Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Sunday morning—back in the day, the only session those of us from outside the jello belt ever got to watch, and so still to my mind the main session (though nowadays rarely the one where anything of significance ever gets announced).

Anyway, y’all know the drill: The speakers are chronologically bottom-up, comments within each speaker chronologically top-down. Confusing, but it works.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the first presidency
  • A description of Dresden’s destruction during World War II, and the eventual rebuilding of the Frauenkirche using, as much as possible, the original fire-blackened stones, creating beauty out of destruction—and if we as mortals can do that, how much more can God create new hope and glory out of a ruined life?
  • [I’ve long said that Pres. Uchtdorf's experiences as a refugee provide him with a different (and very useful) outlook as a general authority.]
  • Some of the authorities of Jesus’s time criticized the savior for hanging out with those who they perceived as sinners. Perhaps they felt the right way to deal with sinners was to criticize them and make them feel guilty.
  • The parable of the one lost sheep is not just to teach us that we should seek out the lost, but also that the lost sheep “is worthy of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the divine shepherd”.
  • Being rescued requires faith, but if you don’t even have faith, then hope and desire is enough to accept God’s work of rescue in your life.
  • “We call these steps of faith [needed to return to communion with God] ‘obedience’.”
  • We often misunderstand obedience, thinking it is an end in itself rather than a path.
  • As we obey, the corruption of this world falls away, and the glorious existence within ourselves shows itself.

Quentin L. Cook, of the quorum of apostles
  • Temples are central to our life in the church—and if we don’t take advantage of the blessings of temple attendance, we have not taken advantage of everything the church and God have to offer us.
  • Those who attend the temple are quite literally the prophesied saviors on Mount Zion.
  • All sorts of things get organized in our church buildings, but eternal families are only organized in temples.
  • “Do not look at the temple as some far off and unattainable goal.”
  • [You know, i totally get what people mean when they say there are no markers of wealth or social class in the temple, what with everyone dressed in plain white clothing and all, but have they ever noticed the differences in women’s dresses, or men’s shoes? I’d say that there are such markers—subtle ones, but yeah, they’re there.]
  • [Also, how had i never heard anything about the situation surrounding the Suva Fiji temple dedication that he related?]

D. Todd Christofferson, of the quorum of apostles
  • Focusing on the responsibilities and importance of fathers.
  • The ultimate ideal of fatherhood is God the Father, who is focused on the eternal life and immortality of his children.
  • Perhaps the most important work a father has is to turn the hearts of his children to their heavenly father.
  • Part of teaching children is disciplining them—but such correction isn’t so much about punishment, but rather helping guide them along the correct path.
  • “God himself untrusted his only son to a foster father.”
  • Even when you recognize your imperfections as a father, take that as a blessing—that can lead you to change and start to get it right.

W. Christopher Waddell, of the presiding bishopric
  • It can be hard to always think about Jesus—but our ability to feel peace requires us to think about Jesus.
  • We learn of Jesus Christ, particularly, through making covenants in temples.
  • [Hurrah! for speakers who are comfortable enough with the format to deviate however slightly from the script and tie their speeches to points made by those earlier in the session.]
  • A key difference between those in Lehi’s dream who came to taste of the fruit and fell away versus those who came to taste and didn’t fall away is that those who didn’t fall away continued to partake.
  • A reminder that repentance brings forgiveness and thus peace.
  • Attaining peace requires more than just desire, it requires action.

Bonnie L. Oscarson, general president of the young women organization
  • Knowledge of and belief in the gospel provides peace in moments of crisis.
  • Do we sometimes become so accustomed to our blessings that we don’t realize what an amazing thing we have?
  • An overview of the high points of things that differentiate this church from others, in a style that for all the world sounds like a missionary lesson to an interested non-Mormon.
  • What is the greatest threat facing our youth? The effect of the pointing fingers and taunting words from the great and spacious building.
  • Even those who have begun tasting from the fruit of the tree of life aren’t immune to the scoffs of those who mock them.

Thomas S. Monson, president of the high priesthood
  • Four new temples: Quito, Ecuador; Harare, Zimbabwe; BelĂ©m, Brazil; a second temple(!) in Lima, Peru. That's the first city outside of Utah to get two temples, yes?
  • There were 12 operating temples when he was called as an apostle; there are now 150 dedicated temples.
  • Relating the story of the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, who pointed out it doesn’t matter which path you take if you don’t know which way to go—but we know which way we want to go, so it makes a difference which path we take.
  • “Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

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