Do people attend the chapel to watch this session of Conference, even when they get it in their home? That has been the custom in some places where I have lived, but I stayed at home, not wanting to discover any such custom here. Not to diminish any of the talks, but I thought the highlight of this session was Liriel Domiciano. Wow!
James E. Faust: Started by addressing the “glut of information” available on the internet. (Has he been visiting Times & Seasons?) The concern is that too much information will obscure the main message. He talked about the importance of personal revelation and compared it to receiving radio messages. This analogy resonates with me, but I wonder if my children can relate. The mobile phone analogy (“spiritual dead spots”) is a better one for this generation. At the end of his talk, he mentioned that he had been a counselor for President Hinckley for nine years. Nine years? Wow! Time flies when your’e building temples.
L. Tom Perry: “Satan is working overtime to enslave the souls of men.” His target: the family. Much of the talk was devoted to the importance of fathers. Among other things, he told fathers (1) lead a “family-centered life”; (2) be a teacher; (3) provide for the family in temporal things. Also, he emphasized the importance of two parents, man and woman, as a fundamental building block of society. I don’t think I have ever seen Elder Perry speak with such vigor. (My prediction: this will be the most talk-about talk of the entire Conference.)
Elder Simmons? Missed most of it.
Julie B. Beck: Motherhood … mother heart. “Female roles did not begin on earth and will not end here.” She spoke of the “eternal mission of motherhood.” She spoke of a group of women who had attained advanced degrees from leading universities, and now were turning their substantial talents toward planning dinner. (I can’t decide whether to be a reporter or commentator, but I may take back my prediction about Elder Perry’s talk. This could easily be the most-talked about talk.)
Boyd K. Packer: What does the future hold? I was so pleased to see the talk turn from “fear of the future” to “hope for the future.” He later read from Helaman 12:3, “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” Have you ever noticed the word “terror” there, Elder Packer asked. (Actually, no.) Despite this, he is not afraid because he has faith. The stories about disease are repeats from CES training that I had earlier this year. Finally, he compared baptism to an inoculation (“eye within”).
Gordon B. Hinkley: these are perilous times, but times of hope. “We of this generation are the end harvest of all that has gone before.” He said that we must reach out, beyond the Church, to work with others, and affirmed that we can do this without sacrificing our doctrine. Calls our time a “unique and remarkable season.” (Is it my imagination, or is the “last days” theme stronger in this Conference than in most others recently?)
Finally, this simple question: can you think of any area of your life in which you know the middle (or first) initials of everyone you encounter? When I started using my middle name — changing my name from “Douglas G. Smith” to “D. Gordon Smith” — one of my friends jokingly accused me of having GA aspirations. Shortly after, I left Utah and I have been moving regularly ever since! It seems to be working, and I think my affiliation with Times & Seasons should crush that sort of speculation forever.