Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday afternoon session

The final session, finally! Since anyone coming to this after it goes up will see this first, a note about the way these are set up:

The speakers are listed in reverse chronological order, so to get the full conference in chronological order you can scroll down to the end of the entry for the first session, and then read upwards. (Under each speaker, though, my notes are listed downward.)

So if you want to get to the beginning of the entire conference weekend, you can scroll down five posts read upwards from there.

Closing thoughts
  • Okay, folks, we get it, there’s a lot of tribulation going on right now. I mean, yeah, there is, but it honestly got repetitive. Sorry.
  • We’re planning on building temples in two countries (Kiribati and Vanuatu) that are at extreme risk from environmental disasters (respectively, sea level rise and intensifying climate events). Like, we’re building temples to serve populations that may no longer be there in a century (in the case of Kiribati, because the land might not even be there). It’s an interesting lesson: You need to take the opportunity to serve people in the near term, no matter what’s going to happen long term.
  • And my favorite address of it all? That’s a tough one, because both Dale G. Renlund and Jeffrey’R. Holland were totally on today. I can’t decide between them, honestly, because the answer depends on whether i’m leaning more toward appreciating a more personal focus (Holland) or a more global one (Renlund). So as i type this right now i’d go with the latter, but five minutes from now it might well be the former, so it’s a tie.
  • And that’s it for this time. Not likely to post notes like this again in April, but who actually knows? That’s what i thought six months ago, after all.
Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • God has told us to look forward to the glories to come.
  • Our challenge is to find a way for each of us to attain our divine potential.
  • We often here these days of a “new normal”. So create a “new normal” for yourself! Follow the commandments, repent, prepare for eternal life.
  • New temples: Tarawa, Kiribati; Port Vila, Vanuatu; Lindon, Utah; greater Guatemala City, Guatemala; eastern São Paulo, Brazil, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.
Jeffrey R. Holland, of the quorum of apostles
  • We are not the first, nor will we be the last, to ask “How long, O Lord?”
  • Many of us face suffering to lead us to such an anguished question, both personal and public.
  • As we wait for the answers to our prayers, know that they are heard and they are answered—they may not be answered in the time and way we would like, they are answered in the time and way a loving parent would perfectly answer them.
  • The calendar is God’s, and for every man healed instantly at the Pool of Bethesda, another man waits forty years to enter the promised land.
  • Trusting in God means good times and bad, even if that means that we will have to undergo suffering..
  • Alma likens faith to a seed, which if we care for it, it will at some time in the future grow and bear its most excellent fruit—and that takes diligence and patience on our part.
  • [Picking up the Neal A. Maxwell alliteration mantle!]
  • Know, though, that the blessings will come. That was settled in the Garden of Gethsemane long ago.
Kelly R. Johnson, of the quorums of seventy
  • We have access to the power of God.
  • Having the word of God deep in our souls allows us to conquer the adversary and resist temptation.
  • God’s power diminishes in our lives only if we neglect our covenants.
  • We may not have been able to attend the temple due to the pandemic, but we can still remain faithful to our covenants.
Dale G. Renlund, of the quorum of apostles
  • Without the blessings that come from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ we cannot return to our God; however, through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can.
  • What is necessary for us, then? As Micah says, to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
  • “God delights in mercy and does not begrudge its use.”
  • Loving mercy means that we don’t just appreciate the mercy we receive from God, but that we also delight in the mercy that God extends to others.
  • A just person recognizes that genuine differences in opinion and outlook don’t preclude love and understanding.
  • Differences in race, religion, social class, sexual orientation, [and there were others] are superseded by the love of God.
Milton da Rocha Camargo, of the general presidency of the Sunday school
  • An important part of the divine plan is to always be able to seek and hear the word of God.
  • God has said that everyone that asketh, receiveth. Asking is simple, but it is powerful.
  • We seek because we trust the Lord’s promises.
Gary E. Stevenson, of the quorum of apostles
  • The pandemic has resulted in a lot of disappointment and discouragement—so how do we heal and move forward?
  • Consider all of those in the scriptures who were blessed of the Lord to accomplish great things in adversity. Paul and Silas were in prison and were still able to preach the gospel, even baptizing the jailer!
  • Even as things normalize and we return to worship in our chapels, we will need to retain the habits and skills relating to gospel study in the home that we have developed.
  • Ultimately, when we look back at the disappointments and discouragements of the past months, we will see that all has worked for good, and that we have been highly favored of the Lord.
Jeremy R. Jaggi, of the quorums of seventy
  • We can make a conscious effort to react to our tribulations with joy.
  • Central to such an approach is the gift of patience.
  • With all of the political, social, and so on movements that we may be a part of, let the most central be disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • “’Be of good cheer’ is the commandment of the Lord, not ‘Be of good fear.’”
Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • Part of the purpose of this life is for us to be tested—and in fact we chose this ourselves—to find out if we would obey the commandments even when out of God’s presence.
  • As we go through our own tests of faith, remember that we have been given both a Savior and the ability to choose our own path for ourselves.
  • We have access to the comfort of a Savior who understand all of the pains we will ever experience.
  • The greatest blessing that will come when we have overcome out trials will be a change in our natures.
  • We need not seek tribulations; our mortal lives will naturally provide us ample opportunities to prove ourselves.
  • We must always stand ready to help others through their tribulations, even while we are going through our own.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Sunday morning! The conceptual big leagues.

