Friday, October 7, 2016

Another “interesting” exchange on social media

Since I've been so bad about posting ANYTHING lately, I'm trying to rectify that.  
So here it is: another “interesting” exchange on a social media platform.
Again, I'm posting this to 1) preserve it; and 2) see if anyone that might read this blog has any further comment.
To be fair to all, I've included the entire thread, and only changed the names to protect the innocent. ;)

(Inspired by John Dehlin) I post the following: 

Any of my LDS friends wanna explain this?

First response is from a woman who joined the church™ just before my ward was split (actually "re-alligned" since the new boundaries didn't result in any actual new units, just the "re-naming" of the existing ones) about 2 1/2 years ago.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Do you have friends in that investment group?

I'm Dence: The investment group is not owned by some Mormons, it's a subsidiary company of the church. It's presumably funded by tithing. (of course if they'd actually disclose and have a vote on where tithing is spent like D&C 104:71 requires) we wouldn't have to presume.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: Yeah, I would have to presume that your presumption is off-base. The church has been involved in commercial investments and businesses since the time they entered the Salt Lake Valley, with no established commercial businesses to support the Saints who relocated there. Their earliest commercial ventures were for communications (newspaper) banking, and commercial real estate. Now, if you want to trace the use of tithes all the way back to 1847 when they first started their commercial ventures, then you might have a case. But the church since has used the profits of their tax-paying commercial ventures to invest and purchase other commercial ventures. That is my understanding how purchases such as this one you question is financed, not through the tithes and offerings of the membership.

I'm Dence: Wow KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP, that's a pretty white washed view of history. 
BTW why would you think my presumption is off base?
The only funds the church has come from what folks donate. (And this, 'we invested it for x years and then separated the interest" doesn't magically change that)
Also, you apparently don't know that the church isn't even the same entity today that it was in 1847.
Further, up until I believe 1958 they actually disclosed expenditures in general conference (Rather than read a statement that they substantially comply with basic accounting procedures in receiving donations) the d&c is petty clear on how no expenditures are to be made without the common consent of the members. So where's the revelation changing that actual revelation?
Finally, my point is that there are many charitable ways to spend, and rarely is investing one of them. How do you justify a church buying something like this (unless they plan to let the poor of Texas live there free) when they could build a hospital, or an orphanage, or dozens of other things?

MY OLD BABYSITTER WHO NOW LIVES IN TEXAS: Well, maybe the RUMORS of a BYU Texas are coming true! hahaha

I'm Dence: Hadn't heard that rumor.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Meh, drop in the bucket compared to City Creek.

I'm Dence: Or Florida, or Hawaii...
(still doesn't make it right)

MISSION FLAT MATE: It is strange I have to admit.....every Sunday, we need more money for the missionaries, more money for this, more money for that. Ok, sell one of these multi billion dollar properties and'll have money.

I'm Dence: Aww come on. Its all just about an opportunity for you to sacrifice. Its for your own good. lol

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Every Sunday you get requests for money?

MISSION FLAT MATE: For various causes in the church, yes.

MISSION FLAT MATE: I never understood why every year the church asks the members to pay more in fast offerings, no matter how much you paid in 2015, pay more in 2016, etc.

If you carried out this policy every year for say 30 years, eventually 100% of your income would be going to the church, then you'd be on welfare.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: I'm sorry. I almost never hear it in our building. Might be something to point out to trusted leaders. I could see how that would keep the hackles up.

MISSION FLAT MATE: We have much bigger problems up here. Like a non stop flow of looney tunes that bear their "testimony" each month. We achieved a first in the church last month, a complete nut job who was a minister in a DIFFERENT church also went to the front to bear her testimony. Thereby assuring the loons of complete victory that Sunday.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Uhhh. Got like minded members to take over next Sunday?!???

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD: Very sorry about that. Being kinda"new" I've only had my one ward and I've been told it's a good one.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Well in that case, take my advice......never move.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  I'd also say to ignore the increased fast offering request. Our Bishop looks at it, notes it's generous and thanks us. I would say it's an area or regionl problem possibility.i don't think that coming from Salt Lake.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Yes, but if you only pay the same amount you are not exercising more faith sister _. Surely you want more blessings don't you Sister _, don't you want more blessings?

