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April 2017 General Conference Review Pt 2

Today Mormon Discussion Podcast and Radio Free Mormon combine our thoughts into a two part Conference Review of the April 2017 General Conference.  We look back in part one at Saturday’s Sessions and in Part two we hit on the Sunday Sessions along with some themes that run throughout conference.  We hope you enjoy


24 thoughts on “April 2017 General Conference Review Pt 2”

  1. Regarding the comparison of President Monson’s talk and President Uchtdorf’s, I don’t think they are necessarily contradictory. There are issues today with acceptance of immoral behavior as normal, whether someone puts LGBT issues in that category or not. Simultaneously, there are great blessings to live in this day and time. These blessings are the very things that can be used to strengthen us against changing moral values in our society.

    I think different people also respond to different messages. Messages with fear seem to be most useful in getting people to stop undesirable behavior. Messages with hope seem to be most useful in getting people to start desirable behavior. So it may be that their complementary messages are simply reaching to affect different audiences based on individual circumstances.

    I also have a different interpretation of the Nov 2015 policy change regarding ordinances for minor children who have a parent in a same-sex marriage. My first question when I heard of the change was how it related to children who have parents in a polygamous marriage. The policy is the same in both cases. In both cases, a parent is in a formal relationship that is contrary to the current church teachings as outlined in the Proclamation on the Family. In the same-sex marriage case, they have entered into a legal contract codifying the relationship. Minor children are also not baptized without parental consent. But they can still participate in all other aspects of church instruction and service other than ordinances. I don’t consider these to be punishing anyone – just delaying things until they become an adult and are no longer a dependent of a parent who is committed to practices contrary to church teachings. This is contrasted to others who are in inappropriate relationships – straight or gay – that have not been formally codified. This interview on Leading LDS discusses a case like this.

    I’m enjoying your commentary and discussion even when I don’t agree. May the Lord warm your shoulders.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Ed.

      I especially appreciate your closing paragraph where you say you enjoy the commentary and discussion even when you don’t agree. That is the crux of the matter as far as I am concerned.

      And I am thankful to Bill Reel for giving me a chance to voice my opinions and let other people take them or leave them as they see fit.

      Thanks again for your comments!


  2. This was an awesome episode. RFM is a great addition too. Toward the end of the episode I couldn’t help but reflect on a gospel principles lesson on honesty. In the manual we see the following: “We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.”
    The part about telling only part of the truth really sticks out to me. Thanks again. Hope to hear much more on the future.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Ben! You appear to be in a distinct minority of commenters so far that find me a “great addition”!

      You may also be in the distinct minority who will be interested to know that I am working furiously on a solo RFM podcast that will review General Conference which should be appearing this weekend.

      There were many things left unsaid in the two-part podcast Bill and I did.

      If people thought I was uncharitable in the two podcasts already released, suffice it to say they ain’t seen nothing yet!

      But I give you this promise–I may not say everything I know, but everything I say will be as true and correct as I can possibly make it!

      All the Best!


      1. RFM.
        please excuse the lateness of my reply. I appreciate your promise, and wanted to clarify what I meant when I gave the quote from Gospel Principles. I thought it applied to many of the speakers in general conference and not so much yourself. Thought it is good counsel for all of us to follow. Cheers!

  3. I think Bill is being very generous regarding Christofferson’s talk. I don’t think orthodox members are pricked in their heart with respect to those at the margins by this talk. I see this talk as solely affirming orthodox members and condemning progressive members. That Bill sees more in this talk is more of a reflection of Bill’s generosity than Christofferson’s intent. I know its anecdotal, but none of my orthodox family members indicated any comprehension of Bill’s interpretation. Rather, my orthodox family members interpreted it as the “us versus them” message that I heard.

    1. I will have to let Bill answer this for himself.

      I had a hard time following Elder Christofferson’s talk, myself.

      It was one of those quintessential General Conference talks that put me in a semi-catatonic state.

      I have asked myself why that should be, and I think at least one reason is that so many talks, and this one in particular, seem to talk about so much in airy theory without actually talking about specifics.

      I know that the GA’s are often trying to address specific situations, and I feel Elder Christofferson was trying to do that, as well.

      But it would be really helpful to me as a listener if they would just talk about what they are talking about instead of talking all around it, which seems to be the customary practice.

      Thanks for listening!


