“How to Bury a Prophet”

Times and Seasons had a posting recently that linked to an article by Kathleen Flake called “How to Bury a Prophet”. In the article, she mentions how the family wishes were followed, and how one of President Hinckley’s sons dedicated the grave even though there were so many Church leaders there.

The article is short, but good reading, and the comments at Times and Seasons were also good.

PETA Urges New Mormon President to Promote Humane, Scriptural Vegetarian Diets

Normally when I think of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), I think of them protesting outside a KFC or similar establishment. However, just the other day they issued a press release directed at the Church, and wrote a letter to President Monson. The press release is as follows, followed by the content of the letter (which you can read on their site):

This morning, PETA sent a letter to newly elected Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas Monson wishing him well in his new position and urging him to emphasize God’s requirement to protect His creatures and treat our bodies as sacred gifts by urging all Mormons to go vegetarian.

“As you know, the Doctrine and Covenants states, ‘And [animals] hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger,'” writes PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich, a lifelong Christian, in his letter to Monson. “Adopting a vegetarian diet is a wonderful Christian response to the unholy abuse of billions of animals every year by today’s industrialized meat industry.”

To help Mormons adhere to scripture, achieve better health, and save animals from bleak lives and painful deaths, PETA is offering to work with Monson to design a Mormon-focused version of PETA’s “Vegetarian Starter Kit” to be distributed at various temples and church events.

It might seem like an odd association, but there is a connection there. I don’t think we need to be vegetarians, but I do think we need to be more aware of how we treat all of God’s creatures. The same goes for “green” causes. God created the earth… shouldn’t we care for it? Whatever cause we support, I still don’t think they’ll be handing out a “Vegetarian Starter Kit” at the temple any time soon 🙂

“Mormon Rock Star”

I still have a couple of things that I need to post about President Hinckley…

On Monday, January 28, NPR’s Talk of the Nation covered the passing of President Hinckley. There is an article about this on the NPR site called Mormon Rock Star. You can also download the podcast of that episode. From approximately 1:17:48 to 1:30:08, Howard Berkes, the chief Rural Affairs correspondent (who is based in Salt Lake City) is on. It’s not even 13 minutes long, but I thought it was a positive segment on the Church.

Former Executive Named to Lead Mormon Church

From the New York Times:

An 80-year-old former advertising and publishing executive, Thomas S. Monson, was named on Monday to be the 16th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one week after the death of the previous president, Gordon B. Hinckley.

Mr. Monson’s appointment was expected. Leadership changes in the 13-million member Mormon Church are based on seniority in the upper ranks, which makes the transition free of politics, but also guarantees a certain mantle of age. Mr. Hinckley was 84 when he got the job in 1995. He died at age 97.

In a news conference at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Mr. Monson said he had worked with Mr. Hinckley for more than four decades in various assignments, and hinted at no significant departures.

“He blazed the trail,” Mr. Monson said of his predecessor.

And so the work moves on…

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It really is one of the beautiful things about the Church… a change in the First Presidency is smooth and simple. Today at a press conference (which I watched on the BYU TV web site) it was announced that Thomas S. Monson is the new President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Henry B. Eyring as 1st Counselor and Dieter F. Uchtdorf as 2nd Counselor.

After a statement from each member of the First Presidency, there were questions from the assembled media. President Monson answered almost all of them. Presidents Eyring and Uchtdorf just beamed through the entire thing. The whole press conference was quite nice. They made it quite clear that there would be no major changes in doctrine, and that they would continue to expand across the world.

President Monson, President Eyring, and President Uchtdorf… our prayers are with you all!

60 Minutes interview with President Hinckley

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Last night CBS replayed the 60 Minutes interview that Mike Wallace had with President Hinckley in 1996.

The president and prophet of the Mormon church, Gordon B. Hinckley, died last Sunday at age 97. He was buried Saturday in Salt Lake City. The church broadcast his memorial service around the world in 69 languages.

President Hinckley presided over the global expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, and the fourth largest religion in the United States. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

The church used to be known for polygamy, but it gave up the practice more than 100 years ago when Utah became a state. Faithful Mormons don’t have premarital sex, and they don’t smoke or drink-even coffee is prohibited. And heads of the church did not give interviews, until Hinckley decided to sit down with Mike Wallace 11 years ago. Their conversation began with the beginning of the church: Mormons believe that God and Jesus appeared one day in New York state, before a 14-year-old farm boy.

You can view it online, or download it from the CBS News web site.

“Changing of the guard”

The funeral for President Hinckley was yesterday and it was quite nice. You can view it on BYU.TV still. I was composed through the whole thing until right at the very end. President Monson gave the concluding address, and after quoting “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”, he said, “Gordon, God be with you till we meet again.” There was just something about the way he used his first name as if he were speaking to his friend who was beside him. For some reason that was very touching. Then during the closing song there were pictures of President Hinckley from throughout the years shown. It was all very well done.

I was a little surprised that things were happening so quickly (I thought there might be a few days), but there is already a press release out saying that there will be a press conference tomorrow at 11 am Mountain time announcing the new First Presidency. As President Packer said, we know who it will be. It has always been the senior apostle and will always be the senior apostle. It’ll be interesting to hear what President Monson has to say. I presume that President Eyring will still be in the First Presidency, but who will the other counselor be? President Eyring is one of the most junior apostles, but has experience (however brief) in the First President. Will he be first or second counselor? Will he be first counselor over someone who is a more senior apostle? Will he be second counselor to a more senior apostle, even though he is more “senior” in the First Presidency? Not terribly important, but still interesting to me.

Into the Future

Newsweek has a great article about how the Church picks a new leader, and then about the overall state of the Church:

…”That’s the purpose of a prophet,” Hinckley told NEWSWEEK in 2005. “To answer the questions of the times … The purpose of a prophet is to lead these people through the contemporary thicket through which they walk.” Monson will inherit a church that is vibrant and wealthy, but that faces challenges created in part by its own success…

Compared with the process of picking a pope, choosing a new Mormon prophet is fairly routine. The top leadership of the church consists of a prophet and two counselors—called the First Presidency—and a quorum of 12 apostles. (The two counselors are usually chosen from the quorum, so technically there could be 14 apostles.) Prophets and apostles serve for life. When a prophet dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles collectively becomes the church’s ruling body until a new prophet is “sustained.” The new prophet has always been the most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (determined by length of service as an apostle, not date of birth).

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