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General Conference Commemorating First Vision Bicentennial


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3 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I remember President Kimball having some trouble saying the word Sesquicentennial. 🙂

 

Yes, I recall that very clearly: “Sesqui- ... sesqui- ... sesquicentennial.” 
 

It was like he was trying to gather momentum to get over the top. 

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48 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I just found this in the EoM, seems to contradict what you're saying about old growth trees.  I can't remember where I read that I heard there weren't many trees around where some historians think the sacred grove was most likely to be.  It might be a mistaken memory on my part though.  

https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Sacred_Grove

 

Someone is going to have to prove that one to me. Just a stroll through the grove (and much of the surrounding area) indicates that the vast majority, if not all, of the trees are much younger than that.

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11 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t think anybody has said they would all be speaking by remote transmission. That wasn’t the case in 1980. The event originated from the Salt Lake Tabernacle with remote hookup from Fayette. 

It sounded like Duncan was hinting at something like that.  Maybe I misread him.  Either way, it sounds like the rumors are false.

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30 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Prior to the development and dedication of the Priesthood Restoration Site in Harmony, Pa., a few years ago, a closer examination of the history by Church historians revealed that the visit by John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did not occur on the banks of the Susquehanna River as had been incorrectly assumed for many years. Rather, it likely occurred in the sugar maple grove near the house where Joseph and Emma were living and the Book of Mormon translation was occurring. Joseph and Oliver would have gone down to the river later in the day and baptized each other in accordance with the angel’s direction. 
 

So at the site today (and yes, I’ve been there) there is a grove adjacent to the visitor center, interpreted as the grove where the priesthood restoration occurred. To view the probable location of the baptisms, you have to get in your car and drive a short distance down the highway to the river. 

I’m hoping that in Palmyra, our historians have done a good job of pinpointing the location of the Sacred Grove, though as you say, the event is more important than the location. 
 

I do recall our science (who was later my seminary) teacher telling us in junior high school that the grove had since been cleared off and farmed and that the native vegetation had subsequently reclaimed the land. That is consistent with what you’ve told us here. 

I also recall that research, and I have been to that site as well both before and after its current development. I appreciate that the church does put in effort like this. Again, it's nice to know the specific site but the event is actually what's important.

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10 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Sounds great.  I'll be watching safely at home.  People with strong immune systems can probably weather a bout with COVID-19, but the babies and oldsters among us are best left isolated and unexposed.  That means that family members with babies should not be at the Conference Center at all, and the truly old folks should just stay home like me -- or out in the Sacred Grove.

Thankfully, infants and children seem to fare well with no severe respiratory distress.  As of Feb 2, no infants or children under 10 years old have died from the virus.  I haven’t heard of any deaths after that date either - it would have been a big news event.

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10 minutes ago, Boanerges said:

Someone is going to have to prove that one to me. Just a stroll through the grove (and much of the surrounding area) indicates that the vast majority, if not all, of the trees are much younger than that.

Take a look at those links I just posted from the Patheos blog.  The author talks about portion of the original Smith farm that was preserved and the original trees weren't cut.  

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12 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t think anybody has said they would all be speaking by remote transmission. That wasn’t the case in 1980. The event originated from the Salt Lake Tabernacle with remote hookup from Fayette. 

I too remember that well. It was actually my first general conference as a member. It is so weird to think it's been 40 years

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15 minutes ago, Boanerges said:

I also recall that research, and I have been to that site as well both before and after its current development. I appreciate that the church does put in effort like this. Again, it's nice to know the specific site but the event is actually what's important.

Still, precision is good if you can achieve it. It helps one experience what the late Stan Kimball, Mormon Trail historian, called “the power of place and the immediacy of locale.”  I’m grateful we have that with some of our historic sites, including the Kirtland Temple, Carthage Jail, many of the attractions in Nauvoo. Even the Nauvoo Temple, though a modern-day reconstruction, is on the precise footprint of the original. 

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4 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I too remember that well. It was actually my first general conference as a member. It is so weird to think it's been 40 years

We’re getting old, Mark. 

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49 minutes ago, pogi said:

Thankfully, infants and children seem to fare well with no severe respiratory distress.  As of Feb 2, no infants or children under 10 years old have died from the virus.  I haven’t heard of any deaths after that date either - it would have been a big news event.

Unfortunately, they will be.  It is primarily the very young and very old who do not have strong immune systems.

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10 hours ago, Calm said:

Danger is mostly for 75 and older, I believe.

Which is pretty much the entirety of the Quorum of the 12.  Imagine what the implication would be were all of them to catch the Coronavirus.  I'm guessing that we will soon see an announcement discouraging attendance to conference and that members will be encouraged to watch from the safety of their homes...for all concerned.

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10 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t know whether I would be classed as “truly old,” and call me foolhardy if you like. But our bishopric announced today that there are tickets available through our stake by request for the conference. Our youngest son, 17, sensing the historic import of this conference, indicated he’d like to be there. So we have requested tickets for our family. 

