General Conference begins in two days. I’m looking forward to it, but not as much to the online responses. You would think that members of a church founded on the concept that God talks to us today through living prophets would have learned to do better over the last couple centuries, but we are clearly still a work in progress.
What I’m specifically not looking forward to is, in ranked order:
3. The fashion critiques. Fortunately, these have gotten rarer, but back in the day, when live blogging conference was a thing, pointing out poor color matches, failed hairstyles, and the crushing sameness of general authority necktie knots passed as a meaningful contribution. Please, let this tradition stay dead.
2. The Monday morning quarterbacking. Sometimes it’s even Sunday evening. Sustaining someone as a prophet, seer, and revelator should probably imply some period of time for contemplation of the possibility that his message actually does apply to you in some way, and then some more time to consider that someone else needed to hear the message even if you didn’t, before rushing online to explain how the words of the prophet are WRONG and OFFENSIVE. A week? Is that too much to ask? Even if there are historians who disagree with the details or interpretation of some anecdote, a medium-committed disciple can usually discover and appreciate the main point of the talk, or find other value in it.
1. Conference rumors. I don’t recall seeing these ahead of General Conference until relatively recently, but they’ve become more common with the heightened pace of innovation under Russell M. Nelson. It’s a natural response; people hear things and want to know what others have heard.
And I hate it. I can’t say it’s inherently wrong, although I suspect it’s unhealthy. I’m committed to following our living prophet, but it’s already hard enough to keep up these days (one more long-standing policy changed after I drafted this post and before I got a chance to post it) without having to imagine coffee making a comeback, or polygamy. The prophet of my fears and the prophet of my fantasies are distractions at best, and obscure paths into the mists of darkness at worst. And the prophets of your fears and fantasies, and everyone else’s on top of that? It’s much, much worse. You can post your rumors if you want. I probably can’t look away if you do. But I will be humming tunelessly, clenching and unclenching my teeth, and laughing nervously as I read.