Category: Church Leadership and Policies

Brigham Young’s Early Journals

While the Joseph Smith Papers project is, in many respects, wrapping up, other presidents of the Church—including Brigham Young— have begun to receive more attention and papers projects of their own. In a recent interview at the Latter-day Saint history blog From the Desk, Ronald K. Esplin discussed some of his observations about the first volume of the Brigham Young journals to be published by what could be called the Brigham Young Papers Project.

New Apostle

It’s not a terribly novel insight, but the recent calling of Elder Kearon to the Quorum of the 12 is another sign that the Church is breaking out of the relatively limited geographical Mountain West area in spirit as well as in raw numbers, and that the increased diversity of the Church is trickling upwards into the highest rungs of leadership. An adult convert from overseas was called to replace a multigenerational blue blood from pioneer leadership stock in a quorum that is increasingly made up less of multigenerational blue bloods from pioneer leadership stock. (Very pointed note: pointing out this fact is not in any way meant to disparage President Ballard). 

A Book worth tracking down: “Drat! Mythed Again”

Drat! Mythed Again: Second Thoughts on Utah by: Steve Warren Most people, I find, have never heard of this book, but it’s one I referenced often growing up, as we had a copy in my house. My parents weren’t sure exactly when they picked it up, but it’s 1986 copyright date indicates it had to be after they moved to Alaska.

How Much Longer Will President Nelson Live?

President Nelson could very well become the first centenarian President of the Church. But what’s the chance of that? What about the chance of reaching 101?  For him to be the oldest General Authority of all time he would have to live to be over 106, the age that Patriarch Emeritus Eldred G. Smith reached. And of course, there is the chance that he could reach “supercentenarian” status at 110, and be the President of the Church when my grandchildren are born.  While many public life tables are “right censored” at the high end, e.g. they stop at a certain number and then just say “and above,” there is some data on year-by-year longevity at extreme ages. While the work below is not nearly as complex and sophisticated as, say, the excellent work done over at Zelephohad’s Daughters, it provides more detailed insight into a single individual.  A disclaimer: I firmly believe that President Nelson will pass on when God decides it is time for him to pass on, and I don’t mean to be macabre. Still, that is not to say that dynamics discussed here are irrelevant. God works through the natural world and natural trends.  So let’s get into it. The “Risk of dying during age X” column is taken directly from the Social Security Administration numbers linked above. I then chained the probabilities of survival from year to year to get the probability of living until age x…

Is Elder Uchtdorf More Liberal?

A common belief in pop Salt Lake City Vaticanology is that Elder Uchtdorf is one of the more progressive members of the Quorum of the 12. This may be true, but for being such conventional wisdom there is very little hard data to back it up, which is the case for most speculations about the inner-workings of the Quorum of the 12 and First Presidency. While the mid-level Church Office Building leaks like a colander at times, very little verifiable information about the inner workings and personalities of the Quorum of the 12 and the First Presidency makes it to the public. They run a pretty tight ship.  This means speculation is based on tea leaves more than anything else. As far as I can tell, the belief that he’s more progressive is based on the data points of: He’s Western European. This seems to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Americans sometimes have this image of Europe as like us but all Coastal Democrat, when that’s not the case at all. In some ways Europe is more “conservative” than Rupert Murdoch’s wildest dreams. Cases in point: while the draft tore American society apart, many European countries with no discernible external security threats still required service in the military until fairly recently, various European governments pay religions directly out of tax money, and if I’m remembering correctly Iceland had some real legislative momentum towards banning pornography recently. Of course, what’s…