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124 Thoughts on October 2015 General Conference

Lincoln Cannon

6 October 2015 (updated 12 May 2024)

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124 Thoughts on October 2015 General Conference

Each year in the spring and fall, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its annual general conference. Hundreds of thousands of Mormons converge on Salt Lake City for two days of sermons from top leaders of the Church, which with around 16 million members is by far the largest Mormon denomination in the world. The most recent conference was held just a couple days ago.

Below are 124 thoughts, from me and others, that I collected as I watched October 2015 General Conference. As usual, the thoughts range from affirmations to criticisms, and from questions to assertions. I intend them to provoke reflection, questions, and comments, and contribute to a meaningful engagement with the ideas generally.

  1. There may be up to three new LDS apostles announced today, which is an unusual amount of leadership turnover.
  2. “Favorite of #ldsconf before it starts? Why yes, @HollandJeffreyR on his phone. See, even our apostles use technology at church events!” (@MrsEReyes)
  3. Technology has become essential to this conference, like many other aspects of Mormon practice, to enable that which we could not otherwise do.
  4. My favorite Mormon leader (yeah, I have a favorite), Dieter Uchtdorf, is the first speaker this morning.
  5. “True for God, true for science! #vaccineswork” (@elizabethany14)
  6. Uchtdorf says LDS leaders should avoid putting burdens of complexity on members.
  7. I share Uchtdorf’s esteem for simplicity in religious life, so long as you don’t insist that your simplicity must be mine.
  8. “God sees us as having divine destiny.” (Uchtdorf)
  9. “Exaltation is our goal. Discipleship is our journey.” (Uchtdorf)
  10. LDS leaders are “neither perfect nor infallible.” (Russell Ballard)
  11. “Mistakes … are not unique to Church leadership.” :) (Ballard)
  12. “Exaltation is the goal of this mortal journey.” (Ballard)
  13. Ballard seems not to be acknowledging the value that other religious groups and organizations provide to persons around the world.
  14. Richard Maynes says we should keep Christ’s commandments with “exactness.” Fortunately, that commandment is love.
  15. Every time I hear the lyrics of “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet,” I think of a woman named Hope beaming cheesily and singing. :)
  16. “Both @UchtdorfDF and @BallardMRussell remind us that exaltation is our goal.” (@Allen_Andersen)
  17. “Two talks so far that have mentioned focusing on the end goal of exaltation. #goals” (@JoeyMascio)
  18. “Both @BallardMRussell and @UchtdorfDF said ‘Exaltation is the/our goal’” (@j_scottm)
  19. “That’s two apostles of Jesus Christ who have pointed us to a goal of exaltation. I might give that idea special pondering.” (@RadNewzBear)
  20. “Exaltation is our goal. Second time mentioned this morning.” (@chunzman)
  21. “Seriously. Exaltation is the goal needs to be a meme. #Twitterstake #ElderBallard” (@GardenofEnid)
  22. “Both #PresUchtdorf and #ElderBallard have reminded us that exaltation is the goal” (@alienator345)
  23. Larry Lawrence says he was amazed to learn that we should become like our heavenly parents.
  24. LDS leaders are emphasizing exaltation this morning. Other words for exaltation are theosis, divinization, and deification.
  25. Quentin Cook says there’s increased tendency to disagree about good and evil. I suspect the tendency is ancient and enduring.
  26. I love the song, “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” especially when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings it.
  27. “exaltation is my goal” (@brittbunker)
  28. I wonder whether the new LDS apostles will be called before or after the sustainings?
  29. Ronald Rasband and Gary Stevenson and Dale Renlund are new LDS apostles.
  30. Ronald Rasband is one of the new LDS apostles.
  31. Gary Stevenson is one of the new LDS apostles.
  32. Dale Renlund is one of the new LDS apostles.
  33. Two of the new LDS apostles come from business vocational backgrounds, and one comes from a medical vocational background.
  34. “Not going to lie - a little disappointed that all the apostles are Utah born/raised.” (@jonimnewman)
  35. All of the new LDS apostles were born and raised in Utah.
  36. Jeffrey Holland compares the messianic role of Christ to motherhood.
  37. “What mothers do is an essential element of Christ’s work.” (Holland quoting a mother)
  38. “Would love to read Heavenly Mother into all of #ElderHolland’s talk about the love of a mother.” (@cbgrasshopper)
  39. I’m glad Holland suggested that no one should assume a person’s sexual orientation will miraculously change.
  40. Holland says mothers are messiahs. #christinyou
  41. “Glad to hear #ElderHolland thank Mother Eve, Mary, and Heavenly Mother in @ldsconf” (@cbgrasshopper)
  42. I appreciate Holland’s appeals to Mother in Heaven, Mary, and Eve.
  43. I dislike it when anyone, LDS Church leaders or otherwise, position us at battle with the world. It is counterproductive.
  44. “Does addressing Heavenly Mother directly in General Conference count as praying to her? #ElderHolland” (@cbgrasshopper)
  45. “LDS Church shocks world by announcing that 3 clones of deceased apostles called as replacements. #churchofutah” (@MarcusFlinders)
  46. Vern Stanfill rightly criticizes those who tear others down in cynicism. We can disagree while seeking to build each other up.
  47. I disagree with Stanfill’s implication that doubt is a temptation. Doubt is a useful tool. It’s only a poor ideology.
  48. Why do we have to demonize the world to build up the Gospel of Christ? Why not redeem the world? That IS the Gospel of Christ.
  49. If doubt were inherently evil, the Book of Mormon would condemn those who doubted Korihor.
  50. Dallin Oaks says we have a certainty of death in life. The Book of Mormon suggests otherwise.
  51. “Bible too … those who will become transfigured ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ without tasting death.” (@DonaMajicShow)
  52. Oaks suggests that God can empathize with our suffering because God has also suffered and suffers with us.
  53. It’s nice to hear Oaks criticize racial and ethnic prejudices.
  54. In Christ, we too must fill up in our own flesh that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.
  55. My favorite children in the choir are those that are clearly spacing out. :)
  56. To obey is better than sacrifice. To love is better than obedience.
  57. “Your faith will grow not by chance, but by choice.” (Neil Anderson)
  58. Using our heart without our mind is as bad as using our mind without our heart.
  59. I disagree with Anderson’s request to “give Joseph a break.” I love Joseph Smith, but he wasn’t perfect, and he merits scrutiny.
  60. “I liked that he said we should look at Joseph ‘in his totality.’ I think Bushman best captured this totality.” (@thabermeyer)
  61. “LDS Church official Twitter account favorites tweet from @OrdainLDSWomen! ‘The Lord blesses those who seek them with spiritual gifts. #ordainwomen #Bennett’ (@OrdainLDSWomen)” (@cbgrasshopper)
  62. “We talk about getting flamed by those who disagree with us.” That used to be literal. :) (Uchtdorf)
  63. Uchtdorf says we have the fulness of truth, but I think he means we have the fulness of the Gospel.
  64. Uchtdorf says faith requires scientific curiosity and experimentation on God.
  65. “There’s nothing noble or impressive about being cynical.” (Uchtdorf)
  66. “The universe is filled with wonders, profound and astonishing.” (Uchtdorf)
  67. “Skepticism is valuable; it’s a good start, but a bad stop. #PresUchtdorf” (@cbgrasshopper)
  68. Uchtdorf channels Shakespeare, remarking there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
  69. Henry Eyring is going to give us a final exam after his talk. ;)
  70. President Monson mentions the “plague” of abortion, and yet, sad as it is, it should be legal.
  71. President Monson references this passage of Isaiah, and one of my favorite passages of scripture.
  72. Well, apparently our religion takes 15 minutes less than usual to expound. ;) More tweets on LDS general conference tomorrow.
  73. President Monson encourages emulating the example of Jesus who, “even raised the dead.”
  74. Interesting that Ronald Rasband describes his apostolic calling to have come from President Monson in the name of Christ.
  75. Gary Stevenson likewise describes his apostolic calling to have come from President Monson. Does this match expectations?
  76. In my opinion, of the three new apostles, Dale Renlund best represented the apostolic calling to prophesy of Christ.
  77. Uchtdorf also comments that the callings of new apostles came through President Monson. Should this inform conceptions of Christ?
  78. Love the sign language squad in the conference center.
  79. “And Heavenly Mother’s eyes. #mormonfeminists ‘Only when we see through Heavenly Father’s eyes can we be filled with the pure love of Christ.’ (@LDSchurch)” (@youngLDSfems)
  80. Russell Nelson emphasizes the importance of female leadership. How can we better promote this as a Church?
  81. “True disciples desire to inspire … not just impress.” (Schwitzer)
  82. “Technology (for example, the piano) can become an extension of our bodies & voices. #ElderSchwitzer” (@cbgrasshopper)
  83. “‘Receive the Holy Ghost’ is an instruction of what to do, not just a pronouncement of something accomplished. #PresEyring” (@cbgrasshopper)
  84. Put differently, only through the sublime esthetic can we view people and events as our sublime potential would see them.
  85. “A few #ldsconf ago, #PresUchtdorf reminded us that we must be God’s hands. Now #PresEyring reminds us that we must also be God’s eyes.” (@cbgrasshopper)
