T.O.T.A.L General Conference Thread, Sunday edition

OK, it’s today, I promise…


  1. I’d really rather that RS be ditched instead of Sunday School.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m with you, Crystal. I’d rather ditch Priesthood than SS. But that will never happen.

  3. Why couldn’t the Church alternate the Saturday night session between priesthood and the women’s broadcast — alternating years?

  4. psst: TOTAL = The Only True And Living.

  5. I’m telling Nathan.

  6. LOL, I miss TOTAL Nathan.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    This thread is also TOMAS (“the one mighty and strong”).

    [See the current issue of Dialogue if that allusion doesn’t mean anything to you; it features two articles on TOMAS.]

  8. TGAB, probably.

  9. I hope the “no big deal” crowd around here listened to Elder Edgely.

    It sure was a wake-up call for me anyway.

  10. I’m liking this talk from the RS Presidency member (missed her name).

    It reminds me that it really is part of true worship and Christlike service to learn and remember the names of the children in your ward.

  11. Her name is Margaret S. Lifferth. :) Good point about learning the kids’ names.

  12. …oh, and she’s in the Primary presidency, not Relief Society. FYI.

  13. Yes, excellent talk by the Primary president. I loved how she made Christ the central focus of her talk.

  14. The Prophet looks tired. I hope he he can be with his wife soon.

  15. Has BKP retired?

  16. Ronan!!!!!!! Sunday morning would have been the perfect time for the big announcement. I am starting to doubt your source. :)

  17. What does TGAB mean?

  18. Dan,
    That is the key that unlocks all mysteries.

  19. Sigh,

    No Steve. He hasn’t.

    It would be funny to see him outlive Thomas S. Monson just to witness the resulting bloggernacle squawkings.

  20. This talk about helping children identify the spirit makes me wonder how old children are before they understand what this means. I’m not sure a four year old, for instance, can discern the “spirit”. No? Yes?

  21. Julie M. Smith says:


    A few months ago, when he was four, we were in the middle of our FHE and my son said, “I feel holy.” Since we don’t use that term to describe our feelings, I don’t think he was just parroting something he had heard.

  22. Funny exchange:

    DW: “How long will it be until have someone other than an old white guy in the Quorum of the 12?”

    Me: “Well, by definition, you must be asking when we’ll have a non-white.”

    She laughed and conceded the point.

  23. If Pres. Packer outlives Pres. Monson, I’ll be so happy. I think I’ll pay a 50% tithe during his presidency.

  24. If it’s 50%, then is it still a tithe?

  25. cj douglass says:

    Somehow this specualting on life and death of the 12 doesn’t seem kosher. No?

  26. Hinckley opened the door to speculating on life and death at the end of the Sunday morming session.

    Kosher pickles. Yum.

  27. Why not?

    It’s not like I’m in line to get life insurance money if one of them checks out or anything.

  28. Can anyone tell me what Elder Bednar’s talk was supposed to have accomplished? I get the point that taking offense is not good and one should turn the other cheek. Granted. But, what is the point of putting scarlet letters on less-active’s and blatantly labeling them?How is that, plus instructions for leaders to make them the ward project supposed to help them really be part of the flock again?

    Aren’t people who take offense the sensative type who will again be offended by both being called on the carpet, being stereotyped with large assumptions(including that almost all inactives haven’t taken the consequences of their choices into consideration) and formulaic instuctions for making you the’ward project’?

    Why such branding of the less actives? Is there anger that they aren’t pulling their weight in the kingdom and others have to? I don’t get it. Why so strongly speak against them, and then let other ENORMOUS sins slip by, like selling pornograpy on your hotel chain’s tv’s, or molessting children, or pride, or excess, or gluttony, or neglect of the poor, etc. etc. etc. etc.???

    Did anyone think that Elder Bednar’s talk was an ‘opportunity’ not to take offense?


  29. GC seemed somewhat better overall this year. In fact, one of the better ones in the last few years. The vast majority of the talks were both relevant and practical. I thought Bednar offered the best talk, hands down. But Holland, Oaks, and Ballard were also strong.

    JAT: “Can anyone tell me what Elder Bednar’s talk was supposed to have accomplished?”


  30. Eric,
    Humility? Hardly. Humility begats humility and the humble don’t need to criticize, condone, or condemn the weak. My point is: go pick on someone who needs taking down— not the lost lambs.

    We might need to agree to disagree on this on Eric.

