Category Archives: LDS Organization

LDS International Society Conference Proceedings

The proceedings of the 19th Annual LDS International Society Conference are available online as a PDF file.  This was held last April at the Hinckley Center at BYU. Here’s the table of contents:

  • “Building Bridges: Ambassador Hosting Program” — Panel discussion and presentation
    • Moderator: Jeff Ringer, director, Kennedy Center
    • Panel members: Ann Santini, manager, Public and International Affairs, Washington DC office, LDS Church;
      Erlend Peterson, associate international vice president, BYU;
      Elder Ben Banks and Sister Susan Banks, directors, Church Hosting, LDS Church
  • Keynote Speech: “The Church in the Twenty-First Century: Public Perception and the ‘Man with the Stamp’
    • Speaker: Elder Lance B. Wickman, Quorum of the Seventy and general counsel, LDS Church
  • “Strengthening Relations via Diplomatic Outreach” — Panel Discussion
    • Moderator/Introductions: William F. Akin, associate general counsel, LDS Church
    • Panel members: Olene S. Walker, former Utah Governor;
      M. Kenneth Bowler, director, Public and International Affairs, LDS Church;
      Elder Ralph W. Hardy, Jr., Area Seventy
  • “The Perfect Storm? LDS Media Events and the Foreign Press”
    • Speaker: Joel J. Campbell, assistant professor of communications, BYU
  • “Public Perception and Humanitarian Initiatives” — Panel discussion and presentation
    • Moderator/Introductions: Daryl K. Hobson, former president, Cape Verde Priaia Mission
    • Panel members: Sharon Eubanks, manager, LDS Charities;
      Warner P. Woodworth, professor of organizational behavior, BYU

In the aftermath of Prop 8, I’ve seen plenty of postings around the blogosphere suggesting that the leadership of the Church “blundered” into this situation and clearly didn’t think through the political and public perception ramifications. As I’ve said before, hogwash; I believe the Church knew full well what the likely ramifications would be.

Here’s a great quote, from Elder Banks (he and his wife are responsible for hosting foreign ambassadors, consuls, and other state officials who come to or live in Salt Lake):

One of the more interesting ones was Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia. President Hinckley asked him, “Why can’t all you guys get along over there?” And I waited for the Prince’s answer, and he said, “Well, President, it goes back to the Ottoman Empire when France and Britain made all of the countries in this part of the world colonies, and they didn’t want to have anything to do with us, because we didn’t have anything.” And President Hinckley said, “Yes, and now you’ve struck oil, haven’t you?” And the Prince said, “Yes, and now we don’t want anything to do with them.”

Here’s one from Erlend Peterson (BYU):

The important link is Ann Santini and the work she does in Washington, and with Elder and Sister Bans and the work they do in public affairs. Ann’s working with the ambassadors on a regular basis. It creates an opportunity for us probably no one else has. As we’ve talked to ambassadors, they say that they don’t know of another state or university doing what we’re doing. . . . We’ve now hosted 157 ambassadors from ninety-one countries.

And from Jeff Ringer (Kennedy Center):

Years ago, when I first began at the [Kennedy Center] and had some hosting responsibilities, we were hosting a noted Jewish rabbi from New York. At the conclusion of his visit, I was assigned to take him back to Salt Lake City and get him on his flight. I was doing that — this was before increased security — so we had walked back to his gate, and I had wandered off to grab him a drink or something. He was sitting in his chair with tears streaming down his face, and as a new employee at BYU I thought, well there it is, I’ll turn in my card, I’m fired. I somehow managed to ask him what was wrong. He said, “Look around. This is the most remarkable thing I have ever seen.” I’d become used to it, so I hadn’t paid attention, but it happened to be one of those days when missionaries are coming and going. There were families saying goodbye, and families saying welcome home. He went on to tell me it was the most remarkable thing he had ever seen, and he wondered how we created such a sense of service and sacrifice among our people.

Read the whole conference report. It  shows just how carefully and thoughtfully the Church deals with political relations and public perceptions, not just here in the US but around the world as well. ..bruce..

