Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

So welcome to the Saturday before the first Sunday in April—or, as it’s known to Mormons, Sunday.

Anyway, here we are at general conference again, and as i’ve done for the past few years, i’ll be semi-liveblogging the conference sessions. (That is, i’m taking notes during the sessions and posting them afterwards.) I complain about this every time, but blogs run chronologically backwards, where they start at the bottom of the page and work upwards, but i’ve given up on that fight—so each of these posts will go from the bottom up, with the first speaker at the bottom of the post and the last speaker right after this introduction; i do this so that once everything is posted, you can just scroll to the bottom of the whole thing and read up through general conference in reverse chronological order. (However, each speaker’s entries are ordered top-to-bottom. Yeah, it’s confusing, but i can’t figure out a better way.)

So now is the part where you scroll to the bottom, and start reading up.

Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency)
  • Lots of talk about sacrifice and religious devotion this session.
  • What i’m getting from this: Tedious preparation may be necessary to build faith.
  • Integrity is necessary. I think i know what he means by integrity in general, but i’m curious what the specifics are.
  • Lots and lots and lots of quotation of scripture in this address.
  • Forgiveness leads not just to happiness, but hope. I like that.
  • Hurrah! A straight-up statement that earthly suffering is not necessarily a punishment for wrongdoing.

Dallin H. Oaks (of the quorum of apostles)
  • It occurs to me that he has a full and deep enough voice that he could probably do a really, really good Darth Vader impression.
  • Shout-out and love to Roman Catholic priests and nuns!
  • And recognition that other churches have lay ministries! (I don’t know that he’s actually correct that other religious organizations have less time spent by their members than we do, though—or maybe he simply hasn’t heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
  • This leads to an interesting question: If a sacrifice isn’t actually a sacrifice in the end, is it actually a sacrifice?
  • I’m curious what he thinks the limits of acceptable sacrifice for the gospel might be. (For example, Mormons don’t really actively seek after martyrdom or such, and i don’t think he’s saying we should.)
  • Final thought from me: I’m still rather surprised (and, i’ll readily admit, somewhat disturbed) by him saying very directly that Mormons sacrifice more than any other Xian group. I'm actually curious whether that's going to make it into the printed record of the conference.

Paul E. Koelliker (of the quorums of the seventy)
  • At least on my computer’s screen, this guy's tie looks like it’s rippling. It’s being way distracting.
  • This address is covering a lot of topical ground. I’m curious where it’s going to end up.
  • ”When we actually live the gospel…our ability to help others increases.” I think i got some of the words wrong, but the idea of it is there—it’s an interesting thought.
  • I hereby promise to never, ever, ever described the day Jeanne and i were married as “the day my own family was organized”.
  • This one had a lot of worthwhile stuff in it, but offered very little to comment on, actually. Very clear, very good, but certainly not exciting, you know?

Donald L. Hallstrom (of the quorums of the seventy)
  • He started out by saying that the gospel is separate from the church—but at least in the couple minutes following that, he presented them as being pretty non-separate. I’m not sure yet which side of that particular discussion (argument?) he’s going to end up on.
  • We have full-time missionaries comprised of “the young [slight pause] and the less so”. I admit it, i chuckled.
  • Activity in the church does not equal activity in the gospel—i nearly fist-pumped when he said that. (The big question he didn’t address: Yes, one can be simultaneously active in the church but inactive in the gospel—but can one be simultaneously active in the gospel and inactive in the church?)
  • Is he saying that anyone who leaves the church wasn’t actually fully converted? I don’t know if i buy that. (In fairness, though, it was delivered as a sort of throwaway line.)

Cheryl A. Esplin (of the relief society general presidency)
  • She remembers the birth of each of her children? This is actually interesting, ’cause it appears to mean that the auxiliary general presidencies are now of an age that the women weren’t being fully sedated during childbirth.
  • Why do Mormons have this idea that tears for no reason means that they must come from the Holy Spirit? I mean, they may, but that seems to be the default reading, and i don’t know that that’s warranted.
  • This brings up a pretty deep (and important!) question: What does it actually mean to prepare kids for baptism?
  • Learning leading to understanding leading to learning leading to… Not a new idea, but well delivered here.

Boyd K. Packer (president of the quorum of apostles)
  • Interesting question: Is it acceptable to use sacramental bread to feed the needy?
  • ”Neither man nor woman can bear children alone.” Depends on the meaning of bear these days, actually…
  • So folks that can’t have children when they want to are lucky? Well, i guess so.
  • Interesting discussion of his own family background, including the inactivity of his father—you don’t usually get that much personal detail in general conference addresses.
  • So we should reduce the number of church activities and programs to protect families? Does this mean we’re going to reduce the number of extra-special bonus meetings (e.g., priesthood executive committee, ward council, stake general priesthood meetings) to protect families? (Hey, a boy can hope!)

Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
  • Pep talk time!
  • And yep, that’s pretty much what it was—a pep talk to start us off with.

John B. Dixon (of the quorums of the seventy), opening prayer
  • Hurrah! For short prayers!


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Part 1.

Due to visitors (on Saturday) and technical difficulties (blown out TV lamp and internet issues on Sunday), I'm just now getting around to watching conference. Bonus: I can fast forward through the MoTab. Score!

President Packer:
His glasses oxygen thingy was quite cool. His statement that the infertile couple was fortunate will SO be taken out of context. What I found most touching about him talking about his inactive father is that was preceded immediately by him saying that before he hears "well done" from his Heavenly Father, he wants to hear it from his Earthly father. And he talked about how his father led his family righteously. So often people think that if someone is inactive there is something wrong with them or they aren't good people. In many cases, that simply isn't true. Around here they really are encouraging people to not have so many meetings, but instead to do as much as possible via the internet (e-mail, Skype, etc.).

Sister Esplin:
Mommie was fully conscious for your birth and for mine. She was only knocked out for Michelle's. When Ani was almost 8, the ward people gave us a booklet to go through with her over 3 or 4 weeks before her baptism. There was absolutely nothing in there she didn't already know. When Cameron was baptized, we were in another ward and they didn't have any nifty packets or anything. I think he was just as prepared for baptism as Ani was. In reality, that preparation occurred long before they were 7 11/12 and over a much longer time period than a few weeks. Her Utah clicking between sentences is really distracting to me.

Brother Hallstrom:
Interesting pronunciations of Elohim and Jehovah. I know some people that were upset by how he went over some of the good things about the church. They felt it was bragging. I didn't really get that. I think it is kind of like why on message boards most people have a tendency to only post the bad. There's a kind of weird thing where people (particularly women) seem to not want to look good or happy because it might upset others or because they might jinx it. I've noticed many only post good thing semi-apologetically. I wonder if that's why some thought he was bragging. I do think it is possible to be inactive in the church and active in the gospel. My best friend is one. She's quite active in the gospel, but has not gone to church in ages. Obviously not ideal, but in a way I think maybe she's better off than those who go to church but are not active in the gospel. As for his comment about people being active, but then leaving, I suspect, given what he said before and after, he was referring to those who are active in the church, but not the gospel, but did not make that clear. I do think there are people who are completely converted who leave the church, though. I know I've heard before that they must not have had a testimony or whatever and I don't agree. In some, maybe many cases, sure. I suspect some of that opinion comes from people naturally wanting to prove they are somehow different from those who do something they don't like or hope they never do.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Part 2.

Brother Koelliker:
No tie rippling on our giant TV (watching on the Roku). But when he moves there are some strange tiny starburst sort of things going on. I've gotta admit... when I hear stuff about missionaries I kind of tune out. This guy has an extraordinarily soothing voice so it's kind of a double whammy. Satan is abroad in the land? I didn't know Satan was a woman. Yeah, I'm not really paying attention to this one very well. I shall never, ever, ever say "the day my family was organized" either. Wow.

Elder Oaks:
I love him. I read some study a while ago that found that Mormons spend the most time on church-related activities compared to other religions (JWs were #2). If you equate time to sacrifice, then he does have a leg to stand on with that claim. Ahhh... and there you go. He just quoted the study.

President Eyring:
It annoys me when people say trials are punishment for something. I like what he said, and then especially liked his expression and tone of voice when he said he remembered thinking that if a woman like that need polishing, what was in store for him.

David B said...


Fun thing about what you call Sr. Esplin’s “Utah clicking”: As a linguist, i most immediately associate those clicks with African-American Vernacular English.

Elder Oaks’s description of the survey he referenced didn’t accurately reflect the conclusions of the study, at least in my reading of it. (This last summer and fall, i was pretty well buried in social science research on religion.) Also, i’ll readily admit that it bothers me that he directly equated time and sacrifice—there’s a relationship, sure, but it’s not the same thing.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I've never heard an African American around here click. However, at church if someone is visiting or new we can always accurately guess if they are from Utah because of the clicking. They are always so surprised when we ask if they are from Utah. We don't tell them how they know because the clicking is annoying, really.

I don't like it when people equate time with sacrifice. Sacrifice, to me, implies way more, I don't know, *something* than just your time. It's like when people go on and on about how stay-at-home-moms, and especially those who are homeschooling, are sacrificing to stay home with their kids. I don't relate. It's what I *want* to be doing. I'd be sacrificing if I had to go to work. Maybe that's it. To me maybe to say something is a sacrifice it has to be something I don't really truly want to do.