The Sunday morning session of general conference is, i strongly suspect, the most widely watched session (i have no idea where i’d look for good evidence of that, though). It seems like there’s been a concerted effort to make sure that any big announcements get made in other sessions (cf. Monson, Thomas S., Saturday Morning Session, October 2012), but i feel like this session still has the cachet of being the “big” one.
But whether this really is the big leagues or not, it’s here. To get my comments, scroll down to the bottom of the post and move upward to get things in order. (or you can just be a rebel and start here. Doesn’t matter to me either way, really.)
[didn’t catch the name], closing prayer
- I think he may have touched on every address this session—way to prove you were listening, dude!
- Sorry, can’t help it, but i keep hearing “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain When She Comes” every time the organ refrain kicks in.
Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
- We are blessed with much, but it is hard to look around us and not be discouraged—so we need to step back and look at the blessings in our lives.
- Hurrah! For encouraging optimism and happiness with regard to “the world”.
- The more we pay attention to promptings from the Lord, the more the Lord will entrust us with divine errands.
- I feel like President Monson had moved away lately from the story-based style he historically used. Not this time, though!
- “He attributed the solution to luck. But all of the youth knew better.” That’s actually a good reminder of the way people can observe the same phenomenon and come to very different conclusions of its provenance.
Jeffrey R. Holland (of the quorum of apostles)
- “I think we sometimes forget just how inexperienced [the eleven apostles right after Jesus’s death] were.”
- Fun job pulling the story of the eleven after Jesus’s death into modern language.
- You know, i feel kind of sheepish in having to admit that i never caught the parallel between the initial meeting of the fishers-to-be-apostles and Jesus, and their meeting in the same way after Jesus’s resurrection. I’m always happy when i learn simultaneously obvious and new stuff about the scriptures.
- I love exegesis. I don’t know, if this is what we usually got every week from our speakers maybe i wouldn’t find it as cool. But coming from the Mormon tradition, this approach rocks.
- And now he makes the turn and applies it to our lives today. Really amazing work.
- A baptism isn’t supposed to just change the life of the convert, but also the person performing the ordinance.
- Wow. This one, President Eyring’s from last night, Sister Burton’s from earlier this session…Anytime you get three addresses that are that impressive, it's been an amazing conference, you know? I’m not even going to try to pick a favorite. (And we’re not done yet.)
Walter F González (of the presidency of the seventy)
- The gift of the Holy Ghost as a gateway to knowledge.
- We can learn knowledge that cannot be gained through modern technology or secular study. Interesting claim about the separation of spiritual and secular knowledge buried in there, really.
- When are we going to let conference speakers speak in their native languages? It’d create some difficulties for those in the Conference Center itself, but i’d love for people like Elder González to be able to express themselves in a more natural way.
Linda K. Burton (relief society general president)
- I’m a sociolinguist. As a result, her Wasatch Front vowel system is going to be astonishingly distracting for me throughout this entire address.
- Stopping bullying by being nice to the bully? Wouldn’t work every time, of course, but a good reminder that it should be in our toolkits.
- Grrrr…Yeah, i know how it was intended, and i know I’m taking this wrong, but as a father of daughters, I’m tired of being told that the personal progress program is intended to help my children become good mothers. It’s teaching them to become good human beings, thankyouverymuch.
- Interesting—she often adds “and women” to scriptures that speak about things like “all men”. I like it.
- Sweet! A pay it forward story! (And, as my wife points out, someone is now sitting somewhere saying, “That was me!”)
- Wow. Really, really great address.
- And we get a vocal solo!
Boyd K. Packer (president of the quorum of apostles)
- He’s really not looking well. I’ve listened to addresses of his from past decades, and he was an incredibly vibrant speaker. A good reminder, i suppose, that one person really can life multiple lifetimes.
- “If you have made no mistakes, you do not need the atonement.” This is, of course, as he points out, moot, since we all have made mistakes, and so are all in need of the atonement.
- “We do not know how, exactly, the Lord accomplished the atonement.” Bet it won’t stop folks in gospel doctrine classes from insisting they do, though!
Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency)
- He’s into the family stories this weekend, isn’t he
- You know, speaking as an academic, going from tenured prof at an R1 like Stanford to president of a junior college like Ricks College isn't a usual career path, but i don't know that it would be seen as a (worldly) downgrade in the way he presents it.
- We can create barriers between ourselves and God. I wonder, is that phenomenon always quite so one-way?
- I like the idea that it can sometimes take a change of focus on our part (like in the story of his daughter-in-law, where she had to move from a hyperfocus on motherhood to one on service generally).
- “The Lord’s delays can seem long. Some can last a lifetime…[but] we can be sure that he always keeps his promises.” Deep and heavy words there.
- I love this Jesus’s statement on the separation of the wicked and the righteous at the final judgment, ’cause the righteous have no idea that they've done good, it was just part of them. “A change in your very nature”, in President Eyring’s words, anyone?
- Moral of the story: Service is the grand key to communion with God.
Marlin K. Jensen (formerly of the quorums of seventy), opening prayer
- Yes, he’s giving a prayer in conference. Can we stop the whisper campaign now?
- The trend is for general conference prayers to be shorter lately, which made this one seem longer than it was.