Sunday Afternoon General Conference: The Only True and Living Session With Which the ‘Nacle Is Well Pleased

The True and Everlasting Warm Fuzzy Jar

The True and Everlasting Fuzzy Jar

Welcome to By Common Consent’s coverage of the 5th and final session of the 179th Semi-Annual General Conference! Please stay tuned for updates, and also remember to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter, and watch it live streaming from LDS.org. While we at BCC are understanding of the difficulties in staying awake during the last session because we overate during lunch, there will be no tolerance for comments that are less than zippy, peppy, or loaded with warm fuzzies.

For those interested, I did conduct a few street interviews during the break with a handful of street preachers. Unfortunately, most of them were less than animated, so it will take some time to get the video up. I will do so as soon as possible, but it may come after conference is over.

This should be a great session–we have yet to hear from Elders Cook, Holland, or Christofferson from the 12, so hopefully all of those will speak to us at some point. President Monson just arrived in the Conference Center, so we are set to start in about 5 minutes.

President Uchtdorf will be conducting this session: His suit is dark. His tie is striped. His hair is fantastic. Up first will be Elder Holland, followed by Elder Cook–looks like they’re coming out swinging for the last session!

From Elder Holland:

“But there is one kind of latter-day destruction that has always sounded to me more personal than public, more individual than collective, a warning, perhaps more applicable inside the Church than outside it. The Savior warned that in the last days even those of ‘the covenant,’ the very elect, could be deceived by the enemy of truth.”

I didn’t really see that lead-in going into a defense of the Book of Mormon, but that was an amazingly powerful address. Elder Holland never disappoints.

In addition to a message about morality and parental responsibilities in taking care of ourselves and families, Elder Cook is emphasizing the responsibility of members of the Church to take care of the poor and needy–which “includes virtually all of us at one time or another.” This topic has received some attention this conference, but it still hasn’t seemed to be a major theme of the conference, has it?

Woot! for Finnish Missionaries!! Bio information for Elder Nielson here.

Also, new pictures are up!

This is personally a very touching talk for me–having served in Finland. The stories of the missionaries being sent from Finland to Russia, and the miracles in opening up Finland are inspiring. The story of Viipuri, and how it was taken by Russia after WW2 is tragic–the city has fallen into complete ruins.

A little bit about Elder Renlund is here, Elder Ringwood here, and Elder Sitati here.

Who among us is eager to see Elder Sitati stand to the pulpit and speak?

Elder Renlund and Elder Ringwood both talk about hard hearts…I certainly hope all you hard-hearted folks are repenting!

What an amazing choice of topic for Elder Sitati.

There are a few new pics up on the photography thread. One more address now from President Monson, and that will be all. I’m sorry I haven’t given much of anything on the last talks–I’m just exhausted!

We will be adding captions to the photos as time permits over the next day or two, as well as in-depth analysis of talks given during the past two days, starting tomorrow.

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Sunday Afternoon General Conference: The Only True and Living Session With Which the 'Nacle Is Well Pleased

Comments

  1. must be optimistic as well.

  2. Kim Siever says:

    We should be hearing from Elder Sitati, too.

  3. Tanya Spackman says:

    “From the conferences center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City….”

  4. Tanya Spackman says:

    Sorry for the extra s.

  5. Tanya Spackman says:

    I like Elder Uchdorf’s Saturday tie better. The stripes on this one are too bold.

  6. I’m still seeing ads for “organic” health products and Richard Paul Evans on ksl.

  7. Elder Jensen! My hero.

  8. Tanya Spackman says:

    I LOVE “O Divine Redeemer”!!!!!!

  9. Nifty arrangement of opening “In Hymns of Praise”. Lots of notes for the organist!

  10. I always knew we were kindred spirits, Ardis.

  11. I feel like I’m in a time warp. I’ll get what each of you are saying in a couple of minutes, I guess.

  12. And a shout-out with Tanya for “O Divine Redeemer” (a real composition, not just a hymn)

  13. kewinters says:

    Is this song in the hymnal? What number?

  14. Tanya Spackman says:

    The praying person’s tie is meh.

  15. Hey, with any luck we’ll solve the translation issue in this thread!

  16. Kim Siever says:

    Elder Jensen accompanied President Monson to our last broadcasted stake conference.

  17. I LOVED the opening to this (second) song

  18. I love this song, even if the opening lines sound like a Zelda dungeon theme.

  19. Tanya Spackman says:

    “In Hymns of Praise” is in the hymnbook, #75.

  20. I grew up with my parents singing a duet of O Divine Redeemer. One of my all-time favorites. It hasn’t started yet for me, though. Prayer just started.

  21. Kim Siever says:

    Tanya had her eyes open during prayer!

  22. #13: “In Hymns of Praise” – #75 in hymnal.

    Methinks today’s version was not a Wilberg arrangement

  23. NoCoolName: My wife asks “even if,” or “because” ?

  24. Ebenezer Robinson says:

    Ardis:
    I’m with you. Yay Elder Jensen!

  25. 23, LOL – Probably a strange mix of both!

  26. gillsyk #22,
    Indeed…

  27. Just as I’m about to settle down for a long conference nap, they perform one of my favorite songs.

  28. New pictures up.

  29. Something we noticed about the MoveNetworks lds.org video feed: on the computer downstairs (plugged into the router), the delay from live (even when “live”) is less than on my laptop upstairs connected over wifi. Interesting.

    “Let not the sword of vengeance smite me, though righteous thine anger, O Lord.” I love this song.

  30. Tanya Spackman says:

    Elder Holland is sporting a shiny, light blue tie. It looks lovely. (I have a thing for light blue ties.)

  31. Hearing such high notes sung so delicately is rare – and wonderful. Beautiful.

  32. I love O Divine Redeemer.

  33. The word of the session is PRAYER. Boy were the kids happy to hear Elder Holland thank the choir for that choral prayer. The raid on the candy bowl has begun.

  34. Were the MoTab sisters wearing necklaces in the last session?

  35. The song apparently sidetracked Holland a bit.

  36. Props to Elder Holland for acknowledging the Choir’s music

  37. I love how visibly moved Holland is by the music.

  38. I’m bringing Tanya with me next time I shop for ties.

  39. Indeed, Ray (31). Delicate is just the word for it.

  40. Yes, there were necklaces last session.

  41. Left Field says:

    Elder Holland is the first speaker. He’ll have to go some to beat his sermon in April.

  42. Kim Siever says:

    Yes, they were wearing necklaces.

  43. Yes, Tanya (30), you mentioned it this morning!

  44. Tanya Spackman says:

    “The rod marks the way of that solitary, redeeming trail.”

  45. Robert B. says:

    Isn’t President Uchtdorf’s tie a non-American left to right stripe? I haven’t been paying attention but aren’t the other ties standard American right to left stripes?

  46. Oh, but that really is a cool tie!

    Left Field, buckle your seat belt. He’s been consistently hitting out of the park.

  47. I love listening to Elder Holland. He always delivers a true, moving “sermon”.

  48. I hold in my hand that book.
    Wow.

  49. Tanya Spackman says:

    “Love. Healing. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times, including the end of times. That is the safe harbor got wants for us in personal or public days of despair.”

  50. Tanya Spackman says:

    got —> God

  51. Remind me the chapter Hyrum read?

  52. Kim Siever says:

    I think it’s cool that they still have that copy of the Book of Mormon.

  53. My sister: “Why isn’t he using gloves?”

  54. Kim Siever says:

    “would they blaspheme before God”?

  55. Ether 12

  56. Holland should be wearing gloves holding such a book!

  57. I was going to post my praise of Elder Holland’s tie, too, but everyone beat me to it. It looks like it has a bit of a purple tinge to it.

  58. Elder Holland is getting really riled up. I like it!

  59. Holland is combative today!

  60. Someone at the church archives has a heart attack everytime he holds that book up.

  61. Kim Siever says:

    Love his lambasting of BOM detractors.

  62. Tanya Spackman says:

    Elder Holland rocks.

  63. A powerful point that deserves more attention. Joseph’s available sermons don’t reference the Book of Mormon hardly at all, but here we have Joseph in Carthage testifying of its authenticity.

    “frankly pathetic” woot

  64. “cunning genius” –> “frankly pathetic” Woot! Tell ‘em, elder!

  65. Wow, the double woot.

  66. Thx TMD.

  67. As least you didn’t resort to exclamation points, B.

  68. WOW!!

  69. Tanya Spackman says:

    “And still it stands.”

  70. “pathetic”

    here’s the firebrand preaching another commented was asking for yesterday

  71. Like that, Ardis? :)

  72. Way to go Vetter Marlin

  73. I wonder how much he paid for that book on eBay?

  74. “Crawling over, under or around the Book of Mormon.” A stone of stumbling, a rock of offense. This is an awesome talk.

  75. Please please please let it be my turn to teach TFOT when this talk comes up on our schedule.

  76. Kim Siever says:

    Is it just me, or do Elder Holland’s talk get better each conference?

  77. Powerful testimony…

  78. This is stupendous. Woot indeed.

  79. Agree with Ardis (75) – I would love to teach this talk. What strings do I need to pull in the next few months to get re-called as an EQ instructor…

  80. I did not . . . but . . .

    This is awesome.

  81. Nephi’s last testimony–most powerful testimony ever recorded. Holland is right on to quote it as part of this powerful testimony.

  82. Robert B., Elders Perry, Scott & Bednar wore ties slanting the same way as President U’s. His tie yesterday slanted the opposite way, as did E. Oaks’.

  83. I’m not really watching Conference, only hearing snippets, but did I just hear Holland denounce the Ethan Smith and Solomon Spaulding theories?

    He sounds pissed!

  84. Houston, we have an apostle.

  85. From the most exciting speaker at conference to the most bo….

  86. and like them, I. lie. not.

    Under my oath and my office . . .

  87. Skeptical says:

    Hmm…. as one who is unsure of my membership in the church, I find Holland’s comments and tone to be more insulting than inviting or persuasive.

    Saying it’s true really loudly doesn’t assuage the very real historical concerns of those of us who are formerly faithful and really trying to make the right decision.

