Sunday AM General Conference: The “No, I Will Not Attend Your Brunch” Thread

Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 180th Semiannual General Conference. We appreciate your willingness to reject your neighbors’ brunchly advances this Sabbath day in favor of staring at a computer screen. 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

(On site today are Kristine Haglund, M Miles, and the Crawdaddy himself, John C.)

The only thing better than 3 hours of Church on Sunday is 4 hours of Church on Sunday! Who’s with me?!?

Foolish Virgin

Woot! Choir avoids the “slumber snot” trap in the Mendelssohn!

The First Presidency just entered. It is so quiet!

Are the sparkly doodads on the choir dresses distracting on TV?

“Truth Eternal” Hymn #4 (I think) if you’re following along at home. Wilberg will be conducting all of the hymns this morning, and all of the arrangements are his. There will be some Ryan Murphy goodness this afternoon :)

Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth–269 ? (I don’t have a hymnbook, so somebody correct me.) Whenever the cameras pan over the tenors towards the middle of the choir, my Uncle Clark is on screen. Hi, Clark!!

President Eyring

“We ache for [Peter] and see our own need for greater trust in God as we hear the account.

We can take courage from the fact that Peter came to trust the Lord enough to stay faithful in His service all the way to his martyrdom.”

That trust comes from knowing God. More than any other people on earth, we have through the glorious events of the restoration of the gospel, felt the peace that the Lord offered His people with the words: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

ETB again!

Elder Eyring is a really good storyteller. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of him that way before, but he’s really good at the telling detail, the just-obvious-enough moral.

“You show your trust in Him when you listen with the intent to learn, to repent, and then to go and do whatever He asks. If you trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song, and prayer in this conference, you will find it. And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you.”

New arrangement (unpublished) by Wilberg–this is a cheesy hymn, but it’s the very first one I remember singing as a little girl, so I kind of love it. Don’t tell, or my music snob credential will be pulled.

Elder Packer at the stand.

Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family” A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies according to scriptural definition as a revelation, a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and follow.

The Family: A Proclamation

[This is John C. reporting at present]

Agency is more powerful than the adversary.

There is something very liberating when an individual determines of his own free will to be obedient to our Father and our God and expresses that willingness to Him in prayer.

When the revelation speaks in such blunt terms as “thou shalt not,” we’d better pay attention.

Elder Packer: “[Satan] is impotent”

Pornography will, always will repel the Spirit of Christ and will interrupt the communications between our Heavenly Father and His children and disrupt the tender relationship between husband and wife.

The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography–and it is a plague–if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to cast out evil influences.

Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember He is our Father.

You may laugh at this story, but if we are not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?

To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.

Regardless of the opposition, we are determined to stay on course.

If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties needs perish.

For those who truly desire it, there is a way back. Repentance is like unto a detergent. Even ground in stains of sin will come out.

Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight its grip. It can heal over the scars of past mistakes.

Sometimes, even after confession and paying penalties, the most difficult part of repentance is to forgive one’s self.

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to have a man and his wife and their children happy at home.

Elder Jay E. Jensen

As a young elder…in the mission field…, I had a stunning awakening; I did not have a testimony of my own…of the Father and the Son.

I went on my mission living on the borrowed light of my wonderful parents.

Never doubting their words I had not thought about seeking my own spiritual witness.

“Heavenly Father, are you there? I must know for myself!”

Later that night, I came to know for myself for the first time in my life that God and Jesus are real.

I knew…by the “unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost” and the spirit of revelation.

I witnessed Alma’s counsel to “awake and arouse [my] faculties to conduct an experiment upon [His] words.

These words or seeds have grown into trees, indeed giant trees of testimony.

The process continues with more experiments upon the word resulting in…a veritable forest based on revelation.

When the Savior visited the Americas…the Savior taught them…the importance of the Holy Ghost.

President Woodruff: [The Holy Ghost] is not restricted to men, nor to apostles or prophets

President Woodruff: [The Holy Ghost] belongs to every faithful man and woman, and to every child who is old enough to receive the gospel

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead…He has several important roles.

[The Holy Ghost’s roles include] to teach and testify of the Father and the Son; to reveal the truth; and to lead to good

President Monson exemplifies this important role of being led to do good.

Sometimes there is no one like President Monson, no home teacher, no caring sister available to minister in time of need

In those situations, I have come to find solace and direction from the Comforter, another role of the Holy Ghost

Regarding a dying grandchild whom Elder and Sister Jensen could not be with: We could only pray, and we did so fervently!

When the grandchild died: We stood in the hallway of a meetinghouse and hugged and comforted each other.

The Holy Ghost has revealed to me [the Book of Mormon’s] truth and divinity

President Gordon B. Hinckley called the Book of Mormon one of the four essential cornerstones of the Church.

The other cornerstones are Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the restoration of the priesthood, and our testimony of Jesus Christ.

It is significant that [both the First Vision and the Book of Mormon begin] in a family setting.

Events in the lives of Lehi and Joseph Smith parallel each other.

[The Book of Mormon] is saturated with the Spirit of the Lord.

Sister Mary Cook

[btw, it’s Kristine again]

Grandchild Ruby recently born
“Oh, we have to teach Ruby to be a virtuous woman, pure and priceless as her name implies”
Her mother replied, “I am starting today”

How can we…start and keep our children on the path to eternal life?

Brigham Young: We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see children do.

Today I would like to invite you to “be…an example of the believers…in faith [and] purity”
[Joseph Smith] watched and learned about faith in God from his mother, Lucy Mack Smith”
Lucy solved family problems by privately seeking the Lord’s help through prayer.

[Yay for an example of a faithful woman portrayed as a leader in her family!]

Lucy prayed in faith for guidance, and Joseph too retired to a grove of trees where he prayed in faith.

If we have one hand on the rod and one hand in the world, we put our children and youth in danger of losing their way.

You are raising tomorrow’s leaders and your actions are tangibly linked to their faith.

[I am a very bad person, but I can’t help thinking that using a newborn baby as an example of purity, if purity is largely about modesty, is not quite apt–after all babies are born NAKED! ;) ]

To the youth of the Church: Thank you for your righteous examples to your friends, teachers, leaders, and families. …I commend you for your commitment and righteous example. Young men and young women, you can start today by being an example of the believers in faith and purity. …You might be the example my little Ruby will need someday.

Elder Oaks

The Lord has given His children two lines of communication with Him—what we may call the personal
line and the priesthood line. All should understand and be guided by both of these essential lines of

This personal line of communication through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of
our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father.

On this personal line of communication with the Lord our belief and practice is similar to that of those
Christians who insist that human mediators between God and man are unnecessary because all have
direct access to God under the principle Martin Luther referred to as “the priesthood of all believers.”

Unfortunately, some members of our Church underestimate the need for this direct, personal line.
Responding to the undoubted importance of prophetic leadership—the priesthood line which operates
principally to govern heavenly communications on Church matters—some seek to have their priesthood
leaders make personal decisions for them, decisions they should make for themselves by inspiration
through their personal line.

…in its fullness the personal line does not function independent of the priesthood line. The Gift of the
Holy Ghost—the means of communication from God to man—is conferred by priesthood authority…It
does not come merely by desire or belief.

Similarly, we cannot communicate reliably through the direct personal line if we are disobedient to or
out of harmony with the priesthood line.

Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe
the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His atonement. That is why we have
commandments and ordinances. That is why we make covenants. That is how we qualify for the
promised blessings. They all come through the mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel, “after all we
can do.”

It is [the priesthood line] through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living
prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders.

In respect to this priesthood line, our belief and practice is similar to the insistence of some Christians
that the authoritative ordinances (sacraments) are essential and must be performed by one authorized
and empowered by Jesus Christ. We believe the same, but of course differ with other Christians on how
we trace that authority.

Those who reject the need for organized religion reject the work of the Master, who established His
Church and its officers in the meridian of time and who re-established them in modern times.

Two cautions: first, the priesthood line does not supersede the need for the personal line. …As faith
develops, we necessarily rely on the words and faith of others, like our parents, teachers, or priesthood
leaders. But If we are solely dependent on one particular priesthood leader or teacher for our testimony
of the truth, instead of getting that testimony through the personal line, we will be forever vulnerable to
disillusionment by the action of that person. When it comes to a mature knowledge or testimony of the
truth, we should not be dependent on a mortal mediator between us and our Heavenly Father.

[This is my favorite Elder Oaks talk in a long time. I really like the straightforward comparison and also the reference to other religions’ concepts of authority.]

[Lots of heads in the Conference Center move a little bit whenever somebody says the words “I will conclude…”]

…like the personal line, the priesthood line cannot function fully and properly in our behalf unless
we are worthy and obedient.

…the authority that presides in the family–whether father or single-parent mother–functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding priesthood keys.

[Hooray!!! Finally something to quote when people try to tell me that I should have my 13-year-old preside in my home!]
We must use both the personal line and the priesthood line, in proper balance, to achieve the growth
that is the purpose of mortal life. If personal religious practice relies entirely on the personal line,
individualism erases the importance of divine authority. If personal religious practice relies too much
on the priesthood line, individual growth suffers. The children of God need both lines to achieve their
eternal destiny.

Another new Wilberg arrangement–“Love One Another” He can do piano too!!


President Monson

[He doesn’t usually struggle for composure like this–it’s very sweet. I think I’m falling in love a little. I’ve never connected with President Monson the way I did with President Kimball, or President Hinckley–but I just got it. Probably helps that he’s talking about music :) ]

My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?

[When we read this story once in FHE, and tried to get the kids involved in the story by asking “What do you think Jesus said to the one who thanked him?” Sam, who was maybe 4, said “You’re welcome”]

Sincerely giving thanks…unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.

President Hinckley: When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and concern and egotism.

Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings. This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.

A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for his blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort–at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful, and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable; to enact gratitude is generous and noble; but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.

Another new Wilberg arrangement, just in case the 27 key changes in the introduction didn’t identify the composer :)


  1. All I can say is that if President Monson tells stories about people being blessed for not playing basketball on Sunday, then certainly Mark Brown will be condemned for going to brunches on Sunday.

  2. I have to say that even better than a Sunday brunch is Breakfast during session one followed by lunch during session two.

  3. Kristine–how is Music & the Spoken Word going?

  4. Spoken word dude is better heard than seen.

    This is my first conference thread. It is 7 pm and I’m at the stake center. Tonight’s candy is Fazer Tutti Frutti Tropical.

  5. Wait…what is the word of the session today???

  6. Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch for breakfast today. You?

