Regional Conference with President Packer

October 26, 2004 | 6 comments

Regional conference last Sunday was a broadcast from Salt Lake City. We and all the other stakes in Oregon had our own opening prayer, song, speaker, and announcements. Then the Packers and the Tingeys and Brother McAllister addressed us on the big screen.

Brother Packer talked a little about the growth of the Church and this new program of broadcast regional conferences the Church is doing. The first one went on in Venezuela two months ago, he said. He then reviewed the history of prophets and apostles visiting the stakes, from the quarterly visits of yore to the every-other-year visits of yesterday to today’s new program. He got into detail. And then he was done.

It was a boring topic and I loved it. Any of us can talk for hours about our own sicknesses and accomplishments and mundane little lives. Hooboy, can we ever. Hold your calls. And any of us listening will be bored. I certainly am. But sometimes you’ll meet someone who rattles on about a third party, and then your interest comes alive a little. Not that the subject matter has changed, but that someone loving another as much as himself adds novelty to the proceedings. The more President Packer went on about the details of these procedural changes, the more apparent it became that he thought they were interesting because he thought everything about the Church was interesting. I tell you, it was gripping (and moving) to watch.

I feel the same way about President Packer’s art as I do about his talk. I know some people dislike seeing his paintings and his . . . sculptures, I guess, if that’s the right word for those 3-D scenes he does with what look like stuffed birds and sculpted logs and what not. People think he’s not getting recognition solely on the merits. They think that he’s the racially-diverse-athlete-whose-alumnus-father-donates-millions applying for admission at Church Art U. I am willing to concede that it’s so. Even I can tell that his landscapes are all right but not great, and I have no idea what to make of the sculptures.

But I think that message isn’t that his art is intrinsically good, any more than his talk meant to communicate how important and gripping Church procedural changes were. No. The message is his example: one of the brothers, one of the brethren, loves art and loves creating it. The message is that ours is not a religion that exclusively glorifies Great Art and Great Artists who are gods among men. Ours is a religion that tries to glorify mortal men into becoming gods aborning. Try your hand, brother.

6 Responses to Regional Conference with President Packer

  1. William Morris on October 26, 2004 at 2:56 pm


    Although that doesn’t mean that there is no value in great art and great artists. Of course, the whole idea of ‘great art’ and especially of ‘great artists’ is a modernist trope, a shackle to be loosened if not entirely thrown off.

  2. Adam Greenwood on October 26, 2004 at 3:03 pm

    “Although that doesn’t mean that there is no value in great art and great artists.” To be sure. If there is no greatness to be achieved by us (and to be recognized in others) there’s little point in us trying to do art. But we are to be doers of beautiful things, not viewers only, just as we worship God but also aspire to his status.

  3. Rosalynde Welch on October 26, 2004 at 3:12 pm

    “Then the Packers and the Tingeys and Brother McAllister addressed us on the big screen.”

    Did Sister Packer really speak? I don’t think I’ve ever heard the wife of an apostle speak, with the exception of Patricia Holland (and Sister Hinckley, but she didn’t speak until she was the wife of the prophet.) The apostleship seems to be a much less couple-oriented calling than, say, mission president or temple president.

  4. Joe on October 26, 2004 at 9:38 pm

    It was not regional conference it was stake conference as that is the new standard for stake conferences!

  5. Bryce I on October 26, 2004 at 9:44 pm

    Adam, I recall having a similar reaction when I heard Elder Perry gush in General Conference over the then new family history software that was being released. At the time I was under the impression that someone had assigned him the topic, and he was going a bit overboard in trying to sell it. I realized later that he had probably chosen the topic himself, and really was that excited. It made me excited too (although I have to admit I’ve never used it myself).

  6. Adam Greenwood on October 27, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    Yes, she spoke, and she was pretty much a rock star. I usually like it when wives speak (one likes to see the whole person, not just the husband half) but they’re usually just OK. Sister Packer, on the other hand, was taking names.

    That’s an apt metaphor, by the way. She came across as a nice, grandmotherly, capable woman that you wouldn’t want to push to far.


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