The standard for the Kilogram has changed from a tangible weight that one could hold in their hands, to a measure of magnetic force related to Planks constant. It has gone from real to abstract. I see this same thing happening in Mormonism. Back in Joseph Smiths time, they had the Prophet himself who they could talk with, shake his hand, and ask questions. There was a book of Mormon, a hard tangible object they could carry with them. There was a seer stone, another tangible object that people saw.
As a youth growing up in the church, I had a very hands on religious experience. GA’s, usually Apostles, would visit our stake yearly, and we could shake their hand. Once our Bishop took the youth to Utah for a summer trip, and after visiting Temple Square, he took them to the church office building (the old one), took the group into the fore, and asked the receptionist if there was a GA that could visit with the youth. An apostle was found and spend about 15 minutes chatting it up with the kids. (I don’t remember who, I missed the trip but had to hear the stories over and over when they returned!). This would have been circa 1973.
We had a welfare farm in central California (Fresno area), that grew grapes for raisins. Each year in late August, we would go out and pick the grapes and lay them on drying papers next to the vines. Then 3-4 weeks later (depending on weather) we would go back and roll the papers and then throw the bundles into a moving trailer pulled down each row. In the spring we would prune the vineyard. (You may insert your own scripture allegory here)
Today, we rarely see an Apostle in person, and when one does visit, there is not time to actually shake his hand. You can’t walk into the Church Office Building with your MIA group unannounced and ask to speak to an Apostle, there are no more welfare farms, and less and less people are carrying a BofM in their hands (it’s on their phone). One could say this is due to church growth, and is a sign the church is true! But like with any organization that grows, something is lost.
That personal interaction with Apostles is gone, and not only does that hurt the member, but I believe it hurts the Apostles as they don’t get the feedback from the members that they once did. They don’t get first hand accounts of things that are not working in the church. Instead they have to wait for it to bubble up via the “chain of command”.
So, do you see a less tangible church? What changes have you seen as the church grows into a world wild organization that have made the church more abstract, and less tangible?