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • One of the meanings of Israel is ‘let God prevail’—so the gathering of Israel is, in one sense, a gathering of those who are willing to let God prevail with us.
  • This church has been tasked with facilitating the gathering of Israel (on both sides of the veil)—and anytime we do something to help someone progress spiritually, we are assisting with this work.
  • We pray that the missionaries will be led to those who are ready to hear the gospel—but to whom will we be led when we pray to be led to those who are willing to let God prevail in their lives?
  • Please listen carefully [yes, that was what he prefaced this with]: God does not love or favor one race or people from one race any more than another.
  • Our members need to lead out and reject racism and prejudice.
  • The question for all of us is always the same: Are you willing to let your will be swallowed up in what God wants for you? [There were a lot of other questions, but that seemed the crux of the list to me.]
  • When your greatest desire is to let God prevail, decisions and desires become much easier.
Neil L. Andersen, of the quorum of apostles
  • We believe in Jesus Christ and his greatness and glory, but there are places where very little is known about Christ, and other places where faith in Christ is receding. So in such a context, what are we to do?
  • We must keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus.
  • We, along with other devoted Christians, need to speak of Jesus.
  • Everything in our worship, and also in our daily lives, should point to Jesus Christ.
  • Remember Jesus’s promise: Whoever confesses Jesus before others, Jesus will confess them before the Father.
Carlos A. Godoy, of the presidency of the seventy
  • A discussion of how support is needed for those who join the church, with his own history as a case study.
  • [He had really amazing long hair when he joined the church in his mid-teens!]
  • He was in a tenuous place when he first joined the church, and so it required support from other people (“angels” in the form of other people) as he developed his own testimony.
  • The Lord is aware of the challenges those who are new to or struggling in the church, and will send “angels” to help you.
  • In parallel, the Lord is looking for volunteers to be “angels” sent from God to help those who need you—be willing to be a part of this work.
Ulisses Soares, of the quorum of apostles
  • We need to remain focused on the word of God, but yielding to temptation keeps us from being able to do so.
  • We have to stay on guard against entertaining inappropriate thoughts, because if we give place to them they can eventually lead to sin.
  • Fighting against temptation takes a lifetime of diligence, but Christ is always there to help us in our efforts.
  • When we resist the (often unexpected) little temptations, we increase our resistance to larger temptations.
Lisa L. Harkness, of the general presidency of the primary organization
  • There is a mortal tendency to cry out “Save me!” when faced with difficulty.
  • Jesus’s teachings provide us with a path to peace even in the midst of such difficulties.
  • Faith provides us with patience and the strength to accept God’s will.
  • As we truly hearken to the words of Jesus, fear will decrease and faith will follow.
M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the quorum of apostles
  • It was prophesied that there would be upheaval, and we certainly do live in a time of upheaval right now.
  • All people in every country in the world should pray, no matter how they pray or to whom they pray, for their nation and the leaders of their nation.
  • The Lord’s Prayer makes it clear that it is appropriate to petition God directly.
  • Jesus taught that we should not limit who we pray for—and sincerely praying for those we believe to be our enemies demonstrates our faith that God can change our hearts and the hearts of others.
  • After we pray we need to get up off our knees and take action to improve our lives and the lives of others.
  • The circumstances around us may be chaotic, but through prayer we can know how to improve ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, our nations, our…

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday evening session

Yeah, i’m a man taking notes on the women’s session. So sue me. It’s not like my daughters stay in seclusion over on the other side of the house during the April priesthood sessions, you know?

