I love reading and hearing Boyd K. Packer. I always have. The man is a conduit for those who love and those who hate the established, traditional ways of the church. I love tradition and am not fond of change. President Monson reminded us several times in this last General Conference that change is one of the most certain things we will deal with in this life. He also implied that change is coming.
By now you have probably received a copy of President Packer’s talk given the week following General Conference in his home ward in Salt Lake City. It is highly unusual for such a complete transcription of a talk not intended for public consumption to be so well documented. Ordinarily I would not write about a private talk like this. It goes against my judgment to just leave it alone.
Someone called church headquarters and asked it was real. They confirmed that he did speak, that they were aware that it has been circulating, but that it was not intended for anyone other than his own ward. In fact, they pointed out that it was not accurate, that he did not authorize the transcription and asked that we not pass it on. Such personal notes are for individual use only.
A great catastrophe is coming
Because this has been making the rounds and has been all over the world in the past week, I wanted to comment on one paragraph of his talk that seems to have received the most attention. Note that this is not a direct quote, but is from someone’s notes. It may or may not be accurate. However, it is timely and leads me to a subject I have wanted to address for some time now.
Here is the quote: “It’s about time the Lord taught us a lesson. A great catastrophe is coming. Now I probably shouldn’t say that because then it will happen. But it is going to happen. That’s what it will take to turn our hearts to the Lord. And we will learn from it.” Many in the emails and discussion boards have speculated on what that catastrophe will be and when it will happen.
As I watched President Packer speak in General Conference the week before, I noted a sense of urgency in his voice and his message. The title of his address was “The Test.” His message was that in troubled times, the Lord has always prepared a safe way ahead. He said that we are living in those “perilous times” of which the Apostle Paul prophesied would come in the last days.
Same sex marriage is a test
I swore I would not write any more about the involvement of church members in Proposition 8, but perhaps a few notes will help to illustrate one possibility of the test that is coming. I wrote previously about how one family in our ward has been targeted by the opposition for their contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign. Their methods of harassment display vicious hatred.
Others have been physically attacked for distributing Yes on 8 signs, with signs being ripped up during the night. While we stood on a street corner waiving signs the other night, someone got out of their car and verbally abused us with a profanity-laden tirade. Temple-goers in Oakland reported that protesters threw themselves in front of their cars, blocking the temple entrance.
We have been counseled by church leaders to be kind, patient and tolerant in stating our case to the world. Apparently the opposition does not play by the same rules. It seems that anything goes in an effort to shock, offend and intimidate supporters of proposition 8 into giving up the fight. They are behind in the polls 61-36% and not happy with the idea that proposition 8 might pass.
Economic meltdown in progress
I watch the news of the stock market, the bank failures and the credit crunch with somewhat of a distant detachment. I know it affects some right away who work in the financial area, but for most of us, there has been little effect other than a decrease in the value of our 401K portfolio. Some days the stock market is down by hundreds of points and other days it rises by hundreds.
The area where most of us will eventually feel the results of this financial meltdown that we are witnessing will be down the road as businesses fail and unemployment rises. It took a few years after the stock market crash of 1929 for unemployment to reach the highest level of 25%. We cannot say if this same pattern will hold true in our day. Perhaps it won’t take so long this time.
In his October 12th talk, President Packer said nothing new that prophets and apostles haven’t been saying for all of our lives and that of our parents and grandparents. Get out of debt, save for a rainy day, keep the food storage current, and learn to make do with what you have. We live in a day of extravagance where every want is met. That may all change in the very near future.
Catastrophes can be cataclysmic
Two of the definitions of the word catastrophe are a: a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth and b: a violent, usually destructive natural event (as a supernova). We know that such changes are prophesied for the last days. We should not be surprised when they occur. The Lord has warned us of imminent destruction that will come upon us suddenly, as a thief in the night.
I have written dozens of essays on the subject of upcoming catastrophes. Prophets of old saw our day and told us about the cataclysmic changes that would be occurring. They left us many clues in language that described events both life-threatening and destructive. One of my fellow bloggers has been sharing his essays on these changes in an effort to help us understand them.
Violence begets violence. When these violent events do arrive, they will impact society in a way that none of us can imagine. Students of the early history of the church are familiar with several statements by the early brethren where they attempted to describe the scenes of the breakdown of common decency in our society that were a result of the natural disasters that will come upon us.
Summary and conclusion
I hope I have not painted a bleak picture of what is to come. The apostates love to characterize President Packer as a man of doom and gloom. Isn’t that one of the functions of a prophet – to warn us of coming events and to help us prepare for what must surely transpire in the last days? I am convinced that President Packer is right – I think the Lord is trying to get our attention now.
I like the way President Hinckley taught us to be hopeful and faithful in spite of the signs of the times being fulfilled right before our eyes. He said he was planting trees and making plans for long-term events. We should do the same. Getting an education is still a great idea. Investing in our education and careers will continue to be profitable for us and our families in the long run.
There is still much to do before the coming of the Lord. The gospel must still go to all the world before the great and dreadful day. It hasn’t done that yet. President Monson is the man the Lord has prepared to lead us in these troubled times. I love his sense of peace and confidence. I trust in his direction and know that he will always show us the path of safety through changes coming.
1. Boyd K. Packer talk goes viral
2. Boyd K Packer talk not accurate
3. Times and Seasons: confirm or deny
4. Recorded on cell phone or shorthand?
5. Words of warning from Pres. Packer
6. Mormon Wiki: Hoax or urban legend
7. From the horse’s mouth (MMW)
8. SL Trib – Packer talk circles the globe