The spiritual highlight of my weekend was viewing the early access premiere of "The Chosen" Season Two. I'm not supposed to give any spoilers. Let's just say that it fully measures up to the standard of quality set by Season One. I do still intend to write up a post about this phenomenal series someday when I get around to it.
General Conference was good too. I was happy for all the focus on Easter in this morning's session. It seems that in the past whenever Easter coincided with General Conference, they just acknowledged that fact and moved on. Hearing so much about the message of Christ's resurrection and what that means for us all was nice. Also in that session, they went out of their way to have speakers and prayers and singing from various countries on every inhabited continent, blatantly pandering to my obsession with diversity that eclipses my attention to spiritual messages. I want this level of diversity to be the norm, not a one-time gimmick. Speaking of which, three black men (Thierry K. Mutombo, Ahmad Corbitt, and Edward Dube) spoke in this General Conference, blowing the previous record (one) out of the water. A man who looks like a black man (Taniela B. Wakolo) also spoke, but his skin color doesn't count as black because he's from Polynesia, not Africa or Europe or the Americas. I don't make the rules. I was happy to see that José A. Teixeira's face rash is gone.
Skin color aside, Brother Corbitt's message was most meaningful to me personally. I was moved by his reminder that I can overcome Satan because I've already done it once. Elder Cook's talk about how wonderful bishops are reminded me of my last bishop who was about as inspired as a potato and let me down at every opportunity. A lot of typical stuff ran through the conference about patience and trusting in the Lord amid the unfairness and tragedy of the world. Nothing new, and nothing I wanted to hear, but kind of an oasis to refill my stamina in the endurance test of life. The last few weeks have felt like a slow death of a thousand paper cuts. I continue to wait on the Lord to take His sweet time to fulfill His promises to me, and to ponder how destroyed I'll be if He decides not to keep them after all. The longer it takes, the higher the risk of faith seems to be. But it's not like I have anything better to do.
When President Oaks announced that he felt impressed to talk about the Constitution of the United States, I blanched at how tonedeaf and how counter to the "We're a global church" messaging that sounded, but I reserved judgement and gave it a chance. It was all right. He focused on the Constitution's broader significance to the history of the Church and the principles that people throughout the world can apply from it, instead of preaching the "The United States is God's favorite country" BS I hear all too often. I support the Constitution, but having distanced myself significantly in the past few years from many of the kinds of people who rave about it, the word sometimes rubs me the wrong way when it shouldn't. I believe in the principles the Constitution stands for. I don't believe it's perfect and I don't believe it contains a definitive list of every right that humans are entitled to. I don't believe this country deserves my blind veneration for consistently failing to live up to those principles.
And of course I was happy about President Nelson announcing twenty more dots for Rick Satterfield's temple map. This is a new record for the most temples announced at one time. Of course, it has little to do with recent church growth. I certainly hope nobody listening to these announcements was under the misconception that Norway, Belgium, and Austria have experienced recent surges in growth that have made these temples necessary. In fact, in 2017 Belgium had five of its sixteen congregations (31%) consolidated, including the only ones in a couple of major cities. California, another temple announcement location, has been in consistent membership decline and stake consolidation for several years as people flee in search of a place that doesn't tax them for breathing. And as one would expect under the circumstances, church growth took a nose dive last year to less than half of its usual flat rate. Mozambique has had the most impressive growth of any location on the list, but its actual members aren't exactly placing a strain on the nearest temple in South Africa.
So of course most of these announcements were not driven by numerical need but by a desire to increase convenience for members. President Nelson wants to get all members within two hours of a temple, and that means drastically different things in different parts of the world. I rejoice either way, but since I know that we as a people like to look at faith-promoting numbers and pat ourselves on the back for not doing anything and say "The Church is true because it's growing so fast", I wanted to point that out. The temples announced were:
To be honest, I would have expected the next European temple to be in Scotland, for both distance and numerical reasons. Smithfield is right in my neighborhood, of course, and I admit the numbers here could actually warrant that announcement. I assume they'll build that one as fast as possible so we don't trample Brigham City into the ground when the Logan Temple closes for renovation in the near future. And I've changed my perspective on having more temples in Utah. I used to be as unenthusiastic as anyone else, but now I love them because they make Salt Lake Tribune commenters angry, and I enjoy watching terrible people get angry. Insert unoriginal sarcastic comment about how Christlike I am here.
