I learned something listening to Brother Durrant’s talk at General Conference, which I got to hear this past weekend.
What I learned: that it is never wise to choose a topic to speak on in church based upon 1) a practice that you feel you are very good at or 2) a practice that you created and used with energy and enthusiasm in a previous calling. His was a talk built on a framework of favorite behaviors, not gospel preaching. Yes there was some gospel, but the framework was behaviors. And an effective sermon must have gospel as its framework and it must be spoken with a keen sense of one’s own inadequacies, not one’s sense of success.
Brother Durrant did both numbers 1 and 2. He spoke about finances and saving (his professional field, in which, I gather, he as been successful) and about the “ponderize” plan that he implemented with great enthusiasm as a mission president in Texas.
As a result, like all talks of that type, the talk simply did not carry the weight and power that a conference talk can when it is simply very thoughtful, inspired, humble explanations of essential truths and divine inspiration.
The enthusiastic merchandising by his son only pointed out again that “ponderizing” was a family tradition, a practice enthusiastically embraced and enjoyed and found to be helpful by an LDS family. And simply that.
And I think that the merchandising plan put together by his son shows a concerning combining of capitalism and gospel that, if it were my son, would get the thorough kibosh from me.
Ultimately, I feel sorry for Brother Durrant. If he has not learned what he needed to learn from the experience, I feel sorry for him for that. If he has or does learn what he needs to from this experience, it will be a heavy and troubling load for to him to carry as he serves in his new calling, knowing that it was likely the only opportunity he will have to speak in that forum, and that he had fallen short of the mark to serve it as wisely as he could have.
So probably my wisest response will be to pray for him.