An Open Thread on General Conference

April 2, 2005 | 127 comments
By

This is the place, as it were, for comments on conference. I’m going to stop typing and listen.

127 Responses to An Open Thread on General Conference

  1. Guy W. Murray on April 2, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    Well done Pres. Hinckley in mentioning Pope John Paul II, and his accomplishments in your opening remarks.

  2. Seth Rogers on April 2, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    I found it interesting how Boyd K. Packer described his early experiences with the Book of Mormon.

    Essentially, he said he didn’t receive any special visions or anything, but “it felt good.” From that positive, but small basis, he grew in testimony. Today, he seems to epitomize a rock-solid and unshakeable testimony.

    Sometimes, I think we over-complicate this testimony thing and agonize over the logical and intellectual conflicts in our theology.

    Maybe it’s much more simple and intuitive:

    “Does it make me happy?”

  3. Steve Evans on April 2, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    There’s a Saturday conference???

  4. danithew on April 2, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    I also appreciated the fact that President Hinckley expressed sympathy for Catholics and the Pope. He was very gracious and appropriate in doing so.

  5. Jim Richins on April 2, 2005 at 1:53 pm

    God Bless Elder Nelson.

    Best Conference talk in a long, long time.

  6. Seth Rogers on April 2, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    Yes Steve, there is a Saturday session.

    I was made painfully aware of this by my father who required all of his kids to watch at least one session Saturday and one on Sunday.

    He did sweeten the deal a bit however by paying us a dollar for each Conference talk we took notes on. I made $30 one conference …

  7. Seth Rogers on April 2, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    I found Elder Nelson’s closing remarks especially interesting in light of the recent news regarding Terry Schiavo.

    He said:

    “Death is not premature for those who are prepared to meet God … The sting of death is soothed by steadfast faith in Christ.”

    Russel M. Nelson

  8. Christian Y. Cardall (TSM) on April 2, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    Seth, but Pres. Packer did assert the reality of dreams, visions, visitations, miracles, and the Lord revealing himself. He quoted Mormon (in Moroni 7) on angels not ceasing to minister as long as there was a single person with faith.

  9. Lisa F. on April 2, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    The final song — arrangement of “How Firm A Foundation” — caused the tears to flow. I love the final (seventh) verse that we sing so rarely:

    The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
    I cannot, I will not, desert to his foes.
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

  10. Daylan Darby on April 2, 2005 at 3:24 pm

    TMS: Paperboy story???

    If the neighborhood petition ONLY said was “Please replace the paperboy” would YOU have signed it?

    Does this story imply that we shouldn’t complain/critisize/petition for justise when we have been “wronged” in a business deal?

  11. Julie in Austin on April 2, 2005 at 3:47 pm

    Daylan Darby–

    It was a striking story, but I think a preferable conclusion is that someone sensitive to the Spirit (as Sr. Monson was in this case) will know what to do. I can imagine many situations where seeking better service would have been appropriate, but this wasn’t one of them.

  12. Seth Rogers on April 2, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    They didn’t mention Hugh Nibley when listing off prominent deaths in the church.

    Or did I miss it?

  13. Russell Arben Fox on April 2, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    “They didn’t mention Hugh Nibley when listing off prominent deaths in the church. Or did I miss it?”

    You didn’t miss it: I was listening for it, and it wasn’t there. For better or worse, the phrase “prominent members of the church” appears to be basically restricted to general authorities, general auxiliary leaders, and their spouses.

    My additional kudos to President Hinckley for his humble and heartfelt words in honor of John Paul II, a great and good man, and one who will clearly be regarded in retrospect as a giant in the history of Christianity.

  14. Arwyn on April 2, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    Daylan Darby,

    What I took away from that story was that we should be understanding and show compassion toward people when we don’t know the reason why they aren’t perfect. And in a little thing, like having your paper delivered into the bushes or nearer the road sometimes? That’s something we can show compassion in.

    I don’t think he’d suggest that we shouldn’t petition for justice when we have been “wronged” in a business deal; but we should show compassion and try to be understanding when we’re doing it.

    Arwyn

  15. Costanza on April 2, 2005 at 4:58 pm

    President Hinckley’s son Dick was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. That is the first time something like that has happened in quite awhile (meaning the son of a living church president called to be a GA).

  16. Will on April 2, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    The talk about the Preach My Gospel manual reminded me that it was briefly available online at lds.org. Maybe it was a mistake that it was taken down? I thought maybe they wanted to limit it more to missionary use, but the talk emphasized that all members could benefit from it.

  17. Seth Rogers on April 2, 2005 at 5:12 pm

    “Not only does the natural man always place himself first, but he rarely places anybody second, including God.”

    Lynn G. Robbins (Quorum of the Seventy)

    Haven’t heard that one before. I like it.

  18. Ben S. on April 2, 2005 at 5:14 pm

    I emailed the church about the Preach my Gospel .pdf. It won’t be put back up online. No reason was given.

    Also, is anyone else having trouble with the audio stream? Our cable modem is working fine, but we lost the connection and can’t reconnect. I rebooted, tried elsewhere, no good…

  19. Harry K. on April 2, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    KBYUFM 89 sounds much better to listen to the conference (32KB/sec instead of 16KB/sec on lds.org)

  20. Aaron Brown on April 2, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    I know this is horribly juvenile, but am I the only conference viewer who, while listening to Dieter Uchdorf, can’t help but have flashbacks to old SNL sketches where Mike Myers announces, in his thick German accent: “Now is the time on Sprockets when we DANCE!”?

    Aaron B

  21. danithew on April 2, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    Aaron,

    I’m not even allowed to have such thoughts since both my parents served missions in Germany. My father particularly loves to spring out the German on me and each time I patiently and kindly remind him that I don’t speak German (my loss). Now that there is a German member of the Quorum of the Twelve, my father has one more impetus to speak the language in my presence.

    I was recently reminded of the fact that my mother served in the same mission as Allison Fowles’s father (bro. Welch … some of you have heard of him). Apparently they were both at a mission reunion yesterday or the day before and discussed how their kids had been at a bloggersnacker together during the past week.

  22. Kevin A. on April 2, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    Re the 1 in 1000 of a man’s grandchildren who turned out to be LDS: That man’s doing about as well as God, give or take. How can we look down that way on all those 999 lives?

  23. Mike B on April 2, 2005 at 6:14 pm

    I’m afraid you might be missing the point on the 1/1000 great grandchildren story. It’s about the potential that Heavenly Father sees in all of us – whether we find a way to live up to that potential is the real test. Half full – Half empty.

  24. Mike B on April 2, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    Anyone capture the stats?

  25. Rosalynde Welch on April 2, 2005 at 6:19 pm

    My little boy started crying during the PM session–was there a new general Primary presidency called? I thought I heard something like that in the background.

  26. Christian Y. Cardall (TSM) on April 2, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    Anyone curious about The Spinozist take?

  27. Justin on April 2, 2005 at 6:36 pm

    2004 Statistics (change from 2003 in parentheses)

    2665 Stakes (+41)
    646 districts (+2)
    26,670 wards/branches (+433)
    12,275,822 members (+241,239)
    98,870 children of record (-587)
    241,239 converts (-1684)
    51,067 missionaries (-5170)
    338 missions (+1)
    119 total temples (+3)

  28. Rusty on April 2, 2005 at 6:56 pm

    Rosalynde,
    Wow, your little boy must have loved the old Primary president and didn’t want to see her go. I’m sorry for his loss :)

  29. gst on April 2, 2005 at 9:25 pm

    “Lessons were learned, hearts were touched, commitments were made.”

    No points for guessing who just said that at the Priesthood session.

  30. gst on April 2, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    Nate, President Hinckley is going to mention chess in a minute.

