Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday: Notes and Promptings from General Conference

Yesterday I posted my notes and reflections from the Saturday sessions of General Conference and now I'm going to try to follow-through (something I often fail to do) and finish the rest of the conference with the Sunday talks.

It seemed harder to pay attention today, mainly because Willem was pretty active and hyper throughout and it can be mentally taxing to pay attention to hours of speaking. Happens to be at academic and professionals conferences too.

Reflecting back on the whole of the two days of conference, it seems obvious that there were two themes: the central importance of parents and family teaching children and the mission and work of Jesus Christ (not surprising since it is Easter today).

Sunday Morning:
Uchtdorf:welcoming those who are different, addressing the needs of those who do not fit in, disappointed that he did not reach out to those who have been offended
I was very excited by this talk because given the homogeneity of the LDS Church, members are prone to exclude others (within and without the church) based on appearance and perceived differences. Its unfortunate and sad that it even needs to be said, but Pres. Uchtdorf said it well. As seen in my notes, I was disappointed that he did not reach out directly and speak to those who have been offended as I feel that is an important message to portray. Not that I would know what to say, but I'm not a prophet!

My husband and I have at times felt like outsiders and that we don't fit in with our current ward. The differences are so small and inconsequential but we have had conversations about how it hurts, how we don't feel at home and how we don't feel it is ideal. We are not very different at all from our other ward members so its sad for me to imagine if what it might have been like for my 14 year old self to walk into my ward building...

I really do hope and pray that what is aparently a weakness within the Church can become a strength, that we might be able to borrow a page from the Unitarian Universalists and the Methodists who proclaim "welcoming congregations."(Though I have had a couple of experiences where I was not made to feel welcome in a UU congregation. Ironic).
Scott: testifiying of Christ, what role Christ plays in our lives, expressed a lack of understanding of the atonement, teaches to those who do not believe in Christ and the value to bless, save, and reunite, repentance
Nice, strong talk about Christ, his resurrection and his essential nature in relation to our eternal lives. I was awed to hear an apostle of Christ say that he lacks understanding of the atonement, though I do know that it is beyond human comprehension to fully get the depth and breadth of suffering Christ experienced. One would have to have suffered all the hurt, pain, sorrow and sins of all the people who ever have and will live on the earth, and since we only have need on one Savior, it is not necessary for any to know that pain.
Seventy (Hallstrom): birth called a monumental event, talking about a difficult birth and fetal death, decrying blaming the doctor, God. another story of death in childbirth (that's encouraging for young women and young mothers!) and another! turn to the Lord for Solace in loss related to childbirth Peter--something sort of genetic thing in his family. adversity-comfort in Christ, lists adversity of many kinds I'd add trauma, unexpected scary events
I struggle with this talk because, though he was speaking from sad personal and family experience, I am sorely disappointed that often the only references to the act of childbirth in Conference are stories of complications, death and needed medical assistance. What does that say to the young women of the church who do not have much experience or knowledge of the process of childbirth, who see it removed to a hospital with all its connotations of illness, danger and potential death? I long to hear a talk in Conference that urges and inspires women to value and trust in the process of childbirth, that was divinely appointed and created. Though we live in a world subject to disease, the female body does not malfunction as often as we have been led to believe.

I also think that the mention of the counsel to not blame the doctors will lead members of the church to continue not questioning their doctors actions even when questioning is very much warranted. While I recognize it is sometimes true (and it might be in this family's case given Peter's speculation about genetics), it is often enough in our current medical system not true. Iatrogenic harm runs rampant and unchecked and families are losing mothers and babies because of the unethical practices of doctors and hospital systems. Just a simple statement such a telling people to not blame doctors can be taken seriously enough to let the harms continue unchecked. The brethren are likely unaware of it and I find it sad.

