Leadership and data conference notes

Recently I attended a great multi-industry conference.  A few things speakers said impacted me.  They are included here without spin, but simply allowing the reader to take the context of LDS leadership in connection with the quotes.

“To solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar” – Richard Feynman

“Blockbuster was doing location analysis so that one of their stores would be less than 10 miles than anyone in the U.S. while Netflix was being released.  Sometimes not changing can be even riskier than taking risks”

Information is a powerful political component.  Individuals in an organization can wield power over others in the same business with the word: “classified”.
If you steal a pencil from the company you can get fired, but if you withhold information you get promoted. Yet the latter can undermine the business and cost millions.

“Letting go of Control is a true sign of leadership”

Hording information may have been successful in the past, but it is negatively impacting business today.

Having doubt is healthy.  We wouldn’t look for more information or bather to seek/ask questions if there were no doubts.

All new discovery is driven by doubting something

The most frightening people (in leadership especially) are the ones who have no doubts.  Because no matter how wrong they are, they will never know it and they cannot be reasoned with

Predators only partner with other predators, not with prey, such as lambs.  If they are not willing to be equal with you, odds are they see you as the lamb on the dinner table.

Hate is gained as much by good works as by evil ones – Marchiavelli

It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver – Marchiavelli

If you find yourself always donning a superhero cape to save someone else from a fire, odds are they see you as a dove; which means you are also on the dinner table

If you share more information that your peers, odds are you are also prey, not a predator.

And finally:

Data is the enemy of belief.  When data challenges a person they move from the intellectual to the emotional response.

Doubt is not to be feared, it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. – Richard Feynman


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The risk of being a Mormon

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I think most members of the LDS faith are Risk Averse.  They are not likely to gamble, they seek steady employment, and generally try to have stable families.

And I don’t think that is by accident.  Much of the church’s philosophies push risk out to after death, or to say that one needs not fear, things are in God’s hands.

And I think this lack of appetite for risk exposes itself as an individual leaves the church. Let me explain

If I were to ask a member how sure they were the church was true they would probably say they were 100% sure.  That is to say, there is no risk that they have made a bad choice.  They might express this as

“I know the church is true”

However, if one talks about any of the details of church history they are less sure.  Even some current doctrines can be skipped over or be less concrete in their minds.  Is Coke against the word of wisdom?

“Didn’t president Monson say it was Okay?  I hear he drinks Pepsi and that is like coke, sometimes I drink a Mountain Dew, I like it better, but not coffee because it is a hot drink, but hot chocolate is okay”

When members learn more about Joseph Smith or church history, they essentially take on more risk.  It’s like doing research in the prospectus for your 401k and not just throwing money from your paycheck into the 401k each month.  “Is Joseph Smith Jr. a good investment”.

And each historical item; Kinderhook plates, 33+ wives without telling Emma, Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, etc. call into question the risk amount there is for following Joseph.

A member may go through periods where they are 50% sure their investment in the LDS church is sound.  Exmormons sometimes make the statement

I am more sure today that the church is not true, than I ever was that it was true

Under what context would this statement make sense?  Well now they’ve done their homework, they’ve read the prospectus, and decided to move their investments to another location.  They are still Risk Averse; trying to find stability, they just found the church is not as stable as it claims.

Dieter Uchtdorf framed the question as

“One should doubt one’s doubts, before one doubts one’s faith”

But once we see the situation as “appetite for risk” this statement (Stolen from a 1920’s Christian Minister by the way) becomes almost ludicrous:

One should remain constant in an investment, even as more risk appears

Imagine you have a portfolio of stocks in the banking industry in 2007.  You look at the earnings ratio, you look at the reserves.  Something doesn’t add up.  But instead of pulling out; you doubt your doubts, and continue to invest.  By 2008, you are a poor person.

Each of us is going to have a financial crisis.  We are going to die.  The question should be “Can the church provide salvation after death for me?”  Given there is little evidence for it, and so many questions about their story and moments were the balances on the books don’t seem to match the actual reserves, a risk averse person should LEAVE the church.

But they don’t; and this is why the Essays and such are so difficult on members.  They want to be Risk Averse.  They are trying to maintain stability; but leaving the church carries with it an immense quantity of “unknown”  It is a challenge.  And so it becomes easier to refuse thinking about the risk; and to fall back on the concept that  “one knows that the investment is sound”.

Maybe the investment is sound, maybe it isn’t.  But it is worth reading the prospectus to figure out; rather than to pretend the risk doesn’t exist.

Similarly, I think the common factor in people I found on my mission is that they were all risk averse; and learned to see the church as a safe investment.

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Breaking Bias

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At my work we had a seminar about Breaking bias by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson.  And if there is one thing all Exmormons know about it’s coping with bias.  We have it.  Our loved ones have it.  And we are aware that most the time we aren’t aware of what our biases are.

I can’t share the actual lecture but I can post some of her work that states the same or similar things:



An interesting bits from the lecture:

  1. Diversity improves teams performance.  Again, science shows that the LDS hierarchy model is sub-optimal (But homogeneous teams think the do better).  One can see this in how all the temples in the world got herbal tea after the 12 added Uchtdorf.  It wasn’t forbidden by the word of wisdom before, but it wasn’t served onsite either (even though a lot of people in Europe and around the world would prefer it).  A little diversity improved the church generally.
  2. Brains are all biased.  Having a brain means you have bias.
  3. The upshot is that one needs to classify bias
  4. The public at large is become more and more aware of bias. But this can backfire.  Knowing everyone is biased tends to push people to “Give permission” to themselves to be biased.
  5. Identical Resumes sent out; with only names altered (Stereotypically white/black names); what they found was white names got 50% more follow-up calls.

How to deal with Bias:

The problem with unconscious bias is that just like your pancreas unconsciously makes insulin and that no matter how much you learn about a pancreas, you cannot increase your insulin production simply by thinking about because it is unconscious.

So the answer is to find strategies to break bias without consciously needing to notice the bias.

