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Except for lawyers 8-)

Luke 11:45,46,52

This still seems like a relevant passage to combat the professorial bias against common laborers, skilled tradespeople, technicians of every stripe, and working professionals.

I have never perceived in the Church a bias against common laborers, skilled tradespeople, technicians of every stripe, and working professionals. You never cease to surprise me with what aspect of LDS life/belief/culture you are going to criticize! This is really puzzling; after all, in introducing the PEF, President Hinckley specifically focused on such jobs, announcing it would be to help people become such technicians. He mentioned refrigeration as one example, among other things.

To me it has seemed that the Church views the Gospel as being for everyone and welcomes the laborer as well as the professor. The ironic thing is that to me it has seemed a common criticism around here and elsewhere in the Bloggernacle that the Church does not tolerate academicians, i.e. "free thinkers," and wants to subject everyone to an arbitrary orthodoxy through correlation and other such machinations.

I'm a bit surprised by this one, too. I've never given much thought to the potential for bias against laborers and tradespeople. The bias against creatives and intellectuals seemed more obvious.

But now that you mention it... Doctrinally, I don't think there's any preference, with the exception of lawyers, who are widely vituperated in the BofM and not so kindly regarded in the discourses of Brigham Young, either.

Culturally, I think there are two types of bias:

(1) Money. Face it, when was the last time you saw a plumber on the list of new Mission Presidents? (and please spare me the practicality argument--no career or business is benefited from a three-year hiatus, and living expenses are paid by the missionary dept.) Fact is, the church has a cultural bias toward jobs that pay well. Entrepreneurship is great as long as it pays off for you, but LDS entrepreneurs risk both livelihood and social status if their ventures fail (unless they're already loaded). Not that you hear talks condemning those who choose blue-collar careers--just that you don't often hear talks praising them either, and the upper echelon of the church is filled with doctors, lawyers, pilots, and businessmen.

The major exception to this is seminary and institute professionals.


(2) Corporate thinking over creativity and scholarship. Management may be the most highly valued skill in the church today. The kind of management that is needed to "build the kingdom" is apparently the same kind you learn doing powerpoint presentations at Oracle or Bank of America. Artists, writers, actors, filmmakers, musicians, and scholars are viewed with suspicion and sometimes disdain, unless they use their talents to (a) promote faith -- ie work and the glory, or (b) make lots of money without rocking the establishment's boat too much.

Again, I don't think there is any doctrinal basis for either of these biases. The creative types seem to be the worst off--since they fall under both categories.

Historically, the church actually had a good track record up to a point--the artists sent on missions to Paris to learn modern techniques represent the shining light. But today the values that rule seem to be efficiency, cost-effectiveness, uniformity, and conformity. Out with the architectural gem wardhouses, in with McChapels. Etc.

Back to your point, just thinking about the people I know who fall into the categories you mentioned, I can remember a lot of guys who seem to have inferiority issues at church, always apologizing for their lack of spirituality. A garage door installer, a UPS driver, a construction worker, etc. I have to agree with your premise.

Whew that was long.

Dave, sorry to post this here but I don't have your email.

For some reason my post from yesterday on BT isn't showing up. I tried resubmitting it but no go.

Just to add, I do think there is too much emphasis on business in the church. And I say that as a businessman. However our former Bishop was a chemist and was called to be a Mission President. So there definitely are non-businessmen called to leadership, even if they are the minority.

I do think, however, that many of the problems of leadership are often poor organizational skills. (Wasn't there a recent discussion about that vis a vis Pres. McKay?) If the Lord needs managers, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Further there is, in these discussions, often a presumption that the calling of people with management skills is somehow wrong and evidence of a lack of inspiration of the leaders. I'm far from convinced that is the case. Further I've seen what happens when often even very spiritual people with few management skills try to lead large organizations.

One should also point out that many leaders in the church aren't businessmen. . .

John, I specifically called it professorial bias, and did so in the context of Nibley's statements. If anything, my citing of D&C 88 shows the LDS position is much more open to various career choices than the quirky Nibley position.

Nick makes the nice point that the higher councils of the Church are filled with white collar professionals and a few CES graduates. While I agree that some perspectives don't get proper representation in senior councils, it's just not going to happen that a mechanic, a peasant, and a woman get called into the Twelve next week (although it would certainly be a refreshing change of routine). There are other, better ways for those points of view or neglected concerns to get attention from senior leaders.

Furthermore, I think the successful business types that generally get called are actually well prepared for the demanding tasks they are given as part of managing a multi-billion dollar religious corporation with millions of members. A generous reading of 1 Cor. 12 even has "administration" as one of the gifts of the Spirit, and the modern corporation seems to be the best place to pick up that spiritual gift.

Dave, I think you're making Nibley say something he isn't. He's not saying that these are the only honorable or worthy professions, but that these professions seem (in large part) immune to the idea that commerce is, in of itself, righteous, and that material wealth is both the goal of the righteous and the reward for righteousness. The paragraph directly above the one from which you quote helps give the context:

For the past year I have been assailed by a steady stream of visitors, phone calls, and letters from people agonizing over what might be called a change of majors. Heretofore the trouble has been the repugnance that the student (usually a graduate) has felt at entering one line of work while he would greatly prefer another. But what can they do? "If you leave my employ," says the manager, "what will become of you?" But today it is not boredom or disillusionment, but conscience that raises the problem. To seek ye first financial independence and all other things shall be added, is recognized as a rank perversion of the scriptures and an immoral inversion of values.

When my stake in Texas was reorganized, one of the counselors was listed as a Vice President of Some Corporation in the Church News. He was a chicken farmer. A very successful one, too.

I don't know what the source was, but I think it could have gone a long way toward validating "labor" if "farmer" had been listed as his occupation.

Was Elder Ballard a used-car salesman? I can't imagine that they constitute a highly regarding profession.

John C, I don't know the details, but I have no doubt that his last private-sector position would have been as an executive in that industry rather than as a "salesman." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I would expect a car salesman to be a little more charismatic over the podium.

"Except for lawyers 8-) Luke 11:45,46,52"

Christ was a lawyer.

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