A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Expecting Big Things

As you may or may not know, the LDS Church will have two new Apostles this weekend. The governing body of the church is the First Presidency (a President and two counselors), and 12 Apostles. The last time vacancies happened was in October 2015, when three new Apostles were called. To the surprise of some, all of the Apostles were white men* from Utah. This time, many are hoping that the new Apostles will be a bit more diverse. As the Church has grown over the past few decades, there are more international members than domestic members, yet the only non-American Apostle is German Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

This post is part of my thought process the last time new Apostles were called. I want to posit that maybe these white men are an opportunity for us to expect more of ourselves. This might just be me "making lemonade with my lemons," but some of the talk around diversity seems to think that only if the Quorum is ethnically diverse can they lead an ethnically diverse church. In a way, this expects very little of white people - it assumes that they cannot empathize or understand the struggles of people of color. 

What should we should ask of our leaders (and ourselves)? That they only represent or understand their own race? Or should we expect more? Maybe we should expect BIG THINGS - that they talk to and understand many viewpoints different from their own. We should expect them to reach out to everyone, to examine their own biases, and truly seek to know God's will. Taken to an extreme (and this is probably a straw man), it would mean that I as a white person would not be well represented by an African (or African American) prophet. That's bogus - I think we should expect more of our leaders. Empathizing with the experiences of others requires listening, and I think that skill transcends race.

All that being said, I am personally rooting for more diversity. I do think there are great benefits to have a more diverse leadership, and it would be healthy to have a bit more diversity of thought and experience in the Quorum of the Twelve. But, if it is two white men, I will be praying for them that they will seek to understand the struggles and challenges of members in *all* situations. For the record, I would choose Gerrit Gong and Joseph Sitati as the new Apostles, but since I don't get a vote, I will just have to watch Conference this weekend!

*Male Apostles were kind of a given, but the whole gendered dynamic of church leadership is a whole 'nother post (or series of posts!).

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