First for all bias you must:

  1. Accept that your brain is biased
  2. Label the bias
  3. Mitigate the bias

4 types of bias (COST model)  – Each type of bias has methods that work, but the same method will not work for the others.

  • Corner cutting – Mental shortcuts and rules of thumb Replace systematic, reflective thinking (In the church, for example “I know the church is true” replaces thinking about what PARTS of the church are true.  Knowing Joseph Smith is a prophet let’s one know that Thomas S. Monson is also a prophet shortcuts the entire succession crisis)

Real world example:  A bat and a ball together cost $1.10.  IF the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much is the ball? The quick answer is $0.10.  It’s very available.. but after thinking you have to think more to get to the right answer is $0.05.  More than 50% of Harvard and Princeton students get this problem wrong.

Mitigate this bias –  Slow down.  Get all the information.  Review the whole picture

  • Objectivity – The bias that we believe what we see is all there is.  That one has all the information about what is involved on a topic or subject.  This is not true for anyone.  These come up the most during resource decisions (Spending)

ExampleEven if you know the shades are the same, you’ll still see different shades of grey.

Mitigation Strategy – Slowing it down doesn’t help here.  Solicit different opinions from other perspectives.  Lincoln’s team of rivals.  If you cannot find another perspective; imagine someone who would have a different perspective and try to see how they would see the situation.

  • Self projection – Innate tendency to protect self and in-group and be wary of outsiders

Example – When viewing individuals experience pain; we only have activity in our empathy portion of the brain of people who are similar to us (white participants viewing white individuals in pain, Asian viewing Asians.  Even though they all reported consciouly thinking the pain was the same.  The problem is that this “Empathy portion of the brain” is very correlated with whether we will help others who are in trouble.

Mitigation strategy – Find similarities.  Once one finds ways these people are similar to them the empathy is connected.  This is one reason “N7″ badges work.  One knows the other person had played Mass Effect, and instantly there is empathy created.  They are part of the “in” group.  People in IT can group together against other areas in the organization because they have this kind of empathy for each other.  Helping them find similarities with marketing or finance can help break down this bias (and vice versa for other groups)

  • Time/money – We misread time and money issues because of negativity and proximity issues.

Detecting threat is easier than detecting reward.  It causes us to be more cautious and risk-averse.

Proximity means that we care more about what is going on right around us, but in a global economy that might not be the biggest issue.

Example: This money today or triple the amount tomorrow, most people will take the larger amount of money tomorrow.  But if it’s next month; they don’t take it.

Mitigation Strategy – Take yourself out of the equation.  “What would the new guy do replacing me?”  Might shut down the less effective projects because they haven’t sunk time and effort into them.  Would someone who had never heard of the church start by paying a full tithe, or might they test by paying 0, paying a small amount, paying the full amount and evaluate whether there was a noticeable impact?

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Mathematical proof the church is wrong about marriage

Campaign for the animated MMM here: DONATE

Marrying young and early is not as successful a method as what is presented.  Whether or not any two people CAN live together, happiness is better predicted by mathematics.  Also bonus on how to prevent divorce (Same thing as avoiding a nuclear war):


LDS church statement that any two people can make a marriage work: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/03/oneness-in-marriage?lang=eng

LDS take on Divorce: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/divorce?lang=eng

LDS advice on marriage and dating: https://www.lds.org/new-era/2010/04/dating-advice-from-prophets-and-apostles?lang=eng

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Extra History treatment of the Mountain Meadows Massacre

I dreamed a crazy dream. That we could animate a discussion of the Historical event: “The Mountain Meadows Massacre”. A third party has accepted the challenge to do this for a reasonable price.


Explanation of common questions here:

I know that some people will have reservations about the medium(Why animation?)

Last time we ran the billboard campaign, a lot of people stated they wanted something that was internet friendly, could be shared with family, or could reach the younger audience.

I think this fits all three. It’s independent, which gives it credibility. One could send them the “Punic wars” episode, and be reasonably sure that if they enjoyed that episode; they’d keep watching and hit the MMM episode along the way.

And seeing how these guys dealt with the massive death and destruction of the Punic wars, or the start of WWI in a serious and yet non-gorey manner, made me think they were the perfect ones to make the Mountain Meadows Massacre accessible

Others will want to know about the cost ($5,000)

If they charged $100 / hour for animation (A fairly reasonable rate, I think the average is $80, but the math is easier at $100) this would be about 50 hours, or just over a weeks worth of work. I know the historian puts in a lot more hours than this on each project so just on the history research alone we’re getting a deal.

Couldn’t we do something more effective

I know everyone has an idea how to get reach, and ya know, I’m okay with trying other ideas. But I took a risk, and called these guys with the idea, and they were open to it. I’m guessing that in 5 years, when they have done 30+ episodes this would cost twice as much. It was a chance to get in on the ground floor with a project and get a good price so I jumped.

This doesn’t mean we can’t do other campaigns and other projects, it’s just one more project.

How do we know you won’t just run off with the money?

Ya know, I did do this once before and didn’t run off with the money. In addition, I hope the time and effort I’ve already put into this shows my passion for this project. I want this to happen, so why would I run off with money if I want the project to happen?

In addition, if we don’t make the $5000 in 45 days; everyone gets their money back.

Why pick the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Wouldn’t animations of Joseph Smith humping all of his wives or something make more sense?

Possibly, but this is something that non-members can get behind as well. The atheist groups/sub-reddits can see that this has merit; artistically and historically. Silly animations mocking Mormonism can be done by a broader audience. Something a little more serious with credibility is worth taking the time and doing here.

Okay, I want to donate, but I don’t have much/I don’t know how/etc.

It’s simple, simply click on the link click the button. Any dollar amount helps. Last time the majority of contributions were under $20 (With one huge $1000 contribution at the end, thank you thank you thank you to the giver).

