Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have More Questions, 1894

I Have More Questions, 1894

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 05, 2011

Questions from the past, answered by George Q. Cannon in the pages of the Juvenile Instructor

Q. Who has the authority to excommunicate members from the Aaronic Priesthood? Does this come under the jurisdiction of the Bishopric or not?

A. The Bishopric has authority to excommunicate from the Church lay members, or those who have received only the Aaronic Priesthood.

Q. How far can members of the Aaronic priesthood, who are transgressors, be handled by their respective quorums?

A. The quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood can only deal with their members who are in transgression to the extent of withdrawing from such transgressors the fellowship of the quorum. The quorums have no authority to deprive them of their membership in the Church.

Q. Would it be right for a member of the Melchisedek Priesthood and one of the Aaronic Priesthood to take part in administering to the sick?

A. Any member in the Church would be committing no sin to lay his or her hands upon the head of one who is sick, and bless or pray for the individual. Members of the Aaronic Priesthood may act in this way under the direction of and in connection with the Melchisedek Priesthood when called upon to do so by those holding the Melchisedek Priesthood.

It is, however, perfectly proper and advisable for the sick to use oil for their afflictions, and God will sanctify the anointing to their good. All the Saints should be careful, however, to not overstep the rights which belong to them as members of the Church or members of the priesthood.

Q. There seems to have been a discussion among members of a Theological class in one of our Sunday schools concerning the right of an Elder or Seventy to baptize members into the church. There was some question as to whether a man holding this priesthood was authorized to exercise it in this direction unless he was set apart for a mission.

A. It is certainly the right of either Elders or Seventies to baptize and confirm members into the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, but they should not do so in any regularly organized branch or Ward of the Church without first consulting with and obtaining the permission of the presiding authorities in said branch or Ward. There is order in the Church which every man should strictly observe. This requires that Saints be amenable and labor under the direction of the general or local authorities. Therefore, whatever rights a man may possess through receiving the priesthood, should be exercised only in consonance with the feelings and wishes of those in whose care the various portions of the vineyard are placed.

Q. An esteemed correspondent asks us several questions concerning round dancing. From what she says it seems to be the practice in the ward to which she belongs for the musicians at a ball to play a number of waltz tunes, and she inquires whether it is proper for this temptation to be placed in the way of the young people and they be expected to resist it.

A. In reply we say that the playing of such tunes ought to be avoided if it be the design to have the young people refrain from waltzing. There certainly is no necessity for the playing of such tunes and exciting the desire on the part of those who can waltz to join in the round dance.

Q. Next, she asks: Is the responsibility of stopping round dancing equally upon the shoulders of the young men and the young ladies, or chiefly upon the latter?

A. The responsibility rests equally upon both sexes; but the greater responsibility rests upon those who have the party in charge, whether it be the Bishop or a committee.

Q. Again: Are the Latter-day Saints permitted to dance two round dances in an evening, or are these dances forbidden entirely?

A. We understand that some years ago, when round dancing was freely indulged in, and an attempt was made to check the practice, permission was granted for two round dances only during an evening. It is better, however, inasmuch as round dancing is not considered as decorous and proper for young people to indulge in as square dancing, that round dancing be entirely dropped.

The objection to round dancing will suggest itself to very person who looks on and sees the manner in which it is conducted. A husband and a wife, a brother and a sister, or two young ladies, might dance a round dance and there would be no impropriety in their doing so; but if such persons indulge in waltzing, others would think that they also should have the same liberty. and when persons of both sexes dance promiscuously there are those who will take advantage of the familiarity which the found dancing affords, and evil is likely to result therefrom. Is not this plain? Innocent girls may not be aware of the danger to which they may be exposed in this style of dancing; but older persons of more experience perceive it. They know that there is danger of sinful temptation following the familiarity which this kind of dancing permits. It is for this reason that objection is urged, by the leading men of the Church, to the practice of round dances. They would like all the young people of the Church to understand the reasons they have for using their influence against waltzing. it is not for the purpose of curtailing their enjoyment to keep them from indulging in a form of amusement which might lead to serious and dreadful consequences. For it should be the aim of every virtuous person of both sexes to avoid the familiarity which the clasping of each other in the round dance admits of. Besides, it is scarcely to be supposed that all who frequent balls are so pure as to be above temptation. There are some, doubtless, who obtain access to such gatherings who are ready to take advantage of the liberty which the round dance affords to accomplish evil ends. For this reason, if for no other, this form of dance should be avoided.

Q. If an aged man is brought up before the bishop and his council to be tried, and he is a man that is not fully capable of explaining his own position, is there anything in the laws of the Church to prevent his having a man belonging to the Church act as his spokesman at the trial?

