A plea for expanding our notion of leadership

After reading the news of Faust’s passing earlier this morning, my husband and I naturally began to think about who might succeed one of our favorite leaders as an apostle. So, we began reading biographical sketches of our church leaders. With the exception of some foreign members of the Seventy, many of which served in the CES system, the vast majority of our leaders pursued careers in law or business. This did not especially surprise me, since in my experience this has been the case amongst local leadership as well.

Here are the stats for the Quorums of the Seventy as we read them on lds.org:

Note: I am only listing people by their primary careers, not by what BA they earned or by what other talents they might possess. “Business” means MBA types, those who got into management via another route, business professors, and business owners. Although business is a vague category, members of the seventy all tend to be in high-end, financially successful positions. Most of the foreign members, interestingly, came through CES. “Other” is comprised primarily of members in the military, medicine, and farming. There is a notable absence of secondary teachers, scientists and engineers (including software), government workers, social workers, artists, and other humanities types. Perhaps this fact is in part explainable by the fact that women tend to prefer these lower-paying professions. In terms of local leadership, I can only speak about my own experience, which is undoubtedly inflected by region, since I have no statistics. All but one of my bishops has been an MBA or lawyer. They have, for the most part, also been good.

Presidency of the Seventy:

Law – 2

Business- 3


Unavailable – 1

1st Q. of Seventy:

Law – 11

Business – 21

CES – 9

Other – 5

Unavailable – 1

2nd Q. of Seventy:

Law – 7

Business – 11

CES – 2

Other – 8

Although lawyers and businessmen undoubtedly bring with them extensive administrative experience that they gain in valuable, demanding professions – here, though, we might well wonder if an apostle’s chief role should be to run a bureaucracy rather than to teach the gospel – I have become increasingly frustrated with the ways in which our church culture has so strongly linked notions of leadership to successful careers within business.

While there is certainly much to admire in life trajectory of a business leader, it seems that our focus on one type of leadership can result in us overlooking how people engaged in other pursuits – social work, teaching, performing arts, farming, or even homemaking to name just a few- also have valuable perspectives, spiritual experiences, and skills that our church could benefit from deploying. But, if the church frequently appoints the same type of members to leadership positions, it seems likely that the ideas these other members can offer have a diminished chance of being passed up the chain of command, since these members will rarely occupy positions of power. As a consequence, our church might be less innovative, less informed, and less able to empower its members than if it had an influx of different types of leaders, ideas, and perspectives.

In my mind, the fact that our church emphasizes a business-oriented model of leadership is especially problematic, because it reinforces a male-oriented conception of leadership that helps marginalize women from key leadership roles. Granted, there are many Mormon women who have successful careers as lawyers, MBA’s, or other professionals – but it also seems that Mormon women are more likely than men to work in fields like social work that do not have leadership weight within our culture (even though people in these fields, like those in business, often do know how to run large organizations and have developed useful skill sets.). We could benefit from the insights they have to offer.

But putting aside the fact for a moment that retaining one model of success and leadership limits our potential to be a dynamic church and poses serious barriers to information flowing up the ladder, I wonder if this limited conception of leadership also limits the ways in which Mormons feel they can live successful lives that serve the lord and the ways in which we feel that we can experience spiritual fulfillment. What, after all, does being a “leader” have to do with testifying of and acting like Christ? Why do we imbue our church authorities with the rhetoric of leadership (as seemingly defined within a business/management model) rather than focusing more on the qualities that prepare them to speak about their faith?

For many years, I felt that the concept of leadership presented to me within church culture demanded a long career within a high-paying, prestigious field. But, this career model of success is one I have not followed, both because I found myself more fulfilled within academics and because the career model of success proved difficult for me to cling to in a complex world that often demands that I (and my spouse) respond to the needs of my family.

While I first experienced my inability to achieve the type of leadership that my culture seemed to validate with intense shame and insecurity, I believe that my disenchantment with that model of success has actually empowered me to outline my priorities and make educational, career, and family choices that I – and not just the people around me – value. For me, deciding that there are other ways of being successful and being a leader has been frighting, but also extremely positive, since I have been forced to exercise my agency and rely on my own judgements to determine what will make my life a success. Hopefully, my decisions will help me contribute to our church, too.

In all likelihood, our next apostle will also come from law, business, or administration. And that will be fine. But, there’s definitely a part of me that wishes he (since it can’t yet be a she) will bring more than administrative qualifications to the table. I’m really interested in hearing about the next apostle’s spiritual experiences, and I’m not convinced that the best people to teach the gospel always have classically successful careers. Joseph Smith, Sr., after all, was a financial failure by almost every measure, and he was also a patriarch that people sought after.


  1. To comment on my own post:

    One factor that I also should add to this discussion is that this conception of leadership might be informed by the fact that many of the most public Mormons – Romney, Covey – did achieve success within business and now represent good Mormons to the world.

    Another factor might be that a large portion of Mormon males do choose professional careers. So, perhaps professionals are not overly represented in the leadership in proportion to the overall Mormon, American male population. I would need some statistics here.

  2. Richard Bushman.

  3. More seriously, this business approach is what I find most disturbing in church discussion of missionary work. I seriously hate going to ward missionary meetings and getting what amounts to a business plan for spreading the gospel. Sure, it’s more efficient, but somehow it just feels icky–insincere, disingenuous, impersonal. I was really glad that last two new apostles were an educator and a pilot. I’m personally rooting for another scientist (or Richard Bushman), but that’s probably a function of my desire to see my own profession well-represented.

  4. Eric Russell says:


    Your post seems grounded in the assumption that individual’s professional resumes are a primary consideration when callings are given. I don’t buy it. They perhaps provide a slight, unconscious influence, but certainly not a primary one.

    It seems to me that the most competent leaders are chosen for the next level of leadership – regardless of personal professional background. That many such people just happen to be successful leaders in the business world only makes sense. But correlation does not mean causation.

  5. anothernonymous says:

    Natalie, it would help this post if you listed the professional background of the principal church leaders (i.e. 1st Pres. & Quorum of 12). We did a lesson last week of getting to know our leaders and it turned out many of the leaders you’re referencing don’t fit the corporate profile you’re bemoaning. I do agree that it is much more common as you survey the quorums of the seventy.

  6. California Condor says:

    It’s all about incentives. In general, those with talent will be drawn to careers that can earn high incomes. Why? The more money you have, the better your ability to buy what you want.

  7. anothernonymous says:

    As an additional observation, I recall on having met a bishop whose profession was janitor. I also recall being in an MBA “change/leadership” course where the professor did mention that there was a high correlation between church leadership and business training/leadership. I pointed out to the professor that one group (church leaders) wasn’t a subset of another (business leaders), citing that my Dad had been a bishop and didn’t fit this profile (an engineer most of his career who reluctantly took a management/bureaucracy position later in his career), but the professor shrugged the comment because it didn’t conform to his paradigm.

  8. I think the reason that there are so many business and lawyer people in leadership positions is because they have made enough money to be able to give up their time to the Lord.

  9. Natalie,

    Have you prayed to God and let him know your feelings on the matter? He is after all the one who ultimately decides what kind of an Apostle to call…

  10. I agree that businessmen are “overrepresented” (although I’m not saying that’s bad, and I do believe in the inspiration of their selection). On the other hand, two of the 12 apostles were career educators, and some of the others also have a strong background in education. I think that an objective outsider looking over the biographies of the apostles would come to the conclusion that the church places a strong emphasis on the skills of both business and academia. If any field is underrepresented, it may be the arts — no filmmakers, full-time writers, actors, sculptors or photographers among them. And there aren’t any manual laborers (plumbers, electricians, miners, factory workers and so on) either.

    What I’d really like to see, however, is a nonwhite apostle, regardless of occupation.

  11. Dan, maybe a blog post is a type of prayer. Rather direct, but certainly sincere. Not some safely hidden silent prayer, but a bold and publicly voiced plea. Blog posts go out to all the world, so they certainly don’t escape the attention of an omnipotent God.

    It would, of course, be mildly irreverent to actually address a blog post to God. “Dear God, remember how you used to call scientists into the Quorum of the Twelve? Now seems like a nice time to give it another try.” So it really does seem more fitting to hold this sort of discussion between ourselves, and trust in those diligent angels (silent notes taking) to pass along any particularly worthwhile suggestions.

  12. California Condor says:

    I remember once on my mission someone who was neither a Zone Leader nor a District Leader was called to be Assistant to the President.

    Maybe it’s time to pull an Apostle out of the obscure ranks of the non-GA membership.

  13. our church emphasizes a business-oriented model of leadership

    In my mind, this is not self-evident, nor do you present any data for it to be taken as factual. Even if the numbers back it up, I don’t see this as “emphasis” unless you believe that it’s the humans picking the humans.

    General humanities- Hinckley (classics, journalism), Holland (american studies)

    Law- Oaks (accounting)

    Business-Perry, Ballard, Wirthlin, Hales (fighter pilot), Eyring (physics)

    Publishing/business- Monson

    Edcuation/CES- Packer, Bednar

    Medicine- Nelson

    Nuclear Engineering- Scott

    Pilot- Uchtdorf

    Ballard was a car dealer, and I see that as qualitatively different than, say, a VP of finance.

    Eyring studied business, but was an educator.

    Recently we’ve lost Faust (lawyer), and added a pilot (Uchtdorf) and another educator (Bednar).

    That’s less than half in law and business, by my count. Frankly, I’d be much more worried if a majority of GA’s came from CES ;)

  14. gapages.com has a useful list, and there’s an old post about who’s done what here.

  15. “in my experience this has been the case amongst local leadership as well. ”

    That really, really depends on where you live. We must have lived in very different places. My experience has been incredibly different. I think your observation is simply antecdotal.

  16. In general, those with talent will be drawn to careers that can earn high incomes.

    California Condor,
    What are you talking about? I think you meant to use the word “greed” instead of “talent”. In fact, I would suggest the opposite of what you say, those without any talents are drawn to careers that can earn high incomes because money is their only motivation. Those who have talents are usually drawn to careers in which they can grow their talent (and ideally make money from it).

  17. The present-day Elder Eyring is not the physicist. He does have an MBA, though.

    And despite his American Studies/humanities background, Holland was the head of CES for awhile.

    When you get down to it, it’s amazing how many of them have served in some sort of a educational administration or teaching capacity.

    There are actually VERY few who are hard-core “business people”.

    The thing is, you have to look at the generation from whence the leaders came.

    I know of bishops and stake presidents now who are computer programmers, illustrators, writers, engineers, and truck drivers. I don’t think many of those careers were popular amongst Church members 30-50 years ago. I think the leadership profile of the Church 20 years from now will look a lot like the general membership’s general profile today — once leaders from this generation (ages 25-50) begin to be called into the 70 and 12.

  18. And Natalie, I fully agree with your post, I would love to see a farmer or artist or plummer called as a GA. It would be fantastic to get the perspective of a blue-collar worker.

  19. Maybe it’s time to pull an Apostle out of the obscure ranks of the non-GA membership.

    Yes. After all, who hasn’t heard, at least once, the story of how an inspired Apostle shows up at a stake conference to select a new bishop or Stake President, reviews all of the existing “decent candidates” for the position, and ends up selecting some long-inactive member who rises to the challenge and becomes a fine, fine Priesthood holder and LDS leader as a result?

  20. I do think that we are totally dismissing the role one’s career plays in his or her development as a leader. Not that a professional video gamer couldn’t be a member of the seventy (in 30 years, when he’s a bit older), but don’t be dismissive of a humble business executive who has honed his talents in the business world and has figured out to better serve the Church with those talents.

    Our careers are not happening in a vacuum.

    (Disclaimer: I’m not a businessman, won’t ever be, and yet, I’m appreciative of their mad skillz.)

    We do have to recognize that, at the end of the day, there are certain skills required to lead a 12-million member organization located in hundreds of countries. The Lord is going to call someone who can not only assist with that management but has the requisite spiritual maturity and humility.

    On a personal note, I’m praying for an Apostle who speaks Spanish as a first language.

  21. California Condor says:

    Rusty, (15)

    It think there is some validity in what you say. I think that there are people of ability who choose careers that don’t have high salaries. But I think the general trend is that people with ability try to maximize the financial return they get from their ability. Money is a powerful incentive.

    There are of course, non-monetary incentives like work satisfaction and quality of life. But all things considered, the more money the better. Furthermore, most jobs are boring, so if you can get the grades to get into law school or medical school, why not get paid a lot of money while you are doing your boring job?

  22. Left Field says:

    Maybe it’s time to pull an Apostle out of the obscure ranks of the non-GA membership.

    Well, three of the current 12 came by that route, including the last one. So it wouldn’t exactly be breaking new ground.

    On the other hand, I think it’s been some 70 years since the last non-GA (J. Reuben Clark) was called into the First Presidency. Brother Clark was pretty much semi-active when he got the call.

  23. California Condor says:

    Well, three of the current 12 came by that route

    Which ones?

    Brother Clark was pretty much semi-active when he got the call.

    That sounds pretty interesting. Care to elaborate?

  24. Mark N. – I hope the Apostle is at least an active member of the church.

    queuno – good points. Spanish speaking, or anything else not white would be my choice. Then again, I’m glad the Lord’s pickin’, not me!

    CC – I completely agree with #20. I wish I was making more money in my boring job.

  25. Left Field says:


    Nelson, Oaks, and Bednar. Nelson was a practicing surgeon, though as I recall, he had been a general Sunday School President back in the day when non-GAs had that calling. Oaks was a state supreme court justice, and his ordination was delayed until he finished his term on the court. Bednar was a university president.

    Brother Clark was serving as US ambassador to Mexico at the time of his call. According to his biography, he attended the local branch only rarely, mostly due to the delicate relationship the Mexican government had with religion. When he did attend church, he was forbidden to speak, due to Mexican restrictions on foreign ministers.

  26. California Condor says:

    I’m pretty sure that Bednar was an Area Authority.

    Oaks had recently been BYU president, which is pretty much a GA calling.

    So Clark wasn’t really inactive at all… he lived in a part of the world where he couldn’t attend church often.

    You have sensationalized things a little…

  27. Ben,

    Your list is a bit misleading. President Hinckley has worked as an administrator since returning from his mission (studying journalism in college does not make him a professional journalist).

    Holland’s background is CES education and administration (teaching Institute does not make him an American Studies specialist). Oaks was a lawyer, judge, and law professor. Perry managed retail businesses. Ballard and Wirthlin ran or helped run businesses. Hales once served as a pilot, but his worldly career was all business management. Eyring was an professor—of business management—and a university administrator (his undergraduate education in physics does not make him a physicist). Monson was a business manager (publishing). Packer was a CES educator and administrator (and an artist!). Bednar was a business professor (organizational theory) and university administrator. Nelson is a physician. Scott is a nuclear Engineer. Uchtdorf is a pilot and was an executive at Lufthansa. Faust was a lawyer.

    Business or Business Education: 8

    Law: 2

    CES or Church Administration: 3

    Other: 2

  28. Left Field says:

    Wow, I had no idea that my comments were sensational. I pointed out a few facts about the current apostles, with an interesting bit of trivia thrown in at the end. I wasn’t going for sensational. Really.

    Bednar may have been an area authority, but of course, that’s different from a general authority. I think perhaps that’s why they’re called area authorities.

    Ernie Wilkinson was “pretty much” a general authority? You’re scaring me, man.

  29. Oaks wasn’t just a “judge” – he was a State Supreme Court justice at the time of his call.

    Hinckley pioneered Church publications — he wasn’t just a Church “administrator”. He wrote books, pamphlets, tracks, radio programs, etc. In fact, that was a big criticism he leveled at the Church hierarchy when he returned home — that was there was a paucity of official Church publications available for missionaries to use. He’s as close to a professional “writer” as we’ve had in the Church. He had also been accepted to the Columbia School of Journalism. While not a professional journalist, I think he has unique skills that, say, Packer wouldn’t have had on 60 Minutes and Larry King Live.

  30. He’s as close to a professional “writer” as we’ve had in the Church.

    I meant to say, in the Quorum of the 12 or the First Presidency.

  31. Re Packer – he is apparently an painter and sculptor of some note.


    (Scroll down to Boyd K. Packer: The Lifework of an Amateur Artist)

    [It could be argued that he only got a show because of his stature in the 12. Still, he is NOT without some measure of artistic talent and temperament.]

  32. We now have a European convert in the Q12, so I also would love to see a native South or Central American apostle called – or Elder Kikuchi, since I have a vested interest in Japan and absolutely love that man. I couldn’t care less about his professional background; I truly don’t give a large mouse-like creature’s hind quarters. I just want someone as kind and gentle and humble as Pres. Faust. I will miss that smile and that voice and that incredibly gentle spirit.

  33. California Condor says:

    Bednar was an Area Authority at the same time he was president of BYU-Idaho… those are some pretty heady credentials. So it’s not like he was plucked out of the rank-and-file.

  34. Elder Haight owned a hardware store before he was mayor of Palo Alto–and then an apostle.

  35. Queuno,

    State Supreme Court justices are just judges and lawyers. In some states, justices must run for office, which makes them politicians. There is no shame in being “just a judge.” And there is no need to pretend that State Supreme Court justices are the best lawyers.

    President Hinckley’s only significant employer is the Church. He may have been a good administrator and executive secretary–and done much to advance the professional image of the Church. There is no shame in his career, but he was a public relations manager and not a professional writer.

  36. Nick Literski says:

    Here’s an idea. Since the other 14 apostles want everyone to believe that really faithful LDS can “overcome” homosexuality, maybe they should find a “formerly gay” apostle, who can get up and say that deity “cured” him. Just think what an inspiration that would be to all the closeted gay LDS!

  37. #26 — Thank you, Greg B for helping reveal additional corporateness in the quorum. The GAs do need some skills commonly found in the corporate world. However, people from that background have definite blind spots that ought to be rounded out in order to understand, live, and spread the gospel to the whole world. I think any of the following could bring healthy perspective to the higher quorums of the church: a poet, a humanities scholar, a stay-at-home dad, any non-Westerner or non-white. And I would be thrilled if the church applied my tithing money toward a living stipend for these people who might otherwise be overlooked because they are not independently wealthy (see comment #7).

  38. An equally strange and narrow concept of leadership is at work in the Mormon outmigration project discussed by G. Wesley Johnson and Marian Ashby Johnson in the most recent issue of BYU Studies. That project focuses intensively on Mormons who migrated from Utah to other parts of the U.S. and became wealthy. Why would wealth be a meaningful criterion in studying the roles of outmigrants in establishing Mormonism outside the Mountain west — let alone in contributing to the broader society? But such an attitude seems fairly common in my experience.

  39. It seems to me that part of the reason it’s hard to think about what makes a good leader is that we haven’t done a good job of teasing out which functions of leadership are managerial and which are pastoral. I think maybe this distinction is made better at the general level than at the ward and stake level, which is perhaps why there are more former business types among the 70. It may be that it doesn’t matter too much to consciously make the distinctions, that the normal mix of people and the usual turnover in leadership results in a generally balanced leadership, but, as Natalie points out, it doesn’t feel that way in lots of places. I suspect we’d also have an easier time thinking about how women can lead and contribute in the church if we thought about these distinctions–some women are skilled administrators, others skillful ministers, but because we don’t distinguish between those functions, we tend to open far more opportunities for nurturing and pastoral care to women, and more administrative jobs to men, without regard for the fit of individual talents to particular callings.

  40. Brad Kramer says:

    Elder Wood was, I think, a professor. I think he’d make a phenomenal apostle. Then again, so would Bushman or Givens–and I think it’s relatively clear that that’s wishful thinking.

  41. Greg, the list is only misleading because you misread it. My parenthesis indicate what someone studied. I didn’t say Hinckley was a journalist, I said journalism. Ditto for Eyring.

    Holland got an MA and PhD at Yale in American Studies. Forgive me if I think that means he knows a little about it.

    Are we after what people studied and received training in?

    Or are we just saying that those who end up in Church management positions have often served in managerialadministrative capacities elsewhere, whether as an educator, car dealership owner, scientist, doctor, etc.?

    If the latter, I don’t find that problematic at all.

  42. Left Field says:

    If we’re making nominations for GAs to be promoted, I’ll have to mention Marlin Jensen.

    One point that I was skirting around in my first comment is that it’s possible that no new apostle will be called. They could call a high priest or seventy to serve in the First Presidency, and leave the Quorum of the Twelve as it is. That’s not too likely, but there have been a few counselors serve in the First Presidency as high priests–most recently J. Reuben Clark and Thorpe B. Isaacson.

  43. Or are we just saying that those who end up in Church management positions have often served in managerial/administrative capacities elsewhere…

    Funny. I thought they were church leadership positions, not management positions. I mean, they’re apostles, not undersecretaries, right? But now we’re back to the original post — and what Hugh Nibley famously saw as the narrow and toxic conceptual schema that conflates leadership and management.

    Left Field, also Alvin R. Dyer. Such an anomaly seems quite unlikely right now, though. Dyer and Isaacson were called because McKay distrusted his first two councilors (see Gary Bergera’s article in the most recent Journal of Mormon History), and Clark was called to help distance the church from post-manifesto polygamy. Since I don’t think we have a comparable situation, I’d expect the more common move of calling someone from inside the current body of apostles.

  44. Joshua A. says:

    Let’s not forget that being a leader is more than just thinking interesting (and sometimes good) thoughts…It’s also getting things done. I like artists, humanities folks, etc., but can they effectively move the people and things necessary in a major organization? The ones that can have already shown it–e.g. Elders Holland and Packer were not just educators, but also administrators; Elders Uchtdorf and Hales (and Packer, I believe) weren’t just stick monkeys, but also executives. I don’t think that they ended up in those positions of leadership coincidentally–they had, gained, and further developed the very definite skill set that makes for effective leadership.

  45. JNS, Sorry to nit-pick, but I assume you mean from inside the current body of General Authorities, since there is no body of “apostles” from which to call the new apostle.

  46. Ben, how could I misread something that you did not write? I merely meant to highlight for others that studying a topic in college does not make a career or trump a corporate mindset. I don’t think a half of life of training or experience in business or law or Church administration is a problem for GAs; though I would appreciate more variety.

    I accept your correction. I did not realize that Holland took is graduate studies in American Studies. I’d split his background between CES and Other.

  47. Left Field says:

    Yes, Dyer also served without ever being a member the Twelve. I didn’t mention him as being a high priest in the First Presidency because he was ordained to the priesthood office of apostle, although not as a member of the Twelve.

    I agree that moving someone from the Twelve in to the First Presidency is by far most likely. On the other hand, in the (very) unlikely event that someone like Bushman or even Jensen were called as second counselor, we could point to some recent circumstances that could be considered comparable to those you mentioned.

  48. JNS,

    You piqued my interest. Do you care to speculate why wealth is a key criterion for studying the roles of migrants in establishing Mormonism outside the Mountain west? Do you think this focus is a legacy of our New England roots or something more recent?

  49. Elder Kikuchi (our next apostle, hehe) was a food distributor.

  50. I’m also very curious who will be the next counselor. I could see Oaks, Holland, Perry, or even Ballard as all formidable ‘contenders’. But, maybe Packer is due a turn. Then again, what do I really know??–zilch.

  51. There is no shame in his career, but he was a public relations manager and not a professional writer.

    Define a professional writer. Someone who writes books? Someone who develops tracts and pamphlets? I think you’re vastly underestimating the work Hinckley did.

    And I’m sorry – a state supreme court justice is no mere “judge”, particularly in Utah, where they are not directly elected. Oaks was also a dean of a prominent law school dean. I have a family member who is a judge, and his level is no where near Oaks’.

    You want to mimimize their experiences, that’s fine. But then you’re also reduced to calling Nelson “a doctor” and Scott “some scientist”.

  52. Queuno,

    You need not apologize. I do not want to minimize the pre-GA work of President Hinckley and Elder Oaks. They both had honorable careers.

    However, I wonder why you are so quick to dismiss the worth of public relations work? What is wrong with serving as a good administrator? I’ve never heard President Hinckley nor anyone other than you refer to his writing “career.”

    Why are you so enamored by state supreme court judges? What made Oaks’ appointment so special? What makes justices in Utah so interesting? It seems to me he was smart, savvy, and well-connected–and in the right place at the right time. Good for him. The original point of my entry was to suggest that his background was in law and administration. I’m not sure how your ranking of lawyering qualities alters that point.

    It is with great regret that we are reduced to acknowledge that Nelson is a doctor and that Scott is an engineer.

  53. Renato Marini says:

    I have also checked the professional background of our leaders, but only as a curiosity. I don’t think any apostole was called because of his professional background. I think what matters is the type of person they are inside. Statistics then can give curious messages, but of no real value. In Italy many of our political leaders have poor family situations (divorced, two “wives”, even gay or trans-gender); does this means that to be a politician in Italy one should have a poor family situation?

  54. Joshua A. says:

    No, but it very much could mean that politicians in Italy in general share personality traits that are not conducive to stable family life. It could also mean that there’s just something about being a politician that drives a person into an unstable family life. Statistics could be used, then, to support a soundly-formulated theory.

  55. More love for Marlin Jensen from here. He was phenomenal in the PBS Doc. Also,in the Thurgood Marshal –> Clarence Thomas tradition it only seems fair to have an LDS Democrat to replace an LDS Democrat ;-)

  56. Ray #44, I meant someone from the current body of apostles to serve in the First Presidency — obviously the new apostle will come from outside that group. Left Field’s speculation was that the new First Presidency member might come from outside the body of apostles.

    Left Field #46, what would those recent circumstances be? Obviously, there’s nothing comparable to post-manifesto polygamy. And by all reports Hinckley, unlike McKay, gets along well with his colleagues.

    Greg #47, I have no idea. My guess is that what’s going on has the same underlying motives as the fact that I’ve never in my life had a poor or working-class stake president. But since I don’t understand the motives for that, either, I’m at a loss. Perhaps “leadership” is defined as equivalent to “economic success”? Dominance in the marketplace is seen as a sign of God’s approval? Or, in some way, experience in the coercive world of the economy is seen as preparatory to work in the noncoercive world of the kingdom? I can’t get my mind around any of these accounts, all of which seem to me to involve deep contradictions. But there must be some reason.

  57. A lot of this discussion has focused on the 12, but I think that if one looks more at the 70, there’s a much stronger focus on Law / Business (and to a lesser extent, CES).

    Presidency of 70:

    Law – 2
    Business (Split between MBA types and those who got into management careers through other routes in this survey. A few also owned their company) – 3
    Other – 1
    Unavailale – 1

    1st Q. of Seventy

    Law – 11
    Business – 21
    Other- 5
    Unavailable – 1

    2nd Q. of Seventy

    Law – 7
    Business – 11
    CES – 2
    Other – 8

    Interestingly, the majority of foreign leaders came in through CES. There is not a scientist as far as I can tell. People in other professions were mostly military and medical. There were some farmers. There are no artists and fairly few government officials.

    Note: This survey looks at people’s primary professions, not their other pursuits.

  58. I don’t think Bushman will or should be called. First, he is too old and, second, because he is not an official spokesman for the church, he has a lot of influence with the media and non-Mormons that he would lose as an apostle. We need him where he is.

  59. Left Field says:

    JNS, I said the circumstances might be comparable, not identical. The current issues facing the church have to do with history and how we approach it, how we respond to criticism, and other similar issues. Things that we discuss in forums like this, at Sunstone, and that were addressed in the PBS documentary. The church has already made some adjustments in approaching such things.

    In the unlikely event that Bushman, Jensen, or Nelson-Seawright were to be called into the First Presidency, or even into the Twelve, It would be hard for me to see that as anything but a major adjustment in the church’s approach to our current pressing issues.

    The current challenges might not be quite the same magnitude as post-manefesto polygamy (although actually post-manefesto polygamy is one of the challenges), but they certainly seem at least as notable as personality conflicts in the First Presidency.

  60. What’s really interesting is the number of lawyers. Googling a little, there’s between 750K – 1 million lawyers in the US. There are about 230 million adults in the US So less than 0.5% of adults are lawyers. But at 20/82 = about 25% of the general authority 70’s are lawyers! That’s 50 times more than in the general population!

    It’s hard to know if business people are overrepresented, since most people are employed in business in some way or another. Though I couldn’t find any numbers on MBA’s in the US (well, not in 30 seconds) I suspect they are overrepresented.

    I suppose it goes without saying that the percentage of GA’s with careers in Church Education is larger than it is in the general U.S. population . . .

  61. Chris Laurence says:

    Apparently the Lord trusts President Hinckley’s judgment, he having been a part of the selection process of apostles as far back as Elder Nelson and Elder Oaks, perhaps further.

  62. I hope they call a white-anglo republican native Utah’n with an MBA–you know, just to shake things up a bit.

    Oh yeah, and I hope she looks a lot like Sheri Dew.

  63. Left Field, I agree completely that if someone like those you mention were called as the new First Presidency councilor, that would represent a major adjustment in the church. But I don’t think the church or its highest leadership show signs of thinking that the church needs adjustment at all. It seems to me that the history challenge now appears to them to be much more under their control than it was during the 1980s and early 1990s, after all, and the hierarchy seems to feel comfortable with its gradually developing PR strategy, its adjustments regarding inactivity, and so forth. So I just don’t see the evidence that the church leadership feels any sense of crisis right now.

    From our perspective, perceptions of disloyalty among the First Presidency may not seem terribly important. From the perspective of the top leadership of the church, though, where unanimity and obedience are central themes, such perceptions seem to be treated far more seriously. McKay certainly took those perceptions seriously; his suspicions are the basis for two of the three 20th-century instances when the hierarchy was violated and someone outside the FP/QoA was called into the First Presidency. Of the many other challenges the church has faced, the only other one that produced a similar response was when there was a multi-year congressional investigation into probable law-breaking by the highest church leadership.

  64. Sam Kitterman says:

    As a trial attorney who has practiced law for some 24 years (4 as a naval judge advocate, the rest mostly in practice practice involving civil litigation), I can only say that those GAs who come from law backgrounds clearly are blessed in their management skills in their church related callings and responsibilities.
    Given my experiences with lawyers as office managers, it can’t be otherwise. Unfortunately I have come to learn most lawyers make terrible managers……
    And given my background I also see no difference between a “judge” and a state supreme court justice especially where they are elected. They too often have great political skills but their skills as a jurist are otherwise…..

  65. A breath of fresh air might someday include details of a revelation that found the Lord directing the choice of someone that had not made the proverbial short-list; some obscure person in a small Texas town who had simply been a faithful home teacher and tithe payer most of his life.

    We are all willing to jump on the “Whom the Lord calls the Lord qualifies” bandwagon but let’s be honest, there hasn’t been anyone chosen in a very long time, who wasn’t already proven “qualified” from a money, leadership ability, education, and stable family structure basis. Does this mean that a few chinks in the armor disqualify someone for the Apostleship? Fishermen, tax collectors, physicians seemed to be just fine the first time around. None of us will live long enough to see a common man added to the brotherhood.

    This leaves us with several choices as conclusions; the Lord wants no common men called, the search is not broad enough or miracles such as revelations concerning such matters are not necessary today.

  66. or that the Lord takes common men and makes them into men who can become apostles. “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” can apply to PRE-apostolic preparations just as well as it can to apostolic callings. If you define “common man” as “poor, uneducated, manual laborer” (like my WONDERFUL father), I might concede your point; if you define it how I would define it (“a good, humble man regardless of birth circumstances”), I disagree completely. With that definition, I think MANY of our apostles are common men. Pres. Faust certainly was, as is Pres. Hinckley – just to name two obvious ones.

  67. JNS #55: “Perhaps “leadership” is defined as equivalent to “economic success”? Dominance in the marketplace is seen as a sign of God’s approval? Or, in some way, experience in the coercive world of the economy is seen as preparatory to work in the noncoercive world of the kingdom? I can’t get my mind around any of these accounts, all of which seem to me to involve deep contradictions. But there must be some reason.”

    I would suggest thinking in terms of “people skills” and intelligence. Those with people skills and intelligence tend to do well in the market place and also tend to do well in leadership roles where it’s important to make intelligent organizational decisions, work well with other people, and gain the confidence of a diverse group of church members. This correlation would seem to explain well the phenomena you describe without involving “deep contradictions.”

