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!