I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Peter Drucker, "The Mormons are the only utopia that ever really worked."

The title of this post comes from an article that appeared recently in Mormon Times entitled, "'The Mormons are the only utopia that ever worked' This is a strong statement indeed from the grand old man of management.The statement is conveyed by Mark W. Cannon, former Administrative Assistant to the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice. Myself and all the B.Y.U. interns had the opportunity to meet Cannon and hear him speak while interning in Washington D.C.,

"Almost 3,000 Mormon stakes and 25,000 wards and branches in more than 150 countries function with no paid clergy or staff, yet carry out a rich variety of well-organized, effective educational, spiritually enriching, advisory and service programs for people of all ages.
Drucker, and others, find all of this astonishing. To me, it is natural. I have been part of it since the day I was born. Everything I am and everything I have done has resulted from my membership in the L.D.S. church.

Setting aside the issue of faith and looking squarely at the secular benefits that have resulted to me over the years, I ask other religions, "What have you got better to offer me?"

"The Mormon Ethic of Civility"

An article entitled "The Mormon Ethic of Civility" was published in the Church's Newsroom at this link. The article was also published on The Civility Project's web site as well. I want to quote two paragraphs from it.

"The need for civility is perhaps most relevant in the realm of partisan politics. As the Church operates in countries around the world, it embraces the richness of pluralism. Thus, the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies."

I believe this statement is practiced in the Church as well as it is stated by Church leaders.

"Furthermore, the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. As the Church begins to rise in prominence and its members achieve a higher public profile, a diversity of voices and opinions naturally follows. Some may even mistake these voices as being authoritative or representative of the Church. However, individual members think and speak for themselves. Only the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles speak for the whole Church.."

When rhetoric becomes so inflamed that sides no longer talk with one another or worse, sides carry on simultaneous monologues at a deafening level, we are all hurt. My dislike of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and their many liberal counterparts is based in my belief that they are all  engaging in speech and acts emphasizing "the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible."

Democracy only works well when people are willing to really talk to each other. Those that prevent this, or render it impossible, are the real dangers to democracy.

It is finally official -- Mormons are the most conservative religious group in the United States

recent Gallup findings are not surprising to me. As a 7th generation Utah Mormon, with three advanced degrees in government, I have been aware for some time that Mormons are overwhelmingly conservative and Republican.

I know the Church insists that it is politically neutral and it is. It also insists that we are not encouraged in any way to affiliate ourselves with the Republican Party. We are not. I have always felt that our beliefs naturally lead us there.

In addition, politics is not discussed at Church. Local and central leaders do not pressure us to adopt certain politics or political positions. There is no political or ideological indoctrination at Church or connected with Church. Occasional isolated exceptions emerge but nothing on a large, moderate or small scale. Exceptions are rare.

Republicans embrace limited government, economic freedom, a strong military etc. Democrats seek to normalize same-sex marriage, abortion, limit freedom in our commercial enterprises etc. These views simply are not consistent with the gospel as I understand it.

The only conclusion is that there is something in our religious beliefs that is fundamentally compatible with currently being conservative and Republican. (These labels change meanings over time. There is no point in pointing out that Joseph Smith was a Democrat.)

The Gallup findings also highlight the fact that lapsed Mormons are more likely to be more liberal and less conservative than regular members.

"The data show that these lapsed Mormons are substantially different in ideology from their fellow Mormons who remain active in the church (as defined by attendance at church services). In fact, lapsed Mormons are essentially no different from all other non-Mormons in terms of their basic ideology."
This conservative Mormon phenomenon is not unique to Utah as Gallup points out:

". . . whether a Mormon lives in Utah does not appear to make a significant difference in his or her ideology. The percentage of Mormons living in Utah who are conservative is little different from the conservative percentage among Mormons living elsewhere in the United States."
These findings together with the recent PEW findings make it indisputable that Mormons are conservative and Republican.

