Apologists, we have to face facts. The Mormon Church is a dead parrot. Everything the critics say is basically true. Your excuses do not work. But what can you do? Your family is in the church, so you can’t leave. And you are an idealist: you really want the church to be true. What choice do you have?
Well, what if I told you that there is a way the church can be true. Not in some weak-ass post-modern nonsense way, but in a “Save the World”, “double in size” kind of way? In a “so much proof that ex-Mormons come grovelling back” kind of way? Hey, I will even throw in the Second Coming for good measure. Here is what you must do. I call it:
Putting the “Latter-day” back into Latter-day Saints
It’s a ten step program:
Step 1: THINK BIG
Forget about making your dead parrot look good. We need a resurrected parrot, but this time with a perfect Celestial Parrot body. Bigger! Brighter! Faster! With blazing colours for all the world to follow! A parrot that makes non-Mormons shriek with excitement and follow it to the ends of the Earth!
You see, apologetics needs to be awesome or it’s not worth doing. So forget all those exMos who say “just apologise for the church’s mistakes”. Apologies are a side issue. An apology never filled the pews. Plenty of time to apologise once you have fixed the problem that caused the pain in the first place. Fix the church: make it the glorious city on a hill you always dreamed it would be. And then you can apologise for taking too long about it.
Step 2: STOP DEFENDING!
Great truth is to be discovered, not defended. If you have to make excuses, you have already lost. If your message was any good then people would make their own excuses. Clearly, what you are currently selling stinks! Your current message is no damn good! Wake up and smell the bull-s**t! Then take a long hard look at your church: what have you got that people might actually want?
Step 3: STOP LYING!
If you sell the truth it has to be true. Well, duh. We have to accept al truth even the stuff we don’t like. Now get the tissue box ready because this is gonna hurt. Your church is a bunch of lies, started by a cheating scumbag salesman, and now maintained by a bunch of elderly managers who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to make any changes. OK, that is the material we are working with. But now we have faced the truth we are ready for more truth: the situation, once you face the truth, is a lot better than it look! read on…
Step 4: SELL THE BENEFITS.
What does the Mormon corporation have that people might want? Basically three things.
(a) $300 billion or so (including all those buildings), including a $124 billion savings account. That savings account is invested in land and long term assets, so even the Covid recession is just a blip. It’s growing by seven percent per year. So it should double every ten years. In thirty years or so it should be a trillion dollars. See the bit about exponential growth, later on!
(b) The world’s biggest and most organised cult. Tight control, lots of buildings, lots of experience, local politicians in your pocket. No, the Catholics don’t count. Not enough tight control, not enough money per unit member. And the Scientologists are small fish, amateurs.
(c) A survival instinct that’s second to none. Your cult only has one doctrine: survival. All other doctrines change to support this. It’s a thing of beauty: ever wonder why the top dogs only take a hundred thousand or so in salary, plus a house or three: sure it’s a nice life and most of us can only dream of it, but it’s nothing compared to what smaller cult leaders take, and less than similar sized corporation heads take. That, plus a ton of anecdotal evidence, shows that the leaders really do believe in the one doctrine: the church’s survival is all that matters.
This may not seem like much of a selling proposition.
Step 5: LEARN FROM THE PAST.
What really fires people up? The end of the world. It worked for Jesus. It worked for Joe Smith. It worked for every cult that ever had explosive growth. It works for “scientism”, today’s most powerful cult.
Scientism is the faith that science will solve our problems (rather than just create new ones). Just ask Stephen Pinker, publisher of the “everything is getting better” book called “the Better Angels of our Nature”. That is pure scientism. Or ask Ray Kurzweil (the senior Google guy who predicts a technological singularity based on computers doubling and redoubling their power). And if you think Pinker’s views are science (not scientism) then read Nassim Taleb’s reply to Pinker’s statistical methods. Taleb is a statistics expert: he focuses on what we can and cannot predict, and he shows that Pinker’s statistics do not say what he thinks they say. Anyway, we can learn from the past and the message is clear: whether it’s Christianity or scientism, if you want growth you have to talk “end of the world!”
