The Gospel of Mammon – Chapter One: Money Changers & the Great and Spacious Building

Lord of Mammon Mormon 31 Comments

A translation. Of an ancient record. Written by the hand of its author. [For an explanatory introduction to the Gospel of Mammon, click thou on the profile of the author: Lord of Mammon.]

CHAPTER 1

1. And now it came to pass that on the Sabbath the Lord of Mammon did go up towards the temple. And he did look upon all the money changers who were selling their goods in the region roundabout, and he was well pleased.

2. And now behold, when the money changers saw the Lord of Mammon approaching, they were sore afraid. For they supposed he was that Jesus of Nazareth, who had cast them out of the temple an fortnight earlier. For verily, the Lord of Mammon did appear in the image of that Jesus of Nazareth, only being dressed in much finer apparel and wearing much jewelry.

3. And behold, when the Lord of Mammon saw the money changers, that they were afraid, he stretched forth his gilded hand, saying, “Fear not, for I bring thee good tidings of great joy, if thou payest me that which I shall require of thee.”

4. And behold, the money changers were astonished. And one of them said to another, “Is not this that Jesus of Nazareth, who did smite mine backside an fortnight ago, and overturn mine Nacho stand?” [1] And behold, the other answereth, crying with a loud voice, saying, “Nay, but verily, that be the Lord of Mammon! And he cometh to bring us great reward!”

5. And the one asketh, “Verily?” And the other answereth, “Yea, verily”.

6. And it came to pass that the money changers did rejoice, crying aloud with one voice, saying, “Glory and praise be to the Lord of Mammon! Our salvation hath come!” And they did bid the Lord of Mammon that he sit with them. And they did bring him fine food and drink. And they did put upon his fingers rings of platinum and titanium. [2] And they did remove his fine leather sandals and did massage his feet.

7. And the Lord of Mammon saith unto them, “Men and brethren, why art thou selling thine goods here, across the way from the temple, and not within the temple walls, or on the temple grounds?”

9. And the money changers did answer aloud with one voice, saying, “Behold, that Jesus of Nazareth, he did smite us with a great smiting [3], and did cast us out of the temple. For verily, he did rebuke us for making his Father’s house a den of thieves.”

10. And the Lord of Mammon saith unto them, “Verily?” And the money changers answered aloud with one voice, saying, “Yea, verily.”

11. And the Lord of Mammon was wroth, and he did breathe out threatenings and cursings against that one called Jesus of Nazareth, and did mock him for being without a home, and without an earthly occupation, and that he was without purse or scrip.

12. And the money changers saith unto the Lord of Mammon, “Tell us, pray thee, what ought we to do? For behold, every day, thousands of people do flock to the temple, and walk its grounds, for verily, the temple is beautiful to behold. And verily, we have been cast outside the temple walls, and are here without a fine habitation to display our goods for sale. For behold, the habitation wherein we now display our goods groweth old. And behold, the money of those thousands who do visit the temple grounds each day doth slip through our fingers, even as it were a dream.”

13. And the Lord of Mammon looked upon the money changers and had compassion upon them, and saith unto them, “What desirest thou?”

14. And the money changers answered aloud with one voice, crying, “Build us a great and spacious building [4] with a great marketplace where we can display our fine linens, and our fine goods, and that hath mansions for the richest among us to dwell in! That all who visit the temple and its grounds may spend their money in our great marketplace, and fulfill the measure of their creation in so doing, and find joy therein, or at least die trying!”

15. And the Lord of Mammon saith: “Yea, verily, if thou hast faith in Mammon even as a mustard seed, it shall be done as thou hast said.” And the money changers did rejoice with a great rejoicing. [5]

16. But behold, he who was called Judas, who would betray Jesus of Nazareth, and who did keep the purse for both Jesus and the Lord of Mammon, that same Judas did say unto the Lord of Mammon, “But sir, where shall we find the money to build the great and spacious building of which thou speakest?”

17. And the Lord of Mammon answered saying, “O Judas, ye of little faith. Have not rich widowers bequeathed unto us profitable businesses that we inherited when their spirits departed this mortal world?” And Judas saith unto him, “Yea, Lord”.

18. And the Lord of Mammon saith unto Judas, “Behold, bring me the money that hath been got from those businesses, and borrow much more from those who charge usury, and we shall have plenty to build the great and spacious building that the money changers seek. Yea, even that there not be room enough to receive it.”

