Change and Decay

The name of the church unapologetically announces that these are the last days, but there are questions among us as to exactly what that means.  In Evelyn Waugh’s hilarious novel Scoop, Theodore arises from his bed each morning, goes to his window, and, while gazing out on the new day, recites the words from a hymn:  “Change and decay in all around I see.”  There is a strong strain in Mormonism that tends to this view, too.  We are in a state of decline which will continue until God makes a final end to it all.  The eschaton is the event where the King of Kings will put an end to wickedness by taking down all who practice it and settling their hash once and for all.

Another understanding, just as valid, is the approach that says that the last days are the time for us to build Zion, in a literal sense.  Our task is to do away with wickedness by banishing it from our hearts and lives, and by developing relationships that are celestial in nature.  I have found that it is possible to hold both views at the same time.

Temperamentally, I’m usually inclined to the first view.  Sometimes the sadness, pain and suffering of innocents brings on a desire for a divine figure to administer a righteous beatdown on those who cause it.  But there are at least two problems with this approach:  It let’s me off the hook too easily, and it can lead to an unrelenting pessimism.  But sometimes even pessimists get nice surprises.

The current issue of Commentary magazine has an article entitled Crime, Drugs, Welfare, and Other Good News. If you have a pair of rose-colored glasses handy, put them on and consider these data points:

In the United States, both property crime and violent crime are down to their lowest points since 1973.

The number of abortions has fallen steadily. It is now at its lowest point since Roe v. Wade.

Teenage drug use is declining, down 30% from ten years ago. Teenage drinking is down 15%.

Other sources indicate that even though the world’s population has increased rapidly over the last century, the number of people who die in wars has fallen sharply.  And the news from Scandinavia, where same sex marriage has been a reality for a generation now, shows that the rate of heterosexual marriage is rising and divorce is falling.

A casual listener to general conference or sacrament meeting could conclude that we believe society is in free fall, that we are about to be engulfed by a tidal wave of degradation and drown in our own filth, and that every day, in every way, things are getting worse and worse.  I’m not sure how to reconcile that view with good news.

A conversation with a BYU professor (I’m telling you that because I can’t cite the data, but I want you to know my information is True) revealed that on a per capita basis, the state of Iowa spends more on the sex industry (pornography, “gentlemen’s clubs”, etc.) than any other state in the country.  The little old ladies from Dubuque may not be as demure as we had supposed.  And yet, in some key indicators of a desirable society, Iowa is ahead of Utah.  Marriages are stabler, overall health is better, kids drop out of school less and score higher on college entrance tests, and there is less suicide and mental illness.  What gives?  Are we just crying wolf, or are those corn-fed Iowans just storing up trouble?  Have they found a way to avoid the breakdown, or are they still going to get what they’ve got coming? 

Gordon B. Hinckley has appealed to the general membership with his optomistic outlook and has denounced pessimists as “pickle suckers”.  I’m trying to follow his example by being grateful for good things, even if I don’t understand them.  Uncle Theodore needs to get a life and have something besides pickles for breakfast.

Comments

  1. To give the quote context, it is worth noting that Scoop is about an Englishman in Africa.

  2. Great post, mark. I’ve often felt that sometimes we perversely see horrible things happen in the world and “consume it upon our lusts”–we as religious people sometimes find warped satisfaction in suffering in the world, as if it serves only to validate how right we are and how great the forces are against which we are heroically battling. In other words, the worse the world _seems_, the better we feel about ourselves in contrast to it.

    Avoiding pickle-sucking, along with eschewing he calls a “bunker mentality,” are, I believe, two of Pres. Hinckley’s most valuable and practical pieces of counsel.

  3. One of the things that sometimes causes me to puzzle is how followers of Christ, since the New Testament through to current LDS church members, have consistently believed that the end times are nigh. God’s perspective and all that, but it is sometimes hard to reconcile the saints’ belief through the centuries that the last days are imminent with Armageddon’s slow approach.

  4. Armageddon’s slow approach

    Maybe there will be no such Armageddon.

  5. (That is, our view of this cataclysmic end-time human war is warped.)

  6. If it’s any consolation, the name of the Church doesn’t unapologetically announce that these are the last days in all languages. The Church changed its Chinese name a few years back from containing “last days” to containing “later period of time.” I’m not sure what prompted the change, but it seems to indicate a semi-official desire to de-emphasize the whole “end of the world” thing.

    But yes, I think we like to emphasize how bad things are because it helps us feel smug about how all the bad people are about to get it from God, and because a little FUD helps fill the pews.

  7. Ronan and BTDG: Those are my thoughts and questions, too.

    gst: if you are a Waugh fan, that explains a lot about your sense of humor.

    Jeremy: thank you.

  8. What a great post, Mark. I needed to pull out my pink sunglasses and wipe of the dust. Thanks.

    …pickle suckers…*snerkle* my favorite Hinkleyism.

  9. I think that things have steadily gotten better for the past several hundred years. You wouldn’t know it, though, going to the ward that I attend. Common themes are how the world is progressively getting worse, how it is so much harder to raise families now than it was in the past, how the divide between the church and the world is getting larger, how the school system teaches heresies to our children, and how difficult it is to live in Babylon.

    It makes for nice lively sermons, but it just doesn’t ring true.

  10. What’s wrong with pickles?

    (says the cynic.)

    But then again, you find this throughout the Christian world. Most of the stuff you hear from the environmental movement is about how the world is degenerating and will soon be destroyed by our industrialized emissions. Sounds rather Armageddonish to me. (Biblical, not Bay-movie-trash-ical)

  11. Lets talk about natural disasters. It seems like after every big earthquake, flood, tsunami, volcanoe, stampede, locust swarm, or whatever makes the news, somebody in Church something about the imminent last days.

    Couldn’t it just be more people are living on the earth and in more places, so there are more people affected? Also, isn’t the ease of spreading communication a factor also in the perception that there are more natural disasters now than before?

  12. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    I have to agree with Dire. The Provo cultural view seems to see the “Victorian Era” (an era which did and did not really exist the way we see it now) as the high water mark of society and it’s been downhill ever since (I’d suspect that this is because early Utah settlers were a product of their times and their ideal of society has stuck around). Of course, depending on how you view a society’s “level” it is obvious that past civilization has often been much lower than it is now and that the idea of a constant downward slop since the founding of the Church is wrong. (I hope this makes sense.)

    So how does one express their rejection of the Victorian High Water Mark without being disrespectful? Even if it can be done, should it? Would people benefit from a loss of this view? (Dang, I sound like I’m on some sort of high horse.)

  13. Jonathan K says:

    #3 – I agree how we are always saying the next generation is the one to usher in the Millenium. I used to believe I was part of that “next generation” until I realized every generation since Joseph Smith has been told that.

  14. Jonathan K says:

    #11 – I agree that communication and poplulation are the relevant issues rather than any type of increase in actual natural disasters.

  15. Jonathan K says:

    One of my pet peeves is how every Sunday School lesson turns into a “we have to live in the world but not of the world” lesson. In my opinion, almost every person is a good person trying their best to navigate through life, even if they choose to live differently than me. We really have a hard time showing mercy and look down upon people who break laws (both physical and spiritual). We should be quick to step in and help since we are all law-breakers.

    To me, the easiest way to remain optimistic is to look at people rather than issues or statistics (stats can show good or bad in any situation). When I think of issues, the world seems very wicked. When I think of individual people and their struggles, the world is mostly a good place with lots of potential.

  16. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Change and decay in all around I see.”

    Did Nick Literski right that hymn??

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist– edit me if you must)

  17. MikeInWeHo says:

    (write)

  18. snerk.

  19. I think that things have steadily gotten better for the past several hundred years. You wouldn’t know it, though, going to the ward that I attend. Common themes are how the world is progressively getting worse, how it is so much harder to raise families now than it was in the past, how the divide between the church and the world is getting larger, how the school system teaches heresies to our children, and how difficult it is to live in Babylon.

    I likewise tire of talk about the imagined, Cleaverish “good old days.” Any time I hear someone talk about such things in church, I’m tempted to say “Right, those days back when black people couldn’t vote and we tested atomic bombs above ground and people got polio?”

  20. A great topic that I do believe deserves serious consideration. Take, for example, my wife’s fairly small and isolated hometown in the Southwest. Apparently the Mormon youth there are experiencing a great degree of trials and tribulations (drug abuse and suicide in particular). The response of the majority of the local Church leaders is to blame the surrounding society for the “corruption” of their precious children. My wife, who was a victim of the same issues afflicting the current generation there, was one of the few who managed to survive by escaping. Within a few years of being well outside that community, she was able to really see that virtually all of the problems in that area are either caused by or exacerbated by over-zealous True Believers. And it has taken nearly a decade for her to even begin to make peace with the Church that she has never stopped believing in, but that had a direct hand in the suicide of her best friend. While there are many causes for the problems there – most certainly, the Church is not to blame for all of them – the attitude that the “outside world,” with all its debauchery and corrupting influence, is believed to be the root cause of harm to the youth allows far too many well-meaning members to ignore the parts that they themselves are playing in these vicious cycles.

    Now, I do not wish to give the impression that I blame the Church for the attitudes of all its members. The problem I describe is certainly not unique to Mormons, we see it play out in all manner of communities. But I do believe that a Church whose proclaimed focus is on the family, and by extension the children of their community, can and should be held to a slightly higher standard when cyclical trauma afflicts a Ward or Stake or what-have-you. The seemingly pervasive attitude (in some places) that civilization is a decaying institution, and constantly threatens to infect the youth with its immoral ways, can be a recipe for ignoring those problems within a community that are being caused by those who are tasked with *solving* those problems.

    I’m not sure if I’m really making myself clear here; I do not want to blast well-meaning, innocent bystanders who happen to share the same faith as the targets of my anger. I guess this post just struck a nerve…

  21. Thanks for the post. Pres. Hinckley is right on target. I met Sr. Hinckley years ago in the Salt Lake Temple. It can be said that the prophet gets his optimism from his marriage to Sr. Hinckley.

    It was impossible to be downcast in her presence. She was truely a remarkable woman, slow to judge, kind, optimistic, and was full of joy.

    Oh, that the world had more sojourners like her!

  22. I heart MikeInWeHo.

  23. For Adam #11-

    According to the CRED report of June 2007-

    The statistics from 1987-2006 shows an increase in the number of natural disasters from approx 150 per year to 450 per year. (This is only the number of individual events-not fatalities or economic damage)

    For 1987-1998 the average number of hydrometeorological disasters reported was 195-for the years 2000-2006, this number increased by 187% to an average of 365.

    In the 11 years 1987-1998, the average number of geological disasters was 28; in the 6 years 2000-2006, the average was 38, a 136% increase.

    According to UNESCO-

    Natural disasters are increasing in terms of frequency, complexity, scope and destructive capacity.

    Both organizational reports state that the increase in communication and ability to report incidents is responsible for a slight portion of the increasing statistics, but the facts simply are that there is an accelerating increase in events per year.

  24. Sam Kitterman says:

    I also found it quite interesting that earlier today Mental Health America released a report regarding population percentages being treated for depression as well as their suicide rate. The three highest states were West Virginia, Kentucky and….Utah, Utah being the highest.

    I can’t claim to be living in a much less depressing state, though. Nevada was 47…..

    Sam K.

  25. And yet, in some key indicators of a desirable society, Iowa is ahead of Utah. Marriages are stabler, overall health is better, kids drop out of school less and score higher on college entrance tests, and there is less suicide and mental illness.

    I’m not sure where you got your statistics, but according to statemaster.com, while Iowa and Utah are literally neck and neck on the overall “Health index”, Iowa is higher in cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol than Utah. Utahans eat more fruits and veggies and have a lower obesity rate. Utah has a higher percentage of high school grads and above then Iowa, as well as higher rates for bachelors and advanced degrees.

    Utah might rank #1 in mental health but it also ranks #34 for suicides (Iowa’s suicide rate is higher) and Iowa ranks high in the self medicating department-alcohol raises serotonin levels and Iowa is ranked 4th in binge drinking and 15th in heavy drinking.

    As far as test scores- in 2006 Iowa had slightly better ACT scores (22.7 vs the Utah average of 21.7) but Utah had a higher number of students who took it-which affects the averages. Both states scored significantly higher than the median on the SAT in 2007 and while Iowa’s average scores were higher, 654 more students from Utah took it than Iowa-affecting the averages.

    What gives? Are we just crying wolf, or are those corn-fed Iowans just storing up trouble? Have they found a way to avoid the breakdown, or are they still going to get what they’ve got coming?

