I have often thought that had I not joined the Church at age 19 I would have liked to have joined a kibbutz in Israel, or to have lived on “the Farm” in Tennessee (back when it was more hippie-like), or at least to have been a part of an intentional community. As I began investigating the LDS Church, and in particular reading the passages in Moses under consideration in our Sunday School Lesson #5, I was drawn to the strong emphasis on cooperative community which began under the direction of Joseph Smith and continued in Utah under Brigham Young and survived even to the present day. I expected to be instructed in the principles of consecration and called upon to live them more and more as the “latter day” rolled on.
Thirty years later, I’ve been disappointed.
We do have our temple covenants to consecrate our time, talents and means to the Church in order to establish Zion. Most twenty-first century Latter-day Saints would say that this Law of Consecration is very different than the “United Order” experiments which were undertaken in various ways in the early days of the Church. We can live the Law of Consecration, they say, by generous payment of our tithes and offerings, and serving in the Church. But here’s where my fundamentalist streak comes out. All around me I see Mormons who are saturated in capitalism and as far as can be from my conception of the Enoch-founded City of Zion. I long to experience an Orderville, a Bunkerville, or even a Morley farm. I’m inspired by early accounts of the communitarianism of Jackson County, and I share the bit of longing which resides deep in almost every Latter-day Saint heart to return there in preparation for the Millennium. Where is our Brigham City, our Kingston, our Kanab? Even ZCMI and most of our welfare farms have slowly passed away. Is D&C 42 no longer applicable in our modern world?
Mormon teachings on Enoch and the City of Zion lend a fascinating patina to this yearning of mine. It is often pointed out that Enoch receives a scant 6 verses in Genesis, 1 in Jude and 1 in Hebrews. But the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price enlarges greatly upon his story. Here we learn about a man who walked and talked with God — who, when he spoke the words of God, the people trembled and could not stand in his presence. He drew these people together and made them into a community among whom God himself could dwell.
Reading about Enoch is a reminder of the impetus which let to the collectivist communities of early Mormonism. The best that is in our people leads us to dream of achieving income equality, eliminating poverty, and increasing group self-sufficiency, to the extent that we will be taken up by God to meet the faithful Saints of Enoch’s day and the Church of the Firstborn.
Additional Mormon folklore is fascinating for me to peruse as I compare my desires for utopia with those of the early Saints. The Autobiography of George Laub, for example, elucidates the early view of some Mormons that Zion was taken up slowly into heaven, remaining visible in the distance for quite some time. Thus, one of the purposes for building the Tower of Babel was to attempt to reach this higher state:
“Now I will tell the designs of building the tower of Bable. It was designed to goe to the city of Enoch, for the veil was not yet so thick that it hid it from their Sight. So they concluded to goe to the City of Enoch, for God gave him place above this impure Earth. For he could breath a pure air & him and his City was taken, for God provided a better place for him for they was pure in heart. For it is the pure in heart that causes Zion to be & the time will come again to meet, that Enoch and his city will come again to meet our city & his people, our people, & the Air will be pure & the Lord will be in our midst for Ever.”
Sometimes I feel positively Nimrod-ish — coveting that city in the air and yet feeling the pull of the fleshly Babel.
It seems I’m not the only Latter-day Saint who is drawn into flights of fancy when contemplating the story of Enoch and his city. Here’s another speculation:
“The people, and the city, and the foundations of the earth on which it stood, had partaken of so much of the immortal elements, bestowed upon them by God through the teachings of Enoch, that it became philosophically impossible for them to remain any longer upon the earth; consequently, Enoch and his people, with the city which they occupied, and the foundations on which it stood, with a large piece of earth immediately connected with the foundations and the city, had assumed an aerial position within the limits of our solar system; and this in consequence of their faith.” (History of the Organization of the Seventies, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1878, p. 11.)
The image is deeply moving — what an empty place is left on the earth with the fleeing of Zion ! As well, there’s an empty place in our Mormon teachings when we take away the “United Order” conception of the Law of Consecration.
As we cover these scripture passages in upcoming Sunday School classes, are you feeling satisfied with the efforts that the twenty-first century Church is making to live the Law of Consecration by tithes and offerings, humanitarian services, and a few projects such as the Perpetual Education Fund? Or do you miss the days of closer member involvement and hands-on work with area welfare farms, cattle ranches, and peanut-butter factories? Dare I ask — do you ever cast an eye toward Short Creek and their “house built in a day?” Every once in a while, like me, do you get an urge to see if you are made of celestial material by marching in to your Bishop’s office and throwing down your bank card, the deed to your house and title to your car?
I don’t see how so many saints can walk around this and many other passages in the D&C that talk about how Zion is about eliminating poverty. The primary way of doing it is naturally getting everyone employed, but what of the disabled?
Very cool post (and pictures!).
I remember teaching gospel doctrine a number of years ago (it was a D&C year) and asking during a lesson on Section 42 if the Law of Consecration were in force today. A surprising number of people said “no.”
There was an equating of the L of C with the United Order (which isn’t in place).
You raise excellent questions. My favorite Nibley book (ok, maybe the only one I’ve actually finished) is Approaching Zion, which considers some of the questions you ask.
In the end, we have to ask ourselves, how much is surplus? And why isn’t more?
The Book of Mormon seems pretty clear on this subject: the real judgement of a People is how they treat the poor.
All our furniture is, but for a couple of exceptions, recycled (thrown out by others, that is). We could have bought furniture, and some other stuff that many other people have, but we thought that our prime responsibility was to offer our kids a home where they have a primary caretaker present, and from the way our five adult children behave toward us and little children I deduce that they have felt something like love in our home, and also the Spirit.
I could ask for only one thing more: That I would/could have dedicated even more time to being with my sons in their “tweens” as well as teens.
Oh, and our secondary responsibility is to give what we can to help others (see King Benjamin in Msh 4).
Speaking of which, when I hear people speak about the “undeserving” it always reminds me of Mosiah 4:17, 22
I am not saying this as much by way of judgment, as an argument that we should help even those who seem to us to be “undeserving” because we are all undeserving before God, no matter who we are. It is natural that we expect those, who understand the gospel, to be diligent in supporting themselves and managing their means wisely. Do we have the right to expect someone, who hasn’t been taught neither principle nor practice to do the same?
I think the church’s emphasis on missionary work is one of the reasons why the church membership has moved away from these types of communities. Rather than gather to Zion (and to communities like you’ve described) we are asked to build up Zion where we are (remain part of the communities where we already live and build up the membership). What was once a physical gathering is now a spiritual gathering. The church could try to have its members establish these types of communities all over the world but I think that would stymie the missionary effort and would reduce current church membership. Most people have to make a lot of difficult changes to their lifestyle when they join the church. How many fewer would join if they were expected to live in these types of communities and share everything they have with everyone? I’m not saying that we wouldn’t be better off living like that, but it would be too much for most people even most members of the church. It’s just not a practical practice for a church that wants to grow.
Velska #3, that really is one of my HUGE soapbox issues. When we lived on the border of Mexico we had a lot of members that had difficulty getting to Church but the ward would not organize or provide transportation even though it was brought up time and time again in ward council. The reasoning was that they did not want the members to become “dependent.” Conversely, Mosiah teaches us that we are all dependent. Many of the “Saints” I know seem to have no clue that in one fell swoop they could lose everything they have, and no amount of elbow grease or “self-sufficiency” would be able to help them.
DB, I find your argument unappealing. We don’t strive to eliminate the poor among us and to live in communion with each other because it would hinder missionary work? Nah, I just don’t see it. Not if it’s the pure in heart that we are trying to attract.
“Or do you miss the days of closer member involvement and hands-on work with area welfare farms, cattle ranches, and peanut-butter factories?” Yes
“Dare I ask — do you ever cast an eye toward Short Creek and their “house built in a day?” Not really.
