Saturday, September 8, 2012

LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland Reluctantly Approves Dixie State College Naming Their New Centennial Commons After Him

On September 7th, 2012, an overflow crowd looked on as college officials, government officials and leading authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated the new Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons on the campus of Dixie State College in St. George, Utah. The guest of honor was Elder Holland himself, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. KSL Channel 5 news video embedded below:

To his credit, Elder Holland first declined when asked if he would be willing to let the building bear his name. But Dixie State officials waged a hard-sell campaign, saying that it was for the students, representing a commons building for a common student with common dreams and a common life, and maybe an uncommon hope. The fact that Elder Holland is from the St. George area and graduated from Dixie State in 1963 also softened his opposition and changed his mind.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the Church’s First Presidency, also paid tribute to Holland prior to offering the dedicatory prayer, noting that Elder Holland now spends much of his time traveling the world as a leading representative of a Church that has more than 14 million members in nearly 200 countries. President Uchtdorf characterized Holland’s travel schedule as "head-spinning".

Dixie State President Stephen D. Nadauld said, "He [Holland] has inspired a generation and we want his name to inspire generations in the future. We want a young person to come into this building and say, ‘Who is this man for whom this building is named and why is he important in this community?'"

The need for the facility is beyond question. Dixie State recently has seen a 60 percent increase in students, necessitating many changes on campus. As a state-of-the-art digital learning center, a library with very few books, the five-story, 170,000 square feet Holland Centennial Commons will provide new learning opportunities for students. The $38 million building, which took only 15 months to build, will serve as the centerpiece of the campus, located in the heart of St. George's historic Encampment Mall. Watch the 11-minute video tour of the facility embedded below:

But not all Church members are enamored of Jeffrey Holland having his name appended onto a building. The Bare Record blog, edited by an observant Mormon, was subtly critical of the process. Some of the people who posted comments to the blog post think it's idolatry to name a building after a living person:

Anonymous September 7, 2012 10:16 AM:
If my memory serves me correctly, the first time a building was dedicated to a living general authority was for Gordon B. Hinckley. Buildings were usually dedicated after the death of one of these "general authorities". Now that Hinckley set the precedence, I guess it is now okay to laud these men while they are yet alive. What is happening to this Church? I am a convert of 40 years and am absolutely dismayed at what is beginning to come forth from this institution.

What is the difference between all the monuments the government has built for men long dead and the Church building monuments for the now living? I was never comfortable with dedicating buildings to general authorities. I don't recall the prophets of the book of mormon dedicating buildings to their memory. What happened to the pure Gospel of Christ?

However, this trend is not restricted to the LDS Church. Secular society is engaging in the same behavior; the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) had his name appended to Anchorage International Airport while he was still alive. Nonetheless, I'm pleased that Elder Holland initially resisted the proposal, and it shows the General Authorities are concerned over the prospect of idolatry of Church leaders.

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