    Utah is ranked #6 in the states with the highest economic growth and of the 5 states that ranked higher, 4 of them- Idaho, Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada- have the highest numbers of LDS members after Utah, as well as the highest percentage of LDS to non-LDS populations in the remaining US states. (Iowa is #40 in economic growth-maybe if they started producing their porn locally?).

    On Nov 24, 2007 the Deseret News reported that Utah’s current population is only 60% LDS- so it is misleading (and completely inaccurate)to cause people to wonder why a state that is “dominated by LDS members” is falling behind the porn loving state of Iowa in the “key indicators of a desirable society”.

    But using your assumption, the statistics reveal a lot more. For example, according to the 2007 census numbers, what you are really doing is comparing Iowa’s 2,982,085 residents against the 1,530,038 LDS residents of Utah (60% of 2,550,063)and yet Utah is beating them in almost every single statistic you mentioned.

  26. I think it’s interesting that if you go back through Conference talks and such, the “world is getting more and more wicked” stuff has been talked about for decades. Like during the 50s and 60s they were saying the same thing. I can see how certain behaviors are more tolerated publicly in our society now (like unwed motherhood), but I really don’t think that we are somehow “more wicked” than “before” (if that is possible to measure). Generally when people start all the “the world is so much more wicked” talk I just shut my brain off.

  27. Sam Kitterman says:

    Nevada’s economic growth is being overshadowed by the budget crisis, such as a result of what is happening in the mortgage market along with other tax revenue sources not matching projections…

    So given that, I would suggest that statistics can be used in whatever fashion one wants to use them, to prove whatever point one wishes to prove…..

  28. So given that, I would suggest that statistics can be used in whatever fashion one wants to use them, to prove whatever point one wishes to prove…..

    I think that the quote below aptly demonstrates the point above. Even when the numbers are worse for Utah, there will be someone who tries to spin the data and suggest that the numbers aren’t really what they seem. How 654 more students taking a test affects the average is unclear to me.

    Argue all you want about who has higher test scores–Iowa clearly has more influence in presidential elections. Personally, I’d give you a point on my ACT if you’d let me pick then next president.

    As far as test scores- in 2006 Iowa had slightly better ACT scores (22.7 vs the Utah average of 21.7) but Utah had a higher number of students who took it-which affects the averages. Both states scored significantly higher than the median on the SAT in 2007 and while Iowa’s average scores were higher, 654 more students from Utah took it than Iowa-affecting the averages.

  29. This is another of the many paradoxes in LDS thought. Certainly, when the restoration occurred, the prophet and the saints viewed the long night of apostasy as something past as well as present, but they viewed themselves in the dawn of a new day, so to speak. Though things would get worse (prophecy on war, etc.) they also believed the end would come quickly. Saints today appear less inclined to view the millennium as immediate, however.

    Robert D. Poll argued the view of change and decay needs to be tempered with the knowledge that what we do does effect the future in general and specific terms.

  30. “Change and decay” are just a process of mortality. Everything changes, and every living thing decays, breaks down, and becomes something else. The hymn isn’t so much about despair as it is about God being unchanging, always there to help, in light times and darkness.

    The older I get, the faster time seems to fly. My mother told me about this strange phenomenon when I left home and I brushed it off as the sentimental ramblings of a mother who was on the verge of an empty nest. Now I realize she was warning me about the inevitable. It doesn’t really matter if I die before the Millenium comes or not; I’m sure that when my “life’s little day” ends, I will feel like it came quickly.

  31. Dire-

    From Collegeboard.com explains it better than I could:

    Average SAT scores are not appropriate for state comparisons because the percentage of SAT takers varies widely among states. In some states, a very small percentage of the college-bound seniors take the SAT. Typically, these students have strong academic backgrounds and are applicants to the nation’s most selective colleges and scholarship programs. Therefore, it is expected that the SAT verbal and mathematical averages reported for these states will be higher than the national average. In states where a greater proportion of students with a wide range of academic backgrounds take the SAT, and where most colleges in the state require the test for admission, the scores are closer to the national average.

    For example, Conneticut has the highest average ACT composite scores-23.2- but only 16% of their graduates took the test. Colorado and Illinois are the only two states in 2007 that had 100% of their graduates take the test and they scored 20.4 and 20.5 respectively.

    I AGREE that data can be taken out of context and spun to mean anything. What is most interesting to me is that whenever the numbers (or data) actually indicate something favorable about Utah or the conditions of the people who live in that state, the first response to the data (and in this thread the first and second) is always to discredit that data as being spun somehow.

    Utah is most often referenced (here at least) as a comparison in discussions about good vs bad,sheep vs goats, hypocrites vs everyone else. For the comparison against Utah to be effective (never mind accurate) one has to assume that Utah’s population is 100% (or 90% or 80% or at least 75%) LDS, and that most or all of those members who live in Utah are active or would describe themselves as active, or hope that everyone viewing the comparison assumes those two things.

    Phrasing things in such a way that unproven truths are assumed to really be true, or present only the facts or quotes that support one’s position, is the definition of “spin”.

  32. I accept that Steve will probably reprimand me for length of post and others will point the holier than thou finger at me, but I don’t want Mark to think that I view him as a manipulative spin artist. After reading his post and the linked article, I understand how, in his view, many things about our society have improved substantially. If viewed out of context on their own, they are indeed “good news”.

    While the article (and the statistics in it)are not biased one way or another, and Mark admits that he doesn’t know how to reconcile the “good news” with the strain of Mormonism that says we are “drowning in our own filth”, I think rather than trying to get them to agree with each other, we need to work at “seeing things as they really are”.

    A couple of examples-

    ”The number of abortions has steadily edeclined. It is now at its lowest point since Roe vs. Wade”.

    That sounds wonderful! Some people might read that and conclude that abortions rarely happen anymore. The stark reality is that the same article states that while the rate has “fallen” three tenths of a percent from a high of 1.6 million-Americans still abort close to 1.3 million fetuses a year.

    The divorce rate is falling

    This sounds like positive ground-all you have to do is ignore the rest of the article that says “the MARRIAGE rate has declined by almost HALF since 1970” and that “over half of all marriages are now preceded by a period of unmarried cohabitation”. You can’t have as many divorces if you don’t have as many marriages, but you can still have large numbers of unhealthy,immoral, unstable relationships. The article goes on to say that while “the divorce rate among more educated Americans is falling”(see article for reasons) “the divorce rate among those less educated is NOT”.

    The teenaged birth rate has fallen

    I think all of us would agree that is a fabulous thing, but because access to birth control has increased for teens, that doesn’t mean that teen sexual activity has fallen. What is worse…the rest of the sentence that declares the glad news above says… “out of wedlock births in general have reached an all time high:35% of all births in 2005.”

    The following quotes from the article agree with what LDS Leaders have been saying for years-and makes the First Presidency’s focus and proclamations regarding on the family seem almost…do I dare say it…inspired?

    Perhaps most importantly, some of the most vital social indicators of all—those regarding the condition and strength of the American family—have so far refused to turn upward.

    The most striking element of the overall picture continues to be the extraordinary turnaround in nearly every area apart from the family.

    Thus, our popular culture remains, in many respects, a cesspool of violence and vulgarity. The “soft nihilism” and cultural relativism about which Allan Bloom wrote so powerfully in the late 1980’s are still with us, and at the same time many of our leading universities remain beholden to a radical leftist ideology. The yoking-together of these two syndromes may be even more widespread today than yesterday.

    The antithesis of being a pessimistic “pickle suckers” is being optimistic and faithful even during dark times. It is actually listening to God’s anointed to avoid becoming wrapped in the “silken threads” that lead to the “cesspool” . It involves gaining the assurance that through obedience, our families and our futures will be strong and eternal.

    The article even ends with a statement that echoes the LDS idea that each generation of youth is stronger and more spiritual than the last and expects them to affect the world in many of the same ways.

    In attitudes toward education, drugs, abortion, religion, marriage, and divorce, the current generation of teenagers and young adults appears in many respects to be more culturally conservative than its immediate predecessors. To any who may have written off American society as incorrigibly corrupt and adrift, these young people offer a powerful reminder of the boundless inner resources still at our disposal, and of our constantly surprising national resilience.

    I’ll go find my shirt with the target painted on it.

  33. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 32

    So basically, the U.S. is gradually turning into Sweden. Who else here has spent some time there? Talk about a cesspool!

  34. Steve Evans says:

    Tosh, I would have deleted your comments had I taken the time to read them all, but frankly they are too numerous and lengthy to be worth the hassle. I just skip them now, knowing that eventually you’ll get the lesson.

  35. tosh, I think you may be extrapolating a little too much. My intention was not to denigrate Utah or LDS values by citing some stats about Iowa. I was trying to get at an interesting question: If porn use leads to divorce, family breakup, and social pathologies as we are warned it does, why do those pathologies not show up in the worst state of the U.S. for porn use? Why does Iowa have one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, (much lower than Utah’s, btw), and a very low incidence of rape and sexual abuse? And if SSM is a threat to heterosexual marriage, why does the place where SSM has existed for a generation, why is the rate of hetero marriage going up? Those are fair questions.

  36. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 35 The answer is self-evident, but unacceptable to social conservatives because it would force them to change their beliefs.

  37. #36:

    I agree. Are these ‘self-evident’ answers acceptable to you? How do you reconcile this with standard mormon beliefs/values?

  38. Mark#35-
    Problem #1- all we have to go on is your statement that a BYU professor told you that Iowa spends more per capita on the sex industry than any other state…do you have some sort of demographic or stats to prove that to be true?

    Problem #2-You don’t know how to read/use statistics.

    If the “rank” by state information you are using is based on the total population-you have to factor OUT the percentage of the population that isn’t old enough to marry/divorce or might already be married/divorced. If you don’t-the results are skewed:

    According to the 2006 Census Bureau Report-
    Iowa’s population was 2,982,085
    Utah’s population was 2,550,063

    If Iowa’s divorce rate is 3.1 per 100,000 of the entire population,that =92.4 divorces per year.
    If Utah’s divorce rate is 4.1 per 100,000 (of the populace)=104.5 divorces per year. A significant difference of 12.1 more divorces in Utah.

    Using the 2006 Census numbers for the male/female population 15 years old and older in each state and the same divorce ratios you get:
    Iowa-74 Utah-77 a narrower difference of only 3 more in Utah.
    BUT if you narrow the age to 25 and older- Iowa-60 and Utah-59 or one more in IOWA-not Utah.

    SO-if any of your statements above are based on any criteria/demographic that does not match between the two states you are comparing-your statements are inaccurate.

  39. Mike-Dire-

    So much for “self evident” huh?

    But don’t worry, only the judgmental and narrow minded would insinuate that you should change your beliefs (about Utah or social conservatives) or suggest that the people living in your respective states cannot do simple math or reason effectively without obtaining verifiable proof right?

  40. Steve,

    I just want you to know that if the lesson is that here ONLY misconceptions about Utah, conservatives, or obedient LDS members should be lengthy and numerous…OR…that approval is far more important than accuracy, then I’m pretty sure I’ve got that one down.

  41. tosh,

    My post contained this phrase:

    I’m telling you that because I can’t cite the data

    You then asked:

    do you have some sort of demographic or stats to prove that to be true?

    Do you think it would be appropriate of me to begin my response to you by telling you that your problem is that you can’t read?

    If you think I have an axe to grind about Utah, conservatives, or obedient LDS members (among whom you no doubt classify yourself), you’re not as smart as you think you are.

  42. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 37 I don’t try to reconcile them, but I am anything but a “standard mormon” whatever that is. Sub-standard, at best. Or maybe a paramormon.

    Hang out here for a while, Dire. It’s really cool.

    FWIW, tosh, I’m not interested in any spat over which state has the most divorce, uses the most p*rn, or whatever. Idaho vs. Utah?? Yawn.

    My interest is in debunking assertions that society will decline if reproductive choice is permitted, if SSM is legal, if censorship is avoided, etc.

  43. Whenever I hear the “the world is more wicked” speech, I have to ask if isn’t that we’re just getting more proficient at counting it?

    And pickles are wonderful, bacon-wrapped and served with a side of mayo.

  44. Mark,

    I understand that you couldn’t “site the data” used by the BYU professor, but you also said “I know that my information is true”. All I asked was if you had anything to verify that “truth”, but you obviously took him at his word and asked readers to do the same. I’m NOT saying he is wrong, or that the information is wrong-it is just impossible to compare things accurately without comparing the same sets of data from both states.

    I DO NOT know if you have an ax to grind or not (but plenty of people do) and based my responses to how you were coming up with your conclusions. Can I ask why you picked “Utah” for your state comparison?

