Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

Welcome, reader(s). As has become traditional for this blog, i’m going to be “sorta-liveblogging” (that is, jotting down notes during the session and then posting them in a chunk here, session by session) each session of general conference—it only seems like a sensible thing for a Mormon-oriented blogger to do, you know.

Those of you who have read these in the past probably remember the odd-but-it-works format i use for these, but here’s a reminder: Since blogs arrange things chronologically from bottom to top (contra millennia of tradition in Western writing), so 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. Given that, i’ll be ordering things the same way within each post so that you don’t have to do quite so much scrolling. This means that each session’s post is 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 are given in the order i write them. This is probably confusing, but so are any of the other alternative i’ve come up with (and certainly less confusing than a true live-blogging format, especially if you read one of those during an event).

In any event, this means that this is where you scroll to the bottom of this post, and then start reading upwards.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency)
  • I like that he’s highlighting the simultaneous nothingness and glory of human beings. It’s a common enough meme in some other branches of Xianity, but we don’t seem to focus on it nearly so much in Mormonism.
  • So the qualifications for exaltation are personality attributes, really—so why do we focus so often on checklists of our actions rather than our attributes?
  • He taught elders quorum and Sunday school in a small Texas branch back when he didn’t know English very well? Baptism by fire, i suppose—and a really, really good way for him to learn a second language, too.
  • Speaking of which , who would have thought that the person who would take Neal A. Maxwell’s place as the general conference speaker most prone to memorable bouts of alliteration and rhyming couplets (not to mention similarly intricate thematic structures) would be a non-native speaker of English?
  • I really like the looping topic structure of this address—it appeals to me more than the story-based structure that, in my observation, most Mormons seem to prefer.

Boyd K. Packer (president of the quorum of apostles)
  • He repeats the common (not just among Mormons) claim that “standards of morality” are lower now than they used to be. This is leading me to wonder how broadly that definition goes—given where he goes later, he’s using it to include sexual things, but does he also include things like, say, charity or willingness to share or issues like war or social justice?
  • Interesting—unless i’m seriously misreading his intent, his claims about the way the Holy Spirit inspires us seems to be directly going against what Barabara Thompson said earlier (that is, she said inspiration comes in any of a large number of ways, while he says it comes via feelings). I have to admit that i’m more on her side than his here, given my own experiences.
  • You know, i’ve met some of the apostles, and they’ve tended to have very strong personalities. That the first presidency and quorum of the twelve have to function in unanimity, and then actually make decisions, really boggles my mind.

José L. Alonso (of the quorums of the seventy)
  • To help people who are spiritually lost “it is not necessary to create any new programs”. This sort of thing has been repeated over and over in general conferences for some years now—i think the message may finally be getting through to local leadership, given my observation.

Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
  • This seems an odd speaking slot for the president of the high priesthood, but maybe i’m just recalling wrong.
  • I suppose that the opening laugh line won’t make it into the printed record—rather a pity.
  • Ah! He’s going to be announcing temples this morning—fun.
  • They’re rebuilding the Provo tabernacle, with full restoration!—and doing it as a second Provo temple. I’m betting there’ll be a lot more wedding photos taken at that one than at the existing one…
  • Other new temples: Barranquilla, Colombia; Durban, South Africa (a friend of mine served here mission there—she’s probably smiling right now); Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Star Valley, Wyoming. The Kinshasa one is really interesting—the church is placing a bet on the ultimate stability of the country, it seems.
  • He said the church is “moving forward” on plans for a Paris, France temple, which is an intriguing way of phrasing things.
  • And a blurb for the general temple patron assistance fund—it’s existed for a good while, but it hasn’t really been well-publicized.
L. Whitney Clayton (of the presidency of the seventy)
  • Elder Clayton was here for stake meetings a while back, and this opening story? He was test-driving it then, apparently.
  • What does it actually mean for the church to “fill the earth”?
  • Interesting thought: Our primary job is to spread the message that there is a Savior throughout the world. Here in the United States you wouldn’t think that’s a big deal, but worldwide? Yeah, it bit more interesting.
Barbara Thompson (of the relief society general presidency)
  • Point of trivia: Barbara Thompson is only the second unmarried woman to serve in the relief society general presidency (after Sheri L. Dew).
  • It makes me happy every time i hear someone in general conference mention that revelation isn’t limited to low-level feelings and the like, but can include hearing a voice or somesuch.
  • Is she reading this from paper? Her eyes don’t look like she’s using the TelePrompTer.
Choir, “We Ever Pray for Thee”
  • I see that we’re back to the game of panning through the choir in ways to make sure to attract focus to the one or two non-pale faces singing. <sigh />
Richard G. Scott (of the quorum of apostles)
  • The scriptures are useful for backing up religious statements “when cited correctly”. Did i get that right, and he said cited, not quoted or interpreted? I’m going to want to see how the written record of this speech reads on that one.
  • I realize that i’m evil and all, but he’s advocating the usefulness of memorizing scriptural passages pretty intensely, and memorizing scriptures doesn’t really do anything for me—it just makes it so i know the words, but i focus on their form to the exclusion of their content.
  • ”Do you use all of the scriptures?…I love the Old Testament.” Folks who like reading the Hebrew scriptures, represent!
  • I’m curious what the ratio of quotes from canon to original text is in this address.
  • His late wife served as a young-adult full-time missionary? That’s what it sounded like, but i couldn’t be certain from the phrasing, and a quick round of googling doesn’t turn up anything unambiguous on it. Either way, i’m curious how many of the general authorities are married to returned full-time missionaries, and how that compares to the Mormon male population as a whole.
Gary J. Colman (of the quorums of the seventy), opening prayer
  • A fairly short prayer, but admit it: A lot of you got faked out and almost said “amen” a couple times before he actually got to the end.
Opening thoughts
  • Canned opening video of the Conference Center and Salt Lake Temple that includes dark clouds! Is that a first? It actually works quite well, in terms of visual aesthetics.

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I always look forward to these.

Elder Scott
The whole memorizing scriptures verses/passages is big in the (non-Mormon) religious homeschooling community. They usually call it "hiding the Word in your heart." I have a few memorized, but they are my favorites and I didn't purposefully set out to memorize them. It just happened naturally. I know the gist of many more scriptures and passages and generally where to find them. I think that is useful because then it is a concept or whatever and not just words.

We have a LOT of female returned missionaries in our ward of all ages. More than I've seen anywhere else I've lived. No idea why or what that means.

Sister Thompson
She has got to be the happiest looking person I have ever seen.

Elder Clayton
I space out on anything related to missionary work. Bad Heather.

President Monson
I thought it was a very odd spot for him to speak, too. I've always preferred the Saturday sessions but they aren't popular in general. Maybe he was trying to mix things up for people who ignore the Saturday, and particularly Saturday morning, sessions.

His comment about dedicating the temple in Wyoming because they have good fishing there was cute. I thought his phrasing on the Paris one was interesting, too. I guess that means they are in negotiations for land (or actively looking, though it would seem if he was going to mention it at all they'd be close to having a site), but haven't secured the land yet.

Elder Alonso
Ummm... nothing. Can't remember anything.

President Packer
I swear he is obsessed with sex. Or maybe he's the only one willing to talk about it. All. The. Time.

Hm. I got from what he said that revelation comes in more ways than just feelings. Did I mishear him?

You know, people are always lamenting that standards are getting lower and lower. I'm not sure I'm buying it. Watch movies from the 80s that were rated PG-13 or even PG. Regular F-bomb dropping is typical. It was just as hard to find girl clothes that were modest in 1989 and it is today (1989 being when I was 11 like my daughter is today). Ever watched Three's Company as an adult? Wow, things went over my head when I was a kid! I think we just have a media-overload thing going on so we see it all the time instead of only occasionally, or we hear about it from others who are up in arms about it.

President Uchtdorf
A woman in our ward told the story about how a few years ago she was sitting next to an elderly sister during conference and when President Uchtdorf came to the podium, the elderly sister said "Oooh, the Silver Fox." My best friend's grandmother has a total crush on him. Apparently he is very attractive to the older Mormon lady set.

Checklists are easier. Things you have to DO rather than taking a hard look at yourself and seeing what may not be the best and taking steps to fix/make better those things. It's harder.

We watched Conference on our Roku for the first time. That was fun since it meant we got to have it on the TV. It also meant I was in control of the remote and so when the MoTab sang I could turn the volume all the way down. That meant I could avoid the frustration of hearing them sing while at the same time still getting to see the guy playing the organ. That utterly amazes me.