The senior missionaries who pushed me to get endowed almost two years ago gifted me an Easter lily. I kept it on the kitchen table for a couple days, and then I put it outside because my apartment is perfectly located to prevent any significant amount of sunlight from getting in, so it would probably have fully bloomed by now if I'd done that in the first place, but I didn't and it hasn't. I water it sometimes. I had a thought the other night that maybe, in lieu of a sentient pet or spouse to love and be loved by, I could find purpose in life by devoting myself to this plant's well-being. But then I realized that's too risky. I don't even know yet if I can keep it alive for a week, so I'm not going to invest that kind of emotion into it right off. Maybe later.
As much as I like General Conference, I have to admit it started off on the wrong foot as the prophet and apostles, who should be leading the charge for liberty and agency (which are the same thing), instead opted to continue giving into fear of a virus that's no more dangerous than the flu. They closed Conference to the public once again, social distanced, wore masks, and in Elder Gong's case self-isolated after a potential exposure. I was not impressed. I expect the Lord's anointed to set a better example for us.
Favorite talk from Saturday morning session
President Dallin H. Oaks nailed it. First of all, I love how he didn't even try to hide his disgust with the current state of American political discourse. I don't either. Right now I'm teaching my students to accurately summarize and thoughtfully engage with ideas they may or may not agree with, and this past week I literally brought up the presidential debate as an example of why this is important. "Someday when you run for president," I said, mostly addressing my female students because Lord knows we don't need yet another white male president, "you can hold this country to a higher standard."
President Oaks condemned the rioting and violence that's been going on in the United States, and that didn't offend me since I've never supported the rioting and violence. I do understand the place of profound pain that it's coming from, and I did laugh when I told a friend that some people in Salt Lake flipped over a police car and set it on fire and without missing a beat she said "Well, roast pork is good", and I do think it's beyond ridiculous that those people are already facing life in prison for destroying an inanimate object while George Floyd's murderers haven't even gone to trial yet and Breonna Taylor's murderers just got a slap on the wrist for sending some stray bullets into a white family's apartment wall, but I don't support the rioting and violence.
So I really appreciated it when he went on to put a lot of people in their place, specifically the people who have unilateral condemned all the peaceful protests and pretended that racism is no longer an issue. It reminds me of the time a few years ago when I participated in a protest against Trump's Musl- er, refugee ban, and then went to church and listened to some idiot bear his testimony that the protests were part of the wickedness of the last days. Protesting, Elder Oaks said, is a constitutionally protected right and an acceptable way to push for change against unjust laws and abuses of power, which, Elder Oaks said, have occurred. (Emphasis in original.) It shouldn't take a legal scholar of his calibre to point that out, but here we are. He called on the United States and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to do better at rooting out racism. It was a breath of fresh air for many of my black brothers and sisters who have yearned for the Church to talk about these things more.
Elder Oaks, if not for the distance between us, the pandemic going on, and our socially constructed guidelines on acceptable modes of expression for same-sex platonic love, I could kiss you.
Favorite talk from Saturday afternoon session
Elder William K. Jackson, with a nice swinging cadence to his speech that one doesn't often get in this venue, spoke about how cultural diversity is awesome and how joining the Church doesn't mean giving up your culture. I'm big on cultural diversity, I love the rare occasions when I'm not surrounded by people who look and dress and talk like me, and I dream of a day when all white Saints in Utah can tell the difference between their cultural preferences (white shirts, no facial hair, boring music, etc.) and the actual gospel of Jesus Christ. Last year a black temple worker in Payson was told he couldn't be a temple worker if he had dreadlocks, but then the temple president checked with church headquarters and found out there's nothing wrong with a temple worker having dreadlocks, so that was very promising.
