Come, let us haggle together

Okay, imagine this scenario: the lesson is on the word of wisdom, and the teacher begins by reading the pertinent scriptures, then taking comments from the gallery. “I have a strong testimony of the Word of Wisdom,” says one member, “but a beer or two in the evening really helps me unwind.” A sister chimes in: “And red wine is actually good for your heart; I don’t see the harm in having a glass with dinner.” A general consensus emerges among the class that there are numerous circumstances in which it is okay–laudable, in fact–to break the Word of Wisdom. Curiously, the entire class seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that they have more or less rejected outright the entire point of the lesson.

Of course, this would be inconceivable in any ward I’ve ever lived in. But a few members of our current ward, bless their hearts, seems prone to this sort of thing, though not regarding anything so clearly yes-I-do/no-I-don’t as the Word of Wisdom. Rather, this tendency emerges any time the subjects of service and charity come up. My wife came out of Relief Society absolutely fuming today, after a lesson on service surreptitiously became a lesson on self-service. The teacher started with the question “Why do we serve others?” Many answers that followed betrayed a kind of “market” approach to the gospel, one that boiled down every action to a transaction. The members who offered these ideas did not seem to notice how centered on self their answers were (because they didn’t have me conveniently adding italics in the pertinent places): We serve because we get blessings, we serve because it helps us grow, etc. Finally, my deep-thinking but normally soft-spoken wife piped up and pointed out the obvious but overlooked: “I think God asks us serve because there are lots of his other children that he loves just as much as he loves us, and they need our help, and he wants them to get it.” Nonetheless, as the class progressed, the comments continually seemed to emphasize the many things that legitimately limit the time and effort we spend helping others: family, work, keeping ones life “in order,” etc., and hardly touched upon the merits of extending our service beyond the realm of the convenient. The same thing happened not long ago in a class I was in, when a discussion of King Benjamin’s admonitions to give to the poor circumscribed a trajectory exactly opposite of that stated in the scriptural passages supposedly under consideration: the general consensus of the class, it seemed, was that one takes care of one’s own, that charity takes a low position in one’s budget, and that alms-giving encourages sloth.

This is particularly bothersome considering the fact that, regardless of the sharp downward pull my family’s meager income exerts on the curve, our ward is, by and large, extremely well-off. Nonetheless, when the First Presidency extended a challenge to our stake a few years ago to raise funds for a special project, our ward came up shamefully short of its share, and many members even complained publicly to the Stake President (whose reputation as a bleeding heart liberal democrat perhaps lent the whole affair a “tax and spend” aura in their minds) for his audacity in asking them to donate. Sisters organizing a humanitarian service project, in which members were asked to purchase items for newborn kits for around $6, met similar resistance from some members.

I can’t help but draw a connection between this mentality and dominant political attitudes. It’s like the old joke (which I mentioned in a comment to something somewhere on another blog, so apologies for the repeat): When a democrat sees a half -glass of water, s/he says “That glass is half full.” When a republican sees a half-glass of water, s/he says “Who the hell drank half my water?!” Some members ask me outright, as they might well ask you, how one can be LDS and be in the same political party as “the abortionists” and “the gays,” etc. I have a much harder time reconciling the theme of selflessness that permeates the scriptures (ancient and modern) with the general sense of entitlement that characterizes the republican mentality.

Is it fair for me to extend this observation beyond matters of monetary resources? It seems to me that it is this same what’s-in-it-for-me mentality that pervades spiritual discussions as well: good deeds are legal tender for blessings; people in need are a kind of divine commodity, an opportunity for furthering one’s own progress; obedience means a contractual obligation on the part of Deity to return the favor. The concept of giving without the thought of something in return seems to go neglected by many members. God’s own recursive formula for joy, in which his happiness depends on ours, and ours depends on passing it along, gets short shrift.

(I should mention that, thankfully, the cases above are counterbalanced by a number of ward members who give of their time and resources to a fault. There are certain members–and I wish I could say that I’m one of them–who show up at every move, take dinner after every baby born, volunteer first to step in someone’s absence, send a load of newborn kits or school kits to Humanitarian Services every month, and generally give til it hurts. Service disrupts their lives, to the point that it is enmeshed with it–which, I suspect, is probably the point at which it registers with the heavens.)