    Surely I’m not the only one live-blogging the priesthood session from a BlackBerry.

  31. gst on April 2, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    Nate, President Hinckley is going to mention chess in a minute.

    Surely I’m not the only one live-blogging the priesthood session from a BlackBerry.

  32. Aimee Roo on April 2, 2005 at 9:54 pm

    I liked Pres. Monson’s talk, but I usually do. The part about debt, marriage, and two incomes, were all very timely. I hope that more members took notice, especially here in Utah where our bankruptcy rate is high.

  33. LoneWriter on April 2, 2005 at 11:18 pm

    About the paperboy story — it really bothered me. It easily could have been the story of my stepson’s half-brother. Although he was a paperboy who hung himself in the garage, the suicide had nothing to do with the petition, and a lot to do with the abuse that he was suffering at home.

    I was very uncomfortable hearing this story and the way that it was used in the talk.

  34. Eric Russell on April 2, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    Hinckley talked about gambling. He is against it.

    I very much appreciate Hinckley’s comments and feel they are much needed. I also appreciate that he specified that even a $5 game is not a good idea.

    However, I also know the way many members read GC talks. And I can tell you right now that many members, in coming years, are going to say that playing poker games at home – for fun and with no money – is also verboten because the prophet said so. But he didn’t say that. He said there are better ways to spend your time, but he didn’t say that.

    I’m just saying that right now because I can hear the falsely interpreted “the prophet said so” statements coming a mile down the road.

  35. Bill on April 2, 2005 at 11:38 pm

    Yes, I thought it was unnecessarily exploitative, much like the story from a recent conference of the boy who declined a father’s blessing but learned his lesson after getting in a car accident. Too bad, since up to that point it had been one of his best talks. (I was under the impression that they have these things proofread, but somebody, or a whole group, fell asleep in those instances).

  36. Jim Richins on April 2, 2005 at 11:55 pm

    From the Priesthood Session:

    Elder Robert C. Oaks talk was excellent. I can easily see 4 stars on his shoulder.

    BTW, Pres. Hinckley addressed the nepotism angle with his son’s call.

  37. Julie in Austin on April 3, 2005 at 12:04 am

    Did a little recon on the new Primary President: she and her husband own a preschool and developed a phonics program:

    http://www.frontlinephonics.com/index.html

  38. Brandon on April 3, 2005 at 12:29 am

    What did Pres. Hinkley say about poker in the priesthood session? I missed it.

  39. Brandon on April 3, 2005 at 12:34 am

    What did pres. Hinkley say about poker? I missed the priesthood session and heard it was adressed.

  40. Seth Rogers on April 3, 2005 at 12:51 am

    Regarding Pres. Hinckley’s talk on gambling:

    If you’ll recall, at one point in his address he remarked that poker may seem fun, but if you look at the people playing, you see an unhealthy amount of intensity on their faces.
    Then he restated the point that the game is addictive. Earlier he pointed to an example of a boy who was wasting all his time on the game and had quit his job in order to play internet poker.

    Reading between the lines, I’d say that Pres. Hinckley was blasting the game of Poker even when there isn’t any money in the pot. It seems like the waste of money is not the only evil he was condemning in gambling and associated activities.

    Thoughts?

  41. Seth Rogers on April 3, 2005 at 12:55 am

    Did anyone else get the feeling that the “waste-of-money” aspect of gambling and its associated games was not the only thing Pres. Hinckley was attacking.

    His criticism of Poker in particular seemed to focus just as much on the unhealthy intensity of the participants and the addictive, time-wasting nature of the game.

    Does this mean that Poker is an unacceptable activity even when there’s no money in the pot?

  42. Bryce I on April 3, 2005 at 1:24 am

    I’ve posted my notes from priesthood session at Millennial Star, for those of you who missed it.

  43. danithew on April 3, 2005 at 9:16 am

    My father and I went to the priesthood session together at the Conference Center. All I can say is that if you have a chance to attend there, it is a spectacular place and the feeling of the Spirit is very strong even if you are sitting up in the balcony.

    Two interesting experiences I’ll always relate to this conference.

    Yesterday I met a woman named Hedwig for the first time. Hedwig was ten years old and a Jehovah’s witness (as well as her grandmother) when my mother taught them the discussions in Germany. Yesterday was the first time she and my mother had met personally since then. Hedwig now lives in Texas and has a son named Sean who is a RM and a student at the University of Utah. My father was giving Hedwig a ride someplace (after the Sat. afternoon conference session). I had just been introduced to Sean, said hello, shook hands and we parted ways. I was about to go to the mall across from Temple Square and stopped briefly to tie my shoelaces. And then Sean was back. He tapped me on the shoulder and said he wanted to say something to me. He was pretty emotional and just said he wanted me to tell me how glad he and his family were that my mother had been there in Germany all those years ago.

    My second experience was after the priesthood session. My father and I were walking to where the car was parked and stumbled across a restaurant that sells falafels. We were in our suits and I guess it was obvious we had just attended conference. A waitress there made a point of asking us what her chances were of getting in to attend conference on Sunday. We tried to tell her how she might be able to get in if she arrived extra early. She then said to us that “this is my first general conference. I was only just baptized.” Turns out she is from Connecticut and has been living in Utah for only two months. She had that special look of a person who is freshly enthusiastic and earnestly converted to the gospel. [And no, I don’t think she was angling for a tip. We got our falafels “to go.”]

  44. danithew on April 3, 2005 at 9:32 am

    Just a little more.

    At the beginning of the priesthood session in the Conference Center, a number of messages were shown on two screens and a voice was broadcast stating the content of the messages. One of the messages said something like “There are those outside who will attempt to disrupt the conference. Please treat them curteously.” I was left wondering whether this referred to people who might infiltrate the Center and disrupt the conference or if it merely meant those standing outside.

    After the priesthood session when my father and I left the Conference Center, it was impressive to see the HUGE crowd of men and boys in suits, white shirts and ties who were crossing the street. There were a few people (as there always are) who were holding large signs with anti-Mormon messages. Just as we crossed the street there a man with a beard was standing there. He was waving a Bible and shouting anti-Mormon diatribes as best he could in a very hoarse voice. One young man in a white shirt and tie attempted to reason with him a little and the man got nose-to-nose in the young man’s face and shouted “You are a deceiver! You are a liar! You are a snake!” Those are exact quotes.

    It amazed me that someone could get in the face of another person (he has never met before) and say such terrible things. I could see that the young man was feeling a variety of emotions and I wondered if there was going to be a fist-fight right then and there.

    Then, to the left of us in the crowd, some people started singing “High On A Mountain Top.” At first people were hesitantly joining in but then suddenly there were at least 50-75 men singing at the tops of their voices — all with the intent of drowning out this mean hoarse man. Suddenly, instead of tension and anger there was a feeling of relief and even humor. In a proactive and fun way we were projecting our own message back at this man — but without fighting or contention or saying nasty things.

    During the afternoon and evening, each time I crossed the plaza, I was impressed with how large Temple Square (or Rectangle as I sometimes like to call it) has gotten. With the addition of the plaza and the Conference Center, the area inhabited by Church-goers and meetings is substantially larger. Previously, with Temple Square as it was, there was basically a limited and confined area where protesters could approach every entrance. The way things are now it seems to me the anti-Mormon protesters don’t have much of a chance. There is so much area to cover and so many people there — the protesters really seem very small and insignificant in comparison.

  45. Sheri Lynn on April 3, 2005 at 10:14 am

    50 minutes and 30 seconds through 50 minutes 50 seconds into the entire Saturday session now available in video format at lds.org, http://www.lds.org/conference/sessions/display/0,5239,49-1-520,00.html, Elder Edgley says that Jesus Christ’s personal suffering in Gethsemane was not only for our sins, but also for our pains, infirmities, trials, and tragedies. I sit in wonder because I’d never heard this before. Sins, yes, but the rest? I do not understand. Something to study and ponder and pray about. I am wondering if this startles anyone else.

    I don’t understand viewing the paperboy story as exploitative. This is something that really happened and was a powerful, saddening spiritual experience for the Monsons. I don’t think he claims to know that the petition was the only cause of the boy’s despair, but he recognized the power of even just criticism to deeply wound another. Where do we get our testimonies if not from earthly experiences, most of which involve other people and the outcomes of what they do with their agencies? Experiences, causes, and effects cannot be divorced from our faith that way.

  46. Sheri Lynn on April 3, 2005 at 10:17 am

    http://www.lds.org/conference/sessions/display/0,5239,49-1-520,00.html

    I apologize that I messed up the link above.

    I might add that the paperboy story has helped me tremendously to understand what I’m obliged to do to help repair my relationship with my parents, and how to view their distorted view of my religion and my parenting. So what some feel uncomfortable with has been a true teaching for me.

  47. mfb on April 3, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Sheri,

    Read Alma 7:11-12 for the doctrinal foundation to Elder Edgeley’s talk. This is one of my favorite scriptures of all time.

  48. Mike B on April 3, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    Just a comment to those regarding the paperboy story and others like it. I wonder if those living at the time of the Saviour would have felt that some of the parables were exploitive? Elder Wirthlin made the comment something to the effect – that those who criticize members of the Church only weaken it.

    On the comments on exactly what Christ took on for all of us… I also recommend “His Final Hours” I think it’s by Jeffrey Marsh.

  49. Sheri Lynn on April 3, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you. You think you know the Book of Mormon, having read it and studied it for a decade, and yet there’s always something new to learn.

  50. Seth Rogers on April 3, 2005 at 4:25 pm

    Elder Oaks’ talk was excellent. However, I wish that someone would address the nuts and bolts of avoiding pornography in the home sometime.

    For example, I keep waiting for one of the General Authorities to flat-out instruct LDS parents to remove internet accessing computers from their teenagers’ rooms. The only computer with internet access in an LDS house should be in a high-traffic area of the house.

    Internet filters alone just don’t cut it.

    Removing cable TV from all the bedrooms wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

  51. Rosalynde Welch on April 3, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    Seth, I think the reason why leaders are hesitant to prescribe measures like these is that, like the R-rated movie proscription, it can lull people into thinking they can rely on external devices to make decisions about media choices (rather than using those devices as tools to come to personally-felt decisions) and it can lead to judging others who, for extenuating reasons, don’t adopt precisely those measures.

  52. Sheri Lynn on April 3, 2005 at 4:35 pm

    Until it is possible to subscribe to cable television that will not embarrass or offend us, we won’t be paying for cable television. That solves that problem. Since the media’s enthusiastic coverage of the Clinton Presidency, we don’t even watch network television, save for The Tornado Show, when it is on. If they all want our business, they will have to make it possible for us to let ‘them’ into our home with confidence that they will behave themselves while there.

    Remarkably–life goes on without television.

    It really doesn’t seem that complicated to me. If it doesn’t come into our lives in the first place, it cannot corrupt us.

  53. Jim Richins on April 3, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    Seth,

    They do and he did. Internet in an open, easily viewable area has been a suggestion for a long time. For other suggestions, see Elder Ballard’s talk from Oct. 2003 (?). He had 7 nuts and bolts suggestions.

    However, Rosalynde is right. Simple rules like “no R movies” or “no cable TV” are good guidelines, but they don’t protect us.

  54. Sophie on April 3, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    Yeah, Sheri,

    That Clinton sure was the anti-Christ. Satan must be trying to test us with statistics that show that teen pregnancies and abortions (and poverty et cetera) decreased on his watch. (http://tinyurl.com/5mp2p)

    The facts sure are biased.

  55. Judy Brooks on April 3, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    Sherri Lynn—how can you feel the least bit at ease simply because you don’t have cable. Have you looked at what’s on regular television lately.
    I’d rather see bare bodies than some of the sicko stuff that’s on the regular prime time comedies every single night.

  56. Ben H on April 3, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    I was happy to hear more nuts and bolts on the “why not” side in the cases of both gambling and pornography. I appreciated Hinckley’s and Oaks’ taking the time to talk about a variety of ill effects, like undermining the motive to be industrious, or undercutting normal, healthy love and romance. I also really liked Oaks’ broad definition of pornography as “images and words intended to arouse sexual desire”. That makes it quite clear that merely avoiding the sort of thing that makes for “R” ratings in movies is only a half-measure.

  57. Ben H on April 3, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    Er, Sheri did say that they hardly even watch network television, Judy. But of course, that is only to say that she agrees with you that a lot of it is sick.

  58. Mark B. on April 3, 2005 at 6:20 pm

    Sophie,

    You missed the point of Sheri’s comment about Clinton. Rather than citing the statistics about teen pregnancies and abortions during those years, you perhaps should try to find some stats about the number of times “oral sex” or “semen stained dress” made it onto the news during the Clinton years, compared to previous or subsequent presidencies.

  59. Sheri Lynn on April 3, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    I was babysitting a bunch of kids who weren’t mine, and I left the room to change a diaper, and got to come back to someone else’s kindergartner asking me about what they were talking about on the news. Nothing like that is ever going to happen to me again, not in my home. President Clinton was hardly the first prominent man to engage in that kind of behavior, nor the first to get caught. I sincerely doubt he did what he did expecting it all to be discussed in intimate detail during those early evening hours. (All day long, every day, in fact.) I am quite certain that he could have mustered more control over his behavior if he’d known how little control the media would exert in exposing his behavior.

    If you’d read the entire post I made you would see it wasn’t Clinton bashing, but media bashing. I’m not apologizing for that.

  60. Sophie on April 3, 2005 at 7:53 pm

    Boy is my face red. I will wholeheartedly join you in bashing the media. We’ve gone from “if it bleeds, it leads”, to “if it titillates, it … uh …”

    My brain can sometimes short-circuit when I hear about liberal media bias. In truth, they are clearly biased against what I believe.

  61. Seth Rogers on April 3, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    Honestly, the thing that really bothers me about television isn’t the racy discussions, mean-spirited reality shows, crass comedies, or blood-and-guts incidents.

    It’s the commercials.

    The commercials teach our kids to completely divorce themselves from the reality of the world and focus instead on self-gratification. Watch the overall pattern of TV programming and you’ll see what I mean.

    No matter how horrific the events on the news, how gripping the drama … there’s always friendly commercials popping in at comfortable intervals to assure us that it’s “all in good fun.”

    I think that deep down, we all know that if the stuff on the news was really that important, it wouldn’t be immediately followed by the Pillsbury Doughboy giggling over a toaster-struddel.

    The dominant message of all network television programming is:

    “Nothing in life matters. So why not stuff your face with potato chips?”

    Liberal bias I can handle. At least that bias is usually easy to spot (and discuss with the kids). It’s commercial bias that makes for really twisted children.

  62. danithew on April 3, 2005 at 9:08 pm

    I really enjoyed Elder Bednar’s talk about the “tender mercies of the Lord.” It struck me as a very scripture-based talk — at the same time his special definition of “tender mercies” was very personalized and made the scriptures he used really come to life. I’m really looking forward to hearing more of his talks in the future.

  63. danithew on April 3, 2005 at 10:12 pm

    My wife and I managed to attend the Sunday afternoon session today.

    As we left the same trolls who were demonstrating outside Temple Square last night were spouting their nonsense at everyone passing. The choicest line I heard (again, this is an exact quote) was: “YOU ARE A STENCH IN THE HOLY NOSTRILS OF OUR GOD!” This amazing construction and other similar choice words were being shouted at couples and families with kids who were just walking down the sidewalk.

    As my wife and I walked by we observed that the Salt Lake City police were taking pictures and filming these guys. Maybe they strayed from their protest zones or maybe the vitriol they are spouting qualifies under the law as harassment. It is the strangest thing in the world to me that someone could claim to be Christian, wave around a Holy Bible and simultaneously say things like this. But that is exactly what they were doing.

    What happened to the more personable anti-Mormons who used to speak softly and merely hand out fliers or pamphlets?

  64. Alex on April 3, 2005 at 10:18 pm

    Seth,

    I have never posted in the Mormon blogosphere, ever, despite a couple of months of lurking. But I had to come out of the woodwork to say something odd. Your last post both drove home a very interesting and valid point, and, for some reason, made me start to laugh and laugh. It’s the Pilsbury doughboy imagery, I think. I read your post to my non-Mormon roommate, who had the same reaction, and added: “This tragedy brought to you by McDonalds: I’m lovin’ it!!”

    Just wanted to let you know I appreciated your thoughts on multiple levels.

    Alex

  65. Mark N. on April 3, 2005 at 10:18 pm

    Seth: It’s the commercials.

    Of course, commercials are pretty much the main reason broadcast television exists in the first place: to sell you stuff.

    The only reason why there are TV “programs” at all is because there needs to be some kind of sweetener there to keep you around for the commercials. The commercials are the real “meat” of broadcast television; everything else is fluff and a lure to get your attention.

  66. Bonnie on April 3, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    danithew,
    I thought THEIR God didn’t have any nostrils. Maybe he agrees with us more than he knows!

  67. Bonnie on April 3, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    danithew,
    I thought THEIR God didn’t have any nostrils. Maybe he agrees with us more than he knows!

  68. Bonnie on April 3, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    danithew,
    I thought THEIR God didn’t have any nostrils. Maybe he agrees with us more than he knows!

  69. Bonnie on April 3, 2005 at 11:03 pm

    How embarrassing, I think I had the hiccups!

  70. Ron Hellig on April 4, 2005 at 6:59 am

    Just a point of order. It wasn’t Clinton who put all those nasty, near-pornographic words on the airwaves. It was the Republican Congress who VOTED to put all Ken Star’s transcripts out on the internet for all to see. SHAME ON THEM!

    And it obviously wan’t to protect the sanctity of marriage or to keep kids from knowledge of carnal things. It was PURELY FOR POLITICAL ADVANTAGE.

    SHAME ON THEM!

  71. seven bohanan on April 4, 2005 at 10:28 am

    Forgive me if I am retreading ground here:

    Did anyone see Elder Scott practically push Elder Wirthlin out of the way after Elder Wirthlin’s talk (which was one of my favorites) concluded? Easy there, RGS.

    Is chess a game of chance? Checkers? I am not a gambler, but President’s Hinckley’s comments struck me as very far reaching. I guess I can’t compete in my firm’s annual NCAA tournament anymore?

    I too noticed the absence of Hugh Nibley’s name in the role call of prominent passings. Coincidentally, I was reading an article about his daughter’s book. The article was unfavorable to the church and to Nibley, not surprisingly, but I wondered if the book had anything to do with the absence? BTW, has that book been discussed here, and if so, can someone direct me to the thread? Thanks.

  72. Stephen Hardy on April 4, 2005 at 10:38 am

    I spoke for some time with my wife about President Hinkley’s talk about gambling, and I thought I would post a few thoughts about it.

    I believe that President Hinkley spoke out against gambling for three reasons: First, and most importantly, he sees it as evil to participate in a game that gives something for nothing. This seems to strike deep at the work-ethic that is so important to us. Second, he is dismayed at the fact that gamelbing can be addictive. Third, he sees gambling as a “gateway” activity to other unwanted/illegal acts.

    All of these have merit, and I had two observations or questions.

    His discussion of wanting something for nothing made me think about other activities such as investing in the stock market or businesses. I wondered if some of his comments could be applied to exploitative business practices. Just a brief thought….

    What I found most interesting is that he didn’t discuss the “public policy” aspects of gambling. For me, this is the strongest condemnation for gambling. State lotteries represent the least progressive form of taxation. Here in Massachusetts where the Lottery is popularly widespread (and supported by our Mormon Governor!) it has been repeatedly pointed out that poor communities such as Chelsea, Revere, and Somerville end up sending substantial money to support the town governments of very affluent towns such as Dover, Belmont and Weston. Poor people disproportionately play the lottery. And not a small amount. Those people and communities least able to bear the taxation, and most needy for services appear to consistently pour more money into the lottery (and other gaming eterprises.)

    I wondered why President Hinkley didn’t mention this. My wife thought that there could be two reasons: Perhaps he doesn’t want to appear to criticize government policy out of a desire to avoid the appearance of political involvement. My response was simply that I hope this wasn’t the case. The church hasn’t hesitated to become involved in political matters if it thought that moral matters were involved. I think that it is interesting that we might decry gambling for personal reasons (it undermines the work-ethic), but not for taxation policies (it results in a disproportionate shouldering of taxation on those least able to bear it… I think of the old saw that “The lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand math.”)

    Well, my wife wondered, maybe President Hinkley doesn’t want to justify the gamblers by blaming the government for personal mistakes. In other words, we shouldn’t play the lottery, and so it doesn’t matter whether our government supports it.

    In any case, I found it to be interesting. I enjoyed hearing President Hinkley discuss a new subject. I wished that he would have spoken about the public policy implications, but that was a desire on my part to nurture my socialist leanings.

  73. Will on April 4, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Stephen,

    Although it is interesting President Hinckley didn’t stress the public policy ill’s of gambling on this occasion (although he did mention that Utah and Hawaii are the states without lotteries), it is worth noting that he and many others have already stated that it is politically unwise. The talk he referenced by Elder Oaks strongly argues against it for public policy reasons.

  74. Ben S. on April 4, 2005 at 12:57 pm

    Steve Bohanan: See the 10 excellent threads by Clark Goble on Beck, at http://www.libertypages.com/clark/

    Beck pts. 1-10

  75. gst on April 4, 2005 at 1:14 pm

    Seven Bohanan: there is no element of chance in chess.

  76. gst on April 4, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    Follow-up: I understand that people play chess for money in Washington Square under the noses of the NYPD without fear of arrest or prosecution precisely because there is no element of chance. Of course, people shoot heroin there too, which I think is illegal.

  77. Mark B. on April 4, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    No, Ron. It wasn’t congress or Ken Starr that put the salacious bits about Bill, Hillary, the blue dress and the Macanudo Maduro on the airwaves. It was CNN, FOX, MSNBC and the broadcast networks.

  78. seven bohanan on April 4, 2005 at 1:35 pm

    I disagree that there is no element of chance in chess. There is an element of chance in all games and competitions.

  79. gst on April 4, 2005 at 1:35 pm

    Somehow naming the brand of the cigar makes the act seem even more disgusting, if that’s possible. Nicely done.

  80. seven bohanan on April 4, 2005 at 1:41 pm

    Gracias, Ben S. I noticed when Nibley died, the lds.org website delayed posting his passing for several days.

  81. Jim F on April 4, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    Since, to my knowledge, the Church has never announced at conference the passing of anyone other than GAs and their wives, I don’t think their failure to mention Nibley’s name means anything.

  82. Kevin Kartchner on April 4, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Regarding gambling, the question arises whether church members should avail themselves of public benefits that are directly or indirectly traceable to the gaming industry. In New Mexico, where I live, the state lottery funds college scholarships for in-state high school graduates who attend in-state public universities; indeed, the state universities have begun to leverage the lottery scholarship program to help fund merit-based scholarships. Would the general authorities regard the acceptance and utilization of a lottery scholarship as evil in se due to the gambling connection? If so, we have a lot of LDS families here who are not following gospel teachings in that regard, although it’s hard to fault them for it when the alternative is so costly for low-to-middle-income families.

    One can imagine the logical extremes to which such a notion could lead. For example, I understand Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax due to all the revenues the state generates from taxing the gaming industry; therefore, almost all public services in Nevada can be viewed as being subsidized, in whole or in part, by gambling. Is it, then, a sin to live or run a business there?

    (By the way, there is precedent for the church’s refusing scholarship money from an industry that it views as unsavory. I remember, when Danny Ainge won some kind of player-of-the-year award back in 1981 that involved a scholarship grant to BYU in Ainge’s name from Anheuser-Busch, that the school turned down the award because it didn’t want “tainted” beer money.)

  83. ADMIN on April 4, 2005 at 2:07 pm

    FYI ALL —

    We’ve got some heavy filtering to prevent spam comments (we get a _lot_ of spam comments, mostly advertising for sexually explicit websites, online drugstores, or gambling).

    As a result, we have put certain words into the moderation queue. These include the words POKER and ROULETTE . (I’m going to have to approve this comment, because it’s going to get held.)

    If you’re posting a legit comment about gambling discussion in general conference, avoid these words. You might, for example, use asterisks or other placeholders, such as zero instead of “o”: pok*r, p0ker, etc.

    Sorry for any inconvenience.

  84. Last lemming on April 4, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    I guess I can’t compete in my firm’s annual NCAA tournament anymore?

    Like chess, there is no element of chance in this activity. It is pure skill. :-) (Which, of course, is why I am currently tied for 23rd place–out of 85–in my office.)

    State lotteries represent the least progressive form of taxation.

    Here is a quote from the Oaks article cited above. From this, I infer not only that lotteries are an unfair way to raise revenue, but that regressive taxation is a bad thing. (Take note, national sales tax proponents).

    Gambling Is an Unfair Way To Raise Revenue for Public Purposes. In the words of former Florida Governor Reuben Askew, the lottery is “the worst form of taxation ever invented.” This is because the poor pay a much higher proportion of their income than the rich. Economists describe this kind of tax as highly regressive. Writing in the National Tax Journal, one economist stated that most forms of gambling, including state lotteries and numbers games, turn out to be “two to three times more regressive than sales taxes.”

    Just for fun, a more recent NTJ article (by Oster in the June 2004 issue) speculates that if a jackpot were to reach $806 million, the game would cease to be regressive.

  85. Mark B. on April 4, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    Kevin,

    Once that dirty gambling money passes through the cleansing hands of the state department of taxation and finance and is mixed with all the other money the state of Nevada raises from taxing legitimate businesses such as brothels, pawnshops, payday loan centers and Wal-Mart, it can no longer be determined with any degree of certainty that it is gambling money, so take all you can and enjoy the no-tax day next Friday.

    On another note: were you a missionary in Taiwan from 1973 to 1975?

  86. Kevin Kartchner on April 4, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    Mark, you’re thinking of my brother Kelly, who has now had two sons serve in Taiwan, as well (not to mention a daughter in B.C.).

  87. Justin on April 4, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Since, to my knowledge, the Church has never announced at conference the passing of anyone other than GAs and their wives, I don’t think their failure to mention Nibley’s name means anything.

    Since the late 1990s, those named have included GAs, their wives, members of auxiliary presidencies, a Tabernacle organist, a church historian (Leonard J. Arrington’s death was mentioned in 1999), and a church general counsel (Wilford W. Kirton Jr. was mentioned in 2001).

    Before 1998 or so, the policy seemed much more liberal. I’ve come across names of stake presidents, temple presidents, mission presidents, regional representatives, members of general church committees (e.g., Church Audit Committee), a secretary to a church president (Claire Middlemiss), university presidents (e.g., Rex E. Lee and former U of U president Albert Ray Olpin), government leaders (Terrel Bell was named in 1997), scholars (Sidney Sperry was named in 1978), athletes, and scientists (both Henry Eyring and Harvey Fletcher were named in 1982).

  88. Mark B. on April 4, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Kevin,

    Thanks. Memories get rusty after 30+ years. I was in the LTM in Hawaii with him, on my way to Japan.

    And, my grandfather married your great aunt Thalia.

    Give Kelly my best.

    Mark B.

  89. Bill on April 4, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    A very prominent Mormon whose passing was not mentioned (nor have I seen it commented on) was the great pianist Grant Johanneson who died on Easter:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/arts/music/30johannesen.html

  90. Jim F on April 4, 2005 at 3:44 pm

    Justin (87): Thanks for the correction. It looks like there may have been a policy change. In any case, I doubt that we should read very much into the fact that Nibley’s name was not mentioned. I suspect that the list of names to announce isn’t decided by some grand council, but instead by a functionary who has a protocol, perhaps loosely defined, for deciding what names to put on it.

  91. Mike Parker on April 4, 2005 at 4:43 pm

    Costanza: President Hinckley’s son Dick was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. That is the first time something like that has happened in quite awhile (meaning the son of a living church president called to be a GA).

    J. Golden Kimball reportedly once said, “There are three great ‘shuns’ by which callings are made in the Church: Revelation, inspiration, and relation.”

    Kudos to President Hinckley for being so candid about his son’s appointment, even so much as to use the word “nepotism” twice. And for doing it with such characteristic good humor.

  92. A. Greenwood on April 4, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    NM and the lottery:

    The difference between Nevada and NM is that in NM the money isn’t sanitized. At least I don’t think so. The lottery money is clearly earmarked for scholarships. No other funds are used.

  93. Mike Parker on April 4, 2005 at 4:47 pm

    Here’s a link to Elder Oaks’ excellent 1987 address on gambling:

    http://tinyurl.com/3pqdc

    IMHO, state lotteries are simply a tax on people who are bad at math.

  94. Anna on April 4, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    Another attempt to find a connection with Kevin: are you descended from a Mark Elisha Kartchner (Jr. or Sr.)? My great- and great-great-grandfathers, respectively.

  95. Silus Grok on April 4, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    Or Craig Kartchner (now married to Summer), a previous roommate of mine?

  96. pd mallamo on April 4, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    Bro. Packer, l*tt* (those little tickets you buy at 7-11), Bill Clinton, the blue dress, and a certain brand of cigar – very strange. Considering it’s conference, very very strange. If I didn’t know better (the Pres.. Packer tipoff) I’d say you were a bunch of Unitarians.

  97. Sheri Lynn on April 4, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    I find myself in the strange position of wondering why anyone would strain so hard to take offense at my posts, twist what I said all out of context, and then use ME to inject extreme partisan contention into a discussion about the sacred teachings offered to us from General Conference.

    It’s sad.

    I agree about the commercials. I don’t think I’ve seen a television commercial since the mid 90s. When the Tornado Show is on, they pre-empt the commercials. Nothing is more exciting than watching the stormchasers and doppler radar track a tornado on the ground, headed right for one’s own home. Now that sells no potato chips.

  98. Kevin Kartchner on April 5, 2005 at 10:04 am

    On my father’s side, I’m descended from William Decatur Kartchner, who, I believe, was a brother to Mark Elisha. William Decatur’s youngest son Orrin (or Orin, a spelling I don’t favor, given that it means “urine” in Spanish) was my great-grandfather. Orrin married Annella Hunt, the daughter of John Hunt, and (among other children) they produced both Thalia Kartchner (who, later in life, married Mark B’s grandfather) and my grandfather, Kenner Casteel Kartchner. Kenner was the black sheep of the family–as is made plain in his memoirs, which were edited by my cousin Larry Shumway and published by the U. of Arizona Press under the title Frontier Fiddler–but he stayed married to my grandmother, Adlee Lindsey, long enough to produce a number of children, including my father Stanley. Both the Kartchner and Hunt names figure heavily in the history of Snowflake, Arizona, and several generations of my father’s family are buried there.

    Craig Kartchner would probably be a second or third cousin. Unfortunately, I barely know my first cousins, so….

    By the way, I guess the fact that Nevada’s tax revenues from gambling go into a general fund lends a certain plausible deniability to church members living there and utilizing public benefits and services (and taking advantage of the non-existence of state income taxes). It’s difficult to deny, however, that all Nevada residents benefit pretty heavily from the existence of legalized gambling there–and, to me, the fact that lottery revenues in New Mexico are earmarked specifically for scholarships is a distinction without a meaningful difference.

  99. Mark B. on April 5, 2005 at 10:33 am

    If Adam Greenwood really thought that my comment about Nevada’s money being sanitized was serious, I’ll begin negotiations to sell him a bridge a mile up the road.

  100. Jonathan Stone on April 5, 2005 at 10:39 am

    My take on the Gambling talk:

    “Games of Chance” refers to gambling games of chance. I don’t think President Hinckley opposes playing Candyland with our toddlers. My family has regularly enjoyed playing games together with an element of chance (any game with dice or cards of any kind) for years, and those games serve a wonderful role in bringing us together to have fun. They are wholesome and uplifting (as long as fistfights don’t break out). That changes once the purpose is to win money, either from the House or from other players.

    In that sense, gambling is wrong even when it is not a “Game of Chance,” like betting on sports, my own golf game, or a chess match. It might be skill, but my intent is still to win money off of other people. I am paying money not to receive something of value, but for the “chance” to win money, even if I win it based on skill.

    Some people may believe that prohibits professional sports, like the PGA. However, the prize pool in PGA tournaments is payed from sponsors. They pay into the pool for something of value (advertising), and players are paid based on their performance out of that pool for something they provide of value (entertainment). In contrast, P0KER tournaments pay a prize pool not as a “salary” for entertainment provided, and not out of money paid in by sponsors, but out of money the players pay in to gamble.

    Some people may also believe that the stock market is therefore gambling. Aren’t you paying in for the chance to win something more? While the potential addictive nature of gambling can certainly exist with the stock market, it is not gambling, because you do receive something of value in return for your investment. You receive partial ownership in a company. Companies rely on stock investments to enable them to operate, manufacture, and employ workers. Your money is doing something, and you have ownership of something of value.

  101. danithew on April 5, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Here’s the American Heritage dictionary definintion of “game of chance”:

    A game, usually played for money or stakes, in which the winner is determined by a chance event, as by drawing numbers or throwing dice.

  102. Kaimi on April 5, 2005 at 10:55 am

    Jonathan Stone,

    Interesting theory about the pay-in versus no-pay-in distinction.

    I don’t know that it holds up. For example, what if a friend gives me a lottery ticket. At that point, I haven’t paid in for a chance to win. Someone else gave it to me. May I use the lottery ticket? Or what if I go to a Knicks game and get selected for a halftime 3-point shot (you know, the “make a shot, win a million dollars” thing). Is this okay, since I’m not taking money from someone else? (Or am I? Surely the chance of my hitting that shot has been calculated and insured against, and 35 cents of everyone’s ticket price pays for the possibility that I’ll hit that shot).

    What about aggressive sales commissions? If I’m selling insurance and my boss says “here’s a bonus pot of $1000. I’ll split it between the top two sellers” is that a form of gambling? It’s a participation in an activity where my skill determines whether or not I receive the bonus or another employee does — I’m out to “win money off of other people.”

    And what about Ken Jennings? Is he winning money off of other people?

  103. danithew on April 5, 2005 at 11:24 am

    I pity the fool who become addicted to taking half-court shots for the chance to win a million dollars.

  104. John T. on April 5, 2005 at 11:34 am

    I was “coerced’ to travel over to Wendover 2 weekends ago by a manager of mine visiting from Florida. I don’t normally gamble, it doesn’t appeal to me as I can’t get past the mathematical odds inherent in the games provided by the Casino. But I did enter the Saturday night Texas hold ‘em tournament.
    It cost $60 to enter; was limited to 60 players around 10 tables; the prize pool was approximately $3600, less whatever cut the house took. I did not find it particularly enjoyable, as many of the players around the table had the customary stoic expression and some wore dark glasses even though we were inside. The winnowing process took place as players lost their stacks of chips (we each received $800 “dollars” in chips for our $60 pay in) and the top 3 finishers were determined about 3 hours later. These were the only players to receive prizes. I lasted about 10 hands, actually managed to win 2, one by “bluffing” (everyone else folded) and one by playing it out against one remaining player and having the better hand. I finally went “all in” with a marginal hand, primarily because I wasn’t enjoying the experience, not out of sound poker judgement.

    I did feel that there was quite a bit of skill involved; being able to calculate odds and read other players would have been a huge advantage. I doubt many people would ever be able to make a living at it; they would constanty have to travel to tournaments. I suppose playing online could supplement that, but the ability to read other’s expressions and mannerisms would not be part of the calculus.

    I didn’t think of the experience as extraordinarily spiritually corrosive, except that I was sitting with people with phony expressions making phony small talk. Oh, and you could order drinks constantly, but that included orange juice and water, if you preferred.

  105. Costanza on April 5, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    With regard to President Hunckley’s argument that paying for a movie and paying to gamble are not the same–I agree. At least with gambling there is a remote chance that you will walk away with something. I wish I could say the same thing for most movies. Money down the drain in both cases (usually) :)

  106. Costanza on April 5, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    Obviously I meant “Hinckley” not “Hunckley”!!!

  107. A. Greenwood on April 5, 2005 at 6:56 pm

    Well, Bro. Kartchner, we’ve got something in common. Not only am I a fellow New Mexican, but my my people have been in and around Snowflake and Taylor, Arizona, for a while. Living there when I was small, my kindergarten teacher was a Shumway (not, alas, from Shumway, Arizona, about 11 miles down the road from our stucco house).

    On gambling and the stock market: Another distinction is that the stock-market provides valuable social benefits. Even the forms most like gambling. Day trading, for instance, provides liquidity and also provides an incentive for getting information out, which makes the market more rational and therefore more efficient. Some ways of playing with derivatives provide a form of insurance. Gambling, on the other hand, only provides entertainment. One doesn’t have to gamble to be entertained, but its hard to think of another way to provide liquidity.

    That being said, I do not believe that playing the stock market is always and everywhere a morally neutral activity. Saints should think carefully about their motives when they invest, and whether their success is predicated on someone’ elses financial failure.

  108. Sheri Lynn on April 5, 2005 at 7:24 pm

    “I’d rather work for a paycheck, than wait to win the lottery.” –Bright Eyes

    A semi-active LDS friend had an experience I find disquieting. I cannot integrate it with my view of the gospel. She was unemployed and on disability, not doing well financially, and had several bills in the house that she couldn’t pay with the $20 she had left. She woke up at 2 am hearing a voice that told her to go to the casino. (We have one in the area.) She tried to go back to sleep, but the voice was insistant. Finally she got up, got dressed, took her $20, drove to the casino, got change, and started to put her $20 in a slot machine. She hit a jackpot of (some huge amount of money, thousands anyway) before the twenty was gone. She took it and left immediately for home. She is convinced she was prompted to do that. I can’t see how she could have been prompted to to gamble. Can’t deny the results, though–she showed me the money. I prayed about it but maybe, deep down, I didn’t want to know the answer.

    Wickedness is never happiness, but she was one happy lady on the surface anyway. At any rate I still don’t understand it.

