You may not like Mormons all that much, you may enjoy thinking we’re big bunches of crazy more than acknowledging that we share the same air as you, but woo ha you’ve gotta love that we are organized little buggers. (And by “we” I certainly don’t mean “me”, I mean all the people responsible for running the LDS church.)
You may have heard on the news that our Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away January 27 at the age of 97. Now, the Catholics may not like this, but the Pope to the Catholic church is what the Prophet is to the LDS church. The only higher authority than the Prophet is God Himself.
And this is where I get to the organization part. And again, it’s not to make you a Mormon, or make you like us even more than you already should. It’s just a little (true) information about my church. Because if you’re not totally hip to the Mormons you may still think of us as a bunch of screwy, cult like polygamists. And really I don’t blame you if you choose to be naive. The false, screwy, cult-like polygamist stereotype is way more interesting than the completely normal God fearing family oriented truth.
On to my point.
Everyone who is a member of this church has (for the lack of a better phrase) someone to answer to. As a family we answer to each other. We in turn answer to a bishop who presides over our ward. (A ward is a congregation made up of people living in a certain area. (For example, back in Utah our ward was all the LDS members living in a six-block radius; out here our ward is all the members living in about a ten-mile radius.)) The bishop then answers to the stake president (a stake is a collection of wards in the same area; our ward out here makes up a quarter of Indianapolis. Back in Utah our stake covered about three square miles.) The stake president then answers to an area authority (Do I need to explain that an “area” is a collection of Stakes within a city, state, country or nation? Because I just did.) The area authorities report to the Quorum of the Seventy (there’s actually more than one Quorum and there’s a whole lot more than Seventy people in it, but that’s not important.) The Seventies then report to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which are Twelve (generally older) men who are kind of like a board of directors. Above the Quorum of the Twelve is the First Presidency, made up of three men and led by the Prophet. (Think CEO, COO and CFO, only to God, not to a company.) The Prophet answers to God himself.
Now this is where the LDS church is unique. We believe in and sustain a living prophet who receives modern revelation through God. (Still with me here? How’s the crazy meter?)
All of our clergy members, be they bishops, stake presidents or the Prophet are unpaid and they are called to their positions by a revelation from God. This is another way our church is unique. None of our clergy are formally trained for their callings and they generally have another job outside their church duties. We had one bishop who was a retired three-star general. We had another one who was a mechanic for the FAA. Normal guys volunteering their time to watch over the affairs of the church and its members.
You still with me? Gosh, that was kind of you to make it through such a long post. I know, I KNOW. There’s someone reading this simply seething with righteous indignation. I don’t need you to tell me all the mean things that I’ve been told before. I’m a good person and I very much enjoy my religion. I’m not expecting anyone to agree with me, I’m just putting information out there in case anyone was curious or confused. If you weren’t curious or confused, then this post wasn’t meant for you, so click elsewhere and keep your mean opinions to yourself.