Twice a year I look forward immensely to an entire weekend of chilling at home in my pajamas, making cinnamon rolls out of the can (yes, sub-par as far as Mormon domesticism goes, but a step up from cold cereal for me) and watching General Conference. For those of you who don't know, General Conference is a huge meeting held in Salt Lake in April and October in which the President and Prophet of the Church, the Twelve Apostles and other major leaders address the Church membership as a whole. It is translated into lots and lots of languages and broadcast by television, radio, satellite and on the net. The men and women who speak are outstanding and have a genuine concern for the people of the world, even those who aren't Mormon. I would highly recommend tuning in sometime. Great people, great messages. Also the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Anyway, this weekend's conference was a little unusual for me. Since there are four sessions, each two hours long, with an average of six to eight speakers per session, I take notes to help me remember stuff I think is interesting or thoughts that come to me while I'm listening. Generally, there are noticeable themes that pervade General Conference (for example, the importance of staying out of debt, the bad influence of pornography, missionary work, etc.); even though the speakers are never assigned topics or told what they should speak about. This Conference, however, there wasn't any concrete theme that I could pick out, besides the extremely broad yet very important concept of charity. There were no fire-breathing sermons (although granted, I wasn't in the Priesthood session) about chastity or any of the typical problems that leaders of th Church often address. Just peace and love and a carefully masked talk about non-violence that sounded like it could have been written by Gandhi. It was quite refreshing. Here are some of the impressions I wrote down yesterday and today.
* Simplify my life. I guess the speaker (L. Tom Perry) did mention debt in that one.
*I don't take enough advantage of the Book of Mormon in my life. I should be excited to come home and read it every day.
*The best way for me to be a missionary now is to radiate the peace, love and happiness that I feel because of Christ and the role He plays in my life.
*I need to write more often to people I taught on my mission.
*If I feel inadequate (um, like every day), an important part of being a disciple of Christ is having the faith to get past my inadequacy, knowing that God will make up for what I cannot do.
*"Faith is not only a feeling. It is a decision." Neil A. Anderson.
*Do not recoil from the will of God. I really like that image.
*The main focus of Sacrament Meeting should be the Atonement of Jesus Christ. "Don't violate your covenant to always remember Him in the very meeting you are making it."
*Make sure I am doing everything I can to qualify for the cleansing power of the Atonement.
*Faith, hope, and charity will stabilize my life no matter my situation.
*Hope and despair cannot co-exist.
*Jesus Christ is the hope of all mankind.
*The Holy Ghost can help me perfect my hope in the gospel and everything else.
*"Come what may, and love it." Joseph B. Wirthlin's mom.
*The Lord compensate for every loss in His own way.
*Even Christ had need of Heavenly comfort--there is no shame in seeking it.
*I can manifest the love of God to others through my kindness.
*God always adapts to anyone's level of understanding. He would fail to be a merciful god if He only spoke to some elite group and not to others.
*The goal of all gospel teaching is to turn people's hearts toward Christ.
*Christ is the only way to happiness and fulfillment. "Any other way is madness." Lawrence E. Corbridge.
*I can't wait for Zion to be established to make the world a better place. I have to make the world a better place so that Zion can be established when the time is right.
*My prayers throughout the day need to be less discrete--more like a frequent counseling with Heavenly Father. That is how I can really "pray always."
*"Meekness is not weakness." Robert D. Hales.
*I need to utilize the gospel to "lift up desperate souls."
*I need to acknowledge God's hand in all things.
*Part of the charge to be merciful is to be merciful to governments. Being patriotic and realistic, but always trying to improve things instead of becoming cynical or losing faith in the system.
*When I reject an offered gift from God, I am also rejecting Him.
*The key to a happy marriage is selflessness. I hear that so often, it must be true.
*I need to live so I can always welcome Christ into my life.
Also, M. Russell Ballard mentioned Burma, and Thomas S. Monson mentioned Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. That made me so happy. Oh yeah, and Elaine S. Dalton sad something about how young people should not be "ever texting, yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth." Forced, but still funny.
I like General Conference.