Week In Review for October 7–11
The week following General Conference always guarantees news and discussions. Here are the highlights from the October 2013 sessions and the most-discussed blog posts surrounding conference:
Second Counselor in the First Presidency, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, struck a chord with questioning members when he cautioned the faithful against assuming that people leave over sin or laziness. “It’s not that simple,” he insisted. He further acknowledged that in the past church leaders have made mistakes that deviate from Mormon doctrine and values. While this may seem an obvious statement to those of us invested in Mormon history and studies, having it acknowledged in General Conference—an event some Mormons see as almost akin to scripture—is a remarkable development. So remarkable, it received a write-up in the New York Times.
Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, continued in his role of asserting that the church cannot abide gay marriage, and that they see its growing acceptance as a threat to religious liberty. Oaks raised eyebrows for his statement that LDS policies and doctrines cannot change because they are sanctioned of God. This is a curious departure from more recent LDS attempts to explain very real changes (such as with the priesthood and temple ban) by simply labeling them “policies.” Oaks is apparently suggesting even policies don’t change.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson edited a potentially contentious phrase out of the print-version of his talk. During his spoken delivery, Christofferson had referred to “feminist thinkers” in a pejorative sense, as people who view homemaking with disdain. The printed version now eliminates the phrase “feminist thinkers” and only says “some” people view homemaking with contempt.
In non-conference news, a new study suggests Ashkenazi Jews (of Central and Eastern Europe) are not descended from Israel, as their tradition suggests, but instead from European women who may have married Jewish men who had settled in the Roman empire. The researchers concluded some 80% of the Ashkenazi descended from European women, and only 8% from the Near East.
In the Blogs
There were of course numerous online responses to General Conference, some glowing, some extremely negative, most not particularly thoughtful. However, Steve Evans at By Common Consent posted a response to the Dallin Oaks talk that is worth a read, if not for anything more than a look at how a believing member who might disagree with an apostle in General Conference walks that line.
Nicole Hardy wrote a book about finding herself a thirty-five year old Mormon virgin, a “child trapped in a woman’s body.” Apart from not being able to experience sex, Hardy also found herself questioning her faith. The book, Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin is the result. There are only a handful of memoirs from women discussing their lives in a deeply patriarchal culture, and this adds another important angle.