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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Things Aren't Bad Everywhere

Some people have expressed astonishment over some of the things I've revealed about how the church operates in places I've lived. They said they've never encountered anything like it. I believe them and I find their remarks encouraging.

I would hate to think my experiences are typical of the church everywhere. I'm not sure I could handle things if they were, so your stories and incredulous reactions are appreciated.

I've pondered on how things like this could happen. I'll proffer a few of my theories:

1. The church is more spread out.

Along the Mormon corridor, wards and stakes are relatively close together. It was easy to find out what was happening elsewhere and correct wrong-doing if it appeared.

Where things are spread out, we don't have any knowledge of other wards and stakes. There is less knowledge of what others are doing. I think it is harder to know and correct what is going on that shouldn't.

2. There are fewer examples of how things should be done.

Along the Mormon corridor, there are plenty of terrific examples of people being conscientious, upstanding and magnifying their callings.

In some of the places I've lived, there are only people who have lived there all their lives. Nobody moves in, although some move out. There are fewer exemplars, fewer people to use as examples of how things can be done and how things should be done.

I've always appreciated the Mormon transplants in some of my far-flung wards. They often provide the examples that less mature members need for how things should be done.

Granted, Mormon transplants sometimes brings bad habits with them, like extreme materialism, for example. However, generally speaking their examples are positive.

With almost no other units available for comparison, wards and stakes can get lulled into thinking they are doing okay when they aren't. I think that is the main problem with my current ward. I don't think anyone truly realizes how bad things are.

3. Wrong doing isn't as easily spotted.

In one of my units, my husband and I were driving around one day and happened to spot a priesthood leader showing inappropriate intimacy with a woman, not his wife, as they exited his vehicle and entered the liquor store. Obviously, we were pretty startled and reported it to the powers that be.

We just happened to see it. There were no church members currently living in this community. He obviously thought he could get away with it, because the likelihood of being observed by anyone connected to church was so remote.

I don't want anyone to think that people are more righteous along the Mormon corridor. That is not my argument at all. The very best, and the very worst Mormons I've ever seen all lived in Utah. There is a wide variety of people there. I've not experienced this wide variety in the far-flung, small, isolated units I've lived in. People tend to be more homogeneous in these areas.

Are online tools the answer?

I think online tools could help to unify things and heal some of these problems. However, they are being resisted.

The online tools threaten the grip of local leaders who misuse their power. For example, if local leaders do not enable or encourage people to use online tools, then the Church will never be able to directly email it's own members. Also, the church will have to rely on reports from local leaders, whereas if more activities were online, they would be able to get information directly from members themselves.

Without online tools, local leaders serve as a conduit for information to church headquarters. With online tools, the church can interact with its members directly. This could weaken local leaders' power.

For example, I've read where the church is beta testing a program where home teaching and visiting teaching reports are entered by the people online instead of through others. If this is true, it could help correct problems.

Recently, we were told that when our full-time missionaries contact members or inactives, that would be counted as home-teaching visits. This would have artificially inflated our abysmal ward statistics, especially because all of our missionaries, seniors and elders, are all from the Mormon corridor and are extremely conscientious.

Well, this system got shut-down pretty fast this time, although other irregularities still persist. At least someone was able to correct this before it got too well-entrenched. If it had taken hold at all, I'm convinced it would have been continued indefinitely and everyone would have morphed into thinking that this is how things should be done.

If reports were directly entered online, then these shenanigans are much less likely to get started, or persist.

Online tools ma may not be the full answer to these problems, but it's one answer.

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