PR Misdirection

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Roy
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PR Misdirection

Post by Roy » 09 Oct 2018, 11:55

That's not getting lost on your way to Puerto Rico. This is about the public relations explanations for church changes that seem to ignore any practical reasons for the change.

Often when undergoing a faith crisis there is a feeling of betrayal. There is often much in the history of the church that is omitted or misrepresented. I believe that individuals can be charitable with the leaders of the church on this one. They are not trained historians. They may have grown up hearing and believing the same whitewashed telling of events that we are now finding less than fully truthful.

One area that continues to frustrate me is the reasons given for policy changes in the church almost always feel like a snow job or shell game.

From the discontinuation of Janitors, the discontinuation of non-geographical student wards, the age change for missionaries, the POX, to the corrected name of the church - I feel like spiritual reasons are presented, sometimes presented as revelation, and the temporal practical reasons are either downplayed as an afterthought or dismissed altogether.

As an administrator in business, I can understand and even defend administrative decisions to address problems present in the current environment (legal, political, demographic shifts, etc.)

Again and again I feel like the church does not trust its membership to explain the non-spiritual reasons. Perhaps the church is just hyper vigilant of critics and wishes to obscure the non-spiritual reasons for changes in order to act as a buffer (after all, people can find fault with your logical reasons for making changes - it is much more difficult to argue with one's spiritual reasons). Perhaps by not going on the record about stated reasons now the door is kept open to adjusting the purpose in hindsight (like how the purpose for Zion's camp shifted from restoring Mormon settlements in Missouri to acting in hindsight as a leadership training ground for the nascent church body).

Regardless of the reasons, it makes me feel that the church leadership continues to be misleading about topics and motivations where they have first hand knowledge (they know that they are not telling the whole story). This makes it hard to regain trust.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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mom3
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by mom3 » 09 Oct 2018, 12:24

I hear you. I use the PRethren as my name for them. I can't always tell which side is driving the program.

The present overuse of "revelation" just adds to the distrust.

Is every thought revelation? The November Policy shed particular light on this for me. Originally it was a procedural hand book decision, based on old polygamist rules. Then RMN speaks at a YA fireside and suddenly it's revelation similar to Blacks and the Priesthood. What?

Don't even get me started on the Name of the Church change. According to the present telling of the tale, God is offended by "Mormon". Really? In all the painful, horrid things happening in this world at this time, God has been holding a grudge or offense with us for 150+ years. That is one wimpy God to me.

I prefer black and white in the arena of communication. Give me the facts, let me make my own decisions.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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nibbler
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by nibbler » 09 Oct 2018, 12:25

Roy wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 11:55
I feel like spiritual reasons are presented, sometimes presented as revelation...
I think we're seeing this for the same reason I think we have this jewel of a quote in OD1:
The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.
Members of the church might blow off directions from their leader but it the lord won't allow a prophet to lead people astray or if the utterance is declared a "revelation" then it's no longer something the community can ignore. You either toe the line or you are against god, because that's really what we're doing with that kind of language - it's an appeal to the highest authority. No one can question whether it's the leader speaking as man or as prophet, it's revelation. It's not man's will, it is god's will.

This word carries a lot of baggage, I call that out to soften how I'm going to use it, presenting things this way is a form of manipulation.
You can't break what's broken already.
- LeAnn Rimes

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SilentDawning
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by SilentDawning » 09 Oct 2018, 20:06

Roy wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 11:55
Again and again I feel like the church does not trust its membership to explain the non-spiritual reasons. Perhaps the church is just hyper vigilant of critics and wishes to obscure the non-spiritual reasons for changes in order to act as a buffer (after all, people can find fault with your logical reasons for making changes - it is much more difficult to argue with one's spiritual reasons). Perhaps by not going on the record about stated reasons now the door is kept open to adjusting the purpose in hindsight (like how the purpose for Zion's camp shifted from restoring Mormon settlements in Missouri to acting in hindsight as a leadership training ground for the nascent church body).

Regardless of the reasons, it makes me feel that the church leadership continues to be misleading about topics and motivations where they have first hand knowledge (they know that they are not telling the whole story). This makes it hard to regain trust.
Amen -- there is this desire to keep this illusion of spiritual grandiosity for everything. But get close to its temporal wellsprings, and you learn temporal matters are a BIG DEAL in the church. I think my testimony would be a lot stronger if they had've been more forthright about how temporal they really are from the get-go. And by the way saying "all things are spiritual" doesn't help -- for me, that's a cop-out.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 09 Oct 2018, 20:12

Roy wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 11:55
One area that continues to frustrate me is the reasons given for policy changes in the church almost always feel like a snow job or shell game...From the discontinuation of Janitors, the discontinuation of non-geographical student wards, the age change for missionaries, the POX, to the corrected name of the church - I feel like spiritual reasons are presented, sometimes presented as revelation, and the temporal practical reasons are either downplayed as an afterthought or dismissed altogether.