  7. Spanish omelet, homemade cinnamon rolls, chorizo, orange-strawberry-banana juice.

  8. The WORD of the SESSION for this morning’s session is TEMPLE!!

  9. Dieter’s tie this morning is bland.

  10. I interpret President Monson’s basketball sermon as a generalized condemnation of all professional sporting activities, whether on Sunday or not, and so I will consider myself more righteous than those of you who partake in such filth.

  11. We have a selection of bagels, cinnamon/raisin bread, fruit, cantaloupe, and scrambled eggs with cheese. Beverages include milk, orange juice, and hot chocolate.

  12. LaurieinKC says:

    I love these energetic Protestant hymns at Conference!!

  13. We had cinnamon rolls and cranberry juice for breakfast. Not sure what the lunch plans will be yet.

  14. By the way, who else is watching on the church’s beta site? It seems better than the old version, but that may just be because there are fewer people streaming.

  15. Krispy Kreame Pumpkin Spice Dounuts from last night and Michigan Apple Cider, and the candy of the session over here is M&M’s

  16. Alex, I’m on the church beta site, and the quality has gotten much much better.

  17. My wife thinks Elder Eyring is better-looking than Elder Uchtdorf.

    Strange woman.

  18. Any prayer past one minute is too long…

  19. Is it just me, or has there been a discontinuation of displaying scriptures and long quotes during conference addresses?

  20. Caramel rolls and milk here.

  21. I’m not sure where Pres Eyring is going with this…?

  22. Chocolate crunch protein bar from Costco. Thirty milligrams of pure protein and zero net carbohydrates. Less than 300 calories.

    I will lose that remaining 19 pounds.

  23. Trust in Christ…

  24. Wow Mike, that actually sounds really good. Is it filling enough to be one of those meal replacement type of bars?

  25. .. oh, and cold pizza.

  26. That is a good observation Alex. I think you may be correct.

  27. ETB retrospective continues.

  28. Another ETB reference.

  29. More homage to President Benson.

  30. Hey, third ETB unique reference!

  31. Another quote from Ezra Taft Benson. This entire conference has been one giant Benson retrospective.

  32. When will we hear the first John Birch Society endorsement? :)

  33. I thought it was a Clayton Christianson retrospective

  34. Anyone else notice that Eyring explained Joseph Smith’s visit to the grove as an attempt to ask forgiveness of his sins?

    In other news, I wonder what happened to the guy who BOUGHT Elder Eyring’s house…

  35. Brandt #24: Yes, although there’s no nutrition in the bars. The shakes have about 160 calories and 25% of most nutrients, but they’re more expensive per unit.

  36. President Benson largely abandoned his Birch rhetoric once he became prophet.

  37. Now only if we all had extra property lying around that we don’t even want that we can sell to get out of debt.

  38. I feel inspired to sell one of my yachts, so I can pay off one of my beachhouses.

  39. And D&C 1 again.

  40. Seth, stop ruining my jokes!

  41. I’m trying not to feel badly and to figure out what I did wrong that my house hasn’t sold.

  42. I think that’s the third time D&C 1:38 has been quoted. Lots of messages about heeding prophetic authority in this conference.

  43. I love this hymn.

  44. Tracy – You didn’t offer it to me and my wife for a few dollars above your mortgage payment.

  45. Also, left over french toast (crisped in the toaster), strawberries, and juice.

    Snacks: Pumpkin pie with sticky bun ice cream, cupcakes with chocolate frosting and birthday cake ice cream, cold pizza, and candy.

    Come on over if you’re hungry. Or trying to gain 19 pounds.

  46. Sunny, that sounds like a Christmas party, not Conference weekend!

    But that ice cream sounds divine.

  47. I’m hooked up to a lard I.V., and I’m shoving 10 Krispy Kreme donuts into my mouth at a time. And yet I’m unlikely to gain any more weight than the rest of you, from the sound of things.

  48. BKP looking worse every conference.

  49. IS it just me, or does Pres. Packer sound like he’s echoing more than the other speakers?

  50. Allusions to Prop 8? Marriage between man and woman?

  51. so was the Proclamation ever presented to the body of the church to sustain as scripture? if not, why?

  52. brandt–you betcha. Hang onto your hat.

    btw–Crawdaddy’s taking over the post for a bit.

  53. brandt,

    That list is comprised entirely of the leftover trappings of yesterday’s birthday party. A delicious, delicious birthday party.

  54. Alex T, dude, if you want to offer me a few dollars BELOW my mortgage, it’s ALL YOURS!!!

  55. Diego — I do not believe it was. BUt it sounded like that is what Pres. Packer is advocating for.

  56. It’s really hard for many who have experienced obvious miracles to understand that not everyone with faith does, as well. In Pres. Eyring’s defense, however, he did say at the beginning that he understands the need to be careful giving examples of being blessed for faithfulness. I appreciated that.

  57. Diego,

    Nope. And no one knows why.

  58. Can I submit “supernal” as the Word Of The Session for this afternoon?

  59. Satan is IMPOTENT!!!!

  60. “Satan is impotent.”

    kind of a funny thought.

  61. Pernografy! [drink]

  62. “Pornography . . . most frequently through husband and father.”

    One more admission that it’s not just a male problem.

  63. MPB — we actually were tossing around the idea last night of having some word that would be worth some bigger bonus, although we have nothing such as full size candy bars to offer.

    We also thought about putting out Hagoth as a $100 word. If he was mentioned, the first child to catch it could win $100.

  64. Though it is male use of porn that is destroying family and community.

  65. Enjoying the session and BCC this morning. Did he say that the Family is same as other declarations (which are included in D&C)? When will we see The Family printed in D&C????? Porn, porn, porn, porn, porn . . .

  66. And Supernal and Omnipotent were a couple of the “big bonus” words we tossed around.

  67. How many churchmembers will interpret Packer as saying “homosexual orientation has no biological basis”, even though that isn’t really what he’s saying?

  68. Democracy sucks.

  69. Ruh’ roh! “Voting somehow change laws of nature . . . “

  70. There it is.

  71. I feel so awkward about this entire talk.

  72. Yeah, Aaron, many will, unfortunately.

  73. Eh… voting… time to go to the bathroom…

  74. Yes, everyone I know who wants to legalize immoral behaviors must be striving to “change God’s laws”.

  75. I get that you can break pernirgrafy habits but i wonder if the same is tru for ssa. Evergreen seems to prove that electricity wont work. I wonder if waterboarding would work.

  76. did he just compare homosexuals to kittens?

  77. Oh, dear. Taking his argument to its logical conclusion, we should make adultery and premarital cohabitation illegal, enforced by law.

  78. They are often cute.

  79. I wonder if those years my wife and I used contraception count as being “against nature.”

  80. I’m feeling a little sick.

  81. we can at least say he’s reliable

  82. Couldn’t disagree more #9. I think Pres Uchtdorf’s tie is possibly the best I’ve seen in (any) Conference. Ditto his shirt collar.

  83. What are the chances he is only addressing pornography?

  84. Two chances — slim and none.

  85. The funning thing about going after the “vote” is that popular anti-gay sentiment is the main friend of the anti-gay-marriage cause.

  86. Kittens are destroying families. Hopefully now my wife will stop bugging me about getting a cat.

  87. #67 actually, I think that is what he said.

  88. If church leaders are going to stand firm on certain moral teachings, is it really too much to ask that they articulate them in a way that isn’t so ripe for misinterpretation, or over-interpretation?

  89. LaurieinKC says:

    Lesson from Lot’s wife: not that God destroys the wicked, but don’t look back. This is a great interpretation of that account for our time.

  90. is it just a coincidence that bcc has a “no pornography” kitten?

  91. Elder Packer to bloggernacle: suck it.

  92. #67, #87, Yeah, I think that’s what he said too.

  93. Was homosexuality defined as an addiction there? Or was he conflating all of the sexual sins? Weird.

  94. My mom just walked by during Packer: “Is he speaking in double entendre?”

  95. Problem is, I think the bigger deal you make of pornography for the teenager struggling with it, the deeper the addictive tendencies within him grow.

  96. Norbert – I think he was referring to SSA as an addictive habit. And I’m pretty certain that Pres. Packer is among those who believes that a person can pray his/her way out of it.

  97. Packer’s talk seemed pretty standard for him, though did anyone else find all those subtle references to interracial marriage a bit awkward and even tasteless?

  98. I didn’t catch any references to interracial marriage.

  99. #97, What the heck are you talking about?

  100. Who followed Packer?

  101. tavitav (#87),

    No, it isn’t. The way he articulated his point, you can read it as there is nothing inborn that forces one to engage in homosexual activity, per se. And I think that’s the better reading. But honestly, it’s hard to tell what Packer was/is really thinking, since he doesn’t carefully make the orientation/act distinction. I know that many don’t like the use to which this distinction is put, but surely everyone can agree that if the Church is going to prohibit homosexual activity, it’s important to articulate the distinction, rather than conflate the two issues, thereby confusing many members preoccupied with the question, and encouraging (unintentionally, to be sure) others to mouth off ignorantly about how homosexual orientation can’t be inborn, as if the Church’s moral position has anything to do with that issue.

  102. So Brad, I missed the references to interracial marriage, too.

  103. yeah, i missed the interracial marriage, too…

  104. I think that Pres. Packer wanted to make sure everyone in the bloggernacle know that he was still around, and to keep everyone on the blogs on their toes.

  105. 100 — Jay E Jensen is following Packer.

  106. #97, Yeah, I missed that one.

  107. #88 – I want talks to teach principles and not get into detail – so members can govern themselves, but I agree.

  108. There’s another wilford woodruff quote, this conference is a ww retrospective

  109. Brad’s trying to make a point, and you’re all missing it.

  110. (97) – Yeah, missed that entirely. But if so, I have a fast pass to hell which I will happily brandish.

  111. #101 I don’t think Packer believes in the orientation/act distinction. If I recall, he was one of the chief advocates of orientation being sinful.

  112. SUPERNAL — twice in one session.

  113. CJ Douglass says:

    BKP = buzz kill

  114. #97 – Nice one, Brad.

  115. I don’t think Packer believes in the orientation/act distinction. If I recall, he was one of the chief advocates of orientation being sinful.

    I believe he made this point explicitly in this talk, actually.

  116. “Supernal” is definitely the word of the day.

  117. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Re: 97 – I don’t think everyone gets the comparison. For everyone else: imagine hearing this exact same talk thirty/forty years ago.

  118. Brad was being Funny

  119. Over at MM, I started a thread on Sunday Conference. So far we have 4 comments. Three of them are mine :).

    #67: I thought that’s what he said. That’s what I got from it.