To me the main thing that communitarian efforts by the LDS church demostrated was that people weren’t then and aren’t now ready to live that way. I don’t know if it’s a matter of lack of coversion to the early Christian ideal or if at the core people, in the words of one of my sainted relatives are just “no damn good”. As a people we’re willing to contribute to individuals that are sick or dying or whatever but not to the greater good of society. As far as comparing it to the City of Enoch it reminds me of your post on Adam and Eve and their being real, symbolic or somewhere in between. The City of Enoch is a great story but is it real and historical? I don’t think so.
As an aside why is it we revere Joseph Smith when he is supposed to have said,
“when the City of Enoch fled & was translated it was whare the gulf of Mexico now is. It left that gulf a body of water.”
Seems pretty strange to me.
I agree with DB that there is a pragmatic problem with creating this type of community and that it limits missionary work around the globe, not because of its egalitarian nature, but because gathering saints into isolation will reduce missionary effectiveness. There has to be more of a diaspora for the church to become global, and it can pose a lot of problems to build enclaves around the world. Personally, I think tithing is not a compromise, but a superior system.
Yet, I agree with your assessment that society is far too materialistic, including within the church. I was reading an excellent article in NYT yesterday about a family’s quest to radically reduce their materialism: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24kristof.html. They also wrote a book called The Power of Half. It’s an intriguing idea.
I don’t think there is anybody who is going to stop you from living the Law of Consecration if you so desire. I don’t think the Church is going to administer united companies anytime soon. But I don’t think Zion is going to work being imposed by a decree in SLC — I think it’s going to be built from the ground up by people who want it and live the Gospel the best that they can. And I think the point where you have an intentional community is well into the process.
I always had a hard time reconciling the D&C’s “it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another” with the difference between the luxurious Beehive House and the average Utah pioneer dwelling, or the Nauvoo Mansion House and the humble houses of the “supporting saints.”
I do not believe the United Order was inspired, as early Church leaders attempted to implement it. It was more or less warmed-over collectivism, just like any number of similar communitarian experiments at the same time. It may well be that one day the Lord’s people will live cooperatively, but the arrangement will be greatly different from how the early saints tried it.
Absent Christ presiding in person, I prefer honest capitalism to well-intended communalism — in which the Aristocracy of Pull simply replaces the aristocracy of ability, drive, and good fortune. Capitalism is fundamentally more honest than any other economic system; irrationality is punished far more quickly (usually within a maximum of seven years, or the average boom/bust cycle) than in collectivism, which can stagger on irrationally, wastefully, and oppressively for decades.
I approach it on an individual basis. In my profession, I specifically don’t turn away patients with Medicaid or no insurance. In my life, I have given thousands to friends in needs. In the Church, I served for years spending thousands and never turning in a receipt (in addition to paying tithing, fast offerings, etc.) The books I have been reading lately are about great people like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Saint Francis of Assisi, etc. who literally gave up everything (I also ordered the book “Power of Half” a few days ago after reading the same article)
I do this on my own. To be honest, I don’t trust an institution to do it for me. You can give me all the mumbo-jumbo you want about “sacred” funds vs “business” funds, but when the Church is spending 10x as much actual cash on a mall as they have in actual cash humanitarian assistance in the past 23 years COMBINED, I’ll keep doing it my way.
Thomas – you sounds like Ayn Rand, and I like it!
Hawk #11: Of course “aristocracy of pull” is shamelessly plagiarized. Atlas Shrugged was cartoonish and deeply flawed on more than a few levels (where are the kids, and without at least some unconditional altruism, how do you deal with the little creatures that are the ordinary consequence of friskiness like that little vixen Dagny Taggart’s?), but Rand absolutely nailed it with “it’s guns or dollars — take your pick.”
I have often wondered how the mega-rich LDS think of these things. How many cars to you need? How big of a mansion do you need? I think when the Savior said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, he meant what he said. That being said, I immediately realize the my modest house and beat up cars would seem like mega-wealth to people living in a mud hut with no medical care in rural Kenya. Money is part of the fallen world, and it gets in the way of our spirituality. We are far too caught up in materialism.
The emphasis of our Scriptures on the welfare of the poor, like the emphasis on peace, is so overwhelming that arguments against communalism must ultimately reference long-term consequences for the poor themselves in order to be credible. We need economists as well as prophets to solve the problems of poverty. But we also need to recognize that we do all rationalize self-interest beyond any Christ-like optimum, and be actively addressing this part of our lives, even once crisis-guilt falls back below discomfort levels.
I don’t think the United Order will be established until we are compelled to do so. That day may be fast approaching, with the economic challenges the world is facing now.
“We need economists as well as prophets to solve the problems of poverty.”
I think we have pretty much the last revealed word on whether poverty will ever be “solved” in Matthew 26:11.
“[A]rguments against communalism must ultimately reference long-term consequences for the poor themselves in order to be credible.”
OK, then. How about “Communalism objectively results in greater and more widespread poverty than social arrangements that respect individual liberty”?
The “long term consequences for the poor” is that there are always going to be “poor” people (defined as the people with the least means in any given society). It is better to be a poor person in a society where individualism is given its head — and therefore is able to produce enough that a surplus can be dedicated to the assistance of the poor, such that they enjoy standards of living objectively, materially better than nominally middle-class people only a generation or two ago — than in a society ostensibly dedicated to “the people’s welfare,” where oddly enough, the big man in charge of the people’s welfare always seems to be more equal than the others, and there’s no incentive for anybody to produce a surplus that will all just be expropriated anyway.
Keep in mind that Joseph was writing at a time when there was virtually no social safety net whatsoever (and thus virtually no tax burden). I know “are there no workhouses?” has a bad rap thanks to a certain adulterous novelist, but so can the idea that we are ignoring the poor be overdone.
I’m also a bit skeptical when an unemployed itinerant farmhand proposes communal living as the method to eliminate poverty, prophet or not. I also don’t go to a male gynecologist.
I don’t think it will ever happen, baring some extraordinary event, like Christ’s second coming. Communalism has failed on many, many levels. It failed in religiously based groups (ie. United Order, other gruops). It failed in non-religious groups (hippie communes come to mind). It failed on a small level. It failed on a massive level (remember the USSR?). It is hard to point out a single instance where it has worked on a long-term sustainable level.
I think a fundamental problem is that we are different. To me, I could care less on clothes. I am perfectly happy buying what I wear at Costco. But I love music and would save up to buy a new guitar or fly to a concert. To someone else, they probably think the money I spend on music is a waste, but they like to look nice. Someone else might “splurge” on ballet shoes. Someone else might put money into tinkering with their car. Who is to say which of these is right?
“I also don’t go to a male gynecologist.’
Neither do I…. 🙂
As the Church as eliminated more and more activities, opportunities to socialize and do service at the same time in order to provide more “time” to the family, I wonder if it is serving the intended purpose. I see more and more young people becoming disinterested and uninvolved with the Church. I do not see that families are using the time to better assist there children into gaining a stronger foothold in the Gospel and thus the church itself.
What has happened it that parents and children have filled the void created by the lack of Church activity with other things, like sports, etc. While we are perfectly able to seek out opportunities to service others and many do, seems like a refocus on church-organized things could be a benefit to the Church itself and the members.
We are not apt to become a Zion people the way things seem to be going.
I wonder if there is a causal relationship between the correlation you see between “more young people becoming disinterested and uninvolved,” and the elimination of more and more Church activities. There could be — or it could be that the currents of modernity that tend to undermine traditional religion, would go through any amount of Church programs like the proverbial whale through a net.
My grandfather was intensely involved in the old Church sports programs, and deeply loved the youth. He was also, I suspect, a bit skeptical of some of the Church’s claims, and reportedly partial to some quiet unorthopraxies. And yet he unambiguously loved the Church and its people, was friends with Apostles, served in Bishoprics, and died in full fellowship with a massive attendance in the chapel at his funeral.
He was, in short, a creature of 1950s Mormonism, which to me appears as something of a golden age, where the Church had many similarities with a mainline Protestant church. President Benson called us back from the peripheral aspects of Church culture, and back to the “keystone of our religion.” Doctrinal orthodoxy seems to have increased in importance relative to Mormon life. The advantage of this is that we probably get a greater proportion of on-fire-for-God true believers; the disadvantage is that we may have lost some of the youth who, though not inclined to fiery enthusiasm, may have been retainable by affection for the goodness of Church culture.
