Leonard Arrington on Church Office Culture and Magazines in 1973

I don’t have anything particular to say here, only that I’d like to increase my short posts with a thought, a historical observation, etc., often from my dissertation work. This is from Leonard Arrington’s journals, Dec 4, 1973, talking about the chain of command with the newly reorganized Church magazines.

It would appear that what [Editor] Jay Todd can run depends upon what he thinks [magazine supervisor] Brother [Doyle] Green will approve, what Brother Green will approve depends upon what he thinks [Correlation head] Brother [Daniel] Ludlow will approve, what Brother Ludlow will approve depends upon what he thinks ‘the brethren’ will approve, what the apostle advisors will approve depends upon what they think President Lee will approve.

All the way through everybody is second-guessing the one next above him in authority. Everybody seems to be terrified that if he makes a mistake the prophet will lash out demanding to know ‘who authorized that,’ and the responsibility will be lodged with some particular person.

The thing that disturbs me is so what? What is the Prophet going to do to you if he finds that you have made a mistake? Is he going to slip out his bowie knife and cut you down? Is he going to put you in jail? Is he going to peremptorily fire you? Surely of all people in the world the prophet is most compassionate and most understanding, so if we make a mistake in the process of doing something great—or in the process of doing what our inspiration tells us is the right thing and the best thing, surely he will not be vengeful and hold that against us the rest of our lives.

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2 thoughts on “Leonard Arrington on Church Office Culture and Magazines in 1973

  1. From the perspective of modern research on effective organizations, the culture of fear described here is both ineffective and miserable.

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  2. From my experience working at Church Magazines 25 to 30 years after Leonard made this observation, I can affirm that the same culture of fear still prevailed, only it had become far more entrenched. We used to refer to the managing director’s office (the highest level of paid employee at Church headquarters) as the place where good ideas go to die. I counted for one particularly daring article we published. It required 14 different approvals. And it wouldn’t have been published at all if we hadn’t gone over the heads of the middle managers directly to the director of Correlation. This is what happens when you assume that every organizational decision has to be inspired. The top-down culture was extremely oppressive, and quite unnecessary.

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