Money-back tithing guarantee, ATMs at church

Here’s an approach to tithing we probably won’t see from Church HQ any time soon:

Here’s something different., the church with locations in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and online is offering a three-month tithing challenge. Give for three months. If God doesn’t deliver on his promise to provide for you, you can ask for your money back. All of it. No questions asked.

The same article points (through a few hops) to this article as well:

It is a bid for relevance in a nation charmed by pop culture and consumerism, and it is not an uncommon one. But Baker has waded further into the 21st century than most fishers of American souls, as evidenced one Wednesday night when churchgoer Josh Marshall stepped up to a curious machine in the church lobby.

It was one of Stevens Creek’s three “Giving Kiosks”: a sleek black pedestal topped with a computer screen, numeric keypad and magnetic-strip reader. Prompted by the on-screen instructions, Marshall performed a ritual more common in quickie marts than a house of God: He pulled out a bank card, swiped it and punched in some numbers.

The machine spat out a receipt. Marshall’s $400 donation was routed to church coffers before he had found his seat for evening worship.

What makes this last item particularly funny is that the print edition of the Sugar Beet (the late, lamented LDS equivalent of the Onion) had an article several years ago about the Church installing ATMs in ward buildings for making donations, doing automated tithing settlement, reporting home teaching, and a few other functions. I remember showing the article to the bishop (I was one of his counselors), and — after chuckling — he observed that it really could be useful.

Actually, I don’t think the Church would go in this direction. Instead, I think the Church at some point is going to really make a push into having members of a ward carry out functions via the ward’s web site (highly underused by most wards). I think the success of the system (which really is pretty remarkable) points out the future direction of Church technology involving members. ..bruce..

A people set apart: Mormons and Prop 8

There has, of course, been much discourse on the bloggernacle about Proposition 8 in California and the Church’s involvement in it. Leaving aside the various arguments on the merits of gay marriage itself, the merits of the arguments on both sides of Prop 8, and the merits of the Church’s involvement in passing Prop 8, I was struck by a different thought today:

It may well be that God inspired Pres. Monson to take this approach to put all of us within the Church in a difficult position.

I am struck as I read through the ‘nacle at the number of posts that in one way or another express the thought, “Why can’t we be more like other churches and/or society at large?” This shows up in any number of ways, but I see it time and again. Often it’s a fervent wish that we would do away with one or more Church practices, doctrines, or historical events (missionary program, tithing, Word of Wisdom, garments, temple recommends/restrictions, the First Vision, priesthood restoration, the endowment, all-male priesthood, lay ministry, succession in the Church presidency, etc.). It certainly has shown up in the discussions on Prop 8, where the most recent post I read today used the word “fiasco” to describe the Church’s (successful) effort to support Prop 8.

My own reading of both Church and scriptural history suggests that the Lord often requires of His people practices and beliefs that prevent easy assimilation into the surrounding culture. And assimilation is what a lot of us would like. We’d like to fit in, to not have people look at us funny, to not have to explain about gold plates and special underwear. We’d like people to admire us unreservedly for being Latter-day Saints and to welcome us into their embrace, whether secular or ecumenical.

Ain’t gonna happen, at least not in my opinion. In fact, the way I read the scriptures, the gap is going to widen, not shrink. And we really are going to have to decide where our loyalties lie, regardless of our opinions about the merits of Prop 8 and/or gay marriage in general.

Of course, I find it funny and ironic that some of the same ‘naclites who complain about the Church doing this or that for “PR purposes” are now complaining about what a “PR disaster” the Church’s support for Prop 8 is.  Examine again the educational level and professional accomplishments of those who comprise the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Do you really think these people weren’t clearly aware of just what would happen with the Church throwing such active support behind Prop 8? What they did, they did with the full knowledge and expectation of what the backlash would likely be, both short term and long term. After all, the Church had already been through this thirty years ago with the Equal Rights Amendment; President Monson and Elders Packer and Perry were in the Twelve back then as well, while several other Apostles (Ballard, Wirthlin, Scott, Hales) were General Authorities as well. That opposition was a constant news item and source of controversy not for days or weeks, but for months and years.

