Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Due to hanging out with family and friends (you know, the stuff Dieter F. Uchtdorf told us earlier today that we need to be doing more of, right?), this entry won’t be posted until i can put my notes into the computer, sometime Sunday (since i just barely got my priesthood session notes together, and it’s really late already). So until then!

Second general session! (Which reminds me—how many non-general sessions are there?

So, like with all of these entries, this post runs chronologically from the bottom and runs up the page by speaker, with notes for each speaker running top-down. It’s confusing, but i can’t figure out a better way to let people read all five general sessions in chronological order once they’re all up. So, then, scroll down to the bottom, and let’s begin…

Dallin H. Oaks (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Doesn’t “i can’t talk about politics” usually actually mean “i’m about to talk about politics”?
  • Abortion is bad, and then a pivot to endemic malnutrition and AIDS. I’m not entirely sure where he’s heading with this.
  • And now psychological abuse and bullying. This is a rather sprawling address.
  • Kids with various issues, explicitly including same-sex attraction, need to be protected from bullying.
  • Ah! And now we get the Proclamation on the Family. I was wondering how long it would be ’til we got a quote from it.
  • Interesting rhetorical strategy: He keeps quoting from people like “a Harvard law professor” and “a New York Times writer” without actually giving names. It bothers me, but i suspect i’m in the minority here.
  • Okay, as a social scientist myself, i have to say that it bothered me when he said that we “should assume” that growing up in a same-sex-couple-headed household is damaging to children, although the research literature on the subject is “controversial” due to its politically charged nature—and then he backed up a claim about the research literature with a reference to “a New York Times writer”?!? Really, i’d suggest reading about social science research in social science research journals, not the New York Times.

Neil L. Andersen (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Tragedy happens, but God can comfort us.
  • Really, really good point: What is a simple test for one person might well be a fiery trial of faith for another.
  • Interesting how he turned a general focus on tests and trials of faith into an address on the need to avoid nonmarital sex. It almost feels like he wrote one full address but also had the core of a second one, so he just dropped the one inside the other.
  • You know, i have to point out that some of the information critical of the church on the internet is true. Implying that it is all false won’t help those who run across the true stuff to understand why they should still stay with the church.
  • Wow—how long has it been since we got a salamander letter reference in general conference?

Scott D. Whiting (of the quorums of seventy)
  • I recognize the importance of quality control, but some of this seems excessive. I mean, a ⅛-inch deviation out of two inches, and that could only be recognized with a measuring tool, on a window that was to be hidden? Requiring a lack of grittiness under wallpaper? Maybe we could have just let it be, and sent the quality control guy to make sure that folks were getting the right nutritional balance in the church’s humanitarian efforts.
  • So the parallel turns out to have been that we need to rectify any issues of sinfulness in our lives, just like the contractors were required to rectify any issues of poor quality in the temple. Not really compelling to me, but i get it.

Robert C. Gay (of the quorums of seventy)
  • “Would you sell your soul for a nickel?”
  • Serious question: If any one little sin, or even a lack of doing good things, is just as bad as big sins, then what’s to keep someone from logically concluding that since they’ve done a little bit wrong, they might as well go full-bore down that road?

Larry Echo Hawk (of the quorums of seventy)
  • Okay, let’s all admit it: This guy’s on all your all-name GA teams, isn’t he?
  • Really, really fun story to open.
  • His grandfather was born “in what is now Nebraska”. Nice little reminder that there was a there beforehand.
  • Cool personal take on the Book of Mormon by an indigenous American, and then extending that to others.

M. Russell Ballard (of the quorum of apostles)
  • And cue the bee pollen and honey folks in 3…2…
  • Individual contributions, though seemingly insignificant, are a necessary part of the results of the whole.
  • The takeaway: Service is good, and must be undertaken for selfless reasons.
  • Specific instruction: Pray each morning that you’ll get a chance to serve someone, and then look for opportunities to serve.

L. Tom Perry (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Dude’s ninety years old? He’s holding up pretty good for reaching that point.
  • The big message: Families are good.
  • I don’t think he’s saying this, but i worry that a good number of Mormons are going to read this as saying that Mormon culture (and, in particular, Utah Mormon culture) is utterly and completely right, and doesn’t have any problems at all.
  • Interesting—he said allowances are a good thing, ’cause they allow children to learn to do things like save and pay tithing.
  • Was the jab at “entitlement culture” a case of political code words, or something more benign? The sad thing is that in this day and age one can’t tell—though, unfortunately, i’m sure folks on either side will interpret them that way.
  • Shout out to guys who are actually involved in their kids’ learning!
Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency), sustaining of church officers
  • Change in the presidency of the seventy, and in the office of church historian and recorder, plus the usual turnover in the quorums of the seventy. Overall, really, nothing headline-making.
Gerritt W. Gong (i think; of the seventy), opening prayer
  • He called this the “Sabbath day”. Does this mean we’re merging with the Seventh-Day Adventists now?

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