“Another Important Step Forward in the Restoration of the Gospel”

1584118Yesterday, President Oscarson announced on her Facebook page that she was now assigned to be a member of the Missionary Executive Council. President Burton is now a member of the Priesthood Executive Council (which has been renamed the Priesthood and Family Executive Council) and President Wixom is now on the Temple and Family History Executive Council. In an article in the Deseret News, former General RS Presidency member Sheri Dew said that “This is yet another important step forward in the restoration of the gospel.” A few remarks about this change:

1. First, I think the history here is interesting. In a 2005 interview with Greg Prince, former General RS Presidency member Chieko Okazaki, who served from 1990-1997, said:

We asked one time if we could be on the building committee and the temple committee, because sometimes we think, “Why did they build it this way?”—because it doesn’t work very well for the women’s needs. And we wanted to be on the temple committee, because there are many things that affect women in the temple. But we were never allowed to be a part of those committees. I think we could help a great deal, but you have to have leaders in the Church who are willing to make that possible.

So it is interesting to see this change come about.

2. I love Sister Dew’s framing that this is not a mere administrative change but rather part of the Restoration.

3. Note that the title of one of the council was changed from “Priesthood Executive Council” to “Priesthood and Family Executive Council.” I suppose there are various ways of looking at this change. Perhaps some will complain that the change signals a desire to distance women from the priesthood. Maybe. But in light of Elder Oaks’ significant talk on the ways in which women exercise priesthood authority, I don’t know that that is the only way to look at it. It might also suggest that the Real Business of the church is not just “priesthood” but also “family,” which naturally leads to a greater role for women. (And I’m not ignoring the fact that recent teachings/emphasis/rhetoric about the family is highly fraught, but that’s a topic for another post.)

4. This change is one of many in recent years which increases the sphere of women; these changes include having women pray in general conference, the missionary age change, missionary leadership roles for women, etc. Michael Otterson (Managing Director of Church Public Affairs) recently stated that there is “momentum inside the church organization” to “address inequities.” Not only is this a good in itself, but I think it has had (and will continue to have) another really important effect as well: I can remember the days when people would make up theological justifications for the fact that women were not allowed to pray in General Conference (something about needing the priesthood to invite the Spirit, if I recall correctly). But I’ve noticed recently that much less folklore is being generated in defense of current church policies, perhaps because folks realize in the wake of these changes that creating folklore to sustain past practices creates problems when policies change. I think these changes also help members to realize that, while the church is certainly inspired in many ways, it shows a lack of historical awareness to suggest that every single policy and practice in the church reflects the express will of God. It gets harder and harder for apologists to argue that the status quo is perfect in this environment of frequent changes. (Hint: no one who believes in continuing revelation and/or a fallen world should ever argue that the status quo is perfect.)

5. Looking at the long game: Primary children are being raised in a church where they hear women pray during “church on TV” (do all little kids call General Conference this?), where female leaders are regularly quoted by high church leaders and in church magazines, and where there are lots and lots of sister missionaries. This is their normal. That is a good thing.

6. According to the Deseret News, this announcement was made on President Oscarson’s Facebook page, not through the Newsroom. I am one of many who has expressed deep concerns about the role of the Newsroom (long story short: in a church that makes a huge deal about proper authority, unsigned and sometimes-conflicting missives are going to create problems). Perhaps having President Oscarson make the announcement was about having a woman’s voice be primary, but–whether intentionally or otherwise–it also showed a model for how the Church can function with a Newsroom with a smaller footprint.

7. I am a little disheartened by how often the idea of “hearing women’s voices” came up in the various statements related to this announcement. It should go without saying that listening to women is a good thing. However, the model of listening to women conveys–intentionally or otherwise–that men are still making all of the decisions. It would be nice if we could eventually move beyond that to a model where women shared in decision-making. Now that I’ve complained about that, here’s the glass-half-full part: the more we hear how important it is that women have a voice on church councils, the harder it becomes to justify women’s exclusion from all of the councils upon which they currently do not have a voice–the most important of which to my mind are disciplinary councils. Not to mention all the others. But, echoing Sister Dew and President Uchtdorf, the restoration is ongoing. I’m looking forward to the next change.

49 comments for ““Another Important Step Forward in the Restoration of the Gospel”

  1. Great step, taken out of the moderate Mormon feminist playbook. The fear being that once this concession has been given progress in this area stops. The studies cited in Neylans book show that real change doesn’t occur on councils until at least three different female voices are there. Until then it’s more symbolic than anything, I think.

    The family bit sticks in my craw – if Oaks said we have ph authority, we have ph authority. Sigh.

  2. I love your take, Julie. Particularly your point in #7 about how it’s always a male “we” who are “hearing” a female “they.” It will be a great step when women can actually be part of “we,” part of the decision-making. Also, I really hope you’re right in #4 that when Church practices change, that this is pushing us in the direction of less spinning of supporting folklore.

  3. The use of the term “restoration” seems a bit odd. Was there a previous Priesthood and Family Executive Committee that included women?

  4. Yes, this seems like a step in the right direction. And it would be nice if the Newsroom would post a chart identifying the committees that actually run the Church, and even a hint or two about who is or isn’t on them.

  5. Brian: I’m not sure there was a PEC or PEFC anciently. But there were certainly women who were involved in running the ancient church, even being identified (depending on your translator) as apostles/deacons/etc themselves. It wasn’t a men’s club anciently. So bringing women into leadership would indeed seem to be part of the restoration.

  6. “much less folklore is being generated”

    O really? And yet in this article we have a 100% bureaucratic policy change being sold as part of the “restoration” of the gospel. Talk about selling ourselves short and watering down all meaning of the restoration in the process.

    Don’t be so unquestioning of cultural folklore that you accept as a given.

    I have no problem with women being included in counsels. I have problems with pretending now we are finally on the right path compared to those prior who were apparently in the dark ages.

  7. I really liked this post.

    As much as I am frustrated by women’s inequality in the church, I cannot argue against the fact that we are moving the right way. The process has been very slow, but over the past decade I don’t think there have been any steps backward. Every change so far has been a good one.

  8. Brian, when I read Moses 4 and 5, to me it seems pretty clear that Eve and Adam are making executive decisions about priesthood and family as a committee. I think I would say that things have regressed ever since then, but the end goal has always been to get back to that. I very much consider gender equality to be a still unfinished part of the Restoration, one Joseph Smith was arguably working toward before his death. Brigham Young didn’t have quite the same vision Joseph did and went back to 19th-century world norms. The second prophet being a step back from the first is not unusual—compare Moses and Joshua or Abraham and Isaac or Jesus and Peter.

  9. mirrorrorim,

    I agree that things are generally moving in a positive direction, but there have a few recent steps back. As one example, The 2010 church handbooks says that home dedications should be done by a priesthood holder; the previous edition allowed discretion for a sister to offer the prayer. Another example has been excluding sisters from serving as stake clerks; some stakes had allowed sisters up until about 5 years ago.

    Again, the overall trend is positive. Here’s hoping this trend continues with some other very-doable advances:

    1) Call miamaids and laurels as visiting teachers, just like teachers and priests are HTs. This seems like a no-brainer to both help the YW have more purpose and to help transition to RS.

    2) Allow women to serve as ward clerks and executive secretaries. Not only are women good fits for these roles, including them would mean that sisters are part of the weekly bishopric meeting.

    3) Allow women to serve as witnesses and recorders for temple baptisms. There is no doctrinal reason to exclude sisters. Not only would this offer meaningful opportunties for service, it would ease the burdern for wards/families doing temple trips. Currently, wards are required to bring 7 brothers and 1 sister (who basically just holds towels for the kids). The result is that quite often families are split up for most of a saturday (dad is needed for the temple trip; mom has no purpose in going). This change would allow couples to both work together – thereby keeping families together for this time commitment.

