If you are lucky enough to go to enough meetings, chances are you’ve heard the same story told numerous times by a General Authority. This came to mind the other day when in the Institute class I teach we were talking about Elder Jeffrey R. Holland powerful talk (The First Great Commandment) from the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference. One of the students said that he had heard the talk about a year or more before. He was a missionary in one of the missions in Russia, and apparently Elder Holland had given that talk to mission presidents in Europe with a slightly different twist (it was more about missionary work than about love/commitment).
I had the same sort of experience when I was a YSA. I had attended a few different regional conferences over a period of a year. Vaughn J Featherstone spoke at each one of them and gave the same talk at each one of them.
Whenever I hear or experience that, my first reaction is, “That stinks. Why didn’t they write a new talk?” But then I think about the number of times a year that these leaders speak, and this goes on for anywhere from 5-50 years (depending on what position they hold). There is no way they could come up with hundreds or thousands of new talks and topics over their “career”. Even President Hinckley’s invitation to read the Book of Mormon a few years ago was a repeat of the same invitation he had given years before that.
Ultimately I’m ok with this. I guess in a way it is just like a lot of other things in the Church. We are always taught the same general principles because the Gospel doesn’t change and because we haven’t kept the commandments as we should. Maybe when we are more on the ball we’ll hear some new things.