Ladies first?

April 29, 2008 | 145 comments
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Some bloggernacle women were troubled by the order of the solemn assembly: First, the Priesthood voted (all the way down to the 12-year-olds); they were followed by the women’s organizations. In a comment at FMH, Exponent blog’s Maria notes, “By having women vote after the Aaronic priesthood, it seemed as if the implication was made that those 12 year old boys either preside over or are more important than the women of the RS, including the General RS presidency. Either way, the message is harmful. I worry about the way this could make women and young women in the church feel.”

Is it inherently harmful to have women follow men in sustaining the leader?

It seems, on one level, that potential problems could arise with _any_ order.

Women first? That’s potentially patronizing (“women and children first”). It evokes traditional “ladies first” images which are frequent targets for feminist criticism.

Women last? This raises the concerns that Maria sets out in her comment.

And what if only men are allowed to go last? Actually, that is the traditional limit on closing prayers — a practice which is regularly criticized by bloggernacle feminists.

So:

Mandatory women last: This is potentially problematic, because it shows women as following men, subservient, less important.

Mandatory men last: This is potentially problematic, because it shows men as in charge, reinforces the idea that women’s statements are lighter or preparatory for men’s more important statements.

What’s the take home point, here?

Is it that feminists are never satisfied? (I suspect there will be some who see exactly that as the conclusion here).

Or, is it that _any_ formal organizational structure, rule, or norm, will tend to interact with and reinforce underlying imbalances and power disparities between genders?

If that’s the case, then “ladies first” really isn’t the issue. The bigger issue is the underlying gender imbalance, and what’s really at issue are the ways in which that dynamic surfaces in a ladies first (or last, or whatever else) context.

If that’s what we’re seeing, then the normative implications are clear. If as a society we can remedy the underlying power imbalances, then formal systems of rules or norms (such as ladies first) will often be mostly or entirely innocuous.

However, until we remedy the underlying imbalances, _any_ set of rules — ladies first, last, or in-between — will only serve to call attention to, and reinforce, the underlying power disparities.

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145 Responses to Ladies first?

  1. Mark B. on April 29, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    We could avoid all the concern about when to have the women’s organizations vote by going back to the bad old days (pre-Pres. Hinckley) when after all the priesthood quorums had voted, then the entire church membership voted, and there was no separate voting by the RS or YW.

  2. JM on April 29, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Some people just like to b!tch, no matter what the subject.

    Maybe all of the voters, regardless of gender, should be glad they even get a vote!

  3. kevinf on April 29, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Do I think the sustaining vote of women is any less significant than that of a 12 year old Deacon? No.
    Do I think that this procedure in voting is a traditional ritual, a holdover from the 19th century, ripe with cultural biases and no longer relevant? Maybe.

    The reality is that I don’t know, and nothing I have read has given me any clearer understanding. But I do observe, and this is what I have come to through observation:

    Do I think it is significant that only women bear children, and men don’t? Yes.
    Do I think that has any bearing on the assignment of priesthood roles to men only? Maybe.

    Nope, sorry, I don’t know. It’s a mystery to me, but fortunately, my wife and I are dealing with the current arrangement pretty well for now. I’ll let you know if that changes.

  4. Yet Another John on April 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    How ’bout everyone vote (sustain) at the same time. Heaven forbid we’d step on anyone’s toes.

    (Please bear in mind the above comment was written by a rural, white, middle-aged, sixth-generation Mormon male. Please temper your indignation with toleration)

  5. Starfoxy on April 29, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I’m not to bothered by the notion that if we’re going in some sort of order then someone has to go first. The fact that it was *every* male group before *any* females is what kind of hurt me. I don’t think I would have been bothered at all if the RS sustained immediately after the MP and the YW sustained after the AP.

  6. Lynnette on April 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    I remember the pre-GBH method, in which the women didn’t vote separately, and being happy to see that altered when President Hinckely was sustained. So I do want to say that I appreciate how it’s done now in that it conveys a kind of formal acknowledgment of women’s voices. It’s a small thing, but it’s nice.

    I think you’re right about any order being potentially problematic, but I don’t think this particular situation is entirely comparable to other instances in which men/women might go first/last. In this context (unlike that of something like sacrament meeting prayers), the order in which the men participate is clearly linked to their position in the hierarchy. When women come at the end, then, it’s easy to interpret that as women being at the very lowest level of the hierarchy. That’s, I think, why the issue comes up–not because women going last is inherently problematic. But I agree with you that unhappiness with this particular protocol likely has more to do with underlying power disparities than with the more surface question of who votes in what order.

  7. Martin Willey on April 29, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I don’t understand the animosity this question engenders amonst some (e.g., 1-2, 4). It seems like a legitimate question. Is there anything docrinal or eternal abiout the order in which the various groups vote? It doesn’t matter much to me. But that is easy for me to say – – I wasn’t put behind the deacons.

  8. m&m on April 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Is there anything doctrinal…about the order in which the various groups vote?

    Yes. In my study of the topic, I have read that this is done according to revelation.

  9. Randy B. on April 29, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I think the sacrament meeting prayers analogy that Lynnette mentions is actually helpful one.

    There are still wards (mine included) where women are not permitted to say the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. Conversely, there are wards where women may offer the opening prayer but are not allowed to say the closing prayer. These rules, though in seeming contradiction, rely on the same rationalization, namely that male priesthood holders are somehow better equiped to offer the specific prayer in question than women. The solution to this rather silly idea is not to reverse the ordering but to do away with the need for gendered ordering at all.

    One day, I am convinced, we will find a similar solution when it comes to sustaining the new prophet. And when we get there, people will look back on this skirmish in the same way that most members now look at the rules about whether women can offer the opening or closing prayer in sacrament meeting — with bewilderment, confusion, and general relief that those days are past.

  10. Martin Willey on April 29, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    m&m: Source, please.

  11. queuno on April 29, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    rural, white, middle-aged, sixth-generation Mormon male

    Why does the number of generations matter?

  12. TMD on April 29, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Starfoxy, you are not correct. Men without the priesthood actually sustained after the women.

  13. TMD on April 29, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Also, I at least see a practical/spiritual reason for the ordering at the solemn assembly (exerted from a comment at FMH):
    There needs to be clear evidence, for the sake of the unity of the saints, that those charged with leading the church, with conducting the spiritual affairs of the church, with acting as a ‘judge in isreal,’ even with blessing the sacrament, are supportive of the Prophet as such. Thus it is as priesthood holders, as such, that those ‘men and boys’ are called upon to sustain; it is only at the end, with the ‘general body of the church, that they are called upon ‘as men’ to sustain the prophet.

    To the more general question, so long as people see difference as necessarily being a reflection of power or evidence of discrimination, then those people will accept no differential order. (or even different seating patters, as apparently happened prior to the 80’s).

  14. Randy B. on April 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    TMD, while technically true, let’s at least be honest and admit that virtually every active Mormon male over the age of 12 (barring some disciplinary disqualificatison) holds the priesthood.

  15. Jacob B on April 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    If there’s no doctrinal precedent (I’m too lazy to look in to that), then all there is is a cultural-historical precedent. Whether this type of precedent is normative or not (or even AS normative as doctrine) it is certainly treated as normative. In other words, it carries a lot of weight whether we can find it in the scriptures or official First Presidency statements or not. Meaning, that it would be difficult to change whether from a doctrinal or cultural perspective. (Refer to Boyd K. Packer’s “The Unwritten Order of Things” for a hint at how difficult this would be to change.I think you can find it at speeches.byu.edu).

    Still, I wouldn’t mind simply seeing something along the lines of the following combinations:

    1) all adult members vote first, men and women together, followed by young men and women together, followed by children.
    2) This would stratify the genders again, but it would be #1 above followed by quorum and auxiliary officer voting together.
    3) Fast Offering donors followed by Tithe payers. *Note: This probably wouldn\’t work.
    4) Endowed members followed by unendowed. See # 3.
    5) Members with testimonies followed by those who are uncertain. Again, see #3.
    6) Eagle scouts and Young Women Achievement Award recipients vote as a bloc.
    7) Wives and children of Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies, single people living in Mormon culture, only-members-in-a-family, and Nursery Leaders vote as a bloc before anyone else (kind of a “who sacrifices the most to be members of the Church” type of voting. Or insert any category of person in place of the above for those whom you think make the most sacrifice as church members generally).

  16. Randy B. on April 29, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    The suggestion that the sustaining of the Prophet by males who hold the priesthood is more important, more necessary, or more relevant than that of their mothers, wives, and sisters is simply wrong.

  17. Randy B. on April 29, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    For the sake of clarity, my comment in #14 is directed to TMD’s comment in #12 and not #13, which I do not think is true, technically or otherwise.

  18. Yet Another John on April 29, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    #7

    There’s no animosity in my response. Just a light-hearted comment. Obviously this is a point of concern for some, just not for me. Anyway, aren’t there scriptural references pointing out the first shall be last and the last shall be first? Maybe the order in heaven is different.

  19. Ray on April 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    I don’t care.

  20. Randy B. on April 29, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    “Maybe the order in heaven is different.”

    Now there is the understatement of the day!

  21. Jon W on April 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Does it matter? Not to me. Not to my wife not to most people I know.
    (I will stop there…)

  22. Yet Another John on April 29, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    #11, queuno

    The number of generations doesn’t matter. That’s part of my point. Rural shouldn’t matter, white shouldn’t matter, middle-age shouldn’t matter. But it often does on the bloggernacle. The only group that seems to be more entrenched in conservatism, BRM type mormonism are the pool from which apostles are selected, at least according to the enlightened souls of the internet age.

    In actuality, I suspect that many of the things that are so passionately argued about, or commented on today, will, to a future generation, seem trite and idiotic. Not to say that it’s not important to us or our lives. But some of our pet theories and enlightened discourses may be lumped in with Adam-God theories, etc.

    Just sayin’.

  23. Martin Willey on April 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Does it mean anything that everyone that says (explicitly or implicitly) they don’t care is a guy . . . ?

  24. larryco_ on April 29, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Options:
    Sustaining by alphabetical order: “Ok, everyone with the last name beginning with “A”.
    Sustaining by hair color: Brunettes first, bald guys last.
    Sustaining spiritual academic level: Institute grads first, now some with a few courses, now seminary grads…
    Sustaining by percentage of offerings: Payers of 10% tithes/fast off/missionary/humanitarian/P.E. go first…
    Sustaining in order of the number of comments that you have made on LDS Blogs: See ZD

    Wow, lots of ways to go.

  25. queuno on April 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Does it mean anything that everyone that says (explicitly or implicitly) they don’t care is a guy . . . ?

    The vast, vast unwashed masses who don’t participate in the Bloggernacle are both male and female, and apparently many of them don’t really care…

    The number of generations doesn’t matter. That’s part of my point. Rural shouldn’t matter, white shouldn’t matter, middle-age shouldn’t matter. But it often does on the bloggernacle. The only group that seems to be more entrenched in conservatism, BRM type mormonism are the pool from which apostles are selected, at least according to the enlightened souls of the internet age.

    I don’t think the Bloggernacle cares about generations. People at Church seem to.

    (So, says this 6th-generation Mormon, Utah-descendent, Big-Ten-Country-raised, BYU-grad, male, returned missionary… I got forever disabused of the importance of n-generation family history when I showed up to BYU and was considered a gentile because I was raised outside Utah, a reverse pioneer if you will. On the bloggernacle, the only people who seem to care about number of generations are the people who have multiple generations in their history. I don’t think anyone really gives credence to generational status. In fact, the only thing people seem to care about on the Bloggernacle is what books you’ve read or what law school you attended.)

  26. Margaret Young on April 29, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Larryco, I am deeply offended by the fact that you put brunettes first–as though that were the natural order of things. And speaking of “natural,” would you have women vote according to their REAL hair color, their previous hair color [s], or their current hair color? (Couldn’t some of us get five or six votes if we voted according to hair color?) Same could be said of spiritual disposition. I would have voted first several years ago, but would probably be on the third tier now, which I blame entirely on my fluctuating hormones.

    And why would bald guys go last? Isn’t that often an invitation to a she-bear to descend form the mountains threateningly?

  27. Susan M on April 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm
  28. ECS on April 29, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Why not allow every member of the Church to vote at the same time? The sustaining procedure where everyone votes at once (followed by any objections by the same sign) works just fine in local wards and stakes. I don’t understand why the solemn assembly warrants voting by gender.

  29. Gilgamesh on April 29, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I thought the ordering had to do with the authority of the quorums. If the first presidency is not present – leadership goes to the 12 and so on. Granted, this structure worked better when you had only adult men recieving the Aaronic Priesthood. A deacon needed to sustain the leadership because it meant something different to be a deacon. Many men did not have the priesthood. So 150 years ago, the order basically asked for all those in leadership, in order of authority, to sustain the prophet, followed by the non-ordained laity.

    Now with 12 year olds having the priesthood, the significance may not be as defined, but the tradition is kind of nice. It was a big deal for our newly ordained deacon to be asked to stand in order of his priesthood authority. It set him apart and made hime feel like it meant something to have the preisthood.

  30. Gilgamesh on April 29, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I thought the ordering had to do with the authority of the quorums. If the first presidency is not present – leadership goes to the 12 and so on. Granted, this structure worked better when you had only adult men recieving the Aaronic Priesthood. A deacon needed to sustain the leadership because it meant something different to be a deacon. Many men did not have the priesthood. So 150 years ago, the order basically asked for all those in leadership, in order of authority, to sustain the prophet, followed by the non-ordained laity.

    Now with 12 year olds having the priesthood, the significance may not be as defined, but the tradition is kind of nice. It was a big deal for our newly ordained deacon to be asked to stand in order of his priesthood authority. It set him apart and made hime feel like it meant something to have the preisthood.

    And since I’m a guy – I don’t care.

  31. Gilgamesh on April 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Sorry about the double post -

  32. Jane G. on April 29, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I\’ve never understood how women who claim to be \”liberated\” can be so dependent or offended by other people\’s labels or claims of hierarchical superiority. How do they reconcile accepting other people\’s labels, prejudices, or emotional issues as defining them with being independent and liberated? Other people, their decisions, their judgments, and even their (perhaps) dated policies don\’t define who I am unless I allow them to. Why do they allow it?

    In the vast eternal scheme of things, or even in just the ages of the earth, how many people have ever had the opportunity, in mortality, to raise their hands to sustain a living prophet? Who the heck cares in what order that opportunity is given? Humor is definitely the only response.

  33. Ardis Parshall on April 29, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    We ‘vote’ by quorums because it’s the quorum that is voting, not the individuals. Not too long ago, solemn assemblies were arranged so that quorums sat together and rose as a body: this quorum sustains the proposition, that quorum sustains the proposition, the next quorum sustains the proposition. Such seating became unfeasible because of the sheer numbers involved in modern solemn assemblies, and the lines between quorums were blurred when the Melchizedek Priesthood, say, is called to rise rather than calling on the individual offices for separate votes, but the intent is still the same: it’s the quorum, not the individual, who is voting when it comes to solemn assemblies.

    I thought it was nice when they began recognizing women as a sort of Relief Society quorum. It seems odd to see the order in which we are called to stand become a point of contention.

    Maybe we’d be better pleased if they cast lots next time as to the order in which to call for the various quorums?

  34. Blain on April 29, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Why is it that, every time something is done differently than somebody wants, they stand up and say “why do we have to X? Why can’t we Y instead?”