    4) (admittely a stretch) Allow YW to prepare and pass the sacrament. Under D/C 20, only priests are supposed to “administer” the sacrament. In the late 1800s we expanded to allow the current participation by deacons (pass) and teachers (prepare), but there is no scriptural mandate for that. Simply speaking, these activites do not require a priesthood office. We could open them up to YW.

  10. Only recently have women been prohibited from serving as secretaries in Sunday School presidencies, so that’s another recent step back. But I think we’re seeing a couple of steps forward for each step back. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

  11. Slow progress forward. Let’s be clear as well, credit is due to Kate Kelly, Let Women Pray, Feminist Mormon Housewives, reporters, historians, the bloggernacle, and other sincere groups “agitating” for change. Recent changes (whether they be step forward or cosmetic) would never have taken place without the agitation and awareness, and probably the stats showing sisters falling off the cliff of activity at 18.

    Next Steps:

    1) go back to keeping RS Presidents, YW and Primary Presidents in for life (as it once was)
    2) re-naming the RS- the “Order of Priests” and the women’s organizations something besides “Auxiliary” (ridiculous name!!!)
    3) Continue to incorporate women in policy and procedural areas of church administration (would not require revelation)
    4) Concerted effort for revelation regarding women’s roles- ushering in new revealed phased of restoration.

  12. Mortimer:

    I don’t know how the Church made it for such a long time without Kate Kelly and the “agitators” (a term many historians and scholars who have researched and written on women’s issues would reject).

    1. Are your sure you want anyone outside of the apostles with life callings? I wish apostles could be relieved of their duties due to age. Such callings and the related travel are demanding on aging individuals and families. Everyone save apostles are released or granted emeritus status for a reason. I like the idea of many people have opportunities to serve on various committees.

    2. Why rename the RS? The name has a noble history. I don’t believe we have reject the past why making structural improvements (which I believe are guided more by revelation than activism).

    3. Women sitting on the leading committees has already been accomplished, and calling anyone to these committees does imply revelation.

    4. I think there are plenty of revelations which go unappreciated from an activist’s perspective, lIke Dallin Oaks’ conference address.

  13. Dave K, Lots of good suggestions. The only one I think might be ill-advised is calling YW to be visiting teachers. The VT relationship does not mirror the HT relationship, which is typically cordial and helpful, but rarely penetrates the surface. (Of course this is a generalization with many exceptions.) There are a number of reasons. When the whole family is present, many issues are not raised. Another reason relates to differences between many men and many women. As one male visitor to the RS I lead exclaimed with great surprise after a typically open and honest class discussion: “Women talk!” In the right environment, they gladly do. One of those right environments is small groups of only adult women. Good VTs make personal friendships and welcome personal discussion between 2 or 3 women. Subjects might include health concerns, difficulties raising children, personal loss or doctrinal questions. Women need and seek that kind of discussion. Having a YW present would squelch it.

  14. Mortimer 13 I think it would be better to have the other members of the committee including Apostles retire at a given age, say 80. If there are more than 3 on the committee there need to be more women, so perhaps one woman from each presidency on each committee.

    Dave I would exclude YM from HT for the same reason. I have a HT who would listen and help, but he will mot find out my problems while he has a youth with him.

    Hopefully these changes will also be implemented at ward and stake level. There could be a woman from each of the auxiliary (agree problematic word ) in Bishopric and stake presidency meetings and then one of the other meetings could go. What decisions does a Bishopric make that should not have the input of the female leaders. I remember coming home from Bishopric meeting to tell my wife we had decided to change the meeting time, and she gave me a list of reasons why that would be problematic. She was RS pres.

    What might the church look like in 10 years, if the next Prophet is Oaks, or if it is Uchtdorf?

  15. Molly, that is a fair point. I was focusing on the YW. It’s just as important to consider the affect on those being taught.

