I was part of a dinner conversation recently that I thought was interesting.
While discussing the modern LDS board games available for purchase, one person jokingly brought up the idea of General Authority trading cards. On the back they proposed would be the persons stats, ie.. number of revelations received, number of verses which were added to the cannon of scripture, number of "likes" or "fans" on Facebook. Number of degrees awarded, or years as a GA. Everyone laughed, but it was also a fairly good indicator of how we view our leaders. They are a bit like celebrities.
The conversation shifted to seminary and institute. Most people I know are not yet aware that the Church Educational System limits what doctrines, topics, and books (TPJS), that are allowed to be taught or used. Correlation is a department at the Church Office building and it limits most teachings about the "fullness of the Gospel" from Sunday school manuals and institute/seminary materials. So if you want to find these doctriens you'll need to search them out on your own. As the institution grows, other priorities seem to dominate the agenda. For example previously, CES teachers were given the opportunity to visit the Holy Land, and gain from an experience there as part of their training. This was done away with a few years ago. It was deemed "not worth the investment" by the system.
I didn't talk much during the conversation and my mind wandered towards a scripture. The scriptures are often speaking about something they term people's collective "slumber". It's as if we are asleep, in a dream, and totally distracted. But like people who are asleep, they don't know they are asleep until you wake them up. But in our culture we keep taking sleep aids to keep us in this unconscious state. One sleep aid are the mantra's we chant to ourselves. "All is well" "Zion prospereth" "Financially we as a church have never been better" "Follow the Prophet, he can't lead astray" "I know this Church is true". These things are like soothing words that are pretty effective "sleep" aids.
Anyway it was an interesting dinner conversation. This also sparks some other thoughts about modern day changes in the Church. The Full time missionaries came to our house a few nights ago. I asked them what some of the big challenges are that they face working here in Utah. They said "people either hate us or love us". Folks already have their minds made up before the missionaries even open their mouth. Thankfully the Elders had the desire to have the Spirit to counter the challenges they face. But how I'm sure the adversary wants them instead to start relying on Babylon's tactics, tools of marketing, tools of science, and any non Spirit based tool to counter what they deal with. I asked the missionaries how they counter these challenges. Their responses were good. I enjoy having the missionaries over. Towards the end of their response its clear how easily marketing philosophy can slip in and become the methods of teaching the Gospel vs the simple truth and plain humility of the Spirit. I see this at high levels of the Church too.
Elder Marlin Jensen (Recently released Church Historian and Recorder) at a recent religious studies class at USU is quoted in the news as saying "The church has a very progressive research and information division, with tremendous public opinion surveyors," he said. Among other steps, it has hired an expert in search-engine optimization to raise the profile of the church's own views in a web search.