself? I'd like to use it. :)

Grégoire said...

Gregoire, is it necessary to have visited the Soviet Union and experienced it firsthand to learn from it?

If someone is going to lecture about a place I saw firsthand, and the description s/he gives is so wildly out of focus as to have no truth to it at all, at least from my perspective; then I'm going to casually inquire about the foundation for such incredible statements. That's just basic critical thinking.

There might have been some part of the USSR that was comparable to the U.S. in the 1930s, in the 1980s. If so, I'd like to know where it was.

The problem with G's last paragraph (referring to sending kids to college) is that it oversimplifies down to the same two extremes Chad referred to.

After reading your response you don't seem to have any arguments except this one.

Early church leaders talked about the earth as a common storehouse (Orson Pratt and Brigham Young got that from Jeremy Bentham - but they did use that term). I think that's a more sensible way to see a society.

Another Canada/U.S. comparison: In the U.S. the government subsidizes small farms. The Canadian government never helped farmers, and so it was LDS people (including some of my grandfather's cousins) who formed the Alberta Weat Pool back in the 1920s. Canada, being the more *capitalist* of the two societies, was against "welfare" and "handouts", but farmers there still needed help. So, they shared the risks.

Obviously there was nothing that was considered evil in either scenario by the standards of the LDS church. Farmers in the U.S. are seen as part of the society and worth preserving, even if conservative philosophy suggests that they should be allowed to be turned into the streets. I've never heard of anyone being denounced from the pulpit for taking a subsidy. In Canada, where LDS farmers were forced to form a social co-operative, they organized and weren't punished for it either.

Socialism and communism were, like it or not, part of the history of the early church. There is nothing anti-Mormon about these concepts. If anything, you and Chad ought to wonder why the leaders of the church made such a radical reversal in their philosophy.

Stephanie said...

G, the United Order was not socialism or communism. Here's a good Ensign article to explain the difference. Of note,

The Lord’s economic system differs in significant ways from other methods of relieving poverty. These other methods include philanthropy—an outright gift to the poor by an agency or benefactor; government-sponsored programs—attempts to redistribute the wealth among citizens by taxing the more affluent to provide for the less affluent; and communalism—the pooling of private property and money to community ownership so that each member holds equal ownership in community goods. These are the distinctive features of the Lord’s “own way”:

1. Entrance into the united order is wholly voluntary, as evidenced by a consecration of all one’s property to the Church.

2. The united order is not a supplemental assistance program; it is the economic system in Zion. It provides a standard of living commensurate to one’s needs, wants, circumstances, and ability to expand one’s stewardship.

3. The united order operates under the principle of private ownership and individual management. It is neither communal nor communistic. Each man owns his own property with an absolute title. The individual family is preserved. There is no common table.

The Prophet rejected communalism. When he arrived in Kirtland in 1831, he found some of the Saints organized into a communal society called “the family.” He soon had them abandon that for the “more perfect law of the Lord.” (History of the Church, 1:146–47) When asked later, “Do Mormons believe in having all things in common?” he answered no. (History of the Church, 3:28) In Nauvoo, he recorded this entry in his journal: “I preached on the stand about one hour on the 2nd chapter of Acts, designing to show the folly of common stock [holding property in common]. In Nauvoo, everyone is steward over his own.” (History of the Church, 6:37–38)

The united order, according to Elder Harold B. Lee, is “more capitalistic … than either Socialism or Communism, in that private ownership and individual responsibility will be maintained.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1941, p. 113)

4. The united order should not be confused with various “united orders” that were practiced in Utah. President J. Reuben Clark observed, “In practice the brethren in Missouri got away, in their attempts to set up the United Order, from the principles set out in the revelations. This is also true of the organizations set up … in Utah after the Saints came to the valleys.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55)

5. The united order is not socialism. The “equality” spoken of in the united order is based on (1) family size, (2) family circumstances, (3) family wants (these are to be “just”), and (4) family needs. (See D&C 51:31.) As President J. Reuben Clark observed, “Obviously, this is not a case of ‘dead level’ equality.” (The United Order and the Law of Consecration, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1945, p. 25)

6. The united order will only be implemented by revelation to the prophet of the Church, not by legislation or some political program.

Grégoire said...

Dear Stephanie,

The United Order certainly was an expression of communism. It didn't just exist in Orderville, by the way. There was a cotton collective in St. George. There's a collective farm near Galeana, Mexico which is populated by the descendants of Mormons.

There aren't any more old-school collective farms in Alberta or Utah among the Mormons any longer, but there are collective farms. The Hutterites and Mennonites have good examples within driving distance of Cardston.

While it's not likely that too many of these people are Marxist-Leninists, they are certainly communists by any reasonable definition of the word. If anything, they have more of a claim to the word than I or other theoretical communists do. They live the philosophy. I work in a bank. ;)

Jason Randall said...