Honorable mention: Matthew S. Holland, for his hilarious kidney stone joke. Will he become an Apostle like his dad someday? I'm not sure how I would feel about that. The nepotism wouldn't bother me, but we don't need another white Apostle.
Favorite talk from Women's session
Honestly, I was half-asleep during this session. That sounds like a really rude thing to say but it really is just a natural result of the sleep deprivation torture that God has been subjecting me to since always. All the talks were really good. President Russell M. Nelson double-trolled me by mentioning temples like he was going to segue into surprise announcing the temples during the Women's session like he did last year, and then not doing that.
Favorite talk from Sunday morning session
President Russell M. Nelson discussed the interesting fact that one meaning of the word "Israel" is "Let God prevail", and it was really interesting. Then he seconded President Oaks' call for us to eradicate racism, and specifically singled out the plight of black people worldwide. Some of my black brothers and sisters were upset that at the opening of Conference he acknowledged the pandemic and wildfires but not racial unrest, and I hope this soothed their souls. For my white brothers and sisters who are sarcastically asking what they're supposed to do about racism when "I'm not racist and nobody I know is racist", here are a few suggestions to start with. They're my suggestions, not President Nelson's, but obviously we need some concrete ideas to translate his counsel into action.
1. The next time a cop murders a black person - which, let's be honest, will probably be tomorrow - don't immediately defend the cop and victim-blame the black person. Even if he or she "was no saint".
Edit: Actually, turns out it was yesterday. My bad.
2. Never touch a black woman's hair without permission. This is probably the most universal complaint I've heard from black women in Utah.
3. Stop pretending you don't understand what the phrase "black lives matter" means or why it's a thing. This has been explained many, many times. It doesn't mean you have to embrace every position of the BLM organization. I don't.
4. When your black friends, or people of any other race, complain about experiencing racism, listen to them instead of telling them they must be wrong because your perspective is the only one that's valid. Yes, this also means stop pretending that Candace Owens is the only black person who exists.
Honorable mention: Ulisses Soares with his talk about temptation and magnets. Sorry, Elder Soares, the competition was stiff.
Favorite talk from Sunday afternoon session
This was my favorite session overall, but I'm gonna have to say Elder Jeffrey R. Holland for his candid acknowledgement that this pandemic has gone on too freaking long (paraphrase) and that waiting really, really, really sucks (also a paraphrase). The isolation has been taking a heavy toll on me for nearly seven months and I'm also still waiting on God to fulfill some unrelated promises. I don't mind admitting that I hate God's timing. Don't lie, so do you. But I'll trust and be patient and then if He doesn't do what He said He would do, I'm going to become a deist. At least for now I have a nice job, schooling, and a bright future to dedicate myself to in the meantime.
Interest level: High
Interest level: High
Interest level: Negative infinity
Greater Guatemala City, Guatemala
Interest level: High
São Paulo East, Brazil
Interest level: High. I have a friend who lives in São Paulo and it takes him three hours to get to the temple that currently exists there. I'm not sure if he lives on the east side though.
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Interest level: High
October 2020 General Conference can be viewed here.
Last weekend, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, "In my video message, I invited all to join in fasting on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Many of you may have seen the video and joined in the fast. Some may have not. Now we still need help from heaven.
"So tonight, my dear brothers and sisters, in the spirit of the sons of Mosiah, who gave themselves to much fasting and prayer, and as part of our April 2020 general conference, I am calling for another worldwide fast. For all whose health may permit, let us fast, pray, and unite our faith once again. Let us prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic.
"I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized."
I'm not sure now why I didn't bother to mention that in my little recap of personal General Conference highlights. Fasting is whatever for me. I do it and I believe it enhances my pleas to heaven but I've rarely found it to be a super profound or uplifting experience. It drains me so much physically and mentally that I usually do little more than sit on the couch until I can eat. Sometimes I eat an hour or two early. I'm skinny, okay?