    Julie, a few thoughts as I’ve pondered this change more:

    1) It’s just odd that the announcement was made by the new committee members rather than those who lead the committee. I wouldn’t expect that newly-called apostles would announce their appoint themselves – much less on fb. So why was this “revelatory” change not announced by those who actually made the decision?

    2) In my ward council, we emphasize that each member is there firstly as an equal member of the council and, secondly, if at all, as a “representative” of their respective auxiliary. Thus, the Primary President is not at the ward council to “represent” Primary’s interests; she is there because she’s part of the council that runs the ward.

    Because of this, it strikes me as odd that the newly-appointed Sisters are deemed to be there as representatives rather than just normal council members. This is especially odd considering that (to my knowledge) other auxiliary heads are not being similarly invited. If the Gen YW president should be on the missionary committee because lots of YW serve missions, well shouldn’t the Gen YM president also be on the committee because even more YM serve missions?

    If I’m correct, then we should admit that the primary reason for these appointments is to get women onto these committees, not because the RS/YW/Primary have some unique information to offer the committee. And that’s just fine in my book. There should be women on the committees. But I wish we’d admit that the root problem – the reason sisters have not previously been there – is that we exclude women from priesthood office.

  16. The name “relief society” doesn’t need to be changed (although there are compelling arguments against it b/c since the church’s humanitarian division took over relief efforts, the name is no longer descriptive). I’m referring to the word “auxiliary” which is insulting and should be abolished.

    Unless and until the brethren begin retiring, the women need to stay in place and stop cycling through every two to five years. First, they don’t have time to acclimate to the entrenched GA system which is position and tenure-based. By the time they figure out the politics, they are gone. In a culture where the GAs select chocolates and enter doorways based on seniority, always being the new kid on the block is quite a disadvantage! Imagine a woman with as much tenure and respect as elder packer being able to take a stand on something! (Hopefully women’s issues instead.)

    Second, 5 yrs isn’t enough time to successfully deploy an initiative. Anyone remember sister Okazaki and sister jack’s literacy initiative???? No? Well, despite being potentially revolutionary and quite visionary, it came and went. The next president had another agenda. This fall (?) everyone laughed when once again when the name of RS homemaking meetings was changed yet again, but the names aren’t the only thing flapping in the wind. The mission, motto, theme, and purpose and agenda of each of the women’s organizations flip flops like pancakes on a griddle.

    Third, there is a compelling argument that the gen RS president is an office of priesthood mirroring the male priesthood and as such, the RS gen presidents should be in the position for life as ordained officers, not just called positions. (I realize this is controversial and not acknowledged). Historians may help me, but the change to release female GAs came during the mid century when these organizations lost their mission, funding, magazines, curriculum, and political voice. Coincidence? I think not.

  17. That’s possible, Dave K. It’s also possible that the Lord excludes women from priesthood office and has inspired church leaders to set it up this way. I’m curious what makes you confident in your conclusion? No snark.

  18. The Relief Society is auxiliary to the priesthood. It is not an end in itself, it’s purpose is to support the purpose of the priesthood, which is to carry out the will of the Father in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    If that purpose of the priesthood sounds like God’s purpose, that’s because the Priesthood is representative for God. That’s what makes it miraculous. That’s what makes rejecting and criticizing priesthood leaders offensive, because they represent the Lord.

    The priesthood could actually exist without the RS, but not vice versa. That doesn’t belittle the RS, as the RS most certainly rises to the occasion in helping to fulfill Gods purpose through his priesthood.

  19. Geoff-Aus, I’ve been worried about you lately, you’ve been consistently missing the three talking points that used to constitute every comment you made on LDS blogs, no matter what the topic. I’m glad that with comment #20 you seem to be getting back on track.

    “Old men leading the church should be retired” Check

    “Uchtdorf as the next President of the church” Check

    The only one you missed is, “Conservative Utah culture masquerading as the gospel”.

    Hopefully next time you will be back to your old self and hit all three.

  20. “Historians may help me, but the change to release female GAs came during the mid century when these organizations lost their mission, funding, magazines, curriculum, and political voice.”

