I was recently asked by an employee what Mormons believe that’s unique which he rephrased as what I personally believe (the two are not necessarily the same thing, of course). Given the person asking, I wasn’t sure what he wanted to know about, but it’s something I have given a lot of thought to. As a thought exercise, I’ll kick out a few of the things I most embrace about our doctrines and those that I don’t.
Often, ex-Mos like to state that what’s good about Mormonism isn’t unique and what’s unique isn’t good. I’m not quite in agreement with them. There are some really intriguing ideas that Mormonism brings into the Christian canon that you can’t get in other religions. In some cases, these have been twisted around a bit or overstated, but they are at heart innovative concepts that add meaning to life. Here’s my list of the best ones.
- Theosis. The concept that humans are becoming gods and that human progress is the objective of our mortality (along with being further tested). The byproducts of this concept are: a focus on education, an embracing of modernity, flipping the common Christian script of human depravity, an interest in human flourishing (as partly evidenced by our focus on self-reliance). This concept solves the Boring Heaven problem (playing harps on a cloud for eternity), although it replaces it with a Heaven of Work.
- As man is, God once was. While the prior bullet relates to man’s purpose, this one relates to the nature of God. In this teaching, we double down on the idea of a Jesus who is both fully human and fully divine, and we say that God the Father also has progressed from a human state to a divine one. That sets a pattern for humans to follow but creates a God of true empathy.
- Pre-existence. This concept is hidden in plain site in the Bible, but not widely discussed or taught as it pertains to normal humans. The idea that our intelligences, some core element of ourselves, is co-eternal with God is a powerful idea. Obviously, this concept has been twisted at various times to support racist and other reprehensible ideas, but the core idea is worth contemplation.
- Heavenly Mother. The idea that women can also become Gods (although currently very suppressed and limited) is a valuable innovation. Catholicism has addressed the “woman-gap” by elevating Mary, the Mother of God, and also by including many female Saints. Other Christian sects (barring women’s ordination) suffer from a lack of female pathway. Having said that, see polygamy below.
- Personal Revelation. That every church member has access to revelation and that we don’t have to accept what we are told without our own confirmation that it’s correct is a very empowering concept. (Even if many church members give away their empowerment or claim you can’t receive an answer that contradicts what a higher leader has taught–this was not the teaching when I was growing up. You absolutely could receive a contradictory answer at least for yourself even if it wasn’t binding on others.)
- Open Canon of Scripture. The most important aspect of this is that we aren’t a Sola Scriptura faith. We can take scripture with a grain of–if not salt–context. We can question whether it’s literal or not, what the motives of the narrators are, why this scripture contradicts that one, etc. We can learn from “further light and knowledge” rather than just trying to wrestle the same approved life meanings out of disparate verses written thousands of years ago.
- Genealogy. This is not one I would have included on my list several years ago, and I’ll be honest, I still hate doing the work of it. But there’s something really magical and interesting about the sudden interest in DNA kits and family trees, and that’s thanks to the Mormons. It’s getting people interested in the human race, and that can bring us together in ways not yet imagined.
Neutrals that are Unique. There are a few Mormon ideas that church members are sometimes really proud of (including me at times in the past), that with time, I’ve come to see as a mixed bag.
- Lay Clergy. There are positives here, but there are also many negatives. I love that church members write and give the sermons, including women and teens (unlike some churches where no women preach or no youth speakers), but of course, we don’t get some of the rousing, professional sermons that other churches enjoy. We have a fairly business-like service run mostly by businessmen. Additionally, when our lay clergy are in a pastoral care role, the lack of experience, lack of time, and lack of vocation all seem to have unintended consequences.
- Missionary Service. As someone who served and even published a mission memoir, you’d think I’d put this in my “Best” column, but I think it’s pretty clearly a mixed bag. The sexist distinctions aren’t great, the high pressure sales techniques can be a turn off, and ultimately, a lot of conversions (including the missionaries themselves) don’t stick. Ultimately, I think we beat the Jehovah’s Witnesses for being slightly less annoying, a low bar. I know that changes are underway, and I have a lot of confidence in Gary Crittenden who was CFO at Amex.
- Welfare. This one is nearly in the “Best” column, but it’s another mixed bag. We tend to outsource our charity to the church too much and focus a lot on only helping within our own ward boundaries. The church does humanitarian efforts, and both Just Serve and Helping Hands are the best parts of this program.
