Some time ago, I started putting together lists of the books mentioned and referenced in General Conference Talks. So during the Priesthood Session I started wondering what would be referenced in the printed version of Elder Eyring’s talk.
The talk, titled “Man Down!” included Elder Eyring’s telling of a story widely known as “Black Hawk Down,” which has been both a bestselling book and an R-rated Hollywood movie. After the session, I began to wonder whether Elder Eyring’s talk would reference the movie or the book. I assumed it would reference the book, since the movie was rated R.
I was wrong.
In fact, Elder Eyring’s citation was not to the book, nor was it to the movie. Instead it was to a completely unexpected source: The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual. Since I haven’t read it I can’t say, but I suspect that this version isn’t nearly as detailed or dramatic as either the book or the movie.
I don’t want to make a big deal about Elder Eyring’s reading habits, but I have to admit to being curious about why anyone who isn’t in the military or a reporter covering the military, or at least a military enthusiast, would read a military field manual. I have to assume that either Elder Eyring is an enthusiast to some degree, or someone pointed out the story to him there.
In any case, the list is fun. Of course it demonstrates a lot about what we see as authoritative sources in the LDS Church. I’ve omitted references to scriptures, Church magazines and to Church manuals, which are the most frequent citations. Even so, Conference talks rely on books by LDS Prophets, Apostles and General Authorities above anything else.
But when we get beyond these sources, the citations often say a lot about the General Authority’s personality. President Monson, for example, cited The Music Man in one of his talks last Fall. Doesn’t that seem just like what he would do? Fun, good-hearted and loveable match his personality to the musical (and I say that even though I don’t particularly like musicals!). And is it any surprise that Elder Oaks would cite a somewhat dense and metaphorical work like Mere Christianity?
On the other hand, there are often surprises, such as Elder Eyring’s citation of The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual and “Black Hawk Down.”
I don’t want to make too much of all this. To me this is simply a fun exercise. Over the long term I hope to compile a list of the most frequently cited books in General Conference. (At this point, I’m fairly sure that History of the Church will win). Until then I will continue to be surprised at many of the works mentioned.
And, I’ll wonder if referencing a book isn’t a kind of endorsement, to some small degree. I think I have already convinced my High Priests Group leader that Elder Eyring’s talk means we can watch “Black Hawk Down” at our next group activity. <GRIN>
You can see the compilations of books cited in General Conference here: