Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday afternoon session

If you’re coming to this after the conference has ended, this may be the first of these entries you see, so for those new to this or who’ve forgotten, here’s how to read them: Blogs run—going against millennia of best practice in reading and writing, i’ll note—in reverse chronological order, so this one’s at the top of the page, followed by the entry for the previous session, followed by the previous one, and so on. Therefore, to make it easier to follow this whole thing chronologically, speakers are arranged within each session’s entry in reverse chronological order, as well—so the opening speaker for this session is at the bottom of this post, preceded by the next speaker, preceded by the next one, and so on.

So now it’s time to scroll down and read upwards, or start here and go backwards in time:

Closing thoughts
    There was a lot of intensity this conference. Yeah, that’s probably the right word to use.
  • My favorite address is a toss-up between Reyba I.Aburto in the general women’s session and Russell M. Nelson’s address that closed the Sunday morning session; I’ll have to give the nod to Sister Aburto just because she gets fewer chances to speak.
  • But I also have to say that the best-delivered address was Peter M. Johnson’s. It’s always good to have people around who grew up in a different and more, well, lively preaching tradition.
  • And that’s a wrap! Time to read up on the First Vision before the next one…

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • Some will visit our temple open houses and desire to learn more about how to qualify for those blessings—and we must be ready to help them do so.
  • Consider the words on every temple: “Holiness to the Lord”. All of the requirements to enter the temple deal with holiness.
  • [He listed the temple recommend questions, including recent edits for—his word—clarity, though no real substantive changes.]
  • “In a sense, it is easier to build a temple than to build a people prepared to enter a temple.”
  • A reminder that next year is the bicentennial of the First Vision, and the next general conference will celebrate that—and all members are asked to prepare for that.

Neal L. Andersen
  • We must partake of the fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ—but then it is not all done.
  • At times little things can upend our spiritual balance—but please don’t let those things turn you away from the fruit of the gospel.
  • Jesus Christ is the source of all joy—if we look to the world, we will never find joy.

Ulisses Soares
  • All those who wish to follow Jesus must deny their own desires, and follow precisely what God wills for them.
  • Our determination to follow God means that we will be protected from those things that can overcome those things that could overwhelm us.
  • Always strive to do your best—retain the desire to “cleanse the inner vessel”.
  • As we strive to do what we should, God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
  • “We cannot repent for other people, but we can forgive them.”
  • Taking up our cross means being humble, and recognizing that God knows what is best for us—and that will provide rest for our souls, and make our burdens light.

Peter M. Johnson, of the quorums of seventy
  • “If we do not understand who we are then it is difficult to understand who we can become.”
  • Satan uses deception, distraction, and discouragement to steal our happiness.
  • How do we overcome this? Remember that the first commandment is to love God, which will increase our capacity to love and serve others; pray every day; and study the Book of Mormon every day; take the sacrament worthily.
  • [Dang, this guy knows how to preach!]

M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the quorum of apostles
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to look into the eyes of your family with love.
  • Express your love and appreciation for family members.
  • By seeking spiritual help through the Holy Ghost, we can overcome all things.
  • How are we doing in the battle between our carnal and spiritual natures?
  • Remember that our spirits have been around much longer than our physical bodies—our spirits have more experience.
  • We need to think about how we are controlling our carnal desires, and promoting our spiritual impulses.

Hans T. Boom, of the quorums of seventy
  • We need all of the (metaphorical) instruments in the church—everyone has something to contribute, no matter what parts they play.
  • Even those who don’t play as frequently (like the gong) are needed.
  • If you feel you are not currently able to be a part of the orchestra, keep at it and your burdens will be lifted from you.
  • As we experience God’s love, it will brighten our lives and others will be drawn to that light.

Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • We can be sanctified (i.e., become more holy) when we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, follow the commandments, and make covenants.
  • We can hear the Holy Ghost when there is spiritual peace in our hearts.
  • The Holy Ghost brings peace and joy.
  • Feelings of happiness, even in the face of tragedy, is a promised blessing for a life of holiness.
  • When we choose to repent, we choose to become holier—we choose to become more like Jesus Christ.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Sunday morning! Historically, the “big leagues” session, because if people away from the Mormon Dominance Area only heard/saw one session, it was this one. Not so much anymore, though—but it still has sort of an aura, you know?

