Well, to be honest, the Catholic (singular) is coming. That’s right boys and girls … Father Hans has decided to guest-blog with us. For those who don’t know (or remember) who Father Hans is, refresh yourselves here by scrolling down to “Ecumenicalism run amok?”. I’m not going to bother providing additional biographical information for now, as I hope my prior post has given you sufficient taste of who Hans is. After his brief stint with us at BCC, the plan is that he will answer “12 Questions” over at Times and Seasons. [Read more…]
Last Sunday, I taught my Gospel Essentials class on “Priesthood Organization.” One of the sub-themes of the lesson was the role of the “Patriarch.” The Bishop plugged “patriarchal blessings” for the new members, and listed the duties of the patriarch, including that of “assigning lineage.” A recent African-American convert approached me after the lesson, informed me that she had recently received her own patriarchal blessing, and asked: “Brother Brown, what exactly does it mean to “assign lineage”?”
What should I tell her?
My wife and I are about to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary. We wanted to go out of town to celebrate, but we’ve been invited to a wedding in Salt Lake City the weekend before the big day. Thus, we’ve decided to attend the wedding and celebrate our anniversary during the same weekend, effectively killing two birds with one stone. But what this means is we’ll be celebrating our anniversary …. in Utah! Ugh! We don’t really have any immediate family there, so it isn’t an obvious destination for us. We haven’t been back in years (O.K., we drove through once two years ago). We pride ourselves on not ever setting foot in that “cultural wasteland.” Our sense of identity and self-worth is largely a product of our being able to make snide remarks about that place. How will we answer the question “What did you do for your 5-year Anniversary?” without hanging our heads in shame?
The Vatican is upset. Apparently, large numbers of American Catholic congregations are allowing unordained lay people to participate in Mass in semi-official capacities. Thus, too many non-priests and non-deacons are delivering sermons and preaching the gospel, when these important tasks should be left to the proper authorities. You can read about it here. This whole episode has me wondering … What would Pope John Paul think of my good friend Father Hans?
“August 17, 1949
The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”
President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”
The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.
The First Presidency”
In a recent thread at Times and Seasons, BCC’s own Kristine and Steve had an interesting interchange about excommunication and the September 6. Steve said:
“Only they know the totality of the circumstances surrounding what happened, so I’m hesitant to assign it all to their inquisitive natures.
“I have to say that you have just made a comment of the type I find most troublesome about this event: the well-we-don’t-know-everything-about-it-there-must-be-more-to-the-story-than-what-the-protagonists-are-
telling-us-probably-there-were-other-sins-involved. It leads to people sort of darkly hinting that there must
be sins those people have committed that they haven’t told the media about and speculating as to what those might be.”
(You think you know what this post is going to be about… Well, you’re WRONG!!)
I was having lunch recently with Cameron, an LDS friend of mine, when I made a rather shocking confession to him. “Cameron,” I said, “I am a prophet. I have the gift of prophecy.” Cameron looked at me skeptically. “No really,” I said. “I’ll prove it to you. I’ll make a prediction of some future event, and you’ll see that it will come to pass.” Cameron waited in breathless anticipation. “I predict … that at some point within the next 10 seconds, someone will lift this teriyaki chicken bowl two feet above the table, hold it there for several seconds, and then lay it back to rest on the table again.” Cameron seemed intrigued. I then promptly grabbed the chicken bowl, lifted it above our heads for a few moments, and then put it back down. “See, aren’t you impressed?” I asked. “I predicted it would happen, and sure enough, it did.” Cameron was underwhelmed. I asked him why. A discussion ensued, and Cameron provided the following explanation for why my predictive powers were not impressive: “You were the causal agent that made it happen! In order for your “prophecy” to be meaningful, it can’t predict an occurrence that you yourself CAUSED. It has to predict something that you couldn’t cause, but that happened nonetheless.” I reluctantly agreed.
There is an idea in American culture–it pops up in all sorts of places–that extreme homophobia is often a sign of repressed homosexuality. The idea goes something like this: Certain men who have subscribed to cultural norms of hyper-masculinity discover, much to their chagrin, that they sometimes experience homoerotic feelings. This doesn’t fit into their carefully constructed self-image. It also conflicts with, say, their religious and societal upbringing, from which they learned that homosexuals are sissies or “not real men.”
We who are LDS believe that the President of the Church is God’s official spokesman on the Earth. It is widely assumed that the Prophet may, at least on occasion, speak directly with God, face-to-face. There are, of course, 1001 arguments as to what the prophetic mantle really entails. We could spend countless hours debating de facto prophetic “infallibility” whether and in what ways the prophet could ever “lead us astray,” the parameters for prophets having their own “opinions,” in what contexts prophets are or are not “acting as such,” etc. etc. etc. We could discuss the Proclamation and debate its “doctrinal” status with respect to gender and marriage, or Pres. Hinckley’s apparent endorsement of the Iraq War, and debate whether he was speaking only for himself, or for God Almighty. But wherever you all come down on these specific issues, one thing seems undeniable: There is a presumption in Mormonism that, at least some of the time, the Prophet is giving us insight into how God Himself feels about certain pressing issues. And I see no reason to reject the presumption just because the issue being addressed is arguably “political.”
At a recent ward activity, I somehow got into a conversation with a member of my Elder’s Quorum, and his wife, about the alleged connection between “Dark Side of the Moon” and the “The Wizard of Oz.” For those of you unfamiliar with the juicy details, let me tantalize you:
I know I’ll probably be disinvited to blog here shortly, given my propensity for beating this dead horse, but I want to advocate a change of blog name. More specifically, I want to cast my vote for “Zeezrom & Friends,” “Zeezrom & Co.,” or, best of all, the delicious little title that heads this post.