Comments

  1. “As for people believing that mormonism is republican: I definitely know people that think along those lines. It’s rare to find people that say so explicitly…”

    Not all that rare. I’ve encountered it numerous times in every ward I ever lived in–in the sourthern Utah ward where I grew up, a number of wards in northern Utah while I was in school, and now in the East. And whether people confront you about it or not, and whether they are tactful about politcal subjects or not, I think it’s safe to say that in every ward I’ve ever lived in, one’s political orientation is assumed to be Republican until occasion prompts one to indicate otherwise. I’ve heard members bash democrats, individually and collectively, over the pulpit and in lessons, I’ve heard political liberalism in general used as a synonym for pre-apocalyptical, I’ve heard no lesser an authority than Rush Limbaugh invoked during a debate in PEC meeting. I don’t say this to feed a victimhood complex or anything, but rather to contest Michelle’s suggestion that all members keep themselves keenly aware of the line between their political opinions and their religious convictions. This has not been my experience, nor that of any of the dems in my family or immediate acquaintance.

  2. >>>Love all the comments about “the rich” as though it were somebody other than ourselves.

    Dude, I AM talking about people other than myself…

  3. Aaron — you’re right about levels of charity not being strictly (or maybe even loosely) linked to political leanings.

    On the other hand, a little scrapping along partisan political lines can make for some great comments, as Michelle showed us earlier. Divisiveness may eventually chase away the spirit, but in small amounts it’s kind of fun!

  4. Aaron has no memory of using fancy latin words like “quid,” “pro” or “quo,” nor otherwise articulating the meaning behind those words. Aaron thinks Michelle may be who Steve E. had in mind.

    Aaron B

  5. Aaron is right. Steve misquoted, and said ‘Aaron’ where he should have said ‘Jeremy’. Steve also agrees that Michelle’s the one who started with the Latin.

    Steve is just happy to see that Aaron’s paying attention.

  6. Again Michelle, thanks for the correction. I checked again and it’s absolutely true that Moroni was only inveighing against “those giving to the poor only for public praise.”

    Of course he doesn’t actually say that in Moroni Chapter 7 where he’s concerned about last words before his whole culture is destroyed. But still that must be what he meant, I guess. He couldn’t possiblying be using this opportunity to make a general point about bad intent profiting NOTHING, could he? And even if he was, you are right it’s pretty risky likening the scriptures to actual modern situations. I mean, come on. Every historian knows the risks of that.

  7. All it takes for Satan to win a blog poll is for good people to do nothing.
    THAT CRACKS ME UP
    For the clique in Manhattan…
    we visited a/the Manhattan ward last May for testimony meeting. The dude conducting threatened the visitors THIS IS OUR MEETING SO DON’T TRY GETTING UP

  8. Ann, I don’t think your position’s necessarily exclusive to Jeremy’s — Jeremy’s just saying that quid pro quo giving is a good start for people that don’t give at all. It’s not a replacement for selfless giving, just a way to get into the giving habit.

    Edited By Siteowner

  9. As I recall, “quid pro quo” is a Hannibal Lecter-ism. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, never mind. For those who do, shame on you for watching R-rated movies!

    Aaron B

  10. Brayden, I remember that talk — I thought it was amazing. He’s got my vote for most under-rated G.A.

    I think Jeremy’s right to point out the contractual mentality that pervades much of our doctrine. The tit-for-tat idea is clearly in the scriptures: all blessings are predicated on obedience, etc. It overwhelms sometimes. So then is there a tension in the Gospel, between the ideas of ‘blessings for obedience’ and ‘give without quid pro quo’? Is this the same tension as between New and Old Testaments?

  11. Brayden, it seems that way — so many people on this blog are from the East. Here are the people I know from the stake here in NY: Kaimi, Mathew Parke, Michelle, Greg Call (formerly), Wendy, and Steve C. Not a bad little network!

    You can tell from our respective niches in the bloggernacle, however, that we all think pretty differently from each other, despite our similar demographics. Where are you at, B?

  12. Hmmm…hopefully everyone can get past the grammatical errors in that last post and still understand what I was trying to say.