    Folks, people are going to do things that are going to seem stupid, arbitrary and insulting your whole life. Sometimes they will be, and sometimes they won’t be. Personally, I don’t find Pres. Monson to be a stupid, arbitrary or insulting guy, but, whatever. Why is it so difficult to accept that the Church is run in ways that God is tolerant of, and that it doesn’t have to be run in ways that make us individually happy? Do you think it’s possible that the Church could be run in a way to make everybody happy? No matter what is done, it’s going to be different than how somebody wants it to be. Maybe this is just your turn. Trust me that there are people out there saying “Can you believe that they had the RS stand up as if it was a quorum? That’s just outrageous — it’s never been done like that before!”

    Damn. Few things annoy me more than whiny Mormons. Go do your Home Teaching or something.

  35. Hans on April 29, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Why stop with hair, color of hair, or lack of hair? How about varieties of facial hair (for men, mainly; ladies with mustaches could vote seperately). Start out with full beards and mustaches, then just full beards, full sideburns, muttonchops, progress to van dykes, goatees, soul patches, then handlebar mustaches, trimmed mustaches, pencil-thin mustaches, hitler/chaplin style, and then no facial hair!

  36. Brad on April 29, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    You raised what seemed like a halfway serious question, but most answers seemed to be either totally flippant, insulting or patronizing. One can only speculate why we aren\’t baptizing more women generals and corporate CEOs.

  37. maria on April 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Would anyone care to seriously address the first part of my original statement–that by having the 12 year old boys vote before the adult women, that it might imply that these boys “preside” over the adult women of the church? Or that a regular, every day member of the church might come to that same conclusion, merely by observing how the voting takes place?

  38. Ardis Parshall on April 29, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I suppose, maria, that none of the commenters addressed your statement because it isn’t particularly logical. Sustaining may pertain to the presidency of the leaders being sustained, but it has nothing to do with granting or recognizing presiding authority by those who are doing the sustaining. Nor does the order in which business is conducted have anything to do with presiding. The English language doesn’t support such an interpretation, and neither does reason or history.

    I don’t mean to be flip, but if your view is true that presiding authority is conferred or recognized by doing something before someone else does the same thing, then the dozen women who entered my chapel on Sunday while the bishop held the door for them all preside over the bishop.

  39. Blain on April 29, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    37 — Are you serious? Could anybody (remotely sane) with any experience in the Church, get the idea that boys who can’t shave, drive, or vote preside over their mothers? I mean, could this idea even be entertained seriously for five seconds before the giggling starts? I can’t imagine how it could, can you?

    It would take a great deal more than the order of standing to sustain in this solemn assembly to build that impression, and the things I can imagine that might build that impression are things that I can’t imagine happening.

  40. TMD on April 29, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Maria: what does the D & C say? (D & C 20)

    53 The ateacher’s duty is to bwatch over the cchurch always, and be with and strengthen them;
    54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither ahardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor cevil dspeaking;
    55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.
    56 And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—
    57 And is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the adeacons, if occasion requires.
    58 But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the asacrament, or lay on bhands;

    I don’t see the word preside in there.

  41. Kaimi Wenger on April 29, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Maria (37),

    It’s not just an implication from voting order. It’s canonized church doctrine, clearly set out in scripture.

    D&C 20:

    38 The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ—An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize;
    39 And to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons;
    40 And to administer bread and wine—the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ—
    41 And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures;
    42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church;
    43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost;
    44 And to take the lead of all meetings.
    45 The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.
    46 The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament,
    47 And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.
    48 And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.
    49 And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present;
    50 But when there is an elder present, he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize,
    51 And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.
    52 In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires.
    53 The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;
    54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;
    55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.
    56 And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—
    57 And is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires.

    Blain,

    I’m glad to hear that you think Joseph Smith was either not sane, or had no experience with the church. However, as a teacher, it’s my duty to make sure that there is no hardness among church members. Please tone down the hardness of your remarks, or else take your comments elsewhere.

  42. Kaimi Wenger on April 29, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Jinx, TMD.

    :)

  43. Martin Willey on April 29, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    I agree. Voting order says nothing about presiding. But it is not particularly honest to pretend that there is no meaning to be gleaned from the fact that the priesthood quorums — all of them, down to the deacons who don’t shave drive or vote – – are called upon to cast their sustaining vote before any of the women. Or from the fact that women did not even vote separately before Pres. Hinckley? Do you all really not think that the fact that the First Presidency votes first is intended to show some preeminence? I do. So what would the logical extension of that be? And is that really not worthy of some consideration and discussion? It is certainly not worthy of the contempt some commenters are showing.

  44. Kaimi Wenger on April 29, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    As for your question, Maria —

    As I tried to make clear in the opening post, I don’t think that the order itself is inherently problematic. We are often split into categories for ordering. I take attendance in class, from A to Z. I hand out handouts, front to back. The Junior Primary goes to classes, Sunbeams first, then CTR A’s, then CTR B’s, and so on.

    In a vacuum, I don’t see a problem with the order.

    However, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We exist in a world where womens’ experience in the church is significantly different than mens’, often in ways that women find very problematic.

    Given that background, even potentially innocuous ordering systems can serve to reinforce the problematic, underlying dynamics.

    Or, to say it more broadly, a problematic background or baseline can make even innocuously intended actions into actions that further reinforce problems in the system.

  45. Cicero on April 29, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    My suggestion is that we remember that our religion is about submitting to God.

    Not about our own pride or position of power on earth.

    In other words:

    Repent of your proud words Sister! Least ye be damned to Hell with the proud Lucifer!

    *wink*

  46. Kaimi Wenger on April 30, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Cicero,

    I suspect that, if Sister Maria is sent to Hell for her question, she will go there late in the process; that is, after the high priests, elders, teachers, deacons . . .

  47. LRC on April 30, 2008 at 12:25 am

    “Now with 12 year olds having the priesthood, the significance may not be as defined, but the tradition is kind of nice. It was a big deal for our newly ordained deacon to be asked to stand in order of his priesthood authority. It set him apart and made hime feel like it meant something to have the preisthood.”

    So is it okay for the young PH holders to feel like having the PH and sustaining with the quorum/AP means something? Is it then not okay for women and young women to observe that situation and feel like they are not “set apart” or, worse, that they are being left out of some kind of meaningful experience?

    “Do you all really not think that the fact that the First Presidency votes first is intended to show some preeminence? I do. So what would the logical extension of that be?”

    That Aaronic Priesthood holders as a group of quorums have more authority than, say, the General Relief Society Presidency (which stands with the rest of the adult women)?

  48. Kaimi Wenger on April 30, 2008 at 2:35 am

    “Are you serious Kaimi?”

    Actually, I’m non-serious Kaimi. Serious Kaimi posts on weekends and Tuesdays only.

    “Your women\’s studies class has gone to your head.”

    Thanks.

    I realize it’s probably meant as a criticism, but really, topics like women’s rights _should_ enter our thought processes.

  49. sunriseta on April 30, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Why can’t everyone just vote (sustain) at the same time? Aren\’t we all equal in Heavenly Father’s eyes? Just wondering…

  50. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 2:43 am

    However, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We exist in a world where womens’ experience in the church is significantly different than mens’, often in ways that women find very problematic.

    Given that background, even potentially innocuous ordering systems can serve to reinforce the problematic, underlying dynamics.

    Or, to say it more broadly, a problematic background or baseline can make even innocuously intended actions into actions that further reinforce problems in the system.

    This seems to put the Church between a rock and a hard place. What if the system, even the dynamics, really are inspired, and the things some people struggle with come from a misunderstanding or misperception?

    Given the fact that there are soooo many different perceptions about what a ‘good’ system would look like in the church, I don’t see how we can approach this topic without leaving more room for the possibility that problems may be as much with individual points of view and perceptions and expectations than with the system.

    In the end, there will NEVER be a solution that will make everyone happy. So, at some point, isn’t it valuable to at least consider the possibility that it’s not the Church or the system that is the source of struggle, but possible misunderstandings and misperceptions about it? I wish more ‘nacle discussions at least CONSIDERED this from the get-go, rather than assume and assert that people’s struggles are evidence that there is a problem, period.

    It seems that in discussions like these, those who don’t struggle can’t generalize and say “I’m fine with it, so it must be fine.” So why can so many discussions start with the assertion that, “I struggle with it, therefore there must be a problem”? I care that people struggle, but if — just if — the solution won’t come from the Church changing, but from the individual changing, isn’t that at least something important to consider? …not in an inyourface kind of way, but at least as an option?

    To me, your concluding statement seems to consider only one side (of course, I could be misunderstanding). You say, “until we remedy the underlying imbalances, _any_ set of rules — ladies first, last, or in-between — will only serve to call attention to, and reinforce, the underlying power disparities.”

    I fail to see how we could solve underlying imbalances when even within the church there are varying opinions of what is or would be good and right. (To me, that is why we have prophets, because we just don’t see the big picture, but anyway….)

    Unless I misunderstood you (which, of course, is very possible), it seems you don’t leave room for the possibility that imbalances in *this* system are simply either a matter of perception or of fallen-man implementation, but not in the system’s foundation and principles themselves. (I don’t disagree that other systems may be different, but I don’t think we should analyze this system as we do other systems.) I would like to see room for at least the consideration that we may sometimes look too myopically at things like this, and define equality, balance, power, etc. too narrowly, too temporally.

    Dont know if I’m explaining myself well enough…hope that makes some sense. I don’t mean this in an inyourface way at all, so please don’t read something into my intent that isn’t there. I just want some space to be able to say, “Hey, my brain understands the struggle, and I see the alleged imbalances that you struggle with, but I don’t struggle, and this is why” and have that be a viable solution for people who may wonder about things (in or outside of the Church) to consider.

    I guess I grow weary of people assuming that feminism is the measuring stick to meet. I see too much of ‘no wonder liberated, educated women don’t join the Church’ and yet, I feel like a liberated, educated woman, and I want to say there are different ways we can look at this, and maybe there are different ways we SHOULD look at this. We don’t have to look at gender issues only through feminist philosophy. We can understand these things taking a completely different approach…seeking spiritual understanding first rather than expecting a spiritual system to fit feminist models to meet approval. At least consider it. It works for a lot of people, but it takes being willing to suspend some fairly common societal ways of looking at things.

  51. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 3:00 am

    topics like women’s rights _should_ enter our thought processes.

    But to what extent?

    Why can’t everyone just vote (sustain) at the same time? Aren\’t we all equal in Heavenly Father’s eyes?

    Here’s an example of what I was trying to say. True doctrine is that we are all equal in Heavenly Father’s eyes. But why should we assume that that means that everyone will vote at the same time in a solemn assembly? I don’t mean to pick on this commenter, but use it because it’s a common approach with a topic like this. There is a thought process that has potential for fallibility as much if not more than prophetic guidance has a chance for fallibility.

    People take a true doctrine such as the fact that we are all equal to God, see something that they *think* is unequal, and thus take a leap and determine that the prophets must be wrong on this one thing. I guess I want to know where it is written that every single element of Church or family life has to be the same in order to somehow prove that God loves women as much as men. Isn’t it possible that the problem is not in what is being analyzed (say, the solemn assembly), but in the analysis of it?

    OK, maybe that’s overkill, but I thought perhaps that could explain my thoughts better.

    And, p.s. we should note that everyone does vote together in every other situation but in a solemn assembly — from general conferences to ward conferences, we all vote together except in this particular circumstance. I wonder why, too, but I don’t think it’s fair to just assume it is wrong, but at least consider that there may actually be a reason that still allows God to be fair and just and equally loving to His daughters and sons.

  52. Kaimi Wenger on April 30, 2008 at 3:11 am

    On this thread and elsewhere, I appreciate those who can disagree without being a jerk. (m&m, I think you set the standard in this area; many others have done very well, too.)

  53. SilverRain on April 30, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Perhaps it would help if we started looking at the Church through the lens of knowing we are loved equally by Heavenly Father. That way, we could say “I know God values women and men equally, but here is a hierarchy in His Church. Therefore, the hierarchy must not be about who is more or less valued. I wonder what it is about?”

    I think that approach would be more productive than assuming hierarchy=inequality.

  54. Nathan Bunker on April 30, 2008 at 8:42 am

    This question reminds me of the story of the old man, the boy and the donkey. At first they walked and led the donkey down the road and the passersby said “why don’t one of you ride the donkey?” So the old man put the boy on the donkey. Later passersby said “why does the boy ride and make the old man walk?” So the old man road the donkey while the boy walked. Then the passersby said “why that donkey looks so worn out carrying such a big man”. So the old man got off and carried the donkey the rest of the way!

  55. mel on April 30, 2008 at 9:10 am

    But the hierarchy is inequality, that’s what a hierarchy by nature is, and while we are constantly discussing how we should respect the hierarchy itself and those who are in power in it, it points to their value and worth. We can say until we’re blue in the face that we are all equally loved by our Heavenly Father (and I firmly believe it). Yet in Relief Society, I have lessons on how special I’m supposed to make my boys feel because they are equal to John the Baptist when they receive the Aaronic Priesthood. What does that say to me and my girls – where do we fit in with John the Baptist? I grew up in a home where the first born male definitely had the birthright and it was celebrated, similar to the priesthood in the church. While my parents were very loving and offered us all great opportunities, even equally, there was still a hierarchy of respect and it was painful to feel that no matter how good, smart or capable you were, you were not entitled to the same respect, and for reasons that were completely out of your control. I don’t want to threadjack this into a rehashing of women and the priesthood, but I think the two issues are intertwined.

    While for some, the order of the SA didn’t bother them because to them it’s meaningless, there are many people saying how great it was because it made their son feel special for having the priesthood or in some other way validated the patriarchal order, indicating that there IS meaning to the SA order. And for many others, they feel like my sister and I felt growing up. The problem is that for those people, there’s no way to “fix” the SA because it is just a symbol and celebration of a systemic hierarchy that is inherently unfair because it is based not on worthiness or leadership or capability, but on gender. So what do you do?

    I choose to believe that, although our leaders are doing the best they can with the knowledge we have, just because this is the way the SA was done doesn’t mean it is necessarily the way Heavenly Father wanted it done – we all acknowledge how wonderful it was when the assembly evolved with President Hinckley, why not be willing to accept more changes may be in order? I’m not claiming to know what they are, but neither should you. We don’t have all the truth yet, and my belief in a God who values me as much as my sons and husband and brothers and father makes me inclined to think that we just aren’t there yet – remember “he will yet reveal many great and important things”. And even though I can reconcile this love by Heavenly Father with the way his church is currently operated, ascribing the most charitable motives to those who lead us, there are times, like the SA, when it is still difficult.

  56. ECS on April 30, 2008 at 9:13 am

    “We ‘vote’ by quorums because it’s the quorum that is voting, not the individuals. Not too long ago, solemn assemblies were arranged so that quorums sat together and rose as a body: this quorum sustains the proposition, that quorum sustains the proposition, the next quorum sustains the proposition.”

    Two questions.

    One: what is the basis for this voting procedure? Doctrine? Tradition?

    Two (related): why must quorums vote as quorums and not as individuals in the solemn assembly? I’m assuming, then, that when we all raise our hands to sustain our local bishop that we are voting as individuals. But why?

    Clearly, the General Authorities (or perhaps it was just Pres. Hinckley) realized something was amiss with the former voting procedure where women were lumped in with the rest of the congregation – otherwise they wouldn’t have changed it to single out the women. Why do you think the GA’s changed the procedure a few years ago, and what is preventing them from changing it so that men and women vote together?

  57. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I kind of like the idea of voting by quorums. I just wish the quorums were populated with both men and women. ;)

    If thread is any indication, there is absolutely no doctrinal reason for the ordering. Some have noted their views on how the ordering matches up with ideas of priesthood hierarchy, but this is a far cry from establishing that the sustaining of the Prophet must — as a matter of doctrine — be done in the way it is. Indeed, these attempted rationalizations are reminiscent of old justifications for banning blacks from holding the priesthood.

    I don’t mind that people don’t care about the ordering. I don’t even mind (all that much anyway) that some actually prefer it. But I really don’t like the efforts to turn it into some sort of divine doctrinal mandate. It’s simply not there folks.

  58. StillConfused on April 30, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I am sorry but I missed the whole voting thing. So please indulge me. Did they ask to sustain the prophet and then have the different groups vote in order. Or is it that the congregation was asked to vote on all of the men positions then the women ones? I have absolutely no problem with the latter. The former strikes me as odd. Not so much sexist as just a time waster.

  59. Ray on April 30, 2008 at 10:53 am

    My serious attempt at an answer:

    The Prophet has multiple responsibilities in his position as President of the Church, so when a new President is called he is sustained by those for whom he has responsibility – those “quorums” over whom he presides. Therefore, he and his counselors sustained each other, the Q12 sustained the 1stPr and each other, the GA’s all sustained each other, then each “quorum” worldwide sustained the GA’s.

    The GA’s have a specific priesthood responsibility for the quorums *of the priesthood*, so those quorums sustained them (adult men, then young men). They also have a specific responsibility for the “quorums” of women, so those quorums sustained them – in the same order (adult women, then young women). They also have specific responsibilities for all baptized members, regardless of affiliation with a “quorum”, so, at the end, all members stood and sustained them. The interesting part to me is that the only members who stood only once were those younger than 12 *and* all unordained men, regardless of age. Iow, all women stood as both members of their “quorum” *and* as members of the Church; unordained men stood only as members of the Church.

  60. Gilgamesh on April 30, 2008 at 11:04 am

    #56
    “I have lessons on how special I’m supposed to make my boys feel because they are equal to John the Baptist when they receive the Aaronic Priesthood. What does that say to me and my girls – where do we fit in with John the Baptist? ”

    You may not fit in with John the Baptist, but there are many women in the Bible, including the mother of the Son of God, that I could never aspire to be because I am a man.

    It sounds like the only way to solve this dilemma is to ordain women or get rid of the priesthood.

  61. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Ray (#60), I’m not buying it, though I appreciate the attempt at a serious answer. Bishops and stake presidents also have specific priesthood responsibility to preside over groups of members, but we do not sustain them in a similar fashion. Why is that? And how do you explain the fact that until fairly recently women and young women did not stand as separate groups at all? Were those earlier prophets operating under some sort of disability as a result? Do you think that future prophets would actually be hindered in their ability to serve if the order were changed yet again? Is there any inherent reason why the deacons must come before their mothers when sustaining the prophet?

    If your theory helps you to make sense in your own mind about how the world should be ordered, so be it. But let’s at least be clear that this theory is not found in any official church doctrine. You’re speculating about possible justifications for an existing practice, a practice that has in fact recently changed. I’m not opposed to speculation per se, but let’s at least be honest about what’s going on.

    On a final note, you are right, as noted above, that unordained men stood only as members of the Church after both the women and young women. Of course, the way the Church currently operates, virtually every single active male in the Church over the age of 12 has in fact been ordained. And if they haven’t, it’s almost always because there is a larger problem of some sort, like inactivity or church discipline. This detail, in other words, simply doesn’t do the work you seem to suggest it does.

  62. Mandy on April 30, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I don\’t normally comment on things, but I feel really strongly that I should here. It amazes me that people can get offended over the simplest things, but I also realize that we each have our own trials and tribulations. I think that we need to celebrate the fact that we were all able to be a part of the SA and look to the future with hope and gladness. I am so grateful that I was able to stand up and sustain our new prophet. It seems to me that everybody is so worried about why things were done the way that they were and are forgetting that it was a SOLEMN assembly. These special times don\’t happen often and we need to focus on the good and not the \”bad\”.
    Is the order in which we voted going to have a lasting affect on your testimony? Does it make the church untrue because we as women voted after the priesthood?
    I would hope that your answers to those questions would be no, and if that is the case then why are we complaining instead of celebrating?

  63. Steve Jones on April 30, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    #37 see the comments by Elder Oaks in the October 2005 genral conference concerning this.

    Dallin H. Oaks, “Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 24

    There are many similarities and some differences in the way priesthood authority functions in the family and in the Church.

    My subject is priesthood authority in the family and in the Church.

    I.
    My father died when I was seven. I was the oldest of three small children our widowed mother struggled to raise. When I was ordained a deacon, she said how pleased she was to have a priesthood holder in the home. But Mother continued to direct the family, including calling on which one of us would pray when we knelt together each morning. I was puzzled. I had been taught that the priesthood presided in the family. There must be something I didn’t know about how that principle worked.

    About this same time, we had a neighbor who dominated and sometimes abused his wife. He roared like a lion, and she cowered like a lamb. When they walked to church, she always walked a few steps behind him. That made my mother mad. She was a strong woman who would not accept such domination, and she was angry to see another woman abused in that way. I think of her reaction whenever I see men misusing their authority to gratify their pride or exercise control or compulsion upon their wives in any degree of unrighteousness (see D&C 121:37).

    I have also seen some faithful women who misunderstand how priesthood authority functions. Mindful of their partnership relationship with their husband in the family, some wives have sought to extend that relationship to their husband’s priesthood calling, such as bishop or mission president. In contrast, some single women who have been abused by men (such as in a divorce) mistakenly confuse the priesthood with male abuse and become suspicious of any priesthood authority. A person who has had a bad experience with a particular electrical appliance should not forego using the power of electricity.

    Each of the circumstances I have described results from misunderstanding priesthood authority and the great principle that while this authority presides in both the family and the Church, the priesthood functions in a different way in each of them. This principle is understood and applied by the great Church and family leaders I have known, but it is rarely explained. Even the scriptures, which record various exercises of priesthood authority, seldom state expressly which principles only apply to the exercise of priesthood authority in the family or in the Church or which apply in both of them.

    II.
    In our theology and in our practice, the family and the Church have a mutually reinforcing relationship. The family is dependent upon the Church for doctrine, ordinances, and priesthood keys. The Church provides the teachings, authority, and ordinances necessary to perpetuate family relationships to the eternities.

    We have programs and activities in both the family and the Church. Each is so interrelated that service to one is service to the other. When children see their parents faithfully perform Church callings, it strengthens their family relationships. When families are strong, the Church is strong. The two run in parallel. Each is important and necessary, and each must be conducted with careful concern for the other. Church programs and activities should not be so all-encompassing that families cannot have everyone present for family time. And family activities should not be scheduled in conflict with sacrament meeting or other vital Church meetings.

    We need both Church activities and family activities. If all families were complete and perfect, the Church could sponsor fewer activities. But in a world where many of our youth grow up in homes where one parent is missing, not a member, or otherwise inactive in gospel leadership, there is a special need for Church activities to fill in the gaps. Our widowed mother wisely saw that Church activities would provide her sons with experiences she could not provide because we had no male role model in the home. I remember her urging me to watch and try to be like the good men in our ward. She pushed me to participate in Scouting and other Church activities that would provide this opportunity.

    In a church where there are many single members, who do not presently have the companionship the Lord intends for all of his sons and daughters, the Church and its families should also have special concern for the needs of single adults.

    III.
    Priesthood authority functions in both the family and the Church. The priesthood is the power of God used to bless all of His children, male and female. Some of our abbreviated expressions, like “the women and the priesthood,” convey an erroneous idea. Men are not “the priesthood.” Priesthood meeting is a meeting of those who hold and exercise the priesthood. The blessings of the priesthood, such as baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, the temple endowment, and eternal marriage, are available to men and women alike. The authority of the priesthood functions in the family and in the Church, according to the principles the Lord has established.

    When my father died, my mother presided over our family. She had no priesthood office, but as the surviving parent in her marriage she had become the governing officer in her family. At the same time, she was always totally respectful of the priesthood authority of our bishop and other Church leaders. She presided over her family, but they presided over the Church.

  64. Blain on April 30, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    41 — Joseph had no experience in the modern Church, and a lot less time in it than you or I have in the Church at all. In his time, deacons were routinely adults who could reasonably be seen as leading a meeting, not just 12 and 13 year old boys like we have today. Others have pointed to the distinction between leading a meeting and presiding at it.

    Was I really so objectionable that I required a saber-rattle? I have no problem with Maria, even though i can’t fathom how her question could be seriously entertained. If she felt ridiculed by my response, I’m sorry. I only addressed it because she specifically asked for it to be responded to.

    56 — I have no problem with the idea that further changes might be in the pipeline, but they haven’t happened yet, and it may be that they never will. Living prophets trump dead prophets, but they also trump prophets yet to come. We live in what is, not what might be.

    I also accept the possibility that many specific policies and practices might not be dictated by God. They are, however, tolerated by God, so they can’t be bad enough to be dangerous. God does not have to live in tune with our expectations of him — it seems that it is quite the other way around if we wish to receive what we should from this life. His understanding of equality and its value is likely different from ours, and I suspect we will get further trying to understand it more as he does than in trying to persuade him or his leaders to see it our way.

    58 — Why would this thread be any indication about the origins of the practice of voting by quorum in an SA? We’re just a bunch of folks sitting around and talking.

    63 — Amen.

  65. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Blain, as to your comment to me, if there were official doctrine establishing that the current order of SA sustaining is in fact divinely mandated, we would have seen it by now. m&m is nothing if not thorough! If you think it’s out there, feel free to provide a citation. I know of no such doctrine nor have I seen any evidence that anyone else does either.

  66. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I would add that if people are going to defend the current practice on grounds that it is doctrinally mandated, they ought to be prepared to provide a basis for the assertion. The fact that they have not is telling.

  67. ronito on April 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    First I was shocked to see this column on TimesandSeasons doesn’t seem typical faire for this site’s reputation. Second I’m utterly unsurprised by the “shut up and get in the back of the bus” type comments. Frank Herbert once wrote that the first commandment of any religion was “Thou shalt not question.” This is the mormon conundrum. The whole church is founded on questioning and finding for yourself, if Joseph hadn’t done it the church wouldn’t exist. Yet, it seems that we’ve moved away from questioning and into conformity. I’m reminded of a past post here about a GA that was alive during the preisthood ban and how he quietly prayed for it to change and was so relieved when it did years and years later and I took the unpopular stance of well maybe if he and others did more than pray about it, perhaps it wouldn’t have lasted so long.

    Now I’m not saying this is a similar situation, but the responses are similar. All those that say, “Quitcher belly-achin!” don’t really answer the question of what message this action poses to our women and young women. I mean it’s hardly a secret to anyone willing to look at we have a bit of an activity issue with our young women. Perhaps we should question why. Perhaps instead of telling people that if they don’t like it they can leave the church we should really search what really is being asked.

  68. lucy on April 30, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Oh geezzzz…..give it a rest. Can\’t you be happy that it\’s the Lord\’s church and He can set it up any way he wishes? I …. and the 99% of stalwart women in the church do not care to have the Priesthood. We can do more without that in our hair also. The church presidency can\’t do the simplest thing anymore and in the order the Lord set up without some whiny intimated women crying over not getting picked first or BEFORE the men.

    Give us all a break!

  69. Blain on April 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    67 — My evidence is that it’s done the way it’s done by the people who need to worry about it. No diss to m&m of any kind, but it’s not his stewardship, nor yours, nor mine. This is not an assertion that it is doctrinally mandated — just that it’s done at a level where there’s no reason it would need to be recorded in scripture. If you or I are in a position to need to lead a SA, we’ll be in a position to ask for the basis of what is done.

    69 — I am not saying “don’t ask questions.” I am questioning why we’re asking questions that are the perview of someone else’s stewardship, rather than better exploring our own stewardships. If the question was “should we be jerks to women just because we have the priesthood and they don’t,” that’s within our stewardship to explore and discuss. Passing judgment in ignorance on the responsibilities of prophets, seers and revelators isn’t. We don’t know, nor do we need to know what they need to know to do their jobs — they get second-guessed plenty enough without giving us more information about what they’re supposed to do. At the end of this discussion, nothing will have changed with regard to this practice, no matter how long and hard and enthusiastically we do it.

    Are we really so good at filling and magnifying the callings we have that we have time and energy left to try to oversee how others are doing with theirs? I can guarantee you that I’m not.

  70. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    while we are constantly discussing how we should respect the hierarchy itself and those who are in power in it, it points to their value and worth.

    But why should we respect them? Whose power are we supposed to be respecting? Are they of more worth than any of us? I think it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about the hierarchy rather than remembering what it’s all about, and Whose authority and power we are supposed to be respecting.

  71. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    while we are constantly discussing how we should respect the hierarchy itself and those who are in power in it, it points to their value and worth.

    But why should we respect them? Whose power are we supposed to be respecting? Are they of more worth than any of us? I think it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about the hierarchy rather than remembering what it’s all about, and Whose authority and power we are supposed to be respecting. Authority and power in the Church do NOT equal more evidence of worth. God’s power comes in many ways, and we ALL have access to the power of the Atonement, which is what the Church exists to tap us into. It all points back to Christ, and all gives us equal access to Him.

  72. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Ah, sorry…thought I stopped the comment before it posted — obviously wanted to add a couple of other thoughts.

  73. Sean on April 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    #56 “while we are constantly discussing how we should respect the hierarchy itself and those who are in power in it, it points to their value and worth.”

    In the eyes of the Lord, my value & worth are the same as anyone else’s…no greater, no less. I think this is an important key. I love how manaen and others have taught this principle on this site.

  74. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Blain (#71)

    Last I heard, m&m is a she, not a he. ;)

    At bottom, you and I simply disagree on whether it is okay to discuss (all we are doing, as you rightly point out) whether there are better ways to do things in the church. You apparently don’t think that sort of conversation is appropriate unless it is specifically limited to our own stewardship. I’d be curious whether you are consistent in that view (perhaps I should go read your other posts), or if this is merely a tool you haul out when you run into a position you don’t like. Regardless, your arguments fail to persuade me that silence is the preferred approach. When we see things that we feel are amiss, we do the church a favor to point them out. There is substantial evidence, for example, that the priesthood ban would have been in place longer had people not spoken out about its problematic history. (See Greg Prince’s David O. McKay book for more details.) The church is not perfect, and pretending that it is hardly serves anyones’ interests. When I’ve held positions of leadership, both in the church and elsewhere, I have welcomed comments and suggestions on how things could be improved. Without that feedback, progress slows and opportunities are missed. You’re certainly welcome to disagree with my views, on the order of sustaining during the SA or anything else. But your effort to cut off discussion with questions about whether I’m adequately magnifying my calling are entirely unpersuasive.

  75. David Kitchen on April 30, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Ronito (69),

    I wholeheartedly agree that we should ask questions. But of whom? Notice that Joseph first inquired of his pastors and family members and for that received only more confusion. It was when he inquired of God that he received an answer.

    We should not be surprised that questions posted on message boards often do not lead to very satisfactory answers, particularly on matters of as great an importance as the role of women. The reason there is so much belly-aching above is simply because none of us has a very good answer to the questions of why priesthood is limited by gender, whether that limitation is eternal, and whether that limitation disempowers women. To anyone really seeking an answer, I can only recommend turning to where Joseph turned.

  76. StillConfused on April 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I will admit that I don’t really care that much about many of the items discussed. But I do think it is important to discuss these matters. God never intended us to just blindly follow. he gave us brains to use them and we all agreed to come here to learn and grow. Blind followers — make me think of the Nazis and the FLDS types.

  77. ronito on April 30, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    David, but that then assumes that the issues you’re questioning are God driven. They might not be. In which case, since God cannot override people’s freewill, taking it only to God wont do much good to change the situation. Now I’m not saying that the Priesthood only for men is not God based, but in everything in the church there’s a mortal side to it too. God can change the godly things but he can’t override free will/tradition. Simply praying isn’t enough, just like it isn’t enough for me just to pray for anything and not take action. Faith can move mountains, but bring a shovel.

  78. JDH on April 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    I’m commenting on the fly and reserve the right to revise and/or extend.

    I’m fascinated to see all the hands reaching out to steady the ark. When Kaimi issues a call to “remedy the underlying imbalances,” what other remedy is available except for either disbanding the priesthood or ordaining women?

    My son asked me a similar question this morning about PH authority: if the bishop and his counselors are not at sacrament meeting, who presides? My non-CHI-vetted, D&C 20-based answer was that the next holder of priesthood leadership keys, the EQ president, would preside. Working through all the possible permutations (like working out royal blood-lines), technically at some point an AP leader (I.e., a 12 or 14 year old quorum president) could fill in for the bishop. They hold actual PH keys and have some authority to lead and exercise the PH on behalf of church members.

    What I didn’t have time to explain to my son and which seems to escape Kaimi is that as currently established (with no change on the horizon in any shape or form) is that when it comes to church leadership, a 14-year old Teacher will always have the right to preside over women when it comes to church leadership (however, see Oaks, supra, re: PH leadership in the home). It may upset some, but I see no other authority which holds that in the absence of a MP holder, a sister would preside – the next level of hierarchy is the AP as they hold the keys. The SA order of sustaining reflects that doctrinal reality.

  79. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    JDH, yes we are all well aware of the fact that under the current priesthood hierarchy, deacons come before their mothers in matters of church administration. The question is whether this hierarchal structure must be mirrored when members act in matters that do not depend on having priesthood authority. The act of sustaining the prophet requires no powers of priesthood administration, or women presumably could not participate at all. So why impose the hierarchial priesthood structure on an activity that does not require priesthood authority? We do just fine sustaining bishops, stake presidents, and apostles together as a united body. We even somehow manage to sustain the prophet in unison during regular conferences. So why a different practice during the SA? As near as I can tell, the only reason is tradition, and even that has evolved to be more inclusive of women. And even then, no one has offered any reason why a change in the *ordering* of the various groups would be problematic.

    Further, the rationale offered by you and others could justify any number of distasteful policies or practices in matters not involving the exercise of priesthood authority, all in an effort to “reflect” the current hierarchial structure. Of course, the trend in recent years is to move in precisely the opposite direction. Women at one point could not offer the opening prayer in sacrament meeting; now they can. Women and young women until recently could not stand as individual groups during the SA; now they can.

    In short, the idea that actions taken by members that do not require priesthood authority must nonetheless reflect the priesthood hierarchy has no basis in any church doctrine that I am aware of.

  80. David Kitchen on April 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Ronito,

    I apologize if I misunderstood you. I thought the issue WAS to determine what God’s will was towards women, in which case prayer is how one atunes his/her will with that of God. If one has already done that and come to the conclusion that God wishes women to have the priesthood, then yes, they should take that to their church leaders through the proper channel. But I don’t believe it is appropriate to “take action” (ie, convey an opinion to church leadership) without first confirming that you are in accord with God’s will.

    JDH, if the Bishop and his counselors are absent, the High Priest Group Leader presides. If no Melchizedek Priesthood is present, then the senior Aaronic Priesthood “takes the lead of the meeting” (per D/C 20, as Kaimi pointed out).

    But I am not sure that leading a meeting is the same thing as presiding. For instance, you can have a meeting of three Elders, none of whom is in the presidency, in which case one may take the lead but none of them preside. As far as I can tell, the only instruction in the D/C for an Aaronic Priesthood holder to preside is for a Teachers Quorum President or Deacons Quorum President to preside over their quorums (note that the Priests Quorum Pres is the Bishop). Thus I don’t believe any teen-age boys in the church currently preside over women. I say currently because teen-age boys in the past have been given the Melchizedek Priesthood (ie, Joseph F. Smith before his mission to Hawaii) and thus could have presided.

    I think the thrust of this inquiry is the perception that adult women should not be presided over by teen-age boys. I can understand that impulse, but I think it is wrong. President Monson has taught that the Lord always qualifies who is called, but I don’t believe he’s ever taught that the Lord always calls the MOST qualified. It is common place in our church for someone with more education or life experience to be directed by someone less learned and experienced. If otherwise, none of us would receive any calling (and thus not grow) because none of us is the most qualified.

  81. Ardis Parshall on April 30, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    We really need to have a session on the use of the dictionary. “Preside” and “precede” are not synonymous, no matter how often commenters write as though they do.

  82. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Of course, the fact that someone with the the Aaronic Priesthood may, under extenuating circumstances, “take the lead” at a local meeting is entirely beside the point here. Before the SA ever takes place, the new President and the First Presidency are ordained and set apart by the Quorum of the Twelve. At that point, they hold the keys of those offices; there is no need for any further authorization, whether by a member of the Aaronic Priesthood or anyone else.

    The purpose of the SA is simply to give the members an opportunity to *sustain* that action. Who goes first in that process simply doesn’t matter.

  83. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Ardis, I’m not entirely sure how you’re wielding your assertion in #81. “Preside” certainly is not synonymous with “precede,” which helps explain why the order of sustainings at the SA need not be based on the authority to preside.

    In other words, even if it is the case that under D&C 20 a member of the Aaronic Priesthood may, under extenuating circumstances, preside at a local meeting, that does not necessarily equate to a doctrinal mandate that the Aaronic Priesthood must precede women in sustaining the prophet at the SA. Based on your comments, I don’t think you actually advocate such a position, though some here clearly do.

  84. Ardis Parshall on April 30, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Randy, I’m not actually advocating anything, and maybe individual commenters are very clear in which word and action they intend. But it’s disorienting to read a string of comments bouncing back and forth between presiding and preceding, all springing from the same original post.

    I don’t know how people are moving from the order of sustaining in the recent solemn assembly to discussions of 12-year-olds presiding over adult women, but it has happened. Way back in #38 I chided maria for inferring one from the other, not believing that any reasonable person would make such an inference. But she was right — this thread demonstrates that people do exactly that. I apologize to maria and hope she may still be following this discussion.

    (And I’m not pointing at any particular commenter as making the error. Later commenters are reacting to earlier comments where the initial confusion between the words/concepts occurred.)

  85. Martin Willey on April 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Re 81: maria said that the order of voting in the SA made it appear that the the 12 year old boys EITHER presided over OR WERE MORE IMPORTANT THAN the adult women, including the General RS Presidency. I agree that the “presiding” issue is quickly disposed of. The “importance” issue is significantly more complicated, as evidenced by the comments on this post.

  86. James on April 30, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Elder David B. Haight discusses the history of solemn assemblies in:

    Haight, D. B. (1994). Solemn Assemblies, Ensign, 24(11), 14.

    In this article, he alludes to the procedure for solemn assemblies being given to Joseph Smith by revelation. Therefore, it seems to me that any changes in the process should reflect the Lord’s will.

  87. Randy B. on April 30, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks Ardis, that helps. I think part of the problem may be that this discussion actually started on another blog. Some of the underlying concerns here are more fully fleshed out there.

    I will say that I’m far more disturbed by some of the arguments advanced to defend the ordering of sustainings than I am by the ordering itself.

  88. Martin Willey on April 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    A quick scan of the Elder Haight address, and some other sources at lds.org, suggest that the history of the solemn assembly might be an interesting topic for a serious historian to tackle. Ardis?

  89. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    If there were official doctrine establishing that the current order of SA sustaining is in fact divinely mandated….

    I think people who want to suggest that this isn’t divinely inspired are jumping the gun. First of all, the very fact that this is the order of things as executed by prophets of God, to me is enough to have confidence that this is indeed official in its own right. I do think that this is one of those ‘unwritten order of things’ things, which means there isn’t a lot about it. That said, I did find some things that might be of interest. (I’ve been doing this on and off all day, so apologies if it repeats at all.)

    Personally, I find it a fascinating thing, and I think it’s something we ought not dismiss lightly. When I read ‘solemn assembly of the priesthood’ that seems significant. In a church where priesthood is significant, I don’t think this kind of order of things should be surprising. Concerns about solemn assemblies seem to me to be another way to express concerns about priesthood in general. And I do believe that we have plenty to support that the order of things re: priesthood is indeed according to revelation.

    Anyway, in another comment, I’ll include some things I read when this topic came up before, plus some more I found today.

  90. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    A solemn assembly grants to members the right to participate in the principle of common consent, instituted by revelation, authorizing members to sustain those called to official positions. This divinely revealed procedure for installing a new First Presidency of the Church—revelation from the Lord and sustaining by the people—has been followed to our present day. (David B. Haight, Ensign, May 1986)

    Today, by exercising the principle of common consent, we have expressed our will. How sacred is this privilege and responsibility? So sacred that in the great priesthood revelation, the Lord said that these matters “may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church” (D&C 107:32). David B. Haight, “Solemn Assemblies,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 14

    “We must have all things prepared, and call our solemn assembly as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish His great work, and it must be done in God’s own way. The house of the Lord must be prepared, and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 91.)

    Joseph Smith led the first solemn assembly, and after closing his discourse, he called upon the several quorums, commencing with the presidency, to manifest by rising, their willingness to acknowledge him as the prophet and seer and uphold him as such by their prayers and faith. All the quorums in turn cheerfully complied with this request. He then called upon all the congregation of Saints also to give their assent by rising to their feet.

    He then proceeded to have the quorums of the priesthood and then the Saints in general stand to signify their sustaining; the leaders of the Church and the councils of the Church were similarly approved. (Spencer W. Kimball, “What Do We Hear?,” Ensign, May 1974, 45)

    Collected Discourses, Vol.1, Solemn Assembly Vote, April 7, 1889
    Apostle George Q. Cannon said:–
    The object in arranging the Priesthood as they are this afternoon in their several quorum capacities is to form a general assembly of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and in presenting the authorities of the Church they will be presented to each quorum separately, for such quorum to vote by a rising vote and by lifting up their right hands.

    (From an “I have a question” — not official doctrine but still interesting): Solemn assemblies were restored in this dispensation as a part of the “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by thy mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21.) In ancient Israel, these assemblies were held in connection with feasts, sacrifices, and the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. On these solemn occasions, Israel gathered and came before the Lord in a state of ritual holiness. (Ensign > December 1988)

  91. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I also just read that the Doctrine and Covenants was approved/accepted in solemn assembly, as was the law of tithing.

    Something I read called a solemn assembly a type. I thought this might tie into that…?? (Be it known that I am nowhere near being an historian, but I do find this topic interesting.)

    John Corrill History of the Mormons (1839), p.23
    As a preparation, also, to the solemn assembly, all the constituted authorities, or quorums, were filled out in point of numbers, and presented to the Church, each one in its proper place, and acknowledged of the Church as the proper authorities by which the Church should be governed, according to the articles and covenants. These authorities, or different quorums, had been organized and established, one after another, by Smith himself, as the Church increased, and their different powers plainly set forth in the book of Doctrine and Covenants.

  92. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    One more from B.H. Roberts (The Life of John Taylor, p.339):

    Nothing can be more solemn and impressive than the voting of the quorums of the Priesthood, when they meet to act as a general assembly of quorums. …Perfect unanimity prevailed; and as the several quorums registered their votes and the entire assembly arose and with uplifted hands sanctioned what they had done [this is one of the things I found interesting], the scene was indescribably grand and impressive, carrying with it a power and influence that can only come from a righteous people giving their unrestrained assent to that which God has appointed. It was an influence born of a union of vox dei et vox populi. It was a Spirit identical with that which in a larger degree pervades the councils of the Gods.

  93. m&m on April 30, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Now I’m catching up on comments.

    No diss to m&m of any kind, but it’s not his stewardship, nor yours, nor mine.

    AMEN! (Although Randy is right; I am a girl.) Nor is it in any of our stewardships to determine that something at the general church level is “wrong” or a mistake or whatever. That’s not to say that people can’t have their opinions, nor to say that sometimes input isn’t sought, but in terms of revelation, it simply doesn’t work this way. The Spirit isn’t going to tell you that the prophet is doing something wrong. That order of things IS supported by doctrine. :)

    The purpose of the SA is simply to give the members an opportunity to *sustain* that action. Who goes first in that process simply doesn’t matter.

    Whoa, bro. You say people who support how things are have to provide support. At least we have prophetic action as support of the point of view we present. This is the kind of thing I think needs to be prefaced with something like “I think” rather than an absolutist statement such as yours. You simply have *nothing* to back you up except your opinion and maybe some other opinions. But that isn’t close to enough to then be able to make a declaration such as you do that something repeatedly done by prophets in a solemn and sacred occasion (as the Solemn Assembly as been called) ‘simply doesn’t matter.’ You simply have no authority nor official support for your point of view, and in fact have official procedure as evidence that you are incorrect. And the Spirit would not manifest itself in ways that are described with Solemn Assemblies if something were grossly amiss.

    (And even if things were to change in the future, that alone wouldn’t be evidence that how things have been done in this dispensation have been wrong up until now.)

  94. Rachel on April 30, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    manners would say it should be ladies first

  95. z on April 30, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Those are great quotes, m&m, but do you have something that speaks to the order of the quorums? I see “to each quorum separately” and “each one in its proper place,” but those statements don’t necessarily compel women voting last. What does “proper place” mean? And if women last is really proper, what accounts for past practice that differs from that?

  96. Left Field on May 1, 2008 at 12:20 am

    The first solemn assembly I remember was when President Kimball was sustained. The procedure then was then much longer. The First Presidency stood to sustain the First Presidency. Then the Twelve sustained the First Presidency, followed by the patriarchs, high priests, seventies, elders, Aaronic Priesthood, and then the general membership. Then the Twelve were sustained by each quorum (reading the names each time), beginning with the FP. Then each quorum stood in sequence to sustain Eldred G. Smith as Patriarch to the Church. Finally, each group sustained the counselors in the FP, the Twelve, and the Patriarch as prophets, seers and revelators. The remaining general authorities and officers were sustained in the usual manner, with everyone voting at once. Each quorum sat together in a designated area in the tabernacle. During the sustaining, the Patriarch to the Church stood with the Stake Patriarchs. Assistants to the 12 and Bishops (including the Presiding Bishopric) stood with the High Priests. The seven presidents of the 70 (there was then no First Quorum) stood with the stake seventies.

    I can see that someone with no patience for ceremony would find the procedure tedious, but as a teenager, I found the ceremony fascinating and impressive. Eugene England described the sustaining of Harold B. Lee:

    “President Tanner called each priesthood rank of the Church in order (First Presidency, Apostles, general authorities, high priests, etc., to Aaronic Priesthood and general assembly) to stand and sustain, if they would, the new Prophet, then each group again to stand in order and sustain the First Presidency, then the Quorum of the Twelve, with the new apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, the other general authorities. This standing and voting, the repetition for each group of all the groups they were voting for, took nearly forty minutes, but it was not boring, even to us listening over the radio to the rebroadcast; it was like a long formal preparation, a chastening of the emotions, and, according to Charlotte, who had been there, the sense of building power was marvelously tangible even to a young non-member friend sitting with her.” (Eugene England, “Going to Conference”)

    After witnessing President Kimball’s sustaining and reading Eugene England’s essay, I was rather looking forward to participating in the sustaining of President Benson. But I was quite disappointed that the ceremony was greatly shortened and streamlined. I can understand that not everyone would agree, but I didn’t think 40 minutes every couple of decades was too excessive for the rite of sustaining of a new president. Certainly the inauguration of a new US president, or a new Pope or Archbishop of Canterbury would last considerably longer than that.

    It was with lowered expectations that I participated in the sustaining of Presidents Hunter and Hinckley. However, like everyone else, I was very pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of the Relief Society and the Young Women in President Hinckley’s sustaining. As has been noted, the solemn assembly is traditionally regarded as an assembly of priesthood quorums. This change seemed an important indication that the Relief Society was regarded, if not as a priesthood quorum per se, at least as a parallel quorum of equal importance. At the time, it was generally agreed by nearly all commentators that this was an extremely welcome development. As a result of the change, I came to see the solemn assembly (abbreviated though it be) as a moving and important symbol of the importance of the Relief Society as a parallel and equally important organization with the priesthood quorums. It was rather startling and unexpected for me to read that for many, it now symbolizes the exact opposite.

    Having said that, I can certainly agree that the order of sustaining is something that should be looked at. I would not be in favor of all voting at one time just as we do in every other conference. I don’t think it can be said that our meetings have too much ceremony, and I would be reluctant to dispose of what little we have. But then I’m obviously not among those who eschew ritual or find it to be devoid of meaning.

    Regarding the idea of “presiding,” I think it’s important to point out that in the church, a person presides based on his or her calling, and not just on the fact of priesthood ordination. According to scripture, the presidents of deacons and teachers quorums preside over their quorum, but other deacons and teachers do not preside until they are called to do so. It’s not quite correct (comment 80) to say that teenagers never preside over women. Melchizedek Priesthood ordination can currently occur at 18, and under current church policy, a Melchizedek Priesthood holder is technically eligible to serve as a branch president, bishop, stake president, and even as a counselor in the First Presidency (branch president is of course, the only such calling likely to be extended to a teenager). All of these callings would involve presiding over both men and women, but presiding is a result of the calling, not just priesthood ordination.

    It is also possible under current policy for a priest to be called as branch president in the absence of a elder or high priest. The scriptural support for this is the instruction for a priest to take the lead of meetings. (A priest is necessary to form a branch, because you have to have at least one person who can administer the sacrament.) However, it would be very rare for a 16-year old priest to be called to preside over a branch, and again, it’s the calling, not the ordination that would allow him to preside.

    I would also disagree with Ray (comment 59) that unordained men currently vote after the sisters. At least through President Kimball’s sustaining, the instructions were for all *ordained* elders (or high priests, etc.) to vote. I haven’t checked to be sure when the change occurred, but in the most recent assembly, the instruction was for members of high priests’ and elders’ quorums to vote. Since prospective elders are currently considered to be members of high priest or elders quorums, they would properly stand with the Melchizedek Priesthood, though perhaps not all would realize that they were supposed to.

  97. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 1:23 am

    I knew I could count on m&m. ;) I suspect that at the end of the day, we may have to agree to disagree on certain things, but this is at least a more interesting direction for discussion. Apologies up front for the long post (I am, after all, responding to m&m).

    First, none of the statements quoted above give any specific doctrinal significance to the *order* of the sustainings. Rather, these statements generally discuss the importance and value of the SA. I have no disagreements with that. SA’s rock. Beyond not addressing even the basic question of a doctrinal mandate, these quotes do not even begin to approach the many implications of a doctrinal ordering to SA sustainings which have been noted throughout the thread. (On a final note here, the quote that seems to come the closest to actually dealing with SA ordering — your first quote by Haight in #90 — actually consists of two sentences separated by a dozen paragraphs and taken entirely out of context, as discussed in my fifth and final point below.)

    Second, the issue is not whether it is “wrong” (your word) to order the sustainings as they currently are. Rather, the issue is whether the current order is doctrinally mandated. That’s a different issue. We will simply have to agree to disagree on whether the fact that it has always been so (which itself is a questionable premise, as discussed next) means that God has dictated the order. As you are well aware, the church makes no claim of perfection in this regard. Quite frankly, I would be rather surprised whether God actually cares about the ordering. I suspect he has left it up to us.

    Third, the procedure of these SAs has changed in several ways over time. Up until 1986, priesthood quorums were seated together for the sustainings. When that became troublesome, the practice changed. As President Hinckley explained: “[I]n these present circumstances, it is considered unfeasible to seat by quorums those assembled in the Tabernacle and the many other halls. We shall, however, vote by quorums and groups.” Ensign, May 1986, p. 73. In other words, mere convenience was enough to abandon the long-held practice. Similarly, the practice again changed in 1995 to give women and young women the opportunity to sustain as separate groups. (To be clear, I wholeheartedly support that change. God bless President Hinckley! I just don’t think we’ve reached the end of the line yet.) Beyond these changes, if you read the account of the similar event held in March 1836 in the Kirkland Temple, you will notice a number of other differences as well. See History of the Church 2:410-433. In fact, even a comparison of more recent SAs highlights the evolution of the practice and church hierarchy. Compare Tanner, Ensign, May 1974 with Uchtdorf, Ensign, May 2008. (I see Left Field has detailed many of these sorts of changes.)

    Fourth, the SAs held to sustain new prophets are not called, at least in modern times, a “solemn assembly of the priesthood” as you suggest. Rather, and more appropriately, they are called a “Solemn Assembly of the body of the Church.” See, e.g., N. Eldon Tanner, “The Solemn Assembly,” Ensign, May 1974, at 38; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Sustaining of Church Officers,” Ensign, May 2008. Further, the purpose of these particular SAs is to ensure “that each member of his Church may have a voice in sustaining those whom he has called to preside over it and to direct its work, to the salvation and exaltation of mankind.” Tanner, Ensign, May 1974. See also Uchtdorf, Ensign, May 2008 (“Dating from October 10, 1880, when John Taylor was sustained to succeed Brigham Young as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of the Church, each of these occasions has been designated a formal solemn assembly of the body of the Church to express the voice of the Church.”). That this event is for the entire church, not merely or even primarily for those who hold the priesthood, is itself telling.

    Fifth, as noted at the outset, your most on-point quote, the one you lead with by Elder Haight, has several problems. The first sentence of this quote (the first one in comment #90) makes clear that the item that has been “instituted by revelation” is not the order of SA sustaining but instead the “principle of common consent.” Of course, the principle of common consent is easily reconciled with different orderings of SA sustainings.

    More egregiously, the second sentence you quote actually does not follow the first as you have written it. Instead, these sentences are separated by a dozen paragraphs. Further, the language immediately preceding this second sentence makes it clear the “procedure” being discussed has nothing to do with the ordering of SA sustaining. Here’s the fuller context immediately preceding the second sentence you quote:

    “When one Church President passes away, how is a new President selected?

    In 1835 the Lord gave a revelation on this matter that provides for orderly succession. The revelation states that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a body equal in authority to the First Presidency. (See D&C 107:24.) That means that when the President of the Church dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve automatically becomes the presiding body of the Church. That pattern was established with the death of the Church’s first President, Joseph Smith.

    Following the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum in 1844, the Quorum of the Twelve, with Brigham Young as quorum president, presided over the Church for the next 3 1/2 years.

    Then, on the banks of the Missouri River in Winter Quarters on December 5, 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met in council at the home of Orson Hyde. Each of the twelve Apostles expressed his views regarding the matter of reorganizing the First Presidency. Present in that meeting was Ezra T. Benson, great-grandfather of President Ezra Taft Benson. On that occasion, Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was unanimously sustained by members of that body as President of the Church. He selected Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as counselors. This action created a new First Presidency, which was later sustained by the unanimous vote of the Saints at a general conference of the Church held December 24, 1847, in a log tabernacle constructed at Winter Quarters by the Saints for this special conference. This action was later ratified by members of the Church at conferences in Iowa, Salt Lake City, and the British Isles.”

    Haight here is plainly focusing on the method of selecting a new Prophet by the Quorum of the Twelve and the process of reorganizing the First Presidency. When Haight actually gets around to noting the sustaining of the new President *by the members*, he merely notes that the sustaining was done by unanimous vote. He makes no mention of sustaining by groups, or even the supposed need to have these groups make their sustaining vote in a particular order.

    I don’t have time at the moment to delve further into your other quotes. I’ll try to look into them over the coming days. I’ll be interested in what the broader context of each actually says. At present, however, I see nothing which requires a particular ordering during SA sustainings. Nor do I see anything affirmatively stating that the current order is divinely mandated. While it is true that I have no authority to decide such matters on behalf of the church, I fail to see how that precludes me from pointing out the lack of any doctrinal statement on the matter.

  98. m&m on May 1, 2008 at 2:06 am

    I knew I could count on m&m. ;)

    Glad I didn’t disappoint. :)

    First, none of the statements quoted above give any specific doctrinal significance to the *order* of the sustainings.

    I don’t disagree that there isn’t a lot of explanation, but I’m not sure there aren’t hints at what it might be.

    For example:

    and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God.

    How might this point us or correspond to the temple? To the order of the house of God? What might that mean?

    the Lord said that these matters “may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church” (D&C 107:32)

    I think the order of the SA definitely ties in to the spiritual authority of the Church, and that is scriptural, so I see significance here in a pretty big way, and perhaps some measure of explanation as well.

    he called upon the several quorums, commencing with the presidency

    It seems this is not only significant, but simply logical. If unity and support doesn’t start at the top, why even commence to see if there is support along through the organization of the Church?

    As a lay member, I think this is significant to see. We get to see and be assured that those who lead us are unified, that they support the new prophet.

    These authorities, or different quorums, had been organized and established, one after another, by Smith himself, as the Church increased, and their different powers plainly set forth in the book of Doctrine and Covenants.

    I get the sense that this author was not a member when he wrote this, and still he sees some significance in the order. I thought that was interesting.

    I’m also interested in this concept of a ‘general assembly of the priesthood.’ Joseph F. Smith said this:

    The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church, of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, of communion with the general assembly and Church of the first born, and the presence of God, the Father, and Jesus, the Mediator. ( Gospel Doctrine, p.191)

    Note that he separates out the general assembly and the Church of the Firstborn. Why is that? What is the significance of the general assembly? To me, that seems like it might be important to understand if we want to understand why the SA is the way it is.

    And here’s that quote about it being a type…not sure what he meant, but thought it would be interesting to throw into the conversation….

    a solemn assembly, one of the types the Lord has instructed be called when matters of great importance to the kingdom of God on earth are to be conducted. (Jay Todd, Ensign > January 1973)

    And I have to say that even without a specific explanation, I do think there is enough plain ol’ logic the order, given what we know about the priesthood(s) and church authority that I don’t really understand how anyone could think that the order simply couldn’t matter in some way. I think the fact that there is doctrinal significance underlying how the priesthoods and the church are organized suggests that the order matters and is (I’m guessing) somehow tied to that.

  99. m&m on May 1, 2008 at 2:25 am

    In other words, mere convenience was enough to abandon the long-held practice.

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    The first sentence of this quote (the first one in comment #90) makes clear that the item that has been “instituted by revelation” is not the order of SA sustaining but instead the “principle of common consent.” Of course, the principle of common consent is easily reconciled with different orderings of SA sustainings….He makes no mention of sustaining by groups, or even the supposed need to have these groups make their sustaining vote in a particular order.

    I think this could go either way, though. Sure, if somehow a new order was created, that could fit, but there is nothing to indicate that this revelation didn’t also include an order. We don’t have all the specifics that the Lord gave with the commandment to hold a solemn assembly. I’m taking the approach that this very well could be, as I said earlier, part of the unwritten order of things. We don’t have all the details of all the instruction Joseph Smith received.

    To me, the fact that there has been an order since the beginning of our dispensation and the fact that it has continued for nearly 200 years, is not insignificant to me in its own right. Some may call it nothing but cultural tradition, but prophetic decisions and precedent to me have a bit more weight than that, again, especially with something as solemn and sacred as this. I also see, like I said in the previous comment, just a logic to the order of the SA that I find very little compelling reason to think it’s not significant – quite to the contrary, actually.

    Does that mean things couldn’t change? Of course not. But I don’t think we can predict that they will. I may get shot for this, but I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly. We AREN’T quorums, we are groups. President Uchtdorf said “We shall vote by quorums and groups.” There IS a difference. I tend to think that if a quorum were removed or skipped, my suspicion is that it would matter. Maybe it really is that the general assembly is no longer just for the priesthood, that somehow it started there but now is different. Who knows? I personally am not convinced of that at this point, even with the different ‘title’ given to the event as you mentioned…I feel this way especially given the fact that there is still such a clear importance of priesthood in church governance and issues of authority and keys. And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such, so to me this all blends and ties together quite logically.

  100. m&m on May 1, 2008 at 3:54 am

    I should add one more thing. I think the addition of having the RS and YW stand was cool. And I always thrill at the opportunity to raise my arm to witness my support of our leaders. I think Presl Hinckley was kind to include the women and young women, and I think that is a wonderful symbolic representation of the fact that we ARE involved and important in this work. So don’t misunderstand me. But I’m not convinced it’s of the same ilk as the order that has been more consistent, and I just think we need to be careful about assuming that this is some doctrinal shift, or that the fact that this could be added means that the order doesn’t really matter or never has. Maybe it doesn’t, but to me, the burden of proof lies more with those who suggest it doesn’t than those who do, because as I have said, I think that much of the doctrine and revelations and prophetic teachings and definitely church organization support the order of the Solemn Assembly. I would rather seek to understand why it is than assume that because we don’t have specific explanations that it must be insignificant. There are plenty of things that don’t have explanations that are deeply significant, and are left to us to discern and learn about. And frankly I think the order of the priesthood (which means so much more than just who does what in the Church) is one of those things. A mystery, if you will.

  101. Juju-Bee on May 1, 2008 at 4:31 am

    I\’m pointing out the obvious, but it seems like the deacons were called first, not because they preside over women, but because they have the priesthood and women don\’t. They called the groups in order of priesthood authority, it seems. Those who didn\’t hold the priesthood went last. I guess we could feel sorry that women can\’t hold the priesthood but that is a totally different question.

  102. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:27 am

    m&m,

    The demands of work limit my ability to respond today. I will try to respond to what I percieve are your primary points, but I likely won’t be able to get back to this discuss for awhile. Sorry if I leave you hanging.

    and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God.

    This does point to the temple, as you later suggest, but not in the way you think. Go back and read the actual passage from the Teachings of Joseph Smith, in context, and then go and read the March 1836 SA passages from the History of the Church cited above. Joseph here actually is talking about the temple and the ordinances performed therein, particularly the ordinance of the washing of feet.

    the Lord said that these matters “may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church” (D&C 107:32)

    I’m actually glad you’ve re-quoted this as it’s one of the things I didn’t have time to address the first go around. You fail to quote the immediately preceding language here. This sentence actually begins: “And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums . . . .” This verse has nothing to do with SAs. Instead, it is talking about how the unrighteous decision of a quorum may be reversed. Totally different idea.

    Further, as my original quotes from Tanner and Uchtdorf plainly demonstrate, the SA to sustain the new Prophet is a SA of the body of the church, not merely the priesthood. I suppose you could argue that in sustaining the Prophet, the “spiritual authorities” ought to precede all others. But that is not what this verse says; that is a leap you have to make on your own. To justify that position, you have to look elsewhere. And as already noted, I’ve yet to see any authority to make that connection as a matter of established doctrine.

    Your remaining quotes in #97 either don’t address SAs at all or don’t address the issue that we are discussing. As such, I’m not going to respond to them.

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

    Moving on to #98 —

    . . . I just think we need to be careful about assuming that this is some doctrinal shift . . .

    But I’m asking a preliminary question — is this doctrine at all. There clearly has been a shift in practice. If the original practice was in fact doctrinally mandated, as you insist, then how can we avoid the conclusion that there has in fact been a doctrinal shift? This position is incoherent.

    the burden of proof lies more with those who suggest it doesn’t than those who do, because as I have said, I think that much of the doctrine and revelations and prophetic teachings and definitely church organization support the order of the Solemn Assembly.

