Brother Card, wonderful and timely as usual! This will sound
self-centered, but I do believe you wrote this specifically for me. Thank you for writing what most of us hope/fear!
"His prophets warn us, for instance, that affluence is usually no friend of
spirituality, and, oh, how we hope that teaching is not true--and, oh, how our
teeth chatter when the chills of experience tell us it is true!"
Neal Maxwell "A Time to Choose" page 33.
"This attitude is often expressed in a "doctrine" that is utterly
false and yet extremely widespread in the church: that if you are righteous, you
will make money."This is so true. And for many, if they don't
have real wealth, they will use credit cards and other forms of credit to
establish a showing of wealth. In particular the young adults are doing this --
they seem to think that they need to have a showing of wealth at a young age.
Many of them are in quite a bit of trouble in today's economy. Divorces are
resulting from the consequences of this behavior. Children's lives are being
ripped apart as their parents begin residing in two different households. Its
terrible to watch this.
Since I live in the middle of "the more righteous you are the more you're
blessed with" - Amen. When I get discouraged about the
"blessings" I'm not getting, I start counting the blessing I do have
and try to remember that sometimes a "bad" thing that happens is
really a good thing. Like the time our car broke down in Reno on vacation. The
blessing was that there was a shop that could fix it that day. The hotel we were
at had a room for us and if our car had broken down in our destination it would
have been much harder and taken longer to get things dealt with. At the time it
didn't seem good, but looking back I can see it now.
It seems the people who are preaching the virtues of poverty and the evils of
wealth are themselves free from concerns over money - for instance, Brother Card
has no problems with money; the Church leaders are not poverty stricken and
never will be. They do not have the same concers as do those of us who have lost
our jobs and could lose our jobs again any day.I have lived in many
Wards/Stakes in many different parts of the country, and I have NEVER seen a
Stake President who was not relatively RICH. Never. In over 30 years.When the Church calls only the wealthy to positions of leadership, and
continues to allow the false rhetoric that callings correspond to superior
righteousness, too, then it is hard to argue what Brother Card is trying to
argue. The truth is, in the Church, the operations of the Church itself
reinforces the idea that righteousness, wealth, and position all go hand in
@I M LDS 2 - there is a lot of truth to what you say. It is difficult hearing a
pretty wealthy general authority telling us how spiritually dangerous it can be
to be wealthy. But I'd like to give another perspective about callings
corresponding to superior righteousness. I once had a Stake leader who truly
believed that most calling within the stake and ward levels were given by the
Lord because the person receiving the calling had something to learn. Sometimes
I repeat that story when I see people puffing up about the callings they have.
Ask them what they think they needed to learn when they received their calling
-- sometimes you will see a pretty shocked look on the face of the one you are
I once asked someone why only the comfortably off (wealthy) are called to the
higher positions such as bishop, stake president, mission president, etc. He
denied that this was happening in the church. I have also been told that
in order for these people to fulfill these callings, they need a certain amount
of wealth in order to devote so much time to their callings. I find this a poor
excuse. Poor people and those who fall in the middle of the 'wealth curve' can
serve and be great bishops etc. without being wealth if it is true that these
callings are based on spiritual promptings.
Neither poverty or wealth is a virtue,but there will always be poor among us
until the majority of us all lead virtuos lives and act on virtuous principles.
A message that we need to hear--wealthy or poor. I've always believed that the
reason the Book of Mormon so often reiterates the "pride cycle" is
because we absolutely have need of that message over and over again. I've spent
my life on the "less affluent" end of things, and have myself, from
time to time, mistakenly questioned why we weren't more prosperous like our
neighbors. I've witnessed my mother having to deal with evening "walking
groups" of more affluent members of our ward gossiping amongst
themselves--not realizing their voices were carrying through our open
windows--saying things like "If it weren't for these two homes here
[referring to our home by our family name and our neighbor's home], we'd have a
perfect neighborhood." Our home and yard were always kept neat and clean;
it was just smaller than other homes on the block. I also heard a
high-councilman speaking about how his attention to the commandments made it
possible for him to afford his Dodge Ram, while old school friends "drove
the same clunkers they had in high-school". He missed a key principle that,
unfortunately, made the rest of his talk irrelevant.
My current Stake President is a High School teacher. One before that was a
farmer. A past Bishop was a plumber. My current Bishop owns a motorcycle
dealership. All incredibly spiritual men whom I have learned so much from. Sometimes the "wealth" comes from a lifetime of wise choices,
sacrifice, unselfishness, and living by the advice of the Church (avoid debt,
pay tithing, etc.). I believe it is this obedience that leads to those members
being called to higher Church office - not their material wealth.Remember, the City of Enoch was translated because they obeyed God and
"there were no poor among them". Those who have been given much are
expected to use it to bless others, and will be accountable for their
Yep, Money Doesn't Matter at All!!! But I'm going to just hold on to mine.Sorry, Can't help you.Until that changes we are heading down
the wrong path.
