Also, a note about the way these are ordered: I’m going to be arranging these the same way i did last time, which may be confusing at first. This is because blogs arrange things chronologically from bottom to top, contra millennia of Western writing practice. Therefore, if you visit this page after conference is over, the final session will show up first, followed by the Sunday morning session, then the priesthood session, and so on.
That said, just to make things less scrolling-intensive, each session’s post will be written bottom-up (i.e., first speaker at the end of the post, preceded by the second speaker, and so on, with the final speaker at the top of the post). However, each speaker’s entries will be given in the order i write them. This may be confusing, but i think it works. Anyway, this means that this is where you scroll to the bottom of this post, and then start reading upwards.
- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s arrangements were, for the most part, crazy slow and mellow in this session. (Not the closing song, though.) Must have annoyed the sort of people who get annoyed by sacrament meeting songs being sung slowly.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency)
- Very, very nice opening play on his own public speaking habits.
- In all seriousness, listening to this address is forcibly reminding me of Mohandas Gandhi’s famous line that “there is more to life than increasing its speed”. Good thing to be reminded of, whether it comes from a Gandhi or an Uchtdorf, i have to say.
- I like listening to general conference addresses by people who have clearly had some decent rhetorical training along the way.
- It takes a confident speaker to take a glitch like your voice catching and weave it into your overall narrative.
- Serious question: If we’re supposed to place that much emphasis on time spent with our families, does that mean, say, bishops will be expected to cut the time spent on church service each week to just five or six hours, max (and even that would be a bit much)? I mean, either that or limit the office to those who are properly retired (or maybe it’d be a good use of the male halves of senior missionary couples).
- Note to self: Play bits of this address for a family home evening lesson or three. (Can you tell that i really, really liked this one?)
D. Todd Christofferson (of the quorum of apostles)
- What’s up with the widespread use of first-name initials among general authorities? It seems more widespread among them than among the general population. I wonder where that practice comes from?
- “…all honest work is the work of God.” Interesting meshing of the divine and the profane right there.
- Can i hear cheers for his endorsement of the humanities and (especially) arts?
- He draws a contrast between those who believe that our mortal bodies are the result of evolutionary chance and those who believe our bodies a a creation of God. Such a construction pretty much ignores, though, the fact that there are a lot of people who believe both at once—and that would be an interesting tension to explore. A general conference address probably isn’t a good forum for that sort of analysis, though.
- So the ends don’t justify the means? But how in the world are all of Utah’s Amway sales droids going to make a living now?
David M. McConkie (of the Sunday school general presidency)
- Wait—he’s saying it’s important for teachers to prepare? Well, at least he’s in the Sunday school general presidency, so that sort of a drastic change clearly isn’t expected in elders quorum teaching.
- If you listen to general conferences of sixty or more years ago, the offices held by the speakers usually correlated directly with the content of their general conference addresses. (For example, the presidency of the seventy—there were no other general authority seventies at that time—generally spoke on missionary work, the presiding patriarch—that office was filled at the time—spoke on blessings and especially patriarchal blessings, members of the presiding bishopric spoke on the needs of those holding the Aaronic priesthood and the physical facilities of the church, and so on.) By thirty years ago, though, that was no longer the case. Now that members of general presidencies are no longer drawn from the general authorities of the church, we seem to be going back to the future.
- He said that it’s “contrary to the economy of heaven” for God to let us know individually what we’ve already been told collectively (in the scriptures). To be completely honest, i don’t think i agree with this idea.
name not caught due to audio glitches (of the quorums of seventy, i’d guess)
- He said that the “We believe…in…prophets…” in the sixth article of faith means that we believe what they say and follow their directions. Is that really what it means? I mean, there’s a lot of ellipsis marks needed to render that verse that way. (The full verse reads: “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”)
- What does it actually mean that the living prophet can never lead the church astray? I think that we tend to have an overly simplistic view of that idea.
- Joseph Smith was a teenager when he was first called as a prophet (though he was in his twenties once his ordination occurred). The original quorum of apostles was made up of fairly young guys. Why don’t we have notably young people in the highest levels of church leadership any more?
- A lot of this was presented as, in his words, “obedience to the prophet”. I have to wonder if obedience to the prophet or obedience to God is a more basic daily guiding principle. (Certainly the latter overall, but i’m wondering about day-to-day life here.)
name not caught due to audio glitches (of the general primary presidency, it sounded like)
- It wasn’t her point, so no criticism of her, but it bothers me when the story of Joseph Smith’s childhood operation and his refusal of brandy as an anesthetic gets held up as a great example of following the Word of Wisdom—there was no Word of Wisdom at that point to follow, to begin with!
- “The world will teach our children if we do not.” Well, actually, it’s more that the world will teach our children no matter what we do—and you know what, i don’t think that’s a bad thing. Of course, i also tend not to think that the world is going to perdition in a handbasket.
- In the story she told about the woman whose children prayed for safety while she was driving though a blizzard, i suspect that the greatest answer that came to the prayer was the road being closed.
- A sports celebration as an instance of the strait and narrow path? I think it’s now officially possible to make anything into a gospel metaphor.
Jeffrey R. Holland (of the quorum of the apostles)
- Some discussion about the sustaining of church authorities and officers that’ll be done in this afternoon’s session. Leads me to sort of idly wonder when the last time was that the body of the church in conference assembled rejected a proposed name. I mean, i realize that it’s not a vote in the electoral sense (but rather a vote for ratification, like at a business board meeting). Still, you’d think there would be more frequent negative votes than there are.
- He mentioned funeral potatoes! I seriously hadn’t heard that term before my exile in Utah. (Potato casserole is what i’d heard it called, on those rare occasions i’d heard it called anything.) Regional lexical variation in the public sphere makes me happy.
- I like the story he told about how his parents paid for his mission so that his money would still be there when he got home. What i really like about it is that they didn’t tell him about it—they allowed him to focus on his work then so that he wouldn’t be distracted by the need to thank them until later. There’s something in there about why we’re generally not supposed to trumpet our good works before the world, i suspect.
Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
- Did anyone else have issues with the audio feed on the internet here? I have no idea what he said, even though i could see the video perfectly. Hint to the techies running the church’s website: General conference video feeds are candy—it’s the audio that’s important.
- Anyway, a few minutes into his address (read: about a minute before he was done) we got the audio-only feed going. (We had to fire up Windows to get that to work, and then later got the video to—sort of—work with the audio under WIndows. Was the audio problem a Mac-only issue, perhaps?) Anyway, we got to hear the end of a pep talk on how older couples should serve as full-time missionaries, which is always a nice subject to hear about, ’cause we don’t have to worry about feeling guilty about that one for a couple decades yet.
- So why is it that the men in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir wear business suits, but the women wear crazy tent dresses that no businesswoman in her right mind would ever wear?
- I’m watching this on the internet, so i don’t know if everyone else saw the same opening credits video montage as i did, but it really just didn’t work for me. Sorry. Better luck to the church’s audiovisual department next time.
- Our stake is really into the idea that people coming into meetings should be
deathly silentreverent, and people shouldn’t speak to each other as they’re waiting for the meeting to start—any greetings or discussion need to occur outside the chapel in the foyer. Odd, then, that the general authorities of the church greet each other as they walk to their seats, and as they sit next to each other they pretty frequently lean over and exchange quiet words with each other. Hmmm…Might it be that reverence actually doesn’t mean silence?