  88. Elders Holland’s talk is one of the most powerful I have ever heard.

  89. The BoM itself (as a stone of stumbling) as a type of Christ. Wow.

  90. Let’s hear it for fatboy slim! (sorry, a recycled Steve Evans joke)

  91. He sounds convinced, Jack. Better language, please, in this context.

  92. Tanya Spackman says:

    That was an incredible sermon. Thank you, Elder Holland.

  93. As one who spends a great deal of time “on the fence,” Skeptical, I found this talk quite powerful.

  94. Tanya Spackman says:

    Elder Cook has a decent tie. I think I’m growing bored with all the red ties.

  95. No, I like “pissed”—as in pissed off at detractors and critics.

    But I’m sure he is convinced.

  96. alextvalencic says:

    Jack, yes, Elder Holland is uber-pissed at BoM naysayers. And he makes it known!

  97. @ Skeptical (#87),

    I would agree. Holland’s fiery rhetoric tends to gloss over some of the legitimate concerns that one might have with the Book of Mormon’s historicity and origins.

  98. Ariel his point is that historical concerns about the book must be balanced by the incredible facts and contemporary history surrounding it. It is amazing to consider that it was the book they turned to, spiritually, before their death.

  99. Left Field says:

    Grand slam.

  100. Thanks for that mental image yet again, Jack. Don’t you listen to yourself ever??

  101. Skeptical, I’m not sure it’s meant to be inviting.

  102. Skeptical: check out Moroni 10:3-5. ;)

  103. . . . That having been said, Holland is an amazing orator, and he does make bring some important points to the forefront.

  104. Insulting? I can see that.

    Fwiw, I don’t think Elder Holland would mind hearing that.

  105. Oops, 98 is meant for skeptical not Ariel

  106. Ardis, get over it. That particular word is very much in general usage.

  107. Natalie K. says:

    …… What if we serve just because we love the people? …..

    Or because we’re trying to bring down a deranged capitalist system? Does it have to be one of Elder Cook’s two reasons?

  108. I can understand Holland’s tone.

    The Spalding theory was a lie. Hurlbut knew it, but he published it anyways.

    /threadjack

  109. I’m glad I don’t have to be the speaker to follow Elder Holland.

  110. Yes, Ardis. And I like myself. A lot.

    At least Alex agrees with me.

  111. Elder Holland is amazing. His last number of addresses have been incredible messages.

  112. After Holland, my 7-year-old son said, “he was a loud one.”

    Interestingly, Elder Holland denunciation of BoM detractors and testimony of it focused explicitly on divinity, not historicity per se. The fiery arrows directed at the fraud-criers sailed passed the inspired fiction crowd unscathed.

  113. Natalie, I really think that’s nitpicking of the highest order in this particular context and time.

  114. MCQ: So are “butt out” and “you suck.”

  115. TrevorM: Well said.

  116. We’re still on pause waiting for the elaborate King Benjaminish tents to be built in the family room. I’ll see you all later…

  117. Ron Madson says:

    BOM–true!

    But wouldn’t that be an ironic twist if the “great and spacious building” and “those pointing finger of scorn” was not Hollywood or the world, but like ancient Jerusalem an image of those inhabiting the “accepted synagogue” or creed and condemning those who were the humble followers of “Christ.”

  118. Ecosermons!

  119. Holland was drunk?

  120. Jack, I think it isn’t just me in a bad mood today.

    But yeah, the Spaulding theory is just retarded.

    It requires the same kind of far-fetched conspiracy thinking that you find on discussions how NASA faked the moon landings.

  121. “a certain city” — has Vegas become so evil that they won’t even mention it by name?

  122. kewinters says:

    I’m with you, Jack.

    109- absolutely.

  123. Let’s play nice, everyone. :) The see-saw effect of hearing about love and reading spats is giving me whiplash.

  124. Tanya Spackman says:

    Alison, that’s cool! If I ever have kids, I’m totally going to steal that idea.

  125. Nice, Ardis.

  126. The Spalding theory has been buried time and again. Those who still propound it wave the flag of the hopelessly uninformed, IMO.

  127. Who knew that Sevier County was so boring?

  128. Elder Holland’s talk moved me to tears.

  129. kewinters says:

    VEGAS!!!

  130. Natalie, I like to think that Elder Cook’s reason would lead us to share your perspective. Unfortunately, I am a bit lonely in this.

  131. Elder Holland FTW!

  132. I grew up in Sevier County.

    The sign was probably right.

  133. #120 Seth ~ That wasn’t a bad-mood comment. I admired the talk (what I heard of it). And I’ve never been a Spaulding or an Ethan Smith theorist.

    BTW, Ardis, I visited a Presbyterian church a few weeks ago, and one of the women speaking there was named Ardis. So it made me think of you because you’re the only two people I’ve seen with that name.

    I’m sure you were dying to know that.

    Have a nice Conference, everyone.

  134. Kim Siever says:

    I wonder if Mormon Messages will use Elder Holland’s talk first.

  135. Thanks, Tanya (#124), but I can’t take credit. Someone much more creative came up with that one. A bunch of women gave me ideas and I compiled them. This year we tried the tent idea. I think it’s a keeper.

  136. Kim Siever says:

    If ther was one thing I hated about my mission in Utah, it was repeatedly being called Elder Sevier.

  137. the Mormon Message treatment of Holland’s last talk was impressive. I hope this one is as good.

  138. What’s “Mormon Message,” please?

  139. Tanya Spackman says:

    Elder Cook’s talk was very good, but I’m still recovering from Elder Holland’s. I’ll have to read Elder Cook’s.

  140. What is this “Mormon Message” stuff you are talking about?

  141. “We try to emulate Jesus Christ.”

    I love the way he talks of “why” we do what we do.

  142. Tanya Spackman says:

    Another red tie. But I like this one better. The pattern makes a lot of difference, and red looks good against Elder Nielson’s skin tone.

  143. The themes in Elder Cook’s are important to my work, but like Tanya, I will need to process his talk later. Elder Holland would be rough to follow anyday, but today…wow.

  144. Kim Siever says:

    –http://www.youtube.com/user/mormonmessages?blend=1&ob=4–

  145. alextvalencic says:

    Mormon Messages on YouTube – the official church YouTube channel!

  146. Nice talk, Elder Cook. I hadn’t heard the MLK III quote before.

  147. kewinters says:

    “Mormon Messages” are inspirational and/or sappy videos that the Church puts on the lds.org homepage and Youtube.

  148. Kim Siever says:

    Elder Nielson’s story of his son is so cool.

  149. My wife served in that mission, St. Pete!

  150. Thanks, kew.

  151. Very cool story.

  152. I had a similar experience with my own father. I ended up serving where he was called to go, but did not accept.

  153. I’m liking Elder Neilson’s talk. My FIL was an MP in Russia.

  154. Natalie K. says:

    Chris, what is your work?

    I really appreciate the sentiments in Cook’s talk. I just have a very different model of social change…. I have no issue with his talk, but I feel like many hearers will take it to mean that volunteerism is the only Christlike way to get involved in society’s problems. It puts people who might be engaged in more confrontational struggles in a tense spot.

  155. I did not realize . . . I was praying for my son.

    This is beautiful.

  156. queno: who?

  157. Kim Siever says:

    Agreed, Ray.

  158. I love when we’re reminded that the Lord’s timetable isn’t our timetable. Sometimes it takes a long time for prayers to be answered. We shouldn’t lose faith about it if we don’t get instant gratification.

  159. Elder Holland in this context is presenting a sermon, not an extended argument, imo.

  160. Natalie K. says:

    Those missionaries picking olives are going to have awfully yellow sweat stains on their white shirts.

  161. Natalie,
    I am a political philosopher. My primary interest is theories of social justice. I think the idea of service and social democratic social change should go hand and hand. I very much view these things similar to the way you do (at least from you comments today).

  162. Kim Siever says:

    Yay! Elder Sitati spoke at our stake conference two weeks ago. He is a powerful speaker with inspiring stories.

  163. HOLLAND ROCKS!!

  164. Beautiful talk Cook!

  165. “young men and young women who step forward and say, ‘Here am I. Send me.'”

  166. Laurie in KC says:

    Natalie, I agree. Meaningful social change is enhanced both by volunteerism and by policy changes. Continuing to serve in the soup kitchen because it is so fulfilling somewhat misses the point.

  167. Kim Siever says:

    I wish they’d stop cutting hymns short. A song of the righteous is a prayer unto God.

  168. One verse….Must be running short on time for the speakers that are left.

  169. BHodges – Email me at queuno @ gmail dot com. I’d like to hold to what last vestiges of anonymity I have. (regretting even having said anything.)

  170. Elder Holland’s talk was too long so they had to cut the hymn short. I’ll take that kind of trade.

  171. I meant to bold “and young women” – I really liked that.

  172. Tanya Spackman says:

    I can’t tell if Elder Renlund’s tie is grey with mottling or grey with a pink pattern. I generally yawn at grey, but since I can’t quite tell what his tie is, it keeps my attention. So I guess I’ll call this tie a success. At the least, it has an interesting pattern to keep it from being only a boring grey.

    I’m leaning towards a pink pattern because that looks like a pink handkerchief in his pocket, as a matching accent.

    Okay, I’ve talked myself into really liking his tie.

  173. Quick – guess what line of work Elder Renlund is in.

  174. Fashion designer?

  175. Elder Neilsen’s talk was another data point for my pet theory: the sons of general authorities overwhelmingly tend to serve missions in 1) posh countries (ie Switzerland), 2) countries newly opened to preaching, or 3) countries in which their fathers served.

  176. #171 – Cannibal?

  177. alextvalencic says:

    I think that Elder Renlund’s tie is a charcoal and lavender paisley.

  178. #175 – Yeah, but what color is it?

  179. WOWW!!!! So, he worked on the Sabbath, purposefully skipped church, and STILL became a GA. GOOD ON HIM!!!

  180. Tanya Spackman says:

    I think you’re right, alextvalencic. I like paisley.

  181. I think that should have been PURPOSELY in post 177.

  182. My husband has a tie like that, but not paisley. Sort of mottled. It’s my fave.

  183. Tanya Spackman says:

    “To endure to the end we need to be eager to please God, and worship him with fervor and passion.”