  109. Jonathan Stone on April 6, 2005 at 9:50 am

    Sheri,

    The important point of the story of your friend is that, no matter what the cause of the voice she heard (in her own head, from the Spirit, or from “another source”), it was by no means a revelation on the acceptability of gambling. President Hinckley unequivocally stated that gambling is forbidden by the gospel. That is the instruction that we should all abide by.

    I don’t know why your semi-active friend heard a voice. I do know that the Lord can sometimes instruct through the Spirit in specific circumstances to do things that are otherwise forbidden (Nephi killing Laban, for example). But the individual involved should be very clear that the source is the Spirit, and should seek confirmation of that fact through prayer.

    Perhaps the answer lies in your friend’s actions since hitting the jackpot. Is she now fully active? Has her life borne fruit of one living by the Spirit? I know that on my mission I encountered many people who claimed to receive revelatory dreams regularly. I didn’t know how to explain them, but their lives certainly didn’t bear fruit of righteousness. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I chose simply to ignore the supposed revelations of people who seemed very sincere. They simply did not concern me.

    But regardless of what the source of the voice was, I believe it doesn’t matter to me, or to you. It was either invented, from Satan, or from God applying only to specific circumstances. We know what we are instructed from a prophet of the Lord. Gambling is wrong, and should be avoided.

  110. Kevin Kartchner on April 6, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Adam, if you’re Bill Greenwood’s son, we have more in common than you think. First, you used to live in our ward in Albuquerque when your family lived on Eastridge NE. Second, my father’s first wife was your father’s aunt Sabina Greenwood, which makes my half-sisters Judy (who was killed several years ago) and Linda your father’s first cousins. (If you’re not Bill Greenwood’s son…never mind!)

    As far as gambling goes, President Hinckley rightly pointed out the dangers of addiction and financial ruin that arise from it. Going further, however, I think one need only consider the high degree of correlation between casino gambling and things like smoking, drinking, prostitution, and graft/corruption to realize that casinos aren’t the greatest places in the world to hang out in. (When I read about the “great and spacious building” in the account of Lehi’s vision in I Nephi, I always picture a huge hotel/casino on the Las Vegas Strip.)

  111. Eric James Stone on April 6, 2005 at 2:09 pm

    Kaimi,

    I believe the “win money off of other people” concept my brother Jonathan is limited to winning money off of competitors who have staked money against you.

    So, for your gift lottery ticket example, you would still be winning money from those who have bought tickets in the hope that they, not you, would win the money.

    In the sales promotion example and the Ken Jennings example, on the other hand, the people competing have not staked any money on the outcome, and the winners are paid by a third party (the company or Jeopardy.)

    With regard to the basketball example, it’s my impression that the prizes for such are actually paid for by sponsors, rather than being part of the ticket price, in which case it’s no different from winning a prize on Jeopardy. But if it were a part of the ticket price, then it’s similar to many product promotions in which purchase of an item with value in itself (like a soft drink, a fast-food meal, etc.) gives you a chance to win a prize. As long as the portion of the purchase price that goes toward paying for the prizes is minimal — i.e., people are still willing to purchase the same item for the same price even without the chance to win — then the purchasers are not really staking money against each other. (What’s really happening is that the product’s maker is willing to spend some of its per-item profit on prizes in the hope that increased sales from the promotion will increase the overall profit. And while such a tactic relies on the mathematical ineptitude of consumers in the same way that a lottery does, the consumers are at least gettings something of value for their money besides a chance at winning a prize.)

  112. Kaimi on April 6, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    Eric,

    Let me push back again, because I’m still not sure that the distinction holds up.

    First, what does it say about “playing against the house.” What if I just go and spend my $100 on a slot machine? I’m not betting directly against you or Nate or anyone else; I’m betting against a big corporate entity which has calculated the odds of me winning slots.

    What if there is no one else? I.e., what if the corporation has a single slot machine for the use of Kaimi Wenger? Is that still banned? Why?

    And back to Ken Jennings. I’m not sure that it’s accurate to say that other people don’t have money staked on the outcome. They fly to New York or Chicago or LA; they spend $500 on tutoring by a trivia-education company; they take 3 days off work. Is that not a real expenditure?

  113. A. Greenwood on April 6, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    Bill Greenwood is my father, Eastridge is where I grew up, etc. I thought your name was familiar but I wasn’t putting a face or a locale to it. I’m still not, frankly.

    I take it you’re still living in the Chelwood ward?

  114. Eric James Stone on April 6, 2005 at 7:24 pm

    Kaimi,

    First, let me deal with your last point:

    > And back to Ken Jennings. I’m not sure that it’s accurate to say that other people don’t have money staked on the outcome. They fly to
    > New York or Chicago or LA; they spend $500 on tutoring by a trivia-education company; they take 3 days off work. Is that not a real
    > expenditure?

    Of course it’s a real expenditure, but you seem to misunderstand the idea of staking money on the outcome. If you fly to L.A. to play on Jeopardy against me, and I win, I don’t get your airline ticket, I don’t get the hotel room you stayed in, I don’t get your three days of missed work, and I don’t get the tutoring you paid for. Win or lose, those expenditures and what you purchased with them are yours. However, if before the show I bet you $500 that I’ll win, and you take the bet, you have staked $500 on the outcome. If you win, you keep your $500 and get my $500, and if I win I keep my stake and win yours. It’s a very different situation. By winning on Jeopardy, Ken Jennings did not recieve anything that the other contestants had staked.

    Now, as to your other point:

    Slot machines are clearly a game of chance. I think it’s clear we’re not supposed to stake money on games of chance even if only against the house. However, if (as some casinos do) you have a free chance to spin a wheel to win a million bucks, I don’t think that’s wrong in and of itself, although some of the secondary consequences may be negative (i.e., if you win, having your name and photo used to advertise gambling.) And the reason casinos are willing to pay out on free games like that is they believe they are purchasing publicity worth at least wht they are paying.

    So the issues we’re trying to resolve, I think, are related to circumstances that do not involve staking money on a game of chance:

    1. Participating in a game of chance even if you personally have not staked money on the outcome, and

    2. Staking money on the outcome of something that is not a game of chance.

    Now, for #1, I think it’s fairly clear that if no one has staked anything on the outcome, it’s not gambling. Playing Monopoly, Risk, Sorry!, Uno, etc., is unobjectionable.

    But what if some people have staked money on the outcome? This is exemplified by your hypothetical involving a gift of a lottery ticket. Even if you are not staking the money yourself for the game of chance, others are doing so. If you win you are taking the money they have staked, exactly as if you had purchased the ticket for yourself. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that is objectionable, as you are a participant in the gambling.

    #2 is where the interesting problems lie, I think. Jonathan has explained that he thinks betting against other players in golf is wrong because you are trying to win money off them without providing value, and I think I agree. He also explained how the PGA Tour is not a problem, and I agree. But there are intermediate situations. What about a golf tournament which charges an entry fee, from which the winner is paid a cash prize? Is that acceptable? If so, how is that different from Jonathan deciding to organize a “tournament” among his golfing buddies, in which each of them pays an “entry fee” and the winner receives a “cash prize”?

  115. Ivan Wolfe on April 6, 2005 at 7:27 pm

    So what happens when your place of work gives out lottery tickets as prizes/promotions for meeting sales quotas/job performance standards?
    (I actually know a guy who quit a job because of that, which is why I’m asking).

  116. Eric James Stone on April 6, 2005 at 9:12 pm

    Ivan,

    I’d say that’s no different than the “friend gives you a lottery ticket” situation.

  117. Sheri Lynn on April 6, 2005 at 9:23 pm

    I don’t know how active that friend is now. I suspect only so-so. She’s black and has found Mormon CULTURE a bad fit. Our quiet services drive her slightly bonkers, and from time to time she retreats to what she calls “a black church” where things move at a faster pace. I can kind of understand that, though I like our reverent services better! Even the Lutherans seem too boisterous and noisy for me…and way too scripted. I know I’m in the true church.

    At any rate, I don’t want to judge her for what she believes about this event. I love her and trust her to choose the right. If she were married, we would probably have selected her to be guardian of our children if something happened to us. A higher compliment I can’t pay anybody. But I know anyone can be misled by the Devil if he can get to their weak spot (and certainly being broke and desperate makes many people weak.)

    I spent my teen years in Vegas so I attended fantastic public schools and ate at a lot of fantastic buffets. Slot machines in the grocery stores…it’s just a way of life there, and it creeps in even with small children. I vividly remember a toy slot machine bank I had. Two cherries and a bell.

    We’d play keno at the buffets every week, my parents placing bets for my brother and I with our allowance money. I remember we won big a few times. I dealt for them so they could practice card-counting at home. Family fun. They gambled every weekend and usually came out ahead, and when they won big, that was when our family got to do fun things. We would go to the racetrack as a family, and my parents would place bets for us and collect our winnings. Like alcohol, gambling was just a part of life in my atheist family. My brother and I were not excluded from it–quite the contrary. I think, looking back, that my parents encouraged us to participate in these aspects of their lifestyles–rather strongly. Gambling was a family activity and I remember a lot of it.

    Yet for some reason when I was old enough to do so legally, I didn’t. We lived overseas where the NCO Clubs all had slot machines. I was never tempted, though we ate there often. I don’t know why. I didn’t believe it was wrong, but I just didn’t enjoy it. Maybe it’s my innate pessimism. I don’t know why I never got addicted to gambling, tobacco, coffee, alcohol or television. Everybody else in my birth family is addicted to at least two of the above. I didn’t join the Church till I was 27. So I didn’t have the Gospel or covenants to keep me safe from these things. I just didn’t enjoy them.

    I don’t judge anybody else for gambling, drinking, smoking, or whatever. But it isn’t much of a sacrifice for me to give up these things since I didn’t care too terribly much about any of them. It’s Coca Cola that has always been my downfall! Fortunately as I get older just about everything else is pretty easy to eschew.

  118. Sheri Lynn on April 6, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    A question occured to me as I hit “make comment.” Sorry about this:

    Are the rules of poker cultural literacy? I think this kind of thing is cultural literacy, necessary to understand John D. MacDonald books if nothing else.

    My very old (inherited, 1966 edition) Mormon Doctrine says that all card games are forbidden, no matter what they are. Even Uno and Go Fish would be disallowed as family games if this doctrine still holds. I really can’t see a practical difference between playing Uno and playing Monopoly on FHE.

  119. Kaimi on April 6, 2005 at 9:58 pm

    Eric,

    I think we’re in agreement that the lines are harder to draw than Jonathan’s initial comment suggested.

    For example, he wrote:

    Some people may believe that prohibits professional sports, like the PGA. However, the prize pool in PGA tournaments is payed from sponsors. They pay into the pool for something of value (advertising), and players are paid based on their performance out of that pool for something they provide of value (entertainment). In contrast, P0KER tournaments pay a prize pool not as a “salary” for entertainment provided, and not out of money paid in by sponsors, but out of money the players pay in to gamble.

    You’ve pointed out one obvious gray area — a tournament where you have to pay money to enter.

    I’ll suggest another gray area. Jonathan’s distinguishing fact to separate p0ker tournaments from the PGA is sponsor versus entry fee. We can remove that in a different direction.

    Suppose that some sponsor — say, Coca Cola — decided to hold a “Poker Championship.” They invited people to play (based on some rational system of entrants). Each entrant got $1000 in “chips” but didn’t actually contribute real money. They then all played p0ker against each other, until one winner beat the rest, and received a prize.

    Wouldn’t that be allowable under Jonathan’s framing of the issue?

    And _should_ that kind of tournament be allowable?

  120. Ivan Wolfe on April 6, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    Sheri Lynn –

    My (obviously more recent) copy of Mormon Doctrine says that other card games (i.e. card games that don’t use face cards – so UNO, etc.) are not objectionable, except as a waste of time.

  121. A. Greenwood on April 6, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    Pushing rules towards the gray area is a bad law school habit, Kaimi. Shouldn’t be done in real life without cause. If you ask me.

  122. Eric James Stone on April 6, 2005 at 10:40 pm

    > Suppose that some sponsor – say, Coca Cola – decided to hold a “Poker Championship.” They invited people to
    > play (based on some rational system of entrants). Each entrant got $1000 in “chips” but didn’t actually contribute
    > real money. They then all played p0ker against each other, until one winner beat the rest, and received a prize.
    >
    > Wouldn’t that be allowable under Jonathan’s framing of the issue?
    >
    > And _should_ that kind of tournament be allowable?

    I don’t think Jonathan intended that to be the sole distinguishing characteristic, as he was also talking about the distinction between games of chance and other sorts of games. But I’m not sure that matters.

    If we substitute Monopoly for poker in your hypothetical, I think very few people would object to it as being gambling. (On the other hand, playing Monopoly with the players’ real money would definitely be gambling.) So, is poker per se prohibited, meaning I shouldn’t even play poker with my family using Monopoly money and Uno cards? Except for the possibility that playing non-stakes poker might lead a person down the path to gambling, I don’t think there’s anything about poker in particular that distinguishes it from Monopoly or Uno or any number of other games involving chance.

    So, subject to more careful scrutiny of President Hinckley’s talk, I’d say that playing in the Coca-Cola Poker Tournament (CCPT) might not be the best thing to do with your time, but I don’t think it runs afoul of the prohibition on gambling.

    I just checked the Utah Code definition of gambling, and the CCPT would appear to be permissible here, because the participants are not risking anything of value.

  123. Keith on April 7, 2005 at 1:54 am

    Comment 71: “Did anyone see Elder Scott practically push Elder Wirthlin out of the way after Elder Wirthlin’s talk (which was one of my favorites) concluded? Easy there, RGS.”

    Look again (on the Church website, for instance). You won’t see anything near to a push. Not at all. Elder Scott is under constraints of time (there have already been four speakers and no rest hymn yet) and I think that’s why he’s right there, ready to go–but there’s politeness and dignity, no rushing or pushing of Elder Wirthlin.

  124. Eric James Stone on April 7, 2005 at 10:51 am

    Hmm. I guess the comment I made last night got caught in the moderation queue.

  125. Sheri Lynn on April 7, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    I never saw my comment post so I thought it was just lost. It probably would have been just as well if it had been. TMI.

    Thanks for the clarification of current MORMON DOCTRINE in the book of the same name. I’m glad for the change; the old rule struck me as really silly. (Thou shalt not play with coated pieces of cellulose measuring less than 3 by 5 inches…with three by seven mayest thou play, and eight by eleven, but not two by three, nor three by four….)

  126. Sandra Wright on June 13, 2005 at 10:42 pm

    I’m new to this sort of thing… so anyway here goes. Just watched The Other Side of Heaven for the millionth time! Still love it just as much as the first time.

    I have a dear friend that is not LDS.She lost her 20 year old son two years ago to suicide. While reading the June issue of the Ensign 2005 I reade in the Question and Answer portion on pg. 15 a short article entitled “When There is a Suicide…” Could someone help this less than computer savy person find a copy of M. Russell Ballard’s talk “Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not”. It was in the Ensign of Oct. 1987 if that helps. Unfortunately I no longer have that copy in my possession. Thank you, Sandra

  127. Bill on June 13, 2005 at 11:11 pm

    Try here:

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates$fn=default.htm

    Then do an advanced search for Ballard and suicide and it’s right there.