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • The women of the church have both the numbers and the spiritual power to change the world for the better.
  • Prophecies of our day speak in somber tones—but also of its glories.
  • How do we reconcile these views? Simply: “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”
  • There are several ways that we have been told to prepare, both temporally but even more important spiritually and emotionally.
  • We should make sure our homes are places where we can feel safety; our stakes and temples are also places of security, as is anyplace where you can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost.
  • We need to prepare ourselves to be faithful to God by study and action.
  • Important, though: Never stop preparing.
  • The future may not be easy, but it will be glorious for those who prepare.
Dallin H. Oaks, of the first presidency
  • The promises of the Lord that we will be able to pass through tribulations and come out conqueror are made to each of us, and allow us to experience even our trials with joy.
  • Remember, all tribulations are temporary.
  • “In the midst of hardships, the divine assurance is always ‘Be of good cheer, for i will lead you along…’”
  • Tribulations are there not so that we will fail, but rather so that we will “succeed by overcoming”.
Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • We are called to create a Zion society, and women will be at the forefront of that effort.
  • The women of the church do not hold a “second place” in the plan of God—without the women of the church, the entire plan would fail.
  • To be a Zion people we must have unity, and the women of the church will ultimately earn more than half of the credit for that.
And now we get a movie!
  • Sad piano music, lots of shots of women clearly grieving.
  • The twist! They’re now focusing outward, and rather happier.
  • Interesting trick: They were all wearing pandemic masks in the outdoor shots, but we’re apparently in a post-pandemic world by the end of it.
Cristina B. Franco, of the general presidency of the primary organization
  • We are all in some way broken.
  • Unlike many physical objects, however, we can be completely healed when we come to Jesus.
  • Jesus Christ has the power to turn our mourning into happiness.
Rebecca Craven of the general presidency of the young women organization
  • The savior gives us more than we can ever repay, so what can we do in response? We can change.
  • [There’s an ongoing play on the word change, but it’s very much an English-only—and perhaps even American English-only—bit of wordplay. I do wonder how the various translators have been dealing with this.]
  • The change of repentance doesn’t mean we need to start over, it’s a way that we continue to move forward.
  • We may need to help others as they change, and we should always stand willing to do so.
Sharon Eubank, of the general presidency of the relief society organization
  • We obtain power with God by “union of feeling”.
  • We should be free with our mercy toward others.
  • Unity takes work, and can be uncomfortable, but we will never be alone when we are working toward it.
  • In our diversity, we have power to remove prejudice and build unity.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Round 2! As with the rest of these, the first speaker is at the bottom of the post, and it reads upward from there.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the quorum of apostles
  • The current pandemic is not what we wanted to experience, but it still fits into God’s plan.
  • Even when we feel buried in darkness, the love of God will bring us, like seeds, into something greater and wonderful.
  • The righteous are not given a pass to let them avoid adversity, because it is in our adversity that we learn what we need to know.
  • God is fully aware of and concerned by our struggles.
  • [Indirect airplane references! Followed by much more direct ones.]
  • In times of crisis, we need calm and clearheaded trust.
  • With Christ at the helm, things won’t be just all right, they will be unimaginable.
William K. Jackson, of the quorums of seventy
  • An overfixation on one’s cultural identity and assumptions can blind us to good or even godly changes that would help us grow.
  • The greatest of all cultures, the culture of Christ, comes from the great plan of happiness.
  • Charity—feeling real concern for the temporal and spiritual welfare of others and acting on it—is the bedrock of this culture.
  • [Sorry, y’all, but this guy looks like a cross between Leslie Nielsen and Steve Martin to me, and that’s making it a little hard to pay full attention.]
  • When we join with the culture of Christ, we are to bring everything in our cultures that is good and let the church add to it.
  • [Once again, can we get an explicit mention that “the culture of Christ” doesn’t equate to whatever church members in Utah think is the default? Please?]
Matthew S. Holland, of the quorums of seventy
  • The purpose of repentance is to take exquisite misery and turn it into pure bliss.
  • We do not know how unfathomable our pain will be if we do not repent—but we are offered a complete erasure of that.
  • Not all pain comes from our own sin—it can also come from honest mistakes, or the sins of others.
  • In those cases, counseling and medical intervention and the like can bring relief—but the ultimate relief from this kind of pain also comes from the atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • It is a lie of Satan’s that we would not suffer if only we were better—we will all suffer, it is just a matter of whether we make use of the atonement so that they are a part of what leads us to perfection.
W. Christopher Waddell, of the Presiding Bishopric
  • We are led by prophets who understand the need we have to prepare against the calamities to come, and who also recognize the limits we face as we strive to follow their counsel.
  • The church has provided tools to bishops and branch presidents to help people rebuild their temporal lives.
  • If you are struggling temporally, it would be cruel to ask you to prepare by (for example) building up a year’s supply of food. However, once we are again able, we should make sure we are prepared for future problems we may face, and to do so in wisdom, without overextending ourselves.
  • It was not enough for Joseph to have let the people of Egypt know that times of dearth were coming, they then had to act to prepare.
  • Of all of the steps needed to prepare ourselves temporally, the most important is to begin.
Gerrit W. Gong, of the quorum of apostles
  • [A prerecorded address, because he is quarantining due to a potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.]
  • In the kingdom of God, there are no strangers or “others”.
  • Joseph Smith was told that Heavenly Father desires everyone to experience God’s love.
  • As we live the gospel, we can become a part of the fulfillment of that prophecy.
  • As we live the gospel, we change ourselves in ways that make the world better.
  • Our religious faith leads us to do good in ways that improve not just ourselves, but also our communities.
Steven J. Lund, general president of the young men organization
  • [Shouldn’t make light of it, i know, but i’m starting to think that dying/dead child stories need to be added to our various general conference bingo cards.]
  • Young men and women, by serving, learn to do what Jesus does. And what does Jesus do? Brings to pass our immortality and eternal life.
  • We need to support our youth in the children and youth program so that they can use it to bless others and come closer to God.
D. Todd Christofferson, of the quorum of apostles
  • The United Nations issues goals for sustainable development a few years back. That is important, but more important is building a sustainable society. What would that take?
  • We have scriptural examples of flourishing societies: The City of Enoch, and the first- and second-century Nephites and Lamanites.
  • Those societies were sustained by heaven as they adhered closely to the two great commandments—they were obedient to God, and looked out for others.
  • Even for these societies, sustainability was not guaranteed—when the Nephites and Lamanites turned from a sense of accountability to God, disaster followed.
  • We can all agree that even those who have no belief in God are often good, moral people—but that is itself a manifestation of the influence of God, because it is the Light of Christ that lets us all know the difference between good and evil.
  • When Alma stepped down as chief judge to devote himself to address the sin that was growing (particularly in the church), his strategy was not to make new rules, but to remind the people of the truth of God.
Henry B. Eyring of the first presidency, the presentation of church authorities and officers
  • A handful were released from the general authority-level quorums of seventy, but one was not granted emeritus status—which was a hint that they weren’t done with him. (He was called into the presiding bishopric.)

