Saturday Morning Session

Since we’re not doing open threads during the sessions of conference, we’re trying to start comment threads at the end of the session, so that once you have heard and thought a little about the entire session and the individual talks.

So take your notes during the sessions, and let us know after the session is over.

Here’s a few thoughts on Saturday Morning’s session of conference. I’d welcome your thoughts also.

  • Elder Neal L. Andersen was selected to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.More about him is available onWikipedia and on Grandpa Bill’s GA Pages.
  • The Perpetual Education Fund has given financial assistance to 35,600 college students and 18,900 have finished degrees with that assistance.

Speakers:

  • Elder Hales — spoke about what it means to follow the principles of provident living. I know that the ideas he talked about have been communicated before, but I have the feeling that in today’s culture (at least in the US), its a message we need more and more. I wish I believed that most LDS Church members in the US and other wealthy countries were actually listening to this.
  • Sister Margaret Lifferth, 1st Counselor in the Primary Presidency — Reverence. IMO, a fine talk. Particularly notable are: 1. Her suggestions that it is irreverant to text and use electonic devices (except if you have your scriptures on them, I assume) during sacrament meeting and other Church meetings. 2. Her suggestion that we must have respect for others, even those with whom we have political disagreements (a principle we try to enforce here on Times and Seasons).
  • Elder Michael A. Neider of the Young Men’s Presidency — Talked about the need for faith and its application in the Aaronic Priesthood — told the story of a teacher’s quorum president in Mexico who was learning Spanish and managed to reactivate members of his quorum (I’m not doing justice to the story).
  • Elder Allan F. Packer — Spoke on personal revelation
  • Elder D. Todd Christofferson — Wonderfuld talk for exploring grace vs. works. Talked about an earthquake in Peru.
  • Elder Henry B. Eyring — Spoke about the blessings of adversity.

Also notable was that at least three of the talks (those by Elder Hales, Elder Christofferson and Elder Eyring) discussed the worldwide economic downturn and its effect on Church members and others.

I’m afraid I was distracted a bit during part of the session, so I’m not sure I caught everything notable.

What did you hear?

12 comments for “Saturday Morning Session

  1. April 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I loved how Elder Hales grouped addictions and going into debt. It especially interesting when you consider the specific things he discussed, such as how the reason why individuals struggle with these things is because they’re not content with what they have. This has always seemed intuitive with regard to debt, but I’d never thought about it with regard to addiction. Thinking about it now, it makes sense. It seems that we turn to our addictions (or rather, the activities that we’re addicted to) to escape something in our lives that we aren’t settled with or don’t want to face, and that if we’d be content with that (acknowledging it) and then work on improving that we’d be happier. It’s like excessive debt – being content with what we have doesn’t mean we need to never buy anything again, we just need to acknowledge where we’re at and what we have and then work on improving towards our goals in a measured and deliberate fashion.

  2. Amy
    April 4, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Elder Hales’ talk also hit home for me. I really pondered it quite a bit.

    Enjoyed Pres. Monson’s opening and his reference to Pres. Hinckley.

    Gave my husband a very I-told-you-so look during the “reverent talk” by the primary counselor when she referred to the blackberries and cell phones. Can’t tell you how many men I’ve seen whipping those babies out in sacrament mtg.

    Felt a resolve to be more reverent and respectful in the home. Then got a bit depressed later that evening when my five-year-old was pushing me to my limit. sigh.

  3. Amy
    April 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Oh, by the way, love Pres. Anderson. Think he will do fabulously. Living in the south, I don’t have any
    “g.a. stories,” so kind of excited that I actually know one…he used to be our stake president. Fabulous man and family.

  4. April 4, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Amy, the “texting during Church” thing is something that seems obvious, but I know its been done quite a bit. I was surprised to get a text during priesthood meeting last week (especially because I don’t text if I can avoid it, and dislike doing it — it feels so cumbersome compared to email!!)

    I do distract somewhat easily, so I should avoid it. Instead I’ll be distracted by a book, or my weekly letter to my missionary son. [GRIN]

  5. April 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Our young women’s presidency have adopted a policy to confiscate all cell phones during each mutual night because of the problem they had with the young ladies doing too much texting instead of their activity.

  6. April 5, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Responding to Elder Hales’ talk (cut and paste from the BCC sister-thread to this one):

    You know, I appreciate the advice to be frugal and avoid excessive wants, but…

    As a bankruptcy attorney, I’ve dealt with this day-in and day-out. And here’s what I’ve found –

    My clients ARE frugal. They HAVE avoided excess. They WERE responsible.

    Guess what?

    It didn’t keep them out of bankruptcy.

    Furthermore, his advice to be frugal does nothing for those already IN debt. When you are spending two thirds of your income in debt payments, telling people to be more frugal really doesn’t do much.

    Contrary to popular belief, the reason for most bankruptcies is not “stupid greedy people with credit cards.”

  7. April 5, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    “Contrary to popular belief, the reason for most bankruptcies is not “stupid greedy people with credit cards.””

    What is the reason for most of the bankruptcies you’ve seen?

  8. April 6, 2009 at 12:05 am

    I believe there are several reasons for bankruptcy. Divorce is a big one, as is lack of health coverage when some expensive health issue arises. I hope Seth R. pops by again for a more complete explanation.

  9. April 6, 2009 at 1:11 am

    There are a few reasons. Here are the ones I encounter in order of importance (just my own experience):

    1. Job loss (this wasn’t always #1, but it is right now)

    2. The adjustable rate mortgage crisis

    3. Health care costs (often from people who HAD health coverage)

    4. Out of control credit card costs. Yes, financial foolhardiness does factor in. But the out of control costs are not always for irresponsible reasons – mind.

    5. Divorce.

    I can’t speak for everyone or everywhere else. But that’s what I see.

    Credit card debt is involved in almost every bankruptcy I file. Often the costs are quite significant and unmanageable. But the credit cards were not usually the motivating factor (I’d say only 30% of my clients have credit cards as an original reason for the bankruptcy). Usually credit cards were a later addition to the debt portfolio. A desperate last gasp to keep financially afloat in the face of an unworkable financial situation, or in the hopes that things will improve soon – and they never did.

    People aren’t using the cards to go buy a bigscreen TV. They’re using them to keep the lights and heat on.

    Much more significant as causes for bankruptcy are the big-ticket borrowing items – house and student debt. Car debt usually factors in, but doesn’t seem to be a frequent causal factor. Usually the car debt I encounter is sensible, and I don’t see a lot of extravagance here.

    Buying more home than you should has been a big problem the last twenty years. But it’s hard to fault people too much for this. Remember that a lot of financial planners have been recommending home investment as a primary part of an investment portfolio. With rising home prices, people could expect to make a good return on investment at sale, even if they never managed to pay off a ton of the debt. A lot of people were banking on these home investments.

    Advice in general conference occasionally addressed buying too much home. But the big take-away message I got from past conferences was that debt is bad EXCEPT when buying a home or paying for college.

    Thus we were left with a loophole for Mormon borrowers that exempted EXACTLY the precise borrowing item that is now giving a big chunk of my clients grief. It’s hard to resist the pull of home ownership. It seems so wholesome, so “American.” And then you’ve got loan officers – whom you assume know more than you do – giving you some song and dance about how you qualify for this home and how it’s affordable to you. And, they’d surely tell you if you weren’t a good candidate for a loan this size, right?

    There was an element of borrower stupidity here. But I think stupid lending was an even bigger factor. Then the mortgage adjusts and people hope to hold on “just until things start looking up again.” People take out credit cards in an attempt to meet costs and hold onto their home – the single largest item in their investment profile. I’ve seen people borrow out their 401ks, make serious cutbacks in spending, try for second jobs, sell off personal property, and borrow against credit cards in an attempt to stay afloat.

    It’s the same story with the job loss clients.

    Usually the final straw is when one of the credit card lenders ambushes them with a surprise interest rate hike (often dishonestly). Sometimes this new 33% interest rate is enough to convince people they are in trouble. Sometimes it’s not and they try to shift debt from one card to another. Usually these people come around when one of the collection agencies sues them and garnishes 25% of their wages.

    When they reach my office they are humiliated and broken. They sincerely never thought they’d be doing something like bankruptcy. They weren’t raised to go for bankruptcy. They were always taught to pay off your debts and meet your obligations.

    Sad thing is, I’d say about 60% of my clients are age 50 and older. These aren’t the young spendthrifts you usually think of when you think of bankruptcy.

    Back in 2005, the estimate was that more kids in America would experience their parents going through a bankruptcy than through a divorce. That number can only have climbed since.

    It’s really bad news right now. People are getting run over by this economy – often for factors that weren’t really their fault.

    And I just don’t see the same old platitudes about saving your pennies, and not buying new stuff as being all that helpful (true as the certainly are). When you’ve just lost your job, or your mortgage is hemorrhaging, or your kid just went through a year of therapy and the jackasses at your insurance company found some loophole for why they don’t have to cover you, I’m sorry, but Elder Hales talk is not going to be incredibly helpful. It’s more like stating the obvious. People are going to be forced to take the measures he describes, because there simply won’t be any money available for anything besides groceries and utilities.

    Maybe I’m being cynical, but I don’t think the economy is really all that fair right now. I don’t think the present economy is rewarding all those “pioneer virtues.” This financial storm is falling on the just and the unjust. If you survive it, count yourself lucky – because I honestly think luck had more to do with it than virtue.

    And since we still haven’t had the home borrowing or student loan borrowing loopholes closed in General Conference addresses, I don’t expect well-intentioned talks like Elder Hales’ to have a huge impact.

  10. April 6, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Admittedly, the Church is concerned with more than just the American market, and it is hard to tailor a message to the entire LDS audience of General Conference.

  11. JAT
    April 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Don’t forget that even healthy tithe-paying mormons can wind up in some sort of testimony-building medical thing and in less than a week’s time, owe more to a hospital than your entire net worth, even after the insurance company pays its share.

  12. JAT
    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    And-
    Although I appreciate the reminders to be ‘thrifty’, I also realize that so often these homolies are given by very successful business men (or persons) or GAs who are protected from some of the above-mentioned economic storms and pitfalls by the church’s umbrella for GAs (life insurance, health insurance, stipends, book deals, fleet auto, etc.)

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