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73 Thoughts on October 2013 General Conference

Lincoln Cannon

8 October 2013 (updated 10 July 2024)

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"General Conference" by Lincoln Cannon

Last weekend, I watched the October 2013 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and engaged in discussion of the ideas online. Below are 73 thoughts and highlights, from me and others, about the conference. The thoughts range from affirmations to criticisms, and from questions to assertions. Hopefully they’ll provoke reflection, questions and comments.

  1. President Thomas Monson says the LDS Church has reached 15M members. I estimated only 20% of those are practicing (multiplying organizational units by estimated practicing members per unit).
  2. Friends mentioned to me a rumor that emeritus Bishop David Burton stated the practicing rate to be 36%, and 20% with temple recommends.
  3. Some churches explain their practicing member counts and some don’t. I believe the LDS Church counts all living members who haven’t asked for removal.
  4. Elder Robert Hales encourages obedience to LDS Church leaders on social issues. History suggests vigilance.
  5. I enjoy the enthusiasm of Elder Edward Dube as he advocates lifelong commitment to and engagement in Christian discipleship.
  6. Elder Dube: “May we unite in common cause to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Amen! This reminds me of the common cause advocated by Nikolai Fyodorov.
  7. What does Sister Carole Stephens think about Joseph’s encouragement of women to perform healing rituals?
  8. Elder David Bednar’s advocacy of action reminds me of Captain Moroni: the goodness of God is not enough.
  9. Do we wait for God (or Jesus) to do all the work, or do we make use of the means at hand?
  10. President Dieter Uchtdorf: “People want to do more than dream … they want to put faith into practice.” This echoes the thoughts of many Mormon authorities on practical faith.
  11. President Uchtdorf: “This Church was founded by a person that asked questions … and we honor those that seek truth.”
  12. President Uchtdorf: “There have been times when members or leaders of the Church have made mistakes.” This reminds me of the thoughts of many Mormon authorities on prophets.
  13. President Uchtdorf: “We are all hypocrites. None of us is as Christlike as we know we should be.”
  14. As usual, President Uchtdorf articulates a thoughtful and welcoming Mormonism, beyond petty sectarianisms.
  15. Along with modern risks, as mentioned by Elder Boyd Packer, Mormon scripture describes modern opportunities.
  16. Is our faith in a millennial day of transfiguration passive or active? Are we waiting for or engineering it?
  17. I would like to hear more from Elder Packer about his positive optimism.
  18. Elder Todd Christofferson: “Because the influence of women is so pervasive, it’s sometimes under-appreciated.”
  19. Elder Christofferson: “Where the ideal nuclear family doesn’t exist, people strive to duplicate its benefits as best they can.” I assume he’s implying this is a good thing. Why wouldn’t this apply to gay marriage?
  20. Elder Christofferson: “Equal opportunity promiscuity … degrades all of society.”
  21. Is Elder Christofferson’s reference to “female moral authority” implicit commentary on LDS women asking for priesthood ordination?
  22. Elder Jeffrey Holland: “If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to have a priesthood blessing and seek medical advice.”
  23. Elder Holland: “If we do not take time to be well, we will most certainly later take time to be ill.”
  24. Elder Holland: “Do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it.”
  25. Elder Holland: The day will come when each of us will “stand glorious and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind.” This reminds me of thoughts from many Mormon authorities on transfiguration and resurrection.
  26. I’m glad to see we’re continuing to invite women to pray in general conference.
  27. For the first time, the priesthood session of LDS Church General Conference was available live online at
  28. I valued watching from the comfort of my home. Some valued the tradition of gathering at local church buildings.
  29. Sounds crazy, but here you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof.
  30. As Elder Tom Perry reads the Mormon Articles of Faith, I’m grateful for the possibility space of the ninth.
  31. In my observation and estimation, top-down is almost always the least effective form of revelation.
  32. Elder Gerald Causse knocks it out of the park with a reference to Les Miserables and Jean Val Jean.
  33. Les Miserables is scripture to me, especially when referenced with a French accent by an authority of my own church.
  34. I bet Jean Val Jean of Les Miserables has special meaning to Elder Gerald Causse, whose middle name is Jean.
  35. Wow. Who knew Victor Hugo held a prophetic position in a new religious tradition in Vietnam?!?
  36. Loyd Ericson: “I wonder if he knew that people were literally being denied access as he was talking about letting people in.”
  37. Chris Bradford: “Probably. As Elder [Uchtdorf] said, we are all hypocrites. The principles are still right. We need to live them.”
  38. President Uchtdorf is channeling Batman’s father.
  39. President Henry Eyring: “Remember, you’re the Samaritan, and not the priest or Levite that passed by.”
  40. Chris Bradford: “President Eyring says the Good Samaritan is about priesthood holders, but the Samaritan was not a recognized priesthood holder.”
  41. President Eyring quotes a sublime passage of the Book of Mormon, echoing New Testament Paul. Be Christ.
  42. President Monson reminds us to do our home teaching. LDS Church Elders Quorum Presidents rejoice! ;)
  43. President Eyring referenced my double-great grandfather, President George Cannon.
  44. Listening to Elder Dallin Oaks, I’m reminded we’re part of the true God, eternal life. Keep us from idols.
  45. Elder Oaks seems to suggest that LDS Church policies are unchanging, but our scriptures suggest otherwise. I think this scripture reflects a profound change to policy on marriage and family.
  46. I’m not confident enough to use “never” in reference to policies, but I agree that the Church has many good policies.
  47. Brigham Young confidently said, “If any of you will deny the plurality of wives … I promise that you will be damned.”
  48. As Uchtdorf clearly reiterated, even leaders of the LDS Church make mistakes.
  49. How fast does the Church change when needed? History suggests some leaders and members are ready before others.
  50. Look for “thou shalt not kill” on this webpage, which shares Joseph Smith’s perspective on change.
  51. … unless you happened to live in the times of Jeremiah, in which case “thou shalt not kill” appeared to be the exception. ;)
  52. It seems most members of the LDS Church would already make gays an exception to the admonition to marry into committed loving relationships.
  53. Sarah Eden: “I hope all those who were struck by Elder Oaks’ talk also heard his call to treat with love and respect those with whom we disagree.”
  54. As Elder Richard Scott speaks of Atonement, I think of Paul’s insight: the Atonement works as we reconcile together.
  55. President Monson, referencing his wife’s death, alludes to the value proposition of religion: a strenuous mood for meaning.
  56. As President Monson mentions resurrection, I’m reminded of Nephi’s depiction of death as an “awful monster”.
  57. President Monson’s thoughts on consolation remind me of Joseph Smith’s last general conference speech.
  58. Here’s my echo of the consolation expressed by President Monson and Joseph Smith.
  59. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “Blessed Honored Pioneer,” reminding me of inspiring pioneer ancestors.
  60. Using 1 Nephi 11: 17, did Elder Neil Andersen suggest we don’t know why women don’t administer in priesthood?
  61. Elder David McConkie encourages us to teach by inspiration. I agree, yet that’s the rabbit hole. I’m reminded of Joseph Smith’s charge to “Try the spirits”.
  62. Elder Kevin Hamilton, are you sure righteousness requires “attending ALL of the Sunday meetings that are offered” (your emphasis)?
  63. Chris Bradford: “I find it very interesting that LDS conference speakers frequently mention that technology can be beneficial, but spend way more time on warnings.”
  64. Elder Terence Vinson deconstructs excessive individualism, suggesting my full strength requires yours. This reminds me of Joseph Smith’s insight into our mutual interdependence for salvation.
  65. Elder Russell Nelson says aging and death are gifts from God, but Mormon scripture suggests otherwise, repeatedly.
  66. Some things are worse than death, such as severe aging or illness, so death may be a gift in a narrow sense; but the idea that aging is a gift from God seems bizarre.
  67. Is a gift that is not desired still a gift? Should we aspire to death? When we call it a gift, that’s what we seem to be suggesting.
  68. Elder Russell Nelson says death is required, but Mormon scripture suggests otherwise, repeatedly.
  69. The idea of the Millennium suggests to me that death is not required. The passage of scripture about the Three Nephites suggests likewise.
  70. In my experience, the spirit encourages trust that, in Christ’s name according to the example and invitation of Jesus, we can and should overcome aging and death.
  71. I’m reminded of the thoughts of many Mormon authorities on transfiguration and resurrection.
  72. The scriptures suggest that death will not completely lose its sting until the day of transfiguration.
  73. It seems the eternal atonement, overcoming the awful monster, isn’t finished.

More Thoughts on General Conference

If you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you might also enjoy reading my thoughts on other general conferences. Here's a list, in reverse chronological order, of the conferences for which I've published thoughts:

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