Tag: Church Organization and Structure

Christmas Devotional 2008

President Uchtdorf said that the angels came to the shepherds, the poor, not to the rich. At one point in my life that would have bugged me. Today I realized that the rich should want it that way. If you’re wealthy and still looking for something, you don’t want to be told that your wealth is all there is.

Each in his Own Language

BYU’s Religious Studies Center recently announced that it had begun publishing books in Spanish, Portuguese, and German, an encouraging development, given how little is being produced outside of English. In his blog post about the news, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel writes: Today, it is estimated that there are nearly 7,000 spoken languages in the world, of which some 2,600 have a writing system. He goes on to say: Equally impressive is the effort to provide translations of the Book of Mormon to the world. Today, the complete Book of Mormon has been translated into seventy-nine languages, and selections are available in another twenty-three languages. This represents 99 percent of the languages spoken by Latter-day Saints. Efforts continue to translate this book into more languages to fulfill the Lord’s command. What he doesn’t say is that, in terms of the work still to be done to fill the directive in D&C 90:11, that “Every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel…

A Marvelous Work and a Cacophony

Last week’s sacrament meeting was unique. While on the surface it was just the annual Primary Sacrament Meeting program, the room was packed and the overflow took up most of the cultural hall. But the best part was the congregational hymns, a joyful cacophany that mangled the hymns, making them hard to understand, but communicating clearly the spirit.

12 Questions for the LDS Newsroom, Part One

Representatives from LDS Public Affairs who manage and direct the Newsroom site at LDS.org agreed to respond to a dozen questions submitted by the T&S permabloggers. We are pleased to post the first six questions and answers below, with the second set of six to follow shortly. We appreciate the time and effort that went into preparing these detailed responses. They should help make the Newsroom an even more useful resource for LDS readers.

BYU in the Memory of the AAUP

Among the other academic spam that I get are regular emails from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which is always eager to remind me of their fights for academic freedom, higher salaries for professors, and various trendy and hip progressive causes. Today, the AAUP sent out an email commemorating the ten year anniversary of its censure of BYU. I thought that readers might enjoy a trip down memory lane to the bad-old-days of Mormon intellectual life in the 1990s and a view of events through outside eyes:

What is an Association Worth?

This past week I received a card in the mail from the BYU Alumni Association, asking for my help in “editing” my biographical information in an “Alumni Directory” in preparation. While I’ve certainly given the Alumni Association biographical information in the past, for some reason this time I started asking myself “is this worth my time?” and, in the Mormon context, “is this worth anyone’s time?”

What is Our Marvelous Work Today?

The development of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been marvelous, but our sense of just what it is doing has changed quite dramatically from one decade to another. When Joseph Smith first went to (what in hindsight we call) the Sacred Grove,

Girls’ Rules

My older sister was a great athlete in the old days (before Title IX), and just retired as the athletic director at a high school. Talking with her the other day gave me the idea for this post, so blame her if you don’t like it (isn’t that just like a little brother?). I thought I had a vague memory of watching her, when I was 8 or 9 (mid-1960s), play some odd form of basketball. Was I just imagining it? She laughed and proceeded to explain the mysteries of girls’ rules. This meant first that there were six players instead of five, and that two players were on offense full-time, two were on defense full-time, and two were rovers. The offensive and defensive players had to stay on their respective side of half court, while the rovers, you know the two girls in every group who were a little more athletic than the others, were free to run the…

LDS Historical Sites

A couple of months ago I heard a presentation on the general topic of historical sites that the Church owns and manages. I came with a pocketful of snarky questions but left with some appreciation for how tough the task is and (on the whole) how well the sites are set up and managed. I’ll give a couple of paragraphs summarizing the talk, then a couple of paragraphs commenting on historical sites I have visited.

Natural Succession or the Prophetic Death Card?

Does God control who is Church President by ending life (using the “death card”)? Or does he control who is President by controlling the order in which Apostles are called? Of course, both can be true (or neither depending on your theological persuasion), but let’s examine these questions systematically.

Correlation Gone Mad!

BCC is hosting an all-star panel of academics on questions relating to correlation. Talking about correlation reminds me of a time from our history when doctrinal correlation efforts were incredibly restrictive.

I am now officially not young

It happened not long ago. I started getting emails from something called the Cambridge Stake MSA. As is my habit with all mass mailings, I deleted the first few without reading them, but after a while I noticed them and realized that I didn’t know what MSA stood for. Turns out MSA is the “Middle Singles,” which is everyone 30-50 years old who isn’t married. In the eyes of the church, I am no longer a “Young Single Adult.” I’m just a “Single Adult.” I am now officially old.

The Principle of Non-Distraction

A short while ago a recently reactivated member of our ward sang a solo for the musical number in Sacrament Meeting. You must understand that the man is a professional vocalist who has sung with Michael Jackson among others. The song he sang was absolutely gorgeous… but it wasn’t something you often (or ever) hear in a Sacrament Meeting. Rather it was a Spiritual. Now, I don’t know enough about music to fully appreciate this genre but I do know that I was genuinely touched by his performance. (But it also gave me a twinge of discomfort-by-proxy. I immediately wondered what the westerners (i.e. not-african heritage) in the congregation thought.)

David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism

David O. McKay presented a dramatic contrast to his predecessors: an athletic, movie-star-handsome, clean-shaven figure who often wore a white double-breasted suit; contrasted to the dark-suited, bearded polygamists (or, in the case of George Albert Smith, son of a polygamist) who preceded him as Church President ever since Joseph Smith. In an age prior to professional image-makers, he instinctively grasped the importance of appearance, and coupled it to the substance of a professional educator to become an icon of Mormonism whose persona did much to change the negative image of the Church in much of the world.

Did We Raise the Bar too Far?

The number of missionaries is down about 15,000 from its peak. The number of convert baptisms is down about 20% per missionary. Retention rates are also down. There are numbers of young men who would be willing to serve missions who are not allowed to because of sins that would not have barred them from missionary service previously. Is there a link here?

Benefiting from the Keys

Way back in the dawn of time, we had a rather lengthy discussion about the appropriate role of criticising Church leaders. Apparently this topic is still interesting enough to prompt comments, so I thought I’d put my two cents in. Actually, I thought I’d try to put in Elder Eyring’s two cents.

The English Nature of the Mormon Constitution

The Church has a certain amount of constitutional law, by which I mean norms and rules that govern and control its institutional structure. What is the nature of this constitutional law? I would submit that the Church ends up being more English than American. Priesthood quorums illustrate why this is so.

Called to Criticism

A couple of weeks ago, the mail man braught me my long awaited copy of the first volume of B.H. Roberts’s Seventies’ Course in Theology. As you can imagine, it has been a heady time around the Oman household. In reading it, I came across what I am sure would be Aaron Brown’s dream calling:

The Church and the Tribe

The church seems to have replaced the tribe as God’s pattern for organizing his people–or has it? When God covenanted with Abraham, the covenant was with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:7-8+). This covenant was to be fulfilled in part through Abraham’s righteous leadership as a father

(When) are bloggers permitted to criticize church leaders?

This topic has come up in recent posts around the bloggernacle. For example, Rusty at Nine Moons discusses an instance where a bishop committed all of the men in the ward to “1) To never watch an R-rated movie ever again. Also, to never watch a PG-13 rated movie without his wife’s permission. 2) To use the internet (at home presumably) only with his wife’s permission (by assigning a password on the computer that only the wife knows).” The comments to Rusty’s post include a number of attacks on him for posting criticism of the Bishop. (e.g., “did you pray [before posting this critique] . . . I can say with absolute certainty that you could not have“). Meanwhile, Steve at BCC wonders whether he is allowed to criticize conference talks for style. (The BCC commenters, perhaps inured to Steve’s views, haven’t yet asked him if he prayed before posting them, but I suppose it’s just a matter of time).…