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Author Topic: Card on Capitalism and Mormons
Verloren
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I recently came across an interview of Mr. Card from Salon.com: My favorite author, my worst interview.

I searched, and could not find it as being discussed in this forum. The part I found extremely interesting was Mr. Card's thoughts about mormons having too much love of money.

(Please, let's keep it to this topic of capitalism rather than the Card's views on homosexuality that are expressed in this interview - there are several other posts in this forum that already discuss this topic as well as mormons and homosexuality in general.)

Here's the quotes from Salon.com:
quote:
"One of the deep problems in Mormon society is that really for the last 75 years Mormons have embraced capitalism to a shocking degree."

And later:

quote:
"There are Mormons who think I'm the devil because they're unable to tell the difference between Mormon doctrine and right-wing conservative views. And I find it extremely discomfiting that, really to a shocking degree, love of money has pervaded Mormon society. It's something that as a people we have great cause to repent of. I think it will lead to our condemnation in the eyes of God. When I talk that way, there are some people who are extremely troubled because they think I'm saying that they're wicked. And they're correct -- I am."
I wonder if this accurately portrays Mr. Card's feelings. Also, has he given other interviews or written essays about this?

I'm interested in why he says that Mormons have a love of money. I certainly see it around me, among Mormons and non-Mormons. But I haven't thought of it as pervasive. In fact, my rather limited experience has been that the other mormons (yes, I am mormon) in my area are actually more content in getting blessings "later".

Thanks,

Garrett

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mr_porteiro_head
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This is an article that OSC wrote on the topic.

I think he wrote it while he was still living in Utah (in the ward where I live right now).

[ October 24, 2006, 02:45 AM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Orson Scott Card
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That essay still says what I mean.

The Mormon Church is not more wicked than the rest of America or the world at large. But we're supposed to be better. We're supposed to have a higher standard, and live by a better law.

Our love of money corrupts us in another, less direct way, too. Because we give far too much honor to people who make a lot of money, many Mormons grow up thinking they have to learn the rules of the game that provides that money. they become true believers in capitalism and the laws of the business world. They treat their employees exploitatively, to maximize profits. They sell productive companies to people who gut them and misuse them, because they think "cashing out" instead of continuing to build and sustain productive companies is a noble action.

So we lose not only our commitment to consecration rather than capitalism - we also lose track of the fact that the principles of leadership and stewardship outlined in Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants also describe how to run a productive, creative company, or a productive, creative school system, or a productive, creative theatrical company or movie set, or a productive, creative government agency.

If the gospel doesn't work in the real world, it doesn't work at all; but it does work.

and if we don't believe in the gospel enough to use its laws and principles in our real lives, in the real world, then we don't believe in it at all. there is no gospel at church if there isn't one at home and at work and in the marketplace.

You ask a sermon question, you get a sermon answer.

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Verloren
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Thanks for the link mph [Smile]

And thanks for the clarification too Mr. Card.

Now that I've had a bit more time to think about it (and it's not 11 pm), I have heard that Utah is the state with the distinction of having the most MLM (multi-level marketing) startups. Of course, part of that may be because the father and/or mother may want to spend more time at home with the family, which I see as a good thing. But the focus always seems to be on how much money there is to make and what you can do with all the money for yourself and family.

I liked the "parable" essay because it opened my eyes to some things (namely, still coveting somethign that is donated, or expecting it to be used a certain way). I have a couple wealthy friends, and I wonder what they would do if the prophet came out and said that the law of consecration was reinstated (of course, I realize part of that has already been reinstated to a degree - we've not been asked to move back to Missouri yet). I just worry for them since they are my friends (I hope that they are open to it - and they have been quite generous with me on occasion). However, obviously, it is more important for me to make sure I'm comfortable with, and living, a life of generosity and humility than to worry about other people's salvation.


So now I wonder: I've been "indoctrinated" over the past few years into the old "money isn't bad, it's the love of money" and "you deserve all the wealth you can get, so long as you receive it in gratitude and share with others". Are these valuable perspectives to take, or am I so twisted around that I'm blind to what these are really saying.