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • As he travels the world, his purpose is to build others’ faith—but instead he always returns with his own faith strengthened.
  • The church exists to help those who are in need.
  • The church’s organized humanitarian efforts started in 1984, with a churchwide fast to help those suffering from the famine in Ethiopia.
  • [He then gave a solid overview of church humanitarian efforts.]
  • [He mentioned both church efforts to help rebuild mosques and assist refugees. I’m going to suggest there are a good number of members, perhaps specially in the United States, who need to be reminded that refugees an Muslims are good people.]
  • “Living [the] second great commandment is the key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”
  • [I’ll admit it, i kept expecting a “therefore, today we are announcing…” But that wasn’t the reason for it—no announcements, just a reminder of what we’re doing and what we should be doing. Most excellent.]

Gary E. Stevenson, of the quorum of apostles
  • [He started with a pair of stories, the morals of which are, i think, that his family shouldn’t ever be around animals.]
  • There are some dangers before us: Either that we want things that are right to be different than they are, or that we don’t recognize things that are wrong as being what they are.
  • The Spirit will, however, not lie or mislead.

Walter F. González, of the quorums of seventy
  • Whatever we are experiencing, we can trust in the mercy and goodness of God.
  • If you feel unclean or broken, you can be made clean and mended because God loves you.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the quorum of apostles
  • The plan of God promised so much difficulty that many chose against it—but we accepted the challenge, believing that the promised reward was great enough to brave the discomfort.
  • The gospel is simple enough for a child to grasp, but so full that we can barely grasp the smallest part of it with a lifetime of study and experience.
  • “The gospel is not about doing things perfectly, but about doing things intentionally”—it is not our outcomes that determine our success, but rather our choices.
  • When we have the love of Christ in our hearts we love those who dislike or even ridicule us, and there is no room for rancor or shaming.
  • It is time to choose to be a part of the great adventure which is the gospel path.

Christina B. Franco, of the general presidency of the primary organization
  • [My linguist self absolutely adores her accent. She’s Argentinian, but her vowels are so Northern Cities (roughly, the Upstate New York to the Dakotas corridor). It’s a delightful combination. But it also means that i’m busy listening to the form of her speech, and not the content…]
  • We can all be part of the work of sharing the gospel with others.
  • We can pray for inspiration in sharing the gospel, and also for the ability to act on that inspiration.
  • [I'm liking that we’re hearing an intensely missionary-oriented address from a woman—we don't usually get that (except in the context of children sharing the gospel, which is how this started, but she’s going beyond that).]

Gerrit W. Gong
  • The age-old paradox is still valid: By losing our worldly self in covenant belonging, we gain our greatest possible eternal self.
  • We may lost faith in God along the way, but God never loses faith in us.
  • By making covenants, we can stop being miserable and “be happy being happy”.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: General women’s session

The general women’s session! And yes, i’m male, but i figure that if my wife gets to sit in on the priesthood sessions as i listen to them, i get to hang out for this one.

So once more, the speakers run bottom-up, so if you scroll down to the bottom of the post now…

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • Everyone who makes covenants with God and keeps those covenants has direct access to the power of God.
  • Women who make covenants have as much access to the priesthood power as men who hold the priesthood.
  • How can you access that power? By doing the same things Emma Smith was directed to do in section 25 of the book of Doctrine and Covenants.
  • Every time you serve and worship in the temple you leave armed with power.
  • Women being sidelined or ignored or misjudged goes against the commandments of God.
  • Being set apart in a calling gives you priesthood authority; the temple endowment authorizes you to officiate in the priesthood.
  • If someone says to a single mother that they don't have the priesthood in your home, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
  • The temple is central to receiving our highest blessings.
  • New temples: Freetown, Sierra Leone; Orem, Utah; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Bentonville, Arkansas; Bacolod, Philippines; McAllen, Texas; Cobán, Guatemala; Taylorsville, Utah.

Dallin H. Oaks, of the first presidency
  • We are to love everyone as ourselves—but in doing so, we have to love God, which involves keeping his commandments.
  • Those commandments include following the law of chastity, which limits sexual expression to marriage, and God recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • Those who don’t act as we believe should be treated with compassion.

Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • All those who have been baptized have been called to serve others.
  • As we stay close to God, we can be prepared to minister to others.
  • We have great power to shape others’ lives as we keep our covenants.

Bonnie H. Cordon, general president of the young women organization
  • The young women theme is being revised (including a shift from we to i, and an explicit reference to heavenly parents).
  • Young women should be divided into classes according to the ward’s specific circumstances, not necessarily three of them.
  • Classes will simply be called “young women”, not beehive, MIA maid, and laurel.
  • Every class should have a presidency.
  • Class presidencies are an opportunity for youth to have experiences with revelation.
  • The structural changes should be in place by the turn of the year.

Lisa L. Harkness, of the general presidency of the primary organization
    Names are given for many purposes, but we have all taken a name on ourselves: The name of Christ.
  • That gives us a “covenant identity and belonging”.
  • Our promise to always remember the savior gives us strength in all situations.
  • Taking the name of Christ upon ourselves isn’t just words—it is engraved on our hearts, and affects all of our interactions.

Reyna I. Aburto, of the general presidency of the relief society organization
  • Depression and anxiety can keep us from feeling connected to God.
  • Such things can affect anyone, no matter who they are. If our pain blocks our ability to feel the love of God, we should seek appropriate medical and spiritual help.
  • When we open up about our emotional challenges and admit we are not perfect, we help others open up about their challenges, and we learn we are not alone.
  • Sometimes mental illnesses can be easily treated, but others may not be. Either way, treatment is needed.
  • Depression is not the result of weakness or sin.
  • We need to stop making judgments about the spirituality of others—and if we show empathy, we may be able to help lift others’ burdens.
  • If you face such afflictions, share your story to help others.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

As with the rest of these entries, the first speaker is at the bottom of the post, and then you can read up to follow chronologically.

Ronald A. Rasband, of the quorum of apostles
  • Teaching our children will protect them and help set them up for success in their later lives.
  • Keeping promises is not a habit, but rather a characteristic of a disciple of Jesus.
  • The gathering of Israel is simply giving all a chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ
  • We must keep our promises, and as we do this God will back us up as we build up the kingdom.

Jorge M. Alvarado, of the quorums of seventy
  • It is our responsibility to teach our children to love God—we cannot assume they will do it on their own.
  • Children will be strengthened by the faith of their parents, which will help them get through the trials of life.

L. Todd Budge, of the quorums of seventy
  • The difficulties of life can lead to concerns that seem too much for us, but God can provide a way for us.
  • The only way we can get through the worst of what life faces us with is by putting our trust in God.
  • Note that the Jaredites were given a way to cross the sea in a way that may have seemed impossible, but God gave them a way and they rejoiced even while they were on the way.

Mark L. Pace, general president of the Sunday school organization
  • We need a firm foundation in Christ, and the recent programmatic changes can help develop that.
  • “The goal isn’t to make church one hour shorter, it is to make church six days longer.”
  • The attacks of Satan are increasing, but gospel teaching in the home will ensure that the influence of Satan decreases.

Quentin L. Cook, of the quorum of apostles
  • Young men presidencies at the ward level are being discontinued.
  • The bishopric is in charge of the Aaronic priesthood quorums—but this does not mean that the bishop can shirk responsibility for the young women of the ward.
  • Ward young women presidents now report directly to the bishop, and that can't be delegated to a bishop's counselor.
  • The stake young men’s president will now be a high councilor (as will the stake Sunday school president).
  • These (and the other organizational) changes announced here don’t have to be implemented immediately, but must be done by the turn of the year.

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • Restating the recent policy change on witnessing for baptisms.
  • The changes are made to encourage family participation in ordinances.
  • There will be changes in the youth programs—those for young men to be announced in the next address, and those for young women in the general women’s session.

Rubén V. Alliaud, of the quorums of seventy
  • [This was mostly his conversion story.]

David A. Bednar, of the quorum of apostles
  • [In his whole description of cheetah hunting methods, what i’m learning is that i have great respect for cheetahs. I don’t think that’s the lesson i’m supposed to be getting from this.]
  • We need to be aware of beguiling evils that pretend to be good.
  • Spiritual thoughtlessness or inattentiveness invites great danger into our lives.
  • We have spiritual appetites that are necessary for survival—and so Satan tempts us through those appetites, which are appetites that Satan (lacking a body) does not have.
  • As you respond in faith, you will be inspired to know what you should do to take on the whole armor of God.

Sustaining of church officers and authorities, presented Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • The president and acting president of the quorum of apostles got their own fully separate line in the sustaining list. Is that normal? Can’t remember.
  • The sustaining included a crazy long list of releases of area seventies. I’m starting to feel like one day they’ll take up an entire session…

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

I’ve decided to just repeat these introductions, because it’s a pain to try to come up with new ones each time. So, lifted from April’s entry…

So if you’re here, you probably already know the way these notes are laid out, because Google doesn’t give much weight in its search results to blogs that are only updated twice a year.

But in case you’re new to this, welcome! You should know that because blogs read in reverse chronological order, these posts are also in reverse chronological order. That is, the first speaker of this session is at the bottom of the post, then the second speaker is above that, and so on to the final speaker of the session, which immediately follows this introduction. Then the next session’s summary will appear above this post, so you can continue to read upwards in chronological order, since the bottom entry in that post will be the first speaker of that session.

Dallin H. Oaks, of the first presidency
  • Many are troubled by questions about the spirit world, and what it will be like. Often, though, we are worried about the wrong things.
  • We do not know the specifics, but we do know that there will be some repentance possible in the spirit world.
  • We know some basics about the spirit world from canon, but we know very little beyond some basics.
  • Some have had personal revelations about the spirit world (and there is much speculation), but these are not to be preached as doctrine.
  • Trying to promote non-official doctrine as if it were official doctrine is not helpful, and in fact can be detrimental.

Dale G. Renlund, of the quorum of apostles
  • [He started with a story from Kinshasa, and showed a picture of the temple there. It has a very nicely simple façade. I like it.]
  • Various groups of converts—the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, early Christian converts in the area around Kinshasa—physically threw away the objects connected with their previous lives.
  • These anchored them to the savior, just as our covenants anchor us—but only if we do so wholeheartedly.
  • Turn your life to God, burying your weapons of rebellion, relying on God, who is a firm foundation and whose promises are sure.

Michelle Craig, of the general presidency of the young women organization
  • We need to increase our spiritual capacity to receive revelation.
  • When you are on the Lord’s errand, you qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost—and you can pray for an errand from the Lord and b given one.
  • There are many ways to build the kingdom of God, and each of us can receive personalized revelation to let us know how to do so.
  • The Lord will prepare a way for us to build up the kingdom of God—not the way, but a way.

D. Todd Christofferson, of the quorum of apostles
  • The joy of the saints denotes the joy of becoming Christlike.
  • Joy comes from keeping Christ’s commandments.
  • We get joy from overcoming through Christ the trials and challenges that can interrupt our joy.
  • We receive joy when we serve as Jesus did.

Stephen W. Owen, general president of the young men organization
  • We are relentlessly bombarded with messages, and if we are to hope to filter through them, we need revelation.
  • Being faithful helps prepare the world for the second coming.
  • Every generation has challenges, and the direction of Russell M. Nelson will help us get through the challenges we face today.
  • Satan is the master of distraction and procrastination.

Terence M. Vinson, of the presidency of the seventy
  • The gospel should be the framework upon which we build our lives.
  • If we put our whole souls into something, we won’t regret it.
  • The king of the Lamanites was willing to offer Ammon half his kingdom for his life—but he was willing to give up everything for the joy of the gospel.

Jeffrey R. Holland, of the quorum of apostles
  • Telling the story of the blind man sitting by the road (from Luke), a note that the blind man had the good sense to surround himself with spiritually aware people, and the whole story hinges on that fact.
  • Shout out to the general conference protestors!🤣
  • General conference is surrounded by a joyful commotion, but it’s ultimately unhelpful if we don’t find Jesus in it.
  • [One day i need to do a surface-level check of general conference addresses to find out is i’m right in thinking that Jeffrey R. Holland uses simply “Jesus” as a reference to that member of the godhead more than most other general authorities do.]
  • We miss the real reason for things like changes in meeting times and youth programs if we don’t see them as a way to draw our attention to Jesus.