Saturday, 3 September 2011

Mormon General Conference: Blessing or Boredom?

I just got the latest Ensign through my door (September 2011 edition). I always promise myself I will write about something in the magazine but never seem to get around to it. Anyway, others seem to do a good enough job of it so no pressure. But this caught my eye today and I just had to do something with it. We are asking the question, Is General Conference No Ordinary Blessing, as suggested by Dieter Uchtdorf of the first presidency?

He tells of a Mormon who spoke to his non- Mormon neighbour about his faith and the subject of general conference came up.

“You say you have prophets and apostles? And twice a year in a worldwide conference they reveal the word of God"?” asked the neighbour.

“Absolutely!” the Mormon replied enthusiastically.

“What did they say in the last general conference?” the neighbour asked.


“You mean to tell me,” the neighbour said,” that God speaks to man in our day and you can’t remember what he said?”

How embarrassing!

Now, of course, we all know whose fault this is. Yes, that’s right – its your fault for not paying attention! Three specific examples of LDS tardiness are given and here are three suggestions of my own for how to get over these problems and a get out strategy for those times when you are caught out like our friend in this anecdote (MY but they like their anecdotes since Monson took up the reins. I think they should change the name to The Church of Jesus Christ of Anecdote Saints”:


  1. Mormons are entitled to ‘personal revelation’ and are just not listening: Well, maybe these people are not ‘worthy’ enough to listen so I suggest Mormon sisters adopt the burka. This will stop sisters coming to conference thinking “I look more worthy than you. Your skirt is too short and you just can’t be wearing garments under that top.” And it will stop the Mormon men thinking…well, you know what their thinking.
  2. Mormons assume if they’ve heard it all before they can discount it: I suggest we all meet up sometime the following week and have a pub quiz about conference talks – loser buys the drinks. It might be turned into a board game in which losers are given a card saying, “Go directly to the bishop’s office for a temple recommend interview, do not pass the sacrament, do not collect tithing.”
  3. Mormons are simply not listening to to and following the Holy Spirit and not using their personal Liahona: I suggest the Liahona be developed as an application for the IPhone and then no one will forget it, or forget to use it. And if things get desperate members can look like their using the Liahona while actually texting friends, playing games or checking the time in Kuala Lumpur.


Well, in any event, it might surprise you to know that I can remember what was said in the last general conference – nothing much. But if you build in your mind a rough template of stock phrases, dictums, anecdotes and aphorisms you can usually blag your way, Tom Ripley style, when all else follows:

“My beloved brothers and sisters, welcome to this the umpteenth world conference of the church, this is a wonderful building; our youth are the best in the world; the church continues to grow; there’s going be a new temple in Brighamborough; love your wives brethren; sisters you are so precious to us; young men prepare for a mission; young women prepare for celestial marriage; the Book of Mormon is the word of God; the church is true, Joseph was a prophet and we are led by a prophet in these latter days, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Memorise this and not only will you save face in most social settings but you will give a reasonably accurate account of the last general conference - the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that, and…