Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday afternoon session

By the time you read this, general conference April 2017 is over, and this may well be the first of my posts about it you see, since it’s hanging there at the top of them. Therefore, i’ll start out with my usual quick explanation of the way they’re structured:

Blogs have the utterly bizarre feature of requiring a read from the bottom upward from post to post to get a chronological picture, which means that the post below this one is the previous session, and below that one is the one before that, and so on. To better match this, the first speaker in this session is at the bottom of each session’s post, the next speaker is above that one, and so on. This means that if you read top-down you’ll get everything backward, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the Saturday morning session post and read bottom-up from there through the entire conference, you’ll get the entire weekend in chronological order.

However, under each speaker my comments are ordered top-down. This adds a potential bit of confusion, but trying to make everything perfectly backward just gets too messy.

But before getting to content, can i just take a moment to say how much i enjoy watching the few minutes before conference sessions when the camera is panning across the general authorities and officers, and we get to see them smiling and chatting and even *gasp* laughing? It’s a good thing to keep in mind when, as inevitably happens every few months, someone in a leadership meeting starts saying that everyone needs to be utterly silent as they arrive during the half hour preceding sacrament meeting so that everyone can “get in tune with the Spirit” or somesuch reason. Well, i suppose you’re saying Elders Bednar and Quentin L. Cook aren’t in tune with the Spirit, then? Hmmm…

Anyway, with that thought just hanging out there, let’s scroll down to the bottom of this post (or to the bottom of four posts prior, if you want to start at the beginning of the entire conference weekend!) and start at the bottom with the beginning:

Closing thoughts from me:
  • This seemed like the tale of two conferences: Saturday (including the priesthood session) was all about being kind and welcoming to others no matter their circumstances or status, while Sunday was all about being aware of inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Related topics, certainly, and there was of course crossover (particularly in Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Sunday morning address), but the difference in overall theme between the days was still rather remarkable.
  • What’s with not showing the words on-screen for the congregational songs? I really hope it was just an experiment, and they bring them back next conference.
  • New favorite general authority name: Weatherford T. Clayton. (If he had an upper-class British accent, though, it would’ve pushed it too far.)
  • I absolutely adore the way that Dieter F. Uchtdorf is relentlessly optimistic—I feel we need that as a church, if only because it’s a necessary pushback against the often-pervasive (and, i would argue, patently untrue) idea that this existence is getting inexorably worse and worse. (And Joaquin E. Costa merits mention as being similarly sunny in a quite healthy way.)
  • The multiple direct mentions of the “The Living Christ” document were interesting, particularly given the relative absence of references to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”—and the only direct reference to the latter that i can recall was that it can only be understood properly in the light of the former!
  • The temple announcements had a couple unstated big-deal bits within them: Manila will have two temples, and having that happen outside of North America is pretty huge; and Kenya is a big—perhaps the biggest—cultural and commercial center in East Africa.
  • And finally, i always pick a personal favorite address at the close of each conference. The usual suspects (that is, Jeffrey R. Holland and Dieter F. Unchtdorf—in his case, both his priesthood and Sunday morning session addresses) are, of course, in the running for me, but also this time Dale G. Renlund’s address and, in a rather quieter (so to speak) way, Henry B. Eyring’s from the priesthood session. That makes this an unusual conference, where I didn’t find at least one of the non-twelve/​first presidency addresses highly stirring, but so it goes. I think, ultimately, it’s a difficult call between Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s priesthood session address and Dale G. Renlund’s, but i’ll have to ultimately go with the latter on the tiebreaker of it having a wider audience.

Quentin L. Cook, of the quorum of apostles
  • He included, near the beginning of the address, a video of a baby taking hesitant steps across a room—cue the collective Awwwww from every single viewer across the world.
  • Physical growth and growth in talents and spiritual growth are similar: We begin with baby steps and progress onward through practice.
  • We tend to to emphasize moments that are spiritually sublime, and they are worth rejoicing over, but for enduring faith there is no substitute for ongoing religious experience.
  • Weekly participation in sacrament meetings has spiritual implications that we do not at present understand.
  • The woman with the issue of blood (the one who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment in an attempt to be healed) was healed because of her own faith—Jesus had not focused on her, and in fact had not even been aware of her until she exercised her own faith.
  • Adversity should not be viewed as either disfavor from the Lord, or a withdrawal of blessings.

Benjamín De Hoyos, of the quorums of seventy
  • The gospel, the Book of Mormon and this general conference are “standard[s] to the nations”.
  • By hearkening to leaders’ counsel we will gain what we need to give light to others.
  • There are many ways that we can increase our ability to give light to others, but three in particular to mention at the moment: Observing the Sabbath day, hastening the work on both sides of the veil, and teaching in the Savior’s way.

C. Scott Grow, of the quorums of seventy
  • And now a general authority directing comments to the youth and young adults (both single and married)—we’re going up the age ladder a step!☺
  • As you study the scriptures, you can not only know more about the Savior, but you can know the Savior.
  • As we strive to become like God, God will help us become more than we could ever do ourselves.
  • It is not sinful to ask for relief—even Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane asked for relief before affirming that he would submit to the will of God the Father.
  • “Knowing God is the quest of a lifetime.”

Gary E. Stevenson, of the quorum of apostles
  • An apostle stating at the outset he’s directing his message to the primary-aged children of the church? This is different, and quite cool.
  • The big question (from a child teaching a family home evening lesson): How does the Holy Ghost help you?
  • Follow promptings from the Spirit, even when it contravenes general practice and tradition.
  • How does the Holy Ghost help you? The Holy Ghost warns, comforts, and testifies.
  • “Stay close to the Spirit, and the Spirit will stay close to you.”

S. Mark Palmer, of the quorums of seventy
  • For those in leadership positions, it isn’t so much “How can these people learn to feel inspiration to do better?” but rather it should be “How can i learn to feel inspiration to do better so that others can feel the love of God through me, and thus do better?”
  • As we learn to see others as the Lord sees them, our love for them—and thus our desire to help them—will grow.
  • Love should never be withdrawn when anyone—friend, family member, anyone—fails to live up to our expectations.

Joaquin E. Costa, of the quorums of seventy
  • A discussion of his own introduction to the church, and how some of it didn’t make sense right away—but the impressions of truth and rightness were there from the beginning.
  • Repentance is not negative—when we humble ourselves and open our heart to the Spirit, we learn that it is the path to eternal happiness.
  • If you “pay the price of revelation”, pray, and repent, the heavens will be opened and you will know that Jesus is the Christ.

D. Todd Christofferson, of the quorum of apostles
  • Those who have been warned (i.e., have learned about the gospel) have the responsibility to warn our neighbor—and just like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the neighbor we are to warn is everyone around us.
  • The motivation for this warning is love. On occasion—when directed so by the Holy Ghost—warning may take the form of reproof, but even then it must be motivated by love.
  • We are (as urged in one of the psalms) not to hide God’s righteousness in our heart, but rather to declare it to all around us.

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