March Madness. The only time of year I really care about college basketball. It’s fun to bandwagon, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
For you basketball fans, march madness means that ever illusive mistress otherwise known as the bracket challenge.
An interesting phenomenon of bracketology is the influence of the bracket owner’s bias for their favorite teams, their alma mater, or cinderella stories they fantasize going all the way to the championship.
My bracket usually includes a hybrid of my best pragmatic guesses (based on a crash course of rankings and regular season performance) with the teams and schools I have an achilles heel for supporting, or ones I would like to see upset the whole balance in the NCAA universe.
So if I may, I think bracketology is a great context to approach the guessing game of who the next apostles are going to be.
A few guidelines going into this game of whodunit, or rather, whosgunnadoit. Ready?
1. This is a guessing game. Players are not to “seek revelation” in order to win this game. IF the decision was in fact ours to choose our new leaders, we’d basically be Catholic.
2. The new apostles can really be any Melchizedek Priesthood holder, aka man. But for the sake of simplicity let’s just assume the new apostles are to be plucked from the ranks of church leadership among the 70s and general auxiliary presidencies.
3. Don’t get offended over this. Cause that bums us out. You know you’re curious and want to play, so just come along. No judgement. We’re all going to (probably) sustain who is actually called to fill the seat of prophets, seers and administrators, anyway.
OK, that said, here’s my blend of pragmatic and idealistic choices based entirely on my own observations, fantasies, wishful thinking and practical jockeying, having only been aided and abetted by a crystal ball on one occasion.
Ronald Rasband. – Rasband is a class act. He’s proven his mettle and paid his dues as well by drifting with the winds of doctrine all over the world in service of the church. He even spoke once at a zone conference on my mission in Belgium, so bam! Personal fave AND perfectly logical choice. He’s also got that one-degree of separation between him and the apostles on that leadership chart centerfold in the Conference ensign. Bonus points for being the only one to give a talk on religious liberty that didn’t leave me with rigor mortis from cringing too much.
Larry Echohawk – I love Larry Echohawk. Definitely a fantasy pick for me. Maybe because while in the Obama administration he did great and wonderful things for Native Americans and Tribes across the country. But he’s probably not that realistic to make it all the way. He’s my Gonzaga. It might be the lingering ghost of guilty-by-racial-association (paging George P. Lee??), or the fact that he’s a raging liberal. Either way, he’s definitely got a spot in my bracket, but I’m calling it one of my passion picks.
Edward Dube – There’s just no delicate way to put this, but we need an apostle who looks…at the world in a totally different way and context than a farm boy from rural Idaho. I give you Edward Dube: a farm boy from rural Zimbabwe. OK, his dashing looks might add a dash of pepper to an otherwise very white Alfredo sauce, and that would just make the whole dish look so much better. Not to mention the incredible symbol of progress it would be to see an Apostle in possession of a physical attribute that was once banned from all forms of priesthood leadership, namely the color of his skin.
Craig Zwick – Here’s another one that is both a fantasy pick and a possible, if not probable choice. Sure, he might be too rich, but–oh never mind, luckily that’s usually rewarded in church leadership! One thing for sure, Zwick is genuine, and let’s face it, he has that rare blend of apostolic/newscaster hair that would make ol’ Mittens jealous. He also spoke to a crowd of missionaries in the MTC…and I was one of those missionaries, so again, bam!
Gary Stevenson – Here’s one of those dark horse picks of a leader who has been very active and very involved in where the rubber hits the road with managing church programs across the world. You know, one of those leaders who’s hands are all over everything, but one who most members still don’t really know yet. Not the household name in Mormonism, but he’d make a great apostle. He’s a good soldier from an administrative standpoint, but methinks he’s also a deep thinker. Anyway, I don’t have to justify myself to you. He’s on my bracket, OK?!
Gerald Causse – Another pick from the P.B. (Presiding Bishopric) which might be a little risky for practical bracketology, but Causse has been a stirring and rising voice from the General Conference pulpit. Sure, he’s probably in the long list of finalists, and I don’t think he’ll make the ultimate cut, as much as I’d love it. Frankly, that french accent sounds too socialist and I personally believe that our general membership just isn’t quite ready for that kind of fromage blanc. I blame the Ghost of Cleon Skousen.
Now, with every good bracket, you give proper place to your wild cards, those picks that make people’s eyebrows raise when they look over your bracket. Maybe something to throw them, maybe something to stir the pot a little from the traditional bracketologists that favor the most in-the-box and safest approach. Well, I’ve chosen my wild cards accordingly, and while they aren’t totally out of the realm of possibility, the argument to include them is so much more interesting than leaving them off. Without further ado, here are my wild card picks.
Michael Otterson!! Although he’s certainly earned his stripes at being great at divining the will of the brethren and letting the world know what it is (especially when they don’t), he’s probably more useful when he can use that brash tongue of his to speak in spin, which, I fear, wouldn’t be a great M.O. from the general conference pulpit.
Cecil Samuelson. Please no. Please. Closing my eyes and tossing him in there because my logic says it’s a strategic choice for the good of my bracket, but my soul dies at the prospect of it. I attended BYU for a moment, and was no fan of the Cecil.
Kim B. Clark. Listen, I’m only including past presidents of church-owned madrassas because it seems to be a popular method of choosing apostles. Perhaps all the BYUs aren’t just a training ground for young Mormon jihadists, but a proving ground as well for potential big-C Church leaders. I mean, if we can foster this kind of militant, standard-enforcing power in a leader, just think of the kind of insights he’d bring to the table as a church-wide administrator! We’ll never be wicked again! At least not in rolling up our pants “four to eight inches above the ankle.”
Well, that rounds out my bracket. Who do you think would make a great apostle and add a unique dynamic to a new quorum of 12 to take the church bravely into the mid-21st century? In the end, as a practicing Mormon I intend to approach this General Conference with a prayer much more sincere than this tongue-in-cheek article, and I aim to sustain anyone who is called. I have faith in the system, flawed as all of us may be.