It is delightful, some times, to see how the LDS Church is seen from the outside. For example, you might be surprised that one thing many Baptist scholars respect about the Church is the way the Church is open about the flaws in its leaders and history compared to other institutions. Further, it seems that the further in the past something is, the easier it is for people to be open.
No one seems to blanch at the thought that Noah got drunk and passed out in public, that Peter after he began to lead the Church still bowed to social pressure at times (and was confronted about it by Paul) or that Moses had issues over his marriages and children. Most Catholics have long resolved their issues with the inquisitions and the times there were two or three popes.
The same way one looks at the current Church and its strengths and weaknesses, one can look at you can look at Samuel. Samuel had sons who were rapacious. They used the female attendants at the temple as a personal harem, they disrupted services to take portions of the sacrifices other than those allocated to them in proper time and order and they took bribes to corrupt justice. Imagine if Thomas Monson had some sons that kept their mistresses employed at the Salt Lake Temple, felt free to loot the Bishop’s Storehouse regularly and were employed as judges in Utah who freely (and apparently publicly) supplemented their income with bribes.
It is not surprising that against such a backdrop the Children of Israel decided that they wanted a king rather than continuing on with the pot luck of judges – nor is it surprising that when they were warned of where a bad king might lead them they did not see it as so bad. Tellingly, Samuel’s response to this all, when he conferred with God was to see this as a repudiation not of God but of himself. Of course we know what God told Samuel. The people had not rejected Samuel, they had rejected God.
I know that most bloggers do not see the LDS Church as refreshingly open compared to other groups. I would suggest that viewpoint makes a difference (though I would acknowledge that just doing better than someone else is not necessarily a sign of doing good enough) in this and other things.
Where do you think a neutral viewpoint might be different from the common view often found in the bloggernacle?