Sunday, April 6, 2008

Some thoughts on General Conference

On D Todd Christofferson:

I knew the name, but really had very little background on the man before hearing him during the Sunday Morning session. In a nutshell: I'm impressed. His talk was one of those where you get done and don't really know what he talked about, but you are still touched and feel the power of his message. In fact, when he was done speaking, I turned to Kerry and asked her what he had talked about, and neither of us could find a specific subject. This isn't necessarily such a bad thing, because I think there are two things that make a talk great: 1. a powerful and clear message and 2. a feeling afterwards of being touched by the spirit. The best talks will have you walking away with both of
those, but at least having number 2 makes a talk successful in my opinion. Perhaps on a second read, I'll be impressed by a message thread that I missed the first time, but if he continues to deliver as he did today, and finds important and timely messages to pass on, I will welcome him with open arms to my list of speakers to look forward to.

On David Bednar's unfortunate speech order:

I like Bednar. I really do. I think that when I can make myself listen to the content of his talks, he has great things to say, and his talk on taking offense was a wonderful example of a timely and important message with great quotes for those who would pay attention. That said, I have a very hard time paying attention to him - at least for the first half of his talks when he is so obviously, and distractingly, reading from the teleprompter. This was only highlighted during the Sunday Afternoon Session, when he spoke immediately after the most charismatic and engaging speaker that the Apostles have to throw at us.

I don't want to sound unfaithful or critical (actually I do mean to sound critical, but not mean). As I said, I like Bednar. I really do. When you get right down to it, his words on prayer were inspired and helpful, and the tendency to just read what is on the teleprompter rather than speaking it is certainly not limited to him. In fact, nearly every Seventy or YW or RS speaker that comes up during conference does the same thing. The problem is in part the way each individual approaches speaking, but also largely due to the need for real-time translation. When a speaker does not stick like glue to what they have written, it makes it very hard for the 90 or so linguists who are, in real time, interpreting these talks into myriad languages. So I get it. Many of them really want to speak their speech, but are discouraged by this fact. Listening to conference in a foreign language, I have been distracted by the difficulty of interpreting effectively when a speaker goes off script and suddenly the interpretation is thrown off. I don't know if this is the whole reason, or even the biggest part of the reason (it may just be nerves or some other reason). But the fact remains, at least for this observer, that I have a hard time listening to someone who is just reading a talk. Perhaps this makes me of lower faith, but at least you know I'm honest. This same problem is one of the reasons I have been so disappointed by President Bush. 7 years of constant public speeches and he still sounds like a Deacon giving a talk at church.

My list of speakers to look forward to:

Jeffrey R Holland
Henry B Eyring
Gordon B Hinckley (RIP. He will be missed)
M. Russell Ballard
Dieter F Uchtdorf, if he continues to deliver speeches like the two I heard during this conference
The rest of the Apostles (just not as much)
Richard C. Edgley (of the Presiding Bishopric)
Sheri Dew (come back to us!)
Yoshihiko Kikuchi (of the Seventy - he came to the MTC and spoke and WOW!!! After his speech there was literally a new feeling at the MTC shared by all. The next day (Sunday) saw long lines to speak to the bishopric as thousands of missionaries felt inspired to be a little better.)
Any of the combined young adult choirs that they get together (okay, not a speaker, but I generally love listening to them)

Two talks that I will have to read again and file away for when I need the rich layers of knowledge that they present:

1. Dieter F Uchtdorf's talk on the Faith of our Fathers
2. Jeffrey R. Holland's talk on Continuing Revelation
3. Boyd K. Packer's talk on Apostles
4. Thomas S. Monson making fun of M. Russell Ballard

I had some other thoughts, but this is way longer than I expected already, so I'll leave it at this, with just a few brief ponderings:

1. Thomas S. Monson has to be the most kind-hearted and kid-hearted man in the whole world.
2. What I learned from Ballard: Women lift, twist, and bend. Thank you, women. (actually it was a good talk.)
3. Thomas S. Monson is starting to talk differently, and I mean that in a good way. I love the folksy stories for which he is best known, but I love even more that he seems to be more serious and more, well, prophetic now.


annahannah said...

first of all , I LOVE bednar's talks. he is one of my favorites. also, when did monson make fun of m. russell ballard?? Only those with ADD know. too bad kev wasn't with us that time, and david was probably taking notes. No, really, I want to know. I want to go back and see it.

Braden said...

Check out the very last talk of Sunday Afternoon Conference. Right at the beginning.