  184. This tie may even beat President Uchtdorf’s from yesterday. The matching pocketsquare is a definite win.

  185. ANother Natural Man reference.

  186. Ebenezer Robinson says:

    Rob #166
    Years ago, when SWK was still in the 12, he came to LA Stake, where the stake chorister had a tendency to cut congregational hymns short. After an abbreviated middle hymn, Elder Kimball stood up and said (something to the effect that) “I always think that the great message in our hymns is contained in the fourth verse.” We sang all the verses after that.

  187. We’re playing the take-a-candy game with the words “Jesus,” “temple,” and “commandment.” Slow going. My 7-year-old son just said, “next time, let’s play with ‘testimony,’ ‘prophet,’ and ‘spirit.'”

  188. Tanya Spackman says:

    Elder Ringwood’s tie is merely okay, but the name “Ringwood” is really cool.

  189. This tie reminds me of my nerd missionary brother. :)

  190. EBENEZER — in our ward, we used to often sing only the first verse in PH OPening Exercises. We were admonished a few months ago that we should sing ALL verses.

  191. BRAD–we are also playing, and this session the word is PRAYER. We debated whether to use PRAY or PRAYER. The kids are a little disappointed that we went with PRAYER.

  192. Skeptical says:

    Elder Renlund’s talk was inspiring. As an outreach to possibly disaffected members, his humility and simplicity were much more moving than all of Holland’s impressive fire.

  193. Thanks, BHodges. I find it instructive when that particular quote is pulled out once again. It’s the Spaulding Theory of quotes.

  194. Kim Siever says:

    Rob, we were doing the same thing in our opening exercises. Then I was asked to lead the music several weeks in a row. Now everyone who leads the music does all the verses.

  195. That is to say, many of the issues which drew Elder Roberts’ attention have now been solved as more information about the ancient world has become available. But rather than making Roberts look out of step, it actually vindicates him further. Roberts expressed faith that this increase in understanding and scholarship would be the case, and has thus been vindicated.

    Roberts:

    “We who accept [the Book of Mormon] as a revelation from God have every reason to believe that it will endure every test; and the more thoroughly it is investigated, the greater shall be its ultimate triumph” (“The Translation of the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era (April 1906): 435–436).

  196. BHodges… there is still an open question as to whether Roberts’s public testimony matched his private testimony concerning the ancient historicity of the BofM.

  197. Skeptical, I seriously doubt Elder Holland wrote his talk as an “outreach”.

  198. 191- not to mention it misrepresents what Holland said and the CES manual.

  199. Ray: yes, it is typical quote-mining, and Roberts’s forthrightness is ironically abused by people who wish to misuse his writings.

  200. Yeah, the narrator, there’s no reason to believe BH Roberts was being honest. *sigh*

  201. 196: Not much of a question to anybody whose soul has responded to BHRoberts’s testimony. He was no liar.

  202. Kim Siever says:

    Following the words of this conferences will lead to easiness in believing the word of God.

  203. narrator,

    If you want to jump down that rabbit hole of pure speculation, be my guest.

  204. Re singing all verses: they’re on a broadcast schedule and the meeting must fit.

  205. Natalie K. says:

    Chris, that’s awesome. I can’t tell you how excited I get when I encounter social justice-oriented LDS folks. Now if only I had a few more in my immediate, real life. :)

  206. that should be 190 in my 197

  207. the narrator: I’ve done a significant amount of primary source digging on Roberts and am unconvinced by the “private testimony” theory. I should add, I went into it trying to get the best view possible, not to vindicate the BoM using Roberts. Had I found significant evidence to show he struggled privately I would not mind allowing him that struggle. :)

  208. Tanya Spackman says:

    Red is too popular a tie color. Elder Sitati’s red tie isn’t working for me.

  209. Kim Siever says:

    Gst, then they need to ensure speakers stick with their alloyed time.

  210. #191- Actually, once you get a old GA quote to support your lack of belief, then you don’t need any more study or faith.

  211. E. Renlund was the visiting authority at our stake conference in March. He rocks, as does his wife, Ruth.

    One great message after another today.

  212. kewinters says:

    Is this the first person of African descent to speak in conference?

  213. I would prefer that the apostles go over anyday and the MoTab be cut short. Go out and buy a CD if your fix has not been met.

  214. Natalie K. says:

    ……………….. A BLACK MAN?! IN CONFERENCE?!!?!?!?!?!?

    AND HE SOUNDS AFRICAN!?!?!?!??!?

    I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN LISTEN TO WHAT HE IS SAYING!!!!!!

  215. Elder Sitati is up next here. I just told my wife I am looking forward to some Margaret Young elation coming up.

  216. I can’t express how awesome it is to watch Elder Sitati speak in GC. I’m tearing up for no reason other than the visual effect.

  217. Woo, shoutout to Vancouver.

  218. alextvalencic says:

    Natalie 213 – just learned on Twitter that he’s the first GA from East Africa. Anyone know how long he has been serving in the Seventy?

  219. Interesting that he is talking of keys, descendants, covenants, dispensations, etc.

  220. 216, He was just called this year.

  221. He was called in April 2009.

  222. Left Field says:

    Helvicio Martins would have been the first black GA to speak in conference in 1990.

  223. I remember there being a black man in the Quorum of the Seventy when I was watching Conference back in the 1980s.

  224. alextvalencic says:

    I have finally realised what the phrase “God is no respecter of persons” actually means. About time!

  225. Maybe it’s my TV, but the flowers behind the podium don’t contrast very much from Elder Sitati’s skin color. It’s hard to see him.

  226. Abu Maryam says:

    from which country in E Africa?

  227. Tanya: I think I like his tie, especially because it looks like it has some pink stripes going on. But yeah, way too many red ties today.

  228. Natalie–Are you black?

  229. 224, Kenya

  230. One of the most powerful experiences of my life was in the Atlanta Temple, when the Lord reached through the veil – and he was black.

    I am so happy right now.

  231. Ebenezer Robinson says:

    #209 and others — What’s this about GAs coming to stake conference? All we get are 60-stake satellite visits. Is the Midwest being discriminated against?

  232. 228, That is awesome.

  233. Tanya Spackman says:

    Elder Christofferson’s tie is okay, not great. I like blue and silver, but I like more muted stripes. But I like narrow stripes better than wide stripes, so there’s that.

  234. Ray — 228 — That is freaking hilarious!!!

    Can we get a count of people on here by race?

    I’ll start — I’m white.

  235. finally here…took a drive on the Alpine Loop in-between sessions and the sudden snow made me slow way down. Been listening on the radio though. Woot to all, Elder Holland RAWKS, and I second the Jensen and Sitati love.

  236. kewinters says:

    Temples = no dowry = young people can afford to get married

  237. Rob, I don’t think it is hilarious, I think it is powerful and beautiful ;)

  238. Rob: “hilarious”?

  239. Rob, it wasn’t meant to be funny – and I will try my hardest not to take offense at #232.

  240. … and I can confirm that the hand through the veil is often black in the Columbia, South Carolina Temple too.

  241. Kim Siever says:

    Ebenezer,

    the pattern is supposed to be for every four stake conferences, two are regular, one is broadcast, and one is attended by GAs.

  242. Elder martins was an exceptional man of God. I was privileged to meet with him and his family in the MTC. His conversion story was powerful. I miss him.

  243. 226–I’m unquestionably white, but I’m about as excited as Natalie. This has been an awesome Conference!

  244. alextvalencic says:

    Ebenezer (#230) – I live in Illinois and we had Elder Bednar visit recently. (However, one of his sons is in my ward, and he was really here to visit his grandchildren. We were just beneficiaries of the trip.)

  245. One more thing:

    If you can’t respect it, at least please don’t mock it. I would rather you remain silent than respond inappropriately again.

  246. Tanya Spackman says:

    “The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments.”

  247. “The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments.”

    Very powerful!!

  248. Why not have BOTH laws to regulate behavior AND civilized behavior? This talk is a bit more political than I was expecting to hear.

  249. Brian, I had his son, Marcus, for the Book of Mormon at Ricks. Marcus now teaches at BYU-H.

  250. Rob, your focus on race is silly and irrelevant.

  251. Natalie K. says:

    Re. #234:
    I don’t know…. Plenty of temple marriages still cost about as much as any dowry could be expected to be.

    I don’t know too much about marriage traditions in Kenya, where I Elder Sitati is from, but in much of West Africa, the groom’s family has a whole series of gifts they give to the bride and her family as a recognition of the value she is adding to their family, and the loss her family will sustain when she leaves them. I think there is some very positive imagery there.

  252. I would parse out his idea that before sexual harassment laws, women were protected by men’s (now non-existent) gentlemanly natures…I’m not sure if that’s a valid claim to make.

  253. NCNT, I wonder if he isn’t saying something more like: Don’t depend on the government to enforce your morality, instead be a shining example of your morality, that other will want to emulate it?

  254. 249–Natalie–I think they watch too much Johnny Lingo in Africa.

  255. 250, Watching a few episodes of Mad Men disproves that theory right away.

  256. Everyone, Rob was responding to my experience. I’ve addressed it. I appreciate deeply your responses, but please let it die. I would rather the image remain than the bitter taste of such a reaction.

    So, I repeat:

    One of the most powerful experiences of my life was in the Atlanta Temple, when the Lord reached through the veil – and he was black.

    I am so happy right now.

  257. Aaron Brown says:

    This talk will spawn a million conversations about the supposed public policy implications of its content, and 100,000 counterarguments that it’s being overread.

  258. Rob…honestly. Really?

  259. This isn’t a pro-Libertarian speech.

    What he’s really saying is:

    “If there’s increased government regulation, it’s your own fault America – for not letting Christ govern your lives and dealings in the first place.”

  260. Laurie in KC says:

    The laws are enacted in response to the breakdown of compliance with social mores. But the laws do send a powerful message as to what is acceptable in society.

  261. 251, I like that. Sometimes it takes some time for me to parse out what is actually being said. Mentioning government, regulating behavior, and other current political controversies just seemed a bit odd for Conference. That’s all I meant.

  262. Ray: Amen.

  263. Tanya Spackman says:

    “Each must be persuaded that service and sacrifice for the well-being and happiness of others in love are far superior to making one’s own comfort and possessions the highest priority.”

  264. 250–I’m pretty sure it’s not a valid claim, but I think we can still learn from what he’s saying. It’s a shame we have to have laws to legislate behaviors that decent people should have anyway.

  265. Seth nails it again in 257.

  266. 253–I’m with you. Acknowledging that Mad Men is a product of 2009, I am extremely dubious of the “those were the good ol’ days when women were always respected” claim…I know too much evidence to the contrary.

  267. Aaron Brown says:

    I think #257 is a more accurate reading than #251.

    AB

  268. kewinters says:

    I didn’t realize that SC had a temple. Awesome. I have also done the math and determined that I am part of the 16% of the church that is more than 200 miles from a temple. Let’s build one in SW Virginia! (and one in Vicksburg, MS, where I am moving that is also >200 miles from a temple).

  269. If the Church’s teaching concerning birthcontrol, marriage, rape, modesty, etc have changed over time, are we guilty of this same condemnation of moral relativity?

  270. 262, Very true. I just don’t think it’s a recent development.

  271. Kim Siever says:

    My mother’s discipline put an abrupt end to my life of crime.

  272. 262: Of course, I agree. But it is good to have laws for all the not-decent people, right? Having the law doesn’t mean that decent people don’t know better.

  273. Laurie in KC says:

    #250, one interpretation of the actions of the US Government outlawing polygamy was that it was practiced and the mores regarding monogamous marriage were weakened.

  274. Kim Siever says:

    Mere wanting is hardly the proper guide for moral conduct.

  275. martin willey says:

    Elder Ringwood is Elder Nelson’s son-in-law.

  276. He just said my #251, so nyah to you, AB ;-)

  277. So far this whole session is filling my heart with great peace and joy (fairly foreign feelings lately).

  278. @249 I think there is some very positive imagery there.

    I don’t know of many American women who find the idea of getting bought very positive, and I’m surprised you do.

    (My family has banned the watching of Johnny Lingo. My daughter stayed home from a YW activity when it was going to be shown. The whole idea of a dowry is offensive. I’m reminded of the comment in the worldwide training/stake conference that sometimes local customs and traditions fall outside gospel traditions and need to be eliminated.)

  279. Natalie K. says:

    Wow. He just said “slept with”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a GA make such a casual reference to sex, even one so fleeting.

    Did that feel out of place to anyone else?

  280. alextvalencic says:

    Hey folks, why are my comment numbers one off from all of yours? (my browser says Chad’s comment was #252, not #251…)

  281. Aaron Brown says:

    Chad, I quickly read your comment as a normative libertarian reading, which I now see, after reading it again, was perhaps a misreading on my part.

    AB

  282. Jennifer in GA says:

    I think the custom Elder Sitati is referring to isn’t so much about the giving of a dowry, but instead where a man and a woman can live together for a trial period to decide if they are compatible, want to be man and wife, etc. When the trial time is over, they can seperate or stay together with no social ramifications.

  283. Kim Siever says:

    I think it is a nice gesture President Monson thanked those who gave the prayers. I also Am glad he said the hymns enriched conference.

  284. AB… I got lucky is all.

  285. #280, I think Sitati was pretty clear that he was referring to a dowry that must be paid since he was pointing out that many couples who could not afford the dowry chose instead to just live together without the marriage.

  286. Aaron Brown says:

    On a very solemn note, did anyone else notice that Elder Ringwood looks like he should be sporting long hair, a pony-tail, and riding a Harley? Seriously, I don’t know why I had that reaction, but I did. Never have had that thought before when watching a GC speaker. Hmmm.

  287. 280–In the Middle Ages in Europe they sometimes had a similar period called Handfasting. I believe the point was to make sure the woman would conceive. So, yeah, it’s possible.

  288. Natalie K. says:

    Queno –
    I think that is one possible interpretation, what people call the “bride price”. But the African men and women I talk to don’t envision it that way, but as a tribute to a woman’s value, economic and otherwise, to both her original family and her new family. They’re not “buying” the wife, but compensating her family for the loss they will sustain in losing her presence. It comes with a strict law that the woman can return to her family at any time if her husband mistreats her. Also, there are custom gifts given to the husband and his family as well.

    Just a note, a dowry is the opposite system, where a woman (or her father) has to pay a great deal of money to the man’s family before a marriage can take place.

  289. Tanya Spackman says:

    “We are a blessed people, with apostles and prophets on the Earth today.”

  290. “we are all in this together.”

    I like that!

  291. Tanya Spackman says:

    “We are one with you in moving forward this marvelous work. … We are all in this together, and every man, woman and child has a part to play.”

  292. We should be slow to condemn practices of cultures that we do not understand. This is not to say that we should not speak up for human rights, which we must, but it is easy to pick on other cultures.

  293. AB, I think you’re projecting. Maybe you have a secret desire you need to indulge. Happy mid-life crisis!

  294. Natalie K. says:

    Aw man, I loved how Monson started, but then he hated on the world again. :( I like the world. I think it has a lot more goodness than evil. Why are we always told that it is an awful, wicked place?

  295. I am feeling the prophet’s love. I love him, too.

  296. 292, I’d blame John. :-)

  297. My 4 year old son entered the living room at the start of pres monson’s remarks with a small plate of broken bread.

  298. 284, Maybe it’s the tan.

  299. Natalie K. says:

    Ah, just got to the “all in this together” line. Very nice.

    Lol. There should be a separate thread for those with a time delay. Altogether too many spoilers.

  300. Natalie, he is using it to represent the natural man and not a comdemnation of the entire world itself. I is a manner of speech. Feel the love.

  301. Tanya Spackman says:

    Natalie, maybe it’s the wars, rampant murders, rapes, other violent crimes, misery of drug addiction, things like that. Just a guess.

  302. “Why are we always told that it is an awful, wicked place?”

    There’s plenty to conemn, Natalie, but I think you’re right that there is a lot of good too. It depends on what you choose to focus on I guess, but the prophet is just warning us, as do the scriptures, about the wicked part.

  303. I have enjoyed spending conference with y’all. Thank you very much.

  304. Man, another great Conference. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful commentary (hope I wasn’t too annoying). A lot of things to like — and a lot of things that will send me to the books for more study.

  305. Awesome closing hymn!

  306. Tanya Spackman says:

    Awesome conference. I have been inspired. And I enjoyed the commentary here.

  307. Given how much has been said this conference and last conference about inter-faith efforts and the inspiration of a Methodist minister’s words to his children, I doubt highly that Pres. Monson is condemning “the entire world”.

  308. alextvalencic says:

    Is it wrong of me to wish that Pres. Monson would say, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.” Of course, he’d also have to be working on a fly fishing lure while saying this for it to be truly impactful.

  309. Tanya Spackman says:

    And for the final tie, meh. It matches his suit a bit too much.

  310. Natalie K. says:

    Tanya, that’s my point. All that is in the world, yes, but there is so much more than that. I encounter way more goodness than evil. We’re also living in a time where more people are able to be fully nourished than ever before, more people can read than ever before, and some centuries-old human rights violations are beginning to be addressed.

    Chris, maybe it wasn’t as literal as it seemed when I heard it. I’d rewind to find the exact words, but every time I do that, the whole program gets hopelessly frozen and I just miss a whole big chunk instead.

  311. Tanya, thanks for the excellent tie commentary.

  312. Aaron Brown says:

    But MCQ, I’m only 27!

  313. Kim Siever says:

    President Monson said he hoped I am a better person because of this conference. I don’t think I am, but I think I know what I need to do to be better.

  314. Laurie in KC says:

    Natalie, many of us in this nation feel that our society which sanctioned slavery and lynchings is not quite as wicked as the one we have now.

  315. Yes, thank you, almost everyone.

    Seriously, Rob, despite my contempt for one comment, I hope you are blessed along with all others who participated here today and yesterday.

  316. Laurie in KC says:

    I meant to say that the society now is not as wicked as the one that sanctioned slavery! OPPS!

  317. Natalie K. says:

    “Natalie, many of us in this nation feel that our society which sanctioned slavery and lynchings is not quite as wicked as the one we have now.”

    …… :( Depending on what you would consider the more evil things going on today, this statement could really, really depress me.

  318. “But MCQ, I’m only 27!”

    Quarter-life crisis. Sorry. It’s your constant maturity that fooled me.

  319. This was my first time following along online. I think I need some practice reading and listening at the same time! All in all, though, I think it was enriching. Thanks very much, and I’ll be back in the spring.

  320. Laurie in KC says:

    Natalie it depresses me too–I totally mistyped in my haste!

  321. 313–I truly appreciated your comment.

  322. Natalie,

    You are doing great. I have just found that it can sometimes be easy to get caught up in details that distract from the larger picture. Those details can also have a different meeting out of context.

    Hey, I live in Provo. I miss social justice-minded LDS folks as well. That is why the blogging community is so important to me. Keep coming around.

  323. Watching Pres. Monson with the young boy was touching.

  324. Laurie in KC says:

    I wonder if those who would concur with my mistyped comments are the ones who “just want their country back”.

  325. kewinters says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with #321.

  326. The high-five between President Monson and a young child, and now his greeting another child, is very touching.

  327. See y’all in six months.

  328. Laurie, where in KC do you live – if you feel comfortable sharing that here? I will be close to KC in a few weeks and just wonder.

  329. I’ve really enjoyed this conference, and I found that joining you all here was only sometimes a distraction. Other times it really enhanced my experience and the spirit I felt. Thank you all.

  330. Tanya, when are you going to go tie shopping with me? I need your help. :-)

  331. Tanya Spackman says:

    I’d be happy to go tie shopping with anyone who wants to come to DC :-)

  332. Kim Siever says:

    After President Monson blew a kiss to the congregation, my 4yo blew a kiss back.

  333. Tanya, my aunt Colleen lives in NW DC. She has good taste too. Must be in the water.

  334. Thanks, all. It’s been emotional.

  335. Laurie in KC says:

    Ray, we live right downtown and will be moving to Parkville in early November. When is your trip? We (Ebenezer Robinson and I) would love to see you!! :-)
    Email me at laurie@hstocks.net. Laurie

  336. As fervent as Elder Holland’s talk was, I do not think it will persuade anyone who disbelieves in the Book of Mormon.

    To me, it seemed over confrontational, even contentious.

    I suspect that the talk was not meant to persuade knowledgeable honest seekers with doubts about the Book of Mormon as it was 1. to strengthen the commitment of those of us who already believe the Book to be of divine origin, as I do, and 2. to indicate to outsiders how deep and how strong the feelings are of many Church members are about the Book.

  337. Mommie Dearest says:

    My most memorable sermon from this session: “O Divine Redeemer.” I really thought the first word spoken at the pulpit after this should have been “Amen,” so I related to Elder Holland’s gratitude about it and his calling it a prayer. And his remarks about the BoM, though not designed to persuade much, were very well said.

  338. Here is what I take from Elder Sit. with my mission experience in Southern Africa.

    The Bantu speaking peoples of Southern Africa have a tradition called a “Lebola” or bride price. Its money paid to the brides family. Its a lot of money. I am trying to properly translate how much it is. I would imagine its the equivelant of 15-25K in our money. Its really hard for men in their 20’s to come up with this type of money. So what happens is they have sex with and father children with longtime girlfriends while they save up money to pay the lebola. There were (1993-1995) entire branches in Southern Africa where few of the couples are married and they are having kids and are not ordained, on probation etc. Usually there would be one or 2 older couples who have managed to pay Lebola that were actually married who would be essentially running the branch because they were in fact able to be ordained, sealed etc.

    When two active LDS Bantu speaking young people get together and fall in love they make the trip to the temple and avoid Lebola and the delay and sin of the waiting for Lebola situation. The key here is access to the temple and the abandoment of Lebola and other unfortunate tribal customs.

  339. I’ve been trying to figure out why, of all pieces, we’ve picked “O Divine Redeemer” as the last vestige of our earlier attempts to incorporate the Western tradition of church music into our tradition. Angsty, decidedly Catholic, late French Romanticism seems an unlikely fit for Mormons…

    But they did sing it really well.

    Incidentally (#22), the arrangement of “In Hymns of Praise” was by the new assistant director of the MoTab, Ryan Murphy (who also conducted it).

  340. I’m surprised at the almost universally positive response to Elder Holland’s address. I agree with #336 that his remarks were “confrontational, even contentious” and with #87 that the address was almost insulting to legitimate critics of the BoM. I do not equate loudness and emotional fervor with spirituality.

  341. amen, CC

  342. When looking at Elder Holland’s talk, I think we need to make sure we know who his intended audience was.

    I agree that it was probably not helpful for those who have honest concerns about the Book of Mormon. It may have also served to strengthen the commitment of those who already believe and help others know that the Book of Mormon is important to us (as DavidH said), but I don’t think that would completely account for the combative tone of the talk. I mean, there are better ways to get those points across.

    I think he was probably speaking specifically to people who have been unduly critical of those who believe the Book of Mormon is of divine origin (i.e. trying to make believers feel like they are idiots for “ignoring” all of the claims against its authenticity) and to those who may have dishonest concerns about the Book of Mormon (i.e. those who want to use claims against the Book of Mormon as an excuse to leave the church or harass members, even if that’s not the real reason). Granted, this would be a very narrow audience, and when such a small group is chastised publicly it can lead to people feeling unfairly attacked. I really don’t think Elder Holland would be so harsh with people who have honest concerns, though.

  343. “(i.e. trying to make believers feel like they are idiots for “ignoring” all of the claims against its authenticity)”

    Who (and where) are these people?

  344. I really don’t think Elder Holland would be so harsh with people who have honest concerns, though.

    That’s the thing. He has publicly expressed (the PBS interviews) a far less combative, hostile, dismissive attitude toward non-BoM-believers or those with more, uh, attenuated beliefs about its divinity and/or authenticity. Perhaps this was a kind of pound of flesh in penance for his more liberal position in the PBS interview. Maybe he ran afoul of colleagues?

  345. Steve Evans says:

    Count me among those who wasn’t offended by Elder Holland. His talk was, I believe, geared towards the general membership. As such it was more of a pep rally speech or motivating speech rather than an attempt at some nuanced outreach. Those who want to criticize his strident approach are in my view operating from unrealistic expectations of the types of discourse we get from General Conference.

  346. I think his strident approach fits well outside established expectations for the types of discourse we tend to get from GC.

  347. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, then you haven’t been paying attention in Conference, shame on you.

  348. Though, admittedly, “pound of flesh” does make things sound more sinister than I intended with my comment. Mea culpa. I’m trying to account in a reasonable way for the discrepancy between two very public statements. I think that if the PBS interview, making explicit room for non-BoM-believers in the Church, made other leaders uncomfortable, that in turn would have made him uncomfortable. His stridency and aggressiveness here would be a course-correction. I don’t think it was a walk of shame or something imposed in a disciplinary fashion. I don’t think that’s how the brethren interact.

  349. my #346 was not a criticism. I think it challenged expectations in a way that most listeners found uplifting and refreshing. But it was definitely not par for the course. I rebuke your call for shame.

  350. Amen Steve. Put Elder Holland’s talk in the context of testimony and you are much more on target with what it was trying to accomplish. He quoted Nephi’s last testimony for a purpose. His talk was in the same tradition and even drew on the possibility that he may not live much longer. It made me wonder if he has received some bad medical news that he hasn’t shared with us. In addition to Nephi’s testimony, this talk stands alongside Bruce R. McConkie’s last conference address in tone and purpose. He was testifying, and this time around that’s all he intended to do.

  351. Antonio Parr says:

    re: 347: Shame on Steve for shaming Brad. (And a double shame on me for shaming Steve. Triple shame on me for double shaming me for shaming Steve for shaming Brad. Infinity plus 1, and all that . . . )

    Re: General Conference:

    1. “Oh, Divine Redeemer” is manna from heaven.
    2. Elder Renlund’s talk was masterful. Have I had a mighty change of heart? Have I cared for this changed heart? Prophetic.
    3. Elder Monson does a great job.
    4. I love Elder Holland, even if I think that certain aspects of the Book of Mormon are more nuanced than suggested by his talk.
    5. As always, I am challenged by General Conference to be a better, more Christ-like person. What more could I want?

  352. RE: #350, et al.
    I don’t think anyone’s taking issue with the fervency with which he bore personal witness…

  353. “Who (and where) are these people?”
    I have no specific examples. My comment wasn’t *that* well thought out.

    For the record, I loved Elder Holland’s frankness and I appreciate when people are willing to state what is true without reservation. I thought it was a very powerful and beautiful testimony.

  354. 343: I won’t name names, but I’ll identify myself as one who often hears the message in blog discussions that if I were only as well informed as the blogger/commenter, I would know that Joseph Smith was just a pious fraud, that DNA evidence casts doubt on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, that the sole reason for the priesthood restriction was the unconscionable racism of Brigham Young, that the church authorities abuse me as a woman, and that I should be marching around Temple Square in protest to the intolerance of my church’s doctrine on marriage, and any number of other issues that have been settled by the combined wisdom of the Bloggernacle.

    That’s the chief reason I’m so often rude and sarcastic in comments — if I can be rude first, or if my sarcasm is stronger than someone else’s, then everyone can pretend that my manners, rather than my religious beliefs, are the problem. I can be tough where personal criticism is concerned; I can’t be so tough, so need to be protective, of tender feelings that are too often tramped on by some who are “trying to make [me] feel like [I am an idiot] for ‘ignoring’ all of the claims against [whatever idea is at issue].”

    I could never, for instance, be as candid as J. was on his recent post about fathers and sons. The one time recently I ever did come close to bearing an overt testimony, I had to take the post down because a Bloggernacle academic analyzed my testimony to death for its intellectual shortcomings, and berated me for my lack of compassion in not providing an “out” for doubters.

    Those who treat us like idiots for believing are all around us.

  355. Thanks, Ardis.

  356. Those who treat us like idiots for believing are all around us.

    How do you imagine that Elder Holland’s dismissals of alternate theories were meant to make non-believers feel?

  357. I largely agree with MCQ on the Holland talk. I got the sense that he was possibly ill and that he wanted to make sure that his testimony of the BOM was on the record. I found the whole talk to be rather inspiring. Old fashioned preaching in GC. Houston we have an apostle was an apt description.

  358. 356: I don’t care. They aren’t my concern.

  359. Brad if GC talks were somehow tuned to how non-believers were made to feel I think we could just put on a Barney video and call it good. I love you you love me. We’re a happy family etc.

  360. Antonio Parr says:

    358: Ardis: I thought everyone was suppoosed to be our concern.

  361. Just sayin, a compelling and sincere complaint about how some strident discourse makes outsiders feel like idiots for believing or not believing something is not exactly a defense of Elder Holland’s talk.

  362. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, I agree with you, so long as we’re agreed that we can treat idiots as idiots so long as it’s not because they’re believers.

  363. bbell,
    I’m surprised that attitude hasn’t already gotten you called as ward mission leader. :)

  364. Antonio Parr says:

    (Elder Holland’s talk was part of a larger mosaic. I thought Conference, as always, was magnificent. Sure, there are those moments that I find boring, and a talk or two that rubs me the wrong way, but, again, at the end of the day, I found myself wanting to be a better Christian. And for that, I am grateful.)

  365. I think we’ve finally found consensus: conference motivated us to be totally unconcerned with the feelings of non believers and to be better Christians.

  366. [soul-satisfying bit of sarcasm written and deleted]

    I love everybody.

  367. Especially Brad, who can spell “consensus.”

  368. Brad,

    Thats funny I have never been the WML. I am the guy they send with the missionaries when they want to talk about polygamy or the PH ban.

    I think you may be missing one of the many points of a GC talk. A apostle is to preach the gospel and bring the spirit in order for the listeners to be uplifted and converted to the truthfulness of the gospel. Lots of nuance in teaching may fit well in academia but in my experience being direct and speaking plainly tends to work better in religious settings. Holland did this well on Sunday. Just sayin

  369. [soul-satisfying bit of sarcasm written and deleted]

    You’re a better person than I am… And I love you for it.

