Monday, January 28, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley

I was going to note other things, but I'm going to stop to take note of the death of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. I suppose I'm dating myself to remember David O. McKay as the Church president in his declining years, then Joseph Fielding Smith, and the unexpectedly early death of Harold B. Lee, and the dynamic leadership of Spencer W. Kimball. As President Kimball's health, and then those of his counselors declined, Gordon B. Hinckley was called on to act as the first Presidency's Executive. The same thing happened with Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter.

I had long been impressed with President Hinkley's manner: his unflinching denunciation of abuse of family, pornography, and other modern ills; his good humor, and his optimism. I remember thinking and even saying that if there was such thing as a man of God, he was one.

That impression never changed. He encouraged LDS to be less clannish and more welcoming of those who believe differently, he encouraged members to be just a little bit better on a daily basis, he initiated a widespread program of temple-building in corners of the earth which otherwise would have had no temples, he initiated the Perpetual Education Fund for the education of returned missionaries (and other youth) in developing countries, encouraged Humanitarian efforts on a wide scale, and in countless other ways, in both word and deed, set examples for all.

I must confess that I don't have the same feeling for President Monson, whom I expect to occupy the office of President of the Church. I know that a great many church members already love him and I will certainly sustain him. In a different way, he also is a godly man. But he hasn't yet touched my heart in the same way. President Hinckly articulated and confirmed many of the teachings and truths I hold nearest and dearest. I will miss him.

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