cross-posted at FMH, see comments there.
Some of you have already heard about the recent direction to LDS sacrament meeting speakers not to ask their listeners to follow along with their scriptural citations. In many wards, a letter has already been read over the pulpit, stating in part:
"In order to maintain an atmosphere of reverent worship in our sacrament and stake conference meetings, when speakers use scriptures as part of their talks they should not ask the congregation to open their own books to the scriptural reference. Also, members should not use visual aids and their sacrament meeting or stake conference talks. Such teaching methods are more effective in classroom settings and leadership meetings. We believe these adjustments will enhance the spirit of our worship services.”
When I first heard these directions I was puzzled. Why would turning to the scriptures detract from the spirit of meetings? I wondered about these things, but wasn't unduly bothered.
UNTIL today when I heard a more detailed explanation. I am visiting in Utah, and attended my daughter's BYU ward today. After two short talks on the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, the Bishop stood up to speak. He first addressed his remarks to those who might have been worried that women could not participate in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. He said that having the responsibility for the ordinances compared to his being the wage-earner for the family. "I go to the bank and put in the money," he said, "and my wife uses the account and spends it all. She has all the blessings and I have the responsibilities."
Next he turned his attention to those who might have been bothered by the recent instructions about Sacrament Meetings. He mentioned that he had been invited to a special leadership meeting to explain the rationale behind this. He told the congregation that whoever is presiding in a meeting is the authority and should not allow his power to be lost. This power would be taken away if a speaker said, "will the audience please do such-and-such." In the same way, he continued, a chorister should not ask the audience to stand, but should instead turn to the Bishop and ask his permission for such an action to be performed.
I was horrified that this was the reasoning behind the recent change. Do we think we are going a bit overboard on the power trip?????