Saturday, October 11, 2014

What in the name of Ronald E. Poelman is going on?

If you've never heard of Roland Poelman, please click here. It's a poster example of the Church modifying a general authorities conference talk after it was given in an attempt to correlate and alter things it didn't like. The message was not just altered, it was turned inside out.

The changes, in my view, were not for the good. The changes in that talk are a good representation of some of the widespread beliefs and assumptions about that very topic. Poelman apparently was required to revise the text of the sermon for publication in the Ensign and re-delivered the edited sermon on film. A "cough track" was included in the re-taping to make it appear that the revised sermon was delivered in front of an audience. The church spliced the re-taped sermon into the tapes of general conference prior to their distribution and archival.

Thankfully none of that strangeness is the least bit able to change the truth.  A testimony based on the truth of the gospel need not be troubled by what mistakes or odd decisions, or alterations the church does or does not make.

In honor of that altered talk, I became aware of another instance of "mis"correlation, which is also very interesting. It's small and simple, but we all know small and simple is no guarantee it's effect will be.

At the beginning of the Women's Session on September 27, 2014, President Uchtdorf opened his talk to the women of the Church by saying:

"My beloved sisters, my dear friends and blessed disciples of Jesus Christ, I am honored to have this opportunity to be with you as we open another general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the coming week the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles will meet with all the General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders, and the remaining sessions of our worldwide general conference will follow on the coming Saturday and Sunday" (emphasis added).

From his remarks it is pretty clear that he considers the Women's Session the first session of General Conference. Which is new. Why this is new? I have no idea. Seems like a great oversight to not have it be a session of conference. The news reported a very positive response from women of the church as it has been long debated whether the Women's Session (until recently the Relief Society Session and the Young Women's Session) actually was a part of General Conference, or if it was just its own meeting.

The message from Elder Uchtdorf was further backed up by Elder Bruce A. Carlson's opening prayer for the Priesthood Session, in which he gives thanks for this "fourth session." The Priesthood Session would be the fourth session if you are counting the Women's Session as the first. You can hear the blaring blaspheme in the original clip available online, clip. However, if you go to the General Conference archives at and listen to the opening prayer, you will notice the newly edited version.

So. Why edit it? What was SO important about the numbering of conference sessions that it merited removal? Why try to change something so insubstantial after its already been said? Publicly. In front of a pretty big audience. Pretty soon are they going to require the prayers to be written too? So correlation can pre-screen them?

If the church was trying to build better relationships with women, and show equality where it should have always been, this is sure an odd, odd, odd move. The alteration at some level didn't bother me because I see a difference between the Church and the Gospel. Ironically the very thing Ronald E. Poelman's talk was designed to help members do. The action of a audio visual employee to remove a word from a prayer is not Gospel centered. It's just something the corporation for some reason decided was important.

There are other instances of the Church getting caught using their editing tricks. Just ask those angels in Carl Heinrich Bloch's 1873 painting how they liked having their wings photoshopped out and modest sleeves photoshopped in.

People notice, and these small things do matter. They matter to the women who were excited at the idea of their meetings being equally important to not only the Priesthood, but the other sessions of General Conference as well. And they likely matter to Carl Bloch who's piece was altered from it's original.

Another instance of conference edits from this conference is Elder Robert D Hales in his closing testimony. He said the following:

“I bear my special witness that our Savior is Jesus Christ, that He lives, that our Eternal Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us, that we have a prophet in this dispensation to lead and to guide us. The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true to each who goes and seeks the knowledge. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

However, in the published version on his talk.. this was added in red.

“I bear my special witness that our Savior is Jesus Christ, that He lives, that our Eternal Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us, that we have a prophet in this dispensation—even President Thomas S. Monson—to lead and to guide us....

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