Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 181th Annual General Conference, live from Hurricane, Utah! Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.
Official Over/Under on mentions of “Jimmer” has been set at 17 for this session. Please place your bets accordingly, brothers and sisters.
Choir in jewel tones, but sounds good anyway.
First Presidency just seated.
BHodges here. Had some problems with the wifi but I’m up and running.
President Boyd K. Packer starts out with recognition for the King James Version of the Bible. It’s the book’s 400th anniversary. A recent symposium at BYU focused on the KJV. A recent episode of “Mormon Stories” including Kristine Haglund and Phil Barlow has gone missing, but it was an interesting look at the KJV by a few modern Mormons. LDSmediatalk had a nice collective link post on the KJV here.
President Packer interestingly tips the cap to William Tyndale as “a great hero.”
President Packer interestingly tips the cap to William Tyndale as “a great hero,” and the sufferer of a “martyr’s death.” These are interesting descriptions for a reformer who lived during the “Great Apostasy,” acknowledging inspired actions despite an absence of Priesthood authority. Pres. Packer distinguishes the apostasy by “The authority and power to administer had to be restored.”
Emphasizing the official name of the Church was mentioned today in the Deseret News. See Scott Taylor, “LDS or Mormon? It depends: Church prefers full name but is accepting more Mormon uses,” Deseret News, 2 April 2011.
He emphasizes revelation and the Holy Ghost as things non-Mormons should take into account when thinking about what Mormons believe. This explains the Word of Wisdom, as well as “the Lord’s standard of morality.” Reaffirming the “sacred powers to beget life” be confined to husband and wife, he refers to the Book of Mormon verse which seems to place sexual sin as “next to murder.” An interesting analysis of this Book of Mormon selection is Michael R. Ash, “The Sin Next to Murder: An Alternate Interpretation,” Sunstone, 2006, p. 34-43.
After discussing marriage and sex he switches to a discussion about forgiveness, an interesting move.
“John, leave it alone” is a story Pres. Packer has shared before. See, for example, “Balm of Gilead,” Ensign Nov. 1987.
Pres. Packer relied on David Danielle for his thoughts on Tyndale.
Elder Russell M. Nelson’s talks have frequently been focused on family relations. In April 2010 he spoke on “Generations Linked in Love.” He tied the Lord’s Prayer to family prayer in April 2009. Oct. 2008 was a talk on “Celestial Marriage.“
Cafateria Mormons? BCC’s own Mark Brown had this to say in 2007.
Elder Richard J. Maynes is talking about the heavenly family. If you’re interested in talk of spirit birth you’ll probably need to start at the NewCoolThang blog. Try Geoff J’s “Is there such a thing as spirit birth or not?” Then the rest of it.
The Family Proclamation is described as “prophetic council” from those we sustain as “prophets, seers, and revelators,” but it isn’t called canonical, as was implied last Conference session.
Citation alert: Elder Maynes sends a footnote shout-out to Deseret Book’s Best-Loved Poems of the LDS People. Jack M. Lyon, Jay A. Parry, and Linda Ririe Gundry be praised for including the poem by C.C. Miller.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson is talking about testimony, and struggles of faith. “Their questions are usually the result of honest inquiry or curiosity,” as opposed to being sinners. Not to be overly-self-promotional, I wrote about this sort of thing in my review of Shawn McCraney’s “Born-Again Mormon” book. See the subsection “They Leave the Church but Can’t Leave it Alone.”
The renowned Louis Midgley just published an interesting blog post over at FAIR called “‘Having’ a Testimony?”
He says a testimony grows and needs protection. Neglect or deviance from the path can lead to loss of the Spirit and the denial of testimony. See my review of McCraney linked above where I offer some critique of that view.
He refers us to Alma 32, a wonderful selection from the Book of Mormon where the word is compared to a seed. This is an especially interesting sermon considering Alma’s own conversion to Christ, which occurred after an encounter with an angel.
Elder Samuelson employs scripture to help affirm the fact that people need not know everything. Blind spots in our faith are not, presumably, simply the result of sin it seems. “I do not know the meaning of all things,” like Nephi and Mormon “of old” [love that ‘of old’ thing].
Elder Dallin H. Oaks desires to speak about desire. Like his talk, “Good, Better, and Best,” he is drawing a hierarchy of needs, some lesser, some greater. See also his book,Pure in Heart, p. 52. Note also the continued emphasis of the word “becoming,” which is a continuing theme for Elder Oaks. See “The Challenge to Become.”
Elder Oaks’s story about the battalion of Mormons came from personal notes he wrote in 1985 of an interview with Ray Cox.
Danny Boyle recently directed the film 127 Hours about the true story of Ralston, whom Oaks discussed. James Franco loves it.
In 2005 Elder Oaks gave a talk to YSA in California called “Dating versus hanging out.” Excerpts appeared in the New Era in April 2010. [A special shout-out to my own wife, who pursued and courted me as much as I did her, by the way.] Looking for more “Dating Advice from Prophets and Apostles“? You’re in luck. Also, Caroline from the-exponent.com has puzzled over Elder Oaks’s advice a little while back.
If you like Elder M. Russell Ballard’s story about the old gold prospector, you’re going to love the Discovery Channel’s hit series “Gold Rush Alaska.“
Sweet, Elder Ballard takes hold of the “great commandment” discussion from Matthew 22:36-40. A personal favorite.
“Active love. It is not manifested through large and heroic deeds, but rather through simple acts of kindness and service.”
Elder Ballard remembers his old friend Elder Wirthlin, who passed away in 2008, by referring to his conference address “The Virtue of Kindness.“
Emphasis on service by missionaries and members; the “spirit of charitable service” will make others want to know more about the Church.
*Easter reference alert.* (the first direct reference today?) Elder Ballard recommends that “as we approach the Easter season” we “show our love and appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice through our simple, compassionate acts of service to our brothers and sisters at home, at church, and in our communities.”
Choir sounded nice. Gotta love the Easter pastels. Now go read my post reviewing a book about the Conference Center organ.
Here are the verses of “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise” that aren’t in the hymnal. I want them all back in–never too many repetitions of ELLACOMBE :)
3. But ere that great and solemn day,
The stars from heav’n will fall,
The moon be turned into blood,
The waters into gall,
The sun with blackness will be clothed,
All nature look affright!
While men, rebellious wicked men,
Gaze heedless on the sight.
4. The earth shall reel, the heavens shake,
The sea move to the north,
The earth roll up like as a scroll,
When God’s command goes forth;
The mountains sink, the valleys rise,
And all become a plain,
The islands and the continents
Will then unite again.
5. Alas! the day will then arrive,
When rebels to God’s grace,
Will call for rocks to fall on them,
And hide them from his face:
Not so with those who keep his law,
They joy to meet their Lord
In clouds above, with them that slept
In Christ, their sure reward.
7. Then when the thousand years are past,
And Satan is unbound,
O Lord preserve us from his grasp,
By fire from heav’n sent down,
Until our great last change shall come,
T’imortalize this clay,
Then we in the celestial world,
Will spend eternal day.