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Spring 2019 General Conference Open Thread

The rumors are swirling again! What have you heard? What will actually happen? Only time will tell. Please comment with your thoughts and insights! I’ll be updating as I’m able.

Saturday Morning Session

RIGHT into the talks. No announcements…so far. 😭 Not a single one in the first session. 😤

I keep thinking the succulent-ish florals behind the speakers are a salad bar. Is this to nourish and strengthen speakers with between-session snacking?

Ulisses Soares

  • Our purpose as we teach is more to increase faith in Christ and the plan of salvation and less to convert. [I love this advice applied to missionaries as well as the rest of us.]
  • Bring the gospel of Christ to the center of our lives. The best teacher is a good role model.
  • Hope is an important part of the gospel plan.

Becky Craven

[Here’s hoping this isn’t the singular female voice in conference this time around. For the record, I have a theory about the “Primary voice.” Let’s not go there, OK?]

  • The effects of casualness can lead us away from the covenant path.
  • River of filthiness in Lehi’s dream lead near the tree, but not to it.
  • There is both a careful and a casual way to live the gospel. [Love this.] There is not a right way to do the wrong thing. Being careful means being appropriate not being formal.
  • It’s impossible to live a perfect life. We can still be worthy. [Good discussion topic.]
  • Deep and lasting happiness comes by following Christ.

Brook P. Hales

  • Missionary coat story. [I both love and hate such stories.]
  • Worthy desires are not always handled as we hope.

[I think God rarely intervenes in minutia that isn’t really essential to the main thrust of the plan of salvation. It makes no sense to me at all that God sends a coat to someone or makes sure (through all manner of manipulations) a particular lesson from a job opportunity, when he doesn’t save children from sexual slavery. I think it’s far more likely (Occam’s razor and all that) that God lets the world mostly work as it will, lets us experience life as it comes, gives us strength and insight to learn from our experiences and make the best of them…should we choose to.]

[Did he just quote the woman saying something like, “God doesn’t always grant everything we want?” God isn’t a genie, people.]

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

  • Put church growth in context of the world population. Tiny flock indeed.
  • Do we feel guilty or timid or afraid to go outside our comfort zones? The Lord needs your heart.
  • Keep missionaries in the loop.
  • Share what is in your heart and live consistent with your beliefs. Your job is not to convert. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. Invite others to come and see, come and help.
  • Have the courage to be recognized as a member of the church. You are a significant part of the gathering of Israel.
  1. Draw close to God. Love God.
  2. Fill your heart with love for others.
  3. Strive to walk the path of discipleship. Your commitment to follow Christ increases as you do #1 and #2. You will grow in confidence and courage. Keep trying to get it right.
  4. Share what is in your heart. Always look for opportunities to bring up your faith in natural and normal ways, both in person and online. Stand as a witness of the power of the gospel at all times and when necessary…use words. [Boom!] Do not hide gospel values and principles under a bushel. [Glorify God not yourself.]
  5. [Missed it…will fill in later…]

W. Christopher Waddell

  • Story about his brother, Mike, and his cancer accompanied by conversion.
  • Care for brothers and sisters in a higher and holier way. Savior’s service went beyond daily needs to lifting the spirit.
  • Minister by giving what we are capable of giving. Our offerings will be magnified by God. [Nice!]
  • It is never too late. No one is beyond the reach of the infinite atonement.

Henry B. Eyring

  • Story of organization of the church.
  • Examples of sustained felicity in families. There was no contention in the land because of the love of God.
  • Remove pride.
  • Increase faith.
  • Stop sinning.
  • Lead each child to accept the Lord’s invitation to come unto him.
  • Lead by example. Example. Example. Example.
  • Your example to grow in faith may not always be followed by family…for now.
  • Prayer can reach family members far away…around the world.
  • The family that prays together is together, even when they are far apart.
  • Turn all homes into MTCs.
  • The temple is a good place to learn the love of holy places.
  • Make your home a place of faith and love.