    Not exactly. Emmeline Wells was the first RSGP to be released, just a few weeks before her death in 1921. Since then the RSGP has not served until death. The changes in curriculum and magazines came in the 60s and 70s.

  21. 25 Your food allergy. To me it depends on whether you see the eternities as a patriarchy or equality of opportunity. If you read ‘all are alike unto God, black and white, bond and free, male and female” it seems that to God equality is the order not patriarchy. If it had been an issue then it would also have said gay and straight.

    So to God equality but we have still not overcome patriarchy. More restoration coming.

    Sorry KLC being held back by conservative Utah culture. Almost forgot.

  22. Geoff, I think it’s interesting that you ask in #16 about what the church will be like in 10 years if Brother Dallin Oaks or Brother Dieter Uchtdorf is president, since I personally see them as opposite ends of the apostolic spectrum. Brother Dallin seems extremely conservative to me, pushing against women’s ordination, acceptance of gay marriage, or any other changes to current church culture. I honestly feel Brother Russell Nelson would be much more likely to look to make changes in practices and/or ordinances.

    But with the recent deaths of Boyd Packer and Tom Perry, I think it is almost certain we will have at least one new prophet within the next decade, maybe even two or three. Brother Jeffrey Holland is really the first apostle to get out of the close age grouping of the senior apostles, and he’s all the way down at number six. The youngest before Brother Jeffrey, Brother Dallin, is only five years President Thomas Monson’s junior, and five years at their ages doesn’t have all that much significance. The prophet and top five apostles could really pass on to the next life in any order.

    I have wondered how much the makeup of the Quorum of the Twelve affects church policy: how much is decided by the prophet alone, and how much he delegates to those below him. With two new callings this conference, and more sure to follow soon thereafter, I may soon get the chance to see.

    A new President of the Twelve alone might make a huge difference—we haven’t had a new one since 1994, as Gordon Hinckley and President Thomas Monson had both been in the First Presidency since the 1980s, thereby never serving in the role of President of the Quorum even when they held the title.

    With Brother Boyd Packer’s passing, we also lost the last vestige of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s influence on the Quorum—we’re moved into the era of President Spencer Kimball’s apostles sitting at the top.

    The next decade, no matter how it turns out, is certain to be an interesting one for changes in the church.

  23. I am trying to get discussion of the succession of the Prophet in the public arena, so that when Pres Monson dies it is not automatically (tradition only) the Pres of the 12. If it is automatic how is the Lord involved?

    If the Lord were involved, and no pre conceived outcome, I think we might have someone like Uchtdorf as the Lords choice, before he is too old to lead. If not then we will likely have a Prophet who is over 90 for the foreseeable future http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2015/04/09/predicting-who-will-be-church-president-now-continuously-updated/ Look at comment 8 for ages of becoming Prophet, if traditional selection continues. I think this will be changed, but when.

    My father is 90, and in a nursing home, and can not understand why the brethren are not retired so someone more able can take over.

    I agree with your assessment of the two brethren, and think the Church would be a very different place with Uchtdorf as opposed to Oaks. I see Uchtdorf as much more open to the Lords direction than Oaks.

  24. “I see Uchtdorf as much more open to the Lords direction than Oaks.”

    Geoff (#32), you may have created a God with your own ideology, biases and worldview. I suppose many of us do that. But I seriously question your understanding of the thoughts and opinions of these two brethren. I suggest that they are not as far apart as you believe.

  25. Geoff, I think that’s a good goal—institutionally, we as a church have accepted the idea that the next prophet always needs to be the President of the Twelve, while on several occasions the history is quite a bit more complicated.

    In lessons where the succession after Joseph’s death is taught, the manuals always put great emphasis on the idea that Brigham was the only possible rightful choice, while in fact the scriptures were quite unclear on the matter, and Brigham became prophet because the saints in Nauvoo prayed about it and chose him. Joseph had thought he would be succeeded by either Hyrum or Joseph III, and it was years after Brigham was chosen as leader before he felt he could truly succeed Joseph.

