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Comparing Correlation to the Supreme Court

I posted this at Mormon Matters, but since I am not there any more, I wanted to preserve this on my blog.  I loved Greg Prince’s biography of David O McKay.  Under the McKay Administration, correlation of LDS church materials made a great deal of headway.  While correlation has cut down on duplication of church materials, it has become a bit unwieldy. I found a quote by Paul Dunn that discussed how correlation has had some unintended side effects, and he likened these problems to the Supreme Court.  We are all familiar with “legislating from the bench”, and there seems to be a similar problem with correlation.  Paul Dunn gave an interview in 1995 and said on page 158,

I think what happened is what’s happening in government today, as I see it now, thirty years later.  For example, the Supreme Court is supposed to determine the constitutionality of a law, but very gradually, the Supreme Court starts to make the law.  That’s what is happening to correlation.  Correlation creates nothing.  That’s the process.  It has no authority to make a statement that creates a position or direction.  That’s totally out of harmony with what President McKay set up.  Brother Lee understood that, and carried it out.  Since the 1970s, I’ve seen the drift, where correlation is now telling me, if I write something to get through correlation, “You can’t say that.”  And I write back and say, “Why?”  And they say, “Well, because we think this is the interpretation.”  And I write back and say, “You’re not the interpreter.”…And that’s where we got lost.  Today, I see correlation, like the Supreme Court, becoming more and more the originator of the thought, rather than the coordinator of the thought….So, while I think correlation is good, I think it’s gone past its original commission.

I think one of the reasons why the church has decided to focus on “the basics” is because it is the “safe” thing to do.  Correlation doesn’t want to deal with controversial theology.  It seems to me that Correlation is all about “dumbing down” the curriculum, because it is easier to deal with.  It is much harder to deal with controversial comments from previous leaders.  So, in order to be safe, correlation removes such hard to explain topics.  (I mean, who can really argue about the need to pray more, read the scriptures, do service, etc?)  Hence, spiritual growth isn’t nearly as vibrant as it used to be.  Only milk is served, without meat, causing spiritual malnutrition.

So, what do you make of Correlation?  Do Paul Dunn’s comments bother you?  Is Correlation too much of a good thing?  Do you think Correlation can ever be restrained, or reversed?

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3 comments on “Comparing Correlation to the Supreme Court

  1. So, what do you make of Correlation?

    Correlation was created to present a common message as dictated by the “brethren”. Not a bad idea on the surface. The problem comes when the common message no longer comes from the “brethren” (essentially what MH has described here)

    Do Paul Dunn’s comments bother you?

    Not at all. He was speaking the truth. I am not afraid of the truth.

    Is Correlation too much of a good thing?

    Yes, as currently set up, it has outlived its effectiveness.

    Do you think Correlation can ever be restrained, or reversed?

    Absolutely. That said, I think a better question is if it will ever be restrained or reversed. I’m not sure that is possible with the current hierarchy structure.

  2. I’ve been listening to Daymon Smith’s podcast on Mormon Matters. I’ve got so many post ideas right now, but I want to discuss his interview when I can get around to transcribing some of the interview.

  3. I guess that comment doesn’t make sense. Daymon discusses Correlation quite a bit, and has some interesting positives and negatives.

    I do hope that we can get Correlation under control, and I hope it can be reversed somewhat, or at least I hope the church will allow more meat into the church. I also listened to a podcast on the Hoffmann forgeries, and it does seem that the current retrenchment can be traced a bit to some of these forgeries. On the Hoffmann podcast, it does seem that Correlation wants to help the new converts more than the older members. I have nothing against the simple things, but let’s have simple things for the new members, and more complicated things for older members. I don’t think the “one size fits all” mentality is helpful.

    The early church was so robust and changing, while the current church is stagnant. I’d like to see a bit more spice. I’d like to see dancing in the temple as a sign of worship like the Nauvoo temple, not the utter silence that is viewed so piously now. “Praise God with cymbals and dance.”

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