Certainly I gave no thought to the seemingly superfluous fact that this invitation had been extended to "those not of our faith". Of course they would be welcome to participate, just as they are always welcome to watch General Conference or attend the meetings and activities we used to have before the you-know-what, but I implicitly assumed that few would have cause to notice or care about this invitation, and that their participation in the fast, however welcome and appreciated, would be statistically insignificant.
Well, what do I know about anything? That very weekend a few missionaries made a Facebook group for the fast, which swelled to over half a million members by the time Good Friday rolled around, at least in my time zone which is the only one that matters anyway. It swelled to over half a million members despite Facebook's mindless algorithms freaking out over this rapid growth and blocking many if not most of us from adding our friends because something something spam. I tried to add people at least eight times with no success. That would have been impressive enough, but reading through the posts absolutely blew my mind. Post after post from people who stopped participating in the Church years ago, or actively disaffiliated from it, but now wanted to join with us in this fast. Post after post from people who had never been part of our church, including Catholics, various kinds of Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, pagans, and even atheists, who wanted to join with us in this fast.
I've never seen anything like it before. Interfaith cooperation, sure, but not on such a grassroots and global scale. I also noted that the contempt for Muslims and/or LGBT people which I've witnessed from scores of so-called Latter-day Saints elsewhere on Facebook was nowhere to be seen in this group when Muslims or LGBT people posted to identify themselves as Muslims or LGBT people. This group seems to have brought out the best in virtually everyone. I can't help thinking that if it were to serve as a model for the human race going forward, if the pandemic brought us all together and made us forget our petty differences and live as a harmonious global community, it would be a net positive for the human race by far. Of course that won't happen or won't last more than a couple months but it's a nice thought regardless. At least within this group I hope bridges that have been built that will last lifetimes, especially as it is now being transitioned to the more generic "Worldwide Inspiration".
Today my Easter celebration has consisted of joining a Zoom devotional with my old ward, hiking a couple hours out to a secluded spot to pray, and eating Cadbury eggs. I wish my religious community and society in general made as big a deal out of Easter as we do Christmas, but it is a little harder when it's observed on a different day every year because something something moon phases. Regardless, I believe that because of the hope embodied in the message of Easter, everything is going to be okay in the long term no matter how many people are killed by the you-know-what and whatever else. Each and every one of them will live again. And I'm not afraid to join their numbers. If it were up to me, I would much rather just get the you-know-what and take my chances than be stuck at home alone for God knows how long. But I don't want to cause more avoidable deaths either because that's still wrong even if they are temporary. So whatever. Happy Easter!
General Conference has been disrupted by disease pandemics twice before, in 1918 when it was postponed for a couple months and in 1957 when it was canceled altogether, and its being disrupted a third time really underscores the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in as a global community. But thanks to our miracles of miraculous technology in this, the world of tomorrow, the disruption didn't amount to much this time around and things continued on schedule with the necessary precautions taken. The only real loss was being forced to use Tabernacle Choir recordings for the music instead of the originally planned live multicultural choir from the Wasatch Front. Yes, I know a multicultural choir from the Wasatch Front sounds like an oxymoron, but apparently they were going to make it happen and it would have been cool.
I have little to say about the actual content of the actual talks, because most of them seemed to hammer home the same point over and over: the importance and desirability of seeking and receiving personal revelation. That's exactly what one would expect on the two hundredth anniversary of Joseph Smith's First Vision, and exactly what I wanted to hear in this delicate phase of my life where I crave said personal revelation. I have a strong testimony of personal revelation because I've had experiences with God placing thoughts in my head, giving me knowledge I didn't have and guiding me to do things I couldn't do on my own. I've also had experiences with begging God for said guidance, being told to make my own decisions, and making my own decisions which then lead to disaster. Last year I got pretty upset with him for not helping me out of a situation that I was only in because I followed his prompting to begin with. Maybe it was just a learning and growth experience. Maybe the actual outcome didn't matter to him. But it mattered to me.