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

Welcome to another pandemic edition of So You Want to Hear a GA!

Anyway, last time i said that would probably be the last of these i did, but I figure it’s still worth doing in a time when things are decidedly Not Yet Normal again.

So: As with the others of these, I’ve arranged everything “bottom up”, with the first speaker at the bottom, and going later in the session upwards from there. (The comments under each speaker’s name, though, read from the name downward.)

Before getting into it, though, a quick note: I like the socially-distanced setup they’ve got for the First Presidency and Quorum of Apostles. And they’re wearing masks when not speaking! Yay them for modeling good public health behaviors! (You know how you hear sometimes the faith-promoting rumor that God plans who’s going to be president of the church for any given moment? Yeah, a medical doctor just happening to be president of the church through this year makes that seem all the more plausible.)

Dallin H. Oaks, of the first presidency
  • We are in a time of stark political divisions, and these have unfortunately sometimes even spilled over into our church meetings.
  • Jesus taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who do wrong to us—that was a revolutionary teaching, but still applies to us.
  • This requires great self-discipline, but it is central to the two great commandments, and it is doable.
  • Anger is the way toward division and enmity, and so we must work to avoid it.
  • One way to learn to love our adversaries is to simply get to know them at a personal level.
  • We are required to obey the laws—not that we always agree with them, but we still obey them, and if needed work to peacefully change them.
  • [He’s doing an interesting tightrope walk of calling out everybody all at once. Not sure he’s entirely successful—people are more likely to hear the denunciations of those they disagree with than those they agree with—but interesting nonetheless.]
  • There is no appropriate place for racism in our society—and the United States in particular should be better than that.
  • [Did he just offer a passing swipe at judicial originalism? Why yes, yes he did.]
  • Knowing that we are children of God gives us the knowledge that helps us to recognize others as children of God and love them, even those who are our adversaries.
  • [Wow, it’s been a while since i’ve heard a conference address that had as much purely US-centric political content as that one. A long while.]
Ronald A. Rasband, of the quorum of apostles
  • A temple recommend interview gives you the opportunity to search your soul to gauge your faith and practice in the context of a life devoted to Jesus Christ.
  • We need to be worthy to attend the temple, and so should all hold a current temple recommend (including limited use recommends for youth).
  • While temple worship was temporarily suspended during the pandemic, being worthy to attend the temple has not.
  • Bring recommended to the Lord requires us to develop Christlike characteristics.
Quentin L. Cook, of the quorum of apostles
  • Unity is advanced when people are treated with dignity and respect even when they are outwardly different.
  • Remember that our faith teaches that we are all children of the same God.
  • We live in a moment of particularly strong divisions, but those of us who have chosen to join with the church of Jesus Christ are required to move toward unity.
  • Unity and diversity are not opposites—we should have unity that acknowledges and celebrates our diversity.
  • Church units are defined by geography and language, not culture or race—race is not identified on church records.
  • The culture of the gospel of Jesus Christ requires us to leave behind those aspects of our own backgrounds that conflict with it.
  • [Editorial: I don’t mind these sorts of speeches, i just wish that at least once one of them would make explicit the fact—and yes, i said fact—that Wasatch Front Utah culture includes some of those bits of baggage that don’t match with the culture of the gospel, and so need to be discarded.]
Michelle D. Craig, of the general presidency of the young women organization
  • We need to clearly see who God is, and who we really are—because we are sons and daughters of God, with an eternal destiny.
  • Seeing how God sees us prepares us to see others as God sees them.
  • We need to be seen deeply; we should strive to find opportunities to see others deeply.
  • As we recognize others’ true identities and purposes we will discover our own.
Scott D. Whiting, of the quorums of seventy
  • Jesus told us to become even as he is, which may seem unattainable and thus not worth effort—but what if it is actually what we are supposed to do?
  • To best heal ourselves and society, we need to become more like Jesus.
  • The first step in becoming like Christ is not just knowing of the command, but rather to have the desire to fulfill it.
  • Once you make the decision to start along this path, you will need to repent.<.li>
  • As you work to become more like Christ in one attribute, you will necessarily increase in other attributes.
David A. Bednar, of the quorum of apostles
  • Before becoming a general authority, he was a teacher, and so worked to help students learn how to learn.
  • Part of that was giving tests. Students didn’t like tests, but they were necessary.
  • The word test doesn’t appear in the standard works in English, but related words do, such as prove, examine, and try.
  • This year has been marked in part by many tests.
  • The scriptures tell us, though, that if we prepare for the tests of mortality, we will come out okay.
  • Remember that just because the general authorities haven’t talked about specifics like food storage and such lately doesn’t mean we have no need to be prepared, either spiritually or temporally.
  • We should make use of what we’ve learned through the testing of this past year to take stock of what preparation we need.
  • We need to make choices—not making a choice means that your choices will be made for you.
Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • The world is in turmoil, but the work of the Lord moves forward.
  • We’ve had to learn to do some things differently, and in some cases that means more effectively.
  • The church has provided pandemic aid in 150 countries.
  • We should be using “this unique time” to spiritually grow.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday afternoon session

