More Unbridled Speculation — the Priesthood Ban

February 17, 2009
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It seems like everyone likes to speculate about the priesthood.  Who can resist?

It would be fun to go over all the speculations others have had, and all the statements some had to make acknowledging that they were mistaken.  But why do that, why not engage in some unbridled speculation of our own?

A good place to start is David O. McKay .  What can we conclude about his earnest and prolonged prayers for authority to remove the Priesthood Ban and God telling him (a) the ban would be removed, (b) not with President McKay and (c) now quit bothering me about it.  Where does that get us and what does that lead to when we start to speculate all over again about how, when, why and such?

Apply logic, pride and uninspired inferences and ask yourself what does David O McKay’s experience tell us about the ban and what does it tell us about the future?  What does it tell us about the other unbridled speculations that are floating about?

What else is there to have unbridled speculation about?

144 Responses to More Unbridled Speculation — the Priesthood Ban

  1. February 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I would like sexist language “priesthood ban” banned forthwith. Neither men nor woman were allowed to attend the temple at all. Let’s call it an “exultation ban” or something similar. I do beieve that there were one or two instances where black women were allowed to perform baptisms for the dead, but other than that, nada.

  2. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    My unbridled speculation on that speculation is that President McKay and some other apostles were ahead of the curve on this issue and the Lord wanted a people (and council of the 12) who were more ready for a revelation.

    (My opinion on the Priesthood ban, if it helps understand what I’m getting at below, is that it was never the Lord’s doing. None of the explanations given at the time were revealed doctrine either, it should follow. I believe the Lord allowed the practice to stand until the church was ready to listen, for reasons that will be clearer below.)

    Speculate for a moment the things that would have happened had President McKay revoked the priesthood ban, in light of what some of the brethren passionately believed in matters of race and doctrine. Personal friends of his record that he had concluded by the early 1950s, near the beginning of his presidency, that there was no doctrinal basis for the ban. Imagine what would have happened had he simply announced the end to the ban, announced it to a quorum which had members who believed the seed of Cain business was doctrine, that pre-existent valor must be the logical explanation for the ban. Was there room in their hearts to receive such a revelation? Not whole-heartedly, I would venture.

    Now imagine sending these apostles out to teach this new doctrine (out of duty to sustain the prophet rather than out of understanding or true acceptance) to a church that believed this and many worse assumptions prevalent in the culture? How well would that have gone over? Very poorly, I would venture.

    And then we would have black folks suddenly aware of our church, one of the only where it was theoretically possible for a black man to lead a white congregation. Some might have taken an interest and been taught (by missionaries who grew up with the culture’s prevalent racial assumptions), gained testimonies, and joined. Were church members in that era ready to accept these new converts as equals, even as their priesthood leaders? I doubt that. For all the sad stories of racist rhetoric we now look back at, I suggest we would be adding to that a nasty list of bad behavior to add to the list. Racial attitudes all over the world still had a lot of changing to do, and I don’t think the church members could’ve handled such revelation.

    Even if some of our leaders like President McKay were ahead of the curve on this matter, I don’t think there was any realistic way for the church to be. I think the following quote, ironically from Brigham Young, sums up for me why the ban wasn’t ended sooner:

    “[God] would be glad to send angels to communicate further to this people, but there is no room to receive it, consequently, He cannot come and dwell with you. There is a further reason: we are not capacitated to throw off in one day all our traditions, and our prepossessed feelings and notions, but have to do it little by little. It is a gradual process, advancing from one step to another; and as we layoff our false traditions and foolish notions, we receive more and more light, and thus we grow in grace; and if we continue so to grow we shall be prepared eventually to receive the Son of Man, and that is what we are after.” (Journal of Discourses 2:309-318).

    I have no idea whether I’m right, but for now this explanation works for me.

  3. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Sorry Lorin,

    I disagree. If Bruce R McConkie can do a 180 when Pres Kimball announced the lifting of the ban in 1978, why wouldn’t the other GA’s do the same in 1950 if McKay had lifted the ban? Is Bruce more righteous than the vast majority of GA’s like say, Alvin Dyer? I think not.

  4. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Lorin’s explanation is very similar to my own speculation. I read the allegory of the vineyard in Jacob 5 and immediately see that there will be “bitter fruit” in the Church even after the Restoration – fruit that could be pruned only according to the strength of the root. I don’t think that bitter fruit has been purged completely yet.

    The Church members, by and large, were racist when they converted, as was the rest of the society in which they lived. The laws of the land eventually addressed that racism head-on, but the Church leaders had built up a speculative doctrinal foundation to justify the ban – and the emotional investment in that foundation was deep. When those at the top level who were heavily invested finally were outnumbered greatly by those who were not, the ban was lifted. Deeply regrettable, imo, but also completely understandable.

    I also should point out that the Mormon Church is MUCH more racially integrated now than nearly all Protestant denominations I saw while living in the Deep South. I always shake my head in consternation when I hear people claim the Church is still racist. Too many members still are, but the Church itself actually is ahead of the general curve now.

    Oh, and djinn, it was a priesthood ban, since it is in the temple that women are endowed with the priesthood in a real and tangible way. It is the endowment of priesthood power that allows women to become goddesses and priestesses, exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. Some leaders notably believed that black members would not be exalted, but that was never the unified voice of the FP and 12. The generic belief was that black members would receive the priesthood at some point in the future, like the Millennium, at which time all of the blessings of the Gospel would be theirs. Small comfort, and speculation, but that was the general consensus.

    (and the word is “exaltation” – not “exultation”. I’ve seen that mis-spelling quite often by various people, and there is a significant difference – although the transliteration is understandable.)

  5. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    MH, because in 1978, BRM was outnumbered pretty much 13-2. In 1950, he was in the solid majority.

  6. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Ray,

    Perhaps BRM was in the majority (though by 1969, that majority had clearly reversed). However, with the emphasis the church has always had on following the prophet, I can’t imagine that GA’s would have half-heartedly supported McKay. To do so would not be following the prophet.

    Is anyone implying that excommunications of GA’s would have resulted in 1950, for GA’s refusing to ordain blacks? Would we have seen something similar to the excommunications that followed the 2nd Manifesto officially banning polygamy in the early 1900′s?

    Regarding the 2nd Manifesto, did it really matter that some GA’s weren’t on board with the renunciation of polygamy? Does it really matter if some of the GA’s weren’t on board with the priesthood ban in 1950?

  7. Shawn
    February 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    So, by Lorin’s and Ray’s thinking, it was OK to give consideration, thought, empathy and understanding to the poor racist church members and non-prepared general authorities who were not ready to live by the further light and knowledge we should have been able to handle BUT it was not necessary to give consideration, thought, empathy and understanding to all those black brothers and sisters who went to their graves without being able to be endowed from on high or sealed to their loved ones while in mortality? The group who really suffered is relegated to the unforgotten footnotes while the racist majority is handled with kid gloves?

    I just don’t think Heavenly Father works that way.

    We will be typing the same comments about the gay and lesbian members of our Church in twenty years?

  8. Holden Caulfield
    February 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    In my church life in Southern California spanning 37 years I have had five black ward members that I can remember. The school my youngest son goes to is probably 30 percent black. Give us the benefit of the doubt and our church may not be racist. Integrated we’re not.

    For that reason alone I enjoy the UofU beating BYU in football.

  9. Hawkgrrrl
    February 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Shawn – “I just don’t think Heavenly Father works that way.” I don’t either, but I don’t think that’s what Ray & Lorin are saying. My interpretation/ speculation is that God doesn’t work that way at all, but that people do. Some of the current sexism in the church is doubtless a continuation of this same issue. Some of the previous statements about gays & lesbians are as well (the rhetoric is evolving on this one quickly, as well as the sexist rhetoric). The Lord has no choice but to work with imperfect humans. And people suck.

  10. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    MH,

    This presumes that the BRM of the 1950s was the same man as the BRM of 1978. And I think Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee probably had much more distance to travel on that issue than BRM.

    I’m certainly not the same person I was 25 years ago, nor the same man I hope to be in 25 years. EVERYBODY in the free world except the white supremacist hold-outs went through a period of major attitude adjustments in the 25 years preceding the 1978 revelation. I think church members and apostles alike needed to go through the civil rights era to unlearn much of what needed to be unlearned. I doubt the church members were ready for such a revelation before the late ’60s. And I frankly think Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee needed to be out of the way before such a revelation could be received unanimously.

    The fact the president Kimball insisted that it be unanimous, and reportedly would have scuttled the announcement had there been anything less, says a lot. When all 15 prophets, seers and revelators are unanimous on something–with full conscience, after full discussion and with full agency–the church really needs to pay attention. Maybe we don’t respect or give as much attention to that principles as the Lord does.

  11. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Lorin,

    So are you saying that if McKay said he received a revelation in the temple just as Kimball did, that it would have been rejected by Lee and Joseph Fielding Smith?

  12. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Shawn, please don’t put words into my mouth that didn’t come out of it. I have NEVER said what your comment says – NEVER, and I never will. The charge in your comment is repulsive to me, and I simply would never say or believe it.

    Holden, I said integrated – not equally represented and not “fine and dandy”. We have black members leading predominantly white congregations; we have no congregations segregated specifically by race. Sure, we have a LONG way to go before we are where we need to be, but, structurally, we are integrated – and we will have a black apostle, I believe, in the reasonably near future. (probably after a Hispanic apostle and possibly after a Polynesian or Asian apostle, but that generally is a function of overall time in the Church and rising through the ranks – We have a ways to go before that dream will be realized.)

