A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

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dande48
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by dande48 » 07 Mar 2019, 20:53

Roy wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 15:10
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.
I was seeing other connections. Specific similarities I can think of include:
-Testimony meetings
-Claims of miracles
-The prosperity gospel / plant your seed of faith (your fault if it doesn't bare fruit)
-Requiring large investments of time and money.
-A focus on agency (be your own boss!), yet with an insistance on strict obedience
-Perfectionism. You aren't doing enough, and should be doing more
-Focus on prosyltizing
-Regarding opposing evidence as an evil conspiracy and blatant falsehoods
-No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry
-Conferences, with charasmatic leaders who promise blessings
-No real financial disclosure. Offers intentionally misleading statistics.
-Reliance and trust in feelings/emotion over logic

Ok, I think the biggest one is that last point. But in sharing similar models, while being co-compatible, is very seductive for the LDS, especially LDS Stay-at-home moms, where having only a single income to support a family is becoming more and more a real challenge, and where outward "blessings" are seen as a sign of God's favor. And yet MLMs come along, and make extravagant promises it really can't keep... yet points to miracles and success stories as if it were the norm. Which is what many churches do.
"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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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 08 Mar 2019, 03:52

You could add another one -

Personal referral. We tend to like things if someone we know can vouch for them.

I think the gullibility thing is overplayed. Many LDS *are* successful in business, and that wouldn't be the case if they believed everything that came their way.
And yet MLMs come along, and make extravagant promises it really can't keep... yet points to miracles and success stories as if it were the norm. Which is what many churches do.
On another note, MLMs are not all disasters but only if you don't play quite to their rules. If you work it all out and are clever enough *not* to recruit your immediate social circle (as they try and force you to) or start buying a lot of the product yourself, it is possible to make some income off them. When I lived in the countryside years ago, one of my mother's friends used to make some extra money selling children's books. They were really good quality illustrated books and I loved them, and there were not many places to buy books within a short distance. We must have been golden customers for her, but she was a genuinely nice woman and she did alright out of it. I can also point to a relative of mine who worked for a while selling househood products when he was younger and later went on to become a highly successful businessman. You won't make thousands every week as some claim, but you may get enough to tide you over.

I get the impression not all MLMs are equal. Avon for example, does sell some quite decent products that many women would be into. But I would avoid Herbalife like the plague. Amway + cult gets a lot of hits from any search engine.

Me personally? I did kinda get stung by one of these, not a well known one, but I never spent much money on it and it only lasted a week or two before I felt I'd had enough. I have had bigger issues with regular employers.
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."

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DarkJedi
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Mar 2019, 08:08

I think the fundamental misunderstanding here is that the gospel is not in any way a spiritual Ponzi scheme. Others have alluded to the idea that very similar experiences led to their own faith crises. I'm a member of that club, although like Mom says not necessarily the piggy bank part - but I get that point of view and I wasn't that far removed from it because of the whole idea of "works" (vs. grace I suppose). Like Mom, I did expect that everything would be taken care of, all I had to do was continue to obey. But everything wasn't OK and didn't turn out OK. I did learn though, and one of the things I learned was that the church, and teachings of the church, and teachings of members of the church (which would include church leaders) are all somewhat different from each other but all those very different from the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only then did I understand. There is no Ponzi and there is no piggy bank.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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mfree6464
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by mfree6464 » 08 Mar 2019, 10:38

nibbler wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 17:46
...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...
I've thought a lot lately about the fact that Jesus was left alone for a time and seemingly saddened (or at least affected in some way) by it as well. I believe that I have learned more in the past three years than I learned in the previous 30+ years from church, seminary, BYU, general conferences, leaders, bishops, apostles and prophets. It seems that life is doing a much more effective job at teaching me about God (and being a better person in general) than church ever did.

I think the confusion I mentioned in my original post stems more from the dissonance I am experiencing between the things I am now learning about God and the things I once "knew" about Him previously.

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DarkJedi
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Mar 2019, 11:38

mfree6464 wrote:
08 Mar 2019, 10:38
nibbler wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 17:46
...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...
I've thought a lot lately about the fact that Jesus was left alone for a time and seemingly saddened (or at least affected in some way) by it as well. I believe that I have learned more in the past three years than I learned in the previous 30+ years from church, seminary, BYU, general conferences, leaders, bishops, apostles and prophets. It seems that life is doing a much more effective job at teaching me about God (and being a better person in general) than church ever did.

I think the confusion I mentioned in my original post stems more from the dissonance I am experiencing between the things I am now learning about God and the things I once "knew" about Him previously.
I think a big part of this journey, rebuilding our faith, transitioning our faith, or whatever you want to call it is that we have to unlearn what we thought we knew.

