“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall ahear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s aheart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their beyes they have cclosed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should dheal them.”

– Matthew 13:13-15

The web is supposedly abuzz about the new Mormon.org site.  Supposedly.  Today, for the first time, I visited the site.  I only went there because I read an interesting article on the church’s new advertising campaign and thought I might as well go and see what the fuss was all about.

I went there to check out a few of the “profiles.”  The “meet Mormons” drop down menu allowed me to pre-select what I was looking for, so I trolled around to see if I could meet someone who might as well be me.  A male, age 25-34.  The first guy I met was named “David Rex” who just happens to be a Mormon “because it’s true.”  He also lives his faith “like [he] mean[s] it.”  The next dude I found was Brandon, who “loves cities” and is “a Mormon.”  He’s also a Mormon because “[his] membership in the church makes [him] happy.”  Another guy is a Mormon because “as [he] makes a correct decision, [he] feels good inside and feel[s] that [he has] made God proud.”  Lastly, I met someone named Michael who had a beaming smile.  I’m a sucker for big, cheesy grins.  He believed in the Word of Wisdom because, according to him, the Lord stated in Section 89 of the D&C that “hot drinks (meaning tea and coffee), tobacco, and alcohol are not good for the human body.”  Go ahead.  Read Section 89 and see if it says all that.  A mix of the favor line rational, questionable understandings about what Section 89 does and does not say, and happy feelings.  Ah, the world is happy this morning.  And, I might joyfully add that it didn’t take much searching to come up with these examples.  Less than 5 minutes provided me with more than enough reading for today.

Though it might be amusing to peruse a few more, that really wasn’t the point of this write-up.  This was mostly in response to a Deseret News article on this new ad campaign.  That campaign is what brought about the new Mormon.org profile pages, trying to connect individual members with individual non-members.  The new Hyde Park, town square, as it were.  The campaign includes billboards, TV, radio, bus platforms and other ways to entice strangers to find their way to Mormon.org and hopefully peruse more than a few of these profiles to see just what makes mormons tick.  While that may or may not be noteworthy, I found the process that brought about this campaign rather insightful.

Just how did the church arrive at this decision to “advertise” itself across a few handfuls of markets in the united states?  Surely it was revelation from heaven, you jest?!  No, not revelation.  There’s a better way to find a way to “advertise” the church:  public perception.  Nice, right!?

Yes, the Deseret News article mentions that this ad campaign “evolved solely from public reaction.”  Scott Swofford, the director of media for the church, likewise used similar wording to describe from whence came this campaign:  “the evolution has been interesting …  for 25 years (the church) has been doing advertising … out of that research evaluating whether the advertising was effective came [the new campaign.”  So, from both the Deseret News and Swofford we find out that this new advertising was an evolution that was 25 years in the making and is based “solely” off of public reaction.  The only comment to the article summed it up succinctly, “Now WE are getting there … ‘Every Member a Missionary’.”  Yes, every member a marketing, advertising missionary that takes 25 years to evolve his or her message to a point where they can bring out a new advertising campaign.  And, no doubt the church correlation department would be rather excited to report that “you will find [the profiles] are very unified in the understanding of what they believe.”  And though it might be fun to celebrate how well correlation has been received, the reasons behind this campaign should get a little more press.

In order to gauge the effectiveness of this campaign, which has increased site traffic to Mormon.org some 300%, one might (like Swofford did) rightfully ask how it might be gauged.  Because, like the Little Prince stated those many years ago, “Grown-ups like numbers.  When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters.  They never ask:  “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?”  They ask:  “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” ” How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?”  Only then do they think they know him.”  That Little Prince may have been on to something with that reasoning, and certainly the church can’t gauge the financial success of this advertising campaign for a few years or so.  Maybe 25.

Swofford interjects with his reasoning that it’s “too early to project” how useful the advertising will be – and truly it is too early for us to see when “seeing, we see not.”  Though I may not be someone who believes in animal cruelty, and though this issue may be a dead horse here in the blogosphere, it nevertheless begs to be discussed.  Whereas biblical and book of mormon prophets came from obscure places, and quite often resisted giving the message the audience needed to hear, now we have opinion polls, focus groups and the like which shapes the very message others see.  As some have mentioned elsewhere, now is indeed the great day of opinion polling and focus group directed marketing.  Image management is everything in this day of deceit and as a result the vision suffers and we’re left to years and years of research to figure out what’s right and how to go about our business.

I’m almost appalled that the vision is so guided by the public that we craft, gear towards and manage “advertising” campaigns based on an evolutionary process that takes 25 years to come to fruition and only then is based solely off the public.  And, yes, the church is even calling it an “advertising campaign.”

Though I have more than a few personal misgivings about Helen Keller, the following quote sums this article up nicely:

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” – Helen Keller

Finishing up that scripture noted above, in Matthew 13:

“But blessed are your aeyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.  For verily I say unto you, That many aprophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them”. – Matthew 13:16-17

May mine eyes see, and my ears hear.  While others may rely on the research and focus groups to show them how to proceed, perhaps we as individuals should take a slightly different approach and seek to have our eyes opened that they might see.

Comments
  1. dyc4557 says:

    I just stumbled on your blog from LDSA’s blog didn’t know they connected like this. But how interesting to hear your reaction. About 4 days ago I also viewed the mormon.org site. What I saw bothered me so much I wrote a comment to the site. This is what I said:
    I first saw this page just today.

    http://www.mormon.org/feature/emily/eng/

    I clicked on the other thumbnails to the right of Emily’s.
    I was struck by how each person seemed so well off, good looking and was
    very much a success as the world views things.
    I then selected the thumbnail on the far left not seeing the name which briefly appears before you click on it.
    It was the Lord. How out of place He seemed among these images of
    people who are so successful, well to do and highly respected among men.
    I thought how foreign it is to His spirit to ask people to come unto Him
    because His followers are all the things the world praises.
    I was raised in the church. I have always been very faithful to the Lord.
    I have always honored and magnified my callings in the priesthood.
    I know my standing before God. I know it.
    I am not sure He approves of this ad campaign which uses His name.

    End of my comment to www mormon
    By way of expansion; an appeal to take an interest in the gospel of Christ based upon the things I saw seems the exact opposite of what Christ said to those who offered to follow Him.

  2. James Steven Graham says:

    I’ve come to believe that truly understanding, seeing our own condition is very, very hard for us. It is so much easier to comprehend the situation an ancient society experienced. To see our own clearly and not through the lens of our own experiences, expectations and biases is so very hard.

  3. Georeg says:

    Steve,

    Can you elaborate on your comment, “To see our own clearly and not through the lens of our own experiences, expectations and biases is so very hard”?

    Would love to hear more on that topic/idea.

  4. Shummin says:

    Ah, I found the same photo you’re talking about and the photo of Christ. We are an odd group these days. A couple of other blogs have poignant articles on this very topic at this time. I very much think that we like blending in – like the chameleon – into our surroundings. Only, it seems, we’ve forgotten just how different we should be from the world at large. We’ve been assimilated into Babylon for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be different and, it seems, enjoy the sameness we find among Babylon at large.

  5. James Steven Graham says:

    We see that the Catholic Church changed baptism from immersion to sprinkiling, but we cannot comprehend that we’ve done the same thing, say, with the temple ordinances. The Book of Mormon talks about polluting the church of God (Mormon 8) or the Gentiles rejecting the fullness of the gospel (3 Nephi), and we think it’s talking of non-members, not those Gentiles who would actually read the warnings.

    Steve

  6. James Steven Graham says:

    That’s the eighth chapter of Mormon. Got changed to a smiley.

    Steve

  7. Steve,

    Great thoughts, and I concur. Thought you might love this quote I found on the internet the other day (found here) in reference to the changes in temple ordinances (emphasis is mine):

    “I enjoy the temple. I am really glad the ordinances have changed over the years. I love the symbolism involved with the actual wearing of the temple garments, and believe that individual members know what is best for how to wear them.”

  8. dyc4557 says:

    On blending in to the Babylonian culture and Mormon 8 and how “symbolism…with actual wearing of the temple garment…members…know best…how to wear them.”

    Over on by common consent there is a really long series of articles by Daymon Smith an uncorrelated history of the LDS church. If you work for a living you probably won’t have time to read it. But I am on part 7 of 9. I will summarize. It is important.
    The LDS churches efforts to evade the US governments attempts to destroy the living of plural marriage lead to a profound change in the way church members lived their religion. It changed from living it with their bodies and hearts integrated both doing the same thing to a way of living that your mind believes one thing but your body must do another. You believe in truth but you must lie to allow your mind to believe that truth.
    Brigham Young believed that faith was a power which made it so when he raised his arm to the square and commanded in the name of Christ the miracle happened. Bruce R. McConkie under “priesthood correlation” teaches that faith is belief. One has a mental and physical effect the other is just all in your mind.

    This shift enables current day LDS to live in Babylon and go along with the actions of the Babylonians and yet convince ourselves that we are “true followers of Christ” because of what is going on in our minds.

    What say ye? Will that way of being prepare us to live with God and Christ in the Celestial world? Both the chameleon life and the symbolic wearing of physical garments is morally acceptable with this mind body split.
    And as for Mormon 8 this is something really important to help wake up other people. It is the church of God in our day which will and is being polluted. (Oh please save me from the environmental 1970’s interpretation of pollution! Mormon is talking to the pollutions in Mormon 8:38 these are people. I agree polluting the physical environment is real bad but it is a symptom of polluted hearts and minds). Remember the church is people (D&C 10:66-67) A polluted person is what pollutes the holy church of God.
    Let us teach these truths call upon God to unlearn the false traditions riveted upon our minds and begin to live the Gospel of Christ with heart and body as one. Flee ye from Babylon. If you have left Babylon with your heart you might seriously consider how to flee it with your body.