19. And now behold, a certain man who did care for the poor and needy did say unto the Lord of Mammon, “Kind sir, I perceive that thou hast much money, even more than is sufficient for thy needs, yea, and for the needs of all those who inhabit the land.” And the Lord of Mammon saith unto him, “Yea, verily! Thou mayest say that again!”

20. And the man saith unto the Lord of Mammon, “Behold, kind sir, didst not thou hear what Jesus of Nazareth hath said? Didst not thou hear him say:

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a sheperd divideth his sheep from the goats:
“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“. . . Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

21. And behold, the man who careth for the poor saith unto the Lord of Mammon, “Behold, kind sir, would not the money thou spendest upon the great and spacious building be better spent caring for the least of these of which Jesus spoke?”

22. And behold, the Lord of Mammon was wroth, but he did catch himself, and did respond with a soft voice, that did seem to have authority, saying, “My dear brother, this great marketplace, and these mansions for the rich, they are needed to protect the sanctity of the temple which lieth across the way. Wouldst thou not that we care for the temple?”

23. And behold, the man who careth for the poor saith to the Lord of Mammon, “But sir, we could take the money that thou doth receive from thine many profitable businesses, and that which thou borrowest, and build up homes for the poor, and clothe them, and feed them, and pay doctors to care for them.”

23. And behold, the money changers did laugh, and mock the man to scorn, crying aloud with one voice, saying, “Lo, here is a man who careth not for the temple, for he doth want to spend the money helping the poor, and doth not want to increase the beauty of the land nearest the temple! And tell us, pray thee, [6] which is more important? The temple, in which God doth dwell, or the poor, in whom God doth not dwell?” Yea, and all the money changers laughed with a great laughing.

24. And behold, the man who cared for the poor went away sorrowing, and sought after Jesus of Nazareth.

25. And now it came to pass that all was done as the money changers had asked the Lord of Mammon. For behold, more than one hundred thousand thousands of talents were spent to build a great and spacious building. And it held a great marketplace therein, where the money changers sold fine linens, and corsets, and bonnets, and crisping pins, and wimples, and dimples [7]. And spacious mansions for the rich to dwell in.

26. And behold, a bridge did stretch forth over the way that divideth the temple grounds from the great and spacious building, that the temple and the great and spacious building might not be divided, but that the twain might be made one. That those who did visit the temple grounds might more easily spend their money in the great marketplace.

27. And behold, the money changers [8] did rejoice with a great rejoicing, and did pay the Lord of Mammon their tithes and offerings. Which thing they did suppose to be quite a bargain, getting to keep 90% of the profit and all.

28. And behold, when the poor entered the great and spacious building, to look for a place to sleep, or food to eat, or clothes to wear, they did discover that they did not have money enough to make purchase there, for the homes and clothes and goods therein were exceedingly costly. For this was not the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of Mammon.

Footnotes:

[1] Anti-Mammons have challenged the historicity of the Gospel of Mammon because of its reference to a “Nacho stand”. However, scholars funded by Mammon, Inc. (who are really, really smart and know way more about this stuff than you do) have conclusively resolved this superficial attack by determining that the words “Nacho stand”: (a) were genuine Hebrew words that had the same meaning anciently as they do today; or (b) were genuine Hebrew words that were used anciently to describe something different from what those words are used to describe today; or (c) were not Hebrew words at all but rather are modern words used by the modern translator to identify a genuine Hebrew thing that was known by a now unknown Hebrew name; or (d) have absolutely no linguistic or historical grounding in fact, time, space, or reality, but rather, were inserted into the text to test the faith of the faithful. Take your pick.

[2] Anti-Mammons likewise challenge the historicity of the Gospel of Mammon because of its reference to “platinum” and “titanium”, because those metals were not discovered or used by man at the time this book is purported to have been authored (i.e., 30-33 C.E.). However, this superficial attack is easily disarmed with numerous plausible possibilities. See Footnote 1.

[3] “[S]mite us with a great smiting” is an obvious Hebraism that evidences the historical authenticity of the Gospel of Mammon. It is impossible that someone who was familiar with the Bible could have mimicked Biblical-sounding language to dupe readers into thinking the book was of an ancient Hebrew origin.

[4] This reference to the “great and spacious building” evidences the authentic, ancient Hebrew origin of the Gospel of Mammon because that same term is used in the Book of Mormon, another authentic ancient scripture authored by people of Hebrew origin.

