Did Bishop Keith B. McMullin, formerly of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Preach the “Prosperity Gospel” When He Spoke With Business Week?
By Ken K. Gourdin
A few posters at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion really got under my skin today. One of them posted a quote that purports to come from Bishop Keith B. McMullin, formerly a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who purportedly was quoted in Business Week (emphasis added by the poster):
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attends to the total needs of its members,” says Keith B. McMullin, who for 37 years served within the Mormon leadership and now heads a church-owned holding company, Deseret Management Corp. (DMC), an umbrella organization for many of the church’s for-profit businesses. “We look to not only the spiritual but also the temporal, and we believe that a person who is impoverished temporally cannot blossom spiritually.”
Apparently, the person who posted the quote, along with those who are similarly appalled by it, thinks Bishop McMullin is preaching some version of The Prosperity Gospel ™ here. Sadly, there are Mormons who adhere to the Prosperity Gospel ™ (which holds, essentially, that if one is righteous, one will be rich, monetarily speaking). I do not, however, think Bishop McMullin is one of them. Here’s what I said.
I think there is wholesale, widespread misinterpretation of Bishop McMullin’s words going on here. I can testify that as grateful as I am for those checks that my Rich Uncle Barry sends me every month (and how’s this for bass-ackwards? My Rich Uncle Barry sends me a check every month, and then I turn right around and write a check out from those funds to cover what, indirectly, my Rich Uncle Barry paid so that I could go to school!) I can testify that there is almost nothing more soul-deadening than being absolutely convinced that one has skills that could be used to the great benefit of some worthy enterprise, yet seemingly being unable to convince anyone who makes the hiring decisions in such an enterprise of that, and, consequently, being essentially forced to suck on the government’s … yeah, OK, you get the picture (well, hopefully not! But you know what I mean!) Sorry.
I write a blog and publish occasional Op-Eds that nobody reads. (It’s funny; whenever my friends see those Op-Eds and then see me afterward, they say, “Hey, Ken. That was a great Op-Ed,” and I just want to say, “Thanks, but the idea was for somebody who DOESN’T know me to take note of it, yet it seems like the only people who do notice them are those who DO know me.” (I bite my tongue … after the “Thanks,” at least!) Yes. OK. Things definitely could be worse. I don’t want to b****. There are no shortage of people out there who have entire blogs dedicated to the single pursuit of bemoaning the particular degree that I (perhaps was unfortunate that I) got. Many of them have better academic and professional credentials than I do.
There is a certain school of thought which says that if the degree I worked so hard (and paid [am paying] so dearly) to get isn’t going to pay off for me, if push comes to shove and worse comes to worst, since student loans cannot be discharged even in bankruptcy, just default. Just stop paying. But, see, here’s the thing: nearly everyone who suggests that course of action is, at least from the standpoint of earning power, in a better position than I am. If nothing else, they can at least get a job doing manual labor, if necessary. Meanwhile, I live at poverty level and yet (while, admittedly, I couldn’t do this without a good deal of family support), I have paid every single cent due on my student loans the last ten years. Just for fun, I went to a site that purports to calculate what my payment would be under the income-sensitive repayment plan my lender offers. It asked for my Adjusted Gross Income. I don’t know what that is, so I simply took my monthly SSDI payment, multiplied it by 12 (Thanks again, Uncle Barry! ), and entered that figure. Do you know what it says my payment would be under an income-sensitive plan? Zip. Zilch. Nada! Yet I’ve paid every cent due in the last ten years. Heck, they’re in deferment now because I’m taking a class, and I’m still making payments!
As grateful as I am for every opportunity I’ve gotten to volunteer and to serve, and as much as I know that my worth is intrinsic and cannot be increased one iota no matter what job I get (and even if I never get a job, which, frankly, I’m starting to think is a real possibility ), I fully understand the implications of not blossoming spiritually due to not blossoming temporally.
If all ya’all want to fault Bishop McMullin for that, go right ahead. With due respect, that fact says much more about you than it ever will about him!