Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 181th Annual General Conference, live from Meridian, Idaho! 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.
BHodges here. Welcome to the final session of conference. As is customary I’ll be adding some comments in the main body of the post during each talk.
Elder Richard G. Scott began his talk by talking about his wife Jeanene. Though he doesn’t mention it directly at this point, she passed away due to cancer in 1995 and he has thus far chosen not to marry again, which is somewhat unusual for General Authorities.
“I traveled extensively in my profession.” Elder Scott was a nuclear engineer. From 1953 to 1965 he served on the immediate staff of Admiral Hyman Rickover.He had assignments to direct the design, testing, and manufacture of nuclear fuel elements for the Navy nuclear program and the Shippingport Reactor where the first extensive commercial application of nuclear power to private industry occurred.
“If you are a young man of appropriate age and are not married, don’t waste time in idle pursuits.” Elder Scott joins several other speakers including President Monson and Elder Oaks, in encouraging young men to not delay marriage. Interestingly, Pres. Monson quoted Pres. Hinckley directly recognizing the cultural expectation that the man take lead in courting and asking to be married.
“I didn’t know then that just a few months later he would pass away.” As he mentioned earlier, two of the Scotts seven children passed away before reaching adulthood. Their first son Richard died after an operation to correct a congenital heart condition. Elder Scott does not mention the timing in this talk, but just six weeks earlier their daughter died minutes after being born.
This is Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s seventh Conference address, he has not spoken in a Priesthood session, but has spoken once at each conference since his ordination to the apostleship in April 2008.
“Some years ago Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained…” Elder Christofferson refers to Elder Oaks’s address “The Challenge to Become.” On a personal note, during my mission I bought the Fall 2000 Conference session cd’s and this talk stood out, changed the way I viewed the gospel.
“As one author declares…” Elder Christofferson’s comments about Christians who want a therapist-like Jesus who “makes them feel good about themselves” is a quote from a new book from Oxford University Press called Almost Christian by Kendra Creasy Dean (2010). Dean is Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture, at Princeton Theological Seminary. She’s also a United Methodist pastor.
Jana Reiss wrote a nice review of the book last August at her Beliefnet blog “Flunking Sainthood.”
The currant bush is a a popular story about Hugh B. Brown, and it is even more poignant when considering his experiences in Church hierarchy positions. He served as First Counselor to David O. McKay, but was not retained as a counselor by Joseph Fielding Smith. One of eleven or so past counselors who experienced it. This is discussed in An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown (Signature Books, 1999), edited by Brown’s grandson Edwin B. Firmage.
Elder Carl B. Pratt tells a story based in Colonia Jarez, a small town in Chihuahua, Mexico. It was established in 1886 as a sort of outpost where families might avoid federal pursuit due to the anti-polygamy Edmunds Act, which passed in 1882. It was the site of some post-manifesto plural marriages, incidentally.
Ever wished you had a talk to quote from to counter the idea that paying tithing will inevitably lead to financial security? “One might conclude that since we pay tithing with money, the Lord will always bless us with money. I tended to think that way as a child. I’ve since learned that it doesn’t necessarily work that way.”
*Shakespeare quote alert* from Elder Lynn G. Robbins. President Monson is particularly apt to quote from the Bard, incidentally. See here, here, here, etc. “To be or not to be” is from Hamlet, Act 3 scene 1. President Hinckley quoted from the same scene in the April 1999 session, but he referred to “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.”
From the Bard to Reader’s Digest. “Never let failure progress from an action to an identity with its attendant labels like ‘stupid’ — ‘slow’ — ‘lazy’ or ‘clumsy'” comes from “Make Up Your Mind to Succeed” by Carol Dweck, Reader’s Digest, May 2009, 54-55. Dweck is a Stanford University psychologist.
Robbins is the great-great grandson of George Reynolds of the famous 1878 United States Supreme Court case Reynolds v. United States. It remains a landmark decision regarding freedom of religion in the United States.
He was also a co-founder of Franklin Quest Company, so get out your day planners and…
Elder Benjamin de Hoyos is the second speaker in this Conference to discuss the Church’s long name. Yesterday afternoon President Boyd K. Packer discussed the revelation naming the Church. President Packer cited the Book of Mormon(3 Nephi 27), Elder de Hoyos cites the New Testament (Acts 11:26).
“For many years I have been a witness to the faithfulness of the members of the Church.” De Hoyos was a seminary teacher at an LDS Church-owned prep school in Mexico City called Benemerito De Las Americas where he met his wife Evelia. He later served as an institute director and a CES coordinator at various levels. At the time of his call as a general authority in 1999 he was the CES Director for the Mexico South Area of the church.He also served as president of the Mexico Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mission, supervising the reopening of missionary work in areas where it had been closed due to civil unrest.
Elder C. Scott Grow is eight years older than his three younger brothers, one of whom recently passed away in his sleep.
Elder Grow’s talk is focusing heavily on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There are many different ways Latter-day Saints might conceive of the Atonement, almost always acknowledging that it somehow escapes full comprehension by mortals. Kevin Barney’s “Atonement Stew” is an interesting look at some of the possibilities open to Mormons regarding the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The “penal substitution” theory of atonement is perhaps the most commonly employed view in the Church today, although other views are in the mix. Elder Grow referred to a quote from the missionary manual Preach My Gospel. Matt W. over at the NewCoolThang blog put an interesting post together talking about how the Preach My Gospel manual discusses the atonement.
Elder Jeffery R. Holland refers to Ensign Peak. Devery Anderson’s new book The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History includes journal excerpts describing the peak as the place where Addison Pratt received his temple endowment prior to serving a mission.
Elder Holland lists what he sees as the duties or angles various conference speakers can take. The principles of the gospel like “faith, hope, charity and Christ crucified.” Also, to “say nothing but repentance unto this generation.” At the same time, they must “preach good tidings to the meek and bind up the broken-hearted.” Elder Holland is the second speaker to refer to Harold B. Lee’s “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” quote. He cites the first issue of the New Era Jan. 1971, p. 4.
Like President Packer yesterday and Elder Christofferson this afternoon, Elder Holland emphasizes that the Church’s view of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be “deeply strenuous and demanding at the summit of true discipleship.” The Church is not “a fast food outlet; we can’t always have it ‘our way.'” Stern and smoothing.
“Bedlam that sometimes reigns in a house full of little bedlamites…” “Bedlam” is a colloquial term referring to a “scene of mad confusion.” The online etymological dictionary finds it in the 1660s, from a stylistic pronunciation of “Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem” in London, founded 1247 as a priory, mentioned as a hospital 1330 and as a lunatic hospital 1402; converted to a state lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in 1547.
President Thomas S. Monson offers his concluding remarks. It’s become common to hear the concluding speaker, the President of the Church, alert listeners to the forthcoming issues of Church magazines. Did this originate with President Hinckley?
President Monson closed with a poem by Emily Harris. I couldn’t find it anywhere but in the most recent issue of the New Era.
The linen which once held Him is empty.
It lies there,
Fresh and white and clean.
The door stands opened.
The stone is rolled away,
And I can almost hear the angels singing His praises.
Linen cannot hold Him.
Stone cannot hold Him.
The words echo through the empty limestone chamber,
“He is not here.”
The linen which once held Him is now empty.
It lies there,
Fresh and white and clean
And oh, hallelujah, it is empty.
Emily Harris, “Empty Linen,” New Era, April 2001