Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sincerity, Signs of the Times, and South America

This post is part of the General Conference OdysseyClick here for more information.

President Harold B. Lee, Watch, That Ye May Be Ready

When President Lee gave this talk, the newer areas of missionary work included the Fiji Islands, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Italy, remote areas of Latin America, and among the Indian tribes.  Now many in the Church could say that they know or have met someone who has served in each one of these areas.

In contrast to the growth and expansion of missionary work, President Lee observes that organized religion was in decline in part because of misguided efforts to make it more popular, or to make it seem more relevant by eschewing the basic elements of faith.  One columnized summarized the problem as the attempt to "tune out that corny old bible" and to split out of "that moldy church."

One of the great inhibitions to the spreading of the gospel, President Lee also remarks, was the pride that often follows wealth and prosperity:

"It was frightening to observe that in places where there was the greater prosperity, there was the unmistakable evidence that, like the peoples of other dispensations, when they prospered they forgot God. They were seemingly rich in things that money could buy, but they were devoid of most of the precious things money could not buy."

In spite of these obstacles, President Lee speaks glowingly of the Church welfare activities and excellence in education, which successes he attributed directly to the "family home evening programs in the homes from which most of our youth have come."

President Lee praises missionary efforts in the British Isles, warns of false Christs and false prophets, and reiterates the Savior's counsel to "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

In reference to another sign of the times, President Lee reminds his audience of the terrible natural disaster that had recently devastated Peru, "one of the worst calamities in the history of the world, in which an estimated seventy thousand persons were buried when an earthquake moved an entire mountain over two cities, which were completely destroyed."  The four missionaries who had been assigned to labor in that area were spared, but it was the most catastrophic natural disaster in the history of Peru.  Damage was reported in parts of Ecuador and tremors were felt as far away as central Brazil.  

Elder Mark E. Peterson, Honesty, A Principle of Salvation

Elder Peterson delivers a powerful sermon on topic of honesty.  It is as honest and as straightforward a rebuke of hypocrisy and lies as one may find.  Honesty is more than a policy.  It is a principle, and it is necessary for salvation.  What if everyone were completely honest?  Elder Peterson explains:

"If all mankind were honest, we could have heaven here on earth. We would have no need for armies or navies, nor even a policeman in the smallest community, for there would be no crime, no invasion of other people’s rights, no violence of one person against another... There would be no grounds for divorce, nor would we have errant husbands or unfaithful wives. Conflict between children and parents would disappear, and juvenile delinquency would come to an end."

The devil is a liar.  He is the father of lies.  We must confess our sins, forsake them, and turn to Him who is the personification of truth, namely the Savior Jesus Christ.

Elder Marion G. Romney, The Light Shineth

Elder Romney also considers the signs of the times that will precede the Second Coming of Christ.  He speaks of the light that broke forth in the Spring of 1820 when God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, a light that many have rejected or refused to recognize:

"The fulfillment of this prediction is painfully evident today. The large majority to whom the gospel has been taken reject it. It is because of this rejection, and not because there is no guiding light, that this generation has been and, unless it reverses its course, will continue to be unable to avoid the calamities foreseen and foretold by Jesus. For, said he, in that generation—that is, in which the gospel is preached—'they perceive not the light' (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) and 'turn their hearts from me.'" 

Elder Romney repeats the prophecies of the Lord from the Mount of Olives.  "Some of these signs," he affirms, "we have already witnessed, and others we shall witness later." He reminds his audience of the Lord's parables, including the parable of the ten virgins.  The entire talk is worth reading, but his final testimony is particularly noteworthy:  

"I bear witness that the fullness of the everlasting gospel is in the earth. The predicted light has broken forth. Many others of the predicted signs of Christ’s coming have been given. Others are now visible. The rest are imminent.

I testify that God is not dead. He is at the helm.
His power—his priesthood—is in the earth; his programs are on schedule; his “eternal purposes shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.” (Morm. 8:22.)

To this I bear solemn witness as a special witness of Christ, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."

Elder Theodore M. Burton, Thus Saith the Lord

The Lord sent Elder Burton on an errand to South America.  He was impressed with the warmth, the love, and the kindness of the people that he met throughout the nations of South America.  Of the people of Brazil he noticed that:

"Those people loved one another. They were the smilingest, handshakingest, happiest people I saw in all of South America."

Elder Burton poses an important question:

"Where is a Moses, or an Isaiah, or a Peter, or a Paul who can speak from personal knowledge of God?"

He emphasizes what the world truly needs: 

"God’s way is the way to solve our political, moral, ethical, even our financial problems. The way of the Lord can eliminate wars, riots, discrimination, suffering, and starvation. What the world then needs is direction from a true prophet who, knowing the mind and the will of God, can speak in his name with power and authority and say, 'Thus saith the Lord!"

Where is such a person?  Elder Burton reminds us that they have already come, and are already here, beginning anew with the Prophet Joseph Smith:

"When Joseph Smith rose from his knees in that sacred grove, he knew more about the nature, the power, and the attributes of God than learned scholars could find out through a lifetime of study. This is the genius of the Church of Jesus Christ today. It is the testimony and power of the Holy Ghost that distinguishes this church from others. We need not convene councils of learned men to debate the mind and will of God. We have living prophets and apostles to direct us. If we will follow their counsel, we can avoid the evils of today and have tranquillity of faith and peace of mind."

His final invitation is simple and eternally relevant:

"If you are discouraged, if you are puzzled, if you are seeking for greater light, greater joy and happiness, investigate these revealed truths. Find out for yourself. Come and listen to a prophet’s voice. Join with the people of God to become a covenant son or daughter of the true and living God. Obtain your inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, be assigned your lineage rights, and obtain a knowledge of the real purpose of life. To the people already members of the Church of Jesus Christ, let us develop those gifts which are within us. Let us practice that kindness one for another, and let us show that love for our fellowmen which comes through wholehearted acceptance of the principles of truth."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Choose Something Like a Star

Choose Something Like a Star

by Robert Frost

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud—
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

Aristotle's Cave

The world’s order cannot result from a fortuitous concourse of atoms.
"At this point must I not marvel that there should be anyone who can persuade himself that there are certain solid and indivisible particles of matter borne along by the force of gravity, and that of atoms the fortuitous collision of those particles produces this elaborate and beautiful world? I cannot understand why he who considers it possible for this to have occurred should not also think that, if a countless number of copies of the one-and-twenty letters of the alphabet, made of gold or what you will, were thrown together into some receptacle and then shaken out on to the ground, it would be possible that they should produce the Annals of Ennius, all ready for the reader. I doubt whether chance could possibly succeed in producing even a single verse! Yet according to the assertion of your friends, that out of particles of matter not endowed with heat, nor with any ‘quality’ (the Greek term poiotes), nor with sense, but colliding together at haphazard and by chance, the world has emerged complete, or rather a countless number of worlds are some of them being born and some perishing at every moment of time—yet if the clash of atoms can create a world, why can it not produce a colonnade, a temple, a house, a city, which are less and indeed much less difficult things to make? The fact is, they indulge in such random babbling about the world that for my part I cannot think that they have ever looked up at this marvellously beautiful sky—which is my next topic. So Aristotle says brilliantly: ‘If there were beings who had always lived beneath the earth, in comfortable, well-lit dwellings, decorated with statues and pictures and furnished with all the luxuries enjoyed by persons thought to be supremely happy, and who though they had never come forth above the ground had learnt by report and by hearsay of the existence of certain deities or divine powers; and then if at some time the jaws of the earth were opened and they were able to escape from their hidden abode and to come forth into the regions which we inhabit; when they suddenly had sight of the earth and the seas and the sky, and came to know of the vast clouds and mighty winds, and beheld the sun, and realized not only its size and beauty but also its potency in causing the day by shedding light over all the sky, and, after night had darkened the earth, they then saw the whole sky spangled and adorned with stars, and the changing phases of the moon’s light, now waxing and now waning, and the risings and settings of all these heavenly bodies and their courses fixed and changeless throughout all eternity,—when they saw these things, surely they would think that the gods exist and that these mighty marvels are their handiwork.’"