Actually, I always thought you WERE making arguments that could generally be justifiable by their effects on the poor.
I’ve never been convinced that “all things in common” optimizes human welfare even among completely moral people, and I know only one person I can state as completely moral (and I don’t understand Him).
I do know that I’m NOT completely moral, so I have to constantly question my own motives.
#19 Jeff Spector
You state: “seems like a refocus on church-organized things could be a benefit to the Church itself and the members”
I don’t think this is the problem. There are many, many Christian youth groups focusing on service. There are gatherings of tens of thousands of youth each summer. There are Christian groups serving in Haiti, with a much greater presence than our own Church. There are kids of all faiths which look around them and see the injustices and work to fix them where they can.
You see the young people “becoming disinterested and uninvolved with the Church” and think it’s because the Church is focusing LESS on programs, etc. I actually think the problem is the opposite. If you are a Young Man in the Church, you are expected to get Faith in God, then Duty To God (Deacon) & (Teacher) and (Priest). You are expected to get your eagle scout, then become a varsity and a venture scout. There are many, many rules and regulations, some of which are actually doctrinally based, and some of which are vestiges of cultural things. You have 3 hours of Church on Sundays, and YM/Scout meetings during the week. You have church ball on another night. You are supposed to go home teaching once a month. You need to get up early to go to seminary. You are even told (officially or unofficially) whether you should have a mustache, tattoo or an earring. You are even told what color of shirt to wear. Is it any wonder that the essence of the gospel is buried underneath all of these programs?
Contrast this with non-LDS Christian kids. They still have expected standards. But it’s not as crazy as what we expect of our youth. And I would argue that they are at least as good of witnesses of Christ as our youth. They wear bracelets proclaiming “WWJD”. They wear crosses and put fish on their cars. They care about others. But at the heart of everything is a love of Christ. No one really cares if they go to church every single week. No one cares what color shirt they wear or if they can check off a home teaching box each month. But they love Christ.
And as mentioned in #19, I would argue that things are different now. It is more important WHO you are rather than WHAT you do. In the past, participation in all of the Church’s many, many activities was seen as a proxy for being a good Mormon. I would argue that people now want a better relationship with God, Christ and themselves, and not as much with an organization or institution. So more programs, or a refocus on the programs, is NOT the answer.
Bored in Vernal:
It is important to note the Law of Consecration is a Celestial Law. It can only be practiced in its pure sense by Celestial Beings’; or, as in the
case of the City of Enoch by saints who were on the clear path to perfection.
The reality is there is too much pride in this world for it to be practiced in the pure sense. It is a worthy goal and one that we should be shooting for, but in order to get there we need to break down the barriers of pride, envy and mockery so eloquently preached by Alma in the 5th Chapter of Alma. The pride, envy and mockery practiced by the haves and the have-nots.
Ken, that kind of comment doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not sure that the story of the City of Enoch is literal. But even if it’s not, why would we be shown a pattern if we weren’t meant to follow it? Just because we all know we can never be perfect like the Savior, heck, we’ve ALREADY screwed that one up, no doubt about it, it doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to strive to become as he is. Maybe that’s what you’re saying. But I’m getting the sense that some of these comments are advocating that since fallen human beings can never perfectly live the Law of Consecration, we shouldn’t have to try.
Just pay your tithing, and you’re covered, right?
Sorry for the misread, FT.
Anyway “all things in common” can’t possibly be taken literally. At some point, even the most communitarian society recognizes property rights…if only at the point where someone actually swallows “his” bite of communal food.
I do miss the days of the welfare farms because I felt like I was actually doing something that would have a tangible effect in the welfare program and be able to help. Even after 50+ years I can remember working with my dad and others in the ward. Now if I can’t go put in a few hours at the DI, it’s just a matter of donating money. Doing the things we used to weren’t communitarian but certainly made more of a community. There has to be more to bind us together with the result that we’ll care for each other than a monthly social and efforts at home teaching.
24 — There is nothing to prevent you from living the Law of Consecration right now. Nothing at all. You can dedicate all of your time, talents and property to the building up of the Kingdom of God right now — in fact, you may have already done so. If you see and treat everything you have as belonging to God that you are currently the steward of, then that’s the Law of Consecration right there. Paying your tithing serves as a reminder of that fact, then.
Living in an United Order isn’t an option, and, as I suggested, I don’t see a reason to see that it will become one. Not one administered by a bishop, the way they were back in the day. But you can bring your surplus to your bishop, or you can keep it in reserve until you see a need for it that you can donate it for. And you can love your neighbor in word and deed without waiting to be commanded in all things. I can totally imagine a way to totally live the LoC to the degree that it can be lived without waiting for SLC to make it mandatory or easy for you through Church programs. Have you read OSCs essays about this in A Storyteller in Zion?
Bored in Vernal:
You missed by point.
The Law of Consecration is a Celestial Law and cannot be practiced by Terrestrial or Telestial beings as they are not capable of living this law. As mentioned, the City of Enoch (not a fictional place as you suggest) was able to live the Celestial Law, but remember this was a time when God the First visited Adam and Eve (frequently), Abel, Seth, Enoch and even Cain. It is suggested by some scholars the God the First baptized Adam.
This is why the Lord (Jesus Christ) had Joseph stop the practice in Nauvoo. The vast majority of the people on the earth are incapable of living a Celestial Law (See Matthew 7:14) — most of the beings that receive glory will either live the Terrestrial or Telestial law and will not abide the Law of Consecration in these states of glory. These are just the degrees of glory; there are many other kingdoms where the beings will not even be able to abide the Telestial Law (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:24).
As for you comment regarding Tithing you completely illustrate my point. The Law of Tithing is a Telestial Law and look how many people, including LDS people, cannot live this law. We have to live the lower law before we can be given the higher law.
I really admire the early Saints commitment to live the United Order, which Brigham Young called, “a stepping stone to what is called the Order of Enoch, but which is in reality the order of Heaven.” [See Brigham Young sermons , October 6, 1850, October 8, 1855]. For those who want to better understand the differences, see this post on the United Order vs Consececration.
I think it is important to remember that the reason why many of these United Orders failed was due to the US government. While trying to stamp out polygamy, the government also viewed these United Orders as anti-competitive, and wanted to open Utah to free-market economics. In order for these orders to work, the Mormons excluded dissidents and gentiles. In his book called Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard Arrington (former church historian), he makes the case that polygamy was the emotional issue of the late 1800’s, but many merchants used polygamy as a cover for their economic interests. Consecration is anti-free market and anti-competitive in order to be successful.
I found a humorous story about a pair of pants in Orderville, Utah. (See full details here.) A young man wanted a new set of pants, but the rules of Orderville said that all clothing must come from the same bolt of cloth. His pants had no holes, and his request for new pants was denied. So the young man saved some wool from the tails of sheep which was normally thrown away. He sold the wool in order to buy some pants. Quoting from the book,
I guess I’m a telestial being, because I don’t think I’d like to live in such an environment.
Ken, I think I’m still missing your point. Are you saying that since we’re not Celestial material, we shouldn’t even attempt to aspire to such a lofty goal? Or are you saying that the Lord has rescinded this law and you’re just trying to explain why this might be?
I’m also wondering where you’re coming from in some of your ideas. These are things I’ve not heard taught in mainstream LDS.
One more question, do YOU personally have a desire to live the Law of Consecration, and how do you feel that is to be done for someone who has covenanted to do so?
The key to communitarian living is to place the needs of the community above your own. I don’t know if that selflessness is what you’d call Celestial but without it an organized effort is not going to do well. I believe it’s a mistake to say we’re not capable of it since a number of religious communities over the years have been able to do it but only with strong leadership and structure. The Rule of St Benedict is instructive. For individuals I believe it’s possible to achieve that goal of selfless committment to the good of others but trying to get others to go along is another story.
One other thing, insistence on the City of Enoch being real and talk about what we’re not capable of can get in the way of what is real and what we can do. IMHO
Bored in Vernal:
I am saying we need to live the lesser law before we can implement the higher law. Of course we should try and live the Celestial Law, but we must first be able to abide the lesser laws.
The end result of this probationary state is the distribution of the souls of men to the many kingdoms God has prepared. Those who can live the Celestial Law will receive Celestial Glory; those who can live the Terrestrial Law will receive Terrestrial Glory; those who can live the Telestial Law will receive Telestial Glory; and, those who cannot live the Telestial Law are not intended for glory. Again, please read the Doctrine and Covenants 88: 22-37
God’s purpose is to bring about the Immortality and Eternal Life of Man; however, but his own admission – “straight is the way and narrow the gate that leads to life and few be there that find it”. The reality is the vast majority of the souls of God will not be able to live the Celestial Law. With the law of consecration being a Celestial Law, only a few will be able to live it.
As for your comment about this not being main stream, it is all in the Doctrine and Covenants. Please read the sections cited.
Bored in Vernal:
Sorry, to answer your last question. Yes, I desire Celestial Glory; however, still struggling with the lesser laws.
ken, are we to assume from you comments (since you didn’t directly answer BiV’s question) that you desire to live consecration? is desire the important point here? to borrow from another scripture, isn’t desire without works dead?
We are asked to live the law of consecration; those members who enter the temple convent to keep the law of consecration; the reason it is not as emphasised now is because of the whole “cold war” the fight against communism and by association socialism, and because Mormon culture is so influenced by America the law of consecration or the united order won’t be emphasized for a long time yet. A good yard stick is looking at how the American media is reacting to health care reform.
Those who want to live a higher law and give away their possessions can make checks payable to me at . . .
I have found, sometimes to my annoyance as something of a traditionalist within the CofChrist, that the early church did NOT hold to the same form in economic teachings, and continued to change things all along as new understanding of how attempts to live according to God’s will actually functioned. Your law of tithing was 10% of income, for example, while ours was 10% of increase (income less necessary living expenses — so the rich paid a higher effective rate than the poor, and those in poverty might owe no tithing).
Maybe the point of the scripture is not “all things in common” but “no poor among them”. In other words, the church is free to adapt means and forms to conditions, but the celestial law is about the intensity of commitment to the result of loving others as ourselves.
I taught a lesson the other day in Gospel Doctrine and the topic gravitated towards the Plan of Salvation. After the lesson was through, it dawned on me we have been fighting collectivism since the war in heaven; and, Lucifer was the collectivist.
Lucifer never had a plan; rather, he was the accuser, the opposition leader. He attracted recruits by selling the idea he could be the Savior and not one soul would be lost. It was the classic collectivist argument using class envy as a tool. It was in effect a universal eternal life plan. One that would save everyone and no one would need to be lost. A proposal that sounded good in theory, but one that could never function in reality.
Lucifer did not stop his fight in the pre-existence; rather, he has been pushing his collectivist agenda since the beginning of time. He has used various leaders to push this collectivist agenda – Karl Marx and Fredric Engel with the Communist Manifesto; Hitler with his National Socialist Party; and, various other communist leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, Zedong, Castro, Kim Jung Il, Chavez. All are, or were just evil. All destroyed their economies; all created a greater gap between classes; and, all destroyed the individual.
I see this Evil creeping into our society with Obama and see the same end result. I hope I am wrong.
#22, Mike S
“Contrast this with non-LDS Christian kids. They still have expected standards. But it’s not as crazy as what we expect of our youth. And I would argue that they are at least as good of witnesses of Christ as our youth. They wear bracelets proclaiming “WWJD”. They wear crosses and put fish on their cars. They care about others. But at the heart of everything is a love of Christ. No one really cares if they go to church every single week. No one cares what color shirt they wear or if they can check off a home teaching box each month. But they love Christ.”
I’m glad you have such a fondness for non-LDS Christian youth. Many do fine things. I would not be so critical of LDS youth or the Church in favor of any other group of youth. In spite of the issues that I bring up, our youth are generally more active than their Christian (so-called) counterpart. I believe there is real data to back that up.
“It is more important WHO you are rather than WHAT you do.”
If you are referring to LDS, I do not buy this. Remembering WHO you are means being mindful of WHAT you do, or don’t do.
Also, our youth know more about the gospel we teach and the behaviors the Church and the Savior expects from them in more depth than most non-LDS Christian youth.
#37: “Maybe the point of the scripture is not ‘all things in common’ but ‘no poor among them’.”
I like this.
“Doctrinal orthodoxy seems to have increased in importance relative to Mormon life. The advantage of this is that we probably get a greater proportion of on-fire-for-God true believers; the disadvantage is that we may have lost some of the youth who, though not inclined to fiery enthusiasm, may have been retainable by affection for the goodness of Church culture.”
Yes and no. Correlation and conformity may have been substituted for real spirit-driven conversion. It was those service activities that real brought that home for many.
I think that it is the individual saints, who have the responsibility. We have more freedom without communal living, and that means some people live opulently, while some suffer at least relative poverty.
About relative poverty: When your kid comes home from school and says he’s been beaten again mainly because he doesn’t have store-bought brand-name jeans, or the like, but home made stuff that actually looks better, but is different, your heart breaks a little, but then, we have to world-proof our kids, too. When you live among non-members, you have to be ready and willing to stand out.
What I mean by all this bloviation is that we must make the hard decisions. We accept the law of consecration — our highest goal outside our family is to build Zion by sharing the gospel and everything else we have. That’s building Zion. That requires lots and lots of patience and forgiveness. People will abuse your willingness to give. They’ll really exhaust you if you let them. You just have to have priorities and be gentle about saying, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that now.”
After 30 years of membership I must say like a Bishop of a ward I served in as a missionary: I stand all amazed at the lack of love among members. True, there are many who share, and really “give till it hurts”. There, I’m often standing all amazed at the love they show. We have the opposites here….
“it dawned on me we have been fighting collectivism since the war in heaven”
Is God against collectivism?, Is God a proponent of Individualism?
This is an interesting dichotomy, one that I suspect is more complex than what you have presented, IMO God would support the premiss that the group is greater than the individual, which is why he was willing to Sacrifice his Son. Other things that make me think that God would look to help the group over the individual would be Ward Tithing allocation, Correlation of History, and the Gospels.
Ken S – I thought you were about to add the correlation committee (collectivism of the mind), but then you zigged instead of zagging.
#38 – that is hilarious!!! ROTFL. Sounds like totalitarianism not collectivism.
careful there ken. with your definition of collectivism = evil, you may inadvertently add joseph smith and brigham young to your definition. they certainly believed in collectivism and I think would not approve of being compared to hitler. certainly they were compared to despots of their day by their critics.
No, God is not opposed to the Law of Consecration; but he is opposed to the counterfeit collectivist ideas have wreaked so much havoc on our society. They have been dreadful: with Stalin, Lenin and other communists millions were killed. Likewise, millions were killed under Hitler’s National Socialist Party. In the hands of Evil these ideas have destroyed the lives of millions. When in the hands of the righteous, these ideas can bless our lives. The perfect example is the City of Enoch. Through their righteous living they were able to live the Celestial Law and were carried away to Heaven. When given and received by the right spirit both will be uplifted and edified. At present, our society is not righteous enough to live these laws and trying to live them as a society with such unrighteousness would lead to our demise.
Under the plan of salvation the individual is elevated, not the group. If the group were the focus than we would have adopted Satan’s proposal and not one soul would be lost. The distribution of the souls of men must take place before the law of consecration can be practiced. Stated another way, after the wheat is separated from the tares, the law of consecration can be practiced.
#43 — On the other hand, you could argue that the symbolism of the Fall and the Atonement — both involving one single man, with implications for the entire universe — is deeply individualistic:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin….much more they which receive abundance of agrace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:12-17, condensed.)