- Seminary. This is an idea that is intriguing, putting all our youth, male and female, in a program to prepare them for future church leadership and missionary service. What it really is, though, falls short of that ideal. It’s just another class, one aimed at positive social peer pressure (fine), and indoctrination (not ideal). Plus, wherever time release isn’t an option, there are huge sacrifices and burdens placed on families and students.
Worst of Mormonism. These are the concepts that are unique to Mormonism that really are terrible.
- Polygamy. You won’t hear a lot of contemporary Mormons saying nice things about polygamy, but those who descended from it aren’t going to completely trash it (as they should) either. Plus, it’s never been disavowed either as a historical practice nor as a celestial one. It dehumanizes and demeans women, devaluing us to a fraction of a man, an eternal baby factory to worship a glorified husband. This only works if women are something so subhuman that we are different in our very nature to men, which is simply not the case.
- Living Prophets. This one purports to be unique, but in many ways it is not. There’s no substantial difference between the Pope and the Church President in terms of authority over a church or belief in that individual’s ability to represent the will of God. Additionally, the twisting of Biblical prophets into roles that they didn’t really have in the scriptures in order to bolster the one-leader narrative is . . . odd. “Adam was a prophet. First one that we know.” No, unless you have some other sources I’m not aware of, that claim doesn’t actually hold water. Most of the people I know who love the idea of living prophets are just seeking to outsource their own moral reasoning to another person, and this is, IMO, a truly terrible idea that leads to all sorts of downstream problems.
- Eternal Families. Look, I think this one doesn’t have to be in this bad column. It’s just landed here because of how it’s gone from a positive idea to a negative one, a threat, a way to control and coerce others or to promote church loyalty over human love. There are two other reasons I’m downgrading this to a “worst” idea: 1) it’s not truly unique because many people believe their love and/or families will last forever, and 2) salvation is also an individual act. We each work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. I do believe there was a concept revealed to Joseph Smith that was unique and valuable, but I’ve put that up in the genealogy note. We’ve devolved to a place where we worship families as an idol, and we’ve forgotten that the gospel is also for people who aren’t in families, a thing which Jesus didn’t teach at all. It seems to me that this happened because in the 80s, eternal families were the one positive thing people knew about the Church, and it was an important missionary tool. It’s gotten out of hand and had unintended consequences.
- Correlation. Nobody at church talks about “correlation” per se, but what they do talk about is only using “approved” materials (not being curious or thoughtful or intellectual), and there’s also an assumption that everything must have male (Priesthood) oversight. Those are the fruits of correlation. And while they have made things more orderly, they have wounded the inquisitive soul of Mormonism, the concept of personal progression toward godhood through learning. You can’t learn to be a god through indoctrination. You have to have a spark of intelligence, a wonder and curiosity and love of investigation and experimentation. And you can’t suppress the intellect of over half the church members (women) and also encourage their progression.
Those are my thoughts about the Best and Worst Mormonism has to offer. What are yours? Do you disagree with these? Are there some you expected to see on the list you didn’t?
Mostly agreed. But the title “Best & Worst of Mormonism” and the conclusion “about the Best and Worst Mormonism has to offer” seem overstated relative to the content being limited primarily to concepts that appear to some to be unique among religions, whether they are or not. The apparent overstatement called my attention to the omission of the testimony of Christ and of the “doctrine” of Christ as taught in the Book of Mormon, neither of which is unique to Mormonism, but for me among the best it has to offer. This comment of mine, however, is at least very close to quibbling about rhetoric and not intention. I sometimes have difficulty distinguishing the two.
Re one of the Worst: “polygamy [—] those who descended from it aren’t going to completely trash it”. Nope. Some of us do, but I think mostly privately — some very publicly. Maybe your comment had to do with current Q15 members descended from it.
Re another: “There’s no substantial difference between the Pope and the Church President in terms of authority over a church or belief in that individual’s ability to represent the will of God.” I think there has been a substantial difference in ability to represent the will of God between some Church Presidents and some Popes, but then your claim might have to do with lack of a substantial difference by virtue of position in their respective hierarchies alone.
I really like your list and evaluations, though as to be expected, some entries speak to me more than others.
On eternal families: One topic that has been on my mind a bit since conference is the concept of “sad heaven”, or the idea that one can go to heaven and miss their family members who can’t be there. President Nelson’s talk seemed to reinforce this notion.
Church leadership seems to be inconsistent on what the doctrine is on this topic. Even in the same conference I think there were conflicting messages.
On personal revelation: if you grew up in a church that said you can receive revelation (even for yourself only) that contradicts a church leader, I don’t know what church you grew up in. I’m roughly less than half a generation younger, I that was definitely not the message I got. I mean, I totally agree that people should not give away their empowerment, but I think if you were taught that it had to be because of your family and good fortune with local leaders; it was not a message coming from the church as a whole.
Nice post. For me, the best of Mormonism isn’t really a uniquely Mormon thing. The best of Mormonism is an emphasis on Christ, his teachings and the encouragement we receive to alter our own behaviors and thoughts to match his. This is sort of like the whole eternal family thing for me in that it just doesn’t feel like a belief that is that unique to Mormonism.
The worst of Mormonism is, IMHO, the emphasis on “perfect obedience” and the continual pushback against actual truth. The anti-intellectualism and the disdain for actual, documentable historical records that disprove some Mormon claims just really feels toxic to me. And so, too, does the emphasis on obedience. To me, obedience has little to do with becoming like Christ. Becoming like Christ is mostly a matter of self-reflection, repentance and kindness, not making sure one wears a white shirt to church or “checks all the boxes” for a temple recommend interview. I think things would much improve if we got rid of the temple recommend interview questions and we were just asked what we do on a daily basis to enact Christ’s love in the world. And if we give a satisfying answer, we’re allowed to enter the temple. Maybe one of the worst things of Mormonism is how the church encourages us to measure whether we’re becoming like Christ by using rather superficial, outward standards instead of emphasizing a deep and thoughtful journey inward.
Where do temples fit in your list? It seems that in the last maybe 20 years generally and then in the last 2 years even more, most members and leaders in public would want to put them in a separate Awesome category. More and more I see on a local level the playing out of temples as magic pixie dust as we try and implement this assessment. In other words, temples are just so gosh darn inherently awesome that all we have to do is get investigators, teenagers (and now 11 year olds), recent converts, inactives and adults into or in near proximity to a temple and the super magic overwhelms them and all is good. But you only have to hang out on LDS blogs for a little while to know that for most members the temple experience is much more complex than that simplistic vision, and that many members have a much more nuanced view of the experience that calls the awesome theory into question.
Rockwell, I expect the general church culture is largely like your experience. However, Elder Dallin Oaks’ teaching on the subject seems more aligned with hawkgrrrl’s:
“…if you feel you are an exception to what I have said. As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.”
JR, I thought about that quote as I wrote my comment, but I didn’t know where to find it. Thank you.
However, it is just one quote and doesn’t really rate in the sea of talks, lessons in the correlated materials, as well as the overall culture of the church.
I would be hard pressed to find, from the last 80 years, one single general authority quote or correlated lesson that has a similar statement.
Yeah, well, Oaks’ is the only one I know of. But I’m also not looking for more.
Agree with virtually everything you posted here. One I might add as a neutral is the LDS sense of community / family. One might argue it’s not unique, as many churches offer a sense of family for core members. However I’m unaware of a more-or-less global church that offers that. I attended church in Paris last weekend and met a local family and struck up a conversation like we were best friends. I’m not sure other large churches like Catholicism offer that, but I could be wrong since I’ve not attended all that many churches. Somewhat related is that I feel the BYU alumni network is pretty strong.
The downside of the sense of community is that we tend to gossip, bicker, and establish a sense of hierarchy not unlike families. If you are new or somehow not welcome in the family, you know it.
For me, one of the best things about Mormonism (and this kind of goes along with what Toad says) is the concept of Zion that Joseph Smith emphasized. I just love the idea of a group of people learning to get along with each other and helping each other in every way. Sometimes I get the feeling that the Church is moving away from the idea of Zion and is moving more toward the idolizing of families instead, and that makes me very sad.
Just a slight correction when you say that Christians view the human condition as one of depravity. That is a uniquely Calvinist idea, especially among US fundamentalists, and is in no way representative of Christianity at large or the long Christian tradition prior to the Reformation. Much of Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox thought has been quite the opposite, posited over against old Gnosticism. They also embraced divinization, or theosis, where we become partakers of the divine nature and one with God, though not actually becoming God.
Also, the majority of the Christian tradition does not buy sola scriptura, and reads the scriptures very differently than do US Evangelicals. I mean, if you read the Patristic writers and other church fathers and mother’s, you see a very thoughtful and mature approach to scripture. Again, the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican (and some others) have maintained that approach (see the Anglican “three legged stool” of scriptures, tradition, and reason).
