Search Lincoln Cannon Menu
Lincoln Cannon

Thanks for visiting!

95 Thoughts on April 2022 General Conference

6 April 2022

Listen to recording

95 Thoughts on April 2022 General Conference

Last Saturday and Sunday, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest Mormon denomination, gathered for our 192nd annual General Conference. It’s a long-standing tradition. Recently, it’s also become a tradition for some Church members to share our thoughts and interact with each other during the conference via Twitter. I often participate in that.

Below is an edited list of the thoughts that I shared on Twitter about April 2022 General Conference. They include affirmations, elaborations, and constructive criticisms. As always, my intent is to promote serious engagement with the ideas and experiences that Church leaders share during the conference. And I welcome any feedback or questions you might have in the comments.

  1. Well, while waiting for General Conference, I’m enjoying the Tabernacle Choir music, whether it’s live or not.
  2. One thing’s for sure. That picture of the Salt Lake Temple during the intro to General Conference certainly isn’t live. The temple is under tons of scaffolding right now.
  3. There we go. It looks like the Tabernacle Choir is in the conference center to present live for General Conference. Good. :)
  4. Listening to the opening prayer of General Conference, I’m reminded that the Church’s focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ is consistent and long-standing. Somehow that never stops some Christians from rejecting our status as Christians – which isn’t particularly Christian.
  5. President Russell Nelson initiates General Conference with remarks on war. He encourages peaceful resolution. And asserts that “contention violates everything that Jesus taught.” I generally agree, although the Bible depicts Jesus as exemplifying some exceptions to that.
  6. President Nelson comments that missions for women are “optional.” This seems to imply a reinforcement of the common understanding that missions for men aren’t optional. In my family, we’ve always emphasized that missions are optional.
  7. Elder Russell Ballard continues talking about missions. Given this, President Nelson’s opening remarks, and the fact that the Church IT system for missionary applications has been offline, I wonder if they’re gearing up to announce a missionary policy change.
  8. Elder Ballard reaffirms the Church expectation that all men serve missions. In my observation, this expectation too often results in resentful and counter-productive missionaries. Perhaps there’s a way to recruit effectively without cultivating resentment.
  9. In the least, we should remind family and friends of potential missionaries not to engage in shaming or targeting other forms of social rejection at those who choose not to serve missions.
  10. At the same time, I have a strong favorable opinion of missions. I served. My wife served. My two oldest sons served. And it’s been an overall excellent experience for all of us, helping us grow considerably and become better people.
  11. Sister ​Reyna Aburto talks about the Relief Society, the women’s organization in the Church. She advocates relief from “poverty, illness, doubt, ignorance, and all that hinders joy and progress.” I like that characterization, although “doubt” is a misfit there.
  12. Elder David Bednar encourages Church members to “heed not” those who ridicule us. This is wise advice. There are plenty of criticisms that merit careful consideration. None requires ridicule as a vehicle, unless its intent is destructive.
  13. Elder Bednar’s comments about ridicule are also applicable to members of the Church who ridicule each other. In my observation and experience, sadly, that happens far too frequently. There are much better ways to disagree.
  14. Elder Neil Andersen says the Internet is “a blessing and a challenge.” But, he points out, the most extreme voices tend to get the most attention. Sadly, all too sadly, that’s true. Centrism, moderation, and reconciliation receive too little attention.
  15. Elder Andersen suggests a distinction between “offspring of God” and “children of God” – the former as passive and the latter as active. I disagree with that distinction. We should consider everyone children of God whether we like their actions or not.
  16. Elder Andersen observes that peace-makers are not passive. This is an important truth. Peace is not anything like a default state of affairs. It requires work. It requires constant vigilance.
  17. Elder Andersen says that the Church is pleased to be part of a coalition with groups representing queer persons, working together toward peaceful reconciliation. I’m happy to hear him say that. We still have much work to do here.
  18. I just learned that Sister Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society, has degrees in industrial engineering and computer science. Love it. Nerd cred.
  19. Elder Eduardo Gavarret talks about the only true and living sport: soccer. :) And, seriously, when is BYU going to have an official men’s soccer team? It’s the most popular sport in the world. Consider the missionary opportunities.
  20. Elder Larry Kacher talks about the challenge of losing family and friends to death. Grim. I love scriptures which encourage hope in resurrection. I trust in such a day, not passively. Jesus tells his disciples to raise the dead. May we take that more seriously.
  21. Elder Kacher refers to James’ teaching in the Bible that “faith without works is dead.” I wonder how he would respond to the assertion that we should apply the scripture to our faith in resurrection. What are the works that we can do to make that a reality?
