One of my do-nothing callings (as I call it) is ward communications specialist which includes managing the ward’s unofficial Facebook group. Last General Conference I posted a single quote from each speaker at General Conference as a sort of Cliffs Notes version for ward members who may not have been able to listen to the whole thing. Since General Conference is upon us again, I wanted to post these highlights from the previous conference as a sort of highlights reel.
I also discovered in this process that even a talk I didn’t particularly care for (no talk speaks to everyone equally) had something within it of value. To mix it up a little bit, I’ve added a poll to each of the sessions to make it a popularity contest. Which quotes speak most to you?
In this spirit of optimism and appreciation, here goes:
SATURDAY AM SESSION
– Pres. Eyring: “Your fast offering will do more than help feed and clothe bodies. It will heal and change hearts.”
– Pres. Burton: “Sisters and brothers, how often do we intentionally “speak kind words to each other”?”
– Pres. Packer: “Married couples are tried by temptation, misunderstandings, financial problems, by family crises, by illness, and all the while love grows stronger. Mature love has a bliss not even imagined by newlyweds.”
– E. Oaks: “Those who believe in what has been called the theology of prosperity are suffering from the “deceitfulness of riches.” The possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor.”
The possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor.
– E. Clayton: “if we search for it, there will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief.”
– E. Perry: “When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries and dreams for children, we are all the same.”
When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries and dreams for children, we are all the same.
SATURDAY PM SESSION
– E. Bednar: “We should look to and have our focus firmly fixed upon the Savior at all times and in all places.”
– E. Christofferson: “Much that is good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are doing your very best.”
Sometimes all that is necessary for now can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are doing your very best.
– E. Andersen: “I can teach you to dance, but I can’t teach you to hear music.”
I can teach you to dance, but I can’t teach you to hear music.
– E. Renlund: “Even if we’ve been a conscious, deliberate sinner or have repeatedly faced failure and disappointment, the moment we decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help us.”
– E. Ringwood: “Today there are some who would have us believe our search for relevance can be satisfied only by obtaining position and power. Yet, thankfully, there are many who are uninfluenced by this perspective. They find relevance in seeking to be truly good and without guile.”
– E. Cook: “We should be careful not to be critical or judgmental of those with concerns.”
We should be careful not to be critical or judgmental of those with concerns.
– E. Ballard’s talk explains the process by which missionary calls are assigned. “When your picture appears, we look into your eyes and review your answers to the missionary recommendation questions. For that brief moment, it seems as if you are present and responding to us directly.”
– E. Soares: “Many of these worldly messages represent nothing more than an attempt of our society to justify sin.”
– E. Gibson: “My heart was full because at his young and tender age he already recognized that one of his most sacred priesthood duties was to be a father.”
– Pres. Uchtdorf: “There is nothing wrong with shining our shoes, smelling our best, or even hiding the dirty dishes before the home teachers arrive. However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful. . . . This temptation to appear better than we are, is found not just in our personal lives but can be found in our Church assignments as well. . . He began to wonder how their stake’s goals might have been different if they had first asked, “What is our ministry?””
when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful
– Pres. Eyring: “All of us must speak and act in the name of God in moments where our unaided judgment will not be enough without inspiration.”
– Pres. Monson: “I revere the priesthood. I have witnessed its power time and time again. I have seen its strength. I have marveled at the miracles it has wrought. Brethren, each of us has been entrusted with one of the most precious gifts ever bestowed upon mankind. As we honor our priesthood and live our lives so that we are at all times worthy, the blessings of the priesthood will flow through us.”
SUNDAY AM SESSION
– Pres. Monson: “There is no blessing more precious to me than the peace and comfort I receive from the knowledge I have that [Frances] and I will be together again.”
– Pres. Wixom: “The Lord can only teach an inquiring mind.” and “Come, we want you whatever stage you are at, and we will meet you there. Give us whatever you have to offer.”
– E. Texeira: “The habit of setting aside our mobile device for a time will enrich and broaden our view of life, for life is not confined to a four inch screen.”
life is not confined to a four inch screen
– E. Causse: “To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith . . . but our ability to marvel is fragile. Over the long term, such things as casual commandment-keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel.”
our ability to marvel is fragile
– E. Nielson: (about the parable of the prodigal son) “once the adult son makes his choice, the wise father lets him go. The father then demonstrates sincere love, and he watches and he waits.” and he concludes “I realized that in some ways I was the prodigal son. . . All of us are lost and need to be found.”
– E. Holland: Shares a story about brothers hiking and one must rescue the other from a free fall to certain death, then likens this to the atonement and the importance of Easter.
– Pres. Uchtdorf: “Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God. Thinking that we can trade our good works for salvation is like buying a plane ticket and then supposing we own the airline. Or thinking that after paying rent for our home, we now hold title to the entire planet earth.” and “I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.” We are not saved “because” of all that we can do.”
Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience.
SUNDAY PM SESSION
– E. Hales: “Live your life to be a good example of what you believe – in word and deed. How we live our religion is far more important than what we may say about our religion.”
– E. Pearson: “Average is the enemy of excellence, and average commitment will prevent you from enduring to the end.”
– E. Pino: “Perspective is the way we see things when we look at them from a certain distance, and it allows us to appreciate their true value.”
– E. Andersen: quoting Neal Maxwell: “If everything is going perfectly for you right now, just wait.”
“If everything is going perfectly for you right now, just wait.”
– E. Zeballos: “How, then, could we be content with anything short of exaltation if we know that exaltation is possible?”
– E. Sitati: [winning best accent award] “Developing a vision of what I would become was essential to my progress.”
– E. Nelson: “No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting.”
Have you thought through the implications of doing this type of ranking? If this takes off, nobody will EVER want to speak in the same session as Uchtdorf! I am sure already nobody wants to follow directly after him as everyone will be stewing the German accented words from the previous talk and not even listen to what they are saying. I can just imagine a GA getting his assignment and saying, “Ah CRAP! I am right after Uchtdorf. This sucks.”
Hawk — this was not useless at all. I really liked it.
Quite frankly, it is the best summary or recap of conference I have seen.
I agree with Stephen. Ranking quotes might seem (ahem) unseemly, but it is a good way of getting people to think about the messages again, and also a good reminder of how many worthy quotes there are to consider.
After all, it is the quotes that people actually remember.
Like… “why would he do that, He is our Father…..”
What about the Women’s Session?
Interesting whitewashing on Perry. His “all the same” was eclipsed for most, I think, by his “We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established.”
Never mind that no gay or lesbian couple ever wanted to “replace” families headed by opposite-sex couples (presumably what Perry meant by “the family organization that God Himself established). Perry’s nasty attack, especially after he pretended to glad-hand LGBT activists in Utah before the cameras, will be a long lasting legacy.
EmJen: The what?
Nick: I think you mean “cherry picking,” not white-washing.
Obviously, sound bites are just one way to remember what was said, and it is prone to decontextualization. Some of the talks weren’t sound bite fodder (e.g. Holland’s talk on the atonement with the brothers hiking on the cliff), but were memorable for other reasons.
On the contrary Happy Hubby, if you’re nervous at all about speaking, it’s kind of nice to know that most people aren’t listening too intently. One of the things I usually mention to people who are nervous about speaking in Sacrament Meeting is that half the people aren’t even listening (sleeping, doodling, playing games, etc.), and of the other half who are attempting, many of them are getting distracted by their own or other people’s kids. Knowing that only about a quarter of the people in the audience actually hear the talk usually seems to help people feel a little less intimidated.
If you were going for wowing the audience and getting an award for best message (or best pinterest meme), then speaking after Pres. Uchtdorf would indeed bite.
The trouble with taking this polls is that, like a joke referring to comparing the desirability of various females (e.g. “it’s all GOOD”), all the quotes are highly uplifting and inspiring. Like the off-color joke, some ARE better, but the quotes were ALL (truly) “Good”.
Hawk, you refer to your calling as ward communications specialist as a “do-nothing” calling for WHAT reason? Is any reasonable effort so light a burden that it seems to be nothing at all to you? Ok…BUT…IF (and only you can answer, and it’s really between yourself, the bishop, and the Lord) you’re slacking off, or at least NOT magnifying your calling that doesn’t require the Priesthood, then, WHY, pray tell, dost thou clamor that women SHOULD have the Priesthood? I say, magnify that calling you deem as “do-nothing”, and Lord and His servants will take notice. Who knows…you may be the trendsetter.
#1 – President Uchtdorf IS quite popular, but even he would reject the notion of a personality cult within the Church, and so would virtually all seasoned, active, faithful members. He has the personality, speaking abilities, and exudes the Spirit well enough that he IS a tough act to follow…just imagine what Peter, James, or John, had to say following Paul, or, earlier, the Savior Himself.
Excellent summaries! Knowing that you did a wonderful job in extrapolating a thesis from each one, I decided to do a little experiment.
I tallied up how many quotes were works-based, and how many of them were grace-based, and then which ones were the voting favorites.
2 quotes with works and grace-based elements (each given 1/2 credit, 0 winners)
24 works-based quotes (3 of which were voting winners)
6 grace-based quotes (1 of which was a voting winner)
Thank you, hawkgrrrl, for your response to EmJen. Am I the only woman in Mormondom who resents that the Women’s Session has been co-opted by the youth? Why are 8 year old girls invited? Eight year old boys don’t attend the Priesthood Session.
Douglas: I haven’t clamored for women to have the PH. I am sympathetic to those who do, though I don’t desire it for myself. It’s quite obvious to even a casual observer that decisions lack female perspective. They can fix that through a variety of means (and appear to be trying). The arguments offered against female ordination don’t hold up very well thus far. Personally, I think our theology in the temple already assumes a female priesthood. It’s just not clearly defined.
When I say it’s a “do nothing” calling it’s because it’s about the easiest thing in the world to set up a ward FB page.
