General Conference is a source of joy to any practicing Mormon - it is this day in which a faithful Mormon does NOT have to go to church for three hours. Instead, one is supposed to sit down and listen to General Conference, which is a combination of long-winded talks and the current status of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
General Conference takes place inside the Conference Center, which is a building owned by the Church built for this purpose. The Conference Center seats 20,000 - and nearly every seat is filled. Protestors, seeing the opportunity to show their utter disdain for the church, hang around on the sidewalk holding up picket signs.
For two hours Saturday/Sunday morning and evening, General Conference temporarily takes over the airwaves of Utah's major TV stations. It is also the source of bad downtown traffic - stay out of Salt Lake City during April and October. Indeed, the leaders plead with the audience to obey all traffic rules, but the advice is almost never heeded. Any spiritual insight gained by General Conference goes flying out the window once the average Mormon starts his car.
The speeches themselves can be either spiritual or stupid depending on your viewpoint. In past General Conferences, I have been told to avoid:
Poor analogies are drawn every time General Conference rolls around. Most recently, it's been the 'Lifejacket of Obedience', which is supposed to keep me afloat in a world of corruption.
Priesthood session is the men's part of General Conference. It is encryped by satellite and broadcast to Mormon meetinghouses around the world. Of course, cracking it would be pointless; the talks can be summarized up like so:
- One or more talks will always be addressed to the Mormon youth. Mormon youth are notoriously out of control and thus must be addressed every Priesthood session. Mormon youth are told lots of strange stuff:
- Avoid pornography. Pornography will burn down your house, court your wife, leave the toilet seat up, cause a national recession, etc. etc. Only horror can come from pornography.
- Pay your tithing. You are expected to pay 10% of what you earn. If you don't, you are committing bank robbery on Jesus
- Avoid tattoos. Your body is NOT your own, it is a temple of God, and should be treated as such. Whenever I hear of this analogy, I always wondered how goatse.cx could be applied to this.
- Avoid immorality. Stop using filthy language. It is an abomination in the sight of God.
- Silly anecdotes which have little relation to Church doctrine, and almost ALWAYS lead to a poor analogy.
The conference is by no means secret - the church generously makes it available on every medium known to mankind - CDs, DVDs, written transcripts, cassette tapes - you can even listen in on the comedy at www.lds.org