Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday afternoon session

So we come to the end of general conference weekend—and this time, there’s breaking news: between Robert D. Hales (of the quorum of apostles) died between this session and the preceding one. I’m going to have to look up if there’s ever been a general authority death during general conference.

Anyway, by the time i’ll have posted this, this general conference will be over, and since this is likely to be the first in the sequence you see, i’ll start out with my usual quick explanation of the way they’re structured:

Blogs have the utterly bizarre feature of reversing chronological order: They prioritize recency, requiring a reader to move from the bottom upward from to get a chronological picture. This means that the post below this one is the previous session (i.e., Sunday morning), and below that one is the one before that, and so on. To better match this, in each session’s post, i have arranged things so that the first speaker in each session is at the bottom of that session’s post, the second speaker in each session is above that first 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, and the couple times i’ve tried it i’ve gotten too confused myself, and so i can only imagine what it would be like for the reader.

Anyway, with that as intro, now is the time to 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:
  • Remember back when they let people deliver conference addresses in their own native languages? Yeah, it feels so long ago. I miss it—and for some speakers at this conference, i feel like it would have been helpful.
  • Relatedly, i do wish they would bring back showing the words on screen for the congregational songs. I’m old enough and have been in the church long enough that i know most of the songs they sing during those breaks, anyway, but not everybody is as old as me.
  • Neil L. Andersen gave shout-outs to lots of different conference addresses in his address—one used to hear that done more frequently than one does now.
  • The last session went to precisely two hours, but i feel like more sessions ended earlier this weekend than they usually do.
  • And now, my favorite address of this conference: This conference didn’t have any addresses that left me utterly gobsmacked, but in terms of quiet power, Jeffrey R. Holland’s Saturday morning address was most excellent.

Neil L. Andersen, of the quorum of apostles
  • [Concluding slot traditionally given to the president of the church being filled by a junior member of the quorum of apostles—no pressure, dude!]
  • General conferences are appointed as a necessary means for us to learn what God wants us to know.
  • General conference address topics are not assigned, except as they are given by personal divine inspiration.
  • Similarly, personal divine inspiration will come to each individual who hears and studies the sermons delivered in general conference.
  • [Way to read from handwritten notes!]
  • An excerpt from the address Robert D. Hales had prepared for this conference, but was unable to deliver: “Our faith prepares us to be in the presence of God.”
  • Hearing the words of the prophets, we should now follow their admonition.

José L. Alonso, of the quorums of seventy
  • “Love is a combination of actions as well as deep feelings.”
  • Story about the death of his son in a car-pedestrian accident, and the bond he and his wife formed with the young man who was driving the car—and that the forgiveness they were able to feel was a gift of God.
  • By serving and forgiving others with real love, we will be strengthened.

Ian S. Ardern, of the quorums of seventy
  • We must be spiritually vigilant against those who would gnaw away at our beliefs and draw us away from the gospel.
  • When we are faced with attacks on the church, we must be careful where we look for the answers—and the best advice was given by James: If you lack wisdom, ask God.
  • There are many useful sources for our study penned by prophets and other faithful purveyors of the truth—but even with their value, all of them pale in power against the scriptures.

Adilson de Paula Parrella, of the quorums of seventy
  • God has called prophets to receive revelation so that we can learn divine truth.
  • When the prophet speaks, we should act.
  • Prophets in our time have given us knowledge of the reality of God and Jesus Christ, and we need to live accordingly.

Stanley G. Ellis, recently released as a member of the quorums of seventy
  • The Lord trusts us in many, many ways.
  • The question for us is: Do we trust the Lord?
  • There are hard things in our lives, which should come as no surprise—one of the first covenants we make is to live the law of sacrifice.
  • Even the Godhead are no strangers to hard things.
  • “’Hard’ is part of the gospel plan.”
  • Consider that the struggle of a baby chick to escape its eggshell, and the struggle of a butterfly to escape from its cocoon, will strengthen them in ways they need for their lives.
  • Discouragement and fear are tools of Satan, but the right way is to go forward with faith.

Joni L. Koch, of the quorums of seventy
  • [Way to rep the Seleção Brasileira de Futebol!]
  • We must have unity in the church.
  • “We have no right to portray anyone, especially within our church circle, as a badly finished product.”
  • As we decide to be one with the members and leaders of the church, both when we meet together but especially when we are apart from each other, we become one with Jesus Christ.

Tad R. Callister, general president of the Sunday School organization
  • Starting off with a rundown of some challenges to the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, and problems with those challenges.
  • In support of the Book of Mormon, we have doctrinal insights and explications that are unique, and show the inspiration of God.
  • The Book of Mormon contains a number of historical and linguistic and social features, but the central and most important part of it by far is the way it teaches and testifies of Jesus Christ.
  • As members of the church, we have the privilege of testifying of the Book of Mormon.

M. Russell Ballard
  • We need to remember our pioneer heritage—if we lose that collective memory, we will have lost something important
  • We will need the same faith that the early Latter-day Saints had if we are to keep faithful in the future.
  • As we remember the nineteenth-century pioneer trek across the Great Plains, we should remember that our own trek continues, and our choices will lead us to a positive or negative end.
  • [Interesting: A straight-up, direct statement that members of the church should avoid get-rich-quick schemes. I know that such fraud is widespread, but i don’t know that i’ve heard it called out so directly in general conference, ever—and he then followed it with a direct warning against schemes where people sell miraculous healings for money.]
  • We should welcome and embrace anyone who is making their own trek forward, no matter where they are in it.
  • We should avoid and work against such philosophies as racism, sexism, and nationalism—the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people.