  22. Elder Kacher says, “Unbelief blocks our ability to see miracles.” He’s right. Miracles are in the eyes of beholders. Unbelief also blocks our ability to envision the possibility of yet greater miracles. How much better could the world become?
  23. Elder Henry Eyring comments that we live in “increasingly perilous times.” It’s true that risks continue to increase. And it’s true that we face serious challenges. But there are also greater opportunities than ever before. And human potential is awesome.
  24. Elder Eyring often reminds me of my father, Layne Cannon, who died 24 years ago. Cancer sucks. But the suffering can become worse than death. And I actually do trust in his eventual literal resurrection. Crazy? No. You’ll see – if we see anything. ;)
  25. Trust in Christ need not, and arguably should not, be understood as anything passive. As the Bible says, trust without action is dead. So far as I’m concerned, applying science can and should be understood as an expression of faith.
  26. Many empty seats in the conference center for this General Conference. That’s strange to see, given that usually each seat is filled. Apparently the Church was worried about parking during construction. But I’m sure that many people would have been more than willing to walk a few blocks.
  27. Love the emotion in the eyes of the general primary presidency as they hold hands while they’re sustained in General Conference. I’m sure it’s challenging and meaningful work to do together.
  28. Elder Jeffrey Holland cracks a “reformed Egyptian” joke. Wow. There’s a lot going on there. :)
  29. Elder Holland mentions that young people are particularly concerned with “environmental desecration and racial inequity.” This, after his opening joke, has probably captured much more attention than most other speakers.
  30. Elder Holland gives “reasons for the hope that is in us,” listing many ways in which the Church brings people together. The power of religion, particularly as applied in the Church, to cultivate social relations is often under-estimated.
  31. Elder Holland says that we must commit ourselves fully to the gift of life, and run to the aid of those who are thinking of giving up that gift. This is a valuable appeal to help for those experiencing anxiety and depression.
  32. Elder Patrick Kearon echoes Elder Holland’s concerns. He mentions the stories of survivors like Shackleton explorers, Apollo astronauts, and war refugees. And he relates their survival to that of persons surviving many grim personal challenges.
  33. Elder Kearon’s thoughts remind me of how often we under-estimate the suffering of people around us. Behind that polite smile (and just straight face), what’s really going on? What are the health or social challenges weighing on that soul we cannot easily see?
  34. Elder Kearon asserts that nothing a person does ever merits abuse. Amen. While physical force is sometimes necessary to protect ourselves from aggression, the non-defensive aggression itself should be condemned. We can and must do better.
  35. Elder Marcos Aidukaitis speaks to young people, saying God has preserved them for the most important time. Yeah. We’ve heard this before. People have been saying this to young people for my entire lifetime. But there’s still at least a pragmatic truth to it.
  36. Hmm. There’s still a lot of talk about missionary work. But they haven’t commented on anything that suggests any policy changes. There’s probably some other explanation for the missionary IT system being down.
  37. Elder Aidukaitis talks about the difficulty of missions. Some probably aren’t aware of how difficult, physically and emotionally, missions can be. “Difficult” isn’t an exaggeration. In fact, it could be an under-statement. But they can certainly be valuable.
  38. Elder Gerrit Gong talks about the value of family history. Mostly and rightly, we recognize the psychosocial value of the work. But there’s much greater potential. What if all that work is also keying the database for the resurrection? Imagine.
  39. Elder Gong observes that “forever is too long if we make each other unhappy.” Right. While life extension and immortality can seem like great ideas, the greatness of the ideas depends heavily on quality of life, physically and socially.
  40. And, for those who may not know, “eternal life” is often used to describe the quality of life in Mormon theology, complementing “immortality” as quantity of life.
  41. Elder Adrian Ochoa emphasizes the importance of faith, and observes that we engage in acts of faith perpetually. He’s right. Too often, faith is misunderstood to be irrationality or superstition. To the contrary, it’s action in accordance with pragmatic trust.
  42. Elder Kevin Hamilton says we have a divine nature and destiny. Amen. This is the heart of the Church’s immersive discipleship of Jesus Christ. It’s about transformation into Godhood, as exemplified by Jesus.
  43. Elder Hamilton suggests that, while it’s true that God loves us as we are, God also wants us to change – to repent. He must be right. We must change, again and again. Our greatest potential continually depends on that.
  44. Elder Hamilton reminds me of Jesus’ great commands. Here’s a way to think about them, in context of change. Love God, your potential, with your whole mind, heart, and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself, not only as you are, but also as you may become.
  45. Elder Quentin Cook references the Joseph Smith papers, which provide deep insight into early Church history. I’ve learned much from them. If you haven’t already, check them out online.