Saturday Afternoon Session

Who’s ready for some earth-shaking news! NO news or updates at all. NONE!

BYU choir represent! Were all the women informed to create the same hairstyle? Um…

Dallin Oaks

Sustaining vote. So many men. So few women. 🙁

Kevin J. Jergensen

Annual Report

M. Russell Ballard

  • 43 years as a GA.
  • God wants all of his children to find peace, joy, and happiness. Those things may elude us but we can find them in this life, in spite of not being able to control all things, by doing the best we can to follow Christ.
  • Life with purpose and meaning. [Jordan Peterson, anyone?]
  • Satan wants all to be miserable, in contrast to God.
  • Our quest is to bask in the light of Christ. This brings peace, joy, and happiness.
  • Excitement of changes in church are less significant than spiritual purpose of those changes [Totally my own take on that quote.]
  • Sabbath day observance should bring a smile to our faces.
  • Welcome others to our meetings.
  • We minister by loving God and loving our neighbors.
  • Don’t complicate with additional meetings and requirements. KEEP IT SIMPLE! 🥰

Mathias Held

  • Grew up in Columbia and joined the church as a newlywed.
  • For unto him that receiveth, I will give more
  • In coming days it will not be possible to spiritually survive without the Holy Ghost [has it ever been?]

Neil L. Andersen

  • What is truth?
  • There are absolute, eternal truths. [What do you classify as eternal truths? I only have a handful of things.]
  • Spiritual perspective.
  • The Family: A Proclamation to the World [I don’t like some of this, for the record. It contradicts some of what is now taught. Outdated, in my opinion.]
  • Speak in defense of the unborn! [YES!]
  • Prophets see possibilities ahead [Is this a preface to SOME changes? 😂]
  • Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t have—what service can you do?

Takashi Wada

  • Sushi [is not an experience of joy]
  • Feast upon the words of Christ should bring us real joy and build our relationship with the Savior
  1. Increase capacity for personal revelation
  2. Scriptures will help us know who we are when we struggle with identity

David P. Homer

Is he another pilot? Or was he a passenger? Can the church handle another pilot?

  • At critical moments we will hear multiple voices competing for our attention
  • It is vital that we listen to the right ones
  • The more diligently we seek the voice of God, the easier it will be to hear it (our power to do has increased—from one of my favorite quotes)

[I don’t find this to be necessarily true. Even Brigham Young said that he often didn’t know what to do, so just did his best. I suspect in reality that’s true for most of us most of the time—even though some claim God finds their keys and chooses their spouses and on and on.

I wish there were some women among those “15 men with a unique perspective” whose perspective was considered “authoritative” in the church, not just “auxiliary.” When will those voices be as valued?]

Jeffery R. Holland

Love Holland.

  • John the Baptist used the symbol of a sacrificial lamb for Christ.
  • Broken heart and a contrite spirit
  • We are commanded to go to church in addition to making time for more home-centered gospel instruction
  • Emphasize the sacrament as the focal point of our weekly worship
  • Come to service early and dressed appropriately for the sacred ordinance of the sacrament [My ox is mired almost every week…just saying…]
  • “Reduction of clamor” in church
  • Visitors may be shocked by irreverence [personally, I think joyful, boisterous praise is a billion times more spiritual than somber, plodding Victorian hymns…so there’s that…]
  •  “…in the hand of an 11- or 12-year old” boy 😞
  • You can always find someone who’s weight is too heavy to bear. Join Christ in lifting the load.

[There is a tendency, I have noticed, for people to take counsel such as Holland’s to lift the weight of those we encounter as an opportunity to chastise others for not lifting our own burdens enough. I suggest, as with most counsel, we look at our own beams before pointing fingers at the motes of those around us.]

Priesthood Session

I’ll be napping. Fill me in!

Sunday Morning Session

Directly into speakers without an announcement of any kind. Either the rumors were The Greatest Hoax or they are waiting for the big finish or will sprinkle them in the middle. Or something.

Dale G. Renlund

  • How to access blessings?
  • One purpose for prayer is to “activate” the blessings God is already offering, but God is waiting for our input. Action is often required to “activate” a blessing.
  • Sometimes we need to make a bow and arrow before the Lord tells us where to look for food.
  • When you receive any blessing, you can conclude you completed the requirements to receive it.
  • Blessings are time insensitive

Sharon Eubank

  • Satan tries to exploit our common life conditions
  • Sometimes we don’t feel accepted or acceptable
  • Christ is almost always reaching out to the unacceptable in society
  • Christ sees us in our tree (Zacchaeus reference)
  • How can you increase your faith so that your “stones” can receive light
  • What is the key to reconnect with Christ? Make Christ the center of your life.
  • Step along the covenant path, even if you can’t see very far. The lights will come back on.

Quentin L. Cook

  • Charity includes God’s love for all his children.
  • Love is the primary motive in ministering.
  • Missionary work is based on love.
  • Shout out to Samoa!! Talofa!
  • Double down on gender “roles” 🙄 while emphasis on equal value
  • Make internet a servant not a master

D. Todd Christofferson

  • Millenium promises
  • Devote ourselves to prepare for the days when Christ will reign
  • A day of redemption and judgment
  • Prepare as a people to receive him
  • Increase faith
  • Make covenants
  • Seal families

Tad R. Callister

  • Atonement (of course ☺️)
  • Justice
  • When we sin we jump from a plane, repentance is like the parachute
  • Atonement overcomes: death; sin;
  • When we acquire a gift of the spirit, we become more like God
  • We have a duty to pray for the gift that will help us overcome out weaknesses

Russell M. Nelson

  • Story of his daughter, Wendy, and her death. She was 67 years old and died of cancer three months ago.
  • Salvation is an individual matter; Exaltation is a family matter
  • Make covenants; keep covenants; obtain saving ordinances
  • Ask God how he feels about you…and listen
  • Do the work now; time is running out

Sunday Afternoon Session

We’re baaaaaaaack!

Dallin H. Oaks

  • Laws of God; laws of man
  • Always a possibility of “parole” with God’s laws
  • True repentance is not an event, it is a never ending process
  • Much to learn from Alma
  • Faith in Jesus Christ [not faith in finding my keys or faith in being cured or…]
  • We must repent of all our actions or inactions that are contrary to the will of God
  • Partake of sacrament each week
  • Prove us to see if we are accountable to God
  • Final judgment according to deeds in mortality (works and desires of our hearts)
  • Mighty change of heart?
  • After his judgments we will all declare that they are just
  • Process of final judgment
  • Atonement is the only way to achieve cleanliness through repentance
  • Now is the time to repent—repentance after death “is less certain”
  • Resurrection will restore physical deficiencies at birth or by trauma or disease, but not all our sinful desires
  • The Lord will have mercy and abundantly pardon even the wicked

Juan Pablo Villar

  • Spiritual gifts behave as muscles; must have exercise
  • Visited brothers mission before he joined the church [nice]
  • Opportunities to develop gives rather than just granting those gifts
  • Walk, seek, love as the Savior loves
  • Identify muscles that need more spiritual activity
  • Do things that require the gift we need

Garrit W. Gong

  • [Does anyone actually fall asleep from counting sheep? Anyone? Anyone?]
  • Christ is the good shepherd
  • Calls us in his voice and his name
  • Gathers us into his fold (reaches out to the 1 and the 99 simultaneously)
  • Exemplifies a shepherd with his love for his flock
  • Christ is the perfect good shepherd and perfect Lamb of God
  • Whatever our circumstances, he shall gather the lambs with his arm…