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  Wow! I'd laugh but it's so sad. Maybe I'm a smart mouth because I haven't been through it. I'd just say I'll pick up extra someplace else.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  Well tithing is tithing. If it's an issue, then the Holy Ghost can help answer how far to take concerns. FB or friends are a fine resource after that first step is taken. Doubts need to be addressed correctly or they can be taken the wrong direction.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Where there's smoke, there's fire sister _.

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  So I should not follow the LAW of tithing because of an internet post? I think your response is a little generic for the situation. It leaves nothing to work with in a true conversation.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  Point is, people need to take a closer look, that's all. You reach a point where the LDS church may not be doing anything much different than what the televangelists are doing with the money they take in. Many members are critical of how these guys spend their money, not a "real" church they say, exists only to take in money they say. Well when the LDS church is spending billions on property, then we have to wonder what the difference is?

NEW CONVERT IN MY PRE-SPLIT WARD:  Ok thanks for spelling it out for me. I will do as I questioned above and take it from that point. I won't stop for others sins. Got enough of my own to work out already. Any reasonable research is welcome.

I’m Dence: sister _ I don't think anyone said not to pay tithing. 
I'd just like some accountability for those who spend those funds, as does the Lord. 
Unfortunately we don't currently have that so at least bringing attention to THAT fact is just a small something I think I can do. I don't expect most will even bother to look at it, let alone think about it. But I believe it becometh everyone who has been warned to warn their neighbor.

GIRL FROM HS PLAY: I don't have any answers that you are looking for and was not even going to touch this post but I see personally so many places where the Church uses the money it takes in to help others with so many things....

MISSION FLAT MATE:  I guess I'll never see how building a 1.5B shopping mall is in support of the three fold mission of the church?

I’m Dence: So PLAY GIRL, if they can do so much with >2% of what's available, just think of what they could do with the other 98%+

MISSION FLAT MATE:  I still like the casino idea I’m Dence, it could even be Mormon themed. The waitresses can wear long prairie dresses and bonnets. Gays, blacks and democrats will be banned of course.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: So, profits from the Church's existing commercial enterprises and investments are in actuality donations???? Fail to see how that makes sense, unless, once again, you're going to track all the way back to money's used more than a century and a half ago when the church first established their commercial ventures. I guess I should have gone with my first inclination, which was to suggest using you use your time, intelligence and other resources to find answers for yourself, especially if you've already decided internally that something nefarious is going on. Would probably be a wiser course of action than trying to bait people into a debate and declaring their views naive.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP So my suggestion, if you truly want answers and not just an opportunity to bait others into some debate, is submit a copy of your most recent tithing settlement in which you have declared yourself a full tithe payer to Salt Lake and request an accounting of how and where the church tithing money is being spent. I would think you would be justified in such a request, right?

I’m Dence: I find this comment to be condescending, and shameful. How very Christian of you.

MISSION FLAT MATE: How did the ancient church ever get along without massive business investments? We are told the church is a modern day restoration of the ancient church. Heck, how did the church survive in the 20th century prior to massive business investments?

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP Correct me if I'm wrong, but the premise for this particular thread is the presumed misuse of tithing funds to purchase an apartment development in Texas.

I’m Dence: No, the premise for this post was: would you as a believing member care to explain this? [this being that Property Reserve Inc., a church™ owned subsidiary investment company had bought a newly built 386 unit apartment complex in Texas with a tax assessor’s value (usually a fraction of true market value) of $45 million.]

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE:  The church has an investment arm that does not utilize tithing funds. Gordon Hinckley made that pretty clear in a talk he gave around the City Creek project as that was a concern of many members. The Church actually has its hands into alot of different projects that folks arent aware of that dont involve tithing funds. The Church has quite a bit of money outside of tithing funds and is constantly looking at investment opportunities.

I’m Dence: The 2 questions I have is: 1) where does the church get funds that are NOT donations (and NOT interest on donated funds)?; and 2) regardless of where the funds originate, how is "investing" an appropriate activity for a church (especially a church which won't disclose its assets in the US, but is estimated to spend >2% on charitable endeavors)? 
See, The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21)

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE:  Maybe its going to be another MTC or a spa and retreat for doubting members......LOL

MISSION FLAT MATE: I agree 100% with I’m Dence why is a church involved with "investment opportunities?"

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP Have we not been taught by history and investment performances that diversification is a safer way to utilize one's assets? Also, just as you use scripture and parable, Im sure others can be applied to the question as well. Running faster than one has strength, Pharoah's dream, et al, that would teach us that individuals AND organizations should be cautious and wary against over extending. 
So, I’m Dence, let's just get it out there. What would you have the church do? Abandon all commercial ventures in the which they provide employment for hundreds, perhaps thousands of people and retract into activities strictly of a spiritual nature? You seem concerned at the % of what the church spends for humanitarian assistance at this time. Is it not possible that there are darker and more desparate times around the corner where millions more will be grateful the church didnt expend their resources too soon? I dont know the answers to these questions, Im just speaking in hypotheticals.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  "Abandon all commercial ventures...."

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: We're of different opinions, then.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  And that's totally fine.

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE:  Whats wrong with a religious organization using investment vehicles at their disposal to increase their resources to in turn do more good throughout the world? Parable of the talents? Having said that i like the BYU- Texas theory but have a couple of other thoughts - preparing for entrance into the Big 12 conference or i still like the sanctuary idea where general authorities can relax and recharge; or maybe low income housing to assist with the community?

MISSION FLAT MATE: "maybe low income housing to assist with the community?"

Ok that almost made me burst out laughing! The day a republican church goes along with that idea, hell really will have frozen over.

CHEERLEADER FROM HS: Well said HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE. Why would' the church increase it's assets to in turn do good? I don't really see the problem here? The church is on hand for humanitarian care all over the world regardless of the religion of those in need.

MISSION FLAT MATE: The church is not going to get into the low income housing business in the USA CHEARLEADER, period end of story.

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE: Homeless shelter?

DIFFERENT KID FROM HS: That's great. :D :D

ANOTHER HS GUY: I'm grateful the Church gives my Company lots of Business.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Because that's why the church was set give companies lot's of "business."

ANOTHER HS GUY: Thanks for the clarification. Since I never asked but now I know.

ATTORNEY WHO JUST MOVED OUT OF MY WARD: (1) One of the finance professors I assisted was on the church investment committee. In discussing their investments then it seemed clear they were investing donations. I thought it made a lot of sense since the church had needs for funds in varying amounts at various times. So it only seemed like prudent asset/cash management to invest funds until they're needed. (2) I also worked for a $9b land trust. They invested their earnings from income producing assets, like apartments, shopping centers, hotels, industrial and commercial parks and auto malls to pay for education. That way, even if they didn't get more donations they were still generating money and were able to fund their beneficiary programs. The programs were schools and while I was there they transferred about $300m~ each year of the trust value about 4% of the trust value to cover educational costs. They were the largest K-12 private school system in the U.S. I thought it was a great way to manage their assets.

I’m Dence:  Interesting to hear from someone with actual knowledge about how similar things have been done. Thanks. 
I still am unconvinced that it's appropriate for what the "sole corporation" claims to be (or should aspire to) but the more actual facts I learn, the more I believe (to paraphrase Denny Green): they are who I think they are.
I just find it incredibly disheartening that those who should be open and honest about such things, prefer to hide their works in, at best murkiness (if not outright darkness). Especially when there are express revelations requiring not just transparency, but the common consent of the membership after full disclosure.

SISTER-IN-LAW: Who are you talking about when you say "those"? The Prophet and Apostles? Your statement is murky to me.

ATTORNEY WHO JUST MOVED OUT OF MY WARD: The non profit trust I worked for had to file an IRS Form 990 each year. From that, newspapers might go to a site like to download and see a submitted Form 990 and report on what they found. This included top salaries by name, Contributions and grants, Investment income, Total Assets, Total Liabilities, Net Assets and other information. I don't know if there is an exemption that allows the church to request the IRS not to make their 990s generally available. The trust, like may non profits, was relatively transparent because of this IRS requirement. It made it easier for the public to get a decent level of transparency. I understand where you're coming from about transparency, though.

Nonprofit Explorer - ProPublica
Since 2013, the IRS has released data culled from over 1.8 million nonprofit tax filings. Use this…

MISSION FLAT MATE:  I'm waiting for the church to announce they just bought a Vegas casino. Could be a big money maker and the money could be used to help the poor, so it's ok.

I’m Dence: "Could" being the operative word.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Enough Mormons already work in them, so just take the final step, LOL :)

MISSION FLAT MATE: I'll spin this debate in a new direction. For four years at BYU I heard day in and day brings in a lot of money, therefore it's needed at BYU. Never mind the fact that the players are frequently a source of international embarrassment as a result of their conduct on and off the field. One night I'm watching NBC National News and they are doing a story on a fight between BYU and another team, the focus was on the numerous cheap shots and punches to the heads delivered by BYU football players. Gee, something Heavenly Father can be proud of for sure.

Still the argument brings in money.

One seriously has to question the priorities of a church and membership that have largely put money and the acquisition of it ahead of most everything else.

I’m Dence: Just one of many differences between the gospel, and the trademark of the subsidiary company of the sole corporation (and those who worship its board of directors and/or fruits).

GUY FROM MY YSA WARD: Spencer W Kimball was a banker,
he restructured all of the churches assets. All of the quorum of the twelve are Ivy league educated and were super successful in their private lifes.
I am no longer part of the church. But from a business point of view, they are the best business model ever. My uncle works in their outside of the tithing corporate side and the corporation side is super successful.
The church is taking a ton of farm land on the Wasatch front and putting in the utilities and services and developing and selling it off. 
Most of the land was donated a hundred years ago. In Hawaii they're doing the same. In California they have been doing it also.
People are still donating large tracts of land world wide. The business of "the corporation of the presiding presidency or bishopric" is a booming business. I have been out of the church for twenty years now. I am not angry , I am practical and realistic and I have been watching and paying attention.

MISSION FLAT MATE: An ex member who is now a cheer leader :)

I’m Dence: I'd not intended to argue, debate, bait, or in any way convince anyone of anything with this post. I had my own ideas about what is going on (generally and in this specific case) with the "sole corporation" (and it's subsidiaries) and wanted to hear what others thought (or if they were even aware - or cared). 
Despite my reputation, and profession, I don't particularly like to argue with folks, especially on social media. It's not effective, and it's just not fun for me. 
More importantly, I've come to believe that the principle of agency IS the purpose of life. Those who fail to grasp this truth, or worse, pay lip service to it, yet try to force their views on others are just plain wrong. If others can be persuaded to think and figure things out for themselves (hopefully with guidance from the spirit) great. If not, it is far better to plan to be long suffering, than to try to force them to come to your position.
I thought I asked a pretty simple question: would you as a believing member care to explain this? [this being that Property Reserve Inc., a church™ owned subsidiary investment company had bought a newly built 386 unit apartment complex in Texas with a tax assessor’s value (usually a fraction of true market value) of $45 million.]
I was saddened and disappointed (though not necessarily surprised) by those who regurgitate the correlation committee's sanitized/white washed/candy coated, less than accurate, views of the history and present state of affairs of church™ investment. 
I am troubled by those who seem to honestly believe that trusting in the arm of flesh through commercial investment is an appropriate activity for an organization claiming to be a full restoration of the historic church of God. 
I just plain mourn for those who, rather than seek to investigate the truth, instead resort to knee jerk attacks on anyone who raises an issue they aren't comfortable with by labeling them as a "Doubter"/ "Questioner"/ suffering a “faith crisis” (current Mormon cultural parlance to belittle someone so the accuser can feel justified in ignoring the content of the “other’s” message). Honestly, why would anyone do that to another person who is merely raising a legitimate question and seeking a real, honest, discussion of the issue? I find that shameful.
Like I said, I value agency, as does my Father. And those who would abdicate their personal agency (especially to men who say, God has given us his power) without investigating, and then seeking spiritual confirmation of their findings desperately need to change. (and study their scriptures.)
So what's my explanation of this? 
Actually despite Messers. KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP and HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE's false narrative that the "investment arm" of the church™ is a distinct, and direct decedent of the separate commercial activities of Brigham's early Deseret ventures (which ironically included a number of breweries and distilleries), the fact is that entity's assets were depleted to the point of bankruptcy by the time Lorenzo Snow became it's president. An entirely new entity was created when Heber Grant became president, and that entity was $32 Million in debt by 1962. (So you don’t have to trace back any further than that point.) It was just prior to that time that Henry Moyle convinced David McKay to stop accounting for expenditures in General Conference. (Likely to hide the extent of the budget deficit caused by spending on underutilized buildings.) Then the church™ brought in Eldon Tanner (not Spencer Kimball who’s banking experience was being a clerk and a teller as a young man, and who made his fortune selling bonds and insurance), who took over church™ finances and brought with him a team of corporate lawyers and managers whose experiences in the the world of corporate finance have been credited with turning the church™ around financially. 
But where did they get the funds to make such a turn around?
You'd think that after serving as a ward or stake finance clerk for over ½ of my adult life I'd be well versed in church™ finance. But like a good Pharisee, I didn't have time to actually learn about anything but collecting church™ funds (and distributing the meager "budget" that is returned - in accordance with "the handbook", of course) until I was released and finally took the time to investigate on my own.
What I discovered is that in reality, the church™ presently accounts for tithing on a 3+ year basis. In the 1st year the donation is collected, in the 2nd year it's budgeted, and in the 3rd year (or later) the principal is spent per the budget. From the date of collection until ultimate distribution, the funds are invested. (This is consistent with Mr. Dang’s experience.) So when the church™ spends “investment money” those funds include the interest collected on the tithing money during the 3(+) year cycle from when the donation is originally collected until the time it is ultimately spent. It also includes the interest on the former returns/interest as it accumulates over the years (essentially since sometime after 1962). 
So to claim that the "investment arm" is different than tithing, is what we in the legal profession call a distinction without a difference. 
Also of note: the fact that these "investment" funds total 100's of millions (if not billions) of dollars gives an indication of how much the actual tithing principal is. For those proclaiming all the good that the funds that actually are spend do, think how much more could/ought to be done if "the brethren" would actually bring ALL of the tithes into the storehouse.
Finally, as to parables, it's well known that they are stories that have meaning on different levels. Those who think that the parable of the talents is really talking about investing money, probably aren't seeing the real meaning in the story. Woe will be unto such, unless they change!

HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE: My sincere apologies. My poor attempt at some humor, once again

I’m Dence: Naw HS FOOTBAL TEAMMATE, I enjoyed your humorous speculation. No need to apologize.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Um, is there a Reader's Digest version available of that last post?

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: Preferably in large print...

MISSION FLAT MATE: What we don't know, is that I’m Dence billed himself $450.00 to write that.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION: Believe it or not I’m Dence - your opinion is based on a lot of unknowns as well. It is also based on personal values that you've assigned as what a good Christian/Mormon is- even making your own interpretation of scripture. It places those who don't see your point of view as contrary to our own tenets. There is too much unknown here to say the church is flawed in their decisions to participate in for profit investments. Suggesting that a church act a certain way because it doesn't fly with secular criteria of how a church should act is also flawed. It is an assumption on anyone's part where the original capital came to begin these investments. 

Posting your opinion invites debate. Not everyone will agree- that should be expected.

I’m Dence:  It's pretty clear you either didn't read, or didn't comprehend, my prior post. 
That's ok. I won't try to make you. That's something you have to choose to either seek to understand, or ignore. 
I would ask that if you want to further interject yourself into the discussion that you let us know where you stand on the original question.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION: For my take on your original question: I don't see a problem with the church involved in for-profit commercial ventures. 

I am a private architect working with the church and many of their projects I am involved with are for profit. he purposes of some of these projects I am privy to and others I am not. These projects support a wider interest for the church and they are not for profiteering as has been commented on. 

I have a problem with the assumption that all ventures outside of temple and meetinghouse are out of bounds for the church (a favorite attack in the editorials on the SL Trib). The church has had a wide variety of interests in the past and present from schools, hospitals, banking and commercial ventures like ZCMI. Some of which they no longer participate in because they don't meet the church's present purposes.

MISSION FLAT MATE and I have disagreed over city creek in the past but investment in infrastructure in and around temple square and the church properties provides support of those properties to help insure SL downtown isn't abandoned and remains a center of commerce and growth. Investment for healthy community building of which downtown SL is a part from Brigham Young's following Joseph smiths lead. 

The church has been involved in community building from the start with Joseph Smith's "Plat of Zion" design. Community building involves itself with all the things I have mentioned including commercial ventures for profit and also building parks, farming and housing (which the church is also involved in). 

To equate the church's community building and investment in infrastructure as wrong is simply uninformed bordering on fault finding.

MISSION FLAT MATE: There just isn't any justification to support the idea of a church engaged in the business of saving souls, also being in the business of business for commercial gain.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION: Again you are assuming that a church has no business in these activities. Saving souls/building community- to me it is all interrelated. 

The Jews have been involved in the very activities I have mentioned and they have been castigated for millennia because they were commanded to and were successful at it. Gods people have always been a community building people from the beginning.

I’m Dence:  Yes, conflating Zion with Babylon can cause confusion.

MISSION FLAT MATE: Whaaaa? Please show me that verse from the OT, Thou shalt build unto me a shopping mall. Thus saith the Lord, the mall shall have, a Nordstroms, GAP, and food court. Thou shalt only serve Kosher in the food court.

MISSION FLAT MATE: It's ok OTHER GUY FROM MISSION for the members to go out and make some cash as individual members of a church. It's not ok when "the church" becomes a business enterprise.

I’m Dence:  Actually, I think I could envision circumstances where it might be appropriate for "the church" to have business enterprises. But certainly only for specific purposes. And only when the funds used In such an enterprise are handled in accordance with the actual revelation we purport to believe in; and not some corporate policy that has replaced it, advanced by the hired guns at Kirton McConkie.
Of course, if I have to take sides, I'm with the MISSION FLAT MATE on this.

MISSION FLAT MATE: You're with me on the Kosher Food Court?

I’m Dence:  Oh, absolutely. :D :D

MISSION FLAT MATE: You and I will be in big trouble with OTHER GUY FROM MISSIONOTHER GUY FROM MISSION....I’m Dence is a bad influence, I blame him and society for my actions.

I’m Dence:  Guilty as charged. 
I'll take responsibility for society as well.

OTHER GUY FROM MISSION:  You can call it what you like but building a city of God has been the focus of many different groups including ours and yes commercial institutions such as The Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institute were a part of it. Times have changed but there is a precedent for the very thing you are criticizing. You are equating a commercial enterprise to filthy lucre- it is also one aspect of community building. 

Take some time to read Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Kings through Chronicles to see how integrated personal life and church life was. Also, Enoch's United Order was a model Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had envisioned for us; it was a spiritual law that integrated secular life (which includes everything I have previously mentioned). Although we aren't living the principle the precedent is in place and the church is still involved in aspects of community building. In modern times we have partitioned our secular life from our spiritual life and many of us only see our Sunday experience as the only outlet for the church. It is us who have a problem of with understanding this paradigm. You criticize what you don't understand.

MISSION FLAT MATE:  It does seem very very odd that after listening to endless talks in General Conference about the evils of the pursuit of money. That the church itself would engage in the pursuit of money on a massive scale.

There are a number of Christian churches that reject being involved in business, and good for them.

KID FROM DOWN THE STREET GROWING UP: Sorry you feel so put upon by the responses to your 'innocent' request for a "real, and honest" discourse on the matter. I find your assertion that you had no intent to argue, debate, or bait disingenuous based upon your responses. As for the distinction you bestowed upon me of being condenscending and shameful, I'm sorry you have chosen to take offense where none was intended. I will admit my knowledge of the history of the various corporations and entities established by the church is lacking, and I cannot tell you definitively where the money came from to finance the purchase of this apartment complex. I don't believe that my tithing funds were used to purchase it. I may be mistaken, and according to you 'abdicating my personal agency', but the question of whether or not I trust how the Lord's sacred funds are being managed by the stewards in Salt Lake is not at the top of my list of things that need doing. I am struggling to handle the stewardships I've been entrusted with. Those who have stewardships at the level of your concern will have to answer for themselves whether or not they were true and faithful in those things. And once again, I apologize if you took offense at my suggestion that you reach out to Salt Lake with your concerns. Where else are you going to find an answer? I would think that social media would be a step below wikipedia in terms of finding answers to your questions. And just a friendly note, based on the content of your lengthy comment, perhaps before you call others' statements out for being condescending, you should evaluate your own, because quite honestly, your statement is dripping with it. Also, which do you find more 'shameful', my suggestion that you reach out to Salt Lake with your questions, or your holier-than-thou declaration that we're not only abdicating our personal agency, but that we 'desperately need to change'.

