Confession: General Conference Was Difficult for Me

By: Mormon Heretic
April 4, 2011

Last October, I missed all of General Conference because I was traveling for work.  I missed the controversial talks about the 14 fundamentals and homosexuality.  This year, technically I listened to all of the sessions, but I didn’t get very much out of conference.  Due to an emergency, I had to work on Saturday.  Since I was the only one in the office, I tuned into the streaming broadcast on KSL.com and LDS.org.

The one thing I remember from Saturday was Elder Oaks discussing Aron Ralston.  Aron was the man rock climbing in a remote part of Utah a few years ago.  His hand was pinned by a large boulder.  After 5 days with no sign of rescue, he determined to use a dull knife to help break off his own hand to save his life.  I’ll bet Aron (not LDS) never thought he would be part of a Conference talk.  Since I was working, I don’t recall anything else, and I’m not even sure why Elder Oaks referenced Ralston.

It didn’t get much better for me on Sunday.  I have 3 small children ranging in age from 2-8.  We tried to have the 2 older children do Conference Bingo, and other conference activities.  My wife was trying to help my 6 year-old create a Jesus book.  Exasperated that my 2 year old was interrupting too much, she asked me to take care of him.  After a few failed attempts to persuade him to play with me, I decided to invite him to take a shower with me, thinking I could turn on my shower radio and listen to conference.   However, the battery was weak, and the speakers were all muffled.  As I was drying off, my son peed on my foot.  At least we were still in the tub!  (He’s done that before, so I was glad I had chosen to dry off in the tub.)

I enjoyed the predictions by Mike S concerning General Conference.  In many ways, Conference is incredibly predictable.  President Monson announced new temples, church humanitarian efforts were highlighted following the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and Elder Uchtdorf used the word “supernal” (as KLC predicted on Jeff’s post).  Mike guessed low on the number of convert baptism, but otherwise nailed the number of members announced (over 14.1 million).  Elder Eyring’s voice cracked again–he is always on the edge of tears when he speaks in Conference.

Our stake presidency has noted that people often seem to feel that stake and general conferences are an excuse to miss church.  I admit that it is nice to watch conference in my pajamas.  While I technically didn’t miss conference, I felt I was much too distracted.  Can you tell me what I missed?

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30 Responses to Confession: General Conference Was Difficult for Me

  1. shenpa warrior on April 4, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    Sounds like you experienced the “Bedlam” that Elder Holland mentioned. ;)

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  2. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    You missed them celebrating the church welfare program, and taking care of the poor. Something others have mentioned that the church should be emphasizing far more than they do, which I agree with. You also missed an Apostle advocate for socialism… :)

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  3. sunshine on April 4, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    This was my first, as a non member, what struck me as particularly odd was the statistical report. They quote church membership, converts, child baptism, but made no mention of how many left the church. Why is this?, Isn’t this just as important for members to know? Why try to hide, or deny it? Someone quoted membership loss on another blog, but it just seems strange that it’s not discussed. Maybe they think giving a talk about being offended covers the topic. However, I still contend there’s a big difference between someone telling you your dress makes you look fat, as opposed to your home-teacher telling you that you have severe emotional problems that need evaluating and that as a former Bishop he was allowed to say that.

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  4. SteveS on April 4, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    I trying to remember the speakers, but it seems that we got conflicting messages about women once again. One GA said that we shouldn’t judge women who choose to work outside the home, but then another GA said that it was wrong for women to choose education and career over their duties in the home. While perhaps these aren’t quite directly contradictory, It feels like “one step forward, two steps back”.

    On a brighter note, hardly any pornography bashing (although Pres. Monson said that pornography has been “proven to be highly addictive” in Priesthood session, only proving that he doesn’t really understand the scientific process.

    Also, I was glad to hear lots more talks about serving others. Hopefully we won’t interpret those messages so broadly that service to immediate family members and close friends counts so that we tend to ignore those in real trouble all around us.

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  5. Joshua Whelpley on April 4, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    I was very pleased with the emphasis on service and consecration. Efforts like Prop 8 don’t win converts but pure religion does. Taking care of the widows, the fatherless, the poor.

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  6. Troth Everyman on April 4, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    Very much enjoyed the talks on reaching out to help the poor.

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  7. Mike S on April 4, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    sunshine:

    No one highlights their faults – be them a church, a business, or an individual. The number actually doesn’t need to be announced as it’s easy to figure out from the numbers they do give. And they do talk about reaching out.

    That being said, I do think the tone of this conference was more service and building up than prior conferences, for which I was thankful. Elder Holland did talk about the difficulty in choosing topics for talks. The main message is the “good news” of the gospel, but at the same time, part of the role of any leader of any church is to chasten. Even Christ called people on things they need to correct. There is also a wide variety of audiences, from the TBM to the NOM to the non-member to everyone of all different age groups.

    So, overall, I thought conference was fairly positive overall. There were certainly things that made me ponder my own life and look for ways I could improve myself.

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  8. Jared on April 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    Most of the time I really enjoy General Conference. This year I would guess 75% of the talks scored high for me. The other 25% help me appreciate the 75%.

    I thought Elder’s Oaks’s talk on desire was masterful! This talk could be course material for a human psychology class.

    Elder Uchtdorf’s parable of the Cruise Ship traveler might be the most talked about in the days ahead.

    President Monson’s talk on Priesthood power and ways to lose it was to the point. He emphasized the importance of marriage and ways to make it successful.

    Elder Paul Johnson’s talk on miracles following challenges was moving. He referred to Elder Hale’s talk where he testified of ministering angels when experiencing a health crisis.

    Elder Bednar’s talk on revelation answered many of the questions that are brought up in this blog.

    This is my short list.

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  9. MH on April 4, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    Shenpa, my daughter agreed that she was a “bedlamite”!

    Dan, do tell more on the pro-socialism talk. I definitely missed that.

    Steve, in my scattered listening, I heard pornography mentioned several times–it didn’t seem very different to me. I did note that Elder Holland seemed to say that we could ignore certain talks if they don’t apply to us–that was a welcome relief. It did seem that several people hammered the men for not getting married (again). Oaks did say it applied to the women too, but the men still bore the brunt of the condemnation, IMO.

    Jared, The parable of the cruise ship passenger has already been recycled far too often. Perhaps it is new to Elder Uchtdorf. I agree with Elder Uchtdorf that priesthood holders use priesthood below their privileges, but I had hoped for more concrete suggestions from him, rather than the vague notion that we should use the priesthood “more”. What does that mean exactly? Are we supposed to see angels like Joseph Smith? Are we supposed to perform great healings, move mountains? I think it would have been interesting if Uchtdorf had quoted Paul, telling us all to “covet to prophesy.” While the cruise ship passenger story was a valid parable, I’m still not clear how it applies to priesthood.

    In light of the discussions of spiritual gifts performed by women, does Uchtdorf’s talk apply to women as well? Apparently not, because he gave this talk in the priesthood session, rather than the general membership. I think women could use the gifts of the spirit and heal, and are under-utilizing their gifts of the spirit, just like the cruise ship passenger.

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  10. jks on April 4, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    I watched about half of conference. Luckily, conference bingo worked really well for our kids and we could pay attention during the half we watched (although our just 3 year old spent some time in time out)

    What I heard:
    Church welfare is important. Work toward Self-reliance.Give and serve. Help the poor. Reach out.
    The Lord often answers our prayers through another person quote was used multiple times.
    Get married.
    Be a good spouse. Express love.
    Be willing to be chastened (through whatever ways the Lord chastens us) so we can improve.
    Trials/challenges can be good for us.
    Go to the temple. (Monson)
    Don’t sit around waiting for a big spiritual experience before moving forward in faith. (Uchdorf)
    Revelation can come like a light switch or slowly like the dawn. (Bednar)
    Focus on who we are becoming (to be) not just what we are doing (to do). Both.
    Tithing.
    Atonement and repentance for everyone.

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  11. jks on April 4, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    When I heard pornography mentioned it was just in passing, not a focus of a talk or even a bullet point of a talk. I think I only heard it once in the 50% of conference I listened to (exclusing PH).

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  12. Jared on April 4, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    #9 MH wrote:

    I had hoped for more concrete suggestions from him, rather than the vague notion that we should use the priesthood “more”. What does that mean exactly?
    ———————————————

    Good questions. The idea of priesthood power is more of an ideal than a reality for me.

    I’ve given priesthood blessings but I’ve never understood if the results I’ve seen came from the priesthood blessing, faith (mine or another persons), spiritual gifts (mine or another persons).

    However, when I’ve received priesthood blessing I’ve experienced noticeable benefits, but I’m not sure why: was it the PH blessing, prayer, faith, gifts?

    Of course, understanding all this isn’t the top priority, experiencing it is what counts.

    Elder Uchtdorf’s talk left me with the thought that if I want to understand and experience priesthood power more fully, I’ll need to make it a priority. I’ve never really done that. I have only fasted and prayed about this subject a few times, whereas, I have done extensive fasting and prayer about other things. For example, I fasted every Sunday for nearly 10 years to acquire the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the attending gifts. I have not been disappointed. The Lord has been most kind to me in this area.

    Joseph Smith taught that circumstances bring forth the gifts. Maybe its the same with priesthood power.

