Episode 249: The Time Commitment Required To Be A Good Mormon

27 comments on “Episode 249: The Time Commitment Required To Be A Good Mormon”

  1. icebreaker Reply

    There is that talk that everyone LOVES about “good better best” – I think originally made popular by an Oaks talk in 2007, but repeated a lot since then. The principle of this talk is solid, which is that you want to fill your lives up with the most meaningful and “best” experiences. But what they mean is – “Don’t do anything else with your life so that you are available to move chairs around for us at a moments notice”.

    There have been talks about simplifying your life that go hand in hand with this type of mentality. The rhetoric makes me feel guilty sometimes about letting my kids play little league or take dance lessons because we are too “busy” and we are not free to be arbitrarily summoned by the church. Oh they don’t want you to simplify your life so that it will be simplified – they want you to eradicate non-church activities so they can busy up your life with church activities – they can’t do that as well if your life is already busy.

    As an example with the vacation days as mentioned – the church would rather you not go on a weeks vacation with your WHOLE family to visit your other extended family that live far away – because they want you to spend a week at the scout camp with other people’s kids. If you can do both – GREAT – if you can’t – well this is where people get really hurt. We sacrifice that family trip because we feel the church is true and we are called of God to go to scout camp. That hurts a lot later when you go back through your life and count up all the things you sacrificed.

    If there turns out to be a God and he has any concept of justice and love – for sure these faithful mormon people will go to heaven.

    (NOTE : having kids in piano lessons is a “best” though as long as they learn to play the hymns)

  2. Jenn Reply

    It is true that enrichment nights got renamed to simply note having a name. In 2006, the first presidency still called it “Home, Family and Personal Enrichment meetings”, but in 2009 Sister Beck threw that out the window:

    “All of our meetings and activities are meetings of Relief Society sisters. For the past number of years, we have called additional Relief Society meetings home, family, and personal enrichment meetings. In response to concerns about the complexity of that title and the different interpretations about the purpose of those meetings, a decision has been made that the name “home, family, and personal enrichment” will be discontinued effective now. In counsel with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was determined that rather than give these additional Relief Society meetings a new title, all such meetings and activities will now be referred to simply as Relief Society meetings. Individual Relief Society meetings that are held during the week can be called whatever they are: Relief Society service, classes, projects, conferences, or workshops.”


  3. Jenn Reply

    I’ll also throw out there- I was in one of the only Release-time Seminary Programs outside of the mormon corridor- my school was about 10% mormon (if you counted inactives) in Washington state. They built a seminary building just outside of the HS parking lot (which was hilarious because that’s where all the smokers would go to be off school property), and to support their numbers, they wouldn’t LET you be in early-morning seminary beyond 9th grade. Which means you had to give up one period of school every day, in a state that doesn’t make any allowances for that. So all the Mormons would do summer school to make up for it, so Summer School was full of flunkees, and mormons.
    We had two fulltime teachers- one was a CES-masters-degree male (we called him a “used gospel salesman”) and one was a volunteer female whose kids were in school. Since she was female and had children living at home, the church COULD NOT pay her for her work, it’s against church policy. She was a fantastic teacher though.

  4. Matt Reply

    Great discussion and evaluation. The church does demand a lot of time from its members – that’s what brings the numbers up and the church runs just like a business.

    I think you guys kind of rounded up a bit on a lot of your estimates as far as a “typical” Mormon goes. It’s one thing to talk about what a “good Mormon” does in a textbook sense, but in practice, a good Mormon isn’t going to spend 65% of their time doing church-related stuff unless they’re a bishop or stake president or work closely with one.

  5. Jordan Reply

    Amazing episode. It was very depressing to list this all out at once, but it makes a lot of sense now. Thanks John & the other panelists.

  6. Derek Reply

    The point that John is making around 15:30 is the premise of a book by Leon Festinger: “When Prophecy Fails.” Great book, highly recommend it.

  7. Utahhiker801 Reply

    In the podcast, you discuss liability during service projects. This is a bigger problem than you may realize. Because of my profession, I’m aware of an instance where a High Priest Group was assigned to help cut down trees at a Stake Camp (I’m assuming these were dead trees, but anyway).

    One of the volunteers was cutting down a tree which fell onto a road where someone else involved with the project just happened to be walking. The tree hit the guy, very seriously injuring him.

    The injured man pursued a claim against all of the individuals involved, including the man who cut the tree down, the bishop, the high councilman who was over the project and the stake president. The attorney for the church defended all of the individuals involved with this except for the man who was cutting down the tree. This same attorney directed the tree-cutter to submit the loss to his homeowners insurance so it could pay his $300,000 liability limit.