I have heard so often in testimony meeting in my ward (especially from one
member)how grateful he is for his boat, or how blessed they are to be able to
travel to Europe, etc.and then expounding on the virtues of having nice things
(that many of us will never be able to afford). Not only is he (and the others)
missing the point, I find it astoundingly insensitive to the have-nots.
I have a question, and maybe some of you can answer it. We have a decent income
(around 100K), but we always have lived below our means. We have a food storage
and just recently paid off our house. Our vacations are a camping trip in the
mountains nearby. We have no boat, camper or cabin in the mountains but we have
two cars, both 12 years old. I have 5K in the bank. I also have a daughter,
who has had 2 kidney transplants. I've had cancer, and because of us living
below our means, we had the money to cover our bills. I would like to build up
my savings more so that we can be prepared for other emergencies. I tutor
students for free, I help at the cannery and I donate a reasonable fast
offering. But this article makes me feel so guilty, because it tells me that I
should be doing more. When do I do enough?
"Sometimes the "wealth" comes from a lifetime of wise choices,
sacrifice, unselfishness, and living by the advice of the Church (avoid debt,
pay tithing, etc.). I believe it is this obedience that leads to those members
being called to higher Church office - not their material wealth."For many, it isn't that easy. Even with extensive medical bills that have
plagued us our entire married life, we pay tithing, try to make wise choices,
don't live beyond our means and give all we can give to help others out. I try
to be righteous, but I am judged by others because medical-induced bankruptcy
changed our lives forever. We are not aspiring to be called to higher positions,
but I know that despite doing all that Red Wings said these people do to make
them more righteous than the rest of us, I will never be 'good enough' for many
I was converted though the kind missionary actions of a wonderful LDS family -
led by a humble, faithful father, the stake clerk. (Yes, his employer had more
money and was the stake president - but neither was he the most wealthy in the
stake.)I was not converted by the worldly success of that man or his
family. But my interest was indeed captured by their obedience, sacrifice and
faithful service.It was not the size of their home that impressed me, but
the size of their hearts.Many years later, my wife and I were privileged
to join the this entire large family and their spouses at a restaurant dinner as
part of the celebration of the father and mother's golden wedding
anniversary.We were all well enough off to pay for that dinner, but no one
at the table could be termed wealthy. The father tearfully told his children he
was sorry he had not accumulated more (worldly) wealth to someday leave to them.
The shock and disagreement around the table was swift and sure. His
children rose up to call themselves, their parents and all of us, blessed beyond
measure.They were his great wealth and accomplishment.
@ipr, I'm not sure we can really ever do enough. But if you have an honest
heartfelt feeling that you are doing what you should, then just keep on that
road. Don't feel guilty unless you have a personal reason to feel guilty.
Don't measure yourself against anyone else. Do not buy into the mormon culture
that oftentimes accompanies our faith. Whether you are doing enough is between
you and the Lord. That's about the only answer I can give.
To all concerned:My current Stake President is not wealthy, neither
is my current Bishop or any of my past Bishops in the last 20 years. I live in
the heart of the Salt Lake Valley. I don't know of any of the Bishops in my
stake currently that someone would consider to be wealthy. All have regular
jobs or are self-employed and all are in my estimate quite spiritual. My Stake
covers an area of both poor people and many with very nice homes. The Lord is
calling those who will serve him well.
Excellent message! And many good points made in the comments.The
Gospel is what Brother Card explained - The Atonement and love and service.
Period. EVERYTHING else is just window dressing. Too many of us focus out time,
efforts and energy on the window dressing.
well spoken.And my Stake President doesn't seem particularly
wealthy--perhaps you should move to my stake?
