More than enough

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Cadence
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Re: More than enough

Post by Cadence » 10 May 2019, 15:16

The churches approach to tithing and investing seem contrary to me. We are asked to sacrifice to pay tithing no matter how desperate financially we may be. We are told the lord will provide. It is an exercise in faith. However the church does not exercise faith. If they did they would distribute every dollar by year end and have faith the lord would provide for the future.

I do not think the church can solve poverty or do many things no matter how much money they throw at it. I do agree hiring some janitors to provide jobs is a good idea. In fact they could compensate bishops as far as I am concerned. There are many things they could do to enhance the lives of the members and still hang onto a sizable cash reserve for a rainy day. I just think money sitting in the stock market is not a thing the church should be doing.


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Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

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SilentDawning
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Re: More than enough

Post by SilentDawning » 10 May 2019, 19:53

I liked what Ghandi said. He said no charitable organization, or organization that claims to exist for the benefit of its members should have more than it needs to survive and serve its target group. Otherwise, they aren't accountable to anybody.

I personally think it's wise advice.

At the same time, I don't fault them for surplus money.

But I take exception to the paltry lack of social services provided by the church for its members given such surpluses. I tried to adopt a child years ago, and it was botched by a poorly trained, ill-fitting social worker managed by an absentee office director. The director was on a mission as a president, so they had the office managed by a remote director who wasn't involved at all to see the incompetence.

I needed a release from my calling years ago due to mental and physical health issues, and the local stake presidency was too busy to address it. They came off as not giving a hoot. I tried to then get counseling after I went into depression by that, and some destructive behavior from members in our Ward while in leadership. I couldn't even get an appointment with LDS Social Services.

I still remember a Bishop saying "you'd be surprised how long a member claiming the need to see me can wait". That's not good service to members. Something I might expect from a lay minister with a full time job and young family. Not something I would expect from a church that claims to be there for its members.

I think early morning seminary, required at a time teenagers need their sleep, and which cause big sacrifices from parents to get them there, wait, and take them to school due to missing the bus -- needs to go online. In my PhD education studies (switch to business later), I did a research report on whether the church should put seminary online. Looking at it from a purely financial perspective, it's wasn't worth it given free teaching labor, no cost to making parents get up way early 5 days a week, and drive kids to school, and no extra infrastructure cost due to brick and mortar churches not utilized at that time. But they won't spend on the technology infrastructure, help desk, training and other costly aspects of it -- while they sit awash in cash.

So, if what you are saying is true -- the church is awash in cash or at least wealth, then I think it's time to lighten the burden of members and expand services to help them. To hoard it, and purchase 5% of the land in Florida like they did doesn't hold water with me. There is a small campground on it owned by the church, but it just sits there, doing nothing but probably increasing in value. Your tithing funds at "work".

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-Ne ... -landowner

I GET that they instituted tithing and fiscal responsibility many decades ago, as well as the TR tithing concept, and I GET that it worked in generating surpluses. If they cut tithing back, and times get hard, it will be hard to reinstitute it. I GET that too. I don't blame them for that. But I do fault them for not using surpluses to make the lives of members better. To expand Ward budgets, and to make services more available for members.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 10 May 2019, 22:45, 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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: More than enough

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 May 2019, 21:55

The LDS Church almost went extinct once from forced intervention by the US government. Thereafter, it has worked hard to avoid that happening again. Some say they obsess unnecessarily about religious freedom, but their history in that area still lives in the collective memories of the leadership.

The LDS Church almost went bankrupt more than once from lack of professional financial leadership. Thereafter, it has worked hard to avoid that happening again. Some say they obsess unnecessarily about "saving for a seven year drought", but their history still lives in the collective memories of the leadership.

Members used to fund much of the operating costs of the LDS Church, including the cost of constructing buildings. The LDS Church now finances units independent of contributions from the local members. That allows it to fund units worldwide that can't be funded by the local membership. Our pittance is seen as a bounty in many parts of the world.

The LDS Church heavily subsidizes higher education for its membership, to a FAR greater extent than any other denomination of which I am aware.

The LDS Church funds missions for members who can't afford to serve otherwise. It also provides amazing retirement benefits to its member-employees, to be used in any way they desire but to allow retirement missions, if desired. They absolutely put their money where their mouth is in that regard.