Step 6: LEARN HOW EXPONENTIALS WORK
You are probably thinking, “but the world is not ending!” Really? Stop right there. Go back to the seven percent growth thing. how that makes money double every ten years. How the church will have a trillion dollars. Learn some math!!! This is the world we now live, in, thanks to technology! Successful stuff now doubles in power every ten years! And humans are racing to find ways for computers to replace everything that humans do, including thinking.
But “computers are still dumb” you say? Historically, machines have doubled in power every two years. So one year in the future they will have the equivalent of a human IQ of 50. That is special needs territory, unable to do basic stuff. We will all feel complacent: after all these years computers still cannot replace humans! Then two years later they will have an IQ of 100: the human average. OK, we had better get used to living along side them, right? Wrong. because two years later they will have an IQ of 200, smarter than all but the most extreme human outlier, and, hey, will all be that smart. And two years later, IQ of 400. Humans are history. Any trace of biology will make us a liability. Silicon will be better at everything.
Now obviously this is a great simplification. Computers do not need to think like us. We do not need to think like cows in order to enslave and eat cows. And maybe global warming will get us before the machines do. The point is that we live in a world of exponential change. That means we live in the end times, whether we go to church or not. The smart church is the one that realises this.
Step 7: GET POWERFUL FRIENDS
This is where the Mormon church comes in. Because in the near future only trillion dollar corporations will have the power to survive. And Mormonism incorporated is the only cult in that fight. But why not just join Amazon instead? Because the Mormon church is different from all other corporations. The leaders actually care about the members. This is hard to see when you look at the recent pandemic. “Did not help during Covid”, you say? No, because Covid would only have killed three percent of the church. These old Mormon leaders think bigger than that. They are in their nineties. They remember WWII and then the Cuban missile crisis. They grew up on apocalyptic prophecy. They are building their trillion dollar war chest because they expect the world to get really bad: the collapse of the United States, fifty percent casualties, atom bombs on all major cities, that kind of thing. Some corporations will survive, and Mormonism Inc. aims to be one of them. You better make sure they are on your side, because they are the only corporation that might, just might be persuaded to care about its human members.
Why would Mormon leaders care about you? Because far back in its history, the “church” used to be the members. it used to be not about the bottom line profit, at least not in public. These old guy leaders must be made to remember that. They must be made to remember when they were children and were taught to be nice to each other and look after fellow church members. They need to remember that inspiring belief they once had, that childhood happiness that is buried so deep. It’s a long shot, but what choice do you have? persuade Amazon to not care about its bottom line? persuade Apple to have a bishop’s storehouse for the poor? Hope you have a Chinese passport and that China stops its surveillance and mass control programs? Good luck with that. The leaders of Amazon and Apple and China are relatively young and focused on results. but the old guys who run the Mormon church are not machines. They are old people with idealistic memories of childhood. Their humanity is buried deep, but at least it was there once. It’s the Mormon behemoth or nothing.
But how do you reach those old guys?
Step 8: LEAD, BOY, LEAD!
Mormon leaders are blind guides. They are sheep that have no shepherds. They rely on you, the people with ideas, to lead them. How do you lead your leaders? You give them want they want: growth and praise. They will then do that every business does: they promote the guy who gets results and also praises them. Keep getting promoted and your people get to the top. Meanwhile, on the long road to the top, your ideas influence them. How does that work?
Write a killer book. Remember how Joseph Fielding Smith got his stupid “young earth” ideas from the book “The Genesis Flood”? (He did: look it up.) These people don’t read many books, so you just have to write the killer book that gets into their hands through a friendly underling.
Work in the Church Office Building. We all know that “President Newsroom” calls the shots, and every change is preceded by a survey. Get friendly with the people who make those surveys.
Build a grass roots movement. So that even though the leaders are the last to hear, everybody else is on board first. And keep remembering the two things they want: growth and praise. Make them think this is their idea, this is the result of their previous inspired move. Don’t be an anti! Don’t be a fundie!!
