With the death of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, Mormons are waiting to hear who will be our next prophet. We are all leaning forward in our seats.
OK, that was a bit sarcastic. Everyone fully expects the new prophet to be Russell M. Nelson, the current president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
We’ve been managing it this way for so long that Mormons have become institutionalized in the succession of prophets. It’s always the next guy in line. No secret or surprise about that.
But here is something to wrap your testimony around: What if God picked someone completely unexpected to be the next prophet? Could your faith stand a huge surprise?
It’s happened before. A cursory study of the Bible proves this much about the Big Guy: He loves surprises.
He has a “none of your damn business” attitude when it comes to calling prophets. Nobody in the Bible is ever recorded as shouting, “I got it. Finally! I’m the man!” Indeed, I can think of a couple who clearly thought, “Crap, it’s me.”
But what if it were me? What if the next LDS prophet turned out to be some hack at The Salt Lake Tribune? Bet that would put a wrinkle in your faith, eh?
Wouldn’t be the first time someone turned his or her nose up at new revelation. In the Book of John (1:46), a guy named Philip invites his friend Nathanael to check out a new rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth.
Nathanael rolls his eyes and says, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
That’s exactly what Latter-day Sadducees would be saying if the church announced that decorum had been tossed out the window and it was now “President Robert L. Kirby.”
“Can there any good thing come out of Barstow?”
For the record, Barstow, Calif., is where my family moved from when we came to Utah. Nazareth seems to have had a similar reputation during Jesus’ time.
Every Mormon president — or at least those around long enough to establish one — left a legacy. For Gordon B. Hinckley, it was building temples. For Heber J. Grant, it was an emphasis on the Word of Wisdom.
If you aren’t busy thinking about joining another church, or perhaps worshipping Satan instead, let’s talk about my potential legacy.
What I’ll be known for is the utter de-stereotyping of the Mormon appearance. It came to me in a dream last night. White shirts are gone, brothers and sisters.
So are neckties. In fact, if you show up at any church function wearing a tie, you will be set upon by stout priesthood holders and administered a new rite called A Laying On of Hams flossing.
These brethren will be holders of a long-abandoned priesthood office called Danite, as in, “Wow, did you see Brother Snoot get his hams flossed by the Danite quorum? So uplifting.”
Tithing will be reduced by half, and once again will be acceptable in kind instead of just in money. Worthiness interviews will be conducted only by members of the same gender, which will require giving women the priesthood.
Come to think of it, married couples will be called as a bishopric, as in Bishop and Bishopess Clark. Those who need two counselors when they have perfectly good spouses at their sides are idiots.
Excommunications will cease. We’re going to stop throwing people out of the church and instead wish them happy trails.
The Word of Wisdom will become more of a guideline than the exclusionary element that it is today. Mormon meetinghouses will be smoke-free, but whatever you do in the parking lot is your business.
Gay members will be welcome. If married, they will be subject to the same guidelines of fidelity, love and eternal cherishment that the rest of us have to abide by.
What else? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Welcome to the 90-minute block.
That’s it. In fact, that’s enough. By the time I go to my reward, the church will have changed a lot. It will be smaller because only the truly faithful will stick around.