Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

So we’ve arrived at Sunday morning, the big leagues of general conference—the one that people actually watch, if they’re going to watch a session of conference.

As with all of these that i do, the entries for the session are arranged bottom-up, with the first speaker at the end of the post and 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)
  • So he’ll conclude this session and (if tradition holds) the next session? Interesting.
  • A reference to Elder Hales as “Bob”. Always nice to see humanizing language.
  • You know, ancient warfare techniques involved the regular killing of absolutely everyone in a defeated city, or at least the (often sexual) enslavement of the population. I’m not convinced the world is more immoral (or even amoral) nowadays—the locus of the immorality may have changed, but has the degree of it?
  • Now this, though, i can fully get behind—that we can each do our individual part to create moral character in our own selves.
  • A five dollar bill when he was ten? I just checked, and that’s $75.10 in 2010 dollars—a serious amount of money to lose, especially amidst the Great Depression.
  • ”I’m always humbled and grateful when Heavenly Father communicates with me”—not a surprising line, but a memorable one.
  • “Elder Hawkes, who was known to drive rather rapidly…” I continue to like moments of humanity in general conferences.

M. Russell Ballard (of the quorum of apostles)
  • It sounded at first like he was going to call it evil to use the word “Mormon” to mean anything other than the father of Moroni, but it seems like it’s settled more into a discussion of why the full name of the church is a good thing—much better.
  • So it’s okay to use “Mormons” to refer to members of the church, but not “the Mormon church” to refer to the church as a corporate entity? Is this an attempt to strike a middle ground as they recognize that nobody’s really listening to general conference addresses about the word “Mormon”? (Sidebar: As a professional linguist, i feel the need to point out that top-down directions on language use are almost never successful.)
  • Let’s see if i’ve got this right: Mormon church is a problem because it creates confusion with fundamentalist Mormons, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t because there’s no possible confusion with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (I think my head hurts.)
  • My opinion: Just because the name of a church has “Jesus Christ” in it isn’t going to convince anyone that that church is a Xian religion.

Elaine S. Dalton (young women general president)
  • As a father of daughters, no sons, i have to say that i like mentions of fathers and daughters—it’s a relationship that in my experience gets short shrift in church addresses, both general and local.
  • I have to admit that i never had a “How do i raise a daughter?” reaction. If i’d had any sons, on the other hand, that’s what would have freaked me out.
  • So wait a minute—it’s my job to make sure my daughters are righteous, not their own job? I don’t think i agree, actually—my job is to make sure my daughters can make decisions, not to make decisions for them.
  • Why do general conference speakers get visual aids to buttress points of cuteness, but sacrament meeting speakers don’t?
  • I don’t entirely follow the logic—she said the best way to raise (good) daughters is to love their mother, then went on a whole long thing about guarding daughters’ virtue, and then summarized it by saying the best way to raise daughters is to love their mother. Huh?

Tad R. Callister (of the presidency of the seventy)
  • A repetition of the meme that there is no middle ground between good and evil. I have to admit that i remain unconvinced, but he’s giving some interesting evidence.
  • We really ought to be careful of saying that the using Bible and the Book of Mormon together means you only get one interpretation. His claim conveniently ignores the existence of, say, the Community of Christ, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a.k.a. the Strangite church), or others—not to mention doctrinal disagreements (caffeine, anyone?) among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints themselves.

Robert D. Hales (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Elder Hales is seatbound, like President Packer? Is this new, or had i just missed or forgotten about it?
  • This all brings to mind a thought i’ve had before: Jesus was convicted of treason and sedition, and we revere him as the Son of God; Joseph Smith was in prison awaiting trial on similar charges when he was assassinated. We of all people really need to be careful about rushing to judgment based on human concepts of justice (including, to the point of this address, when we see divine-punishment-looking things happen to people), you know?
  • It always gets me a bit when the more elderly of the general conference speakers get emotional talking about the deaths of family and close friends—you know they’ve experienced it, and it’s rather brave, i think, to talk about it in public, even briefly.
  • Good reminder that one of Job’s trials was a loss of personal reputation—we tend to forget that one when we talk about that story.

Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency)
  • His description of the ward “day of service” project transforming the grounds of a church makes it sound like it wasn’t a Mormon church. (He mentioned the “ministers” of the church.) I’m hoping we had a good number of those, where we helped out or worked with other denominations—the perception people (including a number of Mormons, like me) have that we’re hyper-ourselves-directed can’t be healthy.
  • What kind of university invites a religious leader to speak at its graduation without thinking ahead of time that said religious leader might talk about religion a little bit?
  • Just letting everyone know: If I’m a terminal case, don’t bother to buy new shoes for me. Go ahead and polish the ones i already have, but i wouldn’t be able to take the shoes with me—save the money for a party for the living, i figure.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency), opening remarks
  • He called this the “fourth session” of conference, which is interesting—usually this is called the “fourth general session”, which has led me to wonder what non-general sessions there are during the week previous. I figure that what he used is simply a shorthand for the longer form, but it’d be interesting to know what the actual full general conference schedule is.
  • We get a song, then opening remarks, then another song, then a prayer, then a song. This is kind of a normal opening, but couldn’t we do with fewer songs? I mean, the people who are twisted enough to really like MoTab just got a half hour of that all to themselves with the “Music and the Spoken Word” program. If the purpose of general conference is actually for the membership of the church to learn from the general authorities and general officers of the church, then you’d think they’d cut a couple of the songs and squeeze another of the shorter speeches in, you know?

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Even though it took a while to load conference through the Mormon Channel on the Roku, indicating we were competing with a lot of people for bandwidth, we only got kicked out once and were able to get back in fairly easily. The BYUTV Roku channel was an alternative if the church's channel didn't work well. Both were just launched over the late spring/summer so that it worked so well for the big leagues session of conference was good to see.

I hate the MoTab. Betcha never knew that ;-P

President Eyring
Usually his talks bore me (ducking lightning). He is not one to be very humorous. This was a nice change. We were literally laughing out loud.

Elder Hales
Given the two comments later about how good it was to have him with them clearly he's been ill. I googled and found nothing. He also got choked up about losing a spouse. Again, I googled and found nothing that indicates his wife has died.

Elder Callister
I thought of the same things you did about one interpretation only. My best friend and I have had some interesting discussions lately about how some things taught about the scriptures are VERY different in UT where she lives and here.

Sister Dalton
I figured you'd like her topic. Way too often the father-daughter relationship is ignored and I think it is much more important than a mother-daughter or father or mother-son relationship to be honest.

When I discovered Cameron was a boy I said to a friend with daughters and a son, "I don't know how to deal with a boy!" since I had planned on having only daughters. She said "Pretty much no difference for the first couple years. They just have penises." Irreverent, sure, but true.

I took what she said about daughters and being righteous is that you are supposed to teach them to be so, not that you have to make them be righteous.

I've always wondered that about visual aids. Two of those babies were really cute.

Guarding virtue = good thing. I think she just wanted to get the newish value in there. Loving the mother teaches a lot to a girl. I get both parts. It just might have gone better as two shorter talks.

Elder Ballard
My take on a lot of his talk is that Sister Wives bothers him (and, yes, I watch it because they are a train wreck and I just can't help it). Interestingly, Kody, the polyg dad, has referred to them as "Mormons" at least once on the show. They are United Apostolic Brethren (might have the first two words reversed).

I've always thought it was funny that many give "proof" that we are Christian is our name. Ummm... they already say it's not the same Jesus so the name isn't going to do diddly in their minds.

President Monson
I love, love, love his faith. It's always amazing and that story about the speaker was awesome.

Again, I think it's media overload making us THINK the world is so much worse today.

He was 12 when he earned that $5. Not much difference in end result.

President Monson has seemed so like the weight of the world is on his shoulders the last few years (well, I suppose it is). This talk was so refreshingly happy. I love hearing him tell stories. He's truly an amazing storyteller.