[5] “[R]ejoice with a great rejoicing” is another total Hebraism. Again, does anyone really think someone familiar with the Bible could have tried to fool us into thinking this book was scripture by using Biblical language like this? I don’t think so.

[6] Anti-Mammons have challenged the historicity of the Gospel of Mammon by pointing to phrases like “pray thee” as obvious evidence of imposture, as there would be no reason for the translator, living in the 21st Century, to have used 17th Century colloquial English in translating the record. However, scholars funded by Mammon, Inc. have once again easily and creatively dismissed this argument. See Footnote 1.

[7] Anti-Mammons have challenged the historicity of the Gospel of Mammon by pointing to words like “corsets and bonnets” as obvious evidence of imposture, as they are anachronisms, and to words like “wimples and dimples” as they do not correspond to anything authentically Hebrew and are just plain silly. However . . . see Footnote 1.

[8] Anti-Mammons have challenged the historicity of the Gospel of Mammon because it depicts “money changers” as being salesmen of goods, whereas in New Testament times they were actually persons who exchanged currencies. However, scholars funded by Mammon, Inc. have easily, resoundingly, and unquestionably removed all doubts here. Or at least made things so confusing you’ll give up trying to make sense of it all. See Footnote 1.

Comments

comments

Comments 31

  1. Very nice post. I always like the “Screwtape letters” approach, as it makes me think more about a subject.

    One thing that came to mind when I saw the following:

    21. And behold, the man who careth for the poor saith unto the Lord of Mammon, “Behold, kind sir, would not the money thou spendest upon the great and spacious building be better spent caring for the least of these of which Jesus spoke?”

    25. And now it came to pass that all was done as the money changers had asked the Lord of Mammon. For behold, more than one hundred thousand thousands of talents were spent to build a great and spacious building. And it held a great marketplace therein, where the money changers sold fine linens, and corsets, and bonnets, and crisping pins, and wimples, and dimples [7]. And spacious mansions for the rich to dwell in.

    ——————-
    As a Church, we spend actual cash outlays of around $15-20 million per year on humanitarian needs (from the Church’s own website). Even if you add in the “in-kind” donations (which counts the value of time donated, etc. as if it were cash), it still comes to around $40 million per year. Just in the last 6 months, the Church has spent tens of millions buying up properties around Salt Lake City. And this doesn’t include the $2-3 BILLION spent on a mall with great buildings, many shops in a marketplace, and million-dollar condominiums for rich people. There is some truth to your post.

  2. Very timely and well put. I may have said this before, so sorry for the rehash – but I just can’t picture Jesus sitting in the Church Office Buildings in downtown SLC, negotiating on the day to day affairs of a commercial rennovation project estimated in the billions of dollars. I would like to think that the man who loveningly counselled the Rich Man to “sell all thou has and distribute unto the poor”, could put his money where his mouth is and do the same. If I assume that he actually can, then I have to wonder why “his” Church can’t. Then I realize that this rennovation project just doesn’t score points for the claim that Jesus is at the head of the Mormon Church.

  3. It’s obvious that there is a lot going on with this post. We’re talking about the BoM, the church and its money, apologists, critics, moral imperatives to give to the poor, etc.

    Frankly, I’m still digesting it all and am a little unsure how to respond. I love the post, it’s brilliantly done, I’m just not sure how to respond.

  4. I wonder if this was the gospel Mormon was responding to when he wrote

    37 For behold, ye do love amoney, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
    38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye aashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
    39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?

  5. Yawn.

    I’ve got no more problem with the Church’s investment arm building a mall, than I do with them buying stock or bonds. The alternative is the Church getting into one of its formerly frequent financial crises. I would like to see more humanitarian relief done, but The Mall doesn’t represent $2 billion poured into a black hole. The idea is that it’s $2 billion being invested in a project that will have a better return on investment than the Church has been getting.

    The only observation I would make, is that pouring $2 billion into real estate investment right before what is in all likelihood an extraordinarily prolonged downturn in that market is not exactly brilliant business judgment. Not quite Kirtland Safety Society bad business judgment, but not great, either.

    Isaiah lost me, by the way, when he included “changeable suits of apparel” in his list of wickedly fashionable vanities. I know a few people who could do with changing their suits of apparel a bit more often.

