Something I've been curious about the past year or so are the trends of focus of LDS General Authorities in General Conference -- what topics are they focused on now, and how does that compare to the focus in those areas from years past?
So, I downloaded all the General Conference transcripts for the past 16 years, then took all the topics from the True to the Faith book, added a few of my own, and wrote a script to count the use of those keywords in each conference. You can see a list of the terms at the bottom of this post. Below are some of the interesting findings.
Caveat -- I'm just doing word-scans here, trying to catch synonyms and plurals, but I haven't done a detailed review of the texts. Take this for what it's worth.
Click on a graph to see it full size.
- What are the most common terms from this last conference?
- What topic saw the biggest jump in focus from past conferences?
You see the biggest jump in the plot above -- "councils". This doesn't surprise me much, given the focus on Teacher and Family Councils.
What else do we see here? Increased focus on family, ordinances, baptism, and temples. That means that this last conference saw more mentions of those terms than any previous conference.
(Sidenote -- do you see "Birth Control" on there? Turns, out, that term has not been mentioned once in General Conference in the last 16 years -- not once. So its "increase" was -zero-, which landed it a spot at number 9.)
- Anything surprising?
I thought I hadn't heard much about gardens lately, but it seems pretty steady.
Given the magnitude of problem that pornography is in our society, it's surprising to see that reference to it in General Conference peaked in 2005 and, stunningly, was not mentioned even once this past conference. I wonder if this reflects the guidance to "resist not evil" (don't focus on fighting evil...), but to keep "an eye single to the glory of God" (focus on our Savior and doing good).
Seems like I heard a lot about journals growing up, but not much lately.
- Which topics have been the strongest over the years?
Not too different from number 1 above -- but as always, I'm proud to be a member of a church where "Love" and "Jesus Christ", "Faith" and "Family" are at the top of our list.
Here's the list of keywords I used (converted from regexes): Adversity, Agency, Alcohol, Apostasy, Apostle, Area Authority, Articles of Faith, Atonement, Baptism, Bible, Birth Control, Bishop, Body Piercing, Book of Mormon, Born Again, Celestial Kingdom, Charity, Chastity, Church Administration, Comforter, Confirmation, Conscience, Contributions, Conversion, Council, Covenant, Creation, Cross, Crucifixion, Deacon, Debt, Devil, Disciplinary or Discipline, Divorce, Doctrine and Covenants, Drugs, Education, Elder, Endowment, Eternal Life, Exaltation, Faith, Fall, Family, Family History, Family Home Evening, Family Prayer, Fast Offerings, Fasting, First Presidency, Foreordination, Forgiveness, Fornication, Gambling, Gardens, Garments, Genealogy, General Authorities, Gifts of the Holy Ghost, Gifts of the Spirit, God the Father, Godhead, Gospel, Government, Grace, Gratitude, Happiness, Heaven, Heavenly Father, Hell, Holy Ghost, Home Teaching, Honesty, Hope, Hot Drinks, Coffee, Tea, Humility, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Journals, Judging Others, Justice, Keys of the Priesthood, Kingdoms of Glory, Laying On of Hands, Light of Christ, Love, Marriage, Melchizedek Priesthood, Mercy, Millennium or millenial, Missionary Work, Modesty, Obedience, Ordinances, Original Sin, Paradise, Patriarchal Blessings, Peace, Pearl of Great Price, Personal Revelation, Physical Death, Plan of Salvation, Pornography, Prayer, Premortal Existence, Priest, Priesthood, Profanity, Prophecy, Prophets, Quorum, Quorum of the Twelve, Quorums of the Seventy, Relief Society, Repentance, Restoration, Resurrection, Revelation, Reverence, Sabbath, Sacrament, Sacrament Meeting, Sacrifice, Salvation, Same-sex, homosexuality, Satan, Saved, Scriptures, Second Coming, Service, Seventy, Sex, Sexual Immorality, Signs, Sin, Soul, Spirit, Spirit Prison, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of the Lord, Spiritual Death, Spiritual Gifts, Stake, Standard Works, Sunday, Swearing, Tattoo, Teaching the Gospel, Telestial Kingdom, Temples, Temptation, Ten Commandments, Terrestrial Kingdom, Testimony, Tithing, Tobacco, Unity, Visiting Teaching, War, Ward, Welfare, Word of Wisdom, Worship, Zion