That’s from D&C 38:27, not from a recent Conference talk. Maybe it should have been a Conference talk, as the battle between unity and division, between common causes and rank partisanship, so prominent in society and politics, has seeped deeply into the Church. Most of us have a sense that things which were once foundational are falling apart. Things that were once solid and whole are coming unglued. For some insightful commentary on this whole mess, go read Jonathan Haidt’s new essay at The Atlantic. It’s not just “a sense” that things are falling apart — they really are falling apart. It’s easy to blame social media or politics or this or that divisive figure, but it’s really a much larger change and it seems to be happening at every scale, from the global stage to the family in the house next door. It feels like the Sixties.
I could go on and on about this or take some quotes from the essay and parse them, but the essay stands quite nicely on its own. Instead, I want to take a look at Conference from a different perspective, from a “unity versus division” view. Modern (the last twenty years or so) LDS General Conference is remarkable in that it brings millions of listening Mormons together simultaneously to listen to the talks for a couple of days. It’s not just the content of the talks, it’s the whole experience: the choir and organ, the great and spacious Conference Center, the sweeping outside views of Temple Square backed by the surrounding mountains. It strikes me that this is an institutional practice, a ritual if you will, that works toward unity or togetherness at a time when the balance of social and political forces is moving us toward division.
Now I don’t want to overstate that thesis. General Conference is potentially or ideally a means of achieving or maintaining some unity within the Church by a twice yearly shared experience. But there will be mixed messages: some talks seem to stoke the passions of division even as others preach brotherly love and doing good in the usual Christian ways. Often what’s going on in the world or what’s going on in the Church cries out for some direct commentary and counsel from Conference speakers but gets almost no mention. We get the same old format and the same old topics rehashed when it could be more effective (at putting out a specific message or directed counsel; at keeping listeners engaged, etc.) if some changes where made. But still, on balance, the whole production works to bring us Mormons together rather than move us apart. Is it enough to hold the Church together? Who knows. LDS leaders seem as confused as other cultural, political, and business elites in steering institutions through our troubled Twenties.
I’ll just add a couple of observations, then turn it over to the comments. First: seventeen new temples. In a strange way, the temple has come to displace the chapel as the center of LDS practice and institutional life. Covid has maybe moved this along a bit, as weekly services in chapels were suspended for several months. The phrase “home centered, Church supported” was bandied about quite a bit at one of last year’s Conferences, another oddly revealing theme. I can imagine a future where chapels and Sunday services are almost irrelevant. Instead you regularly connect with a fireside or a class or a local talk via the Internet, with General Conference twice a year via the Internet, and you go to a temple once or twice or thrice a year in person. I can imagine LDS leaders, in one of their many meetings, coming around to thinking, “Hey, as long as they keep writing checks and we keep building temples, this could work.” Maybe, maybe not. At the local level, you are a member in good standing in the eyes of your bishop if you keep writing checks and hold a temple recommend. Whether you physically make it to church on Sunday is suddenly less important, even unimportant. So at the local level, we’re already there.
Second: the missionary model is failing. That is evident from the many remarks in the recent Conference talks specifically encouraging young men to serve and from statistics showing the number of young LDS volunteering for proselyting missions is going down. I’m tempted to say “even teenagers can figure out the missionary program isn’t working” but that’s unfair. It’s easy, as a seasoned adult, to forget how excited young LDS are to serve missions. There’s an element of adventure, mingled with the thrill of leaving home. It’s sort of the LDS equivalent of going off to college. But some of that thrill is gone, as fewer LDS do foreign missions and learn a language; as more time is spent sitting in some crappy missionary apartment because of lockdowns; as fewer and fewer people want to hear about the LDS message in whatever form it is packaged. In the unity versus division theme, consider that serving an LDS mission is a formative and shared LDS experience. As that changes — fewer missionaries serving, particularly as a percentage of young LDS, and a degraded experience compared to years past — then that’s one more shared institutional practice supporting unity and togetherness that is being lost.
So it’s plain that politics and the messy events of the Twenties (Covid, Trump, now Putin, who knows what’s next) are trying to move us apart, to break the unity of the Saints. What’s holding us together? General Conference is one of those things, a familiar shared experience that happens every six months. Even if you disagree with a lot of what is said, it can be a positive experience, the way that a team’s football fans can call in to the radio show with nothing but complaints about the coach, this or that player, the officiating, and so forth, but still be passionate fans of their team.
What do you think? Does Conference bring us together? If it doesn’t, what does anymore? If nothing does, where does that leave us?
Is conference uniting? It would seem less so than it used to be. In the past there seemed to be less belief diversity among the attendees. If you went to church, you accepted the general narrative of the leaders. Now, at least in the Mormon belt, attendees hold a wider array of beliefs. A good number accept same-sex marriage. Many accept evolution. A small few don’t even see the Book of Mormon as historical. Many see church as an important cultural attachment, but don’t take to heart what is said over the pulpit or in church manuals. For those types of free thinkers, general conference is just seen as window dressing that is full of platitudes and has little substance. Worse yet, these free thinkers will openly criticize talks they don’t like. In the open, too. This just didn’t seem to be a thing of the past. You kept silent if you had words of criticism to church leaders’ talks. You were supposed to go “pray about it” if you disagreed with something. And that answer to that prayer better darn well be that the leaders were right all along. Or you could just say that you didn’t receive an answer yet and just assumed (Muhlestein style) that they were right since they were closer to God, have more authority, etc. There is certainly a new cultural reckoning in the church.
Dave, I think that as goes weekly attendance, so goes the Church. This and other Mormon-themed outlets are rife with anecdotes about the notable decrease in activity following Covid, and I don’t think that eliminating or at least greatly reducing in-person church attendance is anywhere close to a reality. If anything, the push is to get butts back into seats. Do I think it could work? Maybe. Televangelists use a somewhat similar model, but then they are significantly more entertaining (even if they aren’t quite the Righteous Gemstones). But that would not be a church to which I would want to belong.
As for missionaries, in my very limited experience, even the bluest of TBMs are starting to notice the problems with the mission program (even though some of those problems have existed for a century). While disappointed that some young men have chosen not to serve (or have “delayed” as they put it), they agree that serving a mission during Covid is a miserable experience and that with the apparent reduction in foreign missions (which, let’s face it, were a big draw for young people – hence the pre-Internet of looking for a map upon opening your mission call), there just isn’t the same excitement surrounding service. I’ll lay off making recommendations as we have plenty of those from prior posts, but I don’t envy anyone currently serving.
Given the amount of post-Conference therapy that was happening among the women of my circle after the double Renlund/Oaks whammy, it was not a unifying weekend for many saints…
I wonder at the demographics of who actually watches conference…? Seems possible that mostly those that fit nicely into the church mold tune in. This in itself would say a lot about whether conference is unifying or not.
General Conference looks the same. GC sounds the same (the music). So on the surface it’s still the unifying force that it always was. But somehow it doesn’t feel the same. Maybe that’s just me and the stage I’m in and the people I associate with. But there’s also Wheat & Tares, Reddit, Mormon Stories, RFM, etc. that all make General Conference feel different because now we are analyzing it after-the-fact. And the analysis usually reveals some inconvenient untruths.
The Church cannot survive as a zoom-only experience. People will not keep watching and the checks will not keep coming in. Anyone who claims otherwise is being dishonest with themselves and with us.
The irrefutable fact is that the Mormon experience requires members to form strong bonds be being together. These bonds simply do not form when everyone is sitting in their own basement in sweatpants and crocs.
Make no mistake, members must return to physically attending worship services together or the institutional church will fade away. Zoom church simply cannot compete for the attention of the masses when it is up against televised hot dog eating contests and Dua Lipa concerts.
Quoting myself from January 31, 2013: “We seem to be distilling Latter-day Saint culture as that of a people who 1) attend services on Sunday, 2) also worship occasionally in a temple somewhere within a couple hour’s drive, 3) dedicate a couple years when young to full-time church missions, and 4) otherwise keep apart from one another and engage lives in the broader world, mostly on that broader world’s terms though incorporating their personal religious values into the engagement, without any culture or sociality among the Saints that amounts to anything. Our grandchildren will be amazed that anyone felt attached to it enough to even write stuff on the internet about it.”