I enjoyed the article, but I too agree politically the blame is very one sided in the article, though equal blame is later shared in the replies.

It could be misconstrued that republicans played no hand in the economic situation, which could cause bi-partisan bickering in the comments section.

Just a thought.

Loved the article overall, and will read more! :)

Stephanie said...

Okay, G, I'll agree to disagree. From everything I've read and understand about the United Order and law of consecration (as introduced and commanded by the Lord), it does not resemble communism.

In preparing to live the United Order, the direction seems to generally be (this quote taken from the article I referenced):

With the united order suspended for a time, it remained for the Lord to adapt the requirements of his “higher law” to the capacity of the Saints. This was done over the next century of Church history as Church presidents were inspired to institute the law of tithing, the law of the fast, and the Church welfare program . . .

As we strive to prepare for the days ahead, may we keep all the commandments of God, pay a full tithe, contribute generous fast offerings, willingly give of our time and service to the kingdom of God, and avoid all unholy and impure practices.

Stephanie said...

Jason, welcome, hope you'll stick around and read more.

For me, Republicans are not synonymous with conservatives. And there doesn't seem to be much difference between Republicans and Democrats lately with regard to the economy (earmarks, anyone?). I feel strongly about conservative principles, but Republicans don't seem to be representing them well.

Grégoire said...

Okay, G, I'll agree to disagree. From everything I've read and understand about the United Order and law of consecration (as introduced and commanded by the Lord), it does not resemble communism.

There are different expressions of communism, in the same way there are different expressions of Mormonism. Members of the LDS church are Mormons, but so are the FLDS and some (not a majority will accept the label) CoC/RLDS members.

Some communists are Marxist-Leninists, but others are religious, still others are humanist types, anarchists, and others who don't easily fit into any camp. The visions of the world between all these groups are wildly diverse.

If you want to end the discussion it's perfectly O.K., but I'm willing to tell anyone else what communism entails if you're curious, and it might benefit the critics in future conversations.

Good talking to you, anyway.

Stephanie said...

Interesting comparison, G. I'm interested in living the "true" gospel, which I believe can be found only the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, not in the FLDS church or other spin-offs that could be labeled as "Mormon". Similarly, I am very interested in living the United Order, but not a spin-off or knock-off. So, if you want to use the term communism widely to include the United Order, okay, but that doesn't mean that the United Order resembles any other form of communism or that another form would be a good substitute, IMO.

Grégoire said...

So, if you want to use the term communism widely to include the United Order, okay, but that doesn't mean that the United Order resembles any other form of communism or that another form would be a good substitute, IMO.

How does the United Order differ from the sovkhoz/kolkhoz system in the old USSR?

You keep making these statements, and yet you fail to cite any specifics or even elaborate on what you bring up. The United Order is not communism is a bit like saying beef is not food or meat is not potatoes. Generally, it's an incorrect statement, and unless you'd like to expound in more detail it isn't going to mean very much.

I'm totally sincere and not trying to argue unnecessarily. If you're going to write articles about communism it might be useful to know what communism actually is. Your arguments against it will be more succinct and certainly more effective.

The leaders of the Mormon church don't know what communism is, and quoting church leaders on political or economic matters is a little like finding out about Mormonism from Che Guevara's _Guerrilla Warfare_. They're two entirely different subjects.

Stephanie said...

G, I don't really know enough about the sovkhoz/kolkhoz, but based on wikipedia, I am going to venture a guess of private property being a big difference. The United Order retains private property (deeded back to individuals) while the systems you mentioned talk about communal pooling and ownership of resources. Under sovkhoz, the farms were state-owned. Another difference could be voluntary participation. Although it appears that farmers originally cooperated voluntarily with kolkhoz, under Stalin, participation was forced and individuals could not leave with property or the cash equivalent. So, I am going to venture to say there are a lot of differences.

I'm not really sure where you are coming from. You said, If you're going to write articles about communism it might be useful to know what communism actually is.

I didn't write any articles about communism. I wrote an article giving my analysis on a talk about self-reliance and how it relates to the government in the U.S.

But, since you brought it up, here is the definition of communism I think is generally understood and that I am using (Marxism/Leninism). When you say communism, that's what most people think of. Right off the bat, the big difference between this and the United Order is private ownership of property and resources.

Stephanie said...

In fact, pretty much any definition of communism fundamentally relies on common ownership of property. Since the United Order operates under the principle of private ownership of property, I am not sure how you could classify it as communism at all.

Grégoire said...

But, since you brought it up, here is the definition of communism I think is generally understood and that I am using (Marxism/Leninism).

Had you read the wikipedia article, you'd have noted the *Christian communism* section down below. ;)

When you say communism, that's what most people think of. Right off the bat, the big difference between this and the United Order is private ownership of property and resources.

When I was a little kid I saw an LDS stage show entitled _The Order Is Love_. My stepfather had relatives in Orderville and I learned about it at length. When I was 21 I went to the USSR and saw the sovkhoz/kolkhoz apparatus personally. I can tell you that there is no difference in practice.

In Orderville, as on a Soviet collective farm, real property was owned collectively. The people had a council (called a soviet) in which they made their own laws and governed their own affairs. There was private property in other respects. People had their own personal savings accounts, toothbrushes and suits of clothes.

While they were motivated by different ideals, in practice there was no real difference between the two systems.

Grégoire said...

Since the United Order operates under the principle of private ownership of property, I am not sure how you could classify it as communism at all.

Here I'm talking about the United Order as it actually did exist, and you're apparently theorizing some future version which never has existed (and I don't think it ever will).

The law of consecration suggests that, at least in theory, property will be owned collectively. Church leaders who claim to promote both the law of consecration and private capital are simply promoting two incompatible ideals.

Stephanie said...

G, I'm talking about the United Order as described in D&C 42 and by church leaders. Yes, communities in Utah experimented with the United Order under the direction of Brigham Young. Regarding that practice, from the article I linked to: The united order should not be confused with various “united orders” that were practiced in Utah. President J. Reuben Clark observed, “In practice the brethren in Missouri got away, in their attempts to set up the United Order, from the principles set out in the revelations. This is also true of the organizations set up … in Utah after the Saints came to the valleys.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55)

So, if I am referring to some "theoretical future version which has never existed", fine. That version is what I believe we will experience when Christ comes and is in charge.

From wikipedia about the differences between communism and the United Order:

This doctrine and succeeding practice, which was similar to that of many other religious groups in the early 19th century, was an attempt to eradicate poverty and promote a sense of unity and brotherhood within Latter-day Saint communities. Although many leaders of the Church clearly distinguished between communism and the Law of Consecration, due to the practices' distinct differences as related to the topics of free agency, private property and Deity, many throughout the 20th century and up to the present continue to incorrectly equate the two practices.

These individuals often compare the Law of Consecration and the United Order to Christian communism/communalism, which they also claim was practiced by 1st century Christian saints (Acts 2:44, 4:32). In reality, the Church has officially stated that communism, communalism, or socialism are simply counterfeits of the Law of Consecration. Nevertheless, communal unity and equality are central tenets of the Latter Day Saint doctrine of Zion as described in Moses 7:18, "And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."

Church leaders, including David O. McKay, Harold B. Lee, Ezra Taft Benson, Marion G. Romney, and J. Rueben Clark, Jr, often spoke of the stark differences between the United Order and communism. An official Church statement on this subject stated:

"Communism and all other similar isms bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the Gospel plan .... The United Order leaves every man free to choose his own religion as his conscience directs. Communism destroys man's God-given free agency; the United Order glorifies it. Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies ...." ("Message of the First Presidency," 112th Annual Conference, April 6, 1942.)


I just don't see eye to eye with you on this.

Grégoire said...

Dear Stephanie,

I've been very careful to read all your responses before replying, so I do see what you're saying.

So, if I am referring to some "theoretical future version which has never existed", fine. That version is what I believe we will experience when Christ comes and is in charge.

Well, people have been waiting for Christ to appear for two thousand years. Some of us are more patient than others. I'd rather see a heaven built on earth by men than continue to wait.

the Church has officially stated that communism, communalism, or socialism are simply counterfeits of the Law of Consecration.

This is cold-war propaganda spoken in the 1940s, at a time when Ezra Taft Benson was writing articles on "the Negro-Communist Conspiracy" and other things. I don't know that anyone should take this speech very seriously.

The current president of the church went to East Germany and so impressed the leaders there with stories about Mormon communism that the leaders there allowed missionaries and a temple. If I get a chance I'll post a transcript of that 1987 speech on my blog (I've been meaning to for a long time). That wouldn't mean that the United Order was a part of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, though; would it?

In any event, it was fun talking to you.

Quimby said...

The LDS leadership has a fairly extensive history of condemning Communism and Socialism, often without a solid basis or even understanding of what it is they are condemning. This article is simply an example of that.

Stephanie, how are you going with Hobbes? When you finish him, read Marx. I think there are several things in the Communist Manifesto that would appeal to you - For instance, Marx believed that once this ideal society was obtained, government would naturally fall away because it would no longer be necessary. (With my background in political science and my love of government, this is where I fall away from Marx. Because of what Hobbes, Locke, and the other Social Contract theorists say about government, I believe it is always necessary.)

Stephanie said...

I'd rather see a heaven built on earth by men than continue to wait.

The United Order is not currently issued by commandment, but the law of consecration is (to those who covenant). So, all is not lost. We can do our part.

Quimby, I admit, not well. Among other pressing matters, I've been sidetracked by two books on "Teaching Children Responsibility".

Quimby said...

Stephanie, come on, get your priorities in order! What's more important, being a mommy or reading Hobbes? :-)

I'll admit it - Leviathan can be a bit of a, well, leviathan, to actually get through. So just read the Cliffnotes. You know, in between being a wife, mom, housekeeper, blogging, doing your church callings, and riding that porcelin bus. (Ah, to be a student again!)

Stephanie said...

Ahh, Cliffnotes, I hadn't thought of that.

Grégoire said...

Dear Quimby:

For instance, Marx believed that once this ideal society was obtained, government would naturally fall away because it would no longer be necessary.

That actually started happening in Yugoslavia, in 1985-1986. The central committee had to arrest a bunch of people and re-structure the local communist parties because they started recognizing their own irrelevance and staying out of local affairs.

Basically, once Communism takes hold to the extent where it is reflected in everything, all political power finds itself in the hands of individuals and small groups. If your local soviet is self-sufficient, you don't need the district or national party leaders to give you money or help, and at that point they aren't worth anything. You simply handle all things locally, and tell the federal authorities to go to hell if they don't like it. This is the end result of communism.

Marx was wrong on some things, but in this case history proved him right.

Quimby said...

But local or localised government is still government. It's just government on a smaller, more personal scale.

Grégoire said...

Dear Quimby,

That's right, and that's exactly what Marx said. The State was the term he used. He didn't say it'd be abolished, but talked about it withering away.

Basically, The State is replaced by the primacy of the individual and his immediate neighbors, who become empowered to handle their own affairs.

His *Economic and Political Manuscripts skirt this issue, but another book you might like is Lenin's *State and Revolution*. Lenin was writing before the withering away in Yugoslavia, and he used the Paris Commune as his example.

Quimby said...

Ah - I never though of "state" as meaning only the central or federal government. But then when I was studying political sciene in the mid-90s we primarily discussed Communism as a "failed system" so we glossed over a fair bit. (The professor gave me a dirty look when I suggested that perhaps Communism hadn't failed, perhaps it was just that it had never been tried as Marx envisioned since every country that had implemented the system internally pretty much went directly from feudalism to Communism without actually having had the experience with capitalism.)

Grégoire said...

Dear Quimby,

Don't sell yourself short. You know much more about this topic than most other people I've talked to in recent memory.

Ah - I never though of "state" as meaning only the central or federal government.

Sorry, I didn't explain it correctly.

The word *State* in the Marxian context usually implied domination. In today's context we sometimes talk of Hegemony (see Gramsci) in the same fashion.

Communist domination was meant to be temporary, and after a brief period of dictatorship the expectation was that people would assume political power on an individual level.

A government which might be national, but which truly reflected the people, would not be The State. It'd just be a national council. No domination needed, since the interests of the government would be identical to the interests of the people.

When World War II broke out, this was well under way in the USSR. There was not much in the way of a Red Army (it was in the process of being abolished) and not even a unified police force. Soviet citizens were armed and people elected their policemen.

That's one of the weaknesses of communism. If you have a capitalist aggressor like Hitler who has channeled all the wealth of his people into building a war machine with a professional army, little collectives which rely on the guns people have in their homes are easy prey.

Anyway, that might explain the amazing surge into the USSR by the Wehrmacht, and it goes a long way toward explaining why genuine communism never managed to reach its last stages in the USSR. They were always afraid of totally abolishing the military with the USA on the horizon.

it was just that it had never been tried as Marx envisioned since every country that had implemented the system internally pretty much went directly from feudalism to Communism without actually having had the experience with capitalism.)

That's a really interesting point.

The Germans, Hungarians, South Slavs and Russians were a working-class revolution. The Chinese were largely a peasants' revolution. They are different in many ways. Peasants are seen as petit bourgeoise (like small businessmen because they tend to own their own land).

Leon Trotsky wrote a great work called _The Permanent Revolution_, which is a blueprint for feudal (what we'd call developing) society to immediately transition into Communism.

Ever hear of this guy?
http://www.marxists.org/archive/hansen/index.htm

A distant cousin of mine, married to the granddaughter of HC Kimball. He wrote about it too.

Nice to meet you and thanks for the discourse, btw.

Quimby said...

"They were always afraid of totally abolishing the military with the USA on the horizon."

It's really interesting - having grown up American in the dying days of the Cold War - how what we were told really didn't mesh with the reality. I was very much raised to fear the Soviets. However, particularly as I study Soviet propaganda that was designed and displayed for a Soviet audience, I realise that the fear was largely baseless. There are very few pieces that are blatantly anti-American - and most of the anti-American messages are playful, not menacing. (This is quite a contrast to South Korean propaganda which is quite militaristic - but then there is a great deal of political leverage to be had by going up against the big guys.) What surprises me most is that so much of it is steeped in morality - don't sleep around, etc. I've got a reproduction (I can't afford the originals) hanging in my kids' playroom that has a comical image of a man wit hhis lip zipped up. When people see it they assume the message is along the same lines as, Loose lips sink ships. It's actually a piece of propaganda about not gossiping. I find it fascinating that a government would concern itself with such moral issues - particularly as they are not framed in terms of religion - and can never decide if I think it's good or bad.

Quimby said...

obviously I meant South Korea, not North Korea. Typing one-handed while feeding a baby has its drawbacks!

Quimby said...

Gak! Obviously I meant NORTH Korean, not South Korea. Sheesh. Sometimes I amaze myself with my crappy proof-reading.

Grégoire said...

Dear Quimby,

I have a ton of old political magazines from the USSR (that's where I got my peace avatar). I've been meaning to scan some more of the artwork. Some of it is quite good, in a campy retro-80s sorta way.

North Korea, gawdalmighty that's a weird place. I've never been there, but in the early 90s I visited a town called Vladivostok which is right on the border, and home to a community of ethnic Koreans who defected. It's a really bizarre, fascist society with a state religion called Juche. Basically they worship the dictator. Marx called that _The Cult of the Individual_ -- you can see shades of it here lately with Barack Obama (LOL!).

Quimby said...

Obama - Ack. The other night I had a dream that someone had e-mailed me to say that her child had a serious illness and she had used Obama as an intercessory in her prayers (like a Catholic would with a Saint) and he was cured. And when I woke up, what struck me about the dream wasn't that it was bizarre, but that I could actually see it happening - not in the sense that I could see Obama healing someone, but in the sense that I could actually imagine people thinking he could.

Meanwhile, I am incredibly jealous of your Soviet magazine collection. A few years ago my mother in law had the opportunity to buy a giant parcel of Soviet propaganda at an auction for $1. At the time she passed on it because she thought I only collected Chinese propaganda. When she went back to see if he still had it, he'd burnt it because of a lack of interest. Be still my heart!

Frank Staheli said...

A great deal of the discussion regarding Elder Romney's article has been from a temporal perspective. If Romney's teachings are considered as temporal or political, they will not be able to be understood. Here's an attempt to help illumninate the spiritual importance of self-reliance rather than reliance on easy government handouts.

If we are in debt to government, we cannot be "provident providers".

Quimby said...

Frank, I don't understand what you mean by "in debt to government."

I suppose it depends on what type of "handouts" you mean. For instance, are you including such things as free education? What about food stamps? Or are you limiting your definition to cash payments?

And what, precisely, do you mean by "debt"? With some very limited examples (eg, the HECS scheme in Australia, whereby the government pays for your tertiary degree and you repay it later in a seperate tax) governments do not consider such help a loan that is to be repaid.

Personally we have used the baby bonus to pay off debt and acquire food storage. How is that not provident living?

Grégoire said...

Dear Frank,

The LDS church is not in any position to talk about charity.

http://www.algonet.se/~daba/lds/cworth.htm

It's arguably the least charitable corporation of its size in the U.S.. The LDS church is also the *only* non-profit of its size to refuse an audit. The incessant need for secrecy ought to be a warning.

Mormon tithes are presently being used to build a multi-billion dollar mega-mall in Salt Lake City, where both tobacco and alcohol will likely be sold, and upscale condos for rich people on the same property. Over two hundred human beings died last winter in Salt Lake City of exposure (starvation and lack of housing).

Clearly, working-class Mormons like myself see a need to re-assess things like tithes and offerings. In any event, church publications on charity and welfare are at best self-serving and usually hypocritical. Church leaders have no business giving advice about national policy on welfare anyway.

RAP08 said...

Greg,

I assume you meant that the church refuses an external or independent audit. My Bishop would probably prefer not needing to spend several hours each quarter with the Stake auditors :)

And since you like specifics to back up claims do you know how much the church spends on charitable work? I only have reports that are made by church leaders so if you know of some external source that has information on the spending of fast offering contributions I would like to see them.

My understanding is that tithing is used for the building up of the kingdom and that fast offerings are used to help the poor and needy.

Also I think a lot of the ‘for profit’ businesses which are mentioned in your reference article do get audited. They definitely pay taxes :)

Stephanie said...

Mormon tithes are presently being used to build a multi-billion dollar mega-mall in Salt Lake City.

Wrong. From President Hinckley's conference address on this issue:

I call attention to that which has received much notice in the local press. This is our decision to purchase the shopping mall property immediately to the south of Temple Square.

We feel we have a compelling responsibility to protect the environment of the Salt Lake Temple. The Church owns most of the ground on which this mall stands. The owners of the buildings have expressed a desire to sell. The property needs very extensive and expensive renovation. We have felt it imperative to do something to revitalize this area. But I wish to give the entire Church the assurance that tithing funds have not and will not be used to acquire this property. Nor will they be used in developing it for commercial purposes.

Funds for this have come and will come from those commercial entities owned by the Church. These resources, together with the earnings of invested reserve funds, will accommodate this program.


Whether or not you and Mormons "like yourself" choose to pay tithing is your business, but don't spread lies.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"Clearly, working-class Mormons like myself see a need to re-assess things like tithes and offerings."

G, do you really consider yourself a Mormon?

I can appreciate your skepticism and I can even agree with you that there is perhaps a need to re-assess the Church's financial dealings, but I just find it strange that you identify yourself in this forum as a "working class Mormon," when reading your personal blog (which by the way is very interesting and I very much enjoyed just by browsing through some of your posts a while back) leaves the reader with a totally different impression. You seem to want to be a Mormon in this thread, but I would have guessed after reading your blog that that "Mormon" is the last thing you would want to be.

Just curious. I found your story interesting but am a bit confused.

Grégoire said...

Stephanie sez:
Whether or not you and Mormons "like yourself" choose to pay tithing is your business, but don't spread lies.

I said the church was building a multi-billion dollar mega-mall in Salt Lake City with its wealth. You call me a liar, and to support this strange conclusion, you quote President Hinckley admitting that the church is building a multi-billion dollar mega-mall in Salt Lake City.

Nice.

Rap08 sez:

Also I think a lot of the ‘for profit’ businesses which are mentioned in your reference article do get audited. They definitely pay taxes :)

And therein lies the irony.

In countries which require so-called charitable organizations to be audited, the LDS Church is listed as spending about two tenths of one percent of its wealth on charitable work.

Bank of America, which is audited in the U.S. by law, has spent over 2 percent on charitable work. Bank of America gives orders of magnitude more money toward society than the LDS Church does.

If you dispute this, you could present an audit suggesting as much... O, wait, you can't. The LDS Church is unique among U.S. non-profits in their absolute need for secrecy and zero oversight.

I'll ignore FD's attempt to get personal, which is even more obvious than Stephanie's, except to note that it is a standard tactic of true believers to attack the critics, and serves to suggest there are no valid counter-arguments to the topical material I've presented.

Aside from Mormons, Scientologists are also known for this.

Stephanie said...

G, let's go back and review exactly what you said. You said:

Mormon tithes are presently being used to build a multi-billion dollar mega-mall in Salt Lake City

You did not say "wealth", you said tithes. You are incorrect. There is a huge difference between the two. If you are going to attack the church, make it accurate.

Stephanie said...

If you want to claim you misspoke and really just meant "wealth" (which doesn't seem to be the case since you then reaffirmed the use of the word "tithes" by saying you are re-assessing paying them), fine. That is a fair critique - that you don't feel the church should be using its "wealth" from investments to purchase a mega-mall. But, it really is very different to state that the church is using tithing money to do it. That is flatly untrue.

Grégoire said...

Dear Stephanie:

To begin with, you called me a liar, and then quoted a man like "I don't know that we teach that" Gordon B Hinckley, a man who is famous for lying most shamefully on national television.

The LDS Church is right now in trouble for lying to a judge in the American State of California.

http://www.sacbee.com/1095/story/1584048.html

I guess if they lie about how much money they spend on a political campaign, they'll lie about anything.

You'll note that I haven't insulted you, or anyone else here personally. I don't need to rely on such chicanery. The facts speak for themselves.

If you want to claim you misspoke and really just meant "wealth" (which doesn't seem to be the case since you then reaffirmed the use of the word "tithes" by saying you are re-assessing paying them), fine. That is a fair critique - that you don't feel the church should be using its "wealth" from investments to purchase a mega-mall. But, it really is very different to state that the church is using tithing money to do it. That is flatly untrue.

A couple of obvious points, which any discerning reader of this article will have already understood:

The fact that the LDS church absolutely refuses to be audited suggests it cooks its books like Enron. You're claiming that you know where "tithes" begin and "wealth" ends. You don't know any such thing.

Most importantly, the LDS church (Called the Corporation of the First Presidency) claims to be a non-profit and thereby exempts itself from American taxes. Every American is ripped off when one of the 501 corporations uses the tax code self-servingly. The Evangelical Lutherans pay a full 10% of its wealth toward welfare programs. The LDS church claims to pay two tenths of one percent toward charity. This may well be exaggerated.

The article I cited uses the church's own sources which suggest that it is one of the least charitable organizations in modern history. For the LDS church to preach about *charity* suggests a huge amount of hypocrisy. The multi-billion dollar mega mall and upscale condos, which will make huge profits while working-class Mormons and others starve and freeze to death every year in Salt Lake City would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic.