    That’s NOT the case in many Protestant denominations I observed in the Deep South, although it is in others. What I’m saying is that we are not institutionally racist anymore. I sincerely wish we never had been, but we aren’t anymore.

  13. Last Lemming
    February 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    So are you saying that if McKay said he received a revelation in the temple just as Kimball did, that it would have been rejected by Lee and Joseph Fielding Smith?

    Whether they would have rejected it outright is not the issue. Whether they would have quietly (and perhaps even subconsciously) undermined it once they became president of the Church is the issue.

  14. Shawn
    February 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Ray,

    Forgive my mistake. I did not mean to be so presumptuous.

    Question – If the General Authorities are being taught directly by the Holy Ghost at a much higher level than you and me, why would they not have reached the greater level of understanding WAY before society got there?

  15. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Last Lemming,

    Regarding the 2nd Manifesto, A number of church leaders were opposed to the enforcement of the “Second Manifesto”, including Apostles John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley. As a result of their opposition, both were expelled from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1906, and in 1911 Taylor was excommunicated for continued opposition. I believe that McKay filled one of these openings (though I could be wrong.)

    So, while Taylor was in open opposition, why is subconscious opposition by Lee or Smith a problem?

  16. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    It’s cool, Shawn. Racism just is an emotional soapbox issue for me, especially since I have seen personally how it still rears its ugly head in the lives of my black sons. If I react a bit strongly about it sometimes, please understand why.

    To address your overall question, I believe we call them “General Authorities” for a reason – that they speak to the “general” membership at a meta level. I do believe their testimonies of the Savior are unique in some ways, even if that is only due to their age and life experiences, but I don’t believe they have a unique access to the Holy Ghost that is unavailable to us as regular members. Frankly, I also think they receive individual AND “collective” revelation according to their own abilities, just as we do.

    We’ll all schmucks in many ways, and I don’t think they are any different in that “general” classification. Higher level schmucks with access to revelation for many more people, but still schmucks, nonetheless. I can view them that way and still accept them as prophets and apostles, since I don’t view apostles and prophets as anywhere close to infallible, constant conduits of God’s will.

    Paul said, “We see through a glass, darkly” and “we prophecy in part” – and he was an apostle (or, at least, the equivalent of a modern 70). If that is the Biblical standard, I have no problem with it being the modern standard. If part of their veil is to not be so far ahead of the general membership that they leave the general membership behind and, thus, weaken and/or destroy the Church, so be it.

    All of that, of course, fits this post, since it’s all unbridled speculation. I think I’m on fairly solid ground, but it’s still speculation – and I might be spectacularly wrong.

  17. Tanya
    February 17, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    My sister’s take on this whole issue is it is part of the fullfillment of the fulness of the gentiles. Here we have a people that were exculded from receiving the full benefits of the gospel in this life. (Was there a ban on performing ordinances for the dead of racial ethnicity?) Anyway, what a better way to show this than by the granting of blessings to a people that were denied it to this point. We too often look at this issue as an “American” issue, but it was a “Worldwide” issue, as we see with the testimony and strength of those awaiting blessings in Africa and Brazil.

  18. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    According to Wikipedia. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthias_F._Cowley

    “Cowley resigned from the Quorum, at the request of church president Joseph F. Smith, on October 28, 1905 because his presence in the hierarchy undermined the church’s position in the crucial Reed Smoot senate hearings. Cowley was notorious for having widely performed marriages contravening the church’s manifesto prohibiting new plural marriage. Earlier in April of the same year, Apostle John W. Taylor had resigned for the same reason. In addition, with the death of Apostle Marriner W. Merrill in early February of the next year, there were three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. In the April General Conference of 1906, three new apostles were called to replace them: George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, and David O. McKay.”

    At any rate, McKay was specifically called an apostle because of polygamy disagreements within the Quorum of 12. Why would disagreements over the priesthood ban be any worse?

  19. John M.
    February 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    After reading David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, one could speculate that Joseph Fielding Smith’s and Harold B. Lee’s untimely deaths may be due to their unwillingness to extend priesthood blessing to all worthy members? Spencer W. Kimball, with a faulty heart, out lived both and received the revelation. Elder Russell M. Nelson, in his autobiography “From Heart to Heart”, tells of a dream he had in which President Lee told Elder Nelson that what was revealed to President Kimball would have been revealed to him if he had lived longer.

  20. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Honestly, Tanya, I don’t understand that reasoning, since all blacks would be considered Gentiles. Why would one subset have the priesthood and another subset not have it?

    Personally, I like the BRM statement that ALL the previous justifications were wrong and Elder Oaks’ (I think) statement that we need to make sure those justifications are not taught anymore in any form. I don’t think it was God’s will, plain and simple. Again, I might be wrong, but that is the most charitable view, imo.

  21. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    #18 – The Manifesto split the Church – literally and figuratively shattered it to a degree. It was absolutely necessary, imo, but it was “premature” if you consider ONLY the membership’s ability to accept it without reservation and opposition. (and I include leadership in the term “membership”) It’s reasonable to speculate that with the ban the Lord said, “This time, you will pay for your mistakes until ALL can accept my will.” After all, that’s really no different in theory than making Israel wait to enter the promised land until practically all the generation who left Egypt had died and a new generation was prepared to accept the new responsibility.

  22. Holden Caulfield
    February 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Ray–I always appreciate your comments. You obviously spend a lot more time than I do thinking about so many issues and no doubt your thinking is more productive than mine. My knee jerk reaction was to the church “being ahead of the curve”. In my own life, I don’t see our church being ahead of any curve when it comes to the black issue. It continues to suffer the understandable affects of a backwoodsy policy that lasted way too long.

    Some may take comfort in the thought that we may some day have a black apostle. I look in our congregations today and still see only a token amount of black people. I have shared here before the pathetic prosyleting policy of my mission president in Brazil. I still harbor ill feelings about being asked to lie about what I was doing in Brazil when we can upon black Brazilians.

  23. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Holden, fwiw, I understand your feelings about the experience in Brazil. That’s wrong – simply wrong.

  24. February 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    It’s lovely, Ray, that you consider women to have the priesthood. However, in common parlance, women do not have the priesthood. Check your nearest elders quorum meeting, those who are allowed to give priesthood blessings, list of Stake presidents, any number of threads on fmh, etc., for proof.

  25. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    djinn, I’m not going there on this thread. We’ve hashed it out enough elsewhere.

  26. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Ray,

    I agree that the polygamy issue split the church. But it was not a death knell. I don’t think the race issue would have split the church in the same way polygamy did. Perhaps I am naive. I think McKay, Lee, Smith, BRM, and others were good men. I just don’t see them reacting the way Taylor and Cowley would have reacted. Do you? Would we have seen GA’s resigning/excommunicated regarding the race issue? (Why will nobody answer this question directly?)

  27. Shawn
    February 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Without getting us off track, I just have a side comment:

    I was asked to talk about my line of Priesthood authority in Primary sharing time last Sunday. I brought in my line of authority chart and discussed how it came down from the Saviour. In speaking to the children, I told them the boys would participate in the Priesthood when they turn twelve and I told the girls they would participate when they entered the Temple. I believe they told them truthfully.

  28. February 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Got home for lunch to take a look to see how this was going, since the last unbridled speculation seemed to have kind of faded away without much interest. I did enjoy the posting title “djinn, annoying as expected” which is pretty much what one is supposed to expect from one of the Djinn ;)

    Also appreciated Ray’s comments and Lorin’s quote.

    Wish I had more time now.

  29. Shawn
    February 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Well, I guess Stephen didn’t like my commentary. Maybe I should just exit with whatever respect I still have.

    LOL!

  30. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    MH, Honestly, I’m not sure what would have happened in 1950. That really was WAY ahead of the curve overall, especially for the most aged Church leadership at the time. I just don’t know. I think the key is that the precedent for unanimous support of major change had been established following the Manifesto – that nobody wanted to see the Church split like that again. I believe that was bedrock to the generation that were adult leaders already in 1910, and that group were primarily the ones who were so entrenched in the ban justifications. I just don’t know what the reaction would have been, but I’m not sure it matters – since I’m not convinced they were ready as a united body to consider it, and since they acted as a united body.

    In the end, what I’m saying is that I can picture quite easily God saying, while figuratively throwing His hands in the air, “Fine, if you’re going to rely on the arm of flesh on this one (by citing non-Mormon justifications like the seed of Cain and ignoring the fact that Joseph ordained black men), then go ahead and do it. I won’t change it until all of you are ready to accept it unanimously – and until nearly all who were behind the justifications are dead.” I think that meshes quite well with Pres. McKay’s experience.

    Like I said, we have scriptural precedence for that – and I see very, very few instances where apostles and prophets have a Saul/Alma experience where they are knocked to their knees and bludgeoned over the head with a revelation they aren’t prepared to receive. That happens with unrighteous people who are trying to destroy the Church, not with righteous people doing their best to serve it. More often, I see Him working with what He’s got available and honoring agency – and that is quite consistent across our canon.

  31. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Interesting topic. I have been sorting through books that I “inherited” (no one else had space for them) years ago after a family member’s death and one of them is called “Mormonism and the Negro” by John J. Stewart. I have not read the book and wonder if anyone is familiar with it? It was written in 1960.

  32. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    #29 – :) :D

  33. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    “What can we conclude about his earnest and prolonged prayers for authority to remove the Priesthood Ban and God telling him (a) the ban would be removed, (b) not with President McKay and (c) now quit bothering me about it.”

    The ever annoying timing of the Lord.

  34. hawkgrrrl
    February 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    #31 – I’m not familiar with that, but if it’s interesting, maybe you would like to enlighten us all through a guest post/book report.

  35. James
    February 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2003_LDS_Church_and_the_Race_Issue.html

    Armand Mauss seems to answer the change of policy best (speculation best)

    Q : Why would Brigham Young believe such things?

    A : Because he was a nineteenth-century American, and hardly any white people of that time, North or South, believed in equality for blacks. Slavery was still an unsettled issue throughout the nation, with some even in the South opposed to it, and many even in the North who were willing to tolerate it. Brigham Young’s ideas were really right in the mainstream of American thinking at that time. They were very close to the ideas of other prominent Americans from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln, who himself did not even free all slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation.14

    Q : I thought most Americans of that time believed in God and in the Bible. Where was God in all this?

    A : It is doubtful that God had anything to do with it. Many Americans of the time, including Brigham Young and most other Mormon leaders, believed that the scriptures justified the subordination of black people because they were descendants of Cain or of other biblical figures who had sinned egregiously. Latter-day Saints do not believe that God takes responsibility for the evil in the world, or that He condones the use of his name or of the scriptures to justify evil. Yet he has granted human beings their agency either to operate a society according to His principles or to pay the consequences. The Civil War and the racial strife since then have been the consequences of slavery.

  36. February 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Brigham Young was very clear what would happen the “day and the hour” that the blacks were allowed priesthood if it were attempted anytime before all the rest of Adam’s children had the opportunity.
    It really doesn’t matter how much some church president “prays” about it. It’s just like Joseph Smith praying about Martin Harris receiving the plates. The Lord will let you fool yourself into “yes” answer if you are relentless but it is always to your own condemnation.
    The bottom line is that if you allow blacks in the temples you will be smitten. The Lord does not care how much you want to fit into secular society. Just because Jimmy Carter threatens the church’s tax exempt status does not force the Lord into giving Spencer a “revelation”.
    As I recall, Spencer sat up there for a few years with his tongue hanging down to his chin after being smitten.

    Fundamentally yours,

  37. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Jen,

    I did a 10,000 word post on the priesthood ban on my blog last summer, and I did receive a few comments about “Mormonism and the Negro”. It seems to have primarily tried to rationalize the ban as from God. One of the commenters on my blog even left a reference to it online and can be found here:
    http://celestial-orb.org/library/mormon_negro.html

  38. James
    February 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    The bottom line is that if you allow blacks in the temples you will be smitten.

    36 Bruce in Montanna

    It is doubtful that God had anything to do with it!!!!!!

  39. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Bruce, we know your viewpoint. Please, at least try to be respectful of those we view as Prophets – especially someone like Pres. Kimball, who was just about as humble a man as ever walked the earth.

  40. February 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    The issue of the Bible and slavery has appeared! There is a wonderful thread on bycommonconsent on this very issue here: http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/09/20/why-did-jesus-and-paul-not-condemn-slavery/

    I found it quite informative.

  41. Last Lemming
    February 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    So, while Taylor was in open opposition, why is subconscious opposition by Lee or Smith a problem?

    Because Smith and Lee became presidents of the church, where my hypothesized passive aggression would be magnified in a way that an apostle’s would not be.

  42. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Last Lemming,

    So let me get this straight. Are you saying that if McKay had changed the ban in 1950, that Lee or Smith would have reversed the ban in the 1970′s, or somehow tried to roll it back? That’s some real conspiracy theory stuff, and I can’t believe that you honestly believe that.

  43. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks Bruce (36) for the vivid reminder as to just how much difference there is between the mainstream church and fundamentalists. I’m pretty sure that was your intention, and I’m not being facetious when I say that I hope y’all will continue to remind the world that you think we’ve got it wrong on race, gender and myriad other issues.

    Please don’t turn this into a threadjack on who is better living the principles Joseph Smith taught. That’s an argument for another thread. I appreciate the reminder of why I should be grateful I’ve followed the line of prophets and series of revelations that has led up to Thomas S. Monson.

    Now back to our regular programming …

  44. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    “Are you saying that if McKay had changed the ban in 1950, that Lee or Smith would have reversed the ban in the 1970’s, or somehow tried to roll it back?”

    They wouldn’t have to do that for there to be other negative consequences. My Brigham Young quote in #2 says a lot about the idea that men CAN’T drop all the baggage that would prevent inspiration all at once. I think the Lord wanted his entire leadership to not only accept this revelation on faith and reasoning but feel it and believe it to the core — unless they did as a body, neither would the members. Obviously, it took until 1978 to get that.

  45. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Just slightly off topic. A second ago, I got this image of Harold B. Lee passing through to the other side in 1973, where someone like Adam or Joseph Smith greets him and says, “Harold, I know the timing was unexpected, but we have a great work here that only a prophet can do. The Lord has asked me to send you to serve as a counselor in the presidency of the African lineage mission. The work has been exploding for quite some time, and we need to get ready for the coming temple work. Please report immediately to President Elijah Able. Any questions?”

  46. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Oh, Lorin, that is priceless.

  47. February 17, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    In the end, what I’m saying is that I can picture quite easily God saying, while figuratively throwing His hands in the air, “Fine, if you’re going to rely on the arm of flesh on this one (by citing non-Mormon justifications like the seed of Cain and ignoring the fact that Joseph ordained black men), then go ahead and do it. I won’t change it until all of you are ready to accept it unanimously – and until nearly all who were behind the justifications are dead.” I think that meshes quite well with Pres. McKay’s experience.

    I think the problem with this kind of explanation is that it’s white-centered. It seems to be based entirely on the needs of white church members. Where do the needs of black people fit in this kind of scenario?

  48. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Ray-
    “Personally, I like the BRM statement that ALL the previous justifications were wrong and Elder Oaks’ (I think) statement that we need to make sure those justifications are not taught anymore in any form. I don’t think it was God’s will, plain and simple. Again, I might be wrong, but that is the most charitable view, imo.”

    What is the best way to find these statements? I would love to get a hold of them. Also, in relation to these statements, what specifically is not to be taught anymore in any form?

  49. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    #47 – kuri, When prophets rely on their own understanding, people suffer. I believe that has happened many times throughout history. That’s not basing things on needs; it’s basing things on reality. I personally believe we (white members) deprived our black siblings of the full blessings of the Gospel and the Church, and, in doing so, we failed God. I think it was “our fault”. I think we should accept and admit it, not try to justify it.

    Jen, I’ll look again for the quotes and post them here when I find them.

  50. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    From the PBS documentary –

    Marlin Jensen:

    Q. What is that folklore that troubles people?

    A. “The essential idea is that somehow in the life before this life, through some conduct on the part of black people, they were less worthy and had to spend some probationary time waiting then for the priesthood to be given to them. I think it’s that idea that somehow they came here with some inherent disability, spiritually speaking, and that bothers them. It would bother me, too. And I don’t think it’s true. I think those were theories that were advanced, but I don’t think there’s any scriptural or doctrinal justification for them.”

    Jeffrey R. Holland:

    “We don’t pretend that something wasn’t taught or practice wasn’t pursued for whatever reason. But I think we can be unequivocal and we can be declarative in our current literature, in books that we reproduce, in teachings that go forward, whatever, that from this time forward, from 1978 forward, we can make sure that nothing of that is declared. That may be where we still need to make sure that we’re absolutely dutiful, that we put [a] careful eye of scrutiny on anything from earlier writings and teachings, just [to] make sure that that’s not perpetuated in the present. That’s the least, I think, of our current responsibilities on that topic. …”

    Full text of issue: http://www.pbs.org/mormons/themes/prohibition.html

  51. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Elder McConkie:

    Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    (”All Are Alike unto God” – BYU devotional – August 18, 1978)

  52. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    hawkgrrl-
    “I’m not familiar with that, but if it’s interesting, maybe you would like to enlighten us all through a guest post/book report.”
    I would like to find those statements that Ray is referring to above and see if they are referring to some of the things I have read up to this point in the book. There is a statement by the First Presidency addressing the Negro Question (dated August 17, 1951) in the book and also an explanation, written to a member by David O. McKay, that addresses their issue with Negroes not being able to hold the priesthood. It would make an interesting post…..just probably not written by me! I’m a great dancer though! :)

  53. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Dallin H. Oaks (in the PBS interview):

    I can’t remember any time in my life when I felt greater joy and relief than when I learned that the priesthood was going to be available to all worthy males, whatever their ancestry. I had been troubled by this subject through college and my graduate school, at the University of Chicago where I went to law school. I had many black acquaintances when I lived in Chicago, the years ’54 through ’71. I had many times that my heart ached for that, and it ached for my Church, which I knew to be true and yet blessings of that Church were not available to a significant segment of our Heavenly Father’s children. And I didn’t understand why; I couldn’t identify with any of the explanations that were given. Yet I sustained the action; I was confident that in the time of the Lord I would know more about it, so I went along on faith.

