Saturday, May 01, 2004

Blessed business

Some years ago, my brother in law told me:

When I was younger, I thought that college students really knew what they were doing. When I became a college student, I thought that business people really knew what they were doing. When I became a business person, I realized that nobody knows what they're doing; we're all just making it up as we go along.

Recently, in the hall at church, I mentioned this to one of our high councilors, who does organizational development for a living. He told me that in his line of work, he's discovered how true it is. He mentioned that there are very high levels of incompetency in American business, and then said something interesting: he said that the economic success of the United States is not due to greater competency here than in other countries, but because the Lord has chosen to bless America.

A few questions that come to mind in thinking about this exchange: Does God alter the natural consequences of our actions when he blesses us? Should we view the economic success of America as evidence of divine favor? Is it true of spiritual matters as well as temporal that we're all just bumbling along?

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated--And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)

If this high councilor is right, what might be the laws America is obeying to warrant God's blessings of economic prosperity? Does the United States fit the requirements outlined in the Book of Mormon?

Behold, do ye not remember the words which he spake unto Lehi, saying that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land? And again it is said that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. (Alma 9:13)


  1. I think our blurring proximity to our own current state combined with out short attention spans migh skew our perception of where we are in the old Humility->Blessings->-Prosperity->Pride cycle. Seems to me like the cycle takes several generations to run its course, and who knows but that one's economic prosperity might be the "result" of the righteousness of previous generations, while one's own state might be precariously poised at the cusp of a downward dip. In this morning's sacrament meeting the person saying the opening prayer alluded to our collected "chosen" status, and I felt a pang of worry.


      [Comment originally posted by: Jeremy | Homepage | 05.02.04 - 5:23 pm]

  2. Your high councilor's explanation seems a little simplistic to me. But the circumstances of our country are unique. Economists as far back as Mill and Marx have observed that we've got something special here in the complex economic workings that lead to prosperity. One of the reasons sometimes cited by economic theorists is that as a new country, we didn't have so much of the entrenched, old-fashioned economic (and class) system to deal with and overcome to slow us down.

    I'm open to the idea that God helped set in motion the these (or other) factors that led to an economic environment more conducive to success. But I'm skeptical that God has been a whole lot more actively involved.

      [Comment originally posted by: Logan | Homepage | 05.05.04 - 8:50 pm]

  3. Combine relatively available resources, free and open markets, and a legal system that respects private ownership of property and makes provision for bankruptcy, and you'll have created an environment that creates economic wealth.

    Is that a good thing? Dunno.

      [Comment originally posted by: greenfrog | 05.10.04 - 10:05 am]

  4. Hmmm... and it seems to me that we claim that God has been involved in at least two of these: relatively available resources and a legal system that respects private ownership.

      [Comment originally posted by: Grasshopper | Homepage | 05.10.04 - 10:41 am]