Saturday, April 02, 2005

The (Almost) Instant Spinozist Take from Conference

I was determined to take a Breather from the Blogosphere, and I expected a Bloggernacle Blackout. Brethren at Big Ed's---our Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums' traditional gathering before Priesthood Session at a local pizzeria & bar (complete with smoke and neon beer signs), where our ward's seminary teacher is a waitress and can get us a discount (and maybe free beer, of the Root variety)---was going to be my only extrafamilial distraction this weekend. But my wife went on a Church visit with our two oldest daughters between sessions, instructing me to stay home with the youngest. So here I am, fallen off the wagon, and noticing that all the major hubs have open threads on Conference. So I may as well chip in one- or two-sentence first impressions, to be updated after each session.

Saturday Morning

President Hinckley: Happy Birthday to Us! (I knew I learned that impulse from somewhere. But he carries it off with considerably greater aplomb and gravitas than I can muster.)

Elder Packer: Joseph Smith needs no defense beyond the Book of Mormon; nevertheless, wo unto those who defame him. Dreams, visions, visitations, the Lord revealing himself, and ministrations by angels occur. This is a highlight, something of great interest to those with Spinozist predilections. They are gratified, but not yet mollified; they want to hear more, and more detail.

Bishop Eldredge: Listen to the still, small voice, and your heart throbbing the truth within you.

Sister Menlove: Teach your children well; it is more important to them than whatever a natural disaster might do.

Elder Nelson: Obviously, very moving. Our condolences. This day is the time! Carpe diem!

President Monson: Carpe diem redux---appreciate the fleeting time with your children. And, another sobering story; for heaven's sake, be kind.

Saturday Afternoon

Business: As predicted, all was handled well financially, "in all material respects". No such qualifiers were offered as options in the sustainings. One of my former mission presidents, Gustavo Barrios, was released as an Area Authority Seventy. The Church passed 12 million members this year (to be precise, 12,275,822).

Elder Wirthlin: Kindness extolled---amen, amen, and amen. A virtue I value and aspire to, for all my failures to exhibit it. Elder Talmage: not just another bright guy.

Elder Scott: The new resource Preach My Gospel---now, for the first time, a missionary resource available to members as well as missionaries---will allow missionaries to teach in the own words, as guided by the Spirit. (I thought that's what we were doing back in the day... Whatever.) Get yours today! (Sorry I couldn't give a more precise link---the server wasn't responding, apparently deluged with orders after Elder Scott sent us to the distribution center.)

Elder Hillam: What greater legacy can anyone leave their posterity than their honest take on The Truth?

Elder Robbins: Sacrifice---an equal opportunity principle.

Elder Uchtdorf: Because of manifestations to prophets like Moses, Paul, and Joseph Smith, he is blessed with a testimony of the Savior through the Holy Ghost.

Elder Hales: Seniors, do something useful for a change.

Just one session after President Monson warns against saying (this is a verbatim quote from scripture) "All is well," the choir closes singing---"All is well!"

Off to Big Ed's!...

...which was all-you-can eat buffet pizza; the counsel of the speaker earlier in the day (can't remember who it was) who warned about controlling bodily appetites was flagrantly violated by all.

Priesthood Session

Elder Holland: What is the single distinguishing feature of this Church, he asks? A gender divide of Grand Canyon proportions, characterized by a Relief Society that condemns the Simpsons as an example of the world going to hell, at the precise moment Homer is quoted as a source of wisdom down the hall in Elders' Quorum? No, it's not all about gender. Or, maybe it is... The distinguishing feature is the authority; through it he has seen evil rebuked, the elements rebuked, and mountains of difficulty moved.

Elder Andersen: Beware of the evil behind the Spinozist smiling eyes.

Elder R. Oaks: Where are those AWOL in the battle against Satan? We've had specific warnings of the Second Coming, and those were even before the latest hurricane in the Caribbean, and the tsunami.

President Faust: A woman---and a physicist, to boot---is held up as an example of perseverance to the priesthood: Marie Curie. How long will you have to persevere as a home teacher? Until you're 101 years old, or until you die, whichever comes first.

President Monson: Correction, President Faust, not whichever comes first, not even whichever comes last: There will be home teaching in the next life, and he's confident the numbers there will improve. Get started, by doing your duty here and now.

President Hinckley: He reluctantly speaks to a practice which appears innocent, but can lead to an addiction... Wives and children robbed of what is rightfully theirs... People cannot leave it alone... Causing a revolution on campuses... a proliferation of websites... Blogging?! No, dodged that bullet---this time. It's gambling, including $5 stakes poker, the latest rage among the youth.

The men's choir from BYU was fantastic---diction, vowels, intonation---they were as one. Fire from heaven. I do wish they had done something a little more rousing; this group could've shook the rafters. Sisters, no disrespect intended, but sometimes it seems like the sweet blending harmonies of men's voices could only diluted by female additives. This choir alone is worth the price of the conference CDs (or DVDs, sisters, if you want to not just hear, but see all the handsome BYU men!)

4 Comments:

Christian,

Very funny post. The more I hear from you, the more I think I know where you're coming from.

I could just imagine, sitting on the couch with Jenni and she goes into cardiac arrest: Elder Nelson, a cardiothoracic surgeon, witnessing his lovely Danzel; me, just a small town ER doc; and after having prolonged and perhaps saved numerous lives, not being able to do anything about exit of this life of his sweetheart. A tear-jerker.

 
Comment by Mike Wilson | 4/02/2005 07:12:00 PM  

Good summary, and funny. 
Comment by Arturo Toscanini | 4/02/2005 07:18:00 PM  

Christian,

In the same spirit, I think that we should judge David's life from the fact that he slew Goliath, an obvious miracle. Anything he did from that point on need not be examined critically.

Truely the Book of Mormon is proof of Jospeh's prophetic calling. It doesn't mean that the rest of his life is unimportant.

The comment on President Hinckley telling the saints in France to practice any doctrines they had questions about in order to gain a testimony of it instantly made me think of polygamy. I am glad that I am not asked to practice it, and feel that since such is the case, I don't have to understand it or have a testimony of it.

I need to cultivate a more positive attitude. 
Comment by a random John | 4/02/2005 10:10:00 PM  

Thanks for the good thoughts, guys.

For my own sake, I harbor some concern this morning about the line between light-heartedness (which the Brethren clearly display---last night, not just in the retort to Pres. Faust by Pres. Monson, but in Pres. Hinckley's witty self-deprecation which I didn't report), and light-mindedness (which the scriptures condemn). One too many root beers may have brought on a sugar-induced giddiness, which leaves a bit of a headache in the sunshine of a Sabbath morning.

I want to make clear that particularly in Priesthood Meeting, being present in the chapel and not just listening over the Internet, I truly felt the weight and solemnity of the occasion, and feel some regret if I came across too light-hearted in portraying it. I thought Elder Holland's talk was particularly important to weigh carefully. He's as gifted a speaker as he is a writer, but the content had the most impact: The question of realities beyond, and the claims to an authority that penetrates from this world to that reality beyond, are matters even greater than life and death.

I was serious about the impact of the music.

FWIW, Pres. Hinckley's self-deprecation was along the following lines, speaking to the matter of nepotism (his word) in the calling of his son: 'I can assure you he is worthy and qualified. He comes from a wonderful mother. I wish I could similarly recommend his father. Don't my son's relationship to me against him; he can't help it.'
 
Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 4/03/2005 08:30:00 AM  

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