DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

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Doctor Scratch
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DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Quite a stunning admission from DCP in the comments at SeN recently:
Tracting was an abysmal waste of time. In Lauterbrunnen as everywhere else. I understand that they do very little of it these days in Sweden, and I hope that's true today in Switzerland and Bavaria, too.
He actually *hopes* that the Church has abandoned its missionary efforts in these places? I.e., a place that he’s been extolling as the most beautiful place on the planet? Perhaps he doesn’t want any of the young elders to spoil his nightly double helping of fondue? This is one of those moments where “the mask drops” and you get to see the contempt he holds for the Church “numbskulls” who wasted his time by sending him there in the first place.

But it also once again underscores his hypocrisy. He’s ecstatic about vacationing in a place which he openly hopes there is no tracting going on, and yet he can’t be bothered to pay a visit to the DRC to hang out with all the “wonderful” and “humble” Latter-day Saints in that part of the world. Is it because the cheese fondue isn’t up to his standards?

Quite revealing, in any case.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by drumdude »

He does seem to gravitate towards secular countries.

Maybe that’s why he’s not keen on visiting the most faithful saints in Africa? He’s content knowing they’re living their pious little lives somewhere less beautiful.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by Gadianton »

Lots of things are a waste of time. Reading a book (the whole thing) is a waste. Writing an article (own work) is a waste. Missions and service and genealogy is a waste, or policies are so complicated surrounding these efforts there's no point trying. Basically, the only thing that isn't a waste is travelling to exotic places, staying in nice hotels, eating good food, and socializing with "upper crust" people. It's really nuts, as religion is supposedly is the apex of human endeavor, but just about everything associated with it is a waste of time, unless it relates to lifestyles of the Christian aristocracy prior to the 19th century: listening to chamber music written by a believer in a ritzy palace while being served grapes (or mini sausage links for those who don't eat fruit).

Has Sic et Non converted more non-members than tracting has? Did the low turnout conference in Rome convert more people than tracting?

The most iconic Chick tract of all time that really defined the brand was a tract called This is your life. It's about an arrogant non-believer who waltzes around the world carefree, enjoying a life of leisure and the finer things, and ignoring God. It's basically a tract about what DCP imagines life is really about, save the alcohol and tobacco.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by Physics Guy »

Presumably Peterson is criticizing the specific practice of handing out little religious pamphlets, not evangelism in general. The contrast is often drawn between making personal contact with people in conversation and relying on pre-printed texts that may not speak to most people.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by Alphus and Omegus »

I think you are correct here. "Tracting" refers generally to knocking on doors of complete strangers in the hopes that a person will answer and be receptive. This almost never happens anywhere. It's much more effective for people to refer their friends or family members to the missionaries, this is the origin of the "every member a missionary" initiative.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by malkie »

Alphus and Omegus wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2024 6:08 am
I think you are correct here. "Tracting" refers generally to knocking on doors of complete strangers in the hopes that a person will answer and be receptive. This almost never happens anywhere. It's much more effective for people to refer their friends or family members to the missionaries, this is the origin of the "every member a missionary" initiative.
Slightly off topic - sorry.

My little branch in Scotland struggled for many years with not enough locals to really sustain the organization, and we leaned heavily on the missionaries - of which we usually had 3 pairs - to teach classes, administer the sacrament, give talks, etc.

I remember one day the Relief Society Pres asking some missionaries to do something - move chairs & tables or some such. The District Leader asked her if she thought it was OK for her to tell missionaries what to do - "Why don't you get the members to do it?" She replied: "Last time I looked the missionaries were members too!"

Back to the topic - In the 10 or so wards/branches I've lived in, I've never seen significant numbers of regular members (myself included) who were not called as missionaries really take "every member a missionary" to heart. Certainly not the way I see Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, do so.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by Moksha »

I can understand Dr. Peterson's point of view. People are tired of being hounded by LDS missionaries for the umpteenth time. They probably become resentful at the mere mention of the word Mormon, which perhaps is one of the reasons President Nelson now calls it a "devil word".

In Europe, people will even cross to the other side of the street if they spot a couple of missionaries up ahead. Besides, internet baptisms with soon-to-be members simply clicking a yes box will return higher results. Enterprising missionaries could up their reporting status to 2000+ per month with a little sleight of hand.

The numbers would be welcomed back at HQ and might even justify an Outer Hebrides Temple.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by I Have Questions »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2024 3:17 am
Quite a stunning admission from DCP in the comments at SeN recently:
Tracting was an abysmal waste of time. In Lauterbrunnen as everywhere else. I understand that they do very little of it these days in Sweden, and I hope that's true today in Switzerland and Bavaria, too.
He actually *hopes* that the Church has abandoned its missionary efforts in these places? I.e., a place that he’s been extolling as the most beautiful place on the planet? Perhaps he doesn’t want any of the young elders to spoil his nightly double helping of fondue? This is one of those moments where “the mask drops” and you get to see the contempt he holds for the Church “numbskulls” who wasted his time by sending him there in the first place.

But it also once again underscores his hypocrisy. He’s ecstatic about vacationing in a place which he openly hopes there is no tracting going on, and yet he can’t be bothered to pay a visit to the DRC to hang out with all the “wonderful” and “humble” Latter-day Saints in that part of the world. Is it because the cheese fondue isn’t up to his standards?

