The Brethren

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
Post Reply
Posts: 6000
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

The Brethren

Post by Roy » 28 May 2020, 15:46

Last night it stuck me how odd is the term the "brethren"

We tend to use it as shorthand for church leadership above the stake level. "The SP is awaiting direction from the brethren to decide if we reopen our local church meetings." This term also can be used specifically to refer to the Q15. The term can also refer in general to the male members of the church. "We would like to thank the brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood for passing the sacrament in a reverent manner." No matter what level of leadership a woman might receive in the church (RS General President, YW General President, or Primary General President), they are never included in with the term "brethren."

the non-lds definition of brethren is the archaic plurar of brother, fellow Christians, or members of a male religious order.

There was a book by Bob Woodward by that name about the Supreme Court of the 1960's and 70's.

There was a book by John Grisham by that name about three former judges that start up a blackmail scam.

I speculate that the term might have been used to refer to judges of a particular level back in the day before there were any female judges. "the brethren of the Supreme Court."

I imagine that this term would seem weird to investigators. It is unspecific enough to conjure such imaginings as "big brother" from Orwell's novel 1984.

I wonder if the term "church leadership" would be a roughly equivalent and gender neutral term that could be used as a replacement.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
Posts: 4378
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: The Brethren

Post by nibbler » 28 May 2020, 17:36

The google dictionary (what is this, a sacrament talk? ;) ) shows that usage for the word brethren peaked in the late 1830s and the usage has trailed off ever since.

I'm not entirely sure where the data comes from, I think from some library of books. The point is that I think it was a more common word back when the church was first founded and that it has been preserved out of tradition.

In 2020 the word "brethren" feels kind of... how do I put this? Fundamentalist to an unhealthy degree.

I would like to see us move to your suggested "church leadership." Moving to a more gender balanced leadership would help a lot in that regard. I've mentioned this in other contexts but there are over 100 male general authorities and nine female general authorities. It would be easier to change our language if the thing the language was meant to describe changed.
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

User avatar
Posts: 7029
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: The Brethren

Post by DarkJedi » 29 May 2020, 04:02

I've thought the term weird and archaic before as well. But I also think it odd we call each other brother and sister, and I thought that odd when I was investigating the church. I recall having a hard time getting used to it at first. I've never really asked anyone outside the church what they think, but it would seem to add to the cult-like mystique some think we have. While I'm at it, the term investigator as someone looking into the church is falling out of favor - Preach My Gospel says not to use it. As an investigator I also thought that term odd. But I still hear it used with regularity (not by missionaries and many leaders though). Maybe it's time we dump some of our vernacular not directly related to theology.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Minyan Man
Posts: 1870
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: The Brethren

Post by Minyan Man » 29 May 2020, 05:05

Every organization & religion has it's own terminology. We are not the only ones.
To add to the list, the term apostate. I have never heard it used in another organization or church.

Posts: 92
Joined: 25 Aug 2018, 18:49

Re: The Brethren

Post by Arrakeen » 29 May 2020, 07:18

For me one of the weirdest ones is calling 18 year old boys “Elder”. And as for the Brother and Sister thing, I’ve noticed older adults don’t use it when addressing the YSA. It’s like they’re the “real” adults who are called Brother/Sister so and so, but we’re still kids who don’t merit the same respect. Though personally I prefer being called by my name.

Minyan Man
Posts: 1870
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: The Brethren

Post by Minyan Man » 29 May 2020, 09:29

Arrakeen wrote:
29 May 2020, 07:18
...Though personally I prefer being called by my name.
I absolutely agree. Calling me by my name signifies, to me, that you consider me a friend.
Or, at the very least an equal.

Even when we maybe called to a position of responsibility or "authority", I would not like to be referred to with a title.
The only exception is: Dad or Grandpa.

Post Reply