Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Meeting an Obligation: Temple Receipt, 1926
 


Meeting an Obligation: Temple Receipt, 1926

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 20, 2011

Frequent temple attendance has received increasing emphasis in recent years. In 2009, Elder Richard G. Scott offered advice on ways “to gain more benefit from temple attendance.” His bullet list included eleven items (the best remembered of which, perhaps, is “Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord”). Ten of those items focused on the individual attending the temple and the benefits of temple worship to that patron; only one item (“Be mindful of the individual for whom you are performing the vicarious ordinance”) reminded patrons that there is a purpose to repeated temple visits that doesn’t put benefits to the patron foremost.

Benefit to the temple patron is not an entirely new idea, of course – John A. Widtsoe promised as much in October 1920, speaking to the Genealogical Society of Utah:

I believe that the busy person on the farm, in the shop, in the office, or in the household, who has his worries and troubles, can solve his problems better and more quickly in the house of the Lord than anywhere else. If he will leave his problems behind and do the temple work for himself and for the dead, he will confer a mighty blessing upon those who have gone before and quite as large a blessing will come to him; for at the most unexpected moments, in or out of the temple, will come to him, as a revelation, the solution of the problems that vex his life. That is the gift that comes to those who enter the temple properly, because it is a place where revelations may be expected.

Still, in the early decades of this dispensation, repeated temple attendance was a rarity. You went to the temple for your own ordinances, but you may have returned to the temple seldom, if ever. Thomas G. Alexander notes:

Prior to the 1920s regular temple attendance had generally not been expected. Indeed, Reed Smoot testified in 1905 that he had not been back to the temple to do endowment work since his marriage. President Heber J. Grant, who had been quite infrequent in his temple attendance before the 1920s, began to go regularly.

The greatest exception to that once-in-a-lifetime temple attendance pattern was those who became heavily involved in genealogical work, who took their duty to their ancestors as a heavy responsibility. Your dead were your responsibility, nobody else’s. You did the work yourself, or you arranged for your relatives to do it, or your friends might assist you at your request, but if you didn’t get involved, the work for your dead was not done.

Temple attendance also required a heavy commitment of time – no dashing home from the office or the beet field for an evening date at the temple with your spouse. Rather, an endowment was a full day affair, requiring as much as nine hours to accomplish. Who could or would contribute that much time to the unrelated dead?!

Yet there were people who, because of age or distance from a temple or because of widowhood and a lack of male family members to assist, or because they were so dedicated to redeeming their dead that they had identified hundreds of deceased relatives, could not do the actual temple work themselves. There were others who lived and died in the missions without hope of ever reaching a temple for their own ordinances.

There were also people, usually the elderly, who had the time and desire to do more temple work than their own genealogical research could supply.

All of these factors came together in a system that developed around the turn of the 20th century: A member with the time and desire but no identified dead of his own could assist another member who could not personally do the work he was responsible for. The one responsible for having the work done paid a small amount of money to the one who did the actual work. The one responsible could find his own proxy, but more often he asked the temple staff to find one for him. A small fee for each endowment (I’ve seen reports of 50c for women and 75c for men – reflecting the assumption in the commercial sphere that men’s work was always more valuable than women’s work – but do not know whether those amounts fluctuated over time) was paid by the responsible member to the proxy, to compensate him for the time he was giving to help the member meet his responsibilities.

This system not only helped members complete the work for their own dead, it also assisted elderly or infirm members with a small income for providing a service to others. Members who had no work of their own to do, but who were moved to assist the work in general, could contribute funds to a general account without designating that it be used for such-and-such a family’s work. This became especially important after April 1926, when the First Presidency asked mission presidents to send in the names of faithful members who had died without the opportunity to go to the temple in life; the church then provided proxies to do the ordinances for those deceased members, paying the proxies out of general donations to the program.

So far as I am aware, this system was used only in the Salt Lake Temple and in St. George after 1926 (St. George was specifically designated as the temple for the deceased missionfield member work).

Readers may remember when, a few weeks ago, Keepa’ninny Jim mentioned that he had a 1926 receipt from the Salt Lake Temple for funds donated to make these small payments to temple proxies. Several of us expressed interest in seeing the receipt, and Jim has generously sent me scans, front and back.

The receipt, dated 17 November 1926 and in the amount of $4,798.25, is made out to “Annie D. Watson estate.” That seems like an incredible amount for a donation – but Annie Davis Watson (1844-1926), widow of businessman Joseph M. Watson, a convert from England, without children but with a great love of temple work (she performed, or caused to be performed, 15,000 ordinances according to report), apparently made the church a chief beneficiary of her estate.

Thank you, Jim, for sharing this illustration of a piece of Mormon history and, incidentally, a tribute to a faithful Latter-day Saint.

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37 Comments »

  1. Fascinating. Do you know when this practice was stopped?

    Comment by Julie M. Smith — January 20, 2011 @ 7:57 am

  2. I don’t. Wouldn’t be surprised if J.Stapley knows, though, and hope he’ll see this.

    It seems likely that this morphed into our current system of providing unrelated names (without payment!) to patrons, and I’d like to know more about the transition from responsibility only to one’s direct dead and our current sense of responsibility for all the dead.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 20, 2011 @ 8:04 am

  3. Wow, I had never heard of such a practice. Was going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead a common occurrence?

    Comment by kew — January 20, 2011 @ 8:24 am

  4. Yes, although in the period we’re talking about here there weren’t youth temple trips to do baptisms. The people who were committed to doing the endowment work for their ancestors were also doing the baptisms for those same ancestors. You didn’t go to the temple to do a dozen baptisms for random strangers whose names were provided by the temple; you only did baptisms for those ancestors you had identified.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 20, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  5. This is really excellent work, Ardis. Thank you. And what a wonderful artifact!

    I don’t know when the practice ended. I suspect that it began relatively soon after 1894 and apparently it endured through the depression. I do think it is wonderful that some of our elderly Saints were able to have some measure of financial support in an era where there was no governmental aid. In fact, Ardis, I have a story that this has reminded me of. I’ll try and put it together for a post soon.

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 20, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  6. Looking at the receipt, it has a transaction number, and is clearly a Salt Lake Temple receipt, which implies that there must have been a journal of some sort that recorded these donations, and likely the payments made out. I would assume, though, that like all financial records, that journal would likely not be available to look at.

    Fascinating find. I’m glad Jim agreed to share, and that you provided the context for us.

    Comment by kevinf — January 20, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  7. See page 148 and footnote 64 in the linked article for brief mention of the practice. It seemed to have endured into the 1940s at least.

    The July 1940 IE featured an editorial on the importance of good temple recordkeeping. It stated: “It is not pleasant to spend time going through a temple in behalf of one of the dead, then afterwards learn the one for whom you gave that time and effort and sacrifice had already been endowed. The first endowment, of course, is the official one and always takes precedence. Nor can an individual who reimburses a proxy to go through a temple in behalf of his kindred feel happy about the results if he later learns that all the names for whom the work has been done, were previously endowed.”

    Comment by Justin — January 20, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  8. Over Christmas my mother was telling me about her “youth temple trips” that were organized by her grandfather. He rounded up his grandchildren that were eight years old or older to do the proxy baptisms for his family file. She didn’t say if she got paid, but since it was in the 1940’s, later than you describe, I doubt it.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — January 20, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  9. Ardis, I’m interested in what you say in the first paragraphs about contemporary emphasis on personal blessings from temple attendance. In our stake conference last week the Saturday night session was entirely devoted to the temple. When it was over I realized that not once had anyone mentioned our kindred dead, saviors on Mount Zion or turning the hearts of the children to their fathers. Everything was about how we can reap great gains from going to the temple, nothing was said about any obligation the living have toward those who have passed on. It seems that in the 21st century we are trying to make the temple into a spa treatment for the soul instead of a command from on high.

    Comment by KLC — January 20, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  10. My grandfather used to go to the Salt Lake Temple and do ordinances for others. The story is that when his pension check money ran out he would go to the temple to get a little extra money for food.
    Ardis, I think I told you this story before and you brushed it off for some reason.

    Comment by J Paul — January 20, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  11. Thanks Justin.

    KLC, I think that is because the vast majority of the temple patrons have no connection at all to the people they do the work for. I have even heard people talk about going to the temple as a renewal of covenants (a wildly skewed view of proxy rituals, to be sure).