At the end of Elder Scott's talk, he lists a number of adversities faced by humans and though he did not include trauma on the list, it certainly

Lant: teaching young children the gospel Christ told parents two things: 1) bring children to me for blessing 2) teach children the gospel Christ has prayed for each of us. Ballard quote: it is our obligation as parents to enfold our children in our arms like the love of Savior.
As a parent of young children, this talk gives me some guidance for where to look and what to think about when teaching my children about the Savior. It also brings to mind some experiences I've had regarding the phrase "encircled by the arms of his love."
As a new convert to the church, I taught the four years olds in primary. In one lesson the phrase came up and in trying to teach the children what "enfolded by the arms" I told them that it meant being given a hug. I suggested that they all come to me and I would give them a hug. I would enfold them in my arms and as they did so, I testified that Jesus would someday literally hold and hug them too and that he loves them. I think the Spirit spoke strongly of that to the children, but if it did not, it spoke strongly to me.

The other experience was from a time when I was struggling with feeling the Spirit. I found in mental illness, in my case depression, that it can be very difficult to feel the Spirit through the mental anguish and numbness. I received a blessing that promised me that I would someday soon feel "encircled by the the arms of his love." Given how I had been feeling that was hard to believe. As time went on, I sought it out, I tried to capture that feeling by listening to the Spirit as I prayed and pondered. It was a while before I felt it and even when I did I was disappointed at how resentful I felt that it took so long. Given that experience, its no wonder that I could feel a little ambivalence towards the phrase.

Cook: following the Savior, distinction in the Atonement, Satan's counterfeit suffering for Christ in the abuses he endured as he went to the cross. civil in discourse, respectful in disagreeing with others. refer to this talk later, very good information, though little new. uplifting
This is one that I know I want to refer to again and gain a better understanding of what Elder Cook meant regarding Satan's counterfeit for the suffering of Christ. The reminder for civility in discourse, as well as the implication that Latter-day Saints ought to be involved in discourse was a welcome message for me to hear, specifically as it relates to one the question I was specifically pondering for the conference (refer to my notes from the Saturday session).

Monson: the inevitability of death "if a man die, shall he live again?" On Easter morning, we know the answer. If there is a design in this world, there must be a designer. expounds on the entire plan of salvation- premortal to exaltation
President Monson delivered a strong lesson on the plan of salvation as well as a prophetic testimony of the Resurrection of Christ. Its one of my favorite aspect of the gospel because that it is in the resurrection of all man-kind that I put my hope and trust in the gospel.

Sunday afternoon:
Nelson: family exalted together, sealing of families, discussing duplication of names in temple work: New Family Search "complex computer technology" simplified procedures for everyone to participate "wherever the internet is available" partaking of the blessings of the gospel

Hales: media and technology can interfere with spiritual development, impossible to overestimate the influence of parents, research shows that parents assist children through difficult transitions and challenges. family meals: everyone sit down together. counsel to achieve eternal families

Seventy (Foster) single parenthood. this seventy was raised by a single mom. influence of mothers: "because mother told me" "just follow your mothers." How many times have I asked Willem to just please trust me!

Seventy Martino: do not complain or murmur in trials. ways to act during trials: help others is one, love others (missed the rest because of boisterious 3 yr old who then was sent outside to play)

Seventy Schwitzer: judge well when making decisions, avoid quick judgements on people, story of Martha and Mary, people can be quick to judge Martha but then refer to Martha at Lazarus's tomb showing exemplary faith. Listening to the Spirit is vital in developing good judgement, finding a peaceful environment and finding peace internally in our souls.

Seventy Vinias: teaching gospel (specifies aspects of the gospel) to children and to nonmembers

Anderson: no assigned topics, no collaboration of themes in conference talks: if you sense a theme, its the mind and will of the Lord. have our children been taught the gospel by us? have they internalized the scriptures, rely on prayer, gotten to know the Savior? speak more frequently about Jesus Christ. quote for Jennifer from Elder Oakes's mother. my husband called my attention to: fathers talk to your children,it will remain in his or hers souls--not just fathers to sons. story about car accident with parallels to my dad's death-seriously?

Monson: serious and concerning problems/ills in the world. add lack of ethics, greed (thinking of maternity services) to list off ills he names- lost opportunities, forfeited blessings (describes my feeling about effects of maternity services) look to the Lord. does not advocate civic involvement to thwart these problems, but to live personally- shun from our own lives. "I love you" to listeners of conference

No comments: