As a Rational Faiths permablogger I have an assigned date each month for my blog. On this month my assigned date is three days after General Conference. So I knew going in that I would need to watch Conference to have something to write about for my post this month. Based on what I saw I could pick my topic accordingly: what was the most liberal/progressive talk, who gave the most uplifting talk(s), or what talk made everyone in the bloggernacle mad as hell this time. The problem is: I just didn’t feel like watching Conference. It’s probably my fault; the Stake Presidency told me that I’m supposed to get all psyched up for Conference by reading my scriptures and former General Conference talks and praying that I will be inspired. I didn’t feel like doing that either.
Growing up I had a love/hate relationship with General Conference. I hated watching Conference and I loved trying to get out of it. When I was young my parents made me watch the Sunday sessions while my Saturday was still free. Unfortunately, at some point (8 years old?) they decided that I was going to be in for the long haul. I don’t care who says otherwise: General Conference is not for children. Depending on the attentiveness of my parents for that particular session, I had a few options: 1) try and pay attention, 2) draw and otherwise entertain myself with paper and pencil, or 3) sleep. Unfortunately if my drawings started to look too interesting my father would tell me to take away my pencil. And finding the right couch and angle to avoid my mother noticing my sleeping was very difficult. General Conference is made up of old people droning on for two hours straight. You have to have an iron will as a child to enjoy it.
As an adult my experience with General Conference didn’t much change. It was still boring and I still only paid attention to the loudest parts. Each Conference I would get excited about what new revelation might be coming only to be disappointed each time. Sure there were times when I found it more enjoyable. The more convinced I was that it was going to awesome the more likely it would be bearable and the more sure I was that I would be bored to tears that more likely it was to be so. So is it my fault or theirs? I still contend that anyone who says that Conference actually is exciting is lying with good intentions. Those mommy bloggers and Facebook friends with the glowing reviews are trying a little too hard. No one is that excited about 10-12 hours of talks, no matter the subject. Even after watching Star Wars for 12 hours I start to look for something else to do.
However, the reason I chose not to watch Conference this year was not because of boredom. Increasingly with Conference I become too emotionally invested in what the leaders will say. Talks that promote fundamentalism and literalism get me angry every time. The talks that are more on the liberal side get me very excited until we have a “Teachings for Our Time” lesson in Priesthood where I learn that all of the other members are interpreting it very differently than me or focusing on very different parts of the talk. I have emotional highs and lows during Conference, but mostly lows. While it’s a good thing to see some different perspectives from my own to try and grow and approach topics in a different way, it’s disappointing to see that so many of our top leaders see things from the perspective of old white people in Utah. I would appreciate some more progressive views, and less pulpit pounding on literalism. A diversity of voices would be nice. Some different opinions would go a long way. And some new revelation wouldn’t hurt either.
I will still read some of the talks on lds.org. I get more out of reading than listening to Conference. The talks are written first, and very few of the speakers are excellent or even average orators. The talks that I hear good things about I will read. And I will try to resist, but I’ll end up reading the talks that I hear were bad as well. Will I watch Conference next time? I’m not sure yet. It was nice to take a break, but curiosity could very well get the better of me for next time. But rest assured, if they announce that we’re moving to Missouri I’ll tune in.