Monday, April 4, 2011

Thoughts on General Conference - Updated

This past weekend was General Conference. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.) I generally enjoy conference, and this one was particularly good, for the most part. So, I'll start with the one thing that bugged me, and then I'll go into a much lengthier summary of what I did like.

One thing I realized is that church leaders really have no idea what the lived experience of the single member is. Several talks chastised single members for putting off marriage, basically saying that we're being selfish and worldly for being single. I would invite them to spend some time talking to and listening to those of us out here in the mission field, where Latter-day Saints are a minority. There are only so many other church members around, so it's not like there are tons of options. It's not like in Provo, where if you aren't compatible with the people in your ward or stake, you can just go down the street and meet thousands more. Out here, if I'm not compatible with the few single LDS men in my area, I'm left with the choice of staying single or dating outside the church. It's not a matter of priorities, it's a matter of population. [Update: ks has a post at Beginnings New about the marriage talks at General Conference. She asks how we can teach the youth of the church the importance of marriage.]

As a nice transition, I really appreciated Elder Holland's remarks. I'm not normally a big fan of his talks; he's usually a bit too fire and brimstone for my tastes. However, I liked what he had to say yesterday. He said that he knows that not everyone is avoiding marriage. I'm sure most people will interpret that as an apology to the married people listening that they had to hear the single people get chastised. However, I interpreted that to mean that he knows there are plenty of people who are single and in good standing with God, and that the remarks of the prior speakers were not directed to people like me.

There was a lot more Jesus at this conference than there has been in the past. I'm quite pleased with that. Elder Grow's talk was particularly great in that regard. He talked about the cleansing power of grace, and he shared a poignant story of his brother's return to the fold. I also liked Elder Perry's talk and Elder Richards's talk. Elder Richards made the excellent point that not all of our suffering is our fault, and that Christ can heal us from the sins of others as well as forgive our own sins.

I also noticed a theme of caring for the poor and needy. President Eyring, Bishop Burton, and Sister Allred all spoke on this topic. Two things stood out to me. Bishop Burton said that caring for the poor and needy is more important than missionary work and temple work. Sister Allred said that caring for the poor and needy is pure religion. (Although she didn't quote the scripture, that comes from James 1:27.)

I've been thinking a lot more lately about prophets. During the sustaining of the church officers, I had a realization. When we raise our right hand and declare before God that we believe that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators, that's a big deal.


ks said...

Thanks for your thoughts at Beginnings New on my post, and thank you for not being offended my post. I put it up knowing that there are many who will be frustrated by those talks on marriage. I am hoping for a safe, faithful place where issues (like the one of demographics) can be discussed. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

In addition, I totally agree that the worst thing a YW or YSA can do is think life = marriage. Life means working within a relationship to God. That is where happiness lies. If someone is counting on marriage to "fix" them or make them happy, they never will be, whether single or married.

Anyway, thanks.

Keri Brooks said...

Thanks for your comment and your blog post, ks.