A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

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mfree6464
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A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by mfree6464 » 07 Mar 2019, 13:13

Does it ever feel like it's all just a big spiritual ponzi scheme to any of you? I had trouble sleeping last night (life continues to be very difficult) and this analogy came to mind. I paid in and sacrificed for so many years when life was relatively good. My thinking was (and this was taught to me various times in some form or another at church) that if I can fill that spiritual piggy bank now with good works and gratitude then God will be there for me when I inevitably need him later in life. Conversely, if I pridefully choose to mess around and take things for granted then the piggy bank will be empty and I will be unworthy to receive God's help, comfort and guidance when needed. Additionally, (furthering the ponzi scheme idea) each time I went in for a Bishop's interview or met with leaders I was reassured that my actions were indeed in line with God's will and that the bank statement, if you will, on my spiritual piggy bank was looking great. According to my leaders, God was pleased and my piggy bank was indeed full. Then when it finally came time for me to cash in and ask for God's help, I broke open my spiritual piggy bank only to find it was completely empty.

For me, from the moment real challenges came into my life God has been completely AWOL. It was great when I needed help solving question #8 on my 10th grade math test, but in the challenges I've faced these past few years where divine help was (and still is) absolutely needed he seems to be non-existent.

For every conference talk that reaffirms how difficult life can and will be, there seem to be 10 more conference talks that tell "faith-promoting" stories of how obedience kept people safe and spared them unnecessary suffering. I'm confused and not sure what to make of it.
Last edited by mfree6464 on 07 Mar 2019, 14:30, edited 1 time in total.

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dande48
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by dande48 » 07 Mar 2019, 14:21

I was hanging out with my sister the other day, and we got on the topics of MLMs (which are Ponzi Schemes). She mentioned how in our home stake, a certain Essential Oil MLM has become an epidemic problem. People are dumping their savings, foregoing health insurance, always pushing product... and I told her how we had a similar issue on my mission with hispanics and the MLM herbalife, where they'd spend money they didn't have, end up with all this product they couldn't sell, and several thousand in debt... which to us would sting, but their poverty made it even worse. Then she mentioned (she'd a TBM, BTW), how members of the Church seem particularly susceptible to MLMs. I pointed out it's probably because they share many of the same techniques as religions, which she didn't like.

I meant no offense, since if the Church were true, and eternal salvation and happiness depended on believing in the right sort of things, it doesn't matter how you reach those right conclusions. If someone vaccinates their kids, despite having a complete misunderstanding of how vaccines work, and were convinced through internet memes... well, at least their kids won't die from the measles. But my point is, those social psych techniques are used, not because they lead to "truth", but because they're effective.

I do wish there were more talks on coming to peace with our challenges; that even if the very worst were to happen, it's ok. We'll make it through. Or even if we don't, the universe will carry on. For all its virtues, the Church doesn't do a very good job at helping people accept the facts of life; good fortune sometimes comes to bad people (and good). Awful fortune sometimes comes to good people (and bad). Oftentimes, for "no good reason". Life has its good moments, but sometimes it's really going to beat you up. You're never going to be certain of anything. And then you're going to die. And that's ok. :smile:
"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

Roy
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by Roy » 07 Mar 2019, 15:10

mfree6464 wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 13:13
Does it ever feel like it's all just a big spiritual ponzi scheme to any of you?
To me the gospel that I sometimes hear at church is akin to an insurance policy. This is perhaps a different form of the prosperity gospel. Instead of wealth and success raining down from heaven, the Mormon prosperity Gospel is more often about mitigating potential disasters. Thus, I feel the comparison to the insurance policy is appropriate.
It was when a tragedy struck my family and I was shocked and reeling that I tried to take a closer look at my own proverbial policy. What had gone wrong? Did the lord fail me or did I fail the lord? Between personal study and discussion with local church leaders I discovered that the "small print" gives so much wiggle room and prevarication as to make the entire contract entirely unenforceable.

I now believe that there are many advantages that Mormon lifestyles that can serve to help mitigate personal and family disasters. Lives of thrift, self reliance, food storage, emergency funds, and communal banding together can be huge lifesavers. I also believe that the state of believing that God had my back helped my younger self to be more bold, determined, and confident than I otherwise would have been. These are traits that can usually help individuals go farther and accomplish more than they otherwise would have. However, there are no guarantees. Life and misfortune happen to all.
mfree6464 wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 13:13
For every conference talk that reaffirms how difficult life can and will be, there seem to be 10 more conference talks that tell "faith-promoting" stories of how obedience kept people safe and spared them unnecessary suffering. I'm confused and not sure what to make of it.
It bothers me that we seem so hyper-focused on faith promoting success stories. I believe that it tends to squeeze out those of us that cannot interpret our life narrative into a faith promoting story. Unfortunately, when this happens it just leaves the remainder of more and more people whose lives tend to fit the mold. Those people move into leadership and they can testify from honest personal experience of the blessings of a lifetime of faithful church centered service.


