At 10:34 PM 11/03/2003 -0500, you wrote:
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
> To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> 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 October, 2003
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