And again, it's amusing to note that Mormons rely on personal attacks rather than debating the real issues. This is the hallmark not of a respectable religion but of a looney, dangerous cult. Rather than simply attacking my character, you and your friends might want to post something substantial or verifiable which tends to refute the facts. Doing otherwise serves no purpose other than damaging your own credibility.

Stephanie said...

Uh, sure, G. Have a nice day.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Dude, you're not the first anti-Mormon I've encountered, but you are the first one I've come across who seems to like to employ the Mormon handle when it's convenient.

Stephanie was right about your blurring of "wealth" and "tithes." That was a distortion that would have done President Hinckley proud.

"This is the hallmark not of a respectable religion but of a looney, dangerous cult."

But apparently not "looney" or "dangerous" enough to not want to be mistaken for being a part of it.

"I'll ignore FD's attempt to get personal, which is even more obvious than Stephanie's, except to note that it is a standard tactic of true believers to attack the critics..."

It's not often that fellow "Mormons" consider me to be one of the true believing anti-critics. This must be a first! Thanks, G. :)

Grégoire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Grégoire said...

Uh, sure, G. Have a nice day.

Right back at ya...

The Faithful Dissident said...

Since my "anti-Mormon slur" is obviously so misplaced, it would be interesting to know what your "correct" definition of anti-Mormon is, since you obviously don't fit the description. :)

My visit to your blog a couple of weeks ago was not my first. In fact, I visited your blog on at least two occasions before that I can remember after discovering The Mormon Worker a few months ago. I was a bit intrigued by what I read at first, but it took a few visits to get a feel for what it was you were trying to say. I rather liked your simple sentiment in regards to being married, which I thought was very beautiful, as well as the story of your growing up and family members which let you down and caused you pain, which I found to be sad and tragic. (You know, all that "controversial" anti-Mormon stuff that I purposely decided to seek out for the sole purpose of attacking people who disagree with me.) And for what it's worth, I agreed with a lot of what you had to say regarding Prop 8 a while back. I found you to be a talented writer, which I suppose doesn't mean much coming from a pathetic phoney. :)

One other note, if you're connecting me to your blog by the fact that it was viewed from Norway, I can tell you that I haven't just been in Norway when I've read other people's blogs. It could have been Canada, it could have been the US. Wherever I go, my laptop follows.

Grégoire said...

So, an article is posted about political and economic theory. Eventually I'm libeled with the 'anti-Mormon' canard for disagreeing. When this doesn't shut me up, my wife and family are brought into the discussion.

I wish I could claim to be surprised, but I've seen it so often with friends of mine (many of whom are perfectly observant) that it's not at all unexpected.

RAP08 said...

Gregoire,

you sir are truly tallented at twisting. I think Faithful was just showing she had spent more than 10 mintues you suggested she spent. Now if you said that about me it would have been completely true.
So you consider your self a mormon, since you call previous and I assume current church leaders liars would it be safe then to say you are anti-church leaders?
Some of us take personally comments made about mormons, as we identify ourselves with that label. So in a sense you did make personal attacks even if you did not say "RAP08 you are ..."

Now getting back to the church not being charitable I had considered that in other countries the church must open it's books. It makes sense that there would be places that audits would be required. Can you point us to sources that have information about these audits and the small fraction that is reported as charitable?

thanks in advance :)

Grégoire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Faithful Dissident said...

G, my mention of your family is irrelevant to the topic of discussion, whether it be anti-Mormonism or charitable donations. I only brought it up because, as Rap suggested, I wanted you to know that I had spent more time reading through your posts than you accused me of. I enjoy reading about people from all walks of life and your story was interesting. When people write about themselves and their families on blogs, I assume it's because they want people to read it. I read it and I *thought* I was paying you a compliment for your ability to write and express emotion. So I pay you a compliment and then get accused of "getting personal" and "dragging your family into the discussion." I don't get it.

Grégoire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Faithful Dissident said...

Well G, in the future I will try to restrain myself from throwing around compliments so indiscriminately.

Sorry for getting the last word in. :D

Grégoire said...

i'm subscribing to comments, as i'm sure there will be more "compliments" like "anti-Mormon" (the filthiest insult anyone can give in our tradition - now apparently painted as praise) and various other hateful epithets flung in my direction.

I'm also copying this thread and will be hosting it on my web page, as it's a perfect example of the dysfunctional aspect of Mormonism which we all ought to grow up and out of. I'm sure casual visitors will be amused at the "love" which members of Christ's true church so liberally bestow on one another. LOLOLOL!

RAP08 said...

Gregoire,

Dude you totally like need to take a chill pill bro and feel the love!!!

Here is one of my favorite scriptures, from Alma 5:26 -
And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

(and to fulfill you wish)

Can anyone believe the way he is intentionally misunderstanding our sincere statements! Perhaps he is not accustomed to having dialog with people who disagree and yet do not become hostile so he is projecting! I have a feeling he is the type to set a spark and then pump the billows :) Of course as a pyromaniac I must admit I like a little fire now and then.

