My new Bishop is a great guy, but I haven't had an opportunity to sit down and really shoot the breeze with him yet. I do communicate with him quite a bit on calendar and Ward Bulletin items, and occasionally we exchange e-mails on Gospel topics. The other day, for instance, I came a cross the Pres. George Albert Smith response to a letter from a minister in Salt Lake that had been concerned about recent assertions in a Church magazine that First Presidency statements were infallible. The statement in question was "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." Pres. Smith's response is priceless, and says in part:
I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts.I thought this might be good fodder for a 5th Sunday lesson, seeing as how we have some very narrow and prejudiced minds in my Ward. Lots of blind followers, I'm afraid. So I sent the entire letter from the Minister and the G.A.S. response to the Bish and made my recommendations. He responded warmly and positively to it.
Then Sunday rolls around and the Bish corners me to talk about coming in for an interview. Before I could even respond he suddenly notices what I'm wearing and says "Wow! That's the most close-to-white shirt I've seen you wear all year. Maybe we'll see you in a white shirt soon." OK, that was totally unexpected and about threw me off the edge. Since my White Shirt Rebellion a few months ago, I have not worn a white shirt to Church a single time. Nor do I intend to. I can tell that when I do have my interview with this Bishop, I'm going to have to set some things straight with him. My pet peeve is white shirts.
Then to top it all off, we had the incident this past week with Skinny Jeans and BYU-I. I immediately made a post mocking the ridiculousness of this incident, but it really does have me worried about a trend I see growing in the Church, and which is tied to all of my posts lately. Today, I found the perfect quote that sums up my concerns:
“The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism … the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.” – Hugh Nibley in his talk ‘What is Zion?’So, with the current emphasis in the Church on appearance, rules, image, public opinion, and piety; are we Latter-Day Saints, or are we becoming Latter-Day Pharisees? I'm afraid we're headed for the latter, if we're not already there. What do you think?