On Saturday I went to an LDS stake leadership meeting via satellite. I soon realized that I wasn’t too interested in the two major messages, the importance of trying to preserve the family and the subordination of all Church auxiliaries to the priesthood. I’ve heard those a few times. I remain unconvinced that Jehovah and Joseph Smith were advocating marriage and the family as we know them, and being an old auxiliary leader, I know that it is unwise to expect much help from the priesthood.
So what else was going on? The single stake Primary president next to me counted all references to individuals–as apart from families, as she always does–and found only one. I waited for any condemnation of gay relationships and found it conspicuously absent. The reference to women working was grudging, but positive. Are we evolving here? I was interested in the “quality of the teaching,” assuming that this must be the absolute ideal, as I watched Elder Oaks speak on and on to an attractive group of leaders from the Philippines allowed nary a response.
President Faust’s statistics on the dissolving and disappearing nuclear family showed this to be a dramatic and international phenomenon, not likely to be turned around by sermons about buying pleasure boats and paying for music lessons. On the way home, Richard, who always has good things to say, proposed that the problems of the contemporary family stemmed from buying into three major systems: capitalism, democracy, and science, all anti-God and anti-family and so deeply ingrained they can never be countered.
So the sub-text of the meeting had much to offer in the way of LDS cultural commentary. But, of course, I didn’t get it all. By accident I attended two RS meetings the next day and heard two lessons on how all listeners were responsible for what they got out of meetings and how they must pray, fast, and prepare to get all the important messages. I also heard many heartfelt testimonies about how rich and valuable the leadership meeting had been, how prevalent the spirit, how much they had learned. Isn’t it a wonder that we communicate at all, let alone love and value each other?