Grégoire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Teo said...

Gregoire,
You're right there with the rest of us Mormons not bestowing "love" on one another. Aren't you just as guilty? Oh, of course not, because you are right and everyone else in wrong.

Really, Mormon wealth is going to build a mall? that is just absurd! Just imagine, creating jobs, and bringing all that tax money to the state, what fools.

Let me apologize for all of us hateful Mormons. See, we didn't realize that we can't have our own opinions and emotions. It's unthinkable that we actually make mistakes and aren't perfect.

You said: "Last year, over two hundred people died from exposure in Salt Lake City, within view of the Bishop's Storehouse and Temple Square." and "yet when it comes to feeding the most vulnerable we are told that these people (who Jesus called *the least of these*) need to "take personal responsibility" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps".

What should we have done with these people, Forced their mouths open and spoon feed them? There are plenty of resources, but resources aren't very resourceful when left unused by those in need. Do some research and you will find that thousands of homeless shelter beds go unused every night. We can't force people to do anything, that is Satan's plan, right?

Lastly, If you post this thread on your blog that's great. Perhaps people might see that Mormons aren't perfect. Gee, what a surprise!

Feel free to take this as a compliment:)

Grégoire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RAP08 said...

Gregoire,

I went back to find the previous link to see what I had missed the first time and I found the link to the Sac Bee story first. I think you misrepresent what that story contains as the church is not even mentioned. the title of the story is "Judge denies request to keep Proposition 8 donors secret. Did you post the wrong story?

Any way I found your previous link and re-read that page and read the rest of the site, could not find any documentation to back you claims of charitable contributions being less than 1% of church wealth. Again wrong link? or did I miss something? Please provide additional direction on how to view materials you are basing your claims on.

Stephanie said...

I think anyone reading this thread can clearly see exactly what is going on. I have deleted comments that contain clear personal attacks and insults.

Gregoire, I will kindly ask you to leave this discourse that is so "beneath" you.

Stephanie said...

And, FD, I apologize for it taking me so long to do that.

RAP08 said...

Just a little up date on our friend Greg from his blog.

"It took me several months but I managed to get myself excommunicated from the LDS church so that this meddling would stop."

So I guess he is Mormon only in his mind and when convenient to make some point :) Hardly a working class Mormon.

(side note) I would not encourage reading his blog.

The Faithful Dissident said...

No problem, Stephanie.

Hope you're all having a Happy Easter. :)

Quimby said...

Teo, I'd like to respond to some of your comment, particularly this bit - There are plenty of resources, but resources aren't very resourceful when left unused by those in need. Do some research and you will find that thousands of homeless shelter beds go unused every night.

My parents served a humanitarian mission with the homeless in SLC, so I know something about the particular issue of homelessness in SLC.

The resources available, and the number of resources used, vary greatly according to the season. While it is true that in summer many shelter beds go unused, it is not true in the winter. Many homeless choose to sleep outside when the weather is warm. This is obviously not a very safe option when the weather is cold. In the winter months, the demand for beds far outstrips the number of beds available.

There are some shelters in SLC that operate only during the winter months. Even with these additional beds there are not enough beds for everyone.

There is more I could say on this issue but it does not directly address your comment so I will leave it at that.

matt said...

IS THIS SITE DEAD?
So many great current issues and so little blogging.

Stephanie said...

Would you like to write a guest post, matt? (or two or three?) I'll post them for you.

matt said...

Steph,
Im workin' on one for you. I'll let you know when it's done.
Thanks!

David said...

I found some of the discussion here enlightening. I particularly found G's comments on communism to give a perspective that US propaganda would never reveal. I had no idea that Marx envisioned a society of local councils without heavy handed interference from a central government. However, I do not see socialism in any of its degrees actually leading towards that goal in actual practice. G's comments on Yugoslavia illustrate this point clearly - as the local order nearly achieved this goal, it was squashed by the central government.

I wanted to point out that the founding fathers of the United States also supported minimal government. They felt that government should act at the lowest level possible. Thus the primary unit of governance should be the family which in turn would be supported by the community, state, and national governments. Of course they differ from Marx in the economic system in which such a governmental system would work. They also felt that their system depended on society consisting primarily of people with Christian values.

As for partisan US politics go, I don't see vast differences in the road Democrats or Republicans political leaders have taken us down in recent decades - I'm pretty sure the federal government has been growing larger and more powerful continually since WWII: Republicans just complain that the Democrats grow it faster.

I agree that what is wrong with the US system is the move from "Capitolist" to "Creditist" economy. I'm glad there are voices out there that give sound economic advise on the issue; unfortunately there are many more that tell people what they want to hear.