I listened to Conference so you don’t have to. Short summaries (sometimes very short) are mine and mine alone. Phrases or sentences within quotation marks are verbatim quotes based on my notes (so it’s possible they are not 100% accurate, but they’re close). My helpful comments are in italics inside brackets [like this]. I might offer a paragraph of commentary here or there.
Pres. Nelson – About Covid: “We thank you for following our counsel.” [Translation: We wish more of you would follow our counsel.]
Elder Holland – Be “all in” for Jesus. There were no contentions in the land when “the love of God did dwell in the hearts of the people” (quoting BoM).
Bonnie H. Cordon, YW General President – To the youth: Know who you are and know your purpose. Don’t get distracted, even by other good causes.
Elder Soares – Love your neighbor. Practice empathy, mercy, and kindness. Beam/eye: don’t judge your neighbor. [This was the best talk of this session.]
Elder Christofferson – Trying hard to clarify what is unconditional (God’s love, maybe) and what isn’t (pretty much everything else). [The whole tenor of Mormon salvation doctrine and Church practice is that pretty much nothing is unconditional. Bonus points: he quoted Hugh Nibley. Double bonus points: he took a thinly veiled swipe at The Loser Donald Trump.]
Clark G. Gilbert, a Seventy – Math! In Conference! y=mx+b. It’s your slope that’s important (and it should be positive) not your intercept at t=0.
Patricio M. Guiffra, a Seventy – His conversion story.
Pres. Oaks – Entire talk telling people to go to church, any church but hopefully the LDS Church, and giving a variety of reasons going to church is a good thing. [He did acknowledge that doing good is not limited to people who attend church.]
Elder Bednar – Recites the standard narrative of the LDS founding. Reference to “the heartache of divorce.” [Which he portrays as always the man’s fault. But if some men are jerks, then the women who get a divorce experience a deliverance, a blessing, not heartache. But I think Hell would freeze over before an LDS leader could bring himself to say, “Sometimes divorce is a good thing.”]
Ciro Schmiel, a Seventy – Feast upon the words of Christ.
Susan H. Porter, 1C in Primary Gen. Pres. – A tree of light as a metaphor of God’s love for us all. [Made me think of the two trees of light that grew in Valinor. And the White Tree of Gondor.]
Erich W. Kopischke, a Seventy – A first-class talk on mental health. Praises those who educate themselves about mental illness. [This was the best talk of the session. Links to this talk should be sent to every bishop once a week for a year.]
Elder Rasband – All the things (of my soul).
Christoffel Golden, Jr., a Seventy – Missed this one.
Another random Seventy – Missed this one, too.
Elder Stevenson – The gospel is plain, precious, and simple. He told four stories to illustrate his four principles (live the gospel, care for those in need, share the gospel, help families be sealed).
Commentary: Pres. Nelson made a remark in the morning session that all the speakers were going to talk about Jesus Christ. They all seemed to do so in the morning session, more or less. This is a new and welcome development, directing speakers to address a relevant theme, rather than letting every speaker choose their own topic, maybe relevant, maybe not, maybe way off base.
Commentary: Missed the whole thing. It used to be the Priesthood Session, then half the time it was a Women’s Session, and now it has just become another General Session. As if four sessions in two days isn’t enough. Couldn’t they just drop the Saturday evening session?
Elder Uchtdorf – Walk that way (making small adjustments to stay on a straight path). He talked about airplanes landing, and I had “runway Trump lunacy” in my notes. I have no idea what prompted me to write that. [My other reaction: Elder Uchtdorf has lost his mojo.]
Camille M. Johnson, Primary General President – Write your own story. [Bonus points: She has a law degree and was a litigator for many years.]
Elder Renlund – All for one and one for all. Stresses unity as opposed to all the divisiveness and contention stirred up in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Nice story about the temple in Finland and how LDS Finns worked to overcome Finnish-Russian animosity. [Bonus points for addressing the pandemic directly. This was the best talk of this session.]
Vai Sikahema, a Seventy – I like this guy! He can take the ball and run with it. More Sikahema!
Elder Cook – Can’t we all just get along? Against: hatred, wrath, strife. For: love, respect, kindness. Don’t exercise your agency in “harmful, hurtful ways.”
Pres. Nelson – Strengthen your personal foundation as never before. Shows five-minute video of Salt Lake Temple renovations, including reinforcing the deteriorating foundation. Dark days ahead. On temples, “recent procedural adjustments have been made” to the presentation, “and others will follow.” Claims temple ordinances are ancient.
Commentary: As with the Saturday morning session, it appears speakers were given a theme for their remarks in the Sunday morning session: unity and avoiding contention.
Elder Gong – It’s all your fault. Example: Trust is broken because someone tells you the Church hid something or lied about a matter of policy. [Gaslighting at its finest.]
L. Todd Budge, 2C in Presiding Bishopric – When he was called, he didn’t know what the Presiding Bishopric did.
Anthony D. Perkins, a Seventy – A cancer survivor, he spoke on pain and hope. Four principles … [This seemed like a fairly downbeat talk for a talk on hope, but I’m not gonna give a cancer survivor a hard time. I’m sure for a lot of people this talk is meaningful.]
Michael A. Dunn, a Seventy – A talk about British cycling. Get a little better everyday. A pocket-sized approach to repentance.
Sean Douglas, a Seventy – And a Texan. He talked about hurricanes. “Doubt is the breeding ground of spiritual hurricanes.” And: “When we choose to doubt …” [I think he’s denigrating doubt without really understanding it. Most of the time, when we believe a claim or doubt a claim, it’s not a choice, it’s a response to evidence or to the credibility of the claimant. Blaming someone’s troubles, “spiritual hurricanes,” on doubt is also a cheap move.]
Carlos Revillo, Jr., a Seventy – The four principles of the gospel are …
Alvin F. Meredith, III, a Seventy – Distractions … [My notes on this session are a little spotty. I was distracted by the Seahawks-49ers game.]
Elder Anderson – We’re not Mormons anymore. [The entire talk was a defense of abandoning the “Mormon” designation and changing all the names, titles, and URLs the Church previously used that employed that term. The fact that they are still defending this change and devoted an entire Conference talk to defending it shows how much resistance and confusion it has provoked.]
Pres. Nelson – “We choose those to whom we turn for truth and guidance.” Social media is not a reliable source. “Watch out for being derailed by false philosophies.” [I think he’s talking about politics, not philosophy, with that warning.]
Commentary: I don’t have a “best talk of session” for Sunday afternoon. Nothing really stood out. Thirteen new temples were announced by Pres. Nelson, nine outside the US and four inside (Forth Worth, Texas; Cody, Wyoming; Rexburg No. 2; and Heber Valley, Utah.