  6. When I was in law school, two of my profs debated, over a period of time, whether Salt Lake could be saved from becoming a Detroit.

    Projects like this were what it took then, and renewal of them is what it probably takes now.

  7. #6: Thomas

    To you the $2 billion spent on a mall represents a better return on investment. To me, the $2 billion represents 133 years of cash towards humanitarian needs at the Church’s present rate. One of these seems like a corporation and one seems more like Christ’s church, but that is my own opinion which is obviously different than yours. We just can’t complain when we’re portrayed on the cover of Time as “Mormons Inc”

  8. The Church’s annual revenue is estimated at $5-6 billion annually. If there’s any objection here, it’s not in the Church setting aside about 1/3 of that amount as a reserve — it’s in the fact that the Church’s humanitarian expenditures are so small.

    Keep in mind that the Church is not just blowing $2 billion on consumption. At the beginning of this project, the Church had $2 billion in cash (or equivalent). At the end, it will have a $2 billion mall — convertible, if necessary, back into cash.

    I don’t know what the Church’s operating costs are, but assume tithing were to fall off dramatically in the future. How many years could the Church continue operating as at present with that $2 billion? One? Keep in mind that the Church flirted with insolvency just a few decades ago. That institutional memory probably goes a long way towards explaining why the Church is interested in building a reserve to keep it from happening again.

    The trillions of dollars that have been spent on anti-poverty programs and private initiatives in the years since the Church’s last financial crisis, demonstrate that the poor we have with us always. I’d like to see the Church do more in this area, but I don’t think the Church is obliged to consume its seed corn, either. Again, I’m more disappointed with the Church’s financial stewards for having the same boneheaded optimism about real estate as any rubber-chested California realtor.

  9. I disagree on the timing aspect, what better time to invest if your time horizon is fifty years or more. It has already created jobs, and will continue to do so as someone will have to manage the cash registers. I don’t even think that it is entirely unethical – though the rigid stance on tithing makes me uncertain as to exactly how I feel about this. In spite of the cost I have the impression that the Church has still taken a low risk approach to this project, so the possibility of having to weather another dip in the recession has been carefully considered and would still be sustainable in the long run. So in the long term this may have turned out well for the Church because their investment will be set to capitalize on the recovery (whether that means 2 years from now, or 10), and they can now take advantage of lower costs.

    While the relationship to charity offerings is a bit telling, the real flaw I see in this endeavor is that it exposes the true source of the Church’s power. As far as we know Jesus forsook all dependence on mortal economies by at least the age of thirty at the beginning of a full time ministry – and this assumes that based on the minor references to his being trained in the vocation of Joseph, he lived this way at all. From the beginning of ministry he lived on the sustenance of God who and or his Priesthood Authority (as per Mormon thought) such that he could feed thousands with a few fishes and loaves. Or he could draw coins from the mouth of a fish to pay taxes, and at the same time reject it all for his Kingdom was not of this earth. He sent his apostles out without purse or scrip, promising that the same God who knew each sparrow and dressed the lillies, would provide their sustenance. He filled their nets with more fish than they could bear, and straightway called them to leave those same nets. Implicit in this message of mastering mortal economics and then forsaking it, was that not only was his Kingdom “not of this world”, but that it also held total dominance over this world. The Mormon Church has not overcome this world, but instead has mastered. The modern apostles appear not to have foraken nets, rather just taken hold of the corporate nets – but they are still fishing for fish, when their sole purpose as per scripture is to be fishers of men. It was also a full time job that frankly could not be performed by anyone not sustained of God. Again this just does not bode well for the fundamental claim of Mormonism, ie, the restoration of Christs Church clothed with Power and Authority.

  10. Thomas:

    I understand that the Church is a business. I understand that they buy malls and property and such trying to “make money” on their investments. Things that frustrate me when I attempt to look at my Church through spiritual eyes and not through the eyes of a businessman.

    1) If the Church currently collects $5-6 billion from its members each year, yet spends only $15-20 million / year in actual cash humanitarian assistance, that is only around 0.3% of their collections. I would expect Christ’s church to care more about the poor and less about buildings and condos and shopping malls.

    2) When the Church spends so much of it’s money on stuff and not people, and I’m giving them so much money (I’ve been very blessed in my life), it makes me want to give the institution less and give more to something that helps people more directly. I have nothing about giving 10% of my income away to good causes, I just want them to be good causes.

    3) There are churches in this country that truly demonstrate their faith in God. At the end of each year, they essentially give away all of their surplus to the poor and rely on the grace of God and their members that they will have enough to get through the next year. While we may not do this, keeping billions of dollars “just in case” also doesn’t appeal to me.

    So, all in all, I have an extreme distaste for this. We hear disparaging remarks about the “TV evangelists” and the “mega-Churches” who have opulent buildings and jets for their leaders etc all upon the donations of their members. They will justify it saying they need it to “reach out to their flock” or need to “inspire reverence” in their members. Are we too far away from that, and how?

  11. I have a hard enough time slogging through “scriptural language” for inspiration/doctrine. I totally zone out and drop off if I’m only reading for satire or biting social commentary. Not worth the time/effort, IMO. I didn’t make it 6 verses in.

    It’s like having an important thing to say, and you choose to have Yoko Ono sing it instead. It may be insightful, but no one will persevere long enough to hear it.

  12. Here are some questions I have along these lines:
    1. How do we know how much the church gives away in humanitarian causes? The church doesn’t even expose this information (another issue entirely). We can extrapolate from the church in the UK, but this may or may not be accurate.
    2. At least once each conference one of the talks is about how great the church is at giving aid both in terms of goods as well as in labor. Most members believe this completely and believe they are contributing to a great cause. I guess I’m not sure how I can persuade someone one way or the other. I have no hard facts.
    3. I think Thomas has some good points from the business perspective. But I agree with Mike S that when compared with other organizations I think many other churches are better at giving the “widows’s mite” as it were. However, I’m not sure whether or not I should care. Clearly if one extreme or the other is taken there will be serious consequences, so I’m not so sure the church isn’t doing right. I dunno, I’m really torn on the issue!

  13. Mike #12:

    So, all in all, I have an extreme distaste for this. We hear disparaging remarks about the “TV evangelists” and the “mega-Churches” who have opulent buildings and jets for their leaders etc all upon the donations of their members. They will justify it saying they need it to “reach out to their flock” or need to “inspire reverence” in their members. Are we too far away from that, and how?”

    From where I’m sitting, I can see the garish wedding-cake complex of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, home of the televangelist Paul Crouch and his purple-haired wife. I think we’re still pretty far from that — if nothing else, because there truly is an ethos of non-flashiness among the LDS leadership. President Monson lives in a perfectly ordinary suburban house over in the Mill Creek neighborhood. I think we’re still fairly far from the televangelist money culture we dislike.

    “There are churches in this country that truly demonstrate their faith in God. At the end of each year, they essentially give away all of their surplus to the poor and rely on the grace of God and their members that they will have enough to get through the next year. While we may not do this, keeping billions of dollars “just in case” also doesn’t appeal to me.”

    I think the difference arises from the self-perception of the Church vs. the churches you have in mind. If the operation of a faithful, humble evangelical pastor goes Tango Uniform, he can rest assured that others, equally capable of declaring the Word, will continue the cause. Men who believe they are the stewards of the actual literal physical Kingdom of God probably want to be a bit more careful to preserve it.

    Mind, I’m fully aware of “institutional creep” — the tendency for institutional self-preservation to sneak towards the top of any institution’s priority list. The Church absolutely isn’t immune. And I do wonder just how much of the Church’s (undisclosed) revenue is spent on expenses. The Church does have the challenge of rapid growth to cope with, often in places where the local members’ contributions don’t come close to paying for the religious infrastructure that is deemed necessary — but dang, six billion dollars? That goes a long way.

    But the issue of The Mall just doesn’t excite me. I suppose it’s because I’d already resigned myself to the Church reserving a large portion of its revenues for the proverbial rainy day. How those revenues are stored, is less important than that they are held back and not expended.

  14. #14: jmb275

    In response to your questions:

    1. This is one area the Church is fairly transparent about. The link is their own website: http://www.providentliving.org/welfare/pdf/WelfareFactSheet.pdf

    Cash donations (1985-2009): $327.6 million / 25 years = $13.1 million per year in actual cash spent
    Value of material assistance: $884.6 million / 25 years = $35.4 million per year in value of time donated, other donations, etc from members

    So, the Church actually spends $13.1 million per year from the $5-6 billion it apparently takes in. As members, we donate another $35.4 million worth of time and other material goods.