    #71, Kelsy: me, too.

    #88, Aaron, I thought the same thing. Why speak euphemistically?

    #91,gst: Run away with me to the Bahamas. I would give all this happiness to walk in your light

  120. #97, Ahhhh, I get it now.

  121. I think packer was talking about a) laws governing pernogrigy
    b) drug laws.

  122. #111 I agree.

  123. Also, what is the “definition of revelation” that applies to the Family Proc to which he refers?

  124. #120…
    b) drug laws??

    such as Arnold the Governator of California decriminalizing marijuana?

    i didn’t get that out of Packer, but maybe i’ll have to read it again with that in mind…

  125. Ruby is a good name.

  126. #122 what we say it is.

  127. Didn’t Pres Russel Nelson have a “Dear Ruby” in last conference?

  128. This isn’t a Primary voice, right?

  129. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Re 118:

    Yeah, Natasha is doing her best to keep MM going, but its awfully quiet over there these days.

  130. Did she just say “an example of faith and impurity” ?

  131. #127 not a primary voice, but a primary tone.

  132. If we’re supposed to have the spirit and the still small voice be our guidance, and if our personal relationship with God is how we know who we are and what path we must follow, then when the talk from Pres. Packer caused my stomach to lurch and my heart to feel heavy, what am I to do with it? In any other circumstance, I would read that feeling as a departing of the spirit, and that I should get the heck away from whatever is causing me to feel that sorrow and heaviness.

  133. CJ Douglass says:

    “the prophet Brigham Young”


  134. “osteo . . . whatsit?”

    That was impressive.

  135. This sister is doing a very nice job.

  136. Sophronia is an awesome name.

  137. #131 *like button*

  138. I’m imagining someone showing up a few hours after I’ve had a baby and saying, “We need to teach her to be a pure and virtuous woman”. I’m also picturing hugging the baby a little closer and asking for the nurse to remove the mom from the movie “Carrie” from my room.

  139. i correct myself in 130, this talk is getting better.

  140. did she say “an example of faith and impurity” ?

  141. Tracy, now you know how I felt listening to Elder McConkie.

  142. Did she just suggest that TV and video games are damning?

  143. I don’t think any sane mother would say that to her daughter after she gives birth. At least, I would have smacked my mom if she had said that.

  144. Sunny #137 I just choked on my Diet Coke.

  145. She just slammed by computer games. Bummer.

  146. Tracy 131 I struggle with this too.

  147. Are these talks vetted through anyone?

  148. The bride was wearing a burka

  149. When my wife and I have children, I expect the first thing our mothers will say is, “Oh, what a beautiful baby!” A few hours later, I fully expect them to be fighting over who will get hold the baby. I don’t think either will suggest raising the child to be virtuous. (I’m pretty certain that is just a given.)

  150. 141 — Yes she did.

    And TEMPLE is starting to pay dividends from the candy bowl.

  151. Britt Daniel says:

    #131 – I am wondering the same thing.

    How should account for feelings of revulsion? President Packer’s talk was faith diminishing for me. What are the implications of that?

  152. L, there is some argument about that but the consensus seems to be “no, at least not for the last few years.”

  153. I know that prngrphy is one of Elder Packer’s pet topics, but I don’t agree with his approach. He approaches the problem from the standpoint of a man who has better things to do, has work to get done, and doesn’t have time for this kind of nonsense.

    This does not describe the situation of many of the youth in the United States.

    The biggest problem facing modern youth in first world societies is a lack of purpose, idleness, and really nothing to focus on other than the self. The so-called ADD epidemic is probably symptomatic of this.

    And the thing about people with ADD is, the more you obsess about something, the more you beat yourself up over it, the more you regard it, the deeper the psychosis surrounding it becomes.

    This is really true of prngrphy. The more you abhor it, the more you dramatize it, the more you “solemnly declare” your intention to beat it, the BIGGER the issue becomes in your mind, the more it occupies your thoughts, and the more paralyzing the issue becomes for you.

    Quite frankly, the best way to make an issue insurmountable for an ADD person in general is to make a big deal of it.

    I use the example of ADD is meant to demonstrate a bigger trend – because I think the same performance anxiety and paralyzing thought patterns afflict many in our current societal paradigm.

    And Boyd K. Packer plays right into this vicious cycle with his approach.

    All he does is explode the issue into a huge deal, make you feel like worthless scum for doing it, and then tell you to just buck up and fight it (ya sissy).

    Not really all that helpful.

  154. Some of you may be right when you say that Packer doesn’t believe in the orientation/act distinction. But I really can’t tell. I get the sense that he just isn’t thinking about it, in which case it’s difficult to discern what he might say if one asked him directly about it.

  155. How far down is Elder Oaks from the Big Chair? Isn’t he 3rd or 4th in line?

    He seems to be in good health. I wonder if we’re looking at our next Church president.

  156. StillConfused says:

    I am with #148. If someone said that kind of crap to me right after my baby was born, I would have had a few choice words in light of the physical ordeal that I had just gone through.

  157. Better would be to direct the youth to other worthwhile goals. The other problems will fall to the wayside once you have a firm purpose about which you are passionate.

  158. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I would say feminine authoritative voice. There are those who would argue not authoritative enough, and there are those who would say that if she were more authoritative that it would be too butch or something similar to butchy.

  159. Thanks Ariel. Maybe it’s time to start.

  160. #150 – That leaders aren’t infallible and apostles aren’t an exception? That not every word they speak comes straight from God?

    That the point being made right now is important? That there really is a need for personal revelation, even when listening to an apostle.

  161. StillConfused says:

    I often wonder if this obsession with p0rn is not making it worse. Little kids may be wondering “what is the p0rnography thing that they keep talking about?”

  162. Oaks takes the stand, and it looks like it’s Protestant-thumping time.

  163. “Personal Line vs. Priesthood Line…”

    I like this distinction thus far in the talk… an interesting way of thinking about it.

  164. Yes, Oaks is currently 4th in line. Monson, Packer, Perry, Oaks…

  165. there is no knowledge but by the church and its leaders…thanks 4 clearing that up…

  166. Ron Madson says:


    Awesome! “Carrie” movie Mom linked to this talk…..brilliant conection

  167. #165 – that is a horrible distortion of what he’s saying.

  168. Sounds like the “telephone game” if you go through the priesthood line. Are you sure the message is getting through?

    I’ll just dial *9 and get God directly.

  169. As someone with ADD who was first exposed to pron at age 12, I heartily endorse Seth’s analysis in #152. You described the problem accurately.

  170. StillConfused says:

    I don’t want a lawyer prophet. I am worried he will get too involved with politics rather than just being a really cute Yoda that everyone loves

  171. My husband is a pushover. He changes the candy buzzword every talk. Sister Cook’s was “example” and “virtuous”. For Oaks it’s “Holy Ghost” and “Priesthood”. I hope he’s taking the kids to the track during the break.

  172. BCC is my fav organized religion based on my personal line of rev.

  173. So Joseph went to a remote grove to pray because his mother had done that on important matters. Good on her.

  174. LaurieinKC says:

    Tracy, talks by Brother Packer have long tended to have the effects on me, similar to what you describe. I am delighted today to find one thing he said that is inspiration to me–the interpretation of the story of Lot’s wife.

    I do not think that my reactions follow the liahona vs iron rod paradigm, but instead have to do with affinity for messages from the Church that expand our capacity for love and inclusion, rather than diminish it. These are the sorts of messages that I personally find most helpful.

  175. If Christ lived in the “Meridian of time” does that mean we have a few million years before the second coming?

  176. I think that Elder Oaks just completely debunked the idea that he is suggesting that listening to church leaders is more important than gaining our own insights.

  177. OMG!!!! Did he just suggest that Joseph Smith got “upset?”

  178. Mike,
    You and Seth R are just sissies.

  179. StillConfused says:

    Has anyone noticed how dark the circles under the speakers eyes are? Don’t they put makeup on the guys?

  180. I’m glad this story about the translation is getting more public play. I tell it in Institute every time I teach about the BoM coming forth.

  181. CJ Douglass says:

    So, “those not of our faith” don’t receive personal revelation?

    I’m confused…

  182. IMO, he completely mischaracterized the protestant idea of “priesthood of all believers.” It’s actually kind of upsetting. Mormons tend to think they know what protestants believe and they tend to be wrong, and this will just exacerbate that.

  183. StillConfused (170) I’ve never noticed Elder Oaks getting openly involved in politics in his discourses. He seems to take a constitutional law approach to me.

  184. #181. Nope. You need to be a part of the organized religion to get personal revelation.

  185. Elder Oaks is not 4th…he’s 5th. Monson, Packer, Perry, Nelson, then Oaks.

  186. This talk by Elder Oaks is bringing back to where I want to be after the sorrow I felt from BKP. This is a great focus from DHO.

  187. Craig, good question.

  188. StillConfused says:

    The best teachers of investigators are the regular “Joes” and “Marys” not those that are all edumacated on the topic

  189. Is it just me, or is Elder Oaks telling us to stop passing the buck to Priesthood authorities to do all our thinking for us?

  190. I feel a strong need to read Elder Poelman’s original 1984 “The Church and the Gospel” talk.

  191. Seth 189, Yep.

  192. StillConfused says:

    #189, I am getting that impression… especially with respect to raising kids

  193. How many times did he say ‘priesthood line’ in that talk?

  194. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    His horizontally striped tie is cool. For a second, I thought I needed to adjust the horizontal hold on my TV….but of course, TV’s don’t have horizontal hold anymore…

  195. I really, really like his distinction between the “personal line” and the “authority line” of the Priesthood and how both are vital for the Restored Gospel.

  196. oh, I see. “original”.


  197. 193- According to our candy bowl: 307

  198. This is a beautiful song.

  199. CJ Douglass says:

    I guess they receive it when they’re praying about Mormon truth claims….. that’s it….[disappointed face]

  200. I like how Elder Oaks said that we shouldn’t rely solely on church leaders nor solely on our own personal revelation. It takes both to understand God’s will.

  201. which version, narrator?

  202. Oaks’s talks always feel like reading the Church Handbook of Instruction.

  203. (189) Yeah, he was definitely saying stop bothering us with all your questions on how to raise kids and make decisions about life, but in a more artful and compassionate way.

  204. Overall I loved that talk — an excellent reminder that while following the prophet is important, getting our own revelation is essential. I do wonder why, if the family is governed by the personal line and requires no priesthood, the father still needs to be in charge, rather than the parents together.

  205. StillConfused says:

    Husband says “that is one honking big organ”

  206. Okay, his talk implies strongly that revelation can only come within the context of Mormonism, but 6 months ago he told of a girl who was prayed for in a protestant church in Texas. Seems like a 180 shift to me.

  207. Scott B. #178: That’s not what my therapist said. And she charges $90 an hour and has a fancy diploma on her office wall, so she must know what she’s talking about.

  208. LaurieinKC says:

    #183, the most politically-oriented Constitutional law interpretation he recently gave was that marriage requirements should be left up to the states and that there is no federal role in governing marriage. With this logic, we would still be banning interracial marriage in the US; the Virginia law was overturned in the 1960’s (I think). And that begs the issue of legal marriage in one state is recognized by all.

  209. Sorry to keep bringing up Elder Packer’s talk, but this quote:

    “If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction”

    So… how exactly does that work? How does obedience erase an addiction?

    He never drops the other shoe.

  210. Interesting that an overwhelming number of prayers are being delivered by Latin general authorities.

  211. (202) Maybe so, but I liked this Oaks talk- especially his clarity and directness. I’ve had enough oblique references today.

  212. StillConfused says:

    Those are some terrible dentures

  213. 185 — Thank you for correcting me.

  214. here we go to a birthday party?

  215. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Dozens of children are now turning to their parents: “See? Even the Prophet stopped practicing piano and he does okay!”

  216. Anyone know how much President Monson is going off-script for his talk?

  217. Pres Monson always makes me cry.

  218. CJ Douglass says:

    Thanks President – for making my kids giggle…

  219. StillConfused says:

    “there is no federal role in governing marriage” It was Bill Clinton who issued the presidential order that marriage is made up of one man and one woman. Hence, gay marriage is prohibited under federal law

  220. StillConfused #220: I think you’re confused. Federal law permits states to refused to recognize gay marriages solemnized in other states. It does not “prohibit gay marriage under federal law.”

  221. “walk with gratitude”

  222. 220 — I’d love to have some kind of reference to that presidential order if you happen to have one.

  223. Mike,

    DOMA prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

  224. Excellent Christian message. Thank you President. What is real, and what we experience, is the essence of our existence. And I’m grateful for it all!

  225. President Monson reminds me of the old turtle in Kung Fu Panda. It’s like he’s reached a stage of life and growth where he realizes it’s not his job to coerce, condemn, or control. He doesn’t fear, just loves. His talks are like warm blankets instead of direct hits. It seems like being in his presence would be an invitation to drop the baggage of the natural man simply for the reason that he wouldn’t expect it, but would take a person as they were. I really love listening to him.

  226. Kevin Barney says:

    185 is correct. Nelson and Oaks were called at the same time, but Oaks had to clear up some stuff at the Utah Supreme Court, so Nelson, who entered the quorum right away, has seniority.

  227. LaurieinKC says:

    Gratitude as the source of other virtues. A wonderful thought. It is the one virtue to which the United States has dedicated a national holiday.

  228. Nate: True, but that’s different than saying “gay marriage is prohibited under federal law.” Non-recognition is not the same as prohibition.

  229. This is a wonderfully hopeful message. This is a great way to end this session.

  230. StillConfused says:

    #221. My bad, it was not an executive order signed by Bill but rather a law signed by Bill: Defense of Marriage Act is the short title of a federal law of the United States passed on September 21, 1996 as Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419. Its provisions are codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C. Under the law, also known as DOMA, no state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state (DOMA, Section 2); the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman (DOMA, Section 3).

  231. LaurieinKC says:

    #224, yes, which is why it is being tested in the courts.

  232. What Sunny Said

  233. StillConfused says:

    Didn’t eat jack rabbit and turnips? That is some good southern eatin’ right there.

  234. He “lighted” it? Granted, I screw up my English with regularity, but not usually while giving a prepared speech.

  235. lighted is a proper word

  236. I need more humor

  237. This is why Pres. Monson was my favorite speaker when I was little — he always told stories, so I could always follow and understand his talks.

  238. In reference to Sunny at #226, our former Stake Presidency was often the same way. The SP was the one full of love. It was his counselors who were “The Hit Men” when we showed up for Bishopric Inservice meetings each month.

  239. Phew! I thought we were going to get a whole talk without three Monson inversions in a row. There they were.

  240. StillConfused says:

    He is going long. He should be done by now

  241. 238- When I remember watching conference as a child I always picture Monson on the screen for the same reason. And my mom telling us to shush, of course.

  242. #238 I am grateful that he usually focuses on stories of Christian living instead of Mormon legalism and doctrinal/moral authoritarianism.

  243. StillConfused says:

    Will they shorten the closing song? Or just go long?

  244. What a beautiful story.

  245. StillConfused says:

    Yaaayyy. SOngs played at tempo!

  246. There was a talk in a Worldwide Training session a few years ago that gave me that same ‘heavy hearted’ feeling. No one else seemed to find the comments difficult to deal with and I refuse to let it drive a wedge between me and the gospel. I keep it in the back of my mind and try to find some justification for the comments in every other talk I hear. So far I haven’t found much but I am still working on it.

  247. What a lovely talk to close this session.

    Now on to a picnic at the park!

  248. I am grateful that the mixture of speakers in conference gives us faith-promoting stories, examples of Christian living, doctrine, theology, history, and calls for improvement.

    I would get much less out of conference if all the speakers were the same.

  249. I love it how the choir goes completely silent for 30 seconds, but continues to mouth the words of the song. And everyone in the audience remains silent too. Way to synchronize silence, people!

  250. Great arrangement!

  251. Welp, I go from a nice uplifting message from President Monson to getting my heart stomped on by watching the Detroit Lions. I really wonder why I do this to myself.

  252. StillConfused says:

    What is the glowing orb on top of the organ pipes?

  253. 249- I don’t think anyone is stating otherwise. There are many different ways to teach and exhort, President Monson’s is simply one of gentleness and invitation through the extension of love. Not the only way, not the only necessary way, but one that I have very much enjoyed as of late.

  254. Finally a short prayer! Not a sermon unto itself…

  255. #182, I think Oaks actually nailed down the priesthood of all believers concept in a way a Protestant would find acceptable.

    Under the Mosaic law the high priest was the only one that the fullest access to God through a veil approaching ritual. The advent of Jesus figuratively rent such a veil and made access to the divine more universal to believers. While Martin Luther coined the “priesthood of all believers” phrase the concept has been around since the earliest Christian Church Father who dealing with the schism from Judaism and the loss of the temple in 70 AD (while still lying claim on that heritage). See James Leo Garrett “The pre-Cyrianic doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.”

    Furthermore Oaks nailed down Catholic and Mormon perspective that personal line (a great description of the “priesthood of all believers”) is insufficient by itself and an authoritative line, mediating priesthood is still needed in addition to the personal line.

  256. Amen, Sunny.

  257. I’d hate to have to be the one to give a prayer right after the MoTab Choir does something like that. I’d probably have to take a bit of time just to compose myself.

  258. sorry about some of my mangled grammar

  259. Shouldn’t this be the 181st semiannual conference? If the first conference was in 1830, then the second was in 1831, and the 10th in 1839. That would mean the 2009 conference should have been the 180th, and 2010 the 181st.

    Now I’m confused.

  260. Probably one of those “was the year 2000 the last year of the century or the first one?” kinds of things.

  261. Ron Madson says:

    I agree with “narrator” that a talk that is “Christcentric” is preferable for many, including myself, over moral authoritarianism and/or “legalisms.” Did anyone catch that he referred to himself as being called as “President” of the church and not “Prophet.”? We know that from BY until Pres. McKay they were only sustained as Presidents and not Prophets. Can one be a President without being a “prophet’? And does that diminish in any way his authority?

  262. Maybe the first one was in the fall, not the spring.

  263. No, I’m serious. The math only works if you don’t count the conferences in 1830, and call the April 1831 conference the first annual general conference.

  264. I don’t think that the first meeting of the church in April 1830 was considered the first general conference of the church, though, as the commandment to meet in conference came during the meeting in which the church was organised.

  265. I absolutely loved President Monson’s closing sermon. I think every Sunday morning talk from the Prophet should be like that. So optimistic, so encouraging, and full of references to the life of Jesus Christ. Just beautiful.

  266. I’d rate Oaks, Monson and the female speaker as the best of the session actually. I include Monson because of the spiritual power of his addresses – even though content-wise, he’s just never done it for me.

  267. I guess I should feel bad now about trying to buy a second home via a short sale so that my wife can have a single story home. On the other hand, I’m trying to keep my spouse happy since a happy spouse means a happy house?

  268. I’m with Sunny and Steve—and Scott B. I loved Elder Monson’s talk today. Somebody said he was relaxing and concentrating on just loving and oh, I hope I can be that way, should I be unlucky enough to live that long.

    I still think Elder Packer was clearly speaking about homosexual orientation. And I’m going to keep my opinions to myself.

  269. The female speaker has a name, and it’s not ok to not bother to scroll up and see what it is. Mary N. Cook

  270. Did anyone else notice breathing tubes entering President Packer’s nose? I am pretty sure that I saw two tubes extending down from the bridge of his glasses, around both sides of his nose, and I assume into it.

  271. #252
    Maybe you should become a Packers fan…

  272. buraianto, I didn’t see it, but from what you described, those would have just been short prongs for a portable oxygen set. Given his history of poor health lately it doesn’t surprise me that he would need some oxygen if he’s going to give a long speech.

  273. Mike,

    Are you accounting for the time conference was canceled due to a flu epidemic?

  274. 132, Tracy, My thoughts and feelings precisely. Elder Packer is going down swinging. It is not pretty.

    With regard to Elder Oaks’ talk about the conflict of personal revelation with the priesthood line: It says that if you are out of snyc with the priesthood line you are in league with the devil. There are many faithful and Christ-centered people who would disagree with this line of thinking.

    Another 50 years before this glacier moves.

  275. all kinds of waste? ewww.

  276. StillConfused says:

    October 3, 2010 at 10:33 am
    Husband says “that is one honking big organ”

    That’s what she said.

  277. John Taber says:

    Elder Nelson would have been senior to Elder Oaks even if the ordinations weren’t a month apart. It’s because Elder Nelson’s a few years older. If two or more apostles are sustained at the same time, age is the tie-breaker. This was the case with the original Twelve; more recently it was the case with Pres. Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar.

    As for numbering General Conferences (and calling some of them “annual” instead of calling all of them “semi-annual”) I’ve never understood the logic.

    Kristine – Elder Oaks did give a Conference talk a couple of years ago saying that single mothers preside in the home, using his own mother as an example.