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 20, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  12. KLC,

    I too have noticed this trend, and not only in temple work. There’s a disturbing modern tendency to make everything about ourselves, or to use spiritual/temporal aggrandizement as the motivator. I’ve lost count of all the tithing lessons that teach the (false in my opinion) principal that if we pay our tithes, then we will be financially secure and always have money. This kind of thought, though subtle, can probably become dangerous because it skews values.

    Ardis,

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. That’s a great load of information I was never aware of. It’s given me a lot to think over.

    Comment by Gdub — January 20, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  13. Gdub: but in a way, the whole gospel is about benefits either in this life or the life to come. Even if one defers all rewards to the next life, every good thing we strive for here in this life still supposedly brings about an increase of joy in whichever of the three kingdoms of glory one ends up in.

    And even for those of us who have to go through umpteen years of spirit prison/hell (until the uttermost farthing/senine is paid) and end up in the Telestial Kingdom, well…, I would want to at least minimize my time in hell as much as possible.

    Granted, there is a paradox here in this life that in order to secure those benefits to ourselves, we have to put others first.

    But not everyone has sufficient faith to do _everything_ that is required of us, with an eye to the future worlds. It’s about motivation. And most of us can’t see that carrot if it’s dangled too far away.

    Speaking of proxy temple-work, I’m trying to figure out the appropriateness of a release form for temple proxy work. Suppose I ask a friend to listen to the missionary discussions, and he declines. Could I whip out a release form and say “I’d like you to sign this form please. It gives me permission to submit your name for proxy baptism and other ordinances in a Mormon temple after you die. Ya know, just in case what the Mormons believe is really true, wouldn’t you want to cover all your bases?” Or would that be too tacky?

    Comment by Bookslinger — January 20, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  14. You mention that the higher price for a man’s endowment reflects that men’s work was considered more valuable than women’s work. I suspect you might be right, but couldn’t it also be that like today, women were more faithful temple attenders and thus the larger female labor pool served to depress wages for female proxies? It would be interesting to know how prices were set. Where 50c/female ordinance and 75c/male ordinance just the going rate, or did the temple set the rates?

    Comment by liamorean — January 20, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  15. liamorean, the prices seem to have been fixed by the temple, not open to competitive market forces. It seems very much like the fixed two-tier salaries for men and women schoolteachers, or earlier, the way men’s labor was credited on the books of the United Orders at a rate that was usually about 150% of the rate women were credited for (with children credited at about half the women’s rate), regardless of the actual work performed. I haven’t seen evidence of women offering to work in the temple more cheaply in order to get more business, or advertisements or sermons to find more men to fill a shortage, anything that would indicate there was either a surfeit of women or a shortage of men.

    Later in the century, without payment being a factor, I have seen evidence that women were more willing to attend the temple, though. There are days that the temple is open only to men in order to catch up, things like that.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 20, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  16. It seems that in the 21st century we are trying to make the temple into a spa treatment for the soul

    The same thing was happening back in the 90s when I taught temple prep. The bishopric had this handout they would occasionally stuff into the program that probably read like a transcript of your (KLC’s) stake conference. When I taught my class, however, I emphasized the contents of Chapter 3 in the temple prep manual, excerpted below:

    President Hunter then quoted some of the verses from section 109. Ask the class members to read these verses: Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–12, 22–23, 59, 67, 72, 75. Ask them to look for the blessings mentioned by the Lord.

    Following the reading, ask the class members to list the blessings they have identified. Write the comments on the chalkboard. The blessings mentioned may include the following:

    1. The Lord’s glory will be upon His people.
    2. The Lord’s servants will leave the temple with the Lord’s power, name, and glory, and angels will have charge over them.
    3. The Lord’s servants will take the truth of the gospel from the temple to the ends of the earth.
    4. Stakes will be organized so that the Lord’s people may be gathered.
    5. All of scattered Israel will learn the truth and rejoice.
    6. The families of the Saints and all of their sick and afflicted will be remembered before the Lord.
    7. The Lord’s kingdom will fill the whole earth.
    8. The Lord’s servants will someday be caught up to meet the Lord and will be with Him forever.

    The personal spa treatment is limited to #2. The rest is about Zion-building, which I think is the appropriate emphasis. It is interesting, though, that even this source says nothing about our kindred dead.