  31. Re: Elder Bednar’s talk. I liked it a lot, but my husband pointed out that in church we always talk about things on the interpersonal level and often ignore the importance of context and power relationships. I still think it’s best to keep the moral high ground and not take offense, but I can understand my husband’s point. You never hear of a bishop storming out of church because a ward member offended him, because his calling gives him influence. A person in authority can “counsel” others; someone else making the same comment is seen as giving “criticism.” (No personal experience here; I’ve never had a bad bishop!)

    Also, Elder Bednar made his point contrasting Brigham Young with Thomas B. Marsh, but I’m so tired of the milk skimmings story. I would like to read more about Thomas B. Marsh and, if given the opportunity, use the famous incident to show how Thomas was not the only one being petty. I mean, can you imagine taking this kind of problem all the way up the chain?! Someone in authority, somewhere along the line should have realized the matter was ridiculous and not made it such a sticking point. I’ll do that–as long as the facts bear me out!

  32. One more thing–what was Elder Packer saying at the end of his talk about history? Something like, “Don’t be ashamed of our church history.” ANY mention of history from BKP is sure to be interesting; I just didn’t catch what he was up to there.

  33. JAT, Elder Bednar was not picking on, he was inviting them to humble themselves and return to the fold. If they perceive such a loving invitation as “picking on” than that itself is the problem.

  34. cj douglass says:

    Eric I have to say that I feel quite the opposite. From the “landfill” talk to Pres. Hinckley asking “do you want to marry someone who exceeds you in education?” I felt a little confused at the message of some of these talks. Although, It’s probably me.

  35. I think Elder Bednar had some great points, but I’m not comfortable with putting the burden of an offense squarely on the shoulders of the offended. Granted, anybody intending to remain active in the Church would be wise to develop some thick skin, because offenses will happen, but I don’t think members are unjustified in expecting an uplifting, generally unoffensive experience in the Church.

    I worry that by making the taking of offense a sin, we’re going to have an excuse to alienate more inactives. Rather than seriously listening to inactives’ concerns, trying to empathize with them, or making amends, we can just say that they shouldn’t have taken offense in the first place. I don’t see how that’s going to help them back into the fold, or how that’s going to make the Church a more loving place.

    His plea for us to avoid self-righteousness was certainly appropriate, but the general principles communicated in the talk seem to culture just that.

  36. I don’t know cj, by taking individual lines out of context and inferring unintended implications from simple analogies, I think there’s quite of bit of material that we can find potentially confusing or troubling every year.

  37. cj douglass says:

    True. Again, probably me.

  38. Mark Butler says:

    Not exceeds, but something more like “far exceeds”, which probably isn’t healthy either way. I have a bachelor’s degree (which is nothing in and of itself), and you can bet that I would think long and hard before marrying someone who never graduated from high school, unless there was both a good reason and a serious interest in the life of the mind. Of course, I never graduated from high school (early admission – one of many good reasons that might exist).

  39. Joanne,

    Thanks for pointing out that there is a’rest of the story’ when it comes to T.B. Marsh’s wife. Why is it that we constantly pick on her instead of introspecting in ourselves and remembering that Siser Harris could have turned the other cheek as well? (How come no one ever said to her, “it’s only a little cream, for crying out loud, just let it go!!! It’s NOT worth picking a fight and –in the romantic era where shooting duels over honor were par for the course– slapping another sister in the face with a gauntlet. Gimme a break! Over a cup of cream???”)

    It seems so much easier to look at the faults in someone else, especially an ‘estranged’ LDS instead of looking at ourselves. To this day, LDS culture has never held Sister Harris accountable for ‘turning the other cheek’, but we inevitably hold Sister Marsh to that same standard.

    I’d like to hear this story retold as the “Wife of Martin Harris” story.

    Likewise, instead of pointing at inactives and crying ‘foul’ we need to really be looking at some of the (donkey-like) things that we do which WE might need to repent of. If, as Elder bednar stated, we can only change our own behaviour and choices, then if we haven’t been run away, we need to be looking at what we might be doing or not doing which hurts or offends other families. That, would be a humble approach to approaching an inactive.

  40. Steve, it may be true that some wicked members will interpret the talk that way. But the audience for the talk was the offended. Multiple other talks throughout GC were towards potential offenders (e.g. the pleas for honesty and integrity). I think what we ought to focus on are whether or not the principles that Elder Bednar taught are indeed true, not whether some third party will twist them for his advantage.

    The very purpose of Elder Bednar’s talk was to implore us to take responsibility for our own choices instead of blaming them on others. To miss that is to miss the point of his talk entirely.

