OK, I’m on the late train here. I’m just now watching the SyFy tv series called “The Expanse” (on Amazon Prime). It is set 300 years in the future where humanity has colonized the solar system. It is like a very dark (literally and fugitively ) Star Wars movie only without the alien creatures. The only reason I started watching it was because I read how Jeff Bezos enjoyed the first three seasons on the SyFi channel (2015-18), and was disappointed when it was not renewed, so he funded the next two season for Amazon Prime. How would it feel to be so rich that if your favorite TV show is canceled, you can make a phone call it it is then renewed on your own channel?
I had heard nothing about the show, so it hit me as quite a surprise when a Mormon missionary is doing street approaches 300 years from now, wearing a white shirt with name tag. While somethings never change, he was without a companion!
Then in episode 4 of season 1, there is a spaceship named LDSS Nauvoo, which the Mormon’s are building for a 100 year voyage to another solar system. It even had an Angle Moroni statue. They never said where it was going exactly, but we Mormons know it was going to Kolob! There is a good recap written when the show came out 5 years ago on the Mormon Blog Times and Seasons which you can read here.
What I found most interesting was how the authors of the TV show picked the Mormon church as the builders of the intergalactic spacecraft. I found an old SLTrib article from 2017 where the authors of the TV show explain why they chose the Mormons for the spacecraft builders. They were looking for who would build a “huge, ambitious, expensive, difficult, dangerous project”. They passed on a government doing it, because “it doesn’t get you any votes,” and they couldn’t picture a corporation doing it, because there’s no money in it.
Then the authors thought maybe a religious group could do it. The Mormon’s came to thought because of their trek West in the migration to Salt Lake. But what sealed the deal was the building of the City Creek Mall! From the SLTrib article
And Franck came upon news about the construction of City Creek — including that the complex in the heart of Salt Lake City had a $2 billion price tag.
“I was, like, ‘Here’s a group that will drop a couple billion dollars to just have more shopping for people who come to visit the temple,’ ” Franck said. “And I thought, ‘Well, if you’re building a trillion-dollar spaceship 300 years in the future, who’s going to have the money and the institutional will to do that? It’s the Mormons.’ “
Now this all happened 5 years ago, when the public was not aware of the church’s $130 Billion dollars just laying around. With hindsight it appears quite funny that two non-Mormon authors predicted the Church would have one trillion dollars to spend on a spacecraft! Using the rule of 72 , I calculated the church could earn just 3% a year on it’s $130 billion, and in 300 years it would have over 500 hundred trillion dollars (500,000,000,000,000). Counting for inflation, and the church needing to dip into its “raining day fund”, they might only have 100 trillion in 300 years. So it could spend less than 1% of its savings to build the LDSS Nauvoo!
While this post is written mostly tongue in cheek, the takeaway I see is that the Mormon Church is not going away anytime soon. Even if most members stop paying tithing, and membership stagnated at 16 million for the next 300 years, there will still be lots of money to keep the Mormon Church going.
 one of my pet peeves is the current trend in TV programs to make everything dark. Hospital shows have dark operating rooms with only a light on the patent, while in real life operating rooms are a blaze of light. Offices are dark (see the Black List). The Expanse follows this trend.
Yes, that Hundred Billion Dollar Fund has spurred a lot of thinking. I imagine there are some in the COB who dream of a fund so large they don’t have to worry about financial contributions from members anymore. A church so well funded they can dispense with members. Sort of like Scientology, except bigger.
What if they got to Kolob and no one was there?
I tried reading The Expanse, but found the language and innuendo too distracting. I’m told it approaches engineering aspects of the story with much more practicality than most sci-fi, which is what originally attracted me to it.
I did read Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein, and saw the movie on TV. The differences and differences and choices of what to and what not to emphasize were quite prominent. One addition to the movie was a planet colonized entirely by LDS getting totally decimated by the enemy.
I don’t think it’s been updated for some time, but there was a whole website dedicated to Mormons being mentioned in Science Fiction books and movies, categorizing the portrayals into “positive,” “neutral,” or “negative.” Some are quite hilarious.
I’ve always felt that for the super believing Latter-day Saint, one is forced to suspend a few more beliefs than perhaps someone who is more secular would, most often that the Savior never returned (or is highly delayed), that religion has become obsolete, or that aliens are much less in the same image we are. I’m able to compartmentalize those beliefs and still enjoy science fiction immensely. I know many other LDS who cannot. There are just a handful of science fiction novels out there catered to LDS audiences that have somewhat clever ways of working around these things, or have flipped the narrative.
I too have noticed the “darker” trend, both literally and figuratively. One of the most obvious ones was when TNG crew of Star Trek transitioned to the big screen. It looked like the bridge of the Enterprise had blown a half dozen bulbs.