  86. “Laws of science and answers from the spirit are both profound truths.” (@slinnderella)
  87. Eyring’s talk reminds me of one of my favorite passages of Mormon scripture.
  88. “If you ever think there’s a conflict between science and religion, just look to Henry Eyring who excelled at both” (@ldsbishop)
  89. “That we through our faith may begin to inherit the visions and blessings and glories of God.” Hope and work fulfill prophecy.
  90. “It is OK to be a person of faith and still be interested in science” (@elakay1)
  91. “I love how Henry B. Eyring mentioned his father using science to find the truths of the physical world.” (@ciscoru)
  92. “I would selfishly like to hear more about science in general conference. Thanks, @EyringHB” (@WorldsEndless)
  93. “Science and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive. #PresEyring #TwitterStake” (@786Joel)
  94. “#PresEyring’s father is a great example of science and religion living in harmony. They are by no means mutually exclusive.” (@TheCulturalHall)
  95. Science and religion are not only compatible, they are complimentary, each mitigating the risks of the other.
  96. “‘Come, Come Ye Saints’ speaks our Mormon identity. ‘The Spirit of God’ speaks Mormonism’s potential.” (@greenjellosalad)
  97. I love Christofferson’s emphasis on characterizing the Church as the Body of Christ.
  98. “‘God’s ultimate purpose is our progress.’ - #Christofferson” (@LDSquotable)
  99. “Personal progress requires more than ‘being nice’ or ‘feeling spiritual’; it requires community. #christofferson” (@rationalfaiths)
  100. “We do not strive for conversion to the Church, but to Christ.” (Christofferson)
  101. Christofferson says the Church is useful for accomplishing what cannot be accomplished by individuals, like combatting poverty.
  102. Christofferson’s leadership and thoughtful expressions of Mormonism refresh my discipleship.
  103. “Uniting as Zion requires us to love each other. We need all members of the body of Christ. Unity does not require uniformity.” (@Wheatntweet)
  104. “If the church is a catalyst for true conversion, then we need to be careful that the culture of the gospel will direct us that way.” (@jonimnewman)
  105. While our pondering may be immune to moths and rust, sadly it is not immune to mental health challenges.
  106. Don’t be too critical of the barrier, and don’t be too critical of those who make informed decisions to go beyond it.
  107. “The creeds set up stakes, and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further;’ which I cannot subscribe to.” (Joseph Smith)
  108. As Carole Stephens speaks of power struggles with children, my thoughts drift to antireligious and religious fundamentalists.
  109. “I love that the women are preaching and throwing down doctrine; gone are the days women only speak to women/children #SisStephens” (@Wheatntweet)
  110. “Heavenly Parents — THEIR love! Thank you, #SisterStephens” (@cbgrasshopper)
  111. “Jesus said his followers will do greater works than he did. #ElderClark #highexpectations #gospelofaction” (@cbgrasshopper)
  112. “Being a better person is not just following the same old rules more strictly. It’s changing and changing again and again and again.” (@metteharrison)
  113. Hmm. Bednar is going to provide an apologetic for patriarchal gerontocracy? Let’s see.
  114. I agree with Bednar that increased age provides unique benefits, and yet the same can be said of youth.
  115. “So should we all put physical restrictions on ourselves? We don’t have an anti-body theology. #ElderBednar ‘Physical restrictions can expand vision #ElderBednar’ (@LDSquotable)” (@cbgrasshopper)
  116. I agree with Bednar that Church leaders are often inspired and inspiring, but that’s not justification of patriarchal gerontocracy.
  117. “Critics are not saying that older apostles are evil or stupid. Only limited in certain ways. More variety could help this.” (@metteharrison)
  118. “Limitations due to age are not only physical. #ElderBednar” (@SumisuBuraianto)
  119. “Great point! #ElderBednar ‘There’s a reason that God called Joseph Smith when he was young, not old. #bednar’ (@rationalfaiths)” (@cbgrasshopper)
  120. “We need both young and old ideas together #ElderBednar for true progress ‘There’s a reason that God called Joseph Smith when he was young, not old. #bednar’ (@rationalfaiths)” (@Alexialscariot)
  121. I hope all Church leaders seriously ponder and pray about strengthening common consent in the Church.
  122. “This talk is the reason why stake presidents/local leaders ignore the voices of women, youth, etc. #thepatriarchy #ElderBednar” (@youngLDSfems)
  123. “What will this talk sound like in 50 yrs, when longevity is dramatically higher and the Brethren serve 50+ yrs? #ElderBednar” (@cbgrasshopper)
  124. I trust Church governance will continue to evolve toward the power described in this Mormon scripture.

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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