So in this situation I'm currently facing which is none of your business, I have perfect faith that God can help me, but whether he will is another question altogether. And if he's not going to then I'd just as soon bail out now and not waste any more emotional energy on it. But after these messages and the thoughts and feelings that came to mind, I feel good about continuing in my present course one day at a time. And my present course involves hoping and praying but not actually doing much of anything because I can't. I have to learn patience, you see, during those periods of life when I'm all but powerless to effect actual change. It sucks.
I did also like these words from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: "When we have conquered this [the you-know-what], and we will, may we be equally committed to freeing the world from the virus of hunger and freeing neighborhoods and countries from the virus of poverty. May we hope for schools where students are taught - not terrified they will be shot - and for the gift of personal dignity for every child of God, unmarred by any form of racial, ethnic or religious prejudice. The rising generation deserve so much more."
Okay, so actually the United States of America is the only country where students are terrified they will be shot, because the United States of America is the only country where students are shot in schools on a regular basis. And usually it bothers me when church members or leaders bring up specifically American politics or concerns in what's supposed to be a global context. But in this case, the rebuke is so well-deserved that I'm letting it slide.
New Black Leaders
Anyone who's bothered to peruse the rest of my site has noticed that I follow the Church's past and present relations with people of black African descent religiously, no pun intended, so it brought me great joy to see the number of men of black African descent on the annual General Authorities and General Officers chart double from three to six in one afternoon. I mean, the chart isn't out yet but when it is these men of black African descent will be on it.
With a much larger and faster growing church membership, it's quite ironic that Nigeria took eleven years longer than Kenya to get its first General Authority. Speaking of growing church membership...
I don't know why they stopped reporting the annual statistics in the conference itself, but I think it was a good move because it makes it harder for lazy members to be like "Yay, the Church is growing because it's true" and pat themselves on the back for doing nothing. Still, the latest statistics do contain some data to be happy about. After being its lowest since 1937 in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, the Church's growth rate in 2019 went up instead of down for the first time in thirty years. This will probably be an increasing trend rather than a fluke because we knew it was coming sooner or later as an inevitable result of countries with smaller membership bases and higher growth rates finally gaining the critical mass to make a dent in the global trend. Of course, that global trend might completely go to hell in 2020 thanks to the you-know-what disrupting missionary work and church operations, but the long-term future is bright.
The youth speakers in the Saturday afternoon session were adorable, yet powerful and moving in their conviction. I want to hear random people speak in General Conference more often.
The Church has a new logo to broadcast its Christ-centric focus to the world. This logo will be used for official broadcasts and publications. Naturally, it goes without saying that we ordinary members should not start plastering this logo all over our own memes, inspirational quotes, blogs and so forth, falsely implying official endorsement or sanction for them. I will continue to use my little Moroni favicon that faces the wrong way.
Also, it really triggered some guy named Kenneth and I thought that was funny.
I've accepted that despite all my effort I will never be as smart or influential as Jaxon Washburn is without trying, but I've been Facebook friends with him for a few years and he didn't used to be this sarcastic, so I'm going to take credit for that aspect of his personality. You're welcome.
New Proclamation to the World
Declaring to the world the truth and importance of Joseph Smith's First Vision, this is only the fifth such proclamation from church leadership in history. I mean, there's nothing in it that we didn't already know, but it's a cool thing to hang on your wall. Read it here.
President Rusell M. Nelson saved these for the end of the last session, as he always does except when he decides to be a troll and put them in the women's session.
