Sunday AM Conference Open Thread: Parshall, Murray, and Taysom Edition

This morning, we have a three-guest powerhouse panel of co-hosts, though the post title does make it sound a bit like a law firm.

Ardis Parshall is an independent historian and researcher. Her award-winning blog exploits can be found at

Guy Murrray is an attorney in California. He blogs at

Steve Taysom is a religious studies professor in Ohio. In addition to his books and articles, he does a bit of blogging at

Some ground rules for the open threads:

1. Be Nice.

2. Disagreement with the comments and talks is allowed…mocking is not.

3. This is a faithful..though liberal at times…Mormon blog. The threads will be conducted and moderated accordingly.

I look forward to everyone’s comments. I like Conference with friends.

291 Replies to “Sunday AM Conference Open Thread: Parshall, Murray, and Taysom Edition”

  1. I am making eggs while listening to the Music and the Spoken Word. My 5 year old daughter just made the connection that it is Sunday and we are not leaving, but instead watching church on TV.

    “Cool,” she said. Then she asked if she was allowed to play with friends.

  2. MSW is such an excellent way to get ready for conference. I’ve decided that I need to make some eggs as well.

  3. I feel like the first presidency was all about the welfare program yesterday, everybody else not so much.

    And those of us up here in Alaska laugh at y’all’s discussions of snow.

  4. We need to do a better job helping people recognize the small steps of testimony. It’s no wonder people insist on something dramatic when that’s usually what we emphasize in teaching.

  5. Ardis (#46): Of course, the opposite is possible—i feel like we talk about the little steps so much that some people feel like their big-event experiences must not be valid.

    There might not be a good happy medium, actually.

  6. Well said, Ardis (#46)! My testimony came easily for me, but I know others who struggle with their testimonies. We should be mindful of them.

  7. I think David might be referring to something like a testimony meeting in which someone claims to have had a literal vision or the voice of God. In our current context, that would probably raise an eyebrow or two

  8. By “big event” i mean something that’s a big event for the person themselves, not something like the First Vision or Saul on the road to Damascus.

  9. “Lord what will thou have me do?” Thing is, though as U points out, we have to be in tuned to the small promptings of the Spirit, because it’s quite unlikely our Road to Damascus will be as jarring as was Saul’s . . .

  10. This address made an interesting pivot a couple minutes ago, switching from the need for people to move forward in their individual spiritual lives to the need for people to move forward in their service to others.

  11. Took me a long long long time to see the Lord’s hand in my life. Couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

  12. Being willing to talk about the church at work has led me to discover how many part-member families and (non-hostile) former members of the church i’m surrounded by, giving me more people to talk about spiritual things with. That, of itself, has made the risk of personal openness worth it.

  13. Hey! If there weren’t a Mormon accent, i’d have to find a different job—don’t wish that on me!

    (I’m a sociolinguist, and most of my research these days deals with Mormon and non-Mormon linguistic differences.)

  14. This talk interests me on a variety of levels–many of them professional because of the work I have been doing on Mormon rites of affliction. Is that so wrong?

  15. Not so very wrong, Steve. 🙂

    This is a talk I will appreciate more in the reading afterward. I think there’s a great deal here, but each sentence takes such a big step that it will be easier to read than hear.

  16. Steve (#105): Hey—i spend most of my time listening to L. Tom Perry counting instances of the card-cord merger (the “Spanish Fark” thing). Go ahead and be evil, um, listen for such issues with me.

  17. This talk is painful for me–is this suffering also for my good? Though, if blessings are tied to suffering, I hope that later today I can be kidnapped, raped, tortured, and slowly killed. Just think of the lessons and blessings I would get!

  18. Narrator (#110): Yeah, i know what you mean. Growing up, i felt like a lot of people in my ward were in competition to have the biggest trials. Maybe they were thinking that brought them closer to Jesus’s ultimate trials?

  19. My friend Chris R. suffered from terrible depression. When we were both 16 he went home after sacrament meeting and started the car in his garage. The last time I saw him he was cold and in a coffin. Some trials are too much for the sufferer.

