Friday, September 17, 2010

A Word at Closing

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

A Word at Closing, by President Thomas S. Monson

I feel as I do at the end of each conference: full and empty at the same time! Full because of the many things learned and felt, because of the time with family sitting at the feet of prophets, because of being where I'm supposed to be. Empty because I want it to continue on and on, ever learning and growing closer to the Lord.

As is often repeated, President Monson charged us to study what was said in the conference. But that's not all: we're also to ponder the teachings and then apply them in our lives. This is the whole reason for these general conference application series that I write; I want to apply the teachings of the conference and help them to, as President Monson said, "find expression in all that you do—in your homes, in your work, in your meetings, and in all your comings and goings."

I love how words and themes seem to pop out of the screen every conference as though half of the speakers were asked to give modified talks on the same topic. (This may be amplified because each conference our children listen for a key word in each session. A word, that if heard, entitles them to a piece of candy! Each time the hear "family," or "love," or "gospel," or whatever other word is specified for that session, we all erupt in smiles and love.)

Elder Anderson observed:

There are no assigned subjects, no collaboration of themes. The Lord’s way, of course, is always the best way. He takes the individual prayerful efforts of each speaker and orchestrates a spiritual symphony full of revelation and power. Repeated themes, principle building upon principle, prophetic warnings, uplifting promises—the divine harmony is a miracle!

I decided to do a fun exercise to see what words were repeated more than others. I have seen fellow nerds at conferences I've been at display "word clouds" that represent themselves, their research, their hobbies, etc. I wanted to take all of the words from all of the talks and sort them to see which were more frequently used (with the common words removed, of course). The result is actually a fun graphic where the size of each word corresponds to relative frequency of its occurrence in conference. What words would you expect to "pop out of the screen"? (You can make your own Wordle word cloud here, link.)

Not surprising are the words for deity. I particularly liked seeing that my impressions that family-themed words were, indeed, quite frequent: children, father, mother, parents, young, family, love.

I wonder what words and themes will be noticed in next month's conference; I can hardly wait!


By the way, I finished a major draft of my PhD dissertation proposal today. With my curiosity sparked, I made another Wordle out of my proposal. It's funny that my water research proposal is shaped kind of like a fish!

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