Reader voices: The art of listening to general conference

By Davison Cheney

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, March 25 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Those that couldn't get into the conference center enjoy the day out on the grass as they listen to the Saturday afternoon session of general conference on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News archive

Enlarge photo»

No matter how many times I have watched The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' general conference or listened to general conference while at the kitchen table painting my latest masterpiece, I end up surprised when, at the end of the meeting, there has been no mention of me.

It’s much like when I was a kid listening to the Academy Awards, where I expected to hear my name called even though I was neither nominated for, nor had I been in a real film that year — well, ever.

I equally had expected to hear my name at the Tony awards, but so far, no. Kristen Chenoweth will have to keep it safe for me until next year

There has been no special Pulitzer either, nor anything with a postmark from Oslo— not surprisingly as it is 4,700 miles away. But Salt Lake City is next door, and I am continually not mentioned by name from the church pulpit.

Not that I really need to be the theme of the session. A little “We would especially like to thank Brother Cheney who has been trying hard not to swear and who has made great strides in paying his tithing" would suffice.

“It’s like the speakers were talking directly to me,” my friends certified as we put away chairs from the overflow in the Mormon cultural hall. Friends seemed to get these direct messages every time someone spoke and I was starting to feel left out.

I have always looked for that something personal said just for me. As a young LDS conference listener I thought the speaker should know of the pain I was in and how hard I was trying and that he should throw me a special wink or a nod, or a mention of my nice tie. I wanted my own message wrapped and handed right to me.

Many times I heard my dear grandma — the one who lost her subtlety and her teeth in the war — sitting in the living room looking at me over her crocheting, mutter, “Hope he heard that this time. What is he waiting for, an engraved invite?”

That’s exactly what I was waiting for. “Likening to us,” was difficult because I was really only trying to “Liken unto me.”

Recently, however, I am finding fits in strange places. There seem to be plenty of moments when I have to rush to borrow a pen to write down a touching and unexpected reference. There are instances when I have to re-think my position on a topic or re-evaluate my side of an issue.

Less acknowledgement and more knowledge, I suppose.

I am often put on edge by a reminder that we are living below our privileges. I am sometimes put at ease with an address telling us we are doing well or another which encourages us to focus on faith and not fear.

Although I don’t hear my name, I get the message — even though the message may have been meant for everyone else as well.

Cheney writes, often humorously, at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com .

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS