Improvement Era Ads

One way to keep good relations with important customers is to support their “cultural enterprises,” such as paying for ads in their magazines.

While the building of churches was during the 1960s directed by “local” leadership, the Church Architect’s office had to approve.  This meant that wise salesmen had to reach widely distributed consumers (e.g., magazine ads), and keep their product message before the eyes of the persons who had to approve the consumers’ purchases (e.g., ad buys).  Synergy!  So long as income could be found outside “The Church,” moreover, these magazines had a measure of independence (even though their subscribers were Mormons, the headquarters didn’t fund the entire operation).  But when Correlation under Lee purified the magazines, and eliminated advertisements, the devil’s bargain that came from advertising, and the independence it granted, was lost.  Yet we inherited many traditions — some bound up entirely with mass produced kitsch — that shape our sense of being “Mormon” today.

So, you’re wondering why churches are built as they are, why that sort of door, that carpet, organ, and lighting?  Would it be a church without Splen-door Folding Doors, a Baldwin Organ, a copper-clad steeple, and Bigelow Carpets?  Is the architecture really designed to serve us as we serve God, or is it because the manufacture of church interiors on an industrial scale happened to immediately precede Correlation?  Are churches, no matter how conservatively built, a necessary expense?  How many Mormon chapels from the 1830s have you visited?

We’ve inherited a design aesthetic, which like nearly everything else now called “Mormon,” derives from the huge capital investments made in the 1950s and 60s, when Americanism became Consumerism, with promises of standardized material and the economies that would make possible a global market growth strategy.  What really is “Mormon,” after we strip out the trademarks, copyrighted material, Sunday scripts, Reader’s Digest Furniture, dress codes and all the other cultural kitsch and superstitious religious paraphernelia introduced over the last 50 years, often with the intent of serving God and Mammon? You have people reading the Book of Mormon.

What else should we add?   Why does standardized curriculum follow standardized building and purchasing?  Do efficiencies in one generate efficiencies in the others?  Are ideas really the same thing as furniture?  Have they become the same thing, in effect, because it is convenient for administrators?

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