FTR, Elder Packer (of all people!) also taught about individual exceptions. For example, in the April 1994 General Conference,
“I once learned a valuable lesson from a mission Relief Society president. In a conference, she announced some tightening up of procedures. A sister stood up and defiantly said, ‘Those rules can’t apply to us! You don’t understand us! We are an exception.’
That wonderful Relief Society president replied, ‘Dear sister, we’d like not to take care of the exception first. We will establish the rule first, and then we’ll see to the exception.’ Many times I have borrowed from her wisdom, grateful for what she taught me.”
Rockwell: I’m not sure when or why the rhetoric changed. Was I just in some special unicorn ward growing up? Maybe. Our branch comprised of several college professors, and they were naturally more inquisitive, scholarly types. But there was always the idea that Oaks expressed (that individual exceptions were the purview of personal revelation) and it was more commonly talked about back in the 80s. When it really started to disappear, I think, is when Pres. Benson rose to power. He was very conservative and far less curious and inquisitive than some of the others, at least from where I’m sitting (not totally confident in my ability to judge such a thing). That idea has always been there, has been openly accepted, but in the last 20 years it’s been actively suppressed for some reason. You can still see the vestiges in the Proc (which notes individual exceptions).
The downside is that while it can help with something like Benson saying “mothers should all stay home” where I had a clear personal revelation that it wasn’t right for me to do so, it doesn’t work with things like “the PoX is revelation” or when I attended the temple and heard a distinct voice that the sexist language wasn’t from God. Since there’s nothing in the church that says I can have revelation for the whole church (even though subsequent events seem to bolster the validity of my personal revelation), those particular insights only create cognitive dissonance. But I still believe my own revelation over anything I’ve been told by others was revelation. Capisce?
KLC: I really think the temples are kind of like families. We’ve somehow gotten this idea that it’s like a magic word we can say that will fix everything. I don’t think the temple experience holds up to the rhetoric about it. It’s not universally awesome. It’s sometimes weird, sexist (yes, even still), and just downright boring. This over-selling makes it feel awkward like we can’t acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes. It’s probably in the neutral camp for me overall. It’s another one that has really changed over time. Members used to go for their own ordinances or for their own dead, but they weren’t going for random dead people nor told to go monthly or even more often if time allowed. I couldn’t even see a movie I loved every week or even every month. Variety is the spice of life. Time for reflection is good, but I can find that in many places and with more thought-provoking content.
I found your comments about “eternal families” very insightful. When you said this concept has “gotten out of hand” you might have added the fact that the Church references the Family Proclamation as if it were scripture, yet it is not. It has not been canonized. Why has it not? We seem to worship the concepts of this FP and yet we hide so many unspoken truths: (1) many members are alone without family (2) many members can’t stand their family members (3) salvation is an individual endeavor (4) the average LDS family is very split in terms of “righteousness” so how will our families really look in the Celestial Kingdom? On this last point, I think I’d rather have a guaranteed spot in the Terrestrial Kingdom with my entire family than a spot in the Celestial Kingdom with 2/3 of my family. Is it just me?
1) KLC: Wish I could like your comment about temples 40 times. I think part of the reason I got released from a leadership calling was because I refused to coerce a family member into receiving her endowments. The bishop insisted that it would bring her closer to the faith, and wouldn’t listen when I tried to explain that not only was her basic understanding of church principles sorely lacking, but this lack of a firm grounding in our teachings would make the temple bewildering and maybe even threatening to her. Temple attendance is not a magic balm that instantly secures faith.
2) It might be a bullet point under “Living Prophets” but I’d add “General Conference” under the Worst headings. Some churches have regular addresses by leadership to the members–because they are frequent, they are short and often timely–or else they are extraordinarily rare, and represent a very special moment of communication. Some churches have high-level administrative meetings where they hash out policy and establish a direction for the next few years, maybe even discussing finances. Yet other churches have joyous gatherings of members from around the world to celebrate their shared experience. Somehow our General Conference manages to be none of these things.
I can accept that some people find Conference satisfying as a whole, or find occasional talks inspiring. But like KLC’s temple comment, I’m starting to resent when people worship conference as an idol and expect me to do the same. I’m particularly shocked when people recommend it as a missionary tool,–it may work for some, but mercy I would not inflict it on a potential member unless they explicitly expressed an interest.
3) Not strictly unique to Mormonism, but our interpretation of “Sunday Worship” goes in the neutral column. Some things are really nice (talks from the congregation, family-friendly environment, general idea of respect and reverence) and some are infuriating (slow and outdated hymns, equating reverence with absolute silence, fast/testimony meeting, lousy youth ministry/Primary curriculum).
