MSP post stolen and Mormons stumping

I caught two interesting news stories in my news feed this morning. First is this article in the Tampa Bay Tribune about the LDS Church being one of the largest land owners in the state of Florida: Mormon church is large landowner in Florida. The information provided in the article is EERILY FAMILIAR, as in, it’s basically a duplicate of my post here on MSP from 2009: LDS Inc owns .7% of Florida. I guess it wouldn’t look so good for the reporter, Kevin Wiatrowski, if he cited a website critical of the LDS Church as his source for the article, but plagiarizing a blog post for a news article probably wouldn’t look so good on a resume either. Do me a favor, if you would, and go comment on that article asking Mr. Wiatrowski where he came up with the idea for his article. My guess is that he did a Google search using the words “Mormon” and “Florida” and saw my post as the #1 link, then stole my idea. I could be wrong though.

The second news article that caught my attention didn’t get as much play in the big press as did the fact that Mitt was “Newt-ed” in South Carolina: young Mormons arrived by the busload to stump for Mitt. Since they were young, loud, and energetic, it gave the impression that Mitt had momentum in South Carolina. Um, yeah, not so much. When a reporter questioned their enthusiasm, they admitted they weren’t from South Carolina but rather from D.C. and Utah. It didn’t help Mitt in the end, but I call shenanigans nonetheless.

The Economic Role of Mothers

A Dec 2011 APA study is making its way through the news suggesting that mothers who work part-time are happier and healthier than stay-at-homes and full-time mothers, and they make good parents. A good summary of the study can be found here. Regarding the “mommy wars” or the debate in white feminist circles between working mothers and stay-at-homes, a simple middle ground seems to be part-time work. (The reason I say “white” is because in many communities of color, not working full-time is not an option for economic reasons.)

One of the researchers of the study, Cheryl Buehler, notes that:

  • A mother’s economic role is central to family life, and it supports her well-being and her parenting,
  • Work offers mothers real important opportunities and resources to minimize social isolation and enrich their social development and well-being,
  • It gives mothers tools, ideas, and strategies when raising a child.

I think we’re seeing how, in this economic recession and growing atmosphere of inequality, a “mother’s economic role” often means “the fact that a mother needs to work so that ends can be met.”

A policy hope is that from research like the APA’s, companies will start to offer more part time and flexible work arrangements, and also think about benefit packages for part-timers, since more part-time work benefits the economy, families and individuals.

I’m not going to mince words: Mormonism’s “Proclamation on the Family” is classist. It begins with an idealistic premise that certain “roles” are meant for certain genders, when it’s obvious for many families that a certain amount of income is required to meet those roles.

Would the Holy Spirit be offended if He were trademarked?

The Church is a corporation. This is not meant to be a mean-spirited statement. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is literally a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. The for-profit ventures of the Church are here.

One might wonder why the Church doesn’t just call itself The Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but a little research pulls up that this corporation was dissolved by Congress in the late 19th century due to polygamy. In 1923, the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerged — which of course, still exists today.

In 1933, the articles of that corporation were amended to include what happens when the President dies; the assets of the corporation are to be controlled by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or whomever the Quorum decides, until a new President is selected by the Quorum.

One might say that the Church is merely putting into the legalistic landscape its functions, something that must be done in America when a great deal of money is involved. But the Church isn’t just about money, it’s about a message, and it would like control over this message. That is what the current Mormon.org campaign is about — breaking down stereotypes of Mormons so that Mormons can speak for Mormons. But there is also importance to the language itself, down to the word “Mormon.”

In 2002, Intellectual Reserve, Inc, attempted to trademark “Mormon,” but the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application, stating that the term “Mormon” was too generic, and is popularly understood as referring to a particular kind of church, similar to “Presbyterian” or “Methodist,” rather than a service mark. Interestingly, this coincides well with the Church not wanting to be called the “Mormon Church” in the public sphere, but instead the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” because the Church has more legal recourse since it owns that name. What the desire to trademark “Mormon” says to me is that the Church might actually not mind being called the “Mormon Church,” provided it can own the name, since from a business perspective it slips off the tongue a lot more easily (and might allow the Church to sue the fringes). However, the Church dropped its application in 2007, a few months after it applied for Mormon.org (which it successfully trademarked in 2009).

Andrew’s post at Wheat & Tares, “Fanboys, smartphones, and cultural Mormons,” compares the Mormon brand to Apple/iOS loyality. He asks

Why do people stay in such a condition [adhering to a brand with bad product]? Why dont more people recognize that other products serve their needs better and move on? How does brand loyalty surpass a mere present value cost-benefit analysis?

In Mormonism, what keeps it all holding together is “the Spirit.” It’s what maintains brand cohesion even when the current product ain’t functioning necessarily all that great. Andrew instead asks why it is some people are more loyal to brands than he is to his religious community, but Mormonism is both a brand and a religious community. The Spirit in Mormonism has a particular set of definitional boundaries, and is understood to be present in a Saint through the manifestation of certain behaviors and language use (a well-trained anthropologist can mimic it); I’m wondering how long it will be until the Church attempts to trademark the Spirit.

Again, none of this is meant to be mean-spirited or insulting. I think it is very important to look at the connections between religion and money, no matter how spiritual things may feel.

Grow where you are planted

As difficult as it may be for some to believe, this is a statement I can agree with. It is/was an LDS statement originally said by David O. McKay**. From my understanding, it was meant to encourage Mormons not to feel as if they had to “move back to Utah”.

My own ancestors flouted this doctrine, but it was common prior to David O. McKay becoming President of the LDS church. A person might convert to the Mormon faith, and then attempt to move to Utah, Idaho or Alberta. It’s part of the reason many people came to Utah from the British isles and Scandinavian countries. Continue reading “Grow where you are planted”