  278. Solicitor says:

    Synthesizing Elder Oaks’ and President Packer’s talks, perhaps the solution to the widespread consternation over President Packer’s conference address is some humility and repentance on the part of the critics. Otherwise, I expect you voted in the negative during the sustaining of church officers.

  279. Mark Brown says:

    Solicitor, which of these two apostles should we sustain, Elder Packer who says there is no possible chance that people are born gay, or Elder Oaks who has allowed for the chance that they are?

    Moralizing FAIL.

  280. The difference between annual and semi-annual has fascinating history in broader religious history. Annual conferences for churches were the rule, and they were awesome affairs that lasted from Thurs to Mon. They were the headline event for a church organization distributed over multiple quarterly conferences. It’s worth bearing in mind that the Kirtland holy season during which the Temple was dedicated was a high-octane version of the annual conference. Usually you had quarterly conferences the rest of the time (we do these as stake conferences now). I haven’t seen other groups use semi-annual, but the reason to keep the “annual” moniker is to stress continuity with the older traditions.

  281. Left Field says:

    I think the numbering of conferences was at some point done retroactively. So that the “100th Annual Conference” fell on the Centennial of the organization of the church or somesuch. The fact that they occur every six months means that they really all should be called semiannual. If you have a quarterly journal, all issues are called quarterly; you don’t have an annual issue, a semiannual issue, etc.

    Here is a listing of past general conferences:

    Early conferences were held irregularly. There were seven general conferences in 1831. They didn’t start the April – October-ish pattern until 1840, and even after that, there were occasional exceptions. (There were three conferences in 1854, 1858, and 1870, for example.)

    So “180th Annual Conference” should be taken with the same grain of salt as “AD 2010.”

  282. Can anyone paraphrase Packer’s statements about interracial marriage?

  283. Susie- the commentator meant it as a joke :)

  284. Solicitor says:

    #280 — Don’t be obtuse; you know that members of the leading quorums of the church differ on maters from time to time. There seems to be no disagreement on the SSM issue, however. And it seems to me that, appeals to Elder Oaks’ “personal line” notwithstanding, the internal critics of the Church on SSM/Prop 8 find themselves on the “outside” so to speak. My point is twofold; first, based upon many statements made, including on these threads, how can some of the critics, in good faith, vote to sustain the FP/Q12 as prophets, seers and revelators, especially in light of the evil speaking that so freely flows when topics of this type are raised.

    Secondly, for those who are troubled with the incongruence of their feelings on the SSM issue, as compared to the views of the leadership of the Church, I would humbly suggest that maybe the problem isn’t with the Church leadership — maybe the problem is with you.

  285. Ja Benson…darn it, I thought the drama was too good to be true. Oh well.

  286. Susie- I cannot tell you how many times the jokers in the bloggernacle have pulled the wool over my eyes. These guys are good.

  287. #179 Has anyone noticed how dark the circles under the speakers eyes are? Don’t they put makeup on the guys?

    Yeah, but probably not as well. They replaced the outside professionals they used to use.

  288. ClaudiaHen says:

    285–Perhaps you are right.

    I struggle, because all my sense of fairness, of compassion, of sense of human decency, of respecting the rights of others, of treating others how I would want to be treated, even the whisperings of the Spirit seems to point me to support SSM, yet the leadership of the Church does not. So, which am I to follow? The dictates of my own conscience (to use a familiar church phrase), gained over years of thinking, discussing and praying over this issue, or the dictates of my leaders? Which? I cannot betray myself. And I get frustrated and even angry that the church expects and even seems to demand that I do it.

    If I chose wrongly, then I will stand before the judgment bar of God with a clean conscience, knowing that I upheld what I believed in my soul to be the right course of action. If God will condemn for that, then I will accept my punishment.

    I sustain my leaders, but I do not have to agree with them or follow them on every point. I do not have to give up my choices to follow what they would have me do on every point. They may condemn me, but I do not condemn them. We must each do what we feel is right.

  289. Mark Brown,
    Where has Elder Packer said that there is no possible way a person could be born gay?

  290. Scott B>–go to “headlines”–the daily herald has it so does the SLC Trib.

  291. My problem with the whole issue is that when i read the anti-Packer, pro SSM etc-comments, in the majority of them I can’t help but detect an anger and “spirit of contention” that does nothing for their opinions.

  292. Solicitor says:

    289 — I certainly do appreciate your kind hearted approach to the issue; certainly, your attitude is more constructive than the…shall we say, more confrontational manner of other pro-SSM internal critics of the Church.

    Your reply begs the question, I think: what does it mean to “sustain” 15 men as prophets, seers and revelators while rejecting their teaching on a matter like SSM, especially when couched clearly as the mind and will of the Lord? How is that reconciled?

    I can’t agree more that love and charity should characterize ou approach, but I think what we see here in most good-hearted approaches to the issue is people allowing their love of the individual to overcome revealed truth.

    I find great wisdom in Elder Oaks’ address. The “personal line” can’t supercede the “priesthood” line. I of course can’t pass any judgment on individuals’ promptings regarding SSA or SSM; however, I can draw a personal analogy. My own feelings on the issues surrounding illegal immigration have undergone something of a transformation based upon the (admittedly unofficial) signals coming out of church leadership, FWIW.

  293. “Secondly, for those who are troubled with the incongruence of their feelings on the SSM issue, as compared to the views of the leadership of the Church, I would humbly suggest that maybe the problem isn’t with the Church leadership — maybe the problem is with you.”

    May I humbly suggest the Solicitor is an a@#hole?

    All those if favor, please manifest it.

    Probably should moderate that.

  294. @Solicitor (293):

    “I of course can’t pass any judgment on individuals’ promptings regarding SSA or SSM”

    Funny–isn’t that what you’ve been doing in your comments here? Or is this just some sort of ironic performance art?

  295. Solicitor says:

    Chris — that’s quite the reasoned response. I guess truth hurts, huh?

  296. Solicitor says:

    Nate — just asking questions. Or is that too much for critics of the church on this issue to handle? How ’bout you answer the question instead of trying to obfuscate.

  297. Oh, I forgot.

    Are there any who are opposed. Solicitor, only a show of hands is needed.

    (I do not care what you say about me…I do not even think there is such a thing as truth…nope, it doesn’t hurt because it does not exist).

  298. Solicitor says:

    292 — I’d go a step further, and speculate that the many of the strident anti-Packer folks out there are in need of repentance.

    And I say that having some experience in the matter.

  299. Solicitor says:

    Chris — well, at least we know where you’re coming from.

  300. 296: I think Chris’s response was quite a clever way of pointing out the irony of your statement. Giving unsolicited advice to strangers is the definition of arrogant–prefacing it with “may I humbly suggest” is beyond absurd.

  301. Solicitor, I have never hidden where I come from…and everyone knows who I really am.

  302. Solicitor says:

    Nate, if commenters on this blog just want it to be some kind of echo chamber, I can’t help that. My point is that people who put themselves on the opposite side of a serious issue from the leadership of the Church, while at the same time saying that they sustain said leadership as prophets, seers and revelators, carry the burden of explaining the discrepancy.

  303. @297: That’s a neat trick. You can impugn all the people you want without having to take responsibility for your statements. And to answer your question, I don’t have a dog in this race. I’m just here to call out bad arguments and irresponsible rhetoric.

  304. Solicitor says:

    Chris — good for you. Seeing as who I am has prescious little to do with the arguments I making, I’ll maintain my anonymity to the degree which I can control.

    And seeing as we’re not coming from a common frame of reference on something so fundamental as whether there is objective truth, I don’t see value in continuing this exchange.

  305. Solicitor says:

    304 — I haven’t impugned anyone’s motives, quite the opposite; I’ve recognized that many people on the “pro” SSA/SSM issues view the from the prism of love. I think that’s the right approach. My difference is that I believe that our sympathy should not overcome truths and laws given by God through His prophets.

    Your approach, on the other hand, is to condemn my questions as being so poor as to be blithely dismissed, without even having the ability for formulate a direct response. So, let’s have it.

  306. @303: And I’m sure that everyone appreciates your letting them know just how in need of repentance they are–only problem is that they didn’t ask, and you are not in a position to judge the people here. To say “I think that sustaining the brethren means that you cannot disagree with them on the issue of marriage” is a fine statement to make. To include the statement that people need to repent or change their thinking on the issue is not dialogue or persuasion–it’s standing in judgment, something that (a) you are not qualified to do, (b) is the opposite of being humble, and (c) annoys the living crap out of everyone else who is trying to exchange ideas.

  307. Solicitor,
    Not that it isn’t profoundly courageous (and not the least bit self-satisfied, arrogant, or indulgent) to drop by and unceremoniously (and anonymously) call a bunch of strangers to repentance, but I’ll remind you that the brethren—even in unanimity—have been wrong in the past. Examples pertaining to the question of marriage would include the necessity of polygamy as a condition for exaltation as well as the danger of interracial marriage (for which President Packer’s vague and euphemistic discussion this morning could stand, word for word, as a strident defense). Past wrongs, of course, do not constitute evidence that Church leaders are currently wrong. But they do suggest what anybody who has taken (and forever lost) the time to read your comments here already intuits: your case for your superior righteousness and/or worthiness to carry a temple recommend as compared with some commenters on a blog is a dramatic, and pathetic overreach.

    I’ll go a step further, without even a hint of self-directed irony, and speculate that you are in need of repentance. Not for inadequately supporting President Packer, but for acting like a dick to fellow Latter-day Saints.

  308. And as for the oh-so-eagerly awaited response to your question about sustaining Church leaders, I’ll just say that some of the spiritually weak among us don’t believe that sustaining someone—even as prophet, seer, and revelator—means uncritically assuming that what they say automatically and irrevocably reflects the mind and will of God.

  309. 306: I can’t engage you on this question until you answer the question you raised in #293: What do you believe it means to sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as prophets, seers and revelators? Since you brought up the question, you can lay out your defense.

    I, however, don’t debate with people who refuse to define their terms. I don’t play games where the goalposts are always moving.

  310. One final comment.

    Chris H is also guilty of being a dick.

    And so am I.

    I apologize for that, Solicitor. I encourage you to disregard my personal criticisms of you. I don’t know you and it is unfair for me to assume such uncharitable intentions on your part, especially given the mostly civil tone of your comments.

  311. Solicitor says:


    No sweat.

    Engaging in comment threads doesn’t always inspire the best in people, especially me. In my defense, however, I was (poorly) attempting to direct that comment to the most strident and extreme of the critics, those who are clearly “evil speaking against”….you know the rest — certainly not just anyone who has a disagreement over this issue.

    And I surely recognize that I am in need of repentance.

