New Apostles: Uchtdorf & Bednar

October 2, 2004 | 94 comments
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Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar (President of BYU Idaho) were just called as the new apostles.

94 Responses to New Apostles: Uchtdorf & Bednar

  1. Brian Duffin on October 2, 2004 at 12:26 pm

    Here is a link to the biography of Elder David A. Bednar.

  2. Benjamin Huff on October 2, 2004 at 12:30 pm

    sweet! : ) I’m excited to find out about these guys.

  3. Gordon Smith on October 2, 2004 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks, Brian. I found it a bit late.

    It’s hard to tell where he grew up, but he has spent most of his professional life in Arkansas, with a short stint in Texas and a PhD from Purdue.

    Uchtdorf’s life seems very interesting. I am thrilled to see a German apostle.

  4. Jim Richins on October 2, 2004 at 12:42 pm

    Is Elder Uchtdorf the first foreign-born Apostle? He is certainly the first for whom English is not his native language…

  5. Gordon Smith on October 2, 2004 at 12:50 pm

    Jim,

    No he isn’t the first foreign-born. Dan Richards posted a comment on this here: http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000982.html#comment-5153

    He wrote: “Several recent apostles have been Canadian, though Utah born (N. Eldon Tanner, Hugh B. Brown), while Marion G. Romney was born in the Mormon colonies of Mexico. John Taylor was born in England, as were George Q. Cannon, Charles W. Penrose, George Teasdale, and James E. Talmage. Charles A Callis was born in Ireland. John A. Widtsoe and Anton H. Lund were possibly the only modern apostles whose first language was not English. Lund was born in Aalborg Denmark. Widtsoe was born in Norway and came to the US months after being baptized at age twelve. He passed away in November 1952, so it has been just over 50 years since we had our last European apostle.”

  6. john fowles on October 2, 2004 at 1:26 pm

    I had thought that Uchtdorf would be an excellent choice. I have long admired him (and of course and excited to see a German apostle). I wonder if this signals a renewed commitment to the old latter-day vision for Germany (that it would be a source of strength for the saints).

    Please note that he is German even though he was born in what is now the Czech Repubic.

  7. Jim Richins on October 2, 2004 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for the history. I was too brief when I posted before, since I wanted to focus on Elder Holland. But, now the choir is singing “Put your shoulder…” so I can type more.

    Of course I knew about Pres. Taylor and the early English immigrant saints. I did not know about Elders Widstoe and Lund being born in Norway and Denmark.

    Personally, I don’t count “Canadian” as being foreign, since Canada shares so much cultural and even political history. (Perhaps a Canadian might take offense).

    Maybe my earlier comment would be more accurate if I asked whether Elder Uchtdorf if the first serving Apostle who’s citizenship is foreign (he is still German, is he not?)

    My goodness… I hope Pres. Faust feels better soon. Time to go.

  8. Nate Cardon on October 2, 2004 at 1:46 pm

    I’m excited to see Elder Uchtdorf as an apostle. I’m less excited to see Elder Bednar. I’ve been at two stake conferences where he spoke, and both times he seemed full of vitriol. Of course, I sustained him and perhaps my differences with him are mostly personality. And fortunately, the Church is not based on the individuals who lead it. Still, when President Hinckley announced the apostles, I started out with a big smile and ended with a grimace.

  9. Ronan James Head on October 2, 2004 at 1:51 pm

    I imagine that, considering Elder Uchtdorf will now spend most of his days in Utah, he will become an American citizen if he isn’t already. Kenneth Johnson, an English GA, did the same. It’s a shame, but probably necessary. As a non-American Mormon I’m thrilled the Apostleship reflects (again) the diversity of Church membership.

  10. Ben S. on October 2, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    There’s also this link from the Church site.

  11. Mark B on October 2, 2004 at 2:18 pm

    That a foreign apostle is from Germany, and not a Spanish-speaking country, is one more evidence that we do not see things as God does, and that He will do things His way.

  12. Mark Mason on October 2, 2004 at 2:21 pm

    Also posted at lds.org are the Biography of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and the Biography of Elder David A. Bednar. It is exciting to see two people, relatively unexpected in the rumor mill, called by inspiration.

  13. Rob on October 2, 2004 at 2:21 pm

    There we go…member of the Presidency of the 70 and a president of a Church school. The pattern holds. As for their backgrounds, looks like the call to be an apostle starts in ones thirties, if not earlier. Probably helps all of us who aren’t in the pipeline already to not aspire ;)

  14. Hans Hansen on October 2, 2004 at 2:30 pm

    Ja, it’s good to see a European again in da Quorum, but I tink ve need anudder Norwegian some time soon.

  15. Bryce I on October 2, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    A minor quibble — we should probably use American/non-American instead of American/foreign to distinguish between the nationalities of the apostles. The internet knows no boundaries :)

    Unfortunately, I don’t get to see conference today. Thanks for posting the information.

  16. Benjamin Huff on October 2, 2004 at 4:14 pm

    Why would Elder Uchtdorf need to become a citizen? I can’t imagine there aren’t provisions for people in his sort of position. It would seem a shame. It’s not just a matter of paperwork. Plus, they’ve already done a couple of test runs with apostles stationed far from SLC for extended periods. If they can have one stationed in Chile, why not Germany?

  17. Hans Hansen on October 2, 2004 at 4:50 pm

    Let’s not forget that Marion G. Romney was born in Mexico and was the last foreign-born Apostle before Uchtdorf.

  18. Benjamin Huff on October 2, 2004 at 5:45 pm

    I don’t know what the best arrangement is now, but the milestone I am looking forward to is the day when we have an apostle (and later, several) who remains most strongly connected, in social, political, and cultural terms, with his native, non-U.S. country, or region anyway (though obviously he will also take up with vigor the global perspective of a world church). I’m looking forward to when we have not only stakes, wards, and temples all over the world, but LDS populations that produce apostle-class leaders all over the world.

  19. Keith on October 2, 2004 at 6:31 pm

    Ben,

    What you hope for in “apostle-class leaders all over the world” will be more and more necessary. We are seeing a shifting of many responsibilities to Stake Presidents, from them to Bishops and so on. Only recently, in a meeting with Bishops, our Stake President spoke about an incident where he called the First Presidency regarding a difficult matter. He was told that while it was appropriate/required in the past that he call, from then on in these matters, the Stake President would have authority to decide. There will always be the governing quorums and a world-wide organization, but it’s also true, as some have said, that in many ways the church is no bigger than a stake, no bigger than a ward.

    Whether we will see large numbers of international members in the Twelve is another question of course (there are only twelve after all), but imagine the genuine blessing to have local leaders, teachers, and members with the same witness and guidance of the Spirit had by apostles and prophets, not to mention the same diligence and loyalty. As Moses said, Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets.

  20. John H on October 2, 2004 at 8:45 pm

    I remember Elder Packer’s speech a few conferences ago when he added up the ages of the Brethren and spoke on their collective wisdom and experience. I don’t think anyone can deny that they are all thoughtful, wise people with tons of experience on their side, so his message was well taken.

    On the other hand, there are of course certain things they have no collective experience in, such as being a woman, being gay, being black, or being raised outside of the United States. Obviously at this point in the Church, there isn’t much to do about the first two, but I welcome changes that can add some people with experiences in the last two.

  21. JL on October 2, 2004 at 8:59 pm

    Keith,
    That fact scares me. You said that more power is being transferred to the local level. I have less faith in local leaders than I do in the GAs. That stems from very bad personal experience resulting directly from the decisions made by our stake leaders. My father was excommunicated because of some extra-marital illegal activity. My mother was told by the stake president that it was her fault my father ‘strayed’ and that she should work it out with him. How is it that ANY person, let alone a stake president can determine it’s a woman’s fault that her husband prefers pubescent boys???? My mother listened to him and believed what he said and our lives were miserable because they stayed married. I shudder to think what else can happen with more power delegation to the crazy locals.

    You might think this is an extreme case and a bad example of what can wrong. But, actually, pedophilia is way more common than most of us want to believe. It’s usually handled with a hush hush wink and nod amongst the bishops and stake presidents. There’s a book called Paper Dolls (I think that’s the title) documenting cases within mormonism and presents statistics about the problem.

  22. Keith on October 2, 2004 at 10:26 pm

    JL,
    The general issue you write about is always a potential problem–that is, that someone in authority may make a mistake. While there’s no way to guarantee that a mistake isn’t made, or that someone doesn’t exercise unrighteous dominion, there is a system of checks and balances (including those in higher authority, as well as the honest counsel of counselors and others). Additionally, what you say only underscores the need to have people with the wisdom, love, and guidance of the Spirit in deeply powerful ways–in all places and in all callings.

  23. Ethesis (Stephen M) on October 2, 2004 at 10:36 pm

    . How is it that ANY person, let alone a stake president can determine it’s a woman’s fault that her husband prefers pubescent boys????

    Really underscores the need local leaders have to call the 1-800 hotline and listen when they are told to excommunicate ASAP, segregate the offender from their targets, turn them into the police and not blame any of the other victims.

    My sister-in-law got that sort of advice, but she was in the Salt Lake area. Our local JRCLS had a bishop give a presentation on that when I was the local president — what Stake Presidents and Bishops need to know. Many attended, though the presentation was for attorneys in the JRCLS who might get asked questions by them.

  24. Kim Siever on October 2, 2004 at 10:58 pm

    “Canada shares so much cultural…history. (Perhaps a Canadian might take offense).”

    Yes, I take offense. Not at your comment, but at the idea. :(

  25. Jim Richins on October 2, 2004 at 11:52 pm

    Please elaborate, Kim. I am here to learn.

    I have several Canadian friends; it is upon the fruits of those friendships that I based my opinion. Obviously, my friends do not represent a complete cross section of the Canadian population – nor does T&S.

    Everyone has stereotypes. Anyone who denies that their behavior is affected by stereotypes is fooling themselves. What’s important is what we do with those stereotypes. Rather than attempt to defend mine out of a fear thay my world will collapse around me if my stereotypes fail, I seek to destroy them in an effort to better understand both my world and myself.

    Please tell me – why does the idea that Canada and America share much in common offend you?

  26. D. Edwards on October 3, 2004 at 10:09 am

    In regards to having a foreign(non-American) general authority becoming an US citizen, I would have to disagree. Firstly, I would like to comment on the fact that US immigration is much more strict in giving out citizenship than it used to be. Even if the church is able to pull some strings and get a shortcut in applying him a citizenship, it may become much too inconvenient for him and his family (e.g.- being a permanent resident requireds an applicant to stay within US border for more than half of the year, therefore making not being able to be stationed elsewhere). I am not sure whether Germany recognizes dual citizenship currently, but if this is not the case, he will have to throw away all the privileges as a German citizen.

    Secondly, if he has been working as a member in a presidency of seventies as a non-US citizen, I see no reason why he must become a citizen of US in order to fulfill his mission. I assume that he has some sort of visa (maybe a permanent resident but I doubt that for the reasons stated above) and has been getting paid and traveling just fine. I think the church is more likely to get more advantages if he stayed as a German citizen.

    I don’t think becoming a US citizen was something that the church required past GAs to do, but was something that they chose to do (like already living in Utah). In contrary to everything I have said so far though, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if he still becomes an US citizen. I am sure there are many legal issues that I am not aware of, and maybe much more convinient for him to become one.

  27. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 10:46 am

    “why does the idea that Canada and America share much in common offend you”

    Canada has struggled for its entire existence to establish its own culture. What little culture had been present has now been eroded by the influence of American television, movies, radio, publications, educators and now the Internet. Words that were once common in Panda (e.g. chesterfield, serviette) have been replaced by American counterparts. Common British spellings for words are rapidly being dropped for American spelling. Canadian pronunciation for words is being pushed out for American accents. Canadian theatre is set aside for the more popular American plays. American musicians dominate the Canadian airwaves and dancing venues. American television shows and films are watched consistently more than Canadian counterparts. Canada has been overrun by American cuisine. Canadian companies are being bought up by American ones. Canada’s economic future is dependent on the viability of American economy.

    The list goes on.

    My ethnic heritage includes French, Czech, Dutch, Spanish, English, Scottish, German, and Cree. For many years, I have been struggling with trying to identify with a culture. Having such a hodgepodge of ancestral background has provided me with a hodgepodge of cultural allegiances with none providing themselves as one that I can strongly say , “I am French” or “I am Scottish”.

    The closest I have is claiming that “I am Canadian”; however, that means nothing anymore. I might as well just say, “I am American”.

  28. John David Payne on October 3, 2004 at 11:07 am

    It’s been a humbling morning for me. After talking with my roommates about foreign-born apostles, I ended up calling my dad to get the final word. He got out one of his church books and we got it all figured out. I was going to post the whole business here, so everyone would see how smart I am. Then I discovered that the church had posted all this information on their website. And that Dan Richards had posted this same information a couple of months ago. And that Gordon Smith had linked to Dan’s post yesterday afternoon. So I got beat to the punch not just once, but multiple times. Doh!

    What do we learn from this? Well, time runs faster here than it does in meatspace, that’s for sure. And the blog hive mind, it is better than my poor little solitary brain. I should have known better. Never again will I underestimate the awesome power of Times and Seasons.

  29. a random John on October 3, 2004 at 1:32 pm

    Kim,

    Are you saying that you are offended that Canada has failed to establish its own unique culture? While I can’t say that I identify with your feelings, it seems to me that taking offense is an odd reaction. I could see being offended if there were concrete differences that were being overlooked, but what you describe strikes me as a sense of shame that Canada has become an appendage to the US rather than offense. Of course this post is probably providing plenty of reason for offense, but that is not my purpose. I am trying to understand what it is you are saying and feeling. Could you elaborate?

  30. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    a random John,

    My offence comes not from Canada’s failure to establish a unique culture. Rather it comes from what was emerging as a unique culture being thwarted by the dominance of another culture in our country; in this case, American culture. I do not feel ashamed that Canadian culture has become an appendage of American culture. It is most definitely offence. I suppose partly it is feelings of despair and hopelessness as well.

  31. a random John on October 3, 2004 at 2:46 pm

    Kim,

    Who is committing the offense? If Canada cannot establish a unique culture is that someone else’s fault?

  32. Ivan Wolfe on October 3, 2004 at 2:48 pm

    John – I blame the Illuminati.

    ;-)

  33. Larry on October 3, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    As a Canadian I find it almost humourous that my fellow citizens cry about any identity with the United States. I, for one, am proud to have them as neighbours and to call them friends.
    I recognize their weaknesses but I also acknowledge their strengths. Free speech is alive and well in the U.S.. Here in Canada we won’t tolerate Fox News but all hail Al-jazeera.
    God bless America and your ability to espouse true freedom. We have our strengths too, but they don’t show up as obviously as yours do.

  34. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 3:06 pm

    Canada has tried establishing its own culture. But when another culture comes in and dominates, what can you do? When consumers want to see multi-million dollar products of Hollywood with multi-million dollar advertising budgets rather than seeing a independent film sponsored by the NFB, what can you do? When cable television providers provides dozens of American channels while only offering six Canadian ones, what can you do? When the same television stations advertise American products and service, what can you do? When American music stores offer a dramatically higher percentage of music by American artists than Canadian ones, what can you do? When Canadian restaurant chains are bought by American companies and then offer American foods, what can you do? When universities and city theatres predominantly favour American plays over Canadian ones, what do you do? When the newsstands offer more American magazines than Canadian ones, what can you do?

    The list goes on.

    I repeat again, that Canada has made efforts in the past to establishing its own culture. However that was before the surge in American media in the last fifty years and before the introduction of free trade.

    Canada cannot currently establish its own culture because there are too many barriers. The Canadian consumer is too complacent and now to comfortable in the current situation to care about it, let alone to do anything about it.

  35. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 3:18 pm

    “As a Canadian I find it almost humourous that my fellow citizens cry about any identity with the United States.”

    As a Canadian I find it almost humorous that my fellow Canadians would rather adopt a foreign culture than to maintain/develop our own.

    ” I, for one, am proud to have them as neighbours and to call them friends”

    I, for one, am happy to have Americans as neighbours and friends as well, but my friendship with Americans is irrelevant to the effect of American culture in Canada.

    “Free speech is alive and well in the U.S”

    Is this implying that free speech is not available in Canada? Funny, I guess the cops forgot to arrest and abuse me when I was participating in public protests in the past.

    “Here in Canada we won’t tolerate Fox News but all hail Al-jazeera.”

    Here in Canada, too many people tolerate Fox News, as if it is the all authoritative, end all source of news and information in the world. I am not sure where the Al-jazeera comment comes from since I do not know a single Canadian who watchs the station.

    “God bless America and your ability to espouse true freedom.”

    I do not understand this comment. Is it suggesting that somehow our freedoms are contrived, not real?

    “We have our strengths too, but they don’t show up as obviously as yours do.”

    Maybe having a dominant culture would remedy that.

  36. Hans Hansen on October 3, 2004 at 3:29 pm

    Speaking as an American with some Canadian ancestry, I can say that I am proud of my Canadian roots, as well as my Norwegian, German, French, and English origins. As a matter of fact my daughter is currently serving in the Canada Toronto East Mission.

    So all I can offer to my fellow Americans is this advice: Lighten up and get off Canada’s back. It’s a country with a proud history and many of its own traditions. Don’t throw everyone together into a big American pot; each country has its own unique flavor.

  37. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    “Lighten up and get off Canada’s back.”

    I appreciate the support Hans, but I hope you weren’t referring to anyone here. Everyone here has been quite cordial regarding this topic.

  38. Silas S on October 3, 2004 at 3:33 pm

    Um, I’m Canadian and I find this thread retarded. It’s supposed to be discussing the new apostles, not discussing the sociocultural relationships in North America.

  39. Mark Mason on October 3, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    JL said: “I shudder to think what else can happen with more power delegation to the crazy locals.”

    JL, I feel for your situation. It sounds terribly stressful. However, having sat on many disciplinary councils as a high councilor I witnessed the power of inspiration and revelation accompanying those meetings. I for one would follow my past stake president (he was just released after serving 9.5 years) and our current stake president anywhere they asked me to go. And for that matter any stake president or bishop I have ever served under and with. They were all men of God and I trusted their judgment.