P.S. I believe that MLM's tend to flourish among LDS because 1) there are a higher than normal percentage of stay at home mom's looking to "work from home" 2) Mormons have a social network that they can leverage (at least initially) to make some sales 3) Mormons are probably more gulible than average.
"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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On Own Now
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by On Own Now » 07 Mar 2019, 16:07

Just to take the aside prompt from dande, I do believe that members of the Church are susceptible to Ponzi Schemes and MLMs. I think this is because these schemes are made to leverage trust. So, each of us is more likely to be taken into one of these schemes by a family member, co-worker, close friend or fellow worshiper, simply because of the trusted relationship. I know a great LDS family that is heavily inolved in an MLM, and they are the nicest and most sincere people... and heck... it works for them.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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On Own Now
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by On Own Now » 07 Mar 2019, 16:20

mfree,

I look at it this way: Whether we believe in God or not, part of the spiritual strength that we can bring to bear on any given problem is going to come from inside of us, not from a remote being in yonder heavens. As we find our spiritual strength, we are naturally able to weather more storms.

The teachings from the Sermon on the Mount, which we just covered in Sunday School, are the most clear expression of this idea in the Scriptures. Matthew 7: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." Notice in the passage that Jesus' SAYINGS are the only divine aspect of this allegory. The rest is the house that the wise man built for himself and its ability to stand against the storm.

With all this in mind, my suggestion is to look at all the good things you have done as having increased your own spirituality, apart from the Church. You have it within you to do good and to find strength. If there is a God and he/she reaches down to help you out once-in-a-while, count that as a bonus.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 07 Mar 2019, 17:43

Most of the time, no. But one thing I do resent is trying to get me to refer friends. I have had so much trouble with this, from the fact I hide my church membership from many or play it down, or that it may injure my friendship. Cowardly I know. Another problem is that I don't know vast numbers of people well, so it means I have a limited circle to refer. But constantly being pressurized to do this is uncomfortable.

On one occasion I did refer a list of people and got given the third degree by the missionaries of how exactly I knew them etc. I regretted doing it.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

nibbler
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by nibbler » 07 Mar 2019, 17:46

I (try to) wear many hats. I'm going to put on my atheist hat, sideways, for this post.

I remember sitting in a typical PH lesson years ago. I think the lesson was on meeting the missionary goals of the ward, I'm not 100% sure of the subject, but I remember the takeaway. We were talking about all the things we needed to do for heavenly father to bless us. As we went down the exhaustive list a thought popped in my head, "If we do all that we won't even need the lord anymore."

There it was. Out in the open.

Now, switching gears a bit... what made Jesus the Son of God? Just being born to the parents he was born to, or something more?
Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-14 wrote:And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
Jesus continued from grace to grace, and a part of Jesus' journey included him uttering the words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Even Jesus felt abandoned and alone at points along his journey and it strikes me that this feeling of abandonment by God must have been something that ultimately contributed toward Jesus' perfection. Something that helped him and spurred him on towards becoming the Son of God.

Journeys aren't linear, I want to front-load with that idea. One aspect of Mormon doctrine is that our "probationary state" is meant to help us learn to become as god is. Perhaps discovering that a piggy bank is empty is god's way of spurring us on to grow in ways that a full piggy bank would not allow. To rise to a new challenge and in so doing reduce our reliance on god, push us towards becoming a Son of God.

I don't mean to trivialize challenges anyone is going though. Feeling abandoned by god hurts more than anything. For what it's worth, the scriptures do teach that Jesus took upon him all our infirmities...that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. I found it was an interesting exercise to think that Jesus had to have felt equally abandoned, even during a time when I felt personally abandoned by Jesus.

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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 07 Mar 2019, 17:53

Roy wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 15:10
I believe that MLM's tend to flourish among LDS because 1) there are a higher than normal percentage of stay at home mom's looking to "work from home" 2) Mormons have a social network that they can leverage (at least initially) to make some sales 3) Mormons are probably more gulible than average.
1 - Yes. 2 - Yes. More so than many non-members. 3 - I think this is unkind. I would say Mormons are more innocent and artless. I don't think they believe everything that comes their way, so much as they are trusting and less likely to be schemers.

In regard to 2 - you have a group which doesn't smoke, drink, drug or gamble. At least not as much. That creates disposable income. Mormons socialize a lot at home, rather than bars, and also have extended families of a kind which is dying out elsewhere.

And 4 - every member a missionary. Many of us have been required to push an idea and to talk about it.

5 - ironically, MLMs have the outward appearance of self-reliance.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

nibbler
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by nibbler » 07 Mar 2019, 18:14

Having a hard time saying "no" probably also factors in.

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mom3
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by mom3 » 07 Mar 2019, 20:08

MC - For me the silence was the lesson. Did it tick me off? Yes. I shouted, shook, ignored, wept, and a million other things to God.

I never had the piggy bank idea. But I did believe "He would always be there." And then - he wasn't. Or at least he wasn't as I had always known him to be. Because I felt I had a track record of receiving personal guidance, comfort, warnings and the like, it really hurt that he let me fall down this way.

I went searching and I learned - All the great spiritualists had the same experience. Whether Buddha, Mother Teresa, Moses, Martin Luther King and as Nibbler said - Jesus Christ.

For me, that changed the game. This wasn't a punishment or a discipline - like time out or grounding. It was a gift. And it was as hard on Him/Them (Heavenly parents) as it was for me.

The Divine and I communicate differently now. A gift I hadn't expected.

I hope the same happens for you.
"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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