Friday, February 1, 2008

The Beloved Gordon B. Hinckley: Man of Humor

My Dear Reader,

This was a man who will be forever remembered as the man who could elicit laughter from the pulpit. President Hinckley was never short on jokes, and they always came when you least expected it. When something was taking too long or not working out, President Hinckley would diffuse the situation with his singular sense of humor. A friend of mine once heard that during a tense meeting with others in the Church administration, things started to get out of hand, and people got a little more emotionally involved than necessary, at a crucial point in the meeting, one of the atendees turned to the Prophet to ask his opinion on the matter. President Hinckley said something to the effect of, "Well, I think that I shouldn't have had pork chops for lunch today, because they definitely do not agree with me." The story ends with the Church officials laughing at the Prophet's comment, and then are able to continue the meeting in a more appropriate manner.

Now, even though the story is a second or third-hand tale, and I can therefore offer no actual proof that it actually occured, I know that it is the kind of thing that President Hinckley would do. After all, I've watched him give dozens of speeches, and I know what kind of jokes he makes. They are always positive, meaning that they never, ever bring anyone down. President Hinckley was a man who never spoke ill of anyone, even when joking. Instead, he had the unique talent of pointing out very odd and humorous things in the average world. For example, in the last General Conference, when he offered his final address to the Church at large, he said something that absolutely no one expected: “Now, my brothers and sisters, we live with an interesting phenomenon. A soloist sings the same song again and again. An orchestra repeats the same music. But a speaker is expected to come up with something new every time he speaks. I am going to break that tradition this morning and repeat in a measure what I have said on another occasion.” Only President Hinckley would say something about that, and only President could get away with it. We all laughed as he explained to us his reasons, partly because of the way he delivered it, and partially because he presented something of an unnoticed paradox.

In fact, President Hinckley’s sense of humor is so well-known in the Church that we Mormons tend to laugh (with him, of course) any time he would do something that no one would expect, which was fairly often. Once, when my maternal grandparents were missionaries in Palmyra, there was a window in one of the building that was stuck so it was partially open. The problem still had yet to be fixed when President Hinckley came to visit him, but it wasn’t when he left, because President Hinckley had gone to the window and fixed it himself. What ninety-plus-year-old man goes and fixes a window like that? You just have to laugh at that, because you know that he would. After all, the instances where he made us laugh intentionally were too great to number.

If one thing is clear by now, it should be that President Hinckley, like his sense of humor, was incredibly singular. No one spoke like he did. No one loved the family like he did. No one was humble the same way he was. And I’m pretty sure that out of all of the people I knew, no one laughed like he did. That was why we loved him, and that is why we who knew him will always remember the special way that he touched our lives and turned them for good. There will be more prophets who will have the same authority as President Hinckley did, and the faithful will accept them, follow them, and be inspired by them until the Savior Himself reigns the Earth. But there will never be a prophet like President Hinckley. He was a unique individual, and he holds a place in our hearts that no one else can claim. He was our prophet, our guide, and in a very personal way, he was our friend. In his death, I honor him as I tried to in life, for he was a man who deserved it, if anyone does. It is my sincere hope that we will never forget what he has done for each of us on an individual level.

Regards, best wishes, and beloved memories,

-Cecily Jane

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cecily, these posts on President Hinckley are so touching. I like how you divided up blogs by his attributes. He was not a single blog prophet. MJH