Great Expectations: What Are Your Hopes and Predictions for General Conference?

Andrew apologetics, blacks, Bloggernacle, conference, curiosity, doubt, faith, families, Folklore, gay, General Authorities, General Conference, LDS, Leaders, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, orthodox, Priesthood, questioning, race, revelation 58 Comments

pres monson chair“It’s the MOST WONderful TIIIME of the YEARRRRRR.”  The leaves are starting to change color. The evenings and mornings are a bit crisper. Even the birds’ singing suddenly sounds sweeter than ever.

General Conference must be coming this weekend.

Twice a year, I can’t help formulating hopes and expectations, or making predictions about what we might hear in the next General Conference. There are a few things that are givens. We can expect to hear spiritual messages that transcend the issues discussed most often on LDS blogs. We can expect to hear speakers relate sincere, heart-felt experiences that bring comfort to those who are struggling with loneliness, loss, sickness, guilt, or feelings of inadequacy. Those are messages I know I can expect to hear every conference.  But the anticipation that slowly builds in my mind over the couple weeks before Conference is whether we will hear anything about the issues typically discussed in the Bloggernacle by those for whom the Church is more than a religion or a lifestyle, and who make a hobby out of studying Mormonism from an academic standpoint.

Major changes in the Church have been announced at General Conferences in the past, and when the Ninth Article of Faith tells us that God “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God,” I can’t help wondering whether any of those “great and important things” will come out this Conference.

I invite you to express your own hopes, expectations, and predictions for this coming General Conference in the comment section below. But before doing so, I’d like to share with you a few of mine.

1. Consensus and Clarity About the Nature of Revelation

51I have come to believe we are a bit schizophrenic in the Church when it comes to defining and explaining what “revelation” is, particularly as it applies to revelations received by the Prophets and Apostles.  Some Church leaders and members seem to view revelation as a process whereby God transmits his exact thoughts and words directly to the Prophet, who then passes them on to us without any human interference or input, such that revelations handed down by the Prophets are completely free from any human considerations (e.g. economic, political) in their origin, and completely free from any human error in the Prophet’s perception and interpretation of what he believes God told him.  Some LDS apologists have referred to this version of revelation as reflecting a “fundamentalist” mindset, so for the sake of ease I’ll refer to this as the “Fundamentalist Version” of revelation.  The Fundamentalist Version of revelation is usually presented when Church leaders are trying to create unity and motivate members to rally around a particular program or policy and carry it out without question or challenge. The Fundamentalist Version creates compliance and squashes dissent because if we view revelation as a pure transmission of God’s will devoid of any human imperfections, then members will feel no room to question or refuse to comply, and Church leaders will feel divinely justified in reprimanding and punishing those who do.  A few examples of scriptures or quotes used to support the Fundamentalist Version of revelation are: “whether it be from my mouth or the mouth of my servants, it is the same” or “the Prophet will never lead us astray.”  And when something the Prophet says or does seems not to make sense, the scripture “[God’s] ways are higher than [man’s] ways” is often invoked, the implication being that if what the Prophet says or does doesn’t make sense, it must be because it is one of those “higher” divine truths, rather than because the Prophet has made a human error.  The Fundamentalist Version of revelation seems simple, clear, and provides a feeling of comfort and safety to people looking for a reliable guide to help them navigate through the perils and uncertainties of the world.  But this Fundamentalist Version of revelation also has a significant downside: it creates an image of Prophets as being men who do not err in their revelations, so when people encounter evidence that seems to overwhelmingly demonstrate that Prophets past and present have erred, this Fundamentalist Version of revelation provides no framework to reconcile those obvious human errors with the belief that so-and-so was a genuine Prophet of God.  In other words, the Fundamentalist Version of revelation creates the expectation that Prophets and their revelations are infallible, because despite the occasional acknowledgements of prophetic fallibility in theory, telling people that whatever the Prophet says is what God says creates an illusion of prophetic infallibility in practice.  As a result, when Church members who embrace the Fundamentalist Version of revelation encounter convincing proof of human error in the statements or actions of Prophets (and if the Internet provides us an accurate glimpse, there are many such people) they become disillusioned and stop believing in the concept of revelation altogether.

