Semi-Annual Preaching

Every April and October, it’s time for conference. It’s been my least favorite time of year since I was a kid. For those who don’t know exactly what I’m talking about, it’s this: General Conference. The first weekend of October and April are spent in four two-hour blocks at church listening to the “general authorities” of the church. For the men, there are five sessions, because they have the Priesthood session on Saturday evening, and women aren’t allowed there.

There are those who look forward to this, because it’s “when we receive revelations from God” but I was never one of those. It’s always the same things echoed different ways. Pay your tithing. Repent. Pray. Honor your parents. Read your scriptures. Follow the Prophet.

They always justify the reason that it’s the same thing over and over, too. “We have to obey the guidance we’ve already been given. Only then will god reveal something more.” That seems a mighty convenient way to side-step why there hasn’t actually been any new principles to come down the pipes for so long.

I bring this up because conference hit the news a couple times this week. One of which was concerning the talk given by Elder Valeri V. Cordón. In it, he talks about the law of tithing and learning the lesson early on that paying your tithing was more important that your physical needs. That’s no exaggeration either.

Elder Cordón said, “One day I during those difficult times, I heard my parents discussing whether they should pay tithing or buy food for the children.”

I read about this on the Friendly Atheist blog at patheos, and the author, Hemant Mehta, was surprised that the family didn’t get help from the church after deciding to pay their tithes but rather that unexpected business came to the family. He also seemed surprised that the church would even use this example as a testament to the benefits of tithing, but I’m not. These stories are a common theme in the church. “I didn’t have the money but I paid anyway, and even though the numbers didn’t add up, I was still able to pay the bills.” Or they’d bring up how they found money in their purse that they’d forgotten about, get a check in the mail from a business transaction that they’d forgotten about, etc, all while crediting it to god and tithing.

While I grew up in the church so I understand their faulty reasoning, that doesn’t mean I can adequately convey to a rational audience why they believe this way. But I can assure you that the help won’t come from the church as an organization. They don’t do that until you’re desperate enough to go to the bishop to ask for help. But then, I’ve talked about that situation before.

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