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Quiet Thyself

William Tyndale
"See therefore thou have God's promises in thine heart, and that thou believe them without wavering; and when temptation ariseth, and the devil layeth the law and thy deeds against thee, answer him with the promises; and turn to God.... Also remember, that his Son's blood is stronger than all the sins and wickedness of the whole world; and therewith quiet thyself, and thereunto commit thyself, and bless thyself in all temptation... with that holy candle." 

- William Tyndale, Fire in the Bones by S. Michael Wilcox, from Work of William Tindale by S.L. Greenslade

(Thanks to Emily Maxwell for bringing this to my attention)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Obedience, Sacrifice, and Love - October 1971 General Conference, Friday Afternoon Session

Voilà a few highlights:

  • "Should the commandments be rewritten? No. They should be reread."
  • "Let’s stop quarreling with the commandments and the requirements and just face the facts.
  • "I have a great respect for scholarship, for education and research, for academic excellence, and for the magnificent accomplishments of sincere and searching men. But I also have great respect for the word of God, and his prophets, and life’s purpose; and it comes to a question of where to place our trust.
  • "I have been privileged to know some of the ablest men on earth—men of many faiths, many professions, many accomplishments, in nearly 150 countries. But I’ve never known a man who knew enough that I was willing to trust him with my everlasting life."
  • Many years ago Emerson wrote an essay, “Compensation,” in which he said: “The world looks like a multiplication-table, or a mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself. … Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. … “Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, … the fruit in the seed. …“What will you have? quoth God; pay for it and take it. … Thou shalt be paid exactly for what thou hast done, no more, no less. …“A man cannot speak but he judges himself. … Every opinion reacts on him who utters it. …“You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. …“The thief steals from himself. The swindler swindles himself. …“… it is impossible to get anything without its price. …“Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet or clew.“… we gain the strength of the temptation we resist. …“Men suffer all their life long under the foolish superstition that they can be cheated. But it is … impossible for a man to be cheated by anyone but himself. …”
  • “Pride,” said John Ruskin, “is at the bottom of all great mistakes.”
  • "At least, pride is one of the principal barriers to repentance, because we can’t correct an error without first admitting a mistake."
ElRay L. Christiansen, The Sifting
  • "This is a time of sifting, a time when, more than ever in the history of the modern world, the adversary and his followers have shown themselves to be enemies of God. Yet as we heard our prophet and president say this morning, we need not fear the fiery darts of the adversary, because each of us has the power to avoid becoming entangled in sin more definitely than ever before. The time has come for each member of the Church to keep close to the Lord, to be steadfast by sustaining and upholding and following the counsel of his divinely appointed servants, avoiding, as the Book of Mormon says, the vainness, the frailties, and the foolishness of men. We must purify our lives and sanctify our homes."
  • "The Lord has made the world a crucible for testing us, a place of sifting from which may come the blessings of a joyous life here and a glorious life to come!"
  • "Let us make sure that we do progress as we should; that we are “on board the good ship,” so to speak! For that ship, the Church, will never fail."
Bernard P. Brockbank, The Ten Commandments
  • "The Ten Commandments were not given for the lower animals but for man, given for those who are in the image and likeness of God, but some pay little more attention to them than do some of the lower animals."
  • "Fathers, if we fail to love the living God and if we show greater love and interest for worldly things and pleasures, God has said that he will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him. A father’s disrespect for the living God and Creator may be passed on to his posterity. Likewise, a father’s love and respect may be passed on to his children."
  • "President David O. McKay once said, “Reverence for God’s name should be dominant in every home. Profanity should never be expressed in a home in this Church. … If there were more reverence in human hearts, there would be less room for sin and sorrow and increased capacity for joy and gladness. …” (Man May Know for Himself [Deseret Book Co., 1967], p. 29.)"
  • "Ruskin wrote, “Reverence is the noblest state in which a man can live in the world. Reverence is one of the signs of strength; irreverence one of the surest indications of weakness. No man will rise high who jeers at sacred things. …”"
  • "Nobleness and dignity are the fruits of reverence."
  • "Fathers who disrespect that which God hallowed and fail to keep the Sabbath day holy will generally pass this sin on to their posterity. It is a sin to unhallow that which God hath hallowed. Keeping the Sabbath day holy has a hallowing effect on the soul of man, and love for God and his commandments is increased."
  • "Fornication and homosexual acts are inspired by the devil and are grievous sins in the sight of God. Fornication and adultery will destroy man’s Godlike potential and bring man nearer the lower animal status."
  • "Last fall the Lord announced through his prophet that the Church would hold family home evening on Monday nights. It is interesting that about the same time, the other side announced that there would be professional football games on Monday nights. You might be surprised to know how many families tried to work family home evenings in between half time of the football games. Of course it cannot be done. It appears the prophet’s request required too great a sacrifice."
  • "But the eye single to the glory of God is probably the most important of those qualifications. Generally speaking, “an eye single to the glory of God” means sacrifice. It means that instead of endlessly doing what we want to do, we have to do what the Lord wants us to do, but we have to do it in his way when he wants us to do it. This, of course, is not the natural inclination of man."