Gallup's bottom line and my bottom line are the same:

"Mormons are both the most Republican and the most conservative of any of the major religious groups in the U.S. today."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The New Arizona Temple and its Opposition

Note: (08/25/10) See the Church's new web site for the temple.

Opposition to L.D.S. (Mormon) temples is not new. In fact, most of the issues people have with them are never new. It is the same old issues being resurrected over and over and over again. Announced May 2008, the new Phoenix temple will be one of several in Arizona.

I am always astonished that resistance to the temples usually forms around the same issues. I am stating these mostly by memory. Here they are.

1. It does not fit into the neighborhood.

2. It is too large. (spire too tall or building too big.)

3. It will obstruct views.

4. It will increase traffic.

5. It will affect property values negatively.

Starting with the first, my brother visited me once when I lived in Roanoke, Virginia. As I drove to my chapel we passed many of the other denominations' buildings in the community. I explained that our chapel was rather isolated and in a growing residential neighborhood. We discussed how people often felt our chapels should be located in areas with other churches in "more appropriate" areas. My brother remarked, "Yeah, with the other BUSINESSES." L.D.S. chapels and temples are not revenue-generating businesses. They are revenue-eating places of worship.

The accusation that our buildings, or aspects of them, are too big is strange. This is puzzling because most people do not have any idea of the temple's purpose. You do not find people complaining that a football field is too large, a school's building or playground is too big or a city building is over sized. Generally, an entity's purpose is considered when judgments about its size and scope are made. Temples have specific purposes and serve a geographic area. There are reasons for the size they are and temple interiors as well as parking areas are configured to reflect these purposes.

I do not generally hear about people protesting other churches for building entities too big. It is even more baffling because all L.D.S. congregations are kept uniform. We do not build mega churches or have mega congregations. 100-400 is generally the norm with 500-600 being considered due for splitting in two. Temples are different but small temples have become the norm.

Obstructing views is a legitimate concern. However, temples are such breathtakingly beautiful structures, they are THE VIEW, or become THE VIEW very fast. In growing neighborhoods, nature views eventually become obstructed no matter what. It looks like the Phoenix temple would deprive people of a view of an empty lot.

The traffic complaint is the complaint most easily refuted and generally without any basis in fact for very simple reasons. Temples are not open on Sundays so there is no traffic on days people normally expect it. In addition, temple traffic comes and goes throughout the day on weekdays and Saturdays. People do not enter and exit at the same times. They normally stay for a minimum of three hours and visitation is generally pretty small. I do not see temple stats but I am guessing most temples will see only about 200-300 people in a day at most. Small temples may be anywhere from 25-50 or 50-100. Huge temples probably function around 500 people a day. Most arrive in pairs, groups, or buses minimizing traffic.

Property values are affected positively. There is not anything better to protect or increase property values than a temple in the neighborhood. Just ask any real estate agent anywhere near a temple. It is called "The Temple Effect." In addition, temple buildings are beautiful, the grounds are always immaculate. Can you imagine a better neighbor?

Considering the new Phoenix temple specifically, I notice a few things from the news articles and people's complaints. First, the narrow legal issue that may go to public vote is the extra ten feet to the height of the structure that was approved and the temple's color. Voters will NOT vote on whether the temple can exist. However, people obviously think they can, especially if you look at this picture where the sign reads, "REFERENDUM PETITION'S SIGNED HERE," "PLEASE SIGN NOW ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT," and "STOP THE TEMPLE."

It is clear from many of the comments in the articles and in the comments section that most do not understand the difference between temples and chapels.

At best the Phoenix temple will be built to its current city approved plan. At worst, they may have to lop 10 feet off of the structure. But, since spires cannot be regulated, the building will sill be a beautiful and tall structure.

I wish opponents would research other temples in other areas to determine if their concerns are valid once a temple is built. I think they would find out that most of them are not.

Phoenix will get its new temple, and it is going to be beautiful.

Other blog postings: 8/25/10 and 1/19/11