A few random observations for my own record.
The virus will not stop the Lord from embracing us it says. The proposition that a virus is somehow keeping God socially distanced is pretty lame. Despite that, apparently enough people feel that way or else the Church President wouldn't have had to make such a statement.
But there's something else troubling about that statement. Some things DO keep people form coming to Christ and receiving Him. Many of those things are ignored, passed over, or not taught. Instead we are constantly fed a diet of emotionally reassuring messages. I'm not sure if anyone actually expects Jesus to embrace them during LDS General Conference. We of course use such statements to refer to warm fuzzies or comforting sentiment we feel when speakers say things we like. But doctrine such as actually coming to Christ is not only not taught, it's warned about. (See this piece on the "Boise Rescue").
But anyway, after conference and looking back at the message from the Church in my inbox, I'm left concluding that these reassuring messages are not all that reassuring as they don't prepare you nor tell you a great deal of substance. There's a fair amount of feel good nothingness. The message are often a religious recap of what you read in the news or whatever the flavor or social issue of the month is. For the time being, that's definitely the virus.
As the pandemic alarm was getting started in the US last April, The Church called for and held a worldwide fast. The fast's stated purpose included a petition for life to normalize and the economy to be strengthened. Below are some worldwide numbers around the same time as this fast. Hopefully the below stats are not considered normal.
But anyway, it's an interesting question to ask if the fast worked. Such a thing is difficult to measure. Did anyone repent of anything like what scriptures speak of? Or was it more of a petition for resumed economic prosperity and to go back to the same stuff we were doing before the pandemic? Food for thought. What I do know is that when we do what God asks, promises follow. But when we don't, we don't have the same assurance.
Back to the recent LDS general conference. The invitation said to prepare to hear the words of the Lord spoken through His servants. Meaning of course the leaders of the Church who would speak. That's a really inspiring thought. If it doesn't pan out, it must be the members who didn't prepare or are deaf. Or at least that's what I'm told.
Ok, so D&C 84:88
88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
The Lord did promise to be on the right and left and angels to surround. But who did he promise that to? Is this promise applicable to anyone who tunes into LDS general conference? That seems to be what was implied by the Church announcement. It seemed to suggest that we (the audience of the e-mail) are the ongoing recipients of this D&C promise. But who was that scripture speaking to, and on what grounds?
D&C 84:88 is talking to the messengers/apostles the Lord himself sent out. They were to carry neither purse nor script for their ministry. They were to be taken care of and dependent on the people they ministered to. They were in fact true messengers with a message from God. Rather than their own message, they preached God's message. As a result, God made promises. That's pretty specific. Don't get me wrong, I think we should apply all scriptures to ourselves, but I don't think that means you simply inherit promises made to other people at another time, simply by reading about them.
Part of the promise found in verse 88 was because these messengers were going out to preach without means for their own support. Is that how our leaders go out into the world? Without purse or script? What proper comparisons ought we to make or not make between our day and these scriptures? Can we claim the same promises apply to our day simply because leaders have titles that sound the same? Can we as members turn around also and feel warm fuzzies that these same reassuring promises apply to us when we don't even know the context of the promises?
Also from D&C 88:
Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come.
How do we prepare for the coming judgement? One talk put forward the great import of possessing a temple recommend. I questioned whether that would ultimately prove helpful in the face of the judgement scriptures speak of. So what would help prepare for the coming judgement? We hopefully all know the answer to that. It's to repent, turn from all the garbage that surrounds us, and follow Christ. Who I believe is actively speaking to mankind today.
One of the biggest concerns is that religion is reassuring us with soothing out of context words that may well leave us totally empty and unprepared for God's judgements. That's the concern here. Is that cliché phrases and feel good talks that mention Jesus a lot sooth, and lull people to sleep. They do nothing to show our actual state before God. Which the scriptures say is "awful". They stop short of preparing us for how to actually come to Christ. The scriptures said our collective situation was awful before the pandemic, but we seem to want to return to it.
Anyway, that email message at the beginning of this post said we have special opportunity to feel the Lord's love during the upcoming General Conference. Feel. It's all about feelings. We seem to mistake feeling for doctrine, facts for sentiment, emotional stories for truth. It's a crazy day we live in.
What ever happened to learning something? If all we ever want is to "feel" the feelings produced by listening to men (only 2 women spoke during all of the General Sessions) in suits talk from atop a multi billion dollar religious empire.... well we already have that. And it's not producing Zion.
"Invite others" they said.... to listen to these messages. So they too can "feel" this apparently amazing feeling. We've become saturated by feelings and don't seem to notice anymore how we know less and less about Christ's gospel. Less and less substance seems to be the new norm. I mean apparently there was so little said in conference that was noteworthy that the Church's own Deseret News turned to the talk's footnotes for something interesting to report about conference, see here.
General Conference has become disappointingly generic. The Latter-day famine continues. It may give you a warm fuzzy though.
On another note, there's a great new video series over at LearnofChrist.org. And maybe Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy.