Sunday I attended the second-nearest building from my current resident presumably owned by the corporation of the president of the LDS Church, and there found at the appointed time a group of adult male neighbors. One of them stood before the others and holding a text proceeded to read from it. Apparently he was orienting our voices to a “topic,” the abstract noun “character,” just as he was orienting our eyes and minds to his presence, we being obliged to sit facing him by virtue of the placement of temporary seating designed to be stored by folding. Despite this near total construction of the space toward the “front” of the room, other men insisted on directing their gaze toward their phones.
We were supposed to know that all our words were to be oriented in some manner to this noun. In order to bring about “discussion” or “participation” from other adult males in the room, for the appointed time we were to sit there until the appointed time we were to remove ourselves and “go home,” he asked questions. Here are some of his questions:
Why should we have character?
Why is character good?
How can we get the kind of character we want?
After reading a Psalm, he asked, “Why did David write that?” Now, let me think . . . What sort of knowledge am I trying to elicit when I ask a room of adult men convened in a space for half an hour a week, by virtue of residing near one another, about the supposed motivations of a probably mythical cultural hero ostensibly living thirty centuries ago in another hemisphere, which would’ve got him to produce a brief stretch of poetry in a dead language translated four centuries ago into English? Um, yes, you, systems administrator at generic computer company, what do you think were the causes that brought about the presence of this Psalm in the book you are holding, said to be authored by a King David, an imaginary character with 700 wives who killed a giant with a wrist sling three thousand years ago? Oh, really . . . fascinating. That’s so true.
What sort of knowledge am I eliciting?
Whether a man will subordinate his voice to an explicitly arbitrarily imposed “topic” which has no definition or tangible referent, and do so with the full knowledge that his words literally have no effect on the subsequent interactions with other men. Will you do this?
Let’s talk about Grumpastimanilo. How you feel about it? Is it good, bad, or should we even be talking about it? Why do you think Heavenly Father expects us to want to desire to show more Grumpastimanilo to our fellow men? Or not, because maybe it is bad? In fact, I don’t really know anything about this word, but I thought maybe you did, and given that our salvation depends on defining and discussing it, I thought you might have an answer. No? Hmmm, is there a cat picture on my phone I can look at now?
The strange thing is that the question and the “topic” are totally uncorrelated, statistically, with the responses of the man standing in the front of the room, or to other men seated in the room. It literally does not matter what one person says with respect to what another will say.
So, what is EQ really about? I asked them. Silence. That is not the abstract noun we are to discuss today. It is too particular, real, tangible, and right before our faces, and we all know what it’s about, right?
It seems to me that “church” blends speech genres from therapy and focus groups, but that neither a trained therapist seeking a diagnosis and a treatment strategy is involved here, nor a product manager eliciting folk notions about a potential product’s likelihood to generate a profit for shareholders. So, we’ve taken speech genres designed with one party attempting to elicit statements from another, for various purposes (healing or profit). Why? These are the most commonly generated (in mass media and in American interactions) where the following features hold:
1. One person given rights to ask, answer, and define, with others not quite so well endowed, but they obliged to speak nonetheless. “Instructors” and “students” can then exist as roles, but it is clear that these are scarcely more than empty titles, as almost zero instruction is ever witnessed in church or focus groups, nor even expected by those said to be students. Since we have no “healing” to perform nor product to sell, there is no focus. In order to get around the absence of curriculum that creates knowledge in spaces otherwise called “school,” we call the space “participatory” and expect students to generate their own curriculum. That is like asking patients to produce their own diagnosis and therapy, or focus groupers to bring their own products for us to talk about. Yet is seems perfectly normal to these adult men that they are expected to “share” their understanding.
2. Interaction with near total strangers, where social etiquette would leave us not speaking to one another, but where we are obliged to speak. Thus, a “topic” is presented for us to speak about, orient our biographies around (“I had an experience the other day which showed the meaning of the word _____”), and generally make the space less confrontational with. It goes on in therapy sessions (at least in transcripts I’ve read), and in focus groups.
3. Appointed time for interaction to begin and conclude.
There’s probably more features shared by focus groups, therapy, and church interaction, but I’ll leave it at these three.
