Monday, October 4, 2010

747 Jokes and Other Conference Memories

Maybe it’s a sign of immaturity, but I’m wondering if next April the church will have a drummer at the ready to give President Dieter F. Uchtdorf a rimshot when he delivers his one-liners.

I don’t say this facetiously. I really enjoy his sense of humor. A little humor at conference – at any church meeting – is a welcome thing. I just bring it up because he had the best one-liners at conference this year.

Saturday AM: President Uchtdorf, in setting the stage for his talk on avoiding the temptation to get too busy that we forget spiritual matters and to experience the joy of life, said, “You’re probably wondering what this has to do with airplanes.” Big laugh. (Hey, we’re Mormons; this is us letting our hair down. Besides, Uchtdorf, a former 747 pilot for Lufthansa, always talks about airplanes.) He didn’t disappoint.

He compared rushing headlong into life without taking time to slow down, reflect, or ease our burdens to inexperienced pilots thinking that speeding through areas of turbulence is the best way to offer comfort to their passengers. Instead, flying fast actually increases turbulence’s effects. Flying more slowly, he said, provides a smoother ride. He advises us to do the same with our own lives:
We can all think of a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedule. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia — even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
More laughs came during the Saturday Priesthood Session.

President Uchtdorf said when he told his wife that he’d been asked to speak on pride, she replied “I’m glad they gave you a topic you know so much about.” Not quite at the level of Homer Simpson-like paternal insult, but still enough to remind all of us that, yeah, we’re not perfect and that sometimes we, too, show our pride too much.

He went on to remind us what is wrong about pride:
So what is the difference between this kind of feeling and the pride that President Benson called 'the universal sin'? Pride is sinful … because it breeds hatred or hostility and places us in opposition to God and our fellowmen. At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with 'Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,' it always seems to end with 'Therefore, I am better than you.'
Pride is the great sin of self-elevation. It is, for so many, a personal Rameumptom, a holy stand that justifies envy, greed and vanity.
Other conference memories:

Our electricity went out Sunday morning, about fifteen minutes before Conference was to start. As Michelle cooked breakfast on the gas stove out in the camper, I frantically ran through the house trying to find radios and batteries so we wouldn’t miss anything. I did manage to hook Michelle up with an MP3 player that could get radio, but as for the rest of us, well, the emergency radios we had didn’t work that well, and we didn’t have enough batteries to cook up anything else. Finally Michelle found one that kinda worked, but it kept pooping out on us. Then she remembered one last emergency radio: We ended up listening to about an hour’s worth of conference via a radio inside a Snoopy plush toy she’s had since she was a kid. Thankfully, the power came on in time for us to have a better Sunday afternoon.

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