Stories in General Conference and in their context

I spent the day in Jerusalem today. I will have a lot of spiritual reflections about my experience but I am now watching the sunday morning general conference session and during Elder Uchtdorf’s talk I came upon the story of the two brothers sharing the harvest and desiring to give the other a little bit more. This struck out at me because I heard this very story in a very different context today.

I took a free tour in the old city today and at the end of the tour after we’d explored all four areas of the city and seen the complex ethnic and religious tensions told us the very same story as a story of hope. This story is told as one of the origin stories for the temple mount. The two brothers meet halfway on their fields and drop their grain in an enormous pile thus leading to the formation of a mount. The story is meant to illustrate that the temple was formed on the basis of brotherly love and sharing rather than hatred or vitriol.

I found it so interesting and jarring to listen to the same story in very different contexts. Of course, in different contexts different details are emphasized. This leads me to reflect on the nature of the First Vision among others things Different stories are told in different ways to deliver different moral messages.