David A. Bednar

  • Reference to taking vitamins per Nelson [taunting? yes!]
  • Learn for ourselves [yes!]
  • We cannot merely attend meetings and programs and gain the testimony and learning we must have
  • We all need help but we are responsible for our own salvation
  • “…for himself or herself…” [thank you]
  • Home-centered to learn to rely on ourselves
  • Ultimate MTC is in our home; secondary MTCs are in Provo…
  • Primary Sunday School is at home; secondary at church
  • Family history, temple prep, etc. are primarily at home, secondarily at church
  • Always speak about the temple with reverence; don’t reveal things we explicitly promise not to reveal [I think many have not really paid attention to what these things actually are. They are few. Most of what takes place has been published by the church (for example: The House of the Lord by Talmage).]
  • Bednar lists the covenants made in the ceremony [Thank you. Why this isn’t central to the temple prep class is a mystery. (At least last time I taught it…)]
  • Temple is the house of the Lord.

Kyle S. McKay

  • Timing is different for God [like “time is running out, per the last session? 😂]
  • Story of snowmobile accident 😭 [I struggle with stories like this. I am typing this before he has even told the story. I just know where it’s going. Faith-promoting stories like this don’t make sense to me given those who do not receive this comfort or relief. I don’t think it’s a purely faith-based event, if it is really from God. And, yes, the story was what I anticipated.]
  • “He will deliver you from everything…” [Eventually…sure…]

Ronald A. Rasband

  • Come unto Christ, stay on the covenant path
  • Satan promotes short-term “solutions”
  • How do we fortify ourselves in troubled times: obedience [Nephi asked lots of questions, actually]; stand for truth; make and renew covenants; have integrity in all that we do; develop discernment; be sober and vigilant
  • Your testimony is your personal fortress

Russel M. Nelson

Just a guess (hope?) that he’s going to speak at the end? Um…

Song; talk; song? What? Not much time left in the session. Was that first song a throw in?

  • God’s objectives should be our objectives
  • Pioneer temples: refreshed or restored (St. George; Salt Lake; Manti; Logan), then rededicated
  • New temples:
    1. Pago Pago, American Samoa
    2. Okinawa City, Okinawa
    3. Neiafu, Tonga
    4. Tooele Valley, Utah
    5. Moses Lake, Washington
    6. San Pedro Sula, Honduras
    7. Antofagasta, Chile
    8. Budapest, Hungary

Personal Takeaways

  • Love
  • Personal responsibility for spiritual growth
  • I am a bit let down. I know we’re supposed to claim rejoicing at all the incredible edification, but this conference was pretty ordinary to me without any atypical insights.

Aside: Last night Sam and I took two of our daughters and their husbands to Unplanned. As an unplanned pregnancy myself, the issue is very personal to me. I recommend this movie to those who are pro-life. To those who are pro-choice, I challenge you to go with an open mind.

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Abortion 💔

Undoubtedly someone who reads this has had an abortion. I love you and would be honored to help you. If you are in a crisis pregnancy, I would be honored to help you (and have worked with crisis pregnancy groups in the past). But as our country is dealing with an issue that is so impactful, the discussion must be straight forward.

With the latest political developments, I’m so absolutely appalled at the horrific turn our country has taken that I’m breathless. I’m shocked. I’m angry.

A child is a human life. It is of infinite worth.

If a woman’s life is actually in danger, there’s an actual equal value proposition, and I understand that as a heartbreaking situation with different parameters than most we encounter. I also understand that women bear the far greater burden of pregnancy—and that is a complex part of the legality—but I don’t believe it’s a morally complex issue.

This subject came up today in a group I’m in and my thoughts were too long and unwieldy to post there. So—in a completely non-academic stream—here are the points that have formed over decades of thinking about this issue, watching our culture devolve, and being amongst those who long predicted the obvious end game of all of this.

  1. It’s not your body anyone is talking about.
  2. That life begins at conception is an issue of science, not religion. Per Maureen Condic, Ph.D.:

    The conclusion that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence (thousands of independent, peer-reviewed publications).