Everybody on here is absolutely right (blind men and the elephant effect?).An additional perspective - wealth is relative. We lived in a stake of
millionaires -- some of them had more money than sense. But by and large they
were generous to a fault (helping families pay off homes, pay for college
tuition... and those were just the things I knew about). We were the poorest of
the poor in that stake (we were the subject of service projects several times -
which were great blessings in times of need).We moved west a few
miles, and with some savings bought a couple acres of pasture, goats, chickens
and ducks. And a dog. My salary has not changed. And we are considered
exceedingly wealthy (when I was Bishop I even had someone tell me I didn't know
what it meant to be poor - chuckle). Compared to the vast population of the
earth, my land, full refrigerator, warm clothing and non-leaking roof make me
one of the wealthiest men on the planet.Perspective is a blessing as
Mr Card,While your point is largely correct, and I won't quibble
with some minor issues that detract from the value of your piece, I must object
to a key element which makes the piece preachy, arrogant and detracts from your
key point. You make broad, sweeping generalizations about "attitudes
expressed as doctrines" that are "extremely widespread" in the
church. I take significant exception to the arrogance embedded in these
statements - arrogance that is exhibited by making such statements based on
nothing more than your perception and opinion.If you have data to
support such a spurious and emotional claim, please share it. I have been in
many wards, from wealthy to humble, and I have NEVER seen nor even heard this
"doctrine". In humility, I will not claim that this attitude is not
held by pockets of folks in the LDS church. But please spare your readers the
fallacy of hasty generalization, devoid of empirical evidence, to try and make
your point. Your accusatory tone coupled with such generalizations is beneath
the standards that any journalist or opinion writer should embrace.
To counter my claim that "I have NEVER seen a Stake President who was not
relatively RICH. Never. In over 30 years," some members assert THEIR bishop
or SP is not ("particularly") rich.Well, individual
observations will never convince anyone either way.But I do know
that a couple of doctrinal and leadership teachings that strike me as
problematic.First is the blatant association between
"prosperity" and righteousness repeated in the Book of Mormon:1 Nephi 2:20"And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments,
ye shall prosper..."(2 Nephi 1:20; 2 Nephi 4:4; Alma 36:1; Alma
48:15; Mosiah 2:22; etc.)The intuitive corollary is that if you are
NOT "prospering", you must be transgressing or sinning.Second, as a young Bishop, I attended a leadership training by a Regional
Representative who instructed us that when we are considering people for
callings, look at the Tithing receipts: those who pay the most tithing are the
"most faithful". This teaching always bothered me. But it is also the
case that only people who pay tithing (and the more the better) are considered
for callings of any significance.
Elder Clayton of the Seventy spoke to my singles ward Monday night. Prosperous
Attorney in Southern CA. Gave it all up when called to be a General Authority.
I work for UTA. Know of two bus operators that have served as Bishops. Just
some thoughts I wanted to share on the subject. Not everyone holding a high
calling is wealthy.
To IMLDS2:You obviously have an ax to grind. Prosperity is not
necessarily wealth. Before the early 1900's, it generally meant you had four
walls, a change of clothes and something to eat each day. But I digress.As for your comment about "those who pay the most tithing are the
most faithful", I am inclined to believe you misinterpreted what you
thought you heard. You seem to have an agenda, and this so-called General
Authority you quote (no name or date) likely said something more along the lines
of those who pay a "full tithe", consistently are "most
faithful". The actual $$ amount does not matter. I have been in the
church for many decades, and been to many leadership meetings, with many general
authorities, and what you are saying is contrary to EVERYTHING I have heard. I
have known MANY Bishops and Stake Presidents who were not wealthy, including
many in my own family, who were not "rich".The fact that
some are wealthy is irrelevant. Your generalizations are off-base and reveal
more about you than about the church's position on these issues.
carman,Nice judgment, there. Because I quote scriptures and General
Authorities (it was Hartman Rector, Jr.) you say I have an ax to grind?I call 'em as I sees 'em. If that offends you, you will have to deal with
Two things:First, we believe that our leaders are called of God. Article
of Faith 5. Does this mean every calling made is of God? No. But the callings of
the stake presidents, as I understand it, are made by God through a member of
the twelve. Does that mean God certifies every aspect of their life? No. But it
does mean the Lord has called that man to be the leader of that specific stake,
for that specific time. Perhaps all parties involved could learn why the Lord
chose that man to that calling, instead of condemning them for their material
wealth. Pride works both ways as we learned from a man who was a prophet of God
when he said it, Ezra Taft Benson. I'm not saying the rich are justified, just
that God is the judge, and has chosen his leader. Second, 1 Nephi
2:20: "And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall
prosper..." This is quoting the Lord himself. Is it possibly misread to
mean that you shall prosper financially? Perhaps. But the perception of the
reader is the problem, not the scripture itself.
I have known many stake presidents and bishops and have known few who are
wealthy. One of our bishops was out of work at the time. Our stake president has
a regular job like everyone else. It depends a lot on where you live. Where I
live few of us would be considered wealthy by any standard. In fact, our area is
considered to be very low class by those who are wealthy.And, by the
way, I read an article (I believe it was in Dialogue magazine) about Ezra Taft
Benson when he was asked to be the Secretary of Agriculture. At the time he was
an apostle, and his stipend was barely enough to support his family. He was glad
to have a better job from the government. Where do you get the idea
that general authorities are rich? The Church doesn't pay great amounts partly
because we are a church with no paid clergy. Please read another
article in the same section about the atheist Hitchens and what he has said
about these men and the rebuttal of the author of the article.
