Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

Well, i’ve been away from blogging for the past several months—but seeing as how we’ve arrived at another general conference, it’s time to get this party restarted.

That’s right, time for my twice-yearly semi-liveblog of General Conference. As i’ve done before, i’ll be making commentary on the addresses throughout this session, and i’ll be posting (once you’re reading this: i will have posted) the whole thing shortly after the session.

Since social media has trained us to read bottom-up rather than top-down (a development i’m still kind of cranky about, but who am i to withstand the latest fashion?), and so i’ll be posting this in that sort of order—the first speaker appears at the bottom of this post, the second speaker above that, and so on until you get to the end of the session, which appears immediately below this introduction. Each speaker’s entry, though, will have bullet points running from the top (which is a heading with the speaker’s name) downward. Confusing? Yes—but you’ll manage.

Anyway, now’s when you scroll down to the bottom of the post and start working up.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency)
  • Lots of laughter in response to a story in which he details how much of a timesink the church really is.
  • So why would anyone ever want to join this church? Because we can feel the power of God in our lives through priesthood ordinances and covenants, along with other aspects of Mormon religious life.
  • ”We see Baptism as the starting point in our journey of discipleship.”
  • A direct rebuttal to the common Mormon meme that those who leave the church leave due to laziness or wickedness or such!
  • We should honor the right of those who leave the church to worship God as they wish, just as we ask the same right. [Wow. I don't think i've ever heard that in a general conference, and i've listened to archived conferences going back to the 1930s.]
  • A direct recognition that Mormon leaders have made mistakes.
  • Even if members or leaders of the church make mistakes, that doesn’t mean that the church itself is anything other than the church of God.
  • A call to those who have left to come back and lend their talents and efforts to the church, even if they still have doubts.
  • ”Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”
  • We need a diversity of people and backgrounds in the church.
  • [You know, this wasn’t just a call for people who may have doubts or otherwise may be disaffected with the church to come back or not leave, it was also a fairly firm rebuke to those who would hold that those without firm testimonies of the church, or those who aren’t willing to conform to their cultural expectations should just go away.]
David A. Bednar (of the quorum of apostles)
  • [Poor Elder Bednar—he gets called to the quorum of apostles at the same time as Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and now he gets overshadowed by following the coolest accent at a general conference ever—just can’t win.]
  • If we pay tithing, we will receive spiritual and temporal blessings for it.
  • God gives us blessings for following the commandments, but they’re not always the blessings we expect or even that we think we need.
  • If we are spiritually observant, we’ll be able to recognize the ways, thoughts, and blessings of God more completely.
  • A discussion of the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes—not something you hear all that often in general conference.
  • The Council on the Disposition of the Tithes runs on two basic principles: 1. The church lives within its means and doesn’t spend more than it takes in; 2. the church sets aside a portion of its income so that it can deal with unforeseen shocks and difficulties.
  • [Cuteness at home: The internet feed started stuttering, and so the 6-year-old figured that the speaker must be nervous.]
  • And a closing call for those who aren’t full tithe-payers to start paying a full tithe.
Edward Dube (of the seventy)
  • [ Can i just say right here how much i have loved Zimbabwean- (and Botswanan-)accented English for pretty much my entire life?]
  • We have to look ahead to the future in our efforts to build the kingdom of God—we can learn from the past, but should not dwell on it.
  • [Here’s a bit of craziness: He was one year old when Thomas S. Monson was called to the quorum of apostles!]
  • In order to move forward and hasten the work of salvation, we need teamwork (with a reference to Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s “lift where you stand” line).
Carol N. Stevens (of the general presidency of the relief society)
  • The temple endowment is a gift of power, and specifically priesthood power, given to both men and women.
  • Interesting thought: The core reason to want, e.g., the non-member husband of a female member to be baptized so that priesthood power will be in the home isn’t so much that someone who holds the priesthood will live at the home, but rather so that they can be sealed and together receive that priesthood power. [Heavy stuff, both doctrinally and culturally.]
Ulisses Soares (of the presidency of the seventy)
  • ”Christlike attributes are gifts from God.”
  • The main theme, it appears, is that we need to control our tempers—even when we’re right.
  • Controlling your temper is part of what qualifies us for the gift of meekness. [Interesting thought—i think i’d pretty much conflated them in my own mind.]
Robert D. Hales (of the quorum of apostles)
  • A general conference address about how one chooses what to speak about at general conference. I’m feeling very meta right now…
  • ”What is said [at general conference] is not as important as…what i feel.” [So if i come away from conference feeling like we have way too many administrative meetings in the church from week to week, do i get some sort of award?]
  • [He said that things the proclamation on the family came from church leaders in advance of when we needed them most, specifically saying that the proclamation on the family came in advance of spiritual attacks on families. Does this mean that all those general authorities who talked about attacks on the family before 1995 were just joking? Or, from the other direction, that, say, teen pregnancy rates weren’t declining before that proclamation was issued? (Sorry—that just hit a sore spot about Mormon rhetoric with me. I’ll be quiet about it now.)]
  • Archived general conference addresses, and other online and mobile resources from the church, should be used by families to study the gospel and strengthen their relationships.
  • [I remember when a general conference shout-out to was an unusual event. Does that make me old?]
Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
  • We’ve just recently passed 15 million members. [No matter what the activity rate must be, that’s a pretty insane number, you know?]
  • We now have 80,333 full-time missionaries, up from under 60,000 a year ago.
  • He’s hitting missionary work pretty hard for an opening pep-talk-type address (including a call for continued donations to the church’s general missionary fund to help those who come from poverty to be able to serve).
Kent F. Richards (of the Seventy), opening prayer
  • Unusual to hear mission presidents mentioned along with the full-time missionaries in a prayer.
  • Hurrah! For short prayers!


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Elder Hales
It was kind of weird to open conference with a talk about conference talks. It seemed really planned/assigned even though that's not how it works. Did you notice how he said we haven't had the persecution that the early church members had but that would not always be the case? And, yes, you are very, very old.

Elder Soares
Mostly what I got out of his talk is that I am exceedingly used to Hispanic accents now.

Sister Stevens
Nice, gentle response to the Ordain Women people. I have a feeling people aren't going to like her talk, but I thought it was really good.

Elder Dube
Love his accent.

Elder Bednar
Usually I am not really a fan of his talks. I enjoyed this one. I've been saying for a long, long time that most blessings related to paying tithing are not specifically monetary (as in finding or being given money) all the time. I've had people tell me I am wrong. What I found interesting about his call for non-tithe-payers to start paying tithing is that it included *repent* and start paying tithing. I never considered the repent part. But then I've always paid tithing so it's not something I had to worry about.

President Uchtdorf
I've known several people who have left the church over the last few years. Not a single one left because they were lazy or majorly sinning. Most of them wrestled with the decision and their questions for a long, long time. Culturally, there is a tendency of some to shun those who leave the church. That is unfortunate. It is nice to hear a general authority, especially one who seems nearly universally loved, basically say don't do that. The great thing about President Uchtdorf is he can pretty strongly rebuke people and actions and do it with such love and kindness. He really has a special ability.

Rob said...
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