95josephfaceinhatHowever, there is another version of revelation within the Church, one which has long existed alongside this Fundamentalist Version in our scripture and in Church leaders’ statements.  And because it has become so popular with LDS Apologists, we could call it the Apologist Version of revelation.  In the Apologist Version, revelation is understood to be a collaborative process between a perfect, omniscient God and imperfect men with limited understanding who “see through a glass, darkly.” In the Apologist Version, we understand that revelation is a transmission of divine knowledge oftentimes received as somewhat vague “impressions” that can be misperceived and misinterpreted by fallible men who have cultural biases, human passions, political and economic considerations, and pride.  As a result, we hope and expect that revelations will usually reflect God’s will on at least a general level, but we recognize that sometimes those revelations will err in their specifics, or (hopefully rarely) be wrong altogether.  This version of revelation is usually presented in the context of apologetics when responding to uncomfortable evidence that seems to conclusively demonstrate that the statements or policies of past or present Prophets and Apostles have been in error.  Thus, the Apologist Version of revelation is often used to persuade someone that he should not lose his testimony of Joseph Smith as a Prophet because it allows someone like Joseph Smith to inadvertently mix human errors into his revelations and still be a Prophet. In support of this version of revelation, apologists cite the acknowledgments in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants that God’s servants “err” in ways that are eventually “made known” but that their revelations should be heeded nonetheless.  Or we find the Apologist Version of revelation in Joseph Smith’s famous quotes that “some revelations are from God, some are from man, and some are from the devil” or that “a prophet is only a prophet when he speaks as a prophet.” The overall idea presented in this version of revelation is that it sometimes contains human errors, and therefore we ought to expect to find such errors without losing our testimony of Church leaders’ prophetic callings when we do.  Of course, the drawback of the Apologist Version of revelation from the perspective a Church leader is that it causes some Church members to feel free to doubt, question, challenge, or refuse to comply with the Prophet’s purported revelations on the grounds that they reflect the will of man rather than the will of God.  And such doubting and dissent is a hindrance to administrative effectiveness in any organization.

Because I see these two different versions of revelation existing within the Church, anytime the subject of revelation comes up in a talk, either directly or indirectly, my ears always perk up and I listen closely to which version is being presented: the Fundamentalist Version or the Apologist Version.  Overall, it’s my feeling that the Fundamentalist Version of revelation is most often presented in sermons and lessons by both Church leaders and members, with a sprinkling of the Apologist Version from time to time, such as when uncomfortable situations arise where it become necessary to acknowledge prophetic error in attempt to save someone from losing his testimony altogether.  However, I think anyone who has been paying attention to FARMS, FAIR, and the Church’s media and public affairs departments have good cause to believe that the Apologist Version of revelation is becoming more popular and is being invoked more frequently, perhaps in an effort to stem the flow of folks losing their testimonies over troublesome episodes in Church history that seem to reflect human error in Church leadership.  So with the Church’s media and public affairs folks quoting apologists with seemingly increasing frequency, I am constantly curious to see whether and when the Apologist Version of revelation will become the dominant version of revelation presented by Church leaders at General Conference.

Very briefly, four more issues I’m always wondering whether will be addressed:

2. A clearly-worded, official repudiation of the statements made by past Church leaders to support the pre-1978 priesthood ban for African Americans. The policy changed in 1978, but there was never an accompanying clear, official renunciation of the many statements that past Church leaders had made to support it.  Many of those statements are still sitting on Church members’ bookshelves at home.  And when people ask the understandable question of why the ban was ever instituted in the first place, those old statements, some of which are extremely hurtful, are sometimes trotted out by misguided members.  We know a committee was formed to draft such a statement several years ago, and there were high hopes such a statement would be presented at the 20-year and 30-year anniversaries of the rescission of that ban, but it didn’t come. Will it come this Conference?

3. Will we receive messages aimed at preparing Church members to continue to generously donate their time and money to support legislation to prevent Same-Sex Marriage? Or will the negative backlash from some quarters regarding the Church’s heavy involvement in Prop. 8 result in a more moderate approach that simply “encourages” members to do so, but this time without creating a mechanism of administrative enforcement for that “encouragement”? I have heard anecdotal stories about General Authorities saying that Prop. 8 was nothing compared to what the Church will be doing in the future, so we shall see what comes out about that topic in Conference.

