This blog post is being posted and re-posted. I felt it needed some response. (Don’t be easily offended when you read this mormon friends).
Did a friend invite you to watch Mormon General Conference this weekend? Did you feel a little confused or slightly awkward about it? Cool. Let’s break it down.
The only thing awkward/confusing about being invited to participate in another religion’s eight hour weekend is how excited you are to passively invite me and pretend like it’ll teach me everything I need to know about your church. Because you think I care. I don’t.
*The most awkward thing about Mormons is how self obsessed they are with what other people are thinking about them and their church- most people simply don’t care.*
In a nutshell, if you’ve ever watched, liked, or shared a TED talk, you get the concept of General Conference.
The concept of having a bunch of speakers in a conference format? That is pretty standard for well, conferences. Attend a conference for work, education, a hobby you have…. they are a weekend full of speakers speaking.
At General Conference, a variety of speakers from all different locations, professions, and backgrounds come together to deliver live, 10-20 minute lectures on a variety of topics that are meant to uplift and enlighten.
By variety you mean all white, males who have been employed by the church for the last decade at minimum (many much, much longer than that) and the “variety” of topics are constrained to “approved” LDS gospel topics. They stick to “correlated” doctrine. Also note that they are mostly men and of the top 15 men in charge all are white and all but one are American, from the western part of the country. There are a *few* women speakers- but the men outweigh the women on average of five men to every one women speaker.
Their words often cause you to see things differently than you did before, and leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy.
“Warm and Fuzzy” is Mormon Code for “it must be TRUE”. Also see HeartSell which according to their marketing site defines their process as follows:
“Our unique strength is the ability to touch the hearts and minds of our audiences, evoking first feeling, then thought and, finally, action. We call this uniquely powerful brand of creative “HeartSell”® – strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response.”
Yes. The LDS Church owns a marketing company that specializes that specializes in “strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response.” AKA “warm and fuzzy”
Mormons can also turn anything to a parable… like The Parable of the Pickle.
So if a friend invited you to watch General Conference, it’s because like TED talks, the ideas you’ll hear are worth sharing.
Oh and share they will. On Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter. Memes and such with happy little clips of “wisdom” that sounds like the Tao of Pooh.
So what’s the twist, you ask? Here are a few.
Those who speak may be slightly on the elderly side. But while our church leadership may be old, their words pack a punch. If you don’t want to take our word for it, take Pharrell’s.
Slightly elderly? The general authorities average age is 76 according to this blog post.
• All who will speak at General Conference will be Mormon, although they may have joined the church at different times in their life or in different places around the world.
The majority of general authorities and speakers in conference will be American men who were born in the church. There are usually a few speakers a conference that are converts- but the overwhelming majority are not.
We believe that the words spoken there are inspired by God, and that every person who watches or listens will hear something that can personally and positively change their life.
Believing doesn’t make it true. Believing in Santa doesn’t make him show up at your door with gifts. You know where else I can hear something that will positively change my life? Pretty much anywhere I look.
One other note. TED Talks are always delivered by experts of one sort or another. So what exactly makes these guys worth listening to? Well, as Mormons we believe that they are mouthpieces for God and that if there’s anyone who needs a voice in today’s world, it’s the One who put us all here in the first place.
Mormons take this stuff seriously. But that doesn’t make these conference speakers worth listening to more than TED talks. I think you’ll get more out of TED talks any day. These speakers are stuck in the mindset of 1950’s culture and rhetoric. Men are in authority over women. Marriage is constrained to what they think it should be like and they’ll spend their billions to try to make that happen (unsuccessfully). The world is a scary and dangerous place.
Also a major difference between General Conference and TED is that TED you aren’t required to believe anything being said. You can take what you like and leave the rest. With General Conference these are words FROM GOD. Every word is expected to be lived up to and taken to heart.
If you’re still feeling weird about watching Mormon General Conference, we’ve compiled a few short clips on a variety of topics so you can take it for a test drive.
Conference is weird but mostly boring. But there are some extremely damaging messages as well. Things that cause pain and heartache to people who listen and take it to heart. I’ve compiled some examples on a variety of topics to prove my point.
Todd Christofferson on why women should stay in the home, why there is no alternative to the “traditional family” and anything else is second best – suck it single parents, grandparents raising grandchildren and mostly anyone in a “same sex marriage”. There’s more sexist rhetoric in his full talk. Mormons believe in traditional gender roles for men and women. Girls are taught what that role is from a very young age and for this reason many marry young to a person they just recently met.
The roles of women is spoken of clearly and frequently. Julie Beck clearly laid this out in her famed “mothers who know” talk from 2007.
Russell Nelson on how you can’t be happy unless you are in a “traditional” marriage. Mormons are vehemently opposed to marriage equality and have spent lots of time, energy and money opposing laws for marriage equality throughout the country. This quote is from October of 2013- not 1950. Also, Mormons believe in the Bible literally. There was a literal Adam and Eve and Garden. Same with the Flood, Tower of Babel and all the other crazy Old and New Testament stories.
Boyd Packer on how the world is a dangerous and scary place and you should be afraid.
Later in that same talk Packer taught that tolerance in too great amounts is a vice. That any virtue when you have too much of is a bad thing.
Mormons are obsessed with sex. The most important thing is to be a virgin on your wedding night (see: why mormons marry so young and fast). Elaine Dalton gave an entire talk about how not having sex was power. Sorry victims of sexual abuse and rape.
They’re also obsessed with “Modesty” and girls who aren’t modest? Walking Porn. (Modest by LDS standards means girls must wear sleeves and shorts to their knees.)
So no. I will not be watching General Conference. It in no way relates to TED talks. Thanks anyway. I grew up learning that a “little bit” of bad cancels out any good, General Conference contains way too much bad to even try to pick out the good. (I’ll be spending the weekend with my family instead).