TiVoing General Conference

October 5, 2004 | 13 comments
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Hello friends,

Does anyone else TiVo General Conference, and if so, how much of it do you watch and which parts do you skip? I ask because I just enjoyed the sybaritic pleasure of watching GC from home in my yoga duds, and I must say there’s no comparison between that experience and having to watch it in church. I’ve been pondering the difference and thinking about why I enjoy GC so much more now than I used to, and why I actually watch more of it now. I used to skip it altogether and wait for the conference issue of the Ensign, which I would flip through sporadically if at all. But now that I have the remote in hand, I find that I look forward to Conference and get more out of the experience.

Media studies scholars have written about whether and how the medium changes the message. In other words, is Conference a more spiritually uplifting experience for me because I’m watching it at home alone? In some ways, yes: I don’t feel guilty about fast-forwarding through talks that I find to be less helpful. And I can participate in the service in ways that my well-behaved Mormon peers never do, recalling the evangelical fervor of my college days. I actually shouted “AMEN!� to one of President Hinckley’s comments about the need for Mormon men to show women the respect that the Savior did. I don’t typically cry out in sacrament meeting, having assimilated to Mormon culture enough to gravitate toward the quiet witness of the Spirit. Shouting in agreement with the prophet was a beautiful moment of unguarded joy.

On the other hand, there’s something inherently lonely about this TiVo experience, which enables me to pick and choose only the Mormonism that fits my palate. Cafeteria conference. It’s lonely in a Roger Williams-y kind of way; I’m reminded of the pitiful example of Williams cutting himself off from the body of Christ in his later years, ultimately taking Communion only with his wife because he felt polluted by the stains of others. What prideful nonsense. No, I’m my best self when I’m trying to work out my salvation in community, alongside people who disagree with me at nearly every turn.

Some Buddhists I know who work in a meditation community compare their spiritual growth to the potatoes they have to cook for dinner. Since they’re cooking on a deadline for the hungry vegan masses, they throw all of the potatoes together to boil without washing them first. They’ve found that when the potatoes bump up against one another during cooking, they clean each other in the process. In other words, the potatoes need each other to become washed and whole.

We Mormons are much the same. So maybe I should think about going back to church for at least one of the sessions of Conference.

Hmmmm. I would do this, but the recliner chair is so very comfy, and besides, no one else is going to be there. They’re all home in their own recliners, watching Conference. And so we bowl alone.

And now a word on our Slayer . . . .

It’s cool to see so many Buffy fans in this group. I don’t know why I’m surprised to meet Buffy fans everywhere, but I always am. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a publisher in Minneapolis, and after the secretary buzzed me in she said, “By the way, I’m really loving your book.� There are a shocking number of Buffy and Angel diehards in publishing.

Someone asked what I thought about the series finale of Angel. Of course I wish that they had had two hours to really wrap things up, and I wish they’d given Spike more to do, and I wish that Fred hadn’t been possessed by that evil primordial chick, and I wish that Wesley hadn’t bit it . . . but in all I was pleased. The gang went out as champions, fighting the good fight. What did you all think?

Jana

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13 Responses to TiVoing General Conference

  1. Kaimi on October 5, 2004 at 10:24 am

    Re Buffy: One of my favorite church moments was when a person bore his testimony of Seventh Heaven on the WB, and then made some remarks about how terrible it was that such as uplifting show (Seventh Heaven) was followed by that awful “Vampy the Vampire Killer.” My wife and I were laughing about that for the rest of the day. It was such a perfect Mormon-Buffy moment. (Especially since there are a couple of LDS actors on the show!)

    Re Roger Williams, nice image. For some reason, an alternate reading struck me as soon as I read it, and now I’m wondering how many people read “It’s lonely in a Roger Williams-y kind of way” and think “well, I guess it is a small school, and there really aren’t that many people in Rhode Island, so yeah, I guess Roger Williams might be a lonely experience for some people . . . “

  2. Yeechang Lee on October 5, 2004 at 10:53 am

    Thanks to Comcast, which just added BYU TV to its SF Bay-area channel lineup, I was able to watch Conference from the comfort of TiVo this time around.

    I skip most of the music, and occasionally a portion of what sounds like a less-than-scintillating talk, but otherwise let the sessions all play out in real time (not live, of course). I use the remote much more infrequently than normal because there are no commercial breaks to zap.

  3. Bryce I on October 5, 2004 at 11:04 am

    I don’t have TiVo, but I used to tape conference back when I had cable service and could receive general conference broadcasts at home. I liked the ability to watch when I wasn’t tired and didn’t have to deal with kids. Of course, VHS isn’t quite as nice as TiVo, so I tended to watch straight through (or a couple of talks at a time, at least).

    As for sharing the conference experience with others, we almost always watch with friends. It’s still pretty informal, but there’s a sense of community. And there are the priesthood and women’s broadcasts (are the women’s broadcasts available over satellite/cable?) to give you your fellowshipping fix.

    As for going to church to listen to conference — ugh! At least with my kids, it just wouldn’t work. I grew up in New York, and never realized that general sessions of conference began on Saturday because my parents never took us to the church to listen to (not watch) the sessions over staticy sideband radio.

    And now a suggestion for Jana. You might consider making multiple posts when you have thoughts on wildly different subjects. I’m not quite sure how to talk about conference in the context of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Or is there some subtext I’m missing? :)

  4. Nathan Tolman on October 5, 2004 at 11:31 am

    I have a DVR and It really enhanced my confrence experence. When my one-and-a-half-year-old son started to want our attention, we could pause it and take up once he was satisfied. I also recorded it for future viewing.

  5. Kevin Barney on October 5, 2004 at 2:10 pm

    I’m a barbarian without TiVo, but it scarcely matters, as our cable in the Chicago area stopped showing conference at all some years ago. I listened to the first session over the internet while I multitasked, working on a book I am writing. But that was it; once I learned who the new apostles were, I lost my motivation, and went back to the old browse the Ensign when it comes mode.

    I’ve just never been a big fan of conference, even when I was an undergrad at BYU and the rotation of the earth came to a halt for those two days twice a year. I know it is scandalous to say it, but I find it somnolent. The only time I really liked it was on my mission, because it was an excuse to actually sit in comfort for two days together. (I hope my less than eager views on conference don’t cause anyone to lose his or her testimony!)

  6. Clark Goble on October 5, 2004 at 2:35 pm

    I have a Dish and taped all sesssions, but confess I’ve not watched the ones I missed yet. All truth be told I prefer reading conference from the church’s web site than watching it. Occasionally there will be one I’d not want to miss watching. (i.e. the difference between watching Elder McConkie’s final talk and merely reading it) But I do find that talks and speeches don’t really do it for me.

  7. Kristine on October 5, 2004 at 2:39 pm

    Clark, what are you doing here?! Aren’t you supposed to be timing contractions? (Please, PLEASE don’t say you have a laptop in the delivery room :) )

  8. Kingsley on October 5, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    Is it bad to choose the 3 or 4 speakers who consistently seem to speak to you, and give them all your attention, and then go back to Book TV?

  9. Adam Greenwood on October 5, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    In a word, yes.

  10. Jim F. on October 5, 2004 at 6:58 pm

    Kingsley, if I choose three or four speakers who I see as speaking to me, I’m likely not to choose those who might jar my sensibilities. But if prophets don’t jar my sensibilities, there are only two possibilities: my sensibilities don’t need jarring or I’m not sensible. The first of these is unlikely. I may need those who don’t “speak to me” more than those who do.

  11. Alaska on October 5, 2004 at 11:43 pm

    I actually managed to *forget* that it was conference weekend. My husband took our eight-year-old out for a morning of Them time (Dear-heart is not a member and travels often for work. If he wants the morning with his firstborn, he gets it.) and I dressed the twins and headed off to Sacrament meeting.

    As you can imagine, my brain stumbled upon seeing the empty parking lot. I soon realized what had happened and took the boys inside to kill a half-hour before the broadcast would begin. Being not-quite-three, the boys were thrilled to be permitted to hoard chalk in the primary room and play with the light switches.

    ON OFF ON OFF ON OFF ON OFF . . . .

    Fearing an epileptic seizure, I ushered the boys back to the other end of the building to find a seat. On the way they practiced their gross motor skills by traveling most of the hall in two-footed jumps. This is accompanied by a giggling narrative that goes like this: “Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!” etc.

    As I staked out an end pew where I had a *prayer of trapping them in, I passed an elderly gentlemen just getting out his needlework.

    I flashed back to the knitting sitting unattended at home . . .