4. Clarification about what the “central” components of the Restored Gospel are. Recently, a notable LDS apologist who specializes in Egyptology and the Book of Abraham, Dr. John Gee, gave a talk in which he provided a list of what was “central” to the Restored Gospel.  His list included the Book of Mormon, but excluded the book of scripture that he has researched and defended for so long: the Book of Abraham.  Dr. Gee’s speech prompted discussion about the criteria for determining what the “central” components of the Restored Gospel are, and also fueled speculation about whether Dr. Gee’s exclusion of the Book of Abraham reflected a lack of scholarly confidence in Joseph Smith’s claims about that book of scripture in attempt to establish a “fall back position” where the Church can argue that academic challenges to the Book of Abraham should not undermine anyone’s testimony of Joseph Smith’s status as a Prophet on the theory that the book is “not central to the Restored Gospel.”  Was Dr. Gee’s statement a prelude to a change in the way the Church views, teaches, and uses the Book of Abraham? My guess is probably not; the Church seldom seems to move that quickly. But the Church’s relatively recent revision of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, which was preceded by an emerging consensus among LDS scholars that the Book of Mormon action took place within a limited geography rather than upon the entire American Continent, demonstrates that these types of issues are receiving the attention of the General Authorities, and that the General Authorities are willing to adjust the Church’s claims about its books of scripture.  So perhaps something is in the works on this issue.

5.  Warnings, admonishments, and clarifications about what the General Authorities view as being appropriate and inappropriate online discussion of LDS doctrine and history. Elder Ballard’s recent encouragement to become involved in online discussions about the Church seems to have enlarged the pool of Mormons participating in the Bloggernacle and other online discussion fora.  However, it seems only a matter of time that Church leaders will recognize that Church members’ increased involvement in online discussions about Church history and doctrine will only increase the likelihood that they will come into contact with uncomfortable information that they otherwise would not have encountered.  Around 20 years ago, Elder Oaks delivered an address in which he warned Church members about participating in symposia and becoming involved with “alternate voices.”  But Elder Ballard’s encouragement to become involved in the world of online discussions seems to have departed from that approach, or to have at least created ambiguity about the degree to which faithful Church members should be involving themselves in online discussions and debates, even with the intent to defend the Church.  Will the General Authorities issue any warnings or admonishments about the “proper” way to discuss Church topics online, or the “proper” online fora to visit?  If so, it seems Elder Ballard would be the most likely Apostle to deliver that message.

Overall, I should say my expectations are not high that issue #2 will receive any mention in Conference.  While I do believe it is possible, it seems the Church prefers to make such statements more quietly in between Conferences, rather than making any sort of dramatic public announcement that will attract attention to an uncomfortable topic.  But I do think it’s very possible we will hear messages addressing issues #3 , #4, and #5.

So, what are your hopes, expectations, or predictions for this coming General Conference?

Comments

comments

Comments 58

  1. Tithing! The last three Ensigns and one Church News address the issue. One should pay even if lights turned off and even before paying mortgage. A glowing story of someone paying 20% “tithing” in last Ensign. Someone will draw the short straw and have to speak on tithing. It’s the economy stupid.

  2. My predictions:

    1. There will be a heavy emphasis on tithing, given the current financial crisis, and the blessings associated with it.

    2. There will be an emphasis on reducing internet “addictions,” but church members will understand it as a call to reduce internet use altogether.

    3. There will be continued emphasis on supporting political measures that define marriage as between a man and a woman, although the language for such things is likely to be very vague. Connected with this, there will be discussion of Mormon’s “persecutions” following Prop 8 (again, using vague language).

    4. There will be at least one talk that highlights the Saints in Africa and how we aren’t a racist church.

  3. Since the internet is fast becoming another venue of communication between all, with blogs catering to LDS members, in particular – I am somewhat surprised to hear so many members state that they act and behave in Church one way and, when on the internet, another way.

    This “two faced” stance is troublesome to me and I wonder what type of generation this type of frame of reference is producing. Sooner or later, the General Authorities will speak on the matter. This is not the same as being ‘one way’ at work and ‘another way’ at Church. Because at Church or the internet, LDS religious matters are discussed.

    Now, when I meet someone, smilling, in the corridor of the Church – I have to look harder and use discernment, because there is now a spark of doubt because of what so many on the internet have said – that they are basically “two faced”. But it can also be true that when one is in Church, they are sincere.

  4. Things I would like to see:

    – A talk on tithing that actually provides clarification as to net or gross, rather than the vague “do you want gross or net blessings?” In many socialist countries (with the US leaning more and more that way), once taxes eat up 50-60% of your income, 10% on gross is quite a bit.

    – A talk on some sort of policy reconciling the very real fact that gay people have faith in God and Mormonism, but don’t have a real role. Where do they fit, and is there was way to accommodate others without compromising long-held views (a balancing act – much like with blacks in the 1960’s)

    – A talk on how the “inner man” is important, and not the focus on superficial outward appearances that we have – given by a GA in a blue shirt, or maybe even one of those cool goatees that President GA Smith had.

    – Pornography – luckily not a problem I’ve ever had to struggle with, but it seems to be something each conference so many others much have an issue

    – A talk on how moderation in all things means we could be like Joseph Smith and other church leaders did and have a glass of red wine for health but should actually follow the “eat meat sparingly” commandment (I know this will never happen)

    – A talk echoing what BKP said quoted in a recent blog, where the church will go through and jettison 50% of the programs that have built up over the past decades and refocus on our personal relationship with Christ.

    Siempre hay esperanza.

  5. sxark:

    I think the “two-faced” issue will go away once the church officially accepts the fact that it is possible to have conservative and liberal views in the Church, much like in the earlier days with Talmage, McKay, McConkie, etc. There is no real room for anyone in the Church anymore who is “liberal” to express their views, to have a forum for a constructive discussion of very real issues, to not be accused of “apostasy” because they question things sincerely. People don’t want to “throw the baby out witht the bathwater” because they have testimonies of God and JS, but at the same time, there are very real issues suppressed in the name of putting forward a united face.

    So, until the Church allows people to fully express their minds, the internet will be the only outlet. But I do agree that if they don’t fix the problem, there will eventually be a schism.

  6. I invite you to express your own hopes, expectations, and predictions for this coming General Conference in the comment section below.

    1. Hope that President Monson’s story of providing service to someone in a personal way will be one that has not been used before.
    2. Hope that President Uchtdorf can keep finding interesting ways to make allegories of aviation.
    3. Hope that Elder Wirthlin’s talk on Concern for the One will be quoted, reiterated, restated, and reemphasized.
    4. Hope for a temple to be announced in Tucson, Arizona.
    5. Hope that a talk will be given by a woman that my wife can relate to rather than tuning it out.
    6. Hope that my wakeful vigilance will not succumb to Elder Scott’s lullaby voice.

    and

    7. In the interest of recognizing that this is a worldwide church with scriptures being printed in hundreds of languages, announce that it is time to remove scriptures printed in Egyptian Hieroglyphics from the canon.

  7. I love Rigel’s, esp. #5. What I expect to hear as themes:
    1 – provident living (perhaps along with tithing) and taking care of family members who are in need first (before relying on the church)
    2 – perhaps more on temples, although I hope not. Last time it was non-stop temple talk. And since no one can say anything about the temple, it’s a topic with very little content.
    3 – influence of media as a negative that needs to be countered in our homes (basically this is an anti-Hollywood theme)
    4 – I’d love to hear more about broadening the tent and helping people to be their best, regardless of their current level of belief. Something around not having windows into people’s souls might be good or about not judging others at church, but befriending all.

  8. Rigel,

    Very funny Rigel. I would add:

    * fewer talks in ‘primary voice’
    * women receive the same candor and directness as the men
    * 30 minute streamlined temple endowment sessions for temple workers and older members
    * a talk by a Native American brother
    * mandatory monthly after-sacrament potlucks with banana pudding like the Baptist sisters in the South make
    * regional buildings to be used for temple work (like in Nauvoo)
    * incorporation of tithing as the US tax code principle (fair/everyone pays something) and fast offerings as national welfare
    * a new commandment – sunday naps
    * a mass debunking of popular Mormon Myth’s – Masons, Lehi/Native Americans, etc.

    Even without my brilliant suggestions, I believe it will be excellent.

  9. hope:
    -any level of concern about our moral responsibility to care for the earth, live sustainably, and support measures that put our lives more in balance with this creation
    -any attempt to look at how the human condition is and will be impacted by global warming, and what we should be doing as members of the church in this regard
    -any attempt to define sustainable living, in context as members of the church

    prediction:
    -none of the above will be mentioned in conference
    -i will do a blog post on my three hopes and maybe 50 people will read it

    (hopefully elder perry doesn’t put this in the realm of politics as he did before, since this is as moral of an issue as any they will be speaking about in conference)

  10. #7 (Rigel): 6. Hope that my wakeful vigilance will not succumb to Elder Scott’s lullaby voice.

    Isn’t that the truth? I love Elder Scott, all the more so because he’s an engineer, but they could tape his voice and use it to put colicky babies to sleep.

