i went on an adventure yesterday with some friends. at least for me it was an adventure. (and no, this isn’t going to be very well written, i apologize). i went to the LDS church general conference down in salt lake city. now, if i had to drive a long distance to go to this event, i wouldn’t have gone, but because it was so close, and my dearest friends are LDS, and because i really am interested faith in general, i thought this would be a pretty interesting event to attend. the conference center holds 20,000 people and people come from all over the country and all over the world to attend. for many people it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend this conference, to see their leaders in person, and so it is, like for many muslims, going on hajj. since it’s that big of a deal for folks, since i’m so close and i have such dear people to go with, i should go.
a lot of the pictures we took i’m not going to post, because they are of my dear friend and his sweet son. i don’t have permission to post pictures of the dear son, dcp, and so that’s why those pictures aren’t being posted.
what follows is pictures mainly without people that can be identified.
our seats were in the balcony of the conference center, and honestly i was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we were able to get to the top. we went through metal detectors (i was okay with that, no big deal really), and the proceeded to follow the crowds (and guidance of folks standing around to guide wayward devotees (and visitors) to the correct place) up a series of escalators to the top. after we found our seats and saved them we walked back out and had a few minutes to check out the top of our area of the conference center. at one point i turned and saw this, a stained class version of the carl heinrich block painting “Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda.” i’ve seen this painting in person at brigham young u and it is stunning.. beyond stunning. i could sit with it for hours.
then we finally went into the main auditorium, because if we weren’t at our seats by 1.30 (it started at 2) we’d loose our seats. of course, we took pictures of each other being there. this doesn’t do it justice, the size of the place, or the size of the pipe organ, but i tried.
after the session starts you aren’t supposed to take pictures, but me being the rule breaker i did.. of course i wasn’t blatant about it, but i did, because it was kinda cool breaking the rules, and i wanted pictures during the event. this picture illustrates something handy they have for those of us who are having a hard time seeing the tiny figure way down at the front who is talking -> screens on both sides of the center so we can see them better.
i think this is boyd k. packer. he spoke about 400 years of the king james version of the bible. he’s an old guy and was honestly difficult to understand. this is the same guy who caused controversy (in and out of the lds community) with some of his statements about what is right and good, which were particularly targeted at the lgbt community.
and here, this is everyone in place, the conference center filled to hear the words of their leaders. this is we were on the right side of the center at the top, this is, of course, pointing to the left. ppp got in the way a bit, but i tried. i’m trying to give you a sense of how BIG this place is and how many of the devoted make their way to slc to see their leaders speak in person.
the session is 2 hours long. even for adults 2 hours of sitting can be challenging. around the 1 hour mark they have a hymn, with the words posted on the screen that everyone stands to sing. this isn’t normal, standing and singing a hymn in the lds church – they don’t do that. this is done to allow people to stretch their legs, at least those in the conference center. these talks are sent out to millions of followers all over the world and i know, having been a follower for 1.5 years and gone to conference at friends’ houses, that those houses with lots of kids include lots of sitting and standing during the conference. here’s the music leader leading us all with the words on that handy dandy screen.
and that was the last picture i took until we were out. i have more to write about my experience there, especially the last talk. the last talk was brilliant and i was captivated. i expected to find some meaningful words throughout the session, but i didn’t expect to be captivated for a whole talk. the
the last talk was built around these words from matthew 22:37-40.
He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
here is the crowd leaving the conference center. i was glad i went, really glad. particularly that last talk and to share a moment with my friends.. but like all these people leaving, i must too. i’ve got my own church to go to.