Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Favorite General Conference reference

In honor of the General Conference issue of the Ensign coming out this month, I thought I'd just share my favorite quote from a past issue, which I stumbled upon once just looking at the sources used in the talks: "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Besides being a nice quote, I find it pretty funny that it's by Camus. If there was a poll taken, Camus would be near the top of the list of people least likely to be quoted by an apostle. But Elder Wirthlin did, in a wonderful talk titled The Abundant Life from the April 2006 General Conference.

I wonder if Elder Wirthlin was very familiar with Camus' philosophy; the reference given is from Bartlett's. An interesting quote from Wikipedia, discussing the paradox Camus expresses in his work The Myth of Sisyphus, is "We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavours are meaningless." Maybe not the same idea of an abundant life that E. Wirthlin was trying to convey, though the quote certainly works great in the context of the talk.

An interesting sidenote: Elaine Cannon (who, in case you weren't aware, was General President of the Young Women in 1982) apparently plagiarizes/paraphrases-without-attributing the same quote in a 1982 April General Conference address entitled Reach For Joy ("And it is for us to find at last that in the midst of winter we have within us an invincible summer"), though in all fairness maybe they just didn't publish her footnotes, because in a June 1975 Ensign article titled The Summer of My Content (back when she was just a vice-chairman of the general Heritage Arts Committee for the Church and member of the Federal Heights ward in Salt Lake City, for those of you keeping track) she clearly gives Camus his due, and even says she is "akin" to him ("From oleander to grandmotherhood, with my life now matching the season, I am akin to Albert Camus. I, too, have learned that 'in the midst of winter I find that I have within me an invincible summer.'"). Sweet!

But the point is, I for one would welcome more quotes from existentialist philosophers/absurdists, whether in General Conference or the Ensign. Those guys certainly had a lot of good things to say. Your thoughts? Any favorite/strange conference quotes?

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