Occupy Wall Street/ SLC Stage 2: The Power of a Story


November 2, 2011 by Ron Madson

“The story of the Bible, and the power that it possesses, is a better story than any of the power games that we play in our world. We must tell this story, and let it exercise its power in the world. And that is the task of the whole church.”
–N.T. Wright

Church services are starting in just minutes, so I am once again prodding my fifteen year old son to finish getting ready so we will not be too late. The day before we had a brother in our ward open up his orchard to all comers, free of charge, to pick as many apples as we can use. I am waiting in the garage for my son, and seeing the stack of apples I realized that I was never going to be able to eat all those apples—“for there is enough and to spare.” I asked my son if he wanted to try out a different church today. He was more then anxious for a change, so he immediately got dressed and we took off to Pioneer Park.

I had heard rumors that “Occupation” at Pioneer Park was disintegrating, so I was surprised to see more tents than what was there two weeks earlier. The most prominent part of this Pioneer Park community is the food court where volunteers are constantly cleaning and preparing food for the next meal—food given freely to anyone with no questions asked. The food court is where all donations—monetary and in kind are given. We dropped off the apples.

My son and I began to mingle with the crowd. There is an educational booth that has literature and a few attendants. There is also a “spiritual space” where individual and groups can gather and share spiritual and educational messages. I visited with Aharon Ben-Or and Rob Tautges who are involved in that part of the camp. Aharon explained that during the past two weeks the camp had been a magnet to the homeless who sought not only the food, but also something that they hungered for more then bread—having a community where they could be intellectually and emotionally embraced. Aharon estimated that more then half of the tents were by those who were homeless. With their presence came medical needs—physical and mental, substance abuse and all the raw problems that come with the disenfranchised in a community. And with their presence, many of the original organizers and the attendant middle class departed the park seeking to find a place to concentrate on the Wall Street message and not be occupied with addressing the needs of the lowest “one percent.” But some hardy souls decided that rather then disband, they would stay and see what they could learn and then do for this community of the disenfranchised in Salt Lake City.

I shared with a few organizers that I have posting privileges with the Mormon Worker, which gave me a chance to share with them why I believe that it is because of our Mormon faith/values/doctrine and traditions, the presence of the least in our community should be a magnet rather then a deterrence to our ministering to those in Pioneer Park. I brought my scriptures in anticipation of sharing a Sabbath day message. I quoted a few doctrinal statements from the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. The small group nodded in approval. Then I realized that these were just general statements that were, as a practical matter, sterile platitudes.
As the crowd increased to hear what I had to say, I decided to tell stories from the Book of Mormon. I told of a King that worked with his own hands so as to not tax his people, and was so righteous that an angel visited him and told him that in reality we are all beggars, and that he and his people should use their resources to give to every person in need and not judge those in need, and that is how we take upon ourselves the name of Christ.

I then told the story of a people that through the labor of the common men and women, had built a wonderful and prosperous city. That with the growth of that city’s wealth came monuments dedicated to showcasing a great and powerful church. At their highest spiritual monument (Rameumpton) they would gather frequently and praise God and speak about how wonderful it was that they were prosperous and thanked God because they were “a chosen and holy people” —being spared from the suffering of the many sinners who did not believe as they did. Then when prophets were sent to this city by God, they found that the poor in that city, who had labored with their own hands to build the city, were not welcomed at the churches to worship because of their great poverty. These poor were not sufficiently dressed for success, and they were suffering from the many distasteful aspects associated with their poverty. And yet it was among these people that God’s message was heard:

“…they were cast out of the synagogues because of he coarseness of their apparel…being esteemed as filthiness, therefore they were poor, yea , they were esteemed by their brethren as dross; therefore they were poor as to the things of this world; and also they were poor in heart…for they were despised of all men because of their poverty.” (Alma 32: 2-5)

After sharing this story, one of the organizers yelled out to others and said, “Come here. You must hear this story.” Others came and I was asked to tell the story again. I told it again, adding details (now I was beginning to feel like Elder Cunningham in the Book of Mormon Musical). So I then brought the story home. I said that I believe that Mormons have a rich tradition of serving others, and we have given a great deal to local shelters, and that we have a natural desire to give once we allow ourselves to be among those in real need. However, in my opinion, over time we have lost our way in that we have begun to ignore our own stories and how they should apply in our generation. We have succumbed to a desire to be accepted by the world so much that we have begun to mimic the corporate world more then the Kingdom of God. With the ostensible goal of removing “urban plight” from being near our holy places dedicated to our worship of Jesus, we have begun to spend far more on corporate financial “monuments to our success” then on direct humanitarian relief. We have begun to believe that we have been chosen by God to be rich and prosperous because of our righteousness, and then we spend tens of millions advertising the image of our goodness to the world.