Pretty much the same elements noted above. This is a path that the church’s leaders have been moving the church down for 35 years or so. It took a couple decades for the membership to adapt from older patterns, but over the last dozen years they have.
Not one member of the First Presidency served a mission as a young man. Not one. And now they put a guilt trip on all young men about serving missions?
This is actually quite shameful. Locking missionaries up for months on end during covid was not good for anyone. We had a young missionary I our church ward develop serious mental problems from being locked up in an apartment. He committed suicide soon after he was released and sent home early.
Young people today don’t want to be locked up and wasting time. They certainly don’t want to be treated as second class members for not going on missions. This will just drive even more young members away.
There is an old axiom: “Everyone at some point should question what they believe”. Somehow during the path from correlation to orthodoxy, Mormon leadership effectively ended our ability to engage in open dialogue. General Conference is simply a thinly veiled exercise in groupthink serving as insipid intellectual fare for six endless months of repetitive talks/lessons. The hierarchical attempt at enforced unity falls flat.
What is to be accomplished by restricting our freedom to ask thoughtful questions? I submit there is a growing stagnation of faith in Mormonism as a result of our inability receive honest answers. The existence of a vibrant and growing W&T supports the premise there is a growing discomfort with our beliefs.
How many LDS members remain followers due to either family traditions or fear of losing a community of friends? The search for religious truth can be a slippery slope; however, it should not require us to abandon critical thinking skills. Questioning beliefs in Mormon doctrine and history is not an evil exercise. I long to find a religious community that feeds our souls and spirits through honesty and candor.
When I was younger and a regular attendee, there was an organizational myth, the source of which I know not, which said that the Constitution would one day hang by a thread and the federal government would look to SLC for leadership. How quaint that seems now. As Haidt made clear in the referenced article I shall now quake over for days to come, all social institutions are now susceptible to the corrosive power of social media, the church certainly among them. Can the unity created by conference perhaps push back against some of that? I’m not one to judge since I never really found it to be more than feel-good Pablum, boundary maintenance, and subtle manipulation, but I think the opportunity is there if leaders were to step to the mic and say something more than, “Stay in the boat.” People need a reason to stay in the boat, even when they want to. Give them one.
” At the local level, you are a member in good standing in the eyes of your bishop if you keep writing checks and hold a temple recommend. Whether you physically make it to church on Sunday is suddenly less important, even unimportant. So at the local level, we’re already there.”
This is too cynical by at least half for me. I can’t speak to what happens in tall buildings in SLC, but I don’t buy it at a ward level. I’m currently the executive secretary in my ward, which is an interesting level of access: I go to bishopric meetings, I go to ward council, I know who has a temple recommend and who doesn’t, and I know everyone who goes in and out of the bishops office. But on the other hand, I have no idea who pays tithing or any other offerings. I am completely outside the money stuff (and very happy to stay away from that!). In the last 2.5 years, there has never been a single discussion about how much tithing came in from my ward in a bishopric meeting. We’ve tallied how many temple recommends, but never how many full tithe payers. (Yes, I’m fully aware that there’s hypothetically a strong correlation between the two, but I also have no indication that anyone in my bishopric has ever given anyone even the slightest pushback about their declaration of tithes.)
There have been many discussions about whether people are attending church. I’ve heard discussions about their health and physical needs. I’ve heard discussions about whether they are struggling in their faith. I can’t speak for your ward, but MY ward has a leadership that I believe really does care about whether members are feeling connected to Christ. That doesn’t mean that I agree with every decision they come to. I’m pretty much the token progressive in every meeting I go to and I have to pick and choose where I fight back against things I disagree with the most.
It is easy to get carried away in cynicism. It happens to me all the time. I’ve been in a handful of wards in different states (in and out of the Jello Belt) in the last two decades and largely see the same thing. The wards have their ups and downs. The local leaders stick their foot in their mouth. Sometimes both feet. Sometimes I desperately wish they would do better. Maybe you’ve accurately captured how the leaders in SLC are thinking about the church – I haven’t met them, so I won’t try to speak to that. But my experience is that the church really does have a huge number of people that are trying their best to love and care for their neighbors, and not just fill a bank account.
Outside Utah and other high density LDS populations being a member of the church already divides us from our neighbours and local communities.
One could argue that insisting on freedom of religion throughout the world has already, in one sense, split local communities into differently thinking and believing bubbles. Any religion that proselytises encourages those divisions, and has been doing so from the outset.
On a different note, a member of our ward gave what I found to be a very disturbing talk on the unifying nature of general conference, referring to some psychology experiment in which most people were shown an image of a cat but the final person a dog, whilst believing they were being shown the same card, and then they were all asked to say what they’d seen. Some of the dog people were persuaded they’d seen a cat. I remain disturbed that the speaker apparently believes convincing people whore seeing dogs that they’re seeing cats (metaphorically speaking) is a good thing. What universe is he in? He also said general conference is where we get our marching orders for the next six months… well I’ll be scrutinising those orders very carefully..
One can see the temple announcements, mission age change, renewed push to serve missions as the Church trying to retain members. I have heard countless times from Church leadership that Temple attendance and serving a mission results in a greater likelihood of a person being an active, tithe paying member (church leadership always seems to focus on the tithe payer part so much…). Church leaders seem to believe that those things creates “good” members, when in reality, already “good” members probably do those things because the church tells them to and would probably be a “good” member regardless of serving a mission or going to the temple regularly.
Personally, I think that missions and temples are not a great strategy for retention of younger people, seeing as many people I served my mission with are out of the Church, and the temple seems to turn off as many if not more people as find it rewarding. The fact that the Church is doubling down on these twin strategies shows a real lack of vision by Church leadership
I view it a bit differently. The missionary model became troublesome when it became a sales model in the early 1980’s. Trust me, young adults are still just as passionate about serving. But that service must have meaning and Facebook and social media will not suffice. Humanitarian service should be a pillar of all missionary service.
More than the traditional General Conference is needed to end the divisiveness and partisanship in our church community. Only a clarity of vision can end it, and currently the waters have been muddied beyond belief. Members have identified their fellow adherents as the enemy.
One thing to add about missionary service, largely in agreement with Old Man: I fairly loathed being a missionary because it felt like deep indoctrination and not much more. That said, the further I get from the experience, the greater value I place on it. It really did enable me to get a grip in a lot of ways and understand that my life was my job. I still think that is the value of the experience, as I assume it might also be for Peace Corps service. So why not make it more about a period of growth, understanding, and service? If we could have actually helped people in tangible ways instead of just facing constant rejection (Illinois, Chicago, mission–little success but much strength learned from continuing to bang head), it would have added so much more satisfaction. What the church seems to be dealing with now is the psychic toll being a missionary takes, which I also experienced. The mission is not an experience all should have, and the organization should be doing an effective job of determining who is and who is not up for it. Oh, and ditch most of the numbers attached to success. When you’re a religion in which most converts fail to darken the doors of the chapel again only weeks or months after baptism, your numbers are useless.
I could talk about this topic for days. I’ll try to be brief:
I just can’t even engage with GC live anymore. I have to wait for the play by play and go from there, as that helps me understand what I can/need/should not read. Given that there is an entire industry (think Julie Hanks) that tells members it’s ok not to watch conference, or take a self-care break while watching conference, etc I would argue that there is enough angst that unity is clearly not something GC offers. Similar to anitawells comment.
With regards to all the comments that “missionary service and endowments creates lifelong members” I think that’s just no longer true. Maybe it was twenty years ago. Why? I’m assuming it’s a combination of missions being more bleh and less likely to give you great experiences to fall back on during hard times, coupled with younger folks not caring about the sunk costs of staying.
I agree with Ivy’s comment. Anecdotally, one young sister missionary was called to Spain and spent the entire time in Colorado in the mission where she grew up before moving to our state a few years ago. Another missionary was called to Romania and his first area was “Facebook/social media.” Talk about huge disappointments. The missionary program is broken.
Also I think John Mansfield has a great point. Cancelling all the social elements of church was a huge mistake as it removed real connection. It took a generation to play out, but here we are.