So we’ve gotten to the final session. Since anyone coming to this after it goes up will see this first, a note about the way these are set up:

The speakers are listed in reverse chronological order, so to get the full conference in chronological order you can scroll down to the end of the entry for the first session, and then read upwards. (Under each speaker, though, my notes are listed downward, because i tried it once the other way and it was painful.)

Anyway, so now is when you scroll down and begin reading…

My closing thoughts
  • So the church will at some point in the relatively near future have two temples in countries where we’re not allowed to actively do missionary work. That’s interesting.
  • For all that went on, this felt like a pretty subdued conference. Or maybe that’s because i’ve been under a coronavirus stay-at-home order and my sense of normal is completely messed up. So either way.
  • And my favorite address of the conference? Jean B. Bingham’s address from Saturday evening, not least because she called out certain culturally gendered practices as wrong, not as a “the way the world does it is wrong and we do it right” but rather as a critique of our own selves.
Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • A lot has happened at this conference, but the one that should remain foremost in your memory is the two-word sequence “Hear him.”
  • Even when the temples are closed you can draw on their power by fulfilling your covenants and living a temple-worthy life or becoming temple-worthy.
  • New temples: Bahía Blanca, Argentina; Tallahassee, Florida; Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Benin City, Nigeria; Syracuse, Utah; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.
  • And closing with an apostolic blessing.
D. Todd Christofferson, of the quorum of apostles
  • There have been great sacrifices made to allow missionary work to go forward, not in self-interest, but as a manifestation of selfless love.
  • We need to use the Book of Mormon in preaching the gospel.
  • If someone isn’t interested in learning more about the gospel, remember that our love for that person remains constant.
L. Whitney Clayton, of the presidency of the quorums of seventy
  • We need to make sure our homes are in order, centered on the gospel.
  • The scriptures have stories of families, and so give us insight into how to build a better family.
  • Faithful living leads to a better life.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the quorum of apostles
  • We speak and preach of Christ—but devotion to Christ requires more than that, it requires discipleship.
  • We need to actively participate, but doing so requires (lifelong) practice.
  • As members of the church, we are to do things such as immersing ourselves in the words of the prophets and praying to learn to recognize the way the Spirit works.
  • To those not of our faith: In our church you will find people who have what you need, and who themselves need you and what you have.
  • Prayers don’t need to be flowery or grammatically correct or anything like that to reach heaven.
  • Jesus Christ died so that our mistakes wouldn’t stop us from progressing.
  • This bicentennial of the First Vision isn’t just a historical commemoration—the restoration is an ongoing event in which we all play a part.
  • To play our full part in the restoration, join with us, and come and belong.
Ricardo P. Giménez, of the quorums of seventy
  • There are times in our lives that are relatively smooth, but we will face challenges that will press us to our limits.
  • When faced with these issues, we often feel fear—but faith is the counter to that fear.
  • When we face challenges, we may have questions to which we don’t have any answers—but we can take comfort knowing that if we endure if well and believe in the things Jesus Christ has asked us to do, we will come out of it well.
  • When the focus of our lives is on the plan of salvation, we can be joyful in all circumstances, even in great trials.
  • Those who put their faith in God will be supported through their trials, and will ultimately be blessed with the strength we need.
Quentin L. Cook, of the quorum of apostles
  • The proclamation given earlier today makes it clear that the church owes its history and future to continuing revelation.
  • Continuous revelation has been received and will continue to be received through the channels that God has instituted.
  • For those who have left the church, we wish for you to come back so that we can welcome you and worship together again.
  • Personal revelation is as important as prophetic revelation.
  • To receive revelation, pray (seek and ask), prepare (be in harmony with the Lord’s teachings), and take the sacrament worthily.
  • Divine guidance often comes to us when we are working to bless others.
Dallin H. Oaks, of the first presidency
  • The atonement of Jesus Christ is designed to promote our eternal growth.
  • To become what we are destined to become requires both that we reject opposition to good when given the choice, and that we are subject to some opposition we have no choice in.
  • The Savior, through the atonement, “revokes the finality of death”.
  • Our progress need not conclude with the end of mortality (though we haven’t been told much about what happens in the next life).

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

Sunday morning, the extra-special holy session! (Or at least that’s the assumption i always had growing up.)

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • There has been much tribulation recently; the darkness of tribulation makes the light of Jesus Christ all the brighter.
  • “We have front row seats to see live what the prophet Nephi saw only in vision”—that the people of God would receive the power of God in glory.
  • Messages from God are simple, quiet, and easy to understand, in contrast to messages from the adversary, which tend to be loud, brash, and boastful.
  • God our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, the thing that will help us most is to hear God the Son.
  • The pattern for success, happiness, and joy in this life is built into the command: “Hear him.”
  • We must be intentional in seeking out and hearing the word of God, whether from the scriptures, or in the temple, or heeding the words of the prophets.
  • When the current restrictions are lifted, schedule regular times to serve in the temple—but in the meantime, increase your time spent in family history work.
  • Transition into a new proclamation (the sixth in the history of the church): “The Restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World”.
  • And then a transition into the Hosanna Shout.
David A. Bednar, of the quorum of apostles
  • The sealing authority as restored through Elijah is necessary as part of the “rescue of this generation” (as Joseph Smith phrased it).
  • The essence of the Lord’s work is changing and purifying hearts through ordinances, particularly temple ordinances.
  • The ordinances of the temple allow the power of God to enter our lives.
  • We do not go to the temple to escape the evils of the world, but rather to attain power to overcome the evils of the world.
  • Over the next few years, the number of languages in which temple ordinances are available will likely double (from 88) as more and more temples are built.<.li>
  • Brigham Young said that the work requires not just one temple, but thousands of temples.
  • The work of the temples will one day destroy evil and bring about the salvation of the human family.
Jeffrey R. Holland, of the quorum of apostles
  • God is a loving parent, not a harsh taskmaster or an absentee landlord.
  • Two centuries ago doubt about the reality of the atonement and resurrection was beginning to take hold in Christendom, but the additional scripture that came with the restoration affirmed that Jesus really is the Christ.
  • In our Father’s house are many mansions, but they would be nothing more than tumbledown shacks if we could not share them with our families.
  • We can look back and see hopes that were fulfilled through the restoration—but what about looking forward? What hopes remain to be fulfilled?
  • We are working now to eliminate the effects of the coronavirus, and we will ultimately succeed—and after that, we should work to eliminate the scourges of hunger and poverty, and we should work to ensure that children attend schools without fear of violence, and that there is personal dignity for all children of God unmarred by prejudice.
  • We all need to believe that what we hope for in righteousness will someday be our reality.
  • “If we finally lose hope, we lose our last sustaining possession.”
  • Quoting someone else: “We did not come this far, only to come this far.”
Bonnie H. Cordon, general president of the young women organization
  • By virtue of the restoration, we can be filled with the light of the gospel—but that light isn’t supposed to be for us alone, but must be shared.
  • [Great story about her as a child leading L. Tom Perry along a dark path, but not realizing that he needed to see the light from her flashlight on the path to walk safely.]
  • Just as Jesus doe with the Samaritan woman at the well, we can begin with something familiar to those we interact with, and then move onward to sharing our light with them.
  • We can and should intentionally share our light as the Holy Spirit helps us.
Ronald A. Rasband, of the quorum of apostles
  • The church is a living example of the restitution inherent in the fulness of times.
  • Many prophets spoke of our day and looked forward to it.
  • We are the people tasked with ushering in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
  • “Regardless of how we look or dress, we are one people…”
  • Temple Square serves not just as a draw for members of the church to do temple work, but also as a draw for people visiting from around the world.
  • The restoration as prophesied by prophets ancient and modern continues today.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday evening session

Time for the extra-special bonus session, this time for everyone! (I mean, everyone was watching them at home together anyway, might as well make it official, right?)

