Priesthood Session: A Personal View

April 5, 2014 | 23 comments
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I attended priesthood session at my local chapel. About sixty men and boys in attendance. One woman. It was snowing when I left home. I decided to reward my choosing the right with good consequences, so I stopped by my local Wendy’s and bought a small vanilla Frosty. On the way I listened to a few minutes of my current audio CD, Neptune’s Inferno, about the US Navy at Guadalcanal. Right now (in the CD) the US heavy cruiser San Francisco (which survived the fight) is trading fire with the Japanese battleship Hiei (which didn’t) in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. There were a dozen ships on each side in a wild, confusing night melee. A lot of good young men on both sides died that night, November 12, 1942.

We live in better times — our young men serve missions and go to priesthood meeting instead of going off to battle. Well, that’s not completely true. Our neighbors have a son who is a crew chief with the 10th Mountain Division. There are thousands of LDS soldiers, sailors, and airmen presently serving, and families who pray for their safe return. Our current generation of older GAs are the last of the WWII generation. President Monson served in the Navy toward the end of the war. Elder Packer flew B-17 Flying Fortresses in the Pacific and was stationed in postwar Japan, where he baptized the first Japanese family to join the LDS Church after the war.

Okay, back to priesthood. All the excitement was outside, but I hear it was fairly quiet and orderly. LDS women came, didn’t get tickets, and left. President Uchtdorf is conducting. He flew jets.

Elder Oaks says priesthood power blesses all of us, both men and women. He expressly notes that priesthood talks are published so both men and women can receive the counsel given. Keys are given to direct priesthood work. Authority is the power of God delegated to man. How does this apply to women? They don’t have the priesthood, but they do have priesthood authority (example: work done in the temple). They have authority to serve under the direction of bishops of the wards. Relief Society is an appendage to the priesthood, not just a meeting. As a missionary, a sister is given priesthood authority to preach the gospel. Forget about rights, focus on your responsibilities. Only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood. But men are not “the priesthood.” Quotes J. Reuben Clark: Women have the complement of priesthood powers. Marriage is a full partnership (women shouldn’t be limited partners). Blessings of the priesthood available to men and women on the same terms. The temple is an example of this: endowment of priesthood power to both men and women. [Wow, quite a talk, and surprisingly conciliatory. An olive branch, perhaps.]

Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy grew up in Hawaii. [That's where Pearl Harbor happened. Early Sunday morning, Japanese carrier planes zoomed in from the north and flew low right over the island, with some planes peeling off to hit a couple of airfields, but most of them hitting the ships berthed at Pearl Harbor. And they really hit them. But no US carriers were at Pearl — they were all at sea. That story you might have heard about a Japanese plane that tried to bomb the Laie temple (on the north side of the Oahu, about thirty miles from Pearl)? An urban legend. Didn't happen. And now there is a temple in Tokyo, too. A lot changes in 70 years.] The talk: We need to be priesthood men. Don’t be selfish. Don’t do porn. Just be perfect.

Randall L. Ridd, a counselor in the Young Mens Presidency. The Internet: the best and worst of what the world has to offer. What does your heart desire? Each click has meaning.

President Uchtdorf: Don’t sleep through the restoration! [He flew jets for the German Air Force, but he did his fighter training in Texas. He was the best pilot in his class. It takes time to train a good pilot. At the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, near Guadalcanal, a month before the surface battle recounted earlier, three Japanese carriers squared off against two US carriers. The Japanese won tactically (sunk the Hornet and damaged the Enterprise) but their two healthy carriers had to return to Japan because they lost so many pilots. Planes aren't much good without good pilots, and the Japanese couldn't train them very quickly. The Church, on the other hand, has a deep bench. Maybe we can't afford any more temples, but we have plenty of potential temple presidents. And mission presidents. Tens of thousands of local leaders. Almost a hundred thousand missionaries. We have a lot of human capital. We will never run short of pilots.] The talk: Alcohol, porn, sex, and gambling, are all addictive behaviors. Avoid them. President Uchtdorf sat in the pilot’s seat of Air Force One. He still feels the need for speed.

President Eyring on Joe DiMaggio, his baseball hero when growing up. [Joltin' Joe joined the Air Force in 1943. He was assigned to be a stateside physical education instructor and he played in exhibition baseball games. He sort of loafed around with the other players a lot. But Joe was embarrassed by the easy life he was being given and demanded combat duty. His request was denied.] The talk: Be a model priesthood man. Three things: prayer, service, honesty.

President Monson, looking and sounding very sharp. We face opportunities and challenges in the world around us. Have courage to do the right thing as the world moves away from our moral values. Courage is not just on the battlefield. Navy story: the quiet courage of a young sailor who, in crowded quarters, was not afraid to pray. Jabari Parker story: His father told him to be the same person in the dark that he is in the light. We will all face fear, opposition, and ridicule. Courage, not compromise, brings God’s approval. Remember the words of Paul: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Be a good example in word, in charity, in spirit, in faith.