    To be clear, I’m responding to the assertion made by you and others that the order of the SA is in fact doctrinal. In these sorts of debates, doctrinal statements are often given preferential treatment (which is not to say they are always right) over those that are not. If people are going to defend a practice on doctrinal grounds, and thus attempt to take advantage of this preference, they are obligated to substantiate the doctrinal basis for the assertion. Again, I’ve yet to see any statement by any general authority, past or present, who resolves this question in your favor. Short of that, the best you’ve got is that the ordering follows the priesthood hierarchy. But that entirely avoids the question of why, as a doctrinal matter, must an activity that does not require priesthood authority follow the structure of priesthood hierarchy. See in particular my comments at #61 and #79. I’ve yet to hear a compelling answer to that question and the others raised those other comments.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I get why, as a matter of practice, the church goes in the order it does. When it comes to doing things in a particular order, the priesthood structure is a ready reference. I simply do not see any evidence for the contention that the ordering of SA sustainings is doctrinally mandated. Indeed, having looked back at Bushman’s book and a few other things, it appears to me that Joseph at the Kirkland SA wanted to visually show to both members and non-members alike the hierarchial structure of the newly formed church. Of course, in 1836, Joseph had not yet organized the Relief Society (that didn’t come for another 6 years) and the idea of a Young Women’s organization was still a long way off. How Joseph would have integrated these two organizations into a SA sustaining a new Prophet is an interesting question that is entirely unaddressed let alone resolved by the events of 1836.

    And with that, I’ll have to sign off. I’m afraid I’ve already spent well more than my alloted blogging budget for the day.

  103. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:29 am

    (This didn’t seem to go through the first time. My apologies if this shows up twice.)

    m&m,

    The demands of work limit my ability to respond today. I will try to respond to what I percieve are your primary points, but I likely won’t be able to get back to this discuss for awhile. Sorry if I leave you hanging.

    and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God.

    This does point to the temple, as you later suggest, but not in the way you think. Go back and read the actual passage from the Teachings of Joseph Smith, in context, and then go and read the March 1836 SA passages from the History of the Church cited above. Joseph here actually is talking about the temple and the ordinances performed therein, particularly the ordinance of the washing of feet.

    the Lord said that these matters “may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church” (D&C 107:32)

    I’m actually glad you’ve re-quoted this as it’s one of the things I didn’t have time to address the first go around. You fail to quote the immediately preceding language here. This sentence actually begins: “And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums . . . .” This verse has nothing to do with SAs. Instead, it is talking about how the unrighteous decision of a quorum may be reversed. Totally different idea.

    Further, as my original quotes from Tanner and Uchtdorf plainly demonstrate, the SA to sustain the new Prophet is a SA of the body of the church, not merely the priesthood. I suppose you could argue that in sustaining the Prophet, the “spiritual authorities” ought to precede all others. But that is not what this verse says; that is a leap you have to make on your own. To justify that position, you have to look elsewhere. And as already noted, I’ve yet to see any authority to make that connection as a matter of established doctrine.

    Your remaining quotes in #97 either don’t address SAs at all or don’t address the issue that we are discussing. As such, I’m not going to respond to them.

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

    Moving on to #98 —

    . . . I just think we need to be careful about assuming that this is some doctrinal shift . . .

    But I’m asking a preliminary question — is this doctrine at all. There clearly has been a shift in practice. If the original practice was in fact doctrinally mandated, as you insist, then how can we avoid the conclusion that there has in fact been a doctrinal shift? This position is incoherent.

    the burden of proof lies more with those who suggest it doesn’t than those who do, because as I have said, I think that much of the doctrine and revelations and prophetic teachings and definitely church organization support the order of the Solemn Assembly.

    To be clear, I’m responding to the assertion made by you and others that the order of the SA is in fact doctrinal. In these sorts of debates, doctrinal statements are often given preferential treatment (which is not to say they are always right) over those that are not. If people are going to defend a practice on doctrinal grounds, and thus attempt to take advantage of this preference, they are obligated to substantiate the doctrinal basis for the assertion. Again, I’ve yet to see any statement by any general authority, past or present, who resolves this question in your favor. Short of that, the best you’ve got is that the ordering follows the priesthood hierarchy. But that entirely avoids the question of why, as a doctrinal matter, must an activity that does not require priesthood authority follow the structure of priesthood hierarchy. See in particular my comments at #61 and #79. I’ve yet to hear a compelling answer to that question and the others raised those other comments.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I get why, as a matter of practice, the church goes in the order it does. When it comes to doing things in a particular order, the priesthood structure is a ready reference. I simply do not see any evidence for the contention that the ordering of SA sustainings is doctrinally mandated. Indeed, having looked back at Bushman’s book and a few other things, it appears to me that Joseph at the Kirkland SA wanted to visually show to both members and non-members alike the hierarchial structure of the newly formed church. Of course, in 1836, Joseph had not yet organized the Relief Society (that didn’t come for another 6 years) and the idea of a Young Women’s organization was still a long way off. How Joseph would have integrated these two organizations into a SA sustaining a new Prophet is an interesting question that is entirely unaddressed let alone resolved by the events of 1836.

    And with that, I’ll have to sign off. I’m afraid I’ve already spent well more than my alloted blogging budget for the day.

  104. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:31 am

    (This didn’t seem to go through the first time. My apologies if this shows up twice.)

    m&m,

    The demands of work limit my ability to respond today. I will try to respond to what I percieve are your primary points, but I likely won’t be able to get back to this discuss for awhile. Sorry if I leave you hanging.

    and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God.

    This does point to the temple, as you later suggest, but not in the way you think. Go back and read the actual passage from the Teachings of Joseph Smith, in context, and then go and read the March 1836 SA passages from the History of the Church cited above. Joseph here actually is talking about the temple and the ordinances performed therein, particularly the ordinance of the washing of feet.

    the Lord said that these matters “may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church” (D&C 107:32)

    I’m actually glad you’ve re-quoted this as it’s one of the things I didn’t have time to address the first go around. You fail to quote the immediately preceding language here. This sentence actually begins: “And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums . . . .” This verse has nothing to do with SAs. Instead, it is talking about how the unrighteous decision of a quorum may be reversed. Totally different idea.

    Further, as my original quotes from Tanner and Uchtdorf plainly demonstrate, the SA to sustain the new Prophet is a SA of the body of the church, not merely the priesthood. I suppose you could argue that in sustaining the Prophet, the “spiritual authorities” ought to precede all others. But that is not what this verse says; that is a leap you have to make on your own. To justify that position, you have to look elsewhere. And as already noted, I’ve yet to see any authority to make that connection as a matter of established doctrine.

    Your remaining quotes in #97 either don’t address SAs at all or don’t address the issue that we are discussing. As such, I’m not going to respond to them.

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

    Moving on to #98 —

    . . . I just think we need to be careful about assuming that this is some doctrinal shift . . .

    But I’m asking a preliminary question — is this doctrine at all. There clearly has been a shift in practice. If the original practice was in fact doctrinally mandated, as you insist, then how can we avoid the conclusion that there has in fact been a doctrinal shift? This position is incoherent.

    the burden of proof lies more with those who suggest it doesn’t than those who do, because as I have said, I think that much of the doctrine and revelations and prophetic teachings and definitely church organization support the order of the Solemn Assembly.

    To be clear, I’m responding to the assertion made by you and others that the order of the SA is in fact doctrinal. In these sorts of debates, doctrinal statements are often given preferential treatment (which is not to say they are always right) over those that are not. If people are going to defend a practice on doctrinal grounds, and thus attempt to take advantage of this preference, they are obligated to substantiate the doctrinal basis for the assertion. Again, I’ve yet to see any statement by any general authority, past or present, who resolves this question in your favor. Short of that, the best you’ve got is that the ordering follows the priesthood hierarchy. But that entirely avoids the question of why, as a doctrinal matter, must an activity that does not require priesthood authority follow the structure of priesthood hierarchy. See in particular my comments at #61 and #79. I’ve yet to hear a compelling answer to that question and the others raised those other comments.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I get why, as a matter of practice, the church goes in the order it does. When it comes to doing things in a particular order, the priesthood structure is a ready reference. I simply do not see any evidence for the contention that the ordering of SA sustainings is doctrinally mandated. Indeed, having looked back at Bushman’s book and a few other things, it appears to me that Joseph at the Kirkland SA wanted to visually show to both members and non-members alike the hierarchial structure of the newly formed church. Of course, in 1836, Joseph had not yet organized the Relief Society (that didn’t come for another 6 years) and the idea of a Young Women’s organization was still a long way off. How Joseph would have integrated these two organizations into a SA sustaining a new Prophet is an interesting question that is entirely unaddressed let alone resolved by the events of 1836.

    And with that, I’ll have to sign off. I’m afraid I’ve already spent well more than my alloted blogging budget for the day.

  105. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:32 am

    m&m,

    The demands of work limit my ability to respond today. I will try to respond to what I percieve are your primary points, but I likely won’t be able to get back to this discuss for awhile. Sorry if I leave you hanging.

    and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God.

    This does point to the temple, as you later suggest, but not in the way you think. Go back and read the actual passage from the Teachings of Joseph Smith, in context, and then go and read the March 1836 SA passages from the History of the Church cited above. Joseph here actually is talking about the temple and the ordinances performed therein, particularly the ordinance of the washing of feet.

    the Lord said that these matters “may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church” (D&C 107:32)

    I’m actually glad you’ve re-quoted this as it’s one of the things I didn’t have time to address the first go around. You fail to quote the immediately preceding language here. This sentence actually begins: “And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums . . . .” This verse has nothing to do with SAs. Instead, it is talking about how the unrighteous decision of a quorum may be reversed. Totally different idea.

    Further, as my original quotes from Tanner and Uchtdorf plainly demonstrate, the SA to sustain the new Prophet is a SA of the body of the church, not merely the priesthood. I suppose you could argue that in sustaining the Prophet, the “spiritual authorities” ought to precede all others. But that is not what this verse says; that is a leap you have to make on your own. To justify that position, you have to look elsewhere. And as already noted, I’ve yet to see any authority to make that connection as a matter of established doctrine.

    Your remaining quotes in #97 either don’t address SAs at all or don’t address the issue that we are discussing. As such, I’m not going to respond to them.

  106. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

  107. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:36 am

    test

  108. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:38 am

    (I’ve having problems submitting comments for some reason. Apologies if duplicates come through.)

  109. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:38 am

    (I’ve having problems submitting comments for some reason. Apologies if duplicates come through.)

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

  110. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:39 am

    (I’ve having problems submitting comments for some reason. Apologies if duplicates come through.)

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

  111. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

  112. queuno on May 1, 2008 at 10:43 am

    If thread is any indication, there is absolutely no doctrinal reason for the ordering. Some have noted their views on how the ordering matches up with ideas of priesthood hierarchy, but this is a far cry from establishing that the sustaining of the Prophet must — as a matter of doctrine — be done in the way it is. Indeed, these attempted rationalizations are reminiscent of old justifications for banning blacks from holding the priesthood.

    I don’t mind that people don’t care about the ordering. I don’t even mind (all that much anyway) that some actually prefer it. But I really don’t like the efforts to turn it into some sort of divine doctrinal mandate. It’s simply not there folks.

    Don’t we accept that doctrine can change through revelation? So if President Monson outlines to his counselors how the S.A. should be conducted, doesn’t that technically qualify as doctrinal? Or does it not count because he didn’t ask for a sustaining of the new policy?

  113. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:44 am

    (Troubles persist. I’ll try again.)

    Moving to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

  114. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 10:51 am

    So, despite repeated efforts, I’ve only been able to post about 1/3 of my response to m&m. I’ll try back later and see if I can get it to go through then. Not sure what’s up.

  115. Martin Willey on May 1, 2008 at 10:53 am

    m&m: Thanks for the research and thoughts. Very interesting and helpful.

    ju-ju bee: I don’t think it really is a separate question. Related, but not separate.

    Queno: This seems pretty obvious, but I don’t think every decision Pres. Monson makes, even with respect to Church administration, “technically qualifies as doctrine.”

  116. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Okay, let me try this again.

    Picking up with comment #98.

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

  117. Randy B. on May 1, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Well let me try again.

    As for comment #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

    I also don’t think that if the RS or YW were removed that it would have an impact on the legitimacy of the assembly.

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect? Why do you privilege Joseph’s ordering over President Hinckley’s? This admission by you seriously undermines the argument you are trying to make, namely that church policy and practice advanced by its Prophets must be doctrinally mandated.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

  118. rjb on May 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Second (actually third or fourth) effort —

    Responding to #98

    Yes, but it didn’t change the order, which is what we are addressing, no?

    Your (rather circular) premise is that the procedures set in place by the church must be doctrinally mandated. You have no statement that this is actually the case. Instead, you rely on the fact that because a Prophet followed a particular procedure, that exact procedure must reflect a divine command. I simply don\’t buy this line of thinking. And for evidence to the contrary, we need look no further than the SA itself. The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point. Moreover, the fact is that the order actually has changed, many times, most importantly being in 1986 with the addition of women and young women.

    I think this could go either way, though.

    Not if the rules of grammar are followed. Moreover, the principle of common consent actually is doctrinal and explicitly addressed in our scriptures and elsewhere. Indeed, this is precisely why we sustain at all. Notably, there is nothing of which I am aware in these scriptural or other discussions of common consent requiring that consent from the body of the church be obtained in a particular order. And you\’ve not given me a compelling reason why there should be.

    And as for the second sentence from Haight that you quote in #90, you\’ve done nothing to rehabiliate that statement from the problems I pointed out. You are misusing his words after wrenching them out of context and placing them (without elipses) next to a different statement that comes much, much earlier.

  119. GCBoise on May 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Very interesting thread and comments. This is what I love about T&S, is the willingness of the posters here to engage themselves in a topic like this. Debate is healthy (aside from the disparaging comments of course).

    It sure would be interesting to have the opportunity to review this thread in a couple of decades, to see what has changed – in practice, belief or opinions!

  120. Randy B on May 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Final piece, directed to #99

    . . . I just think we need to be careful about assuming that this is some doctrinal shift . . .

    But I’m asking a preliminary question — is this doctrine at all. There clearly has been a shift in practice. If the original practice was in fact doctrinally mandated, as you insist, then how can we avoid the conclusion that there has in fact been a doctrinal shift? This position is incoherent. I will add that Justin Butterfield over at Mormon Wasp has listed a few links on his sidebar from earlier SAs back in the late 1800s/early 1900s. They make for a pretty interesting comparison and further bear out that the ordering has in fact changed over the years. Did you know, for example, that Bishops used to go after all other members of the Melch. Priesthood and just before the Aaronic Priesthood? Also, patriarchs used to be able to stand as a separate group earlier in the process. Now they join in with others. In short, lots of changes, all without difficulty or hand-wringing.

    the burden of proof lies more with those who suggest it doesn’t than those who do, because as I have said, I think that much of the doctrine and revelations and prophetic teachings and definitely church organization support the order of the Solemn Assembly.

    To be clear, I’m responding to the assertion made by you and others that the order of the SA is in fact doctrinal. In these sorts of debates, doctrinal statements are often given preferential treatment (which is not to say they are always right) over those that are not. If people are going to defend a practice on doctrinal grounds, and thus attempt to take advantage of this preference, they are obligated to substantiate the doctrinal basis for the assertion. Again, I’ve yet to see any statement by any general authority, past or present, who resolves this question in your favor. Short of that, the best you’ve got is that the ordering follows the priesthood hierarchy. But that entirely avoids the question of why, as a doctrinal matter, must an activity that does not require priesthood authority follow the structure of priesthood hierarchy. See in particular my comments at #61 and #79. I’ve yet to hear a compelling answer to that question and the others raised those other comments.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I get why, as a matter of practice, the church goes in the order it does. When it comes to doing things in a particular order, the priesthood structure is a ready reference. I simply do not see any evidence for the contention that the ordering of SA sustainings is doctrinally mandated. Indeed, having looked back at Bushman’s book and a few other things, it appears to me that Joseph at the Kirkland SA wanted to visually show to both members and non-members alike the hierarchial structure of the newly formed church. Of course, in 1836, Joseph had not yet organized the Relief Society (that didn’t come for another 6 years) and the idea of a Young Women’s organization was still a long way off. How Joseph would have integrated these two organizations into a SA sustaining a new Prophet is an interesting question that is entirely unaddressed let alone resolved by the events of 1836.

    And with that, I’ll have to sign off. I’m afraid I’ve already spent well more than my alloted blogging budget for the day.

  121. Kaimi Wenger on May 1, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    We appear to be having comment issues here — our Akismet spam filter went nuts, and put half a dozen legit comments into moderation as probable spam. I’m freeing them. This will wreak a small amount of havoc on the number system, but so be it.

  122. m&m on May 1, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    To be clear, I’m responding to the assertion made by you and others that the order of the SA is in fact doctrinal.

    I don’t have time to say much, but all I will say for now is that I haven’t made an absolute assertion. I do take prophetic choices to have some weight that means something, even if I can’t find a specific quote to back it up. As queuno suggested, “So if President Monson outlines to his counselors how the S.A. should be conducted, doesn’t that technically qualify as doctrinal?” To me, that has some level of doctrinal weight, even if it isn’t something that has been officially outlined for all to see. I don’t think everything that has significance or is revelation-based will always be outlined, voted upon, and put in scripture.

    And I think that IS according to revelation, and has been stated as such . . . .

    Well you actually have not provided a statement to that effect. Again, the closest you come is Elder Haight who actually says nothing of the sort.

    Actually, there you missed what I was saying. Right before my comment, I said: “there is still such a clear importance of priesthood in church governance and issues of authority and keys.” That is repeated in scripture and in prophetic teachings…the issue of priesthood, two priesthoods, higher and lesser priesthoods, and keys and authority for governance of the Church being held in those two priesthoods. I think those facts alone are support for why the SA is in the order that it is. I personally don’t NEED an exact quote from a leader to think that there may be a tie between the way the SA is done and the way church authority operates. I, too, would be interested to see more explanation about that, but I still don’t think it’s a far leap to make a connection and to think that, given the fact that there has been enough similarity through this dispensation, that there was some basis in revelation. But, I understand that you don’t feel that way, and that’s fine.

    The fact that a procedure integral to the original SA and then followed for over a century was abandoned merely on account of convenience demonstrates the point.

    I don’t see this as you do, either. I see the order as more integral than the location of the seating. Still, the presidency went first, then the quorum of the twelve, and so on ‘down’ the line.

    As another example of how things can change but still be according to revelation…in the D&C, the congregation is told to all kneel for the sacrament prayer. That specific element of the ritual has changed, but that doesn’t discount the fact that the sacrament and the prayer are still valid. We could say this about recent, minor changes in the endowment (made for convenience, but not changing the meaning). Or even some changes in the ceremony itself. The changes don’t discount the foundation of revelation.

    Now, again, I know that the problem you see is that we don’t have an exact statement somewhere that says, ‘Therefore, thus said the Lord about how to do a Solemn Assembly.” To me, the practice of the church for something of this import is sufficient for me to believe it has some basis in revelation. I realize you don’t agree with that logic, and that’s fine. I’m sure we won’t be changing each other’s minds here. :)

    I actually suspect you may be right about this, but am absolutely shocked that you would say so. A Prophet of God has announced that women and young women are to be included. Who are you to say that he is incorrect?

    Oh, my, you are reading waaaay too much into what I said. I NEVER said he was incorrect, nor do I favor JS over Pres. Hinckley (where did that come from?) I understand your point about wondering what the doctrinal underpinning to this might be, and to me, it simply says, ‘You are a valued part of this work’ which is true. But there, I personally don’t see that procedure as essential. I also said I could be mistaken. There can be additions to foundations of revelation, no? See again my examples of how actual ordinance procedures have changed, not all for doctrinal reasons, but some for convenience only. There can be a combination of revelation-based, or doctrine-related (I still wonder where SA falls on this scale) and convenience-based or nice gesture kinds of decisions. I understand that makes it hard to figure out what’s what, but still, it happens, and has happened before without undermining the underlying doctrinal basis. Besides, revelation can be as much practical and kind as it can be doctrinal, no? :)

  123. queuno on May 1, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    This seems pretty obvious, but I don’t think every decision Pres. Monson makes, even with respect to Church administration, “technically qualifies as doctrine.”

    I absolutely agree.

    So … are solemn assemblies doctrinal or just a symbolic/procedural practice? If the latter (which I believe it is, since sustainings are largely symbolic anyway), are we going to be *really* upset about how President Monson chose to implement this particular SA? (Which differed from past SAs).

    But, if SAs are truly doctrinal, then the method followed in the last conference is then new doctrine, as dictated by the president of the Church, and what JS or GBH or SWK did or said doesn’t really seem to matter all that much, right? TSM chose to change the doctrine.

    I think it’s just a procedural, symbolic thing and TSM chose to implement it how he saw fit. And, every president of the Church gets exactly one chance to implement it, so the next SA will likely be how the next president of the Church implements it.

  124. ECS on May 1, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    “I think Presl Hinckley was kind to include the women and young women, and I think that is a wonderful symbolic representation of the fact that we ARE involved and important in this work.”

    So kindness was the motivating factor behind the changes to include women in the solemn assembly? Now it’s all making sense, in a kind of Blanche DuBois/Stanley Kowalski sort of way.

  125. Ardis Parshall on May 1, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    It’s safe to say that kindness has no part here, ECS.

  126. m&m on May 2, 2008 at 2:04 am

    I’ve been gone all day, but thinking about this and reading some of the responses, I’m thinking that I need to clarify a couple of things.

    1. I think that something can be inspired without necessarily having doctrinal weight, although I’m not sure any of us has really defined what we mean by these terms. I think some people are reading a little too much into what I have said. I don’t know how other people define what is ‘doctrinal’ and what is not. I think procedural decisions can be the result of revelation and inspiration. That doesn’t mean that every procedure has deep doctrinal significance. I think the SA likely has some doctrinal connections, but obviously it also has procedural elements. Again, if our ordinances can have procedural and other changes and still be inspired, doctrinally-based, valid, etc., why not something like the SA? I don’t see any reason to think it isn’t inspired, and nothing here has convinced me otherwise. But I don’t see any of the changes as being doctrinal changes. I hope that clarifies how I feel about that, because like I said, I think Randy and maybe others have been thinking I was making this all heavier than I was, like each change represented some huge thing, and that now we need to be searching for new doctrine. Not ‘tall.

    2. ECS, related to the above, my point was that I don’t see the addition of RS and YW to the SA as some significant doctrinal thing, like somehow now women and young women are more important than they were before. I think it’s symbolic of what has always been there, but nothing new in my mind has been established doctrinally, just like I don’t see other changes in SAs over the years as having doctrinal significance, even if they are inspired decisions (or not). That doesn’t mean it wasn’t inspired, and I am glad we have that opportunity.I didn’t mean to minimize it, and I think you feel like I did. I’d be interested to know how you and others view it.

    And Ardis, I’m not sure what you meant by your comment, but so if there was something you wanted me to get from it, maybe you could help my thick-headed self?

  127. m&m on May 2, 2008 at 3:14 am

    “So if President Monson outlines to his counselors how the S.A. should be conducted, doesn’t that technically qualify as doctrinal?”

    Ah, I see that quoting this might have been confusing as to what I was trying to say. ‘Doctrinal’ in this situation is likely strong, but inspired? I’m not sure that’s too strong, but I need to say that I am totally just thinking out loud here and sorting through my own thoughts, so please don’t make my comments more than they are.

  128. Ardis Parshall on May 2, 2008 at 5:04 am

    And Ardis, I’m not sure what you meant by your comment, but so if there was something you wanted me to get from it, maybe you could help my thick-headed self?

    No, m&m, that wasn’t aimed at you. This is as good a place as any to say how much I admire you for your constant willingness to respond with patience and additional explanation no matter how willfully you’re misunderstood, here and everywhere else. I can’t do it — when somebody challenges me with a sarcastic “So what you’re really saying is …” and twists my words into something no reasonable person could assume I meant, my tendency is to spit back with anything but kindness. You always seem to rise above that. I wish I knew how you did that, and were strong enough to do the same.

  129. ECS on May 2, 2008 at 9:35 am

    m&m – I was half-heartedly joking around with the Streetcar reference. All I meant to say was that relying on the kindness of our leaders – instead of on divine revelation they receive – can be a shaky foundation on which to ground our understanding of Church policies and procedures. I don’t think our leaders are just being plain mean by not allowing women to play a greater role in non-priesthood leadership positions, for example. That’s all.

  130. Randy B on May 2, 2008 at 9:52 am

    I have only a thought or two to add, which I’ll try to do later today or tomorrow (though in abreviated form), but I wanted to first agree wholeheartedly with Ardis.

    I find myself in disagreement with m&m about so many things, both large and small, that it’s hard to keep track. But I will say this, she is a class act when it comes to responding with level-headed kindness and sincerity to those who disagree with her. It is an approach that 98% of the bloggernacle could improve upon, myself included. I have often lamented the openly bitter and overly sarcastic approach sometimes taken by some apologists, wondering how it is these people could possibly think such tactics will bring people closer to the gospel. We all suffer lapses, either in execution or by design, in responding in a christ-like fashion to our critics, but m&m does this better, even far better, than most. For that, my hat’s off to you.

  131. Randy B on May 2, 2008 at 10:18 am

    I should also confess here that my comments about your view on the doctrinal strength of Joseph’s and Pres. Hinckley’s different approaches to the SA were intentionally overstated. Frankly, I was hoping that by pushing you on the issue, you would clarify how it is you were thinking through your conclusions. My point, imperfectly made, is that you were not applying your theory equally to these variations by different prophets. I still think I’m right about that, though perhaps I have not yet fully grasped your method of distinguishing them.

    If you feel I’ve misrepresented your other views, I hope you’ll let me know as it certainly was not my intention.

  132. Mark M on May 2, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    # 78 and # 80 disagreed on who presides when the bishopric is absent from a ward meeting. For anyone still reading…

    78 said:
    My son asked me a similar question this morning about PH authority: if the bishop and his counselors are not at sacrament meeting, who presides? My non-CHI-vetted, D&C 20-based answer was that the next holder of priesthood leadership keys, the EQ president, would preside. Working through all the possible permutations (like working out royal blood-lines), technically at some point an AP leader (I.e., a 12 or 14 year old quorum president) could fill in for the bishop. They hold actual PH keys and have some authority to lead and exercise the PH on behalf of church members.

    80 said:
    JDH, if the Bishop and his counselors are absent, the High Priest Group Leader presides. If no Melchizedek Priesthood is present, then the senior Aaronic Priesthood “takes the lead of the meeting” (per D/C 20, as Kaimi pointed out).

    I think if we checked the doctrine and order of things, # 78 is the more correct statement. Those holding keys (or authorized by the key-holder) preside. The bishopric and elders quorum presidency hold keys within the ward. The high priests within a ward comprise a *group*, not a full *quorum*. The high priest *quorum* includes all high priests within the stake, and the stake president is the president of the high priest quorum. That’s why it is a High Priest “Group Leader” in the ward (with “assistants”), and he does not hold keys.

    I have been in a few rare sacrament meetings where the EQ president conducted sacrament meeting, due to the absence of each bishopric member.

    It is important for deacons to understand who is presiding, since they first pass the sacrament to that person. If a stake presidency member is sitting on the stand with the bishopric, the stake presidency member presides over that sacrament meeting. High councilors do not preside — they are not part a presidency and do not hold keys.

  133. Blain on May 2, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    74 — Silence isn’t what I’m advocating — doing something productive is what I’m advocating. My point is not that this conversation is sinister or sinful or evil — it’s that it’s pointless. And, also, I’m challenging some of the ideas floating along the way — again, not saying that they are sinful or evil, but that they might be wrong.

    You’ve never heard me say that the Church nor its leadership are perfect. I think it’s a good thing to ask for input from those you have stewardship over — I tend to give input to my local leaders, in fact. If you want to send a letter to the FP about this, be my guest. I don’t know that it’ll make any difference, but I’m not one to know. I’m not insisting that the current practice is dictated in detail by God, but I am insisting that it’s possible that it is. If so, don’t expect to see it change based on your request. But talking to people here isn’t going to change anything at that level.

    My point about seeing to our own stewardships is not about persuading people — it’s an honest inquiry as to whether or not we’re seeing to what we are called to do with the amount of time we’re spending here talking. I’ve spent more time in this thread that I have Home Teaching in the past month. We might have better things to do.

    m&m — Sorry I didn’t notice your girlness. I’ve been confused for a girl before online. I guess our secondary sex characteristics aren’t always clear in an all-text environment. And nice that we’re agreeing other than that.

  134. Kristine on May 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Blain, although it’s impossible to know for sure, it is likely that letters to the FP about the solemn assembly after President Benson did have some impact on the decision to include women when President Hinckley was sustained. It is known that such letters exist, and that the policy was changed. Long way from causation, but it seems likely that the FP would have at least needed to become aware that some women were distressed by the former practice before they would consider changing it.

  135. Blain on May 6, 2008 at 1:00 am

    134 — Perhaps it will. It’s going to be a while before we can tell. I tend to think that letters to the FP would be more productive than a blog thread — I’m not one who believes that blog posts will change the world.

  136. JT on May 6, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Although off-topic, I thought I would respond to (132):

    The keys of the priesthood are the right to preside over and direct the church _within a jurisdiction_. For example, while a deacons quorum president presides in a deacons quorum presidency meeting, even though a Melchizedek Priesthood-holding advisor is also there (according to the CHI), his keys to preside do not extend outside of the deacons quorum. It’s kind of like trying to figure out who would preside in a given meeting between a temple president, a mission president, and a stake president. If the meeting is a stake conference, the stake president presides. If it is a missionary zone conference, the mission president presides. If it is a meeting in the temple, the temple president presides (one temple president told me that he was told by the First Presidency that he would technically preside in any situation in the temple unless a member of the First Presidency were present, though they said he should definitely give credence to counsel given by other general authorities :)). If the meeting is a coordinating council or something outside of all of their technical “jurisdictions,” none of them would preside over the other two, which is why AA70s would attend these meetings. Keys are limited to a jurisdiction, unless those keys are given at a general level (like the prophet).

    (80) was correct certainly as a matter policy (ie, it is the current policy that the HP group leader would preside if the bishopric were absent), and, in my view, as a matter of doctrine as well:

    8 The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things.
    9 The Presidency of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, have a right to officiate in all the offices in the church.
    10 High priests after the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an elder, priest (of the Levitical order), teacher, deacon, and member.
    11 An elder has a right to officiate in his stead when the high priest is not present. (D&C 107:8-11)

  137. Zina on May 6, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I’m going to take the lazy and possibly rude approach of offering my gut reactions without actually reading the exhaustive 136 comments given before mine (feel free to ignore the interloper):

    1. Previously we women got to sustain the new prophet as part of conference but not in the Solemn Assembly, so taking the Solemn Assembly right into the conference seemed like a great new way to do it, to me. I liked it. I liked sustaining the prophet and didn’t care at what point my turn came. I was a little concerned, though, that my Primary-aged kids (three of them still unbaptized) might feel left out, so I was relieved when they got to stand and sustain at the end along with the general church membership.