    When the attorney was asked how the church determined which participants they were going to defend, the attorney responded was that it was decided on a “case-by-case basis.” So in this situation, the individuals who had responsibility to make sure that people were doing what should be done, that others were warned of falling trees, and were actually directing people to cut down trees, all of these “leaders” are being provided defense and indemnity by the church; but the person who is being obedient and showing up at the service project, he should just submit this to his homeowners insurance to just pay out. It should be noted that none of the other parties to this case were instructed to report the accident into their insurance company.

    I don’t think his insurance has paid anything, most likely because the insurance representative is LDS and understands the hierarchical structure of the church, and that the tree-cutter was just following instructions by leaders. The church has paid to settle the claims against the “leaders” but they did not include the tree-cutter on the release, so that issue continues.

    The short lesson learned: never put yourself at risk for a church service project because in all likelihood there could be no one there to back you up.

  8. david Reply

    Splits with the missionaries
    Helping people move
    Giving people rides to/from church and other activities
    Sitting through Missionary Lessons as member-missionary
    Attending Baptisms
    The occasional “special” broadcast
    EFY week
    Seminary Night
    Eagle Scout Award banquets
    Blood Drives
    Tithing Settlement
    Trips to see the Bishop about new callings
    Bishop youth firesides
    Taking the Sacrament to people who couldn’t make it to church
    Attending your Auxiliary Meetings (Christmas Dinner Committee, FHE Committee, Elders Quorum Committee, External Affairs Committee, Singing Committee, etc.. )
    PPI (Personal Priesthood Interviews)
    Regularly Temple Interviews
    12 step AARP meetings to overcome your masturbation addiction
    the list goes on and on and on….

  9. icebreaker Reply

    oh also just thinking about the news portion of this podcast and Ordain Women at conference – Elder Oaks’ talk in priesthood session was great in that he addressed this with a great talk about the priesthood – let me sum up what I’m betting some people heard.

    “Women you actually already have the priesthood so nothing will change – now go home and have some more babies why doncha”

  10. munchkin Reply

    Even though I’m no longer active, I’ve still got it ingrained in my head that if I’m not constantly doing something, I’m being lazy and I should feel guilty. I look at all of the hours that are mine to do with as I will, and then I’ll think, “I could be volunteering somewhere” or something similar. The activities may cease, but it doesn’t mean the guilt goes away.

  11. david Reply

    7 For, notwithstanding the great love which the Mormons preached about always doing stuff, and the great fake zeal manifested by these mormons in almost all their meetings, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious busyness, in order for a nerdy accountant to tabulate everybody as an “Active/Worthy Mormon”, as they were pleased to call it; let them make decisions freely about their pursuit of happiness in this short time on this earth;

    8 …Yet when a few of the Active Mormons began to have nervous breakdowns and stop their co-dependency to church busyness, some to hobbies and some to other religions, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priesthood hierarchy and the fake zealous Mormons were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priesthood hierarchy contending against bloggers/podcasters, and fake zealous mormons against honest human beings; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about why/why not Mormonism sucks so bad.

    8 During this time of a dying dishonest bureaucracy my mind was called up occasionally to serious reflection and giddy excitement; but though my feelings were deeply compassionate and often poignant for those still stuck in the abusive busyness, I kept myself aloof from violently disabusing these unhealthy mormon beliefs in church, though I listened to various mormon podcasts and made snide comments as often as occasion would permit.

    9 In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Mormon Expression sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different trains of thought, that it was impossible for a person as jaded as I was, and so acquainted with the manipulation tactics of mormons, to come to any certain conclusion how engaged I should become…

    • icebreaker Reply

      this is a great first version of this – I suggest you revise it several times but change some important things about it

  12. david Reply

    @icebreaker Thank you for the icebreaker.

    I suggest you revise your comment (only once is needed) and include some of the important things needed for revision.

    • icebreaker Reply

      oh – i was just joking around – i like it a lot. These sound like the verses right before the account of the first vision – which has several versions. So I was trying to be funny about that – emphasis on trying 🙂

  13. JT Reply

    I’ve been following the science of unconscious cognition for several years now. It’s been “consciousness” raising. I’m now convinced – at least in some abstract sense – that most of my choices are deeply influenced and prefigured by introspectively inaccessible “modules” that strategically inform (and misinform) my conscious “press secretary” module. The latter is the one that so effortlessly spins socially self-serving truthy narratives to convince and impress others as much as itself.

    Somehow demoting my conscious self to an auxiliary role doesn’t bother me. Perhaps it’s because it seems to get along so well with my “hidden layers” now that they all abide the same naturalistic universe. But this multiplicity does make me wonder about the “true” reasons I embarked on my journey out of Mormonism and then theism.