  370. Antonio Parr says:

    Ardis:

    I was suppoosed to be able spell “supposed” . . .

  371. I assure you, bbell, that I in no way am taking issue with the plainness or directness of his testimony of the Book of Mormon.

  372. Peter LLC says:

    That’s the chief reason I’m so often rude and sarcastic

    I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. All along I thought it was because I kept pulling your pigtails.

    In other news, I discovered that conference translators aren’t always native speakers. Look up the guy doing Romanian–totally American. Also, President Uchtdorf doesn’t dub his own talks.

  373. Brad, no offense, but how the many non-believers really care what Elder Holland said forcefully in the last session of the LDS General Conference? Hell, I’m a believer and I (sadly, apparently) slept through it (although I blame a 1-year-old who’s decided that midnight is the right time to wake up recently).

    That is, Conference isn’t really all that gripping and frankly its very existence doesn’t register for most people. And, inspiration notwithstanding, if anyone in Chicago outside of the Church actually knew about the LDS General Conference this weekend and was curious enough to watch, I doubt they got terribly worked up by a forceful talk amidst a lot of soothing, irritating Utah-intonated talks. That is, conference is largely insiders talking to insiders; the rules of discourse there are different than a more general discussion.

  374. (Okay, the “no offense” makes less sense since I edited out a couple more-offensive words.)

  375. Sam B,
    That’s true. I’m less concerned with how non-believers reacted to his talk than I am with how believers reacted to it in terms of their attitudes toward and relationships with said non-believers. I just don’t find these kinds of deliberate in-/out-group line drawing exercises to be particularly inspiring, even if it does make it easier for believers to feel superior.

  376. I assure you Brad, Elder Holland’s talk does not in any way affect how I feel about non-believers. Non-believers are not the same as nay-sayers.

  377. unless you count the non-believers that (however franlky pathetic) take serious the claims of some nay-sayers.

  378. What type of rhetoric is most likely to impact the non-believers that take serious the claims of some of the naysayers?

  379. If you mean positively impact, then I’d say a less bombastic dismissal of the kinds of concerns that, say, B.H. Roberts took fairly seriously, despite retaining faith in the Book.

  380. I’m just saying that, notwithstanding the strength of the personal witness he bore, that witness is not spiritually strengthened by hostile and derisive criticisms of less orthodox positions.

  381. Thomas Parkin says:

    I just went a read the lyrics to O Divine Redeemer. I don’t find a single thing that grates on my Mormonism, anyway. Seems to me that every phrase reflects a thing that I have felt or thought.

    The MoTab was just beyond, this conference. The arrangements are increasingly subtle, so much richer than the MoTab of my childhood. ~

  382. Mommie Dearest says:

    Maybe they should publish the lyrics in the Conference report. Angst is human, romanticism is human, and as members, are we not still human? (Rhetorical question alert)

  383. I thought that song was really one of the highlights.

  384. Brad, seriously dude, why the apoplexy? He wasn’t saying you have to give up openness for a word for word translation, he’s just saying it is not inspired fiction and that Moroni and all that jazz really happened. He is saying that Jesus really visited the Book of Mormon people, not that we have to accept the Two Hemisphere theory. He is saying the book has power to change lives and is spiritually worthy of our attention, not that we can’t do our masters thesis on textual variants in it.

  385. Am I the Brad you’re talking to Matt?

  386. Seriously, as difficult as it might be for readers of this site to imagine, my gripe is not remotely with the substance of his own testimony of the book, but rather with the aggressively hostile tone in which he addresses those whose view of the book differs from his own, especially considering that he once explicitly attempted to make room for them in normative Mormonism.

  387. Brad, I think the problem is that most people aren’t reading that into his speech, at least to the extent that you are.

  388. Just admit it, Brad – you hate Elder Holland, and you hate the Gospel, too.

  389. It is this sentence that seemed quite confrontational: “Failed theories about [the Book of Mormon’s] origins have been born, parroted and died. From Ethan Smith to Solomon Spalding, to deranged paranoid, to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination, because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young, unlearned translator.”

    It is the use of the words “frankly pathetic” that, to me, seem excessively contentious. (I have not seen the full transcript–thanks to BHodges for posting some of it at http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2009/10/few-comments-on-elder-hollands.html, there may be other phrases that are contentious)

    Note, those adjectives, “frankly pathetic,” are used to describe not just the Spaulding manuscript theory, but any theory other than acceptance of the Book of Mormon as what Joseph Smith said it was.

    I know a few people who wonder about God’s existence or are on the fence about the divinity of the Book of Mormon. At least a couple of them took Elder Holland’s remarks to mean they were “frankly pathetic” for not fully embracing the Book of Mormon, or at least that their doubts or questions were.

    But, again, I do not think those who are wondering and searching were necessarily the audience here. I think believers and defenders of the Book of Mormon who feel under siege were the intended audience, which may explain the enthusiastic comments I have read about people standing up to applaud at home after his talk, and the like.

  390. 387! Woot!

    For 53’s sister and 56, wearing gloves while handling old manuscripts is so 20th-century-archival-practice. For real.

  391. Er, 390…

  392. Sorry, all. I wasn’t clear–I was just musing aloud. I like “O Divine Redeemer” just fine, especially when it’s sung well. I agree, Thomas, that’s there’s nothing in it to grate on one’s Mormonism (especially if one’s Mormonism is of the neo-orthodox variety). I just think it’s odd that it’s one of very few non-Mormon things we still sing; it seems out of place in our generally sunnier musical idiom. That’s all I was saying.

  393. Brad,
    I can’t disagree with you on how believers took his talk–like I said, I slept through it. But I don’t think we can divorce Conference from in-group/out-group talk. Ultimately, we talk to ourselves differently than we talk to others. It may or may not be good, but it’s necessary, because the in-group has a shared language/culture/set of background assumptions. It makes discourse really dull when those background things have to be restated every time we talk about a subject. It also doesn’t allow us to go any deeper than a surface-level approach.

    Like I said, I can’t comment on the substance. But I need some sort of in-group discourse, because frankly, the way church manuals are written, I go crazy enough already with the reexplanation of things I already knew at the expense of stuff that would be cool to learn (see, e.g., the one year spent on the OT in Sunday School, with the first five or six of those lessons dedicated instead to the PoGP).

  394. “343: I won’t name names, but I’ll identify myself as one who often hears the message in blog discussions that if I were only as well informed as the blogger/commenter, I would know that Joseph Smith was just a pious fraud, that DNA evidence casts doubt on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, that the sole reason for the priesthood restriction was the unconscionable racism of Brigham Young, that the church authorities abuse me as a woman, and that I should be marching around Temple Square in protest to the intolerance of my church’s doctrine on marriage, and any number of other issues that have been settled by the combined wisdom of the Bloggernacle.”

    This is probably tangential to the main discussion, and I’m happy to let it drop, but I think it’s the kind of accusation that ought to be substantiated by specific examples. I think I read the same pages as Ardis, and I don’t feel my beliefs mocked or like anyone is expecting me to agree with positions that disallow faith. This makes me think that Ardis’ characterization (which is, to be sure, shared by many) is at least an oversimplification. It wouldn’t matter so much to me, except that I read in it the suggestion that someone willing to tolerate a different style of discussing such issues is a less ardent defender of the faith than one who countenances more skeptical expression.

    But maybe now I’m over-reading.

  395. Y’all get very angry when someone like me points out in the moment that such-and-such a discussion fits the pattern I’ve described. It doesn’t seem possible to participate in the good parts of, say, BCC, while identifying the parts where I feel my beliefs are being mocked. Not that you would notice my absence, but I tend to go quiet for a week or two every once in a while. That’s always because some discussion here has crossed the line too far too many times.

  396. Sometimes we’re not angry; we just disagree. I need a week or two off now and then myself.

  397. Ardis, I confess I don’t know quite what you’re talking about there. Nobody’s angry – and I don’t know who’s mocking you, but let me know and I’ll tell them to knock it off. And you know better than to pretend we wouldn’t miss you…

  398. She just likes to be reminded of it, Steve. All of us do, I think.

  399. Steve Evans says:

    Except that nobody would miss you, Mark. Except me.

  400. Ardis, I notice when you disappear. I do the same thing from time to time.

  401. If MCQ leaves, I’m leaving too.

  402. I am sure Elder Holland would not have wanted his talk to generate contention. One of the great things we can do after GC is read the talks in the peace of our own homes and perhaps find truths that were somewhat obscured by a less than optimum verbal presentation. Not every speaker is Elder Uchtdorf.

  403. Ardis… this:[soul-satisfying bit of sarcasm written and deleted] cracked me up.

    I don’t know what all the tension is about…post conference blues?

  404. Thomas Parkin says:

    I know what Ardis is talking about. Although I’ve never felt personally mocked, I’ve seen things allowed and even, seemingly, encouraged that mock what I might have said. And that’s all I want to say about that.

    I think BCC is well moderated, and does a good job of allowing a wide variety of opinions while remaining fundamentally faithful. Some other things I’ve seen recently have had me reflecting on how difficult this must be to maintain.

    re: Elder Holland. There is a time and season for every purpose under heaven. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that ideas are in conflict, and that in conflicts there are casualties, and that we are right to be passionate. I don’t think that is un-Christlike – reading the New Testament I think it is very Christlike. Except on a personal basis, I don’t know how high a priority the feelings of individuals can be in choosing what or even how one presents. There are even times to move on and let the dead bury their dead.

    re: music. Kristine, I see. I agree. I rather dread a new version of the hymnal. I’m very afraid that a lot of the more human touch will be moved to the side for music that is less challenging, both musically and in terms of human passion. ~

  405. I dunno, Thomas, I think (hope) it could go the other way–a reaction against the becauseIhavebeengivenmuchification tendencies of the last one.

  406. God willing, Kristine…

  407. I rather dread a new version of the hymnal.

    Deseret Book agreed to do a revised and enlarged edition of Karen Lynn Davidson’s Our Latter-day Hymns only after being assured that there would be no new hymnbook for many years. So is that good news?