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/background-information/elder-dallin-h-oaks-reaction-to-priesthood-revelation

    Interview with Associated Press, in Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, 5 June 1988:

    Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that…. The lesson I’ve drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it.

    …I’m referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking.

    …Let’s [not] make the mistake that’s been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent.

  54. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you Ray! It has been interesting as I have skimmed through many old books that were handed down to me. My favorite is the book I found on motherhood and the role of women which was written in the 50′s. YEE HA!

    I really appreciate you taking the time to find those quotes…..it helps me to know what to do with my inherited “Mormonism and the Negro” book, although I already was leaning that direction anyway.

  55. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    More from Elder Holland in the PBS interview:

    One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. … I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. … They, I’m sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. …

    It probably would have been advantageous to say nothing, to say we just don’t know, and, [as] with many religious matters, whatever was being done was done on the basis of faith at that time. But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. … At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that doctrine existed. I think, to the extent that I know anything about it, as one of the newer and younger ones to come along, … we simply do not know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place.

    http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/holland.html

  56. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Pres. McKay in 1954:

    There is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse. There is no doctrine in the church of any kind pertaining to the negro. We believe that we have a scriptural precedent for withholding the priesthood from the negro. It is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice someday will be changed. And that’s all there is to it.

    “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism”

  57. mh
    February 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    ray and lorin and others,

    while I agree that GA’S Are human, I think you have swung the pendulum too far. it seems that you are implying that Lee, Smith and others are much more racist than I think they deserve. I think their families would find your analysis unusually harsh toward these men.

  58. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I hope those help, Jen. I’m not going to look for more right now.

    Personally, I believe the last quote was a direct result of Pres. McKay’s prayers. I believe he was assured by the Lord that it would happen. I also believe he knew why it couldn’t happen during his tenure, but that is personal speculation.

  59. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    mh,
    I think they were charitable, loving, compassionate men and it had more to do with the society they lived in than anything else. I think they were seeking to understand the issue….that is all.

  60. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    mh, I’m not saying they were racist. I have said that about Pres.Young, and I believe it about him. I never once addressed Pres. Lee and Pres. Smith, and I have never called them as racist as Brigham Young at the end of their lives. I believe they definitely were racist by our modern standard, and I don’t see how anyone can argue convincingly otherwise, but I don’t think they were nearly as racist at the end of their lives as they were in 1950. Franky, that not shocking at all to me.

    I agree with Elder Holland’s quote in #55:

    “They, I’m sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong.”

  61. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Ray,
    I can’t thank you enough for getting those quotes. When I read them it felt as if a breath of fresh air went through me. I am excited to get rid of the old (books,etc.) and cling to the new. Thanks again.

  62. February 17, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Picking up where Ray left off, I’m kind of speculating–wondering really–if I had been alive before the Revelation was received, AND I happened to hold my current opinion (that the ban was not insituted by God, but rather He honored the agency of Brigham Young to institue it, being that Brigham was a product of his times, even though Joseph Smith had ordained several black men to the priestood), would I have needed to remain silent? Even though I believe the way I do, but we technically don’t “officially” know why–would I have been chastised for offering my opinion, even though those who tried to give shape/context/reasons for the ban were not chastised for offering theirs?

  63. February 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    And for the record, I agree with Ray pratically to the “T” on all of this. However, Ray, what was your thinking and experience while the ban was still in place?

  64. February 17, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    “All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. …”

    The thing that’s hard for me is that General Authorities are not supposed to be “wrong”. Their explanations of something like blacks and the priesthood are not supposed to be racist and bigoted since they’re prophets, seers and revelators along with the First Presidency. I guess it explains the attitudes of elders and companions I served with in New England in the mid 60s and the attitudes of some of the leadership in the mission. What it does for me is raise a lot of doubt about men like Mark E Petersen and Elder McConkie that took it upon themselves to speak openly and explicity about something that we completely disavow now. It’s fine to say that that was then and now is now but I grew up then and had to lie to black people that we inadvertantly contacted. And I had to put up with the open disdain of a companion when I didn’t share his disgust at seeing a black man and white woman together on the street. I’m sorry but this isn’t going to go away until all of us that grew up then are dead and no one even remembers what the church was like before 1978.

  65. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    #63 – I didn’t understand it, but I lived in lily white rural Utah County growing up – so it just didn’t register as something I actually had to try to figure out for myself. That came later, as I attended college, had lots of black friends, moved to the Deep South, grappled with the lingering effects (both in my ward and as a member of the Stake Mission Presidency), etc.

    I posted a long account of an experience I had then and my general thoughts as a result of that experience on Times and Seasons awhile ago. I’ll find it and add the link to this comment when I do.

    The link is here: Blacks and the Priesthood, A Request to the Media

    My comment is #165 -the long one, anyway. I commented a lot on that thread, as if that’s a surprise. :)

  66. February 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    #65-that makes sense. That probably would have been me as well. (I look forward to you posting the link). Now, back to my first comment (#62) do you care to speculate about if you had your current understanding/knowledge back then how things might have been different? Just a curious thought. I wonder about what it would be like to time travel from today back to that time, and how I would have been received…

  67. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    “it seems that you are implying that Lee, Smith and others are much more racist than I think they deserve.”

    I don’t have hard feelings toward any of these men. President Lee in particular I believe did incredible good on the Lord’s behalf. He was very passionate about whatever he did, and that included some very passionate discourse on racial issues that President McKay tried to eliminate from the brethren’s discourse. He said some really cringe-worthy things that I think he believed in the bottom of his heart were correct.

    My vignette in comment 45 is my imagined view of how the Lord would have handled President Lee’s conversion to the equality principle in the next life, the implication being: “Well done, Harold, we’re glad to have a man of your gifts and talents on this side of the veil. We presume you’ll serve the Lord’s children under your new stewardship with the same dedication great spirit you exhibited time and again. We trust you’ll love these spirits as much as you loved those you left behind, and we discern that further elaboration would be redundant. Please report back regularly.”

    If I had hard feelings toward everyone who ever held on to wrong beliefs, I’d hate myself and despise every human being on earth. I revere Lee, Smith, Young and all, cherished wrong notions and all. Sorry if that hasn’t been clear.

  68. February 17, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Well said, Lorin.

  69. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    The thing that’s hard for me is that General Authorities are not supposed to be “wrong”.

    Fwiw, GB, I’ve never believed or been taught that, which is why I have an easier time reconciling this issue.

  70. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    #66 – I have no idea, but I was young enough that I probably would have been ignored. :)

  71. Holden Caulfield
    February 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    GB Smith-couldn’t agree more.

    In Prince’s book on Pres McKay, his racism is explored from his diary. On his mission he writes how little regard he had for black people. Pres Lee expresses his anger at blacks not being excluded from BYU and how he will blame those in charge if a granddaughter married a black.

  72. February 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Remember that President McKay said that when the Lord calls a man to be a prophet, he doesn’t unmake the man. Nevertheless, “whom the Lord calls he qualifies”. Note, he doesn’t make the prophet infallible.

  73. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Just to clarify. Ray, Last Lemming, and Lorin have all claimed that the church wasn’t ready for blacks to hold the priesthood in 1950. This implies that members of the church would have revolted if McKay had tried to force the issue. Ray has said he doesn’t know if GA’s would have rebelled. “I’m not sure what would have happened in 1950.” Last Lemming implies Lee and Smith “would have quietly (and perhaps even subconsciously) undermined it once they became president of the Church .” Lorin says “I think Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee probably had much more distance to travel on that issue than BRM.”

    This is not a ringing endorsement of these men, and I think their families would take issue with your lack of faith in them as leaders. I am telling you that I think these 3 men would have followed the prophet on this issue (if McKay had reversed the ban), just as Bruce R McConkie followed Pres Kimball. I suspect their wives and children would agree with me.

    Now I think we all agree that the priesthood ban was founded on racist folklore. Brigham Young, Mark Peterson, and Bruce R McConkie all said things that we all wish hadn’t been said. They are not bad men, but the policy was a bad policy. God allowed it to happen, just as he allows all sorts of bad things to happen.

    DJinn, thanks for the link to BCC about Jesus not condemning slavery. That was an eye-opener to me, and something I had not considered. I just want to quote some of the interesting comments there:


    Kevin Barney Says:
    The Greek word doulos means “slave,” but is almost always given a softened rendering in the KJV, “servant,” as in “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.”

    So here’s an interesting thought exercise. Next time you read in the NT, replace every occurrence of “servant” with “slave,” and see how the tone shifts for you.

    Ronan Says:
    “Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.”
    Also, we are often told that Jesus “bought” us.

    Doc Says:
    “He that is greatest among you shall be your slave”

  74. hawkgrrrl
    February 17, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    mh – “it seems that you are implying that Lee, Smith and others are much more racist than I think they deserve. I think their families would find your analysis unusually harsh toward these men.” And sexist! But so were my parents (who have worked hard to overcome it) and many others from previous generations. If that offends their relations, too bad. I’m not offended when it’s pointed out that something my parents said was sexist or racist when in fact it was. That doesn’t excuse my shortcomings or invalidate the good things they did. Abraham Lincoln made racist statements, too. It doesn’t invalidate his contribution to emancipation, but the statements were wrong.