Opening remarks: Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • Russell M. Nelson was present at the hospital when Robert D. Hales died. Fitting, i would say, given the degree to which, by all reports, the members of the quorum of apostles are not just coworkers, but also friends.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Sunday morning, as i’ve said before, used to be the big-deal session, since for a lot of people outside the jello belt, that was the only one they’d see. In this era of wide availability of all sessions of conference, though, that glow has faded and spread to the other sessions, at least in my perception.

Anyway, as before, the speakers are listed in reverse chronological order in this entry, so the first thing you see here is the end of the session.

Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • [Cute little man-hug between Dieter F. Uchtdorf (conducting this session) and Henry B. Eyring as they traded spots at the podium.]
  • Thomas S, Monson has promised that we would be blessed if we focused more on the Book of Mormon; those who have taken up his challenge have indded been blessed.
  • Going to the rescue of others has been at the heart of Thomas S. Monson’s ministry; this effort goes back to Joseph Smith, who was promised courage to be able to perform that work.
  • When we put our faith in Jesus Christ as our rock, doubt and fear are diminished and the desire to do good is increased.
  • It is a miracle to see people focus on helping others rather than focusing on their own needs. [Interesting story associated with this of a non-Mormon couple who were feeling so overwhelmed by their own hurricane recovery needs that they turned to helping others while having faith that God would eventually provide the help they themselves needed.]
  • Speaking about meeting with people doing hurricane recovery work: “The only stress i sensed was that they wanted to stop being thanked so that they could get back to work.”
  • [This all reminds me of one of the things that i really do think is one of the great cultural strengths of Mormonism: Put a bunch of Mormons in a room and say “Go do good things”, they’ll very quickly figure out how to self-organize into a smoothly oiled service machine.]
  • Remember that the changes that lead us to do good must be sustained—it is important not to let it fade.
  • The way to optimism is clear: Look to the Lord in everything. The way to look to the Lord has been given by prophets: Pray, read and ponder the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon), and be consistent and valiant in following the commandments.

W. Craig Zwick, recently released from the quorums of seventy
  • In our dealings with other people, we must “look beyond what we can see”—we must accept that we don’t know the totality of who they are beyond our own stereotypes and expectations.
  • We live in a world that feeds on comparisons, labeling, and criticism—but rather than doing that, we need to look at others as God sees them.
  • We must love others by accepting their best efforts based in experiences that we may not know, and may not even ever know.
  • As we love Jesus Christ, we can be blessed to look spiritually beyond what we can see literally.

W. Christopher Waddell, of the presiding bishopric
  • How do we respond when events not in our control change our lives in ways we have not anticipated?
  • We should remember that we have an eternal destiny that cannot be changed by trials and challenges—it can only be changed by our choices.
  • Unlike our friends and loved ones, not only can the Savior Jesus Christ empathize with us, but we can also be certain that he fully understands what we have gone through.
  • When we turn to the Lord we will be blessed, but these blessings may take different forms as most suited to our needs—we may have our trials fully removed from us, or we may be given strength to endure them.
  • Unfortunately, many react to trials by turning away from the Savior—but if we turn toward the Savior in our trials, we will be healed in the way we need.
David A. Bednar, of the quorum of apostles
  • One of our common challenges is to not allow the responsibilities and cares of our lives to overwhelm our attention to spiritual necessities.
  • We will receive eternal life is we are faithful; eternal life is the greatest of the gifts of God.
  • Spiritual rebirth is an ongoing process in which priesthood ordinances and covenants are a necessary part.
  • The sabbath day and the temple are each set up by God to help us focus on things of the spirit, and are not fully separate but should work together in our lives.
  • One purpose of the sabbath is to elevate our view from the things of this world to the things of God; similarly, the temple.
  • [Lots of detail in this one, and it’s being hard to take down really good notes on it—it really seems to have been written to be read more than heard.]
  • The sabbath day and the temple are both sacred times and sacred spaces set apart for worshipping God, and thus powerfully focus our attention on the things of God.
  • “The home should be the ultimate combination of time and space” in this way—it is necessary for us to leave our homes for sabbath and temple worship, but such worship is fully effective only if we bring their spirit back to our homes.
Donald L. Hallstrom, of the quorums of seventy
  • [Of possible interest: He was in the presidency of the seventy until released this past summer.]
  • Starting off with a story of someone’s miraculous experience recovering from an accident, where a number of things “just happened” to occur in precisely the right way to save a man’s life.
  • The greater miracle, though, is that his wife and children had such faith that they would have accepted any outcome, even if the miracle of healing hadn’t happened.
  • But what about those cases where the hoped-for miracle doesn’t occur? After all, even the righteous and faithful and innocent don’t receive miraculous intervention—so what of miracles, then?
  • If we define a miracle as a divine intervention that operates beyond human comprehension, our understanding expands.
  • Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were cast into the fiery furnace at the order of King Nebuchadnezzar: When the king taunted them about their God, they responded that God could save them, but even if he didn’t, they would not worship other gods.
  • Such things as being a child of God, receiving a body, having a Savior, having the promise of exaltation are miracles.
Jean B. Bingham, general president of the relief society
  • How do we find joy despite the difficulties of mortal life? By focusing on Jesus Christ and living the gospel.
  • [Why do we get occasional visual aids during general conference addresses, but they’re expressly forbidden in sacrament meeting addresses?]
  • As you come closer to Jesus, you will better understand that he knows and loves you as an individual.
  • No matter how horrible our experiences may have been, we can be made whole by Jesus Christ—however, he will not come into our lives without invitation.
  • Sometimes we are afraid to trust because we don’t understand the complete love God and Jesus Christ have for us.
  • Faith in Jesus Christ brings healing and peace, but also other gifts that help us progress eternally.
  • When we experience the peace that Jesus gives, we want to emulate him and bring such peace to others—and doing so leads to joy, and ultimately a fullness of joy.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Priesthood session

