I think it's only fair that we take a look a the words of our newly called apostles. We all deserve to know just what exactly they can testify of. What witness can they give? Elder Stevenson's recent General Conference talk with my comments.
Dear brothers and sisters, it has been many decades since a general conference has been convened that President Boyd K. Packer and Elders L. Tom Perry and Richard G. Scott were not seated immediately behind the podium and speaking at one of these sessions. It's also been many decades that people have been hoping and praying that Boyd just fucking die already. That man was a monster. Our memories of them are poignant, and I add my tribute to honor them, each so uniquely different yet so harmonized in their witness and testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. It's not too hard to harmonize when both their witnesses and the Atonement are complete mysteries. None of them ever claimed to have seen Jesus and none of them ever gave a satisfactory explanation of the Atonement.
Furthermore, I, like you, find strength in and sustain President Thomas S. Monson as prophet, seer, and revelator, and I marvel at his faithful and dutiful apostolic service spanning over 50 remarkable years. Like me? Never in my life have I been impressed with Monson's record as a prophet, seer or revelator (but it was rumored in the mission that he had a photographic memory and that impressed me).
And so it was on Tuesday morning of this week, just after 9:00 a.m. as the Bishopric was beginning a meeting with the Asia Area Presidency, who are here for conference, that I was called to meet with President Monson, along with his counselors. "And so it was"? Where did that come from? You weren't telling a story or any kind of narrative that calls for a "and so it was". Moments later, as I walked into the boardroom adjacent to his office, I must have looked nervous sitting across the table, as he kindly spoke to calm my nerves. It's nice to know Tommy remembered his manners considering he can remember so little these days. He commented, noting my age, that I seemed quite young and even looked younger than my age. This sentence is both horribly redundant and hardly information worthy of your audience. I hope you get better at telling stories real fast.
Then, within a few moments, President Monson described that acting on the will of the Lord, he was extending a call to the Quorum of the Twelve to me. How do we know he was acting on the will of the Lord? Was Jesus to busy to call his own "special witness"? He asked me if I would accept this call, to which, following what I am sure was a very undignified audible gasp, in complete shock, I responded affirmatively. "Guh! Wha? Really? You want me to back the Porche out of the garage? Wow! OK, sure!" Dude, Gary, where was your wife in all this? And then, before I could even verbalize a tsunami of indescribable emotion, most of which were feelings of inadequacy, President Monson kindly reached out to me, describing how he was called many years ago as an Apostle by President David O. McKay, at which time he too felt inadequate. But don't worry, you'll learn to fake the shit out of this whole apostle thing! And the pain of being a fraud fades fast. He calmly instructed me, “Bishop Stevenson, the Lord will qualify those whom He calls.” You'll soon find justifications for why your "special witness" consists of nothing more then the same happy feelings that make a Mia Maid cry at girl's camp. It's your position, bro! It's the cumulative faith of everyone who believes you have a particularly special relationship with Jesus not unlike the one the original apostles had 2000 years ago. These soothing words of a prophet have been a source of peace, a calm in a storm of painful self-examination and tender feelings in the ensuing agonizing hours which have passed day and night since then. Monson the soothsayer. I don't think Mormons are supposed to like soothsayers. Flattering people is a no no.
I rehearsed what I have just described to you to my sweet companion, Lesa, later that day, seated in a quiet corner on Temple Square, with a serene view of the temple and the historic Tabernacle lying before us. Oh, here she is! Isn't it beautiful how Tommy and his crew took no consideration of her in this whole process and left it entirely up to you? I'm sure she was thrilled to have this new popped on her like an unexpected wedding engagement! :S As we tried to comprehend and process the events of the day, we found our anchor to be our faith in Jesus Christ and our knowledge of the great plan of happiness. In other words you sat around confessing that you had no idea what the fuck was going on, but it's all good because Jesus is rad and his plan is the best? Whatever works for you, man. This leads to an expression of my deepest love for Lesa. She is the sunshine in and of my life and a remarkable daughter of God. Sounds... condescending... Hers is a life punctuated by selfless service and unconditional love of all. So she's the perfect Mormon woman who has given up everything to bear children and watch her husband move up the ladder of success. How 1950s of you two. I will strive to remain worthy of the blessing of our eternal union. It's time to close your Ashley Madison account.