I find the article nearly right on.Seven years ago I decided to come
back to the church after two years of innactivity. The ramifications of this
choice were divorce. Single dad at age 33 with no family even remotely close to
me geographically. Child Support, Day Care, Court Costs, Day Care, etc. Lets put
it this way, I barely had enough to cover living at an extreme low level. I
would pay tithing when I actually could. Some years the amount was so little
that to many it would appear embarassing. However I did what I could. I also
decided to clean the church every Saturday morning so that I could feel like I
was contributing. I was there vacumming every saturday with my three year old
checking the trashes, and my one year old on my back in a back pack. I always
did my home teaching. I always did my callings.
I volunteered when volunteers were needed. It became very clear to me when we
got a new bishop and he called me into his office on a January Sunday and let me
know I was robbing the lord. He let me know if I wanted to be like the rest of
them, that I needed to pay my tithing. I tried letting him know about my
financial circumstance, I was cut off with I dont care about your financial
situation. I am still very active, and I still do all thats asked of
me, including cleaning the church every saturday. My kids although older now
still come every Saturday to help me clean, and their appreciation for the
Although now I have paid my tithing for years. I dont want to be like the rest
of them, because I know the lord knows my heart. I have seen how the view of
wealth and pride has crept into the church (I live in a very afluent ward), I
just make sure that my family understands whats really important.
To IMLDS2:Just realize you are calling it as you see it, not
necessarily as it is. And when you see something that is way out in left field
that probably isn't there, check your glasses...
To simplecomment71:I think your heart is in the right place, but you
may have misunderstood the counsel from your Bishop. I have seen people with
NOTHING pay their tithing. That is where fast offerings can come back and make
up the gap created, and perhaps more. The faith required to pay when you don't
have anything is literally the widow's meal or mite, and I strongly believe that
it comes back to them many fold. I do sympathize with your situation, and maybe
your Bishop was wrong. But I think the Lord finds ways to bless those who show
extreme faith. Those blessings are not necessarily material as the author
highlighted in this article, but they are real nonetheless.
To Carman:Thanks. But please dont try and minimize. I have noticed
multiple threads where you have minimized other comments. My experiences are
mine and not yours to minimize. The same bishop a year later after he actually
took the time to get to know me and understand my situation, apologized. Bishops
can and do make mistakes. I firmly believe that tithing isnt your pass to heaven
like a movie ticket. I do have a strong testimony of the blessings of tithing.
However I have a testimony of all of the commandments. Im not focusing on the
big T like I hear so much about. God knows everything, and he'll work it out.
carman,And your patronizing opinion is not "as it is"
either.Check your glasses. There is nothing "in left
field" about what I wrote.
I've sit in many Priesthood Leadership meetings, taught by President Monson,
President Packer, Elder Oaks and Elder Nelson. They have all taught that paying
a full tithe doesn't make a person RICH. It does however, allow them to prosper
but not as much temporally as spiritually. I also have heard where a General
Authority made a comment to check the tithing and those that are full tithe
payers are worthly of a calling, where as those who are not may not be.
However, on at least one occasion I did hear one say the higher the tithing the
better. I questioned this as did others and he back tracked realizing it was a
person opinion not the Lord's guidance. Bishop's hold the power of discernment
and are capable of making right and wrong decisions based on whether they listen
to the spirit or speak their personal opinion.I have only met in all
my life in the Church only one Stake President who was weathly and one Bishop.
The rest have been very middle class and struggling to make ends meet. I have
had Bishops that have been very fugal and thus able to assist where needed.
We all have our own experiences with this issue, and our experiences are likely
to be different. Orson Scott Card's experiences led him to his conclusions,
just as each of ours' led to our conclusions.What matters most is
what people do, not what they have. I'm a stake financial auditor. As part of
that, I review tithing slips and bishop storehouse order forms. I have seen
people who regularly receive assistance pay a regular tithe. I have seen folks
I know are wealthy paying almost nothing, and others paying huge sums in
addition to regular tithing.I've watched people who have very little
give everything they could, probably more than they should have, to others.
I've also seen people who have more than they need hoard what they have and
claim they just don't have any to spare.Yes, that sounds judgmental,
I'm sorry. I also realize that I only see part of the story, and I may have the
wrong impression of some of these folks. I try to treat everyone the same, as a
brother or sister, regardless what they have/give/whatever. The only one we
have a right to judge is ourselves.