Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Sunday morning session—time for the big leagues!

Before going further, i’d like to express gratitude for Sunday morning sessions of general conference. Not, not for any of the usual reasons, but rather because it preempts all the extra meetings that might occur before regular church meetings (bishopric meetings, priesthood executive committee meetings, missionary coordination meetings, ward councils, high council meetings, and so on—not that any one unit has all of them before church starts, but there’s always a few of them.) No one person has to go to all of them, of course, but for those of us who have to go to some of them, even with the timing of general conference here in Alaska (first session of the day at 8:00 am, being able to roll out of bed at the “late” hour of 7:00 am, shower, and still make our first meeting is enough reason to love this day.

Also, yesterday after i got back from priesthood session i discovered that Faith-Promoting Rumor has an open thread for comments on conference sessions, and i’ll be (minimally participating and) hanging out there, as well. (Multitasking!)

Anwyay: 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 with each speaker’s entries given in the order i write them. This means that the start of the session is down by the bottom of this post.

Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
  • When i was growing up, one of my goals was to visit all of the church’s temples. Since the church starting its temple building boom in the 80s, well, i don’t have that goal any more.
  • A cool contrast between the journey to and from the temple—both were difficult and bumpy and all, but the return was coupled with the joy of having received those ordinances.
  • He’s not asking it directly, but underlying this whole address is the question: How much is the temple worth to you?
  • Oh—never mind, now he’s asked it directly.
  • Does this mean going to the temple to do early-morning baptisms is a valid excuse for missing early-morning seminary?

David A. Bednar (of the quorum of apostles)
  • The spirit of revelation is available to everyone in the church, not just the presiding authorities.
  • Revelation can occur either suddenly or gradually. I like that he’s allowing for both possibilities in the same address—we don’t get that very often.
  • We can know the truth as God knows it, and act according to the truth as Jesus does it.
  • Doubts are normal!
  • All this talk about sunrises and such is really resonant if you've experienced subarctic midwinters and midsummers, by the way.
  • We can receive revelation suddenly, gradually, or even so gently that we don’t realize that we’re receiving it (even as we act according to it).

Silvia H. Allred (of the relief society general presidency)
  • From someone on Faith-Promoting Rumor: “Another talk on welfare. Now if only we could get this without a welfare anniversary.”
  • Love as a motivating force for church welfare actions. What a radical concept!
  • How does one live up to the story of the widow and her two mites when one actually has abundance? She didn’t directly raise the question, but this address has sent my mind in those directions.
  • God sending acts of service as a form of reassurance. Interesting.
  • I wish she’d had one of the longer slots they give to certain other positions—it would have been nice to hear that one a little less rushed.

We’re already at the halfway point? That went fast!

H. David Burton (presiding bishop)
  • I’ve long believed that temporal salvation must precede spiritual salvation. Nice to see that idea given a shout-out in general conference. (Makes sense it’d be the presiding bishop to do so.)
  • Why do we insist on trying to say that we’re not helping people, we’re helping people help themselves? There’s political code words in there, and that bothers me a little.
  • We are under condemnation if we don’t help the poor.
  • Flying to the relief of the stranger! It’s not just our fellow Mormons we need to care about (though he didn’t say that directly).
  • I have to admit it—the story of the Willie & Martin handcart companies has been told so often and in so many ways that the hugeness of it has been bleached for me. I find this unfortunate.
  • “Be kind to the poor” as final deathbed counsel. That kindness (not just helping them, or even helping them help themselves) isn’t something we focus on very much these days, i’m afraid.

Paul V. Johnson (of the seventy)
  • What does it actually mean for something to be “consecrated for our gain”?
  • I don’t know why, but analogies relating to hiking through the mountains never really work for me.
  • Joseph Smith (and Moses, though he didn’t mention him) was nearly overcome by evil, but called on God and was saved. Was the important thing the calling on God, or the exertion to do so?
  • Growing up, i felt like a lot of people in my ward were in competition to have the biggest trials. Maybe they were thinking that brought them closer to Jesus’s ultimate trials?
  • You know, this is all making me think that the stories (are they just urban legends?—one can hope) of early Xians trying to get martyred is a rational, though in my opinion wrong, reaction to the idea that trials are Good Things.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency)
  • I was busy multitasking enough that i missed Henry B. Eyring’s announcement of the first speaker. Fortunately, the first speaker’s voice is recognizable enough that i didn’t even have to look to see the identification banner.
  • This is a very classically-structured address. This is making me happy.
  • If you’re playing a general conference drinking game, we just had the use of “beloved prophet”, pronounced as one word—that’s two shots of Diet Dr. Pepper.
  • Interesting pivot, switching from the need for people to move forward in their individual spiritual lives to the need for people to move forward in their service to others.
  • He referred to his wife by first name. This makes me happy.
  • Self-deprecating aviation meta-joke FTW!
  • I like St. Francis of Assisi, and he just gave one of my favorite St. Francis lines. I like having a member of the first presidency who uses pre-Restoration religious references at the rate he does.

As the song started, i got to thinking that only the Mormon Tabernacle Choir could make “Hark, All Ye Nations” sound like a dirge. It got better as it went along, but really only because the organ carried it at times.

Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency), opening remarks
  • Another mention of the anniversary of the church welfare program. It’s almost like the first presidency is trying to make sure nobody forgets it today, even if it got ignored by everybody else yesterday.

1 comment:

Janessa said...

Hahaha... I love your thoughts. I thought the same thing while I was watching.
That's weird that he didn't speak... I guess it is pretty serious.