What stood out for you at the most recent General Conference? [Read more…]
Julie Smith over at Times and Seasons has done an excellent job of covering the decision to edit the word “fourth” out of Elder Bruce A. Carlson’s prayer opening the Priesthood session of General Conference. Public Affairs eventually responded to Smith’s request for an explanation by saying:
While the women’s meetings have long been an important part of general conference week, they are not usually referred to as a session of general conference. Edits are routinely made to general conference proceedings prior to publication of the official record. In this case a simple edit was made by the conference producer to reflect the usual numbering of the sessions.
What’s striking about this statement are the words “routinely” and “usual,” which have the effect of taking something many saw as significant and asserting that it was in fact banal all along—as if to say, to those of us who dared believe that something extraordinary had happened, “Everything is normal: nothing to see here.” That Carlson’s prayer apparently built on the momentum of President Uchtdorf’s words opening the General Women’s Meeting, only to have the effort stifled by the bureaucratic inertia of “routinely” and “usual,” indicates one of the challenges of bringing change to a large and complex organization. (At this point it’s worth noting that Carlson was taking his lead not from rabble-rousing feminists, but from a counselor in the First Presidency, someone we sustained last weekend as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Carlson, too, seems to have believed that the prophetic can occur at General Conference.)
It’s time to recap the latest General Conference through the medium of GIFs like I did six months ago. First, a few quick observations about General Conference and social media:
- I swear that the Pinterest memes with scrolly fonts and pictures of nature are up before the speaker even finishes the talk. What is up with that? Also, does it remind anyone else of Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy?
- I started to struggle to tell the difference between the tweets about General Conference and the other random tweets I was getting throughout the weekend. Perhaps it’s the medium, but here are a couple that showed up that gave me pause:
- “Lets all be compassionate to those folks who are now moving away from Climate Change Denial and those who are stuck. Life is for learning.” 
- “Facts have no agenda. They can’t be racist or sexist or bias in any way. They can’t be softened or changed to avoid offence. They just are.” 
On to the GIFs:
When the Ordain Women movement was planning to attend the Priesthood session, my first response was passively supportive. I felt it was overreaching, but that overreaching is sometimes necessary to expand the Overton Window:
The Overton window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it. Proponents of policies outside the window seek to persuade or educate the public so that the window either “moves” or expands to encompass them. [Read more…]
Elder Bednar’s Saturday morning talk was about chastity. Let me start by saying I’m a believer in chastity. I believe that premarital sex creates a lot of hassle, at minimum, and generally speaking I’m against hassle. It can result in much worse than hassle in its worst cases – eroded self esteem, teen pregnancy (that I oppose even in married form), STDs, and bad patterns for future relationships. I believe that extramarital sex (infidelity) destroys families, irreparably harms children, and is very human and very selfish. [Read more…]
I really enjoyed working on various reinterpretations the Newsroom’s “Lay Leadership in the LDS Church” infographic. So I decided to try my hand at reinterpreting lds.org’s infographic about General Conference. Here is what I came up with:
Let My People Pray: It’s time to consider having women give opening/closing prayers in General Conference
To my knowledge, no woman has ever given an opening or closing prayer in a general session of General Conference. It is time to reconsider this practice of not calling women to share in the giving of these prayers.
The church has been engaged in a sustained effort to identify and end inequalities between men and women that are without doctrinal justification, such as women not being allowed to give opening prayers in Sacrament Meetings and women’s voices not being adequately included in Ward Councils. In particular, the new Handbook and accompanying Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast explicitly emphasize this theme. In doing so, the church is showing its awareness that seemingly little things, like restrictions on who gives the opening/closing prayers in Sacrament Meeting, can send a big message that “you aren’t important,” or, when working as they should (as under the new handbook), a message that “we really do value everyone’s voices.” These messages radiate from the little things to all aspects of how we treat one another.
This is the first in a series of posts on General Conference.Part 2 is here.
During the upcoming October conference, we are likely to hear Joseph Smith quoted. I’m always curious to see what material surfaces in these contexts. It’s just that our sensibilities about texts have changed over the last 200 years and we annotate, edit and valorize reliability in ways that print cultures of the past did not do. Our Church print culture has been powerfully traditional, with one generation taking from the previous one, rarely returning to sources.
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.
And here you thought we wouldn’t do anything special for April Fool’s Day…
Welcome to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 181th Annual General Conference, live from Salt Lake City! BCC will provide near-continuous live commentary, photography, and other goodies throughout the weekend’s activities. 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.
Good morning BCCers! This is Neylan reporting on the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference.
Okay, enough from me. The choir ladies are sporting a lovely magenta this morning. [Read more…]
When Elder Neil L. Andersen rose to the pulpit last Sunday morning for the first time as a newly sustained member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, these were his first words:
My dear brothers and sisters across the world, my knees are weak and my emotions close to the surface. I express my love for you and profoundly thank you for your sustaining vote. In so many dimensions, I feel inadequate and humbled. I take solace that in one qualification for the holy apostleship where there can be no latitude extended, the Lord has deeply blessed me. I do know with perfect and certain clarity through the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, the Beloved Son of God … To those who know me, if ever I have been less than I should have been in your presence, I ask for your forgiveness and patience. I so very much need your faith and prayers in my behalf. I know that I am not what I must become. I pray that I might be willing and moldable to the Lord’s tutoring and correction.
In short, Elder Andersen briefly acknowledged how nervous he was, and then immediately fulfilled the key responsibility of being a Special Witness–he bore a plain, but powerful, testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He concluded his introduction with a genuine prayer for forgiveness and patience from those he may have wronged.
Mohammed Ali, in one of the last of the radio series “In This I Believe” spoke to how even now, though beset with Parkinson’s disease and needing his wife to read his essay for him, he is still the “greatest of all time”. A paradigm of self-confidence, Ali’s American swagger and confidence contrasts greatly with Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ similarly paradigmatic reading of C.S. Lewis such that a self itself sets a man up for a fall. [Read more…]
I am a big fan of President Gordon B. Hinckley. His easy speaking style, his friendly manner, his relationships with the media at large and his managerial style all won me over – I knew he was a prophet of God and loved to hear everything he had to say. When he died, I was filled with sadness and I instinctively recoiled at the thought of another leading the Church. While I’ve always respected Thomas S. Monson and sustained him as President, I can’t say that I had a separate and bold testimony of him.
Last Sunday afternoon that changed for me. [Read more…]