  41. Eric,
    How can we hold inactives accountable for their choices while not holding actives accountable for theirs?

  42. JAT, we can’t. No one is saying we can or should do any such thing. And nothing in Elder Bednar’s talk suggests otherwise. It’s just that the audience for this specific talk was the offended, not the offenders.

  43. #44, I doubt many of the “offended” were tuning into GC and listening to Elder Bednar’s speech.

  44. Well, ECS, Elder Bednar agrees with you. As he specifically stated. That’s why he suggested bringing his talk to such people.

  45. Agreed that we are all accountable for ourselves. We are responsble for the decisions we make in terms of our own activity AS WELL AS the actions we take which inhibit, harm, discourage or exclude others from paticipating in the church. Alma the younger was held responsble by God and rebuked by an angel for doing exactly that. We can also hold culpability when we push others away, ESPECIALLY when in positions of leadership. (Wasn’t section 121 just covered in part of the Priesthood session???)

  46. Eric,
    Have you at any time been inactive or had a close family member (wife, child, or parent) go inactive by being pushed out by the rest of the ward? (Not by rebellion or personal choice, but by social ostracism?)

  47. Again, JAT, I strongly agree with what you say in 47 and I believe Elder Bednar strongly agrees as well. Absolutely nothing in his talk suggests otherwise.

    I refuse to answer the question in 48. We’re talking about principles here.

  48. Fair enough.

    I suppose there are many facets to the talk and different reactions to it as well. Thanks for sharing yours, its been very helpful to me to see how you and all the other people blogging tonight have interpreted the talk. Signing off this evening, have a good night : )

  49. Mark Butler says:

    The Church is not a social club for those who want to do everything any which way they please. Neither is it a museum for the perfected. But it is a organization for people who actually want to keep the commandments and believe that the Lord has sent prophets to tell them what those commandments are.

    So I don’t see how someone who believes that certain commandments and instructions don’t apply to them and have no desire to change can ever be truly comfortable in the Church.

    The Church is all about change and cheerful conformance to a rather strict standard of behavior – not blind or grudging obedience, but willing, intelligent, and inspired obedience to a law and an ordinance greater than any man or collection of men – the will of God as revealed through his chosen servants and confirmed by the witness of the Holy Spirit.

  50. Another angle on E. Bednar’s talk: some people do not participate in the church because they no longer believe in it. Conference listeners might take Elder B’s remarks as implying that “the” reason people drop out is because they have chosen to take offense. This would be a mistake–and an insensitive one at that.

  51. Mark Butler says:

    Why would anyone cease to believe in the doctrines of the Church unless he or she found them lacking or offensive in some way?

    Either way Elder Bednar is right, people do not “get” offended – they choose to take offense at someone or something, often times cardinal doctrines of the Church – things that they disagree with (who doesn’t at times?) but are not willing to live with.

  52. it may be true that some wicked members will interpret the talk that way.

    Eric, wow. Wicked members?

  53. Steve Evans says:

    Wicked members…. I imagine there are quite a few. I enjoyed Elder Bednar’s talk – it was challenging and inspired. But like others, I felt that there was a piece missing: specifically, an injunction to members not to behave like jerks, and to be thoughtful and mindful of the sensitive feelings of those around us. Elder Bednar may be right — the onus is on the offended to get over it — but by the same token, why not also try to reduce the frictional element?

  54. “Why would anyone cease to believe in the doctrines of the Church unless he or she found them lacking or offensive in some way?”

    Mark, something to think about: some members discover that Joseph Smith was not quite the man the church makes him out to be. When this happens, belief in the doctrines falls rather rapidly.

  55. Eric Russell says:

    gills, I think Elder Bednar shares your concern on that point, as he specifically mentioned that there were many different reasons he had discovered that people leave the church, but that offense was simply among the most common reasons given.

    “Eric, wow. Wicked members?”

    LOL, Ronan. Yep. I like that word.

  56. I think Elder Bednar’s talk was a great reminder to active members of the Church that we don’t have to let an insensitive or unkind remark drive us out of activity. Such things will be said in Church, but we don’t have to let those affect our participation in the Church.

    However, as I touched upon earlier, I’m not sure it’s the best approach we can take to bringing offended inactives back into the fold. Many of them are probably already on the defensive, and I don’t think handing this talk is going to change that. If anything, it might confirm their belief that members really don’t care to validate or empathize with their feelings and concerns.

  57. Mark Butler says:


    I know quite as much about Joseph Smith’s real and perceived weaknesses as practically anyone else, and I can’t see why they make any difference to someone with a real and abiding testimony of the gospel that the Lord used him as an agent to restore.

