Blessed are the worthy, for they shall be middle management


This summer, I had the opportunity to read a couple of disturbing documents. The most appalling, though, was "For What Purpose?" by Alvin Dyer. This was given to a group of missionaries in Norway in the early 1960s. It's the source of a lot of anti-African American belief that still, sadly, floats around Mormon circles. For instance, he teaches that blacks refused the Priesthood in the pre-existence and whites accepted it. The other non-white races were less fervent either way and thus have a slightly better chance. This "doctrine" really pisses me off because it flies in the face of the LDS theology of a nonpartial God. It's predestination repacked with the little addition: they might be saveable, but they'll have a hard row to hoe in order to get there. I refuse to believe that God makes it that difficult for his children to be saved. And the notion of choice-ness without a strong dose of commesurate responsibility is a very sketchy thing indeed.

Thankfully, this document is no longer widely circulated and, from what I understand, the Church refuses to copy it. This isn't an instance, as some would suggest, of whitewashing, but rather of the Church being aware that Elder Dyer (he was an assistant to the Twelve and later Apostle--but not a member of the Twelve) had some opinions that he presented as doctrine and are false. There's no need to promulgate these horrific lies.

Elder Dyer also takes a crazily literal take on the Noah story. He spends a couple pages explaining the curse on Ham and how Japeth is the father of Europeans et alia and Shem of the Middle Easterners. Granted, I'm no literalist and am often bothered when people do take the Bible as inerrant (especially in a theology that admits errors in it!), but even still, this was way beyond your typical biblicism into a realm of pseudo-anthropology only matched by the more intense employees of FARMS.

But, these theories and opinions were not the most galling to me. I had heard these all before. What took the proverbial cake was his discussion of why there are multiple resurrections. Here, Elder Dyer taps into his background as a business executive to explain it this way: If you were to start a new business, who would you hire first? Your plebs or your managers? Obviously, the managers. So the first resurrection is for the managers to get things rolling and then the next level and so on. Essentially, the whole point of being good in this model is so you can run the orientation for the Telestial beings.

I really hate managerialism, particularly in my church, and this is a prime example. I want to be good for a multitude of reasons (fear of punishment, attaining godhood, feeling better about myself), but I have never, ever thought "I want to be good so that I can be a mid-level executive." I guess for people who think in business models this might be a useful analogy. Frankly, it loses all meaning to me in knowing that there (in the spirit world), there's going to be quite a different take on capitalism (essentially, it doesn't exist). Contributions will be equal according to the skills and abilities of the contributors. So, if someone lacks the knack for leadership but is awesome at making the clothes we'll be wearing, his contribution is just as valid. Unless, we have T&T* Industries there. Maybe that's what Dyer's after. A model in which the good get served for every need by the lower kingdoms leaving them free to "manage" as they see fit.

At any rate, I disagree. It angers and saddens me to see such things not only can be but actually are believed. It's one of those situations in which I wonder, do we really belong to the same church at all?

*Telestial & Terrestrial


Petra said...

Honestly? No, you don't really belong to the same church. But it's your church too.

(This is what I tell myself nearly every single Sunday morning of my existence. Oh, and every Tuesday morning at BYU.)

Tolkien Boy said...

You should hear Dr. Wickman, of the BYU's English staff, rant about how the church has inexplicably come to associate coporate culture with righteousness.

This is why I try and buck the system by wearing colored shirts to church.

alea said...

Oh, I wear the coloured shirts so I can't be asked to perform priesthood ordinances.

One of my uncles thinks Mormon dress in 150 years will look outdated and odd, like Catholic priestly garb. White shirt, ties and suits will be how the chosen are recognized.

Post a Comment