    2. We do help the world to the tune of almost $50 million per year if you count the cash, volunteer time, donated food, etc. of the members. This money goes far in poor countries, and these are the examples that the Church talks about in conference. Another way to look at it, however, is that the Church gives away less than 0.3% of the cash it takes in for humanitarian needs. And even if we include the value of donated time, food, cash, and everything else, we give on average $48.5 million / 13.8 million = $3.51 per member, or about less than the cost of a Big Mac value meal per person per year. Even taking out the inactive members and the fact that there were fewer members 20 years ago, it still isn’t much per person.

    3. I don’t know that right answer either. If I had my choice, I would rather be involved with a Church that is known for its humanitarian work than its malls and buildings. I would rather the cover of Time Magazine talk about the sacrifices my church makes for the poor with 2 billion spent there than on a mall. I would rather know that my tithing money is going to help those less fortunate than me than to build million dollar condos that the Church thinks it can make a nice return on. It seems to me that Christ spent more time actually helping the poor than building up a “nest egg” so that He could help the poor in the “future”, whenever that may be. But again, that’s just me.

  15. Those numbers, of course, do not count fast offering expenditures.

    Nor do those numbers count urban renewal projects, which is what the current project is, just like the last one. The whole of point of which is to keep Salt Lake out of an urban death spiral like Detroit experienced, while generating an acceptable return on investment.

    Or is the point that the Church should never get a return on investment if it has cash reserves and it should just have let Salt Lake fall apart in the late 70s, early 80s and should do so now?

  16. Why are people assuming this post has anything to do with the LDS church? I mean, it’s called the Gospel of the Anti-Christ.

    Stephen (17), I don’t get the point of your question. It seems strange to ask whether a church should “let” a city “fall apart”. Should the Lutherans let Des Moines fall apart? Should the Presbyterians let Cincinnati fall apart? Should the Catholics let Boston fall apart? Where do you come up with the assumption that a church, any church, has an obligation to keep a city afloat financially? And if so, why pick SLC? Why doesn’t the LDS church prevent Detroit or other cities from falling apart? So it just seems odd to suggest a church, any church, has an obligation to keep a city, any city, financially afloat. Particularly when that’s in the form of building luxury high rise condos.

  17. “Or is the point that the Church should never get a return on investment if it has cash reserves and it should just have let Salt Lake fall apart in the late 70s, early 80s and should do so now?”

    Again, doesn’t bode well for the message. It should be the light of Christ, or the gospel message that beams like a light on a hill, that keeps the downtown area from deteriorating. Instead we have a clear acknowledgement that the greatest contributing factor to dysfunction, crime, and generally those things which characterize a wicked and degenerate society is not Satan – but poverty.

    Regarding the numbers, this can be misleading. Most of the charity done at the local level, as has been mentioned, are out of funds derived from Fast Offerings – which I believe is above and beyond Church tithing revenues. Secondly, while the Church may bring in an estimated 5 – 6 billion each year in tithing reciepts, this say’s nothing about the estimated operating costs of the Church. The utiltities for each building, the employees, the curriculum, the broadcasts, excess funds proped against running BYU and the other Colleges and Universities, maintenance of Church history properties, pageants, various publishing efforts (Scriptures, manuals, etc), humanatarian aid, the missionary program, research, The Jerusalam Center, etc, etc. While some of these interests are self sustaining, at least to a point, the fact remains that it is also very expensive to run the Church just day to day – not including Temple and Ward/Stake facility construction and property purchases for these purposes. If we had the true figures to all of this you might find that your ratio of Humanatarian Aid to Profit is much more favorable. On the other hand, the Church opens itself up to this kind criticism based on it’s super tight lipped management of Church finances.

  18. “Monpdern Prayer
    Almighty Mammon, make me rich! Make me rich quickly, with never a hitch in my fine prosperity! Kick those in the dich who hinder me, Mammon, great son of a bitch!
    Just a poem I come accross

  19. Stephen #17: “The whole of point of which is to keep Salt Lake out of an urban death spiral like Detroit experienced….”

    To be fair, it’s hard to pull a full Detroit without a death-embrace between a mindless sclerotic crime-ignoring political machine and entrenched unions. Downtown Salt Lake might get a bit shabby, but a full Detroit Atlas-Shrugged collapse would probably take more suicidal tendencies than Salt Lake has available, Mall or no Mall.

