Like me, some of you may suffer from increasingly short-term memory loss and
others here don't know me at all. So an introduction.

Perhaps the best personal introduction is embodied in a  message I recently
sent to the members of Mormon-L, responding to a request that I comment on
President Hinckley's ego.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christian Kamler [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
> Sent: Monday, October 27, 2003 9:30 PM
> Subject: Re: [Mormon-l] General Conference
Ø       I wonder if Ron could comment on his impressions of the man with regard to
ego. Some have felt there is some possibility of that.<

--Ron Scott Responds--

I'm not sure whether the last sentence above refers to President Hinckley's
"ego," or that some here felt I may be willing to share my impressions of
him.  I'll assume it's a reference to both.

Some background: GBH was my dad's seminary teacher at South High; after
serving a mission to Brazil (and Navy, for The Big WWII) my dad served under
him on a team assigned to translate the D&C, TPOGP, into Portuguese; GBH was
a counselor in the stake presidency when our family moved to East Millcreek
in 1955; my dad briefly tutored his oldest daughter,  in chemistry; his
middle daughter, Virginia (Virginia Hinckley Pearce), was my closest friend
in high school and early college (a short-story I wrote about her in college
launched my career as a writer) and, as a result, I have spent many hours in
the Hinckley home, tended the younger Hinckley children; since college, as a
journalist I have had several professional encounters (in NYC and SLC) with
GBH, directly and indirectly; Wendall Ashton, GBH's life-long friend and
former missionary companion and church public communications director,
former publisher of the Deseret News, was a good friend of mine as well (his
daughter was also a close friend in high school/college).

So to the question: "Does GBH have an ego?"  The answer: "Don't we all?" The
implied question: "Does GBH have an out-sized ego?"  The answer: "No."
Would he be delighted if the new conference center was renamed in his honor
after he's gone?  Assuming he’s in a condition to be delighted about
anything, I'd imagine the answer would be "yes."  I'd be delighted if the
Powers That Be selected the alternative name: The Scott Conference Center --
in honor of my father, of course.

Seriously, he has never impressed me as being arrogant (I can't say that of
others I know in the FP and Q12).  But "determined" and "confidant" and
"pragmatic?"  Yes.  Absolutely yes.

Does he have a testimony of God? Yes he does. I have heard him pray at home
many times. No audience. It was like listening to one side of a telephone
conversation between old friends.

And, as I wrote above, he is pragmatic. Although I can’t verify the
authenticity of the account of his meeting in the temple with bishops and
stake presidents, the report is consistent with what I sensed of his
approach to the gospel. To wit and I paraphrase: take it one step at a time,
apply what you know to be “true” hoping that it will lead you to the next
discovery of “truth;” if the Joseph Smith story leaves you cold, focus
on/apply what he taught – it will make you a better man, father, citizen.

I sensed that his “pragmatic” approach to the gospel may have been the root
cause of his reaction to the Salamander letter. My words: he may have been
so familiar with the "hocus-pocus" elements of our history, that he figured
the forged (as it turned out) document could be yet another troublesome
historical artifact.  As he was more interested in the “good” the gospel
does in the lives of people, he may have felt it was his responsibility to
eliminate or suppress something that may turn away people who would
otherwise benefit greatly by applying the gospel in their everyday lives.  I
seek not to justify his reaction to the letter – it puzzled me as much as it
did anyone – however I do think “pragmatism” and “doing the greater good”
may have driven and shaped his reaction.

Some would love it if he would openly forsake the  “magical” aspects of
church history. Some  would love it if more focus was placed on the
practical aspects of Mormonism rather than the things that are harder to
swallow. Of course some gripe that so much has been changed and ignored,
that we’re getting rather too much like the Anglicans and Presbyterians.  I
mean, who’d-a-thunk there would be an official lesson finally clarifying the
“grace” business (I haven’t read the lesson, but I’ll bet I can guess it’s
central message: but for Christ’s freely-granted grace, we would be toast,
no matter our good works).

Liberals gripe that GBH is The Flack-meister, the personification of the
organization man; fundamentalists and conservatives worry that he fits the
description of a Korihor or Signaturi, the proverbial wolf in sheep’s
clothing. And Mike Wallace and Larry King thought he was the closest thing
to Jesus they’d ever interviewed.

I like him.  I especially like the fact that over his years at the top of
the pyramid, he has nearly succeeded in kicking the Church from the 19th
Century into the 21st.  In my opinion, he produced because he remained
focused on practical matters – things that are important to people inside
and outside the church.  He avoided getting bogged down in obsessive
split-hair doctrinal debates and the unsettling aspects of Mormon History,
which, arguably, only detract from applying practical aspects of Mormonism
in the here and now.

Would he like to be fondly remembered?  He will be.  By me.


Enough said? I'm glad to be here.  And, thanks again John for inviting me
back for a fourth try.

Warm Regards to all,

Ron Scott

Ron Scott
October, 2003

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