  13. I came across this site just now when I entered the words, “Why do we serve others” into a Google search. I’ve thorougly enjoyed reading all of your comments.

    I live in LA with my husband and 3 kids. We moved here from NYC, so I feel I have to throw in my 2 cents. :)

    First of all, if you want to experience the NYC that most people do not know about, visit the Inwood 1st ward. Up in Inwood and Washington Heights is where the REAL people are. I’ve never seen so much service as I saw when I lived in that ward. There is NO ONE rich in that ward, and they love eachother like brothers and sisters. Really.

    I learned about service in that ward. I learned that when you see your ward members as your family, you help for the right reasons. If your mom calls you, and her basement is flooded or something, you RUN to help her. Why? Because of love. She is you, in a way. You help her because you are connected to her in such a strong way that you have no other choice.

    This is the way that Jesus taught us to love. We’re here to become like him. We can’t serve for the right reasons unless we have love in our hearts for our brothers and sisters…and I’m not just talking about within the church. Jesus loved the sinners too.

    I also wanted to say that there are liberal saints all over the country. They are found more commonly in cities. That’s what I have found anyway. I have many liberal LDS friends.

    That’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you all for being so thoughtful.

  14. I did a little Googling and could only find one well-documented study involving charitable giving with political affiliation defined. The study took place in Kent county, Michigan. In 2000, the population of the county was 574,335. In 1997,the area median income was $44,512:

    - Giving rates varied by political affiliation, with 76% of Republicans, 73% of Independents, and 67% of Democrats making charitable contributions

    - Volunteering rates varied by political affiliation,with volunteering by 55% of Republicans, 47% of Independents, and 43% of Democrats.

    The study also showed that, as a percentage of total income, charitable giving declined slightly as income rose until the $200,000 and above catagory where the giving rose significantly.

  15. I didn’t intend for my post to be reducible to “Repuiblicans are stingy, and stingy people make lousy Mormons.” In fact, I imagine that most of the people I describe at the end of my post–the ones that are generous to a fault–consider themselves conservative republicans.

    What I meant to point up, however, is that, because most Mormons are Republicans, SOME church members uncritically equate republicanism with gospel doctrine, and presuppose that if they’re living the one they’re automatically living the other. These are the members that irk me–the ones who apply the principles of fiscal conservatism in the public policy sphere to decisions made in the personal spiritual sphere. And I presented a few specific cases in which specific Republicans in my particular ward were, in fact, being stingy. Not because they were stretched too thin, but because, as they made apparent in their public complaints to the Stake Presidency: they equated ecclesiastical calls for donations (of the kind that have been issued since the beginning of the church) with the kind of governmentally-prescribed welfare that Republicans, by and large, frown upon; and because they frankly and admittedly didn’t see what was in it for them.

    While I do think that some welfare philosophies espoused by democrats can be damaging (I served my mission in an area haunted by a legacy of sprawling subsidized housing complexes), I think King Benjamin clearly warns us against misapplying this concern as an excuse to limit one’s giving. And this is exactly what some members do, if they fail to discern the difference between political philosophy and personal religious conviction. Further, it’s my personal opinion that Mormon democrats are somewhat more apt to make the distinction between party platform and personal doctrine, because the constant queries from fellow church members (“You’re a democrat? And a Mormon? How?”) force us to confront the issue and think more critically about what does and does not transfer from the party to the pulpit.

    So again, I hardly mean to paint all Republican members with the same brush; I simply mean to point out the potential damage done when members presuppose the comprehensive alignment of a certain political stance with the gospel, and to suggest that this presupposition occurs more frequently among Republican members because they are in the clear majority, and the majority is naturally less prone to self-reflection or self-critique.

    I accept your suggestion that “quid pro quo” obedience is a stepping stone toward learning truly selfless giving, but that only carries us so far. In the situations I mentioned, these weren’t gospel greenies, but seasoned veterans, that were nonetheless still fixated on “gospel transactions,” and their attitude dominated the discussion almost to the exclusion of other viewpoints. Aside from a few rare comments by a couple of members, the discussion never transcended the transactional nor explored

  16. I’m in the same state, but not the same stake. I visit on occasion (just for sacrament, though; I hit the Tower Superstore during sunday school:) )

    BTW, my longish comment above was a response to Michelle’s, if that wasn’t clear, but I failed to address her by name and I took so long to write it that several other comments intervened.

