Worst General Conference posts, ranked

General Conference begins in two days. I’m looking forward to it, but not as much to the online responses. You would think that members of a church founded on the concept that God talks to us today through living prophets would have learned to do better over the last couple centuries, but we are clearly still a work in progress.

What I’m specifically not looking forward to is, in ranked order:

3. The fashion critiques. Fortunately, these have gotten rarer, but back in the day, when live blogging conference was a thing, pointing out poor color matches, failed hairstyles, and the crushing sameness of general authority necktie knots passed as a meaningful contribution. Please, let this tradition stay dead.

2. The Monday morning quarterbacking. Sometimes it’s even Sunday evening. Sustaining someone as a prophet, seer, and revelator should probably imply some period of time for contemplation of the possibility that his message actually does apply to you in some way, and then some more time to consider that someone else needed to hear the message even if you didn’t, before rushing online to explain how the words of the prophet are WRONG and OFFENSIVE. A week? Is that too much to ask? Even if there are historians who disagree with the details or interpretation of some anecdote, a medium-committed disciple can usually discover and appreciate the main point of the talk, or find other value in it.

1. Conference rumors. I don’t recall seeing these ahead of General Conference until relatively recently, but they’ve become more common with the heightened pace of innovation under Russell M. Nelson. It’s a natural response; people hear things and want to know what others have heard.

And I hate it. I can’t say it’s inherently wrong, although I suspect it’s unhealthy. I’m committed to following our living prophet, but it’s already hard enough to keep up these days (one more long-standing policy changed after I drafted this post and before I got a chance to post it) without having to imagine coffee making a comeback, or polygamy. The prophet of my fears and the prophet of my fantasies are distractions at best, and obscure paths into the mists of darkness at worst. And the prophets of your fears and fantasies, and everyone else’s on top of that? It’s much, much worse. You can post your rumors if you want. I probably can’t look away if you do. But I will be humming tunelessly, clenching and unclenching my teeth, and laughing nervously as I read.

13 comments for “Worst General Conference posts, ranked

  1. Dsc
    October 3, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    I heard a rumor that women will be able to serve as witnesses to ordinances. Also, I hear that a new youth program may be rolling out as soon as next year. Am I doing this right?

  2. ji
    October 3, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t like conference rumors, either (but DSC’s are fine). But we have to be honest: President Nelson smiles at us and teases us about waiting for the next change — I think he actually contributes to more rumors, or excitement about rumors. I’m okay with his teasing, but we cannot blame members for creating rumors in light of that teasing.

  3. Lcn
    October 3, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Plural marriage is coming back? Should I start up a new online dating site called pluralsaints dot com to be ready for the announcement?

  4. Rockwell
    October 3, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    I love conference rumors. I have no qualms about Monday morning quarterbacking. But I’m not at all interested in fashion critiques.

    Also, I’m not the target audience for this blog.

    See y’all later, I hope. This path has gotten dark and it might be hard to find my way now that I’ve lost my moral compass.

  5. SDS
    October 3, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Rockwell, I hope you watch the conference this weekend. Some of the talks will be better than others– more timely, more insightful, more inspiring. But whether a person is a church member or not, and whether one agrees with all of the theology or not, conference can be pretty valuable in setting/correcting//finding one’s moral compass.

  6. October 3, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    It’s over a decade old, but I think I know of a General Conference discussion you’ll appreciate, Jonathan.

    https://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2008/10/04/general-conference-closed-thread/

    You’re welcome.

  7. Sean Grimes
    October 4, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Does anyone know why Jonathan is always so angry?

  8. ji
    October 4, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I wouldn’t use “angry” to describe the original poster. But I think it is normal for one to feel a sense of dismay or even defensiveness when others make light of things one sees as sacred, when they point the finger and wag the head at those one is trying to see as the Lord’s servants. It’s a human emotion. But we have to be careful with this human emotion, as we are mindful of the counsel in Proverbs 9:7 and Matthew 5:44. Sometimes, it can be hard to be a Christian.

  9. Roger Hansen
    October 4, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    I would like them to shake up the speakers at GC a little. More women, a scholar from another religion, a New Testament authority, a Church historian, a scientist, etc. No silly assigned topics. The Gospel is suppose to include all truth.

  10. Old Man
    October 4, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Fashion-wise, I would be thrilled if leaders dumped neckties… or at least white shirts.

  11. ji
    October 4, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    I watched some General Conference videos from the 1970s — the men in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (as it was called then) all wore matching colored shirts and matching suits and so forth.

  12. GEOFF -AUS
    October 5, 2019 at 2:52 am

    I appreciate the critiques of the various talks because I am in a time zone 8 hours ahead of Utah. So we have next Sunday to watch conference. We are not a week behind we are 8 hours ahead.

  13. Bruce
    October 5, 2019 at 9:42 am

    I found (and forgot to bookmark) a website with somewhat educated guesses as to where the next temples might be announced at upcoming General Conferences. That was actually fun because there was a lot of data and history about church populations in various areas, much of which I had no clue about.
    But rumors? Most of them don’t reach my part of the world.

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