[Updated 4-6-14]

23 Responses to Priesthood Session: A Personal View

  1. Jim W on April 6, 2014 at 12:38 am

    You missed the part about focus and the multitasking fallacy.

  2. Mark B. on April 6, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Baseball was introduced in Japan in the 1870s. The Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants toured Japan in 1913, playing exhibition games against Japanese teams. The most famous tour of Japan by American baseball players might have been the group of all-stars who visited in 1934. They won all their games, against a team of Japanese all-stars, but Eiji Sawamura gained fame by striking out Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx (all now in the Hall of Fame) in order. The team of Japanese all-stars, sponsored by Yomiuri Shimbun, turned professional and became the Yomiuri Giants.

    And, Elder Packer flew in the Pacific Theater–he was in Japan during the early days of the occupation, and was involved in perhaps the first convert baptism in Japan after the war. All the online sources I can find say that he flew in the Pacific, not in Africa or Europe.

  3. Tim on April 6, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I like the fact that President Uchtdorf quoted MLK (something that would have been entirely scandalous not all that long ago, although I realize he is sometimes quoted in GC) and that President Eyring emphasized that his role models went about their lives quietly doing service and didn’t brag about their priesthood callings or other (significant) accomplishments.

  4. Mike Maxwell on April 6, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Here are some things that were not said…

    Elder Oaks: “I am giving this talk to that tiny minority of OW women who we won’t let in the door but are probably out there in the rain paying a lot more attention to this talk than all those men here in the building with me… I am absolutely sure that you ladies don’t currently have the priesthood and that probably won’t change, although God could decide to give it to you someday, but you should okay either way because while you don’t have the priesthood, you have authority which is pretty much the same thing except it is not because it is not actually priesthood. And, anyway, you should just focus on using that authority (that is not priesthood but is a lot like it) to take care of your responsibilities, which are not rights because people are too hung up on their rights these days. I am absolutely dead certain about all of these things. Got it?”

    Elder Hailstrom: “I could have said this whole talk in one sentence… Be a man… like Jesus.”

    Elder Ridd: “Young men… Stop acting like milleninals and focus on something. And yes, just like God, the Internet does keep track of everything you do online for your whole life.”

    President Uchtdorf: “Yes, I did say the word “sex” in a conference talk and Yes, God’s prophet did have to tell me not to hijack Air Force 1, and no, I did not mean to say that selfies are inherently evil but more conservative Mormons will most surely believe that after hearing this talk.”

    President Eyring: “Yes, it is true. I am a Yankees fan.”

    President Monson: “Since I have been busy exercising courage by not compromising and explaining a lot of things this year, I have not been following college basketball too closely. What’s that Mormon guy’s name again?…”

  5. Jax on April 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

    My 10 year old son: Why did the girls (his sisters 11, 8) get to go to a meeting last week but I don’t?

    Me: Because they are cooler than you.

    Son: ?

    Me: K, well really it is because for years the girls never got to go but the boys 12 and up did, and that made the girls feel bad I suppose. So now the girls get to go at a younger age to make up for it. Don’t worry about it to much. Just play by the rules no matter how odd or illogical and you’ll be fine.

    Was there a better way to explain that? Please spare the “he is being left out and it is hurting his self-esteem” junk. He doesn’t care and is willing to just do what he is supposed to do. He wasn’t sad or dismayed by being left out. And HE understands my humor even if you don’t. But is there a explainable reason why 8 yr old girls got invited?

  6. Old Man on April 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Jax,

    Because there is a higher likelihood that 8 yr old girls will behave themselves at a 90 minute meeting than their male counterparts.

  7. Dave on April 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for the corrections, Mark B. I was confusing Boyd K. Packer’s war experience with that of George McGovern, who did fly B-24 Liberators in Europe. Elder Packer flew B-17s in the Pacific and his time in Japan was after the war was over (I will update the text of the post). This Deseret News article gives some details:

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705362386/Serving-in-the-line-of-duty-President-Boyd-K-Packer.html?pg=all

    The most interesting quote: “Boyd was stationed with the American occupation forces in Japan for nearly a year. During that time, he was instrumental in baptizing the first Japanese family that joined the LDS Church after the war.”

  8. Mark B. on April 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Easy mistake. I often confuse George McGovern and Boyd K. Packer. :)

  9. Stephen Wight on April 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Elder Oak’s very good talk last night was more of a reminder than anything. See:

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/05/the-relief-society-and-the-church?lang=eng.

    He was a little more direct last night than in 1992, and last night’s nights presentation was useful to remind current members of the Church of the “why” behind priesthood ordination practices. However, this won’t affect the beliefs of those that have been in the OW movement for any length of time, as I am sure they are aware of what has been said previously.