    I know of a man who raised his daughter from death. She was hit and crushed to death by a car when she was 3 or 4 years old. Many people observed it. I believe this miracle is credited to priesthood power. I met his daughter and talk with her about her dad.

    The point I am making is that if we live right and the need arises we can have access to priesthood power just as the little girls dad did. Not all of us may be able to raise the dead, but we can have access to some portion of the power God makes available to his priesthood holders. I think this is what Elder Uchtdorf was touching on.

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  13. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    MH,

    It was Elder Cook’s talk. He was saying that Latter Day Saints should be at the forefront of creating a working environment that accounts for family time, i.e. maternity and paternity leave. As BiV quoted in her piece:

    I also applaud his attempt to encourage Latter-day Saints to be at the forefront in “creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive to women and men in their responsibilities in the home.”

    I don’t know if Elder Cook is aware (I’m guessing he is), that numerous countries already do this. They’re just countries certain segments of the American Mormon population consider under the Devil’s wing.

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  14. philomytha on April 4, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I could never have my kids do conference bingo. I’d be too tempted to put “pornography” in one of the squares.

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  15. MH on April 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Is there anyone else that thinks sitting through 8 hours of conference with small children is just simply toooooo long? Heck, 2 hours is too long–we barely make it through 70 minutes of Sacrament meeting before my 2 year old has had enough.

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  16. Kullervo on April 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    It was Elder Cook’s talk. He was saying that Latter Day Saints should be at the forefront of creating a working environment that accounts for family time, i.e. maternity and paternity leave. As BiV quoted in her piece:

    I also applaud his attempt to encourage Latter-day Saints to be at the forefront in “creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive to women and men in their responsibilities in the home.”

    I don’t know if Elder Cook is aware (I’m guessing he is), that numerous countries already do this. They’re just countries certain segments of the American Mormon population consider under the Devil’s wing.

    How is egalitarianism the same thing as socialism? The fact that it correlates highly with socialist economic systems doesn;t mean the two are one and the same.

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  17. David on April 4, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    “Is there anyone else that thinks sitting through 8 hours of conference with small children is just simply toooooo long? Heck, 2 hours is too long–we barely make it through 70 minutes of Sacrament meeting before my 2 year old has had enough.”

    I agree.

    As a kid my parents only made us watch 1 of the 4 sessions. My wife tried to force the kids to watch/listen to all 4 sessions over the weekend and it created more headaches for all involved than not.

    I see no reason why 1 of the 4 sessions isn’t good enough for kids 8 and younger (all 3 of ours are), but I think my wife felt a palpable recommendation from the church in some areas to get the kids to “watch conference,” which she interpreted as being all 4 sessions.

    When I told her about my experience as a kid during the Sunday morning session she calmed down and wasn’t nearly as anxious at getting them to listen as she was previously, but I wonder if there isn’t an unseen pressure for parents to force their kids to watch all 4 sessions.

    As to the rest, here is what I disagreed/agreed with:

    Eyring’s talk: We are presented with the idea that the doctrine called living the law of consecration, or united order, is, in our time, called church welfare program. Names and details of operation are changed to fit the needs and conditions of people. This is yet another example of redefining the doctrines of the kingdom to match our inferior action.

    Eyring told us that the principles of the foundation of the church welfare program are not only for one time and one place but are for all times and all places; that those principles are spiritual and eternal. Which way is it? How well does the ‘law of consecration’ match up with the principle of the church welfare system?

    Are we asked to give all that we have to the church welfare system? Are we to receive back from the church welfare system what we need? Does the church welfare system describe an environment where we have all things common among us?

    Holland’s talk: I appreciated someone getting up and publicly stating that not all of the talks necessarily apply to us.

    Burton’s talk: Strangely ironic. For someone who has admittedly spent the past 5 or so years working on his “crowning” achievement (i.e. City Creek Center), to hear him talk about the welfare programs and the “sometimes you have to do without” idea, I was left a little perplexed. I wonder if how he sees the CCC in relation to the gospel or welfare program, or if it’s a mutually exclusive relationship.

    Kent Richards: Elder Richards quotes from the definition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in Third Nephi, chapter 21:

    “14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

    15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.”

    Cook’s talk: I found it interesting that in the story of the stake council meeting we are taught the lesson that women can “facilitate” revelation. Does this implicitly teach that women cannot directly receive revelation?
    Is there any conflict between the gospel definition of the purpose to draw all men unto Christ and the dictate to ‘follow the prophet?’ Shouldn’t the mission of the church be to bring people to Christ rather than swear allegiance to a man?