  408. (Thank you for fixing my typo. I was afraid someone was going to tell me to get the ‘ell off of BCC.)

  409. Researcher says:

    …is that good news?

    Yes and no.

    Yes: change takes a lot of effort. It took eleven years to publish the new German hymnbook after the 1985 publication of the new English hymnbook. If the English-speaking members got a new, updated hymnbook, shouldn’t one be available for Spanish speakers, German, French, etc.? Redoing hymnbooks is more complicated and political than putting out a church magazine or translating conference talks.

    No: a new hymnbook would lead to a lot of enthusiasm for music by the general membership of the church that I assume would last for a period of several years. The only time of the year that I notice much enthusiasm for church music among an average congregation (at least the congregation that I’m most familiar with) is on Easter, and, to a lesser extent, during the Christmas season. And also, I should note, when I crank up the bass on the organ for a song like “Behold a Royal Army.” (It’s always fun hearing the deacons belting out, “Victory, victory, through him that redeemed us!”)

  410. Thomas Parkin says:

    Kristine. One can hope. :) The direction the choir is taking would be one cause to hope.

    Ardis, yes, to me, that is good news.

    I was recently plinking around on the piano in the RS room. They had the primary song book there. I noticed the lyrics to the one reverence song: there are many things you can do outside, you can run and play, etc., but when you get to the chapel doors, shhhh, be still. The things you could do outside have been eliminated. The whole point that there are many fun things in life that are nevertheless not appropriate in the chapel is altered to make the whole of it seem much less enjoyable. But people do have fun, we do have times of despair, etc. Why not sing about them. The becauseihavebeengivenmuchification makes me think of the good people in the old 1930s film version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A bunch of dullards. Being righteous makes life more robust, not less. Having a Christlike nature means experiencing the highs and lows of life with greater immediacy and depth, not less. We feel our pain more acutely, but are also more easily comforted. ~

  411. I wonder if the “pathetic” quote will make it into the Ensign. I recall hearing Elder Holland’s “Of Souls, symbols and Sacraments” talk given at BYU in 1989 in which he said “I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who had to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. Seldom have I heard any point made about this subject that makes me want to throw up more than that.” In the published version, it read “I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. What an unacceptable response to such a serious issue!” He was angry in that talk, too.

  412. I think you may be right, SC Taysom. I listened to Elder Holland’s talk again tonight and he was pretty angry during that portion of his talk. The “frankly pathetic” part may have been an angry ad lib. His statement still makes sense without those adjectives and is much less likely to cause offense. But I can also understand why someone with his responsiblity as an apostle would feel angry about things that can potentially destroy people’s faith.

  413. Having seen the advance copy, I can tell you that there was no ad lib in that talk.

  414. “Except that nobody would miss you, Mark. Except me.”

    Thanks Steve. I love you too, man.

  415. “If MCQ leaves, I’m leaving too.”

    Solidarity, brother Brad!

  416. Steve Evans says:

    You two are brothers?!?

  417. Skeptical says:

    “but how the many non-believers really care what Elder Holland said forcefully in the last session of the LDS General Conference?”

    What about those of us who are former/wavering believers, who are really trying to find reasons to stay in this community? I felt belittled by his talk. It’s that kind of dogmatism, as well as disregard for others so excellently exemplified by Ardis in #358, that are making it harder and harder to want to hold on to the straggled, beaten remains of my once life-centering faith.

  418. Skeptical, I’m not sure why you felt belittled by Elder Holland, or why your faith is failing, but I for one do care very much and, knowing something about Elder Holland, I think I am safe in saying that he cares deeply about you and the state of your faith as well.

    Not every talk can be faith-promoting to every listener, nor can it speak the same way to all audiences (unless, of course, it’s as dull as dirt). This talk was unusual. It was uncomfortable in some ways. I found it powerful. If you didn’t, I sympathize and would like to help if I can. Email me at mountaindogrecords at gmail dot com if you’d like to talk further.

  419. Eric Russell says:

    Skeptical, I’m skeptical that comments such as that are thought out. Elder Holland said nothing to discourage people who are “really trying to find reasons to stay in this community.” Indeed, the purpose of the address was to give one major reason to stay in spite of anything else.

  420. Elder Holland’s talk seemed to speak directly to me. It was exactly what I needed. I think I may have a new favorite. Sorry if it sounds like I’m bragging, and I am, but conference is so much more intense with our newly installed surround sound and a 5-foot plasma screen. The music was divine and the speakers were up close and personal. I actually want to see it again.

  421. I could see why skeptical might think that way. One could easily think that if he doesnt “think” or “believe” a certain way that he is “pathetic”, “crawling”, “silly”, or “choosing not to believe.” Im not saying that was Elder Holland’s intent but its not hard to see how someone could hear that.

  422. Skeptical says:

    I found it belittling because it was the highest example of the all-too-common (in my corner of the world) attitude that if you don’t believe, you must have not thought about it enough, or you must be working to tear down the kingdom of God. I felt actually physically repulsed when he was talking about how “pathetic” disbelievers are. Sure, he was talking about certain types of disbelievers, but the utter disdain in his voice just felt like incredible self-righteousness to me.

    It didn’t help that he started out the talk by mentioning disaffected members. That piqued my interest, because that’s how I’m beginning (to my amazement) to identify myself, and I thought it would be a talk directed to me. Now if all of you BCC’ers are so confident that I was not his audience maybe I should just disregard my reaction to his words and manner.

    Contrast this to Elder Renlund (sp?), who just sincerely wondered why he had one day lost the will to go to church. While his answers to how to revive faith weren’t exactly the solutions to all my problems, his personal story showed a wonderful depth of understanding. Given the option, right now, to talk to either of them about my doubts and concerns, and complete loss as to why I have lost the desire to believe, I would run from Holland and without question choose Renlund.

    (Disclaimer: Renlund’s sincerity got through to me even though I was initially very put off by his way-too-lengthy and painfully-obvious analogy of the heart transplant.)

  423. Dear Skeptical,
    I think I understand a little about where you’re coming from. I struggled for 25 years because I thought I was an intellect. It was me, and not the Gospel, who failed. I made things a lot harder on myself than they needed to be. Best wishes on your journey.:-)

  424. Skeptical, I haven’t seen the whole conversation, but just saw your comment about your straggling faith, and I’m sorry for your struggles.

    I, for one, pray you can hold onto what you do know, and take what you felt was for you. If Elder Holland’s talk doesn’t click, hold onto what does.

    What about the many talks about not giving up, about continuing to try and to turn to God, about God’s love, about the personal guidance for our lives that is also available? There was so much of this in these meetings, too.

    I like what MCQ said, though. This wasn’t a comfortable talk. I think for those who know the BoM is true, it was thrilling, but still uncomfortable in a way. Like, “Wow. That was not your typical talk. Whoa.”

    I have said this elsewhere, but I think it’s important at some level not to fragment the talks out too much. Elder Holland’s talk should, imo, be read in context of all the other talks — no, in context of the whole, the gospel plan at large. If we take one talk (one article, one scripture, one quote) out of the context of the big picture, we might miss the other parts of the whole that can help us interpret and process the words that sometimes may hurt at first encounter. And/or we might miss what the Spirit might teach us about what is being said.

    Narrowing that thought down a bit, I also think Elder Holland’s recent talk should be taken in context of his other talks. I have found him to be one of the most tender-hearted, caring leaders we have had. And yet, he’s also very, very passionate, and sometimes, very bold and direct about fundamental doctrines. But his directness, imo, should not be seen as overshadowing or canceling out his tenderness. I think it’s all there. We just aren’t always going to hear it all in one talk. 15 minutes just isn’t a long time to get the whole picture plus the whole heart in there. Sometimes I think we as listeners have to listen with charity, and let Christ’s love guide us through processing what we hear/read/see.

    But, even the Savior was not always soothing in the way He taught, ya know? Sometimes He was direct, even pointed, in His teaching.

    And yet, imo, it’s all motivated by love — love of the Father, and a desire for people to find truth, to replace doubt, to build faith, and even develop sure knowledge of some things.

    Anyway, probably said too much. Hang in there. I hope you won’t lose your *desire* to believe — that you will keep wanting to hold on. That you will not cast that seed — as small as it may feel right now –out by the doubts you may be having right now. (Yeah, I’m an Alma 32 fan.) :)

    Best to you.

  425. I am not your highest concern in life either, am I, Skeptical?

    Each of us has our own concerns, our own areas of struggle, and the various conference speakers resonated (or not) with us according to our own hearts and minds. Quite a few here have expressed sympathy for your position. I trust you will accept their offers of brotherhood and whatever conference speakers did suit you, and allow me the privilege of accepting the witness of an apostle who spoke directly to me and my needs, without further condemnation of either of us because we don’t address your deepest concerns. Thank you.

  426. Ron Madson says:

    Elder Holland spoke at a zone conference a few years ago that I was attending and he spoke with the same passion. He is often just a passionate speaker. Great for our full time missionaries but way over the top for any investigators or doubters. But for some reason, I had a certain empathy for him listening this time. I just wondered what was happening behind the scene to cause such a reaction that I would normally read as a degree of angst and possibly insecurity.
    However, I believe that our personalities and the measure of each of us is far more complex than the one dimension we portray in our sermons. When I think of Elder Holland I think of the time he told the story of how when he heard on the radio that the blacks were going to be given the priesthood he pulled off the side of the road and just wept. I thought of that when I heard this last message and it tempered it for me, but also made me wonder what problems he might also be dealing with behind the scenes?

  427. A few things-
    I think “pathetic” was applied to the failed authorship theories (Ethan Smith, Solomon Spaulding ), not people who struggle to believe. If you don’t think so, compare with his comments in the PBS documentary, available from pbs online.

    Holland has spent much time with the Book of Mormon. He taught it at BYU, and then as a CES guy. He wrote his MA thesis on variations/changes between editions. He addressed its authorship and the ideas of a non-historical or fraudulent Book of Mormon in a CES keynote back in 1994. In the time between his being asked to present and the actual presentation, he was called as an apostle. See http://www.ldsces.org/cesconference/BofM/94037%20Holland%20BoM%20Symp%20WEB.pdf

    Kristine asks, who are these people “ trying to make believers feel like they are idiots for “ignoring” all of the claims against its authenticity”?

