April 2014 184th General Conference notes: Saturday afternoon session

Pres. Eyring conducts.

(My wife says she really likes the flowers in the background).

Choir sings: “Glory to God on High.”

Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy gives the opening prayer.

Choir sings: “I Lived in Heaven.”

Elder Uchtdorf presents general officers and authorities for sustaining vote. (He has the coolest accent of any of the GAs).

Audit report: Kevin Jergensen. Passed the audit (phew!).

Statistical report: Brook P. Hales. Couldn’t catch all the numbers. Over 15 million members. 282,945 converts. 83,000 missionaries. Once new temple in Honduras. 141 temples in operation.

Elder Nelson:

Turbulence on plane. Woman is upset. Husband tells Elder Nelson: “the only way I could comfort my wife was to tell her that Elder Nelson was on the plane.”

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Can be bolstered as we learn about him and live our religion.

Are we tied to God so our faith shows or are we actually tied to something else? Avid fans of Sunday sports. Would their religion only tie them back to some kind of a bouncing ball? Where is our faith: in a team, in a brand, in a celebrity? There is only one in whom your faith is always safe: in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So many people look only to their bank balance for peace.

In his medical practice, Elder Nelson was asked not to mix science and faith. Truth is truth. It is not divisible. All truth emanates from God. Elder Nelson was being asked to hide my faith. He let his faith show.

Some challenge the relevance of religion in modern life. Mock or decry free exercise of religion. Some even blame religion for the world’s ills.

Are we ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth? Scripture study.

Political campaigns look to polls. But the polls cannot be used to justify disobedience to God’s commandments. Even if everyone is doing it, wrong is never right. Woe unto them who call evil good and good evil.

Immorality is still immorality in the eyes of God.

Uses the example of his daughter who died young, but with faith.

Monson: “Let us have the courage to defy the consensus. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.”

Increase your faith. Proclaim your faith. Let your faith show.
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April 2014 (184th) General Conference — Saturday morning session summary

It’s General Conference time again, and we’re going to be posting summaries and our thoughs here on The Millennial Star blog. Thanks for stopping by!

I’ll preface my summary by saying that I tried to get as much down as I could, but is as usually the case with young children in the room, everyone needed everything, all at the same time.

President Uchtdorf conducted the session.

Prelude hymn: How Firm A Foundation

Opening hymn: Press Forward Saints

Elder Carl B. Cook offered the opening prayer.

The Mormon Tabernacle choir sang, Lead Kindly Light … all of the music was beautiful. I love the choir!

President Monson spoke first. He told us we were gathered as a great family of saints. He then spoke about his experience dedicating the Gilbert, Arizona temple in March. Here is where I will put in a little personal note. The Gilbert Temple is just down the street from where I grew up. Many family members and the children of my friends were able to participate in the cultural celebration, Live True to the Faith. Hearing their experiences, along with Pres. Monson’s experiences was very sweet for me. It truly was a blessing, even with all of the rain, and cold to watch the program and know that it did in fact make lasting memories for the people and the home I love so dearly.

Pres. Monson continued …

In May the Ft. Lauderdale temple will be dedicated, and will be the 143rd temple of the church. When all of the temples which are currently under construction and those that have been announced have been built, there will be 170 temples world wide. It was mentioned later on in another talk that right now, 85% of the members of the church live within 200 miles of a temple. Temples truly dot the earth!

We will continue to build temples and to look for places where there is a need for temples. We are a temple building and a temple attending people. May we be filled with the spirit, uplifted and inspired as we listen and learn.

Elder Holland

I’m calling his talk “Defending the Faith”. We will be called to defend our faith and will be attacked personally. We have to have courage and courtesy on our part as we endure these attacks. He shared a story of some sister missionaries who were attacked by a man weidling mashed potatoes. I appreacited this story, as a returned missionary myself. In one of my areas, we had a neighbor who would wait every day to throw her garbage on us. I actually am thankful to her. She taught me how to love my enemeies as a missionary! Continue reading

M* summary of Women’s General Conference Session

March 2014 Women's Conference Choir

March 2014 Women’s Conference Choir

The March 2014 Women’s Conference was an historic meeting. Here’s my summary of the event, prompted (and encouraged) by Geoff’s desire to have M* coverage of the General Conference. After all, I’ve always considered the Women’s Conference to be part of General Conference – a sort of appetizer at the very least.

