Correlation: An Uncorrelated History (Part 8 — The Rise of Correlation)

Read the first seven installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7. You can download and read Daymon’s dissertation here.

I should note that the dissertation chapters that coincide with this portion of the discussion are among the most accessible of the entire work. They’re also rich with detail in a way that this conversation can really only approximate. Remember, Daymon has made his dissertation available for purchase in bound form here. All of the proceeds will go to the Utah Food Bank.

Brad: So we’re going to shift back from theology to the more historical narrative. We’re in the 1930s, we’re located in the administration of President Grant. Just to recap a few of the key developments of this time, perhaps the most significant of which being the formal and forever break with polygamist Fundamentalist Mormons. This is also a time when the administrative structure of the Church, with the help of several key figures including Charles W. Nibley and J. Reuben Clark, is increasingly corporatized organizationally. There’s a major move toward financial solvency, toward centralization of virtually all productive and distributive operations. A lot of the local autonomy that had been distributed at the level of individual stakes by John Taylor—in order to give the sealing keys to patriarchs—that was all reigned in, even to the point that beginning in Grant’s administration patriarchs began to be subject to a kind of surveillance, an approval process of sorts. They would have to bring in representative copies of their transcribed blessings for the Stake President to examine, to give suggestions on changes and improvements, etc. This whole centralization process is under way, under Grant, at the same time as real productive processes are being implemented and are growing under Church welfare. This all coincides with the rising star of an individual who is going now to take center stage in our conversation and that is Harold B. Lee.

Daymon: Lee’s entrance on the scene coincides with the functional breakdown of the economy. One of the key points regarding this structural reorganization of the Church in the 20s and 30s is that centralization is only possible because you’re dealing with mostly liquid assets. When you’re dealing with monetized offerings—that is revenue streams—as opposed to, say, chickens it is much easier to consolidate all of the assets you control in a centralized place. Lee comes onto the scene and this impulse toward centralized productive efficiency is almost like the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon.

Brad: It’s the dominant new paradigm.

Daymon: It becomes the basis for a confidence and even a promise that we can finally be led to Zion.

Brad: And owing in no small part to his success as an administrator overseeing the welfare program, Lee is called as an apostle by Grant, and is in place as an influential member of the Q12 when the guy who ends up getting most of the credit in our minds for what Grant and Lee did takes over as Church president, and that’s David O. McKay. McKay’s a key figure, looks more like a modern Mormon than Grant, and his administration is typically associated with modernization, with a lot of the organizational and structural changes that actually took place under Grant.

Daymon: McKay really, despite his typical association as the kind of founder of Modern Mormonism, actually seems a bit dismayed by a lot of these transformations that were going on, particularly by some of what Lee was doing. In 1960, however, he gives Lee this pretty modest task. He asks Lee to form a committee to edit some manuals. To look over the curriculum and make sure there aren’t any major redundancies or inconsistencies, etc.

Brad: To basically streamline the production processes involved in a handful of Church curricula. And part of what motivates this is a number of demographic and cultural changes that the Church is undergoing right now. In the post-war era, they’re getting internal sociological data projections suggesting that enormous international growth is coming, and that by the year 2000, we’re going to have maybe 10 or 15 million Church members.

Daymon: An irony here is that while theological speculation had pretty much disappeared in the Church, financial and sociological speculations start to really run wild. My work is not unique in highlighting some of this. The Church was involved in all kinds of financial speculation, deficit spending under Henry Moyle—all this is driven by sociological speculation and by projections that soon there are going to be so many millions more Church members, and they’re all going to be outside the United States. In particular they’re going to be in Latin America. How are we going to make these manuals accessible to Latin Americans?

Brad: And accessibility here is not just about the logistics of shipping and distribution, either. There’s a kind of colonialist logic embedded here. It’s important to remember what this period of history is like in America, the jingoism, the paranoia about non-Americans, there’s still a lot of racism, of both the overt and more subtle varieties, including in the Church and among Church leaders, and a lot of these projections for growth involve non-white, non-American populations. They’re going to need milk, not meat.

Daymon: They’re often illiterate, they’re of course not aware of all these doctrinal complexities.

Brad: They don’t even get capitalism, let alone the Gospel.

Daymon: A number of these guys that Lee brings on to help him revise the curricula in 1960-61 had missionary experience working with Native Americans, with “Lamanites,” Boyd K. Packer being a leading example. Their experience among Native Americans led them to believe “these folks just don’t get the Gospel.”

Brad: You had to teach them like children, reduce everything to simple, abstract, basic gospel principles.

Daymon: And even then they didn’t seem to understand very basic things, like how to properly perform ordinances, how to lay your hands on somebody’s head. These guys returned from that experience in the 1950s, working with Church Education down on the reservations, really quite dismayed by the prospects of rapid Church growth outside of white Utah.

Brad: And add to that general concerns they had even about white Utahns, so to speak. The threat of communism, the new sexual permissiveness. This is not just the era of the rise of Correlation but also the era of hippies and Honor Codes.

Daymon: So you’ve got pinkos, hippies, Native Americans, sexual revolutionaries, beatniks, Latin Americans, etc. And concerns about all these figures animate Lee’s new curriculum-correlation project.

Brad: There’s the Cuban revolution, there’s Che Guevara.

Daymon: The world is tearing apart. But Lee, who has been honing this organizational plan for quite some time now, sees an opportunity to really fix things. It was mostly an accident that circumstances came about permitting him to actually put these restructurings into place. And part of it was possible because, despite his own misgivings, David O. McKay didn’t stop it. So in 1960 he’s got a letter in his hands, from McKay—form a committee, revise the manuals. By 1961-62, however, he’s got a new name for this project, called Priesthood Correlation. He forms an All-Church Coordinating Council, which eventually becomes the Priesthood Correlation Committee. And David O. McKay is really quite dismayed by this, and voicing his concerns in discussions with the first presidency. They start talking about this in somewhat derisive terms, McKay refers to it as the “Super-Priesthood Coordinating Council,” or the “Super Priesthood Board,” but Lee is completely serious and all business about this stuff. And, perhaps most importantly, Lee himself attributes all credit for what he’s doing to President McKay. In General Conference, he says that David O. McKay has been thinking about this for some time—and of course McKay had been on a “church correlation” committee way back in the 20s, and that committee had suggested fairly modest organizational realignments and centralizing reforms that, at the time, were rejected because they would change things so radically. However, 40 years later, Lee begins, by small degrees, to reorganize everything.

Brad: And it’s important not to put the cart before the horse here in describing what Lee was able to accomplish. We’re describing the emergence of a kind of organizational and administrative authority. You can’t just talk about Lee having all this unfettered power to make this changes, because the kind of organizational structure that would enable Lee to have this power is an outcome of these changes, rather than a precondition for them.

Daymon: Right, that would be a very anachronistic reading. That anachronistic reading is in some sense authorized by Correlation only after it’s already in place. All these developments noted earlier with regard to Fundamentalism, theology, shifting notions of priesthood, centralization, etc., set the stage for Lee to step into this vacuum. There are a number of different issues here, that come together in a kind of serendipitous, if happenstance, manner and this allows Lee to organize his priesthood board.

Brad: Really, in some sense, the only thing you can blame Lee for doing is magnifying his calling. And an important ingredient here is just the extremely non-confrontational nature of President McKay.

Daymon: And McKay really had his hands full over the race and priesthood question, over Church finances, and he’s also getting quite old in the 1960s and is not entirely well.

Brad: I want to return for a moment to General Conference reports. You detail in the dissertation the really astonishing enthusiasm with which these men—Lee for sure, and Packer, but also a very young Thomas Monson—describe Correlation, what it could mean for the Church, what it’s capable of bringing about in the Kingdom, in the world.

