The Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast is one of my favorites—I’ve gone so far as to support it on Patreon so that I can get all the Tribune’s religion coverage without having to subscribe to the entire newspaper. Mormon news interests me a lot, but Utah news doesn’t interest me at all. Yesterday’s episode on age and Latter-day Saint leadership was one of the most interesting episodes that I’ve listened to. In particular, two of Greg Prince’s comments during his interview stood out to me.
First, I found it fascinating that Prince tied the most controversial institutional actions by the Church in the past 80 years to periods when the president of the Church was incapicated. This included the November 2015 exclusion policy (during Thomas Monson’s presidency), the September Six excommunications (under Ezra Taft Benson’s presidency), and a number of others that aren’t coming to mind (but thanks to my Patreon support, I ought to be getting a transcript of the episode soon!).
Second, Prince’s comment that he had heard from church authorities and employees that Thomas Monson had showed signs of dementia even prior to assuming the presidency reminded me of a memory from my time in the Missionary Training Center during the summer of 2007. Monson spoke to us one afternoon, and over the course of his talk, he told the same story—almost verbatim—two different times, apparently not remembering the second time that he had only told it minutes earlier. I remember a brief feeling of discomfort at the experience—and at the way that the audience laughed at the second story just as much, as though we had never heard it before. I don’t think it ever really rattled my confidence in Monson’s apostolic (and future prophetic) authority, but even the question of whether it should made me nervous.
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