Learn politics. Learn what works. Like, how to make friends and build alliances. And this is important for Mormonism – why you must sometimes lose a battle to win the war. The church is in such a bad place that it is relying on bigotry to give it a message. This means that if you are gay or different in some way you probably need to get out of the church for a couple of decades for your mental health. That battle is not worth fighting. But if you are an apologist who is set on staying, then learn the skills of the trade. Learn how to build alliances for the long term. Learn how to steer this ship back to its right course. And then when it finally has a message worth hearing then it won’t need the bigotry. It can welcome back the gay or trans member, it can change the temples into teaching centres for useful information, it will have no time for being small minded, it will have a big message instead, one that needs everybody!
All this means you have to get out of your safe basement. Stop trying to deny the parrot is dead. Get some courage. Get some of this thing called “the spirit” – not the fake plastic version they sell in the church, the real living one, the brightly coloured living parrot with gigantic beautiful plumage and big claws and a sharp brain and a big mouth, the one who flies around and nobody can take their eyes off him!
Remember Paul H Dunn? he told a lot of lies, but one thing he said was one hundred percent true, and he proved it. He said it was advice from his father. His father sat him down and said, “If you lead, people will follow. Lead, boy, lead!”
And how do you lead them? What do you say? What is the message? Let’s get back to the scriptures!
Step 9: MAKE SCRIPTURE WORK!
It turns out that Mormon scripture is perfectly suited to the real end of the world that I just described. Look at the date when the church was restored: 1830. The same year that the first railway opened linking two cities (Liverpool to Manchester, using George Stevenson’s Rocket). This was the real start of the industrial revolution: forget your spinning jennies, the railway was what changed the world. It sped up time. It networked the planet. The modern exponential explosion starts with that date. Coincidence? A ton of other inventions happened that year, in computing (Charles Babbage), electricity (Michael Faraday), the true age of the Earth (Charles Lyell, the inspiration for Darwin), and everything else. This is the start of the end of the world. And this is why:
This is the age of information: the age of logic, the age of the logos. The most educated Christians, the gnostics, said that Jesus was the logos: he was all about knowledge. The year 1830 marks the return of the logos. It is easy to time this to the seven thousand year prophecy in the book of Enoch: without too much effort we can identify the eating of the tree of knowledge with the birth of writing circa 4170 BC (depends on some trivial assumptions about a couple of key scriptures) . Add six thousand years and you get 1830, the start of the thousand year millennium where the logos rules. Near the start, i.e. NOW, we get the final battle with the forces of evil. It is easy to make the numbers fit. Far from previous apocalyptic prophecies being wrong, they all turned out to be right. A good apologist need a good prophecy being fulfilled, and this is ours. There is even a quote where Brigham Young said that we are even now living in the Millennium. I don’t put much store in what bad old Brigham said, but it might be useful if we need to get the old time Mormons on board.
Step 10: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!
In summary, everything you need to make the church work is in the name of the church: It’s the church of the Latter-day Saints. That is all the message you need. But the Mormon leaders made the “latter-day saint” part of the name smaller. And growth slowed. So they made it even smaller. And growth slowed even more. Which shows that the leaders are morons. Why? because if you want the church to grow you need converts. That is, people who either do not care about Jesus Christ, or already have that part of the product and need to know why you are different. The leaders are trying to mainstream because they are idiots: they have no idea why churches grow, so they are trying to be friends with other churches so you can lobby for pro-Christian laws to delay their inevitable demise.
In short, the leaders have a lot of money. But they want converts. Give them converts and you get influence in return. it’s not rocket science.
And that is the essay. The church is a dead parrot. But you can resurrect it. Stop wasting time with Tapirs and defending sex predators. Look around you: exponential growth proves that the world is about to end. But you have a friend who might have a trillion dollars to spend. Maybe that’s where you should focus your attention.
It’s just an idea. I have been wrong before.
“And I saw another parrot fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come!!” (Revelation 14:6-7, New Parrot Translation)