  17. Is everyone in the bloggernacle but me members of the same stake?

  18. Is there an html tag for dripping sarcasm?

  19. It was Michelle who first mentioned “quid pro quo” giving as a stepping stone to truly selfless giving, though she may not have started the Latin going. And I’m sure -I- didn’t start the Latin, becuase even now I’m only pretending to know what “quid pro quo” actually means.

  20. Jeremy wrote, citing somebody up above:

    “I accept your suggestion that ‘quid pro quo’ obedience is a stepping stone toward learning truly selfless giving, but that only carries us so far. “

    I absolutely disagree. I think that quid pro quo obedience takes us away from selfless giving, by maintaining a focus on “what we get” instead of opening our hearts. I think the only way to move toward truly selfless giving is to take the self out of the equation entirely, where we are practicing simple living, frugality, and physical service to others, and then sharing of our means comes after that. We have to start first denying ourselves before we can become selfless. I’m going to start doing this as soon as I get a new car and the mortgage on my 1900SF house paid off. :\

    By the way, I’m in Louisiana, nigh unto (but not in) New Orleans.

  21. Jeremy, didn’t read all the comments but loved your post. Unfortunately, there is very much a sense of entitlement to the pleasures and good things in life, if conversations around the blogernacle are any indication. You hit the nail on the head. Mother Teresa said, “I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving, but do not give your leftovers. Give until it hurts, until you feel the pain.” When we actually are “inconvenienced” by our service, that is when we really start serving.

    Another thing we are notorious for is criticizing circumstance. It’s understandable. However, that is why we are admonished to overcome those feelings and be charitable. There is an old German proverb that says, “Charity sees the need, not the cause.”

  22. Jeremy, you post and subsequent comment remind me of something my mother in law said the other day. Remember, we are Canadians. She said to my wife and I, “You guys are Democrats. We are Republicans.”

    The point is more than half of the Church is neither democrat nor Republican. ;-)

    Brayden, not only are some of not in the same stake, some of us aren’t even in the same country.

  23. Jeremy: Love your post.

    Rich people are notoriously stingy and cheap. We lived in a fabulously well to do ward of Mormon millionaires..had my first baby there…not one meal brought in by the ward.
    I had baby number two in a very poor ward in El Paso…we were overwhelmed with food and gifts. We didn’t NEED anything from either ward, but it was an interesting difference.

    And the emphasis on scriptures is very different in a rich ward compared to a poor ward. The rich wards have convinced themselves they are wealthy because the Lord has blessed them for their righteousness. The poor wards emphsize the King Benjamin sermons.

    I think the republicans embrace selfishness and we’re seeing it in our wards. Why am I a democrat? READ MOSIAH!

  24. Joe J. Christensen gave a memorable conference talk a few years ago about greed. He suggested four ways that members of the Church should avoid greed. The final one was that we should give generously of our means. Nowhere in that section of his sermon does he mention that we will be blessed for giving generously. It is simply required of us.

    He also quotes this great statement by C.S. Lewis:

    “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. Â… If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, Â… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

    I took that to heart and have tried to remember that when I’m asked to do service that I’m not altogether excited about. It wouldn’t be charity if it weren’t slightly uncomfortable for me. Also, if the Lord recompensed us equally for every bit of service or generous deed that we perform, then our acts couldn’t clearly be considered charity.

  25. Just some food for thought. Rich people don’t become rich by giving away their money. ;-)

  26. Grasshopper says:

    Love all the comments about “the rich” as though it were somebody other than ourselves.

  27. Lyle, FYI, I’m not going to let anyone include URLs in their posts for self-promoting or political purposes. This is regardless of political affiliation.

  28. Lynne, I’ve never heard that from the pulpit in my ward (there are many Manhattan wards), but I wish I had. The trouble is that because we are in NY we are often overwhelmed by visitors. Further, people seem for some reason to be in the mood to share when in front of people they’ll never see again.

