The recent Occupy Wall Street movement and its ongoing spread, along with the cover essay in the October 2011 issue of Harper’s that draws what the author of that piece sees as a direct link between Mormonism’s economic ideals and its rise in influence in society at large, and certain factions of the Republican Party in particular, provide excellent springboards for a great discussion about LDS views about wealth, prosperity, business principles, economic systems, cultural attitudes that sometimes suggest a connection between righteousness and personal prosperity, and much more. And that’s what this podcast episode contains.
In dialogue with each other and Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, panelists Joanna Brooks, Todd Decker, and Jason Brown provide a far-ranging discussion that draws important distinctions between an LDS culture that seems to writers, pundits, and many outsiders to be quite like the picture painted by the Harper’s article (which is, of course, accurate in certain ways) and the long history of Mormon theological teachings about the dangers that are inherent in wealth and prosperity and divorcing oneself from the labor of one’s own hands, the sacredness of community, and economic systems that forefront care for one another. These are difficult issues, and this podcast is full of terrific observations, both light and serious, and wonderful invitations for deep self-examination. Can and will those who find themselves recognizing that they a sympathy with the Occupy movement or have other hesitations about capitalism as it operates today do more than just talk?
Please listen. We welcome your comments below!
Links to sites recommended by podcast panelist Jason Brown:
The Corporation–a documentary in several parts available through YouTube
Gadianton, by Eric Samuelsen. An incredible and powerful story and critique of the idea that something can be “just business,” that corporate decisions don’t have high personal costs. It wrestles with a Mormon-led computer firm that chooses to downsize in order to increase company profits. It is set in St. George, Utah, and the action of the play is interspersed with characters reminiscing on the atomic explosions in the Nevada desert and the radiation fallout that affects families in the area still today–government decisions that didn’t adequately count personal costs. And you simply have to experience for yourself all that comes from the inclusion of Gadianton!, a play within the play (that leads to its title character coming to life and whispering in the ear of one of the main play’s protagonists). Highly recommend! Potentially one of the best hours of reading you’ll ever spend.
Note: This file contains the play, as well as a short follow-up essay by the author about the controversies that surrounded Gadianton when it was produced at BYU. Sunstone also somehow saved the file in the same grouping as a commentary on Mormon culture that is also excellent but not related to the play. So if you want to go directly to the play, it begins on page 6 of this file.