Mitt Romney’s Mask

This is a late response to Sullivan’s post about Mitt Romney’s awkward charisma, which in turn built on Brian Fung’s uncanny valley analysis.

Sullivan, in showing the good sense to ask actual Mormons about this, noted the following:

Think of a pastor who has a game face, or after-Mass cheeriness, because it’s impossible for a human being truly to relate to so many different needs and individuals all the time without some kind of defense mechanism; some set of phrases to get him through a confession or consultation when he may be having an off day; some way to remove himself from the emotionally draining responsibilities of so many pastoral duties.

I would place more emphasis on the authoritarian nature of Mormon leadership positions.  The advice and counsel dispensed by Mormon Bishops and Stake Presidents is held in very high regard by the flock, in many cases the leader is imagined to be the conduit for the advice coming from God himself.  The leader’s advice is rarely questioned in church settings once rendered (although vociferous input may be offered if the leader appears to have not yet reached a decision (i.e. in a Ward Council meeting or similar)).

This can be a lot of pressure for a lay Mormon leader, unless a sort of detachment learned from growing into the role applies.  And I mean not just by learning to deal with people and all of their problems, but also learning to dispense advice that will treated as if it came from heaven itself.


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