Priesthood Session Notes

Since we’re not doing open threads during the sessions of conference, we’re trying to start comment threads at the end of the session, so that once you have heard and thought a little about the entire session and the individual talks.

So take your notes during the sessions, and let us know after the session is over.

Here’s a few thoughts on Saturday Afternoon’s session of conference. I’d welcome your thoughts also.


  • President Boyd K. Packer — Talk might be titled “Advice for the Aaronic Priesthood.” At least in the beginning of his talk, I noticed that his cadence seemed to be off, almost like he was short of breath! He also seemed to be switching between the two teleprompters on each side very frequently, as if the font size was set very large. I don’t remember if he has said in previous talks that he had polio as a child — I thought the story was very personal and interesting, especially the overtones of the inferiority he must have felt because of subsequent physical inadequacies. This explains, I think, the joke he told about the man with the inferiority complex who went to the doctor only to be told, “you don’t have a complex, you are inferior.” — A joke which while funny, might make some people uncomfortable, IMO. I was a little unclear about what he meant when he said young men need to “treasure and protect the masculine…” Was that a euphamism for the male sex organ? or a suggestion to avoid emascualtion? I also liked his story of getting into the Air Force as a pilot and eventually finding out that the whole reason was so that he could teach the gospel in Japan. He did make an economic reference, saying “We moved from a generation of ease and entertainment into a generation of hard work…” — well and poetically put.
  • Bishop Richard C. Edgley — This is Your Phone Call-i.e., the phone call to step in and help because a disaster is upon us. Elder Edgley tried to communicate a sense that in our individual wards and branches, stakes and districts, we need to step up and help just like the Church has done for so many physical disasters. “The economic effects of this store are being felt in every ward and every stake in the Church.” (Good advice, considering its easy to think that this is somehow only affecting your nation or city). I liked the fact that he then gave an example of a ward who set up a member in business — recognition that sometimes more unusual solutions are required than simply “get a job,” especially when for many there is simply not work available — you have to make your own work in some cases. What was missing from his account of the ward doing this was any suggestion that they investigated whether or not there was a market for the business. Presumably they did so, at least unconsciously.
  • Elder Claudio R. M. Costa — Covered four areas where we have responsibility: 1. Family, 2. Employer, 3. Lord’s work, and 4. Self. It is interesting to note that the underlying quote says “Lord’s work” instead of “Church.” In discussing each of these areas, however, he failed to talk much about responsibility to self.
  • Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf — Another outstanding talk by Elder Uchtdorf. He told the story of Eastern Airlines Flight 401, which crashed December 29, 1972 because of the crew’s obsession with fixing a burned out indicator light. (See this description of the crash). Elder Uchtdorf said we do similar things when we “focus on something that mattered at the moment instead of what matters most.” But, he adds, most of the time it isn’t that we fail to realize the different priorities, but that “our weakness is in failing to align our actions with our [knowledge].” “We need balance in life.” He went on to talk about the important role that Church service plays, telling the story of Nehemiah, who focused on building the walls of Jerusalem instead of paying heed to his enemines, who claimed they wanted to parley. Nehemiah responded, “I’m doing a great work and can not come down [to parley].”
  • Elder Henry B. Eyring — Told the story of two U.S. Medal of Honor awardees who lost their lives trying to rescue their fellow rangers in the incident widely known as “Black Hawk Down” (Both a book and a movie tell the story). He used the story as a jumping off point to discuss the spiritual warfare we are in, and our obigation as priesthood holders to fight for the spiritual salvations of others, especially those we have been assigned to home teach. He said, “Your happiness and those of whom you served are bound together.” [BTW, anyone know why one of his eyebrows is higher than the other?]
  • President Thomas S. Monson — Stating that “This is not a time for fear, brethren, but rather a time for faith,” President Monson gave three suggestions for facing our lives today: Study diligently, Pray fervently, and live righteously. He gave examples of each. When talking about scripture study, he suggested that daily scripture study was important, observing, “Crash courses are not nearly as effective [as daily scripture study].” In talking about prayer, he refered to the sacred grove as, “That grove called sacred,” which begs the question, is it the sacred grove because we gave it that name (as his statement implies), or is it the sacred grove because it has been made holy somehow?

During President Monson’s talk, an amusing, and somewhat informative, reaction came. He told the story of a Daisy Ogondo (spelling?) of New York City, who, through prayer, managed to find two Elders. Since we are in New York City, our congregation was excited to see New York mentioned. But when a photo of Daisy and the two elders was displayed on screen, one of the Elders in the congregation said aloud, “Hey, he was my companion!” Evidently the incident President Monson described happened within the past few years, and one of the Elders involved is related to Elder Hales. The member lives in the Bronx, according to the missionaries.