    It is also never taught in lessons that Brigham deliberately altered the seniority in the quorum near the end of his life to make sure neither of the Orsons would become prophet after he died, and the Utah saints and Quorum did it again to make sure Joseph F. Smith, and not Brigham Young, Jr., became the next prophet after Lorenzo Snow.

    So, there’s certainly plenty of precedent for changes in the means of succession.

    However, if any change is to happen, I think it would have to happen BEFORE the living prophet died. President Thomas or one of his successors would have to announce the change—I don’t see the Quorum of the Twelve doing it by themselves. The easiest way would be to re-institute the office of Assistant President of the Church, which was essentially a co-president who would succeed the prophet after his death.

    This could happen at some point, but I think it’s more likely that, when prophets are suffering from age, the de facto successor will be one of the other members of the First Presidency, as it was for Gordon Hinckley for some of Spencer Kimball’s years and almost all of Ezra Benson’s. If that’s the case, then we will still very possibly see Brother Dieter Uchtdorf directing the course of the church, whether or not he actually becomes the prophet.

    And honestly, I’m okay with that. I feel that system worked fine with Gordon Hinckley—he was an amazing, visionary leader, and by the time he actually became prophet himself, he had already had a decade or so of experience. And despite rumors about President Thomas’s help, he was able to to lower the missionary age for women, which I feel is one of the pivotal changes in the church of the last 50 or more years, and will be looked back on as one of the core steps in women receiving the priesthood.

    There’s a scripture I love in the book of Acts where Peter and the apostles say that they’re ministers of the word of God, and it’s not fitting that they spend their time symbolically waiting tables, by worrying about the practical finances of the church. Today, I feel like a large part of what the Twelve do is wait tables, and if age or any other circumstance forces them to give that up, I think that’s a good thing.

    I don’t know how healthy President Thomas is, but I can almost guarantee he doesn’t waste his time mandating new BYU religion curriculum, getting involved in politics, approving inflammatory anti-gay-and-anti-scouting-and-anti-feminist messages for the Public Affairs department to put out, or many of the other not-word-of-God things other apostles busy themselves with.

    I just wish more members realized the prophet probably has nothing to do with any of these things.

  26. Old Man, I know your comment in #33 wasn’t directed to me, but in #31 I said I saw them as opposite ends of the apostolic spectrum, so with your post coming so soon after, I hope you won’t be offended if I respond to it.

    To see how far apart Brother Dieter and Brother Dallin are, you need only look at their two most recent conference talks. Brother Dallin’s remarks and Brother Dieter’s Priesthood Session comments addressed essentially the same subject: members of the church whose commitment to the actual gospel is shallow, but their solutions are almost night-and-day opposites. I would encourage you to read the two talks comparatively to see how strongly their messages conflict and contract.

    Here is but one example.

    This is a way Brother Dallin suggests we can deepen our commitment to Christ:

    “In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.

    Young people, if that teaching seems too general, here is a specific example. If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule. And that applies to adults also.”

    Contrast this with what Brother Dieter says can improve our commitment:

    “In some cases, we may simply have lost our focus on the essence of the gospel, mistaking the ‘form of godliness’ for the ‘power thereof.’ This is especially dangerous when we direct our outward expressions of discipleship to impress others for personal gain or influence. It is then that we are at risk of entering into Pharisee territory, and it is high time to examine our hearts to make immediate course corrections.

    This temptation to appear better than we are is found not just in our personal lives but can be found in our Church assignments as well.

    For example, I know of a stake where the leaders set some ambitious goals for the year. While the goals all looked worthwhile, they focused either on lofty and impressive declarations or on numbers and percentages.

    After these goals had been discussed and agreed upon, something began to trouble the stake president. He thought about the members of his stake—like the young mother with small children who was recently widowed. He thought about the members who were struggling with doubts or loneliness or with severe health conditions and no insurance. He thought about the members who were grappling with broken marriages, addictions, unemployment, and mental illness. And the more he thought about them, the more he asked himself a humbling question: will our new goals make a difference in the lives of these members?