I think part of the genius of Christianity is that salvation is, ultimately, an individual matter, between each individual soul and God. Each person, in a sense, has a moral significance equal to (or greater than!) the fate of entire societies, which after all will pass away. But a human soul will not — and if the theology of exaltation is to be believed, that soul will be sovereign over a universe in the same way God is sovereign over ours.
These concepts are incompatible with a doctrine that sees man as part of a mass, or as just one fraction of the sovereign General Will. (Allow me at this time to make my customary pbbbbbbbbbbb in the general direction of Rousseau’s blood-soaked tomb.)
Ken S: – Thomas – As I said earlier, it is more complicated than the politicised anti-communism sentiments. it is worth understanding the difference between individualism vs collectivism. Nephi said it, “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief”. (the sake of the group is greater than the individual) This is collectivism at it’s heart. Believe what you want to believe but 1Nephi 4:13 is a good reflection of the Church’s doctrinal position.
That is one of the biggest stretches for societal collectivism I have ever heard. The Lord, through is Prophet Nephi, was promoting His word, not collectivism. The people would perish because they don’t have the word of God. Period. Collectivism practiced by Telestial beings is Godless and is counterfeit to God’s plan.
Sorry, left out the next Paragraph:
D&C 101:77 -80
77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral aagency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
I’d like to suggest that we try to see community building and individualism as COMPLEMENTARY processes in building the Kingdom. This is what we observe in nature in the way God has built communities.
We see these complementary processes operating throughout the history of evolution, for example. Molecules come together in a series of cyclic reactions that sustain the existence of the molecules against thermodynamic disruption – a simplistic community. They separate and differentiate into individual types of cycles by substituting reactions and/or catalysts that increase their yield and/or sustainability. The most successful individuals become more complex over time, incorporating additional steps that gain a measure of influence over the surrounding environment. Eventually that controlled environment becomes a cell, with the capability to replicate and to mutate, so that the replicating core of the cell becomes a community of information-processing genes and regulatory chemicals. Other once-independent cellular communities (like the mitochondria) are incorporated to carry out specific functions that benefit the survival of each component community. The cells develop permanent linkage to other cells, forming multi-cellular communities. Eventually, the cells begin to differentiate from each other and adopt individual functions, and organisms form. The organisms reproduce, separate, and begin to develop their own individual natures. Eventually the separate types of organisms unite to form an ecosystem, a still more complex level of community. Ecosystems individualize, and so on, seemingly ad infinitum.
A balance between community building and community differentiation is central to driving this process forward, and selecting community building as more fundamental than community separation seems as arbitrary as saying that the chicken is more important than the egg.
#49 — Actually, the Book of Mormon’s fixation on society’s collective wickedness or righteousness is one of the things that I have the hardest time reconciling myself to. Book of Mormon society is constantly swerving en masse between wickedness and righteousness. My experience is that the real world just doesn’t operate that way. At any given time, society will consist of a mixture of good people and wicked; for that matter, individual people have some element of both. And sometimes, when society repents from one evil, it replaces it with another. In this society, we’ve largely repented of ignoring the “there is neither Jew nor Greek” part of the gospel, turning away from gross racism; on the other hand, we’ve gotten a bit lax with regard to sexuality. The Book of Mormon is more melodramatic: Society is either Wicked or Righteous; there’s little if any middle ground.
If we are concerned with collective righteousness — if we really do believe the Lord will loose the Lamanites on us, or earthquakes or the like, if we let society tip across the bright line from Righteous to Wicked — then there is a powerful incentive against freedom. We have incentives to punish religiously-defined sin by the force of law — and the Book of Mormon endorses this. (See Words of Mormon 1:16 — And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes…” This is the stuff of “Saint” Augustine and the deadly heresy of the total Christian society (“compel them to come in”), or of Islamic sharia law. I just can’t reconcile that with Scripture’s teaching that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
Now, don’t get me wrong — part of the life that individuals are called to, as part of their one-to-one relationship with Deity, includes loving our neighbor as ourselves. I just think we need to be very careful about letting our reverence for this duty elide over into consent to institutions which, in the name of improving perishable society’s collective lot, violate the inherent rights of the an immortal, categorical-imperative individual human soul.
Please pardon the appalling punctuation of the above. If there’s an edit function, somebody please for the love of all that’s good and true enlighten me.
Thomas, I think if you register on the sidebar and then log in before you make a comment, you will have the option to edit your comment. I THINK.
Firetag #52 that really is a beautiful explanation.
This is an issue that has so many permutations. I feel the crux of the matter is to have “no poor among us” and to make sure that everyone is working hard, sacrificing, and having their needs and at least some of their wants met, too. I don’t know that this is possible without a strong religious connection–an absolute conviction that it is what God wants you to do, and a strong religious authority to do enforcement.
There’s absolutely NO WAY that I am living up to the covenant I made in the Temple right now, though. And I’m sure it varies with the individual how they feel they can accomplish that vow, but I sure would love to have the opportunity to TRY a collectivist type of situation, and see if I could do it.
Apart from the “cosmological” of whether God knows the future, which I won’t address here, we have a Nephite culture that pictured natural laws as discrete acts of that God. Modern religious cultures might easily see acts of God AS natural laws — and there is a lot of evidence (see, for example, 20th Century Germany) that a few key events or people can wildly swing cultures from grpwth to disaster or back.
WE in the West are the cultural outlier that believes in steady growth and progress. Most Rome-wantabees do not last 1000 years.
Thomas and Bored in Vernal (BIV), you have posted great, though provoking comments. Keep in mind I am strongly behind the concept of becoming one – it was prayed for by our Savior. He identified himself as being one with his Father; and, prayed his Apostles would become one with him.
This is the theme of the Gospel Doctrine Lesson I will give this week which addresses the City of Enoch; and, contrasts the life of Cain versus Abel. There is so much is this lesson to learn and understand. As we learned from Cain, there are some people in society that have no desire to become one with God. As we understand with Cain and his wife, they loved Satan more than they loved God. God himself appeared to Cain and pleaded with him to make the right choice. BIV, God the First could not even “do the enforcement” with Cain as it would have violated his moral agency. BIV, I know you are not suggesting this, but Lucifer’s proposal was to create a collective and “do the enforcement”.
The best part of this story is the free agency God provides all of his children. As Cain learned, he was free to make the choice, but was not free of the consequences. He was banished in this life and in the next. Until then, he is still among us as a vagabond.
Ken, I read your #38 as well as #57 and I don’t see any scriptural or logical justification for the idea that it was Lucifer’s proposal to create a collective.
Do you believe that Brigham’s United Order communities were under the direction of God, or were they, too, “godless and counterfeit?”
And where do you get the term “God the First?” I’ve never heard anyone use that before.
Dear Bored in Vernal
There are others in the church who feel as you do. Here’s how I have come to reconcile it all so that my life makes sense: my first and only ultimate loyalty is to the Gosepl, as in the Gospel is TRUTH – nothing less, rather than to the church. The church is only “true” insofar as it conforms to true principles. It is not even eternal but a temporary structure to help us. All of us have seen decisions and doctrines come out from SL that were later rescinded or apologized for. Think Bruce R McConkie’s on blacks and the priesthood and the instruction that women could not be the final speaker in Sacrament meeting etc etc. So I go to church but I let the Gospel’s eternal principles primarily drive my life. I don’t wait for my priesthood quorum to assign me to help someone (although when they do I participate) but I find in everyday life more than enough opportunities to give service. I pray to Heavenly Father AND Heavenly Mother, his eternal companion. I study all inspired scriptures, not just those through Joseph Smith – yes, I know that raises other issues 🙂 – and so on. Hats off to the fellow in Utah who has organized planeloads of skilled volunteers to go to Haiti, to the three LDS guys who made their own way to Indonesia and stayed over a year helping victims of the 04 tsunami. And so many others. As gods in embryo we should be proactive, questioning and open, not white-shirted automatons.
Brigham Young: “There is too much of a sameness among this people. Away with stereotyped saints!” Give “Mormon culture” its due and all the support it deserves, but move beyond the comfort-zone of its materialism and the ease with which it lets us ease our conscience (“I’ve done my Home Teaching this month/a session/paid my tithe!”)
That’s what I think.
I feel the crux of the matter is to have “no poor among us” and to make sure that everyone is working hard, sacrificing, and having their needs and at least some of their wants met, too.
I think what I found so interesting about Leonard Arrington’s book discussing the United Order was that Brigham tried and mostly succeeded in making sure there were “no poor among us.” However, there were constant struggles to make sure “everyone is working hard.” Let’s face it, some people were lazy then and now, and some just don’t put the same amount of effort, yet were rewarded the same. If we work harder than another, it doesn’t seem fair to us either. Jesus’ parable of some laboring all day and some laboring for only 1 hour, yet all receiving the same wages struck the all-day laborers as unfair (and it would bother me too.)
Can anyone honestly say they wouldn’t be bothered that hard workers receive the same wages as lazy workers?
In Moses 4:1 Lucifer states: “I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor”. The key in this scripture is the collectivist phrase “not one soul shall be lost”. Clearly, this expresses discontent for the Father’s plan that would distribute his children into various kingdoms – some in Kingdoms of Glory and many in Kingdoms without Glory. Father’s plan was not to work together as a collective to save every one; it was to prove them herewith through the use of Agency. Two versus later in Moses 4:3 it states Lucifer ”sought to destroy the agency of man”. Agency is individualism.
Lucifer’s campaign is classic collectivism – every one is the same, there is no class distinction and everyone is equal. A universal eternal life plan, if you will, where everyone has coverage. The harsh reality is that everyone will not have eternal life – some will succeed, some will fail and most will fall somewhere in the middle. This is the very essence of the Saviors statement “Straight is the way and narrow the gate that leads to life and few be there that find it”. It is the distribution of the souls of MEN discussed in the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants; and, the distribution of the souls of GOD addressed in the 88th section (22-36).
As for the statement God the First, it was how Joseph Smith referred to our Heavenly Father. It is based on the concept of Eloheim, or the plurality of Gods. It is a way to distinguish the Father of our spirits from the other Gods – thus God the First.
Aren’t we all supposed to become One with Jesus, as he is One with the Father? Shouldn’t we collectively strive to be One? How is this not collectivism?
A very CofChrist viewpoint, except for Heavenly Mother, the Companion of Heavenly Father (we’d not assign gender to God in actuality, despite the common use of “Father”. 😀
More seriously, the taking of initiative outside of one’s structured calling — as the manifestation of one’s gifts and “full” calling — is something to be highly admired.
“Aren’t we all supposed to become One with Jesus, as he is One with the Father? Shouldn’t we collectively strive to be One? How is this not collectivism?”
Yes, we are all supposed to become One with Christ but we do it individually. I am responsible for working out my own salvation through Christ, not you, just as it’s your responsible to work out your own salvation through Christ and not mine. Yes, we are all commanded to lift one another’s burden, share the gospel with everyone, and do all we can to assist others with their temporal and spiritual needs but none of that can ever replace individual agency. Ultimately, I make my choices and you make your choices; we cannot make them for each other.
Successful United Order type communities and societies are based not on collectivism but on altruistic individualism. If these communities work, it is because every member of that community chooses to be completely altruistic and willing volunteers everything to the other members of the community. The City of Enoch was not a celestial city because Enoch established collectivistic rules that everyone had to follow. It was a celestial city because each and every citizen of that city individually chose to live like that. This type of society may be ideal but in my opinion is nearly impossible to achieve. I too would love to live in a society where the distribution of wealth is made equal based on the individual choices of every member of the society but never in a society where the distribution of wealth is made equal based established rules and oversight committees.
Outstanding DB, just Outstanding!
Yes, DB, (applause).
I really like the term altruistic individualism. To answer MH’s #60, I would, as most rational individuals be bothered by a situation where the lazy ones got just as much as the hard-workers. But I think in going into a United Order type of situation I would be aware that this was going to happen, and I would be OK with working harder and getting less than I deserve because of “altruistic individualism.” I think I would be OK with things not being as fair because I’m willing to take a little less so that the community would succeed. That’s why I think I would be a good candidate for a United Order. I don’t know, perhaps I would find after living it that I couldn’t do it. I just want to try.
The problem with Neo Dan’s comment #59 about being an agent unto yourself and living the Law without being commanded is that I wouldn’t feel the same about forming one of these communities myself (without authority?) or joining one that I didn’t feel was instituted on religious principles. So I guess I’m stuck with what we have in the Church right now.
I too like the term Altruistic as it is so common in the animal kingdom. In fact it is a biological term used to describe behavior to perpetuate the species. Examples include vampire bats that regularly regurgitate blood and donate it to other members of their group who have failed to feed that night, ensuring they do not starve. In most bird species, a breeding pair receives help in raising its young from other birds, who protect the nest from predators and help to feed the fledglings. Vervet monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked
#64 — huzzah.
#62 — “Aren’t we all supposed to become One with Jesus, as he is One with the Father? Shouldn’t we collectively strive to be One? How is this not collectivism?”
If I can borrow from that awful apostate Athanasian Creed — yes and no. We are to be One with Christ, as he is One with the Father. What is that nature of that oneness? “Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.” The first part is critical: The distinct, individual Personhood of Christ is not lost in unity with the Father, even though they are part of the same one God. (See D&C 20:28.)
Likewise, we do not lose our individuality in becoming unified with the Body of Christ, that is, the fellowship of the saints.
FireTag at 52 puts it well.
an area of land where the gulf of mexico is would be pretty freakin big…
This type of society may be ideal but in my opinion is nearly impossible to achieve. I too would love to live in a society where the distribution of wealth is made equal based on the individual choices of every member of the society but never in a society where the distribution of wealth is made equal based established rules and oversight committees.
Ahh, the devil is in the details.
DB I don’t think that Altruistic Individualism means what you think it means, whilst an altruistic society depends on the willingness of others to be selfless, to put others needs before there own. the whole definition of altruism is agency, otherwise it looses it’s meaning. (there will always be leadership involved in a altruistic society for it to function appropriately).
Altruistic Individualism was coined by Ghandi, In India the cast system was prevalent this is a negative effect of a communitarian, collective society (they subdivided those who don’t work as hard, who aren’t as smart, Prejudiced reins). Altruistic Individualism is when someone within an upper class group, stands out to say it is not fair how we are treating those below us, normally that individual is then ostracised. William Wilberforce would be one of the greatest examples of this type of Altruistic Individualism.
A good example of a collectivist mentality working is Japan, virtually zero poverty(although it’s rising at the minuet), there GDP per capita is the highest in the world.
Equality – I think before we get caught up I work harder than he does, lets just make sure that simple needs are met, access to fresh water, universal medical care, freedom of speech, shelter etc.
IMO we cannot be advocate the current method of implementing the constitution as being God given, whilst we have people suffering because they can’t afford life saving drugs, or operations.
I’m not bothered about the United Order or the law of consecration, (Altruistic Individualism) I can’t be happy existing in one altruistic group whilst people in a less fortunate group are suffering with something I take for granted, last year I went to the Hospital three times because of sports related injuries, and twice because of strange stomach pains, I went to the doctors once because I thought I might need a operation on my throat, and my wife and I underwent expensive IVF treatment, perhaps I waisted the Doctors time on many occasions, but that is why it is something I take for granted, Imagine what it will be like when I have Children, I’ll be rushing them down all the time, again something I’ll have the access to. Maybe everyone should not be as crazy as I am but they should not be worrying at home about finances because of a physical illness. That is something the state should get involved in.
From my studies, I have concluded that the key to the establishment of Zion is the individual preparation. If Zion is made up of the ‘pure in heart,’ how does one come to have a heart that is pure? I would suggest that the purity described here is the same as sanctification – being purifed by the blood of Christ.
This is accomplished through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as described in 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 12. This baptism purges our heart of all dross. It was not until after the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost that the saints at the time of Christ were found to be living with all things in common. The same is true after the visit of Christ to the Nephites. As described in 4 Nephi, they were able to hold this together for three generations.
I believe strongly that the individual must experience this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, which results in ‘no disposition to do evil but to do good continually,’ before he/she can live in a fashion that demands purity of heart. See Mosiah 5.
I see nothing in the church today that teaches the members of true character of this extraordinary ordinance nor to I see the ability to live as such with this world controlled by Mammon. I believe both have to change before Zion will be found among us.
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The sure way for our health care to go to hell is to have the goverment take over.
-73. I think your certainty discredits you a bit. As with No.38 you make a claim that I don’t see how you can justify. Your view that it will go to hell seems to be a refute to the end of MrQandA’s post. What is your reasoning?
Since no answer has been given, I’ll posit one:
The Constitution, which I believe is divinely inspired, has a 10th amendment. Being the 10th of these, it is also a right, as in the Bill of Rights.
We the People have a right to a small and efficient federal government which will provide the necessities of defense and international relations while at the same time preserving the conditions necessary for individual liberty. Anything the federal government takes upon itself beyond those powers specified in the Constitution will lead to corruption.
If you desire the feds to have more power than this, the only authorized means is to amend the Constitution to ensure that your social program accurately reflects the will of the People. Otherwise, such powers and programs are left, rightly so, to the discretion of the individual States.
The truth on the kibbutz:
From the comments: “A typical American family is the essence of socialist theory.”
Thanks, ‘Bored in Vernal’, for linking to my article. Your own thoughts are interesting. I think perhaps though– you didn’t read it or understand the basic concept– I’ve wished several times over for the time to re-write it to create more clarity and better support my ideas.
It would be quite pompous of me believe I could address everything that everyone has said here.
But I’ll try anyway. In answer to your last question, I’ll say yes! However– let us take note of the differences between the Law of Consecration, an overarching principle, and the ‘United Order’– a term which has applied to such a variety of practices and ideas that it’s meaning is likely not to be found in a single description.
What we refer to now as the ‘United Order’ most commonly, was a directive from the First Presidency at the time (the 1870s) in response to a complete and utter recognizable property laws– especially in regards to private land. It furthermore was a directive to be self-sufficient, and take care of the poor, as well as increase employment.
The ‘same’ ‘United Order’ was a concept used by Joseph Smith in ways more akin to our modern day ‘Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’. It was the legal entity of the Church. When Brigham Young ruled Utah, fairly autocratically– the Saints were essentially ‘squatting’ until land laws were finalized in the late 1870s.
The Law of Consecration is principle behind any seemingly communitarian, collectivist, or group-oriented programs. It does not prescribe a particular and specific economic practice.
My potent example of this is the different practices of Brigham City and Orderville. Orderville was as close to a communist paradise (according to Marx’s definition) as anything really has come. It wasn’t quite what Marx envisioned for various reasons, including, but not limited to: It was not worldwide, it was theocratic in nature, and it was almost militaristic with respect to organizational structure and ‘chain-of-command’.
Brigham City was similarly authoritarian, but perhaps the other direction– it was at least slightly ‘fascist’ in nature. It was a corporate structure that was driven by a necessity of self-reliance. It was a monopoly on all businesses in the area– at least toward the end. It also paid people not in cash primarily, but in goods and services. However– it was unable to compete with goods delivered from the east coast once the railroad was completed. Those in the community were not under the same strict authoritarian command that existed in Orderville.
In BOTH of these situations, the participation was voluntary: you had to apply to join the Orderville population, and many were declined. In Brigham City, the population’s participation was encouraged and expected, but not required, although eventually economic forces prevailed in consolidating almost the entirety of productive means in one.
Notice, Orderville the arguably more socialist of the two finally failed– due to no obvious external forces or reasons. It’s failure was internal. (I refer to Marx’s definition of socialism)
However, Brigham City was extremely successful– for THIRTY YEARS after the dissolution of the Co-op, there were NO unemployed or impoverished people in Brigham City. If that’s not economic success, I don’t know what is.
So, YES, I would love to hand over all my stuff to the Bishop (at least on some days), but the Lord’s plan requires that this be a choice– I must retain my Agency. Until we have enough people in the world to create this necessary body of united and choosing believers, I think that we will make do with what we’ve got. I can’t stress this point enough– Agency is the key.
#77, I have to comment. Yes, Agency, as you put it, have to be in place. However, if we live a basically selfish life and gather stuff for ourselves and “stay our hand” from helping our brothers & sisters who need us — even if we feel they’re “undeserving” (that word creeps me out!) — as Benjamin says, we are nowhere near living the consecration.
We should be building Zion right where we are. So we are few. We can do something. I know people around me, who have put effort into keeping young men and women of the branch occupied; young men & women have been hired to do various things that perhaps were not so needful or could have been self-provided, but were bought as a service from them as a way of helping them out so they’d not fall on rocky bottom. I really respect that; my sons have also benefited by this, and I am very grateful for that. That I think is building Zion.
Now, I am not judging the people who live in opulent mansions and gripe about the less-than-minimum wage they pay their illegal gardeners and nannies (mommy can’t be bothered by real housework, she needs to cultivate herself with good company); I’m jus saying that perhaps there might be a better way.
I just wanted to speak in and let you know that you are possibly one of the best writers ever on this subject. Everyone else is very hard to understand as I am not exactly A original English speaker, but I am trying. So I appreciate you dumbing it down for me.
The Lord is the source of such divine discontent. We both can and should do a great deal more to keep God’s commandments. Though the people in short creek may have gone astray the Lord will always make a way for us to do what he has commanded us (1 Nephi 3:7). If you are willing to live the united order there are a few saints who are attempting to organize just such a community. you can call me at (520) 203-2328 and I’ll be happy to share more with you. Even if those around us may say that “It is unnecessary” I believe that we should be happy to obey all of God’s commandments, and that we will be blessed for it. We do not need to wait for President Monson to command us to begin; the person who must be commanded in all things is a “Slothful and not a wise servant.”
When President Kimbal received the revelation that it was time for blacks to receive the priesthood he was asked by numerous members of the church about it. He also prayed many times if it was time. He received a positive answer because the Lord could see that we were ready to receive the answer.
The same will happen with the United Order We, as members of the church need to make it known to President Monson our desire to live the Law to its fullest until he feels compelled to go before the Lord and ask.The United Order will only prosper if it is done under the direction of the priesthood and president Monson is the only one that has all of the keys of the priesthood.
There will be no United Order. Unless God reveals the Prophet and Leader of the Church. I think personally that the United Order will not exist until Jesus Christ comes. I believe that Jesus will not come yet. So, we do not know the day of Jesus, neither the hour nor the expectation of his coming. I believe that no one is ready for the United Order, neither I am ready also, nor any of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. I think that the United Order will be rearranged when Jesus Christ, comes. The President cannot establish the United Order without Jesus Christ consent. I think I am doing fine with these beliefs. I do not believe in the United Order anymore. I am glad that God has forgiven my sins. Because Jesus is good and confessed to Him by the Father. Thanks for everything. I do not support the United Order anymore. I believe that the United Order must not and it is not necessary. We got to move and go ahead and God will provide a escape for all of us without using the United Order. I hope it has been helpful for all of you. Ciao.
The United Order is not anti-free market. This is a misconception and the very reason the Saints could not live it for long, because they tried to live it like it was Socialism. It is NOT. Private ownership or private stewardship is the backbone and reality of the United Order. Each man decides what his family needs and how much of what he has is surplus that he gives all of back to the Order after tithing.