  75. Lorin
    February 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    MH,

    I can’t speak for Ray or Last Lemming, but I don’t get the sense that you understand my statements the way I intended. You may think McConkie turned 180 degrees in 1978 and so could anyone, but I don’t think so. I think there was a real softening process that went on in the intervening 20 or 30 years, due both to the unfolding of the civil rights era and due to the persuasions of other members of the 12. He may have still have thought on May 31, 1978 differently than he did on June 1, but I suggest he had a much more nuanced understanding of the issues on May 31, 1978 than he did in, say, 1949.

    Had McKay announced the change in 1950, I’m sure all the above brethren would have accepted it as true, as would probably the majority of the church. But you think and behave differently when you accept a challenging new idea on faith alone than you do when you have faith, understanding, a desire to believe, and a strong conviction that it is right.

    I said nothing about the righteousness and faithfulness of these GAs. I simply think the Lord’s process of conversion — members dancing in the streets in 1978 rather than biting their tongues in 1951 — must have been for a wise reason.

  76. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I think people are concentrating on the word “racist” way too much.

    My point is to look at whether they would have followed the prophet. Who here really has a testimony that Lee and Smith would have revolted in the same was as Cowley and Taylor in 1905-6?

  77. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Lorin,

    I think you’ve characterized our different perceptions well. Certainly there were GA’s who bit their tongues after the 2nd Manifesto, but the revelation stuck, and the members followed. I was born in the late 60′s so perhaps my understanding of the 50′s is naive, but I can’t believe that it would have caused as much divisiveness as the 2nd Manifesto. Anyone who could remember the 2nd manifesto is long dead. We have nobody alive who can compare the church in 1905, 1950, and 2009.

  78. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    MH, I’ve already said I don’t know. Do you really want me to say it in sixteen different ways? :)

    Of course, I think they would have accepted it and followed Pres. McKay, but I’m not sure they could have let go of the racist folklore – and that, imo, was absolutely critical to lifting the ban. The folklore was even more insulting than the ban, frankly, and I believe firmly that nearly 30 years of civil rights and understanding and exposure and racial progress was extremely important in letting go of the justifications.

    Consider this: We still have some members who believe the folklore even 30 years AFTER the ban was lifted; do you really think most members could have dismissed it 30 years BEFORE the revelation was received?

  79. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    If the ban had been lifted in 1950, perhaps we would be farther along in the process of rejecting the racist folklore, and that’s not a bad thing. We would have also been ahead of the civil rights movement of the 1960′s. That’s not a bad thing either.

    I’m not sure I follow your logic. If members in 2009 still believe in racist folklore, why would it be critical to lifting the ban in 1978 or 1950? It seems to me to be unrelated.

  80. February 17, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    “The folklore was even more insulting than the ban, frankly”

    Amen.

  81. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Please specify exactly what is meant by racist folklore. What does it encompass?

  82. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Jen, as Pres. McKay summarized it so well (comment #56), it is that “the negroes are under a divine curse”.

    Marlin Jensen also summarized it (comment #50) as:

    “The essential idea is that somehow in the life before this life, through some conduct on the part of black people, they were less worthy and had to spend some probationary time waiting then for the priesthood to be given to them.”

    It’s important to point out that even McConkie couldn’t let go fully of the folklore, since he never did remove it from Mormon Doctrine. That’s the biggest reason I wish that book would be discontinued and removed from the bookshelves of all stores.

  83. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Ray-

    That is what I assumed, but I wanted to make sure that I was on the same page. I remember my institute teacher teaching us that very concept in class one day (that blacks were less worhty in the pre existence). When it comes to the pre existence it is a very curious subject. My patriarchal blessing specifically talks about me before this life. I wonder if that is typical. What do we know for sure about the life before this life?

  84. February 17, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    would I have needed to remain silent? … I think so.

    If I had hard feelings toward everyone who ever held on to wrong beliefs, I’d hate myself and despise every human being on earth.

    That is the seed of an excellent post. You need to write it up, or if you don’t, maybe I will.

    I’ve already said I don’t know. Do you really want me to say it in sixteen different ways? :)

    That sounds like me ;)

  85. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    MH, I’m saying that I’m not sure if those who would have accepted the revelation in 1950 only grudgingly would have dug in their heels and continued the justifications – in the case of Elders Lee and Smith into their presidencies. I don’t know, but I can envision that result quite easily – and that would not have been good at all.

    Ultimately, I believe Pres. McKay’s description of the answer to his prayers, and I believe the revelation to lift the ban actually was a real revelation. Therefore, I believe there had to be SOME reason it wasn’t lifted earlier. I don’t know what that reason was; in reality, I really don’t know. However, I can think of various possibilities that make sense to me, and it’s important to me personally that those possibilities exist – because, like Nephi, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”

    Most of my own speculation has been the result of trying to understand the ban and its cessation in light of that perspective.

  86. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I think there are a good number of members in the church who don’t want to hold onto the folklore but they have a need to put some type of understanding in its place. To say that is it racist folklore is a great relief, but then what? How do those who grew up with this belief system view it after letting go of the past?

  87. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    “Therefore, I believe there had to be SOME reason it wasn’t lifted earlier. I don’t know what that reason was; in reality, I really don’t know. However, I can think of various possibilities that make sense to me, and it’s important to me personally that those possibilities exist”

    If not to personal in nature…what are some of the possibilities that make sense to you?

  88. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    It’s really a shame that institute teachers are still teaching that blacks were less worthy in the pre-existence. Perhaps this could have ended 30 years sooner…

  89. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    MH-
    That was my experience 20 years ago but I still remember that day quite well. Hopefully it has changed by now.

  90. hawkgrrrl
    February 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Jen – Some of the racist folklore was simply lifted directly out of Protestantism – the belief that blacks were the sons of Ham (progenitor of all Egyptians and therefore all Africans) and that they sinned against their father Noah by seeing his nakedness when he was drunk. Mormons took that one further and said that Ham attempted to steal the secrets of the priesthood by seeing his father’s nakedness (e.g. his garments of the priesthood). The fact that this was misapplied into Mormonism is especially silly since we believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression; it also implies that not having the priesthood is a punishment for sin, when the priesthood is a tool for service and doesn’t elevate the holder directly. But it was a teaching BY brought over from his Protestant background as did other early converts to the church. Once they had made their statements, others were loath to contradict them.

  91. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Jen,

    I echo Hawkgrrl’s comments. On my blog I have a great quote from Margaret Young, who is a real expert on this subject. Margaret has a great quote on prophetic infallibility.

    “We don’t believe in the infallibility of prophets. We think that Brigham Young did some remarkable things in leading the Mormons on that great, historic migration, but he was blind in certain aspects. There is just no question about it. I used the word ‘evolution’ before when talking about Joseph Smith. I see us as a church evolving, consistent with what Joseph Smith talked about in the King Follett discourse, when he talked about, you climb up a ladder in your knowledge. We certainly refer to it in the temple, as we get better. We learn things. We grow from our infancy into our boyhood. We grow from our boyhood (or girlhood) into manhood and womanhood. I’m now 50, and you’d think that I would have figured out a whole lot of stuff, and I still am absolutely flummoxed by situations.

  92. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    That’s a fabulous quote, MH. It’s typical of Margaret and one of the reasons I LOVE reading what she writes.

    Margaret and Darius Young (the founder of the Genesis Group for black Mormons and a GREAT man) have produced an amazing DVD called, “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons” that will leave you speechless. It is heart-breaking AND faith-affirming, and that’s not an easy task. The testimony of Paul Gill, particularly, floored me. (“The Lord stomped on me and said, ‘It’s cool.’”) I can’t watch even the trailer without getting emotional.

    It is available for $20 (+ $5 S&H) at the bottom of their website:

    http://www.untoldstoryofblackmormons.com/

  93. Jen
    February 17, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    I know Brigham Young had a lot to say about a lot of things. I think if a prophet were to say….”you know, I really don’t know the answer to that” a lot of people might fall apart. We are so ingrained growing up in the church to “follow the prophet” that there isn’t a lot of room left to even consider that he is a man, he has weaknesses and not everything he says is doctrine.

  94. MH
    February 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Jen,

    Surely you speak the truth!

    It is interesting to me that people attack Hinckley and Monson for not providing new revelation. These same people attack Brigham Young and Joseph Smith for providing revelations and explanations.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  95. Ray
    February 17, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    #87 – Jen, it’s hard for me to be concise about anything :) but it’s hard especially about this topic. If you read the link to my comment on the Times & Seasons thread I referenced in #65 you’ll get a good look at how I frame the overall issue and the singular experience that really slingshot my contemplation of the overall issue. It’s hard to overstate how powerful that experience was for me.

    In a nutshell (I hope), here are my best guesses at the moment:

    1) Joseph ordained black men to the Priesthood. That is indisputable in any intelligent way.

    2) Brigham Young and most of the early saints were steeped in racism growing up. “The incorrect traditions of our fathers” are hard to shake, especially when they are so commonly shared.

    3) The single most fundamental prejudice of the time was inter-racial marriage – even without the possibility of it being eternal.

    4) Brigham seems to have supported the ordination of those few black men who received the Priesthood.

    5) When a black Priesthood holder appeared to be about to marry a white woman in the temple, Brigham (and most members) couldn’t take it. It was too much for them to consider it as a legitimate possibility. Brigham, particularly, was irate and vowed it wouldn’t happen.

