This is just too good not to post. Watch the vid, it's only 46 seconds.
"Black robes of a false priesthood." He quotes himself as having said those words during a prayer of all things many years earlier. The audience found the phrase funny. The fact that he spoke those words originally during a prayer suggests he was not trying to be funny. He was being truthful and sober.
Then he goes on to say "we don't question things at the BYU". I've attended BYU, and his words are just as timely now as they were then. People as a whole there tend to not question things. Especially when a leader speaks them. It's part of the false priesthood.
The talk is entitled "Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift". I may be wrong, but I believe it ranks among the most under-appreciated talks in the history of the Church. No one dares to make afraid like he does.
Here's a good link to the talk as he delivered it. Link. The BYU version above misses some good ad lib. One example of a funny yet missing portion is what Hugh says after paraphrasing Brigham Young: "To quote one of the greatest of leaders, the founder of this institution, 'There is too much of a sameness in this community. . . . I am not a stereotyped Latter-day Saint and do not believe in the doctrine . . . away with stereotyped 'Mormons!'" He then added: "Goodbye all!" As the audience cracked up, he told them "That was just added--that wasn't in the speech. No extra charge!" This particular departure takes place at the 12:49 mark of the audio file available on BYU's website. All versions of the speech continue in agreement with his next line: "True leaders are inspiring because they are inspired, caught up in a higher purpose, devoid of personal ambition, idealistic, and incorruptible."
This is the powerful concluding paragraph:
"In a forgotten time, before the Spirit was exchanged for the office and inspired leadership for ambitious management, these robes were designed to represent withdrawal from the things of this world—as the temple robes still do. That we may become more fully aware of the real significance of both is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
He speaks truth to power, like a prophet should. The Church™ has done well to retain speeches like this. Who talks like him now days? By comparison we are sissies who don't dare to say anything shocking that might upset anyone. Anyway, among the things Nibley taught that didn't seem to get through to very many here is one great example:
It is quite inconceivable that the gospel should ever be under condemnation, though the Church has been from time to time. They are not the same thing. The one is a teaching; the other, an organization to foster that teaching. Is the organization free to adjust and control the doctrine? Can it decide on the basis of public relations what would be most appropriate for what audience and for what occasion? What to emphasize and what to play down? Does any organization through its officers have that discretion? ("Mediocre Meditations on the Media", Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints)
"As for the rest we do not question things at the BYU". What a quote. After Hugh says this we hear the audience laugh at the subconscious recognition of the truth. Nibley taught more from the scriptures during a commencement speech than most General Authorities now days do during General Conference talks.
This is a good closing quote by Hugh B Brown:
"I admire men and women who have developed the questioning spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas and stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent - if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression. This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence nor any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it." (Hugh B. Brown, counselor in First Presidency, Speech at BYU, March 29, 1958.)
Is it possible false priesthoods are abounding, meanwhile we are busy repeating empty, vain and misleading teachings? At times it seems that some of the leaders that teach we have agency don't appear to want us to actually use our own moral judgement. There seems to be a culture and attitude present that we should only use that moral judgement within the bounds they set, by following them.
Some hold fast to that. I personally find it does not sit right with me.