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Radio Free Mormon: 015: April 2017 Conference Autopsy Report

Today “Radio Free Mormon” continues with its newest episode “April 2017 General Conference Autopsy Report”.  Today Radio Free Mormon continues pursuing the deeper happenings of our recent General Conference pulling out themes and data that can give us a glimpse into the inner sanctum.



14 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 015: April 2017 Conference Autopsy Report”

  1. Thank you for your interesting discussion. I agree when you say that Elder Eyring has a penchant for these kinds of stories. I remember soon after President Hinckley died and Present Monson was the new president of the church I attended a regional conference where Elder Eyring was a speaker. His message was to always follow the prophet. He talked about how President Hinckley had been in a meeting to discuss the church’s investments and had decided to not keep as much in the stock market as the market had been up for some time. The fact that the market went down soon after he cited as inspiration of the prophet and as evidence that we should always follow the prophet. I distinctly remember thinking “Ok great President Eyring…I’m ready…When is the prophet going to tell me when to buy and sell stocks?” I thought that example was ridiculous because the leaders of the church don’t do that – why would he use that as a story to teach that we should follow the prophet? I also know that the church has had some very bad investments (They chose to close Beneficial Life Insurance because of the MILLIONS of dollars lost on poor investments during the crash of 2008). I do believe in spiritual inspiration…but some in the church really do at times stretch to give examples of revelation and spiritual experiences.

    1. Great comment, Douglas!

      I want to hasten to add that I, too, believe in the power of inspiration, having experienced it numerous times in my life.

      But if I, a lowly podcast host, experience inspiration, why is it so hard for church leaders to come up with any good stories of the same thing? Surely they are receiving as much inspiration as I, and doubtless more. I mean, they are church leaders, right?

      But here is the point that jumped out at me when you were telling your story. Let’s say that President Hinckley did receive an inspiration to sell off church stock in anticipation of the market crash.

      Why didn’t President Hinkley let the members in on the secret so they wouldn’t take a bath with their personal portfolios? Sounds a bit like insider trading to me! ;^)

      Seriously though, why do these stories always have to be told in retrospect when, if they really happened, and if inspiration were really involved, the prophets could have told the general membership up front, the market would have collapsed, and the entire world would have to sit up and take notice that maybe there really is a prophet of God on the earth today?

      Thanks for listening!


  2. In case anyone was wondering, the quote from Joseph Smith that Rasband paraphrases is:

    “If you will listen to the first promptings you will get it right nine times out of ten.”

    and comes from the Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, edited by A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson, p. 902 (though this is not the source cited on for the talk). His journals also contain other interesting second and third hand accounts, like a different version of the first vision, and first hand accounts of JS saying treasonous things during the Council of 50.

    This statement by JS also seems to say the “doubt your doubts” trope should be ignored.

    1. Thanks for doing the legwork on that quote, Buster!

      Tracing the provenance of a quote often gives us reason to give it more or less weight. It can sometimes help to see it in context, as well!

      Nice work!


  3. I love the talk.

    I know people who have lost their faith in all LDS teachings because of priesthood blessings that failed…failed miserably.

    Toward the end of the podcast, I heard the warning messages you quoted (the “logic” section), and what jumped out at me and has done so more and more is the blurring of the lines between what leaders say and what they indicate is God’s will. The leaders speak as if they themselves are the very voice of God, and they do it in a way that leaves no room for dissent or informed consent.

    This is something I’ve learned is “cultish”. No longer is “persuasion and long suffering” used; now the voice of reason is of the Devil–but the voice of God comes from the mouth of the leaders?

    I recognize this happening more and more, and it truly frightens me. It creates non-thinking, non discerning people: truly logic and reason itself is under attack.

    1. It is a strange thing to think that God gave us reason only to allow Satan to use it against us.

      I don’t have the quote handy, but my reading of Orson Pratt (I think) indicated his belief that reason was the light of Christ manifested among mankind.

    2. Oh, great point! In other words the gospel and church should be sufficiently logical so that “persuasion and long-suffering” would, eventually, get one to change their view, rather than “because God said it.” (and told me to tell you.)

  4. A trend that I notice is that conference talks are trying to impress the audience and to assist 70’s to move up the leadership ladder. They want to give an impressive story and will be recalled. Beyond the points you already covered, it that these stories when true are the exception to real life, but then local LDS leadership interprets them as the new expected norm. First pay tithing before feed kids. This brother came from a middle class family, and taking the story from his viewpoint; sure they sacrificed food to show faith and pay tithing. However they had education and business experience and had ways to get back on their feet quickly. But to the lower impoverished class it does not work the same way and they can not expect that quick turn around miracle. At what point are they going to eat. In Latin America the church does not help you economically or have a Bishop storehouse. In Utah if I pay tithing, then Bishop will give me a large food order (worth more than tithing check), and then I am blessed. So 2 tired church, USA members vs rest of world and how policy and programs change depending on your locale; not based on your faith.

    Example #2, Elder Packard gave story ( few years ago) about youth riding in his canoe on the Amazon in Peru at 4:30 AM to get to seminary. Well if that what that youth wants to do, well good for him. ( I am sure his parents were not aware). But do not tell this or similar stories because then it sets up a cultural norm that we should all be getting up early for seminary and following an unguided program. when true, let the exceptions be exceptions, but do not place them as the new expected norm. That is how we got in this cultural mess.