I’ve said it before, i’ll say it again: Why? That is, i get the purpose of a general session just for the men of the church (just as i get the purpose of a general session just for the women of the church), but why do we continue to fold it into an already-packed weekend, rather than separating it out like is done with the women’s session?

That’s what we have, though, and so here are my notes and thoughts on this year’s entry. As with all of them, speakers are listed in reverse chronological order, so the first speaker is at the bottom of the post, and then you work upward from there.

Closing thoughts
  • We got out of this one noticeably earlier than usual, apparently because Thomas S. Monson wasn’t there to speak. The usual pattern for priesthood sessions, if i recall correctly, is one apostle, followed by two other non-apostle general authorities, and then each member of the first presidency. This time, though, we had an apostle, followed by two members of the quorums of seventy, followed by two members of the first presidency.

Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • A few fundamentals: Jesus Christ is the head of the church; he speaks by revelation to prophets; this has been the pattern throughout history; and revelation to confirm prophetic counsel is available to all of us.
  • We all have the capacity to receive revelation and act on it fearlessly—and that requires faith.
  • As we serve in the church, we need faith that we have been called by revelation, and that those around us have also been called by revelation.
  • A bishop, to receive the revelation needed to act effectively in that calling, needs the faith of the members of the ward.
  • [That last point was illustrated by a personal story. Anytime a speaker, in response to laughter from the crowd, feels the need to say (while also laughing) “This actually happened!!”, you know it’s a good story.]

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the first presidency
  • When we suffer from physical ailments, we seek the help of medical professionals; when we suffer from emotional ailments we seek the help of experts in that realm. But what do we do when we suffer spiritual ailments?
  • Spiritual pain can feel incurable, but it is never beyond the healing power of the Savior.
  • No matter the spiritual ailment, there is one common feature: The absence of divine light.
  • Jesus promised that his followers would receive of his light, and that that light will grow until it fills all things and dispels all darkness.
  • The light of Christ fills the universe, it fills the earth, and it can fill every human soul.
  • Those with an eye single to the glory of God will be filled with light—and this is the ultimate remedy for our spiritual ailments.
  • What is night? It is nothing more than a shadow. But even in the darkest of nights, the sun continues to shine as bright as ever.

Richard J. Maynes, of the quorums of seventy
  • The Lord trusts us to hold priesthood power, and the more we live up to that trust the more the Lord will trust us.
  • We must live with integrity.
  • When exercising priesthood responsibilities to preside over our families, men must recognize their wife as an equal partner, which means not moving forward unless there is unity between husband and wife in their decisions.
  • Peace in the home is necessary, and to achieve that we need to be a husband our wife can trust.

David F. Evans, of the quorums of seventy
  • We should choose to act, and not be acted upon by the doubts of others.
  • To obtain and keep and strengthen our testimony we must keep our covenants and be patient in all that the Lord asks of us.
  • Receiving a firm testimony may take patience lasting longer than we are necessarily comfortable with.

Dale G. Renlund, of the quorum of apostles
  • A rocket’s payload, no matter how expensive, isn’t really worth anything unless it has been delivered by a rocket and started working as it should; in that vein, the atoning power of Christ is like the payload that is delivered through the priesthood.
  • The priesthood is intended to be more than just a class on Sunday and an occasional service project.
  • A priesthood commission is individually given, and does not exist separate from the priesthood holder.
  • When one enters into the priesthood covenant, God—not the priesthood holder!—swears to affirm the covenant with an oath.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Saturday afternoon, still with no attendance by Thomas S. Monson, or by Robert D. Hales, at least as far as i can see.

Anyway, as with the others entries in this series, the speakers are listed in reverse chronological order, so to get to the chronological beginning of this entry, you’ll need to now scroll down to the typographical end of it.

Closing thought
  • Wow, we got out early this session!

Russell M. Nelson, of the quorum of apostles
  • He began with a story of a tribal king he interacted with saying that the additional knowledge that the Book of Mormon brought to him was worth more than diamonds or rubies. Do we feel as strongly about the Book of Mormon?
  • Three related questions: What would your life be like without the Book of Mormon? What would you not know? What would you not have?
  • The Book of Mormon can help us in unanticipated ways.
  • The Book of Mormon teaches us what it really means to be “born again”.
  • Just saying “the Book of Mormon is true” isn’t enough—we need to know unequivocally that it is the word of God.

