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The Gospel & The Church: A Talk by Elder Ronald Poelman

July 27, 2010

Ever since I read this article at Pure Mormonism over the best General Conference talk you’ve never read, I’ve been meaning to write about the talk myself. Of course, as you can see, Alan posted his post in February…and it’s now July…I recently found a post at Project Mayhem featuring the talk — marked both with deletions and additions, but since Loyd wrote his post in 2006 (when I wasn’t even blogging), I give myself leeway for not having seen it.

The reason I found Loyd’s post was because he has a newer post. See, he found videos of the talk being presented in its original glory.

As Alan wrote in his article, if you heard Elder Poelman’s conference topic during the October 1984 conference, you would hear the talk presented above. But when you got your next Ensign edition, or if you sought a video copy of Poelman’s talk, you read or heard a surprisingly different talk.

I guess the major gaffe is that, unlike Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, the church was not able to rectify doubleplusungood malreps refs unthink. What I find interesting is that the subtlety of the lexical changes (some sentences are completely slashed, but others are replaced with seemingly and lexically similar sentences) contrasts the starkness of the conceptual changes (the changes that do exist make the admonitions become practically the opposite of what was originally intended.)

In many ways, Poelman’s talk as he intended it was a reasonable talk…one that I think emphasizes LDS ideas of autonomy and independence (e.g., personal revelation, discernment, etc.,)…on the other hand, I can easily see how Poelman’s talk could be seen as crimethink to the establishment (and even how, to a certain extent, a central organization cannot and does not prosper with continued and unbridled individualism.)

It would be interesting to be able to see an LDS church today that continued in the same vein of Poelman’s thought. Would it be “worse off” than the church today (but then again, what are the standards by which to judge this?)

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  1. Love it, love it, love it. I’ll have to post about this at the SHAFT blog later this week.

  2. look forward to seeing it later then.

  3. I love that the talk “correlation” heavily edited was actually from the year 1984.

  4. Nate, I totally agree. That’s serious irony in real life.

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