Daymon: What began as a mandate for streamlining and coordinating the curriculum-production process and from there evolved into a project to simplify and reduce the doctrines of the Church so we can efficiently circulate them around the world to folks who might have a hard time understanding them, and, you know, get it to teenagers so they’ll stop messing around, turns into a kind of mythic source of potential power. They start to tell some pretty remarkable stories about what Correlation is going to accomplish. This goes back to a meeting that Lee had with a couple other guys in his new correlation committee. During this meeting, they took 72 note cards on which they wrote important “ideas.”

Brad: Abstract principles, abstract nouns.

Daymon: “Faith,” “repentance,” “obedience,” these kinds of abstractions—he organizes them on a wall in his office. This organization becomes a kind of representation of the mind of God and of the mind of the Ideal Mormon. They’re supposed to have these ideas in their head hierarchically organized.

Brad: You can now literally map out the mind of an ideal, generic Mormon which his equal to the mind of God, which can literally be diagrammed on a flow chart. All according to a series of hierarchically organized abstract nouns.

Daymon: And what’s the reason for arranging these nouns in this particular hierarchical order as opposed to some other order? It’s because these guys decided that that was the way it should be. So it seemed completely natural to them, like they had just discovered something that was already there, what God had ordered in terms of the ideas of the universe. This board of 72 terms becomes the taxonomy and the scheme that they will use to rewrite the manuals.

Brad: In a certain sense this becomes almost a constitution of the modern Church.

Daymon: Right. When he organizes this, it really is a sort of birth of the mind of a new kind of correlated god.

Brad: And a correlated Mormon.

Daymon: The two cannot be separated, in either the 19th Century or the 20th.

Brad: The one thing they have in common, regardless of how much they’ve been driven materially apart, the one thing that God and Man still have in common is Mind.

Daymon: That becomes the link. Not bodies. Lee might be very concerned over what teenagers are doing with their bodies, but he’s not so concerned with reorganizing the Gospel around bodily practices. That’s what the Fundamentalists are doing. His concern, rather, is, How do we structure people’s minds to reflect the Mind of God? And there’s a surprising amount of resistance to this enterprise initially. Lee encounters quite a bit of resistance from the first presidency. And these problems he encounters become, for Lee, a kind of affirmation that the Church is not efficiently organized or structured in a sufficiently centralized and hierarchical manner, particular as regards the definition and articulation of doctrine. So he succeeds at organizing this priesthood board that will soon, in some sense, be more powerful than either the FP or the Q12. Because these guys have final control over the production of all of the materials of official Mormonism.

Brad: They have absolute surveillance authority—and this, by the way, this kind of organ isn’t even remotely uncommon in any large corporation.

Daymon: This is where the resistance comes from, particularly from the first presidency. They (the FP) articulate concerns in their discussions about the loss of priesthood power, about the loss of their right to represent God, because it seems like the Church is being structured around quiet domination and around notions of absolute authority—I can tell you what to do because I exist on an organizational diagram positioned vertically higher than you.

Brad: It’s incredibly interesting, because in their private conversations, which McKay writes about in his diary, which is publicly available, the analogy and the language they use to describe their concerns over the new committee and its power come from section 121.

Daymon: So during one of their meetings as they talk about this they collective quote section 121, as soon as a man gets a little authority, he immediately begins to exercise unrighteous dominion. And the other story that they talked about was the analogy of the Roman part of the Catholic Church taking over.

Brad: In other words, the Great Apostasy.

Daymon: McKay was saying that this is how the Great Apostasy happened, that you removed the head from the Church, and it was now governed by, say, the shoulders, rather than by the guy who held the keys of revelation. But McKay doesn’t do anything about it because that fits perfectly with his notion of priesthood authority. He’s not going to coerce or dominate Harold B. Lee to keep him from doing this. And the end result is that Lee takes this lack of opposition as a mandate from McKay, as a signal that McKay completely supports what he’s doing. And by the late 60s we’re no longer just talking about an administrative change or organizational change. By 1967 as they’re beginning to implement correlation of stake and ward manuals, they meet together and one of the heads of the church correlation committee, a guy named Paul Royal, starts to tell the story to a group of BYU students. He tells them that McKay held up the new, correlated manual and said “this is the mind and will of the Lord.” But of course if you read McKay’s journals, McKay describes it rather differently.

There’s a lot of resistance to this at the local level, and a particularly rigorous resistance by the auxiliaries. In particular the Relief Society and the Primary, which at that point were more or less independent entities. The way that one of the Correlation managers described it to me recently was that it was as if you had four different Churches.

Brad: So this authorization that Lee’s been given to streamline and simplify doctrine and just get things in more efficient working order, these are not the only changes. In addition to Lee and his committee being given the tools and authority to streamline church curricula, to make sure that everything is produced and distributed in an efficient manner, making it all both logistically and conceptually accessible for a wide variety of populations—in addition to all this you have a kind of reigning in and centralization of Church authority. The auxiliaries are moved from a degree of relative autonomy into a position of subordination to Priesthood Correlation, and everything must fall under the same head.

Daymon: And they’re using “priesthood” increasingly, in these contexts, to refer to this group of guys who form this committee, and this is why the manuals are so important—it’s the manuals that were being produced, sponsored, and edited by the different auxiliaries, but Lee is given a mandate to look them over and review them. And he follows the thread from the manuals to the sources of independence for the different auxiliaries.

Brad: So the mutual associations, the Relief Society, the Primary, whereas they had previously been putting together their own curricula, writing their own manuals, now they’re going to get stuff that comes from the head, from “the Priesthood,” by which is meant this priesthood committee, but also implicitly has the imprimatur of the Brethren, in that President McKay authorized the creation of the committee in the first place.

Daymon: And this is where the confusion between priesthood as a power, priesthood as a group of guys, and priesthood as a kind of administrative authority really opens up the corridors for realigning everybody and everything under this priesthood committee.

Brad: The entire body of the Church is now capable of being governed and controlled by a single head. And they actually use this analogy. It’s the return of analogies drawn from the body.

Daymon: The analogic speculation starts to work again, and Lee uses the analogy of the priesthood as the head of the body.

Brad: But what, exactly, is the head? Is it the first presidency, the quorum of the twelve, or is it this new oversight committee, this new quasi-quorum of the priesthood?

Daymon: By 1970 Lee is really crowing about the fact that all this stuff—and by stuff I mean Church curriculum, Church education, Church magazines, all the auxiliaries—these are all being run under the governance of the Twelve. Which it wasn’t, really. It was being run by this priesthood committee, which consisted in part of members of the Twelve. And they would assign these guys on the committee to be the head, for example, of the Primary or Relief Society. And you find complaints about this from the general presidencies of both organizations. But what happened is they took all of the resources away from these auxiliaries—they took their ability to write the manuals but they also took their ability to sell magazines to raise money, which had been their foundation for independence.

Brad: If you’re no longer, as a Relief Society, producing magazines and selling subscriptions, you no longer have any possibility for anything but dependence on the central Church.

Daymon: The centralization here of the money opens up the doors for the spiritual realignment and reorganization, and ultimately the hierarchization of these different auxiliaries. And they map the structure of the central Church onto individual congregations. And this is where the real resistance came, at the local level. Now the local Relief Society president was expected to submit to the Bishop rather than to the Stake Relief Society president. There used to be lines of authority from the ward Primary to the stake, all the up to the general. But what they did is they replicated the structure, through the metaphor of the body with the man as the head of the priesthood, and thus as the head of the church, head of the congregation, head of the stake. And this is where Lee really makes perhaps his most lasting and significant contribution, where the man is now the head of the Family.

