Family Conference

Thinking about General Conference last week gave me an idea: if we hold General Conferences for the whole church, stake conferences, and ward conferences–and the purpose of the church is to support the fundamental unit of society, the family–then why don’t we have family conferences?

What is the point of conferences?  To sustain officers, conduct business, and receive instruction from leaders.  All three of these could be enhanced by holding a Family Conference.  In addition, it could serve to reinforce the importance of the Church’s other conferences to family members.

Here are some possibilities:

  • General Conference has been held annually and semiannually every six months since its founding in 1830.  With that in mind, I might suggest holding two Family Conferences per year around the time of your anniversary and six months in between.  By this logic, your “first annual Family Conference” would be your wedding day.
  • Begin the conference by having the conducting authority recognize the presence of those who preside (Mom and Dad).  Continue reading

How To Raise Up A Family To The Lord

515Q9YXJX5L__SL500_AA240_I just saw that Gene R. Cook’s Raising Up a Family To the Lord must be out of print: only has marketplace copies, Barnes and Noble doesn’t list it at all, and even Deseret Book’s Web site only offers an audio tape and a couple of translations. 

That’s too bad, because it is far and away the best book about parenting that I’ve ever read.  Cook, a general authority in the LDS Church, wrote the most specific, organized, detailed, inspiring, and practical family guide ever set down on paper.  What most especially impresses me is that he published this book two years before the church’s famous Proclamation on the Family.  Talk about prophetic!  Actually, Elder Cook’s book is the best manual for implementing and living the Proclamation that anyone could ever ask for.  That’s why it’s so tragic that it seems to have fallen by the wayside.  It should be in every home.  Couples should study it regularly.  I’d love to see it become popular, or even come back into print. 

As it is, some of those used copies at Amazon are going for as low as three dollars.  It’s worth a million times that. 

I used my notes below as the text for a lesson once when I was elders quorun president, and got a few laughs because the notes are so long.  Yes, Elder Cook covers all his bases, and does so in exacting detail.  But don’t get the idea that these notes are exhaustive–they don’t convey the wonderful spirit of his dozens of personal stories that carry the testimony of his principles into our hearts.  Not much of what he writes could be considered “commandments,” anyway: mostly ideas for us to adapt and use in our own circumstances. 

Still, any family, of any faith or none at all, would benefit greatly by working these ideas into their home life over time.  I’ll say that the more any family resembles the ideal outlined by Elder Cook, the more happy and healthy they’ll be. 

Please forgive the inconsistent spacing in my notes:


Raising Up A Family To The Lord

by Gene R. Cook


* See outline of basic priorities on pp. 13-16.


I. Most important things: instill habits of personal prayer and scripture study in children by modeling them

as a family; also, convey spiritual values to children through daily living in the home.

          A. Do not rely on church programs to mold children– they merely support the home.

          B. Involve children in home teaching responsibilities; expose them to faithful models (“second

witnesses”) in church.

                    1. “Family duties” to encourage include:

                              a. Weekly family home evening.

                             b. Family and individual prayers twice daily

                             c. Bless food at each meal.

                             d. Make time for family activities.

                             e. Family scripture study

                             f. Have mealtime discussions

                             g. Discuss gospel while working together.

                             h. Use special holidays and occasions to teach the gospel

                              i. Teach tithing and offerings by example.

                              j. Teach the gospel through bedtime stories.

                             k. Hold private interviews.

          C. Teach children these doctrines BEFORE they turn eight:

                    1. Repentance

                    2. Faith in Christ

                    3. Baptism

                    4. Gift of the Holy Ghost

                    5. Pray and “walk uprightly before the Lord”

                    6. Observe the Sabbath Day

                   7. Labor in faithfulness and not be idle or greedy

                   8. Seek for the riches of eternity


II. Teach Your Family By The Spirit

          A. Pray with children as soon as there is trouble

          B. How to invite the spirit:

                    Continue reading

Hey, Everybody, Let’s Make Fun Of Public Image Limited!

Last week I saw something nostalgic at the library: some DVDs of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  I checked a couple out and watched one (The Atomic Brain!) with my nine year old son.  He loved it.  The show was more corny than I remembered, but actually even funnier.  I suspect that a lot of us enjoyed MST3K 10,15,20 years ago, and didn’t have kids then, or kids who were old enough to appreciate snarkiness.  Now…I suggest that you consider this as a Family Home Evening activity.  What better way to bond with the fam than by watching a guy stranded on a space station in the future, forced to watch bad old movies, which he and his robot friends mercilessly ridicule in a feeble attempt to stave off insanity?

In a fortuitous convergence of events, yesterday I heard Public Image Limited’s 1986 ditty “Rise” on the radio.  Curious, I looked up its video on YouTube.  Good grief, was it awful.  Exactly the kind of faux-earnest, quirky-punk, weird-concept garbage that we all thought was so profound in the 80’s.  In the video, Johnny Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), endeavors to raise our awareness of the seriousness of South African apartheid.  He does this by bouncing around, flailing his arms, and glaring sternly at the camera.  This video begs to be mocked.   

Here are two ideas: one part of the song’s refrain has Lydon chanting, “I could be black, I could be white.”  Really?  Hmm, we appear to have a mystery.  Let’s try to figure this puzzle out.  Skin so pale it’s practically transparent?  Check.  Bright orange hair?  Check.  Yup, I think it’s safe to say this guy’s white.  Case closed.  Next.

Another repeated element of the song–its only genuinely good part, really–is the chorus: “May the road rise with you.”  Perhaps when we hear this we can sing, “May the Force be with you.”  Catchy, no?


Great Paper Airplane

Thanks to longer days and warm weather, we rolled out a classic, favorite activity for family home evening tonight: paper airplanes.  My oldest son was excited to finally try out the plans for several cool planes in The Dangerous Book For Boys (a must have for every home). 

Those designs were good, but the big winner tonight was this one, dubbed the Rapier, which I found online this afternoon.  For each of us, it performed flawlessly.  It gives the kind of long, steady flight that kids love, and after we’d enjoyed that for a while, we were delighted again to find it easy to tweak: fold up the tips of the wings and/or put a couple of little tears in the backs of the wings for some neat tricks.  Not only will it also do loops, it will give you complete horizontal circles and sharp 180° turns, gliding in for gentle landings.  It’s a simple, durable model, guaranteed to entertain old and young alike.