    Comment by Last Lemming — January 20, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  17. I love how the Bloggernacle works–that Ardis can write a post, get questions, do a follow-up, pose a question to J. Stapley, have him answer it, which then in part inpires J. to write another post. Really, what could be better?

    Comment by mmiles — January 20, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  18. Not much, mmiles! The networking and interconnections are the best thing about the Bloggernacle. I wish crossovers happened more often, with commenters *and* bloggers supporting each other’s work wherever it is posted.

    Thanks for your comments, all. As so often happens, once a conversation gets started it’s a pleasure to sit back and watch it develop.There are some good ideas here.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 20, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

  19. This was awesome, Ardis, thanks.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — January 20, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  20. In the 1930s my mother was very involved in her Swedish genealogy and had an open field before her. She had the quaint idea that only family should do family names and that her relatives would never be in the “charity” file which was what she called those being paid for. This was a bit of a problem since she was the only active member in her family. She virtually made herself sick trying to get all the female work done, but the males names languished. An older widower she knew offered to help her. She thought long and hard about it, but not seeing any other way to get the names done, beside the “charity” file, allowed him to help. He seemed very grateful since he didn’t have any family names of his own and going to the temple gave meaning to his declining years. I know the work for pay system lasted through the depression and was a Godsend to many. My impression is that it lasted through WWII, but by then my mother was married and no longer living near the SL Temple.To this day she is insistent that family names be done by family.

    Comment by MARJORIE CONDER — January 20, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

  21. The practice of payment for Endowments probably went away in the 1930’s. I have an old Temple Ordinance form where, as I recall, there was a fee required if someone showed up at the Temple without having any names to do work for. It’s been a while, but I think that was part of the instructions on that form.

    Comment by Mike H. — January 20, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

  22. This was really interesting, Ardis. Thanks.

    As to the notion of temple work being about service, I just re-read this statement that I remembered distinctly from Elder Oaks:

    “Hundreds of thousands of faithful members participate in the unselfish service we call “temple work,” which has no motive other than love and service for our fellowmen, living and dead.”

    I hadn’t remembered, however, the love and service to the living part. I think that perhaps part of why we hear about the benefits of temple service is because it does end up being a service to others for us to strengthen ourselves…sort of like the idea of putting our own oxygen mask on. We also help bind others’ families when we help do their work.

    I think, as always, there are multiple layers to what we are asked to do, and multiple layers to the counsel we hear.

    But I definitely don’t agree with the idea that we *only* hear about temple service in selfish terms. I think there are many examples of us being taught about the importance of the service and duty to our kindred dead as well. But our hearts can and do turn to them in more ways than one, and staying strong in the covenant to me is one way we serve them and our God.

    Comment by michelle — January 20, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  23. Sorry — link to Elder Oaks’ talk here:

    http://lds.org/liahona/2009/05/unselfish-service?lang=eng

    Comment by michelle — January 20, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  24. I don’t mean to suggest that today’s temple discourse is only about “what’s in it for me” — not at all. There was a time, though, before about 1920, when the relatively few people who made second or subsequent visits to the temple went not for personal worship or to seek revelation, but because they were seeking to fulfill an obligation to their kindred dead. Absent that specific motive, there was little to no encouragement for or expectation of temple attendance.

    Service is definitely one element driving today’s attendance. The motivation is different, though — even with the consciousness that you’re serving the dead, it’s a general, diffuse kind of service to strangers where any random name serves as well as any other, rather than a felt obligation to a specific group of women for whom you are personally responsible.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 21, 2011 @ 4:00 am

  25. About twenty years ago I read in The History of the Scandinavian Mission (1927) that my great-great grandmother Amanda Wessman had been miraculously healed from a severe sickness in the Salt Lake Temple in 1898 and had been a temple worker since then. When I read that, I assumed that the 130,000 baptisms and 4,000 endowments that Andrew Jenson mentioned her doing was incorrect information. How could she be one of the elderly ladies helping run the ordinance work and still get that many baptisms and endowments done? Was it even possible to do that many baptisms and endowments?

