Saturday Morning Session: Open General Conference Thread

April 1, 2006 | 107 comments
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This is an open thread for discussions of the Saturday morning session of General Conference.

107 Responses to Saturday Morning Session: Open General Conference Thread

  1. Kimball Hunt on April 1, 2006 at 11:15 am

    Wow, it’s Conference time?

  2. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    Doesn’t Pres. Hinckley usually open these things?

  3. Julie M. Smith on April 1, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    And a new heresy begins: fortune cookies as vehicles of revelation. :)

  4. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    And Sis. Beck fires off the opening salvo on Women-and-the-Priesthood.

  5. Eric Russell on April 1, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Maybe she’s been reading the bloggernacle.

  6. Travis on April 1, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Did Sister Beck just say that women and men make the same covenants in the temple?

  7. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    How many times do you think she’s said “equallly”?

  8. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Travis,

    It sounded that way, but clearly that’s not the case.

  9. Guy Murray on April 1, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    #7 Apparently not enough

  10. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Rosalynde, you should hear Sister Beck’s talk. She just said something wonderful about sickness and blessings and gifts of the spirit.

  11. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    Hmm. I didn’t think it was wonderful at all. Quite the opposite. Say more about why you felt otherwise, Anne.

  12. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    So, we are essentially equal before God because temporal inequalities aren’t important when compared with the eternities.

    Interesting.

  13. laura w on April 1, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    I now know that I watch CNN- after Sister Beck’s talk, I fully expected the pundits to start picking it apart on the air.

  14. laura w on April 1, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    That was supposed to be “too much CNN”

  15. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    On the one hand, I’m curious about why Melissa feels anything in this talk was particularly horrible.

    But on the other hand, this stuff has been debated here before, and there’s likely to be more to discuss coming up.

    I’m sure we can strike the right balance.

  16. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    The most disturbing thing about the talk to me was the idea that because the woman living in poverty had been baptized and gone through the temple she was in a position of “equality” with Sister Beck. Such thinking might so easily lead to inaction in helping the poor. They have the most important things, after all. Running water isn’t that important as long as someone has received certain ordinances, right?

  17. laura w on April 1, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    I thought it was pretty awful- “priesthood blessings are the great equalizer” to me means that men have the power to chose who is equalized and who is not. This is inherently unequal, allowing one group to determine what is equal for another group.

  18. Eric Russell on April 1, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    Melissa, remember that the majority of those listening are on the poor end. I think it’s actually an uplifting message to be told that your poverty does not make you of any less worth than the rich.

  19. A Nonny Mouse on April 1, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    The most disturbing thing about the talk to me was the idea that because the woman living in poverty had been baptized and gone through the temple she was in a position of “equality� with Sister Beck. Such thinking leads might so easily to inaction in helping the poor. They have the most important things, after all. Running water isn’t that important as long as someone has received certain ordinances, right?

    Right, except you have to remember the context of this talk… It’s the context of a general officer of a church who presides over an organization who in the last talk it was mentioned distributes regularly food and water and drilling supplies and clothing and… to the poor all over the world.

    I’m not trying to be cantankerous, but I think it’s pretty clear that her point wasn’t that “because we’re equally eternally I don’t have to help her much here on earth” but “even though she’s not my socio-economic equal here on earth, she is my equal eternally, and so I can’t and shouldn’t look down on her in any way.”

  20. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    I didn’t say that anything was “horrible,” Seth.

    However, her obvious need to demonstrate “equality” regarding the Priesthood for women and men was interesting and revealing. No one’s ever argued that there’s any distinction between men and women in *receiving* priesthood blessings so this strong emphasis is curious—almost as if she hopes repeated assertion of equality might distract from the obvious inequalities.

  21. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:13 pm

    Eric, I guess we just tend to assume that the American members are the only ones being addressed by Conference.

  22. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 1:13 pm

    I loved it, but Melissa, I’ll have to read it and get back to you, study the points I agreed with, because my memory is short.

    I’m liking Elder Eyring’s talk, too, but I love his dad, so I’m biased. But he seems to either keep chuckling or almost crying. I’m trying to figure out what that is he’s doing. If he’s cracking up or very serious.

  23. Anna on April 1, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    “almost as if she hopes repeated assertion of equality might distract from the obvious inequalities.”

    This was exactly what was striking to me as well.

  24. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    “her point wasn’t that “because we’re equally eternally I don’t have to help her much here on earthâ€? but “even though she’s not my socio-economic equal here on earth, she is my equal eternally, and so I can’t and shouldn’t look down on her in any way.â€?

    I do think this reflects her major point, but it is also rather disturbing to me. She shouldn’t look down on her in any way regardless of whether or not she’d received ordinances.The fact that this was a “realization” to her is revealing.

  25. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    “What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be.â€?
    Elder Eyring

    I think that says something interesting about the evolving LDS understanding of grace vs. works. I’ll have to think about it some more.

  26. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    Okay, he’s having an emotional experience. Wow, what a talk, guys.

  27. Wilfried on April 1, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    “I think it’s actually an uplifting message to be told that your poverty does not make you of any less worth than the rich.”

    Yes, in the 19th century, in a paternalistic society and a patronizing culture of rich versus poor. But in the 21st century? There are things so evident that it may become an insult to say them. Seems to me that some speakers are not yet sensitive enough to the international audience. They mean well, of course, but as to imagining how their words are understood thousands of miles away – no, not yet.

  28. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 1:22 pm

    I see it differently, Wilfried, I have always felt “less than” for my white trash childhood and spent the first half of my adult years making mistakes and trying to be better.

    I would have loved to hear somebody say this 30 years ago.

  29. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    I’m not sure how the 19th century differs from this one in the matters you are pointing out Wilfried. I thought these attitudes tended to transcend time. Care to elaborate?

  30. Wilfried on April 1, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I hear what you say, annegb. But the point is about material poverty in international perspective. We should be beyond the level where we say to a “poor” in Africa or India: “You’re poor, but, don’t worry, you have just as much worth as I have”.

  31. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I see. You’re hoping we can move beyond the passive encouragement phase, to the “let’s actively end these inequalities” phase.

    Wow, I hope Pres. Hinckley is doing alright. He’s spoken in just about every Gen. Conf. opening session for the past how many years?

  32. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    I’m struck so far by the invocation of Satan’s presence in every talk. I don’t usually thinik of “the evil one” as responsible for every problem in the world

  33. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    I can’t relate to your point, Wilfried. I grew up in abject poverty, often we didn’t have running water. I remember when I was 10 and my dad sent my grandma some money (which was truly shocking, he never supported us) and she used it to pipe in a shower on her back porch and get a hot water heater. Oh, bless my poor grandma.

    Before that we had to take baths in tin tubs, heated on the stove. Oh, the delicious feeling of hot water stinging our butts as we sat down slowly, breathing deeply. We didn’t have to take baths in other kids water, either, our grandma was good.

    No, I haven’t experienced the Sudan, but I’ve been pretty poor and shunned and treated very poorly as a result.

    Another thing I liked about it was the feeling that I, annegb, Joe screwed-up not-normal Mormon housewife, was just as good as she, big cheese. That’s what I got.

    But you know, I have to listen to it again. I’m taping it, I’ll listen and respond later to you, Melissa also Wilfried. Because I’m sensitive to the stuck up slight. I just didn’t hear it. I thought she was brave.

  34. Costanza on April 1, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    Melissa said “The fact that this was a ‘realization’ to her is revealing.” I couldn’t agree more.

  35. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Melissa,

    Actually, Eyring’s major point was that Satan can’t make you do anything and that all of us can affirmatively seek the Atonement.

  36. Julie M. Smith on April 1, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    And there goes home equity loans.

  37. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    The moment I heard Sister Beck start her talk, I cringed for all the chips accumulating on the shoulders of all those feminists obstinately anguishing over their womanhood.

    But lets keep things in perspective: By far the most disturbing thing about the conference is that it’s broadcast using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. This is an altogether closed and proprietary format. If Jesus were on the earth today, he’d embrace open standards.

  38. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    That’s just what I said, Julie!

