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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Intellectual Hoarding: Moral Decision Making in Mormondom #4

(This is an occasional series that discusses normative questions. Too often we do not consider the inferences and implications of what we do. In short, we fail to realize when a moral decision is necessary. This occasional series will do so. Readers are encouraged to pose their own questions and views in the comment forum.)


I've always been entranced with the idea that Benjamin Franklin refused to seek a patent for his stove invention. He wanted everyone to benefit from it and he didn't want its availability to be limited.


People hoard physical items obviously, but I think the same is true of intellectual possessions. I call it intellectual hoarding. I have no objection to people having intellectual property, copyright laws, patents and trademarks etc. I am not suggesting that we violate the law.


I am suggesting that we should be willing to share whatever we have for the benefit of everyone. Christ shared everything he had be it tangible or otherwise.
. . . freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
For example, I jealously guarded my Fudge Muffins recipe for years, despite the fact that I received the recipe from a friend. I liked the exclusivity and notoriety I got for it. I got a lot of mileage out of that recipe. I loved the fact that it put others' brownies to shame at Church events especially. EVERYBODY loved MY fudge muffins. MY fudge muffins. Oh dear . . .


Finally, I decided that my action was not Christlike. I give the recipe to anybody now. I put it online. (Click on the link above.) I've tried to adopt the mindset where I will be willing to share anything I have or anything I know as freely as possible.


Another example, In a Ph.D. seminar I was in a fellow student, a Washington D.C. lobbyist, commented that most people don't understand the way the government really works. Our professor prompted her to explain how it really worked. She refused. She said, "If I do that then my employers won't need me anymore."


She's right. But, this fact applies to a lot. Many of us are employed because others don't have our knowledge and skills. Often this is protected by adopting profession specific jargon and standards that we can exclusively control. We try and keep others from attaining this knowledge and skill through barriers we erect.


Some of this is just maintaining levels and standards of quality. But, that goal often gets merged with keeping certain people out and maintaining exclusiveness. If I freely shared my research skills and knowledge, would people need me anymore? Would all my education and training be rendered moot? Why should I give people freebies? I paid good money to know what I know and to do what I do. Yikes, I could go on and on.


Obviously, we need to make a living but I don't think we need to hoard out intellectual abilities as much as we do especially in our Church service. I'm trying to make mine as freely available as I can. This blog is part of that.


With that in mind. I'm going to give you all a few tips that I make good use of:


http://scriptures.byu.edu/


This is a citation index. What that means is that you look up a reference, in this case a scripture citation, in order to find out what has been said about it in General Conference.


For example, let's assume you have been assigned a scripture to give a talk on in Sacrament Meeting. Looking up Matthew 10:8, the quote I use above, I receive the following:
Matt. 10:8 (01−A,27,RDH) (80−A,79,HWP) (68−O,11,LR) (53−A,130,SR) (49−O,24,ETB) (48−O,166,GAS) (47−O,14,LEY) (45−O,152,SWK) (26:301a,FDR) (26:209a,MT) (24:250a,JFS) (16:306b,JT) (16:132b,DHW) (15:170a,JT) (11:179a,GaS) (9:198a,GaS) (8:219b,ES) (3:180b,PPP) (191,JS) (120,JS) (105,JS)
I received the results above by expanding the + sign next to "New Testament [39031]" in the column on the left. Just keep expanding things until you get the scripture you want.


The first reference (the one I've bolded above) is to an address by Robert D. Hales in the April, 2001 Conference on page 27. Just click on the bolded portion above on the web site and the address will come up in another frame. You can click through all the ones in the list. Like I said -- a gold mine.


Here's another trick. Instead of using the Church's search function, do a domain search in Google. For example, bring up http://www.google.com/ and select "Advanced search." Don't worry, it isn't that advanced. Put your search terms in under "all these words" or "this exact wording or phrase" if you have a quote and then go to the bottom at "Search within a site or domain:" and put in "lds.org." I get much better results this way and I find things the Church's search function doesn't give me.


Whew, I just de-hoarded. That felt good.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, ooh, my turn! A quicker way of searching a site, without having to go to Advanced Search: Just go to Google.com and, before your search terms, type the phrase "site:" followed by the URL you want to limit the search to. So if I wanted to search lds.org for the phrase "tender mercies," I would type the following in the regular Google search box:

    site:lds.org "tender mercies"

    ReplyDelete