Professor highlights humor of church leaders


    By Nathan Moulton

    Lawrence Flake began his Tuesday morning Education Week lecture with a ?Peanuts? cartoon. He then went on to tell funny stories about many past general authorities and presidents of the church ? some illustrating their sense of humor, others showing their human side.

    Flake, a professor of church history and doctrine at BYU, used a quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer to teach about humor: ?The most important thing about a sense of humor is the sense part.?

    Flake related a story about Joseph Smith, when a Campbellite preacher challenged the prophet to convince him of the truthfulness of the gospel. Joseph?s explanation did not satisfy the man. He said he needed to see a miracle performed in order to believe, and if he didn?t, he would be Joseph?s worst enemy.

    ?What would you have done?? the prophet asked. ?Will you be struck blind or deaf??

    The church?s next leader, President Brigham Young, was well known for his sense of humor.

    ?It was kind of sharp and not everybody appreciated his sense of humor,? Flake said.

    On one occasion, a woman went to President Young and said her husband had told her to go to Hell.

    ?What should I do?? she asked.

    ?Don?t go,? President Young replied.

    Another prophet, President David O. McKay, liked to drive, Flake said. He may have had a weakness for speeding, though.

    One day President McKay was driving near Ogden when he was pulled over for speeding. At his insistence, the reluctant policeman gave the prophet a ticket ? a story that made it into the Ogden newspaper.

    When President McKay saw the article, he wrote a letter to the editor, thanking him for publishing the story in order to quell the rumors that the prophet was slowing down.

    Flake said he couldn?t talk about the humor of LDS leaders without mentioning J. Golden Kimball, the general authority known for his somewhat profane remarks in General Conference.

    Somebody once told Elder Kimball that he shouldn?t use such words, because President Heber J. Grant would never use them.

    ?Yes he would,? said Elder Kimball. ?I heard him one time. He and I were down in Southern Utah and it was a terrible drought. I said, ?President, this is a damn shame.?

    ?He said, ?Yes it is.??

    Flake will continue his lectures on humor each day through Friday, at 9:50 a.m. in the JSB auditorium.

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