    Holland has an apologetic ear to the ground. I (and others) suspect that He is reacting to a particular website, which claims to be run by faithful (but anonymous) LDS who are “helping” people stay “faithful.” (NB: I’m *not* talking about John Dehlin’s StayLDS here.) This website gets a lot of traffic, and is a favorite of the RFM crowd. It “helps” people stay “faithful” for example, by stating that Joseph Smith saw nothing in the grove (he made it up) and that high-up church leaders know the Book of Mormon is not historical, but they lie to maintain the Church, about it and other things. Holland seemed to be directly addressing this when he flatly said, “I am not lying.” Again, it claims to be run by faithful active LDS.

    I can see why a GA accused of regularly lying about this topic might speak rather directly to such wolves in sheeps clothing, who are *very* different from those who are struggling (for which see his PBS comments.)

  428. Peter LLC says:

    I think “pathetic” was applied to the failed authorship theories (Ethan Smith, Solomon Spaulding ), not people who struggle to believe.

    Yep. Here’s the context:

    “For 179 years, this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart, like perhaps no other book in modern religious history, perhaps like no other book in any religous history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born, parroted and died. From Ethan Smith to Solomon Spalding, to deranged paranoid, to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book, have ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph Smith gave as its young, unlearned translator.”

    Elder Holland’s more personal challenge comes later.

  429. One last- Holland is a fiery pulpit pounder who gets very passionate about things. He told some stories of himself to us both in the MTC and my mission that made this very clear. His talk was much more of his own passionate thoughtful personality than we have typically seen in conference.

  430. Steve Evans says:

    Agreed, Peter. Skeptical, you seem offended that people want to tear down your disbelief – why do you want so badly to not believe?

  431. When I was in the MTC Elder Holland gave a talk where he actually pounded the pulpit with his fist and told us if we quit on our missions he would stalk us (paraphrasing). I can’t do it justice. It was a beautiful experience

  432. As a believer who is married to a now non-believer, I can say that what would really help those struggling is evidence, along with testimony.

  433. Thanks, Anon, for that explanation. I think it’s a good possibility that Elder Holland was responding in general to that kind of website.

    Please, everyone, let’s not get too obsessed with this one word, “pathetic.” In context, Elder Holland does seem to be addressing some of the alternate explanations (and not people). Also, I hope no one is forgetting the definition of “pathetic” — despite its frequent use as a generic disparagement — it still means “poor” or “pitiable.”

    I, for one, am glad to hear a General Authority acknowledge that the Book of Mormon (as opposed to the First Vision story) is the doorway into the Church for many (most?) converts.

  434. Thanks, Anon. I think you nailed it.

    #434? BCC readers have more to say about conference than the McNaughton painting! Drinks on me.

  435. why do you want so badly to not believe?

    A rather uncharitable way of putting it, no?

  436. I loved Elder Holland’s talk. I think he should get a Pulitzer for it.

  437. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, I am probably transposing my own relationship with the Church — but I feel sometimes an emotion that is almost like reluctance, but not quite, to cede control over things when it comes to belief. It’s a lot easier to retain a good measure of skepticism and unbelief because I can control it and understand it. Belief is scary because it is in a sense unknowable and out of our hands.

  438. Steve,
    That is indeed a perspective I share.

  439. Elder Holland can get very angry. He acknowledges this, and in his first conference talk, before he was a general authority, he told of having been excessively angry at his son, and the harm that it caused, and how he (Elder Holland) strived to make amends to his son. It is a beautiful talk and story. Jeffrey R. Holland, “Within the Clasp of Your Arms,” Ensign, May 1983, 36

    When my parents served a mission in Africa, Elder Holland visited the mission and, according to them, appeared angry, pounding the pulpit, telling the missionaries they did not look like missionaries, and a variety of other things. My parents were a little surprised, because this was not the Elder Holland they thought they knew from general conferences and the like.

    Elder Holland came to our stake conference a few years ago. We were warned to be on our very best behavior with our very best reverence. Through the grapevine we were told that, a few years before that, Elder Holland had spoken at a regional priesthood leadership meeting. He appeared angry about how loud the volume of visiting was before the meeting started and, as the story was related to me, spent about 20 minutes chastising the men for their lack of reverence. We were advised, through the grapevine, that we did not want Elder Holland to be angry at us about reverence or lack thereof.

    Elder Holland is a very passionate man. I appreciate the passion. Some times, though, his passion can appear as anger–and perhaps it is anger. He is a caring person and, I believe, an open minded person. I do not think he would use any unkind words in ministering to a person struggling. Perhaps, in that respect, he is like President Kimball, whose writings and sermons some times were discouraging and condemning, but who was exceedingly kind in his personal ministry.

  440. I for one enjoyed Elder Holland’s talk. It resonated with me for various reasons. Part of the jarring effect it has had on some could be attributed to the otherwise quiet, reserved fashion for most other GC speakers. I think it was Elder Cook who followed Elder Holland, and also gave a great talk, but in the more submissive and unemotional tones we have become accustomed to in conference.

    I think that is why I enjoy Pres. Eyring’s talks so much. He really does wear his heart on his sleeve, and it shows. Elder Holland has a more energetic and emphatic style. I don’t fall asleep during his talks.

  441. Form should serve substance, not vice versa, and I would rather listen to a demanding but thoughtful speech than well-crafted sleight-of-mouth.

    On the other hand, I personally prefer to follow the example of Jesus, who showed patience and forbearance for those struggling, and saved his anger for those who should (or claim to) know better. Outright hostility and public rebuke was reserved for those select times (like moneychangers in the Temple) when deceit and hypocrisy were at work.

    This is usually understood as the result of morality, but there is value in it even if understood merely as good rhetoric and pedagogy: the fragile need a gentler hand, the self-righteous need deflating, and the self-serving need to be relieved of command. This distinguishes the preacher from the teacher. I respond much better to the latter.

  442. Antonio Parr says:

    The story of Elder Holland spending 20 minutes chastizing priesthood holders for their lack of reverence is one that should perhaps be buried somewhere very deep, as it does not paint him in a particularly flattering light. My guess (and hope) is that it is an embellishment, and not an accurate reflection of Elder Holland’s shared time with his Priesthood bretheren.

  443. “My guess (and hope) is that it is an embellishment, and not an accurate reflection of Elder Holland’s shared time with his Priesthood bretheren.”

    Could be. I was not there. But I was in my stake when we were counseled to be especially reverent when Elder Holland came, and when I asked why, I was told the above story by a couple of people who had attended that earlier regional meeting with Elder Holland. Whether it was a 20 minute chastising or not (it probably seemed that way to them), the message was clear that Elder Holland feels passionately about reverence.

    I recount the story not to disparage him, but to emphasize that he, like many of us (including me) can get carried away in his emotions. There is nothing wrong with being a human being subject to emotion and needing to learn to bridle one’s passions and to make amends when we should.

  444. btw, I want to be clear — I loved his talk. I appreciated his testimony. I am grateful for apostles who both speak with directness and who speak in a spirit of outreach. I think we need both.

    There’s a quote by him in Preach My Gospel that I read today, on p. 8. Another that gives the feeling of how deeply he feels about the Book of Mormon…basically saying that if someone doesn’t read it, we should be devastated. This MATTERS. This is eternal life we are talking about, he basically says.

    The Book of Mormon is a big deal. I ache for people to know it is true, through the Spirit. There really is no other way.

  445. Antonio Parr says:

    re: 443

    I am not sure I agree that we should all live in a state of feeling “devastated” because so-and-so decides at a particular time in their lives not to read the Book of Mormon. We live in complex times, where pluralism is the norm. I don’t want my Jewish friends to be devastated because I am not reading the Torah. I don’t want my Evangelical friends to be devastated because I am not attending Billy Graham crusades. We all are called to share in meekness and humility the light and knowledge that we have. From that point on, we should trust that that the Lord will use our efforts for His glory and for the joy of the recipient. For me to be “devastated” because someone declines at a given point to read the Book of Mormon seems to require me to pass judgment on that person’s status with the Lord, which is a task that I leave exclusively for the Lord. (Unless, of course, someone on bycommonconsent.com responds rudely to one of my posts. In such instances, I reserve all rights to judge and condemn the wrongdoer . . .)

  446. Antonio Parr says:

    re: 443:

    Your account of Elder Holland chastizing at length Priesthood holders for their lack of revernce makes me cringe, as I am imagining the investigators who surely must have been present, and their reaction to a worship service that includes a religious leader railing against men who have enough faith to get off of their couches to attend a church meeting. I hold Elder Holland in the highest possible esteem, and am going to assume for the sake of my affections for this wonderful man that there is more to the story than him being P.O.’d because people were making noise.

  447. Antonio, I could be just as offended as your theoretical investigators had I attended a meeting where the speaker was someone the congregation claimed to esteem as an apostle, where the audience was restless and noisy, and where the meeting proceeded as if such disrespect were of no account.

    Aren’t we reaching really, really hard to find something to be offended by?

    I can’t believe I’ve spent as much of the last two days as I have defending the right of an apostle to bear his testimony in a meeting — a conference, a “coming together” — of believers, and my right to appreciate that testimony. What is going on here?

  448. Peter LLC says:

    a religious leader railing against men who have enough faith to get off of their couches to attend a church meeting

    Screeching to the choir?

    Captive audiences are easily chastened, as I’m sure most former missionaries can attest.

  449. Antonio Parr says:

    Ardis:

    I was not offended by Elder Holland’s talk. I love and revere the man, even when I prefer some talks (his address last April on Christ’s lonely journey is pure scripture to me) over others (this most recent conference address.

    As to “theoretical” investigators, I live in a community where there are very few Latter-Day Saints. I have invited many non-LDS friends and family members to various meetings, and am understandably sensitive to what is often their one-and-only LDS experience. No apologies on this end for worrying about conduct that is more likely to repulse rather than to attract my cherished friends and family outside the Church.

    God bless Elder Holland. He is a Latter-Day treasure, and I hope that he lives to be 120.

  450. Thanks to everyone for your contributions. I’m closing the thread.

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