Monday, August 22, 2011

"Reframing" and "Pruning" in the Church: The Priesthood Ban As an Example

I read the final part of Jacob 5 (the allegory of the olive tree) as the pruning of the modern church. That's the only way that it makes sense to me. Therefore, I have no problem accepting that "the bitter fruit" is part of the Restored Church. I don't want it to be there, and I pray it gets pruned out as quickly as is humanly (and divinely) possible, but it is interesting to contemplate that the Lord doesn't do the pruning; rather, his servants (we) do it.

To me, that means that much of the process of eliminating false doctrine and simple, social stupidity depends almost entirely on how ready and willing the membership is to participate in that process. "Servants" can be read narrowly as "prophets and apostles", but it also can be read more expansively as "all who have covenanted to serve" - and, given my upbringing in orchard country, the latter makes more sense to me in the overall context of pruning.

In that light, I am completely in support of "reframing" and "pruning" issues within the Church - on both an individual level AND an institutional level. I just believe the institutional reframing has to move more slowly than the individual reframing, since the institution has to be aware of the possibility of moving too fast collectively and damaging "good branches" that might survive and produce good fruit with slower, more cautious pruning. That "awareness" can be conscious on the part of the leadership, but it also can be an issue with the leadership needing to become more aware of what needs to be pruned.

I see Pres. McKay's unsuccessful efforts to end the Priesthood ban as a sort of preparation to prune (the digging about and dunging) - working tirelessly to get the tree ready for the pruning that Pres. Kimball eventually was able to initiate formally.

In other words, I believe Pres. McKay, especially, started to "reframe" the issue for many of the leading brethren - moving it from being seen as "doctrine" to being accepted as "policy", and then Pres. Kimball took over and finished the reframing. Once it was reframed collectively, the pruning revelation followed immediately.


Clean Cut said...

Great post--an important insight. I especially think this observation is important: "it is interesting to contemplate that the Lord doesn't do the pruning; rather, his servants (we) do it."

Earlier today I read a comment that said something like this (I paraphrase), "if the Lord wanted to end the priesthood ban before 1978, he would have". Yuck. I don't like that line of reasoning whatsover, since it assumes the Lord was content with the ban in the first place, and also since it assumes the Lord was micromanaging the whole thing. How easy it would be to according to that line of thinking to make the dangerous leap and assume that because the Lord isn't changing this or that (whatever it may be) at the present time, then naturally "all is well in Zion".

I know so many people who think like this (or perhaps it isn't thinking at all--just putting their faith on cruise control?). And that's unfortunate. Your insight into Jacob 5 not only makes sense, but it makes it easier for me to articulate why I hate that kind of thinking. Clearly we each have work to do and there is still pruning that needs to be done.

Clean Cut said...

PS: You can delete this when you make the change, but you wrote Kimble rather than Kimball.

Papa D said...

I not only misspelled it, I misspelled it TWICE!! Wow, that's embarrassing.