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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Worth of a Soul is $752.3 Million

by Ben Johnson (bio)

In the book Starship Troopers an interesting conversation takes place between a soldier and a professor at the military academy. They debate a hypothetical situation where, after a protracted and vicious war between two countries, prisoners are being kept by one side. The question posed to the soldier is "are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war?" Without hesitating he answers in the affirmative. The professor then says "Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?" This time the soldier isn't so quick with his response. After much thought the soldier comes to the conclusion that the worth of just one man is sufficient reason.

What if the conversation was about souls instead of men and we were talking money and not war? What do you suppose one soul would be worth? Let's think about this in terms of something we can relate to. How much money do you think the church spends each year on missionary work? I’m talking about keeping the lights on at the MTCs, printing copies of the Book of Mormon, running the I’m A Mormon campaign, pass along cards, other radio and TV advertising, etc. Add that all up and you are looking at a check with a lot of zeros on it.

Someone cleverer than I could suss out a fairly accurate dollar amount and then divide into that the number of convert baptisms each year. That would give you how much we spend for each baptism. Do you think there is some sort of 'return on investment' that the church has to have in order to continue to spend the money on missionary work that they do? Would the church spend that amount of money if they knew they would only baptize 10,000 people? 500? One?

During the presidential campaign, radio host and Saturday Night Live alum Dennis Miller spent a few days campaigning with Mitt Romney. I don't know how well they got to know one another but I do know that Mr. Miller came away impressed. On his show he remarked:
I've probably met other Mormons, but the two that I've met are Mitt Romney and Steve Young ... two of the greatest, coolest, smartest, hardest working guys I've ever met. So when somebody comes to me and says, ‘You gotta watch the Mormons ... they're a cult, they're weird!’ I go ‘Yeah? Where do I sign up?’ Because if you had to pick two emissaries from every faith and say "Alright, make a call on what you want to be after meeting these two cats" I'd go with them [Mormons].
Then, after the election, he had this to say:
I would say this. I am a believer. I do go to church, not on Sundays, you know, that part of the ritual doesn't interest me. But when I want to ask for something for someone or if I want to thank God for a blessing he’s given me or if I just want to talk to my deceased mom I’ll go down and I’ll hit my knees and pray in the church that’s down at the corner.

I am not a student of religion, but I do know this: if Mitt Romney is emblematic of Mormonism, I have made a pledge to myself ... I want to know about Mormonism today because if that’s what it’s yielding up, indeed I think it’s one of the noblest of endeavors ...

I certainly can take some time out and read about Mormonism and what it is in there that yields up a man like that; who I must confess is one of the most decent individuals I've ever encountered in my life.
It is reported that Mitt Romney spent over $752.31 million on his campaign. If, after spending all that money, all he had to show for it was one conversion2, would he be pleased? Would it have been worth it? Obviously I can't answer that but it is an interesting topic to think about nonetheless.

Individuals often make great financial sacrifice for the health and salvation of bodies. I wonder if we would do the same for souls?


1. This was as of September 2012. I realize that not all of that $752 million was Mitt’s own money. I’m not sure how much was actually his but it probably wasn't a trivial amount. Also, I’m not trying to intimate that I know what Mitt Romney would consider a ‘good deal.’ This post is strictly hypothetical.

2. Clearly I don’t know what will result from Dennis’ research into Mormonism. If he decides it is something he wants to align himself with then I would welcome him. If he finds it doesn’t work for him then I wish him Godspeed.

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