BROTHER-IN-LAW: The Church will use all legal means to protect its tithing and other funds as it is held sacred and it will use methods to distribute the risk of such funds. I mean who would really keep millions of dollars in one bank account, no one, it can't be guaranteed. You have to distribute your cash into investments to protect it and not just one type of investment. Its called diversification. Standard practice really.


  1. Doesn't this whole issue turn on whether the United Fifteen Apostles, peace be upon them, have the mandate of Heaven?

    If they have the mandate, then surely they are correct in all they do.

    If they have not the mandate, then surely it doesn't matter what they do.

    1. I don't see things quite so rigidly, or so absolutely.
      I think they (the Q15) can have a "right" to receive a mandate, but as with all things, it is up to them to exercise their agency to actually claim that "right." They may fail to do so with many/most things, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that at some point they might (at least on some subject or another).
      I see my task (and everyone else's) to be to judge when/if they are acting for God, or not. When/if they are, I think it's important to heed the Lords word. Otherwise, I'm at best . . .lets call it ambivalent.
      Unless, of course, you are using "the mandate of Heaven" as a term of art. If so, I'll have to do some studying . . .cause you know, I'm Dence.

  2. Let us try an experiment.

    Can the Church, in its present state, be rendered consistent with the teachings of Jesus, construed literally, as recorded in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon?

    Are these teachings - again, construed literally - ever taught from the chief seats? (I ran a search on Luke 6:30 through the Church's online search engine for this test; the result was interesting.)

    The Church calls herself after his name. Might therefore a detailed comparison between his word, and hers, be warranted when determining whether she speaks the Lord's word?

    1. Not to make it a semantic argument, but doesn't that hinge on what you view "the church" as being?
      I realize that in some parables the church is a bride for Christ.
      When I refer to “the church™” I mean the trademark of a subsidiary company of the Corporation of the President. I don't belong to that entity (only Tommy Monson does). [or to the corporate structured organization masquerading as that entity.]
      But when I speak of the church, I see it as a congregation of saints, who seek to do the Lords will and bring about Zion. (It's a VERY small congregation.) Giving to those who ask (and even those who don't) is a great first step in being part of that congregation.
      The primary benefit I see to the organization masquerading as “the church™” is the authority to bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
      I’ve actually received that gift.
      Of course, since I was raised LDS it was necessarily after I’d had “hands laid on me by those who are in authority” so I have no way of really knowing whether that step (the hands/authority) was a valid pre-requisite, or just superfluous. I prefer to err on the side of giving the hands/authority the benefit of the doubt for now. At least until I receive clear direction otherwise.
      but then . . I'm Dence

  3. Brother Dence,

    If you have been visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost and have received a remission of your sins, ever, you are in a minority among current Church members. I predict you will begin to find it difficult to stay in the Church and maintain fidelity to that which you have received. Your first allegiance is not to men, but to God, and they will not tolerate dual loyalties. You're either with them, or against them, and there is no middle ground unless you shut up.

    But it isn't necessary to pay attention to the Church's fiscal shenanigans, or bother with how The United Fifteen Apostles, peace be upon them, manage their stewardships. The path of discipleship beckons - those commandments you were keeping when you were visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost; the Savior's teachings, construed literally - and it gets harder the older we are when we start walking that path.

    But, really, what have we got going on that's better than trying an experiment upon the word of the Lord, to see if his promises are fulfilled?

  4. A data point to consider, Brother Dence - how long after hands were laid upon you were you visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost and received a remission of your sins?

    In the scriptures, when hands are laid, what is the typical delay?

    If your experience with the laying of hands and the visitation of the Holy Ghost does not conform to the scriptural pattern, and the prophetic priorities of the United Fifteen Apostles, peace be upon them, as well as their preachings and practices do not conform to the scriptural patterns, then what is the likelihood that they have the mandate of heaven?