Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Saturday afternoon—the session when we get the traditional pair of really cool (statistical report) and pointless (church finance boilerplate) addresses.

Once again, the speakers are in reverse chronological order, as if they were each a separate blog post—but with the comments i make for each speaker given in chronological order, top-down (again, as if each speaker, not each comment, is a separate post). So to start, scroll to the end of the post and read upward from there.

Quentin L. Cook (of the quorum of apostles)
  • [Today i learned: If the pictures that went with his address were selected by him, Quentin L. Cook’s referent for the word sunflower is different from mine.]
  • No matter the commotion of the world around us, we can remain rooted in the gospel.
  • If we teach our children well and make sure they’re loved and safe at home, they will remain rooted in the gospel, which will bring them joy and keep them safe throughout their lives.
  • Our church units are based on geography, meaning that individuals of all sorts of backgrounds and races and social classes are mixed together [except for some cases of language differences, which he mentioned, and marital status, which he didn’t], and we should rejoice in that mixture.
  • [He mentioned that we, by canon, hold that everyone should get to hear the gospel and pray to God in their own language—which made me realize that all of the addresses in today’s conference have been delivered in English.]
  • While we treasure cultural diversity, we need to be united in the culture of the gospel.
  • Some have concerns about the gospel—we should not be critical of those with such concerns, and those with such concerns should work through them diligently.
  • A straight-up denial and rebuttal of the claims some have made that an increasing number of people are leaving the church, including a mention that the number of people having their names removed from the rolls of the church is down, and the number of temple recommend holders is up.

Michael T. Ringwood (of the quorums of seventy)
  • Shout out to Shiblon, the (often-forgotten) middle son!
  • Offering praise to those who are truly good and without guile, those who are motivated by doing good for their fellow humans rather than praise and titles.
  • Such people can be found in all lands and in all faith traditions.
  • If you look closely in your ward or branch, you will find people like those, those who know how to find how needs help, and then provide it.
  • Telling the story of finding out that a missionary companion with a reputation as a weak missionary was actually really amazingly great, and telling his mission president that he wanted to tell everyone else how great his companion was—but the mission president said something like “God knows that, and i know that, and now you do, too—who else is necessary?”
  • Real disciples of Christ are motivated by the desire do good continually, even though their service is often noticed by God alone.
  • [Not as spectacular an address, but still, another really good one—way to put pressure on the concluding speaker!]

Dale G. Renlund (of the quorums of seventy)
  • Quoting Nelson Mandela: “I’m no saint—that is, unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”
  • God promises forgiveness if we repent, to the degree that our sins will not even be mentioned to us.
  • “We need to remember that it isn’t the Holy Ghost who tells us we’re so far gone that we need to give up.”
  • Jesus can particularly help those who suffer because of things that aren’t their own fault—remember, he knows perfectly what it means to suffer innocently.
  • We must not only be tolerant of others’ struggles with their sins, we must be kind and patient with them.
  • We need to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying—and allow others to try.
  • We are only Latter-day Saints if we try, persevere, and help others to try.
  • [That one was pretty intensely good, too. Yep, the seventies are showing everybody else up today…]

Wilford W. Andersen (of the quorums of seventy)
  • We can do a good job teaching the “dance steps” (that is, the doctrines and practices of our religion), but not always the “music” (that is, the spiritual fulfillment of the gospel).
  • Didn’t get the wording precisely right, but: If we teach our children to dance without helping them hear the music, we run the risk of them no longer dancing, or just as bad, continuing to dance without the music.
  • Equating receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost with the “spiritual music” he’s talking about. [Can i just say that this metaphor works a lot better for me than the lightning bolt/flashlight one that’s often used to describe the Gift of the Holy Ghost?]
  • Dissonance in the home cannot be scolded away.
  • “If you’re not feeling the music of the gospel in your home, remember these two words: Keep practicing.”
  • [Extended metaphors don’t often work very well, but this one did—easily my favorite address of the conference so far.]