  68. Ray (#65)

    Which men, common or otherwise, who are doing their best to be Christ-like, would not qualify to “become” as you say, Apostles?

    Doesn’t it ever strike you as possibly a bit too convenient, how many Apostles and other GA’s have Utah roots in addition to their business status? It seems to disqualify a very large portion of the population of potential candidates. But perhaps with the choice of Mathias to take Iscariot’s place, you just simply go with who you know the best and who garners the most (or all) the inspired votes.

    I still think we miss out whenever we allow ourselves to be related to cows, electricity, or water; those things that always take the path of least resistance. It’s why I agree with Natalie’s post to “allow” for inspiration outside the box.

  69. Meanwhile Ray, I don’t know your father, but would have loved to have had the chance to support someone such as him in a Church position. There seems to be an understanding of Christ that comes from humility and suffering.

    We are of course taught that “Christ…….learned obedience by the things which He suffered. We mostly say that we want people to apply the atonement in their lives after having made mistakes. But we rarely trust them nor does their name surface very often when leadership positions in the Church need to be filled. I’m simply saying, who do we miss out on when we keep going back to the same “perfect” wealthy, well-connected pool, time after time.

  70. Pemble,

    From my own experience seeking inspiration as to the Lord’s will in filling callings, I doubt very much that ANY member who has not been a bishop or Stake President, at least, will ever be called to be an apostle. I could be wrong, since I will never be in the position to be seeking that inspiration, but let me share a personal example as to why I feel this way.

    First, however, a foundation statement: There is a difference between being an apostle in a fledgling church and a global church. I have no problem with that difference.

    Some years ago, I was praying about whom I should recommend to fill a Ward Mission Leader vacancy in a ward where I knew almost no members well. I felt very strongly about the man to whom I should extend the calling, but I was told that he was inactive – completely inactive for some time. I continued to pray about it, and I kept getting the same answer, so I was given a green light to extend the call. When I did so, this brother, whom I am convinced was the one the Lord wanted in that calling, turned it down – even though I explained the inspiration behind the extension of the calling.

    I am not saying that this man might have become an apostle some day if he had accepted the call to be a Ward Mission Leader, but I have no doubt that, given his age at the time, he would have ended up as a Bishop some day – and probably at least a Stake President.

    Here’s the point I am making: I don’t think there’s a hill-of-beans difference spiritually between our apostles and my father, but I also believe it would be a HUGE stretch to call my father as an apostle. He simply doesn’t have the experience that is required to be an apostle in our modern church. We can bemoan the difference between being called as an apostle in a fledgling church and a multi-million member, global church, or we can accept that difference and be grateful that we have leaders who are both experienced professionals AND deeply spiritual men.

    Finally, when the Church practiced polygamy (and for the next few generations), it made perfect sense for the leadership to come from dedicated polygamous families. When the Church was predominantly Utahn and white, it made perfect sense for the apostles to reflect that. Now that the Church is 50% non-American, it makes perfect sense for the leadership to begin to reflect that – which Elder Uchdorf’s call did. There are multiple hundreds of people, at least, who are “qualified” – in every way – to be an apostle, and I have no problem whatsoever with choosing someone who has proven his dedication through progressive administrative service. When I look at the exceptions that have occurred in the last few decades, I think that pattern is sound.

    “Outside the box” is one thing, but I believe “expanding the box” fits the Church better. I see that happening, and I hope it continues.

  71. Those with people skills and intelligence tend to do well in the market place and also tend to do well in leadership roles where it’s important to make intelligent organizational decisions, work well with other people, and gain the confidence of a diverse group of church members.

    I think there are a lot of places to find good people skills and high levels of intelligence other than among Fortune 500 types, though, Robert. People who operate small businesses, successful public school teachers, dynamic community leaders, people who run powerful and transformative NGOs, and so forth are often as intelligent and as skilled in social terms as people who make a lot of money. (And there are people who succeed at the highest levels in the market who are simply brutal in terms of interpersonal relations — the Donald Trump types.) Because operational definitions of leadership that emphasize financial success overlook most of the kinds of leaders I just listed, the deep contradictions persist — indeed, they aren’t even ameliorated by the suggestion to consider people skills and intelligence. Most people who have high levels of both aren’t rich.

  72. Pemble, # 67,

    Doesn’t it ever strike you as possibly a bit too convenient, how many Apostles and other GA’s have Utah roots in addition to their business status?

    I think you have the facts wrong, Pemble, at least the Utah-centric part. At least 5 of the 12 were born and lived their entire lives outside of Utah until they were called to be general authorities. I find a lot of merit in Natalie’s argument, but we need to give credit where it is due. Elders Hales, Eyring, and Scott grew up on the Eastern seaboard. If a geographic area is overrepresented in the quorum right now, it is the Eastern U.S.

  73. JNS #70, I totally agree. If you’re saying it’s odious to equate economic success with religious leadership skills, I’m in agreement. My point is simply that I think there are good, or at least plausible, reasons to think the two are correlated. Also, I guess I’m thinking about “financial success” in much more modest terms (I haven’t looked at the BYU Studies article…), that is, middle class or above (which I think would include the leader types you mentioned), which would be enough to yield an empirical correlation between financial success and leadership skills.

  74. Left Field says:

    JNS, I think we’re really not that far apart on this, but it’s a lot easier to identify reasons for a particular action after the fact, than to predict the action in advance. I suspect that in 1932 or 1964, nobody on the outside, at least, would have predicted that there were circumstances that would lead to calling a non-apostle into the FP. If next week at this time, we were to find an unexpected person in the FP, we’d be able to look back then and identify some circumstance that led to it.

    Although it’s fairly uncommon, I don’t know that a non-apostle in the FP is something so absolutely astonishing that it could only happen under the most amazing and unusual circumstances. Consulting my handy church almanac, I see that of the 19 counselors called in the 20th century, five had never been in the Twelve at the time of their call. That’s more than a quarter of the total. John R. Winder was second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric when he was called in 1901 to be second counselor to JFS. Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley was sustained in 1925 as second counselor to HJG. Neither one ever became an apostle; both brethren served in the FP as high priests until they died.

    Of course, JRC was the only person in the 20th century to go directly into the First Presidency without ever having been a general authority. Brother Clark wasn’t exactly a nobody in the church, but it is interesting to me (if not to our large vulture friend) that President Grant chose a counselor who at the time had no church calling and was attending only rarely.

    None of this is to suggest that I expect or predict such a thing to happen now, but I do think that the probability is something > 0.

  75. My last comment notwithstanding, I can’t argue with Left Field’s last sentence.

  76. Left Field, I have to agree that the probability is greater than zero. But most observers, and also participants, agree that the 15 apostles have had much closer and less conflictual relationships since the Kimball presidency than they did through the first part of the 20th century. That less conflictual relationship, and Hinckley’s especially collegial leadership style, are the reasons that I’d say the probability is nearly zero, although not exactly zero.

    You’re right about the possibility of post hoc explanations — and there may of course be secret problems we don’t know.

    A very different question I’d ask is this: why are Mormons so often excited by the prospect of very minor deviations from expectations?

  77. Kevin Barney says:

    Most stakes in this church have at least one person who would make a fine GA or Apostle. The people who get called tend to come from the limited universe of people known by the Apostles, which means they tend to be old white guys who live in Utah. I honestly don’t care very much about profession, but I would really love to see an hispanic apostle some time in the near future (given the huge representation of hispanics among LDS, I think it makes sense to make at least a little bit of effort towards this direction instead of everyone just nominating their buddies like they usually do). Elder Uchtdorf was a start; let’s take that basic idea and replicate it. The Utah leadership is too inbred; let’s spice things up a bit. (I remember when it was a total shock that SWK was called, because he was–gasp–from Thatcher, AZ. Oh, the humanity!)

  78. mondo cool says:

    I find this whole thread interesting in that it is almost a completely unchallenged assumption that if “business types” are called as church leaders, that somehow the church is missing something.

    …the fact for a moment that retaining one model of success and leadership limits our potential to be a dynamic church and poses serious barriers to information flowing up the ladder…

    How has that been established a “fact?” What is the church lacking? What’s the evidence for it – beyond anecdotal recountings?