    #10 (Wyoming): * fewer talks in ‘primary voice’

    Again, amen. When Sandra and I lived back in DC, there was a young woman in the ward who worked at one of the local TV stations. She could improvise a drop-dead-accurate ‘primary voice’ Conference talk at the drop of a hat. It was hilarious, but it also ruined many subsequent female Conference talks, since we find ourselves cracking up when the women start talking (“Little Jimmy lived on a quiet, tree-line street in a pleasant neighborhood….”).

    #11 (WVS): Hey Bruce, (#3) I thought the same thing. That would be very odd, buy hey, not without precedent right?

    Yes, the precedence is definitely there, though we don’t tend to think of it as such. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, and I think the odds — while low — are still non-zero. I think the Church may be at a critical inflection point in its growth, and it may take something like the Second Quorum of the Twelve to bend the curve back up again. As I state in my post, the Presidency of the Seventy is, in effect, acting as a Second Quorum of Apostles — except there’s only seven of them, and they don’t have apostolic authority.

    The downside is that it would undercut some of the Restoration message in missionary work (“Wait — you have 24 apostles? Where does it talk about that in the Bible?”), but I think that may be less of an issue in the parts of the world where the Church is or should be growing the most. And that would be largely offset if — as I hypothesize in my post — the 2nd Quorum is largely filled with non-American, non-native-English speakers who spend most of their time residing outside of the United States (as per Elders Oaks and Holland a few years back) in their native regions. ..bruce..

  11. Hope:
    That I will get a good long nap.

    Prediction:
    That I will get some kind of nap, but wake up uncomfortable and cramped during the priesthood session.

  12. Andrew, quickly:

    1) No, too controversial

    2) No, will never happen!

    3) Not directly, but someone will get the ‘marriage’ talk and someone else may mention pickets or follow the prophet.

    4) Yes, but on a general roundabout way

    5) Probably, not directly but it seems that they are becoming concerned. Apart from Ballard there’s Packer’s comments and Uchtdorf’s saying that one can spend too much time in with a blog etc.

  13. @Bridget Jack Meyers in 13 – “There are many things I would like to see, but I don’t think I’ll see any of them. Not under this presidency.”

    Can you tell us what they are? I always find your perspective enlightening.

  14. I would like President Monson to speak to the meanness and hateful language that seems to be coming from members of the Church. I have seen at least three occasions our Bishop has had to sit members down in the middle of their Sacrament Meeting talks because of the political nature being used. Sometimes I think Glenn Beck has somehow been called into the First Quorum of Seventy the way his ideas are quoted by member of the church.

  15. Plufyn #19

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been paying tithing online for about 5 years. I don’t have the numbers with me, but if you simply contact the finance department in the Church Office Building in downtown SLC they will send you the information you need to set up the payments on whatever online bill-paying system you use. I started doing this at time when I was making a fair amount of money and giving large tithing checks to a member of the bishopric who was unemployed. I hated having him see large tithing checks coming from me every few weeks. Since then I’ve really enjoyed the convenience of paying online and the fact that for the past few years, in the wards I’ve lived in nobody has been able to make any assumptions about me based on the amount of tithing I pay. I simply tell the bishop I’m a full tithe-payer, that I pay it directly to the church, and we leave it at that. And I’m sure the ward finance clerks appreciate having less to deal with.

    Sorry about the threadjack, and thanks Andrew for the thoughtful post. I won’t bother with predictions, but as long as I’m writing I’ll add to Andrew’s wish list of things that I’d like to hear but don’t expect to (and that haven’t already been addressed above):

    (i) A plan to shorten the endowment ceremony by at least 50%.

    (ii) a revisiting of the initiative Pres Hinckley discussed a few years ago, where the church reviewed numerous programs, policies, etc. in an attempt to simplify the lives of active LDS members/leaders. Sadly, the only thing that came out of that was the announcement that temple recommends last for two years rather than one. But how about a two-hour block, with Sacrament meeting every week and having the other hour alternate between Sunday School and Priesthood/RS/YM/YW?

    (iii) Direction that statements in testimony meeting need not always be prefaced by the words “I know that . . .” and that it’s ok for people to talk honestly about their faith and their doubts, their successes and their struggles, as we share our meaningful spiritual thoughts and experiences with each other.

  16. I hope there is a choir of primary children. I hope there are messages of inclusiveness. I hope there is a focus on Jesus Christ.

  17. I had no idea you could pay tithing online! I need to look into this. I pay all of our bills online, so the only reason I ever write a check anymore is for tithing. It would be great if the church would set up a system that all members could access, maybe even through lds.org. I agree that it would be nice not to have your financial info disclosed to others in the ward when they see how much tithing you pay, it can be awkward.

