Similar to democratic thought, the prophet of the Mormon church has always been considered an ordinary church member. Mormons have a "lay priesthood" which means that ordinary church members lead services, administer the church, and run things on a day to day basis. There aren't professional Mormon priests (although some people do work full time for the church and are paid to do so).
Yet, even though we think Presidents and Prophets as men of the people, we rarely get to meet with them. We "know" them only through the carefully filtered glimpses we see in the media or in second- or third- hand reports. I remember when I visited General Conference (the twice-yearly Mormon conference where the Mormon prophet speaks to all Mormons via satellite). I stood in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle as an 8 year old, firmly convinced that if I could shake the hand of one of the Apostles, I would know the church is true. It's childish, but I think it's a manifestation of a genuine desire to KNOW our leaders.
That's why both of these recent moments resonated:
|President Obama's Fist Bump after the State of the Union|
|Elder David Bednar and Elder L. Tom Perry (two Mormon Apostles) Fist Bump after General Conference|
It's just a simple gesture. But it signifies that these men are JUST. LIKE. US. They're human, not divine. We can relate to them and somehow, we are more willing to listen to what they have to say.
One of my favorite definitions of the word "charity" is that "Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other."* I LOVE that - "Charity is expecting the best in each other"! That's a very divinely democratic idea - hopefully charity can extend to those we believe are divinely inspirited to lead us, as well as to those who are democratically elected to do so.
* From Marvin J. Ashton's Talk, "The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword," April 1992 General Conference