We’re coming up to Mormon General Conference. Yes. Again. If you live in Utah, conference is news even if you’ve never been Mormon, are no longer Mormon, and/or hate Mormons.
There is plenty evidence for this concern. Not only is downtown crowded, but also the local news is all about conference, people within earshot talk about conference, and conference has far-reaching effects on state legislators, many of whom are some kind of Mormon.
With a new prophet and two vacant apostle chairs, things might get interesting. We don’t know whom the new apostles are yet, but Vegas odds give it a billion to one that neither of them is female.
Know what else we don’t know for sure? It’s whether Russia interfered with the selection. The idea of Vladimir Putin having any say in the church is creepy. But if you’re anything like me, also rather entertaining.
Those with an ear cocked toward the Conference Center will be doing so because they have faith and hope. Mostly it’s hope that something will happen to their liking or everyone else’s shock.
Some people would love to hear some form of capitulation on certain doctrinal issues, like, oh, say, the Three Nephites never actually existed, no angels helped push handcarts through snowdrifts, or that the Lamanites may have killed off the Nephites because Satan outfitted them with machine guns.
Mostly, not much will change. We’ll hear talks on peace, love and harmony. Probably nothing that will upset too many people. It’s always been like that, regardless how weird it might sound today.
On Feb. 1, 1857, President Heber C. Kimball, speaking in the Tabernacle, chastised people for focusing on their possessions rather than the gospel.
“Many men are desirous to gather to themselves wives, and this, that and the other thing.”
Women and other things? Maybe that didn’t get a rise out of Mormon women then, but I triple-dog-dare anyone to publicly proffer those words today.
Oh, and I’m not making this up. Check out the story by Leo Hawkins on Page 4 of the Wednesday, Feb. 11, 1857, issue of the Deseret News.
In another part of his talk, Kimball describes a hoped-for event in which he and Brigham Young, finished with their earthly sojourns, are greeted by Mormon founder Joseph Smith. For some reason, Young and Kimball are stark naked in this meeting.
Smith • “Come along, my boys, we will give you a good suit of clothes. Where are your wives?”
Kimball and Young • “They are back yonder; they would not follow us.”
Smith • “Never mind. Here are thousands. Have all you want.”
Kimball was circumspect about it. ”Perhaps some do not believe that,” he told the congregation, “but I am just simple enough to believe it.”
Not me. Today, I’d give it about two minutes before half the congregation sufficiently recovered from the shock to charge the stand.
This conference, I fully expect to hear things that, if applied correctly, will improve my life. And I’ll undoubtedly hear some things with which I don’t agree.
Whatever we hear, the important thing to remember is that we were given brains, and it’s in our best interest to try to use them. When it comes to the gospel, simple isn’t always as simple does.