Not as the World Gives – Mormon Alternatives
If ye are not one, ye are not mine
In 1831, God warned Joseph Smith and his followers in a revelation given to the prophet that “if ye are not one, ye are not mine”. During the succeeding century the scripture has served LDS church leaders as a rallying cry in their efforts to urge compliance of the general church membership to three grand designs for building greater economic cooperation among the Saints. The first of these was the Law of Consecration and Stewardship, initiated by the Prophet himself in Ohio and Missouri in 1831.
The Law of Consecration and Stewardship was intended to be a major instrument of reorganizing the social and economic patterns of life among the Saints. Moreover, it was to provide the model upon which all human society would be organized when the Savior returned to the latter-day Zion in Missouri. it would build unity among a people fragmented by their individualistic search for economic well-being.
Brigham Young’s reprise of Mormon communitarianism was by contrast to Joseph Smith’s introduction of the law of consecration and stewardship out of time and place – an unusual manifestation of anti-capitalist economic idealism at a time when Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were becoming national heroes.
Under the direction of Brigham Young, the Mormons launched a cooperative movement in 1869 (the birth year of Mahatma Gandhi) that transformed later into the United Order of the 1870s. Young encouraged in his time local innovation and adaptation according to the desire of the Saints and the judgments of local leaders. In consequence, the name United Order was applied to associations of all kinds, from full communes to loose cooperatives.
not as the world gives
We understand from Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord had no intention of his people building peace or communities in the manner of the world:
Now here is wisdom, and the mind of the Lord – let the house be built, not after the manner of the world, for I give not unto you that ye shall live after the manner of the world.
Brother Brigham once said that: “the man or woman who enjoys the spirit of our religion has no trials; but the man or woman who tries to live according to the Gospel of the Son of God, and at the same time clings to the spirit of the world has trials and sorrows acute and keen, and that too, continually. This is the deciding point, the dividing line [...]. They who try to serve God and still cling to the spirit of the world have got on two yokes – the yoke of Jesus and the yoke of the Devil, and they will have plenty to do. They will have a WARFARE inside and outside, and the labor will be very galling, for they are directly in opposition one to the other.
Like Hugh Nibley suggested: “What makes one hesitate, before a conversion to consecration, is the absolute and uncompromising nature of the decision. Must it be one, or the other way, all the way? Countless books on how to succeed in the world all come down to one basic principle that total dedication to making money is the secret and the only secret. Mammon is a jealous god and so is the true God”. In fact, Nibley believed that the difficulty latter-day Saints have with the law of consecration is a cultural one:.
Since the days of Cain and Abel, men have been pulled in two opposite directions, given a choice between two ways. The two contrasting cultures may be characterized as stable or stationery on the one hand, and acquisitive or expansive on the other hand – eternal vs. temporary, agrarian vs. hunting, cooperative vs. competetive, comtemplative vs. execrated, seeking either wisdom or riches, and so on. The law of consecration is that of a stable society; the law of the [global] market is that of an expansive, acquisitive, brittle , untrustworthy, predatory society.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Plea for an AGAPE economy of life
Alternative Globalization Addressing Peoples and Earth (AGAPE) is a call to the churches at the 2006 World Assembly of Council of Churches in Porto Alegre to become transformative communities:
We as churches are called to create spaces for, and become agents of, transformation even as we are entangled in and complicit with the very system we are called to change. We witness the massive violation of the human dignity and the integrity of creation. We confront the suffering, enormous economic and social disparity, abject poverty and the destruction of life, which result from the neoliberal model of economic globalization. As churches, we need to accept and assume the vocation to challenge the thinking of the present age, to be transformed ourselves by God’s grace, and to boldly develop visionary long-term strategies.
It is a pastoral and spiritual task for the churches to address the false spirituality of conformity, and to encourage Christian believers and communities to embrace a spirituality of life and transformation rooted in God’s loving grace. This is the way in which AGAPE, the love of God and neighbor, is translated into social and economic life. We are called to be with the suffering people and groaning creation in solidarity with those who are building alternative communities of life. The locus of the churches is where God is working, Christ is suffering and the Spirit is caring for life and resisting destructive principalities and powers.