  4. Sorry to push back a little bit Bill,I need to remind you ….Christofferson was quoting a writer when speaking of the Guilt and Shame cultures….these were NOT his words. In fact after saying “end quote”, he contrasts that quote with the Savior’s option which is different than both options….then makes the reference to the Church as the correct culture in a sense.. This is a hige miss here. Elder C. did not, again, agree with shame or guilt cultures, he brought those up and shut them down.

    1. Hi, Randall.

      You mention Elder Christofferson’s talk, too.

      You say Bill completely misunderstood his talk, and maybe that is possible. I will let Bill answer for himself.

      But I know that Bill is a smart guy, and you are doubtless a smart guy, too. And yet you both had completely opposite interpretations of the core message of Elder Christofferson’s talk.

      To me, the “huge miss” is not your interpretation or Bill’s interpretation, but Elder Christofferson’s talk that was apparently given in such a way as to render it susceptible to completely opposite understandings.

      This gets back to my criticism that such talks are big on theory and short on specifics, leaving people to wonder what is actually being addressed and what the message means.

      Just a thought.

  5. So a couple of things.

    FUkishima story probably doesn’t register on anyone’s story, perhaps less than 1% of the people will actually care (only those with ties in Japan). To those that care, well this can be an issue, but I couldn’t care less but perhaps should care more.

    I got the impression that President Monson speech was written for him rather than something that he actually wrote himself.

    My comment for RFM is to remember to be more charitable for without Charity we are nothing. You’re borderline coming across as a church hater. Love you brother, unfortunately I’m afraid you’re more right than wrong in your overall conclusions.

    In the end, how do we make church better. I like the NY times idea that all progressive liberal inactive members return to church activity to restore balance reason and complete the choir otherwise we risk singing off key.

    Love you all.

    1. Thanks for your comments, David.

      I appreciate that, even though you feel I am “borderline coming across as a church hater,” you nevertheless feel I may be more right than wrong in my overall conclusions.

      Please understand that I am not a “church hater,” though. I hate the sin, but love the sinner!

      Here is where I am at in my own personal journey–The LDS Church exerts great control and influence over its members. As far as the leadership is concerned, everything goes smoothly until the members start talking back to the leadership.

      That is to be avoided at all costs, and so we get multiple talks in General Conference and lesson manuals about how we are all supposed to “face the right way,” and “follow the prophet,” and “sing the right lyrics” in the choir.

      But the reason Jesus was heroic wasn’t because he was nice to the downtrodden, but because he spoke truth to power.

      And the power he spoke the truth to was the religious leaders of his day. In fact, the Pharisees were likely the leaders of Jesus’s own religion.

      Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day unmercifully. But if Jesus lived in our day, he would be violating the LDS Church’s proscription on members criticizing the leaders.

      “You should not criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.”

      Now, I am not claiming to be Jesus or anything. That’s not the point. The point is I have to stop and ask myself what would Jesus be doing and saying today if he were a member of the LDS Church.

      Would he be going along to get along like the leaders encourage the members to do? Or would he be . . . well . . . acting like Jesus?

      Thanks for listening!


      1. RFM,

        And once again you’re right. Among my circles, I’m a church hater too… (imagine that)? Even though I deeply love the Church and what it stands for I want to criticize and correct the wrong aspects of it even if it means that I will be hated and criticized for it. I’m just trying how to do that in a charitable way.

        I hope I can stand shoulder to shoulder with you and be voice of reason like that of what which Christ was during his day with his institution. But dare I say I hope I’m not crucified in the process of doing so.

        What do you think?

        1. Here is what I think, David.

          You remember that scene in Jaws where Chief Brodie and Matt Hooper are trying to convince the Mayor that there is a big shark off the coast of Amity ready and waiting to gobble up tourists on the Fourth of July?

          And you remember how the Mayor refuses to be convinced because he doesn’t want to be convinced, because it would be bad for the tourism industry of the little town?

          And do you remember how frustrated Hooper gets with the Mayor’s refusal to listen to all the evidence that shows there actually is a shark?

          And do you remember how the Mayor says to Brody and Hooper, “I don’t think either one of you are familiar with our problems!”

          And do you remember how Hooper yells back at the Mayor: “I’m familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!”

          That’s what I think.

  6. Another message that was repeated by multiple speakers: staying in the church resulted in hundreds of faithful family members.

    Regarding paying tithing first, the new self reliance courses the church is offering state that tithing be paid first. When teach about budgets they teach that tithing is the first expense. The courses also teach that God will withhold assistance during financial crisis if you are not a full tith payer.

    1. Thanks for the insight, James!

      It is strange that the LDS Church advocates dependence on the institution in a course about self reliance.



  7. I’ve been surprised regarding the reactions to Christofferson’s talk (or the lack thereof). For example, the duty to warn, with the nuance that warning is really loving, results in this statement:

    “Surely love would compel parents to warn their closest “neighbors”—their own children. This means teaching and testifying of gospel truths. It means teaching children the doctrine of Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.17 The Lord reminds parents, “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”

    And warning is not just teaching:

    “A crucial element of the parental duty to warn is to paint not only the demoralizing consequences of sin but also the joy of walking in obedience to the commandments.”

    And, to follow Jesus, we must follow his example:

    “Jesus taught his followers to do as he did: to welcome everyone but also to teach about sin, since love demands warning people about what can hurt them.”

    Since when does love demand warning people? And who are we to make the decision for others about what can and cannot hurt them?

    We are being taught that it is our duty to warn which requires making a judgment regarding the conduct of our children and friends.

    And, how do we make that judgment?

    Christofferson explains:

    “How much better it is to have the unchanging law of God by which we may act to choose our destiny rather than being hostage to the unpredictable rules and wrath of the social media mob.”

    Really?? the unchanging law of God?

    Then, after the first part of the talk sets up the virtues of following the example of Jesus by warning, he says this:

    “We trust that especially you of the rising generation, youth and young adults on whom the Lord must rely for the success of His work in future years, will sustain the teachings of the gospel and the standards of the Church in public as well as in private. [Remember…the “unchanging” teachings of the gospel] Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to floundering and failing in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering. Remember the Savior’s promise:

    “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

    “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

    So…it’s our parents, our friends, and others, who we should warn when their conduct goes against the “unchanging” teachings of the church.

    The last paragraph clothes the duty to warn in this language:

    “May we each be able to say to the Lord with David: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me.

    In the end, therefore, to be “acceptable to God” we must actively engage in warning people who do not toe the line with the current church’s position on issues such as marriage. The fact that Christofferson did not mention homesexual marriage does not excuse the “open season” that has now been declared on them by their parents, friends, and siblings all dressed up as love.

    That is my take….a very dangerous doctrine….IMHO.

    1. Thanks for your insightful analysis, Glen. You should have been on the podcast!

      You know, digging into all the talks in General Conference can be mind-numbing, and I totally missed all of the meaning you found in Elder Christofferson’s talk.

      Nice work!


  8. RFM,
    I found myself agreeing with you on almost every point (OK, every point). It’s always been difficult for me to listen to conference my entire life in the Church. Now, the only way I can listen to conference is by not listening– I read the talks after they are published. I can’t stomach the saccharine, self-righteous tone that most of the speakers adopt. Like listening to Yuriah Heap or some other sycophant. The message often gets lost in the delivery. And most of the time, the message is pablum. But since deciding to separate from the Church, I find no guilt in entirely ignoring conference. So thanks for the summary and analysis.

    1. You are so welcome, Mr. Salt!

      The fact you agree with me on every point assures your place in super special VIP heaven!

      You can just coast from here on out.



  9. After listening, I went back and read Elder Steven’s talk. He clearly states in the beginning of the story that he is only talking about one zone. Anyone that has served a mission or is familiar with mission at all should know there are many zones in the mission. In the mission I served in, zones were 20 to 30 missionaries. This was in the states and I think in other countries zones are probably even smaller. Later he does use the word all missionaries without the addition of “in the zone” but I feel like that can be excused since he mentioned it was only one zone only moments earlier. I was discussing this talk with my daughter at dinner on Sunday night of General Conference, and she mentioned all the missionaries being saved. She’s 8. I told her it was one part of them then. I personally was never confused by this, so I was surprised it was a big deal.

    I agree with the other comments that you were overly nit picky, negative, and cynical. Not what I usually get with Mormon discussions. I think if we were to try and give a talk at general conference talk all these same thing could be said of us. We need to have more love and charity and less cynicism in our world. That is usually the lesson I learned on Mormon discussions podcast but not today. Also, People tend to over emphasis the good part in all story telling naturally. Plus, these talks have been written and rewritten by editors and others, that sometimes edit for time so details may get removed.

    1. I appreciate your point of view, Lexi.

      And I certainly appreciate your listening to me as well as Bill expatiate on General Conference.

      But your last paragraph just looks to me like a laundry list of excuses for Church leaders misleading the members.

      Just saying!


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