Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

So welcome to the only reason more than half of our unique visitors ever come to this site—my twice-yearly semi-liveblog of general conference!

(Definitions, for those of you new to this: This isn’t a liveblog, ’cause i’m not putting things up as they happen—i’m typing them as they happen, but i’m not uploading them until right afterward.)

For those of you new to these, or those of you who haven’t looked at one for, oh, six months, a note on formatting: Because blogs have changed the way we deal with chronological order, putting the most recent stuff on top rather than at the bottom, each of these posts is arranged the same way, so that the first speaker is at the end of this post, with the most recent speaker at the beginning. However, within each speaker’s entries the various bulleted comments i make are in top-down order.

This is confusing, but it works. We’ll all survive.

Oh—and before we get started, anybody know the betting oddslikelihood that Peggy Fletcher Stack’s right, and a woman will finally say a prayer in general conference? (More interesting may actually be which session, if she’s right.) And with that, onward!

(So this is where you scroll down to the bottom of the post. Or not—suit yourself.)

Closing prayer, Jean Stevens, first counselor in the primary presidency
  • History in (very, very slow) progress, folks!
  • And she’s done, and got us out early so that we have ten minutes extra for lunch/brunch (depending on your time zone)—see y’all in a couple hours!

Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the first presidency
  • I love, absolutely love general conference exegesis. Elder Holland’s my favorite at it, but President Eyring’s work is nicely impressive, too.
  • This may change, but there isn’t really anything to comment on yet in this address—but it’s still a good one, and worth listening to again, i think.

M. Russell Ballard, of the quorum of apostles
  • Sidebar: I must say that i like being part of a religious tradition that doesn’t get freaked out by our world being simply a part of something cosmologically much larger.
  • Nice job dismantling the priesthood (male) vs. procreation (female) dichotomy.
  • Nice allegory (based on a story of a tomato plant): We have great potential, and we can still reach it even when we seem too far away from it to ever reach it.
  • Did he just talk about Mary Fielding Smith using the power of God—or in other words, given the definition he gave earlier, priesthood power—to raise her family as a (single) mother? Why yes, yes he did.

Craig A. Cardon, of the second quorum of seventy
  • The requirement to forgive, and the ability to repent, isn’t just limited to “small” sins.
  • Not really a groundbreaking discourse on forgiveness, but a quite interesting one nonetheless.
  • “The Savior wants to forgive.” (And the emphasis was certainly there in the way he delivered it.)

Elaine S. Dalton, president of the young women organization
  • My sociolinguist self is so going to have to one day finally do a proper study of female speakers’ intonation patterns in general conference addresses.
  • Kind of fun that she got inspired n her discouragement by the same thing as David O. McKay did when he was discouraged. (It was parallel enough that at one point in her story i was wondering if she was actually quoting McKay’s story and i’d simply missed the intro.)
  • Her mother insisted that all of her daughters receive a college education so they could fully contribute to the world. Most excellent.
  • Nice turn! She quoted something about the importance of mothers for their daughters, and then extended it to fathers, as well, and it didn’t seem forced at all.
  • Sometimes being a linguist is distracting: virtue has, as its root, a word meaning man, as in a male person and not the generic meaning, and so once in a while it weirds me out when it’s applied to female behavior. (Yeah, I’m just odd. Carry on as if this never happened.)

Dean M. Davies, second counselor in the presiding bishopric
  • I’ve lived this! (That is, not this specific earthquake, but thinking i must have a flat tire before realizing it’s actually the ground shaking.)
  • It’s a general conference address on structural engineering!
  • He’s being at once very focused (here’s how to strengthen yourself spiritually) and very general (as in he’s covering lots and lots of parts of that). Given its structure, i’m thinking that this is one that’s more intended as written than as oral text.

Boyd K. Packer, president of the quorum of apostles
  • I was afraid this whole poem thing was going to be kind of annoying, but it’s actually turning out to be funny, and in a very good way.
  • Somehow, hearing about a possible “once in a lifetime event” has some extra poignancy coming from someone who’s aged and frail.
  • Sidebar: I really wish that if general conference speakers are going to react to trends toward allowing couples of the same sex to marry, that they’d just talk about it directly rather than talking around it. That is all.

Thomas S. Monson, president of the high priesthood
  • New temples to be built in Cedar City, Utah and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • 65,634 full-time missionaries, with over 20,000 who have received called but not started and over 6,000 more with applications at some earlier point in the process.
  • Requests to contribute to the general missionary fund of the church to support the increased size of the missionary force.

Before things get started
  • So everybody’s walking in, there’s some chatting going on, a bit of a murmur of voices—so why do so many stake and ward leaders around the world insist that we ought to have deep, profound silence whenever we’re in a meetinghouse chapel?
  • Why do Mormons stand when the prophet enters a room? Yeah, yeah, respect and all that—but you can respect someone while you’re sitting down, you know? So why do we do it that way? When did it start?
  • I can’t decide whether i like this shade of purple on the Tabernacle Choir women. I generally like purple, so i’m inclined to like it, but it’s a little unexpected.

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