I shared that our church leaders have added a fourth mission of the church—“Provide for the Poor,” and that there is a growing consciousness that we must find ways to fulfill our spiritual destiny so that there will be “no poor among us.” The Mormon community is conditioned to give and give and give. But we have also become conditioned to think that once we give to the Church our tithes and offerings and serve in callings within our wards, that we have done our duty. In our last General Conference one of our top leaders gave an inspirational message that we must find ways to care for those in need in our community, but we should not expect any money for such needs from the tithing funds that we had sent to our church corporate headquarters to address those needs. We were instructed that we must find local solutions. And that is why I and others from the Mormon Worker group have been here to visit you.
For if there is even one person who is homeless, uninsured, has unattended physical or mental illnesses, and/or in abject poverty in our community, then we have failed in our covenant that there be no poor among us. We have an immutable covenant to find a way to collectively alleviate every person that puts up their petition/sign seeking aid for basic necessities.

How easy would it be? Very. Build one less Rameumptom, if necessary. Then quit advertising our goodness—and use a fraction of those funds to minister to those in acute needs. Recently, a Mormon apologist group had this to say in attempting to justify our church spending multi-billions on a downtown shopping mall (the most expensive per square foot in the history of mankind) next to temple square rather then providing direct relief to the poor among us: “Critics also overlook the fact that if money is spent to feed the needy, that money is gone.”  Why would we want to invest in temples of flesh that rot and decay when we can invest in temples of granite that last forever and give greater returns? Because that is what Jesus did. He fed the multitudes for He knew that one child of God is of greater value then all the riches and monuments of the world. Our apologist should spend more time reading our stories then seeking to justify every detour we take in pursuit of Mammon and the praise of the world.
Occupy Wall Street, whether in SLC or any city, is part of a larger story that is being told in our nation and throughout the world. How we as a faith relate to that story will define who we are and hope to be. I was asked before I left, “What will it take to have the Mormon community participate in providing relief to those in Pioneer Park?” I said we need to just tell the right stories from our sacred texts that link us to the true vine—- the life, teaching and person of Jesus of Nazareth. And what is the moral of our stories for our day?—

Don’t invest in “great and spacious buildings”; quit spending tens of millions advertising ourselves; and refrain from ascending our Rameumptoms from which to point the finger of scorn at those who have not succeeded in prospering according to the management of the flesh. And if we can repent of our well engrained habit of using our resources to build a financial empire patterned more after Wall Street then the Kingdom of God, we will find that we have more than enough to spare for the needs of every single hungry, sick, uninsured, and poor among us. The invitation to “sell all that one hath and give it to the poor, and come follow me” is no less applicable to churches as it is to individuals—and arguably more applicable if a church desires to be identified as a Christian faith. If we only consecrated a tithe of our church tithes (the Old Testament requires a third) to the poor, there would be more then enough to eliminate poverty in our communities.—and that tenth of our tenth would be a ten times improvement over what our church now spends on direct humanitarian relief. In the words of our previous advertising theme—“Isn’t it about time?”

“Tell someone what to do and you change their life–for a day; tell someone a story and you change their life.” –NT Wright

Ron Madson October 30, 2011

34 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street/ SLC Stage 2: The Power of a Story

  1. “Critics also overlook the fact that if money is spent to feed the needy, that money is gone.”

    I was astounded by that statement. I quoted it on Facebook the other day and commented that if that is what we get from our apologists, I’d rather just deal with the critics, thank you very much.

    This is a much better statement:

    “For if there is even one person who is homeless, uninsured, has unattended physical or mental illnesses, and/or in abject poverty in our community, then we have failed in our covenant that there be no poor among us.”

    I think we need more emphasis on this topic, especially considering D&C 49:20: “it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” The Lord said the world lies in sin not because of gay marriage, not because of abortion, not because of communism, or insufficient military-worship, or high taxes; the world lies in sin because some possess more than others. Oops. Well, if “love of money is the root of all evil” wasn’t clear enough before…

    How many times is this very principle repeated in the scriptures? And yet we still fail to get it. Well, maybe we’re coming around, one by one. I was about as conservative as one could get before my mission. While serving I thought it was an egregious oversight on the part of the Church’s leadership that we were allowed (and even encouraged) to baptize illegal immigrants, yet here I am today commenting on The Mormon Worker. So who knows? Maybe there’s hope…

    • Ron Madson says:

      really enjoy your thoughts. And I confess that I was a conservative zealot for much of my life on some issues–I am a little slow at times.
      Also, I forgot about DC 49:20. I really should have shared that passage while at the Occupy movement. It would also make for a nice sign. We made several but that quote is perfect–short, surprisingly very progressive and right there in our mormon scriptures. And you are right all those others “sins” are not mentioned in that context.

    • tariq says:

      You hit the nail on the head with the D&C 49:20 point.

  2. Todd Decker says:

    Great post Ron. I really like how you made the scriptures come alive for the people you were talking to. I love the idea of one of someone there yelling out, “Come here. You must hear this story.” That’s the power of The Book of Mormon. And a lot the time we don’t recognize that the Book of Mormon has real relevance to the issues we deal with today like greed, materialism and division into classes.

    • Ron Madson says:

      when I was speaking with this small group, I gathered that they were not familiar with the contents of the BOM, so I took more liberties to expand a little on the story, or rather adapt it to our time. The BOM is true to the extent it conveys truth, light and power in changing lives through faith in Christ. There were a couple of detractors that wanted to argue about the origins of the BOM, its historicity, etc. but I really am caring less and less about “proving” the BOM in an legal/authentication sense and more interested in the power it can convey to change our lives towards Jesus.
      anyway, thanks for stopping by and sharing your input.

  3. Truth Hurts says:

    I don’t really have anything to add, other than “Thank you.”

    It actually makes me want to move to SLC to participate in this sort of thing… being an outcast member myself who has chosen to leave (at least physically) for the time being. It is meetings like the one you describe which really are the definition of “church”, not some weekly 3-hour meeting in some stodgy, cookie-cutter chapel where we all approach our rameumtums.

    I found the FAIR article/statement a couple days back and was also taken aback by it. It’s a statement that both defies logic and is, ultimately, poorly conceived. Any 3rd rate blogger could have come up with a better reason to invest in real estate as opposed to other projects directed at the poor… seriously, is that the best they could come up with? That the money is wasted?

    Ask the poor starving kids, families and friends whether that money was “gone” (i.e. “wasted”), and I bet they’d give a starkly different answer. Perhaps it’s just another elucidation of the disconnect that exists between the haves and the have nots in church.

  4. Ron Madson says:

    Truth Hurts,

    well said my friend, if you were here in SLC I would welcome your company on such visits…

    This past year I have become involved with the Liahona Children Foundation: http://www.liahonachildren.org/

    I hope to do a more detailed post as to this organization in the near future. You can get more detailed outline of the program by googling “Brad Walker By Common Consent” where Brad was a guest poster and described the program he started.

    During their presentation we discover that approximately 90,000 LDS children suffer from varying degrees of malnutrition and approximately 900 each year waste away and die. That is inexcusable. I also learned that if a brain image is taken of a 3 year old child that has suffered from malnutrition from birth is literally half the size of a normally nourished child (the images are dramatic). I also learned that stakes in the countries we are targeting are limited to spend no more FO money on their people then what they send in. Consequently, without our help a large percentage of their children in many stakes will suffer from malnutrition/poor development.

    It was with those images/thoughts in my mind that I read the FAIRS comments (also recently read Daymon Smith’s book called “A Book about the Book of Mammon”) and I was admittedly angry to the point that I thought we need to Occupy COB as much as Wall Street. But it did at least give me the impetus to write the above post.

    Feeding malnourished children is the most important investment we can make. To make a calculation as to the “return” is the height of spiritual cluelessness. Since when did Christianity begin to monetize/commodify in monetary terms direct human relief?

    • Kris says:

      Thanks for sharing this post and for the discussion. Mormon Stories has a podcast with Daymon Smith here (http://mormonstories.org/?p=980). I recommend it. Any ideas about what can be done to voice our dissent on the way the church operates?