Anyway, I found the whole capitalism and mormons idea interesting, particularly in view of the Book of Mormon and the blessed/proud/humbled cycle the Nephites kept goign through. I always used to think, "Man, they keep doing this, can't they see what it is doing to them and their society?" And I never really applied it to see if the same thing was happening around me.

Thanks!

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mr_porteiro_head
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Utah also has very high levels of consumer debt and bankrupcy.
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pwiscombe
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It also has the highest level of charitable donations as a percentage of income.

Granted, a lot of that is in Tithing to churches, but it still shows a willingness to give, even when it is difficult to do so.

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striplingrz
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I'll add this ... perhaps not entirely on point... BUT... Utah Mormons are typically quite different from non-Utah Mormons.

Now to clarify why I bring it up: I do agree with OSC's premise, and his comments above are spot on. But as this discussion grows I didn't want us all painted with the same cloth.. so to speak. ;-)

And yes, OSC now lives in NC, not Utah. But he is still what we (I ?) would consider a Utah Mormon.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
But he is still what we (I ?) would consider a Utah Mormon.
OSC left Utah because he didn't want to raise his children in Utah. That alone makes him not a Utah Mormon.
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striplingrz
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:-)
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Scott R
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quote:
But he is still what we (I ?) would consider a Utah Mormon.
Why? To the contrary I don't find him annoying at all.

[Smile]

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Occasional
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quote:
They treat their employees exploitatively, to maximize profits. They sell productive companies to people who gut them and misuse them, because they think "cashing out" instead of continuing to build and sustain productive companies is a noble action.
I would like some information showing this is the case. From everything I have read, at least high profile Mormon business people do the exact opposite. They do it enough that it is considered a very strange thing in the business world. Now, assuming that it is actually a 9 to 2 ratio, at least the ethics are there.

quote:
So we lose not only our commitment to consecration rather than capitalism
Well, that is what happens when you become a conquered people in a Capitalist society. If the Mormons were to be left alone I believe they would become a Consecrated people again. The problem is that economics are tied to government, and U.S. government is tied to Democracy. That means freedom of economics (Capitalism) is the way to survive. I suppose Mormons could create a compound (and some off-shoots have tried) where such a closed economic system could be revived.

quote:
If the gospel doesn't work in the real world, it doesn't work at all; but it does work.
The Gospel is more than bread and water. I am not saying (Utah?) Mormons are perfect. They are from from it. But, I think you are barking up the wrong tree with what is wrong. Pornography, broken families, large numbers of less-active, not getting married in Temples or going on missions. You might want to see if those things are tied to money, but I think they are tied to other things that are not intimately tied to economics. As for me, the "marketplace" is the least of my concerns.
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pooka
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Debt was mentioned with immorality and Pornography in President Monson's April address. You know, the Makafeke talk. Prior to that, President Hinckley mentioned it for several years in a row, including a pointed mention of "get rich" schemes around 2003. My husband and I have had a lot of challenges in this area.

I don't like to get into the Utah/non-Utah thing, since divisions among the people were the beginning of pride. Pride can be looking up and sideways as well as down. Fixing your eyes anywhere but single to the glory of God is going to result in pride, iniquity, and eventually unhappiness.
quote:
In fact, my rather limited experience has been that the other mormons (yes, I am mormon) in my area are actually more content in getting blessings "later".
Being good for the sake of blessings is still carnally minded, even if the anticipated mansion is in heaven.
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Occasional
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Pooka, I think the "content" is a different word than "anxious" or "anticipate," although I can't speak for Verloren's intent.

quote:
My husband and I have had a lot of challenges in this area.
What kind of challenges are you talking about? Don't need specifics or life stories, just examples or definitions of difficulties. My experience has been (perhaps it is where I am from) that Mormons are less worried about get rich quick and more about survival.

Sadly, I admit the "World's" definition of survival is what the Jones have. However, the more honestly properous members are very generous - unless you believe generosity should extend to giving everything you have. I guess part of it is that I think OCS's rant against Mormon consumerism sounds more political than religous. Both can be related, but I don't believe that is the case with this one.

