A small, mostly meaningless diversion from the U.S. primaries:
My cousin was set apart as bishop of his ward two weeks ago. I like this cousin. He’s a liberal academic, teaching humanities at a very cool university and he has excellent taste in TV, books and movies. We usually discuss this excellent taste over Diet Coke.
When we gtalked a few weeks ago about his new calling, we chit-chatted, he asked for my condolences, I gave them and then he told me he was giving up Diet Coke. And a part of me died a little bit. What are we going to do while we talk about Battlestar Galactica and Haruki Murakami? Is he going to drink Sprite? Ridiculous.
Despite the fact that caffeine has been mentioned by Gordon B. Hinckley as one of the things from which Mormons abstain (remember that interview with Larry King?) we both agreed that caffeine is not against the Word of Wisdom. So, why, why is he giving up Diet Coke? He says it is because he never wants it to be a stumbling block to those in his ward. There are members of Church that do believe caffeine is against the Word of Wisdom and he doesn’t want that to get in the way of him being able to act as their bishop. I said that just because they believe it, it doesn’t make it so. That they need to grow up and realize that their perceptions of righteousness need to grow a little bit (I am stamping my foot in the conversation round about now). He says that he feels impressed that he needs to give it up for the sake of others.
Gosh darn it.
Impressed. That trumps everything. I can’t argue with it. It means the Spirit has most likely did the impressing and that beats out a girl with a diet Coke addiction. I may or may not think this use of impress in an argument is unfair, nevertheless, I deeply respect my cousin’s decisions to do what he feels is right to be a good bishop. I still wouldn’t mind being in his ward, even if he doesn’t drink Diet Coke because he doesn’t want to be a stumbling block.
So a couple of questions, do you think things like Diet Coke for a leader can cause people to stumble? Do you think it will affect their relationship with their leader? Should a leader give up things that are culturally perceived (or were a past expectation) to be a sign of disobedience in order to help his or her (it could happen in RS) flock and their faith? I also wonder if giving up caffeine, or being clean-shaven, while not required is a sign of greater obedience? Is it a higher law? Is that why my cousin feels like he should give it up? This same cousin did shave his beard when he was on the high council, despite the Stake President’s permission to keep it, for similar reasons as the Diet Coke. He thinks it’s silly that a human should get in the way of a person’s relationship with God. I agree. I just think that humans who think that other humans have less of the Spirit because of caffeine or a beard should grow up.
I should be able to wear a beard if I want to.