For that matter, those exact same individuals were likewise present for and involved in the Church’s decision to change its policy regarding blacks and the priesthood; I’d strongly recommend reading Edward Kimball’s 80-page article on that decision in the latest issue of BYU Studies (vol 47, no. 2).

And yet the Church took its activist stand for Prop 8 anyway. I think that actually argues for this being an inspired decision, because a purely rational one — from the sense of acceptance by society at large — would be at most to issue a simple disapproval.

In short, while any of us can (and clearly many do) disagree with the Church’s actions in this matter, I think it’s foolish and contrary to the facts to claim that Church leadership went into this decision out of fear, bigotry, and/or short-sightedness. I suspect it required very careful deliberation, discussion, and prayer — not to mention serious legal and political advice — and that they made the decision with eyes wide open as to the almost-certain backlash.

The real question is, how do we deal with our own feelings, particularly those who disagree with the Church’s actions? Even if we believe the decision to be a mistake, if our decision is to publicly criticize and excoriate the Church and its leadership, then what mercy and treatment do we expect from Christ (or, for that matter, from Church leaders and members) for our own follies, mistakes, and weaknesses? As I wrote back in 1994:

What is critical in this process [i.e., dealing with what we see as errors by Church leaders] is that it should be done with the same confidentiality, sensitivity, understanding, patience and forgiveness — in short, the same Christ-like behavior — with which we would desire our own imperfections and errors to be handled. The Savior taught that “if they brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou has gained thy brother.” (Matt 18:15) The Savior goes on to say that if that brings no results, we should inform the Church — which I would interpret as meaning the appropriate divinely-appointed stewards, not our circle of friends, the members of our ward, or the readership of Sunstone and Dialogue [not to mention the entire Internet]. We would probably be outraged, and rightly so, if we found that a church member — much less a church leader — was publicly criticizing our performance in our church duties; we’d even be upset over private criticism, if it was shared with those not involved in the situation. Yet all too often, we feel little compunction — and, worse yet, a great deal of self-righteous satisfaction — about doing the same, whether privately, over the net, in print, or even over the pulpit or lectern.

Given the above, the idea of a “community response” [by Latter-day Saints] to the statements, decisions and actions of church leaders is as appalling and inappropriate as would be a “community response” — complete with private discussion and correspondence, newspaper ads, public lectures and published articles [and again, blog postings] — as to how well any one of us is carrying out his or her stewardships within the Church and within his or her family. It ignores the dignity of the individual, and commandments toward charity, tolerance and forgiveness, and the channels which the Lord set up to deal with these issues. I suspect the Lord will not justify us in such a course, and that — whatever the errors of those we criticize — upon us will remain the greater condemnation.

As always, your mileage may vary.  ..bruce..

Post-Rapture “friends and family” notification service

No, really.

Courtesy of Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry) comes this link to a website that promises — for a fee — to send e-mails and do electronic delivery of documents to a list of people once the Rapture occurs:

You’ve Been Left Behind gives you one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends For Christ. Imagine being in the presence of the Lord and hearing all of heaven rejoice over the salvation of your loved ones. It is our prayer that this site makes it happen.

We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

We give you 150mb of encrypted storage that can be sent to 12 possible email addresses, in Box #1. You up load any documents and choose which documents go to who. You can edit these documents at any time and change the addresses they will be sent to as needed. Box #1 is for personal private information such as “passwords” and letters to be sent to your closest lost relatives and friends.

We give you another 100mb. of unencrypted storage that can be sent to up to 50 email addresses, in Box #2. You can edit the documents and the addresses any time. Box #2 is for more generic documents to lost family & friends.

The cost is $40 for the first year. Re-subscription will be reduced as the number of subscribers increases. Tell your friends about You’ve Been left behind.

