Monday, October 11, 2010


So the bloggernacle is abuzz with the report that Boyd K. Packer is revising his general conference address in a couple of not insignificant ways before it’s published.

There’s a lot of discussion on various fora about what this might mean for Mormon dogma with regard to homosexuality, but that’s not what really caught my attention about this. What caught my attention is that this pokes a bit of a hole in the idea a lot of Mormons have that every time a prophet or apostles sneezes, then it’s automatically church doctrine.


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Are you aware that conference talks are routinely changed before they are published? Sometimes they see something that didn't come across as they had planned and so change the wording to make it more clear. Sometimes they add more details that there wasn't time to speak, but there is room to print. Sometimes they miss a word or phrase when reading from the teleprompter or the words were entered into the teleprompter incorrectly. It's actually not a shocking thing to have words changed. Clearly, due to the uproar, he realized that his talk really didn't come across the way he intended. Interestingly, the way he changed it is *exactly* the way I (and many, many others I have heard from) understood it when he spoke it. Some people will get offended no matter what is said or will read things into something because they want it to be a certain way. Considering the majority of people I know heard it the way he apparently intended (given the few wording changes), it would appear to me that that is precisely how he intended it to come across. President Packer has never been the clearest of speakers. I think part of the problem may be that people in certain intelligence brackets, according to studies, have more difficulty than others to communicate with people outside their intelligence bracket. Perhaps he is in one of those problematic brackets, or he simply is not the greatest public speaker out there. I saw his talk as one of hope for so much more than homosexuality, actually.

David B said...

No, i’m quite aware that changes are routine. (Actually if anyone out there is likely to recognize the existence of frequent differences between the spoken and written versions of general conference addresses, it’d be me, what with the research corpus i use.) Only one re-recording of the audio that i’m aware of, though (and, amusingly, that one was clearly due to cultural rather than doctrinal issues).

The changes are, like you said, generally minor—fixing misread stuff or a restructuring of topics or somesuch. This one’s more interesting ’cause it’s a doctrinal (or at least dogmatic) correction—what he originally said doesn’t match current Mormon church dogma on homosexuality, and the revisions change it to match.

And, like i said in my original post, that’s what i think is most interesting about this—given that the doctrinal or dogmatic implications of what he said (which, quite clearly, wasn'’t just a misreading of the teleprompter—there was no stumbling over words) are different that the edited version that’s being published, i’m just glad to have yet another argument against the rather common idea that every doctrinally relevant statement a prophet or apostle makes is automatically church doctrine. (Of course, given that Joseph Smith saying that pretty directly doesn’t seem to sway people from such an opinion, well, maybe it’s a hopeless cause—but it’s always nice to have something current.)