Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Priesthood session

Yes, priesthood session, the general session that’s only sort of general.

As with the rest of these, entries for the session are arranged from the bottom up, with the first speaker at the end of the post and the final speaker at the top of the post—so now you should scroll to the bottom of this post and start reading upwards.

Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
  • The major theme for the whole thing: We need to have the courage to stand for our beliefs, even if it means standing alone.
  • With that, he told an interesting story with him having the courage to stand alone for his beliefs—only to find out that he wasn’t actually alone.
  • He also noted that if we stand alone on the side of good, God still stands with us, so we’re not actually alone.

Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency)
  • If we ask whether we’re prepared for a priesthood assignment, the answer is always: Yes.
  • Interesting idea: Part of our preparation process in this life is to re-learn our premortal preparation.
  • Another interesting thing: He reminded everyone (leaders, particularly, i think) that God trusted Joseph Smith when Smith was an inexperienced (and, to all appearances, unprepared) teenage boy.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency)
  • Our personal, family, and church actions should spring from the two great commandments—or, in other words, welfare principles.
  • If you focus on spiritual commandments while ignoring temporal commandments, you’re not doing it right.
  • What he said, essentially, was that “I got mine” isn’t just feckless, it’s a gateway to hell.
  • This may be evil of me, but when he started saying that if someone is in need then helping out is the responsibility of each one of us individually, well, i started thinking about old speeches by Eugene V. Debs.
  • Anybody cheering with me for his statement that exactly how welfare principles are put into action will differ depending on where you are?

W. Christopher Waddell (of the quorums of the seventy)
  • One of his claims: Sacrifice is made in vain if there isn’t an application of it. I don’t think that the example he used to illustrate the point was valid, but i suspect that he’s right anyway.
  • Lots of stuff about how serving as a full-time missionary is important, including that God has specific experiences, contacts, companions, &c. set up for us. I have to ask whether that means that God sets up mission companionships for full-time missionaries where one half of the companionship has decided they’ve done enough, and they’re too tired to go out and preach any more—’cause if so, i’m still trying to figure out why that was an important experience.

Keith B. McMullin (of the presiding bishopric)
  • Interesting description of what it means to be “born again” in the Mormon scheme of things.
  • He told the young men (this is priesthood session, remember) that if they’re born again and do good, the young women will adore them and strive to be better themselves. I think i’m going to have to ask my daughters what they think of that before i accept that claim…

Jeffrey R. Holland (of the quorum of apostles)
  • When an apostle starts out with “I wish to speak rather candidly tonight”, you sit up and take notice. I don’t know that i heard anything that quite merited that preface, though.
  • He pointed out that we often gloss over Joseph Smith’s confrontation with Satan immediately before the first vision, but it’s useful to remember it, and that it tells us that Satan is real.
  • Not groundbreaking, but interesting nonetheless: Satan knows he’ll be defeated, but but is determined to take down as many as possible with him when he loses.
  • His claim: A missionary can’t be unrepentant of sins and then expect to be able to successfully call others to repentance for those same sins. Is that true, though? I’m not sure, given the Holy Spirit’s propensity to back up truth in whatever context.
  • An explicit salute to those who have wished to serve as full-time missionaries and have been worthy to do so, but were unable to do so due to health or other reasons beyond their control.
  • And the church certainly has lowered some of the barriers to older couples serving as full-time missionaries, hasn’t it? They can even fly home (albeit at their own expense) for big family events like weddings and such now—nice to see a recognition that people can have a personal life even if they’ve devoted a time in their life to God, you know?


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Knowing that I of course did not watch the Priesthood session so I'm just responding to what you wrote...

Elder Holland
I'm glad he specifically mentioned positively people who could not serve a mission for reasons beyond there control. Some people, culturally, still look down on those young men and that bothers me a lot. Older missionaries are very much a loosey goosey sort of feel and I think that is really good. Side note: We have a pair of senior sisters who are assigned to our ward and the other ward for 2 full years. No transfers. It's a pilot thing the church is doing.

Bishop McMullin
You cannot be serious. Adore them lol

Elder Waddell
I suspect it would be more for the lazy one to rise up to the other one. It's frustrating for the companion who is working hard, though. Ever seen The Best Two Years? I suppose that would be the best case scenario of one of those companionships.

President Uchtdorf
What's "I got mine?"

President Eyring
I think God trusted that "unprepared" young boy precisely because he was unprepared and young.

President Monson
"We surround them..." lol

Relieved that Elder Oaks did not speak at the Priesthood session. Means we have a chance to hear from him today. I'm still bitter about that one time that he only talked at the Priesthood session.

David B said...

“I got mine” (not the terminology President Uchtdorf used, by the way) is shorthand for the idea that whatever i as an individual have attained, that’s the result of my own hard work and therefore i have no need to share it to help out anyone else.

Really, think the mainstream variety of Ayn Rand that’s made it into the sociopolitical arena in the United States the past few years, and you’ve got it.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Ah, but there you misunderstand the sociopolitical feeling (at least of those I am active with - Tea Party/912ers). It's not no need to share with others. It's no need to be FORCED to share with others. Actually, it is generally agreed that it is good and necessary to share and help others, particularly if you have attained a point where you have a surplus. We're just opposed to being told when and how to do it.

David B said...

I think you’re misunderstanding me—there’s a good bit of mainstream sociopolitical thought in the United States right now that holds that people get what they get because they are superior or inferior to others. Basically, the idea is that if you’re successful, that’s because you’re better than the ones who aren’t.

Didn’t say you’re a part of that, or even that the Tea Party is. (There are some Tea Partiers who are all about that, but i think there are a good number of corporatist Democrats who hold to that, too.) Did say that President Uchtdorf slammed it pretty nicely, albeit indirectly—and a good thing, too, ’cause i think some Mormons were getting caught up in it.

Aside: Firefox’s spellchecker doesn’t flag corporatist, to my surprise.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Ummm... isn't that kinda what led to slavery, or at least kept it going? I mean just read some stuff Jefferson wrote about blacks and why they deserved to be slaves. They were inferior and the whites were superior in his (and many other people's) opinion. That's a scary road to go down. And pretty darn dumb and arrogant, too.

David B said...


This is one reason tendencies toward the “prosperity gospel” frighten me.

The Margin Wight said...

The thing I found problematic about Elder Holland's talk is the way he took a sports metaphor and wrapped it in a war metaphor. Are we to play fair and by the rules against evil or are we to win at all costs?

If the struggle with evil is like sports, then win or lose, it's how you play the game. If it is a war, then there will be casualties and we must ask ourselves what are acceptable losses in the struggle? Of course, I would prefer we not rely so much on either sort of metaphor and try to see it for what it really is.

Thank you, however, for your witty synopsis. Enjoyable to get your take on the talks.