Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Second general session! (Speaking of which, i wonder how many non-general sessions there are? Priesthood session is technically a general session, since Sunday morning is the fourth general session, but the relief society and young women’s sessions aren’t included in the general session count. There used to be welfare sessions, but they’re gone now, unless attendance at them is a lot more restricted than it used to be.)

Anyway, a reminder: The entries for the session are arranged from the 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.

Closing prayer (i didn’t catch who said it)
  • I caught direct references to at least three, maybe four of the addresses this session. Nothing like proving your were listening, eh?

L. Tom Perry (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Four apostles (not counting the first presidency member) speaking in one session—seems a bit of an overload. This plus the temple announcements this morning feel like an attempt to reward the people who are actually watching today.
  • Lots of discussion of the church’s place as a topic for discussion and comment in the public sphere.
  • Okay, i’m an academic linguist, and i’ve published a number of articles on the card-cord merger—that is, the ability of speakers of certain dialects of English to pronounce the or in words like cord as an ar, like in card. L. Tom Perry exhibits that merger a lot—and it’s distracting me, on a professional level.
  • I’ve heard other Mormons characterize this blog as evil and a horrible public face for a member of the church to present, and i’ve also heard other Mormons characterize this blog as a quite positive and humanizing public face for a member of the church to represent. I’m curious how L. Tom Perry would categorize it.
  • Good to hear a general authority explicitly say that it’s good to have a two-way conversation about religion with non-Mormons, contra the occasional Mormon meme that our job is to teach others, not to be taught by others.
  • We need to be civil in our discussions of religion, no matter the tone others adopt when engaging us or discussing our religion. I think we tend to do that anyway, but it’s good to hear such direction from high levels occasionally.
  • Interesting statement: When talking about the church, we shouldn’t try to make it sound “better than it is”. Very nice indirect acknowledgment that even though we believe that we have the truth, we can’t claim to be using that truth perfectly. (And so maybe L. Tom Perry wouldn’t mind this blog, after all.)

D. Todd Christofferson (of the quorum of apostles)
  • What exactly is entailed in a “call to repentance”? He’s presenting it in a way that seems slightly different from what i expected, and i’m not entirely certain what exactly he means by that phrase.
  • His reference to the baptismal covenant didn’t really parallel Mosiah 18:8–10 (which i’m not certain is actually the baptismal covenant myself, no matter what lots of gospel doctrine teachers have taught me). I’m going to have to look for his description of it in the written report.

LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr. (of the quorums of seventy)
  • Cool—i thought for a minute he was going to talk about the importance of avoiding big sins and such. Yeah, that’s important, but he went in a more interesting direction—that it doesn’t matter whether our sins are big or little, since they’re all sins, and we all have them.
  • I really, really, really like his story of being told cascading stories about reactivation.

Carl B. Cook (of the quorums of seventy)
  • He’s doing a very good, focused job with his message (we need to remember to “look up”—that is, look toward Jesus), but there’s really nothing here i can hook into to comment on about it.

Ian S. Ardern (of the quorums of seventy)
  • This is some of the most measured, slow pacing of speech i’ve heard in a general conference address in a long time (aside from, occasionally, Richard G. Scott). There’s sort of an irony about having that in an address about the importance of using time wisely.
  • Contrasting prayer with things like texting very seriously popped my brain over into imagining what it might be like to text a prayer. (I then realized i don’t have any phone numbers of deities on my phone, so it wouldn’t work. At least for now.)
  • Angry Birds mention!

Neal A. Anderson (of the quorum of apostles)
  • He’s working at walking a really, really fine line here: Saying that married couples should make their own decisions on the timing and number of their children, and also saying that married couples should make sure to have children (if they’re physically able, as he mentioned in passing), while criticizing limiting the number of children a couple has. I’m not sure he’s doing it successfully.
  • Sidebar: What’s the birth rate among Mormons, and does it vary by region?
  • Serious question: What if God tells a couple to delay having children?
  • Another question: What does it actually mean to “multiply and replenish the earth”? He’s presenting it as meaning to have lots of children. Jeanne and i have lots of children (well, well above the national average, in any event), and i’m not certain that’s what it means.
  • He’s doing a much better job of highlighting the problems inherent in judging people who don’t have children.

David A. Bednar (of the quorum of apostles)
  • If he’s right that nobody on earth had the sealing authority from Elijah’s ascension until Elijah’s appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration, does that mean the Nephites didn’t have the sealing authority (until, presumably, Jesus’s appearance to them)?
  • Genealogical research is a calling of children of God, and is not limited to those who have reached a particular age. (Nice point.)
  • Interesting job of drawing a line from skill in social uses of technology to potential skill in using technology for genealogical research.
  • Ah! An announcement (re-announcement?—i don’t know if it’s been previously mentioned) of a web site on family history directed toward the youth of the church.
  • On a related personal note, when Jeanne and i were in our late twenties, Jeanne was called as the ward family history consultant. We used to joke that she was the youngest family history consultant in the history of the church—rather certainly not true, but sometimes it felt like it was.

Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency), presentation of general authorities and officers
  • A full set of sustainings in October? I thought this was an April thing, not an every conference thing. Am i just misremembering past practice?
  • So Gary J. Coleman’s address in the previous session was a valedictory.
  • Yoshihiko Kikuchi has been made an emeritus general authority. There’ll be a lot of people in the church who miss having him around, i think.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency), opening remarks
  • A primary choir? Interesting—not something you see that often in meetings like this. (I do have to wonder—what sort of sedatives did they give them to keep them from fidgeting up there?)


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Those were some really well-behaved kids. I'm guessing threat of death. It was a nice change from the MoTab. Most interesting was the number of girls vs. boys. It is precisely opposite what we have in our ward for girls vs. boys of that age. Particularly starting in 2001 we've got nearly no girls.

I thought they did the sustainings every time?

Elder Bednar
Loved his talk. I know Ani is going to be absolutely thrilled when she gets home and can listen to or read it (she's at Uncle Ralph's right now). I already sent Mommie the URL to the sight for Ani to peruse. She's been bugging me for months to get her membership number so she can sign up for Family Search.

I noted that the first 1/3 to 1/2 of his talk was very academic. I don't love his talks because they often are. He seemed a lot looser when he switched gears somewhat to talk to the youth.

Elder Anderson
Loved, loved, loved this talk. Being told to hold off having children comes under the personal decision *with God* of when and how many to have. True story: A couple in a previous ward wanted kids, but they were very specifically told NOT to have kids. It made no sense, but they both kept getting that answer so they didn't. On 9/11/01 he was killed in the Pentagon. Soon after we moved from that ward she left on a mission for the church where she was going to work as a nurse. She was able to do so only because she had no children. It became clear to her then why they were told to hold off.

I was happy to hear him address couples like Michelle and Jim who have a child, want more, but cannot have more. So often secondary infertility is a hidden infertility because people assume one or two kids is a personal choice rather than a heartache. Usually we hear about those who never marry or those who have no kids, but not those who can't have more than one or two (and want more).

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I had to cut into two comments. Too many characters.

Elder Ardern
Wasn't there a rumor that the Vatican Ap was going to let you text prayers and confession? Angry Birds is awesome. Of course I think I've only done like 3 of the set ups because I play it so rarely. Was he the one who mentioned internet farming? That made me laugh, too.

Side note: Jamie and I were debating whether he was from New Zealand or South Africa. His accent was definitely not British or Australian. I missed his name, though, and I just looked it up and he's from New Zealand.

Elder Cook
Typical talk. Nothing special, but good.

Elder Curtis
LeGrand is a seriously crazy name. I looked it up and Elder Curtis's father was named after LeGrand Richards who was bishop of his parents ward.

The cascading activation stories were great. You know, when Daddy was called to be some auxiliary president (Sunday School maybe) way back when we were little he requested a certain inactive brother to be a counselor. That brother accepted and became active until the day he died. I think things like that happen a lot which is why those stories resonate so well with so many people.

Elder Christofferson
Every time he said Call to Repentance I got this vision of Evangelicals rushing down the aisle with their arms up in the air toward the altar to confess their sins. I don't think that's what he meant to do.

Elder Perry
I think they definitely are trying to get people to view the Saturday sessions as important! They really are the best ones IMO.

You are simply evil. That's all there is to it. You are from the east, have no pioneer heritage, was sprinkled Catholic as a baby, and are sarcastic and snarky. No point in thinking any other way than that you are evil ;-P (And if anyone else says that I'm gonna kick their butt because calling someone evil is reserved exclusively for siblings. Just so you know.)

I thought his statement that we should listen to them, too, was excellent. Way too often I think we want to tell, but not listen. I've even heard people (in talks and lessons as teacher or commenter) say that we should NOT listen to others about their beliefs because it might draw us away from the true gospel. I always figured that was a weird way of thinking because if we have a testimony what other people believe isn't going to change that and it's also kind of arrogant to expect others to listen and not reciprocate. I've also found that learning about what others believe have is cool because it shows what they believe that is true and accurate and also leads me to have a stronger testimony. But, hey, I was born in the east, too, and may very well also be a bit evil ;-P

Crystal said...

Yes, Elder Ardern is from New Zealand. Perhaps he slowed up his delivery a little so everyone could understand the accent. I am also from New Zealand and I know that every time I go to the States, I have to repeat myself all the time. Or perhaps giving a talk in front of a few million people made him a little nervous.