Since we’re not doing open threads during the sessions of conference, we’re trying to start comment threads at the end of the session, so that once you have heard and thought a little about the entire session and the individual talks.
So take your notes during the sessions, and let us know after the session is over.
Here’s a few thoughts on Saturday Afternoon’s session of conference. I’d welcome your thoughts also.
- President Boyd K. Packer — Talk might be titled “Advice for the Aaronic Priesthood.” At least in the beginning of his talk, I noticed that his cadence seemed to be off, almost like he was short of breath! He also seemed to be switching between the two teleprompters on each side very frequently, as if the font size was set very large. I don’t remember if he has said in previous talks that he had polio as a child — I thought the story was very personal and interesting, especially the overtones of the inferiority he must have felt because of subsequent physical inadequacies. This explains, I think, the joke he told about the man with the inferiority complex who went to the doctor only to be told, “you don’t have a complex, you are inferior.” — A joke which while funny, might make some people uncomfortable, IMO. I was a little unclear about what he meant when he said young men need to “treasure and protect the masculine…” Was that a euphamism for the male sex organ? or a suggestion to avoid emascualtion? I also liked his story of getting into the Air Force as a pilot and eventually finding out that the whole reason was so that he could teach the gospel in Japan. He did make an economic reference, saying “We moved from a generation of ease and entertainment into a generation of hard work…” — well and poetically put.
- Bishop Richard C. Edgley — This is Your Phone Call-i.e., the phone call to step in and help because a disaster is upon us. Elder Edgley tried to communicate a sense that in our individual wards and branches, stakes and districts, we need to step up and help just like the Church has done for so many physical disasters. “The economic effects of this store are being felt in every ward and every stake in the Church.” (Good advice, considering its easy to think that this is somehow only affecting your nation or city). I liked the fact that he then gave an example of a ward who set up a member in business — recognition that sometimes more unusual solutions are required than simply “get a job,” especially when for many there is simply not work available — you have to make your own work in some cases. What was missing from his account of the ward doing this was any suggestion that they investigated whether or not there was a market for the business. Presumably they did so, at least unconsciously.
- Elder Claudio R. M. Costa — Covered four areas where we have responsibility: 1. Family, 2. Employer, 3. Lord’s work, and 4. Self. It is interesting to note that the underlying quote says “Lord’s work” instead of “Church.” In discussing each of these areas, however, he failed to talk much about responsibility to self.
- Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf — Another outstanding talk by Elder Uchtdorf. He told the story of Eastern Airlines Flight 401, which crashed December 29, 1972 because of the crew’s obsession with fixing a burned out indicator light. (See this description of the crash). Elder Uchtdorf said we do similar things when we “focus on something that mattered at the moment instead of what matters most.” But, he adds, most of the time it isn’t that we fail to realize the different priorities, but that “our weakness is in failing to align our actions with our [knowledge].” “We need balance in life.” He went on to talk about the important role that Church service plays, telling the story of Nehemiah, who focused on building the walls of Jerusalem instead of paying heed to his enemines, who claimed they wanted to parley. Nehemiah responded, “I’m doing a great work and can not come down [to parley].”
- Elder Henry B. Eyring — Told the story of two U.S. Medal of Honor awardees who lost their lives trying to rescue their fellow rangers in the incident widely known as “Black Hawk Down” (Both a book and a movie tell the story). He used the story as a jumping off point to discuss the spiritual warfare we are in, and our obigation as priesthood holders to fight for the spiritual salvations of others, especially those we have been assigned to home teach. He said, “Your happiness and those of whom you served are bound together.” [BTW, anyone know why one of his eyebrows is higher than the other?]
- President Thomas S. Monson — Stating that “This is not a time for fear, brethren, but rather a time for faith,” President Monson gave three suggestions for facing our lives today: Study diligently, Pray fervently, and live righteously. He gave examples of each. When talking about scripture study, he suggested that daily scripture study was important, observing, “Crash courses are not nearly as effective [as daily scripture study].” In talking about prayer, he refered to the sacred grove as, “That grove called sacred,” which begs the question, is it the sacred grove because we gave it that name (as his statement implies), or is it the sacred grove because it has been made holy somehow?
During President Monson’s talk, an amusing, and somewhat informative, reaction came. He told the story of a Daisy Ogondo (spelling?) of New York City, who, through prayer, managed to find two Elders. Since we are in New York City, our congregation was excited to see New York mentioned. But when a photo of Daisy and the two elders was displayed on screen, one of the Elders in the congregation said aloud, “Hey, he was my companion!” Evidently the incident President Monson described happened within the past few years, and one of the Elders involved is related to Elder Hales. The member lives in the Bronx, according to the missionaries.