The October 2018 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Me
The latest General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter never again to be called the LDS Church, the Mormon Church, or any of the less flattering names that internet trolls like to copy-paste in hopes that someone will mistakenly think they're clever) has been, as usual, a much-needed refuge from the stupid crap going on in the world and in my life. Although I've had more trouble than usual sleeping lately and especially last night, and was only semi-conscious for today's sessions, it was still a calming and uplifting and faith-building experience. I believe so strongly in this church and its mission and feel very blessed to be a part of it. This is my first attempt at writing about General Conference right after it happens instead of a week later, and I'm playing around with the format and trying to do something other than just comment on a bunch of talks that people just watched, so we'll see how it goes. In my preemptive defense let me point out that I'm still only semi-conscious.
I heard the rumor about church changing from three to two hours and thought it was ridiculous. Shows how much I know. Of course, I'm one of those who's excited about it for all the wrong reasons. I'm sort of an elitist jerk whose tendency is to zone out the moment I don't feel intellectually stimulated by what I'm hearing, instead of listening to the Spirit and yadda yadda yadda. And for the past few months I've been going to the family history room during the third hour instead of Elders' Quorum, which I find difficult to sit through. Traditionally I much prefer the mixed groups in sacrament meeting and Sunday school to the monolith of men. Lately I've been better at fostering meaningful platonic relationships with men, but traditionally it's been awkward. Someone helpfully pointed out the issue years ago: "I know you're uncomfortable hanging out with guys because you don't want people to think you're gay, but actually, hanging out with girls all the time is what will make people think that." And I was freaked out at first, but then I realized that if she had actually read my mind, she would have gone mad.
Anyway. The proper reason to get excited about two-hour church is that the focus of gospel learning is being shifted more into the home, for me and my two inactive roommates to deal with. I'm glad everyone else in the Church is qualified for these "higher law" changes. I still haven't done anything with "ministering". The monthly visits were out of my comfort zone already, and I got to doing them consistently anyway, and them bam, this more vague mandate that I still have no idea what to do with. I don't have a ton of experience making friends, okay?
I've been grappling lately with the realization that I can't have and don't want a family, and the discomfort that causes me in such a fundamentally family-centric religion. From my vantage point it looks more often than not as though God built me to be incompatible with His plan for ostensibly the entire human race. And I'm positive that not one person in the church's leadership understands my unique challenges. I don't think there ever has been or ever will be an Aspie ace Apostle. May people throughout the world could undoubtedly say the same about the things they're dealing with. So naturally, I zone out whenever conference talks are about marriage or raising children. But... I feel encouraged in my personal relationship with God, and encouraged that He does understand and care. And that's enough for now. I must say the positives of my membership in this church and my testimony of most of its teachings far outweigh the discomfort, or of course I wouldn't still be here. I hope my experience is comforting to some who deal with similar awkwardness.
Another talk about forgiveness. I'm not a forgiving person. How can I forgive someone who inflicted damage on me that I will have to deal with until I die? I'm not that humble or that strong. I hope they talk about forgiveness again for at least the next twenty years so I'll have a chance to get it right.
I've developed sort of an unhealthy obsession with diversity, and get an extra thrill when anyone who isn't white and/or American speaks. Don't get me wrong, most of my best friends are white and/or American, but the diversity of God's garden - and I hate myself for being so sappy, but honestly - is such a breath of fresh air. The Deseret News ran an article last week about how the number and percentage of General Authorities from outside the United States have increased in the last forty years. The actual membership as a whole is quite a bit more diverse, but that diversity is of course trickling up at an exponential rate and it's wonderful to see. The more skin colors and nations and walks of life I see represented, the more my heart burns with love for all my brothers and sisters of varying skin colors and nations and walks of life. In the words of the great preacher Emo Philips, "Why be prejudiced against anyone because of their race or nationality or creed... when there are so many real reasons to hate others?" I kid, I kid.
Nonetheless, I love President Russell M. Nelson the most. I never expected him to capture my heart like this when I had little opinion on him prior to his current calling. Maybe it's his sense of humor, maybe it's just an ineffable charisma, maybe it's that he has far more energy than me despite being sixty-nine years older, but I love and sustain him one way or another. It's always easier to follow the prophet when he's already likeable as a person.
And I actually appreciate that he's moved the temple announcements to the end, instead of putting the best part at the beginning and going downhill from there given the pace he's set, I wasn't at all surprised when today he set the new record for most temples to be announced at one time (twelve) despite already announcing seven more six months ago. I'm so happy for myself now getting to look at more dots on a map, and I'm so happy for the Latter-day Saints in and near Mendoza, Argentina; Salvador, Brazil; Yuba City, California; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Praia, Cape Verde; Yigo, Guam; Puebla, Mexico; Auckland, New Zealand; Lagos, Nigeria; Davao, Philippines; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Washington County, Utah; which is less lame than it sounds because it's outside the Wasatch Front. It seems wev'e crossed a threshold of dotting the Earth with temples and will only go further from here, and I personally know some people who will be affected by these. Speaking of temples, Rick Satterfield's website is back online with a facelift and well worth the wait.
Tune in next week for something that I haven't decided yet.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, 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.