    The Old Testament is replete with accounts of rather severe weaknesses in Adam, Abraham, and Moses (among many others). Relying on the book of Jude, we know the devil argued that Moses wasn’t worthy of exaltation. And we might well imagine what the argument was – namely his role in the death of the Egyptian taskmaster who was beating one of his brethren. But whatever their sins were, each repented and did as the Lord commanded them, and thus we can say of each what the Lord said of Joseph Smith:

    For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with [him] even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I sealed upon [him his] exaltation, and prepare[d] a throne for him in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham [his] father.

    Behold, I have seen [his] sacrifices, and will forgive all [his] sins; I have seen [his] sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you…Therefore, and I [made] a way for [his] escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.

    Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God.
    (D&C 132:49-50,60)

  58. My concern about Elder Bednar’s talk was that is asked members to walk a very fine line between rigtheously rebuking less actives and doing it in a humble way.

    He was fairly specific in giving an example of the kind of rebuke he used to give to less actives who had taken offense (i.e. reminding them of the eternal consequences of their decision, that they have consigned multiple generations to a lack of blessings, etc.) I think that Elder Bednar may be one of the few human beings in the church who could pull off that kind of rebuke in a loving, humble way.

    In other words, I worry that there are too many eager home teachers out there who will now be emboldened to rebuke in a way that sounds anything but humble and loving. (OK, maybe I just know too many people like this.)

  59. re: 59
    True enough, Mark!
    I made my comment too succinctly–you are absolutely right that many believers are able to view Joseph’s weaknesses through the lens of testimony.

    My point is simply that sometimes, belief in the doctrines fails because belief in the founder fails. Not because the doctrines are lacking or offensive, per se.

  60. I agree with Steve (#55). Where was the admonition to not act like jerks, or for the jerks to apologize when they do something stupid.

    And it isn’t just about principle; this is real life. Several years ago, the ward decided to pile on to me and my wife, so she stopped coming. I tried staying on, even though there were members who made a point to snub me week after week. It was like we were back in kindergarten and the cool kids decided we had cooties.

    After meeting with the bishop for several months, he told me he had decided that maybe he should try seeing things from our point of view. Maybe I was a bit too defensive at the time, but it really hadn’t crossed my mind that he wouldn’t try to see things our way. I knew then and there that he hadn’t really been sincere in helping, but was just going through the motions. I walked out of the building that night, and vowed not to return, but on one condition: I would come back to the ward when somebody invited me back. If I was really welcome there, somebody would take the time to let me know. I have been told that at least one of those who made the point to snub me has said the ward is better without us.

    Three years later now, and I’m still waiting for that invitation. I would be the easiest reactiviation project the Church had known, but nobody has bothered.

  61. Hey Anon — come on back!!

  62. Anon,
    Please come back!

  63. heh heh, Anon’s screwed now…..

  64. cj douglass says:

    Unlike many here, I stay in the church in spite of the members, not because of them. During the course of my activity and inactivity in the church I have met a number of members that make me ashamed to be a mormon. When I hear people call us un-christian, I have a hard time dissagreeing with them. Not because of doctrine but because of the “programs” and “assignments” that supposedly make us charitable. As well as a popular opinion that not drinking coffee trumps commandments like “judge not” or “love on another”. I’m speaking generally ofcourse and I certainly know many other mormons who are the the most wonderful people I know. That being said, I decided long ago that if the restored gospel is true, then there is nothing that is going to keep me from benefiting from it. I’m not trying to “counsel” you, just giving you my take. I think this is what E. Bednar was trying to say.


  65. cj douglass says:

    Oh ya,
    In the words of Elder Scott,”….come back……..we need you……”

  66. cj, if you’re also doing Elder Scott’s creepy stare in your comment 67, your efforts may backfire.

  67. Steve Evans–

    Minor Thread Jack–open up the BCC Shepp Thread comments. BT’s are closed

  68. already done, threadjacking Guy.

  69. No . . .Kevin had closed them, and they appear to still be closed

  70. Don’t get too carried away with the whole “reaching out” bit though.

    In a ward I was in a few years back, we got a call from an out-of-state stake president warning us that a certain individual was moving into our area. In the last town she was in, she had sued several different bishops, the stake president, various minor auxiliary leaders, various business leaders, her attorney, and city and county government on everything from alleged rape, to battery, to sexual harrassment, to defamation, to … you name it.

    She’d made a career out of “suing the church.”