The LDS Church donates extensively to disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and welfare assistance. One intentionally misleading article years ago cast that aid in a dishonestly unfavorable light, and most people have no clue how much actually is donated, when all giving is calculated.

Yes, there are legitimate criticisms that can be made from various perspectives, but a thread like this that starts out as criticism only, with no attempt at any balance or acknowledgment of any positive, skews everything right from the start. How much is enough? How much is appropriate? Ask any individual member that question about the LDS Church, and you will get an infinite number of answers. More pointedly, ask those same members that question about themselves, and you also will get an infinite number of answers. Even more pointedly, if I asked that question here about us, the conversation might get uncomfortable and even heated.

So far, I have read few comments that even try to answer the questions posed in the post. I also have read few comments that even acknowledge any good or try to understand the history that drives the desire to insulate the Church from future financial difficulties. There has been little attempt at any semblance of balance thus far.

Our mission requires we strive to see as much of the whole picture as possible as we discuss the topics posted. We aren't here just to gripe, although venting sometimes is necessary. More than Enough? For now? Sure. For two years from now? Sure. For ten years from now? I have no freaking clue. There are all kinds of financial and political issues boiling right now that could change the worldwide economic situation dramatically. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe this concern will continue unabated. Maybe we will have another depression - in the US and/or worldwide. Maybe this concern will disappear. Who knows?

Therefore, all I ask is that we try to be a bit more balanced as we discuss this topic. Maybe focus on the negative AND positive aspects. There absolutely are a number of both, and the overall picture is nowhere close to as simple as most of the conversation thus far has made it appear to be.

(If that is too blunt, I have been driving all day and am exhausted. Good night.)
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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SamBee
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Re: More than enough

Post by SamBee » 11 May 2019, 01:52

Holy Cow wrote:
10 May 2019, 09:42
I still give tithing, or at least I consider it to be tithing. I just don't give it to the church. I donate to charities that I feel truly need it and will use it for a good cause. I also donate to fast offerings, because I like that the money helps people locally. The church wouldn't consider me as a tithe payer, but I do. I just give my money to organizations who will use it in a way that I would prefer to see it used.
The church is actually a typical charity. If most people knew how major charities were run then they would not give to them. Take the example of Haiti, which had the bad earthquake a few years ago and has a horrific economy - even today, very few new homes have been built/rebuilt in Port-au-Prince (the main city) as charities promised they would, despite receiving millions to do so. All that would be required is for dozens of shipping containers to be sent over there and some makeshift temporary homes could be made from them, followed by proper ones. But that's barely happened.

We had a charity in this country designed to send money to one of the southern African countries. It later came out in the press that 1/3 of its money was being spent before it went anywhere near Africa. And that begged the question of how much of the remaining 2/3 got to the people it was supposed to (I strongly suspect probably another third was creamed off by rich Africans and corrupt politicians when it got there though I can't prove it).

It is extremely common for the people who head up large charities to have six figure salaries, yet some of these same charities still go begging for money off the poorest people in this city, or run ads telling us $20 will help feed a village for a week.

I worked a bit in the charitable sector myself for a while and it was an eyeopener. I find it a dilemma,. because I'd like to help people but I know when I give money to a major charity much of it will be swallowed up by lawyers, admin, CEOs and rentals. My experience in the charitable sector led me to realize I was working for a medium sized business with a charity attached.

So the LDS church is not atypical in this regard. These charities rely on thousands of volunteers like the church does. They invest money in commercial ventures, like the church does. There is considerable wastage - ditto. And to be fair, overheads. I'm well aware that 70s, the 12 and the president are all looked after, but in fact, compared to some of the big name charities, they (bizarrely) come off better.

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SilentDawning
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Re: More than enough

Post by SilentDawning » 11 May 2019, 05:14

SamBee wrote:
11 May 2019, 01:52
Holy Cow wrote:
10 May 2019, 09:42
I still give tithing, or at least I consider it to be tithing. I just don't give it to the church. I donate to charities that I feel truly need it and will use it for a good cause. I also donate to fast offerings, because I like that the money helps people locally. The church wouldn't consider me as a tithe payer, but I do. I just give my money to organizations who will use it in a way that I would prefer to see it used.
The church is actually a typical charity. If most people knew how major charities were run then they would not give to them. Take the example of Haiti, which had the bad earthquake a few years ago and has a horrific economy - even today, very few new homes have been built/rebuilt in Port-au-Prince (the main city) as charities promised they would, despite receiving millions to do so. All that would be required is for dozens of shipping containers to be sent over there and some makeshift temporary homes could be made from them, followed by proper ones. But that's barely happened.

We had a charity in this country designed to send money to one of the southern African countries. It later came out in the press that 1/3 of its money was being spent before it went anywhere near Africa. And that begged the question of how much of the remaining 2/3 got to the people it was supposed to (I strongly suspect probably another third was creamed off by rich Africans and corrupt politicians when it got there though I can't prove it).

It is extremely common for the people who head up large charities to have six figure salaries, yet some of these same charities still go begging for money off the poorest people in this city, or run ads telling us $20 will help feed a village for a week.

I worked a bit in the charitable sector myself for a while and it was an eyeopener. I find it a dilemma,. because I'd like to help people but I know when I give money to a major charity much of it will be swallowed up by lawyers, admin, CEOs and rentals. My experience in the charitable sector led me to realize I was working for a medium sized business with a charity attached.

So the LDS church is not atypical in this regard. These charities rely on thousands of volunteers like the church does. They invest money in commercial ventures, like the church does. There is considerable wastage - ditto. And to be fair, overheads. I'm well aware that 70s, the 12 and the president are all looked after, but in fact, compared to some of the big name charities, they (bizarrely) come off better.
I run a charity -- registered it almost 4 years ago. 100% of proceeds go to our mission. The only exception is our annual $87.50 "business" registration fee to our state department that oversees organizations, and a one time $275 fee we had to pay to the IRS for 501 (c) 3 status. Any bit of surplus we generate goes right back into our programs. Everyone is volunteer-- we rent no space, we don't feed anyone, we raise money and work to fulfill our mission. Some of our volunteers just buy what we need out of their own personal funds and never submit receipts either.

My understanding is that one thing you do to measure the validity of the charity is to find out what percent of its gross revenues goes to funding its mission. I understand the need for a certain percent to go out in salaries to certain people -- you are limited in what you can do with 100% volunteers. And if you need people to dedicate their full-time life to the charity, then they have to be supported some way. So there is no criticism there.

In fact, I wish we paid our local leaders -- particularly our Bishops. I wish we required them to have professional counseling skills so they aren't just shooting from the hip when you go in for counseling. I wouldn't care if the church had a bazillion dollar surplus if the funds went back into programs while holding on to a reasonable reserve for a rainy day.
"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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: More than enough

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 May 2019, 12:03

However the church does not exercise faith. If they did they would distribute every dollar by year end and have faith the lord would provide for the future.


That isn't faith. That is stupidity. No individual or organization should operate that way. It is a surefire recipe for disaster - and the Church doesn't encourage that approach from members, either. They encourage saving and setting aside funds (and food), whenever possible, for difficult times.

Demanding extremes isn't healthy - by the Church of us or by us of the Church.
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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dande48
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Re: More than enough

Post by dande48 » 11 May 2019, 19:18

I had an experience today. I went to one of those mega-Church complexes. Inside, they have a FANTASTIC indoor playground for kids. It was exceptionally well-kept, three stories, two sections. The best thing is, it was absoultely free to the public. You didn't need to be a member, didn't need to pay tithing. I've paid $10-$15 for entry into "play centers" only a fraction as nice. It was a wonderful community service that they do. And tt's open every day of the week, except Thursday and Sunday. :) In addition, they have their own coffee shop/bakery, a full-on library, and elementary school section (which looked like so much fun!), counselling services, etc.

As I've said, what's turned me off from the Church was not policy, but truth. Any religion with a primary emphasis on "correctness of belief" and "truth", ought to be judged by those standards; and according to my current best judgement and the evidences I've seen, both churches fall short on that front. But if you look at "effectiveness" and "policy", I think this megachurch, for all its shortcomings, has the LDS Church beat on a few fronts.