Brad: So we now have a new administrative unit in the Church. At the same time that these separate, already-existing organizations are brought under a single authoritative and administrative line, and you have the hierarchical structure of the overall body of the Church reproduced through a kind of metonymy at these different levels. The organization of the ward is a smaller replicated version of the organization of the Church. But you also have the introduction of what is effectively a new administrative unit of the Church, and that unit is the Home—a unit in which the husband/father is supposed to preside as a priesthood representative, a priesthood authority, he’s supposed to preside over certain ritualized performances like family prayer and family home evening, and it’s a space into which correlated curricula can now have a proper place as well.

Daymon: And if you look at what they called priesthood-home-teaching and family home evening manuals from the 1960s they’re much more regulated and scripted than even today. In some sense it doesn’t need to be scripted anymore, we already enact the scripts from memory, without it right in front of us. But back then, when people even did things like home teaching and family home evening, it was highly unregulated and unformatted. It was only through Correlation, by turning the home in to an administrative unit of the Church, that they began to describe what they, for example, initially called priesthood-home-teachers.

Brad: They’re representatives of the Priesthood who come into your home with a certain surveillance responsibility—make sure everything’s okay, everyone’s doing okay spiritually, and to report these things to a higher, independent priesthood authority.

Daymon: This was part of the unit-ization of what was once this private refuge of the home. There are all kinds of questions they used to ask, which today people would neither dare ask nor submit to answering, but they were expected to ask them and then to submit these forms to their ward level priesthood leaders and on up the line. So you have there the development of an organizational surveillance as well as the movement of scripts, so that people’s social relationships become already-created for them by their Church callings and the words they’re supposed to speak when they’re playing this role of this calling, as a priesthood-home-teacher, or the father in the home during family home evening. These things begin to become regulated by scripts.

Brad: You step into a scripted social role that is diagrammed for you, in no small part by the language of the script itself.

Daymon: So the home becomes a space where, for example, people can generate testimonies about the prophet. And this is framed as a kind of de-centralization of the Church and a creation of a more domestic Mormonism, though it is in fact very much centralized through the scripts and the surveillance and the productive and administrative processes and forces that make all these things enactable. And this was viewed as necessary for the development of the Church because it was just too expensive to send everything the central Church out into the world, so they thought, if we can get to the grassroots level, in the home, if we can get them to generate testimonies and spirituality, that’s going to take away a lot of the financial burden that encumbers Church headquarters. The reality is the exact opposite. The growth of the nuclear family as a theological unit and the home as a church administrative unit can be traced back directly to the kinds of surveillance and scripts that Correlation was concerned with producing.

Brad: And on a more practical level, it’s one thing to envision this wholly reorganized and newly streamlined Church, where everybody fits neatly into a clearly marked slot from the top of the administrative diagram to the bottom—to envision that abstractly is one thing, but actually implementing its realization is quite another. So in addition to all these organizational changes we’ve been describing, and this creation of a new administrative unit of the home, there’s something else that’s created. There’s a new position, a kind of foot-soldier for Correlation on the ground.

Daymon: The Regional Representative is created at this point to implement Priesthood Correlation within the stakes and the congregations. And part of their charge—they too have scripts, of course—and in the script they’re told that Priesthood Correlation is what allowed the City of Enoch to be taken up into heaven.

Brad: Everybody was on the same exact page, learning the exact same things, reading from the same scripts—everybody was “of one mind.”

Daymon: So this metaphor of One Heart, One Mind becomes the selling point and almost slogan for Correlation. This is going to lead us into the Millennium. It’s Correlation. And they had finally discovered this. All of the societies that failed to achieve this failed because they lacked Correlation. This might sound over the top, but this is stated clearly and repeatedly in these manuals from the late 60s and early 70s. These are stake and ward manuals, about Correlation.

Brad: This is also true of descriptions of Correlation, everywhere from General Conference addresses to the Church Handbooks of Instruction.

Daymon: And BYU classes and devotionals as well. They actually started a new class at BYU about Church Correlation. They really covered their bases here. They taught Church Correlation as really the thing that is going to replace or fill the gap that was once filled by, say, plural marriage or consecration. This is going to perfect us, as a people.

Brad: With all of these changes taking place, the entity which was, in a certain sense thrown under the bus by all of this, which saw its own power stripped from it most forcefully was, in fact, the first presidency. Once everything is really in motion, once it’s clear that there’s just no turning back the clock on the kind of bureaucratic momentum that has been generated, this is really clear in the conversations, once again you have President McKay, President Brown, and President Tanner sitting down and sort of talking about what has taken place and where things stand.

Daymon: They’re lamenting their loss of authority in the Church, which is really the diametric opposite of how things are being portrayed in, for example, the Church News. This is a time where the term “the Prophet”—just the Prophet—began to be applied to the Church president. They’re constantly now referring to McKay as the Prophet, the Prophet, the Prophet. Quinn is an excellent source on this. Whereas prior to this when you used the term “the Prophet” people understood you as meaning Joseph Smith. So on the one hand, administratively and organizationally he is being stripped of enormous amounts of real authority and power, while at the same time he is being represented in the public sphere as the origin point of all of these changes.

Brad: He’s being invested with a tremendous amount of symbolic power.

Daymon: And Correlation is presented as his latest and greatest Revelation.

Brad: It’s going to revolutionize the Church to the point that it’s going to usher in the Second Coming, and President McKay is presiding over this grand transformation as Head.

Daymon: So Correlation is telling a new kind of history, a history of the world that locates Correlation at Beginning, Middle, and End. Correlation is the thread that runs through all things.

Brad: It’s both the foundation and the apex of the whole edifice.

Daymon: So there are organizational and administrative changes, changes in the way we talk about our membership in the Church, in how we talk about the Gospel, how we organize and distribute ideas now from the top down.

Brad: It diagrams a structure of abstract ideas, a kind of topical chart, that come to stand for what we mean when we use a term like “the Gospel.”

Daymon: And all these things are still in operation in the creation of Church curriculum today.


  1. Neal Kramer says:

    I a bit tired, so this may seem scatterbrained.

    The entire dissertation seems to be built around powerful assumptions about radical changes in surveillance of Mormons by fellow Mormons that began in the 1880’s. That feels odd to me. In 1856, for example, such surveillance may have played a role in creating the atmosphere in which Mountain Meadows was possible. Similar surveillance took place in Kirtland as the Safety Society began to fail.

    When correlation was first sold to me as a counselor in an Elders’ quorum presidency, it was defined as the streamlining, empowering, and refining power of the priesthood (as the power of God). The blessings of this intensity would allow all members to focus more on the gospel and less on the uninspired and less interesting curricula produced by the auxiliaries, who were presented in some ways as usurpers of proper authority. It meant that there was a pretty good chance your quorum meeting was going to be spent learning the gospel from the scriptures rather than from an old collection of anecdotes that regularly circulated through the ward.

    Controls imposed from above were designed to inspire self-surveillance. What is the current state of my soul? Do I love the Lord? Am I willing to obey him? Am I willing to submit my will to his? Am I a part of the Lord’s team? Do I know what my role is? Am I doing it right?

    I’m probably speaking out of turn, but I’ll say it anyway. Correlation efforts in YMMIA were organized to help define and meet the needs of individual boys rather than rely on BSA to tell the boys what was good and what was not. Rumor has it that behind the scenes key leaders began trying to wean the Church of the BSA. It didn’t happen. The backlash against changes to YMMIA was sudden and deep. People refused to accept the changes. They wanted their old ways. And they got them back.

    In conference and in the Church News, there were warnings that this disobedience would result in less spiritual capacity to train young men.

    I would say, based on my personal experience, that correlation has been thoroughly rejected at the local level. It therefore has very little direct influence on the local member or congregation. Local traditions, which take the form of rejections of correlated principles and actions, are the primary sources of power in local congregations, from the way bishops organize the agenda for ward committee meetings to the organization of the sacrament meeting. You see correlated manuals and scriptures and magazines all over the place, but they are never used as they are meant to be. intended to be.

