73 comments for “Sunday Afternoon Session: Open General Conference Thread

  1. Has there been a decrease in the numbers of people choosing to serve missions? This is the second talk that makes it seem like that.

  2. There are reasons for young women to serve missions other than the results it might have on their mothering . . .

  3. I’ve heard that the number of 19-24 year old Mormon males who serve has never been more than a third (depending how you count the inactives).

  4. I’ve always liked Elder Scott’s story about his daughter being counseled to serve a mission over courtship.

    We’re counseled not to go on a mission “just to get a girl.” Would Elder Scott have passed our recently raised bar?

  5. As someone who did not have a great missionary experience, I am always left a bit cold by these sorts of talks.

  6. This is off the subject, but have any of you had experience with girls who go on missions and realize, or remember that they’ve been abused/molested as children? I’ve wondered if they have the spirit more and God is blessing them to deal with it. Because I’ve heard a lot.

  7. “There are reasons for young women to serve missions other than the results it might have on their mothering . . ”

    Yes, but if you think that mothering is the most important work that they will do, then the effects of missions on mothering are the most important and relevant things to mention.

  8. “Zion in the midst of Babylon” I guess this overides “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence […] go ye out from the midst of her”

  9. “if you think that mothering is the most important work that they will do, then the effects of missions on mothering are the most important and relevant things to mention. ”


  10. Is anyone listening to this talk about the zietgeist of Babylon?

    It’s really interesting.

  11. I agree, Seth. It is an intriguing, daring, and vivid talk, his use of ‘cool’ in finger quotes notwithstanding.

  12. Elder Wood? Quote, cool, unquote! Wow, a conference talk I gotta download!

  13. I really like what’s being said about the importance of thoughtful responses over emotional responses and the effort to take and give offense. It’s an important message.

  14. Naiah Earhart’s gotta be the coolest woman’s name I’ve ever heard! Her parent’s must be blessed with psycho-social genius. Or just good taste.

  15. He said to think before you speak.

    Now he’s talking about demonizing those of other views. Avoid Chariacturing the positions of others …

    Yup. He’s blasting blogging. =)

  16. Seth:

    My first thought: He’s been reading the ‘nacle!

    This whole talk seems to be a shout out and call to repentance to us all (especially me).

  17. This is a really great, tempered message to counter the cynical criticism that GC talks sometimes rebuke less subtly. Among other things.

  18. “The Lord has constituted us as a people for a special purpose.”

    I guess he’s saying that we need to be looking beyond the partisan debate framework and concerning ourselves primarily with forwarding God’s work. Perhaps the partisan debate in the USA is too narrow to encompass the truly important things.

    Well, there’s your talk on partisan politics.

  19. Well, nick Niaiah, if not their perspicacity than a favorable and beautiful alignment of chance, Long live evolutionary theory!: intelligent design versus chance occurances

  20. Well, it’s nice to know that the “God of the Lost Car Keys” has graduated to become the “God of Lost Arrows.” It must be great comfort to know that Heavenly Father will answer a boy’s prayer to find a lost toy, while ignoring the pleas of the millions who will go hungry tonight, the millions more who suffer from debilitating illnesses of all sorts, the cries of the mothers widowed by the masters of war, the anguished prayers of those who are suffering from famine, drought, poverty, and political oppression. But hey, maybe God can’t help the wheelchair-bound, the blind, the deaf, and the disease-ridden–He’s too busy helping find their car keys and missing arrows.

  21. I’m running behind the live broadcast because we dropped the feed for a while. We’re just now into Elder Wood’s talk. I gotta say that betwen his and Elder Stone’s, I have to say this session of conference is really hitting me in the ‘head’ as opposed to the ‘heart.’ There are times and talks when you feel it in your spirit and you lift, but these two are more about how we think (and write)…

    I don’t know; I’m going in cirlces. Basically, I think it’s “cool” for all that it’s not so much a sweet spirit kind of feel. I like it, too, mind you. Somehow it preaches more to my intellect.

  22. I love this story about Snowman the jumping horse. Have any of you heard this story before?

  23. “I’ve met many individuals … wise and otherwise.”

    I’ll have to remember that one. But anyway … this admonition to live the “abundant life” is really hitting home to me. I think my life has gotten a bit acrid and stale as of late. Maybe it’s time to start scoping out some local mountains to climb …

  24. I wonder about the number of missionaries. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a sort of camouflage effect. If the number of young men told not to go (for health or other reasons) rises, then one may feel less pressure to go, despite not having one of the standard reasons. But that might be good. I’m afraid in the last couple of decades the pressure to meet social expectations may have played a larger role than it should. If young men are really better prepared, one would expect them to have more of the kind of motivation one hopes would lead them to serve missions. I doubt this camouflage effect would be a surprise to those who decided to raise the bar. But if the number of missionaries has dipped, then that is evidence that we have not properly taken up the challenge of preparing them better.