[ October 25, 2006, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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Scott R
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quote:
If the Mormons were to be left alone I believe they would become a Consecrated people again.
This is more of a condemnation than an excuse. I don't know if you realize that, Occasional. You're saying, basically, that Mo's can't hack it in the Real World; we can't stand the pressure of our beliefs mixed with reality.

Baloney, says I. Nor is it okay to go along with the way the world does things just because it's easier-- we have a higher example. City on a hill, etc.

quote:
That means freedom of economics (Capitalism) is the way to survive. I suppose Mormons could create a compound (and some off-shoots have tried) where such a closed economic system could be revived.
"I find your lack of faith...disturbing."

It's our own unworthiness that keeps us from prospering within the laws of consecration; it's our own greed that condemns us now. I remember listening to Cleon Skousen crow about the benefits of capitalism, and deride communism; I remember thinking that, whatever else the man believed, he was completely wrong about the moral rightness of capitalism.

When we, as a people, follow so stringently the demands of money, we lose the Lord's approbation. How many times does the Nephite nation have to die to get this through to us? Whether or not we're successful in society does not matter-- what matters is informed, loving obedience to the laws of our Heavenly Father, no matter the consequences, no matter if there's a blessing in store or not.

I don't think we're following what our Heavenly Father wants. I think, as a people, we are entirely too much in love with our own money-making, and that when our conscience burns us, we do just what you did: we try to justify our sins by the sins of society.

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Occasional
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Well, Scott, have you been living the Concecrated life? Has anyone you know? If we were to live that kind of life now, what do you think it would be like?

I think it would utlimately end up with Mormons as slaves. Not to religion, but to the government that we currently live in controlling the economy. We would put nothing in and therefore have nothing. I suppose we could try Communism as a country, but that hasn't proven very good for society and freedom.

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Scott R
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quote:
I think it would utlimately end up with Mormons as slaves. Not to religion, but to the government that we currently live in controlling the economy. We would put nothing in and therefore have nothing.
That's the kicker, isn't it? Do we have the faith to abide by the hard financial laws given us by God through King Benjamin and Joseph Smith?

Again: what happens after the law is followed is of secondary importance to actually following the law.

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Zalmoxis
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I'm more worried about the consumerism than the capitalism.

But, of course, that all gets rather tricky. In my experience we tend to deplore the excesses of those wealthier than us, but think that we're being rather restrained in our own lives.

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Zalmoxis, I actually agree with that and make some implications toward that concern. I am much less worried about our feelings toward money than I am our feelings toward things.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I got the impression that OSC thinks that devotion to capitolism has caused us, as a culture, to fall more into the trap of consumerism/materialism.
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Scott R
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:shrug:

It's like asking which is more worrisome: worship of Molech, or worship of Asherah?

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JLM
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What we learn from the BoM is that righteousness can lead to prosperity, but the reverse is not necessarily true. We are taught afterall to first seek the kingdom of heaven and then seek after riches. We are also taught to seek after things virtuous, lovely and of good report.

I think the greatest error that members make with regards to this is to equate the appearance of prosperity with righteousness. A typical thought process could be "Bro so-and-so had a spacious home, well groomed children and a boat. He must be well blessed for his righteousness."

This thinking is unfortunatly reinforced by the fact that many prominant church leaders (both the GA's as well as local leaders) are well off. And this does make sense, because many of the skills that would make one an effective leader in the chuch can also be applied in the world.

However, from my own experience, the church leaders I have most respected, while they may have been rich, did not "act rich". For example, I had one bishop as a youth who raised 8 children while working two jobs, school teacher and grocery bagger. His home was simple, adequatly sized for his family, had a warm spririt, and was completely paid for. By the time he retired (which was in his 50's) he and his wife had saved up enough money to serve multiple missions for the church. His net worth is still probably well over a million dollars, but he has chosen to use his money to serve his family and to serve the Lord.

So I disagree with OSC that the accumulation of money is a bad thing, but rather that the accumulation of money with the intent of "living rich" is a sin. This is what Mormon was referring to as the sin of "costly apparel".

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
So I disagree with OSC that the accumulation of money is a bad thing
I don't think he said that. He said that the love of money is bad.
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pooka
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quote:
first seek the kingdom of heaven and then seek after riches.
I don't think this is a good paraphrase. I'll look it up.

Jacob Chapter 2:
quote:
13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.
14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.
15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!
16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!
17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

By challenges I mean we've been in a number of multi-level programs over the years, though I'm no longer comfortable with them, and we're in debt, with an illusion of middle class life. Why do you ask?

[ October 25, 2006, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: pooka ]

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Just wanted to understand where you were coming from. I have never been involved with, never had any inclination to join, any multi-level program. I guess I never grew up in a family that believed in "get rich quick" and never had much money. In fact, I never knew very many people who had much money. At the least, no one who had things they couldn't afford.
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Oobie Binoobie
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quote:
Originally posted by Verloren:
Thanks for the link mph [Smile]

I have a couple wealthy friends, and I wonder what they would do if the prophet came out and said that the law of consecration was reinstated (of course, I realize part of that has already been reinstated to a degree - we've not been asked to move back to Missouri yet).

Well that's just the thing. If you make a study of the D&C, you may come to the conclusion, like I did, that the law of consecration has never been rescinded, and in fact is still in force on all the people in the Church who have received Temple rites and ordinances. If you have, then you know exactly what I mean, but if you haven't, it's safe to say that while there, every Mormon who goes is put under a covenant to obey it.

The shape of it these days is for the Church to ask in general for a tithe, time for one or more callings, and for a high level of generosity in giving fast offerings. If the leadership ever asked for more, they would not have to state that the law of consecration was reinstated.

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mr_porteiro_head
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The Law of Concecration hasn't been rescinded, but the United Order has been, which is possibly what Verloren was referring to.
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Verloren
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I was thinking more about the United Order. Thanks for helping me clarify.
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pooka
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quote:
In fact, I never knew very many people who had much money. At the least, no one who had things they couldn't afford.
So you don't know anyone with a second mortgage or student loans or a bank loan on a car? That would be extraordinary. I do know of such folks, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I was not raised in a get quick rich home, though my parents split up due in part to one of them being "careful with money."
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Avatar300
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Taking out a student loan is a "get rich quick" scheme?
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Occasional
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Well, I probably knew them. I just didn't know of them. As for loans, I don't count that as the same level as we have been talking about. I also don't count those who suddenly find themselves in that situation. What I am talking about is the idea of owning things beyond their means as a whim.
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pooka
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Well, that's probably why we have challenges, because I hear different things from my husband when the brethren talk about managing finances wisely.
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Orson Scott Card
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A dozen or so posts ago, someone issued the challenge: Does anybody live the consecrated life?

Since writing the original article, I have been contacted by quite a few people who are, indeed, living the consecrated life. BUT you don't hear about them because most of them follow another scripture as well: They don't do it to be seen of men, so nobody knows they're living that way.

Thus the nice middle class family in an ordinary ward MIGHT actually be making far more money than anybody thinks - but they give it away as fast as they get it, often by turning it over to the bishop or giving it in places where need has been pointed out to them. But few, if any, really know what it is they do.

The consecrated life will usually be almost indistinguishable from a life of modest means. Only those who do good works "to be seen of men" are going to be obvious - and I'm just as happy that THOSE are relatively rare in the Church.

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Orson Scott Card
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By the way, the "consecrated life" is not just about money. I know many people who really do have modest means - but they do the same thing by giving their time and service. You only have to drop a hint that something is needed, and suddenly there they are - often the whole family - and they work till the job is done and then you never hear another words about it from them. They don't tell anyone they did the job - they just do it.

Often nobody even knows they did it. They become like the elves who helped the shoemaker.

Consecrated elves ... now there's a concept. I'm sure there's a fantasy novel in there somewhere.

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At least a short humorous story.
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Kwea
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Could you explain the concept of a "consecrated life"? I think I got it from the context, but I want to make sure. [Smile]
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Kwea, a consecrated life is one where you give your time, talents, money, and basically yourself to the good of humanity in service to God. One could think of it as becoming a monk or nun without living outside the community or not getting married.

Edit: The purpose is to build the Kingdom of God and create a Zion society.

[ November 03, 2006, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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It is living in a way that shows that you really do believe that all you have isn't really yours but is Gods, but that you have a stewardship to take it all and use it as He would have you do.
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