Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Saturday afternoon is generally my favorite session. There’s the sustaining of church officers and authorities in the April running each year (and i always like to actually listen to that, not just let it gloss past like i suspect many Mormons do), and the speakers generally seem to be more relaxed in this session (along with the Sunday afternoon one).

Anyway, to remind: The entries for the session are arranged bottom-up, with the 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—but each speaker’s entries are given in the order i write them. This means that this is where you scroll to the bottom of this post and start reading upwards.

M. Russell Ballard (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Interesting claim, that we’re only able to love our neighbor (the second great commandment) if we first love God (the first great commandment). Is this actually true? (Also, is that actually what was intended by what he said?)
  • I had to look up “silage” online. (Can you tell i didn’t grow up as a farmer?) Yeah, cleaning up a silage pit isn’t a job i would have found pleasant, either.
  • Nice brief reminder to avoid gossip.
  • Nice brief reminder to do missionary work with our friends.
  • Nice brief reminder to generally be nice.
  • Part of me feels like his main point in this address is all the various brief reminders, and the general topical matrix they’re embedded in is almost incidental.

Dallin H. Oaks (of the quorum of apostles)
  • He’s presenting human behavior as very, very rational.
  • And yep, that’s really the main thing i’m getting from this whole address: People develop a hierarchy of desires and then operate according to them, so we need to develop righteous (hierarchies of) desires.
  • Specific ideas on how to apply the principles being taught! (That’s unfortunately pretty rare in general conference addresses.)

Cecil O. Samuelson (of the quorums of the seventy)
  • I’m liking this address, but am not finding individual items to pull out for highlighting.
  • Here’s kind of a weird parallel that occurred to me: He said that with a testimony, if you give some away, so to speak (i.e., you share it), you end up with more. In the previous session, Henry B. Eyring said that your will increase in temporal terms if you give away of your substance to help others.
  • It’s always nice to hear the occasional general conference address that’s brimming with optimism for the future, rather than talking the position that everything around us is dangerous and trying to destroy us.

Richard J. Maynes (of the quorums of the seventy)
    When i was a full-time missionary, i found that the idea of an eternal family unit wasn’t actually all that appealing to a lot of the people i met. Why is it so frequently presented as out missionary ace in the hole?
  • Lots and lots of stuff about families and their importance—but not much that stands out as different from most general conference addresses on families.
  • So i get that countering the false traditions of “the world” with teaching in the home is important. How do we know, though, which traditions of the world are false, and which are correct? I mean, it’s not like everything that’s widely popular in the world is evil, or even not entirely good.
  • So families are strong because everyone has different strengths? I’m cool with that—and i think i’ve got my superpowertalent of sarcasm going pretty good, so everyone else in my family can feel free to provide the other talents we need.

Russell M. Nelson (of the quorum of apostles)
  • That was a blunter mention of death than you usually get in public addresses (not just general conference addresses).
  • I so have the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song “Teach Your Children” looping in my head now.
  • There’s an interesting question this whole discussion of obedience leads to: If we gain blessings from obedience to individual commandments, what blessings are those who choose to obey only certain commandments entitled to?
  • He didn’t mention this in his discussion of tithing, but excommunicants are not allowed to pay tithing. That’s an interesting counterpoint to the claims of some who argue that the church preaches tithing only as a way for the church to amass wealth.
  • Linguistics nerd note: He pronounced the word “Melchizedek” as [mɛlkɛzədæk]. I’ve been observing (maybe better: noticing) that [æ] in the final syllable more and more often.

Boyd K. Packer (president of the quorum of apostles)
  • I think it’s actually cool that we have an actual president of the quorum of the twelve apostles who’s functioning in that role—i remember that for years and years the president of the quorum was in the first presidency, so the quorum was headed by an acting president (for many years, actually, Boyd K. Packer).
  • Interesting that “Latter-Day Saints” is given as a preferred short form for items referring to the Mormon church, rather than something closer to “Church of Jesus Christ“—you’d think that if we’re worried about people perceiving us as non-Xian, we’d go more in that direction.
  • And yes, i just referred to the church as the “Mormon church”, thus providing further evidence that i’m evil.
  • Interesting bit of logic: Others don’t have to accept that revelation exists, but anyone who wishes to understand Mormons and Mormonism has to accept that we accept it.
  • This is an amazingly wide-ranging address, going from topic to topic rather suddenly. I mean, the topics progress in a logical pattern, but there’s no single overarching theme that i can figure out.
  • The counsel to forget slights and offenses and move on is good advice, i think, but the specifics of how exactly to do that are needed, too—and knowing how to do that, that’s where people run into difficulty, i think.

Brook P. Hales (secretary to the first presidency), church statistical report
  • We’ve passed 14 million? How’d i miss that?
  • It’s interesting how long we’ve been holding at just a bit over 50,000 full-time missionaries.

Robert W. Cantwell (of the auditing department), church audit report
  • Why do we even take the time in general conference to present these any more? Back when the church gave accounting for funds (sometimes down to the penny!) it made sense, but nowadays? What’s the point?

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency), presentation of church authorities and officers
  • Interesting that effective dates that weren’t today (1&mnsp;May 2011) were given for the releases. I wonder whether the calls were immediate, or effective as of a date?
  • One of the new members of the first(?) quorum of the seventy has the first name LeGrand. Gee, i wonder whether he was named after a very specific former general authority…?

The guy who gave the prayer said that we’re participating in general conference because we have complete faith (trust?—memory is a faulty thing). That’s assuming a lot of his listeners…

With Quentin L. Cook’s address this morning in medium-term memory, i ask: Has a woman ever given a prayer in general conference?

The choir sang “How Firm a Foundation”. I’m not a fan of choral music like you get in general conferences (as i’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog), but this is a song that really does work well in arrangements for large choirs. Best of all, though, they sang the last verse—and we really ought to sing that verse more often in our congregational singing, in my very vocal opinion.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency), opening remarks
  • No welcome to the folks on the internets—i think that that may mean that we’ve finally arrived, and it’s not weird enough to rise to the level of remarkable any more.

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