    As for your family, I cannot speak for them, for your father, nor for all of the details of the disciplinary council that your stake president was privileged to know and you will never be aware of. These men are entirely defenseless. They cannot speak of all that is told to them. They are under covenant not to disclose those intimate details that they alone are privileged to hear. But I know they are inspired. I have made it my personal practice that when I do not understand the ruling of those brethren who are given priesthood keys (Stake Presidents and Bishops) I always error on the side of mercy in their behalf. I have always found they knew things I did not know.

    Without question your mother is very faithful and I trust the Lord will bless her for her faithfulness. In the eternal perspective, one might then weigh all of the consequences of inspiration. As we now “see through a glass darkly” we must trust the Lord and His servants. In the eternities to come we might then see all that was at stake at such pivotal crossroads and all that transpired because of faithful counsel given and received. The pain we endure now is custom tailored curriculum Elder Maxwell says. I love D&C 112:13 for the sweet spirit and power it brings during times like these. Hold on faithfully. The priesthood is real and we need to trust those with keys.

    Mark

  40. Mark B on October 3, 2004 at 3:49 pm

    Canada is suffering from the 800 pound gorilla effect of US culture, and probably suffers more because of the proximity to us. But, as one with some ties to the country–parents who served as missionaries in the old Canadian Mission (55 years ago), a wife born in Alberta, a daughter in school in Montreal, and if things progress as she hopes, a future son-in-law from Calgary–I say “Go Canada!” It’s not the United States, and we Yankees shouldn’t be so arrogant to think that Canadians would or should want to be. Crossing the New York border into Quebec is a stark reminder that Canada is a foreign land, with all the signs in French and people who actually speak that language, but crossing the Niagara River into English-speaking Ontario is almost as strong a reminder that we are different nations. We need them to be different from us, and should be happy when they speak with a different voice.

    Vive le difference!

    And now, for something completely different:

    Elder Uchtdorf could continue as a permanent resident of the U.S. (assuming that he currently has that status). The law requires that a permanent resident’s absences from the U.S. be no longer than six months (unless he has advance permission to be gone for longer than that).

    As to the difficulty of becoming a citizen, there is little in my experience to suggest that the process is at all difficult. The history and government test is, frankly, a joke, and other than that one merely has to prove five years’ residence in the U.S. since becoming a permanent resident, and that he isn’t a criminal or terrorist. I wouldn’t expect that Elder Uchtdorf would find either of those a difficulty.

    Regarding speeding the process, should E. Uchtdorf decide to become a citizen, there are only two things that could be done–get someone (a senator, perhaps) to push the USCIS to act more quickly than the usual 10 to 15 months to process the application, or have that same someone push a special bill through congress to grant citizenship. The five year residency requirement is statutory, and couldn’t be shortened without a special bill.

  41. Hans Hansen on October 3, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    Ok, I’ll say nothing more about Canada.

    I’ve been watching Elder Uchtdorf with interest over the past few years and have been very impressed with his speaking style, his strength in the gospel, and the way he presents himself. It’s great to see a German apostle; I wonder if this is could be a manifestation of Joseph Smith’s statement that “the Germans are an exalted people”?

  42. Clark Goble on October 3, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    “Here in Canada, too many people tolerate Fox News, as if it is the all authoritative, end all source of news and information in the world. I am not sure where the Al-jazeera comment comes from since I do not know a single Canadian who watchs the station.”

    I thought the Canadian government didn’t allow Fox News to be broadcast in Canada. Is this wrong?

    I’d have more sympathy to the claim of free speech were I allowed to watch the TV shows I want via dishes instead of being treated like a criminal. Same with magazines published in Canada that are forced by regulation to carry “Canadian content.” No offense Kim, but that’s hardly “free.”

    I’d be the first to say that Americans have some odd views of Canada. But as for developing a unique culture, I think that in an age of globalism that is less likely. Most unique cultures developed over hundreds of years when there wasn’t a lot of travel. Such insularism allowed unique traditions to develop. If anything, I expect uniqueness to disappear as time goes on. The same thing happens in the US. Whereas there used to be huge differences between the south, the northeast, and the west, those differences are disappearing.

    With regards to Canada, I’d actually say that surprisingly it is developing a more unique culture. Even when I was a kid it was heavy in terms of British culture with some American culture due to similar environments and then, of course, TV. But I think that Canadians have been bristling under what they see as American dominance and have developed a fairly different culture. Sometimes not as different as they think it is. (i.e. it’s often not that different from “slacker” culture in Oregon and Washington state) But it is developing, in part due to the more socialized view of government. Even the most American province, the one you reside it, is becoming less, not more American, from what I see. (Well, outside of Mormondom in Alberta which tries to out Utah Utahns)

  43. ed on October 3, 2004 at 5:16 pm

    I don’t think Canadian culture is being overwhelmed by US culture. Rather, the two are merging into a common North American culture, which is overwhelming (but also enriching) local cultures in both the US and Canada. Plenty of Canadians are influential in this culture. (I’m sure you could make a long list without my help.) Of course, they often move to New York or LA or something, but so do people from Wisconsin or Texas.

    And don’t forget the problem of Quebec culture being overwhelmed by Canadian culture :-).

  44. Jack on October 3, 2004 at 6:32 pm

    Kim:

    What can any of us in the U.S. do about the cable channels, newspapers and magezines, fastfood resaurants and the like that dominate our own culture? Many americans are sickened by what they see going on within their own borders and are more sickened by the brazen exportation of those things to other countries via the media and other slick enterprises.

  45. John H on October 3, 2004 at 7:41 pm

    Errr… So how bout that Elder Bednar?

  46. john fowles on October 3, 2004 at 8:26 pm

    I was surprised at how young Elder Bednar looks! I mean, at 52 he is very young for an apostle, but I think he looks very young for a 52 year old.

  47. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 8:31 pm

    “Rather, the two are merging into a common North American culture”

    That is quite laughable. I could see it as more believable if you had said American culture is absorbing Canadian culture. However, to state that the two cultures are merging implies that remnants of the separate cultures should be present in the new byproduct. What remnants of the Canadian culture are present within the United States?

    “Plenty of Canadians are influential in this culture”

    Participatory and influential are not the same thing. It is one thing to be an actor in Hollywood who happened to be born in Canada. It is quite another to be a Canadian actor in Hollywood who is bringing Canadian culture into film through acting, writing and directing. The latter I do not see anywhere.