I notice that Elder Pearson’s talk received zero votes. Could one reason be that his talk–with its call to do more, more, more, to the point of promoting fanaticism–undid whatever good was done by the grace-focused talks by President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland?
Teelea – Elder Pearson is the President in the Australia Pacific Area. The sentiment outlined in his talk is echoed across our area. I think we would do better to not bash people up for giving life an honest go – I can’t see the joy in beating people when they’re down. Needless to say, he didn’t get my vote….
Tina, the Woman’s Session was initiated by a joint effort of the Primary, YW, and RS Presidencies. They’ve made a concerted effort to be more united over the past couple years. My opinion is that they recognize the preteen years are becoming just as critical as the teen years, and are trying to get the girls feeling more part of a churchwide sisterhood. 8-year-old boys start getting that “manhood” path with cub scouts, and once they turn 12 and receive the priesthood they meet with all other priesthod holders in weekly opening exercises. The men of the church are generally much more united across the age groups than the women of the church.
Elder Anderson is just getting credit for Elder Maxwell’s brilliant mind.
I tried to vote for Jack Handy. It wouldn’t let me. 😦
#14 – Hawk, AFAIC, one doesn’t need to have the PH directly conferred upon themselves in order to ‘exercise’ it. The Lord’s House IS a House of Order, in spite of we ‘disorderlies’ (the Fat Boys that did that role in tha movies were more graceful than yours truly). At some point, you were set apart in whatever calling you’ve had by one that held the PH himself, and continued to act under direction of PH authority, SO, by inference, you have always exercised the PH. I can tell you that it’s never been about the accolades for myself, my reward is to be able to see the fruits of my labors in serving others. Any woman whose is diligent in her own calling is entitled to no less, IMHO.
I’m sure that one as tech-savvy as you can imagine what else to do for your ward than devise a FB page. BTW, though I have a FB account, my 1 y.o. daughter manages it for me. Just like back in ’89, to celebrate my promotion to LT, we bought a snazzy dubbing-deck VCR with “VCR+”…and my then 5 y.o. had that sucker programmed with all our shows in an hour. The lad is now 31 with a family of his own and he runs all of Dad’s IT needs with barely a yawn.
#14 – Hawk, when you think about it, any member, male or female, performing a calling when set apart by one holding the PH, IS exercising it (by proxy), b/c (s)he is serving a duly appointed function. This, IMO, is why no MAN “taketh this honor upon himself, except he be called, as was Aaron…”
I cannot say that at some time that the Lord may formally bestow PH upon women in some manner; it just doesn’t seem evident that it would happen under present circumstances or how. But I am NOT the One in charge, and I have full confidence in He who IS…so…if, as you say, there’s actually some form of female PH as alluded to in the Temple, then the Lord will, in His good time and His manner, put it forth, and when put up to be sustained, mine own right arm will gladly go to the square. Certainly the one thing that ought to have long been dispensed with is that there’s some innate ‘superiority’ in men vs. women. Instead, though for more rightly reasons, could it be like the little red sports car that some men drive in their midlife crisis? As for myself, since I missed the days of the ‘diesel’ Navy, in my landlubber stage I’ve pursued them as my ride(s)…MY form of ‘midlife crisis’, I guess.
“just imagine what Peter, James, or John, had to say following Paul”
Probably had to say something clearing up whatever Paul was using far too many words to communicate, not to mention the occasional “out there” idea. Just cause we got a lot of Pauls letters doesn’t mean he was the best of the lot.
#22 – supposedly Paul was one cantankerous bugger, if extrabiblical sources can be believed. He was certainly a scholar and a dynamic personality, but Peter, James, and John were the 1st Century “First Presidency” for a reason. Peter got over his impetuousness, though the soldier Malchus probably wish he’d wised up before his ear got sliced off (Jesus put it back).
I find it interesting that the bulk of the New Testament is Paul’s writings, and the 1st Century FP got but their relatively short epistles.
There’s an interesting hypothesis on WHY Josephus never mentioned Paul…b/c they were the same man! Not that I believe it (you’d think scholars would have concluded this if the evidence were strong), but it do explain some things.
President Uchtdorf’s talk was the greatest talk in this dispensation. Finally a general authority made the statement that our works have nothing to do with salvation, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. For about 185 years when any member talked about salvation and especially when they used the Book of Mormon in explaining it they talked like a bunch of donkeys. Years ago it was said by some that Mormons would smile at non-members like they just didn’t understand when we were the dumbbells that didn’t understand anything. The Church missed the grace message for 185 years – unbelievable! Section 76 was given two years after the Church was organized. Nobody saw it or they saw it and didn’t teach it.
I usually sleep through much of the afternoon sessions of conference. How did I get this talk? I got Elder Hollands also, but I really don’t care for the members’s flopping around like fish out of water for that subject either. I agree that climbing a cliff is not like living in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were very able to understand what the Father had told them about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But someday this will come too. Maybe Elder Uchtdorf will give it.
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