I appreciate thought-provoking posts, especially when they tap into topics I've personally been thinking about. Such was the case with Families, Eternal and Otherwise by Brad at By Common Consent, and also with The Irreconcilable Voices in D&C 132 by Caroline at The Exponent.
I told my wife after reading this last one that it stole my thunder. I'd been planning on posting about Section 132 and my concerns that the same tender Lord who tells the Saints earlier in the Doctrine and Covenants that he will lead them by the hand now transforms into the Old Testament voice and tells Emma Smith that she'll be "destroyed" if she didn't get on board with plural marriage.
I read another thought-provoking post yesterday by BIV at Wheat and Tares: Unveiling the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions. I've been wondering if there had been some recent letter of instruction to bishoprics lately, but new instructions in a new handbook might shed some light on a trend I've been noticing lately. I shared my observations there:
I’ve had several personal experiences lately with being asked to present my temple recommend before participating in baby blessings, and it definitely rubs me the wrong way. (And for disclosure purposes, I have a temple recommend.) But it just kind of seemed wrong-headed to me; doesn’t feel “right”.
And since this recent emphasis (it’s only been in the past few months or so that I’ve noticed) I was also witness to a specific episode of rigid adherence to the letter of the law over the spirit of the law. Arriving 5 minutes late to a Sacrament Meeting one Sunday I overheard a bishop out in the foyer chewing out a young father for not notifying him of the father-in-law’s intention to join in the circle to bless his grand-baby in time to check the temple recommend.
Since the grandfather didn’t have it on him that morning (after traveling a long distance), the bishop had left the meeting to try to call grandfather’s bishop with no success, and when they went back in he chose not to allow the grandfather to stand in the circle.
I had a strong reaction to this. In fact I thought it was despicable. I wished that the bishop had followed the spirit of the law and let the grandfather participate and if there was a problem God would sort it out. (Personally I don’t think the temple recommend should be necessary anyway, and I even question the necessity of having a member of the bishopric present for a father to bless the baby, but that’s another issue. Yet while I’m on that tangent, I will say that I MUCH prefer to do a baby blessing at home with just family (and the member of the bishopric of course) rather than in front of the entire congregation. I’ve done both and it didn’t feel right to me to include all those people on the special family experience; it definitely distracted me from what should be an intimate moment.)
Anyway (and ironically), several weeks after I witnessed that bishop’s decision (and his brusque and uncharitable way of speaking to the young father) a visiting high council speaker shared a quote over the pulpit from an area authority who had counseled this high councilor when he was a young branch president. The money quote was: “Never let protocol or tradition get in the way of the Spirit. It is the Spirit that matters most.”
I love the quote, but I loved it even more that this bishop was in attendance and listening. I couldn’t help but wonder if he took that to heart.