  46. Elder Cook reminds us that, in scriptural theology, no one is doomed to damnation in any permanent sense. But of course our actions can still have long-lasting negative consequences. Our choices still matter, now and always.
  47. To reach the potential to which we commonly aspire, we clearly need to change both individually and socially. And that “change” entails repentance, both individually and socially.
  48. Elder Cook thanks people who served as missionaries during the pandemic. One of my sons was among them in both Africa and Missouri. I’m proud of his courage and work.
  49. During the women’s session of General Conference, Elder Dale Renlund said, “Demanding revelation from God is both arrogant and unproductive. Instead, we wait on the Lord and his timetable to reveal his truths through the means that he has established.” This has so many layers.
  50. The Tabernacle Choir is singing “Press Forward Saints,” one of my favorite tunes in the Church hymnal.
  51. Unfortunately, far too many people (including both Church members, leaders, and antagonists) have promoted and continue to promote simplistic distortions of the prophetic function, as actually observed through human history.
  52. The scriptures clearly and repeatedly encourage us to ask for revelation from God. And they provide numerous examples of people commendably asking for revelation. Asking for revelation is not demanding revelation. I ask for more revelation on Heavenly Mother.
  53. On the other hand, it’s noteworthy that Elder Renlund appears to anticipate additional revelation about Heavenly Mother “through the means that [God] has established.”
  54. Elder Todd Christofferson references Paul’s Biblical comment that we can be joint heirs with Christ in the glory of God, if we would suffer together in Christ. In my estimation, this is one of the most important Biblical insights.
  55. Elder Christofferson continues with referencing the apostle Paul, noting trust that our current sufferings will be subsumed in the glory of God, which will ultimately be revealed in us. In us! Imagine.
  56. Sister Amy Wright observes that extending forgiveness can be hard. She’s right – profoundly right. Extending forgiveness is one way that we participate in the grace of God, and the eternal Atonement of Christ. It wasn’t and never will be easy.
  57. Some imagine and contend that only God can forgive sins. But as Jesus observes in the Bible, “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He uses “Son of Man” when he wants to emphasize that which he has in common with us.
  58. Elder Gary Stevenson encourages Church members to invite others to participate in Church activities. Sure! Here’s an open invitation. Come to Church with me any time. If you’re interested, message me.
  59. Elder Michael Ringwood observes that we become like Christ by following Jesus’ example. We say that often. How thoroughly do we consider what it means? What does Jesus do? He atones. Can we become like Christ without following Jesus’ example of atonement?
  60. Elder Ronald Rasband defines religious freedom as “freedom of worship in all its configurations — freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom to act on personal beliefs and freedom for others to do the same.” To be ethical, this needs some qualifications.
  61. To use an extreme example, if my worship includes child sacrifice, my religious freedom should be curtailed. So we do need to say more than that we believe in religious freedom indiscriminately.
  62. Elder Rasband observes that the Church has more in common with other religions than with those who “wish to silence us.” This is surely true in some ways. But other religions also wish to silence us in some ways. We also have secular allies in some ways.
  63. Although I wish Elder Rasband would have more carefully qualified the ethics of religious freedom, I strongly agree with his general concern and advocacy for religious freedom. Robust cultural evolution depends substantially on this freedom.
  64. Elder Hugo Martinez cites the Biblical observation that, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature.” Jesus grew in wisdom? How many Christians believe this? What are the theological implications of a God that can grow in wisdom?
  65. Elder Martinez encourages us to become self-reliant. In context of the Biblical observation that Jesus grew in wisdom, he reminds me of D&C 93, which says that we can progress toward and receive the fullness of God, as Jesus did. This is a God that’s like us.
  66. President Russell Nelson expresses love for the people of Ukraine and Russia, sorrow for the suffering, and condemns the war.
  67. President Nelson reminds us that Jesus asks us to forgive everyone, acknowledging that it can be hard. But we should “set the example for all the world to follow.”
  68. Advocacy for and practice of forgiveness is perfectly compatible with ensuring the safety of one’s self and others. And forgiveness is fully possible only where it’s sincerely desired by those to whom it may be extended.
  69. President Nelson says that Church membership isn’t intended to be easy, but rather to refine us. This is true. Sometimes, however, we make it harder on each other than we need to. We should repent of that too.
  70. President Nelson encourages us both to forgive and to seek forgiveness, and end conflict in our lives. I feel that there is indeed exceptional need for this presently. Contemporary politics and the pandemic have placed unusual strain on our relationships.
  71. Elder Dallin Oaks explains that Church theology rejects the simple dichotomy between heaven and hell. And all the children of God (“with exceptions too limited to consider here”) ultimately go to a heavenly glory. This is nearly universal salvation.
