So, Will they be any more or less correlated than they are now? Without the social contribution of a classroom, digital Sunday Schools will become Twitterized: a time and a season to meet and embrace are supplanted by digital timelessness and the seasonless meets of constant, limited-character realtime instruction. Classroom feedback is limited to FAQs and Up-Or-Down Votes. Self-Help text-messages might become significant sources of ad-revenue. And so on.
Content Correlation, long ago intended to reduce repetition for the sake of mailing cheaply a box of manuals to Chile, will at last achieve absolute repetition. Cost-effective and aligned with diagrams of authority, he’ll find a seat on the wagon of time. Yea, Brother Content will arrive to the Right Place, if only an image of actual content. And that image will seem surprisingly like a fluffy pastiche of generic nostrums and abstract vapidity, for actual texts are made to serve every You, no matter the time or place. Thus, let us lament Dear Sister Discursive (for one must pass away in these stories).
Economies of scale work in favor of Correlation. Indeed, Correlation had as its aim the construction of a generic Mormonism, one that could be circulated around the globe and speak the same words, give the same meanings, no matter the cultural or historical context. Practically speaking this has certain limits: only a few select commodities, fashions, terms, logos, architectural styles, graphic designs, furniture, and so on can be mass produced and circulated around the globe under the banner of authorized Mormonism. Church leaders are realizing that one cannot, however, generate a unified, faithful body of Christ (let alone prove, or know that such a thing exists) by specifying dress codes, vocabulary (“content”), right books, approved internet sites, proper beverages, film genres, sofas, pews, paint, fixtures, and chapel designs. (Unless one simply redefines “faithful,” of course.) This has all been the result of Correlation – that is, every change somehow was required to explain its subordination, organizationally, administratively, cultural, to that term. And yet the loftiest goal of Correlation – the descent of Enoch shadowed on the horizon – has no serious expected Arrival Time.
The same lament for Good Sister Discursive. Her post-mortem might look like this. Once mighty, unfailing, and a sure channel to heaven, she began to fade when distinctions between speech, meaning, and content (i.e., authorized curriculum) likewise faded; religious discussion was overtaken by online posturing and posing. (For what? Invisible eyes, perhaps; Watchers; Twitters?). Spontaneous talk among Mormons is replaced by “messaging” whose principal intent is to create insecurity: social measures, in short, team-making. With so little variation in her diet, Sister Discursive contracts a spiritual scurvy, tongue malaise, and then, a full-blown case of cynicism is declared; finally aphemia reduces her to silence. She dies before arriving at the Happy Valley of Numbers where a Church of Correlates collectively blather, mince, and repeat.
But there’s always the future, right? One can always put off the serious investigation into the purposes, value, and good of some aspect of religion by relegating its accomplishments to the “spiritual,” to the “personal,” to the distant and ever-distant horizons of the future. So long as this relegation of inquiry into the value of Correlation, and obvious delay of the day of its reckoning, is considered a matter of “faith”, well, Brethren and Sistren, there can be no serious changes to the course thus far plotted (if not actually run) by Correlation.