I was part of an interesting conversation a couple of days ago. We were talking about "priestcraft", which requires two things:
- To receive the praise of throngs of people.
- To solicit and bask in that praise.
But if the second definition is figured in, he would not be guilty of priestcraft, because surely he didn't do it to receive all the attention and praise.
I suspected that at times such adoration was slightly embarrassing to him, and I wondered aloud in our conversation: "Did President Hinckley ever get asked for autographs? If so, how did he handle the situation?"
I think he would have politely declined, but I guess I'm not sure. There is a policy guideline from over 30 years ago stating the following:
Collecting Autographs and Greeting General Authorities. “There is a growing tendency in the Church for members to request autographs of General Authorities who are visiting the stakes and missions. In some places there has developed a competition to see who can collect the most signatures in hymnbooks and even in books of scripture. When autograph seekers appear at the close of meetings, this becomes a distraction making it difficult for General Authorities to greet people. In addition, it gives something of the image of a celebrity to the Brethren, which may not be in keeping with the sacred callings entrusted to them. …The policy seems to imply what should happen. But is that what always happens? The policy doesn't seem like a hard and fast rule. What do you think? Should a church leader--of any church, for that matter--popular because of their position--sign autographs?
“General Authorities are always grateful for the opportunity to shake hands with the members of the Church. It would be more in keeping with our pattern of meetings and of worship for leaders to greet the members and shake hands with them rather than to sign autographs.”