    When I let my mind trip back to former Mormon moments I can almost catch fleeting emotions in the act of cutting away my faith. Could it be simple boredom? Was it feeling repulsed by overreaching TMI-filled testimonies? Was it that patronizing Bishop side-hug that? Maybe it was the broken zipper on that dorky triple combination leatherette “suitcase” I lugged around.

    I remember feeling very depressed after my third (and final) visit to the temple in 1986. But the dread that preceded that visit might be a false memory – as apparently many are. I can’t recall consciously fretting about the church sucking away my life-time, as John so aptly described. And yet my fretful decision to change careers entailed limiting my exposure to callings with plausible deniability.

    As it turned out, I went fully inactive before starting that new career with nary a single overt response from church leader or member. Perhaps they were all subliminal. Beneath my polite reticence I was sending the message: “Stay back. You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.” Evidently people communicate more information through body language and tone of voice than the words themselves. That too provides plausible deniability.

    Only years later did I get around to substantial Mormon-debunking research. At the time it seemed fueled by anger over being lied to after stumbling across Quinn’s books. But I now suspect that was driven more by shame over my own stupidity – for not letting a gold plates and racism enlighten me earlier.

    But that debunking was still productive. Feeding my conscious press secretary line upon ridiculous line made me feel better about where I ended up. Perhaps this is the same “real” reason LDS apologists do their research. Hey, but my press secretary insists that I have the better evidence, and I go wherever he goes.

  14. NCH Reply

    Just found this podcast, it is great. It is sad how much of my life I have given up to the Church, how many people I have put out of my life because of the Church, missed opportunities- the list goes on and on. Now that I know what is behind the curtain, I need to conduct myself in a different way, and put my efforts in things that really matter: my wife, my children, myself. Thanks for this great podcast!

    • Chris Wiren Reply

      I envy you – all the great episodes you have yet not listened to… Welcome to a larger world! 😉

  15. Duke of Earl Grey Reply

    Just a quick comment on the news items, from my own experience with the Ordain Women group during the demonstration. Most of the insulting remarks I heard from the crowd (“Get back to the kitchen!” “Grow your hair out long!”) were actually from the evangelical nutjobs that are always out on the sidewalks. The only (intended) insult I personally heard on Temple Square was from some guy, apparently a member, who kept saying mockingly, “Where’s your temple recommend? Where’s your temple recommend?”

  16. Bob Reply

    If money is time, then time is also obligated in the form of money donated. At least 10% of the time spent at work is time donated.

  17. Chris Wiren Reply

    Loved the episode!
    I did the math on how much time the church now have to invest to get one additional convert through the young missionaries…
    23,000 additional missionaries brought 1,800 additional converts, so 12,78 full-time missions per convert. In an Salt Lake Tribune article “Mormon missionary numbers keep rising as women close gap” I found the male to female (or boy to girl) missionary ratio of 57:36 (with retired couples, 7%, excluded). So of the 12.78 missionaries needed an average of (61.29%) 7.83 are male and (38.71%) 4.95 are female. Since each 7.83 male serves for 24 months and each female serves for 18 months, this gives a total of 23 years and one month invested full-time missionaries per converts. OVER 23 FRACKING YEARS!!!
    Conclusion: The organization acts desperate; the ship is sinking!
    Thanks to John, and the people on White Fields, for sending out the “lifeboats of sanity”. Donation is coming!

    • JT Reply

      OK, let’s continue the math and get to dollars per convert assuming a missionary might otherwise be working for minimum wage and donating it all to the Church.

      13 missions per additional convert
      1.75 years per mission (average male and female)
      310 proselytizing days per year (subtracting p-days from 365)
      8 proselytizing hours per day.
      8 dollars per hour (a little over minimum wage)

      That translates to $451,360 per additional convert.

  18. Lee Reply

    One pervasive force ubiquitous to Mormon’s time investment is the power of guilt. All the elements of the time sieve listed above preclude so many life enriching pursuits that to indulge in those activities is tantamount to stealing the Lord’s time. Time apart from church callings, responsibilities, scripture reading (heaven forbid playing a game of Trivial Pursuit or watching a football game) often carries a sense for the need to repent, or at least “catch up” with the squandered hours. Taken to the gospel ideal, no time should be spent independent of the church—ALL time should at least be somehow conjured to be in service of the Lord.

  19. Anthony Miceli Reply

    My family and I converted to the Church in June 2013. We love the activities and the involvement! It’s what we were searching for.

  20. Frank Reply

    To touch on the “surge” and not tracking. the church is probably implementing practices that we did on my mission in the SLC-South. During the week we had an activity every morning block, ie Monday was District Service or ZLC, Wed was a Zone Mtg, Thursday was our Zone Service project, and Friday was our District/Zone Mtg. After lunch we would track members for referrals, etc or only tract Apts.

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