  • "On the other hand, Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his “only” son Isaac as a burnt offering to the Lord. I presume Abraham could not have received a more disagreeable commandment from his Heavenly Father. "
  • "From this it is apparent that sacrifice, no matter how disagreeable it may be, is absolutely vital, for it is the only means the Lord has provided for his children to gain the faith and assurance necessary to successfully return to his presence in condition to enjoy eternal life."
  • "May we serve with an eye single to the glory of God and do what the Lord wants us to do instead of endlessly doing what we want to do, and may we do it because we love the Lord."
S. Dilworth Young, By Love, Serve One Another
  • "And this help is badly needed. All about us are those in need of encouragement, assistance, and help—help of a kind we can all give, not money, but time and attention and personal encouragement, especially to those who must bear great responsibility for loved ones and who cannot pass it to others for the simple reason there are no others to whom to pass it."
  • "There are many lonely people, people whose loneliness is hidden. We need to seek them out and relieve them. There are those who feel they are not accepted, who need to be built up in spirit and helped to find themselves. There are unmarried girls away from home who think no one cares. There are those troubled in spirit. It occurs to me that family home evening could occasionally be timed to bring in some of the lonely ones, some of the fearful, some of the downhearted, some of those troubled in spirit."
  • "The needy neighbor could be next door. The one in need may not be a member of the Church. It can be anybody who stands in need. I know of no one who is exempt from the responsibility of constant succor and personal encouragement to many who never report their difficulties to the bishop, but who, in spite of pride, and even of means, badly need the help, understanding, and love we all can give as individuals."
Milton R. Hunter, The Vitality of Love
  • "The devil is mustering his forces to full strength to bring about discord, sin, and sorrow among the human family. These calamities can be averted to the extent that people live the basic principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is love."
  • "Our Eternal Father and his Only Begotten Son both have intense, comprehensive, and full love for us. They have much greater intelligence and understanding than we have, and so their feelings of love go far beyond our capabilities to love. The attribute of love is so highly developed in these divine Beings that the scriptures state: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16.) In fact, Deity’s transcendent love is above and beyond our deepest feelings and keenest conception. At times of great spiritual experience when we feel an abundance of the Spirit, we have a greater realization of the magnitude of God’s love."
  • "Among the entire human family, there is no example where the principle of love was demonstrated as perfectly as was shown in the life of Jesus in Palestine and in his ministry among the Nephites following his resurrection. He healed the sick, raised the dead, restored sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and cleansed those who were afflicted with leprosy. His heart was filled with compassion upon the poor and any who suffered afflictions. He lifted them spiritually with his deep understanding."
  • "The central theme and the most dynamic force of the gospel of Jesus Christ is love."
  • "A husband and wife should always be gracious and kind to each other. Neither of them should ever say or do anything to hurt the feelings of the other. Deepest love and affection should be shown toward each other continuously. At all times each should make a conscious effort to do everything possible to bring joy and happiness into the life of the other. A husband should show and express appreciation for the accomplishments of his mate, and she should do likewise. We should look for ways to build each other up and make each other happy. Neither the husband nor the wife should let a day pass without expressing love for the other. We should not assume that our mate knows and that it is not necessary to express it."
  • "President David O. McKay, always an advocate of love and harmony in the home, stated: “Homes are made permanent through love.” (Pathways to Happiness [Bookcraft], p. 114.)"
  • "Controlling the tongue is one of the greatest contributing factors to concord in the home, and one which too many of us fail to develop."
  • "Love should also characterize the center of the family life. Each child should be made to feel at all times by his parents that he is of great importance in the family. Parents should express their love to their children and show them in numerous ways that they love them dearly. Then the Spirit of the Lord will reside in the home. The family will be love-centered and thereby God-centered. The children in turn will reciprocate the love to the parents and strive to please them."
  • "The goal of families who are actuated deeply by love will be to keep the commandments of our Savior in every detail and someday come back into the presence of the Eternal Father and his Only Begotten Son to dwell."
Howard W. Hunter, Elijah the Prophet
  • "I bear witness that the same prophet who was fed by the ravens, by the never-depleting handful of meal and cruse of oil, who brought back life to the widow’s son, whose sacrifice was consumed by an unkindled fire, who was taken into heaven in a chariot of fire, has appeared in this day, as foretold by Malachi. He is turning the hearts of this and the past generations toward each other."
  • "Prior to the building of temples in this dispensation and the appearance of Elijah, there was little interest in seeking out and identifying families of the past. Since temples have been built, genealogical interest in the world has increased at an accelerating rate. The gathering of hundreds of people to Salt Lake City, representing forty-five nations, for the World Conference on Records is a demonstration of this great interest."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Choose Ye This Day: General Conference or Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones

General Conference

A short time ago a number of Mormon bloggers embarked on what has since come to be known as The General Conference Odyssey, an approximately 14 year blogging project to read and to comment upon every General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from April 1971 to the present.  We just finished reviewing the April 1971 General Conference (see my posts on this project thus far see here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and are now forging into the October 1971 sessions.  The main purpose of this project, as I understand it, is to become more familiar with the teachings of the latter-day prophets and apostles from 1971 to the present (or to the future present) by reading all of the conference talks, posting our personal responses to the talks, and linking to the personal responses of every other participant.  For a more detailed explanation of the project, see here.

This week we are reviewing the Friday morning session of the October 1971 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As I have read through some of my previous posts, as well as the posts of others who are involved in this project, it has occurred to me that our commentary, as interesting as it may be, is only that: commentary.  It is a good way for us to remember and to assimilate that which we have understood through our study of the talks.

If anything, this project serves as an invitation for others to study the original talks, and to be blessed by them.  As I hoped to make clear in my first post, even these earlier talks take a back seat to the revelation that flows from our current prophet, apostles and general authorities.  But as I also hoped to make clear, there is a constancy and a consistency to revelation throughout history.  In other words, the Lord and His work remain constant while we mortals grow in our understanding and capacity to live according to every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4, D&C 84:44, D&C 98:11)

As I have pondered these talks and these concepts, I have begun to better understand that the phenomenon of General Conference itself is something to be grateful for.  From the first conference with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to the present, and to future reunions in Zion and in the New Jerusalem, General Conference is an inestimable blessing.

I was again reminded of the blessings of General Conference this week as I embarked on an equally ambitious journey to read, together with a group of friends, the entire History of the Church this year.  In the early chapters of the History of the Church we read about the first General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this, the final dispensation of the Gospel in the fulness of times.  The prophet Joseph Smith received a commandment to organize the Church, and the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the early saints who met in the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer on Tuesday, the sixth day of April in 1830:

"Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according  to said commandment which we had received.  To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote.  I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;' after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church.  We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them.  We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ.  The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree- some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly." (p. 77-78)

From this very small beginning, or re-beginning, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has continued to grow.  It has continued to hold general conferences during which the Holy Ghost is poured out, the gift of prophecy is manifest, and those who participate in the conference are moved to praise the Lord and to rejoice.

The same is true of the Friday morning session of the October 1971 session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But as with any General Conference, the purpose is not just to receive the Spirit and to be inspired.  More importantly, we are invited to bind ourselves to act upon the instruction we receive.  Elder Paul V. Johnson explains:

"In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear. The Lord explained in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith 'that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandment.' But knowing 'how to act' isn’t enough. The Lord in the next verse said, 'Ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.' This willingness to take action on what we have learned opens the doors for marvelous blessings."

With this principle in mind let me just briefly mention that the Friday morning session of the October 1971 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was just as saturated with the Spirit of the Lord as was the first meeting of the Church in 1830.  Joseph Fielding Smith, Boyd K. Packer, Henry D. Taylor, Eldred G. Smith, Loren C. Dunn, Franklin D. Richards, and Ezra Taft Benson teach of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation, and they preach repentance with power and with authority.

All of the talks are worth reading, and there are many great passages that I could mention, but Ezra Taft Benson's talk stood out to me because of his memorable descriptions of music.  In his talk, Benson describes the difference between godly music and evil music.  It is sad to think that the evil music that Benson describes might now be considered merely quaint or mildly entertaining.  What kind of music was popular in 1971?  Only a few years after this talk, drugs claimed the life of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, the Beatles had just broken up, and the Rolling Stones were already in their Golden Age.  Benson explains:

"Tolerance is a word valuable in the service of Satan. Alexander Pope warned 200 years ago that:

     'Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
     As to be hated needs but to be seen;
     Yet seen to oft, familiar with her face,
     We first endure, then pity, then embrace.' ('An Essay on Man')"

What have we seen?  What have we endured?  Pitied?  Embraced?  Compared to some of the so-called "music" that is prevalent today, Elvis, the Beatles, and the Stones are as holy as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

So the choice is yours: General Conference or Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.  Someone may have already stepped on your blue suede shoes.  You may have already walked through Strawberry Fields.  And there might be a good reason why you can't get no satisfaction.  So turn off the Stones, put away your Beatles Albums, and stop gyrating your hips to Elvis long enough to read these conference talks, or better still, to study the teachings of the current prophets and apostles.

Here are other blog posts on this session of General Conference:

Friday, January 15, 2016

April 1971 LDS General Conference - Tuesday Afternoon Session Highlights

In the Mountain of the Lord's House, LeGrand Richards
  • "I think I can truthfully say that there is no other living man on the face of the earth today who has stood at this pulpit as many times as I have in a general conference of this church except President Joseph Fielding Smith. If I figure correctly, this is the seventy-fourth general conference in which I have been privileged to speak." 
  • "I believe that the words of the prophets are the most sure guide we have in this world today. I believe what Jesus said: 'Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.'" (Matt. 5:18.)
  • "Where can you find anything in the history of this whole world to fulfill that like the singing of our Tabernacle Choir, singing now for over forty-two years without a break? Now with the Telstar, it is singing to the entire world. No wonder President Nixon said in his visit here last November that it was the greatest choir in all the world."
  • "There are many other things that are yet to be fulfilled. I will just mention a couple of them. The Lord put it in my heart as a young man to have a love for the Jewish people, and someday they are going to be one of the great movements of this church. In the Book of Mormon we read in the preface that that book was preserved for the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the very eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations. And how can that book do that to the Jews unless we take it to them? And so, in his own due time and way the Lord will inspire our leaders to send messengers to that people."
  • "When a person receives a patriarchal blessing, he is entitled to receive a pronouncement of the blessings of Israel, or a declaration of the tribe of Israel through which his blessings shall come. This is the right to the blessings of those recorded in the book of remembrance started in the days of Adam."
  • "Each dispensation brings with it a reemphasis of the priesthood; a restrengthening of the opportunity given to man to receive the blessings of the gospel by proving himself in resisting the powers of the adversary."
  • "The Prophet Joseph Smith put it this way: '… that the dispensation of the fulness of times is made up of all the dispensations that ever have been given since the world began, until this time' (Franklin D. Richards, Compendium, 1898, p. 143), this being the time referred to as the end of time to prepare for the coming of the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth."
  • "Now that is rather serious to those of us who sit in such a responsible position. I once asked my mother, 'How does it feel, Mom, to have all my sins placed upon your head?' She said, 'Oh, but you forgot one thing, Paul. I have transferred them back to you because I have taught you the doctrines of the kingdom.' In a sense that is what we are trying to do, young people: to prepare you to live a happy and full life both now and in the future, and true joy and happiness comes in knowing and living the commandments of our Father in heaven."
  • "How truly blessed is a person who has a mother who cared. I too am grateful for my parents, who applied the gospel of love in such a wonderful way. And although I often remind my mother of our round-table discussions, in which she chased me around the table, I learned the truths of the gospel by example from her and from my father."
  • "In today’s fast-moving, materialistic world, unfortunately many fathers place their business affairs ahead of their children. I am appalled as I look around me, as was Eddie Cantor some years ago, when he said that a man will spend a whole week figuring out what stocks to buy with $1,000—but he won’t spend an hour with his child, in whom he has a greater investment."
  • "Now, you young people, listen to the counsel of your parents. They love you. We are not perfect. One day you will stand where we stand, and you will have a similar challenge of rearing your young. Will you go with us the extra mile in trying to understand our true nature and purpose?"
  • "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands for the highest ideals, principles, and standards known to man. There is nothing about the Church, its teachings, or what it represents that we need be ashamed of. The Church has immeasurable influence for good in the lives of men and women everywhere."
  • "In all humility and sincerity we must admit a power higher than ourselves from whom is derived a positive moral code that will give our lives significance and purpose. We also must remember once and for all that honesty, respect, and honor as such are not for sale on the market block. They are ingredients that you and I and all people should put into our daily lives."
  • "Honesty and integrity as perfected virtues in parents are more likely to become the heritage and rich endowments of their children. Parents cannot give to their children that which they do not possess."
  • "And on behalf of students and youth, do we honestly and sincerely listen to their wants and needs? Do we really try to understand them, or are we giving them what we think they should have?"
  • "George Washington placed emphasis upon honesty when he said: 'I hope that I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.'"
  • "As we journey along through life we, as individuals, come in contact with many shaded areas, twilight zones, and even dark alleys, where we, unless aided by a higher power, are not able to see clearly, to interpret correctly, and to come to sound conclusions. Some of these shaded areas are found in the physical world, some in the intellectual world, and some in the realm of the spiritual. Let us remember, however, that the Lord has said that all things unto him are spiritual."
  • "We need to improve our vantage points in all aspects of our living—in the intellectual and the spiritual realms as well as in the physical. As we attempt to do this, we should remember that, in every situation, there are facts and there are opinions. There are also causes of difficulties and there are symptoms that express themselves. To the extent that we are willing and able to get at the facts and at the causes and to see relationships among them clearly, we are in a good position to interpret correctly and to arrive at sound conclusions. But to the extent that we just fool around with opinions and symptoms, we may prolong our difficulties and postpone the time for arriving at lasting, satisfying solutions."
  • "Without divine guidance, we will have difficulty in the shaded areas of life. But we need not walk alone. Our Father in heaven and his Son Jesus Christ and the prophets—both ancient and modern—have given us a well-charted course for our journey through life. We can find joy and happiness and we can arrive at our destination in safety if we will but heed the road signs and follow the directions that have been given to us."
Man Cannot Endure on Borrowed Light, Henry D. Taylor
  • "President McKay assured a group of young people that a knowledge of the truth and a testimony of the gospel could come to them if even in their youth they would learn one great lesson: 'That purity of heart, and a sincere heart seeking after the Savior’s guidance daily, will lead to a testimony of the truth of Christ’s gospel. …' This counsel indicates that testimonies may be gained through clean living and prayer."
  • "As a young man living in Kirtland, Ohio, Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the Church, was converted and baptized in 1836. He had studiously and conscientiously compared the teachings of the missionaries with the teachings of the Savior. Becoming convinced of the truths of the gospel, he had sought baptism by immersion.
  • Following confirmation, he constantly anticipated an assurance that he had received the Holy Ghost. Two or three weeks following his baptism, he reflected that he had not yet received a testimony of the truth. Being uneasy, and laying aside his books, he left the house and wandered through the fields. A gloomy spirit and indescribable cloud of darkness seemed to envelop him. It was his custom, near the close of day, to retire to a nearby secluded grove and engage in secret prayer. This night he had no inclination to do so. The spirit of prayer had departed, and the heavens seemed like brass over his head. But, determined not to forgo his evening practice, he sought his accustomed place and knelt in solemn prayer.
  • 'I had no sooner opened my lips in an effort to pray,' recalled President Snow, 'than I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and O, the joy and happiness I felt! No language can describe the almost instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge. … I then received a perfect knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the restoration of the holy Priesthood, and the fulness of the Gospel. It was a complete baptism—a tangible immersion in the heavenly principle or element, the Holy Ghost; and even more real and physical in its effects upon every part of my system than the immersion by water.' (Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, p. 8.)"
  • "A testimony is a priceless gift from God. But even though a person may receive a witness through the Holy Ghost, there is no guarantee that this testimony will remain steadfast unless the person exerts constant effort to keep that testimony alive. Testimonies gained may be lost through carelessness, indifference, and/or neglect."
  • "I say to you, and to the whole Church, and, for that matter, to the whole world, that a gracious and loving Father has in these last days spoken again from heaven to his servants the prophets."
  • "I am not unmindful that there are good and devout people among all sects, parties, and denominations, and they will be blessed and rewarded for all the good they do. But the fact remains that we alone have the fullness of those laws and ordinances which prepare men for the fullness of reward in the mansions above. And so we say to the good and noble, the upright and devout people everywhere: Keep all the good you have; cleave unto every true principle which is now yours; but come and partake of the further light and knowledge which that God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever is again pouring out upon his people."
  • "Our Father, pour out thy Spirit upon these thy children that they may be preserved from the perils of the world and kept clean and pure, fit candidates to return to thy presence and dwell with thee."
Other posts from this session:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Prophet from the Get Go

I have been reviewing general conference talks from the early 70s with the General Conference Odyssey group for more than a month now, and it has been a great experience.  Rather than elaborate on this particular talk, it occurs to me that it suffices to record the impression that I received that President Monson was a prophet from the get go.  I read each of the talks in this session, but when I read President Monson's talk Lost Battalions, I received a reconfirming witness that he was and is a true prophet of God.  He is a man who has filled his heart with love, his mind with truth, and his life with service.  It's astonishing to think that, as inspiring as President Monson's talks are today, he has been at it for more than 50 years.  Read this talk.  It is true.