Conference is definitely not unity-promoting to me.
Overall it seems Church leadership values the appearance of agreement over truth claims and mistakes that for unity. It creates the opposite of unity by all the boundary-policing aimed at keeping up that appearance.
I wish we could be united in showing love to one another and making Christ, not Church or prophets, central to our worship.
In the days leading up to GC, my ward and stake facebook pages are filled with lots of hype about GC, how we are so blessed to have a living prophet, invite your friends to watch, etc. In the days following, more posts and comments gushing about this or that talk, fawning over leaders, etc. Local leaders seem to assume that every GC is a mindblowingly awesome experience, and that everyone’s experience with it is equally euphoric (over-promising, under-delivering). Conference only gives the illusion of unity. This is especially apparent when every right hand in the conference center is raised to sustain our current leaders; experience tells us this is not a representative sample of Church members worldwide, but unanimity is what we see on screen. Regular members don’t have permission to say anything openly critical or negative about GC content or programming. Instead, the dry talks become the source material for our even drier lessons for the next 6 months.
For all of Elder Holland’s recent faulty messaging, I will at least give him credit for publicly clarifying that it is normal for kids to find Conference incredibly boring.
Let me echo comments I have read on other W&T posts. I am disappointed that we hear countless quotes of RMN quotes in GC talks, but very few quotes of the Savior.
I for one am tired of the GAs constantly quoting and congratulating themselves. With all the emphasis on changing the name of the church to include “Jesus,” you would think we would hear more of his words than those of the GAs.
@jack hughes, it cracks me up when I see people talking up Conference on FB and inviting all their non-LDS friends to watch. I’m like – no honestly – do you REALLY think that people are going to find it uplifting / inspiring? Or are you just virtue-signaling? Genuinely curious.
Of course I’m not going to invite my friends over to watch conference with me–not if I intend to stay friends with them.
I wonder if all the hype and overselling of GC is really just a strategy to make watching conference more of an obligation for existing Church members, rather than a genuine attempt to expand the audience. It certainly feels like watching every session is the baseline expectation now. It didn’t used to be that way.
Good and timely post. I made a decision about eight years ago to never watch conference again. That has done wonders for my blood pressure. And I’ll only read a conference address if folks in the bloggernacle have given it good reviews. I don’t have time for condescending, divisive crap anymore. To the great points made in the OP and in the comments, I’ll just sort of piggyback on the notion of being unified:
It’s clear that when the church speaks of unity, they mean a very particular kind of unity; one based on institutional loyalty, obedience, and a generally agreed upon set of beliefs. Buying into that, as Elisa points out above, means buying into an extremely sketchy and unverifiable set of truth claims. And insisting upon that set of truth claims being the foundation of Christ’s church actually creates an insurmountable barrier when it comes to unity. How can we have unity (or at least say we value it) when our church’s teachings are so divisive and short-sighted? The way to have unity is to love everyone, treat every person as equal in the eyes of God and ensure that everyone has their rights established and protected. In other words, true unity only happens if we consider the entire human family as being one rather than thinking in a small-minded and tribal way about unity (“we’re the one true church”, “you need to be sealed in the temple to be a family”, “LGBTQ people and women cannot be full citizens in the kingdom of God”, etc.). Such an expansive view of humanity and unity is actually present in the seeds of Mormon thought, but they’ve generally been extinguished by the fiery zeal of Mormon exceptionalism. So it’s just bizarre that we call for unity and suggest it’s an institutional desideratum when we are really, in actual practice, an exclusionary, elitist church. Of course, for some TBMs, that’s the very definition of unity: “We’re all unified against the world/Satan/LGBTQ people/swear words in movies. Hooray for us!” However, that’s an extraordinarily limited and limiting view both of the teachings of Christ and of our fellow human beings.
I have kind of a weird take on this.
I live in Asia, so typically we go to church on conference Sunday and do “conference weekend” the next weekend. Conference is never “fun”, but it does create a uniting experience in that “At least me and my fellow ward members (and saints in Asia) are in this together in staying home on watching conference on a beautiful Saturday and Sunday.”