There is a people who have lived the United Order very well for many generations. They are called the Hutterites. And this is how it works. When they begin or when the community is forced to leave an area, they sell everything and live as one family until they are able to settle again. Then, when they arrive at a piece of land, they buy it as a community. Then the work begins. Every family is set up in business. The entire community helps until the have all the needed facilities, building homes and places of business. When they have their home and business, it is theirs, under their total private stewardship, just like a calling. The funds that they are able to raise with the business are tithed to God and then go to support the family. The family then decides if they have more than they need. They decide what their needs are and how to meet them. And all that they have which they do not need to fill their families needs and/or wants for recreation, schooling, etc. is given back to the community for the poor or to help set up another young man’s business, etc. They also give of their time and efforts in support of one another. But there is no force or demand that every young man get the same number of pairs of jeans or any other form of everyone having exactly the same. It is NOT socialism.
Now if a problem arises, if some are getting wealthy while others are suffering, then it is handled the way it is supposed to be according to scripture. Anyone offended goes to the offender and talks to him, explaining that he has been hurt. If that does not work, then he takes a witness and goes again. If that does not work, then they go to the bishop and He goes and talks to the man who is seen as being a with-holder. The Bishop prays with the individual or family until they come to agreement as to what should be done. But in any case, private stewardship is how things are done in the United Order, not by Socialism.
KK here in Michigan. I liked your example of the Hutterite culture. I think that a combination of Hutterite and Amish cultures, under Standard Works (as well as priesthood) direction would go a long way. Those ingredients plus a little 50s & 60s music and permission to dance might be ideal.
I have the impression that you are deathly afraid of socialism, even the use of the term for descriptive purposes, as we discuss social models. I’ve noticed that many LDS have an aversion (ingrained by their upbringing, I suppose) to progressive lexica of all kinds: words like progressive itself, liberal or liberalism, democrat, socialist, communist, left or left wing, intellectual. If one picks up an unabridged dictionary and examines the origin and full meaning of these words, he or she will see that there is breadth of meaning in each of them.
For example, take the word socialist. All “socialists” — those who advocate greater government intervention, supervision, or regulation in civil and commercial sectors of society — do so to different degrees. Any engineering of society, in political, governmental, economical, or productive/consumptive terms, is in some degree social systemization or socialism on some scale. A simple dictionary definition would define the term “socialism” thus: a social system in which the producers possess both political power and the means of producing and distributing goods. I don’t find that frightening.
Another example to consider is the term “liberal”: having political views or policies that favor civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of governmental power to promote social progress and permit individual choice. Again, not frightening.
Consider the use of the term in James 1:1-5, a scripture passage pivotal to Joseph Smith’s decision to go to the Sacred Grove and plead for inspiration.
As you can see, these are NOT (matching your emphasis) evil concepts. Nor does their adoption demand extremism. Using language accurately in discussions such as our topic today is vital to real and fair communication. Distorting, confining, or eliminating the use of language in communication is a dangerous precedent, is it not?
I consider, therefore, any planned and regulated society with its innate economic dynamics to be a socialistic undertaking, whether its doctrinal underpinnings be secular, religious, or a combination of the two. Also, regulated societies such as the United Order have collectivistic as well as individualistic objectives…neither one is innately evil, in fact they make a nice (and necessary) complementary design.
Thanks again for your detailed description of Hutterite wisdom. Have a good day, Sue.
To bored in Vernal. Please excuse my paleontalogic writing I’m new at this stuff but I agree with your belief in the UO. I have fervently for more than forty years. As a teenager living in a jewish neiborhood in Baltimore I partisipated in a stake play ” The Order is Love”. After having success in one years production we did it again the next year. That play was very simple but yet extremely profound( plain and precious). The teachings of B of M are also very clear 1Nephi 13:37 ,3Nephi16:10 3Nephi 26:19-20.It is good to hear someone agree.
The United Order is nothing like collectivism as it is attempted today. It is based upon individual stewardship instead of ownership and operates on the free market. It is based upon individual responsibility to God for one’s actions, not the force of collectivist government to require people to give up their earnings for the good of the group. It is free will offering of those who have chosen to give their hearts and lives to Christ and the establishment of His kingdom on Earth. There aren’t too many laws for the society, but there are Commandments of God and though more than 10, “Though shalt not steal.” is very much enforced and no,portion or while of the group takes a man’s wages from him for the good of someone else. More a can’t labor is never taken from him, or stolen.
Thanks for priming the pump with a provocative topic. I see, however, that we are a verbose bunch.
The gospel of Jesus Christ, applied in the ways that Jesus demonstrated and instituted in His early church, was designed to make mortals compassionate, concerned neighbors willing to assist brothers and sisters in need. Is not our 21st century church a global institution welcoming all kinds of people (with their differing cultural and social perspectives) to accomplish the same mission? Our current church leaders are trying to expand our vision as North American Mormons, most being of white ancestry, beyond a narrow nineteenth or twentieth century viewpoint.
I think that this understanding is a good backdrop to this week’s topic. I like your aspiration, if you will, of experiencing greater community. I sense your frustration, and share it, as we must live in a contemporary American culture skewed toward excessive materialism, wasteful consumption, dependency on the grid, and polluted by combative party politics. Our society is neither a happy nor peaceful one. Just look at the faces of our citizens wherever you go.
Modern American life has become quite empty of vitality, beauty, and spirituality as our consumer culture within the competitive economy runs its exhausting course. The neighborhoods of urbanized America have become islands of materialism occupied by people who look worn out.
As a Southern Michigander my wife and I admire the Amish model: intergenerational farms built around expanded, interconnected houses accommodating those generations of progeny. They share farming equipment and manufacturing facilities. Amish have their feet on the ground, know how to grow, raise, and fix things. They rear their families to pray and work and play…in that order. Good people, not perfect. For example, they have a culture deficient in music. But, they know a bean from a byte…and have a common Sabbath Day of solid extended family relations, all standing on terra firma.
Bored in Vernal (how sad), I believe that when the Savior returns He will institute something for us like the Amish have been practicing. Our historic LDS social orders somewhat reflect this model of rural-based communal life…revolving around scriptural doctrine. Amish would make great Latter-day Saints, but average LDS would have to move in their direction in many ways before they could walk into our typical ward community replete with contemporary American values. It’s hard to imagine.
Anyway, we can learn some things from the rural, self-reliant, industrious, inventive, religious, nonviolent, friendly, modest, and stable Amish. Wow, what an adjectival lot. Our coming Zion Society, centered at Adam Ondi Ahman and the New Jerusalem, will likely model an ancient priesthood-directed civic tradition that is collectively beneficial while fostering healthy individual agency. Also, the Lord’s Order will certainly promote the performing of temple service and all family responsibilities.
In the meantime, may we each serve one another and our neighbors within our respective communities regardless of their socio-economic composition.
I sure wish we all would get over these Utopian schemes. It does not matter if these schemes are religious or political. They always fail. Sometimes badly.
We are fallen creatures that live in a fallen world. Eventually despite the best of intentions, power corrupts.
Bored in Vernal, not sure if you still frequent this site, but just wanted to let you know, you’re not alone.
I have been fascinated with the idea of living in a Zion society ever since reading “Added Upon”, an LDS novel written by Nephi Anderson at the end of the 19th century. Reading about life in the New Jerusalem, and then seeing how we Americans were throwing away our precious freedoms, made me yearn for the day when the Savior would reign.
During the decades since, I’ve been gathering Zion-like patterns of social organization, and, I’ve been waiting for my fellow Saints to catch the vision of Zion–very, very few have.
Then, I got tired of waiting. I started gathering all the statements by modern apostles and prophets concerning the building/establishing of Zion. Found over 500 of them. Fascinating to learn what their perspective of Zion and economics was back in the Utah Territorial years. Very different from ours today.
In January 2010, I launched my blog BuildingZion.org. In 2012, I started writing a newspaper column called, “Thoughts on Zion”. Now we have a small group of people interested in launching an online version of Lorenzo Snow’s Brigham City model. Maybe you’d like to join us. Our hope is to have the same success he did in setting people up in cooperatives, and, in slipping through economic downturns with finesse.
Since “Practice makes perfect”, it makes sense that we Saints ought to be practicing living Celestial economic principles, if we hope to be welcomed into the New Jerusalem.
We have been taught correct principles, now let’s govern ourselves.