My wife and I were sitting in a Gospel Doctrine class of a former ward. They were good people in that ward, I had grown up knowing them. They were also a rather well to do ward, a majority of the members– certainly not all of them, but the majority of them– in some form of economic prosperity. As far as I’m aware, the Bishop’s storehouse certainly wasn’t being strained from that quarter. The lesson was on the law of consecration– so, as is almost always the case when such lessons come up, the focus of the conversation is really about money.
The teacher was really skilled and was handling the topic sensitively. Of course I had to spoil the good mood by paraphrasing this oft-used Brigham Young quote:
“The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this
country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth” (Quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley in his address, “These Noble Pioneers.” See also Salt Lake City, George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1900; New York: AMS Press, 1971, pp. 11923, cited by Preston Nibley in Brigham Young: The Man and His Work, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1936, pp. 12628).
I was very much caught off guard by how vehement the reactions became at that point– and some of the comments that came from the discussion I thought were completely bizarre, two of which still enflame my mind (I paraphrase a bit, according to the limits of my memory):
“Tithing is the higher law. We’ll never go back to the law of consecration.”
“We are the greatest generation the Church has ever seen– we are the most righteous. We have been blessed with riches because of that.”
My wife and I had been praying and fasting whether to move to a student married ward– we felt that we had received our answer. The next week went to the student ward in our area.
But that experience still haunts me to a good degree. Although my family grew up pretty well to do, my father emphasized that money, in the end, was a trivial thing. “Money is not what makes us happy,” was a mantra I remember him repeating to us. Continue reading “All Is Well In Zion: Three Mormon Writers On Social and Corporate Darwinism, Part One”