LDS Conference April 1972 – Godless Conspirators & Gentile Partners

This is an entry in the ongoing General Conference Odyssey project. My previous contributions can be found here. Posts by other bloggers writing about the April 1972 General Conference today are linked at the end of this post.  You can also visit the project group on Facebook.

Today we are writing about the Thursday Afternoon Session of the April 1972 Conference.


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Over the years, President Ezra Taft Benson’s political views have been a topic of some controversy, and I believe that many people have developed a distorted, dismissive idea of President Benson that creates an incomplete, oversimplified concept of a more complex man. Our culture has become addicted to out-of-context soundbites and easily consumable memes, and so it is easy to see only quotes from President Benson that reinforce our stereotype. When that happens, there is even a danger of imposing our expectations upon anything he says, so that we see what we expect to see when we read anything from him.

As the United States in 2016 works its way through yet another brutal presidential election year, it is interesting to look back more than four decades and read the political thoughts of apostle Ezra Taft Benson, given in the April 1972 General Conference. There are a number of things that he addressed that could seem outdated and foreign today, and yet there are many ideas and concepts that he taught that seem more relevant now than ever before. Continue reading

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LDS Conference April 1972 – Common Consent, Sustaining vs Non-Opposition

This post is an entry in the ongoing General Conference Odyssey project. My previous contributions can be found here. Posts by other bloggers writing about the April 1972 General Conference today are linked at the end of this post.  You can also visit the project group on Facebook.

Today we are writing about the Thursday Morning Session of the April 1972 Conference.


First, a bit of trivia: As I mentioned in a previous entry,  in the recorded conferences of 1971 through 1976 there were more sessions of conference than the Saturday and Sunday sessions we are accustomed to now. But before today I did not understand why sometimes they held sessions on various weekdays instead of on Friday.

Prior to 1977, the church held three-day conferences. In April conferences,  one of the three days was April 6th (the anniversary of the organization of the church). In 1971 April 6th fell on Tuesday, 1972 on Thursday, 1973 Friday, 1974 Saturday, 1975 Sunday, and 1976 Tuesday. So October Conferences were always Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as were April Conferences in years where April 6th fell on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (1973-1975). But in 1971, 1972, and 1976 the conference was held on April 6th plus Saturday and Sunday. That is why we sometimes have Tuesday or Thursday sessions, like we do in this week’s reading.

The conference report of April 1977 makes particular mention of the move from three-day to two-day conferences under the direction of President Kimball. So there you go.

I’d like to draw particular attention to the talk given during this Thursday Morning Session titled “We Are Called of God” given by Elder Loren C. Dunn, who at the time was a member of the First Council of the Seventy.

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Throughout the church, from individual congregations to the church-wide conferences, it is common for members to be asked to “sustain” individuals who have been called to serve in the church. Members indicate their sustaining vote by raising their hand. They are also given a chance to oppose.

In recent general conferences, we have seen instances of individuals who have expressed opposition to the leadership of the church when given the option to do so.

Elder Dunn provides a reminder that the church does not operate by democratic vote:

Sustaining, however, should not be confused with voting into office.

Joseph Smith made it clear how a person is called to a position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the fifth Article of Faith he says: ‘We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.’

When we sustain officers, we are given the opportunity of sustaining those whom the Lord has already called by revelation.

[…]

To sustain is to make the action binding on ourselves and to commit ourselves to support those people whom we have sustained. When a person goes through the sacred act of raising his arm to the square, he should remember, with soberness, that which he has done and commence to act in harmony with his sustaining vote both in public and in private.Continue reading

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LDS Conference October 1971- Elder Hinckley and Persistence in Faith

This post is part of the ongoing General Conference Odyssey project. My previous contributions can be found here. Posts by other bloggers writing about the October 1971 General Conference today are linked at the end of this post.  You can also visit the project group on Facebook.

Today we are writing about the Sunday Afternoon Session of the October 1971 Conference.


It is always interesting to read talks given by future presidents of the church that were given long before they became president. I sometimes wonder if we read these talks differently in retrospect than those who received them at the time did, because we know that the speaker will someday be the prophet of the church. While I haven’t necessarily focused on them, during the course of this project we have read from all of the future prophets.

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In the Sunday Afternoon session of General Conference, I was impressed by the sermon given by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, entitled “If Ye Be Willing and Obedient.” President Hinckley was a marvelous speaker. I encourage you to read the whole talk. However, I will focus on a story he relates about when he was a young missionary in England:

Nearly forty years ago I was on a mission in England. I had been called to labor in the European Mission office in London under President Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, then president of the European Mission. One day three or four of the London papers carried reviews of a reprint of an old book, snide and ugly in tone, indicating that the book was a history of the Mormons. President Merrill said to me, ‘I want you to go down to the publisher and protest this.’ I looked at him and was about to say, ‘Surely not me.’ But I meekly said, ‘Yes, sir.’ Continue reading

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LDS Conference October 1971- Shame, the Potemkin ’50s, and Generational Wonders

This is my latest contribution to the ongoing General Conference Odyssey project. My previous posts in this series can be found here. Posts by other bloggers writing about the October 1971 General Conference today are linked at the end of this post.  You can also visit the project group on Facebook.

Today we are writing about the Sunday Morning Session of the October 1971 Conference.


There were a number of excellent talks given in the Sunday Morning Session of October 1971 that I wish I had time to talk about, but I am going to focus today on a talk titled “Where Art Thou?” in which President N. Eldon Tanner spoke extensively about the scriptural account of Adam and Eve.

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He noted that after Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit that God had forbidden and hidden themselves, God’s called to Adam asking, “Where art thou?” President Tanner observes:

When God said ‘Where art thou?’ he knew where Adam was. With his omniscience he knew what had taken place, but he was calling Adam to consider the seriousness of his actions and to report to him. But Adam had hidden himself because he was ashamed.

We are all like Adam in that when we partake of ‘forbidden fruits’ or do the things we are commanded not to do, we are ashamed, and we draw away from the Church and from God and hide ourselves, and if we continue in sin, the Spirit of God withdraws from us.

Interestingly, the words “shame” and “ashamed” derive from Indo-European roots related to “covering” or “shroud.” So when Adam and Eve attempt to cover their nakedness, you might say that they are “ashamed” in a very literal way.

It is difficult to draw a bright line between the concepts of shame, guilt, regret, and embarrassment. Some people have tried to impose more strict definitions in which shame is specifically a feeling caused by others, while guilt is a feeling arising from self evaluation. Others suggest that shame arises from violating socially imposed norms, but that guilt comes from violating one’s own norms. Others suggest that shame involves an evaluation of a person (I am bad), but that guilt is an evaluation of a actions (I did something bad). Continue reading

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Why Companies Like Apple Should Not Give Government Backdoor Access to Encrypted Customer Data

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If you haven’t heard already, Apple has published an open letter explaining that the technology company will not be giving the U.S. Government access to their customer’s encrypted data. The government wants that data to use in law enforcement and anti-terrorism.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

To good people who are concerned about making sure that the government has the tools it needs to convict criminals and stop terrorists, this looks like a reasonable request, and that Apple is making us less safe.

Let me explain why I think Apple is right and that the government is wrong. Continue reading

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