In the Village: Here are some of my 'cool' ideas

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 17 2011 3:57 p.m. MDT

Lynn Arave, Deseret News archives

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I have opinions on everything, whether I have any information on the subject or not.

As I pointed out in my last column, having really cool ideas all the time is part of what I do for a living.

This could be dangerous, if I had a position of authority, where my decisions might affect the lives of other people.

But the oddest thing happens when I actually do have the authority to make decisions: The Lord blesses me with "stupor of thought" (Doctrine and Covenants 9:9). All those cool ideas dry up and I become keenly aware of my own hopeless ignorance.

Meanwhile, though, my spectacular talent for coming up with ideas about everything is a vast resource that usually goes to waste, because people in authority pay no attention to me whatsoever.

Do you realize that church leaders at every level make decision after decision, year after year, without ever phoning or emailing me to find out what I think?

Oh, you, too? It's not just me?

People who don't understand us Mormons often think we do only what we're told by our leaders, like robots. Ha ha!

Anybody who has ever had any kind of church leadership position knows that Mormons rarely accept "because I say so" as a sufficient explanation. But that's good — none of the work of the church could be done by puppets.

We think for ourselves — and then, when called upon to do so, we act together.

Back in the 1970s, somebody noticed that with priesthood meeting at 7:30 in the morning, Sunday school at 10 and sacrament meeting at 4, we were doing an awful lot of traveling on Sunday.

That's fine if the meetinghouse is a couple of blocks away. Not so fine if you have to ride three buses. So somebody had the bright idea of consolidating that meeting schedule.

I have no idea who that was. Maybe a lot of people said, "Don't you wish we could just come to church once, have all our meetings in a row, and then go home and be done so we can actually do other Sabbathy things?"

Sometimes inspiration comes directly to the person in charge. But sometimes good ideas just pop up, and the inspiration consists of the person in authority thinking, "You know, we really ought to give that a try and see if it works."

Take our hymns. Every now and then, the music is arranged so that any men who are actually singing the bass or tenor line are required to fall silent — there's not a note for them to sing.

Musically, this can be quite a strong effect, as the lighter female voices sing alone, and then the male voices rejoin them for a clinching last line.

That's fine when it's a choir performing for a group of listeners. But with congregational hymns, we're not performing. The music allows us to speak the meaningful words of the hymn in unison — and the words matter.

So when, just because we sing the bass or tenor line, men are forbidden by the music to speak a quarter of the hymn's message, I think much of the purpose of a congregational hymn is defeated.

I'm afraid I'm not obedient to the hymn's arranger — I go ahead and sing the alto part, either above the tenor line or an octave lower, or else I sing the melody.

Still, when the next hymnbook comes out, I think it would be a good idea to rearrange all the hymns that have that "feature" so that everyone sings every word.

Here's another thought that keeps coming up. There are usually 52 Sundays a year. Twelve of them are fast Sundays. Twelve of them have high council speakers with a topic assigned by the stake presidency.

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