I LOVE temple square. I love it when the Church invests in public works and services. I think Temple Square is beautiful. Most temple grounds are very well kept. I like Camp Joseph, in Vermont. They can do some phenominal work. But the biggest expendature they take is in their temples. I think it's fair to draw a comparison, since the goal of both mega-church complexes and LDS temples is to build family relationships and keep them together.

You're only allowed to enter the temple if you're an adult, a tithe payer, hold specific beliefs, and adhere to certain "living standards". This excludes a lot of people. Inside, you are forced to wear a particular type of clothing, which to be blunt, is outdated and looks pretty silly. The ceremonies are very wrote, with a lot of "deep" symbolism and metaphors that, being honest, no one really understands. It has a lot of "repeat after me" sections, and secret signs and tokens, all of which we are told, somehow enable us to be with our families forever.

On the flip side, at the mega-Church I was able to spend the same amount of time having a blast with my daughter. It was a phenominal experience. It cost me nothing. I wasn't judged or excluded. We had lots of fun. We drew closer together. As far as "Return on Investment" goes, I think the Mega-Church has been much more wise and effective in bringing families together, than the temple. I'm not recommending we get rid of temples... for doctrinal reasons, I doubt that'll ever happen. But with all that cash the Church is sitting on, there's really plenty of other ways they can achieve their goals of bringing families together. I wish they'd spend more in those areas.
"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: More than enough

Post by SamBee » 11 May 2019, 23:56

dande48 wrote:
11 May 2019, 19:18
The ceremonies are very wrote, with a lot of "deep" symbolism and metaphors that, being honest, no one really understands. It has a lot of "repeat after me" sections, and secret signs and tokens, all of which we are told, somehow enable us to be with our families forever.
Don't know what you mean by "very wrote", but a lot of the metaphors are not half as complex as they are made out to be.
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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Gerald
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Re: More than enough

Post by Gerald » 12 May 2019, 05:47

The church is actually a typical charity. If most people knew how major charities were run then they would not give to them.
Having worked with a small number of such organizations, I would agree. No question that some do precisely what charities do, expend most of their funds in the service of whatever cause they were formed for. At worst, they are out and out scams. Most fall in between, organizations run by good, decent (but at times incompetent) individuals perhaps doing their best but still falling somewhat short of the ideal. I think the LDS Church is run by good, decent and overall competent individuals who may still fall somewhat short of the ideal (whatever that may be).

My own take on the Church's resources is not so much the money (though admittedly it is eye-popping :shock: to get a glimpse at the vast resources the Church has), as the attitude that led to the acquisition of wealth. There is a corporate flavor to our Church that is distinctly "unchurchlike." It makes me uncomfortable at times. In some ways, I'm grateful that wards are not overfunded. When I attend my ward, it feels like like "church." It consists of a small group of people with overall common goals working together to accomplish those goals. Sometimes, it involves money but other times it involves service. Among other things, it's the lack of funds that give it a kind of "grass roots" feel.

It doesn't mean things can't change. I'd like to see our buildings become more like community centers with services on Sunday but community-enhancing activities during the week (regardless of faith). I think opening those doors in that manner and having more "non-religious" activities would be a great activating tool as well as a missionary opportunity. At a minimum, it would be providing the kind of service that many of us aspire to provide. And it would be organized around the wards and branches which exist throughout most countries. You could call people to positions like "community service director", etc. and (under that individual's direction) ward councils could assist in developing their own unique service priorities (given that different communities have different needs). It would require adjusting financial policies but the money would be more targeted and focused than if the Church tried to develop a more general service model run from the top down.

One can dream, right?
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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SilentDawning
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Re: More than enough

Post by SilentDawning » 12 May 2019, 06:43

A bit off topic, but I attended a community event a month ago. It was held in a church which is also a brewery. It's owned by the Lutheran church, but is a different concept. It was very hip in side, located in an industrial park kind of area. They were talking about making one bay a mechanical shop where the members can come and have other members repair their cars.

Inside the "church" was a shop where you could get sandwiches and beer.

I am not necessarily advocating this, just describing an alternate church concept to what we're used to seeing.

Back to the topic at hand...
"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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