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  18. Martin on April 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    We’ve never had cable, and ever since our kids were small, we’d take them to the stake center to watch the broadcast there. We dressed in Sunday clothes, sat on Sunday pews, and treated it as a slightly more relaxed version of Sunday church. Between sessions, we’d picnic on the lawn with the one or two other families who’d be there, and we’ve usually had good weather and a very pleasant time. During the afternoon session, we’d let the little ones lie down and sleep. We didn’t attempt the Saturday sessions.

    The result has been that my kids love conference. Even the younger ones (youngest being 5, so it’s gotten a lot easier). They may be a bit wiggly, but they love the tradition and actually listen a little.

    Maybe it was just me, but I thought the Sunday morning session was excellent.

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  19. Will on April 4, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Dan,

    Nice try. Elder Cook, along with all of the other Apostles is promoting the work of Christ. Conversely, Lucifer and his followers are promoting collectivist concepts. As Moses says: ‘He seeks to take away the agency of man’. Lucifer’s whole plan was a collectivist concept. God’s plan, was and is, freedom to decide our own destiny. Elevation of the Individual, not the group. After all, his plan will distribute the souls of men. Seperate the wheat from the tares. Hardly, socalist.

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  20. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Will,

    Lucifer’s plan was not collectivist. It was ultimate force. You need to brush up on your definitions dude.

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  21. Will on April 4, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Dan,

    Yes, Lucifer wanted to use brute force to ACCOMPLISH his objective. His objective, however, was to make everyone equal as indicated in Moses 4:1 “I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” If that isn’t collectivism, I don’t know what is.

    God’s plan, like free market capitalism, is to distribute the souls of men based on merit.

    It is you, Dan, that needs to brush up THE doctrine.

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  22. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Will,

    If that isn’t collectivism, I don’t know what is.

    Then you indeed do not know what collectivism is. Oh, and market capitalism has little to do with merit.

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  23. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    nor indeed does God’s plan have to do with merit, as THE doctrine is clear it has to do with grace.

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  24. Will on April 4, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    “nor indeed does God’s plan have to do with merit, as THE doctrine is clear it has to do with grace”

    Sure, your doctrine is THE doctrine if you are a born again Christian. However, if you belong to the true Church of Christ, then THE doctrine is the law of the harvest. God’s plan is one that distributes the souls of men based on their ability to live eternal laws, see D&C 88:22-26. It is a conditional plan – an if, then, else plan. IF one can live the Celestial law, THEN they will receive Celestial glory; IF one can live the Terrestrial law, THEN they can have Terrestrial glory; IF one can live the Telestial law, THEN they will receive Telestial glory; ELSE, they receive NO glory.

    When fully understood, God’s plan is the opposite of collectivism. It is a distribution plan. An eternal class system based on the haves (receive everything) and the have not’s (no glory). Those in the highest kingdom, will be able to live the highest order. A voluntary sharing of goods and services; a consecration based on love for one another. True altruism.

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  25. David on April 4, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    Holy pissing match, batman.

    In my opinion, I think both Dan and Will should take a look at a book like “Satan’s War on Free Agency.” A good, easy read which entirely dispels the notion of Satan using “brute force” to do anything. Really, there’s not a lot of doctrine in either of your opinions.

    Now, that being said, I might temper the discussion by asking how either socialism, individualism or collectivism have anything to do with Matthew 7:12?

    As for another tidbit on individualism vs. collectivism, how exactly can Zion come to pass if it’s not through a symphony of both (i.e. individuals establishing Zion in their hearts, then individuals collectivizing Zion together)? Seems you need both to bring Zion to pass…

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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  26. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    Will,

    True altruism.

    Which, incidentally is the opposite of greed: i.e. capitalism. Just FYI.

    As for THE doctrine, no duh dude. But no work will get you into heaven. No matter how much work you do, it is still impossible to get into heaven without God’s grace. The condition of salvation is only available because of God’s grace. Without it, no salvation. But you can get saved even if your works aren’t so good. The power of repentance accounts for bad works. We don’t know who will get into the celestial kingdom.

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  27. Dan on April 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    David,

    I don’t think we’re arguing that Satan is currently using ‘brute force’ but that his plan, as we believe the pre-mortal existence, would have entailed ‘brute force.’ That said, Will hasn’t had a good beating in a while and keeps coming back for more.

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  28. mh on April 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    will and dan, please don’t turn this into another argument about socialism. please tell me what you liked (or not) about conference.

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  29. Will on April 4, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    MH,

    I liked the anti-socalist message. ;)

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  30. David on April 4, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    Dan:

    “I don’t think we’re arguing that Satan is currently using ‘brute force’ but that his plan, as we believe the pre-mortal existence, would have entailed ‘brute force.’”

    I know what you meant, and my original comment still holds. The whole “brute force” in the pre-mortal world has no foundation in the LDS canon. Again, I would recommend that book if you believe that “force” or “brute force” was integral to the plan proposed by The Other Party.

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