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.