      • Ron Madson says:

        thanks for the link. Daymon’s thesis/paper on Correlation is a wonderful contribution in understanding how we have become what we are today. His book called “The Book about the Book of Mammon” is also a must read. It is a gem but takes some real effort to adapt to the style, but the payoff is worth it.
        As to your question? I really do not know? We are the church–each and everyone one of us. We are to be governed by Common Consent. Just share your honest thoughts civilly and sincerely with others. Joseph Smith taught that all in council are required to share their true thoughts/beliefs and not hold back. Thanks for showing up here and sharing your thoughts. Far more read these posts/comments then ever comment. So you are giving voice by being here.

  5. SLK says:

    Just want to add my thanks for this wonderful post.

  6. tariq says:

    “Critics also overlook the fact that if money is spent to feed the needy, that money is gone.”
    I hope the apologist who made that statement took a shower afterward because, I imagine, that kind of justification for indifference to suffering leaves an awful lot of dirt on the soul. By that logic, no one should ever even give food to the hungry, because critics overlook the fact that once food is given to the hungry, that food is gone.

  7. small star says:

    Your whole point is that The Mormon church gives roughly five bucks per person a year so yay you guys? (Numbers from LDS church PR department circa. 2006. Count me underwhelmed. Perhaps you could build a post around The Deuteronomy concept of jubilee years. That would be actually pertinent.

    • Hmm, five bucks a year per 12 million members would be about $60 million (for 2006) — considering LDS Church revenues were estimated at about $5 billion in 1999, the 1% estimate would be about accurate, assuming the PR department uses the same membership number that’s announced to the world; it’s quite possible that they’re counting only against active (or even tithe-paying) members. That also assumes the revenue estimates are accurate, though since these are conservative estimates and the Church keeps its finances secret, they could be much larger, so 1% is probably a very generous estimate.

      Thanks for the info. For such a large organization that associates itself with the name Jesus Christ, I too find myself “underwhelmed” by this amount of charitable contributions. Especially if it’s true that we allow 90,000 members to suffer from hunger, and 900 a year to starve to death. That’s why posts like this are so valuable — we need to get Christ’s message of charity out, despite what the Church does…

    • Actually, the PR department probably said $60 million, and you figured the $5/member from that. Ah well, same result in the end anyways…

  8. PapaTony says:

    Ron – I confess that I was also a solid conservative, before finding out that things in the world are not what they seem at first glance. My conservative worldview started disintegrating after learning about what really happened in Rwanda and what caused it. Since then, as I’ve become more informed on what’s at work in the world and more aware of the terrible cost in unnecessary human suffering, I have found myself at odds with the worldview held by the majority of LDS people and seemingly promoted by the church, and as a result I have become somewhat disillusioned with the church itself. It’s therapeutic for me to read the stories and thoughts above, and find out that there is a “third option”: that it’s possible to be an active LDS *AND* politically progressive. So I agree with the comments above (with the exception of abortion being included in the list of superfluous “sins”) and really appreciate your efforts to dispel the myth that being LDS means being politically conservative.

    • Ron Madson says:

      I also had a “solid” conservative perspective during much of my life. I do agree with you as to abortion and that if I could define my politics it would be pro-life in every aspect of that word—environment, children, and humanity–whatever it takes to promote health and life–but it would incorporate what is now considered both conservative and liberal policies from anti-abortion to pro-universal health care–no one should be without access-.
      I also agree that their are third, fourth and so on options.

  9. Joseph says:

    I thought about sitting this one out, but I am really bothered by how out of context the FAIR wiki statement was. The author was not claiming we shouldn’t care for the poor. And the statement that if you give the money away it’s gone is true.

    If I have $10 and no way of ever getting another $10, giving that $10 away might be noble, but stupid. After that person who received my $10 runs out of money, we both starve. On the other hand, if I figure out a way to invest that $10 in a way that produces more, and then I share that, I and the other person both can benefit. It’s really not that complicated a statement if you put it back in context. Nor is it shocking.

    Christ gave the parable of the unjust servant. The unjust servant, in swindling and being dishonest and acting in many ways like our modern Wall Street crimals, ends up creating for himself a pretty golden parachute. Christ notes that he and others have been “wiser than the children of light.”

    The interpretation of this is not something I’m going to claim to be an authority on. But it seems to me that Christ, while not advocating the dishonest behavior of the unjust servant, is pointing out that the “children of light” can be rather foolish by getting so caught up doing good, that they fail to realize that some pragmatism is necessary in order to survive and keep doing good.

    The mall will most certainly generate money, and for actually quite a few individuals, not just members of the LDS Faith. And, last I checked, in spite of the commitment of many in the LDS Faith to the Tea Party, Utah and Salt Lake do still have taxes. Parts of the revenue from the mall seems likely to go to the common good and needed infrastructure that all in those areas can benefit from.

    I’m not saying I think that the current tendency of those in prominence in the LDS Church to have faith in corporate America to alleviate poverty in the long run is something I agree with. But I am not going to attack their intent when I can’t see into hearts the way God can.

    My inclinations are certainly much more with Brigham Young and those who signed the statement about ZCMI as a cooperative that was posted in part previously at this blog and others. The cooperatives were given up reluctantly by Church leaders, and their reticence has proven prophetic.

    But again, once put back into context, the apologist’s statement was really not that outlandish and scandalous. I find it offensive intellectually to see the statement treated as something it is not. It was not at all being argued that the poor should not be helped.

    • gomw says:

      I think the apologists statement means PRECISELY that we should ignore the poor. It obviously reflects trickle down or supply side economics assuming that if the rich get richer, so will the poor. That hasn’t happened nor will it ever happen. Helping the poor is not flipping a quarter at a beggar; in our complex society, it requires systematic organization.

      I believe your interpretation of the parable of the unjust steward is backward in you comparing his actions to Wall Street. Wall Street does not rob from the rich to give to the poor which is what the steward did. It more nearly reflects progressive taxation. You will also not that verse 13 of Luke 16, in which the parable is found. reads:

      13 No servant can serve two amasters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

      Shopping malls, particularly the pricey ones do generate a lot of money but not for the community in which they are located! Follow the money. It goes out of the community to large corporate banks, leaving in it’s wake, bankrupt locally owned businesses. They also exclude the poorer members of the community because of their higher prices.

      You quoted Brigham Young. Brigham Young was a socialist, just as the United Order and the society created in Acts: 4 vs 31-37 socialism. He also said that if ten beggars come to your door, only one of whom is worthy of your help, you do not withhold from all to make sure that the 9 unworthy ones are not aided, you give to all to make sure the one worthy one is aided. That’s in the Teachings of the Presidents.

      I do, however, admire your gentlemanly, scholarly presentation and your thought provoking position. I just disagree with it.

      Brooks W; Wilson

    • TH says:


      I’d like to bring a couple of things to mind… you stated:

      If I have $10 and no way of ever getting another $10, giving that $10 away might be noble, but stupid. After that person who received my $10 runs out of money, we both starve. On the other hand, if I figure out a way to invest that $10 in a way that produces more, and then I share that, I and the other person both can benefit. It’s really not that complicated a statement if you put it back in context. Nor is it shocking.

      I’d ask where in the history of scripture does it advocate investing money, then giving the interest income away? Better yet, do we have any examples of people giving their interest income away? For the project at hand, we can’t forget that it’s a for-profit venture that is governed by for-profit rules. There is simply no way highly regarded corporations like Taubmann would enter the venture if there wasn’t a lucrative payday at the end. The money they will received for this deal won’t go to help the poorest of the poor. The money the church earns won’t go to help the poorest of the poor. In fact, as a for-profit venture, how can anyone really expect anything coming back?

      What’s equally interesting is that we seem to be saying that the people getting low-paying jobs in the retail industry in the mall are “worth” more than people in 3rd or 4th world countries where they have no access to clean water, healthy food or anything else. Just because someone is in our backyard doesn’t mean that they are worth more than people who are truly, truly destitute.

      Further, let’s hypothesize a little: would Christ reinterpret the scriptures to read, “Care for the poor, but only after you’ve pragmatically taken care of yourself first,” or “Care for the poor, but only once you’re making a profit”?

      Luke 12:13-21 provides an interesting rebuttal to the scripture you shared, and gets to the heart of our materialistic society, always yearning for more stuff and building larger barns to store our stuff in, meanwhile neglecting those beggars we pass by without even noticing.

      Can you bring about anything remotely resembling Zion while advocating that some should get rich (filthy rich if you really follow the money and management and development fees on a $4B project), while many others remain poor until profits are turned?

      • Ron Madson says:

        I hadn’t considered Luke 12: 13-21 but that really speaks to the issue. When do we stop hoarding and break open the granaries? Another good point you raise is that it really is not in corporate dna to change its’ habits—get as much as possible and spend as little..

    • Ron Madson says:

      “Fair” enough.

  10. Andrew says:

    Fantastic post.

