I recently (14 Sep 2014) attended a LDS Regional Conference that was held in the BYU Marriott Center. At least 20,000 (mostly college-age students) were in attendance, with another 100,000 of the general membership watching in chapels around Utah and Wasatch Counties. (I was in attendance because my wife was singing in the choir at the Marriott Center.)
Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave the concluding speech. And it was a major disappointment.
As background, Elder Nelson is an “internationally renowned surgeon and medical researcher.” He has both a medical degree and a PhD. In other words, he is a well-educated man of science. At the Regional Conference, he had a great opportunity to deal with some of the real concerns that young people might have concerning the relevance of religion. Instead, he chose to talk about speculative-angel issues. Areas that I would consider to be the “mysteries.”
He dealt in some length on the theory that the Archangel Michael is really Adam (from the OT), and that the Angel Gabriel is really Noah (from the OT). For those of us who would rather believe in science and history, both a literal Adam and Noah are problematic. Their stories seem more like ancient myths than actual, historical biographies. How many members of the Church actually believe there was a flood that covered the entire earth? How many believe that Noah lived to be 900+ years old? If you believe in organic evolution, where does Adam fit in?
Not to leave mythology alone, Elder Nelson then went on to mention personages who have never tasted death: John and the 3 Nephites. So where is all this going?
Elder Nelson’s short conclusion was that there are non-celestial angels among us today. For example, people who do wonderful things at great personal sacrifice This is a wonderful message, but it was lost in all the OT literalism and eye-rolling speculation.
Elder Ballard, President Eyring, and others need to start discussing real-world issues. They have the educational and professional backgrounds to do it. Church members are looking for leaders who will lead, who will discuss real issues that members are concerned about. Apostle Widtsoe did this until his death in 1954, why can’t our leaders today deal with relevant issues? Why is the Archangel Michael/Adam theory important? It’s not.