    6) They constructed a quasi-scriptural justification (based on the common and widespread Protestant beliefs of their upbringing and the current time) to put a ban in place, and a few people spoke of hearing Joseph make statements that would support it – his previous actions in ordaining black men notwithstanding. (BY never claimed direct, personal revelation on the subject; rather, he said, “The Lord has spoken” – and used the scriptural justifications.) NOTE: I’m NOT saying this was done intentionally, knowing that it wasn’t inspired. I’m saying I think they never considered seeking revelation, since it seemed obvious and apparent to them given the assumptions of their upbringing.

    7) Other apostles over the years tweaked and added to the original justification, bringing, for example, the uniquely Mormon concept of the pre-existence into it by claiming black people had been less valiant in the pre-existence and, therefore, were unworthy of the Priesthood in this life. (That is what Pres. McKay and Elder Jensen addressed in their comments quoted above.)

    8 ) The membership, by and large, bought into the justifications – even as some of the apostles and members never did. In many people’s eyes, it became “doctrine”; for those like Pres. McKay who recognized it didn’t originate through revelation, it was viewed merely as “policy”. Those who saw it as doctrine outnumbered those who saw it as policy.

    9) By the 1940′s and 1950′s, many people’s attitudes in the country had started to change, and Pres. McKay thought it might be time to change the policy. He prayed fervently about it, but the Lord told him it wasn’t the proper time yet. Importantly, Pres. McKay never said the Lord told him the ban was “His will” or “correct” or anything like that. He simply said it wasn’t the proper time yet to lift the ban.

    10) By the late 1970′s the Church was in a situation where it simply couldn’t grow and produce future leaders in Brazil and other Western Hemisphere countries (and Africa) without ordaining black men to the Priesthood. This reality weighed heavily on the minds of the FP and the 12, as they were well aware of the growth limitations AND potential in those areas and as they were faced with abundant evidence of very faithful black members who didn’t appear to be cursed by God in any reasonable way – much like Paul’s dilemma with circumcision among the Gentiles of his missions. It also reinforced the beliefs of the “younger generation” who were not predisposed to accept the folklore and more disposed to see it as Pres. McKay had seen it – and as Pres. Kimball saw it.

    My own speculation:

    A) The decision had been made without seeking direct, personal revelation, so the Lord waited until (practical) unanimity could be reached before stopping the policy. (Kind of like the people of Limhi needing to suffer more than the people of Alma before each group was delivered from their respective captors.)

    B) Those who had been the most steeped in hardcore racism (not just the justifications for the ban) had to die before the ban was lifted – much like the people of Israel who built the golden calf needing to pass away before the group could enter the Promised Land. (Hence, my use of the Jacob 5 allegory – pruning the bitter fruit according to the strength of the roots.)

    C) Elder McConkie gets a bad rap, even unthinkingly by me sometimes when I’m not careful with my wording. He wasn’t racist in one important way – in that he didn’t dislike or disapprove of black people in general; he simply was a forceful proponent of the folklore. I know that is splitting hairs to a degree, but I believe he was being “loyal” to the leadership, especially since his father-in-law was a Prophet and someone he revered – a great influence in his life. Perhaps he never fully “repented” (meaning simply “changed fully”), since he never removed the folklore from Mormon Doctrine, but he was able to rejoice in the revelation – since he really wasn’t a hardcore racist at heart. That left only Mark E. Peterson as the champion of the ban and its fundamental racism, and he was only six years from passing away by 1978. (I’ll equate him with the fact that handful of adults at the time of the golden calf were allowed to enter the Promised Land. It’s a stretch, but it’ll do – since the actual balance in 1978 would have been 14-1 in the FP and the 12 when you put McConkie in the approving category.)

    That’s my concise version. :D Nobody wants to hear my full version here. I’m fairly confident with most of it, but I also certainly am open to it being tweaked over time. If, at some future time, I find out I was wrong all along, I hope I’ll take it like a mature adult and admit it openly and readily – but my experience I described at Times and Seasons makes me doubt I’m wrong on the most basic point that the ban was not God’s will.

  96. February 17, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I’m very much at peace with your theory, Ray.

  97. James
    February 18, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Ray excellent and concise summary -its hard not to agree with any of it.

    I think most members views are that god and his apostles are infallible. Especially when it comes to something this big. You would imagine that God would telling Brigham in a dream or a visitation that “this is my church your my mouth piece and I am not a biggated God stop it immediately or you and my restored church won’t receive a drop of inspiration or revelation through you my appointed prophet”

    Were taught that if we want further light and knowledge we need to repent of our sins. I think many feel that this was a huge one not to be repented of and for many it has probably made them question the whole prophetic mantle and the validity of the church ie how could god allow men like Brigham Young and Mark E Peter son who are praying constantly to do Gods will and speak on his behalf not to go off on such bizarre tangents.

    Many say the church wouldn’t have grown if we hadn’t adopted the priesthood views of banning black members and God realized this so the church could grow. Others view this if this is so of a god with little integrity.

    The official “explanation” offered these days for denying the priesthood to blacks is that “we don’t know.”

    In the absence of all such knowledge, certainly the safest thing for a Church member or leader to say today is that “we don’t know.” It is also a good public relations tactic, since it has the effect of changing the subject before it gets complicated.

    Yet it is also somewhat disingenuous to say that we don’t know, and it is certainly an unsatisfactory response to any of our converts, investigators, or youth who are conscientiously troubled by this chapter in our history, especially if they are black.

    The fact is that we do have a lot more relevant historical knowledge than would be indicated by the we-don’t-know response. This knowledge, furthermore, is based on authoritative historical research by responsible scholars, to which I have alluded in the hypothetical conversation just summarized.

  98. Holden Caulfield
    February 18, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I don’t believe the ban was God’s will nor do I believe that waiting on whitey to deem our black brethren good enough people to join in the Priesthood was His will. The fact that they went without the Priesthood for so long (or at all) made any celebration over the lifting the ban meaningless to me.

  99. February 18, 2009 at 10:13 am

    RE #98

    What he said.

  100. Jen
    February 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Thanks Ray for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it. I am looking forward to pondering over what you have said and taking it to the Lord. I know that our minds comprehend so little and the Lord can open our minds to “see” so much more. It sounds like you have had a wonderful spiritual experience in relation to this specific topic. I have had personal experience in which the Lord allowed me to believe something very important to me personally that ended up not being ETERNAL truth. It wasn’t until later in my life that He unveiled to me the eternal truth and it was painful to realize that up until then, I had believed something that was necessary for me to believe to get through that time, but was not the ETERNAL truth. I can say that had that eternal truth been given to me earlier, I wouldn’t have accepted it.

    In relation to the priesthood ban, I think it it possible that the ETERNAL truth has always been that blacks were worthy to recieve the priesthood from the very beginning, but because of our racist society, many were unable to accept this eternal truth at that time. It was definately not fair, nor acceptable, but the Lord had to work with the people from where they were at during that time. As we came to understand the ETERNAl truth about the priesthood and blacks, our society was in a much better place to accept it. There is always sadness when we look back and see the sacrifice that many have had to make in order to bring forward eternal truth and to have it accepted. The Lord has to incorporate the consequences of the Fall into His plan and He knows if He gives us eternal truth to soon, it could be rejected completely if it is the wrong time.

    I know that is a very simple way to look at it and there are strong feelings associtated with this topic, but it is one way to look at it coming from my own personal experience with the Lord.

  101. Ray
    February 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    #98 –

    I don’t believe the ban was God’s will nor do I believe that waiting on whitey to deem our black brethren good enough people to join in the Priesthood was His will.

    AMEN, Holden – on both accounts.

    The fact that they went without the Priesthood for so long (or at all) made any celebration over the lifting the ban meaningless to me.

    I can’t agree totally with this, however. There were a lot of people in the church (A LOT) who were very troubled by the ban, who didn’t understand it and who prayed fervently that it would be lifted. We focus on Pres. McKay and Pres. Kimball, but there were MANY average members who prayed regularly that it be discontinued. I’m not about to dismiss their deep and heartfelt joy, just because I disagreed with the policy. The individuals weren’t the institution, and the celebration by the individuals was real and genuine – and important, imo.

    I understand the overall sentiment and bitterness, but calling such joy “meaningless” . . . Honestly, I can’t go that far – especially since I know quite a few black members for whom that honest joy and “celebration” meant the world. They cried and rejoiced WITH EACH OTHER; how can that be meaningless?

  102. Ldsatty
    February 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I am a first-time poster. I joined the Church and served a mission before the ban was lifted. This subject is more difficult for me now than when the ban was in affect. I guess I’ve changed. What bothers me the most is that I think the Lord would have shared with his prophet the idea that it is wrong to discriminate against someone based on the color of their skin. The Prince book on DOM set me back a bit because until I read that, I thought the ban was by revelation and not by policy. I could accept revelation easier because it was coming from God and I don’t fully understand His ways. But I think I understand racism and how that entered into policies both in and out of the Church back then. Perhaps the Lord did have a good reason to allow the Church to continue what I now consider to be a flawed and racist policy. But it is hard for me to accept that.

  103. Holden Caulfield
    February 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Ray-meaningless to me. The history of of the ban is such a sordid mess, for lack of a better term, God didn’t seem to have much to do with it. Again, to me. I’m happy for the five blacks (an exaggeration) who overcame the discrimination. But the millions who were shunned, and now have no interest in our church, keep getting in my mind’s eye.

