One of the most interesting changes to me is the absolute consolidation of power within the Quorum of the Twelve. I've seen it by the way people interact with and talk about general authorities. It used to be that they were respected as men who had been called to a position of responsibility. It was not much different than the way other church leaders such as bishops were respected. They were not viewed as infallible and they openly stated as much. They were loved by the people because they loved the people and served them. The lives of the members were made better because of Christlike leaders who served them.
In the past, the Twelve had been greatly influenced by their interactions with local members. These personal contacts had tempered their actions and helped them understand the real struggles of everyday members.
Over time, the Twelve have systematically distanced themselves from the daily lives of the members and have eliminated every meaningful voice of dissent, opposition, and counsel to them. In fact, to even suggest that you propose to counsel a member of the Twelve is today looked at as blasphemous.
- Church meetings that are bland, boring, and shallow
- Testimonies that are cookie cutter copies of one another
- Like it or not, these guys are opinionated, isolated, and out of touch, which results in the Church adapting to social changes 30 years after the rest of society (women, blacks, and gay rights are examples)
- Putting many members in a nearly constant state of cognitive dissonance for one reason or another because what appears to be the best decision to thoughtful members does not match Church practice
- Expecting they can control the story of church history like they control Sunday School lessons
- Causing the disaffection of otherwise believing members who will no longer tolerate the curtain of deception in the name of the Lord
- A cult of personality worship around the Twelve
- The modern Quorum of the Twelve have run the organization with a ruthless efficiency that would make General Motors proud. Unfortunately, this has created a culture where it appears the Twelve have abdicated their pastoral responsibilities for the power of the corporate boardroom.
Saving souls both spiritually and temporally is a task that when done well requires adaptation to the needs of individuals. It requires caring one-on-one attention, patience, acceptance, and non-judgmental love. It is messy and time consuming and requires flexibility. It is wholly inconsistent with the principles of lean mean corporate governance.
What to do? Not that they would ask my opinion, but below are a few suggestions.
- Allow members of the Twelve to retire
- Abolish the seniority system within the Twelve
- Don't create policy around things based on how they will politically effect the Church
- Acknowledge past errors and injuries
- Acknowledge that women can and did hold the priesthood
- Allow women to be local leaders beyond primary and relief society
- Allow men to serve in the primary presidency
- Acknowledge the facts of church history
- Encourage honest discussion, disagreement, and dialogue in meetings
- Encourage diversity
- Make public the church finances
- Focus more on the journey and less on the destination
- Stop the guilt trip and the incessant obsession with sex
- Acknowledge that coffee, tobacco, and alcohol have nothing to do with salvation
- Allow for local flexibility and adaption
- Lighten up