    Faster than you can say, “Have a nice day!” We were back home. The twin minions of chaos were happily fisher-pricing it and I got to LISTEN to the WHOLE Sunday conference! (I got a lot of knitting done, too, but a minion pulled the needle out of the project today and that progress is all undone.) I even watched all the goofy shows in between.

    It was marvelous.

  12. Aaron Brown on October 6, 2004 at 4:16 am

    Connoisseurs of all things Bloggernaclish might recall the running commentary at BCC during conference from 6 months ago. I personally found that nothing beats TiVo, in conjunction with real-time blogging. With a group of friends, I was able to sleep in late, watch conference about one hour behind the rest of you, periodically check my blog for Steve E.’s trenchant commentary, and then wow my friends with impressive psychic predictions of each speaker’s upcoming lines. Pretty cool.

    Alas, I wasn’t able to watch conference this time around (I was on the road). Other than the new apostolic callings, anyone care to share the highlights?

    Aaron B

  13. Kaimi on October 6, 2004 at 8:52 am

    Aaron,

    The highlights — let’s see. Umm, women get the priesthood. Reinstitution of blood atonement. Hmm, am I missing anything? Oh yeah — polygamy reinstituted as well.

    All in all, just another run-of-the-mill conference.

TiVoing General Conference

October 5, 2004 | no comments
By

Does anyone else TiVo General Conference, and if so, how much of it do you watch and which parts do you skip? I ask because I just enjoyed the sybaritic pleasure of watching GC from home in my yoga duds, and I must say there’s no comparison between that experience and having to watch it in church. I’ve been pondering the difference and thinking about why I enjoy GC so much more now than I used to, and why I actually watch more of it now. I used to skip it altogether and wait for the conference issue of the Ensign, which I would flip through sporadically if at all. But now that I have the remote in hand, I find that I look forward to Conference and get more out of the experience.

Media studies scholars have written about whether and how the medium changes the message. In other words, is Conference a more spiritually uplifting experience for me because I’m watching it at home alone? In some ways, yes: I don’t feel guilty about fast-forwarding through talks that I find to be less helpful. And I can participate in the service in ways that my well-behaved Mormon peers never do, recalling the evangelical fervor of my college days. I actually shouted “AMEN!� to one of President Hinckley’s comments about the need for Mormon men to show women the respect that the Savior did. I don’t typically cry out in sacrament meeting, having assimilated to Mormon culture enough to gravitate toward the quiet witness of the Spirit. Shouting in agreement with the prophet was a beautiful moment of unguarded joy.

On the other hand, there’s something inherently lonely about this TiVo experience, which enables me to pick and choose only the Mormonism that fits my palate. Cafeteria conference. It’s lonely in a Roger Williams-y kind of way; I’m reminded of the pitiful example of Williams cutting himself off from the body of Christ in his later years, ultimately taking Communion only with his wife because he felt polluted by the stains of others. What prideful nonsense. No, I’m my best self when I’m trying to work out my salvation in community, alongside people who disagree with me at nearly every turn.

Some Buddhists I know who work in a meditation community compare their spiritual growth to the potatoes they have to cook for dinner. Since they’re cooking on a deadline for the hungry vegan masses, they throw all of the potatoes together to boil without washing them first. They’ve found that when the potatoes bump up against one another during cooking, they clean each other in the process. In other words, the potatoes need each other to become washed and whole.

We Mormons are much the same. So maybe I should think about going back to church for at least one of the sessions of Conference.

Hmmmm. I would do this, but the recliner chair is so very comfy, and besides, no one else is going to be there. They’re all home in their own recliners, watching Conference. And so we bowl alone.

And now a word on our Slayer

It’s cool to see so many Buffy fans in this group. I don’t know why I’m so surprised to meet Buffy fans everywhere, but I always am. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a publisher in Minneapolis, and after the secretary buzzed me in she said, “By the way, I’m really loving your book.� There are a shocking number of Buffy and Angel diehards in publishing.

Someone asked what I thought about the series finale of Angel. Of course I wish that they had had two hours to really wrap things up, and I wish they’d given Spike more to do, and I wish that Fred hadn’t been possessed by that evil primordial chick, and I wish that Wesley hadn’t bit it . . . but in all I was pleased. The gang went out as champions, fighting the good fight. What did you all think?

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