Laughter in General Conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
By Ken K. Gourdin
Here’s a thread at Times & Seasons about levity in General Conference (all links last accessed today):
And here is my contribution:
Annie (#11): “I loved the time right after Pres. Monson was called as the Prophet, when he wiggled his ears, as part of a story he was telling. I recall several seconds of laughter.”
It must be watched to be appreciated!
In that same talk, he also tells the story of a young boy who went up to the podium to bear his testimony, but lost his nerve, returned to his seat, and sat down without saying anything, implying he knew how that young boy felt and saying, sheepishly, “I can’t do that.”
Here’s another one. This, alas, is an unscripted moment of levity; but those, I think, are often the best. Years ago, I remember President Marion G. Romney in the First Presidency giving a masterful discourse on Priesthood power. I mean, it was really good, and he really got into it, but he had to stop midway through because the pages from which he was reading had apparently gotten out of order. (I’m not sure what the state of the art for Teleprompters was at the time, but I doubt his vision was good enough that he could have used one then, anyway. He was silent for several seconds but for the shuffling of pages as he tried to find his place. Finally, he looked up and said, “I don’t have the power to find the pages!” (I’m with you, President Romney!) Granted, I’m just middle aged, but frankly, my vision has never been that good: while I try to be prepared enough to not simply read a prepared text, I don’t like speaking without at least a rough outline of what I’m going to say, and to ensure (as much as possible) that I don’t have a problem finding my place if I need to refer to my notes/text, they’re not in 10- or 12-point font, but, rather, in 14- or even 16-point font!
Not to turn a thread about levity unduly serious, but I appreciate these moments when our leaders, notwithstanding the fact that they are called of God, show us their human side: Such moments give me hope that God might even find ways to use a schlub like me. Other than, perhaps, the magnitude of the call, our leaders aren’t all that much different than the rank-and-file. All of us have been asked to serve; all of us have felt inadequate and have wondered how we can possibly measure up to what we’re being asked to do; and all of us, perhaps with a sigh and a instant prayer, have accepted the call anyway, trusting that God somehow will make of us what He needs us to be in His service. (Incidentally, that reminds me of the reaction of one Elder Steven E. Snow’s ancestors when the ancestor was called to go settle southern Utah, which Elder Snow talked about in General Conference a few years ago. Elder Snow said, “He looked and spat, took off his hat, and said, ‘Alright.'” There! More levity! Hope I haven’t ruined the thread! ;-D)