Old conference talks are available from April 1971 to the present. Why not older talks? It could be that the older talks have things in them that we don’t believe in anymore (see Brigham Young’s talks as an example). The TBM answer would be we have plenty to study with our current talks that are more applicable to us in our time as it is modern revelation for us.
When will they purge the 1970’s talks? While they can remove them, they have been forever memorialized in the Wayback Machine, and online Internet archive. I can think of several talks that I’m sure current church leaders wish they could make disappear down a memory hole.
The one that really sticks out to me is one I remember, not from the actual meeting (it was Saturday Afternoon, and I was 17!), but the audio that was played for us in Priesthood a few months later. It was a talk from Vaughn J. Featherstone of the 70’s. This was a general session, not priesthood.
The first thing that caught my ear was he used the “M” word in open conference!
Now, my young friends, and I am sorry to say, many adults, how about all those of you who have a masturbation problem? If the names of those who had the problem were projected across this big, huge scroll, would your name be there, or would you be able to sit back confident and pure in heart?
But wait there is more! A boy raised from the dead!
I know of a great man who held his dead son in his arms, and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power and authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, I command you to live.” And the dead boy opened up his eyes.
But this great man was only able to do this because he didn’t look at pornography!
This great brother could not have possibly done that had he been looking at a pornographic piece of material a few nights before or if he had been involved in any other transgression of that kind.
Then more masturbation! Does anybody really believe this story?
We shouldn’t have a problem with masturbation. I know one fine father who interviewed his 11-year-old son and he said, “Son, if you never masturbate, the time will come in your life when you will be able to sit in front of your bishop at age 19, and say to him, ‘I have never done that in my life,’ and then you can go to the stake president when you are interviewed for your mission and tell him, ‘I have never done that in my life.’ And you would be quite a rare young man.”
The father again interviewed the young man, who is now 18 years old, and he asked the son about masturbation. The son said, “I have never done that in my life. You told me, Dad, that if I didn’t do that, I would be able to sit in front of the bishop and stake president and tell them I had never done it, and I would be a rare young man, and I am going to be able to do it.”
He lets everybody know one of his pet peeves.
Let me talk about another thing that keeps us from being pure in heart. We need to purge out of our lives the desire to come to meetings late and leave early. I remember last conference I attended in the Assembly Hall; I was at the priesthood meeting. At the close of our great and beloved prophet’s wonderful discourse and counsel to us, at least 200 or 300 men got up and just started moving en masse toward all the doors. The closing hymn hadn’t been sung, the prayer hadn’t been rendered. And these men, inconsiderate, lacking in discipline, simply got up and moved out of the Assembly Hall to save five minutes. … I believe it is an offense to God when we leave meetings early, and when we come late to meetings.
Next came the fat shaming.
Another problem: an overweight girl from Ogden went to see her bishop. In the purity and goodness of charity, trying to help the girl, he counseled her that it might be a good idea to lose a few pounds. Pitifully heartbroken, she went home and told her father. It had cankered her soul. The father, of course, negative toward the Church all of his life, waiting for something like this, sprung like a cat on the bishop’s back, and they came down to see me and wanted their memberships transferred out of the bishop’s ward. I asked them why, because I didn’t know all this background, and they said, “Well, our bishop suggested to our daughter that she might lose a few pounds and make herself a little more attractive.” Now I want you to know that I defended that great bishop. I said to this family, “You are wrong. That sweet bishop, out of purity and love for your daughter, felt and did that which he was impressed to do. I am sure it was a message from God to your daughter, and she let it canker her soul. The strange thing is that she was probably up in her bedroom the night before praying, ‘Heavenly Father, I am lonely. I need someone. Please help me. Help me to find someone so I won’t be so lonely.’” And yet oftentimes we are offended because a sweet bishop gives us some instruction which is hard for us to live.
If you were this girls father, what would have you done?
Next he makes up church doctrine
I was over in England a while back and a bishop asked me, “What is the Church’s stand on cola drinks?” I said, “Well, I can’t remember the exact wording of the bulletin, but I remember seeing the bulletin when I was a stake president. The Church, of course, advises against them.”
He said, “Well, I have read the Priesthood Bulletin, but that isn’t what it says to me.”
And I said, “Would you get your Priesthood Bulletin? Let’s read it together.” And so we found under the heading “Cola Drinks”: “… the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs. …” (The Priesthood Bulletin, Feb. 1972, p. 4.)
He said, “Well, you see, that doesn’t mean cola.”
I said, “Well, I guess you will have to come to your own grips with that, but to me, there is no question.” You see, there can’t be the slightest particle of rebellion, and in him there is. We can find loopholes in a lot of things if we want to bend the rules of the Church.
What he conveniently left out of his talk was the part of that Priesthood Bulletin that said “With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter…”
Now he brings up Adam-God theory
Another case is the one of those who talk about the “Adam-God” theory; I guess when they are engrossed with all these different theories, and things in the Church, they don’t have time to study faith and repentance. Maybe they ought to get back to basics. And when they understand everything about faith, then they can move on to the next principle.
So what did he mean here? It was OK to study the Adam-God theory after you finished studying the basics?
This speech was all over the place!
There are lots of other weird/strange talk in General Conference, like the time Pres Kimble said the word “orgasm” in the Oct 1974 session in the same sentence with steaking!
So what do you make of these old talks? What others do you remember that are now cringeworthy? (Little factories anybody?)