What an arduous but inspiring undertaking. I think this would be something every Church member could learn from.
The General Conference Odyssey is a simple if somewhat audacious concept. A group of Mormon bloggers decided that it would be a good idea to read every single General Conference talk starting in April 1971 (the first session easily available online) and proceeding—at a rate of one session per week—until we’re caught up. Every Tuesday we each publish a blog post about our favorites talks from the last session we read, and we also link to each other’s posts.
We called it the General Conference Odyssey because if future General Conferences stick to the current, 6-session format, then in the summer of 2029 we will re-read the April 2029 sessions before the October 2029 General Conference begins. If future General Conferences have more sessions, then it will take us longer. If they have fewer sessions, then we will get there faster. Since we got started in 2015, we’re looking at a project that will last about 14 years. “Odyssey” seemed appropriate.
For me, the idea started growing after I read a quote from an October 1981 General Conference talk by President Hinckley (Faith: The Essence of True Religion) that Mormon blogger J. Max Wilson posted on Facebook. It wasn’t that I loved the quote. It was actually rather the opposite: the quote challenged me. I spent a couple of weeks musing about that, and eventually wrote a blog post expressing my reflections on the talk (The Assurance of Love). As part of that blog post, I wrote this paragraph:
President Hinckley’s talk was given 34 years ago… I did not know that it existed until last week… And I must confess a sense of shame as I read it for the first time and realized that this past year was the first year (since my mission) that I even tried to listen to all the sessions of General Conference. How many more talks have been given over my lifetime that I have never heard? Never read? Never considered? I say that I sustain the apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators, and yet I have nearly two centuries of their official talks given in General Conference and I have never even considered that I might want to go back and systematically read them to see what they had to say. I think it’s time I change that.