Three New Apostles
I'm a Mormon, and like every other Mormon, I was excited for this month's General Conference because three new apostles were going to be called! That hasn't happened for a long, long time -- since 1906, to be exact, and I felt like I was witnessing something big. So on Saturday afternoon, I walked with my friends to the North Visitors Center on Temple Square and made my way to the theater, where the broadcast was being shown on the big screen. It shouldn't have been a surprise, but I was shocked to see just how packed the room was. There were people spilling onto the floor and out into the hallway. I found a space at the front of the theater and sat on the floor in pain as I strained my neck to look up at the giant screen of Elder Eyring's face. This was the moment everyone had been waiting for. Who would the new apostles be???
Since this is a global church, I thought we'd witness unprecedented diversity. With nearly 4 million members in South America, we'd definitely get a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking apostle. Or maybe with just over a million members in Asia, the next apostle would be from there. My dad suspected maybe there would be one from Africa. The possibilities were endless! And then.
Elder Eyring called the names of three white men.
It was an interesting moment in my mind, when Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund were called. For a second, I doubted that the existing apostles had gotten it right. Less than a minute later, though, I admitted to myself that I believe in divine revelation. That God had revealed to the brethren of the Church the names of three men who were meant to have an apostolic calling at this time.
I did think about it, though, for the rest of the day, and obviously, I'm still thinking about it now. Here's what I've come up with: How small-minded of me to think that 1) I know better than the brethren of the Church, and 2) The new brethren called aren't diverse.
It's that second point I want to emphasize because as a rule-following, sometimes-shy, never-trendy middle-class white girl, strangers and acquaintances in high school and throughout life often called me sheltered. They expected me to be a normal girl with typical thoughts and boring tastes. But I surprised them -- with my love of rock and roll, my openness to new ideas and varied perspectives, and my curiosity to learn about everything around me. I give nearly all credit for those traits to my parents and siblings, but the rest goes to the Deep South. I learned so much about life when my family moved from Oklahoma to Georgia, and I discovered that you can never fully judge someone's mind and heart by their physical appearance. And here I was this weekend, thinking that three white men fell short of the diversity mark. That they would be too normal, with typical thoughts and boring tastes.
Since Saturday, however, I've seen lots of things online about just how diverse Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund are, and I suspect that many people had similar thoughts as me. I suspect that many people besides myself wanted to see more physical diversity in the new apostles.
I also suspect that naysayers and many non-Mormons wonder why I feel the need to correct my initial reaction to the announcement. I can hear them now: "Sara, you're simply justifying your faith and buying into a belief that you were taught as a child." And that's true. But we all do that on some level. The neat thing is that we can all constantly evaluate our faith and upbringing and decide whether they are things we want to continue to believe in and trust. For my part, I do.
Thing I'm thankful for: a good bed.