Saturday Afternoon Session of General Conference

My conference notes. (Snark in parentheses.) President Uchtdorf conducting.


(I just noticed that President Uchtdorf is wearing a different tie than he did this morning. I’ve never given this matter any thought before–is it common for GAs to change ties between sessions? Or should one presume that he spilled pesto all over his tie during lunch?)


(I always try to reverse engineer what rules the choir director gave the choir members based on what they are wearing. E.g., “please wear pastels, but no yellow.” Today, the counsel seems to have been “women, please wear the brightest shirt you can find. Men, wear ties even brighter than that, such as no fuller on earth can brighten them.” Not that I object. They look happy.)


Opening prayer by . . . I missed his name. (I am not cut out for this task.)


President Eyring presents general authorities and general officers for sustaining.


(Camera cuts to the audience for the sustaining–mostly we see late people scurrying guiltily to their seats.)


Elder Oaks — “Loving and Living with Differences”


(tl;dr: gay marriage is about to be legal everywhere. When that happens, be nice. Stop excluding non-Mormons and bullying gay teens.)


I. The challenge of having Christ-like love for others when they do not agree with us. We can’t leaven the world if we only associate with those who agree with us.


II. Avoiding contention is central. Jesus forbade contention by anyone, even those who keep the commandments.


III. We can’t dilute our commitment to our values. We are combatants–no middle ground. Jesus’ example of kindness re the woman taken in adultery–but sin no more.


IV. Issues of right and wrong–legalizing same sex marriage, marriage in general, having children, restrictions on pornography and drugs. Living with a non-believing spouse, workers, etc. He introduces a distinction between what we teach in churches and homes and what we do in public to accommodate the needs of others. Some behaviors may need to be “endured if legalized by the voice of the people.” We must be examples of civility. When we don’t prevail, we should accept it graciously and civilly. We must reject persecution of any kind, including sexual orientation.


V. Application of above principles to familiar circumstances. Non-Mormons in Utah who are alienated. The way teens bully each other. Political nastiness. A cohabitating family member. Don’t condone wrong. Kindness is powerful.


VI. We have to live peaceably with those who don’t share our views without abandoning our values.


Elder Andersen — “Joseph Smith”


(tl;dr: People will criticize Joseph Smith. Don’t freak out. Be nice. Develop your own testimony.)


Good and evil spoken of Joseph Smith during his life and it continues. Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers.


Don’t listen to defectors re Joseph Smith, but let us offer kindness to those who criticize Joseph Smith.


How to respond to negativity about Joseph Smith? We welcome genuine questions. To questions about his character, we should share the words of those who knew him, such as John Taylor. Internet does not have a truth filter.


Oblique reference to the Salamander letter. It was a forgery, but some left the church.


Some info about Joseph Smith may be presented out of historical context.


(Funny story re Elder Nelson painted as a lazy government worker due to lack of context.)


“We do not discard something we know to be true because of something we do not yet understand.”


Negativity will increase as we move to the Second Coming.


Challenge, especially for the youth: get your own testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.


There are great and wonderful days ahead.


Tad R. Callister — “Parents: The Prime Gospel Teacher of Their Children”


(tl;dr: importance of parents teaching their kids)


Intro: a Ben Carson story.


(Not a great moment for us liberals.)


(Is it kosher to use the word “ghetto”?)


Point: a mother who, without advantages, magnified her calling as a parent.


(So nice shout-out to a single mom.)


Story of 12-year-old Sarah, in Beirut, with little church history: “my mother taught me” so I knew the answers. They didn’t have the church in their community, but they had the gospel.


Enos was taught by his father. Memory of stretching out by the fire with his father to study scriptures, Shakespeare, vocabulary.


Mother, age 90, “I’m taking some food to the elderly.” He thought, mother you are the elderly!


Teach children the power of prayer, to pray for things of eternal consequences. Do our kids get our best efforts?


Elder Klebingat — “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence”


(tl;dr: don’t let Satan convince you that you are unworthy; do all the things)


How would you rate your spiritual standing before God?


(He seems reeeally young. Like, my age. OK, a bit older: wikipedia says he was born in ’67.)


(Whoa, I thought this was a guilt trip, but he turned it–Satan wants you to lack confidence before God.)


Don’t let these voices chisel at your soul. Living the gospel like this is completely unnecessary.


Six suggestions to dissipate evil voices and restore spiritual confidence:


1. Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being. Don’t blame others or make excuses.


2. Take responsibility for physical well being. Feed the soul but don’t neglect the body which leads to lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape and can do something about it, do it. Bodies as temples. Control diet and exercise. Good judgement in what and how much you eat.


(I bet all of you people stuffing your faces with cinnamon rolls feel really bad right now!)


3. Embrace voluntary whole-hearted obedience. You can’t love God without loving his commandments. Selective obedience brings selective blessings. God knows if you are really present at church.


4. Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly. Don’t expect the world to cheer you on.


5. Become really, really good at forgiving.


6. Accept trials, setbacks, and surprises.


Elder Gavarret  (speaking Spanish) — “Yes Lord, I Will Follow Thee”


(tl;dr: come to Jesus, follow Jesus, walk with Jesus)


Object lesson: following the right voice. Invitation to “come unto me.”


Story of his wife’s conversion and following the Word of Wisdom. Invitation to “follow me.”