O. Vincent Haleck, of the quorums of seventy
  • Following the gospel may require us to, like the widow Jesus observed donating her two mites, cast in our all and give away all that we have.
  • This is not limited to what we physically have—it may be tradition, community, and such that we have to leave behind.
  • If we are truly converted we will be willing to give all that we have—and the promise is that if we do so, we will not be left wanting.

Ronald A. Rasband, of the quorum of apostles
  • [My daughters are having way too much fun with all the weird ways the name Rasband gets autocorrected.]
  • The things that we call fortunate coincidences are actually the results of God’s plan unfolding in our lives.
  • “No trial or calamity can derail God’s plan of happiness.”
  • Jesus said he came to do the will of the Father; so, though, have we.
  • Sometimes we take changes in our lives as missteps, but they should rather be thought of as first steps along a new path.
  • When God puts old friends in the gospel in our paths, it may be that it’s a reminder for us that we are all brothers and sisters in the work of the Lord.
  • Consider Saul: He was going the wrong way in his life, but God knew what he was capable of doing and becoming, and that that had nothing to do with what plans Saul had for doing as Saul.

Quentin L. Cook, of the quorum of apostles
  • “It may be said that from an eternal perspective, our time on earth is as fleeting as a British summer.”
  • Moses’s response to seeing the greatness of God’s creations was a declaration that humans are nothing; God’s rebuttal was that the purpose of God is to bring about the eternal life of us mortals.
  • Anyone who would say that someone is better or worse because of something like race or ethnicity does not understand the gospel.
  • God doesn’t want us to be discouraged during our stay in mortality.
  • Sometimes humility is accepting calls to serve when we feel inadequate; sometimes humility is serving faithfully when we feel we are capable of something we perceive as more important.
  • Remember that our sins are forgiven through the atonement; however, when we refuse to forgive others (or hold a grudge), we effectively reject the atonement.
  • Humility isn’t a specific, identifiable achievement, but rather a continual process of growing.

Stephen W. Owen, general president of the young men organization
  • All have sinned, but repentance allows us to overcome those sins.
  • “All repentance is positive.”
  • Repentance is not mere self-improvement.
  • We often associate repentance with grievous sins, but repentance is for everyone, because everyone has sinned.
  • Repentance is for everyone, no matter their depth of knowledge and experience or lack thereof.
  • Continuing repentance is necessary to keep moving forward in the gospel.

Gary E. Stevenson, of the quorum of apostles
  • “Have you ever seen a total solar eclipse?” he asks. “No!” shout my children, “Because we live in Alaska!”
  • The moon is orders of magnitude smaller than the sun, but the moon can still block out the sun in an eclipse; similarly, small things can block out our view of heavenly things when we focus on them instead.
  • We need to view our challenges and distractions through the lens of the gospel.
  • Remember that even admirable pursuits can be drawn so close (i.e., taken to an extreme) that they distract us from our focus on gospel truth.
  • [In his discussion of the good and ill of social media, he’s doing right the same message that Bonnie L. Oscarson fumbled slightly earlier in the day.]
  • Comparing ourselves unfavorably to overly idealized images of others (as sometimes happens when we overfocus on social media, for example) isn’t limited to our day—Paul the Apostle wrote about people who compare themselves to others, and in so doing are not wise.
  • Avoid pride; embrace meekness and humility.
  • No matter how obscured the light of the gospel may be to us, it is still there.

Presentation of general officers and authorities: Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • I feel like sometimes this is omitted in the semiannual (fall) conferences. Am i wrong in that?
  • He tried to pronounce Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s name right, really he did!
  • No loud objections? Maybe those voting no have finally realized that overt impoliteness really isn’t a way to gain traction for your cause.
  • Just occurred to me: Interesting that area seventies are sustained in general conference, even though they don’t have general churchwide authority.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

Welcome, welcome, sabbath morning! Oh, wait.

Anyway, yes, we’ve arrived at the Saturday before the Sunday of general conference, or as i’ve started to call it, the weekend without a weekend. (Seriously, you’re Mormon and you have plans to get anything done around the house or such this weekend? I admire your dogged self-confidence.)

Anyway, as with all of these, i write these in “liveblog” style, which means the first speaker of this session is actually at the bottom of this post, the next speaker is above that, the next is above that, and so on to the last speaker (who appears at the top of the post). This is done so that once the whole conference weekend is past you can to scroll down to the bottom of this first session’s post for the start of the conference, and then scroll up to read through the entire conference chronologically. However, under each speaker, the comments are done top-down chronologically (i.e., the opposite direction), because otherwise i get overly confused.

Which is itself all confusing, but it ends up working okay, really, i promise it does.