First off, let me be clear: I’m not mocking this site. In fact, it strikes me as a logical step given a firm belief in a pre-tribulation Rapture — at least as long as you believe that those ‘left behind’ still have a shot at repentance. And if you do, it seems to me that the fact of the Rapture itself — not to mention the tribulation that would follow it — would probably do a whole lot more to cause folks to repent than getting a post-Rapture e-mail from someone who was taken. But if I earnestly believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture and post-Rapture repentance, I might well look into this. (Besides, the site itself seems to indicate that this can also be used to give key information to those left behind, e.g., accounts, passwords, and so on.)

I have no proof one way or the other whether this site is serious or a joke; a ‘whois’ investigation turned up little information other than that the domain was registered via Only time will tell.

Of course, the LDS view is different. We believe in an post-tribulation Rapture (though we seldom call it by that name) that will occur at Christ’s coming. We also believe that those caught up to meet Christ at his coming will then come back down to earth — still mortal — and start the long task of cleaning up the mess we’ve made of things down here.

faith-promoting story — Any story that makes you feel glad you’re a Mormon, even if you can’t bring yourself to believe it.

— Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary (Orion Books, 1981)

Of course, the question is — is there some equivalent notification system for Latter-day Saints? A “don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got to attend a meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman” system? The problem with that is that not only do Mormons have a hard time keeping secrets in the first place, we tend to make up more than actually exist (“faith promoting rumors”).

Beyond that, the Church itself is so well wired and organized that it already has the infrastructure to get out any notification worldwide in a matter of hours. Besides, the meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman will probably be broadcast via satellite.

Other suggestions or comments? ..bruce..

Church Handbook of Instruction posted online

…but not legally. Wikileaks, a website devoted to publishing confidential materials, has posted the 1968 and 1999 versions of the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions. The Church has responded by sending Wikimedia a takedown notice for copyright infringement.

On the one hand, I’m not sure why the Church has felt it necessary to keep the CHI under such tight controls. I’ve served twice in bishoprics and multiple times in other callings that have given me access to some or all of the CHI, and there really isn’t anything there that (IMHO) is or needs to be confidential. Frankly, I think the Church should have a fully hyperlinked version of the CHI at the website, but that’s their decision, not mine.

On the other hand, I fully understand the Church’s legal need to pursue the copyright infringement issue simply as a matter of guarding its copyright over the material — namely, because failure to do so may reduce the copyright protection of the original material.

Hat tip to Slashdot.  ..bruce..

Managing Mormon meetings

“Brethren, there is no meeting in the Church so unimportant that it cannot begin on time, and there is no meeting in the Church so important that it cannot end on time.”

— J. Reuben Clark III, a counselor in my BYU Stake Presidency, to the priesthood leadership of my BYU ward, circa 1976

Pres. Clark (a BYU classics professor and the son of J. Reuben Clark Jr.) uttered those words in our BYU ward PEC meeting being held as part of our ward conference back when I was a BYU undergrad. The PEC meeting had been late in starting for reasons I don’t fully recall, but I certainly recall Pres. Clark’s rebuke once we did get started. I cited his remarks in the comments to this posting over at By Common Consent after seeing that the winner of the “Mormon happiness is…” poll was “…when church finishes 10 minutes early” (42%).

In the same comments, I talked about Lou Hampton, who became branch president of the District of Columbia Branch while Sandra and I were living there (and later bishop when the DC Branch became the Chevy Chase Ward). This was Lou’s third time as a bishop, and one of the changes he immediately instituted was that all meetings begin on time and ended on time, if not sooner. In fact, one of his first acts was to go through the entire chapel and ensure that the clocks were all synchronized and set to the correct time.

At the time that Lou became branch president, our schedule started with Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, and both meetings were well known for starting 10 to 20 minutes late. Lou worked diligently with both organizations to get them to start on time; as he did so, members started showing up on time as well.

Correspondingly, our meeting schedule ended with Sacrament meeting. Lou always took a minute with the speakers before the meeting started letting them know how much time they had and when he expected them to be done. He would do this with all the speakers in order to avoid the problem of an earlier speaker using up so much time that the later speakers had little left.

Lou always started Sacrament meeting on time, regardless of who might still be milling around in the pews; again, the members quickly learned to watch the clock and to sit down promptly. During the meeting itself, Lou would put a note on the pulpit or, should that fail to work, tap the current speaker on the back to indicate that it was time to wrap up. He would even do this with High Council speakers; as he rightly pointed out, he was still the presiding authority at the meeting, not the High Council representative. He did, however, forebear from interrupting any member of the District (and later Stake) Presidency.

Likewise, Lou would bring Fast & Testimony meeting to a close right on time, even if there were people still on the stand. That bothered me some at first, but I came to realize that Lou’s concern was for the congregation as a whole. It also gave us all an incentive to bear our testimonies sooner in the meeting, rather than later, and to keep our testimonies brief and to the point, so as to allow time for others. (One other thing: Lou always had a large printed sheet laying on the pulpit during Fast & Testimony meeting that said, “Please state your name.” This was a great help, particularly as the branch — and then ward — grew by leaps and bounds.)

On those occasions when the (regular) Sacrament meeting speakers ended early, Lou did not feel the need to fill up the remaining time, either by speaking himself or by calling upon others to speak. Instead, we simply ended Sacrament meeting (and thus our entire block) early. The members quickly caught on, and so again kept their remarks short and to the point. As a result, we regularly ended anywhere from 5 to 15 (and sometimes even 20) minutes early.

Lou kept the same discipline in the various leadership meetings (bishopric, PEC, ward council, etc.). We started on time, we moved quickly through the agenda, and we dismissed as soon as all pertinent issues had been covered. None of this indicated a lack of concern on Lou’s part for the branch/ward or its members; on the contrary, Lou did this precisely so that he could spend as much time as he could in personal ministry to the members. When I became one of his counselors, I quickly discovered that he delegated literally everything that he could to us for that same reason.

It is interesting to see the example set by the general Church leadership in General Conference, particularly under Pres. Hinckley. Of course, General Conference meetings always begin on time, but for the last several years, most sessions have ended several minutes early, particularly when Pres. Hinckley himself was the closing speaker.

I appreciated Lou’s example precisely because it reflected what I have tried to follow since hearing Pres. Clark’s rebuke some 30+ years ago. I’ve done my best to keep meetings on-time and brief both in my Church responsibilities as well as my professional life. I must confess that I have chafed some since moving to Colorado; our ward here is wonderful, but for most of the past 2.5 years that we’ve lived here, Sacrament has been both late starting and often late getting out (cutting into my time as Gospel Doctrine and now Gospel Essentials teacher), and my High Priest Group meetings are usually late ending as well.

I have recently been released as the Gospel Doctrine teacher and called as the ward mission leader. I’ve let the full-time and ward missionaries know that our missionary correlation meeting will be held right after the end of the block, and that I do not expect it to last more than 15 minutes. That was greeted with some joy and relief, as apparently the previous missionary correlation meetings were being held on a weeknight and regularly lasted a hour or more. I’ve been a ward mission leader several times before, and I’m pretty confident that we can cover what we need to in those 15 minutes; any follow-up discussions can be done one-on-one over the phone or in person. Our time is best spent in actual service to others, not hashing out details ad infinitum. I believe that’s true for all our meetings. ..bruce..

Dwellings of prophets

Outside (and some inside) observers of the LDS Church sometimes hint darkly at the Church’s great wealth, directly stating or leaving others to infer that this somehow reflects greed, corruption, or insensitivity on the part of LDS Church leaders. Peggy Stack, in today’s Salt Lake Tribune, points out yet another way in which the LDS Church differs from many other Christian denominations: the modesty of the homes that its Presidents have dwelt in:

Sometime soon, new LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson likely will move into the church-owned “presidential apartment.”

Though church spokesman Scott Trotter declined to say when or whether Monson will move, his three predecessors all lived on the top floor of Gateway Apartments on State Street in Salt Lake City, across from the LDS Administration Building and within a block of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the LDS temple.

Monson and his wife, Frances, currently live in a modest home in Holladay, which the couple built about 40 years ago. . . .

Spencer W. Kimball lived on Laird Street in Harvard/Yale neighborhood. His Mormon neighbors enjoyed the proximity to their spiritual leader.