    Finally, the visitor testimonies tend to be for some reason, incredibly sappy, facile, and cliche. For example, we always hear the weepy “It’s so wonderful to see that the church is the same everywhere. ” By that the must mean the decorating is the same, because they haven’t been listening to the things that are said.

    That said, given your comments on BCC, your testimony would certainly be welcome in my book. It’s unfortunate that you got shoved out for statistical reasons.

  29. Lynne- great post.
    Hugh Nibley wrote a 4 part series on the atonement a while back for the Ensign, it was in the 90’s, and can be accessed at lds.org, but the thrust of the message was that the atonement will be void for those who reject the poor (2 Neph 9:30- a verse by the way that was skipped in our gospel doctrine class this year) Anyway, it makes for good reading, and I recommend the article. I am sure that when the day of judgment comes, it will be like the South Park episode where all the people are asking what the correct church was, and instead of “Mormons” it will be “liberal Mormons” as the correct answer.
    And just what does “prosper” mean? X number of dollars or cars, or is it a nebulous “sufficient for our needs” amount.

  30. Michelle — good to see you!

    I hope that you don’t get too wound up in the republican/democrat labels that Jeremy uses in his post. I think you’re absolutely right to point out that entitlement is a characteristic that Democrats often share. As a largely apolitical person (personal jabs aside), I’ve observed the behavior Jeremy describes on both sides of the political fence.

    But don’t be so quick to glibly throw out what Jeremy is saying, either — we’re not ‘balking at the process’ so much as wondering what we can do as individuals to help move it along, or to try and observe what keeps us stuck in a quid pro quo mentality in the Gospel. Isn’t that worth discussing, rather than writing it off as a simple idea?

  31. Michelle,

    I don’t think anyone literally equates Mormonism and Republicanism as one and the same. The point is, as Steve said, that “it’s not such a rarity for people to act as though Republicanism is the only political option for believing LDS.” That’s a more defensible claim, and in my opinion, one that is undeniable.

    Why is this? For some, I think it’s because of the mistaken belief that certain social issues (associated with the Republican party) are of paramount importance, and so to not regard them as such and determine one’s vote accordingly is to manifest one’s disbelief in or lack of committment to “Mormonism.” For others, it’s because they imbibed a bit too much Ezra Taft Benson over the years. For yet others, I think it’s because (as Jeremy discussed above) when you live in a religious culture and the majority of your co-religionists share a certain political philosophy, it’s easy to go through life without critically examing the differences between the two. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just hang out at BYU for a few years like I did.

    Aaron B

  32. Michelle,

    you’re absolutely right about the cross-posting, but I haven’t done that in awhile though, I think. In any event, Kaimi and others were quick to put a stop to it.

    So somehow you’re afraid of hurting Steve C., but MY feelings are open season? Good thing I am so resilient.

  33. Steve Cannon says:

    Michelle,

    You’re so right. It was sad when God balked at Cain’s process and rejected his sacrifice. Same with Moroni who said “except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.”

    Balkers.

  34. Michelle:

    They might be referring to me; as I run the [edited] website.

    However, maybe not…as I encourage analysis and the only thing I dislike more than a Lefty-liberal who spouts propaganda is a conservative or libertarian who does the same.

    Also…I don’t think it would be the end of the world if Sen. Kerry won; just as I think Al Gore’s plan to kill the national debt was fabulous. Of course, as the T&S crowd likes to point out…I’m not normal.

  35. Oh sure, no one wants to take the heat for starting the Latin… all I can say is that Jeremy started the thread, and res ipsa loquitor.

  36. Oops. My post above was written without reading Jeremy’s subsequent post. If I had bothered to read it first, mine might have read differently.

    Aaron B

  37. Point well taken, Kim. Thanks for the reminder!

  38. Some thoughts:

    I absolutely agree with Jeremy (and Steve) that the common LDS tendency to view acts of “service” or “charity” through the lens of “What’s in it for me?” is a huge problem. I have always found it hard to be motivated to do good by promises of eternal (or temporal) blessings, and I am somewhat put off by the incessant focus we put on these motivations. Ideally, Christianity should mandate our helping our fellow men without the need to promise us bonus points on our “Personal Righteousness meters,” and their accompanying prizes.