  25. Re: #2, #35, etc…here are the # of missionaries for the past few years. you can see that it dipped substantially in the past couple of years (following the raise-the-bar admonition) but rebounded this past year by about 1k (perhaps in response to the “one more” admonition?)

    2005: 52,060
    2004: 51,067
    2003: 56,237
    2002: 61,638 (all-time high)

  26. Seth R asked: I love this story about Snowman the jumping horse. Have any of you heard this story before?

    As the picture of the horse came up on the television screen, my wife said, in a rather surprised tone: “I’ve ridden that horse!”

    She grew up outside of NYC, and she not only heard the story before, but did, indeed, ride Snowman.

  27. Elder David R. Stone’s talk was very, very good. But my wife ruined it for me.

    About a minute into the talk, she said, “You know who his accent reminds me of? Doctor Evil!”

    I just rolled my eyes.

    And then Elder Stone used the gigantic air quotes when he said “cool.” And I completely lost it.

    You see, I’ve turned the moon into what I like to call a “Death Star”.

  28. Ben, I’m a walking, breathing testament to the importance of “raising the bar.”

  29. The Snowman horse story brought tears to my eyes. And, we were trying to figure out his accent too- Yes! You got it- it’s Doctor Evil!

  30. #38 dkl … is there a story i’ve missed that you feel like sharing?

  31. Elder Stone does have a unique accent. He mentioned he’d lived in 10 countries; besides being born in Argentina, I think he spent many years in Peru and England. His international living has not just been short stints for the church in his later years, so perhaps his accent is laced with mementos of his interesting life.

    I also enjoyed his talk and plan on reading it again, looking at what things my family does out of habit that aren’t really consistent with the gospel.

  32. I’m listening right now (for the second time) the closing song for the morning session…(‘My Redeemer Lives”) WOW! Did y’all realize it was the song with words written by Pres. Hinckley? I wasn’t prepared for the emotion that came today with the realization that he may not be with us for much longer. *Sigh*

  33. I enjoyed Elder Stucki’s talk but that St. George accent threw me for a loop! My HT companion is from Hurricane so I should be used to it, but I admit I was startled to hear about the Prophet, GARDEN B. Hinckley, the blessings of the LARD, and especially the power of PRAR!

  34. This is the first time my teenagers haven’t commented on the speakers’ pronounciation of TRAY-sure and MAY-sure. I guess they are adapting to the reality of a world-wide church–one that even includes Utah.

  35. Elder Scott’s talk will undoubtedly prompt many priesthood holders, and sisters too, in my BYU Ward about my need to serve a mission. I just hope I don’t end up hurting their feelings.

  36. #22
    Really, though, didn’t anyone else think about how Elder Wood’s counsel can apply in a place such as the bloggernacle? I’m still not 100% sure what was in his mind (e.g., specific concerns and situations) with this talk. I got the feeling he was speaking more to us as members as a whole (like how we as members should interact with those outside of the Church) but it sure made me think about how much contention there can be within the Church. I’ve been thinking about 3 Ne. 11:29 and surrounding verses about contending over doctrine. I guess I’ve been mulling over how potentially harmful some of this blogging-type world can be. Anyone else muse over this at all…all jokes aside?

  37. Seth R., Mr. or Ms. Mulling and Musing,

    I had the same thought–‘that’s pretty much the whole bloggernacle weighed and found wanting.”

  38. I, too, enjoyed Elder Stone’s talk. I really liked:

    “What a luminous and incandesent phrase!”

    “wrapped in a cocoon of self-satisfied self-deception.”

  39. 2005: 52,060
    2004: 51,067
    2003: 56,237
    2002: 61,638 (all-time high)

    I’d love to know what the amount of Sister missionaries has been for those years. When I was on my mission 10 years ago, we’d have 8-10 sisters serving at a time. Now it seems like there are years we have more sisters leaving than guys.

  40. So how do we put it in practice?

    One comment at a time.

    Really, the bloggernacle is tame compared to political blogs and talk radio these days. And even in the bloggernacle, I can count the major offenders on my fingers.

