Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Spinozist Take from General Conference, October 2005, Day One

Below are one- or two-sentence first impressions of talks from the first day of General Conference.

Saturday Morning Session

President Hinckley: Like the now-defunct British empire, the sun never sets on the empire of Christ the Lord, the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Temple work moves forward, with new temples and a new computer system to avoid duplication of ordinances.

Elder Perry: Accept President Hinckley’s challenge to read that tangible witness—the Book of Mormon, written for our day—by the end of the year.

Elder McMullin: Contemplating calamities in our age of natural disasters, wars, and licentiousness of epic proportions, we are to ask: What part of my life needs to change so chastening won’t be necessary? Tragedies never triumph where personal righteousness prevails.

Sister Tanner: Our physical bodies are part of the divine plan. Sweet rolls can ruin spirituality.

Elder Wirthlin: Like those who were kept safe from the tsunami by following the timely advice of an old fisherman in a coastal village when the ocean receded, those who follow the prophets avoid sorrow and difficulty. Abandon sin and journey to higher ground.

President Faust: Those with our “blockbuster beliefs” have a recognizable light in their eyes, while those partaking of today’s growing secularism have a different look about them. He had a testimony as a young boy; it always seemed to be part of his consciousness, and not the result of any specific event.

Saturday Afternoon Session

Elder Oaks: Employing two not-always-popular words, he notes that priesthood authority is patriarchal in the home and hierarchical in the Church. Our theology and practice are ultimately family oriented: our origins, mortal tasks, and eternal salvation are all defined in family terms.

Elder Holland: On the occasion of a first grandchild becoming a teenager, counsel for young women. You are treasured, but flip-flops in Church (which is not a beach), plastic surgery, and great and spacious makeup kits seem frowned upon.

Elder ???: Happiness comes by obedience to the will of God.

Elder ???: There has been great growth and progress of the Church in Mexico among the children of Lehi, a sign that the work of the Father has commenced in restoring the house of Israel.

Elder ???: Seek to find the lost one. Invite someone (literally) today to hear the prophet (literally) tomorrow.

Elder Eyring: The great test of life is to choose to obey God in the midst of the challenges of life. This requires early and steady obedience and faith in Jesus Christ.

Elder Ballard: On the tenth anniversary of the Proclamation on the Family, a mission statement for mortality: Build an eternal family. Alluding to Harold B. Lee, the Church is a scaffolding for the building of families.

Priesthood Session

Elder Bednar: Are you of the seed of Abraham? You’re no mere civilian. You’re a missionary.

Elder Didier: Hear and heed the word of the Lord. Wrong religious beliefs lead to wrong religious behavior.

Elder Johnson: General Conference provides the spiritual guidance we need.

President Faust: Be in harmony with the Brethren; obtaining spiritual guidance depends on it. Be in harmony with local leaders too. In particular, don’t put your Bishop in a dunking machine.

President Monson: Deacons pass the sacrament and collect fast offerings. Teachers home teach. [I was so bummed in the ward of my youth, when, shortly after becoming a Teacher, Teachers began being called upon to collect fast offerings too.] Priests continue home teaching, and bless the sacrament. Miracles are everywhere to be found when the priesthood is magnified, when selfless service replaces selfish striving.

President Hinckley: Great numbers of brethren have traveled long distances to provide help in the gulf states that have suffered. [Of this I can testify.] This old world is no stranger to calamity, from the great flood when waters covered the earth and eight souls were saved, to [insert sampling of disasters over the centuries here], and more are expected in the future. D&C 88:89-91. The best storehouse is the family storeroom. Without righteousness we cannot expect the help of the Lord, as the Jaredites and Nephites learned the hard way. If ye are prepared ye shall not fear (fine print: whether in life or in death, however, since the rain falls on the just and the unjust).

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