    2. I want my son who’ll soon be old enough to hold the Priesthood to feel the responsibility and importance of his calling, and the dynamics in our home have never been such that I fear he’d ever use that as a reason to treat me badly, and I personally already feel the responsibility and importance of my callings, so I’m fine the idea of his standing before I do.

    (Okay, now I’ll go back and read — and probably find out this has all already been said much better than I did — which is actually why I posted before reading, since I was pretty sure there wasn’t anything left to say. But felt like saying something.)

  138. Ray on May 6, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks, Zina. I’m glad you didn’t read the comments and decide not to post your own comment. It’s a great perspective.

  139. Zina on May 6, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Well I made it to #92 but I need a nap now. A few more thoughts, first, though:

    I guess this was not the first but the second time that a Solemn Assembly was incorporated into General Conference? And I”ve realized I was just assuming that women weren’t present at earlier Solemn Assemblies, since I’ve heard stories of my dad and other men going to attend past ones, but hadn’t heard about women attending. Is this correct?

    Also I don’t think that new revelation about how things are done (such as women being included now but not previously) has to mean that the ways things were done earlier were wrong — I see them as being as right as they could be for their time and for what the mortal members of the Church were ready for — just like I assume and hope Heavenly Father accepts all our best efforts (that don’t go *contrary* to His will or words) even if we’re not quite living like the people in the City of Enoch yet. So likewise, if the order of sequencing of sustaining in Solemn Assemblies is later changed, it won’t mean the leaders of the Church who organized this one got it wrong.

    After my last comment I realized that you could argue that if I like for my son to be shown the importance of his priesthood service by the sequence in which he’s asked to sustain the prophet, I should want the same thing for my daughter — but the thing is, I’m fairly comfortable that she’s, for now anyway, secure in the importance of her future role of following Eve’s (and my) example in bringing children into the world and taking a primary role in their nurture. I just don’t think that either gender in our family has had a sense of inferiority pertaining to their specific callings, since I think my husband and I feel pretty secure in the significance of our roles and callings (which we see perhaps more as burdens that we accept because of our duty to give service and sacrifice than as self-aggrandizing positions.) Maybe I’m just a little chauvinistic, though, in thinking that my son might benefit from a little bit more promotion of the value and necessity of his priesthood service than my daughter might need to want to be a mother. I don’t think my son couldn’t get the message without things like this — but I do like them, and think they help.

    Oh — and I realize also that my under-8 kids weren’t necessarily intended to stand and raise their hands with the general membership, but I figured they were allowed to just like they’re allowed to in Sacrament Meeting — it’s not meaningful other than as practice for them, but (I think) it’s tolerated. (Either that, or we’re all apostates here and I should have been slapping my little ones’ hands back down. But I doubt that, somehow.)

  140. Lisa B, formerly of FMH on May 6, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    It\’s been a while since I\’ve posted on the blogs, but I had a significant (to me) personal response to the Solemn Assembly that I want to share, though at the same time I don\’t know if there are words adequate to express what I have felt and in some ways continue to feel. Forgive me in advance for this perhaps-inappropriate-to-the-forum, completely-non-intellectual response.

    As many of you know from my brief time at FMH, I sympathize deeply with girls, young women, and women (being among them) who at times feel hurt by \”the way things are\” within the church and in our larger culture(s). I again felt and silently communicated this hurt as we participated in the Solemn Assembly, had similar thoughts about continued inequities, and personally wished that the general officers of the Relief Society, Young Women\’s, and Primary organizations could participate side by side with the other general authorities, and that the sisters of the Relief Society and the young women could participate side by side with their (age-wise) corresponding priesthood quorums–or contrastingly, that the former autonomy/independence of the RS and auxiliary organizations and life-long callings of RS and other general auxiliary presidents could be re-instituted. But simultaneously, I felt (with gratitude) the weight and solemnity of the occasion, a testimony of the calling of President Monson and the new members of presidencies, quorums and auxiliary leadership, and joy and gratitude at being a part of this kingdom of God on earth.

    Recently, Gladys Knight\’s choir came to our area and put on two missionary firesides at our Stake Center. As part of the preparations for the tour, a representative of the choir met with area, stake, and ward mission leaders and told the story of the choirs\’ institution. As the story goes, Sister Knight was talking to President Hinckley about her conversion to the church and commented that LDS music left something to be desired. His response to her? Something to the effect of \”Well then, fix it!\” Over the past several years as I\’ve contemplated my feelings about women in the church and in our larger society, I\’ve felt that my feelings of hurt are key to understanding a part of my life mission here–that this sense of something missing is just/right/true/a spiritual barometer, but that I can respond–as with any sense of injustice or \”this isn\’t quite ideal\”–either productively or negatively, and to my own and others\’ benefit or detriment.

    So, on a day to day basis, I am trying to heed the personal call I have similarly felt to \”fix it\” in my own life. As I\’ve begun to do this, I have been increasingly impressed with the weighty role EVERY individual plays in potentially influencing every individual with whom they come in contact. Though it\’s kind of a cheesy film, the idea is reflected in the movie and book \”The Five People You Meet In Heaven.\” I work daily to minister to, interact with, and teach the members of my own household (now miraculously numbering 5) and others within my sphere of influence–but particularly my young daugher–in a manner that will endow her (and them) with the knowledge, skills, and spiritual gifts necessary to fully avail herself (and them) of the atonement and gifts of the spirit available to all followers of Christ regardless of gender, life mission, circumstances, or formal church calling. I think we sometimes underestimate the sufficiency of these universally available powers. At the same time, I recognize that I am wholly inadequate for this task if left to myself/ my own strength/ given my own weaknesses, but have faith that Christ\’s grace is sufficient here as in other matters of salvation.

    Where the fact of gender inequalities in this fallen world can potentially adversely impact the faith and hope of sisters and daughters in particular, this teaching involves highlighting the contributions of women in personal, family, church, spiritual, and even world histories more than we collectively and traditionally are accustomed to do,as well as presenting gospel principles (such as the availability and use of gifts of the spirit, the atonement, and other gospel teachings and blessings) as universally as they are intended to be. THIS is what I can do, without challenging the authority of the church or suggesting (or even thinking) that I have or know a better way, and without allowing distance from the designed-in-the-Image-of-God-Male-and-Female, equal partnership, Matri/Patriarchal ideal to \”separate me from the Love of God.\”

  141. Kaimi Wenger on May 7, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Thanks for your comment, Lisa. It’s a good one, and I appreciate it.

    “Over the past several years as I\’ve contemplated my feelings about women in the church and in our larger society, I\’ve felt that my feelings of hurt are key to understanding a part of my life mission here–that this sense of something missing is just/right/true/a spiritual barometer, but that I can respond–as with any sense of injustice or \”this isn\’t quite ideal\”–either productively or negatively, and to my own and others\’ benefit or detriment.”

    That sounds exactly right to me. The situation is what it is, and there are more constructive and less constructive ways to approach it. We should recognize that, and recognize the effects of different possible approaches.

    “I work daily to minister to, interact with, and teach the members of my own household (now miraculously numbering 5) and others within my sphere of influence–but particularly my young daugher–in a manner that will endow her (and them) with the knowledge, skills, and spiritual gifts necessary to fully avail herself (and them) of the atonement and gifts of the spirit available to all followers of Christ regardless of gender, life mission, circumstances, or formal church calling. . .

    This teaching involves highlighting the contributions of women in personal, family, church, spiritual, and even world histories more than we collectively and traditionally are accustomed to do,as well as presenting gospel principles (such as the availability and use of gifts of the spirit, the atonement, and other gospel teachings and blessings) as universally as they are intended to be.”

    That really sounds like a good approach. There is all sorts of doctrinal wiggle room regarding gender, and there’s no reason to focus only on men’s accomplishments or send unconscious messages along that line; yet often, that’s what happens, whether advertently or not. Your approach seems like a very good way to remind your daughter that women are not second-class citizens in God’s eyes — and Heaven knows, it’s a message that girls can’t hear often enough.

    And if you don’t mind a rubber-hits-the-road question — what materials are you using? I’ve got a number of women texts around the house — Claudia Bushman, Jill Derr, and so on — but I haven’t seen a whole lot of kid-friendly stuff that highlights womens’ experiences in church. Kids’ materials — especially board books and picture books — are all heavily male.

    (And, aren’t you a home schooler? I think I remember some blog discussions about home schooling between you and Julie, but I could be mixing up my FMH bloggers. If you’re home schooling — to what extent is this project linked to home schooling? Is it something that a non-homeschooler could do, do you think?)

    Anyway, sorry if I’ve asked too many questions. I really appreciate your comment — it’s made me think about what I’m doing in this area myself. (Never enough, really.)

  142. Lisa B on May 7, 2008 at 11:02 am

    What happened with the quotation marks and back slashes in my first post?

    You are right that there aren’t (yet) many LDS sources for children exclusively about women in scriptures and particularly women of restored scripture and Latter-day church history. I would love to see a well-illustrated Women in Scripture for LDS children published. For now, Jesse & I glean what we can from the ever-increasing pool of sources which do exist, starting with stories and illustrations from the Friend, New Era, and Ensign, since these can easily be clipped and compiled in 3-ring notebooks.

    We have several of these works in progress (my version of scrapbooking?) that now include Women of the Bible (and P of GP), Women of the Book of Mormon, Women of the Restoration (including female church auxiliary leaders general and local, and inspiring stories from “random sampler” and the like), Female Ancestors & Personal History, Child Heroes, and my son’s chosen Scripture Heroes (adult and child), male ancestors, etc. We also include copies and visual aids from any talks they give, and other stories, individuals, or illustrations that catch their attention.

    I’ve also used prints of illustrations from LDS and non-LDS sources as we come across them, starting with the LDS picture kit, the church’s cartoon-format illustrated scripture stories, church bookstore postcards and small prints, Minerva’s BOM illustrations, church competition artwork (from the Ensign), MOA at BYU prints, DK Children’s Illustrated Bible photographs and illustrations, Dore’s etchings (I bought a Bible in Pictures second hand), even female felt figues (Julie’s idea). Recently, we’ve started using scripture stickers–the ones made for Women of the Bible–for any stories of women in any of the standard works.

    Additional sources we’ve used include:

    Children’s stories: 16 volume Illustrated Stories from the Book of Mormon (Promised Land Publications–from my childhood–mediocre to poor illustrations, but in some instances, it’s all we’ve got), The Church Story (from Jesse’s childhood), Jesus Christ Son of Man The Early Years (Susan Easton Black, Liz Lemon Swindle), The Little Sleeping Beauty [Jairus’ Daugher] (Arch Books), God’s Girls (devotionals for girls from a Christian bookstore), Women of the Word (Mary Lou Sleevi), An Easter Story (Patricia Pingry), I Can Be Like Nephi (Holly Robinson, Dilleen Marsh)–great two pages on Abish, The Story of Easter (Christopher Doyle, John Haysom)–actually illustrates the woman annointing Jesus’ head with oil in preparation for his burial, LDS board books (some are better than others–I really like the BOM with photos of little children dressed as BOM figures), Daughter of a King (Rachel Ann Nunes, David Lindsley), He Is Risen Indeed! (David Erickson), Frances Hook Picture Book (another old one), I Am A Child of God (Wendy & Michael Nelson, Greg Olsen), Beloved Savior (Simon Dewey), Bible ABC, The Children’s Songbook, God’s Wisdom for Little Girls (Elizabeth George/Judy Luenebrink) [we also have God’s Wisdom for Little Boys. We don’t use these two resources gender exclusively]

    Illustrated collections: Images of Faith–Art of the Latter-Day Saints (Museum of Church Hst and Art), Babies Celebrated (Beatrice Fontanel/Claire d’Harcourt), Mothers: A Loving Celebration (Joan McIntos/Tara Ann McFadden/Susan Oyama), [we’ve also got Dads Love Babies (Whitney McKnight)], From Eden to Armageddon: A Biblical History of the World in Classic Art and Illustration (Denny L Brown)

    Narrative and commentary: Leaven: 150 Women in Scripture Whose Lives Lift Ours; Our Sisters in the Bible; Our Sisters in the Latter-Day Scriptures (Jurrie Hurd); All the Women of the Bible (Edith Deen); Women of Faith Study Bible (Zodervan); Women in Eternity, Women of Zion (Alma Don Sorensen & Valerie Hudson Cassler); Carol Lynn Pearson’s book about spiritual women (anyone know the title? this one’s lent out), Her Wits About Her (Denise Caignon & Gail Groves); Daughters of God (S. Michael Wilcox); Eve and the Choice Made in Eden & its sequel (Beverley Campbell); Sunbonnet Sisters (Arrington & Arrington Madsen); Growing Up in Zion (Susan Arrington Madsen); They Knew The Prophet (Hyrum and Helen Mae Andrus); Women of Covenant (Derr, Cannon, Beecher); Elect Ladies: Presidents of the Relief Society (Janet Peterson, LaRene Gaunt), Mothers of the Prophets (Arrington, Madsen, Jones), The Inclusive Language Debate (D.A. Carson); Women’s Voices (Godfrey, Godfrey, Derr), Sisters in Spirit (Beecher and Anderson), Heroines of the Restoration (Smith, Thatcher), The Holiness of Everyday Life (MacDonald), Setting the Record Straight: Emma Smith (Susan Easton Black), Women and the Authority of Scripture (Sarah Heaner Lancaster)…

    Any additional suggestions ya’ll? It’s good to have a current resources list typed up to add to the list of women I put together on FMH a few years bacj. I haven’t had a chance to read all of these, but this is what we have and a pretty good start I think.

    Yes, we homeschool. This project is linked to homeschooling only insofar as we have additional opportunities for highlighting women’s accomplishments in our school teaching as well as our spiritual and general life skills teaching, and as teaching our own rather than peer or world values is one of several possible reasons for homeschooling–homeschooling being just one manner in which parents can attempt to handle the problem of avoiding negative socialization, world view indoctination, and/or peer pressure (including negative attitudes towards women and girls). I think any parent/family member, church teacher/leader or friend can teach with awareness of gender issues and using women as role models for women and men, boys and girls and have a positive impact.

    As far as talks and lessons go, it’s easy to substitute a female hero for a male one in just about any talk or lesson. Just a few weeks ago, we had an excellent RS lesson about the atonement which included the story of Abigail as a type of the atonement. Nope, I can’t take credit for that lesson, but I sure enjoyed it!

  143. Kaimi Wenger on May 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for that follow-up, LisaB — that’s a very useful resource list. I’ve got some of them on my shelf now, but there are others that I should add.

    (I think the Pearson book you mean is Daughters of Light,about womens spiritual experiences in the early church — it’s a good one. Or you may mean The Flight and the Nest, which is also a good read.)

    (There’s also a book you may want to look into called “In their own voices — Women and the story of Nauvoo” or something like that (I’m at work right now, and it’s at home) — it’s got some good material.)

    I’ve got more to say, but right now I have to go pick up kids — I’ll try to follow up later.

  144. Kaimi Wenger on May 7, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    One other quick note — if you haven’t seen it already, you may want to look at the “Essential texts in Mormon feminism” thread, http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3750 — a number of commenters suggested different books of interest.

    Okay – off to play chauffeur now.

  145. Alison Moore Smith on August 12, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Late to the party, again. Just wanted to say that we all gathered around the TV for the SA. As the sustainings went on and on–with only my husband voting–my then-14-year old turned to me and said, “What about us? Will they ever get to the girls???”

    I didn’t know what to say.