  2. I just re-read this from Arrington’s “Adventures of a Church Historian” p. 163 that might be of interest here.

    “I had a revealing conversation in 1973 with Wendall Ashton, chairman of public communications. I asked Ashton if he submitted his releases for publication for clearance through the Correlation Committee. Ashton claimed that such a submission would ‘ruin everything.’ He explained that he had previously been a member of the committee and had objected to the members reading for subject matter. The committee makes so many suggested changes, he said, and it is difficult to get certain matters approved by them. Auxiliary leaders sponsoring manuals gave up their responsibility and assumed that a task was completed if it passed the committee. Ashton said a manuscript could pass the committee and still not be well written or stimulating or instructive or thought-provoking or accomplish any of the goals set up by the auxiliaries for their manuals. In short, something could pass the Correlation Committee and still be dull; in fact, if it was dull it usually passed with speed and high praise. I had observed the same thing.”

  3. Thanks guys. Again, very interesting.

    One minor quibble, though: again with the the-Church-is-like-a-corporation? (“They have absolute surveillance authority—and this, by the way, this kind of organ isn’t even remotely uncommon in any large corporation.”)

    In response to this theme that has occasionally shown up: first, it’s blindingly obvious that the Church is like a corporation. Both are entities that are not natural persons. And as such, both essentially need some sort of committee or oversight in order to speak. Why? Because, unlike natural persons, there is no single mind or voice. Instead, there is an agglomeration of people whose intent might be relevant. Therefore, somebody (First Presidency, Correlation Committee, board of directors, shareholders, or whomever) has to decide what it is the entity’s speech.

    (Further, while they’re good at trying to stay on message, I’ve never seen a corporation that actually manages to stay on message, but that’s beside the point.)

    Which is to say, I don’t think comparisons of the Church and corporations bring anything. On a factual level, of course they’re similar. And on an implication level, well, there’s nothing insidious about a church being organized as a corporation, as Steve so ably pointed out.

  4. Those are very interesting insights, Neal. Your experiences square pretty closely with what I would have expected, both in terms of how Correlation was framed in its implementation as well as kinds of local resistance. As regards (self-) surveillance, the argument isn’t that it’s a new phenomenon in 1880s Mormondom, but rather that a new kind enters the picture at that stage that sets the stage for the radical discursive realignments that will eventually lead to both Fundamentalism and Correlation.

    Which is to say, I don’t think comparisons of the Church and corporations bring anything. On a factual level, of course they’re similar. And on an implication level, well, there’s nothing insidious about a church being organized as a corporation, as Steve so ably pointed out.

    I think you’re misreading us if you think we disagree with this. Part of the point I was trying to make in the quote you began your comment with was that something like Correlation seems much less strange when you keep in mind that the Church is, in fact, a corporation (or series of corporations). This, generally speaking, is indeed how coprorations function and find, sustain, and control a representative voice.

  5. Thomas Parkin says:

    “I don’t think comparisons of the Church and corporations bring anything.”

    I agree that there is nothing insidious about the church being a corporation, but there is tension between the kind of communication a corporation will produce and not only our own individual sensibilities and preferences, but I think what is actually spiritually necessary to spiritual growth in many or most circumstances. And a reminder of that is good, because it gives us at least some sanction to approach spiritual things _as_ our individual selves, in our individual circumstances, rather than as a part of a diagram. :)

    I have found myself in a circumstance to which there is simply no possible correlated response that is apt. I found great comfort when my father, after hearing me out, simply said “you are an individual in your unique individual bind …” Some things, no doubt many things, cannot be answered in the manual but are nevertheless of vital importance to folks in their manifold jackpots.

    In know I’m preaching to the choir. But I think that reminders that the light that is coming to us through the official organs of the church – rather than the light coming directly to us individually – comes to us through this corporate process are reminders good to be regularly made. ~

  6. I would argue that, from my reading of this series and my general understanding of LDS history, the Church-as-a-corporation model is actually a fairly recent development.

    In the early days of the Church, the day-to-day activities were directed by Joseph Smith. He was the First Elder, the President, the Prophet. All the way up to Nauvoo, it was Joseph who made the decisions, and the Twelve and the Seventies and everyone else carried them out. This speaks to me of a model similar to a sole proprietorship. The owner/operator is the head. Then we have that historical moment when Joseph places the keys of the kingdom in the hands of the Twelve as a collective organisation and tells them to round up their shoulders. I see this as the beginning of the Church-as-a-corporation model, but just the inklings of it. Really, though, it was more like a Church-as-a-franchise model. The Stakes and Wards operated, in a large part, fairly autonomously.

    It isn’t until we get to the mid-1900s that we have the Church leadership take centralized control through Apostolic oversight and the First Presidency given ultimate oversight. This is when the corporation model really begins to shine.

    But I like the corporation model. It makes sense, especially for a large organisation, and it fits within the organisation of the Priesthood quorums as established in the Doctrine and Covenants. So nothing at all is wrong with it, but it is how we have a more unified message. The need for unanimity in Q12 and FP decisions is awesome, and is one that I wish all corporations would try to emulate. It allows for robust discussion within the meetings, but demands a unified front when facing the public. And if there is no unified front, there is no decision made or announced.

  7. Kristine says:

    Like Alex, I think the corporation model makes a lot of sense and is not inherently problematic for a church. The problems come when the rhetoric about revelation, prophetic authority, priesthood power from God, etc. obscure the corporate structure in the minds of those running the corporation. When that happens, the kind of self-critical evaluation that makes a healthy corporation can’t occur–you lose the feedback mechanism if people lower on the org. chart start to believe that all actions of those higher on the org. chart are the unambiguously revealed will of God.

    So I rather vehemently disagree with Sam B. about discussing the church’s corporate structure and behavior (if a corporation can be said to “behave”). It’s critically important for corporate actors to be clear about when they are carrying out inspired instruction and when they’re simply doing the normal work of keeping a corporation running, or at least to continually allow the possibility of that distinction–there’s trouble when people begin to believe that everything they’re doing is in direct response to unquestionable divine directives.

  8. It appears there is a superlativism problem here – something that has been talked about in the ‘Nacle before.

    I’m referring to the problem where if any particular principle or program is being taught, espoused, written about, etc. – or if a person is assigned to teach, espouse, write about a particular principle or program – then that focus is sometimes magnified into being the most important program or principle.

    When I see that it was taught that Correlation was going to achieve such great things – I suspect that superlativism is manifesting itself in certain ways, if not every way.

    I don’t think it’s just a Mormon pattern though – I think it’s a human pattern. We are always looking for the next great new thing that is going to resolve all our problems.

  9. Kristine’s comments about the day-to-day finally brought back a thought I had late last night and lost in a cold-medication-induced-stupor.

    Most Latter-day Saints truly believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by Jesus Christ. We believe our prophets, apostles, and other leaders when they say that Christ is at the helm. We believe that the work of the Church is inspired and directed through revelation.

    But I think there are some who take this divine leadership concept too far. It was the Lord Himself who said it is not meet to be compelled in all things. I have always taken this to mean that He is going to let those of us on the ground-level make a lot of the decisions, for ourselves, for our families, and for our areas of stewardship. We have the right and the responsibility to seek out inspiration, but I have often felt that there are times when the Lord says, “You know, either choice is okay with me. So you do what you think is best. And if it doesn’t work, well, you’ll have learned something there, and that is so much the better.”

    God isn’t going to let us completely muck things up. But He is going to let us make mistakes and hit bumps along the way. I think He allows those He has called to lead the Church the same latitude. So while some read this history and think, “Oh, wow, I can’t believe some of these things happened!” I read it and think, “Oh, wow, I am so glad that God trusts us enough to make decisions without Him constantly stepping in and doing it for us.”

  10. Coffinberry says:

    I’ve been lurking through the series, and find it fascinating, especially as it illuminates the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime (I can just barely remember pre-correlation Primary, etc., and the idea of correlation being the mechanism to bring again Zion is one I have heard in many places, including receiving it at BYU and later uttering it myself in stake leadership training.).

    You describe President Lee’s role in shaping these events, and I perceive that you are trying to do so factually without pronouncing a value judgment on it; nevertheless it is hard not to sense some element of (what word to use?) culpability or sort of loss arising from what was accomplished. Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that maybe in a factual description of events, no sense of divine or prophetic leadership finds a foothold; that in organizing a relatively rigid structure of scripted roles, there is no room left for charisma or the workings of the Spirit.

    Which makes my own family history an interesting counterpoint to the tale. I am a third-generation Mormon (on one line… on the other, a second-generation, born a couple years after my electrical engineer dad joined the Church in the 1960s, precisely because it was, to paraphrase his words, a logically organized and rational faith system), rooted, born, and raised outside of Utah.

    My heritage as Mormon, however, can be traced to a specific charismatic powerful experience of my mother’s father… which came at the hand of President Lee. My grandfather, a non-member but well-respected local high-school teacher, was invited to a welfare meeting to be held at Stake President Spencer Kimball’s home, which would be presided over by the then newest Apostle, Harold Lee. At the meeting, my grandfather was invited to sit beside Elder Lee. At some point, Elder Lee was speaking to the group and his hands were in motion illustrating his words, and as his hand came down in emphasis, it came in contact with my grandfather’s knee. In that moment, my grandfather had an overwhelming sensation of pure knowledge that this man, Elder Lee, was a man of God, and that Elder Lee was a representative of God on earth today.

    So, when I read the factual outward descriptions of what President Lee did that shaped the Church as I know it, I cannot help but also remember that it was the inward unseeable spiritual power which he had access to that helped lead my family into the Church.

  11. Stephanie says:

    I swear, you guys always post these when I am on my way out the door. It is killing me to have to walk away from the computer!

  12. Steve G. says:

    This is all very interesting to me as I’m 35 and have pretty much grown up with correlation my whole life. I never even realized the church hadn’t always been correlated until about 5 years ago.

    Correlation seems to have been deemphasized in some respects, yet increased in others. Stake Presidents seem to have been given more latitude in recent years as one example. Missionary efforts have moved from Stake to Ward authority. Although the SS and RS/PR manuals are becoming more correlated than ever, but missionaries no longer teach the rote discussions I struggled to memorize. It seems we have more trust in missionaries, Bishops and Stake Presidents now, but less trust in SS/RS/PR teachers.

    Nobody I know ever speaks of a Priesthood Correlation committee. That phrase has certainly been deemphasized, and yet most mormons assume all changes come straight from the 1st Presidency’s desk and shouldn’t be questioned. Does the committee still exist and its simply invisible to the rank and file?

  13. I am curious along this line of events where the idea of women giving blessings was correlated away. Was in the #7 post or before that? Do you think it had anything to do with the correlation “movement”?

  14. Well said, Alex (#9).

    I am a little shocked at the overselling of correlation – “Priesthood Correlation is what allowed the City of Enoch to be taken up into heaven.” Although I do see the need for a bureaucracy to aid in running large organizations, I am a little less sold on the saving power of said bureaucracy.

    I think that the creation of a “script” that everyone is expected to fit into creates some problems with alienation. Not everyone fits into the script, and their feelings of worth and inclusion are going to diminish as the emphasis on the script increases. Such has been my experience, anyway.

  15. mmiles, female healing is a fairly complex issue that doesn’t map exactly onto this discussion, though all these things were important events in its developmental arch. Kris and I have a paper forthcoming (hopefully by the end of the year) that traces that evolution in significant detail.

  16. Yeah, J’s and Kris’s work is an important part of the historical equation and should fill in some key gaps in the story. Really, really important work.

    Does the committee still exist and it’s simply invisible to the rank and file?

    The series isn’t over yet…

  17. Coffinberry, thanks for sharing that story about Elder Lee.

    Elder Lee was just before my time. I don’t really know that much about him but would like to know more.

  18. Stapley, would it kill ya to give a short answer instead of making everyone wait for your authoritative and exhaustive treatment? ;)

    If you don’t, I will, but you’ll be annoyed because you know more.

  19. Heh. The short answer is that, as I said in my previous comment, that all of these issues were important. The biggest things were liturgical shifts in response to outside healing, the formalization of Mormon liturgy under Grant and subsequent association of of the liturgy more intimately with priesthood. Lee’s correlation essentially made it so easy to forget.

  20. I think that’s very well put, J. Obviously, you know orders of magnitude more than I do about the specific topic, but I think you nailed it in terms of how Correlation proper fits into the picture.

  21. Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that maybe in a factual description of events, no sense of divine or prophetic leadership finds a foothold; that in organizing a relatively rigid structure of scripted roles, there is no room left for charisma or the workings of the Spirit.

    I have had similar feelings in reading these. Particularly given the great deal of emphasis on desire to seek the Lord’s will among the Fundamentalists, I can’t help but feel that there is a lack of seeking spiritual guidance within the description of the LDS Church’s activities. Brad and/or Daymon, is there a particular reason for this seeming double-standard?

  22. So the short answer is “Yes”, it played a role.

  23. Thomas Parkin says:

    (I sometimes forget who I’m dealing with here. I’ve got to remember to edit myself, even when I’m up at 5 am.)

    The other question is: the problem of how to maintain a basic doctrinal consistancy across an increasingly diverse and far flung organization is a real one. How do you do that if not with something like correlation? Then, what are the truths that can mitigate the negative aspects of correlation, and how do you disseminate those truths, to the benefit of all, with correlating them? I think the church leadership in general does a marvelous job of this, especially when you condier the bulk and unweildyness of the ship they are trying to steer.

    Loving this discussion – this has been on my mind a lot lately. ~

  24. Alex,
    Given a) the fact that this is a Mormon friendly forum and audience, and b) the enthusiasm and conviction with which Lee and his associates described the need for Correlation, the program itself, and its projected consequences, I know I assumed that the sincere desire to do God’s will on the part of LDS leaders went without saying. I did note in the OP that one way of looking at Lee’s role in the transformation is simply that he was magnifying his calling.

  25. I am with Sam B., of course – can’t respond in length now, but I think some here are making a profound confusion between the concept of a corporation and the popular culture surrounding corporations in the United States.

  26. Matt A., while there maybe a bit of hyperbole I wouldn’t say it’s overselling – especially given the context of what the leaders saw as the apostasy by fundamentalists. If the City of Enoch was One then there has to be some sort of unifying force among them. I think those leaders earnestly and ultimately correctly saw correlation as doing that. Now the criticisms are valid – at times poorly written manuals occasionally with questionable doctrine. But by and large correlation did what it needed to do. I think one could well argue that a big part of the apostasy in the early Church almost certainly would have been due to just that problem: lack of some “blood system” to provide communication to all the far flung parts.

    Steve, some of the often anti-corporate rhetoric in the US is probably affecting things. I think that sometimes discussions seem like a battle of utopian schemes with little worry about the day to day functioning of any large organization. (Of course the City of Enoch needn’t have been that big – perhaps akin to a small town today)

  27. FWIW, home teaching, as a social control mechanism, is not limited to LDS. Home or family visitation was institution by John Calvin in his mini-Zion of Geneva, and to some extent continues in some Presbyterian churches.

    Another mechanism of social control is confession, regularized (although to some extent ignored) in the Roman Catholic church, de-emphasized in many protestant churches, with a significant role in the LDS faith. See e.g., Benito Arruñada, Specialization and Rent Seeking in Moral Enforcement: The Case of Confession 48 Journal Scientific Study of Religion p 443-461) (2009)

    It seems to me that, as posited here, correlation was largely about “control”. Surveillance, like home teaching (previously called ward teaching, before that block teaching, and outlined as a home visitation program in D&C 20) is a part of “control” and social control. It is no wonder that correlation, as a control program, put renewed emphasis on home visitation as integral to that control.

    I also wonder if teachings like those in Miracle of Forgiveness, including emphasis on confession and Church discipline, were also part of correlation and “control.” Or maybe that will be in a later episode.

  28. mmiles, fair enough; but I think the simple answer to the question “Do you think it had anything to do with the correlation ‘movement’?” is always going to be “yes.”

  29. Steve,
    I think it’s possible that you’re confusing what some are doing here for the popular culture surrounding corporations in the United States.

  30. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, I think you think I’m thinking something other than what I’m thinking.

  31. Kristine says:

    mmiles, I think it’s useful to look at the question of women’s exercise of healing gifts in this context, because if it’s stuck into the “women’s history” corner, it’s easy to see misogynistic motives where none exist. Certainly there’s sexism involved in some ways, but the regulating of healing rituals is more a reaction to what was perceived as the anarchy of charismatic gifts and an attempt to move away from practices that had become “disreputable” as Mormons assimilated with the U.S.

    I think Daymon’s focus on the economy of the church, of tithing, etc. is useful here, too, because part of what I think is going on with the discontinuation of women’s exercise of charismatic gifts has to do with Mormons’ struggle to be perceived not just as American, but as *middle-class* American–highly regulated gender roles were a feature of the mainstream Protestant classes Mormons hoped to emulate.

  32. Kristine says:

    Steve, perhaps you can just tell us what you’re thinking!

  33. Steve Evans says:

    nope! too busy!!!

  34. J. Stapley,
    Thank you.

    Also thank you. I agree with you completely.

  35. Fair enough, Clark (#26). I agree that the need for good, timely, and effective communication is important, and grows more important as the scope of an organization grows. I do believe that some form of correlation was necessary for the church to survive as a multi-national entity, and I think what we ended up with has done its job reasonably well in preventing major schisms and apostasies.

    Maybe I am just quibbling over the wording, and reading too much into it.

  36. That one calls a church a corporation (rather than a church with a bureaucracy attached) is not merely some rhetorical tactic picked up from ‘popular culture’, some anti-wall-street thing I stumbled upon. The point of speaking of a corporation is to realize that capital becomes a focus point for organizing the ‘spiritual’ matters of the (future) kingdom, that certain technologies fit well within a corporate model of governance (post GM), but don’t fit well within a congregational model, for example. GM was the model for Correlation, not D&C (though it was quoted sometimes), because, as we will see, the ‘future’ and how to finance the work of the ‘future’ became the core organizational concerns that Lee (with Eldon Tanner) built and rebuilt the headquarters around. What happens on the ‘local’ level (and recall that ‘local’ is itself a notion that emerges, is not itself ‘natural’ to the universe) is another matter, which I will address in the final post.

    There is no secret criticism of Lee or of corporations, only a hope that I don’t have to spell out the past 150 years of social theory in order to talk about the church as a corporation, rather than some pie-in-the-sky community of believers.
    What is legible to a corporation, to the ‘senses’ employed therein, is what becomes recirculated as “Mormon”, and I’ll have to leave it at that for now.

    Do I see things in Mormonism differently because I have a (non-legal based) understanding of how corporations, and the works these produce in terms of human resources, capital, finance, organizational behavior, management, autonomization, digital constructs, concerns over speculating the future, marketing, PR, and the notion of a ‘market’ are all present in the church corporation? I think so. I’m not just using one word when another would do just as well, but ‘corporations’ are rather different from ‘congregations’ (I know the law can treat them as identical…I’m not talking about how courts see the difference), and surveillance is only part of the difference. Do I secretly pine for a congregational model, or believe we lost something when Lee instituted Correlation? Not really, no. I do think we should understand the differences.

    Was Nauvoo set up like this? Did they have computers, stats, finance, theories of organization, diagrams and massive expenditures, etc.? These technologies for organizing persons matter, and for more than just another, efficient way of doing the same old thing. The imagining of power and authority was different. They had a great deal of conflict, Joseph’s orders were sometimes carried out, even in the First Pres. he had opposition, and the stake presidents argued with JS over jurisdictional authority (in Nauvoo).

  37. I hope the narrative trajectory of ‘the mind’ as something now ‘public’ won’t be lost; the discursive tricks of the underground, and the schism in the 1930s, are still informing the 1960s here. Young Utah becomes Correlated Mormonism, to put it crudely. This informs how we write history, how we read scripture, how we approach the ‘public sphere’ as standing for ‘the church’ or ‘the mind’ of some speaker (do any of you doubt my sincerity, right now, for example?), (rather than the private, whisper as more ‘sincere’), how we relate to 19th c., (as we’ll see). Correlation is merely the formalization of the trajectory to treat language as merely a carrier of ideas, universal, timeless, single and necessary ideas that can be put onto charts, ‘found’ in manuals, made into plot points for ‘historical narratives,’ and ‘taught’ to members. This is, by the way, a rather ‘modern’ approach to language, though cognitive science, psychology, and the ‘scientific’ disciplines (must) operate as though this is the only aspect of language (see: arguments over the discursive history of theology in the previous post, for examples of this ‘modern’, often anachronistic approach). Language isn’t, of course, so simple or singular. But we’re getting a head of the story. I just don’t want us to forget the previous story, either.

  38. One more brief note:
    The transcripts don’t record the fact, and I think Brad would agree, that our conversations were really very light-hearted, and full of mirth. It’s good to read them in this way, I think, though perhaps Brad could include :? emoticons as a transcription character next time :(

  39. Brad,

    Thanks for the clarification. :)

  40. Steve G. says:

    38, Daymon,

    I was wondering if these conversations were from IM sessions or if they were a collaborative effort via some other means. I’m assuming whatever the medium, you guys spent some time cleaning them up for publication here, since they are so well put together.

  41. Steve,
    Brad and I recorded them digitally (we were in the same room), originally with the intention of a podcast or some other channel.

  42. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Thank you for not backing away from your use of the term “corporation” While there may be certain legal limitations of its usage, it is quite useful as a social representation. I see correlation as both an artifact of the increasing bureaucracy of the church and as a driving force of this tendency. It is this discursive quality that I see emerge out of your work, and that I find quite useful. I’ve been surprised that with all the discussion of corporations (mostly in the comments) nobody has used the term “corporate” in a descriptive manner. If we take structure seriously we see that structure reproduces itself through meaning. The church as corporation yields a corporate culture of meaning, one that rewards behavior that reflects that culture. I think this is clearly evident in the practical, day-to-day actions of members at all levels in the bureaucracy.

  43. The use of the term “surveillance” to describe home teaching is a little too Orwellian for my taste. Most home teachers I know are perfectly happy to make friends with the families they home teach, see if they have anything they might need assistance with, throw in a short thought for good measure, and occasionally report back about any special needs. It is usually the quorum presidencies and the bishopric that worry about worthiness, participation and the like.

    One another note, with regard to local autonomy, I think the equalized ward budget program played at least as significant part in reigning in local autonomy as anything correlation ever did. Now of course the total financial burden on the members is lower than it once was, but on the other hand ward and stake budgets getting allocated directly from headquarters leads to a much greater degree of centralization than in the past, especially when the allocated ward and stake budgets are so small that there isn’t the slightest leeway for discretionary expenditures about anything.

  44. Kristine says:

    The equalized ward budget is part of correlation, or, at least, it could never have worked without correlation.

  45. Mark D.,
    I agree that in practice home teachers don’t really conduct surveillance, but if you’ve seen the original manuals (I have one), there were schedules of questions, and elaborate forms and questionnaires that make the census look like an internet poll. Of course, the purpose of speaking of surveillance is not whether any actual eye is watching, but rather that as another commenter elaborated, the important effect is self-surveillance, a sort of constant recognition of a presence to which one is accountable. That effect can be achieved regardless of actual success in planned surveillance. And the ward budget indeed played an important part in centralization, as you point out.

  46. With Correlation, all charisma/workings of the Spirit assumed to come from the Brethren. Little room remains for individual charisma at the local stake/ward/family leadership levels. A re-reading of Nibley’s Leaders v. Managers talk is now on my immediate future agenda.

  47. I have a copy of the original Priesthood Correlation Home Teaching manuals as well – awesomeness. Much better than the Mormon Reformation incarnation.

  48. Paul, I am not sure I follow exactly what you mean in saying there is little room for charisma or workings of the Spirit in families. I am not disputing or agreeing with you here–just hoping for more specifics.

  49. Stapley,
    we could do some serious home teaching now.

  50. Paul, why do you say that? I’m trying to think of what normal function of a ward where charisma is cut off. Unless you’re being a bit unclear and mean charisma ala the charismatic Evangelical movements (i.e. speaking in tongues and so forth) But if you mean by charisma the more normal sense of highly personalable charismatic leadership then that’s quite regular in many wards. What correlation allows is wards to function where you don’t have someone with such a charismatic personality.

    Getting to home teaching, I’d lay really good odds that home teaching statistics weren’t much better then than now. And the basic function is the same now: communicating back to the bishop families who have special problems, needs and the like. The problem with home teaching is that most home teachers are pretty ineffective: with or without a checklist.

  51. Kristine, I actually remember when the equalized budgets came into play. It wasn’t that long ago. I agree it required correlation. But then a lot of efficiencies like that required correlation. While someone else had brought up the City of Enoch quip as overselling I actually think that’s a good example of the problem. Before the equalization I had been in wards with barely functional buildings and then in wards with beautiful rockwork and pipe organs. There was a lot of inequity in worship until that equalization took place. (I don’t remember the date, but I want to say it happened while I was on my mission in 88)

    I remember our wardhouse, before that, where we the members were doing all sorts of fundraising just to be able to have a place to meet. I distinctly recall stuffing envelops. Of course that hands on involvement with the building is something that is missing now. So there are always pluses and minuses for everything.

    The other interesting thing was the standardization of buildings. Once again it went through a “growing period.” I remember a lot of buildings built with Utah plans and specs in Canada (which gets a lot colder) which ended up with burst pipes and the like and millions of dollars of repairs.

  52. Kristine says:

    Clark, I’m the same age as you, and have similar experiences. That I come to different conclusions should not, in this case, be taken as evidence of my need to be educated by someone older and wiser.

    There’s still plenty of inequity in buildings, as a quick drive through Alpine and Highland to American Fork will demonstrate.

  53. Jumping in late here, but I just want to say how much I’ve appreciated and enjoyed this series. I feel as though I’ve learned a lot and broadened my perspective. Thank you both for putting this together.

  54. Umm. I don’t think I was doing that Kristine. (If it came off that way it certainly wasn’t intended) My point was just more that you had the case – especially in Utah where one building was costing twice as much as an other simply because the community was rich. That’s not good for a religion preaching equality.

  55. Kristine says:

    Right, but people still resisted giving all the control of their budgets and building funds to SLC. It’s easy to imagine that if Correlation had not already gotten people used to the idea of explicit and detailed instruction in policy (as well as doctrine) coming out of SLC, that resistance would have been more substantial. (That there is still some resistance and attempts at local exceptionalism can be attested by the varying quality of chapels built in rich and poor communities now).

  56. I confess I just don’t see that varying quality. Indeed, as I tried to suggest, the problem has been almost the other direction. Too much uniformity. The deciding factor, if there is any, tends to be size of the congregation. But in terms of quality, I’ve been in pretty poor areas and they have those same (fairly expensive) oak trim and the like everywhere. Somewhat unnecessarily in my opinion.

  57. Is it correlation that provides a ward organizational chart that includes a “ward mission leader” in my Wasatch Front ward with no non-members and one inactive brother-who has the authority to buck the chart?

  58. Clark,
    my question is, why would there be a ward where “normal charisma is cut off”? Should that really be a group of Mormons, where the gifts of the spirit are absent?
    Second, to call the gifts of the spirit “evangelical” in a covert effort to position the commenter as ‘fringe’, perhaps, fails to see that for the first hundred years of Mormonism, these gifts were not ‘evangelical’. I’m getting into territory where my dissertation intentionally avoided, namely, ‘native’ phenomenological readings of the presence or absence of god (the spirit, authority, whatever). I have no anthropological methods to decide something like this, of course.

  59. My interest in Correlation is how it offers to diagram ‘natural’ relationships, in the mind, in the ward, in heaven. Those ‘natural’ relations, discovered time and again by members of the various Correlation committees, also revealed that correlation is the most natural of things, and thus, provided a theory of ‘governance’, of authority and power that developed post-fundamentalist notions of priesthood in line with the new corporate concerns (in Finance and Missionary Depts). It doesn’t matter whether a ward fails to implement post-correlation materials. These are regarded as natural by the headquarters, and divine in their source. A ward which really resisted would simply be regarded as a Phase I group, not yet correlated as a Phase III, and thus, still confirming the ‘naturalized’ logic developed under Correlation.

    Correlation committees did this ‘discovering’ using the means available at the headquarters, among which language was fairly prominent (and I don’t mean to ‘communicate’ the ideas of correlation, but rather to project by analogy a timeless realm of pre-correlated ‘ideas’ from the use of abstract nouns which followed the theological changes I document). Correlation is still going strong, into new fields. Whether wards ‘run’ the programs is, from my perspective, entirely beside the point (see Phase I above). Even in the comments above, which might take shots at the lack of implementation locally, they do indicate the ward leaders and members react against post-Correlation materials. It is not avoided just because one passively refuses, for instance, to go hometeaching. Ward members cannot but use, rely, and develop post-Correlation materials, organizational logic, budgeting, and, as we’ll see, readings of ‘history’ and ‘scripture’. The dissertation lays this all out very carefully.

  60. I agree in principle about the preparatory works of Correlation regarding the ward budgets (1990 was the year for this change, I believe), but as a corporation sole it really wouldn’t matter if congregations refused. They could be reclassified as Phase I, and the funds they’d come to rely on from headquarters would be pulled. It would be interesting to see if such ‘devolution’ indeed occurs, though it would be read in terms of declining membership (‘passive resistance’) in the ward-branch-group.

  61. Daymon, (#58), I guess my question would be that those who focus on a certain manifestation of charisma also tend to unduly limit what the gifts of the spirit are. I’m probably the least charismatic person around (in the normal sense of the term) but I notice immediately gifts of the spirit in the callings I’ve had. I think we’re all familiar with the Bishop who is released saying he noticed gifts disappearing. And that is a very common story in Mormondom. I can think in my own life where I’d say intellectual gifts were gifts of the spirit and I could discern immediately when they left.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that I dispute the premise some put forward. I think the gifts of the spirit are very dominant in most wards — which is not to say every person has them. I think the most common example of a spiritual gift are teachers who are able to teach with the spirit. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that teaching is a place where wards fall down the most (although I suspect that would have been just as true in the 19th century) but it’s also a place where you can most easily see large spiritual manifestations that everyone takes for granted.

    Once again I guess what I’m saying is that the very way gifts of the spirit are framed tends to see them in a narrow way and quite at odds with how D&C 46 presents the gifts. If we reduce the gifts to speaking in tongues then I think there is inherently a problem.