    I also am not a fan of the FAIR wiki statement (despite the comment by Joseph which tempered my annoyance). The statement by FAIR suggests that by building a mall there exists the potential to create numerous jobs which can benefit a lot of people. To be fair, I assume that a job as a cashier or whatever is better than no job. But seriously, do those types of jobs provide the kind of income that is necessary to survive? Highly doubtful. So it’s off to a second job and less time for anything else but earning a buck.

    I have applauded messages by some Church leaders deploring the materialism that is so rampant both in and out of the Church (Elder Christofferson’s talk on Zion back in 2008 comes to mind). But what does a building a mall say about shunning materialism? The actions seem to be speaking louder than the words in this case.

    And what about the condos at the City Creek Center? Beautiful certainly, but also expensive beyond many members dreams. What does this do to alleviate class distinctions among the Lord’s people? And I have to mention, one night while walking the grounds on Temple Square I could see into the lighted and apparently sold Penthouse in the Richards Court complex (built above Deseret Book). Hanging on the wall was a large framed picture of Heinrich Hofmann’s “Christ and the Rich Young Ruler.” Oh…the irony.

  11. Forest Simmons says:

    Luke 14:15-24
    15And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
    16Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
    17And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
    18And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
    19And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
    20And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
    21So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
    22And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
    23And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
    24For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
    Where much is given much is required. We North American White Anglo Mormons have been given the fullness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but we are too caught up in Babylon to accept the invitation to follow Jesus, i.e. to feast on the pure love of Christ in a Zion where all are made partakers of the heavenly gift.
    We have been “bidden,” but we will not taste of His supper unless we repent drastically.
    Moroni (as recorded in chapter 8 of Mormon) says it best. [He is talking to us 1st world Mormons, not the third world poor of the Lord’s people]:
    35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
    36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
    37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
    38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
    39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
    40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
    41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.

  12. Jesse says:

    Ron, loved the article and enjoyed reading the comments. Thanks.

    Definitely agree that this was the jewel in your post:
    “For if there is even one person who is homeless, uninsured, has unattended physical or mental illnesses, and/or in abject poverty in our community, then we have failed in our covenant that there be no poor among us.”

    ETB, in his famous talk, “Beware of Pride”, seemed to be saying that competition and pride (“I’m more important than you because I have cooler stuff and can take cooler vacations”) are the foundation blocks of Babylon. Competitive free enterprise (call it “capitalism” if you like) naturally results in the division of society into haves and have-nots, which I believe is what D&C 49:20 is referring to.

    Zion, on the other hand, being the antithesis of Babylon, is founded on humility before God and cooperative free enterprise, which asks, “How can we work together so we all have cool stuff and go on cool vacations?”. Two of the three accounts of Zion societies (Alma 1:26-31 & 4 Nephi) clearly show that economic prosperity followed non-competitive economic cooperation. The pride thing then ruined all their fun!

    Like the Wall Street Protesters, Brigham Young was adamantly opposed to the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few and warned that it would endanger our freedoms. Here’s a video that explains Brigham’s view on this using his own words from a letter written in 1875: http://vimeo.com/31179001 . You’ll love the title, “Brigham Young Agreed with Occupy Wall Street Protesters”

  13. Ron Madson says:

    nice connection with ETB pride address—and did you create the BY agrees with Wall Street vimeo? Well done. As the vimeo points out BY’s letter on the economy could have been written by a present day spokesperson for the Wall Street Occupation movement.

    • Jesse says:

      Thanks. Yes, I did create the video. I create lots of YouTube videos for my clients and I’ve decided to start using my skills to “seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion”. You know… for fun.

      • forest Simmons says:

        I recommend this highly edifying vimeo to everybody, no matter their religious or political leanings. I don’t see how it could offend anybody of good will.

        How can we get the word out?

      • Jesse says:


        Thanks for your recommendation of my video at http://vimeo.com/31179001.

        You ask a very good question, “How can we get the word out?”

        What are your ideas?

      • Forest Simmons says:

        I found out about “The Mormon Worker” only because it was the counterpunch website of the day one day a few years ago.

        Somebody with more savvy about the blogosphere, and the mormon archipelago in particular, should know how to get the links started.

      • Forest, I’ve applied for my blog to be included in the Mormon Archipelago. Perhaps it would help if you and others requested it as well. BuildingZion.org. Thanks.

  14. […] a recent post in The Mormon Worker, Ron Madsen contrasts the Mormon church’s spending on a massive shopping mall to what they […]

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