    “What can any of us in the U.S. do about the cable channels, newspapers and magezines, fastfood resaurants and the like that dominate our own culture?”

    My point isn’t about American cable companies, media and restaurant chains dominating American culture. My point is these institutions influencing Canadian culture. I have absolutely no problems culturally with Canadian cable companies,. media and restaurant chains dominating Canadian culture. After all, they would be the vehicles for perpetuating the culture.

    “I thought the Canadian government didn’t allow Fox News to be broadcast in Canada. Is this wrong?”

    There are a lot of things the govenment doesn’t allow that people still do anyhow.

    “No offense Kim, but that’s hardly “free.â€?”

    I suppose it depends on your viewpoint. I have never had my voice restricted, yet I have been very outspoken many times on various issues. I even ran for office three years ago. Form my vantage point, I am very free to express myself.

    “Canadians have been bristling under what they see as American dominance and have developed a fairly different culture.”

    I would be interested if you could define this culture. Ever since I wrote a paper on the Americanisation of Canadian culture back in college, I have yet to find a current, unique culture in Canada.

  48. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 8:32 pm

    John,

    My wife and I were talking about that very thing. We thought he may be even able to pass as in his late thirties or early forties. Maybe he looks younger on TV than in person though.

  49. john fowles on October 3, 2004 at 9:09 pm

    I thought he was in his forties for sure until my father-in-law set me straight.

  50. Chad Too on October 3, 2004 at 9:23 pm

    I thought the same thing. If I can trust my math he’s 52.

  51. Kim Siever on October 3, 2004 at 11:39 pm
  52. ed on October 4, 2004 at 1:35 am

    Bednar is on the young side, but his youth is not too unusual by the standards of the past. Here are the ages of the apostles when they were called to the 12. (I just subtracted birth year from calling year, so in some cases I’ll be off by a few months.)

    Hinckley 51
    Monson 36
    Packer 46
    Perry 52
    Faust 58
    Nelson 60
    Oakes 52
    Ballard 57
    Wirthlin 69
    Scott 60
    Hales 62
    Holland 54
    Eyering 62
    Uchtdorf 64
    Bednar 52

    The other apostles are very old because unusually few have died in recent years. Because of this, I’d say Bednar has a better than 50% chance of someday being president.

  53. John Mansfield on October 4, 2004 at 6:54 am

    I am only a slightly-informed outsider concerning Canada’s culture. My impression, though, is that Trudeau’s reinvention of it forty years ago weakened it by cutting off its roots. That’s just what I’ve read. What say you, Canadians?

  54. Russell Arben Fox on October 4, 2004 at 7:51 am

    “Because of this, I’d say Bednar has a better than 50% chance of someday being president.”

    Someone better at manipulating actuarial tables would have to do the math here, but I don’t know if that’s true. Certainly he has a greater statistical likelihood of living to become president of the church that Uchtdorf, but with members of the quorum so often living to an advanced age, it strikes me as unlikely that any one of them has a greater than 50% change of anything. If there is a pattern to careers in the quorum, I can’t immediately discern it; at such extremities, all bets seem to be off. Consider Elder Monson. Called at such a young age, I can remember people often speculating at how his administration would be like David O. McKay’s–a comparatively young and still vigorous person, who might hold the office for 20 years or more! As it is, President Hinckley just keeps on trucking, and Elder Monson is already 80 years old and has been ill. Anything can happen.

  55. Nate Oman on October 4, 2004 at 7:56 am

    Where is Canada?

  56. Frank McIntyre on October 4, 2004 at 8:09 am

    Nate,

    I just took a trip there so I can tell you. It turns out that if you go all the way up north past Montana or Idaho, there’s this other country up there. The people up there apparently never revolted with the 13 colonies, so they’re sort of like a British colony still. Apparently they don’t get FOX news, (probably because the are too far north). Internet connections still work though. And there are actually several airlines that fly there regularly. You should go see it sometime.

  57. Russell Arben Fox on October 4, 2004 at 8:12 am

    “My impression, though, is that Trudeau’s reinvention of [the Canadian state] forty years ago weakened it by cutting off its roots.”

    This is actually a fairly common argument. George Grant’s Lament for a Nation makes this point well, though he connects to larger social and economic issues. Canadian thinkers on the left (Guy Laforest, Charles Taylor) have made this claim as well, though in different ways and not always to the same extent. Of course, Trudeau was also clearly the most “heroic” (that is, larger than life, visionary, etc.) Canadian PM in a century, so his record poses a problem for Canadian patriotism.

    Speaking of which, Kim, you’re clearly a Canadian patriot, for which I salute you. Firstly because I think patriotism is, in general, a virtue; and secondly because I’ve known very few Canadians who’d qualify for that title. There is a lot of political rhetoric about resistance, of course, and Clark may be right that there is something “cultural” about that attitude; however, I think you are correct when you imply that most Canadian consumers (outside of Quebec at least, which for obvious reasons still has a lot of deep cultural resources to draw upon) have become too complacent to feel much by way of “patriotic” attachment. (I hope you don’t take this as an attack, as really I find such a state of affairs both unfortunate and politically unhealthy.)

  58. Mark B on October 4, 2004 at 8:44 am

    Actually, President Monson was born in 1927, which means that he just turned 77. That quibble aside, I am still surprised at how old he is compared to how old I thought he would be when . . .

    Back in 1966, when I first attended a priesthood session in the tabernacle, he looked like a boy among old men, and I thought (as I suspect thousands of others did) that he would be a relatively young man when he became the president of the church. But, he keeps getting older and he’s still not there.

    Even if he were to become the president of the church next week, however, that wouldn’t mean much for longevity. Harold B. Lee seemed like and was a young man (73 when he became the president) compared to Joseph Fielding Smith (95 at his death). Less than 18 months later he was dead.

  59. John Mansfield on October 4, 2004 at 10:24 am

    Brother Fox,

    Since you asked, I ran off a table of the probabilities. The numbers shown are the probability that a white, American male of the age of each of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve who is alive at the end of 2004 would also be alive at the end of the year heading each column. The last row gives the probability that a man of Elder Bednar’s age would survive a collection of fourteen men whose ages are those of Elder Bednar’s fellow church leaders. Of course, I am not speculating as to the likelihood of Elder Bednar some day being president of the Church. I would never consider that question. Never.