Regardless of the reasons, it makes me feel that the church leadership continues to be misleading about topics and motivations where they have first hand knowledge (they know that they are not telling the whole story). This makes it hard to regain trust.
I think this is true in some cases but personally I don't think the push to use the full Church name was ever meant to be practical from a temporal perspective. Nelson talked about the same basic idea way back in the April 1990 General Conference and gave the same reason as now that he felt like it was important because this is what it said the Church should be called not just what it should be named in the D&C. I don't see why any further ulterior motives are really needed to sufficiently explain what we see here. The Church definitely teaches people to take scriptures literally to a large extent and interpret their feelings or impressions as having special meaning and for some leaders this type of thing could easily be amplified by their callings and long service to the Church. Nelson admitted many of the objections to the idea but it sounded like he honestly thought that's what the Lord wanted so that's why it was "not negotiable" in spite of all these reasons it doesn't make much sense to many people.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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dande48
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by dande48 » 10 Oct 2018, 07:49

To be fair, I believe President Nelson believes it's "revelation". If there are practical reasons for the changes, God brought them to Nelson's mind (however He does), and gave His stamp of approval for the change by making Nelson feel good about it. But there's a sharp difference between our beliefs and the practical effects of those beliefs. For example, it's very practical to frame instructions as God given revelation, because the Church membership is more likely to follow. Hence, a Church will have more success when claiming God given revelation.

I like to apply just about everything through the lens of biological evolution. The species that survive, are the ones with the traits most fit for survival. That doesn't mean the traits are "good" or "moral" or that the creatures have an accurate view of reality. All traits that cause a species to survive are practical; but that doesn't mean they are chosen because they are practical. Religion is the same way (also business). Religions don't prosper because they are "good", "accurate" or "true". They prosper because they have traits which are effective. And when the traits are no longer effective, or "mutations" happen which are disadvantageous, the religion will either change or die. No matter how "true" the Church is, it would not have prospered, if it hadn't the traits which lead to its success. In fact, I'd say the truthfulness of a religion has NOTHING to do with it's success and continued survival. And just like with biological evolution, that doesn't mean those traits are good for all members of that particular species (Drone bees and male hyenas come to mind).

One of the reasons the early Church was so successful, was because of it's revelatory claims. God has an answer for everything, through the prophet Joseph Smith. God also then confined such revelation to the priesthood, specifically to the president/prophet of the Church. This gives the prophet, and the prophet alone, the ability to receive revelation for the entire world, on any topic, at any time. President Nelson is our prophet. We expect him to give us revelation. He expects to receive revelation. Hence, everything he says, in the moment he says it, is God given revelation. If God has practical reasons, so be it, but God's ways aren't our ways. If God inspires Nelson through graphs and data, so be it. It's still revelation (even when it's not).

... At least until God gives revelation to a future prophet that the old revelation was really just personal opinion and speculation. :twisted:
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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SilentDawning
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by SilentDawning » 15 Oct 2018, 07:37

I tend to agree on the name change. All the other items Roy mentioned seem to have an underlying practical reason that serves the naked temporal interests of the church. But the name change...that is different. In modern times, we have the internet with URL's that need to be easily accessible.

www.thechurchofjesuschristoflatterdaysaints.com is a mouthful. It won't fit easily on public relations materials. And it's just WAY too long. The cost of a name change for a large, global organization is also astronomical. That one doesn't make sense temporally. It seems way impractical to be self-interested. The only way I can see it being "practical" is that the name Mormon has so much baggage with it President Nelson is trying to give us a fresh look with a name change. And the long form name is the only choice he has given the Doctrine and Covenants.

And even then, simply changing the name of an organization doesn't change the organization or its history. Granted, President Nelson has made some pretty big, positive changes -- I'll admit that -- but our history remains, and most of the baggage with it.

So, I see President Nelson's name change as the most "purely" motivated change he's made. The other's, I hate to say it but I'm pretty cynical given my life's experiences in the Mormon church...I have to temper my thoughts with that self-knowledge, sadly.

Personally, I think Pres Nelson would be wholly justified in receiving a new revelation that changes the name of the church to something shorter and more Christ-centered. Something that says, in the appropriate language, that given God's dispensation of knowledge in the fulness of times, and changes in the way humanity communicates, the name of the church is now to be .....and then call it "Christ's Church" or some other name that fits easily in people's memory's, is easy to type, and short enough to remember in URL's...