As far as LDS power goes, I really think some aspects of it will only grow, with money being just one aspect. Others will likely diminish. I think we’re all gonna be surprised in many ways, no matter how literally or figuratively we take doctrine and policy, or what our political leanings are.
Those who criticize the Church for having a healthy savings account must ask themselves this: Would they be happier with the televangelists who use donated funds for sports cars and prostitutes?
We should be glad that the Church leaders are honest and prudent with donated funds. We never have to worry that the money will be siphoned away and wasted as in so many governmental and business organizations.
Could it be that those who attack the Church for having money do so out of jealousy? Because they are not able to control their spending and save money themselves, they attack the Church for having an unparalleled ability to do so.
When I was in the MTC ten years ago I coped with the boredom in part by drawing my idea of a realistic engineering-based starship for a voyage to Alpha Centauri, since I used to write silly sci-fi stories while in school. Since I was at the MTC, I topped off the starship with a temple and an Angel Moroni. It was actually pretty fun to try and imagine how a temple design could be adapted to a zero-g space station-like environment. I hadn’t heard of The Expanse at the time, and I still haven’t watched it … But I can assure you my LDS temple in spaaace didn’t get confiscated by the state and used as a battleship against alien slime invaders 🙂
Pontius Pythion said “But I can assure you my LDS temple in spaaace didn’t get confiscated by the state and used as a battleship against alien slime invaders”
Wait, What? The LDSS Nauhoo gets confiscated? SPOILER ALERT! 🙂
If the Church ever built a spacecraft, how would they choose who gets to join the crew and who has to remain on earth? Most of the members of my ward are people I can tolerate once a week, but are the last people I would choose to go on an extended space journey with.
JCS: Hundreds of thousands of millions (can anybody even get their head around such a number?) of dollars is certainly taking the idea of a prudent savings account to an unprecedented level.
I’ve come to believe that inaction with the “Lord’s money” is just as sinful as misuse, especially with the last year we’ve all been through and the enormous needs in every corner of the world. Especially egregious is the pressure put on members to earn a temple recommend by paying your tithing NO MATTER WHAT and have those drops of money fall into the ocean of our prudent savings account. It’s comforting to know that while some are begging their bishop (with unsure success) for rent money or food money, an investment house somewhere is earning their bonuses and buying sports cars and hiring prostitutes with so many widows’ mites.
Also, not to be a jerk or anything, but I find many of your comments abhorrent and pray your loved ones know a kinder version of you than the hateful and bitter man you are online.
Foxinhikingshorts: What is abhorrent or hateful about JCS saying that a church should be prudent and save money? Although I personally believe that the church should be spending far more of that money than it is, I don’t see the comment as hateful.
This was a great post. I would love to be part of the group that travels to the stars.
How does space travel jibe with the teaching that there must be a temple in Jackson County before the second coming?
Well, going to space would be a way to engage the youth. Obviously, we are no where close to this. What will keep the youth engaged so there will be any church members to be sent to space in a couple of centuries?
You right that the church isn’t going away anytime soon. It can easily sustain itself for decades to come.
JCS mentioned televangelists. In fact I was just thinking about this the other day. The televangelist Jesse Duplantis, who asked donors for money for a private $54 million jet to more easily preach his sermons, came to mind. As far as I can tell Duplantis, like other televangelists, asked a group of listeners whom he mostly does not personally know to give him mail-in and online donations, claiming that God will bless them if they do. Did he meet with these listeners and donors face-to-face in private individually every year and ask them if they consider themselves to be full donors? No. Did he subject these listeners to a high pressure personal interview about their own worthiness in which he again asks them if they are full donors and grant them a special privilege card that allowed them to see kids’ weddings? No. Did he disclose that he would be spending the money on a private jet? Yes. The televangelists, like Duplantis, are not people I would choose to give money to. But all many of them seem to do is ask for money via radio, TV, or podcast, because they preach the “word of God,” as nebulous as that sounds, and the listeners do just that. There is less pressure on the Duplantis listeners to give money than your average Mormon in the Mormon belt. I’ve read over a dozen headline press stories in the past few years about how bad the televangelists are, because they teach that God controls health and wealth and by giving them money God will bless them with health and wealth. And I have never seen any comparable headline about the LDS church. Yet, I honestly don’t see how the message of the LDS church is that much different. Different in tone, style, and approach, yes. But teachings on tithing seem to posit the same ideas. You give and God will bless. You want health, protection, financial security? You pay a full tithing. Are you poor, need a job, lost your job? You pay a full tithing to win God’s good graces so that God will bless you. But Duplantis isn’t keeping tabs on individuals. The LDS church is. The likelihood of social consequences being imposed if I stop paying to Duplantis is much, much less than if I stop paying the LDS church. I can see my kids’ weddings if I stop paying Duplantis. I can continue to work for Christian-church-owned organizations. I can continue to attend Christian-church-owned schools. I can appear as a fully active and believing Christian to friends and family.
Good books. Good show.