BCC Press and priestcraft!

Scrooge-McDuck-Money-BinIt isn’t uncommon for people who sell LDS-directed products to be accused of priestcraft. As an employee of the church (through Brigham Young University) I’ve spent some time thinking about the implications of priestcraft, considering the nature of my job and source of my salary. Check out my thoughts and then please share yours.

This post was prompted by something from a comment section of a news article about one of BCC Press’s new books. Someone asked an author how they “justify” making money from a book that deals with a religious subject—a devotional work—in light of the scriptural warning against priestcraft.

The word “priestcraft” itself pre-dates the Book of Mormon. But let’s unpack its particular definition, perhaps most clearly defined in 2 Nephi 26:29:

“[God] commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men* preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.”

This verse seems to zero in on motivation and perhaps even outcome, not merely whether or not someone makes money. It seems to define priestcraft as interjecting oneself into the calculation of salvation for a price, or distracting others from the ultimate source of salvation in order to make money or build reputation.

Overall, a perpetrator of priestcraft is not seeking the welfare of Zion.

Earlier this year I was invited to a special Deseret Book banquet for authors and other people who’d worked on Deseret Book projects. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was on hand to offer some remarks. One of his observations struck me enough that I jotted down the gist of it in my phone. It seems to accord with my reading of 2 Nephi. Here’s the paraphrase I typed, bordering on word-for-word accuracy:

“Writers and publishers need a rich dose of the guidance of the spirit…It is very good to follow the scriptural advice to avoid the dangers of priestcraft…We have to trust and pray that the end result will always benefit the building of the Kingdom of God, that it will strengthen others in their desire to serve God and their fellow men.”

We know some LDS General Authorities receive money in exchange for their service to the church. Artists, authors, musicians, and all sorts of other people make money, as well (Some hardly make much at all, it should be said!) I’d like to hear from people who make money in a church-related occupation, or by selling LDS-related books, art, music, or other products. How would you reckon with a charge of priestcraft? If motivation is key, could the truth about whether someone is practicing priestcraft only be known by each individual as they search the quiet recesses of their hearts? Is there more to it?

 

*An extremely literal reading of the Book of Mormon suggests some of BCC’s authors couldn’t commit priestcraft because they aren’t men…

Comments

  1. To me the key is “set themselves up for a light unto the world”, that’s where the trouble starts. If it’s about you, and glorifying yourself, for the ultimate purpose of making money and reaping praise, then you have your answer about priestcraft.

  2. “It seems to define priestcraft as interjecting oneself into the calculation of salvation for a price” There’s probably a difference between priestcraft and what I’ve termed “The Faith Biz” (and its estranged twin “The Faith Crisis Biz”), but they are related. Priestcraft always sounds like a personality cult in which people literally just live off their “church,” but yea, is that different than a journalist or writer living off their following? Maybe not.

    “a perpetrator of priestcraft is not seeking the welfare of Zion.” I think this is a little bit off point because Zion can prosper or not, so long as the priestcrafter benefits remora-like from the process. So, does Chad Hardy’s calendar venture qualify? What about books on church history?

    The last thing I often think about on this topic is the scripture in Isaiah 55:1: “every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” which means that you shouldn’t have to pay to be saved, the gospel is not contingent on your ability or willingness to pay money to understand it or have access to salvation. This is one reason a lot of ex-Mos complain about the church requiring tithing payments to get a temple recommend. I often wondered about the early practice of selling Books of Mormon to investigators in the earliest days of the church (athough they did cost money to produce, so maybe mark-up is the issue here).

    Basically, I think Uchtdorf is probably right in saying that you have to constantly re-evaluate your motives and make sure that your heart’s in the right place. It’s just not black and white. And that was coming from someone selling a $16 picture book based on a talk he did at Women’s Conference.

  3. Happy Hubby says:

    As far as religious books, follow the brethren.

    Beyond that, all I can say is one word: “Ponderize”

  4. This is an interesting topic that personally affects me. I enjoy writing so much that I’ve tried to make a career out of it. So I don’t feel like its improper for me to get paid for my work like any other private contractor or artist. If I get paid for Decisive Battles in Chinese history book sales, I don’t see a problem in getting paid for Ancient Warfare in the Book of Mormon sales. I worry much more about having a quality book worth reading than if I’m some sort of evil priest, especially when I see the pampered cruises others writers get based on little more than fluff: http://faithpromotingrumor.com/2017/06/20/cruises-cash-byu-religious-education/

  5. Th Other Brother Jones says:

    Ponderize. FTW!

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    I agree that it’s not a black and white issue. Sometimes the difference lies in the packaging or marketing of the product. DB is notorious for marketing their products in such a way that a devout LDS customer might be made to feel less righteous, or jeopardizing their family’s salvation, if they decide not to buy them. That smacks of priestcraft to me. Also, most of their GA tomes are repackaged collections of recycled conference talks, sold for $25+ even though the source material can be looked up and read by anyone for free.

  7. Where do church magazines fit in this scheme? Obviously they are now available online for free, and I believe the cost is pretty cheap anyway and I assume subscription costs don’t really cover all the costs (I haven’t subscribed in years), but paying for access to the direct thoughts of church leaders seems…not great? Although certainly not as bad as a DB book by an apostle that I assume will directly line his pockets.

  8. I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment (“I’d like to hear from people who make money in a church-related occupation” which is not me). But I would like to toss in the discussion pot and hear responses to the “orthodoxy” challenge.

    One thing I ‘hear’ both as hints and as direct statements is that the answer to priestcraft is orthodoxy. That by-the-book faith promoting works are fine, including essentially everything from GAs. And general authorities and church employees and BYU-I/H/P faculty and staff are vetted by a temple recommend requirement and some circumspection and are therefore OK. But that heterodox or unorthodox works sold into the Mormon market (e.g., challenging theology, “real” history, what’s referred to as neo-apologetics, some plays, some visual art, and including some of BCC Press publications) are priestcraft.

  9. You would not believe the priestcraft-related excuses people have given me for not paying their Mormon history-related research bills — even from some who, to put it crudely, themselves feed from the tithing trough.

    Directly to your question, though, I can conceive of priestcraft in my profession if I were selling my findings to someone with no regard for the truth, or were myself knowingly sensationalizing history (whether in support of or as an attack on the Church) with the goal of notoriety or unjust enrichment. (I have not charged or returned retainers from clients who, I discovered midway in a project, had too little regard for truth.) But a fair exchange of my time, knowledge and access for money is not priestcraft just because it is Mormon-themed any more than it would be for a glazier on a tempke construction project or the pilot who flies a commercial plane with an apostke onboard for a speaking assignment to charge for his or her time and skill.

    On the other hand, a potential client who argues against a retainer on the grounds that he has a temple recommend and should be trusted IS, in my opinion, attempting to trade on the sacred for financial advantage and is guilty of priestcraft. I have and always will refuse to work for such people.

  10. Some cases are more cut and dry than others. A bishop who won’t give out a temple recommend unless you buy MLM junk from his wife/daughter-in-law unambiguously is committing priestcraft; hopefully, there aren’t many instances of that. Writing books is, of course, another story.

    This seems to call out for a flowchart. I am dreadful with Visio so I’m not even going try to visualize it, but here are some questions that anyone who’s in a position to commit priestcraft should ask himself:

    • Are members going to buy my product or service over that of someone else simply because of my position in the Church? (Members of the Q15 and the presidencies of the general auxiliaries almost certainly should answer yes to this one if the product is books.)
    • Does my position necessarily provide me a perspective and therefore a level of insight that another author might not have? (Unless the book concerns matters of Church policy, the answer is more likely to be no than yes–and I somehow doubt that the Church would allow GAs to write books about internal deliberations.)
    • Do I (ab)use the privilege of members’ attention to me, as given by virtue of my position, to promote my product or service? (If the answer is yes, that is unambiguously priestcraft. See also: “ponderize.”)

    I have a bit of insight here in that I work for an incumbent monopoly (a regulated electric utility), but both laws and regulations have opened up competition in some areas, and I am not allowed to make any statements that remotely could be construed as promoting utility products over those offered by third parties (e.g. rooftop solar, energy from a municipal aggregator or private Energy Service Provider). Every so often we get training reminding us of the proper ways to communicate on these issues, because the company can get in serious trouble with the Public Utilities Commission if we step out of line.

  11. Ardis: “if I were selling my findings to someone with no regard for the truth, or were myself knowingly sensationalizing history (whether in support of or as an attack on the Church)” I like this line of thought as it (in my mind if nowhere else) creates an equivalency between Truman Madsen and Grant Palmer.