  20. You know, this is all making me think that the stories (are they just urban legends?—one can hope) of early Xians trying to get martyred is a rational, though in my opinion wrong, reaction to the idea that trials are Good Things.

  21. David (#114) and narrator (#110) – When I was in college, the theme among the married wards was to either brag about how well someone was doing (in either school or financially or whatever), or commiserate (and, in a sense, brag) about how many trials they were going through, always followed up with an addendum about how they were thankful for trials. I understand exactly why someone would brag about trials, but it always rubbed me the wrong way.

  22. I’ve long believed that temporal salvation must precede spiritual salvation. Nice to see that idea given a shout-out in general conference. (Makes sense it’d be the presiding bishop to do so.)

  23. April 6, 1936 Welfare program instituted–of course in the midst of the great depression. What about something from this last “great recession” other than pull yourselves up by your boot straps?

  24. This is a better follow-up to the previous talk. Instead of telling the sufferers to suck it up, we can focus on helping the sufferer to be relieved from their pain.

  25. I’ve listened to some of the general conference addresses from when the church welfare plan was just getting started. Yep, Elder Burton’s description of how deeply President Grant felt about this is accurate.

  26. Social justice is a pre-condition to healthy spiritual community.

    Wow, willing to close the temples and the seminaries, but never will stop caring for the poor. Feeling the Lowell Bennion.

  27. Why do we insist on trying to say that we’re not helping people, we’re helping people help themselves? There’s political code words in there, and that bothers me a little.

  28. Self reliance? Wait a minute. What about “Shelf Reliance?” Don’t we all need that wonderful contraption as well? 😉

  29. “No matter how many temples we build, how big the membership grows, how well our public image is, if we fail to help the poor and in need, we are under condemnation.”

    Best quote (well summary of a quote) in GC ever.

  30. I no longer bristle at “self-reliance.” Instead, I focus on the social conditions that make real self-reliance possible. More for another day.

  31. I have to admit it—the story of the Willie & Martin companies has been told so often and in so many ways that the hugeness of it has been bleached for me.

    I find this unfortunate.

  32. As a descendant of some of the dead Willie/Martin folks, I have always thought it would have been even more helpful to stop the handcart companies from leaving so late that year. Uh, nevermind.

  33. There’s an interesting article in the Brian Cannon and Jessie Embry edited collection-Utah in the 20th Century. It’s by Joseph Darowski, “The WPA Versus the Utah Church.” Synopsis:

    “…Other scholars have acknowledged that New Deal officials and the LDS Church leadership clashed over the role of the federal government and the church in meeting the needs of the stat’s residents. Both sides claimed that their own programs best met Utahn’s needs. Joseph F. Darowski describes the way that New Deal administrators, especially a former Utahn and Mormon, Dean Brimhall, contracted with sociologist Louis Wirth to show that the church’s welfare program was NOT (emphasis mine] meeting the needs of its members. Darowski’s new evidence amplifies the disagreements between private, church-run programs and federal ones beyond what other researchers have previously discussed.”

  34. “Be kind to the poor” as final deathbed counsel. That kindness (not just helping them, or even helping them help themselves) isn’t something we focus on very much these days, i’m afraid.

  35. @158, I haven’t heard much about teh pr0n this time around, except for perfunctory references here and there. Which is nice.

  36. I made those cinnamon rolls that Tracy M. posted about yesterday. I totally screwed up the execution, but they were pretty fantastic. Just saying.

  37. #165, I don’t doubt that Eyring gets it. I just don’t like when the blessings for the server are emphasized over the blessings for the served.

    Though, perhaps Eyring does a good job of reaching out and getting service from those who would only do it for self-interest.

  38. @167 Yeah they have backed off a bit. I guess I was thinking about the seemingly endless references that we used to get in the later Hinckley years,

  39. Sure SC Taysom.

    Maybe Brigham Young could have used his magical teleporting walking stick to shoot halfway across the continent and tell Brother Martin that leaving now is a bad idea.

    Can’t imagine why that option didn’t occur to brother Brigham.

  40. Narrator (#170): I felt like that was the point of it—motivate the people who were slacking on it because they’re behaving simply as rational actors, and hopefully they’ll get the spirit of it as they start to participate.

