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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Habits of Highly Effective Mormons (With a Little Mysticism Added)

"Did you see the article on Romney that mentions Stephen Covey?" The husband asked me Sunday.

I had not. Not only was it on the front page--and who reads the front page of the Sunday Times?-- but also it was about Mitt Romney. Since I am as likely to vote for Mitt Romney as I am for my mittens, I tend to avoid articles about him. Perhaps this is foolish. Perhaps it is willful head-in-the-sand behavior. So be it. I also avoid op-ed columnists who write about him. So much more efficient than reading them. I'm either going to agree with them, after all, or want to shoot them, so why not take a longer look at the photo-spread of the contact sheets of the photo shoot for the album cover of "Heroes" by David Bowie? And then throw in another load of laundry. (The husband told me about that article, too, by the way. He seems way too relaxed on Sundays.)  I do, however, always check with the husband that Gail Collins mentions the story about Mitt's family dog on the car roof in every piece she writes on him. He says, yes, she did, and then I am free to enjoy a knowing chuckle at cocktail parties when people mention Gail Collins. Or Mitt Romney. Although I don't spend a lot of time around people who mention Mitt Romney. Or at cocktail parties. Indeed, I don't think I've been to a cocktail party since 1995. Safe in my little bubble, I am.

Anyhoo, the article, by Jodi Kantor, was about Romney's faith. Her thesis is that while he hardly mentions his Mormonism in public, it is the bedrock of his existence. While in public, he's practically secular, in private, he's "demonstrative about his faith." Or if not only in private, at least away from the "spotlight."  She gives several examples, including him bursting into song about Jesus and meddling--well, that's a loaded word isn't it?--but, yes, meddling in the affairs of a married couple who felt they both needed jobs to live in the Boston area.  Mitt's commitment to doing good extended to helping the couple redraw their budget, so that the poor woman, pregnant with her first child, wouldn't have to work outside the home. One wonders how far out of Boston they had to move to achieve this little dream?

But this article isn't about Mitt Romney. It's about someone a little more important. See, in this article, Kantor mentions that "Mormons have a long tradition of achieving success by sharing secular versions of their tenets." This is according to a book by one Matthew Bowman. This Bowman says Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is "Latter-day Saint theology repackaged as career advice." 


Not that this information about his religion is hidden. About a minute on the interwebs verified it. Did you know he used to preach on the Boston Common? Did you know he opposes same sex marriage? Did you know he has one wife, 9 kids, and 52 grandkids? Now you do.

So the really weird thing about this information is that I was just the other day wondering where Stephen Covey came up with his whole theory. I mean, before he was the success guru, he was just Stephen Covey. Stephen Covey, Mormon, apparently. You might even say I asked the universe a question, and the universe answered.

Come to think of it, there was another question I asked the universe just last week, too. I went to the dentist, and I was sitting there getting scraped and polished, and I thought, I wonder what my teeth would look like if I never went to the dentist. And then I went to interview my next subject for the newsletter I write for every month, and I got my answer. The universe provided AGAIN. (FYI, picture this: you take a piece of soft cheese, like Laughing Cow, and you hold it under your tongue and then squish the cheese so it extrudes around your teeth. Then you let that stuff harden. That's what you look like if you don't go to the dentist. Nice guy, though. A priest. Probably has no dental insurance. Ask the universe. The universe provides. Sometimes.)

I digress. You know, Stephen Covey started an international business called Franklin Covey. He has an online community, which you are free to visit, and perhaps to join. Aside from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which you've heard of even if you've never read it--like The Book of Mormon--he has several other best selling books. And he is Mormon. Then there's Mitt Romney. If any of you is tempted to rail about The Illuminati, can we just take the spotlight off the Jews, and turn it towards the Mormons? Do you have to be a Mormon or play a Mormon on TV to achieve worldly success?

Does it matter that Stephen Covey is Mormon? No, it does not. As long as he remains secular in public. He's not foisting his Mormonism upon his readers. Nor is his religion the only religion that stresses leading a life of principle. Nor is following a religion at all necessary for living a life of principal, I might add. 

Perhaps he was hoping to knead his readers into nicely rounded dough balls through all his 7 habits, and then to pop them into the Latter Day Saints' oven and pull them out as nicely browned Mormons, one by one, once they'd finished the book. The book's been out for a long time, however, and I haven't seen any reports about a vast increase in the number of Mormons.* So I think we're safe to assume that the secular life is still possible, even if you're reading Stephen Covey.

image via Wikipedia
Possibly, people just don't want anything to do with that special Mormon underwear. I know I sure don't. I tried it. It itches.

*Holy Molloly: Alerted by an alert reader, I must report the following, from today's NYTimes: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has experienced explosive worldwide growth through its missionary work, particularly in countries with large black populations. In the United States, it is the second-fastest growing religion, according to a recently released decennial census of religions."


  1. See today's Times for vast increase in number of Mormons. (Probably not due to Covey, though).

    Do you think Mitt Romney really believes Joseph Smith discovered those mysteriously missing bronze tablets in upstate New York? Really??

    1. OMfG.
      Do I think Mitt really believes that? I suppose he does. Further reason for bury head in sand and voting for Obama.

  2. 'twas the special underwear that saved you from life as a successful Mormon, I see. As someone who repurposes vintage slips into outerwear, I am sorry to say that challenge has taxed the limits of my imagination.

    I adore Laughing Cow cheese. I've never wondered what my teeth might look like if I never had them cleaned, but maybe that's because I obsessively check my cat's teeth every morning and already know.

    Bundle principles together and what do you get? Organized religion, with variations on the packaging.

    1. Aww, now, c'mon, I'm sure you can find a repurpose for some nice white muslin! Please!!!!!!