If you buy into the idea that Jesus suffered for all of our sins and that he descended below all things, Jesus must have had times when he felt alone/abandoned by God and/or the Spirit (as at least some of us have felt). The idea that he was is illustrated in the scripture quoted by Nibbler. I have chosen to believe that Christ did descend beneath all and does understand our pains and anguishes because he experienced them in some way I don't understand.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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SilentDawning
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Mar 2019, 07:55

mfree6464 wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 13:13
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.
That's it exactly. It's how I felt the first, second, and third time I got hit with Empty Piggy Bank syndrome. The church requires massive sacrifices now in hopes of after-life rewards. But for some of us, we have unusual needs that in a sense, puts the church to the test NOW, in this life.

Not because we WANT to make the church prove itself, but because our needs provide the church that opportunity in this life. When they come up empty-handed and callous and uncaring -- yes -- it seems very much like fraud to me. It makes it hard to have faith in their after-life promises. I am not talking about financial needs either -- I am talking about spiritual needs or life circumstance needs that are fully in control of the church, for the benefit of individual members.

However, that's not to say I'll leave it altogether, it just means I'll adjust my own behavior accordingly to make the empty church piggy bank less of an issue. I reduce my investment in the church piggy bank and increase my investment in other piggy banks for which I have realistic expectations.

BTW, I don't see the Ponzi scheme analogy hanging here -- a Ponzi scheme is where one person invests money for a return. The manager of the scheme uses the money from secondary investors to pay the return to the first set of investors, and so on. In this case, I don't see people putting in effort and getting rewards from the sacrifice of people who join later in the game. The promise of returns is to everyone, and there is nothing beyond the intrinsic value of being a member of a community (if you even get that in our church) as a return on investment. EVERYONE has to wait until after retirement (death) to see if they get the promised rewards. And sadly, no one knows whether people who retired before them even got those rewards. Totally different analogy.

I will say the analogy holds if you, as an investor in the Ponzi scheme, go to the fund manager and ask for your principal back, or at least, a hefty amount of it back now. The fund manager comes up short or keeps putting it off until you have no faith you invested your money wisely.

I want to add -- most faithful members will simply say it's a test, or some other rationalization that excuses church behavior in this life. To them I quote Alma who said of Corianton -- "When they saw your behavior they wouldn't believe my words".
Last edited by SilentDawning on 12 Mar 2019, 06:52, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 11 Mar 2019, 10:00

The obvious difference is that a Ponzi Scheme requires new members to be recruited so the money flows. LDS are pressured to do that but don't have to, to see a return. Kids maybe, but not necessarily new members.
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."

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DarkJedi
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Mar 2019, 10:40

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? 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.
We did Elder Anderson's "Wounded" talk from last GC Sunday in PH. I didn't really remember the talk, but it's kind of a gem related to this. In my readings of Givens (especially The Christ Who Heals) I had come to an understanding that we're kind of here to suffer. Put in a milder way, we here to have experiences that help us to understand the good because we experience the bad. That's not a foreign concept to Mormons, it's even part of the endowment rites (light/darkness, pleasure/pain, health/sickness), but it does fly in the face of the all-too-alive-and-well prosperity gospel. Interestingly in our discussion Sunday the prosperity gospel did not directly come up and our group seemed to have a pretty good grasp on the idea of it raining on the just and unjust alike - which I think was Anderson's whole point. I think it's worth a read.
https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... d?lang=eng
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roy
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by Roy » 11 Mar 2019, 11:55

I think we did "Join with us" By Elder Uchtdorf

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... s?lang=eng

We spent the entire time talking about what the gospel offers despite requiring so much (which is pretty sad considering how much gold is in this talk).

One of the recurring themes was that the church provides a substitute purpose for the men in the room. Rather than the rat race of the corporate ladder and consumerism (bank accounts, cars and other trappings of wealth), the church offers another measure of success. The success of raising a family, contributing in the community, and passing on the heritage. The success of making and keeping covenants to make the ultimate glory and achievement within the reach of all members.

The belief changes the perspective and redefines what it means to be successful. This can be very attractive.

P.S. this is similar but different than the paradigm change offered by many evengelical Christian churches. People go in feeling like they are failures, people leave feeling like they have been born anew, that God redeemed them from everything painful in their lives and welcomes them home with open arms. This too can be very attractive.
"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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nibbler
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by nibbler » 11 Mar 2019, 15:59

DarkJedi wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 10:40
Interestingly in our discussion Sunday the prosperity gospel did not directly come up and our group seemed to have a pretty good grasp on the idea of it raining on the just and unjust alike - which I think was Anderson's whole point. [/url]
Generally I think we do a good job at church of recognizing that bad things can happen to good people. Where I feel we need help is with the belief that being more obedient will earn us our desired blessing. Should the blessing not come, the default position becomes, "we must not have been obedient enough." I hear a variant of this most Sundays.
It is the end of the world. Surely you could be allowed a few carnal thoughts.
― Connie Willis

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