    This conference I hope to have a big breakfast and spend the day in my pajamas, relishing the fact that I don’t have to prepare/teach a primary lesson. Low expectations leave room for me to be pleasantly surprised. 😀

  18. OK, I’m feeling bad about my threadjacking so will keep this short. I looked up the number for the Church’s donations department. You can either call (801) 240-2554 (or you can try emailing donations@ldschurch.org) in order to get the information you need to pay tithing online.

  19. I’d love love love to hear more Mormon Myths put to bed, especially those related to blacks and the priesthood. I’m quite disheartened by the number of members that still think BRM’s/BY’s theories are doctrine.

  20. I would love to hear more financial disclosure about how tithing money is spent, more specifically where the funds came from that the church used for Prop 8. However, I know that is probably not going to happen. We will most likely hear the usual the church has been audited and the money was spent properly, blah, blah.

  21. What I would like to hear: The Lord has revealed that the time has come to extend the priesthood to all worthy sisters. As in former times within the church, the Relief Society will again operate as a distinct organization within the church, rather than as an auxillary to priesthood. Spiritual blessings that come from healing blessings for ones’ family will again be available to all worthy, priesthood-holding men and women within the church.

    Never gonna happen, though, but a girl can wish.

  22. Matt,

    Thanks for that info. That very handy. If everyone paid tithing online, then it would save the ward clerks a lot of time.

    I actually like the 3 hour block on Sunday. What would you do with one extra hour on the Sabbath day? Watch another quarter of NFL football?

  23. Feeling bad about your threadjacking? Don’t, you’ve just made my life so much easier! We’ve been talking about how much more efficient that would be.
    What I’m hoping for? Pretty much a repeat of April’s conference. The atonement, provident living, adversity, appreciating faithful diversity, strengthening family relationships… I’m not holding my breath for any big announcements but agree that a shorter block, serious revisions of the seminary program, and the banning of all crafts from RS would all be delightful.

  24. #22 Mytha ~ Thanks for asking.

    There is my requisite demi-feminist concerns. I’d like to see talks given by more than two or three women, I’d like to see a woman address the priesthood session, I’d like to see women offering prayers at Conference, and I’d like to hear the RS, YW and Primary Presidency members referred to as “President Lastname.” It’s the only honorific title women potentially have, so they might as well make use of it.

    (Of course, in a perfect world I’d like to see a revelation giving women the priesthood, but I’m trying to suggest gradual changes towards the goal of improving women’s status.)

    I’m generally concerned with the content of General Conference talks. I’ve heard complaints elsewhere from reasonable, faithful Latter-day Saints that the talks stick with “milk” and never try to address meatier, more problematic doctrines, so I’d like to see some GAs address that. How about a talk addressing problematic sealing situations involving divorce, widow/er situations, and remarriage? A talk offering hope and encouragement to part-member families—hope and encouragement that isn’t rooted in the hope of converting your spouse? A talk encouraging mothers who work outside the home, and not just mothers who have to work outside the home for financial reasons, but mothers who want to and choose to? An expository talk on a more problematic area of the church’s history? A talk on what happens when you feel like you hated your mission and were a complete failure? A talk on how you feel when priesthood blessings seem to fail? A personal talk and testimony from a convert who lived a truly worldly, sinful life before becoming LDS, complete with a few gritty details?

    They aren’t ordaining any new apostles this conference, but I’d like to see the church go back to ordaining younger men (in their 30s) as apostles, and I’d like to see some apostles who aren’t white. In case anybody thinks my first suggestion is crazy, please bear in mind that Monson was ordained when he was 36.

    I’d also really love to see a more upbeat choir as a sign that the church is beginning to embrace other music styles.

    However, I predict none of the above. It will be two talks offered by women who won’t be called “President”, all prayers and priesthood talks done by men, and talks on things like faith, repentance, baptism, tithing, the importance of temple work and family history, strengthening the family, sharing the gospel, the requisite talk aimed at traditional Christianity (wild guess: they denounce our “divisions” and contrast the church’s unity) and how awesome those pioneers were.

    If we get really lucky, maybe they’ll come down on the Bloggernacle for criticizing the Brethren. That will suck for you guys, but be entertaining for me.

    Enjoy your conference weekend.

  25. Bridget (#34)

    Amen to everything you just said. I’ve thought all those things and more for the past 10 years.

    If we get really lucky, maybe they’ll come down on the Bloggernacle for criticizing the Brethren. That will suck for you guys, but be entertaining for me.