  9. James Steven Graham says:

    Another example comes to mind. I was in a Gospel Doctrine class where the Elder’s Quorum president commented that he was glad that the doctrine of the Church does not change. This was right after we had talked about the giving of the priesthood to all worthy males.

    I pick on that brother because it struck me so hard. He may have missed the irony of what he said, but I have no doubts that that same blindness exists in most of our lives.

    I think the Savior commented on the blindness of the people in His mortal ministry. Human nature does not change. Unless we realize our blindness and petition the Almighty for vision (as in Lehi’s dream), we will all likewise perish.

    Steve

  10. James Steven Graham says:

    Suggestions on fleeing Babylon with your body?

  11. dyc4557 says:

    Oh wow Steve you called me on it! Well at least I really do have some suggestions.
    Pray and ask the Lord to teach and lead you. Teach you what are the things of Babylon that you should get rid of. Examples: taxes (it isn’t just about not being robbed it is about being free), public school system (look at defn. of priestcraft in2 Nephi 26:29 then read Alma 1:12 enforcement is a government action use of the sword so you see public schools are the enforced priestcraft and is destroying this people one child at a time), modern medicine a mixed bag at best, public media (TV and TV news especially is a great “brain washer” which in Satanese means “mind polluter” seriously I can not find a better example of how to bring upon us the curse Nephi spoke of in 2 Nephi 28:31 than believing what you see and hear about politics and morality in the news media let alone all the rest think of Fahrenheit 451 and the arrest of Montague scene. We have no more verification of what we see than the characters in that movie/book)
    Okay you get the idea on the need to identify Satan’s system which we are hooked into. No one but God can show you these things in a way that you will act upon them.
    Now ask Him to lead you. How can I get free of Satan’s grasp in this thing? Don’t give you agency and future over to another even if it is your parents or priesthood leader. God will not support you in giving your choices over to another person. It is spiritually lazy. It is not His plan. Only personal use of agency, you personally making the choice is righteousness. Placing anyone else, ANYONE in charge of deciding what you should do is Satan’s plan not the Father’s. Jesus said Thy will not mine be done but that was by his personal choice not because someone told Him to do it.
    Think of Lehi, Alma, and others in sacred history. They had to be close enough to God to be able to physically leave their homes and seek refuge for their family and sometimes others in another place. This is very individual. God may not want you to move or just not now. But you need to be willing to keep your mind open to the possibility and willing to act upon it if He says to move. The voices that say, “You can live the gospel wherever you are. God will protect us not matter where we choose to live.” do not take in to account that it certainly wasn’t true for Lehi, Alma, Abraham, Lot, Jared and his brother. Living the gospel means living by every word which comes from God. But we must seek it. It will never be told us as part of the correlation program or even in General Conference.
    I my case all it really took was a complete sincere desire to receive all things in my life from God’s hands meaning desiring for my life only what He desired for me. In 2 1/2 years I was out of the US and awake to a whole new reality. And all of it happened as I just tried to do what was right. I had no thought whatever of such great changes happening when I began to pray in that manner.
    You may not be lead to leave where you now live. But if you truly seek to be free of Babylon for sure you will be an instrument in liberating yourself and perhaps many, many others from Babylon’s bondage and her soon to come destruction.

  12. James Steven Graham says:

    Thanks. Glad to see you had given this thought.

  13. Justin says:

    Daymon’s work is really informative if you want to understand why things are the way they are in the Church (TM) today. If you think the nine-part posts were taxing to read. I’ve downloaded his dissertation on the subject — and it is an amazing thing to read, all 500 pages of it.

  14. Polluted says:

    Thought you might find this interesting (from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary):

    Word: Pollution
    Definition: In a religious sense, guilt, the effect of sin; idolatry, &c.

  15. Aron says:

    Thought this excerpt from a news article might be worth sharing:

    “Mormons are very good at marketing themselves,” says Dr. Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University. Balmer says Mormons “… understand the principles behind marketing. They understand the principles behind public opinion and they are not adverse to try to use the media to advance themselves, whether it’s the tabernacle choir or a series of advertisements on television.”

    We understand the principles behind (a) selling something and (b) public opinion.

    Hmmm.

  16. Tim says:

    Scott, I just wanted to thank you of helping me learn about communication.

    You taught me all the things not to do when I work with my future clients’.

    I learned not to threaten others, and not to alienate them because of their personal beliefes

    Most of all you have taught me not to judge others.

    P.S. I noticed the changes to mormon.org that was a step in the right direction.

    You taght me not to fear God but to fear man, you taught me a falsehood about thepeople within the Church leadership. I nopw know not to fear leaders of the Church because they see things not as you see them. Thank you for all you taught me, you are an exellent teacher.

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