Quite revealing, in any case.
It is revealing. Because what he’s actually criticising as an “abysmal waste of time” is the inspired missionary programme of the Church, as designated by the Church President and Prophet of the time. He’s criticising the inspired decision taken by his Prophet and the Lord.

David Covey liked to say “The key to the success of the door approach is belief. If you believe you’ll get in-you will. If you don’t-you won’t.”

The problem wasn’t the programme, it was DCP’s attitude towards it that was abysmal.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by Kishkumen »

Gadianton wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2024 4:03 am
Lots of things are a waste of time. Reading a book (the whole thing) is a waste. Writing an article (own work) is a waste. Missions and service and genealogy is a waste, or policies are so complicated surrounding these efforts there's no point trying. Basically, the only thing that isn't a waste is travelling to exotic places, staying in nice hotels, eating good food, and socializing with "upper crust" people. It's really nuts, as religion is supposedly is the apex of human endeavor, but just about everything associated with it is a waste of time, unless it relates to lifestyles of the Christian aristocracy prior to the 19th century: listening to chamber music written by a believer in a ritzy palace while being served grapes (or mini sausage links for those who don't eat fruit).

Has Sic et Non converted more non-members than tracting has? Did the low turnout conference in Rome convert more people than tracting?

The most iconic Chick tract of all time that really defined the brand was a tract called This is your life. It's about an arrogant non-believer who waltzes around the world carefree, enjoying a life of leisure and the finer things, and ignoring God. It's basically a tract about what DCP imagines life is really about, save the alcohol and tobacco.
Interesting post. It makes me wonder what time well spent actually is. And why do we have this metaphor of "spending" time? Or "wasting" time? What is the origin of these metaphors? Time is a commodity in a society that places monetary profit above everything else. You waste time if you are not using it to make money. Enjoying high culture is the fruit of all of this virtuous spending of time prudently, which leads to the profit that well-spent time creates.

If I recall correctly, Brigham Young once dreamed of a day in which people would only have to work 4 hours a day (not on the Sabbath, of course). These days, the virtuous person, regardless of political persuasion (in the two-party schema), must be about making money all the time.

In my unprofitable line of business, we academics are tasked with increasing the value of our institution's education by pumping out articles and books all hours of the day, or we are "unproductive." Pumping out the articles and books is actually valued much more highly than teaching students.

Right now, the most valuable guy in my department is gone 25% of the time, bagging lots of fellowships in Europe, and doing almost no departmental service (certainly less teaching than others). His third book just came out. This is what being at an R1 is all about. Your kid comes here to be at the place where this happens, not to be educated by this person, who isn't there anyway. He's in Europe writing his next book.

The brand and the sales hype are what it's about.

In this respect, what DCP writes about may be, in the end, really good for the LDS brand. He advertises a sophisticated LDS life of faith, travel to exotic places, and appreciation of the good things in life. And he reassures you that being LDS is rewarding and respectable, not silly. If you think it's silly, then how can you enjoy it? Something will gnaw at you, and you will enjoy being LDS a lot less. In the competitive environment of consumer capitalism, a person will choose to spend their time in more entertaining and reassuring ways than Mormonism, if all you get from Mormonism is the gnawing sense that people think you are a clueless idiot.

I don't doubt DCP's sincerity. And I don't think his quote about the abysmal waste of time that tracting represents is being interpreted fairly here. These are his reminiscences about his missionary experience, no? And I think he is entitled to share how it honestly felt to him after the fact. In California, I think tracting worked pretty well. I and my companion baptized someone whom we tracted out. It may be that if I had tracted more assiduously I would have enjoyed more success from tracting. I tended to do it less because I found it somewhat frightening.

So, if tracting yields very few baptisms, then it is, according to the values of our culture, "a waste of time." The LDS Church gets very few baptisms from it, and thus it yields very little tithing at the end of the day. Other forms of missionary work do better at bringing in the tithing.

Where does tracting come from, then? Actual Christian values, not the values of American civilization. Tracting comes from the idea that every person needs to be contacted because you must give every person the opportunity to hear the good word of salvation.

Unfortunately, the medium does impact the message. American consumer capitalist values cannot help but influence the thinking of American Christians. I would say distort, but I am biased. American Christianity tends to look like a bunch of moneymaking charlatanry because of what the values of American civilization do to Christianity. Mormonism is caught up in the same. Indeed, it was born in the same. Its story is one of tension between moneymaking and Christian values. Ensign Peak is evidence of the victory of moneymaking American civilization over Christianity.

Tracting is a waste of time.

It is crucial to interrogate what we are about.
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Re: DCP: “Tracting was an abysmal waste of time.”

Post by sock puppet »

Tracting was an "abysmal waste of time." The only thing that worked when I was out on a mission (eons ago), was contacting families a few weeks after one of their loved ones had died. Mining the obituaries, we called it. One instance involved a 45 year old son of the decedent. The son had been in and out of prison for dealing drugs. While we were giving him and his wife the discussions, he told his dead father had appeared to him in a dream and told him what he was hearing from my companion and I was true. So the son joined. Just a month or two after that, he stopped attending church meetings. A couple of months after that, he was arrested again for dealing. But that was more fruitful than tracting.
Gadianton's realized on his mission: the "core of the gospel of the actual church is high-pressure sales, it literally is Amway...And you really got the feeling that if you didn't enjoy high-pressure sales or weren't enamored by hierarchies, that there was no place in the Church for you."
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