By Sam Scorup
LDS Church leaders have found a sensible way to be humorous without being offensive or hurtful, Lawrence R. Flake said Tuesday as part of BYU”s Education Week.
Flake referred to the quotes of past and present church leaders in saying it was important to learn to lighten up and laugh at one”s self.
“God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured Being,” Elder Heber C. Kimball said in a quote shared by Flake. “Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively and good natured when I have His Spirit.”
When the new Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni & Visitors Center opened, the prophet mentioned BYU buildings are generally named after those who have died. President Hinckley said maybe President Cecil O. Samuelson would settle for naming the center after someone who was “half dead.”
On a different occasion, President Hinckley saw a sign at the temple saying sealing ordinances should last no more than 30 minutes.
“Shouldn”t a sealing last forever?” President Hinckley said.
Church leaders, however, have cautioned to use good judgment when being humorous, Flake said.
“The most important thing about a sense of humor is the sense part,” said Elder Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Council of the Twelve, in a quote shared by Flake.
Even LDS Church leaders have a history of harsh humor. In the mid-1850s, U.S. president Zachary Taylor died. According to Flake, the prophet Brigham Young said at a general conference, “Zachary Taylor has died and gone to hell.”
Later, when government officials warned the prophet to apologize publicly or he would find himself in trouble, President Young addressed the issue in the next conference session.
“Zachary Taylor has died and gone to hell,” he said. “And I am sorry.”
Flake shared the story of the father of presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney, former Michigan governor George Romney, who was asked by a heckler how many wives Brigham Young had. When George Romney said he didn”t know, the heckler wasn”t satisfied.
Romney answered he would ask Brigham Young the question upon dying and going to heaven.
“But what if Brigham Young didn”t make it to heaven?” the heckler said.
“Well, I guess you can ask him then,” Romney said.
Humor can be helpful in many ways, Flake said. President James E. Faust gave children”s blessings in which he blessed babies to have a sense of humor to be able to handle their problems and not be too rigid in the future.
Flake also recommended starting a collection of humor.
“Borrow [humor] shamelessly from the brethren,” he said.
Flake referenced quotes from not only the general authorities, but also from a pop culture icon.
“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone,” singer Reba McEntire said in a quote shared by Flake.