I was intrigued to see what impact I might observe regarding the announced symbolism of the color purple. The choir was clad in a now-typical uniform of modest shirts in a wide variety of colors. It appears the palette of acceptable colors were cool spring colors, including yellows, pinks, reds, and purples. The overall impact is like looking at an array of azalea bushes. This is such a striking image that I wonder whether the color scheme was set before purple was announced as a color with a message. Continue reading

Guest post: The UP movement

By Jeffrey Collyer

Jeffrey Collyer says about himself: “Not much to say really. I’m a middle-aged member of the Church, married to a fabulous woman with whom I do my best to raise 4 children, living in the UK. I’ve been writing my own blog about the Atonement for the last 6 months or so – www.allthingswitness.wordpress.com”

If you pay any attention to the LDS blogosphere (and let’s face it if you’re reading this you probably do), then you will have noticed that again as we approach General Conference there has been an upsurge in the number of OW-related posts.

While I wouldn’t say I have actively followed the various arguments on either side, I follow a wide range of LDS blogs, and have therefore read countless posts on the subject. Unfortunately I am now at the point of inwardly groaning every time there is another post about OW, and after some pondering on this, I have identified why that is, as well as a proposal for an alternative “Movement” (so if you don’t want to read about OW skip to the end).

So firstly, why I don’t want to read anything about OW anymore (and yes I appreciate the irony that I am writing about something that I don’t want to read about):

Firstly, I find it boring. I don’t mean that in an insulting way; it’s just that I can’t find anyone saying anything new on the subject. One of the reasons I follow the blogs that I do is that I like to read thoughts and ideas from others that are fresh to me, giving me new insights and different perspectives. But all of the arguments that proponents of OW make basically boil down to variations on, “It’s not fair”, which makes neither the argument nor the counter-argument terribly enlightening. I still tend to read OW-related posts because, I think, “Maybe this one will be different. Maybe this one will actually have something new to say.” But invariably I’m disappointed and end up wishing I’d spent the 2-3 minutes doing something else. So, could anyone wishing to post on the subject of OW please SAY SOMETHING NEW!

Secondly, I really can’t see what they’re trying to achieve. Anyone who knows anything about how the Church works will know that confrontational campaigning just isn’t going to do anything to further the cause, so I have to assume that the leaders of OW either have a different agenda to the one they are publicly espousing, or they’re not terribly well informed on how the Church functions. Either way, it doesn’t suggest to me that this is a “Movement” either from or on behalf of faithful members.
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The Noah of Scriptures











Everyone is talking about the new Noah movie, wondering if its better described as anti-Christian or pure entertainment. The movie collector of critical ratings Rotten Tomatoes has it in the mid 70 percent for critics and in the 40 percent for viewers. The box office has mixed audience result with a respectable showing of over $40 million during the opening weekend. Movies might give promise with such high earnings, but they live or die in the second and following runs. If word of mouth continues to be negative among the most interested possible viewers (Christians), then curiosity and lack of competition gave it the first boost of money. There is far from any guarantee it won’t turn out a bomb. Muslim nations have already given it the banned treatment.

What is supposed to be so bad about the Noah movie for those who don’t like it? For starters, it is considered way too off story from the Bible. Noah is in it, an ark with animals is present, and a flood happens. Besides that, according to negative critics, nothing else is close to correct or even the spirit of the account. He ends up a jumble of crazy, environmentalist, near abortionist, murdering anti-hero. Not even believers would protest an intervention to have him committed. The bad guys are morally questionable, but mostly a bunch of industrialists who like to hunt and eat meat. A critic from the science fiction blog io9 tried to make a case for its spiritual pedigree, but made things unintentionally worse for those Christians who would be the most unconvinced. They would see too much para-Biblical references over the very short Bible narrative.

This brings up the question of what the Noah story really is in the Biblical account. At first I was going to do a bunch of quotes and then solemnly explicate the text. That would be the traditional way of writing a blog argument. An equal concern is if there is enough in the Bible to make a story worthy of a two hour night at the movies. This is as much about creativity and imagination as bad exegesis. Those who support the Noah treatment point to The Ten Commandments for an example of making things up that aren’t found in the text. True enough, as I have my own criticisms about how Moses was portrayed in rather white washed fashion after his conversion. There is a difference because much of what is in the text became part of the film. Not so much, apparently, the Noah movie.

I am going to write a story outline using what can be known from the Bible, Book of Moses and other JST, Book of Jubilee, Book of Enoch, and a small amount of commentary. The end of the story will have a reference list for those who want to check sources and decide for themselves. The intended outcome should evidence that there is enough in the text to make a great film without complete distortion. Obviously it will be from what an equally controversial Mormon point of view. Those who have watched the Hollywood version can decide how close this is to what they saw on screen. Continue reading