For years I’ve labored under the delusion that I was somehow normal; that is for a Mormon. Finally I’ve come to the conclusion which is inescapable; I’m not normal. I’m a radical -way out there. Actually I’ve known this for some time. But, thought I, when presented with the evidence in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, members would pretty much come to the same conclusion about things that I’ve come to. It’s in the book right? The book is nothing if not plain. Matter of fact as it takes pains to point out, it’s as blunt as possible.
What is cause of my trouble might you ask? Well, in a discussion in Sunday School yesterday I pointed out that Mormon and Helaman just happened to give us the cause for all of their wars and troubles:
"…there arose a dissension among them, (the “them” being the very priests he had called to the work), and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman and his brethren; But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God." Alma 45:23-24.
Upon reading this it’s easy to make the connection; they grew rich, then proud, then rich in their hearts, and finally set out on their own course. Riches are the problem here. They ruin everything and are set out as a test. Being warned that they are bad for you, they become the ultimate test. In the days of calamity we cling to Him. But what do we do in the days of prosperity? It’s the one test we can’t pass because we’ve never been inclined to look at prosperity as a test but as the ultimate blessing.
Will we reject riches? The answer, as I heard yesterday from a member of the Bishopric, is a resounding, "No!" Every excuse must be made for the wealthy among us, justifying their wealth, not only justifying it but pointing out that it is more likely that you find greed and pride among the poor [!]
Stunned, I finally stated to the bemused church member, "I’m not sure that the real problem can be pointed out any clearer."
The way I see it, and granted I maybe reading the book in some sort of socialist induced haze, the BOM, from front to back, warns us of the corrupting influence of wealth, with a strong inducement to reject it and seek for equality, that all may be made rich, which of course is the ideal of Zion, if all are rich there are not rich or poor, but all alike. [See 4 Nephi 1:3, D&C 104:16]
It’s all but useless to go before a church member with lists and lists of quotations, facts, and stories from the Book of Mormon pointing out this central fact. There is always some rhetorical trick, or character from the book of Mormon catapulted out of context in order to justify just the reading of the books with which we are most comfortable. In this light, Lehi becomes the uber-capitalist, Moroni the daring and willing example of military machismo, and Jacob the master of putting first things first in order to capitalize on your spiritual bone fides.
In October of 2008 I really thought the calamity was upon us, that finally we would be forced to look at the law of consecration seriously, perhaps even be forced to it in some limited way. What we did was double-down on the crazy capitalist schemes of the past. The thought of cooperative action seems beyond our ability to even conceive anymore. It’s everyone against everyone.