I recently read a talk by President Hinckley from what doesn’t seem like so long ago.  But I guess it is now.  The talk is Our Solemn Responsibilities.

For me the talk was like a switching yard.  It started a number of different trains of thoughts.

*I enjoyed the personal reminiscence.

*His happiness with the remarkable growth of the Church reads somewhat different now 20 years later, now that the growth has stalled.  A fact which I for one have not fully worked into my worldview yet.

*I received a letter the other day from a grandson serving a mission in Poland. He is laboring with Elder Neuenschwander in an area where they are trying to open the work. It is difficult. He wrote, “I am president of a branch with four members, and I feel so inadequate.”

I need not remind any of you, even you who are deacons, that it is an awesome thing to be clothed with the holy priesthood and to have the responsibility, great or small, to assist God our Eternal Father in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His sons and daughters of all generations. No one of us can comprehend the magnitude and full meaning

The priesthood is hard to take seriously.  I don’t mean that it is a joke.  I mean that, taken seriously, it is beyond us its bearers.    He speaks of terms of responsibilities, but he equally well could have spoken in terms of power and glory.  There is no responsibility from God without the power from God to fulfill it.  Responsibility fulfilled equals glory–that is not a rhetorical figure, its  definitional.  And being given a power and being given a responsibility is also a form of glory.  Glory in potential being glory just as potential energy is energy.

There are bad reasons why LDS men often seem to lack ambition but there is a good reason also.  There was an ice cream shop that used to let new employees eat as much ice cream as they could possibly hold, so they’d get sick of it and stop filching.  We are to glory and responsibility like those workers are to ice cream.  The gentiles are scrabbling for a little bit of it while we are sitting around sick to death of the stuff.

But God isn’t wanting us to swear off it.  He wants our appetite to grow.

*He had a file called Unhappy Women.

*This talk was typical of of Priesthood sessions back then for ripping into the men for their failings.  The brethren do not and have not done the same for women.  But that’s OK.  men and women are different.

It reads odd now.  He calls out men for being too authoritarian when nowadays most LDS homes suffer from a father who is too passive if anything.  And he denounces men getting a divorce (there is a really quite horrible story) when 60-70% of divorces are started by women often for quite trivial reasons.   But you have to remember this was 20 years ago; his audience was worldwide, not just Americans; he was, after all, speaking to the men and to what his audience needed to hear; and testosterone rates had started dropping even back then and people with low-t trying to be in charge are often more vindictive and overbearing than they need to be.

*He had a distinctive type of goodness.  It comes across strongly in this talk.  I am grateful for his time as prophet.


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