Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scattered Thoughts As I Preside Over a Relief Society Activity

I didn't ask for this. In fact, I didn't technically even agree to it, but the Bishop had my wife's number and I was working, so it was agreed-to on my behalf and it seemed churlish to back out. It's like those stories you hear about a husband being approached about a calling for his wife, as though she couldn't make her own decisions, but...backwards.... sort of. Anyway, that's how I presently find myself presiding over a Relief Society activity.

Apparently, and I never knew this, it's common to have a Melchizedek Priesthood holder at RS functions, so that the women can bask in the glory of his authority or something. Possibly it's in case someone requires an emergency blessing, though in this era of ubiquitous cell phones a quick call home (or to 911) would generally suffice. I imagine the presiding duty usually falls to a bishopric member, which I am not -- just a guy the Bishop knows. Still, I am uncomfortable with the notion that the ladies require any manly presence to do their thing. Blogging represents a way sort out my feelings and to politely disconnect myself from the proceedings as they happen. This is your show, ladies: take it away.

Nobody asked me to call on someone to pray, thank goodness. It's weird enough to do that when friends come over for dinner -- I much prefer the simple alternating system my wife and I usually use. It emphasizes equal partners rather than the preside bit, which was rather arbitrarily assigned to me on account of a minor chromosome addition a few decades ago.

Should a Relief Society member be present at activities for guys? Perhaps at Young Men, to encourage chivalrous boys to curse more quietly during basketball? Maybe an impatient wife might encourage a long-winded husband to wrap up a tedious Elders Quorum Presidency meeting: "Dear, you've already discussed that. Twice."

It's nice to spend some time with my wife, at least. Left to my own I'd be playing Skyrim or watching episodes of The Wire, which... actually sounds fun, but that's hardly the stuff eternal relationships are made of.

On Sunday we're both speaking in church. I'm up second because, I was told, it's customary for the priesthood to go last. Another head-scratcher. Apart from the mild systematic injustice of it I don't really mind, but my wife is the better speaker so we're potentially losing a stronger, more dramatic denouement to sacrament. Gordon B Hinckley was a fine speaker, but I wonder how he felt having to follow Pres. Monson all the time.

The activity is almost over, and my involvement looks to remain minimal. It was a good activity, clearly well-planned. Glad I could lend some priesthoodness without wrecking anything. And yet, as I ponder my recent experiences in the oft-benign but ever-present system of patriarchy that pervades and to an extent defines Mormonism, I can only help wondering: I get refreshments too, right?