And so…

Jeffrey R. Holland, of the quorum of apostles
  • [Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Jeffrey R. Holland both in the opening session? What are we going to have to look forward to for the rest of the weekend?]
  • The scriptures are there to comfort us, but also to remind us that sometimes we fall a little short.
  • Consider the beatitudes: They start with some niceties, but then ask us to do things like not ever be angry, give our substance to the poor, and so on, culminating in a command to be perfect!
  • It’s perhaps no surprise that we may feel like we can never live up to what is expected of us, but as children of God, with the promise that we can fulfill all of God’s commands and the possibility of perfection ourselves, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into self-vilification.
  • Remember that we live in a telestial—that’s starting with a t, not a c!—world, and “perfection is pending”.
  • God is merciful and a peacemaker, which is wonderful, because we all need mercy, and we all need peace.
  • Focusing on the perfection of God rather than our own failures does not give us a reason to excuse our own failures, but it should inspire in us a recognition of the perfection of the Lord, and lead us to aspire to the heavenly gift of perfection.
  • The grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sin, sorrow, and death, but also salvation from self-criticism.
  • The parable of the two debtors (Luke 7:36–50) is not a story about squabbling servants, it’s a story about our debt and (hopefully) gratitude to God.
  • We need to focus on being as perfect and Godlike as we can, avoiding what has been called “toxic perfectionism”—and also be willing to recognize that others, even those who serve in the church (which is, for its members, all of us!), will also not be perfect even as they try to do so.
  • Don’t gloat at those who fail, but give your help to anyone who is trying to follow the right way. [I think that was from the end of a quote from Tolstoy, but i’m not certain.]
  • “If we persevere, then sometime in eternity our refinement will be perfect and complete, which is the New Testament definition of ‘perfection’.”
  • Remember that even Jesus moved from grace to grace, ultimately achieving glory in immortality.

D. Todd Christofferson, of the quorum of apostles
  • Jesus said that his followers must “eat his flesh” and “drink his blood”, which is a striking way to describe how thoroughly we must incorporate him into our lives.
  • We must follow the Savior’s precepts to receive grace, which leads to a remission of our sins.
  • We often think of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ as referring to partaking of the emblems of the sacrament, but it also includes internalizing the qualities of Jesus Christ and becoming more like him.
  • We can come to a knowledge of our sins, and that can humble and even shock us, but it needn’t discourage us—it can also give us hope in the atonement.
  • The sacrifices we make to keep our covenants and the service we give to others lead us to holiness.
  • The early Utah Mormons inscribed “holiness to the Lord” on even seemingly non-religious, mundane items (hammers! doorknobs! drums!), but it was done to reflect the truth that holiness should encompass all of our existence.

John C. Pingree Jr, of the quorums of seventy
  • We may ask ourselves whether God has a work for each of us. The answer: Yes.
  • Every one of us has a meaningful role to play in the work of God, no matter our background or social status.
  • How do we find what God’s work for us is? Focus on others, discover and develop your spiritual gifts, make use of adversity to grow, and ask God what work you are to accomplish.
  • All have spiritual gifts; if you don’t know what gifts you have been given, ask God—God knows what blessings you have been given, and how you can use them.
  • Take care to not be so preoccupied with things of the world that you’re distracted from the greater work you are to accomplish.
  • Do not feel inadequate to accomplish what you’re supposed to, or that your work is unimportant.
  • We may be tempted to take credit for the work we accomplish, but we should rather give the glory to God.

Dallin H. Oaks, of the quorum of apostles
  • “The world” is often used in the scriptures as a metaphor for opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • What does it mean to not be “of the world”, or to “forsake the world”?
  • We must live with the laws and mores that surround us, but to achieve salvations and exaltation we must make personal choices that match with the requirements that God has set.
  • There is always conflict between those who follow the laws of God and those who don’t.
  • Mention of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, and differences between its precepts as opposed to those in surrounding cultures.
  • Interestingly, the things he’s hitting hard on are same-sex marriage [kind of expected, really, particularly given the speaker], cohabitation without marriage [which was mentioned more frequently—though usually indirectly—in general conference in previous decades], and the births of children out of wedlock [again, not really referenced all that frequently recently].
  • Some interesting history of the way the Proclamation on the Family was developed.

Bonnie L Oscarson, general president of the young women organization
  • We have recently been faced with many natural disasters across the world, and have seen the service that so many have provided in response.
  • We need to be willing to lose ourselves in service to others.
  • We need to recognize that some of the most significant service we can give aren’t in response to the huge, incredibly visible needs around us, but may be the seemingly “small” needs of those closest to us.
  • “Changing the world begins with strengthening your own family.”
  • We should keep in mind that church meetings aren’t just about what we get out of them individually—the most important thing we attend on any given day may be the ways we serve and strengthen others there.
  • [My teen daughter is being very frustrated at the repeated undertone of this speech that socialization through technology stands in the way of really offering service to those around us. I’m not so much frustrated by it, but i do think it’s kind of a weird note in an otherwise encouraging and useful address.]

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the first presidency
  • [Starting off with the big dogs!]
  • There are animals that have a remarkable ability to travel long distances to find their way to where they’re supposed to go; human beings have a similar innate yearning to go where they’re supposed to go spiritually.
  • God knows you in all of your joys and sorrows and weaknesses, and calls to you no matter your history.
  • If you hear God’s call, God will speak to you.
  • Why should you turn to God? Two reasons: Your life will be better, and God will use you to make the lives of others better.
  • Following the Savior will not remove all of our problems, but it will remove the barriers that stand between us and God.
  • We may think we have to be more [intelligent, charismatic, anything really] to serve God. This is false; all we need to do is heed the call and serve.
  • Some of us may look at faults of some early members of the church and say we’d never have made such mistakes; we can’t say that, because we don’t know what it was like for them and how we would have reacted. What we do know is that God was able to use them, fallible as they were, just as we can be used in our fallibilities.
  • Life is not a self-driving car, or an airplane on autopilot—we must each individually commit to follow the Savior, and be willing to swim upstream.

