Category: General Conference

Laughing through General Conference

No one comes to General Conference for the jokes. And yet, some of the conference moments I remember most clearly involve laughter. In 1997, after Elder Nelson gave a laudatory talk about President Hinckley, President Hinckley took the stand and said, “I thought we were conducting General Conference. It’s turned out to be a funeral.” He went on to challenge Elder Nelson to a duel in the basement of the Tabernacle. Later in the session, he postponed the duel. It was a fabulous moment in conference history. What does humor in General Conference do? First, the spiritual tide of General Conference can feel overwhelming at times and humor can break it up, making it easier to be attentive to the rest of the counsel we’re receiving. Second, it can teach a subtle lesson, as with the humility implicit in President Hinckley’s embarrassment at being praised. Third, it can make a story that teaches a lesson more memorable, as when President Tad Callister, at the most recent conference, recounted [and all the links in this post go straight to the laugh-inducing moment, so click with caution] the time his aged mother told him she was delivering food to the elderly, to which Brother Callister thought, “Mother, you are the elderly.” The joke makes the story – fundamentally about lifelong service – stand out more. With that (limited) justification, I propose the General Conference Mirth Index (yes, it’s the GCMI). To construct…

Sunday Afternoon Session of General Conference

Welcome to the fourth or fifth or sixth session of General Conference, depending on how you count. Text in quotation marks are verbatim quotes but not 100% guaranteed; other text is my summary of their remarks. [My comments inside brackets.] Music by the Choir. President Eyring conducting (he thinks it’s the fifth session), President Monson presiding. Song, prayer.

Sunday Morning Session of General Conference

We spent yesterday listening to General Conference while assembling IKEA furniture in the hopes that the spirit of the meeting would help reduce the desire to curse associated with strange pictorial instructions and screw heads that really want to strip. It went as well as could be expected. This morning I read about theology, love and literature (Alan Jacobs), cleaned some, made tea for my sick husband, harvested from the garden to make omelets (squash and onions, parsley and sage, tomatoes, with mushrooms and provolone not from the garden) for a late breakfast. And now I’m ready for conference to start.   President Uchtdorf conducting.   Pres Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor, 1st Presidency   Many are seeking revelation. We need a constantly renewed stream…a continuing blessing of communication with God. Quote from Packer: Revelation continues in the church Process of revelation begins, ends (?), and continues as we receive personal revelation. Example: Lehi’s dream and Nephi’s confirming revelation. A principle of revelation that the parents’ revelation continues in the child. Chokes up during story about his mother. “I have tried to go and do as she hoped I would.” (The clear love and respect for his mother 40 years departed is touchingly evident.) The value of revelation depends on those being led receiving confirming revelation. Example of Grand Teton Dam breaking in Idaho. Leader of federal disaster response team deferred to the stake president who was organizing the local…

GenCon: Priesthood Session

Welcome to T&S’ coverage of the Priesthood Session of General Conference. We welcome your comments. . Chorus: Rise Up O Men of God President Henry B Eyring is conducting this session. Chorus: Medley of Primary Songs Elder Quentin L. Cook — Choose Wisely “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?” We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. My concern is not only about the big tipping point decisions, but also the middle ground – the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society. Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and…

GenCon: Sunday Afternoon Session

Welcome to T&S’ fifth and final round of coverage of General Conference. We welcome your comments. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is conducting this session of Conference. Chorus: Sweet is the Work. Prayer: ? Chorus: I Stand All Amazed. President Boyd K. Packer — The Witness “Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty, for it had been given to me.” “Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering. These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This provides us with instruction from on high as we learn precept upon precept.” “Parenthood is a sacred privilege and, depending upon faithfulness, it can be an eternal blessing. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home.” “After all the years that I have lived and taught and served, after the millions of miles I have traveled around the world, with all that I have experienced, there is one great truth…

GenCon: Sunday Morning Session

Welcome to T&S’ fourth round of coverage of General Conference. We welcome your comments. Chorus: Come We that Love the Lord President Henry B. Eyring is conducting this session of Conference. Chorus: On This Day of Joy and Gladness Prayer: Élder L. Whitney Clayton Chorus: Let Us All Press On President Dieter F. Uchtdof — Grateful in Any Circumstance “There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful.” “Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being “thankful for things” we focus on being “thankful in our circumstances”—whatever they may be.” “When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.” “We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?” “In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life,…

Priesthood Session: A Personal View

I attended priesthood session at my local chapel. About sixty men and boys in attendance. One woman. It was snowing when I left home. I decided to reward my choosing the right with good consequences, so I stopped by my local Wendy’s and bought a small vanilla Frosty. On the way I listened to a few minutes of my current audio CD, Neptune’s Inferno, about the US Navy at Guadalcanal. Right now (in the CD) the US heavy cruiser San Francisco (which survived the fight) is trading fire with the Japanese battleship Hiei (which didn’t) in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. There were a dozen ships on each side in a wild, confusing night melee. A lot of good young men on both sides died that night, November 12, 1942.

GenCon: Saturday Afternoon Session

Welcome to round two of T&S sort-of live coverage of General Conference. President Eyring conducted this afternoon session with President Monson (in attendance) presiding. Opening prayer by Ian S. Ardern, a Seventy, and music by an Institute Choir from Orem, Utah. Direct quotations of a speaker are given in quotation marks; other text represents my own summary.

GenCon: Saturday Morning Session

Welcome to T&S sort-of live coverage of General Conference. President Uchtdorf conducted this opening session with President Monson (in attendance) presiding. Opening prayer by Carl B. Cook, a Seventy, and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Direct quotations of a speaker are given in quotation marks or blockquote form; other text represents my own summary of their remarks or, where noted, my own comments.

Sunday Afternoon Session

Conductinng: Elder Henry B. Eyring Elder Quentin L. Cook: Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware Of Bondage Turning from the worship of the true and living God and worshipping false gods like wealth and fame and engaging in immoral and unrighteous conduct result in bondage in all its insidious manifestations. These include spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage and sometimes bring destruction. Bondage, subjugation, addictions, and servitude come in many forms.  They can be literal physical enslavement, but can also be loss or impairment of moral agency that can impede our progress. Addictions that impair agency, contradict moral beliefs, and destroy good health cause bondage.  The impact of drugs and alcohol, pornography, gambling, financial subjugation and other afflictions impose on those in bondage and on society a burden of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to quantify. Addictions or predilections that while not inherently evil can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives.  These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others. The most universal subjugation in our day, as it has been throughout history, is ideology or political beliefs that are inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Substituting the philosophies of men for gospel truth can lead us away from the simplicity of the Savior’s message. Gospel truths are often rejected or distorted to make them intellectually more appealing or compatible with current…

Sunday Morning Session

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducting. President Henry B. Eyring: To My Grandchildren I have seen those same tears of happiness in the eyes of someone who recounted the words of an apostle of God:  He had said to her, after a searching and tender interview: “I forgive you in the name of the Lord. He will forgive you in His own time and in His own way.” And He did.

Priesthood Session

President Henry B. Eyring conducting. Elder L. Tom Perry: The Doctrines and Principles Contained in the Articles of Faith This doctrine is to the Church like a battery is to a cell phone.  When you remove the battery from your cell phone it becomes useless. A church in which true doctrine is no longer taught is similarly useless. It cannot guide us back to our Heavenly Father and our eternal home. 

Saturday Afternoon Session

President Uchtdorf conducting. President Henry B. Eyring: Sustaining votes of the General Authorities and Church Officers

Saturday Morning Session

President Eyring conducted this opening session. President Thomas S. Monson: Welcome to Conference I am happy to announce that two weeks ago the membership of the Church reached fifteen million. It has scarcely been one year since I announced the lowering of the age of missionary service. Since that time, the number of full-time missionaries serving has increased from 58,500 in October 2012 to 80,333 today. What a tremendous and inspiring response we have witnessed! Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.

Sunday Afternoon Session

President Uchtdorf is conducting this final session of Conference, with music by the Tabernacle Choir. Invocation by another female, Sister Stephens — they seem to be everywhere this Conference! Benediction by a male Seventy. Direct quotes of a speaker are in quotation marks, otherwise the text is my summary of their remarks.

Sunday Morning Session

President Henry B. Eyring is conducting this session of General Conference. Choir — Go Forth in Faith Conducting — President Henry B. Eyring Choir — Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise Invocation — Elder Steven E. Snow President Dieter F. Uchtdorf — “The Hope of God’s Light” It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. …But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances,  God promises the hope of His light–He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness. We don’t have to wait to cross the finish lines to receive God’s blessings. In fact, the heavens begin to part and the blessings of heaven begin to distill upon us with the very first steps we take toward the light. …The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come. I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed. Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ. I bear witness thatt darkness cannot stand before the brilliant light of the Son of the Living God! Choir — Come Follow Me Elder Neal L. Anderson — “It’s a Miracle” The Thursday following conference I was assigned to recommend missionary calls to the First Presidency. I was amazed to see the applications of 18-year-old men and…

Priesthood Session

President Uchtdorf conducted the priesthood session, which included a number of strong and inspiring talks. Choir — Arise, Oh God, and Shine Invocation — Elder Ronald W. Rasband Choir — Nearer My God to Me Elder Robert D. Hales — “Stand Strong in Holy Places” Brethren, if we are faithful in the priesthood, this armor will be given to us as a gift from God. We need this armor! If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you will find that you are not where you should be. As we press forward along the path, we build progressive spiritual strength —strength in using our agency to act for ourselves. In the strength of the Lord we are able to stand against any philosophy or creed that denies the Savior and contradicts the great, eternal plan of happiness for all of God’s children. We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of that eternal plan. Elder Ted R. Callister — “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy” The Priesthood in the boy is just as powerful as the Priesthood in the man when exercised in righteousness. Why is vision so critical? Because with increased vision comes increased motivation. [Quoting Harold B. Lee] “If you want to get revelation, do your homework.” Elder David L. Beck — “Your Sacred Duty to Minister” There are thousands of…

Saturday Afternoon Session

President Eyring conducted the afternoon session. President Uchtdorf read a long list of sustainings and releases, notably releasing President Dalton of the Young Women and calling a new President (Bonnie Lee Green Oscarson) and counselors. The annual audit report and statistical report were read: there are now 3005 stakes and 347 missions. In what follows, direct quotations of a speaker are given in quotation marks; quoted scriptures cited where possible; and other text represents my own summary of the speakers remarks. I will try posting updates after each speaker this session.

Saturday Morning Session

President Uchtdorf conducted this opening session. Opening prayer by a (male) Seventy and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Direct quotations of a speaker (based on my real-time listening) are given in quotation marks; other text represents my own summary of their remarks.

My Notes on Priesthood Session, October 2012

I had planned on giving a brief summary of Priesthood Session tonight; unfortunately, some family/logistical issues kept me from getting to our Church building until well after the session had started, so I’m afraid I missed the first speaker. And I’d planned on bringing my iPad to take notes on, but I accidentally left it at home, and was left with my phone for note-taking. But, in spite of the technical difficulties I faced, it was an enlightening and uplifting session of Conference. Below are my notes, with only the smallest edits for clarity and to fix some autocorrect problems (and virtually no editorial content from me): Bishop Stevenson: I came in as he was telling a story about a college kid (I think) in Japan who was at a party when somebody pulled out the marijuana. He had the courage to leave the party, along with one of his friends. There will be times when you have to stand up for right in front of your friends. But there will also be times you have to stand up for your beliefs in front of a computer screen Reward for courage: happiness and joy. Courage to say no, to say yes. Elder Perkins: Oath and Covenant of Melchizedek Priesthood. Caution signs. “Beware concerning yourselves.” Have you been stunned by the falling of a respected priesthood brother? Deep personal conversion, strong family support: twin guardrails to protect us. 1. Pray always…

An Immodest Proposal

As Sarah noted, Saturday and Sunday bring us our Fall semiannual General Conference.

As part of our twice-yearly ritual, we’ll hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir up to three times: one session of Conference Saturday, one session Sunday, and the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast before the first Sunday session.

A Mormon Holiday

Sometimes I am a little envious of my friends whose religions involve a year full of meaningful religious holidays that strengthen and define them both culturally and spiritually. Ramadan, for instance, is a sort of month-long holiday for Muslims, complete with special foods and lots of family time. When we lived in Tunisia, I was amazed at the community cohesiveness produced by a holiday that disrupted people’s lives so much for so long. Not much work of any kind was accomplished during the month of Ramadan, but family ties were strengthened, religious convictions deepened, and there was a palpable feeling that everyone was in this whole fasting thing together, and would help each other make it through. When I was growing up, our next door neighbors were Jewish, and sometimes invited us over to share their holidays with them. One of the most fun times I remember was eating potato pancakes for Purim, and then listening to the story of Esther, and all of us children stamping our feet and shouting to drown out the name of dastardly Haman. My Catholic homeschooling friends have a whole liturgical year of Saints’ days and other religious festivals, with their accompanying centuries-old traditions, that they work seamlessly into their curriculum. It seems to lend a sort of holiness to everyday life for them to always be remembering and commemorating saints and spiritual events. Like other Christians, we Mormons celebrate Christmas and Easter, both lovely holidays…

Sunday Afternoon Session

President Uchtdorf conducted the closing session of General Conference. Direct quotations of a speaker’s words (based on my notes) are given in quotes; other text is my summary of the remarks given. Any text in italics represents my own editorial comment.

Sunday Morning Session

President Eyring conducted the Sunday morning session, featuring talks by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Sister Julie B. Beck, Elder D. Todd Christofferson and President Thomas S. Monson. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; all other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Parenthetical comments and discussion notes at the end of the post in italics are my own editorial comments. Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Teach me to Walk in the Light of His Love President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, on broken relationships and obtaining mercy: “We can so clearly and easily see the harmful results that come when others judge and hold grudges. But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous, and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.” Cites bumper sticker: “Don’t judge me because I sin differently from you.” “Stop it.” “We must let go of our grievances. Part of our mortality is to learn to let go of [them.]” Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, on the gifts of God: “I thought of some people I know who are just as oblivious to their Creator and their true ‘bread of life’…

Saturday Priesthood Session

President Eyring conducted the Saturday evening Priesthood Session. Direct quotations (based on notes by Kent and myself) are given in quotes; all other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Text in italics is my own editorial comment. I have highlighted in bold type one particularly striking thought or comment in each talk.

Saturday Afternoon Session

President Eyring conducted the Saturday afternoon session. Direct quotations of a speaker’s words (based on my notes) are given in quotes; other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Any text in italics represents my own editorial comment.

Saturday Morning Session

President Uchtdorf conducted the Saturday morning session, featuring talks by President Boyd K Packer, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, Elder Paul E. Colliger, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Eyring, with brief introductory remarks by President Monson. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; all other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Parenthetical comments and discussion notes at the end of the post in italics are my own editorial comments.