Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Conference 2016

Pres. Ucthdorf opened the Saturday morning session with several Book of Mormon citations and allusions.
  • "As we become more familiar with something, even something miraculous and awe-inspiring, we lose our sense of awe and treat it as commonplace."
  • "We are surrounded by such an astonishing wealth of light and truth that I wonder if we truly appreciate what we have." I am reminded of the 199 KnoWhys we have published at Book of Mormon Central since January 1, 2016.
  • "How could it ever be possible that we of all people would not be excited about ... or get tired of reading the Holy Scriptures?" 
  • "...gratitude and awe for the sacred and sublime gifts God has granted us."
  • "We can look forward to what Moroni called 'the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah' " Moroni 10:34. Royal Skousen in the Yale 2009 text renders this and Jacob 6:13 as "pleading bar" referring to a courtroom fixture derived from English jurisprudence.
  • "Does it not fill our minds with wonder and awe to contemplate the great plan of happiness?" Alma 42:8
  • "Does it not fill us with unspeakable joy?" Helaman 5:44 which is intertextual with 1 Peter 1:8.
  • "Can ye feel so now?" Alma 5:26
Pres. Ucthdorf mentioned the Belfast Coat of Arms.
Belfast, Northern Ireland Coat of Arms
The Belfast motto "What shall we give in return for so much?" derives from Psalms 116:2. I am reminded of our Moroni Day 2016 celebration recently concluded where dozens of people contributed financially to help Book of Mormon Central share the Nephite text with the world in engaging ways.

Other Book of Mormon references:
Elder Craig C. Christensen began his talk quoting Moroni who told the Prophet, Joseph, that his "name should be had for good and evil among all nations." Joseph Smith History 1:33. Book of Mormon Central currently engages about 40,000 people per day in dozens of countries with well-researched and well-packaged scholarship that extols Joseph Smith and vindicates his mission as a Prophet. We noticed last week that an anti-Mormon group has recently set up a vaguely similar apparatus to criticize Joseph and denigrate his mission as a Prophet. Moroni's prophecy is being fulfilled. Elder Christensen referenced "the great plan of redemption" Jacob 6:8 and Alma 34:31. "For many of us, a witness of the Prophet, Joseph, begins as we read the Book of Mormon." Elder Christensen's own conversion story followed that pattern.

Elder Christensen called the Book of Mormon the impetus for some of Joseph's questions that led to restored truth and saving ordinances. John the Baptist restoring the Aaronic Priesthood is one example. Next year's Gospel Doctrine lessons will focus on Church History and the Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon can be seen as a template, almost a handbook of instructions, for many of the ordinances and organizations we follow in the contemporary Church. Joseph and Emma lost their first child, Alvin, the same day he was born on June 15, 1828 in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Elder Christensen's reading of Moroni 8:11-24 in light of their loss is instructive. Interpreting 2 Nephi 3:6-15 as referring to Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith, Jr. does cause one to wonder how the Prophet reacted when he came to that ancient prophecy about himself and his mighty ministry like unto Moses. Describing Joseph's impressive accomplishments after 1829 and his increasing legacy, Elder Christensen asked "Is not the fulfillment of this prophecy compelling evidence of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith?" "Because Joseph was a prophet, we have witness upon witness, testimony upon testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the World," fulfilling 1 Nephi 13:40.     
Elder Gary E. Stevenson in his Saturday afternoon address "Look to the Book, Look to the Lord" told the story of Mary Elizabeth Rollins who loved the Book of Mormon from the moment she first held it in her hands in 1830. The image that displayed on TV during this portion of Elder Stevenson's talk was a 2012 painting of Mary Elizabeth by outstanding Orem, Utah artist Elspeth Young.
"Growing Light" by Elspeth Young
Sister Young has a similar 2012 painting, also of Mary Elizabeth reading the Book of Mormon, entitled "The Treasure."
"The Treasure" by Elspeth Young
Both works are part of the Pioneer Fine Art Collection by the remarkable artists of Al Young Studios.

Mary Elizabeth went on to rescue parts of the Book of Commandments when anti-Mormon mobs destroyed W.W. Phelps' printing press in Independence, Missouri in 1833. Something of a painter herself, she became a plural wife of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. She died in Utah in 1913, the last surviving plural wife of the Prophet, Joseph.

The family members who make up Al Young Studios (Elspeth is Al's daughter) have a special affection for the Book of Mormon. Their "Heroes of the Book of Mormon" series has some of the finest art pieces ever painted on the subject. Al's 2009 book entitled "My Father's Captivity" is one of the most moving testimonies of the Book of Mormon you are likely to read.

Meanwhile, Elder Stevenson continued in his talk to cite Mormon 8:35 where Moroni saw us in vision. This passage was not illustrated on TV, but Glery Becerra has two 2010 pieces interpreting this verse. The first shows Moroni as an ancient epigrapher across a table from Becerra's own daughter who is working on her testimony of the Book of Mormon.
"The Lord Has Shown You Unto Me" by Glery Becerra
The second has the same Moroni, but this time it is Becerra's son across the table.
"The Lord Has Shown You Unto Me" by Glery Becerra
More information is at

The Book of Mormon Central staff deemed this the most Book of Mormon-centric conference in our lifetime. We noted at least 57 significant, explicit references to the text throughout the six sessions.