    Our bishop warned all the ward leadership promptly and told them to inform him immediately if she set foot in a church building so he could keep an eye on her. He said that no member was to engage her in conversation alone without a nearby witness and people were to leave her alone and keep an eye out for members who might not be aware.

    Last I heard, she was suing the local police department. It was her third lawsuit in the her new home.

    Yes, I love all God’s children. But, as a practical matter, that lady is absolutely NOT welcome in my ward. Sorry. There’s a difference between being friendly and endangering the well-being of your ward members.

  71. Some commentors have pointed out that some people in our church are less than good. So what else is new? One could learn that by reading 1 Nephi. The Book of Mormon tells us right off the bat that there are Nephi’s and Jacob’s in the Church – and Laman’s and Lemuel’s in the Church. Except in the city of Enoch and among the Nephites following the Savior’s visit, there have always been the Nephi’s and Jacob’s, and the Laman’s and Lemuel’s in the church. Nephi and Jacob didn’t let 2 of the most offensive church members ever – Laman and Lemuel – keep them from being active.

  72. YL, arguably Nephi ended up leaving the church over them, though, and fleeing the civilization entirely to set up his own religious community. I don’t recommend that for most people.

    —and were Laman and Lemuel “in the Church,” even assuming one existed then?

  73. YL, arguably Nephi ended up leaving the church over them, though, and fleeing the civilization entirely to set up his own religious community. I don’t recommend that for most people.

    Except that Nephi was warned by God to flee–probably a good idea for anyone so warned no?

  74. Guy, Manti would be a much larger city if everyone fled there following imagined warnings from God.

  75. Re: #59,

    What about Moses striking water from the stone? The JWs damn him for that act. “Impersonating a Divine Office”, they might call it.

    (oops, my apologies for ‘jacking)

    Um, I really enjoyed Elder Bednar’s talk, except for the feeling he was talking to me directly.

  76. Guy, Manti would be a much larger city if everyone fled there following imagined warnings from God.

    good point.

    and were Laman and Lemuel “in the Church,” even assuming one existed then?

    I’m not sure–but I understand they were involved in running a liberal-minded, yet grossly intolerant Jewish blog.

  77. Guy (#78) ahhh yes, where it was always autumn, and never Rosh Hashanah.

  78. LOL. Great comments, Steve.

  79. Okay,

    I see now that I am at least welcome at BCC. What bothered me the most was that everyone involved knew that my wife was struggling to get back into the church, and that she was dealing with some serious issues. The people she had taken into her confidence took that confidence and turned it against her. You know, bad things happened because we were bad people, that sort of thing. I even brought the bishop copies of one of Elder Scott’s talks to show him we were trying to follow apostolic counsel (You are right, Steve, his talks are better read than watched. I thought I was the only one who was bothered by the way he looks at the camera). That’s why I am posting here anonymously. With that experience, it is hard to trust anyone again.

  80. Anon,
    You and Job, my friend, You and Job. Betrayal is a hard, hard thing. Somehow the knowledge that you are in the right doesn’t do much. I guess all I would ask is who is hurting more from your absence, you or them?
    I do realize its never quite that simple because your presence could be plenty painful to. Throwing yourself into the stream of wicked barbs seems a lot to have asked of us. Best of luck in your journey.

  81. Thanks again to all for your good wishes. Unfortunately, this is all in a relatively small town, with stereotypical small town attitudes. Ever since I found the Bloggernacle a couple of years ago, this has been my most reliable connection to the church. I have found wisdom and true charity here, even when addressed to others going through their own, individual struggles.

  82. John Taber says:

    I doubt many of the “offended” were tuning into GC and listening to Elder Bednar’s speech.

    I was offended enough to walk out of my parents’ house (where I was watching conference) until that session was over. This was not the warm individual my wife remembers as president of Ricks giving this talk.

    It’s easy enough for someone like him to say “Thou shalt not take offense”, but to borrow the landfill analogy, some of us have to deal with the occasional garbage shooting up past the surface. (And I’d just as soon it stayed buried, but I’m not actively digging it up.)

    As long as Gospel Doctrine in my ward is taught by someone who insists on a universal flood and that Goliath was at least nine feet tall, I’m not going to waste my time going back. It’s just not worth it.

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  1. […] Good Sunday Morning!  For conference watchers, please see the Church’s website for viewing options.  For the Bloggernacle watchers, both By Common Consent and Times and Seasons have open threads again for today’s conference sessions.  I notice BCC’s thread is entitled TOTAL general conference.  I’m not sure whether that means it has fewer calories, or is more health or just what.  Perhaps Ronan will clarify for us. […]