Alan Waterman of “Pure Mormonism” blog recently posted his thoughts on “How Corporatism Has Undermined and Subverted The Church of Jesus Christ“. Many Latter-day Saints might disagree with his conclusions, but the issues he brings up are interesting ones, and are worth us studying and coming to our own conclusions about.
In this first part he looks at Daymon Smith’s “The Book of Mammon”, written by an LDS Church member about the differences between the culture of the Church’s business organization and the how members expect it to be:
When I was released from my mission in Independence, Missouri, my family was on hand to pick me up in their new RV. After tooling around the country for a bit, we stayed a few weeks in Salt Lake City before returning home to Anaheim.
Wandering alone one day around Temple Square, I found myself no longer sure what I wanted to do for a living. I had always planned to go back to work at Disneyland, but already I was missing the structured life of a missionary, where every day had purpose because it was spent in meaningful religious service.
I soon found myself looking up at the imposing Church Office Building. How would it be, I wondered, to work in there, in close proximity to the most spiritual men on the earth? Perhaps I could get a good job in the city, workin’ for the Lord every night and day.
“Quickest way to lose your testimony.”
Those were the words of the wife of a friend of mine some years later. She had spent a good part of her life as some sort of an assistant to some other assistant to some General Authority, and boy, was she was jaded. She assured me that life in the COB -that’s short for Church Office Building- was like that old line about watching sausage being made. You really don’t want to see it.
I’ve since heard similar tales of warning from others who have gotten too close to the Morg [Mormon Church]. Former employees of the Church can sure be a cynical bunch.
And now comes Daymon Smith with a newly published memoir of his experiences as an employee at the COB. But Smith’s account is more than mere memoir; though a bit scatter-shot in execution, I’d rank it among the top Ten essential histories of the modern LDS Church. What Smith uncovered in his research is that the corporation at the top of what we think of as the LDS church actually spends an inordinate amount of its time serving not God, but Mammon. And too often that Mammon-serving is wrapped up and presented as Godly service when sometimes it is anything but.
Don’t Hire A Digger If You Don’t Want Nothin’ Dug
For some reason Church headquarters decided they needed an anthropologist in the building, so they hired Daymon Smith, a latter-day Saint with a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He had written a 500 page dissertation on some under-discussed facets of Mormon history that nobody at the COB seems to have bothered to read. Maybe they should have, because they would have learned that Smith was an extremely curious and thorough researcher with a knack for uncovering hidden goings-on that most of us in the church had no inkling of.
Smith’s new book is titled The Book of Mammon: A Book About A Book About The Corporation That Owns The Mormons. If you had no idea before now that the Church was actually owned by a corporation, read on. It gets worse.
Another excerpt from this entry will be posted tomorrow.