Seriously, anything helps

I just gave my last penny to /u/Kolobot[1] [+8] for the CES letter

That’s fine. I understand. That’s also a fine project. There are many things you can do with your money. This is volunteer, and all I can do is say thank you and try to fulfill.

I live in another country and gave $500, can I still do the lunch

I’m torn on this. Odds are I don’t have money to fly out to wherever just for a lunch. But I’d be happy to get a skype-lunch together of individuals and still have the conversation. I know, that’s lame, but that’s the best thought I had on people who are remote.

I want to give but don’t want the perk

That’s fine, just wave the perk when you donate

I want to give but not through this system

That’s fine, just send money to the paypal account @ MithrynAds at gmail.com

Thank you to anyone who considers giving. I hope this is a great project that helps reach individuals who otherwise know little about this point in history.

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The Church is True… which Church?

Someone proposed an idea that caught my fancy.  When members say “The Church is True” the question “Which church, the one Joseph Restored or the modern one”? can be baffling for members.  And yet the two are very very different religions.   Here is a list of changes that one /could/ wave away by stating “it was changed by revelation” but for which the member would need to cite the revelation that allowed the change for each one; as I haven’t found a revelation for anything mentioned here:

Joseph’s Day
1) New Scripture is added by prophet from ancient records continuously
2) Prophet and seer is defined by ownership and use of a seerstone.  It is displayed and used regularly
3) 12 Apostles, Prophet and first presidency are not apostles.  “First and Second Elder” are positions
4) First Vision referred to Angel Moroni or Nephi’s visit
5) Council of the Fifty handled political matters
6) New revelations and changes to doctrine announced by prophet
7) Common Consent is able to over rule even the prophet’s counsel and revelation. Sustaining is more like a vote.
8) Black people are forbidden from ever holding the priesthood in a series of revelations and speeches.  Black people not from Africa can hold priesthood anyway (Samoa)
9) Polygamy is required in this life to enter celestial kingdom.  3 wife minimum is taught enough that it is talked about all the way to Heber J. Grant
10) Word of Wisdom is optional.  Joseph drank alcohol, kept a bar, drank coffee, and wine the morning he was killed.  Pioneers took coffee at Brigham’s demand
11) One quorum of seventy
12) Bishops paid out of tithing for full time work until 1920.  Missions are not paid
13) Speculation and debate happen at general conference, including arguments
14) Saints are learning new information constantly from the prophet including locations of lost 10 tribes, and space travel
15) Tithing was based on “Interest” not on income. Wealthier paid more, poor paid less
16) Tithing and offerings stayed in stakes were donated
17) Gifts of the spirit were manifested openly in meetings (Speaking in tongues, for example)
18) Wine used for sacrament
19) Women promised to have their own priesthood
Modern Day
* New scripture is no longer translations of ancient records Seerstone is locked in vault.
* Becoming a prophet is defined by length of church service and decisions by Quorum of the 12
*15 apostles, Prophet and first presidency MUST have been apostles
* First Vision refers to Father and Son in Sacred Grove in 1820
* Apostles or PR department speak off the cuff
PR Department handles release of new doctrine
* Everyone raises their hand to sustain, very few times does anyone oppose.  If they do it is ignored.
* Black people are given priesthood through secret meeting.  Revelation is never published.  Official declaration mentions revelation but does not cite it.
* Polygamy can be in the next life (which is contrary to Brigham’s statements on the matter).  Maybe the flaming sword was just for show?
* Word of Wisdom required for temple attendance.  Church does not admit to owning wineries in St. George, or owning majority of State Liquor licenses
* 5 quorums of the seventy
* Bishops and Stake presidents are not paid.  Mission President and above are paid
* Every talk is correlated being changed in post-script if the talk varies from approved topics
* Lessons are the same 72 correlated topics year after year after year. Prophet rarely says new things
* Tithing based on income 10% of gross a lot more for poor and less of a percentdisposable income for wealthy
* Tithing is all sent to Church Headquarters
*Gifts of the spirit freak members out. Limited to testimony baring and maybe some healing in the home (not by wome
* Water used for sacrament
* Women excommunicated for asking about priesthood
Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Mormons and War

A sociology student felt overwhelmed about having to write a paper for their capstone and wanting to do something on the topic of the church.  I put forward an idea that bugged me for a long time:   How did the church go from wanting to succeed from the union in 1857; to being so pro-U.S. military as to be able to alter the torture regulations and write the torture script for the CIA?

Well, the student jumped on the idea, asking if I would do the research on the Mormon history side.  I did.  And that paper exists here.

Or here:


My personal summary is a bit more inflammatory than her conclusion I think.  I think it is because members have been trained to follow the prophet no matter what he says; so if he says to go to war, they do, and if he says to not go, they don’t.  Indeed, I think that comes out towards the end when Hinkley’s support for the Iraq war is perceived as wavering in the final paragraphs of the papaer.

Regardless, we have submitted this paper to Sunstone, and I hope it is accepted.  It’s a great topic and definitely worth exploring.

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Some thoughts on how the LDS church impacts men

Today, as I was helping my son pick out a tie, some thoughts came to me that I wanted to jot down about what impact the church has on a man.

We talk, in the blogsphere, about how women are repressed in the LDS culture and doctrine, and certainly that is the bigger case.  But just because the house down the street is burning doesn’t mean one shouldn’t check one’s own fire alarms in between trying to help.

For example, everything that my kids bring home from primary for me has a tie on it.  In the church this is the defining characteristic of men.  It’s not my beard (Which; honestly is a lot more male than wearing a neck-cloth; just see Fred’s Ascot from Scooby-doo to know what I mean) or even my children drawing pictures of my face.  Father = tie.

My grandfather hated ties.  He said they were derived from the ropes put around slaves’ necks to show bondage to a master.  I researched it, and no; the modern tie does not in anyway derive from slaves.  It comes from the Cravat worn in the 1700’s as a starched cloth around the neck for fashion (Think of the Scarlet Pimpernel).  But yet there is something about the LDS church defining “Manhood” as wearing a tie that has a piece of owning the message to it.  I can tell it’s there, but I can’t quite define it.  It’s like if Underarmor had separate logos for men and women and taught children to only draw their logo for “Father” in weekly classes.  Mixing the marketing with the identity of the concept of “Father”.