    Having said that, I think Michelle is right to point out that the facile association of Republicans with a sense of “entitlement” is problematic. But maybe we’re all speaking past each other here. I assume Jeremy would agree with something like this:

    “People who complain about welfare state liberalism and government redistribution of wealth to the poor, are often the very people who are stingiest when it comes to charitable giving. Conservatives often claim that what they’re AGAINST is government coercion of “charity,” while they’re very much FOR voluntary charity. Yet, if conservatives are not giving to charity in significant amounts, this belies their claims to be against government coercion, per se, and really suggests they’re misers motivated in large part by insatiable greed, indifferent to the plight of the poor. Thus, Republicans have an un-Christian sense of religious “entitlement” to their money, when what they should be doing is using it to bless their fellow men.”

    This is a serious charge, but is it true? I honestly donÂ’t know. I suspect it may be. ThereÂ’s got to be a study out there that tracks Republican vs. Democratic giving. Can anyone enlighten me here? A crucial, related question is whether wealth correlates with stinginess, relatively speaking. (This would be a different question.) From what IÂ’ve heard, it apparently does.

    I do want to say, however, that I think while this is often a problem with having “wealth,” it isn’t necessarily a problem of conservative Republican philosophy. There is no logical connection between (1) wanting less governmental intrusion into wealth distribution and (2) indifference to the plight of the poor. I could say more on this, but for the best example of very conservative Republicanism combined with an almost militant sense of personal charitable obligation, go visit some of Matt Evans’ old posts at T&S.

    Aaron B

  39. Steve C.,

    Nice sarcasm. I have a hard time, though, with your comparison of people honestly serving God so that they can live with Him again, which is taught to them over and over and over again, and Cain. And Moroni’s directive was aimed at those giving to the poor only for public praise, not to those giving to the poor because they feel good when they do something nice for others.

    Jeremy, Steve E., etc.,

    On politics: I still just don’t agree with the whole premise of this site — that Mormons who are democrats are believed to be somehow outside of Mormonism. I therefore don’t agree with the statement:
    “What I meant to point up, however, is that, because most Mormons are Republicans, SOME church members uncritically equate republicanism with gospel doctrine, and presuppose that if they’re living the one they’re automatically living the other.”

    Who actually does this? I don’t know anyone that thinks his/her republicanism is mormonism. In fact, we as mormons hope to a different kind of government some day, and we submit ourselves to a non-republican church government now. I know I certainly don’t get a vote in most decisions.

    As to spending: It is unfortunate that those “rich” members in your ward acted as they did. I wonder if some of them were democrats — are there no rich democrats (perhaps because they’ve given all their money away?)? Someone asked about statistics for giving. Utah, whose majority of citizens are Republican, is clearly the highest-contributing state. state chart. Will you argue that such contributions are mandatory and therefore don’t count?

    As to spiritual matters: We all agree, service should be done not for reward but out of love. And not because we lose ourselves, but because we find ourselves.

  40. Steve Cannon: I wasn’t tempted to get up, I hate speaking. Some visitors ignored the request and got up anyway. I know what you mean, I thought the NYC testimonies were very unusual. I don’t know if they were really lacking humility or I’m just jealous but I thought they were a little too insightful and articulate… they are also different because of their international experiences and anecdotes. One fascinating and sincere guy was from Africa and hadn’t seen his family in a year. Then we bumped into LaVell Edwards! I love NYC! LynneAKAJeff

  41. Steve E.,

    If Lyle can’t link, then we’d all appreciate you limit your own free advertising over at T&S and stop linking to this site. :)

    Steve C.,

    I guess I have to apologize to you for really pissing you off. You don’t seem able to discuss things without venomous sarcasm. I hope we can still be friends.

    Aaron and Jeremy,

    I must admit that it is not rare to find members that assume everyone is Republican and expect as much. I guess I just take exception to the assumption that every (Republican) member does that. Aaron, your reasons for members identifying themselves with the Republican party are well-thought-out, and it is an interesting question. I’d say it has largely to do with tradition, geography, abortion, and the idea of small government. I say the idea because the party today — both parties — are not what they once were, do not have definite positions, and leave much to be desired. Our solution as members of a church community should be to not assume any political affiliation, not to judge based on political affiliation, and realize that political affiliation does not define any member, and can not reach our ultimate goals and ideals.

