I was just going to jump into reviewing talks- but I decided I needed a brief explanation of what conference is for the people who aren’t LDS/Mormon and a brief “what is your problem?” for the Mormons.
A couple months ago was LDS General Conference. For those uninitiated it’s five “sessions” that are two hours long each in two days. That’s 10 hours of speakers, songs and prayers. One of those sessions is the ‘Priesthood Session’ so only men are supposed to watch that one (generally at a church building while wearing Sunday dress clothes). There is a meeting the week before that is 90 minutes long for women. In the spring it’s specifically geared to the Young Women (girls ages 12-18) and in the Fall it’s geared towards the women in the church (Relief Society Meeting- women ages 18+). When I was active (and as a child) I listened to all of conference minus the priesthood session. Now that I’m no longer active… I still listen to most of it- and reviews of all of it. (Reviews Here Here and Here)
General Conference weekend is a different experience from the apostate side of the fence- especially when you have many LDS friends on Facebook and other social media. The LDS church is very PR savvy and encourages its members to use social media to share their thoughts on General Conference. Conference weekends follows a stream of Facebook posts, Tweets (including an announced hashtag) and pinterest pins, about every talk, song, what the choir is wearing, and encouragement for people to “come listen to a prophets voice.”
But the words that members find “so awesome!” sound completely different to a person who’s been there, examined their beliefs and the words of the scriptures and “prophets” and found them to ring hollow… or completely wrong, deceptive and manipulative.
I would assume they are different in another way to never members.
Unfortunately many LDS members have a hard time seeing things from other people’s perspective (Okay- to be fair many of us have a hard time seeing things from other people’s perspective- unless we’ve also been in their shoes at some point- even then it’s difficult).
For the LDS Person Reading this and the following posts:
While Facebook fills with endless conference posts and I (and other “inactive members”) receive emails, private messages and text messages about “a really good talk you should listen to” or even better, “a talk I’ve been ‘inspired’ to text you.” I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be grateful for a person feeling that a talk was “for me”. Trust me it’s not what I hear. It’s not what any member of your family/ward/neighborhood hears when you post/text/email them a talk that completely discounts their very difficult journey out of the church and decisions to leave- even less so when you’re not willing to discuss with them their current beliefs or reasons for not attending the LDS church.
Instead I really hear being said is:
“This is something I think you need to hear and maybe if you listen then you’ll come back to church- even though I have no idea why you don’t come to church becauseI’m too afraid to actually have a conversation with you about it- this guy is talking to people who don’t go to church and says that these things will help you come back! He’s saying them very loudly and with conviction and so it must be true!”
It’s akin to me sending you, a true believing Mormon, with a “solid testimony” a Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Julia Sweeny or Sam Harris talk- and telling you how I think if you would just really listen, and follow what they were saying- changing you’re entire way of operating in the world- that you’d be happier than you are now. Wouldn’t you find that to be completely offensive? Especially when I knew nothing of Mormonism or why you believed what you did?
Here is a tip. If you want want to know why I don’t go to church anymore- why I went from being a completely believing, active, temple recommend holding member in a matter of 6 weeks then ask. Sincerely. I will tell you. Don’t send me a conference talk to “fix” a problem that you’ve assumed exists. I’m not afraid to talk about the issue. I’m not afraid to talk about church (I enjoy it actually). That means that if you ask a question you want to hear the answer. That if you want to have a conversation that you call to make sure it’s a good time. Treat me like an equal- not like a man who has ‘authority’ over me. Don’t ask the one neighbor who still talks to me why I don’t go to church anymore- instead ask me. I promise I’ll tell you. But you need to be prepared to listen. I promise you don’t have to agree.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned since leaving the church is that just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re attacking you- it just means they don’t agree. The exchange of ideas is beautiful- and hearing an idea doesn’t mean accepting it. This alone has opened my worldview 1000%.
Moving on to Jeffery Holland.