  62. Good point, Daymon, about ward financing. I’m more curious as to what would happen if a ward tried to sneak in a pipe organ against correlation wishes. (I suspect this has happened at times) Further I’d like to know when the correlation decides such things are appropriate. For instance the big Stake Center by the Provo temple built about 15 years ago managed to snag one and I’m not sure of the criteria. I know there was some controversy about it. While it’s not directly related to your thesis, those issues about funds and buildings have always intrigued me.

  63. Steve G. says:

    Ward meetinghouses are correlated. The church has an Architecture/Engineering Department that keeps prototype drawings up to date. The church then hires an architect who modifies the plans to meet local building codes and any special conditions on the site that need to be resolved. The local architect is strongly encouraged to not deviate much. The Stake President chooses the colors. For interior the S.P. gets a pallette of different carpets, sisal, woodwork to choose from and hopefully the architect is asked his advice. For the exterior, the architect is also involved, but the S.P. is the final voice.

    After the building gets built , but before the dedication, the church architects and engineers show up for an audit. They are very thorough and comb over the building in fine detail, taking pictures of concerns or deviations from the prototype and noting them in thier PDAs. At the end of the audit, they pull all their notes together, throw together a presentation from the laptop, and score the building. During the presentation they ask the architect why he deviated from the plan/colors/whatever and if he can defend his changes they modify the score. At the end they give you a CD of the results along with your final score. A low score may mean you don’t get hired again.

    This is all first-hand experience and has occurred for 3 of my buildings. While I never scored so low as to throw up red flags in Church Headquarters, it is a grueling experience to say the least.

  64. Leonard and Allen’s, The Story of the Latter day Saints, mentions that in the 60’s the church hired management consulting firms to suggest ways to improve the organizational structure of the church–one of the two consulting firms was Safeway Stores. Do you know anything about what these outside reports or how they related to the correlation process.

  65. Steve, but what decides who gets a pipe organ, like the relatively recent Stake Center I mentioned? I remember when it was built (my singles ward met in it not long after) and I was shocked it had a pipe organ given the changes with the building funds. Admittedly the pipe organ is no where near as nice as the one in my current ward house – but that’s a chapel that looks built in the late 70’s early 80’s (and the rest of that building isn’t as nice since it was built in the days when they just had painted cement blocks in the hallways).

  66. #64,
    the consulting firms advised the Q12 to take on management level responsibilities, while leaving the day-to-day details to line and staff. I assume what was defined as ‘management’ was according to the standards of modern corporations (approving budgets, meeting with heads in other depts and corporations, approving new plans for projects, etc.). This was a way to align the relationships among the COB and the Q12, and the Pres.Bishop. by recourse to an outside authority that could point to efficiencies to be had by such realignments. That said, of course, the involved parties would’ve presumably asked a higher authority about the changes.

  67. I think that a Stake can request to have a real pipe organ installed if they demonstrate that there is at least one real organist living in the Stake that can actually play it well.

  68. Daymon I wonder how well they took that advice. Many friends I’ve had who worked in places like film, church publications and the like said one of the big problems was various GAs coming in and micromanaging various aspects based on their pet concerns. It’s not that they minded GA involvement, but when you get too many doing that it’s kind of production by committee which tends to be inherently problematic. And, it would seem, quite at odds with what the consulting firms advised.

  69. Steve G. says:


    Part of the whole audit process the church does is also their way of training architects on what they consider excessive changes to the standard plans. They have a series of photos they have collected of these anomalies and a pipe organ was one of them. Its been a few years, but I think the picture they showed me was from a chapel in Oregon. So to answer your question, nobody should be getting pip organs for an ordinary meetinghouse these days.

    Some of the changes I made which I got dinged for, were replacing the vinyl fencing mechanical screens for masonry screens. I hate the vinyl screens, which at the time had just made an appearance on the prototype plans. The church architects even agreed that they looked nicer, but they had an issue with the cost.

    I should add that the church plans and specs are about the most complete set of drawings I have ever seen or used. Nobody’s drawings can compare to those. We use their specs as a starting point for writing our own because they are so detailed and complete.

  70. One of my favorite things about visiting different denominations around the world is the different character their buildings and congregations take – essentially taking the core of their beliefs and localizing things to fit their needs.

    There is a lot missing from our Church because of the homogenized building program, the manuals, etc. I miss it.

  71. Pipe organ in a building in Oregon sounds like the church on the east side of Eugene. Think it was the 4th ward which we attended in 76 and 77 after having to leave the student ward.

    Organist was on the faculty at the UofO School of Music and he knew how to crank it.

  72. I believe that there is a pipe organ in the stake center to the south of us (J Stapley’s stake), but it is adjacent to the Seattle Temple, and the whole building, while a standard plan, has a sense of being a bit more upscale and polished.

    Some folks I knew in the building trades when the first correlated building designs were coming out told me that in many cases, the cost of identical new buildings dropped by up to 25% because of economies of scale, less dithering about changes, etc, and really saved the church a lot of money starting in the 70’s.

  73. Church buildings are one thing that have been the most able to be correlated because they’re almost totally within the control of the church’s building department. Ideally, there will be no local member input.

    And though members can ignore correlated manuals they can’t really change correlated buildings once they’re built.

  74. The key message an LDS building sends to a local member is that it (the builiding) is part of the unified worldwide church brand. So any individual building may not be great (in fact none of them may be great) but taken together they are part of a great, unified (and to long term members) familar world-wide institution.

    Part of the brand is utilitarianism, modesty and egalitarianism. And ease of maintenance.

  75. Kristine says:

    Alex (67), alas–not anymore. The Cambridge, MA stake is about to get a new building with a completely inadequate organ, despite having a fairly high concentration of excellent organists and regularly sending its alums to MoTab.


  76. Part of the correlation effect is to reduce loyalty to any particular ward building so ward boundaries can be changed, buildings can be sold, and members can be shifted from building to building without any sense of loyalty to a particular building.

    This doesn’t work perfectly, some buildings end up a little nicer than others and there are handful of lovely historic chapels, but in general, the aesthetics of the church builiding has very little impact on where a particular member chooses to attend church.

  77. My Dad’s first job was tuning and maintaining the pipe organs and pianos in church buildings around the country. I’m now going to blame (give credit to) correlation for correlating him out of a job when they stopped putting pipe organs in buildings and started sourcing piano tuners locally which indirectly forced me to grow up in Idaho.

    I’m sure I’ve learned lots of other things from this series as well…

  78. last sunday, in testimony meeting, a woman spoke of travelling around the world, and attending various wards and branches in far flung places. she mentioned the fact that all buildings looked the same, and that all wards and branches around the world taught the same lessons and sang the same hymns, no matter where she was.

    all demonstrably true.

    however, what startled me was that she said all that “correlation” had an incredibly strengthening effect on her testimony. it helped her “know” the church was true.

    so i guess it’s working.

  79. funny, these building examples help me “know” to keep attending the Berkeley ward.

  80. what we need is a definition of truth that includes adherence to system-internal building codes, intellectual property adherence, and carpet installation standards, assuming, of course, such isn’t found in the D&C.

  81. Steve G. says:

    I know that the church building is true, all corners are exactly 90 degrees and all pictures are mounted at exactly 60″ above the floor. I also know the foundation to be sound, the walls moisture free, and the insulation asbestos free. The church specifications are true as long as they are copy/pasted correctly.

  82. Is the 72 item hierarchal list representing the mind of the ideal Mormon available somewhere?

  83. CChrissyy, I have to admit it was very nice to attend priesthood at Berkeley and sit beside a burning fireplace. But I don’t think there is an other chapel like that one anywhere else in the world.

  84. Carl Youngblood says:

    Danithew #8, I think this is related to humans’ knack for pattern recognition. We want so much meaning to be in everything that happens that we find it, even when it isn’t there.

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