    I’d like to hear the brethren even say the word “Bloggernaccle” in conference. That would be cool.

  26. I would love to live at a time when the faithfulness of church members allowed the Lord to be nearer to His church and people. Something akin to what is recorded in 4 Nephi:

    3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. 4 Nephi 1:3

    13 And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus. 4 Nephi 1:13

    I wonder what General Conference would be like in that kind of society?

    But I need to live in the day that I am assigned. So based on that, I hope that President Monson will speak with the same authority and power he has done since being called as our prophet. For example, click the link below. This talk was given April 2008, Sunday Morning, “Looking Back and Moving Forward”.

    The title of this talk most aptly applies to those who frequent the Bloggernacle. We look back and are troubled by some things in church history. Though the link below doesn’t specifically address the challenges some have with church history, it provides the anecdote.

    I know by my own experience the challenges of church history. They can rock us to our core. But I also know by experience that these challenges can be swallowed up by faith.

    The Lord has given me sacred experiences that have provided a certain testimony of the reality of Christ and the truthfulness of the claims made by the LDS Church. These experiences are available to all who will diligently seek the Lord. I hope each of us will be willing to pay the price to acquire our own sacred experiences so that we can be unshackled from the fetters of whatever binds our faith, and free us to come unto Christ with full purpose of heart.

    http://broadcast.lds.org/genconf/2008/04/40/GC_2008_04_46_MonsonTS__09487_eng_300k.wmv

  27. Hopes . . .

    1) A WOMAN will play the organ for the ENTIRE GENERAL conference (not just the YW/RS sessions or a special musical number).

    2) A WOMAN will conduct the Mo-Tab. Guest conductor Florence Henderson. (Did anyone else watch the 40th anniversary of the Brady Bunch Marathon on TV Land when Carol Brady said to Alice about the kids entering a singing competition, “I couldn’t be more proud if I were the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!”? Let’s make her dream come true!)

    3) A talk and update from each of the three Nephites and from John.

    4) Meat with the milk . . . AMEN. They’re gonna let the next politically incorrect J Golden up to the stand who will FINALLY say something new.

    5) Calling on random audience members to come to the podium and bear their testimonies; oh, and then serve 3 yr missions (starting with Steve Young, Danny Ainge, Donny Osmond, and Dale Murphey since they haven’t gotten to go yet.)

    6) The conference center will be turned into a tabernacle, and religious symbols (stained glass, religious murals, sacred geometry, etc. will be built). The ‘generic conference room’ thing will go away.

    7) The announcement of a new book . . . ‘National Treasure 3’ which finally exposes the relationship between mormonism and free masonry among our country’s founders (discovered in a covert escapade to the granite mountain). Details coming soon.

    8) The writer of the online lds tv series ‘Jer3miah’ and Jared Hess will make the hilarious intersession video(see #7)

    9) Lightning will strike and the teleprompters will short out. All GA’s will have to speak extemporaneously (by inspiration) and from the heart, not from an edited/pre-approved speech.

    10)Special guest speakers will include: Glenn Beck, John Ensign & Jim Gibbons (heartfelt apologies) and Sarah Palin. (Just kidding about this).

    11) Special guest musical numbers played by the Canadian Brass- an ode to Moroni.

    12) The first conference in YEARS without a 30 min infomercial for emergency essentials

    13) Announcement to finally build the Far West Temple (to scale- using the original plans).

    14) The usual 20 min or 10 min talks will be replaced with discussion panels moderated by (?), pitting various apostle’s philosophies against each other (too bad we missed the opportunity to hear BH Roberts’ against Bruce R. M. )

    15) President J. Beck will apologize for any offense or undue guilt any sister might have felt during her first GA talk.

    16) The church will NOT make an announcement opposing the public option for health care- as socialist pursuant to the statements of Orin Hatch, Glen Beck and Michael Leavitt.

    17) Special guest speaker – PRESIDENT OBAMA on Mormons in Obamerica.

    18) The ‘model A’ small temple design will be scrapped for the Kiev Temple, to be replaced with a contemporary LDS design using the traditional slavic onion dome.

    19) The term ‘tithing’ will be replaced with “membership dues”.

    20) Second annointings announced for card carrying general membership.

    21) Working women can be called as paid CES directors.

    22) Church leaders will be given 1/2 off tithing obligations if they instead visit Midwestern saints instead of the Polynesian saints.

    23) Health care problem solved! Announcement of the return to the united order.