And then there are the ideas like that a woman should only marry a return missionary; and someone faithful (meaning a super-active mormon boy; not regarding infidelity).  When my daughters talk about that it hurts.  It hurts because underneath that goal of finding a “Good man” are the shadow words “Not like your father”. It subtly calls my credence into question.

And there is also the line “Worthy priesthood holder”, that is used so often by teary-eyed stay-at-home moms.  It is certainly a pride-inducing and man-shaming concept (Because every guy who ever did anything less that perfection feels guilt when women say that), that puts a wedge between mixed-faith couples with absolutely no need.

And these items maybe more cultural than doctrinal, but growing up in the culture and a student of the doctrine and history; I think it valid to call out failings in all three areas.  Just because the Prophet didn’t say “And women will thank their husbands for being ‘righteous priesthood barers'” doesn’t mean that it has no effect on men.

A friend’s wife pointed out that I only referred to her as “My friend’s wife” and never as her own person (Yes, I’m aware I’m doing it here).  The comment was shocking; and I’ve thought long and hard about it ever since.  I am, so far, just not capable of separating the idea.  I ask myself how I came to think this way, and there is guilt in thinking of her as a separate person, guilt that flows back to mission rules about never being alone with the opposite gender and CHI instructions for dealing with members of the opposite gender and ideals about roles.

High school friends I can separate into individuals of both genders, but after my mission it is almost impossible to think of women as “Their own selves”.  Now maybe the church doesn’t have this impact on every person who serves a mission, but it had this impact on me, and I think it  worth mentioning so that individuals are aware of it and can self-investigate it to.

I know that one day, when I was serving as EQ president, I was working with a young couple who wanted to get married.  She had a history of eating disorders, and he was an artist; unable to get steady work.  I saw it as my duty to help him shepherd his artistic ability and provide for his family.  Exasperated after one conversation I commented on “What does she see in him” and someone else replied “He’s probably a good lover”.

And it hit me; the church never defines “a good lover” as a positive quality in a man.  Never, not once.  And yet women want that.  In all the lessons I had, we were never told to be romantic or to focus on a hobby.  To be interesting, creative, fun.  Never.  Provide, provide, provide.  And I still define most of my success by that metric.  “Did I provide for my family today?”

But life is about a lot more than that.  Spouses want more than that.  Female co-workers, and friends are more than that.   But that was the measuring stick I learned.

Anyway; This was probably a bit more rambling than my other posts, but it was bothering me today.  Thanks for listening while I got it out.

Posted in Current issues | 3 Comments

Heber J. Grant and his family, a timeline of the rise of the modern church

Pre-Nauvoo  Rachel’s family was contacted by a missionary named Jedediah “Jeddy” Grant.  She loved to sing, which was forbidden by her family’s faith.  They were Quakers and were discouraged that she was “all levity” after joining the Mormons

Jedediah Grant marched with Zion’s camp at age 18. He served the first mission in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia where he met Rachel Ivins’ family

William Smith married Jeddy Grant’s sister, Caroline Amanda Grant  in 1833 connecting the Smith and Grant families closely.

1842 Rachel Ivins had Victorian era values… 20 year-old and had charm and refinement. While little is known of her daily Nauvoo activity and interests, her bosom companion was Sarah Kimball

 But in private and informal moments, he seemed distressingly “unProphet-like.”  – Rachel Ivins on Joseph Smith

“He would play with the people, and he was always cheerful and happy,” Rachel Ivins on Joseph Smith

Once while visiting the Ivinses on the Sabbath, he requested the family girls sing the popular “In the Gloaming.” Rachel believed singing and newspaper reading breached the Sabbath and responded with a mortified, “Why Joseph, it’s Sunday!”

1843 – When Joseph sought an interview with her, she believed he wished to ask for her hand in plural marriage. Her personal turmoil over this prospect must have been excruciating

[I would] “sooner go to hell as a virtuous woman than to heaven as a whore.” — Rachel’s reply if Joseph were to Propose to her

Rachel leaves the Saints for 10 years. Heber J. Grant would later say “When plural marriage was first taught, my mother left the church on account of it.” She returned to New Jersey, ailing physically as well as spiritually and planning never to mingle with the Saints again. She would be gone almost ten years.[

In Victorian symbolism, a dried white rose had an unmistakable meaning: better be ravaged by time and death than to lose one’s virtue. While Mormon leaders insisted that their plural marriage was heaven-sent and honorable, Rachel, like most women of her generation, initially rejected the practice. She was, in fact, the quintessence of the nineteenth century’s prevailing feminine ideal.

1844 Charles (one of the publishers of the Nauvoo Expositor) and James Ivins (Rachel’s brothers and Heber’s uncles) joined Law, Foster and Higbee (this was after they learned about plural marriage, and Rachel talked to one of them about a possible proposal by Joseph Smith)

Jedediah Grant campaigns for Joseph Smith as a presidential candidate.

1845 – Jedediah Grant added to First Council of the Seventy

May 1845 – Caroline Grant dies, leaving William Smith a widower.

22 June 1845 – William married Mary Jane Rollins  who left him two months later

1846 -47 – The Bulk of Nauvoo’s population head west following Brigham Young.  About 1/4 follow James Strang. A few remain behind in Nauvoo such as William and Emma Smith.

18 May 1847 – William Smith marries Roxie Ann Grant, Caroline’s younger sister, by whom he had two more children before they separated.  This close connection may explain why William approached Rachel Ivins; and it reminded her to go west and meet up with Jedediah Grant.

May 4 and 5 1849George D. Grant presides at a gathering of saints at Pidgeon Creek.