  12. Christian: when you consider how many holders of temple recommends have been fairly loathsome criminals (I’m thinking of the bishop down in La Jolla who committed large-scale investment fraud, and also committed felony obstruction of justice by whisking his feckless son off to Hawaii after the son drunkenly murdered another man), it boggles my mind that anyone can say that holding a TR should be given the benefit of the doubt on anything.

    The TR isn’t a security clearance with a lifestyle polygraph; nobody except the holder and the Lord knows the contents of its holder’s heart.

  13. For me, Priestcraft is doing preaching (or other religious work) for money. In the case of a book, the purchaser still gets the book. The only time that would count as Priestcraft would be if the preacher preached that purchasing of the book is required for salvation.
    Another factor would be that someone’s income or status within the religion would be determined by the amount of donations that they were able to elicit from the congregations.

  14. I am grateful for the men and women who take time to share insights that I can use as I strive to be a disciple of Christ. It is not my place to decide what their motivation is. Judgment is a heavy burden, and I choose not to carry it unless I have to, and I haven’t had to for a long time. I wonder whether we can get so caught up in a discussion about someone else’s relationship with the Savior that we lose sight of where we are.

  15. In the last five years or so, I have written one book and around a dozen articles, and edited three other books for a Mormon audience. The total royalties on these books has been right around $900. To write these things, I have spent about $5000 of my own money on books and other research materials, taken half a dozen research trips at my own expense, and another half a dozen trips to conferences to disseminate my research and get feedback from other writers (an indispensable part of the writing process). By an extremely conservative estimate, I have incurred ten dollars in expenses for every dolar of income. And all if that income has gone into an account that I use to buy books and take trips that help with future projects.

    It is possible that I am a practitioner of priestcraft. But if I am, I am spectacularly bad at it.

  16. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I actually think it may be even more important to think beyond books and services, and focus on the Mormon kitsch that is omnipresent in formal (DB) and informal (etsy,…) markets. That’s the stuff that drives me nuts. It trades on LDS belief, practice, mythos, and identity in the pursuit of profit. It goes beyond GAs or other prominent members making money, to rank and file members bilking their coreliginists out of money. They don’t make a lot, individually, but I’m willing to wager that, collectively, it accounts for way more than book sales. And personally, getting rid of that stuff would mean family members stop sending it to me each year for Christmas.

  17. If that’s priestcraft, in what category can I put Temple Checks, “Hold to the Rod” chocolate dipped pretzel rods, fancy engraved consecrated oil containers, $120 white baptismal dresses, and the giant pink, “cinderella” poster one YW leader gave to my daughter that says, “If this is not your temple, you are not my prince.”

  18. George Watt’s Journal of Discourses, especially considering how different the published versions of Brigham Young’s speeches are from Watt’s original notes he took while Brigham spoke.

  19. If you understood the ubiquitous 19th practice of editing the spoken word prior to publication, you might be a bit more careful about slamming George D. Watt that way, Don. You do not know who did that editing, or at whose request, for just one problem with your slam, nor are you recognizing the value to the Mormon community, then and now, for Watt’s contribution to our culture of preserved sermons. Find another target for your ignorant venom.

  20. It sure is fun to call out other people for priestcraft. At least until you’re the one with something to sell. Now that BCC has a press, can we expect an apology to Jon McNaughton?
    https://bycommonconsent.com/2013/05/23/dead-serious/

  21. Thanks for this, Blair. I’m uncomfortable with the way modern Mormon discourse uses the word “priestcraft,” and you got me to think about why.

    And I think it’s basically this: in our modern usage, “priestcraft” is basically an empty epithet. It what we use to describe Mormon-related stuff that we don’t like, full stop. Which means we don’t have to engage with what we don’t like; we don’t even have to analyze or evaluate why we don’t like it. We can just dismiss it.

    And that’s not to say we need to deeply engage with art and products that we don’t like; there’s too much out there to engage with everything. But there’s got to be a better reason to dislike DB kitsch or McNaughton or GA books or, per Vern above, BCC p\Press publications, than that it’s some undefined “priestcraft.” Maybe the problem is the lack of artistic merit. Maybe it’s some kind of analytical weakness. Maybe our problem is with early-21st-century capitalism. But it strikes me as more valuable to discourse, to art, and to commerce to explain our actual problem, rather than slinging around insults that don’t actually evince any kind of careful thought.