“the average LDS family is very split in terms of righteousness so how will our families really look in the Celestial Kingdom? On this last point, I think I’d rather have a guaranteed spot in the Terrestrial Kingdom with my entire family than a spot in the Celestial Kingdom with 2/3 of my family. Is it just me?”
Yes, it is just you. Each person decides where you wish to go and what sort of mansion you will have (D7C 88 pertains).
You will have no power to force someone to accompany you. Consequently, persons wishing a different mansion will have one. You can get together for block parties and annual family reunions, or not, since no one will force you into anything.
It is difficult to guarantee a spot in advance. I suggest aiming for maximum opportunity; namely Celestial since the promise is you can have anything you want and near as I remember it is also the only degree of glory with a promise. Should it happen you wish to live in the Terrestrial kingdom for any reason or no reason, your only guarantee happens if you are celestial. Come and go as you please! But if you aim lower it probably establishes a limit on how high you can aim in the next life.
It is likely that a celestial person can come visit you, and escort you where ever that person wishes and you are willing, since the promise for the celestial person is he or she can have whatever she wants, and perhaps she wants YOU. But I believe you can still refuse. As you have shown, some people, maybe many, don’t actually want to be forced into the celestial kingdom and will be happy to live in a garage for the next 300 million years next to your eternal lifetime Craftsman tools.
Best: the people
Worst: the devil
The Other Clark: As another anecdotal piece of information about E Packer, a friend of mine was present when he did a visit in the UK that included a Q&A. A more junior apostle was about to eagerly answer a question raised by a local leader when E Packer stopped him with a caution. He said that as apostles, they needed to be very careful not to give instructions because people in the church often took these specific answers and applied them broadly in ways not intended.
Best of Mormonism is possibly expanded cannon of scripture. The Book of Mormon, except for maybe not being historical. is the expansion and widening of the gospel ideas. I love the intertextual dialogue in all the scriptures, enlarges my soul. Joseph’s teachings in the D&C, PofGP, King Follett, etc are at times mystical out of this world stuff!!
On the whole, I love and agree with your list. Some observations:
Lay priesthood is a neutral for me. On the one hand, being able to perform ordinances/sacraments for those I love is marvelous. OTOH the fact that it’s tied to sex and not to vocation is a major downside. If you’re a man, you’re a priest whether you want to be or not. If you’re a woman, you’re not a priest whether you feel called to be or not. Plus there’s the whole keys thing, where priesthood can only be exercised within formal constraints. I performed the wedding for my daughter without using my priesthood. It was a good thing that I did that. It would have been a better thing if I could have done it with my priesthood.
Ward “families” are a big downside for me. I have pretty bad social anxiety and am unsociable by nature anyway, so having an instant family sucking me in when I travel is really painful and difficult. Still, I’d put them in the positive or neutral categories because of their overall importance for others.
I do find one plus to correlation: It keeps Church leaders from going off half-cocked about their own pet theories, or at least slows them down a lot. The kind of free-for-all that you see in the Journal of Discourses was not a good thing. I agree, though, that it is a straitjacket. Orson Scott Card in Saintspeak had some hilarious digs at that when he said, for example, that Deseret Book is the correlated bookstore: A book sold there is “safe” to read.
Eternal families also also have the downside of one’s being locked into a group you may not want anything to do with. My in-laws are wonderful people, but I dread the idea of spending eternity at their annual reunions. I once defined “friends” as the people you *want* to do things with and “family” as the people you *have* to do things with. Neutral for me.
Michael 2: I was speaking hypothetically when I said that I’d prefer to guarantee a spot in the Terrestrial Kingdom with my family than a spot in the Celestial Kingdom with only part of my family. Of course I understand that we can’t secure any such guarantees. And no, I don’t think it’s just me who has asked these questions.
I love the list and would add best are a cohesive community and tribe, the worst associated with that are the boundary markers and policing of the tribe to ensure cohesion. We help people move, bake casseroles and join together to serve. We also judge, gossip, spy and turn each other in for infractions of the rules.
josh h, while I am probably straining at gnats, I wonder if you believe as I believe that your family is not actually yours as in power of possession; a belief that they don’t get to choose their own fates and futures. Who I am, and who you are, in mortality has little to do with who we were in the pre-existence or who we will be, and who we will want to be with, in the post-existence.
I do not know what exactly sealing of parents to children accomplishes but I’m pretty sure it does not supersede anyone’s free agency.
