And You Think The High Priests’ Group Gets Into Arguments…

December 21, 2004 | 8 comments
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Occasionally, the contented boredom of Sunday School classes is broken up by disagreements and strained but mild-mannered arguments over the fate of the sons of perdition, spirit fluid, and the like. It used to get a bit more heated. Consider the following story from Lorenzo Snow’s autobiography, describing a meeting in the Kirtland Temple in 1837:

Warren Parrish, who had been a humble, successful preacher of the Gospel, was the ringleader of [the] apostate party. One Sabbath morning, he, with several of his party, came into the Temple armed with pistols and bowie-knives, and seated themselves together in the Aaronic pulpits, on the east end of the Temple, while Father Smith and others, as usual, occupied those of the Melchisedec [sic] Priesthood on the west. Soon after the usual opening services, one of the brethren on the west stand arose, and just after he commenced to speak, one on the east interrupted him. Father Smith, presiding, called to order — he told the apostate brother that he should have all the time he wanted, but he must wait his turn — as the brother on the west took the floor and commenced first to speak, he must not be interrupted. A fearful scene ensued — the apostate speaker becoming so clamorous, that Father Smith called for the police to take the man out of the house, when Parrish, John Boynton, and others, drew their pistols and bowie-knives, and rushed down from the stand into the congregation; J. Boynton saying he would blow out the brains of the first man who dared to lay hands on him. Many in the congregation, especially women and children were terribly frightened — some tried to escape from the confusion by jumping out of the windows. Amid screams and shrieks, the policemen, in ejecting the belligerents, knocked down a stovepipe, which fell helter-skelter among the people; but, although bowie-knives and pistols were wrested from their owners, and thrown hither and thither to prevent disasterous results, no one was hurt, and after a short, but terrible scene to be enacted in a Temple of God, order was restored, and the services of the day proceeded as usual. (Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 20-21)

Now there are obviously problems with these sorts of meetings and presumeably the deep institutional memory of such events is what prompted the Church to take the radical position a few years ago of supporting a law banning concealed weapons in churches. As Father Smith’s experience illustrates, it is much better when Church leaders can see the pistols and bowie knives of disgruntled members. Still, I suspect that everyone was good and awake when the meeting resumed.

8 Responses to And You Think The High Priests’ Group Gets Into Arguments…

  1. Aaron Brown on December 21, 2004 at 8:45 pm

    Obviously, I’m going to need to tell a story here …

    Many months ago, President Hinkley came to rededicate our Los Angeles Stake Center building here in Los Angeles (Yes, we Angelenos merit visits from the Prophet at times like these. Yes, it’s because the Prophet loves us more.) The building was overflowing with people since everyone knew Hinkley was coming, even though it was officially a “secret.� Seating was on a “first come, first served� basis, except for the front two thirds of the seats on the right side of the chapel, which were designated as “reserved� for any of the “new members� who would be getting out late from an earlier meeting that took place with a general authority. However, there was some confusion as to which precise seats were reserved, so about 10 people had inadvertently sat in seats that they shouldn’t have. At one point, one of the highcouncilmen approached those sitting in the two rows and informed them that they would have to leave. All of those seated were audibly upset, and grumbled about the unfairness of the situation, but they eventually did leave their seats as requested. All of those seated, that is, except for “Roberto.�

    Roberto is one of the many colorful characters in my ward. He is a heavy-set, kind of scary-looking, opinionated, self-absorbed loud mouth, who perpetually complains about how the members all shun him because he is poor and because of where he lives (Not true, actually. He is shunned, only sometimes, because of his scary comments and belligerent tone at Church). Roberto has a persecution complex. He constantly drones on about how he is not welcome at Church, how nobody cares about him and how there is an unspoken hierarchy of worth in Mormonism that values the white, rich members, but not the brown, economically struggling folks in their midst.

    Anyway, Roberto took the invitation to leave his seat very personally. He adamantly refused to get up. He was asked multiple times to vacate the row, but each request was met with a more belligerent response. He began to loudly protest that he was the victim of insidious racial and socio-economic discrimination by his fellow Mormons. One of the highcouncilmen was not in the mood for this, and threatened to call security and have Roberto removed. Roberto was unmoved. Plans were made to have him forceably evicted from the premises. Roberto upped the ante by yelling that he was going to see the Prophet, and if anybody wanted to prevent him, they’d have to drag him out kicking and screaming (a threat he surely would have made good on).

    As a last resort, I was asked to talk some sense into Roberto, as I was one of the few members of my ward that seemed to be able to communicate with him. I made valiant efforts, but he was still unmoved. Finally, I encouraged the highcouncilman to just leave him be, as physically removing him would probably create more of a scene than it was worth.

    In retrospect, I sort of wish they’d have removed him, so he could have played the martyr at the top of his lungs, and it would have made a much better story. But I’m sure President Hinkley is glad it didn’t come to that.

    Alas, no pistols or bowie-knives that day, but at least for a little while, there was a serious chance of violent confrontation in the Prophet’s presence.

    Aaron B

  2. Adam Greenwood on December 22, 2004 at 12:19 am

    Suweeet.

    The back room interactions of the T&S cob loggers are no picnick either. The stories I could tell . . . We now affectionately refer to last month as ‘Bowie Knife November.’ And that was just Nate Oman arguing two sides of the same issue.

  3. Larry on December 22, 2004 at 12:40 am

    Adam,

    Does that make him schizophrenic and thus doubly able as a lawyer?

  4. David King Landrith on December 23, 2004 at 9:50 pm

    I’m sorry, Adam. I didn’t mean to cause any problems among the co-bloggers.

  5. Jack on December 23, 2004 at 9:57 pm

    What???

    Let’s have Nate and DKL play a game of chess shall we?

  6. David King Landrith on December 24, 2004 at 12:01 am

    Yeah. I’ll fight Nate Oman. He doesn’t scare me.

  7. Larry on December 24, 2004 at 1:03 am

    Oh the violence here! :)

  8. David Richard Hall on December 24, 2004 at 3:55 pm

    Number of Homes and number of branches in City of Zion:

    The hand drawing of the Cityof Zion shows 968 homes because the larger blocks in the middle are shown with 16 homes across. However, the written description specifies that each half acre lot is to be 66 x 330 and that the middle bock is to be 990 feet wide.. So.. the actual number of homes on the wider blocks should be 990/66 = 15 rather than 16 as drawn.. The reason this is inportant is that now there are 960 homes in “Zion” so that 10 homes can be in each of 96 branches headed up by an elder from the quorum of 96 elders..

    With an average of 20 people in each home (extended family or four plex).. We have 200 people in a branch living very close to each other (A side of the street) and when split into male and female 100 in each group….nice size for a group as lots of modern studies have shown..

    Twenty four temples each divided into four rooms with sound proof curtins yields meeting halls for all 96 branches of the church with 100 on each of the two identical floors…

    Zion was meant to be very much a house of order..