Episode 246: The Governing Philosophy and Structure of the Church

11 comments on “Episode 246: The Governing Philosophy and Structure of the Church”

  1. Christopher Allman Reply

    I think that one can’t meaningfully speak about human heirchies without acknowledging the central role of Serotonin.
    One of the primary roles of serotonin is to regulate one’s percieved status relative to those around them(ie. self esteem).
    This can be observed in all primates and many mammals. If a person feels their percieved sense of status is higher, their serotonin levels raise accordingly and they act in ways we perceive as having status and confidence (head held high, shoulders up, cool, calm etc). (it is no wonder why drugs which boost serotonin increase one’s ‘self esteem’)

    Similarly, when one finds their percieved status relative to those around them decrease, their serotnonin follows step and they exhibit signs of ‘low status’, such as slumped shoulders, being more quick to percieve others actions as a threat, etc.)
    Considering this, it is no wonder humans are almost constantly trying to ‘one up’ each other…improving your sense of status relative to those arounds you provides an immediate chemical reward.
    It is also no wonder why humans inevetibly form themselves into heirchies regardless of the situation, just like our primate cousins we are biologically programmed to.
    In fact, studies have been done where even young children, observing primate tribes are able to identify who has the highest status (and thus, serotonin blood levels) simply by observing the behavior and affect of the individual members.
    This likely evolved for a reason, which John alluded to initially, that heirchies tend to be effecient. But, regardless of if that efficiency still holds or if there are not other forms which are more efficient, until we are able to adjust our serotninin levels (which we have begun, in crude ways with ssri’s) we are locked into heirchical structures.

  2. Christopher Allman Reply

    As for what has led to men being the dominate sex for most cultures throughout most of history, of course size& strength plays a factor (although, whether that is an evolutionary cause or effect could be disputed), as well as testosterone which leads to more aggressive, dominating behaviors, but the fact that women bare children has significant impact on the dynamic.
    For most of human history, women simply had different things they had to be concerned about, because of the fact that they were the ones primarily responsible for the children they bore and loved. It can be dangerous to pursue power endlessly, not only for oneself but for one’s children. Men clearly have had the advantage throughout history in that they had less constraints limiting their quest for power. A woman who pursued power would likely have less children live to adulthood, since her energies would be being spent elsewhere. Wheras a man who pursued power could mate with as many women as his power provided resources for.

  3. Christopher Allman Reply

    John, as for your point about having privlidge and empathy.
    You say that its not like an impovershed African can emphathize with a rich American….
    You are totally right,
    …but who cares?
    That poor African has zero power or influence over the privliged. The primary reason it is so important for the privledged to recognize their position and increase their empathy for the disadvantaged is because part of being an advantaged person is that you have some sort of ability to influence the world (either in small ways or large ways) that is greater than those without privlidge and, if you are unable to empathize with the unempowered, you will influence the world in a way that only serves to help yourself and harm the poor.

  4. Christopher Allman Reply

    I think the greatest genius of the church in regards to structure, is the lay leadership. By having a lay leadership, it triggers into humans innate desire for status. It is no wonder those most succesful in the church are also those most succesful in the world.
    The sort of people who are driven by (and good at) the things required to succeed in the world, use those same skills to succeed in the Church. (being good with people, being good at following community standards. Being good at doing what they are told. being outgoing. being hardworking. Etc)

    People who are ambitious and succesfull that would otherwise, likely not be interested in spending their foreseeable lives under the leadership of a priest or pastor. But, because they have a chance to succeed and have status, they stay.
    I believe this is the primary reason why the Church has such a high rate of educated members (unlike most other churchs) because it offers something for the educated, to be LEADERS, while other Churches require everyone to be followers, unless you want to dedicate your life to religion. Mormonism allows one to be a religious leader AND dedicate their lives to worldy success.

    Basically, the Church (in regards to leadership), like Capitalism and Evolution, is succesful for the same reason. It follows the principals of Natural selection where the fittest survive and the unfit fall by the wayside.

  5. Witt Reply

    I have enjoyed most podcasts but this one was aweful. Interesting topic but Lindsay’s myopic view of feminism, plus her display of ignorance on the subject, at least at an academic level, makes her the most annoying commentator. Moreover, time will vindicate this blessing: her efforts to change church policy will go nowhere. As a disaffected member I say this: the church will never ever listen to feminists. Sorry but it’s the truth. It’s a lost cause.

    • Seth Reply

      I like Lindsay, she makes some very valid points, but her slavish adherence to gender feminism often undermines her arguments (i.e. she has previously brought up Brownmiller’s rape/power argument as gospel despite years of criticism). The idea that masculinity and femininity are social constructs, assigned to one or the other sex by either patriarchy or matriarchy ignores at least 30 years of science. This is not to say that patriarchy does not reinforce or “magnify” the male tendency toward a controlling masculinity but the idea that ancient or modern patriarchal societies are the sole authors of male masculinity is idealistic.

      • KLucy Reply

        I hear gender feminism, but not slavish adherence to it. Also, the idea that gender constructs are disproven by biology seems to indicate a somewhat reductive understanding of the theory. I’ve never heard anyone argue that boys get their testosterone assigned to them by the patriarchy.

  6. Megan Reply

    Loved the John/Lindsay dynamic!

    I think it was really helpful to have a bit of definition of terms thrown in there as it helped lay the ground for the points of view. While I don’t agree with the fairly specific definition of ‘feminism’ that Lindsay gave, it was an honest expression of the foundations of her rhetorical point of view and that was fantastic.

    I sort of struggle with the OW movement, probably because I don’t have the ‘tribe’ affiliation with Mormonism. I selfishly want these efforts to be on the leading edge of humanist movements. So I’m really glad that there are these voices out there to challenge my beliefs and help me better understand.

    [Lindsay – I’d push back on the idea that you should be a member of a group to have the ‘right’ to help work towards better conditions etc. Just saying 🙂 ]

  7. Peggy Reply

    Spoiler alert. This is a long post.
    It doesn’t sound to me as if some of you are understanding what the ladies were describing when they talked about positions of privilege and how they relate to power.


    A position of privilege can best be described as “something a person IS or HAS that enables them to MORE EASILY obtain a resource.”

    The privileged position can be a minor one that most people would not notice as a privilege (examples: good throwing arm, unusual ability to remember names). Or they can be privileges that most people enjoy and usually do not recognize as privilege (a neurotypical brain, average sight, moderate intelligence, average hearing, normal speech, working hands, etc.). Then there is a third category – privilege that is more frequently noticed (race, ethnicity, gender, wealth, lack of severe handicaps, etc.).

    Whatever the position of privilege one has, it is difficult for the person who has always possessed that privilege to understand the complaints or problems of those who do not possess the privilege. That is simply human nature – we notice what we experience as lack or a bad state easier than noticing things we experience as ease or a good state.


    Privilege is a different thing than power, but one enables the other. How?

    Since we all have positions of privilege in some way (and some of us in many ways), we all have access to the ability to obtain the power associated with our own particular privilege(s). That does not necessarily mean we will achieve extra power or even want to, but HAVING THE PRIVILEGE confers the power of choice.

    EXAMPLE: I can choose to reach up to the highest shelf in the drugstore for my aspirin because I have the positions of privilege of being able to stand and extend my arm far enough to grasp the aspirin. Someone in a wheel chair does not and may need to select Tylenol from a lower shelf. I can CHOOSE to take the Tylenol from a lower shelf, but it is a choice, NOT an inability that makes me select from a lower shelf.

    The difference is possibility and choice vs. inability and lack of choice. Just having the possibility confers a psychological advantage, if nothing else.

    In male-only ordination, males are the only ones with the choice to do what it takes to move into the power structure. (Yes, they may be missing some other positions of privilege to actually make that happen, like a great career or the right ancestors, but that does not remove the first privilege (having the priesthood) which at least confers the power of some status over the person who will never have that privilege.

    Women on the other hand, do not even start with the most powerful, first element – the priesthood, so all of the other positions of privilege the woman may have are irrelevant. Going back to the drugstore analogy, you must be able to stand (the priesthood) before it makes any difference what kind of shoes you are wearing (your ancestors).

    Whether we are speaking about achieving equality for a black male or a female in the church, equality can only occur if the most powerful position of privilege of the ruling class is at available to all.

    The Ordain Women movement is only asking for equity in the most important privilege (as black men were). The rest can come later.

  8. justMe Reply

    OH I have so much I want to say on this topic. @Witt I couldn’t disagree with you more. I thought Lindsay was brilliant. @Peggy – thanks for you post. I will return later.

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