A couple years ago we got a new district president from Utah who decided to change that tradition and align conference weekend with Salt Lake (his family didn’t like getting spoilers). So we’re supposed to watch the Saturday sessions on Sunday, and watch the Sunday sessions…during the week whenever we can get the time (in addition to doing Come Follow Me, Youth Activities, Firesides, etc…)
The result is- from people I know and talk to that many families just no longer watch the Sunday sessions. We’re not united with the saints in Utah, and we’re not united with the saints in our own branch (and Asia)- so watching conference feels very isolating and weird.
I never would have said that conference is a uniting experience- but after being told to just “watch in on your own during the week”, I realize that the act of everybody getting together to watch it at the same time (regardless of how much we agree or disagree with the messages), is in and of itself a uniting experience.
*As a side note, after missing the Sunday session several times, my family (and several other families) have found a good solution that works for us. We watch the Saturday session on Sunday, and then we also take the next Sunday off of church to watch the Sunday session. It splits the sessions up to make them more digestible, and our “Conference Sundays” have become kind of a nice tradition.
Having read that 80% of members over 40 voted trump and something like 60% still believe he won. And that all conference speakers are over 40.
Are conference speakers are more likely to be in that demographic?
To me trump supporters have no moral credibility.
Having lived in all the continents in the Old World now and each time zone in the US while attending church, it is ALWAYS a bad idea to let into leadership anyone imported from Utah. Full stop.
Sorry meant to quote the line from aporetic1 about their district president changing things.
I despise all things ‘Utah’, and that’s someone who liked their BYU undergrad experience.
With the church having solved it’s money problems (I argue it views its liquid assets as an endowment where the church has built a fence around the core and will only use a portion of the returns for charitable or operational expenditures), I wonder at times if it is has written off North America. We are a contemptuous child. We question, we push back, we are critical thinkers who are increasingly demanding theological cogency and meaning in lived religions more than the virtue of “follow the prophet”. Through internal research and publicly available sources, the church must recognize we in NA are becoming more European in our attitudes and relationship with organized religion. The future of the church, I’m guessing the Q15 reasons, lies in Africa, possibly in jump starting South American and Central America, and in recovering the Philippines. I see evidence of this when I look at what the church is not doing to address serious problems within the church in NA. For example, there seems to be little appetite for the church to tackle the glaring problem of racism that is braided deeply into the Utah Mormon religious culture. Figures like Brad Wilcox don’t even receive an official response from the church. You might argue BYU”s reprimand counts, but Wilcox’s YM’s calling certainly makes the Q15 his most relevant church boss. Other examples abound, such as the percent of NA Mormons who believe in QANON and in other absurd political narratives around the “stolen election”. The church responded to some of this in handbook updates, but I guess it’s not a big enough concern to warrant a direct treatment in GC.
I’m sure the church doesn’t want its members to be divided, but it seems more than willing to accept the costs of division among women and those who advocate for gender equality. The church seems to care little about creating division for those members who not only support gay marriage but would like institutions such as BYU to act with more honor–and honesty–when it comes to the way in which it is treating its gay students. My point is that the church drew some bright lines this last conference, costs be damned. Again, with a massive cash treasure chest, maybe they feel like they can tell members in North America to go pound sand if they aren’t 100% on board with the church’s expressed narrow fit on these as well as other issues. I understand the church has the right to draw lines around its beliefs and how they are interpreted as policy. Still, there are costs associated with doing that and the church seems perfectly comfortable accepting those costs. Or are they? The push for more missionaries seems to suggest even as they are fully comfortable alienating some proportion of the church’s women as well as its marginalized members and those who support them, there was an unmistakable sense of desperation around the lack of membership growth and young men serving missions.
As I walk around these issues, another idea comes to my mind: The church hasn’t figured out how to effectively scale. We are one size fits all. This is probably what explains our lack of growth even more than phenomena like Covid. We already know half our members are single and mostly invisible and undervalued–we haven’t carved out a space for them to be fully engaged. It gets a mention last GC, then fades with no material action taken. We limit the role of women, which further reduces engagement. We send mixed signals to LGBTQ+ members at best, and are passive aggressive leaning to being openly hostile to these members and their supporters at worse, which disengages another what, 7-10%? We gutted our youth programs and obliterated the young men’s programs. Missions are only a good fit for our young men and women who are at the mean, plus or minus one standard deviation on a number of key personality traits. So we effectively exclude more than 30% of our youth before we even get to other reasons why our young men and young women aren’t enthused to rush out to serve missions. (And it feels like the “service” mission model option has effectively failed.)
For a global religion with a claimed eternal vision, our church in 2022 still feels like it is living in the 1970’s, and my view is general conference seems to confirm this narrowness. If GC doesn’t purposely create division, it excludes at least 30% of our members and maybe as much as 50% through our cultural narrowness. I don’t expect to see anything change until we start to see much more imagination expressed at GC, and with the current playbill, I don’t see that happening until we see several senior members of the Q15 retire and move on to their next mission. Even then, I’m probably not long on anything changing, leadership turnover notwithstanding.
@Elisa, on my mission, I dreaded the biannual mandate to convince our investigators to come with us to watch GC via satellite, with the irresistible hook that they would be hearing from PROPHETS and APOSTLES. I knew all too well that it was a bait and switch, as our investigators likely pictured Moses coming down from the mountain, tablets in hand, or Peter commanding the lame man to walk. Since prophets deliver messages straight from God Himself, how could their sermons be anything short of phenomenal? But instead, the poor investigator sits through two hours of speeches devoid of anything new or profound. I preferred to sweep GC under the rug along with polygamy and seerstones.
@BigSky, you say we’re becoming more critical thinkers in North America and then you say too many of us in North America believe in QAnon and Trump’s Big Lie about the election … the second point belies the first 😦
Pontius Python, I also think we are more cynical thinkers than critical thinkers. Distrust is not the same as critical thinking.
@De Novo, I too am looking for that same kind of open, honest and thoughtful community that provides true spiritual nourishment and weekly renewal of my soul. It certainly can’t be found in my ward where the Prosperity Gospel is front and center of the ward’s worship. What saddens me the most is that vast majority of the adult ward members buy into this pernicious faux doctrine but don’t even realize that it flies in the face of all of Christ’s .teachings.
Perhaps we should start a Wheat and Tares Sunday School or Sunday forum like Dialogue has done with their weekly online Sunday School class. Is anyone else interested in doing this?
Thanks for the comments, everyone. Fine discussion.
Not a Cougar: “As for missionaries, in my very limited experience, even the bluest of TBMs are starting to notice the problems with the mission program …” Yes, for me this was one of the big takeaways from Conference. All of a sudden everyone, from the pews to the COB, is figuring out it’s not working anymore, at least for the missionaries.
JCS: “The Church cannot survive as a zoom-only experience.” Honestly, JCS, I never thought you’d make one of my responses to selected comments replies. Funny, just a couple of years ago the Church was largely opposed to *any* Zooming of meetings or interviews. How quickly things change!
Jack Hughes: “Of course I’m not going to invite my friends over to watch conference with me–not if I intend to stay friends with them.” Write this on a sheet of paper in crayon, send it to Elder Holland, and it might get quoted in the next General Conference.
A Poor Wayfaring Stranger: “Perhaps we should start a Wheat and Tares Sunday School or Sunday forum like Dialogue has done with their weekly online Sunday School class.” I’ll kick this around the backlist. Maybe we’ll give it a try. We’d have to ponder whether to try and make it edifying (pulling an uplifting scripture or two out of the weekly chapters assigned) or critical (correcting some of the errant remarks or interpretations listed in the LDS manual).
It brings the faithful together, at the same time as keeping others apart. I’ve commented on numerous issues such as a remodellng of the missionary experience to include service projects, to returning marriage to where they belong, in the chapel where all invited gusts can attend, and not regret years later for not having done so, to reducing the percentage of tithing being paid in light of the Church’s billions of dollars reaped in financial investments each year. But the geriatrics are not very good at reading the times.
Oh, I totally mis-read that headline as “If Ye Are Not One [i.e., not a Mormon], Ye Are Not Mine.” Because I’m not one. Guess this is one of these quotes you guys all know.