27 September 2007

Random Thoughts On Authorities

Since my ward has tickets to the General Relief Society meeting this year and thus my mother and sister and possibly aunts will be going together, I decided to read through the biographies of the Relief Society General presidency. This will be their first General Relief Society meeting since being called and sustained in April 2007 conference. This Relief Society presidency is surprisingly, almost consciously representative: one BYU graduate and full-time homemaker and mother with little leadership experience, one from a Latin American country who's been on missions with her husband, and one single career woman (with apparently no church experience worth mentioning in her online bio--is this just because it's less likely for unmarried women to receive leadership callings in the church?). This kind of diversity is probably easier to accomplish in auxiliaries since they change much more frequently than the General Authorities.

This has led me on a spree of semi-legitimate research on General Authorities (though I suppose technically the RS presidency are general officers) and from there to priesthood in general. Prepare for much disorganized randomness.

According to this site, "Patriarch to the Church is one of only two positions in the Church to which one may be called by right of birth (and, of course, worthiness)." Now I thought I knew everything about Mormon culture, but what in the world is the other? Something to do with Levites? Ah-ha, says Wikipedia. "According to Latter-day Saint scripture, a bishop does not need to be a high priest nor does he need counselors if he is a Levite and a direct descendant of Aaron, Moses' brother. In the LDS Church, there has never been a bishop selected under this doctrine, and such a bishop could not fulfill all the duties enumerated above (such as serving as the presiding high priest of the ward)." I forgot about that. Where in scripture does it say this and to what purpose? D&C 107:16-17. Hmm. Interesting. And no one has ever used it. I wonder if anyone in the Church could.

And what about those number limits on the size of quorums? What's that about?

A very interesting article by Elder Packer on priesthood government, a lot of stuff from which I didn't know. I think they should teach more about the organization of the priesthood in Relief Society, and for that matter Young Women's. You get a brief lesson or two about it--mostly on how to support the young men by dressing modestly and telling them to cut their hair, or later on how to help your husband honor his priesthood by asking him to move heavy objects for the neighbors. All right, that was a little overstated, but I think helping all members to better understand Church organization ought to be something we focus on. Women and men of the Church rely on the priesthood equally: we ought to understand it equally. I know I sometimes feel intimidated by return missionaries with their mysteriously obtained knowledge of the order of the priesthood, ordinances, and Church government. Is there a real reason to be secretive about these things?

And do men really learn this stuff in Priesthood, or is it like a mission thing? We were going through George's mission stuff the other day for FHE (decluttering so that all of our stuff might actually fit in our capsule-like apartment). It was the first time I've ever seen the so-called white handbook, and as I flipped through the pages, I thought, "Gee, why was I never taught all this stuff?" As a woman in the Church, I've only learned how different types of blessings are supposed to be performed by observation. Obviously, I'll probably never need to perform them myself--though unlike the Gospel Doctrine teacher in our singles' ward, I do know that women in the early Church could and did perform blessings, and still perform ordinances in the temples. Regardless, though, of whether I'd use it is the question of simple knowledge. Knowledge is the best guard against false doctrine and folk practices.

On the other hand though, Mormonism is a religion that runs on continual revelation. Perhaps providing extremely strict guidelines would limit the "creativity" that is so vital to our religion.

So that was random, but hey, I'm trying to gain some momentum here, so cut me some slack.

1 comment:

Michaela Stephens said...

I think it is funny that you wish that these things about priesthood and church organization would be taught more in relief society. I hope you aren't one of those who, if it were, would protest that it was yet another lesson advocating obedience to women, blah, blah, blah.. I know some would (like those who get bent out of shape if on mother's day there just happens to be a lesson on the restoration of the priesthood for Relief Society).

I actually learned that church organization stuff from my dad, who would quiz us at the dinner table on organizational trivia. Like we learned that the bishop is the president of the priest quorum and has to be a high priest if they aren't a descendant of Aaron..

A lot of it is in the D&C. Go looking for it and I'm sure you'll find it.