Conference Books — Spring 2009

Os Lusíadas,
Front page of The Lusiad in the original Portuguese
Image by Thiago Gonçalves via Flickr

Last Fall I started putting together lists of the books mentioned or referenced each General Conference. And since I intend to do this each conference, I listened to the talks in each session with an ear to the books mentioned.

As a confirmed Lusophone since my mission, I was very pleased when Elder José A. Teixeira (who was an assistant to the mission president when I arrived as a missionary in Portugal in 1981) quote from the first stanza of the single most important work in Portuguese literature, the epic poem The Lusiad, which tells the story of Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India.

But the reference I wondered most about, when I heard it in Elder Eyring’s Priesthood session talk, was the heroic story known as Black Hawk Down. Since the Hollywood movie about the incident was rated R, I assumed Elder Eyring would cite the bestselling book with the same title.

I was wrong.

In fact, Elder Eyring’s citation was not to the book, nor was it to the movie. Instead it was to a completely unexpected source: The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual. Since I haven’t read it I can’t say, but I suspect that this version isn’t nearly as detailed or dramatic as either the book or the movie.

Almost as many books were mentioned in conference as last Fall–33 instead of 35–but there seemed to be a little less emphasis on collections of quotations, and a bit more history and poetry. The latter is, of course, appropriate for April, national poetry month.

Anyway, here are the books mentioned or citied in the most recent General Conference:

  • Babbel, Frederick W., On Wings of Faith, 1972.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Be of Good Cheer, Sunday Morning Session
  • Bartlett, John, Familiar Quotations, 15th ed. 1980.
    • M. Russell Ballard, Learning the Lessons of the Past, Saturday Afternoon Session – citing George Santayana
  • Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, 1971.
    • Jeffrey R. Holland, None Were with Him, Sunday Morning Session
  • Brigham Young University 2007-2008 Speeches, 2008.
    • Allan F. Packer, Finding Strength in Challenging Times!, Saturday Morning Session
  • Camões, Luís de, The Lusiad, tr. William Julius Mickle, 1776.
    • José A. Teixeira, Gifts to Help Us Navigate Our Life, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Condie, Thomas A., History of Gibson and Cecelia Sharp Condie, 1937.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Be of Good Cheer, Sunday Morning Session
  • Dickens, Charles, American Notes and The Uncommercial Traveler, 1866.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Farrar, Frederic W., Eternal Hope, 1892.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Farrar, Frederic W., The Life Of Christ, 1874.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Frost, Robert. The Poetry of Robert Frost, ed. Edward Connery Lathem, 1969.
    • Elaine S. Dalton, Come Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord, General Young Women Meeting
  • Gardner, Robert, Jr., Self History and Journal.
    • Steven E. Snow, Get On with Our Lives, Sunday Morning Session
  • Hinckley, Gordon B., Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, ed. Clyde J. Williams, 1997.
    • Dallin H. Oaks, Unselfish Service, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Hunter, Howard W., The teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, 1997.
    • Rafael E. Pino, Faith in Adversity, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Jesse, Dean C., ed., Letters of Brigham Young to his sons, 1974.
    • Elaine S. Dalton, Come Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord, General Young Women Meeting
  • Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, September 28, 1846.
    • David A. Bednar, Honorably Hold a Name and Standing, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Kapp, Ardeth Greene, I Walk by Faith, 1987.
    • Dallin H. Oaks, Unselfish Service, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Kimball, Spencer W., Faith Precedes the Miracle, 1972.
    • Russell M. Nelson, Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers, Saturday Afternoon Session
    • F. Michael Watson, His Servants, the Prophets, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Lee, Harold B., The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams, 1996.
    • F. Michael Watson, His Servants, the Prophets, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, 1980.
    • Dallin H. Oaks, Unselfish Service, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • McConkie, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. 1966.
    • Kevin W. Pearson, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • McMillan, Newell Cook, comp., The Life and History of Phineas Wolcott Cook, 1980.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Morrison, James Dalton, ed., Masterpieces of Religious Verse, 1948.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Be of Good Cheer, Sunday Morning Session
  • Mother Teresa, Jay Chaliha and Edward Le Joly, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living, 1996.
    • Dallin H. Oaks, Unselfish Service, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Pickup, David M. W., The Pick & Flower of England, The Illustrated Story of the Mormons in Victorian England, 2001.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Rigdon, Sidney, Lectures on Faith, 1985 ed.
    • D. Todd Christofferson, The Power of Covenants, Saturday Morning Session
  • Rich, Sarah DeArmon Pea, Autobiography, 1885-1893.
    • Richard G. Scott, Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Smith, Joseph, History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. 1902-1932.
    • Allan F. Packer, Finding Strength in Challenging Times!, Saturday Morning Session
    • D. Todd Christofferson, The Power of Covenants, Saturday Morning Session
    • Henry B. Eyring, “Man Down!”, Priesthood Session
    • F. Michael Watson, His Servants, the Prophets, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Smith, Joseph Fielding, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1950.
    • F. Michael Watson, His Servants, the Prophets, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Spink, Kathryn, ed., Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations, Prayers, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 1983.
    • Dallin H. Oaks, Unselfish Service, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Taylor, John, The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham, 1941.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Be Your Best Self, Priesthood Session
  • Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2007.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual, 2004.
    • Henry B. Eyring, “Man Down!”, Priesthood Session
  • Whitney, Orson F., Saturday Night Thoughts, 1921.
    • Quentin L. Cook, Our Father’s Plan–Big Enough for All His Children, Saturday Afternoon Session