  312. ClaudiaHen says:

    Solicitor, I explained in my comment that I think I can sustain them and not agree with them. Sustain means to me to love and help in building the kingdom with them. It means to me to walk towards Christ together. It doesn’t mean we have to do it in lockstep. It means I will carefully consider their words. Sustain means I will accept my assignments unless I feel directed by personal revelation to do otherwise. I will do my part to hold up other members by ministering to them. Since when does sustain mean never think my own thoughts and never make my own decisions?

    The snarky comments come when people feel like they can’t have their own minds and their own opinions. I’ve made snarky comments and I don’t always feel bad about it. It’s a way of coping with the cognitive dissonance. It’s a mostly harmless way of releasing those harmful emotions. Much better than leaving the church, don’t you think? But then, so often people on the internet think I should leave. Such a beautiful, Christ-like attitude to show to a fellow member of God’s church, don’t you think? (Note sarcasm in last sentence).

  313. Solicitor says:


    I’ll be happy to answer my own question when time allows; but basically, my view is that if they (especially as a collective group) say something authoritative like “marriage between man and woman is ordained of God” and is an essential part of the Plan of Salvation, that is going to strongly inform my views on the subject.

    Fwiw, I think there is room for reasoned disagreement with regard to SSM as a public policy issue; I’m less inclined to see where there is room to disagree with SSR when discussing the internal views of the Church, Church recognition of SSMs for Law of Chastity purposes, etc…, to say nothing about same sex temple marriages, or our theology on the eternal nature of a same sex marriage.

  314. Solicitor says:


    So to sum up, sustaining to you means doing what you’re asked to do, as long as you agree with it? Am I missing something? I’ve got to think that there is some reasonable middle ground between this position and blind obedience (which I don’t advocate for, either).

    What if I were to think that moderate drinking or pornography use had no negative effect on me, am I then justified in indulging in those things?

  315. ClaudiaHen says:

    So, let’s be clear. You think supporting SSM is on par with pornography?

    Just checking.

  316. ClaudiaHen says:

    Is there no room in the church for kind disagreement? For personal revelation sometimes superseding leaders’ direction? If not, than this is not the church I thought it was. I must have walked into the wrong building last week.

    Yes, basically that is it. But, I very carefully seek out the Spirit in every action. I very carefully weigh every decision. I very carefully consider each choice.

    If you think that will lead me to pornography and drinking, then I’m not sure you understand the power of personal revelation and following the Spirit.

  317. Solicitor,
    I think that, on paper, with no additional information about circumstances, heart, intent, or other real factors, you’re absolutely right: claiming to sustain a leader in the Church–be it a Bishop or RS President or a GA–while simultaneously advocating a position with which said leader disagrees is highly problematic.

    However, the truth is, circumstances, heart, and intent matter tremendously–if it were not so, then God’s role in the judgment seat could easily be delegated to anyone who can read a list of Do’s and Don’ts.

    My belief and understanding is that the only relevant marker of keeping covenants to sustain and support our ecclesiastical leaders is the presence of the Holy Ghost. If a man’s position on an issue causes him to lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost, then he is in the wrong, end of story.

    The catch is, no other soul under heaven knows whether or not another person has lost the Spirit, unless it is so revealed by that Spirit.

    In other words, if and when I feel pressed to question how another person can believe this or that and still be in good standing, I try my best to button my lip.

  318. Solicitor,

    My 2 cents: I judge things based on their likelihood of being true. For my entire life, the sun has come up each morning. I assume it will come up tomorrow. I could obviously be wrong, but I have never seen a time when it didn’t come up, so I am fairly certain that it will come up.

    You talk about the infallibility of what BKP said. If everything prophets and apostles have said in this dispensation has always been true, then I would also accept this unquestioningly, as you seem to suggest is the correct response. There have been many, many things that have been wrong, however, ranging from doctrinal things such as blacks NEVER having the priesthood or polygamy NEVER being taken away to other things such as man NEVER landing on the moon, or when he does get there that we would send missionaries to the Quaker-looking people living there.

    I look at this the same way. I understand the point they are trying to make, but I also believe God gave me a mind and a heart and compassion. I don’t see how denying someone else a right to live their life how they feel affects me. I have many gay friends, and given their struggles, they certainly and absolutely did NOT CHOOSE to be like that. It is who they are.

    Do I disagree with BKP? Yes. Might I be wrong? Yes. But has our Church’s history shown that he might be wrong as well, despite his title? Yes.

  319. “Chris H is also guilty of being a dick.”

    I always thought that was a universally accepted truth which did not need to be stated. It is assumed.

  320. Solicitor’s new, Chris. Milk before meat. :)

  321. If sustaining our leaders meant agreeing with them in every point, then there would be no reason for the church to have councils. Nor would there be a reason for presidencies and bishoprics, except for the purpose of having a temporary line of succession for when the presiding authority is gone. But we do have councils, and we do have presidencies/bishoprics. Councils are meant to offer counsel. In LDS jargon, to sustain is to support, encourage, and uplift. At no time have I ever heard a leader say that to sustain is to blindly follow. We sustain our leaders when we offer counsel as it has been sought. We sustain our leaders when we support their efforts to know and understand the will of the Lord. We sustain our leaders when we show love toward them. I can disagree with a leader and still sustain him or her by doing all of these things.

  322. Dicks don’t dick people. People dick people. Ergo, dicks aren’t the problem.

    And furthermore, the Creator made dicks. Ergo, dicks aren’t bad.

    Moreover, nobody, NOBODY, has defined what a dick is. Define your terms.

    Behold my logic.


    Have I meaningfully contributed to this discussion?

  323. Solicitor, so basically in your view one has to agree with everything an Apostle or Prophet says in order to sustain them? Where do you get this idea from? (source)

    Last time I checked, these good men may be inspired leaders but they still MEN with the same strengths and weaknesses every human have. They’re not infallible, they are not always right so what is the problem with sustaining them YET take into consideration that they are HUMAN?

  324. “Do I disagree with BKP? Yes. Might I be wrong? Yes. But has our Church’s history shown that he might be wrong as well, despite his title? Yes.”

    Exactly. I don’t get why members think it is so wrong to disagree with a GA. Some people truly think they never wrong. Geez, someone needs to read a lil more about Church history.

  325. I agree with church leaders on Issues A, B, C …
    Therefore, church leaders are probably right on those issues.

    Church leaders have been wrong in the past.
    Therefore, they may be wrong on Issue X, too.

    I disagree with their stand on Issue X.
    Therefore, this is one of those times when they are probably wrong.

    I agree with them when they are right; I disagree with them when they are wrong.
    Therefore, while they may sometimes be wrong, *I* am never wrong.

    Just in case there was any question about that.

  326. Well said Ardis. I think if a GA says something you should spend extra time being self-critical of yourself if you disagree rather than just discounting the idea out of hand. I’m frankly shocked at a lot of the comments on the conference topics.

  327. Steve Evans says:

    “if a GA says something you should spend extra time being self-critical of yourself if you disagree rather than just discounting the idea out of hand.”

    That’s an extraordinary level of respect for one’s office, Clark. I agree that no-one’s ideas should be discounted out of hand, but I don’t think that’s what’s been happening, do you?

  328. Well I can’t say what’s actually going on – but there does appear to be a lot of discounting out of hand.

    I don’t see that as “extraordinary level of respect” though. It entails fallibilism just that if someone says something you disagree with you ought inquire more rather than cutting off inquiry. The problem is that we in our biases tend to not be critical of what we seem confident of. Conference is useful to the degree that it provides an opportunity to de-center us momentarily so we can see those assumptions. We ought take advantage of that moment.

    As for what’s going on, I can’t say what people are actually doing. I will say a lot of the comments about Pres. Benson really troubled me here and on FPR.

  329. Clark what exactly disturbed you about the comments on Pres. Benson?

  330. Ron Madson says:

    It appears that right after Elder Benson gave his “Fourteen Fundamentals” speech at BYU that Pres. Kimball was displeased and an apology/explanation was required before the Q12 and then later before all GAs.
    Here is my question, has a President of the Church ever mouthed those very words since 1980 or taken up what Elder Oaks stated that if your personal revelation conflicts with Priesthood revelation then you are not getting it from God, ie, has any President in any setting said:
    1. I will never lead you astray, trust me?
    2. Follow me right or wrong as suggested in part of that speech?
    3. If you get personal revelation but I say something else is the case then your personal revelation is not of God?

    Maybe they have, but I do not recall a President/Prophet so stating—others have said so but have they?
    How would that come across?

  331. “I will say a lot of the comments about Pres. Benson really troubled me here and on FPR.”

    I think discussing Pres. Benson is nearly impossible. However, the topic of Ezra Taft Benson does need to be addressed.

  332. Clark,
    I agree with you that many comments in this thread (and others) strike me as very dismissive of some of the things said. In fact, I think it’s kind of funny for anyone to bother trying to argue otherwise.

    However, I am not certain that the dismissals of certain messages should be construed (by anyone) as being quick or without careful consideration. The reason is that virtually all of these messages have been given time and time again, and most of the people discussing them have been doing so for years on end. Thus, the seemingly-out-of-hand remarks from some people are more frequently the result of deep, long-term, and often painful reflection and pondering. I doubt any LDS is more aware of the troubling nature of a disagreement with a Church leader than a person trying to decide whether they can honestly hold a temple recommend while maintaining that disagreement.

  333. When I heard the 14 fundamentals talk, I remember thinking, “Man it sounds like he’s laying the groundwork for his very soon call to become prophet.” Seeing as how it was just a very short while until he became the next prophet…

    If there is any apology, I would not be surprised that it was related to this. Not that the content was necessarily negative (it was for the most part all drawn from sources or direct observations of how prophets operated elsewhere and repackaged into these 14 points). I would assume the prophet wasn’t thrilled with the idea of an impending prophet stepping into those shoes too early, or to be seen as stepping into those shoes too early.

    However, since he was never asked to apologize to you or I, I think we can safely assume it was not you or I he offended. Since he was never asked to retract those words, I think we can safely assume those words were fine. And the only problem is some people’s over the top interpretation of them — no doubt egged on by Elder Benson’s zeal to wax political at times.

    And since those points were reprinted in the Ensign, I think we can add the stamp of approval of church authorities to them.

    I see nothing wrong with those points, but I’d be happy to read the problems others have with them. Maybe it’s been discussed in the 300 comments! But a nice blog post would be interesting (or I fear disheartening) to read.

