Since I have taken genuine interest in the words of Christ, every April and October I look forward to hearing the General Authorities address the membership. The more I studied, the more I understood what was being said. My studies have gone from one hour a day, to constantly resting on my mind all day, and sometimes those thoughts generate dreams based on what I’m currently studying. Last night I dreamt about the commonalities of Abraham and Adam, for instance. But, rather than finding myself increasingly loving General Conference, my study has heightened my sensitivity to the words of Christ, such that I am now able to hear things I wish I didn’t hear. Nonetheless, I listen more now than I have ever listened before, not to be critical, but to figure out what is being taught to the general population, that may become an obstacle to the words of Christ. I share this post intending to continue an open dialogue with my family, where I am completely transparent, and so no one need guess what I’m thinking. Perhaps, more conversations can be drawn as to what I see, and how the scriptures portray such topics, and all can be edified (including myself).
AM Session: Initially, the first two talks from Uchdtdorf and Ballard started things off on the wrong foot for me. What struck a bad chord for me was the emphasis on following the leaders, associating salvation to staying in the church, and not rocking the Old Ship Zion. A few talks were flat-liners (boring), and a few I thought was surprisingly impressive.
Elder Uchtdorf began by laying out his argument as “us vs. them,” stating that “millions of stars” are believable, but “wet paint” must be touched by people who can’t trust the leaders! A very subtle beginning, but it continued in his injury story. He used himself as the bad example of not trusting the doctor, and using Google to find a better solution, to rush the process (a bad thing to do). He then led up to expressing that those looking too far into the matter of Christ’s presence in the flesh, makes the gospel too complex, when it is simple. Then it got worse when he said that leaders are to protect the saints from the over-complex (c’mon now, we’re adults). He followed up with an overly complex quilt design that was unnecessary. And finally, contradicted himself, advising us to start where we are, and then study all we can, because intelligence and exaltation is our goal.
I couldn’t understand how someone like me, who has studied as advised, can be categorized with having to “touch the paint,” or overcomplexefying the simplistic, by following the latter advice. Besides, I don’t think that you can tell people to follow the leader, and maintain leniency and openness for being humanly flawed. What about, follow Christ and I’ll tell you all I know about Him?That would be much better. Then we aren’t using compulsion and recommends to manipulate results. Besides, everyone knows the right answers to the questions of the temple recommend interview.
As for Ballard’s talk, I really don’t like the Old Ship Zion talk from last time, and he just added to it this time. I get that the Lord must be at the helm of your life, but the problem I have is the regulation the ship’s mates make on how I know the savior myself. There’s no pecking order between you and Christ. Christ wants a personal relationship with you.
I really liked the part of Elder Mayne’s talk about the field that covered over the kingdom of heaven. The character in the story sold all he had to buy that field so that he could obtain the kingdom. He referred to Lamoni’s dad who was finally willing to give up all he had, and all his sins to know God. The king was not afraid what his peers would think, or how it would impact his financial standing. They eventually submitted themselves to their enemies to top it all off. All, …to know God. I like that!
Larry Lawrence also made a great point, that when we learn, we improve, and become more sanctified, and become more perfected. He spoke of constant scripture study being improvement. He referenced the rich man’s failure as being humble enough, but unable to act, because he was not faithful enough. According to my definition, humility comes through study, faith comes through asking questions about the mind and will of God concerning the study, …and then acting upon that answer. So I liked his advice. The other talks were kind of middle ground, monotone, and safe, for me, so I don’t have much to say about them. I took notes, but they wouldn’t make my morning session highlight reel.
PM Session: Elder Hales had some good “life counsel” to share. We’ve heard it before, but I like the emphasis: get out of debt, get married, raise kids on faith and not money, and the best preparation was to reach up to heaven, not across to men. You can understand why I liked that last piece of advice, …because I believe that reaching up is possible.
Holland’s talk was patterned after our mom, so that one was a personal favorite to me. I even called mom, and we both had a good laugh at that. I had mixed feelings about Vern Stanfill’s talk, because there were elements of connecting to heaven, but also messages of do what your leaders tell you to do, mixed in. In my opinion that’s philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a leader complex, I just have a problem seeing my salvation through not knowing Christ personally, yet expecting to find salvation through knowing and trusting in fallible leaders. But, I must say, he ended pretty good when he stated this pattern of growth: study/ confidence/ determination/ comfort/ and know Christ! I like the fact that it begins with study, and ends seeing Christ personally, knowing Him.
If there was a talk that I liked, it would be James Martino’s. He advised us to follow Nephi by studying the words of Christ (sounds like a common pattern for the talks I like, right). He used Laman and Lemuel as examples of people who went through the trials and sacrifice, even saw an angel, but since they had no knowledge of God, it cursed them and they did not have confidence. He even said that questions lead to faith. Now days, we are directed to strategize our questions, so that you never loose your place on the Old Ship Zion.
However, I was pleasantly surprised with Elder Oaks’ talk on the use of the atonement. He did a great job describing the depths of Christ’s ability to succor and raise up anyone who would come to Him. And, to make it even more surprising, Oaks didn’t place his position of apostle or the office of prophet between us and accessing the atonement. He was clear that we go to Christ himself. As it should be, since Christ alone was the one to atone.
Priesthood: Elder Anderson began well with faith, and strengthened the idea further by recommending we seek further light and knowledge through study (the pattern again-study). But, he still needed to add the twist of following the brethren, obeying the commandments that they teach, etc. Throughout this and past conferences, that has been the most distasteful to me. I don’t like it so much that I cringe when I hear the primary song, “Do as I’m Doing, Follow, Follow Me!”
Elder Uchtdorf started out good with Daniel, in Nebichenezer’s court, but went back to focusing his disapproval toward people he termed “Cynics.” He hints at something by stating that they (meaning all the men behind him- General Authorities) believe in God “because of what they know, that they can’t explain in worldly terms.” As if to say that it is too sacred to say. But, why not say it in heavenly terms then? The prophets of all times did, over and over again. In fact, Nephi, although he was unable to say it directly, uses Isaiah’s words to do it.
He further expresses doubters as “people who don’t study.” He says to them, if they studied then they wouldn’t have a problem obeying their leaders and being cynics. He says that they have unplugged themselves and are now complaining about why there’s no light. But, …what about the failure to produce light, as in the times of the prophets of old, …by people who actually do study?
Are they just cynics? Are they simply not getting in line with their obedience? I get mixed feelings here because I like Elder Uchtdorf, I like Daniel’s stories, but I don’t like the institutional salvation mentality that categorizes those who study, with sincerity and real intent, with people who are merely cynics.
Conclusion: By now you know what I like and don’t like. As for fruit of the lips, there was nothing offered that taught us how to break through to the heavens, or that anyone has lately. Elder Uchtdorf came closest to claiming something unique, but spoke away from further detail, as to draw attention away from seeking more information of seeing Christ in the flesh. But, most of the fruits from the lips of those who spoke were more like administrative advice, and counsel to maintain the course we are on, no need for drastic change and repair, because the good Old Ship Zion is on course. That is bitter to me.
If we continue to do what we do, we will on get more of what we got. And what we got right now is not confidence in Christ, in the least. The prophesy states that, in that great day, no man need say know ye the Lord, for all will know Him. How do we claim to serve a master in whom we do not know? People can help us know about Christ, but knowing about Christ is different from knowing Christ!