Here’s another sampling of the questions church members asked George Q. Cannon to answer through the pages of the Juvenile Instructor in 1897. Some of them are still relevant and I can imagine their being asked today … but my favorites are of course the ones steeped in the social conditions of the time they were asked:
Are persons ever ordained to the higher Priesthood without first being ordained to the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood?
Yes. It has not been uncommon to ordain persons to the Melchisedek Priesthood who have never held the Aaronic Priesthood, though the feeling is very general among the authorities of the Church that it is a better plan to ordain, especially in the case of young men, to the offices of the lesser Priesthood in the first place. By ordaining young men Deacons and then Teachers and then Priests after the order of Aaron, they can gain experience and be better prepared to discharge the duties of the higher Priesthood when they are ordained Elders, Seventies, etc. It is frequently the case, however, in preaching the Gospel in the world, that Elders find it necessary to ordain recently baptized men to the Melchisedek Priesthood that they may be able to organize branches and have men qualified to assist them in preaching the Gospel and administering the ordinances to the people among whom they dwell.
We repeat, therefore, that persons can be ordained to the higher Priesthood without first being ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.
Did Aaron hold the Melchisedek Priesthood?
We do not know of any record within our reach in which this question is answered. But it is extremely probable, and we think the weight of evidence is in favor of the conclusion, that he did hold the melchisedek Priesthood. He was the spokesman of his brother Moses, and before presiding over the Aaronic Priesthood acted as one might act who held the office of a High Priest in the Melchisedek Priesthood.
Should the tobacco smokers and chewers sit together in partaking of the Sacrament, as many of them leave the fumes of their tobacco in the water after they have drunk of the cup?
This is a very pertinent question. We do not know how these parties would like to be put by themselves and made to drink after the rest had got through; but certainly a good many would like to have it that way rather than to partake of the cup upon which the fumes of tobacco had been left for them to inhale.
Is it right and proper for a non-Mormon to be appointed and set apart to be a Counselor in the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association?
We deemed it proper to submit this question to President Joseph F. Smith, who is one of the Presidency of that Association. He informed us that the question had been submitted to the General Superintendency, and they did not consider it proper for a non-member of the church to hold a presiding position in an association which is a Church organization. All such, however, should be welcomed to the Associations as members, and be encouraged to take part in the exercises; but the presiding officers should be members of the Church. If, however, any one of this class did occupy a position, the Presidency did not think it wise to change the existing arrangements this season.
A question is asked whether it would be right for those who are called upon to administer the sacrament to partake of it first, before passing it to the congregation.
This is not generally done. It is after all have partaken that those who administer the sacrament partake of the bread and drink of the cup themselves. there is nothing wrong, however, about their partaking of it first; but it is not the general practice in the Church to do so.
We are asked if a dramatic company, playing in one of our meeting houses, should perform a play which requires the actors to raise their hands towards heaven and swear by the gods, etc. Our correspondent says that it was the Grecian gods who were referred to in the play. He asks whether it would not be advisable to keep such performances out of our meeting houses.
Such performances are certainly not adapted for meeting houses. Performed anywhere, they are likely to make too familiar the use of the name of Deity. There is a sacredness about the name of our Father in heaven which ought to be maintained. Children should be taught never to use that name lightly. We have an example in the case of the Melchisedek priesthood. Before the days of Melchisedek, the priesthood now known by his name was called the “holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God”; but out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of His name, they (the church) in ancient days called that priesthood after Melchisedek, or the melchisedek priesthood. This should be remembered by us; and in joking, or in relating language used by others, the name of the Deity should not be used at all.
A correspondent asks the question, What course should she pursue when the name of a sister is presented to be voted for as president of an association who, she knows, makes slighting remarks about the President of the Stake and her Bishop, and who, she knows also, is not in harmony with either one?
Our correspondent seems to be perplexed as to what course she should take. She shrinks from the thought of arising in the meeting and stating her reasons for not voting, and yet she feels that in her conscience she cannot sustain this sister.
In a case of this kind the sister should tell her husband, or some friend, what her scruples are, and let this friend communicate them either to the Bishop or to the President of the Stake, that they may know what objections she has, and if they are objections that are well taken they should not present such a person for the vote of the people. It would not be wise, speaking generally, for a person to arise in the meeting and explain the reasons for voting against another, without in the first place taking a course to make these explanations in private to the officers in charge. this can easily be done through the medium of a teacher, or some other prudent person, who will be able to weigh the character of the objections which are entertained. This would prevent the one who has objections from being placed in an embarrassing and awkward position.
[Added 7 March:]
This earthenware jug is one of four made by Niels Jensen in 1855. Each held 6-8 gallons and were set on two tables, one on either side of the Tabernacle stand. (In 1855, this would be the old, pointed-roof tabernacle, not the “new” one we’re familiar with; similar practices, possibly with the identical jugs and other fittings, were followed when the new Tabernacle was built.) A brass cock was fitted to the opening near the bottom, and was used to fill water pitchers (not seen in this photo). Water from the pitchers was transferred to the silver tankards seen in this photo — those tankards were the “common cup” passed during sacrament services in the tabernacle.