A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 11 Mar 2019, 16:28

If we look at the early history of Mormonism (or whatever we call it these days), it was not a straight path upwards. In fact during the 19th century, many members were poor, and the church was often quite poor.

What comes out of LDS history again and again is victory against the odds. I don't see that as prosperity gospel so much as refiner's fire. We see farmers who built great cities and temples, and city dwellers from Europe who became successful farmers. All of this was done with very little money.
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, 16:32

nibbler wrote:
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.
AKA Prosperity Gospel. I agree with you that to an extent we do a fair job recognizing bad things happen to good people (and to a lesser extent good things can happen to bad people). But, as I said earlier, the prosperity gospel is alive and well in the the Church. My own ward is probably a bit better at what you describe than some others (including the ward I visit often), perhaps because quite a few people in my ward have experienced great adversity. That doesn't keep the prosperity gospel from rearing its head from time to time, though. I was actually a bit surprised it didn't become more of a theme in our PH meeting, but only one guy started to come close to it and he was headed off (not on purpose).
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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Curt Sunshine
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Mar 2019, 16:38

Sam's comment deserves attention. He makes an interesting point.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DarkJedi
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Mar 2019, 05:46

SamBee wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 16:28
If we look at the early history of Mormonism (or whatever we call it these days), it was not a straight path upwards. In fact during the 19th century, many members were poor, and the church was often quite poor.

What comes out of LDS history again and again is victory against the odds. I don't see that as prosperity gospel so much as refiner's fire. We see farmers who built great cities and temples, and city dwellers from Europe who became successful farmers. All of this was done with very little money.
I agree, we're all in the refiner's fire. As I stated earlier, we are all here to learn and at least some of that learning experience comes from suffering things like pain and sickness. Early church members and the pioneers are fine examples of how they dealt with the harshness of real life of the day and even choices they made (like the Kirtland bank thing, for instance). Without them there wouldn't be an us. There was an interesting little discussion in our lesson Sunday when one old venerable asserted that all bad things that happen to us involve other people, which at face value I don't think is true but it bears some pondering.

Anyway, I think the prosperity gospel part comes in when people believe that because they pay tithing/hold a temple recommend/read the BoM every day/fill in the blank this suffering won't happen to them or that the suffering is way less than it is for those who don't pay tithing/read the BoM/etc. More than one of us here have that as at least part of our personal faith crisis. There are different points of view (as there are with most other things) and there are other contributing factors to our points of view - like our own faith, judgementalism, the level or perceived level of the suffering (perhaps compared to others) and many other things. While there are many paradoxes in Mormonism, I don't think this is really one of them. I think the Refiner's Fire is closer to doctrine than the prosperity gospel - but some fast Sundays that might be hard to see/hear.
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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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 12 Mar 2019, 05:58

Also...

There were times e.g. the abandonment of Kirtland and Nauvoo when church members went from having built towns and beautiful temples* to nothing.

Personally, I think people lean too much on tithing. I see it as a membership fee, which keeps the church going and the buildings working. Will it protect my investments, or my crops? Well I don't think I have experience of that, although I'm glad that I've never gone bankrupt.

But there is one name that counteracts prosperity gospel - Job. Also if we look at what Jesus says he suggests we are to seek after spiritual riches not material ones.

* Kirtland and Nauvoo have my favorite temple designs. Never been a fan of SL Temple TBH.
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 » 12 Mar 2019, 07:57

SamBee wrote:
12 Mar 2019, 05:58
Personally, I think people lean too much on tithing. I see it as a membership fee, which keeps the church going and the buildings working. Will it protect my investments, or my crops? Well I don't think I have experience of that, although I'm glad that I've never gone bankrupt.
I agree, but at the same time I think much of our belief/teaching related to the prosperity gospel is centered around tithing because of "the windows of heaven" thing.

And I agree with you about the Salt Lake Temple. I do like the Kirtland/Nauvoo/St. George temples and I also like the Manti/Logan design and its modernized adaptations (of which Rome is one). I do not like the sloped roof design that was common in the 80s (Dallas/Portland for example) or the plain box with a spire of the 50s/60s (London/NZ) and I don't like the small temple design or its small predecessor (Atlanta/Santiago Chile for example). I guess I'm pretty picky about my temples. :eh:
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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dande48
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by dande48 » 12 Mar 2019, 09:00

DarkJedi wrote:
12 Mar 2019, 07:57
SamBee wrote:
12 Mar 2019, 05:58
Personally, I think people lean too much on tithing. I see it as a membership fee, which keeps the church going and the buildings working. Will it protect my investments, or my crops? Well I don't think I have experience of that, although I'm glad that I've never gone bankrupt.
I agree, but at the same time I think much of our belief/teaching related to the prosperity gospel is centered around tithing because of "the windows of heaven" thing.
My biggest qualm with the prosperity gospel, is that it leads to a mentality where "you get what you deserve". Broke? Jobless? Homeless? You deserve it. Rich? Married? Successful in your career? You deserve it. Whatever happens, it's all God's will. Hence in this situation:
We see farmers who built great cities and temples, and city dwellers from Europe who became successful farmers. All of this was done with very little money.
Brigham Young in particular got the lion's share of the wealth and women. It still appalls me that he could be making in today's terms between $1.55mil (his own estimate, when sued for alimony), and $23.2mil (his ex-wife's estimate), each year. Given how much he "borrowed without repaying" from the Church, at the time of his death, I wouldn't be surprised if his own estimates were low.

You can't tell me that Brigham Young's extravagant wealth, lifestyle, and multitude of wives was not directly correlated with his position as "prophet". I have no doubt Brigham Young felt he deserved it. But when life gets tough and you're found wanting, it's your own fault.
"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 » 12 Mar 2019, 09:26

SamBee wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 16:28
What comes out of LDS history again and again is victory against the odds. I don't see that as prosperity gospel so much as refiner's fire. We see farmers who built great cities and temples, and city dwellers from Europe who became successful farmers. All of this was done with very little money.
When the church works, it can work wonderfully. The church is great at building community and then marshaling that community for civil engineering projects. The church is great at asking the independant and individualistic American spirit to "bridle" its own self interest in favor of group and community well being. When it works (and for whom it works), it can work wonderfully.
"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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SamBee
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by SamBee » 12 Mar 2019, 11:05

dande48 wrote:
12 Mar 2019, 09:00

You can't tell me that Brigham Young's extravagant wealth, lifestyle, and multitude of wives was not directly correlated with his position as "prophet". I have no doubt Brigham Young felt he deserved it. But when life gets tough and you're found wanting, it's your own fault.
This is true, but even Brigham Young underwent hardship within his life. He probably made the most money off the LDS but he too had to flee the mid west and his origins were nothing special.

I suspect much of BY's income was in kind and not monetary.
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."

mfree6464
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Re: A Spiritual Ponzi Scheme

Post by mfree6464 » 13 Mar 2019, 04:30

SilentDawning wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 07:55
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.
You're right. That is what Ponzi schemes are all about and that really doesn't apply to my analogy at all. I like how you referred to it as Empty Piggy Bank Syndrome. I'll go with that from now on. :thumbup:
SilentDawning wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 07:55
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.
This is exactly why I mentioned the Ponzi scheme idea. You never hear about a Ponzi scheme while it is working (ie. when people are getting their returns from newer investors.) Problems arise when later investors try to cash out and find that their "piggy banks" are now empty. That was my experience. I approached the fund manager (God), tried to make a withdrawal and got nothing after being assured for many years that my bank was full. I felt scammed. It felt like a Ponzi to me even though it was not.

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