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Gilding the Lily?: Adding Traditions/Customs to Gospel Observances

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18 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Typical, whiny Millennial. ;) 

 

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

I was trying to emphasize avoiding the spirit of contention and prioritizing the role of preserving the sense of community (unity) when seeking to make changes in the customs. I think on some level the spirit of community transcends customs. Of course some are more receptive to that than others. If one feels he is above or excluded by the custom, or that the Lord wants him to say something to challenge or change it, I trust that he will find that opportunity. I'm only addressing the point of view of the one offended, excluded, patronized or ostracized by the custom, not those rigidly holding to or enforcing the custom. But the one offended can still make a difference no matter the motive for or the attitude of any point of "custom-centricity". I believe that one person or a few people can indeed influence their community if the Lord is with them, and if the community refuses to change, at least they have the confidence that the Lord understands, and retain their spirit of forbearance and forgiveness.

I am not fond of traditions. I think it has to do with the Book of Mormon and "foolish traditions".  

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5 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

I see bow ties as way more formal than long ties.  FWIW.  I also see them as whimsical.  Depends who wears it. In reality, I don’t care. 

Bow ties are a big thing in my ward.  We have a lot of men and young men (and boys too I guess) who wear them often.  Even my own husband has one (it's pink), and he's got a full beard and works in the oil and natural gas industry so not a fancy guy at all usually.  :lol:

Another big thing in our ward is weird socks.  A lot of men, including the bishopric, wear really weird socks, like ones with dogs, playing cards, avocados, ice cream cones, etc. 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/13/2019 at 10:23 AM, smac97 said:

Scott Lloyd recently related the following story:

I would like to better understand this phenomenon, as there appear to be at least some "unwritten" customs/traditions that apparently have the imprimatur of the Church.

Here are a few that I have observed to get the ball rolling, in no particular order.  Please let me know if you have observed these in your neck of the Church woods:

  • Bishops and stake presidents, while serving in that capacity, are clean-shaven.
  • Bishopric counselors can have facial hair, as can EQ presidents/counselors, Sunday School presidents/counselors, and YM presidents/counselors.
  • Bishopric members wear a suit in church meetings.
  • Standing when a General Authority enters the room during a church meeting.
  • If a man and a woman are the two speakers in Sacrament Meeting, the man speaks last (this seems to be generally, but not absolutely, observed in my experience).
  • Various formalities pertaining to the blessing and passing of the Sacrament:
    • The person blessing the bread A) uncovers the bread, leaving the water covered by the sacramental sloth, B) kneels, C) recites the prayer while the other person stands, and D) then visually checks with the bishop after reciting the prayers to make sure they were accurately recited (this happens every single time in my ward).
    • The presiding officer receives the bread and water first (the boys/men passing the Sacrament literally wait until this happens before moving to their prescribed positions in the chapel and passing the Sacrament).
    • The boys/men passing the Sacrament line up in a prescribed way and are given a prescribed area of the chapel to go to for passing the Sacrament.
    • Those receiving the Sacrament (usually) take the bread with the right hand (this one does not seem to be enforced or anything, and instead just seems like a widely-observed custom).
    • When the boys/men complete passing the bread, they assemble in a prescribed order in two lines at the back of the chapel, so that when they walk to the front of the chapel and arrive in front of the Sacrament table, they will be in a specified order.  
    • The boys/men who are passing the Sacrament wait at the back of the chapel until the Sacrament has been passed to everyone, at which point the 2/3 boys/men at the Sacrament table stand up, thus signaling to the passers that they should come forward.
    • The same process is observed for the passing of the water.
    • Once both parts of the Sacrament have been administered, the "blessers" sit down, thus signaling to the passers that they are dismissed and can go sit with their families (or sit in the back as ushers).
    • Men/boys who pass the Sacrament wear white shirts (this one seems to be rather strongly encouraged, if not necessarily required).
  • Women wear skirts/dresses (this one does not seem to be enforced, and instead just seems like a widely-observed custom).

Any others?

Which, if any, of these are based on doctrine / scriptures?  

Which are based on tradition/custom?

Which are based on simple convenience?

Which, if any, are problematic in your view?  Why?

Are any of these "gilding the lily" (meaning "try{ing} to improve what is already beautiful or excellent")?

Thanks,

-Smac

Pretty much all of these have been observed in every ward I have belonged to, and most of them go way back to times that pre-date my memory. 

An exception is the facial hair on counselors in the bishopric. I’ve never seen that. 

Also, in my wards, those who have administered/passed the sacrament remain in place until the bishopriic member who is conducting the meeting “dismisses”/“excuses”/“invites” them to sit with their families. 

One erroneous assumption I’ve seen creep up in recent years is that the ward clerk and the ward executive secretary are members of the bishopric. They are not. They might be regarded as ancillary staff to the bishopric. But they don’t have the authority, duties, roles, ecclesiastical stature, etc. of the bishop or either of his counselors. They do not conduct meetings, issue callings, receive tithing, perform settings apart, conduct temple recommend interviews, act as advisors to auxiliary presidencies, oversee facets of the ward organization. They are not members of the bishopric. The bishopric consists of the bishop, the first counselor and the second counselor. Period. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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9 hours ago, Calm said:

Definitely a custom as the Church came out and said it was not a rule when the Wear Pants to Church Day event took place.

Not disputing this, but I don’t recall there being a formal statement giving the OK. Do you have a cite? 

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7 hours ago, Amulek said:

Unless you are Native American or come from some other culture, long hair on men is generally frowned upon - especially for those in leadership positions.

Also, there seems to be some sort of unwritten rule against bow ties. That may just be a fashion preference thing though. When my sister was serving on Temple Square she distinctly remembered Elder Scott sporting a bow tie from time to time, but he was one of the very few; and, even then, it was something of a rarity.  

And you know what isn't an unwritten rule but should be: removing mechanical watches prior to setting people apart, giving blessings, etc.

Seriously, I understand that Old Man Jacobs needs to know what time it is and, due to his age, he needs a gigantic watch to accomplish that task, but for those of us under his hands it just sounds like Big Ben is clicking away incessantly the entire time he is participating in the ordination. It's really a distraction. 

Now, this is one that may naturally resolve itself over time as Boomers start to age out of callings since they seem to be the ones most likely to wear large, mechanical watches. But, in the meantime, please remove those blasted contraptions. :) 

 

Gotta say I’ve never seen this complaint come up before, and you know I think the world of you, Amulek, but it strikes me as a tad quirky. 

Who wears ticking time pieces these days anyway? Nobody in my acquaintance. I’m sure it’s been decades since I’ve even seen, let alone worn one. 

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7 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

Flowers on the stand. Table cloth on RS table.  Only pianos violins and flutes in sacrament- no mellow trombone or gentle guitar.  Ham and potatoes at funerals. Handshake a must when handed a tithing envelope. raising the just blessed baby in the air for all to ooh and ahh at.  The list goes on and on.  None are necessarily bad- but IMO we are pretty comfortable in our culture and change can be alarming. 

For that matter, why not have mother in the center of a baby blessing, holding the baby that she carried 9 months and gave birth to? 

I was in a ward where the men didn't lift the baby after the blessing.  Instead, the baby was taken back to his/her mother and then who ever was conducting the meeting would have her stand up and show off her baby.

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10 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Not disputing this, but I don’t recall there being a formal statement giving the OK. Do you have a cite? 

Just remember a spokesperson saying it when asked, not a Newsroom statement, but the few articles I checked didn't bother to get a comment from the Church.  My memory might be confusing it  with another time, but I can't think of anything else that was such a miss...supposed to be shocking enough to make a major statement and it turned into a 'meh'.

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7 hours ago, The Nehor said:

“After the prayer, deacons or other priesthood holders pass the bread to the congregation in a reverent and orderly manner. The presiding officer receives the sacrament first. The bishop (or a counselor in his absence) presides at the sacrament meeting unless a member of the stake presidency, an Area Seventy, or a General Authority is sitting on the stand. A high councilor does not preside and does not receive the sacrament first.”