    For the record, I live in Utah but I’m not a native, and I’m conservative by a liberal’s definition which ironically usually results in persecution and discrimination from the very people who vocally oppose such behavior, and I try very hard to be obedient to my faith as I understand it.What is the point otherwise?That doesn’t mean I’m righteous or special or anything else-it just means that I do the best I can.

    I think your questions are VALID and this post is already too long. Since the crux of your argument was why Iowa seems to be thriving despite it’s title as highest sex industry consumers, at the risk of posting too frequently, I’ll share some statistics that might shed some light on what is really happening for you. I hope that’s ok.

  45. Rather than posting all the numbers (and making this even longer), if anyone wants the actual numbers just ask and I’ll email them to you. When results posted-numbers have been rounded up or down.

    sources- National Vital Statistics Report 2006, US Census Bureau 2006
    Percentages of respective state populations-
    More married couple households-Utah
    More non-married but partner households-Iowa (I-69K U-33K more than double)
    More male/no wife households with minor children-Iowa (I-26K U-17K)
    More female/no husband households with minor children-Iowa (I-75K U-47K)
    Iowa –
    Has more minor children living below the poverty level, more grandparents responsible for grandchildren, twice the number of deaths per year and more people getting cash assistance income.
    According to the 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics for all violent crimes (murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault) Iowa reported 7,014 violent crimes and Utah reported-4,810. In the 2005 US Census Bureau rankings of all 50 states according to violent crime Iowa ranked #31 (291 events per 100,000 residents) and Utah ranked #45 (227 per 100,000). In number of rape cases reported Utah ranked #34, Iowa was #35.

    Utah-
    In percent of children 6 and under whose parents both work, Utah ranked 50 (last) Iowa ranked 3rd highest-yet Utah has a higher median income per household. Utah has a higher percentage of residents with a High School diploma or GED, bachelors and advanced degrees, has more residents that own newer homes, and those homes have higher property values. Utah has more residents in the professional/managerial field vs Iowa having more in the manufacturing and services fields.

    And the news from Scandinavia, where same sex marriage has been a reality for a generation now, shows that the rate of heterosexual marriage is rising and divorce is falling.

    Out of 27 countries the US has the highest heterosexual marriage rate while Sweden has the lowest ( # 27), Finland was #26, Norway was #23 and Denmark is #18.
    Yet, of the top 20 countries in the year 2000 for divorces per 100 marriages-
    Sweden was #2-53.9 per 100
    Finland was #4-53.2
    Norway was #10-39.7
    Denmark was #12-37.5
    The U.S. wasn’t even on the list.

    In 2005 the US divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000 people- the lowest it has been since 1970. The highest it has ever been was in 1981-5.3

    In the US 8.1% of male-female coupled households are unmarried.
    In Scandinavia 50% of male-female coupled households are unmarried.
    Out-of-wedlock births have risen sharply during the period since Scandinavia began allowing SSM.
    A 2004 study published by the Institute For Marriage –“Sweden is a country with relatively low rates of marriage and relatively high rates of divorce”. The survey revealed “ a high rate of legal divorce from homosexual couples in Sweden. Gay male couples are 50% more likely to divorce within an 8 year period than were heterosexuals; and lesbian couples were 167% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples.”

  46. eschewing the “war on statistics” and getting back the topic at hand, we are told in the scriptures that as the days progress toward the end times that Satan would have greater power and that the power of God would be upon the saints (1 Ne 14). I read that to mean that there will be more triumphs for both good and evil. The stakes get raised and both the blessings and the wickedness/trials increase.

    Statistics and scripture can both be twisted to support just about any view, I’ve seen it done. I think that the world is denigrating, but I also think that it is improving. Our job is to stick with the good and reject the evil. It’s out there. Alma 3:26-7 is just as true now as it was back then. The stage is set and we have influences every day. Without being sanctimonious, we do need to live apart from the world. We have been given the Light of Christ so we should be able to find the good and cling to it. Not all good comes from the church, but it does come from God.

    I think we can find evidence of God’s increased blessings if we choose to look for it. We can also find evidence of Babylon’s spreading corruption if we look for it. People tend to treat religion like politics, they find what suits their preconceived notions and cling to it tightly. Our truest test on earth to is to let go of cherished beliefs and philosophies so that God might teach us the truth. Sometimes the Spirit can’t get past our intellectual fox holes to set us free.