Bahía Blanca, Argentina
Enthusiasm Level: High
Enthusiasm Level: Moderate
Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Enthusiasm Level: High
Enthusiasm Level: Moderate
Benin City, Nigeria
Enthusiasm Level: High
Enthusiasm Level: Literally nonexistent as soon as I realized that of course he wasn't talking about Syracuse, New York
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Enthusiasm Level: Through the proverbial roof
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Enthusiasm Level: I swore out loud, but in a good way
These latter two temples obviously took a great deal of delicate work behind the scenes. In the case of the PRC, President Nelson was of course uniquely positioned to make it happen because of his positive relationship with the country going back decades. I knew better than to get my hopes up but I didn't think it at all unlikely that something would happen in that regard with him as President of the Church. I think it's neat that as an Apostle over thirty years ago, he also spearheaded the Church's establishment in several countries of the Soviet Union. In his book Accomplishing the Impossible he recalls meeting with Bulgaria's head of religous affairs Tsviatko Tsvetkov who gruffly said, "Mormons? I've never heard of you." To which he responded, "That makes us even. We have never heard of you, either. It's time we got acquainted." Everyone laughed and the tension dissipated. Love that man.
During this last bit I thought of my paternal grandmother who joined the Church fifty years ago, and how awe-inspiring it must be for her to witness the growth and changes that have happened during that time. I don't expect or hope to live that long, but I wonder what the next fifty years will hold?
This weekend was the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I'm tired of explaining what that is twice a year, so from now on I won't. As usual I will fixate on a few details instead of attempting to summarize the whole thing.
I didn't much care about the changes to the Young Men's program, which will have approximately zero effect on my life, nor would I have cared about the corresponding changes to the Young Women's program - except for my hope that they would dispense with the longstanding age-based class names, "Beehives", "Mia Maids", and "Laurels". From the time I was a teenager, I thought those names sounded stupid. But after learning their historical significance and the reasoning behind them, I just thought they sounded stupid. Really, just because a name made sense in Utah in 1950 doesn't mean we need to hold onto it forever. For zark's sake, the "Mia" in "Mia Maids" stands for "Mutual Improvement Association" which literally hasn't been a thing since before the current Young Women's parents were in Young Women. So I watched the women's session, or to be more precise, listened to the women's session while playing "Plants vs. Zombies", just to see if these stupid names would be relegated to the dustbin of history where they belong.
Yes, I could have just waited until after to find out, but I wanted the pleasure of witnessing this long overdue moment firsthand. And also feeling the Spirit and stuff. I was not disappointed. Although, now that the archaic term "Mutual" is being entirely jettisoned as well with respect to both the Young Men and Young Women programs, the Mutual dating app (which I wrote about at greater length here) may need to be renamed as well to retain its significance to future generations. I recommend "The App for the Assistance of Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Marrying and Procreating Within the Boundaries of the Lord's Divine Law of Chastity". It's not catchy, but every word is important.
My karmic reward for watching an extra session for such a petty reason came swiftly. President Nelson said some words and then he started talking about temples and I was like Wait, this is the way he starts talking before he announces new temples, but he does that at the end of the Sunday afternoon session, so surely he wouldn't oh who am I kidding, of course he would troll us like this just because he can and at that moment the WiFi freaked out and the audio inexplicably cut in to the late Elder Perry talking about the joy of keeping the commandments with soft inspirational music in the background, and I frantically refreshed the page while breaking a commandment or two in my frantic verbal outburst, and then President Nelson was back and he was blurry and his lips weren't synchronized with his voice but that was fine, at least I could hear him, but wait, was this a rerun of the temple announcements from April, because it sounded kind of similar, but no wait, it was fresh and he totally trolled us and I would have been pissed if I had missed that session or that fragment of the session.
What follows are my very professional and spiritual analyses of those temple announcements. With this batch compared to the last one, there seemed to be a bit of a shift back toward building temples where the number of members and stakes justifies it, as opposed to prioritizing convenience for members in far-flung locations even if they be few. But of course both elements are still at play.
Cobán, Guatemala - I expected this one, but not for a few more years since it's kind of out in the jungle, but then, with the way some recent announcements have gone, I expected the unexpected which means I expected everywhere and nowhere at once. Cobán, Reykjavik, Mars, it's all fair game for President Nelson, isn't it?
Bacolod, Philippines - It would seem that the Philippines has somewhat improved upon its historically abysmal activity and retention rates, with stake growth on the increase and five of its seven current or future temples announced in the last decade.
