Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

So it’s time for me to return for my biennial flurry of posts (and approving comments/deleting spam held in the moderation queue, if anything’s come in over the previous six months) summarizing and reacting to general conference addresses.

As always, these posts are done in semi-liveblogging style—the speakers are in chronological order, but backwards, as if they were each a separate blog post. Under each speaker, though, the comments i make are in chronological order, top-down (again, as if each speaker, not each comment, is a separate post). This means that to start reading, you’ll now scroll to the end and read upward from there (and by the time all of conference is over, you can read the whole ten hours of it, bottom up).

L. Tom Perry (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Describing his experiences at a Vatican-hosted conference on marriage, including observing an Islamic scholar quoting on our own proclamation on the family.
  • A focus on marriage and family cuts across political and religious differences: “When it comes to love of spouse, hopes and dreams for children, we are all the same.”
  • So if we’re all the same, how does our church distinguish itself? Answer: Only we have the eternal perspective on the family that comes from the restored gospel.
  • It isn’t just the religious who value strong marriages and families.
  • [He actually denounced portrayals of—and he used this term—casual sex. Hurrah! for being willing to use actual terms, and not dance around things with phrasings like “that most intimate relationship between man and woman” or whatever.]
  • A listing of challenges to strong marriages and families, including not just the usual suspects like mass media and such, but also the time pressures of the modern world. [So does this mean we’re going to have fewer activities and meetings and such for active church members? Just wondering, that’s all.]

L. Whitney Clayton (of the presidency of the seventy)
  • (An extended object lesson from the experience of the survivor of a plane crash.)
  • No matter how dark or hopeless the moment, there will always be a spiritual light for us to find and follow.
  • To do this, God requires that we first at least desire to believe.
  • “Belief and faith require our personal choice and action.”
  • [Every time he’s saying knocketh—as in to him that knocketh it shall be opened—i’m hearing mocketh, which totally changes the meaning and is causing repeated mental double-takes on my part.]
  • We have to choose to believe, and embrace belief rather than choosing doubt.
  • If progress seems slow, do not give up and you will find you’ve made the best choice possible.

Dallin H. Oaks (of the quorum of apostles)
  • Just as Jesus didn’t talk much about how to deal with things like political oppression in his day but focused on changing oneself, his modern servants generally do the same.
  • Focusing today on the parable of the sower—one of the few parables to appear in all of the synoptic gospels, and one of the few that Jesus explained.
  • The parable focuses on things that can prevent us from bringing forth a suitable heart.
  • Those with “no root in themselves” aren’t just those who join the church and then leave, but even those who are long-term members but let themselves develop a stony heart.
  • [Massive alliteration! The rhetorical spirit of Neal A. Maxwell lives on.]
  • If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you’re doing stuff with your electronics, you’re not letting yourself be spiritually fed, and destroying the “root” within you.
  • A warning about “the keyhole view” of the gospel—focusing on a perceived shortcoming in a single doctrine or event or individual and ignoring the larger picture.
  • The thorns that can choke our growth include materialism and “the deceitfulness of riches”—and he actually explicitly said that a prosperity-gospel approach is an example of that.
  • “Whoever has an abundance of material things is in danger of being spiritually sedated.”
  • I haven’t heard Hugh Nibley quoted in general conference in a good long while.
  • A somewhat extended reminder to not compromise on central tenets of the gospel.
  • The parable of the sower could actually well be thought of as “the parable of the soils”, since it contrasts the effects of the soils (that is, the hearts) the seeds fell on.

Linda K. Burton (general president of the relief society)
  • [Aaaaaugh! Utah relief society/primary teacher voice!☺]
  • Speaking today about men who fulfill their roles as husbands and fathers properly.
  • Do not listen to Satan’s lie that husbands and fathers are not needed—Satan has given up that possibility, and so wants to make all like him.
  • [Can i just offer an exultant Thank you! for her correct definition of help meet—not helpmeet!—from the Genesis creation story? Why yes, yes i can.]
  • As husbands and wives, we are to complete each other, not compete with each other.
  • So now she’s offering a list of questions to ask yourself about your relationship with your spouse—and going way too fast to get them down, let alone internalize them.

Boyd K. Packer (president of the quorum of apostles)
  • [Boyd K. Packer’s continuing to look good in terms of color in his face, but his voice and delivery! I don’t often think to offer a prayer for general conference speakers—i figure they’ve prayed enough for their own inspiration and don’t really need my voice thrown into the mix, but sometimes…]
  • Sex and the ability to have children (in his words, “the power of procreation” and “the desire to mate”) are not incidental to God’s plan, but are central to it.
  • Married couples are tempted and tried by all sorts of things, but through all that love can still grow stronger.
  • “But romantic love is incomplete—it is a prelude” to the conception and raising of children.
  • Any sexual contact aside from that between a man and a woman (yes, he specified that) who are legally and lawfully married is a sin.
  • A nod to those who are born unable to bear/beget children, those who are never able to marry, or have other such issues—and a reminder that God is perfectly merciful, including that if we have faith in God in this life alone, we are doomed to misery.
  • “The atonement bears[?] no scars”—if we have truly repented, the atonement provides a way to escape even guilt and heartache and turn it to eternal beauty and love.
Henry B. Eyring (of the first presidency)
  • In the parable of the sheep and goats, those who receive eternal life are those who helped the needy and afflicted. How can we merit this?
  • Obeying the Law of the Fast is how we do it, with the church giving the opportunity to fulfill this via fast offerings.
  • Spencer W. Kimball said not obeying the Law of the Fast (including fasting on Fast Sundays and offering fast offerings) is a sin.
  • Offering fast offerings lets us be a part of wider efforts to help those in need (with specific examples, including Tropical Cyclone Pam and a family helped during the Sierra Leone Civil War).
  • Interesting bit from the story of the woman (not sure how to spell her name, so i won’t try) from Sierra Leone who was helped from fast offering donations: She attributed the help to God, because “no normal human beings” (if i recall the wording right) would do such things.
  • A reminder to not force children to fast beyond their endurance, but to focus on teaching the principle. [Question from my wife: So what is the precise principle that’s supposed to be taught?]
  • If we fast, we have the right to have God hear our prayers.
  • Giving fast offerings allows us to help God.

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

President Eyring
I have fasting issues (thanks to my hypoglycemia). I follow the principle, however. I fast according to my endurance, which means I don't skip eating completely, but the focused praying and helping the poor/needy is still part of it. It's just not about food for me because it can't be.

President Packer
It was hard to understand President Packer. We wished they had provided closed captioning. I am pretty sure it was an excellent talk, though. At least what I could decipher was.

Sister Burton
I loved her talk. Ani and I just had a conversation the other day about how our society seems to think men are useless, worthless, and bumbling idiots. I liked her analogy about how our hands are different but together they are stronger and likewise men and women are different but together we are stronger.

Elder Oaks
As he was saying youth shouldn't do x, y, and z I was saying "or adults..." and then he added adults shouldn't either.

President Clayton
I absolutely loved his talk. I liked how he said you cannot accidentally believe in Christ any more than we can accidentally pray or accidentally pay tithing. We have to choose to believe.

Elder Perry
When he said "casual sex" I wondered if that mean we can start saying 6 people singing in Sacrament Meeting is a sextet instead of insisting on calling it a "double trio." The same thought of fewer meetings for active members crossed my mind, too...