D. Todd Christofferson (of the quorum of apostles)
  • A physical nature is necessary for the completeness that God has, and that we may attain.
  • We are being tested on whether we can bridle our bodies’ passions so that the body becomes the servant of the spirit rather than the master.
  • For God’s plan to work, at least four things are needed: an earth, mortality, redemption, and a setting for our birth (meaning families).
  • Nothing in this life is more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth.
  • Marriage has been encouraged by society for societal good, not simply for the happiness and fulfillment of the individuals involved.
  • [Use of the term “human sexuality”! We really are stopping being afraid of words, it appears.]
  • “Many things are good, many are important, but only a few are essential.”
  • In his list of reasons people may not have been able to be married in this life, he included “fear of failure”, interestingly enough.
  • Everyone has talents to offer, no matter their marital or family opportunities or status.
  • “No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has to offer his children.” [I think i got the wording at least nearly right.]

David A. Bednar (of the quorum of apostles)
  • One of the first effects of the Fall was for Adam and Eve to feel fear.
  • “Correct knowledge of and faith in the Lord empower us to hush our fears”.
  • We live in an era where there is much to fear, but if we look to and build on a foundation of Christ and then press forward in faith, our fears can be overcome.
  • [Lots of content in the middle of this—nothing groundbreaking, but lots of important things, but not really much of the sort of stuff that lends itself to notes in this format.]
  • Contrasting worldly fear, which creates alarm and anxiety, with godly fear, which leads to peace and self-assurance.
  • Godly fear involves worshipfulness and awe, and grows out of a correct understanding of God and God’s judgment.
  • We will be judged with a perfect knowledge of our “rationalizations, pretensions, and self-deceptions”.
  • We cannot be good enough to be saved—we are made whole only through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Brook P. Hales (secretary to the first presidency), church statistical report
  • And cue all the folks on anti-Mormon (as opposed to con-Mormon) blogs spinning this into “evidence” that the church is shrinking in 3…2…
  • Six digits of full-time missionaries?!!
  • Really short statistical report this time around, it felt like.

Kevin R. Jergensen (of the church auditing department), church auditing report
  • This seems a bit expanded from previous years—a sentence with some actual content on how to live one’s life for the members.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency), sustaining of church general authorities and officers
  • Dissenting votes on the first presidency, and elsewise! (Noisy votes, too, which seems a bit obnoxious for the context, but i suppose the individual or individuals may have felt they wouldn’t be seen otherwise.) Response, consistently: “The vote has been noted”, which seems to me the proper way of reacting.
  • This quorum of apostles has been together and unchanged for 6 years—that’s a long time for a group like that, really.
  • Releases to the young men general presidency and general board, and to the counselors (but not president) of the relief society general presidency. (Complete revamp of the young men one; i think the relief society second counselor moved to first counselor.)
  • So i’ve learned something about church policies today—if you vote in the negative at general conference, you’re directed to your stake president. I’ve actually wondered for a long time who someone who voted that way was supposed to speak to.


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Dissenting Votes
"Any Opposed"
I don't think they quite meant what they actually said. Seriously, though, the third time you could almost see President Uchtdorf rolling his eyes inside his head. organized this. It was expected. They mean to be disruptive. There was a dissenting vote in October 1977 and again in the 80s. At that time they were directed to speak with then-Elder Hinckley. I don't know when they changed it to talk to your Stake President. Of course since this was totally staged, that could be why that direction was given. (In 1977 the dissenting vote to sustain President Kimball was because the man was upset that blacks couldn't hold the priesthood... by conference one year later they could.)

Elder Bednar
I always have trouble listening to Elder Bednar. If I read his talks I like them, but there's something about his voice that distracts me. I'm not sure what or why. Even so I made several notes during his talk. He always has good things to say.

Elder Christofferson
His talk reminded me of the study that recently came out and is being shared all over Facebook about the importance of grandparents. Just another part of why families are important.

Elder Andersen
I wasn't so much a fan of this one. He lost me a few times. A lot of my friends loved it.

Elder Renlund
This one was my favorite so far. I was thinking the same thing that the Seventies were hitting it out of the park.

Elder Ringwood
And here we have my second favorite so far.

Elder Cook
I noticed, too, that all the talks were in English. I think because of the internet and social media people leaving the church are noticeable and loud and out there so it just seems like there are more.

Nothing from President Monson. Rumor has it he's been ill. He didn't meet with President Obama earlier in the week for that reason.

David B said...

Yeah, President Monson stumbled on the way to his seat before one of the sessions, and didn’t look well, so i’d guess he’s not in great shape. That’s pure supposition, though.