  20. When we read what the scriptures tell us about ancient times, so much of it seems so absurd (i.e. all the magical stuff) that to keep from laughing we have to ignore what we know and experience in the world of the present.

    This post demonstrates that the converse is also true: If we were to take the actions of the Church leaders today and imagine Jesus and the Apostles overseeing massive real estate projects to save a city’s financial soul, rather than sticking to saving souls spiritually and caring for the poor, we would have to ignore everything we know about Jesus and the Apostles of old in order to keep from laughing at the present.

  21. So this is about the Mall project? Bah! I totally feel led down the primrose path. I thought we were talking about Beehive Clothing & the Distribution Center. Now that’s quite a racket. I did wonder, though, when the quality of the clothing was being extolled. It would seem Mormons are allergic to natural fabrics and owning up to their real sizes.

    Mike S: “It seems to me that Christ spent more time actually helping the poor than building up a “nest egg” so that He could help the poor in the “future”, whenever that may be. But again, that’s just me.” Kind of, but he also said “The poor you have always with you” when Judas balked at the waste of expensive oil being poured all over Jesus.

  22. Ed, Thomas, you are both probably too young to remember when Second South was pretty much given over, or when Salt Lake became a major drug hub for a while because of location.

    I’ve been too terse about the long discussions and debates at the law school over whether Salt Lake could be saved in the late 70s and early 80s. I suspect those are reprising now. Or were. Suffice it to say, Salt Lake was very much in a position to fall into a death spiral, especially because the center lacked much density. The entire valley could easily allow the core to be abandoned.

    Which leads to the question about an entity and its home location and whether it should “let” the environment fall apart vs being involved other places. Much like whether or not you should tell your wife “honey, why should I paint our house when their are millions of houses all over that need paint?”

    Anyway, to get to Ed’s point, why should the Church choose to place investment funds in a project that preserves its home environment over something else? Should an entity that has an identity that ties into a city (and the LDS Church does have identity issues with SLC even though the city is less than 40% LDS now) have any concern about the state of the city that impacts its identity?

    Not to mention that the funds, project, etc. numbers I often hear are total value of the project vs. total investment by the LDS Church in a multi-party project.

    Of course Christ was anticipating an apostasy and a complete loss of legitimate structure. I’d feel differently about projects if the leaders knew that SLC was going to be nuked in a few years, much like when Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans. I might expect them to be warning people to prepare to flee rather than telling them how to stick.

    On the other hand, I find this an excellent example of how you can take something, investment of reserves that will happen any way, in what is generally considered a very responsible way, that is fighting urban decay, and turn it into a basis to attack and criticize. It kind of calls for a post on that topic.

    The Critics You Will Have With You Always …

    No matter what you do, people will snark. There are places where it is obvious (e.g. the Snarkernacle) and places where it comes in holier than thou flavors, and places where it comes out of willful ignorance. Even worse, there are times that the people snarking are right.

    When are they right? Of course that is easy to pinpoint. Everyone agrees that snarking is right when it agrees with our preconceptions and wrong when it disagrees with what we think. I know that is how I judge it, this is the internet after all.

    But that begs the point, and illustrates it too.

    So it does.

  23. hawkgrrl:

    “Kind of, but he also said “The poor you have always with you” when Judas balked at the waste of expensive oil being poured all over Jesus.”

    I agree with that. The oil was used to honor Christ. We do that in many ways, and I’ve never mentioned church buildings or educational facilities or the missionary program or any other similar thing as being invalid. At the same time, I do think there is a difference between spending money to “honor Christ” vs building million dollar condos and retail shops.

    And while we will always have the poor with us, at $1-2/day/child, we could help A LOT of people for the billions we are spending on commercial properties. We may not solve poverty, but we could certainly change some people’s lives.

    And if there was plenty of money, great, build a mall. My issue is the staggering difference between the $15 million (or double it to $30 million) we spend in cash each year for humanitarian things, when we’re spending billions on real estate and condos for rich people and high end shops and such. It just promotes the image of the Church as a corporation as opposed to an organization here to care for the sick, needy and downtrodden in the world.

  24. this from thomas in #10
    “I don’t know what the Church’s operating costs are, but assume tithing were to fall off dramatically in the future. How many years could the Church continue operating as at present with that $2 billion? One? Keep in mind that the Church flirted with insolvency just a few decades ago. That institutional memory probably goes a long way towards explaining why the Church is interested in building a reserve to keep it from happening again.”

    in contrast…
    this from Cowboy in #11
    “… the real flaw I see in this endeavor is that it exposes the true source of the Church’s power. As far as we know Jesus forsook all dependence on mortal economies by at least the age of thirty at the beginning of a full time ministry …. Or he could draw coins from the mouth of a fish to pay taxes, and at the same time reject it all for his Kingdom was not of this earth. He sent his apostles out without purse or scrip, promising that the same God who knew each sparrow and dressed the lilies, would provide their sustenance. He filled their nets with more fish than they could bear, and straightway called them to leave those same nets. Implicit in this message of mastering mortal economics and then forsaking it, was that not only was his Kingdom “not of this world”, but that it also held total dominance over this world. The Mormon Church has not overcome this world, but instead has mastered. The modern apostles appear not to have forsaken nets, rather just taken hold of the corporate nets – but they are still fishing for fish, when their sole purpose as per scripture is to be fishers of men. It was also a full time job that frankly could not be performed by anyone not sustained of God. Again this just does not bode well for the fundamental claim of Mormonism, ie, the restoration of Christs Church clothed with Power and Authority.”

    and this from Francis Chan
    “Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust in God if something unexpected happens – they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them – they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what God what life God would have them live – they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis – their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.” (Crazy Love p. 78)

    Lastly, i think of that movie about John Tanner, an early convert to the Church (a rich guy who gave all his money so that it could move along; he helped resolve the Kirtland Safety Society fiasco somewhat). There’s a scene where Joseph and some brethren are praying for the Lord to provide the means they need, because they simply don’t have it, and then Bro Tanner shows up. Now I don’t know if that scene happened as portrayed, but it sends a message that we should trust in God for our sustenance, and not forget about Him because we have a nice, settled, bank account.

    Now there is wisdom in planning expenditures ahead of time (its a stewardship after all), but its also very easy to lose sight of the Kingdom of God as we build up the economic kingdom of God right now. And I’m not suggesting that the Brethren (thank you uncorrelated history) have forgotten that charge. But it does seem like a great many within the Church have.
    I happened to be in the neighborhood around lunchtime about a week ago, so i stopped in at the new food court. On the table was a little ad from one of the banks. It showed a mountaintop, which was solidly rock at the summit. Atop the rock was a multimillion dollar home, all by itself. The caption said “Be Wise”, then suggested getting a fixed low rate mortgage before rates rise again. I looked at that and was appalled. That anyone would twist the Savior’s words so saddens me. He did not advocate building large houses above everyone else, rather He commanded loving the poor and the needy. And the analogy from which the ad was taken didnt even reference house building at all, its about following His commandments.
    that mentality I find troubling.

  25. Ethesis,

    I’m pretty sure that you and the people arguing with you live in separate universes. And have very different priorities.

    If hearing about the City Creek Mall doesn’t shake your faith in the church, you worship a different God than I do.

  26. So sad chapter two was “lost” so quickly. If satire cuts to the quick, why don’t we ask ourselves “Why?” instead of hiding it away?

  27. #29 SteveS

    It’s obvious: “…Some things that are true are not very useful…” so we should only talk about things that are faith-promoting.

    While it was briefly up and comments were open, it is sad that people rarely addressed the issues in the post, but instead started attacking each other, with one commenter even suggesting that the poster should basically be excommunicated.

  28. I did comment as RM in the comment section of Chapter two which is now sealed. One faith promoting aspect of chapters one and two is that ironically the very problems described are further proof that this was/is the restored kingdom—(see DC 112, 3 Nephi 16, Mormon 8). If we were not having these issues then our prophecies would not reflect our reality in these last days where as far as I can tell the “condemnation” we are under per our Prophet ET Benson has not been lifted–the consequences of which are regression of sorts rather then progression. But heck let’s not look at ourselves in the mirror.

    As to John Tanner, he is my great, great, great grandfather. I know the “rest of the story” /details of his giving up all for this Church and kingdom. He “was” very wealthy. God bless him. He was a true disciple from what I read of the stories in our family histories. He was not given a Disclosure Statement as to church finances and what was going on when he gave up all he had—and he had a lot before joining Mormonism. He was and we are blessed by his sacrifice and so we can be. It’s just that unlike that time we the little people have so much more information. And from what I understand we are still governed or should be by “Common Consent.”

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