    Melissa, you have a point.

  39. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    I think Pres. Monson is giving the talk Pres. Hinckley would have been giving right about now.

  40. Travis on April 1, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    I hope makafeke becomes a common term in Mormon parlance now. cool word.

  41. Mark IV on April 1, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    On a much lighter note, I’m sure all the 17yo priests I teach are very glad that bishop Burton has tacitly endorsed speeding!

  42. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    “Daniel followed not the dictates of an earthly king, but those of his Heavenly King.”

    What about obeying the laws of the land?

  43. Mark IV on April 1, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    DKL, # 37, that is why the speakers are warning us about the omnipresence of the Evil One. They don’t want to openly speak the name of Bill Gates.

  44. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    Wilfried, your criticism strikes me more as the kind of thing that prosperous people say on behalf of the poor than the kind of thing that the poor say on behalf of themselves.

  45. Wilfried on April 1, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for asking me to clarify, Seth (29). Indeed, no difference when it comes to the attitudes. Basically, they are timeless: we confirm all humans are equal. Of course. But the confirmation itself is often (unconsciously) paternalistic when one decides it still must be proclaimed – and painful when it is done from rich to poor. Reference to the 19th century: that period strongly conveys the start of charitative paternalism: e.g. rich children, once a year, would go to a destitute family and give clothes and food. “Because we’re equal…” Confirmation of superiority, implied humiliation of the poor. But no fundamental action to change the inequalities.

  46. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Travis: I hope makafeke becomes a common term in Mormon parlance now. cool word.

    Oh, please no!

  47. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Seth,

    Yes, that was Elder Eyring’s point. I was referring to President Monson.

    My point was that I’ve been surprised by the strong sense of Satan’s omnipresence that every single talk so far as evidenced. Of course, Mormon doctrine says that humans have power over the devil, but that’s not as interesting a to me as the fact that “the evil one,” “the adversay” or “Satan” has been referred to so often.

  48. Costanza on April 1, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    I am willing to believe that there isn’t really a typical “poor person” or “rich person” view. These are not monolithic groups, they are collections of idiosyncratic individuals who have, among a multiplicity of other traits, a certain level of economic power.

  49. Wilfried on April 1, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    I relate, annegb (33). As a child I have known the same circumstances as you describe. And lived for a few years in African slums.

  50. Pete on April 1, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Wilfried and Melissa:

    Isn’t it just a tad patronizing for a comparatively wealthy bloggers to take offense on behalf of those in a true state of poverty?

  51. Pete on April 1, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    “priesthood blessings are the great equalizer� would mean that gods have the power to determine what is equal for non-gods. What to do!?

  52. Wilfried on April 1, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    No, I don’t think so, Pete (50), because I know where I come from and because I have worked for some forty years with mostly poor or even destitute church members in small branches. Believe me, quite a few do not like it when an American tells them: “Well, in spite of your poverty, we’re equal”.

  53. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    Yeah … why can’t I run this on Real Player? Or something …

    Wilfried,

    The problem is that I still get a very palpable sense in my society that those who are ragged in appearance, unsuccessful in material gain, impoverished in thought, and lowly in action are still judged as filth by those who have been more successful.

    We still very much believe, as Peter, that those who suffer are suffering because they are inherently worthy of nothing better.

    Anyone who files for bankruptcy is a worthless cheat.
    Those on welfare are all shiftless freeloaders.
    Those who sue at law for compensation for horrendous injuries are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.
    If you are cheated by a fraudulent “Payday Loans,” you desereved it for being so stupid.
    I worked hard to earn what I have and nobody has the right to demand that I share it with people too lazy to get their own money.
    Etc.

    It’s not the assertions so much as the attitude behind them.

  54. Wilfried on April 1, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Absolutely, Seth (53), we’re in full agreement. And indeed, our exchanges go so fast, it is difficult to nuance and clarify well enough!

  55. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    Anyway, I’ve got a great idea for a thread: rather than argue about it, let’s just have a competition to see who has the best credentials to speak on behalf of the world’s poor.

    I’m reminded of an episode of “Politically Incorrect” where some rapper said Elvis Presley didn’t know what it was like to be poor. (Elvis, of course, was poorer than any of us can imagine living in the USA. He lived his childhood in a dirt floor shack with a roof that was not waterproof–no electricity or running water; truly 3rd world conditions.)

    Well, all of this talk of poverty make me hungry. I’m off to get a snack–probably some potato chips and chemically sweetened soda water that cost as much as tha average anual income in Rhodesia.

  56. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Melissa,

    I think it might be the fact that our society values being “open to other viewpoints” to the exclusion of all else. Tolerance is more important in contemporary society than almost any other value.

    In such a social climate, the concept of Satan would logically be minimized as quaint and irrelevant.

    “Satan” is a reminder that sometimes it is more important to be right than it is to be tolerant.

  57. Melissa Proctor on April 1, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Seth,

    I was thinking of the issue theologically in terms of the Mormon concept of sin.

    But, in terms of how the figure of Satan functions sociologically your theory that it’s a “reminder that sometimes it is more important to be right than it is to be tolerant” is an interesting one.

  58. Pete on April 1, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    I’m with DKL.

    Wilfried:

    Surely you don’t think that citing your credentials in knowing where you come from and working with the poor for 40 actually *weaken* the idea that it is paternalistic to speak for the poor? Do you really feel strongly that no one of economic means should espouse the idea that the poor are not equal in any sense that matters? On the flip side, is there a duty to reinforce in the minds of the poor that they are unequal?

  59. Neyst on April 1, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Seth, Real Player is an abomination. Uninstall it immediately. If you’re using Windows, replace with Media Player Classic or VLC.

    Who’s sick? All I heard of this session was the closing prayer. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

  60. Sarah on April 1, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    DKL, I think I would win — I’ve lived with my mother in her car, taking the bus back and forth across the city because the bus is one set price for as long as you sit on it and it’s being heated, no extra charge. I think that the poor have different opinions on this thing (depending, in part on culture and how their local priesthood leaders and missionaries treat them) and that most of them probably won’t actually find out about the content of this talk for another month or two (when the translations are published in the Liahona and the original English language stuff is read in RS/Priesthood.)

    I do have to say that more and more we seem to be looking for the bad in what church leaders are saying; I haven’t had a chance to listen to this session yet, but there must be some obviously good things about it. We’re all faithful Mormons, and we’ve been waiting six months for this… I mean, yikes.

    (I’m thinking of setting this session aside for my Russian translation challenge; I like working with Church’s foreign language materials when I haven’t read the English language original, because they’re always talking about the same general topics, but I can’t just match what they say to what I remember hearing/reading earlier, like I did when I tried to translate the “My Gospel Standards” pamphlet)

  61. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 1, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    I thought it was pretty awful- “priesthood blessings are the great equalizer� to me means that men have the power to chose who is equalized and who is not. This is inherently unequal, allowing one group to determine what is equal for another group.

    Men don’t choose who gets blessings — blessings are usually given as a result of a request…and men and women can request blessings equally.

  62. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 1, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    Melissa said “The fact that this was a ‘realization’ to her is revealing.� I couldn’t agree more.
    You can’t assume this was the first time it ever crossed her mind. Maybe she’s just sharing a reconfirmation of something she’s known for a long time. Seems a shame to rip apart what was a meaningful talk on many fronts.

  63. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 1, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    The most disturbing thing about the talk to me was the idea that because the woman living in poverty had been baptized and gone through the temple she was in a position of “equality� with Sister Beck. Such thinking might so easily lead to inaction in helping the poor.

    This comment is rather interesting (almost comical) given Bishop Burton’s talk! Don’t think we need to worry about forgetting about those in need…..

  64. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    Sarah: I do have to say that more and more we seem to be looking for the bad in what church leaders are saying

    Well said. You may be able to tell from the tone of my comments that I tend to hold this kind of fault-finding up for special scorn. There seems to be a preponderance of it among highly literate, cheese-eating crowed whose hobbies include communicating on consumer electronics items (computers) that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars using a medium (viz., the internet) that costs more to use than the annual income in many third world nations. (Oh, I forgot: Internet content is free, right?) No matter what their background, it kind of disgusts me to hear how readily they assume that poor people share their delicate sensibilities.

  65. mullingandmusing (m&m) on April 1, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    I do have to say that more and more we seem to be looking for the bad in what church leaders are saying; I haven’t had a chance to listen to this session yet, but there must be some obviously good things about it. We’re all faithful Mormons, and we’ve been waiting six months for this… I mean, yikes.
    Amen, Sarah. I’ve always thought we are supposed to come to the Conference table (ah, pun not originally intended!) prepared and listening for that which will be edifying and applicable to our lives, not looking for fault or weakness. I don’t imagine it’s easy to give a talk that is supposed to be applicable somehow to an extremely diverse, worldwide audience!

  66. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    Yes Sarah,

    We’ve been waiting six months …. to utterly rip it apart.

    Actually, it’s been kinda tame compared to last year where Elder Oaks got roasted for his remarks on female modesty and one of the hapless female leadership got ruthlessly critiqued on her hairstyle.

  67. Brad Kramer on April 1, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    I’m hoping that there’s nothing to be made of Pres Hinckley’s lack of participation during the 1st session. Doesn’t he usually get the party started by issuing some warm, salutary welcome?

    Also, was it just me, or was there a LOT of singing this session?

  68. Seth R. on April 1, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    You know what I miss about BYU?

    Hot Mormon girls.

  69. Gordon Smith on April 1, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    DKL: “There seems to be a preponderance of it among highly literate, cheese-eating crowed …”

    I don’t know why we have to bring cheese into this.

    Brad, I thought there was a lot of singing, too.

  70. Harold B. Curtis on April 1, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    A wonderful morning session!

    I have been challenged to be better, to live above the sordid siren voice’s of this world, which reverberate stereophonically all about us.

    Challenged to employ prayer to learn what I should do. Some answers require the wrestling and wresting in the night to pull down needed answers.

    Challenged to appreciate priesthood blessings in and around and through all who will receive them. I see the circumference of that power in the immediate blessing of my family and associates in the gospel.

    Challenged to not accept the advice of the adversary,

    Challenged to just say no to sin, and then go about doing good.

    Challenged to believe that I am a child of God, and that children of God behave after the pattern of the Gods, including lifting the poor, the sick, infirm, fatherless, motherless, and those blinded by priestcraft whether they be ignorant or intellectual.

    Challenged to not judge my fellow man, for I be one of them.

    Challenged to rid myself of anything that is remotely pornographic. that includes the obvious filth as well as the seductive filth of the soaps, the afternoon talks, the evening commercial programming, all with its violence, abomination, and earthy realism that leaves little in the way of hope for goodness and mercy in this life.

    Challenged to participate in the global outreach of mercy that is the message of the Messiah who has come in the dispensation of the fullness of times.

    Harold B Curtis

  71. Kimball Hunt on April 1, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    When I read “sister Beck” I envisioned sister Martha Nibley Beck up there at the podium: an image in the tabernacle though, as my imagination’s dated.

  72. annegb on April 1, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Well, I wish somebody would explain to me the appeal of brie and camembert because I bought it and it was a big thrill.

    Sarah, I defer to you. I was going to say, I win, but I never lived in a car. I did miss that special treat of living.

    I watched part of Sister Beck’s talk again and I liked what she had to say. But I’m not a feminist. I thought it was a wonderful treatment of her topic.

  73. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    Gordon: I don’t know why we have to bring cheese into this.

    Haven’t you heard? “Blessed are the cheese makers, for they will be called sons of God.” It’s from the Sermon on the Mount, I think.

    Seth R: it’s been kinda tame compared to last year where Elder Oaks got roasted for his remarks on female modesty and one of the hapless female leadership got ruthlessly critiqued on her hairstyle.

    Well that’s for sure. I remember that thread well. It’s right here at BCC. It was pretty sad stuff. (For the record, I vehemently objected to that, too.) One unfortunate thing about the bloggernacle is that it exaggerates the tendency for people to view dissent as sophisticated, and sometimes that transforms even staunchly faithful members into mealy-mouthed critics.

  74. Eric Russell on April 1, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    Is that why Miranda set up the true General Conference thread?

  75. A. Person on April 1, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    DKL-

    as a former employee of the Church’s IT dept, I can only say that the new director of the dept is very fond of Open Source products, and is pushing the Church in that direction. A lot of the Church’s new internet apps are being built using open source tools. In the interim, we are stuck with the telestial windows media player….

  76. chronicler on April 1, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    “priesthood blessings are the great equalizer�

    Am I the only one who sees this statement as not exactly interpreted correctly in the above comments? I believe the intent was that the priesthood has been restored to the earth – we can all participate in the benefits of this great blessing- not so much a nuts and bolts statement of how a man adminsters the a priesthood blessing.

    But then again, maybe I inserted my own interpretation while listening. I like mine better anyway.

  77. DKL on April 1, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    A. Person, that’s really great to here. (But just to make sure you know, I don’t really hate Microsoft all that much–it’s all hyperbole.)

  78. ESO on April 1, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    DKL claimed:
    I’m off to get a snack–probably some potato chips and chemically sweetened soda water that cost as much as tha average anual income in Rhodesia.

    While Rhodesia rolls off the tongue nicely, it no longer exists. I bet Zimbabwe’s annual income is low enough to make the comment witty, though.

  79. Ben H on April 2, 2006 at 1:23 am

    (Re: 19 etc.) I was also perplexed by Sister Beck’s talk. I wasn’t sure her use of the notion of equality was going to persuade her intended audience. Of course, I’m not really sure who her intended audience is.

    But I didn’t think she said “I can’t and shouldn’t look down on her in any way.” I didn’t think “looking down” or not was the point at all. I thought she was saying, in effect, “Men and women are equal in God’s eyes. And so are rich and poor. Is the fact that some are rich and some are poor some sort of evidence that they are not equal in God’s eyes? No. They both have what matters most.” This is a very different point.

    I of course don’t have the text before me, so I’m taking a risk saying this, but I am actually pretty surprised that people would attribute to her the thought about “looking down” or not, especially to the point of having an extended conversation about it (interesting as that conversation was!) because that is a pretty obnoxious thought, and we should listen more carefully before attributing it to her (wrongly, by my memory).

  80. Ben H on April 2, 2006 at 1:32 am

    I realize of course that saying “Rich and poor are equal in God’s eyes” can be an awkward thing to say when one is rich. One winces in anticipation of hearing, “Easy for you to say,” much as one would wince upon realizing how rash one has been if one were rash enough to say, “Men and women are equal in God’s eyes,” when one is a man, trying to counter the suggestion that men enjoy some preferred status. But the freighting of “Rich and poor are equal in God’s eyes” is very different from the freighting of the thought imputed to Sister Beck in #19 and so forth.

  81. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 2:16 am

    ESO, the use of the defunct name Rhodesia was part of the joke…

  82. ESO on April 2, 2006 at 9:47 am

    Of course

  83. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    I just read this in USA Today online (courtesy a link at DMI).

    The 95-year-old [Hinckly] was scheduled to give the opening address in the [Saturday] morning [Session of Conference], but James E. Faust, one of two other men in the church’s top leadership, led the proceedings instead.

    No official reason was given for the change, although church spokesmen said Hinckley was conserving his energy.

    Did anyone else know this?

  84. jjohnsen on April 2, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Well people were commenting that he usually opens the conference, this reporter must have decided to find out why (although it seems obvious).

  85. Bob Caswell on April 2, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    “You may be able to tell from the tone of my comments that I tend to hold this kind of fault-finding up for special scorn.”

    How clever you are, DKL, only finding fault in others who find fault. No doubt you are exempt from any of your “special scorn” since your fault-finding is limited to those that blog. I’m sure “…the tendency for people to view dissent as sophisticated, and sometimes that transforms even staunchly faithful members into mealy-mouthed critics” in no way can refer to you either.

    You win.

