Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday afternoon session

And now it’s time to chill with Saturday afternoon, the session that all the slackers members of the church with very harried lives tend to skip out on, so the speakers tend to be a little bit more mellow, or at least toned down.

I like that.

Anyway, as with others, 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 individual 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)
  • Lots of thankage.
  • We all have a part to play, and with the help of God we can play our part well. My part, i’m thinking, is court jester—though one day i hope to be promoted to Shakespearean fool.
  • And that’s it, closing us off (after what was easily my favorite session of this running of general conference) with a really, really mellow pep talk—so ’til April, folks!

Quentin L. Cook (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Do i sense a problem of evil sermon? Oh, i do think so!
  • A passing reference to September 11, 2001—you don’t get those very often in general conference.
  • A reference to the sinking of the Titanic. Do i get to bear a grudge against Elder Cook for pushing that horrible, horrible Celine Dion song into my head?
  • And a second September 11 reference!
  • I wonder when general authorities stopped interviewing prospective full-time missionaries.
  • This address is doing a good job of softening some of the rough edges of the preceding one.
  • This seriously is one of the best problem of evil general conference addresses i’ve ever heard. (And i’ve listened to a number of them, going back to 1936.)
  • So Harper’s magazine relatively recently made the claim that Mormonism preaches a prosperity-type gospel. I think Elder Cook is having fun sticking a fork in that one, you know?
  • I think i still like Brother Richardson’s address better, but this one’s a really, really close second.

J. Devn Cornish (of the seventy)
  • Okay, this guy gets my vote for best general authority middle name.
  • I have to admit that “God answers little prayers, and that proves he loves us” arguments bother me, when people don’t always get prayers answered (even for big things, like say “Please don’t let me get stabbed right now”). Is a prayer not being answered evidence of God not loving us? I don’t think so—so why do we preach the opposite?
  • That said, i have to say i like his exegesis of the Lord’s Prayer, both because it as pretty well done and because you don’t hear nearly enough exegesis in Mormon sermons.
  • He included a quote from yesterday in his address. So much for the Mormon urban legend that states that the content of every general conference address has to be approved weeks in advance.

Randall K. Bennett (of the seventy)
  • Things i already knew that this address has reminded me of: Remember, if caught by a rip current, don’t try to swim directly toward shore, but rather on a diagonal relative to the current. (Of course, “swim only sort of against dangerous currents” isn’t probably what he wanted us to remember from this.)
  • And another: Small children don’t react well to clear logic.

Kazuhiko Yamashita (of the seventy)
  • Some family traditions i just don’t understand. Yeah, it was a sweet story, but i wore out my mission coats pretty thoroughly—and i wore out the last one i had during the year or two following my return. I can’t imagine having stored a coat for long enough to have one of my children wear it, in any event.
  • I don’t remember my own baptism. In a way i sort of feel some jealousy for people who can tell stories of their baptismal experiences like this.
  • Proud parenting moment: He says he wants to speak to all of the future missionaries, and my daughters shush each other and start listening. (The six-year-old even says “I am a missionary in training!”)

Matthew O. Richardson (of the Sunday school general presidency)
  • A male non-general authority speaking in conference!
  • You know, watching this guy, i’m suddenly struck by how few of the speakers in general conference wear glasses.
  • “We may need to change our way of teaching to emulate the way the Holy Ghost teaches.” (I may have a couple words wrong, but the content is right.) The Holy Ghost is non-corporeal, and can dwell within us—i’m not sure i get what he’s asking us to do.
  • As he’s going through the address, i think i’m starting to get what he meant (and i think i like it), but it’s going by so fast that i don’t have time to really figure it out. Part of me feels like he figures this is his one general conference speaking chance, so he’s going to pack as much as possible on his topic into the address and let people digest it from the written report.
  • Now that it’s done and i’m catching my breath, i have to say: Quite possibly the best address of conference so far—and there’s not a lot of chances left for people to top it.

Dallin H. Oaks (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Interesting opening swipe at a decent-sized (though, i expect, not majority) chunk of mainstream Xianity.
  • This is an interesting rhetorical method—he’s framing it as directed in part (largely, even) to those who don’t agree with him, but the claims he’s making assume more shared assumptions than you’d expect from such disagreement.
  • ”We return to the Father by doing his will.” Nicely succinct, that.
  • He notes that we should have no more disputes concerning points of doctrine. I can only assume that this means that, from this point on, nobody will argue about caffeine ever again.
  • Absolutely true story: My four-year-old goes up close to the computer screen, stares at Elder Oaks, and asks, “Daddy, is he mad?” I had to answer, “No, he just usually has that expression.”
  • ”We should not use a visa to visit Babylon.” That’s because they only take American Express. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Russell M. Nelson (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Wait a minute—a description of a religious concept in legal terms? You’re stealing Elder Oaks’s fire, dude!
  • Is the usual Mormon definition of a covenant as a contract actually accurate? Are covenants actually usually binding quid pro quo agreements in the same way that Mormons tend to describe them?
  • Serious thought: If someone can’t (by canon, even!) be punished because of the actions of their ancestors, why can blessings from covenants with God be inherited? There’s something deeper going on here, i think.
  • Children of the covenant have a right to the fullness of the gospel. That’s a pretty heavy claim, really.

Opening thoughts
  • I see that the MoTab women are still rockin’ with the pinkaliciousness! (Sorry, but that shade really isn’t doing it for me.)

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

We had issues with the Mormon Channel. Watched this one on BYUTV. Ani apparently watched it on Uncle Ralph's computer on her own accord. And liked it. And now wants to watch the other sessions once they're archived.

Elder Nelson
I would guess because blessings are good. I mean, in a shorter time, we are blessed because our parents joined the church. I think it's more than just passed down blessings, though.

Elder Oaks

Caffeine shall hereafter be deemed okay. I said so and there are no disagreements so there you go.

Oh, man. When he said the visa thing Jamie immediately said "Because they only take American Express and MasterCard."

Brother (or Elder?) Richardson
I bet he was surprised when they asked him to speak. Here he was thinking he was safe because he was just in the SS presidency.

I really liked his talk, but I noted early on that he was quite possibly the fastest talker I have ever heard at General Conference. And then I said it must be because he was determined to give a 20 minute talk in his 10 minute spot.

Elder Yamashita
I have a problem with family traditions in general. I can never remember to do them again.

I remember the Robin's Egg Blue dress our mother made me to wear after my baptism. That is all.

Elder Bennett
I got lost when he said the lifeguard was waiting for him to ask for help. Really?

Elder Cornish
I know someone with a kid named Devin. It always makes me think of deviled eggs for some reason.

It really, really annoys me to hear He loves us because he answers little prayers. Sure, He does sometimes, but not always and to make blanket statements that He does is kind of mean to people who haven't gotten answers.

Elder Cook
I liked that he referred to 9/11 in terms of agency. You hear a lot why did God allow it. Because of agency, of course!

I really liked how he used two Titanic-Mormon stories and one was NOT a happy ending. Because, don't you know, Mormons never die in tragic accidents because we're extra special that way ;-P