Now, what is the point? Notice that therapy is structured as if for specific purposes involving creating trust, sincerity, and other speech-shaping obligations/expectations (that you’ll tell the truth, even if you don’t know it consciously). In focus groups sincerity is essential, as my assessment of the fragrance of your new line of soaps must be an honest statement of how I really feel about it. I will bribe you with soaps to get you to reveal your inner soul’s reaction to the soaps, and to say that you’d like more of them, and are willing to exchange cash money for more soap. But what about Elder’s Quorum? What is the purpose? Creating faith? Changing lives? Those are not purposes, but slogans. Notice that the verbs end in -ING, and that’s all you need to know. There is no “end” or “beginning” and thus one can never be sure such purposes have been achieved, or have not. It’s a process, and you cannot structure a space toward a process, but rather what goes in that space is the process the group is convened for. For example, a concert, or a sporting event, or a college classroom. They attend for what is being done during attendance, and not for some other thing that comes about after they attend.
Should I tell you I have a class that teaches Vastographology, and explain that what you learn in the class is designed to get you to believe in Vastographology, but not actually to teach you it, nor what you see is Vastographology at work, you’d be right in calling me full of shit.
But…we are told in these spaces that these spaces are governed by master minds receiving daily revelation from an Omniscient Being. If so, we can assume that it’s design reveals its purposes, much as a clock reveals a mind designing a thing to keep time.
If we tried to guess what the purpose of EQ is from how it is designed, I would be forced to conclude the following:
1. To sell an abstract noun to us.
2. To heal us from an unpleasant experience with the abstract noun.
3. To get adult men to submit their voices to totally arbitrary fabrications for an arbitrarily imposed time, among other men having no relationship to you other than one of residence.
Now, let’s say we start a religion, and point 3 we think is essential to our religion. What sort of religion is that? What are we actually teaching these adult men? Submission to something, anything, rather than development of their own souls, I’d say.
Thus, the inevitable invocation of “obedience” that is brought up in these spaces. We are told obedience is the first step in progression of your soul. I will call this Packer’s Law: That any “church” conversation among strangers oriented briefly in time to use a certain abstract noun to characterize their biographies, bodies, and beliefs will tend toward the word “obedience” and to its substitution for the original abstract noun presented by the person in the “front” of the room.
It’s like the Nazis being brought up in any philosophy class on campus. It will happen, and is called Godwin’s Law.
Ironically, both of these laws essentially led voices to the same point:
What must Be in these laws is this:
The coordination of all consciousness in relationships of reflection, so that Z says what Y says who says what X says and so on. It presumes an awareness of truth and of the nature of reality which the end/starting point, Voice A, really does not possess. We know it does not. Hitler did not, that is clear even on his own playing field of might making right. He lost. It is true in the field of religion, where is cannot seriously be maintained that President Thomas S. Monson knows, sees and understands all that you need to know, see, and understand for the next six months. Neither does anyone speaking at General Conference. You don’t believe this. How can I prove this?
I will pay anyone a thousand dollars ($1000US) if they complete (and evidence completion by some recordkeeping) the following tasks for six months:
1. Use only the words spoken at General Conference in every conversation you have. You cannot break up the texts lower than sentence level.
2. Do only those things described by speakers at General Conference. Should you find it necessary to use the bathroom, you will have to use GenCon terminology to make this request, for example. When you go to the doctor for a hernia check-up, you must use GenCon terms. Have fun . . . But you must describe “having fun” using Gen Con words.
3. At work you are only allowed to do work that can be described to your superiors using Gen Con sentences.
4. Should you find yourself wondering about what is on television tonight, or whether the Johnson’s are home, or if you should stay late at work, or whether your child’s birthday party really requires three clowns, you must refer to Gen Con, and then describe how your knowledge about clowns, television, the Johnson’s, and so on really have been given you by revelation from the prophet.
5. You can deal in generalities, indeed you must, as Gen Con terms only treat in generalities, vagueness, and abstraction. This means you either must find a way to explain to your spouse why you forgot your anniversary because some generality was at play, or you must become a general person, not an actual person with a living body implicated in actual relationships in time and space with actual persons. Good luck with either of these.
6. You cannot win this bet, as it is not part of Gen Conference, nor has been revealed by the prophet. You can try, but should you accept my thousand dollars, you have violated your contract and thus are stuck in a paradox which may destroy your consciousness if you think about too long.
7. Should you be institutionalized (and rightly so), I cannot be held responsible, but you’d make a good example to bring up next Gen Conference.
What is EQ for? For teaching submission to power, and what is more full of power than arbitrary law beyond investigation or criticism? This power must be either all right or all wrong, it seems. You are betting one way or the other, and yet no one seriously takes up this sort of “Mormonism” for longer than a conversation. And you call that obedience? To what? To the rule to be obedient? And what does that rule say? You should be obedient to the rule of obedience? Or that you should say the word and mention the rule? I think you get the point.
So, I have this car I’d like to sell. Here’s the specs:
* It runs for about a week, and then you will need to take it to the shop, and have its battery charged, its engine tuned, etc. Sometimes major repairs will need to be done, because sometimes the “world” changes its standards, and we will have to retrofit the car.
* It will only drive you places I say you get to go.
* Mostly those places are taken from my map.
* I reserve the right to rename the places on my map. For example, you want to drive to Las Vegas. I will rename my neighbor’s home as “Las Vegas, symbolically” and thus you can, then, drive to your desired destination.
* You can only use the keys if I turn over the engine for you. Unauthorized use of the car keys will result in repossession of the car.
* My contract is non-negotiable, and comes from one of three “higher” sources: maybe the auto dealer; maybe the auto maker; maybe the repair shop. But be assured I have no control over the terms of the contract, although I represent these entities.
* Your use of the car is conditional upon my assessment of your need to use the car.
* Your use of the car is conditional upon my assessment of your ability and “worthiness” to drive it around, to destinations agreed upon as above.
* Others may have the same car, but under no conditions can you let them drive it around. We can’t let everyone drive cars.
* You cannot resell the car. Ever. You can only have it repossessed by me.
* Your payment plan is structured according to your income, and at no point do you “own” the car; you are only renting the right to be Party B in the contract. In fact, there is no amount you can pay me for the car, as I don’t really “need” the money, but I will accept it on your behalf, so you don’t feel like a scoundrel for driving around the car (according to the above terms) for nothing.
* Also, the car is the most valuable car in the world, and runs the most powerful engine, and can fly too. In the future, I mean.
* Finally, in order to maintain the “value” of the car, and its powerful engine, I demand you talk about the car constantly, and find others not allowed to drive it around, who also will talk about how much they want the car. This is called Prophet Sharing.
* All terms are subject to change, without prior notice, without violating the terms of the contract. You reserve the right to agree with me, unless I revoke that right, which will make you very sad.
Plan of Action: Submitted to the Brethren by Special Committee
(I was asked by consultants at the COB to release this to select parties for preliminary review)
What with dresses talkin’ to God at General Conference, we are sure that next they’ll all want to not merely “hold” the priesthood, but actually “have” and “exercise” it, too!!! This cannot happen, not at this point in the Holy Priesthood, for there is not enough to go around.
Let us explain.
The reason “men of (recent) African descent, or descended from populations that have not interbreed with populations living in northern climates where UV radiation is relatively less” were prevented from holding the priesthood, as Our Leaders have stated many times, is that there was not enough Priesthood for everyone to hold. If we just passed it out, it would diminish the value, and the quality of the power would surely decrease. We would only have like, half the priesthood held by Joseph Smith, if we just handed it out willy nilly, and not tied to priesthood inflation ratio. That ratio is directly related to the “good works” index, and also tied to quarterly assessments of the co-efficient of the Pain of Atonement; the less pain felt by Jesus (vicariously) on the Cross and in Gethsemane (redundancies are introduced for accounting purposes) translates into a bump, typically of one or two percentage points per Pain Unit, in the Good Works Index. That Index is also tied to the Windows of Heaven, and when it opens wider, there are sure to be speculators in the Good Works Futures Market who aim to benefit from the redistribution of blessings through the Windows, hoping to hold blessings, but not yet partake of them.
Should everyone partake of blessings all at the same time, it would surely diminish or “inflate” the blessings (“I got a raise” would reduce to, say, “I got a new calling”), and we’d be relatively less happy as a result. Thus, our Wise Leaders have instituted a Providential Blessing Plan, whereby we Store Our Blessings TM for up to three months, before fully enjoying them (“Cashing out”). How does this relate the Priesthood?
Before the Windows of Heaven were fully opened by Lorenzo Snow and then the shower of blessings rained upon us, leaving us literally inflated with blessings, Priesthood had become rather scarce in the territory. However, up to half of the blessings were stored, and converted into proto-priesthood powers, and sent to processing factories. These factories were converted into blessing-to-priesthood manufacturing centers after the price of sugar plummeted as a result of removing importation controls after World War I. With all the sugarbeet factories sitting idle, President Grant was inspired to bundle up our excess blessings, and to pour them by the truckload into the centifuges once used for processing beet sugar into crystal (and cold hard cash!). Fundamentalists attempted to enter the market of priesthood, but the barriers to entry were increased, so that they ended up with inferior priesthood, that was sufficient for them only to have one guy be really rich, while everyone else was poor, and most of the women were pretty homely. The Lord has cursed them.
The number of priesthood units began to overstrip the natural rate of increase in Mormonism, and so other markets in the 1950s were sought for distributing the blessening of the priesthood power. Naturally, we followed American corporations into “third world” markets, looking for consumers of priesthood. We found them, but were not quite sure what the predicted conversion rates were for African Americans after the Civil Rights disasters (when our Human Rights were deteriorated by being passed out to too many “people”), we had to wait before Heaven had worked out the numbers, and agreed that it was unlikely that all of Africa would convert to the Gospel TM, and so we could begin passing out our excess priesthood to “Hispanics” and the like.
At this point, there is a natural equilibrium between the Good Works, the ROI in Blessings funnelled through the Windows of Heaven (not every priesthood leader, however, has a seat at the “window” and so is forced to get their wards’ blessings with a moderate rate increase, provided through the wise distribution from Regional Representatives), and the manufacture of Priesthood Units (PUs, we call them at the Church).
Now, with the increase of conversion in Africa, however, we have been forced to reduce some feature of priesthood, lest we run out before all the White and Delightsome of Israel have theirs. Some priesthood units have been set aside for this favored market segment, but lately the Church has been dipping into the “trust fund” for the White Priesthood. Even risking a deficit.
So, there has been an initiative among some of the more “modern” Brethren, to find a solution to the dearth: we can push for more Good Works (not likely, as we at the Church are already maxxed out on Good Works as it is, and no one else is as righteous or willing); Hope for advance credit through the Window of Heaven, but as this would diminish the rating of Heaven, and put them into deficit, it would have the potential of ramping up the Pain of Atonement, and would then squeeze the Son of God right out of existence. Thus, the only option is to dilute the priesthood (as we cannot consider “raising the bar” among Whites to the level that they would not all get priesthood).
Priesthood Dilution Program
The PDP is an initiative started by Ensign Peak Advisors, where monies are converted into Good Work Credits (with Heaven), and so they have unique expertise and understanding of the complexity of the market in priesthood. The expected conversion rates of Africans, Asians, and even, maybe, Lamanites (at last!) have been figured to within a 3% reliability over the next generation. Should we exceed our expectations, the “bar” will be set slightly higher among the salesmen, and thus the quality of the converts will increase, and their Good Works contribution will be more on par with that made by Whites. As a result, either the Africans will receive a diluted Priesthood portion (called an AP, or Ape, at the CoB), or should fewer converts than we expect come into the Church, they will recieve a minimally discounted priesthood (MDPU, “mudpoos”), preparatory to their receiving (in the next market cycle) a full priesthood convertable into Good Works, Wives, Children, Powers, Dominions, and many other things in the Lord’s Storehouse.
So, what is the problem?
Well, we’ve not taken into consideration that “Women” (we prefer the less sexist ”Sisters,” at the COB) might actually be capable of using priesthood powers effectively, nor what dangers that might entail with respect to their natural child-bearing powers. It might be that too much priesthood will turn them all into spiritual males–having more robust spiritual skeletal structure, deeper voices, even spiritual penises–and as a result, sexual reproduction would only produce physical offspring, and would mean spiritual homosexuality. The eternal plan of happiness cannot comprehend temporal blessings and spiritual cursings, and this would surely confound the careful economy of Heaven described above. It is one sideeffect, church scholars of Religion and Spiritual Physiology at BYU have pointed out to the Brethren, but at this point remains under review and experimentation.
Another possibility, which the best minds are at work on as we speak, is whether we could fashion Priesthood-for-Females at our current operations, or whether some sort of retrofitting of the factories would need to be undertaken, in order to make the priesthood less dangerous, and more abundantely available to our sisters. It is expected this brand of priesthood would be uniquely tailored to this market, and so would not impose competition for priesthood among cross sections of the various male markets. We hope to prevent cross-priesthood intercourse, or the “Pink Market” which would have the potential to totally frick-up the Order of Heaven.
The accepted course of action among most who know such things at the COB is to reduce the APE distribution, and to convert these into Sister Priesthood Units, (Spews), marked with a barcode for limited use in certain markets, as we test this program out.
The limited use would be restricted to calling other SPUs to SPU callings; blessing SPUs for purposes of comfort only (Healings can possibly be introduced in the phase three of the distribution; exorcisms are not currently available, as demons refuse to recognize voices speaking in frequencies higher than non-homosexual-human-males); and possibly passing around napkins during the sacrament. We believe letting them hold open doors would invert the natural order of creation, which God has ordained that Men should hold doors for Women, as in Eden; also, that to give them desks and offices would make the men feel like inferior leaders, and possibly make them impotent. At no time should women be given conservative suits, as the power in them would be too great for their naturally weaker constitutions to bear. Ties must never be worn by women, as it might accentuate their mammary glands, although pants look nice on some of them. Letting them talk to God in public, on behalf of congregations, should be limited to no more than twice per month, unless the congregation is a gathering of “all saints around the globe,” in which case only specially trained (“Gorilla Skirts” we call them!) of diminished femininity can be safely allowed to exercise this privilege. It is suspected that such women are actually spiritual males in female bodies, but as the chromosomal spiritual Y remains as yet undiscovered, this suspicion must be confirmed by the Brethren before being booked as “true” in the Ontology Accounts.
This is the opinion of the Brethren’s Special Consultants on “the Skirt Problem”. We are still working on the plan of action for what happens should too much priesthood be released among the skirts, and eveyone turns spiritual male, and we all end up spiritually gay.
A friend has reposted the audio files from last year’s Phoenix presentation on the history of the Book of Mormon. This is a very summary version of what I’m writing currently, but more or less follows the books as an outline.
Don’t know how long the files will be up, so if you’d like, download and pass around.
Amazing Opportunity For The Right Person
Are you between the ages of 3 months and 90? Do you want something more than a job, a career to be proud of, offering personal growth inside a culture of excellence, promising rapid advancement through all levels of hell, purgatory, and heaven? Have you not molested anyone under the age of 18 in the past ten years? Do you have a start-up religion, or inherited one from a god, and have tired of the everyday operations, administering to poor and afflicted, needy and other over-served populations? Are looking to grow that religion into an empire?
If you answered YES! to these questions, then the Holy Roman Catholic See has an opportunity for the right candidate to become the Holy Father and Vicar of Christ, leading a tradition of integrity and innovation into the increasingly global environment, building teams inside a culture of unity and collaboration, at the bleeding edge of a company posing strategic questions aimed at achieving steady growth rates in a market estimated at over eight billion souls.
What are we looking for in the right candidate?
A Self-starter. Seeks innovative answers to old questions. Embraces paradigm shifting out-of-the-box solutions. Preferable taken “orders” or able to give them. Has no criminal history of complicity with National Socialism or Communist sympathizers. Not eager to start the fires of Inquisition. Old looking. Having a penis (preferably non-functioning). Able to stand for up to one hour, lifting 10 – 18 pounds regularly, over a four hour shift. Able to sit in a car like a lap dog for long periods of time without a break. Neck strength able to bear hats weighing in excess of 20 pounds. A vessel for the triune Creator of the Universe. No educational history of theses on the following topics: Marxism; social justice; Capitalism; Feminism; Homosexuality; Bestiality; (for a full list please inquire); In full control of bodily functions for at least one hour every day; vulnerable looking enough to avoid personal attacks regarding the Church’s stance on any subject whatsoever. Spanish language skills are preferred, but not required. Latin language speakers will be given some preferance. Adherence to drug and dress policy (no “beards,” if you know what we mean). We encourage applications from persons of a little color (“Mediterrean” being preferred, something sort of “ethnic” but not “scary ethnic”), and from traditionally non- and under-reprepresented minority populations (such as, but not exhausting, Mormons, Jews, Baptists, Republicans, Guns-Rights Lobbyists, defense contractors, Colonial Administrators, Adventurers, Conquistadores, Carnival Ride Operators, Nurses (male), spies, and Bankers).
Candidate Screening closes March 1, 2013.
Please submit a CV with relevant publications, preaching evaluations, criminal background check (previous checks used for coaching youth sports are acceptable) and a video recording of a performance of your interpretation of the “Lord’s Supper” to:
57 South Temple,
Salt Lake City, UT
I will probably not be posting very often, as I’m working on a few books describing and reconstructing the cultural history of the Book of Mormon.
From time to time I’ll probably post excerpts of chapters.
The next time your ward’s Primary children will be compelled to say things that children should not be repeating in public, after having them whispered in their ears, you’ll be prepared:
PRIMARY AUDIO CENSORS ($35.89)
It is cheaper and more legal than getting stoned before church,
and not as bad as driving a railroad spike through your ears.