Invitation to “walk with me” — a closer relationship to the Savior than coming or even following. There is power in these invitations.


(I love the idea of speakers speaking in their native language, but the execution is rocky. I found the voice-over difficult to follow, but I have auditory processing issues. I understand that they can’t just do subtitles because many can’t read or read quickly or see, etc. This is a tough one–I suspect technology will help us solve it.)


Elder Holland — “Are We Not All Beggars?”


(tl;dr: help the poor)


What a wonderful new element of our GC (re the native languages)!


Jesus’ foremost duty was to bless the poor, including the poor in spirit.


The creator was . . . homeless.




Spiritual and emotional damage of poverty. No more persistent call than in lifting this burden. They shall not suffer  — this is the language God uses when he means business.


What can one person do? “She hath done what she could.”


(Woohoo! My favorite story makes it into GC!)


Mother Teresa on rescuing the destitute. She was told she was accomplishing nothing. Her response: work is about love, not statistics.


(Feminist win: a woman who “shoots back.”)


Stop thinking that the poor have brought their misery upon themselves.


(He chokes up a little channeling King Benjamin re are we all not beggars. Nice: obtain versus retain remission of sins in King Benjamin.)


We should pray for those in need.


“Now, lest I be accused of proposing quixotic, global social programs or of endorsing panhandling as a growth industry, I reassure you that my reverence for principles of industry, thrift, self-reliance and ambition is as strong as that of any man or woman alive. . . . I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves.”


But God knows, and will guide you. Discussion of fasting as aid to the poor.


He acknowledges his own unearned temporal and spiritual blessings. He doesn’t know how the poor feel. He doesn’t know why circumstances vary so widely.


There but for the grace of God . . .


Story of Pres. Monson flying home from East Germany in his slippers because he gave his shoes away.  “How beautiful upon the mountains [and shuffling through an airline terminal] are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.”




There is a footnote in this talk to Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.


(Liberals returned to equilibrium–if not ecstasy–after Ben Carson incident.)


Elder Perry — “Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families”


(tl;dr: Jesus, family, mothers, fathers)


Jesus is the master teacher.


Reference to his mother’s notebooks. What about Jesus is most worthy of our study? Parable of the wheat and tares.

We must be sure the wheat is so good that the tares have no appeal. We must not let the world overpower the still, small voice.


“As members of the Church, we have the responsibility to preserve and protect the family as the basic unit of society and eternity.”


“The greatest teaching of all must be done by righteous example.”


Role of the mother: GBH quote. Homemakers make a greater contribution than generals or CEOs.


Role of fathers: blessings, ordinances, leading the family in prayer, building traditions, etc.


Children need guiding hand of faithful, devoted parents.

13 comments for “Saturday Afternoon Session of General Conference

  1. This liberal didn’t mind the Ben Carson story in this context at all — Carson has made undeniably spectacular contributions to the world that are a direct result of his mother’s guidance and that have nothing whatever to do with his politics. It would be an entirely different matter if the story had been about Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or someone else whose notoriety is solely political. (I’m sure you don’t want this thread to degenerate into a political spat — I hope this comment is acceptable because I’m looking past my own partisanship to understand why Elder Callister used it to illustrate the point of his talk: the effect of parents’ teaching on their children.)

    Nice summary. I had already confused a couple of points about which lines came from which men, so I appreciated sorting that out this soon.

  2. Elder Uchtdorf wears a different tie in each session. Seems to be a “thing” for him- and makes him that much cooler :)

  3. Julie, I vote that you provide parenthetical snark to each and every session going forward.

    (Do not give the appearance of having any disagreement of any kind with Ben Carson lest you be labeled a racist.)

  4. Naismith – Ben Carson is an individual well worth becoming acquainted with. There is a book and a movie on his life. He’s a man who has overcome multiple odds to become a well know director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. At age 33, he was the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins history, as director of pediatric neurosurgery. His story from poverty and a broken family is uplifting and if you have any interest in autobiographies, he is a fascinating study.

  5. “Broken family”? I really hate that term. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Or maybe I have been in Primary too long.

  6. Also never heard of Ben Carson. My kids enjoyed that story (we have no tv, and they are avid readers). It sounds like a great success story to me.

  7. Also, since I’ve seen it mentioned nowhere, am I the only person totally freaked by some of the methods E. Andersen suggests for obtaining a testimony of Joseph Smith? Because some of that read more like a recipe for psychological manipulation than communing with the Spirit. My jaw dropped in disbelief at what I was hearing.

  8. Ben Carson is also a darling sweet heart of the Tea Party and being pushed as a presidential candidate among the most conservative. He has been puniting on Fox News as of late and his message is basically the exact opposite of Elder Holland’s talk on poverty. Carson made it with extreme will of his mother and himself (and some really great genes) ergo cut taxes and programs to the undeserving poor. Its their fault they aren’t like him. I don’t think many people object to celebrating his amazing life, but highlighting him now as he has become a political pundit and candidate seems could seem a little “endorsement-like” (though I don’t think it crossed that line).

  9. Not to get too political, but the Piketty book has been found to have some serious calculation errors and other errors in its conclusions. Perhaps they are fixable, but I doubt it.

    That being said, Elder Holland’s talk transcends political leanings of any sort.

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