    Another assumption: even if the “business types” predominate, are they so constricted in their personas as to only offer a narrow spectrum of guidance as church leaders? I can think of every type of businessman, lawyer, doctor, etc. who all have different experiences, talents, motivations, and church hobbies. I know plenty of businessmen who are democrats, artists, woodworkers, farmers, or whatever. Who is doing the stereotyping here?

  79. Kevin (#76)


  80. Has anyone really thought about what a “Hispanic” apostle might mean?

    Hispanic culture is even more ultra-conservative and chauvinistic, in its own way, than Utah. Do you really want to interject that into the Quorum of the Twelve?

    I’m not saying I’m opposed, but I think that too many of you are goobering over multiculturalism without really thinking through what it would actually mean for the Church.

  81. Seth R.

    Hispanic culture is even more ultra-conservative and chauvinistic

    Thanks for proving that Racism isn’t dead…

  82. Seth R., there are people from Latin America with every possible outlook, as Matt W. suggests. There are certainly ultra-conservative Latin Americans, such as Pinochet’s lingering supporters in Chile. But there are also relatively large numbers of people in the region who vote for socialist or communist parties — and that latter category includes faithful Latter-day Saints. So an apostle from Latin America could mean introducing an individual who actively distrusts the poor. It could also mean introducing an individual who would dramatically heighten the church’s attentiveness to the evils of class and economic inequality, and it could also mean anything in between. Regarding chauvinism, it is certainly true that some strands of Latin American cultures are sexist or racist; nobody with serious experience in the region would deny that. But there are also much more feminist and anti-racist cultural strands in the region. We just can’t generalize. And since we’re talking about choosing one individual, we can’t assume that any particular regional sterotype will in fact be represented; it’s always possible to choose an individual from a very large group with virtually any traits you can think of.

  83. And since we’re talking about choosing one individual, we can’t assume that any particular regional sterotype will in fact be represented; it’s always possible to choose an individual from a very large group with virtually any traits you can think of.

    Yeah, who knows–maybe our next apostle will be a white, English-speaking Mexican with an MBA. ;-)


  84. But seriously–

    As long as certain people continue to warn against choosing another American apostle based on broad generalizations about American culture, I see no reason why warnings about choosing a Hispanic apostle based on broad generalizations about Hispanic culture can’t be equally valid.

  85. “Thanks for proving that Racism isn’t dead…”

    Matt, the proper term is “cultural chauvinism,” not “racism.”

    Get it right.

    And my only real point was that several commenters here seem to be thoughtlessly gushing about multiculturalism without really establishing whether it’s even or benefit, or what its very real drawbacks would be.

  86. Seth, are there very real drawbacks? Do they compare with the drawbacks of a church that will soon be mostly located in the Third World but whose top leadership is all drawn from the First World?

    Jim, one needn’t make broad generalizations at all to worry about another American apostle. It’s a matter of identification. When Latin American, African, and Asian Saints look at our top leadership, they just don’t see anyone who looks like them. That means that those Saints face a more serious barrier to identification with the church than do white Anglos. Which just isn’t fair, regardless of the personal values and traits of any particular Anglo or Third World potential leader.

  87. Northerner says:

    “The Utah leadership is too inbred; let’s spice things up a bit.”

    Amen. I sometimes toy around with thinking how devoted Utahns would feel if the tables were turned and they belonged to a church whose apostles were all Mexicans with HQ in Mexico, for example (with the attendant Mexicanization of the church, of course). It’s all nice and dandy to speak of a worldwide church, but truly making it one is the real test.

  88. Joshua A. says:

    So wait a second…Seawright, you think that a) a person faces a barrier to identifying with the church if they don’t see someone who “looks like them,” and b) that this “just isn’t fair?” Do you have any evidence at all of this, even anecdotal? Especially after your statement that you cannot make broad generalizations about individuals based on their background (with which I entirely agree)?

    I don’t see anyone anywhere in the church leadership who “looks like me,” has my cultural background, a last name similar to mine, etc… Personally, anecdotally, I don’t find that to be a problem with identifying with the church–my problems identifying with the church come because few other people seem to think like me.

    Furthermore, who knows…maybe, just MAYBE, God knows what he’s doing. Maybe having mostly whitebread leadership is an advantage. How would the Greek member feel about the Turkish apostle? The Koreans about a Japanese apostle? There are places in this world where “racism” is much more real than the petty squabbles that we have in the United States. On top of that, if, for instance, a Brazilian were called to be the Latino representative, would all of Latin America rush to claim him as their own? Why would the Mexicans and Argentineans not feel slighted? At least the white Americans are fairly neutral, thereby allowing members to focus on the message rather than the messenger.

  89. Northerner says:

    “At least the white Americans are fairly neutral”

    They are not, at least outside of the U.S.

  90. I’m confident at the appropriate time God will choose the right person to fill the vacant position.

    It’s interesting that Jesus chose Judas to be one of his apostles. Someone might fault him for making a mistake …

    No doubt there are criteria and purposes involved in the decision-making process that would never occur to us.

    One of my favorite things about the choices of Bednar and Uchtdorf is that as far as I know, no one, outside of the church leadership accurately predicted those choices.

  91. Since the wheels of the GA machine turn very slowly, we have to figure that introducing multicultural apostles will take another 100 years and be very slow and unbalanced for quite a long time, and since there are only 12, they will NEVER represent the hundreds of nationalities and ethnicities. Never. 12 Tribes, possibly.

    Next, amen to #41 Left Field!!! Hip Hip Hooray! BTW, what does he do? And I whole-heartedly agree with Chad# 51– we need a little blue donkey in there!

    Also, Bednar is 99.99999% business administrator and .00000001% educator. Regretibly, the trend in higher education is the businessification of academics. Bednar is an TQM business administrator first and foremost. He doesn’t earn his money as a classroom professor and rarely has. Just because he keeps the books for Educators, doesn’t make him one!

    p.s. I know he’s taught *briefly* in Schools of Business, but . . . again, he’s much more of a business man and administrator.

    Also, ‘Whom the Lord calls he qualifies” and we need to let go of our perceptions of qualification and success as prereqs for the job. The apostles don’t sail the financial ship, or even the PR ship themselves. They have whole departments to advise and “do”. We need a spiritual person first and foremost.

  92. Joshua A. says:

    Northerner, please elaborate. While I am aware, of course, of a generally increasing hostility towards the U.S., I find it hard to believe that it would overtake some of the regional grudges that exist (such as the ones I mentioned in my post).

  93. JNS–

    It seems like there are two conflicting claims.

    First, there’s the claim that apostles should be drawn from the ranks of other cultures, so that church members of those cultures will feel “represented” (for lack of a better word).

    Then, you claim that where certain troublesome attitudes or beliefs tend to permeate a culture, this can be mitigated by choosing an apostle from that culture who does not hold to those beliefs.

    But in doing that, you run the risk that many from the culture from which that apostle was drawn will effectively “disown” that apostle for abandoning what they perceive to be core cultural beliefs.

    I doubt a Hispanic apostle who was in favor of granting women a truly equal role in the domestic sphere, or in favor of greater social toleration of homosexuals, would get much more loyalty from Hispanic church members than Boyd K. Packer currently gets from the bloggosphere.

  94. Jim and Joshua A., are you serious? There’s vast amounts of evidence that people care about ethnic identity in ways that they don’t care about ideology or region. The scholarly literature is huge — too much to summarize here. But it’s also a bit redundant, since there are millions of really obvious examples. What about Larry Bird, who was an object of identification for millions of white people (as a “great white hope”) because he was at the top of his profession and was the same race as them? Milli Vanilli or Eminem (although obviously quite different in talent levels) illustrate the same phenomenon. There are so many examples — and so many systematic studies — of how strong racial and ethnic identities are compared with other identities that I can’t really imagine the shape of your arguments.

  95. So, the mostly US-based Sunstone crowd would like Elder Packer more if he were the only native-English speaker in the Quorum of the 12? They would treat him with a significantly higher degree of deference and respect?

  96. I hope they call Mitt Romney. He’s very popular here in Argentina. (just kidding…)

  97. California Condor says:

    J. Nelson-Seawright,

    Wow, Milli Vanilli. That’s old-school.

  98. I’m sorry President Faust passing did not trigger a discussion on this giant’s exemplary life.

  99. Yeah that’s got to be a first: Milli-Vanilli cited as an example in a discussion about the identity of the next apostle. The signs of the apocalypse just keep coming…

  100. Joshua A. says:

    JNS, I gotta tell ya…After your last post I’m beginning to seriously doubt your capacity for quality thought. I can only think that your work in political science (according to your bio) has blinded you to the obvious–we’re talking about a CHURCH here. What’s more, we’re talking about a church that very heavily emphasizes equality of its members before God and the egalitarian nature of church service (i.e. that neither are any callings are more important than others, nor that serving in any particular calling makes one person more important than another). As far as literature about ethnic identity, I was wondering if you had any evidence about that in a religious context. Do Korean Pentacostals feud with Americans? I have a pretty strong example to the contrary, in fact–isn’t a conservative faction of U.S. Episcopalians trying to place itself under the leadership of Africans, finding the beliefs and teachings of the African leaders to be more in line with their own? Sounds to me like theology trumps all there. People don’t join the church to express a political or ethnic identity–indeed, in many cases they explicitly (and deliberately) renounce that identity in order to do so. In short, they want to leave the political garbage behind. Is it entirely absent in the LDS church? Of course not. But it’s also not overt. You would change that? You would partition the church into various regional and ethnic factions, each vying for “influence?” What’s more, you presume to come along and tell the “non-white” members of the church how underrepresented they are? I’ve lived in several different countries for extended periods of time and NEVER heard anyone express any kind of dissatisfaction with the composition of the leaders of the church. A little frustration with an American mission president struggling to grasp a new cultural situation, perhaps, but even such feelings have been couched in the most gracious and forgiving terms. And you would “liberate” people from their “ignorance” of actually believing that all are equal in God’s sight.

    On top of that, you didn’t even address my chief criticism of your vapid, rubber-stamp leftist viewpoint. So if a Japanese is called as an apostle, that’s going to help Koreans identify better with the church (as one of many possible examples)? Or maybe “they” all just look alike to you.

  101. Steve Evans says:

    Joshua A., please restrain yourself a little.

  102. What’s the matter Steve, jealous that Natalie got the real “Friday Firestorm”?

  103. This morning in Gospel Doctrine class we read through the tenth chapter of Acts; a passage of scripture that I think is worth applying in the course of this discussion. To briefly sum up, Cornelius, a righteous Italian is visited by an angel and told to meet the righteous Jewish apostle Peter (vs. 1-8). The next day, Peter sees a vision while praying wherein the Lord says “What God has cleansed that call not thou common.” (Vs. 9-16). Peter is not sure what this means until he and Cornelius actually meet. After Cornelius tells him his story,”…Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fearest him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”
    So God will call who he will call to replace President Faust. It doesn’t matter what color he is or what country he comes from or what language he speaks. The gift of God given authority to lead the church and for us as its members is the man, not how he is packaged. I’m sure who God will call has been prepared throughout his life, given challenges and trials to overcome, has been blessed and strengthened for this calling; and if I have any doubts, I can go to the Lord in prayer to gain personal confirmation of his choice. Isn’t this one of the things that makes this church so great?
    BTW Mr Seawright, not to find fault, but as one who grew up in Boston as a rabid Celtics fan in the Larry Bird era, neither I or anyone I knew thought of him as “The Great White Hope,” just a great player and a great leader. I’m not completely sure if the Milli Vanilli duo were white, and Eminem is just an embarrassment to any race.
    #97-Gaucho, go to timesandseasons.org for a great discussion blog on Pres Faust

  104. Joshua A., religion isn’t really that different from any other human pursuit. Or if it is, why are black and white churches in the US still mostly segregated even today? I’m not going to respond to the details of your personal attack, but I think you ought to think about this a little bit. Race really does matter, especially for the racially excluded.

    giotto, the racist slogan about Larry Bird doesn’t necessarily come from every fan, but it certainly did come from some. Try googling it and his name.

  105. “Eminem is just an embarrassment to any race.”

    giotto, That just might be the truest statement ever made in the Bloggernacle.

  106. mondo cool says:

    Giotto (#102):

    Thank you. That’s the main thing. I trust that the Lord will call whom He desires.

    The sentiment oozing to the surface here seems to be: “A white business man is inherently deficient as a proper spokeperson for the Lord in this world-wide church. And, if it wasn’t for this white, ‘self-perpetuating gerontocracy’ (a term Kenneth Woodward once used to describe our process for selecting new apostles), we might get the diversity we so badly need.”

    If necessary, I’ll admit to being naive for believing the Lord looks upon the heart in making the selection of His chosen.

  107. Hey JNS, looks like we’re both wrong. The real Great White Hope turns out to be Danny Ainge! Especially after this incident:


    Scroll down to: “First Player Suspended for Biting Another Player”

  108. I like Eminem.

  109. Steve Evans says:

    Eminem’s OK, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Slim Shady.

  110. For the record, Milli Vanilli were not white, unless they faked their race along with their singing.

  111. Joshua A. says:

    Once again, JNS, you disappoint me. Help me out here–give me anything, anything. I’m literally pleading with you here. Maybe you were a missionary in Guatemala and repeatedly heard people express dissatisfaction with the composition of the church’s leadership? I, on the other hand, have given it lots of thought…In fact, I went further and got on the phone last night with several family members and friends around the world and asked them how they felt about this very question. In my decidedly unscientific survey, not a single one expressed any concerns about the nationality, skin tone, or facial features of any of the church leadership. My theory behind this: I repeat, people join the church wanting to believe–and in fact believing–that a) God Himself issues callings (all callings, not just the “important” ones), and b) that God directs those whom He has called as they carry out His work. If you believe that you have reached a state of enlightenment that has allowed you to no longer accept the above, then that’s certainly your prerogative–but I’d wager to say that most of us are completely happy to look at whatever faces appear on the screen at General Conference, as long as they speak God’s word. These beliefs together allow us, through faith, to set aside our needs for representation that we would have in an earthly government. While I am not naive enough to believe that race doesn’t matter at all, I do believe that no one really wants it to matter–except for white American Mormons who usually have a beef with the church on entirely unrelated issues anyway. Why would anyone want to have a more partisan church, anyway?

    Alright, JNS. Please either respond with more than the dogmatic mantra, “race matters,” or kindly acknowledge that you were mistaken. As an aside, I can think of at least one or two valid reasons for deliberately looking to call more ethnically and nationally diverse people into senior church leadership, but none have to do with simply “helping people identify with the Church.” I’ll share those later.

  112. Kevin Barney says:

    I was actually watching the game where Tree viciously elbowed Danny in the head for no reason as they were jogging down the court, and Danny promptly took Tree down. He used a classic double leg takedown on a guy who was easily twice his size, which showed that he is a pretty darn good athlete. It was incredibly impressive.

  113. MCQ, I meant Vanilla Ice. Yeesh, I’ve forgotten my 1980s and early 1990s hip-hop trivia…

    Joshua A., good grief. If you want anecdotal evidence, I’ve heard hundreds of Latin American saints say, in public and private, that they’re praying for the day when someone from the region is included in the 12 apostles. When Elder Uchtdorf was added to the 12, that was a special moment for at least the dozens of Latin American Saints in the ward I was attending at the time — because, while he wasn’t Latin American, he was at least not U.S. American by birth, so they felt more included.

    If you called a bunch of people and asked them questions about this using the charming and even-handed tone you’ve used with me in this conversation, I have no doubt whatsoever that they told you whatever they thought you wanted to hear.

  114. John Taber says:

    A couple of quick points:

    Everyone here seems to have forgotten that Elder Oaks was once president of BYU. Among the Twelve, there are two former BYU(-Provo) presidents (Elders Oaks and Holland) and two former Ricks/BYU-Idaho presidents (Elders Eyring and Bednar.)