Passing with the right hand is not mentioned explicitly. There is an implicit suggestion that the deacons and others passing should hold the tray in the left hand:

“The passing of the sacrament should be natural and unobtrusive, not rigid or overly formal. Those who pass the sacrament should not be required to assume any special posture or action, such as holding the left hand behind the back. The process of passing the sacrament should not call attention to itself or detract from the purpose of the ordinance.”

We have a teacher in my ward who does this with his left hand when he passes. He knows it is not necessary but likes to do it.

I’ve never heard a suggestion, implicit or otherwise, that the tray be held with the left hand. For me, a right-handed person, that would seem unnatural, even uncomfortable. 

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Found it...always check Trib first for activism AND comment from the Church. 

https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=55445256&itype=cmsid

Quote

Attending church is about worship and learning to be followers of Jesus Christ," LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday in a statement. "Generally church members are encouraged to wear their best clothing as a sign of respect for the Savior, but we don't counsel people beyond that."

 

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7 hours ago, Calm said:

There are restrictions on what musical instruments, but not that tight. I have seen clarinets and oboes.  I can see a problem with trombones because allowing a player who can do reverent might make it difficult not to offend the player you know is an enthusiastic performer.  Young Women in our ward do a guitar on occasion as we have an excellent performer who is a perennial YW leader and it makes for a great accompaniment.  But I know lots of wards that bar them based on a short period several decades where they were officially vetoed (70s or early 80s iirc), probably because of all the shocking ;) gospel pop or hippie music that was performed with them (such as numerous Day by Day from Godspell for awhile).

14.4.2. Handbook 2

I too have seen clarinets quite a bit in sacrament meetings. 

When I was ward choir director, we performed “Consider the Lillie’s of the Field.” I wrote an arrangement for a clarinetist (my son) and a flutist to perform with us along with the piano. Actually, I didn’t write it. I appropriated a portion of the written piano accompaniment to use for the clarinet and flute. I was pleased with how it turned out. 

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11 minutes ago, Calm said:

Just remember a spokesperson saying it when asked, not a Newsroom statement, but the few articles I checked didn't bother to get a comment from the Church.  My memory might be confusing it  with another time, but I can't think of anything else that was such a miss...supposed to be shocking enough to make a major statement and it turned into a 'meh'.

That part I do remember clearly. But I think it was more a matter of the Church leadership refraining from freaking out over the pants thing than actually giving a specific OK. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, provoman said:

I am not fond of traditions. I think it has to do with the Book of Mormon and "foolish traditions".  

I think that’s non-contextual. Surely not all traditions are foolish; many are praiseworthy. 

And wasn’t it one of the anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon who railed against “foolish traditions”? 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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4 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

OK. Good sleuthing. 

But this strikes me more as tacit acceptance than affirmative endorsement. 

Tacit acceptance of what?

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1 minute ago, Calm said:

Tacit acceptance of what?

Tacit acceptance of the wearing of pants by women at worship services. 

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7 hours ago, Tacenda said:

http://www.ldsliving.com/How-to-Evaluate-Doctrine-from-Policy-Why-There-Is-More-Than-One-Type-of-Church-Doctrine/s/91274

Here is an article about taking the Sacrament with your right hand: http://www.ldsliving.com/Why-Members-Told-to-Take-the-Sacrament-by-the-Right-Hand-and-Whether-or-Not-It-Matters/s/89029 In short Pres. Nelson acknowedges that it would be nice, but not necessary, a distinct difference from Pres. Oaks. 

The hand used in partaking of the sacrament would logically be the same hand used in making any other sacred oath. For most of us, that would be the right hand. However, sacramental covenants—and other eternal covenants as well—can be and are made by those who have lost the use of the right hand, or who have no hands at all. Much more important than concern over which hand is used in partaking of the sacrament is that the sacrament be partaken with a deep realization of the atoning sacrifice that the sacrament represents.

Radio Free Mormon did a three part podcast on what he named the Pharisee Phenomenon.  In it he points out that elder Oaks corrected some deacons for taking the sacrament with their left hand.

https://radiofreemormon.org/2019/03/radio-free-mormon-059-the-pharisee-phenomenon-pt-1/

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2 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Tacit acceptance of the wearing of pants by women at worship services. 

I was in nursery for a while.  It would have been so nice to be in slacks. I know some women have nicer pant suits than my basic dresses. If we are talking about wearing our best, their suits would win over most church dresses and skirts.

Oh and the flip flops to church.  I can't even...

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, smac97 said:

I would like to better understand this phenomenon, as there appear to be at least some "unwritten" customs/traditions that apparently have the imprimatur of the Church.

By definition, something unwritten cannot have an imprimatur, which is Latin for 'let it be printed'.

And as I've pointed out before, a church that can describe, in detail, the two ways that a Xmas tree can be installed in a building is not incapable of putting something into print. The whole concept of unwritten rules flies in the face of the reality of a global Church dependent on handbooks, scriptures, and other written standards.

Quote

Bishops and stake presidents, while serving in that capacity, are clean-shaven.

Nope. The last two times I was in America, the bishops were bearded. I wear facial hair, and I serve in a stake presidency. I also serve in the temple 1x/month, so I shave that morning and then start the process of resuming my normal appearance.

Quote

Bishopric members wear a suit in church meetings.

Nope. When I was studying in America, my bishop wore khaki pants and a denim shirt to church each week. (He was fantastic, by the way!) And around the world, many men don't even own suits.

Quote

Various formalities pertaining to the blessing and passing of the Sacrament:

As already noted by others, everything not in the Handbook is up to each ward. When I've served in the bishopric, we've worked with our deacons quorum presidency to arrange the passing of the sacrament. We have great divergence across our stake. The one thing that drives me crazy is left hands behind backs. The Handbook actually cautions against this, but we have families in our ward who come out of a culture where this is somehow dogma, and they've influenced the rest of our boys. :rolleyes:

Quote

Men/boys who pass the Sacrament wear white shirts (this one seems to be rather strongly encouraged, if not necessarily required).

Definitely encouraged, but the Handbook forbids requiring it. Any bishop or other member who tries to force this is violating Church guidelines. Most of our boys do; some don't. Easy.

Quote

Women wear skirts/dresses (this one does not seem to be enforced, and instead just seems like a widely-observed custom).

We have a number of sisters in our ward who wear nothing but pants. Our current primary president doesn't even own a skirt. It's a complete non-issue. I lived in a corner of America where most women wore pants to church during the winter. It just makes sense, especially when you consider that Brigham Young tried to stop women wearing skirts at all. And of course, Sister missionaries now wear pants. We had a young woman leave from our ward a couple of months ago, and she only took a couple of skirts.

Quote

Which, if any, are problematic in your view?  Why?

I think that everything not doctrinal or in a Handbook is problematic because (a) it throws up unnecessary obstacles in front of the Saints, including new and struggling ones, (b) it confuses the hell out of people who actually know what the doctrines and policies are, and (c) it creates some kind of insiders club for lifelong American Saints to act like they have access to secret knowledge. That's simply not how the Church works.

I had a housemate from Sierra Leone a few years ago. He wouldn't dry his garments outside because the American missionary couple who had taught him had told him that was a sin. I called shenanigans and showed him what the handbook actually says: 'Members should avoid displaying the garment publicly'. Maybe all the washing lines in Sierra Leone are in public view, but ours wasn't; it was in a completely fenced off courtyard to the side of our house that allowed for no public view, but I simply couldn't convince him that the Handbook was what Church leaders actually intended. No, the heroic American missionaries who'd taught him knew the unwritten secret truth. And that's a terrible problem when applied to any area of Church life.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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2 hours ago, cherryTreez said:

I was in nursery for a while.  It would have been so nice to be in slacks.