A. There is nothing in the laws of the Church against one of the brethren acting as spokesman for another in a case of this kind. But, of course, there would have to be great care taken in granting permission of this character, for the reason that there are so many would-be lawyers who would like to get an opportunity to argue cases before the Bishops’ Courts, and make themselves disagreeable, and perhaps offensive. But for one man to speak for another in the spirit of the gospel and in a way to explain fully to the Bishop’s Court the position of the other man who is up for trial, there can be no objection to it – that is, if the accused is a man not fully capable of explaining his own case.

Q. We are asked whether terrestrial and telestial beings will inhabit this sphere after it is celestialized, or whether they occupy another sphere.

A. The revelations of the Lord have not explained this in sufficient plainness to permit an answer to be given that is entirely definite. Still we can imagine that it is quite possible for beings who enjoy a telestial and terrestrial glory to dwell on a celestial sphere. It is not the place that constitutes the glory so much as the power and the blessings enjoyed in the Celestial Kingdom. This is illustrated in this life. There are degrees of glory in this life. Freedom and bondage co-existed in the United States a generation ago. masters were free and enjoyed great honor and distinction, while their slaves breathed the same air and had the same surroundings, but they were slaves and subject to their masters.

Q. Which is the proper way of the may ways that are practiced of asking the blessing upon the sacrament?

A. Our correspondents say that in some instances those who are administering kneel upon both knees, while others kneel upon one; some hold up the right hand, while others the left, and again, some hold up both hands, and perhaps others none at all.

The usual custom, and one that is appropriate, is for the person asking the blessing upon the Sacrament to kneel on both knees, and not lift the hands; but there is nothing imperative about this.



  1. I recall a story being told over the pulpit in my youth about an argument the arose at ward in Utah over there being more than two round dances at a wedding party. The third round dance was apparently when the bride danced with her father, and the father did not think it counted toward the limit of two for the event. I thought it an odd story and had to ask what a round dance was.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — January 5, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  2. there are so many would-be lawyers who would like to get an opportunity to argue cases before the Bishops’ Courts, and make themselves disagreeable, and perhaps offensive.

    If there is anybody more deserving of damnation than real lawyers, it must be “would-be lawyers.”

    Comment by Mark B. — January 5, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  3. Wow! The whole “how many forbidden dances can we get away with?” question is one thing, but anybody complaining about a bride dancing with her father didn’t have the faintest idea of *why* the dances were discouraged, or an ounce of common sense, either — should the two of them have tried to dance a square dance together, just the two of them? Thanks for the funny image!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 8:39 am

  4. There are some, doubtless, who obtain access to such gatherings who are ready to take advantage of the liberty which the round dance affords to accomplish evil ends.


    For it should be the aim of every virtuous person of both sexes to avoid the familiarity which the clasping of each other … admits of.

    Huh. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    Comment by Researcher — January 5, 2011 @ 8:40 am

  5. Mark, there’s a commercial playing endlessly around here showing a rogue FBI agent bellowing at a suspect, “Now we can either start talking about this, or we can call in the lawyers! Is that what you want? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?!” as if having a lawyer around were ever-so-infinitely-worse than being beaten up by that cop. Every time I hear it I want to scream back, “Yes! Shut up and call in the lawyers!” I think at that point I would even take a would-be lawyer …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  6. Several thought provoking questions, but mostly guffaws. Hmm… I wonder what old George Q.would have to say about the stake youth dances–or gasp, the high school dances–of today.

    Comment by Clark — January 5, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  7. Looks like Researcher is guffawing right along with Clark.

    I think George Q. would need to be revived with smelling salts. Or else the fire department would have to be called to deal with the aftermath of his head exploding.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  8. The response to the question about the aaronic priesthood administration is somewhat peculiar as it is more restrictive than answers GQC gave in the JI in the years immediately after this.

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 5, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  9. So when did the Church lift the ban on Round Dancing? I remember as a youth we got checked on the dance floor for bear hugging.
    It seems that in the old days going to church was a real adventure with everyone dong the Sacrement prayers in some strange manner, blessing the sick etc.

    Comment by Mex Davis — January 5, 2011 @ 9:27 am

  10. 115 years ago they parsed the number of round dances in an evening, now we parse the number of piercings in women’s ears and the number of white shirts on the men and boys. Not much has changed.

    Comment by KLC — January 5, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  11. The “not much has changed” always makes me think of the Amish — they don’t avoid electricity and buttons and telephones because those technologies are evil in themselves, but because of the effect they have on the community; which technologies they adopt and which they ban is entirely based on the effect on the community.

    We really aren’t very different when it comes to “not much has changed” — round dancing and a second ear piercing and the color of a shirt don’t matter in and of themselves; it’s what they mean to us, which changes over time. The meaning (avoid whatever stirs unchaste thoughts and feelings) is the same, even as the specifics (the form of dance under discussion) changes. No?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 9:59 am

  12. I’m intrigued by the number and specificity of “church court” questions.

    And the variations on the blessing of the sacrament.

