When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

mosesWe have two metaphors for assisting in the Church.

One is for those who barge in — they are referred to in terms of “steadying the ark.”  To quote David O. McKay, generally remembered for standing up for liberals and divergent thinkers in the Church:

 Let us look around us and see how quickly men who attempt unauthoritatively to steady the ark die spiritually. Their souls become embittered, their minds distorted, their judgment faulty, and their spirit depressed. Such is the pitiable condition of men who, neglecting their own responsibilities, spend their time in finding fault with others.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1936, p. 60.)

The second metaphor is from the quote above, where Aaron and Hur supported Moses.  The difference is whether we are supporting or supplanting.

We have examples from the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball.  From time to time his health would become very bad.  I worked with a stake president who was friends with a brother of one of President Kimball’s doctors.  The brother was fond of sharing inside, confidential, health information to let everyone know when President Kimball was about to die.  Several times after one of those leaks, President Kimball would rouse and engage in prophetic behavior.  (One friend joked that he was staying alive by doing that).

During one period of incapacity, someone sent a letter out from Salt Lake giving specific counsel on sexual practices.  Interestingly enough, President Kimball did not die, roused, and the first thing he did was have the letter recalled with instructions that all copies were to be destroyed.  I remember talking about the incident with a friend who helped edit some internal documents (proposals from the first presidency to the other general authorities) who was more amused at the presumption than anything else.

On the other hand, President Kimball specifically asked for input from the janitor (not the head guy, but the actual janitor) at the Church Office Building in regards to the design for smaller temples they were working on.  He valued the input and support.


Now, for the question that can be asked in this framework. (Other than “look at yourself, and ask if you are steadying the ark or supporting the prophet) …

When President Monson is incapacitated, and letters are sent out under his name, or when an apostle is in the process of dying and a letter is sent out under his name, is someone steadying the ark or are they just being supportive?  Does the context matter?  Does whether or not we agree with what is said matter?  Is asking the question a form of steadying the ark and finding fault?  Or is that just normal posting in the bloggernacle?

What do you think?  How do you approach such situations and how do they help you look into your views, actions and approaches to questions and the Church?