  334. That’s an extraordinary level of respect for one’s office, Clark.

    Steve, I think that’s one possibility. I think a better way of looking at it is as an extraordinary level of caution, given covenants made to not speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. My experience (especially in the bloggernacle) is that when it comes to BKP, ETB, and others who have said things that cause a lot of disagreement, the line between dismissing arguments and dismissing people gets blurred very quickly. I think it’s worth taking the extra caution Clark is talking about.

  335. Mark Brown says:

    I think you have it about right, Scott. Sustaining that is meaningful at all requires more than just saying “How high?” Especially in the case when several contemporary members of the Twelve have expressed opinions which are at odds with each other, the process of working out what it means to sustain them means we are going to have to get our hands dirty and do some hard spiritual work.

    I also don’t like the tone of some of the comments made about the brethren. BCC hosted an interesting discussion once about what exactly we mean when we say ‘The Lord’s Annointed’. The short version is that it can mean anything from the Prophet, the First Presidency, all general authorities, your MP, your ZL, or the 2nd counselor in the Elder’s quorum. I favor the idea that it means all endowed members of the body of Christ. So our frequent formulation that dictates we need to defend the Brethren by dumping on our fellow members, as we have also seen on this thread, is probably just as wrong as stating that Elder _____ is wrong on this or that issue.

  336. 336 – Thats a really good point. Thank you.

  337. Ron Madson says:

    #333/ Scott B

    Appreciate your pointing out that for many of us our angst/issues with such things as 14 Fundamentals” or “if your personal revelation is contrary to Priesthood line revelation then you are not getting it from God. This issue has been an issue in my family since the MMM massacre. My 90 year old mother still bristles at the thought that her gggrandfather, William Alma Young, felt compelled to follow his SP and JD Lee to participate there contrary to his conscience–the whole obey or be damned thing. He testified at the trial, trembling, and then two months later died. My mother’s side of family has been largely inactive and bitter to this day and major suspicious of authority figures.-(that and also polygamy issues and “priesthood lines of authority supposedly to be followed)
    So, yes, this issue has been around a long time.
    My mother is active, I am and hope to remain. I agree with Ardis that if A through T is true but U through Z is suspicious and maybe false, I am not willing to discard the truth of A through T, but it should not surprise anyone when we who have descended from French Hugenots or other protestant lines have an deeply inbred reaction to anyone telling us to follow authority for authority sake whether it be a Pope of President of the church when our conscience/ inspiration dictates otherwise.
    Most of the time not an issue, but when it is….

  338. Suise, (330) the way Benson seemed just dismissed as a quack and his talk obviously wrong.

    I agree with what Chris said. I actually liked the 14 fundamentals quite a bit. Indeed I really miss the style of Benson’s conference talks. I’ve never understood the dismissal way people treated him since. There certainly are overly strong ways to read his talk, although I tend to see those ways as incorrect.

    To me one of the more powerful testimonies of Benson as a prophet was the change when he took on the mantle. There really was a big change in what he spoke of publicly. I’d like to ascribe that to the power of the Holy Ghost as well as a recognition of his position.

  339. Steve Evans says:

    I hosted that discussion, if memory serves — but I’m not convinced that the covenant you mention is what’s really at play. The present discussion strikes me as more of a cultural knee-jerk reaction to invariably agree with everything the Brethren say. That’s not the same thing as avoiding evil-speaking.

  340. The words of living apostles should be carefully considered – especially if we disagree with them.

    But, an acknowledgement that they are flawed, frail, sinners in need of a Savior (just like the rest of us) is not even in the same zip code as “speaking evil”. In fact, to not recognize them as fallible is equal to blasphemy – in my book.

    Also, disagreements don’t always stem from personal politics or changing fads. They can also spawn from a careful reading of scripture – and cannot be easily dismissed.

  341. The apology comment of ETB about the 14 fundamentals is real or another internet rumor?

  342. Steve Evans says:

    And Clark, I share the love of President Benson. He gave some of the best sermons as President that I’ve ever heard.

  343. (339) Clark. I have great respect for Pres. Benson as well as other church leaders however, particularly with that talk I do not agree with a lot of things he said (the “cannot lead you astray”) is one of them. It is not scriptural and gives the impression of infallibility which it doesn’t exist in a man.

    I also find ironic that yesterday in conference they quoted the words of a dead prophet (Benson) to state the importance of following the living one.

  344. I hosted that discussion, if memory serves — but I’m not convinced that the covenant you mention is what’s really at play. The present discussion strikes me as more of a cultural knee-jerk reaction to invariably agree with everything the Brethren say. That’s not the same thing as avoiding evil-speaking.

    Perhaps, Steve. That is very possibly the case for many people–I don’t know. I know that for me, it is the covenant that dictates not so much what I say, but how I say it, and how quickly I am willing to say what I am willing to say. I certainly can’t speak for others, so I correct myself there.

  345. Ron Madson says:

    #342 Susie,

    As to Pres. Kimball’s angst over the 14 Fundamentals Speech by ETB at BYU in 1980 is found in MIchael Quinn’s book entitled “Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power” and then chapter 3 entitled: “Ezra Taft Benson: A study of Inter-Quorum Conflict”. It is 49 pages long but the footnotes in Quinn style is very, very extensive. He gets his original sources/letters etc. all lined up. Then go to page 111 and then follow the footnotes. Context is very important and the conflict within the Quorum was very real and ongoing for years. It is true that much comes form Ed Kimball, Pres. Kimball’s son and also from Camilla Kimball’s letter(s) to her brother in law. Anyway, the speech was not well received by Pres. Kimball.

  346. Steve, I can’t speak for anyone else. I think to me the issue was the level of snark towards the apostles. Heck, I came of age during the overly ironic 90’s. As a member of Gen-X irony and snark are part of my cultural language. But there’s just something disturbing about the way it was done. (And let me be clear I don’t find BCC the worst offender in the least – it’s more coincidence I bothered to post it here to second Ardis)

    I don’t think it’s a “knee jerk agreement” either. That cuts off inquiry just as much as a knee jerk disagreement with anything at odds with our cultural place in intelligentsia. I’m afraid I personally don’t see much difference between many “intellectuals” and their quick dismissal of Benson, McConkie or Packer than with the many McConkie quoting devotees I encountered back in the 90’s. Both seem to be engaged in the same kind of behavior. (IMO)

    My point is that if someone we treat as a prophet feels inspired to talk on a topic in conference we can’t simply dismiss it. Even if we considered the ideas in the past. This isn’t to say it is correct. But it means we ought at least let it drive our thought as a place to investigate.

  347. There’s no way in heck I’m reading 300+ comments, so I don’t know if this will interact with the conversation in a meaningful way, but I just want to point out that it is possible to:

    (1) completely agree with the Church’s position on homosexuality;
    (2) completely agree with the Church’s position on gay marriage;
    (3) completely agree with the Church’s involvement with Prop 8;

    and yet still …

    (4) conclude that BKP’s speech was horribly problematic for a host of reasons.

    That is all.

  348. Susie – “not lead astray” either in that context or the original context of the notes to OD-1 simply doesn’t mean infallibility. I’d say it unfortunate that some take it that way. But I’m convinced that’s not at all what Pres. Benson meant by it. Note that Pres. Benson is merely quoting Pres. Woodruff who is saying that to deal with opposition to his cessation of public polygamy.

    I’d also dispute it’s not scriptural. Evangelicals bring tons of scriptures up along these lines in order to attack Mormons who accept fallible prophets. The argument being that if a prophet does anything incorrect they must not be a prophet. Which is of course silly.

  349. Steve Evans says:

    Clark, the last para in your #347 is just good sense. No dispute here.

  350. Mark Brown says:

    Clark, let’s consider for a moment what went on after Elder Benson gave that talk at BYU. The president of the church who had know him personally for 50 years and his brethren and friends in the quorum who dealt with him almost daily and face to face asked him to please clarify what he meant. If it was problematic for those people, is it really such a stretch to see how it could cause some of the rank and file members a lot of heartburn, especially when they don’t have the context of the clarification?

  351. Mark Brown says:

    I will go even further and say that a speech which is so capable of being misunderstood by people who are that close to you and also kindly disposed towards you is, almost by definition, a bad speech.

  352. Mark, no doubt. As written it can be misconstrued. (Especially if one doesn’t read point 4 in light of point 3 discussed the paragraph before)

    But note that’s not what I was getting at. Even if it can and has been misconstrued I don’t think that justifies the level of snark towards it.

  353. Clark, you may be right, but as was said earlier, sometimes snark is just away of coping with dissonance. Snark may not be the Grade A USDA approved approach to dealing with messages that don’t jive, but its not the worst approach either.

  354. Wouldn’t it perhaps be more reasonable to say that priesthood leaders should be given a healthy degree of deference even when you disagree on some point or another? There can’t possibly be an organized religion of any kind without it.

    For example, one might hold a wide variety of unorthodox views, but that doesn’t mean you bring them up in gospel doctrine class. Or if you have a church calling, one pretty much has to be willing to take direction within the scope of that position, even if you politely disagree.

  355. I’ve interpreted the statement in OD-1 about the leader of the church not being able to lead the people astray as meaning that if the president were to try to take the church far off the course the Lord has set out, then that president will no longer remain in office.

    But I think it takes quite a bit for the church to be led astray, as opposed to church leaders making decisions that may not be the best decisions ever.

  356. If I were an anti-Mormon writing a letter to Santa Claus, and I was either (a) looking to tear down the testimony of my LDS friends by sharing tidbits of historical information that problematize overly-robust notions of prophetic authority in the modern Church, or (b) looking to dissuade non-Mormons from investigating Mormonism by painting the LDS leadership as claiming a scary amount of power and knowledge on the part of the Prophet vs-a-vs his flock, the very first item on my Christmas List would be a wish that Santa might persuade LDS leaders to resurrect Ezra Taft Benson’s “14 Fundamentals” talk and disseminate it widely.

    Then, on Christmas morning, when I found a copy of the October GC Ensign in my stocking, I’d read it, and then become so giddy I’d probably wet myself.

  357. Mark Brown says:

    I hear missionaries in your mission did a lot of that. And other stuff, too.

  358. Br. Russ (354) I disagree but I’ll not belabour the point.

    Mark (355) Yes, I agree.

    Alex (356) That is also how I read it. I also think that there is something to be said for sustaining a leader in making non-egregious errors. i.e. if a Bishop makes a plan for something stupid, so long as it’s not way over the line, I think we have a duty to support him. He’ll figure out if it doesn’t work. I see that as what Pres. Grant was saying in the anecdote Pres. Benson was giving. That is leaders need to be able to be leaders even with mistakes and receive support. It’s more wrapped up in the old saying about the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    Aaron (357) I’m skeptical about most antis meaning much.

