I listened to Conference so you don’t have to. Or, alternatively, maybe the following summary will whet your appetite for ten hours of listening and viewing pleasure. Don’t miss the little Korean girls singing a Primary song. Short summaries (sometimes very short) are mine and mine alone. Phrases or sentences within quotation marks are a good faith on-the-fly attempt at verbatim quotes. My helpful comments are in italics inside brackets [like this] and are almost never snarky. I reserve the right to do a longer post on this or that particular talk in coming weeks.
Pres. Nelson – Remove the spiritual debris from your life.
Pres. Uchtdorf [he’s always “President Uchtdorf” to me] – God’s endless love for you.
Pres. Joy D. Jones (of the Primary) – We value children and do all we can to combat the evil of abuse. [Except drastically overhauling or eliminating youth unworthiness interviews.]
Jan E. Newman (a Seventy) – The importance of a good nap. [This was my by far my favorite piece of counsel this weekend.]
Elder Stevenson – Be kind to rabbits and humans. That means no cyberbullying.
Elder Gong – “Let’s eat Chinese food” — good advice from Elder Gong’s father. [And a close second for my favorite piece of counsel this weekend.] [Bonus Points to Gong for being the smartest guy in the room.]
Pres. Eyring – “Temples of the Lord are holy places.” [Not a new observation, but I always have a tough time pulling a main point or a good quote from Pres. Eyring’s talks.]
Auditor’s Report – Reliable, effective internal controls and no material misstatements in the financial statements we are not allowed to see. [No mention of the Hundred Billion Dollar fund.]
Elder Holland – Forcefully denounces abuse, unrighteous dominion, spousal abuse, and child abuse, as well as sharp tongue and unkind words.
Jorge T. Beccera (a Seventy) – Sheep and goats: they all have a place in the Church.
Elder Renlund – The Rwandan Genocide and the Problem of Evil. Sometimes life delivers a tsunami of unfairness (Covid). He highlights, in surprising detail, the good work of African American lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson.
Elder Anderson – Speaks strongly against abortion and pro adoption. Story about a model Mormon couple with four kids … but The Spirit said four is not enough so they had two more. [Lots of discussion about this talk on social media.]
Thierry K. Mutombo (a Seventy) – Pray, pray, pray. [Bonus Points for a happy, upbeat delivery.]
Elder Ballard – Half of the adults in the Church are widowed, divorced, or single. But discipleship and being valiant is what counts. Exaltation for all who keep their covenants. [No mention of the Family Proclamation, which was pretty much AWOL throughout the whole Conference.]
Saturday Evening Priesthood Session
Elder Cook – Shall the youth of Zion falter? Elder Cook encourages bishops to delegate interviews to other ward leaders (including women, I think) “where worthiness is not an issue.” [But worthiness is always an issue in the Church. Delegating unworthiness interviews to ward leaders other than the bishop will make things worse, not better. This controversial directive has generated a lot of negative discussion online.]
Ahmad Corbitt (a Seventy) – Porn kills testimonies. [It wouldn’t be a Priesthood Meeting without playing the porn guilt card at least once. The leadership would be a lot happier if we were all eunuchs.]
Gifford Nielsen (an NFL quarterback) – Be good and courageous and fearless. [Bonus Points for telling a true sports story.]
Pres. Eyring – “I was the only deacon in my branch …” [See my earlier apology re: Eyring talks.]
Pres. Oaks – What has Jesus done for you lately? Four responses: Resurrection; forgiveness of our sins; Plan of Salvation with commandments, covenants, and ordinances; took our infirmities upon Him so he could succor us all. [I love enumerated lists, but speakers need to expressly identify points one, two, three, and four. I might have gotten some of them wrong.]
Pres. Nelson – Heart goes out to those who have lost family members, jobs, a sense of security, or faith during these difficult times. Maybe you found some things, too: a new perspective, revelation, personal growth. Four lessons you might have learned: home as the center of worship and three other points that I don’t have a clue: we need each other or you’re never alone or whatever. [Speakers who use enumerated lists should be required to display a PowerPoint slide during the talk.]
Sunday Morning International Session
[That sounds a little snarky, but I think it’s great one of the sessions highlights non-CONUS speakers and themes. The session started with two children’s groups singing in Spanish and then in Korean.]
Elder Soares – Jesus. But you still have to earn your salvation by good works. [Bonus Points for talking about Jesus on Easter Sunday.]
Reyna I. Aburto (Relief Society 2C) – Jesus. [Bonus Points for candidly and sincerely addressing the Covid pandemic.]
S. Mark Palmer (a Seventy) – “Except I shall see, I shall not believe.” Quoting Thomas the 1st century Pragmatist. [Bonus Points: New Zealand. Middle Earth!]
[Breakfast: I missed a couple of speakers but really enjoyed the egg and blueberry breakfast casserole thing that came out of the oven.]
Michael John U. Teh (a Seventy) – What think ye of Christ? Know Him versus know about Him. [It wouldn’t be Conference without a few digs at religious scholarship.]
Pres. Nelson – Faith can move mountains, but it doesn’t have to be perfect faith to move the mountains in your life (loneliness, doubt, illness). Five points, but the one you’ll hear about is: Choose to believe in Jesus Christ and the list of standard LDS faith claims. Don’t look for flaws in the Church. “Stop rehearsing your doubts with other doubters.” [This talk deserves its own post-length discussion.]
Pres. Oaks – Long discussion of “the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States.” A broader and more detailed discussion than the standard Conference religious liberty talk. He endorsed a states rights view (“the federal government sometimes takes away powers from the states, like family relations”). All LDS have a duty to uphold and defend the US Constitution and to seek out “good persons” for public office. Pres. Oaks got very direct late in the talk: He bluntly directed LDS members to not criticize other LDS for their political views. He bluntly declared there should be no political advocacy in LDS meetings. He very bluntly declared that no LDS member should suggest that membership in any political party is inconsistent with membership or good standing in the Church. [The bolded comments are very helpful and were long overdue. But I was bothered by the first half that termed any principle or Supreme Court decision he likes “inspired” and suggested any decision he doesn’t like was uninspired. That’s not how discussions of constitutional law generally proceed.]
Elder Rasband – More Jesus. And miracles. [Like the power coming back on after thirty minutes.]
Timothy J. Dykes (a Seventy) – Light. And prayer.
Elder Christofferson – Follow the covenant path. Avoid unforced errors in life. Good intentions are not enough, because covenants.
Alan R. Walker (a Seventy) – [Bonus Points for “both sides of the veil,” another suddenly popular Nelson phrase.]
Elder Bednar – A Gospel Principle is “a doctrinally-based guideline for the exercise of moral agency.” Principles are conveniently malleable and vary a lot in application depending on the circumstances.
Pres. Nelson – Yet another talk. He gave four talks this Conference. In this final address he announced twenty new temples. That’s not a misprint. Twenty new temples. Burley, Idaho, throw a party. Elko, Nevada, double down on LDS. Yorba Linda, California, you are now on the LDS map.