I express my deepest love to our four sons and their families, three of whom are here with their beautiful wives, the mothers of our six grandchildren; the fourth, a missionary, has special permission to stay up past missionary curfew and is viewing these proceedings live with his mission president and the mission president’s wife from their mission home in Taiwan. Oh, the mandatory pater familias creds. No thanks. I love each of them and love how they love the Savior and the gospel. Chances are one of those grandkids is going to up and leave the Church one day. I hope you still love him or her then.
I express my love to each member of my family: to my dear mother and to my father, who passed away last year, who instilled in me a testimony which seemed to dwell in me from my earliest memories. That's called childhood indoctrination. Had you been born in another part of the world, just imagine what you might have known from the earliest age. I further extend this gratitude to my brother, sisters, and their faithful spouses, as well as Lesa’s family, many of whom are actually here today. They didn't fucking nominate you for an award, man. This isn't the Oscars. I cast this net of gratitude to numerous extended family, friends, missionaries, leaders, and teachers along the way. Now thank Jesus for looking favorably upon your whiteness and delightsomeness.
I have been blessed with a close association with the members of the First Presidency, the Twelve, the Seventy, and the general auxiliary presidencies. I express my love and esteem to each of you sisters and brothers and will strive to be worthy of our continued association. This sounds like a business promotion speech. The Presiding Bishopric enjoys an almost heavenly unity. Sounds sexual. I will miss my association each day with Bishop Gérald Caussé, Bishop Dean M. Davies, and the staff. Especially the hot young staffers (you know who you are!).
I stand before you as evidence of the words of the Lord recorded in the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “That the fulness of [the] gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the [earth], and before kings and rulers.” Enough with the false humility bullshit. You and Ronny are probably going to get into fights over who's the most humble about your new calling. These words are preceded by the Lord’s declaration which demonstrates the love of a Father for His children: “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments.” Right, because fathers who love their kids a ton call up one of them - and only one (who happens to live in an extremely remote part of the world) - to give emergency preparedness instructions. Contacting each child individually is too time consuming for a father. By the way, is this the same father who called a council in heaven? He obviously regretted calling it.
Our loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jehovah, with a knowledge of the end from the beginning, opened the heavens and a new dispensation to offset the calamities that They knew would come. Oh, Mormon polytheism, how the rest of the Christian world deplores it! The Apostle Paul described the forthcoming calamities as “perilous times.” Fear mongering. For me, this suggests that Heavenly Father’s generous compensation for living in perilous times is that we also live in the fulness of times. Yes! It's so wonderful living in a day and age when polygamy and abstinence from coffee have been restored! It totally makes up for all the killing going on around us constantly. :S
As I agonized over my inadequacies this week, I received a distinct impression which both chastened and comforted me: to focus not on what I can’t do but rather on what I can do. Whoa! This almost sounds like a spiritual experience! It's not quite a visitation from Jesus, but we'll be damned if we don't take it! I can testify of the plain and precious truths of the gospel. Which are what? I'm only asking because nothing in Mormonism seems very clear or precious to me these days.
These are the words which I have shared hundreds of times with both those who belong to the Church and many who are not members: “God is our [loving] Heavenly Father. I seriously doubt that. We are His children. I so doubt that. … He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right. I can't see how that's even possible. He wants to communicate with us, and we can communicate with Him through sincere prayer. I've tried it often. It never worked. …
“Heavenly Father has provided us, His children, with a way to … return to live in His presence. He's got an awesome TV, a huge Blue Ray collection, tons of tasty treats, cozy furniture and is a generous cuddler. … Central to our [Heavenly] Father’s plan is Jesus Christ’s Atonement.” Ah, yes. The Atonement! That nonsensical act in which torture and bloodshed satiated the demands of some powerful law that God himself couldn't disregard or build around.
Heavenly Father sent His Son to the earth to atone for the sins of all mankind. Because he was powerless to forgive. He absolutely had to have payment for every last sin. Of these plain and precious truths I bear my testimony, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Oh, shit! These were the "plain and precious truths"? I'm not better off in understanding this stuff than I was before.