Improvement Era: Sacrament Mtg Checklist

Here’s a personal favorite, The Sacrament Meeting Checklist:

This is a personal favorite, because it shows that certain tendencies are hardly the fault of Correlation; rather, what is called Correlation simply brought them all under the “authority” of suits and diagrams of administrative power.  A few things: Notice that all the items are publicly observable, and there is no “introspection” checked off; with the exception of questions 14 and 15, which require the auditor to imagine “the Saints” and their reaction.  Also, the Deacons are docked 10 points for failing to distribute the bread and water in under 9 minutes.

On a lighter note, something like this was probably the origin of Deuteronomy.  Just give this checklist a century or two, and it might become the basis of new behavioral code designed to please The Unnamed One.  In fact, we have moved in that direction, speaking of how “the Spirit” is offended is we start too late, or if the members are “less reverent”, or as a result of some error in protocol.  The space was already highly ritualized beyond the overt rite of Sacrament, and those kinds of rituals (social in origin, rather than textual-revelatory) are far more difficult to change.  That is to say, while the temple rites have undergone dramatic change, the informal formalities of Sacrament meeting more successfully resist change.

Perhaps this should give us some sense for why public transparency is a good thing, and secrecy, taboos on discussion, and so on leads not only to supersition (and man-worship, sometimes), but also to a constantly shifting standard of correctness.  (Leaving aside the question of “content” of a SacMtg Talk, for now.)

A public rite is peer-reviewed, and known to be such; a private ceremony that can’t be discussed without violating some imagined taboo can change dramatically over time, with only a few being aware of those changes.  The same problem eliminated from Judah’s public knowledge the very Name of God, so that eventually no person – not even the High Priest of Israel – could claim to know the Name.  It eventually became mere symbolism, then blasphemy to hint at such.

Finally, contrast this behaviorist (supersitition inducing) metaphysic with the direction in D&C, where meetings are to be conducted by The Spirit.  That figure is apparently not merely to check off a list of actions, but was once invited to guide the meeting.  The obvious question for Saints under such a rule becomes, then, what is given by The Spirit, and what is not?  You’d have to discern, rather than merely check off movements, time used up, and who sat where.

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5 thoughts on “Improvement Era: Sacrament Mtg Checklist

  1. Antonio Trevisan says:

    It’s interesting the use of “orthodox” in question 14, given the fact that the question “do you preach the orthodox religion?” was still part of the endowment drama at the time.

  2. Tim says:

    Holy Smokes!

    . . . oops
    Was slang used in reaction to the Sacrament Checklist? -5

    Isn’t interesting all the things you could get right and still have a high score despite someone saying something offensive and blasphemous in a sacrament talk?

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