    24) A talk on spiritual polygamy (or traditional polygamy).

    25) Carolyn Lynn Pearson will speak.

    26)Mitt Romney will talk about bringing the winter olympics back to SLC in 2018, and will announce run for Gov of UT (later be elected the ONLY person to govern two different states).

    27) Announcement of the NEW visiting teaching system which pairs YW (12-18) with RS sisters (similar to the Home Teaching model).

    28) Sister Wendy Nelson will give a talk on couples sex therapy — oops— procreative love.

  28. I want the Sealed Portion released and studying it can be the 2010 Sunday school topic instead of the New Testament

    Dissolve the Singles wards.

    Bells on our church buildings.

    I agree on the Kiev temple design.

    Update the hymnbook, ban Scatter Sunshine.

    I don’t care if the priesthood is extended to women as long as it is done the way women serve missions. Optional but not essential.

  29. One session will be turned into a town-hall meeting where members can ask any question, which Pres. Monson will answer using his mantle of prophet seer and revelator.

  30. As much as I’d like to have fun with my wildest wishes, realistically, the conference will address the same basic core principles and the church continues its steady course. That means I’m left to predict:

    1. Say your prayers
    2. Go to church
    3. Read your scriptures.

    Just new stories around these principles. Those wanting earth-shaking new revelation will be disappointed, those seeking spiritual upliftment will be filled.

  31. It would be cool if BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii were re-named, maybe in honor of some deceased prophets like Spencer W. Kimball and David O. McKay. Those schools deserve their own identities, BYU-Provo deserves its own identity. Having 3 BYUs had got to be confusing to non-Mormons living on the East Coast.

  32. Pingback: I’ll Be Watching Conference Sunday Morning « Course Correction

  33. Prediction: One key talk denouncing “intellectualism”/ blogging/ spending too much time on alternative sources of truth, ie, internet/ need to stay focused on gospel, etc.—maybe Sunday afternoon and maybe someone with gravitas—someone like Elder Holland…or maybe Oaks

  34. Scatter Sunshine,

    You picked exactly the one I would drop…but I would sure like a shortening of “I Believe in Christ.” Adding that hymn to the program is like turning a two hour block into a three hour block.

  35. Threadjack:

    I pay my tithing online, but I use the “check mail” feature, and it is set up to snail-mail a paper check to the Bishop’s home (the mailing address for any ward) What is a little ironic is I am in the Bishopric, so he usually turns the check back over to me sunday after church, and I count it with the rest of donations. A couple of others in the ward use paper-mailed-check online payments as well. It is kind of a pain because the member of the bishopric then has to fill out the donation slip. I suppose I am supposed to then give the donor copy of the slip to the member, but I just shred it.

    Anyway, my question is for those who pay directly to Salt Lake, does the donation show up on your personal donation record that is (in my ward at least) is printed out and given to members as they are going into annual tithing settlement.

  36. OK, if we are banning hymns, “Ring Out Wild Bells” has GOT TO GO!!!!! I am also not a fan of “If You Could High to Kolob”.

  37. pinkpatent — is it the music or text of Kolob that you don’t like? The text, for the most part, really captures for me the awe-inspiring ideals of eternity. But then again, I’m an astronomer and like thinking about space and such. Some of the doctrine at the end (there is no end to…) gets rather shaky and repetitive, though.

  38. “Ring Out Wild Bells” is usually played so slow it really drags everyone down. Its always played for the New Year and it just seems like such a sorry way to start things off. The year is dying, let her die….I am definitely more of a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! kind of person.

    I don’t like “Hie to Kolob” because the words seem to fight the music. Its a little heavy on the weird, trippy doctrine stuff for me too. I like singing “Families are Forever”, but would not want to sing a hymn about the joys of polygamy. Just my personal preference.

    I love the hymns that sing praise to Jesus, and that make me feel happy. I can stay home and feel depressed in my pajamas.

  39. Hawk, you and my husband would really get along great. He loves the dark side….in the very best way, of course.

    AndrewJDavis, I love astronomy, so I assume that you are super cool. You probably understand all the lines of “Hie to Kolob”.

  40. Ron (#46) – I am not sure whether you and I heard it from the same source, but I have also heard the same rumor, in this case specifically for Elder Holland. I am uncomfortable with the rumor, but the source sounds legit, unfortunately.

    Sigh.

  41. Well, of my hope list, #6 was realized. Speaker positioning was very helpful, and I thought his talk was excellent.

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