Simple answer to: “The Best & Worst of Mormonism”
Try as I might, I just don’t get why the whole concept of Zion excludes family members who follow their own consciences and revelation. And sometimes in the ugliest possible ways that have lead to suicides and certainly to alienation and despair.
That’s got to be on the worse side of the spectrum. Worst outcomes. Worst human response to “loved” ones. Worst expression of the gospel.
Michael 2: I agree with you about the independence of individuals and that we are not “possessions” of our families. But sometimes the rhetoric of the Church seems to suggest otherwise.
To me, ordinance work for the dead is among the best. I also think you take on Eternal Families is an unnecessary negative distortion.
“This only works if women are something so subhuman that we are different in our very nature to men, which is simply not the case.”
I’m assuming the correlary is that polyandry implies men are something so subhuman that we are different in our very nature to women?
jpv: Nobody’s claiming that Mormons will be practicing polyandry in the eternities or that polyandrous marriages are some sort of ideal. They are an outlier in our early church history. They were never the rule. But sure, if they were set up as some sort of standard that one woman should be married to 2 or more men and the reverse was not true, the simple math dictates that men are worth less than women. Men are sub-equal to women. To my knowledge, there’s never been a polyandrous society. The closest is Wonder Woman’s home island, Themyscira, which is fictional and also doesn’t allow men to live there at all. When they want to procreate, they go to the man’s world to get pregnant and come back. If the child is male, they give it back to the patriarchal world to raise.
Side note: so I just discovered the Wikipedia article on polyandry is rather fascinating (at least the first part; I didn’t read the whole thing) and includes a discussion of some non-LDS polyandrous societies and theories about why they exist. Spoiler: polyandry reduces population growth and increases child welfare and nurturing, and is therefore found in areas of extreme resource scarcity, such as the Himilayas. Who knew? (Being Wikipedia, apply several grains of salt)
Polygyny (one man to multiple women) is, of course, much more common and is usually founded on power imbalances of men over women. (I have no source for this, just my hot take).
A little bit more on topic… I have been trying to figure out how and whether I should discuss this next bit…
I would not put Heavenly Mother in the best category. Now I think it’s equally likely that there is a Heavenly Mother or Father or both, so I don’t want to take away from women their chance to worship or believe in a Heavenly Mother. But usually when we talk about Heavenly Mother it is based on a belief in eternal families and eternal gender. So (1) I don’t see how Heavenly Mother can be a “best” while eternal families are in the “worst” categories; they must necessarily be in the same category. And (2) the concept of Heavenly Mother is tied to the idea of eternal gender, which is being used to shame and hurt transgender people when it could be used to welcome and love them.
So while I want to allow people, especially women, to find comfort and peace in a belief in a Heavenly Mother, I find that belief to be a mixed bag. Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade
One of the things I find most rewarding is the opportunity to help our fellows. 15 years ago I was HP group leader, and our ward included a very poor area. I believed what would help the members most was financial awareness. So I wrote a little booklet on how to become financially secure and how to create wealth. The best way for a wage earner to create wealth here is property investment.
We have some lds cultural things that are not helpfull. There is some cudos to private schooling, if not financially able then home schooling, even though we have good public system. Also some church leader in the US said you should have health insurance, but we have universal health care.
I have this weekend had a visit from a member who was from the poorer area. He is in his 40s, has bought a house every place he has lived, including a unit in Hong Kong, and has the mortgage paid off on the house they live in and feel financially secure. He and wifes self esteem are great.
Of the 20 or so members of the group he is the 7th that has contacted to say thanks.
The church programme came after mine and is about income not wealth, as far as I can tell. It is vague because it is universal.
alice writes “Try as I might, I just don’t get why the whole concept of Zion excludes family members who follow their own consciences and revelation.”
Zion is a place. Not everyone wishes to live there and it takes some effort to find it.
Consider Bicknell, Utah. You are presumably free to go live there if you wish, but it is likely you are among the 7 billion humans that have chosen not to live there. They are not excluded from living there, they haven’t even consciously chosen to not live there. They don’t know it exists and of those that know of its existence, choose instead to live along the Wasatch Front for various reasons.
Those who wish to live in Zion will do so. But it appears that rather than go to Zion, they prefer to bring Zion to themselves.
I was going to say something snarky about not wanting to live in Bicknell, but it appears they have a curry pizza joint and to me that sounds like the Celestial Kingdom. Guess I’ll keep my second estate after all.