Most people will be fine, even if they get the virus.  As for you, I thought you looked pretty fit last time I saw you.  You are not elderly yet.  However, at 79 I am.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I just found this in the EoM, seems to contradict what you're saying about old growth trees.  I can't remember where I read that I heard there weren't many trees around where some historians think the sacred grove was most likely to be.  It might be a mistaken memory on my part though.  

https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Sacred_Grove

 

A couple of the new podcasts on the Joseph Smith Papers site go into detail on the appearance of the grove as it might have been in the early spring of 1820.

Here's the link to all the podcasts:   https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/articles/the-first-vision-a-joseph-smith-papers-podcast

Episode 3 discusses what the grove would have looked like in early spring, and Episode 6 discusses how the church has tried to restore the area to match what it might have been like in 1820.

Here's a quote from Episode 6 that addresses the question on the age of the trees and if any of the trees remain from 1820 (see:  https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/articles/the-first-vision-podcast-episode-6-transcript)

Quote

Spencer: You may be wondering if all this work has paid off. Is the grove of trees that visitors experience today similar to the grove of trees that Joseph would have experienced?

Jenny: Yes, the grove really does resemble in a lot of ways the space that Joseph walked into on that spring day in 1820. The same types of trees are growing there. There are just a handful. We’re probably down to three trees that have been called “witness trees” because we know they are older than two hundred years. Two hundred years is about the maximum life span for the longest lived tree in that particular forest, but there are few trees left who were actually there when Joseph went into the grove to pray.

 

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

Take a look at those links I just posted from the Patheos blog.  The author talks about portion of the original Smith farm that was preserved and the original trees weren't cut.  

Maybe somebody will have to show me where they are. Granted I have not wandered the whole place but I have visited often and I've been around a lot of it. It is a peaceful place most of the time. The part of the grove that we see (with the trails and benches) has no such trees. Nothing prevents anyone from going off those trails, but it's not necessarily encouraged. I'm just calling it as I see it, and as a native of the area I am aware that almost all of the old growth forest was cut in the entire northeast. The older trees seem to be more in the direction of the temple, which is on property that was part of the Smith farm, but those also seem to be new growth perhaps just not as new. Groves and individual trees, some of which are 300 or more years old, do exist, but are rare. We had a 300+ year old tree on our own "town square" which was cut down just a couple years ago because it became dangerous. It was sad as we thought about it because it witnessed our area when the Native Americans had a settlement here and when the first white men came, etc. There are no other trees that old in the vicinity, and you know when you're looking at a tree that old. The oldest tree in my own yard is about 100, it's a maple,  it's huge and it drops branches all the time.

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

It sounded like Duncan was hinting at something like that.  Maybe I misread him.  Either way, it sounds like the rumors are false.

I read that online that the hotels were all booked but if they aren't then they are not!

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Unfortunately, they will be.  It is primarily the very young and very old who do not have strong immune systems.

Not necessarily.  Immune systems are not the only factors to consider.  Infants and children are not always affected by certain viruses despite their weak immune systems.  They don’t need good immune systems in those cases because the virus doesn’t attack their system in the same way.   Hepatitis A is a good example of that - infants are generally asymptomatic or only have very mild symptoms, despite their weak immune systems; whereas healthy adults with robust immune systems can present with more serious conditions.  There are other factors that might make certain age groups more susceptible to disease than the strength of their immune system.

It’s not that infants haven’t been infected with covid-19.  The fact that none of them present with serious disease suggests they are not susceptible in the same way.  We have enough data to suggest that unless the virus mutates, we shouldn’t expect that to change.  Of course there could always be exceptions to the rule if certain genetic or other factors make some infants more susceptible.

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2 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I just ran across these blog posts which I found extremely interesting.  I had no idea that the phrase Sacred Grove was such a new phrase, this author places its origins in a 1907 statement.  I found many points in this series new to me and I think anyone interested in learning more about the history here would find these interesting.  

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/holyscapes/2016/04/making-the-mormon-sacred-grove-part-1/

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/holyscapes/2016/04/making-the-mormon-sacred-grove-part-2/

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/holyscapes/2016/04/making-the-mormon-sacred-grove-part-3/

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/holyscapes/2016/04/making-the-mormon-sacred-grove-part-4/

In the second article they reference "Packer 1975" and say that until 1907 when it came into Church hands the grove wasn't called, "Sacred" who is Packer? what article or book are they referencing?

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15 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

So general conference will convene in a few weeks, and I’m looking forward to what will transpire in commemoration of the First Vision to the Prophet Joseph Smith. 
 

My wife said she heard one of the BYU Education Week speakers — I think it was one of the Twelve — say that there will be a live remote of President Russell M. Nelson speaking to the conference from the Sacred Grove. This, of course, would be reminiscent of what happened in April 1980, when we observed the sesquicentennial of the Church and President Spencer W. Kimball spoke to the conference in a live remote from the Peter Whitmer farmhouse in Fayette, New York. That is still fresh in my mind, though it occurred 40 years ago now. 

Has anyone here heard of anything else that will be happening at this conference?

I hope and expect that two of my very favorite hymns will be sung or performed: “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning” and, of course, “Praise to the Man.”

Scott, Pres. Nelson recorded something in the S.G. in the fall, supposedly for this conference, so I don't think whatever he's going to do will be live.  I could be wrong.

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2 hours ago, InCognitus said:

A couple of the new podcasts on the Joseph Smith Papers site go into detail on the appearance of the grove as it might have been in the early spring of 1820.

Here's the link to all the podcasts:   https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/articles/the-first-vision-a-joseph-smith-papers-podcast

Episode 3 discusses what the grove would have looked like in early spring, and Episode 6 discusses how the church has tried to restore the area to match what it might have been like in 1820.

Here's a quote from Episode 6 that addresses the question on the age of the trees and if any of the trees remain from 1820 (see:  https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/articles/the-first-vision-podcast-episode-6-transcript)

 

Ahh...  thanks, yes I listened to those podcasts a month or so ago.  I couldn't remember exactly where I had heard the information though.  Thanks for the links.  

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1 hour ago, Duncan said:

In the second article they reference "Packer 1975" and say that until 1907 when it came into Church hands the grove wasn't called, "Sacred" who is Packer? what article or book are they referencing?

Quote

Catherine Albanese (1991). Nature Religion in America: From the Algonkian Indians to the New Age. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Lynn Ross-Bryant (2012). Pilgrimage to the National Parks: Religion and Nature in the United States. New York City, NY: Routledge.

Sheldrake, Phillip 2001. Places for the Sacred: Place, Memory and Identity John Hopkins University Press.

New York Spectator September 23, 1843

George E. Anderson “Boy in the picture of the sacred grove” The Improvement Era Vol. XXIV November, 1920 pp. 4-15.

Packer, Rand Hugh. 1975. History of Four Mormon Landmarks in Western New York: The Joseph Smith Farm, Hill Cumorah, the Martin Harris Farm and the Peter Whitmer Sr. Farm” Brigham Young University Master’s Thesis.

Packer, Rand Hugh. (2007). A Lion and a Lamb Spring Creek Book Co.

Bas Verschuuren, Robert Wild, Jeffrey Mcneely and Gonzalo Oviedo (2010). Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture. London, UK: Earthscan.

These references were down at the bottom of the 4th link.  

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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

These references were down at the bottom of the 4th link.  

oh duh!

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4 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I too would like to see how it looks at this time of year.  I just wonder how realistic it will be to how things really might have looked for a young Joseph.  The church seems to be quite image conscious and I expect they will try to portray an idyllic scene for the audience, rather than a true to reality kind of scene.  

I recommend #3 (it's in transcript too): https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/articles/the-first-vision-a-joseph-smith-papers-podcast

It seem it must have been quite beautiful that time of year.

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2 hours ago, pogi said:

Not necessarily.  Immune systems are not the only factors to consider.  Infants and children are not always affected by certain viruses despite their weak immune systems.  They don’t need good immune systems in those cases because the virus doesn’t attack their system in the same way.   Hepatitis A is a good example of that - infants are generally asymptomatic or only have very mild symptoms, despite their weak immune systems; whereas healthy adults with robust immune systems can present with more serious conditions.  There are other factors that might make certain age groups more susceptible to disease than the strength of their immune system.

It’s not that infants haven’t been infected with covid-19.  The fact that none of them present with serious disease suggests they are not susceptible in the same way.  We have enough data to suggest that unless the virus mutates, we shouldn’t expect that to change.  Of course there could always be exceptions to the rule if certain genetic or other factors make some infants more susceptible.

We can take another look at the epidemiology in a couple of months to see whether all that holds true.  We should have some reliable stats by then.

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35 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

We can take another look at the epidemiology in a couple of months to see whether all that holds true.  We should have some reliable stats by then.

With over 100,000 reported infections world-wide and over 4,000 deaths - with the majority of deaths from those who are older or who have chronic health conditions, and literally zero reported deaths for infants or children under 10 years old - I think we have a fairly reliable picture of who is most susceptible.  If children were at greater risk because of their weakened immune systems, we simply would know that by now.   In fact, only around 2% of total reported cases are of children under 10 years of age.  Not only does it appear to be less deadly, but it appears to not present with symptoms as much in children (very similar to Hep A).  We see the same patter in the cousins of this coronavirus - both MERS and SARS are not as prevalent or severe in children too. 

Edited by pogi
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2 hours ago, Sevenbak said:

Scott, Pres. Nelson recorded something in the S.G. in the fall, supposedly for this conference, so I don't think whatever he's going to do will be live.  I could be wrong.

That makes sense, I suppose. Having it live would not only involve considerable expense and effort but the risk of inclement weather. 
 

A recorded sermon, though, doesn’t seem to me it would have the impact that a live one would from that locale. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past and the memory of what happened in 1980. They could have pre-recorded that too, but they chose to do it live. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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