    He began to wonder how their stake’s goals might have been different if they had first asked, ‘What is our ministry?’

    So this stake president went back to his councils, and together they shifted their focus. They determined that they would not allow ‘the hungry, … the needy, …the naked, … the sick and the afflicted to pass by [them], and notice them not.’

    They set new goals, recognizing that success with these new goals could not always be measured, at least not by man—for how does one measure personal testimony, love of God, or compassion for others?”

    ???

    Brother Dallin’s practical advice to the youth, after reading Brother Dieter’s talk, seems to be the very sort of outward “form of godliness” behavior Brother Dieter was warning against, not taking into account the individual struggles, hardships, addictions, broken families, or loneliness the sacrament texter or whisperer might be going through. It seems a very outward, number-oriented goal: zero texts or whispers during sacrament meeting this month; instead of the immeasurable goal of personal testimony and love of God Brother Dieter encouraged.

    Read one after the other, Brother Uchtdorf’s can even be seen as a gentle rebuke of Brother Dallin’s well-meaning but misdirected counsel.

    At least that’s how I see it. Perhaps you view the two talks differently. If so, I would be interested in hearing your view on their seemingly-contrasting messages.

    And I promise I didn’t cherry-pick this example. If you similarly contrast many of their other talks on similar messages, I suspect you would come to similar findings. They both are witnesses of Christ, and each has a powerful testimony of Him, but the particulars they share about the gospel are very, very different, and cannot, at least for me, be reconciled together.

  27. mirrorrorrim,

    I think the two talks fit well together, and that each man honestly said “amen” at the end of the other’s address. Your caricature of Elder Oak’s remarks as caring only about enforcing a no texting policy is error — no doubt, he asks young people to set aside texting during the sacrament for all the right reasons. It is good counsel, and I believe President Uchtdorf would wholly agree.

  28. mirrororrim,

    I concur with ji. Since you asked, my take is that you are perceiving ideological differences and a spectrum which only exists in your mind, even imagining a “gentle rebuke” in the process.

  29. Not to pile on mirrorrim, but I think both would chuckle and/or facepalm as your attempt to read so much into their talks, if they weren’t too nice to do so. I think ji correctly used the term ‘caricature’ to describe your analysis.

    Both gave stern warnings to church members about negative behavior. If you want to compare individual talks you could also use Oaks’ recent discourse on the Priesthood and gender and get a completely different result, but that doesn’t fit your purpose in commenting here so you didn’t use it.

    On the bright side, I love your return to ‘Brother Joseph’ era terminology, even if I understand the need for clear personal identification in the digital age. =)

  30. I see it as you do mirrororrim. I think Uchtdorf as Prophet would be much more Christlike, and much more loving and inclusive than one with Oaks as Prophet.

    The point is that if the present automatic succession continues we may get Oaks when he is 85 but not Uchtdorf until he’s close to 90, and both will be well past it by then.

    I think the church would be better served by a Prophet who is vital enough and open to asking the Lord to guide the church, and be able to say “thus sayeth the Lord”, before answers to gay marriage or priesthood for women, or whatever else comes up.

    Is there anyone running for President of the USA, who is over 80, would you vote for that person, why not? Over 90?

  31. Well, I did ask, so I can’t be upset that people responded. :) And since none of you know me, I can’t take it too personally if you impugn my motives. Thanks, though, for the compliment at the end, Cameron N. I guess all I can say is that I don’t feel I distorted or caricatured either man. I’ve been listening to talks from these two men for a long time, and I honestly feel my quotes from each were quite representative of their specific talks and of their more broadly expressed ideologies. But you’ll have to decide whether or not to believe me about my motivations.

    I hope, though, Old Man, that you don’t always immediately assume that anyone who disagrees with you has delusions, as you have of me. It seems that would make it hard to keep an open mind about things.