  22. If priestcraft is charging money for salvation I’d like to throw the garment business into the ring. I know many would prefer to make their own given the cost, discomfort, and difficulty in buying.

  23. Vern: McNaughton your life!

  24. Now that BCC has a press, can we expect an apology to Jon McNaughton?

    Is Jon McNaughton a non-profit entity staffed by volunteers?

  25. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Yes, Sam, my distaste for DB kitsch is personal and not shared by many others. It also reflects a discomfort with capitalism and the exploitation of LDS cultural themes. If it’s priestcraft, it’s with a small p. It’s small potatoes, if it’s even potatoes. But Priestcraft gets tricky to identify. I see it as someone using their position (or influence) in the Church to enrich themselves. This can be financial enrichment, or status (social) enrichment, or political enrichment. It’s using others in your ecclesiatical sphere for personal gain. Sometimes it’s overt, like the time my home teacher showed up to explicitly recruit me into his MLM scheme. When I declined, he requested a HT change to another new member of the Ward, which was accommodated by his MLM friend EQ president. That’s obvious. But what about when a member of your Bishopric or Stake Presidency is running for political office and you feel pressure to support them? Or, when you need your hair colored and your Relief Society President asks that you see a woman in the Ward who has a struggling hair boutique, instead of your regular stylist? There aren’t bright lines that would define these as priestcraft, but may still be an inappropriate use of influence (even if motivated by genuine concern for someone). And what do we do with all of the Wasatch Front dentists who can make a living from only pulling wisdom teeth as a result of Church policies for missionaries? That’s a different issue, but not entirely unrelated. Anyway, I think these are important things to think through, because it’s not easily discernible.

  26. Kyle Chilton says:

    Here’s a question for you… If what the Quorum of the 12 and First Presidency say/write can be considered scripture, shouldn’t all of the books they write while in those callings be available for free (at least online)? Not saying its priestcraft or anything but it has always seemed odd to me that they or the church (through Deseret Book) would try and profit off of their words/writings. I understand why they charge for the General Conference issue of the Ensign (gotta cover printing costs) but it is also readily available for free online.

  27. Turtle Name Mack, that all strikes me as legitimately bad. At the same time, you’ve describe remarkably well why it’s bad without resorting to the word “priestcraft.” In fact, where we content with saying, My home teacher is doing priestcraft!!!1!, we’d have avoided what’s wrong about it (undue pressure, bad product, lack of personal love). Which is why I’m not a fan of using priestcraft, especially since it’s not terribly hard to see the bad parts of the actions you describe.

    Kyle, a couple thoughts in response to you. First, you’re assuming that what they say or write can be considered scripture. I’d vehemently dispute that assumption. Even if it were the case, though, we pay for scriptures if we want a physical copy. Just because something’s available for free online doesn’t mean there’s no reason to purchase it; the guiding principal underlying Patreon, for example, is that there’s value in supporting people, even if we can get their output for free. And I can find a whole lot of music on YouTube or Spotify, but that doesn’t mean there’s not value for me in paying to buy it on vinyl. So no, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with charging for something available for free online—the fact that it’s free online means it’s available to everybody (with internet access), but selling it in a different format means that, for those who prefer a different format, that, too, is available.

    And I’m not making any substantive judgment about the value of the books you’re referring to, but I don’t see any inherent contradiction in making what’s available for free also available for cost.

  28. I don’t have a problem with charging for scriptures or other things available online. If you want a physical copy of something, obviously there is a cost associated with that.

    My question is, shouldn’t anything that is written by a member of the Quorum of the 12 or Frist President be available for free online? Maybe calling their books scripture wasn’t accurate but we hear all the time that what they say is very important and that they are the Lord’s representatives (whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same). Elder Bednar just released a book has written other books that I don’t believe are available for free online. Sure, sell copies to those that like to have a physical copy. But if he is an apostle, shouldn’t the whole world have access to what he has to say for free?

    Also, what are the ethics of selling something that you know many people will buy based solely on your position as a church authority?

  29. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Also not a fan of the term priestcraft, Sam. Mostly because I think we define it too narrowly. Some of the examples are easy, and they’re the ones people latch onto (my home teaching example, Bishops not issuing recommends unless you patronize their business). But, if it’s an inappropriate use of religious influence to enrich yourself, that can be broad and encompass lots of behaviors/activities that are suspect. The typical definition of priestcraft makes it a relatively rare occurrence. I actually think it’s a much bigger problem than we want to acknowledge.

