I watched the recording of Saturday’s historic Women’s Conference the other day. The music was beautiful, the messages were wonderful. Someone at church commented on Sunday that President Monson “did not look well.” OK, let’s see. He’s 86 years old, has long been suffering from the effects of diabetes and lost his wife almost a year ago. I hope I look as well at age 86.
Even Our Prophets Get Old
I watched the video closely at the end as he walked out of the Conference Center, assisted by church security and then accompanied by his daughter. I even paused the recording every few seconds to study his features. He looked pretty good to me. I took a frame grab and posted it with this short entry so you can judge for yourself. Sorry about the poor quality. He didn’t pose for us.
After All, He’s Still a Man
Why do we do this? Why do we care so much about how our prophet looks? And why do we seem surprised the man is aging and is, gasp, possibly suffering from the effects of what we call dementia, senility or Alzheimer’s? He’s not a God. He’s a man. All men must die. And he’s not the first LDS prophet to suffer diminishing health while serving as President of this large church.
Leave President Monson Alone
I wrote previously about the decline of President Benson over the last six or seven years of his life when he was pretty much out of touch with reality. As I wrote there, it didn’t bother me then that President Benson had Alzheimer’s and it doesn’t bother me now. If President Monson is suffering from dementia, then for goodness sake, let’s give him a break and let him enjoy it.
Will He be “Allowed” to Speak?
Every six months the dialog on the Internet forums goes a little bit overboard in analyzing how President Monson looked or the way he delivered his addresses. The speculation is rampant that he may not be “allowed” to speak for fear of going off and getting lost in his delivery. He was always pretty good at engaging his audience with antics like the ear wiggling in Priesthood.
Update after Saturday Sessions:
As everyone knows, President Monson spoke at both the opening and the Priesthood sessions. He sounded wonderful. He can still deliver a good talk. I was so pleased to see him looking and functioning so well. I don’t recall seeing President Packer. I pray the Lord’s blessings upon him. Elder Perry looked as spry as ever. He may soon be the President of the Quorum (end of update).
Update after Sunday Morning:
If his delivery of Sunday morning’s address was any indication, the Lord blessed President Monson in great measure. I was especially touched by his own little prayer he offered at the end: “Heavenly Father, I am always glad you are here and there.” So touching. So sweet. So childlike. This man is not putting on an act. He truly is becoming more child-like. God bless President Monson.
Keyword Searches are Trending
I know I’m nobody as far as influence on the LDS blogging community, but I still get a lot of Google hits on phrases like “Monson senile,” or “Monson dementia.” Watching the keyword searches on my blog is like taking the temperature of what church members are discussing on a daily basis. It’s that time again. Those “Monson Alzheimer’s” keywords are starting to trend.
The Internet Has Changed Everything
Thomas S. Monson has spent almost his entire life in the service of an institution that has grown tremendously. Every growing institution has challenges. Besides managing that growth, another challenge is dealing with disenchanted members. The Internet has done two things that were, by all indications, not anticipated by the Brethren until it was too late. The damage has been done.
We Can Know More Than The Brethren
First, it provided a massive repository of material from early church history that was previously unknown to most members. Second, it provided a platform, through forums and blogs, to connect with other members in a way that allowed them to share research and build community. Leaders found themselves overwhelmed with people who knew more about church history than they did.
We Gave the Current Leaders Their Titles
We put the title of prophet, seer and revelator on the fifteen men who lead this institution. Now the Lord gave those titles to Joseph and to Hyrum, but as far as I know, He did not give them to members of the Twelve. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Brigham did not give himself those titles. He was voted into the office of President through common consent by members.
Brigham Never Claimed to be a Prophet
We are the ones who gave those titles to our President and members of the Twelve. Again, someone please show me where the Lord designates they should have those titles in scripture. In fact, Denver wrote about this specific thing both on his blog and in Passing the Heavenly Gift. I am fairly certain Brigham never claimed them for himself. It was a more recent church change.
Commentary by Denver Snuffer
Inside the Church the current interpretation is that the “office” has associated with it a “title” set out in scripture. The “office” of the President of the High Priesthood (D&C 107: 65–66) , who is the President of the Church, also bears the “title” of “prophet, seer and revelator.” (D&C 107: 91–92.) The current interpretation of these verses is that the possessor of the office is entitled to the title of “prophet, seer and revelator” by virtue of office alone. Therefore, nothing more is needed in current church usage other than possession of the office, which alone gives the possessor of the office the title accorded to the office. So, no, our current terminology does not require something other than office. Source: Denver Snuffer Blog, 21 May 2010
Yes, we Have Administrative Apostles
I am in agreement with Denver that being ordained to the office of Apostle does not make one a prophet, seer or revelator (or translator). We have come to associate the titles with the office of President or Apostle. There are two different kinds of apostles – those who have actually received the Lord and had their ordination complete and those who are apostles in name only.
This May be New To Some of You
Please don’t be offended if this is a radical new interpretation or understanding of the highest positions we seem to almost worship in our church. These are all good men and I love them dearly. I will be listening very closely to each of them speak – if they are well enough to do so. We may or may not hear President Monson speak. If he does, great – if not, I’m OK with that.
Exercise ALL the Priesthood Keys
I still sustain him as “prophet, seer and revelator and as the only man on the earth authorized to exercise ALL the priesthood keys of the Kingdom of God on earth.” There are other keys not associated with the Kingdom of God on Earth one can receive. We may also need to come to a better understanding of what a key actually is. Is it permission as we teach or is it knowledge?
Keys, Keys, We’ve Got Keys
I want to make this short because this is what the Lord asked me to teach when I prayed about it Sunday night. It is not new and what I have shared here is not complete. You add the rest in the comments if you would please. Also, correct me where I’m wrong. Keys, keys, keys – We’ve got to understand what they really are and who can hold them. Our eternal salvation is at peril.
I Uphold Them with my Faith and Prayers
God bless us all to enjoy General Conference this weekend. I hope I have made it clear I love and sustain these Brethren. Like Denver, even if one of them directs I need to be disciplined, as Elder Nelson did toward Denver, I will sustain them as authorized in the office they hold. We sustained them. We put them in those offices by common consent to lead this institution.
Offices in One or Both Kingdoms
Just remember, there is currently a big difference between the Kingdom of God on the Earth and the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Think about it. I am grateful to have membership in both. I hope and pray they will come together in my lifetime, but I am an old man, so it may not be my privilege to witness the joining of the two. Besides, I think we are far from ready for Zion yet.
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble
But that’s a topic for another day – April 12th, to be exact, in Grand Junction Colorado. Wish I could be there. Carol and I are making plans to attend at least one of the lectures in St. George, Las Vegas or Phoenix. Denver, if you want to come to Southern California, let some of us help you find a venue. Please don’t forget there are saints outside of Utah who love you. Peace.