    We spoke yesterday of our integrated status. While in theory we may be integrated (I understand the word), from a practical standpoint, it seems like a poor description when we open our church buildings and see no blacks.

    Thank you for your time on this website. I feel guilty sometimes when I spend most of my time venting and people like you have posted items that require time and thought. Still, some things are too painful for me to be generous in my words.

  104. Ray
    February 18, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    some things are too painful for me to be generous in my words.

    I understand that completely, Holden, and I respect it.

  105. February 18, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I guess I should ask everyone what they think about God in the time of Moses and the Priesthood ban that pretty much kept the priesthood to the tribe of Levi. What does that say about limitations in latter times?

  106. MH
    February 18, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Let me ask why did God limit the preaching of the gospel to the Jews only?

  107. GBSmith
    February 18, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Stephen M

    I hope this isn’t a serious question.

  108. Lorin
    February 19, 2009 at 7:22 am

    GBSmith,

    I don’t want to make light of your concerns, because I agree that there was nothing fair about African Americans having no access to the priesthood for no good reason for 150 years, and to be told it was because they were less worthy before they came to earth. It’s a serious issue all on its own terms, and it’s embarrassing.

    But Stephen M’s question does point to the fact that virtually NOBODY out of the estimated 80 billion human beings who have come to earth has had access to the priesthood. The whole plan of salvation seems to have from the outset been that for most of humanity, participation in the plan would involve knowing nothing whatsoever of the plan in mortality, learning the gospel in the much more expansive post-mortal/pre-resurrection realm, and that priesthood and ordinances would be primarily a pre-judgment Millennial endeavor.

    Asking why one worthy subset of humanity was denied the priesthood for 150 years is a valid question, especially when the reasons appear to have been entirely human error. But those questions are still a subset of the question “why has virtually all of humanity been denied access to the priesthood in mortality?” Or perhaps after a reading of Jacob 5, “Why did this tiny, pathetic subset of humanity get to have access to the priesthood before everyone else gets it?”

    That doesn’t render moot any of the questions or concerns about the priesthood ban; but it does give a little dimension to the “your thoughts are not my thoughts” angle when we consider that 99.7 percent of humanity, from the foundations of the world, doesn’t appear to have been scheduled to get the priesthood until the Millennium.

    The ban was unfair and unjust, but I don’t think any man’s puny arm can upset the Lord’s work nearly as much as we think we can.

  109. February 19, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Let me ask why did God limit the preaching of the gospel to the Jews only?

    Ah, you are starting to find the path of complete speculation, along with what Lorin notes.

    Of perhaps 80 billion (or even just 8 billion — speculation on total numbers varies a great deal) humans over the course of time, far less than 100 million had any access to the Priesthood in this life. Many women wonder why they did not get the Priesthood in the 1970s. An entire sept in the tribes of Israel was consumed by fire for attempting to claim a right to the Priesthood.

    In that context, it makes a fascinating basis for questioning which is how all speculation is based.

    Since participation in the plan would involve knowing nothing whatsoever of the plan in mortality, learning the gospel in the much more expansive post-mortal/pre-resurrection realm, and that priesthood and ordinances would be primarily a pre-judgment Millennial endeavor there are a lot of interesting questions that can be asked.

  110. February 19, 2009 at 8:10 am

    In fact, the wider question is why do so many have access to the Priesthood in the Church, rather than why so few? What are the implications of that change in perspective and administration vis a vis the gospel when it was had by Moses?

  111. February 19, 2009 at 9:53 am

    RE: #110

    In fact the narrower question is why would you, Stephen M., attempt to compare God’s assignment of the priesthood to Levi to the exclusion of the other tribes to man’s exclusion of the priesthood to blacks. I’m assuming it was not a serious question. If it was I’d appreciate reading more of your thinking on the matter.

    As to Loren’s comments above about the numbers of humanity denied access in mortality to the priesthood. How is it that a small subset of Christianity, the LDS church, with fewer than 5 million participating members and even fewer men that hold the priesthood, can hope that they alone by virtue of the authority they hold can administer to all those people the saving ordinances needed for exaltation? The rest of the world is allowed to preach, teach, exhort, and expound but only LDS priesthood holders can baptize, confirm, ordain, bless the sacrament, seal, heal and forgive. I know that those with the faith and with a fund of spiritual experiences can see this as possible and can feel comfortable in the idea that God’s ways are not our ways. But to me if God wanted to see that our sojourn on mortality would give us the best chance for exaltation He would have done it differently. Just speculation, of course.

  112. Holden Caulfield
    February 19, 2009 at 9:57 am

    To me,the math of who has had has a chance to receive the priesthood vs those who have not (a gnat on an elephant’s back) raises the question of the importance of mortality other than receiving a body. If nobody (relatively) has a chance, must not be important, regardless of what the scriptures say.

  113. Jen
    February 19, 2009 at 11:27 am

    “God’s ways are not our ways. But to me if God wanted to see that our sojourn on mortality would give us the best chance for exaltation He would have done it differently.”

    I’m curious how He could do it differently and satisfy you?

  114. Lorin
    February 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

    111, 112,

    I think you’re mixing models here. It helps if you look at Mormon priesthood authority claims from a Mormon worldview, with final judgment taking place only after everyone’s been given equal chances.

    For us, there’s no contradiction between the fact that few on earth have access to the exalting ordinances and the fact that everyone will have access to them. For us, earth is the time to gain a body and gain experience, with the necessary teaching and ordinances becoming available to as many as possible now, and everyone else eventually. Please remember that the “exclusive club” mentality doesn’t work at all under our model. It’s other churches that teach the “you’ve got to die one of us or you’re hosed” doctrines, not ours.

    Therefore, the question “why are we so small in numbers if only we hold the keys of exaltation” is an interesting question but not a damning question, because we don’t view death as the cut-off point before final judgment — by our model, nearly everyone leaves earth with the assurance of a degree of salvation, and for most, death is the starting point for learning and accepting the doctrines and ordinances of exaltation.

    All I’m saying is, Mormon doctrine is internally consistent in questions of the importance of making wise choices in mortality and in the assertion that “all mankind may be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” No other doctrine is as generous or hopeful as ours. Inconsistencies and inequities only show up when you aren’t looking at all 3 acts of our 3-act play all at the same time.

  115. john willis
    February 19, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I would agree more or less with Ray’s comment# 95.It is much better than the cop out than “we don’t know”
    On one of the earlier posts someone mentioned John Stewart’s book Mormonism and the Negro.
    I have an intresting personal experience with that book.
    In 1970 I was a graduate student at Arizona State University in Sociology. One of my professors and the chairman of my Masters committee was Black and knew I was LDS. Another grad student who was an ex-mormon (Sociology as a discpline then to attract them) gave my prof a copy of the book. He asked me about it.I told him I didn’t believe what was in the book and it was not Church Doctrine to me. I ended up taking my prof to a grad. seminar at the LDS insitute at ASY where we discussed the issue. No minds were change but it was an honest discussion.
    I struggled with the issue throughout the 60′s and 70′s . But I had made up my mind that I was going to stick with the Church come what may. I have not regretted my decision then or now.

  116. February 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    This subject is seems to draw a lot of attention with over a hundred comments. If a post is made on important gospel subjects comments are scarce. What are the implication of this?

    Some in the bloggernacle express dismay that their prayers don’t seem to be answered. Could it be that the Lord is far from the thoughts and intends of their heart, and that their spiritual energy is focused on matters that are essentially trivial while the weightier matters: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, acquiring the Holy Ghost, and the doctrine of Christ are seldom mentioned.

    I think we can do better.

  117. holden caulfield
    February 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Lorin–“why are we so small in numbers if only we hold the keys of exaltation” is an interesting question but not a damning question, because we don’t view death as the cut-off point before final judgment.”

    Agreed. My point was simply that earth-life must not be, because of the numbers, all that important for the learning, repentance, obedience cycle since so many are not subjected to this same earth experience after acceptance of the gospel.

  118. Lorin
    February 19, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    “Some in the bloggernacle express dismay that their prayers don’t seem to be answered. Could it be that the Lord is far from the thoughts and intends of their heart”

    Whoa, Cowboy! You’re gonna get slammed for that one if you don’t take it back, and ain’t no one going to rush to your defense!

    I’ve had tons of prayers answered, but I’ll take people at their word if they say they’re praying and not getting answers — a lot of my answered prayers came after long periods of no answer I could discern. If they’re frustrated and confused about such things, well, all I can say is been there/done that and I expect more to come.

    NOBODY can get an answer to a prayer whenever they want one, faith and diligence notwithstanding. If the reason a prayer hasn’t been answered is due to circumstances under the asker’s control, we don’t know these people so we can’t assume that, now, can we?

    Let’s stick to the rich and highly limited realm of ideas and arguments on these forums. Please don’t throw hand grenades in the room like that.

  119. Ray
    February 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Just to echo Lorin:

    Disagreement it fine; heated discussion is fine; almost anything is fine. Accusations about someone’s righteousness are not fine, especially when it comes to things like our hearts not being Christ-centered if we have disagreements or differing experiences.

    Please, everyone, stay focused on the topic of the post and the excellent discussion it has generated.

