Sunday, May 02, 2004

Bottom-up or top-down?

This may seem trivial, but as one of the priests was preparing to say the sacrament prayer today, he pulled too hard on the little pull-out microphone and it made a kind of popping sound. He was obviously embarrassed at not having pulled it out quietly enough. My wandering mind started to wonder: how did it come about that we have these little pull-out microphones at the sacrament table as standard features in chapels? Was this an idea that started somewhere local and spread popularly, was recognized higher up in the hierarchy as a good idea, and then adopted as standard? Or was it the idea of someone at the top that was propagated down to the local level?

I rather suspect it was the former. But so what, you ask? Well, there have been some programs that have been started on a local level and, when successful, became a standard part of the official Church program. This seems to be quite accepted, despite the perception of the Church as a very “top-down” organization. Does this say anything about how we should perceive the workings of revelation and the Spirit in the Church? Are there doctrinal or “theological” examples of “bottom-up” influence? If not, does this point to a distinction between doctrine & practice contra some suggestions in the relatively recent Belief and Practice thread at Times & Seasons?

Is either “bottom-up” or “top-down” influence preferable? Can both fit the model of revelation in the Church?


  1. Well, the first thought that comes to mind as far as "bottom up" revelation is the prophet Samuel - a boy giving revelation to the then-current high priest. That may not be the best fit, but there's at least the appearance of a similarity.

      [Comment originally posted by: Zach | Homepage | 05.04.04 - 12:38 am]

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I think there's plenty of room for both, as expressed by OSC in my too- long post at BCC.

      [Comment originally posted by: Tom | 05.04.04 - 4:39 pm]

  4. Relief Society, Primary, and maybe Sunday School all had origins in a bottom-up model that was later adopted and spread to the rest of the Church by top-down methods.

    I like to to think that part of being anxiously engaged is constantly looking for better ways of doing things. Thus, it makes sense to me that a Church full of anxiously engaged people would generate plenty of good ideas at both the top and bottom.

      [Comment originally posted by: BDemosthenes | Homepage | 05.08.04 - 11:45 pm]