“He seemed like any of our good neighbors,” said Mavis Oswald, whose husband was Kimball’s bishop. “He talked to children and winked at them while sitting on the stand [behind the pulpit]. He and his wife took walks in the neighborhood, visited with people and patted the dogs.”

Eventually, Kimball, too, had to be moved to Hotel Utah because of security concerns and declining health. He died there in November 1985.

Isn’t it interesting that for all the Church’s wealth, you never hear of any financial scandals or excesses on the part of its leaders involving Church funds? ..bruce..

Relief Society Magazine: January 1951

And now for something completely different.

One of my treasured books — which I begged of my mother-in-law, and which she generously gave to me — is a bound volume of all 1951 issues of The Relief Society Magazine (Vol. 38, Nos. 1-12). The Relief Society Magazine (TRSM) was a small, semi-glossy official monthly publication of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like the contemporaneous general Church magazine, The Improvement Era, TSRM carried paid advertising (Orson Scott Card quipped in Saintspeak that when The Ensign replaced The Improvement Era, the advertising function was taken over by BYU Magazine). Each issue appears to be roughly 70-75 pages long.

I thought I’d reproduce the table of contents of a single issue: January 1951 (Vol. 38, No. 1); I’ve dropped the page numbers and reformatted a bit:


  • A New Year Wish — General Presidency of Relief Society
  • Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of Brigham Young University — Ivor Sharp
  • Award Winners: Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest
    • Lot’s Wife (First Prize Poem) — Alice Morrey Bailey
    • Old Home (Second Prize Poem) — Julia M. Nelson
    • Pioneer Wagon Wheels (Third Prize Poem) — Ruth Horsley Chadwick
  • Award Winners: Annual Relief Society Short Story Contest
    • “But Covet Earnestly” (First Prize Story) — Mirla Greenwood Thayne
  • Polio Strikes Again
  • Pioneering in the Big Horn Basin — Botilda Berthelson McBlain


  • A Christmas Gift for Teacher — Fae Decker Dix


  • Sixty Years Ago [these are excerpts from the Woman’s Exponent, 1891]
  • Woman’s Sphere — Ramona W. Cannon
  • Editorial: The Old and the New — Vesta P. Crawford
  • New Serial (“For the Strength of the Hills”) to Begin in February
  • Notes to the Field: Relief Society Assigned Evening Meeting of Fast Sunday in March; Bound Volumes of 1950 Relief Society Magazines; Award Subscriptions Presented in April; Relief Society Not a Selling Agent; Pictures of all General Presidents of Relief Society Available
  • Notes from the Field: Relief Society Socials, Bazaars, and Other Activities — Gen. Sec’y-Treasurer, Margaret C. Pickering
  • From Near and Far


  • Theology: “The Long Night of Apostasy” — Don B. Colton
  • Visiting Teaching Message: “And Jesus Answering Saith Unto Them…” — Mary Grant Judd
  • Work Meeting: Pictures, Mirrors, and Wall Accessories — Christine H. Robinson
  • Literature: Oliver Goldsmith — Briant S. Jacobs
  • Social Science: The Role of Ancient Israel — Archibald F. Bennett
  • Music: Theories Underlying Singing, Accompanying, and Conducting — Florence J. Madsen


  • A Gingerbread House — Phyllis Snow
  • The Low Cost of Happiness — Caroline Eyring Miner
  • From Commode Into Buffet –Rachel K. Laurgaard
  • Crocheting Keeps Her Busy and Happy — Rosella F. Larking


  • “The Heart Will Find It” — Dorothy J. Roberts; “Boys Are Dear” — Christie Lund Coles; “Letter From a Daughter” — Calra Laster; “Rosemary” — Margery S. Stewart; “The Wild Geese Fly” — Marvin Jones; “Progress” — Anges Just Reid; “The Dying Year” — Beatrice K. Ekman; “Sketches” — Evelyn Fieldsted; “Recompense” — Matia McClelland Burk; “Mirror, Mirror” — Mabel Jones Gabbott; “My Choice” — Marion W. Garibaldi; “My Child” — Marylou Shaver; “Within My Heart” — Grace Sayer

And here’s the first prize winning poem in the Eliza R. Snow contest:

Lot’s Wife

She merely turned for one last, stolen look
Before her woman’s lingering mind forsook
The home her hands had decked, her smile made sweet,
The memories of her children on the street.
A spirit, set on right, must keep front-face
Forever rigid toward the chosen place
And eyes firm-narrowed in the lane of duty.
No wayside resting place and no lush beauty
Should tempt the soul to longing, no lost
Love or glory, and no treasure mete their cost
In nostalgic indecision, not even pity
For a wanton, doomed, and wicked city,
Lest the will be drawn into the sucking blaze,
Consumed to smoke and ash. The backward gaze
Can bend desire, compel the step to halt,
And slowly, slowly turn the heart to salt.

— Alice Morrey Bailey

All in all, the articles are interesting, and the range of topics is fascinating. Much as with The Improvement Era, the articles are often lengthier and written at a more scholastic level than what you find currently in The Ensign. I also find it interesting that many of the women use as bylines their first names followed by both what are almost certainly both maiden and married names.

Oh, and here’s the scary part: the General Relief Society President at that time (January 1951 — two years before I was born) was Belle Spafford — who was still General Relief Society President when I was an undergraduate at BYU in the 1970s. A different era, indeed.

Comments? ..bruce..

Succession in LDS Leadership (part IV)

As expected, President Thomas S. Monson has been set apart as the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has retained President Henry B. Eyring as First Counselor, also no surprise. Most interestingly, he selected Elder Dieter L. Uchtdorf as Second Counselor, making him (I believe) the first non-American to serve in the First Presidency in modern times, underscoring the global nature of the Church (President Monson: “He knows every airport in the entire world…He’s an international man.”).

In the meantime, Pres. Boyd K. Packer goes from being Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve to be President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and thus next in line for succession to the LDS Presidency. Our prayers go with all these men. ..bruce..

[UPDATE: I’ve added the “in modern times” comment, because one counselor in the First Presidency in the early 1900s — Anthon H. Lund — was born over in Denmark, though I’m less clear whether or not he was an American citizen at the time of his calling into the First Presidency in 1901. Interestingly enough, Lund was President of the Quorum of the Twelve and thus next in line in succession to the LDS Church Presidency (behind LDS Church President Heber J. Grant) at the time of his (Lund’s) death in 1921.]

Succession in LDS Leadership (part III)

Last August, after the death of Pres. James E. Faust, I wrote about the standard approach to succession for the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and noted at the time:

The infographic that accompanies Stack’s article refers to this process of succession as a “long-standing tradition”. That’s fair enough, given that there is no canonized scripture or revelation setting forth the manner of succession. This was the reason for the one major split that occurred in LDS Church history, right after the death of Joseph Smith, resulting in several different “Restoration” churches, most of which have dwindled or disappeared, the main exception being the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [RLDS], which changed its name to the Community of Christ in 2001 (it claims membership of about 200,000 worldwide as of 2006, down from earlier estimates of 250,000, probably as the result of on-going schisms).

However, that “long-standing tradition” has been followed in the LDS Church for over 160 years and for every succession to the Presidency since Joseph Smith was killed. As noted earlier, when the President of the Church dies, his counselors are automatically released, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles becomes the sole body running the Church, led by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve — the most senior Apostle. After the deaths of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor, the Quorum of the Twelve took over and ran the Church for 2-3 years before the First Presidency was reorganized. Since the death of Lorenzo Snow, however, the First Presidency has typically been reorganized in one to two weeks.

Notwithstanding those comments, there is an excellent posting over at Mormon Wasp that discusses why there was a delay in reorganizing the First Presidency after the death of John Taylor — due largely to deep disagreements among the members of the Quorum of the Twelve over (a) whether the First Presidency should be reorganized at all and (b) if so, who should serve in it. The posting is fascinating and has links to additional related documents and articles. Read the whole thing.  ..bruce..