  41. The brethren are very, very worried about online communications, including blogs and the bloggernacle. The web dispenses information way too fast, and rumors/gossip/innuendo and just plain falsehoods multiply like fruit flies. And remember, when you think you’re posting to a limited group of readers here at T&S, you are posting to the world.

  42. 55: The Internet sword cuts both ways, D. Fletcher. I would contend that at least some of the Brethren may be worried about the speed with which the web dispenses information not because it fosters the growth of rumors/gossip/innuendo but because it fosters the spread of accurate information, even of the non-faith-promoting variety. Just a thought.

  43. Equality, yes, I didn’t want to mention it, but it’s true — the net means easy access to plenty of information not favorable to the Church and its official history.

  44. I loved the talk about not demonizing others on the other side of the partisan line. I appreciated his story of the philosophy paper: if one thoughtfully disagrees, then one must be able to present their views in a such a way that they would agree with the summary. I do not think that the talk was focused on the bloggernacle specifically.

    I also loved the talk about having a gospel-sharing home. It takes away pressure to “perform”, but I think having a gospel-sharing home would bless everyone, especially those who inhabit it.

  45. Let’s not be too quick to ridicule elder Stucki’s Santa Clara, accent. From personal experience, it’s not as noticeable as it was 25 years ago when I had a professional encounter with him. He impressed me then and still does.

    And his point about God answering the very simple request of a 9 year old boy illustrates that on occasion God responds to the prayer of faith whether unimportant to others or sometimes when issues of great magnitude are involved. To me, that was the substance of Elder Stucki’s illustration concerning prayer.

  46. Equality, yes, I didn’t want to mention it, but it’s true — the net means easy access to plenty of information not favorable to the Church and its official history.
    I wonder if missionaries have started to see an “internet effect”, returning to investigators for a second or third discussion to discover they’ve started Googling and come across descriptions of temple ceremonies, pictures of garments, and discussions about JS having 33 wives. Information that was previously found in libraries and obscure pamphlets can now be found with a quick internet search.

  47. #55, #56 — Do we KNOW the leaders are actually worried about blogging, etc. and about other elements of the internet related to “accurate” other information? (I put that in quotes because often information that isn’t faith-promoting usually isn’t necessarily accurate, or at least not completely so. It could only be accurate it if includes the faith-promoting side, too. However, on the flip side, such information is usually presented with some sort of underlying undermining motive.) …All the more reason for us to remember the roots first, before exploring branches. Investigators are taught to seek the Spirit, so maybe we shouldn’t worry quite so much. The only way to really survive these days spiritually is to have the Spirit anyway. In a sense, I see the internet (this aspect of it) as another sifter in these last days. Either we have a foundation of faith and testimony through the Spirit or we don’t. We are told even some of the very elect will be deceived…no wonder we are constantly reminded to read scriptures, pray, etc. regularly.

  48. JJohnsen #61, I think the internet effect you describe may have been among the reasons that they overhauled the missionary teaching program with Preach My Gospel. I have no experience with the old program (and little to no experience with the new one), but it seems that the new program teaches missionaries *how* to teach by the spirit and principles to focus on. I can imagine that if a nervous missionary just has a memorized lesson under his belt then he would be poorly equipped to deal with an investigative investigator.

  49. did it bother anyone when Elder Scott said that the primary role of girls in the Church was to become wives and mothers? I am not a girl but that kind of irks me…

    Also when he talks about preparing future missionaries. Just the way he said it…that you have to sort of brainwash young children to become missionaries to go out and sell the Church. That you instill in them a love of missionary work? Just the way he said it sounds like brainwashing to me. The fact that life would not be complete without missionary service seems like an arbitrary rule…one borne out of obligation rather than love towards your fellow man.

    I never served a mission. I served in the Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005. I have never been raised by my parents and told that I should serve a stint in the military. It kind of seems unthinkable in our day and age to say that to a young boy or girl.

  50. Josh,
    Why does it irk you when the prophets talk about the primar role of women (which is talked about often)?
    Re: missionary work, my point of view is that a love of missionary work comes from a love of God and a love of the gospel. I served a mission, and it was because I wanted so desperately to tell my brothers and sisters about what is most important to me, and what brings my life joy and peace. I was not brainwashed in the slightest. It was something I chose. I think what Elder Scott was saying is that a mission enriches one’s life in significant ways. I would imagine that your experience in the Marines enriched yours and helped you serve and also grow yourself. To share the excitement of what those kinds of experiences have done for one’s life is not brainwashing, is it?