You can see the previous compilations of books cited in General conference here:
October 2008
April 2008

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7 thoughts on “Conference Books — Spring 2009”

  1. Thanks, Kent! I really enjoy these posts. I too wondered about the Black Hawk Down reference. I wonder if the field manual was brought to Pres. Eyring’s attention or if he was aware of the story from other sources (perhaps reviews of the film?) and then searched out an “appropriate” reference.

    I was intrigued to hear Quentin L. Cook’s black swan reference. One wonders if some of the brethren have also read The World is Flat, The Tipping Point, Crowdsourcing, etc. etc.

    And finally, The Lusiad reference went completely by me. I had never even heard of it, which makes me one very ashamed comparatist, so I’m pleased to find out about here as I have an especial interest in the core texts of national literatures.

  2. .

    Just after my call as a General Authority 16 years ago, in a stake conference where I accompanied President Boyd K. Packer, he said something I have not forgotten. As he addressed the congregation, he said, “I know who I am.” Then after a pause, he added, “I am a nobody.” He then turned to me, sitting on the stand behind him, and said, “And, Brother Andersen, you are a nobody too.” Then he added these words: “If you ever forget it, the Lord will remind you of it instantly, and it won’t be pleasant.”

    —–Neil L Anderson

    Sounded like a clear Emily Dickinson reference to me, cited or not.

    I’m nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!
    They’d banish us, you know.

    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public, like a frog
    To tell your name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog!

    —–Emily Dickinson

  3. LOL, I’m not too surprised that you haven’t heard of the Lusíad. I have the impression that epic poetry is out-of-fashion to a large extent (except for, perhaps, Dante’s Infierno).

    But, until the 1960s or so, The Lusiad was a major reason for learning Portuguese. Then, of course, came A Garota de Ipanema, and the reasons for learning Portuguese became entirely different.

  4. Th., you might be right, but I suspect that it was Elder Packer who was making the reference, whenever and wherever that was.

    I think its also a pretty scant reference. Without Elder Packer confirming, its kind of ambiguous, isn’t it? Elder Packer is talking about not getting too big for our britches, so to speak, while Emily Dickinson is talking about the travails of being famous.

    But it is certainly possible that Elder Packer got the idea from hearing the Dickinson poem.

    I’m working on a book that includes references to the scriptures that were not cited in the original text. I’ve been trying to add the references to the text and I find it tough going. Its pretty easy to come up with possible references in ambiguous situations like this one. Other times, there are several possibilities (for short passages, the scriptures repeat themselves frequently). And I sometimes have the feeling that I’m adding a reference that isn’t real — that wasn’t intended.

  5. .

    Yeah, that’s a trick with this sort of thing, to be sure. Sometimes, for this reason, I think putting in citations is actually unhelpful, because it limits the possibilities we can try on and see how they feel.

  6. Wm Morris mentioned “The Black Swan” in the first comment… Having just finished reading this book last month, this reference really jumped out at me, too. In fact, I startled my wife when I jumped up during Elder Cook’s talk and said, “Whoa! The Black Swan quoted in conference!” 🙂

    “The Black Swan” was written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (an individual with a very interesting professional and personal background) and is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in many years. It contains some very interesting observations and implications for folks who are both deeply religious and deeply curious about “how the world really works.”

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