  30. Money, money, money. It’s always a problem.

  31. Also, what are the ethics of selling something that you know many people will buy based solely on your position as a church authority?

  32. (Boo, my meme didn’t work.)

    The answer is: Not great, Bob!

  33. kylechilton: I like your line of thinking here. Because we talk about Priestcraft in the church so much, I have always held the private opinion that anything you buy is not necessary for salvation. If you buy “Hold to the Rod” pretzel rods, if you buy a St. Christopher medal or a CTR ring, if you buy a book by a GA or an apostle–whatever those contain is not necessary for your salvation. Caveat Emptor.

    But there is use for devotional works, mission memoirs, monetized podcasts, psychological and history books, sociological tomes on Mormonism, etc., and people writing them should be compensated for their work based on their work’s merit (and the marketplace).

    Church leaders selling overpriced books filled with their gospel perspective is where it feels Priest-crafty to me, but then again, I just don’t buy or read such books. Why buy the book when you get 8-10 hours of it every six months for free? But I don’t begrudge others buying them. It just looks bad to me, TBH. I agree with the meme.

  34. Seminary teachers that are paid, while at the same time, volunteers serving in callings outside the Zion Curtain seem to be worst offenders.

  35. Things I don’t classify as “priestcraft”
    – Mr. Mac clothing (they sell clothing to a market- they don’t sell spirituality)
    – Modest bridal shops, white tux rental stores, etc.
    -Mormon corridor grocery stores that don’t sell cigarettes or booze (their choice)
    -Scholarly Mormon history books/papers/conferences (facts- not feelings)

    Things I classify as “priestcraft”

    -Time Out for Women. Over the past 20 years, the RS has been systematically cutting back homemaking evenings, social gatherings, cultural programs, general conference meetings, etc. Now (surprise!) there is a “market” for women to come together and (surprise!) TOFW is there- sponsored by DB. It costs $34-84 dollars per person to attend, and includes GA speakers, opening/closing prayers, LDS music, kitsch for sale, etc. I wonder why the church couldn’t simply support free regional, stake or even local women’s activities. I wonder why female GAs spend more in TOFW than they do traveling to the stakes. Oh yeah.

    -Most DB Religious books. President Monson told a story in our regional conference years ago about Talmage’s refusal to receive a penny for his work ‘Jesus the Christ’ despite the brethren assuring him it was ok. He felt the work was inspired and special and should be free. His royalties were donated to the church and he insisted it be sold at cost. I just looked it up and you can buy a $10 paperback (which is about cost), but you can also now buy expensive leather-bound versions, centennial versions, annotated versions, etc. for 3X the cost. He’d be rolling in his grave. I’ve heard that President Hinckley donated royalties from his books to the PEF after it was created. Why don’t more GAs do the same? They have a living stipend.

    -LDS Religious Art/Music. If it was created for the Lord, inspired by the Lord, it should be freely shared. The only costs should be for reproduction. The distribution center used to sell LDS-owned art for pennies, now you have to pay hundreds of dollars for poster-sized prints. Why is it that just some LDS guy out there named Spencer Mangnum puts all his LDS piano arrangements on the web for FREE because he feels LDS music is sacred and a gift from God to be shared, but GAs don’t feel that way about their conference talks repackaged into books?

    -BYU. Everything about BYU. Sorry, I know that I’m a minority in saying it, but when I read the commencement speeches by GAs, I begin to seethe. GAs tell these kids that THEY are especially chosen to be the Lord’s future leaders in the church and kingdom because THEY were the 10% who received this unique education. Sounds a lot like pay-to-play Mormonism. I know most Y employees don’t think of it that way, but don’t see how the student who couldn’t afford to come would see the institution.

    -Patriarchal blessings that used to cost money. (Surprisingly, they were amazingly vibrant and inspired though!)

    – Tithing questions for temple recommends.

    – Paul H. Dunn.

    -The fireside circuit. I don’t understand how people earn money giving firesides across the country, but evidently some places pay stipends to bring in flashy speakers.

    -The CES program. CES teachers, CES secretaries, everything CES. In our area, two women worked as early morning seminary teachers (a church calling) for 25 years. Never paid a penny. Church calling. Then, SLC sent out a CES guy who started doing it as a full-time job. The church paid him more than any teacher in our area (k-12 or undergraduate), gave him a car, etc.