  10. Dave on April 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Stephen, I thought that, on the whole, Elder Oaks’ talk was rather conciliatory. He gave about as much as you can give within the existing LDS doctrinal framework. He didn’t engage in any patronizing finger-wagging, but emphasized that women who serve in the Church do so with “priesthood authority” and that a sister missionary “is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function.” He then extended that concept (of performing priesthood functions) to women who serve in other callings in the Church.

    That sounds like progress to me. That sounds like giving as much sympathetic recognition, if not support, to the OW women standing outside in the rain trying to listen to his talk (instead of occupying empty seats in the Tabernacle) as an LDS apostle can do today, in the here and now. And it gives some well-earned praise to the tens of thousands of LDS sister missionaries out there doing a priesthood function by preaching the gospel.

  11. Jax on April 6, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Old Man,

    I’ll have to remember that when he asks again in 6 months. Thanks!!

  12. Mark on April 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Elder Hallstrom shared something in his talk that was told to him by a ward member in a private meeting when he was a bishop. He directly quoted the man after having described quite a lot about him. He quoted “Bishop, I have a bad temper and that’s just the way I am.” Isn’t that a breach of confidentiality? I would never expect a bishop to repeat something I or anyone else tells him whether he uses the person’s name or not when sharing it. That is what confidentiality is about – NOT EVER REPEATING what someone tells you with others. There are certainly people from that ward who know who he is talking about based on all the clues he gave. Am I wrong? My stake president recently did something similar in a talk. Why is their standard of confidentiality so low? Or maybe my standard is too high?

  13. J Town on April 7, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Jax,

    The priesthood meeting is for holders of the priesthood, therefore 12 and up. However, the general women’s meeting has no such built in age limitiation since they aren’t organized into priesthood quorums, therefore all female members of the church are invited.

  14. ProSapien on April 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Jax

    He wasn’t sad or dismayed by being left out.

    Then was he really “left out”? I didn’t get invited to Orem High’s prom this year, but would never ask why I was “left out.”

    But his question (as stated by you) was why did the girls go to a meeting last week and he didn’t. The answer is that it was a meeting for girls and he’s not a girl.

    Mike Maxwell, I haven’t read/watched the talk yet, but from all the summarizing going on, that was exactly my thought about Oaks talk. “What?”

    Dave:

    Blessings of the priesthood available to men and women on the same terms. The temple is an example of this: endowment of priesthood power to both men and women.

    I guess Oaks hasn’t noticed that the endowment is NOT the same for men and women? (Nor the sealing?) Either the temple script needs updating or the general authorities need to change theirs.

  15. Mike on April 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Mark #12 – I think you’re overanalyzing a bit. If members of the ward could figure out who it was, then they already were aware that he had those particular issues.

  16. Mark on April 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Mike #15. Thanks for your reply. I’m not sure I was analyzing, I personally thought it was an observation. Elder Hallstrom repeated something shared with him as a bishop in a confidential conversation. That’s not confidentiality. I’m not sure I agree with your implication that if others are aware of an issue it’s acceptable for a bishop (or ex-bishop) to share the content of confidential conversations.

  17. Mike on April 7, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I think the challenge is that we don’t have the entire context of his “disclosure.” At any rate, I don’t think he disclosed the name of the person, and odds are fair that more than one member of his ward has an anger problem.

  18. Kristine A on April 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Mike #4: thanks, that was great. Will you summarize the rest of the sessions for me, please?

  19. Joe Michaels on April 7, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Why such a noticeably shorter summery for Bro Ridd’s talk?

  20. Dave on April 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Joe, all my summaries were pretty short. I just couldn’t come up with a good war story to throw in for Bro Ridd.

  21. Roger on April 8, 2014 at 6:47 am

    I very much feel the same way as Elder Oaks, but it also does seem as if we water down “the priesthood” when we emphasize various priesthood power and authority that is given with ordination but at baptism or various callings don’t here it? At the very least if it’s not a parting with “truth” it’s a parting from how we emphasize the distinctness of the priesthood with prior prophets.

    I definitely agree women receive power in the priesthood and that they work under the direction and authority of the priesthood, which by definition gives them (anyone with a calling) some authority to carry out their responsibility according to God’s will.

    But can’t this expanded approach just lay the groundwork for priesthood power and authority to work outside the church? I surely much is done that’s good in the world by others inspired by God. Shall we talk about the priesthood thereas well? In our desire for inclusive language do we risk the rhetorical destruction of distinction?

  22. Jax on April 8, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Prosapien

    I should have clarified. He was asking why his sisters got to go to the “women’s meeting” but he didn’t get to go to the “men’s meeting”.

    He’s fine with it, but the change seemed odd to him that suddenly they were included.

  23. Cameron N. on April 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Jax, I’ve seen lots of boys go to priesthood before they turn 12. Nothing’s stopping him if he has been baptized.

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