    Comment by Paul — January 5, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  13. Thanks for this post and for the discussion, all.

    I was surprised at GQC’s instruction regarding the “usual custom” of blessing the sacramental elements. He says it’s customary and appropriate “for the person asking the blessing upon the Sacrament to kneel on both knees, and not lift the hands.” Fine. That comports with our modern standardized way of doing it. But then he adds, “but there is nothing imperative about this” (emphasis added). I suppose this is some evidence that the impulse to standardize Church practice was still just budding?

    Comment by David Y. — January 5, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  14. There’s nothing wrong with lawyers. We even have them in the Twelve… :)

    Comment by queuno — January 5, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  15. I liked the question about who — young men or young women — had the responsibility to stop round dances. It seems to indicate that even that long ago people were acting as though it was the woman’s responsibility to keep a man moral, and for just as long we’ve been saying that that isn’t so. Still, the idea hangs on.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  16. So if we summed this up, the major question would be:

    “How many lawyers can round dance on the head of a pin?”

    I’ve been to some of the junior high dances at my wife’s school where she teaches. In some aspects, it’s like a stake dance with looser dress standards, but every so often, you see things that make even my head explode. And as the spouse of a teacher, I have exactly no authority, except to stop the 7th grade boys from running in the gym with an open can of Pepsi. I say, bring back the round dances!

    Comment by kevinf — January 5, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  17. Hmmmm…some interesting things here, starting with what the heck is a round dance? If square dancing is more decorous, it must really be…something.

    I was also interested in the questions about blessing/healing the sick. Does the sentence: “it is, however, perfectly proper and advisable for the sick to use oil for their afflictions, and God will sanctify the anointing to their good,” mean that people can perform their own blessings and such? Perhaps this is common knowledge and I’m just in the dark.

    I was also taken with the question about telestial and terrestrial beings invading celestial space (this one probably has the most relevance for my future). The answer makes a great deal of sense and I think is a novel way to look at it, no? At least, I’m used to people imagining the three kingdoms to be absolutely separate, if not distant, pieces of heavenly real estate. I must say I like George Q.’s version a lot better, but that might be because it allows that I’ll be able to visit with y’all…

    Comment by Mina — January 5, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  18. round dancing = waltzes and other ballroom dances that we see as uber-wholesome today, but which a hundred-and-something years ago meant that a Stranger With Evil Intent And Probably A Flask In His Hip Pocket could put his arm around the waist of an Innocent Mormon Maiden Wearing A Thin Dancing Dress and give her a little squeeze. They were called round dances, I guess, because couples spun freely around the dance floor rather than standing in formal squares and (reel) lines.

    We’ve never had the practice of people performing blessings on themselves, but consecrated oil used to be used as a sort of cure-all medicine. People drank it, and rubbed it on ailing parts without necessarily having a blessing or any other ritual along with it. I think this kind of use is what GQC is referring to.

    I kind of like the neighborly view expressed here, too. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I guess my mental image, which I would expect to be similar to most other people’s, has been that the kingdoms occupied separate geography. When it comes right down to it, though, not enough has been revealed for us to have any clear idea of what comes next, no matter how detailed our imaginings are.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  19. Can we get a post on historic consecrated oil uses? (Comment 18 sheds light on the “What-I-Like-About-Brigham” post a few months back that left me scratching my head.)

    Comment by Clark — January 5, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  20. J. Stapley has written on this a few times — this one (Consecrated Oil as Medical Therapy) comes to mind, but he’s also slipped little bits of history into other posts and comments.

    J., is there another of your posts that you would recommend as a general overall historic view?

    (The Brigham Young post with the head scratcher is here; I can see why that puzzled you, Clark, if you hadn’t realized that oil was ever used other than a few drops on the crown of the head. In that specific context, the oil no doubt was intended to be helpful as a lubricant, too.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

  21. The first question addressed here — coincidentally also from 1894 — can be explained by realizing that the girl was rubbing oil on her throat, or perhaps swallowing it to put it on her throat from the inside, without any kind of ritual or priesthood involvement (beyond the original blessing of the oil, anyway).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  22. I don’t know how many accounts of healing I’ve come across…a lot…and I think I have only maybe 3 or 4 examples of people actually blessing themselves (though as Ardis is right that self application of consecrated oil was very common, drinking, rubbing, etc.).

    Clark, Kris Wright, presented at MHA a couple of years ago on consecrated oil and Mormon community; I’d love to see that published. It looks like I may also be working a history of consecrated oil or anointing for an edited volume.

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 5, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  23. …also, Clark, Kris’s and my piece on the development of Mormon healing ritual goes through the early oil usage.

    Comment by J. Stapley — January 5, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

  24. Thanks, J. Stapley!

    Comment by Mina — January 6, 2011 @ 10:43 am

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