  120. February 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    118 & 119 Lorin and Ray

    I think you missed my point. I didn’t accuse anyone of anything. I didn’t say that specific people are not getting their prayers answered. I’m observing, not being critical. There is a difference.

    I’m on topic. I’m wondering why the subject at hand is so interesting. It seems that whenever it is touched on there is huge interest. But when other topic that are central to our salvation are touched on, which doesn’t happen all that often, then the comments are sparse in comparison.

    No accusation here, more of a question–wondering.

    I run across comments where people express a concern about receiving answers to their prayers. Could it be there is a connection. I think there might be.

  121. February 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    raises the question of the importance of mortality other than receiving a body very much so. I’ve written extensively on the topic from the viewpoint of grief and suffering, here on Mormon Matters.

    why would one not to compare God’s assignment of the priesthood to Levi to the exclusion of the other tribes to the exclusion of the priesthood …

    What do you accept about the comparison, what do you reject and why?

    I’m looking for questions, not providing answers.

  122. Ray
    February 19, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Jared, accusations often are couched “softly” in observational terms. For example:

    Some in the bloggernacle express dismay that their prayers don’t seem to be answered. Could it be that the Lord is far from the thoughts and intends of their heart, and that their spiritual energy is focused on matters that are essentially trivial while the weightier matters: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, acquiring the Holy Ghost, and the doctrine of Christ are seldom mentioned.

    That is an accusation couched in terms of a thoughtful question. It leaves little doubt that the “correct” answer is believed to be:

    Of course, the reason people can’t get answers to their prayers is because their hearts are far from the Lord – and they would receive answers if only they changed their hearts.

    It is what it is, no matter how it is clothed.

    Please, everyone, let’s not continue this threadjack here. It is worthy of a separate post, but let’s not derail this one.

  123. Hawkgrrrl
    February 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Jared – “This subject is seems to draw a lot of attention with over a hundred comments. If a post is made on important gospel subjects comments are scarce. What are the implication of this?” I’m with Jared on this one. “They strain at a gnat and swallow a camel” certainly applies to the vast majority of b’nacle fare, myself included. Controversy is more fun than perrsonal growth.

  124. Ray
    February 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Ironically, I agree with the quote Hawk referenced. It’s the stated implication that goes overboard.

    and I just contributed to extending the conversation away form the topic of the post. :) I won’t do it again.

  125. February 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Ray–when I wrote my original comment I thought everyone had pretty well finished up on this topic. I didn’t realize it was a “live-thread”. Sorry. Maybe this can be discussed later.

    Hawkgrrl-I don’t know how to enter a smiley face, but if I did I would smile at you now.

  126. Ray
    February 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Faithful Dissident just posted something (“Born to Believe”) that is perfect for this discussion to continue. Excellent timing.

  127. February 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    RE#121

    “why would one not to compare God’s assignment of the priesthood to Levi to the exclusion of the other tribes to the exclusion of the priesthood …

    What do you accept about the comparison, what do you reject and why?

    I’m looking for questions, not providing answers.”

    I don’t understand how you can compare God’s giving the priesthood to Levi and man’s denial of the priesthood to blacks. If you’re not interested in providing answers and are only thinking up questions, then never mind.

    Also Lorin #118, thanks for saying what I feel deep in my heart of hearts.

  128. Holden Caulfield
    February 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    “Controversy is more fun than personal growth.”

    fun also is more fun than personal growth…hawkgrrrl’s “nipples, sexism and racism” posting got 94 comments….surprised that one wasn’t more…

    I hope the quotation mark after “hawkgrrrl’s” is enough separation so as to not distract the reader. I could have structured the sentence another way, I suppose.

  129. Ray
    February 19, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I hope the quotation mark after “hawkgrrrl’s” is enough separation so as to not distract the reader.

    CLASSIC!! I had to go back and re-read the comment to catch the concern, and I absolutely cracked up when I did.

  130. February 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    “I think the difficulty comes in identifying which of all our traditions are “false … and foolish notions,” which of them are more or less benign, and which of them are actually an aid or catalyst to further inspiration.”

    That’s a comment someone left in a branch-off of this discussion. I really thought it fits well with the concept of speculation. The commenter blogs at http://www.deadseriously.net/

  131. Hawkgrrrl
    February 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    LOL!

  132. February 19, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Wow. Whoever made that comment Stephen M just posted is one seriously profound guy. I think we should pay more attention to him. :)

    (Thanks for posting it, Stephen.)

  133. Ray
    February 19, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Scott, I have no idea if the writer is profound ;) but the quote is.

  134. Cicero
    February 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Interesting…

    I’m trying to remember were I read it, but I remember it being a rather reputable source, that towards the end of David O Mckay’s Presidency, that the Twelve met to discuss the priesthood ban and it’s possible reversal. That all but one of the 14 apostles (12 in the quorum and 2 counselors) spoke in favor of removing the priesthood ban. But that Harold B Lee spoke against it on the grounds that such a reversal required revelation from the Lord through His prophet, and that it would not be right to act on such a matter when President McKay was so ill and unable to provide guidance.

    That would mean Joseph Fielding Smith had supported reversing the ban.

    How certain is everyone about where people lined up on the matter?

    I mean I think Bruce R. McKonkie was pretty clear, but how much of the purported positions are because of extrapolations from statements that seem clear to us, but were not so cut and dried to the men who made them?

  135. February 19, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Ray–

    Good fruit cannot come from bad trees, right?

    Cicero…the David O. McKay book (Rise of Modern Mormonism) is sitting about 15 feet from where I am right now, but it’s just too late for me to check on that. If your question is still unanswered in the morning, I’ll get it. But I’ll bet Ray or some other dedicated commenter will beat me to it.

  136. MH
    February 20, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Cicero,

    There were actually 6 people in the First Presidency in 1969. The presidency consisted of:

    Pres McKay,
    1st Hugh Brown 1958 1975
    2nd N Eldon Tanner 1962 1982
    3rd Thorpe Isaacson,
    4th Joseph Fielding Smith 1910 1972 (Pres of Quorum)
    5th Alvin Dyer.

    Isaacson and Dyer hold the distinction of being apostles who were not part of the Quorum of 12. Dyer holds the distinction of being the only person to be ordained an apostle first, and then ordained to be a Seventy (which happened in 1976.)

    Prince outlines that all the apostles present unanimously agreed to lift the ban. We know that Apostle Harold B Lee came back and opposed it, as well as Dyer. Most likely, McKay did as well. It is not clear how Thorpe, Tanner, or Smith responded, or whether they were part of the meetings with the Twelve. Thorpe suffered a stroke in 1966, and may not have been part of the discussions. (His stroke is the reason Dyer was added to the First Presidency.)

    I gather from comments above that Smith probably would have been in the “no” group. It would appear that Mark E Peterson would have voted to lift the ban. This is interesting, because of his comments regarding blacks.

    I count 11 apostles available for the vote in 1969. I’ve included year called to apostleship, and death, so you can count seniority when the First Pres was dissolved upon death of Pres McKay.

    Harold Lee 1941 1973 (Acting Pres of 12, absent for 1st vote)
    Spencer Kimball 1943 1985
    Ezra Benson 1943 1994
    Mark E Peterson 1944 1984
    Delbert Stapley 1950 1978
    Marion Romney 1951 1988
    Legrand Richards1952 1983
    Richard L Evans 1953 1971
    Howard Hunter 1959 1995
    Gordon Hinckley 1961 2008
    Thomas Monson 1963

    Boyd K Packer was called an apostle in 1970 upon death of Pres McKay. Note that Bruce R McConkie was not an apostle until October 12, 1972, so he wouldn’t have been part of the vote either.

    I wasn’t able to determine a 12th apostle. Joseph Fielding Smith was called to the First Presidency in 1965. (If you can’t tell, I’ve done a ton of research on this too.)

  137. Ray
    February 20, 2009 at 12:31 am

    To add one more factor to MH’s summary:

    After Pres. McKay died, Pres. Smith only served for two years – then Pres. Lee served for less than two years (dying of an unexpected heart attack even though he was the youngest president to take office in decades at 73). I don’t think lifting the ban was a priority for either of them, especially since Hugh B Brown (one of the strongest proponents of lifting the ban) was not kept in the presidency of either President Smith or President Lee after Pres. McKay passed away.

  138. February 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I don’t think lifting the ban was a priority for either of them, especially since Hugh B Brown (one of the strongest proponents of lifting the ban) was not kept in the presidency of either President Smith or President Lee after Pres. McKay passed away.

    Not disagreeing, but…correlation = causation? Hmm…

    Although I suppose in the case of the latter, President Lee = causation for correlation

    Just a little correlation committee humor for you, folks. I’ll be here all week.

  139. Hawkgrrrl
    February 20, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Scott: “Just a little correlation committee humor for you, folks. I’ll be here all week.” Love it!

  140. February 20, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    So did I Hawkgrrrl. We need more humor.

  141. February 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    What can I say? Economists supply on demand.

  142. Ray
    February 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    An economist with a sense of humor – the end really is near. Well, that probably would be a banker or accountant right now, but . . .

  143. February 21, 2009 at 12:31 am

    All the economists without senses of humor jumped off bridges right around November I think.

  144. February 22, 2009 at 10:36 am

    The final word, in a way, on this thread is at http://www.untoldstoryofblackmormons.com/

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