Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Technology as part of the future of the LDS Church

I was reminded of a quote from Brigham Young about the changes in technology in the latter days. Here is the quote from an article by Archibald F. Bennett in 1952:
'Sister Susa Young Gates..once asked her father (Brigham Young) how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation. He told her there would be many inventors of labor saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord.' (Archibald F. Bennett, Improvement Era, Oct. 1952, p. 720)
 Now, I suppose Brother Bennett would be even more convinced of the wonderful changes if he could have seen iPads and smartphones. We now have the technology and it is increasing in its capacity to enlarge the work, but where are the workers? If ease of use equated to more involvement, we should have many more people actively involved in researching their families.

I think part of the key to answering this question is difficulty of integrating that same technology into the social structure of the Church. How many people in any given Ward use regularly? How many of those same people have looked at Why am I still regularly teaching High Priest Group Leaders and Stake Presidencies how to get onto and Many of the Priesthood quorums of the Church are still at the level of trying to get the quorum members to do their home teaching. Moving beyond that level to learning a new technology has yet started to happen in many Wards I visit around the Church.

The core research of family history is still being done primarily by a small dedicated subculture. Even in this dedicated group, the advanced technology is not always looked on as a benefit to the work, but is viewed as a challenge and a burden. In order for the technology to do what Brigham Young predicted, the culture of the Church has to move towards that technology so that it is not something from the "outside" of the culture imposing on the members rather than helping them.

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) echoed this sentiment when he expressed his belief that the Lord will inspire new inventions to help us in advancing His work: 

“I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith. …

“… I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 7, 10). The Lord will provide the means. [6.1.2]

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the many individuals who were developing new and more efficient computer technology to simplify our work in family history: “Many brilliant minds and sensitive hearts have harnessed advanced technology to provide personal computer helps to simplify family history work” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 6).

Now that we have the tools, what are we going to do with them?

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