Monday, October 6, 2008

Thoughts from the "priesthood" session

I was at the priesthood session of the general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you are not "in the know" with mormonism, twice a year the mormon leadership from Salt Lake City broadcasts two days of talks aimed at the members. The talks are pretty bland stuff, but sometimes they announce new temples and such during conference. On Saturday night there is a special session just for the men and boys who hold the mormon "priesthood". The missionaries we have been evangelizing invited me to come, and I picked that session. As I mentioned in the last post, I hadn't been in a mormon church since we left almost eight years ago.

A few observations from someone who had been to many priesthood sessions before, but now was seeing it through fresh eyes. These are the things that jumped out at me.

1) How little Scripture was used. I guess I never noticed it when I was a member but there was VERY minimal reference even to mormon Scriptures. When Scripture was used, it was thrown out to support a claim the speaker was already making and in some cases, like Monson butchering Ezekiel 36, what they were saying had nothing to do with the Scripture they were quoting.

2) How man centered it was. All of the talks were about ways to be better mormons, to be more worthy, more personally righteous, more effective. It was little more than a two hour self-help seminar. Sin was barely mentioned and it was mentioned only as a barrier to you being the best mormon you could be. No wonder Joel Osteen likes mormonism so much!

3) Thomas Monson is nowhere near the orator that Hinckley was in his prime. Hinckley, even when he was older, was a much better speaker. In the last few years he was slipping, but heck he was 90 something. In his prime though, he was a marvelous speaker. Monson looks lost up there.

4) How sincere and nice the young men sound when they are singing a song that is rank heresy. To the uninitiated, you might think the singing was just wonderful and there is something great about hundreds of young men, with virtually identical suits and haircut, all wearing their missionary tags singing along with the magnificent organ. But when you stop to listen to the words they were singing, you realize that sometimes, perhaps oftentimes, heresy comes in a pleasant looking and sounding package.

If you go to the webpage you can listen to and soon read the content of the talks, but for some reason the priesthood session material is not listed. I wonder if that is something they are doing now, because there was not a broadcast online of it either for mormons in remote areas. I am currently reading through a talk by the first counselor of the relief society on the temple. Pretty much the same rote stuff you hear every year.


Mormon Heretic said...

Sorry, I didn't attend the priesthood session. What rank heresy were they singing?

Also, do you comment on how bad the pope, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, or others sound when they speak? While Monson isn't my favorite speaker either, I just found your comment about him quite crass, and wonder if you are crass about other leaders that many hold in high esteem.

Arthur Sido said...

The rank heresy would refer to "Praise to the Man", see the prior post.

It wasn't a negative about Monson or intended to be crass, it was an observation. Please note that as I said I haven't sat through a general conference session in a long time and in the time we were in mormonism Hinckley was the president. The post is "Thoughts from the priesthood session", not "negative stuff about mormon leaders". My concerns with mormonism go much deeper than the poor quality of the speakers at general conference.

I am a lot more concerned about the content than the presentation (BTW, I don't much care for Billy Graham's content, but he is by far even at his age one of the great preachers of all time. Pat Robertson is a nutcase)