    The mortality rates comes from the preliminary death data for 2002, available at the CDC web site.

    2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035
    0.835 0.338 0.137 0.056 0.023 0.009 0.004 HIN
    0.932 0.657 0.298 0.121 0.049 0.020 0.008 MON
    0.932 0.527 0.214 0.087 0.035 0.014 0.006 PAC
    0.932 0.422 0.171 0.069 0.028 0.011 0.005 PER
    0.835 0.338 0.137 0.056 0.023 0.009 0.004 FAU
    0.932 0.527 0.214 0.087 0.035 0.014 0.006 NEL
    0.972 0.714 0.503 0.228 0.092 0.037 0.015 OAK
    0.932 0.657 0.332 0.135 0.055 0.022 0.009 BAL
    0.835 0.338 0.137 0.056 0.023 0.009 0.004 WIR
    0.932 0.657 0.332 0.135 0.055 0.022 0.009 SCO
    0.972 0.714 0.503 0.228 0.092 0.037 0.015 HAL
    0.972 0.843 0.702 0.495 0.312 0.127 0.051 HOL
    0.972 0.744 0.525 0.265 0.108 0.044 0.018 EYR
    0.972 0.843 0.702 0.495 0.312 0.127 0.051 UCH
    0.995 0.946 0.894 0.789 0.685 0.503 0.355 BED
    0.000 0.000 0.001 0.038 0.171 0.298 0.288 Bednar survives

  60. Jim Richins on October 4, 2004 at 11:43 am

    John,

    Fascinating table.

    I assume that the probabilities are a function solely of age, and that any known preexisting conditions are not factored in?

  61. ed on October 4, 2004 at 12:09 pm

    Interesting table. So that implies that Pres. Hinckley has a 6% probability of living another 16 years, and a 1% chance of living another 25 years? Those numbers seem a lot higher than I would guess (although for him in particular it would seem more plausible…he appears unusually vigorous for his age.)

    Also I don’t understand how you got the final row…are you sure that’s right? I tried to recalculate and I get somewhat higher numbers. Still, it looks like the calculations I did in my head during a boring stretch of priesthood session were unrealistic :-).

  62. JWL on October 4, 2004 at 12:26 pm

    Nate Cardon —

    “I was less excited to see Elder Bednar. I’ve been at two stake conferences where he spoke, and both times he seemed full of vitriol.”

    Care to elaborate? In contrast to Elder Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar’s first GC talk seemed fairly flat. His resume indicates that he was an organizational behavior professor before going into full-time Church administration as president of Ricks. One might hope that he could bring some modern management perspectives to the top leadership (e.g. the advantages of listening to the people on the front line rather than just talking down to them, intelligent streamlining of bloated bureacracies, etc.). It would be unfortunate if he is just going to turn out to be an Organization Man.

    JL —

    Care to share the time frame of your unfortunate family experience? My impression is that the Church has made a lot of improvement in training local leaders to deal with these issues, but only in recent years. Prior to that, yours is not the only case where inspiration was not an adequate substitute for training and professional information on issues which were previously widely misunderstood and subject to extensive misconceptions.

    JWL

  63. Kim Siever on October 4, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    “Internet connections still work though.”

    At the highest number of Internet connections per capita of any country in the world, they better. ;-)

    “Where is Canada? ”

    When we would do Primary presentations on my mission, I used to ask this question. Inevitably, almost every time the children would respond with, “It’s above the United States”. Yeah, you know it, baby.

    “Kim, you’re clearly a Canadian patriot…I hope you don’t take this as an attack”

    No, I take it as a compliment. actually, you may be surprised at the number of patriots here. Or maybe like-minded individuals flock together so my circle of influence is slanted and it just seems like a lot. ;-)

  64. David on October 4, 2004 at 12:32 pm

    John,

    I have checked your calculations with a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. He tells me that your number 28.8% may be correct (within about 10%), but he questions the table and the methodology (actuarial tables assume that there a 0% likelihood of living to 115 or beyond). He tells me it looks like you have calculated the likelihood that in the year 2035, Elder Bednar is alive, and everyone else is deceased. It does not take into account that Elder Bednar may have become the last survivor in an earlier year, and himself have passed away by 2035.

  65. JWL on October 4, 2004 at 12:33 pm

    I am an American who is very proud of having Canadian ancestry and sincerely hopes that Canada maintains a distinctive national character. However, can we please move this discussion someplace else? I am really interested in getting points of view on the new apostles and other church laedership questions.

  66. John Mansfield on October 4, 2004 at 12:46 pm

    The create the mortality rates, the 2,447,864 people who died in the United States in 2002 were sorted into various categories of sex, race, and age. The age groups are under 1 year, 1-4 years, and then ten year groups up to 75-84 years. All the dead who were 85 or older were one group. The number of dead in a given group was divided by the number of living people in that group to give a death rate “rounded to the nearest whole individual.” (We are easier to count when we stop moving.)

    So, these rates don’t account for diabetes or nicotine in the blood or an annointing to preach to all the world. Also, that 85 and older bracket is broad for our purposes. I think our intuition is correct that the odds of a 94 year old man living to be 115 are not one out of twenty.

    That bottom row is the probability that someone Elder Bednar’s age (NOT Elder Bednar!) lives to a given year and that someone Elder Uchtdorf’s age will die by that year and that someone Elder Eyring’s age will also be dead and so on. The
    probability of this event X, is
    P(X) = P(X1)*(1-P(X2))*(1-P(X3))* … *(1-P(X15)),
    where event X1 is a given person being alive.
    For the year 2025, this would be
    0.685*(1-0.312*(1-0.108)*(1-0.312)*(1-0.092)*(1-0.055)*(1-0.023)*(1-0.055)*(1-0.035)*(1-0.023)*(1-0.028)*(1-0.035)*(1-0.049)*(1-0.023) = 0.171

    Actual actuaries no doubt have better mortality rate models. They make money by having the right numbers. My table does include the possibility of Elder Bednar surviving his 14 seniors and then dying. In any given year, to have survived, he must still be alive and all the rest must be dead. The probability of that event may be higher than 0.3 sometime just before or after 2030. I haven’t looked. It doesn’t appear that it would go above 0.5 though.

  67. John Mansfield on October 4, 2004 at 12:51 pm

    Sorry, I hit send early. That first paragraph needs a little editting. At any rate, I wonder if Elder Eyring has noticed the increased curiosity about his future death.

  68. John Mansfield on October 4, 2004 at 1:06 pm

    I typed the arithmetic wrong. For those who care, it should have been
    0.685*(1-0.312)*(1-0.108)*(1-0.312)*(1-0.092)*(1-0.055)*(1-0.023)*(1-0.055)*(1-0.092)*(1-0.035)*(1-0.023)*(1-0.028)*(1-0.035)*(1-0.049)*(1-0.023) = 0.171

    Now that I remember it, earlier this year in our stake conference, Elder Eyring joked about the implications for him that both his parents died of cancer.

  69. ed on October 4, 2004 at 1:08 pm

    D’oh! You are right. My mistake: I used a sum of logs to create the product (because I didn’t know until just now that Excel has a “product” function), but I didn’t realize that “log” is base 10 rather than base e.

    Still, I agree with Dave’s comment. The table gives as the 29.8% probability that Bednar is the prophet in 2030, but that is not the same as the probability that Bednar HAS BEEN the prophet by 2030 (because he might have been the prophet earlier but then died.) For example, there appears to be a 4.5% chance that Bednar is the prophet in 2025 but then dies sometime before 2030 (.171*(.685-.503)/.685). So the total chance of Bednar having been prophet by 2030 is greater than 29.8% + 4.5% = 34.3%.

  70. David on October 4, 2004 at 1:24 pm

    John,

    My FSA friend ran pro bono actuarial calculations using the 1994 group annuity mortality table for males and the 1983 individual annuity mortality table for males.

    He tells me that under the 1994 GAM, the odds of a male Elder Bednar’s age having becoming the last survivor of a group of 15 males of the ages of the 15 apostles at some point by the year 2035 is 54.1% (this includes the possibility he would have become the last survivor, and then died before 2035). Using the 1983 IAM, the odds are 49.5% (largely because using IAM data (which assumes longer life expectancies) there are greater odds that at least one other will be alive in 2035). He projected the odds under the 1994 GAM to 2040, and they increased to 59%. He had to go to a meeting, and did not project the odds under the 1983 GAM to 2040, or beyond.

    His pro bono engagement did not include preparing a report, or more specifically critiquing other calculations. I am sure he would be happy to do so for a modest hourly rate (redeemable in earthly, not heavenly, currency).

  71. John Mansfield on October 4, 2004 at 1:45 pm

    David and Ed,

    I see your point. Being the last survivor in 2030 (what I calculated), doesn’t include the possibility of having been last survivor and dying before 2030.

  72. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! on October 4, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    The great thing about Canada is, since they do not need to concern themselves with military spending (knowing the U.S. will always bail them out if need be), they can continute to pour billions into failed social programs.

  73. ed on October 4, 2004 at 2:33 pm

    Cool…so my mental back-of-the-envelope-style calculations were pretty close after all! (I assumed death-age was uniformly distributed between 70 and 100, and I figured that would lead to a prophet-probability of around .6 to .7.)

  74. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! on October 4, 2004 at 2:41 pm

    Here’s a decent article on Elder Bednar. http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2421046

  75. Ivan Wolfe on October 4, 2004 at 4:09 pm

    Canada is “above” the United States? More like “in-between” (I’m from Alaska).

  76. Ivan Wolfe on October 4, 2004 at 4:13 pm

    And besides – anyone who has watched the amazing TV series “Due South” knows that Canada and America have different cultures.

  77. Kim Siever on October 4, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    “The great thing about Canada is, since they do not need to concern themselves with military spending (knowing the U.S. will always bail them out if need be), they can continute to pour billions into failed social programs.”

    A perfect contribution to the discussion on Canadian culture. Very insightful indeed.

    When it comes down to it, I am less interested in speculating whether Elder Bednar will be the last surviving of the current fifteen and more interested in who will be President Hinckley’s successor. Does everyone just assume President Monson will be next?

  78. Clark Goble on October 4, 2004 at 4:43 pm

    I think Pres. Monson looked quite ill on the weekend. My bet is that he’ll die before Pres. Hinkley. (What a morbid discussion, btw) I think Pres. Packer will be President, if only to piss some people off.

  79. Scottwick on October 4, 2004 at 6:01 pm

    This is my first time to visit or comment on this board. But back on topic: It is cool that we have a foreign-born and speaking Apostle. But we can’t assume that he will preside in Europe at all. The Lord will call him wherever he is needed. Whether he be in the US or South America doesn’t really matter. So the discussion about him becoming an American citizen might not be grounded at all. Maybe he’ll need a Brazilian passport. Statistically it becomes more probable that we have non-US General Authorities… but that doesn’t mean it will work that way. The Lord doesn’t have to call a German General Authority to be effective in Germany. Apostles and Seventies do just fine in foreign countries. They have an even greater mantle than missionaries do, and missionaries do great.

  80. Larry on October 4, 2004 at 9:07 pm

    To my friend USA USA
    Your comment is precisely why so many “foreigners” don’t have anything nice to say about your country. They acknowledge the moral foundations and the constitution but recognize in an almost innate way the “Zoramite disease” that permeates some thinking. Kim and I are together in thanking you for your contribution to what has been a civil discussion.
    As for the calling of the new apostles, I wonder how many others felt a surge run thru their body at the time Pres. Hinckley announced their names. To me it was a confirmation in answer to a prayer. What a wonderful experience it was.

  81. Jack on October 4, 2004 at 11:12 pm

    While USA! USA!’s comment may have been a little brazen, there is an element of truth in the fact that if anyone messes with Canada they’ll be messing with the U.S.. And I think that applies to most Americans in a personal sense. : )

  82. Larry on October 4, 2004 at 11:17 pm

    Thank you for that point. That is what friendship is all about.:) May we be as faithful in our commitment.

  83. John Mansfield on October 5, 2004 at 8:03 am

    There is a another point to the military spending question. Some Canadians lament that their nation, which used to punch above its weight, has become irrelevant militarily. Then they connect that, correctly or not, to bureaucratic boondoggles like the gun registry and the flag program. It is also interesting for a consideration of preserving Canadian culture, that Mr. Martin’s recent scandals came out of culture spending.

    I’ll ask again, since it is relevant, and only Brother Fox commented: What do you think has been the effect for Canadian cultural strength of such things as trading Dominion Day for Canada Day? Has a heritage been traded away leaving not much in its place?

  84. Mark B on October 5, 2004 at 9:00 am

    Vimy Ridge. Dieppe.

    Those two names alone should move all Canada with pride for the courage of its sons and with sorrow for their terrible loss. And they should cause us Yankees to stop and learn and thank our Canadian brothers for their sacrifice.

  85. John Mansfield on October 5, 2004 at 9:17 am

    David and Ed,

    I tried again. This time I calculated the probability that in the year the current 52-year-old dies, his 14 seniors are dead. If the 52-year-old and a senior die in the same year, tie goes to the youngster. I get at 21.2% probability that the 52-year-old survives by 2035, 38.3% by 2040, and 53.7% by 2070. My mortality model is skewing into the future the death of very old men, but my result for the question (Will the Bednar-aged man ever be the survivor?) is close to that from David’s actuary friend. I am also comforted by your reminder, David, of the power of ballpark estimates using simple, reasonable assumptions.

    One caveat in all this is that mortality rates are changing. In the CDC’s final report on 2001 deaths, there is an interesting figure showing death rates by sex and age group since 1955. For nearly all groups, there has been a continual and large decline in mortality. I had no idea death had changed so much, even within the last twenty years.

  86. John Mansfield on October 5, 2004 at 9:47 am

    Vimy Ridge and Dieppe are part of the heritage whose loss I am wondering about. I understand that Trudeau was ambivalent about Canada’s role in liberating France. Martin confused Normandy with Norway.

  87. Kim Siever on October 5, 2004 at 2:22 pm

    “What do you think has been the effect for Canadian cultural strength of such things as trading Dominion Day for Canada Day?”

    I think such a move went further to strengthen national pride and patriotism. Does that equate into strengthening culture? I am doubtful that it does. I am prone to think that culture is more than patriotism.

  88. Larry on October 5, 2004 at 10:26 pm

    There was a time when I was young that my national pride was tied up in our historical ties to the early explorers like Champlain and the couer-de-bois, the Hudson Bay Company, our British roots, our French roots, the NWMP, Father Lacombe, the Cree, the Blackfoot, Laura Secord, the war of 1812, our roles in the 2 world wars (my grandfather was at Vimy Ridge, my Dad was the radio man for the artillery going thru Italy and was present at all the major battles) and the story of the Red River pioneers etc.
    Today my children and grandchildren go huh!? Trudeau changed the face of Canadian culture by making it multicultured and changed the face of education to everything but our history.

  89. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! on October 5, 2004 at 10:54 pm

    “Your comment is precisely why so many “foreignersâ€? don’t have anything nice to say about your country”

    Larry logik:

    Joe Canada says x negative about U.S.

    Joe U.S. says x negative about Canada.

    Joe Canada therefore justified not only in original x, but in all x’s to ever follow.

  90. Larry on October 6, 2004 at 12:49 am

    All Americans are Democrats and love Kerry! Get a life!

  91. Kim Siever on October 6, 2004 at 1:05 am

    I think the point USA USA is that you brought up a red herring to the discussion. I don’t think anyone absolutely had a problem with you saying something negative; however, it had nothing to do with the conversation at hand. It seemed to be nothing but an attempt to take advantage of an opportunity to get in a quick jab.

  92. Dan Richards on October 11, 2004 at 10:36 am

    Sure, the thread has been dead for nearly a week, but I can’t think of another thread suitable for posting the following statistics I just assembled:

    5.6: Average number of children of members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

    7.3: Average number of children of the six most senior members of the Quorum

    3.8: Average number of children of the six junior members of the Quorum.

    I think these statistics are an interesting reflection of the changes in Mormon birthrates generally. I think that the Mormon families of the future will be smaller, and I see a tendency among my peers of childbearing age toward families in the 2-5 child range rather than the 4-7 range that seemed to be common in my parents’ generation.

  93. Scott Steed on October 11, 2004 at 5:50 pm

    I can’t read actuary tables, but I can see certain trends when it comes to the longevity of Chruch Presidents and members of the Quorum of the Twelve. I found according to the law of averages that modern apostles (Those who were called since 1960) tend to live to the median age 0f 78.6. Our Church Presidents (excluding Harold B. Lee) tend to live to an average age of 91.

    If I were to follow these trends than I would conclude that Thomas S. Monson would one dsy serve as President of the Church, (Most of us know that he is a type 2 diabetic) and that he may end up serving a very long time (again according to trends). If the law of averages hold up, then Dallin H. Oaks would succeed President Monson, and Jeffery R. Holland would succeed Dallin H. Oaks. According to my own trend configuration, Elder Bednar would succeed Holland.

    Of course none of this means anything, because ultimately the Lord decides who lives and dies when, but according to the law of averages the following Brethren have lived longer than the average. Predident Hinckley, President Faust, Elder Packer, Elder Wirthlin, and Elder Nelson. The next to passs away will probably occur between now and the end of 2005.

    How I came up with this trend assessment. I looked the the names of every member of the first presidency and the quorum of the 12 from 1960, looked at the age at death and did the math. I know my way is not very scientific, but it puts my guesses in the ball park.

  94. Geoff Matthews on October 15, 2004 at 12:08 am

    As a Canadian, I’m sick of my birth country wallowing in an inferiority complex. It is contrary to humility to hold that someone else’s culture is undesirable simply because they are “the other”, whether that “other” is black, communist, jewish, hispanic, catholic, protestant, non-mormon or whatnot. U.S. culture dominates, but what part of it? Utah culture is different from Southern culture is different from New England culture is different from California culture (take your pick of cultures there), etc.
    Should we consider “Austin Powers” as indicative of Canadian culture? Or anything with William Shatner? Or any movie directed by James Cameron?
    I may be Canadian, but I recognise that there are some significant differences between my POV and that of someone raised in Newfoundland or Quebec, or even Ontario (which may as well be Canada).
    But then, this is terribly off topic for this forum.