As we've seen, people are starved for change, and a revelation like this, added to our scriptures would be welcome by most people. Also, it's an opportunity for everyone to buy new scriptures from Deseret Book :)
Last edited by SilentDawning on 15 Oct 2018, 09:15, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

Roy
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by Roy » 15 Oct 2018, 09:02

SilentDawning wrote:
15 Oct 2018, 07:37
I tend to agree on the name change. All the other items Roy mentioned seem to have an underlying practical reason that serves the naked temporal interests of the church. But the name change...that is different.
My current theory is that the church was having a problem of being the biggest organization associated with the nickname Mormon yet not really having any control over the use of the word. I think a perfect example was when Church officials would say "There is no such thing as a Mormon fundamentalist or a Mormon Polygamist." I also suspect that there are no end to the list of things that use the the word "Mormon" that the church would not approve of. The church has no legal recourse. The only thing that they can do is distance the church from the word Mormon until maybe in 100 years the it will be like polygamy is now ("we haven't believed in that for generations!").

It is possible that every time someone used the word Mormon inappropriately (Like maybe the irreverent and profane play "Book of Mormon") that Elder Nelson would cringe and perhaps think to himself that if we had just ripped off the band-aid 16 years ago when he first brought it up then we would be well on our way by now.

But (If my theory holds true) then President Nelson did not want to explain the practical reasons for the name emphasis and instead went with the revelation card followed by the somewhat strange "Mormon = Victory for Satan" card.

Full disclosure: My theory is based upon my speculation. It makes sense to my mind. However, I do acknowledge that if an individual searches for practical motivations behind any "revelation" 1) they will likely be found and 2) the existence of practical benefits does not prove anything one way or the other.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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SilentDawning
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Re: PR Misdirection

Post by SilentDawning » 15 Oct 2018, 09:11

Roy wrote:
15 Oct 2018, 09:02
Full disclosure: My theory is based upon my speculation. It makes sense to my mind. However, I do acknowledge that if an individual searches for practical motivations behind any "revelation" 1) they will likely be found and 2) the existence of practical benefits does not prove anything one way or the other.
I believe practical benefits will normally be found -- most of the time. But I believe the leaders sincerely believe in spiritual reasons, some of the time.

But the part in bold -- I think the practical reasons do allude to certain things.

1. The church, although a heavenly organization, is as temporal as other temporal organizations. That really hurt my commitment years ago, badly.
2. As you say, the leadership won't trust the membership with the practical reasons; they feel this pressure to maintain this image of spiritual grandiosity, so they downplay all the temporal reasons.
3. Their lack of transparency shows a general divide between the membership and the leaders that affects some of us.

There are members who will say "it's not my place to question" or "I follow the prophet" and leave it at that. But when faith or commitment is shaken, the leaders' lack of full transparency can become a cause for disillusionment. So, the effects are certainly not benign for certain segments of the membership.

Take for example, two hour church. I love the change, but only because I find church boring. It has been clothed as evidence of the last days where people are expected to take responsibility for teaching the gospel in the home. I honestly think the real reason is to relieve stress on buildings. You can have four wards in one building with two hour church. That's a lot harder with 3 hour church.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

Roy
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Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: PR Misdirection

Post by Roy » 15 Oct 2018, 09:30

dande48 wrote:
10 Oct 2018, 07:49
I like to apply just about everything through the lens of biological evolution. The species that survive, are the ones with the traits most fit for survival. That doesn't mean the traits are "good" or "moral" or that the creatures have an accurate view of reality. All traits that cause a species to survive are practical; but that doesn't mean they are chosen because they are practical. Religion is the same way (also business). Religions don't prosper because they are "good", "accurate" or "true". They prosper because they have traits which are effective. And when the traits are no longer effective, or "mutations" happen which are disadvantageous, the religion will either change or die. No matter how "true" the Church is, it would not have prospered, if it hadn't the traits which lead to its success. In fact, I'd say the truthfulness of a religion has NOTHING to do with it's success and continued survival. And just like with biological evolution, that doesn't mean those traits are good for all members of that particular species (Drone bees and male hyenas come to mind).
This was an important concept for me to wrap my head around. I think I had conflated "survival of the fittest" with "success and blessings for the chosen/worthy." The Adam/Eve narrative was a big part of my misunderstanding. Because humans rose to the top of the food chain it can be easy to think that we deserve (by birthright and/or by hard work) to be dominant. One explanation that helps me to keep these concepts separate is that if the environment filled up with nitrogen and only a few species of insects survived, then those bugs would have lived because they were the "fittest" for the new environment. They were not "Chosen". They were not particularly "Worthy."

I too see parallels between biological evolution and other fields.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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