    Cameron, if I thought it would do any good, I would gladly contrast Brother Dallin’s talk on Priesthood Keys from with Brother Dieter’s about sleeping through the Restoration which was given in the same session, but I feel everyone here already has their mind made up on the matter. Suffice it to say, I much preferred Brother Dieter’s, and found many aspect’s of Brother Dallin’s talk on Priesthood problematic, presumptive, or inappropriate. But I believe we have a fundamental difference in our beliefs about the fallibility of apostles, their role in God’s church, and how we should approach their words.

    Geoff, I can definitely see your point. I guess my biggest worry is that youth and vitality don’t necessarily equate to a willingness to follow God’s will, and I could easily see a young prophet leading the church in a direction I wouldn’t like to see it go if he or she didn’t have the willingness to ask God’s will.

    And, while I agree it would be nice to see God’s hand more visibly active in prophetic succession, I don’t think having the apostles vote on the matter would lead to that. That’s how the Catholic church does it, and, while it occasionally results in a Pope Francis, I feel Benedicts are far more common with that kind of system. I think it tends to give entrenched bureaucracies of men more impact, not less.

    But while I have those objections, I don’t really have any ideas for a better system than the one you’re suggesting, either. Inaction definitely isn’t intrinsically better than action, and age definitely tends to lead to the former.

    Maybe the original apostles had it right—maybe casting random lots really was the best way to go. :)

    The church might just be getting too big and too old to change quickly. Historically, apostasies have helped with that problem, but those cause complications of their own, so I’m not sure that’s any solution, either.

    Honestly, the best way to see real change would be an influx of new members from a drastically different ideology, ideally converted en mass by a charismatic and opinionated young person. Then she starts speaking out, and we get ourselves a Jerusalem Council, and all sorts of things start to change. :)

    I guess we’d all better start knocking doors.

  32. Don’t bother, Perhaps you might explain to you wife your vision for her life in the eternities as a second class citizen instead.

  33. Old guys keep the hard core side in check. Put a younger man in charge and your more likely to have someone who will encourage members to invest in an mls to pay for our trip to reclaim Zion, which we financed by taking a second mortgage on the temple…

    Certainly that would add some zeal to our faith, and we’d have to grow in our faith in a variety of unexpected ways… But it would be the gay marriage loving, female ordaining church that spends all its revenue on the poor you desire.

  34. Geoff 43, there is no need to call me a misogynist. I would personally love to see women holding priesthood office, and I am interested in what assures you and others that male-only priesthood is a man-made error. I am not so sure that it is, but I don’t know. My point is simply that pulling isolated scriptures out of context can be used to defend a variety of views, and that neither view here is scriptural. It seems your answer is that is how you prefer to see things. Fine. I just thought there might be something more substantial to it.

  35. I’m curious about the statement about loving to see women ordained that I often see from people trying to demonstrate their open-mindedness and obedience at the same time.

    It’s also insulting to the women who (wrongly imo) feel they need to be ordained.

    Do you love God? Do you seek for his will on earth? Do you claim to want something that is not his will (ordination)? Or are you saying it is his will and the leaders are wrong?

    I wish this fence sitting would stop. Pick which side to be on.

    Faithful members should not love to see things happen that aren’t God’s will and they shouldn’t suggest that they know God’s will while the prophets don’t publicly.

  36. I see, so one can’t be both obedient and open to policies changing. Would you have the same criticism of a member in 1975 saying they would love to see black people ordained to priesthood office? Would that have been opposing God’s will?

  37. AA (47), typically when members say that they mean, “were it up to me I wouldn’t have problems, but I’ll do what God asks.” I personally wouldn’t have trouble with women having the priesthood. But if God wants something else I’m fine with that too. Lots of people talk that way. I’ve no idea what “allergy”‘s views are mind you – I’ve not read all the comments. (BTW – that’s a really odd pseudonym) Dan Peterson has made similar phrases though.

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