    Something I’ve noticed, looking over those who were called as general authorities, is that at any time, there seems to be a lag from where the Church was sprouting (lots of children being raised in the Church, and/or lots of conversions) a few decades to a half-century earlier. For instance, a century ago, you had a wave of English-born Apostles and First Presidency counselors, with John A. Widstoe thrown in for good measure. I don’t have a problem with much of the current group having been born in Utah, or having had a parent who was – where was the Church when they were born?

    Remember, we didn’t have a temple outside the Intermountain West (except in Hawaii) until 1955 when the Swiss Temple was dedicated. Los Angeles and New Zealand followed not long after. But there wasn’t a temple in the United States east of the Rockies until 1974 (Washington D.C.), or in South America until 1978 (Sao Paulo.) I’m not overly concerned here.

  115. my own personal view….

    The next apostle will most likely been born in the church from 1945-1960.

    This leaves us with an apostle from the corridor, CA, or his parents were from this region based on the out-migration patterns.

    I of course could be wrong given the recent German addition to the Q12.

    A Latin American Apostle is eventually coming simply based on sheer numbers. How many BIC saints were in Mexico or Brazil in 1965? Not to many I would guess.

  116. I don’t want to contribute to turning this into a discussion of race, but I will add my two cents worth – after repeating that I also believe firmly that the Lord is in charge of the process and will choose whomever He wishes to choose. I will not complain or question the choice in any way. Period. However, having worked the last ten years in the Black community, I know a little about this issue from the standpoint of race.

    For my Black friends in the Church (every single one of them from multiple states over twenty years), it would be a HUGE emotional lift if a Black man was called into the Q12. For those with whom I served my mission in Japan, it would have the same type of impact if a Japanese man was called into the Q12. I know, since they ALL expressed that sentiment regarding Elder Kikuchi being called into the 70. They won’t “lobby” for it to happen, since they feel that the Lord will choose whomsoever he will choose, but if it were to happen the emotional flood gates would open and tears would flow freely. I am not saying it should happen, but it’s human nature to want to feel like your children have the potential to reach the highest level of the organization to which you belong – just like the American dream with the Presidency.

    I have Black friends who will vote for Barak Obama JUST because they want the recognition that a Black man can be president; I have women friends who feel the same way about voting for Hillary Clinton; more instructively for this conversation, I have MANY Mormon friends who feel the same way about Mitt Romney. (and quite a few who don’t in each category – they would celebrate but won’t vote that way)

    Tiger Woods is a great example of this today. I have many Black friends who don’t care at all about golf, but they do care that a Black man finally won the Masters. It was an achievement that had been denied for years, and they were overwhelmed by emotion when he did it – many of them to an extent they hadn’t imagined. They view him as a modern day Jackie Robinson – even though they couldn’t care less about golf. Think about the reaction if it was something about which they care deeply – like a visible token of full equality to help direct the affairs of the Church. I know that my Black member friends understand that they probably will have to wait for that to happen, but I also know that there will be ecstatic shouts and celebrations and tears of joy when it does happen.

    Imagine yourself in the temple, a Black saint who is used to seeing the Lord represented by a White man. Now think of what it feels like the first time you see the Lord reaching toward you – and He is Black.

    Finally, the concept of a Heavenly Mother can be debated ad infinitum, and I don’t want this to turn into a threadjack, but, IMHO, the concept itself allows women a paradigm in which women can see themselves as truly God-like – as having spiritual self worth equal to men for no other reason than that they can become like God while being fully female.

    That’s a POWERFUL concept, and it has direct relevance to this discussion. Many white men just don’t “get it” emotionally, but when you have been a part of a “minority” (in any sense, including access to power) it means a lot to see a visible recognition of someone’s “worth” as a member of your group. Official teachings of self-worth notwithstanding, a visible example is a powerful thing.

  117. Ray, thanks. That’s exactly what I’ve been talking about.

  118. California Condor says:

    Instead of arguing, why can’t we just celebrate the memory of Milli Vanilli?

  119. #113

    Not to quible, but the Cardston Alberta Temple was opened in 1923. I think it would be a stretch to consider Cardston part of the “inter-mountain west” which I have always understood to mean the mormon corridor from Idaho to Arizona (correct me if I’m wrong), and Cardston is definitely not in the U.S. It is east of the Rockies however.

  120. Condor, no kidding! Milli Vanilli all the way. Only I can’t remember anything about “their” music.

    Talon, some historians have classified Cardston as part of the Mormon corridor, which also dips into Mexico. Both Cardston and the Mormon Mexico settlements date back to Brigham Young’s time, after all.

  121. Hi JNS,

    I don’t disagree that Cardston is part of the Mormon corridor. John Taber stated that there was no Mormon temple outside the inter-mountain west until 1955, and my response was attemting to point out that while the inter-moutain west intersects with that part of the Mormon corridor that stretches from Idaho to Arizona, Cardston is outside that area (as is Northen Mexico in mind).

    Anyways, my pride would not let me refrain from pointing out that the Carston Temple was the first Temple built outside the U.S. (and the first outside Utah post exodus).

    If none of what I just wrote makes sense, I guess I’ll have to “blame it on the rain”.

  122. The Lord doesn’t actually pick the new person – the current prophet does. So Hinckley will pick a new member of the First Presidency and if it is someone from the 12, then he will also select a new person for the Quorum of the 12. Although, it would make more sense for Packer to choose the new member of the 12 since he is head of that quorum (neither Hinckley or Monson are in the Quorum of the 12). However, I have a feeling that Hinckley will make the choice rather than Packer similar to how a Bishop chooses people for callings rather than individual auxiliary leaders who head their organization.

    Also, since we’re always talking about how international the church is now, no one will ever believe us until the leadership of the church actually reflects this. In my opinion, the only pool of candidates for the 12 would be of Hispanic descent since the average Mormon in the world today is Hispanic. However, this would not sit well with the USA Mormons, since most Mormons I have met are racist (especially against Hispanics). So unfortunately it will still be MANY years before we ever see a Hispanic member of the 12.

  123. Jonathon, Never mind. (Oops, I used that one already. I’ll try to think of a new one.)

  124. John Taber says:

    The Cardston temple is close enough to the border that it has a PO box in Biggs, Montana for all the mail going to or from Salt Lake. (Biggs is even on US 89 like Ogden, Salt Lake, Draper, Provo, and Manti, and at one time Mesa.) Even if it weren’t that close to the border it would qualify as part of the “intermountain West” of North America – I never said “United States”.

    And yes, I meant “Intermountain” to mean “Mormon corridor.”

  125. IconoclastDX says:

    I agree. Nature can teach us much about the value of a little healthy randomization.

    “Overspecialize and you breed in weakness. It’s slow death”

  126. California Condor says:

    John Taber,

    Highway 89 still goes through Mesa. Have some respect for Arizona Mormons, for crying out loud. I bristle at the notion that you casually cut Mesa off of the Mormon corridor.

    There are some fine, respectable Mormons in Arizona. Ever heard of Spencer W. Kimball?

  127. Thanks JT!

    Just out of curiosity, where does the inter-mountain west begin/end? Alaska? Chile?

  128. California Condor says:

    It starts at Lethbridge, goes down to Thatcher, then out to the left at San Bernadino, then out to the west at Vernal. Everything beyond these four points is the mission field.

  129. California Condor says:

    RE (37)

    I meant out to the “east” at Vernal.

  130. LOL! thanks CC, its in the shape of a giant “western cross” of sorts, never thought of it that way (although I am curious why you do not include the settlements in northern Mexico in your assessment).

    I’m just messing with JT. Having lived in Southern Alberta all my life and never having heard it referred to as part of the “inter-mountain west”, I was just trying to make a point. Part of the Mormon corridor, yes, but I don’t believe that is synonymous with the the inter-mountain west, although the two do overlap in some places.

  131. California Condor says:

    Yes, you raise a good point… Colonia Juarez is the southern end of Zion.

  132. Jeff Spector says:

    Milli Vanilli might have been LDS, “Girl, You KNOW Its True.” :) Sorry, I’m new to the blog and couldn’t resist.

    BTW, if the Church Leadership wanted the most politically correct choice, they would take into consideration everything that has been said here. But they don’t. They pick from someone they already know, whom they have experience with, Who is well-qualified and, then ask God to endorse their choice. The days of calling out from the conference audience are over….. maybe they should call Mitt Romney and kill two birds with one stone.