12 comments for “Priesthood Session Notes

  1. Richard Pedersen
    April 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Tonight is your phone call, brethren. We call upon you to mobilize to face the (employment) challenges of our members. (Bishop Edgley, Priesthood Session, April 4, 2009)

    LDS Stake & Ward Employment Specialists Groups

    Facebook –

    LinkedIn –

  2. Tim
    April 5, 2009 at 6:01 am

    I find it particularly interesting that Elder Packer talked about being masculine, and then talked about cooking in the kitchen and sewing.
    I remember a gospel doctrine class recently where one prominent member of the ward said that real men “didn’t bake cookies.”
    Now I have direct evidence to refute that. And from an unexpected source.

  3. April 5, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I think most anything Boyd K. Packer says is going to be viewed with suspicion in certain corners of the online community. This talk was just fine. Anyone who would take the “inferiority complex” remark wrong has one or two issues with taking offense too easily in my mind.

    I did consider his statements on gender being eternal, and protecting masculinity interesting however.

  4. April 5, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I remember a gospel doctrine class recently where one prominent member of the ward said that real men “didn’t bake cookies.”

    Hah! I’ve been baking cookies since I was about 9 years old, and I have nine kids (OK, technically, five are step-children, but still…). I’ve done most of the cooking in our family for the past decade. My cookies (which I often bake for ward choir practice) are widely praised and highly sought after, particularly my blueberry macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies.

    What’s more, I come from a long line of male cooks. My father John Webster — who spent 30 years in the Navy, who survived Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, and the invasion of Guam, plus two tours in Vietnam — cooked. In fact, since he retired about 15 years before my mom did, he did most of the family cooking after that point.

    My grandfather Jack Fickes — who was an LA detective in the 1920s, and then worked in the LA sheriff’s department in the 1930s, and who served in the Navy in WWII — also cooked; in fact, he moonlit as a caterer during those decades. He lived with us for the last 13 years of his life (after my grandmother died) and did a lot of cooking for the family in that time. Since his eyesight was failing, I used to help him. I still use his recipes for salsa and for what he called ‘Mexican beans’ (beans with chorizo and ground meat).

    I still have and use two of Grandpa Jack’s cooking implements, both around 80 years old. One is his large wooden paddle for stirring beans. The other is a large, curved Damascus steel carving knife. A Russian butcher used that knife to kill himself; Grandpa Jack and his partner were the investigating detectives. After the coroner’s inquest ruling the death a suicide, Grandpa Jack — being of thrifty Pennsylvania Dutch stock — saw no point in wasting a perfectly good knife and took it home. It’s been in the family ever since; I used it to start the carving of the turkey last Thanksgiving.

    Oh, and Grandpa Jack baked cookies, too. ..bruce..

  5. April 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    So, was it just me, or did others think that Pres. Packer seemed like he was having trouble. He sure seems to have aged in the past year or two.

  6. TrevorM
    April 5, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I agree Kent, He seemed to be really showing his age.

  7. manaen
    April 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Not sure why the flutter about Pres. Paker’s comments on YM learning domestic arts — I recall him making similar comments to YM about sewing and cooking and to YW about learning basic auto maintenance in the 1970s.

  8. Carol F.
    April 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I do believe that Elder Packer is a good artist–both oil painting and wood-carving. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he would encourage being well-rounded.

  9. dh
    April 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Was Pres. Uchtdorf’s message on not spending too much time on a blog, the first ever reference to such media in GC?

  10. Tony
    April 6, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    In Tallahassee, where our church building is near the football stadium, we had a very unusual and seemingly coordinated experience during Elder Eyring’s talk–as soon as he started his war story, fireworks began at the stadium as part of a football game and they continued for several minutes! When he said “Man down!” there were literally booming noises to be heard.

  11. swoolfolk
    April 7, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Mr. bfwebster –

    I cannot tell you how much I agree with your post. If real men do not bake cookies, it would stand to reason that real women do not dig trenches or fix plumbing. If this were true, I would be up the creek with out the proverbial paddle! You see, I am a single mother and have no choice.

  12. Mark Magleby
    April 7, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I can’t help but think that Pres. Uchtdorf has orginated a catch phrase in the LDS lexicon when he quoted Nehemiah: “I’m doing a great work and can not come down.”
    Sounds like the lady who needed emergency services: “I’ve fallen down and can’t get up.”

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