  51. I don’t know, Josh. I’m not a woman either, but as a man, it doesn’t irk me when they say that my primary role is to be a husband and father. In conference, it was made pretty clear that those responsibilities come before all others.

  52. Elder Stone actually has one of the more interesting life stories of the current authorities.

    He wasn’t just born in Argentina, but lived there until his late teens. His father was British, one of thousands that emigrated there, and his mother is Argentine. After they divorced, she joined the church and moved the family to Utah. He didn’t join the church until he was 18 and going to BYU.

  53. #65, #66 — One of the thoughts I had about this whole topic is…if Heavenly Father’s main focus is family (as I’m sure Heavenly Mother’s is as well), why would we want to have any other primary focus? We are here to become like Them…that’s why families come first! When thought of in that way, is there anything else that I would rather do than put family first? Everything else starts to feel a bit less important, and some things, even hollow.

  54. Josh, what about the parents who “in this day and age” raise their children with the idea that they should go to college? Is that unthinkable? Far from it!

    Serving a mission was at least as important to my personal growth as attending college and probably more. Serving a mission is not like serving a prison sentence, except for those who refuse to grasp the opportunities it presents (rather like those who go to school as they might go to prison). Of course, some parents may do a quite inadequate job of conveying to their child why serving a mission is so important and valuable. And as a result the child may see no point in going. But that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most worthwhile things one can do.

  55. # 64 Josh Thanks for your service to our country.
    With kids you need to teach them how to set life goals. Serving a mission, military service and becoming a parent and spouse are all worthy goals. I don’t see anything wrong with any combination of the four. I have one child whose life goals are all four.

    I think that having only one plan is a bad idea. For example with my daughter if she only had the goal of wife and mother; she would be unhappy if she were unable to fulfill this goal. It is good to have a plan B. So for my daughter we talk about serving a mission, what career she may have, and to become a Mommy (at eight years old boys have cooties). So I somewhat agree with Josh on the wife and mother thing. The reality is that lots of women in the church never marry; death, divorce, and illnesses do happen. We need to keep that in mind as we raise girls. If our girls are going to be single they need for their life’s work to be enriching. Likewise if they do have to work they need to be prepared for the work force and love what they do.

  56. I don’t mean to speak for Josh, but I think what he was getting at was the way Elder Scott seemed to be pushing the idea that parents had to constantly indoctrinate their children from a very young age that serving a mission was not a choice but an absoulte requirement. I think the analogy to college is a good one. Parents are right (IMO) to encourage their kids from a young age to value education and set a goal of getting a college education. But if the parents tell their kids “When you go to BYU and major in engineering and live in Wymount…” it has a different feel than saying “The better your grades, the more choices and opportunities you will have in choosing where to go to college and what to major in.” Elder Scott’s talk felt more like the former than the latter to me, and I think that may be what Josh was trying to get at.

  57. Hwoo — I’m a little worried here! Although I was raised in Cali, my parents are from (Zion’s) “dixie” and wherever I’ve traveled people have let me know that my dialect is somehow lacking the /aw/ phonetic which I somehow think is merely a short /o/.

    So, before /r/, I lengthen it to a long /o/ as in the woman’s name Laura which I say as “lohra,” but in all other instances I leave it a short /o/ as in dog which I of course say as “dahg.”

    I was somewhat relieved, when I looked up these pronunciations in a dictionary, to find that although my pronunciations aren’t given first, they at least are given second — so they’re at least main stream enough to be accounted for. However I left with the realization that there’s some distictive “middle /o/” phonetic that’s apparently some umlaut of both /aeh/ and /oo/ and that I can’t even hear, let alone voice correctly. (Well, actually I can make the /aw/ phonetic out when it’s exaggerated: as, say, in Georgia, where Laura is diphthonged into “laehwra” and dog into “daehwg,” and right now in where I live in New Joisey, where it’s diphthonged the other way into “lwara” and “dwag.”)

    But now M.J. (post 47) has added yet again to my dialectal insecurity by referencing how the teenagers of the family make fun of Conference speakers’ saying tray-sure and may-sure. (Oh no, yet another refinement of pronunciation my ear refuses to hear!) And sure enough the dictionary says that M.J. is right and it’s supposed to be said meh-sure and treh-sure.

  58. Some more on Elder Stone. He’s from Argentina, as was said, and was probably the first Latino to be elected studentbody president at BYU. Apparently he also appeared on some quiz program representing BYU.

    He had an international career with companies like Gillette and Black and Decker. I think he headed up the International Division for one of them. He doesn’t talk quite like a latino, probably because his father was English.

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