    I am too more frightened to the Follow the brethren mentality, resultant from the 1953 BYU conference and correlation.

  5. A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

    Reading the conference talk by Elder Gary Stevenson, and then listening to your recaps (parts 1 and 2, and this post), struck me in a slightly different way than did your comments indicate it had affected you.

    While it should have carried a “Paul Dunn” disclaimer, the contents of the story relating to the safety of missionaries vs the safety of ordinary citizens caught up in this tragedy brought back memories of a lesson I taught in the High Priest Group back in 2012. This lesson spoke about missionary work, but we spent most of the time discussing the recently released book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.” To provide the context for my comments, here are the salient points from the book applied to our HP discussion and to my reaction to Elder Stevenson’s talk:
    Mormons and Jews are most opposed to religious intermarriage (about 65% oppose), while Mainline Protesant, Other Faiths, and none are least opposed (about 20%-30% oppose).

    Latino Catholics, Black Protestants, and Mormons have the lowest interfaith marriage rate. (about 10%-20%)

    Who attends racially/ethnically diverse congregations (Diverse = critical mass of 20% diverse)? About 21% of Catholics, 16% of Evangelicals, 9% of Mainline Protestants, 6% of Mormons, 4% of Jews.

    Americans feel warmer toward Jews, Catholics, and Mainline Protestants and feel least warm toward Mormons, Buddhists, and Muslims.

    Mormons and Latino Catholics have the most non-diverse friendship and family networks.

    Most Americans are reluctant to assign a unique status to any religion as the “one true church,” even their own. About 12% say “one true church,” about 80% say “truths in many churches,” and 7% say “little truth in any church.”
    Mormons (28%) and Evangelicals (22%) are most likely to say “one true church.” They are a minority, however.

    When Americans rate how they feel about members of other religions, Putnam and Campbell find:
    Most everyone likes mainline Protestants and Jews.
    Most everyone likes Catholics, more than Catholics like everyone else.
    Evangelicals like everyone else more than everyone else likes them.
    Catholics and evangelicals rate each other warmly.
    Mormons like everyone else, while most everyone else dislikes Mormons.
    Most everyone dislikes Muslims and Buddhists, even more so than Mormons.

    The most disliked religions in America:

    Any wonder people dislike Mormons? How much worse can you score on a survey?

    OK – sorry for the lengthy preamble, but here’s why. Mormons have an attitude problem, which is not helped by the missionary message that a) We have the only true church, b) therefore, everything about your religion is untrue (e.g. your baptism, sprinkling, doctrine, etc.), c) we have this snarky way of telling stories “in the family” about how select, different, blessed and generally how saved we are.

    To the talk – How do you suppose the general population of Japan caught in this disaster would feel to hear that the LDS missionaries were all protected and safe, but your son, daughter, mother, or father was not special enough to save? The church has been circling the wagons literally and figuratively for 100+ years, reminding us up to and including this conference that we are at war with the Gentile world. How reassuring, then, to know that within this wagon circle, all are safe. Outside the circle, not so much .

    Yes, the talk applied the same factual standards as mainstream news, but my heart goes out to those who felt the hurt from the elitism and privilege described in the talk.

  6. RFM,

    I would encourage also to share the points where you happen to agree with the speakers regarding warm fuzzy inspiring and uplifting moments. Least you appear as simply a bitter exmo, people who fail to recognize the positive things regarding others lose a lot of credibility.

    Not everything Mormons practice, cherish, and believe is bad. Let’s avoid throwing out baby Jesus with the bath water.

    1. LOL!

      I hear what you are saying, David. I guess I am past the point where I find warm and fuzzy inspiring and uplifting.

      Not that I find nothing inspiring and uplifting.

      It’s just that the warm fuzzies don’t do it for me anymore.

      Have a great weekend!


    2. I also don’t have much use for “Especially for Mormons.”


      Here is a one-star review from a disappointed consumer.

      ★1 stars

      ☆2 stars

      ☆3 stars

      ☆4 stars

      ☆5 stars
      Save your money for something my useful!

      By Karinna, Submitted on 2015-02-25

      “I was sorely disappointed with this CD. It is riddled with typos and editing errors. It is difficult to navigate. Most quotes do not show the author or cite the reference. At least one story I know for a fact is untrue though it stated as truth. It states it is a $99.80 value but it is hardly worth the $19.95 I paid. I wish I hadn’t wasted my money!”

  7. Hey I know I’m late to this podcast, but I do see a lot of little miracles in the story of the fallen mountaineer. I guess it’s a matter of defining things, like miracle, or serendipity, or the opposite of a miracle (I don’t know what is the opposite of a miracle). Anyway, if all the facts given in the speech are true, then having experienced hikers walk right up to him and immediately call for help, and the new device they were using, and the highly distinguished hard to get neurologist who was available, all are synchronicities we hope for when we believe there is a father in heaven who cares about his children. I’m not sure we expect god to manage everything, so that the guy could just get up, dust himself off and walk away. I also kind of believe we sometimes involve ourselves in “accidents” for deeply rooted psychological reasons. Could the fall have been prevented by other behavior? Accident is a term as difficult to define as is miracle. Anyway, peace and blessings to the suffering Mormons from a never-mo, formerly wanna-be, not wanna-be anymore, lapsed protestant lazy pagan omnivore of religions, lately kind of romancing secular buddhism.

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