  72. Elder Oaks refers to the Celestial glory as the highest glory. That’s how we commonly talk about it. But D&C 130 suggests that its inhabitants gain knowledge of a yet “higher order of kingdoms.” Surprised? Take a look.
  73. The scripture says that the inhabitants of Celestial glory receive a stone in which they learn about yet higher orders of heaven. I won’t insist there’s only one right interpretation of that.
  74. Because I commit to supporting Church leaders, including Elder Oaks, and because real support sometimes requires expressing disagreement, I respectfully express my disagreement with his apparent suggestion that God has finished speaking on the topic of gender.
  75. It may be worth keeping in mind that Church history includes many examples of our leaders learning and changing, even after making strong statements that ended up being incorrect in light of new revelation.
  76. Those who claim to support someone when they don’t constructively express honest disagreements aren’t really supporting, in my estimation. It’s not weird. It’s integrity.
  77. Unfortunately, I missed most of Elder Adeyinka Ojediran’s remarks because several fellow members of the Church had questions (and some ridicule) for me about my concerns with Elder Oaks’ talk. Life’s complicated.
  78. I love the Church, our leaders, and the members. And I support them. Telling other members to leave and start their own Church seems rather uncharitable to me. Those who do that should reconsider their tactics.
  79. Elder Jörg Klebingat says, “a God who makes no commands is the functional equivalent of a God that does not exist.” This is correct and important. It’s also not an ethical justification for arbitrary commands.
  80. Elder Klebingat engages a rather combative tone, which, coming after Elder Oaks’ remarks on gender issues, may invigorate social hostility toward those who disagree on that controversial topic. I imagine that wasn’t his intent.
  81. Unfortunately, there are other members of the Church who are currently saying that I’m expressing “crazy” and “stupid” ideas when I say that I trust that God hasn’t finished speaking on the topic of gender. Such behavior seems to be emboldened by Elder Klebingat’s tone.
  82. Change depends as much on us as it depends on God. I may be wrong, of course. But, as I said, I trust that God has not finished speaking on the topic of gender.
  83. Have you abandoned the Adam-God teaching? It’s a religious teaching from Brigham Young and other Church leaders of his day. If so, are you apostate? There are numerous examples of religious ideas that most of us have abandoned.
  84. I trust that gender is essential and eternal. Neither “essential” nor “eternal” denotes binary, static, or final.
  85. Things have never changed until they do. Many great and important things have already changed throughout Church history. And I trust that many great and important things are yet to be revealed.
  86. I have family and friends who do not fit comfortably into traditional gender categories and roles. And I think that their experiences, and others like them, are worth thinking about.
  87. You are responsible for your actions, as I am for mine. I’m not a victim. I don’t want your pity. But if you have any interest in genuine charity, I invite that. After all, isn’t that what our Christian discipleship calls us to?
  88. We can agree that God, understood as Christ, shall prevail. And I think it’s okay and even good that we can talk about our disagreements in how best to support that outcome.
  89. The Proclamation on the Family is a statement from persons that I sustain as prophets. It is not scripture. It could become such, but it has not.
  90. There’s a difference between God’s laws and the Church’s understanding of those laws, as is clearly shown throughout history. And I think both the Church and we individually need to change along the way.
  91. I suspect the Church’s readiness to accept change from traditional perspective on gender is about the same as its readiness to accept change from traditional perspective on race was prior to 1978. And I think God speaks to us according to circumstance.
  92. There are important practical consequences of generalities. And yet, of course, Jesus also encourages us to look after the one lost sheep.
  93. I know there’s substantial suffering consequent to complexities that are incongruent with traditional notions of gender. And I trust that God is knowledgeable and powerful enough to guide us toward new solutions that we haven’t yet imagined.
  94. I was unable to listen to several speakers at the end of the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference because I was responding to questions and feedback about my thoughts on Elder Oaks’ talk. I’ll have to read those I missed later. I’m particularly looking forward to reading Elder Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk.
  95. President Russell Nelson announces new temples in New Zealand, Congo, Spain, UK, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Montana, Idaho, and California.

Thanks for reading! If you've found value here and would like to support my work, you can do that in at least five ways:

  1. Comment Thoughtfully Below
  2. Share on Social Media
  3. Subscribe to My Newsletter
  4. Make a Donation
  5. Check Out My Sponsors!

Article Sponsors

Thrivous is the human enhancement company. We develop nootropics to enhance cognition and geroprotectors to promote healthy aging. Use code SUPERHUMAN for 50% off your first order at thrivous.com.

Comments