In Defense of Mormon Stewardship

Kate Holbrook in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Winter 2010) gives examples of recent Mormon Church stewardship:

  1. Church leaders today do preach controls against capitalism in a number of ways; they still preach against inequality; they still harbor a communitarian vision.
  2. Leaders tell us to leave work at a reasonable hour and spend time with our children or helping the needy, instead of earning more money.
  3. In defiance of any god of efficiency, BYU shuts down for a devotional hour each Tuesday to remember the God of love.
  4. President Hinkley instigated the Perpetual Education Fund to increase educational opportunities for Saints around the world.
  5. Leaders still implore members to pay a generous fast offering.
  6. Even as head of an overhelming bureaucracy, President Monson continues to spend time visiting the sick, the lonely, and the bereaved at private residences, rest homes, hospitals, and funerals.

I don’t find the list to be very compelling.  And several of items on the list seem bizarre (commented on in the same order as Holbrook):

  1. I don’t find this first example to be very convincing.  For example, it you look at the politics of Mormons in general, you would be hard pressed to find very many that get excited about a “communitarian vision,” but that would depend, in part, on how you define “communitarian.”    I don’t see too many Mormons preaching against the inequaties of capitalism.  Capitalism and Mormonism have become deeply intertwined.  Many Mormons believe in a direct relationship between godliness and financial success.  Many GA are chosen, in part, because they are successful in business.  As for preaching against inequalities, we still have the “curse of Cain,” we still have a Neanderthal attitude toward gays, and, in the future, we will have a Lamanite issue to contend with.
  2. I will concede this one, but this admonition rates far below commandants like obeying the Word of Wisdom, which I find very frustrating.
  3. Big deal (sorry to be so cynical)
  4. I will only partially concede this one.  The LDS Church puts massive subsidies into assisting middle-class Mormons (subsidizing BYU, etc.) and have yet to make a similar commitment to members in developing countries.  But the Perpetual Education Fund is a good start.
  5. I think this is great idea, and I would encourage members to also put some of their tithing money into Fast Offerings.
  6. President Monson is an excellent example for members.

There is also LDS Humanitarian Services and other LDS-church-related groups that are doing good work.  But so much more could be done.  I would encourage all members to give to LDS Humanitarian Services, Fast Offerings, and Perpetual Education Fund.

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