Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Priesthood session

First of all, i still don’t understand why the general priesthood session of conference is treated differently than the other sessions. Why isn’t this session available via the internet or regular satellite television? Not everybody in the church has access to a church building with a satellite dish, after all, which means that if priesthood session is so vitally important, the decision to restrict its distribution (and, at least in past conferences, to not release it in digital formats until some weeks after conference is over) is puzzling.

Anyway, that said, here’s some observations on priesthood session. As with the other entries i’m doing, the first speaker is at the bottom of this post, the final speaker at the top.

Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)

(He was the final speaker.)

  • Not too long ago, i asked on this blog whether a sitting prophet had ever counseled the youth of the church not to date until age 16. Well, even if it had never happened before, it happened today.
  • In connection with that, i think it’s interesting that he noted that not all teenagers want or need to date. (Or, in other words, if your kid doesn’t want to go to prom, don’t stress out about it.)
  • Anyway, this address was basically a list of practices, a “here’s how to behave” sort of thing. It’s really hard to get anything substantive down from something like that.
  • Money quote of the night: “…and he said, ‘Brother Monson, do you remember me?’ I get that everywhere i go!”
  • And by the way, does the counsel to “avoid extremes” in grooming and dress include avoiding the extreme of looking like you just stepped out of a Brooks Brothers catalog? ’Cause if so, i can totally get behind that idea.

Henry B. Eyring (first counselor in the first presidency)

  • He quoted Brigham Young to the effect that priesthood holders who are diligent will not only receive the blessings of God, but will also receive a knowledge of how to receive them. That’s a really interesting concept, if you start thinking about it at all.
  • He called the sacrament “the sacrament of the Lord’s supper”. I’ve always liked the poetry (and historical accuracy) of that phrasing.
  • And in his address we got another use of the full name of the Melchizedek priesthood. Interesting.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (second counselor in the first presidency)

  • This was my favorite address on the night, but it’s hard to summarize, except to say that it was about patience. It was amazingly full of material—little to no fluff.
  • A couple of quotes i jotted down: “As the Lord is patient with us, let us be patient with those we serve.” “Never give up on anyone—and that includes giving up on ourselves.”
  • He explicitly used a non-King James Version rendition of a verse!Let happiness abound!
  • I like having someone speaking in general conference who smiles a lot.
  • Also, he talks with his hands a lot.

Congregational singing!

  • Why do we stand for these songs?
  • No, really—why?

David L. Beck (general president of the young men’s organization)

  • I often get vaguely annoyed—and i did even when i was in my teens—that the majority of addresses in the priesthood session of conference are addressed to the teenaged boys in the audience. (I mean, don’t the older types count, too?) The general president of the young men’s organization, though, i think i’d be weirded out if he didn’t address himself to that group.
  • So apparently i understood correctly earlier, and the church is tweaking the young men’s program.

Ronald A. Rasband (of the presidency of seventy)

  • He opened by saying that God needs every able young man to prepare to become a full-time missionary. Is this a shift from the “raising the bar” idea in which it was stated that not every young man should serve as a full-time missionary, or is the stress here on “able” young men, thereby restricting the population being referred to?
  • Interesting that in pretty much every reference to full-time missionaries after that opening, he was careful to include both male and female missionaries, plus one reference to older couples. (I have daughters and no sons, so i notice these things. He talked about his son and daughter receiving mission calls, so i wonder if part of it comes from having raised a daughter who served as a full-time missionary.)
  • I hadn’t known it was individual members of the quorum of apostles who assigned missionary candidates to missions—i’d always assumed it was the missionary committee or somesuch.
  • His story of observing and participating as Henry B. Eyring assigned missionaries was an interesting take on learning to receive revelation.

Dallin H. Oaks (of the quorum of apostles)

(He was the first speaker.)

  • He gave an explicit example of the prayers of non-Mormons leading to a miraculous healing.
  • Interesting that the “blessing” part of blessing the sick isn’t the essential part of the ordinance. I mean, i knew that, i just don’t think i’d ever seen or heard it stated so bluntly.
  • I have to admit that, even after listening closely to this address for anything on the topic, i still don’t understand what the effective difference between a prayer of faith for healing on the one hand and a priesthood blessing for the sick on the other really is.


Dayle Turner... said...

You wrote:

: Congregational singing!
: Why do we stand for these songs?
: No, really—why?

Actually, after an hour of sitting down, I like being able to stand. Though I'm not sure, I think standing is like the 7th inning stretch in a baseball game.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

The Podcasts, videos, etc. of the Priesthood session were up by mid-day Sunday. Odd that you can't watch/listen live anywhere but at church, but it's available very quickly now for those who can't/don't. I suppose gathering the men together is good if for nothing else but the ice cream (you DID have ice cream didn't you... seems like everywhere we've lived they've had ice cream after the Priesthood session.)

If it's to call attention to yourself, and I'd include those who "dress to impress" (you know, the ones we used to call posers), I'd say yes, that includes people who look like they just stepped out of a Brooks Brothers catalog.

You stand to sing so as to awaken the sleeping High Priests, of course!

When we were in Crystal City Ward there was a man who moved in from Salt Lake. His job there had been working - as in paid position - for the quorum of the twelve. I can't remember what exactly he did, but he gave a talk one Sunday shortly after he moved in and he described the assigning of missions. It was fascinating. He had a long story about one particular mis-assigned missionary and how the Quorum member - can't remember how now - called him and got him out of bed at 3 am to return to the church office building to correct that mis-assignment. Apparently the Lord was not willing for the correction to be made later that day. It had to be fixed THEN. Very interesting story. I can tell you the long, full version sometime if you want me to.

Still jealous that Elder Oaks only spoke at the Priesthood session. Daddy was particularly pleased that he referred to non-Mormon prayers and miraculous healing. There are some non-members that are seriously spiritual. And, I figure, if God only listened to Mormon prayers then BYU and the Eagles would win every game.

David B said...

Sometimes i wonder if the actual reason for making priesthood session viewable only in church buildings is to make sure people know there’s one meeting during general conference where their bishop will know whether they’re taking the weekend as a holiday.

And they do ice cream here, too, but i didn’t stay to eat any—i’m not a fan of any non-ultra-premium ice creams, and they’re not (understandably so) going to spend the bucks on the stuff i like.