  41. Now that my family is suddenly comfortably middle-class (as opposed to the barely middle-class we’ve been for a long time), i’ve wondered how to live up to the story of the widow and her two mites. Still haven’t really figured it out.

  42. #182, not a zinger. Just an observation that the emphasis on humanitarian aid this conference is due to the welfare anniversary. I recognize that Burton has stressed this. However, besides Burton and Monson’s Oct 09 Sunday AM talk, humanitarian aid and taking care of the poor usually only gets a quick nod in conference talks.

    My hope is that this can continue as an emphasis and primary theme in conference talks. However my guess is that in 6 months it will return to quick nods and de-emphasized.

  43. I wish she’d had one of the longer slots they give to certain other positions—it would have been nice to hear that one a little less rushed.

  44. The idea that the Holy Ghost isn’t a powerful enough god to cut through our own acquired spiritual deafness has always bothered me somewhat.

  45. Revelation can occur either suddenly or gradually. I like that he’s allowing for both possibilities in the same address—we don’t get that very often.

  46. We seldom learn to build ships of curious workmanship all at once–it comes line upon line and precept upon precept. This appears to be how time and eternity work . . .

  47. Guy Murray (#194): Oh, i know. It just seems like the idea that our own lack of preparedness in some way forbids the Holy Ghost from reaching us, well, i’d think the Holy Ghost is more powerful than that.

    Now, the idea that the Holy Ghost can inspire us but we can then choose to ignore it, sure. But that’s not the way it’s generally phrased.

  48. David #199–perhaps it’s a trite example, but I think the idea that inspiration comes to us like radio signals come to tuners is one I believe. If we are not tuned in on the correct frequency, we aren’t going to receive the signal–regardless of how strong.

  49. Guy (#212): Point taken. Of course, right now i live so close to one station’s transmitter that it shows up at a lot of unexpected places on the radio dial (and in the phone line, and in speakers connected to computers, and…)

    I think that what you’re presenting is what it’s like most of the time. I just wish we’d sometimes allow that occasionally (and maybe only when it’s really needed) the Holy Ghost can act like 98.9 FM in the Abbott Loop neighborhood of Anchorage. I mean, it’s not like Saul or Ammon and friends were behaving according to the dictates of God’s will, you know?

  50. David #219–yeah that’s true. And, I confess I don’t have the slightest idea of how it all works. But, the Road to Damascus wasn’t really the finely tuned still small voice. But, I hear what you’re saying . . .

  51. The contrast between the journey to and from the temple was cool—both are difficult and bumpy and all, but the return was coupled with the joy of having received those ordinances.

  52. Guy (#248): Yeah, i’m always amazed at the people who come to Anchorage from Whitehorse regularly, even in the winter. (And there’s no straight-line roads, nor is there direct or even reasonably-priced indirect air service.) That takes dedication i’m not sure i have.

  53. We have a temple just over the border in Juarez. People go, but I don’t have a passport and I also feel fine going to another temple when we visit my parents rather than gamble my life in the world’s most violent city. But that’s just me.

  54. Temples are beacons to a failed and fallen world–beacons of our testimonies that life beyond the grave is real–a place where time intersects with Eternity . . .

  55. BIV, haven’t had occasion to yet. I would have, but for how bad it is. There have been a number of stories on the news since we’ve gotten here of someone going across just to shop or visit family and getting it. The funeral for that famous consolate-related murder last year was held in our chapel. Was in the other ward, but same building. Their orphaned one year old child is with grandparents in our ward. It’s pretty nuts. But on the US side–nary a peep, fortunately. So, no, I’d rather go a little less frequently somewhere else, thank you. So far the worst that’s happened is someone took a wrong turn on the way and was mugged, fortunately.

  56. Great Session! Thanks to Ardis, Guy, and Steve! Also thanks to all who made comments and those who lurked.

    This afternoon, Bored in Vernal will be my co-host.

  57. Yes, Chris. Thanks for inviting me. The conference itself was great, and inviting commenters was a great idea. General Conference is still for me primarily a religious experience, and sharing it with others who recognize it as such will always enhance the experience.

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