I recently finished reading “The Book of Mammon by Daymon Smith. David provides an excellent summary and I suggest you read his review rather than mine. My comments are too long to fit under David’s review, so I’m regrettably posting them here as its own post.
The book is funny. It unfortunately is nearly impossible to answer “What’s so funny?” when you’re reading the book. The book is dense, layered and self-referential and so are the best jokes.
About 20% of the book is a complaint against Human Resources. Anyone who’s worked in any sort of American corporation will know exactly what he’s talking about and I have to say, I don’t think these parts really hit their mark as hard as the rest. His complaints are valid and likely accurate but they’re the same everywhere. The thing that makes them cogent to the book is that they are always wrapped in the language of the church and frequently make use of the “Inspired” trump card. Being exactly the same as every other American corporation that makes them even more insidious.
Another 10-15% of the book is clearly an attempt to put the book into the catalogs of Anti-Mormon literature. Because the COB(LDS Corporate Headquarters), as presented in the book, is more devoted to Mammon than the things of God, I can see why Smith calls this Anti-Mammonism rather than Anti-Mormonism. If the LDS church is not devoted to Mammon, then there is no threat to it from this book. If it is, it deserves to have it’s dirty laundry waived. Seriously, as “Anti-Mormon” as anything else out there (but no more revealing than “Rough Stone Rolling”). Pretty early in the book I thought “there’s no way this guy is an active Mormon.”
These are the two biggest things I think anyone in the COB should be concerned about:
1) The COB is an absolute echo chamber and no one wants it any other way. I doubt a successful marketing campaign has been created by the LDS church in 20 years. There was a lot of talk in the bloggernacle about how the “I am a Mormon” ad series seems to target Mormons more than anyone else; intentionally or not, that’s probably the case. The producing departments only care about one thing; making the sponsoring departments happy so that can justify their own positions by invoicing for cob-cash. The sponsoring departments don’t seem to have the tools or the interest in knowing if their “products” are actually fulfilling their goals. “Inspiration” and priesthood hierarchy seem to offer enough justifications for anyone.
2) A scandal will eventually emerge from a lack of public financial accountability. Smith provides a few snapshots at corruptions from within the church. He indicates that others within the church passed this information on to him, that means other people are seeing it too. Smith wasn’t really in a position to discover anything that would be truly scandalous, but someone else, equally dissatisfied probably is, and that person is probably making quite a collection for himself.
I’ve heard Mormons pass over this lack of financial accountability by saying that it is their duty to pay their tithing and any thing that happens after that is between God and the criminal. One thing Smith repeats through the book is “silence is consent”.
A financial scandal will eventually emerge that will harm the church. As devoted members who care about the message of Mormonism, Mormons shouldn’t let this happen. It will hurt the church and as a result destroy souls. There seems to be a lot of bluster in the COB about being industry leaders. It’s not only appropriate as industry leaders AND representatives of Christ, it’s necessary for the LDS church to practice financial accountability.
By remaining silent, Mormons are giving their consent to financial dishonesty and eventual scandal.
I enjoyed reading the book. It can be difficult to read at times because Smith intentionally makes it hard to read. In a weird way, that made it fun rather than frustrating.