As I noted above, our current primary president doesn't even own a skirt. Not one.

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5 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I’ve never heard a suggestion, implicit or otherwise, that the tray be held with the left hand. For me, a right-handed person, that would seem unnatural, even uncomfortable. 

Yeah, that was meant as a joke but looking back it was a bad one.

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9 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Gotta say I’ve never seen this complaint come up before, and you know I think the world of you, Amulek, but it strikes me as a tad quirky. 

So, admittedly, that post was a tad hyperbolic. And it isn't something I would ever actually complain about to a leader. However, it is one of those things that, once you hear, you can't seem to un-hear any longer.

Sort of like how, when my wife and I were first married, we moved into an apartment building which was next to three sets of train tracks. I had honestly never heard a single train whistle in Provo the entire time I had attended BYU up to that point, but after being in our apartment for a bit we both developed what we referred to as 'super-sonic train hearing.'

Suddenly, we could hear trains everywhere - even at great distances - including on campus. It wasn't so much that our hearing had actually changed obviously, but our brains had just developed a sensitivity to picking out the sound of a train whistle among the white noise. 

So maybe that's just me with watches now. Hopefully, you are all able to live your lives in peace and tranquility - completely oblivious to the occasional watch-wearer. Because if you start to hear them in the future, I will have made the world a worse place by mentioning / calling attention to it. :) 

 

Quote

Who wears ticking time pieces these days anyway? Nobody in my acquaintance. I’m sure it’s been decades since I’ve even seen, let alone worn one. 

They do seem to be going the way of the dodo. Their primary utility has been replaced by a far more capable device that is now widely carried everywhere.

There are still some Luddites who refuse to get on the cellphone bandwagon here and there, but for the most part I suspect those who continue to wear watches largely do so out of habit or, for lack of a better term, fashion sense. Or perhaps they were/are a collector - that certainly used to be more of a thing, though I'm sure it persists. 

Regardless, as I said before, I think it's something that will resolve itself with time.

 

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18 hours ago, Amulek said:

Unless you are Native American or come from some other culture, long hair on men is generally frowned upon - especially for those in leadership positions.

Also, there seems to be some sort of unwritten rule against bow ties. That may just be a fashion preference thing though. When my sister was serving on Temple Square she distinctly remembered Elder Scott sporting a bow tie from time to time, but he was one of the very few; and, even then, it was something of a rarity.  

And you know what isn't an unwritten rule but should be: removing mechanical watches prior to setting people apart, giving blessings, etc.

Seriously, I understand that Old Man Jacobs needs to know what time it is and, due to his age, he needs a gigantic watch to accomplish that task, but for those of us under his hands it just sounds like Big Ben is clicking away incessantly the entire time he is participating in the ordination. It's really a distraction. 

Now, this is one that may naturally resolve itself over time as Boomers start to age out of callings since they seem to be the ones most likely to wear large, mechanical watches. But, in the meantime, please remove those blasted contraptions. :) 

 

Not in my ward.  Bow ties are really popular in my neck of the woods.  Even the bishopric counselors wear them on the stand on occasion.  :D 

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13 hours ago, provoman said:

I am not fond of traditions. I think it has to do with the Book of Mormon and "foolish traditions".  

I hope you don’t mean this and similar statements: “Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.” (see Alma 8:11; 21:8; 30:14, 23, 27). :)

But yes, some traditions are still foolish (I think “wicked” captures the intent from the Book of Mormon and D&C better) but some are actually good, for example: Alma 9:8, 16-17; 3 Nephi 1:9, 11 and elsewhere in the Book of Mormon.

The first part of D&C 46 (verses 1-6) is all about our traditions, customs, practices, etc., especially in our meetings. A good rule of thumb is found in verse 7, which I think this has been followed in preparing our handbooks and a principle good leaders typically keep in mind.

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6 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

As I noted above, our current primary president doesn't even own a skirt. Not one.

So are you saying she wears pants, could you be a little more clearer? :)

 

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