Sunday, October 5, 2008

Some impressions from general conference (Oct 2008)

One thing I very much love about watching general conference is the singing of the choir. Their delivery is extraordinarily different from many choirs I hear that sing sacred music, and because it is different I find myself listening in a different way.

One way their delivery is different is that it is slower. In general I dislike slowness in sacred music because it can make it take forever, but for some reason when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings slowly I find myself becoming more and more quiet and calm. I notice that I sit completely still, almost not daring to breathe and my body seems to become one big ear, listening and feeling the music and the message of the words. It is at this time that I realize how hymns, the song of the heart, have become a prayer to the Lord, because the thoughtfulness and sheer reverence are the same required for sincere prayer.


The first talk about food, clothing, shelter, and fuel was very good. I think the bit about keeping the Word of Wisdom is probably very much needed as there are so many people that are having troubles with their health. I am sure that living the law of what is best to eat would go a long way toward lightening the burden of sickness in the church. I have tried it myself and I have found it to keep me more healthy than just avoiding the things that it says to avoid. I challenge everyone to review the Word of Wisdom in Doctrine and Covenants 89 and to test it.


I appreciated Dallen H. Oaks’ talk about sacrament meeting, especially when he mentioned the function of music at church. I am the organist for our ward and one of the things I have experimented with is making different arrangements of chord progressions for the hymns. I like to play them for preludes and postludes…and sometimes if I feel inspired, I use them for congregational hymns’ last verses to give particular emphasis. It was good to be reminded that the music is for worship, not performance. This gives me a good measuring stick for my motives for whatever I do. Am I trying to add to atmosphere of worship, or am I trying to show off my meager talents?


Gerald Causee brought up these good points about studying the scriptures:
  • What would a child understand from reading the story of Christ being
  • baptized?
  • Don’t reject the principle of simplicity and clarity
  • Don’t seek for things we can’t understand, because then God will give it and we will make mistakes.
This idea of reading the scriptures as a child would is fascinating to me. This was a lovely wakeup call for me, because I have been reading the scriptures too much lately with the sole intent of finding things I don’t understand, in order to study them. On one hand, it is good to apply myself to understanding, but when my study is completely given up to searching out the puzzling and incongruous and unclear, that is when my study has gone awry.


I was struck by Elder Quentin L. Cook’s story of how President Monson asked people to celebrate his birthday. “Do something good to help someone who is having a hard time.” What could be more Christ-like than that request? It shows what he really wants—people to help others in need.

If everyone in the church did one good deed each day, that would be more than 13 million good deeds! (For that matter, what if everyone in the world made sure to do something kind each day? 6 billion kindnesses!)

What if everyone in the church shared something about the gospel each day? That would be more than 13 million people taught!

What if everyone in the church above the age of 12 became worthy of a temple recommend and then went to the temple at least once a month? How many new temples would we need?

In 2006 I once calculated in the roundest of numbers that it would take 35 youth and 5200 adults to fill the Mesa Temple if that amount were to go every day. Our stake has over 6000 people in it. I can’t quite remember the assumptions I used for my calculations, so it may need to be recalculated, but the thing I learned from the exercise was that each temple has a finite volume that can be filled and if we do the math we will see what it takes to fill the nearest temple’s capacity. It may be easier than we think and take fewer people than we think. When we fill the temple, the Lord gives us more of them and puts them closer so that we can go more often.

(Image credit - Andrew Ainsworth, Mormon Matters blog,