    It was not until a couple of years ago when this topic came up here that I realized that “temple worker” could have a different definition. She was there to do the temple work for others and was earning a tiny stipend back in those days before Social Security. I also realized that it meant that many days that the Salt Lake Temple was open for several decades, you would see quiet little Sister Wessman there with her European ways and heavy Swedish accent. I’m sure it never crossed her mind that one of her great-granddaughters would marry the great-grandson of another faithful temple worker, Mary Morgan, but I do know that the temple work and genealogy that these two women did is still blessing their relatives and descendants in real, tangible ways.

    Here is a picture of Amanda with some family members and a brief biography from the Relief Society Magazine, courtesy of Keepa’s kind author: “An Unknown Heroine.”

    Comment by Researcher — January 21, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  26. One more comment: mmiles mentions J. Stapley’s post yesterday on BCC about healings in the Salt Lake Temple. His post explains the first part of Andrew Jenson’s note that Amanda was healed from a sickness in the temple. Before I read his post, I’m not sure exactly how I would have interpreted that, but now it seems that she must have gone there to receive a blessing from the temple healers.

    Comment by Researcher — January 21, 2011 @ 9:06 am

  27. J.’s related post, in case anyone hasn’t found it yet: The Work of Healing/.

    The interconnections are both mundane (of course everything in the past linked to everything else, just like everything in modern life links to everything else) and exciting because somehow they still come at such unexpected moments.

    Recognitions like yours, Researcher, are often the way I’m sure I’m on the right track when chasing something historical: Everything has to link up in this way, with one connection after another reinforcing the conclusions. It’s why some historical books and articles leave me dissatisfied — if these links aren’t there, then I have doubts about how well the historian has interpreted his evidence, no matter how logical his argument is. If it doesn’t fit, if there aren’t these connections, then somebody has forced the puzzle pieces together wrong.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 21, 2011 @ 10:20 am

  28. Bookslinger,

    sorry for the late reply. I agree that we receive blessings from living the gospel, but my view of it’s a bit different than the “dangling carrot” metaphor.

    God’s work and glory is immortality and eternal life for His children, but to what end? In my mind, that end is to make us like Him, to be the kind of being that God himself is. That doesn’t occur magically upon passing a test. Just because you pass the exam to become a police officer, that doesn’t make you a fully developed cop. Therefore, I see this life as a molding and training. To that end, the commandments, the service, the covenants, and all the good that we do is meant to shape us more than it is to collect gold stars.

    Of course, along the way we feel joy, because living in harmony with correct principals and filling the measure of our creation dispels that conflict of conscience we each experience when we waste our lives going against our potential either through sin or indolence.

    Therefore, as we participate in Godly things, that is, act in a small measure the way God acts, we will feel an equal fraction of the joy which God feels. He feels that joy because he is perfect. So then, it should be asked, what do perfect beings do? They save others. As we come to see that creating, building up, and saving is what we’re made to do, then we understand why things such as missionary work, serving in the temple, fulfilling our callings, helping others, raising children, are the most rewarding and enriching activities of life.

    I suppose then, that I choose to view life through a “becoming” paradigm” rather than a “reward” paradigm. I hope that makes sense. Thinking of things this way has always made more sense to me than the teaching that we should be obedient because of a future blessing. I like to think that my obedience makes me the kind of person who can feel joy NOW.

    Comment by Gdub — January 21, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  29. Michelle, I commented because it was striking to me how all of the speakers at my stake conference focused on the temple as a way to gain personal satisfaction, personal direction, personal revelation and personal growth.

    I also saw this same dynamic the week before when I taught the lesson on fasting in the priesthood/RS manual. All references to fasting in the early church were about providing for the poor through our fast offering. The manual has one small paragraph talking about the offering, the rest is all about personal blessings and personal empowerment through fasting. I also found this April 2009 Ensign article from one of the 70. Not a mention of the offering, of doing this for others, all of it is about personal aggrandizement through fasting. It comes off as more Tony Robbins than the gospel.

    It all seems very gospel of prosperity oriented, put in the work and reap the great personal rewards. I think that is a change in emphasis from the early church and even a change from my childhood.

    Comment by KLC — January 21, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  30. That should read, “All references to fasting in the early church that I could find were about providing for poor through our fast offering.”

    Comment by KLC — January 21, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  31. One more correction that I need to make, the Ensign article I linked does talk about the offering but the emphasis is on personal growth and development. I was going on faulty memory. I’m not against personal growth and I need all of the personal blessings I can get but things seem to have skewed too much in the direction of what’s in it for us and away from helping others and building the kingdom.

    Comment by KLC — January 21, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  32. KLC, I think you’re definitely onto something. Like Last-Lemming pointed out; there’s so much emphasis placed on Zion Building that doesn’t seem to be seeping into the church culture enough for how often it’s actually mentioned.

    Comment by Gdub — January 21, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  33. KLC and Gdub: I think some are failing to make the connection that “personal growth, personal revelation, personal direction” _are_ “becoming more like God”, and becoming more like God _is_ a reward, a benefit, whether it be a natural/mundane consequence or a divine bestowal, whether it happen in this world, or the next.

    “Aggrandizement” is not necessarily a bad thing according to the dictionary definitions. It means an enlargement. And if it is the spirit or good things that are being enlarged, then such aggrandizement is a good thing.

    Aggrandizement is bad when it is at the unjust expense of others, or when the enlargement is of lesser important things at the expense of more important things. Or of temporal things at the expense of spiritual things.

    Gdub: I’m having trouble parsing your last line “I like to think that my obedience makes me the kind of person who can feel joy NOW” in light of your overall concern, since that line does seem to focus on what’s in it for you in the short term.

    I also counter that your “becoming” is in and of itself a reward, a benefit, a consequence bestowed (either naturally or divinely) in the here-and-now.

    And the part: “… all the good that we do is meant to shape us more than it is to collect gold stars.”

    Well, the shaping/becoming is itself a reward/benefit/gold-star that happens in this life. IE, it’s also part and parcel of the “what’s in it for me.”

    Those are the benefit in the here-and-now that the leadership is teaching. So maybe we are on the same page. In my previous comment I did not say, nor intend to imply, that the _only_ benefits are in some future world. I tried to point out that there needs to be a short-term carrot too. And we seem to be in agreement.

    I don’t think church curriculum is leading us into prosperity theology. Though I think I have caught glimpses of it among some members.

    One of the things I love about Mormonism is that it’s not all pie-in-the-sky, suffer-now-so-we-can-rejoice-in-Heaven Dostoyevsky-type stuff with a lot of Catholic-style guilt and perpetual penance. God wants us to grow and progress and be overall happy in _this_ life too, not just in some future world.

    And I think that is one of the main messages of the gospel, at least in the Book of Mormon: keep the commandments and you’ll be a heck of lot happier than if you don’t. Now maybe some people do extend the “prosper in the land” BoM pagessages into prosperity theology. But I don’t see it coming from leadership.

    KLC: The fasting mentioned in the Book of Mormon isn’t tied into giving the food that would otherwise have been eaten to the poor. In the BoM fasting seems to be tightly linked to prayer, ie “given to much prayer and fasting.”

    Comment by Bookslinger — January 21, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

  34. I really enjoyed this post, although I doubt it would have made any sense to me without the context. I agree comment #10 (“…trying to make the temple into a spa treatment for the soul..”) is a classic.

    I wonder if the emphasis on personal blessings (both the temple and the fast) is done because today’s culture is generally more selfish/self-centered. (On the other hand, I tend to glorify the past at the expense of the present, so may this opinion is just an extension of that.)

    Comment by Clark — January 22, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  35. Wow, this was a fascinating read. I didn’t know anything about this practice. I’m going to call my 91 year old grandpa tonight and ask if he heard his parents talk about this at all.

    p.s. I love all the thought provoking comments as well.

    Comment by Meghan M. — January 24, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  36. Bookslinger,

    I do think we’re on the same page here. I definitely don’t see the prosperity theology coming from leadership or curriculum, but rather from membership.

    You are definitely correct in defining joy and happiness today, and eventual achievement as a reward. My assumption, however, is that for most people who claim a *need* for a major incentive in order to begin discipleship, the actual reward will seem kind of lame. For me it’s not, but for many they need promises of jet skis in mortality and gold mansions in the afterlife.

    I suppose it’s the difference between the “joy in the journey” personality and the “what am I getting our of this?” folks. Perhaps it’s more a difference of attitude and not facts.

    Comment by Gdub — January 24, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  37. Great stuff! Thanks Ardis.

    Comment by BHodges — February 11, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

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