Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Words of General Conference, Oct 13

Last week was the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My internet connection was significantly better than in conferences past, so I was actually able to not only listen to but watch most of conference. I was very happy about that.

To summarize each talk into one short phrase, personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and joyfully enduring to the end were emphasized most heavily. We were warned repeatedly to get our priorities in order, particularly the two great commandments and the second of the 10 commandments. We had three talks each on women and the priesthood, reactivation, and missionary work. Two talks each focused on the Atonement, healing, and priesthood duties. Of other commandments, we were told to be humble, pay tithing, keep the Sabbath day holy, and honor our bodies as the temples of our spirits. We were also encouraged to listen to General Conference, learn the Articles of Faith, and be better teachers.

Last April I did a post on the words used at General Conference. I'm largely going to ignore the words that were used about the same between each conference and focus instead on what was different in this conference from the last. As before, I'm only using the words said at least once per talk (more than 34 times), of which there are about 115 instead of 99.

On the other hand, I do have to mention that the emphasis of the meeting is still predominantly on God (mentioned 301 times) our Heavenly Father (94), Jesus Christ (207) as our Lord (267) and Savior (100), and the Holy Ghost (76). Nothing new about that, but that's the most important part.

There was a great deal more discussion of being members (152) of the Church (225) and about the family (186), faith (166), the gospel (143), and the blessings (122: mentioned 4 times more often) of the priesthood (133). There was a greater emphasis on gaining strength (79) and a personal (50) testimony (57) through covenant (57) keeping (54), and less on the blessings of peace, happiness, and hope. Missionaries (81) were still emphasized, but less than last conference.

In our families, we were much less likely to talk about husbands and wives. The roles of women (135; a 3-fold increase), men (103; a doubling), and children (152; up 50%) were emphasized instead. Notice that children were talked about more than women or men. Mothers (80) and marriage (51) were mentioned more than fathers (39), as were sons (60), brothers (98), and sisters (84).

We were twice as likely as last conference to be told to read the scriptures (71) and study the teachings (71) of the prophets (74), but given that I was shocked that there were far fewer scripture quotations than last time. Alma, Nephi, and President Monson were all mentioned about the same as before, but Matthew, John, Luke, and Joseph Smith were half as likely to be cited. It's not that the scriptures weren't used: the New Testament was quoted 139 times, the modern prophets 101 times, the Doctrine and Covenants 95, the Old Testament 88, the Book of Mormon 86 ... it's just a lot less than last conference. Jeremiah received a talk devoted to his ministry; that was unique.

Among the new verbs emphasized, there are many (126) new (41) and important (38) changes (49), which should make things better (35). The emphasis was on coming (178) back (47) to Christ, loving (172) one another, and giving (155) service (122) more than the former focus on seeing or saying (each down by more than half). We must (67) take (143) what we feel (135) from the Spirit and strive to make (129) sure others' (98) needs (123) and wants (53) are met. That requires work (115) to become (107) all God would have of us. As we ask (88) for help (105) in prayer (85), we will learn (78) and receive (79) what we desire (41). And let's please do our home teaching (37).

We heard less about the world (91 from 134) and more about the day (122) of this life (290). We hear great (130) messages (42) at conference (66) to help us through our challenges (48). Priesthood authority (36) provides ordinances (44) for all of God's children. We need the moral (44) courage to teach (126) what we know (118) to be good (up 87 from 63) and true (down 65 from 98) in every (60) place (48), even when it is unpopular.