“Through a Parent’s Eyes” (Elder Renlund) #ldsconf

dale-g-renlund-largeUnlike Elder Renlund, my career has not put me in contact with death. And yet, I understand, on a more modest scale, the need and impulse to develop emotional distance from people and problems. Being able to detach myself allows me to function in a world where things don’t always go the way I would have them go. [Read more…]

Did You Watch Saturday Session? #ldsconf

I realized the other day that, until I went to BYU, I had probably never watched a Saturday session of Conference (other than Priesthood session).

The thing is, my parents were (and are) tremendously active and participatory in the Church. I can probably count the number of Sundays I missed as a kid on one—or at most, on two—hands. And two of those Sundays had me in the hospital after an appendectomy.

I mean, when I was really little, suburban San Diego didn’t get Conference over cable, so my parents would have had to have bundled the three, then four, of us over to the Stake Center. But even when the station that carried nothing 50 weekends out of the year started showing Conference on the other two, I don’t remember watching Saturday sessions.  [Read more…]

Using Social Media to Come to Christ: José A. Teixeira at #LDSConf

Social media is one of the most transformative, most disruptive, and potentially destructive technologies facing us as modern humans (as are other technologies, like television, the internet, artificial intelligence, nuclear power, and Dippin Dots).

In his Sunday morning conference talk, José A. Teixeira of the First Quorum of the Seventy discussed the potential of social media to bring people to Christ (good), or to shut out the real world around us (bad).

Before we get to the good, let me testify of the bad. Social media has the power to include, but it is just as often a tool of exclusion, whether wittingly or unwittingly. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real–it’s that isolated feeling you get on Instagram, or Twitter , or Facebook, as you see people sharing photos of parties and playdates you weren’t invited to, or of concerts you didn’t attend, or vacations you couldn’t afford. It damages friendships, sparks jealousy, and can reinforce social cliques within our wards and stakes.

[Read more…]

Bishop Caussé’s Invitation to Attention and the Question of Grace #LDSConf

Bishop Caussé opens his talk with a stunning acknowledgement about failing to pay attention: his family lived in Paris for 22 years without ever making time to visit the Eiffel Tower! Similarly, he suggests, we can all too easily miss occasions for spiritual wonder all around us. In a monitory tone, he says:

Our ability to marvel is fragile. Over the long term, such things as casual commandment-keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel.

Later, he quotes Marcel Proust by way of inviting us to undertake a wondrous spiritual journey made possible by the simple mechanism of paying attention: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” This quote marvelously captures both the “renewing of [the] mind” that Paul makes a consequence of grace and the spiritual riches that await those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
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Sis. Burton’s Boy Crazy Talk #ldsconf

Finally!  A talk about something I love:  men.  As a person who has sometimes struggled with opposite sex attraction, I can relate.  In The Sound of Music, the Baroness von Whatsername wisely said there was nothing more attractive to a man than a woman who was in love with him, so right now, Sis. Burton is looking pretty good. [Read more…]

Elder Perry: World Religion vs. Religion of “The World”

Elder Perry’s talk reflects on his visit to the Colloquium on Marriage and Family held at the Vatican last November. This event gathered representatives of 14 different faiths—and as such, the participation of Church leaders raises once again the question of whether Mormonism is a world religion. Elder Perry does not address this question directly, but his use of the word “world” in ways that both harmonize with and run counter to usual LDS usage suggests that answer might be “yes,” albeit not for reasons we might usually suppose. [Read more…]

Visualizing Conference, October 2014

Full GC

What stood out for you at the most recent General Conference? [Read more…]

Kurosawa’s Guidebook to the Bureaucratic Church

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.)

[Read more…]

October 2014 Conference Report in GIFs

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.” [1]
    • 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.” [2]

On to the GIFs:

film animated GIF

Hearing conference talks in the speaker’s native tongues.

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“Don’t Let’s Ask for the Moon; We Have the Stars”

“No priesthood session for you.”

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 Talks About S-E-X

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…]

General Conference Infographic in Pink and Blue

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:

Click to view full size.

[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

Joseph Smith as Preaching Platform

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.
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Saturday PM General Conference: Since Jimmer’s Not Playing Today, Let’s Watch Conference!

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.

Bummer–same tie.


BHodges here. Had some problems with the wifi but I’m up and running.
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Saturday AM General Conference:Two-Hour Blocks 4Evar!

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…]

An Apostle’s First Words

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.
[Read more…]

Elder Oaks’ Leaves of Grass: “Not a Song of Myself”

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…]

Gaining a Testimony of the Prophet

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…]


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