Conducting: Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • They changed the font they use to display the names and offices of speakers onscreen, i think.
  • Thomas S. Monson isn’t attending this session.

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.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Due to my computer crashing, i lost all of my notes from the Sunday morning session before i could transfer them to this medium.

All of them.

I am a bit sad about this, particularly since this means i lost my notes on Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s excellent and much-needed address.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Priesthood session

Priesthood session. I still wonder why they haven’t turned this into a general men’s session open to boys as young as eight like they did with the general women’s session a few years back, but as it is, it’s still twelve and up.

Anyway, as with all the rest of these, the first speaker is at the bottom of this post and then you can read upwards to the last speaker at the top, with comments under each speaker’s name going chronologically the other way (i.e., downwards).

Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • It is natural to feel inadequate when we contemplate our responsibilities.
  • If we feel completely capable we should probably learn our duties better, but if we feel like giving up we should learn what God can do to increase our capability.
  • The power of the priesthood includes being able to do all things—literally all things—that God desires to be done.
  • Contemplating the power of the priesthood should instill in us a desire to do more in the service of God.
  • Remember that Enoch was a great prophet, but he saw himself as “but a lad” until he accepted the invitation to walk with the Lord.
  • You need never feel too small or insignificant for God to care about you.
  • Walking with the Savior in priesthood service will change the way you see people—if you walk with the Savior long enough you will see every human being as a child of God with limitless potential, and in fact you will ultimately be able to help them see that in themselves.
  • We come to know Jesus Christ best when we join in the work of salvation for all of God’s children.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the first presidency
  • He started with two stories (one personal, one scriptural) underscoring the need to see the work of the gospel as the work of God, and not as a vehicle for our own success and aggrandizement
  • In God’s kingdom, leadership means seeing others as God sees them—as they really are—regardless of nationality, race, political orientation, or any other such thing, and reaching out and ministering to them.
  • James E. Faust noted that the members of the church are gracious to the general authorities—and the general authorities need to be grateful for that, and be careful not to “inhale it”.
  • J. Reuben Clark, Jr used to tell those called to leadership positions to remember “rule #6”. When asked what that was, he’d say it’s “Don’t take yourself so darn seriously”. Then, when asked what the first five rules were, he’d respond that there weren’t any.
  • We become great by accepting callings to service with grace, humility, and gratitude—and then when we are released, by accepting the change with the same grace, humility, and gratitude.
  • Every time we reach outside ourselves to serve, especially when our service is unseen by others, we come closer to our Lord, who gave his all for us.
  • One kind of service is not greater than another.
  • “What is the most important calling in the church? It is the one you now have”, because it is the one that allows you to serve now.
  • “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant” is the paramount principle of church governance.

Gérald Caussé, presiding bishop
  • Growing up in a small branch, he had many opportunities to serve and lead as a teenager.
  • The Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods have different missions and stewardships, but they are inseparable and work together toward the same goal—and for a perfect example of this, see the relationship between Jesus Christ and John the Baptist.
  • Aaronic priesthood holders should willingly labor in their sphere to prepare the way for the work of the Melchizedek priesthood; Melchizedek priesthood holders should invite Aaronic priesthood holders to provide meaningful assistance in the work.
  • “Too often we try to entertain our young men and relegate them to a spectator role.”

David A. Bednar, of the quorum of apostles
  • Letters calling new full-time missionaries issue first the calling of full-time missionary, and then an assignment to a particular mission—and the distinction is important.
  • We are called not to serve in a particular mission, but rather to the work.
  • Those who are called to do the work of God, if they serve faithfully, cannot go amiss no matter where they serve—an assignment is necessary, but it is not a central part of the call.
  • Why bring this up in general conference? Because of the occasional negative feelings, including guilt and failure, that full-time missionaries sometimes feel when they are reassigned.
  • No member of this church should carry an unnecessary burden of anguish or guilt over an assignment from the Lord.
  • Priesthood and temple blessings precede the blessing of a mission call.
  • Personal worthiness is the single most important qualification for temple blessings.
  • To the young men [and if this hadn’t been delivered in priesthood session, i would expect the young women would have been included, too]: Each of you is a missionary now!

Thomas S. Monson, president of the high priesthood
  • We don’t honor the priesthood if we’re unkind to others
  • We must be kind, loving, and charitable.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

As with the rest of these entries, the first speaker of this session is at the bottom of this post with each following speaker entered progressively above the previous one; within each speaker’s entry, however, my comments run from the top down.

So now you can scroll to the bottom of the post and…

M. Russell Ballard, of the quorum of apostles
  • Success generally comes from knowing where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there; this is a difference between having a goal (the former) and a plan (the latter).
  • Goal-setting is beginning with the end in mind, and planning is devising a way to get to that end.
  • God’s goal is the eternal life and salvation of humanity, and God’s plan is the plan of salvation.
  • There are two central words to encapsulate the most important goals we can set: return and receive (that is, return to God, and receive the promised blessings).
  • It is occasionally worth asking yourself, “How am I doing?” It’s sort of like having a personal, private interview with yourself.
  • An admonition to take time during the coming weeks to review your own goals and plans to determine whether they are in line with God’s goals and plans.
  • We must keep the gospel of Jesus Christ at the center of our own goals and plans.
  • Yet another recommendation to review “The Living Christ”.
  • We often speak of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, but it must be read in the light of the content of “The Living Christ”.
  • The goals and plans of our Heavenly Parents are completely and utterly focused on helping each of us returning to them and receiving the blessings promised to us.

