General Conference seems to come and go so quickly now. This must have something to do with the ease of streaming it live into every home — 10 hours of Conference in one weekend is more than enough for most of us. Once upon a time getting the Conference Ensign was a treat. Not so much anymore. The Conference cycle seems to have been compressed into just a few days, like binge-watching a TV series on Netflix. That’s not really what I’m going to talk about, just something I have particularly noticed this Conference cycle. Anyone else feel this way?
So here is a short example from President Nelson’s talk Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives that I feel strangely ambivalent about. On the one hand, I can’t help but admire any teenager who stands on principle and chooses a church commitment over a school activity or (the more ususal scenario) who chooses to skip a soccer game that is scheduled on Sunday. On the other hand, I don’t like that we have rather unquestioningly adopted the Jewish sabbath rule model as the way of celebrating Sunday, the Lord’s day, and that we sometimes pressure friends, neighbors, and our youth to conform to that model.
Here is the vignette in President Nelson’s talk.
Recently I learned of a fearless young Laurel. She was invited to participate in a statewide competition for her high school on the same evening she had committed to participate in a stake Relief Society meeting. When she realized the conflict and explained to competition officials that she would need to leave the competition early to attend an important meeting, she was told she would be disqualified if she did so.
What did this latter-day Laurel do? She kept her commitment to participate in the Relief Society meeting. As promised, she was disqualified from the statewide competition. When asked about her decision, she replied simply, “Well, the Church is more important, isn’t it?”
I know an LDS youth who was an outstanding high school wrestler, but never won the state championship. In the state tournaments, he never lost a match, but forfeited the final match because it was on Sunday. He is presently serving an LDS mission. I can be proud of the choices he made, but at the same time feel that he earned the right to compete for the title and should have had that chance, at least once.
Back in California, I somehow got drafted as a youth soccer coach for one year. The final game was on Sunday. Our block meeting started at 9 am and the match started at noon. As the coach, I felt that I had a commitment to support the players, so I went to sacrament meeting, then changed and went over to the field to be there an hour before the match started. My son was on the team. We let him make his own choice. He chose to go to all the meetings, then hustle over to the game (changed in the car, I think) and only miss a few minutes.
I’m sure every reader has a similar story.