May 6th, 1849George D. Grant leads group against indians who stole horses

May 29, 1850Captain George D. Grant leads volunteer calvary against indians at Skull Valley

August 8, 9 1850George D. Grant leads 4th company of volunteers in indian battle at Fort Utah 

1851 – Jedediah Grant’s brother Joshua Jr. Grant dies.  Jedediah Grant is made Mayor of Salt Lake by Brigham Young

1853 – Visited by William Smith back east.

April 5, 1853 – Rachel left for Utah. Arrived in Salt Lake City on 11 August, and met with Jedidiah Grant to be lodged, whom she would marry (She was thrity-two years old)

 “One could be happy in the marriage relations without love,” she reportedly advised, “but could never be happy without respect.”

1853 – Grantsville, Utah named for George Grant

1854 – Jedediah Grant added to the First Presidency under church president Brigham Young.

29 November 1855 – Brigham Young chose [Jedediah] as his counselor and as mayor of Salt Lake City. Already much married, Jeddy sought out Rachel’s hand as his seventh wife two years after her Utah arrival.  Brigham insisted she be eternally sealed to Joseph first, Rachel married Jedediah Grant for time only in the Endowment house

1856Mormon Reformation begins.

September 13, 1856 – In multiple “soul-stirring addresses,” Heber J. Grant called on the people to live their religion in minute detail, observe cleanliness in every sense, and set themselves, their families and communities in order. Of those who would not so conduct themselves,“let them be unto you as heathen men and publicans, and not numbered among the Saints.” http://utah.ptfs.com/awweb/awarchive?type=file&item=11947

October 7, 1856 – The first rescue party to save the hand cart companies left Salt Lake City with 16 wagon-loads of food and supplies, pulled by four-mule teams with 27 young men serving as teamsters and rescuers. The party elected George D. Grant (heber J. Grant’s uncle) as their captain.

22 November 1856,  – Rachel has her son, Heber Jede Ivins Grant, nine days before “lung disease,” a combination of typhoid and pneumonia, took Jedediah Grant’s life at the early age of forty.

Heber was named by Bishop Woolley, who performed the blessing and said he knew he’d be an apostle: Preston W. Parkinson, The Utah Woolley Family (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1967), p. 126. The christening is recorded in the Thirteenth Ward Historical Record, Book B: 1854–59, 1 Jan. 1857, Church Archives.

Rachel had given away most of what she had brought from New Jersey (wealth of any kind) and the estate was divided among the wives.  She could come back east at any time if she rejected her religion

17 February 1858 – Rachel remarries for her religion and her son: Brigham told some of Jeddy’s wives to marry George Grant, Jeddy’s brother, as their new husband, they would successfully raise their children She married George on 17 February 1858, resolute in her religious obedience and hopeful for the future of her son to be a faithful Mormon.

The union was a disaster. George, once a faithful churchman, Indian fighter, and hero of the 1856 handcart tragedy was, unbeknown to Church leaders, on a downward course. His erratic and immoderate behavior, apparently due to alcoholism, soon became public. Six months after his marriage to Rachel, George “committed an unprovoked attack on Thos. S. Williams with [the] attempt to kill.” The fracas ended in a street brawl.  Heber is 2 years old

1860President Young dissolved the two-year-old marriage, but Rachel’s hurt never entirely healed. “It was the one frightful ordeal of my mother’s life and the one thing she never wishes to refer to,” Heber remarked in later years.

1864 – For several years she and her son remained at the Grant home on Main Street with a couple of the other widowed and now divorced wives. But the lack of money forced the sale of that property and the break-up of their extended family. With President Young’s permission, Rachel took her $500 share of the transaction and purchased a cottage on Second East Street.

The disappointed and disoriented six-year-old Heber wandered back to the Main Street home and vowed that some day he would live there again

1869 – About five years after moving to Second East Street, Rachel began serving meals to boarders out of her small basement kitchen. Alex Hawes, a non-Mormon New York Life insurance man, helped make her venture successful. Attracted by her intelligence, charm, and culinary skill, Hawes first boarded and then at his own expense outfitted a small room at the Grant’s for his use. His rent and warm testimonials to Rachel’s cooking provided her, as the boarding business increased, with a growing margin of financial security.  In addition, Alex would teach Heber the ins and outs of selling fire insurance.

Rachel was “blessed and set apart” as the Thirteenth Ward Relief Society “presidentess.”  On occasion she prophesied. She experienced uncommon faith and expression while praying. Following priesthood counsel, she used when possible articles manufactured in Utah, and when Brigham Young requested women to abandon their cumbersome eastern styles, she wore, despite ridicule from many women, the simplified and home-designed “Deseret Costume.”

“We all have trials to pass through,” she spoke from personal experience, “but if living up to our duty they are sanctified to our best good.”

1871 – At the age of fifteen, Heber J. Grant joined the insurance firms of H. R. Mann and Company as an office boy and policy clerk. After business hours he marketed fire insurance.

He is also made a member of the 70.

1875 – By nineteen, Heber J. Grant had bought out his employers and organized his own successful agency.

1876 – During his early twenties Heber broadens out into other business activities.

1877-78 – Heber J. Grant is appointed to fill the assistant cashier position at Zion’s bank

Nov 1st, 1877Heber J. Grant marries Lucy Stringham.  He had vowed to capture her before his twenty-first birthday and succeeded with three weeks to spare.  She would die at the age of 34 leaving 5 children between the ages of 4 and 14 (Anna, Edith, Florence, Lucy, and Rachel)

1879 – At the age of twenty-three Heber J. Grant is called to preside over the Tooele Stake.

October 1882 – Heber J. Grant called as an apostle

Believing it his personal ministry to preserve Mormon commercial influence, he launched a series of enterprises. In addition to his insurance agency, he was owner or principal investor in the territory’s leading agricultural implement concern, two insurance companies, a livery stable, a leading Salt Lake City newspaper, a bank, the famed Salt Lake Theatre, and the Utah Sugar Company, which provided Utah agriculture with its most important cash crop. There also were less successful ventures in mining and the manufacture of soap and vinegar. During the Panic of 1893 and its aftermath, his eastern loan brokering and public subscriptions maintained the solvency of his church and many Utah businesses as well.  http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/g/GRANT_HEBER.html

1880’s – successively saved ZCMI, the Salt Lake Herald, and the Utah Sugar Company from their respective problems.  He was one of five Saints who raised the legal and lobbying fees for Utah’s statehood drive.

1883 – Joshua Grant, Heber’s half-brother along with George T. Odell and Heber start the largest wagon company in Utah Grant, Odell & Company

May 26, 1884 – Married polygamously, Augusta Winters.  She was reputed to be the ablest and highest-salaried schoolmarm in the territory.

Once Augusta suggested that each of them point out the annoying habits of the other. Her husband agreed. She mentioned several of Heber’s idiosyncrasies and waited for his suggestions. There was a slight twinkle in his eye, she remembered, and then he replied, “You haven’t one.”

In the late 1880s Augusta took up residence in New York City to try and prevent Grant’s arrest on polygamy charges. Augusta bore one daughter. She accompanied Grant to Japan when he was sent to open the Japanese Mission in 1901.

She would often travel with him when he was president of the church, especially when he went to address non-Mormon audiences. She died in 1952.

May 27, 1884 – Married Emily H. Wells (grant’s next door neighbor) were among the most prominent young orators in Salt Lake society in the 1870s, both connected with the “Wasatch Literary Association”, and Grant was a counselor to Emily’s brother in the 13th Ward YMMIA presidency. The marriage of Grant and Emily was expected by all who knew them. However, Emily then announced publicly her opposition to polygamy. This caused a falling-out between Grant and Emily

Emily went to England to live at the LDS mission home to have her first child. She returned to the United States 16 months later and moved between multiple locations in Utah Territory and Idaho to avoid capture.

April 1886Heber J. Grant drafts his half-brother Hyrum into organizing the Grant Brothers’ Livery and Transfer Company and began a furious war to control the local cab and transfer business.  The local cab drivers were opposed to the Church, and Grant had a difficult time arranging carriages when Wilford Woodruff’s wife died.  Hence he organized a “faithful” cab service.

1887 Edmunds act forbidding poligamy

1889 – Trying to avoid being forced to testify in pending unlawful cohabitation charges against her husband, Emily went to Manassa, Colorado, where she stayed for a year and a half. Grant accompanied her on the train-ride from Pueblo to Manassa, having been on a different train on the previous part of the journey to avoid arrest. Grant stayed two weeks, setting up for Emily the most comfortable house in the town, and leaving his mother to help Emily.[20]:5 She remained in Manassa until March 1891 when she returned to Salt Lake City.

1892UL&T pays its last dividend

Panic of 1893 –  Church tries to resolve it viaNew deal” style solutions

Following the 1893 panic, when Salt Lake City’s tax collector, who also served as an LDS bishop, mismanaged $32,000 in public funds, Grant had led the campaign to pay off quickly his debts without embarrassing the church.

The worst of the depression occurred in the winter of 1893—94, when Utah’s urban unemployment exceeded 25 percent and some laborers in Salt Lake City marched to demand “bread or blood.”

At the same time 1,400 unruly “Commonwealers” — out-of-work Californians traveling East to protest the prevailing scarcity — were camped in Ogden City.

Rachel Ivins gives her personal stocks and properties to Heber to help him through the financial crisis.

1893fire guts the building of the UL&T

1896 – Abraham H. Cannon offers to buy controlling interest in UL&T.  He wanted to use it to back a railroad to LA from SLC.  His money calculations basically used the bank’s reserves to back the purchase of the bank!  Six weeks later he died leaving the bank without reserves and the railroad un-backed.

late 1897 – The church itself owed over two million dollars and was looking for another loan of like amount

May 18, 1897Two employees, Leon Graves and Clarence Barton, who had removed $5,200 from the UL&T vaults and fled east are caught by the police in New York City.  Graves was dead, and Barton was terminally ill. The money was replaced by Joseph A. West by mortgaging his home but a run on bank came from rumors.

May 29, 1897 – Heber J. Grant is 90k in debt at this point.

Thomas J. Stevens- brother-in-law directors and members of Ogden’s Loan and Trust company (UL&T) approach Heber to ask him to save the bank. Charles Comstock Richards and Franklin S. Richards (Sons of Ogden’s apostle, Franklin D. Richards) established the firm. UL&T paid its last dividend in 1892.

UL&T officers, directors, and leading stockholders were a “Who’s Who” of Ogden’s LDS officialdom. General Authorities Joseph F. Smith and Francis M. Lyman owned stock and served as directors. Church’s loan agent in the East that because of the Ogden bank’s links with LDS officials, its failure would “almost sure” cause eastern bankers to demand payment on existing Mormon loans. Utah law made bank officers criminally culpable for receiving deposits after an institution’s liabilities exceeded its assets.  Almost everyone in LDS hierarchy could be held criminally culpable if exposed.

May 30th, 1897George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith and Grant met for three hours to consider the bank

April 3rd, 1897The general authorities further back the UL&T on church tithe money. In case of failure, Stevens reported, “they promised to stand behind us … so that the depositors will be paid in full.”  Meanwhile the Church controlled banks in Salt Lake City, Zion’s Savings and Bank and Trust Company and the State Bank of Utah, were to be asked if they would assume respectively the UT&L’s savings and Commercial banking business.

Late 1897The LDS church owes over two million dollars and was looking for another loan of almost as much

January, 1898 Zion’s Savings loaned $5,000, to the UL&T  and the church itself eventually took a $15,000 second mortgage on the UL&T building and apparently extended the bank about $7,500 besides

May 25, 1898 – Anders Larsen, a disgruntled depositor who believed that his money had been negligently loaned, filed a lawsuit which declared the bank to be “utterly insolvent,” with “no property with which to pay its debts.” (Suit: Anders Larsen v. Utah Loan and Trust, filed May 25, 1898, Case #723, Third Circuit Court, Utah State Archives)

August 8,1898 – Rather than have the financially strapped church give aid to the bank, Joseph F. Smith proposed that Heber J. Grant be deputized to solicit money from its most prosperous members. He asked the First Presidency to call apostle Matthias Cowley to assist him and to sign a strongly-worded letter endorsing the project. “also appended a paragraph which blessed those complying with its Request” (source:  Grant, “Interesting Experience,” 2; Heber J. Grant, “President Grant’s Story about Saving the Ogden Bank,” Memorandum, box 177, fd. 7, Grant Papers; Grant, Typed Diary, August 8,1898. All diaries suggest that the climaxing meeting of the brethren was held on August 8,1898, although the extract in Grant’s Letterpress Copybook, 26:639-40 is dated two days later.) The text reads as follows:

“This letter will be presented to you by Elders Heber J. Grant and Matthias F. Cowley, and we ask you to treat as confidential all communications which they may make to you. We have called these brethren on a mission to raise the funds necessary to save one of the institutions of Zion from making an assignment. We feel that it would be a great calamity to have it fail as it would injure the credit of the Latter-day Saints as a community, and to maintain the community credit is something that should appeal to the patriotism of every true Latterday Saint. We appeal to you to render to these brethren all the financial aid that your circumstances will admit of, and also to assist them to the full extent of your ability to secure means from any of the saints residing in your Wards whom you feel are able to aid in this matter. We fully appreciate the fact that the saints have very many calls made upon them, but notwithstanding this, as sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, we do not hesitate to appeal to you for aid in this matter, knowing that every sacrifice made in aiding any of the institutions of Zion will be sure to bring an ample reward from our Father in Heaven. We assure you that we shall appreciate very much indeed all you shall do to aid the brethren in making their mission a success”

Contributors to the UL&T:

George Q. Cannon promises $5,000 and gives 2,000 check as first installment

Grant asks $2,500 from Alfred W. McCune, a successful mining speculator and soon to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate who was not a member.  He replied “O hell, you cannot scare me with a thing like that,” when presented with the letter.  Heber gave him a pity story and he wrote a check for $5,000.  Heber later stoutly campaigned on McCune’s behalf, rumors came out that Grant had been bought.

Jesse Knight who was a short man with a walrus mustache and given to wearing Homburg hats, Knight was the son of two of Mormonism’s earliest converts, Newel and Lydia Knight.  He had a dream about a silver mine that turned out to be true.  It was called the Humbug! mine as that is what his friends told him when he explainedabout the dream.  Grant asked him for $500 and when turned down he stated:

“When you get home tonight get down on your knees and pray to the Lord to give you enlargement of the heart, and send me a check for $1,000.”

William H. Smart, a thirty-six-year-old Idaho livestock dealer who had been called to preside over his church’s Brooklyn Conference in the Eastern States Mission, had a niece Luella Cowley who was married to Matthias Cowley.  She explained that her husband had been assigned to help save the UL&T. Smart offered between the wide range of $1,000 and $20,000.

After presiding over the meetings of a stake conference, Grant typically would invite church leaders and prosperousmembers to a special meeting. After reading the First Presidency’s letter and touching upon UL&T matters (the comprehensiveness of his explanation seemed to vary with the occasion), he would then solicit an immediate and public response.

“When my name was called,” complained one participant who believed that he pledged beyond his means, “I did not feel like saying that I could not or would not do anything.

John Scowcroft of Ogden, gave $500 and promised to double the amount if his new business prospered.

George F. Richards offered $100 (to do so he was forced to sell 300 bushels of his stored grain), the  Apostle complained to Richards’s ecclesiastical superiors that he was not doing his share to save the institution which his family had founded. Grant later apologized to Richards for presuming to prescribe the bounds of another’s generosity.

George Romney, announced second thoughts about donating. After Grant’s paroxysm of temper, Romney’s business firm made good its $1,000 pledge

When one merchant grandiloquently promised “his time, his talent, [and] his substance” to the Kingdom in a public prayer [in the temple], Grant immediately closed in for a donation.  Grant was upset with the man when he replied that he didn’t expect the Lord to actually take those things.

1900 – UL&T on edge of collapse again.  For over a month the bank’s cash reserves had fallen well under the legal limit. “This bank ought to fix up its affairs,” the examiner wrote, “or go out of the business entirely.” Only his leniency forestalled immediate legal action.

Lorenzo Snow offers tithing dollars to back bank for $30,000 to get it back to within legal reserves limits.

Also during this time period: Rachel Ivins is baptized 8 times to try and restore her hearing, with church members from Idaho to Arizona fasting and praying for her.  her hearing is not restored:

“I watched in breathless silence to see the miracle performed, I saw my miracle . . . eight long agonizing times [she was baptized with no effect] . . . the vision of Aunt Rachel’s beaming smile at God’s refusal to hear her prayer gripped my soul with power to bear.” -Susa Young Gates


August 31, 1900 – The UL&T bank closed up business and requested depositors to call for their money.

Joseph West, recovered what he lent the bank (with interest after lawsuit).  David Eccles sold the bank for 20% increase, Grant became solvent via the Sugar company.  The LDS Church, which spent $50,000 (~$1,200,000) adjusted for inflation in subsidies and lost loans on the UL&T.

1901Heber J. Grant serves mission to open Japan until 1903

1902Joseph F. Smith reversed President Snow’s stand on alcohol being served on church properties and closed the saloon at Saltair, a move which the Protestant clergy heartily approved. Heber J. Grant had long tried to persuade Snow of this move and was key in convincing Joseph F. Smith.

June 1902 – The First Presidency and Twelve agreed not to fellowship anyone who operated or frequented saloons. In the same year, Joseph F. Smith urged stake presidents and others to refuse recommends to flagrant violators but to be somewhat liberal with old men who used tobacco and old ladies who drank tea. Habitual drunkards, however, were to be denied temple recommends.

