Here, again, are my scattered thoughts. All the quotes I use may not be one hundred percent verbatim, but I got them as close as I could. (YouTube was being really mean about letting me go back and listen to stuff I hadn't typed up in time.)
Because we're concentrating our efforts on completing temples which were previously announced, we're not at the present time announcing any new temples.
--Thomas S. Monson, Saturday morning sessionObviously, this is a completely subjective observation, but this sounded like spin. Hinckley built temples like crazy and I'm betting that temple sessions these days are not as packed as the leadership had hoped. But rather than admit to having overreached and to having a membership that doesn't attend the temple as devotedly as preferred, Monson is saying that they're just not going to announce any new temples yet because they're "concentrating [their] efforts" on trying to chew what they shortsightedly bit off. He also mentions that they'll need to "identify needs" and "locate properties" as believable reasons why the temple-building frenzy might appear to have slowed down.
Prophets through the ages have always come under attack by the finger of scorn. Why? Well, according to the scriptures, it is because "the guilty take the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center." Or, as President Harold B. Lee observed, "the hit bird flutters." Their scornful reaction is, in reality, guilt trying to reassure itself.
--Lynn J. Robbins, Saturday morning sessionIn a fiery speech that was only implicitly directed at those who sympathize with the Ordain Women movement and gay rights movements, Robbins spewed forth eleven minutes of passive-aggressive vitriol. Here he states that when people disagree with the prophets, it's because the prophets are right and the dissenters are guilty of something they don't want to accept fault for. Never mind the fact that past prophets have staunchly clung to teachings that are no longer accepted by the church. Never mind that some policies of the church have changed due to pressure from both inside and outside the membership. If you disagree with the leadership, you're guilty of something.
Lowering the Lord's standards to a standard of society's inappropriate behavior is apostasy.
--Lynn J. Robbins, Saturday morning sessionSo you think women should have the priesthood? You're an apostate. You think the church has no right to encourage legislation against same-sex marriages? You should be glad we don't excommunicate your sorry ass on the spot. Robbins's entire discourse was designed to remind the worldwide church "which way he faces." He reminded his audience that the church leadership serves God, not the general membership. He'll only listen to what God tells him and it's not his job to listen to the concerns of the peons. Although I have to give him a little credit for speaking vaguely. I don't think he ever mentions exactly what "inappropriate behavior" in society he's referring to, so I guess I can't fairly label him a homophobe or a sexist. Just a self-righteous jerk.
Resenting the law of gravity won't keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff.
--D. Todd Christofferson, Saturday morning sessionVery true, but not very wise.
The problem is that there is a huge difference between the law of gravity and the purported laws of God's church that Christofferson is advocating. We witness the results of gravity every single day of our lives. We don't have the same evidence for the laws of the church. Sure, there are plenty of stories of people who have benefitted from following the commandments. But it doesn't have the same reliability or the same specificity. Every time you drop an object, it falls. But every time you pay your tithing...? The effect that's supposed to follow the cause is vague. You're supposed to receive blessings for paying your tithing, but "blessings" are unquantifiable, difficult to observe and often subjective. In contrast, every time you drop a plate in your kitchen, it accelerates toward the center of the earth at 9.8 meters per second squared. No sane person expects to step off a cliff and not fall. Plenty of sane people understandably expect no negative consequences for not giving ten percent of their money to a church.
It's a pithy little witticism, sure, but its content is hollow.
If it were not for the reality of fixed and immutable truths, the gift of agency would be meaningless, since we would never be able to foresee and intend the consequences of our actions.
--D. Todd Christofferson, Saturday morning sessionUgh. See above.
This is totally true for scientific theories. If the laws of gravity, to use Christofferson's own comparison, were not fixed, we would not be able to act with any kind of specific outcome in mind because we'd never know what direction things would drift when we let go of them.
But gravity is different because we know exactly what to expect when we let go of things. With the "fixed and immutable" laws of God, we don't know exactly what to expect. If we do our home teaching, we'll probably be blessed, but we don't know how, where, when or to what degree. It's entirely possible for us to receive those blessings without even realizing it. Yet even Todd here would agree that most people can't step off a cliff without realizing they're falling. The difference is that clear, non-variable, comprehensible and predictable outcomes result from gravity and we have no such guarantees from the laws of the church.
Why is it so difficult to have Christlike love for one another? It's difficult because we must live among those who do not share our beliefs, values, and covenant obligations.
--Dallin H. Oaks, Saturday afternoon sessionOaks doesn't like people who are different from him. Not only does he admit up front that it's apparently difficult to get along with people who aren't Mormon (which really shouldn't be a problem), but he phrases his existence in a not-entirely-Mormon world as a burden. He uses the word "must." To me, this implies that he is required to live among people with which he does not wish to rub shoulders. And that is defeating Christlike love right out of the gate. If you "must" to live in the same world as people who don't believe what you believe, you clearly don't think very highly of them. Some love.
We encourage all of us to practice the Savior's Golden Rule: "whatsoever ye would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them."
--Dallin H. Oaks, Saturday afternoon sessionOkay, so if a bunch of gay people were trying to make sure it was never legal for you to get married to a woman, what would you want them to do?
Oaks's discussion of the topic of Christlike love just doesn't ring true after his scathing rant against the Ordain Women movement in the last conference.
Suppose a family member is in a cohabitation relationship. That brings two important values into conflict: our love for the family member and our commitment to the commandments. Following the Savior's example, we can show loving kindness and still be firm in the truth by forgoing actions that facilitate or seem to condone what we know to be wrong.
--Dallin H. Oaks, Saturday afternoon sessionSuppose a family member is in a cultlike religion. That brings two important values into conflict: our love for the family member and our commitment to truth. Following the Savior's example, we can show loving kindness and still be firm in the truth by forgoing actions that facilitate or seem to condone what we know to be wrong.
Oh, wait, except I'm not that kind of asshole. I do condone my family's religion because I know it's important to them. I desperately want them to leave it, but I've never sent them the CES Letter and I've never even participated in a religious discussion with them that wasn't started by one of them. I went to my nephew's baby blessing and I went to the temple to wait outside during my sisters' weddings. I have never once complained to them about all the religious content of their emails in which they are constantly discussing their various callings, giving each other suggestions for Sunday School lessons, and sharing interesting revelations from their daily scripture study. I hold my tongue when the church is inevitably discussed at holidays and family gatherings. But you're right. They should definitely not condone my cohabitation with the woman I love because they know it to be wrong.
Studying the church through the eyes of its defectors, Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, is like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus. Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that from which they have departed.
--Neil A. Andersen, Saturday afternoon sessionOh, gimme a break. Defectors aren't reliable sources of information but cronies and co-conspirators are that much better? Studying the church through the eyes of its fanatics is like interviewing Eva Braun to understand Hitler. (Yeah, I went there. But I figured, since Andersen jumped straight to Jesus, I should go as far as I could in the opposite direction since I was making the opposite point.)
This is why it's helpful to look at both sides of the issue. You read the five-star reviews and the one-star reviews to find out what's good about it and what's bad about it. That's a much better method of getting an accurate picture of a situation. But, of course, Andersen doesn't want you to look at both sides of the issue because he's terrified that the one-star reviews are going to be a little more compelling.
We do not discard something we know to be true because of something we do not yet understand.
--Neil A. Andersen, Saturday afternoon sessionSomething you read about Joseph Smith on the internet may damage your testimony, but we just don't understand all the details yet. I'm sure the fact that he was a sex-crazed, power-hungry con man will make sense in context, given enough time. Keep believing until we figure out how to explain it so it doesn't sound like the church is a fraud.
...be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering. And other humanitarian, educational and missionary contributions.
--Jeffrey R. Holland, Saturday afternoon sessionThis whole talk was just uncomfortable. Holland tearfully discusses how hard it must be to be poor, even though he admits he has no clue because he's never been poor. And then he reminds everyone that, on top of the ten percent fee, they're expected to pay fast offerings once a month as well (yes, even the poor people he's pretending to defend here). And the odd wave of his hand as he tacks "humanitarian, educational and missionary contributions" casually onto the end of a sentence he just sobbed his way through seemed very callous to me. It was kind of a, "by the way, there's several other categories you should donate to, don't forget, but I'm not talking about those right now." And, of course, it's hard to shake the feeling that the entire talk was about giving the church more money. All the contributions he mentioned are on LDS tithing slips and he never once mentioned donating to any other organization. No American Red Cross. No drives for local food banks. No soup kitchen volunteering. No suggestion to donate used clothing. Not even a nod to throwing your loose change into the Salvation Army bucket around Christmastime. Be as generous to the church and, implicitly, the church only, as your circumstances allow.
This prophet, seer and revelator is not prophesying, seeing or revealing anything. He's merely organizing a fundraiser and telling us to call now because operators are standing by.
Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, comply with counsel of modern prophets and is not compatible with sound doctrine.
--Quentin L. Cook, Priesthood sessionYou have no right to be so responsible and level-headed! Why can't you be more like your younger brother, all impulsive and shortsighted all the time?
Chastising people for waiting to have a family until they're capable of providing for it because it "does not demonstrate faith" is an awful thing to do. I don't even understand the "doctrine" part of it. Other than various prophets urging us to get married, I don't remember anything from the scriptures that commanded us to marry before we have an education and a reliable income.