Neil L. Andersen, of the quorum of apostles
  • We are to overcome the world; overcoming the world is not one defining moment, but is the process of a lifetime that comes from praying, repenting, following the Savior, and receiving grace.
  • Overcoming the world means turning ourselves outward—helping our children love God, placing our spouse’s needs above ourselves, freely sharing of our substance with those in need, and letting ourselves be led to those in need of help.
  • Overcoming the world involves being unconcerned with the glories of the world.
  • Overcoming the world means that we can be secure that we will stand before our Savior at the judgment bar and be found worthy of inheriting the kingdom that has been prepared for us.
  • As we trust more in the Savior, we will have a greater assurance in this life, and in our eternal destinty.

Valeri V. Cordón, of the quorums of seventy
  • There are cases of language loss, where families and peoples lose the language of their ancestors due to migration or such—but there is also a more troubling loss of language that can occur when people or families lose the spiritual “language” of the gospel.
  • Language loss can occur when parents don’t make an effort to preserve the language with their children in the home—similarly, preserving the gospel in our families requires consistent effort and teaching.
  • It is not enough to teach our children about living the gospel, but rather they need to see us doing so ourselves.
  • Our Heavenly Father, as a loving parent, is patient with our mistakes, and [in a wonderful image that i do wish i could have caught the wording of perfectly] hears our mumblings as if they were poetry.

Gary B. Sabin, of the quorums of seventy
  • To have all forgiven, we must turn from all of our sins and obey all of the commandments—we must be “all in”.
  • As we continually repent, we gain strength as we become as a little child but now with the strength of life experience.
  • If we’re unable to walk forward as we are, maybe we need to make a U-turn, maybe we need to run, maybe we need to recalculate our route—whatever it is, we can make the changes needed to let us progress.
  • We know that things will work out for good in the end—this doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but we can have a certainty of hope no matter what.

Jeffrey R. Holland, of the quorum of apostles
  • [Cue the “Elder Holland’s about to speak!” memes…]
  • As a text, taking a line from “There Is Sunshine in My Soul” completely out of context: “Jesus, listening, can hear the songs [you] cannot sing.”
  • It is by divine design that all the voices in the divine choir are not the same.
  • “When we disparage our uniqueness…[insert a slap at expectations fueled by consumer culture here]…we lose the richness of tone and timbre that God intended.”
  • The loss of even one voice diminishes the whole, perhaps especially when those lost voices are on the margins of society or the margins of the church.
  • We cannot honorably fully sing our joy until the poor have been fully cared for—if we can more fully care for the poor, perhaps more could join in expressing joy with us, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
  • “Guns and slurs and vitriol are not the way to deal with human conflict.”
  • There is another, happier time that we cannot sing: When we experience those moments that are so deep and spiritual as to be beyond our ability to utter.
  • There is room for everyone who loves God and honors the commandments in the eternal choir, no matter our age, family status, sexual orientation, location, or anything.
  • Come as you are, God says, but don’t plan to stay as you are—we know that God intends to make us more than we otherwise could be.

Robert D. Hales, of the quorum of apostles
  • “Disciple” doesn’t simply mean “follower”—it’s an active, not a passive role.
  • “We measure our faith by what it leads us to do.”
  • Virtue is more than just sexual purity—it’s actually general cleanliness and power.
  • Brotherly kindness is a hallmark of all true disciples—like the Good Samaritan, we cross the road to minister to those who are in need even if they are not in their circle, we do good to even those who stand against us.
  • Discipleship is not constrained by age, gender, ethnicity, calling, or anything—everyone can be a disciple.
  • “We are all called to be disciples of our savior.”

Brooke P. Hales, secretary to the first presidency (statistical report)
  • [That was an incredibly short statistical report!]

Kevin R. Jergensen, of the church auditing department (annual report)
  • [Seriously, why do we waste valuable general conference time with this thing each year?]

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the first presidency (presentation of general authorities, general officers, and area seventies)
  • Seriously, y’all, if you want to vote opposed in a Mormon church sustaining session, raise your hand and don’t shout “Opposed!” (It’s “by the same sign”, after all.) Shouting in a Mormon religious service isn’t going to get the positive attention you want, it’s just going to annoy the people around you when you break basic social norms.
  • Reorganization of the relief society general presidency, and new counselors in the primary general presidency, with the new relief society presidency being Jean B. Bingham (president), Sharon Eubank (first counselor), and Reyna I. Aburto (second counselor), and the new primary counselors are Bonnie H. Cordon (formerly second counselor, now first counselor) and Christina B. Franco (second counselor).
  • The outgoing relief society general presidency, by the way, was totally cute when their release was announced.
  • Fun fact: The new relief society and primary second counselors are from Latin America. Also, Reyna I. Aburto studied industrial engineering.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

So it’s general conference weekend, which means it’s time for this blog to receive what has become its twice-yearly flurry of posts. Welcome to anyone strolling by! To explain if you’re unfamiliar with these, i post my notes on general conference here in “liveblog” style. To briefly explain: The first speaker of this session is actually at the bottom of this post, the next speaker is above that, the next is above that, and so on to the last speaker (who appears at the top of the post). This means that once the whole conference weekend is past you would be able to scroll down to the bottom of this session’s post for the start of the conference, and then scroll up to read through the entire conference chronologically. However, under each speaker, the comments are done top-down chronologically (i.e., the opposite direction), because—and just trust me on this—the bottom-up thing really and truly doesn’t work within an individual speaker’s entry.

So, now is when you scroll to the bottom of the post to read each speaker in order, or you start reading normally to read the speakers in reverse order. Doesn’t matter to me, really.

Russell M. Nelson, president of the quorum of apostles
  • He recently did a deep study of Jesus Christ in the scriptures, and when his wife asked him how it had affected him, he said it had made him “a changed man”.
  • It is doctrinally incomplete to speak of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ with shortcut phrase like “the atonement” or “the X of the atonement”—that risks misdirecting faith by focusing on the event independent of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
  • It is the Savior who saves us, not an amorphous event called “the atonement”—the atonement is what the Savior did.
  • A suggestion to study 2000 statement “The Living Christ”.
  • When we truly desperately and intensely reach out for the power of Jesus Christ with full desire, we will receive it.

Mark A. Bragg, of the quorums of seventy
  • We are children of God, and are created to continually receive light from God.
  • The church will always have its critics, but we can’t allow such criticism to deflect us from seeking after more and more light.
  • Cool story about firefighters battling a fire at a stake center in Arizona (i think it was).
  • [This is one of those weird cases where i didn’t have a lot of notes, but felt that the speech was both well-delivered and contentful—and that’s even with his continual references to “a darkening world”, which is the sort of thing that usually bothers me. He handled it incredibly well, though, and struck a most excellent rhetorical balance—certainly worth a listen/read.]
  • [Also, i just learned he actually has an IMDB entry!☺]
Ulisses Soares, of the presidency of seventy
  • [People who don’t use gratuitous initials in their names, represent!]
  • Jesus overcame the world, and in so doing holds out salvation to all—and through him, we will overcome the world.
  • As we contemplate the strength we receive from the Savior, we have reason to rejoice.
  • If we are not rooted by a steadfast faith in God, we can lose hope, and thus lose our desire to progress in the gospel.
  • Remember that God listens to us in our moments of desperation and doubt.
Dale G. Renlund, of the quorum of apostles
  • If God can’t look at sin with the least degree of allowance, then how can he look at us sinners without recoiling in horror? It’s because God sees our imperfections as illnesses to be treated, not as our permanent state.
  • Jesus surely didn’t condone the actions of the woman taken in adultery, but he didn’t condemn her either—and the scriptural record shows how that led to her spiritual healing, saying that “the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name” [which comes from the Inspired Version].
  • Our job is to “replace fear and despair with hope and joy”.
  • Jesus rebuked those who believed that they were less sinful than others. [And then he quotes the parable of the Pharisee and the publican—my favorite parable!]
  • We must not be guilty of persecuting anyone, whether those people are inside or outside the church.
  • Our church’s history has many instances of our members being treated with disrespect and persecution—it would be horrible for us to be similarly disrespectful to others.
  • We, as disciples of Christ, need to treat those around us such that none feel abandoned, alone, or hopeless.
  • [Really, this was an excellent reconciliation between not tolerating sin and being unconditionally loving and merciful. And i’m not saying that Mormons need to hear this kind of message because we’re quite often bad at it, but Mormons need to hear this kind of message because we’re quite often bad at it.]
“Glory to God on High”, congregational hymn
  • What’s with no longer putting the words to the song on the screen? Is the assumption that everyone has their phones or tablets close at hand while watching general conference?
  • Also, i will state right now that this organ arrangement—which i’ve heard before—annoys me. I like extra-fancy organ arrangements, but this one seems like there’s ornamentation for the sake of ornamentation, not to add to the setting.
Weatherford T. Clayton, of the quorums of seventy
  • In order for Christ to rise from the tomb, he first had to die—and so must we.
  • “Even in our moments of deepest grief…we can find comfort in our Savior, because he suffered as well.”
  • There is more to our existence than merely what happens between birth and death.
  • We receive eternal life by choosing it.
M. Joseph Brough, of the young men general presidency
  • God’s commandments help counter the idea that wickedness might be happiness.
  • We are given daily opportunities to “lead, guide, and walk beside” those in need.
  • To “lead, guide, and walk beside” youth we have to be with them, connect them with heaven, and let them lead.
  • Letting youth lead is harder and takes more time than just doing it ourselves, but it is necessary, and we will be with them to help them succeed if they stumble.
Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • We are all literally children of a Heavenly Father, making brother and sister not just friendly greetings, but literal truths.
  • Even those who know nothing of the plan of God feel that kinship with God, and that leads them to know right from wrong.
  • Only a very small minority of God’s children have the gospel and its ordinances available in this life—and this is why the priesthood power to seal families eternally was restored.
  • The desire to seek out the histories of our families is more than just an effect of interest in shared DNA—it’s part of the plan of God.
  • Just loving our ancestors isn’t enough—we must also perform the necessary ordinances on their behalf so that they can progress.
Kim B. Clark, of the quorums of seventy (opening prayer)
  • That may be the shortest invocation i’ve ever heard at a general conference. I feel like a lot of the general conference prayers the last few years have been on the shorter side, though—maybe a trend? One can dare hope…