  86. Kimball Hunt on April 2, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Oooooh! Laughs–

    So is this is the spot where those listening, after a short pause, do catcalls, in anticipation of this sociological display of testonerone’s lead to a returned verbal shove with it’s, as hoped, escalating into a full fledged intellectual fight? As, ‘caus, whenever “cavalier gentility” is breeched, a gentleman must tussle to guard one’s prideful position (as in Prussian military boarding schools, where knife scars from dueling were a mark of manly distinction . . . )

  87. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Bob Caswell: How clever you are, DKL, only finding fault in others who find fault.

    The only thing we have to fault is fault itself!

    Bob Caswell: No doubt you are exempt from any of your “special scorn� since your fault-finding is limited to those that blog

    No doubt you are incorrect, as your derisive tone well illustrates. Alas, Bob, I can only choose the objects of my own scorn, not those of others.

    Bob Caswell: You win.

    LOL. Well call me the comeback kid! This time last year, you were saying “you are way out of your league here.” And now, thanks to you, Bob, I arise victorious! Who’d have thought?

  88. Bob Caswell on April 2, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    Oh, well, you’re not out of your league here at T&S… I was referring to BCC in that other thread of a year ago. Don’t do your victory dance quite yet; there is still much to conquer.

  89. queuno on April 2, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    My father grew up in 1940s and 1950s SLC, where his family was ostracized by their ward because they were poor. So poor, that everyone had multiple jobs and couldn’t attend any meetings. But rather than help them, they were continually told that they weren’t being obedient enough, and that was why they were poor. As a kid, we were “comfortable”, but on the low side of middle class. I constantly heard in Church how if you obey the commandments, you’ll be rich.

    I think the message about blessings in spite of poverty is a veiled shot over the bow of the RICH in the Church, not a condescension towards the poor.

    We are still a very “class-based” Church in North America when it comes to income.

  90. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    Bob Caswell: Oh, well, you’re not out of your league here at T&S… I was referring to BCC in that other thread of a year ago. Don’t do your victory dance quite yet; there is still much to conquer.

    Please, Bob. Blogging may be a contact sport, but it is not a competition.

  91. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    queuno, you’re definitely right about the church being altogether too class-based, and it’s not just in Utah. I have yet to attend a ward where one could not predict who is friends with whom based on their income level–even in geographically large wards where age and locational proximity do not correlate with income. The problem isn’t that people are patronizing–it’s that they’re unsocial.

    Where there is a critical mass of different income groups, the result is not the isolation that you experience. This results is a kind of congregational fragmentation. I know a relief society president who won’t have working women in her presidency–an exclusion that probably just makes highly accomplished professionals roll their eyes, but one that is more likely to be felt by the struggling family.

    I remember at a party hearing people joke about who was going to be the new counselor in a bishopric. One person brought the house down when he said of one candidate, “He’s white, he’s wealthy, he’s from Utah–he’d make a great counselor!” This was funny because all too often it’s true. (In this case, the man in question was, in fact, chosen to be counselor.)

    There are cases of judgmental exclusion like you mention, queuno. More often, I think that even non-judgmental people fall into the exclusionary trap just because of social discomfort. People don’t know how to talk with people from different backgrounds. I’ve even see people defend this by just saying, “Hey, these are my friends. So what?” But there are plenty of difficult things in the gospel–stretching our social circle shouldn’t really be the half of it.

  92. Seth R. on April 2, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Ooo, ooo!

    Are we baiting DKL?

    Can I play too?

  93. queuno on April 2, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    I wasn’t trying to bait anyone, except those who think that somehow the poor would be offended. If anything, it’s the middle-class-and-above in the Church who should be chastened. I saw a great marquee on a Baptist church that read, “The Lord measures our gifts by what’s left, not what’s given.” We should take that counsel.

  94. Seth R. on April 2, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    queuno, I was talking about the repartee between DKL and Bob.

  95. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    Seth R., I’ll have you know that baiting me is no mere game. It’s a serious business. So, no. You can’t “play.” But you’re welcome to participate if you’re willing to treat it with the requisite level of solemnity.

    queuno, I agree with you completely.

  96. loyd on April 2, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    since when did god look upon the rich and poor equally? i’ve heard plenty of good about the poor from god. since when did he have anything good to say about the rich?

  97. Bob Caswell on April 2, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    “Please, Bob. Blogging may be a contact sport, but it is not a competition.”

    This coming from DKL? The king of one-up-manship? Right. Interestingly enough, aren’t most — if not all — contact sports competitions? But back to the point at hand, so you see Mo’ blogging as a contact sport but not a competition? I find that fascinating. Can I quote you on that one down the road?

    Seth, man, join in the fun. We could do tag team.

  98. Julie M. Smith on April 2, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    If this conversation continues in this vein, I’m going to close comments and sentence y’all to go listen to Elder Wood’s talk.

    Bad enough that I have to put up with my kids doing this in real life . . .wish I could put them in moderation as easily as I can (and will) y’all . . .

  99. Bob Caswell on April 2, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    O.k., Julie, I’ll plug back into the matrix and get back to ignoring any inconsistencies in DKL’s arguments. That sort of thing is usually his job, and I realize it gets messy if anyone else comes into his territory.

  100. DKL on April 2, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    Bob Caswell, I’m disappointed to learn of your tin ear for sarcasm…

  101. Adam Greenwood on April 3, 2006 at 12:00 am

    “The most disturbing thing about the talk to me was the idea that because the woman living in poverty had been baptized and gone through the temple she was in a position of “equalityâ€? with Sister Beck. Such thinking might so easily lead to inaction in helping the poor. They have the most important things, after all. Running water isn’t that important as long as someone has received certain ordinances, right? ”

    Get back to me, Melissa P., when you have any evidence that Sister Beck feels that way. Discarding the hermeneutic of suspicion, its pretty clear that the equality Sister Beck has in mind is equality in the sight of God–Sister Beck’s riches aren’t a sign that God likes her better. Now, it may be true that Sister Beck would be more likely to help the poor if she thought that their poverty was a mark of their spiritual inferiority in the sight of God, but I bet you not.

  102. Adam Greenwood on April 3, 2006 at 12:01 am

    “I thought it was pretty awful- “priesthood blessings are the great equalizerâ€? to me means that men have the power to chose who is equalized and who is not. This is inherently unequal, allowing one group to determine what is equal for another group. ”

    I am unaware of any right or authority on my part to refuse to give blessings.

  103. Bob Caswell on April 3, 2006 at 12:01 am

    Ah, I fell into the misunderstand-the-sarcasm trap. I suppose I am a bit rusty…

  104. Adam Greenwood on April 3, 2006 at 12:04 am

    “But the point is about material poverty in international perspective. We should be beyond the level where we say to a “poorâ€? in Africa or India: “You’re poor, but, don’t worry, you have just as much worth as I haveâ€?.”

    We should be, but we aren’t. We should also be beyond pride, jealousy, fear, apathy, and on, and on, but we’ll get a lot of talks on those subjects–some of the speakers will even admit to episodes of them–and rightly so.

    If a speaker talked about having racist attitudes at some point in their life, and then explained how God helped them move out of them, we would condemn the speaker on the grounds that in this day and age racial equality is a given?

  105. Adam Greenwood on April 3, 2006 at 12:10 am

    Melissa P.,

    I was struck by the multiple references to the devil and his works too. Interesting.

    Wilfried D.,

    ” Believe me, quite a few do not like it when an American tells them: “Well, in spite of your poverty, we’re equalâ€?. ”

    So what? If its true, its true.

  106. DKL on April 3, 2006 at 12:13 am

    Adam, do you not blog on Sundays? (or did they bring you in for cleanup?)

  107. Adam Greenwood on April 3, 2006 at 12:31 am

    Its still Sunday here, DKL–but we’ve got family close by and I talk to Grandma every Sunday evening and things, so I don’t get my oar in until late. What I have given up on is blogging while at work.

    By the way, I appreciate your defending some of the talks at General Conference against the nitpicking. I don’t think its necessary to see them as masterpieces of literature or theology to think they’re not downright evil.

    Maybe even beneficial sometimes.