  3. There is no doctrine on when the spirit enters the body. I dare say that, “We don’t know, so it’s OK to kill it.” is a morally vacant position.
  4. I am the product of an unwanted pregnancy. I would not prefer to be dead. Even though life is hard and even though my birth mother didn’t want me.
  5. The pretty, purified euphemisms used around abortion are dishonest, at very least. This isn’t about “choice” or “women’s rights” or “reproductive health.” It’s about the “choice to end the life of a baby” or a “woman’s legal right to end the life of her baby” or “reproductive death.”
  6. Do you oppose sex trafficking? Do you think it should be illegal? I’m going to say there’s an unqualified yes to that. So…do you demand that all those who said yes (you!):
    1. Personally participate in child-rescue sting operations?
    2. Personally adopt all the rescued children?
    3. Personally pay for the stings and rescued children?
    4. Personally ensure that everyone who might one day buy a sex slave get adequate education and training about how to not buy a sex slave?

    I loathe when pro-aborts claim that in order to have a rational/ethical position on an issue one must take personal responsibility for all the actions of others.

    It’s utterly irrational and impossible. Of course, that’s the point. Purposefully demand something that cannot be accomplished as some kind of “proof” that the person with the position doesn’t “care enough” to be granted the right to have a position in order to avoid the actual discussion. It’s fallacious ad hominem that proves nothing.

    Most of you likely even opposed to drunk driving. But somehow you are not parked in front of every bar every night to drive home all the people who throw back too many.

    The logic is so incredibly flawed.

  7. If you support the legality of abortion (however you want to parse that), you should at very least be well informed on the actual medical process, just as you would be with any other procedure you were supporting. The baby is burned, dismembered, has their skull impaled, etc. It’s a horrific process for both the mother and the baby. But the baby dies.
  8. Claiming that you support abortion legally but not morally is untenable. We aren’t talking about drinking coffee or screwing around with whomever you choose. We are talking about life and death. It is the single most significant issue we deal with as a society.

    Do any of you claim that you “support wife-beating legally but not morally”? Or even that you “support men leaving their wives and children and refusing to support them legally but not morally”? None of you do. Yet when it comes to an actual human being brutally killed, you are suddenly passive about what immoral things should be legal. Because you’d never want to impose our morality on someone else. So, you’ll have to just tolerate the slaughter of babies and look the other way.

  9. Aborting a child because they might have pain or might have a hard life or might feel bad because they were “unloved” would be laughable if it were not lethal.

    Someone might have a tough life (who doesn’t?) so they will be better off dead, you know, so they don’t risk dealing with crap?

    Guys, that is what this is saying. This is the pretense of compassion for possible suffering that is addressed by killing the other person so they don’t have to risk suffering.

    All of you are going to suffer sometime during the rest of your lives. 100% certainty. Should someone else be allowed to decide to end your life if they don’t want to deal with that risk? (Because as of today, all of you are willing to deal with that risk…or you wouldn’t be reading this.)

  10. Aborting a child because they won’t survive long after birth isn’t compassion. None of us will survive indefinitely. Should someone else have the right to put us to death so it won’t be such a bother to them or so they won’t have to deal with our natural death?Which sounds worse to you personally?
    1. Live birth; palliative care; tenderness from people who love you; die naturally
    2. Dismemberment or scissors crammed in the base of your skull followed by brains being sucked into a bucket

    Which would you chose for yourself? Why would you choose differently for an innocent baby?

  11. Whether or not a pregnant woman has difficulty making the decision to abort a child doesn’t change the outcome to the child.
  12. If you believe God will not allow anyone to be robbed of life due to the actions of others in abortion, you cannot believe in murder—unless God sanctions it.

    In other words, there is no such thing as murder because everyone whose life is ended at the hand of another will be reincarnated (or something?) and still get to live that full life. So it doesn’t really impact the victim.But we do believe in agency. Even in agency that impacts others in the worst possible ways.

  13. Whether or not there is adequate (whatever that means) sex ed doesn’t change the moral value of a life.
  14. Whether or not there is “access” to birth control doesn’t change the moral value of a life. And, for the love of all that is holy, people, condoms cost 50¢ a pop—and work remarkably well when used correctly—how much “access” do you need?
  15. If someone hurts me, it does not justify me in hurting someone innocent.

May God have mercy on us.

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I’m Crying Over Temple Changes — In a Good Way

I’m just going to put this right here:

LDS Church changes temple ceremony; faithful feminists will see revisions and additions as a ‘leap forward’

While I only label myself a feminist with a lot of caveats (and typical feminists don’t accept me in the fold), fairness (real fairness, not some kind of reverse dominance or reparations) has been part of my psyche since I was four years old.

Since I was endowed in 1985, the temple experience has improved incrementally. But there was still enough inequity, subordination, and intermediary stuff that it has always been difficult and somewhat painful. I have tried to overlook those things that bothered me by simply noting historical sexism, recognizing that human perceptions and biases exist among humans whether they are leaders or not, and recognizing that systemic sexism in a large institution would likely change very slowly (like most all changes). But I have still always left with the inferiority of women being affirmed.

I have not seen the new ceremony—I intend to go this week, literally as soon as possible—but what I’ve heard has my heart utterly rejoicing. I was not sure I would see these changes—which I have long felt were needed are correct—in my lifetime.

It takes a certain…hmmmm…chutzpah for a leader to make massive changes in an established organization rather than just continue with the status quo. Those changes will be disruptive and are likely to create pushback (thus the need for chutzpah). I haven’t liked all of President Nelson’s changes thus far. But, boy, this one thing will cover a world of hurt for me.

Go ahead and abolish ‘Mormon’ from the lexicon, with all the costs and SEO involved (and, no, I’m still not changing my site name)! If you are able to see needs of this sort through it all, I can deal with just about anything.

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October 2018 General Conference

Here is your open thread to talk about all things Saturday, October 6th, General Conference. Of course, perhaps the only thing is the two-hour block.

Rumored for well over 20 years, this has finally, finally happened. I’m kind of overjoyed. Your thoughts?

What did you think of the General Women’s Session? Rebranding (yes, it is)? All the controversy? Social media fast (nope)?

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Two issues many members of the church—myself included—are struggling with are gender and sexuality. Both are highly charged. Here I am sharing some ideas that I’ve had to help me reconcile church positions with my own logic. I’m attempting to do so with respect and ask that any response be returned in the same way.

Systemic Disparity

Since I was four years old I have been confused, sad, disappointed, discouraged, angry, baffled by the gender disparity in the church. Just as I did not ever believe that God created a racial hierarchy in his kingdom, I have never believed in a gender one.  [click to continue…]

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Large institutions move slowly. Sometimes painfully slowly. When your own impressions of the need for change occurred decades before you saw an evidence of movement—and you’re afraid you will literally be dead before what you dream for comes to fruition—it can be excruciatingly painful.

gender-changes-lds-general-conference

To be clear, I believe our Heavenly Parents both love all of us infinitely. I do not believe they favor men over women, nor do I think they want men to be the sole decision-makers and women to be subordinate followers. I believe they are the quintessential equal partnership and hope for the same for all of us.

But, back to earthly reality, there were two small changes this spring and I think even small positive change is worth noting and celebrating. [click to continue…]

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Spring 2018 General Conference Thoughts

Happy Easter! Due to the long lack of substantive activity here, I realize few will see this. If, however, you have thoughts you’d like to add in the comments, you are more than welcome to. [click to continue…]

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My Favorite Mathematics Curriculum

Over the years (often as a result of my overt distaste for Saxon math) I have been asked again and again to share the homeschooling materials/methods we use to teach math. Multiple times just this week I’ve been asked for a list of my favorite math curriculum. So here they are. [click to continue…]

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Cannot Keep Track

Mom: How did your date go?

Monica (19): Fine, but I almost called Tanner “Tristan”!

Mom: Tanner? Your date was with Trevor?

Monica😲

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Righteous Sassing

Monica (18): I’m really good at sassing people in my head. I wish I could to it in real life and still be a good person.

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