    That being said, I’ll join your quest in being annoyed at those who assume, and judge, political affiliations. It’s silly, especially in light of the fact that such affiliations define nothing.

    Spiritually, Republicans and Democrats should both strive to be better people.

  42. Steve, that is a fab policy…except when the discussion centers around such. I guess I’m not evil enuff for a link on this site? i’ll try harder ;)

  43. Tucson, Arizona, although originally I’m from Idaho.

    It’s pretty amazing that most of the Mormon bloggers (well, at least the liberal ones anyway) that I’m aware of tend to live east of the Mississippi. Given the large concentration of Mormons in the west, it’s probably safe to say that there is a Mormon correlation between living on the East Coast and the likelihood of blogging. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not interested in the blogs of west coast Mormons.

  44. We are more techno-savvy out east, apparently. Silicon Valley, my eye!

    But you’re right — there are more Easterners, and I can’t think of a good reason why. Do mormon intellectual demographics run along similar geographical lines? I wonder…

    Kudos on living in Tucson. Good mexican food, good golf.

  45. Well, it’s no secret that the geographical prosperity of some Church members causes tremendous strain. It’s always been that way (witness the 4th Nephi stratification of the church along wealth lines). Plenty of members view the church as just another social exchange of goods and services.

    The thing that gives me hope (like you, I think, Jeremy), is that there is that precious little minority in the Church that really does care, that really does give it their all and are amazing examples to the rest of us. For all the selfishness and pettiness that we show as members, I continue to have faith in the Church because there are good people out there.

  46. Well… I see your point, Lyle. I didn’t mean to single your post out. Just so far, you’re the only one who’s done it :).

    Sounds like you are becoming omnipresent in the bloggernacle.

  47. Whoa, Michelle! Where do you get that “the whole premise of this site” is “that Mormons who are democrats are believed to be somehow outside of Mormonism”? I didn’t see that listed anywhere! Perhaps you meant it as the whole premise of this thread. Even so, I disagree that it’s a premise of the thread. Threads are, as the saying goes, what you make of them.

    As for people believing that mormonism is republican: I definitely know people that think along those lines. It’s rare to find people that say so explicitly (though yep, I’ve heard it), but it’s not such a rarity for people to act as though republicanism is the only political option for believing LDS.

    Finally, about that state statistic: it’s tremendous that Utah, a largely republican state, leads the nation in charitable donations. Just imagine how far that lead would be extended were they democrats! :)

    p.s. again, for the record, I’m not a Democrat. And I didn’t bid on anything at the youth auction, it was too rich for my blood.

    p.p.s. Michelle, I hope you voted in our little poll. All it takes for Satan to win a blog poll is for good people to do nothing.

  48. Wow, I haven’t been over here in awhile and now I know why. Jeremy, your quick conclusion that a general sense of entitlement characterizes the republican mentality is a little too quick. Couldn’t someone just as easily say that the entitlement mentality has always been a democratic characteristic? Are you guys just throwing around words here and pretending that they’re true? And then the first comment that republicans embrace selfishness. Do you guys really think these simple generalizations do anything for good commentary or analysis?

    My stake (which could be called a “rich” stake) just held an auction for youth summer activities. We raised $10,000. I wouldn’t want to say that I didn’t see any of the authors of this blog there, because that would be judging their contributions by one or two external activities, when I have no idea what they do with their time and money. But I didn’t. And yet, I trust that they give as much as they can, and, appropriately, more. I trust this not because they’re liberal, or democrats, or rich lawyers, I trust this because I know them, and I know that they love their God.

    In spiritual matters, yes, many of us obey God’s word because we know we will be blessed. And as we do this, we learn how to, and why we should, really obey God’s word. It’s a process people. Giving and serving out of true love, try charity, for God and man, takes time. Don’t balk at the process.

  49. Yeah, Ann, I was trying to be diplomatic, but go ahead and say it like it is…

  50. Yeah, it’s pretty hypocritical, Grasshoppy. But what can you do? Are the wealthy forbidden from talking about this stuff?

  51. [cont.]

    …the “higher principle” that you and I both recognize as the goal.

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