1903 – At the age of eighty-two, Rachel Ivins retires from the Thirteenth Ward Relief Society. “I am not one,” her resignation read, “who wishes to hold on to an office when I can not do as I wish.” She thus conceded to old age what she had steadfastly refused to grant to her deafness.

1903Heber J. Grant sent to British mission

1906 – A strong prohibition movement developed in the United States, centered in Evangelical Protestant groups.  Elder Grant who had been part of the Reed Smoot hearings, was very aware that protestants saw the saints alcohol consumption as a reason not to allow them into U.S. Politics.

1907First attempt at a correlation committee

December 1907 – Reverend Dr. George W. Young of Louisville, Kentucky, assistant general superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of America, come to Utah and start the Utah Prohibition movement.

1908 – Emily H. Wells dies, (Frances, Emily, Grace and Martha Deseret were her surviving children) Augusta raises Lucyh’s family while Emily’s younger children (Frances and Emily) were brought up by older sisters.

1915 – Apostle tells Heber, the most valuable thing he ever did was convince people to put money into the “Rat hole” UT&L bank

“No matter whatever comes to you of importance, no matter what great labor you may perform, in my judgment you will never do anything greater than the saving of that bank, and having men put their money in a rat hole.” – 1915 Francis M. Lyman


July 28, 1914 – WWI begins

1916 – Heber J. Grant becomes president of the Quorum of the Twelve.  He places himself in the forefront in the drive for Utah prohibition and led several of the state’s World War I Liberty Bond drives.

November 1918 – Heber J. Grant becomes Prophet (until his passing in 1945).  WWI ends on Nov 11th.

Farming and agriculture, two of Utah main industries, slumped badly after World War I and deteriorated still further in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

1919 – Prohibition is adopted by 26 states.

1921 – Heber J. Grant make sadherence to the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom an absolute requirement for entering the temple

1924 – Benjamin F. Grant, Heber’s half-brother, becomes general manager of the Deseret News.  His story is really quite fascinating including his mother leaving the church when Jedediah died.  He was abandoned by his mother as an infant and apprenticed to a stern and heavy-handed Cache County farmer at six, the boy fled to Montana as a stowaway in a freighter’s wagon at the age of twelve. The lad then traveled throughout the West as a miner, cowboy, and laborer. When B. F. arrived back in Salt Lake City at the age of about fifteen, Brigham Young extended a helping hand, giving him work and schooling. But it was not until B. F. was about forty, after bankruptcy and thoughts of suicide, that he returned to the faith of his father. B. F. concluded his career as a convincing preacher to wayward youth, as Salt Lake City’s chief of police, and then in 1924 he became general manager of the Deseret News.

1925 – When Rachel Ivins died, the Thirteenth Ward Relief Society’s liberality in cash and goods exceeded $7,750. The little money left she invested for her sisters in securities which appreciated spectacularly after her death. By 1925 the Thirteenth Ward Relief Society had assets worth $20,000 Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=24013328



1929Great depression begins.  It would last until 1939

December, 1930Harold B. Lee saves Christmas in his stake while only 21 years old

1933 Nazi party begins to be a force to be reckonned with

April, 1936 – The LDS Church establishes its welfare program that materially aided government relief. (Harold B. Lee)

1937 – Heber J. Grant visits the Nazi party to build relationships two years before Germany would invade poland.  He reassured the Mormons that they should remain in Germany and build up the Church there. He promised them safety if they lived righteously. Because of missionary success, Germany was divided into two missions during this visit, West Germany and East Germany, headquartered in Frankfurt and Berlin respectively. He also told the members that they would have to learn to be independent, and that they would have to bear much of the responsibility for the missionary work.

Heber J. Grant sits center, under Nazi party flag

1937 – In General Conference, at 80 years old, Grant said he worked long hours “without fatigue and without feeling the least injury.” He attributed his excellent health, in part, to eating very little meat

1939 – the Committee of Correlation and Coordination is formed

August, 1939 – only one week before Hitler invaded Poland, all 150 foreign missionaries were withdrawn from Germany, and the members took over all the work. Joseph Fielding Smith, an Apostle and future President of the Church, prophesied that all Mormon missionaries would escape Poland and Czechoslovakia without injury and that the war would not start until they were all out. The last Mormon missionaries left Eastern Europe on August 31, 1939. Hitler’s army invaded Poland the very next day.

September 1, 1939 – Germany invades Poland

1941Harold B. Lee called to Quorum of the Twelve Apostles . He is 31 years old.

May 14, 1945Heber J. Grant Dies.  Rueben clark ran the church during last few years of Heber J. Grant’s life (And George albert smith’s)

September 1945WWII ends

1960 –  Under the direction of Harold B. Lee, David O. McKay’s First Presidency directed a committee of General Authorities to review the purposes and courses of study of the priesthood and auxiliaries. The work of this committee laid the foundation for present-day correlation efforts.  More details about this committee are rarely found from church sources because the correlation committee frequently edits itself out of history except to state that it is headed by the first presidency and was founded with authority.  More details to the set up and establishment are here

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How shall we look when we are Damned?

In Alma 14 Alma and Amulek are placed in prison for their beliefs by the ruling priests and politicians.  They face a kangaroo court trial and are smitten.  The whole group of leaders gathers around them and says a phrase that chilled me when I was younger: “How shall we look when we are damned”?  It seem almost gleeful in the idea that individuals would be damned.

Then John Dehlin and Kate Kelly were excommunicated and I read a host of Pro-LDS blogs and sites that seemed to twitter with the same feeling of gleeful damning.

And now I ask the TBM crowd, How shall John and Kate look when they are damned?

This is just a handful of the loving, “Christ-like” approaches for someone who started as very much a believer, asked tough questions, and eventually determined the truth is not in the organization.  So now all the LDS people can chitter on Sundays about how gleefully they are not as stupid as anyone who listened to Dehlin; as they discuss “How shall we look now that we are saved?”


Posted in Current issues, Uncategorized | 2 Comments