Bentonville, Arkansas - Arkansas is one of the states in the United States without a temple, and the Rogers area is one of the few areas in the United States more than two hundred miles away from one. So it's been on people's lists for years and gotten really annoying. Bentonville should be close enough to shut them up.
Freetown, Sierra Leone - How can the Church have a faith-promoting independent film based on a true story named after this city, but not a temple? It's about time that situation was rectified. By the way, notwithstanding its imdb rating, I recommend the film. "God's Army" it ain't but on the plus side, "The Singles Ward" it ain't either. And it's not a comedy but because it's set in West Africa it has a few moments that are actually funny without an insider knowledge of Provo culture that most people neither have nor desire.
McAllen, Texas - I'm surprised all the Saints in Texas didn't apostatize after they were told to stop bringing their guns to church. Miracles do happen in this day and age. It may serve several members in northeastern Mexico as well, but then again it may not, because owing to policies and politicians who will not be discussed here at this time, traveling across the border has become an absurdly arduous and time-consuming process. Even for Americans!
Orem, Utah - This, in case I've failed to mention it before, is the city where I was born. Unless I'm mistaken we moved before my first birthday; in any case, I don't remember it one bit, and since it's basically Provo I've never had the slightest desire to go back and see it ever. Still, yay for getting a temple in the city where I was born. Especially since getting one in the town where I grew up is about as likely as Mars.
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea - This is one of those locations where a few years ago people were bragging about the dramatic growth of the Church, and then it just kind of fizzled out overnight. (See also: Madagascar.) Still, membership numbers more than warrant a temple even without taking into account their poverty and the long distances to their nearest ones in Australia and New Zealand.
Taylorsville, Utah - ANOTHER TEMPLE IN UTAH!!!!!!! HOW VERY EXCITING!!!!!!! I CAN BARELY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT FOR ANOTHER TEMPLE IN UTAH!!!!!!!1
Of course, I'm not one of those "uTaH dOeSn'T nEeD mOrE tEmPlEs" folks, because my intellect is capable of grasping the concept that buildings have a finite capacity and sometimes can get too full.
My favorite talk was by Elder Peter M. Johnson. An African-American from New York City, his voice has a cadence not quite like anything I've heard in General Conference before, and it riveted me to his every word so that I got more out of his talk than most. He could have read a phone book and I would have paid attention. This also would have given phone books a reason to exist. The missionaries seated near me who appeared to have fallen asleep might not agree, but to each their own. So, you know, go ahead and watch it if you haven't.
With only a few minutes remaining in the final session, I felt somewhat alarmed that nobody, as far as I could notice, had remembered to utter the words "this historic conference". But President Nelson slipped them into his talk and put me at ease. That man never lets me down.
In closing, I would like to change subjects completely and note the passing of actress Diahann Carroll. I read this little book of comics once that I could have sworn was written by Charles Schultz, but it had a multiracial cast and almost exclusively focused on race issues, but I can't find out anything about it now, but anyway in one comic this little black boy was like, "I'm very disappointed in this book 'Black Beauty'. I thought it was going to be about Diahann Carroll." And all these years later I still think that's one of the funniest things ever.
Dihann Carroll will be remembered as the first black woman to win a Tony award (back when the Tony awards had standards, no less) and the first black woman to star in a non-stereotypical television role (I guess we're not counting Lieutenant Uhura? idk, I'm just going by what Wikipedia says), but to me, she will mostly be remembered a. for the aforementioned comic, and b. for her guest role in "The Star Wars Holiday Special" as singing Wookiee porn. I don't know how else to describe it. Between her dialogue and Chewbacca's father's horrific reaction to it, one marvels that this scene was allowed on television in 1978 or ever. And then one realizes, oh, of course, by that point in the Special the censorship people reviewing it had slipped into a coma. As for why it, and the entire Special, was written and filmed in the first place, one can only hypothesize that the creators couldn't find real drugs and drank gasoline instead. Even so. She was the first black character with a speaking role in Star Wars (since James Earl Jones technically played a white guy), and still the only one with a singing role that I'm aware of, and that's worth remembering.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.