conference header

I remember the excitement I used to feel right about now: it’s almost time for General Conference!  A weekend hearing the Lord’s special and especial witnesses bear testimony of Jesus Christ. Every Conference I would come ready to receive revelation, hoping that this time it would be like Nauvoo or Kirkland, with a prophet declaring (instead of alluding) that he had a message from God to share with the faithful Saints.

Instead, I heard wise men share wise stories from their good old days, messages about being Christlike. Exhortations to do my home-teaching, pay my tithing and fast-offerings, and serve a mission. And of course, why our Church was so unique.

Why were we unique? Because we had living prophets on the earth today, to guide us with pure revelations directly from on high! These were true messengers, and I was always ready to receive them. I did what the prophets asked of me. I tried to be Christlike. I humbled myself. I prayed deeper, loved more sincerely. I forgave my neighbor. I paid my tithing. I served a mission. I accepted callings. If it was asked of me, I did it. All I had was my agency to offer God, everything else was his. And these men were His prophets—if I was to please God, I must obey His servants.

The thing is, there wasn’t any difference between these men and anyone else. I never heard a message that was more unique than a talk my Stake President could have given. Instead of hearing the words of Christ quoted, the Brethren would just quote each other. Christ’s words didn’t seem to be the focus, they seemed to be selectively chosen (often out of context) to prove the point of the speaker.

Instead of doctrinal insight, there were platitudes. Meat turned to milk, and skim milk at that. Conference the last few years became a watered-down affirmation meeting, a chance to tell each other that all is well in Zion.

As an example, here are some of the most shared quotes from the April 2015 General Conference:

“The family is the center of life and the key to happiness.”

“God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than what we once were.”

“Complete each other, don’t compete with each other.”

“When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be right?”

“We come to Church not to hide our problems, but to heal them.”

“Joy comes after sorrow.”

These are the messages of God’s prophets? Tens of thousands of Saints struggling in a faith crisis, and we get this? And if we move out of our own little bubble, the world has serious problems – dysfunctional government, global warming, religious extremism, war, a refugee crisis, droughts, social inequality, and all God can give us regurgitated banalities? Scripture claims ancient prophets did more. Joseph Smith certainly claimed to do more.

And honestly, these messages are not unique. A simple search of uplifting quotes bring me just as much of an uplifting and comforting feelings as these men, sometimes an even stronger one. Here are some that I found, none of which come from LDS leaders.

“The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”

“Stop determining your value by what other people say, instead of what the Word of God says.”

“If you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”

“The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor.”

“The scriptures are given not to increase our knowledge, but to change our
lives.”

“In our prayers, we talk to God, in our [scripture] study, God talks to us, and we had better let God do most of the talking.”

FURTHER READING: We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet?

If I would have told you that these quotes were from General Conference talks you would have believed me, because that is all this conference will be. Platitudes and tweetable snippets, with Deseret Book and LDS.org working overtime to creat shareable memes. The new apostles will be hailed as proof of revelation in absence of actual, literal messages from God. Over simplified sermons will mask the complex explanations for truth claims of the Church. Calls for Christlike living will echo from a shining marble conference center, across the street to a billion dollar shopping mall, and to the homes and hearts of Saints who could have saved their time and just read a C.S. Lewis book.

So what do I wish I could hear at conference, but never will?

A prophet.



Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until he was excommunicated for adultery. During his disciplinary court, Elder Carrington tried to argue that he had only committed "a little folly in Israel!", but the current brethren couldn't be bothered to give him a break. Learn more about Elder Carrington here.
  • fides quaerens intellectum

    I wish there was more meat to be had in conference. Just like I wish there was more meat in the Ensign, Sunday school, BYU devotionals, Priesthood and Relief Society manuals, etc. BUT, I do think meat is to be had in the scriptures… You have to have a knack for King James era english to get most of it, but it’s there.

    • Don Gwinn

      Well . . . . fake King-James-Era English, badly faked.

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        … The translators of the King James version of the Bible faked their own translation and did it badly? *slow clap begins* I bow to your intellectual prowess.

        • Don Gwinn

          I didn’t realize you meant the actual King James Version of the Bible. I was referring to the Book of Mormon, where Smith aped the sound of “King-James-Era” English, but clearly didn’t really get how it worked. Just a lot of “behold” and “and it came to pass” and “verily” and “even” whether it would have made sense to a 17th century Englishman or not.

          I was talking about Mormon scripture. Although the KJV is a bad translation in many ways, sure, it was done in the early 17th century and the translators spoke their language.

          • fides quaerens intellectum

            Ah, I can totally see that. In that case… I apologize for my incredibly dooooshy comment haha.

        • Gorgonops

          The guy made a reference to the Book of Mormon. *slow slaps on both sides of your face*

  • Nathan Fife

    I would perk right up if Monson came to the pulpit and said “Thus Saith the Lord” and proceeded to speak the way Joseph did. It won’t happen though

  • “A Prophet”? I get that it is ‘drops mic’ funny to write that but I came to know what you really want to hear!

    I guess the “dysfunctional government, global warming, religious extremism, war, a refugee crisis, droughts, social inequality” part was satisfactory.

  • Zelph, Himself

    So…. do you realize that most of the problems you’ve given in this word were solved by the “platitudes” above them?

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