Russell M. Nelson, president of the high priesthood
  • This church does a lot of temporal good, but its primary purpose is to bring the children of God to eternal life.
  • Thanks for progress on using the name of the church rather than nicknames that don’t focus on Jesus Christ.
  • Announced: New logotype and logo for the church.
  • Let us not just talk of Christ, or use a logo of Christ, but rather show faith in Christ.
  • God has all power, wisdom, and understanding—and so in times like the present, it is only natural that we call on the power of God.
  • Asking for another fast for all whose health permits on Good Friday, to the effect that the pandemic will be controlled, caregivers protected, and the economy strengthened.
  • What counts as a fast? Tradition is two meals, but ultimately it’s whatever constitutes a sacrifice for you.
Dallin H. Oaks, of the first presidency
  • The priesthood is a divine power and authority held in trust to be used for the benefit of God’s children—it is not those who hold the priesthood.
  • The power of the priesthood exists both in the church and in the family organization, though they function differently in each sphere.
  • In the church, all ordinances are performed under the auspices of the leader who holds the keys to those ordinances.
  • Though women don’t hold offices in the priesthood, they perform ordinances in the temple under the auspices of the one who holds keys for them (i.e., the temple president).
  • Within the family, however, there is no need to have the direction or approval of one who holds keys to perform priesthood functions.
  • A woman who presides in the home is not authorized to perform ordinances that require holding a particular office, but she can still exercise priesthood authority in all the ways a man presiding in the home would.
  • It is better to be filled with light than with darkness; if we focus on the things of eternity rather than seeking for evil, we will be filled with light—our light or darkness depends on how we see/receive the truths of eternity.
Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • This conference should be unforgettable—but whether it will actually be unforgettable will depend on each of us individually.
  • God knows all of us, and teaches us without forcing us.
  • The visions described in Doctrine & Covenants 110 are an example of the way God teaches us, when viewed in the context of the years leading up to them—God had a detailed step by step plan.
  • Whenever we find an inspired solution to a problem, we open the door to greater solutions for other problems.
Jean B. Bingham, general president of the relief society
  • Adam and Eve learned through the Fall that it was necessary to act in unity.
  • Adam and Eve understood the interdependency of the roles of women and men, but that was lost over time—but the restoration brought back understanding.
  • Women are just as able to receive revelation as men are, and have access to priesthood power just as men do.
  • Men and women are to work together, and not to compete for primacy.
  • [Then a brief video of Russell M. Nelson talking about the key roles of women in the very early church.]
  • Men and women need to work together in the priesthood in their different but complementary roles.
  • We are surrounded by “me first” messages, but we need to resist their pull.
  • We need to resist cultural biases and embrace divine patterns—men shouldn’t be “pretend partners” [her words!], women shouldn’t feel like they need to do everything in a relationship.
Enzo S. Petelo, of his local priests quorum
  • To serve as Joseph Smith did, we must qualify to be worthy of priesthood power.
  • By exercising the priesthood worthily, we become fellow-laborers with all of the priesthood holders throughout history and the present day.
  • Being worthy to use the priesthood requires us to be more careful and less casual in what we do.
Laudy R. Caouk, of her local ward’s young women organization
  • Priesthood blessings can help us overcome challenges and feel peace.
  • Through the priesthood, we have the opportunity to receive blessings of comfort, patriarchal blessings, the blessings of the temple…
  • The priesthood is necessary for the work of God to proceed, and thus for the world itself to work as it should.
Gerrit W. Gong, or the quorum of apostles
  • Anniversaries like this 120th anniversary year of the first vision, or the upcoming celebration of Easter, are opportunities to focus on events of great worth.
  • Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, which commemorates significant events, as does the following week leading up to Easter.
  • In fulfillment of prophecy, on Easter (and the onset of Passover) 1836, Jesus Christ, Elijah, and others came to entrust the keys of this dispensation to the restored church.
  • The Passover commemorates the release of the people of Israel from bondage and the safety provided by the blood of the lamb.
  • This general conference, we celebrate restoration and revelation.
  • In a very real way, we are all beginners in our gospel journey, progressing into the gospel adventure that God has prepared for us.

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday afternoon session

Next session, same ordering as all the rest of these.

Gary E. Stevenson, of the quorum of apostles
  • Brigham Young prophesied great things about temples, including that they would one day number in the hundreds.
  • The Salt Lake temple is undergoing a seismic renovation and restoration of its foundation right now—and, in a different sense, we should renovate and restore our spiritual foundations ourselves.
  • To evaluate our foundation, consider the first few questions of the temple recommend interview.
  • Having faith doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen, but rather that there will be light again eventually, and that light will be greater for having walked through the dark.
  • Brigham Young wanted the Salt Lake temple built in a manner that it would last through the Millennium; similarly, may our spiritual foundations be built such that we and our families will last through the Millennium.
Benjamin M. Z. Tai, of the quorums of seventy
  • Each of us can study the Book of Mormon according to our own circumstances.
  • As we strive to know the truth of the Book of Mormon, we will be given a knowledge of its truth as we need it, in the way we need it.
  • “Conversion requires us to be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
  • As we act, we will overcome fear and will be given all things that we should do.
Dale G. Renlund, of the quorum of apostles
  • Good things can come from bad things [demonstrated through a painfully sad story].
  • All of us receive gifts we cannot provide for ourselves, and it is our job to use them properly.
  • All of us can be profoundly transformed—God has promised us a new heart, if we will but take it.
  • Jesus Christ stands waiting with open arms to heal and purify all of us.
  • Salvation and exaltation comes at a great cost, but we can (should, even) be “reverently joyful” for it.
  • God isn’t insulted when we forget, but rather is deeply disappointed.
  • “The Savior loves to restore what you cannot restore.”
Gérald Caussé, presiding bishop
  • The Book of Mormon exists to affirm the reality and meaning of what Jesus Christ has done for the world.
  • From the Book of Mormon, we can understand more of the atonement.
  • Taking hold of the atonement is a real experience, and demonstrates that lives can be changed through Jesus.
  • As we pattern our lives after Jesus, we will become more like him until we ultimately reach perfection “in that perfect day”.
John A. McCune, of the quorums of seventy
  • As followers of Christ we are not spared trials and may be asked to do things that seem overwhelming, but we can feel Christ’s love and support when we do what we should.
  • There may be times when the only thing we can rely on is Jesus Christ, and it is a blessing to be able to have that.
  • When trials lead people to question truth, it is our responsibility to love them and help them come unto or return to Christ.
Ulisses Soares, of the quorum of apostles
  • The coming forth of the Book of Mormon began long before Joseph Smith received the plates.
  • Prophets had foretold the Book of Mormon.
  • Joseph Smith's marriage to Emma Hale, in fact, was part of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. [Intriguing thought, that one is.]<.li>
  • In a wide sense the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, and it can become the keystone of our faith at an individual level.
  • Each of us can be a part of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in our own lives.
Kevin R. Jergensen, of the church auditing department
  • [Why do we even do this?]
Dallin H. Oaks, of the quorum of apostles, sustaining of church officers
  • [Seen online: Gonna get real awkward if someone shouts “Opposed!” this time.😂]

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Saturday morning session

So this is probably the last one of these i post here. It’s nice having my conference notes in an easy place to find, but it’s kind of a bother (and a little distracting during the conference, honestly) to take notes in this sort of restrictive format.

However, i’m still committed to doing this for this round, so as with the others of these, it’s arranged “bottom up”, with the first speaker at the bottom, and going later in the session upwards from there. (The comments under each speaker’s name, though, read from the name downward. It’s confusing at first, but it works.)

Before getting to that, though, i do want to say how happy i am that the leaders of the church are modeling “social distancing”—there are a number of religious leaders in this country who apparently think that being religious exempts us from common sense during a pandemic.

Henry B. Eyring, of the first presidency
  • As we prepared for this conference, we had the opportunity to become more optimistic and ready to move the work forward.
  • What we will do in the coming days is not yet known, but we do know some things.
  • The gospel will be offered to all people on earth, and we have the opportunity to join together in unity and then be a part of spreading that unity.
  • We need to practice the pattern of faith and drawing near to God through constant prayer.
  • Consider Joseph Smith’s response when Satan attacked him in the sacred grove—it was to call on God with all his energy, which is what we should do when the “enemy of the restoration” [his phrasing!] tries to convince us not to pray and not to do our part.
  • As we pray in faith, we become a vital part of God’s work.
Douglas D. Holmes, of the general presidency of the young men organization
  • Our relationships are one of the primary purposes that we gather in groups in faith, and they are the basis of effective ministering.
  • Helping others understand their true identity and purpose, and as God does, is one of the greatest gifts we have.
  • As we plan church gatherings, remember that we need to plan them to achieve unity in Christ.
  • [Interesting to be taught about church gatherings…at a time when we can’t have any church gatherings.]
  • In the youth programs the church formerly had, there were about 500 different requirements to achieve recognition, but now there is effectively one—come unto Christ.
  • The youth in the church today are important to the church, and have the capacity to change the world in great ways.
Neil L. Anderson, of the quorum of apostles
  • From time to time, God very powerfully and personally affirms love for us, and directs us—and then at later times the Spirit brings those experiences back to our minds.
  • God’s workings in our lives can be very attuned to our specific needs and times, giving us spiritual memories we can continually return to [along with several examples from his own and others’ experiences].
  • Sometimes God speaks so loudly and clearly to us that we might not realize it.
  • Angels have not ceased to minister to us, because they minister at the command and will of God.
Joy D. Jones, general president of the primary organization
  • Topic: Women’s continuing roles in the restoration.
  • It is time for women to step forward and use the influence they are entitled to have.
  • [And now to a pre-recorded clip of Sesame Street children asking Russell M. Nelson questions!]
  • Our journey in life takes effort and hard work, but brings eternal rewards.
  • There are many things to do, too many to do them all, so the Spirit helps us determine what we should do.
  • Everyone who keeps their covenants has access to the power of God, and to priesthood power.
James R. Rasband, of the quorums of seventy
  • The atonement satisfies the “demands of justice”—but what are the demands of justice?
  • There will be a “righteous judgment” through the atonement—which means that sins made in ignorance, or in the absence of agency, will not be held against us.
  • Where knowledge is given, however, we will be held accountable—but this is also glad tidings, because healing through repentance is possible.
  • We all make mistakes, and those mistakes sometimes affect others negatively even to the point of leading them into sin, but if they simply look to God and take advantage of the atonement, they will be healed, which is part of our own healing when we are the ones who caused the initial problem.
M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of Apostles
  • Starting out with a history of the circumstances surrounding Joseph Smith, Jr’s growing up, and the family’s move to western New York.
  • The Smiths were able to successfully start over when they moved because they were united as a family.
  • [Interesting, this is kind of a “harmony” of the four primary-source accounts of the first vision.]
  • Hyrum Smith [who, by the way, is one of M. Russell Ballard’s ancestors] was his brother Joseph’s faithful support, even to their deaths.
  • We should always keep in mind the price paid by Joseph and Hyrum Smith and so many others to bring us the truths we enjoy now.
Russell M. Nelson, President of the High Priesthood
  • We’re currently facing trials due to a pandemic, but there are other trials of other sorts we may face—but God has said that if we are prepared we shall not fear.
  • In the first vision, when God the Father pointed to Jesus Christ and said “Hear him”, that was ultimately a command to all of us.
  • There will be a worldwide solemn assembly in conjunction with this general conference on Sunday.