  359. I’d agree that we have an obligation to take what our leaders say seriously, and not dismiss it out of hand. But I don’t think it’s fair to frame the reaction to President Packer’s talk in quite such simple terms. I might hear someone’s talk on a variety of topics and think, okay, my own take on this is somewhat different from that, and I might have some disagreements with some of what they said, but this is something I should consider. I should perhaps question my assumptions. I probably am too quick to dissent and dismiss, I will admit. I’m undoubtedly too enamored of my own opinions. But I do recognize that part of my membership in the Church means taking seriously what the GA’s say.

    But I think this talk raises particular problems. It’s getting discussed here as a kind of theoretical question—do you humbly reconsider your views after hearing a talk like this, or do you arrogantly decide that you know better? But the issue here isn’t simply some kind of abstract question about obedience and who gets to proclaim themselves the most righteous. The idea that homosexuality is something that can be cured by faith has been devastating for a lot of people. It’s one that’s left a lot of casualties in its wake. And the anguish around it arises from a history of taking that idea seriously, not a history of casually dismissing it. My guess—as Scott B said in 333—is that the majority of people commenting on this have wrestled with this issue a lot.

    I do think tone matters, and I’m not defending snarky attacks on our leaders. But I do think it’s legitimate to raise questions about what they are saying, especially in cases when one has seen such a teaching cause real harm. (I would similarly express strong disagreement with President Kimball’s idea that it’s better to lose your life than your virtue). And I think it’s a bit of a leap from my saying that, to an accusation that that means I only agree with Church leaders when they agree with me. My relationship to the Church is a lot more complicated than that. If I could glibly disagree with whatever I don’t like, in fact, I would find Conference much less potentially challenging.

  360. Clark, I guess I’m not sure what part of my comment you disagree with.
    Is it:
    A) that snark is a coping mechanism to deal with dissonance.
    B) Its not the best coping mechanism
    C) That there are far worse mechanisms

    The first two seem so self-evident that I have to assume you disagree with C, but that doesn’t make much sense either unless you think that snark is somehow worse than other mechanisms people use to deal with dissonance with the church:

    *Trying to schism with the church and take others with them.
    *Going inactive/leaving the church.
    *Using anti-depressants to alleviate stress brought on by dissonance.

    Would you contest that these mechanisms aren’t employed by people frustrated with the church, or just that “snark” is somehow more damaging?

    Again, I’m not trying to excuse the tone employed by some people, but I think there is a huge gulf between sarcasm and “evil speaking”. And similar to GAs speaking from the pulpit probably should be given the benefit of a doubt, perhaps your fellow believers should be given the benefit of the doubt that they are not transgressing temple covenants when they let off some steam.

    Also, I recognize that you didn’t make the “evil speaking” reference, that was Solicitor. I do recognize the more moderate tone of your comments.

  361. I also think that there is something to be said for sustaining a leader in making non-egregious errors. i.e. if a Bishop makes a plan for something stupid, so long as it’s not way over the line, I think we have a duty to support him.

    Whereas I think we have a duty to tell him why it is a stupid idea, but if he really wants to move forward with it, we will do our best to accomplish it.

    For example, say a bishop wants to have the ward invest in leasing an acre of land, and then purchase the seed necessary to plant said acre with a crop, and then pay a farmer to plant and tend said crop, all so that the members can harvest it at the end of the season. If the crop is turnips, and you know for a fact that nobody in your ward likes turnips, because they are prejudiced against turnips in that way, then it would probably be a good idea to tell the bishop that it would be a better idea to plant corn. If he insists that we need to plant turnips, you can say, “Well, Bishop, I really think that planting turnips is a stupid idea, because, as I’ve pointed out, nobody around here likes turnips, but if you really feel it is the best use of the Lord’s money, then I will accept your decision and I will put in my two hours in the field when harvest time comes.”

  362. “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them even if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.”(Millenial Star, Volume 14, No. 38, Pages 593-595.)

  363. B.Russ,
    You just violated the Unwritten Order of BCC-Things (Never make comments that consist 100% of quotes from scriptures or Church publications.).

  364. Sorry, I’m working on a follow-up comment. I should have waited until I had my whole thought fleshed out.

  365. scott shouldn’t it be allowed if the entire quote is about not directly following such quotes?

  366. Alex, while I think that your approach is a fine approach. And can admit that if I followed your approach versus my approach, my life this day would probably be (almost) identical. But I don’t think that we are supposed to follow our leaders when we *know* them to be wrong.
    I think we should follow our leaders UNLESS we know them to be wrong, and I think that is the fine line that is being lost in a number of comments. I think feelings or worries should be a good starting place to start questioning, but if it comes down to it – my leader tells me to do something, and I get a spiritual witness that it is an incorrect thing to do, I will not follow my leader. I believe that to be my duty to God, and the responsibility of holding the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    However, in practice, I’ve never been in a Mountain Meadows situation. I don’t think I’ve ever received spiritual witness to disobey a leader. But I believe it is important to leave open the door of such an event. I think you are a rational human being and probably would not partake in sinful massacre or bloodshed (I’ve read your comments and respect you), but shutting this door has led thousands of people throughout history to follow blindly into grave sin. And I think that is the nuance that needs to be a footnote in a talk like the 14 fundamentals. Without such a footnote, I think that any such talk is fundamentally wrong, and can be used as a tool for evil.

  367. And I think that it is something to consider whether you’re talking about a YM leader or the President of the Church. I think we too easily forget how idolized these men can be. How surrounded by adoring saints.
    It may not be likely, but it is possible for one to become corrupt in his idolization, and lead many to sin or apostasy. It has happened many times in the history of our church and throughout the scriptures. If we lie to ourselves and think that it can’t happen today, then we are foolish and haven’t learned one of the greatest lessons of our own history.

  368. B. Russ, I think snark is a poor way to deal with GA comments for a variety of reasons. First it is disrespectful. Second it’s open to other for misinterpretation of your motives and reasoning. Third it accomplishes nothing. (Seriously – what’s the point?) While I may be undermining my Gen-X cred I think one of the worst things to come out of the 90’s was the level of snark in our culture combined with ironic distance.

    So yes, there are worse things. I’m sure if I went to a DAMU board I could find plenty worse. But let’s try to aim high, eh?

    Alex (362) I agree completely. But we don’t always have an opportunity to offer our council. I think part of sustaining someone is letting them be wrong. Yet I also think that’s the hardest thing for many to do.

    BRuss (363), I know you know you are arguing against a strawman with that quote. More interesting is of course contextualizing it with Brigham’s own actions against those who disagreed with him on issues he felt important. (Ask Parley Pratt)

    The reality is that most of us never are in situations where we are asked to do something outright significantly immoral. (I recognize some might debate this with prop-8 which is why Pres. Packer’s comments were touchy. But I think even most people who had misgivings of the Church’s actions on prop-8 didn’t see it remotely akin to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.)

  369. Seriously – what’s the point?
    I’ve typed the words coping mechanism at least three times now. Again, I’m not defending “snark”, just those who use it.

    More interesting is of course contextualizing it with Brigham’s own actions against those who disagreed with him

    While I accept Brigham Young as a blunt instrument which the Lord used to bring his people across the plains to a new land and start up a society, I don’t usually hold him up as a moral standard against which I measure my life.

    The reality is that most of us never are in situations where we are asked to do something outright significantly immoral.

    That was an underlying point of my 367/368 which were directly tied to 363 and my reason for posting it. But nonetheless, very similar to your second reasoning for not using snark ” it’s open to other for misinterpretation of your motives and reasoning.” (which is a very valid point) I find that not making it blatantly clear when speaking about following our leaders, that they may err, and we should be sensitive to the spirit so we may recognize those situations, is a very dangerous practice. Again, I’m sure you understand better than to blindly follow your leaders to murder, but lets make it painfully clear to those who don’t.

  370. I have often thought that sustaining our leaders could include not believing or repeating the stupid things they say.

  371. I sustain President Boyd K Packer as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and as a prophet, seer, and revelator. I still think his sermon yesterday was not that great, nor scientifically accurate, nor even in line with how God works. “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” Why would Heavenly Father allow any of his children, if he loved them so much, be born in such terrible conditions as we see in places like Somalia or Ethiopia? Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? It was a highly insensitive remark, and it came across more spiteful than anything.

  372. Ron Madson says:

    Can a person be a President of the Church but not a “prophet’? BY said that JS was only prophet of this generation and from BY until David O Mckay no President was sustained as a prophet until Pres. McKay was and then the tradition stuck. OR could a prophet be sent to us who is not the President and it is “his” words we are to follow? It seems that more often than not that “prophets” historically came from the wilderness, the desert, the outcast priests and then there is Samuel the Lamanite. These precedence should make us perhaps consider being open to exactly what is means to be a prophet/ seer and revelator. Traditionally it meant someone who prophesied, “seered” and/ or revealed hidden things.
    Can I sustain the President Monson and the Q12 and duly authorized as only voice for the church but does it follow that they are Prophets/Seers and Revelators in deed?

  373. John Mansfield says:

    Ron Madson, your statement made me curious enough, that, at random, I looked up the April 1939 conference report at “Presented for the vote of the Conference the General Authorities and General Officers of the Church, also the General Auxiliary Officers, and they were unanimously sustained, as follows: [. . .] Heber J. Grant, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

  374. John Mansfield says:

    Also, at the special November 1902 conference held after the death of Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith was sustained as “Prophet, Seer and Revelator and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” At the October 1898 conference, Lorenzo Snow was sustained as “Prophet, Seer and Revelator, and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all the world.” Earlier in that conference Heber J. Grant expressed “Do I know that Lorenzo Snow is a Prophet of God? Yes, I do. Do I know that Wilford Woodruff was a Prophet of God? Yes, I do. Do I know that John Taylor and Brigham Young were Prophets of God? Yes, I do.”

  375. Ron Madson says:

    Nice find! I found a site that had all the GC going back hundred years and found randomly what you found. I recall reading what I stated above and that the first reference was in Church News in late 50’s re: Pres. Mckay. Very glad you pointed out my error. I think I read it in Quinn’s Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power but I will check after work. I did find this extract from a post a long time ago by J. Stapley regarding at least BY

    Michael Quinn has noted that it wasn’t a regularity to sustain Church leaders as prophets, seers and revelators during the life of Brigham Young, except for conferences in 1855 and 1857 (9). This may be somewhat underrepresented as Orson Pratt recorded the Saint Louis Stake conference as affirming Brigham’s status as a prophet, seer and revelator in 1854. (10)

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