Supporters of chicken patriarchy like to cite calling on family members to say prayers as an example of a duty that the father in a family, as the presider and priesthood holder, must perform. I suspect this is a preferred example because it carves out a required role for the man, but it avoids the offensiveness of men’s supposed duties that fans of paleo-patriarchy might cite, such as the duty to be the final decider in matters of schooling, employment, or spending.
Because this is such a oft-cited example (in blog discussions at least), it is with some glee that I report that as the husband and father in my family, I have abdicated this duty to an algorithm. And not even one of my own making! One of my kids came up with it. And to be fair, calling it an algorithm is making it sound way more complicated than it is. It’s a very simple system. In case you’re curious, here’s how it works. Family members are ordered by age, and each family member is assigned a number from zero to number of family members minus one. The day of the month is then divided by the number of family members, and the remainder is matched up to one of the assigned numbers to find who gets to say family prayer. For blessings at mealtime, the meal number (1, 2, or 3; no allowance is made for things like second breakfast) is added to the date. For example, today is May 26th. There are five people in my family. To decide who says the blessing on lunch, we take 26 (day) + 2 (meal number), divide by 5 (number of family members), yielding a remainder of 3, so this means it’s my second oldest child’s turn (since the family is numbered 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 in age order).
Before you judge me too harshly for using an algorithm rather than relying on my own inspiration, consider another organization that uses algorithms to make religious assignments. Here’s a list of all men who have been called to the First Quorum of the Seventy and who have given at least one Conference talk since President Monson became Church President. They are listed alphabetically within each year of calling. Conferences in which each man spoke are indicated with an X. Men on the list who have subsequently moved on to other callings have their rows grayed out starting with the Conference at which this occurred.
|Call yr||Name||08 Oct||09 Apr||09 Oct||10 Apr||10 Oct||11 Apr||11 Oct||12 Apr||12 Oct||13 Apr||13 Oct||14 Apr||14 Oct||15 Apr||15 Oct||16 Apr|
1. Called to the Presiding Bishopric in March, 2012.
2. Called to the Presiding Bishopric in March, 2012. Called to the Quorum of the Twelve in October, 2015.
3. Given emeritus status in October, 2013.
4. Called to the Quorum of the Twelve in October, 2015.
5. Called to the Presidency of the Seventy in October, 2015.
6. Previously served in the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
There are some exceptions, but it looks like in general, the Seventies called in an April Conference then give talks in the following October Conference. If there isn’t enough space to accommodate them all, then some are pushed back to the following April, and the ones who are pushed back are the ones at the end of the alphabet.
The exceptions are potentially interesting too. Elder Bennett, for example, gave his second Conference talk an entire year early, in October 2015, while his peers called the same year likely won’t give their second talks until this coming October. Someone must like his work. Perhaps he should be considered an early favorite to be called to the Presidency of the Seventy or even the Quorum of the Twelve.
Anyway, getting back to my original topic, what do you think of handing some faith-related decisions off to algorithms? Are there any in particular that you would like to turn over to an algorithm? Any that you think definitely shouldn’t be turned over?