    -The policy that CES directors should be put in as local leadership (bishops/ stake presidents). Yes, this was a push. There’s no distinction between that and a paid ministry.

    – Using the ward to earn money. For example, getting a moving stipend from work, pocketing the money and having the EQ move you. Or asking the EQ or HPGQ come and help build your house or do repairs for you to turn around and flip for a profit.

    -*Some* LDS church history tour guides. I was in Carthage one time when a tour guide brought his busload of people through. I watched as he walked the group through rooms, giving ‘insider’ history. He stopped to lead a prayer in one room-to “set the tone for the next door to be opened”. When in one spot- he led the group in an improvisational singing of a hymn. I felt really weird just observing that contrived experience.

    – City Creek.

  36. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    “Using the ward to earn money. For example, getting a moving stipend from work, pocketing the money and having the EQ move you. Or asking the EQ or HPGQ come and help build your house or do repairs for you to turn around and flip for a profit.”

    Seriously, this drives me nuts! We live in a Ward with lots of moves, and many of those who move out are on their way to high-paying jobs that will be giving them money for their moving expenses. EQ is there to help, not be exploited as free labor. We also had a gentleman in our Ward buy s fixer-upper that needed to be remodeled so he could rent it out for supplemental income. But, he didn’t have the money for the remodel and expect his EQ brothers to help. Not cool. This isn’t priestcraft, as it wasn’t an abuse of one’s position of authority. It was just plain abuse, and exploitation.

  37. My previous EQ Prez shared my opinion that if you can afford to drop more than half a mil to buy a new construction house (the going rate in my corner of the world), you can afford to hire movers for your heavy furniture.

    And then the first counselor in the bishopric moved up from his 1980s “snout house” (look it up) to a 50% larger house in a new development in our ward…and wouldn’t you know, he asked the EQ for movers, and the EQP put out the call, and a small army of men with wives and children and plenty of good things to do with a Saturday morning came to move the first counselor’s furniture.

    Is it priestcraft? Maybe. Is it unrighteous dominion? You better believe it.

  38. If a person is deciding between a carrier as a preacher vs. a carrier as a salesman, and picks preacher, that’s Priestcraft. If a preachers motivation for giving a sermon on tithes is not based on a sincere desire to help bring people closer to God, but wants more money himself, or (for example) for the purpose of building a steeple taller than the steeple across the street; that is Priestcraft.
    An artist created and selling religious themed art; not Priestcraft.

  39. sidebottom says:

    We might also consider what worldly impulses lead us (collectively) to be willing to buy a $75 leatherbound copy of Jesus the Christ. DB wouldn’t market this kind of garbage if there wasn’t a market for it.

  40. We moved from a tiny house in one ward to a much larger in another. We did it all ourselves (using our own/family trucks and trailers) and the EQ from our old ward showed up to help load in force and then about ten of the guys drove over to our new house to help unload. We totally could have paid for the help if needed, but chose not to do so. That the EQ was willing to help was a huge gift of friendship that I really appreciated. I think with that though, my husband *always* went to help other families. I never felt like we were taking advantage. The taking advantage happens when someone lets the ward move them, but then doesn’t show up to help the next couple years of families coming and going. When everyone pitches in though, it’s a rather kindly way to build our community.

    *I will add that my hubby hates above all things when he shows up to move someone and the family hasn’t packed yet. Barring emergency moves, asking ward members to pack you is just plain wrong.

  41. “…priestcrafts are that men* preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.”

    Why is gain always defined as monetary gain? There are certainly other ways to gain from setting oneself up as a light to others. One can gain in influence, prestige/social prominence, or one can enable one’s own tribe to gain in some way. I think the key phrase is that they “seek not the welfare of Zion.”

    If we do something to gain prestige or to look good for others, and fail to seek the welfare of others, we’re on thin ice.

  42. Mortimer,

    I came looking for this subject after looking at a mailer I received for TOFW. It certainly reeks of priestcraft to me. The Mormon celebrity group charging to hear their improved versions of church talks and lessons. Granted I haven’t been to one of these, except for a “When Life Gets Hard” seminar my friend wanted me to go to.

  43. Anon for this one says:

    I thought I might put out a shingle as a testimony counselor–something I’ve had some success with. After all, we have marriage counselors, pornography counselors, and all kinds of other counselors and therapists. Unfortunately, my Stake President reminded me THAT would be priestcraft. Dang. I was so hoping for a better gig.

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